30 August, 2023
My father was emotionally and psychologically abusive to me until I moved out at age 18 and cut contact with him. It caused me significant mental harm that resulted in multiple severe mental illnesses, but Alhamdulillah for the past 6 years I’ve healed a lot through therapy and also became Muslim (I am a convert).
A few years ago, I reconnected with my father and felt he had changed for the better. I was very careful though and set healthy boundaries to protect myself. I felt it was going well, until a few weeks ago out of nowhere he sent me a message telling me not to contact him again because I forgot that it was his birthday. It took me off guard but this was why I kept strict boundaries to protect my mental well-being in case he reverted back to how he used to be.
Growing up I felt fear more than any other emotion. If the smallest thing was wrong, he would get so angry. I would try to be perfect to avoid his anger but it did not work, something would always trigger him. The worst was when he would get angry at me for things I couldn’t control like my ability to speak (I would and still do go mute from fear, I can’t and couldn’t control it. The fear of how angry he would be at me for not speaking would make the mutism worse. It has caused me a lot of trauma).
So my question is; is it a sin for me to distant myself from my dad, not talk to him till I feel more stable, even if that means never talking to him again?
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
You don’t owe your toxic father anything other than occasional messages of good will, while keeping a reasonable distance from him.
Responding to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:
I empathize with your situation and pray to Allah to bless you with relief and comfort. You definitely need to turn to Allah for His help through patience and prayer. You can do so by being diligent in your daily prayers and dhikr.
You should also continue your therapy and counseling to avoid falling into depression and overcome your emotional and mental challenges.
As for your duties towards your father, you are justified in keeping away from him. He forfeited his duties as a father towards you; instead, he abused you. Emotional abuse is worse than physical abuse. So, you have the right to protect yourself from him. Keeping a close relationship with him as if nothing happened will only aggravate the situation.
So, he not only failed in his duties towards you as a father but also abused you causing you unbearable trauma and emotional challenges.
Therefore, you don’t owe him anything other than occasional messages of good will, while keeping a reasonable distance from him.
I pray to Allah to grant you relief and strength to overcome your challenges and bless you with peace of mind and sound health.
Almighty Allah knows best.