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Ask the Counselor (Counseling Live Session)

Dear Brother/Sisters,

Due to the counselor’s limited capacity of answering questions, here are the 5 questions that our counselor has provided an answer for. We apologize for not responding all the other questions.

If you have not received an answer below at this time, please submit your question to one of our upcoming Live Sessions. Thank you for your understanding.

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Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general. They are 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.

Question 1. I am very envious of my sister

We are sisters, and in my life, I was like Lydia in Pride and Prejudice. Always running after men and and asking my family to bail me out when I got into trouble. As I grew older, I tried to repent but I am very envious of my sister who is like Lizzie, following her standards and the deen. I get so envious, I slander her and accuse her of everything I did in my youth and and claimed that I was a pious child, when I was not. I want her to break and fall, so I can feel she is not better than me. I hate that she did not make the same mistakes I did and I try hard to tell others that she did and make up all sorts of lies about her.

I feel very angry that she did not make my mistakes.

She cut off ties with me and refuses to talk with me at all. I tried to hype people around town to force her to talk to me, but she has cut me off.

What do I do now? I am not very rich and she used to financially support me. Now I lost the financial support.

Salam alaikom wa rahamtullah dear sister,

Thank you for writing to us with your concern. You describe your situation with pretty honesty and sincerity regarding your inner feelings and motivation. These are signs of maturity, masallah. It seems that you understand what is happening and why; and also, your responsibility in this conflict.

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You write that you have been very envious during your whole life of your sister, who was “the righteous”, while you feel that you were not pious enough. You wanted her to commit mistakes as you, so you could feel that she was not better than you.

You relate that probably as a result of your behavior – she cut-off the relationship with you, and this means that she does not support you economically anymore.

Well, my dear sister, I think this a classical example of sibling rivalry, that starts mainly in early childhood, and unfortunately sometimes lasts during one’s whole life. Unless these conflicts and the underlying reasons are uncovered, siblings may face strong confrontations filled with jealousy and envy. But where do these feelings come from?

Craving for love

As children all have an instinctive drive to get the attention of our caregivers, to feel loved and needed by them. These are primarily urges, often unconscious, but very strong ones. As a child, you depend on your caregiver, and the love and attention of them mean everything. So, when a sister or brother appears, the fight for this attention and love starts, creating feelings of jealousy and even hate towards your “rival”.

Behind these feelings there are usually fears of being deprived from love and care, and sense of unlovability.

These feelings unfortunately can be intensified, when you perceive that your sister is more praised, more loved, and is more gifted than yourself. Sometimes it happens, that the sibling is indeed receives more love and care; intentionally or unwillingly, by their parents. But often this is just a PERCEIVED reality, and you unconsciously look over your own appraisal, your talents, and the love you receive in order to foster feelings of unlovability and unworthiness.

I do not know my sister; which one is the case in your situation, was your sister a real or perceived “threat”. Did you receive less love and praise from your parents than your sister, when you were very young? Do you think it was intentionally? If not, do you remember that your parents expressed love and care for you as well?

I am asking these questions, because I think if you want to find ease in this situation, and get over these feelings towards your sister, you have to understand the root cause of this conflict.

Furthermore, it often happens as a result, that a child develops traits and engages in behaviors that are exactly the opposites of their siblings. This contrast is meant to cope with the feelings of “not being enough good/lovable/smart/pious as my sister. It seems to me that it might have happened to you as well; as you see her, as someone who does not commit mistakes like you, is pious and infallible.

I am very sorry, if you suffered some form of emotional neglect or other traumatic experience by your loved ones. These are not necessarily “big things”, often the key is how you perceive certain events, as they still can affect your mental well-being in the long run.

Sister, you need to accept that if you have suffered any form of lack of attention and love (perceived or real), it is not the fault of your sister. While it is usual that negative feelings are channeled towards a sibling, it is not the right response, and does not lead to relief and ease, but the opposite, to further conflict and inner struggles.

I would suggest you the following:

Forgive yourself

I think you have to forgive yourself for the inability to cope with your feelings in this situation. It was not your fault; neither was your sister’s. At the same time, acknowledging that your behavior in certain situations was some kind of reaction to an underlying problem would release some distress.

Learn to love yourself

You also try to forgive yourself for the lies, the slander, and incorrect behavior towards your sister. Try to understand the underlying issues behind them, started a long time ago. I would recommend speaking with a counselor and working on reducing these fears and possible feelings of inadequacy, and learning to accept and love yourself.

