July 11, 2003
Bilqis is currently on sabbatical, so this question is answered by Wael Abdelgawad, the Zawaj.com Editor.
I am a Muslima who wears
hijab. I am married and my brother in-law lives with us. My husband
has tried to help him in every way to stand on his feet, but
to be honest nothing seems to work. Most of the time he is unemployed
and does not think about his future and the inconvience he causes
My husband has done all
he can, and we cant seem to get him to move out or keep a job.
He is a 35 year old, going nowhere in life. I would appreciate
any advice you could offer.
- A Frustrated Wife
Dear Frustrated Wife, As-salamu alaykum wa Rahmatullah,
It's time for your brother-in-law
to move out.
Of course families must
help one another in time of need. But Allah says in the Qur'an,
in Surah 2:273,
is) for those in need, who, in Allah's cause are restricted (from
travel), and cannot move about in the land, seeking (For trade
It doesn't sound like your
brother-in-law is in need or that he is one of those people who
cannot move about in the land, seeking work; rather, it sounds
like he is taking advantage of your hospitality.
To tell you the truth,
you are not really doing your brother-in-law a favor. Because
you are giving him free room and board he has no incentive to
go out and earn his own living and build his own family (the
true incentive should be his own desire and motivation, but these
seem to be lacking). After all, if he can stay with you and eat
your food indefinitely, then why should he bother to work?
He has to learn to stand
on his own two feet and to work for his living according to the
example of our Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), who worked all his life.
Aside from his work as a merchant, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh),
by doing routine manual work and sometimes even toiling at such
manual labor as digging of deep trenches in rocky earth, set
a practical example for his companions and the Muslim Ummah (nation)
so that they may follow him and know the importance of hard work.
In addition, I am sure
that your brother-in-law's presence in your house is a great
inconvenience to you because it forces you to wear hijab at all
times in the home, and it could create awkward and un-Islamic
situations with you and he being alone in the home when your
husband is at work, particularly because the brother-in-law does
You said that your husband
has done all he can, but "can't seem to get him to move
out." Obviously there is one thing you and your husband
have not done, which is simply to kick him out.
Give him a 30-day ultimatum,
and tell him that at the end of the 30 days he will be evicted,
no ands, ifs or buts. No doubt he will have a lot of excuses
and guilt trips to lay on you. If you fall for those excuses
and guilt trips, then you have no one to blame but yourself.
Make it clear to him that you are not bluffing and that at the
end of 30 days his stuff will be set outside the door and the
locks will be changed. If you can afford it, offer him enough
money for the first month's rent in his own apartment, so that
he will have no excuses.
At the end of the 30 days,
if he has not moved out, then you have to follow through and
put him out. It may seem cruel, but he is obviously a freeloader
and an unmotivated individual, and unless you take drastic steps
I suspect he will still be living with you when you are grandparents!
At first he might resent
you and be angry with you. But once he has a place of his own
and is living by the fruits of his labor, he may be grateful
to you for giving him a push. Allah says in the Qur'an that,
it they who would portion out the Mercy of your Lord? It is We
Who portion out between them their livelihood in the life of
Your brother-in-law too
will receive the livelihood that Allah has portioned for him;
but first he has to go out and seek it.
- Wael Abdelgawad, Zawaj.com and AskBilqis.com Editor