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Last Updated: 2012/04/14
Summary of question
I live outside of Iran, my elderly mother resides in Iran and is facing problems related to old age that have made her restless and agitated. Is it a sin to leave my spouse to go and be with my elderly mother so that I can arrange for her comfort during her old age? However, I fear that as a result of my absence, my spouse may fall into sin, what is my duty?
question
I live outside of Iran; my mother who is aged, resides in Iran. She is facing problems related to old age and is restless. In addition, other problems are also causing her discomfort. Is it a sin to leave my spouse to go and be with my elderly mother so that I can arrange for her comfort during her old age? Though I myself am anxious due to the thought of my spouse falling into sin as a result of being alone. What is the religious ruling in regards to this? God be with you.
Concise answer

The office of the Grand Ayatullah Khamenei:

The cases differ.

The office of the Grand Ayatullah Sistani:

The rights of a wife, such as: the right for intercourse or the right to sharing a bed [with the spouse] are amongst the rights that are obligatory to observe, and to infringe on these rights is impermissible.

The reply of Ayatullah Mahdi Hadavi Tehrani:

Determining your duty in the above mentioned case is dependent upon the condition of your mother, yourself, and your spouse.

  1. If leaving the spouse will result in them falling into sin, then it is not allowed [to leave them].
  2. If abandoning your mother will cause her serious harm, it is not allowed [to abandon her].
  3. If your situation is such that abandoning your mother will cause her serious harm, and leaving your spouse will result in her sinning and you have no choice but to pick one of the two options, then you are free to pick either of them. Although, it is preferable and better to take care of your mother, this may even be your decisive duty. Hence, it is an obligatory precaution that you do what is necessary to stop any serious harm from reaching your mother.
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