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How Can I Tell My Family From Abroad That I Do Not Support Their Backwards Thinking?

Answered by Ustadha Umm Umar

Question: Assalam alaykum,

I have recently had close relatives from abroad. They are very cultural. They are not used to seeing girls getting an education and working. The only thing they think is important to a lady is for to get married and have kids. They ask and tell me: “Why do you go to school? Just get married, have kids”.However, these are not my priorities as of right now.

How can I tell them respectfully that I do not support their backwards thinking?

Answer: Assalamu Alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

I pray this message reaches you in the best of health and iman.

There is a great wisdom in each of us living our lives in a manner that only we can choose for ourselves. Others may speculate about what we should or should not be doing, but at the end of the day, it is really your own opinion that really matters.

I would encourage you to consider what feelings might be behind their advice, such as:

-them wanting what they see as best for you
-trying to help you in the best way they can think of
-actually caring about your life and wanting you to find happiness
-concern for your future
-that they love you

These ideas are in no way wrong, in fact the opposite. Now days people are often wrapped up in their own lives to sincerely care for others and their future. Their expression of concern is in fact very sweet masha Allah. I know it can be difficult to have other people attempt to delve into your personal life, especially when you do not wish to consult them. I would advise you to handle this by:

-thanking them for their concern
-attempting to change the subject (a good way is by asking them for advice in another area to distract them, or by asking about a historical event in your family)
-holding them in a good opinion

The Prophet (peace be upon him) was someone who had the best character with every single person he dealt with. He often dealt with desert bedouins, who did not have the finer elements of etiquette that the more local Arabs of Mecca had. Yet the Prophet (peace be upon him) interacted with them in the best of ways, and persevered and remained friendly, even when their conduct left much to be desired.

Likewise, we ourselves need to be patient with others, as an expression of love for our greatest teacher. Also to show that as believers, we are called to the best of etiquette, even when we are provoked, or others are behaving in ways that we find annoying.

May Allah Most High put us all on the path most pleasing to Him,and may we all be exemplars of the best of conduct in our homes and communities, ameen.

Umm Umar (Shireen Ahmed)

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Photo: Defence Images

What Can We Do When Our Efforts to Amend Relationships Fail Invariably?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: What do we do when we give gifts to amend relationships but they are rejected?

My sister of my husband refuses to forgive him for something that happened over 5 years ago. He has given her gifts, tried to make amends and even asked to talk to which she refuses. He feels so oppressed by this.

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for continuing to seek guidance on your delicate family differences.

Sister

This is a very difficult situation. It is only natural for your husband to want a better relationship with his sister. However, his sister does not sound willing to reconcile in a healthy and mutually beneficial way.

I encourage you and your husband to see a culturally-sensitive counsellor and learn better coping strategies. His sister sounds like a toxic personality, and by wanting her acceptance, he is putting his happiness in her hands.

It is one thing to give gifts, which is praiseworthy, but it is another thing to give gifts with the expectation that it will automatically make things better. “Should” thinking can make things worse, instead of telling oneself, “It would be nice if giving gifts made her nicer to me, but it’s OK if it’s not. My reward is with Allah. She has a history of being a hurtful person, and I have no control over her actions.”

Remind your husband that he has no control over his sister’s responses. If she thrives on hurting him, then it is definitely time for him to adjust his expectations. The larger the gap between our reality and our expectations, then the more upset we become.

Acceptance

For as long as your brother remains attached to the hope that everything will be OK once his sister is nice to him, he will continue to be disappointed by the reality of his situation. I encourage him to look at Byron Katie’s strategy for accepting reality, called The Work.

It is so easy to be caught up in grief, especially when we are tested by our loved ones. However, from an Islamic standpoint, it’s important to remember that:

1) Despair is forbidden.
2) Everything is exactly as Allah ordained it, and therefore it is what is best for us. How can having a sister like that be best for him? Allah knows best. Perhaps this trial is a way for him to continue to make dua to Allah for help. This situation reminds me of an aphorism by Ibn Ata’illah:

“Whoever does not draw near to God
as a result of the caresses of love
is shackled to Him with the chains of misfortune.”

When we don’t make sufficient shukr for ease, then Allah calls us to Him through difficulty.

Role of a wife

Your role is to remind your husband that he can only do his part, and to leave the rest to Allah. Call him to adorn himself with beautiful attributes such as patience, gratitude, and certainty in Allah’s promise. Model good character and patience for him. Balance being kind with him, alongside being firm.

Solutions

1) Seek counselling for this chronic family issue.
2) Help your husband focus on what he can be grateful for in his life e.g. Daily gratitude exercises at the dinner table, “Alhamdulilah, today I am grateful for x, y, z etc”
3) Go for regular breaks away from his sisters, so that you, your husband and your children can build happier memories.
4) Encourage your husband to build happier memories with the rest of his family.
5) I encourage you and your husband to empower yourselves through a better understanding faith and action, through this course Excellence in Faith & Action (from Ghazali’s 40 Foundations of Religion).

