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I Cut Ties With My Non-Muslim Daughters

Questioner

N (45-female-Canada)

Reply Date

Apr 15, 2017

Question

As-salamu` alaykum. My husband and I cut our relationship with our 2 older daughters (ages 23 and 24) about a few weeks ago because both don't believe in Islam or religion in general. Both are kafiras, although they have wonderful qualifications. They are also involved with American boys who don't practice any religion. Both my husband and I pray regularly, but I didn’t have much time for them because of my work. My husband was very nervous especially after losing his job which was a crisis in the family . My question is about the boys; we're teaching them Islam and prayer, also we explained to them the reason for cutting our relationship with their sisters. We worry about the emotional effect on them and their view of Islam and their view of family ties in Islam. Jazakum Allahu khayran .

Counselor

Answer


cut ties

As-salamu `alaikum, 

May Allah bless you for taking the time to explain your situation to us. Unfortunately this problem is quite endemic in our communities today as many people enter marriage without a proper understanding of its purpose and perhaps without prior knowledge/thinking/reflections of their own purpose and what our role as parents must be in raising children with a proper, balanced tarbiyah (ethical training) as exemplified by the Prophet (peace be upon him).

I will explain some of these things in detail because it may impact the way you think about how you interact with your two sons and also for others who will read about your situation because it may encourage reflection on our daily actions.

Individually we understand that we have been brought into this world to worship Allah Most High and this worship is not limited to the ritual acts of worship. In fact, our entire lives, our jobs, our leisure time, everything, is a part of our worship to Allah. Allah in His revelation explains that in this world, we are His representatives and reminds us that our prayer, worship, lives, and death are solely for Him. Our life on this earth is meant to further the objective of Islam and not our personal goals and desires only unless they fit within to the larger objective of doing Allah’s work.

We also know that each soul is accountable to Allah for what it does before Him. This means that this endeavor must be an individual’s effort and cannot simply be based on relationships. By this I mean if your father/mother/brother/sister is an Islamic worker or a da`i  (Islamic preacher) or a sheikh, that does not automatically guarantee anything for you when you stand before Allah.

Each individual must make a conscious effort to learn and implement that knowledge, and I would go one step further and say that this must be in the context of a collective framework to build and support the community’s needs.

It is here that marriage enters the formula. Marriage is a sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and one which is considered to be equivalent to “half of our deen.” If we spend time looking at his example, it will help us to understand that marriage is not some romantic dream to spend the rest of our lives in love and fulfilling our earthly desires. It is not meant to preoccupy us from our purpose.

Too many times when you ask people why they are no longer visible in the community, The response comes back “you know I am busy with work, family…” However, marriage is supposed to strengthen the community by bringing together two souls which in turn brings together two families which further strengthens the community and reinforces the collective work that should be happening for the sake of Allah.

At the very least, marriage is supposed to bring two people together to do Allah’s work so that each person now has a supporter and companion to continue the noble work for which we were placed on this earth, to encourage them when they are weak, to learn from them when they are strong. It is one of the reasons why we have distinct roles in marriage as each person plays an integral part in this universal initiative of Islam and Allah’s work.

This was what the Prophet had in Khadijah, ` A’ishah and all his wives. It was the basis of the relationships for the Companions and it led to a special love that united their hearts that superseded romantic love. It was love for Allah that united them and became the basis for their love and actions. It did not negate love or romance, but it did free the individuals from being subservient to the nafs (human self) of each other or themselves enough to understand their duties to Allah.

A most beautiful example of this love was seen in the lives of Abu and Umm Ad-Darda’.They were two very noble Companions who loved each other dearly but whose individual and combined purpose was the pleasure of Allah.

Living in societies that promote individualism and materialism makes this type of relationship very difficult to achieve but not impossible because Islam is a universal way of life. This is often especially so for many immigrant families who have come to Western societies to try and give their children the opportunities they never had.

The challenge is how to give your children a successful life in this dunya (this life)without sacrificing the akhirah (next life). Regarding this, if the akhirah becomes the priority instead of promoting individual needs and amassing wealth, then our dunya life will also be successful.

From what you have mentioned in your question, you and your husband neglected this in raising your daughters. While you may have prayed, you did not spend time explaining the significance of your actions and while you may have done some things that fit within the realm of Islamic culture, your daughters did not grow up with a proper understanding of Islam. So they understood the need to be good people from your examples but they did not understand that the context of that “goodness” fits into Islam.

They grew up seeing that this dunya is the priority and not Allah. And while you may have wanted them to stay true to their Muslim identity, even your priorities revolved around success in this life.

If you look at your own descriptions in your question such as describing your husband losing his job as a “crisis” and that now when you look at your daughters you see them as kafiras (female unbelievers)but with “wonderful qualifications.” It has become unacceptable for many parents to think that their children can be happy living simply (being content that they have their Islam intact).

We have become so distracted by ensuring that our children have “stuff” (material things), that they go to school and get the best education (status) and lose sight of their Islam. They do not invest in Islamic opportunities such as camps, encourage them to get involved in Islamic activities as it will take away from their study time, or spend time as families praying or doing Islamic work.

As parents, our number one role is doing our best to raise our children within Islamic guidelines. This means that Islam is the center of the model through which we live our lives. If it means having one income and living a much simpler life to ensure that one parent assists the children in being grounded in their identity as Muslims, this must be the priority.

If this cannot be the case because there is a need for a dual income (and by this I do not mean living beyond our means because we want a huge house and an expensive car), then everything else must be done to ensure that the children understand the role of Islam in their lives. This cannot be achieved by dropping our children off at Islamic school on a weekend with the hope that they will turn out to be great Muslims while as parents we do at home the opposite of what they are being taught.

Children learn primarily from what they see, not what they are told. If they see the parents making Islam the central element of their lives and thinking about what Allah wants from them, then they too will gain this by Allah’s mercy. If they see the parents only focusing on work, on keeping the house clean, on trying to gain more wealth and better things, then they will understand that as the priority.

In short, my dear sister, I am encouraging you to consider that especially now you and your husband may need to sit and see what you are placing as the priority in your lives. And to make tawbah (repentance) and ask Allah to forgive you from any distractions that may have led you to neglect your proper duty to your children. In this way, your sons will notice that you have “switched gears” and placed Islam as a priority in your life.

It is important that they realize that this is not a function of age, but rather a function of realization of your purpose in this life and that while you may have been busy with your work of this world, you are focusing on how that is connected to your relationship with Allah.

In Nuh’s situation, he did everything that he could to teach his family and people about Islam and Allah. His work was in calling people to Allah. Even at that stage he was saddened by his son’s refusal, and so Allah reminded him about his son not being from among the believers (so he did not become angry and ignore his son; instead he tried his best to encourage him to the path of Allah).

When a parent does all he or she can do, it is up to the child to make the choice. In your case, while you must now be patient, you must understand that there were other factors which played a role in the decisions your daughters are now choosing to make. And this is not in an attempt to take away the responsibility from them as they are adults and will be accountable to Allah for their own choices.

So while you have talked about trying to “guide” your daughters, remember that only Allah can guide and we can only give a message. At this point with your daughters, you can only be patient and encourage them through love and your example. Which brings me to another issue – the level of interaction your husband has with your daughters.

He has to realize that anger is one of the worst ways to deal with any problem. In fact, this probably played an integral part in how your daughters have come to learn and understand Islam and Muslim men, and to think that there is a type of righteous arrogance associated with Islam (which does not exist).

While your children were growing up, they had to deal with a mother who was obviously over stretched as you were working out of the home and trying to do all the duties at home as well. This is one of the reasons why your daughter may have internalized many things and you could not understand her reactions in her teen years and why she was seeing counselors.

Anger is one of the things that parents need to be very mindful of because it is something that can destroy children in many ways, such as taking away their self- confidence; it can propel them into destructive behavior including risky behavior which involves drugs, alcohol, sex, and in some instances suicide.

Anger is something, even in homes where Islam is practiced, that can lead children away from Allah. How do we justify our anger and negative behavior when the Prophet (peace be upon him) never raised his voice or even said “why did or didn’t you do…” as testified by Anas (may Allah be pleased with him).

Sometimes as parents, we need to stop and consider the long-term effects of certain consistent behavior traits which we possess in order that we continually try to improve ourselves. The important thing is not that children have perfect parents but that they understand that their parents are continually trying to improve themselves, that they make mistakes and can apologize for those mistakes, realize that their parents want the best for them, see and understand that their parents have dedicated their lives and are committed to Allah and His cause and to hopefully see their parents as role models.

If children do not feel safe to talk to their parents, then they will seek others who may give them wrong information. It is a huge error to think that children should be terrified that their parents will be upset with them when they do something wrong if that terror means they will not talk to their parents. Children should feel burdened by the fact that they may disappoint or anger their parents, or that their parents will be upset and lose trust in them but they should still feel safe enough to talk to them.At the very least, if they do not feel safe enough to do that, we should surround them with good uncles and aunts (related or not) with whom they may feel safe to speak to at least one of them. The challenge here is that many families do not want their children to talk to anyone because they fear that it is shameful. And this is an error because everything is kept inside to the extent that nothing is said until it is too late and the damage is too severe. At least with good family members or friends, they will give them proper Islamic advice and encourage them to talk to their parents.

At the very least, if they do not feel safe enough to do that, we should surround them with good uncles and aunts (related or not) with whom they may feel safe to speak to at least one of them. The challenge here is that many families do not want their children to talk to anyone because they fear that it is shameful. And this is an error because everything is kept inside to the extent that nothing is said until it is too late and the damage is too severe. At least with good family members or friends, they will give them proper Islamic advice and encourage them to talk to their parents.

At the very least, if they do not feel safe enough to do that, we should surround them with good uncles and aunts (related or not) with whom they may feel safe to speak to at least one of them. The challenge here is that many families do not want their children to talk to anyone because they fear that it is shameful. And this is an error because everything is kept inside to the extent that nothing is said until it is too late and the damage is too severe. At least with good family members or friends, they will give them proper Islamic advice and encourage them to talk to their parents.

Children should feel burdened by the fact that they may disappoint or anger their parents, or that their parents will be upset and lose trust in them but they should still feel safe enough to talk to them.At the very least, if they do not feel safe enough to do that, we should surround them with good uncles and aunts (related or not) with whom they may feel safe to speak to at least one of them.

The challenge here is that many families do not want their children to talk to anyone because they fear that it is shameful. And this is an error because everything is kept inside to the extent that nothing is said until it is too late and the damage is too severe. At least with good family members or friends, they will give them proper Islamic advice and encourage them to talk to their parents.

Your husband’s anger may be the only way he knows how to react but it does not justify his actions. Initially, silent treatment could work if it is done with the intention of trying to correct the situation. Now that the problem has become very huge and out of control, he has to think of how he may be able to rebuild a relationship with his daughters before he can hope they would correct their behavior. He has further damaged the relationship with his second daughter through mere suspicion, which is wrong, and he needs to apologize for that as well and try to encourage her to come back home.

It means — for both daughters — he has to apologize for taking his anger out on them and let them know it was a human failing on his part. But he can use that opportunity to let them know that he is trying to remedy that and how much he loves them and he should hug them, too. At this point, he can say to them that he is worried about the choices that they are making and he wishes they spend some time reconsidering it. They may not want to listen to him yet, as it will take

He has further damaged the relationship with his second daughter through mere suspicion, which is wrong, and he needs to apologize for that as well and try to encourage her to come back home. It means — for both daughters — he has to apologize for taking his anger out on them and let them know it was a human failing on his part. But he can use that opportunity to let them know that he is trying to remedy that and how much he loves them and he should hug them, too. At this point, he can say to them that he is worried about the choices that they are making and he wishes they spend some time reconsidering it. They may not want to listen to him yet, as it will take

At this point, he can say to them that he is worried about the choices that they are making and he wishes they spend some time reconsidering it. They may not want to listen to him yet, as it will take a time to rebuild that relationship. Your daughters sound like kind-hearted, good people by the mercy of Allah and perhaps they will eventually listen.

At the same time, you have to realize that they may not want to listen anymore, in which case do not break the ties of family. You can let them know that you are not supportive of their choices but treat them with love so that perhaps, later on, they may be open to listening to what Allah wants them to do. Your husband must remember this with his sons as well and be kind and treat them with love and compassion so that they will not feel the need to seek outside help; and even if they do, it will not be to the detriment of their relationship with both you and their father.

If as you say he became more religious as your daughters got older, then perhaps this can be a good basis for his relationship with his sons. But he cannot treat them with suspicion and he has to open up the doors of communication with all his children. While that may not fit his personality type, he has to consider that this is what needs to be done for Allah, and it is not about what he wants but about repairing relationships for the sake of Allah and hopefully opening a path for his daughters to return to practicing Islam.

Regarding your two daughters, I think that you must both be open to them. Let them know you don’t support some of their decisions but you are their parents and will always be there for them. By your opening this door, perhaps they will one day reconsider how they have come to feel about their practice of Islam. At this stage, you must now be patient and make du`aa consistently for them.

Regarding your sons, you must also realize that they are now older and it may be too late to do some things. At this stage you must try to build a solid parental friendship with them so that they know they can talk to you about whatever is on their minds. It means doing things they like to do as well. Try to get them involved in Islamic activities in your area and to have good Muslim friends.

Take them to different events (not too many to overwhelm them) so that they can begin to understand their roles and think about their purpose as Muslims. Celebrate `Eid in a grand way; give them gifts on `Eid and other times of the year. Try to make family time where you relax occasionally together. At the same time, spend your extra time doing work in the community, helping at Islamic events and the wider community, and let them understand that this is a major role of Muslims in society. Make your salah (prayer) time family time so that the entire family prays together —especially Fajr.

When you are upset, make sure you temper your anger with love so they understand that you are doing this for their benefit in this life and the next and not for anything else (sometimes explain this to them). If they have a problem and don’t feel they can talk to you at that time, remind them that they can always talk to Allah and suggest to them someone good they could talk to if they wish.

Try to have family dinner sometimes when you invite your daughters over. Make it at such a time when it will be close to prayer time. At some point when you stop to pray, invite them lightly to pray with you; if they refuse, leave them. But try to enjoy the dinner and keep things light-hearted. If your daughter chooses to get married, then you may have no choice but to accept her decision (hopefully her father can talk to her and apologize before this) and be kind to her husband.

Maybe through good encounters with you, he may discover Islam. This situation has gotten very out of hand and so the measures I am suggesting are to try and salvage what is left and with Allah’s mercy turn it around. I hope and pray that you did not take offense to anything I have mentioned; if you did, then please forgive me. My intention is to try and help you be aware of how some choices led to consequences that are now difficult to change. Perhaps others who read this will also learn as well. But there is always hope with Allah, and in Him we place our trust and rest the anxieties that trouble our hearts.

May Allah descend his mercy and sakinah (calm) upon your household and entire family. Ameen.

And Allah knows best.


Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information that was provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, it’s volunteers, writers, scholars, counselors, or employees be held liable for any direct, indirect, exemplary, punitive, consequential or other damages whatsoever that may arise through your decision or action in the use of the services which our website provides. 




About Jeewan Chanicka

Jeewan Chanicka is from Toronto, Canada, and has been involved in working with youth, education, and social services issues since 1993. He graduated with a bachelor's degree with honors in individualized studies at York University with a focus on conflict resolution and culturally appropriate forms of mediation. He has done much work with both youth and adults, especially around parenting, teenage and youth issues, and bridging the gap between generations.

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