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Husband falling short in his duties towards his wife because of physical and mental illness

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Question

I have been married for approximately two and a half years but my husband does not become intimate with me except every three or five months approximately. He always gives excuses such as sickness or being bewitched (sihr), or the lack of financial stability. He does not show me any affection at all. Every time I speak frankly to him about the matter he comes up with ready-made excuses. Please note that he does not suffering from any (physical) problem, as he says, and he refuses to go to the doctor. In the end I told his family about the matter and they spoke to him, but it was of no benefit . He is putting pressure on me to seek treatment in order to become pregnant and I do not know how it can happen. I am fed up and I do not know what to do. If my family find out about my situation this will definitely result in divorce. Please note that we have been to a number of religious shaykhs, all of whom confirmed that the evil eye is involved, but nothing has helped us. To be frank, I am afraid that I may fall into immoral actions.

I hope that you can explain to me what I have to do, and in the case of divorce, what are my rights?.

Praise be to Allah.

Allah has enjoined
upon the husband to treat his wife decently and with kindness, as He says
(interpretation of the meaning):

“And live with
them honourably”

[an-Nisa’ 4:19].

This is one of the
rights that are common to both spouses; each must treat the other decently
and with kindness. 

Each spouse has
rights over the other. We have discussed in detail the rights of the spouses
over one another in the answer to question no.
10680

One of the rights
that the wife has over her husband is that he should keep her chaste by
means of intercourse with her. This is obligatory for the one who is able to
do it. This is the view of the majority of scholars. 

It says in
al-Mawsoo‘ah al-Fiqhiyyah (30/127): 

One of the rights
of the wife over her husband is that he should keep her chaste by having
intercourse with her. The majority of fuqaha’ – Hanafis, Maalikis and
Hanbalis – are of the view that it is obligatory for the husband to have
intercourse with his wife. End quote. 

The scholars
differed with regard to the limits within which the husband must have
intercourse with his wife. The most correct opinion is that it should be in
accordance with her need and his ability. 

Shaykh al-Islam
Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked about a man who does
not have intercourse with his wife for one or two months; is there any sin
on him or not? Is the husband required to do that? 

He replied: 

The man should
have intercourse with his wife according to what is reasonable. It is the
most important right that she has over him and is more important than
providing her with food. It was said that obligatory intercourse is once
every four months, or whatever is in accordance with her need and his
ability, just as he should feed her according to her need and what he can
afford. This is the more correct of the two scholarly opinions. 

Majmoo‘
al-Fataawa,
32/271 

Your husband may
be suffering from some mental or physical illness and this may be what is
causing him to refrain from intercourse or showing affection. You cannot be
certain that this is not happening in his case, especially since you say
that the shaykhs who have examined your situation think that he has been
affected by the evil eye. It is not far-fetched to say that that the evil
eye may be what has caused the change in his behaviour. 

Dr. ‘Abdullah
as-Sadhaan – who is a specialist in matters of ruqyah and whose doctoral
thesis was entitled Diraasah Muqaarinah ‘an ar-Ruqyah ash-Shar‘iyyah
(A Comparative Study of Ruqyah as prescribed in Islam) was asked: 

Can the evil eye
cause physical sickness or financial or social problems? 

He replied: 

Yes, the evil eye
can cause a lack of healing from many physical problems and may even make
them worse. It may also cause financial and marital problems, breakdown in
relationships and a lot of calamities. How can it be otherwise, when the
Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Death among my
ummah is mostly caused, after the will and decree of Allah, by the evil
eye.” So whatever occurs of calamities that are less serious than death are
more likely to be caused by the evil eye. 

Majallat
ad-Da‘wah,
issue no. 2018, 15 Shawwaal 1426 AH/17 November 2005 CE 

One of the duties
of the righteous wife is to stand by her husband in such situations, because
he is in the greatest need of someone to support him and help him in
treating his disease until Allah decrees that he should be healed. If what
has befallen him is caused by his material circumstances and social
interactions, then you can win his heart by beautifying yourself for him,
and treating him in a loving and kind manner, for you are his source of
tranquillity. Allah has created between the spouses love and compassion that
will make it easy for you to reach his heart and reduce the pressure that he
is suffering because of his circumstances. 

You should
understand that the man is not like the woman; the woman  can respond to her
husband’s sexual needs in all circumstances unless she is sick, menstruating
or bleeding following childbirth. But a man cannot do that unless he has
energy and the desire for intercourse. Hence Islam does not oblige him to
treat his wives (in the case of plural marriage) equally in terms of
intercourse, because that depends on energy, desire and strength. For the
same reason also there is a warning against refusing to share the marital
bed on the part of the wife but not the husband. 

With regard to
your saying that you are afraid of falling into immoral actions, you should
be patient and forbearing, and help your husband until Allah heals him. If
you are not able to be patient then you have the right to ask for a
divorce. 

Your husband
should hasten to seek treatment for himself; he should not hesitate to do so
or be heedless or lazy about it. According to what you say, he is neglecting
the rights of his wife and the wife has the right to be kept chaste. If he
is able to do it then he should do so, otherwise he should divorce her and
let her go in a good manner, if she cannot be patient during her husband’s
illness. 

In the answer to
question no. 11359 we have
described how to protect oneself against the evil eye and to remedy the
matter. 

We think that it
is best to refer your case to an Islamic judge (qaadi), because he will be
able to establish the facts of your husband’s case and seek medical reports,
after which he will be able to issue a verdict on matters of divorce and
rights. 

We advise you to
be patient in putting up with the situation in which you find yourself and
to support your husband during his illness and do your part to seek a remedy
for it, whether that is with doctors or psychologists, or with trustworthy
shaykhs, so that you can find out the cause of his problem, as he may indeed
have been affected by the evil eye. 

We ask Allah to
set your affairs straight. 

And Allah knows best.

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