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Relations with In-Laws


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Question and Answer:
Q.   As is common knowledge there are many ahadith with regard to importance and the obligation of keeping family ties in Islam. Does this also apply with regard to all in-laws such as keeping family ties with father in law , mother in law, brother in law, sister in law, son in law, daughter in law etc. Are the keeping of such ties obligatory on a Muslim and/or If such ties are broken will it earn the displeasure of Allah Rabbul Aalameen. And does it apply to the one who breaks such ties or to all parties concerned. Also this does not create a good environment and makes it difficult for the family member that is married to maintain good family ties.
Also what does keeping family ties actually entail. Understandably the relationship is not the same as a blood relationship. Merely greeting for the sake of doing so when meeting by chance or at a function for the sake of pretense in public and avoiding the inlaws as far as possible. Does that mean the ties are broken or maintained.
Jazaak Allah Khair,
Your Brother in Islam.
(Question shortened and published)
A. The obligation of maintaining family ties does not extend to one’s in-laws. It rather refers to one’s own family. Nonetheless, a good relationship with one’s in-laws is still important as it impacts on the husband’s relationship with his wife and his children. If the relationship with the in-laws sours then the marriage will not be left unscathed.
In most relations in life, a level of patience and tolerance is required. Life is not hiccup-free. When considering the issues you have with your in-laws and how to deal with them, reverse the situation in your mind and imagine your wife in your position having to deal with the same issues with your family. The manner in which you think it appropriate for her to deal with your family is the manner in which you should deal with your in-laws
(Do note that a man's sister-in-law is not his Mahram, hence purdah should be maintained between them.)
At the end of the day, we all are human which, by default, means that we are flawed. Hence, it is to be expected that someone would say or do something inappropriate or behave in an unbecoming manner. When Allah Ta'ala speaks of the righteous, He says, “Those who give (in charity) in times of both ease and hardship, those who suppress their anger and forgive others; and Allah loves those who do good.” (Surah 3, Verse 134)
In this verse, there is a subtle indication that we will be faced with situations that anger and infuriate us, that try our patience and that we will have to deal with people who will offend us. For only if this happens will we be able to gain the virtue of suppressing our anger and forgiving others.
We should also consider that our in-laws have given their daughter and their sister to be under our care, to be of assistance to us, to be our partners and faithful companions and to be the mothers of our children. They will be the grandparents, uncles and aunts of our children who will love and care for them. If we cannot have patience with our in-laws and forgive their mistakes, then who will have patience with and who will we forgive?
Yes, there are times when the situation becomes really intolerable and to associate with our in-laws only results in misery. In such situations, a cooling of relations is in order and a superficial relationship of merely greeting and exchanging pleasantries when necessary is acceptable. But this is generally not the case. We must ask ourselves, how much have we implemented patience and forgiveness in our relationships with them?
Unfortunately, there are many people who are quick to anger and slow to forgive. Yet, the Sunnah of our beloved master, Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam was that he was slow to anger and quick to forgive; a practice that everyone of us, husbands, wives and in-laws, should strive to inculcate in our lives. If we do this, then we will undoubtedly save many marriages from the problems and heartache that they currently face.
And Allah Ta’ala Knows Best

Mufti Moosa Salie
Mufti Ismaeel Bassa
(The answer hereby given is specifically based on the question asked and should be read together with the question asked. Islamic rulings on this Q&A newsletter are answered in accordance to the Hanafi Fiqh unless otherwise stated.)
Fatwa Department
Jamiatul Ulama (KZN) 

Council of Muslim Theologians
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