Fatwa: # 19505
Category: Misc. Fiqh
Country: South Africa
Date: 20th October 2011

Title

Can a husband move his family to a new location and leave behind a home and secure employment without consulting his family?

Question

My sister has been married for six years and has a little daughter. She lives in a small community which is conducive to an Islamic life-style in the sense that amenities such as islamic schools, madaris etc. are close to her home.

Despite having a home and secure employment, her husband wishes to re-locate to a town which has no such facilities and which is very far from both their families.

In addition he sometimes compels her to cancel previously made arrangements in order to accompany him to the functions of distant relatives. Since he works during the week, she would prefer that they spend the week-ends filling in quality time with their child rather than attending these functions of relatives whom they do not even know very well. My sister has no objection in attending the functions of close friends and relatives.

My concern is that because of her husbands constant domination, my sister is beginning to feel that shariah has made women the under-dogs of men, because her husband cites shariah to keep her under his control.

He wishes to dictate her every move, how the family spends their free time, where they should live, what their child should wear, etc. I believe that important matters should be discussed between a husband & wife before a final decision is taken, but according to my brother-in-law, a man needs not consider his wife's opinion. He insists that this is what shariah dictates.

Please advise me on this matter so that I can present Mufti Sahib's advice to both, my sister & her husband.

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

The secret to a happy family is that while there are clearly defined roles of the husband and wife, the feelings of both are taken into account and consideration.

If one were to purely look at who possesses what authority in each area of life, then it would stop feeling like a family. That is why Islam has given us two wonderful tools for decision-making. One is mashwarah (mutual consultation) and and the second is istikhārah (prayer for guidance).

If the husband started asking questions like “Does Islam require me to spend time with my family on the weekends?” and if the wife started asking questions like “Does Islam require me to make lunch?” it would be a recipe for disaster. This is because whenever a family looks only at fulfilling the minimum huqūq (rights) of one another and disregards the feelings and sensitivity of the other spouse then its very easy for arguments to occur. 

Since the husband's reason for moving to another town has not been mentioned, we cannot speculate on his intentions. Keeping this fact in mind it would be best for the husband to sit down and discuss with his wife, his reasons for moving to that town. As a suggestion, both can make up a list of pros and cons, and how their daughter's education and tarbiyah (upbringing) might be affected. In addition, they can also seek out a local scholar and explain to him the reasons so that he can give further advice after hearing both sides.

Spending quality time with the children is also a paramount objective of the parents. The couple can work out an arrangement where they can adequately spend quality time with their child and also be able to attend the functions of distant relatives. If managed properly, both can be accomplished if the husband feels it is important to attend to a specific function to keep relatives happy and maintain cordial relations. 

Both husband and wife should make an effort to understand each other and understand that they are life-long partners. If mashwarah (mutual consultation) is made keeping in mind the need to compromise it would lead to a much happier marriage than the husband just getting his way.

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Mawlana Sohail ibn Arif
Student, Darul Iftaa
U.S.A

Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.
www.daruliftaa.net

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