Questions

Q:

How to deal with inner pain, hatred towards family who mistreated me during childhood?

A:

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh sister,

As you are aware, mistreatment for whatever reason in childhood has lasting effects right into adulthood. In fact, much of what we experience in childhood can have a major impact on the lives we live as adults.

Whilst this can be a positive thing if raised in an ideal and stable environment, it often isn’t this way for many reasons. Our experiences in childhood shape who we become in adulthood. Such impact can be difficult to break free from since it has become so engrained and present in one’s life for such a long time. It is difficult, but it is also possible and there a few ways to proceed.

The first thing is to seek counseling to try and deal with these ongoing issues. Counseling will give the opportunity to receive ongoing support in finding ways to overcome your pain and will make it easier for you to break free from this and move forward, in sha Allah.

Another couple of options you might try if you feel comfortable to relate to your current relationships with your family. This comes in the form of building bridges again and forgiveness.

Your family mistreated you in childhood which is not acceptable. Perhaps in the meantime, they suffered from the guilt of realising their poor behaviour and now is the time for you all to get together and rebuild broken relationships again.

If there is someone in your family that you do still have a good relationship with, or at least are more comfortable with then you knight approach them as a bridge to the rest of your family. It might be that you request that they join you in counselling to give you space to openly known how their behaviour had affected you.

Perhaps all this while they were not aware of just how much their behaviour was hurting you so in a counselling setting it will be a lot easier for you to talk openly about your feelings. If counselling is not an option then this could be done with a mutual third party who would not take sides.

Your local imam might be a good person who can do this for you as he will also be able to advise from the Islamic perspective too. To rebuild bridges like this can take a very long time and can come with many set backs along the way, but if successful it will help you to heal from your past and rebuild a more healthy and happy life.

As part of this, despite their wrongdoing, you can try to forgive them. Again, this can be tough when they have caused you so much pain, but to forgive others softens the heart and can relieve a large amount of burden carried by you for what has happened in the past. To forgive them allows you to let go of the pain that keeps you weighed down for now.

To forgive them will also make it easier for you to approach them and rebuild relations as mentioned previously. It can sometimes help to look for excuses for their behaviour too.

Perhaps they didn’t mean to cause you so much pain, perhaps they didn’t realize it was so painful or they would have stopped, perhaps they were taking something out on you and you were the one that was victimized for some reason or other, not for any particular reason, but because you are a member of the family and someone they are in contact with all the time so became the easy target.

To consider these things by no means makes their behavior acceptable, but to see the situation from an alternative perspective allows you to understand their potential ‘whys’ and realize that it was nothing personal against you. Thinking of it from this perspective alone could at least free you someone from the pain.

If neither of these things goes well you can at least experience a sense of relief that you did what you could to move on and you were prepared to forgive them despite their wrongdoings. To know that you tried your best should give you some sense of peace in the situation.

Aside from your relationships with your family, there are other things you can do to deal with the pain. Make sure that you have healthy relationships with other people in order that you can get the social comfort that you would otherwise get from your family.

This can serve as a buffer against the pain you are experiencing as it provides you with the opportunity to have what everyone needs, only from alternative sources. Whether you are able to fix things with your family or not, to have a strong social circle will be of great benefit for you in overcoming the pain.

Finally, the best thing you can do along side the above suggestions is to turn to Allah both generally and specifically with the matter relating to your family. Getting close to Him and turning to Him during such times of distress will bring comfort into your heart and ease your pain.

May Allah guide your family on the straight path and may He bring you ease from your pain.


Q:

As a mother of little kids, how to deal with feeling depressed and isolated during Ramadan?

A:

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh sister,

This is a situation that more people are in than usual given the current situation globally determines that we live a more isolated life than normal, unable to even see our families.

What makes it particularly difficult at this time is that Ramadan is usually a time of getting together with family and friends, yet this year it is not possible to do this. However, there are many ways to ease such feelings and make Ramadan as joyous as possible, especially for the children.

Although not ideal, you can still maintain regular contact with friends and family, only via virtual means. Check-in with them regularly.

Allow your children to talk to any family members or even friends of they have any. Make this contact via video calls where possible too to make it as close to seeing them in person as possible also.

You can even have group calls between the family too, and facilitate doing some of the fun things that you might have usually done during Ramadan.

