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Is it Obligatory to Forgive Others? How to Deal with Abusive Family Members?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: Aslamulaykum,
1. Is it obligatory to forgive family and friends for wronging you?
2. Could you please mention some narrations or proofs with some of the main virtues of forgiving someone?
3. When is it better to forgive and when is it better to take revenge?
4. What is the balance between answering parents back and having a discussion/ conversation with them? (is this considered answering back?)
5. What is the maximum amount of breaking a family tie allowed in the Sacred Law? For example if a family member has been hurtful to me can I just only give salaams to them and cut other relation with them?
Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.
(1) Forgiving others is from the noble sunna of the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). It is not a condition that others change their ways before you forgive them. You are responsible for your actions only.
(2) Abu Hurayra reported that a man said, “Messenger of Allah, I have some relatives with whom I maintain connections but who cut me off. I am good to them but they are bad to me. I am forbearing with them but they are hasty towards me!” He said, “If it is as you said, it is as if you were feeding them hot ash and you will continue to have a helper from Allah Almighty against them for as long as you act like that.” [Muslim] Abu ‘Abdu’r-Rahman ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud reported that a man said, “Messenger of Allah, I have some relatives with whom I maintain relations but they cut me off. I am good to them and they are bad to me. I am forbearing to them and they are impatient towards me.” He said, “If you are as you have said, then it is as if you are giving them hot embers to drink. You will continue to have a helper from Allah against them as long as you remain doing that.” [Muslim] Anas said, “I was walking with the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and he was wearing a Najrani cloak with a thick border. A bedouin came up to him and pulled the cloak violently. I looked at the Prophet’s shoulder and it had been marked by the border of the cloak due to the severity of his pull. Then he said, ‘Muhammad, allot to me some of property of Allah which you have.’ He turned to him and laughed and then ordered a gift to be given to him.” [Agreed upon]
(3) The prophetic example was in forgiving others.
(4) Be gentle with them. You can have a conversation, but don’t be rude or inappropriate.
(5) All that you have described is your test from Allah. Remember Allah, and that He will ask you about the way in which you behaved. Smile things off, forgive and forget, and gain some independence so you are not so reliant upon others. Allah is the one who will lift the trial, so ask Him to relieve you of your distress. Put up with things for His sake.
See: A Time to Build: How Believers Respond To Trials and Tests – Faraz Rabbani Eid Khutba at SeekersHub Toronto and: Struggling to Have Children: Ten Key Etiquettes of Du’a
And Allah alone gives success.
wassalam,
Tabraze Azam
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Should the Decision for Marriage Be Taken Only Considering Somebody’s Caste?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: Assalamualikum.
My parents are searching rishta for me, we like a family but the problem is that we belong to sheikh family and they belong to Ansari.
We like the family but the only problem is their caste and my mother is not at all ready for this alliance. Please help.
Real problem: Should the decision for marriage  be taken only on somebody’s caste?
Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,
I pray this reaches you in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.
No, decisions should not simply be made on castes.
Though it could be argued that there are issues of compatibility in this, it is not the be all end all of marriage decisions. What is of greater importance and relevance is whether the spouses share the same outlook ​on life ​and are compatible in terms of people.
Please see: Do I Have to Marry Someone Within My Caste to Please My Family?
And Allah alone gives success.
Wassalam,
Tabraze Azam
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Should Muslim Converts Break Ties With Non-Muslim Family Members?

