Is It Permissible To Reject a Proposal Based on a Joint-Family Living Arrangement?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad

Question

I received a proposal from a religious man who would live in a multifamily home with separate quarters for his wife & in-laws. My Islamic rights would be fulfilled. But I don’t like the idea because I fear I would have a hard time speaking up for myself as I’m only 20 years old. I never grew up around my extended family so I haven’t seen how issues are handled in this arrangement. His family is quite rich & influential which further intensifies my concern. Would it be too picky to reject him on this basis?

Answer

Thank you for your question. I empathize with your fear as a young lady being sought for marriage, but I feel that if the man is truly pious and fears Allah, you have nothing to fear.

Rejecting a Proposal

A person may reject a proposal for any number of reasons, right or wrong, superficial or not, but if one takes the prophetic advice, one will succeed, by the grace of Allah. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), said, “A woman is married for four things: for her wealth, for her lineage, for her beauty or for her piety. Select the pious, may you be blessed!“ [Bukhari & Muslim] He also said, “If there comes to you one with whose character and religious commitment you are pleased, then marry (your daughter or female under your care) to him, for if you do not, there will be temptation (fitnah) in the land and widespread corruption.“ [Ibn Majah]

Istikhara and Prepare

Make istikhara your best friend and see if you can see yourself with this man for himself. Follow your heart, pray tahajjud and ask Allah before dawn, to guide you to the right decision.

See these links:
Istikhara: The Prayer of Seeking Guidance
How Do You Read the Signs for the Istikhara Prayer for Marriage?

In the meantime, prepare yourself by taking a course on marriage because you mustn’t enter into it blindly. You are young, and you should take every available means to get ready for this.

Reader:
Love, Marriage and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions Answered

Courses:
Marriage in Islam: Practical Guidance for Successful Marriage
Keys to Successful Muslim Marriages: Practical lessons that explain the Prophetic Spirit of Marriage
Making Love Last: Prophetic Principles for a Successful Marriage

Ask

You want to base your decision on what kind of husband and father he will be, and not focus so much on the living arrangement. I feel that you are a sincere and good person that you will learn a lot from living with them. I also feel that he may agree to move out later on when you have children. Why not ask what his plans are for the future? Where does he see himself in ten years? Families grow and need space, naturally, and he might be thinking along the same lines as you.

Please see these links for more tips:
Is It Obligatory for a Woman to Look After Her In-Laws?
A Wife’s Right to Housing Separate From Her In-Laws
Miscellaneous Answers related to 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 aqidah, 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.