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Relationship with One's Mother-in-Law
Question asked by Anonymous.
Posted on: Monday, July 16, 2007 - Hits: 17170

I have been married a year and alhumdulillah have managed to forge a good relationship with my mother-in-law. In recent times however it has become increasingly difficult for me to identify what my role is and where boundaries can be drawn for the sake of privacy and my own sense of space and identity. I am very keen to know if Islam sets down any boundaries regarding this. As in I know I must respect and look after my husband's mother but surely that does not mean that I give in so much that I feel like I have no privacy with my husband. Just as the duties and responsibilities of a daughter and mother are laid down are there any for a daughter-in-law and mother-in-law?

Actually the Holy Qur'an was revealed to the Prophet (sws) who lived in a society where joint family system was not in vogue. The Shari'ah describes considers the duties of the wife towards her husband. It relates the wife with her husband and not his family. The social norms of our society are therefore different from the ones prevailing in the Arab society of the time of the Prophet Muhammad ( sws).

All the rights of the in-laws draw from the rights of the husband. One is thus obliged to respect her mother in law more than a common elderly women because she is the mother of her husband who owes greatly to his mother. This however does not mean that legally the wife is obliged to serve the whole family and sacrifice her comforts, liberty and privacy.

It is only a social issue and should be seen as such. We all acknowledge the importance of the mothers in law in the present society and do follow the norms because we intend to strengthen the family system which of course is very important. It is extremely difficult to draw a line in this regard. Once can set some principles considering one's limits and the circumstances of the family.


Tariq Mahmood Hashmi
Research Assistant, Studying Islam

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