Answered by Saira AbuBakr
Question: Recently I read an explanation here about whether to break up ties with relatives or family members in case they are sinful people and the answer was clearly advising no to do so but to keep distance. I would like to ask if this is the same case for a convert? I am a convert and my family members are non-believers. However, even though I always prefer avoiding conflicts and keeping peaceful relation, sometimes their manners, the “culture” or “value-system” they represent and their actions are harmful to my husband’s (who is a born Muslim) and my comfort and I am worried that it can harm our child’s Muslim identity. So are there differences in this matter between a born Muslim family and a converted Muslim who’s parents, sisters/brothers…etc. are not Muslims? Thank you very much. as-Salam alaikum
Answer: walaikum salaam wa RahmatuAllah. JazakiAllahu khairun for your question. May Allah give you the strength to raise spiritually healthy children despite any difficulty, however great it may seem. Know that Allah is Greater (than any tribulation).
Maintaining Ties with One’s Kin
One is required to maintain blood ties, irrespective of the religion of our relatives. The Sahabah (companions of the Messenger of Allah peace and prayers upon him) were all converts and some were subjected to torture by their relatives, including sometimes by their own parents. They bore this patiently. May Allah grant us the strength to do the same, when faced with similar situations.
You may reduce the amount of interaction with your relatives in order to protect your children. Substitute any time not spent with them with gifts (whatever is affordable), phone calls and of course dua (supplication) for them, ideally after every fard (obligatory) prayer.
Focusing on Children’s Islamic Identity
On the other hand, focus on strengthening the identity of your children by regularly taking them to spiritual gatherings, such as: dhikr sessions, classes, socializing with spiritually like minded-people. Don’t worry about them not understanding what they might hear in a class but ensure that they are able to sit for the duration of your attendance without disturbing others. If they are very young, assist them by giving them paper, color pencils, etc. so they may keep busy. The important thing is that the words/presence of the teacher, the spiritual songs (anasheed) and the like will enter their ears and their hearts, as children are like sponges.
In our local halaqahs (circles) I let mothers bring their children. They come with their “busy work”. One of the mothers once excitedly told me that her three-year-old daughter learned some of the etiquettes of dua by simply sitting in our classes and watching us. I too have noticed very blessed changes in some of the children who have attended regularly. If they develop a strong sense of identity, they will grow-up with the ability to interact with all types of people (whenever necessary).
How to View Challenges
View the struggle of challenging relatives as a sign that you need to respond with equal vigor in providing your children with a spiritual environment. If you are not familiar with what is in your local area, ask around. Be persistent. Start something in your home and invite like-minded sisters with children. Begin with a strong intention (for the sake of Allah) and start as soon as Allah sends you (even) one other sister. Avoid argumentation and be consistent in whatever you start. Start small and overlook minor shortcomings in others.
Consistency in One’s Own Spiritual Growth
Also, take the classes you need to take, even if it means taking it online. See what is available on SeekersGuidance. If you have not taken a fiqh (law) class, then do take one and combine it with a class on spirituality. If you email us with what classes you have taken so far, we can better guide you in what to take next.
I know a mother of twins who is very regular in her tahajjud (waking up in the night) ritual, as she once mentioned that when her twins were young, this is the only time she had to review the material from her Islamic classes, recite Qur’an without interruption etc. If the mother (ideally both parents) has/have a strong spiritual identity, the children will follow.
Always Remember
Above all, be consistent in your dua for your children, as a parent’s dua for his/her children is from the duas that Allah the Most High answers.
May He give you the strength to persist on the straight path and may He grant you and your children blessed company.
Saira AbuBakr
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Should I Maintain Ties With Family Who Openly Sin or Shun Them?

