The Scope of the Wife’s Obedience

Regarding the scope of wife’s obedience to her husband, below is a well detailed explanation on it by Dr. Salah Sultan:

There are four major objectives of marriage in Islam. These are as follows: (1) tranquility, (2) romance and sexual pleasure, (3) begetting children, and (4) increasing or expanding (one’s) relations.

To fulfill the above, there has to be agreement, shura (consultation), and understanding in marriage. If the husband divorces his wife and she is breastfeeding, then shura or mutual consultation is obligatory for the sake and benefit of the children. Scholars say that if shura is an obligation between them for how the children are breastfed after the divorce, then, in fortiori,  it is mandatory during the marriage.

Therefore, man should be obeyed in ma`ruf, and the ma`ruf is threefold:

1) wajib (obligatory) like ordering the wife to wear hijab or offer obligatory prayers, etc.
2) mandub (recommendable) like asking the wife to lower her voice or to visit a sister or someone in order to help her;
3) mubah (permissible) like asking her to go out with him to a certain place or to make a certain food, etc.

It is makruh (disliked) and haram (forbidden) for him to order what is makruh or haram. For example, it is not permissible to listen to him when he is requesting her to go out in tight clothes; or when he is asking her to buy lottery, maintain severe relations with parents, or not to wear hijab.

Husband’s right is tied to his ability to provide financial support. If he does not financially support his wife, he loses the right, due to the verse in the Qur’an: “Men are responsible and in charge (qawamun) because of what Allah has given them and because of what they spend…” (Al-Nisaa’: 34)

On the other hand, it is better for the wife to discuss matters with her husband. My advice to every wife is to talk to her husband’s heart before his mind. A husband needs someone to appeal to his heart before reason. The intelligent woman knows how to convince her husband with her femininity and by capturing his heart. Then it is easy to convince him rationally. What many women may do is to criticize their husbands’ decisions and opinions and discuss them rationally and by raising their voice. This only makes the man more insistent on his decision or opinion. Umm Salamah, the Mother of the Faithful, was able to convince the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) lovingly with a very critical religious and political opinion after the Hudaybiyah Treaty.