Marriage in Islam: Family Living Options and the Wisdom Behind Divine Injunctions

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Reality-Bites About Married LifeThere are several factors regarding the fiqh or Islamic jurisprudence of nikah that a newly married Muslim couple needs to bear in mind when they embark on their matrimonial journey.

The proposal process is often so exhausting that, once a suitable match is found, everyone’s focus immediately shifts on the cultural wedding festivities.

Clothes, guest lists, decorations for the banquets, and menu arrangements are harried over, with little or no attention paid to the tarbiyah and moral training of the soon-to-be-wed young Muslim, who is about to step into a totally unfamiliar domain.

Since these outer, more touted aspects of marriage tend to overshadow Islamic fiqh matters, Muslims overlook certain significant risk factors that come into play from ‘Day One’ of marriage, but which greatly affect the mutual husband-wife relationship, right from its threshold.

Once they are married, young people tend to continue their relationships with parents, cousins, and friends as if nothing has changed. They reveal everything about their married life to them, and answer every personal, inquisitive question thrown their way. If this continues – as is the usual case – a time comes when the husband-wife relationship starts to deteriorate.

What is the reason for that, one wonders? It is, in fact, a consequence of undermining the importance of Allah’s commands regarding marriage. These wise Divine injunctions protect the marriage from Satan’s attack, which is so multifaceted and subtle, that only the knowledgeable, insightful eye can detect it.

Hence, it is important to point out to Muslim couples the black-and-white reality of the need to change their relationships after marriage.

Parents’ roles change:

Parents love their children and wish to see them eternally happy and blessed. They also have enormous rights upon their offspring. Adult children need their parents to find a good match for themselves.

However, as some scholars have pointed out, one of the major causes of divorce in most contemporary marriages is the unwarranted interference of parents and other elder in-laws in the life of the married couple, who customarily demand rights from them that are not islamically their due.

Parents, for example, do not possess the Islamic right to dictate every trivial matter to their married, adult son or daughter. Most parents forget that after their offspring’s marriage, they should refrain from asking interfering questions or forcefully giving advice unless it is sought.

For the new wife, she should remember the potent wisdom behind Allah’s laws that protects that sanctity of her marriage – viz. her husband being her “ameer”, and her parents and siblings consequently having fewer rights on her – for a good reason. If every woman were to continue leaning on her biological family after marriage, it would not be long before her marriage would suffer.

As an example, we know that the person who has greatest rights over a Muslim is the mother. However, despite the greatness of a mother’s rights, she should not be obeyed if she is causing damage to her daughter’s or son’s marriage.

The fatwa team under Sheikh Salih Al-Munajjid warns: “The mother whose daughter has got married should realize that it is not permissible for her daughter to give precedence to obeying her mother over obeying her husband. And she (the mother) should understand that it is not permissible for her to interfere in her daughter’s life after marriage, unless she is asked to intervene, in order to bring about a reconciliation, or to offer advice and guidance.” [IslamQA, 96665]

(Please also peruse this link for more information about how a married son whose mother and wife do not get along at all, should live.)

For the new husband, he should realize that his relatives do not have exclusive, authoritative rights on his wife; in fact, she is entitled to her separate accommodation in Islam for a reason – her personal privacy. If his parents or other relatives become overbearingly dominating or dictatorial towards her, to the extent of restricting her independence, or oppressing her emotionally, he should protect his wife’s Islamic rights, and her peace of mind, by granting her, her due.

Shaikh Salih Al-Munajjid states:

He (the husband) does not have the right to force his wife to work for them (in-laws) in the house or to eat and drink with them. If he is able to provide her with accommodation that is completely separate from his family, that will be better for her, but if his parents are elderly and need him, and they have no one else to serve them and the only way he can serve them is by living with them, then he has to do that.” [IslamQA, 7653]

The right to privacy in personal matters:

They (your wives) are your garments, and you are their garments..” [2:187]

The Quran calls the husband and wife “libaas” (garments) of each other. The first and foremost purpose a garment serves is to protect the body from harm, and to cover its shameful parts.

A happily married Muslim, whose spouse is pious and Allah-conscious should, therefore, be vehement in protecting them behind their back, from humiliation, ridicule, or derision – even if it comes from apparently well-wishing biological relatives.

He or she should also never reveal to others their spouse’s faults that Allah has kept hidden, or their secrets and personal matters, to anyone else, even parents or best friends. The Quran especially demands this from the righteous wife:

The righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband’s) absence what Allah would have them guard.” [4:34]

Last, but not least, the married couple should turn to each other first whenever they need emotional or moral support during a crisis. Just as a favorite garment becomes softer and more comfortable over time, a spouse becomes the single, solid, supporting rock to which one clings during life’s intermittent upheavals and ‘storms’.

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The above article written by me was submitted for publishing. However, the editor was of the opinion that it was “addressing a very specific aspect of married life, i.e. the problems that arise due to a husband and/or wife leaning too much on anyone besides each other, in a general way”.

Here is the feedback of an experienced, older sister whose counsel was sought in this case, and which clinched the editor’s decision not to publish this article:

I have lived happily in a joint family and I’m not saying this for effect, I think I was especially blessed to have parents-in-law who treated me like real parents and brothers-in-law who were like the brothers I never had. But there were factors for our happiness, that may not be there for everyone:

– I was an only child, so there was no interference from my family.

– They have no daughters and since I was the first daughter-in-law in the house, they all went quite crazy.

– I am an extremely non-confrontational and submissive-to-the-extreme person  by nature (not boasting..it’s not always a good thing)..so I did not go into marriage thinking of rights and duties and doing the math all the time, rather, I had seen my parents go through an unhappy marriage so my only concern was to build a happy home for my new family.

– At that time I was not very practicing (in terms of covering the face in front of brothers in law/wearing an abaya indoors etc.)

I am still convinced that the joint family is more in consonance with the spirit of Islam (even though women have the right to have their personal space), because it’s very important for parents to be around their children — the ones they raised and spent so much time and effort over, they have the right not to be treated as guests or acquaintances that they meet only occasionally.

However, to make it work you need both parties who are willing to give, and give up (to a certain extent) their worldly rights in lieu of rewards in the Hereafter.

This means the parents in law have to bite their lip and generally restrain themselves; and the kids have to defer many things and not say “uff”.

How many people do you know in the world would do that willingly and happily and for the rest of their lives?

The joint family nowadays is unworkable because we don’t have the people willing to work it.

Conclusion: the sister’s  article is correct because she is quoting fatwa’s that were given in response to certain questions, but not balanced because she presents only one point of view and makes it appear as if the joint family is un-Islamic per se, based on her own observations of people or experience.

This is not the case. There are many many families in people who live in joint families (it’s not just an Indian thing!) not because they can’t afford a place of their own, but because they love their parents and brothers too much and want to live with them. They have separate apartments, kitchens. but a joint s’alah (parlor) — the wives stay hijabed in front of the husband’s brothers, the parents are well taken care of and not just visited occasionally and it’s beautiful to watch them — may Allah reward them. And believe me this is not one case but many that I personally know.

*Sigh*….the joint family system – again. What I find confounding, almost to the point of being amusing, is the vehemence and pro-activeness with which this system is supposedly “defended” from being undermined in any way; even for the sake of preserving the limits enjoined by Allah; limits that, when transgressed, result in forbidden actions; actions that are considered “haram” in Islam.

First of all, let me say that this is not a rant based on vexation arising from having my article rejected. I have had my articles rejected or returned for amendments many times. Alhamdulillah, I take these incidents as humbling opportunities for self-critique and analysis of my weaknesses in interpretation and expression of matters related to Islamic commands and jurisprudence.

What really disappointed me was how the article had supposedly nothing “un-Islamic” about it, yet it was considered to be presenting an unbalanced view of a cultural norm that has been accepted as part of our social fabric, yet because of which many people – including Muslims who have rights in Islam regarding marriage – suffer continually over even spans of decades.

To make one thing clear – my views on this issue are not based on my own personal marital experience, but on the experience of counseling numerous sisters, who have repeatedly turned to me for advice on a myriad of marriage-related issues. I have come to realize the absolute reality that exists “behind the scenes” of most marriages today, and I would like to share them here with you:

Double standards

Most families have absolutely no problems with having their twenty-something, single, adult offspring move to another country to pursue higher education or better job opportunities that will enhance their careers.

Imagine the elders of two families meeting, with one inquiring about the latter’s children, and being told that the son in question has moved abroad to take up a lucrative job offer, pursue a foreign degree, or get citizenship of a developed country.

What is the most common reaction that is expected to such a piece of news?

Happiness, joy, and exchange of well-wishing congratulations. No where will anyone hear an invisible ‘alarm bell’ go off, which will coax someone to start talking about the parents’ status in Islam, or their right to be cared for in their so-called old age by the young, single son.

Instead, the half-jealous recipients of this news will imagine the fat envelopes of foreign currency that the parents will henceforth begin to receive from their money-minting son abroad.

The fact is, that most 50-something elders nowadays are masha’Allah quite physically active, healthy and themselves the biggest protagonists of the acquisition of higher education and better career prospects  in other countries, for their offspring.

However, just twist this scenario a bit: throw in a young daughter-in-law with a baby, and plaster a beard and 5 daily trips to the mosque on to the bread-and-butter-earning young son; now make him talk about his wife’s Islamic rights of private accommodation,  instead of his desire for a foreign citizenship that will make higher education in oversees universities less than half as expensive for his children in the future, — and watch what happens.

Immediately, aunts, uncles, and the parents themselves will start talking about their right to be served and cared for in Islam. Society will tell the young man how his mother has more rights on him than his wife, how Islam has forbidden disobedience of parents and classified it as a major sin, and how, if his parents order him to, he should even divorce his wife, but never even think of disobeying them (citing the examples of how Ibrahim [عليه السلام] and Umar Bin Al-Khattab [رضى اللهُ عنه] ordered their sons to divorce their wives, and they complied).

Our society seems to have a unique allergy to giving a young wife her Islamic right of private accommodation. Please note that I am saying “private accommodation”; not a separate house!

What people do not understand is that a man can give the due rights of both his parents and his wife by living close to the former, but not relinquishing the personal privacy of the latter. He can spend on both parties without oppressing either. This requires a delicate balance – based on knowledge of Islam, wisdom and tact in handling everyday familial interactions, and most of all, the courage to stand up to anyone who tries to make him give preference to culture over religion.

Another inherent flaw in the argument that the joint family system ensures the care and service of elderly parents, is that it assumes that all elderly people have sons. If living with married sons and their wives was the only means of being taken care of, for the elderly in a society, how would those people be cared for, who do not get married, are divorced at a young age and do not re-marry, or those who have only daughters?

If an adult, married man’s living in the same house with his parents is the only way to take care of them in old age, then what will childless couples do when they get old? What about those who have only daughters?

Are daughters absolved from taking care of their elderly parents, just because they live separately, in their husbands’ homes? The answer is “No”. Sons and daughters are both, equally obliged to care for, and serve their parents. However, a married daughter’s husband has more rights on her than her parents.

At the end of the day, though, we just need to open our minds and take a look around to see that, when someone needs care, – be they young or old – the extended family system in Muslim societies, more often than not, eagerly chips in to do the needful. Alhamdulillah for that!

I personally know of two elderly people who lived very amicably in their sons’-in-law/daughters’ homes, because they did not have sons. I know of middle-aged, married women with grown-up children, who spend the better part of their day away from their own homes, taking care of a sick parent.

So, we really need to take it easy with the hypothetical, Utopian, self-indulgent theories based on our naive idealism, and acknowledge that there are many, many flexible options for the care of elderly in our society.

Let us first accept the fact that, usually, when a young man gets married, his parents are hardly in need of “care”; rather, they are strong, active and healthy – masha’Allah.

Allowing him to dwell independently with his new family in the initial, formative years of his marital union, allowing the pair to gel and become close, should not cause any detriment to their rights upon him.

Rather, a happy daughter-in-law will probably turn around and return the favor later on in life, by taking care of the people who gave her such a good husband, and paved the way for her marital bliss and the highly-rewarding journey of motherhood!

The real problem actually lies with the inherent insecurity and lack of trust in the newly-arrived daughter-in-law that a son’s parents might feel. Most older women do tend to believe that, if given too much leeway too soon, she will snatch their young “pot of gold” and disappear with him into the horizon, never to be seen again. That’s the crux of the whole ‘we-have-more-rights-on-you-than-her’ argument.

The best solution, then, is to have mutually exclusive but close-by living quarters; frequency of visits can be moderated according to what suits both parties and keeps both satiated, whilst mutually coexisting without clashes.

Can’t let go

It is a fact that parents beyond fifty have spent the better part of 2 to 3 decades bringing their children into this world, caring for them and providing for them. They have done little else in the past several years. Consequently, the prospect of living in a comparatively more empty house, with no one there for them to take care of and serve anymore, fills them with dread. They want to continue feeling needed by, and still in control of, their children’s lives. The hard part for them is not the fear that their adult offspring will not take care of them in their old age, but that they will no longer be telling their adult children what to do and how to do it, as they have for decades before. It is letting go, which they find difficult to do.

What happens is that when adult offspring get married and have younglings of their own – a conflict arises. Now, they too, have become parents. They too, have rights on their children.

However, grandparents assume, or perhaps want, that their children should bring up their grandchildren the way they themselves were brought up. Be it something as trivial as the way the daughter or daughter-in-law holds her baby, to how she intends to educate her 4-year-old, clashes can ensue that can severely detriment the cordiality of  everyone’s mutual relationship.

