Can I Have Less Contact with My Sister Due to Lifetime of Emotional Abuse?

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad

Question

I have a complicated relationship with my elder sister who has always jealous of me. My parents know this very well, they never pick sides. After they passed away, her attitude became worse. She, in general, is a negative person, and to make things worse she’s married to someone whom I feel is even more negative.

Whatever I do or didn’t do, is never right. All this while I close one eye, I still visit them, but they never visit me unless I invite them to my events. At the end of 2020, my brother-in-law personally attacked me about a family issue and I felt that was the last draw. I couldn’t take it anymore. I told them I forgave what they did but now I keep my distance. I can only text, I don’t have the energy to see them anymore.

Answer

Thank you for your question. May Allah give you patience and many blessings for putting up with them and eventually reconciling your relationship.

Minimal Contact

Yes, it is permissible to only see your sister minimally, or call or text. It is never obligatory to put up with abuse, rather one is obliged to protect oneself from it. I recommend that you keep your distance according to your comfort, but make an intention to circle back to a more normal relationship if you eventually sense some change or improvement in her attitude.

As for her husband, he is your brother-in-law, and there is no need to ever say but a few cordial words to him. Decorum with distance (hishma) is always optimal. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), said, in this hadith: “The brother-in-law (al-hamu) is death itself.” [Bukhari]

Turn to Allah

In any time of difficulty and annoyance, you should turn to Allah because any problem that has been sent to you has been sent from Him. Every instance like this is a test whereby Allah wants to see how you will react and if you will follow the sunna of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) throughout. Take some time to devote yourself to God and to study His religion. It will make you feel better and give you a greater perspective on your troubles.

I recommend that you always keep in mind the advice of the Prophet, (Allah bless him and give him peace). He said, “The believer who mixes with people and bears their annoyance with patience will have a greater reward than the believer who does not mix with people and does not put up with their annoyance.” [Ibn Maja]

Please see these links as well:
Setting Boundaries With Siblings
Can We Break Family Ties With Siblings Who Treat Us Badly?

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 aqida, 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.