Wife not obliged to serve in-laws or live with them
Fatwa No: 323608

Question

Assalaamu alaykum. I have a question. My husband's younger brother is not married, so my mother-in-law wants to find a wife for him, the problem is that he lives in Europe and does not have money to move to his country. So my mother-in-law wants to find a wife for him, but this wife is going to stay in their country and live with my mother-in-law and clean and cook for her and do other things. The wife is never going to move to her husband in Europe, and her husband can maybe only come to see her once a year. Is this allowed in islam? Is one allowed to marry with the intention that the wife will live with her mother-in-law and become her servant and that the husband only comes once a year. When i give islamic advice to my husband or his family, they do not want to listen, they say they that follow their tradition (that the sons' wives are like servants and have very dificult marriages because of the mother-in-law). They do not follow Islam but traditions. Please give your advice.

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. 

A wife is not Islamically obligated to serve her mother-in-law, as we have already highlighted in fatwa 84909. Also, the wife is not obliged to live with her husband's family (her in-laws); rather, she has the right to live in a separate house where she feels secure and does not face any embarrassment by the presence of his family. It might be more appropriate when he travels to leave her with her own family. For more benefit, please refer to fatwa 84608.

If she agrees to live with her mother-in-law or serve her out of her own free will, then there is no harm in that. The same applies if she agrees that her husband be absent from her for a year or years, otherwise the basic principle is that she has the right upon her husband not to be absent from her more than six months without her consent, as has been clarified in fataawa 88642 and 84073.

The traditions that are against Islamic law are not taken into account.

Allaah knows best.

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