Posts

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.

 


 

My Parents Emotionally and Physically Abuse Me. Can You Help Me?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Assalam aleykum,

My parents are abusive, both emotionally and physically. Mostly emotionally. All they care about is grades, not the emotional damage they do to me or the abuse. I am also severely depressed, and I have been for years because of them. They made me hate myself. They treat me as an object,”we pay all this money for you to study” they say. The choose my subjects. I don’t want to study what they want me to. More often than not I think about killing myself to escape them and the only thing stopping me is that suicide is a sin. I cry a lot. I dont go to therapy because if i asked my parents would tell me its a waste of time, that its for crazy people, and that they wont pay me that kind of money. They constantly degrade me, make fun of me, compare me to my siblings, make me feel like all i ever am is a letter on a report card. I have no one to turn to and I cant speak to them about it.

What can I do?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us during your time of great need.

Worthiness

Dear sister, please know that Allah loves you, just as you are. You are enough as you are. You are worthy as you are. Your value to Him is not dependent on your grades, or any other external factor. Please seek comfort in this.

When you are flooded with unimaginable pain and feel like the only way out is by ending your own life, please, dear questioner, pause, inhale, and exhale. Take it one breath at a time.

I pray that you will overcome this awful trial in your life. May you live a blessed life full of joy, love and closeness to Allah.

Parents

I do not know the story behind your parents. What I do know, from my own life, is that wounded people wound others. Your parents will be held to account for their sins against you, and I pray that one day, you will have enough compassion to forgive them. Allah gave you to your parents as a sacred trust, and they are letting you down by treating you so terribly.

I recently heard a story about a bowl of light, from Dr Joyce Mills; every child is born with one. Over time, negativity collects in our bowls like stones, and some of us even become stones. All we have to do is tip our bowls over – our light is still there. Empty out your bowl, every night, through heartfelt dua to Allah. Perform the Prayer of Need every night, in the last third of the night.

Self-Soothing

What can you do to calm yourself? Can you take calming breaths? Step outside into nature? Please see Emotional First Aid.

Joy

What makes your heart smile? A warm cup of tea? A walk in the park? Writing? Painting? Do at least one thing that brings you joy, every day.

Strength

Dear questioner, the fact that you wrote to me shows me that you are strong. You have endured years of emotional and verbal abuse from the very parents who were meant to nurture you, yet you are still standing. You are strong, no matter what anyone else tries to tell you.

Study for the sake of your own freedom. Nobody can take your education away from you. If you do well enough to win a scholarship, then you have the chance to leave your toxic family home.

Support

Your parents do not need to know that you are seeking out help through life coaching or therapy. Save up your pocket money and seek out online options, if seeing a real-life therapist is too challenging or expensive for you. Find someone who can help empower you based on your own strengths and values. Learn how to be more assertive, and how to set better boundaries. It is sinful to be rude to your parents, but it is not sinful to set a boundary calmly and politely. It is incredibly hard to do this without guidance, so I pray you find a suitable counsellor soon.

Dear sister, please know that even though we have never met, my heart is speaking to your heart. My soul witnesses your pain. Know that once, I was a young girl in tremendous pain too, and Allah sent me a way out. May He bless you with ease after your hardship, and make you a source of healing for other broken hearts some day. You have tremendous things ahead of you, dear sister. Please keep in touch.

Please see:

Reader on Patience

[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.

To What Extent of a Boundary Can I Have with Dysfunctional Parents?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Assalam aleykum,

My parents have abused me for the span of my lifetime – physically, financially, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically and mentally manipulated/abused me. I now go and will continue to go therapy to help me cope with the internal destruction and damage inflicted upon me by these two toxic parents of mine.

I know I have to serve my parents, but to what extent? I feel bad but it’s almost really easy to say that I don’t love them – however, I do submit to Allah and Allah says serve your parents, but to what extent can I without coming up short? Am I obligated to love them?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us. Please forgive me for the delay.

Trauma

Dear sister, I am so sorry for the all the abuse you endured at the hands of your parents. Please know that even though they failed to parent you, you are still worthy of love and acceptance.

Dr Umar Faruq Abdullah once said that those who have been through great trauma can be the means for great healing. I pray that this comes to fruition for you. For now, take it one step at a time. Remember to breathe. Know that pain is always temporary.

