To What Extent Can The Husband's Relatives Interfere In His Wife's Life?
Islamic Rulings -
Living Shariah Verdicts
Islamic Questions & Answers
What are the rights of the in-laws (the
husband's brothers and sisters) in Islam? Do the
father- and mother-in-law have the right of obedience?
Do they have the right to enter my room with or
without permission? To what extent should I obey them
with regard to my clothing, cooking, childcare,
keeping house and going out of the house? Do they have
the right to interfere in our marital life? Do they
have any rights with regard to our work, where we
live, education and the like? Do I have to ask their
permission to visit my family? Do they have the right
to know all the details about our life? Do I have to
obey them and shake hands with my husband's relatives?
Do my husband and I have to attend weddings in which
there are haraam things?.
Praise be to Allaah.
The wife does not have to obey anyone among her
in-laws, whether that is her husband's father, mother,
brothers or sisters, in any matter, major or minor,
unless they tell her to do something which is
obligatory according to Islam, or forbid her to do
something that is haraam. In such matters she has to
obey, whether that comes from a relative or a
stranger, an in-law or anyone else.
With regard to the husband, she must obey him in
matters that are right and proper, because Allaah says
(interpretation of the meaning):
"Men are the protectors and maintainers of women,
because Allaah has made one of them to excel the
other, and because they spend (to support them) from
their means…" [al-Nisa' 4:34]
Ibn Katheer (may Allaah have mercy on him) said,
discussing some of the husband's rights over his wife:
Allaah has given the husband rights and commanded the
wife to obey him; He has forbidden her to disobey him
because of the fact that he excels her and maintains
her. Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 1/493
It is not permissible for any of your in-laws to enter
your room without your permission, because Allaah says
(interpretation of the meaning):
"O you who believe! Enter not houses other than your
own, until you have asked permission and greeted those
in them; that is better for you, in order that you may
remember" [al-Noor 24:27]
If any of them enters your room with your permission
but he is not one of your mahrams – such as your
husband's brother – then there has to be one of your
mahrams present, so that there will be no haraam
khulwah between you (i.e., being alone together). You
must also observe full shar'i hijab, and be certain
that there is no risk of falling into fitnah
Despite all these conditions, it is still better for
him not to enter upon you in your room; this is purer
for the heart and farthest removed from suspicion.
Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
"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 33:53]
And the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon
him) said: "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.
Al-Nawawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
With regard to the Prophet's words "The in-law is
death," what this means is that there is more fear
with regard to him than anyone else, and evil is to be
expected of him, and the fitnah (temptation) is
greater because he is able to reach the woman and be
alone with her without anyone denouncing that, unlike
the case of one who is a stranger. What is meant by
"in-law" (hamu) here is the relatives of the husband
apart from his father/grandfather and sons/grandsons.
Fathers/grandfathers and sons/grandsons are mahrams
for his wife and it is permissible for them to be
alone with her. The word "death" here does not refer
to them. Rather what is meant is the brother,
brother's son, paternal uncle, cousin, etc, who are
not mahrams. People are usually careless about this
matter and a man may let his wife be alone with his
brother. This is what is referred to by "death" and
should be prevented more than her being alone with a
stranger for the reasons mentioned above.
They do not have the right to force you to do any of
the things you mention, such as how to cook, how to
dress or other things such as working and teaching
etc, unless that is by way of advice and kind
treatment, not by way of compulsion.
It is not permissible for them to interfere in your
and your husband's private affairs, but if they
convince your husband not to go out on trips and he
tells you to stay in the house, then obey your
husband, and be patient and seek reward.
You do not have to ask permission from any of them to
visit your family; that is not their right. You have
to ask your husband's permission, and if he gives you
permission then you do not have to ask permission from
any of them.
They do not have the right to know the details of your
life (you and your husband), and it is not permissible
for your husband to tell them of any private or
intimate matters between the two of you.
Your husband has to honour his parents, and you should
help him in that. You should not be the cause of a
split between him and them. You will see the
consequences of that in your children in sha Allah.
Your husband's visits to his parents should be on the
basis of need. Something may happen to his parents
which requires their son to visit them a great deal,
such as sickness and the like. You husband has to pay
attention to that.
With regard to your serving them and doing housework,
you are not obliged to do that, but if you do it as an
act of kindness towards them, or to please your
husband, that will be good and you will have the
reward for that in sha Allaah. This is something that
will raise your status in the eyes of your husband and
his family in this world, and will raise you in status
in the Hereafter too, in sha Allah.
With regard to your living separately, your husband
has to ensure that you have a place where you can live
separately, but there is nothing wrong with his
parents living in the same place with you if the house
is big enough, and if that will not cause you any
With regard to your life being under scrutiny, his
parents have no right to dominate your life. Try to
communicate in a proper manner with your husband and
reach an understanding. If he can resolve the matter,
all well and good, otherwise there is nothing wrong
with you speaking to his family in a wise and mature
manner. If they do not respond and the situation
continues as it is, then be patient and seek reward
With regard to your shaking hands with men who are not
your mahrams, this is haraam. There is no obedience to
any created being if it involves disobedience towards
the Creator. For more information on the ruling on
shaking hands with a non-mahram, see question no.
It is not permissible for your husband to go to
wedding parties in which there is noise and sin. For
more information see question no. 10957.
Our advice to husbands is that they should honour
their parents with regard to that which is right and
proper, but they should not obey them if they
transgress the limits set by Allaah, or help them in
wrongdoing, which includes mistreating their sons'
wives. They should discuss with them in a way that is
better and not prevent them from obeying Allaah. They
should be strong in adhering to the truth and confront
those who stand in the way of their implementing the
laws of Allaah in their homes, because the Muslim does
not acknowledge any authority over him except the
Qur'aan and Sunnah. They should also beware of those
who call them to commit sin.
If the husband thinks that the interests of sharee'ah
dictate that he should keep his wife and his family
apart, then there is nothing wrong with him doing
We should be tolerant and be patient with one another,
and we should not forget to be kind to one another. We
should speak to one another in kindness and be
patient, and ward off evil with that which is better.
We should speak well to the slaves of Allaah until we
Allaah is the One Whom we ask to set all our affairs
straight. May Allaah send blessings upon our Prophet