Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil
Question: Assalam aleykum,
My husband and I are very particular about the food that we eat. We buy farm-slaughtered meat, but do not force my husband’s family to do the same.
When visiting them, I pack my own food so that my kids and I have something to eat. We do eat everything else they prepare. My in-laws find this very insulting.
It’s gotten so bad now that when we see any of my in-laws, I am ignored. What do I do?
Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray this finds you well. May Allah grant you a way out of this difficult trial.
“Let the rich man spend according to his means, and the man whose resources are restricted, let him spend according to what Allah has given him. Allah puts no burden on any person beyond what He has given him. Allah will grant after hardship, ease.” [Qu’ran, 65:7]
Before anything else, I urge you to perform the Prayer of Need. Pour out your heartache to Allah Most High, and trust that He is the Turner of hearts. Beg Him to grant you the wisdom to respond well to this trial.
Ask yourself what you can learn from this situation. What shortcomings do you have in your character? Can you learn to be more patient? More understanding? More diplomatic? More forgiving?
Above all, what attachments do you need to let go of? It is only natural to want to be liked and accepted by your in-laws. But what is more important for each of us is to gain the pleasure of Allah.
MashaAllah, I commend you for having such scrupulousness in your deen. I pray that Allah rewards you for the effort you and your husband are exerting.
I can see why your in-laws feel feel hurt and insulted when you and your children don’t eat the food they prepare. Preparing food is a very primal act of showing love, and rejecting their food can feel like a rejection of them. Your reasons are sound, but human beings are creations of emotion, not pure logic.
The key here is striking a balance. It is disrespectful to ignore your in-laws, nor is it prudent to try to justify what you are doing. As you have described, neither approach is working.
I suggest that you sidestep the contentious issue of farm-slaughtered meat for now. Avoid controversial topics. Let your actions speak for you. Be of service to them. Show good character. Be firm on what you believe in, but do so with wisdom and tact.
Please have a thorough read of this incredible resource: Contented In-Laws.
Families are made up of so many different types of characters. When there is a bond of love and mutual respect, then many things are overlooked. When there is no bond of love and mutual respect, then many things are criticized.
All relationships take work. It sounds like your relationship with your in-laws is a very tense one, and is in need of mending.
What do you and your in-laws have in common? Can you Invite them for lunch at your home? Can you offer to run errands for them? Think of this as a relationship which needs a lot of nourishing.
When you do these acts of kindness and service for them, please don’t expect anything in return. It would be a blessing if they acknowledge what you did, but consider that a bonus, rather than a necessity. At first, you may feel very uncomfortable, and so will they, but please persist, for the sake of Allah. I pray that over time, things will get easier.
Look to Allah for your reward, and know that nothing is lost with Him. Try to view this trial as as a means of improving your character. I cannot emphasise enough how important it is for you to not be attached to the outcome. Wanting your in-law’s approval will continue to increase your disappointment and heartache.
It is difficult to be caught in the middle. Many husbands, especially soft-spoken ones, struggle to resolve conflict with their families.
Remember not to blame your husband for his family’s behaviour. Focus on your husband’s positive qualities, and the beautiful children you are raising on the deen. Your energy is better spent there. Please remember to nourish your marriage, and your own self-care.
Your husband is better off being kind to his family and being of service to them, instead of raising controversial topics which upset them. Let him build happier memories with them. I pray that in time, you will have the opportunity to do so as well. Never underestimate the power of dua, and the healing power of time.
If you and your husband still struggle with his family, then I strongly encourage you to both to see a culturally-sensitive counsellor, therapist, or psychologist. A trained, objective and compassionate counsellor can help you both learn better communication and coping skills. At the very minimum, I pray that a good counsellor will help you and your husband reach a point of acceptance.
[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers through Qibla Academy and SeekersHub Global. She also graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales.