In some cultures it is still quite normal for families to live together under one roof. For example, brothers will live together in one house even after they have all married, regardless of the fact that they can afford to live separately.Now, if a wife is not comfortable with such living situations due to hardship in keeping proper hijab (both outer and interaction wise), how does she explain to her husband and in-laws, from an Islamic perspective, that she should have a separate home? Is there any evidence from ahadith (Islamic traditions) or otherwise, that a wife is entitled to a separate home?
It is an obvious fact in our jurisprudence that the living expenses of a wife is on her husband. It is also an obligation on men to provide a comfortable living standard for their spouses within their affordability. The Almighty Allah states:
“Let the rich man spend according to his means, and the man whose resources are restricted, let him spend according to what Allah has given him. Allah places no burden on any person beyond what He has given him…” (Holy Qur’an 65:7).
Obviously, living in a shared accommodation has its disadvantages, especially with regards to observing Mahram-non-Mahram issues. Thus, men are encouraged to provide an independent dwelling for their spouses. If living in a shared accommodation harms the religious practice of a Muslim woman or makes her life too difficult, then it is an obligation on her husband to provide an Islamic accommodation for her.
It is worthy to mention that currently I am involved in a family case in which two brothers with their spouses had shared an apartment. Unfortunately, one day one of the brothers in the absence of his wife and his own brother, sexually assaulted his sister in law!
May God protect us all from Shaytan.
Answered by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei