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My Father Doesn’t Deserve Kindness

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Reply Date

May 12, 2017

Question

As-Salamu `Alaykum. My problem is probably not a real problem, but it's eating me, and I need to get it out. I hate my father. He hurt my mother and treated his children badly. People say you can't control how you feel, but you can control how you act. Sometimes I forget to control myself and act on how I feel. Sometimes I am rude to my father; I know this is a big sin, but my father does not deserve kindness from his children now that we are all grown-ups. He damaged our pride and self-esteem. He limited our academic potential by giving the least necessary. He made us beg for money to pay for tuition fees, books, and other expenses not because he was poor, but because he didn't want to burden himself with us. I rememeber having to borrow books from friends year after year, and receiving the clothes that they no longer wanted. My elder siblings had sadder stories. They didn't even have enough to eat. My eldest sister lived with a step-mother who tortured her — all because of our father who felt little responsibility. My mother's story is worse. He married her, divorced her, married another, remarried her as his second wife (she agreed because of her two daughters), then divorced the other wife, left my mother with another baby plus two stepsons (and no money for sustenance) and then came back. She stayed because of the children. He has never even bought us new clothes for `Eid. I grit my teeth and try to fulfill his requests every year. He's a pensioner with no dependents (except mother) and no mortgage or loans. He's not in need of money, but he asks for it anyway. My brother and I give him money every month. Maybe I'm just holding grudges, but I am not able to forgive him. I am the most outspoken one amongst the siblings. I make it clear I love my mother and not him. I don’t treat him badly, but neither can I bring myself to treat him nicer. When I wanted to marry a man I chose, he didn't agree. I hate that he has the right to control my life. Should a father lose his rights when he neglects his responsibilities?

Counselor

Answer


My Father Doesn't Deserve Kindness

Answer:

As-Salamu `Alaykum wa Rahamatullahi wa Barakatuh my dear sister,

Thank you for sharing your story which is a sad one, indeed. As Muslims, we have much to learn about our rights within Islam—the kind of rights which are not about taking, but about giving and receiving.

“It is not lawful for you to try to hold your wives against their will, and neither shall you keep them under constraint with a view to taking away anything of what you may have given them, unless it be that they have become guilty of immoral conduct in an obvious manner. Consort with wives in goodly manner; for if you dislike them, it may well be that you dislike something which God might yet make a source of abundant good.” (4: 19)

The belief that Muslim women are possessions to be used and abused is more a product of the Western psyche and local traditions rather than Islam itself. There are duties and responsibilities that the father/husband is bound to fulfill to his wife and family. In return, as the above verse states, the male head of the household should seek consultation with his wife.

As long as the male head of the household continues to provide for his family, not only financially, but also in terms of a security that is born out of compassion, respect, and mutual understanding, there should be no grounds for complaint.

“And if a woman fears ill usage or desertion on the part of the husband, there is no blame on them if they effect a reconciliation between them, and reconciliation is better, and avarice has been made to be present in the (people’s) minds; and if you do good (to others) and guard (against evil), then surely Allah is aware of what you do”. (4: 128)

You too gave up your rights when you allowed your father to reject what may have been a suitable proposal of marriage. Under Islamic conditions, it was within your right to disagree and to seek a wali (representative) to facilitate the negotiations and the marriage itself. Your father did not have the right to control your life in the way he did—not within Islam.

Your feelings are understandable, and your father will face the consequences of his own actions (if he has not already done so), but the unfortunate thing is that those strong emotions are controlling your life in a non-beneficial way. Love is opposite to hate, and as such, it is the antidote to the poison in your heart that your father has nurtured there in his ignorance.

You say “you can’t control how you feel, but you can control how you act”; well, as far as I know, it is quite impossible! By trying to do this, you are not only creating tensions within the body, but you are splitting the mind into an unnatural state. One’s true intentions always reveal themselves eventually. In some cases, the revelation can be quite aggressive and even violent, as you have discovered, and the revelation can be unleashed on those who have nothing to do with those feelings.

These feelings, therefore, have become like an addiction which you have no control over. The only way to overcome them is to understand that your father is still a human being and is a person who has not learned from his own experiences. You, too, stand to become someone who has not learned from your experiences if you choose to do so.

Al hamdu-lillah, Allah, Most High, gave you the gift of academic ability, and your father did not deprive you of developing this intelligence. Al hamdu-lillah, you survived with a sense of yourself, which many who have gone through much less do not possess. Al hamdu-lillah.

So, instead of holding on to the addictive emotion of hate, realize that despite what happened, you have more than what your father has—you have yourself. Feel pity for him that he could not achieve what you have achieved, and let go of that hate.

Through his actions, he has pushed away from the love that he so badly needed, and that is what he needs now from you whether he realizes it or not! Only through love can he begin to understand what he has done (if he has not already), and only then he can begin to try to make amends before he meets his Creator.

You would not be doing this just for him, but you would also be doing it for your mother and for your brothers and sisters. This is where hope lies within your family – to become a family before it is too late. Yes, one can well appreciate that this is a very big thing to ask of you, but the options are not too favorable.

When you marry, in sha’ Allah, you might be surprised to find how much your current feelings for your father can affect your relationship with your husband, and even your children, if Allah (swt) wills. You have one life, and within that life, you will always have control over one aspect—the ability to change your attitude.

“The example of a believer is that of a fresh green plant – the leaves of which move in whatever direction the wind forces them to move, and when the wind becomes still, it stand straight. Such is the similitude of the believer: He is disturbed by calamities, but, like the fresh plant, he regains his normal state soon. And the example of a disbeliever is that of a pine tree which remains hard and straight until Allah cuts it down when He wills”. (Bukhari)

Try fasting, for when done with a fasting of the mind (negative thoughts), a fasting of the tongue (negative talk), and a fasting of the ears (listening to the negative talk, including backbiting and gossip), it can be most beneficial. Ponder on its aspects and significance, and treat your fast as a renewal in order to dissipate your anger, hurt, and hatred of what your father has done to you and your family.

Allah’s Prophet (saw) used to teach his companions to perform the Istikharah Prayer for each and every matter:

“If anyone of you intends to do something, he should offer a two rakat prayer other than the compulsory prayers, and after finishing it, he should say: O Allah! I consult You, for You have all knowledge, and appeal to You to support me with Your Power and ask for Your Bounty, for You are able to do things while I am not, and You know while I do not, and You are the Knower of the Unseen. O Allah! If You know that this matter (name your matter) is good for me (or my religion), both at present and in the future, in this life and in the Hereafter, then fulfill it for me and make it easy for me, and then bestow Your Blessings on me in that matter. O Allah! If You know that this matter is not good for me (or my religion), in this life and in the Hereafter (or at present or in the future), then divert me from it and choose for me what is good, whatever it may be, and make me be pleased with it”. (Bukhari)

It is time to let go of the past, my sister, and to change what is happening now in your life so that tomorrow can be your tomorrow and the tomorrow of the members of your family. Your mother still lives with your father, so this would mean much for someone who may very well feel that her life has not been lived. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could go on Hajj or `Umrah as a family? Think about it and see how you can arrange it for much healing could take place.

We pray that you find the answer helpful in some way, and although we know that your situation is very difficult for you, we would like your life to be one worth living—not spent in grief and sorrow.

Please, do not hesitate to write to us again.  

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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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