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My Sisters-In-Law Belittle Us and Their Parents. Do I Need to Maintain Ties With Them?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: How do I deal with my sisters-in-law who boldly disrespect their parents and their brother? They often criticize, correct & belittle their parents, their brother, me and my small children.

Am I obligated to keep ties with them and if so, to what extent?

It has started to interfere in our relationship with my husband’s parents because they live there.

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. Dear sister, may Allah lift this tribulation from you. Being tested by family members is very heartbreaking. Trust that Allah hears your dua.

Family ties

‘Abdullah bin Amr narrated that the Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace) said: “Merely maintaining the ties of kinship is not adequate. But connecting the ties of kinship is when ties to the womb are severed, and he connects it.” [Tirmidhi]

As painful as this might be for you to hear, yes, you are still obligated to maintain ties with them.

Solutions

1) Please perform the Prayer of Need and beg Allah to lift this tribulation from you.
2) Keep contact with your sisters-in-law to a minimum. For example, visit them during the two Eids and break your fast with them at least once in Ramadan.
3) Send them gifts with the intention of pleasing Allah. Try your best not to expect acknowledgement or gratitude from them.
4) Instead of visiting your family’s home, arrange to have a meal with your parents at a local cafe or restaurant, or invite them over to your home. If your parents ask why, explain that you’d like a more pleasant visit.

Children

Please take the time to comfort and guide your children. It is so sad that they have become afraid of their critical aunties. May Allah heal this rift, and fill all of your hearts with sincere love and concern, for His sake.

If your children ask why their aunties are behaving this way, tell them what Ustadh Usama Canon explained: “Hurt people, hurt people.”

Please use this hardship as a learning opportunity. Explain to your children that although what their aunties is doing is wrong, they are still family, and the Prophetic response is to maintain family ties. That being said, emphasise that their safety and dignity is important, and teach them how to stay safe. Help them to be assertive, while remaining respectful.

If they are old enough, role play what they can say to their aunties, and what they can do, the next time they are belittled. If they are still too young, then please advocate for them, and make it clear to your sisters-in-law that it is unacceptable for them to treat your children like that. If they resist, then minimise your children’s exposure to them.

Explain that there is an adab to giving advice to others, and share stories of how kind and gentle the Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace) was when he gave counsel to others.

Children who are exposed to verbal and emotional abuse from their family members begin to expect it from others outside their family. This makes them vulnerable to future abuse from other people. Please keep this in mind, and watch out for red flags as they face challenges in school and beyond.

Please refer to the following links:

A Reader on Family Ties
The Criteria of Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil

Wassalam,
Raidah

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Photo: Kham Tran

How Should I Deal With My Disrespectful Younger Sister?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: I am fifteen. I have a younger sister aged ten. My sister is very disrespectful to me, and more importantly, very disrespectful and rude to my parents. How should I go about dealing with her? I am finding it very difficult to remain patient with her.

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for wishing to mend family ties. This is a tremendously important aspect of our religion.

Family ties

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (upon him be blessings and peace) said, “Allah created all the creatures and when He finished the task of His creation, Ar-Rahm (ties of relationship) said: ‘(O Allah) at this place I seek refuge with You against severing my ties.’ Allah said: ‘That I treat with kindness those who treat you with kindness and sever ties with those who sever ties with you.’ It said: ‘I am satisfied.’ Allah said: ‘Then this is yours”. Then Messenger of Allah (upon him be blessings and peace) said, “Recite this Ayah if you like: ‘Would you then, if you were given the authority, do mischief in the land, and sever your ties of kinship? Such are they whom Allah has cursed, so that He has made them deaf and blinded their sight”. (47:22,23). [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Remember this hadith when you begin to feel impatient with your sister. As upset as you may be with her, strive to uphold good character, and make sincere dua for her.

Sister

Do you know why your sister may be acting in this way? The youngest sibling often feels neglected, intentionally or unintentionally. Reflect on what you may have done to contribute to this trial. She is old enough to discern when her company is unwanted.

As difficult as she might be right now, put yourself in her shoes to help you understand why she is behaving this way. Think of her as being the best test of your good character. Sometimes, the ones who are hardest to love are in greatest need of it. She may even teach you something about yourself.

Advice

It sounds like giving her direct advice is not working. Try a different strategy. Ensure that you and your parents are enforcing consistent boundaries. In addition to that, all three of you must do your best to set a good example to her.

Love language

What is your sister’s love language? Please refer to this website to check. Ensure that her ‘love tank’ is being filled by you and your parents, in a way that resonates best with her. It could be receiving gifts, spending quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, or physical touch.

