Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad
My husband and I live in the USA and my husband’s family is in another country. Recently, my mother-in-law had a stroke, and her left side is paralyzed, so she needs help with everything, including going to the restroom. Some people at home can help her, but they are elderly too. She has daughters who live close by and usually come every evening to visit and look after her.
Should I leave my husband and live there to care for her for some time? I feel bad because her primary caretaker is old as well. Her other son is there too, but it is difficult for him to help.
May Allah reward you for your extremely generous and positive outlook on caring for your mother-in-law. A deed like that would not go unrewarded. Your husband is quite lucky to have a wife like you.
What is Obligatory
It is not obligatory for you to take care of your mother-in-law; this would be a sheer act of charity. Instead, the obligation to care for her lies on your husband and his siblings. Your obligation is toward your husband and children. The importance of caring for one’s parents is reflected in this hadith. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Let him be humbled into dust; let him be humbled into dust; Let him be humbled into dust. It was said: ‘O Messenger of Allah! Who is he?’ He said: ‘He who sees either of his parents during their old age or he sees both of them, but he does not enter Paradise.’” [Muslim]
Please see a child’s obligations toward the parents here:
Fiqh of Financially Supporting one’s Parents and Relatives
Care of Elderly Parents is a Blessing & Opportunity to Earn Paradise
To Go or Not to Go
Pray istikhara and consult with your husband about these decisions. Some factors that you must consider are:
- Who will take care of your children? Their Islamic upbringing is obligatory and cannot be compromised.
- Is your husband able to cope with your departure? How will he manage the loss of his rights while you are fulfilling his obligations?
- Can you care for her a few months out of the year instead of all year round?
- Is it more practical to hire a good nurse for her?
- Is it an option to bring her to the USA to stay with you? And hire good help?
- Regardless, your children will see your concern for her and will care for you when it is their turn to give, by the grace of Allah Most High.
Please see these links as well:
Should I Abandon the Life I Have Built Abroad to Take Care of My Parents?
Is It Obligatory for a Woman to Look After Her In-Laws?
May Allah give you the best of this world and the next.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqida, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.