Her brother-in-law is living with them in the same house
Fatwa No: 127911

Question

Assalamulaikum. I have been married for 3 years now and my mother-in-law and brother-in-law are living with us in our house. According to Islam my brother in law is not mahram to me; He is 3 years older than me (30yrs old) and unmarried as yet. His personality is that he keeps to himself most of the time, so we hardly interact with eachother. However i dont feel comfortable with him being in the house. He makes alot of mess in the house. He does not contribute towards the house shopping or towards any bills. When we do the weekly shopping i buy meat for the whole week. But for some reason my brother in law has been waking up in the middle of the night and has started cooking a curry for himself using the meat that i had washed and frozen. He makes a lot of mess and stinks up the whole house. I feel like he has invaded my private space because a kitchen is a womans special area in the house. My husband is aware of the things that he does which end up annoying me and when he tells his brother not to do these things my mother in law makes a big issue out of things. I'm not sure if i am in the right or in the wrong. Am i just feeling uncomfortable for no reason? Is it within my rights to ask my husband to speak to his brother about possibly living somewhere else? Please could you shed some islamic light onto the situation.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

 

We have already issued Fatwa 84608 clarifying that the wife has the right to have an accommodation with separate amenities and that she is not obliged to live with her in-laws in the same house that is not separate. Rather, it is not permissible for non-Mahrams to live with her, like the brother of the husband. ‘Uqbah ibn ‘Aamer  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him narrated that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: "Beware of entering upon marriageable women." A man from the Ansaar remarked: "O! Messenger of Allaah, what do you say about the male in-law (the woman's husband's male relative like his brother, uncle, cousin, etc)?’ He replied: “He is death itself (i.e. his seclusion with her is as serious and dangerous as death)." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

This means that an in-law should be feared more than other non-Mahram men, and evil and affliction is expected from him more than anyone else, as he may be in seclusion with the woman without anyone denying this from him, contrarily to a stranger. An in-law is the narration means the male relatives of the husband other than his father, grandfather and children.

Therefore, you are right in your position and feeling uncomfortable is a sound reason. Hence, it is permissible for you to ask your husband to try to solve the problem with his brother, like looking for another accommodation for him, or prepare a part of the house to be a separate accommodation for him and so forth. However, we advise you to be soft and lenient when discussing the matter with your husband.

Allaah Knows best.

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