Ustadh Farid Dingle is asked if it is permissible to cut ties to in-laws who are abusive in order to ward off harm to oneself and one’s children.
Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.
I am in need of advice. As a daughter in law, I have cut ties with my husband’s brother and his family. (My husband still maintains contact.) The incidences were such that I no longer feel my children are safe in their presence, as it resulted in my children paying for the consequences of his action. He has committed many other negative deeds, which I have forgiven. Please note this brother in law is well-known for his hot temperament so reasoning with him is out of the question. I have therefore chosen to distance myself as a means to protect my mental well-being, to protect my children (both under five), and to avoid further problems.
I understand my children will be obligated to maintain kinship once they reach a balig age. My question is, given their young age – is it a necessity now?
Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.
If the anticipated harm is only physical, you should all keep ties with your mother and father in-law by telephone. If the harm is more emotional and physical, then just keep your distance as long as you know the harm exists. You can still send letters and gifts on Eid, for example.
As for your brother-in-law, you don’t need to have anything to do with him anyway because he is not your mahram. You should just have the children send kind messages now and then – again, providing that does not also result in harm.
Have your husband keep ties, as to do otherwise will only worsen things. As a general rule, it is good to keep the son/daughter in the range of fire, and the daughter-in-law out of it, as long as that also doesn’t result in harm.
Their are a lot of toxic relationships in many families, and the principle of avoiding harm is given precedence over achieving benefit. That is to say that the words of the Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him peace, “Let there be no harm and no reciprocating harm.” (Malik) is given precedence over his words, “He who cuts family ties will not enter Paradise.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
You should however consult some other members of the family and people with life experience to ascertain the best way to remove the harm once and for all, or how to navigate the whole issue in the best way.
Make a lot of dua for them, even if they have wronged you and your children.
I pray this helps.
Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.