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Cutting Ties to In-laws

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.

Question:

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?

Answer:

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.

Farid

 

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


 

I Hate My Future Wife’s Father

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil is asked for advice concerning the hatred a person feels toward a future father-in-law, and how they fear that may ruin the marriage.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I hope everyone is well. I really hate my future wife’s father. I really love her and I don’t want to leave her because of her father but I fear that we will clash a lot in the future.

He has a good heart but he doesn’t know how to speak to people with adab. He is very abusive and you can’t have a discussion or conversation with him. He always thinks he is right and once he wants something it is impossible for him to go back on it or to even see what other people think or want.

He is very judgemental and I just cant stand his character. He wants the best for me and her but he just doesn’t know how to go about it. I’ve seen a lot from him that just puts me off and I fear it will ruin my future relationship with my wife.

I am getting married in a couple of weeks and I would like some advice.

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.

Future father-in-law

Your future wife’s father sounds like a extremely troubled and difficult man. The worst thing you can do to yourself is try to change him. This may feel impossible, but I encourage you work on accepting him as he is. As improbable as it may sound, your future father-in-law is doing the best he can, with what he knows.

It is possible that he may struggle with an undiagnosed mental illness. He could be deeply anxious, which manifests in angry and controlling behavior. He could be depressed, which could also manifest as anger. I do not suggest that you tell him to see a therapist, because he is like to get offended and go into denial. I do suggest that you consider these reasons for his behavior, to help soften your heart.

I encourage you you make dua for him after every obligatory prayer. Perform the Prayer of Need and ask Allah to heal him, help you come to terms with him, bless your upcoming marriage, and whatever else you wish.

Marriage

I encourage you to work on healthy boundaries with your future wife. Without healthy boundaries, it is very possible for your marriage to fail because of the interference of a domineering father-in-law.

Your future wife probably carries a lot of pain from having a father like hers. His behavior is not her fault. She is an adult, and responsible only for her actions. However, a daughter’s difficult relationship with a troubled father does have an impact on her feelings of self-worth.

Because of the difficulty and sensitivity of your situation, I strongly encourage that you and your future wife work with a culturally-sensitive counselor.

Agency

Jarir bin Abdullah, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “Whoever does not show mercy to the people, Allah will not show mercy to him.” (Tirmidhi)

Please remember that you always have agency. You can always choose compassion, forgiveness and patience. It is harder to do this, because it is always easier to blame, shame and play the victim. That route is much easier on the nafs, whereas taking the high road is pleasing Allah.

Practical tips

When you are married, I encourage you to visit your father-in-law weekly with your wife. Be civil and kind. Do not bring up controversial topics. Be of service to him. Does he need help around the house? Can you help him run errands? What are some activities you can do together? Do your best to connect with him. Make the intention to embody good character, especially when he is being difficult.

If interactions with him become far too stressful and you fear for the health of your marriage, then I suggest that you and your wife limit contact with him. Do not cut ties, but at least visit for Eid and other special occasions. In the end, he remains the grandfather of your future children. I pray that your compassion with him in his old age will facilitate your own unborn children to be kind to you in your old age.

In whatever situation you may find yourself with your future father-in-law, I encourage you to choose mercy. Choose what is pleasing to Allah and His Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. Think of the long-term benefit, when you face short-term pain.

May Allah bless your marriage and make it a means of healing for you and your wife.

Please see: Love, Marriage and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions Answered.

Wassalam,

Raidah

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


I Converted to Islam but My In-Laws Do Not Accept Me. What Do I Do?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Assalam aleykum,

I was Hindu but converted to Islam and got married to my husband. His family does not accept me. Please, how do I have a successful love marriage?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us. Please forgive me for the delay.

Marriage Contract

Dear sister, you are in a very difficult situation. I am sorry that both your parents and your husband’s parents are not accepting of your marriage.

The rules of Islam are are clear on the validity of the marriage contract. For as long as you are both Muslim, then your nikah is valid.

Convert

Dear sister, rest assured that your past sins were forgiven the moment you embraced Islam. Because of the stress of what you are going through, I encourage you to look after yourself and your marriage.

Make good on your Islam. Continue to perform your obligatory acts such as prayer, fasting in Ramadan, paying zakat, and so on. Observe your hijab as best you can. Spend time make sincere dua to Allah. Please perform the Prayer of Need and ask Allah to help you through this.

I am sorry that you are struggling. Aside from your husband, do you have any Muslim friends who can support you?

Acceptance

Please accept that for the near future at least, your in-laws will remain unhappy with you. You cannot control what they do or say. All you can focus on is yourself and your marriage.

Please know that you can seek help with a culturally-sensitive counsellor – none of us were meant to go through this world alone.

Marriage

I encourage you to enrol in Marriage in Islam: Practical Guidance for Successful Marriages and listen to Getting Married with Ustadha Shireen Ahmed and Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Do everything in your power to nourish your marriage. Marriage, even in the best of circumstances, is hard work. When you and your husband are a solid team, then you’ll be better able to handle your difficulties. Go on holidays together, create positive memories together, and be each other’s staunchest supporters.

Seriously. What’s the Point of Marriage?
Managing vs. Resolving Conflict in Relationships: The Blueprints for Success
How to Make Repair Attempts So Your Partner Feels Loved

Please see:

Love, Marriage and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions Answered
A Reader on Patience and Reliance on Allah

[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.

Living with My Mother-In-Law Is Challenging. What Do I Do?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Assalam aleykum,

I have been living with my mother in law and though she is a generous and kind person, we don’t mix well. I just find her presence all day everyday to be too interfering for me and my husband, especially because we have a child. I know we are supposed to respect our elders and our husbands’ parents especially, but what are the boundaries? What can I do in terms of duas or practical acts to help me?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.

In-Laws

This is a very difficult and delicate situation. On one hand, as a wife, the Shari’ah gives you rights to your own private quarters: A Wife’s Right to Housing Seperate From Her In-Laws.

On the other hand, there is tremendous cultural pressure and expectation to give up that right, for the sake of extended family harmony. I urge you to study this website – Contented In-Laws. I hope that you will find some strategies to help relieve your difficulties.

One of the best things you can do for your sanity is accepting that you will fall short of your mother-in-law’s expectations, and that whatever kindness you show is for Allah’s sake. Nothing is los ton Him. Those Pesky Unappreciative Eastern MILs.

Husband

Aside from the difficulty in living with his mother, is your relationship with your husband otherwise positive and healthy? If so, then refer to this Rule #47 – Just because he doesn’t have the answer, doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you.

Your husband loves you, and probably feels stuck between the two most important women in his life. Additionally, the bulk of interacting with your mother-in-law lies with you and not your husband. He is at work, while you are home. Because of this, please find ways to make your living situation easier on yourself. Don’t martyr yourself because when you are unhappy, then your marriage and parenting will be affected too.

Parents

It is obligatory for you to respect and honour your parents, just as it is obligatory for your husband to respect and honour his parents. It is praiseworthy for you to respect and honour your in-laws. In summary, even though there is an expectation to honour your in-laws like your own parents, know that the Shari’ah is clear that the priority goes to your parents over his.

Bear in mind that there are some things that are common and difficult across all elderly parents and in-laws. Learning about these common challenges will help make it easier for you to live with her. Rule #37 – Understand That Your MIL Has Traits Common In ALL Elderly People

Solutions

Is there any way you can better design your life? For example, you describe that your mother-in-law does not go out much. If you are both stuck at home with your child, then it would be an understandably stressful living arrangement. Work with this reality, instead of wishing for something different.

1) Perform the Prayer of Need every day, in the last third of the night, and ask Allah for ease.
2) Have a weekly schedule where you leave the house at least once a day, even if it’s a walk to the park.
3) How old is your child? Does he/she go to preschool or kindergarten for at least a few hours a week? Use this time to leave the house and do something that recharges you e.g. a meal alone or with close friends, time at a cafe or library etc.
4) Spend weekends recharging with your husband and child, outside of your home.
5) Make an effort to nourish yourself daily through things that bring you joy.
6) If possible, go on regular short vacations with your husband and child, and go on holidays with your mother-in-law too.
7) At least once a week, go out and have breakfast/lunch/dinner with your mother-in-law, husband, and child as a way to reconnect with her and help her feel like a valued member of your household.
8) Every day, continue to renew your intention to keep your elderly mother-in-law company, for the sake of Allah.

Boundaries

Setting boundaries with in-laws, especially elderly in-laws who are set in their ways, can be incredibly difficult and frustrating. It is impossible for you to live with your mother-in-law and expect her to agree to everything you ask for. By the same token, it is unreasonable for you to give up everything you want to please her.

Choose your battles. What are you willing to let go of? What are you not willing to let go of? Can you identify what exactly bothers you about your interactions with your mother-in-law? Is she more of an extrovert, while you are more of an introvert? Introverts require daily alone time to recharge, while extroverts recharge through conversation. Do what you need to recharge.

Support

Who do you have to lean on for support? If it is getting too much for you to bear then I suggest that you consult a culturally-sensitive counsellor. You describe that you have learned to be assertive with your mother-in-law, but it isn’t working. Perhaps the solution lies in balancing assertiveness with acceptance. Let go of what you can, and know that nothing is lost on Allah.

Patience

“So, observe patience, a good patience.” [Qur’an, 70:5]

Having patience requires more than just putting up with discomfort in your life. It involves having a heart that smiles with Allah.

If this living situation is causing you despair, resentment, and unhappiness, then perhaps it is time to reevaluate it. Is it possible for you, your husband and your child to live separately? Please make this a last resort after exhausting all options, as it is likely to break your mother-in-law’s heart.

I pray that Allah makes your living arrangement easier on you. You have taken on a very challenging and praiseworthy act of worship by keeping your mother-in-law company every day, in her old age. Whatever you give up for Allah’s sake will be recompensed in full, and no one is more generous than Allah.

Please see:

Is It Permissible to Live Separately From In-Laws?
Mother-In-Law archives

[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.

Is It Permissible to Live Separately From In-Laws?

Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah

Question: Assalamu alaykum

My mother in law is a single mother and my husband is the only son. She is being rude with me, she bosses around me and my husband. Any decision we take should be under her permission. I am not happy with this atmosphere.

Is it permissible to live separately from in-laws?

Answer: Islamic law obliges one to be courteous, kind, and respectful to one’s in-laws as much as is possible. It does not however, oblige a person to live with their in-laws, but rather, the law states that a wife has the right to have her own fully separate living quarters or home.

Dealing with In-laws

Living with one’s mother in-law or other in-laws can be very challenging, especially if the mother in law is of a domineering nature. While respect is always due, you do not have to accept being bossed around, mistreated, or manipulated. When abuse occurs, living separately may be the only solution, which is permissible, and in some cases may be necessary.

[‘Umdat al Salik]

You cannot see it as separating your husband from his mother, as everyone’s lives are involved, and if one is becoming sick and depressed, then life cannot continue in that way.

Moving out

Although it is permissible to move out, the way you do so is important. Despite your mother in-law’s nature and behaviour, she is at the end of the day your husbands mother.

If you move out, then,

– Get your husband to choose the right time to speak to her about it and choose the right time to move out.

– Ensure that you try to keep some sort of contact with her after moving out, if this is possible without her offending you. Have your husband visit her regularly and check up on her, paying particular attention to any genuine needs she has.

– If you move out, take some time to work on your own mental and emotional wellbeing.

– Pray for your mother in-law and try to forgive her shortcomings.

You may also find the following answers useful:

A Wife’s Right to Housing Separate From Her In-Laws

Mother in Law Archives

I pray that Allah makes your situation easy and you find a peaceful resolution to benefits all.

Warmest salams,
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah

Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.

My In-Laws Place Me Under a Lot of Pressure. What Do I Do?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Assalam aleykum,

I live with my in-laws and they place me under a lot pressure, as if I will take their son away from them. I have no privacy. I cannot talk to my husband when I am not home. They force me to wear niqab, even though I already wear abaya. What should I do about it?

Before marriage, my in-laws said I could stay with my mother when my husband is overseas. Now that I am married, they forbid it.

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us. Please forgive me for the delay.

Privacy

It was narrated that Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah (upon him be blessings and peace) said: ‘The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, although both are good. Strive for that which will benefit you, seek the help of Allah, and do not feel helpless. If anything befalls you, do not say, “if only I had done such and such” rather say “Qaddara Allahu wa ma sha’a fa’ala (Allah has decreed and whatever he wills, He does).” For (saying) ‘If’ opens (the door) to the deeds of Satan.'” [Sunan Ibn Majah]

You are in a very difficult situation. I pray that Allah grants you relief from your tribulation.

Please learn about your rights to privacy by reading this article: A Wife’s Right to Housing Seperate From Her In-Laws.

