How Can I Deal With My Elderly Mother Who Refuses Assistance?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Assalam aleykum,

When my sick, elderly Christian mother needs help in financial emergencies, my husband refuses to help.He keeps telling me that she is not his responsibility despite all the sacrifices I have done for his family.

She is still my mother, and I want to show her the beauty of Islam. What do I do?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. Please forgive me for this delay.

Counsel

Dear sister, it sounds like you are in dire need of marital counselling. I suggest that you and your husband speak to a culturally sensitive counsellor.

Is there a trustworthy local scholar you and your husband can speak to? Is there a
compassionate and wise community elder you can consult? Please do not suffer in silence.

Prayer of Need

He said, “I only complain of my suffering and my grief to Allah, and I know from Allah that which you do not know. [Qur’an, 12:86]

Please wake up 10-15 minutes before the entry of fajr, and perform the Prayer of Need. Beg Allah to lift this tribulation from you. When speaking to creation brings about nothing but pain and argumentation, remember to speak directly to the Creator.

Reflect on the heartbreak of Nabi Yaqoub (upon him be blessings and peace), and how he complained only to Allah. Have trust that Allah knows exactly how much you pain you are in. He is listening, and it is only a matter of time before he answers your dua.

Marriage

I encourage you and your husband to enrol and complete this course: Marriage in Islam: Practical Guidance for Successful Marriages. Even if he is not keen on doing this course, I urge you to complete it. Learn the spirit and the law of marriage, so you can be familiar with it, and so that you can teach your children

Finances

Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one. People asked, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! It is all right to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor?” The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “By preventing him from oppressing others.” [Bukhari]

Dear sister, the Shari’ah is there to protect you. There is wisdom behind why your husband is meant to be the breadwinner for your family. Whatever money you earn is yours to keep.

From what you have described, your husband does not care about your mother, and confronting him about it will only make matters worse. Work with this reality. It’s time for you to change this dynamic.

Explain to your husband that you will need to reduce your financial contribution to your household, and you hope that he can increase his contribution. Every month, put aside this small amount for your mother. I pray that Allah places tremendous barakah in your sadaqah towards your mother.

Mother

You are obligated to look after your mother, and it is obligatory for you to maintain family ties with her. I can only imagine how much joy she feels when she sees you and your children.

Your request to see your mother once a week is perfectly reasonable. Even if your husband is not ‘in the mood’ to drop you and your children off to see her, he is bound by the Shari’ah to do so. This is especially important because your mother is not Muslim, and one of the best means of da’wah is good character.

How many kilometres away is your mother’s home? In the Shafi’i school of thought, as long as it is less than 81 km away from where you live, then you do not need a mahram to travel with you. It is permissible for you to catch a taxi there with your children.

Another alternative is arranging for a friend to drive you there and back. Could you arrange that with one of the sisters you know and trust?

I strongly encourage you to learn how to drive and get your license. This way, you will not be so reliant on your husband. As your children get older, it will be more and more useful for you to be able to drive and stay connected with them. Be an example of empowerment and strength for your daughters, especially.

Sacrifice

I am so sorry that your husband is being difficult. I pray that Allah rewards you for giving up your rights for the sake of pleasing Him. Even if your husband is treating you unjustly and is unappreciative of all you have done for him, trust that that nothing is lost with Allah.

Take this as a reminder that even when creation lets us down, our Creator does not. This is indeed a very painful reality, because the dunya is not our lasting home.

Prayer of Guidance

For as long as you remain married to your husband, you are bound by your marriage contract. Please perform the Prayer of Guidance up til seven times about this matter in your marriage. Look at what Allah unfolds for you before you make any final decisions.

If your husband continues to resist any attempts for you to help your mother, then that is a sign for you that your marriage is something you may need to end. If your husband softens his stance, then this a sign for you to keep working on your marriage.

Please do everything in your power to save your marriage. However, please be honest with yourself. It sounds like your husband is extremely controlling, and has taken advantage of your kindness.

Communication

Learning how to communicate more effectively with your husband takes time and practice. I recommend “The Relationship Cure” by John M. Gottman and Joan DeClaire. This will teach you better ways to communicate with your husband, while staying calm.

Self-care

Please see a culturally-sensitive counsellor to help you get through this. It is important for you to recognise what you can and cannot change. Do things that bring you joy e.g. read Qur’an, read books, drink herbal tea, exercise, visit friends etc.

You cannot change your husband’s behaviour, but you can change your own. Balance patience with wisdom. Know when to assert yourself, and how.

I pray that Allah guides your mother to Islam, soften your husband’s heart, and makes your marriage a safe haven for you, your husband, and your children. Please keep in touch.

Please see:

My Husband Mistreats Me and He Doesn’t Pray
Love, Marriage and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions Answered
A Reader on Patience and Reliance on Allah

[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.

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"Whoever guides someone to goodness will have a similar reward"-- The Prophet (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him)