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I Read My Son’s Diary

03 September, 2017
Q As-salamu `alaikum, I have a problem with my oldest son. He is in his late teens. His brothers and sisters are all very normal, happy, and simple to understand, but he is different. He is also friendly, kind, successful in university and very good and respected person in our family. He is loved and very helpful with his friends and family members, but when he is alone, he is very complicated, sad, and silent (he doesn't hear music like his brothers and sisters) etc. Once I read his diary (I know I shouldn't, but I wanted to know what was wrong with him).I read the following: "Life is hard; I wish my mother would not have born me. I wish I would have been dust. Why is life so unfair? Why is it that daily thousands of people are innocently killed, and nobody is doing something against it? Why are there millions of hungry people in the world and nobody helps them? Why do some people hate each other? Why do some people beat others? Why do some people insult others? Why are there youth who are taught that sex outside of marriage, alcohol, etc., is okay and normal, but then they will be punished because it is haram (forbidden in Islam). Why injustice? Why so many problems? Why are things so complicated? Why is everyone in the world so sad? Why are there some Islamic rules that are inhuman and barbaric etc. Why did Allah create the world this way: illnesses, problems, hatred, wars, death etc. Well, Allah, I accept you because you are my God and I love you. I trust you, but I don't understand you."Well, after seeing these sentences I was really shocked. How can I help my son? Thank you


 In this counseling answer:

“Depending on what your son is studying at university, he probably has many reasons to ponder the very questions that he wrote in his dairy. Young people are naturally full of questions, and this age period is a time when they tend to challenge the status quo. The status quo facing your son and all young people today is not a very pleasant one. This is a time when they are looking towards the future to make their place in the world.”

As-salamu `alaikum,

My dear Sister, first of all, you must know that you have done nothing wrong. You have raised your children well, with the kind of akhlaq (proper behavior) that we would all like to see in our children. Al-hamdu lillah,your son does not play loud music. How could you cope with having loud music playing from three different bedrooms at the same time!

I can imagine the inner turmoil that you feel knowing the agony that your son feels the way he does. It seems to me that the kind of sadness that your son has is becoming increasingly common today, yet one should not be surpised. Everything you have shared with us about his diary is in fact true, and from a young person’s point of view, especially a young person in higher education, he is likely to come across of the realities of this world more than his younger brothers and sisters.

From what you have said, your eldest son gets on very well and is very considerate of his friends and family, al-hamdu lillah. The compassion, level of consideration, and care that he feels is genuine and true to who he is and to the person you have helped him to become. It would be unbecoming if your son did not feel sympathy for the increasing number of people who are suffering in this world.

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Depending on what your son is studying at university, he probably has many reasons to ponder the very questions that he wrote in his journal. Young people are naturally full of questions, and this age period is a time when they tend to challenge the status quo. The status quo facing your son and all young people today is not a very pleasant one. This is a time when they are looking towards the future to make their place in the world.

A growing number of youths, especially non-Muslims, handle this legacy that we adults have left them through the haram things that your son has complained about. If we are not careful, our youth will also go the same way. But with a son like yours, it is extremely important that he is not left alone with the worries of the world burdening his shoulders. The worries will eat him up inside and this could lead to severe depression.

My daughter, too, once asked the same questions that your son has, and I think that somehow she rose above them because I was there to listen to her and to share. What she did not know was that I was depressed from the situation for a much longer time than she was. Together, we realized that all these wars and mercenary attitudes that caused so many people to be killed, to die from starvation, and which also spread diseases and catastrophes, happened because those people are no longer connected to themselves or their Creator.

These people have ignored the reality that Allah placed us all on this earth as one family, and not only to form tribes and to protect only our own people while we watch others die. Catastrophes will continue to occur until we return to the balance by which all creation has been set until we are ready to wake up. We all have our role to play and no one has an excuse. But more than this, your son needs to know the truth for himself.

Islamically, your son needs a reputable teacher, imam, or study group that can allow him to establish the truth for himself. It will not appease his hungry soul to just give him simple answers. Practically speaking, your son is just beginning university, and while it may seem inconvenient, your son needs the answers now.

I do not know what facilities or resources are available in your country of residence, but if you could locate a humble and knowledgeable imam who could sit with him and discuss these issues, it would greatly help your son. Through the unity that is Allah, tawheed, we are all interconnected, and therefore whatever happens to one person will eventually affect me, you, him, and all of humanity.

Tell your son that we are responsible for ourselves because only then can we be responsible and accountable to others. It is through neglect that we have become irresponsible and have lost our way. We seek easy answers instead of contemplating our thoughts and resulting actions. We look outside instead of inwards for all the answers; this makes us vulnerable to negative influences. In The Alchemist, by Paul Coelho, one the characters, a small boy, said,

“It is we who nourish the soul of the world, and the world we live in will either be better or worse, depending on whether we become better or worse.”

Pray with your son and encourage him to make du`aa’ after each and every prayer. Encourage him to sit and empty his soul to Allah and to sit without thinking in the silence that he needs. Make du`aa’ for him regularly and ask Allah to guide and protect him and lighten his burden. May he find a knowledgeable person in deen so that he may know in his heart and not just in his mind, that things are the way they are in order that we may return to our senses. It is one earth, one world, and one God.

From Counselor Abdullah Abdul-Lateef

As-salamu `alaikum,

Your son is clearly a special, conscientious, concerned, and compassionate young man who simply craves a greater understanding of Allah and His ways. He craves the Truth. This is something that should be honored and respected as something very precious. It is very important that he receives answers to his questions.

Young people see the world in very idealistic ways, which is why so many great social justice movements in history have been spearheaded and aided by youth. However, youth’s idealism must be tempered by the wisdom and experience of elders or else it can result in extremism or self-destruction.

We know that Allah creates everything, that He is the primary cause behind everything, and that He is the Most Merciful and Ultimate Good. Thus, with everything that occurs in our lives, we should ask, “What should we learn, O Lord, and how should we respond to that which You have willed?”

Allah wants us to know Him, so doesn’t it make sense that the manifestation of severity and rigor could be Allah’s way of calling us back to Him and His all-pervading mercy and goodness? Could it be that the whip of severity is our Creator’s way of reminding us of our ultimate purpose on earth?

One of the most important roles that hardship plays in life is to facilitate introspection, which helps us to better understand our innermost selves and our hearts. When we experience tragedy or calamity, often the first thing we do is retreat inside ourselves, seeking understanding and solace. If we are not appreciative of the mercy and love of Allah in our lives and do not act merciful in our own actions, we will inevitably end up experiencing Allah’s wrath.

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. In no event shall AboutIslam, 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. 

Read more:

My 12-Year-Old Son Is Unsociable, Please Help!

My Son Between Islam and Christianity


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.