Islamic Rulings On Issues With In-Laws
Praise be to Allaah (SWT). May He guide us all in what we do.
In many cultures, it is a requirement that the daughter-in-laws should live with her in-laws after marriage. This is done, mainly, to keep the family together, and in many cases, to resolve financial issues that may arise if the couple lived on their own. More than often, this situation suites the needs of the parties involved. But in many instances, it is very difficult, if not stressful, for the daughter-in-law to live in such an environment. Islamically, there are rulings that apply to such situations that I will relay in this paper. May Allah guide me in what I say and forgive me any mis-information that I may be providing.

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) warned against the husband's relatives who are not mahrams to the wife entering upon her. It was reported from 'Uqbah ibn 'Aamir that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "Beware of entering upon women." A man from among the Ansaar said: "O Messenger of Allaah, what about the brother-in-law?" he said: "The brother-in-law is death." (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4934; Muslim, 2172).
It is not permissible for her to be alone with any of her in-laws except those who are so young that there is no fear that they will tempt her or be tempted by her.
The husband must provide his wife with a dwelling place that will conceal her from the eyes of people and protect her from heat and cold, where she can live and settle and be independent. Whatever meets her needs is sufficient, such as a room in good condition with a kitchen and bathroom - unless the wife has stipulated larger accommodation in her marriage contract. He does not have the right to make her eat with any of her in-laws. The kind of accommodation provided must be commensurate with what the husband is able to provide and be suitable according to local custom ('urf) and the social level of the wife.
Ibn Hazam (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
He has to provide her with accommodation according to his means, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): "Lodge them (the divorced women) where you dwell, according to your means"[al-Talaaq 65:6] (al-Muhallaa, 9/253).
Ibn Qudaamah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
She (the wife) is entitled to accommodation because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): "Lodge them ... "[al-Talaaq 65:6]
If it is obligatory to provide lodgings for a divorced wife, then it is even more appropriate that lodgings should be provided for one who is still married. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): "... and live with them honourably... "[al-Nisaa' 4:19]. Part of that means providing them with accommodation, because she cannot do without proper accommodation to conceal her from people's eyes and so that she may go about her business, relax and her keep her belongings in order. (al-Mughni, 9/237)
Al-Kaasaani (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
If a husband wants to make her live with a co-wife or her in-laws, such as his mother or sister or daughter from another marriage or another relative, and she refuses to accept that, then he has to provide her with accommodation of her own. But if he lodges her in a room of the house that has a door of its own, this is sufficient for her and she should not ask him for alternative accommodation, because the harm caused by fear for her belongings and not being able to relax is no longer there. (Badaa'i' al-Sanaa'i', 4/23)
Ibn Qudaamah also said:
A man does not have the right to make two wives live in the same dwelling without their consent, regardless of whether the house is large or small, because this will cause them harm due to the enmity and jealousy between them. Making them live together will cause conflict and each of them will be able to hear when the husband spends time with (has marital relations with) the other or she will see that. If they both agree (to live together in one house), this is permissible because they have the right to do to ask for independent accommodation, or they may choose to forgo this right. (al-Mughni, 8/137)
He did not mean that it is OK for the husband to have marital relations with one where the other can see and hear that; what he meant was that it is permissible for them to live in one house, where (the husband) can come to each of them on her night in a place in the house where the other cannot see her. If he can give each wife a part of the house with a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen, this will be sufficient. Similarly, he could give each wife a separate house or apartment.
Al-Haskafi (may Allaah have mercy on him) - one of the Hanafis - said:
Similarly, she is entitled to a place in the house that is free of his family and her family according to their means, as is the case with food and clothing. A separated part of the house with a door of its own and facilities such as a bathroom and kitchen will be sufficient for the intended purpose".
Ibn 'Aabideen commented:
What is meant by "a bathroom and kitchen" is bathroom facilities and a place for cooking that should be within the room or in a place which is not shared by any other family members.
(al-Durr al-Mukhtaar, 3/599-600)
I say: what indicates that what is meant by "house" ["bayt" - literally, "house", translated above as "room"] is a room is the comment of al-Kaasaani (may Allaah have mercy on him): If the house has rooms, a room should be allocated to her and given its own door. They said: she does not have the right to ask him for alternative accommodation.
(Badaa'i' al-Sanaa'i', 4/34)
On this basis, it is permissible for him to accommodate you in a room of the house that has its own facilities, so long as there is no fitnah (temptation) or being alone with any non-mahrams who have reached the age of puberty. He does not have the right to force you to work for them in the house or to eat and drink with them. If he is able to provide you with accommodation that is completely separate from his family, that will be better for you, but if his parents are elderly and need him, and they have no one else to serve them and the only way he can serve them is by living with them, then he has to do that.
Patience is a virtue of its own kind.

"... Repel (the evil) with one which is better (i.e., Allah ordered the faithful believers to be patient at the time of anger, and to excuse those who treat them badly), then verily! He between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend. But none is granted it (the above quality), except those who are patient, and none is granted it except the owner of the great portion (of happiness in the Hereafter, i.e., Paradise, and in this world of a high moral character)."[Fussilat 41:35]

One must do the right thing where kin is concerned.

"and adjust all matters of difference among you" [al-Anfaal 8:1].

"There is no good in most of their secret talks save (in) him who orders Sadaqah (charity in Allaah's Cause), or Ma'roof (Islamic Monotheism and all the good and righteous deeds which Allah has ordained), or conciliation between mankind; and he who does this, seeking the good Pleasure of Allaah, We shall give him a great reward" [al-Nisaa' 4:114]