As-salamu `alaykum.A senior Muslim cleric who runs the UK's largest network of Shari`ah courts has sparked controversy by claiming that there is no such thing as rape within marriage.My question is:- Is a husband allowed to force his wife to have intimate relations with him against her will?- And if he does, would it be a sin for which he will be held accountable on the Day of Judgment?- What is the correct stance of Islam on the issue of rape in marriage? Does it exist? Or is it always a husband's right if his wife is not ill?- Living in a non-Muslim country, like the UK, forcing a wife into intimate relations would be against the law, and the husband may be liable to prosecution. What should a Muslim do if faced with such accusations?
Wa `alaykum as-salamu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
Thank you, brother for your good question. May Allah Almighty reward you on your interest towards your religion.
Regarding your question, Dr. Jamal Badawi, Professor Emeritus at St. Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, stated,
What is missing in this debate is the overall guidance of the nature and sacredness of marital relation and the reciprocal obligations and rights of both parties. In the Qur'an, marriage is based on peaceful tranquility, deep and sustained love and compassion. Almighty Allah says, (And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts)) (Ar-Rum 30: 21).
In both the Qur'an and Sunnah, there is allusion to the reciprocity in marital relations including the intimate and physical aspect of it. To speak exclusively about the "right" of the husband to fulfill his need in the Halal way with his wife and the wife's obligation not to deny him such a right if there is no Shar`i reason such as menstruation or post-partum bleeding, seems to overlook that "rights" are also balanced by "obligations" on the part of both parties.
Furthermore, rights are to be secured "bilma`roof" in a decent and fair manner and in sensitivity to one's partner. Surely it is not fair, even if not haram, for a husband to insist on his "right" to have intimate relation with his wife while she is suffering from high fever or is very exhausted. Likewise, it may not be fair on the part of a loving wife to deny her husband's request or initiative if she does not have the same degree of desire but does not mind helping him out.
If that spirit of Shari`ah is observed by both, the issue can be settled between themselves without the intervention of a third party, let alone going to court without a pressing necessity. If one party or the other insists on going to court in countries that criminalize such act, the husband may seek legal advice to defend himself if he feels that he is accused falsely or wrongly.
In the light of this, "forcing" intimate relation, physically or otherwise, is not befitting for a true Muslim even if there is no haram committed such as adultery.
On accountability: both the Qur’an and Sunnah indicate that every small act of good or bad will be accounted for, yet both also distinguish between major sins (kaba’er) and minor ones (sagha’ir) and of the forgiveness of Allah especially of sagha’ir.