Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil gives a detailed answer on being asked by parents to cut ties with a brother.
I have an older brother who is very dear to me (raised me and my sister very well). He is a really great guy, but recently he has “fallen in love” with a horrible woman. She had her eye on him when he was in relations with her cousin, and since then she had flirted with him and made him fall in love with her.
She is older and also has two young children. She always goes out and she shows my brother off as if they are married. She has sworn at my parents many times and called my family bad names, but my brother really wants to marry her and she won’t let go.
This has been going on for four years and my parents are very hurt by his actions. They have done everything to get him to stop other than agree to let him marry her. I am very lost and don’t know what to do. It’s like choosing between my parents and brother. I resent his girlfriend as well, I really don’t like her. My parents gave them two chances, They ruined both, but they won’t stop asking to get married.
My father said to my brother that he can go get married but we will cut all ties with him. Should we be cutting ties with my brother? In Islam, we are supposed to do everything for our parents, but we are also told not to cut ties, so I’m very confused on what to do at this point.
I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.
Cutting off Ties
“If they strive to make you associate with Me anything about which you have no knowledge, then do not obey them. Yet keep their company in this life according to what is right.” (Sura Luqman 31:15)
I am sorry to hear about your troubled family situation. It is very difficult when your own brother wants to marry someone who has treated your family so poorly.
Even so, cutting off ties with your brother is impermissible. You are permitted to keep a reasonable distance from him and his future wife e.g. visiting them monthly instead of weekly, for example.
Even if your parents forbid you from visiting him, please know that there is no obedience in disobeying Allah.
Looking to the Future
Please know that if your brother has children, then they are innocent from the sins of their mother, and are still your nephews and nieces. Especially while they are young, the only way you can cultivate a relationship with them is through keeping on civil terms with your future sister-in-law. You do not have to like her, but you do have to treat her with respect and kindness.
Connection brings about influence. Cutting off ties will render your parents and you powerless. The more you distance yourself from your brother, the more he will stay connected to the woman he wants to marry, instead of you and your family. If your parents cut him off, how will they get to know their future grandchildren? Choosing short-term relief will cause long-term pain. Choosing short-term difficulty (working on accepting a difficult daughter-in-law) will bring about long-term happiness, inshaAlah.
Wisdom behind This
Narrated Ibn ‘Umar (peace and blessings be upon her): Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Keys of the unseen knowledge are five, which nobody knows but Allah.Nnobody knows what will happen tomorrow; nobody knows what is in the womb; nobody knows what he will gain tomorrow; nobody knows at what place he will die; and nobody knows when it will rain.” (Bukhari)
Allah Most High knows what we do not know. This whole difficult situation is a means to exercise patience and good character.
Perhaps your brother just needs to learn the hard way by getting married to this woman. Perhaps Allah has destined this woman to be the mother of his children.
Perhaps marriage will soften her heart. Being a single mother of two children is no easy task. Perhaps the security of marriage will help to bring out her kindness, and perhaps she will ask forgiveness from your parents. The question is whether or not your parents can find in their hearts to forgive her. In the end, she is the wife your brother has chosen.
In case his marriage does not work out, then it is all the more important for you to stay in touch with your brother.
Goodness to Parents
Narrated Ibn Mas‘ud, may Allah be pleased with him: A man asked the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him: “What deeds are the best?” The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “(1) To perform the (daily compulsory) prayers at their (early) stated fixed times, (2) to be good and dutiful to one’s own parents, (3) and to participate in Jihad in Allah’s Cause.” (Bukhari)
It is indeed your personal obligation to be respectful and kind to your parents. However, this does not include obeying them in that which displeases Allah. Explain this to them calmly, with the utmost deference.
Beneath your parents’ anger are probably deep feelings of helplessness, disappointment, grief, and so on. They are both probably so heartbroken that after everything they have done to raise your brother, he has turned his back on them by wanting to marry a woman of bad character. This is a great test for them.
Good Character and Boundaries
It is a very big headache to feel stuck in between your parents and your brother and his future wife. So I encourage you to see it this way: the more they complain about each other to you, the less likely they are able to mend ties. They need to talk to each other, not about each other. This is, of course, easier said than done.
It is all the more important for you to show good character. This does not mean being a doormat, however. When you do attend your brother’s wedding and visit his family home, be kind and patient. If your future sister-in-law starts to badmouth your parents, then draw a polite and firm boundary, e.g. “Please do not speak about my parents like that.” Suggest that she raise her concerns directly with them, with a mediator.
Similarly, suggest that your parents find a wise elder/local scholar to mediate a discussion with your brother and his future wife.
Working with Reality
Four years of bad blood is a long time. Unless your brother’s future wife has an undiagnosed mental illness, I do not understand the motive behind her bad behavior towards your parents. Is she lashing out in response to feeling shamed?
She probably knows that she is not ideal wife material. It sounds like your parents would have preferred that your brother marry someone younger and a virgin, and perhaps someone of their choosing. Instead, he chose a culturally frowned upon older single mother. She didn’t “make him” fall in love with her – nobody has that kind of power. He freely gave his heart away and wants to marry her.
She is either a problem or an opportunity for growth – and she is not going away. I advise you and your parents to accept this reality, and to embrace her place in your brother’s life with open, forgiving hearts. At least she is Muslim. Reflect on that. She is openly sinful, but at least she is still Muslim. Imagine your brother wanted to marry a non-Muslim single mother.
I am not saying that what she is doing is right. I am merely stating this fact – she is not going away. So show her compassion and good character, in the hopes that she will soften, and perhaps one day ask your parents for forgiveness. I pray that your brother knows the responsibility he is carrying, by being a stepfather to two small children. Perhaps his kindness to them will help them be better in behavior than their mother.
However, for as long as he is angering your parents, then he is not in a good state with Allah. So I encourage your parents to find a way to forgive him for his foolishness, and his poor decision-making skills. He has many other virtues, from your description. It is better for your parents’ hearts, too, to let go of their understandable anger. May Allah elevate their ranks in Jannah for enduring so much. You all have a choice in how you respond to this tribulation. It has dragged on for far too long, so choose forgiveness, compassion, and mercy.
Imagine the difference in these two scenarios:
Scenario A (what your parents are headed to): A wedding where your brother has none of his family with him, a heart full of rejection, anger and sadness, and a daughter-in-law who is even more sure that her in-laws do not want her, and stepchildren who will not know their stepfather’s family. Your sister-in-law is unlikely to want your brother’s unborn children to have a relationship with any of you. Rejection breeds more rejection.
Scenario B: A wedding with the blessing of your parents, and a joining of families. Your brother’s heart overflowing with love for all of you, your future sister-in-law softened by the acceptance of her in-laws, and her children knowing that they have a stepfather, new step-uncles and step aunties, and even step-grandparents. Your brother’s children will be happily embraced by your parents. Love brings about more love.
The choice is yours. I pray this has been helpful.
Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.