Separate Residences for Wife and Parents

By Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Posted: 19 Sha'ban 1423, 26 October 2002

Q.) As part of my marriage contract a request for separate residence from the in-laws was made, as they are blessed with enough wealth and to avoid any family conflict and also to help me maintain my hijab without difficulty. This was agreed to both by my husband and his family. We have maintained and enjoyed a great relationship with the parents and go over to care for them and tend to their needs as much as possible (more so than other family members living with them). They are not old and are still very much in good health. Now after some time my husband and his family have decided the parents are to move in with us without consulting me and have now disregarded the promise in my marriage contract.

My question is, 1) Is there any regard for such a promise? 2) What is the consequence of breaking such a promise? 3) Does this mean that this would give me the right to dissolve this marriage, which I would not and they know I would not (knowing this they are breaking the promise) 4) By Shariah am I entitled to a compensation? [A sister]

A.) It is the sole responsibility of the husband to provide shelter for the wife. The shelter must be totally separated, in that none of the family members of the husband should be living in the same quarters. (Hidaaya vol.1 pg.421)

However, if the wife happily accepts to live with the husband's family members, then she has given up her own right. Nevertheless, in the above mentioned case, there was no need to make such a promise since it was your right from the beginning to be separate.

However, you must also look at it from a moral point of view.

If there is nobody else to take care of the husband's parents and to see to their needs, etc. then there must be understanding between you and your husband. However, if there are no valid Shar'ee reasons for them to move in and live with you, then your husband will not only be sinful for breaking a promise but even more severely for failing in his duty to fulfill your rights. This does not mean that you now have the right to dissolve the marriage or to take the issue to court whereby you may demand a compensation. No, the matter requires understanding and wisdom. Find out the reasons for the move. Maybe there is a serious need for it, maybe not. If not, try to sit down in seclusion with your husband and explain to him your situation. Build courage and confidence and don't give up. Allah Ta'ala will open up the way for you. And Allah Ta'ala Knows Best