I left my country and came to the USA when I was 18. I married, but it was full of struggles; we were homeless and often hungry. Years later, I was deployed to Afghanistan and met my second husband, a Muslim. Right now, my husband's father is in prison in Kabul even though he is innocent. My husband has a big family, and I’d been supporting them since then. I don’t earn that much, so mostly all money goes to them. I just have enough to eat and pay my rent. My husband immigrated here and just started working but earns less than me.
I'm very upset; I want to start a family, but how? I have some money coming up, but probably I'll use it to pay those corrupted people at the prison ($15,000+) to get his old father out of there. I don't care about material things, but I'm tired of so much stress. I was in bed being sick for 5 months and no one took care of me. We barely have any money to eat.
Now I'm trying to be a Muslim, wear the hijab, and improve my prayers. I'm sending money to my father also and sometimes to my brother. My mother is in a good economic position, but she loves money more than her children. I have no one to help me. I don't know what to do. I am so desperate. What did I do to deserve so much stress and problems? I haven't even finished school because I have never had the support of my family. I don't want to give up, and Allah knows I don’t want to, but if I don’t get a break soon.
In this counseling answer:
• I would suggest sister that in sha’ Allah you sit down with your husband and discuss a set amount each month that he will send to them, one that is reasonable so you both can survive as well.
• You must maintain your own self through healthy foods, reducing your stress level as well as being financially responsible when it comes to setting limits on how much you give.
• I would suggest that you discuss all of your concerns with your husband and express that you just cannot keep supporting 3 families (you & him, your father & brother, and his large family.
As-Salamu ‘Alaykum dear sister,
Thank you for writing to us with this very important question and trusting our response. I am sorry to hear of all that you have been through and what you are currently going through. Neither a child nor an adult woman should go through abuse. I hope dear sister that you did get some counseling after you left home. While there is nothing we can do to change our past, we can make changes in our current and future lives. With that said, I would like to address a couple of issues.
First, may Allah (SWT) bless you dear sister for your kind and most generous heart in supporting your husband’s family. As you say, they are quite large, and his father being incarcerated. Therefore, I am sure it is a big expense and worry. I admire your love and dedication. However, dear sister, I also see that you are not taking care of yourself.
To give is incumbent upon us, but when it leaves you destitute and sick, it is not reasonable. A husband is required to spend on his wife in accordance with his level of income and wealth. This is confirmed in the Qur’an and the Sunnah. This obligation is by virtue of the marriage contract and is required whether the wife is rich or poor or has an income of her own or not. A married woman is not required to spend on herself from her own money”.
So, sister, your husband is supposed to be supporting you. If he makes less money than you, he still should be contributing to the household. In addition, his family’s financial problems should also be addressed by him, not you. If he can only afford to send a little bit every month, then so be it, may he be blessed for his efforts.
As I am not an Islamic scholar, but Aboutislam’s scholar says that “There is nothing in our Shari`ah that puts an obligation on married women toward her in-laws, except the general rules of mutuality, kindness, courtesy, and respecting elders”. So, as we can see sister, this is not your obligation. If you were very wealthy, then yes, I could see where you would be able to support your husband’s large family. However, this is not the case.
Furthermore, “The duty required of sons with respect to the financial support of their parents is to provide them with what is reasonable according to their means. A son of moderate means cannot be expected to provide his parents with the same standard of living as a much wealthier son.” The keywords here for your husband are “according to his means”. As much as it pains your heart to see his family in need, the truth is, you cannot afford to keep supporting them, nor should you have to bail his father out of jail. If it is necessary, perhaps your husband and you can look into an Islamic organization that does charity work for families in Afghanistan as well as legal assistance via international groups so they may help his family.
I understand your pure heart, your compassion and wanting to help – so does Allah (SWT), more so than anyone! Allah knows our deepest desires and intentions. Therefore, your inability to keep this up (giving all your income) is most assuredly understood. In sha’ Allah, once you put this responsibility into your husband’s hands, you will be able to rest your mind, find peace, and begin to live with less stress, hardship, and worry.
You are within your rights to want to live without worrying about becoming homeless again, as well as wanting to be able to have a child and reap some of the benefits from your hard work. May Allah bless you sister for all that you have done, as well as for contributing to the household bills as your husband makes less money than you.
While marriage is a beautify thing, it is not meant to make slaves of us by forcing us to take on the responsibility of not only a husband but a large family and a legal issue. Putting yourself in a state of poverty, sickness, and depression by giving all of your earnings to his family, or worrying about if you will be able to, is not what we are to do. I would suggest sister that in sha’ Allah you sit down with your husband and discuss a set amount each month that he will send them, one that is reasonable so you both can survive as well. Again, if you were wealthy, I would not be saying this, for it is good to give to others, especially our families, but you are not.
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Additionally, I would also like to ask you, when you were sick in bed, with barely any food and no one to take care of you, where was your husband, or your father, or brother? You should not be sick, alone and destitute. If your husband was there, he should have taken care of you. The same goes for your family.
So again, with your limited finances, I would suggest to only send to your father and brother what you can afford. You must maintain your own self through healthy foods, reducing your stress level as well as being financially responsible when it comes to setting limits on how much you give. Perhaps, later in life when your husband is making more money, in sha’ Allah, you can give more, but right now dear sister, you need to take care of yourself so that it does not continue to affect your health.
I would suggest that you discuss all of your concerns with your husband and express that you just cannot keep supporting 3 families (you & him, your father & brother, and his large family). I would also discuss with him your hopes of having a child and being able to live without fear of abject poverty as you are working very hard and sacrificing as well. Ask for his input and help in the matter sister as he is your husband and head of the household. However, he cannot force you to give all your income to his family, nor use your lump sum of money to bail his father out of prison. Suggest to him other organizations that may be able to assist with his family’s needs. There are many in the USA.
I would also suggest that you keep whatever money you are getting as a lump sum, as you may need it someday should your finances suddenly stop or decrease.
Draw close to Allah through prayer, du’aa’, reading Qur’an as well as building up your social life with your Muslim sisters. We all need balance in our lives sister; we need joy, supportive friends and family, as well as a sense of peace, safety, and security. I am making du’aa’ that Allah (SWT) grants you ease, and you are able to balance all things – especially your finances.
Please let us know how you are doing sister. You are in our prayers.
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.