Being a Daughter, a Woman, and Living This Life

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil counsels on the role and duty of daughter toward parents, being a woman, feeling isolated overwhelmed by expectations.

 

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I am tired. I don’t feel like I understand my purpose anymore. Especially when I see so many of my sisters in Islam living a life of independence. I am confused about exactly what Islam says on the matter – it has been my long held belief that a girl or woman doesn’t leave her parents home except by marriage.

Am I wrong? I was under the impression that this is based upon a hadith. What happens if she doesn’t get married? Is she forced to leave and find her independence?

I am one of three sisters. One who has gotten married, one who lives independently of us, and me. I do not wish for marriage. But I see myself as being responsible for my parents as they get older. I have no mahram other than my elderly father. No other family here. I do work, part-time alhamduliLlah.

Should I leave the home and leave my parents alone? (I don’t want to, because I am afraid to lose them in any sense, even by their own natural end).

I sometimes feel like nothing I do is right before my father. I feel like I studied and obeyed them in this regard. But now, I am so tired with how pointless everything is. I studied two degrees, trained for a long time, and all for what?

I remained confused about my faith, I have lost friends, and become more isolated. I genuinely believe women need a mahram to travel randomly around the globe if for pleasure and not for purpose.

I’ve become disheartened, disillusioned, for clinging onto things that others maybe don’t consider important. Please advise me.

 

Answer:

Wa alaykum assaalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

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

Living Alone

Dear sister, please know that Allah knows the deepest contents of your heart. If you do not want to move out from your parents’ home, then please, by all means, remain there.

Please do not compare yourself to your sisters, as tempting as that may be. Three of you are completely different individuals, with unique strengths and challenges. Your responsibility is to measure yourself against the yardstick of what is pleasing to Allah, in this present moment.

Please refer to these links to clarify your confusion about the permissibility of an unmarried Muslim woman, living alone: Can I, as a Woman, Live on My Own? [Shafi’i] and Can an Unmarried Young Woman Live Alone?

Exception

The only scenario in which I would encourage you to move out from your parents’ home is this – if staying with your parents were harming you, in some way.

It does not have to be outward abuse, but if you feel that staying with your parents is contributing to feelings of stagnation, then perhaps it is time for you to make a change.

Caring for Parents

It is praiseworthy for you to take on the main responsibility of caring for your parents in their old age. However, please know that goodness to your parents remains a personally obligatory act for all of your sisters. Your commitment to caring for your parents does not lift the responsibility from their shoulders.

I suspect that because you live with your parents, then your sisters take you for granted. They know that you are there every day to be of service to your parents, so perhaps they do not try harder to be there for them, too.

I encourage you to complete this transformative course: Excellence With Parents: Muhammad Mawlud’s Birr al-Walidayn Explained: Your Parents’ Rights and How to Fulfil Them.

Father

“And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” (Sura al-Dhariyat 51:56)

You describe that nothing you do is right by your father. I am sorry – this is deeply painful, for any daughter. Please know that when a father is chronically displeased with his children, it actually reflects his own chronic displeasure with himself.

I encourage you not to live your life for your parents, especially not your father. This can be very hard to do at first, because it has become an ingrained habit. Live for Allah, and within the realms of permissibility, please do things that bring you joy. Find ways to nourish your heart, body, mind and soul.

Please know that perhaps creating some physical distance between you and your father may help you realign with your values, instead of always being drawn to what is pleasing to him.

You were created to worship Allah, and your journey to that includes working on your weaknesses and harnessing your strengths.

Life Coaching

I suggest that you look up one of the many Muslimah life coaches online. Find someone who resonates with you, and commit to exploring ways to improve your life. What are you passionate about? What are you good at? What do you want to get better at?

Marriage and Possible Depression

You describe that you do not want to be married. Is this because you have been hurt before, or because you genuinely are not interested in marriage?

You have also described yourself as losing friends, feeling lonely, and being exhausted. Could your low moods and lack of interest in marriage be something you could explore, within the safety of a culturally-sensitive counsellor’s office?

