بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
There 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’.
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:
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