Never is it too late to change, and no matter how old you are, you always have the possibility to let these feelings go, and move forward with a more positive mindset, first and foremost about yourself. If you learn to love yourself, you will more easily love others as well, including your sister.

Nobody is perfect: seeing the shades between black and white

You told that you wanted to see your sister break and fall, and hated her for not committing the same mistakes as you. Probably not the same ones, but I can reassure you that she commits mistakes as well. Nobody is perfect, and certainly she has her weaknesses, while you have your strengths too. We all commit sins and mistakes, either we admit them or not.

Surely, there are certain traits that our more praised by our religion, therefore during your upbringing, but treats are learnable, so you can start acquiring them now!

Make a list of traits you possess and things you have done and are worthy of love. Also, make a list of traits that you would like to have, and start behaving accordingly. If it is generosity, for example, start being more generous. If it is kindness, start being more kind, you can even start with a smile.  

At the same time, accept the fact that you have committed mistakes, but express your willingness to change. This even can even be done openly, in the presence of somebody else you trust and love, so you can feel more accountable to fulfill your promise.

Check & clean your intention

At the end of your letter, you admit that you lost the financial support of your sister. Please, be sincere with yourself and ask what the reason is behind wanting to get in touch with her. Is this only for financial support?

Does this financial support mean something else for you, for example, love and care?

If the answer to the first question is yes, I think you have to “shift roles”, and put yourself in her situation. Then ask yourself, how would you feel, if you were your sister in this case? Would you be able to wholeheartedly support yourself both emotionally and financially? You might realize that you need to clean your intentions in order to receive a positive response from her side.

Ask your sister to forgive you

Certainly, there is wisdom in the Qadr of Allah, so that you were chosen to be sisters. I am sure that there are many things to learn from one another, despite the hurt you caused each other. If you are ready to resolve this conflict with clear intentions, approach her with kindness, and with a willingness to work on your relationship.

You can admit your fault to her, and also listen to her feelings of hurt caused by your behavior. Reluctancy as a first reaction also would be totally understandable from her side, as she needs to gain back confidence in you. That is ok. Try to forgive and learn to accept and love each other.

In sha Allah, with time and with work on yourself and on this relationship, you become a sincere support for each other. May Allah help you with the best outcome possible.

Question 2. Dealing with Mother That Exploits

My father died 8 eight years ago and i don’t have paternal uncles or brothers. I’m an only child, unmarried, live with my mother. My mother uses tantrums and verbal abuse to traumatize me. She restricts my mobility to an extreme. Has tried to force me to marry his 15 years old nephew so his brother can have my paternal inheritance. She has even given the full control of my inheritance to her brother. I am tired of these circumstances. She calls me greedy when i demand my property. I want to find a scholarship abroad and leave, because i don’t feel safe around my family, but she won’t even let me leave the house without her. I feel like my life is wasting away. My previous 20s have been wasted trying to avoid forced marriage. I don’t know how to break free.

Salam alaikom wa rahmatullah wa barakatuhu dear Sister,

Thank you for writing to us with your struggle. What you explain in your letter, indeed, is a very sad and difficult situation.

You wrote that you, an only child, live with your mother who verbally abuses you, restricts your mobility, and had attempts to force you to marry her nephew in order to his brother get your paternal inheritance. You also state that you do not have paternal uncles and brothers, only from your mother’s side.

What you write about the relationship with your mother, sadly, does not sound like a supportive, caring relationship. Let me ask you something: was this always like this? Do you remember the instance when she started to behave in an abusive way? You wrote that your father died 8 years ago; may he rest in peace; was this tragic event a turning point in her behavior?

I do not know the answer, but maybe your mother’s behavior has to do something with this unexpected event in your family and with her inability to cope properly with this situation. Probably as a widow mother, she faces financial insecurities, stress, lack of support from her family members, while she does not have skills to manage her emotions and avoid channeling her fears and frustrations onto your relationship.

You wrote that you live together with your mother, but you do not detail how you manage your day-to-day living. Do you have any regular income? Do any of you work, or do you receive some economic support from her family?