Travel

Please refer to this link for clarification: Can I Travel by Plane Without a Mahram?

Spiritual Nourishment

Dear sister, your soul is yearning for relief. Please feed your soul with the the cool, sweet waters of dua, the Prayer of Need, reciting and listening to Qur’an, and other acts of nearness to Allah.

Clarify your confusion about your faith through seeking out healing knowledge. SeekersHub courses are in abundance, alhamdulilah, so decide which ones resonate with you most, and strive to complete them.

I pray that this has been helpful. Please keep in touch.

Please see: Selected Prophetic Prayers for Spiritual, Physical and Emotional Wellbeing by Chaplain Ibrahim Long.

 

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


 

Abusive, Toxic, and Mentally Ill Mother

 

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I am a Muslim woman in her early twenties, living with my parents and I have always had trouble in my household. I have grown up in a toxic and violently abusive environment with consistent emotional, verbal and psychological abuse, and at many times physical abuse. I am an only child, and my mother is extremely mentally unwell. My parents have been fighting for as long as I can remember.

My mother needs to admitted to a psych ward because her mental illness has gotten so bad. We can hospitalize her, but no one, even family members seem to understand the extent of it so they’ve advised that we do not. I want to, but will I be punished for forcefully admitting her into the psych ward because her condition has gotten so bad? How will I live in her house peacefully, while my mother is in the hospital?

The constant torment, physical abuse and the walking on eggshells around her not knowing if today will be a bad day or a horrible day. I don’t think I can remember the last time I was burden-free. It has come to the point that my own mental health is so greatly affected that I cannot tolerate anything anymore, the slightest thing will trigger me and I become so enraged I cannot control it. I am starting to have similar episodes like her because apart from genetically being predisposed to her mental health issues, being raised in such a toxic environment has solidified the manifestation of those illnesses within me, guaranteeing that I may be like this with my family in the future.

 

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

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

Obligation towards parents

Dear sister, please know that I am so, so sorry to hear about the huge burden you are carrying. I wish I could be next to you, hold your hand and tell you, in person, how brave you are. You have endured such terrible pain.

Please know that you are not alone. You have never been alone. Allah is always with you. I am so grateful that Allah moved your heart to contact us. I pray that my advice will soothe your troubled heart.

Hospitalization

Please perform the Prayer of Guidance about whether or not to hospitalize your mother. I would suggest that as an absolute last resort, but a necessity if she continues to harm herself and those around her.

Modern psychiatric medicine is strong and does have side-effects, but there is a place for it, in extreme cases. When your mother stabilizes, then she will be more open to holistic remedies.

Spiritual and Emotional Abuse

Narrated Anas, may Allah be pleased with him: Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one. People asked, “O Allah’s Messenger! It is all right to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor?” The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “By preventing him from oppressing others.” (Bukhari)

Even though your mother is unwell, she is still hurting you deeply. You must protect yourself. That is obligatory upon you. You must take care of your own sanity and your own soul. Please do not let your mother break you, because you matter to Allah.

Please plan to move out of your family home. Ready your financial situation and search for trustworthy roommates. You cannot change your parents or their deeply troubled dynamic. But you can change your living situation, and focus on healing.

By leaving your home, you are actually doing your mother a favor. In her moments of lucidity, she will no longer be accountable to Allah for hurting her own daughter so terribly.

Your parents will be deeply unhappy with your decision. Expect it and prepare for it. You must still be respectful to them, and take the time to contact them and visit them as often as you can handle. When the abuse begins, then politely take your leave.

Over time, and with healing, they will not change, but your response to them will. It will get easier and easier to be around them, insha Allah, as impossible as it might feel right now. Give yourself time. It is impermissible to cut ties with them, but in your case, it is perhaps even obligatory for you to build some distance between yourself and your parents.

