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Your Questions - May, 2017

These days there are many difficulties arising due to Joint family System which also leads to break in marriages. What is the ruling?

Answered by: Shaykh Zafar ul Hasan

“These are the boundaries of Allah do not trespass it. Whoever crosses over the boundaries set up by Allah is a wrongdoer” (Al Baqarah)

Joint family is a common trend in Indian subcontinent...

A very common trend in the Indian Sub-continent is that married sons with their wives and children continue to stay with their parents. In many homes, even if children seek permission from parents to stay separate and establish their homes, the parents do not permit them. At times, due to prevalent ignorance many parents insist to stay together even if there are violent fights between the family members. Building a satellite family by allowing children to stay separate is considered a taboo and a source of embarrassment in many families even today.

This life style in the Indian subcontinent has some advantages and disadvantages too. It comes with easiness and difficulties both. Education has changed the thinking trends of our youth and it applies even to our daughters too. They have their own perceptions and ambitions which causes a lot of friction within the families.

Most of the problems arrive when we discard Islamic laws.

The Qur’an and the Sunnah has appointed a limit for everything. The problem arrives when a person jumps over the boundary set up by Allah. Among the most common issues about families are Nikah and Divorce. Allah has explained His laws in three Surahs of the Quran, Surah al-Baqarah, Surah al-Ahzab and Surah at-Talaq. After explaining His law, Allah announces, “These are the boundaries of Allah do not trespass it. Whoever crosses over the boundaries set up by Allah is a wrongdoer”

How wonderfully has Allah set up his boundaries for us with regards to marriage and divorce!

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Allah has fixed up many obligatory things so observe those obligatory things and do not discard them. Allah has fixed up limit for everything so do not cross over it.

It is only when we discard the laws or break them, we face with difficulties in our society. In fact Allah has appreciated those who observe the sanctity of His commands.

It is neither compulsory to stay jointly nor compulsory to stay separate

Just consider this verse:
"There is nothing wrong about it whether you eat together or separately" (Al-Noor verse 61)

Allah has given both the options in this verse, whether you stay together and eat or stay separately and eat separately. The matter is very clear in this verse which has just few words. There is no harm in staying in a joint family. The second things is also clear that it is not essential that everyone has to opt to stay separate. It is also not compulsory to stay in joint family.

The choice now depends upon which options is beneficial for our mutual relations and affections.
Our biggest expectations from our family life should be affection and care. Our homes should be peaceful and comfortable to stay. Our children should get a good message from our lives. If these expectations are fulfilled then we may stay together. But if staying together disturbs the harmony of family life and causes bad influence on children or damaging the relations between spouses then it is better to stay separate. If such things harms our mutual relations and leads to quarrels and fights then it is compulsory to stay separate.

A Case study to make you understand:
Suppose you are four brothers and all of you have been married. You even have few sisters and you parents are still alive. It is very good if all of you stay together with affection under one roof but if you notice some cracks between your mother and your wife or differences arise between your wife and your sisters then it is incumbent to stay separate to avoid evil forcing itself into our homes.

Daf e Mafasid is placed above Jalbe Manafe...
If a particular thing has some benefits but the harms are more than benefits then it should be avoided in order to save from its harms.If you understand this verse then a lot of your domestic problems can be corrected by the applications of this verse itself. If anything has more harm than benefits then it will be avoided. I will give you two examples to justify this rule.

1. “They ask you about alcohol and gambling, say, there are many sins in it, though they may have some benefit for mankind but sins are bigger than benefit.” (al Baqarah) The business of Alcohol was a huge industry among the Arabs and through gambling many of them became rich overnight. But Allah teaches them to look around and see the harms too while acknowledging the benefits. Yet later He declared them to be prohibited forever because He wanted people to be saved from the evil of alcohol and gambling. Thus saving from evil is more important than benefits.

2. The Prophet (peace be upon him) took his wife Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) to show her the Kabah. This was after the victory of Makkah. He held her hand and took her to Hateem. You must be knowing that the open space with a small semi circular wall adjacent to the Kabah. When Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) constructed Kabah he had Hateem included in the original structure. But later when the Quraish demolished and built a new one they decided not to take any contribution of money from anyone whose earnings are not legal. So they ran short of money and they excluded the area of Hateem from Kabah. He then said, “This part of Hateem is also a part of Kabah. I earnestly desire to demolish the Kabah and rebuild it as per the original size that included Hateem but I will not do it now. People are new to Islam and we have just demolished the idols from the Kabah and now if I demolish Kabah, the people may not like it so I keep it as it is.”
Therefore in order to avoid chaos, the Prophet (peace be upon him) avoided to demolish Kabah and rebuild it by including Hateem in it. He decided not to do it.

Apply the same rule to the issue about joint family

If staying together can damage the harmony of family then it is better to stay separate. At times it happens that petty quarrels among wives can harm the good will among the brothers and then it can even damage the happiness of parents too.

There are many evils that can take place in such circumstances. A wife may poison her children against her husband’s brothers, sisters and father. She may blame the victim card before her child. It is quite common that such wives who have undergone differences with her in laws while staying with them have been injecting poisons in the mind of her own children against her inlaws. This nagging attitude on a regular basis harms the subtle mind of the children. The egos of the old parents of not dividing the property too plays a vital role of not letting the children begin their own family life.

Case study two:
When the elder Brother refuses to give rightful shares to siblings
There is a family of four brothers who all stay with their wives and children along with their parents. The problems grows huge after the death of the old parents when the question of distributing inheritance is raised up. There are brutal fights over property rights. The elder brother would say that he has contributed precious years from his life to establish father’s business so he should get more share. Had they stayed separately and established their own families then such an issue would have been averted.

Case study three:
In the early years they were firmly united but...
In the beginning they all decided firmly to stay together and they did stay together for few years but later the things began to become bad and it ran out of control of the elders to pacify each of the member then they unwillingly decide to stay separate. But the damage is already done.

Concluding point
So I say, both the options are open, staying together and separately. Therefore each family has to see the reality and then decide whether to stay together or separate. If the members are comfortable staying together with peace and harmony then it is good otherwise it is better to stay separately. It is essential to avoid evils like quarrels and misunderstanding among members and preserve affection and care. This will also prevent personal interference in each other’s life.

So if harm is more than benefit then better stay separate as we saw the ruling mentioned above.