Can I Throw Away My Father’s Junk Even if He Asks Me Not To?

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad

Question:

My mother passed away a year ago, and my father lives alone in the house for now. The house is full of old stuff which he doesn’t use, and now, when I am here to give it away or toss it out, he doesn’t let me. The reason he gives is: “Since I said it, you shouldn’t throw it.” Will I be wrong if I go ahead and give away the stuff and go against his words? I tried reasoning with him, but he won’t listen, and it may impact his health.

Answer:

Assalamu alaykum,

Thank you for your question. I understand your problem all too well. Hoarders don’t understand that they are hoarding, and really, no one can solve it until they see the light on their own.

His property

Because the property is his, you should respect it and listen to him. Your mother has only passed away a year ago, and this is a relatively short time for someone who is getting used to their new normal. Let him live with the things until his focus shifts, and he starts to see them as a nuisance himself. Here are a couple of things you can try:

Steps

-When you visit, don’t de-clutter, but clean. Clean out the fridge, throw away bad food, wipe it down, and organize it. He will start to appreciate you and see that you know what you are doing. Clean, vacuum, dust, organize the pantry; at least he won’t be living in unsanitary conditions.

-If you really want to throw something out, ask him if you can have it. Tell him that you need it and want to have it for yourself. When you leave with it, it’s yours, so you can throw it out on your way home or donate it.

-If you find something useful but broken among the junk, fix it. At least he can get some use out of it, and then it’s no longer junk. If you find wall decor lying around, hang it up on the wall so it finds a home and doesn’t pile up.

-Ask him if he would like to sell his used belongings for extra cash or give them away to refugees who desperately need them. Impoverished people usually strike a chord with elders. Take pictures and post ads online for him.

-Try the tips in the link. If your father is a true hoarder, it’s a complex disorder, and he needs to be treated carefully:
https://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/helping-someone-with-hoarding-disorder.htm#

Bond

May Allah reward you for wanting to care for your father and for helping him. Don’t forget to bond with him also by praying with him, taking him out, and inviting him over regularly. The closer you get to him, the more he will respect you and listen. Don’t make your conversation all about the stuff, but connect to him on a deeper level. The stuff gives him memories, and there could be happiness associated with it, so let him take it slowly.

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, tafseer, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her master’s in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan, where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She recently moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.