Letters to the Editor
Q: My grandfather and grandmother have five daughters with no son. They married their eldest daughter (i.e., my mother), and kept their son-in-law (i.e., my father) in their home. Other four daughters (my aunts) were also married outside. They all pledged to give their entire property to their eldest sister in exchange of their marriage expenses and also as my mother was the only one taking care of her old parents.
Later on, one of my aunts got divorced and she took her full share of property, breaking the covenant. But my other aunts had successful marriages and had children. But the problem is that they come too often to our house disturbing us. There is too much noise in our house as they keep their children in our house often.
One of my aunt’s child is living in our house from last seven years, this is mainly because of my grandmother who facilitates it unconditionally. A daughter of my another aunt, too, stayed in our house for many years. But we don’t have much courage to tell them anything as they have given us their property & they have unconditional support of their mother (my grandmother).
Other thing, we get too many guests compared to our neighbours. In short, we are frustrated with noise, breach of privacy and extra expenses. In this situation, what should we do…?
Even if we tell our aunts or grandmother about this, but they don’t care and keep doing same.
Is there any practical solution?
Ignoring the details given at the start, which to us complicated family affairs, we can go directly to the problem you state in the last sentences.
Regarding children of other members of the family having taken up residence in your home, about which fact you feel frustrated, we on our part must rather express satisfaction. How congested your house is, as a result of their residence, and how inconvenient and annoying, is not for us to guess. We cannot judge the level of disturbance. If the level is abnormal, then, the solution is for the elders to get together and discuss the matter.
The spirit should be to look into the affair seriously and find satisfactory solutions to the causes of inconvenience rather than blaming each other. But, of course, it is important that every occupant knows his, or her, rights. That is, not the moral rights, but physical right in the property. The Shari`ah does not grant any value for moral rights.
In case of joint property, if they know what their legal share is, it will be easier to expect a share from each according to the right. So, to whom the premises belong? If there are several owners, then what is their exact share? (But not what they will inherit if the owner or one of the joint owners dies).
To revert to our statement, accommodating children or elders into a family is approved by the Shari`ah, and even recommended. In this way, the sense of belonging to the family grows strong and helping out each other makes everyone feel that he, or she, is not left to fend for himself, or herself, but he, or she, is sheltered and are safer within the family.
Nonetheless, where a joint family is created, every husband and wife in it should have complete control over their private quarter, or over at least a single room, with no third person in it, and restriction to entry by the rest.
Now the issue of noise-making children. They can become a nuisance. They must be disciplined. They must be taught the limits. To make noise they can go to the playground, any open space, or as last resort, the house’s compound. But they must be given to understand that no noise is tolerable within the rooms.
They must be disciplined, on the threat of punishments.
Otherwise, undisciplined children of today are the lawless citizens of tomorrow. Such of those, who were not disciplined by their parents, are the ones who will not respect the law, and end up being bribe-takers and bribe-givers – not to speak of many other moral failures. Disregard of bringing up children not being enforced to follow the rules and principles within the homes, has produced the masses of today in millions, who are corrupt.
The children in your house, therefore, must be brought up on Islamic principles. Allowing them to shout – despite your disapproval, would mean that they are free to choose their own way of behaviour. It starts with their refusal to obey. If you have prohibited something as unacceptable, then, they can be ignored once, and maybe twice, but a third occurrence must result in punishment.
If all the elders of your joint family do not agree to this central principle, then, wait over the coming years to reap fruits of disintegration, envy among members, disunity, and disregard of the governmental laws.
On the other hand, an effort to teach all the household members would be to conduct a halaqah consisting of all the members, young and old, and read out, for example, a page or two from the life of the Prophet (saws) and other important personalities.
You will have Allah’s help with you.