Answered by Ustadh Farid Dingle
Question: After over a decade of incessant emotional abuse from my mother-in-law, and physical abuse from my husband, I want to know what my rights are as a wife?
Answer: Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
Thank you for reaching out and seeking to know your rights as a wife, Muslim, and human being. May Allah give you a way out of the suffering that you are experiencing.
As a wife, you have a right to have your own place where no one can interfere with your life and in which you are safe, both emotionally and physically.
Given the scenario you have described, you have the right to ask your husband to divorce you. If he does not, you can seek Islamic arbitration with a local imam/mufti. If that does not go ahead, you can seek a legal divorce through a secular court.
Right to be Physically Safe
Every human being and owned animal has a right to be safe. Whenever anyone is being physically abused, the abuse must be stopped. This is keeping with the legal principle ‘Harm shall be removed.’ (al-Ashbah wa al-Nadhair, Suyuti)
This applies a fortiori to the wife and children. If a woman is physically abused, she has the right to be unilaterally divorced. That is to say, she is divorced by a Sharia court/Islamic arbitration whether or not he agrees to it. (al Sharh al Kabir, Dardir)
Right to be Emotionally Safe
The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘Everything about a Muslim to inviolable with regards to other Muslims: his blood, his wealth, and his good name.’ (Muslim)
This hadith tells us that we have a right not to be called names.
Emotional harm is recognized by the Sacred Law as a state of duress [darura]. The scholars tell us that a woman who is in her post-marital waiting period [idda] must stay at home except under duress, such as ‘fear for her person, property — such as the house falling down, there being a fire or thieves about — or being harmed by neighbors or in-laws.’ (al-Anwar, Ardabili)
It is clear from this text that being harm emotionally and socially is equivalent to being harmed physically and financially. And this applies to a better right to wife in her home.
So a wife has a right to have a place to stay in which she is not under constant attack from her in-laws.
‘Sometimes your mother is your door to Hell.’
Your mother-in-law is not your husband’s wife. If he thinks she is, he should think again. If after over a decade he still hasn’t picked up on this, it is probably time to move on.
Try to have him listen to this video of Mufti Menk: Stand By Your Wife, RIP Mother-In-Law | Mufti Menk
If your marriage is to continue, he needs to leave her out of the picture and work on things between you and him and none besides.
Too much “loyalty” to one’s mother (or anything except Allah and His Sacred Law for that matter) can lead one to do great wrong. And as Mufti Menk mentions in the video, ‘Sometimes your mother is your door to Hell.’
Please also see: Doubts About Marriage
Try your best to have your husband see how he has to steer things in the right direction. If it doesn’t work, try to get a divorce.
I pray this helps.
[Ustadh] Farid Dingle
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language.