Letters to the Editor
A Spoilt Sister
N. K., via email
I am a 15 year old girl and I’m very disturbed by so many of the things that are happening to me. Sometimes I feel like Allah doesn’t care at all.
In this age, quite a few changes are taking place in women. Release of newer kinds of hormones leads to change in the pace of physical growth, brings on mental maturity, and heightens spiritual cognition.
Girls feel very uncomfortable during this phase. They are irritable, sensitive, unsure, and emotionally imbalanced during this stage, lasting a couple of years. A mother’s special attention at this point of life greatly facilitates the slide from girlhood to womanhood.
Every woman has to pass through this phase, and, therefore, you need not feel very uncomfortable, or frustrated. Matters will soon settle down and normalcy will prevail. Keep heart.
Q. My mom is a single mother. She is the greatest treasure of my life. She is the most loving, caring, affectionate, understanding and perfect mother in the world. Maybe sometimes she is a little too nice, which is bad because people like my sister take advantage of it. My sister is seriously so hard-hearted and self-addicted, that sometimes I wonder if she has ever cried for anyone other than herself. She treats my mother like toilet paper. I hate it. I hate seeing tears in my mother’s eyes all the time. I hate seeing her crying herself to sleep, crying in the kitchen, crying in her prayer. I console her and my tears don’t stop too. But other than that, I can’t do anything. I want to be able to do something. I don’t want to lose her because of that selfish pig. I have managed to develop a strong dislike for my sister because of the way she treats mom. She has no love and no respect for her. But she being the eldest daughter, my mom loves her a lot and I’ve seen her continuously forgive her for everything in spite of the fact that she has never even bothered to say sorry! The only other sibling I have is a brother but he’s just 10 and he’s scared of her too. I’m the younger one here and every time I try stop her from hurting mom, I get a “you’re younger to me, you have no right, go away” from her. This has been going on from a very long time. I’m scared for my mom. I’m scared she’ll get some brain disorder (Allah forbid). I’m very scared of losing her. That would make my life a nightmare: Please tell me what to do.
Truly speaking, we see little scope of action for you because you are younger and still in your teens.
With regard to your sister, your description points to the fact that she is definitely not normal. There can be several possibilities.
(a) Having been bestowed too much attention by your mother, she has run into the assumption that she is a special person, with special qualities and hence deserving a special place in the little family. She thinks that to be treated with special attention is her natural right.
On her part, your mother would have thought that since “love conquers all”, her bestowal of all her attention to her daughter will lead the daughter too, to loving her and treating her in the same manner as she treats her. The fact that mere love – by one or both parents – is not a sufficient tool with which a personality can be led to healthy growth, but which indeed, can become a retarding factor, has not occurred to her. She relied on one factor, love, and so did not teach her daughter, discipline, sense of responsibility towards others, the right sort of reciprocation to the benefits she receives, etc.
As a solution your sister might now be re-educated, of course on Islamic lines. But this is far easier to say than executed.
(b) Alternatively, it is possible that your sister did not receive sufficient attention from the father, to whom she might been greatly attached. This has deeply gnawed through her personality. If the father has died, then the shocking effect lasts right up to this age. But, if separation has taken place between her parents, then she might have concluded – rightly or wrongly – that your mother is responsible for the separation – and so carries a deeply hidden grudge against her. The bestowal of love, therefore, by your mother, has no effect on her.
(c) Whatever the cause, your sister might have developed grandeur type of delusion in which one considers oneself as perfect, assuming about others that they are either blind or prejudiced against her to perceive his or her greatness. Or, she might have developed one or the other of the Border Line Personality Disorders.
Whatever the case, and whatever the causes, she deserves to consult a religious scholar with a good understanding of human psychology. She will have to enter into a kind of “bay`ah”; promising to follow his every instruction, whether she likes it or not. If the scholar is truly well-educated, he will dig out the cause and, adopting a step by step procedure, bring about changes in her mind and soul, gradually, over several years.
However, such scholars are few in our times. Therefore, she needs to consult a Muslim psychiatrist/psychologist with good religious background. He will identify the right causes and lead her on to recovery through right type of counseling and medication (if necessary). If you fail to find a Muslim psychologist, since they too are so few, you may consult a non-Muslim psychologist, since all that he lacks is an understanding of the Muslim mind and culture.
A precaution is absolutely necessary. Her case should not be made public. No one should know that she has any disorder and is visiting a counselor/psychiatrist. The counseling etc., has to be strictly kept secret. Most patients of this class do not co-operate because of the fear of stigma, and therefore, refuse to accept that their behavior is abnormal. They build up a case to justify their abnormal behavior attributing other causes, or identifying others as responsible for their behavior.
Now, since it will be hard for you to accomplish the task of taking your sister for consultation, you must look for a psychologist, or psychiatrist, or family consultant, or even a child-psychologist, that is, someone who knows the basics of psychology. You may even speak to one of the doctors in your family since, psychological disorders becoming common, every doctor is either trained or learns to recognize psychological disorders. Invite him home for a chat with your sister and others. He will make his quiet inquiry and let you know whether a consultant is absolutely necessary, or whether the disorder can be got over by resorting to other ways.
