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Mom is Sick; Shall I Still Study Abroad?

15 May, 2024
Q My mum has been diagnosed with an incurable disease which renders her bedridden. I have two younger siblings who are still studying but in a residential school away from home.

So, the issue at hand is that I have other priorities as well as I'm planning to go abroad to enter grad school. However, I feel bad if I abandon my duty towards my mum as she has no one to care for her here. I can't bring her there due to financial reasons.

I know Islam asks to put our parents as the top priority, but I feel that I'm wasting my life. I need to hone my potential. What do you advise me?


In this counseling answer:

• Do you have a larger family you can perhaps rely on?

• You have also obtained your bachelor’s degree, so is it not possible for you to find a job at which you can work while you serve your mother.

• Pray istikharah: the prayer will guide you towards what is right and will deter you from what is wrong.

Assalamu Alaikum dear brother,

First of all, may Allah greatly reward you for being kind and dutiful to your mother and for being keen on taking care of her and fulfilling her needs during her time of great hardship and trial.

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I am sorry to hear of your mother’s condition and the controversial feelings you have regarding your future and your mother’s future at this moment in time.

While I can help you weigh the results of either of the choices, I cannot give you a definitive answer with regards to what you should do in the future.

For that, you must consult the Ask the Scholar page for a definitive answer or someone in your community who can guide you based on your current circumstances.

Option 1: Leaving your mother

Dear brother, I know that you feel like moving away, but somewhere inside you, you do not feel like moving away.

If you had wanted to move away and were set on it, you would not have asked the question.

However, if you do want to move away, it is possible that you will forever live in the guilt of leaving your mother behind when she was the most in need of a child she raised with love and much effort.

I would also suggest that you carefully consider your option. Do you have a larger family you can perhaps rely on?

Do you have any aunts or uncles who you can seek support from for your mother’s health? Also, are there no opportunities for a grad school in the area where you are located?

If there are, then you can perhaps work on a grad school program locally and then when the right time comes you can perhaps pursue masters abroad.

You have also obtained your bachelor’s degree, so is it not possible for you to find a job at which you can work while you serve your mother.

Mom is Sick; Shall I Still Study Abroad? - About Islam

This will give you financial strength, so when you move away you can have financial independence.

Option 2: Staying with your mother

I know of someone who was in a similar situation as you; my dad’s friend. When he was in his mid-20’s in India, he was given the option of leaving her mother, who was simply sick and not terminal and attend the nationally renowned university for completing his Ph.D. and working abroad after in a different state.

However, as a son, he was in a dilemma. But as a Muslim son who knew the obligations towards parents, and the mention of the importance of parents in the Quran, he decided to forego the option of attending the university and attend his mother.

Check out this counseling video:

He remembered this Hadith,

Abdullah bin Amr narrated that: the Prophet said: “The Lord’s pleasure is in the parent’s pleasure, and the Lord’s anger is in the parent’s anger.”(Hasan). (Jami At-Tirmidhi)

It is reported on the authority of ‘Abdullah that the Messenger of Allah observed: The best of’ the deeds or deed is the (observance of) prayer at its proper time and kindness to the parents. (Sahih Muslim)

Now, he is in mid-fifties, working in Canada at a worldwide famous company, completed his Ph.D. in Canada, got a $170 000 CAD salary.

He has his son doing medical school in Canada about to become a cardiologist and a daughter who is working towards her masters. His wife also has a Ph.D. and they are very devout Muslims.

My point, he sacrificed a few years of his life, but his sacrifice gave him more than the position in a university in a different state in India could have ever given him back when his mother was sick.

A similar story is demonstrated in the Seerah when the Prophet Muhammed SAW mentions the story of Owais al-Qarni. I advise you watch these short clips.

His Dua Was Always Accepted (Uwais al-Qarani) – The Superstars

The Famous Story of Owais Al Qarni

Your mother is obviously in a condition where you need to be by her side, as you have mentioned it yourself.

However, I suggest you consider the consequences that your mother will face once you leave. Will she have someone who will take care of her the way you can?

Does she have someone who is able to supervise her treatment and her behavior on a day to day basis?

You also mentioned that your siblings are young and are in a different school far away from your mother.

Do you not think that being an elder son, your mother takes pride in your presence? Is she in a peaceful state knowing that she will be dying soon, but her son will make a great caretaker for her and her kids in the future?

Dear brother, life is always filled with daunting and doubtful situations, but everything will fall into place when we keep our intentions and the reasons for our living in the place.

I know that at present you feel as if you are not doing the right thing for your future.

However, you must remember that the future is not in your hands. Only the present is. If you do something for the sake of pleasing Allah, regardless of what people say to insult your present, your future will spell miracle and success.

In addition, you should also pray the Salat of Guidance

Jabir Ibn Abdullah said,

Allah’s Messenger () used to teach his companions to perform the prayer of Istikhara for each and every matter just as he used to teach them the Suras from the Qur’an He used to say, “If anyone of you intends to do something, he should offer a two rak`at prayer other than the compulsory prayers, and after finishing it, he should say the supplication.” (Sahih Bukhari)

Essentially, the prayer will guide you towards what is right and will deter you from what is wrong.

This will not be in a form of a dream or anything. What is right will become easy to pursue and what is wrong will be removed from your pathway.

However, when you are seeking Allah’s counsel, you must not be thinking of preferring one direction over the other. You must simply seek to attain what is sincerely better for you for this world and the afterlife.

Dear brother, you are only in your early twenties. If possible, you can potentially find a good worthy job in your current location.

It is possible that when the right time comes, you will be able to achieve more with the supplications from your mother who are helping.

I pray that Allah guides you towards what is the best for you in this life and the afterlife and will make a source of success for you in the future.



Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

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