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How Can We Deal with My Non-Muslim In-Laws?

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

Jun 05, 2019

Question

Assalamu alaikum,

Am badly in need of advice and unsure whom to approach.

I have been married for around 2.5 years now, but I’ve known my husband for the past 9 years as we both used to work in the same company. I was born a Muslim but at the time we met, he was not. We became friends and he had interest in Islam, and later converted per his own decision, without his family’s knowledge.

Our friendship changed to love, and we wanted to take our relationship to next level. I revealed the situation to my family, and they weren’t accepting at first as it took 4 years of convincing them for us to be able to finally hold our Nikah. None of his family members knew about this.

We moved to the US and we currently reside here. Last month, my in-laws decided to hold a wedding ceremony for their side of the family. My husband and I tried a lot to convince them to do marriage without any rituals and shirk, but they insisted on the Hindu rituals.

My husband tried to placate me as it would only be a week or so. No one knows yet that I am a Muslim and that my husband converted. We are back to US and we plan to have kids, but I am really lost. I never anticipated that my in-laws wouldn’t reveal my identity to their relatives. I cannot put up an act my whole life.

My husband loves me a lot and he is supportive, but he says he is unable to convince his parents about revealing we are Muslims to all his relatives. His mother says that once we have kids, they would take them to the temples sometimes. They also want to name them with some secular names without implying any religion.

My husband and I are going through a very tough time. I told my husband that we cannot have kids until he and his family are ready to reveal the truth to his relatives. Please advise me, I cannot risk the future of our kids and bring them up in shirk environment. We are both at a loss. We cannot imagine our lives apart and I cannot risk the iman of our kids.

I told my husband I am ready to live with him without kids if he is not ready to openly proclaim his faith, but he says he will try to convince them slowly over time. Do I need to trust Allah, be with my husband and go ahead and plan for kids? Or get separated from him?

Counselor

Answer


How Can We Deal with My Non-Muslim In-Laws?

In this counseling answer:

Be gentle with your husband, but firm that you do not want his family to interfere in your boundaries at all and to let your faith be known.

It is important that you set boundaries with your in-laws right from the start.

Be open and assertive that you do not want your children to be raised in an un-Islamic environment.

The worst that can happen is that they will stop meeting you and your husband, or there will be a huge fight/conflict.

You have made a good decision regarding not starting a family right away.

Be regular and mindful of your 5 daily prayers and encourage your husband to pray as well.


Assalamu Alaikum Sister,

From your post, I understand that you are in a very difficult position. You are a born Muslim and your husband is a converted Muslim, and you both have been married for 2 and a half years MashaAllah. Except for your husband’s parents – nobody in your husband’s family knows that you are both Muslims. While you both want to start a family, you are feeling weighed down by the fact that your husband’s family want to take their grandchildren to temples and teach them about the Hindu religion.

Sister, I would like to point out several things. Firstly, ideally, it is your husband’s responsibility to announce loud and clear to his family that he and you are Muslims, and that you believe in One God, Allah.

A question that arises is – if he has converted to Islam from his heart, then what his fears are regarding disclosing his religious identity to his family.

I understand it is not easy to convert and declare faith since this is a huge step.

I also understand that in the subcontinent and especially in India, the families are much intertwined. Letting everyone know about the news of changing faith can lead to estrangement from the family, and maybe even being cut off from the family inheritance or such.

However, your point of view about the whole situation is correct. I believe the sooner he tells his family about your identity as a Muslim, the better it will be for you and your husband as a couple and your future family (children). Be gentle with your husband, but firm that you do not want his family to interfere in your boundaries at all and to let your faith be known.

On the other hand, do try to understand your husband’s fears of not disclosing the religion to his family and try to quell his fears. Let him know that it has to be done eventually, so the sooner it is the better (as the consequences are not likely to change even if you conceal for now).

In the meantime, here are a few tips to help you in this difficult situation.

Set boundaries with your in-laws

It is important that you set boundaries with your in-laws right from the start. Let know that you have your own rules, preferences, and boundaries that you do not like to be crossed. For instance, if they ask you to do certain things for them that goes against your religion or even your personal liking, you are not obliged to obey them.

Do not let them step into your personal space

From your post, it seems that your husband’s family is stepping into your personal space too much. As mentioned in your post, even though they know that you and your husband are Muslims, they are trying to intimidate and exercise their power over you by saying that they will take your children to their religious places and without your consent.


Check out this counseling video:


The first step for you would be to be clear about what you want. Be open and assertive that you do not want your children to be raised in an un-Islamic environment.

Initially, speaking up to them may seem hard, and may raise a huge conflict, but it is better to face this conflict now than to regret later.

Let go of the fear of disappointing your in-laws

From your post, it is apparent that both you and your husband have a problem standing up for your right and claiming what is yours. It also seems as though you both tend to avoid conflict and confrontation. This is a dangerous sign because it can lead to a major outbreak of emotion later on. Such a thing could even destroy the relationship you have with your husband.

So, even if your husband chooses to be passive, you need not follow suit. Know that you can choose to be assertive about your religion and talk about it like it is something to be “proud” of, rather than be “ashamed” of.

One of the reasons that your husband has a problem disclosing his religion is that he may have “shame” attached to Islam, or that he is afraid of being stigmatized as a Muslim by his friends and family.

Anticipate the worst that can happen at disclosure

Sister, whenever you are overwhelmed with fear of a situation, imagine what is the worst that can happen if that situation occurs. For instance, if you and your husband reveal your religious identity to your in-laws, the worst that can happen is that they will stop meeting you and your husband, or there will be a huge fight/conflict. However, it will also release a lot of burden from you and your husband and you will be free to follow your religion freely.

Secondly, Islam is a religion of peace. Whatever happens, or whatever they do, do not break ties with them yourself. Rather, meet them for the sake for Allah (SWT), without letting go of your boundaries. It will allow them to witness that Islam is a religion of peace. And pray for their guidance.

Do not start a family right away

Sister, I think you have made a good decision regarding not starting a family right away. It is important that you understand your situation clearly and understand your husband and his family. You are the best judge of whether you can continue this relationship or not, in case your husband lingers on with the stance that he does not want to reveal his religion.

Be regular in prayers and ask Allah for Help

Be regular and mindful of your 5 daily prayers and encourage your husband to pray in the Masjid if possible. Help him understand Islam better so that he has a better understanding of everything. Last but not least, supplicate to Allah (SWT) regarding all your worries. He is the All Hearing and All Seeing. In sha’ Allah, He will show you the way.

May Allah SWT be with you.

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

Read more:

My Hindu Family Doesn’t Know I Married a Muslim

Should I Go Against My Hindu Family & Convert to Islam?

How Can I Pray When My Hindu Family Doesn’t Know I Follow Islam?




About Zainab Farrukh

"Zainab Farrukh has an MS. in Mental Health & Counseling and has been working as a counselor for over 3 years. She is also a Research Specialist working with Psychology professionals and students internationally. She has recently founded The WomeNetwork (www.thewomenetwork.com), where her goal is to help women get better at their game."

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