Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad
I’m a 16-year-old girl, and my father treats me like a stupid child and yells at me when I talk to him calmly. I’ve never cursed at him or yelled or wronged him, though he’s cursed at me, called us names, and threatened to kill my whole family. He favors my older brother. He said he doesn’t care what I think or feel. He has lied, been adulterous, had an illicit child, he has spent money on the haram, and is overall cold and neglectful.
I’ve told him how his bad decisions make me feel, and that he should be grateful that he’s alive because if we were under sharia law he would be dead because of adultery, and I tell him to be a better Muslim. He says this talk is disrespectful to him as a father, that a daughter can’t talk to a father like that, even though I don’t raise her voice or talk back. I’m losing my patience with him.
He’s said horrible things about Allah that I can’t repeat. I truly believe that he’s deaf, dumb, blind, and hard-hearted. I wonder about his Islam. Was I being disrespectful and wrong to tell him that? Isn’t it a duty to advise him?
The best thing I can tell you is to read this answer by Habib `Umar, a well-known scholar of Yemen:
Is Giving Advice to Parents Disobeying to Them?
Advise with Respect
Allah does ask us to advise other Muslims, enjoining the good and forbidding the wrong, but it is much more delicate with parents. Although we should advise them, we must strike the balance of respect and love, and understand that the goal is that they listen instead of being pushed further away.
I believe that you were correct in saying what you said to your father because it seems like he would not listen to any other tone. However, you should not repeat your advice very often because he has heard you once and it has given him something to contemplate. People generally don’t need advice over and over again, it can become overkill.
Always maintain your respect, but respect him as though you mean it. If you are just faking it, he will see right through you.
Bond with Him
Other than advising him, work on strengthening the bond with him. Do something with him that he enjoys, talk to him about some neutral topic. Offer him a cup of tea with dessert. Small deeds like this go a long way and they bring the humane and compassionate side out of people. Once you get him feeling more and showing him that he is wanted by the family and gets a feeling of belonging, he will change, by the grace of Allah.
Turn to Allah
Last but not least, make du’a. Allah is the All-hearing, All-Knowing. Get up before fajr, and ask Allah to help you in this relationship. Pray the Prayer of Need and tahajjud. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and give him peace, told us, “When half of the night or two-thirds of it is over. Allah, the Blessed and the Exalted, descends to the lowest heaven and says: Is there any beggar so that he be given? Is there any supplicator so that he be answered? Is there any beggar of forgiveness so that he be forgiven? (And Allah continues it saying) till it is daybreak.”[Muslim]
Pray on time, pay zakat on time, keep away from the haram, consume only the halal, and be the best Muslim that you can be. This will be a great example for your father and an indirect way of teaching him.
Please see the links below for more information and remember that you are not responsible for his actions on the Day of Judgment, only your own. May Allah reward you and bless your family.
[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.