Answered by Ustadh Farid Dingle
Question: Should I advise my Muslim sister to get back with her boyfriend for the sake of their daughter?
Answer: In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate
There is quite a lot in your question, so I will try to tackle it from a few different angles.
In summary, though, do get involved with your sister’s life, and be there for her wherever she is in her religious life, but make sure she knows that she can only continue her relationship with her ex-boyfriend in an Islamic marriage.
Your sisters need you. And you need them. Mending, both emotionally and psychologically, takes time, but one of the greatest catalysts is family support.
The modern, almost designed breakup of the family unit is itself a cause of weakened emotional strength — a strength that we all rely on as an immunity to the ‘flings and arrows’ of the chaos of This World (Dunya). Sometimes circumstances force us to separate ourselves from our immediate kith and kin, but we always need to work to rebuild these ties for immediate benefit in This World, and our benefit in the next. So keep in contact with them, and help them through their religious confusion, because you too need them in your life.
Family ties are so important in Islam that Allah Most High equated it in the Quran with turning away from Islam:
‘And might it well be the case that, if you turned away, you will spread corruption on earth and violently sever your ties of relationship? [47:22]
It has also come in a Hadith Qudsi that the womb (the symbol of family ties) stood up before Allah and said, ‘Here I am seeking refuge from being cut off!’ At this Allah responded saying, ‘Yes, [I grant you that]. Will you be content if I keep closing whomsoever keeps you close, and cut off whomsoever cuts you off?’ To which she replied in the affirmative. [Bukhari and Muslim]
So in this vein, it would probably be a good idea to reach out to your brother too, even if he is in another country, and to parents too eventually. All of this is part of the healing process, and all of this is part of the completion of our faith.
The Letter of the Law
Before we proceed to the specifics of what to do in this scenario, we need to get our bearings on what the Sacred Law says about your sister’s relationship and her daughter.
You and I both know that an extramarital relationship between a man and woman is not halal, and that means that Allah hates it and will not make it bear fruits of happiness in the long run. For this reason, the Sacred Law does not recognize the legitimacy of fatherhood outside the fold of marriage: the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘The child is the bed’s [i.e. the mother’s], and the fornicator gets the stone.’ [Muslim] This hadith tells us that is not an issue of biological paternity, rather than only the mother is considered the mother in Allah’s eyes, and the biological father who was not married to the woman has no relationship to either one: he is not the child’s father. This is important to know and recognize, even if the law of the land states otherwise. It means that the daughter will never inherit from the biological father, and is not considered his mahram.
It is also worth noting that as we all know, a Muslim woman cannot marry a non-Muslim man. The only way that your sister and her former partner could get back together again would be by him becoming Muslim, and then the two getting married. This marriage would also make him the daughter’s mahram.
Trying your best
Now you are probably sitting there reading this and thinking to yourself that this is all well and good, but your sister does not look at things like this at this particular point in her life. Right now, she is trying to survive physically, financially, and emotionally as a single mother. From her current point of view, she is probably torn between love and hate, and toying with the idea of getting back with someone who has a vested interest in her and her (and his) daughter.
Given the situation, you really just have to try your best to realize the least amount of harm on all levels. What if she does go back to him and becomes Muslim? What if he doesn’t become Muslim? What if she doesn’t and just ends up a single mother? What if she just gets another boyfriend?
These are all possibilities that you have to factor in. So just be there for her in these decisions and turn her towards the most god-fearing choices she can actually make at this time in her life.
One of the scholars of the past said, ‘He who guides you to the This World has cheated you; he who guides you to doing acts of worship has tired you out, but he who guides to Allah Himself has given genuine advice.’ This is what she needs right now: a comprehensive will to turn to Allah that will translate into a genuine resolve to abide by His rules.
The golden principle is that Allah is running the show and that whenever we show genuine remorse and willingness to change, He opens solves things for us in unfathomable ways. This entails that we all decide to abide by the Sacred Law, leave the haram in our lives, and strive to perform what is incumbent upon us.
Allah Most High says, ‘Allah is the Protector of those who have faith: from the depths of darkness He will lead them forth into light.’ [2: 257]
We ask Allah to takes us all out of the darkness and into His light. Amen.
[Ustadh] Farid Dingle
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language.