Answered by  Ustadh Tariq Abdul-Rasheed
Question: Assalamu alaikum,
I have read and heard in many places that one should love everyone, be merciful with everyone, have good opinion of everyone, and deal in a good way with everyone.
But on the other hand, I have also read in books to avoid bad company. In one book I read that one should stop talking to a person who does not perform salah after being told numerous times because such person is a shaytan. I also read that one cannot say Salam to a fasiq.
Sometimes we can have relatives who openly sin without any shame, including drinking and selling alcohol, not praying, disrespecting parents, etc.  They might even thrust earphones in their ears or start whistling if anyone were to mention religion.
Now I am very confused because I don’t know how to deal with these people.  Since they are close relatives, should I love them, pray for their well being, and call them despite their attempts to avoid me – or should I just shun them totally.
Please clarify my understanding in these matters. JazakaAllah khayr.
Answer: In the name of Allah of the Beneficent the Merciful
Wa laikum salaamu wa rahmatullahi wa barkaatuh,
May Allah (Most High) bless you and grant you increase in iman and good character. Your concern over this issue is a sign of your belief in Allah and compassion and care that He (Most High) has blessed you with. The Prophets and Messengers when through similar trials in maintaining relations and kinship bonds.
Prophetic Trials
“We know that you, [O Muhammad], are saddened by what they say. And indeed, they do not call you untruthful, but it is the verses of Allah that the wrongdoers reject.” [An’am:33]
Amongst the most difficult trials of the Prophets and Messengers (upon them be peace) is maintaining relationships and family ties in face of opposition and rejection from family, friends and nation. We see in the example of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) that his own people rejected him after haven taken him as an advisor and arbitrator and attesting to his trustworthiness.
The Quraysh had outwardly rejected the message of Islam. However, in reality they believed-in and attested to the trustworthiness of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in their hearts. So Allah (Most High) revealed this verse and to console and ease the hurt of the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) and assure him that what they manifested outwardly was not their inward reality. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was avid to maintain his relationships as he was concerned about Allah’s (Most High) creation and wanted to warn them against eminent punishment if they continued in disbelief.
Understanding What is ‘Fisq’ and Who is a ‘Fasiq’
Fisq (sinning/transgressing) refers to any transgression of the laws and limits of the Shariah. It is a general term that entails transgressions and sins both great and small. The fasiq is the one who has adhered to and acknowledges the laws of the Shariah then transgresses all or some of laws. [Ragib Asfahani, Mufradat]
Fisq (sinning/transgressing) and fasiq (one who sins/transgresses) are also used in the Quran to mean the opposite of Iman because the disbeliever transgresses necessary and clear rational judgments which are easily concluded by people of a sound and rational nature. [Ragib Asfahani, Mufradat]
When the scholars of law use the term ‘fasiq’ they are generally referring to one who flagrantly and willingly disobeys the commands of the Shariah. Because of the open, constant and repetitive sinning of the fasiq he becomes well-known for his sinning.
Muslims generally use the term based on its usage by scholars of law. However we should be careful as its usage in the Quran may vary depending on context and we should not attempt to deduce rulings and apply them to our brothers and sisters based on our own readings of the Quran and Sunnah.
Distinguishing Between Actions and Individuals
One very important distinction to make is that the ruling of Allah (Most High) from halal, haram, mandub etc relates to peoples actions and not to individuals themselves. So, if a Muslim commits a wrongdoing then we should hate the wrong action but not the individual.
This is an important principle as the non-Muslim can become Muslim and the sinful person can become amongst Allah’s (Most High) beloved and close ones. The door of repentance is always open and it is the case that people usually become better after sincere repentance.
Again, we judge actions and not individuals. If we keep this principle in mind as we interact with others then there is no conflict between having care and concern for others and wanting the best for them while maintaining our jealousy over the laws and commands of Allah (Most High) such that if we see wrongdoing it remains detestable to us.
Additionally, by understanding this principle we can prevent ourselves from becoming self-righteous when dealing with people who may be struggling with obedience to their Lord. People who struggle with religion often note that they find it difficult to be around so-called “pious” people because they perceive from them righteous indignation and contempt. Why? Because “pious” people tend to judge people and not actions. They condemn and don’t encourage. So mercy and concern is replaced by contempt and the opportunity to help and assist it lost.
Keeping Good Company
While we should maintain mercy and compassion for others that are known for their sinfulness we should also be keen not to keep close companionship with them. This is not out of arrogance or self-righteousness rather it is out of concern over our own states and the tendency of souls to take on the characteristics of other souls.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “A man is only upon the religion of his close friends. So let one of you look carefully at whom he takes as an intimate friend.” [Ahmad, Hakim]. We shouldn’t maintain intimate company with people that are flagrantly sinful not because we are exceptionally pious and above them rather because of the inherent imitation the comes with close friendship. There is no contradiction between having a genuine care for all, not looking down at others with contempt while at the same being vigilant about whom we take as companions.
Enjoining the Good and Forbidding the Evil
A distinguishing characteristics of the Muslim Ummah is their enjoying of what is right and good and forbidding foulness, evil and harm. Allah (Most High) says in the Holy Quran, “And let there be [arising] from you a nation inviting to [all that is] good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong, and those will be the successful.”[Aal `Imran: 104]
This a command of obligation and the scholars agree that it is a communal obligation. If some from amongst the Ummah uphold the responsibility then the remaining community will not be sinful. It is preservation of the Deen of Allah (Most High) and when it is neglected then the entire community is sinful and deserving of Allah (Most High) punishment.
It is related that Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz (ra) used to say, “Allah (exalted and glorified) does not punish the general public because of sins committed in private. But rather when foulness and evil are committed openly and is not rebuked then they are deserving of punishment – all of them! [Imam Qazwini, Mukhtasar Shu`ab al-Iman]
Principles of Commanding the Good and Forbidding the Evil
The obligation of Commanding the Good and Forbidding the Evil is established in the Quran, Sunnah and by Consensus of the Scholars. It is a communal obligation which may in some cases become an individual obligation depending on the circumstances. However, there are a number of conditions that must be met in order for the obligation to be present. Among them are the following:
– One must be knowledgeable of the Halal and Haram according to the Shariah otherwise one could be enjoining what is haram and forbidding what is halal.
– One must be certain that by forbidding the evil that it does not lead to a greater evil. In such a case then it is not permissible to do so.
– That there is a high degree of certainty that one’s enjoining or forbidding will actually be of benefit. If not, then there is no obligation to do so. It should also be done with wisdom and sincere concern.
– The evil or sinful action must be manifest and open such that one does not have to resort to spying, sneaking and searching to expose the sin(s) one seeks to forbid. (Spying and searching out the sins of Muslim is forbidden and to be suspicious and inquire into another’s actions without due reason (such for a marriage or witnessing in legal cases) is likewise forbidden.)
– The sin must be one whose forbiddance is unanimously agreed upon or that the consideration of it not being forbidden is extremely weak. (Matters that are differed upon amongst qualified scholars are not the basis of ‘munkar’ and one cannot rebuke another over practicing upon an opinion which is differed upon.)
It is necessary that we consider the previous conditions so that in our attempt to help we don’t actually cause a greater harm. Additionally, it helps us to know when and when-not to engage situations. In regards to issues of high-crimes that require established political authority it is not our place to attempt to “change with our hands” without proper legal authority contrary to what is commonly misunderstood from the hadith.
Family Ties and Kinship Bonds
Finally, the obligation of maintaining family ties cannot be stressed enough. It is sinful to cut-off bonds of kinship or to shun relatives even if they are sinful.
Allah (Most High) says, “Worship Allah and associate nothing with Him, and to parents do good, and to relatives, orphans, the needy, the near neighbor, the neighbor farther away, the companion at your side, the traveler, and those whom your right hands possess. Indeed, Allah does not like those who are self-deluding and boastful.” [an-Nisa: 36] The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The one who cuts of blood-ties will not enter Paradise”[Bukhari, Muslim]
In conclusion; as mentioned above we can maintain cordial friendly bonds with relatives who may be openly sinful while letting them know that we don’t approve of their sinful acts. At the same time we should be careful to maintain a true care and concern in our hearts that their state [and ours] improves. In reality this one of the distinctive marks of Prophetic character. In our times people become apathetic and indifferent which is not a healthy state. Going either to the extreme of complete rejection or complete acceptance.
Remember the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The believer is the mirror of his brother. If he sees a fault in him he corrects it.” Though our sins may not be manifest we can relate to weaknesses of the self and in that way we can all relate to struggling with sin. This should elicit empathy rather than arrogance.
I pray this has helped clarify the matter and Allah (Most High) knows best.
Tariq Abdul-Rasheed

