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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.

 


 

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.

Do I Have to Live with My Parents?

Ustadh Tabraze Azam is asked if a Muslim child is obliged to live with their parents and if not, how to conduct oneself toward them in the best of ways.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I am 23 years old and live with my parents. I am the only son in the family. As a Muslim do I have to live with my parents? I don’t like to live with my parents.

Throughout my teenage years I had to live with my aunts and grandparents since my parents used to live in another country to make a living. My mother is not a Muslim and doesn’t always allow me to practice Islam to the fullest.

My father started praying couple years ago, but he has more of a communist mentality. Is it obligatory upon me to live with my parents?

Jazak Allah Khayr.

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

No, you aren’t obligated to live with your parents. Rather, the expectation is to be good to them (birr al walidayn).

If you feel that living away from them will be more beneficial for your religious practice, then take some time to consider the positives and negatives of such a decision, consult with an upright elder or scholar and pray the Prayer of Seeking Guidance (salat al istikhara) before any next steps.

I’m not sure what you’re referring to when you state that your mother doesn’t let you practice Islam to the fullest. Take gradual steps. Ensure that you’re eating what is halal, avoiding what is unlawful, and praying on time. And ask Allah Most High to increase you by His Grace.

Please read: When May Parents Be Disobeyed and How. Consider also taking this course: Excellence With Parents: Muhammad Mawlud’s Birr al Walidayn Explained: Your Parents’ Rights and How to Fulfill Them.

And Allah Most High knows best.


My Parents Want Me to Finish My Studies Before Getting Married. What Do I Do?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: I have been engaged to my fiancé for three years but he lives in a different country. My parents are insistent that I need to finish my education and get a job first. They feel my fiancé’s visa needs to be sorted first as being away from each other after marriage would be difficult. I really want to be with my fiancé. What should I do?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

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

Marriage

This is a difficult situation. On one hand, you feel ready to get married. On the other hand, your parents want you to wait.

It is important for you to handle this with wisdom and sensitivity. Consider this a test of your character.

Even though I do not know you or your parents, would it be safe to say that they are concerned for you and want to protect you from harm.

A woman has more at stake to lose when a marriage goes sour. Your education is incredibly important, and so is your ability to earn your own money. Marriage, especially when overseas, can be a complex and challenging situation.

I encourage you to read ‘ Before You Tie the Knot: A Guide for Couples
and listen to ‘ Getting Married with Ustadha Shireen Ahmed and Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Parents

I encourage you to do this course to better understand the rank of your parents: Excellence with Parents: How to Fulfill the Rights of Your Parents

It may be difficult for you to understand their perspective, and this is a test for most children. Perform the How Does One Perform The Prayer Of Need (salat al-haja)? for both Allah to soften all of your hear and for Him to grant you greater understanding of each other

Is there any way for you to work together with your parents to solve this together, as a team?

Mediation

Is there an elder in your community or your family who can help to speak to your parents on your behalf? Elders often respond better when they are given counsel by other elders.

Prayer of Guidance

Please perform the Istikhara: The Prayer of Seeking Guidance as many times as you need to for clarity. Watch what Allah unfolds for you, and what He makes easier.

For example, a clear sign that marriage is good for you is your parents changing their minds. A clear sign that marriage is not good for you is continual hardship in your path to getting married.

Support

Who do you have for support? Do you have close friends and family members who can support you?

Is there a culturally-sensitive counsellor you can speak to? I urge you to wake up in the last third of the night and perform tahajjud. May Allah give you both patience, wisdom, and a way out of your tribulation.

Please see:

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.

Dealing With Difficult Parents and Keeping Promises

Answered by Saira AbuBakr

Question: Assalamu alaikum

I find it hard to keep some of my promises and I live with a father who is sometimes cruel. I’m trying to find a way to stay on the right path, but it is hard.  Could you please advise me?

Answer: Walaikum salaam wa RahmatuAllah,

May Allah ease your situation for you and give you well-being in this World and the Next.

Dealing With Your Father

Know that prophets have been tested with difficult families and it is a sign of righteousness and expiation of sins, to be tested with those closest to us, especially parents. Make dua that Allah grants your father righteousness and facilitates ease for you in your patience with him.

Maintaining a Promise

Most of us, at some point or another in our lives, have broken promises, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

If one was sincere at the time of making the promise but was unable to fulfill it due to unforeseen circumstances, then one is not sinful in the matter. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) is reported to have said,

“Actions are by intentions and each person has what he/she intended….” [Imam AlBukhari and Muslim]

If one feels one has intentionally not kept a promise then the sunnah is to follow-up a wrong action with a good one. The former is erased by the latter.

The Prophet (Allah blesse him and give him peace) is reported to have said,

“….follow-up a wrong action with a good one, it will (the good action) erase it (the bad action). [Imam alTirmidhi]

Also,

” All Children of Adam are sinners and the best of sinners are those who repent often”. [Narrated by Imam al-Tirmidhi, Ahmad and others].

And Allah knows best.

Saira

Related Answers:

Ridding Oneself of Depression and Suicidal Thoughts

Dealing With Depression Caused by Unemployment and Loneliness

Breaking Promises and Repentance

Does the Qur’an Mention OCD or Waswasa (Baseless Misgivings) Being Caused by Jinn?

Advice to a Young Man with OCD and Struggling with Pornography and Other Major Sins

How Can I Be a Dutiful Son While Maintaining Independence from Controlling Parents?

Answered by Ustadha Jameela Jafri

Question: I wish to be a good son and fulfill my responsibilities. However I feel overwhelmed by my parents approach towards me. I feel I cannot be independent and live my own life and that my parents expect too much from me. How can I be a good son yet also be independent while respecting my parents wishes?

If I set boundaries and do things I want to won’t that be disobeying them because they want me to do things their way and they want to be informed about everything? How can I do what I want to knowing that if i try to set boundaries and do my own thing it will result in arguments. Can I accept the arguments and still just carry on as I want to?

I am young and in my twenties but this is causing me to feel very stressed, with low self esteem and weak. I just wish to make my own choices and live my own life while being a good son.

My parents being staunch promoters of the Asian full extended family system where there is lots of involvement by parents and siblings in everything and you have to simply follow this without question I expect these issues to worsen. Please advise me.

Answer: Assalam alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh

Thank you for your question. May Allah Most High facilitate ease and success in your life.

With regards to one’s parents, the general situation is that they are to be obeyed and followed in all permissible matters. One should be mindful of ensuring the highest respect and honor towards one’s parents. Allah Most High says, “We have enjoined upon man to be good and dutiful to his parents” (29:8).

It is important for you to maintain this high respect and dutifulness to your parents, while also making space for yourself to grow and make your own choices. There are some matters where it is important and natural for a person – especially a man who will have his own family one day, inshAllah – to exercise control and independence. These includes finances, personal time, private space, etc. As you mention, it is important to have some boundaries in these matters.

As you develop these boundaries, it is important to but to do so in a way that maintains kindness and respect to your parents. This will require you to be emotionally intelligent about their need to be involved in your life. You may need to overcompensate in some areas to balance these needs. Your parents may feel, for example, that you are pulling away from them as you try to assert your independence. Ease their fears by spending more time with them, calling them regularly, or buying them gifts, to the extent possible.

In today’s time, it is a great blessing to have caring parents and a family network – particularly for someone who is still in his early twenties. Your parents will be a source of continued blessings for you in this life and the next, inshAllah. Keep this in mind as you develop your boundaries with them and always maintain positive relationships. There are many people who have complete independence over their personal and financial affairs, but wish that they had an extended family system to provide guidance and advice. In times of difficulty, it is your parents and siblings that will support you.

Jameela Jafri

Related Answers:

Dealing With Parents

Parental Demands Scared Away Potential Spouse

Answered by Dr. Bano Murtuja

Question: Someone asked to marry me, and I was deeply interested in him.  My parents agreed, but they set unreasonable conditions, so he refused.  I got my parents to agree to take away their conditions, but the brother still refused. My problem is I can’t forget about him.  Other people want to marry me, but I only want to marry him because he is a very good man.   Please advise me because I am having problems forgiving my parents for this.

Answer: Walaikum salam,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and states.

Your parent’s actions in setting unreasonable demands in the first instance is problematic, however, the brother’s refusal to marry you despite your parent’s changing their minds is an indication that your marriage was not meant to be.

Whilst the first brother may be a good brother, Allah (Exalted be He), in His infinite Wisdom and Knowledge knows that which is best for us. Regardless of his character, it may have been that a marriage with him was not best for you in this life and the hereafter.

I understand that emotional attachment such as the one you formed with the brother in question can be difficult to break. However, comparing potential marriage partners with him is not begin fair to your self or to the brother’s who ask for your hand in marriage. When proposals come, you should make istikhara and ask Allah (Exalted be He) to make easy for you that which is best for you.

A full guide on how to make istikhara can be found here: The Reality of Istikhara

With regards to forgiving your mother, it is important that you remember our parents actions are often motivated out of love and concern for our welfare.

Allah (Exalted be He) has described the believers in the Qur’an as “those who avoid major sins and acts of indecencies and when they are angry they forgive” (al-Shura 42:37).

He (Exalted be He) also says: “And let not those of virtue among you and wealth swear not to give [aid] to their relatives and the needy and the emigrants for the cause of Allah , and let them pardon and overlook. Would you not like that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful” (an-Nas 24:22)

In trying to forgive others one should remember that we are all flawed, and all in need of forgiveness from human beings and by the Creator. In forgiving the wrongs done to us, we pray that we are in turn granted forgiveness for our transgressions.

May Allah (Exalted be He) grant you ease and facilitation in all your affairs.

Ma’salam

Bano

Related Answers:

Obeying Parents in Matters of Marriage

My Parents Won’t Let Me Marry Before My Older Sister

Marriage & Dealing With Parents

Dealing With a Dysfunctional Relationship With Parents

Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari

Question: Assalamu alaykum,

I am a Muslim female in my 20s. I live alone away from my mother.  I, for most of my life, have spoken to my mother everyday. As I have grown older, however, I have found it to be difficult to speak with my mother everyday, as I feel like she attempts to become overly involved in my life–in a way that makes me very anxious and makes me feel as if I am being watched.  Also, I still have issues with abuse from my father when growing up and my mother not giving me enough support.

After being diagnosed with depression and anxiety and taking medications, through the course of therapy I have come to realize that my mother is actually quite controlling and seems to not like it when I attempt to show independence.

My mother, despite knowing about my mental conditions and that they get worse when I come home, still insists that I come home to visit and talk every day. I decided to limit our contact and our phone calls for my emotional well being.  When I did this, I felt calmer and got more accomplished, but my relationship with my siblings worsened because my mother expressed how she was hurt that I didn’t contact her as much anymore.  I started to call again and she liked that, but my emotional well being worsened again.

I also realized that my mother seems to have been having an affair while I was growing up and maybe even now. I’ve seen my mother lie often, so she probably wouldn’t admit it if I asked her.

With regard to calling my mother, what would you recommend given that frequent calling seems to oppress me and less frequent calling upsets her? Also, with regard to visiting–especially given the situation that I am afraid of my father–what would you recommend?

I study human psychology and, examining my family dynamics, it appears that my family is enmeshed and dysfunctional. I have been taught that the way to help deal with such a situation is to establish clear boundaries, as enmeshed families like mine tend not to have them.  At the same time, I do not want to shrug off my religious obligations. Also I am concerned that if my mother is overly involved in my life, it may affect any future marriage that I may have and any possible future relationships with my children.

Answer: In the Name of God, the Gracious, the Merciful

Dear Sister,

Wa alaikum as-salaam wa rahmatullah,

Thank you for your question.

We know from revelation that life is characterized by tribulation. For example, Allah Ta’ala says, “O you who have attained to faith! Behold, some of your spouses and your children are enemies unto you: so beware of them! But if you pardon [their faults] and forbear, and forgive-then, behold, God will be much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace.Your worldly goods and your children are but a trial and a temptation, whereas with God there is a tremendous reward.” (Al-Qur’an, 64:14-15)

Although the outward purport of these verses is directed towards parents, children, from experience, sometimes know very well that the trial runs both ways. Those closest to us can pose the biggest challenge because they know us so well and, hence, can manipulate us to their advantage, causing us much hurt. However, as the Qu’ran counsels, we should take the higher path and choose forgiveness.

I’m glad you’re in therapy as the situation with your mother is a lot to handle. However, please make sure you’re doing things for your spiritual well-being. A regular morning and evening program of dhikr, supplication, and prayers upon the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, works wonders.

