This is a sensitive issue. It is a dilemma to many people: how to deal with difficult parents?
There are two dimensions in this situation.
On the one hand, our Creator, Allah has placed much emphasis on being dutiful to parents under all circumstances, even if they disbelieve in Him. There is an interesting hadith to reflect on…
‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar narrated ‘A man came to the Messenger of Allah asking his permission to go out for Jihad. The Messenger of Allah asked him, “Are your parents alive?” He replied, ‘Yes.’ The Messenger of Allah then said to him, “Then your Jihad would be with them (i.e. in looking after them and being at their service.).” [Agreed upon]
So, this issue is being equated with jihad, the greatest struggle, which means it can be quite challenging, it needs effort and it’s not necessarily easy. If done, however, it could be one of the most highly rewarding deeds one has ever done. The Messenger says: “A parent is the best of the gates of Jannah; so if you wish, keep to the gate, or lose it.” [At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah]
This is what we’re constantly reminded of…
On the other hand, some parents are actually too difficult that they’re causing spiritual and emotional harm to their children. Some parents, unfortunately, are unjust towards their children. It could be hard to find useful tips because you feel like no one understands the gravity of your situation.
For this reason, we bring you here practical tips based on real-life experiences of those who’ve successfully dealt with difficult parents.
A challenging true story
I am going to tell you a true story about a lady I know called Zahra who suffered from both of her parents. Her father remarried and had hardly any involvement in her life, and her mother was difficult and did not like Islam to be practiced in the house. When Zahra decided to become practicing, her mother went out of her way to make things difficult. Her mother intentionally played music around the house, knowing it disturbed her daughter. Zahra’s mother would beat her for attending Islamic circles and was very difficult to be around. Imagine the suffering both spiritually and emotionally that Zahra faced in her home; wanting to be close to Allah , whilst giving the best treatment to her mother.
The reason that I share Zahra’s story with you is that I want the reader to know that this is not generic advice. This is advice from someone who has dealt with difficult parents as a trial from Allah , and who overcame it.
The following are some gems that Zahra taught me that I wish to share with you.
Know that complaining does not solve the problem
Zahra visited an imam to talk about how her father had deserted her and had no involvement in her life. The imam responded simply with one sentence: It is not permitted in Islam to backbite.
It taught her a lesson. Firstly, spreading bad things about anyone, even if it is true is still backbiting. Now if this is the case for a stranger, imagine the gravity of backbiting your parents? Secondly, you are not making any change through complaining. Your situation will not change. There is no reward in complaining, not even emotionally because after venting you feel worse. You haven’t let out your emotions in a way to improve, but rather to victimize yourself and focus on the negative things happening. Let us say your parents are not good to you, they have not taken care of you, but when you expose your parents’ faults, your akhlaq is compromised. You cannot change people around you, but you can change yourself and that’s what Zahra realized was key in changing her situation.
Control your negative inner thoughts
If you have determined your outlook on life on the negative behavior of your parents, it will consume you. You are the one holding your own self backward. Allah will bring you out of your situation when it is time and change doesn’t happen overnight. Whilst your parents may be a source of stress in your life, they remain your door to Jannah, and I guarantee that if you were to sit and make a list of all the blessings that you still have, your list would never end.
Fill your heart with hope, rather than hatred.
Your heart is in need of constant purification. Your heart is full of beautiful things like gratitude, sincerity, love, and hope. Anger is like a hot coal inside a believer’s heart that burns all of those beautiful qualities. Allah gave you tools of sabr and ihsan. Allah gave us examples through prophets who themselves had family problems. Your test of difficult parents will continue, but throughout it, you get ajr, and you can develop your iman through this more than any other practice, and I promise you, when you’re working on your iman, you get true contentment. When you achieve contentment by seeking Allah’s pleasure, I promise you everything changes inside you.
Use silence and kindness
Everyone knows that Allah commanded ihsan in the way that we treat our parents, but we have to remember that the ihsan obligated upon us is unconditional. Sometimes when we become more practicing, we fall into the trap of becoming self-righteous and feeding our ego; we teach others how they are supposed to be treating us. But getting closer to your deen doesn’t mean creating arguments or stating your rights. Getting closer to Allah is supposed to affect your akhlaq above anything else. Arguments never took anyone to jannah.
When Zahra realized her trial was in her akhlaq, she realized that silence and kindness are her solutions.
When her mum played music out loud, Zahra remained silent; She didn’t cause an argument and make herself a victim in this. When Zahra’s mother scolded her for attending Islamic circles, or for anything else, Zahra didn’t answer back. She took it. On top of this, when Zahra’s mum asked for tea, Zahra made some homemade biscuits to serve with it. Zahra would wake up early to clean the house to surprise her mother.
Good character isn’t just about avoiding conflict, it’s about doing kind actions. The same way, iman is not about avoiding major sins and being comfortable with that. It is about making efforts for extra ibadah, for extra good deeds to be the best that you can be.
Allah says that it is “[He] who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed – and He is the Exalted in Might, the Forgiving” [Qur’an: Chapter 67, Verse 2]
Be better than what your nafs is telling you to be, and there will be results.
These results won’t happen overnight but they will happen. People will notice a change in you. People notice kindness. If the Islam that you are showing your parents is one full of confrontation, and division, then how can love or any good come out of it?
Know that Allah’s help is soothing and powerful
Yes, sometimes parents are unjust. Sometimes they oppose someone that we choose for marriage unfairly, or maybe they are just very stubborn, but throughout difficult times our reliance must be on Allah . When we are going through hardship, we are vulnerable to Shaytan because we look for emotional dependency on someone else, who can make us feel better.
But remember, if you want 10/10 from Allah , then you can’t be giving 2/10. Seek comfort in Allah’s pleasure and not in people. Allah wants you to ask Him for help, so ask Him in your sujood, in fajr time, during the last hour of the day on Friday, or the last third of the night…
Make as much dua as you can and pour your heart out to Allah . Dua gives you relief because you know you have given up control of your affairs to your Creator, and you know that He will never be unfair with you.
Do right by Allah and seek to please Him, and things will fall into place. It may not happen today, but it WILL happen.
Success that was never imagined
Patience, good conduct and seeking Allah DO work.
Now Zahra’s mum invites the girls from Zahra’s Islamic circle to her house and makes them tea and coffee because she wants the remembrance of Allah to take place in her home!! The behaviors that Zahra embodied, kindness, and patience, became mirrored in her mother. Her mother became patient and stopped arguing, and started practicing Islam. Defending it, and encouraging others around her to become closer to Allah . As for Zahra’s father, she eventually got to see him and developed a beautiful relationship with him full of dua and barakah.
If you had told Zahra this years ago, she would have laughed at the possibility of her mother ever doing something like this, and at the thought of having a strong relationship with her father. But Allah is indeed the turner of hearts.
Whatever difficulty you are going through, remember that Allah is watching and knows what is going on. Remember that life is short, and there is a possibility that tomorrow your parents will not be around. Your parents may never change, and maybe they will, and maybe they have hurt you a lot, but Allah knows this, and Allah created you capable of strength and patience to get you through difficult times. Never give up.
What other gems you have on dealing with difficult parents? Share with us in the comments below.
The post True Story from Hardship to Ease: How to Deal with Difficult Parents appeared first on ProductiveMuslim.com.