fatherdaughterAmongst the many family dynamics issues that the Muslim community is beginning to address, one of the least-discussed subjects remains that of father-daughter relationships.

In the Muslim community especially, this is an issue which has been overlooked, ignored, and generally treated with a sense of discomfort. Particularly amongst immigrant families, the relationship between a father and his daughter(s) is often a distant one; girls are encouraged to spend the majority of their time with their mothers and other womenfolk.

A girl might be “Daddy's Little Princess” as a baby, a toddler, a child, but as she grows closer to puberty she will often find herself left at home instead of taken to the masjid, attention deflected from her and turned towards her brothers instead (if she has any).
Unfortunately, this is a practice which has extremely negative repercussions… for the fathers, the daughters, and indeed the Ummah at large.

Psychologists refer to father-daughter relationships as having an importance too often overlooked, despite the incredible impact that it has on both parties. Indeed, much of the time the effect of this relationship isn't even noticed until much later in life, when patterns have already been set and are unlikely to change.

The role of a father in his daughter's life is pivotal: he is the first man in her life; the one who teaches her what he, a male, thinks of her, a female; and thus shapes her sense of self-worth in the eyes of other men; the one whose behaviour and mannerisms will influence her mental image of “the perfect man” and her choice of life partner (i.e. husband).

In Islam as well as in psychology, the father is meant to be the daughter's guardian, protecting her from harm, teaching her life skills and strong values. Yet despite all this, far too many fathers play a distant, secondary role in their daughter's lives. There is a misconception that a father is merely the breadwinner, the supporter of the household, that his role is primarily that of financial provider rather than nurturer. After all, isn't it the mother's job to raise the children? Isn't it the mother's job to teach her daughters what it is to be a girl, a woman?

Yes, it is – but the mother is not a child's only parent. She is equally the man's progeny. His genes are present in her DNA, his flesh and blood are hers. When she looks at him, he is seeing a part of himself; in her behaviour is a reflection of his own attitude and mannerisms.
How then can any father willingly minimize his role in his daughter's life?

Mistakes Fathers Make

  • Not being actively involved from the beginning (birth). Hold your daughter. Carry her. Change her diapers. You can't expect to develop a bond between yourself and your child if you don't make the effort to create it.
  • Not getting involved because you think you're unprepared. Considering that you've already had experience with females thanks to your mother/ sister/ wife, you're not as unprepared as you think you are, so relax.
  • Distancing yourself from her as she grows older. Girls become women. They change physically. It's a fact of life, get used to it. Yes, puberty is uncomfortable for everyone involved, but denying it or ignoring it – or worse, ignoring her – just makes things worse. Nobody's suggesting that you chat with your daughter about the details of her menstrual cycle, but it'd be a lot more helpful if you grabbed the Tylenol and handed her a hot water bottle instead of walking straight past her when you clearly know that she's in pain. This is just one example of fathers' denial about their daughters growing up; in truth, there are many ways that fathers demonstrate distance from their daughters.
  • Having little to no physical contact. The idea that hugging, kissing, or having any other positive physical contact with your daughter is “wrong” or “not manly” is absolutely ridiculous. Not only that, but it's extremely harmful to your daughter's development as she grows older. Whether your daughter is five or fifteen, both of you should be comfortable enough to turn to each other for a hug (that lasts longer than five seconds) at any time.
  • Little to no emotional communication. “Pass the salt” does not qualify as real communication. Make an effort to be involved in your daughter's everyday life, whether it has to do with school and friends or just how she's feeling on any given day. Building this bond will create a feeling of security and trust, and your daughter should be able to turn to you for help at times of emotional hurt and conflict. 
  • Not expressing pride in their daughters. Girls crave their father's praise and approval just as much as boys do. Nothing can thrill a daughter more than knowing that her father sees his own good qualities in her, that he is really and truly proud of her and her accomplishments.

The greatest, most perfect example of father-daughter relationships can be found in the history of Islam. Has there ever been a father more devoted, a daughter more adoring, than our beloved Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) and Sayyidah Faatimah az-Zahraa' (radhiAllahu anha)?

We all know the stories:

Young Faatimah, scarcely ten years old, wiping filth off of her father's back and furiously berating the leaders of Quraysh for their behaviour.

Faatimah, who used to weep at the sight of dust that was thrown upon her father's head, and would be comforted with the words “Do not cry, my daughter, for Allah shall protect your father!”

Faatimah, the apple of her father's eye, of whom he said: “Whoever pleased Fatimah has indeed pleased God and whoever has caused her to be angry has indeed angered God. Fatimah is a part of me. Whatever pleases her pleases me and whatever angers her angers me.” (Narrated by al-Bukhari, 3437; Muslim, 4483)

Noble Faatimah, one of the four greatest women in the world: “The best women in all the world are four: the Virgin Mary, Aasiyaa the wife of Pharoah, Khadijah Mother of the Believers, and Fatimah, daughter of Muhammad.”

