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Should married children live in a joint-family system with their parents?

Sometimes, because of cultural or emotional pressures, couples feel guilty about moving out of their parent’s house after marriage. However, unless the parents are physically dependent on their children, moving into an independent residence is encouraged in Islam. Respect for personal space is upheld as a right. Hadrat Khalifatul-Masih I ra said:

In India, people often complain of arguments at home, especially between mother-in-laws and daughter-in-laws. If they act on the Holy Quran, this will not happen. Look, it gives guidance that homes should be separate, the mother’s home separate and the married children’s home separate.

(Haqaiaul Furqan, vol. 3, p. 233, 24:62)

Hudur aba said:

At times, the cause of discord in the home is because when the girl gets married, the husband does not have a house of his own and is living with his parents. Sometimes this is because the husband does not have a high enough income or is studying and therefore has no other choice. The girl should also understand the husband’s situation; due to his income he cannot buy a house yet, and therefore should live with the in-laws for the time being. However, in such circumstances, the parents of the girl act in haste and convince their daughter to end the marriage and khul‘a [divorce] is sought after the marriage is done. This is a completely wrong practice. If the girl cannot live with the in-laws, then she should voice her reservation from the outset, and if the boy does not have such circumstances, then they should not be so hasty in getting married. However, there are certain men who are still living at home because of their own irresponsible and careless attitude, or because they give in due to the pressure of the parents, even though they can purchase their own house. Instead, they cite the excuse that since their parents are elderly, therefore they need to stay with them even though their other siblings live with their parents. Even if the siblings do not live with them, however, their parents are more than capable of living on their own, but it’s simply due to the stubborn nature of the parents.

What does Islam say in this regard? Allah Almighty states in the Holy Quran:

There is no harm for the blind, and there is no harm for the lame, and there is no harm for the sick and none for yourselves, that you eat from your own houses, or the houses of your fathers, or the houses of your mothers (Surah an-Nur, 24:62).

This, in fact is, part of a much longer verse, however, Hadrat Khalifatul-Masih I ra has given a beautiful commentary of just this part of the verse. He ra states, “People from the subcontinent often claim about the dispute between the daughter-in-law and mother-in-law in the home. However, if people properly adhered to the Quranic teaching then such problems will never arise because the Holy Quran clearly states that each should be living in their own house; the mother should live in her house and the children should have their own; hence they have the permission to eat from their house.”

Therefore, they should have their own homes, unless one’s circumstances do not permit. By having their own houses, not only will it cause the issues between the mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law to end, and between the wife and sister-in-law, but it will also make the husband and wife aware of their sense of responsibility.

I would also like to add here that before the marriage, there are certain families of the girl’s side who ask the boy whether he has a house of his own. If he does not, then they refuse the proposal and this is also a completely wrong practice. Instead of judging by worldly standards, the girl’s side should look at the boy’s level of faith, because eventually one is able to acquire a house of their own providing there is love and affection in the home.

(Friday Sermon, March 3, 2017)

Hudur aba stated:

One malady, because of which homes are being destroyed and there is a constant state of fighting and restlessness in homes, is that boys are staying with their parents and siblings in the same house even after marriage, despite having means and without any legitimate reason. If the parents are elderly, there is no one to serve them, they cannot move about doing activities, and there is no helper, then it is necessary and obligatory for that child to keep them with him and serve them. However, if there are siblings who are living with them, then there is nothing wrong with having a separate home. Nowadays many harms are created because of this. If by living together you fall into more sins, then this service is no goodness. [Verse 24:62 of the Holy Quran] gives guidance that homes should be separate. The mother’s home should be separate and the married children’s home separate, only then will you go to one another’s homes and eat there. This perception of people, that if they live separately from their parents then that would be a great sin, is wrong. Some parents instill fear in their children and blackmail them as if they will be hellbound as soon as they start living separately. This is an extremely wrong attitude. Many times I have asked girls; in-front of their mother-in-law and father-in-law they say that they are living by their own choice, in fact, even their husbands say this. However, when I ask them separately, the response from both of them is that they are living together because they have to. The result is that sometimes the daughter-in-law is transgressing against the mother-in-law and sometimes the mother-in-law is transgressing against the daughter-in-law.

Hudur stated:

Most families live with great love, but those who cannot should not make emotional decisions. Rather, if they have the capacity and facility, and there is no necessity, then it is better that they live separately. This is a very good point by Hadrat Khalifatul Masih I ra that if living together is so important, then why have the homes of the parents been mentioned separately (Khutbat- e-Masroor, vol. 4 p. 570–571)

Sometimes the boy’s side is transgressing and sometimes the girl’s side is transgressing. However mostly transgression is from the boys side. I recently instructed Amir Sahib here that, since so many cases of discord have started to come, he should determine to what extent boys are at fault, to what extent girls are at fault, and to what extent the parents of both sides are responsible for complicating matters. According to the analysis, if a girl is at fault in one case, then the boy is at fault in three cases, meaning that more problems are being created because of the transgression of boys. About 30–40% of cases are being ruined by the in-laws on both sides. In this also, the parents of the girl are less responsible. The boy’s parents, exerting their sense of ownership, end up saying such things that girls become angry and go back to their homes. This is also wrong, the responsibility of the boy is to serve his parents, but they must also give their wives their rights. When this is the case, then wives generally serve the parents of their husband very well… The analysis that I had done here, if it was done in the Jama‘ats of Canada, America, or Europe, the same picture will also generally appear there.

(Khutbat-e-Masroor, vol. 4 p. 565).

Unless the parents are physically incapable of living on their own, couples should not live in a joint-family unless each and every person involved is happy with the arrangement. If a family cannot afford to have more than one single-family house, then they should downgrade their standard of living and move to separate apartments; materialism should not be made into an excuse for ignoring this teaching of the Holy Quran. Daughter-in-laws should not be emotionally blackmailed into unnecessarily living in a joint-family. In Islam, the right to personal space must be respected.

Updated on January 4, 2019

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