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Husband Disowns Our 21-Year-Old Son

23 February, 2019
Q I am torn between my husband and my son. My son is 21 years old. He went to college for 3 years in a university in our city. After high school, he was accepted at a prestigious university, but his dad forbade him to go so that he would live with us. He is a good person, a good student, and he did well here.

The problem is that in the summer, he transferred to another university in another city and he lives in an apartment that he shares with three other students. He did that and defied his father, who threatened to disown him if he transferred and left our home. My husband and I begged him to stay and finish his degree here, then leave after he graduates, but he did not listen. Now my husband does not want him to enter our home ever again and he wants to disown him.

My son is not a bad person, but he rebelled because his dad is very strict, a perfectionist who is never happy with anything. His dad is also very controlling; he called my son names even when he was in college, and he forced my son to take the classes that he selected, although they were not required. My husband is not a bad person; he just thought he was being firm.

My son prays and fasts; he has morals and works hard at school. I say that we should not cut relations with my son so that we can help him not to go astray and remind him of our beautiful religion. I also want to ensure that he succeeds in his study and in his life. I feel it is my duty as a parent. My husband thinks that my son disobeyed him and that he committed a great sin. My husband makes bad du`aa’ against my son, and says he will never talk to him again.

Is it haram for my husband to disown my son? What should I do myself? My husband fought with me when I sent my son food for Ramadan, and he forbids me to send him anything else. Please tell me, what is the Islamic solution to our problem? Is there a hadith that says to let go of your children when they are 21? Someone told me that. How can my son repent and make up with his father? I need your help badly. Thank you.


In this counseling answer:

•In a country like the one in which you live, your son would have been surrounded by boys of his age who make their own decisions. Maybe he needs to face this for himself and take responsibility for those decisions and, in sha’ Allah, he would have appeased his appetite in halal ways and try to re-establish contact with you, his mother, and, `in sha’ Allah, his father.

•Continue to do your best by your husband and by your son. In subtle ways, try to advise your husband and maintain contact with your son,

As-salamu `alaykum my sister, and may your prayers be answered and your burden lightened, in sha’ Allah.

I am sorry to hear about the circumstances that you find your family in. It is not always easy to know if what one is doing is right or wrong. Islam is not only a religion of knowledge urging all it’s seekers to seek the truth in everything, but it is also a religion of balance/the middle way in order to avoid extremes in any situation. This is the essence of your problem, two people cannot see eye-to-eye on a problem and both refuse to go half way.

From the information you have provided, it seems that your husband has not made time to develop a relationship with his son. Yet, by your husband’s standards, he has provided for his family and has done his best by his son, but with little involvement in getting to know his son, his son’s strengths and weaknesses, his ambitions and his feelings.

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Here lies the crux of the problem, because from where your husband stands, he has done his duty, and from where your son stands, it seems that he feels his father has not, and has not taken the time to know him.

In Islam, the son needs to be with his father from the age of nine. Once, it was the case that from this age, a boy would stop spending every moment with his mother and the father would begin to play a greater role in his son’s life.

Husband Disowns Our 21-Year-Old Son - About Islam

In this way, the boy gets to learn from his father about himself, about the world, and about the changing emotions that develop as a boy grows into a young man.

“A good companion is like a man who has musk; if nothing of it goes to you, its fragrance will (certainly) go to you; and a bad companion is like a man who has bellows; if its (black) root does not go to you, its smoke will (certainly) go to you.”

    (Abu Dawud 41 #4811).

We still expect of our children when we do not spend time giving them love, compassion, understanding, ethics, or discipline, then we wonder why our children rebel. Raising children is a two-way process where we as adults also stand to learn and benefit.

“Those who do not show mercy to our young ones and do not realize the right of our elders are not from us

    (Abu Dawud 41 #4925).

It is only then our children are best placed to fulfill their obligations to their parents and listen to the experience of their parents. Your son did his best to obey his father’s wishes, but he could not bear to ignore his own needs. Everyone wants to be heard, everyone wants to be considered, and when we stop ourselves from listening we become oppressive; an action abhorred in Islam because when we do not listen, we deny the rights of those we refuse to be heard. Someone presented themselves to Prophet Muhammad and said,

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“I owe allegiance to you for migration and jihad, seeking reward only from Allah. He (the Prophet) said, “Is one from amongst your parents living?” He said, “Yes, of course, both are living.” The Prophet asked, “Do you want to seek reward from Allah?” He said, “Yes.” Thereupon, Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Go back to your parents and accord them benevolent treatment.”(Muslim 32 #6186)

The age stated in other hadiths is 15. In this sense, your son was wrong, but he too was wronged, and he has taken a course of action by moving to another city to complete, I assume, his choice of studies.

Probably your husband’s concern was for your son not to go astray. If this concern was shown to him in other ways, your son might have obeyed, or at the very least argued for a change in his field of study. Al-hamdu lillah, you have raised him well and Islamically, you have passed on much, which in sha’ Allah, will continue to guide him. But living in a country with values different from the ones you wish to instill, demands trust on your part.

I can only assume that a cooling-off period is required between your son and his father. In a country like the one in which you live, your son would have been surrounded by boys of his age who make their own decisions. Maybe he needs to face this for himself and take responsibility for those decisions and, in sha’ Allah, he would have appeased his appetite in halal ways and try to re-establish contact with you, his mother, and, `in sha’ Allah, his father.
It is your husband who has cut off ties, not your son, and even if your husband disowns him, and views him not his son, advise him not to:

“Nurse a grudge, and don’t bid him out for raising the price, and don’t nurse aversion or enmity, and don’t enter into a transaction when the others have entered into that transaction, and be as fellow-brothers and servants of Allah. A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim. He neither oppresses him nor humiliates him nor looks down upon him. The piety is here, (and while saying so) he pointed towards his chest thrice. It is a serious evil for a Muslim that he should look down upon his brother Muslim. All things of a Muslim are inviolable for his brother in faith: his blood, his wealth, and his honor.

    (Muslim 32 #6219)

A du`aa is only for good, it cannot be for bad, so your husband is, in fact, cursing his own son and insulting your womb, through which, Allah stands to be insulted (a`udhu billah).

As the Arabic proverb goes, patience is bitter, but the fruit is sweet. Continue to do your best by your husband and by your son. In subtle ways, try to advise your husband and maintain contact with your son,

for the severer of ties of kinship will not enter Paradise

    (Muslim 32: #6199).

May Allah guide you and reward you for your efforts.

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.