Duties of Men According to Traditions and Law
Legal-Jurisprudence < Article <

Violation of the Laws of Marriage by the Husband and Wife in the Holy Quran:

    The most important verses to which the jurists have referred to as sources, which are very clear in this respect, are verses 34 and 128 of Surah "Women". We will first discuss violation of marriage laws by the husband, cases of violation, the verdict, and finally the implementation guarantee of the law. (The literal meaning of "Noshuz" is given in chapter I).

    Verse 128 of Surah "Women" in the Holy Quran is as follows,

" و اِنِ امْرَأهٌ خافَتْ مِنْ بَعْلِها نُشُوزاً اَوْ اِعراضاً فَلا جناحَ عَلَيْهِما اَنْ يُصْلِحا بَيْنَهُما صُلْحاً وَ الصُلْحُ خَيْرٌ وَ اُحْضِرَتِ الأنفُسُ الشُحَّ وَ اِن تُحْسِنوا و تَتَّقوا فَاِنَّ اللهَ كانَ بِما تَعمَلُون خَبيراً "
"And if a woman fears ill usage or desertion on the part of her husband, there is no blame on them, and reconciliation is better, and avarice has been made to be present in the (people’s) minds; and if you do good (to others) and guard (against evil), then surely Allah is aware of what you do."


Assessment of the Main Points in the Verse Concerning the Violation by Husband:

    In every word of this verse like in other laws of Islam, signs of the tendency to perfection wisdom are quite clear, as well as respecting the human personality. Observing the mutual rights of the couple and basing their mutual relations on moral and human standards is quite evident. Discussion of some of the points referred to in this verse follows:

1.    The verdict of violation is not merely against women but in the case of violation by the husband the wife also can encourage and force him to do the right thing while observing the laws and accepting the truth.

2.    Before cold and indifferent conflicts between the couple and violation by husband or wife endanger the prestige of the family, each spouse must try to reform the organization of the family and prevent its breaking and dissolution. Therefore in both verses concerning violation by the husband and wife the word 'fear' has been mentioned, "the woman of whose violation you fear" or "if a woman fears her husband's violation of marriage laws."  This implies that as soon as the husband or wife feels lack of interest or a sign of violation by the other party he or she must try to eliminate the problem and correct the mistakes/sins.

3.    Occasionally disobedience and disregarding the wife's rights by the husband causes problems in their relationship and sometimes disregarding the establishment of love and compassion, conversation and company by the husband or failure in the duties of fatherhood are the causes of disputes and difficulties. The aforementioned verse covers both cases and recommends peace and reconciliation.

4.    The mutual rights prescribed by Islam for the couple to reform the organization of the family are  'rights' rather than 'commands'. Therefore, the two parties can forgo some of their rights depending on the circumstances. Also in the compromise between themselves, they may forgo a right instead of demanding it, in order to maintain the family.

5.  In case of conflicts and disagreements observing the principle of " صلح " (compromise) and friendship is more compatible with  common sense and it has priority in the strengthening and maintenance of the family.

6.    The source of many human disasters and difficulties is selfishness and being engrossed in personal interests, therefore Islam gives priority to common interests in social issues concerning the family and society, and if personal interests interfere with the interests of the family or society, it emphasizes the preference of common interests over the individual interests of the husband or wife alone.

7.    Tendency to benevolence and virtue in order to maintain and strengthen the pillars of the family and to avoid injustice and egoism are among the most important principles to be observed by both parties in the family although the interpreters of Quran have considered the man as the one being addressed by this verse.

    A moral note by "Allamah Tabatabai" about the verse: he says, "if you do good and are God fearing, surely God is aware of the things you do" is an admonition to men reminding them not to forget benevolence and virtue and not to oppress others. It cautions them to bear in mind that God is aware of everything they do, and that although women can forgo their right in a compromise, men must not force them to do that.


The Jurists View on the Violation of the Rights of Women by Men:    

    The author of the valuable book "Kavaherul Kalam" interpreting the verse says, "when violation of the rights of the wife occurs by the husband through disregarding her obligatory rights such as the right of "spending the night with her or maintenance", it is up to her to demand her rights and admonish her husband to observes these rights. If he refuses she can file a complaint to the judge in order to demand her rights and force him to perform his duties, but she must not leave or hit him". Then he continues, "but if the judge through his own knowledge or through the confession of the husband or the testimony of the witnesses (who are aware of the situation of this couple) finds out that the man has violated the rights of his wife, he will forbid him from violation and order him to perform his duties, and if he refuses to do that, the judge must pay the support payment to the wife out of the husband's money even if this payment intrudes into the selling of his land or house".

    On the other hand, the widespread negation and forbidding of any kind of oppression and inequity in the Quranic verses and traditions from the innocent Imams (P) concerning all affairs proves that the holy religion of Islam never approves of disregarding any of the rights of one side or unreasonable support the other party.

    Another point about violation of the rights of the wife by the husband is to describe and clarify the obligatory duties of the husband and to determine the cases of violation which will be dealt with in detail in the next essays.


Depicting the Husband's Duties According to the Traditions:

    On the whole, we can classify the traditions stating or implying the duties of the husband into three categories and exemplify each category.

    The first category of traditions is about 'honorable conduct' towards the spouse:

1.    Imam Reza (P) narrating traditions from the holy prophet (P) said, "the blessed and exalted God is more kind and tender to the feminine sex than to the masculine". And then he added, "no man pleases his wife and closely related women without God pleasing him on the resurrection day".

2.    The holy prophet (P) said, "the best man among you is the best towards his wife and children, and I am the best among you towards my wife and children".

3.    Ali, the commander of the faithful (P) writes in his 'will' to his son Muhammad Hanafieh, "speak honorably with your wife and be a good companion for her, both in speech and deed, so that your happiness may become pure".

4.    Imam Sadegh (P) said, "may God bless the servant who handles the affairs between himself and his wife well".

5.    Imam Sadegh (P) narrated from the holy prophet (P) that the Archangel Gabriel", recommended and spoke well of and about women to me so much that I thought it was not proper for a man to divorce his wife except because of indecency".

6.    Imam Sadegh (P) narrated from the holy prophet (P) that "when a man says to his wife, "I love you" she will never forget it".

From the collection of traditions in this category several valuable points are concluded:

1)    Comprehensiveness of the Islamic commands and the special attention Islam pays to women and their position.

2)    Respect for the spouse and consideration of his/her dignity and nobility, observing of conditions and balance between capacity and duties.

3)    The husband's honorable conduct and moderation is considered as a strengthening element and the main pillar of the family building and the major factor that provides security and peace for the family.

4)    Honorable behavior by the man is the most fundamental factor in creating obedience, willingness and impressionability in his wife. If a man performs all his duties such as providing food, clothing, dwelling, etc, but does not have honorable conduct and is not a good and positive example in his deeds, there will be no guarantee for growth, security, and stability in the family.


The Second Category of Traditions:

    This category deals with the duties of the man in providing financial affairs and the external needs for the life of the wife, some of which examples follow:

1.    Ali (P) and Fatemah (P) asked the holy prophet (P) concerning the performance of services. He assigned the services needed inside the house to Fatemah (P), and the outside services to Ali (P).

2.    Ishagh Ebne Ammar asked Imam Sadegh (P) about the right of wife upon her husband, he said, "that he provide enough food for her, and also provide her clothing, and forgive her if she commits an error".

3.    Imam Musa Kazim (P) said, "it is proper for man to create financial prosperity for his wife so that she never long for his death". Then he added, "when there is an increase in the prosperity and blessings for a man it is appropriate that he also increase his bounty to his family".

4.    The holy prophet (P) stated: "Whoever enters the market and buys a gift and takes it to his family is like a person who carries something to those who need it".

5.    And the holy prophet (P) said: "The worst of men is the one who is a  slanderer, miser, foul mouthed, and eats alone… and leaves his wife to the care of others".  


The Third Category of Traditions:

    Before discussing this category, the statement of two points is necessary although they have been discussed previously.

1.    In Islam, marriage is not for the mere satisfaction of  sexual desires but it is a factor in transferring values from  predecessors to the successors. This is why maintaining human nobility requires the observance of a series of do’s and don’ts, notes, instructions and laws.

