Marital Rape in Islam

Rape is defined as sex with a person without that person’s consent.  Rape simply means forcing them to have sex without their consent.

EDIT July 2018: I would like to reconsider that Islam does not allow marital rape.  I was wrong.  I have removed the obscure references to the book by Imam al-Kasani, student of Imam al-Samarqandi who claimed that a man can rape his wife. I will assume that in Sunni Islam the main schools of fiqh do not allow marital rape unless it is proven to me otherwise.  However, I do think the below rest of my article is still true, that Islam puts a lot of pressure on the wife being sexually available to the man:

 

Islam does not allow the wife to deny intercourse to the husband.  Sexual satisfaction is one of the rights of the husband in Islam.  Infact, the actual marriage contract is made in that way.  The husband has to mainly provide financially and the wife has to provide obedience and sex.  Hamza Yusuf in the popular Rights and Responsibilities of Marriage series states the same.

Infact the Quran states that once you have intercourse with the wife, you cannot take back your dower (maher in arabic) because you have gone into her.  This is another example that underscores that in Islam, you are making a contract for sexual exclusivity with a woman in exchange for taking care of her financially.  Of course there is more to the contract than that, but MAINLY its financial for the man, and sexual for the woman.

‘And how can you take it when one of you has already gone in to the other’ and they have made with you a firm covenant?

Quran 4:19-21

And also in a hadith it states very harshly:

Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘If a man calls his wife to his bed and she refuses [and does not come], and he spends the night angry with her, the angels will curse her until morning.’” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 4794; the additional phrase quoted in square brackets is from Abu Dawood, al-Sunan, Kitaab al-Nikaah, Bab haqq al-zawj ‘ala’l-mar’ah).

There is no hadith saying the same for men.  That is some really strong language. I wonder if a husband does the same and refuse sex to his wife (and they do…) do the angels curse them too?  Probably not.  Angels curse wives only, not husbands.

Not to mention, one of the punishments that husbands can use if they suspect their wife for disobedience, is to deny them sex as stated in the Quran

Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.

Quran 4:34

The wife cannot under any circumstance deny the husband sex or she will be sinful.  The reason we were given for this is that men’s marital rights must be fulfilled so they don’t go out and cheat.  Men are highly sexual creatures, but I would argue so are women!  Both the husband and wife should not be denied sex.  Coming from a 7th century view of the world where the man is the most important one, Islam caters to his needs.   In the Quran it says,

Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear nushooz (arrogance) – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand. (4:34)

Interesting that he just has to fear nushooz (defined as disobedience), he is allowed to give up having sex with her, and can even hit her.  There is no such recourse for women, if they consider the husband is being unfaithful.  Seems rather unfair, doesn’t it?  God seems to love men a lot more than women.  Or maybe women are considered cattle to him to be used for sexual pleasure only?

Not to mention, a man is allowed to have multiple wives, but a woman cannot do the same (multiple husbands).

Also see my post on Death Penalty for Adultery in Islam

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16 thoughts on “Marital Rape in Islam

  1. This is so sexist,this life as a muslim women is worthless.You go to paradise for your husbands happiness.I am a ex muslim and christianity is a fanatastic religion.

    1. You clearly have no idea what chriatianity is all about i mean just the bible says a lot of degrading things about women and they are far more disrespected and worthless in christianity, islam has given a lot of rights to women and that’s in the 7th century while some christian countries didn’t give any right to females and even thought of them as less intelligent than men and made their lives a complete fucking hell it even was totally okay for a priest to rape a women and this untill the early and mid 1900s so get your facts right and compared to many other religions islam is by far the religion that respect women the most.

  2. The worst explanation ever. I just read an article taking into account the words of many great scholars of the past (like imam Ghazali) and giving evidence for how the ruling of not denying sex from your spouse is ALSO applicable to the men.

    This article is immature, poorly written and honestly, I feel like you just understand things superficially.

    Please stop.

    1. Can you please share the link of the article you are talking about, or any other articles related to this topic?

  3. you need to do your research. where does it states in the quran that rape is allowed. however it does state that if the wife is ill or on periods then he has to be a understanding husband. if she refuses while being ill then she will not be punished. your name seems Muslim but you seem to be saying things against islam. now the reason a Muslim wife cannot have multiple husbands is because of she gets pregnant who is father of baby?
    you also said seems woman are there for sexual pleasure only. Allah has given woman high rights as well. do your research. it is the woman (mother) where heaven is under her feet, NOT MAN. she is considered to be level to her husband except to what is forbidden. you argue that woman are also highly sexual creatures. Me being a woman will tell you no we are not. men are much much highly sexual.

  4. And for women are rights over men, similar to those of men over women.”Qur’an 2:228

    Allah has promised to the believers, men and women, gardens under which rivers flow, to dwell therein, and beautiful mansions in gardens of everlasting bliss.”Qur’an 9:72
    “Never will I allow the loss of the work of any worker amongst you, male or female; you are of one another.”Qur’an 3:195

    Also, emotionally, neither men nor women live a happy life without one another. Allah describes this beautifully by saying:

    “They are clothing for you and you are clothing for them.”Qur’an 2:187

    Aisha (the Prophet’s wife) was once asked how the Prophet’s conduct was in his home. She said, “He was like one of you at home, yet he was most lenient and most generous … He was ready to give a helping hand to his wives in the ordinary work of the house, [he] sewed his own clothes and mended his own shoes.” In general, he helped in whatever work his wives did.
    The Prophet (peace be upon him) was once asked, “O Messenger of Allah, who among people is most deserving of my good treatment?” He said, “Your mother.” The man asked twice more, “Then who?” and was given the same response. Only until the fourth time did the Prophet respond, “Then your father.” Reward is not only given to the good and kind treatment towards mothers. In fact, Islam has designated a special reward for raising daughters that is not granted for raising sons.

    it is the husbands duty to give his wife accomodation, food and financial means. then he has the right to enjoy her.

    Quran states a wife can refuse intercourse ifor she is fasting, in sickness or on periods.

    like I said do your research and don’t spread wrong info if you have no reference. only 2 references. and the book that you referred to that should be checked. I’m not saying it it’s wrong. I’m saying there is a lot of wrong books out there. so check before you share.

    1. But still, it is wives who must be absolutely subservient and obedient to the husband in a slave-like manner, and they can’t refuse sex unless they are sick or menstruating. What if she just isn’t in the mood? Can she refuse in that case? No? There are many things wrong with this.

    2. ”it is the husband’s duty give his wife accommodation, food and financial means, then he has the right to enjoy her.”

      That sounds like what you would do with your farm animals, feed them shelter them make sure they’re healthy, then you can milk them.

      You wouldn’t even treat a dog that way tbh, you would provide food and shelter to a pet, and not even expect them to perform a duty, but you would expect something in return from a woman, for their basic needs. Why does a woman not have a right to emotional fulfillment, to her emotional needs. And if you want to argue that she does indeed, then why is it never included in the above statement? All it ever says is about her food and shelter and financial needs, how she feels is never considered, even ”kindness” is all about material needs.

  5. also if you have a doubt in your mind regarding a teaching of Islam then find out. check out reliable sources. don’t just go around and tell everyone your doubts. clear your doubts. and why only 2 references. you should search the whole quran the reliable hadiths and get answers. it’s funny how you belied a random book however you didn’t bother searchingredients the quran the original pure book. you didn’t search proper hadiths. are you muslim???

  6. I agree with everything you said. However, i heard that if a husband denies his wife sex for 3 months or more then she has the right to divorce him without his consent. Also a woman can deny her husband sex when shes menstruating, sick, or physically cant handle it (like if shes very tired/exhausted). Sometimes i ask that question too.. does Allah love men more than women. I know the answer is no but everything in the Quran and the pain we naturally go through as women says otherwise.

    1. Some scholars say the wife has a right at least every four days… and this blog writer is either very ignorant or has an agenda. This article is jaundiced.

  7. The concept of rape in marriage is a new problem confronting Muslims in modern times. The term “rape” (ightiṣāb) in the classical legal literature was applied only to forced sexual relations outside of the marriage contract. Rape in this sense has always been unlawful and prosecuted in the legal category of adultery based upon the Prophet’s practice and a firm legal consensus.

    The original term ightiṣāb linguistically means to take something forcefully without having a right to it in the first place. Since a man has the right to have sexual relations with this wife as granted by the marriage contract, he is not taking something for which he inherently has no right. Consent was a moral requirement, but had no legal ramifications. Hence, the ruling of adultery does not apply to the husband in this case.

    However, the meaning of “rape” has changed with the times, as it now means any forced sexual intercourse even within marriage. The reason for this change is that Western legal traditions shifted the basis of lawful sexual relations from contract to consent. The marriage contract alone originally made sexual relations lawful, but now it is consent that legalizes sexual relations. This gave rise to the concept of marital rape and has influenced the legal discourse in Muslim countries.

    The concept of marital rape as a legal category did not appear in any law tradition until the year 1949, which makes it difficult to locate a precedent in pre-modern law. Islamic law developed through the practice of issuing a fatwá (legal judgment) as applied to a particular case. If such a case never arose, there would be no point in issuing a judgment about it. In this way, Islamic law was mostly a practical and not theoretical exercise. This means Muslim jurists have not discussed marital rape as such until the modern period.

    Nevertheless, forced sexual intercourse within marriage falls under another prohibited legal category in Islamic law: harming the wife. The classical scholars upheld the fundamental right of a wife to be free from harm. If a man forces his wife into sexual intercourse against her will, he can only do so by harming her and this makes his action unlawful. Marital rape, then, is more properly understood as an issue of domestic violence, an issue that was well-known to Muslim jurists since the time of the Prophet until today and for which we have ample precedent.

    The principle of removing harm is an essential legal axiom (al-qawāʻid al-fiqhiyya) in the orthodox schools of Islamic law, as it forms the basis and rationale of so many rules in Islam.

    Ubaida ibn As-Samit reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, issued a decree:

    لاَ ضَرَرَ وَلاَ ضِرَارَ

    Do not cause harm or return harm.

    Source: Sunan ibn Majah 2340, Grade: Hasan

    And the juristic principle is stated as follows:

    الضَّرَر يُزَال

    Harm should be removed.

    Source: Al-ashbāh wa-al-naẓāʼir 7

    The classical scholars often stated this as an explicit right of the wife when discussing the rights and duties of marriage in general.

    Al-Qurtubi writes:

    إِنَّ لَهُنَّ عَلَى أَزْوَاجِهِنَّ تَرْكُ مُضَارَّتِهِنَّ كَمَا كَانَ ذَلِكَ عَلَيْهِنَّ لِأَزْوَاجِهِنَّ

    Their husbands must not harm them, in the same way that they have rights over their wives.

    Source: Al-Jāmiʻ li-aḥkām al-Qurʼān 2:228

    And Az-Zamakhshari writes:

    وَلَا يُعَنِّفُ أَحَدُ الزَّوْجَيْنِ صَاحِبَهُ

    Neither spouse should be violent against his or her companion.

    Source: Al-Kashshāf ʻan ḥaqāʼiq 2:228

    And Al-Baydawi writes:

    وَحُقُوقَهُنَّ الْمَهْرُ وَالْكَفَافُ وَتَرْكُ الضِّرَارِ وَنَحْوُهَا

    Among her rights is the dowry, to be free from harm, and so on.

    Source: Anwār al-tanzīl 2:228

    And Ar-Razi writes:

    لَا إِيصَالَ الضَّرَرِ إِلَيْهَا بَيَّنَ أَنَّ لِكُلِّ وَاحِدٍ مِنَ الزَّوْجَيْنِ حَقًّا عَلَى الْآخَرِ

    No harm should come to her. It has been clarified that each one of the spouses has a right over the other.

    Source: Mafātīḥ al-ghayb 2:228

    We can use such general principles in Islam to develop new rulings for new issues we encounter such as marital rape. This is the method by which Islamic law develops and adapts to local needs if no precedent can be found.

    Even so, we are not without specific guidance from the Prophet. In an authentic tradition, the Prophet discusses the case of a wife who refuses to have sexual relations with her husband and from which we can derive some insight:

    Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

    إِذَا دَعَا الرَّجُلُ امْرَأَتَهُ إِلَى فِرَاشِهِ فَأَبَتْ فَبَاتَ غَضْبَانَ عَلَيْهَا لَعَنَتْهَا الْمَلَائِكَةُ حَتَّى تُصْبِحَ

    If a man calls his wife to bed and she refuses for no reason and he spends the night angry with her, then the angels will curse her until the morning.

    Source: Sahih Bukhari 3065, Grade: Muttafaqun Alayhi

    Some people have cited this tradition in an attempt to prove that Islam condones marital rape, but careful consideration will demonstrate that it is actually a proof against marital rape.

    In this very specific situation, the wife refuses to answer her husband’s request to join him in bed. She does not have a valid excuse to refuse him such as being preoccupied or ill or tired. Rather, she refuses him out of a mean-spirited attitude only. This is a violation of the terms of the marriage contract and therefore a sin, and it might also tempt the husband to satisfy his natural impulse in an unlawful manner. If the husband spends the entire night in his house angry with her, it causes the angels to curse her until the morning.

    The Prophet warns such women of the negative moral consequences of this inexplicable behavior, but he gives no concession to the husband to take his right by force. If forced sexual compliance was an acceptable option, we could reasonably infer that the Prophet would have mentioned it here but he did not. Hence, the tradition is an implicit proof against marital rape and, by analogy, against the rape of concubines as well.

    The classical scholars determined that a man does not have the right to have sexual relations with his wife if he harms her, as this is a violation of her rights and the Islamic values of mercy and honorable behavior. If he does not fulfill her rights, then she does not need to fulfill his rights.

    Al-Bahuti writes:

    وَلِلزَّوْجِ الِاسْتِمْتَاعُ بِزَوْجَتِهِ كُلَّ وَقْتٍ عَلَى أَيِّ صِفَةٍ كَانَتْ … مَا لَمْ يُشْغِلْهَا عَنْ الْفَرَائِضِ أَوْ يَضُرُّهَا فَلَيْسَ لَهُ الِاسْتِمْتَاعُ بِهَا إذَنْ لِأَنَّ ذَلِكَ لَيْسَ مِنْ الْمُعَاشَرَةِ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَحَيْثُ لَمْ يَشْغَلْهَا عَنْ ذَلِكَ وَلَمْ يَضُرُّهَا فَلَهُ الِاسْتِمْتَاعُ

    It is the right of a husband to enjoy his wife at any time no matter her condition… as long as he does not distract her from her obligations or harm her. In that case, he may not enjoy her since that is not living with her honorably. If he does not distract her from those duties or harm her, then he may enjoy her.

    Source: Kashshāf al-qināʻ 5/188

    Moreover, the wife has the right to seek a divorce if the husband harms her in an intolerable manner. The Prophet once dissolved the marriage of a couple because the wife could no longer tolerate the husband’s abusive behavior.

    Yahya ibn Sa’eed reported: Habeeba bint Sahl was the wife of Thabit ibn Qais and it was mentioned to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, that they were married and she was his neighbor. Thabit had struck her, so she appeared at the door of the Prophet and she said, “Thabit and I can no longer be married.” The Prophet said to Thabit:

    خُذْ مِنْهَا وَخَلِّ سَبِيلَهَا

    Take what she owes to you and let her go her way.

    Source: Sunan al-Dārimī 2200, Grade: Sahih

    Based on such traditions, the scholars provided abused wives with legal protection and the right to seek a divorce in such cases.

    As-Sayyid Sabiq writes:

    ذهب الإمام مالك أن للزوجة أن تطلب من القاضي التفريق إذا ادعت إضرار الزوج بها إضرارا لا يستطاع معه دوام العشرة بين أمثالهما مثل ضربها أو سبها أو إيذائها بأي نوع من أنواع الايذاء الذي لا يطاق أو إكراهها على منكر من القول أو الفعل

    Imam Malik adhered to the opinion that the wife has a right to seek separation by decree of the judge if she claims that the husband has greatly harmed her such that it is not possible for them to continue in marital association. For example, he hits her, abuses her, or harms her in an intolerable way, or he forces her to commit evil in word or deed.

    Source: Fiqh al-Sunnah 2/289

    In modern times, these legal precedents have formed the foundation from which jurists in Muslim countries have sought to reform Islamic family law and to remove any loopholes through which men might justify violence against women. The Islamic Charter on Family, which has been endorsed by numerous Muslim authorities including the Grand Mufti of Egypt, states the following:

    لا يجوز مهما بلغت درجة الخلاف بين الزوجين اللجوء إلى استعمال الضرب تجاوزًا للضوابط الشرعية المقررة ومن يخالف هذا المنع يكون مسئولاً مدنيًا وجنائيًا

    It is not permissible, no matter the degree of conflict between spouses, to resort to violence in transgression of the established regulations of the law. Whoever violates this prohibition will be held civilly and criminally responsible.

    Source: Mīthāq al-usrah fī al-Islām 65.3

    We should also not neglect the importance of values-based reasoning as it pertains to law and reform. The values and objective of Islamic law (maqāṣid al-shari’ah) precede the letter of the law and breathe life and purpose into it. In numerous verses and traditions, Islam teaches men to behave in the best manner towards women.

    Allah said:

    وَعَاشِرُوهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ

    Live with women honorably.

    Surat An-Nisa 4:19

    Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

    أَكْمَلُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ إِيمَانًا أَحْسَنُهُمْ خُلُقًا وَخِيَارُكُمْ خِيَارُكُمْ لِنِسَائِهِمْ خُلُقًا

    The most complete of the believers in faith are those with the best character, and the best of you are the best in behavior to their women.

    Source: Sunan At-Tirmidhi 1162, Grade: Sahih

    In another narration, the Prophet said:

    اسْتَوْصُوا بِالنِّسَاءِ

    I enjoin upon you good conduct toward women.

    Source: Sahih Bukhari 3153, Grade: Muttafaqun Alayhi

    Expressing these values as the core of our way of life will resonate the strongest with Muslims and others. Common people untrained in Islamic law principles may not be able to articulate or understand a solid legal case against marital rape, but they instinctively know it is wrong because it is not merciful, gentle, kind, or fair. This line of thinking has a much greater potential to reach the masses than the detailed arguments of jurists and academics.

    To conclude, marital rape is a new issue that requires careful consideration by contemporary Muslim jurists. The principle of avoiding harm can serve as the basis for developing the law in such a way that vulnerable women will be protected from domestic abuse. We owe it to our sisters in Islam, and women in general, to close any loopholes in current legislation that might allow a husband to hurt his wife.
    P.S:Get your facts right

    1. Thank you to the person named ‘Random Person’ JezhakAllah so so so so much for sharing your knowledge and providing references. You have no idea how much you’ve helped me with my faith now all the doubts and resentment I’ve had over the years is gone because now I have understanding. May Allah grant you everything good in the life and the hereafter. And may He grant you peace in the grave and on the day of resurrection. May you enter Jannah Al Firdaus. Ameen ✨

  8. This article is so true. If we as humans feel that something is not right, but a book and religion we follow is telling us that God says it’s okay, how can we follow it like sheep. How can it be okay to hurt a woman, physically or emotionally. Surely we should question what the book which is written by the hand of man, is telling us what is allowed or not allowed. Allah did not tell us directly face to face that information, it’s being passed along to us by MEN, who have their own agendas. Just because a book claims to be incorruptible, does not make it incorruptibe! That’s a very convenient claim.

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