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Father: A Guardian Or A Dictator? Part 2

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

Communication and/or Arbitration

Sister, now I’d like to suggest that you let your father know how you feel, by writing him a candid letter addressed in a loving tone.

Fathers have soft places for their daughters in their hearts, even if they do not openly show or admit it.

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Tell him how his restrictions make you feel: be open and honest about it.

Be sure to use a very loving tone, e.g. “My dear Abbu …”, which is an etiquette endorsed by the Quran for addressing a father (as proved by the way Prophets IbrahimIsmail and Yusuf addressed their fathers).

The reason why I am recommending your putting out your feelings to him in writing is because talking face-to-face can often involve distractions, interruptions by other family members, and a lack of understanding based on a person’s mood and daily circumstances.

Once you write him a letter, he will be able to read it over and over again in privacy, and the written words from his daughter will have an extra effect on his heart, insha’Allah, leading it to becoming softer towards you.

If you cannot write him a letter, bring in a trustworthy family member who is close to and friendly with him, to arbitrate on your behalf and present your point of view to him, and to convey to him how you feel about the way he treats you.

However, if you think that this method will backfire and cause him to get angry at you for complaining to someone else about him, then please use the former method that I have recommended instead.

The point is to appeal to his heart and soften it towards you, without making him angry.

Whichever method you choose, please make sure your tone is polite, your attitude is respectful, and your words are loving. Instead of using accusatory or superlative words and phrases such as, “You always…”, “You never…”, or “Why do you…”, use positive phrases, such as “Please try to …”, and “I’d be so happy if …”.

Be Patient and Make Dua’s for Your Emancipation

Sister, according to Islam, you do not have to obey each and every thing that your father commands you to do, if it falls in the category of matters about which Islam is silent e.g. those related to personal choice, such as a daughter piercing her nose, or wearing certain clothes that she likes (as long as they do not violate any of the Islamic laws related to a woman’s hijab).

However, please remember that obeying your father even in mundane matters, purely for the sake of Allah, is highly recommended and reward-worthy.

If you choose to refuse to obey him in matters in which Allah has granted you freedom to do so, please do so in a polite manner, without rebuking him or showing anger.

I suggest you make lots of dua for Allah to grant you ease.

However, the stern, dominating nature of parents gets milder with time in most cases, especially if they become weak in will and body. In such circumstances, while adult offspring are mandated to treat their parents with utmost kindness, they are not bound to be unconditionally obedient to them.

This is because, sometimes, elderly parents request their adult offspring to do something wrong or detrimental, in which case they should not be obeyed.

Either way, I am sure that Allah will respond to your duas and emancipate you from the dictatorial control of your father with time inshaAllah.

Please just keep your trust in Allah, and never become despondent, even if the answer to your duas takes years. Allah will reward you immensely for your patience in tolerating your father’s domineering attitude and returning it with kindness.

Allah knows best. I hope this helps. Please keep in touch.

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

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