I was impressed by your website - it's wonderful and you are so quick, helpful and effiecient. Inshaallah I am hoping to get married soon, but there is a problem, which may seem trivial. I will be living with my brother-in-law and his wife in the same house. Although this is a beautiful way to bond, it will inconvenient for me as I wear hijaab and it means I always have to cover even in the house. I fear I will find it hard to remain patient and alway do what's right.
My husband and I will both be studying so it may be difficult to move out but tradition will stop him from allowing this anyway, as his dad couldn't bear to see the brothers part. Another thing, my brother in law's wife does not cover so this I fear fitnaa on behalf of my husband as he will always see her looking her best but when it's his wife, everything is limited.
Should I remain patient and hope for reward inshaallah, or is there another way out?
- Soon to be married sister.
Thank you for your question! It is a very good question and one well worth answering. During the time of Rasul Allah (SAW) and even after his death, the women often asked questions of special interest to themselves. So don't be hesitant to ask questions for which you have sincere concerns.
One of the best and most comprehensive explanations of marital rights and responsibilites I have found is, "The Rights and Responsibilites of Marriage" by Sheikh Hamza Yusuf. It is a 14 disc CD collection on the topic. He goes into great detail on the reasons (from Qur'an and Hadis) behind the establishment of certain legal rights for Muslim men and women in marriage and how it relates to the totality of our lives as Muslims. I strongly suggest you try to obtain this CD collection before marrying. You can purchase it at online bookstores such as IslamicBookstore.com or Astrolabe.com.
Many Muslims marry without a proper knowledge and/or understanding of these things and problems frequently follow. Allah (SWT) and His Prophet (SAW) established these rights and responsibilities for our benefit, so it is our responsibility to become knowledgeable of them.
The brief answer to your question is that a Muslim man should provide "appropriate" living space for his wife. Appropriate meaning similar to those of like economic status within the society. "She has to have private living space. An independent room with necessary appendages (i.e.kitchen, bathroom) and a door that can be closed and separates her and secures her in her person and her wealth." This type of space and privacy are important to the overall well-being of the woman. So your concerns are legitimate.
I suggest that you and your future husband seek out this information, engage in mutual consultation (shura) and come to an amicable agreement about this aspect of your future marriage. Extended family living situations are not uncommon in Muslim culture, as would be the situation with the two brothers living together. Perhaps the living quarters could be partitioned in some way so as to provide adequate privacy for you. There are ways to resolve the matter. But "privacy" for you as a Muslim woman is important, because you cover and need to be able to relax your dress in the privacy of your home and also because the adab (Islamic etiquette) that should exist between you and your brother-in-law requires it. The free intermingling with a brother-in-law is strongly discouraged in Islam.
I hope this information will prove helpful. I also hope that you and your intended husband can arrange for reasonably comfortable living quarters. May Allah (SWT) purify our hearts and guide us all to better understanding and practice of Islam. My prayers and best wishes to you.
Subhanaka `Allahumma wa bihamdika, wa `ash-hadu `an laa `Illaaha `illaa `anta, `astaghfiruka wa `atoobu `ilayka. (Glorified are You O' Allah and I am in Your praise, I testify that there is no deity except You, I ask Your forgiveness and repent unto You).