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al kafi 642


Are house chores such as cleaning up and cooking the responsibility of the husband or the wife?



Thank you for the question.

Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the many countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.

In building a household, understanding and agreement from both parties, which are the husband and wife is important. The first thing that should be considered is fulfilling one’s responsibilities, obligations and rights of each other. At the same time, in building a harmonious household of baiti jannati, sacrifice is also crucial. The husband should sacrifice for his wife and the wife should sacrifice for her husband. Hence, these will cultivate love and care as stated in Surah al-Rum. As a result, the marriage will be filled with peace, mahabbah (love) and rahmah (blessings) which result in loving happiness.

Al-Quran itself teaches husbands to be good to his wife according to the custom and syarak. Allah SWT state:

وَعَاشِرُوهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ

“And live with them in kindness.”

Surah al-Nisa’ (19)

The majority of scholars stated that it is the obligation of the husband to serve his wife, if she is incapable and unfit to take care of herself. The reason is, it is included as maintenance/provisions (nafkah) for a wife if the wife is sick or incapable to take care of herself for a husband to serve his wife.

However, in madhhab Maliki it is obligatory for a husband to help his wife in service if her husband is rich and the wife has a standing that would make it inappropriate for her to do such tasks that would degrade her standing. See al-Syarh al-Kabir dan Hasyiah al-Dusuki (2/510).

While in madhhab Hanafi, if a wife refuses to grind flour or knead bread for it is inappropriate of her status or because she is sick, then the husband has to provide ready-made food. Consequently, if the wife is capable, then the wife should prepare the food and it is not an obligation of her husband. The argument that supports this is when the Prophet PBUH divided the tasks of Ali and Fatimah where Ali is tasked to take care of matters outside of the house while Fatimah is responsible to take care of their household. See Fath al-Bari (9/507).

Dr Yusuf al-Qaradhawi in Fatawa Mu’asirah (trans.) 3/144 state, “The service of a slave (helper) is a form of good relationship (towards the wife). It is not obligatory to provide more than one salve for the service is only for herself.”

According to numerous evidences and advice of salafussoleh, it is clear that wives are greatly encouraged to sacrifice in terms of household for she is responsible to manage the household as well as educate the children. In Arabic they are even known as rabbatul bayt which means the owner or manager of a house.

Saidina Umar RA advised Aqil RA regarding the standing of a wife, where the wife helped a lot in terms of educating, cooking and others. This is also what is practised by Asma’ binti Abu Bakr who helped her husband, al-Zubair Ibn al-Awwam. This is not an uncommon practise in the custom of all races which also includes the history of Fatimah al-Zahra’ who helped her husband to grind wheat and others. The same is the practise of our ancestors who sacrificed themselves for their husbands and family.

In Raudhah al-Nadiyyah, by Sayyid Siddiq Hasan Khan, it is stated: “It differs according to time, place and the situation of an individual. Provisions should be given accordingly, whether it is in times of wealth or economic downturn.

However, for husbands who are financially able, he should help ease the burden of his wife by providing a maid or buying the right appliances such as washing machine and rice cooker that would surely help her in her daily lives.

Hence, here we state that everyone should understand their own role and responsibilities and the reality of life in educating our future generation; understanding, tolerance and helping each other is crucial in cultivating love which will lead to happiness and ultimately create baiti jannati. Wife and children will then become the qurratul ain for their husband and father. Lastly, we pray to Allah SWT as the following:

رَبَّنَا هَبْ لَنَا مِنْ أَزْوَاجِنَا وَذُرِّيَّاتِنَا قُرَّةَ أَعْيُنٍ وَاجْعَلْنَا لِلْمُتَّقِينَ إِمَامًا

"Our Lord, grant us from among our wives and offspring comfort to our eyes and make us an example for the righteous."

Surah al-Furqan (74)