According to dictionary.com it is “a type of extended family composed of parents, their children, and the children’s spouses’ and offspring in one household.”
According to Cambridge dictionary it means “a family in which parents and their male children with theirfamilies live together and are considered as a single unit”
Encyclopedia Britannica defines joint family as a family in which members of a unilineal descent group (a group in which descent through either the female or the male line is emphasized) live together with their spouses and offspring in one homestead and under the authority of one of the members. The joint family is an extension of the nuclear family (parents and dependent children), and it typically grows when children of one sex do not leave their parents’ home at marriage but bring their spouses to live with them. Thus, a patrilineal joint family might consist of an older man and his wife, his sons and their off spring
Joint family system finds its roots in India. Other counties that are have this system happen to be only those that have some sort of Indian culture’s influence, countries like Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh. India is the only country in the world that has given legal status to joint family system.
Whereas in Islam joint family system doesn’t exist. Islam is silent in the topic; it does not make it compulsory to live in a joint family or a nuclear family. The joint family system that is existent today in Pakistan many at times violates the jurisdictions of Islam.
If we look at the life of our beloved Prophet ﷺ, all his wives had a separate living, all the Sahabah lived independently after marriage. Even today in Arab world ‘joint family’ remains an alien term. Arabs live in nuclear family after marriage. In the western part of the world, you aren’t considered to have entered adulthood for as long as you are living in your parents’ house.
The first, foremost and biggest problem that has been witnessed in joint families is the interaction between namehram. Joking, chatting, giggling, passing comments and frankness are a norm is such families, which defies the laws of Islam. Concept of hijab seems to have no value in such families nor is it possible to wear hijab all the time thus incurring more sin without even realizing it.
The second thing that gets a big hit by this system is privacy. While talking of privacy, I think Pakistanis do not even know what privacy is, for them it remains an alien thing. Let me give you an example for that, I have seen that families in villages during the summer period sleep together in the courtyard. Men, women, children all sleeping together at one place. In joint families the most challenging thing is to find privacy, and if somehow you have found it, the next big challenge is to maintain it.
The third factor includes difference in personalities, mismatch of aura, difference in brain and body chemistry, clash of mentality and thinking pattern. All these things create friction between individuals thus leading to disputes, quarrels, dislikes etc.
Everybody has their own style of living and once you enter adulthood your life style may confront others and their dogmas can result in friction and disputes. These things will lead to further problems and family members may start disliking one another. A separate abode can prevent these problems and as a result relationships will remain strong and love between the relatives will thrive.
Some may claim that Quran says look after your parents, take care of them especially when they reach the old age. These people fail to realize that joint family means all the brothers, their wives and their children living under the same roof. At the same time living separately doesn’t mean that you should forsake your parents, if they have reached the age where they can’t look after themselves then you should move to their place or bring them to your place as people in other parts of the world do. But if they can take care of themselves then it’s not compulsory to share the same place. Another point that these people fail to realize is that their wives have also left the home of their parents. Same rules that apply to men with regards to their parents apply to women. If she has left the home of her parents does it mean she has abandoned her parents? Does it mean that she has no obligations towards her parents anymore? So if she can leave her parents home for the sake of this important relation then why can’t you? Living separately doesn’t mean severing ties, all it means is living happily on your own terms within the previews of Islam.
On the other hand bible says, a person should be more loyal to his wife than his parents, Islam hasn’t made this as a requirement. Bible says
‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife. Mark 10:7
Joint family has never been a requirement of any religion or civilization or culture. It is only an Indian culture, and anyone who follows it is actually following the Indian culture not Islam.
In order to avoid all such problems it’s better to live independently. Among the rights of wife one is that if she demands a separate living she should be provided. But in case the husband doesn’t have enough means to provide a separate abode, then at least she should be provided a separate room where nobody is allowed to enter without her permission and if possible a separate kitchen as well.
THIS ARTICLE BY NO MEANS TRIES TO PROVE THAT JOINT FAMILY SYSTEM IS HARAM IN ISLAM.