Maintaining Bonds of Kinship

“Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him maintain the bonds of kinship.”                                [Sahih Al-Bukhari]

Asalaam Alaikum/Hi all

This is a rare slightly Islam based personal post from me. I generally tend not to get too religious on my blog as I do not want to end up getting into debates or seem like I am preaching at people. 

But one thing has been bugging me a lot recently and I have had some advice from some good friends. However I thought I would put up a post about it and see what others think.

I have a niece who recently turned 18. Her father (my brother) died when she was 2. Her mum is a non muslim and she is basically being brought up as a non muslim.

When my brother died my parents went through the courts and fought tooth and nail to maintain contact with the only living remainder of their son. We ended up seeing her every other weekend – she only lives about 5 minutes walk from us. 

As she got to her teenage years she started showing signs that coming to see us was a chore. It was like she was embarrassed by her ‘brown’ relatives in their traditional pakistani dress. If we went shopping she would hang back as if she did not want to be seen with us. She started saying she had homework to do at weekends. My parents did not push her to visit; they left the door open to her to see them if she so wished. In all honesty their heart was breaking as they were seeing her growing up as a non muslim. She had started to wear revealing clothes and they realised that the next step would be boyfriends and drinking.

I had a good relationship with her as I do with my other niece and nephew. I guess because I am the youngest in my family they can relate to me more. However the last time I saw her was at my munchkins first birthday. She only came because I bumped into her nan in a shop the day before and said she can come if she likes. That was 4 years ago. Since then she has made no effort to visit and we just left her to live her life.

I recently started thinking of her as I realised she would soon turn 18 so I looked for her on the internet. I found her on facebook and I sent her a friend request. She accepted me immediately but did not say anything. I gave it a few days and then messaged her asking how she was. She replied saying she was good and that she had just passed her driving test. I said that was great and then after that there was no conversation.

It was my birthday in June ( a few months after I added her) and lots of my friends/family wished me happy birthday. My nephew was the first. She did not say anything. It seemed like she did not want to make the effort.

I chose to remove her from facebook. In all honesty it killed me to see the way she was dressing and the antics she was up to. It was depressing me. Every time I opened FB I dreaded seeing more pictures that broke my heart into tiny pieces.

I was thinking to give her a present on behalf of her father when she turned 18 (a week ago) but I do not think she would have appreciated it. Not once has she asked about where her father is buried, or asked to see pictures of his grave or even ask about what he was like.

Islam puts an importance on maintaining ties with family whether they are muslim or non muslim. That was part  of the reason I searched for her. The other reason was because she is part of my brother and we still miss him as much as we did when he first died.

However I do not think my parents can cope seeing her in the state she is now. If I am totally honest I do not want her in my life if it will influence my munchkin to behave like her. I do not want her coming to my home in revealing clothes and so much make up that she looks like a clown, or coming when drunk.
Then I think maybe I am being too harsh. She is after all our blood.

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  • The more she needs your love. Don't turn away from her.

    Remember what our Prophet PBH did to anybody who hurt him, (like the Jewish lady — he was so kind to her that one day when he did not turn up, she asked about him and realized that he was Mohammad PBH and soon became a Muslim herself, mainly due to his patience and kindness).

    Show her Islam in all its beauty, in a gentle, subtle way. Be her friend. She may one day need you and be there when she does.

  • I would not cut the ties with her. I would go with my credo "give everything, require nothing".
    Reading you, she seems lost – she is a teenager and she unfortunately did not grow up with a father, who could have been a model for her. She does not know who she is.

    She reminds me a girl I know very well. Inside her it hurts a lot. She does not show it but she is in pain. She miss her father but she rejects her feelings because she can't deal with them.

    The revealing clothes, the drinking thing is a way to say I exist – Look at me.
    (I am living it here in Ireland every single day in the way people behave – They cry for help but it seems nobody wants to help them.)

    It may seem the wrong way to do things for you but remember she did not grow up as a Muslim.

    I will stop here because I can go on and on on this subject.
    It's now and in the future she needs you. She needs boundaries, a frame where she can evolves in peace. She needs your support. She needs your love, today more than ever.

    By your actions and your presence show her your religion in all its beautiful aspects. She might need time but one day she'll say thank you. This day you will know being there was right.

    Take care. Marie

  • Salaam alaykum,

    It's very difficult sometimes to deal with non-muslim family. But I would try to keep the contact open. So that if she insha'Allah realizes that you are also family who love her she can contact you.

    If your afraid that she will influence munchkin you can keep the contact only through the net or meet her when munchkin is at your parents place.

    At least you will not be blamed later on than.

    And from your story it looks like she is raised this way. If you already had to fight to be able to see her it is possible, but Allahu A'lem that her mom had influence on her behaviour towards you and your family.

    May Allah guide your niece and the rest of your/her family. Ameen

  • I agree with the others, try to keep the contact open. I know it is hard, I am a muslim revert so all my birth family are not muslims. I may not agree with most things they do but I just accept it and leave it to Allah as to what happens to them! I have a half sister who I never meet I think the last time I saw her was about 4 years ago even though she doesn't live far away. She broke off all contact with our dad which included my other sister. Me and my sister added her on facebook about 2 years ago and she will send the odd message at birthdays and such but that is all. I don't want to push things I just accept that the door is open for her to contact as she wishes and at least I know what she is upto in her life. She is getting married next year, I doubt there will be any invite but I wish her luck. Try not to worry about how she is behaving, if I did that with all my non-muslim family I would have no time to be happy! You don't need to worry about your kids getting the wrong influence as long as you explain to them the right way! My children have had to learn from a young age the difference between how our immediate family behave compared to our non-muslim family – they just accept the difference but know our way is best just by looking at the news reports on TV! I do hope you can stay in contact with her, try adding her on facebook again and apologizing that you seem to have deleted her. Sorry for the long post, a lot to discuss. Karima 🙂

  • @Marie and Umm Mini… thank you. No I did not make the blog design. I got someone to do it from me (Blog owner of Little Pink Strawberries)

    Thank you everyone for your advice. I think you are all right, I was a bit harsh for deleting her, I tend to do things in the heat of the moment. I am not sure if she will accept me again on FB. Will try

    @Marie I think you are right. She has also been rejected by her mother. As soon as my bro died her mother dumped her on HER mother to look after so she could live her life. She still regularly visited her and bought her presents (even a horse I think)but I guess her father dying and then her mother in a way rejecting her did not help. Then we kind of put distance between us aswell. I guess she is one messed up girl.

    thank you for sharing your experience with me Karima, it is appreciated.

    @umm mini, that is true I can keep my munchkin away from her initially if I ever see her again

    @inspiring always, JazakAllah Khair for the reminder of the story.

  • My advice would be to stay in touch and keep the lines of communications open, only Allah knows how she may be feeling or what she may have been told about your family to make her so distant. I understand completely how you feel but you must bear in mind something that others have said which is that she was not raised as a Muslim so learn to accept her for who she is. By having that contact Insha'Allah maybe one day she may even embrace your way of life. As for her influencing your daughter I believe that in the society we live in today children will be influenced by a lot of factors, from school to television and even their peers. The best way to avoid this is to continue teaching your daughter the right way of life and the Islamic way of life. Remember you are the biggest influence in your daughter's life and hopefully she will be fine. Allah know's best