Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil
Question: Assalam aleykum,
A few months ago, my sister-in-law started trouble with me through my father-in-law. She started to bring up “problems” I was unaware of. I was being accused of disrespecting her in her own home. I am very dumbfounded about this. My sister-in-law never spoke to me about any issues that she made have had with me. This situation caused a huge argument between me and my husband.
Since that incident, I have not visited her. Is this wrong for me to do this?
Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for seeking out an answer which pleases him. Please forgive me for the delay.
Narrated Anas: Allah’s Messenger (upon him be blessings and peace) said, “Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one. People asked, “O Allah’s Messenger (upon him be blessings and peace)! It is all right to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor?” The Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace) said, “By preventing him from oppressing others.” [Bukhari]
It sounds like your sister-in-law is very unhappy, and is acting out in ways to seek attention and validation. May Allah make this easier on you, your family, and may He grant her lasting shifa.
Islam calls you to respond with good character, regardless of the other party. Look at this as an opportunity for growth.
I am sorry to hear that your husband did not stand up for you. This is hurtful, and an added stress for you. Good men such as your husband are often caught in the middle of family difficulties, and do not know how to respond.
You are wise to not bring up the topic of his sister, head-on. Deal with this issue using a lot of tact and wisdom. Be the better person, especially given the fact that your sister-in-law has a history of causing trouble. Your husband is probably also frustrated by his sister, but is immediately put on the defensive whenever you tell him you are upset with her. Let it go, and focus on nourishing your marriage. Let your actions speak for you.
Breaking family ties is impermissible. Keeping a distance with problematic family members is permissible. Accept that you cannot change her behaviour, but you can respond with maturity and compassion.
At a very minimum, I encourage you to give her salams at family gatherings, and a gift on significant dates such as Eid.
The difficulty with avoiding difficult relatives is this: the longer you avoid them, the harder it will be to deal with them. Continuous, small exposure to them, in the long-run, makes it easier for all of you.
For the sake of pleasing Allah through keeping family ties, please make it a goal for yourself to visit her at least once every few months. A short visit suffices. Over time, I pray that her behaviour will have less and less impact on you. You have no control over what she does, but you do have the choice to respond with good character. Nothing you do is lost with Allah.
Please listen to this excellent podcast on mending family ties: Ties that Bind: Reconnect with relatives who have become distant (30 Days, 30 Deeds), by Shaykh Muhammad Adeyinka Mendes..
Tests of family are indeed difficult. Please perform the Prayer of Need in the last third of the night and beg Allah to lift this tribulation from you, and to help you respond in a way that pleases Him.
Have a good opinion of Allah. Know that He has placed her in your life for a reason. Perhaps she will help you refine your good character. Perhaps Allah will accept your duas for her. Allah knows best.
[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers through Qibla Academy and SeekersHub Global. She also graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales.