Divorce Due to Lack of Household Support

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil is asked if it is permissible to divorce a spouse who consistently refuse to help with childcare and household chores.

 

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

My husband and I have been having arguments on and off for the past few years. My husband doesn’t help me with house chores, nor does he help me care for the kids. He expects me to do it on my own, without any support from him. I get exhausted and overwhelmed from everything I have to do.

I’ve talked to him about helping me out more and I’ve addressed my concerns several times. He seems to just brush it off. I can’t keep going like this. I’m starting to hate him, due the way he treats me. I’m considering divorce, what should I do?

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam, wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.

Marriage Difficulties

Narrated Abu Hurayra, may Allah be pleased with him: “When the following was revealed: ‘Whoever works evil will have the recompense of it.’ (Sura al-Nisa 4:123) That worried the Muslims, so they complained about that to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, and he said: “Seek closeness and be steadfast, and in all that afflicts the believer there is atonement, even a thorn that pricks him, and the hardship he suffers.” (Tirmidhi)

Dear sister, please know that you are not alone in your struggle. Allah is testing you with something so painful as a way to open your heart to Him.

Please know that you are being very reasonable in your expectations from your husband. Children need both their mother and their father. You also need support from your husband to go through the ups and downs of marital life. The Prophetic household was one of love and mercy, something for all of us to strive for.

Reflection Point

What was your husband’s parents’ marriage like? Was your father-in-law a hands-on father, or did he leave everything to your mother-in-law? Unfortunately, this was very common for our parents’ generation. Women were expected to do everything, without complaint. As a result, many men and women missed out on nurturing from both parents, causing problems when they become adults.

For example, a common flow-on effect are husbands expecting their wives to do the same as their mothers. We live in a different time, where women are more educated and empowered. We know the value of husbands who are more present in their children’s lives. Unfortunately, this means more effort on their part, and it is easier for many to just stick to the problematic default model. It takes courage to break out of that. Please perform the Prayer of Need and ask Allah to soften your husband’s heart.

Marital Communication

I am sorry that your husband is not listening. That must feel very frustrating for you. You cannot change his response or his behavior, but you can change your own thoughts, behaviors and beliefs.

Please speak to a culturally-sensitive therapist to learn better communication and coping skills. If that is difficult for you, then there are many Muslima life coaches online, who can schedule calls with you. Sister Megan Wyatt from Wives of Jannah could be an excellent resource for you.

Seeking Support

Please get support through this trying time. Do you have close friends and family you can lean on?

I don’t know how old your children are, but if they are still young, please ensure that you schedule regular time for yourself. You need that time to recharge.

Even if they are not younger kids, do take that time out every day and every week to recharge yourself. This is especially important because your husband is not supportive. The more nourished you feel, the more emotionally generous you can be with everyone else. I find these meditations very helpful when I feel overwhelmed with my multiple roles: Self-Compassion Guided Meditations and Exercises.

What are some ways you can physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally recharge yourself, on a daily, weekly and monthly basis? Please write them down and stick them up on your bedroom wall.

Considering Divorce

It was narrated from Abd Allah bin Umar that: the Messenger of Allah said: “The most hated of permissible things to Allah is divorce.” (Sunan Ibn Majah)

There is a problematic dynamic in your marriage, but before you go down the path of divorce, I encourage you to exhaust all options first.

Please perform the Prayer of Guidance about what to do next. A sign to stay in your marriage could be your husband softening and deciding to change his ways. A sign to leave could be your husband’s refusal to change.

I pray this has been helpful. Please know that Allah loves you. May He offer you solace through this time, and bring you closer to Him.

Please see Love, Marriage and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions AnsweredA Reader on Patience and Reliance on Allah.

Raidah

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


 

Told by Parents to Cut Ties with Brother

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.

Cultivating Influence

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.

See Excellence With Parents: Muhammad Mawlud’s Birr al-Walidayn and Explained: Your Parents’ Rights and How to Fulfil Them.

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.

Growth Mindset

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.

Reflection Exercise

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.

Please also see When May Parents Be Disobeyed, and How? and Do I have to Obey my Parents if they Order me To Leave Sunnah Acts?

Raidah

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Skin Color Modification

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil is asked about being forced by parents to use skin-lightening cream.

I am a brown-skinned girl from South Asia. My parents lately have been really forcing me to apply skin-lightening cream on my face. I really do not want to put it as I’m content and thankful with how Allah have beautified me. Their perception is that I won’t be getting marriage proposals from nice families if my skin color is brown.

Would it be considered disobeying my parents if I refuse to their demand? Also, would it be considered displeasing in the sight of Allah if I really get into changing how He has made me?