Education

I strongly encourage you and your parents to complete this online course Islamic Parenting: Raising Upright Children. This course will equip all of you with the tools you need to nurture your sister, inshaAllah.

Hope and Patience

“And obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not dispute (with one another) lest you lose courage and your strength depart, and be patient. Surely, Allah is with those who are As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.).” [Qur’an, 8:46]

Have hope in Allah’s ability to change hearts, even that of your sister’s. Nothing is impossible for Allah. InshaAllah in the near future, your sister will be loving and respectful to your parents and you, and perhaps even a good friend to you.

Please refer to the following links:

Fostering Love and Sympathy Between Siblings – Ustadha Shireen Ahmed
A Reader on Patience and Reliance on Allah

Wassalam,
Raidah

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Photo: Johanan Ottensooser

How Do I Mend Ties With My Estranged Brother and His Family?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: I live abroad and I am unable to visit my parents regularly. I feel that they are being neglected by my other siblings who live in the same city. My sister-in-law has completely cut herself off from my parents. I have tried to speak to my brother about this, so she has cut me off as well. Am I under obligation to keep ties with her?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. Please forgive me for this delay. May Allah make a way out for you during this difficult time.

Dua

Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah (upon him be blessings and peace) said: “There is not a man who calls upon Allah with a supplication, except that he is answered. Either it shall be granted to him in the world, or reserved for him in the Hereafter, or, his sins shall be expiated for it according to the extent that he supplicated – as long as he does not supplicate for some sin, or for the severing of the ties of kinship, and he does not become hasty.” They said: “O Messenger of Allah, and how would he be hasty?” He (upon him be blessings and peace) said: “He says: ‘I called upon my Lord, but He did not answer me.’” [Tirmidhi]

Please have hope in the power of dua. Although it looks like things are not changing, trust that Allah will answer your dua in the best way possible.

Siblings

It must be upsetting for you to see that your siblings live so close to your parents, yet do not visit as often as you would. Have you had an honest conversation with them? Share your concerns with them as calmly as you can.

Remember that you are unable to control their actions. All you can do is express your concerns, suggest solutions, and leave the outcome to Allah. They, like everyone else, will answer to Allah, and you are not held responsible for their actions. Please perform the Prayer of Need and beg Allah to set things right in your family.

Mending ties

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Merely maintaining the ties of kinship is not adequate. But connecting the ties of kinship is when his ties to the womb are severed and he connects it.” [Tirmidhi]

In normal circumstances, it is impermissible to sever family ties. This applies even to difficult family members. As hard as it must be for you right now, trust that Allah is the Turner of Hearts, and that nothing is impossible with His help. You do your part by reaching out to your sister-in-law in a way which you can handle. You do not need to sit down and chat with her. This may not happen for a while. But you can send gifts.

I pray that you see the fruits of your effort in this life. Rest assured that nothing is lost with Allah, and that inshaAllah, even if you don’t see a pleasing outcome in this life, you will in the next.

Give gifts

Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “Give gifts and you will love one another.” [Al-Adab Al-Mufrad]

If you are afraid to call your sister-in-law, then post her gifts instead. Include a thoughtful note if you feel that will help. As you post her gifts, make your highest intention that of pleasing Allah. Ask Him to make this gift a means of mending ties with her.

Patience

“And obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not dispute and [thus] lose courage and [then] your strength would depart; and be patient. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” [Qur’an, 8:46]

Above all, have patience. Think of the trial of Nabi Yusuf (upon him be peace) and how he suffered at the hands of his own brothers. He remained patient, as did his father, Nabi Yaqub (upon him be peace), and Allah rewarded them for it. Read Surah Yusuf as a means of reminding yourself, and as a way to lift the sadness from your heart.

Trials with family are indeed difficult to bear. I pray that Allah eases your sorrow, and draws you closer to Him through your tribulation.

Please refer to the following links:

A Reader on Patience and Reliance on Allah
How Should I Uphold My Family Ties?

Wassalam,
Raidah

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Should I Return a Christmas Gift?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam alaikum,

I have recieved at work, as a christmas gift, a 10£ gift voucher.

Can I accept it?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that this message finds you well, insha’Allah.

There is no harm in accepting such a gift as it is merely a social custom and not a specifically religious action.

Please see: Giving & Recieving Christmas Gifts

And Allah alone knows best.

wassalam,
Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Can I Go to My Non-Muslim Sister’s Birthday?

