Abusive parents in Islam | Fitrah Tawheed

When are parents abusive?

Parents have a huge responsibility in Islam. Their job is to raise their children in the best way. The rights of children must be fulfilled, without any exception.

Unfortunately, not every parent is able to treat their children well. For example, there are parents who abuse children sexually, physically, mentally or emotionally.

Islam is a religion that stands for purity and justice. Children who grow up with abuse will experience great struggle later in life.

Abusive parents curse their children, beat them harshly, neglect them emotionally and violate them sexually. Such parents greatly damage your health, wellbeing, sanity and quality of life. In short, they make your life miserable.

How to deal with abusive parents

Abusive parents suck a lot of energy out of their children. The child often feels tired in the presence of such parents. Because of this, it can be quite a challenge to deal with them on a daily basis.

It is helpful to know that there are really good ways to deal with an abusive parent. These techniques ensure that the child will have the ability to prevent extra burnout, high stress levels and fatigue.

1. Minimize contact

It often is the case that the child automatically tries to reduce contact with his abusive parent. This is an automatic strategy to try to avoid potential damage as much as possible.

It is a challenge to reduce contact with a abusive parents, because you cannot always escape them on a daily basis.

When you notice that your health is declining, it is important that you try to protect yourself from further damage.

Give them short responses and do not try to reach out except in an emergency. If you live with this parent, you try to spend as much time as possible with people who appreciate and respect you. Reach out to friends, other family members, or schoolmates.

Minimizing contact is intended as a temporary solution. This technique is ineffective in the long run because it will tire you out eventually.

2. Study your abusive parent

You can avoid potential problems by studying your parent. For example, find times when this parent is most irritable. At these moments you do not want to be anywhere near.

Perhaps your parent has psychological problems that worsen their behavior. If this is the case, it is important to get an idea of what these psychological problems are and what this parent may have as a disorder.

Many parents who display bad behavior and disrespect their children suffer from personality disorders such as narcissism, borderline or psychopathic tendencies.

For example, if you strongly suspect that your parent is a narcissist, it will not do you any good to keep hoping for a change of their behavior, since narcissism gives no ability for change.

When you find out your parent is the problem, then that may give you some relief. They are the problem, not you.

3. The realization

You eventually reach a point where you can see that your parent has behaved unacceptably. You also let go of the thought and hope that they will change, now that your know what kind of person they are.

If you are completely tired of being mistreated, abused or harmed, then it is time to distance yourself. You reach the point where you understand that what was done to you is unacceptable, and that nothing can make up for it.

You embrace the reality of your abusive parents and start taking steps to distance yourself. From an Islamic perspective, this is your right when you are getting abused. Allah does not require any person to stay in oppression. You have the right to distance yourself from oppressive and abusive parents.

There are boundaries in Islam too, and no parent can cross them. If they are doing you that much damage to the point of a decline in your health, then it is time to step back and protect yourself.

This is one of the most difficult stages in dealing with abusive parents, because here you accept the reality that your parents behaved with hatred and dislike.

Abusive parents claim to love their children, but at the same time their actions show the complete opposite. You start to see that what they were saying all along was a lie to get you to stay longer.

4. Go no contact and walk away

This is the hardest stage in dealing with abusive parents. You accept the reality of your parents and let go of the lie that they love you.

You may choose to cut ties with your abusive parents completely or distance yourself temporarily. Whichever option you choose, this will not be an easy decision to make.

If you live with your parents, you start taking steps to move out. You look at possibilities: living with friends, other family members or on your own.

The ultimate option is to live on your own, as you would then not be dependent on others and can have your own space to heal and process your experience.

It may not always be possible to move out, but you do not give up. You keep looking, because that is always better than staying.

When you are fully committed to moving out, you will find that the process will go more smoothly. It can work against you when you enter this phase without fully being committed to it.

No contact is no contact.

If you are really done with your abusive parent, then what good does it do you if you would reach out to them again? This will only invalidate your hurt and experience after their abuse.

Not everyone should deserve a second chance. A person that abused you greatly to the point you felt disgusted about yourself does not deserve to have you in their life any longer.

Going no contact means blocking their social media, e-mail, telephone number and to move out to another city. You do not deserve to be abused.

Extra tips on dealing with abusive parents

It is and remains difficult to deal with such people. Of course, you want the abuse to stop and to be treated with respect and love by your parents. Unfortunately, that is not always possible with every parent.

Bring some ease into your life by engaging in hobbies, seeking joy and relaxation, or interacting with people who appreciate and respect you.

Make supplications and ask Allah for relief and a way out of your current situation. He will certainly answer you if you do this out of sincere intention.

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: "Beware of the supplication of the oppressed, for there is no veil between them and Allah." [Sahih Bukhari 4347]

It can be helpful to share your experience and situation with someone else who is trusted and able to help you.

In addition, we are available to hear your story and experience. Our counseling service strives to provide you with relief.

Will abusive parents be punished?

Parents have a great responsibility for raising their children. This should be done by fulfilling the rights of the child. Unfortunately, some parents abuse their power by mistreating their children. Such parents have a bad status with Allah.

Parents who mistreat, abuse or oppress their children will receive great humiliation in this life or the next. Allah commands each person to act justly with others. This means that you do not oppress or abuse anyone.

Those who oppress others are among the oppressors. There is no difference between these types of parents and tyrants.

So parents who mistreat their children will be punished. Allah sometimes hastens punishment by depriving them of health, well-being, safety or property.

Allah is Most Just, and He will punish parents who mistreat their children. Anyone who treats others unjustly will be humiliated.

Whoever does good, it is to their own advantage. And whoever does evil, it is to their own loss. Your Lord is never unjust to His creation.
[Surah Fussilat verse 46]

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: "Allah the Almighty said: O My servants, I have forbidden injustice to Myself and I have forbidden it among you, so do not oppress one another." [Sahih Muslim 2577]

Are parents excused for their behaviour?

In Islam, parents play an important role in the family. Unfortunately, there are also parents who are not worthy of any good status, because they are abusive towards others. Islam does not give high status to anyone who oppresses others.

It is a serious sin to wrong children because it can lead to problems like depression, sadness, low self-esteem and the inability to trust others.

Allah does not like the wrongdoers.
[3:140 Quran]

Parents who harshly beat, ignore, scold or insult their children do not deserve high status with Allah. Such parents are cursed and will be punished for their wrongdoing.

And do not think that Allah is unaware of what the oppressors do. He only gives them respite until the Day when the eyes will stare in horror.
[14:42 Quran]

Sa'eed ibn Jubayr (Tabi'i) said: "As for the person who oppresses his son or brother, Allah will not let such a person go unnoticed." [Musnad Ibn Mubarak 178]

De Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Those who will be inhabitants of hellfire are: the miser, the liar, those who are in the habit of abusing people and using obscene and foul language.” [Sahih Muslim 2865a]

Is my anger towards my abusive parents justified?

It is only normal and expected to become angry when someone crosses your boundaries multiple times. This is human and not wrong to feel. The anger is actually healthy and trying to protect your boundaries and sense of self-worth.

In Islam, parents are advised to be gentle and compassionate with their children. Unfortunately, not every parent follows this advice, and they hurt their children emotionally, mentally, physically etc.

Getting angry and resentful towards abusive parents is only expected and justified. It becomes bad if you act upon this by abusing them back. You should do what is right, and that is not to abuse anyone.

Respect yourself and do what is right, protect yourself by leaving abusers and people who are damaging you. Ask Allah to get you out of this abuse, and do not become comfortable with dua without taking steps or action towards safety.

١٥٢ - حَدَّثَنَا الْحُسَيْنُ بْنُ الْحَسَنِ، حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ بَكْرٍ السَّهْمِيُّ، حَدَّثَنِي صَاحِبٌ لَنَا يُكَنَّى أَبَا وَاثِلَةَ , أَنَّ مُعَاوِيَةَ دَخَلَتْهُ مَوْجِدَةٌ عَلَى ابْنِهِ يَزِيدَ فَأَرِقَ لِذَلِكَ لَيْلَتَهُ فَلَمَّا أَصْبَحَ بَعَثَ إِلَى الْأَحْنَفِ بْنِ قَيْسٍ فَأَتَاهُ فَلَمَّا دَخَلَ عَلَيْهِ قَالَ لَهُ: يَا أَبَا بَحْرٍ، كَيْفَ رِضَاكَ عَلَى وَلَدِكَ؟ وَمَا تَقُولُ فِي الْوَلَدِ؟ قَالَ: فَقُلْتُ فِي نَفْسِي: مَا سَأَلَنِي أَمِيرُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ عَنْ هَذِهِ إِلَّا لِمَوْجِدَةٍ دَخَلَتْهُ عَلَى يَزِيدَ فَحَضَرَنِي كَلَامٌ لَوْ كُنْتُ زَوَّقْتُ فِيهِ سَنَةً لَكُنْتُ قَدْ أَجَدْتُ فَقُلْتُ: «يَا أَمِيرَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ هُمْ ثِمَارُ قُلُوبِنَا وَعِمَادُ ظُهُورِنَا وَنَحْنُ لَهُمْ أَرْضٌ ذَلِيلَةٌ وَسَمَاءٌ ظَلِيلَةٌ وَبِهِمْ نَصُولُ إِلَى كُلِّ جَلِيلَةٍ فَإِنْ غَضِبُوا يَا أَمِيرَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ فَأَرْضِهِمْ وَإِنْ طَلَبُوكَ فَأَعْطِهِمْ يُمْحِضُوكَ وُدَّهُمْ وَيَلْطُفُونَ ⦗٣٠٩⦘ جُهْدَهُمْ وَلَا تَكُنْ عَلَيْهِمْ ثَقِلًا لَا تُعْطِيهِمْ إِلَّا نَزْرًا فَيَمَلُّوا حَيَاتَكَ وَيَكْرَهُوا قُرْبَكَ»

Mu'awiyyah was angry with his son Yazid, so Ahnaf ibn Qays advised him: "O leader of the believers, they (children) are the fruits of our hearts and the pillars of our presence, and we are an easy land and a cool air for them, and through them we attain every greatness. When they are angry, forgive them, and if they ask for something from you, give them, for it makes them grateful and gentle towards you. Do not be heavy on them, nor give them just a little, so that they will not begin to resent your life and your nearness." [Al-'Iyal 1/308 from Ibn Abi Dunyah]

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Abu Athari writes about basic principles within Islam. He uses his critical and well-researched way to spread knowledge of the first three Muslim generations.

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