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Mother’s In-Law – Family or Foe?

Marriage is the floral bloom when two people’s hearts fuse after the fragrance of love has been added. With this unification of two souls, there is an inheritance of in laws which on some occasions, results in friction that wilts the blossom.

We often hear of problems that occur between women and their mother’s in-law. The common conception among the masses is that the mother in-law is an evil person, a “woman Hitler” as the proverbial jokes do the rounds. Regardless of what she may do, or how kind she may be to her daughter in-law or son in-law, her description remains as such especially in the view of the daughter in-law.

A mother in law deserves respect. It’s a fine quality to possess; it is never that it is practiced between people except that love and harmony will engulf them. Islam has commanded the young to show respect towards their elders, and thus, respecting one’s mother in-law is a must; this is due to the fact that not only is she an elder, but also because she was the reason for the daughter in-law’s husband being present in this world, as it was her that carried him for nine months and eventually bore him.

The daughter in-law must realize that she will eventually become a mother, and if it is of a son, then he will eventually marry, and she will therefore become a mother in-law who would long for respect from her daughter in-law. `Amr ibn Shu`ayb (RA) narrated on the authority of his father that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “He is not one of us who shows no mercy to (our) younger ones, and does not acknowledge the honour due to our elders.” [At-Tirmithi & Abu Daawood].

Mommy’s boys

Why do some mother’s in-law love their sons while despising their daughter’s in-law? Psychiatrists say that this results from jealousy. It is natural for women to be jealous, but added to this is the fact that the mother feels that this daughter in-law has shared her son with her and taken him away from her control; therefore, a competition arises. This is especially so if the mother’s only provider and supporter is this son, because his role could have been that of the father in taking care of the affairs of the household and being his mother’s protector, so the mother would feel that she has lost such an important son to her daughter in-law.

However, many mother’s in-law treat their daughters in-law just as they treat their own daughters, and are very supportive towards them and their new life; this is because the daughter in-law is not only the wife of her son, but is also the future mother of her grandchildren, who are usually dearer to the grandparents than their own children.

The mother plays a very sensitive role in the life of her children; a single incorrect move on her part could cause her children’s lives to turn into intolerable misery. On the other hand, an affectionate touch from the mother could render her son’s household into heaven. One of the many things a mother in-law could do to win the pleasure of her daughter in-law is:

Express joy upon seeing her: some mother’s in-law show so much happiness at seeing their daughter’s in-law that it causes the latter to forget about all their problems.

The solution to the chronic problems between a mother and her daughter in-law depends on the son’s personality and how wisely he deals with matters, as well as how strong a personality he has. The husband should make his wife understand that her respecting his mother is an expression of her respect for him, and that her having a good relationship with his mother will also reflect on her relationship with him. Moulana Sulaimaan Moola described it beautifully in one of his bayaans (lectures) when he said: “If a son respects his mother, his Jannah (Paradise) is made and when a woman respects her husband, her Jannah (paradise) is made.”
Faizel Patel, Radio Islam News

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