Answered by Ustadha Rukayat Yakub
Question: I’m a college student and in my past I did some bad things. However, I have repented so much and have completely stayed away from the deed for more than a year and a half now and hope to stay away from it for the rest of my life. The problem is that my sister, who is now in high school, continues to remember my past and blames me all the time for it. Anytime I mention anything that is regarding Islam she mentions my past. Because of this we have many arguments and I don’t like arguing with her because she is still young and doesn’t not understand the depth of the problem of American society. I don’t know how I should deal with these situations and what I should say to her. Also, my mother is not very Islamically minded and doesn’t see how detrimental following certain things in American society can be bad, so it is even harder trying to explain to my sister what she shouldn’t be doing. What should I do?
How to Approach Your Sister
Dear Questioner, I think you need to speak frankly to your younger sister, children are very in tune to what is going around them, you sister was paying close attention to what you were doing two years ago. So my advice is to sit her down and tell her, ” Yes, what I did was wrong. I recognized this and this is why I changed. I asked Allah ta’ala to forgive me and with his aid I have stayed away from such destructive behaviour, Allah is kind, Allah is Generous and Allah is forgiving. and because I love and care about you I do not want you to repeat the same mistakes I made.”
Tell her about the seven shades and how you want better for her. Tell her stories of the sahaba and other righteous ones who changed, tell her stories of mistakes people made and how Allah ta’ala forgive them. Let her know that it is hard to heal the wounds caused by your old behavior if she keeps dredging up the past , just like a physical wound needs to be treated and left to heal and how peeling a scab makes it next to impossible for a physical wound to heal without a scar, her dragging up the past is making difficult you all to move on as loving siblings in a family.
People make mistakes and part of helping others is to acknowledge it and move on. She is in high school so I do not consider her too young to show generosity and kindness to you by letting this go. Let her know that you understand how she feels (i.e that you are being a hypocrite), but let her know that since you have turned away from these acts with the intention to never return to them, Islamically you are doing what is required and you want her help and support to make your family and your relationship a strong one.
You can also talk to her about the importance up family unity and how there are bigger problems out there that perhaps you both can do something about. This could be raising money for a local charity, volunteering with organizations like habitat for humanity, or getting out and seeing how you both can put your energy together in the service of others. Do you presently spend any quality time together? It looks like you need to strengthen you sibling relationship. Do things for her, do things together, make dua for the healing of your relationship with your sister and strengthening of the faith and practice of your entire family.
How to Approach Your Mother
With your mother you could look at studies that show the detrimental effects of the things you are concerned about, sometimes people listen better when they read an academic paper or study on a subject than when someone tells them about it. Many parents do not understand the challenges of growing up in America in the age we live in, it is very different even from growing up in here twenty years ago. Try to have patience with your mom, but do try to educate her the best you are able.
May Allah ta’ala bless you and assist and strengthen you and your family.