Can I Stop Talking to My Sister-in-Law Who Disrespects Me?
Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad
I’m a convert & married into a different culture. My husband has a mental illness, and the experience has been traumatic. At this time, my sister-in-law’s son was rebelling & she blamed my husband as an influence. I was in her home, pregnant when she decided to yell at me & blamed me for not hospitalizing him. I am so upset that she took it out on me since she had no idea what I was going through. I stopped speaking to her, and she never apologized because ‘elders don’t have to apologize’. It is hard to be friendly with her again. She has since been mean & disrespectful to me in other ways. Is it wrong to stop talking to her? I get panic attacks. I let my husband and kids see her.
Thank you for your question. I empathize with your frustration and I’m sorry that you are going through so much pain and confusion with your family members. I pray that you reconcile with your sister-in-law soon.
Cutting Ties of Kinship
It is not correct in Islam to cut ties with anyone for more than three days, but at the same time, it is not obligatory to subject oneself to abuse. I suggest you pray istikhara on the issue and come up with how often you can see her without subjecting yourself to her insults and abuse. It is from your good character that you don’t stop your husband and children from seeing her.
The Prophet said: “Do not cut off one another, nor desert one another, nor hate one another, nor envy one another. Be you, O worshippers of Allah, brothers. It is not lawful for the Muslim to shun his brother for more than three(days).” [Tirmidhi]
Patience and kindness are the best tools to manage family relationships, and once people witness your good character, they will likely end up inclining toward you more than others. You have a few options: you can see her infrequently, perhaps once a month or less, you can go to family gatherings, but keep your distance from her, or you can simply be the bigger person, buy her a gift, and show her that you want to be friendly again. After this, you can keep a healthy minimal relationship with her. Perhaps her anger will dissipate about her son, and she will be back to herself. Don’t expect too much from her, as cultural Muslims come with much baggage and can be unable to break out of it.
The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “The believer who mixes with people and bears their annoyance with patience will have a greater reward than the believer who does not mix with people and does not put up with their annoyance.” [Ibn Maja]
Please see these links as well:
Should We Ignore Our Abusive Sister In-Law?
My Sisters-In-Law Belittle Us and Their Parents. Do I Need to Maintain Ties With Them?
A Reader on Family Ties
May Allah give you the best of this world and the next.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria, for two years, where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, Tafseer, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Master’s in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan, where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She recently moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.