If grandparents can not “let go”, wanting instead, to execute the same control in their adult children’s married lives as they did in the past, it will not be long when oppression will take its toll on the family. “Oppression” means “dhulm” – when someone’s rights are usurped or not given to their due requirement.

The young, 27-year-old parent deserves to be obeyed by his or her child just as much as a 55-year-old parent deserves to be obeyed by his adult offspring. When a young parent tells  his or her 6-year-old child to get up and not watch any more television, and a 55-year-old grandparent interjects, telling them to slacken up on their child and not be so strict, who among the two deserves more, to be obeyed by the child? The older grandparent or the (younger) parent?

Isn’t that a tough question?

However, the answer is straight-forward: the younger parent deserves obedience, especially the mother. Remember the hadith that says, “your mother, your mother, your mother?” Well, the 28-year-old daughter-in-law is her child’s mother, too. She deserves obedience by her children over and above anyone else in the household world. Even above the older grandparents, or their son, to whom she is married!

When a grandparent, therefore, steps in between a child and his mother, defending him or her and using their authority over the latter to undermine her efforts at discipline or commands of upright behavior (which are always intended for the child’s own good, as the cliché goes), what they are doing, in essence, is facilitating the child’s disobedience of his parent. It is a highly ironic situation, isn’t it? – one that is in clear violation of the Islamic rules regarding the rights of a mother (and father) over their own child.

Situations such as this arise on a daily basis in families that force (by non-verbal coercion) others to dwell in close proximity with them, from whom they have the Islamic right to observe complete privacy; where the Islamic rights of everyone are not duly given. Preference for traditions, culture, and over-prioritization of the rights of a few is supported by an underlying  foundation of insecurity and desire for continued control on others’ lives and activities.

Grown up babies

Nowadays, the younger generation has the tendency to not be able to “sever the apron strings”, so to speak. Some young women cannot stop calling up their parents each and every day of their married lives (even after 10 years of marriage), with every little problem and worry being communicated to their biological family over the phone, tearfully seeking advice and support.

The cell phone has exacerbated this problem; in olden days, one common landline was present in the household, on which parents could call their daughter in her husband’s home, or from which she could call them. She could not talk much for fear of being overheard complaining about anything in her life.

Ironically, that made her stronger; she learnt to handle her problems on her own (unless they were too serious in nature), and eventually became emotionally independent from her parents, bonding with her husband and his family.

Now, she can text them and receive calls in real-time, letting them know hour-by-hour, where she is and what she is doing. If the parents disapprove of something in her marital life or in her in-laws’ treatment of her, they clearly make it known to her, sometimes casting seeds of malice in their daughter’s heart. Sadly, these seeds mushroom into plants with the passage of time.

Even after they have babies,  some modern young women refuse to relinquish their careers or slow down their social lives; conveniently, maids and grandparents are brought into the picture. Grandparents sometimes lack the energy to look after infants and toddlers for the whole day – even with a maid present.

Despite being overburdened with this unasked-for duty of babysitting, they never complain to their adult offspring about why they are expected to provide this free service until the child starts school. Even beyond that stage, some grandparents are required to even pick and drop their grandchildren from school, if the parents are too busy with their careers.

Whilst I agree that many grandparents do all this eagerly, the question remains, that should we be burdening them like this at their age? One sad aspect of the modern-day joint family system is that adult, married offspring refuse or procrastinate to take on their parenting duties whole-heartedly once they have babies.

Instead, they continue to lean on their parents to provide them with extended support whilst their children are young. Even more sadly, they lean on their parents financially too, unabashedly taking money from Abba Jaan (Dad)whenever a shortage occurs, or a debt or expense has to be met.

The fact of the matter is, that the modern joint family system actually works against our elders’ interests in many ways.

We presume, or like to proclaim, that the sole benefactors of the joint family system are the elders of a family. I would like to point out that, in my opinion, nowadays, the middle generation benefits the most from this system. This is because their elderly parents provide them with free lodging, food and babysitting services, whilst they earn good money in high-flying jobs and pursue their busy socialite lives without a care in the world.

Are they really caring for their elderly parents by living with them? Or are they using them to raise their children – the third generation of the family?

Nuclear families are not the answer

As someone who has lived in the nuclear family set-up for over two years now, I can tell you first-hand that it is far from the ideal, coveted scenario. I also personally know friends who have had to relocate to either remote, suburban towns, or bustling, metropolitan cities; either they moved into tiny one-bedroom apartments, or spacious double-storied houses with swimming pools, to live alone with their husbands. Believe me, living as a stand-alone family unit without the close proximity of an extended family network is not any woman’s dream-come-true, by a far cry!

I have been told by a friend of mine how, when she lived abroad, she’d quietly go out to buy essential groceries which she was out of, whilst her toddler napped in the crib, all the while praying that her daughter wouldn’t wake up in her absence.

Another relative revealed how she’d often leave her baby crying in the cot because she had to tend to another important matter or household chore, and just had no choice but to do that, as no one else was around to pacify the infant whilst she attended to something.

Many young mothers who live alone cannot cook, go to the bathroom or take a bath until their baby/toddler naps, or their husband arrives home from work – whichever comes first.

If anything in the house is out of order, and the husband cannot fix it on the weekend, the couple has to do without that broken or out-of-order appliance until he finds the time to fix it himself or get it fixed by someone.

Once, when a friend of mine who lives in Canada was told that I do not have television in my house, she asked me, “How are you raising your children then? I cannot do anything unless my children are watching a favorite cartoon DVD or program in front of the TV, completely riveted!”

What’s more, the parents of young couples who live in other cities or countries sorely miss their children. Although constant contact is maintained through the Internet (chatting, Skype and social media), or phone calls, the fact remains that both sides pine to be together, especially after a a baby arrives.

Every penny that is saved goes first towards financing the next trip back home. As a result, you will find most nuclear families, particularly those residing in the West, opt for large age gaps between their children. Most decide not to have another child after the first parenting experience leaves its harrowing marks on their psyche, and sadly, even on their bank balance. Although I by no means endorse this course of action, I can say that it happens a lot. And the foremost reason for this is the choice to live as a nuclear family, without the support of an extended family system, in a different country, for the sake of pursuing a career or obtaining foreign citizenship.

When the years pass like this, and the third generation visits its grandparents only once a year, or once in two years, for a few weeks, an insurmountable generation gap appears permanently. The grandchildren have no emotional closeness with their grandparents, whom they identify more as voices over the phone than as flesh-and-blood people. A cultural strangeness also becomes a permanent fixture in such a relationship, especially if the relatives back home do not speak the children’s language fluently. When these children become teenagers, with active academic and social lives, they opt to forgo these “family visits back home” altogether, since they cannot relate to the foreign culture of their parents’ homeland. The only connection they have with it is through their lineage.

As opposed to this scenario, grandchildren who grow up with a healthy, but moderated, and regular interaction with their grandparents, aunts and uncles throughout their childhood, turn out to be less self-centered and more sociable. They enjoy close bonds with a variety of relatives, making their childhood rich with pleasant experiences and a diverse spectrum of interactions. They also do not experience the emotional detachment felt by grandchildren growing up in another country or foreign culture.

Last but not the least…

The word نكح in Arabic, literally means: to overcome, intermingle with, infect, or become a part of  (taken from Edward William Lane’s online lexicon). If, from Day One, a married couple cannot enjoy the privacy and freedom to develop their mutual closeness, instead, being under constant pressure to meet, greet and cater to the demands requests of  close relatives on both sides, they will not be able to physically and emotionally connect whenever they want to.

What happens in most marriages where the couple has to live with others in close proximity (i.e. with their bedroom door opening onto a common area accessible by everyone), is that they are required to be at some place else in the house, instead of their bedroom, all the time, unless there is a valid excuse which they can give as soon as it is demanded. In the mornings on days off, they cannot take their good time in emerging from their bedroom, or choose to stay in until noon, even if they want to, because others in the house will wonder what they’re up to, or why they haven’t had breakfast yet.

After the husband comes home on weeknights, even if he immediately desires intimacy with his wife, he cannot be alone with her until everyone has retired to their rooms for the night.  If there is something bothering his wife, she cannot talk to him about it openly unless they are lucky to be free from any other pressing, extended-family engagements, or have a rare, undisturbed moment with each other.

If an aunt or uncle is to visit in the evening for tea, the couple is expected to be at home (at least in the beginning of the marriage, when they have not earned their freedom or independence yet), even if what they really want to do is go out for dinner, coffee or dessert alone or with just their kids. Besides, the wife will be needed in the kitchen to help her mother-in-law prepare the items for tea, even if her husband – who has more rights on her – secretly wants her exclusive company for the evening!

Heck, the husband and wife cannot even argue or have an all-out fight (which, according to most marriage counselors, is actually good, if it occurs infrequently and for valid reasons, as it facilitates open communication) without being afraid of others in the house overhearing them! Their entire relationship and mutual closeness is dependent on how often they are excused by others in the household from being at another place, with someone else, to meet someone else’s needs instead of their spouse’s. Can you honestly say that  a marital bond that starts off and continues on such a leg, can flourish and develop as it should?

Once the babies arrive, a married couple that has just one room in the house for themselves cannot be intimate except with their children asleep in the same room, with this awkward arrangement continuing, in some cases, even until the oldest child is 5 or 6! This is not just highly inconvenient, but also grossly against the Islamic requirements for a married couple’s privacy, and the correct etiquette of being intimate in a Muslim marriage! We can ponder on the verses of Surah Al-Noor below as proof of the inappropriateness of this living-in-one-room-as-a-family trend:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لِيَسْتَأْذِنكُمُ الَّذِينَ مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ وَالَّذِينَ لَمْ يَبْلُغُوا الْحُلُمَ مِنكُمْ ثَلَاثَ مَرَّاتٍ مِن قَبْلِ صَلَاةِ الْفَجْرِ وَحِينَ تَضَعُونَ ثِيَابَكُم مِّنَ الظَّهِيرَةِ وَمِن بَعْدِ صَلَاةِ الْعِشَاء ثَلَاثُ عَوْرَاتٍ لَّكُمْ لَيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَلَا عَلَيْهِمْ جُنَاحٌ بَعْدَهُنَّ طَوَّافُونَ عَلَيْكُم بَعْضُكُمْ عَلَى بَعْضٍ كَذَلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمُ الْآيَاتِ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ

وَإِذَا بَلَغَ الْأَطْفَالُ مِنكُمُ الْحُلُمَ فَلْيَسْتَأْذِنُوا كَمَا اسْتَأْذَنَ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ كَذَلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ آيَاتِهِ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ

O you who believe! Let your slaves and slave-girls, and those among you who have not come to the age of puberty ask your permission (before they come to your presence) on three occasions: before Fajr Salah (morning prayer), and while you put off your clothes for the noonday (rest), and after the ‘Isha’ Salah (night prayer). (These) three times are of privacy for you; other than these times there is no sin on you or on them to move about, attending to each other. Thus Allah makes clear the signs (the Verses of this Qur’an, showing proofs for the legal aspects of permission for visits) to you. And Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.

And when the children among you come to puberty, then let them (also) ask for permission, as those senior to them (in age). Thus Allah makes clear His signs (Commandments and legal obligations) for you. And Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.”
[Surah Al-Noor 24:58-59]

Ibn Kathir said: Here servants and children are commanded not to intrude upon the adults of the household at these times, lest the man be in a position of intimacy with his wife and so on.

[Reference: “Ruling on kissing one’s wife in front of the children”, IslamQA – Question 31773]

It is, therefore, obvious from the above etiquette of family living, as detailed for us by the Quran, that a married couple’s having intimate relations in a room where young children, who are beyond the infancy stage, are asleep, is clearly against the Islamic requirements of ‘haya’ – praiseworthy and desirable modesty. This applies even at night, when the cloak of darkness shrouds everything, because the Quran clearly orders even young children under the age of adolescence, to seek permission before entering upon their parents after the `isha prayer.

The ideal scenario

Its anybody’s guess, then, what the ideal living scenario is for a family, after adult children get married and have spouses and young ones of their own.

The best way to maintain emotionally close bonds, yet not compromise on everyone’s personal privacy and freedom of choice, is to live in separate accommodations that are physically close together, viz. at a walking distance or a short driving distance from each other.

The separate quarters can also be in the same gated compound, or occupy different floors of the same residence. Whatever the case, as long as the limits of Allah are being observed, the rights of all individuals are being duly given, and nothing that is forbidden in Islam is taking place, the extended family can dwell in mutual peace, tranquility and harmony, insha’Allah.

اللهُ اَعْلَمُ بالصَوب

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82 thoughts on “Marriage in Islam: Family Living Options and the Wisdom Behind Divine Injunctions

  1. Assalam Alaykum,Interesting. I never really thought about it. I did not realize that it was unIslamic to begin with. I never really liked the idea of living with an extended family. That means, I have an excuse now=) jk

  2. Wa Alaikumus Salam Sidra,
    Thanks for your comment!Usually married couples need to live with the husband’s parents for the first few years. Whatever the view about this system in Islam, what happens in real life is that if a new bride starts to demand her right of separate accommodation, it backfires really bad and she loses her popularity in her in-laws – whether they are practicing or non-practicing. It is wiser to let things take a natural route and wait a few years, or until the baby arrives. After that, need for more space becomes understandable, and actually a necessity that everyone acknowledges. Just as it doesn’t look very nice when a parent demands their right of obedience from their child, it looks even worse if a girl demands her right from people she has just entered into a relationship with; people who do not even know her that well. Also, we should remember that we can hope to get our Islamic rights in life (not by demanding them from others, but as a reward and mercy from Allah) if we actually intend, and strive hard, to act upon Islam at the level of superlation in all other aspects of our lives as well.

  3. the point that u raised about what do parents do when they have all daughters, seriously when once or twice my father-in-law was really unwell and had both his sons to help him out (break the fall etc) I was soo envious as I know that if God forbid such … a situation arise with my parents they will have to bear it alone. like my mom, on the day of her fracture, had to wait 20 min in an awkward position before dad could come from namaz to her rescue as she couldnt move and had no one else in the house. and what constantly concerns me is whats going to happen with one of them will not be there anymore to take care of the other. and similarly am sure there are cases when parents are happy with fat pay cheques that their sons send them from foreign countries. but from what I have seen, as far as parents are concerned the last thing they want from their kids is money, in fact like you said they end up giving it to kids through out their lives. Mostly when they are concerned that the son is not earning enough its for his own sake, that he will not be able to do well in life, for his own self, rather than the fact that they will not be getting much out of him. Of course there are all kinds of ppl and attitude. this article just had me wondering if i ll be able to let go of my kid when he s married 😀 i hope i do, thought cant say that it ll be a happy moment, but khair inshaAllah lets c

  4. Hats off… a great piece of writing. But unfortunately our society is too emotional and irrational to hear, think, ponder and decide on matters rationally… nevertheless things have to start somewhere…

  5. iv been living with in laws since i got married(3years),before we got married i got along well with my mother inlaw but over time things changed,privacy became non existent.family and freinds are constantly invited over, grandchildren are having sleep overs every other weekend and holidays,my relationship with my husband has diminished,it has reached a point where i feel no love for him any longer because we can not spend alone time together.when we speak to his parents about the matter we are told we have no say, “it is not our house”. we cannot afford to live on our own and cannot live my parents as i am indian(my husband is malay) and it is not allowed according to indian tradition,i feel misrable and depressed whenever we have to go home.i am begining to think the only way out is divorce.

    1. Your comment made me sad – I would just like to encourage you to be patient and not give up on your marriage just because of your current circumstances. Things change with time. They always, always do.

      Please make consistent, relentless du’a to Allah. Insha’Allah, He will answer your earnest prayers and grant you a way out through ways and means that you cannot even fathom right now. He provides from unknown means and sources:

      وَيَرْزُقْهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لَا يَحْتَسِبُ وَمَن يَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ فَهُوَ حَسْبُهُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بَالِغُ أَمْرِهِ قَدْ جَعَلَ اللَّهُ لِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدْرًا

      “And He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine. And if any one puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is (Allah) for him. For Allah will surely accomplish his purpose: verily, for all things has Allah appointed a due proportion.” [Al-Qur’an – 65:3]

  6. my husbands elder brother who lives in the same city comes to our house every weekend on wednesday evening and stays until saturday morning.he is a difficult person to get along with anyone including his very own family.he decides what we should eat etc.myself and my 3 daughters are confined to the bedroom and hubby and he sits out in the lounge.we are not able to do anything which we usually do on weekends like visiting friends or shopping etc as he is very embarrassing to be with.
    (talking loudly,belittyling others, interfering while others speak, arguing etc which he is usually doing even otherwise all the time that is his nature.)i want to avoid him .i dont want him staying in my house on weekends even if my husband is at home as we find ourselves sacrificing our personal life because of him.its okay if he just visits and goes.he will be working here for one year or for life.that means endless suffering for us .till he keeps staying on weekends.

  7. This is a very good article, there is an aspect to these issues that has not been covered here. This is regarding the enmeshed relationship between the mother and son, even when the latter is married. Desi parents have this sick tendency to maintain control and dominance over their sons and their marriages.

    I really only know what happened in my life, over a period of 4-5 years I was slowly manipulated, coerced, blackmailed into a marriage. It’s not that I did not want a marriage, I just hated the control and hold my parents had over me. They felt it was their right to dominate my life and control it as they see fit. Anything outside of their ‘approved’ methods were villified, bullied and put down. There was no direct control, nobody pointed a gun to my head and told me what to do, it was manipulation of the overt kind.

    My mother (I am muslim pakistani male) was one of the most toxic, manipulating and blackmailing women I have ever known in my life, this eventually led to complete estrangement from my entire family, I know this is wrong according to islam but after that has happened I decided I cannot live the rest of my life like that. Life is never black and white, there is a price to be paid, the only thing to realize is what is that price and can you life with it. Yes we have to answer Allah and I am sure he will be fair and not send me to Hell for making my own choices.

    My mother used emotional blackmail in the most overt ways. A common method was to tell me of something that my father or elder brother had done to her. Using crocodile tears she complained about them to gain sympathy from me, if I resisted she persisted in these emotionally charged wailing all the while noticing how I am responding to it, she wanted to see a reaction from me, this convinced her that she has succeeded in manipulating me (after years of being treated like this I ‘acted’ so she stops). Once she realized that she has succeeded in gaining sympathy & making me feel bad for her she came out with her agenda (regarding me) and walked all over me. If I disagreed with her I was made to look the bad person. The guilt that I felt was unbearable at times, it used to ‘freeze’ me where I was compelled to obey her demands. This was the most common tool to finally get me into an arranged marriage of her choice (I had said no to the marriage atleast 3 times, my parents confirmed the marriage while I was asleep and then coerced, manipulated and blackmailed me to marriage, on the day of marriage I felt compelled to say yes). You know what the worst thing was? My mother knew she was blackmailing me and pressurizing me, she used in anyway because this is what she wanted in her own life.

    She used other family members to act against me. She used to manipulate my brothers to ‘engage’ me, to keep my mind busy so I don’t get time to process what she is doing to me. My younger used to pump me for information and tell her, she used this information against me at convenient times, my brother openly used to mock and berate me on the phone to my parents behind my back. My elder brother was the ‘engager’, assigning tasks to me & giving me false adulation to make me give into my mother’s designs for me.

    My mother used my father’s illness to induce guilt. Everytime i rebelled to her she used to mention my father’s ill-health and make me feel guilty, after the guilt trips ofcourse her demands came forward. My father was a angry man through out my life, he used to smother me with small talks and fully cooperate with my mother to support her insidous, toxic thinking. You see nothing was ever done to me directly, direct control is too easy to figure out, manipulation is much more toxic as you are always guilty and confused although you are not at fault. My mother used bullying, smothering, admonishing and praise at different times to gain control over my existence, she used to pray 3 times a day, I wonder to whom, people who believe in Allah don’t act this way.

    It takes a lot of inner strength to go against this because the alternative is being cut off from family, that’s what it takes to reclain your life from this toxic environment. My mother had a ‘disease’, she was a control freak and wanted everyone around her subjected to her designs, she did this very cleverly using people to gain advantage, when the time was right I was her best friend (to manipulate my elder brother, at other times she used to conive with my elder brother to manipulate me).

    The day of my escape was the most liberating day of my life, I planned it like a millitary expedition, drew maps, plotted three different routes for exit, I did whatever it took to get out of that situation, I made my peace with the fact that I won’t have a family but I would be able to see myself int the mirror. I let go of the anger towards me parents and moved on.

    My point is, please don’t give up on life, there is always a way.

    1. Nowadays, my comment replies are somewhat delayed.

      Had I been single I would have probably been appalled by your comment. However, because I am married and know many people who are also married, I cannot help but agree with some points in your comment.

      You have brought up an aspect of adult life that is actually quite prevalent: when parents are manipulative and controlling of their adult offspring to the extent that their relationship starts to get affected adversely.

      In our culture and religion (Islam), however, the hugeness of the parents’ rights over their children, especially in their old age, provides even more free rein to such controlling people to create “mischief” (فساد) in their offspring’s lives, especially after marriage, more so if they do not like their adult son’s or daughter’s spouse. In some extreme cases, they demand that their son divorce his wife, even if she is righteous and obedient, and even if the couple has children and their mutual love and compatibility is strong.

      In my opinion, there are a few reasons why controlling elderly parents control and manipulate their offspring:

      (i) Their own elders are either too weak and dependent, or dead. Hence, they have no one older than them around, who can correct them or scold them for their mistakes. They have no one to serve or take care of, and perhaps no job to do to support a family, thus they have a lot of free time and “idleness” that allows them to think constantly about their children and grandchildren. This, over time, might make them believe that whatever they are thinking or doing is right, especially if they do not fear of Allah in their dealings with people and habitually indulge in some wrong actions e.g. backbiting, gossip, slander and other vices. These vices gradually eat away at relationships just as rust eats away at metal.

      (ii) They are economically more powerful over their children. This applies especially to wives/mothers, who by their fifties or sixties, enjoy considerable control and domination in their homes and over their husbands. The parents usually own the house in which the married son might have to reside. They probably support him when he needs financial help. They play a vital role in looking for a wife/husband for their sons and daughters, and this gives them even more authority, and hence the chance to exert or impose their own opinion and preferences even more dominantly in this matter.

      (iii) As I said before, the fact that Islam commands complete and total obedience of elderly parents in all matters that are permitted by Allah, this point again goes in their favor, but it might enable a parent who does not fear Allah to wreak complete havoc, especially in their married offspring’s lives e.g. a married son’s mother might insist on keeping his entire salary with herself as soon as he brings it home, and command him and his wife to take any money from it only by asking her first. She might question them intricately about each and every expenditure or outing, not giving them any privacy or independence, and so on. And when her control is challenged, even politely and nicely by her son or anyone else, she might fly into a rage and start crying indignant tears, accusing him of being a disobedient and rebellious son.

      (iv) The third and perhaps most common reason for a parent’s control of their offspring is growing inherent insecurity. When a person enters the latter years of their life, they know that their children do not need them very much anymore. Adult sons and daughters leave home and become busy with their own families and working lives. Perhaps because of this, they might start calling/contacting their parents less, or visiting less. This increases the parents’ insecurity that they might be left alone with no one to take care of or keep them company. This is not always the case though; alhamdulillah there are many elderly people out there who have very secure minds and busy lives….but regarding elderly mothers, it is usually the case that they become very insecure as they age, especially if they sacrificed all their own interests in their youth to dedicate themselves to rearing and raising their children, and now find the idleness and free time stifling.

      Now that I have made an attempt to explain to you why parents control their adult offspring, perhaps we can discuss the solution to this?

      Struggling to think of the situation from their point of view and politely requesting them not to exert control in matters that you find invasive e.g. when they ask pointed questions about your expenditure (“How much did that sofa cost?” and you know that answering that question will result in a lecture about why you spent that much money and why you did not buy a sofa from such-and-such shop that is cheaper, ending with an ultimatum not to buy any furniture in the future without consulting them/her first!).

      As you have described, anyone (be it a parent, friend, spouse or boss) who is controlling by nature, gets angry when their control is challenged in any way by the person they are trying to control. So one way to “back off” easily, without ruffling feathers, is to talk to your mother lovingly BUT refuse to open your mouth to give her the information she demands.

      All I can say is that I hope your relationship with your mother improves and becomes a healthy, loving one. Perhaps you should tell her how you feel by writing her a letter, and then requesting her to respect your privacy and preferences more?

      Allah knows best.

      You might want to take a look at this, this and this.

      1. Thank you for giving a detailed response.

        My relationship with my family is beyond repair. It took me many years and incessant thinking to figure out her deviant ways. A letter won’t help, here is how it will probably go : she will agree with everything I said, draw me in into her toxic web and then gather allies to keep me hooked to her designs. Try to imagine a chameleon : how it changes colour to camouflauge, thats how my mother is, she can ally with a family member to manipulate another and then at a later time ally with the manipulated to do the same to the former. Emotional blackmail, crocodile tears, narcissism reigns supreme, for these kind of people there is no hope and no therapy.

        I was the son who used to massage their aching bodies at night from 10 years of age right upto 29 years of age, I used to obey their every command, every wish, defend them in front of other people, I used to give them advice, watch TV with them. Then why did this happen to me? I stopped wondering about this question a long time ago because i had to face the reality that my parents are not what I thought. I didn’t care above giving them money, all i wanted was to live my own life my way, it’s not that I wanted anything that would go against Islam (I have to enter my grave one day whether I like it or not) .

        The worst thing was that she was able to gather and rally other family members against me in subtle ways, my younger brother who used to berate and curse me behind my back used to talk politely to my face to pump information from me for my mother. My elder brother who used to praise me to keep me hooked to my mother’s designs. My father who became sadistic, toxic and angry with age emotionally blackmailing me. Everything I liked was used to keep me ‘engaged’ and everything I did not like was used as guilt trips.

        It’s not about sofas and money, I could not care less about these things, but why engage in blackmail and manipulation to keep me controlled? I believe she was driven by insecurity, need to maintain dominance and show off infront of her family. Any love that I showed to her was taken advantage of and any anger at the manipulation was used too blame me. I lived in this for so long that this filth was the only thing I knew, everyday felt like death. I could see it in her eyes that she knew what she was doing, I know in my hearts of hearts that she did this to me because she was convinced she could get away with it. Even things like massaging them at night due to their aching bodies was later used to emotionally blackmail me, I still did that because I cared about them. Slowly, pianfully I planned to get out because I did not want my life to be a joke, full of regrets and pain. I can go on and on and write a encycopedia on my experiences but this is not the place. A

        I am not looking for any solutions, I really appreciate the effort you put into your response. I posted here because I really liked some of your articles. You write clearly and without emotion.

