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IslamQA: Can a Muslim woman leave her house without the permission of her husband?

Assalumalaikum Can a woman leave her house without the permission of her husband? Is the Hadith forbidding this authentic?

The Islamic family functions according to the principle of qiwāma, which refers to the fact that the husband is the ultimate authority in the household. Women are free to seek divorce or threaten divorce, but while remaining married to a man, they are required to respect the fact he is the chief of the household. If her husband is a tyrant and refuses to let her leave the house, she should seek the help of her family, his family, religious authorities, or should threaten divorce. In Islam the man and the woman are equal as humans and have equal human rights. Neither is allowed to oppress the other. The husband’s higher authority is similar to a CEO’s authority over his employees. He does not consider him employees lesser humans, he knows they are his equals when it comes to their human rights, but he is given a higher authority so that the business can function more effectively.

This is merely the theoretical framework. In the real world, Muslim husbands and wives, just like Western couples, agree with each other on what is acceptable behavior and what is not. So regarding your specific question, the husband’s permission does not mean that she should ask him whether she can go out every time she wants to (like a school child in a classroom). It means that her activities should be with the general knowledge and approval of her husband. So if the husband accepts the fact that she usually goes out for grocery shopping, or for work, or for medical appointments, then his acceptance is the “permission” that is meant.

So in the real world things are just like any other marriage. Needing her husband’s permission simply means that she should not do things that he finds unacceptable. She should not randomly go to a concert without first finding out whether her husband agrees with her going to that concert. But when it comes to ordinary daily activities, then she can do whatever is normal without requiring her husband’s specific approval, since he knows about these activities and approves of them.


And God knows best.
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