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Cousin is Abused by Husband & In-laws; How to Help?

02 November, 2016
Q As-Salamu 'Alaykum. My cousin is married for 11 years. She has 3 children; a 9-year-old daughter, a 7 and a 4-year-old son. She lives with her in-laws, and she performs all the household duties alone. Her husband does not give her any allowance. He and his father-in-law abuses her verbally and physically. Both of them drink, gamble and watch pornography. She lives in a small room with her three children without any window. The father-in-law once touched his 9-year-old granddaughter's private part. My cousin is desperate and wants to know what she should do. Jazak Allah Khair.



Wa ‘Alaikum As-Salam,

I am sorry to hear of this difficult situation. I would first like to ensure that you know in Islam there are many verses in the Quran and ahadith (Prophet’s authenticated traditions) which emphasize the importance of not harming oneself or others and of gentleness and kindness such as,

“The Prophet () said: ‘He who is deprived of gentleness is deprived of good.’” (Abi Dawud)

“Yahya related to me from Malik that he had heard that Abdullah ibn Abbas said, ‘Equanimity, gentleness, and good behaviour are one twenty-fifth of prophecy.’” (Muwatta Malik)

 “The Prophet () said, ‘He who is not merciful to others, will not be treated mercifully.’” (Bukhari)

All of these attributes in addition to others are even more important in a marriage which should be characterized by love, mercy, and tranquility as Allah (swt) tells us in the Quran:

And among His signs is this that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts). Verily, in that are signs for those who reflect.” (30:21)  

“Messenger of Allah () said, ‘The believers who show the most perfect Faith are those who have the best behavior, and the best of you are those who are the best to their wives’”. (At-Tirmidhi)

Also, in a marriage, it is the husband’s responsibility to ensure that he is taking care of his wife and his family as the Prophet (peace be upon him) says:

 “…a man is a shepherd in charge of the inhabitants of his household and he is responsible for his flock;…” (Abi Dawud)

It seems that your cousin’s marriage – God knows best – is not serving any of the purposes and meanings above and, in fact, includes more than one kind of abuse and great sins like gambling, drinking and pornography which are all very serious and terrible. She has the right to kind treatment and safety, as mentioned above, and to receive allowance and to have her own independent home. I do not believe that enduring abuse in order to save a marriage is right, or having a father and grandfather in the house who commit great sins as mentioned above is healthy for the wife or the children.

However, if your cousin believes that moving into her own home and demanding from her husband that he immediately stops the abuse and all the other sins is worth trying, then she may want to try this first as a last measure. If he refuses to find her their own independent home and/or continues abusing her and committing the other sins mentioned, she may need to consider how to move forward for the sake of keeping herself and her children safe and in a healthy, halal environment. This is a responsibility that she will also be asked about on the Day of Judgment and that her own children will ask her about in this lifetime.

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Divorce is never an easy decision to make and has its own implications; however, remaining in a marriage that has abuse could have worse implications on both the wife and the children. We’re not sure if the sister has her family around to support her. She could maybe find work and support herself, or could ask support from the government by temporarily moving into a shelter to ensure her safety and the safety of her children. Certainly, Allah (swt) is her Ultimate Supporter, so let her make du’aa’ and pray the istikharah prayer that Allah (swt) guides her to what is best, and trust that if Allah (swt) takes something away, He (swt) will replace it with something better, in sha’ Allah. We are told in the Quran:

 “And whoever fears Allah – He will make for him a way out. And will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Allah has already set for everything a [decreed] extent.” (65:2-3)

I pray Allah (swt) will make things easy on her and save her from this dire situation by showering her with His (swt) mercy.



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