Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil
Question: Assalam aleykum,
My wife says it’s unislamic for my parents to speak to me privately and keep secrets between her and me. My parents says its unislamic that the wife wants to know about family matters which they are uncomfortable sharing with her. What do I do?
Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.
Abu Hurairah reported the Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace) as saying:
If anyone removes his brother’s anxiety of this world, Allah will remove for him one of the anxieties of the Day of Resurrection; if anyone makes easy for an impoverished man, Allah will make easy for him in this world and on the day of resurrection; if anyone conceals a Muslim’s secrets, Allah will conceal his secrets in this world and on the Day of Resurrection; Allah will remain in the aid of a servant so long as the servant remains in the aid of his brother.” [Sunan Abi Dawud]
Dear questioner, please know that you are pleasing Allah by being of service to your parents. Consoling them and showing them kindness in their old age is incredibly important. I pray that Allah rewards you abundantly for having such sincere concern for them. May Allah bless you and your wife with righteous children who will also do the same for you in your old age.
Your parents are right; family matters which are private do not need to be divulged to your wife.
Please refer to The Reliance of The Traveller, Chapter R36 and R3.0 I have included an excerpt:
Chapter R36.0: REVEALING A SECRET
The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “When a man says something, then glances left or right, his words are a confidence to be kept.” (Ibid., 507)
(Nahlawi:) Telling a secret means to inform others of a remark, action, or state which one learns of from someone who wants it to remain hidden, whether it be good or bad. This is hurting him, and hurting others is unlawful.
Whenever people meet, it is obligatory to keep secret any act that occurs, any words spoke, or any state attributable to someone, when these concern something one would normally wish to remain confidential, while not being unlawful.
Chapter R3.0: TALEBEARING (NAMIMA)
(Nawawi:) Having summarily mentioned that talebearing (namima) is unlawful, with the evidence for this and a description of its nature, we now want to add a fuller explanation of it. Imam Abu Hamid Ghazali says, “Talebearing is a term that is usually applied only to someone who conveys to a person what another has said about him, such as by saying, ‘So-and-so says such and such about you, ‘ In fact, talebearing is not limited to that, but rather consists of revealing anything whose disclosure is resented, whether resented by the person who originally said it, the person to whom it is disclosed, or by a third party. It makes no difference whether the disclosure is in word, writing, a sign, nodding, or other; whether it concerns word or deed; or whether it concerns something bad or otherwise. The reality of talebearing lies in divulging a secret, in revealing something confidential whose disclosure is resented. A person should not speak of anything he notices about people besides that which benefits a Muslim to relate or prevents disobedience.
It sounds like your wife is feeling insecure, and is threatened by your closeness to your parents. Take her out for a romantic dinner and reassure her of your love for her. What is her love language? What can you do to fill her love tank?
Please reflect on this quote by Dr John Gottman: “Behind every complaint is a deep personal longing.” This article explains it further: Sometimes My Wife Complains…
Do your best to listen and understand her point of view. Perhaps in her family, keeping secrets led to great heartache. She may have some emotional baggage that requires unpacking, if your marriage is to thrive. Be patient with her as you journey through this together. You may need a culturally-sensitive marriage counsellor to mediate your discussions.
At a minimum, I encourage you and your wife to complete this course: The Sunna of Speech: Prohibitions of the Tongue.
To help improve the state of your marriage, please enrol in Marriage in Islam: Practical Guidance for Successful Marriages.
To help you and your wife understand the rank of parents in Islam, please enrol in Excellence with Parents: How to Fulfill the Rights of Your Parents.
It sounds like your wife and your parents have a tense and unhappy relationship. I encourage you to nudge them along the path of having sincere concern for each other. Go out for pleasant outings. Share meals together. Find things in common, and work on that.
Most importantly, please strive to wake up at least 10-15 minutes before Fajr and perform the Prayer of Need. This is a precious time of the night. Allah is the Turner of Hearts, and through His help, anything is possible.
[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.