Parents

Even in the case of abusive parents, you are obligated to treat them with respect. It is not obligatory for you to love them.

If you are unsure about how much contact you wish to maintain with them, I encourage you to start with your own suggestion of calling them once a month, or once every two months. If that proves too challenging, then perhaps you can start with monthly emails, or handwritten letters. Send them gifts.

Perhaps you can also do monthly text messages and emails, and limit in-person visits to special occasions only. If it feels unbearable to witness their replies, you may temporarily block their responses for a time, and unblock them when you feel ready.

I encourage you to complete the course Excellence with Parents: How to Fulfill the Rights of Your Parents. It will be difficult to complete this course, but it will be deeply useful in your own healing journey.

Trust in the healing power of time, coupled with dua and your own healing journey.

Sister

Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that a person said: Allah’s Messenger, who amongst the people is most deserving of my good treatment? He said: Your mother, again your mother, again your mother, then your father, then your nearest relatives according to the order (of nearness). [Sahih Muslim]

If your sister is participating in abusing you, then you need to protect yourself too. Keep the minimum amount of contact. You may apply the same suggestions I listed above, with your parents.

I encourage you to read the book Why Can’t We Get Along? Healing Adult Siblling Relationships.

Boundaries

The next time your parents start abusing on the phone, please know that especially because they are damaging your psyche, it is obligatory for you to politely end the call and hang up. You were placed on this earth to worship and know Allah, and it may be difficult to do that with a shattered psyche.

Prayer

Please perform the Prayer of Need as much as you need to, in the last third of the night. Beg Allah for whatever you wish. Healing, forgiveness, a better relationship with your family – nothing is difficult for Allah.

Healing

I encourage you to contact holistic healers such as Hafsa Hasan, from Elements of Healing. Talk therapy can sometimes make things worse by causing you to relive past trauma. There are kinder and more effective ways to release pain.

Parenting

Abu Sa’id and Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace) said: “Never a believer is stricken with a discomfort, an illness, an anxiety, a grief or mental worry or even the pricking of a thorn but Allah will expiate his sins on account of his patience.” [Bukhari and Muslim].

Dear sister, please know that even under the best of circumstances, parenting small children is not easy. Parenting after complex trauma will be deeply challenging – but I pray that the results will stay with you well into the afterlife. I pray that you will be gifted with children who love you, find comfort in you, make dua for you long after you pass away, and who long to be with you in this world as well as the next. Because this gift is so tremendous, please know that attaining it will not be easy.

I pray that when it is your turn to become a parent, the greatest gift of your trauma will be your own patience and compassion with your children.

Grandparents

When your parents become grandparents, I pray that it softens them. This may be hard to believe, but abusive parents are often capable of being much kinder grandparents.

It is impermissible for you to sever ties between your future children and your parents. I do not recommend that you leave them alone together, but I do encourage you to plan regular visits. Your future children need to know their roots. As your parents age and come to realise their own mortality, they will need you and your children far more than you need them. This will be a test of your capacity to forgive, let go of the past, and be compassionate. I pray that when that day comes, your character will be Prophetic enough to do that.

I pray this is useful for you. Please keep in touch.

Please see:

Abusive Parents Archive
Love, Marriage and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions Answered

[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.

My Parents Are Angry with Me and Hit Me What Do I Do?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Assalam aleykum,

If your parents are very angry with you because you lied to them and did bad things, and then they hit you and stop talking to you – what do you do?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us. Please forgive me for the delay.

Parents

Dear questioner, I am sorry that you are in pain.

Although it is sinful to disrespect your parents and to lie to them, it is also sinful for them to hit you, and to punish you by not talking to you. Receiving the cold shoulder from one’s parents can feel devastating.

Even though you sinned, there are kinder and more effective ways of setting limits on your behaviour. Just know that your parents are human, and make mistakes. I pray that your difficulties with your parents will help you become a better parent, some day, if Allah wills.

To better understand the rank of your parents, please enrol in this course Excellence with Parents: How to Fulfill the Rights of Your Parents.

To better understand the responsibilities your parents have towards you, please enrol in this course Parenting in Islam: How to Raise Righteous Children.

Conflict resolution

It was narrated that ‘Aishah said: “The Messenger of Allah never beat any of his servants, or wives, and his hand never hit anything.” [Sunan Ibn Majah]

So many parents struggle to communicate their feelings to their children. Additionally, Muslim parents fear for their children’s afterlife as well as worldly life. If they do not have the skills to regulate their own emotions, they can take out their frustrations through unproductive behaviours such as yelling, hitting, and ostracising their own children. This is not the way of our gentle and firm Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace).

Your parents are probably very afraid that because of your sins, you will stray from the deen. In their own way, they are doing the best they can. Find it in your heart to forgive them, learn from this, and promise yourself that you will do better.

Repentance

“So will they not repent to Allah and seek His forgiveness? And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” [Qur’an 5:74]

Please know that the doors of repentance are still open for you. No matter what you did, know that Allah still loves you. You are still worthy of His Forgiveness, and with His help, you can turn your life around.

Please know that a sincere repentance wipes out past sin, so please do not speak of your mistakes to anyone else. Please refer to Is It Permissible to Lie In Order to Conceal Past Sins?

I encourage you to wake up in the last third of the night, pray tahajjud, and make copious istighfar. Reflect on the choices you have made in your life that led you to sin. Ask yourself how you can change things around, to make it easier for you to do good, rather than fall back into bad habits. Ensure that you are guarding your prayers, eating halal food, earning a halal income, attend regularly circles of knowledge, and keep good company.

Parents

Trust that Allah’s Mercy for you is greater than your parents’.

That being said, please do your best to earn your parents’ forgiveness and trust. You have no control over when they forgive you, but please know that you will be rewarded for trying your very best. Even if they do not speak to you, still treat them with warmth and kindness. This will be very difficult to do at first, but know that none of your effort is in vain. Consider this a character-building exercise. It will take a lot of courage and vulnerability from your part, but know that this will add to your scale of good deeds, inshaAllah.

Practical steps:

1) Increase in acts of service towards them – can you make your parents a cup of tea? Do their groceries?
2) Make dua for them after every obligatory prayer.
3) Enquire about their health.
4) Give small, regular charity with the intention of easing your parents’ disappointment.
5) Continue to ask forgiveness from them.
6) Make good on your Islam through doing your best, and getting up after every mistake.

Please see Prepare Yourself for Your Parents Old Age – Advice from Imam Tahir Anwar.

It would be far more effective for your parents to learn how to be more connected to you, so that you will naturally want to cooperate with them, and be influenced by them. Unfortunately, many parents resort to fear and control tactics because they had that done to them, and do not know a better way.

Support

Who do you have to lean on? Do you have close friends or other supportive family members?

Please perform the Prayer of Need and ask Allah to help you get through this.

I pray that Allah grants a beautiful repentance, and helps to soften the hearts of your parents.

Please see:

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

[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.

My Parents Humiliate Me Every Day. What Do I Do?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Assalam aleykum,

Why are Muslims so aggressive and harsh towards children, and the scholars support it?

My parents always bring up obeying parents because that’s what you do in Islam (mean while my Mom doesn’t wear a hijab, and my dad doesn’t pray at all). They have forced me to study in college and will arrange my marriage to someone back home, whom I am not attracted to, as I only like white girls.

I am done, I don’t want a job or school right now, I’ve had enough.

I can’t do anything about this, I can’t talk back to my parents, I can’t scold them, I can’t disobey them, so what am I to do besides Salah and Dua? Why don’t the scholars speak out against this?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

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

Abuse

Dear questioner, I am sorry that when you reached out for help, you were given insensitive advice.

Islam does not condone any kind of abuse. True scholars would never excuse that. We live in a time of great disconnection to authentic Islamic scholarship, and often that manifests in culturally accepted norms that go against Islam.

It is harmful for both young Muslim men and women to be forced to endure abuse. Both women and men have dignity, and when that is stripped away under the guise of submission to abusive parents, it is tremendously harmful.

Parents

Your parents are emotionally and spiritually abusing you. You are not the first adult child to go through this and unfortunately, you won’t be the last. You sound exhausted and at the very end of your tether. Your honour and sanity matter to Allah.

Even in a healthy parent-child relationship, many parents struggle to treat their grown children as adults. The key here is for you to learn how to set better boundaries with them. However, because you have been abused for so long, it will be very difficult for you to do so. It will take great courage and persistence on your part.

It is likely that your parents were themselves abused as children, and are perpetuating this cycle with you. As mistaken as they are, they truly believe that they are doing what is best for you. With dua and effort, you can break this cycle and be better parent for your children.

