Home Family and Marriage The Rights in the Marital Relation

The Rights in the Marital Relation

Q: The Quran has allowed the husband, in terms of the marital relation, to beat his wife. To what limit does this extend?

A: In the marital relation, there is an issue that the marriage contract imposes; the right of the man to satisfy himself sexually with his wife to preserve himself from lewdness, i.e. adultery. It has also granted the wife the right to enjoy sex, as she has equal rights and obligations in a just manner. At a time where the woman has a sexual duty towards her husband, he too has a sexual duty towards his wife. However, if the wife abstains from granting her husband his right to have sex, what else can he do, knowing that this right was included in the contract upon the wife's consent and free will, and keeping in mind that this contract is based primarily on the sexual issue?! The Holy Quran says: "Admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places." (04:34) So, the husband has to try to reveal to his wife that her conduct is ruining the marital relation, which might force him to search for a second wife, or have a forbidden sexual relation…etc. If she does not obey him, he might go further by deserting her and sleeping somewhere else. If she still does not obey him, shall he raise his issue to the courts? Can the court assign certain police officers in the bedroom to force the wife to satisfy her husband's demands?! This is completely unrealistic.

So, amidst the following two choices; either destroying his marital life and leaving because his wife refuses to give him his sexual right, or preserving her, the Quran states that it is permissible for him to beat her lightly to educate her. When she obeys him, the Quran says: "Then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them." (04:34) Islam confirms that the marital relation should be based on compassion and mercy; however, the legal aspect of this issue is to preserve the couple's rights

The matter, then, is restricted to when there is a necessity only and not to the ordinary situations. The husband has no right, whatsoever, to beat his wife because she did not clean the house, or nurse the children, or even breastfeed them, because these points are not included in the marriage contract.

People might find what I am about to say odd. The wife has the right to ask for a wage in return for her work in the house; just like any other worker, including breastfeeding. However, Islam confirms that the marital relation should be based on compassion and mercy, for he says: "And He put between you love and compassion." (30:21), since the husband also offers sacrifices just like the wife. However, the legal aspect of this issue is to preserve the couple's rights. Moreover, I have recently issued a Fatwa that has aroused arguments in the entire Islamic reality, which is as follows: If the man assaults his wife and beats her up to the extent of harming her, and she had no way to escape or take cover, then she has the right to defend herself by beating him, for Allah says: "Whoever then acts aggressively against you, inflict injury on him according to the injury he has inflicted on you." (02:194).

When the husband beats his wife because she has abstained from satisfying him sexually, provided that her reason is not a severe psychological or health one, then it is for her own interest in the first place, meaning that a man would not have to seek to satisfy his sexual needs outside the house, because if he did, this would have a negative effect on their marital life.

Q: What if the husband was the one who is abstaining from giving his wife her right?

A: this would be a sin; however beating him is useless in this case because she cannot simply retain her right, if she beats him. However, she has the right to raise the issue to the religious authority, and he, who is a just jurisprudent, has the right to grant her divorce if she asks for one because her husband did not satisfy her sexual rights or even support her financially.