Have I Fulfilled My Wife’s Rights by Shifting to My Parents’ Basement?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad

Question

Before marriage, we agreed that we would live with my parents. However,  problems arose between my wife and parents while living here, so we (and our two young children) moved into my parents’ basement apartment upon her request. It is an entirely separate unit and entrance. They only see each other if she steps outside and my parents happen to be out. She and my parents don’t speak other than salaam.

A few months in, she wants to move out again for two reasons: 1) she limits stepping out because she may see my parents 2) our son dislikes the basement and spends too much time upstairs, which upsets my wife because he doesn’t spend enough time with her. In light of those reasons, am I fulfilling her rights?

Answer

Thank you for your question. May Allah Most High reward you for being concerned about giving her her rights in this marriage and for wanting to respect her needs and concerns.

Spend on Your Wife

In terms of her rights in a marriage; you have given her the rights of a wife by giving her a separate entrance and home. However, you and I both know that she is unhappy living in that space due to the reasons you mention, and it would make for a much happier family life if you were to move out. Never fear spending more on your family as it will only bring you goodness.

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “You will be rewarded for whatever you spend for Allah’s sake even if it were a morsel which you put in your wife’s mouth.” [Bukhari]

And considering that Ashura is in a few days, consider acting on this saying of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), “If anyone gives liberally to his family on the day of ‘Ashura, God will be liberal to him the rest of the year.” Sufyan said he had tested it and found it to be so. [Bayhaqi]

Move Out

That being said, I pray that your wife can reconcile with your parents as it is not healthy or Islamically correct to go on like this. A woman should speak to her in-laws if they are not abusing or insulting her, which is healthier for her relationship with her husband and her children with their grandparents. I feel that moving out will accomplish this, so I advise you to do so.

When she feels independent, she will have time to think about it thoroughly and start making short visits or short phone calls, and the two can find a way to bury their differences and get along for the sake of Allah. Please tell her that although things seem difficult now, eventually, in sha Allah, her in-laws will ultimately become her friends by the grace of Allah Most High.

Kinship

Most of all, remember that the long-term goal is this: The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “The person who perfectly maintains the ties of kinship is not the one who does it because he gets recompensed by his relatives (for being kind and good to them), but the one who truly maintains the bonds of kinship is the one who persists in doing so even though the latter has severed the ties of kinship with him.” [Bukhari]

Please see these links as well:
IN-LAWS

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 aqida, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters 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.