Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil
Question: Assalam aleykum,
I live with my parents-in-law, brother-in-law and husband. My brother-in-law is mentally unwell, screams, shouts, and pushes his parents. My husband and I want to have a baby but I don’t feel safe at home. What do I do?
Everything between myself and my husband are good alhamdulilah, we both love and respect one another, but this situation is affecting me and I really want to start a family in a happy environment.
Answer: Assalamulaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.
Dear sister, the living environment you are in sounds very troubling. Pregnancy and having a newborn are both blessed and stressful times, and it sounds like you need a much calmer home.
In terms of your rights, please refer to this link: A Wife’s Right to Housing Separate From Her In-Laws
In a nutshell, even under normal circumstances, you have the right to your own private quarters. Your living situation you describe is already unsafe for you, and will be especially unsafe with a newborn.
Your husband is a good man who wants to look after his parents. He is obligated to look after them, and he is also obligated to look after you. The key here is balance, which can be very difficult to attain, and maintain.
I encourage you and your husband to study the Islamic rulings behind marriage, the rights of parents, and the rights of children. SeekersHub has courses on all three topics. When you both have a better understanding of what Allah has outlined, then it is easier for you to separate Islam from culture.
Your husband may feel too guilty to move out of his family home. He is probably very worried about his parents as well as his brother. Perhaps he feels like the only one who can protect his parents from his brother. This is a deeply complex and difficult situation.
Ideally, it is far safer for you and your future children to live in your own separate home, even if it is right next door to your in-laws.
I encourage you to communicate your concerns with your husband through softening your startup. Read articles such as and Manage Conflict: The Six Skills and Soften Your Startup. Work on improving your ability to repair conflict with your husband.
This is probably an extremely stressful topic for both of you, so if it is too difficult for you to broach on your own, then I encourage both of you to speak to a culturally-sensitive marriage counsellor.
Please look after yourself during this time. You have already been diagnosed with depression, and your health will have a direct impact on everything else in your life. Please get the help you need. Is there a culturally-sensitive counsellor or psychologist you can speak to?
As much as possible, strive to keep your self-care cup full. Wake up in the last third of the night and perform the Prayer of Need. Read, recite and listen to Qur’an, Lean on your loved ones. Eat well, exercise, and spend time in nature.
I can offer you some suggestions, and I pray that Allah facilitates ease for you.
1) Is it possible for your brother-in-law to get better psychiatric and holistic help?
2) Could your in-laws afford to hire a male nurse or equivalent to help support your brother-in-law?
3) I suggest that you, your husband and his family consult with Aafiyah Healing and/or Elements of Healing.
4) Calmly discuss options for more privacy and safety with your husband.
5) Consult with a compassionate local scholar about how to move forward.
[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.