Dealing With an Ill-Tempered Mother in Law

Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari

Question: I recently got married and I moved in with my husband and his parents. His mother has a bad temper. Now that Ramadan has come, I don’t feel Allah’s presence in this home because all day long she watches tv dramas and plays on the iPad while fasting. I usually stay in my room because I am trying to refrain from that in Ramadan, and then when I do come down at the time of iftar it seems like she’s in a bad mood because I haven’t come down all day. I’m not happy in this home, and I do not want to raise my future children insha’Allah in this home with his mother. There are no problems between me and my husband, but I feel his mother will tear us apart, or at least drive me away because I’m not strong and I won’t be able to handle it. Please advise.

Answer: Dear Sister,

Thank you for your question. I pray this message finds you well.

From the standpoint of Islamic law, newlyweds should have their own space in which they have privacy and can establish the rhythms of marital life. Joint living arrangements, while culturally sanctioned, are problematic from the perspective of the Shari’ah, especially when they entail the bride’s being in the presence of male in-laws, particularly brothers-in-law and cousins.

From a practical standpoint, a woman needs her space. If you want a strong foundation for your new marriage, you and your husband need to have your own space. You’re just figuring out who you are as adults and as a couple and it’s difficult to explore this new existence when you lack privacy and autonomy.

Now please don’t take this as an ode to Western individualism. As I stated, there is an Islamic basis for a newlywed couple’s maintaining their own residence while remaining courteous and solicitous toward their respective parents.

My advice is to come out of your room, be pleasant, help around the house, and make plans to move out .

May Allah Ta’ala make things easy,

Zaynab Ansari