Dealing with a Difficult Mother

As we discussed before, the mother is highly respected in Islam. We should treat our mothers with love, affection, and kindness. The ideal mother makes this easy. The ideal mother, whether Muslim or not, has her children’s best interests at heart. This mother loves her children, protects them, nurtures them, and would sacrifice anything for their health and happiness. Yes, it is easy to adore this mother.

[h]The Abusive Mother[/h]
What if this precious mother was not in your destiny? What if your mother was mean, abusive, or negligent? According to Islam, we should still treat her with kindness. We do not have to allow her to mistreat us, but we are not to harm her in any way. We should pray for Allah to have mercy on her and to soften her heart.

[h]The Non-Muslim Mom[/h]
What about non-Muslim moms who are upset about their child’s conversion to Islam? Generally, these moms fall into two categories:

  • The Loving, Concerned Mom
    There are often deeply religious mothers who “lose” their children to other religions. This grieves the mother terribly, as she fears her children will never see Heaven. She loves her kids, has always had their best interests at heart, and simply wants them to meet God’s reward. It is important to treat this mother with gentleness and kindness. She has given love and care to her children and deserves the same in return. Give her gifts, keep in close contact, and pray for her peace and acceptance. This mother is most likely to eventually understand the essence of Islam. Show her Islam’s beauty and, in time, she will likely accept the conversion. She might even seek to learn about Islam herself.
  • The Narrow-Minded Bigoted Mom
    For this mom, the conversion is often more about her children seeking an “un-American” life. This mom is angry, bitter, and resentful. She dislikes learning about other cultures, religions, or nationalities. She sees her child’s conversion as a slap in the face, an embarrassment. This mom was likely not very close to her children in the first place. With this mom, it is more difficult. It is important to try to maintain an amicable relationship, but it isn’t always possible. Give her gifts, check on her frequently, and pray for her. However, it sometimes happens that this mom will try to turn her children and grandchildren against Islam. She will often fill people’s heads with bigotry and hatefulness against born Muslims, especially if her child has married a foreigner. With repeated efforts to undermine your religion, your family, and your marriage, you may come to a point where you choose to limit your interactions with your mother. This is painful, especially with the high value of mothers in Islam. Some mothers do back their children into corners, forcing them to choose between their birth family and their religion. When that happens, it is unfortunate, but there really is only one possible choice. Continue to pray for Allah to soften her heart. Perhaps things will improve in time.

A difficult relationship with our mother is a real test of our Islam. It is hard to reconcile our Islamic instruction to respect our mothers with our need to protect ourselves against parental abuse. When at all possible, it is critical that we maintain a peaceful relationship. When it isn’t possible, continue to pray for your mother. Pray, too, for Allah to forgive you for your fractured relationship.