As for yourself, you should form no final opinion about your sister’s condition. You should wait for an expert’s opinion. We cannot form an opinion without sufficient inquiry by a specialist.
It is equally possible that your sister receives some kind of shock in her personal life, sometime in future, and gradually reverts to being normal, having realized her error, and, therefore, attempting at a reversion. Although, we may point out, such cases are too few for reliance.
M. Zahid, via email
What should we do so that ALLAH listens to our dua?
Let us hear from Ibrahim b. Adhum about why supplications are not answered. When inquired, he answered,
You have known Allah but did not obey Him.
You have known the Prophet (saws) but did not follow his sunnah.
You have understood the Qur’an but have not lived by it.
You have devoured the blessings of God but did not thank Him.
You have known Paradise but have not sought it.
You have known the Fire, but did not try to avoid it.
You have known Satan but have not declared a war against him, rather, you befriended him.
You have known death but have not prepared for it.
You buried the dead but did not draw lessons from it.
And, you forgot your own defects and have busied yourselves with the defects of the others.”
(So how can your prayers be answered)?!”
What is ishtikara?
It is to seek a pointer or indicator from Allah, by a believer, in an affair about which he is unsure – despite having consulted people experienced in that particular field, who are also unable to guide him to proper course – and so, is divided between one course or the other. A few other additional conditions are that (a) the affair in which the indicator is sought, does not defy any Islamic law or prohibition, (b) is not of a purely worldly nature (such as, “should I open a sports shop or a grocery store?”), or (c) for someone [who does not spend in the way of Allah] to resort to istikhara over the issue: “should I change my job for a better-salaried one, since, with the additional income, I will be in a better position to spend in the way of Allah.
The above three are simple examples, otherwise there can be dozens of affairs in which resorting to istikhara will yield no results.
Tariq Rather, via email
I have been reading your magazine from last ten years. Occasionally, I remain out of touch because of its unavailability at several places. Today, I am in Leh Ladhak, and I became very happy to see YMD also selling here. I believe you are doing a commendable job. Keep it up for Allah’s sake. Although there are many people offering Islamic services in their own way, but we hardly find people and organizations with broadmindedness, vision and accepting personalities which don’t belong to their school of thought. Your broadmindedness is serving a great cause. People are ready to listen non-believers like Mahesh Bhats or Sonia Gandhi’s comments and lectures in their own rallies but hardly they will tolerate a believer not belonging to their school of thought. I pray, almighty may reward you better in the hereafter.
I have some questions. Kindly answer. Hope you will not refer to any other place or individuals for guidance and confirmation.
We had a guy (21 years old) in my village who was very much interested to go for Islamic studies in any madrasa, although his parents were not ready because of financial constraint and also because parents in villages don’t want to send their wards outside home for studies. We persuaded the guy’s parents and promised to pay whatever the guy needs during his studies. We send him to U.P for Islamic studies in a madrasa. The guy’s parents are in no way deserving to be given Zakat at home. However it is not possible for them to bear the expenditures of their ward now to meet out his requirements and different expenditures in a madrasa. Is it allowed to send the student the Zakat money?
To expend Zakah amount on someone who cannot afford to obtain Islamic education because of financial constraints is one the best ways of expending it.
Is it right to pay income tax from the interest gained from the money kept in a bank?
The interest money earned from funds kept in the banks, is not the property of the depositor. Since the interest money is not his, he cannot use it for any purpose except to give it away in the way of Allah, with no hopes of reward, but with the doubt of being questioned, and hence, with a repentant heart.
Our office in Leh is located in an isolated place, 30 km away from the city where there is no Masjid for Friday prayers. For Friday prayers, we have to remain absent from the duty. However, I don’t feel satisfied to remain absent on every Friday as there are around 50 Fridays in a year. We had office vehicle which carries employees to the station. But it is not possible to use that vehicle for this purpose. I request you to guide 15 Muslim employees (out of 30 total employees). What is the better way today?
If the authorities do not mind your absence from the job on every Friday, will not penalize you, nor put it in your records, then you may as well be absent from your job to attend Friday Prayers, even if it happens 52 times in a year.
Alternatively, you may be absent only for about 4 hours on Fridays, under the same conditions as above.
A third way out would be to be absent on Friday altogether but attend to work on Saturday, once again if that is acceptable to the authorities.
With regard to the use of “Company vehicle”, it is up to the authorities to decide. If they do not object, you may use. If they ask for a nominal fee, you may pay.
The permission obtained from the authorities to attend Friday Prayers, you could arrange a weekly taxi also for transport.
But, if none of the above works, i.e., no leave, no time out, no official vehicle, no taxi, then you remain absolved of the obligation of Friday Prayers and will earn no sin for not offering them.
Can a husband in a sunni-Hanafi family, stop his wife from contacting her own siblings? The husband has put a clause that if the wife speaks or communicates with her own siblings in any way, it would break their marriage; i.e., he will pronounce Talaaq. The wife now is not speaking to any of her siblings, she is afraid that just speaking to them (even in his absence) will break her marriage. Please let me know if a husband can put such a restriction on his wife? The husband is slightly mentally ill, (junooni).
