Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad
I have a very tumultuous relationship with my parents. My mother is mentally ill but non-compliant with her treatment. My father enables her. Both are emotionally, verbally, and physically abusive towards me. Aside from this, my mother is a very immature, infantile, and hypocritical woman I have to parent. My father never protected me from any abuse and also beat me himself. They make decisions for their egos, not Allah, even in major matters like marriage. Due to all of this, while I don’t hate my parents and try to be good to them, pray for them, and wish to help them in their elderly age, I don’t respect them at all. I don’t want them to make my life decisions. Am I sinful? How do I respect them?
Thank you for your question. I empathize with your frustration, and I’m sorry that your parents have caused you so much pain and suffering. I pray that you find a way to reconcile with them.
You should take steps to protect yourself from any kind of abuse. If your parents get physical with you, you should not hesitate to call the police. If they verbally abuse you, you can use these coping mechanisms. Remember that your silence to their verbal is tremendous respect in and of itself. That is not to say that you should always accept it. Over time, you should teach your parents that their treatment of you must change, and I am certain that it will, by the grace of Allah.
Your parents don’t seem capable of making major life decisions for themselves, let alone for you. As such, you should not let them force you into marriage or force you into any other decision that will greatly impact you. Please make this clear to them politely, and tell them that you will use istikhara and consultation for your major decisions and will always seek their blessing throughout.
Please see details here on when parents can be disobeyed:
Regaining respect for your parents will be difficult but is not impossible. Much of this will come when you become a parent yourself. Start by looking at the rank of parents, given to them by their Lord. This verse from the Quran will give you a glimpse of that reality. Fear not about your heart; as long as your limbs are serving your parents, your heart will soon follow suit, by Allah’s grace.
Allah, Most High, said: “And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him and that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them, but address them in terms of honour. And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy, and say, My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they raised me when I was small. [Qur’an 17:23-24]
May Allah give you the best of this world and the next.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqida, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.