Indeed all praises are due to Allah, we praise Him, we seek His help, we ask for His forgiveness, and we rely solely on Him. We seek His refuge from the evil in our souls and from our wicked deeds. Whoever Allah guides, no one can misguide. And whomever Allah misguides, no one can guide. I bear witness that there is no one worthy of worship except Allah, He is One, with no partners, and I testify that Mohammad (ﷺ) is His Messenger and His slave.
PART 2: ISSUES IN JOINT FAMILY SYSTEM
Joint Family is a common practice in Indian subcontinent. It is an arrangement under which multiple families live in same house often consisting of many generating. e.g. father/mother, all their daughters or sons, their wives and children, may live in same house. Often money or income is pooled together to run the affair of the house. Typically such house will have single kitchen shared by all families. Money management and decisions are mostly done by either the male head, i.e. father or sometimes the mother. The son and their wives are bound by these decisions. In-coming wives of the sons has to abide by rules of the household. Family ties are given preference of marital ties. In India, joint family system is supported by Indian Law.
This joint family system generate many serious social and domestic issues that severely contradict some aspects of Islamic Shariah Law and also violates the spirit of marital bonds.
- Even though in India, Pakistan or Bangladesh there was large conversion to Islam, However, the families continued to practice their traditional joint family system. Woman's right, either mother or wife or sister are often abused in joint family. Often the concept of joint family is a result of bad economic conditions, and due to affordability of separate house. While father starts the family and when his son grows and get married, they often bring their wife into same house as they have no other means of income to support separate house. This is very typical in sub-continent. This create serious conflict of interest between the new wife and current residents of the house.
- It should be noted that the norm is that when man and wife are married, they move to a separate dwelling and start their new life. In some cases, when there is good harmony in the family husband and wife may choose to life with his parents, as in the beginning of marriage they need guidance. However, the norm remains that husband and wife life in separate dwelling. If man has more than one wife, then he provides separate dwelling to each of his wife.
This is evident from Sunnah of Prophet (ﷺ) and practice of Sahabas. And it is also a general consensus amongst Muslim scholars as it prevents the mafsada (harm) that is caused due to multiple families living in same dwelling.
Living with non-Mahram:
Firstly, from Islamic prospective wife cannot live in the house with intermixing with other non-mahram in-laws, like brothers of the husband.
As we mentioned earlier the Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Beware of entering upon women.” A man from among the Ansaar said, “What about the in-law, O Messenger of Allah?” He said, “The in-law is death.”.
Allah (swt) has asked the women to preserve their modesty and chastity, observe complete hijab before non-mahram men. Husband's brother is non-mahram to wife, and she needs to observe full hijab, and she should be more careful about her clothing, adornment and speech before them than before others
Allah (swt) said identified list of mahram as:
وَقُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنَاتِ يَغْضُضْنَ مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِنَّ وَيَحْفَظْنَ فُرُوجَهُنَّ وَلَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَلْيَضْرِبْنَ بِخُمُرِهِنَّ عَلَى جُيُوبِهِنَّ وَلَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا لِبُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ آبَائِهِنَّ أَوْ آبَاء بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَائِهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَاء بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ إِخْوَانِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنِي إِخْوَانِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنِي أَخَوَاتِهِنَّ أَوْ نِسَائِهِنَّ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُنَّ أَوِ التَّابِعِينَ غَيْرِ أُوْلِي الْإِرْبَةِ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ أَوِ الطِّفْلِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يَظْهَرُوا عَلَى عَوْرَاتِ النِّسَاء وَلَا يَضْرِبْنَ بِأَرْجُلِهِنَّ لِيُعْلَمَ مَا يُخْفِينَ مِن زِينَتِهِنَّ وَتُوبُوا إِلَى اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا أَيُّهَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ
24:31 And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands' fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers, their brothers' sons, their sisters' sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women. And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment. And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed. "
This may be quite difficult and burdensome for a wife to remain in full hijab in her own house. Usually inside the house wife do not maintain same level of hijab and moves freely, this makes it very difficult to maintain the social norm as expected by Shariah. It is practically impossible to live in same dwelling with husband's brother and not come in contact with brother's wife.
It is permissible for woman to sit with her husband's brother or other non-mahram relative while she is wearing proper hijab, and other mahram relative is present, because The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “No man should be alone with a woman unless she has a mahram with her.” [Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim]
However, such meeting should be for important discussion, and not for party or entertainment as Shariah doesn't permit intermixing of opposite sexes. Husband has to observe similar restriction in the presence of wife's sister, other non-mahram females relatives or wife's friends.