At the very minimum, you have the right to your own bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and living space.

Even if your in-laws do not like it, please lock your bedroom door. They do not respect your privacy, so you must uphold it on your own. You must empower yourself, instead of continuing to give your power away to them.

Allah created you strong. Tap into that strength. Through His help, you can overcome this.

Niqab

Your in-laws, nor anyone else, cannot force you to wear niqab.

Marriage

Dear sister, please strive to protect your emotional health and the sanctity of your marriage.

Please speak to your husband about how difficult you are finding your living situation. You are both on the same team, and you need his support. There is a very big power imbalance because your husband works abroad. It is natural for you to struggle to assert yourself with your overbearing in-laws.

Ideally, it is easier for your husband to advocate on your behalf, until you get better at advocating for yourself. Also, it is far healthier for you to travel with your husband, when he goes abroad to work, instead of being left behind with your in-laws. Is that possible?

Living Situation

If moving with your husband is not a possibility, then please consult this invaluable website: Contented In-Laws. Study the strategies to make it easier for you to live more comfortably in your home.

It is a terrible feeling, to feel imprisoned in your own home. I pray that it gets better for you. You cannot change your in-laws, but you can change how you choose to interact with them. Choose calm and respectful assertiveness.

Mother

You are not your in-law’s property, despite what they might believe, or despite what misogynistic cultural expectations may tell you. You have every right to stay with your mother when your husband is overseas. Does your husband know that his parents forbid you from staying with your mother?Please work with him to make this happen.

Mediation

If you feel that that your in-laws can be persuaded by another elder, is there a trustworthy and compassionate scholar or community elder who can advocate for you? However, if you feel that outside intervention will only make things worse, then stick to working with your husband.

Spiritual Nourishment

Please perform the Prayer of Need as often as you need to. Nourish your heart with regular recitation of the Qur’an and dhikr. Please sign up to one of our courses, and/or listen to our podcasts and lesson sets.

I pray that Allah grants you a way out of your tribulation and strengthens your marriage.

Please see:

Do I Have the Right to Demand From My Husband to Not Live With My In-Laws?
I Live With an Abusive and Depressed Mother-In-Law – Should I Leave My Husband?
My Wife Struggles to Have Privacy in Our Family Home. What Do We Do?
A Reader on Patience and Reliance on Allah

Wassalam,

[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.

Should We Ignore Our Abusive Sister In-Law?

Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah

Question: Assalamu alaykum

We have tried our best to make my brother’s wife welcome and at home in our home. She comes with my brother every week to greet my mom. Lately she has been very rude openly and tells lies to my brother about us. Most of the time he sides with the wife. We have decided to ignore her. What should we do?

Answer: Wa’alaykum assalam.

Dealing with in-laws can often be a challenge, and unfortunately, one has to deal with the reality that not everyone will get on as a close-knit family. All one can do is ensure good character is maintained throughout while avoiding confrontation and harm.

It would be best to not ‘ignore’ your sister in-law, but rather set boundaries to how you interact. If she is making claims about you, then obviously you do not have to endure that behavior. If her claims are untrue, simply ask your brother to not mention anything to you about them.

You mention that you have decided to ignore your sister in-law for your mother’s sake. How is the relationship between your mother and your brother’s wife? It seems she is making an effort to see your mother even without your brother. Would it upset your mother if she does not visit with the grandchildren?

If your sister in-law visits with your brother, or on her own, then try your best to keep your interactions cordial. You are not obliged to do more than just the bear minimum of saying salams and asking how each other are.

If she is rude openly, then try to be patient, and stay silent. If this continues, then you have a right to tell your brother and his wife that you do not want her to visit until she stops behaving in such a way. However, please do this with tact, as well as discussing it with your mother.

Make du’a for your family, that Allah turns the hearts of any wrong-doing and accusations, and that the family is bought together.

You may also find the following answers useful:

Can I Break Relations With Abusive In-Laws?

In-Law Archives

Warmest salams,
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah

Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.

My Wife Struggles to Have Privacy in Our Family Home. What Do We Do?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Assalam aleykum,

My wife, children and I live with my elderly parents and brother. My wife is unhappy because she needs to wear hijab everywhere in our home except for our bedroom and bathroom. She has no privacy elsewhere in our home. My elderly parents say that she has enough privacy. What do I do?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us. Please forgive me for the delay.

Balance

Dear questioner, you are in a difficult and delicate situation. I pray that Allah grants you a way out. Throughout this process, please perform the Prayer of Need and ask for ease. Read and reflect on the story of Surah Yusuf.

Some options:

1) Speak to your brother and let him know that it would be easier for your wife and for yourself if he were to move out. It is likely that his wife would appreciate her own privacy. Would this be feasible, and financially possible for him?
2) Speak to your entire family and suggest moving to a home where your wife gets more privacy. I strongly encourage that you provide your wife with her own kitchen, living space, bedroom and bathroom. Please refer to this: Rule #8 Try to Buy a House with a Living Room and Bathroom for Each Party.
3) If your parents do not want to offer more privacy for your wife, then as an absolute last resort, I suggest that you move out and let her rest in the privacy of her own home.

Wife

Please read this excellent answer – A Wife’s Right to Housing Seperate From Her In-Laws. I strongly encourage you to read it, reflect on it, and share it with the rest of your family. Your wife’s concerns are valid, and it’s extremely important that you consider them.

An excerpt:

Imam al-Haskafi states in Durr al-Mukhtar:

“It is necessary for the husband to provide the wife with a shelter (home) that is free from his and her family members…. taking into consideration both their economic standings. A separate quarter within the house that has a lock, separate bathroom and kitchen will be (minimally) sufficient.”

If a wife wishes to do so, then she will be rewarded for giving up her rights. However, if she does so unwillingly, then she risks becoming resentful.

What your wife is asking for is perfectly reasonable and well within her rights, even if your parents do not think so. You must advocate for your wife in this situation. Use wisdom, politeness and tact, but you must do everything in your power to let her wishes be heard.

Shaytan lies ever in wait to harm your marriage, so I suggest that you find a feasible, long-term solution which will keep your marriage intact.

Kitchen

It can be very stressful and stifling for a wife to not have her own kitchen. A wife who is unhappy will transmit that spiritual state into her cooking, which then impacts on those who eat her food. Reflect on this, and please do everything in your power to facilitate her own privacy.

Parents

It sounds like your parents struggle to see your wife’s point of view. Patiently, and with good adab, gently speak to them. Advocate calmly and firmly for your wife, even if they may not like what you have to say. It is common for the elderly

The best case scenario is for them to understand your wife’s point of view, and facilitate matters so that it is easier for her to live with them. This could be through your brother moving out, or through all of you moving to a more suitable home.

Unfortunately, if they do not understand, then you need to protect your wife and the sanctity of your marriage. Your elderly parents still have each other, and your brother and his wife to keep them company. Even though moving out is a last resort and is likely to upset your parents, consider the alternative – allowing your wife to continue to live unhappily while forgoing her rights. Being a mother to young children is challenging enough. Please support her in restoring her rights, and easing her unhappiness.

Living in an extended family household harmoniously takes a lot of wisdom, tact, assertiveness, and boundary-setting. I pray that Allah make this all easier for you.

Please see:

Living With Disrespectful and Overbearing In-Laws
Having to Live With My In-Laws Is Difficult. What Do I Do?
Is It Obligatory for a Woman to Look After Her In-Laws?

Wassalam,
[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.

Is It Permissible for My Husband to Cut Ties With His Abusive Parents?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Assalam aleykum,

My husband’s parents have told their sons to divorce their wives and take their money. Alhamdulilah, my husband has stayed away from his parents and so our marriage has survived. He fears their bad influence, so he has cut ties with his parents. Is that permissible? If they do not get their way, they threaten to commit suicide.

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us. Please forgive me for the delay.

In-Laws

I am sorry to hear that your husband’s parents are such difficult and toxic people. Although it is sinful for your husband to cut ties with them, it is very important for him to protect his health and your marriage.

Can he write them letters or emails? When he is strong enough, can he consider calling them, and visiting them at least during Eid? He can keep these interactions short, and excuse himself before things turn ugly.

Suicide

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]

Parents who threaten to kill themselves in order to control their offspring are extremely toxic. I strongly encourage you and your husband to attend counselling with a culturally-sensitive counsellor, in order to heal from your past trauma with his parents, and to learn how to better cope with them. Please don’t expect your husband’s parents to change. All you can do is work on yourself and your marriage.

Patience

“O my son, establish prayer, enjoin what is right, forbid what is wrong, and be patient over what befalls you. Indeed, [all] that is of the matters [requiring] determination.” [Qur’an, 31:17]

The dunya is a place of trial, heartbreak, and pain. These difficulties offer us opportunities to draw closer to Allah. Even if we do not understand the trials Allah has placed in our lives, trust that Allah knows how much pain you are in, and He will reward you for all of your patience.

I pray that Allah grants you, your husband and his parents healing.

Please see:

Love, Marriage and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions Answered
A Reader on Patience and Reliance on Allah

[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.

My Wife Doesn’t Get Along With My Mother. What Do I Do?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Assalam aleykum,

I live with my mother, wife, and child. My wife doesn’t get along with my mother. If my mother tries to give her advice, she takes it the wrong way. My mother is old and I don’t want to leave her and move out. What do I do?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.

Living arrangements

Dear questioner, I pray that Allah makes this difficult situation easier for you.
In terms of the Shari’ah, your wife has the right to her private living quarters. There is great wisdom in giving your wife the space she needs to raise your child.

However, you are a thoughtful son for wanting to keep your mother company in her old age. Your situation calls for a lot of compassion, balance and wisdom. I pray that Allah makes this easier for everyone in your household.

Dua

Please read this dua every day, preferably in the last third of the night (before the entry of Fajr):

“O Allah, nothing is easy except what You make easy.

And You make the difficult, if You wish, easy.”

(Excerpt from Du’a – Supplication for one whose affairs have become difficult)

Please perform the Prayer of Need, also preferably during the last third of the night.

Wife

Does your wife have much help with your child? If your wife is run down, sleep-deprived, and has very little support, then she is far more likely to go on the defensive when her mother-in-law gives her feedback.

A well-rested, happy and content wife is much more able to make excuses for her mother-in-law.

Please share this excellent resource with your wife: Contented In-Laws.

Mother

Your mother sounds concerned for the welfare of her grandchild, and it sounds like she either:

1) struggles to express herself diplomatically
2) is being misunderstood by your wife, who goes on the defensive

Please speak to your mother. Until your mother develops more rapport with your wife, please encourage her to speak to you, and not your wife, about your child. Child-rearing is an incredibly sensitive topic.

Please make it a point to express your gratitude to your wife for continuing to live with your mother, in spite of the hardship upon her. When she is ready to hear it, then encourage your wife to make excuses for your mother. Tactfully suggest that she build positive memories with your mother, to give her the ability to overlook your mother’s shortcomings.

Your wife’s obligation is to treat her with respect. She is going well beyond the call of duty by living with her mother-in-law, interacting with her every day, and not having as much privacy as she is entitled to. However, if she does so with an unhappy heart, then she is making this already difficult situation even harder on herself. With patience, good character, and readiness to forgive, your wife can earn tremendous reward by being of service to your mother.

Communication

Please sit down with your wife and have an honest and calm discussion about what to do about your mother. Some suggestions.

1) Nurture your relationship with your wife.
2) Help her out more often, or arrange for help.
3) Encourage your wife to nurture her relationship with your mother.

Both of you must learn to not immediately go on the defensive when you bring up the topic of your mother. This will be difficult to do at first, but over time and practice, you will find it easier.

I strongly encourage that you and your wife read this article Managing Conflict: Solvable vs. Perpetual Problems.

Please do not feel hesitant about seeking out the help of a culturally-sensitive marriage counsellor. Sometimes, when topics are too painful and sensitive, then the support of an objective, trained third-party can make alll the difference.

Living Space

What does your current home look like, in terms of private spaces? It would be best if your home allowed you and your wife your own private living room, bathroom and kitchen.

Moving out

Is your mother still healthy and able to function independently? If so, then please consider moving out a last resort, and not your first. Moving out will inevitably break your mother’s heart, but if that is what it takes to save your marriage, then you must put serious thought into it.

Your wife wants to feel that her desire for privacy and peace of mind matter to you. This could be a temporary measure, until you and your wife are able to be on the same page about living with your mother in her old age.

Please perform the Prayer of Guidance before deciding to move out. I pray that Allah grants you a tremendous opening.

Please see:

Having to Live With My In-Laws Is Difficult. What Do I Do?
Is It Obligatory for a Woman to Look After Her In-Laws?
Love, Marriage and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions Answered
A Reader on Patience and Reliance on Allah

Wassalam,
[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.