Questions Regarding a Wife’s Obligations in Sharī‘ah

Question

Are wives responsible for housework?

Answer

The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “Each of you is responsible and will be asked about his responsibility…The man is responsible for [maintaining] his household and the woman is responsible for [the upkeep of] the house and children of her husband.” (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, 5200) Imām al-Khaṭṭābī explains: “As for a man’s responsibility over his family, it [means] supervising them, managing their affair and fulfilling their right of maintenance and [good] companionship. As for the woman’s responsibility over the house of her husband, it [means] good management in the upkeep of his house and minding those under her care like [his] dependents, guests and servants.” (A‘lām al-Ḥadīth, 1:580)[1]

It is reported that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) determined that Fāṭimah (raḍiyallāhu ‘anhā), his daughter, is responsible for the work inside the house, while Alī (raḍiyallāhu ‘anhu), her husband, is responsible for the work outside the house. (Muṣannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, 29677)[2] ‘Ᾱbid al-Sindī explains that work “outside the house” refers to things like “collecting firewood and water, and acquiring maintenance”, while work “inside the house” refers to activities like “grinding, baking and kneading”. (Ṭawāli‘ al-Anwār, 6:410)[3] The work was so difficult for Fāṭimah (raḍiyallāhu ‘anhā) that she complained to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) of marks on her hands, and asked for a maidservant. The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), however, told her that better than a maidservant is to recite tasbīḥ before going to sleep. (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, 5361) The author of al-Hidāyah, Imām al-Marghīnānī, thus explains: “When a woman is from those who serve themselves, she must cook and bake [and do housework], because the Prophet (upon him peace) allocated the chores inside the house to Fātimah (Allāh be pleased with her).” (Mukhtārāt al-Nawāzil, 2:194)[4] Continue Reading

Women Attending the Masjid – A Clarification

According to the clear statements of the Ḥanafī Fuqahā’ and their understanding of the Dalā’il of Sharī‘ah, women should neither attend congregational ṣalāhs at the masjid nor attend the Eid Ṣalāh. Many people have raised objections against this position. Some of these objections reflect common misunderstandings. We therefore felt it would be appropriate to write a comprehensive clarification, addressing the following issues:

  • Approach to Dīn and its Aḥkām (commands)
  • Rulings may change based on circumstances
  • Opinions of the Fuqahā’ and their explanations of the Dalā’il
  • It is more rewarding for women to pray at home
  • A woman’s emergence from the home should be restricted

In the course of the clarification, we hope to address most of the substantive objections raised against the Ḥanafī stance, in particular the claim that it opposes the clear guidance of the Sunnah on women being allowed to attend congregational ṣalāhs at the masjid and being encouraged to attend Eid Ṣalāh.