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.

Skin Color

Abu Hurayra, Allah be pleased with him, narrated: “The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, ‘Allah does not look at your figures, nor at your attire but He looks at your hearts and accomplishments.’” (Muslim)

Dear sister, I am sorry about your dilemma. Please know that it is the contents of your heart, and not the color of your skin, that matters to Allah Most High. Alhamdulillah, I am so happy to hear that you are content with the looks Allah has given you. May He beautify you inwardly, as He has beautified you outwardly.

Parental concern

Your parents love you, and want you to get married. Unfortunately, they have a problematic belief that only light-skinned women will get proposals from “good families.” I would argue that only superficial families would insist on light skin in a daughter-in-law. A God-fearing family would look at your character. When you are tested with difficult matters in your marriage, the color of your skin will not matter, but the strength of your character will.

It would not be considered disobeying your parents if you politely decline their strong request. Please do not be rude to them, under any circumstances, and address the root of their fear – reassure them that insha Allah one day, you will get married to a good man, from a good family, and the most useful thing they could do for you is to make dua, and send the word out to their social networks.

I suggest that you read this useful link: When May Parents Be Disobeyed, and How?

Harmful Ingredients in Cream

On another note, skin-lightening creams often contain harmful ingredients that can hurt your skin. It would then be impermissible for you to harm yourself through applying it, as harming yourself is forbidden, and displeasing to Allah.

Changing What Allah Has Given

It is praiseworthy for you to look after your physical, emotional and spiritual health. Consuming healthy food, exercising and applying moisturizing creams to nourish yourself, for example, is something you would be rewarded for, insha Allah. However, deliberately changing your appearance through something like cosmetic surgery would be impermissible. See: Is Cosmetic Surgery Allowed?

Preparation for Marriage

I suggest that you prepare yourself for marriage not with skin-lightening creams, but with knowledge of the rights and responsibilities that come with marriage. Please complete the course Marriage in Islam: Practical Guidance for Successful Marriages. The book Before You Tie The Knot: A Guide For Couples is also very educational.

I recommend that you perform the Prayer of Need in the last third of the night, for as long as you need to, and ask Allah for a loving and husband who has both din and good character.

The greatest gift you can bring your future husband, in-laws and children is your own excellent character. I pray that Allah grants you the blessing of a kind husband who comes from a good family.

Please see Love, Marriage and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions Answered.

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Is My Adopted Son Mahram?

Shaykh Jamir Meah advises on adoption, the rulings on mahram, and telling the truth to an adopted child.

My question is: I was childless me and my husband adapted the son of my husband’s brother. Ten years ago my husband died. This boy is 29 and I am 60 so there is huge age gap. My son doesn’t know I am not his real mom, so like an actual mother, when he comes home he shows his respect with hugs, and kisses on the head. What are the rulings on this? I need guidance.

This is a very sensitive issue, however, if handled carefully, will work out fine insha Allah. There are two issues that need to be dealt with; informing your husband’s nephew and adopted son of his real parents, and how to interact with each other.  

Telling the Truth

You should tell your adopted son the truth about his parents. This may be very difficult to do, but he has a right to know who his real mother and father are. It is not clear from the information given whether his real parents are alive or not, which may simplify or complicate the process. 

Either way, hopefully he will realize that what you and your husband did was out of love. He is a grown man and should understand the complexities of the situation. You may also want to seek advice from other family members who can support both you and him during this process.  

Mahram (Non-Marriageable Kin)

Because he is your late husband’s nephew, your adopted son is not your mahram, unless you breastfed him when he was under the age of two years old, with certain conditions fulfilled. For further details on who would be your mahram please consult this answer

This means that a) you will have to fully cover in front of him except for your face and hands, b) avoid seclusion with him, and c) avoid physical contact.  

I understand that this is going to be the most difficult and strange thing to you both as your relationship is of mother and son. Therefore, be patient and know that your love and care for each other will not go unrewarded and whatever hardship you undergo for the sake of Allah, will be recompensed. It may take more thought and effort, but try to find ways you can be in each other’s company lawfully, such as with another female family member present, so you can still enjoy one another’s company.  

If at times, the maternal bond over takes you and you forget or slip in your interaction, or your adopted son towards you, then do your best to stay within the limits while being assured that Allah Most High is most Knowing and ever Compassionate.  

I wish you both every happiness, and that your bond is made stronger for the sake of Allah Most High. 

Warmest salams,

Jamir

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Can a Son Force His Mother to Wear Hijab?

