Q: I wish to ask about women observing purdah in a joint family system. I got married three months ago in a joint family system. Before marriage, Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala , blessed me and I was able to follow sharia rules strictly in my father’s home. We have no television at home, we only went out for necessities, and we studied school up to primary level and stayed back home and studied A level through online studies. Alhamdullilah, we observed right purdah as per sharia rulings in my father’s home. After marriage, my husband has given me a separate room. He has four young brothers and a sister living together with their mother in the same house.
My mother in law often asks me to sit together with all the family members including her sons when they gather for lunch, dinner and tea time. My husband remains quiet although he understands that this order from his mother is against the law of purdah and this gathering is illegitimate in the law of sharia for me to sit.
Secondly my mother in law asks me to open my face in the house and mingle with family members, talk and smile. I intend to ask the following question as per sharia rulings:
1. Can I sit in congregation as my mother in law desires?
2. Can I open my face in the house as my mother in law desires?
3. Can I talk in a voice that is loud enough to go in the ears of my husband’s brothers while sitting together.
4. Can I hear the voice of my husband’s brothers while sitting in a congregation.
5. If I observe the ruling of the house, open my face, sit in congregation, talk loudly so that others can hear and listen to the talk of na mahram, who will be responsible for these sins. As you know that a woman is weak and helpless in Asian societies.
A: 1 – 2. Observe purdah as long as there are strangers before you.
3. If there is a need then just to the point of need you may talk.
4. It is better to refrain from areas of doubt.
And Allah Ta’ala (الله تعالى) knows best.
Mufti Ebrahim Salejee (Isipingo Beach)