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: Assalam alaykum,

My non-Muslim blood sister has invited me to her birthday. Is it allowed for me to go?

Answer: Walaikum assalam,

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

Birthdays are social—not specifically religious—customs. As such, it is permitted to participate in them, if they are free of fundamentally impermissible activities.

Given that it is your sister, you should also be intended upholding family ties (silat al-rahim), which is one of the great virtues a believer has been commanded to uphold, by Allah and the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him).

Please see also: Fasting on One’s Birthday and: Innovation (Bid`a) and Celebrating the Prophet’s Birthday (Mawlid) and: Should Converts Break Ties With Non-Muslim Family Members? and: A Reader on Anger Management and Good Character

And Allah is the giver of success and facilitation.

wassalam,

Faraz Rabbani

How Should I Uphold My Family Ties?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam ‘aleykum.

How should I uphold my family ties? Who does it apply to?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that this message finds you well, insha’Allah.

Keeping up your warm family ties (silat al-rahim) is necessary because of the undue harm and hurt caused otherwise.

Allah Most High says, “Beware of severing the ties of kinship: God is always watching over you.” [4.1] And He Most High says, “Worship God; join nothing with Him. Be good to your parents, to relatives…” [4.36]

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, ‘Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him maintain the ties of kinship.’ [Bukhari]

The duty to uphold your family ties remains even in the case that they cut ties with you. The Prophet of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) also said, “A person who maintains ties of kinship is not someone who only does so with those who maintain ties with him. A person who maintains ties of kinship is someone who restores them when they have been cut off.” [Bukhari]

Who Does it Apply to?

Keeping up your ties applies primarily to your immediate kin (mahrams) [= those you cannot marry], and by extension, to all relatives related by blood.

However, the level of keeping ties with each differs. The parent-child relationship is of greater consequence than the aunt-nephew relationship, and both of those are greater than the relationship between cousins, for example.

As for those you are related to, yet whose irregular interaction with suffices, and both parties aren’t hurt by that, you can deal with them on such a basis and talk to them when necessary, as long as you do not cut ties with them.

How Do you Maintain Ties?

The obligation is minimally fulfilled by saying the salam to them, and can also be reasonably fulfilled by giving gifts, visiting and generally being of service to them when needed.

[`Ala’ al-Din `Abidin, al-Hadiyya al-`Ala’iyya; Nahlawi, al-Durar al-Mubaha fi al-Hazr wa al-Ibaha]

And Allah alone knows best.

Wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Is Christmas Haram? Being Muslim in a Non-Muslim Family

Every year, the Is Christmas haram? debates happen full force. Whether you’re a convert to Islam or not, we hope you find the following resources helpful.

Is Christmas Haram? What about Thanksgiving and Other Festivals?

Friendship, Kinship and Family ties

Beliefs & Customs

Death and the Afterlife

How Can I Help Non-Practising Family and Friends?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Assalamu alaykum,

I have friends who I’ve known for almost a decade, who don’t practice unfortunately. I try my best to drag them to Islamic events, talk to them about Islam. This is the same case with my siblings.I try my hardest, but there’s only so much I can do.

What should I do in this situation? Especially when I feel like I’m losing my own imaan by being around people who don’t care about their deen as much.

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well.

Priorities

“Or think you that you will enter Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They were afflicted with severe poverty and ailments and were so shaken that even the Messenger and those who believed along with him said, “When (will come) the Help of Allah?” Yes! Certainly, the Help of Allah is near!” [Qur’an, 2:214]

The nature of this dunya is one of trials, and we are often tested by those whom we are nearest to. InshaAllah, successfully navigating this difficulty will help you attain closeness to Allah.

Your priority is learning your fardhul ‘ain (personally obligatory knowledge), in order to ensure that your acts of worship are sound and valid. Lectures and so on move the heart, and do serve a purpose, but it is safest for you to learn your fiqh and aqidah from teachers who are connected to the Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace). Seekers Guidance offers courses in Hanafi and Shafi’i Fiqh as well as Aqidah. I strongly recommend that you pick a fiqh class which is closely aligned to what you are already practicing. If your family is from the subcontinent, then Hanafi fiqh would be best. Study Aqidah as well, to solidify your belief.

Prayer

Please strive to pray all of your five daily prayers. Guarding our prayers is of the utmost importance. Do not let them go because all the prayers that we miss must be paid back before we meet Allah. There is something deeply transformative about guarding our prayers no matter how unmotivated we may feel – there is a medicine in salaat which we cannot find in any lecture.

Convincing others

It sounds like you are very tired of trying to persuade others in your family and circle of friends. My advice is for you to stop trying. Focus on improving your own worship. Be the example you want others to follow. Your adult friends and siblings are accountable for their own actions, as you are accountable for yours. If they wish to spend their time pursuing other things, then that is up to them. We cannot change people unless they want to change.

Take comfort in knowing that guidance is ultimately from Allah. The most non-practising sibling/friend you have could be inspired by Allah one night to make his/her taubah, and return wholeheartedly to Him. No amount of haranguing from you could have the same effect. On the contrary, you could drive him/her futher away from the deen, no matter how praiseworthy your intentions.

Gently ask your mother to make dua for her wayward children, instead of relying entirely on you to guide them back. Their state with Allah is not your burden. Your state with Allah is your responsibility. It is natural to be concerned about our family members, but not to the point where you tire yourself out and miss your own prayers.

Good company

“The example of a good companion and a bad companion is like that of the seller of musk, and the one who blows the blacksmith’s bellows. So as for the seller of musk then either he will grant you some, or you buy some from him, or at least you enjoy a pleasant smell from him. As for the one who blows the blacksmith’s bellows then either he will burn your clothes or you will get an offensive smell from him.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

It is the nature of humans to seek companionship, so choose your companions wisely. Make new friends who inspire you and remind you of Allah and His Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).

Tahajjud

Seek comfort in the last hour of the night, before the entry of Fajr. Make dua, and stand up for tahajjud prayer. Pour out your concerns to Him, the All Powerful and Most Merciful. You were created for Allah alone, and only He can truly soothe your pain. No matter what your mind may tell you, your heartache and exhaustion will not be relieved when your friends and family start practising the deen. That is a situation you cannot fix by your own hands.

Reconnecting to Allah and submitting to the wisdom of His Decree, however, will soothe your heart, inshaAllah. Part of His Wisdom is the current state your family and friends are in. The wheel is always turning, as Shaykh Nuh Keller has said. None of us know the states we will be in when we meet Allah, but we can prepare by doing our best and by making plentiful dua for a good ending.

I pray that Allah eases your heartache, makes you steadfast on prayer, and guides your loved ones back to Him, when the time is right.

Please refer to the following links:

A reader on missed prayers
Is it disbelief to miss prayers and pray them late?
How Can I Give Islamic Advice to My Family When They Know About My Sinful Past?

Raidah Shah Idil

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

What is the Minimum Amount of Relationship I Have to Keep with a Relative I Hate?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil
Question: I have a cousin who has always provoked negative feelings in me whenever I found myself around her. The breaking point for me was when she questioned me loudly and openly on a personal matter in a room full of people. My natural response is to cut off all ties with her. How much of a relationship must I maintain with her since she is my blood relative? I only want to do the minimum.
Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray this finds you well. I am very sorry to hear about the ill-treatment you have received over the years. What your cousin has and continues to do is unjust and unislamic. Cutting off ties with her, however, is not the way of our deen.
Maintaining family ties
‘A’isha reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: “The tie of kinship is suspended to the Throne and says: He who unites me Allah would unite him and he who severed me Allah would sever him.” [Bukhari]
No matter how bad your cousin makes you feel, she is still bound to you by blood. Your responsibility is to look after yourself, while maintaining the bare minimum of contact with her. I would suggest visiting during Ramadan and the two Eids, at the very least. Remember to behave cordially with her. You are responsible for your actions, not hers. Tie your compassion towards her with the highest intention of pleasing Allah, and inshaAllah this struggle will be means of elevating your rank in Jannah.
Assertiveness
The Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace) said: “A believer does not allow himself to be stung twice from one (and the same) hole.” [Bukhari]
Islam does not call you to be a doormat. Your dignity as a believer is sacred. Knowing your cousin’s attitude towards you, please practise assertiveness training so you will be better able to stand your ground with her, if/when the need arises. See a counsellor, life coach, or therapist for support. Practise role-playing scenarios with trusted family and friends, so that when the time comes, you will be able to politely and firmly draw boundaries. She will probably be very shocked when you do stand up for yourself for the first time, and the thought of doing so may make you feel nervous. However, the solution to this problem is not avoidance. The solution is upholding family ties, while calling her out on any bad behaviour. Do so with tact and wisdom, of course, such as through speaking to her in private and being frank and non-accusatory e.g. “When you said x, I felt x. I would appreciate it if you would stop. Thank you.”
Perspective
Ustadh Usama Canon said, “Hurt people, hurt people.” Your cousin is most likely hurting in some way, and it is likely that she herself has been bullied. As hard as it might be right now, make dua for her well-being, forgiveness, and ask Allah to remove the hatred and resentment from your heart. Polish your heart with remembrance of Allah. Remove those negative traits, and ask Allah to transform your heart into fertile ground for goodness and compassion. Think of our Beloved Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace), who endured unimaginably unjust treatment – despite all of that, he remained compassionate.
I pray that Allah Most High softens her heart as well as yours, and heals your relationship with your cousin.
Please refer to the following links:
Can We Break Family Ties With Siblings Who Treat Us Badly?
Reader on maintaining family ties
Raidah Shah Idil
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

What is the Best Approach to Take in Convert Marriage Issues?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil
Question: Assalaamu alaikum.
I converted to Islam over ten years ago. Since I am Indian, there was a lot of backlash and cultural drama within my family. I found a muslim boy who wants to marry me. My family disapproves completely.I am willing to accept my own suffering over my family’s but I hate that this brother must be hurt in the process. I don’t want to break up my family but I don’t want to forgo half my deen because of their prejudice. Please offer your guidance.

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray this finds you in the best of health and states. I am very sorry to hear about the difficulty you are facing. Trials of the heart are often deeply trying, but they are also a swift means to Allah.
Priorities
Your top priority is always the pleasure of Allah. The pleasure of creation, even our parents, is secondary. In particular, the life which your father wants you to lead is not pleasing to Allah Most High.
Parental guilt
Just as some children use tantrums to get what they want from their parents, some parents use guilt-tripping tactics to get what they want from their children.
Unless Allah wills, your father will not approve of your Islam. Flowing from that, he will not approve of you marrying a Muslim man, and raising Muslim children. You are already very attached to this young man. Even if you do end this relationship, what’s the chance that your father will approve of the next Muslim man you wish to marry? It is likely that he will also reject your next Muslim suitor.
It is unrealistic for you to choose celibacy your entire life, just to keep your father content. This stance could breed resentment in you, especially once he passes away, and you find yourself living a life you are unhappy with. It is healthy and normal to want to get married.
Stay far away from sin
“And do not even go close to Zina! Truly, it is a gross obscenity and an evil path (to go down).” [Quran, 17:32]
I am concerned about the danger of you falling into sin with the young man you are in love with. I sense that you are both already deeply attached to one another. If you were to end your relationship, how would you both cope?
It is possible that you will both suffer from deep heartbreak, and lose your high hopes in Allah. Or, by failing to get married, you could both succumb to base desires and shaytan’s invitation to sin.
Istikhara
Pray istkhara about what the best thing for you to do. Be honest with yourselves, and be realistic about the possible outcomes. If you fear falling into sin with him, and you are content that he is a pious man of good character, then I would advise you to consider marriage.
If you fear falling into sin with him, but know, deep down, that he is not suitable for you, then I advise that you end this relationship before your feelings grow even stronger.
Consequences
If you do choose to get married to him, be prepared for the inevitable fallout – your father’s devastation and the ensuing family drama. But, like all things in life, that phase will pass. The question is whether or not your marriage will be strong enough to withstand that level of stress and rejection.
It is normal and healthy for all newlywed couples to want the blessings of both sides of their families. Unfortunately, this is not always possible, especially given the context of your father’s disapproval.
I suggest that both of you listen to the Successful Islamic Marriage class on SeekersGuidance to help you come to a decision.
Maintaining family ties
Abu Huraira reported that a person said: “Allah’s Messenger, who amongst the people is most deserving of my good treatment? He said: Your mother, again your mother, again your mother, then your father, then your nearest relatives according to the order (of nearness).” [Bukhari]
‘A’isha reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: “The tie of kinship is suspended to the Throne and says: He who unites me Allah would unite him and he who severed me Allah would sever him.” [Bukhari]
It’s a blessing when converts have families who are open-minded enough to embrace their Muslim child and his/her spouse. It’s a great trial when the non-Muslim family is hostile towards Islam. Regardless, it’s still your responsibility to honour the ties of the womb. Whether or not you choose to marry this young man, strive to always keep in touch with your family, and be that embodiment of the mercy of Islam.
I pray that Allah will soften the hearts of your family members, draw them to Islam, and keep you steadfast and obedient to Allah Most High.
Please refer to the following link:
Marriage Decision: Following One’s Heart
Reader on Istikhara
Raidah Shah Idil
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.