in-laws verses parents

Q: Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatullah Shaykh,

Does one need to respect one’s in-laws in the same way as one respects one’s parents? Is there a difference in a man’s relationship with his in-laws from a way a woman interacts with her in-laws?

JazakumAllahu khairan.

Time: Wednesday May 19, 2010 at 6:30 am

A: وعليكم السلام ورحمة الله وبركاته

We thank you for this query. The topic of in-laws remains a contested topic, one that opens up many doors, to say the least. Suffice to say, Allah (SWT) has given each their due.

Between parents and in-laws, parents are given preference.  Should a woman have a father/mother that needs her assistance due to her parents not having sons, or sons that are deviants,  she can in such a condition assist them to the extent that is necessary and return back to her marital obligations. Islam does not favor helping beyond the necessary should the husband or children require or resist on valid grounds. It would be futile to assist ones parents in exchange of creating havoc in ones personal family life. If her parents need constant care and she is blessed with financial resources to have a fulltime caretaker for her parents, her doing so would gain her profound reward.

A wife would be rewarded should she extend herself is assisting her mother and father-in-law. Her reward for this would be tremendous. This would apply to a man as well.

However, because it is your wife/husbands parents, also due to the fact that her/his parents raised her/him with dignity and honor, it would be the height of ingratitude to be nasty towards your in laws. Kindness is always a must. Sometimes this maybe difficult, one must make a concerted effort in being their very best.

Being kind to in-laws does not mean open socialization — hugging and kissing your father-in-law, etc. For example, your wife’s sisters (if you are male) must not be interacted with in an open (flamboyant) manner, vice versa, for a prohibition exists towards such unworthy behavior.

Anyone that you can marry after (before) your spouse’s death should be  dealt with while having dignity and appropriate distance. This also enhances your personal relationship with your spouse. Few men/woman like their spouses become the candy/toy of others unless modesty is lacking.

Living in the same home with in-laws places a strain on members that are religiously bound. We must be sensitive to rules and regulations that congregate themselves on this matter.

Allah certainly knows best.


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