Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad
Before marriage, I explained to my husband that I wished to live separately, but he lied and brought his sisters to live with us. My husband promised his late mother to take care of his sisters but also vowed to care for me when he married me. His sisters are abusive and make life unbearable. I have asked for a separate home, but he threatens me with a divorce.
Is it right for him to threaten me and choose his family? Do I not have rights as a Muslim woman? Living apart from in-laws is not breaking family ties.
Similarly, when his relatives visit, I am expected to give up my room and sleep in a public area out of respect for his family. What are my rights?
Thank you for your question. I empathize with your frustration and see you suffer in this toxic household. I pray that you can work things out, and with patience and wisdom, I am sure things will get easier.
You have the right to your own living quarters, separate from your in-laws. You have a right to sleep in your own room, even when you have guests, and you have a right not to be abused in your own home.
Please see the details here:
A Wife’s Right to Housing Separate From Her In-Laws
That being said, I don’t think that your husband can afford to have a separate place for you right now, and at the same time, he is obliged to take care of his sisters. It sounds like he is stressed out, just like you, and the best way to get what you want is to be a source of peace and comfort for him. If you do this, he will show you love and respect and give you whatever you want.
Make this your standard: It was said, “O Messenger of Allah, what type of wife is best? He said, ‘The one who makes (her husband) happy when he looks at her, and she obeys him if he instructs her to do something, and she does not do anything with regard to herself or his wealth in a manner of which he does not approve.’” [Ahmad]
See his Islamic financial obligations here:
Fiqh of Financially Supporting one’s Parents and Relatives
I recommend the following steps:
- Devote yourself to Allah by praying on time, reading Quran daily, and making dua during auspicious times;
- Learn your religion as well so that you don’t question what your rights and obligations are;
- Take steps to bond with and be close to him, no matter what your sisters do or say to you. Don’t let them break your bond with him;
- Listen to his problems without interfering or judging;
- Complain less to him and more to Allah because Allah has more power to fix your problems;
- When the relatives show up, you should politely decline to leave your room, but be prepared and invest in a good sofa bed or air mattress. You have to stand up for this;
- Try not to complain about his sisters to him, as Allah and the angels are with the patient one.
I firmly believe that your patience and kindness will not go unrewarded and that you will eventually end up in a blessed home of your own by Allah’s grace.
Please use these resources and try to have your husband read them too:
Having to Live With My In-Laws Is Difficult. What Do I Do?
Prayer of Need (Salat al-Haja)
In-Laws Leaving Me No Privacy: What is the Proper Response?
Love, Marriage and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions Answered
What Makes A Marriage Work – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf
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, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin and completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan, where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.