Originally published in November 2011
Question: Is marital rape allowed in Islam?
Answer: As salaamu alaykum,
Thank you for asking this important question which has come to the fore in recent times, and which has been the cause of confusion for many people. Here are some important points to take into consideration when learning about this issue:
- It is absolutely haram (unlawful) for a man to harm his wife. The Prophet ﷺ prohibited harming others in general,1 and intensified that prohibition for harming other believers.2 If one is taught to hold ordinary people – with whom one shares no special relationship – in such sanctity, then what of the person one is linked to in the “weighty, serious bond” of marriage (Qur’an 4:21); who is one’s “garment” (2:187), and who lives under one’s ri’aaya, care and shepherdship, as mentioned in a prophetic tradition?3 Allah has described marriage as a relationship of kindness, mercy and love (30:21), and commands men to deal with their wives in an honorable way (4:19). Rape, abuse, ill treatment, and inflicting harm – be it physical, verbal or psychological – are completely unacceptable in such a relationship.
- It is true that the contract of marriage grants a husband the right to intimacy with his wife, and vice versa, however, this does not imply that one can seek to obtain this right violently or forcefully. Just as in any situation in which one has been deprived of one’s due rights, one must go through the proper channels to resolve the matter in a just and honorable way. At no time does it become permissible for someone to take it upon themselves to harm the other party in a misguided attempt to ‘take their right’. This would amount to a type of vigilantism or seeking of personal vengeance that has no place in Islamic tradition, in which we are taught to defer such disputes to those with religious and legal authority. This is clearly indicated in the words of the great scholar Taqi al-Din al-Subki, in his commentary on some verses of the Qur’an related to marriage:
“At the time when it becomes obligatory for a husband to provide financial support, clothing, (and other such provisions) for his wife, he should exert himself in doing so, and not be negligent in this duty such that his wife would have to file a complaint of his negligence with the judge [haakim], and in so doing spend from her own expenditures. …Similarly, a wife should be responsive to her husband’s request for intimacy, such that he would not need to bring a complaint (against her) to the judge, and in so doing spend from his own expenditures.”4
From these statements we see that a husband’s or wife’s proper recourse, when confronted with a marital issue they are unable to resolve, is to turn to the appropriate authority for guidance and direction. Violence or force of any kind is not an option.
- People often defend such behavior by citing prophetic traditions that strongly discourage women from refusing their husbands if they approach them for intimacy. While these texts underscore the importance of a wife fulfilling her spouse’s sexual needs (a reminder the Prophet ﷺ gave to men in a number of statements as well,5) they cannot be used to justify force. One such text goes on to describe the husband as one who, after being refused, “goes to bed angry.”6 If it were truly acceptable for a man to force himself on his wife, why wasn’t such an act mentioned here as a viable alternative to his wife’s refusal?
- Some people also seek to confuse this issue by citing the verses in the Qur’an that outline a disciplinary method of dealing with a wife who is nashiz.7 8 These verses are probably among the most misunderstood, misused and misapplied of the Qur’an in our times, and must be understood in their proper exegetical context. Since an in-depth explanation of these verses is beyond the scope of this article, it will be sufficient to state that darb – which is often translated as ‘to strike lightly or tap’ – has been strictly defined by our scholars and has numerous restrictions and conditions.9 From among them is that it is done in a manner that would not cause humiliation or harm to the person, and that it is only done when it is a means of helping reconcile between the spouses, and is not a cause of resentment, enmity or hatred between them.10 It is impossible for such verses – whether looked at lexically, exegetically, or otherwise – to be used to excuse violent or forced sexual relations with one’s wife. Dr. Jamal Badawi succinctly rejects these types of false claims by stating,
“Any excess, cruelty, family violence, or abuse committed by any Muslim can never be traced, honestly, to any revelatory text (Qur’an or hadith). Such excesses and violations are to be blamed on the person(s) himself, as it shows that they are paying lip service to Islamic teachings and injunctions and failing to follow the true Sunnah of the Prophet.”11
- Though marital rape would not warrant a hadd punishment12 in accordance to Shari`ah, this in no way means that such an act is acceptable or that it would go unpunished by an Islamic court. Some people mistakenly believe that the hadd punishments are the only ones that exist in Islamic law, but that is not the case. Even if an act does not fall into one of the specified categories for hadd punishment, a qadi [judge] still has the right to punish the person with imprisonment, corporal punishment (lashing), or anything else he deems suitable for the situation, the crime committed and the guilty individual (which is called zajr or ta’zeer).13 Some scholars even state that a wife who has been assaulted in such a manner by her spouse has the right to jirah, or civil redress, for her injuries.14
- Some scholars condemn such an assault as sinful and despicable while at the same time deeming it inappropriate to be labeled as ‘rape’. This is because of the presumption of consent implicit in the legal contract of marriage. It is important to note that such statements are not intended to condone the behavior, but are simply an expression of legal exactness. When taking such a case into consideration, scholars would not base a punishment on the sexual act itself, but on the harms, both psychological and physical, that stem from it. Such an assault – however it is labeled – is still considered by scholars to be unacceptable, sinful, and susceptible to punishment.
- If a man finds his wife unreceptive to his overtures of intimacy, he should put in some effort to be attentive, affectionate, and kind to his wife, and to fulfill the numerous recommendations the Prophet ﷺ made in regards to intimacy. Such problems may also be symptomatic of deeper issues in the relationship that need to be resolved. One should always take an introspective, constructive, and proactive approach to dealing with problems, focusing first on how one can change one’s own behavior to improve the situation, instead of simply blaming the other party or seeking to ‘punish’. It may also be necessary to seek counseling and advice from others who have expertise in these matters.
- An individual who engages in assault and abuse of any kind, especially towards family members, shows signs of underlying psychological problems that need to be treated. There is no level of frustration, anger, or overwhelming grievances – no matter how legitimate they may seem – that pardons such dehumanizing and callous behavior.
I hope these points have shed some light on this issue, and have made it clear that marital rape is not allowed or condoned by our deen, and is in fact a sinful act that a person can be held accountable for in this life, before the hereafter. In the very first verse in the chapter of the Qur’an entitled “Women”, Allah Most High warns us to be fearful of Him in demanding our rights upon each other. He in fact warns us to be fearful of Him twice in this verse, a sign of the seriousness with which we should take such matters:
“O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from a single soul and created from it its mate, and dispersed from both of them countless men and women. And fear Allah, through whom you demand your mutual rights, and (reverence) the wombs that bore you: Indeed Allah is ever, over you, an Observer.” (Qur’an, 4:1)
In conclusion, the Prophet ﷺ taught, “Only a noble man treats women in an honorable manner and only an ignoble man of low character treats women disgracefully.”15 May Allah make us people of noble character, who fear God in our dealings with others and who weigh our deeds and words well before they are weighed for us on the Day of Judgment.
Allah knows best.
- “There should be neither harming nor reciprocating harm.” This hadith can be found in An-Nawawi’s Forty Hadith. ↩
- “The whole of a Muslim for another Muslim is inviolable: his blood, his property, and his honor.” In Sahih Muslim, narrated by Abu Hurayra. It can also be found in An-Nawawi’s Forty Hadith ↩
- “A man is a shepherd in his family and is responsible for those in his care.” Part of a longer hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari, 2419. ↩
- Al Majmu’ Sharh al-Muhadhab, Vol. 16, pp. 414-415, Dar al-Fikr Publishers. ↩
- For example, when Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-Aas desired to stand in prayer for the entire night, the Prophet ﷺ reminded him, “Your body has a right over you and your wife has a right over you.” (Sahih al-Bukhari) He ﷺ also encouraged certain etiquettes and manners in intimacy that would bring satisfaction to the woman in a number of texts. ↩
- Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim. ↩
- Nushuz is commonly translated as rebellion, ill conduct, or arrogance in a way that jeopardizes the well-being of the marriage. Men can also be guilty of nushuz (See (Quran, 4:128). ↩
- (Quran, 4:34-35) ↩
- These conditions are detailed in many books of tafsir. For example, see Tafsir al-Qurtubi, Vol. 5, pp.172-173, Dar al-Kutub al-Masriyya, 2nd Edition. ↩
- Reliance of the Traveler, p.542 ↩
- (http://www.jannah.org/sisters/end.html) ↩
- Specified punishments outlined in the Quran for certain criminal acts. ↩
- See the chapter on Hudud in any book of fiqh for more information on the concept of zajr and ta’zeer. ↩
- From an excellent article entitled, “Rape & Incest: An Islamic Perspective”, found (here). ↩
- Sunan at-Tirmidhi. ↩
MashAllah, very clear and concise. Jazakullahukhairan. My friend just asked me about this and I answered her only in general, so it is good that you addressed this question. SubhanAllah, the amount of misunderstanding of these Ahadith and Ayat lead to many problems, due to people being ignorant and taking the statements out of context. I appreciate that you are addressing these serious issues that affect members of our Ummah. Once again, Jazakullahukhairan, Wasalamualikum.
Masha Allah nice article!!!
Jazaks much needed response to the Tea partier’s propaganda garbage.
May God reward you sister for your excellent research and wisdom and may this authentic knowledge crumble the misrepresentation of many Muslims whose cultural tendencies blinds them to our religions real teachings.
Mashallah sister Shazia; great article!
I have one question about whether we can call this “marital rape”. I assume that the scholars who have debated this issue and have researched it are all men ( I could be wrong). I understand the reasons for not calling it maritial rape (i.e. primary being that this term is not used in quran or hadith – I assume is the reason why). But because it is women who are mainly experiencing this “marital rape”, do you think the hesitation to use the term marital rape would be different if female scholars were debating this issue? And, to be honest I don’t know if any female scholars have made a stabb at interpreting this – and I’m not sure if it makes a difference. But I’m just concerned that sometimes male scholars are not able to relate fully to experiences of women; thus they may be removed (as a result of experience) from the scholarly decision they make twith regards to women.
I’m not a feminist – this is just a lingering question I have. At the end of the day I know its not about semantics, but I’m just wondering if gener experiences play a role into understanding how to describe things. Thank you.
@Mental Muslim, the post is by Sister Shazia Ahmad, from that we assume it she is an ‘alima (a learned person in shari’a) or is at least transmitting the information she deems correct. Either way, the above post shows a balanced and fair response to the issue, upholding the rights of women and clarifying the whole issue.
Thank you sister Jameela for your response. I’m just curious about the question I have, and I hope I have it anwered someday, somewhere. Thanks again.
In reading your concerns about the ability of male scholars to appreciate the experience of women, I was reminded of the same debate going on in the US, during my lifetime. When I was born, and I *think* I am probably older than most of the readers of this site, there was no such civil crime as “marital rape.” A wife did not have the legal right to say no to her husband, and the husbands had no figure even approaching the status of Muhammad sallalahu alayhe wasallaam telling them to see to it that their wife also has a good time. If anyone had tried to say such a thing, the Christian and medical communities would have been up in arms, because waaay back then, only aberrant women were supposed to enjoy sex beyond the paired goals of pleasing their husband and having a baby.
That said, it was also considered the pinnacle of crudeness for a man to “force his attentions” on his wife, but the penalty for his behavior if it had become known would have been social ostracism, not jail time.
This is not, as I understand it, an Islamic perspective. But Islam has also never debated whether women have souls as have both Judaism and Christianity, and that means that muslimahs start from a much better place than women in other contexts.
So I say this to assure you that you are not the first person to have these questions. In fact, in the last couple of centuries, it has only been the slowly rising tide of women asking these very questions that have led to things like women being allowed to vote, own property in their own name even if married, and so on.
And while you may not self identify as a feminist, you have asked the most basic feminist question, one that seeks for the naturally different perspectives of women (a concept that I believe Islam does endorse) to be allowed into public discourse.
Allah knows best,and JAK for your time.
A previous article that Sr. Shazia wrote (May Allah swt reward her) might address some of your concerns: http://www.virtualmosque.com/islam-studies/sciences-of-quran-and-hadith/questioning-the-hadith/
Well, let’s look at it another way. A woman has a right to be maintained, agreed? There is no doubt in this. Say she has a miserly welter-weight husband who doesn’t pay for her needs and the sister happens to outweigh him by a good 30 pounds. The sister gets upset, understandably, and threatens the guy with some ‘tire-iron to the knee-cap’ therapy until he’s curled up in a corner crying and she’s walking out the door with his wallet. Now, would we say this is acceptable behavior? No. Is it allowed to gain your rights by physical threats and not through the proper judicial procedures? No. Would it be judged as a theft/mugging? Doubtful, since she had rights to that maintenance money as implicit in the marital contract. Maybe this helps clarify why scholars would be wary of declaring non-consensual sex in marriage as ‘rape’ even though it is impermissible. Allah (swt) knows best.
as salaamu alaykum Mental Muslim,
Thanks for your very interesting question! While the portion of the article that discusses this point is only a few lines long, it was this issue that took the most time and effort in my research and inquiry. As far as I understand, as I mentioned in the article, the crux of the issue is that the marital contract implies a type of consent for sexual relations between husband and wife. For this reason, scholars hesitate in lexically grouping together acts which have different and distinctive grounds for punishment – in the one case, assault towards a spouse; in the other, a type of assault which is usually categorized under ‘hiraba’, or crimes that cause public discord, and by its nature compounds impermissible sexual relations with assault.
Having said that, personally speaking, I think an argument can be made- especially in dealing with this issue in English- for the term ‘marital rape’ to be acceptable as a descriptive appellation, or a distinctive criminal act separate from rape in the more commonly understood sense. You mentioned the idea of language choice falling along gender lines, whereas I think it would be more accurate to say that perhaps this choice of language was taken while focusing on the legal connotations of language, and not on how such terms are used, understood, and what they mean and connote more broadly in the culture one is addressing, which may lead to some miscommunication.
I agree that we definitely need more women involved in the study and application of Shari’ah, and that male scholars may not have the same sensitivity or give priority to the same type of issues a woman would, or discuss them in the same way. While it is true that women can contribute in many ways and on many topics under the umbrella of the Islamic sciences, I feel that these issues related to women are still some of the most pressing, and would benefit greatly from the contributions of scholars who can combine mastery of the law with real, personal experiences and understanding from a woman’s perspective.
Allah knows best,
Jazakallahi Khair sister Shazia for your response. It really provides me with more clarity. May Allah reward you for your work and indepth research, I enjoy reading your articles on this blog!
Awesome article Ustadha Shazia! These types of clarifications are so needed at a time when ‘shariah,’ ‘fiqh’, and ‘Islamic Law’ are being misunderstood and mis-portrayed in the media!
We often forget that the Quran commands husbands to do foreplay with their wives, i.e. the woman should become wanting of intimacy. Rape does not invovle foreplay and desire for intimacy. We have to stop letting this Islamophobes distorting our religion, especially when no other religion in the world emphasizes the importance of the woman’s pleasure.
“I’m just concerned that sometimes male scholars are not able to relate fully to experiences of women” -MentalMuslim
I think this is a valid concern that is not talked about enough. Sometimes you read a fatwa and say “alright. too much time spent in books. no consultation with reality.” i.e., the woman who quite clearly was uncomfortable letting her brother in law live in the home with her and her husband to keep the family ties at the mother in law’s request(who didnt want the brothers to separate). she asked a scholar if she should allow it to please the m-i-l.
Now aside from the problem of asking a scholar to advise you on a personal matter as if he is one of your girlfriend’s, there is the issue of a scholar not seeing the gross discomfort this would cause her.
My response? Cut the umbilical cord, lady, and let the woman have her own home and her own space to relax without hijab! Not to mention that (amazingly) this scholar did not even mention the hadith about the brother in aw being “death.” (!) Just one example of fatwas that, I believe, are affected by a male viewpoint, not to mention a culture that places primacy on family ties even if rights are taken away in the process. Unfortunately, too many will dismiss the valid points by invoking the bogeyman of “feminism. “
Thank you Tricia for understanding the nature of my inquirie. I think your example illustrates the question I’m asking.
I didn’t mean to do harm nor did I mean to question the hadiths, but I think this is a valid question to ask. I even remember Imam Suhaib stating in a lecture that more muslim women need to be encouraged to achieve scholarship because too often interpretation is being done by males – which can skew the outcome. At the end of the day not every scholar (whether male or female) is going to have a perfect grasp of every issue, and thats the point I’m trying to make.
mashallah, thank you for sharing, I always had this question. However, I still have another question that I hope someone can answer me about: in the ayah that talks about the permissibility of a man to hit a wife as a last resort if giving …her advice and sleeping in a separate bed don’t work (and even afterwards if not even hitting works to consult a family member from both sides), does that mean that a wife can’t do the same with a husband who maybe “nashiz” also? I read that the other ayah that talks about a husband being nashiz, it only tells to do “islaah” but nothing beyond; does that mean that a wife cannot use such means too? Jazakum Allah khair
[…] Question Regarding Marital Rape […]
Masha’Allah, excellent article! I especially enjoy how u used the evidences (Qur’an and Sunna) to arrive to your eloquently-stated conclusions. May Allah continue to put the truth on your pen (or keyboard in this case)!
MasahAllah! Beautifully written and elaborated! (: May Allah reward sister Shazia immensely!
[…] Question Regarding Marital Rape […]
When a husband has sex with his wife while she is asleep without calling her name or doing any effort to get her attention. What is that called and is it right or wrong?
salamualaykum that is marital rape sis.my husband does similar things.I hate him so much for this.it is very invasive and humilliating.us muslimah tend to be modest,bashful creatures by nature.and such actions are just so hurtful.
maria, i’m so sorry for your experience. you have the right of it. it is humiliating to be used as simply a physical outlet without any emotional connection. by law (here in america) this is also considered rape, because being asleep you are not able to consent, but also as someone mentioned, the prophet SAW told his male followers to “send a message” before having sex with their wives – i.e., kissing and foreplay. again, i’m so sorry. 🙁 i hope that there is a way for him to seek help or counseling so that he learns he cannot do this to you.
MashaAllah, nice article.
How is it reasonable for a woman to sign a contract indicating that she will dutifully satisfy her husband for the remainder of her marriage? She has no way of knowing how she’ll feel on any given day, years into the future. On top of that, the arrangement is akin to prostitution–you’re entitled to my support, and I’m entitled to your body.
If a man who is deprived of his “right” to sex consults someone with legal or religious authority to “resolve” the issue, and the woman finally relents, she is still being coerced into sex and is still psychologically harmed, perhaps even more so because the authorities she trusts will side with the person coercing her (since it is his “right”). Rape is rape and the marriage contract should not redefine it.
I think it’s very important that “not humiliating” is specified in relation to darb. A tap may not be physically harmful, but it can be psychologically harmful. By disciplining your spouse, you’re applying child-like qualities to a grown adult and degrading them in that way. You’re creating a relationship of authority between adult and child (who is usually the woman). And in that way, you’re also contributing to harmful attitudes that people may have about the relationship between a husband and wife.
I take great offense to your statement that marriage is akin to prostitution. In committing to a marriage both husband and wife have certain obligations, duties and rights, and from among them is a commitment to fidelity to one another and fulfilling one another’s needs, physically as well as otherwise. The quote by as-Subki mentions two such rights as examples, but that is not a comprehensive description of what marriage entails, nor does it necessarily imply a sexuo-economic arrangement as you seem to have assumed.
I think you may have also misunderstood the point about referring one’s dispute to a religious authority. If this is a serious problem between a couple, the authority may advise or enforce a divorce or dissolution of the marriage, depending on the exact circumstances. My point was that if your ‘right’ is unfulfilled and you are not willing to accept or forego that, you can go to a religious authority who will then lay out your choices for you (Namely, the option of divorce, separation etc) and that something being your right does not mean you can harm someone in the process of seeking it. BTW this is also a woman’s right (her husband fulfilling her physical needs) and one she can go to a religious authority for as well.
Stephen, I largely agree with you and am disgusted at myself for having supported, and the Muslim community for continuing to support, these versions of marriage. It does sound like a formalized form of prostitution… and that’s a sad reality. Muslims get offended when hearing that, but they need to hear it. The only way to justify sexual submission, as well as mobile submission (not working, not leaving home, etc.) to a husband, is to either be patriarchal or say “It’s God’s/the Prophet’s will.” We get away with so much by saying it’s God’s will.
I once heard a professor of Islamic Studies (who is herself Muslim lol) say the Islamic marriage contract is basically concubinage law. He does the financing, you do the obeying + sexual pleasure. No amount of “God says that you are ‘garments’ for one another” and “God put love in people’s hearts” can do away with how distasteful and disrespectful that is of a woman’s adult bodily and mental autonomy. I’m sorry, but if God and His angels are cursing a woman all through the night for not having sex with her husband, and if the Prophet ordered women to have sex upon their husband’s request even while riding a camel, then that IS coercion. Physical force is NOT the only form of coercion. Notice how the OP doesn’t mention this.
Notice also how the OP doesn’t mention that there are actually Shaykhs who do say that even physical coercion is allowed. Are they also opting out of the “sunnah”? Let’s give a more complete picture, what do yuh say?
A man’s sexual “needs”, actually desires, are what is taken into consideration, not the woman’s mental and emotional needs. A general round-about requirement for men to sexually please their wives also exists, absolutely. But it’s not on-demand, like it is for men. Run away from baking at the oven and go have sex. This is how sex is perceived in Islamic texts. It’s like a master-slave relationship, and I’m sorry if that offends, but it is what it is. The OP doesn’t mention that indeed some interpretations of the very nushuz mentioned is from things like rejecting sexual demands, or leaving the house without permission… It’s even been said that a man has the right to revoke his financial contribution to a woman if this comes about (with enough degree), indicating further that marriage is an exchange system between finances and sexual+mobile+mental obedience. She can’t even fast voluntarily for God without his permission. Why? Because she is made ‘sexually unavailable’ during that time. Goodness! Such an over-sexualiztion of men’s “needs” and woman’s duties. Kind of scary…
I wonder how many young Muslim girls who get married know about these things before signing that contract. If not humiliating a woman is one of the goals, then when does obedience come into play? The type of obedience taught to us as a husband’s right seems quite clearly humiliating to me. It humiliates my dignity as a human being, because I’m a woman. So is ‘ibribuhunna’. It is humiliating, that a man be allowed to physically discipline me, a grown adult woman, for ‘nushuz’ of which admittedly he may also be guilty of. It is humiliating.
I read your article . Nice one and supporting women and respecting women.I have been reading about marriage and rights of man and woman , and feeling disturbed by articles. I am not yet married. But i dont intend to insha Allah I hope in future also I am not married because after marriage a husband will always use you for sexual needs only . Scary, I wouldnt want to get married thinking that in islam on the first night between a man and his wife he wants to explore her body and have sexual relations and they are as if strangers dont know each other yet but everything is permissbile in marriage. How come. Not good very degrading.
Thank you May Allah Protect us all
Hi charmed shiva,
Very nice article and supporting for woman and actually you can feel what a girl or a woman is feeling , its not always what the man wants .
What is the “proper means” for seeking help? My exhusband had told me not to mention him to outsiders – ever – or I would be disobeying him. To ensure that I did not do this, I couldn’t leave the house without him, and he checked every email I sent. I also did not have a phone.
It was impossible to contact anyone without him being present. Alhamdulillah, I was able to get away, but the entire time I was running I kept thinking I was committing a sin for leaving my husband’s house without his permission. How else was I supposed to seek help?
as salaamu alaykum Sr. Aswad,
I’m very sorry to hear about what sounds like a very sad and extreme situation. May Allah help you and guide you to the best decisions. Though it was not clear from your post, I can say in general that if someone is in a situation which one’s spouse harms them, especially physically, there is absolutely no sin in seeking a way out from that, especially by consulting an imam, shaykh etc and seeking a divorce or separation. In Islam preservation of one’s life and well-being is paramount and that weighs much heavier than disobedience to one’s husband’s requests, w’Allahu a’lam.
@MentalMuslim and @Jameela Al-Bakhnuti
I don’t believe the author of the post claims to be a scholar.
The point MentalMuslim is raising is a very valid one that I have thought about many times in the past.
If scholars were women they would bring a different perspective to it.
Rape is rape whether the victim is a spouse or not. Rape has often the connotation of violence. It is about control. When a husband wakes up his wife in the middle on the night and tries to force himself on her, that is rape.
Men invest so much time in their jobs, their studies…and other aspect of their lives but somehow when they get married they think they can have sex anytime without putting any effort into it just because they have a wife. They do not take time to engage in foreplay, or to be affectionate towards their wives…
I am glad the article touched on this.
I too was mislead into believing that if I reject my husband it was almost “haram” as per some Hadith people used. I remember feeling so frustrated about it (this belief) and thought it was so unfair as if my needs didn’t count.
For me to make myself available to my husband when he wants when he doesn’t make any effort despite mentioning it to him countless of time…was illogical. If it is important to him he will find time to slow down, be gentle, engage in foreplay, to be more affectionate not just in bed when he wants to be intimate.
Men seem to invest time when they have girlfriends (and yes they are not supposed to but the majority do) but somehow when they get married they stop investing time and effort into their marriage.
Anyway these are my thoughts on it.
I am very happy that these issues are discussed openly and I hope I haven’t offended anyone.
We definitely need more Women Scholars.
Thank you for this article.
@Heba and @Maria
You can put a stop to it.
My husband did that for years before I knew it was rape. We are both well educated people but this doesn’t help. I never took sex education nor did I know anything about sex before I got married.
I had so much resentment towards him after I found out it was rape. I used to lash out at him calling him names and accusing him of rape, of not knowing how to deal with a woman despite having had pre-marital sex and girlfriends when he was single. The resentment turned into rejecting him when he wanted to be intimate.
He doesn’t do it anymore but it took persistence from me to get him to stop. It is very damaging to go through this.
We need to make sure our daughters do not end up in the same situation and make sure we teach them about sex, what rape is.
I hate it when women are expected to be virgin/pretty etc… and men have the freedom to experience sexually all they want and when time comes to get married virginity is important to them. What a hypocrisy! This leads to an imbalance in the couple.
I am glad you touched on the need for sex education. With sexual abuse occurring in marriages due to ignorance and misguidance of Islamic guidance on marital sexual relations, it is imperative we provide our sisters AND especially brothers with Islamic sex education BEFORE entering into a marriage so that they are aware of each others rights and how to engage in happy and healthy sexual relations after marriage to prevent potential problems. In the current times and society we are living in we can no longer afford to treat the topic as a taboo as this forum has highlighted.
Alhamdulilah, JazakhAllah for the article and all the responses.
I agree with Dyhia and Nadia, women are led to believe it’s haram to say No to their Husband but the psychological and emotional damage caused by an inconsiderate/abusive husband has long term effects and damages the very foundations of what a marriage bond is supposed to be. how can there be any happiness or blessings from Allah swt in a marriage where the man can demand all his rights expecting them to be fulfilled anytime ie. be selfish but never ask or think if the wife needs/wants the same. This goes against the concept of “kindness, respect and protecting the wife” Rape/Non-consensual sex can harm physically, emotionally and mentally.
Having been a virgin and gotten married- I have no physical issues but emotional and mental scars remain. I was living and am living with resentment towards my soon to be ex-husband. If you ask me I agree with need female scholars and I agree/understand what Stephen is saying – My husband made me feel like he bought a right to use my body andif I said no then I was a disobeying and disrespectful wife if I did not allow him access to it for whatever reason. I say Alhamdulillah being an educated woman I had understanding of my Islamic rights and so I minimised my own psychological and emotional damage but it is difficult. I pray no sister should find herself in such a marriage. Ameen
“Marital Rape is Non-Consensual sex between spouses” where one spouse is coerced into unwanted sex. They may say “yes” but only because of pressure and frustration, fear etc. but they actually want to say “no/stop”.
What exactly do you constitute as an inconsiderate or abusive husband? Do you think it is demanding “all his rights expecting them to be fulfilled anytime” while “never ask or think if the wife needs/wants the same”? Is that what constitutes abuse? Because later you say, “‘Marital Rape is Non-Consensual sex between spouses’ where one spouse is coerced into unwanted sex. They may say ‘yes’ but only because of pressure and frustration, fear etc. but they actually want to say ‘no/stop’.”
Here’s the problem: In fact, according to Muslim scholars, it IS the right of a man to demand sex at nearly any time, and it IS haram for women to refuse that sex, even if she is busy with something such as cooking, even if she is riding a camel, even if she is feeling sad, even if she feels no sexual desire at all, even if she is mad at the husband, etc. etc. She is viewed as cursed by angels, God’s creatures, by God Himself, for not fulfilling the sexual request of her husband on-demand, whereas a woman is not granted this right, nor is she granted the right of restricting her husband’s autonomy in other areas, thus bringing into contest your notion of what is “inconsiderate” for what “the wife needs/wants the same”. Viewing a woman as cursed for not being sexually obedience is tantamount of psychological coercion. It is indeed conducive of the scenario you described: “‘Marital Rape is Non-Consensual sex between spouses’ where one spouse is coerced into unwanted sex. They may say ‘yes’ but only because of pressure and frustration, fear etc. but they actually want to say ‘no/stop’.”
I don’t know which texts you’ve been reading and which scholars or apologists you’ve been listening to, but this statement sounds really familiar to the ‘rights’ granted to men in marriage: “My husband made me feel like he bought a right to use my body andif I said no then I was a disobeying and disrespectful wife if I did not allow him access to it for whatever reason.” If you read the quote in the OP from al-Subki, it speaks to this quite succinctly. The OP never once suggested that a marital contract under Islam doesn’t grant a man the right to a woman’s body on-demand, to and extent in exchange for finances. The fact of the matter is the the Islamic marital contract condones this – you are to be sexually observant of his sexual demands, (as well as observant of several other demands), and in return you receive financial support/a safe house/child-support. It’s much like being a ward-slave for a slave-master, if you ask me. But what can you say, if that’s the Prophet’s way and thus God’s best example for us?
So I am curious as to what exactly you mean by “understanding of my Islamic rights”. Exactly which Islamic rights, and how, by whom, from where did you become aware of them?
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Excellent discussion. Found out a lot about a very basic question.
God bless you all and may give us awareness to to talk on taboos.
[…] who lives under one’s ri’aaya, care and shepherdship, as mentioned in a prophetic tradition? (30:21), and commands men to deal with their wives in an honourable way (4:19). Rape, abuse, ill […]
my parents did my nikah with my cousin i do not like him he also knows that. after rukhsati if he forced me to do sex. does it valid ??
It is important to remember that there is no doubt the beloved prophet IS the best of examples, he told the men that the best amongst you is the one who is best to his wife. Respect and the limits of God are the foundation to any islamic marriage, such that one cannot try and blame or criticise islamic law if those foundations are not there in the first place. Respect of each other comes from having sound akhlaaq, which God testifies to the prophet as being of the best akhlaaq, none of humanity matches up to. Allah makes things easy with clear limits, man and his or her actions lead them into difficulty, may He bless everyone in better grasp of how to have successful relationships in marriage. Aamin thumma aamin. Peace and blessings on the best of mankind always.
I came across this article on a forum about a womans rights in islam and it has really surprised me reading the comments at how so many of you view the laws of islam as so black and white. Islam is not a rule book, it is not a book of law but a way of life. You cant just pick out rulings and apply them in isolation. If your husband is raping you that is the least of your problems, it is a syptom. A serious symptom of a bad marriage that needs to change beyond recognition or be terminated. If you feel no sexual atrraction towards your partner why are you married to him? If you refuse to do something about it, you are part of the problem. Playing the victim card too often enables the perpetrator to continue such behaviour. If you need help you must first help yourself before expecting help of others. In this day and age there is no excuse for allowing yourself to be treated with such disrespect. Marital rape is something that is not an isolated issue. It is indictive of other deeper problems within a relationship, disrespect, lack of love and affection, lack of intimacy and more often than not, other forms of abuse. How can you allow a relationship to continue if the relationship is riddled with the aforementioned problems. A marriage is about love and creating a family together and having children and raising those children to be good muslims who are positive members of the community. If a husband has no respect for his wife and treats his wife like a piece of meat how can he possibly be a father and raise children. This type of man doesn’t deserve a wife and if he has a wife she is a victim of her own choice to stay with him. It would be child abuse to have a child with this type of man.
Also I know there are cultures in which forced marriage is a common practice and there is a higher chance of marital rape in these circumstances and the wife has no support or means for escape. To use such examples as a basis for discussion on islamic ruling on marital rape is not acceptable as the men in such marriages are not acting out of islamic priciples. They take an extremist view on marital rights based on their cultiral norms and values which have no place in islam. Firstly forced marriage is impermissible in islam. Islam clearly advocates exceptional treatment of women especially within a marriage and for any man to go as far as forcing his wife to have sex without her willingness or consent is indictive of maltreatment of his wife and clearly sinful in islam. To even suggest that marital rape is acceptable in islam clearly shows your lack of understanding in regard to marriage in islam. The nikkah may be a contract but it is there solely for the protection of a woman’s rights in the case of divorce. The guidlines about the marriage are just guidlines and are not to be followed as black and white but to be understood and nourished for the better of the marriage and the good of both husband and wife. The right to financial support is not directly related to the right to be obedient or the right of sex. Islam allows for ‘buts’ & ‘howevers’ not everything has to be taken literally and in isolation.
I am no expert but from what I understand rape itself in islam is not classed as a sexual crime because the intention is usally not for sexual gratification but used as a means for control and violence therefore rape is classed as a violent crime in islamic judicial terms. Therefore marital rape is more akin to violent physical assault rather than sexual assault because there is more to it than just sex. This is why there is such disclarity with the use of the term marital rape. Rape by a stranger is different to rape within a relationship because the rape within a relationship is a symptom of a deeper problem. I have a friend who is in an abusive marriage and goes on and on about what he does to her but is blind to her own abusive ways and inability to take decisive action and leave him. But instead is adamant that she wants to have Baby to bring love into their marriage and because shes always wanted a baby. To me this is child abuse and I have refused to continue supporting her because she wants to bring a child into an abusive household and refuses to help herself. If women are not willing to help themselves and take action how can we overcome the male mindset that some women become victim to. This isnt a problem with islam. It is a problem with our society. Islam has given us a voice and we refuse to use it.
[…] haram (unlawful) for a man to harm his wife. The Prophet SAW prohibited harming others in general, (4:21); who is one’s “garment” (2:187), and who lives under one’s ri’aaya, care and […]