Providing a Shelter for the Wife

Bahishti Zewar, Fiqh, Part 4-Nikah (Marriage) in Islam / Monday, September 20th, 2010

1. It is wâjib on the man to provide a shelter for his wife. This place must be such that no other relative of the husband lives there. It must be free from any relative of the husband whereby the husband and wife can live without any formalities. However, if the wife does not mind living with others, it will be permissible for him to keep her in the same house with other relatives of his.

2. The responsibility of the husband will be fulfilled if the wife is provided with a separate room within the house where she can keep all her belongings and personal effects, where she can stay, and where she has the lock and key for it whereby no one else can enter and only she has possession over it. The wife cannot lay claim to more than this nor can she ask for an entirely separate house.

3. Just as the wife has the right to ask for a separate house where none of her husband’s relatives are living and over which she has complete control, in the same way, the man also has the right to prevent or stop her relatives from coming to the house in which she is living. He can stop anyone irrespective of whether it be her mother, her father, her brother, or anyone else from among her relatives.

4. The wife can go to visit her parents once a week. She can go to visit all her other relatives once a year. She cannot demand more than this. Similarly, her parents can visit her once a week. The husband has the right to prevent them from coming more often. All her other relatives can visit her once in the year and not more than this. The husband has the right to prevent them from visiting her more often. He can exercise this right over her parents and other relatives as well. It should be borne in mind that relatives in this context refer to those relatives with whom marriage is harâm forever. As for other relatives who do not fall within this category (such as cousins), they will be regarded as absolute strangers.

5. If the wife’s father is ill and there is no one to take care of him, the wife should go and see to his needs whenever the need arises, even if it means going daily. Even if her father is a kâfir, the same rule will apply. In fact, if her husband stops her from going, she should still go. However, if she goes despite her husband stopping her from going, then she does not have the right to claim food and clothing from her husband.

6. The wife should not go to the house of strangers. If there is a wedding or other function and her husband permits her to go, even then it is not permissible for her to go. If the husband grants her permission, he will also be committing a sin. In fact, it is not even permissible to go to such gatherings with one’s mahram relatives as well.

7. The woman who has been issued with a divorce also has the right to receive food, clothing and shelter until the end of her ‘iddah. However, the woman whose husband has passed away does not have the right to claim for food, clothing and shelter. Obviously, she will receive a share of the inheritance.

8. If the nikâh is broken due to some reason caused by the wife, she will not be entitled to receive any food or clothing while she is in her ‘iddah. She will be entitled to receive a shelter only. Examples of nikâh being broken because of the wife:
(a) she engages in sexual intercourse with her step-son or merely touches him with the passions of youth, and the husband therefore divorces her.
(b) she becomes a kâfir and turns away from Islam.

However, if the wife decides to leave on her own and not take advantage of the right to receive shelter, she may leave and thereby forfeit this right.

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