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Husband’s Priority: Wife or Parents?

02 November, 2016
Q As-salamu `alaykum. After marriage, what should the husband’s priority be? Is it the wife who is completely dependent on him or his parents? Am I wrong in asking my husband to live separately but close to his parents? Does Islam preach that we live in a joint family?


Wa`alaykum as-salamu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear sister, thanks a lot for your question which reflects your care to have a clear view of the teachings of Islam. Allah commands Muslims to refer to people of knowledge to become well acquainted with the teachings of Islam in all aspects of life.

It should be clear that there is no conflict between the wife’s right to have a separate house and the husband’s dutifulness to his parents. It is incumbent on the husband to be dutiful to his parents and take care of their needs. At the same time, the wife has the right to ask for a separate house and there is nothing wrong with moving to a separate house if the husband still takes care of his parents.

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However, if their health requires someone to look after them all the time, the parents may have to move in with the son (perhaps temporarily). Or perhaps the siblings could take turns staying with the parents, or the parents could stay with one of their children.

In his response to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states,

A person’s duty towards his parents comes second only to his duty towards Allah. Allah Almighty says, “Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him, and that you shall render utmost kindness to your parents.” (Al-Israa’ 17:23)

This, however, does not mean that he can be neglectful or complacent of his duties towards his spouse and children. A Muslim ought to balance his duties towards his wife and children with those that he owes towards his parents and other blood relations. Since Islam is a religion of balance, one is supposed to balance both these duties.

You are not asking too much of your husband if you insist that he provides for you and your children separate living quarters close to his own parents, so long as he can financially afford it. By doing this, he is not in any way disobeying his parents. He needs not listen to his parents should they object to this arrangement, especially if the wife does not feel comfortable about living with them, for his duty to provide his wife with her own personal space supersedes his duty to please his parents in this matter.

Having said this, I must point out that he can never be remiss in his filial duties. Finding you a living quarter close to theirs so that they can call on him any time is an ideal compromise.

Again, I must also advise you never to set yourself up as a rival with his parents in competing for your husband’s love and attention. As a Muslimah, you should encourage your husband to keep good relations with his parents. Your husband may do well to know that he needs to balance his commitment towards his parents with his commitment towards you and your children. He is never allowed to sacrifice one for the other.

Allah Almighty knows best.

Excerpted, with slight modifications, from