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Some Questions that affect women

genderQ: I have a couple of questions regarding women. I have a request, when answering these questions think as though your daughter or your sister is asking these questions to you. I am a hanafi, so I need answers from the hanafi fiqh point.



1. Why do I have to obey my husband at all times? ...especially if he doesn't have to listen to me. How is this fair? Why is what he wants the bottom line?

2. How come only the husband can give divorce? What if the woman wants a divorce? She can't get one just because her husband doesn't want to divorce her?

3. As far as staying in her house is concerned. Muslim scholars say that women should sit in their homes as much as possible and only come out if there's a necessity. How is this fair?
A woman should stay in her home the whole day; cook and clean take care of the children obey her husband and stay in her home. This is their definition of a good muslim woman. What's the difference between her and a slave then? Can't the woman ever go out of her house? Doesn't she deserve to get some fresh air?
I understand a mahram needs to be with her, fine a mahram is with her but even with a mahram she should only go out if she has necessity? How is this fair?

4. Does a wife have to live with her in-laws? I don't know whether you know what a woman has to go through if she has to live with her in-laws. Why? And how is living with in-laws islamic? Why does a muslim wife have to serve and obey her in-laws? Respect them, okay, but why should I obey them? Why should i work for them and then be abused for it too?

5. Why is a man allowed to hit his wife in Islam? How is this fair?

6. This is off topic, but i really need the answer. Has jihad become fard-e-ain? Or is it still fard-e-kifayah? Are we allowed to live in countries like the US or Canada who support Israel and help to kill our muslim brothers and sisters in Palestine and other places? If we aren't allowed to live in these countries then can a sister make hijrat without a mahram?

7. Why is a man allowed to go to university, but a woman not? The excuse often given by mufties is that the man needs to get a job and the women doesn't and that universities are places of fitna and it is better for a women to stay at home. I ask that if universities are places of fitna for women then aren't they places of fitna for men?  As far as a man getting a job is concerned then he doesn't have to go to university to get a job does he?? Allah is ar-razzaq a man shouldn't compromise his deen just to get a job in this world. He can get a job without going to university. Also what about alternatives to university on campus? Universities now offer courses online, men and women can both learn from their homes away from the fitna. But i ask why this unfair judgment. when I read fatwas like this i feel it undermines women. I always read that islam says men and women are equal and then i read all this and i feel...what's right? Who’s right? How are you providing women the rights islam has given them? You’re taking them away from us. Will you not be answerable for this on the Day of Judgment?

8. Can a women travel with a mahram from say Britain, Canada, or US to South Africa to study in a darul uloom? How and why is this allowed, if a woman can go outside only if there's absolute necessity otherwise she shouldn't?

Jazakallahu Khayran


Respected Sister in Islam
As Salaamu Alaykum wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakaatuh
Haamidaw wa Musalliyaa
Your query below refers;
I have reviewed your questions which largely appear to be based on some misconceptions in matters of the teachings of the Shariah. I commend you for raising these issues in an effort to understand the truth and recommend the following:

1.  That you study the Tafseer, Ma'ariful Quran by Mufti Muhammad Shafi Sb (R.A.) preferably at the hands of an Allah conscious Aalim/Aalima who is one that practices upon the Sunnah. This will Inshallah guide you adequately in a very balanced manner.

2. That you study the following books that may be viewed on the following links. These books are those of Maulana Hakim Muhammad Akhtar Sb (D.B.) who is a great saint of our times.

In terms of your specific queries, a brief response to them is included individually hereunder.

1. Islam is a religion that has guided us in every aspect of our lives. Practicing upon these guidelines will prove beneficial to ourselves, whereas going against these guidelines will be detrimental to us alone. All the teachings of the Shariah are for our benefit and the benefit of the society at large. Allah (SWT) does not benefit by us practicing upon the teachings of the Shariah.

Amongst the guidelines of the Shariah are, that it has given some members of society or family status above others and that they be respected and obeyed. However, this status that Islam has afforded certain people, is only to assist people in the smooth running of their affairs in this World. It, in no way ensures a lofty status for them in terms of the hereafter, if they are disobedient to the laws of Allah (SWT). Similarly, together with the status, that Islam gives certain individuals, Islam has placed certain responsibilities and duties upon them that they are duty bound to fulfill. Each person is entitled to certain rights and has to fulfill certain obligations and responsibilities.

With respect to a marriage and family life, Islam has taught us that for all practical purposes, the husband is the head of the family. He is responsible to steer and guide the family towards the fulfillment of the teachings of the Shariah without breaking it apart and to maintain the family in as far as their Worldly requirements are concerned. This is a huge responsibility that husbands have upon their shoulders. Together with this responsibility, the rest of the family is required to assist the husband/father in fulfilling his responsibility by co-operating with him and obeying his commands. This does not mean that the husband should behave like a dictator. Rather, the husband is required to go about his duties in an affectionate manner and through consultation with the rest of the family. However, once the husband has made a decision which should not be against the Shariah and is not unreasonable as well, then the rest of the family should fulfill this request of the husband/father which would Inshallah be for the greater benefit of the family. Notwithstanding this, if the family has a different opinion in certain matters, these should be raised with love and respect and the husband, too is required to consider these respects.

Of course, when it comes to matters that are against the teachings of the Shariah then we are not obliged to follow any such request.

2. Allah (SWT) in his infinite wisdom gave the right to effect a divorce to man alone, in whom the ingredients of thought, end-perception and forbearance are more pronounced than in a woman. This free choice was not given in the hands of women so that the disposition of being overtaken by transitory emotions, which is more pronounced in women as compared to men, may not become the cause of divorce.

But women too, are not totally deprived of this right lest they are left with no alternaive but to keep groaning under the cruelty of her husband. She was given the right to seek a divorce or a khula from her husband. She could offer to pay a sum of money to the husband in lieu of her release from the marriage. (adapted from Ma'ariful Quraan)

Of course khula also has specific injunctions and rulings which are to be applied. Further, when entering into the marriage or at anytime thereafter, a woman may seek that the husband delegates his right to divorce to the woman herself (which is not preferred) or to a third party which is preferably a body of Ulama or other competent persons. She is also given the right to take her case to a court presided by a judge who qualifies as such under the rules of Sharia, present her complaint, prove her case and get the marriage annulled or secure a divorce. In case a Muslim judicial system does not exist in a certain country, the woman may take her case to a tribunal of learned people to could exercise the same procedures adopted by an Islamic court and annul the marriage.

3. Allah, out of His infinite wisdom, has taught, that woman should remain within their home as far as possible and if they require to go out then they could do so provided they adopt the Hijaab and Pardah. This guideline does not mean that women are not alowed to leave their homes at all. Rather, all it means, is that a woman should remain with the confines of her home and should not leave the home unnecessarilly. If she is to leave the home due to some necessity, she is required to don the hijaab for her own benefit and that of the community at large.

Again, if one were to analyse this guideline of the Shariah, the beneficiaries of acting upon it, are we ourselves. Allah (SWT) does not benefit from such commands in anyway. The harms that have engulfed society, in the form of rapes, promiscuity, pornography, adultery, fornication and the like, are not hidden from us. As such, we should consider the kindness of the Shariah upon us by guiding us in this manner rather, than cosidering these commands to be hindrances and obstacles in our path to progress. An Urdu poet has mentioned, " Take us into your prison so that we may be free". In other words, true imancipation, freedom, success and progress lies in chaining oneself up in the shackles of the Shariah. I also recommend that you study in particular the commentary of Surah Nur and Surah Ahzaab, from Ma'ariful Quran.

4. A woman does not have to stay with her in laws. This is not a directive of the Shariah. However, if circumstances are such that one is required to live with one's in laws, then niether should the inlaws consider it their right that the daughter inlaw obey them nor should the daughter inlaw unduely neglect them. There should be understanding and affection from both sides. The following few points may assist one in such a situation or other similar situations in life:

a) Whatever one does  or says (both inlaws and daughter inlaw) should be for the pleasure of Allah (SWT). If one feels that Allah (SWT) may not be pleased with a certain statement or action abstain from it. DO FOR ALLAH's PLEASURE! HE WILL GIVE YOU FROM HIS TREASURE!

b) Do not say or do anything on the basis of you egos or emotions. This will guide you in all aspects of life.

c) Do not have expectations of anyone.

d) Try your best to please your inlaws. Do not raise anything directly with them as far as possible. Raise any concerns you may have with your husband, with wisdom and kind words.

e) Remember, if we say the right thing, in the right manner, with the right intention and on the right occasion it will have the right effect.

f) Each person should focus on his/her duties rather than their rights. If we fulfill our responsibilities, our rights will Inshallah take care of themselves.

5. You have referred to verse 34 of Surah Nisa. Verse 34 opens with an important statement which has been translated as "men stand caretakers of women". Qawwaam, qayyam or qayyim in Arabic denotes a person who holds the responsibility or has the duty and charge to manage a job or run a system or take care of what has to be done about something, controlling all related factors therein. The standard role of man, with regard to women, has been mentioned in this verse through the word , "qawwaam" . It is obvious that, for any group-living, big or small, or for any organised system, it is rationally and customarilly necessary that the group or system have some head or chief or authority so that he can arbitrate in the event of a difference and take decisions to run affairs smoothly. This need is there also in as far as families are concerned and Allah (SWT) in his infinite wisdom, elected men for this responsibility because their natural capabilities are more profound that those of women and children.

The message from this verse and other verses is that the rights of women are as incumbent upon men as the rights of men are upon women, and the rights of both are similar to eachother with the exception that men have a certain precedence in functional authority, although this too is hemmed with other balancing factors. As explained in other verses of the Holy Quran, this mantle of authority placed on the shoulders of men is not that of a dictator and a tyrant. While exercizing this authority, man is bound by the supreme law of Islam, the Shariah. He must act on the principle of consultation and follow good councel. He just cannot act at the spur of his whim or his wild instincts. THe command given to him is: و عاشروهن بالمعروف, treat women well, as recognized.

This aspect of mutual consultation also appears in verse 233 of Surah Baqarah. Here men have been instructed to act in consultation with wives in family affairs. After this clarification, the technical authority of man should not be a source of heart-burning for women. Still, in view of the probability that women may take this arrangement unhappily, Allah (SWT) explained two reasons for giving men this authority. One reason relates to the wisdom of creation which is beyond the control of any human being, and the other refers to a factor which comes through one's efforts and endeavours.

The first reason has been mentioned in the words: بما فضل الله بعضهم على بعض, which means that Allah (SWT) has caused some to excell others in qualities under his exclusive wisdom and consideration. In other words this is a God given grace. Men have done nothing to get it and there is nothing wrong with women that they do not have it. It is simply based on the wisdom of creation , and exclusive privalege of the Creator.

The second reason relates to what is achieved with an effort. This reason is pointed out by the words, وبما انفقوا من اموالهم, which means that men spend their money, pay dower and take responsibility of fulfilling all the needs of women. Hence, the precedence.

After mentioning the qualities of a good wife, the verse thereafter turns to women who are either straight disobedient to their husbands or fail to co-operate with them in running family affairs in the recognised manner. The Holy Quran gives men three methods of correcting their behaviour. These are to be followed in the order they have been mentioned. So, the verse says, that if you fear or face disobedience from women, the first step towards their correction is that you should talk it over with them nicely and softly. Still, if they remain adamant and do not change their attitude by conciliatory council alone, the next step is not to share the same bed with them, so that they may realize the displeasure of the husband as expressed through this sybolicseparation, and may feel sorry for their conduct. The Holy Quran uses the words, في المضاجع, at this point, meaning 'in beds'. It is from here that Muslim jurists have deduced that this staying apart should be limited to 'beds' and not to the 'house' itself. In other words, the woman should not be left alne in the house, something which is bound to hurt her feeling much more and which makes the possibility of further straining of relations far stronger.

A companion reports:
I said: ' O Messenger of Allah, what right do our wives have on us?' He said, 'that you feed them when you eat, provide them with apparels to wear when you have these for yourselves, and do not hit the face, and do not say abuses to her, and do not leave them apart unless it be within the house.' (Mishkaat, p 281)

If this gentle admonition fails to produce any effect, some corrective form of a litte 'beating' has been allowed as a last resort, of course, in a manner that does not affect the body nor goes to the undesirable limits of hurt or injury to the skin or bones. As for slapping or hitting the face it is absolutely forbidden.

The first two methods of admonition, that is seeking to convince and leaving apart in beds, are more or less an exercise in nobility against arrogant lack of compromise. Prophets and their righteous followers have spoken in favour of it. That they practised what the preached is also a proven fact. But, this third method of admonition, i.e. light 'beating', has been permitted as a forced option in a particular mode. Right along with this option given to men, it appears in the Hadith:, ولن يضرب خياركم, which means that 'good men among you will never beat women'. Thus, such an action is nowhere reported from the Blessed Prophets of Allah.

In short, the principle of family life given in the first sentence of this verse is that, despite the rights of men and women being equal in almost everything, there is, for men, a certain precedence laced with authority vis-avis women, and they operate thereunder. Under this basic principle, there can be tw classes of women in practical life. One of them stands by this basic principle, abided by her covenant, accepted the functional authority of man and obeyed him in deference of the wise divine arrangement. The other class of women are those who failed to live by this principle in its fullness. As for the first category, it provides for itself a perfect guarantee of family peace and well being which does not need any correction. However, the second category of women require correction. For this purpose, the second sentence of the verse offers a compact system which would help correct things within the four walls of the house. (Adapted from Ma'ariful Qur'aan)

6. Jihaad is fardh in some places, whereas in other this is not the case. With regards to staying in a non-Muslim state, it is not Haraam for one to settle in such states with the correct intentions. However, one should perform Istikhaara and consult with a senior person who is aware of one's circumstances who will be able to advise one accordingly and thereafter allow one to make an informed decision. However, if one fears that one will be unable to practice upon the fundementals of the Shariah at such a place, then settling there would be objectionable.
7. Indeed, men too should stay away from places of fitna and if they are able to undertake correspondence learning then this should be done over attending universities that have become places of great fitna and endanger the beliefs and actions of people. However, if there is no such correspondence course available then out of necessity a man may be allowed to attend a university in accordance with necessity provided that he fulfills all the dictates of the Shariah and abstains from all sins. The same applies to women who require to undertake a course, such as medicine, where there are no female only colleges available and the Muslim community requires female medicale practitioners. However, both men and women should undertake such a step y consultation with senior Ulama and whilst adopting the laws of hijaab etc.
8.  In principle, it is not corect for a woman to travel without a Mahram even if it is to study at a Darul Uloom.
I trust that the above has addressed some of your queries. May Allah (SWT) grant all of us the true understanding of the Shariah and allow us al to realize that these regulations are for our own benefit. Aameen. I also recommend that you consult some Allah Concious Aalim who adheres to the Sunnah in matters such as these. May Allah (SWT) grant you every bit of success in this world and the next. Aameen.

And Allah Ta'ala Knows Best
Was Salaam
Shafiq Jakhura (Mufti)                                      
Fatwa Dept.          

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