I Abused Someone. How Do I Forgive Myself and Move On?

Answered by Ustadh Sharif Rosen

Question: Assalam alaykum

I have been living abroad for several years now and visit my home country every 2 years. My elder sister hates me. My other sisters have taken her side and thus don’t reply to any of my letters or gifts. Now even my father doesn’t want me to come visit him as he is living with my elder sister. What can I do?

Answer: In the Name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate

as-Salamu ‘alaykum.

May Allah support you through each fragile step of this situation. May He comfort you through prayer, adhkar and relationships that nourish your spirit.

The circumstances you have described in detail reveal the extent of your personal strain by way of your immediate family. Perhaps you may find a soothing solace in recalling that few have ever suffered as painfully at the hands of their closest relations as the Beloved of Allah, upon him be blessings and peace. Unto the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, and for humanity, the following verses were revealed,

{The good deed and the evil deed are not equal. Respond by that which is more virtuous; then behold, the one with whom there is enmity will become as close as an old and valued friend. But only those who are steadfast in patience, only those who are blessed with great righteousness, will attain such goodness. If the prompting of Satan should stir you, seek refuge with God: He is the All-Hearing and the All-Knowing.}
[41:34-36]

AlhamdulilLah, you appear to be choosing the higher, virtuous road to mending these relationships through gift giving and good will. In deference to our Divine teaching above, I would humbly encourage you to persevere in acts of kindness — even simple ones — amid your family’s callous treatment. As long as your intention is reconciliation and the maintenance of family ties, you are being blessed and rewarded for your patience and loyalty to honoring the commitments made inviolable by Allah Most High. That you are also attempting to express contrition for anything you may have done, even as you seek to learn the reasons for their actions towards you, only underscores your sincerity in this. If that is not apparent to your family, it is not lost on the Most Merciful.

Even as you may continue to make gracious overtures towards your family, it is essential you continue making your case to Allah. Those like yourself — in situations of vulnerability and oppression — have avenues towards the acceptance of prayer that should never be underestimated as our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, informed humanity, “Beware of the supplication of the oppressed, for between it and Allah, there is no barrier.” [Bukhari]

Finally, given these family dynamics, please be sure to never place yourself in situations where your physical safety is compromised. Your efforts to preserve your ties can happen from afar, and may need to until the situation changes into a relationship marked by mutual respect and healthy communication, insha Allah.

May Allah ease your difficulties, and reward you immeasurably for your forbearance.

wa-Salam ‘alaykum.

[Ustadh] Sharif Rosen

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Sharif Rosen is the Muslim Chaplain at Williams College (in the Northeastern United States) where he works to enhance campus life through spiritual and pastoral care; advocacy and coalition building; and deepening mutual understanding within and between communities.  His formative Islamic studies, past and ongoing, have been at the hands of scholars connected via unbroken transmission to the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings.  Most of Sharif’s training occurred in Amman, Jordan from 2008 – 2013, with a focus on creed, ritual law, spirituality, Quranic recitation and exegesis and through which he has received permission to transmit his Islamic learning.  Sharif has a B.A. in History from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and is now completing his graduate studies.  He completed the Classical Arabic program at the Qasid Arabic Institute in Amman, where he was also the Director of Student Life.  He currently serves as the Vice President for Educational Chaplaincy with the U.S.-based Association of Muslim Chaplains.

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