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A Wake-Up Call For Muslim Parents





Out of all the hi-fi, over-hyped, glamorized, overpaid and stereotyped careers that make news today, peppered with extensive media attention such as red-carpet awards, talk-shows, exclusive interviews and photo-shoots, the single most important and pivotal occupation a person – especially a woman – can have, is that of being a parent.

It is this behind-the-scenes, get-down-and-dirty, round-the-clock job that very few people can do well, and majority of those who do, receive little credit for. Parenting is the most exhausting, fulfilling, demanding and satisfying role, responsibility and full-time job anyone can ever have. Whoever has become a parent would testify to its heady highs and, sadly, sometimes mortifying lows. The moment one sets eyes and holds in one’s arms a new life – a gift from Allah that is sent so miraculously, after months of excitement and anticipation – one changes forever. The joy one feels holds no bounds. This new ‘baby’ life gives rise to new adjustments in all existing relationships, which change in order to accommodate the new arrival. As many people will tell you, they also change once they have a baby.


However, after a few years pass, there are some typical statements that parents of any age can be heard making: “Kids nowadays are so ungrateful….”, “In our time, we were much more disciplined and obedient…”, “We never shouted at our parents the way kids answer us back nowadays….”, and of course, the ever-present “Because I said so!” Etc. I have hardly ever come across a parent who openly admits to having made a parenting mistake e.g. saying something like, “Had I not been lax about my daily prayers when my children were young, perhaps they too, would be more regular in their prayers today,” or “I should not have scolded my daughter in front of her friends. I think she deserves an apology,” More often than not, we find parents acting holier-than-thou and judgmental in front of their children, discussing their children’s weaknesses before friends and relatives, and detailing how difficult their children can make life for them. However, how often do we come across a parent who would readily apologize to their children for mistreating them? Or admit to being wrong in front of them?

On the contrary, parents hardly ever publicly admit to making mistakes in their children’s upbringing – at least, that is my experience. Once a young person becomes a parent, it’s all about enforcing rules, dictating orders, and establishing discipline, which is admittedly a necessary part of good parenting, but you have to have some leeway thrown in too. The young parent forgets what it was like as a child, to be caught red-handed, or worse, to be scolded or punished. It seems as if, now that a couple has become parents, they can get away with treating their children however they like. The moment the effect of their parenting mistakes manifests itself in their young children’s negative behavior, the latter are ceremoniously lectured or reprimanded. However, do the parents pause and reflect about which actions of theirs might have been the cause of that behavior?

When I became a parent, I realized just how prone I was to making parenting mistakes. For one thing, there are as many parenting styles as there are children. For another, you do not know which style will definitely work, until your child develops his or her own personality. Thirdly, you keep going through phases in your own life which keep changing your attitude and parenting style i.e. it’s a constant learning process for you as well – you keep making mistakes, and learning from them. It’s a trial-and-error methodology. Both parent and child keep going through these transitions, and adjusting their relationship according to them. To say the least, being a parent is a position of extreme responsibility and accountability before Allah – one for which one can be called severely to reprimand, if one takes it lightly. And here is why. Below are some ways parents are always at an advantage over their children, especially when the latter are minors:

Physical and financial authority:

Parents control their children’s movement within and outside the house. They control what they eat, what they wear, where they go, who they mingle with and what toys or accessories they buy. This makes a parent very strong as opposed to their child, in the first 2 decades of the latter’s life. Plus, children depend on their parents for money. They do not, and can not, earn money. Therefore, parents have almost complete control over how they bring up their children.

Having your own childhood buried in obscurity from your children:

Whether you were the nastiest kid in your class, getting regular detention; or you intermittently broke windows of every house in the neighborhood during ‘ball practice’, trashed your mother’s dresser every week, stole money from your father’s wallet, drove his car without his knowledge as a 16-year-old, applied Mom’s makeup when she was napping, prank-called strangers on the phone at night, or lied about your tryst at some mall with a “friend” – everything seedy or shady about your own youth gets hidden behind the hijab of time when you become a parent yourself. You get rid of all incriminating photographs, correspondence and videos. You don’t speak freely to your old friends in front of your teenagers. No one tells your teenager that you did not pray all the five prayers, wear the headscarf, or go to the mosque. No one tells them that you danced to loud music in your room and lied about your clandestine phone calls (“I was discussing my project with [best friend]!”) when Mom walked into the room.

However, if you are an Allah-fearing parent, have you really forgotten all those misdeeds?

The gift of forgetfulness (nisyaan) from Allah, that wipes out your early mistakes from your children’s memories:

Whether it was a nasty diaper-rash that made your infant scream in agony – one that was caused by your negligence in changing her diaper on time – (“Well, I was tired, so I fell asleep and forgot to change her diaper! I am her mother. Jannah lies at my feet. Lay off!”), or whether it was that tight slap on the cheek of your ‘terrible-two’ toddler when he yanked a food-laden plate off the dining table onto your lap – one that left him bawling; or the time when you didn’t wash your 3-year-old’s plates properly and she fell ill with diarrhea for a week; no one will be able to tell your children whether you were a lousy parent when they were babies, or an efficient one. Allah hides all your mistakes – whether unintentional or deliberate – behind the veil of the past. Your toddlers and minors are too young to remember when they were spanked without reason, humiliated or scolded for no fault of theirs [they were scapegoats to the mood swings or stress-highs you suffered as a result of your demanding job], or when their mattress stank because you didn’t bother washing their leaked excreta off it [“I’ll just throw it away and get a new one! What’s the big deal?”].

As a parent, you will always have the upper hand with your children, because Allah will hide your mistakes and misdeeds from them, keeping up your impression of faultlessness before them, making you their role-model – an ideal person free of human errors or weaknesses.

Having the Islamic injunctions regarding kind treatment of parents on your side as a perpetual trump-card in any argument:

The greatest “advantage” Muslim parents have over their children is the existence of Quranic ayaat and Prophetic ahadeeth that remind the latter of how their parents are the most deserving of good treatment from them. Sadly, however, sometimes parents use this as the most effective way of – excuse the terms I will use – emotionally blackmailing or manipulating their children to achieve their own desires and whims.

To the boy who refuses to marry the fashionista, insisting that he wants a hijab-and-abaya-wearing wife:

“Is this how you repay your mother, after all the years I have taken care of you? What will my relatives say, when they see this pardah-clad girl as my daughter-in-law?”

To the boy who refuses to pursue a job dealing directly with riba:

“Had you listened to me, you would not be sitting jobless today. Why not take up that bank job, albeit with dislike in your heart? At least you’ll get the perks. You have to support us both financially now that I have retired. It is your Islamic obligation.” [Notwithstanding the hefty retirement provident fund invested in a riba-based bank, which gets monthly “returns”!]

To the girl who insists on considering proposals only from men who are regular in prayers, who earn halal income and who will let her do hijab:

“You will then get proposals only from “mullah” families, who are not very educated or well-established in society.”

A parent who really and truly fears Allah will usually be a believer who focuses on giving others their rights instead of demanding their own. Hence, just because Islam has exhorted Muslims to be kind to their parents, doesn’t mean that parents use these injunctions to unjustly demand favors and servitude from their children. Rather, the Quranic verses and Prophetic narrations reminding Muslims about their parents’ great rights upon them are to be read and heeded more by children who have parents; not by parents who have children!

There are parents who, when they do not get along with their daughter-in-law, otherwise a good girl whom their son is pleased with, use the “proof” of the Prophet Ibrahim [علیہ السلام] and Caliph Umar [رضی اللّٰہُ عنہ] telling their sons to divorce their wives, in order to twist their son’s arm to do the same. There are parents who are insecure in their old age and whenever a visitor comes to see them, complain about how their offspring with their spouses fall short in fulfilling their rights. There are parents who are adamant that spanking is a very effective disciplinary method for minors, being fully aware that the Prophet Muhammad [صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم] never struck a child (he was father of 7) – “I do not know of any mother who doesn’t spank her child.” Birds of a feather flock together. Please look beyond your circle, Ma’am. :-)

Here are a few tips that might help Muslim parents in general.

Apologize when you hurt them: Saying sorry for your mistakes will exalt your ranks, and teach your children to do the same. For example, saying to your toddler: “I’m sorry I yanked your arm so hard on the road. I was afraid of the cars passing by you and was just being careful. I did not mean to be so harsh, beta,” would take a load off your back and make you feel better yourself.