If your local masjid has a group for sisters that they might have started due to the current situation, then actively engage with this. Or, if there is no such thing, you might consider starting the same yourself.

This will help to maintain bonds that are otherwise absent at this time. It will also be a place for you all to support each other at a time where most likely you are not the only one feeling this way in your community.

You can organize to do things together online, have meetings, classes, and just general get-togethers in an online space. Something might also be organized for the children of the parents too, perhaps some kind of quiz or activity that can be conducted in an online format.

Keep yourselves busy so that you don’t feel the effects of the isolation so hard. When you can’t get out and see people it can’t become lonely stuck at home all day even with your children at home too. Fill these gaps with useful activities.

You now have more time on your hands to really get stuck into things that perhaps you wouldn’t have otherwise been able to. Spend more time reading the Quran and watching Islamic lectures. Use this time to your advantage.

Do the same for your children too. Keep them busy in fun activities too. To see them happy will also grant a sense of happiness in yourself too. Children love hands-on activities so keep them busy in creativity, particularly things related to Ramadan and learning about it. Have them help you out in the kitchen preparing food for iftar.

Let them do the things that children love to do that are safe for them to help with such as mixing, rolling and cutting dough. It may get messy and they may go off task, but they will have fun and you will enjoy seeing them happy.

May Allah bring you ease at this difficult time and may He grant you and your children all the blessings and bounties of this blessed month.

Q:


I am fourteen years old. My father is away from the country for work, so I currently live with my 2 sisters and my mother. I live in a private plot, there is a small fence separating us from my
father’s parents and his deceased brother’s son (cousin in question) and daughter.

Basically they have this sort of relationship with us where my 2 cousins can enter the house without knocking.

I am not close to any of my extended family at all, since I’ve lived most of my life in Ireland, and have only spent a few months living here, as well as one time I lived here from 2016-2017.

The few times I’ve confided in my close aged female cousins are times I’ve regretted since they turned out to be bad people and rejectors of Islam.

My male cousin who lives across from me used to pin me down on my bed when I was eleven. I knew that kind of stuff was sexual assault but I thought since my cousin was only ten and he has some sort of intellectual mental disability he was just having fun. I did push him off but he kept doing it.

Now, he is thirteen and I don’t think there are a lot of excuses for his behaviour anymore. He doesn’t pin me on my bed anymore but does other really horrible things. Like once I was lying on my mother’s bed with my laptop and he came behind me and put his hands on my hip. He keeps calling me good looking and sometimes he corners me into walls.

I know that my cousin is not supposed to even talk to me in Islam, but when I told my mother she brushed me off. I try to tell him to go away but I am very passive as he is retarted in
some way so I don’t want to offend him.


How can I tell him to stop while not hurting his feelings? I don’t like making others embarrassed. And my mother will be mad if I just walk away from him.

Wa alaikum salaam wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh sister,

A:

You are correct that the behaviour of your cousin is completely inappropriate and unacceptable. However, you also mention that he has an intellectual disability which makes the situation a bit more complicated.

If he did not have the disability then at this age, he is fully accountable for his actions and something firm would need to be said and done to ensure it stops.

Islamic ally there is some leeway when it comes to intellectual disabilities in that to some extent they will not be held accountable in the same way that someone without an intellectual disability would.

However, that said, that does not make his behavior acceptable and he needs to be made aware of the same. The difference being in the way the matter is approached. Just because he has a disability it does not mean that he should just be let off. If he is let off and allowed to continue, he won’t know that this behavior is not OK and could end up getting into big trouble should he try and do the same to someone else outside who doesn’t know him.

This is why it is important for you to speak up to avoid this happening. The difficulty comes in trying to approach it in a way that is comfortable for you, but that will also get the message across to him.

Of course, you don’t want to offend him and you fear that walking away from him or telling him to go away when he’s doing these things will cause him some upset and embarrassment and will also make your mother upset too.

However, if you don’t find a way to put an end to it, he won’t stop. You might take a more gentle approach to start with and if it doesn’t work then move on to more firm measures. Instead of just telling him to go away or walking away from him explain to him why you are saying this. Tell him you want to be alone.

Perhaps just telling him to go away without any explanation is leaving him confused about your reasons for pushing him away. Given his intellectual disability perhaps he needs for you to be more explicit so he can understand your reasons.

