What Are the Duties of a Husband and Wife?

Question and answer details
What are the duties of a husband and wife?
Taqwa Saifulhaq
Salam Dear Syed,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

The important significance of marriage in Islam comes to one’s mind when the person finds out that Allah Almighty refers to it as ‘ meethaqun ghaleetha’ (firm covenant). The Quran says what means:

{And how can you take it when one of you has already gone in to the other and they have made with you a firm covenant?} (An-Nisaa 4:21)

Actually the same words are used for the agreement between Allah and His prophets as the Quran says what means:

{And when We made a covenant with the prophets and with you, and with Nuh and Ibrahim and Musa and Isa, son of Mariam, and We made with them a strong covenant} (Al-Ahzab 33:7)

Allah Almighty created a special nature for both men and women by which it is natural that they are attracted to one another. This natural attraction brings them together to lead a common life and form a family.

The natural instinct of sex should be guided to the right direction so that it may be utilized in the service of humanity. Though the common life of a husband and wife originates from this natural instinct, it gradually develops into a seep, spiritual, sentimental, social and economical relationship.

This comprehensive relationship between husband and wife should reach far above that of mere sexual pleasure and should reach the stage of love and understanding.

Marriage is the kind of relationship for which we should not actually use the word of “duty” when referring to the bond between a husband and wife. This is because it’s something that is more sacred and elevated.

However, let’s talk about it using your word… duties of both husband and wife. I will start with the “duties” of the wife.

Abu Hurayrah narrated a hadith that says:

“A woman who prays five times a day, fasts during the month of Ramadan, protects her modesty and is obedient to her husband may enter heaven through any door she likes.”

So, not only can she enter heaven, but she can choose from the different doors.

In another hadith, it is mentioned:

“The best woman is the one who greets her husband with joy when he looks at her and when he asks something lawful.”

Also another hadith reports:

“On the Day of Judgment, God will not look upon the woman who has been ungrateful to her husband.”

The relationship between husband and wife is described beautifully in the Quran when it says what means:

{… they are an apparel for you and you are an apparel for them…} (Al-Baqarah 2:187)

Only God knows the reason why the word apparel is used, but one can guess that the apparel is so close to the body. It hides all that need to be hidden from the human body.

It does also beautify the appearance of the body. As a result, both husband and wife beautify the lives of each other and at the same time they have their own secrets that are not shown to everybody but themselves.

As for the role of husband, it normatively revolves around the principles that it is his solemn duty to Allah to treat his wife with kindness, honor and patience, and to cause her no harm or grief. This is clear in the Quran when it says what means:

{O you who believe! it is not lawful for you that you should take women as heritage against [their] will, and do not straiten them in order that you may take part of what you have given them, unless they are guilty of manifest indecency, and treat them kindly; then if you hate them, it may be that you dislike a thing while Allah has placed abundant good in it.} (An-Nisaa 4:19)

The husband in Islamic law is obliged to maintain his wife. Maintenance includes the wife's right to lodging, clothing, nourishing, care and well being. The wife has a right to enjoy all these things according to his status and capacity.

If we are to give examples from real life, we are to mention the wife of Prophet Ayyub, peace and blessings be upon him. She is an example of a great woman who, in the sickness of her husband, was doing the duties that were only supposed to be done by her husband. She provided all the family needs by going out to work and struggling her way through life.

On the other hand, the wife of Prophet Lut, peace and blessings be upon him, is an example of a woman who didn't even obey her husband although he was a prophet. Allah Almighty punished her, among the people of Lut who disobeyed Allah's commands.

As for Prophet Lut, peace and blessings be upon him, he is an example of a man who was patient with the disobedience of his own wife, who was supposed to support him through his long and tough path.

Actually, life is full of such stories about happy or unlucky marriages. But the stories mentioned above are not to be forgotten because they talk about such great people who are to guide us through our lives.

Thank you again for your question and please keep in touch.


Useful links:

Bonds of Love and Mercy

My Husband is All What I Care For in My Life

Husband and Wife: Mutual Rights and Obligations

A Happy Life Makes a Healthy Family (Folder)