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Keeping Good News From Parents Due to Abuse and Disrespect

Answered by Ustadh Abdullah Anik Misra

Question: I recently passed my degree and I had told everyone except my parents because of how they’ve treated me and my wife.  My mother disrespects my wife and my father threatens to hit me.  Due to this, I did not tell them, but another family member did.  Have I done anything wrong by not telling them first?

Answer: In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate,

As salamu alaikum,

Not telling good news to your parents first is not a sin in itself; however, actions are according to their intentions.

If there was a feeling of disobedience or bitterness over how they treated you, or to cut off relations or make them feel unimportant, then all of these reasons are sinful and impermissible.

Allah Most High says:  “Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him, and that you show excellence towards your parents.  If one or both of them reaches old age in your company, then do not [even] say “Uff!” to them, and do not push them away, and address them with honorable speech.  And lower for them the wing of humility, out of mercy for them, and say:

‘Oh Lord, have mercy on them, as they raised me up when I was small.  Truly, your Lord knows best what is in your souls…’” [Quran 17:23]

It is natural to feel upset that they hurl abuses at you.  However, you must be patient in the face of their criticisms, and learn not to answer harshness with harshness, or coldness.

Maintaining family ties, even when the other side is cutting them off or showing disrespect, is a great virtue in Islam that is from the pristine life-example [Sunnah] of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).

A Wife Should Not Be Subject to Verbal Abuse From Her In-Laws

Your wife should not be subject to open, obscene abuse from her in-laws.  You should try your best to protect her from that, including not forcing her to be in a living arrangement or gathering in which she is being disparaged, and respectfully but firmly insisting that it stop.  Gently withdraw if they cannot comply, then return with good character when things cool down.

Mitigating Family Tensions

A few steps to lessening family tensions are: 1) don’t argue or defend yourself in heated times, 2) forgive, ignore and brush-off offenses, and do not hold grudges, and 3) promote family ties by calling, inviting and giving gifts, even you are turned away.

Do it for Allah’s sake, not for the sake of creation.  As the Prophet (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) taught us,

“The one who joins family ties is not the one who merely reciprocates [the same treatment he receives from his family], but rather, if his family ties have been cut off, then he connects them back.” [Bukhari]

Wassalam,

Abdullah Anik Misra

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Establishing Contact With Estranged Family Members

Answered by Ustadh Abdullah Anik Misra

Question: Asalaamualaikum warahmatullah,

We have family on my dad’s side that we don’t talk to and it’s really getting me down. My parents are really stubborn about the whole matter and don’t want to make peace so I tried for myself about a month ago and am still waiting. I know I shouldn’t but I feel so jealous when I see them getting on with other members of my family and really wish we could sort things out. I can feel myself falling into a state of depression because of this. Is there anything you can suggest from an Islamic viewpoint? Are there any supplications I can recite or any other actions I can take?

Answer: In the Name of the Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate,

Wa alaikum salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Thank you for your question.  The upshot is to continue reaching out to your family, patiently and respectfully work on and pray for your parents to come around, shun feelings of jealousy and exalt in the blessings Allah has showered upon you.  To reiterate, there are four points:

1) Reaching out to estranged family: Keep up your efforts to connect with them in a sincere and loving way.  Do not give up, even if they don’t respond, and do not be disheartened.  Don’t be overbearing, but show good character and good cheer.  There is great reward in following this act from the life-example of the Prophet (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him).

2) Respectfully and gently work on your parents.  Do not push them too hard or argue, but explain the virtue of joining family ties in the eyes of Allah Most High.  Remind them that by forgiving and forgetting, they are taking the higher road.  Make dua’ for them- their hearts are in hands of Allah, and we cannot control anyone.  Do not take the pressure upon yourself, but consign this to Allah.

3) Jealousy is a spiritual disease of the heart, and you should shun it when you feel it.  Jealousy means you are not pleased with what Allah Most High has allotted someone else over you, and may wish that they lose that blessing- while Allah is All-Wise.  The solution is to seek Allah’s refuge when it rears its head and ask Allah to purify your heart, make consistent dua’ for the people you are jealous of that Allah Most High bless them with more of that same good thing, and count your blessings.

4) A believer should not become depressed, and never despair of the mercy of the Most Merciful.  Pour your feelings out to Allah when alone, in dua’, so they are not pent up inside you, and ask Him to relieve you of your worries.  Think of all the blessings He has given you, then see how small this problem is in that context.  Realize that these are tests that occur in a believer’s life, and resolve that no matter the outcome of this, it is all part of Allah’s wisdom, and it won’t stop you from getting closer to Allah Most High each day.

Just to add, it is permissible in this case to make up small [realistic!] niceties to tell each side, with the intention of healing rifts, such as saying, “My parents send salam to you all,” or “Uncle was asking how you both were doing, and said it was finally time we got together again”.  This can soften the hearts and push one side to make the first move.  May the Lord of Hearts join their hearts.

Wassalam,

Abdullah Anik Misra

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Do I Have to Marry Someone Within My Caste to Please My Family?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Asalaamu alaikum
I have a problem regarding marriage. I am in my early twenties and my family wants me to get married soon.  There are a number of families asking for my hand in marriage through my parents, but  I personally do not know any of them. I’m being pressured to choose and that I’m being told I’m a disobedient child and I’ll be punished for not choosing a suitor to marry. 

There is a brother I’m intersted in, but my parents don’t approved because he is in a different caste.  I’m being told if I go through with marrying the brother I’ll be punished by Allah and I’ll have an unhappy marriage. 

Is there any Islamic support for not marrying those in a different caste?  I don’t want to upset my family, but I also want to have a happy marriage.  How would you advise me?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I hope you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.

If one does not wish to marry one of the prospective that have been offered to one, one can politely refuse.

According to the Hanafi school, one’s guardian (wali) cannot force one to marry a prospective without one’s permission. [Quduri/Maydani, al-Lubab fi Sharh al-Kitab; Mawsili, al-Ikhtiyar li ta`lil al-Mukhtar]

Refusing Suitors and choosing based on the Religion (Deen)

One should realize that choosing to marry someone is one of the most important decisions of one’s life. One needs to consider carefully and make a serious, mature decision. And one would optimally choose someone that oneself, and one’s parents, are happy with.

The Messenger of God (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “A woman is married for four reasons: for her wealth, her lineage, her beauty and her religious inclination, choose the one who is religious (or) you will be ruined.” [Bukhari; Muslim] The phrase, “you will be ruined”, was used, as Imam Nawawi (Allah be pleased with him) explains, to indicate something that is frowned upon, discouraged and not a literal ruining. [Nawawi, Sharh Sahih Muslim]

As the narration (hadith) notes, one should seek out a pious and righteous spouse. Realize that one wants somebody who knows something about an Islamic marriage, looking after a family and responsibility. Even though this is not the only criterion, somebody serious about their religion would not take this point lightly.

Castes and Legal Suitability (Kafa’ah)

Being a legal, suitable match (kafa’ah) is a consideration when selecting a compatible spouse.

As for marrying within one’s caste, some people like to attach a huge amount of importance to it. (One would do well to research what the caste system is all about) Often, it is considered highly problematic to marry ‘lower’ castes; the reason is simple: pride. Boasting, arrogance and pride are sinful activities. As for doing so based one’s ancestry and lineage, it has been specifically condemned by the Messenger of God (Allah bless him and give him peace), “Verily Allah has removed from you the stupidity of the pre-Islamic era (Jahiliyya) and their boasting of their ancestors. Whether you are god-fearing believers or wretched sinners, you are the sons of Adam, and Adam was created from dust” [Abu Dawud]

However, a caste, in some sense, could be considered akin to ethnicity. Therefore, if one had a number of prospectives of different nationalities, one could use this as a consideration. Though one should remember that this is not the only, nor primary, consideration in a prospective spouse.

Obeying Parents

Being good to one’s parents is an unconditional duty.

“Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him, and do good to parents. If any one of them or both of them reach old age, do not say to them: uff (a word or expression of anger or contempt) and do not scold them, and address them with respectful words, and submit yourself before them in humility out of compassion, and say, ‘My Lord, be merciful to them as they have brought me up in my childhood.’” [Qur’an, 17.23-24]

There are many manifestations of being ‘good’ to one’s parents and obedience is often one of them. There are some cases in which one would not obey one’s parents; such cases include obeying them in leaving obligations (fard), doing something unlawful (haram), non-fulfillment of rights and the like. However, one is still duty-bound to be ‘good’ to them, as per the Qur’anic command.

And when one does obey them, one has to be careful to do so in a manner that entails being ‘good’ to them; both in word and deed. Someone respectfully disobedient could still be fulfilling the duty of being ‘good’ to their parents. The opposite, too, is true.

Final Thoughts

One of the most important things to remember is to ask Allah as He loves to be asked, “And when My servants question thee concerning Me, then surely I am nigh. I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he crieth unto Me. So let them hear My call and let them trust in Me, in order that they may be led aright.” [2:186] Know that He has showered His blessings upon you throughout your life; be grateful for the blessings you have, ask Allah for what you want, with conviction, and you will, insha’Allah, find what you are looking for.

In addition, it’d be highly recommended to read Hedaya Hartford’s book, Islamic Marriage, as well as taking the course on marriage, here at SeekersGuidance.

May Allah give you, and all those who are in a similar situation, tawfiq in their search for a pious spouse. Amin.

And Allah alone gives success.

Wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

How Can I Give Islamic Advice to My Family When They Know About My Sinful Past?

Answered by Ustadha Rukayat Yakub

Question: I’m a college student and in my past I did some bad things.  However, I have repented so much and have completely stayed away from the deed for more than a year and a half now and hope to stay away from it for the rest of my life. The problem is that my sister, who is now in high school, continues to remember my past and blames me all the time for it. Anytime I mention anything that is regarding Islam she mentions my past. Because of this we have many arguments and I don’t like arguing with her because she is still young and doesn’t not understand the depth of the problem of American society. I don’t know how I should deal with these situations and what I should say to her. Also, my mother is not very Islamically minded and doesn’t see how detrimental following certain things in American society can be bad, so it is even harder trying to explain to my sister what she shouldn’t be doing. What should I do?

Answer: Bismillah

Assalaamu alaikum,

How to Approach Your Sister

Dear Questioner, I think you need to speak frankly to your younger sister, children are very in tune to what is going around them, you sister was paying close attention to what you were doing two years ago. So my advice is to sit her down and tell her, ” Yes, what I did was wrong. I recognized this and this is why I changed. I asked Allah ta’ala to forgive me and with his aid I have stayed away from such destructive behaviour, Allah is kind, Allah is Generous and Allah is forgiving. and because I love and care about you I do not want you to repeat the same mistakes I made.”

Tell her about the seven shades and how you want better for her. Tell her stories of the sahaba and other righteous ones who changed, tell her stories of mistakes people made and how Allah ta’ala forgive them. Let her know that it is hard to heal the wounds caused by your old behavior if she keeps dredging up the past , just like a physical wound needs to be treated and left to heal and how peeling a scab makes it next to impossible for a physical wound to heal without a scar, her dragging up the past is making difficult you all to move on as loving siblings in a family.

People make mistakes and part of helping others is to acknowledge it and move on.  She is in high school so I do not consider her too young to show generosity and kindness to you by letting this go. Let her know that you understand how she feels (i.e that you are being a hypocrite), but let her know that since you have turned away from these acts with the intention to never return to them, Islamically you are doing what is required and you want her help and support to make your family and your relationship a strong one.

You can also talk to her about the importance up family unity and how there are bigger problems out there that perhaps you both can do something about. This could be raising money for a local charity, volunteering with organizations like habitat for humanity, or getting out and seeing how you both can put your energy together in the service of others. Do you presently spend any quality time together?  It looks like you need to strengthen you sibling relationship.  Do things for her, do things together, make dua for the healing of your relationship with your sister and strengthening of the faith and practice of your entire family.

How to Approach Your Mother

With your mother you could look at studies that show the detrimental effects of the things you are concerned about, sometimes people listen better when they read an academic paper or study on a subject than when someone tells them about it. Many parents do not understand the challenges of growing up in America in the age we live in, it is very different even from growing up in here twenty years ago. Try to have patience with your mom, but do try to educate her the best you are able.

May Allah ta’ala bless you and assist and strengthen you and your family.

Your sister
Rukayat Yakub

Related Answers:

Family Problems: Maintaining Conviction in Allah During Difficulty & Tribulation

Can One Lie About Past Sins?

Advice on Dealing with the Financial Crisis

Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan

Question: Can you give some information -advice – on how Muslims should respond to financial crisis both in the public and private lives?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

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

In short, the answer to dealing with any crisis—whether privately as individuals or publicly as a community—is to return wholeheartedly to the teachings and guidance of the Qur’an and Sunna, which related to financial matters include the following:

(1) Realize the true nature of this world, as explained by the Beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) in many hadiths, such as:

“This world and all that is in it is cursed, except for the remembrance of Allah, that which He loves, a scholar or a student of knowledge.” [Tirmidhi]

That is, all of this world is blameworthy except for that which is used as a means to please Allah, to draw near to Allah, and to serve Allah and His religion. If one’s worldly efforts are done for the sake of Allah, they are blessed and bring blessings; otherwise, they are devoid of good and become a means of headaches and worries.

(2) Related to that, try to infuse all of your work and career endeavors with a sincere intention—to please Allah, to use your earnings for the sake of Allah, to earn a halal income, to have enough money to support your dependents and donate charity, etc.

Having a job is a great blessing of Allah Most High, and a means to do much good. It is the way of the prophets themselves, as Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “No one ever ate better food than from the work of his own hands; and Allah’s prophet Dawud used to eat from the work of his own hands.” [Bukhari]

Take the means to secure a good job, and work hard: be diligent, honest, and upright—all for the sake of Allah.

(3) Spend in charity, and do so regularly. This is a great source of baraka in one’s life and wealth, as well as a means for acceptance of spiritual works, good health, and warding off calamities.

Allah Most High states, as related by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in a hadith qudsi, “Spend O son of Adam! I will spend on you.” [Bukhari]

(4) At the same time, be balanced in your charity, and do not neglect your primary financial obligations.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “O son of Adam! For you to spend the surplus is better for you, and for you to withhold it is certainly worse. You will not be blamed, however, for keeping what suffices you; and [when you spend] begin with your dependents.” [Muslim]

A Qur’anic verse that provides a most beautiful summation of the attitude of the believer towards his wealth is:

“And seek, with respect to all that Allah has given you, the next abode; yet forget not your portion for this world; and [when you do spend] do so with excellence, just as Allah has shown excellence to you.” (28:77)

Muslims do not neglect their worldly duties and responsibilities, yet their focus, aim and goal is Allah and the afterlife. And when they do anything for Allah, they do so with excellence and beauty (ihsan).

(5) Have godfearingness (taqwa) in all your affairs, as taqwa is a means to every good in general, and specifically to relief from distress, unforeseen provision, and ease in one’s affairs.

Allah Most High states, “Whoever has taqwa of Allah, He will give him a way out, and will provide sustenance for him from whence he least expected,” (65:2-3) as well as “Whoever has taqwa of Allah, He will make easy his affairs.” (65:4)

(6) Avoid wastefulness (israf), which is a major vice and disease, prevalent at both the individual and societal levels today.

Allah Most High states, “Do not be extravagant: verily the extravagant are the brethren of devils” (17:26–7), as well as

“Eat and drink, but be not wasteful: verily Allah loves not the wasters” (7:31).

