In this counseling answer:
“As this is an issue that needs to be handled with understanding and with a great level of trust between you and your parents, if it is not deemed inappropriate in your family’s cultural background, perhaps you could attempt to pinpoint the source of your parent’s hesitation and work to address those issues specifically. Be prepared to compromise and be prepared to take a gradual approach to build up their confidence in you and the possibility of giving you more freedom.”
Your parents are probably concerned for your safety and well-being. It is often difficult for parents to ‘let go’ and allow their child their first taste of independence. As parents, we feel an enormous responsibility to keep our children safe, sometimes, however, we go to extremes and confine our children unnecessarily.
As frustrated as you might be, remember that they love you and are trying to protect you. Being a first-time parent myself, it is really incredible to see things from the other side of the fence, so to speak. All the things that frustrated us as kids, like what you are complaining about now, seem so different from the other side and you really begin to understand why your parents were the way they were.
When you have children, it’s almost like you want to do anything and everything to protect them. It’s a real test to understand fully that Allah is the protector of all of us, and as parents, we have to be able to ‘loosen the cord’ once our children begin to mature. However, please understand that deep down your parents are operating from their love for you as their daughter.
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The way I understand it, there are a few possibilities as to why your parents won’t let you socialize with friends, that have to do with either their:
-Lack of trust in you;
-Their fear of a society and the culture that allows free mixing between girls and boys;
-Their culture that may see a young woman going out of her home alone as inappropriate or dangerous;
-Or their general fear of you going out on your own and their own inability to accept that you are approaching adulthood.
Islamically speaking, ‘hanging out’ with same-sex friends is fine, but there are many things that must be considered in your situation, one of which is the issue of free mixing or socializing with members of the opposite sex, a norm in U.S. society.
According to Shaykh Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari, the ruling of not mixing with the opposite sex in Islam has its root in the following principles:
“…Islam takes the preventive measure rather then suffer the consequences. This is also one of the principles of Islamic Jurisprudence, namely ‘blocking the means’ (saddal-dhara’i). This is based on the idea of preventing an evil before it actually materializes, and is taken from the heart of the guidance of the Qur’an and Sunnah that, “Preventing harm is given precedence even to achieving possible benefits.” Obviously, the harm referred to here is the harm of fornication or adultery that might eventually result from free socializing.
In the U.S., mixing and socializing with members of the opposite sex is a norm of teenage life. However, in Islam it is seen as something that can lead to many serious sins and problems. In virtually all countries nowadays to some degree, albeit to a much greater extent in certain parts of the world, we can see how liberal social lifestyles have led to enormous social problems.
The family itself as a basic social institution is in danger of becoming virtually extinct due to the enormous problems that have developed in Western society, specifically. This must be taken as a warning to us and as a proof of Allah’s guidance in the Qur’an and through the Sunnah of His Messenger about how to appropriate interact with members of the opposite sex and how not to behave.
First and foremost, remember that the apparent social restrictions that Islam puts forth are done so with the understanding that our lives and being is for Allah alone. When this intention is pure and we are sincere, then Allah will allow us to see clearly why He has commanded us to do and not do certain things.
As this is an issue that needs to be handled with understanding and with a great level of trust between you and your parents, if it is not deemed inappropriate in your family’s cultural background, perhaps you could attempt to pinpoint the source of your parent’s hesitation and work to address those issues specifically. Be prepared to compromise and be prepared to take a gradual approach to build up their confidence in you and the possibility of giving you more freedom.
If they know and see that they can trust you, they will, in sha-Allah, give you more freedom. Love them the same way they love you. Understand them and where they are coming from so that you can forgive them and work with them in a compassionate manner. Understanding is the key to wisdom and healing, and the key to being at peace with what Allah has created for us.
Obedience to parents is a must in Islam, except when they themselves have violated the Sacred Law. In all other situations we must try our best to be patient, forgiving and kind to our parents. Trying to understand them and understand where they are coming from will work wonders for you, for what is most needed is to arrive at a mutual understanding and unity. You want them to understand you and what you want, just as you need to understand them and what they are most concerned with. So give to get. Give them your love and forgiveness, seek to understand their fears and hesitations and help them to understand yourself.
Lastly, please use your social time constructively. It is of no use to spend time involved in gossip, excessive shopping and the like. Try and use whatever social time you have with friends to get involved in educational endeavors, good causes, helping your peers, Islamic educational programs and youth groups and the like. There are many opportunities in American society to get involved in good causes so I would suggest using your social time accordingly. That might also help to persuade your parents to give you more social freedom or at least some.
In the end, understanding and forgiveness will go a lot farther than frustration and anger. Allah creates all of life’s situations for us in such a manner so that He is needed and often times, He makes it very clear to us that He Alone is needed. Don’t miss these opportunities! Through our need of Him, He is worshipped and relied upon and it is realized that He alone is the One that has power over everything, as well as being the Most Merciful and the Bestower of all the grace we receive in life.
In all of your situations in life, whether it be ‘positive’ or ‘negative’, see Allah creating a situation for you so that you can return to Him in gratitude, need, repentance and/or helplessness. Once we give ourselves over to Allah, we clean the idols from our hearts and surrender to His wisdom, in sha-Allah, He will help us in whatever it is that we face in life. We must first understand that the only goal to any of this, however, to life itself, is Him and to Him alone. Islam is not an end in itself, it is a means to an end. Don’t ever see Islam as a barrier or an impediment. Understand that it is the means and the path to achieving a potential you never thought or realized was possible.
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