Can a Muslim sister decide not to marry due to certain reasons such as fear of becoming a sinner if she fails to perform her marital duties as a wife?

The Islamic verdict concerning whether it is permissible for a woman not to marry varies depending on the situation. Marriage can either be wajib or fard.

If there is no Sharia prohibition for a woman on getting married and she only fears that she may not be able to perform her husband’s duties then instead of refraining from marriage, she should gather up the courage to fulfill those duties. Thus, she ought to acquire knowledge about a husband’s duties.

Yes, to learn these rules is something obligatory for every woman who intends to get married. Not only knowledge about a husband’s duties, in fact, the act of patience and gratitude, their details, and relevant information should be acquired.

These days, it is so difficult for a woman to survive alone without a partner. This could result to domestic problems and also poses a risk of her committing sins. Thus, one should rather overcome weaknesses than totally abandon a good deed.

However, if a woman fears that she will fail to perform her duties as a wife, then she will not be a sinner if she decides not to get married; unless she finds herself in a situation where it becomes necessary for her to get a husband. Islamic history is very rich in examples that arouse enthusiasm for the practice of Islamic teachings.

There’s been female saints who remained deeply concerned about the fulfillment of their duties and sacrificed their likes and dislikes for the commands of Allah

Some ahadith reported that on hearing the severity or seriousness of a husband’s rights, many women vowed never to get married in front of the Beloved Prophet and did not object to their decision.

A woman once said to the Beloved and Blessed Prophet, Ya Rasoolallah! Please tell me what a wife’s duties are towards her husband, because I have no husband now. If I feel I can fulfill those duties then I will get a husband; otherwise I will not.

The prophet then replied, ‘A husband’s rights on his wife are that if she is on a saddle and her husband wants an intimate with her on the same ride, then she should never object, and it is his right that she should not begin a voluntary fast without his permission. If she does, then she will remain hungry and thirsty for nothing with no benefit and her fast will not be accepted, and she must not exit home without his permission. If she does, then the angels of the sky, the angels of mercy, the angels of punishment, all curse her until she returns.’

After hearing this, the woman commented, ‘It is better that I remain unmarried.’ (Majma’-uz-Zawaid, vol. 4, pp. 563,  hadith 7638)

In another narration, a lady came to the Beloved Prophet and introduced herself, ‘I am this and this, the daughter of so and so.’ The Prophet replied, ‘I know who you are, what is it you need?’

She answered, ‘I came to ask about my so and so pious cousin who is a son of my paternal uncle.’ He responded, ‘I recognised him too, i.e. tell what you want?’ She said, ‘He has proposed to me, please teach me the duties of a wife, if I can fulfill them, then I will marry him.’

The Prophet answered, ‘One part of a husband’s rights is that if blood or pus flow from both his nostrils and his wife licks it with her tongue, she still would not have fulfilled her duties to him. If it was acceptable for one human to prostrate to another, then I would command a woman to prostrate to her husband when he comes home from somewhere and appears in front of her, because this is the excellence that Allah has granted to men.’

When she heard this, she said, ‘I swear by Him who has sent you with the truth, I will never marry for as long as I live.’ (Bazaz and Hakim reported this on the authority of Sayyiduna Abu Hurayrah)

Yet in another narration, a gentleman came to the Holy Prophet with his daughter and said, ‘My daughter is refusing to marry.’ The Prophet of Mercy instructed her, ‘Obey your father.’ The woman replied, ‘I swear by the One Who sent you with the truth, I will not marry until you teach me the rights of the husband over his wife.’

The prophet replied, ‘A right of husband over his wife is that if he has a boil and she licks it clean with her tongue or if blood or pus flows from his nostrils and she swallows it, then she will still not fulfill her duty to him.’ The woman responded, ‘I swear by the One Who has sent you with the truth! I will never marry.’

The Noblest Prophet said, ‘Do not marry off women until they approve.’ (Majma’-uz-Zawaid, vol. 4, pp. 564, hadith 7639)

Dear sisters in Islam! These sacred Ahadith show that the amazing biographies of the honourable women in history teach us that they were extremely eager to acquire the religious knowledge of the matters they confronted.

They were extremely cautious regarding even the possibility of committing a sin. These blessed ahadith also contain a lesson for married women so that they must never fall short in their duties as wives.

Let’s always strive in fulfilling the commands of Allah because it is He only we can rely for guidance and He knows best.