Parents Abuse Me & My Husband for Being Muslim

Question and answer details
J (27-female-UK)
Assalamu Alaykum, may Allah reward your efforts. My husband and I receive terrible abuse and arguments from my non-Muslim parents because they feel my husband has brainwashed me to go to be a Muslim like him and that god is a horrible thing and religion is an evil thing, especially strict Islam. They hate my husband just because if I hadn't met him I wouldn't have become Muslim. They tell me I will be blinded and have acid in my face by English yobs who see me as a white British traitor terrorist lookalike and this has made me paralyzed with fear to go out for many years now. I already suffer from acute mental anxiety, instability and OCD from my youth. I take medication which is very strong. Even I am now pregnant and the doctors told me although it may be risky that I can't manage without them at all. I have had awful arguments with my father and mother and they make life so difficult for us and don't want any extra pressure of having to buy halal meat even for one day a month should we visit. I feel my mum only thinks of herself and doesn't bother to want to see me even as she gets tired having to cook for me and my husband even once a month! My dad swears directly at god looking to the sky and hates what my conversion is doing to him. They show no respect for my adult decision to be what I want and don't accept Islam from over five years now. Now I am too scared to visit them as they will ridicule and try to force me to disobey Allah and eat normal meat and tell me I am stupid and treat my husband so badly, even my sister joins in! I don't need this as I am carrying a baby now and it is making my mental illness fears worse. The other day I collapsed in fear unconscious because I went to the doctor for a scan and I thought I was going to die so I fainted! They try to separate me from loving Islam and even my husband. I explained I will not tolerate this but when I go and visit they turn on us again. This last time my father thought I was going to wear the niqab and he threatened if I did he would kill my husband and we were so scared my husband went out quickly with me and he even had 999 in his phone ready to dial. What can we do as this has been going on for years and he just won't accept anything at all in his heart and he would stop me if he could at all and I’m not sure how far he would go. He is crazy with hate over my decision to be a Muslim; it is the end of his world. Jazak Allah khairan.
Dr. Maryam Bachmeier

Wa alaiykum as salaam dear sister,

problemforcounselingI really do know how painful it is to feel torn between the parents that reared you and that you love with all your heart and a husband with whom you intend to live the rest of your life with especially when you are with child,and you love him very much also.  One very huge problem is that we have cultures that do not understand each other. 

There is hope.  But you will have to be very diplomatic, patient and will be gently teaching your loved ones in a very gentle and subtle way.

Your parents love you deeply.  They are very much afraid for you. They do not know the Islamic culture of your husband.  They fear the worst. And they are also aware of what can happen to you in your own “British” world.  They fear that also.

When most people, whether they are Muslim or another faith, practice their faith because they want to grow spiritually and wish to be closer to Allah, there is unfortunately a dark side in our world, and the expression of religion is being politicized by a very scary but powerful few and the wars and rumors of wars are very real and scary.

Now I want you to stay with me as you read this. I want you to really get in touch with how intensely you feel about your baby. I want you to consider how intensely your husband feels about your baby. Consider how protective you both feel about this child you are carrying.  How powerful this love is. It can be overwhelming.  Now, realize how powerful these same feelings and emotions that your father and mother have about you are. They spent their whole life protecting you the best they could with the skills and tools that they had available to them.  They did everything they knew how to do to position you so that you would live a good life that would be fulfilling to you.

They may have imagined something completely different than what you chose, but their heart was in the right place. Now, they are terrified that you are putting yourself in a situation that is not safe for you.  This is not because you do not have a very wonderful person.  It is because they don’t know any better. They are afraid.  They probably imagined that they would have more secular type  or western cultural experiences with you and your husband, go places where hijab is not allowed in their own community and if your spiritual practice does not allow that, they may be feeling rejected and/or disappointed.

Having a husband to share your spiritual values with is a very rare and beautiful blessing. And you won’t have to give up your practice in order to continue your relationship with your parents.  It would be very sad to see your baby grow up without knowing his/her grandparents.  Allah does not destroy or separate.  Allah is ONE. This means that Allah will bring the correct reparative miracles into your life if you are cooperative and allow His will to pull you toward His guidance, wisdom, and understanding.

So, how can you reconcile this? Address your parents fear and concerns. Invite them to your home and cook for them once a month. If your mother wants to spend some mother daughter time with you, even in a western environment, there is a way to cover that blends in with the western culture while still following the Sharia. The Jordanian Pant suits with matching hijab are beautiful and if you wear that in public, you are likely to get many compliments from western women, yet they are very modest and are compliant with Sharia.

True Islam is spiritual.  You cannot force this on anyone. Don’t expect your parents to embrace something that they do not understand.  Let them grow and develop naturally. Be a good example. Love them.  Bring a set of dishes for your family to your parent’s home, and when they invite you to their home, bring your halal meat.  They will get used to that.  How many western teenagers announce to their parents that they are vegetarian?  The parents usually tolerate it even if they believe their teenager is being silly.  They don’t have to understand it, or convert.  You can teach them to tolerate you and your husband and you can alleviate their fears. Allah is One.  Allah brings souls together. Let him do his work. Forgive your father for he does not realize the nature of his sins when he is angry with God. You did not mention whether or not your parents have another religion.  But if they are Christian, please realize they are afraid that you are going to burn in hell for converting to Islam.  It is not their fault that they have this fear.  Christians and Catholics are taught this from childhood.  If they have this fear, it will be intense, and your father will believe that God let him down by taking you away from him and causing you to not only lose your ability to live a happy life, but to even be “saved” and go to heaven.

Begin the process of increasing trust and understanding between you and your parents by spending daughter mother time. Listen to your mother because she will likely open up and tell you what her fears and what your father’s fears are.  Then, when you have time alone, you can write letters to her and help to alleviate her fears.  This will open the door so that your parents will calm down and be more open to your husband and the lifestyle that you are choosing to live.

If you meet with some sisters who are also British converts in your masjid or Muslim community center, you can ask them to give you examples of how they are able to live as a Muslim in the UK also.  I am sure they have similar experiences with their own families.  Take things slowly, and one day at a time. Get a little distance for a month or two, and just e-mail your mother or talk to her on the phone until you feel better and you can put all of this into perspective.

Once you have established some positive feelings with your mother, then you can share with her how hurt you are about how they treat your husband. You will be able to be kind, but specific about what they are saying to him, or to you in front of him that is upsetting, and ask them to be kind and tolerant.  Just keep your relationship 1X1 with each of your parents and your sister until you feel they will be able to be respectful to your husband. This will ensure that your child is not in a hostile environment.  Don’t be in a hurry for any kind of resolution, and pray often about what approach to use.  Then, as I mentioned, you can invite one person at a time (at first) to your home, where you live according to your chosen lifestyle.

Let things heal over time.  Just keep the lines of communication open and the door to your heart open and don’t severe the ties. You might want to have some 1X1 time with your sister also, and talk to her about how her joining in with the ridicule is hurting you.  It is possible that you can gain her as an alley.

God is with you. Don’t give up. You have a huge responsibility now as a wife and a mother, and this will be your primary focus.  Allah will be your strength.

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About the Counselor:
Dr. Bachmeier is a clinical psychologist who has been working in the mental health field for over 15 years. She is also a published researcher, former adjunct professor at Argosy University, writer, and consultant to her Spiritual community in the areas of mental health, clinical disorders, cultural, family and relationship issues, and more.