Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil
Question: I am extremely worried. I am married and live with my in-laws. However, my younger brother-in-law has a mental issue. He screams, swears and hits his family members. Now matters are getting worse. Can I move out with my husband?
Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray this finds you well. Dear sister, may Allah remove you from this harmful situation, grant you righteous offspring, and may He grant your brother-in-law complete healing.
Even under normal circumstances, you have the right to move out and live in your own private quarters. I encourage you and your husband to read this excellent article, A Wife’s Right to Housing Separate From Her In-Laws, by Mufti Muhammad Ibn Adam Al-Kawthari.
Despite that, there can be very strong expectations for married children to live under one roof, especially in certain cultures. A wife can choose to forgo her Islamic right for the sake of maintaining harmony. Allah will reward her immensely for her patience and sacrifice. This is not an easy living arrangement, but the arrival of grandchildren often does smooth things over.
However, in your situation, your safety, your husband’s safety, and the safety of your future children is at stake. Your children are a trust given to you by Allah. Your current living situation is unsafe and unsuitable for raising a family.
The Messenger of Allah (upon him be blessings and peace) said: “Whoever persists in asking for forgiveness, Allah will grant him relief from every worry, and a way out from every hardship, and will grant him provision from (sources) he could never imagine.” [Ibn Majah]
Please perform the Prayer of Need in the last third of the night and ask Allah to help you out of this hardship. Guard your prayers, make regular istighfar, salawat upon the Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace) and give in charity.
I urge you and your husband to move out after having a frank discussion with the rest of his family. Try your best to explain things in a way which they can eventually accept. It is understandable for them to react negatively (denial, anger, shock etc), but continue to treat them with respect and kindness. Even after moving out, you and your husband must still visit and maintain family ties.
Your brother-in-law needs professional help. Is there a family therapist/counsellor/psychologist he can see? I am aware of the deep stigma attached to mental illness, but this issue will not go away on its own. It sounds like all of your in-laws and your husband need some kind of family counselling to help them heal from being physically and emotionally abused.
There are many psychiatric and psychological support networks which your in-laws can tap into. Please start by speaking to your family doctor. Many people who suffer from these imbalances do get better through a combination of counselling, medication, diet and lifestyle changes, and spiritual exercises.
First things first. Speak to your in-laws, move out, heal, and be there to support them from a safe distance.
Please refer to the following links:
Reader on In-Laws
A Reader on Patience and Reliance on Allah
What Are Some Prophetic Supplications That Can Help Me Deal With Trials in My Life?
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani