According to legal system of Islam, the expenditure of the family is carried by the husband. It is the duty of man to pay the expenses of the wife, even if she is wealthier than him. It is incumbent to bear the Maintenance, which is one of the commands of Islam. Maintenance is the right of the wife. If the man does not pay it, it will be like a loan and remain on him, and at the time of demand he should pay it. Even if he refuses to pay the Maintenance, the Islamic authority and the religious judge can give divorce to that woman (upon her request).
Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) said:
“Whoever has a wife but does not pay for food and clothes, the Imam has the right to separate them.”(1)
Is’haq Ibn Ammar says, “I asked Imam Sadiq (a.s.) what is the right of woman over her husband?”
He replied: Food and clothes and to forgive her errors.(2)
Maintenance refers to all the requirements of the family, with regards to the level standard of the society of that time and place, and according to the status of the family, such as:
۱) Food, fruits, and other things according to necessity, and social status.
۲) Carpet and bed.
۳) Summer and winter clothes, according to necessity and their standard level.
۴) Utensils and necessary things for cooking, eating, and drinking;
۵) Air conditioner.
۶) House, owned or rented, according to their standard level, and suitable to give them comfort.
۷) Expense of health and medicine.
۸) The costs of cleanliness and make-up.
۹) And other requirements.
۱- Wasael, Vol. 15, P. 223
۲- Wasael, Vol. 15, P. 224
AN OBJECTION AND ITS REPLY
The topic of Maintenance has come under criticism, and it is said that by this system the woman is insulted and treated as a rented worker who gets food and clothes for her day and night hard works.
ANSWER: The above objection is due to misinformation and in view of those who raise this objection the responsibility of housework is on the woman. She also has to look after the children, take care of them and suckle them. However, the fact is that she is free to reject any homework and may ask for a servant. She may also ask for the wage for the housework she does; that is to look after the children or to suckle them. Again her Maintenance is the responsibility of man.
By paying attention to the above points, how can it be said that it is an insult to woman, and she is counted as a servant?
While the husband and wife need each other for satisfying their sexual desires and procreation, why is the family expenditure the responsibility of the man alone? Why only the man has to work and the woman gets food, clothes, and sleeps, and does no work in the house? Is not it injustice on man? Why should the expenses of the woman be on the husband, and he should obey her orders? Wouldn’t it be better if both, husband and wife work and bear the expenses of the household together?
In reply we point out some important things:
۱) Nature has kept heavy responsibilities on woman, that she has to perform, i.e. pregnancy, delivery, breast-feeding, to look after and train the children. To accomplish these responsibilities she requires time, which is not possible if she works out of the house and also not suitable to her.
۲) Every month women have periods for some days, and during these days they require rest.
۳) Although housework and children are not lawful responsibility of the woman, but ethically and according to practice she cannot disregard them. Since it is the necessity of life and family, and contributes to the beautification of house and attracting the husband.
۴) Woman is a soft, lofty, and beautiful creature, and the best way of endearing herself to the husband is her softness and beauty. If she works out, the difficult and tiring job affects her softness, beauty, and her attraction. Her attractiveness to the husband decreases, which is neither to her benefit nor that of her husband. If it is decided that woman works like man for the expenditure of house and expenses of life, in choosing a profession like man, sometimes she has to work in the coal and iron mines, automobile industry, petrochemicals, cement, petroleum factories, road, transport action, railway, and driving of heavy trucks, and the tiring night jobs.
Therefore, if men and women would have to work together for maintaining the life equally, they naturally would face such problems. Thus women cannot be made to work like men and pay the expenses of life.
Due to this, and to support the woman, Islamic legal system has put the responsibility of managing the house on the husband, so that wife, with comfort and time, performs those duties, which the nature has kept on her. She must look after the children, protect her beauty and happiness, and preserve her position in the heart of her husband, and considers the house as a source of comfort and friendship.
In this situation, man with comfortable mind and interest at wife and children, and getting peace in life, works harder and bears the expenses of the house.
On this basis, Islam by knowing the realities and observing the well-being of husband, wife, and children, and to stabilize the marital life, has made expenses of the family a responsibility of man and it has not been a partial decision.
The well-being of woman and man necessitate that Maintenance be on the man, and woman be depended on him. Since man is in live with the woman, it is necessary that he pays for her and this is not improper. He also gets a sense of personality. The economical dependence of woman is not harmful to her, and does not make her a domestic who just eats the ration. Rather it helps the base of marriage. Generally, the income of husband belongs to the family, and he pays for the expenses, and it does not affect the economic independence of the wife.
At the end, it is important to remind that the aim of Islam by establishment of Maintenance was not that the wife sits idle at home, and just eats and wears without taking any responsibility and work out of home. She can, by observing her capacity and interest, and her facility and by mutual understanding with her husband, choose a suitable profession and perform her duty and in this way she can earn income. Her income belongs to her only, and she is not forced to share it. But a good wife, according to her sincerity presents her income to the family members, so that she can be a partner in managing the house and for making life more comfortable, and this increases the love and kindness of the family.
THINK AND ANSWER
۱٫ Who is responsible for home expenses?
۲٫ What are compulsory expenses?
۳٫ Has the compulsion of Maintenance on the husband humiliated the wife? Why?
۴٫ Why is the Maintenance of the wife a responsibility of husband?
۵٫ Is the compulsion of bearing Maintenance by the husband an injustice? Why?