Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad
I am a BS graduate, and I have a relative who expects me to help her with her studies. She never asks me, she directly comes and just expects me to help her with her studies no matter how long it takes. I have my own work to do. She automatically expects me to help her with her studies, and I don’t like it. She should at least ask for permission first, and if she wants someone to help her, why not get a tutor? Is it okay for me to feel this way? Will I be sinful for not helping her just because she keeps invading my personal space? What should I do in this context?
Thank you for your question. I empathize with your frustration, and I pray that you find a suitable way to communicate your tension to your relative.
You will not be sinful for not helping her, and it is not wrong for you to feel annoyed by this relative. A believer must respect another’s time and space, and ask before assuming anything. Your relative is not displaying high character in the way that she deals with you.
The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Do not be demanding when asking. If one of you asks me for anything and I give it reluctantly, there will be no blessing in it.” [Nasa’i]
And, the halter fell from the hand of Abu Bakr as-Siddiq. He struck the foreleg of his she-camel to make her kneel down, and they said to him: Why did you not tell us to pass it to you? He said, “My beloved, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) instructed me not to ask the people for anything.” [Ahmad]
As with all difficult relatives, you should place boundaries and tell her what you can and can’t do. Cutting off helping her altogether is extreme, as we know that helping a relative is a great charity, which is more virtuous than helping those who are not relatives.
The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Giving charity to a poor person is charity, and (giving) to a relative is two things, charity and upholding the ties of kinship.“ [Ibn Maja]
In addition to this, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “The believer who mixes with people and bears their annoyance with patience will have a greater reward than the believer who does not mix with people and does not put up with their annoyance.” [Ibn Maja]
Perhaps you can put on a timer and tell her that you can help her for half an hour. Also, recommend a tutor for her. And tell her the time that you are available, not just whenever she shows up, this way, she will understand that she doesn’t have free rein over your time. Always aim to have good character, even when you are annoyed, and it can serve you for all eternity, by Allah’s grace.
I remind you and myself that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) told us, “The heaviest thing which will be put on the believer’s scale (on the Day of Resurrection) will be good character.” [Abu Dawud & Tirmidhi]
May Allah give you the best of this world and the next.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria, for two years, where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, Tafseer, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Master’s in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan, where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She recently moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.