2.    Marriage is not a merely superficial need, but it is the source of the unfolding of the principles of "love and compassion" based on the beautiful words of Allah, "and He placed among you love and compassion", which is not a mere 'placing' but it is a reality in the depth of life and nature and in the mind of man and woman. The first part of this phrase is 'love' which is pure love and the second part of it is "compassion" which is the result of devotion, self- sacrifice and regarding and taking others into consideration. Therefore all relations in married life, even sexual intercourse and procreation are affected by this principle.

The third category of traditions is about the duties of the couple in respect to their relations, some of which follows:

1.    Hassan Ebne Jahm said, "I saw Imam Mussa Ebne Ja'afar (P) who had dyed his hair and beard with henna, I was surprised and asked, "why have you dyed your hair and beard?" he answered, "attention to one's spouse is a cause of strengthening her chastity, disregarding of this duty often induces women to lose their chastity". Then he added, "do you like to see your wife with an untidy appearance like yours?". I said, "no". He said, "this is a fact". And continued, "cleanliness, neatness, trimming of hair and pleasant scent, and frequent relations are characteristics of the prophets".

2.    The holy prophet (P) said, "a man who spends the night in a place other than his house in a city where his family live ruins his manliness.

3.    Tradition No. 400 from Imam Ali (P) says, "a man should not rush at the time of intercourse with his wife, because a woman also has a need in this respect that should be satisfied".

4.    Imam Sadegh (P) was asked about the verse, "a mother should not be pressed because of her child". He answered, "sometimes a woman who suckles her baby refuses to accept her husband's offer for intercourse fearing pregnancy, and sometimes the husband refuses the offer from his wife for fear of pregnancy.



    From the study and examination of the verses and traditions concerning the duties of the husband, disregarding the obligatory ones of which is called "Noshuz", that is violation of rights, we can conclude that some of them aim to make the husband practically observe the rights of the spouse and family, and some others emphasize and recommend the observance of spiritual and moral principles in the family in order to strengthen the relations between the couple and make the family circle warm and attractive. Some examples about both cases follow:  

1)    The Obligatory Duties of the Husband:

One.                   Honorable conduct towards his wife.

Two.                  Provision of dwelling for her according to his capacity.

Three.               Provision of food and clothing as is common.

Four.                  Avoidance of oppression, harm, beating, abuse, or profanity.

Five.                   Observance of the right of spending the night with her and having intercourse with her.

Six.                       Observance that of the interval between having sexual intercourse should not exceed four months.

Seven.              Avoidance of thinking about another woman during intercourse with his wife.

Eight.                 Avoidance of having sexual intercourse in the presence of children because it may encourage adultery (this is not among the mutual duties but it has been strongly emphasized in Islam.)

2)    Non-Obligatory (Recommended) Duties of the Husband.

One.                   Provision of different types of food, fruit and clothing for the family.

Two.                  Not refusing to pay for the living expenses.

Three.               Provision of welfare and comfort for wife and children in case of financial prosperity.

Four.                  Doing well towards his wife even by giving her gifts and presents.

Five.                   Have a pleasant and neat appearance in the presence of his wife.

Six.                       Using fragrance and perfumes when he is with his wife.

Seven.              Spending the night with his wife when he stays at home.

Eight.                 Have intercourse with her when she shows inclination.

Nine.                  Not to refuse having children except in special cases.

Ten.                     To forgive her faults and show patience and moderation towards her bad temperament.

Eleven.            To refuse divorce except for a plausible reason.

Twelve.          Not to assign her duties beyond her capacity.

Thirteen.        To prepare for voluntary sexual intercourse and avoid violence and inhumane treatment.

Fourteen.     To speak honorably and be a good companion for her.

Fifteen.            To express his love and affection towards his wife.


Cases of Husband's Violation of the Rights of His Wife in the Law:

1) Refusal to Pay for Maintenance:

    This may happen either due to poverty and inability to pay or refusal of the husband. Article 1106 of the civil law states in this respect as follows:

"In the permanent marriage contract, the husband is responsible to pay the maintenance of the wife.

Refusal to Pay Alimony is of Two Types:

1)    Refusal

One.                   The husband refuses and is not willing to pay maintenance.

