As salamu alaykum dear sister,
Shokran for writing to our Live Session. Congratulations on your recent marriage may Allah bless you both in your lifelong journey as husband and wife. As you know marriage is a very special relationship created by Allah. Marriage is a blessing; however, it does have its ups and downs and it does require kindness, mercy, forgiveness, and hard work at times.
Sins are in the Past
Regarding your situation, you stated that your husband has “a colorful past”. As stated, your husband has a child from a previous relationship which was not within the marriage arrangement. He had an affair/relationship and a child was conceived. Sister, if your husband repented to Allah, there is nothing for you to say or do regarding his past sins. That is between your husband and Allah. If he repented, no one has the right to come between him and Allah.
Therefore, dear sister, there is no need for you to be “extremely concerned about his past actions and try to rectify his mistakes”. That is why we have Allah. His sin regarding this is in the past. His daughter is not a “sin”, the child did nothing wrong. Allah does not create mistakes sister. The child is innocent. She just happens to be living in a non-Muslim home. Please keep in mind sister, that there are reverts world-wide who came from non-Muslim homes! Allah guides whom He will.
At the current time your husband’s daughter lives with her mom. Alhumdulilah he does have visitation rights. Your first concern is that your husband’s daughter is not being raised as a Muslim because her mom is not Muslim. You wish to know the best way to teach her about Islam without making her mother upset or pushing his daughter away. This is a concern of many in this kind of situation. Your husband’s daughter is 11 years old. She is entering the age and developmental stage wherein she will start to make her own decisions and choices.
Teaching Islam by Example
Insha’Allah the best thing you can do for her at this point is to show her Islam by example. This would include illustrating kindness, asking her about her life, showing concern for her issues as well as respecting her position regarding religion. As she was not raised Muslim you may not be able to successfully encourage her to revert right now.
There are even children who are raised in strong Muslim households who divert from the path of Islam once they hit the teens or pre-teens. However, you can show her how beautiful Islam is by setting an example in your behavior, kindness, love, and interest in her. You may wish to share stories with her about some of the things you experienced when you were her age.
This may create a bond between the two of you. By sharing Islamic inspirations and choices you made, this may pique her interest. I will kindly suggest inviting her to the Masjid for prayers, events, and for teens and pre-teens group discussions. When you and your husband pray or read Qur’an, invite her to join you. If you do charity work, bring her along.
Thee are many ways for you to teach her Islam besides one on one study sessions. You would like for her to gain interest in Islam first, and study it from her heart.
Illustrating the Beauty of Islamic Principles
Sister show her the beauty of Islam. You may start with an appealing basic principle of Islam. For example, discussing the fun festivities of Eid celebrations may lead to a discussion of why we fast during the month of Ramadan. Children tend to respond better to things they perceive as fun, festive and relatable. Ramadan and our Eids are fun and festive, but there is a serious reason why we do participate and celebrate.
You and Your Husband as Examples
Insha’Allah sister she will also see the joy, closeness, and kindness that you and your husband share. Insha’Allah, she will see and feel the happiness that Islam brings to you both. Insha’Allah she will want to be a part of this. Take it slow with her sister, and introduce Islamic concepts and principles based on her interests, willingness to participate, and maturity level. Don’t push Islam, offer it and make duaa for Allah swt to touch her heart.
Sister, when you have your own children, you do not have to explain your husband’s actions to your children. As stated above, his sins are in the past. This is a new life moving forward. Your husband has a daughter from a previous relationship-that’s all that needs to be said if asked. Insha’Allah when you do have children you will treat them all the same-you and your husbands’ children you have together as well as his 11 year old daughter whom you are now forming a relationship with.
With this said I’m sure that you both will do your best to respect both her and her mother, her as well as illustrate the beauty and righteousness of Islam whenever she is in your home. As far as your question about “if she doesn’t become a practicing Muslim does my husband carry the burden of her sins”. I am not an Islamic scholar therefore I can only advise you that we all stand alone before Allah on judgement day. Please do write to our section “Ask the Scholars” for a more complete and precise answer. We wish you the best.
Views expressed by hosts/guests on this program (live dialogue, Facebook sessions, etc.) are their own and their appearance on the program does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent.