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Last Updated: 2010/09/05
Summary of question
What is the husband's duty when there is a disagreement between his mother and wife?
Ever since I was a child I have tried to please Allah and I still do, and therefore I have always assisted my parents in terms of their financial and non financial needs. Even though I have done all that I possibly could, but I still say that I have really done nothing for them (compared to what they have endured for me). It has been almost 15 years since I have gotten married. Alhamdulillah I have a great wife who God knows, shares the same sympathy and care I have for my parents. It has been a year and a half though that I have stopped speaking to my parents because of my mother portraying my wife's character in a bad way among the relatives and speaking behind her back. I know this is not a good thing to do but I have no choice. Because my mother knows that I am a religious individual sometimes she tries to misuse and exploit her status as my mother. Please hgive me advice. I don’t want to be in shame in front of Allah in the hereafter.
Concise answer

Even though parents have a great status in Islam, but every member of the family, whether it is the mother, father or wife, has his/her own rights which should all be respected.

If there is a contention between the parents and the wife, the husband should try his best not to take either’s side and play an impartial role. Then he through finding the cause of the dispute should solve the problem either using his own wits or with the help of the elder individuals among his relatives.

If he can not find a solution to end the dispute, he should cleverly act in a way to show that he is impartial, this way he can be effective in solving the problem. This is of course if both sides are asking for a permissible act (an act that is not considered haram in Islamic law) to be done, then he should try to get his parents to get along with his wife through showing his love, care and forgiveness for his mother, father and wife so that his parents and wife forget their dispute because of the love they see from him. But if one of two sides or both sides are ordering a haram act to be done the husband should definitely disobey them, even if they are his parents which, according to the Quran, are wajib to obey.

Detailed Answer

Parents have been given a very high status in Islam in comparison to their children. This great status has been pointed to in 4 different Quranic verses. [1]

The Almighty says in Surah Isra: Your Lord has decreed that you shall not worship anyone except Him, and [He has enjoined] kindness to parents. Should they reach old age at your side one of them or both, do not say to them," Fie!" or anything else that will bother them and do not chide them, but speak to them noble words. Lower the wing of humility to them, out of mercy, and say," My Lord! Have mercy on them, just as they reared me when I was [a [small] child]!"

The form by which Allah has ordered us to obey our parents in the mentioned verse and the fact that he has mentioned doing good to parents right after ordering his servants to worship Him alone, reflects the greatness of their status and therefore their children must respect and honor them and must carry out their duties pertaining to them.

The duties of children regarding the mother and father:

1- Learning about their rights and paying attention to respect those rights

In his Resalah Huquq (treatise on rights), Imam Sajjad says: It is your father’s right upon you to remember that he is your origin and that you have originated from him. If your father did not exist you would have not existed either; so whenever you feel self admiration seeping into your heart, remember that your father is the cause for all the blessings you have now. Thank Allah and be grateful towards Him. [2]

2- Being humble, kind and good tempered with them

3- Striving to fulfill their needs and expenses without having them ask for it

4- Obeying their commands

Now if a child neglects his tasks regarding his parents and breaks his ties with them, first of all he has done Qat Rahem which is a great sin in the eye of Allah and is equal to the sin of Shirk. [3] (Imam Sajjad said: "One who does qat rahem will be cursed by Allah and will be kept away from Allah's mercy." [4] ). Second of all this may lead to him being cursed by his parents and such a person has been scolded and chided in many Ahadith, and if God forbid a mother or father curses their child, he will never reach prosperity.

At the same time husbands have certain duties regarding their wives:

1- Taking care of her expenses, for example her clothing, food, furniture and other needs of life (depending on her social status)

2- Paying the Dowry when she demands it be paid

3- Being just and fair to her in all aspects of life

4- To forgive and overlook her mistakes and faults

5- Respecting and honoring her

6- Helping her with house chores

7- Not to bother or annoy her. In this respect the Quran says: "Either retain them honorably or release them honorably, and do not retain them maliciously in order that you may transgress." [5]

8- Protect her dignity and honor and keep her respect both in her absence and presence. In this regard the Quran says: "They (your wives) are a garment for you, and you are a garment for them." [6] The same way clothes and a garment protect the human body from cold and heat, a man should protect and maintain the credit and respect his wife has.

After keeping all the duties mentioned above in mind, we must pay attention that when it comes to disputes like these (amongst family and close ones), what matters is to play an impartial role and to show both sides our concern evidently, in a way that they both agree on the fact that we have been impartial.

