Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil
Question: Assalam aleykum,
How do we deal with parents who bully us emotionally and spiritually? Who emotionally blackmail us and harm our mental health? Who say they don’t believe the troubles we go through, and that we’re just to be subservient without opinion?
Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for your question. Please forgive me for the delay.
Dear questioner, I am very sorry to hear about the pain you are going through. It is imperative for you to protect yourself from harm, even if it is from your own parents.
We were all created to be slaves of the Creator, and not of creation.
Treating your parents well does not mean being their obedient slave. It means treating them with respect, compassion, and patience.
Abusive parents are fond of using Islam as a form of control and manipulation. This is a form of spiritual abuse, and is forbidden in Islam.
Effective parents work with their children and problem solve together, as a family. This may feel like more effort at first, but is far more effective than using coercion, especially in the long-run. Modelling problem-solving teaches children how to solve their own problems when their parents are gone. Being forced and threatened only teaches children fear, resentment, and hatred of authority and the deen.
If your parents call you to sin, or to support their sin, then it is obligatory for you to actually disobey them – respectfully. This can be incredibly difficult to do, at first, but will get easier over time, inshaAllah. If that is too difficult right now, then at least hate it with your heart, until you are strong enough to resist.
Please seek out a culturally-sensitive counsellor to help you cope with your parents. With the help of your counsellor, learn what healthy boundaries are between parent and child. Understand and practice assertiveness. Learn how to nourish yourself spiritually and emotionally. You have no control over what your parents may say or do, but there is plenty you can do to heal yourself.
I pray that Allah grants them healing too. Abusive parents were often abused themselves. May Allah help you break that cycle, when you become a parent yourself.
Please reach out to other trustworthy family members and close friends for love and support. Abuse can make you vulnerable to the attentions of unworthy individuals.
When you are an abused child, it is very easy for you to be manipulated into believing everything parents say. It is important to educate yourself about the actual rights of parents in Islam. Their station is indeed high, but never at the expense of your own dignity and safety as a believer.
Please make dua for an authentic spiritual guide and teacher.
Life with abusive parents can feel like an unending prison, especially while you are still under their care. Please channel all of your grief, frustration and anger into heartfelt dua. Please wake up in the last third of the night and perform the Prayer of Need and beg Allah for relief. Read and reflect on the wisdoms within Surah Yusuf.
I do not know how old you are, or if you are working and/or studying.
Please consider moving out of your family home as a last resort. If all the other strategies you have used do not make life more bearable for you, then it may be healthier for you to physically separate yourself from your parents.
When you are physically separate from abusive parents, then it will be easier for you to grow stronger emotional and spiritual boundaries. Do not totally cut off contact with them, but maintain the minimum that you are able to, without causing yourself harm.
[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.