We should be dutiful to our parents and obey them as long as they do not command us to do anything Haram. Dutifulness to parents is one of the obligations highly stressed upon in Islam. That’s why it’s oft repeated in the Qur’an, and in most cases, it’s mentioned alongside the duty of worshipping Allah, the Almighty. This makes it clear that both dutifulness to parents and worshipping Allah are inseparable duties that Muslim must give his utmost attention.
But the point that we must not overlook is the impact of marriage on both man’s and woman’s spheres of affection, loyalty and obedience. Perhaps this weighs much more on woman due to the nature of her role in marital life. Addressing this point, Muslim jurists maintain that the bond of marriage makes it imperative on a woman to strike a balance between her dutifulness towards her parents and her love and loyalty to her husband. But if there arises any conflict between this and that (i.e. upon receiving conflicting orders from both her parents and her husband, assuming that both orders are aiming at good) then priority should be given to the command of the husband.
This point is further clarified by Sheikh M. S. Al-Munajjid, a prominent Saudi Muslim lecturer and author, in the following fatwa: “The responsibilities of a married woman towards her parents are like those of any other woman. The rights a woman owes her parents remain intact and sacred, both before and after marriage. But obedience to the husband takes precedence over obedience to the parents if there is a conflict.
Having said this, the Muslim couple must strive to avoid the occurrence of such conflict. They should do their best to let the atmosphere of love and harmony prevail in their relations with their in-laws.
Maintaining the stability of the new family which mainly consists of the husband and wife is the main reason behind this ruling. The spouses, while striving to show due respect to their parents, should not allow them to cause any disruption to their marital life by forcing them to do anything that may negatively affect their family.
Shedding more light on this point, the late prominent Muslim scholar, Dr. Ahmad Ash-Sharbasi, professor of `Aqeedah and Philosophy at Al-Azhar Univ., states:
“As long as the girl is in her father’s house, the father is her guardian and she has to obey his commands and follow his directions. However, once she gets married, then the responsibility over her moves to her husband. Now, she has become a pillar of a new family and therefore obedience to the husband is given high priority.
Muslim scholars view that a Muslim wife should obey her husband in all what he commands as long as it is not Haram. If the parents interfere in this in a way that may shake the stability of the marital life, such interference should not be allowed. Thus, it’s very important for married couples to establish mutual understanding between them in a way that will secure peace and harmony in their relationship.”