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Marriage and Severed Ties of Kinship

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil advises on mending relations with estranged parents and marrying with their blessing.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

My parents got divorced when I was 3 and I ended up with my father who raised me. I didn’t see my mother for almost 19 years, until I finally decided I wanted to see her. AlhamduliLlah I saw her and we got very close, but it created a lot of problems for me as well, as my mother and father were at times competing for my loyalty. It felt like I was being dragged from both sides.

My mother has a lot of emotional problems and gets angry very easily, and because I haven’t grown up with her she sometimes expects me to act in certain ways or do certain things that I’m not accustomed to and she gets angry at me for not doing them. This has caused me a lot of psychological problems and at times I would dread talking to my mom because I would be scared of witnessing a bad reaction from her despite trying my best not to say or do anything that might upset her.

My mother right now doesn’t talk to me. She severed ties with me about a year ago and is forbidding my sisters from talking to me as well. This happened because I was getting to know a girl for marriage and my mom insisted that I bring this girl to the country where my mother is living before we do anything, and I explained to my mother in the gentlest manner that I couldn’t do that because neither the girl nor her family would agree to that if we weren’t married. I informed my mother that I was planning on doing a recitation of Fatiha with my father’s side of the family and the girl’s family and my mother was furious that she wouldn’t be present for this, particularly after I explained that neither me or nor my mother would have the means to fly my mother out to the country where we were going to do this.

After this, my mother stopped talking to me, and my sisters too, not because my sisters want to but because my mother is not letting them. I’ve been texting my mother since then and I tried calling her as well but she stopped answering me. I message her frequently to ask about her, make dua for her, and apologize for upsetting her but she doesn’t answer me.

My mother lives in a different country and I don’t have the means to go there at the moment. Things didn’t work out between the girl and I for marriage, and now I’m looking for another suitable marriage partner. So my question is, would it be permissible for me to get married while my mother is not talking to me given my circumstances? I’m nearing 30 years old and it’s very difficult for me to please everyone in my family. Obviously because I grew up with my father, I’m closer to him than my mother and he’s more involved in my life than she was. I’m just thinking that I’m reaching a point in my life where I don’t want to keep delaying marriage, especially for reasons that are beyond my control and capacity to deal with.

 

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

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

Mother’s Anger

It sounds like beneath your mother’s anger are deep feelings of shame, guilt, sadness and so on. When you told her that you would read the Fatiha without her, she probably felt completely cast aside, disrespected, and unloved. Her decision to cut off ties with you remains sinful, but is understandable, given her emotional imbalanced nature.

Even though she did not raise you from the age of three, she is still your mother, and it is still obligatory for you to treat her with kindness and respect.

Because of this, I strongly discourage you from getting married without her knowledge and her blessing. She will be even angrier, and you will be giving your future wife the wrath of a deeply unhappy mother-in-law.

Give yourself a reasonable time limit. I am not saying to wait ten years, but you do need to try harder, and give your mother time to come around.

Please perform the Prayer of Guidance about getting married. Please perform the Prayer of Need and beg Allah to soften your mother’s heart.

Exhaust Every Option

Please try harder to reconnect with your mother. Send her gifts, write her letters, and so on. Give in charity daily, even if it is little, with the intention of earning your mother’s forgiveness.

Ideally, please save up to fly in person to kiss her hand. When she sees you, it is only natural for her heart to soften, and for her to weep healing tears. It sounds like she has 19 years of regret and shame, manifesting in her anger towards you.

Please complete this course so you can better understand the rank of your mother, even though she is challenging: Excellence With Parents: Muhammad Mawlud’s Birr al-Walidayn Explained: Your Parents’ Rights and How to Fulfill Them.

Financial Priorities and Marriage

If you cannot afford to visit your mother, can you afford to support a wife?

Even though you are not close to your mother, she remains your mother, and must be treated with compassion and respect. She has already missed out on so much of your life, and it sounds like she is desperate to connect with you. She is trying to be part of your marital selection process, because she wants to be part of your life.

Gender Interaction

Please know that you need to still observe appropriate gender interaction while looking for a wife.

Do not get too emotionally attached. The woman you marry must be sensitive to your mother’s situation, too. Being kind and patient with your mother is this a pathway to Jannah for you and your future wife, when handled well.

Mother’s Rank

“We commanded man (to be good) in respect of his parents. His mother carried him (in her womb) despite weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. (We said to man,) “Be grateful to Me, and to your parents. To Me is the ultimate return.” (Sura Luqman 31:14)

I pray that when you become a father some day, you will better understand the rank of your own mother.

Even your father raised you when your mother left at the age of three, consider this: your mother kept you safe in her womb, gave birth to you, nursed you, and looked after you for the first three years of your life. Nothing you can do can repay that debt to her.

Please see How Can I Deal With My Difficult Mother in a Respectful Way?

 

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.

Is My Adopted Son Mahram?

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

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

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

Telling the Truth

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

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

Mahram (Non-Marriageable Kin)

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

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

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

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

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

Warmest salams,

Jamir

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Can a Son Force His Mother to Wear Hijab?

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

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

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

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

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

I pray this helps.

Farid

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Should I Cut Off Relations With Family Who Fed Me Haram Food?

Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari

Question: Asalamualaykum,
My father fed me food which was haram. I only found out once I saw the take out box.  While I was eating it I felt strange but I disregarded the feeling as he is obviously my father. Once I found out the food was haram I walked out the house and stayed in my mothers home whom I live with. He apologized and asked for my forgiveness but my mother said what he did is unforgivable and I shouldn’t speak to him.  What should I do?

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

Dear Seeker,

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

Please give your father the benefit of the doubt and assume he made a mistake and won’t make it again. Be emphatic about the standards to which you adhere and, if possible, bring your own food next time. However, it is not good to cut your father off. Given that your parents are divorced, it’s important that you not get in the middle of whatever dispute they might still have. Reassure your mother that you respect her point of view and will take care not to consume any more unlawful food.

May Allah Ta’ala facilitate ease,

Zaynab Ansari