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Right vs. wrong: How to deal when it comes to family

Guidance is only from Allah ﷻ; to be a recipient of this mercy is the greatest blessing one could ask for, and it’s an even greater blessing to have the happiness of having your loved ones showered with it!

However, a difference in beliefs amongst family members is not uncommon either. While you may be a Muslim, you may have members in your family who disbelieve, sin, innovate in religion, commit shirk or follow Madh-habs different from yours. This difference in Aqeedah could cause restlessness in you, and perhaps even in them, since both the parties think their belief is correct and want the other to be on the right path too. So, how do you deal with such matters?

Normally, preaching to strangers is not very difficult, but when you have to preach to your loved ones, it’s a real task! There are expectations, love and years of togetherness. You don’t want to taint something you cherish. There are a thousand what-ifs running through your mind: what if I speak too much? What if they misunderstand me? What if they avoid me or find me tiresome? Besides, finding the right balance could be tricky! So, here’s how you can go about it.

Your action

You are speaking to your family. You may know them well enough, but don’t hurry in preaching. Take time. Listen. Understand. Let them know that you care despite your differences, and let them know that you respect them above all. 

  • Listen

And while you listen, be completely involved. Don’t just respond with words; let your whole body prove that you are listening- face them, make eye contact and lean towards them with interest.

Also, allow them to speak- why do they believe in so and so? How did it arise? Why not believe in the Qur’an and Sunnah? As much as you find their beliefs irrational, don’t belittle them as a person. Understand their reasons and where they come from.

  • Audience

Assess the kind of person you are talking to. Are they stubborn, indifferent or willing to listen? If they’re willing to listen, it’s good! If they’re indifferent, try to involve them with something you know will interest them, use their logic, or approach the discussion from an emotional perspective.

Stubborn ones can be difficult to deal with. They may outright refuse to accept or agree with you. So, be gentle. For instance, tell them it’s okay if they disagree, but ask them if it’s okay if you tried another point. If you’re soft and considerate, they may agree to lend you an ear.

Tip: Always recite the du’aa of Musa عليه السلام before you start:

  • Find the root of the problem

Everyone’s led a different life. One doesn’t know what the other has experienced. So, find the reasons for their deviation and work on straightening them. Don’t simply band-aid the injury; repair it.

  • Timing

There’s a time and place for everything. Read the situation. Just because they are your family, don’t take them for granted. Respect them. Talk to them in private or when the atmosphere is open for discussion of such fragile matters.

You know them closely, and you know how their mood works. So, you can always figure the right time to approach them. Seize such moments!

On the other hand, if the timing is wrong, while you attempt to take two steps forward, you could end up taking four steps backwards.

  • Subtlety

If you don’t want your cousin to enter a room and drift into a U-turn, fast-walking her way out, seeing you in there- don’t bore her. Sticking information on your audience’s face constantly, or simply narrating evidence from the Qur’an and Sunnah could repel them further from the truth. So, take baby steps. Don’t drag them to your path. Occasionally, leave crumbs of evidence for them to find their own way with the help of Allah ﷻ.

“The Prophet used to take care of us in preaching by selecting a suitable time, so that we might not get bored. (He abstained from pestering us with sermons and knowledge all the time).”

[ Sahih al-Bukhari; Vol. 1, Book 3, Hadith 68]
  • You

Your family sees you all the time. They are the ones who notice you. So, give them something positive. Set the example of what you preach. Everyone wants a pleasant after-life, so they do want to follow the truth. Communicate beyond words. Mould yourself into your best version with an Islamic character. Soften your speech; be compassionate, gentle and kind; check that tone and double-check that attitude. Don’t give them reasons to turn away. The pleasantness of your personality may be a convincing factor in persuading them.

Your reaction

Living in a family with diverse beliefs means preaching happens both ways. Not everyone is considerate. While you may have members approaching you with wisdom and gentleness, you may have some who snicker at the way you pray or worship differently, too. There are three possible ways you could react to such negativity.

  1. While this negativity usually never bothers you, it hurts you deeply when it comes from someone you love. To prevent a repetition of this, you may tend to hide from such family members during your acts of Ibadah, ignore them, or change the topic of discussion when they mockingly question your faith.
  2. You answer their negativity with negativity. If they snicker at your Ibadah, you laugh at their beliefs. This is wrong.
  3. You react with patience and wisdom. You rise above their negativity. You pray for your self-control and their guidance. You want to show them the beauty of your worship and the happiness that comes from it, so you don’t hide from them. You forgive them for the sake of Allah ﷻ and because you really do care for them. You answer their mocking questions with wisdom and good preaching because this is what your Prophet ﷺ did when he was ridiculed.  You react to their negativity with your positivity because this is what you have learned and it is what you practice.  And of course, this is the best way to react.

Don’t be defeated easily; you are their source to the truth. It took the best of preachers, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, twenty-three years until he established Islam in his hometown where he was trusted and respected. So, be patient and persevere. Even if they aren’t warm towards you, you extend double the warmth towards them. There may be cases where the differences may have caused estrangement between you. In such instances, drop the matter for a while. Islam strictly believes in maintaining the ties of kinship. Give yourselves time, forgive them, approach them, apologise even if you weren’t at fault, heal the wounds, and reconcile.

Don’t allow a cold war into your home. Maintaining happiness is essential. Do the regular things you do as a family- help each other with the household chores, play and have fun together, go on vacations and spend time with one another. Make use of your strongest weapon as a believer- du’aa. Preach only when the timing is appropriate, with wisdom. And remember, sprinkle the crumbs; don’t flood.

Written by: ZSA
Edited by: The Editorial Team 
© The Islamic Reflections Blog

References

https://sunnah.com/

1 thought on “Right vs. wrong: How to deal when it comes to family

  1. That’s one well-written article that’s much needed in our times.
    Barakallahu feeki!

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