Abusive parents in Islam

Her mother is abusive toward her little sisters

assalamu aleikum, since my mother gave birth to her first son she won’t stop demonizing my little sisters, she always shouts at them for the most meaningless things and constantly takes things away from them if my brother wants them. i always defend my sisters, and always remind her her attitude is unworthy of a muslim, what else can i do? because she doesnt seem to realize her behavior will create long term psychological problems in my little sisters

and i also fear that i’m disrespecting her in the eyes of Allah, because the more they grow the more they rely on me as a maternal figure instead of her.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

I am sorry to read about your situation. It is a good thing to try to reduce an abusive person’s bad influence even if they are your parent. You have a duty to your parents and your siblings, and if the abuse is from the parents to your siblings, your duty to your siblings means that it is a good thing if you work reduce their suffering.

For more on dealing with parental abuse please see the articles on this page: Abusive parents in Islam

For more on dealing with such unsolvable situations, please see this essay: The Road to Maturity: On Dealing with Life’s Unsolvable Problems

Best wishes.

Her abusive parents make her feel depressed

Assalamu aleikum, for several years i have been feeling like a burden and a problem to my parents. they never support or show love and admiration for anything me or my sisters do, they’re always scared that we’re going to ruin their reputations and have absolutely zero respect for us, the degrading things they’ve told us would take hours to count. lately this has been weighing on me and my mental health is at my lowest, i have dark suicidal thoughts but i know i’d never have the courage to-

-take my own life. i want to get professional help but feel like they would humiliate me for that too. do you have an advice for me? maybe i should pray more or something. i’m sorry if this is too dark but I've been feeling helpless for a long time

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Sorry to read about your difficult situation. It is natural for such difficult situations to make us wish that we did not exist. Unfortunately there may be no solution except to be patient. Maybe getting professional help will help even if your parents dislike it. When some people make our lives miserable other people can help us feel consoled.

In general we have two options when faced with such situations; either to give in to them and let them defeat us, or we can do our best to keep close to God and to think the best of Him despite feeling lonely, abandoned and unspiritual. This is how we can prove we are extraordinary; to keep our souls above our suffering, not letting it crush us and patiently waiting for God to ease our situation and replace it with something better.

The best people you meet in your life are those who suffered like you do, but who were able to defeat the suffering by keeping close to God and thinking the best of Him. And the some of the worst people you meet are those who suffered and who let their suffering make them dislike God so that they now hold a grudge against Him and reject Him and blame Him for having meaningless and empty lives.

Please check out my three essays below where I discuss how to find meaning in suffering and how to overcome it:

Islam and Depression: A Survival Guide

God has not abandoned you: Regaining your sense of purpose when life feels spiritually empty, lonely and meaningless

The Road to Maturity: On Dealing with Life’s Unsolvable Problems

Best wishes.

On not inviting abusive parents to one’s nikah

My dad has abused me and my mum for years. Is it wrong if I don’t invite him to my nikah

In conflicts with your parents, it is always to try to be the “bigger person”, even if they do not deserve something or are acting unreasonable, it is best to treat them as if they are admirable people. However, it can be permissible to not invite a parent to your wedding if they have done something to deserve this, but this is something that only someone very familiar with your situation can decide.

For more articles on similar topics, please see the page dealing with parents in Islam on my site.

On dealing with anti-Muslim parents and siblings as a convert

I’m a convert and my relationship with my Mother and her husband has been horrible lately. When we meet they only talk about how Islam is evil and I’m in the wrong path. They openly look for anything bad to say, especially about my husband. Recently my younger sister even went through my phone when I was using the restroom. They do not want any good for us and say bad things that happen are God’s punishment in us. It’s very stressful. Is it ok to cut off contact at this point? It’s been years.

