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Thus when they fulfil their term appointed, either take them back on equitable terms or part with them on equitable terms; and take for witness two persons from among you, endued with justice, and establish the evidence (as) before Allah. Such is the admonition given to him who believes in Allah and the Last Day. And for those who fear Allah, He (ever) prepares a way out,

Marriage, as stated previously, is a strong bond by means of which Allah joins a man and a woman. While they are “single” as individual human beings, after marriage they are termed a “couple.” Marriage makes of them a pair, and thus the sorrow and joy of the one are equally the sorrow and joy of the other. The Qur’an describes this bond in beautiful and vivid language: …They (wives) are your garments and you are their garments…. (2:187) meaning that each is the protection, the covering, the support, and the adornment of the other. (AI-Tirmidhi transmitted that Abu Hurairah reported Allah’s Messenger (peace be on him) as saying, “The Believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best disposition, and the best of you are those who are best to their wives.” In a hadith narrated by ‘Aishah, the last words are “and are kindest to their families,” as transmitted by al-Tirmidhi. (Trans.))

Each of the two spouses has rights in regard to the other which must be recognized and which are not to be diminished. These mutual rights are equivalent except in relation to what is particular to men by virtue of their natural position, as Allah says: …And they (women) have (rights) similar to those (of men) over them in an honorable fashion, but men have a degree over them. (2:228)
This “degree” (darajah) is related to men’s role as the maintainers and leaders of the family.

A man asked the Prophet (peace be on him), “O Messenger of Allah, what rights may a wife demand of her husband?” He replied, That you should feed her (with the same standard) as you feed yourself, clothe her as you clothe yourself, that you should never hit her face or put her down, or cut yourself off from her unless it occurs in the house. (Reported by Abu Daoud and by Ibn Hibban in his Sahih.)
Accordingly, it is not permissible for the Muslim husband to neglect to provide his wife with food and clothing. A hadith states, “Wasting the sustenance of his dependents is sufficient sin for a man.” (Reported by Abu Daoud, al-Nisai, and al-Hakim.)
Striking her on the face is also prohibited, since it is an insult to her human dignity as well as being a danger to the most beautiful part of her body. And if the Muslim is pushed to discipline his wife in the event of open rebellion, when all other methods have failed, he is not allowed to beat her in a manner which causes pain or injury, and he

is most certainly not permitted to touch her face or other easily injured parts of her body. Similarly, the Muslim is not permitted to revile, curse, or say insulting words to his wife.

Concerning the rights of the husband, the Prophet (peace be on him) said, It is not lawful for a woman who believes in Allah to allow anyone in her husband’s house while he dislikes it. She should not go out of the house if he dislikes it and should not obey anyone who contradicts his orders. She should not refuse to share his bed. (Meaning that she should not deny him sexual access when he desires it. (Trans )) She should not beat him (in case she is stronger than he). If he is more in the wrong than she, she should plead with him until he is reconciled. If he accepts her pleading, well and good, and her plea will be accepted by Allah; while if he is not reconciled with her, her plea will have reached Allah in any case. (Reported by al-Hakim.)

Mutual Tolerance Between Husband and Wife

A husband must be patient with his wife if he sees something in her which he disapproves and dislikes. He should recognize that he 1S dealing with a human being with natural imperfections, and he should balance her good qualities with her failings. The Prophet (peace be on him) said, Let a believing man not dislike a believing woman. If something in her is displeasing to him, another trait may be pleasing.
And Allah Ta’ala says, …And consort with them in kindness, for if you dislike them, it may be that you dislike something in which Allah has placed much good. (4:19)

While on the one hand Islam requires the men to be tolerant and patient with what he dislikes in his wife, on the other it command the wife to try to please her husband as far as her ability and charm l allow, and warns her not to let a night pass during which her husband remains angry with her. A hadith states: There are three (persons) whose salat does not rise even a single span above their heads: a man leading a congregational salat while the people hate him, a woman passing the night while her husband is angry with her, and two quarreling brothers. (Reported by Ibn Majah and by Ibn Hibban in his Sahih.)

Rebelliousness and Strife

Because of his natural ability and his responsibility for providing for his family, the man is the head of the house and of the family. He is entitled to the obedience and cooperation of his wife, and accordingly it is not permissible for her to rebel against his authority, causing disruption. Without a captain the ship of the household will flounder and sink. If the husband senses that feelings of disobedience and rebelliousness are rising against him in his wife, he should try his best to rectify her attitude by kind words, gentle persuasion, and reasoning with her. If this is not helpful, he should sleep apart from her, trying to awaken her agreeable feminine nature so that serenity may be restored and she may respond to him in a harmonious fashion. If this approach fails, it is permissible for him to beat her lightly with his hands, avoiding her face and other sensitive areas. In no case should he resort to using a stick or any other instrument which might cause pain and injury. Rather this “beating” should be of the kind which the Prophet (peace be on him) once, when angry with his servant, mentioned to him, saying, If it were not for the fear of retaliation on the Day of Resurrection, I would have beaten you with this miswak (tooth-cleaning stick). (Reported by Ibn Sa’d in his Tabaqat.)

The Prophet (peace be on him) admonished men concerning beating their wives, saying, “None of you must beat his wife as a slave is beaten, and then have intercourse with her at the end of the day.” (Reported by Ahmad; al-Bukhari has something similar to it.)

It was reported to the Prophet (peace be on him) that some of his Companions beat their wives, whereupon he said, “Certainly those are not the best among you.” (Reported by Ahmad, Abu Daoud and al-Nisai. Ibn Hibban and al-Hakim classify it as sound, as narrated by Iyas ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Abu Dhiab.)

Says Imam al-Hafiz ibn Hajar, The saying of the Prophet (peace be on him), ‘The best among you do not beat,’ could imply that beating wives is in general permissible. To be specific, one may beat only to safeguard Islamic behavior and if he (the husband) sees deviation only in what she must do or obey in relation to him. It is preferable to warn (her), or something of the sort, and as long as it is possible to achieve things through warning, any use of force is disallowed because force generates hatred, which is inimical to the harmony expected in marriage. Force is applied only when sin against Allah Ta’ala (masiyah) is feared. Al-Nisai has reported ‘Aishah as saying, ‘The Prophet (peace be on him) never beat any of his wives or servants; in fact, he did not strike anything with his hand except in the cause of Allah or when the prohibitions of Allah were violated, and he retaliated on behalf of Allah.'(Fath al-Bari, vol. 9, p. 249.)

If all of these approaches fail, and the rift between the husband and wife deepens, the matter then devolves on the Islamic society for solution. Two individuals of good will and sound judgement, one from the wife’s and one from the husband’s side, should meet with the couple in order to try to resolve their differences. Perhaps the sincerity of their efforts may bear fruit and Allah may bring about reconciliation between the spouses.

These various approaches are stated by Allah Ta’ala in the following ayah. …And as for those women on whose part you fear stubbornness, (first) admonish them; then refuse to share their beds; and (finally) beat them (lightly). Then if they return to obedience, do not seek for a waagainst them; indeed, Allah isMost High, Great. And if you fear breach between the two of them, appoint an arbiter from his family and an arbiter from her family. If they desire to set things aright, Allah will bring about reconciliation between them; indeed, Allah is Knowing, Aware. (4:34-35)

When Divorce Becomes Permissible

If all these efforts fail and every course tried proves to be of no avail, the husband may resort to the final solution permitted by the Shari’ah of Islam. In response to the bitter realities of life, when difficulties cannot be resolved except through the separation of the two parties in an honorable fashion, Islam has made the provision of divorce. Islam has permitted divorce reluctantly, neither liking nor commending it. Said the Prophet (peace be on him), “Among lawful things’ divorce is most hated by Allah.”(Reported by Abu Daoud.)

That a thing is lawful yet detested by Allah means that it is permissible under unavoidable circumstances, when living together becomes a torture, mutual hatred is deep-seated, and it becomes difficult for the two parties to observe the limits of Allah and to fulfill their marital responsibilities. In such a situation separation is better, and Allah Ta’ala says, But if they separate, Allah will provide for each of them out of His abundance…. (4:130)


Al-Qaradawi, Yusuf (1960). The Lawful and Prohibited in Islam. (p. 198-202).

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