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The Mother of Tests – Balancing Islam with Difficult Parents




We’ve all been there. That situation where our parents are displeased with us for choosing to study a subject other than Medicine or Engineering at university. Or, opposing our choice of partner who is deemed to be ‘unsuitable’ because they’re from a different culture or caste.

We seem to get through these situations one way or another. But how do we deal with practicing Islam whilst our family and friends refuse to understand our newfound ways? Exchanging friends is much easier than changing our families. So how should one tackle such a sensitive and potentially volatile state of affairs?

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) tells us in the Quran:

‘Worship Allâh and join none with Him (in worship), and do good to parents…’

(Surah An-Nisa; v. 36)

Therefore, we are supposed to worship Allah and be good and dutiful to our parents. It’s pretty clear-cut and straightforward, right? Wrong. It’s actually not as straightforward as we would like it to be. There is a profound emphasis on obeying one’s parents within Islam, however first and foremost, we are all in pursuit of Allah’s Pleasure. This can only be obtained by following His Commands and following the example of His Messenger, Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him):

‘Say (O Muhammad (saw) to mankind): “If you (really) love Allâh then follow me, Allâh will love you and forgive you your sins…’

(Surah Ál-Imran; v.31)

So when a brother or a sister is in a situation where they are being asked to take off their hijab or shave off their beard, what should they do? Should they disobey their parents and go against their demands, or should they disobey Allah and comply with their parents’ desires?

Although obeying Allah’s command is our ultimate priority in this life; when confronted with such a situation, I have heard about many brothers and sisters reacting very harshly to their parents, to the extent of breaking ties with them. Instead of explaining to their parents that they can’t go against Allah and His Messenger, they hurt them by lashing out at them, which usually culminates in a huge argument. This totally goes against the attitude that Islam teaches us with regard to treating our neighbors, let alone our parents. Of course, we would all love to have parents who support us throughout the thick and thin of our Islamic improvement. But have we ever stopped to think that their antagonism towards their ‘reborn’ Muslim child might be partly attributable to the child’s conduct with them?

I recently attended a seminar based on the Islamic ideals of a family, part of which dealt with children’s duties towards their parents. SubhanAllah, it is amazing how much is due to our parents, even if they’re non-Muslim, and yet, we still don’t treat them the way they deserve to be treated.

‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar saw a Yemeni man performing Tawâf while carrying his mother on his back. This man said to Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar, “I am like a tame camel for her! I have carried her more than she carried me. Do you think I have paid her back, O Ibn ‘Umar?” Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar replied, “No, not even one labour pain when she was giving birth to you!”

(Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad and authenticated by Al-Albaani)

I guess the million-dollar question is: how do we find the balance between being dutiful to our parents without losing our patience with their antagonism, and being true worshipers of Allah?

All it requires is love and patience. Many of us take our parents for granted, expecting them to understand our slant on the deen. Some of them have grown up knowing Islam through their parents and relatives, or doing things because ‘imaam-sahib said so’. If they’re not Muslim, then they might not know anything about Islam or, due to politics and misconceptions in the media, even hate it. We need to learn how to deal with this in the most sensitive manner possible because, in the zeal of our youth, it is very easy to lose our cool when talking to our parents about something of which we feel so ardently.

When people hate or dislike something we do, it’s mainly because they don’t understand why we’re doing it. To make the situation worse, if we react badly to our parents’ disapproval of our practice of Islam, it only makes them think badly of the way we are following Islam or our similarly ‘Islamic’ friends. To avoid such a situation even arising, I believe we should begin by explaining our basis for changing our ways in a loving manner.

Some people are insensitive to their parents’ personalities, especially when it comes to what is important to them. I know of someone whose father really loves music, which has been a cause of conflict between parent and child for several years resulting in heated arguments and the child being disrespectful to their father. What this person initially started off doing for the sake of Allah actually ended up displeasing Allah due to not being able to practice the basic Islamic etiquettes with their own parents.

A tried and tested way to get your point across is a five-step plan:

1. Think about the issue that is most important to you.

For example, if you are worried about having to attend a mixed gathering full of free-mixing and the fact that your parents don’t pray salah regularly, then filter through what is most important to you first. In this case, salah is far more important, so it is necessary to talk about that first. Pick your battles carefully.

2. Knowing what your parents are receptive to.

If your mother loves receiving flowers, then do that for her before you speak to her. Tell her how much you love her and that you want the best for her in the dunya and the akhirah. And then go on to tell her about the importance of salah, its benefits and what it means not to pray.

‘Mum, I really love you and I want you to attain the highest ranks of Jannah, and I feel that following Allah’s Commands are the only way for us to do that. I truly want you and Dad to experience eternal happiness.’

The above is an example, but what I am trying to highlight is the importance of observing your parents’ needs before you approach them with something so sensitive. They’ll appreciate you for paying attention to their little likes and dislikes.

3. Keep your cool.

In such situations, parents might get annoyed at the fact that their child, whom they have brought up and whom they have taught everything he or she knows, is telling them how to live their lives. They will get upset or argue with you, but at such times, the best thing to do is just step back and keep quiet. Don’t say anything until they’ve calmed down a little. Most importantly, don’t lose your temper. Not only will it undo everything you have done so far, you will also accrue sin for being rude to your parents.

4. Maintain good adab.

Good manners are observed by everyone, especially your parents. Being helpful, polite and tending to their needs around the home may help them realise that they have been blessed with a righteous child. Sometimes we are so engrossed in our own lives that we end up ignoring our parents. If you don’t live with your parents for whatever reason, try to visit them more often than once a month or send them gifts (like that non-stick saucepan set your mother always wanted). Islam teaches us to be well-mannered; it’s inherent within the deen. In fact, I feel that the more devout a Muslim becomes, the better his manners should be towards his family. Lead by example.

5. Lastly, don’t lose hope.

Guidance is only within Allah’s Power, not our own. You can keep repeating steps 1-4, but at the end of the day, only Allah will give your parents and family hidayah. Make sincere du’a for them, be good to them and keep trying. Be an example to everyone around you and keep your intentions pure. Perseverance is key. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) never gave up on his uncle, Abu Talib, not even till the day he died. Even when it seemed like he might just accept Islam on his deathbed, Abu Jahl reminded him of the loyalty towards his forefathers’ religion. Despite that, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) continued asking Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for forgiveness for his uncle, until he received the revelation that asking forgiveness for the mushrikun is not permissible.

‘It is not (proper) for the Prophet and those who believe to ask Allâh’s Forgiveness for the Mushrikûn (polytheists, idolaters, pagans, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allâh) even though they be of kin, after it has become clear to them that they are the dwellers of the Fire (because they died in a state of disbelief).’ (Surah at-Tawbah; v.113)

However, when asking Allah for guidance, do not underestimate the power of du’a. Don’t give up.

We will all experience this at some point in our lives, but we should view these obstacles as tests. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) never burdens His slaves with more than they can bear and ultimately, we should use such tests as a way of coming closer to Him.

I leave you with a thought-provoking story.

There was once a father and son. When the father reached old age, the son began thinking about the inheritance money that would be due to him upon his father’s death. His greed eventually overcame him and he became impatient, as it seemed his father’s demise would not be imminent. He therefore devised a plan to murder his father, and on a quiet night, approached his father’s bedside as he slept. He tied his father up and carried him to a nearby bridge. As he was about to throw him off the bridge, his father stopped him and calmly said to him, “Son, before you throw me off, just walk a couple of yards to your right for that is where I threw my own father from this very bridge.”

Ultimately, what we do to our parents will be done to us by our children.

May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) guide us all. Ameen.

Bushra is a recent Computer Science grad from King's College London and is currently shaking off her newly wedded status. Aside from writing for MM, she vents on her blog: Currently working for a global IT firm, she is pursuing various studies, both Islamic and career-related. Due to circumstances beyond her control, she is living the lifestyle of a nomad, jumping from place to place, packing and unpacking and visiting family at the same time. She is an accredited Software Tester. Nevertheless, this won't take her away from writing about Islam and life in general. Amongst all the working, writing and family commitments, she somehow manages to fulfill one of her other, slightly devilish (so to speak!) passions - baking desserts!



  1. Avatar


    April 30, 2010 at 12:35 AM

    Mash’Allah, a much needed article! This is something almost every single Muslim can relate to. May Allah reward you tremendously! Ameen.

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      June 3, 2016 at 6:57 PM

      I think this article is good in reiterating the end point of why we are obedient – to attain Allah’s pleasure. Allah gives each of us different trials but I feel difficulties within the family are a huge trial. Or punishment for the sins we do collectively ourselves. We must remember this. I feel a lot of this is also down to poor tarbeeyah of children and as the article says what goes around comes around. It is a strong lesson to all of us. We must also remember about being those who enjoin good and forbid evil in the correct way.

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      December 20, 2016 at 1:36 AM

      Hey guys I have a question so I try to help my mom with things around the house and something always has to ruin it like me forgetting to do somthing or either not doing something the way that she likes and then she’ll get angry at me because she has taught me that Certian thing many times and I still tend to do it wrong and it’s just a bad habit and I love my mom so much and I get very upset when she is mad at me and I don’t want her to reach the point where she stays mad at me or to the point where she doesn’t forgive me because that well cause me to go to jahnam and my mom will be displeased with me and I really need help do you guys know things that I can possibly do to make my mom pleased with me

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    Ibn Masood

    April 30, 2010 at 2:44 AM

    SubhanAllah… jazakAllahu khairan… been waiting for something like this for quite some time.

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      New Musilima

      December 12, 2010 at 10:33 PM

      All of this sounds good but what do you do when your parents tell you that you can’t offer salaat in the home and if you do they will put you out on the street. I mean they even went as far as hiding my Qur’an with the intention of throwing it out. I truly want to remain respectful and obey Allah swt but something has got to give. I will be held accountable for the prayers that I fo not perfotm snd they cannot save me from the hellfire no matter how they feel.

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        March 1, 2013 at 12:39 PM

        i would like to ask how to deal with parents who forced you into marriage and then forced you to sign talaq papers. Then made life so difficult for you with their tantrums and insults and negativity that you agreed to the first proposal that came along just to get out of the house. Then you find the situation that your parents are continously interferring in your marriage, because he is an immigrant and waiting for his workvisa. Result of such interferance resulted mainly in divorce after he got his workvisa. Now what should a divorced woman do next? the choice is with permission of brothers and parents to take on a job abroad or leave that job in order to take care of parents. The main problem is financial status of parents and daughter. Brothers are not able to support financially due to their own family. What to do? re arrange financial status and working abroad 2 years or staying with parents. due to economic recession a job nearby has not been found since last 12 months. And the government has been supporting a little bit. Bills are piling up. People are knocking at the door to collect money.

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          July 29, 2013 at 9:02 PM

          I am with you sister! I have been in a very similar situation where my mother forced me into marriage when i was barely a teenager, and then when I was determined to make my marriage work she changes her mind and hates him and myself, talks about divorce constantly in front of him and wanting me to re-marry a better caste and richer man! The only thing in life she has ever cared about is personal financial gain and I have found evidence of this with her time and time again. How can I stay obedient and do as she wishes when this will cost me my own husband and children?

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        March 3, 2013 at 10:01 AM

        May Allah help you out sister,and guide ur parents.and family!!!Ameen Ya Rabb!!

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        November 29, 2014 at 10:55 AM

        This is completely shit, i am 14 and have had no privacy for 2 years and i cant talk to my parents about it most likely nothing is going to change for a lot of years.

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        May 24, 2015 at 7:06 AM

        You should perform your prayers no matter what. A friend had the same problem and her mother didn’t even allow her to fast in Ramadan, when she decided to wear hijab her mother beat her and threw her out by her hair. Her mother was a Jew who is now a Muslim because of her daughter. Have patience and know that Allah will always make a way out for you.

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        Ruth de Qureshi

        May 31, 2015 at 7:45 AM

        Well, there are parents and “parents”.
        Yours are far away for being Muslims and those who force someone to get married are also non-muslims they will burn in hell I am afraid.
        What Allah does not want is for you to comfront hatred towards them, respect means do not go in a verbal fight and physical fight.. even in a western society you will be blamed of assault or something like that.
        If there were any chance to talk to a Sheik or Allimah will be great.. expose how bad Muslims they are and be ready to leave the home as they will never forgive it but at least you will be safe of cultural negative facts..
        May Allah help you..

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        June 30, 2016 at 2:38 PM

        Mashallah this is a great article, but NewMuslima has a point–what do you do with oppressive parents? Not just parents who are forcing you to take off your hijab, but parents who damage their children psychologically. How would you deal with such parents in the context of Islam?

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    April 30, 2010 at 11:23 AM

    Excellent article, very well written. This is a topic that is not talked about much at all and it really needs to be particulalry for our generation who have parents that migrated to the western countries.
    I find it is these parents who have become quite demanding and this is our test.

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    April 30, 2010 at 5:23 PM

    Oh my God, why do I always hear that story of a son killing/abandoning his father and then the same happening to him with his own son. I was first told by own mother when I was kid and I hoped that it was never true.

    The article is much needed, we forget we are speaking to our parents sometimes when we talk to them about something we learned at an Islamic class or lecture. But they can be slightly stubborn, bless them. We should try to pick the right timings to approach them.

    I’ll send this InshAllah to all the back-to-Islam people I know :) Jazakillahu Khairan

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      April 30, 2010 at 6:03 PM

      Oh my God, why do I always hear that story of a son killing/abandoning his father and then the same happening to him with his own son. I was first told by own mother when I was kid and I hoped that it was never true.

      Unfortunately, such cases are true. It saddens me when I hear of true stories occurring within the community. And even more so if they’re religious.

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        Ruth de Qureshi

        May 31, 2015 at 7:47 AM

        There are many stories of fathers raping their own children.. mothers murdering their children for being girls or for nothing.. however this is not addressed in any religion properly.. reason, Allah do not want us to fill our heart of hatre..

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    Ibn Masood

    April 30, 2010 at 8:03 PM

    I point the blame at myself first, but It’s so unfortunate that with political pieces we get so fired up with advice, suggestions and input, but with pieces like these… which are incomprehensibly more important than the former… it’s almost pindrop silence. wAllahu musta’an.

    How our knowledge and understanding of the deen is so weak that we have elevated the minuscule issues and forgotten the most critical ones.

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    April 30, 2010 at 11:00 PM

    this article was good. i would like to request another one that really gets to the depth of HOW critical this issue this with more ayat/tafseer and hadith.

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      May 1, 2010 at 10:09 AM

      Jazakallahu khair. I agree…this is a very critical issue. I wanted to add more evidences from the Qurán, Sunnah and Seerah of the Prophet(saw), but I think it would have turned this article into a thesis.
      I’m not a tafseer specialist, but insha’Allah, we’ll see what we can do with regards to getting a more in-depth article out. This will require someone more knowledgeable to write about it.

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    Mariam E.

    May 1, 2010 at 9:18 AM

    Asalamu Alikum warahmatu Allah

    This is really an important reminder, Jazaki Allah Khayr.

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    Abu Abdillah

    May 1, 2010 at 3:22 PM

    Barakallah feeki,

    A much needed reminder, very well written.

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    May 1, 2010 at 4:20 PM

    very well written…JazakAllahu Khairun…
    May Allah giv hidayah to all of us,ameen.

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    Sadaf Farooqi

    May 2, 2010 at 1:25 AM

    A very needed reminder. May Allah reward you, Bushra.
    I have counselled many girls who have problems because one or both of their parents are not pleased with a certain practice of their Deen. For example, a mother tells her daughter not to do hijab for fear that it’ll thwart her marriage; or a father who urges her to pursue a career in a field she doesn’t want to enter, either because it’ll involve mixiing with the opposite gender, or direct involvement in usury; or when both parents want to say yes to a marriage proposal in which the man doesn’t pray regularly, or drinks occasionally, and they are unhappy if their daughter is resisting it because of these seemingly “trivial” reasons (in their eyes), whereas to them the proposal is “ideal” Etc…
    Patience and politeness is the best long-term strategy to win over one’s parents. They love us, no matter what. We should remember that, by being a polite and respectful offspring/child, we can eventually win over and please our parents – no matter what the bone of contention, so to speak; this is what points numbered 3 and 4 have expounded very well above.
    Jazaki Allahu khairan.

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      May 2, 2010 at 10:41 AM

      Jazakallahu khair for your comments.

      Everything you have said is so true. It’s sad that culture comes before Islam for some people.

      With love, respect and continuous good manners with no double standards involved, parents can come around fairly easily if you lay out the facts to them. It is incredibly important to remain consistent and sometimes there are practicing Muslims doing certain things that you deem to be incorrect from your understanding. Unfortunately, parents use these people to justify that, for example, going to a mixed party (with people dressed to impress and music blaring away) is OK. It’s important to explain that those people are possibly concentrating on perfecting one aspect of their deen, whilst you are concentrating on another. Everyone is at different levels and different stages of religiosity in their lives, therefore it is important to get that message across to Muslims.

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        cultural Muslim

        May 3, 2010 at 3:09 AM

        What do you mean by culture? You want children to grow up without any culture? Do you know how psychologically damaging and detrimental it is to grow up without any cultural values and not knowing your native language? Does Islam contain ALL the cultural aspects of one’s lives? I do not think so. Islam only contains those things which are necessary to get closer to God. But what about other things?

        Do not you think that the way Sahaaba practiced islam, it was influenced by their Arab culture? Do you want Muslims, from various ethnicities, to follow this Arab culture in the form of Islam?

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          May 3, 2010 at 5:02 AM

          My dear cultural Muslim, before you go attacking anybody, please ensure you know WHO you are attacking.

          I am one of the most cultural Muslims in Britain. I speak the language of my ethnicity, I cook and love eating the food, I wear the clothes and even try to update my wardrobe accordingly from time to time and I even know some of the idioms and do the typical things that is associated with my culture (such as buying things in bulk). But all within the boundaries of Islam.

          To answer your questions, when I said culture, I meant what is culturally seen as an ideal husband. Parents look for a guy for their daughter who is, for example, a doctor, from a wealthy family, good-looking, tall, well-bred, etc, etc. All that is perfectly fine. There is nothing wrong with wanting the best for your child. But only if a person puts what is required by Islam FIRST. There really is no point in having the best when there is a clear difference in religion between your child and their potential spouse. It’s a big deal if parents are insistent that their daughter marries someone who doesn’t pray or doesn’t think it’s a requirement to pray. Some scholars have even declared such a marriage invalid (and therefore comes under zina) if one or both of the spouses do not pray at all, because not praying makes one a disbeliever. Whether you agree with that or not, it just shows that it is REALLY important for both potential spouses to have a sound understanding of Islam; it can’t be one and not the other.

          Secondly, I doubt anybody has been brought up culture-less. I have been born into two different cultures. But I have also been brought up in a household of Islam.
          This is how my parents prioritised our upbringing:

          Islam is a way of life, but any culture can adapt to Islam. For example, everything I mentioned about myself above is cultural, but I filter out all the haraam/bid’ah stuff. I wear shalwar kameez, but at home or at segregated or ladies-only functions, because when I’m out, I wear a jilbab. I am also quite Westernised in my approach to certain things, such as my cocky, dry, sarcastic humour, evidently a British sense of humour.

          It is true that the Prophet(saw) and the Sahaaba were all Arab, but at no point did I mention that we should follow their dress code or the food they ate, etc. I believe a person should learn Arabic, but purely to understand the language of the Qurán, not to emulate the Arab culture.

          I’ve travelled to several Muslim countries and met Muslims from so many different ethnicities. Some of them strictly follow Islam, but none of them have left their culture behind. I’ve met Malaysians, Turks, Pakistanis, Indians, Palestinians, Sri Lankans, etc. They’re all cultural, but they’re Muslim first. And that should be our identity first and foremost. When somebody asks me who I am, I say I’m Muslim. Where I’m from…well, that’s a long story.

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            October 19, 2013 at 5:08 AM

            Aoa.Mam,Bushra.You like many other “cultural people” have defined Islam according to your culture.In Pakistan I face cultural Islam everyday mainly due to lack of education and the essence of Islam is lost.Regarding parent-child relationship the west is far better in defining it.Unfortunately we still relate back to quote situations which happened 1400 years ago and HAVE NOT researched the true meaning and spirit of the verses in Quran and the Hadith.We are still following pagan traditions in explaining difficult circumstances in life!Can a prostitute have Jannah under her feet if she is a mother? What should a child do?

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    Middle Ground

    May 2, 2010 at 12:05 PM


    I suffered through this a great deal and am sad to say that I handled it very badly, may Allah forgive me… eventually, soon after getting married and having a child, Allah enabled me to move to a different country due to my work, which I think was the best thing for me.

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    May 2, 2010 at 9:49 PM

    Assalamu alaikum,

    Subhanallah this is a very trying issue we face. The problem gets even worse when there have been years of impatience. And this is a hard and embarrassing topic to bring up with others who’s families are supportive and practicing.

    One solution from the community can be to have more events that are family oriented. So the practicing brothers and sisters can bring their parents to events, rather than just themselves.

    Wassalamu alaikum.

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    May 3, 2010 at 9:50 AM

    Asslam u alaikum wr wb
    Another related issue which can be discussed is dealing with parents in law and advising your spouse to do the right thing. Very often in typical eastern cultures specially pertaining to the sub continent, the parents in law do not follow islamic norms when dealing with their daughter/son in laws. What is one to do in such cases. I think stories related to this are abound in Pakistan. The dilemma here often is how to maintain a balance where ones own rights are preserved while there is no disrespect to the parents in law. It would really be good if someone could write about this and seek advice from scholars as well.

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      May 3, 2010 at 12:58 PM

      I’ve been thinking about the same issue myself! It is not talked about enough on Islamic websites.

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    May 6, 2010 at 11:32 PM

    Jazakallah Khayrun sister for writing this.. may Allah Azzawajall bless you for the effort.

    I wonder how a person should react after witnessing apparent fallacies that emerge from the leniency our parents demonstrate in upbringing of our siblings. Like for those of us who were in a way, “late” in becoming practicing muslims .. nothing is more regretful than that delay. So, it really hurts to see our siblings procrastinating things, believing that they are doing great while following in our foot steps .. steps we regretted later.

    May Allah Azzawajall guide us all, ameen.

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    Sayed Saleh

    December 9, 2010 at 12:15 PM

    Jazak Allaah to you sis Bushra and masha Allaah it’s articulately written and I appreciate and fully agree with the content except with the moral of that thought provoking story where it says (quote) Ultimately, what we do to our parents will be done to us by our children.(unquote) which I respectfully disagree because it has no reference or basis from the Qura’an and ahadeeth nor is it based on the Ijma of Ulemas of Salaf and that of present nor the Qiyaas on that could be used to fill the perspective of ‘modern’ world. There are many profound examples where it is notably observed that a man didn’t treat well or fulfilled the rights of his parents yet with full of remorse, he repented and weeps for his sin and yet his children remains compassionate toward him and thereby treats him well and fulfills his rights as he grows older. People no matter how evil they are end up becoming good should they remain sincere in search of truth that is as apparent as within the light of Islaam.

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      December 9, 2010 at 4:48 PM

      And yet, I respectfully disagree with that comment.

      It’s not necessary for things to be from the Qur’an, Sunnah, ijma’ or qiyaas for one to learn from it. In fact, did you know that there are several ahadith that may not be strictly authentic, but their meaning has been taken into account as a rule? E.g. water is only water as long as its smell, taste or colour does not change. Some have argued about the strength of the hadith relating to it, but the rule from that ‘weak’ hadith has been taken into account, because it makes sense.

      Or the first line of Pride and Prejudice – It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

      For a Muslim brother, I believe that to be very true.

      Also, I am entitled to my personal opinion, and I’ve watched generations of people treat their parents a certain way, only to later have their children treat them the same way. The whole point of my last line in the article is to learn from the moral of the story (alongside stories in Islamic history) and keep reminding oneself of the blessing that we have been given to have parents, as well as our duties towards them.

      Jazakallahu khair for your comment. It is always beneficial to know where to improve on.

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    September 10, 2012 at 4:52 PM

    Thank you for the post – may Allah bless you for writing it and may He make it easier for us to follow His guidance in all walks of our lives.

    I am struggling in my relationship with my parents – and it is not just on the religious front, it seems like my parents want to control every aspect of my life. I feel helpless in their presence because my father constantly lashes out at me for not blindly following him. He wants me to quit my job and to sell my car, buy another, to pull out my money from where it is invested etc. On subjects like namaaz and the beard etc, he doesn’t say much anymore Alhamdolillah but he does want to control about every other aspect of my life.

    From your article, it would seem that the islamic thing to do would be to listen to him blindly – and inshallah I will do that. But if there’s more to this, or if I’ve misunderstood this, then please let me know.

    My father has done so much for so many people includibg his own parents for whom he sacrificed so much – I do feel I’m being ‘weak’ in not listening to him. Any advice would be appreciated.

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    November 8, 2012 at 8:42 AM

    “But if they (both) strive with you to make you join in worship with Me others that of which you have no knowledge, then obey them not; but behave with them in the world kindly” [Luqmaan 31:15]

    Allah also said in Soorah Al-Ankabut, “And We have enjoined on man to be good and dutiful to his parents, but if they strive to make you join with Me (in worship) anything (as a partner) of which you have no knowledge, then obey them not. Unto Me is your return, and I shall tell you what you used to do.” [Soorah Al-Ankabut (29): 8]

    Imam Ibn Katheer (rahimahullah) writes in the Tafseer of the above verse: “means, if they try hard to make you follow them in their (false) religion, then do not accept that from them, but do not let that stop you from behaving towards them with respect.”

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    November 15, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    My in-laws not only abuse my husband, but verbally abuse me, even asked my step sons of 10 & 11 to kill me. He swears, curses, causes conflict between siblings, ridicules and slanders. Its like he is on a mission to convert everyone’s way of life, although islamic. He has made my marriage miserable as I am sickened to depression by the continuous abuse for which my husband refuses to protect me from due to his obligatory respect to his parents. How do my huband and mainly I resolve this in Islam. I am seriously thinking of leaving the religion becos it is too abusive for me. Even my husband verbally abuses me when I am so saddened and depressed from his father’s abuse. I feel unloved by my husband and most of all disrespected. I’m am pleading in the name of Allah, someone HELP ME

    • Avatar


      January 3, 2013 at 3:17 PM

      Dear Sister Saabirah

      Yes I agree. I am in the same boat. I always wonder why no scholar or any one else come up with some guidance or any just thing to say for such matters.

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      January 3, 2013 at 4:23 PM

      Dear Sister Saabirah

      I am sorry to hear of your situation. However, leaving the deen of Allah is not the answer. The deen of Allah is not abusive surely it is the in laws from what you say.
      I am pretty sure you will NOT find the answer in articles such as these.You are not alone, there are a lot of people in your position however no one is willing to talk about the elephant in the room. You can perhaps obtain a fatwa from scholar if you unsure of how to deal with such a situation.
      I will make dua for your that Allah resolves the problems that you are facing and you must also pray ( I am sure your do – but this is a reminder for me and you) and in particular the night prayer. Call upon Him by his beautiful names.
      This is your test and remember Allah promises after every hardship there is ease.

    • Avatar


      October 5, 2013 at 1:51 PM

      What about parents who are emotionally, verbally, physically abusive and oppressive to their children?? Are the children still supposed to “respect” them?? These types of parents have NO rights over their children! Why are we always emphasizing the rights of the parents, and telling “disobedient” children that they will go to hell, when we do not even speak about the rights of children, God forbid we ever do that! I think that is why we have fallen into this culture of parents using Islaam as a justification to oppress their children, because the Quran says children have to be good to their parents. Yet what about all the verses where Allaah says He hates the oppressors? We conveniently brush these under the carpet and pretend they do not exist. If someone is going to right about the rights of parents, they better write about the rights of children first. Because a child will only grow up to be what it has seen all its life (which is mostly, a fourth of Islaam, abuse, oppression, bid’ah, plain old haraam) and then you want the child to turn around and somehow be this amazing Muslim, obedient, caring child toward their abusive parents????? If a parent raises a child well, upon pure Islaam, and treats them kindly, then of course, by nature, will the child turn around and do the same with their parents! I have seen many children who have beautiful relationships with their parents, who loved them and were kind to them when they were young and the children end up with the same loving feeling toward their parents and care for them when they are old. And then you see children who are rude, and disobedient and hate their parents, because their parents abused them when they were young! Allaah gave them full control over their kids when they were young, why didn’t these stupid parents treat them well so that the kids will end up treating them well! Parents will only reap the fruits of what they sowed with their kids! So stop blaming the children! It is all the parents’ fault!

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        March 8, 2014 at 3:32 AM

        Yes Emma I completely agree with you. This is the harsh reality of us abused Muslim children that no one wants to address. Why should we stay with parents who treat us like this? Specifically my father who treated me like trash and verbally and physically abused me my whole life? Do people think children will simply obey their abusive parent like they owe them the world? No. Allah gave parents the responsibility and test of raising children. This doesn’t mean you can oppress your children and expect unconditional love and respect in return from them. We’re allowed to leave our oppressors and severe blood ties if all fails and the oppressors don’t learn. Leave if you have to. Don’t take abuse from anyone even if they’re your parents.

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        February 11, 2015 at 10:43 PM

        Thanks for pointing out the absurdity about yet another article boasting parents’ rights regardless of how abusive they are. It would be nice if everyone can open their eyes to reality that ‘good’ parents who deserve to be respected and cared for rarely exist. This is something that needs to be discussed. Children have a right to a good and safe upbringing and if they do not receive it then there is absolutely no obligation to those ‘parents’.

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        February 25, 2016 at 4:32 PM

        I agree with you Emma,
        I was recently on the Islamic Q and A website and someone had asked about a Father who raped his daughter, they advised that if the Father was ‘Trustworthy’ and ‘Sorry’ for what he has done, he most certainly is still his daughters custodian,In another question a young girl stated she had been hospitalized because of the strain from abuse she suffered at the hands of her mother who had psychological problems, she was told to be nice to her mother to soften her??!!!
        I think the answers here demonstrate the complete and utter disregard for children who ( especially female children) are trapped in abusive homes, it appears that no matter how extreme the situation at home maybe, a child is expected to not only bear the abuse but to do so with a smile,
        At the end of the day every human is just that human, and the Muslim community need to wake up and realize they have a duty to protect their children, since at present they are turning to the Kuffar for help.

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        May 27, 2016 at 9:18 AM

        I could not agree more with you sister!!! Well said, I could not have said it better!!!

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        June 29, 2016 at 3:24 AM

        i have always listened to my parents and done what they told me to do. but now my father wants me to quit work and education. i just want to leave because i feel so oppressed and controlled like i’m under surveillance. if i leave my parents home am i wrong?

        my job is not a haram job, its is in a broadband company and i make a lot of money. my dad thinks by working ill turn bad so he wants to keep me at home. i am 19 so i know legally they have no say even though culturally they feel its only they’re decision but islamically if i leave the home of my parents because they are oppressing me, am i wrong?

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    December 28, 2012 at 8:43 PM

    Thank you for this thought-provoking article. I have been investigating Islam and have been worried about how to go about telling my parents about my fledgling faith. I believe my mother will be the most tolerant, but I am seriously considering not telling my dad as he is very active in the faith I was brought up in and I think he will be more persistent in trying to get me to reactivate if he were to know–even though I am an adult with children of my own.

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    February 4, 2013 at 10:15 PM

    Thank-you so much, you have helped me tremendously, may Allah bless you people like you. salam

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    March 2, 2013 at 11:37 PM

    Same thing happening to me…. Still the emotional abuse doesn’t stop…. I am still trying to be filial daughter but she continues with her bad attitudes…. Then I decided to call my mom just whenever I feel like doing it, no more weekly basis…. It does help our relationship as I don’t feel so uptight after talking to her anymore and she doesn’t verbally abusive as she is afraid of losing me totally….

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    Dr. Farheen Khan

    March 3, 2013 at 5:54 AM

    Assalam alekum,
    Jazak Allaah Khair for this post. May Allah reward u the best in this life n hereaftr.

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    A child

    March 4, 2013 at 1:06 AM

    How to deal with parents who demand more than a child can take care of, like would only travel on first class airline ticket around 1-2 international travels? Would like to perform executive Umrah every year? Would like to get $1000 in pocket money every month? Plus whatever gifts on their behalf to whoever? Would want sons to pay for many expenditures of daughters?

    This question came from one of our friends.

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    Jean Markale

    July 10, 2013 at 3:00 AM

    Any tips for new reverts whose parents are not Muslim?
    My father is a raging islamophobe–he has always hated Allah’s deen ever since I was a kid, and he truly believes Islam is pure evil. He reads things written by fake “ex-Muslims” (you know the type, the ones who all “mysteriously” appeared after 9/11) and believes their lies because he does not know better, thus compounding his own ignorance and mistaking it for increased “knowledge” about Islam. I love my father very much and am always respectful toward him, but sometimes I’m afraid of losing my cool (astaghfirullah). Suggestions–and du’a–would be greatly appreciated.
    Jazakallah khair!

    • Avatar


      October 5, 2013 at 1:55 PM

      show him what a Muslim really is by your wonderful attitude and behavior toward him, be even better than when you were a non-Muslim, don’t preach Islam to him, just preach with your behavior (actions speak louder than words) and he’ll come around eventually. give him some time and be patient, inshAllaah. and of course don’t forget to make lots of dua for him and the rest of your family.

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    Zaynab Hassan

    May 3, 2014 at 5:40 PM

    Asalam o alikum brothers and sisters. May ALLAH swt help us and guide us all!

    I really need help regarding my parents whom I have loved and cared for since I was very young. I am married to a good man Alhumdulilah and we are very, very happy and feel blessed with the relationship. However ever since I got married by my mother’s choice, after she came back to UK from Pakistan she has been very uncaring or supportive and so is my dad, 2 sisters etc. I come from a muslim family background from my dad’s side.

    My mother, myself and my sister converted to Islam Alhumdulilah in year 2008 and I got married in year 2009 Alhumdulilah. But so many times family has gotten in the way of me becoming a good practicing muslim. I always knew that I had to be respectful to my parents and I always have been, even before converting to Islam but so many different events have happened since my marriage and till the recent day. My one other sister and dad didn’t convert to Islam. But my mum and sister should know why I am against certain things that’s happened, that has made me question how can I respect my parents and practice Islam completely??

    My sister who is not a Muslim has done many wrong things that are against the teachings of Islam and patents want me to be apart of those things. But before I can make you understand my feelings towards my non muslim sister, I will tell you a bit about her.

    Before marriage my sister used to steal my jewellery, money from my bank & connected my bank card to her mobile to top money up, she used to steal my clothes and other things, she used to steal my money for her friends use as well. She has been very disrespectful to my parents etc and once I told my parents about what she was doing and showed them proof, they didn’t even punish her. She always used bad language when speaking to my patents she has even kicked them. So this is my non muslim sister before my marriage.

    Now my sister after marriage: One day when my husband went to talk to my mum regarding some family issues whilst I was at work, my sister is listening from her bedroom then she is disrespectful to my husband, she tells him to get away from mum and to send me to talk, but my husband is apart of the family and he doesn’t need my permission to speak with my mum, his mother-in-law. After this disrespect towards my husband my sister wasn’t told she was wrong.

