I would like to have your help and guidance in a difficult matter. I have a fellow brother in Islam who is undergoing a real family emergency. It seems as though his daughter has run away from the family and her religion. She wants to be free, free from her parents, free from her relatives, and live a non-Muslim American life. Of course, this also entails the “loving” of a boyfriend. This daughter has run away before; however, the family was able to convince her to return, for her sake, and the sake of Islam. Unfortunately, this was only temporary.
The family, as well as other relatives, has tried to reach out to this girl to make her feel like she has others to turn to if she is not inclined to speak to her parents. However, she is stubborn and locked in her ways and desires to be “free.” We have tried to preach Islam and the teachings and guidance it gives us. We know she understands because she used to be quite devout in her religion, practicing prayer, fasting, and reading the Qur’an. However, it seems that she has gone off the straight path, for some reason or another.
We are told again and again that she no longer wants to live with her parents or her family; she states that she can no longer “stand it.” This is a problem in itself, however, my main reason for asking your help and guidance is because the father feels betrayed and his honor and pride are in question. He is also a devout Muslim and is well respected by the community and the mosque; in fact, they call him “Sheikh.” He even gives other people advice on Islamic issues. However, now it seems that he is putting Islam aside in order to regain his pride and honor. We have repeatedly told him that this is not the way Islam teaches us to solve such situations, no matter how difficult they are. However, it seems like it is going in one ear and out the other.
What can we say to him to help him realize that taking punishment into his own hands is haram (forbidden by Allah) and against Islam, and that he should be patient and steadfast in these difficult times? How can we convince him to realize how problems are solved through Islam and its teachings? Please give me any ideas, hadiths, stories, or verses in the Qur’an that I can present to my fellow brother to help him rejoin the straight path and do what is acceptable according to Islamic teachings.
In this counseling answer:
•Please remind this brother of his duties towards other Muslims, even when he has this crisis within his family. He could advise other families about how not to commit some of his mistakes that probably led to his daughter running away.
•Remind him that for every good he does for Muslims and society in general, he will be rewarded, in sha’ Allah, in this world and the Hereafter. On the other hand, if he takes justice into his own hands, he will further destroy his family and give bad publicity to Muslims.
As-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.
I’d like to start with thanking you for your keenness and determination to help this Muslim family that is going through a crisis, and for your trust in us. May Allah enlighten our way and keep us steadfast on His path. Amin.
When I read your message, I got two mixed feelings; the first was hope as there are brothers like yourself who are keen to help their Muslim brothers and sisters. The second was sorrow for this Muslim family that has been severely disrupted.
As a matter of fact, we are dealing with two distinct problems here; the first is the daughter who thinks that happiness and freedom can be reached through her independence and through leading a Western lifestyle. The second problem is the impact of the daughter’s action on the Muslim father, who may be thinking of revenge and may commit an act at odds with the teaching of Islam.
I would like to start with the first problem, the daughter. For the benefit of other readers, we should first analyze the roots and causes of the problem. The observer of devoted Muslim families in the West and their ways of bringing up their children would notice two main streams as follows:
1. Families that give unnecessary freedom to their children, and therefore the children live as close to a Western lifestyle as possible—with all of its negative points
For instance, such families do not genuinely disagree with specific bad behavior or try to straighten a child going astray. I have seen that in many families, for example, when the children get money from the government, the parents don’t direct their children on how to best spend their money. This may sound trivial, but it is crucial to give directions to children from an early age on the best ways to spend time and money.
Another example is a girl or a boy wearing jewelry in their lips or other parts of their body, and when you talk to their parents about it they say, “what can we do to them, don’t forget we are living in the West.” The parents really forget with time that they have an Islamic identity which they are obliged to pass on to their children, but it does not mean they disobey the laws of the country or live in disharmony with the surrounding society.
These examples belong to devoted Muslim parents (as I stated earlier) who are highly regarded in their community. But there is a trap that we (Muslims in the west) sometimes fall into; we leave our children without guidance, thinking that living in the West dictates different rules to living in a Muslim country, or that there is not much we can do about it.
2. Families who are very strict in every aspect of their children’s upbringing. These parents are terrified of their surroundings, and as a result they deprive their children of their basic rights to lead a moderate life. For instance, some families forbid watching TV at home, yet their children watch TV at school, and could even be watching programs with a Christian viewpoint, and as a result, the children end up with loads of unanswered questions, which in turn may lead to contradictions.
These parents fill all their children’s time with Qur’anic studies, and other religious subjects. They also inject them with fear of everything around them; that if they do anything (even things that are lawful) they could end up in Hellfire. The children start to compare between the two contradictory styles of life they experience at home and at school. They feel that everything is haram (forbidden by Allah) at home; while lots of enjoyable activities are waiting for them at school and with their friends (Western). The children then wait for the first available opportunity to break free of their home boundaries into the full version of Western life, including independence.
What we really should do is to take the middle path between the two examples, as our religion is the religion of middle path. We must not give our children total freedom, nor deprive them of basic decision making and independence within the tolerance of Islam.
As for the Father, I would like you, brother, to go to him and ask him to tell you the story of Noah (peace and blessings be upon him) and ask him why did Noah (peace and blessings be upon him) tolerate his son, despite his disobedience to the commandments of Allah. Noah’s (peace and blessings be upon him) primary goal was to save the people and bring them to the path of Allah, and in doing so he lost his son. That was not as important to him as taking by other people by the hand.
Please remind this brother of his duties towards other Muslims, even when he has this crisis within his family. He could advise other families about how not to commit some of his mistakes that probably led to his daughter running away. Remind him that for every good he does for Muslims and society in general, he will be rewarded, in sha’ Allah, in this world and the Hereafter. On the other hand, if he takes justice into his own hands, he will further destroy his family and give bad publicity to Muslims.
Jazaka Allahu Khayran.
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