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To America for a Better Life, But with a Price

Questioner

A (45-male-US)

Reply Date

Feb 18, 2017

Question

As-salamu `alaykum. I moved to America one year ago and now my life is like a hell on earth. I brought my two daughters and my wife from across the sea to live a good life but we really live a bad life. I work hard as a taxi driver for 12 hours a day 7 days a week and I get 2 days off every second week. My oldest daughter is a big pain for us. She is 15 and has a boyfriend. I told her to stop dating this guy but she ignores me. I talked to her, I took her to counseling, and to the mosque, but she does not care for me or her mother. Now she is teaching our next daughter (13) how to date. My wife stays home all day cooking and cleaning. She is a good wife, doesn't fight, so why are the kids so bad? I don't know. We go to the mosque every morning, and every Friday for Jumu`ah Prayer as a family. We are just a good Muslim family. My daughter used to be a good girl, but now she is a Western white devil. She does not listen and is lazy in her prayers. She dates a guy who is 19 years old and has no job and ignores me. I told him to stay away. I called the cops and they said that if my daughter says there is no sex between them then they can't do anything. I moved to America for a better life. Now my youngest daughter has boyfriend who is 16. I am very sad. I cannot move back to my homeland now because I don't have any money. My wife is also sad. A perfect family but the kids are all bad; they don't study, they don't do chores. We ask them nicely, we clothe them, we house them, we feed them, we give them attention. Their mom is home all the time for their needs. I am home in the evening 7 days a week and for Morning Prayers and Jumu`ah Prayer on Friday.In the week ends, we spend it all together, just so my daughters don't feel their dad is away. But it is not enough. They want a bigger allowance now and fancy cloths. I talked to a counselor and she said my kids are normal American kids. I don't like this “normal” thing. She said I must change to fit in. My Islam is first and I do not care for any “normal” anything. What can I do? Please help me. Thank you.

Counselor

Answer


America

As-salamu `alaykum.

This is a very high price that a Muslim family is paying for settling in a non-Muslim country. I understand your frustration and disappointment in seeing your daughters losing their Islamic identity while they are trying hard to assimilate the American society with all with the worst diseases that Islam protects us from. I feel the despair and distress that you and your wife are experiencing.

Since your daughters have started developing pernicious habits that might wipe out their spiritual soul, and lead to self-destruction, you and your wife must urgently gather your willpower and all of your resources to take all the necessary steps in order to wean them of these habits immediately.

You should never buy the argument that this is the norm according to Western values; certainly, it is not permissible according to Islamic teaching to develop a relationship between a girl and a boy based on nothing but having fun. Today, it is free of sex, soon it will not be. You cannot put gasoline next to a flame and be surprised that a fire starts and destroys everything.

Never give up on your daughters. I propose the following steps that, with the will of Allah, will help you achieve your goal of bringing your daughters back to the right path of Islam as a complete and perfect way of life:

First, seek strength and guidance from Allah in dealing with this difficulty by offering more voluntary prayers and closely watching your actions and words to be in accordance with Islamic teachings so that you deserve the mercy of Allah. Both you and your wife should try your best to answer the tough question “what led to this situation?” The answers are very important in order to fix this problem.

The probability of success is dependent upon the accuracy of your self-diagnosis. You and your wife are the only ones who can honestly reevaluate every aspect of your life and determine whether you are following the principals of Islam. Are you close to your local Muslim community? Have you taught your children Islam as a way of life based on strong love and fear of Allah? How much effort did you make to develop their pride in being Muslim? After doing this self-evaluation explicitly and openly together as a couple, you should put aside any type of self-blame, and focus only on what needs to be done. Allah says,

(“Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what it is in themselves” ) (Ar-Ra`d 13:11)

Any transformation or change must start from you, then it can propagate to your children. That doesn’t mean that you are necessarily doing anything wrong, you can be the most pious of people and still your children may stray from the right path. Also, you may be sincere Muslims, but you missed the right methods to deal with children growing up in the West, being too strict or too permissive can hurt and lead to negative consequences.

Second, when all of your acts and words, including the methods you use in raising your children, are according to what Allah commanded, start working on your daughters’ attitudes and behaviors. Keep in mind that you are working with human beings who went astray not because they are young or immature, but because they don’t have strong faith. The real challenge is to develop a strong relationship with Allah and His Messenger. Afterwards, the modification of their behaviors will follow naturally.

Now the issue is not having boyfriends or what kind of clothes they are wearing, the main issue is do they really believe in the existence of Allah, and Muhammad as His last Messenger? Without this foundation of belief in their hearts and minds, there is no hope of bringing them back to the right path.

In this process, do not undermine the effect of remembering Allah and reading His words on treating all of our psychological and physical problems. Seek refuge in Allah and cry for His assistance to save your daughters and protect them. Allah says,

(“And we send down of the Qur’an that which is healing and mercy for the believers, but it does not increase the wrongdoers except in loss” )  (Al-Israa’ 17:82)

(“O mankind, there has come to you instructions from your Lord and healing for the (diseases) in your hearts, and for those who believe, a guidance and a mercy”  )(Yunus 10:57)

Third, before talking with your daughters about anything, you should agree with your wife on what you need to do or say. Be calm, firm, and consistent. Never give your children conflicting messages. Approach them with the same set of rules and guidelines after explaining the wisdom behind them. Approach your daughters with empathy, respect, and kindness.

Fourth, Avoid any kind of aggression or harsh words. At the same time, give them Allah’s message firmly and patiently. Explain to them that these types of relationships between boys and girls are committing sins that will cause the wrath of Allah. Keep communication channels open with them and try to develop their trust.

Both of your daughters have developed relationships with the opposite sex at an early age. This has happened for two reasons: First, because they have lost the deep connection with their religion; and second, because they don’t value or respect themselves, it is as if a girl by herself is not good enough unless her boyfriend makes her a complete person.

Explain to them that you and their mother are trying to help them overcome their weakness in front of their desires to save them from disgrace in this life and torture in Hellfire in the Hereafter.

Fifth, at the same time, do your best to advise your daughters to repent and come back closer to Allah. Remind them of Allah’s mercy and forgiveness for those who regret committing sins, stop, and are determined not to disobey Allah again.

(“Do they not know that it is Allah Who accepts the repentance of His servants and receives (approves) their charity, and that Allah who is the Accepting of repentance, the Merciful?” ) (At-Tawbah 9:104)

(“Say: ‘O My servants who wronged against their souls, do not despair of Allah’s mercy! For Allah forgives all sins; for He is indeed Forgiving, Compassionate” ) (Az-Zumar 39:53)

So remind your daughters not to put off repentance and to take the necessary steps immediately. The door of repentance is open as long as we are not in the throes of death, for the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Allah accepts the repentance of His servant as long as death has not reached his collar bone.” But since we have no way of knowing when death will overtake us, we must never be slack in hastening to taking steps towards repentance. Repentance, once accomplished, will undoubtedly wipe out one’s sins, and guarantee a clean record. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “One who has repented of a sin (sincerely) is like one who has never sinned at all.” This is probably easier said than done, but it is worth trying hard to save your daughters and, above all, to earn the best rewards from Allah for fulfilling your responsibilities towards your family.

Sixth, you may find it helpful to consider changing the school that your daughters go to, moving to a new neighborhood, or even a new city, where your daughters can open a new, clean page of their lives away from their old friends.

Make sure that in your new place you have strong connections with committed Muslim families. Involve your daughters in Muslim youth activities, Islamic conferences, and courses in order to strengthen their beliefs and expand their Islamic knowledge. More importantly, these activities will help them develop the sense of belonging to the Muslim community and pride in their Muslim identity.

Seventh, in order to empower your daughters to modify their behaviors and attitudes according to Islamic values, you can seek Islamic counseling, preferably from professionals in the field who are conscientious Muslims. If such Muslim professionals are not available in your local area, seek help and support from the local mosque or more senior Muslim families. Avoid completely seeking assistance from Western counselors, since they will only give your daughters messages conflicting with the Islamic teachings that you are trying to hold on to.




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