Answered by Ustadh Faraz A. Khan
Question: My non-Muslim parents and relatives are against my practicing of Islam. Obedience and submission to God has no place in their mind. Since I am with them now, far away from scholars and people to ask for advice, my faith is terribly low. Here, I’m involved in sin because I don’t find the strength to tell my family I don’t shake hands with women and that I must fast in Ramadan. My mother seems to be unable to bear such changes because she had many trials in the last years. She cries almost every day. So I don’t know how to tell her that it’s not finished, there’s something more, it’s not just praying five times a day and not eating non halal meat and not having girlfriends.
I keep making supplication to be delivered from this situation but I think my faith is weak. I don’t uphold the prophetic character because it’s hard for me, having no living example around me, being sad and stressed for this situation, finding hard to communicate with people, particularly my parents, without starting talking about impermissible stuff, slandering, or things like that. Please advise me.
Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,
I pray this reaches you in the best of health and faith. May Allah Most High shower you with blessings and ease for you your affairs, especially in the approaching blessed month of Ramadan.
Misgivings Regarding Weakness of Faith and Supplication Not Being Answered
In the Qur’an, Allah Most High calls the devil “the deceiver” [gharur], as he most often resorts to trickery and deception when casting misgivings in the breast of the believer. This is termed “satanic whispering” [waswasa], and is such a common tactic of the devil that Allah sealed His Book with the chapter that teaches us to seek refuge in Him Most High from such whisperings [Sura Nas].
Moreover, one of the aims of the devil’s whispering is to push the human being into despair and depression, making him feel so low as to lose all hope in Allah and His infinite mercy. When the believer entertains feelings of worthlessness and being undeserving of Allah’s compassion, he should immediately recognize those feelings as stemming directly from the devil and, as the Qur’an commands, “take him as an enemy” [35:6]. How does one respond to an enemy? Combat. This combat against the devil entails seeking refuge in Allah Most High, performing ablution, and turning one’s heart sincerely and solely to Allah Most High, in full hope, reliance, gratitude and love of the Divine. These lofty states of the heart are the most potent weapons against Satan, as he despises nothing more than a believer expressing love and gratitude towards Allah. Part of having true hope in Allah is to be certain that He will answer one’s supplication, as He Himself states in the Qur’an, “Call on Me, and I will surely answer you” [40:60]. This is a promise from Allah, and as He Most High states, “Allah never breaks His promise” [3:9].
Increasing the strength of one’s faith is a gradual process, and one should not get disheartened by slips and lapses in one’s practice, but rather take the means to ensure long-term growth and improvement. These include learning one’s religion, implementing what one learns to the best of one’s ability, and turning to Allah for help in obeying His commands. In light of your being a convert to Islam, I would recommend taking the steps outlined in the following answer with regards to dealing with your non-Muslim parents:
Love For Your Parents and When Not to Obey
Allah and His Messenger [peace and blessings be upon him] exhort the believer to love his parents and family, whether they are Muslim or not. The believer’s attitude towards his family should reflect ihsan, or kindness and excellence in conduct, in all circumstances. Allah Most High says, “And We have enjoined upon man kindness to his parents” [29:8]. However, obedience to one’s parents is conditioned upon it being in accordance with the Sacred Law. As such, the verse continues, “But if they strive to make you associate with Me that of which you have no knowledge, then obey them not.” Allah Most High gives the example of parents trying to compel their child to engage in the most heinous of crimes, namely, associating partners with the Divine [shirk], yet the verse extends to anything prohibited by Allah. This is supported by the oft-cited prophetic statement, “There is no obedience to creation if it entails disobedience to the Creator” [Tabarani]. On a practical note, I would strongly encourage you to take courses on Islamic law [fiqh] to learn the limits of the Sacred Law and when you can or cannot take legal dispensations when dealing with your parents.
Finally, to encourage the believer to be strong and steadfast in the face of such an overwhelming trial, that of refusing to obey one’s parents in sin while simultaneously displaying the kindness and excellence owed to them despite their attitude, Allah Most High ends the verse with the most important thing to keep in mind with trials, “To Me is your final return, so I will inform you of what you used to do.” [Nasafi/Madarik al-Tanzil] The believer’s destination is Allah, and as such his hope is in Allah, his heart is with Allah, his days are for Allah, his nights are for Allah, and his very breaths are for Allah. The believer desires nothing except to win the good pleasure of his Lord. Keeping one’s destination in mind alleviates the toils of the journey, no matter how arduous, especially when the destination is one of ultimate joy and felicity.
Feelings of Being Left Without Guidance
If your questions to scholars are not being answered immediately, be patient and have a good opinion of both those scholars as well as Allah. Allah would never leave a servant without guidance; rather, such delays are part of the trials of life that He gives us to test our patience and contentment with the Divine Decree. Have the very best opinion of your Lord, and you will find Him to be as you conceive of Him. If you have firm conviction that He is always with you and will always give you a way out of your troubles, then He will never leave you in a bind. Our Beloved Messenger [peace and blessings be upon him] taught us that Allah says, “I am in the opinion of My servant” [Bukhari].
Remember also that such thoughts, that Allah would leave you without guidance, are again from the devil’s whispering, so take him as an enemy and never believe his vicious lies.
Fasting in Ramadan and Your Mother’s Feelings
If you are of sound health then you must fast in Ramadan. Do not worry about your mother’s emotions. Treat her with as much kindness, love and respect as you are able to, and leave the rest to Allah. The word for “heart” in Arabic is qalb, derived from a root meaning “to turn over or change.” Human hearts by their very nature are constantly changing, swaying from one emotion to the next, except those who Allah Most High makes steadfast on the truth. Remember that everything in this universe, including the emotional state of your parents, is in Allah’s hands. Our Beloved Messenger [peace and blessings be upon him] is reported to have said, “The hearts of the children of Adam, all of them, are between two fingers of the fingers of the All-Merciful, like one single heart; He turns them whichever way He wants” [Muslim]. And Allah says in the Qur’an, “And verily, He alone is the One who causes laughter and causes crying” [53:43]. So consign the matter of your mother’s heart and emotional states to Him, and trust His wisdom and decree. He is in full control, and He will never let you down, inshaAllah.
Dealing with Hardship
Focus instead on your own heart and relationship with Allah. The above hadith regarding human hearts ends with the following beautiful supplication: “O Turner of hearts, make my heart steadfast on Your obedience.”
اللّهُمَّ مُصَرِّفَ الْقُلُوْبِ صَرِّفْ قُلُوْبَنَا عَلى طَاعَتِك
Along with this supplication, keep your tongue moist with the remembrance of Allah, send abundant blessings upon the Messenger, and learn about his blessed life and character [peace and blessings be upon him]. The more one learns about his life, the more tranquility one finds in the face of hardship.
Lastly, remember the following words of our Beloved Messenger [peace and blessings be upon him] and realize that the hardship you face brings much good for you in both this life and the next: “No toil, sickness, anxiety, sadness, harm, or stress afflicts a Muslim – even the thorn that pricks him – except that with it, Allah erases some of his sins” [Bukhari, Muslim].
And Allah alone gives success.
Faraz A. Khan
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani
Faraz A. Khan has lived in Amman, Jordan, for several years studying and teaching traditional Islamic sciences, with a focus on Hanafi jurisprudence, hadith studies, theology, logic, and Arabic grammar. He translated and annotated the classical Hanafi primer “Ascent to Felicity” (Maraqi ‘l-Sa`adat) by Imam Shurunbulali, recently published by White Thread Press.