If he continues, then you might be more open regarding the reasons why he should not touch you like that.

That it’s not appropriate to touch anyone like that out of wedlock and you simply don’t like it! If this does not work, of as well as taking these measures you might look into anyone else in your household who you could talk to and who could talk to him.

If there is someone older in the house who he more likely to listen to then they might be the ideal person to address him about his behaviour.

Try talking to your mother again and explain how much it’s bothering and hurting you. Perhaps she doesn’t understand the extent to which it is bothersome to you. If she can’t talk to him herself then she might know someone who could, someone who he would be most likely to listen to.

Perhaps now might be a good time to get to know your extended family too. It is good to build such relationships anyway, but they will also be good people to turn to now and in the future should you need support at times like you are facing now with your cousin.

Another thing you can do for a short while until this stops is to avoid being in places where you are alone where he would usually do these things. This way perhaps he will be deterred from doing what he does, or otherwise, other people will be able to see what he’s doing and be more likely to speak out and support you in getting him to stop.  

This might not be ideal for you and takes away your privacy somewhat, but hopefully after a short, while this will pave the way to the end of his behavior and will allow you to get your space back again without fear of him coming into your space without your consent.

May Allah ease your situation and free you from your current difficulties.


Q:

As-salamu Aleykum Counselor, I’m a father of two children 12 years (girl) and 14 years (boy), I have a concern about my son. He spends too much time in front of the mirror more than his sister. Frankly, I’m worried that his behavior is female-like than male.

A:

Wa alaikum salaam wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh brother,

The first thing I’d query in this situation is whether he is engaged in any other behaviour that is a cause for concern, or is it it just the time spent looking in the mirror? If his only behaviour of concern is looking in the mirror for extended periods of time then perhaps this behaviour could simply be attributed to his age.

He will be going through a lot of changes in his appearance so will be curious to see how he looks and his he is changing.

Adolescents of this age become quite concerned about their appearance so will frequently look in the mirror as a result. Since his sister does not do the same it would appear that he is doing more so than a girl, however, perhaps she hasn’t quite hit that stage yet, but will do in the months and years to come and her time spent looking in the mirror will overtake his.

However, if it is not the case that his looking in the mirror is your only concern then perhaps you do need to take action depending on what his other behaviours of concern are.

Of the behaviours that you feel are more typical of a female, are they also those that could be attributable to his age? For example, paying attention to his hygiene and skin care, dressing nicely and generally being concerned about his appearance.. Etc.? These might come across as quite feminine, but are also typical amoungst both boys and girls during adolescence for the same reason as spending extended time looking in the mirror.

As a result such behaviours are not likely a cause for concern. If it is that his behaviour is more extreme in that he is dressing more femininely, or even like a girl then this really is a cause for concern as this is not even acceptable from an Islamic perspective. Whether this is or is not the case there are some things you can do to try and nip this in the bud before it becomes a bigger problem.

If he is outwardly doing things that imitate women then you can address this from an Islamic perspective with him. At this age he may just be curious, but he also needs to know sooner rather than later that imitating women is not OK for boys and men. He may not be aware of this at this age so needs to be educated, ideally by you as his father, on this matter.

Encourage him to get involved in alternative activities that are acceptable for boys and men to take part in. Beyond just encouraging the same, do these things together.

This way he will get to look to use as a male role model to see what is an appropriate way to behave as a man. It will also strengthen bonds between you and make it easier for you to talk to him about your concerns, but also for him to feel comfortable to turn to you with any questions he might have at this point.

At this stage in his life he will have lots of questions. If he had a strong male role model to turn to then he can ask questions before turning to other things that might otherwise be inappropriate for a boy.

Make sure he has good friends. Look to the people he hangs around with. Are they behaving in this way also, beyond what might be seen in boys of this age? Or is their behaviour out of the ordinary as well? If he has good friends from good families then at least you can be reassured that any inappropriate behaviour is not being reinforced by the people he spends time with.

With a strong role model in you and good friends by his side, in sha Allah he’ll be protected from going astray.

May Allah guide your son on the straight path and may He guide you in supporting him along the way. May make your son the coolness of your eyes and pillar of the Muslim community.

Thursday, Jan. 01, 1970 | 00:00 - 00:00 GMT

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