Helping your wife with household chores is a neglected sunnah. Any man that sees it beneath him or is too arrogant to help his wife around the house is acting against the sunnah and is guilty of chauvinistic behavior. In fact, majority of Muslim scholars are of the opinion that serving one’s husband is not compulsory on a wife including Imam Malik, al-Shafi’, and Abu Hanifa. In other words, they opine that a wife is under no obligation to cook, clean, wash, sew, etc. for her husband. The popular Kuwaiti cleric Sh. Othman al-Khamis says the same in one of the videos on his YouTube channel and adds that according to many people of knowledge, it is obligatory on the husband to bring someone to serve his wife for such tasks (servant, domestic worker, etc.).
The Shafi’ scholar Sh. Musa Furber argues that a “husband is required to inform his wife that this is not the case. Furthermore, she is entitled to wages for doing so – if she decides not to do so as an act of charity. Her refusal to do so is not an act of disobedience and he cannot withhold her support if she refuses.”
Aisha, the wife of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), was asked, “What did the Prophet (ﷺ) use to do in his house?” She replied, “He used to keep himself busy serving his family (كَانَ يَكُونُ فِي مِهْنَةِ أَهْلِهِ) and when it was the time for prayer he would go for it.” (Bukhari)
The word used in the hadith is mihnah (مِهْنَة), which is translated as ‘busy serving’ here, also means in the Arabic language ‘work’, ‘job’, ‘profession’, etc. This implies helping your wife in the house is a full time job as well. Whether it’s helping wash the dishes, cooking, cleaning, raising the kids, etc., is all part and parcel of being the ‘man’ of the house. The notion that it is somehow degrading for men to help and work with the wife around the house is foreign to Islam.
In another report Aisha is reported to have said, “He did what one of you would do in his house. He mended sandals and patched garments and sewed.” (Adab Al-Mufrad graded sahih by Al-Albani)
In yet another report it is said that she said, “He milked his goat.” (Ahmad)
Hence, he did not find such things too ‘womanish’ for him to do. It is no wonder that he said, “The best of you is the one who is best to his wife, and I am the best of you to my wives.” (Tirmidhi; Ibn Majah)
Following is a very interesting and touching short video on this topic and shows how culture has ingrained within many societies a wrong understanding (Urdu only):
I am a Pakistani-American Muslim blogger. I hold a B.S. in Information Technology and a B.A. in Islamic Studies. I am also a follower and a student of the Hanbali school of Islamic law. Read more