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in category Family, Gender and Sexuality

Is it obligatory for a wife to cook and clean in the home?

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There is a difference of opinion amongst the classical scholars regarding wives serving their husbands ie in relation to cooking and cleaning There are three general positions:

1. One group consider it generally obligatory.

This is the opinion of scholars like Ibn Abi Shaybah, Abi Thaur, some Hanafis such as al-Juwzajani, Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn al-Qayyim, al-Tabari and Muhammad bin Ali bin al-Ityuni (Qurrat al-ayn al-muhtaj 2:415).

2. One group considered it non-obligatory

The Hanafis generally consider it a non-compulsory religious obligation as do the Shafi'is, most Hanbalis and some Malikis. Abu Hanifah and Muhammad bin al-Hasan gave this opinion.

Ibn Qudamah was certain of it, though he preceded his opinion by saying:

“However, it is best that she perform whatever is customary for wives to perform because it is the custom, the situation won’t be right without it, and society won’t function without it.”

3. One group considered it obligatory in certain circumstances

The Malikis consider it obligatory if the husband happens to be poor or she is not from the upper echelons of society where she is accustomed to servants undertaking cooking and cleaning roles.


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