#253: Living with the In-Laws

Question:

Assalamualaikum ustaz. What is the ruling of living together with the in-laws?

Answer:

Waalaikumussalam wrt. wbt.,

Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions, and all those who follow his footsteps until the Final day.

Marriage is one of the worships and signs of the greatness of Allah SWT who created humans in pairs. Allah SWT states:

وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُم مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا لِّتَسْكُنُوا إِلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُم مَّوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً

“And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquillity in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy.” [1]

Sayyid Qutb said in his commentary [2]: Islam considers marriage as a home, peace and harmony and considers the relationship between a husband and wife as love and affection and upholds this relationship on free choice so that it can happen on the basis of understanding, empathy and love. Hence, Islam stated the following for the husbands:

فَإِن كَرِهْتُمُوهُنَّ فَعَسَىٰ أَن تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئًا وَيَجْعَلَ اللَّـهُ فِيهِ خَيْرًا كَثِيرًا

“For if you dislike them – perhaps you dislike a thing and Allah makes therein much good.” [3]

This is so that they maintain their relationship as husband and wife and not immediately sever the tie with just a fleeting thought or one’s first pressure, rather they must preserve the importance of this great human foundation so that it isn’t vulnerable and exposed to the explosion of the desires of changing sentiments and to the folly of lust that always comes and goes.

According to the above question, the ruling of living together with one’s in-laws is permissible however, we concluded some advice:

  • When the married couple is financially capable to live on their own, this would be best. The reason is that living on their own will ensure their privacy as well as a more comfortable living arrangement. Furthermore, this will avoid any interference from others.
  • Among the meaning of being capable is being able to provide specific living quarters for one’s wife as stated by Allah SWT:

أَسْكِنُوهُنَّ مِنْ حَيْثُ سَكَنتُم مِّن وُجْدِكُمْ وَلَا تُضَارُّوهُنَّ لِتُضَيِّقُوا عَلَيْهِنَّ

“Lodge them [in a section] of where you dwell out of your means and do not harm them in order to oppress them.” [4]

  • A Malay proverb states: “It is better to have a lot of houses than a lot of people in a house,” which means that with more people in a house, then more temperaments and characters of different people one needs to face and it could lead to arguments if not handled properly.
  • Always pay attention to the needs and wellbeing of one’s in-laws when the couple no longer lives with them in terms of providing sustenance and love by visiting them and offering gifts. Doing so, could improve and increase the love and respect compared to living together.
  • The husband should understand the appropriate rights of his wife according to the reasonable status of his partner so that both husband and wife can perform their respective duties clearly. This would result in a happy marriage.
  • Treat his wife the best he can. Allah SWT states:

وَعَاشِرُوهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ

“And live with them in kindness.” [5]

Syeikh al-Maraghi said: “The husbands are commanded to live kindly with their wives. Thus, be kind to one’s wife to bring out the best in her. But don’t contradict the shariah. Don’t be stingy in providing for them and don’t hurt them with your speech or actions or look at them in distress or furrowing your eyebrows.

The word mu’asyarah (live with them) here means living and sharing your life with them kindly and the wives are supposed to do the same to you. Hence, husband and wife should be the source of happiness and contentment to one another in their marriage. [6]

  • A wife should obey and serve her husband the best she can and worship and act piously as a wife to attain the paradise of Allah SWT. So true is the hadith from Abdul Rahman bin ‘Auf, the Prophet PBUH said:

إِذَا صَلَّتْ الْمَرْأَةُ خَمْسَهَا، وَصَامَتْ شَهْرَهَا، وَحَفِظَتْ فَرْجَهَا، وَأَطَاعَتْ زَوْجَهَا، قِيلَ لَهَا: ادْخُلِي الْجَنَّةَ مِنْ أَيِّ أَبْوَابِ الْجَنَّةِ شِئْتِ

“When a woman observes the five times of prayer, fasts during Ramadan, preserves her chastity and obeys her husband, she may enter by any of the gates of paradise she wishes.” [7]

  • Avoid nusyuz for its grave punishments. A hadith narrated from Abdullah bin Abi Aufa, the Prophet PBUH among others said:

وَالَّذِى نَفْسِى بِيَدِهِ لاَ تُؤَدِّى الْمَرْأَةُ حَقَّ اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ عَلَيْهَا كُلَّهُ حَتَّى تُؤَدِّىَ حَقَّ زَوْجِهَا

“No woman can fulfil her duty towards Allah until she fulfils her duty towards her husband.” [8]

  • There should always be discussions and talks between husband and wife before making any decisions. This will result in calmness and satisfaction from both parties. Discuss properly and kindly. So true is the statement of Allah SWT:

وَشَاوِرْهُمْ فِي الْأَمْرِ

“…and consult them in the matter.” [9]

Imam al-Tabari when explaining the above verse cited the opinion of Dhahak who said: “Allah SWT didn’t command His Messenger PBUH to consult and discuss except that He knows there is benefit in it.” [10]

To close, although living with the in-laws is permissible, however, we advise that if the couple is capable, it is best if they live on their own to build a harmonious marriage filled with mawaddah and rahmah in their lives. Always supplicate for one another so that your marriage is harmonious and avoid pressuring one’s husband that a good intention may lead to bad consequences. Lastly, we end with a supplication taught by Allah SWT:

رَبَّنَا هَبْ لَنَا مِنْ أَزْوَاجِنَا وَذُرِّيَّاتِنَا قُرَّةَ أَعْيُنٍ وَاجْعَلْنَا لِلْمُتَّقِينَ إِمَامًا

“Our Lord, grant us from among our wives and offspring comfort to our eyes and make us an example for the righteous.” [11]

Wallahu a’lam.

 

[1] Surah al-Rum: 21

[2] See Tafsir fi Zilal al-Quran, 3/234

[3] Surah al-Nisa’: 19

[4] Surah al-Talaq: 6

[5] Surah al-Nisa’: 19

[6] See Tafsir al-Maraghi, 2/1128

[7] Narrated by Ahmad (1661), al-Tabarani in al-Mu’jam al-Awsat (4598) and Ibn Hibban (4237)

[8] Narrated by Ibn Majah (1853) and Ahmad (19403). Syeikh Syuaib al-Arnout in Takhrij al-Musnad (19403) stated the sanad of this hadith is jayyid.

[9] Surah Ali-Imran: 159

[10] See Jami’ al-Bayan ʿan Taʾwil ay al-Qurʾan, 4/150

[11] Surah al-Furqan: 74

 

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