Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah

Question: Assalamu alaykum

What does Islam say about the neglect of the wife’s sexual rights?

What punishments does the husband receive on the world or on the day of judgment if he does not satisfy his wife during sexual intercourse?

Can the husband leave the marital bed if his wife has not had orgasm?

Answer: The purposes of marriage are, a) to preserve chastity, b) to preserve lineage, c) mutual satisfaction of physical desire, d) companionship between the two sexes.

If either spouse neglects the means to fulfil the purpose of marriage, then they have neglected the right of another person and abandoned a duty that they have taken upon themselves by marrying. Neglecting another’s right and abandoning a duty is not permitted in Islam and such a person is accountable for doing so.

Conjugal rights

In the same way it is a religious obligation that a man provides certain financial rights of the wife, he must also fulfil certain conjugal rights. The wife has as much right to have her sexual needs fulfilled as the husband has.

When informed of Abdullah Ibn ‘Amr’s neglecting of his wife’s conjugal rights, the Prophet ﷺ reminded him that, ‘Your wife has a right over you.’ [al Bukhari]

Just as satisfying him keeps him chaste and away from sin, satisfying one’s wife’s desire prevents her from sin and temptation. One should not presume a woman would be tempted any less than a man when his needs are not fulfilled.

Spirit of Islamic conduct and living

Islam in practice is not simply living by the letter of the law. It takes into account the emotional, spiritual, and physical needs and development of a human being. In our everyday practice of the faith, we have been ordered to observe excellence in interactions and human relations (husn al mu’ashara).

In this regard, God says, ‘And live with them in kindness’ [4:19]. Disregarding one’s spouse’s natural needs is obviously not kindness. Similarly, God tells us, ‘Women have rights similar to those of men equitably.’ [2:228]

In a weak hadith narrated in Musnad Abu Y’ala, the Prophet ﷺ is reported to have said, ‘If any of you has intercourse with his wife let him be true to her. If he attains his pleasure before her then he shouldn’t hurry her away until she also attains her pleasure.’ Though the hadith is weak, the meaning is sound as mentioned scholars.

Therefore, a man who intentionally neglects his wife’s physical needs is not only abandoning his obligation, but also manifests a lack of understanding of the true nature of what Islam entails in practice.

How often?

Because one of the purposes of marriage is to keep the spouses chaste, spouses should satisfy each other’s physical needs whenever possible, without interfering with their other duties or causing harm to each other or themselves. This will vary from person to person, couple to couple.

Imam al Ghazali states in his Ihya that ‘A man should make love to his wife every four nights … though he should make love to her more or less than this, according to the amount she needs to remains chaste and free of want since it is obligatory for a husband to enable her to keep chaste.’

‘Rape’

Though prevalent these days, the use of the word ‘rape’, which means the act of a man forcing another person to have sexual intercourse with him against their will, is problematic in the context of marriage.

Islam already takes into account the fact that a woman may have times where she is physically or psychologically unable to fulfil her husband’s desire, and by doing so, her condition may worsen. In these cases, the husband would be prohibited from forcing the wife to have intercourse, and if he did so, he would be sinful.

[‘Iyanat al Talibin, Fayd Allahi al Malik, Mujma’ al Zawa’id, Ihya ‘Ulum al Din]

And Allah knows best.

Warmest salams,
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah

Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.

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