Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Thank you for participating in the session.
Here are the 4 answers our counselor provided answers. If you do not find here yours, please check our next session or submit your question there.
Thank you for your understanding.
Question 2. Going through tough times, regretting, and overthinking
As-salam-malaykam. how are you doing today, I hope you are doing well and feeling well. I hope this finds you very well. I feel sad, disconnected, shy, irritated, and isolated myself. I go through a lot of bad challenges, I didn’t read the Quran and didn’t pray and I was childish and a bad boy. I feel normal, but I dislike being confident because I find it becoming a show-off. And I regret it and I feel depressed. Have no friends, get treated differently, and get bullied a lot through childhood. I also have bad thoughts not sure if it’s intrusive thoughts like cursing thoughts. Now, alhamdulillah I started praying. When I pray bad thoughts attack me and Islam. I feel scared when I type something that I’m going through with you. I want to be a good Muslim, not a bad Muslim. And I don’t want that, I feel regretful, and shameless sadly. I wish I went back on time to fix everything. I have a job alhamdulillah and I’m happy, but I have bad thoughts, and I feel like is this a sign of dissociation yes or no correct me in case. One) When I go to my dad’s family friends or relatives’ houses, I always have low confidence and feel shy. Sadly, all of them read the Quran, but I feel sad and numb and shameless that I didn’t read. Also, I’m afraid of judgment day and the three questions on the graveyard. I used to be a bad Muslim and I’m good but I feel guilty and shame because of my past sins. always doubting myself, overthinking, and feeling down. And I dislike jokes around older people, and their minds can be a little rotten, and I feel very mad and sad. Please help me, and may Allah reward you.
Salam alaikom wa rahmatullah brother,
Thank you for reaching out. I am really sorry, as I can see that you are really struggling with a variety of negative feelings, including sadness, disconnectedness, and isolation. Also, you have low confidence and shyness, especially when you are with your father’s family. They do read (recite?) the Quran well, while you do not.
What I was thinking about was your upbringing—you are still young, under 20—and how loving and supportive your family was of you.
Did you feel that you could turn to them when you felt vulnerable? Or were they the ones who made you feel bad by the way they treated you?
You know, growing up and being hurt by those we trust most is a very painful experience. Also, when we feel that there is nowhere to turn for comfort. No one has the right to hurt you, and diminish your self-worth and value. These criticisms usually tell more about the other person than about you, so please, do not believe that you are not capable or good enough.
I am not sure what your experience was, but it seems that by now you feel alone, and it is hard for you to overcome your negative thoughts.
And negative thoughts lead to negative feelings and, finally, mental health struggles.
Brother, I really suggest some form of external, professional support. Please check around to see if your country offers any free services. You can start with a hotline, where they can orient you further. I am not sure whether you have ever been assessed for depression or other mental health issues, but please contact your GP to do so.
They need to check if they can set up a diagnosis, for example, for depression, and start your treatment, which can include medication and therapy.
I am saying this because, for example, depression does alter our way of thinking. And in this case, even if you would like to, it will be hard to see things from another perspective without treatment.
Of course, generally speaking, all of us have negative thoughts, even regarding our worship, our imaan, our abilities, etc. But those who do not suffer from mental health issues are able to overcome these feelings and eventually cope.
As you said, massallah, you started praying, and you also did things that helped you somehow feel better.
Continue to pray regularly and seek relief in the religion. Ramadan will be a good opportunity to connect with Allah more. Just focus on Him and seek his guidance and help. Do not pay attention the negative thoughts when you pray. Just ignore them and continue with your prayer and worship. If you have negative feelings towards people, try to “clean” this energy: pray for them, make supplication for them, ask Allah to forgive them for their wrongdoing.
Please do not compare yourself with others. I know that in a mental state like yours, it is very common to indulge in these thoughts that others are better at this or that. I can assure you that they also have their struggles and will have their tests in life.
I know that we are told to have high expectations in our religion, and you can see many things online and in real life about how some people excel in this or that, but know that there is always another side and everyone has to strive to be better. And we do not need to seek perfection. We need to try our best and trust in Allah that he will reward our efforts.
Focus on the present and leave the past behind. If you have repented for past wrongdoing and asked Allah sincerely for forgiveness, just move on.
Try to spend the time in good company. Be with people who make you feel good about yourself. If there is no one around, you might find people online.
Spend time outdoors, if possible, in nature more. It is a perfect place to connect with Allah through his beautiful creation, and it also help for those in depressed state.
Do exercise regularly. This at your age would be very important, plus doing sports helps releasing hormones that make you feel better, naturally.
Take the opportunity of this Ramadan and start a new habit. For example, join a community initiative for this month: participating in charity collection, setting up iftars, whatever. It does not matter whether you have experience in this or not. Take this as an opportunity to do something for the sake of Allah and for others. Seeing the results of your efforts can really help in making feel useful, worthy and better about yourself.
Check out these additional sources:
Can You Make the Most of Ramadan with Depression?
The Healing Power of Nature – A Psychological Take
Question 3. Help for Guidance
I’m a 13-year-old girl, who was born in Syria and I came to Canada with my family in 2018. I have a younger 12-year-old teenage younger sister. I feel my sister’s been talking and approaching guys at school, and I can’t go up to her and tell her because she will deny it and will stop talking to me about the smallest details happening with her at school that could lead me to conclusions like this. My mother expects me to guide and lead her from all the things that could hinder her religion in this Country. I don’t know what to do or how to advise her. I’m hoping you’ll help me make the best move and set her back on the right track.
Thank you for your time.
Salam alaikom wa rahmatullah sister,
Thank you for reaching out.
What I understand from your letter is that you arrived in Canada from Syria in 2018. You are the older sister, although only 1 year older than your 12-year-old sister, and your mother expects you to guide and lead her away from the things that could hinder her religion.
Well, sister, I understand that you and your family have gone through a lot these years. May Allah make it easy for you.
Immigration from one country to another is always challenging, especially if this means transiting to a completely new environment, culturally and religiously speaking. And it can be especially hard if the reason for immigration was a war or conflict you needed to flee from. The adjustment phase can take a long time, as you are exposed to different norms and customs and, in your case, even a new language.
I guess you have been incorporated into the school system in Canada with your sister, and probably this also differs from the school and education back in your home country.
Of course, it is understandable that there can be many cultural things, social norms, that are not in line with Islamic standards or what you usually experience in a Muslim majority country. From festivals to dress codes, social interactions, etc.
And it is also understandable that you, your mother, and your family would like to preserve your traditions and fear losing your religion on the way of integration.
Well, I want to reassure you that this is not necessarily the case, alhamdulillah. There are Muslims in Canada and in the West in general, and while we are struggling due to certain differences in values, there are also many possibilities to freely practice and learn about your religion, and to gather with other Muslims and experience life in a Muslim community.
At the same time, I would like to point out something very important: the religious guidance and commitment of your sister are not primarily your responsibility, but rather those of your parents. I am not sure whether this is what is explicitly required by your mother (as you are there with her at school, you might speak the language better, etc.) or what you perceive it to be.
But you are only 13 years old, and while we are expected to take care of each other as brothers and sisters, the parents are the ones who are responsible for the upbringing of their children. This means certain duties, no matter where you live, whether in a Muslim or a non-Muslim country.
So, while it is alright if they try to instill responsibility in you by encouraging you to take care of each other at school (or you take care of the younger one), it is alright to an extent. You should not feel that this only lies on your shoulders or that your parents can pass the responsibility on to you each time something happens to your sister.
Naturally, this would be very distressing for you and feel like a huge task and burden.
Psychologically speaking, this is problematic for various reasons, including:
- You are still young and learning, so you do not have the religious knowledge or the teaching skills to guide your sister effectively.
- While your parents have “authority” over you as children, this is not the case among siblings. You are rather companions on the same level. It can cause unnecessary conflict with your sister if it is expected that you behave as “her mother”.
- These expectations can negatively affect your relationship, but they can also cause you stress and mental health instability because of others’ unrealistic expectations of you.
With this being said, I would advise the following:
- Talk to your mother kindly and tell her that you can take care of your sister to some extent. You might advise her that this or that is wrong, but ultimately, you cannot be responsible for her actions. Let her know that this is causing you distress and struggle.
- Ask your mother for help. Be there for each other as a family, together. While she is not present at school, she is responsible for guiding her daughter in a new environment. This means that she might need to learn more about the religion and get ready for the challenges young Muslims face in the West. Here are some articles from our site:
4 Challenges of Muslim Youth in the West, Why Do You Need Good Muslim Friends? Raising Muslim Children in the West, Studying in the West, I Feel Very Uncomfortable, Tainted by the Haram Effects of a Public School
- Try to learn more about the religion in the community around you. Spend more time, if possible, among Muslims. If there is a local masjid or sisters’ group, try to go with your sister and with your mother.
- If there is counseling available for Muslims or for immigrants (refugees), try to seek advice, preferably together with your family and with a Muslim counselor. I believe that this change has affected somehow all of your family, and it would be great if all of you could find some answers to your concerns.
- You and your sister had to leave your home country and adjust to a new environment, and this itself has its challenges. Plus, at this age, it is also very common that you are trying to fit in. So, your sister’s behavior is understandable, and you as a family need to understand that everyone reacts differently to a major life change like this. At the same time, she will need to learn how to protect her Muslim identity in a new, non-Muslim country. There is a balance between integrating into your new place while conserving your traditions. Again, counseling would be a great help in that.
- Try to be a good friend and companion to your sister. I think this bonding is the most important in order to have trust and confidence in each other. Let her know that you are there for her, whatever happens. This will help us listen to each other’s advice. Instead of scolding, rebuking, or correcting her, try to be understanding and compassionate in your approach. Talk a lot about the challenges you face, and be allies to each other. You both go through the same thing, but maybe you cope differently. Here is an article that might help you.
May Allah help you and keep you on the right path.
Please I need some advice
My husband doesn’t let me cover my head if I cover my head, he refuses to go out with me and he drinks every night alcohol I gave up on him please advise what to do
Salam alaikom sister,
Thank you for writing.
You say that your husband does not let you cover your head and refuses to go out with you if you wear hijab. Plus, he drinks alcohol every night.
Well, it seems clear from your brief letter that, Islamically speaking, your husband has gone astray and has some serious issues with his religious commitment. May Allah guide him back to the straight path.
So, my question is: Did something happen in his life (or in your life) that led to this change in behavior? Some negative event that he, unfortunately, responded to by getting away from Allah and trying to get you away too? Is this a sudden change or a gradual one?
When you got married, what were his and your religious commitments?
I am asking these questions because it would be good to know what led him to this attitude or whether he has always been like this since you were married.
If he was always like this, it would be good to know what led you to marry him. Was it a fully voluntary decision, or did you face some pressure, for example, from your family?
Whatever the case, one thing is for sure: your religious and spiritual commitment and your connection with Allah are the first.
A Muslim husband should be the leader of the family, religiously and spiritually speaking, or at least strive to be one by continuously learning about the deen and practicing according to his best abilities.
I am saying this as a counselor, not a scholar, but if a husband is not doing this and even doing the opposite by advising against the command of Allah and clearly committing sins, you can step out of this marriage and not be with someone who lives an unislamic lifestyle and tries to lead you astray also.
If you want to know more about your legal possibilities, please write to the Ask the Scholar section or ask your local imam. Check out these articles from our site: Wearing Hijab: Can My Husband Order Me to Remove It?, Non-Practicing Convert Husband: Should I Divorce Him? Husband Rejects My Hijab: What to Do?, What to Do with Bad-Tempered Drunken Husband?
With this being said, I would advise the following:
- Is there any chance that he can change? Does he show any sign of repentance or remorse for drinking? Is there a crisis in his life that he might be responding to, and he needs guidance about how to cope with it Islamically? Does he suffer from alcohol addiction and, therefore, need professional help? Do you love him enough to support him?
If yes, you need to think about whether you are willing to support him in his recovery after he repents and leaves his sinful behavior behind. If he asks for forgiveness from Allah and gives up drinking and stops preventing you from wearing hijab, you might stay with him, and together you support each other in following the deen. If you love each other and want to be together, I am sure that you can overcome this crisis together.
If no, and there is no chance that he will change, I think, sister, you need to seriously think about what to do with this marriage.
You might talk to him and let him know that he might lose you if he does not change. If he truly loves you, this might make him think about the consequences of his lifestyle before it is too late. You also can tell him that you only have to obey him, as his wife, if his command does not go against the command of Allah. In other words, he should not prevent you from wearing a hijab, even if he is your husband.
And if he is not willing to change, there is nothing wrong if you wish for a husband who is more practicing and fears Allah more. In this case, you might speak with your family or ask for help in your local community about how to move on.
I am not sure whether you have children, whether you work or not, or in general what your possibilities are. I recommend some form of counseling, where you can speak about your situation in detail and get some more specific advice and orientation.
May Allah help you with it.
Friday, Mar. 17, 2023 | 09:00 - 10:00 GMT
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.