When a man calls his wife to bed

The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said, “If a man calls his wife to bed and she refuses and in that she upsets him, the angels will continue to curse her until the morning.”

[Sahih Al-Bukhari and Muslim]


Shaykh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid (may Allah preserve him) commented on this Hadith:

In the phrase “if a man calls his wife to his bed,” the word “bed” is obviously a metaphor for intercourse. Metaphors are used in the Qur’an and Sunnah to refer to things about which people usually feel shy.

Does this apply only to the nighttime, or does it include daytime too? The answer may be found in a Hadith narrated by Muslim: “By the One in Whose hand is my soul, there is no man who calls his wife to his bed and she refuses, but the One Who is above the heavens [i.e. Allah] will be angry with her, until he (her husband) is pleased with her.”

Ibn Khuzaymah and Ibn Hibbaan report a Hadith narrated by Jaabir (radi Allahu anhu): “There are three whose prayers will not be accepted and none of whose good deeds will ascend to heaven: a runaway slave, until he returns to his master; a drunken man until he becomes sober; and a woman with whom her husband is angry, until he is pleased with her.” These are general terms, which include both night and day.

The phrase “and he spends the night angry with her” refers to the cause of the angels’ curse, because this confirms that she is a sinner, which is a different matter than if he accepts her excuse and is not angry with her, or lets the matter drop.

Is she to blame if he keeps her away from his bed?

The answer is: no, unless she is the one who started the separation and he is keeping away from her because of it, and she did not apologise but prolonged the separation. But if he is the one who started it, and is thus treating her unfairly, then she is not to blame. In one report, instead of the words “the angels curse her until morning,” the wording is “… until she returns” – and this is a useful variant.

This Hadith tells us that denying a spouse’s rights – whether physical or financial – is something that will inevitably bring about the wrath of Allah, unless Allah grants His mercy to the sinner.

We also learn that the angels will pray against a sinner so long as he or she persists in the sin.

The Hadith also directs a wife to help her husband and seek his satisfaction, because a man is less patient than a woman when it comes to doing without intercourse. The most disturbing thing for a man is his sexual impulse, so Islam urges women to help their husbands in this regard. (Adapted and abbreviated from the commentary by al-Haafiz Ibn Hajr – May Allah have mercy on him – on this Hadith in Fath al-Baari).

And Allah knows best!

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