Is it a sin for the wife and husband to avoid having intercourse with each other? Can a man or woman reject the sexual desire of their spouses when they are sick?

Details of the Question
Is it a sin for the wife and husband to avoid having intercourse with each other? Can a man or woman reject the sexual desire of their spouses when they are sick?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

It is not permissible for a man or woman to avoid sexual intercourse.

1. Oppression is not just beating. The main oppression in marriage is that one who is impotent gets married and cannot satisfy his wife's sexual desires. It is not permissible for such a man to get married.

2. It is not permissible for the wife and husband to avoid having intercourse with each other.

The man has the right to benefit from his wife sexually and the woman has the right to benefit from her husband sexually. If the woman does not let her husband use that right, the woman is considered a sinner.

Allah states the following: “And they (the women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in equity; but men have a degree of advantage above them. And ALLAH is Mighty and Wise. (Al-Baqara, 228)

The degree mentioned in that verse is not about sexuality. Men and women are equal in terms of sexuality. Man’s “a degree of advantage above them” is related to protecting his wife and her assets, looking after her rights, and being loaded with the burden of the family.
The Messenger of Allah said: “If the woman performs nafilah (supererogatory) fasts without the permission of her husband and avoids meeting the desires of her husband, Allah loads the sin of three bad deeds over her.”
When a man calls his wife for sexual intercourse, even if the woman is cooking at that moment, she should answer her husband’s call.”

“When a man wants to sleep with his wife, if the woman does not want to come without an excuse and if the man sleeps offended, angels curse that woman till morning.
Do you want to know women deserving Heaven? They are women who say to their husbands “I will not sleep till I make you satisfied” when they make a mistake or are treated unfairly by their husbands and who are fond of them.”

“Even if the woman is cooking, she should sleep with her husband calls her.”
Similarly, a woman has the right to demand sexual intercourse from her husband. It is the duty of the husband to help her have it. If the husband does not do his duty, he will be considered guilty and sinner. (Tafsir Qurtubi 3/124) Moreover, if the husband cannot do his sexual duty, the woman has the right to divorce him by applying to the court. The husband also has that right.
The Messenger of Allah likened people who did that duty without foreplay to roosters, namely animals and he recommended that sexual intercourse should not be started without foreplay because men can be aroused even by only looking at a woman, but women become ready after a long period of foreplay. A good husband is the husband who can make his wife ready for it and satisfy her as much as he satisfies himself. Men who just think of themselves in the sexual relationship should not forget that they torture their partners by enjoying only themselves. 
That is, spouses should not avoid their sexual duties. Each side should do that duty. However, if one of the spouses is not ready to do it psychologically and biologically, the spouses should be patient, understanding, and tolerant towards each other.
3. Almighty Allah made sexual intercourse between a husband and a wife legitimate. It is stated that there is no blame and condemnation for the sexual intercourse within the limits of morality between them (see al-Mu'minun, 23/6.). However, the aim of protecting women in terms of physical and spiritual life, Islam brings some restrictions to the sexual life of the spouses.
It is not permissible for a woman to have sexual relationship with her husband in the periods of menstruation and puerperum, when she is in Ihram in Hajj, in the cases of zihar or ilaa (indirect ways of divorcing), till the atonement is paid for it. In such cases, the woman has to avoid sexual relationship with her husband. 
Furthermore, the woman who cannot bear sexual relationship because of illness and weakness can also avoid sexual intercourse. As a matter of fact, if the man has sexual intercourse with his wife in such a case, he will be responsible for it, because it will hurt her. (Ibn Abidin, al-Uqudu'd-durriyya I/26.)
The woman has the right to reject sexual intercourse with her husband because of biological and psychological reasons or sickness. If the spouses disagree over the matter, they should consult to an expert Muslim doctor and behave in accordance with the doctor’s instructions.
It is not permissible for a man or woman to satisfy themselves with their hands (masturbation), etc.  However, the man can satisfy his wife with his hands and the woman can satisfy her husband with her hands. (Sarakhsi, Mabsut X/159)  A woman can satisfy her husband who cannot have sexual intercourse due to an excuse without having a sexual intercourse.

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