I encourage you to enrol in Excellence with Parents: How to Fulfill the Rights of Your Parents. Please understand what the rights of your parents really are. I hope you can draw comfort from the fact that you are obligated to respect your parents, but not to obey their every whim. This is especially the case for parents who are abusive and not practising the deen.

Assertiveness

It would be sinful for you to scold or disrespect your parents by raising your voice, for example. However, it is also sinful for you to sit back and allow your parents to abuse you. Standing up to them will be extremely difficult, if not impossible at first.

You were not placed on this earth to obey the whims of your abusive parents. You were placed on this earth to know and worship Allah. A large part of that is knowing yourself, and you can only know yourself through making your own choices, and learning from your mistakes. Please understand that this is your life to live, and giving in to their demands will only make you even more miserable.

Ownership

“And no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another. And if a heavily laden soul calls [another] to [carry some of] its load, nothing of it will be carried, even if he should be a close relative. You can only warn those who fear their Lord unseen and have established prayer. And whoever purifies himself only purifies himself for [the benefit of] his soul. And to Allah is the [final] destination.” [Qur’an, 35:18]

You cannot control what your parents do. You can do your best to manage your own behaviour. If you are being driven to despair by their daily verbal abuse, then please, for the sake of your sanity, move out of your family home. You need a safe and healthy living space.

I am not, by any means, suggesting that you cut ties with your parents. That would be sinful. Rather, please limit your interaction with them. Visit them as often as you are able to. Call them and send them gifts.I pray that with distance from them, you will gain a stronger sense of self. Over time, you will be better able to establish boundaries with them in a firm and respectful manner.

Scholars

In an ideal situation, you would be able to seek advice from a compassionate local scholar. He or she would advise your parents to treat you with mercy and respect, instead of controlling and emotionally manipulating you.

If you cannot find one, then trust that you still have the ability to make changes in your life. In serious cases such as yours, when confronted, sometimes abusive parents will go on the defensive, and not listen to the counsel of scholars.

Marriage

Your parents cannot force you to marry anyone against your will. If you do not want an arranged marriage, then please make it clear to them from now. They will vehemently dislike what you have to say, but you must take responsibility for your life choices. Again, it will take time and practice, but I urge you to make it clear to them.

Many Muslim men give into parental pressure and marry the wives their parents choose. Some of these marriages turn out well, while others do not.

If you cave into their pressure, then you risk not only harming yourself, but your future wife, and your unborn children. You are free to hurt yourself if you wish, even though that is sinful, but not others. A successful marriage requires you to be fully present with your spouse and children, and if you are not even attracted to your wife, this will be very difficult to do. However, love can and does grow after marriage, and arranged marriages can still be successful.

Please do not feel ashamed of yourself for being attracted to a certain type of woman.

Although physical attraction is extremely important in marriage, making a marriage work requires a lot of effort, maturity and growth. Even if you do not have anyone in mind right now, please read “Before You Tie The Knot” and listen to Getting Married with Ustadha Shireen Ahmed and Shaykh Faraz Rabbani in to better prepare yourself.

Emotional health

Please do everything in your power to look after your spiritual, mental and emotional health. You sound like you need time in therapy to help you process your feelings of anger, powerlessness and despair. You do not have to remain a victim. You still have your whole life ahead of you.

Solutions

1) Please perform The Prayer of Need and beg Allah for relief and a way out.
2) Seek out a culturally-sensitive psychologist or counsellor to help you process your trauma, and teach you better coping skills.
3) Consider Aafiyah Healing.
4) Speak to a life coach about how to better design your life. Instead of focusing on what you don’t want to be forced into, focus on what you actually want.
5) Work on releasing your trauma. Read up on Peter Levine’s work

I pray that Allah grants you courage, clarity and wisdom. Please keep in touch.

Please see:

How Do We Deal With Parents Who Emotionally Abuse Their Children?
What Can I Do About My Parents’ Controlling Behaviour?
I Am Estranged From My Abusive Parents. Am I in a State of Disobedience to Allah?

[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.

My Parents Are Not Helping Me Get Married. What Can I Do?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Assalam aleykum,

I’m 33, my elder brother is 36, and our parents are not very interested to get us both married. What does Islam say about the rights of children, which parents are obliged to fulfill for them?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

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

Parents

I am sorry that your parents are not actively searching for a spouse for you and your brother. It is understandable for you to feel disappointed.

I encourage you to read the article The Rights of Children In Detail. Here is an excerpt:

1) The first and foremost right of a child is that he/she has an Islamic upbringing.

2) The parents are responsible for the religious education of the child.

3) Parents are also responsible for the moral training of the child which is to learn and put into practice the principles of morality and ethics.

4) Physical training of children is also an important parental responsibility, which ensures children remain alert and healthy.

5) Parents must ensure that they select good and pious friends for their children, and prevent them from evil and bad company.

6) Children must be shown love, affection in every possible way.

7) Finally, the father is responsible for the financial support of his children.

This article does not include ‘the right to look for your child’s spouse’. There are pros and cons to this.

In some Muslim families, parents arrange marriages for their adult children. In others, parents have no say whatsoever, and must come to accept whoever their children choose to marry. Every family dynamic is different, and it depends on that family’s unique community and cultural context and expectations.

I do not know much about your family dynamics and community expectations. It sounds like you expect your parents to find a spouse for you, but they have not been able to.

I strongly encourage you and your brother to read this book Before You Tie the Knot: A Guide for Couples.

Discussion

Have you spoken to your parents about how you feel? I encourage you to speak to them calmly and respectfully. Have you expressed to them what you are looking for in a husband? Even before that – do you and your brother have a clear idea of what you both want in a spouse?

Because of generational, cultural and many other differences, even the most loving and well-meaning parents can sometimes choose unsuitable spouses for their children.

What often happens is this – parents expend a tremendous amount of energy looking for what they think is a suitable spouse for their adult child, their adult child completely disagrees with their choice, and all parties become frustrated with each other. The key, as always, is balance. Try to reach a middle ground. How can you meet your parents halfway?

Empathy and acceptance

It can be challenging, but try to put yourself in your parents’ shoes. What do you think could be preventing them from actively searching for a spouse for your and your brother? Is it possible that they find that process a struggle too?

Often, acceptance is the solution to many problems. I encourage you to accept that your parents are doing the best they can, even if it does not seem enough to you.

Focus on being of service to them, instead of feeling resentful that they are not doing enough for you. Reflect on everything they have done for you and your brother, and be show gratitude for that through kindness to them, especially when they fall short of your expectations.

I encourage you to enrol in this course – Excellence with Parents: How to Fulfill the Rights of Your Parents. Learn about what rights they have over you, and do your best to fulfil them. Trust that goodness to your parents will only bring about goodness in your own life, including the gift of a righteous and loving spouse.

Marriage

“And so many a moving creature carries not its own provision! Allah provides for it and for you. And He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.“ [Qur’an, 29:60]

I encourage you and your brother to perform the Prayer of Need and ask Allah to send both of you righteous and loving spouses.

Remember this Allah is your Provider – not your parents. Your parents are the means through which you have been raised and nurtured. All of your provision has already been determined by Allah, including who you marry.

Practical Steps

1) Perform the Prayer of Need, preferably in the last third of the night (before the entry of Fajr) and ask Allah to send you a righteous and loving spouse

2) The scholars of Shaam have said that this ayah from Surah al-Anbiyah [Verse 89] has been proven to work and should be recited 100 times a day with your intended purpose.

رَبِّ لا تَذَرْنِي فَرْدًا وَأَنتَ خَيْرُ الْوَارِثِين

3) Be of service to your parents, and maintain family ties.

4) Speak to community elders and family friends about your wanting to get married. Ask them to keep a lookout for prospective spouses, for both you and your brother.

5) Move in the right circles with the intention of seeking knowledge and potentially finding a spouse e.g. Islamic classes, places where you can help those in need etc.

Patience

There is wisdom behind Allah’s timing. Even though it is natural and healthy to want to be married, please have a good opinion of Allah. When He gives, and when He withholds, it is out of love for you. Always return everything in your life to your relationship with Allah. Exercise beautiful patience, for His sake. Use this as an opportunity to develop yourself in ways which are pleasing to Him.

Reflect on the patience of Nabi Yusuf and Nabi Yaqub (upon them be blessings and peace), and remember how in the end, they were reunited with their heart’s desire. Read Surah Yusuf and reflect on its meanings as often as you can, and draw comfort from that. Only Allah can place true and lasting tranquility in your heart.

Please see:

Love, Marriage and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions Answered
A Reader on Patience and Reliance on Allah

Wassalam,

[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.

How Do We Deal With Parents Who Emotionally Abuse Their Children?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Assalam aleykum,

How do we deal with parents who bully us emotionally and spiritually? Who emotionally blackmail us and harm our mental health? Who say they don’t believe the troubles we go through, and that we’re just to be subservient without opinion?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for your question. Please forgive me for the delay.

Abuse

Dear questioner, I am very sorry to hear about the pain you are going through. It is imperative for you to protect yourself from harm, even if it is from your own parents.

Slavehood

We were all created to be slaves of the Creator, and not of creation.

Treating your parents well does not mean being their obedient slave. It means treating them with respect, compassion, and patience.

Abusive parents are fond of using Islam as a form of control and manipulation. This is a form of spiritual abuse, and is forbidden in Islam.

Effective parents work with their children and problem solve together, as a family. This may feel like more effort at first, but is far more effective than using coercion, especially in the long-run. Modelling problem-solving teaches children how to solve their own problems when their parents are gone. Being forced and threatened only teaches children fear, resentment, and hatred of authority and the deen.

If your parents call you to sin, or to support their sin, then it is obligatory for you to actually disobey them – respectfully. This can be incredibly difficult to do, at first, but will get easier over time, inshaAllah. If that is too difficult right now, then at least hate it with your heart, until you are strong enough to resist.

Support

Please seek out a culturally-sensitive counsellor to help you cope with your parents. With the help of your counsellor, learn what healthy boundaries are between parent and child. Understand and practice assertiveness. Learn how to nourish yourself spiritually and emotionally. You have no control over what your parents may say or do, but there is plenty you can do to heal yourself.

I pray that Allah grants them healing too. Abusive parents were often abused themselves. May Allah help you break that cycle, when you become a parent yourself.

Please reach out to other trustworthy family members and close friends for love and support. Abuse can make you vulnerable to the attentions of unworthy individuals.

Education

When you are an abused child, it is very easy for you to be manipulated into believing everything parents say. It is important to educate yourself about the actual rights of parents in Islam. Their station is indeed high, but never at the expense of your own dignity and safety as a believer.

Excellence with Parents: How to Fulfill the Rights of Your Parents

Please make dua for an authentic spiritual guide and teacher.

Relief

Life with abusive parents can feel like an unending prison, especially while you are still under their care. Please channel all of your grief, frustration and anger into heartfelt dua. Please wake up in the last third of the night and perform the Prayer of Need and beg Allah for relief. Read and reflect on the wisdoms within Surah Yusuf.

Strategies

I do not know how old you are, or if you are working and/or studying.

Please consider moving out of your family home as a last resort. If all the other strategies you have used do not make life more bearable for you, then it may be healthier for you to physically separate yourself from your parents.

When you are physically separate from abusive parents, then it will be easier for you to grow stronger emotional and spiritual boundaries. Do not totally cut off contact with them, but maintain the minimum that you are able to, without causing yourself harm.

Please see:

Dealing With a Dysfunctional Relationship With Parents
Am I Sinful for Not Answering the Phone Calls of My Abusive Father?
Is It Permissible for My Husband to Cut Ties With His Abusive Parents?

[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.

Is It Permissible for My Husband to Cut Ties With His Abusive Parents?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Assalam aleykum,

My husband’s parents have told their sons to divorce their wives and take their money. Alhamdulilah, my husband has stayed away from his parents and so our marriage has survived. He fears their bad influence, so he has cut ties with his parents. Is that permissible? If they do not get their way, they threaten to commit suicide.

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us. Please forgive me for the delay.

In-Laws

I am sorry to hear that your husband’s parents are such difficult and toxic people. Although it is sinful for your husband to cut ties with them, it is very important for him to protect his health and your marriage.

Can he write them letters or emails? When he is strong enough, can he consider calling them, and visiting them at least during Eid? He can keep these interactions short, and excuse himself before things turn ugly.

Suicide

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 (upon him be blessings and peace)! 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]

Parents who threaten to kill themselves in order to control their offspring are extremely toxic. I strongly encourage you and your husband to attend counselling with a culturally-sensitive counsellor, in order to heal from your past trauma with his parents, and to learn how to better cope with them. Please don’t expect your husband’s parents to change. All you can do is work on yourself and your marriage.

