By Dr. Azizah al-Hibri and Ghada Ghazal.
KARAMAH October 2018
This is the second installment in our white paper series entitled “Debunking the Myth.” The series addresses religiously significant issues that are of special concern to Muslim women. In this paper, we address the above-captioned hadith (saying of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)) that Muslims interpret as requiring wives to accede to their husbands’sexual demands or be cursed by angels (the “Angels Hadith”). Several women, particularly working mothers in the US and abroad, have expressed their anxiety at offending their religion by turning down sexual overtures by their husbands. Yet, after returning from a long day at work, followed by housework and childcare at home, these women usually look forward to a deserved evening of rest. Instead, they find themselves torn between the religious pressures of acceding to their husbands’ sexual demands and the demands of their own health and physical needs.
Given the anxieties of some Muslim women about the Angels Hadith and the sense of absolute entitlement some men feel because they misunderstand religious texts, we have decided to make the Angels Hadith the subject of the second white paper in this series.