Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad
Question: Assalamu alaykum
My mother backbites about one child to the other. She scolds me for my siblings’ mistakes is always rude to me. She is never interested in my important events. There are many helpers in the house, alhamdullilah, so she doesn’t do any housework nor cook. She only gets up to do her daily tasks. I come home tired after work, but she asks me to do all the housework at night because we don’t have a maid at night. I do it but she finds faults in that as well. My other siblings come home tired too, but they can rest or sleep without doing chores. My dad and I do almost everything. Even though I control myself sometimes I shout at her when she interferes with my chores.
Answer: Assalamu alaykum,
I empathize with your difficult situation. Everyone deserves to live with respect and dignity and not be put down or abused. May Allah help you to get out of this situation.
Allah Most High says, “O believers! Avoid many suspicions, ˹for˺ indeed, some suspicions are sinful. And do not spy, nor backbite one another. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of their dead brother? You would despise that! And fear Allah. Surely Allah is ˹the˺ Accepter of Repentance, Most Merciful.” [Qur’an, 49:12]
And He Most High says, “Woe to whoever disparages others behind their back or to their face.” [Qur’an, 104:1]
Hudhaifa reported that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “A slanderer will not enter the Garden.” [Bukhari; Muslim]
Ibn ‘Abbas reported that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) passed by two graves and said, “They are being punished and not for anything very great. One of them did not guard himself against urine and the other was involved in backbiting.” [Bukhari; Muslim]
Please see the following links for a definition of backbiting and what to do when you hear it:
What Constitutes as Slander, Backbiting and How to Avoid It?
What To Do When You Hear Slander and Backbiting
You can’t control it when your mother backbites, but you can control listening to it. When she starts, just change the subject. If you can tell her that you don’t want to listen to slander, judge whether she can respectfully accept that or whether she will get angry. Act accordingly. If she can’t handle your reasoning, just leave the room or change the subject every time she starts. You could also respond to each of her complaints by saying something positive about the person.
Like a maid
You don’t need to accept being treated like a maid. If she genuinely needs help, you can divide your chores throughout the week and do them at your pace, not hers. If you are tired, tell her so. Ask your siblings to get involved in the chores as well, don’t expect your mother to tell them. Explain to your siblings that if you all work together at night, the chores will get done faster.
It is not obligatory for you to do your mother’s chores. Your obligation in Islam is to be kind to her, not to obey her.
Try your best not to shout at her, because it is sinful to disrespect one’s parents. I am not saying that you are unjustified in your anger, but channel your grief and anger into du`a in the last third of the night instead of shouting. Ask Allah to help and send you something better in your life. Perhaps, it is a good time to marry? Ask Allah to facilitate whatever is best for you, and ask Him for `afiyah (relief).
May Allah make it easy for you and give you `afiyah.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
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 Masters in Arabic. Afterwards, 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.