Please refer to the following links:

What is the Minimum Amount of Relationship I Have to Keep with a Relative I Hate?
A Reader on Patience and Reliance on Allah

Wassalam,
Raidah

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Photo: torange.biz

My Husband and I Argue a Lot in Front of Our Small Daughter and It Scares Her. What Should I Do?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: My husband and I argue a lot in front of our 3 year old daughter. She often gets scared seeing this. Many times my husband has called me names or told me to shut up in front of her. I am very worried about the impact this will have on her.

What should I do to protect her?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah lift this tribulation from your family.

Professional help

Dear sister, it sounds like you and your husband need professional help. It is traumatising for your daughter to see your husband disrespect you so openly. Unless this changes, when she grows up, your daughter will expect the same from her husband. Kind and respectful treatment from a husband will be strange to her. May Allah protect her and all children from this.

I urge you both to see a culturally-sensitive counsellor and get help. Your husband needs to learn anger management strategies, and you both need to learn conflict resolution skills.

Solutions

Please perform the Prayer of Need in the last third of the night and ask Allah to help heal your marriage.

When registration reopens, I encourage you and your husband to complete Islamic Marriage: Guidance for Successful Marriage and Married Life. You must both learn and understand the spirit and law behind a successful Islamic marriage. Shouting matches have absolutely no space in a healthy marriage.

Please visit the #staymarried blog and study their resources, especially on conflict resolution.

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]

Allah has entrusted your daughter to you and your husband. If staying together will only cause even more oppression, then it is time to look at the future of your marriage.

Although divorce is the most hated of all permissible things to Allah, if it means your daughter will no longer be exposed to the trauma of watching her father oppress her mother, then it could be a mercy. That being said, please exhaust all options – counselling, dua, mediation by a trusted local scholar etc. Divorce is a last resort for you and your husband. You and your husband must do your best to make your marriage work. That being said, please don’t wait for decades before ending a destructive marriage.

Please write back if you have more questions.

I pray that Allah heals your marriage, and blesses your daughter with a loving and peaceful home.

Please refer to the following links:

A Little Fiqh on Controlling One’s Anger
Staying Connected to Your Purpose Even When Your Marriage is Rocky, by Ustadha Anse Tamara Gray

Raidah Shah Idil

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

My Husband Pronounced a Divorce Over the Phone Without Warning. Is My Divorce Valid?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: My husband and I married a few months ago. I left to come to visit my family. While I was home, we got into an argument about me working. A week later my husband called me and pronounced talaq (divorce). He has not spoken to me since.

Is the divorce valid? Have I committed any sins? Will he be judged on his behaviour?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well.

Consultation

Is there a local scholar you can speak to about your situation? Please consult one as soon as you can.

Validity

I am very sorry, but based on your description, your divorce is valid. It would be sinful for your former husband to have divorced you without good reason, but it is still valid. You have done your part by reaching out to him and trying to reconcile. Yes, as with any action, he will be taken to task by Allah for his behaviour.

Moving Forward

You have two options:

1) Reconcile

Perhaps your husband regrets his decision to pronounce talaq. It could have been a result of waswasa, poor advice from others, or something entirely different. Allahu alam. Is there any way you can reach out to him, perhaps through a trusted family member or respected community elder? Because he pronounced talaq only once, there is still a chance for you to reconcile.

Please complete this course Islamic Marriage: Guidance for Successful Marriage and Married Life to help you better understand the spirit and law behind marriage in Islam. Ideally, a couple should be clear on how to deal with major points of contention before getting married e.g. the wife working, living arrangements etc.

Should the two of you reconcile, then please work on better methods of communication and conflict resolution. Consult a marriage therapist if you need to.

2) Move on

As heartbreaking as this sudden and unexpected divorce is for you right now, trust in the promise of Allah. “For indeed, with hardship [will be] ease. Indeed, with hardship [will be] ease.” [Qur’an, 94:5-6]

To help you decide, please perform Salatul Istikhara up to 7 times. You do not need to look for the answer in a dream. Rather, observe how events unfold in your life, and see what Allah makes easy for you. If He makes easy a return to your husband, then that is a sign for you. If He blocks your return, then that is a sign for you.

Divorce may seem like the end of the world right now, but trust that even the worst of heartaches is temporary. Think of this as a new beginning, and a way for you to know what you want in a husband for next time, inshaAllah. Some of the best lessons in life hurt, but they provide us with invaluable wisdom. Look after yourself during this heartbreak. Reach out to loved ones who will support you. Make a lot of istighfar, read Qur’an, make dua in the last third of the night and make plenty of salawat upon the Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace).

I pray that Allah soothes your heartbreak, grants you clarity, and replace what you have lost with something better.

Please refer to the following link:

My Heart Feels Uneasy After Divorce – What Can I Do?
What are the Wisdoms behind the Rulings on Divorce in Islam?
A Reader on Patience and Reliance on Allah
Selected Prophetic Prayers for Spiritual, Physical and Emotional Wellbeing by Chaplain Ibrahim Long

Wassalam,
Raidah

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.