For a more detailed discussion on wastefulness, please see:

Global Warming and Wastefulness

(7) Related to avoiding wastefulness, appreciate the immense blessing of wealth, and show much gratitude for it. This is a sure means to keeping the blessing, inshaAllah, as well as finding increase in it.

As Ibn Ata’illah states, “Whoever does not show gratitude for blessings has exposed himself to losing them, yet whoever shows gratitude for them has tied them down by their tethers,” which is based on the Qur’anic verse, “And surely if you show gratitude, I will most certainly give you more” (14:7).

(8) Maintain family ties, which itself is an expression of gratitude for the blessing of family, and also a means to expansive sustenance.

Our Beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) taught us, “Whoever would love for his sustenance to be broadened [and filled with blessing] and for his lifespan to be extended, then let him maintain family ties.” [Bukhari, Muslim]

(9) Make tawba your constant companion in the journey of life. Shun the unlawful and ask much forgiveness.

This should be done for the sake of Allah alone, but Allah does inform us of some worldly benefits of tawba as well, including financial, as He Most High states, “So I said, ‘Seek forgiveness from your Lord, indeed He is Ever-forgiving. He will send down rain upon you in abundance, and He will increase you in wealth and in children'” (71:10-12).

(10) Realize that financial difficulties, as with all difficulties, are tests from Allah. Turn to Him in neediness, lowliness, humbleness, and impoverishment. Raise your hands in supplication, and ask of His favor. Tell Him that you are His weak servant, and He alone is Lord, Master, Powerful, and Free of need.

Persevere, be steadfast, and hold fast to contentment. Take the means to end the trial, and leave the rest to Allah. If we are pleased with Allah, Allah will be pleased with us, and there is no success greater than that.

Please see also this related answer:

Bringing Barakah into Your Wealth and Life

As well as this general article related to dealing with suffering and trials:

Suffering and Divine Wisdom

And Allah knows best.
wassalam
Faraz

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Can We Break Family Ties With Siblings Who Treat Us Badly?

Answered by Ustadha Rukayat Yakub

Question: Asalaamu alaikum,

We come from a broken family that lacks agreement on anything.  Our brothers generally only notice the sisters when they want something from them.  But when the sisters need something – they make excuses to the sisters.  We try hard to be there in times of hardship and to defend their honor.  Yet, when we struggle they offer no compassion, don’t visit us, and don’t defend our honor.  When one of my sisters was divorced she and her ex-husband agreed she would get a financial settlement. He kept that agreement until he got his citizenship and got another spouse, then he discontinued the money he owed her.  Our brothers still treat him as a close friend, ignoring that this hurts our sister when they invite him and his wife to the house. Our brothers never check on us.  The only thing we can expect is a dinner invitation during Ramadan and Eid. I feel it is time to breakup these false ties of family that has no value or substance.  One of my brothers took an object and hurled it at my sister when in a fit of rage, to further explain my frustration and anger. What do you advise?

Answer: wa alaikum as salaam sister

I am sorry that you and your sisters are experiencing this, but my sincere advice is to not to break of family ties but to change the way you interact with your brothers.

It seems that you have been trying for many years to get your brothers to change and this has caused much resentment frustration and pain,  Cutting off ties will not heal this especially as in Islam the we are taught and encouraged to hold dear family ties.  Allah ta’ala is well aware of your situation and what you have done to make things work,  However you are responsible for your actions and the only person in this equation that you can change is yourself.

So if your brothers decide that they only want to get together at Eid, then visit them at this time.  Maintain good adab with them and interact with them solely for the pleasure of Allah ta’ala.   Do not expect them to reciprocate, they might, but having that expectation leads to disappointment and even more resentment when they do not.  If you are in their home and are being hurtful, let them know that you will not tolerate this behavior, but you are their sister and you love them and when they are willing to act in a way that isn’t physically or emotionally hurtful you will be more than happy to visit or have them visit you.  Then leave.  I am not advocating cutting off ties, but the deen came to protect life, and honor among other things, and your brothers have no right to physically hurt any of you.  And even if you have to leave abruptly due to bad behavior, you should still send cards, or call to keep the lines of communication open.

Also think of all the times our beloved Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him peace endured the hardship of others,  This doesn’t mean that you let them, or anyone walk all over you like a dormat, but it does mean that you interact with them in the best way that you can, and leave it at that.

Stop trying to make them ‘do you right thing’ they are adults  You can and should insist that they treat you properly, but the key is, you can’t make them do this.  And you aren’t responsible for the way they behave, they will have to account for this themselves,  You will however be asked about yourself and the responsibilities you have been entrusted with so focus on nurturing your mind, body, and soul, encourage your sisters to do the same, and make dua for your brothers.   Beyond that I would not worry about the injustices they have perpetuated against you, worry just makes things worse.  Allah ta’ala is Just.  So do not worry.  Focus on now.  Focus on your mission in life and working with people who want to work with you and having good manner with those who do not.

And Allah ta’ala knows best

May Allah ta’ala give you all healing and strength and rectify the behavior of your brothers and reconcile the hearts of all the members of your family.

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

The Twofold Virtue of Giving Charity to One’s Family

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: A brother has a substantial sum to give for zakat and would like to give it to his wife’s parents who are disabled and experiencing financial hardship. What is the ruling on giving zakat to one’s destitute in-laws?

Answer: Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

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

It is permitted and praiseworthy to give zakat to needy in-laws, as this entails two virtues: the virtue of charity (sadaqa) and the virtue of strengthening family relations (silat al-rahim), as indicated by the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him).

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Charity given to relatives has two-fold reward.” [Tabarani, al-Kabir, from Abu Umama (Allah be pleased with him)] He also said (peace and blessings be upon him) to the woman asking him about this that she would have two-fold rewards: “The reward of strengthening family ties, and the reward of charity.” [Tabarani, al-Awsat, from Ibn Mas`ud (Allah be pleased with him)]

Also, it is understood from the Prophetic sunna that one’s family has greater right over one’s charity than others do. In fact, some of the scholars even said that giving zakat to others when one has needy relatives could put the acceptability of one’s zakat in question. While this is not the strongest opinion on the matter, it does highlight the emphasis made in the Prophetic teachings on taking care of the financial needs of family and relatives. [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]

It is only impermissible to give zakat to one’s direct parents, spouse, and children. [ref: Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar; Mawsuli, al-Ikhtiyar Sharh al-Mukhtar]

And Allah alone gives success.

wassalam, Faraz Rabbani

Maintaining Family Ties & Obeying Parents

Answered by Ustadh Faraz A. Khan

Question: My sister was having relations with a non-Muslim boy. When told to stop because it was not allowed, she decided to leave Islam, go away from home with this boy, and have a restraining order placed against the parents. We’ve now discovered that she has been communicating with other relatives who have been supporting her and helping her out, even getting her married to this boy (who is of very bad character and degrades Islam) without the permission fo the parents. Now, my parents want nothing to do with them. They say they have forgiven much but this is the last straw. They have told us not to have any contact them. What should I do? Is this breaking kinship ties?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

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

May Allah give you strength in this trial and reward you abundantly.

Prioritizing Your Concerns

I think your primary concern should be maintaining a strong relationship with your sister. The most important thing in all of this is her returning to Islam. You should keep in touch with her and uphold good character. One particular trait that you should display to your sister is gentleness [rifq]. Our Beloved Messenger [peace and blessings be upon him] said, “Verily Allah is Gentle and loves gentleness in all matters” [Bukhari, Muslim], as well as “Gentleness is not found in something except that it adorns it, and is not removed from something except that it ruins it” [Muslim].

Be her friend, and let her see the beauty of our faith. This could be a long-term effort, but persevere and be patient. Our Beloved Messenger [peace and blessings be upon him] waited patiently for many disbelievers of Mecca before their entrance into Islam, all the while praying for them and displaying his superb character despite their animosity towards him and the religion. That is the prophetic sunna that we have been commanded to emulate. Your sister is the primary kinship bond that you should be concerned about.

With respect to your mother’s relatives, it seems like any attempt by you to maintain those ties will only lead to more familial tension and discord [fitna]. Two of the most important principles in Islamic law are “The lesser of two harms is to be chosen” and “Warding off harm takes precedence over acquiring benefit.” [Majalla al-Ahkam al-Adliyya; Articles 29, 30]

While normally you are required to maintain kinship ties with all your relatives, it would be better in your case to avoid contact with your mother’s relatives due to the expected harmful consequences entailed therein, namely, the spread of that tension to within your immediate family, between yourself and your parents. Leave that matter to them, and pray that Allah Most High heals their past wounds and reunites their hearts for His sake.

Patience and Trust

Allah Most High states in the Qur’an, “And be patient, and your patience is not except through Allah” [Nahl:127]. The trial you describe is a true test of patience, and the only way to actualize this virtue is through Allah alone, for He is the Provider of all virtues. Seek His aid in being patient and realize that, as our Prophet taught us, “No one has been given a better and more expansive gift than patience” [Bukhari, Muslim].

Place your complete trust in Him, and know that He is All-Wise and the Best of planners. “And trust in the Living, Who dies not” [Furqan:58]. As Imam Biqa’i explains in his masterful tafsir: “Trust” means “show Allah your utter incapacity and weakness, submit wholeheartedly to His decree, and rely on Him in all your affairs” [Nazm al-Durar].

We cannot handle our trials alone; we are weak and incapable. Our only recourse is to submit and consign our affairs over to Allah Most High. We take the means with full effort and diligence to fulfill our duties and persevere in our trials, yet our reliance all throughout is in Allah alone. As one of the early Imams states, “Whoever relies on Allah becomes free of need, while whoever does not rely on Him will be exhausted.”

And Allah alone gives success.

wassalam

Faraz A. Khan

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Creating Ramadan Traditions

When I reflect on my childhood memories of celebrating the blessed month of Ramadan while growing up in Southern California in the 1980’s, different images flash through my mind…

Ammi playing the Holy Qur’an on the house intercom system at sahoor time. Scrambled eggs and shaami kabaabs frying before the sun came up. Abbu sitting in the upstairs hallway outside his bedroom, reciting from the Book of Allah before he left for office. Coming home tired from school only to be set to work cutting up apples and oranges and bananas for the evening fruit salad, then helping my mother fry egg rolls and grape leaves. The night before Eid prayers the girls excitedly laying out their glass bangles and freshly ironed clothes and trying to sleep without spoiling the drying henna on their hands. The long distance calls from relatives overseas who shouted to be heard, wishing us well and sending us prayers for health and happiness. We crowded around the phone, grabbing it from one another, grinning and yelling back in order to make sure they too heard how much we loved and missed them.