But wife should not be alone with non-mahram. Some people say we trust our brother or our wife etc. However, this is not a matter of trust, rather human behavior and they are often tempted by Satan in such situations. As the Prophet (ﷺ) said: “No man is alone with a woman but the shaytaan is the third one present.” [Masnud Ahmad, Sunnan Thirmidi]. Even the most righteous of people can be tempted by Shaytan, so such a meeting should be avoided.
Woman has to cover her body and protect her chastity from all non-mahram relative, especially in front of her husband's male relatives or brother. If they live in same house with her, this will cause too much burden on the wife, as she has to do many things in the house. This will make it very difficult for her to observe her hijab and Shariah in her own house.
It is also not permissible for husband to leave her wife alone in the house while his brother lives in same house, even if the brother is most trustworthy or righteous. This can cause of great fitna. If for some reason the brother cannot afford separate dwelling for financial constraints, then the house be divided into two part, where brother cannot enter upon the area reserve for wife. This may be again be burdensome on wife and even on brother, and the preference to be given to have separate dwelling for wife.
Interference into each other's matter, and abuse of rights:
Secondly, multiple families living in the same house may cause interference in each other matters. For instance, husband's father, mother or brother and sister may be living in same house.
Obedience of wife is towards the husband, as mentioned earlier [4:34]. However, other than her husband, wife has no obligation to be obedient to her in-laws. This include husband's father, mother, brother, sister or anyone else. Wife has no obligation to cook for in-laws, or do their cleaning, or person any service for them.
However, there is social norm that parents are well respected, and given the good treatment. A relationship of "Birr" is maintained with parents, and efforts are made to keep them happy and pleased. Since husband has Sharii obligation towards his parent to look after them, and keep them content, wife should support her husband to achieve his Sharii obligation. Wife should not unnecessarily create difficulties or be rude to husband's parents.
It is observed in many cases of joint family, when a new wife come to home, she has to abide by the rules of the house, and the current residents of the house starts to order her into performing their service. This is very typical behaviour in joint family that is very much against the spirit of marital contract. From Shariah perspective, wife has the right to enjoy her marital live without interference, and be able to run the affairs of her house as per her desires and wishes, as far as they are within the bounds of Shariah. Her obedience is limited to that of her husband, and others do not have right to give her commands. In sub-continent, it is noted clearly the abuse that is inflicted on the woman by her in-laws. Such incidents are so well known and in such abundance that they don't require much documentation.
On the other hand, in some cases, wife may show disrespect towards parent of the husband for any number of reason. They may have difference preferences in how the home is run. Some wives are very argumentative and uncultured. They frequently engage in arguments with their husbands and the family of husband, or with his parents. These incidents are also very frequent. This will create unnecessary arguments in the house, and can also cause discord between wife and husband that can result in divorce. As husband will not accept anyone mistreating his parents. Even though that for some families it may workout to have wife and parents in same house, however, norm is to have separate dwelling for wife to avoid any interference in freedom of various members of the family.
In addition, if the sisters or other relatives are also living in same house, it will increase the chances of differences and argumentation. It is often said that two women can't live under same roof. A wife when she comes home has dreamt of good life with her husband, and she has aspiration of keeping her house in certain order. It is the right of every wedded wife to enjoy her house and run it according to her own style. Having more than one woman in the house may create a conflict of interest. That two of them may want to decorate the house different. This will create chain of never ending argumentation.
Also, with multiple families living in same dwelling, it means they will have their own visitors. It will become difficult for other family members to share the house with many multiple visitors coming home. Women in the house will have to abide by restrictions of hijab if non-mahram visitors come, and frequent visitor may also disturb the other members from their privacy.
It can be noted in some cases, having father and mother living in same house can be good for newly wedded family. As the parent can provide them needed guidance, and can also act as referee during conflicts. However, this must be acceptable to both woman in the house, i.e. wife and the mother. As both of them will have to give up some of their rights to share the same dwelling. Husband and father should watch the situation closely, and if things are not working out, they should quickly separate the dwelling. Often the male member of the family takes too long to make the decision, and by then house is ruined by many arguments due to conflict of interests.
Violate Privacy of members:
Thirdly, it will violate privacy of the wife. It is not permissible for any in-laws to enter wife's room or her dwelling without her permission, because Allah (swt) says: يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَدْخُلُوا بُيُوتًا غَيْرَ بُيُوتِكُمْ حَتَّى تَسْتَأْنِسُوا وَتُسَلِّمُوا عَلَى أَهْلِهَا ذَلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ - " 24:27 O you who have believed, do not enter houses other than your own houses until you ascertain welcome and greet their inhabitants. That is best for you; perhaps you will be reminded. '
- In house with joint family, members of family frequently enters each other rooms without permission or restriction. This violates the right of woman to enter in her room without permission. She may be in private with her husband, or breast feeding, or doing some other private activity and may not like people to enter her area. Even a customary ethics suggest that we request permission before entering some one's room or dwelling.
