Is It Haram to Set Boundaries with My Difficult Family Members?
Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad
Communicating with my family is hard. Misunderstanding & anger always linger. Each of us is dealing with problems, yet, we inflict our issues upon each other. Clear communication has never been used and there were little to almost no boundaries in our lives & little privacy.
I’m struggling most with my older brother who has many insecurities & trouble respecting us. He doesn’t want anyone to annoy him yet he brings the worst out of everyone else. He makes me cry a lot. I’m struggling a little with my parents too. One of my faults is that I haven’t set clear boundaries with them. I want to detach myself from them, communicate little, and place limits. Is that okay or haram?
Thank you for your question. I empathize with your pain and suffering from your family, and I pray that you come to a compromise or solution where everyone finds peace.
It is not haram to set boundaries, as it is obligatory to protect oneself from abuse, but I fear that you might set them in the wrong way, or out of anger, which can make it worse. This is where a therapist or counselor comes in handy because they show you how to do it right. Until you can talk to one, please use the following resources to learn how to set boundaries:
To What Extent of a Boundary Can I Have with Dysfunctional Parents?
9 Ways to Set Boundaries with Difficult Family Members
How to Set Family Boundaries: A Therapist’s Guide
Allah Is with the Patient
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]
Despite the boundaries, you will still require a mound of patience.
Maintain positivity that what you have been through will make you stronger and that you will certainly come out of this a better person whose rank with Allah has been raised. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), said, in this inspiring hadith, “Wondrous are the ways of a believer for there is goodness in every affair of his and this is not the case with anyone else except in the case of a believer. If he has an occasion to feel delighted, he thanks (God), thus there is a good for him in it, and if he gets into trouble and shows resignation (and endures it patiently), there is a good for him in it.” [Muslim]
Supplication of the Oppressed
Find solace in this hadith and ask Allah continuously for help. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “There are three whose supplication is not rejected: The fasting person when he breaks his fast, the just leader, and the supplication of the oppressed person; Allah raises it above the clouds and opens the gates of heaven to it. And the Lord says: ‘By My might, I shall surely aid you, even if it should be after a while.’” [Tirmidhi]
Turn to Allah
Turn your gaze to the One who sent you the problems because only He can solve them. Wholeheartedly devote yourself to Him through praying on time, reading Quran, and omitting the haram from your life. He will bless you and increase you in every good, by His grace. Find a few moments every day to thank him for the blessings in your life in a gratitude journal. Ask him to help you succeed in your worldly affairs so that you can make your way out of this home, and live a normal and peaceful life, with a kind and God-fearing husband. Ask him that you not carry on the cycle of abuse in your own home, as this is very possible unless you actively seek change and guidance.
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.