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What are the limits to a husbands control over his wife?

Q:

Salaam, I have always had disagreements with my husband on certain issues. Namely, the way I dress, talk, walk etc. I am a practicing Muslim and I abide by more than the necessary requirements pertaining to hijab. But my husband demands that I for example wear only black scarves, shushs me in public when I may be speaking to my kids in a raised voice, expects me to accept and oblige by not allowing me to ask male shopkeepers the price of products etc.

This has been going on for ten years and obviously this has mentally been straining for both of us. He wants me to submit but I always grew up knowing that certain lines cannot be crossed. I have asked a famous shia aalim this before and he has said a husband has control over only 2 : leaving the house and intimacy. He mentioned he had no control over my appearance. So I ask again: does he have any right over determining my attire especially if I fulfill more than the necessary? Telling me if I can or can’t speak to a shopkeeper? Demanding that I don’t cross my legs while I sit? Refusing me to wear a coloured scarf? Etc. Where is the red line?

Thank you for the effort

A:

In the Name of Allah, the All-Beneficent, the All-Merciful.
Wa-Alaykum Assalam Wa Rahmtu-Allah,

Jurisprudentially, the answer you received previously is correct.

In terms of moral and ethical characteristics, your husband must approach the manner of your dress, walk and talk in a manner that shows respect and high moral standards. He must lift you spiritually and not force you, just as you should lift him spiritually. If he has an opinion about how you should do certain things because they are “islamically prescribed” (as opposed to culturally defined and expected) then he should show you proof of such (From your Jurist) and have a genuine discussion on the topic so that you can reach an understanding together.

I am sure he wants the best for you and you want the best for him, and the best for both of you is communication.

Lets address each item:
Black scarves – is not necessary if in the general population if coloured scarves are worn. The scarf should not be one that stands out. For instance, in some countries if you wear a black scarf you would stand out! however, if everyone wears a black scarf then yes, you should also wear a black scarf.
Raised voice – of course, our voices (both men and women) should be lowered and perhaps more important for women as the voice of a woman attracts the attention of other men. However, at times it is necessary. Those times are the subject of definition and subjective.
Asking male assistants: If there is no risk of sin and does not provoke desire there is nothing wrong with asking male assistants. Especially if in a public place with others around.
Crossing legs – not sure how/why – a proper hijab should cover the legs so there is no shape of the leg showing and so this should not be an issue.
Hope that helps.

S.L. Al-Hakim
Regards,