How Can I Deal With My Elderly Mother Who Refuses Assistance?

Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah

Question: Assalamu alaykum

My mum returned back to Christianity after she and my father got divorced. I have been trying my best to talk to her about Islam. She says that Islam does not allow that a Muslim goes to anywhere for prayers like the Christians go to the pastors for spiritual help. I lack the proper way to convince her. Could you help me?

Answer: Walaykum assalam. Jazakum Allah khayr for writing in to us. I pray Allah guides your mother to the religion with love and increase in faith.

The first thing to do is try to understand why your mother feels that Islam is no longer suitable for her. It is important to hear what image of Islam has been formed in her mind, regardless of whether they are correct or not. Once these are understood, then one can consider how best to address any concerns, offer advice, and invite back to the religion.

Understanding the cause

This may or not be the case with your mother, but quite often, when people of two faiths marry, it is difficult for them to separate the actual religion from the experiences they encountered during marriage, particularly if those experiences were unpleasant.

An unhappy marriage to a Muslim man or woman can sometimes lead to the non-Muslim spouse associating Islam with the negative aspects of the character and behavior of that spouse.

Equally possible, is that the person was searching for something particular from the religion but did not find it. For example, a person looking for spiritual fulfillment may not necessarily be shown how to achieve this by their spouse, or even by religious authorities, who themselves may not be particularly spiritual or soul-searching individuals. It sounds like your mother was looking for spiritual guidance in Islam and did not find it.

However, as we know, spirituality certainly is a part of Islam, no less than any other faith. This is what needs to be presented to your mother, as well as a sound understanding of the religion in general.

Advice

I suggest you try the following with your mother:

1. Speak kindly to her whenever any religious discussion comes up. Allah desires us to speak kindly and gently with our parents, as well as to generally ‘speak kindly to people’ [2:83]

2. If you can, go back home for a visit so you can speak face to face. It is very difficult to have meaningful discussion long distance. Seeing you in person may make her heart soften and incline towards what you are saying much more easily.

3. Listen to her concerns and either yourself and/or get someone who is learnt, reliable and easy in manner, to speak with her about any religious issues she has concerns with. Pay particular attention to her spiritual concerns and how these may be addressed.

I would also suggest seeking out people of sufism whom your mother may meet so she sees for herself that Islam does offer spiritual guidance and a path to God through spiritual development. Insha’Allah you will find such people in your home country.

4. Buy her two books to read:

1. Asad Tarsin’s Being Muslim

2. Sh. Abdul Hakim Murad’s Islam, Religion of Life.

I also recommend printing out the following articles of Sh. Nuh Keller for your mother to read:

1. The Place of Tasawwuf in Traditional Islamic Sciences

2. A Letter to Christians in the Ukraine

5. Make plenty of du’a for your mother and for her guidance, in your own words, and from your heart. Allah guides whom He wills, all we can do is play our part in the best way we can.

May Allah grant you and your mother the very best in this life and the next, and make Islam beloved to her.

Warmest salams,
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah

Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.

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"Whoever guides someone to goodness will have a similar reward"-- The Prophet (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him)