The late prominent Muslim scholar and author of Fiqh As-Sunnah, Sheikh Sayyed Sabiq states the following: “The Hanafis are of the view that the rate of a wife’s sustenance is not specified by Shari`ah, and that the husband is responsible for providing his wife with the sufficient rate of food, fruit, oil and butter and all known means of sustenance that differ according to place, time and circumstances. The husband is also required to provide his wife with clothing in winter and summer.
Moreover, the Hanafis maintain the opinion that the rate of the wife’s sustenance should be determined according to the husband’s financial ability, whether he is well-off or poor, regardless of the wife’s financial status. That opinion is based on Allah’s saying: “Let him who has abundance spend of his abundance, and he whose provision is measured let him spend of that which Allah hath given him. Allah asketh naught of any soul save that which he has given it Allah vouchsafe, after hardship, ease.” (At-Talaq: 7) Allah also says: “Lodge them where ye dwell, according to your wealth.” (At-Talaq: 6)
As for Shafi`i jurists, they did not leave the matter to be determined according to what suffices a wife, but said that a wife’s sustenance is exactly specified by Shari`ah, although they agree with the Hanafis that the husband’s financial status should be taken into consideration, and that a well-to-do husband who can maintain his wife with his own money and earnings has to provide her with two mudd (measure of food) a day, a poor one who cannot maintain his wife has to provide her with one mudd a day while a husband of moderate means should provide his wife with one and half mudd. Supporting their view, the Shafi`i jurists quote the verse that reads: “Let him who hath abundance spend of his abundance.”(At-Talaq: 7)
They also said that Allah has distinguished between the affluent and the poor husband and made each one responsible to provide only what he can afford and did not specify the exact rate so it has to be specified by personal judgment. Actually, the case of a wife’s sustenance is similar to that of expiation (kaffarah) because both cases are of providing food for the hungry, the maximum rate of expiation is a mudd for the needy – that is in the case of offering an expiation for violating the sanctity of ihram (in pilgrimage) – and the minimum rate is a mudd in case of expiation for having sex during fasting hours in Ramadan. But if the person is of moderate means he has to give one and a half mudd, for he can neither be equated with the rich nor with the poor; he is in between both of them. They also added that if the rate of sustenance were left completely unspecified, endless disputes would then arise. Therefore, it has to be determined according to the equitable way of maintaining one’s wife.
The Shafi`is also said that in addition to being provided with enough food, the wife has the right to be provided with appropriate clothing according to what her husband can afford. The wife is also entitled to a lodging that is to be furnished according to her husband’s means. Moreover, they stated that if the husband was poor, he should give his wife the minimum requirements of food and clothing according to the equitable way of maintaining one’s wife. While a husband of moderate means should give more than that also according to the equitable way of maintaining one’s wife. Actually, the rate of sustenance should be determined according to the equitable way because avoiding any harm to one’s wife is a must.”