Wife not entitled to know in-laws' secrets
Fatwa No: 348424

Question

Assalaam alaykum, Shaykh. I pray this message finds you in the best of health and faith. I would like to request your time to answer a family question which has been troubling for some time. You have always been very helpful; thus I come to you again. May Allaah reward you for all your efforts. My parents sometimes wish to speak to me alone regarding some issues/problems that they face. These issues involve their life problems, such as issues related to money, depression, marriage, or children. These topics do not involve backbiting or talking about someone else. As a son, they come to me for advice and consolation. After I got married, they still wish to do the same. My wife says that it is unislamic for them to speak to me privately and keep secrets from her. My parents say that it is unislamic for the wife to want to know all family matters and that it is not her right to know matters which they do not feel comfortable sharing with her. Please advise as to what the Islamic ruling on this is with proofs so that I follow Islam and not just choose a side.

Answer

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

This matter concerns your parents, and they have the right to consult whomever they wish and leave whomever they wish out of it. What your wife mentioned, that it is not permissible for them to talk to you in private and tell you some secrets without informing her, is not true. She has no right, and no one else has the right, to know the secrets of your parents.

The evidence that they have the right to these secrets is what was reported about the emphasis of the prohibition of disclosing secrets; Jaabir ibn Abdullah, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said, “When a man tells something, then he looks around (i.e. departs), then it is a trust.” [Abu Dawood]

Al-Hasan Al-Basri, may Allah have mercy upon, said, “It is treason to disclose the secret of your brother.

Besides, Al-Ghazaali, may Allah have mercy upon, said in Al-Ihyaa’, “Disclosing the secret is betrayal. It is forbidden if it involves harm, and it is wickedness if it does not involve harm.

Your wife should be reminded of what is mentioned in these Islamic texts, and it should be clarified to her that it is better for her not to interfere in a matter that does not concern her.. Perhaps if she interferes in these matters which are exclusive to your parents, some kind of affliction would befall her. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said, “A sign of a man's good observance of Islam (his piety) is to keep away from that which does not concern him.” [At-Tirmithi]

Allah knows best.

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