Gift of Pain

Dear sister, you may not believe me right now, but because of your years of suffering, when you heal, you will be a tremendous source of comfort for those around you. You will have empathy for other survivors of childhood abuse. Children with non-abusive parents cannot imagine what you and I have gone through. Your priority is to heal yourself, first, before you can help anyone else.

I speak from experience. My own family dynamic carries many wounds. Alhamdulillah, Allah sent me the help I needed, and I had to also make many hard decisions as a young woman. None of it was easy, but it helped me become who I am today.

Spiritual Medicine

Please soothe your heart with regular and protective Qur’anic recitation, and duas such as these: Selected Prophetic Prayers for Spiritual, Physical and Emotional Wellbeing by Chaplain Ibrahim Long.

Please perform the Prayer of Need as often as you need to, especially in the blessed time before the entry of Fajr.

I encourage you to read Al-Shifa and the Shama’il, as a means of healing through the barakah of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him.

Emotional Medicine

I strongly encourage you to seek out a culturally-sensitive therapist to help support your healing. Your rage is merely the top part of the Anger Iceberg. A kind therapist can help you empty out your full emotional backpack.

I pray this is useful in the meantime: Emotional First Aid. I encourage you to also look up Hakim Archuletta and Hafsa Hasan.

Marriage as Medicine

Insha Allah, when you are more healed, and when the time is right, I pray that Allah will send you a loving and righteous husband – one who will value you for your strength and love you because of your scars. Please do not hide what you have gone through from your prospective husband. The right man will see your strength, and celebrate it. A safe and loving marriage is also a powerful medicine for you.

However – and I cannot state this enough – you need to heal sufficiently for you to recognize a good man when you meet one. Often, unresolved childhood trauma can cause women and men to select unsuitable romantic partners – neglectful and abusive ones – because it is a familiar pattern.

Motherhood as Medicine

When you become a mother some day, because of your own trauma, please know that your own child is likely to trigger you. When your child behaves likes a child – cries, shouts, tantrums – it is likely to cause you to overreact, because your mother overreacted to you. You are likely to be overwhelmed by rage and lash out at your child, but know that you can heal, and get better at staying calm.

Your own mother’s neglect and abuse of you has left you with deep pain, and our own children have a way of triggering these sore points. You can use this as growth point, and choose to respond from a place of calm, instead of lashing out the way your mother does. It will take practice, but you will get better at it, insha Allah.

Please know that you are not doomed to hurt your family the way your mother has. You have insight, and motivation to change. I pray that with dua, hard work, and self-compassion, you will make an incredible mother.

Inherited Pain and Resilience

It is possible that your mother is so traumatized because of her own childhood. Perhaps she is repeating the cycle of abuse that she endured. And perhaps your late grandparents carried their own trauma.

You have the choice to break this pattern, and to gift your children with a mother who loves, protects and guides them – the way you deserve. It will be hard at first, but as you choose love and calm, your brain will rewire, and it will become easier and easier.

Rights of Parents

When you are ready, please aim to complete Excellence With Parents: Muhammad Mawlud’s Birr al-Walidayn Explained: Your Parents’ Rights and How to Fulfill Them.

Shaykh Rami’s course has been transformative for me, and for other children who have had childhood trauma. My biggest takeaway from this course is this – even abusive parents must be treated with respect and kindness. The key is knowing how to keep yourself safe and grounded when you do so.

I pray this has been helpful. Please write back if you would like further clarification. I pray that Allah eases your suffering, and transforms your outward state while you transform your inward state. You are beloved to Allah, and I know that there are wonderful things ahead of you. Have faith in His Mercy, and the transformative power of his Love for you.

Please see: Reader on Abusive Parents.

Raidah

 

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

 


 

Marrying a Practicing Non-Hijabi

Ustada Raidah Shah Idil is asked if marrying a practicing sister who does not wear hijab is permissible.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

Where I come from, there are many Muslims that practice Islam without their parents’ consent. I belong to such a family, but alhamduliLlah things have changed a lot for me. I can join prayers in the mosque, and have permission from my family to do that.

But I have lots of friends who can not, for example, join prayers with jama‘a, or join Khalaqas given in Mosques, generally because of the fear of falling into the extremism of the religion. For these families, praying, reading Qur’an, joining Jumu‘as are things that put their kids in extremism, as well as the fear that their kids will leave the dunya altogether, and will leave science to seek knowledge for the deen. Anything along the lines of Islam is fearful for them.

There are sisters in my hometown who are religious. They pray, read the Qur’an, listen to khutbas through the web, and fast every Ramadan. Headscarf is another point that is risky to put on unless they’re praying. Families don’t give permission to wear the hijab outside, because it is a way of backwardness.

My question is, is it allowed for me to marry a non-hijabi sister who is religious, a good person, and a practicing Muslima? Do I get any share in the sin she does because of not wearing the hijab (if married to such person)?

Answer:

Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

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

Permissibility

“And each soul is paid in full for what it did. And He is Best Aware of what they do.” (Sura al-Zumar 39:70)

In short, yes, it is permissible for you to marry a non-hijabi sister. Her sins are on her, just like your sins are on you. As spouses, it is better for both of you to encourage one another to whatever pleases Allah, even if it may displease everyone else.

Marriage as Growth

Spouses, especially in the first year of marriage, often trigger old wounds from childhood e.g. fearing practising the din openly, feeling chronically unworthy etc. Use these uncomfortable feelings as opportunities to work on dismantling these patterns, together. For example, once she is married to you, then your future wife can rest easy knowing that you are supportive of her decision to wear hijab. Her family will still be unhappy, but when a married daughter leaves her family home, it is understood that her husband will have the greater influence, moving forward.

I pray that marriage will be beneficial for both of you, and increase you both in inward and outward observance of the din.

Please complete this course Marriage in Islam: Practical Guidance for Successful Marriages.

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

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

 


Heavily Afflicted by Waswasa

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat is asked about compulsively saying “I’m sorry” and asking forgiveness.

I became heavily afflicted with waswasa when I was unemployed mainly around najasah, but alhamduliLlah I recovered from that after starting work.

But recently have developed waswasa about actions or words of kufr. Also I’m obsessed with an intense fear of being “rude” and I keep obsessively saying sorry and it’s upsetting my parents.

I used to say bismillah before everything I do but a shaykh said it’s kufr to say bismillah before watching tv, as it contains haram things – and he said saying bismillah before eating something that’s not halal is kufr.

Is this true? Pretty much any media consumption involves some haram things like women without hijab or some music with haram things in it etc. So can we not say bismiLlah before watching tv or using internet, what about saying bismiLlah before leaving the house as you might see a uncovered woman, etc?

I am, insha Allah about to do nikah but in her culture we can’t consummate until walima a few months later. I am constantly worried and thinking about how any thing of kufr can nullify the nikah before consummation a‘udhubiLlah may Allah protect me. I found an opinion saying if we go into khalwa it can count as consummation.

Shaykh, is there an opinion that says any acts of kufr don’t affect the marriage from any madhab so I can take rukhsa?

Sometimes Muslim friends of mine make a joke on some topic that may actually be interpreted as kufr.

I’ve read your guide on how kufr needs to be intentional and you can’t accidentally do it, but I want a personal answer because it tears apart my mind and depresses me. Sometimes and my brain or shaytan finds a way of confusing me.

I also have this obsession that is driving my parents crazy. I have this intense fear that if I’m slightly rude or have an argument–disagree with someone and they get annoyed with me, it means I’ve argued and my dua won’t be answered and I’ll be punished. So then I have to beg forgiveness. Almost every single conversation I have with my parents ends with me saying “I’m sorry for being rude, I’m sorry.”

Someone in the masjid turned on the fan and someone else thought it was me and looked angry at me and I looked back at him and said “It’s a bit warm,” so he got angry with me. I felt like I had had an argument and needed to resolve it and apologize and say sorry.