Regarding parents that try to turn us away from Islam, the Quran says:

But if they strive to have you associate with Me something of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them. But keep them company in this life, in kindness, and follow the path of him who turns to Me. Then to Me is your return; and I will inform you of what you used to do. (Verse 31:15)

Our default attitude toward our parents and relatives should be one of kindness and forgiveness. However, this does not mean that we should put up with their behavior regardless of how it is. The Quran says in another place:

O you who believe! Do not ally yourselves in close friendship with your parents and your siblings if they prefer disbelief to belief. Whoever of you allies himself with them—these are the wrongdoers. (Verse 9:23)

What I recommend is try to keep up polite relations with them, and if one of them is in need or is sick you should try to be there for them. But you can also tell them that they are not allowed to talk about religion or your husband to you and that if they do that you will cut contact with them until they change their behavior. If they agree to be civilized, then you can continue keeping up with them. And if they break the rule and, for example, email you an article by an Islamophobe, try to forgive and ignore it. But if they break the rule in a major way, inviting you to a dinner with the intent of lecturing you about Islam, you can respond to it as you would respond to any other insult, for example leaving the scene immediately, telling them they should apologize, and avoiding them unless they promise to be well-behaved next time.

But if you avoid them for their misbehavior, you should be willing to make an exception if one of them is in need or ill, if they genuinely need you then it is best to be there for them to the best of your ability.

Best wishes.

Enduring the difficulties of having an abusive mother

So i gave in thinking that maybe she had undrestood herself and that she could not treat me and my sibling like that. Well I was wrong, every time she gets mad she wants me out and calls me crazy and maniac because of my mental illness. She is still bitter because of my father and i don't like it when she brings him and his family in our arguments (when they divorced she used us as a weapon and made dad leave us children because of the problems she was causing problems and manipulated us to hate

him. Anyways few years ago he came back in our live (this was again because of an argument between me and her and for some reason she called dads family) anyways she always calls him names and took it the point where she calls my late grand mom awful names. She made always makes bad duas to me and my sibling and calls my sister fat (she's overweight) and all. Our dad lives overseas so I can't move there. I'm really sick and tired of this and in Islam says that we always have to bare it all with

I appreciate the difficulty of your situation. Do you not have any relatives you could ask for your help or advice? They may be able to help you in some way.

Islam teaches us how to deal with life’s problems, it does not solve them for us. Muslims and non-Muslims both suffer from such problems. Sometimes you just have to endure, to read the Quran and to pray. If you are patient, your difficulties will help build your character and make you a wiser and better person than others of your own age. Some years from now you may be rewarded with a great life for your present difficulties. Prophet Yusuf and Prophet Muhammad both suffered through many difficulties, but eventually God gave them all that they desired. Always remember this sura 93 of the Quran:

1. By the morning light.

2. And the night as it settles.

3. Your Lord did not abandon you, nor did He forget.

4. The Hereafter is better for you than the First.

5. And your Lord will give you, and you will be satisfied.

6. Did He not find you orphaned, and sheltered you?

7. And found you wandering, and guided you?

8. And found you in need, and enriched you?

9. Therefore, do not mistreat the orphan.

10. Nor rebuff the seeker.

11. But proclaim the blessings of your Lord.

Daughter wants to distance herself from her abusive parents

What has made my emaan weaker is that I became traumatisied from a bad childhood. My parents played part in this. Sometimes they used islam against me to manipullate me. Also I wasn't allowed to get help, and my mom labelled my depression as kufr, which made me feel bad and try to suppress the despair . All scholars and everything I've read is about parental rights, and that it is a huge sin (akbar kabair) to cut family ties. I am not an adult and much better but I still want distance from them

Do not let other people’s mistakes affect your relationship with God. Read the Quran as if it was sent down to you personally, and follow its teachings and philosophy wherever you can in your life. If people misuse Islam to attack you, ignore it, knowing that God is better than them.

Regarding cutting family ties, that refers to treating family members as strangers, i.e. permanent estrangement where a child treats their disliked parent as if there is no relationship between them.

If your parents mistreat you, you have the right to keep your distance. What you do not have the right to do is cut off your relationship with them completely. Remain in their lives, help them where necessary, and be dutiful as much as you can, Islam doesn’t ask you to do more than this, it does not ask you to subject yourself to them if they constantly mistreat and humiliate you. Both you and your parents have your human rights, and if they neglect your human rights, they have sinned.

Salam . I'm the one who wrote that I'm traumatized and that I need to distance myself from my parents. I made a typo last time, its supposed to be I am now* an adult. You said that I will still have to stay with them. But I told you I am traumatised and I'm not allowed to get any help. Having PTSD has been beyond hell, and I don't understand why Allah wants me to stay in touch with them. Its easier said than done that my relationship with God shouldn't be affected. Even Quran is triggering

Even when I pray Its a struggle, because It feels like I am giving up to something evil. Being abused through religion is not easy. I won’t cut ties with them permanently, maybe few years until I recover fully and can find myself again. Every sensible person has told me to do it. I don’t understand the reason for keeping in touch with them, I feel as if death is much easier than keeping conntact with people who ruined me

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

At its root, this is a matter of conscience between you and God. Can you in good conscience cut off ties with them for this bad things they have done? Isn’t it a higher ideal, more admirable, more honorable, to be kind and forgiving toward them?

Islam does not ask you to do more than you can bear. If today the pain of contact with them is unbearable, and you decide to avoid contact, then that’s forgivable. But what about tomorrow, or next year? What matters above all is to not harden your heart against people. If you maintain a soft heart, if you are aware of the Quran’s teachings, and you reexamine your decision to avoid contact ever day, and you keep reaching the same conclusion that avoiding contact is best, then perhaps you are right. But there is always also the great danger of being harder on people and less kind than we can be. So you would be walking a fine line.

The reason why God wants us to not cut ties with our relatives is the same reason why God prohibits us from lying. Maintaining relations and telling the truth ensure that society functions well. Cutting ties and lying causes breakdown. In exceptional circumstances one can justify lying, for example to save their lives or the life of someone they love. And in exceptional circumstances, one can justify cutting ties.

So it is part of your social responsibility to tell the truth and to maintain ties. Doing the opposite requires great justification, and it is for this reason that scholars speak strongly against cutting ties. You would be doing something that goes against your social responsibility. Is it justifiable? No one can answer this question except yourself. It is something between you and God. And if it is justifiable today, it may not be next week or next year.

In the West people will simplify your decision for you by saying that you can do whatever you want, since it is how you feel that matters. Social responsibility is something that very few people worry about. So I understand that people will be telling you to do it, to cut ties, since you need it and your parents deserve it. Islam doesn’t say this is necessarily wrong. It however says to take your social responsibility seriously.

Reply from a reader:

I thought you were more rational but when you told that anon to accept to stay with her parents although she clarified that she's traumatisized you're not so far from the salaf you condemn. How far do we have to go with social responsibility? Isn't emotional trauma enough? Or sexual trauma? What about a woman who's abused by her husband? Does she have to have a social responsibility to stay? How do we make sure that children can grow up functioning with the idea of social responsibility?

If you read the answer again you will see that I did not tell her to stay with her parents, but to make up her own mind. You have your own human rights, and you have social responsibility. The two concerns must be balanced. You shouldn’t let people abuse you, but you shouldn’t neglect your responsibilities toward them either.

People, using their intellect and conscience, and guided by the Quran’s moral philosophy, can decide what is the best course of action in each situation.

The idea of social responsibility simply means that one shouldn’t selfishly focus on their own rights to the exclusion of other people’s rights. “Don’t be selfish” is something that all good parents teach their children. But they should also teach them to resist abuse and injustice.

Dealing with abusive parents in Islam

What has made my emaan weaker is that I became traumatisied from a bad childhood. My parents played part in this. Sometimes they used islam against me to manipullate me. Also I wasn't allowed to get help, and my mom labelled my depression as kufr, which made me feel bad and try to suppress the despair . All scholars and everything I've read is about parental rights, and that it is a huge sin (akbar kabair) to cut family ties. I am not an adult and much better but I still want distance from them

Do not let other people’s mistakes affect your relationship with God. Read the Quran as if it was sent down to you personally, and follow its teachings and philosophy wherever you can in your life. If people misuse Islam to attack you, ignore it, knowing that God is better than them.

Regarding cutting family ties, that refers to treating family members as strangers, i.e. permanent estrangement where a child treats their disliked parent as if there is no relationship between them.

If your parents mistreat you, you have the right to keep your distance. What you do not have the right to do is cut off your relationship with them completely. Remain in their lives, help them where necessary, and be dutiful as much as you can, Islam doesn’t ask you to do more than this, it does not ask you to subject yourself to them if they constantly mistreat and humiliate you. Both you and your parents have your human rights, and if they neglect your human rights, they have sinned.