A friend inquired about the following matter: she (a convert, has been Muslim for some time) just recently remarried (to a born Muslim, non-American). The issue came up between her and another, older Muslim convert friend about not meeting with people your husband does not like. The new husband said there is a hadith to support this principle of leaving off meeting with people your husband doesn’t approve of, so now the old convert friend would like “daleel” (I think she was offended, hurt).
Could you please shed some light on this issue? I think they would also appreciate references from the Qur’an and Sunnah, since all parties involved do not follow a madhhab.
The concept of Islam is to have an Amir whenever there are two or more people involved. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) advised us to appoint an Amir when we travel in a group. Hence, in order for any project or mission to run smoothly, it is imperative to have an Amir.
Marriage is no exception, in that it entails having an Amir. If appointing an Amir is greatly emphasised for a short journey made to another town or country, then this becomes even more important in a long journey of life. The beloved of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) appointed the husband as the Amir of the family. Marital decisions are made based on mutual consultation (shura), but the final decision is the husband’s.
Allah Most High says:
“Men have charge of women because Allah has preferred the one above the other and because they spend their wealth on them. Right-acting women are obedient, safeguarding their husband’s interests in his absence as Allah has guarded them.” (Surah al-Nisa: 34)
Sayyiduna Abd Allah ibn Umar narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: “All of you are shepherds. Each of you is responsible for his flock. An amir is a shepherd. A man is a shepherd in respect of his family. The woman is a shepherd in respect of her husband’s house and children. All of you are shepherds and each of you is responsible for his flock.” (Sahih al-Bukhari & Sahih Muslim)
Sayyida Umm Salama narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: “Any woman who dies at a time when her husband is pleased with her will enter paradise.” (Sunan Tirmidhi, no: 1161)
Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “It is not lawful for a woman to fast (optional) without the permission of her husband when he is at home; and she should not allow anyone to enter his house except with his permission….” (Sahih al-Bukhari, no. 4899)
The foregoing (and many other) texts of the Qur’an and Sunnah quite clearly indicate that Islam has laid great emphasis on the wife obeying her husband and respecting his wishes. A wife must obey her husband even in recommended (mandub) or permissible (mubah) acts as long as it does not violate her own rights and does not cause undue harm and hardship upon her.
Therefore, if the husband prevents the wife or dislikes her keeping close friendship with a particular person, then the wife is obliged to respect her husband’s wishes, as long as it does not directly impinge on her own rights. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) forbade the wife from letting anyone enter the house except with her husband’s permission, hence it will be necessary for her to obey her husband.
However, if this causes undue harm and hardship for the wife, then it will be permitted for her to disobey him, as the wife is ordered to obey her husband as long as it does not violate her own rights. The husband should also not enforce such restrictions upon his wife without a genuine and valid reason. It is definitely not a good idea to keep placing restrictions on the wife as regards to who she can meet and who she cannot. At times, the husband prevents the wife from meeting certain people only out of selfishness, stubbornness and self-convenience, which is completely wrong. He may only prevent his wife from keeping close-ties with a particular person out of genuine concerns.
One must always remember that these matters are not solved with enforcing restrictions and rules upon one another. Marital relationship is based on friendship, hence the best way to solve this is to discuss the matter with one’s spouse and come to a mutual agreement. Both of the spouses will have to give away a little in order to have a prosperous marital life.
And Allah knows best
[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Leicester , UK