Please understand that our parents are human beings and are far from perfect. Sadly, there are Muslim parents who are dishonest, dysfunctional, and abusive. There are parents who will attempt to live vicariously through their children and try to have total control. However, as adults, we can do several things:

1. Mitigate the harm of family members by responding with kindness, refusing to argue, and establishing clear boundaries. I can’t tell you what boundaries you should establish in interacting with your mother. Only you know what works and what doesn’t. Do consider, however, the patience of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, in his dealings with his family members. And do try to recruit some supportive people in your life.

2. Learning how not to be as parents: Children can bring out the worst in some of us, sadly. While we would ideally like to be our best selves as parents, children, with their constant demands for our time and attention, not to mention their need for material resources, can push parents to the limit. That is why children, as Allah Ta’ala says above, can be the ultimate test. I know it’s difficult to understand but your mother might feel as frustrated with you as you are with her, but she has not found a healthy way to handle that. So learn from this situation how not to be as a parent.

3. Choosing peace and forgiveness.:Everyday, wake up and actively choose to forgive your family members and be at peace with their imperfections.

Finally, to address your suspicions of your mother’s infidelity, it is best to leave this alone. Even if you have proof, it would be difficult to confront your mother given your relationship. Pray for her and ask Allah to send her some spiritual support. And encourage your siblings to take her around good, religious people; let them know you care.

May Allah Ta’ala grant ease,

Zaynab Ansari

Must We Obey Our Parents If They Forbid Us From Attending Beneficial Islamic Gatherings?

Answered by Sidi Abdullah Anik Misra

Question: I have heard of a hadith of a Yemeni man who wanted to see the Prophet (pbuh) but his mother was elderly and needed him, so the Prophet (pbuh) told the man to stay where he was. (If know of a reference for this hadith or its authenticity, I am interested.)  This emphasizes the importance of caring for parents and decreasing their distress even when sacrificing the righteous companionship (even of a prophet).

Is it permissible for parents to forbid their children from the company of the righteous or attending gatherings of the righteous if they are afraid their children will fall into the wrong group (such as extremist groups)?

What if the parents are not in need (e.g. healthwise) of their children?

What are the permissible and recommended means of dealing with this situation for the children if in their opinion the company they are seeking is righteous and not astray?

What if there does not seem to be a means of convincing the parents? What if the source of the disagreement is a theological one and the parents do not trust the scholars present?

If you could mention both what responses are permissible and which are most beloved to Allah, it would be appreciated. Jazakum Allah khayran.

Answer: In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious Most Merciful,

As salamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Thank you for your question.  May Allah Most High bless you for the concern you have for respecting your parents.

The story you are speaking about is that of Owais al-Qarni, who lived in Yemen during the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) time, but did not get to meet him (and thus, become a Sahabi) because he was in the service of his elderly mother who needed him constantly.  A link on his virtues is attached below.

Yes, it is for discerning and knowledgeable parents to guide their children if they fear that they will fall into the wrong groups.  This is especially when one is living with them as a child.

Later as an adult, their wishes should be respected, but politely weighed against whether the fear is legitimate, and how staying away from good Muslim company is detrimental to one’s faith.

Parents must be spoken to with tact and great respect.  This seems to be an issue of conflicting ideas about the religion, so seek out a trustworthy scholar, who follows traditional Islamic scholarship and understands the society very well, and perhaps ask him his advice, or to mediate a discussion.

Wasalam,

Abdullah Anik Misra

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Further readings include:

My Parents Stop Me From Practising: What Should I Do?

Is Obedience to Parents Absolute?

The Role of Parents in Our Lives

Hadeeth Related to Owais al-Qarni (may Allah be pleased with him) in Sahih Muslim:

Usair bin `Amr (Ibn Jabir) reported: When delegations from Yemen came to the help of (the Muslim army at the time of Jihad) `Umar would ask them :”Is there Owais bin `Amir (May Allah be pleased with him) amongst you?”

(He continued searching him) until he met Owais. He said, “Are you Owais bin `Amir?” He said, “Yes”. `Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) asked, “Are you from the Qaran branch of the tribe of Murad?” He said, “Yes”. He `Umar again said, “Did you suffer from leucoderma and then you were cured from it but for the space of a dirham?” He said, “Yes”. He `Umar said, “Is your mother still alive?” He said, “Yes”.

He `Umar said, “I heard Messenger of Allah (May Allah bless him and give him peace) saying, `There would come to you Owais bin `Amir with the reinforcement from the people of Yemen. He would be from Qaran (the branch) of Murad. He had been suffering from leucoderma from which he was cured but for a spot of a dirham. He has a mother to whom he is very dutiful. If he were to take an oath in the Name of Allah (Mighty and Majestic is He), Allah (Mighty and Majestic is He) would fulfill his oath. And if it is possible for you, ask him to ask forgiveness for you.’ So, ask forgiveness for me”.

He Owais did so. `Umar then said, “Where do you intend to go?” He said, “To Kufah.” He `Umar said, “Let me write a letter for you to its governor,” whereupon he Owais said, “I love to live amongst the poor people”.

The following year, a person from among the elite (of Kufah) performed Hajj and he met `Umar . `Umar asked him about Owais . He said, “I left him in a state with meagre means of sustenance in a decayed house.” (Thereupon) `Umar said, “I heard Messenger of Allah saying, `There would come to you Owais bin `Amir of Qaran, a branch (of the tribe) of Murad, along with the reinforcement of the people of Yemen. He had been suffering from leucoderma which would have been cured but for the space of a dirham. He has a mother to whom he is very dutiful. Were he to swear, trusting Allah (Mighty and Majestic is He), for something, Allah (Mighty and Majestic is He) would fulfill his oath. If you can ask him to pray for forgiveness for you, do so”.

This man went to Owais and asked him to pray for forgiveness for him. Owais said to him, “You have just returned from a blessed journey, it is you who should pray for forgiveness for me; and did you meet `Umar?” The man said, “Yes”. `Owais then prayed for forgiveness for him. People became aware of the high status of Owais and he set out following his course. [Imam Muslim, Saheeh].

Another narration is:

A delegation from Kufah came to `Umar . Among them was one who used to make fun of Owais . `Umar enquired, “Is there anyone among you who is from Qaran?” So this man stepped forward. Then `Umar said, “I heard Messenger of Allah (May Allah bless him and give him peace) saying, `A man will come to you from Yemen named Owais. He will have left in the Yemen only his mother. He was suffering from leucoderma and prayed to Allah (Mighty and Majestic is He) to be cured of it. So he was cured except for a space of the size of a dinar or a dirham. Whoever of you should meet him should ask him to pray for forgiveness for him.”’ [Saheeh Muslim]

Another narration is:

`Umar said: “I heard Messenger of Allah (May Allah bless him and give him peace) saying, `The best one of the next generation (At-Tabi`un) is a man called Owais, he will have a mother and he will be suffering from leucoderma. Go to him and ask him to pray for forgiveness for you”. [Saheeh Muslim].

Balancing Marital Privacy Against Living with My Mother

Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari

Question: I have recently gotten married (Nikaah) to a man living in another state, and my mother had told him that he is not allowed to see me until we have the walimah which is 6 months after. We accepted her request although we really want to be together. Now my mother has told us she wants us to live with her as she lives alone, but my husband wants us to have our own place nearby for just 6 months so that we get to know each other in privacy, without someone there. My mother has gotten really upset and has even said she may curse us. I fear that I may be in the wrong and Allah may punish me, but i also want to please my husband and spend time with him alone for the first 6 months. Should I try to convince him to stay with my mum, if not, should i just divorce (we haven’t had intercourse so there is no need for talak). I really don’t want to divorce and feel very stressed out.

Answer: Dear Sister,

Assalamu alaikum.

Thank you for your question.

I pray this message finds you well.

When getting married, it is important to understand that two things change:

1. We now have obligations to someone outside of our parents, namely our spouses.

2. The nature of our relationship with our parents changes.

You are an adult and should act accordingly. Islamically, your mother cannot tell you can’t see or live with your husband. You are married and, assuming your husband has secured your agreed-upon mahr (dowry), it is his right that you join him where he lives.

It sounds like your mother is having a hard time letting go. It is often very difficult for traditional Muslim parents to accept that their children now have a new role to play and obligations to someone else. In time, if you handle this with grace and patience, your mother will accept that you are a married woman and have new responsibilities.

I would not advise immediately moving in with your mother because it is unfair to your husband. You do need time and space to get to know each other. If after a time, you feel that you need to move in with your mother, then, if at all possible, try to find a home that will accommodate everyone’s need for privacy.

May Allah Ta’ala grant you ease.

Regards,

Zaynab Ansari

Related answers:

Marriage troubles…

Is it obligatory to obey one’s parents unconditionally? What if they prevent me doing religious