    BUT now in present time she has done the most wrong thing in Islam and that is to get pregnant without marriage with her muslim younger cousin who should know better. The baby has been born and is now 4yrs, ever since the baby was born my whole family as been ignoring me and my parents love has gone for me and my husband, just cause I will not go see my sisters or see my ‘HARAM nephew’ Astugfurallah.

    Me and my husband have many times tried to explain to our parents that we cannot accept this or be apart of this kids life as it is HARAM. I can’t go see my parents as my non muslim sister lives with them and she kind of rules the house etc. I have explained to my parents I can’t go there if the kid & sister are there too, I can go if she is outside with the kid. But even after pleading to them they never call, never text me, they never even come to see me just cause I don’t go see them. Plus me, my husbands relationship with our parents have been very poor since after our marriage so HOW CAN I RESPECT THEM when they CLEARY don’t care about me or my husband???

    I would really appreciate any1s thoughts regarding my situation, do I make up with my parents or stay away from them and keep dua for them that they will understand?? I’m soo confused, I loved my parents and still do but slowly the love has slipped away, I respected them very much and cared for them more than my sister who is non muslim. What should I do???

    • Avatar


      May 8, 2014 at 6:31 AM

      Dear Zaynab,In Islam you love your parents because they cared for you as an infant and that love should always remain within you.Allah gave you parents and you should acknowledge that and only then you become a Momin.A parent who has become human and forgotten that he/she is a Muslim even though prays and says the words of Quran is not appreciated in Islam,because Allah loves only those who follow His path of righteousness.Such people are not loved by Allah and probably your mother is one of them.Please pray for Allah’s mercy and hidaya for your parents and be patient.Do not lose contact and do not preach upon them.Just pray for mercy.Allah is most forgiving.

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      May 8, 2014 at 7:49 AM

      As-salamu Alaykum, Sr. Zaynab,
      Your sister had a child out of wedlock and thus committed a haram action, but the child himself is not haram, and I do not fully understand your stance that you will not see him or treat him with kindness. If anything, I would think that you’d want to model positive behaviors for him and be a presence in his life. If he sees religious people treating him with contempt, then this will almost certainly push him away from religion once he is old enough to understand. If you want to see your parents, I think there is nothing wrong with taking the first step by going to their place. You do not have to involve yourself in any drama with your sister; simply be cordial.

  26. Avatar

    Abrar Ahmed

    June 9, 2014 at 12:46 PM

    Salam Sister this article is ok,

    But one should know that there is nothing one can do about parents who are equal to “Abu Lahab” types. They are doomed for HELL and they raise hell on earth for their kids and everyone in this world, depending on their reach. Parents who have Narcissistic personality disorder, Borderline personality disorder and plain cruel by nature are people you can do everything in this world, and still change nothing.

    Muslim communities today are unwilling to deal with these kind of people, its actually simple, but unfortunately many Imam’s and community leaders do not deal with any complains, either they turn a blind eye or consider the complain to be pure non-sense. By doing this they are only increasing their sins and the sins of the community. They then give sermons as to how to solve problems Islamically which are soo hollow. Allowing the problem to grow into a such a big ball and it snow balls everyone in its path is plain evil in itself.

    The hadith on dealing with oppressors is not used when parents are one. It is often completely pushed under the carpet by the Muslim community, here starts the root of the problem. The multitude of harm domestic violence by such people causes, is soo pervasive today that people just sit, hear and watch, but do nothing, knowing full well its harmful to the Muslim community. Only when harm hurts these NPD’s they get all rowdy about it, and walaaa everyone becomes concerned for the deceitful Narcissist, that is world today.

    Hopefully you will write more to cover the issue more holistically. Its better to take the bull by its horns than to keep patting on its back when the bull is being rowdy.

    Would surely recommend that you see these videos:

    Psychopathic offenders


    If our parents are Psychopathic or NPD or BPD, the amount of harm they cause to their kids and the whole community or city or state or country is soo huge that you cannot measure it, it just becomes unforgivable. It befits us as Muslims to stop them. It becomes our duty as a Muslim to do so even if its not the most liked method by us, otherwise we are doing dis-service to ISLAM and humanity as a whole.

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    July 26, 2014 at 12:45 PM

    Salaams! I am truly touched by the story of the father and son. However I try really hard to be good with my parents and obedient to Allah at the same time. My father is very controlling and is very ignorant went he is angry. He gets angry very easily for matters that are not worthy of anger. He verbally abuses me on a daily basis but then pours his heart out when he is in a good mood. My mother is quite similar in that regards. I am really frustrated by their actions towards me but I love them unconditionally. I’m really tired of their verbal abuse. I hide from my friends so I wont be embarrassed. I try to please them but no matter how hard I try….its never good enough for them. I pray that Allah make it easy for me inshallah. In an everyday situation such as this….what shall I do?

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      August 2, 2014 at 4:09 PM

      Ali:There is a narrow difference between obedience and submission.Submission is what Allah Subhan o Tallah asks of you and for that you are rewarded.Obedience is a (timely)favour you grant your parents with to ease their misery of old age! What are you doing? Think about it!

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      Ruth de Qureshi

      May 31, 2015 at 8:04 AM

      Sorry about it my son,
      you are describing a typical issue parents/teenagers.. I myself as mother can be identified with your words. Thank you for bringing in.. I will do my best to stop and be more respectful with my own 14 years old boy and share the message with my husband..
      Now, all is about attitude.. First we parents are frustrated and AFRAID, we think that we are failing as parents and throw stupidity over our children.. We must trust more ALLAH and be relaxed. However you guys do not listen. How many times yr parents have to say to yo to do something? – Are you ok in your studies? ATTITUDE, how are you responding to them?
      In a proper or negative way, or making faces or seems tired? ahhh??
      When your parents or any person is angry you as young fellow just apologize (even if it is not your fault – I did it in my teens and it worked).. then put your eyes down and do not respond, do not try to explain why you did or didn’t do something. Then start reading your Qura’an, or study and do not play for a while.. Help in the kitchen or in any chores if you can.
      Your father is frustrated, maybe he has a problem in his job? Typical middle east, asian…
      Remember not everyone is educated but you are..
      I am doing a study about Muslim Youth to propose and Empowerment programme in NZ for my thesis, I hope it helps and thanks for all your comments here.. makes me grow as human being understanding my mother and her “moods” and a better mother and wife!! Allah Hafiz

  28. Avatar


    March 27, 2015 at 12:48 AM

    Asalam o Alaikum,

    Anything within a culture or ideology which doesn’t contradict Islam and the essence of Islam is fine. However, anything which contradicts it is completely haram.

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    Babar Ejaz

    June 22, 2015 at 6:43 AM

    I am not satisfied with the theory of balance because obeying and respect and love for parents is if they are also on the righteous path and in a situation they are not, then this is what Allah says in the quran:

    “O you who have believed, do not take your fathers or your brothers as allies if they have preferred disbelief over belief. And whoever does so among you – then it is those who are the wrongdoers.”


    “You will not find a people who believe in Allah and the Last Day having affection for those who oppose Allah and His Messenger, even if they were their fathers or their sons or their brothers or their kindred. Those – He has decreed within their hearts faith and supported them with spirit from Him. And We will admit them to gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they abide eternally. Allah is pleased with them, and they are pleased with Him – those are the party of Allah . Unquestionably, the party of Allah – they are the successful”

  30. Avatar


    August 21, 2015 at 1:33 PM

    Why do people have to give such unrealistic advice about parents? People forget that after one has been raised wrong and oppressed BY THE PARENTS then these qualities that are needed to follow these steps are non-existent. One is basicly supposed to do something that requires tools that we don’t have. People need to get real. Once the parents have shattered the confidence of their child and continued with their destructive behaviour as well as failing in understanding their offspring, then how is a person supposed to lets say “talk calmly about these problems” when the family tradition doesnt have such an habit to begin with, neither does one have the ability to? That is a recipe for an arguement. Allah does not burden a person beyond his scope yet when i read the advice people give on bad parents, it seems we are expected to become these super affectionanate psychologists who also should be able to forsee how the parent will react to this or that word. Enough is enough. One comes for help and leaves feeling evil for not being able to do what one doesnt have the ability to do.

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    Hafizulla Shaik

    October 26, 2015 at 8:35 PM

    Assalamu Alaikum

    I totally disagree with the thought provoking story the author of the article has mentioned here.

    If C did bad to B, then D did bad to C, same thing when E did bad to D coz D did bad to C

    if that is the case then we have to say that some of our ancestors were bad and it is why it happened like that ! We cannot blame other people on our actions ! We are responsible for our actions.

    Both the parents and the children should respect to each other and fear Allah. Both have rights which Allah gave and no one can deny that ! I request the author to correct his article by mentioning what Allah mentioned about to keep a check on everyone that is including ourselves.

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    December 11, 2015 at 1:29 AM

    Salaam everybody.

