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My Life Is Upside Down


L (18-female-US)

Reply Date

Apr 13, 2017


As salamu `alaykum. My life has been very stressful for the last couple of years. I have had so many different things going on around me. Well to start of, I feel as if every bad thing always happens to my family, To start with, my mum is always in and out of hospitals. She just came out of a hospital due to the caesarean she had that went wrong, and as for my father, he has heart problems and both have very high blood pressure. I have been brought up as a very strict Muslim and I know for sure how embarrassing it is for me to say it, I don't practice Islam the way I should do, I don't pray five times daily. I was taught since I was seven to wear hijab wherever I go and now for some reason I wear it when I feel like it only I don't know why, but I'm losing my iman (faith). It has come to a point whereby I have realized that I need all the help I can to get back to the path of Allah. I have very strict parents who try to bring me up the way they have been brought up and I don't appreciate it at all. My parents believe that a woman shouldn't step outside the house and then only if its an emergency and only if necessary and this really bugs me because I feel I have no social life. I have many friends, but they are not up to my parents standards. It seems to them that they must choose my friends which I hate a lot. I have lived in this country since I was four and I can remember my parents have never let me go out just so I can hang out with my friends. They have got it in their heads as soon as I go out I will start having sex and start doing drugs. The trust between me and my parents is not very good as they don't trust me at all. They always want to know everything I am doing and what I am getting up to. If I'm in my room and the door is closed, they will come in and tell me it’s not good to stay by myself, satan will get in my head. Apart from my parents not trusting me or not letting me go out, I have older brothers and sisters and since I am the youngest, everyone wants to boss me around. My oldest brother is trying to be a father figure to me because apparently, my parents can't handle me anymore, so he has been told that he has permission from my parents that he can direct my life to their standards. This really pisses me off. First of all, I had respect for him and I loved him a lot before, but before I knew it, he was telling me that he was there to help me through everything I'm going through in life. I thought I could trust him, but I found out everything I told him went straight to my parents. My oldest sister ran away from home few times and all that time, my parents said I knew where she was because she is very close to me. I refused to tell them for no reason, but I swore to God that I didn't know where my sister was. They said I was covering up for her. After this happened, I started bunking off school, and I only went when I felt like it. I would write to the teachers and say that I was ill. This went on for about two months until my parents found out. My father said that he disowned me because I was always getting into trouble with the school and since I stopped going to school, my father assumed that my behavior has changed. Every time I used to promise to stop bunking school, I used to do it again the following month and I was always found out. Things became very stressful in the house because we are having money problems not helped by my parents telling me that I am not the child they have brought up to be. As you see we have many problems and I don't know what to do. There has been a proposal of marriage in my family to my second eldest sister and my father is looking for one to marry me as he wants me to settle down with a husband after I finish my exams. But I don’t want to because I have fallen in love with my cousin from my mums side after going back home for holidays two years ago. When I returned to the country in which we live I resisted very strong feelings about my cousin. I did the hardest thing I had ever had to do in my life. I told him how I felt and he told me he felt the same, but then he rejected me and we just sent each other e-mails or chat on the net. But then, last year when we returned home again, whenever I saw him I just went crazy. It was very hard to stop my feelings and emotions getting in the way of our friendship. I did something that I regret the most in my life and that was to start a relationship with one of his (and mine) very good friends so that I could forget about him and to see if my feelings for him would go away, but I was wrong. Throughout all the time spent with this other guy, all I could think about was my cousin. The relationship with the other guy didn’t end there. We had a long distance relationship going on. When I returned to the country in which we live, this guy used me a lot, but all this time I was too blind to notice he got me sending him money. He told me that he got into trouble and he needed the money for a court case and there was no one else he could ask; but then when I came to my senses, I told him that the relationship between us should stop. He hasn’t taken no for an answer. As soon as I broke up with this other guy, I found out from my sister that my cousin did have feelings for me and the only reason why he rejected me was because doesn't do distant relationships. As soon as I could, I sent him an e-mail explaining everything that was going through my mind and my head and I apologized for the way I had been. He accepted my apology. What hurts, is that everyday whenever I speak to him on the Net he tells me that he loves me, but is just afraid of what the parents may say. He said that distant relationships are very hard. I understand all of this, but while we are trying to sort stuff out my parents are sort of asking me to get married to some other guy. I still haven’t given them an answer, because I know for sure as soon as I say no they will ask is there somebody else. They will start asking questions and start being hard on me or they will say I'm committing a sin if I as a girl has passed the age of puberty and a husband is found for her and she refuses. It's a very big sin. I seriously don't know what to do. I'm so in love with my cousin although he lives a million miles away, the thought of him conquers my mind every single passing day. Sometimes I phone him and he says that I'm wasting my money, but since the holidays, my brother has confiscated my mobile just because he over heard a conversation I was having with one of my friends about his love life. My brother says I don't need a phone until school starts and even then he will think about giving it back to me because it will become a distraction. I just feel helpless. I feel like I need help in family life and my love life and not forgetting Islam. I don't know what I should do and where I shall start. Jazaka Allahu Khayrun




As salamu `alaykumwa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh my daughter.


Often, when parents migrate from a cultural climate that is completely different from the one they were raised and married in, there is a tendency to hold onto the values that have sufficed throughout life. As parents, one wants to pass on those values even in the midst of opposition forces that has values from the country that one has migrated to. I say opposition forces because whether you want to believe it or not, you are a force to be reckoned with. Your parents are essentially struggling to cope with something that they do not understand.

Some communities have the kind of environmental/community support that helps young people to grow and mature because the support mechanisms are natural elements within the society that naturally direct the energies of young people in a creative way. Your language and your way of thinking show that you have not had that support and in fact, you have been raised by your external environment. What does that mean? Well, in short, the world in which you have been educated in has great influence over you than the values of your home, so the desires of your parents seem to be quite overbearing and strict for a child who frequently communicates over the Internet, has a mobile phone, has had more than one boyfriend, has dropped out of school on and off and sees no problem in staying alone in one’s own bedroom.

What does that mean? Well, in short, the world in which you have been educated in has great influence over you than the values of your home, so the desires of your parents seem to be quite overbearing and strict for a child who frequently communicates over the Internet, has a mobile phone, has had more than one boyfriend, has dropped out of school on and off and sees no problem in staying alone in one’s own bedroom.

There is nothing strange about this for you, because your idea of what a family is, differs greatly from your parents. Your parents come from a culture that places the family first and being family means being together sharing (the good and the bad) together. If anything is wrong, the parents would know and because of closeness, their ability to deal with your problems would be in consideration of your needs whether you recognize those needs or not.

For instance, your parents have recognized a need for you to be married at the same time you have become interested in boys. If you were fair to them, you would have told them about your cousin a long time ago and the possibility of suitability for marriage would be discussed and if all agreed (including his parents), there would be further discussion.

This would be in your interest in case your cousin was not suitable for you or you for him, especially when passions are aroused, it gets a little bit difficult to see the woods for the trees If your parents or “the parents” as you put it, did not agree, then at least you would be better placed to understand why and to hold out for marriage to each (as is your right) until everyone is convinced if you were both really serious about each other.

As you are now, you can not possibly see the woods for the trees. Everything centers around you and your desires (not needs), yet you cannot understand why your parents see you as being difficult and cannot recognize their love for you and their fear for you to the point whereby they recognize their limitations and have asked big brother to keep an eye on you.

How many big brothers can be bothered to do that in the country in which you live? Is that not love? Is that not caring for you? Because you do need keeping an eye on because who knows where your emotions will lead you next. It is not about not trusting you, it is about fearing for you, because you are at a vulnerable time of your life, a time, when you are blind to the risks that the older family members are more aware of than you. Maybe, just maybe, if your parents could see you behaving responsibly, they might worry less about you socializing with some of your female friends.

Looking at your love life, I would say that there is a kind of irony. The irony is that because you could not get what you wanted straight away, your impulsiveness (negative emotions) made you vulnerable to someone who took advantage of you just as you was taking advantage of him. Is it not taking an advantage when you use him as a distraction to something/someone else? Boys are not that stupid you know, he was probably aware of it and felt no way about using you in the way he did. Al hamdu lillah there was nothing more involved.

Anyway, your impulsiveness drove you to not recognize your cousins’ feelings for you, just as you do not recognize the feelings of your parents and your big brother for you. In fact, your impulsiveness has got you into the situation that you are in now. Far be it for me to say that it is not becoming of a Muslim to be chatting with the opposite sex whether by phone, chat room, e-mail or physical presence.

{“Allah has written for the son of Adam his inevitable share of adultery whether he is aware of it or not: The fornication  of the eye is the looking (at something which is sinful to look at), and the fornication of the tongue is to utter (what it is unlawful to utter), and the inner self wishes and longs for (fornication) and the private parts turn that into reality or refrain from submitting to the temptation”} (Bukhari 8: 77 #609)

Islam being a religion of nature knows what can happen especially when we as humans least expect it, for as you have found out emotions run their own course and unless reigned in, emotions can turn our world upside down and inside out and before you know it, we find ourselves regretting it for the rest of our lives. Take a look at the world we live in, it is all negative emotions and has very little to do with politics or common sense for that matter. As far as your love life is concerned, I would strongly suggest that:

a) You either wait it out until the end of your school year or

b) Tell your parents about your interest in your cousin.

The problem with the first suggestion is that you will have to break contact with your cousin (as Islamically this is a no no) and to improve your behavior with the help of regular prayers, du`aa and reading verses from the Qur’an that can help you. Also, joining a young Muslimah halaqa (circle) can help provide peer group support and guidance. The problem with the latter suggestion is that, if your parents do not respond positively, this might affect your ability to study and complete your school year successfully.

Later on in life, who knows when you will need those certificates for further study or employment especially when raising your own family, that extra income might prove useful or it might be that your character might not be the kind of character that takes to staying at home (like now for instance).

As for your deen ( Islamic religion/way of life), inadvertently, I have addressed this above, because Islam is not a religion that isolates thoughts and acts of worship from your daily transactions with family, friends, and school. It is about who you choose to interact with and how you interact. It is about walking your talk. As a Yemeni proverb goes: “Ask help from the one who is experienced, not the physician”.

We are all born upon a fitra, but what you see now as being your true nature, is but a phase. How you view this phase will determine whether it will be short lived or long term. Why not take time out from your emotions and do your best to get closer to your family, to clear your mind and to connect with who you really are and what you really want for, at the end of the day, you have all that you need, `in sha’allah.

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. 

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.

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