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Father: A Guardian Or A Dictator? Part 1

16 February, 2017
Q Assalam o Alaikum, First, I appreciate the excellent work your entire team is doing. I hope one of your experts will try to satisfy my query as well. I'm deeply confused as to what extent a father can dictate or interfere in his adult child’s life. I'm over 30, mature enough to decide between right and wrong, but can’t take a single step without his permission. Is it necessary to obey father or God? God allows women to work and it is also not prohibited by religion to wear loose jeans on a long shirt, but what if your father stops you? Can I overrule him? Does a father hold the right to force his daughter to do something that is cultural like nose piercing as it is common in Pakistan, but his daughter personally doesn't like it and it’s not an obligation? In Islam, the father is a guardian or a dictator? Where lies my personal interest and religious freedom if I keep following him blindly? Does being a Muslim woman mean I can’t make my own principles?


Salam Sister,

Thank you for submitting your question to our website, and for appreciating our efforts, sister. May Allah accept all our work.

Please find part one of the answer to your question below. Find the second and final part at the link here.

As a person approaches the age of maturity i.e. the age range of 30-40, they start to fully embrace adulthood and leave behind the naiveté, heedlessness, and carefree feeling of youth forever.

It was at age 40 that Allah’s Prophets were granted prophethood.

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It is natural for an adult of your age to want to be independent, and to be allowed to make their own major and minor decisions in life’s matters.

Because you are now mature, it is no surprise that, as a consequence, your father’s somewhat controlling behavior is worrying you and causing you to feel suffocated.

The Father’s Role in Islam

As I am sure you already know, Allah has made the father the guardian of his flock i.e. his wife and children (primarily). Muslim men are mandated to take care of other dependents as well, if the need arises.

In Islam, fathers have been obligated to be kind and loving to their daughters. There are ahadith that mention the special rewards a Muslim man receives for raising his daughters with kindness.

And this special reward (viz. proximity to Prophet Muhammad in Jannah) has not been mentioned for raising sons, because daughters are special gifts from Allah, and they need special care and love to be raised.

Although many Muslim men readily assume the authority and control associated with their role as the guardian and caretaker of their daughters, they are prone to overlook the seerah and example of Prophet Muhammad, which clearly shows them how to raise these daughters.

Prophet Muhammad’s loving way of dealing with his daughter Fatimah is the best example for all fathers.

Why Some Fathers Overprotect Daughters in Pakistan

Sister, now I want to advise you based on my own personal observations of how girls are raised in Pakistan. I was born and raised in the same country, so while growing up, I had a few girlfriends who had fathers who were very controlling.

Admittedly, these girls were often reduced to tears because of their fathers’ overbearing nature and harsh way of imposing limits upon their freedom.

In Pakistan, most men are raised with a culturally patriarchal mindset. They are trained to assume complete authority and control over their sisters and daughters, based on the concept of praiseworthy ghairah (protective jealousy) i.e. the natural protectiveness that a man feels when one of his mahram’s chastity or safety is endangered or undermined in any way.

However, most Pakistani men are often ignorant of or ignore the fact that Islamic tenets also obligate them to show complete respect towards all non-mahram women, be they Muslim or non-Muslim, by completely abstaining from staring at, flirting with, having flings/friendships with, or harassing girls/women in any way.

Allah has not allowed a Muslim man to flirt/hang out with, or talk unnecessarily to any non-mahram woman, no matter how she is dressed, or in what manner she is behaving with him.

Yet, many Pakistani men have a habit of staring at or flirting with a girl or woman whom they find attractive, not to mention, having casual friendships/flings with them, hanging out with them at social gatherings, or even indulging in sexual harassment on the streets and in public places.

Many of these men tend to blame the friendly way those women interact with them, or the the way they dress in front of them, for their licentious behavior, saying, “she was inviting me to behave freely with her”.

These double standards lead most Pakistani fathers and brothers to attempt to overbearingly “protect” their daughters and sisters from other men from the same kind of behavior they practice, by imposing restrictions of dress and freedom of outside movement upon them in a harsh manner.

Their imposing these restrictions has nothing to do with Islam, although they conveniently claim that it does.

This attempt at patriarchal control of mahram women has less to do with the fear of Allah, and more to do with the cultural double standards prevalent among most male mindsets in Pakistani society viz. “I can stare at and flirt with girls, but I will not allow any man to do the same with my sisters/daughters.”

Allah knows best.

Please continue reading part two at the link here.

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

For Today’s Fathers: Which Example Do You Follow?