  8. Salam, great article, I wish to show it to my parents.

    There is an issue that I would like your insight inshAllah. A brother who I know well got married a year ago. It was an arranged marriage, however the he and the woman ultimately had to approve of it. The families met a few times, but the brother and the woman never spoke. Men and woman were separated in different rooms and there was no interaction between the woman and the brother. After a few meetings the grooms family asked their family for the daughters hand in marriage and it was approved.

    A year later the wedding took place. Between that time and the engagement the only communication between them was through online chatting, but even that was relatively rare. After the wedding and rukhsati or whatever, the bride and groom stayed in a hotel. The marriage was not consummated.

    The newly weds were living at the husbands house in the basement. Relations between the wife and the husbands family seemed well. The husband and the wife would go to the movies, go for dinner, etc. but never alone, they would always be with members of the husbands family (could be brothers, parents, etc.)

    Strangely enough the wife would never agree to go out on dates with the husband. She often complained to him about him, would bring up the topic of divorce often, and so on. She was sometimes cooped up by herself with her own distractions.

    After a small fight between the mother and the wife relations between the wife and the rest of the family seemed strained. There was little to no communication between her and anybody else. The wifes family was notified and this may have been what alienated her from the rest of the family as she felt betrayed that the husbands mother would talk to her family. The fight may have been something as trivial as the mother not approving of the wifes manner of dress, or behavior, etc.

    Relations between the wife and the husband seemed strained as well. They would rarely talk, and this rarity was increasing. They would be stuck in their own world of work and other distractions such as watching tv alone, etc. There was no intimacy at all. The husband would get her presents for her birthday, ask her out to dinner or movies or whatever and every time she would decline and reject these. The husband was naturally fairly shy and quiet, did not seem too outgoing in terms of initiating intimacy, but the wife was also the sarcastic type who was annoyed by shyness, and would often mock the husband.

    The marriage was never ever consummated. Now the situation is the wife is extremely depressed and does not want to live with the husband. The husband is also depressed and feels minimized. At first the husbands family was blaming the wife for not fulfilling her obligations, rejecting his initiatives, being rude to the rest of the family, and so on. But now they, including the wifes family, blame the husband for all of this, saying that it is because he did not take initiative to initiate intimacy. They say that he is to blame for not consummating the marriage on the night of the wedding. During the short period that relations were good between the husband, wife, and family he should have initiated intimacy, ie. consummation.

    The points on which the husband is blamed are the following and I would like your insight inshaAllah:

    1) The husbands family is saying that the husband should have consummated the marriage on the wedding night. They are now halal for each other and so he must do this. Because he did not do this they believe that he has psychological problems. They say that it is the sunnah to do so and because he did not he is blameworthy. The husband has no experience with women, has never developed any sort of bond with this new wife, and he was expected to have sex with her. Is he blameworthy, or is his apprehension justified?

    2) The husbands parents say that the husband is blameworthy because he agreed to the marriage and signed the contract. The parents say that the signing of the contract is an agreement to fulfill the physical, emotional and spiritual obligations of the wife. Because he did not do this he is blameworthy. They also say that his feelings are irrelevant, if he were to just attempt to fulfill these obligations then the marriage would develop love and everyone would be happy.

    3) The parents say that compatibility is irrelevant. If both people just attempt to fulfill their obligations the marriage will be fine. If compatibility was a real issue then people would just go through marriage after marriage until they find the right person.

    Insight would be appreciated. Jazakala Khair, thanks

    1. بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
      وعليكم السلام

      This is a serious issue and I needed time to turn it over in my head before forming an impartial opinion about it. Nevertheless, do bear in mind that whatever I say is based purely on what you have told me viz. there might be other factors that could have affected the sad situation in which this couple have now found themselves.

      One of the meanings of the Arabic word “nikah” is coitus; to “intermingle” with. I do agree that the fact that the husband did not make more of an effort to consummate the marriage in the early days i.e. the first 2 weeks, when a wife is usually very receptive and expectant of his approaching her for physical intimacy, caused the basic problem to start — the awkwardness between the couple that eventually led the wife to start to avoid being alone with her husband. The reason, it seems, that the wife also started putting him down eventually (i.e. by mocking him; being sarcastic), has probably got a lot to do with his not being a “man” enough in her eyes as a result of his lacking the confidence to approach her physically.

      I also think that their living together with the in-laws might have had a bit to do with the husband’s awkwardness in consummating the marriage — although this is not necessarily a prime factor. I know for a fact that close proximity of the parents’ bedroom in a couple of real-life cases actually delayed the consummation of a new marriage; in one case, the father-in-law even asked the young couple during the first week of their marriage, why they went to sleep so late the night before, as he could hear noises from their room very late into the night?!? Subhan Allah!!

      I do agree that in Muslim marriage, if istikharah is done before finalizing it, mutual love and compatibility between a husband and wife develops as a gift from Allah and as a result of sincere and constant effort put into the relationship by both spouses as well as their families. It is not possible to foresee how happy/compatible a couple will actually be after their marriage, no matter how much both families investigate or conduct the prospective spouse’s interview before agreeing to a proposal.

      Finally, I would like to add here that the possibility of sihr (witchcraft) should not be ruled out. The Quran describes it as “that which causes a rift between husband and his wife” [Quran – 2:102]. Please click here for more details. This couple should try to perform daily, regular ruqyah in order to undo the effects of any possible sihr that they could have been a victim of.

      Allah knows best.

  9. Assalamualaikum,

    Firstly, I do understand objectively the arguments for staying away but I also believe that many women today (unfortunately including the writer of this article) don’t have the foundation of respect for a husband’s in-laws. I believe that there is always a respectful way and any Sister who feels it is acceptable (under any circumstances) to be disrespectful, insult or say bad words of her husbands parents is committing a grave sin. I also believe the immediate ‘assumption’ that many women today make including very Islamically literate sisters who unfortunately haven’t given enough respect to the spiritual need to control their tongue and to honour the husband’s parents – is to assume an agenda for everything.

    I lost a lot of respect for the writer of this article at this point:

    “Most older women do tend to believe that, if given too much leeway too soon, she will snatch their young “pot of gold” and disappear with him into the horizon, never to be seen again. That’s the crux of the whole ‘we-have-more-rights-on-you-than-her’ argument.”

    Most???? I mean really that sums up your attitude does it not? My point to all sisters is to remember that one day you will be a mother-in-law and Allaah is watching what you do. If you feel strongly about living separately – and there are Islamic arguments in favour – that does not mitigate your DUTY to show your husbands parents respect as they are your own and likewise he has the same duty. There is always a way to convince your husband but I say from experience, he will only ever listen to you if he believes you honour, respect and love his parents. You can only do that if you don’t seek to look at every fault within them and don’t have such horrible assumptions as the one made above. MOST was the key word here – not SOME – that gave away your attitude and such attitude contributes to marital problems AS MUCH as interference (which I 100% respect is a problem) of in-laws. I just think that this article is very biased and using Qu’ranic Ayah is valid to justify the point of fiqh but not balanced to justify statements such as the one above.

    A husband (who wants only for his mother and wife to live in harmony)

    1. Wa alaikumus salam,

      Jazak Allahu khair for your undoubtedly sincere advice, although I think some of your points (rather, accusations) were not well-deserved. There is a thing called tongue-in-cheek writing, or a hint of sarcasm, which a writer might use sometimes for a spot of humor. Clearly, that is disrespectful and in bad taste, according to your standards.

      I also think you are quite lacking in insight into/knowledge of the inherent human nature of women, which has its share of natural jealousy, whether she is in the role of a wife, or a mother. Yes, I do not take back what I said about “most” older ladies being insecure about their son’s wives taking away their share of their son’s booty. Maybe because I am a real, married Muslim woman living in the real world and not a naive, idealistic Muslim man who places sky-high expectations of model behavior on not just his mother but also his wife – expectations that provide no room for human shortcomings that women are born with – one of which is a need for complete control in their own personal space, to dress, do and arrange things as they please, and the freedom to enjoy privacy with their husband and children; to be able to laugh, flirt, joke and play with their family, without having to put up a facade of proper decorum and tight-lipped politeness as soon as an in-law approaches them and comes within earshot.

      Alhamdulillah, that the history of our Deen is rich with examples of real people who had much more taqwa than us, yet when they couldn’t get along, they did not put up a farce of polite tolerance of each other in their personal spaces (homes) just for the sake of supposedly “living in harmony”. E.g. the wives of our Prophet [صلى الله عليه وسلم] and the two wives of Ibrahim [ عليه السلام], Sarah and Hajrah, who could not get along.

      I am someone who has listened to many, many real cases of real marital problems; problems most Muslim men (I am again using the word “most” here) can neither wholly understand nor even begin to solve, because their attitude relies heavily on idealistic expectations of all their women getting along perfectly in this purely cultural, extended-family setup. I have also listened to the sincere “advice” meted out by most elders to young girls, and believe me, insecurity based on a lack of trust in Allah is one of the primary reasons why oppression takes place after marriages, whether it is caused by the daughter-in-law, or the mother-in-law, or both.

      Otherwise, I think you would know that our Deen and its commands reign supreme, and making a wife dwell “in harmony with a mother-in-law” usually facilitates the entry of her husband’s male relatives (her non-mahrums) upon her inside the home in a state of casual dress in which she is mostly not adequately covered. It also causes numerous other problems, not the least of which is that the older in-laws sometimes assume they have more authority over their daughter-in-law than even their own son (her husband)!

      Your ghairah regarding the “respect” a Muslim woman should harbor for her in-laws – clearly something that goes hugely in your favor – would perhaps best be surpassed by the ghairah which every Muslim husband should feel when the commands of Allah and His Messenger [صلى الله عليه وسلم] are time and again violated in almost every joint family setup that exists nowadays.

      I already have a son and believe you me, I have no intention of living in a joint family system even as a future mother-in-law, because I do not endorse any system or cultural set-up that was neither practiced nor encouraged by our Prophet [صلى الله عليه وسلم] and his companions.

      As for my husband’s views on the matter, I wish you could ask him yourself in person, what he thinks about life in a joint family, especially based on his own experience of living in it with a wife and child.

      I pray that your mother and wife are able to always live in harmony, as you desire. Although experience and impartial observation has time and again proved to me otherwise, even with the most pious and well-intentioned of people.

      Allah knows best.

      1. As salam alaikum.mashAllah very well written and completely in sync with reality.And really there’s no need for Saeed to lose respect for the pot-of-gold comment coz thats absolutely true for most elderly women who are insecure and lacking in trust in Allah.

        It never ceases to amaze me how cultural norms no matter how foolish,how painful,how illogical hold greater sway over people than islamic and logical edicts in the indo pak subcontinent.

      2. Very well replied Sr. Sadaf, though I doubt men can ever understand the inherent nature of women. When it comes to issues like these they always imagine an impossible idealistic world.

  10. Assalamalaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatahu….

    It was a very beautiful article and a very knowledgeble one mashAllah.
    Sister Sadaf, I have been facing a kind of problem since a few days with my father-in-law. I have recently started gathering information on islam, reading quran and watching the programs of islamic propagators and it occurred to me that I should wear a scarf all the time (in front of my father in law as well though he is a mahram) except in my room as I thought it was a good practice to do so and appreciated y our beloved prophet (pbuh) and the satar for a woman is cover from head to toe, but he objects it and says that it is not required to cover your head in the house you should do that only while going out. could you please tell me if I should give up wearing a head scarf while at home ? waiting for your reply eagerly.

    JazakAllah Khair

    1. وعليكم السلام ورحمة الله وبركاته

      Jazakillahu khair. Sorry my reply is not prompt!

      Please click here for the official fatwa. As you said, a father-in-law is a mahrum in Islam, and you are not obliged to cover your head with a headscarf (hijab) before him.

      However, it is true that, especially at first after a marriage, a daughter-in-law might not feel completely comfortable in front of her father-in-law to forsake her hijab in front of him. You can maintain as much as modesty in clothes in his presence as you are comfortable with (whether that includes covering your head or not). Perhaps you can cover your head but not as tightly as you do when in front of non-mahrum men?

      The thing is, he might be under the impression that you do not have a high opinion of his character, or that you do not trust his intentions. This can cause this minor issue to blow up into a greater rift in your relationship with him. So you can make up for that by being extra respectful and somewhat frank/friendly with him, even if your head is covered.

      Allah knows best.

  11. Assalamualaikum Sister,

    I stand by my earlier statements – I respect and even feel there is strong merit in the argument of living separately based on the Islamic evidences. My point is that you are quite selective in the evidences you use – maybe you should look at some of the evidences of controlling ones anger or expression of discontent being one of the greatest acts of reward. I am far from an idealist – I have seen the damage caused by unreasonableness on both sides, I just don’t think enough Sisters start with a foundation of unconditional respect for their husbands parents – there are lines that are drawn that are like a minefield (even when living apart from parents). I am not sure how you reconcile that with Islam when we are forbidden to say “uff” to our parents – does that make it acceptable to say “uff” to the parents of your spouse?

    Regarding the use of sarcasm and tongue-in-cheek etc – I think that if you are writing an article as an advisory for people facing serious problems – you should consider the implications of the stereotypes you draw which are frequent and uncontrolled. I accept that many things said by men on this topic are clearly in their favour and not within the Islamic foundation – I just don’t accept that there ever is a justification to speak rudely or misbehave in front of your husbands parents and I think that as someone who is in the position of an advisor you should place equial emphasis on this point.

    In my view you should be advising women to maintain the relations with their in-laws and convincing their husbands of the Islamic merits of living separately. Please bear in mind the case in point that many men are not simply living with thir parents for cultural reason rather, they are a whole litany of reasons including financial inability to sustain two homes where parents are unable to support themselves, serious illness of parents which require constant care. I just found some statements very ill-considered. With regard to the violation of rules relating to Mahram etc – completely valid but it doesn’t absolve the obligation on the Islamic obligation with regard to respecting one’s parents. Both should be observed and may Allaah give us all guidance to find the path for harmony between our spouses and respective families.

    I won’t write further on this point as I respect you are more knowledgeable than I am on Islam but I would hope you use that knowledge to advise others to take the right course that ensures longstanding harmony – we should be positive and always hope for good relations despite our inherent human weaknesses.

    Jazakillaah Khair

    1. I just don’t accept that there ever is a justification to speak rudely or misbehave in front of your husbands parents and I think that as someone who is in the position of an advisor you should place equial emphasis on this point.

      Agreed. I suppose I missed emphasizing upon this aspect. Insha’Allah if I write another marriage-based post in the future, I will stress this point even more. I agree that abstaining from rudeness, impoliteness and snapping/answering back is crucial in in-law relationships, perhaps a tad more so than in other relationships, due to the very delicate nature of the former. We should fear Allah regarding our elders, and seek to earn His pleasure through respecting our in-laws, no matter what.

      Jazak Allahu khair for your input and suggestions.

    2. Salam alaikom,

      Brother with respect, you assume that sisters per se [so not even most, but rather all?] do not have respect for their in-laws? That completely puts the onus of blame squarely fixed on ‘her’ shoulders whilst ignoring the stresses she must face in leaving her family and adapting to a completely alien environment that resents her having an opinion, needs and unrealistically demands that she simply fit in with the status quo and somehow just pick up family norms that prevail in traditions, cuisine, and normal family routines etc. Could you or any man do that? Often she is expected to completely move away from any association she had in life prior to marriage, that includes aauthu billah, her own mother [who ‘sometimes’ M.I.L assumes she has the right to usurp in obedience, affections and even that it is her right to be treated in the same loving regard and have the same levels of respect and sacrifice as the mother who in fact DID go through pregnancy, childbirth and child rearing and over many years has guided and loved her daughter in the way only a mother can!] Sadly, to boot many husbands unrealistically have this same expectation of their wife too.

      The wife is then supposed to be so happy that she has married that she should not complain if treated as a slave by her in-laws including brother-in-laws who have no rights upon her beyond those of any other non-mehram – which includes not free mixing, not having conversation etc… It is unjust and oppressive to imagine that a wife should enter the home of her in-laws and give up in its entirety her former life [everything and everyone she has ever known?] and be Alhamdulillah to act as servant to people who often not always, treat her as a lifelong servant who conveniently lets other members off the hook in their duties in regard to each other. That she would like to maintain friendships? How dare she!!! That she would like to visit with her own mother? Poor M.I.L … Marriage is about a family growing, not that she loses what she was blessed with by Allah, but rather that both the husband and wife have a rather nervous and exciting journey into each others families. And that is rather the point isn’t it? Life is a journey and Allah does not burden us beyond our capacity. We shouldn’t place a burden upon others that we could not bare.

      May Allah guide us all and correct us. I pray that if Allah blesses me with the role of M.I.L in future, that I remember those early years of marriage and go easy on my D.I.L and allow her to form a bond that is loving and supportive between her and her husband.

      May you understand that always there are two sides to every story, if you see through the eyes or perspective of one, how can you ever hope for a healthy family life?

      Both have rights and journeys to travel, but insha Allah, with effort and patience on both sides, on ALL sides, married life can be good and all the family can actually enjoy it. We really have to understand the role and rights that Allah enjoined and be more focused that we fulfill those rights which belong to Allah. Insha Allah, if we act justly, it may be that Allah ensures we are treated justly in turn. Allahu Alim!

      Fi aman Allah

  12. It was great reading the above article. Every viewpoint was kept in mind.
    However, my scenario is totally different. We live together and yet away from my parents in laws. There are two houses on the same property, one big house, one small. In one house the parents in law live and other house us. Even though we have our privacy there is continuous interference by his parets e.g his mom would call him many times a day and needs to stay informed of what we r doing, what we ate etc. He talks tO his mom atleast 1-2 hours per day either by going next door or calling her when I am doIng some chores around he house or callin her from work. His mother is extremely clever lady and I unfortunAtely don’t know any politics or tricky ways or saying sugar coated things .. I hope u understand what I am trying to say. When people do tricks with me, I often don’t get them until some friend says ” oh my god that was so wicked..” then the true meaning of thing said/ action committed dawns on me…
    Anyways my husband is really attached to his mother and for that I treat her win great respect, not once I have argued with her about anything even though she has outwardly mean and rude and disrespectful of m family when she visited and bad moines my mother to other ladies in town etc. Thing win her is that she is nice on face but behind u she says things that have dreadful things IMPLICATIONs.. She told lies to my husband about my Family .. My husband doesn’t tell me all the details becAuse he is nice and dosnt want to Me to bother about them… By she imLants these seeds in his head.. Soon, I fear, it will be my turn… She will be implanting lies about me in his head or heightening my faults a d bringing them to lint in front of him.
    I don’t what to do to make him see her true face… I am lost and really upset.. I love him ALot and I want to see him always happy.. He is he most important person in my life.. But I don’t think I have the mighty tricky brain handily his mom.

  13. Askm Dear Sister,
    JazkAllah khair for sharing such an important topic.
    May Allah increase your knowledge, accept the efforts and give you success in both worlds.
    Wassalam

    1. Well.i want to ask a question .my parents in law went to muree bhurban etc with my husband and my two married brother in laws,but their wives n kids were nt taken along.also becos of our kids final exams.we were left alone.my sis in law went to stay at her parents for four days.they cud ve gone two weeks later,butthey wanted privacy wth their sons.what does islam say about that?shud i get annoyed and feel resentment towards my inlaws?

      1. I suppose you can try to swallow any pain and resentment you feel, by thinking that your parents-in-law no longer get to spend any exclusive time alone with their sons, the way they did before they all got married and became busy with their wives and kids. If you have children, imagine them all grown up and living with their own families, and not being able to even talk to you without their spouses being present. Would you not miss the old times when you had them (i.e. your children) all to yourself?
        Consider these 2 weeks your “gift” to your husband’s parents. Insha’Allah, you will be rewarded for your patience.
        That being said, however, and since we all are human, I know that if I were in your position, I would also be struggling to remain positive in this situation.

  14. V live in jointfamily,and our husbands spend all day wth parents.v breakfast dine have eve tea with them.v ve one kitchen,controlled by my mother in law.she cooks herself and even puts food in plates for her sons.when v had kids she suggested that her sons needed rest so v sleep with kids and they sleep separately.she even suggested that v should stay at our parents house once a week.so she has alot of time with sons.otherwise she is verbally nice to us n does not ask us tp do any house work as such.but we have no time at home with our husbands except when v go out on weekends.

    1. It is very obvious that there is control and manipulation going on in this home, based on who has the more economic power and Islamic authority over the other, i.e. parents using their authority to undermine the rights of their daughters-in-law. Let me tell you one thing: money and wealth make a big difference in the mutual relationships within families where taqwa is lacking (I am NOT saying this about your husband’s family, but just making a general statement). So basically, the people who own the house, bring in the hefty salary, pay the bills, and provide accommodation to others in a household get to hold sway over the latter and decide how the household is run, including sleeping arrangements, meals, schedules of outings, etc.

      I debated with myself whether I should say all this to you or not, because it will make you see things as they are, but I know that you won’t be able to do much about it, since you are residing in the home owned by your in-laws, and as such, cannot change the way things are done. The only solution lies in your husband and his brother “manning up” and not allowing their mother to treat them like children any more. However, in my experience, husbands are mostly too afraid to say anything to their parents, out of fear of the latter’s authority, or out of fear of Allah (which, in their understanding of Deen, equates everything they might say to “complain” to, or to try to rectify the behavior of, their parents, as a big “uff”, even if the parents are young, healthy, active and are oppressing their daughters in law), and this results in the daughter-in-law being dominated and made (coerced) to do work or live a life that is not of her choosing.

      So I ask you to pray to Allah to make a way out for you. May He guide us all to do and say everything according to His pleasure. Ameen.

      Perhaps you can remember the reward your husband (and hence, also you) is earning by making his parents happy and giving them so much company. I sound very cliched, because I know that this advice is not enough. *Sigh* But it is all the advice I can give you right now.

  15. Asslamualykum,
    Good article of how you bring different view points. I have a family member of mine who is a newly-wed and moved into a separate home from his parents home as a request from his wife wanting her own private space. He did that and lived in the apartment for a few months but is having trouble with his wife, she is being influenced by her friends and family to take charge of the relationship (basically to wear the “pants” in the house). She would have a get together or some sort of a girl party almost every weekend. One day the husband came home, his wife took all his clothes in a luggage and told him to go to his parents house. This man is a pashtoon and has a lot of dignity, so he got angry and screamed at her to go back to her parents house. Now he is fustrated and thinks that the only way for his wife to be taught proper manners is for them both to live in his parent’s house for a few years, so she can know how a women is supposed to behave.
    Do you think this is the proper approach?

    thanks

    1. وعليكم السلام ورحمة الله وبركاته

      I think he should first limit her interaction with her family and friends, and using wisdom, first figure out whose influence is she most under (I mean negative influence). He should not allow anyone to enter his home to visit his wife if he doesn’t like that person’s visits or the effect that these visits have on her, even if the visitor is the wife’s own mother. Her friends and the frequency of their visits also comes under the same principle. He can limit her contact with anyone who is influencing her against him in any way, but he should NOT do this harshly, and should use discretion when setting these boundaries.

      Secondly, moving into his parents’ home will not solve the problem itself, rather, it might cause a whole new set of issues and challenges. So while it might help to move into an apartment that is a bit nearer to his parents’ home, so that he can meet his parents often but his wife’s right to her privacy and space is not compromised, the fact remains that just moving in with his parents in and of itself might not bring about an automatic improvement in his wife’s behavior.

      I would caution any husband who wants to discipline his wife from taking help in this matter from his family or even her family. Asking outsiders to intercede as arbitrators to bring about a reconciliation between disputing spouses is the LAST resort recommended in the Quran to prevent a divorce; it is NOT the ideal solution; rather, FAR from it.

      Every husband-wife duo should always try to solve their problems themselves first, and take help from parents or anyone else only when the situation has gone out of control and divorce seems imminent on the horizon. This is because when one of them reveals the details of their fight(s) to relatives – especially parents – the parents almost always side with their own son or daughter, and more often than not end up harboring rancor and grudges for the spouse of their offspring – even after everything gets rectified.

      If the couple moves on from the rough patch in their marriage, forgives each other and goes on to dwell together happily, these parents (especially mothers) still hold grudges along the lines of “Remember when she threw my son out of the home? What a _____ girl!” In addition, the parents or others who are asked to help in a marital dispute, might go around spreading the problems between this husband and wife to others as gossip, and this maligns the honor/”izzah” of the couple for a long time to come (because people do not forget such “juicy” details of marital discord, rather, they enjoy hearing and spreading such stories).

      Husbands should realize that Allah has given them authority over their wives because of the money that they spend on them i.e. they provide shelter, food, clothing, sustenance, and any other living necessities and luxuries to their wives and children. If a husband deliberately or unknowingly allows others to provide these things for his wife and children, he in fact allows those people (who are providing) to interfere in his marital life and dictate terms and conditions about how he should live with his family. So e.g. if this apartment in which they live is owned by the wife’s parents, it automatically transfers a great deal of authority to them over their son-in-law, and if they do not fear Allah, they will try to dominate and subjugate him, or at the very least, not respect him as much as they should. All of this happens because he failed to be “man” enough to provide for his wife the way he should in Islam.

      What Muslim husbands should remember is, that authority comes with responsibility – they cannot enjoy the “perks” of being “qawwam” over their wives i.e. having exclusive rights to obedience and respect, without first doing all the DUTIES associated with this loftier position i.e. providing for their wives in an honorable and ample manner, and toiling for this purpose as much as they can. For this reason (maintaining their rightful authority over their wives as principle provider) they should not allow anyone else to indulgently “pamper” their wife by providing her with luxuries and lavish gifts that can “spoil” her or make her not just extravagant but also disrespectful towards her “qawwam“.

      Allah knows best.

  16. Could you please expand on; Where in Quran (Ayat and Vers) or in Hadith (Book and chapter) it is allowed that a Men or Women can take their picture and even publish it for the world to see it? If you could not come up with the answer. Please take your picture of the Web. It is like a Hippocratic act who will believe you what ever you are preaching?? May be your own personal horrible experience??? Who know? May Allah give you the Sakoon.
    May Allah forgive us all.

  17. AOA

    I need to ask Sadaf Farroqi a simple question
    I am married with a daughter, thrown out of my parents house and family business (i was on a job and joined my father because he wanted me to, he wasnt too well during that time.) along with my wife and 2.5 years old daughter Now my parents say they have rights over my children and i dont bring my children to meet them. I took my daughter there once and try my level best to keep good terms with my parents and try meeting them as often as I can. How ever i am not comfortable with the idea of taking my daughter there till my parents come to the place where i live ( the reason for this is only respect) my brother has not played a very wise role and has at times been involved in provoking my parents. All i want to know is that do grand parents have rights over grand children under the light of islam. My wife is of the view that our daughter showed be kept with us since she was also thrown out ….

    regards Ally

    1. وعليكم السلام ورحمة الله وبركاته

      I am sorry to hear about your situation. It is indeed a challenge to be good and kind to parents when they mistreat and discriminate between their children, flagrantly favoring one over another. In our culture, some older parents tend to misinterpret the great status that Islam has given them over their offspring to assume that they can get away with a lot of injustice and even outright oppression. May Allah guide us all to the right path.

      As for your question, the request of your parents to meet their grandchild is a valid one. However, you and your wife have the final authority over your daughter, as her parents (your rights in Islam over her are greater than your parents’ rights over her), so you both decide how often she meets them, and where.

      You should also advise your parents and brother to be more good in treatment of you, your wife and your daughter. How and when you advise them, is up to you, based on your past experience and relationship with them. Advise them in a manner that will not start another fight, but which will ensure that they listen and take heed. Sometimes, when people in one’s extended family get hurtful and insensitive in their behavior towards another, backing off and keeping a temporary distance with reduced contact, is an effective means of cooling everyone down and restoring love and good feelings.

      Allah knows best.

  18. I would like advice on my arranged marriage.
    I’ve been married for a year living in a joint family system.
    Generally the family and I get along in a civil manner, but I do not have any exceptional relationship/bond with my in-laws. Over time we’ve had several major arguments and I find that my ideals and expectations are not the same as my husbands parents (they are looking for some one traditional) and constantly degrade or find faults in me (for ex that I don’t know how to cook well etc..)

    My mother in law controls the house, what we eat, where we socialize and day to day things. My husband has to check in with her constantly, discuss every matter with her (including personal matters).
    My husband and I have never taken vacations alone, go for dinner or movie alone or spend anytime alone. Naturally we have drifted off in our own worlds and after another major argument with the family, I’ve decided to leave. I’ve asked my husband repeatedly to move out of the home and settle in a new location. Over the year I’ve struggled to find a job, make friends or adapt to my new home. I am now considering a divorce. I would appreciate advice, or suggestions to improve my situation.

    1. May Allah grant you patience, the guidance to come to a right decision that is the best in His eyes, and relief from all your problems. Ameen.

      I requested some religiously practicing, married Muslim sisters whom I know, to give you advice on an online forum. All of them, with the exception of one who is a new bride, have been married for 2 years or more. I am pasting their words of advice below:

      Sister 1: She needs to sit down and have a serious talk with her husband. Explain to him exactly how she feels about the situation, and make it clear that it is her Islamic right to have PRIVATE time with him. If he cannot accept this, then she may well have to leave.
      May Allah help her situation, ameen.

      Sister 2: If nothing s worked out so far (u dint say how many years of marriage) dont think its likely to get better. husbands who are under the control of their parents, in my experience remain the same. divorce is a solution at times, (not saying that there will be no regrets and life will be smooth there on ) but one has to choose the lesser evil..Oh but if its only one year then in my opinion its better to be patient for a while more, it takes time for a relationship to form with ones husband. If it was a love marriage it was another thing but with an arranged marriage you cant expect the husband to just leave his ways aside and totally take your side (not saying that he should 🙂 ) I agree that its wrong to always tell girls to be patient, but to be this hasty is also not right. Divorced women also face a lot of #$#$% in our society!

      Sister 3: Honestly one year is a pretty short time to have given up on patience. I know its easier said than done and though haven’t been in this situation Alhamdulilah, but I have a friend who is in somewhat similar situation. What I would suggest is that she needs to gain her husband’s love, trust and respect.. make him fall in love with her! Once he begins to love and trust her, only then would he be able to understand the injustice to his wife and only when he loves her.. would he long to be with her and when privacy becomes HIS need.. he will surely do something. She should not complain, just be kind, loving and caring and InshaAllah he will change. Shaytan wants the marriage broken and its easier to give up and break. So its upto her…if she wants to save her marriage, she would be willing to give it another chance.. if she doesn’t then well post divorce is also not that easy! If only everyone: the in laws, the husband, were aware of the rights of each other, the commandments in the Quran and Hadith .. we would not see such problems in our society. However unfortunately, deen has no say in our lives much, which leads to this jahalah (ignorance) in our society.

      Sister 4: I definitely agree with those who are saying that she is being too hasty too soon, but I can understand where she is coming from. An advice given to me by a friend early on in my marriage was that the first two years of the marriage are the toughest as far as adjusting and settling down for the husband, wife and in-laws on both sides are concerned. And over the years I’ve passed on this advice to many sisters who have come back to say its true. Though i’ve noticed that the husband and wife who are cousins/relatives, take about a year extra, first year to break past all the preconceived expectations and the next two to settle down 🙂
      I agree with (sister 3) that she needs to gain her husband’s (as well as in-laws) love and respect, and then things will start to settle down. She needs to adjust her ways if she wants others to adjust theirs for hers, its a give-and-take relation, but initially she needs to ‘give’ to enjoy a life time of ‘take’, inshaAllah. I do not see any major problem requiring a khula in her situation. She needs to understand this baggage comes with our culture (“saas-bahu-beta” triangle) and to deal with it with ihsan to reap the benefits later on.

      As far as expectations of her being a ‘traditional’ wife and a good cook, she mentions that this is what her in-laws want, but does her husband want this too? if yes, then she needs to learn how to cook and be the wife that he wants her to be. InshaAllah, when the in-laws see her putting in efforts to please their son, they will also back off.

      Sister 5: I’ve been through it all probably, and through patience and begging for Allah’s help, not taking revenge, and trying to repel evil with that which is good, almost 7 years down, today, things are totally different. Alhumdulillah, patience is the key but patience is hard, but it brings rewards; it does. Expect from Allah not from people. Allah never puts you down.

      Sister 6: Some excellent advice here masha’Allah. I think we also have to remember we are only hearing one side of the story, without verification from the husband or in-laws. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala advises in His Book: “And if you fear a split between the two of them, then appoint an arbiter from his relatives and an arbiter from her relatives. If they desire reconcilement Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.” (4:35) It’s important to have sensible people involved who can see both sides and the “bigger picture”, insha’Allah. We are advising her based on potentially biased testimony.

      Sister 7: I was once that girl before. Some differences but mainly an ex-husband who was largely wrapped around his mother’s finger and a very possessive mother-in-law who it seems actually dealt with sihr (witchcraft) also. Alhamdulillah I did not have kids from him and alhamdulillah my family was completely supportive. One of the first thing the ex told me was that he wants to live separately but I guess that he neglected to mention that TINY detail to his mommy who later thought I’d dragged him to move out. His mother ultimately demanded that I leave my degree for which I would take two classes a semester, that my family not pay for it, that I come and live with her husband in a joint family system. Needless to say, alhamdulillah I left, never looked back. And now ive been married for almost nine years with two kids to a husband who actually cares for his family alhamdulillah, without wronging his mother in the process. So my advice to this sister is to leave if she does not have kids, unless her husband shows willingness to establish a MARRIAGE with her. Otherwise, I think she would be signing up for a life of enslavement of various sorts. But she should also look to where she lives, I think, her family and their support and what is her plan after the divorce if she goes that route.

      Anyway personally, I wasnt raised to view divorce as a bad thing if it puts people out of their misery. There are simply some cases where its needed. One of my relatives got married to a girl who turned out to have full blown sihr and her famly refused to let her move out of the state with him or to not help in getting her cured. Ultimately he had no choice but to move on and he is happily married now, alhamdulillah.

      So if she thinks she can emotionally handle the aftermath and not break down, my advice is to get out if the situation is as bad as she describes. Allah knows best. Make istikharah. Alhamdulillah when I got divorced, I had really supportive friends, leaders of my community, and family and of course Allah and alhamdulillah, I made it through. Also do not believe people who tell you your prospects for marriage will decrease. I had countless proposals all from desi brothers AFTER my divorce and they knew I was divorced, compared to only a few proposals before I was married. So rizq of any kind is in the hands of Allah. My answer would be different if she had kids, but since she doesn’t, Allah knows best but i think its better to stay emotionally healthy and move on than get stuck in a dysfunctional situation with people from mars.

      Sister 8: Salam, I’ve had a pretty much similar situation with my in-laws. Year 1 was very rough, but Alhamdulilah now I’ve adjusted and things are going smooth. The interference is only temporary, since the marriage is new and the in laws, especially the husband’s parents want to be a part of the newly developing events. The husband’s family is used to a certain routine and expect the new bride to adjust to their system. I can recall in the beginning, I couldn’t even cut a water melon without my father in law’s permission! My husband would discuss our personal matters with them , but he would take me out for private dinners although I couldn’t ask for one. I advise the sister to win the hearts of the husband’s parents and let them take over, infact she should consult them herself. In the beginning, this would be difficult, but she has to develop a comfort zone in order to understand the nature of the husband’s parents. Once she understands their nature, tackling with them will become easy and then she can also employ hikmah to have her way when she wants to. The sister’s husband is just a family person and wants to keep the parents involved, the sister can understand this as her husband’s nature and not get offended – what maybe priivate for her, may not be private for him. The struggle is only temporary, inshAllah with time the parents in law will give the new bride her status. Alhamdulilah I have made a concious effort to make my cooking better and to become more ‘suggar’ (domestically skilled). My firstborn has helped smooth the bond between me and my in-laws and for us to become more humble towards each other. So, I advice the sister to give this relationship some time, just be comfortable with every situation and not to get provoked and hence react negatively. May Allah SWT ease the sister’s situation. Ameen!

  19. Very good article Sister……..There is a big problem in societies (Islamic and even non-Islamic) with this particular issue within marriage. To say that most of the time it goes well or that there is an ideal (or Utopian as you said) way to do it…..does not give the excuse to neglect this pervasive problem of injustice or lack of balance in the spouse vs parent relationship. What I have noticed is the Religion card often being used in an issue that is actually a highly traditional and culture problem…..The issue being of the spouse moving into her husbands parents house.

    I myself come from a war torn Islamic country (Iraq)…For millions of Iraqis (you can Includes Afghans and Palestinians probably too, or others that have had to deal with misery, repression ..etc) that have left our country, we are actually seeing the exact opposite happening. Sisters, brothers, parents all separated and even living in different continents with our respective spouses (this is of course a big exception to normal stable Islamic countries, but still heart breaking). However, inside Iraq many people still get married and move/stay in with their parents. So this problem also occurs. Possibly this problem is more of an issue in Indian / Pakistani society.

    There are reasons for these problems….Poverty, high population sizes and density, lack of education and true Islamic knowledge and awareness…etc…and finally one of the biggest disasters is sticking to uneducated, unislamic traditions and cultures, often using these cultural and traditional ideas, totally disregarding the original teachings of the Quran or our beloved Prophet and then saying that some of these ideas are part of their religion (one of the big injustices that is being carried out by the uneducated Muslims around the world to their own Religion, basically undermining God’s word with their own made up cultures and traditions and ideas). Tradition and culture can be good and productive, only if it does not contradict and go against the teachings of the All Mighty.

    From what I further understand about “private accommodation”. If the wife sees it fit or necessary for a separate house/apartment (not just separate quarters or living space)….this is her right to demand this from her husband (of course with thought on his needs and the financial trouble to get a such a house/apartment). So the “private accommodation” can be interpreted flexibly according to the needs and wants of the couple and should not be restrained to just a “quarters or bed room”.

    May Allah help and guide the Muslims (and their families) who Allah has bestowed upon them the happiness, mercy and responsibilities of marriage. Now we are in the holy month of Ramadan….and by fasting we also remember all those who can not get married for whatever reasons (illness, lack of money/job, or just haven’t found the right person…etc.)

    Salam Alaykum and Ramadan Kareem!

  20. As far as I know, the joint family system only exists in our desi culture and yes, it’s considred almost blasphemous to speak against it. I guess it must be the influence of hinduism where this was considered the norm, though we hardly see any cases in present day society amongst hindus. Mashallah, you have hit the nail on the head by addressing issues like lack of privacy, interference in personal matters, criticism of parenting styles etc. There is one more issue of power struggle and jealousy amongst sisters in law as every lady wants to run the house/kitchen as per her wishes and prove to be the best daughter in law in front of her in laws even if it means resorting to wrongful means or ignoring the husband’s needs sometimes. Since brothers are related by blood , they can ignore each others’ shortcomings and make compromises but for the sisters in law who come from different backgrounds it becomes difficult to keep compromising on every little issue. Sometimes, trivial things keep adding up and eventually blow up into bigger issues.

  21. People should educate themselves in Islam so that they know their rights and the rights of others. Culture seems to be the problem here, people are so caught up in it that it infringes upon their God-given rights.

    Men and women should discuss in detail their living arrangements before they marry. In-laws should reflect upon their own experiences and give the newly married couple the time and space to get to know each other and to find a a lifestyle that works for the two of them.

    Finally, the sons need to grow up; you are now husbands. You can respect your parents while laying down boundaries when it comes to space, privacy and independence in your new marriage. By giving your wife living arrangements where she feels safe, relaxed and able express herself, you will have a better chance at building a happy and comfortable Islamic marriage.

