My Parents Humiliate Me Every Day. What Do I Do?
Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil
Question: Assalam aleykum,
Why are Muslims so aggressive and harsh towards children, and the scholars support it?
My parents always bring up obeying parents because that’s what you do in Islam (mean while my Mom doesn’t wear a hijab, and my dad doesn’t pray at all). They have forced me to study in college and will arrange my marriage to someone back home, whom I am not attracted to, as I only like white girls.
I am done, I don’t want a job or school right now, I’ve had enough.
I can’t do anything about this, I can’t talk back to my parents, I can’t scold them, I can’t disobey them, so what am I to do besides Salah and Dua? Why don’t the scholars speak out against this?
Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.
Dear questioner, I am sorry that when you reached out for help, you were given insensitive advice.
Islam does not condone any kind of abuse. True scholars would never excuse that. We live in a time of great disconnection to authentic Islamic scholarship, and often that manifests in culturally accepted norms that go against Islam.
It is harmful for both young Muslim men and women to be forced to endure abuse. Both women and men have dignity, and when that is stripped away under the guise of submission to abusive parents, it is tremendously harmful.
Your parents are emotionally and spiritually abusing you. You are not the first adult child to go through this and unfortunately, you won’t be the last. You sound exhausted and at the very end of your tether. Your honour and sanity matter to Allah.
Even in a healthy parent-child relationship, many parents struggle to treat their grown children as adults. The key here is for you to learn how to set better boundaries with them. However, because you have been abused for so long, it will be very difficult for you to do so. It will take great courage and persistence on your part.
It is likely that your parents were themselves abused as children, and are perpetuating this cycle with you. As mistaken as they are, they truly believe that they are doing what is best for you. With dua and effort, you can break this cycle and be better parent for your children.
I encourage you to enrol in Excellence with Parents: How to Fulfill the Rights of Your Parents. Please understand what the rights of your parents really are. I hope you can draw comfort from the fact that you are obligated to respect your parents, but not to obey their every whim. This is especially the case for parents who are abusive and not practising the deen.
It would be sinful for you to scold or disrespect your parents by raising your voice, for example. However, it is also sinful for you to sit back and allow your parents to abuse you. Standing up to them will be extremely difficult, if not impossible at first.
You were not placed on this earth to obey the whims of your abusive parents. You were placed on this earth to know and worship Allah. A large part of that is knowing yourself, and you can only know yourself through making your own choices, and learning from your mistakes. Please understand that this is your life to live, and giving in to their demands will only make you even more miserable.
“And no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another. And if a heavily laden soul calls [another] to [carry some of] its load, nothing of it will be carried, even if he should be a close relative. You can only warn those who fear their Lord unseen and have established prayer. And whoever purifies himself only purifies himself for [the benefit of] his soul. And to Allah is the [final] destination.” [Qur’an, 35:18]
You cannot control what your parents do. You can do your best to manage your own behaviour. If you are being driven to despair by their daily verbal abuse, then please, for the sake of your sanity, move out of your family home. You need a safe and healthy living space.
I am not, by any means, suggesting that you cut ties with your parents. That would be sinful. Rather, please limit your interaction with them. Visit them as often as you are able to. Call them and send them gifts.I pray that with distance from them, you will gain a stronger sense of self. Over time, you will be better able to establish boundaries with them in a firm and respectful manner.
In an ideal situation, you would be able to seek advice from a compassionate local scholar. He or she would advise your parents to treat you with mercy and respect, instead of controlling and emotionally manipulating you.
If you cannot find one, then trust that you still have the ability to make changes in your life. In serious cases such as yours, when confronted, sometimes abusive parents will go on the defensive, and not listen to the counsel of scholars.
Your parents cannot force you to marry anyone against your will. If you do not want an arranged marriage, then please make it clear to them from now. They will vehemently dislike what you have to say, but you must take responsibility for your life choices. Again, it will take time and practice, but I urge you to make it clear to them.
Many Muslim men give into parental pressure and marry the wives their parents choose. Some of these marriages turn out well, while others do not.
If you cave into their pressure, then you risk not only harming yourself, but your future wife, and your unborn children. You are free to hurt yourself if you wish, even though that is sinful, but not others. A successful marriage requires you to be fully present with your spouse and children, and if you are not even attracted to your wife, this will be very difficult to do. However, love can and does grow after marriage, and arranged marriages can still be successful.
Please do not feel ashamed of yourself for being attracted to a certain type of woman.
Although physical attraction is extremely important in marriage, making a marriage work requires a lot of effort, maturity and growth. Even if you do not have anyone in mind right now, please read “Before You Tie The Knot” and listen to Getting Married with Ustadha Shireen Ahmed and Shaykh Faraz Rabbani in to better prepare yourself.
Please do everything in your power to look after your spiritual, mental and emotional health. You sound like you need time in therapy to help you process your feelings of anger, powerlessness and despair. You do not have to remain a victim. You still have your whole life ahead of you.
1) Please perform The Prayer of Need and beg Allah for relief and a way out.
2) Seek out a culturally-sensitive psychologist or counsellor to help you process your trauma, and teach you better coping skills.
3) Consider Aafiyah Healing.
4) Speak to a life coach about how to better design your life. Instead of focusing on what you don’t want to be forced into, focus on what you actually want.
5) Work on releasing your trauma. Read up on Peter Levine’s work
I pray that Allah grants you courage, clarity and wisdom. Please keep in touch.
How Do We Deal With Parents Who Emotionally Abuse Their Children?
What Can I Do About My Parents’ Controlling Behaviour?
I Am Estranged From My Abusive Parents. Am I in a State of Disobedience to Allah?
[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.