Question: What are the rights and duties of a lady as a daughter in law in Islam?
Praise be to Allah.
Honoring your mother-in-law is something that is to be appreciated, and no one can deny that. Rather what you are doing is in accordance with Islam and common sense. By doing that you are earning the pleasure of your husband and contributing to the success of your marriage and protecting it against things that may spoil it.
But it should also be noted that a daughter-in-law is not obliged to serve her husband’s family or take care of them in the sense of it being an Islamic obligation. If she does it, it is something that is mustahabb and is liked in Islam, and it is also kindness towards her husband. Perhaps if she realizes that her daughter in law is doing something that is not obligatory upon her in sharee’ah, and her husband realizes that also, this will elevate her status in their eyes.
The following are some of the rights and duties of daughter-in-law in Islam:
1) The daughter-in-law 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.
2) They do not have the right to force her to do any thing like, 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.
3) It is not permissible for them to interfere in her and her husband’s private affairs, but if they convince her 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.
4) Daughter-in-law does not have to ask permission from any of them to visit her family; that is not their right. She needs to ask her husband’s permission, and if he gives her permission then she does not have to ask permission from any of them.
5) They do not have the right to know the details of her life (she and her husband), and it is not permissible for her husband to tell them of any private or intimate matters between the two of them.
6) She has every right to have a separate house in which she lives with her husband and children, and she has the right to privacy, if her husband wants her to live with his family, and he will not be disobeying his mother if he allows you that. The wise and intelligent man weighs things against the standards of sharee’ah, and gives each person who is entitled to rights his or her due, and he does not take away from one in order to give to another.
7) Her husband has to honor his parents, and she should help him in that. She should not be the cause of a split between him and them. She will see the consequences of that in her children in sha Allah.
8) Her 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. Her husband has to pay attention to that. In such scenario, she must cooperate well with him and assit him in taking care of his parents.
9) With regard to her serving them and doing housework, she is not obliged to do that, but if she does it as an act of kindness towards them, or to please her husband, that will be good and you will have the reward for that in sha Allaah. This is something that will raise her status in the eyes of her husband and his family in this world, and will raise her in status in the Hereafter too, in sha Allah.
10) With regard to her living separately, her husband has to ensure that she has a place where she can live separately, but there is nothing wrong with his parents living in the same place with her if the house is big enough, and if that will not cause her any harm.
11) With regard to her life being under scrutiny, his parents have no right to dominate her life. She must try to communicate in a proper manner with her husband and reach an understanding. If he can resolve the matter, all well and good, otherwise there is nothing wrong with her 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 from Allah.
12) With regard to her shaking hands with men who are not your mahrams amongst the husband’s family or coming out in front of them without proper hijab, this is haraam. There is no obedience to any created being if it involves disobedience towards the Creator. So she must not come out in front of the men who are not mahrams.
13) It is not permissible for her husband’s family to force her to go to wedding parties or so in which there is sin. She has the right to reject it.
14) Lastly, she must ensure that she builds up the house and not break it. She must do everything possible to keep everyone happy. A woman who keeps her husband happy, gets Jannah as the reward. Husband’s happiness is also in the happiness and well being of his parents. So understand this and be supportive. Sometimes it may so happen that in the initial years of your married life, you might have to be very patient and on doing so, the later part of the married life becomes very beautiful.
The above are some of the rights and duties of Daugther in law with regards to her husband’s family.
A Daughter-in-law must understand that differences are human nature; human beings are not all the same in terms of attitude, religious commitment, reasoning and behavior. She should also pay attention to the fact that when a person grows older, their reasoning diminishes and they become childlike in many ways. She should also remember that she is dealing with her husband’s mother, and usually mothers-in-law feel as jealous of their sons’ wives as they would of a co-wife.
So she must bear with patience whatever she sees and hears from her husband’s family, and be wise in her dealings with them, especially with her husband’s mother, for by means of her wisdom she will be able to avoid many problems and she will earn their approval or at least put a stop to their ill will towards her; and she will also win her husband’s heart and please him.
Wisdom in dealings with husband’s mother means that she must speak nicely to her, praise her, pray for her, respond to her requests and be more concerned about her than she is herself, if she takes medicine, for example, or she has an appointment to visit a doctor. Gifts also play a major role in softening her heart and changing the way she deals with her.
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 Allah until we meet Allah.
The Author "Abu Isaam Imran Ali" is a student of knowledge in Islam. He studied at Jamia Darusaalam, Oomerabad for a short period of time and also completed his diploma in Islamic studies (Aqeedah) from India. He then set out on the path of knowledge to Al Madinah Al Munawwara, to learn the sciences of Hadith, fiqh, tafseer etc from Major Scholars. He completed his Diploma from Jamia Islamia (Madinah Islamic University) and is currently pursuing his studies in Islamic Shariah from Mahad Al-Haram (Masjid-un-nabawi).