Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil
Question: Assalam aleykum,
I suspect that my mother may be engaging in some sort of unlawful relationship with her cousin who lives in a different country. I discovered that they message each other daily about a year ago, which made me uncomfortable. I decided to let the matter go because there was no solid proof that they were being more than just friendly, and I thought I was just jumping to conclusions.
Recently, I discovered an exchange of messages between the two where they both said they wanted to marry each other (both my mother and her cousin are married with kids). I don’t know if it was supposed to be a joke or not, but I found the message to be extremely inappropriate and I am very confused as to how to feel about it. Should I ignore the situation and give my mother the benefit of the doubt, or is there another way I should go about the situation?
Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.
Mother and cousin
I am sorry to hear about this complex and troubling situation. As upset as you are, please try your best to still act within the guidelines of Islam. This means treating your mother with the utmost care and respect, even if you disagree with what she may or may not be doing.
Narrated Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him): The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Beware of suspicion, for suspicion is the worst of false tales; and do not look for the others’ faults and do not spy, and do not be jealous of one another, and do not desert (cut your relation with) one another, and do not hate one another; and O Allah’s worshipers! Be brothers (as Allah has ordered you!”) [Bukhari]
Please know that spying on your mother’s private text messages and/or emails is sinful. Please make your repentance, and do your best to refrain from looking at her phone or computer again.
Moving forward with your mother
Do you really think that speaking to her about this would bring about more benefit than harm? You know your mother best. No matter how well-intentioned you are, unless you are already deeply connected to her and she knows how to regulate her emotions, I imagine that you speaking to her about her possible extra marital affair would only upset her.
It is sinful to deliberately provoke your mother into a state of anger. This is why it is extremely important for you to be calm, before you speak to her about something so deeply private.
Please perform the Prayer of Guidance about how to move forward with your mother.
I suggest that you speak to your mother with kindness and respect. Come from a place of softness and love. Ask her if she is happy. Ask her how you can help. If you feel that she is receptive, then you can say that you’re sorry, but you know about how her cousin and her want to get married.
Please be prepared for her to be deeply ashamed by your questioning and to go into denial and defensiveness. You have uncovered her secret when it was never your right to.
At the end of the day, your mother is responsible for her own actions. She is a grown woman. If she is unhappy in her marriage, then the solution is for her to get marriage counselling and work it out. If your father is fixed in his ways and unwilling to attend counselling, then your mother is still bound by the Shari’ah to behave appropriately. If she wishes to have a divorce, then she must have that conversation with your father, and work that out between them.
It was narrated from ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “The most hated of permissible things to Allah is divorce. ” [Sunan Ibn Majah]
Divorce is the absolute last resort, but is still permissible in Islam. This may be hard for you to imagine, but your mother is still a woman with desires and dreams. Perhaps she is burnt out after decades of childrearing and a husband who no longer is connected to her.
The responsible, God-fearing path would have been for her to work it out with your father, but she has made a mistake – a very common one – by seeking comfort outside her marriage. She is still human.
As entangled as you may feel in your mother’s possible extramarital affair, please bring yourself back to your present reality. You are responsible for your own behaviour. Please guard your own your heart, and your own soul. Occupy yourself with good, and show your mother your own good character. Make dua for her, and learn your lesson from this – never spy on anyone else, ever again.
[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.