Wife or Parents?:
Lastly, a question is often asked when the person gets married. Should I leave my old parents and have separate house with my wife? or Should I live with my parents and look after them and my wife has to live with my parent?
- This is common issue in countries like Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. This is due to the fact that many Muslims still uphold values of customary joint family system which either their forefathers lived, or they are influenced by it due to living amongst that culture.
- Obligatory responsibility of Parents: Firstly, we must state the obvious fact that children have ultimate responsibility to be kind and obedient to their parents, and look after them when they are old.
وَقَضَى رَبُّكَ أَلاَّ تَعْبُدُواْ إِلاَّ إِيَّاهُ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا إِمَّا يَبْلُغَنَّ عِندَكَ الْكِبَرَ أَحَدُهُمَا أَوْ كِلاَهُمَا فَلاَ تَقُل لَّهُمَآ أُفٍّ وَلاَ تَنْهَرْهُمَا وَقُل لَّهُمَا قَوْلاً كَرِيمًا
17:23 And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], "uff," and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word.
It is obligatory on children to be kind towards their parents, and ensure they are comfortable and well looked after.
However, it should also be noted that they are obliged to obey their parents for matters that conforms to Shariah. However, if the parents order anything that goes against Shariah or that violates the rights of other person, then children should refuse it politely as Allah (swt) said: (وَقُل لَّهُمَا قَوْلاً كَرِيمًا)
- Wife's right to run affairs of her house: Secondly, the after the marriage, it is woman's right to run affairs of her husband's house. This is evident from Sunnah of Prophet (ﷺ) and practice of Sahabas. And it is also a general consensus amongst Muslim scholars as it prevents the mafsada (harm) that is caused due to multiple families living in same dwelling.
It was narrated from Ibn ‘Umar that he heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say: “Each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock. The ruler of the people is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock. A man is the shepherd of his household and is responsible for his flock. A woman is the shepherd of her husband’s house and children and is responsible for her flock. The slave is the shepherd of his master’s wealth and is responsible for it. Each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock.” [Sahih al-Bukhari, Sahih al-Muslim]
It is evidently clear from this hadith that woman run affairs of her husband's house, and look after the children, and other matters.
While mother runs the affair of father's house, similarly wife has ownership and accountability of running affairs of husband's house. Sister has responsibility of running affairs of her husband's house, and daughter has responsibility of running affairs of her house. If each of this party will interfere in rights and responsibilities of others, then the entire system will collapse, and a state of chaos will be created as often seen in joint family.
Then, when husband has more than one wife, he has to maintain separate dwellings for them, and do justice and timesharing amongst them. It will not be possible for three wives and parents to live in same house, and separate dwelling needs to be provided to them.
- Financial Responsibility: Thirdly, Man is financially responsible for his dependents that includes his wife (ves), children, father, mother. However, he is not financially responsible for other members of his extended family or tribe, including his sibling. Although he can provide financial aid to his siblings or other relatives, however, this will not be obligatory rather a Sadaqa or Zakat.
Helping poor relatives or those in need comes under ruling of keeping good ties of kinship. Prophet (ﷺ) said: "Charity given to the poor is charity and charity given to a relative is charity and upholding of family ties.” [Masnud Ahmed, Sunnan Nisa'i]. This exclude both parents (and those in the direct line of ascent, like grandfather or grandmother) and children (and those in the direct line of descent, like grand kids)
However, it is not permissible to give zakat towards household expense. e.g. if sister is unmarried and lives in same household as the brother, then Zakat cannot be given to her, rather she comes under the responsibility. But if the sister lives in different household, and she is needy then she can receive from Zakat.
In matters of inheritance, siblings only receive inheritance if the deceased doesn't have father and son, i.e. deceased is not kalala. While father, mother, wife, husband, and daughter are primary heirs.
- Father's family vs Son's family: This is often mixed up. When a man marries and he starts a family, and raise children. This family of his with wife (ves) and children is considered his family. However, as time progress, his children grows and he marries his sons and daughter. Then daughter's family is the her husband and her children, and son's family is his wife and children. Thus, a family that the father started now converts into three families, the family of father, the family of daughter, and family of son. This is often confused, as son keep referring to father's family as his family, and his wife's parents as her family. However, both husband and wife often forgets that though they were once part of their parents family, but now they have their own family, and their parents are now extended famil
This causes many social and domestic issues. If husband and wife can comprehend bonds of marriage and that they now themselves own a family, and have responsibility to run affairs of this family, many of the domestic issues will not arise.
Especially, in the context of joint family, where husband continue to relate himself with his father's family, while wife often becomes alienated in her husband's house. This results in wife calling onto her parents to find an affiliation into a family and backing. Such an environment is destined to create disharmony between husband and wife. The attitude should be that between wife and husband they have their own family to look after. And while they are both responsible to look after their parents, and they have obligation to parents, their prime responsibility is their own family.
- Hence, the balance needs to be created between obligation of parents, and obligations towards their own family. While it is utmost important for man to keep his parents close to him, so that he can look after them, he cannot force his wife to accept it. Rather it's a mutual understanding and willingness of the wife. To keep mother and wife in same house, means that right of both mother and wife are affected. Hence, both of them has to compromise and be willing to accept this situation. If one party is not willing to accept it, then separate dwelling should be provided. As both of these women has right to run affairs of their own households.
- Keeping wife (ves) in separate dwelling doesn't violate the right of parents. Rather it is a norm. Person should visit his parent frequently and ensure they are comfortable and well looked after. Often, children can afford a servant to look after their parents. At the same time, they visit their parent frequently, daily or many times a day to ensure their parents are in good state. One should not ignore his parents for long period, and make frequent checks to know their conditions. Especially when parents are old and need more attention, this frequency should be increased.
Separate residence for each family is a norm
Separate residence for each family is a norm is evident from following verse in the Quran:
لَيْسَ عَلَى الْأَعْمَى حَرَجٌ وَلَا عَلَى الْأَعْرَجِ حَرَجٌ وَلَا عَلَى الْمَرِيضِ حَرَجٌ وَلَا عَلَى أَنفُسِكُمْ أَن تَأْكُلُوا مِن بُيُوتِكُمْ أَوْ بُيُوتِ آبَائِكُمْ أَوْ بُيُوتِ أُمَّهَاتِكُمْ أَوْ بُيُوتِ إِخْوَانِكُمْ أَوْ بُيُوتِ أَخَوَاتِكُمْ أَوْ بُيُوتِ أَعْمَامِكُمْ أَوْ بُيُوتِ عَمَّاتِكُمْ أَوْ بُيُوتِ أَخْوَالِكُمْ أَوْ بُيُوتِ خَالَاتِكُمْ أَوْ مَا مَلَكْتُم مَّفَاتِحَهُ أَوْ صَدِيقِكُمْ لَيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ جُنَاحٌ أَن تَأْكُلُوا جَمِيعًا أَوْ أَشْتَاتًا فَإِذَا دَخَلْتُم بُيُوتًا فَسَلِّمُوا عَلَى أَنفُسِكُمْ تَحِيَّةً مِّنْ عِندِ اللَّهِ مُبَارَكَةً طَيِّبَةً كَذَلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمُ الْآيَاتِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُون
24:61 There is not upon the blind [any] constraint nor upon the lame constraint nor upon the ill constraint nor upon yourselves when you eat from your [own] houses or the houses of your fathers or the houses of your mothers or the houses of your brothers or the houses of your sisters or the houses of your father's brothers or the houses of your father's sisters or the houses of your mother's brothers or the houses of your mother's sisters or [from houses] whose keys you possess or [from the house] of your friend. There is no blame upon you whether you eat together or separately. But when you enter houses, give greetings of peace upon each other – a greeting from Allah, blessed and good. Thus does Allah make clear to you the verses [of ordinance] that you may understand.
Here, Quran states that its allowed to eat at houses of your fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts etc. This is clear indication that man (after marriage) in normal circumstances live separately from their father, mother, brother and sisters. The verse (أَن تَأْكُلُوا مِن بُيُوتِكُمْ) means that they have separate house, and when you enter their house (فَإِذَا دَخَلْتُم بُيُوتًا فَسَلِّمُوا عَلَى أَنفُسِكُمْ) give them greeting of peace, like we say assalamu alaikum.
- Living in separate house is also important as this means one person doesn't have all the burden to support other families, and also the member of each family work hard and doesn't become lazy.
- On the other hand, by living separately there is more love and mutual feeling of respect. When kins or parents are living in separate dwelling and they miss each other, they go to each other house to show love and respect.
It is well known that Prophet (ﷺ) has separate house for all of his wives, and also when he got married he moved out of his uncle Abu Talib's house. Also, when Ali got married, both Ali and Fatima moved to their own house.
- Allah (swt) says in Quran: يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَدْخُلُوا بُيُوتَ النَّبِيِّ إِلَّا أَن يُؤْذَنَ لَكُمْ - " 33:53 O you who have believed, do not enter the houses of the Prophet except when you are permitted...".
- This refers to the separate houses of Prophet's wives...
- There are so many of hadiths that talks about Prophet's houses:
- Narrated Anas bin Malik: A group of three men came to the houses of the wives of the Prophet asking how the Prophet worshipped (Allah),..
- Narrated 'Aisha: (the wife of the Prophet) that while Allah's Apostle was with her, she heard a voice of a man asking permission to enter the house of Hafsa. 'Aisha added: I said, "O Allah's Apostle! This man is asking permission to enter your house." The Prophet said, "I think he is so-and-so," naming the foster-uncle of Hafsa...
- This also indicate that houses of Prophet's wives were close to each other
- Narrated Um Salama: that once the Prophet was in her house, and an effeminate man was there too. The effeminate man said to 'Abdullah, (Um Salama's brother) "O 'Abdullah! If Ta'if should be conquered tomorrow, I recommend you the daughter of Ghailan, for she is so fat that she has four curves in the front (of her belly) and eight at the back." So the Prophet said (to his wives) "These effeminate (men) should not enter upon you (your houses).  Narrated Kuraib: Ibn 'Abbas said, "The Prophet slept till he snored and then prayed (or probably lay till his breath sounds were heard and then got up and prayed)." Ibn 'Abbas added: "I stayed overnight in the house of my aunt, Maimuna, the Prophet slept for a part of the night,...
- Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Umar: Once I went upstairs in Hafsa's house and saw the Prophet answering the call of nature with his back towards the Qibla and facing Sham...
- Narrated 'Abdullah: The Prophet stood up and delivered a sermon, and pointing to 'Aisha's house (i.e. eastwards), he said thrice,...
- Narrated Ibn Umar: Once the Prophet went to the house of Fatima but did not enter it. 'Ali came and she told him about that. When 'All asked the Prophet about it, he said, "I saw a (multi-colored) decorated curtain on her door. I am not interested in worldly things." 'Ali went to Fatima and told her about it. Fatima said, "I am ready to dispense with it in the way he suggests." The Prophet ordered her to send it to such-and-such needy people. " 
- This hadith explain us two things. Firstly, Ali and Fatima lived in separate house. Secondly, the Parents give naseeha (advise) to their children, and children obey good advice of their parents.
It is responsibility of the wife to run the affair of their house. If there are more than wife, then each one of them run affairs of their house, as each of them should have separate dwelling. This is proven from the following.
- Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Umar: That he heard Allah's Apostle saying, "Everyone of you is a guardian and is responsible for his charge; the ruler is a guardian and is responsible for his subjects; the man is a guardian in his family and responsible for his charges; a woman is a guardian of her husband's house and responsible for her charges; and the servant is a guardian of his master's property and is responsible for his charge." I definitely heard the above from the Prophet and think that the Prophet also said, "A man is a guardian of his father's property and responsible for his charges; so everyone of you is a guardian and responsible for his charges."
- Narrated 'Abdullah: Allah's Apostle said, "Everyone of you is a guardian and is responsible for his charges. The ruler who has authority over people, is a guardian and is responsible for them, a man is a guardian of his family and is responsible for them; a woman is a guardian of her husband's house and children and is responsible for them; a slave ('Abu) is a guardian of his master's property and is responsible for it; so all of you are guardians and are responsible for your charges."
- These narrations clearly indicate that wife is responsible for house of the husband.
- These narration also clarifies that man should be guardian of his family. i.e. after his marriage he moves out of his father's house, and run his own family affairs and is guardian of his family. In joint family, typically the head is either the father of husband, or mother of husband.
- This also indicate that husband should look after their parent's house, as " A man is a guardian of his father's property". So wife should not object to her husband when he is looking after affairs of his parents.
 Sahih al-Muslim, Sahih al-Bukhari
 Masnud Ahmad, Sunnan Thirmidi
 Sahih al-Bukhari, Sahih al-Muslim
 Masnud Ahmed, Sunnan Nisa'i
 Laws of Inheritance, http://learndeen.com/jm/deen-islam/shariah-law/42/106-inheritance-law-in-islam.html
 Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 1:
 Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 36
 Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 72, Number 775:
 Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 4, Number 140:
 Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 53, Number 334:
 Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 53, Number 336:
 Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 47, Number 783:
 Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 46, Number 733:
 Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 46, Number 730: