Is it the wife’s responsibility to cook?

QUESTION:

There is a message going around that a wife does not have to cook. A husband must provide three times cooked food for the family. Is this the ideal we ought to be living by? Any examples from the life of Rasulullah Sallahu alaihi wasalam and the Sahabah would be valued.

 ANSWER:

 
It is important to draw a distinction between a principle point of view and a practical point of view. A successful and blissful marriage does not come about by insisting on principle issues. In fact often principle issues may not be practical and may lead to a breakdown in a marriage.

 
It is also important to understand the context of the principle laid down by the fuqaha. If for example, there is a marital dispute and the dispute comes before a judge, and he has to issue a decree, then the principles would be stated to be enforced. Hence, the principles are not in an ideal and harmonious marital situation. They are to control an already acrimonious situation.

 
It would be short sighted for someone to propagate a damage control situation in a normal and untroubled marriage. In fact, propagating such rulings have the potential to destabilise a stable marriage. Our learned sisters who study the Aalimah course would have some insight to understand the context of such rulings especially after studying so many Ahadith on making sacrifices in a marriage.

 
Imagine if we have to propagate a juristic ruling that a woman does not have to cook for her husband and a husband does not have to provide for medical expenses for his wife, what would be the consequences of this?
 

Fatima Radhiallahu Anha the beloved daughter of Rasulullah ﷺ. If anyone deserved to be honoured by being spared with household chores and cooking, it would be Fatima Radhiallahu Anha, the queen of Jannah. However, see the following thought provoking incident and learn a lesson from that. Every woman should ask herself the following question. Do I prefer a measure and standard set by Rasulullah ﷺ  for His daughter or do I prefer not to be like the daughter of Rasulullah  ﷺ with another standard?

 
“Hadhrat Fatima Radhiallahu Anha complained about the blisters on her hand due to the usage of a mill-stone. She went to ask Rasulullah  ﷺ  for a servant, but she did not find him (at home) and had to inform Hadhrat Aisha Radhiallahu Anha  of her need. When Rasulullah ﷺ  came, Hadhrat Aisha Radhiallahu Anha informed Rasulullah ﷺ  about Hadhrat Fatima Radhiallahu Anha’s need . Rasulullah ﷺ  came to us when we were about to retire to bed. When I was going to get up, he said, “‘Stay in your places,” and sat between us, till I felt the coolness of the feet on my chest. Rasulullah ﷺ then said, “Shall I not tell you of a thing which is better for you than a servant? When you (both) go to your beds, say ‘Allahu Akbar’ thirty-four times, and ‘SubhanAllah’ thirty-three times, ‘Alhamdulillah’ thirty-three times, for that is better for you than a servant.”
(Sahih Bukhari 70/8)

 
It is clearly understood from this Hadith that Fatima Radhiallahu Anha would do the household chores. It is obvious that she would also cook.

 
The wives of Rasulullah  ﷺ would cook. The wives of Sahabah Radhiyallahu Anhum would cook. Our ideal is to follow the standard and practice of the wives of Rasulullah ﷺ and the daughters of Rasulullah  ﷺ and the general womenfolk at the time when Islam was at its glory with such practices.

 
And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best
 

Huzaifah Deedat

Student Darul Iftaa

Lusaka, Zambia
 

Checked and Approved by,

Mufti Ebrahim Desai.

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(References omitted for purposes of brevity. For the full Fatwa refer to: http://askimam.org/public/question_detail/35240)