  22. Opinionated article…but thats what blogs are i guess 🙂

    Has anyone considered what their Islamic RESPONSIBILITIES are rather than fighting for their RIGHTS. Focussing on the former by everyone will automatically result in the latter being addressed…

    1. no parents are bad(mostly), they are usually manipulated by the others, due to their wealth or may be other reasons, also, they are what there parents were to them, its a cycle of life, if i give my wife her rights, she will teach the same to my daughters and my sons, and not now but after 20 years maybe if we are alive by grace of Allah my family will seek examples of me and my wife, this article isnt saying that parents are bad or ignore ur parents, its v v v v v v v v clear that wife has no direct responsibility of in laws, only the sons and daughters have.
      i m married and my parents are not concered with me any more they are always looking at my wife, what she has done or going to do for them, they are forcefully seeking her to obey them in the manner there elder daughter in law does,(she always say yes and works the way my mother wants but her children are neglected v badly and now my mother says that she is not a good mother)
      i agree with the writer we forget islam and put stupid cultures as examples and thats why we face problems.. Allah guide us all Ameen

      1. Jazak Allahu khair for commenting.

        I am grateful to Allah that a married man has commented here and admitted that it is the adult son (and daughter too), and not the son’s wife, who is actually obliged to serve and take care of his elderly parents.

        And yes, you’re right, may Allah make us among those parents whose children, decades later, take them as the correct Islamic role-models, instead of getting spurned off by their culture-endorsed domestic injustices. Ameen.

      2. Not sure where your source of information is from.

        “its v v v v v v v v clear that wife has no direct responsibility of in laws, only the sons and daughters have.”…This is not entirely true and is grossly misleading !

        1. Actually it is not misleading at all.

          A woman has no more responsibility of serving/taking care of her in-laws than she does towards her siblings, aunts, or uncles. But she should be as good to them as possible. Her own parents’ rights upon her are greater than those of her parents-in-law. However, it is her husband who is the one who has the greatest rights upon her.

          Unfortunately, many a time in our culture, a husband’s family presumes that, in lieu of his great rights upon his wife, they also possess the same (i.e. her ‘serving’ them is her obligatory ‘duty’ and their ‘right’). Many daughters-in-law serve their in-laws and are good to them, but since these in-laws consider this service that she is providing their right, they undermine it and undervalue it until she becomes oppressed. If they remembered that it is not her Islamic duty, but an act of extra goodness (ihsan) on her part, to serve them and do everything in the house exactly the way they want her to, they’d appreciate her much more, instead of rebuking her and criticizing her, as this brother Mfk’s wife is being treated. May Allah guide us all.

          As for the sources of this information, please take a look at the excerpts written by scholars below, on this topic. The links from which these excerpts have been taken have also been provided:

          It is the duty of the children, sons and daughters, to equally take care of their parents. If a person does more than his duty, he will be highly rewarded by Allah Ta’ala. Remember paradise lays beneath the feet of your mother.

          The son-in-laws and daughter-in-laws should also assist in helping their parent-in-laws. They should also encourage and support their spouses in looking after their parents and should not become a means of taking them away, or discouraging them from the service of their parents.

          (Hanafi) Reference: Darul Iftaa AskImam.org: 17819

          “They do not have the right to force you to do any of the things you mention, such as how to cook, how to dress or other things such as working and teaching etc, unless that is by way of advice and kind treatment, not by way of compulsion.

          It is not permissible for them to interfere in your and your husband’s private affairs, but if they convince your husband not to go out on trips and he tells you to stay in the house, then obey your husband, and be patient and seek reward.

          You do not have to ask permission from any of them to visit your family; that is not their right. You have to ask your husband’s permission, and if he gives you permission then you do not have to ask permission from any of them.

          They do not have the right to know the details of your life (you and your husband), and it is not permissible for your husband to tell them of any private or intimate matters between the two of you.

          Your husband has to honour his parents, and you should help him in that. You should not be the cause of a split between him and them. You will see the consequences of that in your children in sha Allah.

          Your husband’s visits to his parents should be on the basis of need. Something may happen to his parents which requires their son to visit them a great deal, such as sickness and the like. You husband has to pay attention to that.

          With regard to your serving them and doing housework, you are not obliged to do that, but if you do it as an act of kindness towards them, or to please your husband, that will be good and you will have the reward for that in sha Allah. This is something that will raise your status in the eyes of your husband and his family in this world, and will raise you in status in the Hereafter too, in sha Allah.

          With regard to your living separately, your husband has to ensure that you have a place where you can live separately, but there is nothing wrong with his parents living in the same place with you if the house is big enough, and if that will not cause you any harm.

          With regard to your life being under scrutiny, his parents have no right to dominate your life.”

          (Shafi’) Reference: IslamQA.com 6388

          Allah knows best.

        2. JazakAllah sister for the explanation. I feel that mostly ppl are so brain washed by our hindu culture that they are not admitting the guidance of Allah 😦
          Dear Wasif Brother,
          In Quran it is mentioned that Parents responsibility lies over the heads of their children (NOT ON THE WIVES of the son or THE HUSBAND of the DAUGHTER)
          when we grow up our parents teach us to be respectful to elders, that part implies on all. so its common sense that the newly wife has to respect the elders, but then again this post is not about right or wrong its basically about marriage in Islam so keep it that way. do not exploit it with culture Pakistan had adopted from india.I live in Saudi a and here no man marry;s until he has a separate house even if his parents are dependent on him, he will make a place for his wife separate, from yesterday i have been searching lots of fatwas in this regards and according to them this Article is 100% correct.
          forget what the sister has written, forget what i have written go to any scholar shia or sunni and ask him about this issue 🙂
          JazakAllah again to Sister who shared such knowledgeable article with us 🙂

  23. How do u approach a situation where your husbands neices continously wants to travel with you everywhere you go,for example,if we are all going for a function,they will ask to come with you-we are married for 2 years and just got a baby

  24. Salam, nice article. I have been married for almost two years now. My husband lost his Job and we came back to live with his parents. We have a Daughter who is just about 7months old. My husband has gotten another job and we r preparing to move finnaly InshaAllah. My Mother inlaw keeps insisting on taking our daughter. Does a grand parent have the right of custody of grand children when the parents especially I the mothe is Alive and fit to take care of my daughter? Jazakallahu khaira.

    1. Wa alaikumus salam,

      No, they do NOT. You and your husband have the greatest rights upon your daughter, which supersede even those of the grandparents. There is no question of anyone (not even your own parent) coercing you or in any way forcing/convincing you to give your child to them.

      And Allah knows best.

  25. I am getting married(nikkah) on the 6th of july. We will be officially husband and wife. Though my parents do not want my future husband and I living in the same house. I agreed on not completely living together because I have 6more months of studying left and he lives with his family about an hour away from me. But I would still like to share a bed, on weekends and times within the week when im not busy with my studies, once we are married. Is it wrong to do so? And how can I go about this? I need help asap

    1. This is an issue that crops up often when the nikah has been done but the girl is not allowed by her parents to join her husband and start living with him. It is quite complicated.

      It won’t be legally wrong to have physical relations with your husband after your nikah, but since your guardianship has not been passed over to him by your parents yet, and thus he is not maintaining you financially, it won’t be proper for him to enjoy physical relations with you without taking on your financial responsibility and guardianship first.

      I would suggest that you either be more patient and accept the situation until your parents allow you to move in with your husband. Or, if you cannot be patient, and you want to start living with your husband as soon as possible, then please sacrifice your studies and start your married life immediately.

      You see, married life entails taking on the prescribed Shari’ roles and responsibilities. By just having the nikah done, most girls’ parents want to prevent an eligible man from seeking proposals elsewhere by becoming committed to their daughter legally, without letting him enjoy her and dictate the terms of the marital relationship. Hence, the complications arise.

      Allah knows best.

  26. Its duty of every person to treat in-laws in a similar way as you treat you own parents. If you have accepted your Husband/Wife as entirely yours then why not your in-laws. Give them true love and care, you will see your own life turning into heaven.

  27. Salaamu Alaikum,

    I would like to ask for advise as my wife and I have constant argument about the same topic for 2 years. We got engaged 7 years ago while I was living in US and her living in Canada. We had the understanding that she would come to US to study after her school which did not happen due to problrms with my status. She stayed in Canada where she studied and I stayed in US. I moved to Canada 3 years after our engagement and live in Canada since then. Her family lives in Canada, mine in US. My plan was from the beginning to move back to US to my family as soon as we could.

    We both worked and built up our career over the past 4 years. We have a stable financial situation. We live aproximattley 4h from her family and 10 from mine, hence we are very often at her families house for a weekend.

    My mother is a widow but I have 3 younger brothers and one sister who live with or close to my family. My wish is to move back and live with the family, my wife’s pwish is to move to her family. It might be much easier for us to move close to her family in terms of jobs, status, and jobs, but I see it as my obligation to my family to move back close to them. I am not asking to live in the same house but close to them so I can fulfill my duties to my younger siblings and my mother, but my wife sees the disadvantages larger then my wish.

    I would never feel happy to live close to her family and would always have a guilty conscience not being with my family. Her family, Alhamdullilah, are great parents in law and I really love them, as I do love my wife, but I feel I have a bigger obligation to my own family even if it might cost me healthcare, and other disadvantages.

    Now, that’s how we feel, but what would be the right approach islamically if we can not find a solution?

    Jazakullah Khair for your help

  28. Wa alaykum al Salam Mohammed,
    You say you have 3 younger brothers and 1 sister who live with or close to your family….I assume your “family” you mean your mothers house. If they live “close” then I assume your brothers/sisters are not so young anymore ….maybe they are studying?
    The most important part of your parents family now and in the future is to take care of your mother that is getting older and being near her. This responsibility is not only on you but also on your brothers/sisters…and especially if they are getting older, they have responsibility to take care of her.

    You made the choice to go to Canada and make a good life with you and your wife and you have many advantages and even good relationship with your wife family. So the situation in general is good. It is normal to feel you want to be more close to your family than your wife’s family, this is natural feeling….but your main responsibility is to your wife and future kids as the leader of a new family. Your mother can still be helped by you financially like sending money etc and doing your obligatory visiting to her….but as your brothers and sisters get older and because they are closer geographically, it is their duty to share in helping your mother….No where in Islam it says because you are the older you must be more responsible to your parents then other brothers/sisters.

    May Allah be with you and all people of your family and may you lead a successful life inshallah.

  29. Salam..

    I have a mother in law and married for about 6 yrs now and have a 3 yrs old son. My husband is very nice n understanding. We have a two story house with me living in the upper portion n mom in law lower portion. Had to arrange it this way n u can very well know why. My mother in law had been very nosy greedy and jealous since all these years, hates it when i go out with my husband, always in bad mood, always backbitting and talking about it on the phone with relatives, neighbours and maasis, and she do it very loudly just so i could hear. As for me i have stopped keeping with her. She stays on her own busy with tv, relations phone n God knows what, but pretends to the world that we are unfair to her. We take out our son once or twice in a week and that too she does not like.
    I get to see her when i have to pass my way out of the gate while going out. All her nagging and ill treatments have forced me to keep distance from her now.
    Am i doing a bad thing? My husband is fine with her. Pays for her need. But she is still never happy . What else does she want? I dont feel comfortable to do any sort of conversation with her now. I keep to myself, busy with housechores and baby. But her attitude and expression really annoys me when ever she looks at me while we are heading out the gate. I cant explain…its alot more. Just that am i a gunnah gar for not keeping with her, which she has forced me to do. She laughs at my husband failures kai see how God shows for mistreating mothers… Should my husband go sit with her all the day or what. What does she want why is she so ungrateful. She just cant tolerate the fact that me n my husband go out with kid. Well…there were times when we have also taken her along…but she just never gave up on her bad habit of backbiting, complaining, and spreading things to other family members…they dont even talk to me..i jus want peace of mind with no one interrupting in my life..thats it..no eyes making me feel bad i am doing something wrong. I have already suffered alot before my marraige..and ijust want my own happy life..

  30. “He (the husband) does not have the right to force his wife to work for them (in-laws) in the house or to eat and drink with them. If he is able to provide her with accommodation that is completely separate from his family, that will be better for her, but if his parents are elderly and need him, and they have no one else to serve them and the only way he can serve them is by living with them, then he has to do that.” [Islam.QA.com, 96665]

    Can you please quote me the fatwa where the above lines are mentioned.Its not in the answer of 96665. If I am the only son of my parents and they are old.If my wife says that the only condition she will live with is by providing her s separate home? what should I do? I cant leave my parents and I love my wife too and I Dont want to leave her too? Am I selfish?

    1. Sorry there seems to have been a mistake, but I have now corrected it in the above post.

      Please see this link: http://islamqa.info/en/7653 – it has the quoted lines that you are asking for.

      No, you are not selfish. May Allah reward you for your keen intention to live near your parents and to take care of them. That is indeed commendable.

      Please try to find your wife separate accommodation that is near your parents’ home (a short car drive distance, but not close enough to be visible from their home). That way you can live with her, but visit them very often, and be there for them as and when they need help.

  31. I think this is among the most significant ibfo for me. Andd i’m gld
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  32. U are saying nuclear family is not a solution. In some cases nuclear family is the only option. let me tell u my case. After getting married I went to Sweden. My daughter was born there. Unfortunately my Husband job ended and we had to come back to Pakistan. In Sweden I used to go out for a walk. grocery shop, meet my friends , invite them to my home just like a normal human being. When I came back my MIL wanted to me to do all the house chores. There were 6 people in the house including me and my husband. There was also status difference between my family and my in laws. I was not used to doing so much house work. One day I was washing dishes and my 1 year old daughter started crying. I left the dishes and attended to the needs of my daughter. My MIL got so much angry over that. She wanted a maid instead of bahu. Now there are 6 people and my 2 children. I am responsible for all the work. I rarely go out. I have to ignore my kids because of the house work .She did not let me do job and her own daughter is doctor. I don’t have any social life. I take all frustration and anger out on my kids and husband. My sister in law lives with me and she does not do any single work. She even does not take care of kids when I am busy. what the use such a joint family. I had to feed my baby in common room where every one is passing by. She did not want me to go to my own room to save electricity. I pray all the same happens to her daughter,

    1. After reading your comment, I made special dua for you, asking Allah to create ease and a way out for you on a permanent basis.

      I am glad you left your comment here, so that others (especially mothers of sons, all the future mothers-in-law, including myself) can learn and benefit from it.

    2. “I pray all the same happens to her daughter” says it all. Why not you move out of your in-laws house? It is your husband’s responsibility to take care of you and if he can’t provide what you want divorce the coward rather than cursing you Mother-in-law. And what the hell is that status difference? Living on others money and talking about status???

      1. My husband provides for all the house members. Do you know how much private medical college fee is? My mother in law wanted my sister in law to be doctor. My husband and his brother supports her financially. The only reason he is not moving out is that it would be difficult to support two homes. What should i tell my husband? Fight with your mother.? After all she is his mother . The one who raised her. He has discussed the matter with her many times. But its no use. “I pray all the same happens to her daughter” is the statement that shows my frustration and anger. My sister in law lives in the same house like a princess. It my duty to provide her bed breakfast. And I live like a maid. I was working women before getting married and I wanted to continue my career. My husband has no objection. But my mother in law has. According to her bahu is responsible for all the family members. Its not what Islam teaches us. A person with no social life and working like a maid all day will have mental issues. Its been long 4 years. I have asked my husband to take me to psychiatrist. I am depressed all the time. and its effecting my relationship with my husband and children. You are no one to judge others. The only women that suffers most from joint family system are daughter in laws. And believe me they compromise and try very hard to please every one.

        1. and what a great advice it is. get divorce and then what about my kids. put them in some shelter home. you are so harsh. every situation is different. My husband is giving salary to his father since he got the job. They have raised him and he is paying him back . good. But they have not done any ehsan on me, When I was pregnant in sweden I managed all the things alone. And second time my mother in law told me she cannot take care of me and I am ok with it. I left my elder with for just 1 night. and then I was back home taking care of her and doing house chores. My parents live abroad so I don’t have the privilege of asking them for help. When I go for shower i lock my kids in my room so they dont disturb their grandparents. I don’t burden them with any thing. Now look at their own daughter, 21 year old women who cant make a cup of tea for herself or is too lazy to do the most simple task of changing her bedsheet. A 27 year old brother in law who don’t know how to press his clothes. I understand MIL is old and tired. but what 21 year old SIL. It is also her duty to look after parents or brother(not my husband) who gives his whole salary in her tuition fee. Where does Islam say that I have to take care of them too. I cannot say a word about SIL because it upsets my MIL. The logic she says is that she is guest and one day she will be go away to another home. I have live abroad all my life. Small apartments, easy to clean , automatic washing machines, no fear of electricity bills. Same was the case in sweden. There are no maids but life is still easy. Now I don’t have automatic machine and spend 2 hours washing at the back of my house. 6 people and 2 children clothes. and after all this i get to hear all the criticism and no thank u. So I would really likes to see how her daughter handles the same situation. My parents paid my tuition fee just as they are doing for her. They would not want it go waste. Elders should act like elders and do justice.

        2. SM, my heart goes out to you. You are surely living like a maid, especially the way you are serving a young sister-in-law…..*sigh*. How can your in-laws watch you serve her and not feel guilty, including your husband? Once your husband’s sister gets married, do you think it will become easier? It might, for the while she is away, but the workload will double for you whenever she comes to visit with her babies. You will then have to serve them too, plus watch your parents-in-law dole out favoritism towards them over your children.

          SubhanAllah, how disgusted I feel whenever any set of elders allow their daughter be served by her brother’s wives in any way, by cooking for her, driving her around, cleaning up after her, etc. This is nothing short of oppression and injustice.

          I am praying for you for a way out.

          I (and my views about the joint family system) are actually not very popular among those people from the older generation who read my blog posts (and perhaps also among some from the younger generation, especially those pampered daughters who aren’t happy in their husbands’ homes and are always waiting to run off to live at their parents’ home — they really dislike my opinions. So be it.).

          One thing I have seen in almost all Pakistani families is the two clear, distinct sets of double standards that they have: one for their daughters (the pampered princesses/divas/drama queens — forever entitled to sympathy & special treatment/born to be served by everyone else), and the other for their daughters-in-law (the maids/nannies/chefs/drivers/personal assistants/housekeepers).

          The truth must be told, and the truth is that most joint family systems in our culture run on injustice, especially when daughters-in-law are made to dwell in a single room and made to work like maids for years and years. At least maids are paid money. But daughters-in-law are often coerced to do housework as if it is their duty to serve their husbands’ whole family. Married women often serve their husbands’ siblings and their children even more than they do their own husband! SubhanAllah, how unfair.

          May Allah guide us all to not commit any injustice with another, and also to STOP injustice when we see it, especially within our own homes and families. Ameen.

          1. Its more of a culture thing then religion. In the beginning my husband was of the same view that it is my duty to serve them all. After listening to many scholars his point of view has changed. Same is the case with my mother in law. She thinks it the daughter in law duty. She tells me I also have worked hard all my life. But is it fair to make others suffer because you have suffered too. My SIL is not going to get married soon. She is still studying. Nowadays they are looking for a bride for my BIL. I don’t know how he is going take care of his wife as his salary goes to his sister tuition fee. And I do feel sorry for the new bride as she will have no privacy even in the beginning of her marriage. Newly wed girls are shy and they don’t feel comfortable around so many people. Moving out is the only solution. But it seems impossible till my SIL completes her degree. JazakAllah for your prayers. They do mean a lot. Having someone who listen to your problems is also a blessing.

  33. Okay so I found this article and it was interesting to read because I feel I am dealing with some of these issues. When I first got married six years ago overseas I agreed to move into one large house with my husbands family. We sometimes has our issues, but I never said anything I chose to be the bigger person and let it go, summing it up to be not worth it. I am however big on morals and respect and standing up for ones self, as I was raised in America and brought up this way even by my Muslim father. Now my mother-in-law is living with us and soon some more family overseas as well will be moving in with us. However, my mother-in-law does not act at all the way she used to. I have time and time again looked passed the things she has said and did out of respect for my husband. Still my husband knows me and that I do not let people treat me like crap or talk down to me. She has been very rude on many occasions and ever cursed me. She has undermined my authority with my children in front of them, basically telling them not to listen to me. Now I am a Muslim with much patience and I have read the Qur’an many times. I have discussed this issue with my own parents before when they miss treated me, that how they are acting is not the actions of a practicing Muslim and that God does not order me to obey them if it jeopardizes my own faith. I am not going to follow someone who is committing haram even if it is my parents. Having said that the same goes for my mother-in-law she has lost my respect because I see her acting in an UN-muslim way when I have given everything of myself to make her happy. Yet she only thinks of herself and that she has the right to do what ever she wants even if it hurts others. I am sorry but this is not how a Muslim acts. My husband has talked to her a few times and is going to again because I have had it since the last stunt she pulled with my daughter in regards to listening to me. If my husband does not rectify the situation then I am going to woman to woman and put her in her place. If she goes beyond it then we can not live together and we will arrange for another place for her to live. Luckily I have a lot of patience and I do not speak or address the situation in the same moment but give time for things to cool down. Inshalla God will guide me through this.

  34. Dear Sister, AOA, let me be very candid, your articles are good for the initiation of a thinking process however, highly biased. There is no denying of the fact that married children have all the rights that you are so forcefully communicating. BUT, at the same time you are harassing parents like me who have worked very hard to give every thing to their children even at the expanse of ones own quality of life.
    Your arguments are well taken if you also advocate that the young boys (after completion of college education or even before) to move out of the house and start earning their own living. They should get married from their own money and support their new families.
    To put my point of view in proper prospective, let me ask you a few questions that I am facing myself.
    1) I have two sons aged 28 and 24. Am I supposed to bear their expanses in the future?
    2) Am I supposed to spend from my own retirement savings for their marriages?
    3) Am I supposed to buy them cars/motorcycles for their commute cum leisure?
    4) My elder son who got married last year will become father by the end of this year. Is it our responsibility to take care of our daughter-in-laws during her pregnancy. My wife is serving her for the last three months, as she started to bleed in the first trimester.
    5) Were we supposed to vacate our own bedroom for her to reside so that she would not climb stairs?
    The list will not end but I think, I have made my point. If the answers of all my questions are in negative then keep up your good work. Otherwise, advocate the concept of reciprocity in relations.

    1. My sympathies are with you. It not duty to look after them now. I think the biggest ehsan is that you gave them education. Education is so so expensive nowadays. After getting education every men and women should be independent financially and they should try not to ask for any kind of financial help from their parents. I made all my dowry from my earnings and I am proud of it. We are 4 sisters and the biggest gift they could give us was our education. I live in 1 small room which has only 1 bed in it. Me my husband and 2 kids sleep in that one room. I have the education and experience to make my self financially better. But I cannot because my mother in law is against hiring maids and she is not cooperating at all. I even tried online jobs but I failed because of too much work load. I think you should ask your sons politely to move out. I don’t understand why you are not in control. My husband supports the whole financially and still I don’t dare to say anything in front of my inlaws. Because they are elders. I dont want to show disrespect for my inlaws. I love my husband and I know they are his family but 4 years is a long long time for making compromises. After my sister in law gets her degree we still have to finance her marriage. My father in law is a retired officer with very low pension. I know my husband should look after his parents and family, but its not my duty to compromise and live according to their rules and regulation. rules which can be bend if their own daughter is involved.

    2. وَعَلَيكُمُ السَّلامُ وَ رَحْمَةُ اللهِ
      Jazak Allah khair for your comment, Pervez Sahib. I am glad that finally this blog post got a candid viewpoint from the other side i.e. from a parent-in-law.

      Yes, the answers to all your questions are in the negative. Please see this link: http://islamqa.info/en/42220, from which I have taken this excerpt:

      Shaikh Salih al-Fawzaan (may Allah preserve him) said: “The son’s rights over his father come to an end when he becomes independent of means. When he grows up and starts to earn a living for himself, and is independent of means because of that earning, then his right of having his father spend on him comes to an end. But so long as he is still young, or he is grown up but is not yet independent of means and is unable to earn a living, then it remains his father’s duty to spend on him until he becomes independent of means. This is an obligation dictated by their close ties of kinship.””

      I have mentioned in the above article that those young married sons and their wives who live in joint families, do sometimes end up becoming like “grown up babies”, who continue to use their parents’ “free” services (such as babysitting for their kids, cooking the daily meals, management of the household & servants etc.) and they thus procrastinate ‘standing up on their own two feet’ in life.

      You are right when you pointed this out: quote “if you also advocate that the young boys (after completion of college education or even before) to move out of the house and start earning their own living. They should get married from their own money and support their new families.” — I advocate this 100% and in fact, I plan to raise my own son this way, insha’Allah. May Allah help me.

      I also advocate the same for married daughters i.e. they should stick it out patiently in their husbands’ homes when the times and circumstances get rough in their marriage, instead of running to their parents’ home at the drop of a hat to seek help and support, despite their parents’ having done more than necessary for them already. They, too, should grow up and take responsibility for their lives.

      Allah knows best.

      Jazak Allah khair for your comment, once again.

      1. Thanks Sister, AOA, Let me tell you what forced me to write on your blog for the first time? Agreeing to the most of the things (or many be many) that you wrote in your original article, still I felt it biased and the discussion that followed your article is a proof. You see miserable young daughter-in-laws are writing day in day out about their miseries and the cruelty of their in-laws.
        As I mentioned in my last post, i have two boys aged 28 and 24 and both are working in mufti-nationals. Last year, my elder son married and now my daughter (daughter-in-law) is expecting. Hearing the good news, I thought it highly required to educate myself about the new role that we (we two old chaps) have to play in future socially, morally and religiously. It was during that search I read you articles and then just to learn as to how generally daughters-in law feel, I kept reading all the posts which made me feel that when you sympathize with them, the problem is augmented but not solved. It made me think that a person like you with all her best intentions is failing when she misses the concept of reciprocity (Ehsan) in relations. Every relation has rights and obligations and it is always unfair to talk about one and neglecting the other. The young women writing on your blog are mostly talking about rights and it disturbs me. It is highly unfair to use Islam when it suits us otherwise our lives are devoid of the concepts of the religion which we claim to follow.
        Thanks again for giving me an opportunity, if allowed I may like to discuss the problem of combined viz-a-viz nuclear families as an article for you.
        May Allah bless you and keep up your work with the best of intentions.

  35. i am married since 5 years at begining my husband was with me for 2 months and i became pregnant after that he left with his parents and family and gone abroad aftr tht he just visit for 15 days For 6 month once and there is no time for him to spend with he will be busy with His family and again he ll go he dont have any feeling for me n my child in his absence i have to listen his father and mother they even wont let me to go my parents there is no husband in my life only his parents are ruling and even my parents and elders dont listen if i say my husband they all scold me saying you are a characterless woman y u need a husband keep ur in laws happy whats the solution for my problem if i say any problem to my husband on calls he says tell to my parents keep my parents happy that set what to do i need help from all my surroundings please guide me for this

  36. There are certain texts in the article I do not agree with these are your own opinions but a women has a right to live wherever she wants separate meaning it’s better not to live with the mother in law they are not all the same there are some evil ones that can make you lead to the hellfire and best to stay well away from them you have married the son not the whole family yes you can go visit and make effort when u get the time

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