How long can a wife bear without her husband?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.
If a man intends to be away from his wife for any period of time less than four months, then it is advisable that he mutually agrees with her on the amount of time he will not be with her.
In the case where he intends to be away for the period of four months or more, then he is only allowed to do so if his wife agrees.
It is narrated that `Umar Radi Allāhu `anhu was once walking at night doing security when he passed a woman who was singing couplets expressing her loneliness. The next morning, `Umar Radi Allāhu `anhu enquired regarding her. It was told to him that this is so-and-so and her husband is a warrior in the Path of Allah Ta`ālā. Thus, `Umar Radi Allāhu `anhu sent a second woman telling her to be with this woman until her husband returns. He also wrote to her husband instructing him to return home. Thereafter, `Umar Radi Allāhu `anhu approached his daughter Hafsah Radi Allāhu `anhā asking her, “Oh my beloved daughter, how long is a woman able to bear without her husband?” His daughter, Hafsah Radi Allāhu `anhā exclaimed (in surprise), “Oh my beloved father, May Allah forgive you! A person of your caliber is asking a person like me regarding this?” `Umar Radi Allāhu `anhu remarked, “Were it not something I wish to give consideration to for the sake of my subjects, I would not have asked you regarding it.” Hafsah Radi Allāhu `anhā said, “Four months” or she said, “Five months,” or she said “Six months,” (a narrator was unsure which one). Thereafter, `Umar Radi Allāhu `anhu stated, “(When) people fight in the Path of Allah Ta`ālā, they travel for a month going, then they remain fighting for four months and then they take a month to return. Thus, `Umar Radi Allāhu `anhu ordained this on those who intended to go out to fight in the Path of Allah Ta`ālā every year. [Sunan Sa`īd ibn Mansūr (2463), narration of Zaid ibn Aslam (mursalan)]
In another chain from the same narrator, it is reported that Hafsah Radi Allāhu `anhā said, “Four months and five months, and this is the `iddah (waiting period of a woman).” [Tārīkh al-Madinah of `Umar ibn Shabbah (760/2), narration of Zaid ibn Aslam (mursalan)]
In another narration, it is reported that Hafsah Radi Allāhu `anhā said, “Two months would not worry her, four months are in between, and six are the (number of) months (a woman cannot bear without her husband).” Thus, `Umar Radi Allāhu `anhu stipulated the expeditions of the fighters as six months. [Tārīkh al-Madinah of `Umar ibn Shabbah (759/2), narration of Mughīrah ibn Hakīm (mursalan)]
In another narration it is stated that Hafsah Radi Allāhu `anhā said, “Three months, otherwise four months.” Thus, `Umar Radi Allāhu `anhu wrote that the armies should not be kept back for more than four months. [Musannaf `Abdur Razzāq (12593), narration of Ibn Juraij from whom he considers reliable]
According to two other narrations, Hafsah Radi Allāhu `anhā said, “Six months.”
- i. Thus, from then on, `Umar Radi Allāhu `anhu used to despatch his expeditions for six months. [Musannaf `Abdur Razzāq (12594), narration of Ma`mar (mursalan)]
- ii. Thus, `Umar Radi Allāhu `anhu said, “Certainly I will not prepare a man (for battle) longer than six months.” [Al-`Iyāl of ibn Abi al-Dunyā (495), narration of Hasan al-Basrī (mursalan)]
According to another narration, Hafsah Radi Allāhu `anhā said, “Six months,” or she said, “Four months,” (a narrator doubted). Thus, `Umar Radi Allāhu `anhu said, “I will not keep back the army for more than that.” [Sunan al-Kubrā of al-Baihaqī (17850), narration of `Abdullah ibn Dīnār from ibn `Umar (muttasilan)]
In another chain from the same narrator, it is reported that Hafsah Radi Allāhu `anhā said, “Six months,” (without a narrator doubting). [As in al-Talkhīs al-Habīr (474/3), narration of `Abdullah ibn Dīnār from `Umar (mursalan)]
And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best
Checked and Approved by
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.
 وَلَا يَبْلُغُ الْإِيلَاءَ إلَّا بِرِضَاهَا، (الدر المختار، المطبوع مع حاشية ابن عابدين (3/ 203))
وَيَجِبُ أَنْ لَا يَبْلُغَ بِهِ مُدَّةَ الْإِيلَاءِ إلَّا بِرِضَاهَا وَطِيبِ نَفْسِهَا بِهِ. (فتح القدير (3/ 435))
وَلَنَا أَنَّهُ ظَلَمَهَا بِمَنْعِ حَقِّهَا (الهداية، (2/ 259))
فَأَمَّا فِي الدِّيَانَةِ فِيمَا بَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَ اللَّهِ تَعَالَى فَعَلَيْهِ أَنْ يُجَامِعَهَا أَحْيَانًا لِيُعِفَّهَا ، فَإِنْ أَبَى كَانَ عَاصِيًا ، وَالنُّصُوصُ مِنْ السُّنَّةِ وَالْآثَارِ تُفِيدُ ذَلِكَ. (فتح القدير (4/ 192))
 قال النَّخْشَبيّ: هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ غَيْرَ أَنَّهُ مُرْسَلٌ وَقَدْ رُوِيَ مِنْ غَيْرِ حَدِيثِ مَالِكٍ أَنَّهَا قَالَتْ: سِتَّةَ أَشْهُرٍ فَضَرَبَ عُمَرُ بْنُ الْخَطَّابِ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ: الْبَعْثَ سِتَّةَ أَشْهُرٍ شَهْرًا ذَاهِبًا وَشَهْرًا رَاجِعًا وَأَرْبَعَةَ أشهر غازيا فكلما أقام قوم غازيين أَرْبَعَةَ أَشْهُرٍ رَجَعُوا وَاللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ. (فوائد الحنائي (2/ 1274))