Islamic marriage advice and family advice

What are my financial obligations to my in-laws?

Man with a bag of money

I've been married for almost 4 years now, and I've been living temporarily with my in laws since I have not saved up enough money to buy a new house. Times are rough here in Singapore and housing is very expensive, but Alhamdulillah, me and my wife have managed to buy a house and are waiting for our application results. I've not been paying my in laws rent, but we do contribute in other ways like paying off expenses for utilities and doing occasional house chores. My father in law is very upset that I have stayed here in his house. He has been threatening to kick us out of the house, and complains every time about not doing house chores (which we actually do). He also makes a big fuss for us not paying him rent for staying in his house.

Now, as a son in law staying with his father in law, can I know that is it obligatory that I have to pay rent also? And the rice and food that he bought, can me and my wife eat it too, since I am paying zakah for my wife also?


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4 Responses »

  1. As-salamu Alaykum,
    In my opinion, you should offer to pay rent. A good thing to do would be to sit down with your in-laws, thank them for their hospitality, and ask them how they would like you to contribute to the household so that everyone is happy. If they want you to pay rent, you must respect that. You should also buy rice, meat, vegetables, and other household goods whenever you can so that you are not a burden on them. It's good that you and your wife are doing some chores, too, but it is not clear if these are only occasional or regular. In any case, the short answer to your question is that you do not necessarily have the right to live for free at your wife's family's house. Some families might not mind this if it is a temporary situation, but it is not something that should be assumed or taken for granted. Sometimes the mere fact that you offer something shows good will and will cause the other person to be more lenient with you as well. Your wife should also be able to facilitate a discussion between everyone and try to mediate for the best outcome. If you truly cannot afford to pay rent, then this needs to be stated openly so that possible solutions can be discussed.

  2. Salaams,

    The technical answer is that no, you are not obligated to pay for any expenses of your in-laws. You are obligated to food/clothe/shelter your wife, but you are not obligated to do the same for her family.

    However, there is a general rule also about guests. The first three days a guest is entitled to the best hospitality from their hosts (in this case, your in-laws). After that, they must leave. If the host allows a guest to stay past 3 days, then it is considered charity given willingly.

    In an ideal situation, your in-laws would've come to you when you first began staying with them, and outlined their expectations about how long you would stay, what you would be required to do or give in money while staying there, and any other necessary issues. Then, once that is explained, you would've been able to decide whether such a living situation was truly suitable for you, or if it would be better to find an alternative.

    But none of that happened, and now there are unspoken expectations, confusion, and resentments building. I agree that you need to sit down and iron this out now, before it gets even worse. They need to clearly outline what they want from you, and you have to clearly indicate if you are willing and/or able to meet those requirements.

    For example, if they asked you to buy their food IN ADDITION to you having your own separate from them that you and your wife eat, this seems unreasonable. If you are not eating their food, they shouldn't expect you to provide it for them. Neither should they be eating food exclusively for the use of you and your wife. But if they want you to pay a portion of the electric or water expenses, to reflect what you consume while living there, that seems standard. Rent payments can be discussed and negotiated, and you always have the right to reject their stipulations and look for somewhere else to stay.

    -Amy Editor

  3. Assalaamualaikam

    I'm not aware of a ruling that you must provide for your in-laws, but you do have an obligation to provide for your wife. Also, if your in-laws are being kind enough to provide you with accommodation on a semi-permanent basis, I think it's probably reasonable to expect a contribution to living expenses and/or to the running of the household.

    Why not speak with your father-in-law and ask him for his advice about how to make the living situation more balanced; he might appreciate a straightforward discussion of rent, division of tasks, etc - it's most likely preferable to living in an environment of resentment and doubt.

    If finances are tight, you could ask your in-laws if there are other ways you could contribute to make up the short-fall; could you do extra household chores, help with some DIY, help with getting shopping in? I'd also suggest that rather than doing "occasional" chores, you arrange regular contributions to the running of the house (eg. maintaining the garden every week, doing the washing up after dinner several times per week, tidying up regularly...).

    Midnightmoon editor

  4. Brother,

    My answer to you is yes, you should pay rent. Since you have already bought a house and are waiting for things to be finalized...sit down with your father in-law and ask him how much he would like you to contribute. Maybe he is just frustrated as he doesn't have his privacy and never expected you and your wife to stay so long. He knows your financial situation and maybe he just really had a bad day. Get some communication going and sit down and talk. God willing you will have your own place soon.


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