Laws of Religion

Laws of Islam Concerning Women and Men

 

Harmony and Discord in Marriage

 

Maintenance of Wife

 

From Islamic Jurisprudence (fiqh/shariaß):† The Distinguished Juristís Primer of Ibn Rushd, the Risala of al-Shafi‛i and Reliance of the Traveller

 

 

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Maintenance of wife (jurisprudence/fiqh/sharia). The scholars* agree that a husband is required to pay for his wifeís maintenance and clothing.[1] Malik says that such maintenance is required only after the wife is legally old enough to have sexual intercourse and the husband has reached puberty. Abu Hanifa and al-Shafiʽi both say that maintenance is required once the wife is old enough for intercourse even if husband has not yet reached puberty, though in some opinions, al-Shafiʽi says that maintenance of oneís wife is always required.[2] (Reliance of the Traveller explains that puberty applies when a personís first wet dream occurs or when the age of fifteen is reached or when a female first menstruates or becomes pregnant[3]). Reliance of the Traveller says that a husband is required to give his wife money to spend without delaying intentionally or showing resentment (just as a wife is required to have sexual intercourse with her husband without intentional delay or visible resentment).[4]

 

Malik and al-Shafiíi say that a marriage dissolves if the husband is not able to provide maintenance for his wife.[5] According to Reliance of the Traveller (Shafiʽi school), a woman may annul her marriage if her husband is not able to provide her with the basic housing, food and clothing appropriate for a person who is not wealthy.[6] Abu Hanifa, however, says that the inability to provide maintenance for oneís wife is not grounds for dissolving a marriage.[7]

 

The scholars disagree about whether the husband is obliged to provide maintenance for a wife who denies him sexual intercourse.[8] For example, according to Reliance of the Traveller (Shafiʽi school), a man may refuse to provide maintenance for his wife if she fails to make her body available to him for his full enjoyment, if she denies him sex at any time of the day or night, if she is rebellious, if she travels without his permission, if she travels for her own purposes even with his permission, if she fasts voluntarily without his permission or if she assumes the sacred state (ihram) for pilgrimage.[9]

 

Malik and Abu Hanifa agree that the amount of maintenance a wife is entitled to is not set by law; it depends on the status of the wife and of the husband. Al-Shafiʽi says that the amount of maintenance required depends upon how wealthy of the husband is, the daily amounts being 1, 1Ĺ or 2 mudds.[10] Reliance of the Traveller (Shafi‛i school) specifies the amount of grain a husband must provide for his wife each day: 0.51 liters (one mudd), 0.77 liters or one liter, according to his wealth. The husband must also pay for grinding and making bread from the grain as well as providing meat, oil or other things that are customary in the town to make the bread savory and good to eat. By mutual agreement of the husband and wife, the husband may compensate the wife with money in place of food.[11]

 

A free man may have up to four wives.[12] However, according to Reliance of the Traveller, a man is not permitted to have two wives in the same house without their consent.[13] The housing provided to oneís wife must be as good as other similar women receive.[14]

 

According to Reliance of the Traveller, a man must provide his wife with clothing appropriate for each season at the beginning of that season, whether or not her clothing for that season from the previous year is still usable. The clothing provided is to be as is customary in the area where they live.[15]

 

According to Reliance of the Traveller, a man must provide his wife with bedding, blankets and pillows in a manner appropriate to his wealth.[16] A husband is obliged to provide his wife with oil for her hair, sidr and a comb.[17] (Sidr means leaves from a particular kind of tree and is translated as "shampoo" in Reliance of the Traveller.[18]) A husband is required to give his wife money to purchase the water she needs to perform a bath of purification after sexual intercourse or when postnatal bleeding has ceased, but not at the end of her menstrual period.[19]

 

Most jurists agree that a husband must provide his wife with a servant if she is of the status to require a servant.[20] Reliance of the Traveller (Shafiʽi school) says that a wife who had servants in her fatherís house must be provided with servants by her husband.[21] Malik says a husband must provide two servants if his wife is used to two servants.[22]

 

According to Reliance of the Traveller, a man is not required to pay for his wifeís doctorís fees, medicine or cosmetics.[23]

 

 

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*Islamic scholars disagree on certain points of law based on different methodologies used in deriving the law from the Qurían and the traditions (sunna) concerning the life of Muhammad and his closest companions, particularly as expressed in the compiled hadiths. There are four major schools of jurisprudence in Sunni Islam: the Maliki, the Hanafi, the Shafi‛i and the Hanbali. These names are derived from the individual scholars considered to have been the founders of each school: Malik, Abu Hanifa, al-Shafi‛i and Ahmad ibn Hanbal, respectively. The source texts we have used to prepare our summaries of Islamic jurisprudence contain the legal views of these different founders and schools, as described at Source Texts Used for Laws of Islam.

 

ßThe specific derived laws of fiqh summarized here are often referred to by the more general term sharia law.

 

 

Laws of Religion is a project of the Religion Research Society.

 

Updated December 3, 2016

 

 

Abbreviations used in footnotes:

DJP:The Distinguished Juristís Primer, by Ibn Rushd, translated by Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee, published by Garnet Publishing Ltd, Reading, UK. Volume 1, 1994. Volume 2, 1996. Limited preview is available here (Volume 1) and here (Volume 2). Full text online and download for Volume 1 is here and here and for Volume 2 is here and here.

RT:††† Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law by Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller, revised edition 1994, published by Amana Publications, Beltsville, Maryland, USA. It can be downloaded as a pdf file from various websites such as this one.

SR:††† al-Shafi‛iís Risala: Treatise on the Foundations of Islamic Jurisprudence, translated by Majid Khadduri, Second Edition, published by The Islamic Texts Society. It can be downloaded here.

●† The sources cited are described on the page Source Texts Used for Laws of Islam.



[1] DJP 18.4 (Vol 2, pages 63-67)

[2] DJP 18.4 (Vol 2, pages 63-67)

[3] RT k13.8 (pages 411-412)

[4] RT m10.1 (page 538)

[5] DJP 18.3.2 (Vol 2, pages 60-61)

[6] RT m11.13 (pages 546-547), RT m11.14 (page 547)

[7] DJP 18.3.2 (Vol 2, pages 60-61)

[8] DJP 18.4 (Vol 2, pages 63-67)

[9] RT m11.9 (page 545)

[10] DJP 18.4 (Vol 2, pages 63-67)

[11] RT m11.2 (pages 542-543)

[12] DJP 18.2.3.5 (Vol 2, page 47), RT m6.10 (page 530), SR 167 (pages 174-175)

[13] RT m10.2 (page 538)

[14] RT m11.8 (page 545)

[15] RT m11.5, RT m11.6, RT m11.7 (pages 544-545)

[16] RT m11.5 (page 544)

[17] RT m11.3 (page 543)

[18] translatorís note at RT g2.8(4) (page 226)

[19] RT m11.3 (page 543)

[20] DJP 18.4 (Vol 2, pages 63-67)

[21] RT m11.8 (page 545)

[22] DJP 18.4 (Vol 2, pages 63-67)

[23] RT m11.4 (page 544)