Islamic marriage advice and family advice

My mother-in-law and brother-in-law are harassing me

mother-adjusts-daughters-hijab

Assalam- u - alaikum,

May Allah bless you for maintaining this website for the sake of people seeking help. I have gotten myself into real trouble. I had never ever thought of any such situation in my life.

I am well aware and educated by my parents, may Allah bless them with all the goodness. They brought us up in an environment where we were daily exposed to knowing and practicing the good things and coping with the haraam around us. I am 31 years old and have been married to this loving and incredible person for 2-1/2 years and he is also the father to my 11 month old daughter.

Before getting married I used to wear hijaab and tried to pray 5 times a day most of the time. I was very close to religion. Someone referred us to my now in-laws and the families met and we got married within 2 months.

Just 4 days before that, my mother told me that I could not pack my abayas with me because my MIL (Mother in Law) had told my mother that we do not wear hijaab and abayas. I was very disappointed because hijaab was something I had fought for within my university and then office culture. It was very dear to me. I still regret leaving it behind.

Well once married I clearly told my husband that I had worn hijaab all my life but because of his mother I had to quit. They expected me to not wear dupatta on head too when some non mehram came in house as they felt like I was out-dated (paindu as what they call). I cried and told my husband that I have given up hijaab but I will not give up at least covering my head with dupatta when I am out of home. Alhamdulilllah now he has changed so much that he asks me to keep my head covered himself.

Anyways, my in-laws are used to living in combined family system, and I am also working so my MIL had a lot of problems with me regarding the house chores. She thinks as I am the "bahu" I am supposed to take all the responsibilities.

To reflect on the intensity of the problems, I could not feed my daughter my own feed because my MIL always got angry that I lock myself in the room for feeding. She thought maybe I was locking the door and ignoring the house chores when in fact I wanted to remain in parda while feeding as my BIL (10 yrs younger than me) lives with us. I felt a lot of pressure and as it was my first time feeding a baby I was not experienced so out of fear that mil would shout again I started giving my baby formula in a bottle and gradually after two months she got used to it and refused taking my feed all together. It was painful for me.

It was at this point that I started hating my MIL because my heart literally ached and I could feel lumps in my throat when my daughter cried for feed and MIL would not let me pick her up just so that I do the house chores first. Her own daughter (25 yrs almost) does NOTHING. She never lends a hand or even tried to contribute so that I could feed my daughter.

Those painful days passed any ways and meanwhile my relationship with my husband was damaged to the extent that I was considering taking my daughter and going to Lahore in 'women shelter homes' (dar ul aman). My husband never accepted that his mother was doing anything wrong to me. He never recognized my hardships living with his mother and family. I felt like I was a maid who had to give birth to his child and then not touch her without permission of his mother. I felt degraded and insulted not only by his mother but also him. He slapped me on my face and hit me on several occasions when I angrily said that his mother is doing me wrong and doesn't let me touch or feed my baby.

MIL knew that we had fights because of her but she never sympathized or felt guilty and I hated her so much that I did not want to see her face. So after 2 years of all the emotional abuse by my MIL and physical abuse by my husband my heart pumped hate for both of them on every beat and one day when she again started getting furious because it was Eid-ul-fitr second day and I wanted to go to my mother's place and she wanted me to do the cooking and all and then go, which would leave only one hour to spend with my family, I exploded and for the first time spoke before her. My husband was also shocked because he had never expected this from me. I told her that she is wrong and then I told my husband that I will not take this abuse anymore and I want a divorce.

He for the first time then confronted his mother and told his parents that I was their DIL and not a maid that she starts fighting and screaming on a single house chore undone. He also talked on how my Sister In-Law (SIL) does nothing and also told them that we will live in a separate place if they do not hire a maid and keep treating me this way. I was thankful to him and told him that leaving parents is not what I want from him. So, I said sorry to his mother that I answered her back and gradually things started improving between three of us except my SIL. My husband and I stopped talking to her at all because it was because of her that day, that the problem had gotten to this level.

My MIL now understands that I am aware of how she wrongs me and that I will not take more wrong from her and have limits to my patience. So she is not that much controlling now. I still do all the house chores willingly and fully and have compromised to all the things as this was affecting my relationship with my husband.

But suddenly, something has gotten into my BIL. During all this time, he was not someone I noticed or had issues with. I have always maintained decent distance with him. I never shake hands with the baligh males of the family. I always thought that my BIL also maintains the same distance which is good for all of us and never felt uncomfortable with him around.

I had started taking him as a little brother, but with proper distance and dupatta, although I do not cover my head in home. It’s practically very difficult to do all the house chores with hijaab on when there is no one to even help out. Mainly in kitchen I don’t wear the dupatta sometimes when I am cooking, but while doing dishes I wear it as my Father In-Law (FIL) and BIL come to get glass or water or anything. Most Saturdays my husband is at work and my MIL and FIL go out in the evening for like 4-5 hours to pick my SIL and then shopping. I am alone with BIL and my daughter at home and I am mostly busy with daughter or house chores. And when I am free, I remain in room and lock the door from inside. I have an attached bath so this keeps my privacy.

I always tried my best to spread dupatta even during house chores if he was ever around. It was Saturday and I was alone doing things. I had just come to my room and was cleaning as we had guests expected on eid-adha first day. Unfortunately, I forgot to lock my door and I realized this when I heard some sound in the kitchen. I kept vacuuming because there was a lot to do and did not lock the door. It was open an inch or two for air. Someone could see only if they intentionally looked in through it, and this, I was not expecting from my BIL. I realized that my clothes during that were not appropriate but because I was in my own room, I ignored and kept on working. This was my mistake because I should have locked the room as always or should have put on a duppatta but I failed to think wisely at that time.

My BIL after a few minutes knocked on the door, I took a dupatta, asked him what it was and he opened the door while staying out of room. I do not ask him to come inside as I don't think its appropriate even if there are members in the home. He said he had made "mango delight" and wanted to give some to my daughter and asked me to taste how it was. He usually makes things and offers and I find saying no to food offerings from anyone rude, so I always go and taste it and tell him its good and come back to my room. We never have indecent communication and I keep my distance and modesty at all times when I know he is around. So this Saturday, I acted same way and came back to my room, and this time locked my room. I had to bathe so I gave my daughter toys and went in with door open while the room door was locked and I kept singing rhymes to daughter because she cries a lot if she realizes that she is alone in room.

My husband arrived and knocked on the door...I was cleaning the washroom so I went and opened the door. I asked him to look after our daughter so that I can take a shower. He started playing with her so I went back and locked the door now. I was getting ready to take the shower when I heard some sound on the bathroom window. So that you know, my bathroom is on the most corner of the house. It has just one small window which I also use to keep the brushes and other things as there isn't enough space. The window opens to a very narrow corridor, we live on first floor so there are no cats or people here. The house on the back is 3 stories so there is no neighbor window or terrace here just the high concrete wall. This corridor is almost useless closed space and hardly one person can go at a time to check the water heater on the other end, having only one door which is in our kitchen. If we take shower or on the tap, anyone in the kitchen knows that someone is in the washroom but the window is a bit high that I have to stand on my toes to look out of it. So, there is no chance that anyone can see me when I am in there.

Anyways, I heard a noise like scratching in the window so I turned back to look unconsciously, I stood there for second, and then when I realized what it was, I screamed out loud and called my husband. I had seen a mobile touching the windows net and realized that someone was making my video! I screamed to my husband that someone is out in the corridor. He got confused and instead of looking out he ran to the bathroom and asked me to open the door. Till then the mobile had disappeared and I heard someone running in the corridor. In a flash I had images of some kid running with the mobile and I thought maybe someone had found a way to climb down the high wall and had been making my video.