In this light we will explain the different situations that may occur:

1- The contention has no particular cause; in such a case the husband should strive to resolve the dispute and avoid it from getting bigger by employing his intelligence and insight and playing an impartial role.

2- The cause has been discovered and the dispute has roots in another past dispute; after pinpointing that dispute he can come up with a solution for it, and the dispute at hand will automatically be resolved when the past one is resolved.

3- Sometimes the husband has realized where the dispute is stemming from but cannot solve the issue on his own; in such cases he should get assistance from impartial relatives of the family or neighbors.

4- If the problem was not resolved even after getting help from the elder relatives and neighbors, the husband must act in a way that will not end in his mother and wife being hurt or bothered, meaning that he should completely carry out his duties regarding both individuals and should try to have even more respect and care for his parents. He should ask his parents to forget their dispute for the wellbeing of their child’s life. Of course, you should always remember that in all situations, it is Allah that brings the hearts of people closer and reconciles them, therefore you must ask Him for help as much as possible for he will surely answer your prayers and help you.

There are situations were the husband has no choice but to prefer one of the sides over the other in order to end the contention; either the wife or the mother.

Here, one of two things may possibly happen:

1- The mother is asking the child to do something haram, in other words she is misusing her power and authority as a mother, in a forcing the child to make a decision between her and his wife so that he is forced to choose her side and be unfair to his poor wife. In such a situation the child should reject his mother's order and should not obey her according to the Quranic verses and Ahadith. In this respect the Quran says: "We have enjoined man to be good to his parents. But if they are (Mushriks) and urge you to ascribe to me as partner that of which you have no knowledge, then do not obey them."! [7]

Imam Ali says: "Obeying the created is not accepted when it is a way of disobeying the creator". [8]

The Imam also says: "It is the right of the father to be obeyed in every issue except for what is considered disobeying Allah." [9]

In this regard Imam Reza says: "Doing good to parents is wajib, even if they are Mushriks (Pagans), but if they order their child to commit a sin then they must not be obeyed." [10] [11]

2- The mother is not asking her child to do a haram act, in other words she is asking him to do a Mustahab, Makrooh or Mubah act, in this case according to the fatwa of the Foghaha it is wajib to obey her. [12]

[1] Baqarah:83; Nisa:36; Isra:23; Ankabut:8; Luqman:14; Ahqaf:15.

[2] أَمَّا حَقُّ أَبِیکَ فَتَعْلَمُ أَنَّهُ أَصْلُکَ وَ أَنَّکَ فَرْعُهُ وَ أَنَّکَ لَوْلَاهُ لَمْ تَکُنْ فَمَهْمَا رَأَیْتَ فِی نَفْسِکَ مِمَّا یُعْجِبُکَ فَاعْلَمْ أَنَّ أَبَاکَ أَصْلُ النِّعْمَةِ عَلَیْکَ فِیهِ وَ احْمَدِ اللَّهَ وَ اشْکُرْهُ عَلَى قَدْرِ ذَلِک‏ وَ لا قُوَّةَ إِلَّا بِاللَّه‏.

[3] Noqtehaye Aghaz dar Akhlaqe Amali , pg. 550.

[4] Imam Sajjad told Imam Baghir while advising him: "Do not be friends with people who break their family ties and do not behave properly with their relatives, because I have found them cursed three times in the Quran."

[5] " فَأَمْسِکُوهُن‌َّ بِمَعْرُوف‌ٍ أَوْ سَرِّحُوهُن‌َّ بِمَعْرُوف‌ٍ وَلاَ تُمْسِکُوهُن‌َّ ضِرَارًا " Baghare, 231

[6] " هُن‌َّ لِبَاس‌ٌ لَّکُم‌ْ وَأَنتُم‌ْ لِبَاس‌ٌ لَّهُن‌ّ " Baghare, 187

[7] Ankabut:8; Luqman:15, the verse goes on to say : Keep their company honorably in this world.

[8] "لا طاعة لمخلوق فی معصیة‌ الخالق"

[9] " اِنَّ لِلْوالِدِ عَلَی الْوَلَدِ حَقّاً … فَحَقُّ الْوالِدِ اَنْ یُطیعَهُ فی کُلِّ شَیْءٍ اِلّا فی مَعْصِیَةِ "

[10] Majlisi, Bihar Al-Anwar, vol.71, pg. 72.

[11] Adopted from Question 9455 (website: 9458).

[12] See: Question 9455 (website: 9458).

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