And I’ll never criticize someone in case I’m being rude. This is driving me crazy and upsetting me. Is there actually any hadith or fiqh about arguing or being rude causing one’s dua to not be answered or severe punishment? The main problem is that my older brother is sometimes very harsh and rude with me even if I’m not saying anything, but even then I will try to say “sorry for being rude” because I’m scared it means I’ll be punished and my dua won’t be accepted.

I can’t leave any single interaction with a human without saying “sorry for being rude.” And it makes me seem very weak and if they know me for a while they will think I’m a bit weird. Like I will tell a joke, then think what I said might be offensive and start saying “Sorry.”

May Allah forgive me for anything haram I’ve said.

Kind regards

OCD

I pray you are well.

It’s clear that you have OCD, and it’s manifesting itself in religious matters. Worrying about falling into disbelief or offending people is a symptom of your OCD. The urges they cause can be very strong, and we know that there are some uncontrollable matters which a person is not taken to task for.

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Indeed Allah has overlooked mistakes, forgetfulness, and being forced [to do something] for my umma.” (Ibn Majah). Although the compulsion referred to in the hadith is the type which comes from another party, we can infer that Allah’s mercy would also extend to some behavioral compulsions too.

Based on this, jurists have said that the divorce of someone like this would not apply if he was compelled to say the word over and over (Haskafi, al Durr al Mukhtar).

Relax and Seek a Remedy

Therefore, you should not worry or be consumed by guilt. You have a condition, and Allah has provided us means to getting it fixed. Get some professional help. The therapies EFT, PSTEC, and EMDR work well with this issue. Please bear in mind that it may take time for the issues to go, and that is a test by which you will draw closer to Allah if you show the appropriate response.

Please refer to this answer too.

Ask Allah for help, and seek a solution.

May Allah remove your difficulties very soon.

Abdul-Rahim

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Siblings and Verbal Abuse

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil is asked if an older sibling has the right to abuse younger siblings verbally.

Is it permissible for an older sibling to verbally abuse a younger sibling during a conversation on the basis that the abuser is older and therefore has the right?

Does Islam allow someone who has been harmed with verbal abuse from an older sibling to return the equivalent in verbal abuse?

Jazak Allah khayr.

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

Verbal Abuse

Narrated Abdullah: Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Abusing a Muslim is Fusuq (i.e., an evil-doing), and killing him is Kufr (disbelief).” (Sahih Muslim)

In Islam, it is not permissible to verbally abuse anyone.

Solutions

Narrated Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-‘As, may Allah be pleased with him: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Those who do not show mercy to our young ones and do not realize the right of our elders are not from us.” (Sunan Abu Dawud)

I am sorry to hear about the abuse you have been enduring from your older sibling. He or she does not have the right to abuse you. If anything, he or she has the responsibility to treat you with love and compassion because you are younger.

Anger Iceberg

Anger is at the very top of the anger iceberg. Beneath it are often feelings like helplessness, grief, shame, and so on.

What is driving your older sibling’s anger? Older siblings who are abusive often have at least one parent who is also abusing them. Whatever it is that’s causing your older sibling’s pain, he or she is discharging their negative feelings on you, which is unacceptable.

Your sibling needs to take responsibility for their hurt, seek out help, and ask you for forgiveness.

Boundaries

Narrated Anas: Allah’s Messenger, upon him be blessings and peace, said, “Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one. People asked, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! It is all right to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor?’ The Prophet, upon him be blessings and peace, said, “By preventing him from oppressing others.” (Bukhari)

The solution is not to verbally abuse your older sibling in return. Rather, you need to set boundaries. Calmly explain that you will not tolerate the abuse. Walk away if you need to. Do not cut ties, but remain civil.

This is understandably very difficult to do at first. I recommend that you seek out the support of a culturally-sensitive counselor or therapist.

Healing

I encourage you to practice self-compassion. Please do not blame yourself. You are worthy of love and belonging. So is your older sibling. I pray that over time, you will find your way back to each other, after finding your way back to yourselves.

Please see How Do I Forgive a Sibling Who Hurts Me? and Can We Break Family Ties With Siblings Who Treat Us Badly?

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.

Parents’ Strong Refusal of Reverts

Shaykh Jamir Meah answers a question about marrying a revert who has been deemed unfit by parents.

I am a 26 year-old born Muslim female who still strives to be a better Muslimah every single day and am currently interested in a revert 33 year-old brother of two-and-a-half years in Islam. We met on a Muslim dating app since we both want to get to know our half of our religion as soon as possible, because we all know that we are on the suitable age.

I am a nurse working in Saudi Arabia and he is a smelter in another region of the Middle East. We haven’t chatted much in the application since he prefers to get to know the potential spouse in personal and of course with the presence of my wali.

We set the date and place, and I had my mother, uncle from my mother’s side, and his wife at the dining table. He came alone all the way from another region to my current place to seek permission from my parents. Unfortunately, my father was in the Philippines and was not amused about meeting a revert.

However, my mom and I persuaded him that there is nothing wrong in trying to get to know the brother. At least he is meeting me with my relatives present and not alone. Mostly, my uncle and mom did the interrogation regarding how he reverted and why, and his family background, and such and such, and he honestly answered that yes, he was from a broken family and Alhamdulillah he had made his mother a Muslim.

He wanted a Muslim-born woman to marry since he wants to build a family that has a strong religious grounding. To be honest, it was also both our first time to gather folks in meeting or getting to know each other for the purpose of marriage to get away from the world’s fitnah.

At the end of the discussion or meeting, he once again thanked Allah and my parents and me for allowing him to be seen and that he wanted to state his purpose which is that he wanted me to be his wife, if permitted by my parents. And that he won’t force anything if it is against some laws of Islam.

Uncle advised us to pray istikhara first before deciding and we did. I usually don’t have signs but my heart is light when I think how inclined he is to Islam than to the Muslim-born men I have known. We were permitted to have a limited chat in messenger but never did. We call to hear each others’ voices or video call to see each other. Both our Facebook accounts are mainly all about Islamic reminders. No pictures of awrah shown too.

I wanted to pursue the marriage with him since what I have been praying for: a righteous man, disregarding the race or status as long as his love for Allah is much stronger than this dunya. The problem is, my father got angry when I told him that i wanted to do nikah with him.

The reasons both parents told me are, he is a revert. We don’t know his purpose. His family is still a Christian. Why can’t he find his own revert wife? He is from a broken family (the reason why he was 33 and never got married was because he was afraid of not being able to be responsible enough to be a father. That’s why he was lead to Islam and knew the importance of marriage). He was just a high school graduate. And my family’s ancestors only allowed revert sisters. Never a revert brother. That maybe he reverted because he wants many wives.

The brother was hurt and all he could do is feel hurt and said “It is only Allah who knows what’s in my heart, and mind and my intention in marrying your daughter is pure and clear. If I have the evil intention or you’re afraid i might go back to my own religion, then may Allah prepare the most severe punishment for me. I fear Allah for that.”

No matter how much I tried to persuade my parents and how the brother did too, never-ending sermons are received from my parents. What will people say, it’s not in our culture. You’re still young, don’t go to haste. All these are so worldly reasons. I was already prepare to get married to the brother and even had enough mahr to give in case they approved but no. My parents say never! Never a revert!

But he is whom I wanted my children to follow. Until the brother gave up and sent a long message to my parents asking for forgiveness for being only a revert and that we will be gladly to raise his hands and surrender me to my parent since he told me he don’t want the woman he wanted to marry to face having to break family-ties with my parents.

I cried but my parents only justify their cruel intentions by saying, “You see he is not for you.” I told them, he only respects you all, since it is not allowed to be judgemental and rude in Islam. We tried getting someone to persuade them but that only made it worse. How could such parents value culture and discrimination more than the teachings of Islam?

Now I don’t want to both lose my family and the righteous man I found but why does my parents told me that they only care for me? They say they don’t want my future children to be at the man’s side but the brother has already broken his ties with his non-believing families, for they are too engrossed in haram and could only send Islamic pamphlets and make dua. He was so in tears for Allah’s mercy to grant him his mother to become a Muslimah and next we want to stay connected with his father to let him embrace as well. Insha Allah. 

I need advice. Can a Muslim-born woman marry a revert even if it is against the rejection of the walis? Can I still pursue the nikah when I reach the age of 40 with the righteous man I have chosen? Since I am also willing to be a second or a third wife as long as I see the religion and religious man that fears and loves Allah.

Can I choose the man to get married with instead of my family, since they say they will disown me and kill us both if we both get married secretly? I was planning to wait until 30 and if he still inquires I would still, insha Allah, like to pursue the nikah with him in a far country and would still try not to cut connections since I fear Allah. Please do give me advice on this.

I am sorry to hear about your situation. It is obviously a very sensitive and difficult one. Normally, in these situations, we would advise that you get a third party involved to see if they can intercede. Perhaps there is a local imam or respected scholar who can speak to your family?  

While your parents may be being prejudiced against converts, I’m sure they are deeply concerned about your happiness and well-being. Older generations see culture differences as much more important than younger generations, and though this can sometimes be misplaced, their concerns should still be considered.  

I would also say that it is important to remember that you have only known this man for a short space of time and communication is limited. I am sure he is a good person, but it is very difficult to ascertain the good character and piety of a person until one has spent more time with them (such as having more arranged meetings) or at least inquired about the person’s character from others who know him well on a personal level. Ideally one would do both.  

Using religious words and speech doesn’t always translate to good character and suitable spouse material in private practice. Even when a person is practicing and comes across as having firm faith, it does not necessarily mean that they are ready to marry, to live with another person with love, compassion, and patience. This applies to men and women.  

Do you feel that you know enough about him to feel he is an ideal match for you? That he will treat you with kindness and make you happy? You may well do, but do consider these matters carefully before you set your heart on only one person and waiting years to marry him.  

Given that your family said that they will disown you and even kill you both, though this is incorrect and deeply concerning, it seems that not pursuing this offer of marriage is best at the moment, at least until you can talk them round.  

Lastly, do not forget that everything is in Allah’s hands. Whatever is meant to be will be, and if this man is meant to be your husband, it will be. Make use of the Prayer of Guidance (istikhara) often and the Prayer of Need (haja).  

Please also refer to these answers for further advice: 

Convert Marriage Archives

I wish you every happiness,

Jamir

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.

Can Father Arrange Prepubescent Daughter’s Marriage without Consent?

Ustadh Farid Dingle answers a question about a father forcing his prepubescent daughter to marry.

From what I have read on another website, a father can forcefully arrange his daughter’s marriage without her consent if she is prepubescent. Why is this allowed?

Even if this marriage is supposed to have a clear interest for her, this does not mean she is ready to be married. If she is forced to be married when she doesn’t want to, then she will be trapped in an extremely miserable, depressing, and ungrateful life.

Is there any way she can get out of a marriage she does not want to be in so soon? Please answer.

Dear questioner

While it may be true in principle that the father has the right to marry his prepubescent daughter to a suitable match even without her consent, it is not the Islamic teaching, and is not what is applied by most Sharia-influenced laws applied in many Muslim countries.

The Islamic teaching here is to have the daughter’s full, un-coerced approval. “The Prophetic example is that the guardian asks her permission before marrying her off.” (al-Ikhtiyar)

Many Islamic family law codes stipulate that the daughter be 18 years old and that she give her explicit approval. I would suggest you have a scholar discuss this issue with your guardian and family.

Please also see: My Father Is Emotionally Blackmailing Me to Get Married. What Do I Do?

N.B. I wouldn’t agree wholeheartedly with the statement in the answer above that “Your marriage contract is invalid if you are forced into it,” as we have mentioned.

I pray this helps

Farid

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.