Patience

“O my son, establish prayer, enjoin what is right, forbid what is wrong, and be patient over what befalls you. Indeed, [all] that is of the matters [requiring] determination.” [Qur’an, 31:17]

The dunya is a place of trial, heartbreak, and pain. These difficulties offer us opportunities to draw closer to Allah. Even if we do not understand the trials Allah has placed in our lives, trust that Allah knows how much pain you are in, and He will reward you for all of your patience.

I pray that Allah grants you, your husband and his parents healing.

Please see:

Love, Marriage and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions Answered
A Reader on Patience and Reliance on Allah

[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.

What Can I Do About My Parents’ Controlling Behaviour?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Assalam aleykum,

I became depressed after my cousin broke off our unofficial engagement, and my parents forbid me from working. I am extremely frustrated by my parents’ controlling behaviour. What can I do?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. Please forgive me for the delay.

Counselling

If you are having thoughts of suicide, then you must seek professional help.

Please seek out a compassionate and culturally-sensitive counsellor to help you deal with your overwhelming emotions. You are under a lot of pressure, both internal and external, and you need to find healthy ways to cope. Without guidance, you are likely to sink further into despair and anger.

Marriage

When registration re-opens, please complete Islamic Marriage: Guidance for Successful Marriage and Married Life.You need to educate and empower yourself with a sound Islamic understanding of how to approach the process of getting married. You must give consent in order for your marriage contract to be valid.

I urge you to reach a point of emotional health and stability before even considering marriage. Many women from unhappy homes rush into marriage thinking it will make them happy, when it only makes things worse.

Start doing regular acts of self-care – reading and listening to Qur’an, a daily cup of tea, writing in a journal, catching up with friends who care about you etc.

Cousin

“And no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another. And if a heavily laden soul calls [another] to [carry some of] its load, nothing of it will be carried, even if he should be a close relative. You can only warn those who fear their Lord unseen and have established prayer. And whoever purifies himself only purifies himself for [the benefit of] his soul. And to Allah is the [final] destination.” [Qur’an, 35:18]

As for your cousin – it is permissible to break off an engagement. Please refer to the following links: I Got Engaged to My Cousin to Please My Parents.How Do I Break off My Engagement Without Being Harsh? and Advice on Breaking an Unwanted Marriage Engagement.

However, it is impermissible for him to backbite and/or slander you or your family members.These are major sins. [Reference: Reliance of The Traveller]

You will not be taken to account for his sins, nor anyone else’s. Each of us are responsible and accountable for what we do. May Allah have mercy on all of us.

Parents

It sounds like your relationship with your parents is very troubled. You cannot control your parents behaviour, but you can strive manage yours.

Even though they frustrate you and try to control you, your responsibility is to still treat them with respect. When registration reopens, please enrol and complete the course Excellence with Parents: How to Fulfill the Rights of Your Parents.

Please perform The Prayer of Need and ask Allah to heal you and to heal your relationship with your parents. Again, I urge you to speak to a culturally-sensitive counsellor so you can learn how to better cope with your difficult family dynamics.

Family

I am sorry to hear that you are continually being taunted your family members. Please learn how to assert yourself so that you can respectfully tell them to stop. Look up resources on assertiveness, such as books and articles, or speak to a culturally-sensitive counsellor. It’s natural to feel awkward when you first start to stand up for yourself, but trust that over time, it will get easier.

Your dignity and peace of mind matters to Allah Most High.

Provision

Please read Surah Al-Waqiyah as regularly as you can, with the intention of asking Allah to increase your provision. Please read, reflect on and implement the lessons in this excellent article: Bringing Barakah Into Your Wealth and Life.

Think of ways you can earn money online. Speak to your parents and ask if that is a viable option. Work with them and earn their trust.

Victim

There is no doubt that you have been unfairly treated for a long time. I am concerned that this has caused you to internalise a victim mentality. When you feel like a victim, it becomes easy for you to blame others around you for the problems in your life.

I encourage you to think of ways you can empower yourself. Reflect on what you can do to make things better. Ask yourself what you’re doing to make things worse, and change that.

I pray that Allah heals you, soothes your heart, and grants you a loving and righteous husband when the time is right.

Please refer to the following links:

Difficulty Getting Married Leading to Resentment and Depression
How Can I Be a Dutiful Son While Maintaining Independence from Controlling Parents?
VIDEO: How To Develop Meaningful Relationships With Parents (Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Shaykh Zahir Bacchus & Shaykh Rami Nsour)
Love, Marriage and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions Answered

Wassalam,
[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.

I Live With My Brother Who Hits His Toddler. What Can I Do?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Assalam aleykum,

I live with my brother, his wife, and my two nephews. My brother and his wife are quite often physically and verbally abusive to my 2.5 year old nephew. When spoken to about this, they state that they can do what they want. It breaks my heart. What do I do?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

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

Child Abuse

Narrated Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-‘As: The Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace) said: “Those who do not show mercy to our young ones and do not realise the right of our elders are not from us.” [Sunan Abi Dawud]

Ya Latif. This is a heartbreaking situation.

Children are an amanah (trust) from Allah, and parents cannot do as they wish. Parents, like all believers, are bound by the wisdom of the Shari’ah. Our spiritual tradition is replete with child-rearing wisdom, and its basis is one of love and mercy. Parents are called to balance compassion with firmness, and never, ever to strike in anger. Child abuse is sinful and impermissible in Islam.

Your brother and his wife will be called to account for everything they have done to wrong their child. May Allah guide and forgive them, and all parents.

Oppression

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 (upon him be blessings and peace)! 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]

Are your brother and his wife very run-down? Exhausted and overwhelmed parents are more likely to hit their children out of anger. See if you can find ways to help relieve their burden. If you haven’t already, can you offer to babysit on a regular basis? Do they need a night away?

When your brother and sister-in-law are calm, please address your concerns again. Appeal to their sense of love for their child. Suggest alternatives to hitting. Encourage them to speak to other parents of toddlers and ask how they manage. Are there any local support groups they can join?

Supplication

Please perform the Prayer of Need in the last third of the night. Beg Allah to lift this tribulation from your household. Please make dua every night for your nephews and for their parents. Trust that Allah is the Turner of Hearts.

Toddler

Having a toddler can be very stressful. By nature, they test boundaries. Parents who aren’t educated about age-appropriate behaviours can misinterpret healthy behaviours as defiance and a refusal to comply. This can cause them to lose their cool and strike out in anger. This very harmful for the bond between a parent and a child.

Many parents, later on in life, wonder why their adult children are distant from them. The root of that relationship fracture often lies in trauma in the early years of childrearing.

It was narrated that ‘Aishah said: “The Messenger of Allah never beat any of his servants, or wives, and his hand never hit anything.” [Sunan Ibn Majah]

The Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace) never hit anyone under his care, including his children. This is yet another proof of the perfection of his character. Yes, only Prophets are protected from sin, but we look to him as the very best example of a father. He was loving, involved, patient, playful, and firm.

Education

Your brother and his wife probably do not know any other strategies to cope.

Please enrol in Parenting in Islam: How to Raise Righteous Children, and encourage your brother and his wife to do the same.

I recommend that you purchase and read this book “Positive Discipline: The First Three Years: From Infant to Toddler–Laying the Foundation for Raising a Capable, Confident Child” by Jane Nelsen Ed.D., Cheryl Erwin, and Roslyn Ann Duffy.

Please give a copy of this book as a gift for your brother and his wife. This book is an invaluable resource, as it helps caregivers understand that toddlers are not developmentally ready to follow all instructions.

Janet Landsbury also offers respectful and firm advice on how to raise toddlers without ever needing to resort to physical abuse.

Aunty

Please continue to be a source of love and security for your two nephews. Alhamdulilah, they are blessed to have you with them. When they misbehave with you, model healthier modes of discipline for them.

Be kind to yourself in this time. You are not responsible for what the sins of your brother or his wife. All you can do is offer them sincere counsel, show them good character, be kind to your nephews, and leave the rest to Allah.

Lesson

Take this as a lesson for your future, inshaAllah. Make dua that Allah sends you a pious man of good character, who will be an excellent father for your children. Prophetic qualities like patience, forbearance, forgiveness and mercy are so important, because parenting is so challenging. Strive to inculcate these qualities in yourself.

I pray that Allah guides your household, and helps all of you raise a generation of strong believers who love Allah and His Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace).

Please see:

Explaining a Hadith on Disciplining Children

Wassalam,
[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.