#402: Situations When a Wife Has a Right to Refuse Her Husband

Question:

Assalamualaikum ustaz. When is it permissible for a wife to refuse her husband’s conjugal rights?

Answer:

Waalaikumussalam wrt. wbt.,

Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions, and all those who follow his footsteps until the Final day.

A marriage’s purpose is to develop the family institution and it is greatly encouraged in Islam. Its purpose is also to fulfil the innate need of humans, spread the Muslim ummah and induce calmness and peace in their hearts. The encouragement in Islam for marriage is so that a person is able to attain the good and benefits from it. This is stated in a hadith from Abdullah bin Amr RA, the Prophet PBUH said:

الدُّنْيَا مَتَاعٌ، وَخَيْرُ مَتَاعِ الدُّنْيَا الْمَرْأَةُ الصَّالِحَةُ

“The whole world is to be enjoyed, but the best thing in the world is a good woman.” [1]

Likewise, husband and wife are a couple who protects each other and are in need of one another. This is described in the Quran, Allah SWT states:

هُنَّ لِبَاسٌ لَّكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ لِبَاسٌ لَّهُنَّ

“They are clothing for you and you are clothing for them.” [2]

Syeikh Dr Mustafa al-Khin in his book stated several wisdoms of marriage, among them, are:

  • Fulfil the innate and natural needs of mankind.
  • Develop and expand the Muslim society and lineage.
  • Induce calmness and peace in the hearts and souls of humans.
  • Protect and maintain people’s character from declining and damaging.
  • Protecting the future generation of mankind.
  • Expand family ties and strengthen cooperation. [3]

Situations when a wife has a right to refuse her husband

In answering the above question, when the solemnization of a husband and wife is complete, both of them then become the clothing of the other. Allah SWT states:

هُنَّ لِبَاسٌ لَّكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ لِبَاسٌ لَّهُنَّ

“They are clothing for you and you are clothing for them.” [4]

Ibn Abbas said that the meaning meant in the above verse is that “They are your source of calmness and you are their source of calmness.” Whilst in Tafsir al-Tabari, it is said that the meaning of this verse is that two bodies become one, which means “intercourse”. [5]

The innate desire should be fulfilled by both parties. However, a woman should comply with the needs of her husband. This is based on a hadith of the Prophet PBUH:

إِذَا دَعَا الرَّجُلُ امْرَأَتَهُ إِلَى فِرَاشِهِ فَأَبَتْ فَبَاتَ غَضْبَانَ عَلَيْهَا لَعَنَتْهَا المَلاَئِكَةُ حَتَّى تُصْبِحَ

“When a man calls his wife to come to his bed and she refuses and does not come to him and he spends the night angry, the angels curse her till the morning.” [6]

Imam al-Nawawi said this hadith is evidence that it is prohibited for a wife to refuse her husband without any excuse permissible by syarak and menstruation is not a debilitation that can prevent her husband from requesting his wife, for he has a right for istimta’ (pleasure) with what is above the cloth (other than the vagina). This hadith means curses from the angels and this continues until the sin stops with the rising of the sun and when the husband feels like it is enough with the repentance when the wife accepts his invite to have intercourse. [7]

However, there are times in syarak when the husband is prohibited from having intercourse with his wife and this is known as syar’ie excuse. Among them are:

First: Due to menstruation. So true is the statement of Allah SWT:

وَلَا تَقْرَبُوهُنَّ حَتَّىٰ يَطْهُرْنَ

“And do not approach them until they are pure.” [8]

According to Ibn al-‘Arabi, the prohibition against approaching means it is prohibited from having intercourse with their wives. [9]

Syeikh al-Maraghi said: “When a woman takes a bath (when her menstruation completes), then approach them at the desired place that has been informed by Sunnatullah to protect it, it is the place of lineage (birth).” [10]

Second: Analogically deduced with menstruation, which is during nifas (vaginal bleeding due to childbirth).

Nifas is bleeding due to childbirth. The minimum duration for nifas is a blink of an eye (لحظة). Sometimes it continues for several days and usually, it continues for 40 days. While the maximum period for it is 60 days. According to the research done by Imam al-Syafie, the bleeding that exceeds this duration is blood due to a disease. [11]

Third: Due to an illness and she is unable to fulfil her husband’s needs physically.

Fourth: It can harm her. This means, that if sabit that intercourse can harm and hurt her, then it is permissible for her to refuse the invite from her husband.

Fifth: If the wife is performing a syarak obligation such as obligatory prayer or fast, then, it is her right to refuse her husband at the time. However, give the excuse lovingly and with respect to her husband.

Lastly, let us all reflect on the hadith of Rasullullah PBUH:


إِذَا صَلَّتِ الْمَرْأَةُ خَمْسَهَا، وَصَامَتْ شَهْرَهَا، وَحَصَّنَتْ فَرْجَهَا، وَأَطَاعَتْ زَوْجَهَا، قِيْلَ لَهَا أُدْخُلِي الْجَنَّةَ مِنْ أَيِّ أَبْوَابِ الْجَنَّةِ شِئْتِ

“When a woman observes the five times of prayer, fasts during Ramadan, preserves her chastity and obeys her husband, she may enter by any of the gates of paradise she wishes.” [12]

May the marriage built attain Baiti Jannati. We end this discussion with the supplication:

رَبَّنَا هَبْ لَنَا مِنْ أَزْوَاجِنَا وَذُرِّيَّاتِنَا قُرَّةَ أَعْيُنٍ وَاجْعَلْنَا لِلْمُتَّقِينَ إِمَامًا

“Our Lord, grant us from among our wives and offspring comfort to our eyes and make us an example for the righteous.”

Wallahu a’lam.

[1] Narrated by Muslim (1467)

[2] Surah al-Baqarah: 187

[3] See al-Fiqh al-Manhaji 4/13-16

[4] Surah al-Baqarah: 187

[5] See Jami’ al-Bayan ‘an Ta’wil Ay al-Quran, 3/490

[6] Narrated by al-Bukhari (3237) (5193)

[7] See Syarh al-Nawawi ‘ala Sahih Muslim, 10/7-8

[8] Surah al-Baqarah: 222

[9] See Ahkam al-Quran, 1/227

[10] See Tafsir al-Maraghi, 1/470

[11] See al-Fiqh al-Manhaji, 1/82

[12] Narrated by Ahmad (1664), Ibn Hibban (1296) and al-Bazzar (7480). Syeikh Syu’aib al-Arnaut stated this hadith is sahih in takhrij Sahih Ibn Hibban (4163)

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