Answered by Ustadha Umm Umar
Question: Assalam alaykum,
I have recently had close relatives from abroad. They are very cultural. They are not used to seeing girls getting an education and working. The only thing they think is important to a lady is for to get married and have kids. They ask and tell me: “Why do you go to school? Just get married, have kids”.However, these are not my priorities as of right now.
How can I tell them respectfully that I do not support their backwards thinking?
Answer: Assalamu Alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,
I pray this message reaches you in the best of health and iman.
There is a great wisdom in each of us living our lives in a manner that only we can choose for ourselves. Others may speculate about what we should or should not be doing, but at the end of the day, it is really your own opinion that really matters.
I would encourage you to consider what feelings might be behind their advice, such as:
-them wanting what they see as best for you
-trying to help you in the best way they can think of
-actually caring about your life and wanting you to find happiness
-concern for your future
-that they love you
These ideas are in no way wrong, in fact the opposite. Now days people are often wrapped up in their own lives to sincerely care for others and their future. Their expression of concern is in fact very sweet masha Allah. I know it can be difficult to have other people attempt to delve into your personal life, especially when you do not wish to consult them. I would advise you to handle this by:
-thanking them for their concern
-attempting to change the subject (a good way is by asking them for advice in another area to distract them, or by asking about a historical event in your family)
-holding them in a good opinion
The Prophet (peace be upon him) was someone who had the best character with every single person he dealt with. He often dealt with desert bedouins, who did not have the finer elements of etiquette that the more local Arabs of Mecca had. Yet the Prophet (peace be upon him) interacted with them in the best of ways, and persevered and remained friendly, even when their conduct left much to be desired.
Likewise, we ourselves need to be patient with others, as an expression of love for our greatest teacher. Also to show that as believers, we are called to the best of etiquette, even when we are provoked, or others are behaving in ways that we find annoying.
May Allah Most High put us all on the path most pleasing to Him,and may we all be exemplars of the best of conduct in our homes and communities, ameen.
Umm Umar (Shireen Ahmed)
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani