Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad
I would like to know the duties of a woman towards her husband’s parents. I live with my in-laws, and in my husband’s family, the wives are supposed to live a life how their mother-in-law wants. I would like to know the Shafi‘i school’s rulings regarding this. I have seen women being servants of the mother-in-law, so committed to the household, and having no other dreams of their own. It suffocates me that a girl has to be on duty throughout the day, serving everyone at home.
Thank you for your question. May Allah reward you for your patience and for seeking your rights through Islam.
A Muslim woman has obligations toward her husband and will be accountable for them on the Day of judgment. Regarding her in-laws, she is obliged to treat them as she should any other Muslim. She should be kind, charitable, honest, and patient with them and understand that her husband is a part of them and that what affects them affects him. In this light, she should do her best with them, and in the long run, it will also serve her interests.
Remember the importance of good character. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Nothing is placed on the Scale that is heavier than good character. Indeed the person with good character will have attained the rank of the person of fasting and prayer.” [Tirmidhi]
Please see the details here:
Is It Obligatory for a Woman to Look After Her In-Laws?
What Are My Rights When Living with My In-Laws?
Living with your in-laws is no reason to let your dreams be dashed. There is no obligation to serve them all day. If that is the tradition in your husband’s family, you should be the first to implement change, especially if your aim is the pleasure of Allah Most High. I highly recommend that you have this conversation with your husband, as he is the authority in your life, not his mother. Taking care of one’s parents is the job of the child, not the daughter-in-law. The best way is the middle way. Serve them in a balanced way that makes everyone happy.
Tell him that you want to study or work part-time or do courses on the side. Or that you want to eventually start your own business, or that you want to spend more time outdoors. Pursue whatever your passion is. You may want to consider planning for a child. Pursuing an interest beyond domestic duties will make you a more interesting person in your marriage and will ensure that you don’t stop developing your mind, skills, and character.
You should eventually make a plan to live separately from your in-laws as this is your right in Islam, and it will be easier on everyone as your family grows. Meanwhile, be constant in your prayers, and read the Quran with the meaning and presence of heart. Turn to Allah in your difficulties and channel your suffering and complaints into dua to Him, for He can solve all problems.
Remember the reward of your patience: The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “The believer who mixes with people and bears their annoyance with patience will have a greater reward than the believer who does not mix with people and does not put up with their annoyance.” [Ibn Majah]
And strive to follow this prophetic model: It was said, “O Messenger of Allah, what type of wife is best? He said (Allah bless him and give him peace), ‘The one who makes (her husband) happy when he looks at her, and she obeys him if he instructs her to do something, and she does not do anything concerning herself or his wealth in a manner of which he does not approve.’” [Ahmad]
Please see these links as well:
Is It Permissible to Live Separately From In-Laws?|
My Husband Keeps Forcing me to Serve his Mother
May Allah give you the best of this world and the next.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria, for two years, where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin and completed her Master’s in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan, where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.