How Long Can a Mother Control Her Child?

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad

Question

I know that in Islam we must obey our mothers. But for how long and to what extent can they control us? If the child wants to do something that’s Islamic, such as wear a hijab, but the mother says that they’re not allowed, does the child have to listen to them since they’re still young? Can the child disobey the mother when they’re older (like when they start university) and do what they want to do, given that it’s not haram?

Is this ruling the same for big decisions, such as adopting a child? If the child wants to adopt, but the mother says that they can’t, can one adopt anyways?

Answer

Thank you for your question. May Allah reward you for being sincerely concerned about respecting your parents for the sake of Allah. Obeying them is not unconditional.

Control

Controlling a child is the wrong way to look at this relationship. It’s true that obeying one’s parents is central to Islam, but unconditional obedience is not. Please see the details here about not obeying parents, especially when obligatory or recommended acts are called for.
When May Parents Be Disobeyed, and How?
Do I Have to Obey My Parents If They Stop Me From Listening to Religious Talks?
Limits of Obeying Parents

Hijab

Since wearing hijab is an obligation in Islam, one must wear it by ten years old, (some say nine) as that is when the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), mentioned that children should be praying on time. These two naturally go hand in hand. If one’s mother was opposed to this, one would have to take all the means to convince her, through politeness, respect, and love. Perhaps getting a friend, relative, or scholar involved might help, and most importantly, ask Allah to soften her heart toward the idea.

Adoption

If an adult Muslim wanted to adopt, it would not at all be obligatory to listen to one’s mother who doesn’t want it. Adoption is a tremendously good deed, and Muslims have still not embraced it to the point that other peoples have.

In conclusion, don’t look at your relationship with your parents as one of pure obedience, but rather remember that being good to them will come back to you manifold, and it will gain you ease, happiness, and blessings in this life and the next.

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.