Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad
Our whole family is practicing, but recently we learned that my father sexually abused my children and my young nieces for years. Out of fear, those innocent children didn’t tell us until now, as adults. We asked our father to move out of the country, and my mother takes care of him now. My siblings don’t talk to him anymore. He says he has repented and is still repenting day and night. My family is refusing to forgive him or ever see him again. They say he doesn’t have remorse or regret because he carries on with his life normally when a truly remorseful person should not even be able to eat.
Thank you for your question. I empathize with your devastation and pain, and I pray that you find the delicate balance between protecting your children and giving your father his rights.
Parents and Kinship
A man asked the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), “What deeds are the best?” The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: ‘(1) To perform the (daily compulsory) prayers at their (early) stated fixed times, (2) to be good and dutiful to one’s own parents, (3) and to participate in Jihad in Allah’s Cause.’” [Bukhari]
He also said, (Allah bless him and give him peace), “The most quickly rewarded of good deeds are kindness and upholding the ties of kinship, and the most quickly punished evil deeds are injustice and severing the ties of kinship.” [Ibn Maja]
What has Allah told us about forgiving others in the Quran?
“Who spend (in the cause of Allah) during ease and hardship and who restrain anger and who pardon the people – and Allah loves the doers of good.” [Quran, 3:134]
“If (instead) you show (some) good or conceal it or pardon an offense – indeed, Allah is ever Pardoning and Competent.” [Quran, 4:149]
“And if you punish (an enemy, O believers), punish with an equivalent of that with which you were harmed. But if you are patient – it is better for those who are patient.” [Quran, 16:126]
“And whoever is patient and forgives – indeed, that is of the matters (requiring) determination.” [Quran, 42:43]
“But if you pardon and overlook and forgive – then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” [Quran, 64:14]
Never Say Never
Given that one must be good to one’s parents, and given the seriousness of cutting ties of kinship, I feel that you and your family should reach a point in your lives where contact is made with him. This might mean a phone call a couple of times a year, or messages. This might mean getting in touch with him in his old age, or when he is sick, you must decide how to approach the matter, please pray istikhara on how to do so.
Never judge how sincere his repentance is, only Allah knows, and you are supposed to believe that what he is saying is true. Allah will truly judge him for each and every atom of his deeds. Protect your children, keep them far away, and let them decide if they ever want to see their grandfather. Make a plan to forgive your father in your heart one day, and pray that Allah guides you to do it in the right way. A balance here is necessary, even if it is painful; I don’t think he can be avoided indefinitely.
Please see these links as well:
- Is a Father Who Molests His Daughter Still Considered Her Mahram (Unmarriageable Kin)?
- Dealing Problems With Abusive Father
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 and completed her Master’s 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.