Financial Stress is Not a Valid Reason to Hurt Others

I am asking these questions because I have the feeling that this situation has to do with finances, and fears of real or hypothetic future financial struggles. Although you do not elaborate on the financial situation of your mother’s family, it seems to me that your paternal heritance is perceived as some kind of possible solution to these future struggles. Maybe for your mother, or for her family, who possibly has to support you in the absence of your father. 

Whatever is the case, you have to know, my dear sister, that your paternal inheritance belongs to you, and you have the right to use it for whatever you are pleased with – as long as you are within the boundaries set by Allah. So, if you would like to study abroad – you have the right to go for that plan, also, if you decide to spend some part of it on your family to alleviate the economic burden. It is up to you. 

You may frequently hear that in Islam our parents deserve our obedience and respect, and that our duty is to treat them right. That is how it is, but to complement this statement, children also have rights upon their parents, who are responsible for their children, and this responsibility includes providing education, and assuring a potentially stable future (both morally and economically) in the form of marriage according to their best possibilities.

What About Marriage?

You write that you are continuously trying to avoid forced marriages, so I assume that your mother is trying to find a potential spouse for you. Of course, you do not have to marry someone who you do not wish to, but I would say that considering marriage at your age – 32 years old – is an understandable question. I do not know how you feel about this issue; if you reject the idea completely for some reason, or you just haven’t received any suitable proposals. I wish you to ponder upon this possibility, particularly, if the latter is the case. Showing more interest in finding the right spouse would probably give less room for your mother to choose partners you do not feel suitable for, while you could avoid proposals that are intent on securing not yours, but your mother’s financial situation.

No Place for Abuse

Also, whatever difficulties your mother faces, abusive behavior – whether verbal, emotional or physical – is not acceptable at all, nor permitted. It should not be the mean to maintain control over your life. Unjust, oppressive behavior is clearly against Islamic teachings, and leads only to alienation between you and your mother. As an adult woman, you need to start your own life, study, form a family, etc. and you should expect support from your family, looking for your interests.

Unfortunately, there are situations like yours, when family members pass unresolved traumatic and painful experiences on to their offspring, making them life harder where possible. This toxicity is a burden, as one is hurt by the ones who are meant to protect and love them most. It is a vicious cycle, and requires a lot of effort to break out and heal from these wounds.

My sister, I advise you for your own well-being to forgive your mother. Try to forgive her ill-treatment and her inability to support you correctly. I think this is the first step you have to take in order to move on and start your own life.

Setting Up Boundaries

Secondly, you have to protect yourself from emotional abuse by setting up boundaries, and not letting her words hurt you. If she calls you greedy, for example, just let these words fall down from you. Think about these words as attempts to gain control over you by making you feel guilty. But my dear sister, behind manipulation and excessive control, usually there is a lack of real power and confidence. Your mother is probably led by some fears, maybe financials, that you are not responsible for. I would advise to maintain respect and kindness, but also practice firmness, as you also deserve the same respectful and kind treatment.

Here are some tips to set emotional boundaries: one thing is obedience and another is not letting yourself be exploited by someone. It is ok to say no to things you do not agree with, you do not consider right, or you do not wish for yourself. You can practice saying no in these situations without feeling resentment or guilt. If you do not agree with something, just say that it is the case and explain it why. Start sentences like: I think… In my opinion it is… I do not agree/ I do not think it is a good idea, because…

If you encounter responses that intend to make you feel guilty for rejecting her opinion, you can kindly point it out, saying something like: I know/understand that this makes you feel bad/that you do not like this idea; but I prefer/I think it is better/ I want…

Try not to enter into unnecessary arguments, and do not be afraid of the other person’s frustration caused by your rejection. It is a normal reaction, and the other person has to learn to deal with it.

Find Support

The third would be to accept the fact that while at this moment you cannot count on the support of your family members, you still have the right to care and kind treatment. So, try to look around to see whether there are other community members who can help you in this situation. I do not know which country you live in, but in certain places there are social services which provide legal and psychological aid for women in trouble. Here are some helplines for Muslim women, where you may get further information about local support services: Muslim Women Helpline, Solace Muslim Women Helpline, NISA Helpline.

If moving away to study is the only possible option to protect yourself from unwanted marriages and abusive behavior, try to consider it more seriously. If you have a paternal inheritance that legally belongs to you, you as an adult have a right over this money, no matter how your family tries to make you believe the opposite. If you find a support service who can help you implement your plan, you may turn to them.

Conclusion

To conclude it, my dear sister, understanding your mother’s behavior and trying to forgive her ill treatment would be the first step to healing. Learn to set boundaries and to deal with feelings of guilt by understanding the limits of your responsibility over others life. Take active interest in your future and ask for support to implement these plans.

I wish you the best outcome possible, may Allah bless you!

Question 3. Depression and Hate

I have depression. I have spoken to my psychologist who is a non-muslim, but I did not tell her what is causing the depression, because she is non-muslim, just told her very depressed but don’t feel comfortable sharing why, so she said just move away from what is causing the depression. My depression and hate for myself is because I started learning about Islam. I know it is strange, because it was meant to create peace and tranquility but I just feel the opposite. It is all because of how Islam views women. I thought if a male and female have the excat same piety, sincerity and number and quality of good deeds then both are equally loved by Allah and are given equitable bliss and reward, even if not the exact same reward, but I thought it would at least be equal but different, so the man not better nor the woman. Learning about Islam more, has taught me the excat opposite, have a man and a female same sinceirty and good deeds, the male is given alot more and he is more loved by Allah and that woman is equivalent to a man with much less piety and good deeds than her.  because of this there is nothing more hurtful to me and more depressive that thinking about the word paradise or reward and reading what the Quran says about paradise and how men get everything they desire is like knives stapping if not worse, because the descriptions of paradise for men are so nice and stunning but for women it is so dull. Not to mention the fact let a woman have the excat same sinceirty and good deeds as  man, yet his even though the same sincerity and good deeds they are worth more. In this case, can I just stop learning about Islam as the more I learn the worse I feel the more haterd I have for myself and just stop thinking about paradise or even avoiding anything that mentions this word. and just aim for not going to hell and so long as I do not go to hell, I just do not care about ceasing exitance, going or not going to paradise. So in a nutshell can I just avoid encountering anything about the descriptions of paradise and only working towards avoiding hell in whatever I do without expecting anything else, like zero reward other than not going to hell. Because i had high expectations of reward and paradise, so i feel if I make them as low as possible, then learning about women getting lesser reward for the same worship performed with same sincerity, even though yes it will still be sad, but not as sad, because the exceptation and wish now has become avoid hell and nothing else to expect.

Salam alaikom wa rahmatullah wa barakatuhu,

Thank you, sister, for turning to us with your concern. You are stating that you are depressed, and the root cause of this depression is the way Islam sees women, especially regarding the rewards in Afterlife according to your understanding. You also stated that you went to a non- Muslim psychologist, but you were not comfortable to disclose your thoughts that are related to your religion.

Let’s start briefly with this last statement: this is unfortunately quite common, that Muslims perceive non-Muslim psychologists as they are not being able to grasp their problem, as spirituality and religion are often disregarded by secular therapists. Even with a culturally sensitive approach, you may feel that you cannot express yourself without referring to Islam and your Muslim identity in a session, just like it happened in your case.

Alhamdulillah, there are more and more Muslim psychologists who integrate Islam and the Islamic approach to treatment. There is a strong increment in research and initiatives related to Islamic psychology – the study of the soul according to our Islamic tradition. I encourage you to seek – whether online or in your local community, a Muslim professional who can provide you a proper care considering the teachings of your faith.

Secondly, in this response, I will focus on the psychological aspects of your question, although your concern primarily is related to Islamic sciences, the understanding of the Hereafter, our deeds, and the rewards for them, especially for women. You might be looking for a scholarly answer by someone qualified in this field. I encourage you to write to our section Ask About Islam, to get a more detailed answer. Furthermore, you can find previous answers to similar questions herehere, or here.

You write that the most hurtful thought for you is that while men and women do the same good deeds, and have the same piety; men in Jannah will get what they want, while women do not, as there is a detailed, beautiful description for men, and not the same for women.

Equal But Not Identical

My dear sister, you are right when you are saying that women and men are equal in front of Allah, in terms of responsibility, good deeds, and accountability. We both strive to please Allah, and to get our reward in Afterlife:

“Surely ˹for˺ Muslim men and women, believing men and women, devout men and women, truthful men and women, patient men and women, humble men and women, charitable men and women, fasting men and women, men and women who guard their chastity, and men and women who remember Allah often—for ˹all of˺ them Allah has prepared forgiveness and a great reward.” (Quran 33:35)

However, Allah created men and women with complementary roles, and with distinct natures in some aspects; therefore our needs and desires may differ from one another. Of course, not every single man, and every single woman are the same, with the same desires and attitudes; but certainly, there are general tendencies that one can observe across time, places, or cultures.

This means, that while men tend to have certain desires, women might have different ones, and the reward in Jannah is according to the particular need and deeds of the individual:

“And do not crave what Allah has given some of you over others. Men will be rewarded according to their deeds and women ˹equally˺ according to theirs. Rather, ask Allah for His bounties. Surely Allah has ˹perfect˺ knowledge of all things.” (Quran 4:32)

Even, without considering gender, people who have distinct life paths given by Allah, The Wisest, will be tested differently; therefore, rewarded differently. Just because the description is more detailed for men, does not mean, that women are not considered equally worthy for being granted with the pleasures of Jannah. In the Quran or Sunnah there is no indication that women would not get what they desire, and what is most pleasing for them.

Where Is Our Focus?

My dear sister, certainly, our thoughts have a lot to do with our emotional well-being. Sometimes, for some reason, we develop certain beliefs from the repetition of some thoughts that we perceive as correct ones, although does not reflect exactly the reality. The popping up of these thoughts can trigger you, causing you negative emotions that are meant to support that particular core belief. These beliefs can be related, for example, to our sense of worthiness, lovability, capability; and of course, the lack of these qualities.

I am telling you this sister, because it seems to me, that in your studies you focus on supporting the idea that you (as a woman) are not worthy enough for being rewarded for your efforts and deeds, and you tend to disregard evidence that goes against this belief. This could happen, because you might have some negative experience that led you to arrive at this conclusion, and caused you certain issues with self – worth, self-esteem, and proper confidence in your capabilities and lovability. If this is the case, I suggest you seek further counseling – especially I recommend you CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy – where these ideas and their actual reality is examined and modified into more realistic ones.

I suggest you an activity: try to find verses, ahadith or tafseer that deal with women in Islam: their reward, their status and their rights, and make a list of them. Include those ones as well that mention both men and women, in the same context.

1. Instead of comparing these rewards with the ones described for men, try to examine these ideas, whether they are really as negative about women, just because they are less explicit than what is described for men.

2. Try to search for verses, or ahadith that details the blessed status of women, and their rewards, like for example, the ones related to motherhood, to mercy, to the kind treatment they deserve, etc.

3. Try to search for evidence that indicates that men will also have their punishment for their wrong deeds, and they also have duties to fulfill to deserve Paradise.

Insha Allah, you will realize that there are plenty of verses and ahadith about the rewards and respect of women in our tradition.

One Thing Is Islam, Another Is Culture

I also would like to point out, that sadly, cultural influences, and lack of enough knowledge sometimes distort the message of Islam regarding women, and this leads to unjust treatment, oppression and abuse. These practices tend to be excused by the teachings of the religion, but actually have no real basis in Islam. Muslim women deserve kind, respectful treatment from their family; also protection, and fulfillment of their rights. So, while you study Islam, I encourage you to put aside what you might see and hear about “Muslims”. Also, make sure that you are critical enough about those explanations and views that try fitting Islam to modern Western ideologies, and focus on the original teachings of the religion.

Finally, my dear sister, by focusing on the deen, and trying to fulfill your religious obligations, doing good deeds, and staying away from wrong actions and sins, you can certainly expect the highest reward from Allah:

“So their Lord responded to them: “I will never deny any of you—male or female—the reward of your deeds. Both are equal in reward.” (Quran 3:195)

I wish you ease and comfort, may Allah reward you for your actions.

Question 4.  How to give up sin

Hey i am struggling with so much with my sin.now i feel hopeless.i have so many bad habit . every time i improve in worship then i fallback to sin.i have doing theses for 3 year.there are so many major sin addiction i dealing with.can i leave my sin gradually.because if i try stop all my them at a time i am fall back to it. In the end I am only left to regret for myself.is there any way to leave sin gradually please tell me.can i improve slowly .i am so hopeless please help

Salam alaikom dear brother,

Thank you for writing to us with your struggle. You mention that you are feeling hopeless as you have many bad habits. You also comment that in the last 3 years you have fallen back to sin several times, which is related to addiction.

You are asking for the possibly graduality to stop this habit you are feeling addicted to, as you are struggling when you try to cut it off at once.

Dear brother, I understand that this is a complicated issue, although you do not detail what kind of bad habits and addictions you are talking about. While it would be important to know it, as there are many types of addictions, and their treatment depends on each. Some, like drug or alcohol addiction cause physical dependence, therefore cutting it off all of a sudden should be done in a controlled manner, along with some alternative medical treatment in order reduce physical symptoms of withdrawal.

As your question is general, I can only give some general tips related to your question.

Bad habits

Habits, whether good or bad, are learned actions, so the good news is that you can unlearn them. How?

Habits are actions which with constant repetition, become routines. Some habits result in rewards; in a psychological sense: gives you the sense of pleasure, relief, thanks to hormonal releases in the brain.

Usually, there is a trigger that makes you feel the urge to engage in this action. Try to identify this trigger, and make conscious steps to avoid it. Either the appearance of the trigger itself or your response, depending on what kind of habit we are talking about. This can be done, when the trigger is something “physical”, like, for example, images on social media, sounds, a concrete place, or object etc.

 If the trigger is something psychological, like feeling anxiety, for example, to smoke a cigarette, and the habit is meant to “release” this stress; as soon as you notice the “urge”, you have to start a completely different activity, making it hard for you to engage in smoking. In case of the cigarette, for example, first you have to get rid of it, make sure that you do not have easy access to find one /ask for one. When you feel the need to smoke, you take some deep breaths, remind yourself of your decision and engage in something else pleasant: for ex. eat a piece of chocolate, drink slowly a cup of water, do a short exercise, etc.

In terms of triggers, you can also analyze your daily routines and environmental influences, and make necessary adjustments if you think that has to do with your bad habits. This can be fewer social media use, quitting haram content on screen, staying away from friends who have negative influence on you, etc.

You can try to replace the bad habit by developing a good one instead. You have to repeat this new habit over and over again to convert it into a routine action. Also, remember, some kind of reward has to be linked to this new habit. Think about what makes you feel good, and is healthy and halal. Whether it is your favorite food, walking in nature, being with good friends, listening to Quran; you can go for it, as long as it does not remind you of your bad habits. I am referring here especially to your friends: think about whether the company you have fosters enough of your good habits or not.

Gradually or All of a Sudden

Many times, graduality does not work, because you still get the “reward”, just less frequently, so your brain still wants to engage in the action again in order to get the pleasure associated with it. What needs to be done is remove the association of reward to this action, and this can happen if you completely stop responding to the stimuli (trigger).

Of course, as your brain gets used to a certain routine of actions, you can expect more intense urges when “its time for pleasure” but you do not get the reward. This is very normal, and in order to diminish the craving you have to NOT engage in the action, no matter if you think that the solution is the opposite.

The symptoms of withdrawal can be very intense, both physically and psychologically. You have to be patient, and remind yourself that with time these feelings diminish and rich a level that you can control more easily.

Addiction

You do not mention what kind of addiction you suffer, but I recommend you to talk to a counselor in order to discover the underlying reasons behind them. Usually, addiction is more than having some bad habits, as can be the result of earlier traumatic experiences, and mental health problems. Depression, anxiety; childhood abuse and neglect; feelings of unlovability, unworthiness are some of the possible reasons behind addictions. These underlying issues need to be uncovered and treated in order to successfully overcome addictive behavior.

As I said in the beginning, there are some addictions – usually related to substances – that need to be treated with caution, as there is strong physical dependence, and a sudden quit could have dangerous physical consequences. You need to consult a specialist who will advise you accordingly.

There are Muslim therapists who deal with addictions, so you can try to find a suitable one in sha Allah. I assure you that you do not have to feel ashamed for your struggle, as this is a difficult test related to your mental health, and needs treatment like a normal disease. What you can do is to make a firm decision to change, repent sincerely, ask for forgiveness from Allah and forgive yourself as well; trust in His Mercy, and take this situation as a test that draws you closer to the deen and to Him.

May Allah make it easy for you!

Question 5. Relationship Before Marriage

Asalam Alaeykum

So I have a boyfriend, we are both Muslims, practising Muslims…but we knew what we share is haram, but we decided to part ways….i am still very much in love with him, I don’t want to do anything haram with him and i still want us to be together, we are both not ready for marriage yet…what can I do to get him back.

