MBH QnA Corner
Your Questions - August, 2017

After my marriage, I went to my in-laws, I was unaware of the domestic affairs due to which our in-laws and I had many fights, especially with the mother-in-law. In such situations what is my responsibility and the responsibility of my in-laws?

I would like to know regarding this.

Answered by: Shaykh Zafar ul Hasan

"Whosoever will tread the path of knowledge, Allah will make his ways to Jannah easy (through his learning)"

[Sahih Bukhari, Vol I, Hadith no. 10]

Domestic duties cover a lot of areas from the art of sweeping, washing utensils and using the washing machine correctly to adjust with the lifestyles of in-laws and treating them gently and all within the peripheral of obedience and serving husband. In such situations there is a long term conflict between the daughter in law and mother in law if the matter is not handled delicately.

In the Indian subcontinent it was a norm that every mother used to train her daughters the skills of running kitchen and maintaining houses. But in today’s times many girls get married either in the midst of their college life or before they learn home-management. The tight study schedule and institutional assignments prevented them to give time and attention to learn even the basics of kitchen management.

In many cases the in laws are well aware of the girl’s inability in domestic skills but they would insist for a timely marriage and assure that they would be training their daughter (in-law) the way they have trained their own daughters. But things do not happen as promised and bitterness begin to grow.

Teaching a daughter in law is a sawab e jariya

When the new bride arrives she comes with a lot of hopes of serving her in laws and dreams of turning the house into a garden of joy. Here it is essential that if the bride is unaware and untrained of duties then she should be given training with gentleness. If the in-laws knew it in advance about her inability and then they taunt her for being ignorant then they are committing a sin.

First facilitate training instead of blaming and punishing harshly

A man from Yemen wanted to meet the Prophet (peace be upon him) but when he announced before his family his desire to go to Madinah, most of his women folk got ready to go along with him to meet the Prophet (peace be upon him). So they left for Madinah and before they could reach the city they ran out of food and water.

It was a hot day and the travelers were tired. The man saw a garden with date palms all around its border. He went in to look for the owner but he did not find anyone. This man was a Muslim but he did not get a chance to learn Deen. He plucked dates from the garden without seeking the permission of the owner. After eating he collected dates to carry it for his womenfolk who were waiting.

It was then the owner of the garden arrived and got angry upon seeing the man taking dates. He slapped him angrily for his theft and asked him to carry the whole bundle on his head all the way to Masjid e Nabwi in order to report to the Prophet (peace be upon him). The owner of the garden put his complaint before the prophet and asked for the traveler’s hands to be cut off as a punishment for stealing.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) called upon the traveler and asked him gently why did he steal? The man narrated his reason for traveling all the way from Yemen and how he had a team of womenfolk along with him and how they ran out of food and water. He concluded that he was hungry so he ate and was carrying some for his womenfolk.

The Verdict of the Prophet (peace be upon him), an excellent case study

Here was a man who was a Muslim but unaware of rules and laws. He was a traveler and along with his family he was hungry too. The prophet’s verdict is an exemplary case study of how to deal with people who are untrained or lack knowledge. He said to the owner of the garden, “You committed injustice with this man. If he was unaware of law then you should have taught him.If he was hungry you should have fed him.”

The first mistake of the owner of the garden was that he did not teach the traveler and directly went after him to assault with an allegation of theft. The first duty towards unlearned people is to educate them. Secondly, he should have fed him as well.

Teaching should not be harsh and taunting

The same reasoning applies to the mother in laws whose daughter in law is not well equipped with knowledge of running and managing a house. She should be taught. Nothing works better than teaching gently. A mother in law is a host to a newcomer in her family. Her attitude should be to teach and not to punish and taunt. There are incidents when such in laws abuse the new comer and taunt her even if they are teaching. Certain common abusive statements we hear are:

1. Your mother did not teach you how to do even a small thing?
2. What a burden your mother has put on our family!

Consequences of harshness towards the bride

The entire target of abuse is the poor mother of the bride. Such taunts damages the emotional fabric of the bride and demoralises her. Imagine the consequence if she complains to her mother!

1. All the good will that was established in the early day of relationships will be destroyed.

2. Since it was already agreed by the in laws that they would teach their bride, therefore now backtracking and taunting will be considered as breaking of promise.

3. If the bride complains to her husband the situation may worsen. If the man is wise he would endorse his wife to learn soon and be patient otherwise if the man too may be harsh against her which will worsen the situation

The Prophet (peace be upon him) taught four important ethics of teaching

1. It is a responsibility to teach if the person is unaware.

2. Make your teaching easy and do not be harsh while you teach. It could be possible that the person may take time to learn. If things are made easy then the person understands properly.

3. Give glad tidings Encourage and motivate your students. Morale raising statements really works in teaching. Encouraging words like, “ In sha Allah you will learn soon within a week”, maintains the emotional index positive. Such words makes a the learner happy. Appreciating words like Ma sha Allah, Alhamdu lillah raises your own status in your daughter in law’s eyes. Avoid scolding statements like, “it has been a week and you have still not learnt anything!”

4. Do not make them run away. The teachings of the Prophet (peace be upon him) are very affectionate with regards to dealing with those who are learning. No abusive language , nor taunts. In another hadith there is an addition of , “ Do not adopt taunted approach.”

Positive approach and attitude fetches same response

If you adopt the above advice of the Prophet (peace be upon him) you will earn a lot of respect in the heart of your daughter in law and also it will be a long lasting one. Your appreciation will fetch appreciation from your daughter in law in return. She will proudly announce that you have taught her. One of the most appreciative statements of daughter in laws that is echoed in the corridors of many good homes is, “When I was married, I did not know anything about running a house or kitchen but my mother in law taught me everything.”
Remember that a grown up and an educated person will be totally repulsive if they are scolded and insulted.

The grandmother who still recalls her sisters in law very fondly

A lady I know personally, has not become a grandmother but she still remembers how her sisters in law. He own testimony goes like this, “ I was from Mumbai and when I got married I did not even know how to make a tea. Absolutely blank in domestic duties but my sisters in law did not humiliate me nor reprimanded me but taught me everything.” Those few hours for few weeks gave a strong bonding of affection, care and appreciation for the rest of the life.

The brides should never be ashamed of learning

It is a part of knowledge to declare your ignorance if you do not know. But that is not enough, you must develop enthusiasm and interest to learn. It is very important for a woman to get acquainted with the domestic duties. It should be a concern that you are well versed about the domestic duties. You need to learn! You can learn from your mother-in-law as well as experienced sisters-in-law, and never take it as your insult or disgrace.

A person who has pride and arrogance in his heart can never learn and if you think that asking your in-laws to teach you would be your insult, then such a thought is itself an arrogance. Note this hadith: Whosoever will tread the path of knowledge, Allâh will make his ways to Jannah easy (through his learning) ( Sahih Bukhari, Vol I, Hadith no.10)

Learning from Experience is better than learning from Internet

Consider this: A newly wed bride has learnt cooking from internet. She feels egoist to learn from her mother in law and considers her to be ignorant. But the mother in law cooks a dish using only one tea spoon of oil where the bride, who has learnt from youtube or other websites uses five teaspoon of oil. Quite amusingly, the mother in law would think that the bride is wasting a large amount of oil where as the daughter in law thinks that her mother in law is ignorant and she has a better source of learning. Thus she would not be ready to learn from her in laws.

Real Scholars learn even from ignorants if it is truthfully taught

There was a well known Arab scholar who was a victim of logic and philosophical ideology in his days of deviation. Once he was traveling in a village of Egypt where he passed by a farm. There was a farmer ploughing his field. The moment the farmer saw the traveler he identified him as a religious scholar so he went to him and greeted him. The scholar then started chatting with him and asked him if the farmer was educated. The farmer said, “I have learnt only this, my cattle moves ahead and I follow it.”

The scholar got upset and scolded him “ You are doomed for being an ignorant.” He then asked the farmer, "Where is Allâh?.” The (farmer) picked up the stick from which cattle is beaten and left ploughing and exclaimed, “ Dishonest man! You do not know where Allâh is?” The scholar had studied logic and philosophy. His belief was, ‘Allâh is everywhere’. Whereas that ignorant (farmer) was plainly simple, upon natural belief. He harboured the belief about where Allâh is, above the seven heavens.

As soon as the (scholar) asked, ‘ Where is Allah’? The farmer exclaimed: Nullifidian! I considered you as a learned man. Where is Allâh !You do not even know this?
The scholar responded by saying I know!
The farmer asked: Where?
The scholar answered: Everywhere.
The farmer responded: There is none ignorant than you. Allâh is above the Heavens.
The stunned scholar while holding his head said, “Forbid! Logic and philosophy has ruined my belief. This ignorant set my belief straight.” Then he repented.

The scholar corrected his belief, repented and throughout his life he remembered this farmer in his prayers and said, "Through this rural, wild farmer Allâh blessed me with the belief in Tawheed (Oneness of Allâh).The farmer did not study logic and philosophy. We studied much logic and philosophy and wandered in darkness”

You should not rely upon the knowledge merely picked from books and internet. Rely upon them less and learn from human experiences and teachers.

These are few advices of daughters-in-law and mothers-in-law, that if they keep their own behavior in check, then the affairs of both the parties will set aright. There will be no misunderstanding and tension in the family.