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In the Islamic realm, the institution of marriage enjoins rights upon both the wife and the husband. Islam is a religion of equality and fairness, where no one is superior to another except in their level of faith – nothing more. Even in today’s world, people, especially women, remain unaware of the immense number of rights the Almighty has bestowed them with.“And they (women) have rights (over their husbands) similar (to those of their husbands) over them (as regards obedience and respect) to what is reasonable” (Quran 2:228)
In Islam, the wife’s rights are hers and hers alone. A woman’s identity is irrespective of another; she is her own person and Allah (SWT) demands it to be so. Let us look at some of the major rights wives possess in the realm of Islam.
A wife has a set of financial and non-financial rights over her husband:
1- Dowry (Mahr)
Dowry is a set amount of money, which the wife is legally entitled to once the marriage contract is signed and consummated. The husband is legally bound to pay the designated amount to his wife. The dowry essentially stands as a token of safety, regard, and honor for the wife. In the Holy Quran, Allah (SWT) states:
“And give to the women (whom you marry) their ‘Mahr’ with a good heart” (Quran 4:4)
Islam stipulates that it is incumbent upon the husband to provide accommodation and fulfill the necessities/needs (i.e. food, housing, clothing etc.) for his wife to the best of his capabilities. The husband can do this while staying within his means at the time. It is obligatory on the husbands in Islam to spend on their wives (in a reasonable manner) and take care of them financially. In the Prophet’s (PBUH) last sermon, he said:
As narrated by Jabir, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) said in his Farewell Sermon:“Fear Allah concerning women! Verily you have taken them on the security of Allah, and intercourse with them has been made lawful unto you by words of Allah…Their rights upon you are that you should provide them with food and clothing in a fitting manner” (Muslim, 1218)
1- Respect and kindness
The Holy Prophet (PBUH) greatly emphasized on the kind treatment of women, especially wives. The husband must treat his wife with the utmost respect and dignity – nothing less! He must be good to her and be cognizant of her feelings and emotions as well.It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: ‘Be kind to women.’” (Bukhari, 3153)
2- Fair and equal treatment
In the case of co-wives, Islam stipulates that the husband must treat all his wives equally (if he has more than one wife at a time). It is each wife’s right to be treated equally in all manners including the amount of time spent with them, the nights spent with them, the amount of spending on them etc.
3- Not to be harmed
The husband is to be the protector of his wife and not to bring any harm upon her. It is his duty to take care of her, physically and emotionally. The husband is not to abuse his wife physically, emotionally or sexually. The wife is essentially under the protection of her husband, hence it is the husband’s responsibility to make sure he fulfills his duty.
Islam is a religion of ease and fairness. Where women have rights, men also have rights. Where men have rights, women also have rights – it’s a spectrum of equality where each and every individual is equal in the eyes of Allah (SWT). Moreover, it is important that women are aware of what they are entitled to and what rights they possess - that is a basic human right.
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