Should I Ask My Atheist Mother-in-Law to Move Out?

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad


I am a practicing Muslim woman, and my husband is more culturally Muslim but does believe in Allah Most High. My mother-in-law moved into our home when I was pregnant with my eldest (5 years ago) to help with childcare. We now have two children in daycare.

She says she is an atheist, occasionally calls Islam a stupid religion, and has mocked me for fasting Ramadan. She was emotionally abusive to me for at least three of those five years for other reasons. She has said she wishes my children to be atheists like her.

My husband wants her to continue to live with us. She’s fully independent otherwise but does not want to live alone. Should I continue to live with her and not to sever family ties?


May Allah reward you for your patience, and may he facilitate this matter for you.

Separate Quarters

I quote this ruling from the answer linked below.

Imam al-Haskafi states in Durr al-Mukhtar: “It is necessary for the husband to provide the wife with a shelter (home) that is free from his and her family members…. taking into consideration both their economic standings. A separate quarter within the house with a lock, separate bathroom, and kitchen will be (minimally) sufficient.”

The great Hanafi Jurist, Imam Ibn Abidin (Allah have mercy on him), comments on this by saying: “The reason behind Haskafi’s statement “Free from his family members” is that, at times, it may be harmful to her to share the house with other people, as her belongings may not be safe. Also, she will not be able to enjoy her husband’s company in the presence of other people.” [A Wife’s Right to Housing Separate From Her In-Laws]


Living with your mother-in-law is not easy, especially because she is an atheist. Although Islam gives you the right to ask her to leave, it is your charity to let her stay and an opportunity for your husband to show her goodness, an injunction from the Quran.

Unfortunately, the children will have exposure to her beliefs which may or may not harm them. I recommend you pray istikhara on the matter and discuss it thoroughly with your husband. Give practical examples of how harm is being done and how you might at least improve or manage things while she lives with you.


Perform the Prayer of Need every day, in the last third of the night, and ask Allah for ease and guidance.

Pray your prayers on time, read some Quran daily with the meaning, and seek to increase your religious knowledge. Turn to Allah at every moment.

Leave the house at least once daily, even if it’s a walk to the park.

Use the time that your children are at daycare to do something that recharges you, e.g., a meal alone or with close friends, time at a cafe or library, etc.

Spend weekends recharging with your husband and child outside of your home and plan short holidays together. Even arrange a few with your mother-in-law.

Make an effort to nourish yourself daily with a spiritual routine, an exercise routine, and a study/work routine.

Find something for your mother-in-law to do, like volunteering opportunities, new friends, a hobby, an activity at a community center, or helping with a charity. If she feels busy and valued, she will interfere less in your life.

Renew your intention daily to show her the beauty of Islam and pray that Allah gives her guidance. Your good character, kindness, and positivity will trigger a change in her, by the grace of Allah.

Please see these links as well:
My Mother in Law Hates Me. What Can I Do?
Living with My Mother-In-Law Is Challenging. What Do I Do?
What Are My Rights When Living with My In-Laws?
Having to Live With My In-Laws Is Difficult. What Do I Do?

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 aqida, 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.