Faatimah, of whom A'isha (radhiAllahu anha) commented, “I have not seen any one of God's creation resemble the Messenger of God more in speech, conversation and manner of sitting than Fatimah, may God be pleased with her. When the Prophet saw her approaching, he would welcome her, stand up and kiss her, take her by the hand and sit her down in the place where he was sitting.”

The entire Muslim Ummah has benefited directly from this unique father-daughter relationship. How many lessons have been derived from the seerah, from incidents pertaining to this father and to this daughter?! How much knowledge, how much wisdom, was transmitted from father to daughter, and from that daughter to her own sons, al-Hassan and al-Hussein (radhiAllahu anhum)?! Yaa subhanAllah! How can we ever belittle, neglect, forget the importance of such a bond?

O Muslim fathers, will you follow in the footsteps of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu 'alayi wa sallam)? Will you do what you can to help your daughter become the Faatimah az-Zahraa' of today?

Or will you keep ignoring her, neglecting her, passing her off to 'womanly influences'? And in the process, compromise, minimize, and even destroy the potential of someone who could become the next Maryam, Aasiyah, Khadijah, or Faatimah?

O Muslim men… be men! Be fathers. Be fathers of the greatest Muslim women this Ummah has ever known!

57 Responses

  1. Abd- Allah

    The article makes some good points. It is unfortunate that muslim men have the best role model but yet many fail to follow him (peace be upon him).
    References to the hadiths used would have been appreciated.

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  2. Y.S.

    I am blessed to be a Muslim woman who has enjoyed her father’s love throughout the years. I am the apple of my father’s eyes. He constantly tells me he loves me and shows respect for my opinions. He hugs and kisses me and gives me everything I want. He makes me feel beautiful and intelligent and only wants the best for me. He asks for my opinions on many things and talks about nearly everything with me. I have indeed shaped many of my criteria for marriage on some of my father’s qualities. Thanks to this strong support, and that of my brothers, I do not need to seek approval from othe rmen. I do not yearn to be flattered and I believe it has protected me from many wrong choices in life, alhamdulilah. This is just to say that it is very important for fathers to love, respect and cherish their daughters.

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    • karmarisa

      i am glad that you know you are blessed to have a unique father-daughter relationship. i think that it is so cool that ur dad asks for your opinions, and share/talk about a lot of things. at 16, i still don’t know what having a father daughter relationship is like. i just realized the importance of a fathers love.
      some day, soon hopefully, i would know what it feels like to have a father daughter reationship. i’m still working on it. wish me luck!!! :)

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      • Estrella

        How are you working on it? :O

        This article was quite painful to read. The message it renders is beautiful and I couldn’t agree more with it. I only wish I could be blessed like all those girls with affectionate fathers *sigh*

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      • Jeem

        Good luck! Im having some issues with my father too….it all started on my birth… I had a fatherless childhood….He never looked at me or said anything to me…but now he wants my attention(something that I can’t give him).

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  3. Arshada

    as salaam alikuim

    Jezkallah khair. I always intended to research the stories between the beloved Prophet Muhammad and Fatima. Jezkallah khair for giving me a glimpse into their relationship.

    Arshada,

    as salaam alikuim

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  4. Good article

    Ma sha Allah, excellent article.

    I must say, from personal experience, my father was nicer to my sister than to me or my brothers. She could, and still can, get away with ANYTHING, whereas I’d get the hanger (how they spanked me). Now, she goes on tantrums, gets angry easily and is generally mean spirited.

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  5. Ibrahim Z Mohammad

    Assalaamu ‘alaykum,

    Jazaak Allaah khayr for this article which makes some good points. As a father of a toddler girl, I feel affection and interaction comes naturally to a father. Coming home after work everyday I always look forward to her running to the door saying ‘baba, baba!’ and insisting I pick her up and swing her around a few times.

    But I do anticipate that the level of physical interaction I have with her will decrease over time as she grows older. Please excuse my criticism, but I feel your advice regarding this issue has a tilt coming from a western upbringing. The extent of physical contact thats considered appropriate I’m sure varies from culture to culture, family to family and person to person. This does not mean that a girl who grows up in a culture where the father interacts less physically with his daughters should necessarily be at psychological disadvantage. As long as she feels confident in her fathers love and support, I do not think it matters to her how he manifests it to her.

    Also, please see this article on islam-qa where the shaykh mentions hugging between mahram relatives (of the opp. sex) as being something disliked. http://www.islamqa.com/en/ref/12879

    May Allaah reward you for your efforts.

    Jazaak Allaah khayr

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      • matata

        As a woman I “can’t” change diapers either. I don’t want to change diapers. But that’s a part of life that you and i both have to get used to after becoming parents. It’s all in the package :) you CAN do it.

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  6. Hassan

    Ahmad AlFarsi (Author) said:

    i agree with everything except this point:

    … Change her diapers. …

    :) I still reluctantly change poop though :)

    I put diapers, I just do not take off diapers :D

    There is nothing better (in the worldly affairs) than daughters. There is nothing like it

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    • Amad

      Agree with Hassan (today is agreement day): girls (until they start turning “womanish” which is the point of your post ;) ) are much more lovable and love-seeking than boys.

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  7. iMuslim

    Great article, sis, masha’Allah. I do agree with brother Ibrahim on the cultural aspect though. As long as the love is manifested in a tangible way: words, gestures, acts of kindness, etc, I think it’s all good, insha’Allah. Of course, there is balance in everything. No-one should be spoilt (speaks the only child!).

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  8. Yasir Qadhi

    Salam

    Sr. Anonymouse, great article…for some.

    However, I fear that in my case I have the opposite problem: that of being overly strict with the boys and overly-lenient with the daughter. I still play with her more than the boys (cuz she is the youngest and cutest!) and always get criticized (by the other women of the family, *ahem*) for treating her too nicely.

    :(

    Yasir

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  9. AnonyMouse

    As-salaamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh,

    References to the hadiths used would have been appreciated.

    Thank you for the reminder – I’ll update the post in a minute, insha’Allah. They are all authentic narrations which can be found in Saheeh al-Bukhari (and which are quoted in the IslamQA links I added at the bottom of the post).

    @ Ibrahim
    I agree with you that the level of physical interaction between fathers and daughters varies depending the individuals, family, culture, etc. but I do think that many fathers do withdraw significantly from their daughters as they (the daughters) grow older. Again, if we look to the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), we see that he used to hug and kiss his daughters even when they were grown women. It’s like any other relationship, really – it depends on the individual but the greatest of examples lies always in the Sunnah of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam).

    And to show that it’s alright:
    The ruling on a father kissing his daughter

    @ Sheikh Yasir
    :)

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  10. Umm Reem

    I think that’s the exact point Anonymouse is trying to make is that little adorable girls get a lot of attention from the father but once they start developing into young women, father detach themselves by giving them less time and taking less interest in their activities…

    i can understand that father will naturally have more interest in “boyish” activities but I think that’s what they need to realize that they might not feel bit but their daughters do…

    i read stories of some female scholars in the past, who were directly taught by their father scholars, and had an excellent relationship with their fathers..i wonder how they managed to do that..

    Females are naturally very sensitive, so what happens when they see their fathers doing stuff with their brothers (when they grow older) but not them, then what happens?

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  11. Ibrahim Z Mohammad

    Again, if we look to the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), we see that he used to hug and kiss his daughters even when they were grown women.

    Without doubt the Prophet (saw) is the best example in all affairs. Could you please provide a reference that shows the Prophet (saw) would hug his grown daughters? Also would he hug or kiss them in public (ie. in front of non-Mahrams)? I couldn’t find any such references myself and would appreciate any direction.
    Jazaak Allaah khayr.

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  12. AnonyMouse

    Could you please provide a reference that shows the Prophet (saw) would hug his grown daughters? Also would he hug or kiss them in public (ie. in front of non-Mahrams)?

    The narration of A’ishah (radhiAllahu anha) regarding how the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) used to greet his daughters by kissing them is recorded in Fath al-Bari (8/135), Kitab al-Maghaazi, baab maraduhu wa wafatuhu; Abu Dawud 4/480, Kitab al-Adab, baab ma ja’a fi’l qiyam.

    Also, note that I have never said that he used to hug/ kiss his daughters in public in front of non-Mahrams; I figured that it was generally understood that all these displays of affection would take place in the privacy of the family home.

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  13. ilmsummittee

    Good article, I generally agreed with it overall.

    Alhamdulilah, my experience like sister Y.S. is the same. My father is truly one of a kind, he has always been a very strong presence in my life and supportive in all areas. His qualities are something that definitely makes him who he is, mashallah and as has been said this too has shaped my “criteria for marriage”. I can go on and on about his qualities and akhlaaq, but I will keep to it……….but for future parents know that an Islamic upbringing coupled with a sensitive, compassionate undertaking really makes for awesome tarbiyah.

    And having great parents is one of the most underestimated, glossed-over, and best ni3aam ever.

    On a minor note, I believe that some people differ on the degrees of affectionate and the way it is displayed, I think it plays a crucial role in defining a child’s identity and nurture. Parenting is something children reflect upon, and often mirror as they grow older.

    I find that as men may seem lenient towards their daughters, to be cautious in how the ‘boys’ see it. My father is more prone to side with us, but he’s always open-minded when it comes to being ‘equal’ and respectful of everyones’ feelings. My advice (as I have seen this many times with Muslim fathers in and around my community) is to be careful in not SPOILING your daughter or treating her as too ‘special’ at the expense of her brothers or vice versa. Alhamdulilah, though its very nice to see a great connection in that Muslim Father-daughter bond, a beautiful sight to see.

    For anyone interested here’s a very nice and cute nasheed video about a father’s love for his daughter by none other than Abu Ali:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWGFtrYCL6w

    To end, I just want to remind all that there are a few ahadith about how fulfilling the amanah and good care of daughters can lead one to paradise or protection from hellfire (please forgive my weak translations) :

    فعن أبي سعيد الخدري أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال : ” من كان له ثلاث بنات أو ثلاث أخوات أو ابنتان أو أختان فأحسن صحبتهن واتقى الله فيهن دخل الجنة” .رواه ابن حبان في صحيحه
    (Hadith: Whoever had three daughters or sisters, or two daughters or sisters and they perfected their companionship, fearing Allah in them enters paradise)

    وعن عبدالله يعني ابن مسعود قال سمعت النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول من كانت له ابنة فأدبها وأحسن أدبها وعلمها وأحسن تعليمها وأوسع عليها من نعم الله التي أوسع عليه كانت له منعة وسترا من النار
    (On the authority of Abdullah bin Masood, he said I heard the prophet (saw) say: Whoever had a daughter and he disciplined/raised her well, and perfected in raising her, and educated her perfecting in educating her, and opened for her from the provisions & blessings of Allah (swt) that Allah (swt) had opened for him, she became a barrier & covering between him and hellfire.)

    وعن أبي هريرة أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال من كن له ثلاث بنات فعالهن وآواهن وكفهن وجبت له الجنة قلنا وبنتين قال وبنتين قلنا وواحدة قال وواحدة

    (On the authority of Abu Hurariah: The messenger of Allah (saw) said: “he who looks after three daughters and takes care of them, he is deserving of paradise. We asked, and two daughters? He (saw) said and two daughters. We asked, one daughter? He said (saw) and one daughter. )

    وعن عوف بن مالك أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال ما من مسلم يكون له ثلاث بنات فينفق عليهن حتى يبلغن أو يمتن إلا كن له حجابا من النار فقالت امرأة أو اثنتان قال وثنتان
    (On the authority of Awf bin Malik, that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, ” There is not a Muslim who had three daughters whom he spends on until they are independent or die, except that they are made as a cover/barrier from hellfire for him. And a woman asked, or two? He (saw) said: And two.)

    And Allah knows best.
    Wa Allahu’ A3laam.

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  14. Ibrahim Z Mohammad

    I figured that it was generally understood that all these displays of affection would take place in the privacy of the family home.

    Jazaak Allaah khayr for clarifying your point.

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  15. my h-town

    Good article mashallah. My husband, alhumdulilah, is great with our toddler daughter. He’s very affectionate and playful with her, which would be expected at this age I guess. Although, I would appreciate some poopy diapers being changed every now and then! But sometimes it concerns me when I think about how he would interact with her when she is older. I am from the US and my husband is from abroad so we both have slightly different opinions when it comes to raising girls. My father is still affectionate with my sister and myself. He’ll hug us and kiss us on the head. But according to my husband’s culture (whether it be the culture of his country or his familial culture), this is kind of taboo. He even thinks its strange that my older brother hugs me (for like 1.5 seconds, but still). But only time can tell. I think every man is different and each family has their own culture. I don’t want to assume that my husband will not hug his daughter when she is older or give her a peck on the cheek or on the head. What father could refuse to reciprocate this affection if the daughter were to initiate it??

    Lastly, there is one point I do not totally agree with. Some people have mentioned above that the author has a cultural ‘bias’ (for lack of better terms). Being from the same culture as the sister, I however, do not agree with the attention a daughter should get from her father while on her cycle. My father would steer clear of us if we were on our menses. We liked it that way, honestly. Although being born and raised in the US, we still liked this ‘traditional’ reaction from our father. I think I would be royally embarrassed if my father ever addressed me about my menses. :S

    Jazakallah khair for posting this article!

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  16. BintH

    SubhanAllah, after reading this article I realized how overlooked this topic really is!
    MashaAllah I enjoyed the article.

    Being the youngest of four girls, I’ve seen in my family and families around me that fathers’ hearts often get really softened when they have daughters, it just makes them a little different than if they had all boys. I don’t have any brothers, but I have a great dad mashaAllah., and sometimes I wonder if I did have brothers, then if my dad would be like Sh. Yasir Qadhi in treating the boys a bit differently (but not on purpose of course), than me, in a good way. :D
    I agree that with cultural differences, there is sometimes distant relationships between fathers and daughters, and this is solely because of the way people were raised and the culture around them. Hmm, although it says that we should talk about personal stuff with him, with me, the point is that I’m happy with my relationship with him, so I might not have to incorporate all the above points as other people might. It’s all about balancing in raising your children I guess. Wallahu Alam. It gets hard as you grow up and slightly uncomfortable, but overall, it’s great Alhamdulillah.

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  17. Al-Madrasi

    Jazakillah for the article,

    can somebody write an article about mother-son relationship?…

    Barakillahu feek.

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    • Amad

      can somebody write an article about mother-son relationship?…

      You want to try, Al-Madrasi? :)

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  18. Umm Ismael

    Asslam ualaikum wr wb Sr
    MashaALLAH , there are some good points that you raised in this article. My father alhamdulillah has been one of a kind. I am closer to him than his boys. I suppose the reason being that daughters generally hold more affection with respect to their parents once all the children have entered marital lives. It is for this reason that Ive ended up being more like my father than my mother (which has its pros and cons :) ). However I don’t totally agree to some aspects. Every person is prone to display different emotional reactions. My mother is not physical at all (she rarely kisses or hugs us) while my father is the opposite. Albeit my mother displays her affection through other acts. Anyhow good article on the whole.
    It is partially because of this estranged relationship that we find that within the rural areas, abuse from fathers is not a very uncommon phenomenon.

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  19. bintwadee3

    @Good article: “whereas I’d get the hanger (how they spanked me)”

    LOL I thought we were the only ones!!! I still stand by my conviction that the white ones hurt the most. We used to hide them when we didn’t do our Qur’an :) . Good times.

    Masha’Allaah an excellent post. Alhamdulillaah I haven’t had that problem with my dad. He’s really awesome masha’Allaah and I agree 100% that you will look for a husband with certain characteristics that your father had later on down the road.

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  20. Azizur Rahman

    As-Salamu `Alaykum,

    I agree with this article. I think we are at the stage where we are learning what we should have known all alone.

    We need more piratical guide to build the kind of relationship mention here. We also need to focus on the issue of the generation gap that most people use as an excuse for not being able to build this kind of relationship.

    Given that most teenager these days uses email to communicate for example how many of parents actually know how communicate with email? We have to educate ourselves on effective means of communications and not: “I am the father and everything goes as I say or else”.

    We need our local imams taking an active role in educating the people.

    Also other thing this article missed out on “shura” at home. If the fathers are not doing a shura at least once a months and not including the children it can have the kind of result as see today.

    May Allah guide all the guardian of future generations, and bless them with knowledge and wisdom.

    wa `Aleykum As-Salaam,
    Azizur Rahman

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  21. Interesting

    Great Article!

    I would like to point out that not every daughter would appreciate her father taking a keen interest in their menstrual cycle. I am sure that has been relayed by another sister here as well.

    Also, not to get all health nazi here, but Tylenol is NOT a method of relief I would choose when in pain, considering the health effects.

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  22. AnonyMouse

    can somebody write an article about mother-son relationship?

    That was next on my list, but Allahu a’lam if I’ll be getting around to it anytime soon… not being a son, or a mother, I don’t think I’m ready to write about it. But everyone else is welcome to take a stab at it!

    I would like to point out that not every daughter would appreciate her father taking a keen interest in their menstrual cycle.

    LOL… that was just an example I used… not necessarily applicable to everyone :)

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  23. Musafira

    Jazak Allah khairfor a timely reminder, Sister Zainab

    Some fathers show their affection and love in ways other than physical; some of these ways are from my experience.

    1. Whatever she cooks is fantastic – daughter is told to advise her mother how to cook :)
    2. She can drive but father insists that she be ferried about
    3. As the time for marriage approaches, no man is good enough for his princess
    4. After marriage, father wants daughter to live next door, or at least on the same street
    5. He shows the physical love to his grandchildren unabashedly whilst he may just pat his daughter on the head
    6. He scolds his wife when the daughter is unwell, unhappy, out of sorts
    7. When he comes home, he looks for his daughter first and calls for her
    8. Whatever she wants, she can have – no limits – he can’t say no to her; the mother has to do that!
    9. He looks miserable when there is a mother-daughter moment / outing

    Anyone want to add anymore?

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  24. S.B.

    Mashallah, once again MM has brought up a topic I always talk about! Seriously it’s getting creepy now, almost everything that I wish there was more exposure on is brought up on this site. May Allah reward you all and keep this site successful!

    I have often noted as I grew up (not that I am old or anything) that all of my friends or peers who were more into getting attention from the guys or even more likely to experiment with them (from flirting to dating) were almost always those who did not have a good relationship with their father. While, it was very often that those who did have a good relationship were less interested and it was easier for them to stay away from haram.

    On top of creating a good relationship and lessening the chances of the daughter falling into haram the father is instrumental in forming her self-esteem and self-worth and even self-development. When dads start ignoring their girls and expect them to only be worthy of cooking dinner and looking pretty, do you think she will amount to much? But when a father encourages her daughter to further her education (and I use this term broadly), follow her passions, dream big, give her responsibility, teach her how to be a productive member of society – then this girl will develop the backbone that she needs to carry the world. They say women are the foundation of society, so it’s imperative that the foundation is strong.

    AlHamdulillah my dad was always very supportive, loving, and affectionate (while still laying down the law when needed) and I KNOW it made a difference as I grew up. Of course a girl/young woman/woman wants to hear she is smart, beautiful, special, worthy, important, responsible, trustworthy, and not only hear it but believe it through the actions of the person saying it. I can almost guarantee that if she isn’t getting that from someone at home then she will seek it out. Even if she doesn’t realize she is seeking it out, as soon as there is someone there providing it, she will eat it up.

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  25. Sadaf

    Masha’Allah, Sisters Musafira and S.B – your input is fabulous. Got me thinking and I realized how right you are.

    Umm Ismael – hmm, let’s just say, do I know you? :-)

    As for myself, I know for a fact that it was my father who was the most, the MOST, concerned when I went through childbirth – both times. He kept calling and asking about how I was long after most of the women (mothers – both, aunts etc.) had assumed I was alright. He thought of me when everyone else thought only about the baby’s well-being. I know that his love for me is not found in anyone else’s heart — it might not be as much as my mother’s, but it is definitely different than hers as well. It is unique and fatherly. He thinks of me when others do not.

    Aren’t we lucky to have fathers, mothers, husbands and other close relatives who care for us and love us at every moment in our lives? May Allah guide us to give the Haqq of shukr and gratitude to the One Who created these relationships, put them there in our lives, and inspired love for us in their hearts, to support us in our trying, sad times.

    Jazaakillahu Khairan Anonymouse for writing this inspiring article.

    Allah knows best.

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  26. Siraaj Muhammad

    About the only thing I don’t do with my daughter is change her diapers (she no longer wears them, but when she did, I didn’t, same with my son), but I do help her clean up in the bathroom when she yells out to me, “I THINK I’M DUUUUUUNNNN!”

    We read stories and play Wii together, but her favorite activity with me is playing, “Rough”, which includes lots of tickling and spinning around, sometimes at the same time!

    We also play dodge ball occasionally, and we have a fun time when we play. I usually have between a half hour to an hour set aside for the kids (including eating dinner, though), and more often than not, we read good night stories before she sleeps.

    I have to admit, though, a lot of my own good behavior comes because her mom is active in making sure our kids are raised in a healthy family environment and when I slack because I get busy, she’s always there to keep reminding and encouraging me so I don’t take my eye off the ball, so to speak, so in my experience, it’s good to have a mom who really cares about her kids well-being and understands the importance of a father in a kid’s life, even if the father forgets sometimes and the kids don’t know it til it’s too late =)

    Siraaj

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    • Amad

      I have to admit, though, a lot of my own good behavior comes because her mom is active in making sure our kids are raised in a healthy family environment and when I slack because I get busy, she’s always there to keep reminding and encouraging me so I don’t take my eye off the ball, so to speak, so in my experience, it’s good to have a mom who really cares about her kids well-being and understands the importance of a father in a kid’s life, even if the father forgets sometimes and the kids don’t know it til it’s too late =)

      Mashallah, stocking up on brownie points? It is always good to store some of these goodies for the occasional rainy day… Marriage 101 :)

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  27. Siraaj Muhammad

    Mashallah, stocking up on brownie points? It is always good to store some of these goodies for the occasional rainy day… Marriage 101 :)

    Well, all that I said was true, I was just giving credit where credit is due (+10 brownie points) to the bestest and most beautifulest wife in the whole world (+20 brownie points) whom I have oppressed by not all the laundry recently (-20 brownie points for missing the laundry, +5 brownie points for admitting I’m wrong).

    Once you’ve been married as long as I have, you get to understand how the mind of a woman works (-25 brownie points for acting like a know-it-all on an internet blog, even if it’s true [-5 brownie points for snide parenthetical remarks]), and I’ve come to the realization that because they know your every weakness, they know exactly what buttons to push to break you down.

    So make sure all posts that contain some virtue of yours, after Allah giving you guidance, make sure to include your wife somewhere in there (-30 brownie points for facetious, backhanded remarks).

    Siraaj

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    • Amad

      So Siraaj, let’s do the math here = +10+20-20+5-25-5-30 = -45. I think you have already exhausted your + points from the previous comment. Sorry dude, start collecting again.

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  28. Olivia

    Masha’Allah, Siraaj, that was the best blog post I’ve ever read =)

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  29. shahgul

    Assalamu alaikum,

    May Allah give my father jannah, ameen. When my mom had my sister, my father became my caregiver. I used to sleep in his cot (char pai). I was a bed wetter. If I wet the mattress he would just toss the mattress and sleep on bare rope. All this without a word of complaint. May Allah raise his station for that alone, and give him the most comfortable bed in Jannah, Ameen.

    As a child I remembering not eating dinner and waking up hungry in the middle of the night. I would go wake him up and tell him I was hungry. He would get up, sneak over to the kitchen (so as not to wake up my mom) and make pancakes for me. Those were the most delicious pancakes I ever ate. This fun activity, though ended when my mom woke to the smell of food and disciplined me.

    Once I remember, we had just sat down to lunch and my little sister demanded to eat an egg. Only there were no eggs in the fridge. He got up from the table, his food uneaten and bought her some eggs.

    As teenagers, we felt safe discussing everything with him. If you told him the truth, there were no consequences, just advice for the future. This kept lines of communication open. It was a relief discussing everything you had done wrong, with your parent. If had told those things to my mom, I would have got a good hiding. I remember, telling him about the first time I smoked, when I was in high school. The only thing he said was “Yo did not do the right thing. Don’t do it again.” I later found out from my mother, how concerned he was, but grateful that I came home and told everything.

    The best thing I learned from him was the ability to say “sorry!” He always apologized, even to his children when he realized he was wrong. He would beg apologies, till you said you forgave him. May Allah forgive his sins, Ameen.

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    • Hala

      im proud and happy and grateful that such amazing fathers excist and wish people would talk about the good points of muslim men (i,e, how fathers like yours excist), rather than point out only the bad points
      im sick and tired of muslim men being made out to be like nazi villians or something and this proves to me that they are most definetly not
      allah grant your father jannah
      ameen
      salaamz
      your sister
      hala

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  30. Z

    And what advice would you give young girls who don’t have fathers that give them love and attention?

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  31. shahgul

    Dear Z,

    Our dear father passed away when my baby sister was only 8. We shored her up with the stories of the great father we had. We repeated the good things he said to us. We related to her how much he loved her. I still tell her and her husband the story of how Baba got up from lunch to go buy her an egg. She grew up to be just fine. She still does sometimes show anger at having lost her father so early, but cheers up when we tell her the stories.

    Some little boys and girls have no stories to fall back on. Our dear prophet, may Allah bestow his peace and blessings upon him was born after his father died, and lost his mother soon. For such a child, strength can come from other sources. An aunt, an uncle, a brother, a sister, a mentor. It takes a village to raise a child, and that is who should be recruited. When Allah closes one door, he opens several in its place.

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  32. Muslima

    Thank you Shahgul for sharing the beautiful experiences with your late father. It brought tears to my eyes and made me realize the blessings of having my loving parents. Alhumdulillah.
    May Allah have mercy on your father and raise his levels.

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  33. Z

    Shukran Shahgul for sharing your insight :) but what I had meant was dealing with negativity, criticism, and everything else Anonymouse mentioned above coming from the father…

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  34. areenuz

    asalamoalaikum

    i must say this article was one i was really hoping to read, and was well written, mashaAllah. i totally agree on all fronts, i think if i had a good relationship with my father, which i don’t, my emotional upbringing would have been better. I don’t have a normal day without crying because of this inadequacy in my life (from both my parents). Due to my dad’s extreme lack of respect for my mom, i have gotten such a horrible image of what a husband is like and would be like, which always comes to haunt me when i think about marriage.

    Also, i never have communication with him because he hates to be at home. He tries his best to stay away from home and stay and work which is where he finds his bliss. My mom goes through so much at home raising three kids, two being disabled. If she had a man to help her, like my father or brother (who turned out the same way as my father), our lives would be much better. I have been emotionally hurt through both my parents, but what relates to this article is my dad’s behavior.

    No matter what, if a father doesn’t give attention to this special bond a father and daughter should have, it will damage the daughter in a major way that may or may not have been intended. May Allah make the brothers of our Ummah fathers, and great fathers at that. Ameen.

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  35. Secrecy

    Bismillah,

    — And this post reminds me that…. I LOVE MY DAD!

    On that note,

    I think at times, fathers may have grown up without much affection, cuz they’re boys and they need toughening up, this MAY have been their upbringing, so when they do have their little girls, as they grow up, they may find it hard to be affectionate with them. Then starts their own struggle, of spending that quality time with them and keeping up with their onn personality.

    I have found that as a daughter starts to reach that marriagable age, the father does become wary and his love is much more evident.

    I have loads of uncles (all with cool personalities mashaAllaah!) and let’s just say they’re all different and mashaAllaah the way they handle their daughters is great, all different and unique in their own ways.

    I repeat… “O Muslim men… be men! Be fathers. Be fathers of the greatest Muslim women this Ummah has ever known!”

    — You have no idea what a gem of daughter you have and the more you give her time, the more she will be THE greatest women this Ummah has seen and you will see the fruit of you work. If your sincere… Allaah ‘azza wa jal will not let you down inshaAllaah!

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  36. layla

    Interesting to some extent, but blandly superficial, and fails to ask more interesting questions about the roles of Muslim American women. What about only female Muslim children of immigrants? How do impossible expectations–or perhaps vaguely defined, or nonexistent ones–subtly shape a woman’s relationship to her community? I am one of the unfortunate few who, despite having had varying degrees of contact with other Muslims during childhood, as well as going to mandatory Sunday school, found that most contact with the Muslim “community” (scare quotes refer to my hesitancy to say this word for reasons I can’t go into here) for the most part reaffirmed my sense of isolation, ill-fittedness, and inability to develop a healthy Muslim identity without guilt or shame over internal conflicts that were for the most part taboo.

    I think my point stems larger than this article, which cannot fill in all of the gaps or account for all of the blind spots inherent in “Muslim American” literature, and that perhaps my frustration points to something larger–that the prevalence of Islamaphobia makes a community less willing or able to address the intricacies of Muslim American youth that, at least in my case, happens to also be relevant to social and behavioral problems that contribute to eating disorders, substance abuse, codependent relationships, but–perhaps most importantly–a sense of bafflingly anxious, inferior sense of self in respect to the ability to connect with progressive Muslim potentiality. Not an entirely new topic, but one that I believe is still inchoate, and makes me wonder if I have the guts, or steadfastness, to explore such topics on my own.

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    • Hala

      huh? we are talking about improving father daughter relationshiops not fixing all the problems of the muslim community worldwide
      if you think you cant say the word muslim community because of a lack of community
      tell me if you can say christian community or hindu community or whatever without the marks
      salaamz

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  37. Hala

    salaamz
    let me repeat what everyone said and say “this is an amazing post”, because it actually is mashallah and a great issue to highlight , i felt i could always talk to my father about everything you know besides the menses stuff, he didnt seem to even notice when i had it because we always pray together in the living room like a jamaat and whenever im not praying id be wondering round the house and hed be calling me wondering why i was suddenly interested in “praying upstairs”, the same for all my sisters too, but apart from that we could talk to him about everything, i wasnt scared of voicing my opinions on things and he was always the one who kinda spoiled everyone , i actually think my mum was more strict then my dad because she obviously had to tell us wrong from right whereas he saw everything we did as sweet or innocent etc, i think my father was a great dad and probably a great husband since my parents stayed together for all their lives so far, i never saw him yell or argue with my mother, he doesnt even shout at us, he does give advice though, if he saw something bad he would tell us about it and express why he wouldnt want us to do it, once my older sister said, “besides allah, i would abstain from doing bad things in order to never shame my fathers name”, because he truly did not deserve any shame or embarasement, he is respected by everyone who knows him and sometimes we gave him trouble thats what happens when you have a million kids and 5 of them are girls :O,he never allowed anyone to hurt us, never hit us (the girls) and never allowed our brothers to hit us . he normally just used to call everyone some nights turn off the television the computer the phones and talk about us about education about islam, i always apreciated him and we all agree wallah he is a role model for me, if i can be as great a mum/wife as he was a dad, and even as relgiious a muslim itd be mission acomplished but im doing alright as i aint even married yet
    so yeah be nice to your daughters theyll always love you irregardless
    xxx
    hala

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  38. KhadijaK

    I’m 17 and have both parents in my life, Alhamdulilah, but its like my father is only there physically, I speak to him once in awhile like maybe for one day a week/month here and there a small conversation, and then it stops suddenly.

    I haven’t spoken to him in weeks now, we dont even look at eachother. Sometimes I want to talk to him but something just holds me back so I just stay silent. He has 7 children,in total, four daughters but he doesn’t talk to any of his daughters, my younger sisters (15, 13) can’t even be in the same room as him, when he enters they leave. I wonder if he actually notices. Most times it’s like we don’t exist to eachother.

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  39. Farhad

    Thank you for the article. We were thinking the same thing – check out MuslimFathers.com.

    We also have an active facebook page.

    Farhad

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  40. Zaynab Ameen

    Salam,

    I didn’t realise until now just how much my father has affected my personality, the way I interact with others, the way i protray myself and the decisions i make in life. You see, my father is what i would consider a ‘control freak’. He is overprotective of my mother, myself and my sisters. We comes from a middle-eastern ‘back-home’ mentalilty and he seems to always want to be in control. I hate to talk about it, but he has somewhat of a big ego. He finds it very difficult to communicate with us all and that’s why he tends to get very angry, shout and sometimes say abusive things to me. He was always the ‘man of the house’ and controlling everything we did and i feel that i was never able to build my ‘own identity’ and i have developed alot of his attributes.

    – i find it difficult to communicate
    – i find it difficult to express myself
    – i find it difficult to make my own decisions

    Unfortunately this has gone as far as to affect the relationship i am having with my husband at the moment. we are not communicating well and i think it is as a result of the negativity from my father; who was always reluctant to marry me to someone else outside our culture. i think this is a lifetime of nurturing that i and my husband must come to terms with and except. i do love my father, but in all honesty, i am happy my husband has none of those characteristics. He is very gentle and caring and always willing to listen and if it wasn’t for his patience, i don’t think he could cope with my (a mirror of my fathers’) personality!

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  41. sid24

    My dad dislikes me. I understand I am not perfect, but I come from a conservative family so I rarely do anything without my father’s permission. Whenever he calls my name it is added with a curse word or insult. He is always disgusted with me, but likes my brothers. Whenever he calls their name he says it with love or says dear child. I am always stressed when I talk to my father, because if I disagree with something he says he becomes furious to the point of throwing something. For a long time I thought this is how fathers in Islam had to be. I am an adult woman and am treated like a child. How do I make my father like me and have a healthy relationship with him?

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