Honouring and serving mother-in-law

Mother-in-law asked Rabia (daughter in law) to make a cup of tea for her.

Rabia got married just six months earlier. In her in-laws house, there were four sister-in-laws and one mother-in-law. All her sister-in-laws were married, but the wayward and self-willed attitude of Rabia coupled with adverse influence of society made the household chores a big burden for her.

Rabia was busy enjoying a chat on her mobile phone with her friend but mother in-law’s order spoiled her fun-filled chatting. Holding her mobile, Rabia headed to kitchen with anger. Keeping water on stove, she was thinking: “Allah knows when I will get rid of her. I am being treated as if I am a maid.”

When Rabia came out after giving tea to her mother in law, she got a call from Yasir, Rabia’s husband, asking: Some guests are coming tonight so prepare especial dishes". She got irritated by Yasir’s call; on the other hand, her mother-in-law asked her to pick up the cup. Upon this, she murmured angrily: “She always makes me do domestic chores all day long.”

Rabia’s murmuring voice was not high enough yet it reached Atiyyah’s ears. Having heard it, Atiyyah prayed silently: O Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ! Never make anybody dependent on others! The back pain has left me bedridden.  I am no longer the same Atiyyah Begum who reared five children alone, and now I am totally dependent on my daughter-in-law. I had made great efforts to find a good marriage proposal for my only son. After rejecting many proposals, I chose an educated girl for my son but now I have realised that there is a world of difference between being educated and civilized. Perhaps, I had flawed priorities.

Yasir: السلام علیکم! Dear Ammi Jan.

Yasir greeted his mother, breaking her train of thought.

Atiyyah:  وعلیکم السلام! Good to see dear son! Get changed and help Rabia. There is a lot of work.

After freshened up, Yasir went to kitchen and asked: “How much time is it going to take now? I am very hungry, and the guests will also be on their way soon.”

Rabia: The meal is ready but what to do about the demands and orders of Ammi Jan.

Yasir: What do you mean?

Rabia: You come back home in the evening whereas I am at home all day long and carry out all her orders such as ‘doing the laundry’, ‘giving medicine’, ‘heating up the milk’ etc.  I am awfully tired now with such hectic routine. I do not even take out some time for myself.’

Yasir interrupted: If we are serving the mother by carrying out some of her work then there should not be anything wrong. After all she is our mother.

Rabia answered straight back: She is your mother, not mine. Responsibility of serving her is also on your shoulder, not mine.

Bell rang at this point and Yasir silently thanked Allah Almighty and said: If it is over, I receive the guests.

After having dinner, Yasir went to perform Isha Salah. Thereafter when he was sitting lost in thoughts in the Masjid, someone patted his shoulder affectionately. He looked up, there he found the honourable Imam Sahib of the Majid. Yasir immediately stood up and shook his hands with the Imam.

Imam Sahib: ‘Is everything all right Yasir? You were lost in deep thoughts.’

Imam Sahib had been serving this Masjid as an ‘Imam of Masjid’ for more than ten years. He did not only know the names of the Salah-offering people but he also shared their joy and sad times. That is why the Salah offering people also used to consult him about their affairs. Upon asking, Yasir shared his matter and asked for a piece of advice.

The honourable Imam Sahib said: Dear brother Yasir! She is right but when it comes to fulfilling responsibilities, people remind others of Faraaid and Wajibat whereas when it comes to getting rights, they forget everything.

The honourable Imam Sahib gave Yasir a helpful piece of advice, full of wisdom. Yasir felt very satisfied and came back home. 

The next day, Yasir was in the office, he received a phone call from Rabia: Listen! Come home early today, I have to buy a suit from a new cloth sale.’

Yasir remembered the advice of imam sahib, he courteously replied: ‘We just had gone shopping last month and I had bought you a new suit?’

Rabia: ‘What has happened to you? What has made you count my suits?

Yasir! Listen Rabia! We should avoid unnecessary shopping. Well I am getting off the phone, I am little busy here’.

Phone call was cut off but Rabia was sitting there staring at the phone. Yasir came home in the evening, he was normal as if nothing had happened. After dinner, Rabia again picked the same topic and said: ‘Listen! My niece is also getting married two months later; so, obviously we will have to go shopping then why not we should take advantage of the sale.’

Yasir replied mildly: There is no need to go to the wedding! Stay at home and give time to yourself.

Rabia irritatingly said: I know everything is not necessary but ethics and social requirements also matter.

Yasir smilingly said! Look! I pondered over the matter of serving mother-in-law, and I concluded that you were correct and it is not obligatory for you to serve the mother-in-law; so, in future, we will adopt the same standard in our other matters and follow only obligatory tasks. I will not ask you to take care of my mother and you will not demand for a new suit before six months either, because it is Wajib for a husband to buy his wife a new suit after every six months. Similarly, you will not insist on meeting your mother and siblings until a year passes. From now on, we both give up all ethical duties, you also carry out only those acts which are obligatory for you, so do I. Alright!  I guess, you must be happy now.

After listening to Yasir’s words, Rabia was deeply ashamed of her attitude. She was thinking that everything should not be judged from the perspective of ‘Wajib standard’. Ethical and social life also have some requirements for a happy life.

Emotions of embarrassment and guilt on Rabia’s face were clearly indicating that she had realized her ill behaviour. Now Yasir was thinking to buy her a new suit tomorrow.

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Honouring and serving mother-in-law

Move aside or you will receive a slap’, Umm-e-Bilal shouted at Arwa. Umm-e-Bilal was busy preparing food whereas her younger daughter, Arwa, was stubbornly insisting on doing any piece of work, sitting in the kitchen. In the meantime, Umm-e-Bilal heard the crying of her son; she asked Arwa to go and silence the little brother.

Worried, Umm-e-Bilal was thinking: On the one hand, there are endless house chores and on the other hand, children have made me extremely busy. There is no sigh of relief. I had better visit my brother and stay some days at his house.

‘Please take us to the house of Arwa’s uncle’, Umm-e-Bilal requested her husband, ‘Mr. Saleem’, while giving him tea.

Mr. Saleem: How many days did you plan to stay there?

Umm-e-Bilal: Approximately a week or ten days.

Mr. Saleem: All right.

After sending her children to school, Umm-e-Aatika was busy cleaning the house. Doorbell rang.

Umm-e-Aatika: Who is it?

Umm-e-Bilal: Dear Umm-e-Aatika! This is me, ‘Umm-e-Bilal’.

Recognising the voice of her younger sister-in-law, Umm-e-Aatika opened the door and greeted the guests warmly.

Umm-e-Aatika: What a surprise! There was no news about your arrival.

Umm-e-Bilal: We thought to give you a surprise. It has been quite a while since we met.

Umm-e-Aatika: Well! It is nice to see you here. I am bound due to the school routine of my children.  Sit comfortably here. I make tea for you.’

A week had passed since Umm-e-Bilal was staying at her brother’s house. She had got rid of all domestic chores. Both brother and brother’s wife would remain busy serving Umm-e-Bilal all day long.

Next morning, Umm-e-Bilal received a phone call from her elder sister.

Umm-e-Bilal: Dear sister [السلام علیکم]! How are you?’

Elder sister: I am fine. What about you? What made you so much busy that you have not contacted for many days?

Umm-e-Bilal: We are at brother Yasir’s house for a week, having fun and enjoying.

Elder sister: A week! We should not put a lot of burden on. Umm-e-Bilal: No dear sister! Bhabi and brother, both are happy. They are not feeling any disturbance. They have been taking great care of us.

Elder sister: Umm-e-Bilal! Keep in mind! We should not take unnecessary advantage of other’s good attitude of ‘giving honour and consideration’. Nobody asks his guest to leave. This is the guest who needs to understand the situation. There are some manners of being a good guest too.

Umm-e-Bilal! O dear sister! You think too much. We have heard about the manners of hospitality. Now you have mentioned the ‘manner of being a good guest’ today.

Elder sister: Look! If someone visits us and stays for a couple of days, we become so worried, right! We are haunted by our limited monthly budget; so, we should also think about others? They live in this world too and they may also face the same problems like us. As far as manners of being a good guest is concerned, this is not a new idea produced by me but rather our Islam teaches us about it. Our Beloved Prophet صَلَّى اللّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم has said: Hospitality is for a day and a night, and good hospitality is for three days and after that it is charity. And it is not lawful for the guest to stay so long as to cause him annoyance. (Mishkat-ul-Masabeeh, vol. 2, pp. 101, Hadees 4244)

As an elder sister, it was necessary for me to advise you. Now, it is up to you.

Responding back to say goodbye, Umm-e-Bilal was thinking about going back to home and she called Arwa’s father.

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