Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil
Question: My brother believes that if one is to practice Islam in the most extreme way, one will avoid all family destruction. His wife is not allowed to leave their home, even to sit in the backyard. She cannot visit her family on her own. She needs permission to look out the window. She must be dressed head to toe with the face veil, even in their home. She is not allowed to speak in public. She has no social life and no freedom. When I encourage her to get help, she puts me down out of fear of losing her family and children. How do I help his wife?
Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray this finds you well. Dear sister, may Allah reward you for seeking out an answer to this heartbreaking situation. Your sister-in-law is blessed to have you in her life.
Narrated Anas: Allah’s Messenger (upon him be blessings and peace) said, “Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one. People asked, “O Allah’s Messenger (upon him be blessings and peace)! It is all right to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor?” The Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace) said, “By preventing him from oppressing others.” [Bukhari]
I am so sorry to hear about your brother. May Allah grant him complete healing. He sounds like he needs to see a culturally-sensitive counsellor.
You must do everything within your ability to stop his oppression, but do so with wisdom and tact. Sit down and talk to him. If he resists, who else does he listen to? Is there a community elder, or compassionate local scholar, who can talk to him?
Prayer of Need
When you have exhausted all avenues with creation, remember to turn to your Creator.
Abu Huraira reported that Allah’s Messenger (upon him be blessings and peace) said: “The supplication of every one of you is granted if he does not grow impatient and says: I supplicated but it was not granted.” [Sahih Muslim]
Wake up in the last third of the night and perform the Prayer of Need. Beg Allah to help your family. Do this regularly, and be patient with Allah’s Decree.
Your sister-in-law sounds afraid, ashamed, and stuck. Think of ways to empower her with beneficial knowledge, but remind yourself that only she can make the changes. Being in an abusive and controlling marriage can rob women of their ability to take decisive action. Helplessness sets in. Some women take decades to leave an abusive husband. Some women never do.
Encourage her to complete Islamic Marriage: Guidance for Successful Marriage and Married Life. Please encourage your brother to do the same. He sounds like he has no idea of what a successful Islamic marriage is.
Keep making dua for your brother, sister-in-law, and children. Be someone who reminds them to have hope in Allah. I pray that your nieces and nephews are able to regard you and your husband as healthier role models.
Look after yourself during this time, especially if you are the only confidante for your sister-in-law.
Trials from within our family are often the hardest to deal with. Trust that these trials give you the opportunity to draw closer to Allah. I pray that your patience will polish your heart, and raise your rank in Jannah.
Please refer to the following links:
What Are Some Prophetic Supplications That Can Help Me Deal With Trials in My Life?
A Reader on Patience and Reliance on Allah
Positive Spiritual Thinking: Choosing Mindfulness (taqwa) and Embracing Trust (tawakkul) by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani