In principle, the husband is held responsible for the maintenance (nafaqah) of his wife and children regardless of his wife being poor or well-off. If the wife works outside the house, she is responsible for the charges and financial requirements of her work, such as transportation and clothes; however, the husband is not allowed to take his wife’s salary by force.
Sheikh Muhammad Al-Bahyy, former dean of the Faculty of Theology (Usul Ad-Din) at Al-Azhar University (may Allah have mercy on his soul) stated that: Women in the point of view of Islam are independent with respect to their wealth, character, belief, and so on. On marriage both spouses are to preserve their rights to independence. Yet there are mutual rights (and duties) that they both are to observe in their marital life. Allah Almighty says, “And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in kindness, and men are a degree above them. Allah is Mighty, Wise” (Al-Baqarah: 228).
The degree that men have over their wives, according to this verse, has to do with their responsibility of maintaining their families and their capacity of making and carrying out the final decisions with regard to the family after joint consultation with all family members, especially the wife. In fact, consultation is a fundamental principle in Islam; Allah Almighty describes the true believers saying: “Those who hearken to their Lord and establish regular Prayer; who (conduct) their affairs by mutual Consultation” (Ash-Shura: 38).
The wives’ right to the entire ownership of their mahr (dower), which is given to them by their husbands, indicates their financial independence. It is not lawful for a man to take the mahr, or a part of it, back from his wife except in two cases: if the wife remits it voluntarily, or if she gives it back to him in return for divorce from him.
About the first case, Almighty Allah says: “And give the women (on marriage) their dower as a free gift; but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, Take it and enjoy it with right good cheer” (An-Nisa’: 4).
And about the second He Almighty says: “And it is not lawful for you to take any part of what you have given them, unless both fear that they cannot keep within the limits of Allah; then if you fear that they cannot keep within the limits of Allah, there is no blame on them for what she gives up to become free thereby” (Al-Baqarah: 229).
As it is the case with mahr, the wife has full ownership of her other sources of wealth such as her salary. It is not lawful for the husband to take part or all of his wife’s salary unless she gives it to him voluntarily. Should a husband coerce his wife, physically or verbally, to give him part or all of her salary, this would be regarded as a kind of ghasb (taking by force), which is not lawful in Islam. To expiate for taking something by force, one has to give back what one has taken in this way. The marriage contract does not entitle a man to coerce his wife to do something against her will or change a belief at any rate.
Related to salaries and how to spend them, one should remember to avoid extravagance. Islam prevents extravagance, but at the same time, it allows enjoyment of the lawful pleasures of this world.
In other words, Muslims may enjoy the lawful pleasures of this life, but they are to do so in a moderate manner. Almighty Allah, describing His true servants, says: “O children of Adam! attend to your embellishments at every time of prayer, and eat and drink and be not extravagant; surely He does not love the extravagant” (Al-A`raf: 31).