Darul Uloom Abu Bakr

Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Darul Uloom Abu Bakr is an Islamic institute of education established by Mufti Siraj Desai. The Darul Uloom serves as a base for coordinating various Islamic activities in Port Elizabeth and the Eastern Cape province of South Africa.

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It is extremely dismaying to observe the lack of respect shown by wives to their in-laws nowadays. There was a time in our wonderful history when wives regarded their in-laws as their own parents. They would afford the father and mother-in-law the same respect, reverence, and service as their own father and mother. That was an era of true marital bliss.

Today, the story is entirely different. The culture of Muslims has changed to the extent that wives no longer have such respect and deference for their parents-in-law.
And such cultural transformation, it must be added. has come about through the excessive interaction and influence of the West. It is believed that many of the soap operas shown on television are chiefly to blame for subversion of Islamic culture and erosion of marital respect and reverence. These movies that our young women watch, (studies have proven that the number of female soap viewers is higher than males) and even the types of novels and magazines they read (a famous past-time for young women) create a certain impression on their still young minds that influences cultural or identity change and causes shifting of values. These ‘soaps’ glorify the actions of actors and actresses who rebel against authority, throw tantrums and tirades, live frivolous lives, and display attributes of conceit, pride, and self adoration.
All these characteristics are not in conformity to the akhlaaq or character taught by our beautiful Islam. It’s time our Muslim wives cast off this kufr mentality and modern thinking and begin to realize that the makings of a good family lie in co-operating with her in-laws, showing respect to them, and living like a daughter would with her own parents.
This loss of mutual love and respect between wife and her in-laws is also largely responsible for marital ruin. A wife fails to understand that when she doesn’t respect the husband’s parents, such disrespect shapes the thinking and attitude of the husband towards her. He, too, in turn will lose respect for her, especially if he is one who loves and cherishes his parents. The wife needs to understand and appreciate that in order to win her husband’s respect she must show the same to his parents. The maxim of the more respect given, the more earned applies very aptly to this situation. Due to this lack of respect, a wife believes that her mother-in-law and father-in-law have no right to reprimand her or point out her faults. Then when this does happen, she expects her husband to stand up for her in opposition to his mother. This is totally unreasonable and un-Islamic.
There is just no way that a man can reprimand or castigate his mother for anything she says or does, even if the mother is clearly in the wrong, neither should this be expected of him. As a son, he is bound to maintain silence and respect. When the husband maintains silence out of respect for his mother, the wife becomes annoyed and very agitated, and then makes very scathing remarks, such as referring to her husband as spineless or cowardly, just because he has not ‘stood up for her rights.’ But let it be made abundantly clear that this is never the right of the wife that her husband should reprimand his mother for telling off or being rude to his wife. Shariah has never stated this as part of the wife’s rights. She needs to understand that the mother-in-law is akin to her own mother. If her own mother shouts or screams at her, what would be her attitude? Would she as a daughter be justified in taking offence at the scolding? Certainly not! The same attitude should apply to the mother-in-law.
Clearly, the wife’s failure in understanding this reality results in a strained and stormy marital relationship. The wife, how admirably, has made many sacrifices. She has left her parents home for the sake of her husband, and in the process disengaged herself from her beloved brothers and sisters; at times she has sacrificed the lap of luxury for a much lesser standard of living. We salute these young mothers of Islam, the future matriarchs of this Ummat. We beseech them not to spoil this lofty achievement through sullenness and petty bickering with in-laws. Embrace the marriage with a big heart; go into marriage with a view to influencing others with behaviour and morals, and not become the victim of negative influences. Insha-Allah, this positivity and pro-active approach will yield positive and wholesome results. Sometimes, results seem to take ages to materialise, but with perseverance and dua, Allah Ta’ala expedites the cherished ideals of a Believer. The day our sisters realize that making this small sacrifice will solve most, if not all of their matrimonial miseries, will be the turning point in their married lives.
It is exceeding the bounds of Islamic morality when the wife stoops to the low level of insulting her mother-in-law, sometimes in the presence of her husband. Having committed this serious wrong-doing, she is not even prepared to ask for forgiveness or apologise. Some wives are prepared to sacrifice their marriages rather than seek the mother-in-laws pardon. There seems to be no cure to such pride and ego-worship. While we acknowledge that some in-laws can be very difficult at times, and will act in a manner that exerts great strain on the marriage. Some of them will be totally inconsiderate towards the feelings and rights of their daughter-in-law. This, too, is the other ugly side of the coin. We will deal with this in another article Insha Allah. But experience has shown that cases of daughter-in-laws ill-treating parents-in-law are far more Another cause for the wife’s failure to blend in with in-laws is conceit and pride. And this, unfortunately, is directly related to the upbringing of such a girl. At times it becomes very obvious that the recalcitrant wife was not schooled from a young age in mannerisms of obedience and humility. She was not taught obedience to elders, nor was she groomed in the art of establishing harmonious relationships.
It is compulsory upon parents, when grooming their daughter for marriage, to teach her the art of living in harmony with in-laws. Selfishness, stubbornness, arrogance, etc. are all the ingredients of a spoilt and dysfunctional human being. Until these spiritually destructive qualities are not eliminated by spouses, this Ummat is still in for many decades of marital conflict.
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