Stranger in my House

Bismillah walhamdulillah

My older sister recently got married, so that means we have a new addition to the family. For the first time in my life, I have a brother-in-law.

During the months that I’ve known him, I’ve probably only had one conversation with him. It was in the presence of my father and sister, while he was sitting in the seat in front of me in the car, his back turned to me, and it was because I wanted help regarding my physical health because he is a doctor. It may already be apparent, I go to great lengths to avoid having to speak to him. And he knows this. He also knows that this doesn’t mean that I “hate” him. I feel like a lot of people assume that if you are not speaking to them, it means that you either hate them, or are too shy. My brother in law, let’s call him Fahad, knows that none of these is true. He has cracked the occasional joke, relayed to me from my sister, that I sound like a “robot” when I answer the phone, and that I speak monotone, but it seems that he’s picked up on the fact that I do all of those things intentionally.

The brother in law is death(1). And I know why. Regardless of the fact that I barely acknowledge his existence, I found myself becoming comfortable towards him and thinking of him as a brother. When I would notice this, I would quickly remind myself “this is why the brother in law is death.” The brother in law is the non-mahram that you have the chance to get the most comfortable with and the one that it is most dangerous for you to get comfortable with. If anyone is still skeptical, listen to this: I remember Shaykh Omar Sulaiman mentioning in a class “You don’t know how many phone calls I’ve gotten from sisters who say to me, ‘I don’t know what to do – my brother-in-law just made a pass at me.'” The Messenger of Allah (saws) spoke the truth.

The fact that I wear the niqab has helped so much subhanAllah. I don’t think there could possibly be any bigger sign, for him, that I am very serious about Islam. His family is from a Muslim country, so his sister also wears niqab, but it seems that she only wears it in that country. In the beginning, he had probably expected the same from me. I think he quickly got the message though. He’s seen me do things like leave a restaurant with loud music, rebuke people who are backbiting, and stay fully-covered around him, that if he had any doubt before as to kind of person I was (or would like to be), then the doubt was removed and he quickly accepted me as I was.

And I would hear from my sister that he said that he found me “scary.”

Why?

“She’s so focused.”

And he has said “I like her.”

Why?

“She keeps to herself and minds her own business.”

The fact that he cannot see my face, has helped a great deal because the truth is, I’m not a very “serious” person, nor is it easy for me to stay quiet while we are all at the dinner table talking, and he happens to be there. I’m actually very jokey in nature as well as quite social at times. The act of lifting my niqab in order to eat is my reminder at the table- “Fahad is here, careful.” And it’s a sign for him, because he assumes that since he can’t see my face, I am not smiling at the jokes and not interested in the conversation, and this is what I prefer for him to assume.

Before Fahad, I did not used to have to walk around my house in niqab except occasionally when we would have a plumber or electrician-type-of-person come by to fix things. Now, it’s become very common-place for me to be wearing a niqab at home. My family is all very used to it and no one comments on it, alhamdulillah. I even have a slip-on-hijab which makes it much easier, and I try schedule my wudoo in the bathroom before he gets there so I don’t have to do one of those take-off-hijab and socks-and-then-put-them-back-on wudooo. If I ever for a split-second find myself thinking that this is not fair for me to have to be covered even in my own home, I remind myself of how grateful I am to be able to wear the niqab, and all of a sudden, I don’t mind the least bit.

If wearing niqab were not “strange” enough, then wearing it at home or in front of family would take the cake. But a non-mahram is a non-mahram, just remind yourself of that, and it makes it easier. And stay firm in it. One of my parents still gives me a hard time, not in front of Fahad, about wearing my niqab in front of my brother-in-law.

“He’s like your brother!”

“I only have one brother,” I respond calmly.

Don’t lose your cool, but stay firm, it always gets easier bi’ithnillah.

 

(1) The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “No man should be alone with a [non-mahram] woman.” And he said: “Beware of entering upon women.” They said, “O Messenger of Allaah, what do you think about the brother-in-law [meaning the husband’s relatives]?” He said, “The brother-in-law is death.”

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  1. #1 by لؤلؤة المخفية | The Hidden Pearl on December 22, 2012 - 2:09 pm

    Assalamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatulaahi wa barakatuh,

    Ma sha Allah. Makes me proud to say that you are my sister in islam :) Alhamdulillah. By the way, I too wear niqab. And you are so right, Brother in law is certainly death but sadly and unfortunately the youth of this ummah DO NOT take this warning seriously. How many marriages have been compromised by this problem :( May Allah subhanahu wa ta’aala keep us in His protection always. Ameen.

    • #2 by almuqarraboon on December 22, 2012 - 6:23 pm

      walaykumasalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh sis,

      Same for you sis :)
      Right you are – and some people find it insulting to be covered in-front-of, as if we are already accusing them lol (My brother in law is not like this alhamdulillah, but I’ve seen it from others) and then the pressure from family starts to come like “C’mon, he’s like your brother!”
      Um, *like* my brother? Well, that’s just not good enough, is it? lol

      Ameen
      wasalamualaykum

  2. #3 by Maryam on December 22, 2012 - 5:16 pm

    Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu sister,

    SubhanAllah, I dunno why but this brought tears to my eyes. Jazakumullahu khairan for sharing. After reading this I feel more determined to hold on firmly to my principles, to Islamic principles.

    So often we compromise on our Deen, especially when dealing with family people. It’s like, “Ah! If I wear hijaab/niqaab, what will so-and-so think?”, “Let me put on a little make-up for the marriage function, if I don’t, what will my relatives think?”. So much we compromise! But the truth is that, at the end of the day, no one’s opinion or comment really matters. What “we” do in that test is what really matters. We aren’t born to please others, all we gotta do is please Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala alone. SubhanAllah! May Allah ‘azza wa jal forgive us. :(

    Uhibbuki fiAllah ya ukhti! <3

    P.S: If you don't mind, can I share this with my friends?

    • #4 by almuqarraboon on December 22, 2012 - 6:19 pm

      walaykumasalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh sis,

      Barakallahu feeki, I ask Allah swt to grant us steadfastness in times of ease and hardship.
      Wearing niqab at home has become so easy for me as compared to before alhamdulillah and for that I need to be more grateful. Everyone accepts it and as for those who aren’t a part of my family – they either love me for it, or are too afraid to say anything lol
      If you are finding it difficult, then know that it will become easier each time you stand firm. People naturally get tired of fighting, so you have to be the one who doesn’t tire, and wait patiently for the people around you to accept that this is who you are. And what always helps me is that I know, even if they’re insulting and judging me – deep down inside, they know it’s the right thing to do, and maybe one day they will admit it to themselves.
      wa billahit tawfeeq :)
      Please keep me and my family in your ad’iya :)
      waslaamualaykum

    • #5 by almuqarraboon on December 22, 2012 - 6:20 pm

      May He for whose sake you love me, love you. <3 Ameen
      Yes inshaAllah it is okay if you share it :)

      • #6 by Maryam on December 23, 2012 - 5:11 am

        Ameeen to your dua’a!! And, Thank you soo much for your wonderful insights, I benefited a lot Alhamdulillah!
        May He ‘azza wa jal love you too and make us from among His pious slaves. Ameen.
        Jazakillahu khairan katheeran! <3

  3. #7 by dpressedmuslimah on February 19, 2014 - 3:12 pm

    Reblogged this on dpressedmuslimah.

  4. #8 by Christine on June 29, 2014 - 5:05 pm

    Hi, Could you kindly help me,I have a niqab and is scared to wear it mainly because I don’t know how to go about when I’m in it…I am not of the faith but I want to adapt the niqabi way.Its difficult to approach other women in a niqab because they always seem on the hurry and are very rare in public…Besides other muslims usually criticise and question my decision of wearing a niqab making me feel rather uncomfortable and I have learnt to secretize this because of the questioning..please help,as I really want to start wearing my niqab to campus!

    • #9 by almuqarraboon on July 10, 2014 - 11:44 pm

      Hi Christine, thanks for reaching out. :) There’s always going to be someone out there who has a problem with our individual choices or actions – let them. Do what feels right to you in your heart, and when you are questioned about it, give an answer from your heart.
      As for how to go about when you are in niqab – it’s the same as when you are not in it. :) Go on doing everything as you used to, if you feel confident in the niqab then it will show.
      Finally, as for approaching other women in niqab, I find the best way to reach out to people is to actually reach out and grab them and force them to listen to you lol – but seriously, if you want to speak with niqabis and you’re not finding any in the public (though I bet they’re around :) ), look for them in the masjid (mosque).
      I hope this was helpful, be in touch.

      ommalmuqarraboon

  5. #10 by Noor on July 22, 2015 - 9:21 am

    Sister. I love you for the strength you have shown. You should be so proud of yourself. I have been thinking about putting the niqab on for a while and your strength of character gives ME strength.

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