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RELATIONSHIP WITH IN-LAWS:ISLAMIC PERSPECTIVE (3)



By
Ibn Abdillaah As-sudaisiy Al-Iloori

Maintaining Justice Between Mother and Wife

There is no doubt about the fact that regarding a man, his mother has superior right over his wife as far as the shari'ah is concerned. A man should do more good to his mother. A wife should know this and keep it at the back of her mind, not to expect or demand beyond her limits. Notwithstanding, a husband should do his best to make his wife comfortable because she has the legal right to be taken care of. This would lead to peace and harmony in the home. 

In Islaam, a mother has greater right than a father, talkless of a wife. It was reported in a hadith that man came to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! Who among the people is the most worthy of my good companionship? The Prophetصلىالله عليه وسلم said: Your mother. The man said, ‘Then who?' The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said: Then your mother. The man further asked, ‘Then who?' The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said: Then your mother. The man asked again, ‘Then who?' The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said: Then your father. [Bukhari and Muslim]

A man should not use this hadith wrongly in order not to cause injustice to his wife. The fact that the shari'ah instructs him to do more good to his mother does not mean that he should abandon or turn his wife or wives to slave(s). He should treat his wife well and he should maintain justice if there is any dispute with his mother and his wife. If his mother is wrong on some issues, he should humbly point out her mistakes, ditto to the wife. Allah says in Suratun Nisaa': 

O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted.* [Q4:135, Saheeh International]

Wife Living Close to Mother In-Law

It is a big issue when both the mother in-law and the wife live together in the same compound or apartment. This usually create a lot of problems. But it is something that can be managed if the mother in-law and daughter in-law imbibe the spirit of good character and patience. Although it is not a must for husband and wife to live with the mother in-law. But the decision ought not be taken by the wife as this could have negative meaning to the mother in-law and it could cause unending crisis. The decision should be taken by the husband based on what is just and appropriate.

It should be noted that a wife is not under any obligation to obey any of her husband's relatives, including her mother in-law. In fact, if she is going out or traveling, she is not under obligation to take the permission of her in-laws. But she can inform them by way of notification after getting her husband's approval. The provision of Q4:34 is very clear on the fact that a woman is only subject to the command of her husband. In fact, the commands of a husband supercedes the commands of her own parent. 

However, out of kindness, a wife should show love to her mother in-law and relatives of her husband by obeying them on matters that do not involve sins, provided she has the capacity or time to do it. She can join them in doing house chores and other lawful things. Doing this attract rewards from Allaah. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said: every acts of goodness is sadaqah. A mother in-law should not also insist that her daughter in-law must obey her on everything she says. A mother in-law and siblings of her husband should also know that she is only under the obligation to obey her husband.

In-laws Entertering Upon Wives

Regarding other relatives, a wife has the right not to be entered upon just anyhow. Her living rooms can only be entered with her express permission. In case of males who are not her mahrams, there must be one of her mahrams present. A woman must also wear full hijab in this case and be certain that there is no risk of falling into fitnah (temptation). It is however better not to allow any non-mahram enter upon women even if they are their in-laws in order to avoid any form of suspicion. Allaah says,

“And when you ask (his wives) for anything you want, ask them from behind a screen, that is purer for your hearts and for their hearts”*[al-Ahzaab, Q33:53] 

In a hadith, the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said regarding in-laws who enter upon women anyhow in the name of "Iyawo wa ni" (she is our wife): 

“Beware of entering upon women.” A man from among the Ansaar said, “What about the in-law, O Messenger of Allaah?” He said, “The in-law is death.”* [Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5232; Muslim, 2172]

Conclusion

Generally, couples and in-laws must be warned on some factors that often lead to problems in marriages. Some of these factors are: backbiting, envy, jealosy, anger, gossip. To keep a wonderful couple-in-law relationship, all these vices must be discarded. They are capable of setting people against one another. In dealing with relationship with in-laws, love is sacrosanct. All parties must be ready to create a conducive environment for love to grow. Without love, relationship with in-laws will suffer set back. It will not be easy for you to insult or maltreat people that you love. It is when there is no love that people tend to violate each other's right. 

From the inception of a marital relationship, in-laws on both sides must resolve to relate with one another in peace and harmony. This can be done through once in a while visitation, chats, phone calls, exchange of gifts, honouring each other's invitations to lawful and permissible ocassions, visitation during sickness at home or in the hospital, condoling one another when a beloved one is lost in line with the shari'ah. All these have basis in the Sunnah and they form part of the right of a Muslim upon another Muslim. May Allah make it easy for us to practise.

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