I was watching TV in the morning the other day (a rare occasion, I must confess), when I stopped on a channel where five women were talking about women’s responsibilities towards their in laws. Actually, one woman said that on her wedding night, her husband told her that she must never complain to him about his mother. The rest of the women applauded this. Then another added that every man must instruct the wife to be dutiful to his parents, and everyone agreed. Another kept insisting that all men already do this; mostly on the wedding night and how this is a wonderful practice.

Now, I wanted to somehow get into the TV screen and SMACK them. I also wanted to ensure the programme stopped this nonsense so the millions of housewives watching this at home would not be influenced.

Where in the Quran have the women been instructed to: “…And look after your husband’s parents….”

Has the Quran stated that when a woman gets married, she is to adopt her in laws’ home as her own and respect them and look after them and whatnot!

No! Not at all.

We are asked to look after our parents. Our own. No one else’s. You respect another’s parents, and yes, if they give you love and respect, you love and respect them, irrespective of whether you are a boy or a girl. We are not instructed to take our husband’s names after marriage, we have the right to ask for a separate home and so on and so forth.

These stupid norms have no basis in religion, and yet, we make them more important than religion. How a woman is with her in laws is considered even more important than how a husband is to his wife? There are prescribed roles and duties for the husband, but none for the daughter in law. I was even more appalled at how the women insisted that men should not get involved in the petty fights between the mother and the wife, which is funny, since the entire cause of friction is the desire to have HIS love and attention, and he is the only one both of them will respond to. I don’t think it’s a good situation to be in, but in a society, where we have forced women to be dependent on men, they are bound to be insecure and will fight for their place in the home. And men must play their part and not hide in the corner.

The other day, Zubeida Tariq was on TV and saying how when women move in with their in laws, they must take on the culture of the new family, and not try to bring what they learnt in their parents home into their new home. I remember watching this with my mother in law and thanked God, she was not one of those who would look at me and say, “See, I told you so”. I thought of all the girls who do watch it with their mothers in law, not half as realistic as mine, and what a vulnerable position they were being pushed in.

Love and respect is earned and not dictated. I’m lucky to be amongst those who found a family who make the effort to earn your love and respect, and give you the space to be yourself. Most people are not that lucky.

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