Wa alaikom Salam Dear Sister,

Thank you for turning to us with your concern. You write that you had a boyfriend – both of you are practicing Muslims – and decided to discontinue the relationship as it is haram. You also state that you are not ready for marriage, but you still love him, and want to get him back.

I understand your situation sister, and masallah for doing the right thing, and ending the relationship, knowing that in this form it is not permitted according to Islam. It is surely a difficult test from Allah to resist your desires, and put your faith and spiritual commitment prior to them.

I also understand that this decision is not simple black and white, as you are having seemingly conflicting feelings: you want to follow the teachings of the religion and avoid haram; while you have romantic sentiments towards this brother, as some form of love and attachment was already created between you two.

You ask how you can get him back. I would say that the only worthy path is the halal way, through marriage.

Actually, having a romantic relationship at your age, where you can experience and express these feelings of love, desire and romance, would be completely normal and healthy. So, you do not need to feel guilty for these desires; rather you should seek the halal way to live them.

You write that both of you are not ready for marriage yet. This makes me wonder about two different possibilities here.

First, what are the obstacles to this marriage? Studies, work, money? Or probably family issues? One of you -or both – may fear that the parents would reject the idea?

Now, imagine that these concerns suddenly are solved by one day to another. Would you like to marry him, and he would marry you?

I am asking these questions, because I think that if you really love each other, and both of you feel that you are meant to be together, you can make the decision to legalize this relationship, and get married. Sometimes the obstacles are only apparent ones, and the solution is to change your mindset and set up different priorities.

Remember this ayat in the Quran:

“Indeed, Allāh will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” Quran 13:11

If your priorities are in accordance with the Sunnah, you will experience in sha Allah ease in your affairs. Marriage is a halal option and has many benefits for the couple on a psychological, emotional and physical level. At the same time, we people set up certain conditions for marriage, that are not part of the Sunnah. Having a solid carrier, pursuing higher education, for example, are not necessarily have to be completed prior to marriage, as this does not equal the Islamically required financial capability of the future husband. You both can continue with your studies or work if you wish, after the marriage is concluded. The same applies to the dowry, and to the costs of the wedding: do not need to be excessive and cause a financial burden of the husband’s family.

Same is the issue with some cultural expectations of some families, who have preference for a certain nationality, or status over the piety of the spouse.

I am inviting you, my dear sister, to reflect upon the reasons why you say that you are not ready for marriage yet. Try to put aside the cultural expectations, and the “common customs” in your family and surroundings, and ask yourself whether you really would like to stay with this person in the long run and form a family with him. Of course, he can ask himself the same question.

If the answer is yes, for both of you, I encourage you to make steps to perform a nikah and make your union halal, as legitimacy is required and would be a blessing for both of you.

If the answer is no, it means that you are feeling attached to this brother, and have sentiments for him BUT you do not consider him as a suitable future husband for some reason; it is better to end this relationship and cut -off ties with him completely.

If you do not think that he is the right person to form a family with, it means that it would be a waste of time making attempts to legalize this relationship. I understand that separation is a painful period, which is completely normal, as you still have sentiments towards him. But I can reassure you, my sister, that with time these feelings will be less intense, as you gradually detach yourself emotionally from this relationship.

In this case, you have to remain strong and focus on something else. Try to make yourself understand that this person is not meant to be your partner, and certainly there is wisdom behind. With time, as your life continues, you will understand that Allah had another, better plan for you, so take it as a test:

“But they plan, and Allāh plans. And Allāh is the best of planners.” 8:30

You can try some new activities, join a sisters group, do whatever your hobby is, and spend enough time with great company.  You can offer voluntary actions and worship to increase your imaan and gain more psychological strength to overcome this period.

There is one more thing: in case that the brother is the one who for some reason does not want to legalize this relationship, I recommend you to stop meeting him completely, both on social media and in real life. If he does not feel committed enough to marry you, it is enough sign that he is not the right one for you in the long run.

Before concluding my answer, I recommend you to participate in an Islamic premarital course, with him or without him; online or in-person if available in your community – to prepare yourself for marriage from an Islamic point of view. Here are some recommendations, and I encourage you to do your research and find the most suitable one: Islamic Guide to a Successful Marriage, Smart Muslimah -Premarital Courses

I wish you to find the answer easily, may Allah bless you!

Tuesday, May. 31, 2022 | 11:00 - 00:00 GMT

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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.