Question: Can a married woman care for her own mother unless her husband permits?
Whether her husband lets her provide care for her mother or not, if there is no one else to care for the mother or if the woman has a partial duty to provide care for her mother, the woman should do it; she owes it to her mother. Her husband cannot prohibit this. However, if the mother is already provided with care, then the husband and the wife should discuss the matter. In case the wife has sufficient income, she can also hire someone to take care of her mother. A husband doesn’t have the right to speak about or intervene with the woman’s spending her own money. A woman decides what to spend her money on, but the husband’s money should be spent on household expenses.
Whether a woman should provide care for her husband’s parents or not is decided by the cultural norms/traditions. Allah the Almighty commands:
“And live with women according to the known terms*.” (An-Nisa/ The Women 4:19)
According to the tradition in Turkey, women usually take care of their husbands’ parents. In the meantime, the husband has to provide sufficient support and convenience for his wife and help her.
In case that both the woman’s parent and the man’s parent need care, every child is primarily responsible for the care of their own parent. They can also help each other.
Recently, a group of people claim that women do not have to breastfeed their children or do the housework, or cook; and they point Islam as the basis of these ideas. But, it is not possible to sustain the family life under these circumstances. Duties must be shared according to the known terms.
The word “maruf”, translated as “the known terms”, means ‘something known well’. That knowledge sources from the tradition, laws or divine Scriptures, and must be compliant with the Qur’an.