Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad
My basement is a finished apartment with a separate entrance that I rent. I was renting to the 19-year-old son of a sister in my WhatsApp homeschooling group.
One night, he must have been talking on the phone right next to the vent which connected to the room I was sleeping in as I couldn’t avoid hearing the conversation. I heard him saying that he does psychedelics, and how in one hour he almost died six times because he was skateboarding on the road while high. He has since moved to another state.
What is my Islamic responsibility in this situation? Do I notify his mother of what I heard?
Thank you for your question. Deciding to tell the sister what her son is up to, depends on a number of factors.
Forbidding the Wrong
Commanding the good and forbidding the wrong actually comes with conditions. Please see them here:
What Are the Criteria for Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil?
What is the right approach to commanding the good?
Now that he has moved out of state, there is less of a sense of urgency, but here is what I would recommend to you:
The first responsibility in commanding the good and forbidding the wrong is in respect to the teenager themselves. You should contact him and tell him what you heard and tell him that what he is doing is haram, dangerous, irresponsible and that you plan to tell his parents if he doesn’t stop. This method may or may be useful, using positive reinforcement and a kind approach is usually more effective.
If this has no effect, then tell his mother, but don’t tell her if you think that her knowledge of knowing will not help him. Is he a rebellious teenager? Does he get along with his parents? Will they be able to stop him? Will it only make him want to do it more? Or will telling her that he does drugs, make him better because they will be active and supportive and do something about it?
If you decide not to tell his mother, an indirect way of helping, if you find that to be the best way, is to find good friends for the young man. Put him in touch with religious circles, fun, young religious people, or get him to go to the mosque. Or send him reminders, du’as, videos, or short messages that you hope he is doing well and to contact you or your husband if he ever needs anything.
Finally, to make this decision easier, pray istikhara on the issue, and follow your gut. This issue has a lot of gray areas and is not as black and white as some might think that it is obligatory to just call up his mother and tell her what is going on. We want results in the most effective, and in the least embarrassing way for him, and hopefully engender some taqwa (God-fearingness) in him. Telling his mother may or may not be a path to that.
Please see these Answers as well:
How Can I Help My Brother Who Is Addicted to Drugs?
My brother is addicted to drugs and violent
Prayers not accepted for drug abuse
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.