Ustadh Farid Dingle is asked whether a son can force his mother to wear hijab.

Can a teenage son force his mother into hijab or certain types of clothing?

A teenage son cannot force his mother to do anything, but he can and must, just like anyone else, command her to comply to Sharia which includes wearing the hijab and dressing modestly.

Please see What Are the Requirements of Hijab? for more detail.

It would be a good idea for both mother and son to read these together too: A Reader on Calling to Allah, Giving Advice, and Commanding the Good.

I pray this helps.

Farid

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Baby Stopped Drinking Milk

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil eases concerns regarding a baby who won’t eat or drink.

My eight-month-old daughter has been ill for the past three months and has not been drinking milk. She refuses food and milk and has been in hospital three times to be fed via an NG tube.

The doctors don’t know what’s wrong with her and keep saying it might be viral. She gets well in the hospital then starts getting ill when she comes home. She used to be such a happy baby who slept and ate well. My mother thinks there may be a jinn with her or me or in the house. I really do not know what to do.

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.

Ruqya

O you who believe, seek help through patience and prayer. Surely, Allah is with those who are patient. (Sura al-Baqara 2:153)

I am so sorry to hear about your baby, and cannot imagine the heartbreak you are enduring. Please continue to make dua for your baby’s shifa. Dunya is a place of tribulation, and our children bring about our greatest tests.

Please ask your mother to ask around for a reputable shaykh or shaykha who can perform ruqya on your baby. Be careful not to let just anyone read over baby – please trust your intuition and Perform the Prayer of Guidance to help you ascertain if he/she is trustworthy.

Some signs of a charlatan would be someone asking you to do strange things like working with blood, odd sacrifices, or burial.

Prayer of Need

Please perform the Prayer of Need in the last third of the night, as often as you need to.

Other acts you can do: Give in charity, ask for pious people to make dua for you, make copious istighfar.

Using a Ta‘wiz

Please consider using a ta‘wiz on your baby for protection. Please write or print out the Ayat al-Kursi and three Quls. Put it in a locket or a soft cover of some sort, and pin it on your baby’s clothes. Do not hang it around your baby’s neck as it isn’t safe.

Possibility of Allergens

Is there something else in your home that could be harming your baby? Any mold? Pet fur? Any kind of allergen? Could you get an allergy test done on your baby?

Emotional Stress

What is the emotional climate at home? Babies are deeply sensitive and are very connected to their mothers. I do not know the circumstances of your home, but if there is trouble in your marriage, perhaps that may be upsetting your baby. I do not say this to cast any blame on you. Allah knows how hard you are trying.

May Allah heal your baby, and make her the coolness of your eyes.

Please see: Selected Prophetic Prayers for Spiritual, Physical and Emotional Wellbeing by Chaplain Ibrahim Long and A Reader on Patience and Reliance on Allah.

Raidah

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

In Vitro Fertilization

Shaykh Jamir Meah answers questions about In Vitro Fertilization.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa baraktuh.

I had a miscarriage in December 2017 and was advised that I have to follow up for six months. Once the six months ended I found out that my husband and I both have beta thalassemia. So our children have the chance of having major thalassemia which means they could need blood transfusions every 2-3 months and life expectancy is shorter up to the age of 30.

Doctors have advised us to go down the route of IVF. They said they will check the fetus (PGD) for thalassemia major and if it is normal they will implant it.

My question: Is this permissible in Islam?

Jazak Allah khayr.

Thank you for writing in.

I’m sorry to hear about your miscarriage and your and your husband’s conditions. May Allah transform your difficulties into sources of relief and reward.

Scholars have stated that IVF treatment is permissible given the two following conditions:

  1. The sperm and the egg is from the husband and wife.
  2. There is no third party involved in any part of the reproduction process, such as a third party donating sperm, eggs, or acting as a surrogate mother.

It is also important to note that the husband’s seminal fluid should only be emitted via lawful means, i.e. through the wife’s hand causing him to ejaculate or similar, not self-masturbation, as this is unlawful.

Please also refer to the following answers for more details on the permissibility of IVF treatment: Kids in Test Tubes: Is In Vitro Fertilization Allowed? and Is It Permissible to Have a Child Through In Vitro Fertilization?

Complementary Treatments

For future consideration, the symptoms of beta thalassemia may be greatly helped by natural medicines such as homeopathy, which can reduce the need for frequent blood transfusions as well as improve the immune system, which also controls frequent attacks of respiratory infections. Such treatment is often used as a complementary therapy alongside conventional treatment.

I wish you the both the best of health, and may Allah grant you a loving and pious family.

Warmest salams,

Jamir

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.