Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad
My wife is obedient to her parents. Her mother has lived in our home to help with our children for 13 years; her father also moved in three years ago when my wife became a doctor. We support them 100%, and I spend my entire salary and most of my free time caring for them.
They have always started fights between us, and my wife always sides with them; recently, it became more abusive as my wife’s mother got mad that I ate too much lamb, and my wife slapped me, rupturing my eardrum irreparably. I informed my parents, but now I am not allowed to see my parents as my wife threatens divorce. They call me a non-believer, say our house is theirs, and demand payment for 13 years of childcare. Their son does not help them. Advice?
Thank you for your question. I empathize with your pain and suffering and pray that you can find a way to stand up and not let them walk all over you. The abusive scenario you mentioned was very difficult for me to read, as a husband is supposed to have a rank of honor and authority in Islam.
It is sinful to hit someone in the face, especially one’s husband, it is sinful to obey one’s parents over the husband, and it is sinful to force the husband to care for his wife’s parents, and finally, it is sinful for them to make you cut off your parents, and sinful for you to accept it. Please make the intention to efface these sins from your home. Believe it or not, because you are the husband, you are still responsible for what happens in your home despite your wife being a tyrant.
‘Abdallah bin ‘Umar reported God’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) as saying, “Each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock. The imam who is over the people is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock; a man is a shepherd in charge of the inhabitants of his household and he is responsible for his flock; a woman is a shepherdess in charge of her husband’s house and children and she is responsible for them; and a man’s slave is a shepherd in charge of his master’s property and he is responsible for it. So each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock.” [Bukhari; Muslim]
The sin of cutting off your parents is explained here. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “The most quickly rewarded of good deeds are kindness and upholding the ties of kinship, and the most quickly punished evil deeds are injustice and severing the ties of kinship.” [Ibn Majah]
Although it seems like a mountain to climb, I urge you to change the way your household functions by putting your foot down and bravely facing your wife and in-laws. Try these steps:
- Ask her parents to move out, your children will suffer if they continue to see this behavior at home (they can be dropped off at their place for care);
- Ask your wife to apologize for hitting you and never repeat it. If she does, call the police and file a report of assault;
- Ask that you go to marital counseling;
- Don’t be scared if she threatens divorce, it might be good for you, and she seems too cowardly to do it anyway;
- Inform them that you will be eating as much lamb as you like, and they have to accept it as it is not sinful;
- Do not pay them a dime and tell them that you don’t owe them as there was never a contract or agreement drawn up;
- Go to your parents immediately and visit them regularly, take your children there and call them regularly. Never ever let your wife manipulate you and control you where you are cutting off your parents sinfully;
- Ultimately, if your wife refuses to change, you should pray istikhara about leaving her.
Turn to Allah
I encourage all victims like yourself to turn to Allah in daily practice by fulfilling your obligations to Him first. Trust in Him, rely on Him, supplicate to Him and empower yourself to do your best regarding your situation. Find solace in praying on time, dhikr, reading the Quran and seeking answers within Allah’s book. Take help and advice from friends, relatives, elders, or a local imam. Remember that Allah can change someone at will and accept their repentance, that changed person may end up being you or her. Either way, your reward will be tremendous, in sha’ Allah.
And Allah Most High has said, “Indeed, Allah defends those who believe. Surely Allah does not like whoever is deceitful, ungrateful.” [Quran, 22:38]
The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “No fatigue, nor disease, nor sorrow, nor sadness, nor hurt, nor distress befalls a Muslim, even if it were the prick he receives from a thorn, but that Allah expiates some of his sins for that.” [Bukhari]
May Allah give you the best of this world and the next with a wife who loves you, supports you, and treats you well.
[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 Master’s 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.