Guiding One’s Family Towards the Good: Advice & Tips
Answered by Sidi Abdullah Anik Misra
Question: I am an American-Muslim and have been Muslim all my life. My practice of Islam has been up and down throughout the years. My offences have been not acquriing Islamic knowledge, not praying, breaking fast, not dressing modestly etc. Since college I have been trying to improve my Islam by listening to scholars, watching less tv, praying consistently and making up fasts, etc. But unfortunately my family has not grown with me. My dad loves music, my sister don’t cover properly my niece watches tv and wants to be an actress an singer. I feel like I am doing the bare minumum to improve my Islam and am no where near perfect but what about my family? What can I do for them? And how can I correct them when I did many of the same things myself in recent history or still slip on these things myself?
Answer: Wa alaikum as salaam,
Thank you for your question. One of the most beautiful things to hear about is a Muslim who, through the confusions and tests of life, slightly goes off track, then realizes her mistake and is guided back to Allah Most High. It is indeed a great mercy from Allah Most High because He could have left us to spiral downward had He wanted; instead though, He wrapped us in His divine concern, lifted us up, and mended our broken souls.
This shows us that He is lovingly watching over us even while we are heedless, and He is ready to forgive us, if only we sincerely return to Him.
It is true that you should advise your family to the best, and your concern is commendable. However, the conditions to enjoining good and forbidding evil as a duty are:
1. that one has sound knowledge of what they are exhorting to,
2. that your advice will not cause a greater harm, such as a person becoming stubborn and spurning the religion altogether and
3. that you feel reasonably sure they will heed your advice at that time. This requires a lot of wisdom and patience as well, since people do not like to be “preached” to. [Bajuri, Sharh Jawhara]
Remember to be gradual and gentle with your family members, as you said you were just doing the same thing some time ago. The same way you would not like harsh or pushy advice, don’t be the one to do it. It’s ok that you’re still struggling; your advice will then go to help you and them- but only when they are ready to hear it. Tread carefully but surely, for you walk on people’s feelings; even the most disobedient of Muslims is a person of Paradise insha Allah and thus worthy of immense respect.
Try to encourage the hearts towards Allah Most High first and give people hope to establish a relationship with Him. This bond, then prayer, will wean them [and us all!] off of their bad habits. When they are ready to cut things out of their lives, it will become apparent, perhaps without your even saying anything further. Judge and take account of yourself according to the standards of the Sacred Law, but look to others with the greater reality in mind- that they are simply playing out what Allah has destined for them, till and if He chooses to guide them back to Him. Perhaps Allah Most High has in store for them such a returning and repentance, that they become the most pleasing of people to Him. And make dua’ for them. Addressing my own self first,
Abdullah Anik Misra
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani