How to Deal With Difficult Siblings?
Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah
Question: Assalamu alaykum
For a long time I have been having problems with my sister who lives with me. She has an incredibly abrupt character and always comes out with verbal abuse. I cannot stand to be in her presence. How can I deal with being around her?
Answer: Wa’alaykum assalam. Thank you for your question. May Allah grant you every ease.
Dynamics between sibling can be often be complex and challenging to deal with. The test then, is in how we work with the relationship that we have been given, and how well we can straddle the line between maintaining the ties of kinship while avoiding on-going harm to ourselves.
Maintaining the ties of kinship
The Prophet ﷺ said, ‘Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him maintain the ties of kinship.’ [Bukhari].
Maintaining the ties of kinship means keeping the familial connection open and amiable, and not cutting off one’s relatives or refusing to talk to them. At its optimal, it means regularly visiting or keeping in touch, exchanging gifts, and helping one another. At its most simple, it means saying salams once in a while or returning salams.
Despite one’s best efforts it may be that relatives continue to be hostile. Unfortunately, there is very little one can do in this situation other than ensure that one is doing what is obligatory upon them. One does not need to accept any type of abuse from siblings.
It is not clear from your question whether it is your home, your sister’s home, or a shared household. Depending on who’s house it is, it maybe that the only solution is that one of you move out and lives elsewhere, if that is a viable option.
Perhaps you could try the following to ease tensions in the meantime:
– Have a heart to heart with your sister and tell her how you feel. Alternatively, get someone who can mediate between you both and convey your feelings.
– If living separately is not an option, take note and make a list of times and situations that most problems occur. Try to avoid being in the same space during these moments.
– Don’t stay up late together, as this is a time when people are usually tired and unnecessary arguments can happen.
– Buy your sister gifts despite her behaviour towards you. Doing it for the sake of Allah will carry great rewards and over time soften her heart insha’Allah.
– When she puts you down calmly tell her that you don’t like it and ask her to stop. D
o your best to stay calm, and let her see that you are not going to retaliate with the same behaviour.
– Whenever you feel stressed about the current situation, take some time out. If possible read the Qur’an and make dhikr, ‘for without doubt, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.’ [13:28]. Make du’a, for yourself and for her, and ask Allah to take away any ill feelings towards each other.
– Make plenty of this dhikr when you feel anxious or upset:
حسبي اللهِ ونعم الوکيل
Allah is my sufficiency, and how perfect a benefactor. [Abu Dawud]
(This invocation is best repeated 3 times or more in odd counts)
You may also find the following answers helpful:
How to Maintain Ties of Kinship Despite Hateful Siblings?
How Do I Forgive a Sibling Who Hurts Me?
I pray that Allah grants an easy way out for you and resolves your situation swiftly.
[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.