We’d like to state that in Islam the marriage of a man and a woman is not just a financial and physical arrangement of living together but a sacred contract, a gift of God, to lead a happy, enjoyable life and continue the lineage. The main goal of marriage in Islam is the realization of tranquillity and compassions between the spouses. For the attainment of this supreme goal, Islam defined certain duties and rights for the husband and wife.
Dr. Su`aad Salih, professor of Fiqh at Al-Azhar Univ., states: “The maximum limit a husband is allowed to be away from his wife is four months, or six months according to the view of the Hanbali scholars. This is the maximum period a woman can endure separation from her husband.
Commentators of the Glorious Qur’an narrate the following incident in support of this opinion.
One night Caliph `Umar ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) was making his rounds of Madinah when he heard a woman singing:
The night is long, darkness all around me;
I am sleepless, for I have no friend to play with.
By Allah, had there been no fear of Him,
This cot would be shaking from side to side.
Upon investigation, `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) found that the woman’s husband had been on a military expedition for a long time. He then asked his daughter, Hafsah, a widow of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), “How long can a woman endure separation from her husband?” She replied, “Four months.” As a consequence, he decided that he would not send a married man away from his wife for a period exceeding four months. However, if a wife agrees to give up this right for more than this period, then it is lawful and there is no wrong in this.”
Mufti Ibrahim Desai adds:
“A married person may stay away from his wife for whatever period that was mutually agreed upon. However, if the wife is not happy regarding the husband staying away, then the husband should meet his wife at least once every four months.”