Two.                  The husband is not able to pay for maintenance and his wife has given him a grace period to provide alimony but he has shown idleness and refuses to work to earn his livelihood.

2) Inability to Provide Support

One.                   The wife has not been aware of the inability of the husband to provide support and has married him taking it for granted that he could.

Two.                  The wife has been aware of the inability of the husband to provide alimony before marriage. In this case the husband is granted a grace period to work and provide maintenance, otherwise measures will be taken according to the law. The civil law has prescribed the solution to this problem as follows:

Article 1111: In the case of the man's refusal to provide support for his wife she can apply to the court of justice, then the judge will decide about the amount of alimony and sentence the husband to pay it.

Article 1112: If implementation of the above-mentioned verdict is not possible, measures will be taken according to article 1129 as follows: "In the case of refusal of he husband to provide maintenance and the impossibility of the implementation of the verdict, the wife may petition the judge and he will force the man to divorce his wife. The same is true in the case of the husband's inability to provide maintenance.


What is Alimony and What is Its Amount?

    The clear religion of Islam with its sublime social thoughts and ideas not only promoted woman from the abyss of abasement to the summit of glory and grace but also impressed intellectual and enlightened people with its valuable laws. Islam seeks to reform the social status and improve the living conditions of the people in various aspects. Islam grants ownership rights to women and charges the husband with the responsibility of provision and maintenance for his wife and children. This is in order to maintain her dignity and enable her to play the roles of mother and spouse, and to nurture, tutor and train their children. In the culture of Islam, woman is neither property to be possessed nor a means of mere enjoyment, but rather a beautiful being on whose face glow "the signs of beauty", and is a source of manifesting formal and spiritual beauties. Yes, Islam has granted woman the right that after validating the marriage contract she can receive the marriage portion (dowry) from her husband as a reward for her purity and truthfulness and sincerity and demand maintenance from her husband as a token of appreciation for her fidelity, affection, and sincere cooperation. She has assigned this task to him in order to be free to fulfill the special tasks of pregnancy, bearing and raising children and maintaining harmony and peace in the family.


Definition of Maintenance by Law:

    Article 1107 defines alimony as follows:

    Maintenance includes dwelling, clothing, food, the house furniture and household items, commonly proportionate to the dignity of the wife and the hiring of a servant if she is used to one, or due to disease or inability".


The Reasons for Payment of Maintenance According to Verses and Traditions:

    Verses 33 and 229 of Surah "Baqarah" say that man must either retain his wife honorably or part from her honorably. Also according to a tradition from the holy prophet (P), Hind, the wife of Abu Sofyan went to the holy prophet (P) and said, "my husband Abu Sofyan is a miser and does not pay maintenance for my children, and I have to take the alimony from his property secretly without his awareness. What must I do? Do I have the right to do it? The holy prophet (P) answered, "take your alimony to the extent that is common". This tradition has been narrated by Shaikh Tussi and some other jurists. He then adds in his interpretation of the tradition, "there are several useful points in this tradition, first if the right of a person is not given he can take it even if he takes it secretly. Of course, some of the jurists have made this case conditional on the permission from an Islamic judge. Secondly, one who has a right can take it because when the holy prophet (P) permitted the wife to take her alimony he did not make it conditional. Thirdly providing alimony is the duty of the husband whether or not the wife is affluent.

    Imam Khomeini says in Tahrirol-vasilah, "the wife's right of maintenance is not conditioned on her wealth or poverty and need and it is a duty of her husband even if she is the wealthiest".


How to Receive Maintenance:

    There are two ways for the receipt and payment of alimony:

1)    The wife lives in the house of her husband as is common and the husband provides the living expenses.

2)    The wife demands her alimony on a daily basis and her husband pays it in that manner. The Shia jurists believe that the choice of one of these two alternatives is with the wife and the man can oblige her to choose the first one.


The Conditions for Discontinuance of Alimony:

    Article 1108 of the civil law states: "If the wife refuses to perform matrimonial duties towards her husband without any religious and legal obstacle, she does not have the right to demand alimony. Therefore any violation of legal duties by the wife deprives her of the right of maintenance.


