The rights of the husband over his wife are among the greatest rights; indeed his rights over her are greater than her rights over him, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And they (women) have rights (over their husbands as regards living expenses) similar (to those of their husbands) over them (as regards obedience and respect) to what is reasonable, but men have a degree (of responsibility) over them [al-Baqarah 2:228]
Al-Jassaas said: Allaah tells us in this aayah that each of the spouses has rights over the other, and that the husband has one particular right over his wife which she does not have over him.
Ibn al-‘Arabi said: this text states that he has some preference over her with regard to rights and duties of marriage.
These rights include:
(a) The obligation of obedience. Allaah has made the man a qawwaam (protector and maintainer) of the woman by commanding, directing and taking care of her, just as guardians take care of their charges, by virtue of the physical and mental faculties that Allaah has given only to men and the financial obligations that He has enjoined upon them.
Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allaah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means” [al-Nisaa’ 4:34]
‘Ali ibn Abi Talhah said, narrating from Ibn ‘Abbaas: “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women” means, they are in charge of them, i.e., she should obey him in matters of obedience that Allaah has enjoined upon her, and obey him by treating his family well and taking care of his wealth. This was the view of Muqaatil, al-Saddi and al-Dahhaak.
(Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 1/492)
(b) Making herself available to her husband. One of the rights that the husband has over his wife is that he should be able to enjoy her (physically). If he marries a woman and she is able to have intercourse, she is obliged to submit herself to him according to the contract, if he asks her. That is after he gives her the immediate mahr, and gives her some time – two or three days, if she asks for that – to sort herself out, because that is something that she needs, and because that is not too long and is customary.
If a wife refuses to respond to her husband’s request for intercourse, she has done something haraam and has committed a major sin, unless she has a valid shar’i excuse such as menses, obligatory fasting, sickness, etc.
It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said:
“The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘When a man calls his wife to his bed and she refuses, and he went to sleep angry with her, the angels will curse her until morning.’”
(Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 3065; Muslim, 1436)
(c) Not admitting anyone whom the husband dislikes. One of the rights that the husband has over his wife is that she should not permit anyone whom he dislikes to enter his house.
It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
“It is not permitted for a woman to fast when her husband is present without his permission, or to admit anyone into his house without his permission. And whatever she spends (in charity) of his wealth without his consent, ….”
(Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4899; Muslim, 1026)
It was narrated from Sulaymaan ibn ‘Amr ibn al-Ahwas: my father told me that he was present at the Farewell Pilgrimage (Hujjat al-Wadaa’) with the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). He [the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)] praised and glorified Allaah, then he preached a sermon and said:
“Treat women kindly, for they are prisoners and you have no other power over them than that, if they are guilty of open lewdness, then refuse to share their beds, and hit them, but not severely. But if they return to obedience, (then) do not seek means (of annoyance) against them. You have rights over your women and your women have rights over you. Your rights over your women are that they should not let anyone whom you dislike sit on your bed and they should not let anyone whom you dislike enter your house. Their rights over you are that you should feed and clothe them well.”
(Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 1163 – he said this is a saheeh hasan hadeeth. Also narrated by Ibn Maajah, 1851)
It was narrated that Jaabir said: [the Prophet] (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
“Fear Allah concerning women! Verily you have taken them on the security of Allah, and intercourse with them has been made lawful unto you by words of Allah. You too have rights over them, and that they should not allow anyone to sit on your bed [i.e., not let them into the house] whom you do not like. But if they do that, you can chastise them but not severely. Their rights upon you are that you should provide them with food and clothing in a fitting manner”
(Narrated by Muslim, 1218)
(d) Not going out of the house except with the husband’s permission. One of the rights of the husband over his wife is that she should not go out of the house except with his permission.
The Shaafa’is and Hanbalis said: she does not have the right to visit (even) her sick father except with the permission of her husband, and he has the right to prevent her from doing that… because obedience to the husband is obligatory, and it is not permitted to neglect an obligatory action for something that is not obligatory.
(e) Discipline. The husband has the right to discipline his wife if she disobeys him in something good, not if she disobeys him in something sinful, because Allaah has enjoined disciplining women by forsaking them in bed and by hitting them, when they do not obey.
The Hanafis mentioned four situations in which a husband is permitted to discipline his wife by hitting her. These are: not adorning herself when he wants her to; not responding when he calls her to bed and she is taahirah (pure, i.e., not menstruating); not praying; and going out of the house without his permission.
The evidence that it is permissible to discipline one’s wife includes the aayahs (interpretation of the meaning):
“As to those women on whose part you see ill‑conduct, admonish them (first), (next) refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them (lightly, if it is useful)” [al-Nisaa’ 4:34]
“O you who believe! Ward off yourselves and your families against a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones” [al-Tahreem 66:6]
Ibn Katheer said:
Qutaadah said: you should command them to obey Allaah, and forbid them to disobey Allaah; you should be in charge of them in accordance with the command of Allaah, and instruct them to follow the commands of Allaah, and help them to do so. If you see any act of disobedience towards Allaah, then stop them from doing it and rebuke them for that.
This was also the view of al-Dahhaak and Muqaatil: that the duty of the Muslim is to teach his family, including his relatives and his slaves, that which Allaah has enjoined upon them and that which He has forbidden them. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 4/392)
(f) The wife serving her husband. There is a great deal of evidence (daleel) for this, some of which has been mentioned above.
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said:
She is obliged to serve her husband according to what is reasonable among people of similar standing. That varies according to circumstances: the way in which a Bedouin woman serves (her husband) will not be like the way of a town-dweller, and the way of a strong woman will not be like the way of a weak woman.
(al-Fataawa al-Kubraa, 4/561)
(g) Submitting herself to him. Once the conditions of the marriage-contract have been fulfilled and it is valid, then the woman is obliged to submit herself to her husband and allow him to enjoy her (physically), because once the contract is completed, he is allowed in return to enjoy her, and the wife is entitled to the compensation which is the mahr.
(h) The wife should treat her husband in a good manner, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And they (women) have rights (over their husbands as regards living expenses) similar (to those of their husbands) over them (as regards obedience and respect) to what is reasonable” [al-Baqarah 2:228]
It was also narrated from him – i.e., Ibn ‘Abbaas – that this means: they have the right to good companionship and kind and reasonable treatment from their husbands just as they are obliged to obey the commands of their husbands.
And it was said that they have the right that their husbands should not harm them, and their husbands have a similar right over them. This was the view of al-Tabari.
Ibn Zayd said: You should fear Allaah concerning them just as they should fear Allaah concerning you.
The meanings are similar, and the aayah includes all of that in the rights and duties of marriage.
(Tafseer al-Qurtubi, 3/123-124)
And Allaah knows best.
Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid