Women spending own wealth without their husbands’ permission.
By Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid
I am a working woman, and I have a salary from which I spend on myself and my home, I give some to my family and I give some in charity, and so on. Many of the arguments that I have with my husband arise because of the way I spend my money. Does my husband have the right to object to the way I spend my money? Do I have to ask for his permission when I want to spend any of my money?
In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and Thanks is due to Allāh, the Lord of al-`ālameen. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam, is His Messenger
It is undoubtedly that a free adult person who is of sound mind and indulgent is permitted to dispose of his own wealth with no restrictions as long as one is alive, whether he is buying, renting, giving a gift, establishing a waqaf (endowment) or any other kind of transaction. There is no dispute among the scholars on this point.
There is also no dispute among the scholars concerning the fact that the husband does not have the right to object to the way his wife handles her wealth in transactions such as buying, renting, etc., if the woman is of sound mind and there is no reason why she should not handle her own money and she is not one of those who may be tricked. [Muraatib al-Ijmaa’ li Ibn Hazm, 162; al-Ijmaa’ fi’l-Fiqh al-Islami, Abu Habib, 2/566].
But the scholars differed as to whether a woman has the right to give all or some of her wealth in charity or as a gift without the permission of her husband. The details of their opinions are as follows:
The first opinion:
The husband has the right to prevent her from giving if the amount is more than one third of her wealth, but he does not have this right with regard to lesser amounts. This is the opinion of the Malikis and Hanbalis, and one of the two views narrated from Ahmad. [Sharh al-Khurashi, 7/103; al-Mughni, 4/513; Nayl al-Awtaar, 6/22). The evidence for this is hadiths and qiyas (analogy)].
Among the hadiths referred to are the following:
The report that Khayrah, the wife of Ka’ab ibn Malik, came to the Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) with some jewellery of hers. The Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) said: “It is not permissible for a woman [to dispose of] her wealth without the permission of her husband. Have you asked Ka’ab’s permission?” She said, “Yes.” So the Messenger of Allah (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) sent for Ka’ab ibn Malik, her husband, and asked him, “Have you given permission to Khayrah to give her jewellery in charity?” He said, “Yes,” so the Messenger of Allah (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) accepted it from her. [Reported by Ibn Majah, 2380; its isnad includes ‘Abd-Allah ibn Yahya and his father, who are majhul (not known, i.e., not enough information is known about them to ascertain whether they are trustworthy)].
The report narrated from ‘Umar ibn Shu’aib from his father from his grandfather that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) aid in a khutbah (sermon) he gave: “It is not permissible for a woman to give anything except with the permission of her husband.” [Sunan Abi Dawud, Buyu’, Bab 84; Sunan al-Nisa’i, Zakah, Bab 58; Musnad Ahmad, 2/179; Sunan Ibn Majah, 2/798].
According to another version: “A woman has no right to her money if she is married.” [Reported by five, except al-Tirmidzi].
These reports are taken as evidence that a woman does not have the right to spend her money except with her husband’s permission, which means that the husband’s permission is a condition any time she wants to spend; his right to stop her spending is limited to amounts over one-third of her wealth, because there are reports that indicate that the owner has the right to dispose of one-third or less of his wealth in his will, but he does not have the right to dispose of more than that without the permission of his heirs. This is seen in the famous story of Sa’ad ibn Abi Waqqas, who asked the Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) if he could give all of his wealth in charity, and he said, “No.” Sa’ad asked, “What about two-thirds?” The Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) said, “No.” Sa’ad said, “What about half?” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “No.” Sa’ad said, What about a third?” The Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) said, “[Yes,] a third, but a third is still a lot.” [Agreed upon by the Fuqaha]
With regard to their using qiyas (analogy) as evidence, they say that the husband’s rights are connected to the wife’s wealth, on the basis of the hadith: “A woman may be married for her wealth, her beauty or her religious commitment.” [Reported by the seven scholars].
Usually a husband increases his mahar because of the wife’s wealth, and he will be able to spend her money, and if he cannot afford to spend on her, she will not complain (because she has her own money). This is similar to the rights of heirs in relation to a sick person's wealth. [Al-Mughni, 4/514].
The second opinion:
The husband has the right to stop his wife from spending in all cases, whether it is a small amount or a large amount, except in the case of insignificant things. This is the opinion of al-Layth ibn Sa’d. [Nayl al-Awtaar, 6/22)]
The third opinion:
The woman is not allowed to spend anything of her wealth at all, except with the permission of her husband. This is the opinion of Tawus (Fath al-Baari, 5/218). Ibn Hajar said in al-Fath, and Tawus used as evidence, the hadith of ‘Umar ibn Shu’ayb, “It is not permissible for a woman to give anything of her own wealth except with the permission of her husband.” This was reported by Abu Dawood and al-Nisa’ie. Ibn Battaal said: “The hadeeth narrated in this chapter are more sound.”
The fourth opinion:
The woman has the right to spend her own money in all circumstances, whether in a transaction or otherwise, whether this involves all of her wealth or part of it. This is the opinion of the majority, and is the opinion of the Hanafis, Shafi’es and Hanbalis, and of Ibn al-Mundhir. [al-Mughni, 4/513; al-Ansaaf, 5/342; Ma’aani al-Athaar, 4/354; al-Baari, 5/318; al-Awtaar, 6/22].
This is the soundest opinion, and is most in accordance with the Qur’an, the Sunnah and common sense.
In the Qur’an, Allah says:
“And give to the women (whom you marry) their Mahar (obligatory bridal money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage) with a good heart, but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, take it, and enjoy it without fear of any harm (as Allah has made it lawful).”
Allah allows the husband to take what his wife gives him willingly.
Allah also says:
“And if you divorce them before you have touched (had a sexual relation with) them, and you have appointed unto them the mahar (bridal money given by the husband to the wife at the time of marriage), then pay half of that (mahar), unless the women agree to forego it…”
Here Allah allows women to give up as much of the mahar as they wish if their husbands divorce them, without them having to ask permission from anybody. This indicates that women have the right to decide what to do with their own money, and that a woman has rights to her wealth just as a man has rights to his wealth. [Sharh al-Ma’aani al-Athaar, 4/352].
“And try orphans (as regards their intelligence) until they reach the age of marriage; if then you find sound judgement in them, release their property to them…”
This clearly means that when the female orphan becomes wise and discerning, she is allowed to handle her own wealth.
Similarly, when the women gave their jewellery in charity after the Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) had addressed them during his Eid sermon, this was an indication that they are allowed to dispose of their wealth without asking permission from anybody.
[See Ittihaaf al-Khilaan bi Huquq al-Zawjayn fi’l-Islam by Dr. Fayhan ibn ‘Ateeq al-Mutayri, pp. 92-96].
It says in Nayl al-Awtaar: “the majority of scholars agreed that women are allowed [to handle their own wealth] with no restrictions and without having to ask their husbands’ permission, so long as they are not foolish, but if they are foolish, it is not permitted.” It says in al-Fath: “The majority have a lot of evidence in the Qur’an and Sunnah.”
The majority of scholars argued against those who used as evidence the hadith “It is not permissible for a woman to give anything except with the permission of her husband.” [Reported by Abu Dawud, 3079; Sahih al-Jaami’, 7265; some of its narrators have already been mentioned].
The majority of scholars said that this has to do with the good manners and proper etiquette required of the wife befitting of the rights her husband has over her, and because of his status, experience in life and wisdom. Al-Sindi said in his commentary on al-Nasa’ie with regard to the hadith quoted: “According to the majority of scholars, this has to do with good manners and proper etiquette with the husband.”
The Shafi’es argues that the hadith was not proven, so it cannot be use as evidence when the Qur’an, Sunnah, other reports and common sense indicate the opposite.
Maimunah freed a slave before the Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) knew anything about it, and he did not tell her off. From this and other reports indicate that it is to be interpreted as being the matter of good manners, and the wife has the option either to ask her husband’s permission or not.
Thus the Muslim woman is encouraged to seek her husband’s permission by virtue of his rights– but it is not obligatory for her to do so – and she will be rewarded for doing that. Abu Hurayrah said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was asked, ‘Which woman is the best?’ He said, ‘The one who makes [her husband] happy when he looks at her, who obeys him when he tells her to do something, and who does not oppose him in a manner he dislikes with regard to herself and her wealth.’” [Reported by al-Nisa’ie, 3179; Sahih al-Jaami’, 3292].
And Allah knows best
[Via Islam Q&A]