On this thought I immediately raised myself and looked out of the window to see the culprit and was shocked to see my BIL go in to the kitchen. It was him, he was making my video and Allah knows how many times he did this or was this is his first time. My husband was knocking on the door continuously so I grabbed the towel and opened the door. I was trembling and crying and I couldn't speak a word. He kept on asking what it was and I only said that I felt like there was someone out there but couldn't tell him what really had happened.

I did not tell him anything that day as i feared the consequences. If I had told him at that time, I know he would have believed me but I feared he might kill his brother.

I decided to tell him the next time his brother is not at home or we get to spend time with ourselves. So he may not kill him or do any such thing in anger that we regret later. But fate had something else. The day we got the time, my daughter and husband got very ill and I could not tell him anything as we were already worried. Then, the next time I had to tell, my MIL called my SIL and husband and they patched up on eid ul adha after the last fight on eid ul fitr. Now if I told husband my MIL would say I am saying this to separate my husband from his brothers and sisters...after all, she believes in this already. Allah knows if I had wanted this I would have done it the day I saw his other son in the corridor.

Well, after the incident my BIL became EXTRA sweet to me. I became rude to him and did not answer any of his communication and did not even look at him. He came to the kitchen when I was doing dishes and I immediately covered my head and body. He saw me doing so and I didn't hide my anger for him and kept on being rude, so he has an idea that I know it was him that day. But the problem now is, no one else knows and living in the same house I am unable to avoid him at all times. We have dinner with family, breakfast etc. Yesterday after that incident I was alone again in house because my MIL and he had gone to a relative admitted to hospital. I kept on praying that he won’t come back before anyone else but he did and I opened the door to the house for him and hardly saw him or came before him, ran to my room and locked the door.

I went to the kitchen for baby's food and I was scared that he might come but luckily he was sleeping because they had stayed at hospital all night. my MIL and FIL expect that I must offer him food to eat when he comes home. MIL asked me if he had eaten anything and I told her he slept right away so I did not give anything. But this is not true, she will be mad if she comes to know that I did not even ask him food or water and went to my room. But she doesn't understand that it's haraam for me to be with him alone, and now that I know his intentions are not good, I cannot be with him alone in the house anymore.

It’s been 20 days now and I haven't still told husband and now if I tell him he may not believe me or he may think I cheated on him by not telling him sooner. He has always told me to never hide anything from him. My BIL on the other hand finds opportunities to talk to me; he looks at me weirdly, and I feel uncomfortable; he plays with my daughter and during that tries to involve me too like we used to play with her before. But I do not want to communicate with him. He might get wrong message that I have no issues with him being inappropriate, this is what I will never ever want. But there are times when I can't be rude to him when family is around. He never came before me in inappropriate condition before this incident, but after it, he walks around in the house without his shirt which is highly inappropriate and I feel very uncomfortable so I usually go either to kitchen or my own room pretending I am doing some chore. Otherwise, I have to keep my eyes down at all times. And no one in the family realizes that he should not roam around shirtless in front of his brother's wife. They do not seem to have even basic knowledge on the limits Islam has marked in hamu relations....maybe because they are used to living in joint families, which is common in Pakistani and Indian cultures.

I am very confused and worried now as I don't know what to do. If I try to tell my husband now, what will happen? Maybe BIL will defy the accusation altogether. Then I will be in a state of doubtfulness in front of my husband and maybe even the family too. I had told my sister about this and an online therapist who had helped me out of depression before when my relation with husband was not good. Both had asked to tell husband immediately but I could not. Now, I see my BIL inclined towards me but I can't do anything until and unless he takes any step again...then I will make sure I immediately tell everyone. But God forbid anything bad happen to me or my daughter. If he is so lustful that he doesn’t see I am his only brother’s wife, then he might even harm my daughter for his lust. I can't put my daughter in danger, or may be he loves his niece too much to harm her.

I don't know anything...please guide me. I have told you the whole background of my in-laws so that you know that my MIL will probably try to defy me and put everything on me instead. I also don’t want to hurt my husband. He will be very hurt when he knows what his brother has done and these two brothers may never be together again. Will Allah hold me accountable if I tell him and these two brothers separate? What am I supposed to do? Waiting for help for 20 days now...I have posted on various forums and no one has answered yet. Please help me, it's urgent.

Yours,

Sister in Trouble

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4 Responses »

  1. Leave the past behind. Look forward and be careful. This kind of aligations are not very easy to digest for both parties. Your husband may get confuse about whole this situation. Slowly and gradually distant yourself from this BIL. Keep a small refrigerator in your bed room with a plea that daughter is growing and sometimes at night time she needs something then I get scared to go alone in the kitichen and at the same time you do not want to disturb your husband too. Make extra keys for your house and every one should keep one key then there is no need to confront with BIL when no one is arround you.
    I believe that you are a smart lady, if there is a issue of food . Before he comes or you feel that, this is the situation that your MIL may ask you to serve him lunch/ dinner whatever, you just set the tray with the food and put it in kitchen and disappear. Either BIL himself will take it’s on his own or your MIL will serve him.
    Keep in your mind, in combined family system these kind of issues is not unexpected but it is your test how vigilantly you handle this situation without separating 2 brothers and keeping your dignity and respect in the eyes of rest family. DEAR BE SMART NOT EMOTIONAL.good luck

    • Sister Asma and Sister in Trouble,

      Please relieve yourself of this added pressure and stress of making sure that the two brothers don't separate over this. That is not your responsibility at all as a woman or wife. If the incident is causing you tremendous anxiety as it clearly is, talk to your husband about it. That is what he is there for. A problem shared is half the problem. And it goes without saying that you should cover your bathroom window with some kind of curtain or blinds so that he cannot repeat this. You can't force him not to harass you, but you can certainly take actions to prevent it from your side.

      Best,

      Nor
      IslamicAnswers

  2. I am sorry this happened. I picked up on a major red flag early in your letter. You stated " Just 4 days before that, my mother told me that I could not pack my abayas with me because my MIL (Mother in Law) had told my mother that we do not wear hijaab and abayas." If his family had this opinion about wearing hijab and abayas they should have looked for a girl who didn't wear them. I feel that you should have stood up for your beliefs, hijab is a protection for women. Many things that Muslims are required to do is for our own benefit.

    Since you live in an extended family household there will be some hardships for you. You should share with your husband your suspicions about your brother-in-law. I find it disturbing that your brother-in-law would film you or even intentionally view you while you were not dressed. If moving into a separate house is not possible you should cover in front of your brother-in-law and not be alone with him. I also think it is a good idea to limit your brother-in-law's time with your children especially girls. I am sorry, but I don't think he can be trusted. (Better safe than sorry) I hope things work out for you.
    Salams

  3. OP: If he is so lustful that he doesn’t see I am his only brother’s wife, then he might even harm my daughter for his lust. I can't put my daughter in danger, or may be he loves his niece too much to harm her....... And no one in the family realizes that he should not roam around shirtless in front of his brother's wife.....My BIL on the other hand finds opportunities to talk to me; he looks at me weirdly, and I feel uncomfortable.

    If we take shower or on the tap, anyone in the kitchen knows that someone is in the washroom but the window is a bit high that I have to stand on my toes to look out of it. So, there is no chance that anyone can see me when I am in there. Anyways, I heard a noise like scratching in the window so I turned back to look unconsciously, I stood there for second, and then when I realized what it was, I screamed out loud and called my husband. I had seen a mobile touching the windows net and realized that someone was making my video

    I kept vacuuming because there was a lot to do and did not lock the door. It was open an inch or two for air. Someone could see only if they intentionally looked in through it, and this, I was not expecting from my BIL. I realized that my clothes during that were not appropriate

    SVS: Your leaving door open while not dressed appropriately can be seen as a sign of invitation ..........If you can't see out of bathroom window, others who are taller I am sure can see you. You should have told your husband you THINK you saw some one with cell phone on the window without naming his brother. You know your BIL is looking at you lustfully making you feel uncomfortable, your husband should know it.

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