How to Deal with a Physically Abusive Mother-in-Law Who Makes Up Stories?

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad

Question

When my in-laws came to ask my father for my hand, my father stipulated that the only condition he has is that I will be allowed to study and work. At the time, they agreed to this. Since my nikah, they have gone back on their word, and I have been physically abused, bullied, and humiliated by them because I work. My husband and I moved away from their city to preserve our marriage as they demanded my husband divorce me.

However, their behavior has not changed. They lie behind my back to relatives and continue to cause problems in my marriage. Their expectation is that I quit my job and serve them 24/7. I should hand my money over to them, cut off my family, and refer all my life decisions to my mother-in-law. What are my rights?

Answer

Thank you for your question. I empathize with your frustration, and I pray that this suffering and pain makes you more resilient, your patience will be well compensated by the grace of Allah.

Rights

Allah Most High says, “And whoever is mindful of Allah, He will grant them a way out, and will provide for them in ways unimagined. And whoever places their trust in Allah, then Allah is their sufficiency. Allah’s affair will surely come to pass–and Allah has made a clear decree for everything.” [Quran, 65:2-3]

Everything that you have described is an infringement of your rights. Your in-laws cannot demand your money, insist that you involve them, humiliate you, hit you, bully you, backbite about you or demand that you stop working. I’m sure I don’t need to explain that this behavior is toxic and contrary to the sunna. Someone should tell them to repent. However, I commend you for moving to a different city to save your marriage, may Allah continue to give you wisdom in dealing with them.

What to Do

Unfortunately, there isn’t much that you can do. It will honestly hurt your husband if you are mean to them, so I recommend the following steps:

  • Have your husband do all the communication, don’t speak to them often yourself;
  • Let and encourage your husband to visit them alone, you can go minimally;
  • Don’t ever get angry at your husband for their behavior, he is innocent;
  • Bond very well with your husband, then nothing will be able to break that bond;
  • Be patient when your in-laws spread rumors, they only humiliate themselves, and the truth will always manifest itself over falsehood;
  • Don’t stoop their level to backbite back or find out what they are saying;
  • Supplicate to Allah sincerely, fervently, continuously before dawn;
  • Devote yourself to Allah and know that He is the Defender of the believers;
  • Pray on time, cover correctly, learn your religion, and apply it well, leave it up to your Lord.

And remember this important hadith. 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:
Dealing With In-Laws
How to Handle Mean In-Laws?
How To Manage Problems With In-Laws – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

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, where she 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.