Hoarding and Giving Away Others’ Possessions

Answered by Sidi Wasim Shiliwala

Question: If someone in your family has the habit of holding on to things (i.e. hoarding), is it permissible to dispose/donate their things without their permission?

Answer: Walaikum As-salaam wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu,

May Allah reward you for your concern regarding your relative. However, disposing of or donating others’ property without their permission is impermissible. Rather, if you want to help them, you should advise them against this behavior.

Giving Away Others’ Possessions is Impermissible

So long as a person is legally responsible, meaning that they are a sane adult, then they are in complete ownership of all of their possessions. This means that so long as it does not harm or infringe upon the rights of others, they can do with their property as they please. This includes keeping them as well as disposing of them. [al-Majalla]

As such, it is impermissible for someone to dispose of, donate, or sell another person’s property without their explicit permission. Even if they have noble intentions, they still do not have any right over that other person’s property.

Maintaining Family Relations

In addition to being impermissible, you should also consider how this act might affect your relation with that family member. Remember that maintaining ties of kinship is an important duty in Islam, and disposing of a family member’s possessions is an almost certain way to ruin those ties. While you might think that you are helping the family member, that person will think you are stealing from them and destroying their possessions.

Rather, the preferable way to deal with such situations is to provide sincere advice and encouragement to the person. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said that this religion is “sincere concern (nasiha).” We should express this prophetic concern first and foremost to our families by encouraging them to live their lives in accordance with the teachings of this religion.

Hoarding is Against the Teachings of Islam

Indeed, it is not proper for Muslims to hoard things, and while you cannot force others to dispose of some of their possessions, you can at least encourage them to do so by reminding them of the Islamic teachings on the matter.

Remind them of Allah’s commandments against hoarding and excess. In the Qur’an, Allah admonishes us against “al-takathur” – the piling up of worldly possessions, which can ill distract us until our demise (102:1-2). Allah also warns against the sin of excess (israf), saying “Do not be excessive, verily He does not like those who commit excess” (6:141).

Remind them also of the timeless advice of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “abstain from the world and Allah will love you” (ibn Majah). Explain to them that if they truly want to keep their possessions, they should give them away, as Allah will reward them multiple times for such donations in the next life.

Remind them that when a goat was sacrificed and given out in charity, the Prophet (peace be upon him) asked Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) how much of it remained. She said that only the shoulder remained, but he (peace be upon him) corrected her: “Everything remains except the shoulder” (Al-Tirmidhi).

The message here is that we will all die and the things we thought we owned will perish. It is only our deeds that will benefit us in the everlasting hereafter, so they are our only true possessions, and are more worthy of our attention and work. Instead of stacking useless pieces of plastic in this world, we should all strive to gather the unlimited treasures of the next. As Allah explains, “Whatever is with you will perish, and whatever is with Allah is everlasting” (16:96).

Sincere Help

With Allah’s help, that person will realize that they should not hoard their possessions, and that they can live comfortably with much less. At this point, you can offer to help them discern what is necessary and what is not, and to help them discard such items. Without this explicit permission, that property is still theirs, and as such cannot be taken from them.

Above all, Islam is here to purify our hearts, minds, and bodies. What takes precedence is curing the underlying problem – in this case, an unhealthy attachment to worldly things – before treating the symptoms. If the hoarding is severe, then you should help that person seek counseling, and that act will be of greater help and reward insha’Allah.

And with Allah comes success.

Baarak Allahu Fikum,
-Wasim

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

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