There were annual traditions that I fondly remember as well, including the potluck iftar parties and masjid-sponsored Eid festivals. Who can forget the one auntie who always hosted the Jumat-al-Wida (farewell Friday of Ramadan) iftar in her spacious home? The children could always be found congregating around the cold-coffee urns set up in her backyard, eagerly vying with one another to be the first to taste the whipped cream-filled-dates set out on silver trays. Another auntie-and-uncle couple opened their home every Eid-ul-Fitr for a lavish breakfast buffet which was highly anticipated the moment Eid prayers were completed at the local fairgrounds a few minutes away.

Now that I am living in Northern California in a community made up primarily of converts to Islam, I am rediscovering the power of having traditions which children can look forward to and depend upon year after year. I have been fortunate in that I have been able to benefit from the creativity in my new friends who are eager to create Ramadan traditions that will attract and hold their children (who they fear may be lured by the competing sparkle and brilliance of Christmas festivities they witness in their own non-Muslim family members’ homes).

What touched me most when I sat with my girlfriends in the early days of motherhood as we brainstormed ideas for creating memorable Ramadan traditions was the sincerity and desire to ensure a balance between the material and the spiritual. These thoughtful women were extremely wary of falling prey to Western commercialism where Ramadan might inadvertently become yet another consumer month about gifts and cash and parties in the kids’ eyes; the culture of “gimme gimme gimme” was one everyone avidly wanted to avoid.

With that being said, I wanted to share some of the traditions we have been practicing in our own home with our three boys for the past ten years now. I asked my sons to list some of their favorite memories and traditions surrounding Ramadan, and these are the ones they rattled off without a moment’s hesitation.

 

1.) Moon-sighting

moon_over_san_francisco1Back in the year 2000, four families gathered at a scenic vista point in the Berkeley Hills to try and search for the new moon signifying the beginning of Ramadan. When we arrived, we were pleasantly surprised to find that two other Muslim families had also come up with the same idea and were already comfortably settled on the platform with binoculars and thermoses of hot chocolate by their sides. We introduced ourselves and scanned the skies together for the elusive crescent to appear over the majestic San Francisco skyline. As the years went by and word spread over time about this great location, more and more families have joined us. Our last moon-sighting trip had over 70 people (including a news reporter and photographer) gathered together with baked goodies to share and cups of hot chai to pass around. The children run amongst the adults with flashlights and sparklers in hand before being called over to join the jama’ah for group prayer under the stars. The anticipation builds from the moment we sit in our family van, blasting Yusuf Islam’s upbeat “Ramadan Moon” on the entire trip up through the twisting and turning roads in the mountains. Whether we sight the moon that night or not, there is excitement in the air and it is contagious; there’s just something about community that gets your “battery” charged to face a month of fasting together.

2.) Ramadan Calendar

Khadija O’Connell is an extremely talented lady whom many affectionately refer to as “the Muslim Martha Stewart”. Everything she touches seems to blossom simply by her presence. She has brought elegance and sophistication to the most mundane of things, and the pride she puts in her work is obvious. Whether she’s teaching a sewing class to a group of eight-year-old boys or organizing her highly acclaimed “Creativity and the Spiritual Path Conferences”, her attention to detail and aesthetics is of the highest caliber. I happen to know that her personal motto in life is based on the words of Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi,“Let the beauty you love be what you do,” and I often find myself reflecting on the hadith, “Verily, Allah is Beautiful and He loves beauty,” whenever I witness anything she has had a hand in. If readers want to see for themselves, they need only visit her website www.barakahlife.com to appreciate what I’m talking about.

Nearly ten years ago, Khadija came up with an idea for her family which other people immediately wanted to replicate in their own homes. Using rich textiles with vibrant colors, she sewed a Ramadan Calendar, very similar to a Christmas advent calendar. She created 30 pockets with an attractive star button stitched onto each one. Felt was cut out into the shape of 30 crescent moons and stored in an organza drawstring pouch. A section of velvet was left at the top of the calendar so that a family could have their children’s names or a “Ramadan Mubarak” message embroidered there for posterity. We hang this gorgeous calendar in our dining nook and at every iftar, after eating their dates, the kids reach into the organza pouch and pull out a felt moon to slip onto the star button of the day. Then they dig into the pocket and pull out their treat for the evening. The treat can be anything from chocolates to stickers to collectible toys to race cars. We also tuck in a paper with one of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala)’s Names on it so that by the end of the month the kids can have learned at least a third of Allah’s Most Beautiful Names. Some families opt to put in a simple hadith every evening. The point is to use your own imagination and have fun while giving the kids a means to see how quickly the month is passing by. Many of us initially tried to sew these calendars on our own, but fortunately for everyone else who might be interested in taking on this tradition for their own young ones, Khadija now markets these special creations to great demand on her website.

3.) Decorating the House

It doesn’t matter that Ramadan will be arriving near the end of summer this year; you can be sure that our house will still be strung up with fairy lights (what some refer to as “Christmas lights”), insha’Allah. I bought some darling garden lanterns during the end-of-spring-season sales last year, so now we have those gold and maroon paper lanterns to string up around the living room as well. The boys are more than willing to help their father with the task of illuminating the Mukhtar home; it has become a family project where the mother directs and the men obey…and everyone enjoys the experience immensely.

Another friend decorates her house with “the Ramadan chain of kindness”. Everyone in her family goes out of their way to acknowledge a simple (or significant) deed of kindness they witness any family member performing by recording it on a strip of construction paper. They make a point of not including the name of the do-gooder in order to discourage pride and encourage humility for the sake of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala). They then curl these strips into rings and connect them to one another. When we were invited to her home for iftar one evening, we noticed this paper chain of links winding its way around the living room; each strip had a comment written on it like “helped change a diaper”, “took out the garbage”, “washed the salad”, “brought mommy water”. They also placed a homemade sign in their public street-facing window which read “So-and-So Family wishes you all a Happy Ramadan!”

4.) Baking Cookies for the Neighbors

It started out as a neighborhood outreach plan, but over the years has become something
much bigger than we ever imagined, alhamdulillah.

Soon after the tragic events of 9/11, we baked some yummy cookies at home, packaged them in plastic boxes with a “FastBreak” candy bar (get the pun?), and delivered them to our neighbors’ mailboxes along with a note explaining Ramadan and our ummah’s wish for world peace and joy in 2001. It has now become a community event with friends gathering at each other’s houses and mosques to package star and crescent shaped cookies (sprinkled with green sugar) in gold boxes with da’awah messages typed on sparkly vellum paper and shimmering organza ribbons to tie everything together. We have managed to work with the same popular local bakery for the past five years now, and the kids get a great kick out of running around the neighborhood delivering the treats. My own sons once reflected how it was the completely opposite experience of trick-or-treating — we’re here to give you a treat, not demand one for ourselves, and no one is out to “scare” or “trick” anyone. It’s a celebration of lightness, not darkness!

5.) Ramadan Food Drive

Our county’s Food Bank has come to really appreciate the month of Ramadan. They tell us their shelves are loaded during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, but they have a difficult time keeping up with the needs of the poor during the rest of the ten months of the year. Since Ramadan follows the Islamic lunar calendar, it moves throughout the year and — thanks to the generosity of local Muslims — they can now anticipate full shelves once again in the month of August, insha’Allah. Our Islamic Center has found, however, that if you ask people to donate groceries or bring in necessary items on their own, good intentions often are not followed through upon with solid actions; therefore, we have taken it upon ourselves to facilitate our members’ sincerity by making it easy for them to feed the hungry.

foodbank1

Our children have a new Ramadan tradition now which requires them to gather at
the Islamic Center to bag basic pantry staples — cereal, pasta, juice, canned fruits and
vegetables — in paper sacks. It takes quite a bit of time and it is hard work, but the
children enjoy it nevertheless. These bags of groceries are then sold at Friday prayers for
$5 each. People purchase the bags in the names of their children or spouses or families
and then these sacks are placed in the Food Bank barrels which are provided by the Food
Bank with their official logo. At the end of the month, a large truck arrives from the Food Bank and the men and children from our community help load the month’s donations. There is often a news crew covering the event as well which makes for some positive media in these times when Muslims so desperately need it.

An easier way to give charity during this sacred month, however, is to have your kids decorate a glass mason jar and label it “Sadaqa Jar”. They put in their own money throughout the month and on Eid morning they donate the contents to the local masjid. I have my kids say their own special, private duas while they give charity so that they can continue to be aware of their complete reliance on Allah’s Generosity…especially when they are in a position of giving to those less fortunate. May they always have the means and the desire to help others, insha’Allah.

6.) Waking Up On Eid Morning

At some point during the night before Eid prayers, my husband and I sneak in the helium tank we rented from the local party supply store a day earlier. While the kids are sleeping, we inflate as many gold and silver balloons as we can and then attach long dangling glittery ribbons to them. We cram as many of these balloons as possible in the children’s bedroom so that, when they wake up for Fajr prayer, they are greeted with a vision of sparkle and magic. We also leave a trail of balloons leading out of their room down the stairs to the pile of gifts stacked near the dining room table. I know that after so many years the kids are on to our routine, but they humor their parents anyway by whooping it up and grabbing the balloons the moment they awaken. Believe me when I tell you that this is a tradition that gives as much to the parents as it does to the children.

balloonsky

Another friend has me baby-sit for one Ramadan afternoon so that she can go shopping in secret for her children’s Eid baskets. She exerts quite a bit of effort in elaborately decorating large wicker baskets with ribbon and paper. Then she thoughtfully chooses items that she knows her two children will treasure — a set of new oil paints for her artistic son, an embroidery kit for her creative daughter, books by their favorite authors, new hijabs and kufis and socks, high quality prayer beads, delicious chocolates — everything is carefully arranged on a mound of tissue paper. The children wake up on Eid morning and find the baskets of goodies — one pink, one blue — waiting for them at the foot of their beds.

The kids’ reward for fasting the month of Ramadan is obviously with Allah (subhana wa ta’ala), but we parents want to show our pride and pleasure in them as well, and these are such easy ways to do it. The looks of pure joy and delight on the children’s faces makes
the parents’ late night effort well-worth it!