Admit it to your child when you’re wrong and they are right: Children can help their parents a lot, especially when the parents are over fifty. The former are in touch with the latest trends and news. If the parent has a humble attitude instead of a “know-it-all” one, they can pave the way for positive learning on both sides.

More importantly, though, winning an argument should never be your goal just because you have rights over your children. Say “You are right” to them when they are. That way, you will be teaching them by example to give you the respect which you supposedly deserve as well.

Remember every day that you will be called to account for even the slightest discrepancy left in giving them their dues (“dhulm”): Just like all other relations in this world, children have rights upon parents, which they will be asked about. Just being conscious of this impending reality will enable parents to forego their children’s mistakes and shortcomings, and focus instead on their own method of upbringing their children – whether it will be accepted by Allah or not.

Seek forgiveness from Allah daily for your shortcomings as a parent: In Islam, any position of authority is a position of accountability before Allah, including parenthood. The more pious a person is, the more he fears Allah regarding the high positions he occupies in this world. That is why our pious predecessors would – literally – run away from the posts of judges and kings that were offered to them. Similarly, a Muslim parent keeps track of their shortcomings as a human being, and seeks Allah’s forgiveness for their mistakes.

It is obvious that – after having gone through the pains and strains of raising young children – parents are entitled to high rights over the former. This is Allah’s own compensation method of providing worldly “perks” for this tough job. However, focusing on what rights of yours others have to give to you, instead of what rights of others you have to give to them, is not the way of the earnest believing Muslim. If your children respect you, obey you and eventually, take care of you in your old age, they are doing themselves a favor. You, on the other hand, should not consider them an ‘investment’ for this world – desiring sons more than daughters because they earn money; making them marry into affluent families and pushing them into high-flying careers so that you get to choose which “big house” with the most servants to reside in, in your old age. Rather, you should consider your children an investment just for your own Akhirah. By that, I mean that you should just do your job in instilling Islamic values in them, by imparting Islamic knowledge to them and making them live an Islamic life. After that, what they do is between them and Allah and you are essentially a valued consultant in their lives.

I once heard a very pious and honorable Muslim advise us: “From birth to age 13, be strict in disciplining them; from 14 to 20, be their friend; after they are 21, let them go.”

Wise words, indeed.

Allah knows best and is the source of all strength.

Sadaf Farooqi is a postgraduate in Computer Science who has done the Taleem Al-Quran Course from Al-Huda International, Institute of Islamic Education for Women, in Karachi, Pakistan. 11 years on, she is now a homeschooling parent of three children, a blogger, published author and freelance writer. She has written articles regularly for Hiba Magazine, SISTERS Magazine and Saudi Gazette. Sadaf shares her life experiences and insights on her award-winning blog, Sadaf's Space, and intermittently teaches subjects such as Fiqh of Zakah, Aqeedah, Arabic Grammar, and Science of Hadith part-time at a local branch of Al-Huda. She has recently become a published author of a book titled 'Traversing the Highs and Lows of Muslim Marriage'. For most part, her Jihad bil Qalam involves juggling work around persistent power breakdowns and preventing six chubby little hands from her computer! Even though it may not seem so, most of her time is spent not in doing all this, but in what she loves most - reading.



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      April 21, 2015 at 11:53 PM

      I don’t understand why everyone who writes about ‘rebelling teens’ simply assumes that the parent didn’t teach their child islam, didn’t dicipline them, or doesn’t want ‘that religious girl/boy’ for them.

      Someone needs to talk about the rebelling kids who were lead by good example, sent to expensive islamic schools, extra quran and islamic studies classes, who’s mother did all of the parenting suggestions stated, like apologizing for wrong doing, admitting when the child is right, restricting friends, etc.

      It’s really maddening when one really does practice islam by the way of the salaf, leads by example (not missing prayers, fasting all of every ramadhan, going to lectures taking notes, sending kids to islamic school, etc, etc and all they can find on this ‘rebellion’ topic is: Well you MUST not have instilled islam in your home, you MUST NOT have been a good parent…. blah blah blah…….

      I wish all you who want to discuss this topic would stop assuming that children only rebel when in ‘bad’ islamic homes.

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        April 27, 2015 at 4:34 PM

        I could not agree with Karen more. Read any article or listen to any lectures regarding raising children and all comes back to what this article is talking about, stereotyping parents. If there are any articles or lectures that gives a balance look at this issue, please forward the link. In the end whoever Allah swt guides, nobody can misguide and whoever he lets go astray, nobody can guide. May Allah swt guide us and our children to straight path. Aameen

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        April 30, 2015 at 10:53 PM

        Asalamualaikum sister. I here you and I feel your pain. I see a lot of good di spline parents dealing with disrespectful kids. I believe this is a test from Allah. Keep on making dua for Allah to give you patient. Those lousy so called parents actually have good kids who respect and obey them. It sadness me these parents don’t pray wear hijab nothing. So stop being judgmental by the way Allah tastes those he loves. This is not a panshment. May Allah make among those who are patient Ameen .

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      August 30, 2016 at 7:52 AM

      I strongly believe that this article is not harsh at all
      So many children are brought up to only speak when spoken to
      Parents forget that we are all here to learn no matter the age and sometimes even children can teach
      Parents have little room for growth without awareness, so teach your child instead of dictate in order to receive
      Allowing a child to be a person through leading by examples could be a better way forward
      When a soul hurts big or small due the actions of another Allah is disappointed
      Communication is defintely key …
      Parents should learn to create an enviorment where children do not feel the need to run away
      Parents need to understand that they are only guides gifted by our creator, so honor your gift in turn the children will honor their gifts
      Love unconditionally
      Love always

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      The next Priminister

      October 29, 2016 at 3:20 AM

      I am a lost 12 year old muslim girl.
      I should be doing my essay on Bilal ibn rabah but something personal brought me here. I have grown up in a strict house on Quran, deen and education. My parents hit me but i have grown immune to the pain. My parents scream at me for things that are ridiculous! Every night i cry myself to sleep and prentend to be talking to Allah. I completely agree with this article. If you are a parents or a soon to be parent then take it from me hitting and screaming is never the answer.I go to a all girls muslim school and majortity of the girls their have social media and full custody of their ipad/iphone and their parents trust them. My parents? Allow me to have social media… But want to check through all my conversations, see who i follow, scroll through what i post. Its sickening. They take my ipad every night and are not planning to give me a phone. They also check through what apps i have, my google history and my photos. Hah the result? I hid my apps using a trick (those are the pros of your parents thinking your “useless” and “stupid”) Not to mention i have resorted to self harm. I am a straight A student that stresses a lot about education. Me and friend were planning to run away from home. Her parents whip her and are super religious yet she is swears the most, watches inappropriate movies and listens to music. WHY DONT YOU PEOPLE GET IT? THE MORE YOU RESTRICT YOUR CHILD THE WORSE IT WILL BECOME! One of my other friends parents trust her and do not abuse her they are kind and gives her privacy and she is such a beautifiul and pure and well mannered girl. I love my religion. My parents think im immature but even my teachers respect me. Some people are saying that this article is too harsh? Are you serious? What are you babies. If i a twelve year old goes through this and you cant simply get over a well needed wake up call?. Yeah call me stupid and immature. All i have ever needed my whole life was a loving family. And whenever i needed to talk to my parents they would tell me to stop feeling sorry for myself. Now i isolate myself from them and always talk monotone. My dads forcing me to wear a hijab. Whenever i go out with my family he would ask ” why arent you wearing a hijab?!”. I roll my sleeves up tonight and watch as a tear falls down my cheek onto my old scars.

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        December 7, 2016 at 6:52 PM

        Hi there, I hope you are doing better since you wrote this terribly sad message. The only advice I would offer, if you think you want to take advice from strangers on the internet, is to focus on getting an education, then move out of your house when you can. Breaking free of a toxic household requires a lot of courage but it can be done. Once on your own, you can restrict contact with your family as you wish, and in time your relationship with them might even improve since you’re not at their beck and call. My heart goes out to you, you seem very alone and sad. Things will get better if you work towards breaking free. Take care.

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    March 30, 2009 at 7:55 AM

    A nice article mashaAllah. However I don’t think letting them go after 21 is a really a good idea ;) . Just my opinion.

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      January 28, 2014 at 1:47 PM

      what do you mean?
      a 25 yr old living with theri parents is no doable! alot of the times, they are in situations where the enviornment is TOXIC. How am I going to prosper with a father that refuses marriage proposals,makes my life miserable,yells at me for nothing, breaks me down daily???
      plus, in the are a legal adult by age 18. So you better find a good relative to live with. There is no rule that you must be living with parents, especially if they are emotionally,physically abusive towards you.

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        November 29, 2015 at 1:43 PM

        Salaam all,
        Sister Diana u r not alone, tho u at least have some really good relatives, who r willing to support u.
        I request all who r reading this to make dua for me and my sisters, especially the 2 who, like me, hope to get married to good Muslim men, in sha Allah.
        Sometimes life seems so unfair, and u don’t know what to do cuz no matter what u do, it doesn’t seem to get better. Your patience is tested everyday…and apparently I fail every time despite trying. I feel so weak and hopeless…

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    Slim |

    March 30, 2009 at 9:04 AM


    Great article. I find that as long as 1 parent has gentleness and compassion, this will help the child grow.

    For example, if the father is a tyrant and never apologizes and always forces the child to do their biding, then having a mother that is soft and always having a shoulder to lean on will really help the child be more grounded.

    I have seen cases where both parents are strict and this causes the child to rebel as they get older because the bond of love and connectedness wer never formed.

    SubhanAllah, the hadith about being their friend from age 14 onwards is key. Without communication and seeking first to understand, parents can easily lose their children in our world today with all its distractions and tribulation.

    May Allah make us all good parents and give us pious, righteous children.

    Slim |

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    March 30, 2009 at 9:12 AM

    -Salaams-.. Nice article mashaa-allaah…. I think this needs to go beyond websites as many parents today dont get time to surf the net.. I mean the older generations….

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    Ahmad AlFarsi

    March 30, 2009 at 10:35 AM

    I once heard a very pious and honorable Muslim advise us: “From birth to age 13, be strict in disciplining them; from 14 to 20, be their friend; after they are 21, let them go.”

    This reminds me of the statement of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab:

    “Play with them for seven [years], teach them manners for seven
    [years], and let them enjoy your companionship for seven [years].”

    لاعبوهم سبعا و أدبوهم سبعا و صاحبوهم سبعا

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    March 30, 2009 at 12:54 PM

    this is so scary…im not even married yet, but i guess i’ll have to keep this information in the back of my head til I have kids

    on a slightly funny note, this past weekend was my father’s birthday (61, ma sha Allah) and he was telling me funny stories he did at my age (24). We both got a kick out of watching my mom be like “what was wrong with you?”. the exact opposite of the article above’s advice.

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    March 30, 2009 at 4:40 PM

    salaam, the article was good and beneficial. However, the other side also needs to be related. The tone of the article was a bit harsh on our elders. I think a tone that reflects greater adab is needed. I only say this because as Muslims we should strive for ihsan in our deeds.

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      July 28, 2016 at 5:18 AM

      I don’t think this article is harsh in my opinion, perhaps not harsh enough, i think it reflects a reality for many people, it touches on a subject that is generally ignored.
      I was abused, ridiculed and humiliated, by my father for all of my childhood,
      The abuse of my childhood led me to suffer with an eating disorder for almost 15 years, I suffer from extremely low self esteem, and have anxiety when i leave the home, I sit here a lonely older women unmarried with no children…….. my father never wanted another man in the family, he didn’t want anyone to undermine his tyranny, I ran away from home in my early teens, and lived on the streets trying to escape the misery of my home life, I am lucky to be alive, any one with an imagination can envision what happens to an adolescent girl who lives on the street.

      In what way was this article harsh? Allah blessing someone with the status of parenthood, does not bless them with the right to abuse that gift, many parents make mistakes and do wrong and this should be discussed, because it impacts on the life of others, because it is a reminder for those blessed with children that they are not infallible in their status, it gives them an opportunity to access their behaviour and correct it, and it also validates the experiences of people like me, who have suffered and are still suffering at the hands of parents who have been ungrateful and disobedient to Allah,

      I wish with all my heart for a child, its probably too late for me now, but if Allah ever bless my life in that way, i would try my best to be grateful, and i guess that would include, to not abuse the gift he has given me,

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        August 30, 2016 at 7:47 AM

        you are an angel . . . may Allah bless your heart with many gifts going forward if not in this life in the life after

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    March 30, 2009 at 9:18 PM

    JazakAllahu khair sister for the wonderful article. May Allah Ta’Ala make us thawaab-e-jaariya for our parents, and our kids the same for us all.

  9. Amad


    March 30, 2009 at 9:24 PM

    This is a good reminder, from the other “forgotten angle” of the child. Apologizing to your child for your mistake is really so hard, but I agree that if you do it, it certainly helps you lighten your burden as well as teaching the child a valuable lesson that it is okay to make mistakes, but it is not okay to stop there; rather, admitting your mistake is what real men (women) do!

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    March 31, 2009 at 5:43 AM

    Jazakumullah everyone, for your feedback.
    Brother Abu Hafsa – perhaps I should have elaborated what my teacher meant when she said “let them go at 21”. She meant, do not guide them unless they ask for advice, and do not interfere much in their lives, or try to control them, after this age. However, this happens after the initial Islamic foundation has been laid (during childhood), so if parents have worked hard before this age and brought up their children with taqwa, they will always be approached by the latter for all important matters in their lives. So it won’t be like totally letting them run wild or not doing “nahee unil munkar” with wisdom when required. And it was not implied that children should be physically estranged or anything like that.

    Brother Ahmad – thank you for providing this valuable reference. It adds so well to the article content.

    Brother Farhan – this was the intention of this article — to make young parents realize that parenting of young people is a task they will be questioned about before Allah; so, they should be careful and heedful of Allah with regards to their children. Alhamdulillah, most humble parents like yours are still around, teaching their children even with their own past mistakes.

    Brother Usman – Jazak Allahu Khairan for your reminder. Most of this article focuses on younger parents (aged 25 – 35) who have infants, toddlers and minors as children. The reason for addressing them was to make them conscious of the great task they have on their hands, and to remind them to fear Allah even if Allah has granted them enormous rights as a result of their parental position. Elders are mentioned in the latter part of the article. I feel that quoting real-life statements, which I have heard myself, or which my friends have heard from their families, always adds to the relevance of the topic being discussed. No names were mentioned. But you are right, that we should maintain our tone to give adab to elders. However, the parents addressed mostly are those of my age-range.

    The thing with being older is, that no one is left to chastise you for your errors e.g. if someone is 65 years old, they probably do not have many of their own elders around anymore to correct their mistakes (like parents do). Consequently, one fitnah of old age is that a person might fall into the trap of thinking they are always right, and of imposing their will on their adult children, unless they are Allah-fearing and humble. I personally know of some parents – may Allah guide them – who create obstacles in the path of their adult children when the latter want to act upon Islam (I know, because I am approached for advice by such people’s children). A father might tell his son to earn money unlawfully, a 50+ mother might encourage her daughters to do tabarruj, and, I seek refuge from Allah, I know of a mother-in-law who secretly sent a talisman into the house of her sunnah-observing daughter-in-law, despite knowing that the latter is averse to amulets and the like. What did the latter do? Like most obedient offspring, she remained quiet and let the issue go when she found out, but was infuriated nevertheless; however, on being politely confronted, the mother-in-law remained unwavering in her stance, claiming that she had her son’s best interest at heart. No admissions, no apologies, not even a humbled demeanor. Then there was a mother who arrived at her daughter’s susraal [in-laws’ house where the latter lived] in her time of need. In her concern for having things go her way, she said some nasty things to her daughter’s in-laws, souring her relationship with them for good. To date they remain aloof from her, and she remains unflinching in her stance that she did nothing wrong. Since there was no apology, no attempt at righting things, things remain stiff and uncomfortable; as for the innocent daughter, she is perhaps in the worst position after her mother’s actions.

    وَإِذْ قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ لأَبِيهِ آزَرَ أَتَتَّخِذُ أَصْنَامًا آلِهَةً إِنِّي أَرَاكَ وَقَوْمَكَ فِي ضَلاَلٍ مُّبِينٍ

    Prophet Ibrahim [علیہ السلام] pointed out to his polytheist father, the error of his mushrik ways, by saying,

    “Indeed I see you and your nation in open error/misguidance.” [6:74]

    Most young people are too respectful of their elders to point out to them that they are wrong, even politely and lovingly, the way Prophet Ibraheem did. And most just remain quiet. However, should the da’ee also remain quiet about the mistakes of elders, just because of their age? Or should their errors be pointed out without mentioning names, so that they can be invited to repent?

    For example, when a young woman is forced by her mother and aunts to dress up in provocative, tight clothing on weddings, to make her long hair hang loose and dress up like a doll, so that she is flaunted before men to attract proposals – just because her age has passed 28 years and she is not yet engaged: should she mutely obey them? Do the elders have the right to do this to her? This girl would come crying to me, and disclose that whenever she would tearfully protest to her mother, she’d be reminded of the latter’s right as a parent – that of total obedience. “Just tell me outright that you don’t want to get married!” she’d be warned.

    Elders are as needy of advice and Islamic reminders as are the younger lot. We all are sinners and we all need to be shaken (or given a wake-up call) in order to be motivated to look at our mistakes and seek repentance for them. But of course we should maintain a respectful tone, which is a mandatory part of our Deen. I sincerely apologize for any tactlessness in my attempts at humor in the article.

    As for the other side of the story, Abu Abdullah’s post “Forget you, Mom!” couldn’t have been better-timed. It presents the other side of the story very adequately alhamdulillah. I am also toying with the idea of a future post representing the ‘other’ side of the story – how offspring should respect and care for their parents, no matter what the latter do or say.

    Allah is the Source of All Strength.

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    March 31, 2009 at 11:39 AM

    (”Well, I was tired, so I fell asleep and forgot to change her diaper! I am her mother. Jannah lies at my feet. Lay off!”),

    Is the hadith “paradise lies under the feet of the mother “….saheeh???

  12. ibnabeeomar


    April 1, 2009 at 1:15 PM

    great article, and much needed, jazakiallahu khayr

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    April 1, 2009 at 1:48 PM

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    April 1, 2009 at 10:29 PM

    very good article.Examples,u gave r soo true.

  15. Avatar


    April 2, 2009 at 12:05 AM

    What about children who don’t want to get married based on Islamic principles, what do parents do about that? Should the parent use the phrase “Is this how you repay your mother, after all the years I have taken care of you” then?

    I pose this question rhetorically, I believe that no parent should say this whatever the situation, but when you have tried it all, you grab on to the one thing that you have left. Of course, children are not always the pious ones, shown by the examples you’ve used in your article. It is more often the case especially in this society. I agree that parents should be more humble, respectful and demonstrate this through their actions. But your article is one sided. I speak as a parent of 4 young adults and yes I represent the “older” generation not surfing on the internet. The internet is acting as a great divide in the generations and causing many a rift and problems with devout or non-devout (is that a word) youth and their counterpart parents. This is a topic desperately in need of a good article as well.

    There are cliques of youth who believe their “practice of faith” is the correct one, without truly understanding the roots of their parents beliefs and finding a way to create a good understanding or “be-friending”. There are issues which plague both generations and requires open, understanding, respectful dialogue on both parts.

    • Avatar


      January 31, 2014 at 3:17 PM

      Sis there are millions upon millions of articles and lectures
      that tell us that as children we are to honor our parents…
      “Honor thy mother & father” is even a common knowledge
      in the world’s most heavily populated religion Christianity.
      This article is addressing it from the other way around, bc
      there is a shortage of any religious things saying “Thou
      must be humble before children” so this author is trying
      to remind us of how us as parents have to be to children.

      “Keep me away from wisdom which does not cry, philosophy which does not laugh and greatness which does not bow before children.” -Khalil Gibran

    • Avatar


      January 31, 2014 at 3:27 PM

      sis I am sorry about your situation and I hope
      mY reply helps in your deciding “what to do”.
      First what to NOT do is violate Islam or go talk
      bad about them unless they are in violation of
      your rights. What TO do is I would turn to his-
      tory – there was someone in your same situation
      …Prophet Noah SW… who’s son didn’t want to
      be a Muslim. He just would not become Muslim.
      Look at what Prophet Noah SW did and that is
      what to do. Hang in there sis 4now! …Peace…

  16. Avatar


    April 2, 2009 at 1:20 PM

    Masha’Allah this was a very nice article.

    I think the bottom line is this, parents of children (whatever age), need to foster a balance between discipline and open, easy-going communication with their children. Problems usually happen with parents lead to far to one end and the other is stunted. Obviously the stereotype with immigrant parents is that they focus too much on discipline and obedience without developing an open relationship with their kids. However, I have definitely known aunties who have a great balance and I see the closeness they have now their young adult kids. The flip is American/Western parents who are stereotyped for being too much into being “open” and “relaxed” while failing to discipline their kids or fulfill the consequences they said they would give. I think successful relationships lie in the middle.

    One great book I love is “Screamfree parenting” by Hal Runkel. It’s not a 1, 2, 3 magic sort of book. It has principles that are Islamically sound and leaves a lot of room for you to do things you way. I read it after I had my second child (when my first was still recovering from leaving only-child status =) ) and I loved it.

  17. Avatar

    Umm Ismael

    April 2, 2009 at 3:43 PM

    Asslam u alaikum wr wb
    Much needed article.Jazakillah Khair.The other day I let off my frustration on my 2 year old by screaming at him. The actual reason behind the scolding was a fight with my husband. I shudder to think of what negative impacts i can leave on my child if i dont handle myself emotionally.The greater the rank, the greater the need to change. I also believe that these attitudes differ geographically.The sub continent experiences a greater ” typical” structure in the household than the rest of the muslim world.Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    • Avatar


      January 31, 2014 at 3:21 PM

      wow astghfirra Lah…
      I commend you for
      recognizing your er-
      ror sis our children
      should ever ever be
      treated like emotion-
      al trash cans auzhu
      bi Lah. May God &
      your child forgive u
      and me too for past
      & future. …Peace…

  18. Avatar

    Faraz Omar

    April 5, 2009 at 3:54 AM

    once again. masha Allah a good article. may Allah accept it from u, increase ur ikhlaas n give u istiqaamah

  19. Avatar

    Sadaf Farooqi

    April 5, 2009 at 9:42 AM


    QK – ma’am or sir (can’t make out whether you are the father or mother of 4 adults, masha’Allah), jazak Allahu khairan for commenting and giving us your point of view. Your point is very valid, and I appreciate your providing us the other side of the story. I agree that this article does not present the flip side of the problem — that of what sincere and humble Muslim parents should do when their concerns for their offspring are valid, based on Islamic principles, and when their adult progeny refuse to heed their advice, having their own beliefs and understanding of Islam? I think that should be the topic of my next post! :)

    Umm Ismael – I think you are right that in the East, parents and children are sometimes less communicative and there is more of a generation gap. Why – again, that can start a whole new discussion. But I think Muslim families in the West are closer, more because of the fact that there is no extended family system there, and Muslims focus a lot more on their children’s Islamic upbringing, due to the fitnah-filled environment. Perhaps that’s why parents and their children are much more close and open in communication. Allahu A’lam.

    As Olivia has rightly stated, parents should focus on striking the perfect balance between discipline/tarbiyah and frankness/communication. That can only occur, in my humble opinion, if parents strive to maintain a high level of taqwa (Allah consciousness) and daily istighfaar for their parenting mistakes. Reading up on human psychology also helps a lot in parenting e.g. why do children go through their “terrible-two’s” and why do teenagers rebel? Reading up on human behavior (psychology) really can help keep parents keep in tune with childrens’ behavior, knowing what is normal and what is not, only to find out that what they might be taking too seriously is actually just a passing phase. I did that with my daughter when she was two. She had the most disrespectful and rebellious stance against me at times, and just when I was at my wits’ end, about to pull my hair out, I read up on this stage of children, only to find out that this behavior is “normal”, and would pass — which it thankfully did, alhamdulillah!

    Allah knows best.

  20. Avatar


    April 19, 2009 at 10:28 AM

    well said, ma sha’ Allah.

    I look forward to more postings of this nature – ma sha’ Allah :)

  21. Avatar


    April 24, 2009 at 7:51 AM

    “Pobody’s Nerfect”

    The article was a bit rambling but made some very good points. mashaAllah

  22. Avatar


    April 25, 2009 at 7:49 PM

    subhanallah! great article… but i was kind of expecting a little more on a parent’s mannerisms in influencing a child’s behavior. so, for example, when a parent is unreasonably sarcastic towards the child (or maybe even annoyed by the child), the child learns to behave that way with his younger siblings.

    another example, when a parent enforces not practicing islamic pillars because they will be burdensome on the child, the child learns to ignore islamic pillars (praying fajr on time, fasting during ramadan during the school year) or considers the islamic pillars as difficult obligations to be fulfilled, drudgingly. as compared to a parent who encourages the child to do ibadat before they become an obligation on the child, the child learns to enjoy his commitment to Allah. or, further comparing that parent to a parent who mandates the pillars of islam for a child upon whom it is not obligatory, the child learns to detest the compulsion of fulfilling the duties to Allah.

    • Avatar


      January 31, 2014 at 4:01 PM

      It’s not ALWAYS or ONLY the parents who decide the fate of
      adults. That’s why we have intellect. We can undo damage
      they done and just as well we can throw away good. As an
      obvious note of course children are sponges & parents are
      “schools”, particularly the mother, so a horrid mother will
      leave her children with the gargantuan task of having to
      undo everything they’ve learned, and a good mother will
      have eQuipped her children with all they need to thrive…
      both of which will be at the hands of the ADULT CHILD
      and up to them and not the parents on what they will
      or will not do with the remainder of their life …Peace…

  23. Avatar


    January 11, 2010 at 5:52 AM

    Though I have my reservations about many Islamic injunctions, I foudn this to be an excellent article. Good job.

  24. Avatar


    March 5, 2010 at 11:28 AM

    i am really afraid of my parents and there tyrant associate who always have taken away my job no matter how hard i try ,my parents associate are really powerfull ,rich and influential this is my ninth job in a row i dont no what to do and where to go whereever i go i face my tyrant parents and there legacy

  25. Avatar


    March 5, 2010 at 11:33 AM

    hi my name is zeeshan i am living on edge just because of my parents they neither give me money neither do they allow me earn it ,i dont know what to half the day just passes away in thinking that my parents and there tyrant associate would take away my job i would be left penniless ,i really feel insecured just because of my parent and there powerfull and tyrant associate who are really rich and powerfull who tend to take away my job every now and then i dont know what to do i need some really good suggestions to get ris of my parents and there tyrant associate ,i have seen my parents abusing me right from the age of five,plz help me

    • Avatar


      January 31, 2014 at 4:05 PM

      sorry :(
      can you
      go to the
      for help?

  26. Avatar


    March 22, 2010 at 12:45 AM

    Assalam Alaikum,

    I have gone through the article very thoroughly and thank every one for educating us in the light of islam. I want genuine advice from all of my brothers and sisters on the matter that I have been facing since I got married to Alhamdulillah a very good muslim.

    I am well educated girl, working for a multinational company, I have well been trained about Islam, a muslims’s rights by my parents Masha Allah. I belong to a decent family where every one is educated and know duties in Islam very well. I pray regularly as often as I get time. I read Quran and try to understand it. I follow Hadees and sunnah. My husband is a very gentleman person. He too does the same and respects everything in Islam.

    Now let me describe what the situation is in our family.
    I am staying with my Husband’s younger brother age 23, his mother and his father.
    His father is posted in some different city. So we remain 4 people in the house (me, my husband, his brother, his mother)
    His mother never prays a single Namaz, Had it been Juma or Ramzan, she will not pray at all. Her favorite job is just watching TV. She watches TV 24hrs. His brother doesn’t do anything, unfortunately he is involved in bad habits at the age of 23 he is still studying in 11th Standard. He is addicted in some habits which is prohibited in Islam (some adultery habits) His mother knows everything about this but doesn’t take any actions.
    Me and my husband is responsible for every single work to carry out the house hold activity. Right from the buying vegetables and food till cooking them. I go to work every day 9 oclk and come back by 7 or so. I cook in the morning and come back cook for the dinner, Talk to his mother spend all the time her until 10 until we are feel sleepy. My husband spends all of his time with her. Its 4 months of our marriage now. We get time for each other only when we are going for sleep. His mother tries to listen if we talk something in our bedroom, and ask him what did you talk to your wife? She never allows me going out with my husband anywhere, if we get such opportunity then she will send his brother with us so that he may know what did we talk. I don’t have any one in this city my parents reside in different city. She never told before marriage that she will not allow my parents inside our house. Now she is telling they wont come, I will decide everything. Who will give them food who will work for them. Alhumdolillah my husband ha got all of his relatives in this city, but nobody comes to his house, they don’t have any contacts with any of the relatives. This was an arrange marriage, they never let us meet their relatives.

    If my husband is just going on terrace he is supposed to seek permission from her. We cant do a single thing with our own will. For every single thing except going to toilet we need to seek her permission. Everyday before going to bed we need to ask her if we can sleep now. My husband comes from office at 7. and all the time he sits with her just to talk to her and entertain her. She doesn’t go out for a single minute and never leave us alone. Every time she complains she is lonely she is lonely and we don’t care for her.
    We advised her to please go and spend one week with your husband u will feel good. But she doesn’t listen, and say this is my house who are you to order me where to go and where not. She is lots of proud. For every single thing she will tell me that her son is an engineer and she made him, she educated him. She will sit in our bed room until she wants had it been 11 or 12 midnight. Despite of having a tiring day in the office and at home we have to bear this. My husband doesn’t say anything and says she is a mother and he has to respect her.
    Alhumdolillah I am also an engineer and come from a very respectable and good muslim family. Where Namaz roza these are the first priorities for us and rest come later. If my husband will ask her to pray namaz and keep her busy she will scold him that who are you to teach me. His father doesn’t have any control on his wife. He listens to her whatever she says. She is so much demanding that sometimes I doubt who is the wife its me or her. My husband takes her to movies hall, so that he gives her a good week end, dine her in good restaurants, I never complain on these things. Just kept praying Allah give me lots of patience.

    Recently after doing all these they kicked us out of the house, and we kept roaming here and there looking for some rented place. They asked for all the money back from my husband that they spent in his education and fooding My Husband returned it.
    She is like made us awake the whole night and give us scolding, she knocks out door at 5 oclk and gives us lectures till 11 12 noon in one sitting. We are working for private companies, she will not think this. Many a times we don’t go to work coz she wanted to scold us. Now I have been fed up with all of this.
    I love my husband very much and am very happy with him. He also loves me.
    As we have already been kicked out we want to live separately. Also his brother has a bad eye on me. So I feel very insecure with staying them. I have not informed my Parents about all this happening with me coz I don’t want to bother them. I have not seen any married life happiness since I got married.

    Now his relatives are asking us to comeback and live with them coz his father is not keeping well coz of all this tension. Every one knows who is responsible for all this.
    But still they are forcing me and saying You are doing wrong You can not separate a son from his mother. I know in Islam its advised to stay in a separate house when you face this kind of situation.

    I beg all of you please advise me in the light of Islam.
    You can write me on —– (email address removed)

    Allah give me immense Patience to sustain myself.

    • Avatar

      Aashiq Hussain

      July 27, 2013 at 3:53 PM

      Walaikum Asalam Sister.
      First, You shouldn’t not share your personal matters with all on forums like this.


      Allah save us all, If I as a man mail you and then start getting personal with you it is gonna ruin me as well as you. It is how fitnahs start.
      When you share such problems with men, you are giving them a chance to get closer to you through that crack. Men (not all but most) are weak and can easily fall for that. And you might end up in hell(may Allah protect us all.)

      Second, There are rights for both wives and for mothers. each one has its own place in Islam. I don’t know the whole story or the other end of the story. If what you say is true then I would say, Islam is clear about your rights as wife. It doesn’t matter if she is your husband’s mother. He has to tell his mother that he loves her but he loves his wife too. The two loves are different. You parents have no right to ruin your marriage. They are supposed to give you free time. And as for your husband’s brother, He is NON-Mehram to you. I wouldn’t bring my wife to home where my brothers live with us. You have to draw a line there.

      My advice would be that you take your husband to some Alim or Immam or Sheikh, whatever you call them there. And take his advice based on Islamic Shariah.

      Don’t keep in contact with persons from internet. It will divide your husband and you. Have fun with you husband. See a shiekh probably one your husband respects. No need to throw your personal matters all over the internet or Streets.

      And pray to Allah.

      • Avatar

        Aashiq Hussain

        July 27, 2013 at 3:54 PM

        Oops! Now realized it is an old post :D

      • Avatar

        Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

        July 29, 2013 at 8:30 AM

        Thank you for pointing this out … email id removed

      • Avatar


        January 28, 2014 at 2:06 PM

        how is sharing ones problem “seductive”
        so if someoen was being molested, they should shut up about it?
        you are beyond ridiculouas!!!!! your no different than those corrupt imams who tell a abused wife to go back to her abuser husband!!
        youree of no help, A MUSLIM COMES TO YOU FOR HELP! and u reprimend her because her email is soooo sexy that men dont have the control to not email her?

        • Avatar

          Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

          January 29, 2014 at 12:19 AM

          From a moderator’s point of view, the email ID was removed as we don’t usually allow it (whether it is “seductive” or not).

          As for help, there are avenues of help but comments on a public post is not really much help.

          Best Regards
          CommentsTeam Lead

        • Avatar


          January 31, 2014 at 4:16 PM

          hahahah I know right !!
          GET A HOLD OF YOUR-
          selves brothers I am
          SURE the sister meant
          for OTHER SISTERS to
          email her not you

  27. Avatar

    Constipation Remedies 

    October 12, 2010 at 12:47 PM

    married life is actually the best if both the man and the woman compliments each other.**

  28. Avatar

    Hand Winch

    December 14, 2010 at 12:29 PM

    married life is of course a very happy life, all you need to do is find some happiness deep inside yourself ~;’

  29. Avatar


    May 16, 2012 at 6:47 AM

    JazakAllah Khair Dear Sister…
    May Allah accept your efforts and increase your knowledge.

  30. Avatar


    July 22, 2012 at 9:51 AM

    may i share your pic..tq

    • Avatar

      Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

      July 23, 2012 at 1:58 AM

      Dear Ahmad

      If you are referring to the image of the baby’s hand in an adult’s hand, it is not copyrighted by us so you do not need permission to use.

      If you are referring to something else please clarify.


  31. Avatar


    July 27, 2013 at 9:10 AM

    Great informative post! I am happy to read it…Waiting for next post!!!

  32. Pingback: #K3-365:43 | Vampira

  33. Avatar


    March 2, 2014 at 1:08 PM

    “The gift of forgetfulness (nisyaan) from Allāh, that wipes out your early mistakes from your children’s memories:”

    In neuroscience it is called brain damage. Child abuse, be it verbal or physical, causes damage to the hippocampus (short and long-term memory) and the amygdala (processing of memory and emotional reactions). This means that children who score high on the Adverse Childhood Experiences test often a) can’t remember large portions of their early childhood and b) find it difficult to regulate their emotions.

    80-90% of parents are still hitting their children from as early as one year old. While they may use euphemisms, such as “spank” and “smack”, to hide their shame, their purpose is behavioural correction through fear and pain; the punishment has to be severe enough for the child to stop whatever it is the parent doesn’t like.

    All studies on victims of child abuse find the victims, in adult life, far more prone to mental illness, addictions and substance abuse, and premature death. That’s right, you harm your child, you curse their life until death.

    That some are lucky enough to escape abusive childhoods with no damage is no more an argument for childhood abuse than the fact that some escape car crashes is an argument for dangerous driving. If I were seen in a car park, physically abusing my elderly father for forgetting where he parked the car, there would be outrage from onlookers; I could be arrested. However, when a mother shouts at and hits her child in a shopping centre, some actually applaud this disgusting behaviour.

    • Avatar

      Aly Balagamwala

      March 3, 2014 at 1:51 AM

      Dear oinkquack

      Our Comments Policy requires a valid name or Kunyah to be used when commenting. You may also use a blog handle provided your blog is linked, the email address is a valid one, and it is not advertising a product.

      Best Regards
      Comments Team

  34. Avatar

    Rafia Sohail

    June 5, 2015 at 7:50 PM

    This article is the best article i have ever read!!!!

  35. Avatar


    March 14, 2016 at 8:07 PM


    Thank you for this article alhamdullilah, it was a very big eye me. I am 19 now heading to university soon. I will be an adult. I wish I settle down in my early 20’s and this article really helped me understand the guidelines of parenting under Islam. Thank you brothers and sisters, May Allah guide us all..


  36. Avatar

    Ozayr Abdullah

    September 5, 2017 at 6:47 AM

    Mashallah to everybody body for their thoughts on this subject, remember its what you put in your childs heart, be kind sit with your child talk with them make friendly conversation with them tell them how much you love them,let them love Allah and fear him to, best of all make dua for you child and inshallah allah will accept it. Ameen

  37. Avatar


    October 3, 2017 at 10:15 PM

    Oh sister Sadaf! I have this article bookmarked on my internet browser so that i can come to it often.
    Jazakillah for writing such a reminder for parents like me – who get ungrateful and forget how desperately they wanted to have babies in the first place.

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      October 3, 2017 at 10:36 PM

      I am so glad that you still benefit from this article, sister. Wa iyaaki.

      Parenting can be challenging for us all. May Allah grant us ease. Ameen.

  38. Avatar


    November 22, 2017 at 2:39 PM

    What’s wrong w dancing to music in your room? Why are we criminalizing basically being a normal human being. The poor kid could be doing a whirling dervish in his room and you people will make him feel bad about himself. Get over it

  39. Avatar


    January 26, 2018 at 5:50 AM

    Barakallahu for this wonderful piece. this is the best article i have read since becoming a father nearly a year ago. This is a wake up call to all parents especially those who raise their kids with the mindset of them providing a better tomorrow for them after retirement.
    One little suggestion i will give as regard this article is that articles like this should not be gender specific. The article is mainly referencing our mothers. However, all the trait are found in some fathers too.

  40. Avatar

    Abdel Hakim

    May 26, 2018 at 11:17 PM


    This is a nice piece. I think parents have a responsibility. I took a lot of beating s growing up from a single father in the absence of a dead mother.
    After which, I was discarded but the advice I always got is always respect your parents dont talk back. If there is an issue you cant raise it, then when the issue raises itself then you’re bad for not raising it.

    People can be selfish, and I found that people can lie and do so casually.

    I dont think this article was harsh enough.
    Be good to your children and be patient with them. They are not an asset for you to torch whenever you feel like it.

  41. Avatar

    Lonely SIngle

    September 2, 2018 at 5:07 PM

    Many parents are needy nags, especially if they are divorced – by projecting their failed marriage onto their offspring, by degrading them and saying to marry any one cause it will end up in divorced anyway.

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Who Can We Trust?

Danish Qasim




Spiritual abusers are con-artists, and if they were easy to spot then they would be far less successful. That is why you must exercise vigilance and your own judgment above that of public opinion. Never let the person’s position make you trust them more than you would without it.

Spiritual abusers work covertly, present themselves well, and use their service as a cover beneath which to operate. The way to avoid them is to recognize their tactics and avoid being caught by them.

Blurring Lines

Spiritual abuse often begins with hard-to-spot precursors, with manipulators exploiting grey areas and blurring boundaries to confuse targets. For example, when setting someone up for illicit relations or secret marriage, teachers may begin with inappropriate jokes that lower boundaries.

They may touch others in ways that confuse the person touched as to permissibility, for example, men touching women on their hijabs rather than direct skin. They may inappropriately touch someone in ways that leave him/her wondering whether or not it was intentional.

There may be frivolous texting while the premise of engagement is ‘work only’. Boundaries may be blurred by adding flirtatious content, sending articles praising polygamy, or mentioning dreams about getting married. The recipient may struggle to pinpoint what’s wrong with any of this, but the bottom line is that they don’t have to.

While these tactics may be hard to prove, you don’t need to prove that you don’t want to be communicated with in this way and that you will not tolerate it. You can withdraw from the situation on the basis of your own boundaries.

One of the key challenges in standing up to spiritual abuse is the lack of confidence in calling out bad behavior or the need for validation for wrongs. We may be afraid to a question a teacher who is more knowledgeable than us when he is doing clear haram. However, halal and haram are defined by Allah and no human has the right to amend them. If a religious leader claims exemption to the rules for themselves or their students, that’s a big, bright, red flag.

Beware of Bullying

When you witness or experience bullying, understand that a Muslim’s dignity is sacred and don’t accept justifications of ‘tarbiyah’ (spiritual edification/character reformation) or breaking someone’s nafs (ego). If you didn’t sign up for spiritual edification, don’t accept any volunteer spiritual guides.

If you did sign up, pay attention as to whether these harsh rebukes are having a positive or negative effect. If they are having a negative emotional, mental, or physical effect on you, then this is clearly not tarbiyah, which is meant to build you up.

When abuse in the name of tarbiyah happens, it is the shaykh himself or the shaykha herself who needs character reformation. When such behavior goes unchecked, students become outlets of unchecked anger and are left with trauma and PTSD. This type of bullying is very common in women’s groups.

Trust Built and Trust Destroyed

There are different levels of trust, and as it relates to religious leaders, one does not need to investigate individuals or build trust for a perfunctory relationship. You do not need a high degree of trust if you are just attending someone’s general lectures and not establishing any personal relationship.

If you want to study something with an Islamic teacher, do so as you would with a school-teacher, understanding that their position does not make that person either exceptionally safe nor exceptionally harmful. Treat religious figures as religious consultants who are there to answer questions based on their knowledge. Give every teacher a clean slate, don’t have baseless suspicions, but if behavior becomes manipulative, exploitative, cultish, or otherwise abusive, don’t justify it either.

Personal accountability is a cornerstone of the Islamic faith and we have to take responsibility for our own faith and actions. There is no need to be suspicious without reason, but nor is there a justification for blind trust in someone you don’t know, just because they lead prayers or have a degree of religious education.

It is natural to ask ourselves whether people can be trusted after experiencing or learning about spiritual abuse. The answer is yes – you can trust yourself. You can also trust others in ways that are appropriate for the relationship. If you know someone well and they have proven over a long period of time to be trustworthy, keep secrets, and do not use you or take advantage of you, then it makes sense to trust that person more than a stranger or someone who has outward uprightness that you do not know well. That level of trust is earned through long-time demonstration of its characteristics.

Seeing someone on stage for years or relying on testimony of people impressed by someone should not convince you to lower your guard. Even if you do believe someone is pious, you still never drop your better judgment, because even saints are fallible.

Don’t Fall for Reputation

Never take other respected leaders praising or working alongside an individual as proof of his or her trustworthiness. It is possible that the teachers you trust are unaware of any wrongdoing. It’s not a reasonable expectation, nor is it a responsibility for them to boycott or disassociate themselves from another religious figure even if they are aware of them being abusive.

Furthermore, skilled manipulators often gain favor from respected teachers both overseas and domestically to gain credibility.

If one shaykh praises another shaykh, but you witness abusive behavior, don’t doubt yourself based on this praise. The praise may have been true at one time or may have been true in the experience of the one giving the praise, but no one knows another person’s current spiritual state as spiritual states can change.

Even if the abusive individual was previously recognized to be a great wali (saint), understand that there are saints who have lost their sainthood as they do not have isma (divine protection from sin or leaving Islam) like the prophets (upon them be peace) do. What was true yesterday, may not be true today.

Often praises of integrity, courage, and inclusiveness are heaped on men who support influential female figures. However, men who are praised as ‘allies,’ and thanked for ‘using their privilege’ to support female scholarship and the participation of women in religious organizations and events are no more trustworthy than those who don’t.

Abusers are often very image-conscious and may be acting to improve their own image and brand strength. Influential male and female religious figures also help one another with mutual praising and social-proofing. That is how the misdoings of men who are supportive of women are ignored, as long as they support the right politicized causes such as inclusive spaces and diverse panels.

Don’t be tricked into trust through a person’s credentials. An ijazah (license) to be a shaykh of a tariqa is purportedly the highest credential. It’s a credential that allegedly has a chain that goes all the way back to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), but that does not impart any of the Prophet’s character or trustworthiness in and of itself. A shaykh has to continuously live up to the ijaza and position. The position does not justify behavior outside of the sharia or any form of abuse. Scholars are inheritors of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) only to the degree to which they embody his character.

When a teacher who hasn’t spent adequate time with righteous shayukh abuses, they are said to lack suhba (companionship of the pious), and that is why they are abusive.

The truth is many of the worst abusers in traditional circles are highly certified, have spent adequate time with shayukh, are valid representatives of them, and are able to abuse because the previously mentioned credentials lead to blind trust.

Don’t let certifications about spiritual abuse, ethical leadership, or the like mean anything to you. Skilled narcissists will be the first to get such certifications and take courses because they know this will make people trust them more. You will see courses on ‘healthy leadership’ and ‘spiritual abuse prevention’ being taught and designed by them. There is a false premise behind such certifications that if religious leaders knew how abuse occurs and the damage it causes victims they wouldn’t do it. The fact is they know how abuse works, know how damaging it is, and don’t care. In a way, it’s good to have lessons on spiritual abuse from purveyors of abuse, just as learning theft prevention from a thief might be the most beneficial.

Don’t judge by rhetoric

Don’t look at the rhetoric of groups or individuals to see how seriously they take abuse. Spiritual abuse occurs in all groups. It is common for members of one group to call out abuse that they see in another group while ignoring abuse occurring within their own group.

Sufis who will talk about the importance of sharia, label others as ‘goofy-Sufis,’ and insist that real Sufis follow sharia, will very often abuse in private and use the same justifications as the other Sufi groups they publicly deride.

Many imams and religious leaders will talk publicly about the importance of justice, having zero-tolerance for abuse, and the importance of building safe spaces, while they themselves are participating in the abuse.

Furthermore, female religious leaders will often cover up secret marriages, and other abuses for such men and help them to ostracize and destroy the credibility of their victims as long as their political views align. Muslim mental health providers often incorporate religious figures when they do programs, and in some cases they involve known abusers if it helps their cause.

In some cases, the organization does not know of any abuse. Abusive individuals use partnerships with Muslim mental health organizations to enhance their image as a “safe person.” This is especially dangerous due to the vulnerability of those struggling with mental illness and spiritual issues, who may then be exploited by the abuser. It is a community responsibility to ensure the safety of these vulnerable individuals and to ensure that they do have access to resources that can actually help them.

Don’t judge by fame

One false assumption is that the local-unknown teacher is sincere while the famous preacher is insincere and just wants to amass followers. This contrast is baseless although rhetorically catchy.

The fact is, many unknown teachers desire fame and work towards it more than those who are famous. Other times the unknown and famous teacher may have the same love of leadership, but one is more skilled than the other. They both may also be incredibly sincere.

Ultimately, we cannot judge what is in someone’s heart but must look at their actions, and if their actions are abusive, they are a danger to the community. Both famous and non-famous teachers are equally capable of spiritual abuse.

Look for a procedure

Before being involved in an organization, look for a code of conduct. There is no accountability without one in non-criminal matters. Never depend on people, look at the procedures and ensure that the procedure calls for transparency, such as the one we at In Shaykh’s Clothing published and made free for the public to use.

Procedure also applies to an organizations’ financials. Do not donate money to organizations based on personalities, instead demand financial transparency and accountability for the money spent. There is great incentive for spiritual abusers to win the trust of crowds when it means they can raise money without any financial accountability.

But what about Husne-Zann? Thinking well of others?

Allah tells us يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اجْتَنِبُوا كَثِيرًا مِّنَ الظَّنِّ إِنَّ بَعْضَ الظَّنِّ إِثْمٌ

O You who believe, leave much suspicion, indeed some suspicions are sinful” (Quran 49:12).

From this verse, we see that some – not all negative opinions are sinful. The prohibition is partitive, meaning some bad opinions are permissible.

If someone punches you, it is not hunse-zann to assume that person just happened to stretch with a closed fist and did not see your face was in the way. This kind of delusion will lead to you getting punched more. To be wary of their fist isn’t a sinful level of suspicion.

Part of why spiritual abuse is difficult to detect is that its purveyors have a reputation for outright uprightness. They are thought well of in the community, and in many cases they are its pillars and have decades of positive service to their defense. Assuming that someone cannot be abusive simply because they have been a teacher or leader for a long time is not husne-zann. When facts are brought to light- like a fist to the face – it is delusional to assume they didn’t mean it that way.

If someone does something that warrants suspicion, then put your guard up and don’t make excuses for those actions. Start with a general guard and be procedural about things which require a procedure.  For example, if you are going to loan someone money, don’t just take their word that they will pay you back but insist on a written record. If they say they are offended, just say “it’s my standard procedure to avoid any confusion later on.” A reasonable person won’t have an issue with that. If someone mentions on the phone they will pay you $100 for your work, write an email to confirm what was said on the phone so there’s a record for it.

Lastly, and most importantly, never leave your child alone with a teacher where you or others cannot see them. Many cases of child sexual assault can be prevented if we never allow children to study alone with adults. There should never be an exception to this, and parents much uphold this as a matter of policy. Precaution is not an accusation, and this is a professional and standard no one should reject.

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Eid Lameness Syndrome: Diagnosis, Treatment, Cure




How many of you have gone to work on Eid because you felt there was no point in taking off? No Eid fun. Have you ever found Eid boring, no different from any other day?

If so, you may suffer from ELS (Eid Lameness Syndrome). Growing up, I did too.

My family would wake up, go to salah, go out to breakfast, come home, take a 4+ hour nap and then go out to dinner. I didn’t have friends to celebrate with and even if I did, I wouldn’t see them because we stuck to our own immediate family just as they did.

On the occasion that we went to a park or convention center, we would sort of have fun. Being with other people was certainly better than breakfast-nap-dinner in isolation, but calling that a memorable, satisfying, or genuinely fun Eid would be a stretch.

I don’t blame my parents for the ELS though. They came from a country where Eid celebration was the norm; everyone was celebrating with everyone and you didn’t have to exert any effort. When they moved to the US, where Muslims were a minority, it was uncharted territory. They did the best they could with the limited resources they had.

When I grew up, I did about the same too. When I hear friends or acquaintances tell me that they’re working, doing laundry or whatever other mundane things on Eid, I understand.  Eid has been lame for so long that some people have given up trying to see it any other way. Why take personal time off to sit at home and do nothing?

I stuck to whatever my parents did for Eid because “Eid was a time for family.” In doing so, I was honoring their cultural ideas of honoring family, but not Eid. It wasn’t until I moved away that I decided to rebel and spend Eid with convert friends (versus family) who didn’t have Muslim families to celebrate with on Eid, rather than drive for hours to get home for another lame salah-breakfast-nap-dinner.

That was a game-changing Eid for me. It was the first non-lame Eid I ever had, not because we did anything extraordinary or amazing, but because we made the day special by doing things that we wouldn’t normally do on a weekday together. It was then that I made a determination to never have a lame Eid ever again InshaAllah.

I’m not the only one fighting ELS. Mosques and organizations are creating events for people to attend and enjoy together, and families are opting to spend Eid with other families. There is still much more than can be done, as converts, students, single people, couples without children and couples with very small children, are hard-hit by the isolation and sadness that ELS brings. Here are a few suggestions for helping treat ELS in your community:

Host an open house

Opening up your home to a large group of people is a monumental task that takes a lot of planning and strength. But it comes with a lot of baraka and reward. Imagine the smiling faces of people who would have had nowhere to go on Eid, but suddenly find themselves in your home being hosted. If you have a big home, hosting an open house is an opportunity to express your gratitude to Allah for blessing you with it.

Expand your circle

Eid is about commUNITY. Many people spend Eid alone when potential hosts stick to their own race/class/social status. Invite and welcome others to spend Eid with you in whatever capacity you can.


You can enlist the help of close friends and family to help so it’s not all on you. Delegate food, setup, and clean-up across your family and social network so that no one person will be burdened by the effort InshaAllah.

Squeeze in

Don’t worry if you don’t have a big house, you’ll find out how much barakah your home has by how many people are able to fit in it. I’ve been to iftars in teeny tiny apartments where there’s little space but lots of love. If you manage to squeeze in even two or three extra guests, you’ve saved two or three people from ELS for that year.

Outsource Eid Fun

If you have the financial means or know enough friends who can pool together, rent a house. Some housing share sites have homes that can be rented specifically for events, giving you the space to consolidate many, smaller efforts into one larger, more streamlined party.

Flock together

It can be a challenge to find Eid buddies to spend the day with. Try looking for people in similar circumstances as you. I’m a single woman and have hosted a ladies game night for the last few Eids where both married and single women attend.  If you are a couple with young kids, find a few families with children of similar age groups. If you’re a student, start collecting classmates. Don’t wait for other people to invite you, make a list in advance and get working to fend off ELS together.

Give gifts

The Prophet ﷺ said: تَهَادُوا تَحَابُّوا‏ “Give gifts to increase love for each other”. One of my siblings started a tradition of getting a gift for each person in the family. If that’s too much, pick one friend or family member and give them a gift. If you can’t afford gifts, give something that doesn’t require much money like a card or just your time. You never know how much a card with kind, caring words can brighten a person’s Eid.

Get out of your comfort zone

If you have ELS, chances are there is someone else out there who has it too. The only way to find out if someone is sad and alone on Eid is by admitting that we are first, and asking if they are too.

Try, try, try again…

Maybe you’ve taken off work only to find that going would have been less of a waste of time. Maybe you tried giving gifts and it didn’t go well. Maybe you threw an open house and are still cleaning up/dealing with the aftermath until now. It’s understandable to want to quit and say never again, to relent and accept that you have ELS and always will but please, keep trying. The Ummah needs to believe that Eid can and should be fun and special for everyone.

While it is hard to be vulnerable and we may be afraid of rejection or judgment, the risk is worth it. As a survivor and recoverer of ELS, I know how hard it can be and also how rewarding it is to be free of it. May Allah bless us all with the best Eids and to make the most of the blessed days before and after, Ameen.

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Broken Light: The Opacity of Muslim Led Institutions

Rehan Mirza, Guest Contributor



muslim led institutions

Habib Abd al-Qadir al-Saqqaf (may Allah have mercy on him and benefit us by him) explains how we are affected by the spiritual state of those around us.

Every person has rays which emanate from their soul. You receive these rays when you come close to them or sit in their presence. Each person’s rays differ in strength according to the state of their soul. This explains how you become affected by sitting in the presence of great people. They are people who follow the way of the Prophets in their religious and worldly affairs. When they speak, they counsel people. Their actions guide people. When they are silent they are like signposts which guide people along the path, or like lighthouses whose rays guide ships. Many of them speak very little, but when you see them or visit them you are affected by them. You leave their gatherings having been enveloped in their tranquillity. Their silence has more effect than the eloquent speech of others. This is because the rays of their souls enter you.

The Organizational Light

As a Muslim organizational psychologist, I know that organizations and institutions are a collective of these souls too. Like a glass container, they are filled colored by whatever is within them. So often Muslim organizations have presumed clarity in their organizational light and looked on with wonder as children, families, and the community wandered. The lighthouse keepers standing in front of the beacon wondering, “Where have the ships gone?”have

Our Muslim led institutions will reflect our state, actions, and decisions. I do believe that most of our institutional origins are rooted in goodness, but those moments remain small and fade. Our challenge as a community is to have this light of origin be fixed so that it can pulsate and extend itself beyond itself.

Reference is not being made regarding any specific type of institution and this is not a pointed critique, but rather a theory on perhaps why the effect our variety of institutional work wanes and dissipates. Any type of organization or institution — whether for profit or nonprofit, whether capital focused or socially conscious — that is occupied by the heart of a Muslim(s), must reflect light.

Our organizational light is known by an ego-less assessment of intentions, actions, and results. We must move our ‘self’ or ‘selves’ out of the way and then measure our lumens. If the light increases when we move out of the way, then it is possible that we — our ego, personality, objectives, intentions, degree of sacrifice, level of commitment, and possibly even our sincerity — may be the obstructions to our organizational lights.

The Personal Imperative

What will become of our institutions and their role for posterity if we neglect to evaluate where we stand in relation to the noble courses they mean to take? We may currently be seeing the beginning what this may look and feel like.

When was the last time you walked into a Muslim led institution and felt a living space that drew you in because of the custodians, leadership, individuals, and community that made up its parts? It was probably the last time you and I looked deeply inward at our lives — our intellect, our relationships, our purpose, our spiritual state, our work, our decisions, and our intentions. If we cleanse our hearts so infrequently the dust which settles can become thick making them opaque. And perhaps this individual and collective state is what limits the reach and impact of our communal work thus, resulting in the opacity of Muslim led institutions. Note: Lighthouse keepers clean the lens of the beacon every day.

We must consistently assess the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual loci of our individual and organizational states. They are not fixed givens. Rather, they are capricious states that necessitate vigilance and wara’. Being aware of this will help in our organizational design and work.

The Collective Affect

When we are prepared to evaluate the efficacy of Muslim led institutions with the inclusion of some form of spiritual assessment, we will give ourselves a better opportunity to determine where, how, and why we may be missing the mark. The inefficiencies and inattentiveness we have on an individual level can permeate our relationships, our work, and our organizations. As organizational leaders, we must critically assess the amount of light our work emanates to illuminate the lives of the people we serve.

These inward evaluations should be in the form of active and ongoing discussions we have internally with our teams and colleagues, and ourselves. If done with prudence and sincerity it will not only strengthen our organizations but our teams and us God-willing. This collective effort can lead to a collective effect for those we serve that inspires and guides. We — and our institutions — can then return to the Prophetic example of being beacons of light that help ourselves and others arrive to a place of sanctuary.

And Allah always knows best.

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