How Do I Deal with a Brother Who Fornicates?

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad

Question

My brother frequently brings home his girlfriend, whom he has openly admitted to sleeping with, and often sleeps at her apartment. My mom has no problem and is encouraging it, while my father is extremely upset and has tried to talk sense into his adult son, who argues back. It has caused some discord in the home and I am not sure what the appropriate Islamic response should be.

Should we refuse to see the girlfriend? How should one advise a brother they may not be close with? The brother has a history of mental illness and is taking out his rage on the family to the point of abuse, so I fear for the situation.

Answer

Thank you for your question. I empathize with how you must feel regarding your brother’s iniquity, but you should tread carefully, and ultimately you are not responsible for his behavior.

Parents

You should start by advising your parents. Enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong are serious obligations in our religion and they should be applied to one’s family first. Allah Most High states, “And let there be amongst you a group inviting to virtue, commanding the good and forbidding evil—those indeed are the successful ones.” [Quran, 3:104]

Once you go through the criteria below, see if you can say something to your brother without making him rebel and resent you. As his sister, I see more benefit in you asking him to pray with you or initiating some spiritual discussion about the afterlife or aspects of the Prophet’s life, Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). These things build up faith, and that is the best way to achieve taqwa (piety) which in turn, makes one hate disobedience.

Related Answer:
What Are the Criteria for Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil?

Safety

If your brother is being physically abusive to the family, the family’s first obligation is to protect itself. If he gets violent, you should call the police. If admonishing him results in violence, then it is not obligatory for the family to admonish him, or at least not to the extent that it triggers his abuse. If you can, you should remind him when he is calm to control his behavior and anger, and if he has a history of mental health issues, he should be seeing a professional.

Disobedience

At the same time, parents must not tolerate the disobedience of Allah under their roof. Your parents have the absolute right to refuse that this girl enters the house. You should also not accept his girlfriend unless he marries her. Your mother may be looking at this in a positive light, and hoping that he will just marry her, and find some peace. If she is Christian or Jewish, this is permissible. Perhaps your mother is hoping that she can teach her about Islam, then she will convert, and then they can marry. You all should pray that this relationship become halal; as one never knows Allah’s plan.

Related Answer:
Guiding One’s Family Towards the Good: Advice & Tips

Turn to Allah

Your patience and prayers will go a long way. Turn to Allah during this difficult time and know that there is ease after every difficulty. Allah hears your prayers and if you ask Him for your brother’s guidance and aid, He will grant it. Make use of auspicious times when supplication is answered, such as the last hour of the day of Friday (right before Maghrib), by praying the Prayer of Need, and Tahajjud before dawn. Read Quran daily with the meaning, and find solace in His book. Hold fast to your religion and practice as well as you can, and intend to purify yourself and keep away from what is prohibited. The blessings that you bring to your home will be felt by everyone.

Please memorize this supplication and say it daily:

“O Allah, make us love belief and adorn our hearts with it. Make us hate disbelief, deviance and rebellion. Place us among the rightly-guided. O Allah, make us die Muslims and make us live as Muslims and join us to the rightly, acting, who are neither disappointed nor afflicted.” [Bukhari, Al-Adab al-Mufrad]

اللَّهُمَّ حَبِّبْ إِلَيْنَا الإِيمَانَ وَزَيِّنْهُ فِي قُلُوبِنَا،
وَكَرِّهْ إِلَيْنَا الْكُفْرَ وَالْفُسُوقَ وَالْعِصْيَانَ، وَاجْعَلْنَا مِنَ الرَّاشِدِينَ‏.‏
اللَّهُمَّ تَوَفَّنَا مُسْلِمِينَ، وَأَحْيِنَا مُسْلِمِينَ
.وَأَلْحِقْنَا بِالصَّالِحِينَ، غَيْرَ خَزَايَا وَلاَ مَفْتُونِينَ‏

May Allah give you the best of this world and the next.

[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.