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How to Deal With Your Non-Muslim Parents

31 August, 2023
Q Dear scholars, as-salaam `alaykum. I am a 16 year old boy on my way to converting to Islam but I got a serious problem at home. According to the Quran and the Sunnah, you should be gentle and warm to your parents but when your parents try to mislead you from the straight path of Islam what should you do then? I hope that you could help me find a way to solve my problems at home in how to act and react to my non-Muslim parent when bad things are said about Islam. Thanks. Every answer is appreciated.


Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh

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:

  1. Islam does not aim at severing the ties of kinship between its adherents and their non-Muslim relatives. Islam highly considers this relationship particularly between parents and their children.
  2. Islam requires its followers to show all types of good treatment, respect, and honor to the parents. However, this does not mean blind obedience even in acts that involve disobedience to Allah.
  3. A Muslim gives top priority to obeying Almighty Allah, his Creator who granted him life, health, all faculties and even created his parents. At the same time a Muslim is under obligation to treat his parents softly and nicely.

In this regard, Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, former president of the Islamic Society of North America, states:

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Islam orders us to be kind and loyal to parents, Muslims and non-Muslim alike. Allah Almighty says:

{Thy Lord has decreed, that you worship none save Him, and (that you show) kindness to parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age with thee, say not ‘Fie’ unto them nor repulse them, but speak unto them a gracious word.} (Al-Israa 17:23)

Asmaa, the daughter of Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with them all) had a non-Muslim mother who lived in Makkah, whereas Asmaa had migrated with her father and the rest of the Muslims to Madinah.

After the Treaty of Hudaybiyah, peace was established and they could visit each other. So her mother, came to Madinah to visit Asmaa. She wanted some gifts and donations from Asmaa.

Asmaa was not sure what to do because she knew that her mother hated Islam and was a polytheist. So she came to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him,) informed him of the situation, and asked him if she still owes her mother any dutifulness.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) answered her making it clear that her mother’s being non-Muslim did not deprive her of the right to dutifulness she had on her daughter. The Prophet said: “Yes, do an act of kindness to her.” (Al-Bukhari, Muslim and Abu Dawud)

However, favoring parents and being dutiful to them is not allowed if such favoring and that obedience involve disobedience to Allah.

Allah Almighty says:

{But if they strive with you to make you ascribe unto Me as partner that of which you have no knowledge, then obey them not. Consort with them in the world kindly, and follow the path of him who repents unto Me. Then unto Me will be your return, and I shall tell you what you used to do.} (Luqman 31:15)

One has to obey one’s parents if what they say is not against the teachings of Allah and His Messenger. He/she should treat them well and be nice and respectful to them. If there is any conflict between her demands and Allah’s Orders and His Messenger, then the priority goes to Allah and the Messenger.

Sheikh Muhammad Saleh Al-Munajjid, the prominent Saudi Islamic lecturer and author, adds:

  1. You should address your non-Muslim parents in the best of terms and treat them in the best manner.
  2. Do not think at all that there is any burden or sin on you if your parents get angry with you for being a Muslim. Remember that when a person pleases Allah even though it makes people angry, Allah will be pleased with him and will make the people pleased with him.
  3. Keep on praying for your parents so that Allah guides them to the truth, and call them to Islam with wisdom and fair exhortation. Maybe Allah will guide them through you.

Here, we’d like to cite for you the example of Abu Hurairah and how he treated his non-Muslim mother:

While Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) embraced Islam, his mother continued to be an unbeliever for quite a long time. He continuously tried to convince her to adopt Islam, but to no avail. Nevertheless, he continued respecting and obeying her.

Once when he was trying to admonish her, she became insolent and uttered some insulting remarks about the Prophet. This weighed much on Abu Hurairah to the extent that he went to the Prophet and complained saying, “O Messenger of Allah! I have always been trying to make my mother accept Islam but she always refuses to accept it. But today when I asked her to believe in Almighty Allah, she became very much annoyed and started insulting and rebuking you, the thing I could not stand and tears came to my eyes. O Messenger of Allah! Pray to Allah that He may open the heart of my mother to Islam.” The Prophet immediately raised his hands and prayed, “O Almighty Allah, guide the mother of Abu Hurairah.”

This relieved Abu Hurairah a bit. Upon reaching home, he found the door was bolted from the inside but he heard the sound of flowing water, which assured him that his mother was taking a bath. Hearing his footsteps, she hastily finished the bath. Then she opened the door. She said, “O my son Abu Hurairah, Allah has answered your prayer. Be witness that I recite the Shahadah.”

Abu Hurairah started crying out of sheer joy and went back to the Prophet with the tiding that Almighty Allah had accepted his prayer and that his mother had embraced Islam. The Prophet was also pleased to hear that. He praised Allah and gave Abu Hurairah some advice. Then, on his request, he prayed, “O Allah, put the love of Abu Hurairah and his mother in the hearts of all true Muslims and put the love of all true Muslims in the hearts of both of them.”

Brother, try to let your parents see Islam through your good example. Maybe Allah will illuminate their hearts as they see you presenting Islam in the best way.

In conclusion, Islam teaches that a good Muslim respects his/her parents even if they are non-Muslims. However, Islam demands us to give priority to our commitment to our religion and its teachings.

If one’s non-Muslim parents attempts to mislead him or demand him to do something against Islam he should not obey them and must refrain from doing this.

Nevertheless, still one is required to treat his parents kindly, nicely and respectfully. Also, if they come to say bad things about Islam, you should not join their discussions and sarcastic talks. But you should keep on praying Allah to show them the straight path and show them the true Image of Islam through your practical model.

 Almighty Allah knows best.

Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.