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Worried About My Son From Non-Muslim Parents

Questioner

S(32-female-UK)

Reply Date

Jan 31, 2019

Question

As salamu 'alaykum, I have given birth to my son who is now 5 months old. We are living with my parents and my husband is still in his country of origin. We hope to reunite soon in sha 'Allah. Life has been a real struggle over the past 5 months. I left my parents to go back down south earlier this year. I stayed with my sister-in-law for 1 week, however, due to various reasons, I decided that living with her wasn't the best option; so I returned to my parents house after 1 week on the understanding that I wanted my son to be brought up in the Islamic faith –

I made that very clear on the phone to my mother; she agreed and said: "It's OK, the religion is hardly in my face, it's up to you how you bring up your son". However, when I returned home, I soon realized that things hadn't changed at all. In the past two weeks, my Qur'an has been thrown in the bin by my father, and I have been told by my father and mother, to never bring 'this' in the house again. I also made it clear to my mother before I returned home that my son should not be given any food that contains non-halal meat. Just yesterday, I caught her trying to give my son bacon (thinly sliced pork), and I quickly grabbed it from her. When my back was turned, I heard both my parents laughing about the matter.

Every time I mention Islam, you can feel the tension in the room. My father curses Pakistani people on the television despite knowing that his grandchild is half Pakistani on his father's side. I can't move out as I only receive child benefit and child tax credits and it's not enough to live on. The only option is to return to work as I am currently on maternity leave, but it means leaving my child in a nursery and I don't want to leave him with some stranger. I also don't want to leave him with my mother as I am scared she will carry on with this un-Islamic behavior behind my back, ignoring what I have told her.

If it wasn't for my financial situation, I would leave my parents home immediately. I am so unhappy with the situation in my parents house, and the pressure I am under. I haven't shaved my son's hair, and I have lied to my husband telling him that it has been done, and that our son has been circumcised ( in case my parents erupt) – I am so worried that my religion is in jeopardy. Is it essential for my son's hair to be shaved? I have shared my concerns with my husband on the phone, but he just says it's my own fault for returning to my parents house. He insists that I should move back down south again. I should also mention that the reason things did not work out at my sister-in-laws, was because the house itself is too crowded [small].

I wasn't receiving the help that I needed when it came to looking after the baby. Despite expressing my concerns about receiving visitors, she still invited them up until 12 midnight. These visitors would allow their children to run around the house. As a result, my baby would be up half the night screaming, and I just couldn't cope. I love my sister-in-law to bits, but I find it difficult to live with her and my husband felt the same way when he was living in the U.K.

She often talks too much, and invites people to her house and hour of the day. It was all too much. I really need help and advice, because each day gets harder and harder, and I honestly feel I am distancing myself from my religion and Allah. I cannot pray in my house for fear of my parents finding out, and I cannot read the Qur'an. I don't know what to do.

Counselor

Answer


In this counseling answer:

•You can remain at your parents home in acceptance of who they are, so that there is a chance that they will accept who you are. Stay away from what causes contention between you and your parents, and take responsibility for your son in a way that he is not left alone with one or both of them.

•When they are busy, take the chance to do your prayers in your own room. Go out with your son, to places where Muslims habituate, or/and go to a place where you have Internet access which would allow you to read the Qur’an online, or/and to print a copy of a verse/chapter of the Qur’an online. Regarding food, your son is too young to be taking food.

•Discuss the problems that you have been facing with your husband, in this way, he will be fulfilling his role by sharing with you, even though it is via phone.


As salamu ‘alaykum  my dear sister in Islam.

You made a choice, despite being aware of the consequences, but your desire for the love and attention of your parents, at a time, when any mother needs support, prevented you from seeing what you and your son is being subjected to now.

Prophet Muhammad said: “He who does not respect our elder, or is not merciful to the young, or does not feel indebted to the scholars, is not of my Nation” (Abu Dawud # 4921, and At-Tirmidhi #1925)

Mercy and compassion are essential components of building a Muslim society, and it starts with how we raise our child, who after all are the future. When we only expect obedience, we treat our children as extensions of ourselves to do our bidding, and to be who we want them to be. Their character, their feelings, and their needs are denied, because we are essentially treating them like slaves, which in Islam, was not how slaves were treated in the time of Prophet Muhammad, but is how slaves have been treated by the secular world.

By showing respect to our children, and with that the compassion of mercy, we develop emotional ties, which all humans needs regardless of age, and in so doing we establish a loving, caring relationship that is reciprocated. In this way, the child learns, love, learns compassion, learns to give and learns to listen, because we too listen to them.

karim serageldin & naaila clay

All human relations provide an opportunity to learn about ourselves because each person is like a reflection. Given that how a person relates to you is not always determined by you, but maybe due to someone or something else, but still there is a certain level of give and take in the interaction between two people. This is even more so with children, because they have come into the world through the mother, and are being raised in a social environment that will have the strongest influence on that child’s perception of self and perception of human relations. Therefore how a child relates to you, is much more related to you and the environment that you have helped to create. If you demonstrate for example:

  • Love as a convenience
  • Backbiting
  • Straightforwardness
  • Keeping promises
  • Being lazy
  • Compassion
  • Inattentiveness
  • Unworthiness
  • Racism/bigotry
  • Self hate

Then these are the qualities that a child will learn from you.

Your parents are creating an ugly environment in your presence, so the likelihood of that continuing when you are not present is apparent. You were wrong to expect your parents to change overnight, especially when they made it apparent when you was with child, how they felt about Muslims. You are helping them to build further resentment towards Islam, by “putting in your mother face”, what she said would not be in her face when she agreed over the phone.

 

It is only through your acceptance that these are the feeling of your parents, that you and your son can survive in their home. It calls on you to be caring, loving and compassionate to your parents, and it calls on you to understand that Islam does not desire to be spoken about, but to be practiced.

The anchor are the acts of worship, but the human relations of Islam requires the nurturance of love for the sake of Allah, which means accepting the faults of others, as we all have faults, and not discussing with them that which disturbs them. By approaching your parents head on in the manner that you have, can only make them feel that you think of them less than your religion, hence you bring into your relationship with them, a strong element of competitiveness.

A child who is nurtured amidst faith and with that faith, mutual trust, mutual respect, mutual love, and mutual compassion will naturally develop a sense of belonging as well as a sense of self. They will develop skills and abilities according to their inclination. With a sense of belonging, comes taqlid, emulation, and in sha ‘Allah, the child will have good role models to emulate. You have to decide, what it is you want your son to emulate, and if that process of emulation there is a core thread of self-destruction.

Sitting down and fretting for your deen and your obligations is bound to tie you in a knot whereby you find it difficult to make a decision, but a decision will have to be made. You have a choice regardless of your current situation.

If you Leave

*You have the choice to explain your intentions to the friends of your husband, so that they will be patient and know that your intention is good.

*You have the choice to return to work

*You have the choice to place your son in daycare where he will be other children whom he can relate to.

*You have the choice of allowing your son to learn self hate through his grandparents or to learn self respect through daycare of which there is many to choose from with a multicultural learning environment

*You have the choice, after a while, when you can afford to, to place your son with a trusted (licensed) Muslim sister who caters for small children as a nanny.

Ready or not, you have that choice.

What about a place to live?

*You can remain at your parents home in acceptance of who they are, so that there is a chance that they will accept who you are. Stay away that causes contention between you and your parents, and take responsibility for your son in a way that he is not left alone with one or both of your parents. When they are busy, take the chance to do your prayers in your own room. Go out with your son, to places where Muslims habituate, or/and go to a place where you have Internet access which would allow you to read the Qur’an online, or/and to print a copy of a verse/chapter of the Qur’an online. Regarding food, your son is too young to be taking food.

*You return south and stay with your sister-in-law, yes I know, you found it tough going, but you only stayed for a week, and maybe with time, your sister-in-law can adjust to accommodate your needs. In the meanwhile, you can place your name on a housing list, return to work, and learn to be patient – this is a challenge from Allah (SWT) which provides the opportunity for personal growth, and spiritual growth. I can tell you from experience, that converting to Islam and living/working with non-Muslims has its challenges, but also has greater reward.

And concerning the aqiqah (shaving the head and circumcision), it is a Sunnah practice, and it is not wajib (obligatory), but it is a practice, that some communities view as intended, a way of bringing a child into this world. Regardless of how you feel now sister, you have the ability to do what is best for you and your son, without hurting your parents, and without hurting yourself or your son.

Discuss the problems that you have been facing with your husband, in this way, he will be fulfilling his role by sharing with you, even though it is via a phone. He may be upset, but it will not hurt you to learn to share and be honest with him, to help strengthen your marriage in whatever way you can. Allow him to play his role, and to have his say, and share in the final decision. By not doing this, you rob the marriage of its purpose.

We pray that obstacles you are facing will be overcome, and that you and your husband will be re-united under one roof, in sha ‘Allah.

**

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.




About Hwaa Irfan

Late Hwaa Irfan, may her soul rest in peace, served as consultant, counselor and freelance writer. Her main focus was on traditional healing mechanisms as practiced in various communities, as opposed to Western healing mechanisms.

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