Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil
Question: Assalam aleykum,
My father is abusive towards my siblings, myself, my mother, and even his workers.
He works so hard to give us the best material wealth, but abuses us. He destroyed the life of our big brother.
He makes our mother work from morning to evening. His verbal abuse towards my mother and my brother has not stopped over the years. How do I deal with a father like this?
Answer:Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us. Please forgive me for the delay.
Narrated Anas: Allah’s Messenger (upon him be blessings and peace) said, “Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one. People asked, “O Allah’s Messenger (upon him be blessings and peace)! It is all right to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor?” The Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace) said, “By preventing him from oppressing others.” [Bukhari]
It is likely that your father has a serious and undiagnosed mental illness. A sane and healthy person would not behave the way he does.
It does not sound like he would be open to therapy, especially if he is actively harming you, your siblings and your mother, and shows no remorse. Are you in a position to remove yourself, your mother and your siblings from harm?
In terms of interacting with him, you must keep interactions with him civil and respectful. If he does something to hurt you or your family, then remove yourself from harm. Ask him to stop.
Please strive to wake up in the last third of the night, even if it’s 5-10 minutes before the entry of Fajr. Perform the Prayer of Need and beg Allah to heal your family, and to lift this terrible harm from all of you. Strive to read these duas as often as you can: Selected Prophetic Prayers for Spiritual, Physical and Emotional Wellbeing by Chaplain Ibrahim Long.
Please look after yourself. Do you have trustworthy friends who can look out for you? What are your support networks like?
Please see a holistic therapist who can help you process and let go of your anger and grief.
Mother and siblings
Because your father is unlikely to change, then you must do everything in your power to protect yourself and the rest of your family. I am very concerned for your safety and that of your family. Please perform the Prayer of Guidance about how to move forward.
When you are trapped in an enmeshed family dynamic with significant trauma, it is very difficult to leave, or to persuade others to leave.
Victims of abuse often feel a strong bond with their abuser. Your brother, for instance, and your mother. All you can do is offer the option of leaving, and of rebuilding a life within a place of safety. You are not responsible for how they respond.
If they choose to stay, then you must work on keeping yourself safe and well, even if it means moving out on your own and earning your own keep. By watching you, perhaps your mother and brother can see for themselves how healing it can be for you to live apart from your father.
Islam calls us to excellent character, regardless of what the other party does.
In short, yes, it is better for you to make dua for your father. Despite all the terrible things he has done to wrong you and your family, he is still your father.
When you are ready, please enrol in and complete the SeekersHub course Excellence with Parents: How to Fulfill the Rights of Your Parents. InshaAlah, the course instructor, Shaykh Rami Nsour will be able to answer further questions about your father.
“O you who have believed, seek help in patience and prayer; surely Allah is with the patient.” [Qur’an, 2:153]
The tribulation of having a dysfunctional family is a heavy one. Trust that with patience and excellent character, Allah can transform you through this trauma.
[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.