A respected scholar once told us that he knows of people who have held onto their Islam simply because they remember experiencing wonderful, memorable Eids with their families. There really is something magnetic in the pull that Ramadan has on us. We love to telephone each other late at night and excitedly announce, “Ramadan Kareem! Yes, it’s confirmed! So-and-So sighted the moon!” We enjoy discussing our preparations for the upcoming month of fasting with one another. We desire to be part of the community that is persevering through days of hunger and nights of worship together. We feel connected to Muslims everywhere — whether they are students in school, co-workers at the office, or taxi drivers who are taking us to our destinations — through these shared daily experiences of knowing what it means to deprive the body and feed the soul.

Children especially thrive off of the routine and rhythm we offer them. I became aware of this one year when I thought I had misplaced our treasured Ramadan calendar. I reassured my boys that I would look for it later but that we would just have to “make do” for the first iftar without the calendar hanging in our dining nook as in years past; I would still be sure to provide the iftar treat that would otherwise have been discovered in the calendar. They put on cheerful faces and agreeable attitudes, reassuring me that all was well, but as he was going to his room, my eldest betrayed the feelings of his brothers by sighing, “I don’t know why, but it just doesn’t feel like Ramadan for some reason this year.” Their sense of disappointment nagged at me, so I put off my procrastinating and, once they were in bed, went searching and uncovered the calendar at the bottom of my linen cabinet. When I casually called up to them, “By the way, I did find our Ramadan calendar after all!”, I was surprised by the cheers of relief that came from their bedrooms. I don’t think any of us realized how much this tradition meant to our family until we were faced with the threat of losing it.

Now that the boys are getting older, our emphasis with them is more on the spiritual benefits of Ramadan and less on the “Santa Claus is coming to Ramadan” attitude. We encourage one another to focus on our love for our Lord and our desire to be close to Him. This month is still — as always — about being good neighbors and good Muslims, but we hope our behavior isn’t anything “new” in the eyes of our Creator and that we can continue to benefit from any little that we accomplish this month throughout the rest of the year until the next blessed Ramadan arrives…if Allah allows us to live that long, insha’Allah.

May Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) reward all parents who work so diligently at teaching their children about their responsibilities to Allah and His Prophet (salallaahu alaihi wasallam). May our kids all grow up with a deep and abiding love for their deen and its duties in their hearts. And may Allah bestow His Mercy and Generosity on us all this blessed Ramadan and make it the best ever so far. Aameen. Readers are sincerely requested to please keep the writer of this article in their prayers as well. JazakAllahu khayr.

COPYRIGHT HINA KHAN-MUKHTAR 2010. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Younger Sister Woes: Dealing With Wisdom & Leading By Example

Answered by Sidi Abdullah Anik Misra

Question: My younger sister has been seeing a boy, who is related to the family, behind our backs. She also has many male-friends and communicates with them on a flirtatious manner. She has been caught red-handed several times. My entire family have denounced this completely telling her such practices are impermissible and that she should wait until it is time for her to get married. My elderly father is completely distraught; everything she says is a complete lie.  She feels the need to latch onto boys because of the problems at home. I’m incredibly stressed out and no one else in my family steps up.  I truly feel I’m losing hope, I’m praying constantly to Allah to help but it just keeps getting worse. Please advise.

Answer: Wa alaikum salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray all is well.  Shaykh Faraz has asked me to answer this as he is currently travelling and unable to respond.

Firstly, I commend you for your concern. However, you should not get depressed or burdened due to the choices and actions of another, independent adult. You can advise, but whether a person follows or not is out of your hands, and up to Allah Most High.

Secondly, you have to understand your sister, not cynically, but empathetically. As a teenager with emotions and needs, she knows what’s wrong from right, so pushing her won’t help- she has to be inspired to change.   I’ll give a list of quick advices insha Allah:

1. Don’t let your father take this burden on. If he can’t do anything, there’s no sense worrying him. Don’t mention it to him; cover your sister’s faults from him. Comfort him in other ways.
2. Your sister is leaning on others for self-validation and support; let her lean on you instead. Take her out, buy her gifts, write her notes, confide in her, ask her advice, and spend time with her without lecturing her or mentioning this; when trust builds, she may confide in you for advice.
3. If your sister has fallen into a relationship and is in the world of work, it’s a sign that its time to get married. Don’t belittle her feelings. Suggest marriage tactfully when the mood is good. If the guy is good – HELP her make it happen. Sisters since time immemorial have bonded over discussing their marriage ideals – by filling her heart with dreams of marital bliss, she is one step further from sin.
4. If she is hiding her sins, don’t spy on her or try to “catch her”. Doing so is unlawful and sinful. Don’t expose her sins without need to your family. Don’t suspect her unnecessarily. Let her go about life normally- you are not a guardian to her. Give her space to go through this phase and return for herself . Warnings have proven ineffective, so simply pray for her and emphasize the good she does.
5. Beautify your inner-self and increase your love for Allah Most High through Islamic spirituality. The most effective message is a beautiful example.  When people notice how fulfilling a relationship with Allah actually is, they willingly break their negative relationships to attain this ultimate fulfillment.

May Allah Most High bring all of us back to Him in this life, before He brings us all back to Him for the eternal life that follows.

Wasalam,
Abdullah Anik Misra

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Sidi Abdullah Misra was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. He converted to Islam in 2001 and completed a degree in Business Administration. In 2005, he left Canada to pursue Islamic studies. He now lives in Amman, Jordan with his wife and two daughters, where he studies various Islamic sciences and concurrently serves as the Study Abroad Director at the Qasid Institute.