Zak, via email
A mentally deranged man’s pronouncement of Talaq has no legal worth. His pronouncements with regard to conditions he places for divorce to occur are also of no legal value.
In fact, his condition that a mother may not speak to her children is a sign of his mental illness. He may be referred to a psychiatrist immediately.
We are the readers of your magazine. I am studying in inter II. I am not finding any solution to my problem and so I am hoping that you may solve it.
My father (43 years) and my father’s brother (my Uncle -aged 40 years) were very close and shared their problems with each other. But because of some mediators recently there was a big quarrel between the two.
I used to live with my uncle’s family who were living in the house of my grandparents (in Kurnool). My parents live in a village (Banaganapalli). They often visit my uncle’s house (which belongs to our grandparents). But one night (at 12.50 am) my father and my uncle began to discuss my auntie’s behavior.
In a fit of anger, my uncle asked my father “what are you giving me, as I am feeding your children and your parents”. My father became angry and told my uncle to leave the house as he was living in the house since 10 years and my father is living in the village by paying rent. Then my father told my uncle “I will beat you.” Actually he is not of this kind and did not say it from his heart, but my uncle really left the house the next day.
Still some mediators are separating them. But I want to make them live together happily and share the property satisfactorily because they are only two sons to my grandparents. Please advise.
S. Farhana, via email
Your uncle did the right thing by moving out of the house. Whatever reason your father had for saying such a hard thing as “I’ll beat you,” the words challenged the sense of honor of your uncle. Had he lived on, he would have to hear much worse things. He could even experience assault. Therefore, a gentlemanly exit from the house was the best option.
It is possible that your uncle was in a materially advantageous position by living in your grandparent’s house. But, in return, he and his family’s presence were providing a solid emotional prop to your grandparents. Emotional service is of much greater value than material service.
Your father should be sorry that he (a) failed to recognize, acknowledge and thank his brother, (b) abused his brother, (c) threatened violence, (c) separated his brother from his parents and (d) caused great anguish to his parents who have to suffer this mental torture in their final years.
Your father should, if he is truly sorry, announce his regret in public, seek the forgiveness of his parents (who come first), promise them corrective measures, and, finally, take a senior witness along, go the brother, and seek his forgiveness. His action will demonstrate whether he is truly sorry or not.
Obviously, you cannot convey this to him. You need to find someone else for it.
On the other hand, your uncle threw to dust his past services by reminding that he has been supporting the grandparents and niece. This is “mann” in Arabic, (ihsan jatlaanaa in Urdu), strongly prohibited in Islam. He too should, therefore, openly pronounce his regret and seek forgiveness from his parents.
As for the “mediators” many of them play mischievous roles without knowing that they are doing so. They should consult a leading scholar of the area to find out how they can make a constructive contribution, instead of taking sides. Yet, it may be acknowledged that your father and brother are pretty matured persons, and instead of listening to others, should sort out the issue between themselves.
Is eyebrow trimming haram, and can we do bleach or facial or can we use all types of cosmetics?
Ruqhya Sulthana, via email
If you are married and your husband is either desirable that you do these things, or does not object, and supports you with finance for such things, then there should be no objection to your trimming, bleaching and use of cosmetics.
But, if you are unmarried, then, for whom is it that you want to do these things? Obviously, it is not for your parents, brothers and sisters. It has to be for your female friends (since as a Muslimah you wear hijab and niqab). But, why should a girl go to such extents for the pleasure of her female friends?
The Power of Sex
Is there any SIN in falling in love in spite of knowing that the person can’t be yours at any point of your life?
Rubina Khanam, via email
Falling in love is an uncontrollable act of the heart, mind and soul. Therefore, everyone keeps falling in love with everything. Someone falls in love with an idea, another with an ideology, a third with a beautiful country, a fourth with his profession, a fifth with music, and so on.
The youth’s greatest need is sex. It is such a powerful urge that they spend a lot of time thinking of it, talking of it, and discussing it. To them, sex comes before food. In this age, they are ready to fall in love with almost anyone. So that, someone of the middle-class family, for example, can fall in love with a sweeper in the street if he or she has sexually appealing physical features. If this condition is met, then, the social status of the person, his or her culture, family background, level of education, attitude to religion, ability to earn, and holding of proper views on life, etc., are not given any importance. In fact, they are not visible – even if defective. Women are known to have fallen in love with proven criminals. They are also known for having fallen in love with convicted criminals in prisons, having visited the prison and been exposed to the caged criminal. Such is the power of sex.
In view of the irresistible force, it is quite natural that human beings should keep falling in love with each other, until the crave for sex subsides. And, therefore, they cannot be blamed for falling in love. They can only be blamed for being in such social situations which offer opportunities for exposure. Therefore, Islam insists on segregation of the sexes, covering of the face by women where segregation is not possible (such as in the market-place), and early marriages.