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17 May, 2021
Q I am a 14 year old Somali Muslim girl and I have had terrible thoughts of wanting my sister to die and I being the murderer (sometimes). I think my mother loves my brothers more than me and my sister. I was looking for advice and wondering what Islam thinks about physically abusing your children. I always get hit when I do not do the dishes (and I know I should obey my mother but my sister volunteered to do the dishes. Sometimes I wonder if I should be in the family I am. My father loves my brothers way more than my sister. I also want to know what Islam thinks about loving one child over the other.



Dear daughter,

You seem to be asking many questions that circle around feelings of being unloved and unwanted.

1.You’re having “terrible thoughts of wanting your sister to die”
2.You being the one who wants to kill her “sometimes”
3.Mother loving brothers more
4.Father loving brothers more
5.Frustration with physical abuse

While it may appear that you are concerned about more than one issue, I don’t think that your concerns are unrelated to each other. You feel that your parents love your brothers more than you and your sister. I am not in your home to see if this is indeed true or not.

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However, I don’t need to be in your home to recognize that having this feeling is immensely painful and frustrating. It is not uncommon for children to accuse their parents of loving their other siblings more than them. Whether it is indeed true or not does not matter because there is no way to enter into one’s heart and figure that out – only Allah (swt) knows. The feeling of being unloved is a very painful one that needs to be attended to.

In Islam, there is no such thing as loving one child more than the others. All children are to be treated equally. It may be helpful to sit down with your parents and discuss your feelings with them in a non-accusatory way. You may share your feelings of confusion and frustration with them. Just remember to speak calmly and to remember to listen when they speak. If your parents reassure you that they, indeed, love you – I urge you to believe them.

Many times, when we accuse others of not loving us, it is us who don’t love ourselves, as we should. Not loving ourselves is referred to as having low self-esteem. Many times it is easier for people with low self-esteem to accuse others of not loving them than it is to realize that they do not love themselves.

As for your wanting your sister to die, it is not uncommon to grow resentful of your sister and in moments of anger or arguments to wish that she dies and sometimes see yourself as the murderer. Especially given your age and home environment, your resentment of her may grow so high at times that you cannot help but to think of very upsetting scenarios. It might help you greatly to say “Audhu billahi min-ash-shaitan ir-rajim”.

You talk about physical abuse in your household, though you do not describe it. I assume from your note that your parents practice violent physical discipline. It does not surprise me much that your feelings of wanting your sister to die would accompany a home in which physical abuse occurs. When violence enters into a home, each and every family member absorbs it in a different way. For you, the violence is entering into your thoughts, though you are not acting on it.

I think that a good remedy for your concerns involves more talking and less acting out. Engage in soft talks with your sister, discuss what each of you thinks and feels about physical means of discipline. You may even discuss your feelings of feeling unloved or loved less by your parents.

You may be surprised at the friendship that you may form with her. Even at times of anger, instead of using physical aggression or thinking about using it, you may want to express to her how upset or disappointed you are without the use of bad words or violence, and without raising your voice. It may be difficult for you to learn to speak calmly about what upsets you, but it is important to learn to do so in order to break the pattern of violence.

Islam has set guidelines on how to discipline children, and even on when to allow physical means of discipline. It makes the condition that it is not to be injurious. In addition, after the age of 14, Islam encourages parents to befriend their children and teach them through talking and through being good role-models.

Once again, my dear sister in Islam, I cannot emphasize enough the need for you to talk with your family more. You may be pleasantly surprised at the growth that your family achieves when you learn to discuss things in a non-threatening and gentle fashion. It is also a good idea to talk when there are no fights or anger.

May Allah (swt) Most High grant you peace and understanding in your home.



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About Layla A. Asamarai
Layla A. Asamarai is an Iraqi American Muslim residing in the United States. She obtained her MA degree in clinical psychology and is currently perusing her PhD in clinical psychology. She is very interested in the psychological dilemmas that Muslim youth in America are faced with.