    My local Imam has no influence what so ever on how we live our life in our house. The culture has a massive influence. (Pakistani background).

    Today i am 37 years old. I can remember as a child growing up could watch only British programmes on TV. For me it was either the boring news, football, cartoons, games shows and watching movies.
    In fact going to a british school i enjoyed Christmas a lot more eid.

    Suddenly, it was 1992 world cup cricket and every pakistani family I knew in my area who did not have a satellite dish at that time, had one just to watch England v Pakistan final. Sadly, the dish was not returned after pakistan won the world cup.

    This is where my problems began. I have never had any problems with my dad sending money back home to their parents, they earned the money obviously. But this new aAsian TV channel brought in more problems into my life,family life than anything else. I was told as a child, ‘son this TV drama is a reality’. 25 years later my cousin came from Pakistan and says the same thing in exact words.

    Being one of the first generation in britain life was very tough. By the time I left high school another new phenomenal break through happened in my life. I finally bumped into Islam. It was a new and exciting thing I had never experienced before. All of a sudden I could meet and interact with so many other different cultural backgrounds because of the real Islam. This was the first time I was able to express my issues with anybody so openly, because my culture has not allowed me to communicate to my parents. It has always been one way radio channel.’ Son this, son that’.

    Every evening the tTV programmes that were once British had now been replaced by depressing Pakistani (and Indian) serial dramas. (Son this is reality). Depressing Ary/Geo news. The serial drams they watched was always about torturing women in forms of marriage. (One big reason why I now tell young british Pakistani’s to say. Hell No. Not marrying back home. Just look at the serial dramas you don’t want to be in that position.)

    So terror to women in our sub-indian continent is entertainment, but in Islam and UK it is a breach wwomen’s right. 25 years later unfortunately it is still a reality.

    Now back to the main topic. Ahem…My fathers version of Islam.finish work from night shift .pray fajr salah at the mosque come home watch ary/geo news 20 people dead.
    Watch news before zuhr salah anorher 10 dead. Go to mosque pray zuhr come back , well watch news another 15 dead. By the time it is isha salah 100 people would have died in one day. I mean come on man Heathrow airport is around the corner as a hobby you could do plane spotting.

    My mum passed away just after 9/11 happened. For me that was a major culture shock discovery. Where suddenly mytreligious identity was being advertised in the most negative way possible and my main mode of communication (my mother) through to my father passed away. It was the most toughest thing to do. Trying to talk to my father through the islamic way. He will never respect your opinion , because ‘son you don’t know anything’. The only way to communicate to him in a normal fashion way is when he is watching TV. And if there are as any good news on TV(highly unlikely on ary / geo) that was the time to tell him the good news. My only way of communication when the TV is on. Sometimes I think Iwill tthrow a TVin when he passes away. I know astaghfirullah. But what more can I do.

    The art/geo and zee news TV channels are not addressing with real issues for young people in Britain
    Such as terror related topics. And because of this culture divide I am seeing more and more depressed British Muslims because their fathers culture told them something different and son you are wrong all the time. How much tolerance can Islam teach I really don’t know because when you get to breaking point its me against this barrier culture and this is coming from someone who travelled once every 3 years to Pakistan when my mother was alive. My mom uncle and aunties love affection for us was the only for thing that made us want to come back to Pakistn.

    Most Muslim parents hate me in my area because their children would connect more easily with me rather than their parents. My message is very simple to those parents. You brought your kids here, not the other way round.
    You need to adapt, understand the lifestyle around you. Stop mixing your cultural issues with religion.

    I don’t know how many times Ihave told white eEnglish people, that when I look at their qualities and my cultural people qualities I wonder how it is us who are mMuslims and not them.

    Alot of eEnglish people ask me why Muslim s are not protesting against terrorism. The problem is the TV channels that they watching do not address or resolv th and issues. This is why I come back to where Istarted at the bbeginning. My imam has no influence whatsoever on what goes on in our house.

  33. Avatar


    February 21, 2016 at 12:37 PM

    may Allah sub ah watahalla reward u abundantly…. am also facing this kind of problem with my parent including the entire family….. I don’t even no what to do again….. my mum and dad started cursing me, saying bad thing just because I want to follow the word of ALLAH and his prophet.

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    Just a Muslim

    April 2, 2016 at 11:53 PM

    Assalamu alaikum. Lel, I was laughing when I read the title. It reminds me of what I had to go through in my preliminary days of serious islam. Mother of tests indeed. Leaves you hanging between life and death.

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    Parent fm USA

    April 30, 2016 at 8:54 PM

    Assalamu alaikum sisters and brothers across the pond and beyond. I am a parent of four teenagers, all born and raised herein the west but both my wife and I grew up in Bangladesh. I read the article and many of the comments that have been posted on the site for so many years. Mashallah this is a timeless article, very important and useful conversation, we all need to have. That’s probably why we still are reading and commenting on the article, after so many years. I hope the article has helped some of the readers and insha Allah the author is receiving benefit of giving sadaqa every day.

    I have a request and an advice. The request is to the new generation. Please do not stop talking, either at home or on a forums like this. Professionals in the field of human relations will testify the immense benefit of one being able to express oneself.

    Second – please consider the fact that change takes time and a lot of effort. If you are trying to influence your parent in their way of thinking do not expect drastic change overnight. It is a very slow process, over a very long period of time. Most important thing to remember is why you are trying to change your parents attitude and idea of being an ideal Muslim. If your intent is so that you can have the life you want with or without your parents acceptance, please be patient, at least until you are old enough to go on your own. Once you are an adult and you do not think you can lead your life the way your parent would like you to, under their roof, please walk away. pleas leave home and go on your way. Remember western societies offer you this opportunity very easily. Please do not harm your parents, emotionally or physically. (Note the incident in California, USA in April 2016 with a family and their boys.)

    If you are trying to influence your parents way of life for the sake of Allah, Alhamdulillah. Remember your reward is with Allah and is for your sincere effort, regardless of result. Please be patient, keep talking and keep asking Allah for his guidance and help. Allah is most just, most merciful and promises reward for each good deed of his slaves, many fold. May Allah accept all our sincere efforts and make us proud to be from the best of the ummah, insha Allah.

  36. Avatar


    May 9, 2016 at 9:42 AM

    Patience and Salah are the only ways to get out of any circumstance. Allah has his own way of bring about best from the worst. Read how this happened to a girl in an ispiring story Sarah.

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    June 23, 2016 at 7:53 PM

    My parents are really annoying. They want to take me to weddings fully dressed from head to Toe. I ask my mother to let me wear a scarf Atleast, always a huge fight breaks-out.
    My papa doesn’t want me do parda at all..
    Sometimes, I get confused because of my parents.

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    July 17, 2016 at 4:07 PM

    I’m a revert ( almost 3 years) it has been of course a adjustment for my family but things seemed to be going ok. Recently however in a conversation my mother got angry, (political issues) and made the choice to never speak to me again. she and I have a long history of her rejecting me, I’ve been on my own since 15. I do want a relationship with her, but am feeling exhausted with trying. At this point it’s only my love of Allah that is pushing me to find peace with her. But I’m also feeling that to do so I’m some how required to say my beiliefs are not important. Advice please how can I go to her with out comprising myslef and make peace.

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    August 26, 2016 at 5:17 AM

    Assalamu aleykum
    I need help. My father smokes in front of my pregnant wife. In the same car as her. In the same room as her.
    Both me and my wife find the smell repulsive.

    I feel like he has many other dirty habits. Not waking up for Fajr. Getting angry with me constantly for not shaving my beard. Publicly ridiculing me for waking him for Fajr. Or that I try and sleep after Isha and don’t stay up late (so he publicly calls me extreme).

    I know that it is so wrong to be rude to parents. But I find myself struggling to keep my cool. I just don’t know how to deal with these situations. Especially when he smokes in front of my pregnant wife.

    I find myself thinking that I perhaps after I have a baby (InShaAllah), it would be best to cut off from my father. Because he will smoke in front of the baby as well. And it’s so unhealthy to do so. But I know that would be wrong.

    I don’t know what to do… Any advice?

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    September 23, 2016 at 9:37 AM

    Assalamualaikum. This was such a good article. If it is alright, I’d like to seek advice of a problem i am facing. I always try to be righteous to my parents. I always obey what they wish. However, they love to do things that they believe is ‘good for me’ when I find it embarrassing at times. I mean, I always try to reason with what they want but they continuously ignore what I think about some matters. It made our relationship strain and it made me depressed and my anxiety took a turn for the worse. I find it better when I am far away in university and rarely see my parents. Am i being sinful??

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    On a quest

    October 1, 2016 at 11:51 AM

    Salam, Hello

    It is very disturbing to give credits to the “super no matter how, super parents rights”. Islam is all about a very just, balanced and realistic relatioship with Allah. We are living such a time where it is common to hear statements that Allah the most fair is backing even utterly unjust deeds, such as damaging the psyche of a child for his lifetime, just because it has been done by “parents”. Such statements are not only very dangerous on the signal they may give to fragile persons who might be tempted to think ” well, then if Allah is backing injustice, what ‘s the point of worshiping him and having a good opinion of him??” I had personnally been through such a dreadfull process and it took me decades to deconstruct the manipulation, all praise due ONLY to Allah !!! But it also has a very lasting effect in that it destroys talents and creativity of those abused children. When you are coping with rage, you can’t give attention to developp your talents.

    It is about time for muslims all over the world to simply act as humans, and not resort to those cultural tricks to infantilise their children because they think they are their things. No, it is a deposit and you will be held accountable for this.

    I suscribe to the story reported at the end by the author. In the fact that it reminds us of a very popular tale “Chicken come home to roost” . So you disrespected your child, abused him, so you were obsessed with the idea of continuously shaming him/her, make him feel culprit and you expect him/her to respect you???? You know what this is? Arrogance. Frankly, most of parents came to the West, poor, illiterate, they got married as poor, they have witnessed the fact that Allah is the one who provide and soon they were given from Allah bounties, they start to pick arrogantly on a propective spouse: No, he is poooor!!!!! Most of them they felt what it is to be labelled as a stranger for years and yet they have the guts to reject someone because he is black, not from the same village…. you know what that reminds me? It reminds of Allah verse: ” And be not like those who forgot Allah , so He made them forget themselves. Those are the defiantly disobedient”.

    What puzzles me is the cowardise of some parents who hide behind the fact that they were also abused as a child to justify their ugly stance. Thus, let me tell you bro! i met some non muslims who have been physically and psychologically abused and were mature enough to handle this and move on to give their child another perspective than this pessimistic view of life. So what??!!!, you suffered, then you make the child pay your bills??? No, behave like a sound human and carry your own burden on your shoulders….And after, they still have the guts to read with a heedless heart ” Allah does not burden a soul more than what it can carry” and pass over it without pondering on the aya…

    Parents; you wrecked your own life? you did not fulfill your own dreams and want your child to live your fantasy?? Fear Allah, it is not your child, not your property: it is a test for you. If you don’t lack confidence, are proud of the so called education you gave him/her, why are you freaking out?

    A quick note to parents coming to the West. If you want to fill in your stomach with burgers, enjoy credit cards, etc and expect when you reach your elderies that your children will “go back” with you to your so called countries…you are a dreamer, you are not serious and if you do force your daughter/son to envision their lifes there after you take state social benefits for years in their names, so that all of you would enjoy your retirment away from “kuffars”, you are a joke. Be decent. Those who stayed back their home countries did not die after all, they had there three meals all those years just like you but they had the decency not to ask for the impossible. They pondered before moving, why did not you do so?

    But in every difficulty there is an opportunity. Personnally, i was exposed to kind, loving, peacefull non muslim families ( one of them became muslim) , i discovered how just Allah is, in that, he gives to all poeple wonderfull qualities for them to use and it made me reassess the filth of my parents digusting racist views. A daunting task thus is to differentiate btw actions and poeple, hate the actions not the persons. It is very hard when you are dealing with disgusting persons who for decade were accustomed to arrogance and thinking they are superior to others. What make them more disgusting is their persistent stance as nothing happened. They always wanted to control fate despite that almost everything they wanted fail. They are quick on putting the blame on everyone else but themselves. Oppressive parents usually have their favorite child who they blackmail, bully, with their eyes filled with the poison coming straight out their hearts. They miss no occasion to make you feel miserable even in front of others, when everything is fine for you there are in grief and as soon as you have a low point they are like Hyenas amassing around a cadaver. And here comes their favorite propaganda :”We told you, we are Allah’s partners and its official speakers, you are cursed by him!!!”

    What do you expect from such parents? All other criterias being equals, You want to know why muslim countries and minorities in the west are labelled as backward? You want to kwow why so many youngsters are growing up with hatred in their hearts that entice them to blow themselve? You wanna know why depression and other mental diseases are spreading like plague? You want to know why early muslim generations were so successfull in their life ? you wanna know why once muslim lands produced the like off Ibn sina, ghazali, Ibn rushd, ibn khaldun and many others who still shine centuries after their death? Investigate families because they are the nucleus of a society.

    This topic has to be re adressed on more rational, senseful ways and not through a so called superstitious mystical way! I am sorry but if you are impotent, you are impotent. if you are harsh hearted, you are harsh hearted. If you are a racist, you are a racist!! Nobody could be more pedagogue than Prophet Muhammad (Salla Allah Aleyhi wa salam) yet he spoke the truth without feeling fear. He cancelled forced marriage, he changed names given by foolish parents to their children, etc….

    And at the end a final advice from Ali ( May Allah be pleased with him) :” Do not force your children to behave like you, for surely they have been created for a time which is different to your time.” This one is specially dedicated to parents who are tempted to plan the life of their children for times where themselve will be busy dealing with their deeds in their graves…


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    insane not insaan

    October 4, 2016 at 5:34 PM

    Ok. those who read this, i want you to picture yourself in this situation. your mother finds out for the first time that ur having a girlfriend. what would her reaction be? i think the last thing that wud pop up into your mind wud be your mother completely goin mental. ……… it doesnt stop there. and then banging on the bathroom door really hard till you open the door…… only to grab your arm and bite it really really hard till her entire teeth marks r imprinted on to your skin. and how do you response to that. ofcourse, you buy her flowers like the author suggests.
    that was 1998. i was 15.
    if you think a person like that can change you’re very wrong. if you think your prayers to god can make a person like that change you’re very wrong. u cant make someone who gave birth to you love you. you cant teach a mother how to love. if its not there its not there. its a hard n bitter reality i had to learn that your mother and father doesnt love you. that they dont even know what love really is.
    i also learned tht there r millions of people like me. in pain, confused, twisted, broken. broken into million pieces. i can go on n on.
    here is the important part. does god address this issue. yes. where? in the quran. the reason god mentions the relationship of ibrahim and his father is to teach us all a lesson. his father was a toxic parent. his stubborness, arrogance, ignorance was greater than the love he had for his son. a prophet. can you imagine that? we all prolly would sell our kidneys to have a son who’s a prophet right! but in the eyes of his father he was a huge dissappointment. the story ends with him threatening his son and ibrahim decides its best to leave his home. the lesson that i learned from this story is that you have to do whatever thats necessary for your survival. we all belong to god. not our parents. you have god given rights that no humanbeing can violate. you have a responsibility to take care of your being. you get only one chance to do that. if you have loving parents then all praise is to god. if you have miserable ones then all praise is to god. if you have bad parents know that ibrahim also had a bad parent. n he left him. god didnt punish him for that. and god never will. i want to write
    more but its already too long. m kinda impatient. and i agree with what ‘on a quest’ has written. must have had a really rough time. i can sense the pain in his comment.

    bless you all

    • Avatar

      On a Quest

      October 5, 2016 at 11:04 AM

      Salam, hello

      I feel sorry for what you have been through and at the same time happy to notice that you were able to distinguish your unique worth as a being not a thing or an impersonnal proxy human being. The first reason why I reacted to this post was, like you, for those who are reading, specially the youngsters. The main message is deconstruct, ponder, develve profoundly into matters so that you could get away from manipulation and undue guilt: you are not unfaithfull to your parents if you wanna survive. And you made a very good point, many stories in the Quran revolve around toxic family members: Noah, Yussef, Loth, Ibrahim, etc(Peace be upon them)…and the message is: Do not be afraid to leave and make distance if it is better for you cannot fulfill anything sound when you are surrounded by people who do not consider your entity. Allah also casted light on what is being good parents like Luqman or Ibrahim ( here a quick note it is not because you distance yourself with toxic parents that a so called curse would pursue you like a bee behind honey!!!!) look at the discussion Ibrahim and Ismael had!!!! what a discussion!!!! what a sense of trust!! with a child!!!

      Of course, we are not talking about regular cases specially during teenages (Your mum, dad prevents you from going out at night, etc…actually you will thank them:)), no we are talking about toxicity, the kind that still mark your personnality at adulthood. It is a duty for anyone who reads those lines to safeguard himself, believe me, the bill is tremendous to pay. Yes, everything in life is a test, and perhaps having psycho parents is part of a test, and it is like the author suggested a serious one. But because it might be a test, you deprive yourself from distinguishing what’s right from what’s false????. If there was one single goal of Divine test is for you to have and get Bassirah (distinguishing precisely what’s right from what’s wrong).

      You are right too. It is not always possible to discuss, exchange as some parents are not equipped to envision the benefits of this stance. It’s not that they don’t want, it is that they can not. On an intellectual, cultural, psychological levels. And saying this is not disrespectful.

      Beware of two types of persons: those who insist on giving you advices on the basis that you do not know and those who claim absolute authority. If one of your parents keeps on insisting always on your negative sides and never told you one single positive thing they appreciate in you, then get out of the trap. If you wanna move on in a decent way toward your life or the process will be very costly.

      My advice if i might give one is do not stay alone. Be surrounded with poeple, different types of poeple but mostly optimistic and positive ones, the ones who remind you that no, your life has not to be this way anyhow and your struggle to be a decent human being is a just one. By being active this way you would balance things based on concrete cases plus fill in your heart, your brain with something else than stress when your mum or dad is around…Allah could do anything he wants, indeed, he yet posed as a Law that he does not change the situations of poeple unless and only if they want genuinely to change themselves. Decades pass and sometime you still hear the same words you use to hear when you were a kid…..only that this time, your own kids is witnessing this with you….and stare at you with incomprehension in their eyes filled with fitra…


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    October 19, 2016 at 6:52 PM

    Dude, my parents would rather die than letting me marry who I want or someone who doesn’t even speak their language or someone who is not in same culture. This is not a joke. It was never ever accepted in our culture since world war 1 or something and my parents have a massive link of relatives around the world. Those very few, like 2 or 3 from my relatives who married someone who was in different culture or different language got kicked out and they are living peacefully somewhere. If I do marry someone like that, my parents will be sssoooo embarrassed and guilty and the ties of relatives will be cut off, and that is it. So, man, do not think this life is as easy as few million explanations. I am not saying that I do want to marry someone like that, in fact, I just don’t really care about marriage and don’t have any hope that I will get a good wife. I don’t really care. I just want to die as soon as possible and go to whichever destination Allah wills. you know, its all up to my parents on everything, from my cloth choice to marriage choice, its all up to them. I am just scared that my sisters aren’t same as me when it comes to Iman and religion despite the fact that we live in a Western country. My sisters don’t really care about culture nor religion, they are growing in a western style because my parents don’t bring them up well, they just spend all their time torturing me. So there is a high possibility that my sisters can go in the wrong way (according to my parents). Neither way, I don’t really care. I am a foster kid in the first place. I am just gonna go university and stay away from home for 5 years and then come back to marry some random one, and just escape from home as I am allowed to because I am adopted. And then pay back all the money I have to from somewhere else. Love is an invaluable thing which they do not deserve for what they have been doing to me.

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    abdul khaaliq

    November 5, 2016 at 11:23 PM

    Abdul Khaaliq
    Asalaamu alaikum wa raghmah tullaah wa barakahtu
    i have read almost all the the comments made on this topic and a lot of valid and truthful points have been made. my story is a bit long so i urge you to have some sabr with me inshallah. it is with great sadness for me to say that i have tried all i could within the power & ability that Allah has bestowed upon me to get my mother to love me, but too no avail. i am the second youngest of 8 boys & 1 girl and the only legitimate child to the best of my knowledge. sad to say not one of our marriages escaped the clutches of divorce. now i am not saying this to bad mouth my
    parents but it is all relevant to the question that i am going to pose. recently my mother ended up living with myself, second wife and her kids which i regard & treat like my own (alghamdulilaah). this however is not the first time in the past three years that i am married to my second wife.
    in my previous marriage she lived with me once after she and my late father was divorced, only because my baby brother was wanted by gangsters and was almost stabbed to death and no else would take them. he was also the reason she left there and a big part of the reason my parents got divorced.

    it has been difficult to process with all that has taken place and not to judge but alghamdulilaah i have managed to do so. currently this is the fifth time she has lived with us and she made it very hard to have patience with her. now i am not a perfect muslim, father, son or husband but i strive to be inshallah. we live in a wendy house and for those of you who don’t know, it is a 3 by 6 room with a small bathroom & kitchen. my bed is an arms length from my mom’s. i know that she does not want to live with me as she made it apparent not too long ago as her eldest son is her favorite and she praises him similar to what we should Allah if i must say so. as Allah is my witness i tried my best to be a good son to her doing whatever is halaal to please her but this does not even come close to best haram he does to her like chucking her out of his house like an animal swearing at her whenever he so desires. now my mom is in good health physically but i am led to believe she has a brain disease called dementia, only it is difficult for me to believe this as she functions perfectly when she speaks ill about others, oppress others, curse others, belie others and the list goes on……..

    my reason for this is that, this is the same person that i grew up with and her ways has not changed as far as i see it, not like she was not like this when she was younger. recently our youngest daughter was raped and it seems that she hates this 9 year old child with the way she treats and speaks about her to others. i also found a knife hidden within our place wrapped in some tissue paper and found it was stolen from my sisters place after my mom said she want to stab someone at our place. some nights i hear her speaking to Allah after her supplications to Allah saying things like (O Allah take these people away out of my life for this is not where they live) not to mention the more ugly things mentioned. she is driving me to a point where i am loosing my respect for her as she does not want to except the words of Allah when i speak to her. as soon as i have her cornered with the truth she says to me but you know i forget and to make things worse i have a mother in-law that is similar but younger.

    my mom is 79 and a week ago went missing after spending a weekend at her sisters place, or so i thought. after searching for three days it came to my knowledge that she is hiding out at her eldest son,s house. thus far he or she have not even sent me a text to say she is safe or there. i know she wants to be there and have then since packed her clothes to send to his place not that this is how i want to do it but………………..
    however i still feel bad as like i am doing something wrong, knowing that it wont last long before she is out of there again (still a make duah for her). there is one memory of my childhood that keeps on haunting me and that is, i remember clearly how she would iron the bed warm for us in winter before we got in bed and this make me wonder if i should give her another chance. now there is many things i have not mentioned that is far worse than what i have. she is my mother and i love her but when i asked if she loves me, her reply was (i love all my children) and that is all i ever got regarding that question. it seems that she determine to break up my marriage, also she refuses to except the truth.

    i am well aware of the fact that jannah lies at the feet of thy mother but does it mean she can be unjust and oppressive to others or does her old age exempt her from being held accountable for her actions. am i making the rite choice to let her go as i don’t want to keep her here against her will. is it wrong of me to believe that she had her life and it is time for me to live mine and be the best to my family as related by Muhammad(SAWS). how do you have patience with a mother that curse you more than anything else and then tries to put you on a guilt trip.
    i have thought about this all week long and decided that i don’t ever want her living with me or visit us until she has changed her ways and was told i am throwing my jannah away. is this wishful thinking, i don’t know what to do? am i wrong to consider the rites of my wife and children that has been nothing but good to her treating her better than any of my siblings. i am told to remain silent if she curse and utters wrongful statement and lies. my mother does not like it when i am just and truthful nor does she like the fact that my family is obedient to me and Allah know this only happens by being sincere as it is no secret that it is very difficult to attain respect, love and obedience from children that many refer to as step.

    i need some advice regarding this matter.

  45. Avatar

    Abdul-Rehman Ali

    November 6, 2016 at 7:29 AM

    Assalaamu Alaykum brother. May Allah reward your effort to be kind to your mother. Please don’t turn back. Now you should even do more to be close and kind. Be patient, patience pays

  46. Avatar


    July 25, 2017 at 4:47 PM

    I grew up with parents who will make Abu Lahb and Yazid look like angels. Since the of 1, all I can remember is PAIN from these so called parents from hell. My father took everything from us by the time I was 4 and even tried to sell us for money. He lived a luxurious life while we grew up as orphans helped by others! My mother was mentally sick since the start and treated me in a way that many of her friends over the years almost slapped her in the face for treating a child with such brutality. You name it cursing, praying for my death, loss, pain and setting her pups to bark at me all day long. I was a little child but I heard everyone say this is not a mother is suppose to be like and her cruelity and abuse has always been reserved for me. Nothing will please this trash from hell and they never changed! Since the age of 5, I was always left ALONE! Allah never sent anyone in my life either. However I did get love from one person no one can ever expect. GREAT HOLY PROPHET MUHAMMAD Sallallahu Alaihe Wasalam. I saw Him in a dream where He told me this huge and unbearable trial will lead me to Jennah!
    Its very easy to go on about ranks of parents in Islam. I wish Islam had shed some light on the cruel horrible people who should never have been parents in the first place. The worst wound you can have in your entire life is by your own parents who treat you worse than enemies. I tried to tolerate but let me tell you devil and satan will stay the same and its better to leave them. You complain to Allah for not helping you. You will have to help yourself. With such horrible parents from hell who are torturing your soul every second of the day, they are not worth ruining your life. You will suffer and God Forbid become bitter and mental like them if you continue to stay with such filth. Such unjust parents can go to hell. Leave them and never ever allow them to influence your future decisions as they will try to ruin your friendships, marriage and relationships with any other person. Such parents are extremely jealous and their only aim is to make you miserable.

  47. Avatar


    December 23, 2017 at 12:11 PM

    Would anyone answer me please; what to do when a mother of a 25 yo daughter is jealous of her, always trying to let her down not in front of her siblings and husband (all living together) but in front of other relatives who visit as guests, saying gheebat about her, making her life miserable with uncontrollable control.
    I know every single ayat and hadeeth about parents right. Moreover, please don’t tell me Allah tells me to deal with the problems myself but whatever happens, don’t say uff. This is not how my deen treats me.

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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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