This is not my situation only, rather it is faced by many women who wear shar’i hijab (niqaab). We live with our husbands and their families in the same house, i.e. his brothers, who are men, live with us in the same house, and there is no servant, so we have to take care of the housework, which is plentiful and hard. There is nothing to stop one of the husband’s relatives, such as his paternal or maternal uncle, entering upon us without permission, so the house is open. When we clean the balconies, the neighbours and everyone in the street can see us.
Is it correct for us to wear niqaab only when going out? Or should we wear it in the house from morning to night? Please note that this will be extremely difficult for us. I have a flat of my own, but we only go there to sleep. We live with my husband’s family that is composed of one brother and his mother. Please note that we can afford to live separately, but my husband does not want that. What should we do?.
Praise be to Allaah.
Hijaab is enjoined in all cases where it is thought that
fitnah (temptation) may occur. For a large family to live together in one
house, where the wife is together with her husband’s brothers or with his
cousins (paternal or maternal) is a situation where the barrier of modesty
may be lifted and shaytaan may instil evil ideas in people’s minds. In that
case it is essential for a woman to cover her face in front of non-mahrams,
and put up with any hardship involved.
On this site we have a number of similar questions in which
we have confirmed the obligation to wear hijab and cover oneself. Please see
questions no. 6408,
Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him)
The husband’s brother, sister’s husband, cousins and so on
are not mahrams, and they have no right to look at a woman’s face. It is not
permissible for her to take off her jilbab in front of them, because that
may lead to them being tempted by her. It was narrated from ‘Uqbah ibn
‘Aamir (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allaah
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Beware of entering upon
women.” An Ansaari man said: O Messenger of Allaah, what do you think of the
in-law? He said: “The in-law is death.” Agreed upon. What is meant by the
in-law is the husband’s brother, uncle and so on. That is because they can
enter the house without any suspicion, but they are not mahrams by mere
virtue of their relationship to her husband. Based on that, it is not
permissible for her to uncover her adornments in front of them, even if they
are righteous and trustworthy, because Allaah has limited the permissibility
of showing one’s adornments to mahrams only, and the husband’s brother,
uncle, cousin and so on are not among the mahrams. The Prophet (peace
and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said in a hadeeth whose soundness is
agreed upon: “No man should enter upon a woman except with a mahram.” What
is meant by a mahram is one for whom it is permanently forbidden to marry
her because of blood ties, ties of marriage or breastfeeding, such as a
father, son, brother, paternal uncle, and so on. The Messenger of Allaah
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) forbade that lest the
Shaytaan tempt them to commit evil and make sin attractive to them. It is
proven that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)
said: “No man is alone with a woman but the shaytaan is the third one
present.” Narrated by Imam Ahmad with a saheeh isnaad from ‘Umar ibn
al-Khattaab (may Allaah be pleased with him).
Those who follow the customs of their countries that go
against that on the grounds that this is their family’s tradition or the
custom of their people have to strive hard to give up this custom. They
should cooperate to put an end to it and rid themselves of its evil, so as
to protect their honour and help one another in righteousness and piety, and
in obedience to the command of Allaah and His Messenger (peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him). They should repent to Allaah, may He be
glorified and exalted, from what they have done in the past, and strive to
enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil, and persist in doing so. They
should not fear the blame of the blamers when supporting the truth and
combating falsehood, and they should not let the fact that some people mock
them or make fun of them put them off. What is required of every Muslim is
to follow the laws of Allaah willingly, seeking that which is with Allaah
and fearing His punishment, even if that means going against the closest and
dearest of people to him. End quote.
Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn Baaz
Our advice to the husband is to strive hard to provide
accommodation that is separate from his family, and not to take such matters
lightly. Allaah has entrusted his wife to him and he must take care of her.
Insisting on living in the same house as his family and brothers is not
taking care of her.
It is not one of the husband’s rights over his wife to force
her to live with his family, rather he is obliged to provide her with
separate accommodation when she asks for that. This has been discussed in
detail, with evidence and the comments of the scholars, in the answer to
question no. 7653.
Situations such as that which you describe are not free of
evils. It is very hard for the woman to wear full hijab – even in the house
– from morning till night. She cannot do her housework when she is wearing
full hijab; she has to uncover her face and hands, and so on, and in that
case she will be seen by her husband’s brothers and others for whom it is
not permissible to see her and in front of whom it is not permissible for
her to uncover.
It is not permissible for the husband to impose this on his
wife, as it will gradually weaken her faith and lessen her modesty. He is a
shepherd and is responsible for his flock.
You say in your question that you have a separate flat. What
is keeping your husband from treating you properly and looking after you in
your own flat, instead of making you stay with your husband’s family all day
even though that is difficult for you and leads to that which Allaah has
We ask Allaah to guide your husband to that which is best for
you both in this world and in the Hereafter.
And Allaah knows best.