The Conditions for Obligation of Alimony:

    Unlike the marriage portion, alimony, according to some jurists is not obligatory for the husband as soon as the marriage contract occurs. It becomes obligatory after the consummation of the marriage through the willingness (for sexual intercourse) of the wife towards her husband and the permanency of the marriage. The author of Jabaherul kalam says, "according to the known words some of Imamieh (Shia) jurists, there are two conditions for obligatory alimony:

1.    The marriage is permanent, therefore no maintenance is obligatory in the case of temporary marriage.

2.    The consummation of the marriage has occurred through the compliance of the wife to her husband. Some jurists consider maintenance to be obligatory during the interval between the taking of the vows at the marriage ceremony and the consummation of the marriage.  

1)    During the interval between the wedding vows and the consummation of the marriage payment of alimony is not obligatory because consummation of the marriage has not been realized (according to some jurists.)

2)    If the wife refuses but complies later she does not have the right of alimony in the interval.

3)    Payment of maintenance is obligatory for the husband during the waiting period in revocable divorce (required legal period before remarriage) because the definite dissolution of marriage is not in effect before the end of waiting period is over.

    Iranian civil law states in article 1109, "the alimony of revocable divorce is obligatory on the husband during the waiting period unless she had been divorced during the time of her disobedience. But during the waiting time after irrevocable divorce the woman has no right of receiving maintenance unless she is carrying her husband's child, in which case she has the right of alimony until the birth of the child.


The amount of maintenance as mentioned in the civil law article:

    It is based on the needs of the wife according to the common customs of the citizens and the women of her social class. Due to new and indefinite needs, the amount of maintenance does not have a fixed criterion. Therefore it is calculated and decided by the customs and laws. Therefore, maintenance can be defined as, "all means and facilities a woman needs considering the level of her civilization, her living environment, her physical and mental conditions and there is not any set criterion to tell which need is the main and essential element. It should be decided by the common law. Nevertheless, it is appropriate for the wife to consider the financial ability of her husband, because they are members of the same body. For instance if a rich man marries a poor woman he has no right to pay her alimony according to her past living conditions, or if a rich woman marries a simple worker she must not expect him to prepare a luxurious life for her. Some Shiah jurists believe that the wife must consider her husband's conditions and abilities. According to article 12 of the "family protection" act, "the court will determine the amount of alimony during the waiting term with regards to the ethical and financial positions of the two parties".


 Discontinuance of Intercourse:

    Another case of the husband's violation of the rights of his wife is to stop having sexual intercourse with her for an interval of time longer than four months even in temporary marriage unless he has her permission in the absence of a plausible excuse.


Misconduct by the Husband:

    It is difficult to exactly determine the cases of misconduct and honorable conduct because the habits, social customs, the level of civilization, and religious character of each tribe and nation create unique definitions of honorable behavior. However we can say briefly that all deeds which are considered by society as an insult, violation of the rights, dishonor or what is against the continuity of the married life on the basis of mutual love and compassion are examples of misconduct. According to article 1103 of the civil law the couple are commanded to have honorable conduct towards each other.


Examples of Misconduct are:

1)    Ill temper, harming, beating, or abusing the wife.

2)    Prohibiting the wife from living in his residence, that is depriving her of proper housing. Of course it is advisable that the wife accept living in her husband's residence, but if it is not suitable and safe and she does not accept, the husband must provide proper housing. On the other hand, if the wife fails to do her duty in this respect she will be deprived of the right of maintenance. If the man abandons the warm center of the family and does not agree to live in a common house with his wife she can apply to the court and accuse him of misconduct or deserting the family or according to the article 2130 she can sue for divorce. It is necessary to mention that the duty concerning the common dwelling is considered violated when they refuse to observe it without any plausible excuse. But if it is reasonable, for example if the wife refuses to live in a common house with her husband due to his having contacted venereal disease, she will not be deprived of maintenance.

    According to article 1114 of the civil law the wife must dwell in the home that her husband chooses unless she has been given the right to choose the dwelling according to a condition she has included in the marriage contract, agreed on and singed by her husband.

3)    To refuse cooperation and assistance in strengthening the family foundation. According to article 1114 of the civil law the couple should cooperate and help each other in strengthening the family base and in the rearing and training of their children. The extent of cooperation is determined by the common law that, if the husband is careless and refuses to do this duty, the wife can sue for divorce by accusing the man of misconduct and causing distress and constriction for his wife.

4)    Infidelity of the husband towards the wife. Nothing is mentioned in the civil law concerning the infidelity of the couple towards each other because this duty is quite obvious. In the Islamic culture any sort of illegal relationships of the couple with other individuals is prohibited and disapproved of particularly for those who are married, and whose duty and punishment are more severe than for  others who are single. In the civil law, although the illegal relations of the couple with other individuals is a public crime, it has not been left without legal implementation from the view point of personal rights because it gives the wife the right to sue for divorce as a case of misconduct of the husband and as an offence which has caused disgrace to the family, or the compensation of spiritual and material damages by the offender.

    Two examples of intimate procreative relationships exist.  1) marriage  2) adultery or extramarital affairs. The purpose behind the severe penalty for adultery is the high value, which Islam ascribes to the human being.   A human being may result from this procreative relationship therefore that relationship must be sinless and legitimate.  The man’s gift to the woman in the marriage contract is mandatory in order validate the marriage.  Offering gifts is an example human value which animals do not practice. If relationships are only founded on instincts, the legal system cannot pursue the child’s rights to mother’s love and father’s support.  The woman may be easily identified and made to fulfill her motherhood duties but the father may not be known or found otherwise.  Statistics show that countries with the highest rate of abortion, unwanted births and pregnancies, and sexually transmitted diseases among unmarried couples are countries where sex education and training in contraceptive methods is mandatory from 11 years of age.

Other cases of misconduct, for which the wife can sue for divorce as causing distress and constriction for her, are:

1)    Not giving up an occupation, which is against family interests, and the prestige of the wife.

2)    A destructive addiction which causes discontinuance of the married life or distress and constriction for the wife.

3)    Deserting of the wife and family life.

4)    Committing a crime, which is against the dignity of the wife, identification and examination of which is up to the court.

5)    Being sterile or unable to have children due to other diseases.


Guarantee Penal Implementation in Case of the Husband Violation of the Rights of his Wife:

    The wife has no right to punish or abandon her husband but if he refuses to pay her rights and if the judge's first conviction of the man was not effective the judge can punish him appropriately. We have already mentioned the view of the author of "Javaherol Kalam about violation of rights by man. He says", when the judge becomes aware of the violation of rights by the husband through his confession, or statements of witnesses or people, he forbids him from repeating the illegal deed and forces him to perform the neglected duty and if it was not effective the judge will punish the man due to disregarding of his duties.

    Imam Khomeini also has a similar view about this case in his book "Tarirulvasilah". Therefore even in the case of ill temper and injuring of the wife, if her admonition and the judge's recommendation did not prevent him from repeating it, the judge can punish him. The Islamic punishment and public punishment acts also have provisions on the same basis, which will not be stated because they have been frequently mentioned before.


Legal and Illegal Reconciliation Regarding the Husband:

    As mentioned previously, if a man fails or refuses to perform his obligatory duties, this case should be settled by the wife admonishing him and then demanding her rights, and if these actions are not effective she can apply to the judge. Concerning the refusal of a husband to perform conjugal duties solely due to his wife's old age or illness, if the wife is inclined to make a compromise in order to continue her married life, she can forgo some of her rights, for instance, the right of sexual intercourse. Of course in this case, justice should be observed without any oppression, compulsion or disregarding of her rights so that she does not feel that she must certainly forgo some of her rights. The kind of compromise is legal for the husband, which has been made with the full consent of his wife in order to maintain peace between the couple. According to the view of the author of "Hadaegh" if the husband refuses to pay some of the rights of his wife, and is not on speaking terms with her in order to force her to compromise, this compromise is undoubtedly illegal for him because there is no legal right for him to force her. Imam Khomeini too says that if a man disregards some of his wife's rights or hurts her by beating, abusing, etc, and forces her to give up her property or ignore her obligatory rights in order to get rid of his abuse whatever she has granted even if he did not intend to force her is invalid or forbidden.


source: Women’s Socio- Cultural Council’s Quarterly

Authors: Ezatossadat Mirkhani
Content Type: Article
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