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Taking Care of My Father

30 April, 2022
Q My father is 75 years old, but ma sha'allah has the health of a much younger man. He is a medical doctor and continues working (hard) every day. My two brothers and I all live in different cities, my parents are separated and my brothers do not get along very well with my father. My question is, who is supposed to look after him in his old age? I am further concerned because when we were younger he was not a very good father to us, he was rather mean and not a good influence Islamically (he beat my mother, cheated on her, never prayed) and I do not want him to have a negative influence on my own children. I am very careful to raise them in a good Islamic environment, which is much different than how I was raised. He still does not practice Islam, and I do not know how my husband would feel about him living with us. Thank you in advance.



Dear sister. Your concern for your father is a wonderful thing. I think it would be a beautiful gesture if you invited your father to live with you, or at least if you invited him to be near you so that you can take care of him in his old age. You could then model for your children and set a good example as to how we are supposed to care for parents in Islam.

It might be difficult for you personally, but Islamically speaking there is nothing to prevent you from treating your father with dignity and love, despite his history and past sins. Allah has commanded us to treat our parents with unconditional love, particularly in their old age.

We all sin and none of us is perfect. Let us not judge others, particularly those whom we have been charged with their care. What about those of us who have non-Muslim parents? Are we not to care for them in their old age because they are non-Muslims? Of course not!

Happy-old-man-having-a-casual-talk-with-a-doctor1-e1364086636183Rather than fearing your father’s negative influence on your children, I would think he has many good qualities and wisdom that would be of great benefit to your children, especially since he is a medical doctor.

Perhaps Islamic knowledge and practice are not his strength, but I’m sure there is much beneficial knowledge and experience that he can pass on to your kids.

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Furthermore, it is also important for kids today to have connections and relations with their grandparents, as young people today have much difficulty appreciating the past and even their own histories where they live. This leads to separation and young people not appreciating where they come from and the struggles of the past. Young people need a sense of perspective and history in order to appreciate their lives. Having relationships with older relatives helps provide that for them.

All in all, it is a great privilege and blessing to be able to care for our parents in their old age. Try not to focus on your father’s faults and sins, but do your best to set a good example for your own kids on how to treat our parents. In sha’ Allah through your loving kindness and devotion, your kids and even your father will open their hearts to Allah and His deen. Remember, it is never too late as long as we are still alive in this world.

If it is a concern to you before your father moves in with you, try to explain to him how you and your husband manage your home, what the expectations are, what might be different than what he is used to, etc. That way, it will prepare him before hand and he may even decide that living with you directly might not suit him, but perhaps living nearby might be better. This might be a good way to avoid possible confrontations as well in the future.

From Counselor Abdullah Abdur Rahman

You are in a difficult situation, but one that many children face as their own parents become older.

1) It is imperative that you have some sort of family meeting with your other siblings while your father still maintains good health. It is recommended that the first of such meetings be done without the knowledge or presence of your father. Since you all live in different cities, you could have a conference call; but it would be more preferable to have a face-to-face meeting.

This family meeting would attempt to reconcile some of the differences which your brothers have had with their father. Each of you would also consider the possibilities of having your father come and live with you. Let the first meeting be an exploratory one, where the main issues mentioned above are discussed.

2) You also have to prepare yourself for the inevitable reality that when your father retires, he will have tremendous difficulty being idle after years of hard work. As such, consider what sort of environment will be most suitable for your father when he retires.

3) In addition, it may well be possible that your father decides not to live with any of you. He may want to live on his own and each of you would have to come to terms with that decision.

4) As for his influence on your children, make du`aa’ that your father begins to change his ways. Remind him once in

Taking Care of My Father - About Islam

a while about all the bounties that Allah (SWT) blessed him with, like a good career, good health, and grandchildren. Perhaps introduce him to some grandfather type roles like having him read some Islamic stories to your children.He cannot change overnight and neither should you or anyone expect him to.

However, try to be patient with him and perhaps he will respond positively. Being impatient or harsh with him because he does not practice Islam will only distance him. Your parents have a right over you, especially in their old age.

5) Lastly, you may want to prepare your husband for the possibility that your father will live in your home. It is better to approach this topic over time and not to try and resolve it in one sitting.

Allah (Swt) has blessed us all with unique and special feelings towards our parents. It is good that you have written to us. However, your work is just beginning. With patience, kindness, and sympathy, you could very well help your father live his last few years Islamically and in peace and harmony.


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. If you feel you are going to harm yourself, or harm someone else, please seek immediate help by calling your country’s international hotline! In no event shall About Islam, 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 Dr. Abd. Lateef Krauss Abdullah
Dr. Abd. Lateef Krauss Abdullah is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Social Science Study’s Community Education and Youth Studies Laboratory, Universiti Putra Malaysia. He received his B.A. from the University of Delaware (U.S.), his M.S. from Columbia University (U.S.) and his PhD from the Institute for Community & Peace Studies (PEKKA), Universiti Putra Malaysia in 2005 in the field of Youth Studies. Abd. Lateef is an American who has been living in Malaysia since 2001. He is married and has 2 children.