In Islam do wives have to cook, clean and live with inlaws?

A man who gets married should continue making khidmah of his parents (i.e. serving them). It is not his wife’s duty, if she wishes to do it then she will be rewarded immensely. However, if she is unable to do so for any reason, he has no right to get upset with her. He should serve them.

A lady recently emailed me saying that she cooks, cleans and serves her inlaws dutifully. After completing all these chores, eventually she sits down at the table to eat her share of the meal. But in that duration whilst she is eating, her father in law calls her 5-6 times to get up from the table and do something for him.

This attitude is absolutely incorrect, a father in laws cannot be so demanding. She has every right to refuse to cook and tell her husband to cook instead or find a cook. But alhamdulillah our wives are not like that. Despite such struggles, many women continue to live with their inlaws and cook for them. So we must appreciate them, not take advantage.

A husband citing these points in an argumentative way against his wife is incorrect. Our deen is a balanced one that gives rights to everyone. If we misunderstand these rights and limits of deen we will make zulm rather than khidmah.

Therefore, if you are in doubt or if you misunderstand an aspect of deen, seek guidance from ulama. Often a man wants to stay with his parents to look after them, but his wife is not happy because she knows that it is not working between her and her inlaws. He too is aware of this, he too knows that his parents are being unreasonable in their treatment towards his wife. So why is he continuing to subject his wife to that struggle? Yes, he may be the only son and with his parents ageing, of course, he should not abandon them.

But wives have rights too. If they are making life a misery for his wife then he should separate his house. Give her her own section that they do not have access to. That way, she can have her own privacy and peace. She can cook, send food and visit them when she wishes too. And when she needs her space, she can go to her section of the home. That is her right.

Instead of this balanced approach, some husbands are adamant and think that no, I must serve parents. Yes, do so, but shariah does not advocate that we give due right to one person, at the expense of another. This is zulm (i.e oppression), not the itidaal (i.e balance) that our deen calls towards.

May Allah make grant us tawfiq, Aameen.

— Hazrat Ml. Dawood Seedat حفظه الله

Above is an extract from Hazrat’s talk on 30/1/2016. To listen to the full audio, please click here.

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