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Newly-wed wishes to live separately from her in-laws.

I am a newly-wed wife and still trying to come to terms with my new role andcircumstance. I personally feel that my husband and myself would be a lothappier if we were staying on our own rather than in the home of my in-laws.This is not to say that I am being ill-treated but rather I would feel muchmore at ease if I had more privacy especially considering that my brotherhas younger brothers also at home. From the viewpoint of the Shari’ah, whatrights do I have in this regard? Also briefly the basic rights of the wife.May Allah reward you.

Answer

While the religion of Islam propagates the loyalty of the wife to the husband, it also greatly emphasizes on the rights of the wives. The Qur’an and Ahaadith are replete with such injunctions. Sura Nisaa (S4) and Sura Talaaq (S65) of the Qur’an specifically discusses the rights of women. In the light of the Qur’anic injunctions and the Ahaadith of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam), the Jurists have outlined 3 basic rights of the wife. – Shelter – Food – Clothing The above are the basic necessities of every living individual. However, since the domestic duties (nurturing of the children and caring for the husband) will occupy the wife fully, it is now Fardh and the sole responsibility of the husband to provide the wife with the above three necessities. Just as it is Fardh for the husband to read Salaat and to fast, it is also Fardh to fulfill the rights of the wife. Just as it is a major sin to be negligent towards the rights in Salaat and fasting in Ramadhaan, so too it is a major sin to be negligent towards the rights of the wife. If a person treats the injunctions of Salaat and fasting lightly, it leads to Kufr, so too if he treats the injunctions of the rights of the wife lightly. Allah Ta’ala says in the Qur’an Kareem ‘And provide them shelter where you stay and do not harm to frustrate them’. (S. 65 V. 6) When a man divorces his wife, he must provide her shelter during her Iddat. Even when the marriage has deteriorated, the husband has to provide her shelter. How much more important it is upon him to fulfill the obligation during the normal marriage period. The verse clearly indicates that the husband must provide shelter for the wife. This is to protect her belongings and her privacy. However, the Jurists have mentioned that the financial situation of both partners be taken into consideration in fulfilling her rights. If the husband and the wife (her parents) are of a financially high class, then the wife is entitled to a completely separate house. If they are of a financially middle class, then she is entitled to an apartment that is a room in a house with separate kitchen, toilet and bathroom. If they are of a financially low class, then the wife is only entitled to a separate room. It is not permissible for any person of the house to enter her room without her consent. She is not entitled to a private kitchen, toilet and bathroom. She will have to share these facilities with the other members of the house (Shami Vol. 2). Since the financial situation of every individual differ according to his income, expenses, etc. therefore it is difficult to precisely specify a ruling without intimate knowledge of the financial situation of the specific case. Every individual must fear Allah Ta’ala, understand his obligation and fulfill it accordingly. The husband will be answerable to Allah if he failed in carrying out his duty in fulfilling the rights of the wife. If the husband is of a high or middle financial ranking, he cannot impose upon his wife to stay in the same house of the parents. If she stays with them on her own wish and accord then it is her choice. Especially cases where the parents are very emotionally attached to the son (or grandchildren) or are in need of the Khidmat (care) of the son; should the wife make a personal sacrifice, she will then receive great reward. However, she cannot be compelled. And Allah Knows Best. Mufti Ebrahim Desai

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This answer was collected from Askimam.org, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Ebrahim Desai from South Africa.

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