Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Assalam aleykum,

I live with my in-laws and they place me under a lot pressure, as if I will take their son away from them. I have no privacy. I cannot talk to my husband when I am not home. They force me to wear niqab, even though I already wear abaya. What should I do about it?

Before marriage, my in-laws said I could stay with my mother when my husband is overseas. Now that I am married, they forbid it.

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us. Please forgive me for the delay.

Privacy

It was narrated that Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah (upon him be blessings and peace) said: ‘The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, although both are good. Strive for that which will benefit you, seek the help of Allah, and do not feel helpless. If anything befalls you, do not say, “if only I had done such and such” rather say “Qaddara Allahu wa ma sha’a fa’ala (Allah has decreed and whatever he wills, He does).” For (saying) ‘If’ opens (the door) to the deeds of Satan.'” [Sunan Ibn Majah]

You are in a very difficult situation. I pray that Allah grants you relief from your tribulation.

Please learn about your rights to privacy by reading this article: A Wife’s Right to Housing Seperate From Her In-Laws.

At the very minimum, you have the right to your own bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and living space.

Even if your in-laws do not like it, please lock your bedroom door. They do not respect your privacy, so you must uphold it on your own. You must empower yourself, instead of continuing to give your power away to them.

Allah created you strong. Tap into that strength. Through His help, you can overcome this.

Niqab

Your in-laws, nor anyone else, cannot force you to wear niqab.

Marriage

Dear sister, please strive to protect your emotional health and the sanctity of your marriage.

Please speak to your husband about how difficult you are finding your living situation. You are both on the same team, and you need his support. There is a very big power imbalance because your husband works abroad. It is natural for you to struggle to assert yourself with your overbearing in-laws.

Ideally, it is easier for your husband to advocate on your behalf, until you get better at advocating for yourself. Also, it is far healthier for you to travel with your husband, when he goes abroad to work, instead of being left behind with your in-laws. Is that possible?

Living Situation

If moving with your husband is not a possibility, then please consult this invaluable website: Contented In-Laws. Study the strategies to make it easier for you to live more comfortably in your home.

It is a terrible feeling, to feel imprisoned in your own home. I pray that it gets better for you. You cannot change your in-laws, but you can change how you choose to interact with them. Choose calm and respectful assertiveness.

Mother

You are not your in-law’s property, despite what they might believe, or despite what misogynistic cultural expectations may tell you. You have every right to stay with your mother when your husband is overseas. Does your husband know that his parents forbid you from staying with your mother?Please work with him to make this happen.

Mediation

If you feel that that your in-laws can be persuaded by another elder, is there a trustworthy and compassionate scholar or community elder who can advocate for you? However, if you feel that outside intervention will only make things worse, then stick to working with your husband.

Spiritual Nourishment

Please perform the Prayer of Need as often as you need to. Nourish your heart with regular recitation of the Qur’an and dhikr. Please sign up to one of our courses, and/or listen to our podcasts and lesson sets.

I pray that Allah grants you a way out of your tribulation and strengthens your marriage.

Please see:

Do I Have the Right to Demand From My Husband to Not Live With My In-Laws?
I Live With an Abusive and Depressed Mother-In-Law – Should I Leave My Husband?
My Wife Struggles to Have Privacy in Our Family Home. What Do We Do?
A Reader on Patience and Reliance on Allah

Wassalam,

[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.

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