As an Islamic Estate Planning Attorney, I am interested in family dynamics. A particular set up dynamics may come up when a family member decides to leave Islam. If you are a believing Muslim parent, part of your worship to Allah is how you raise your children. You obviously hope, pray and actively work for them being Muslim as they grow up, and carrying forward your values, at least the best of you. Islam is important to you, at least I am assuming this since you are here.
This is where family dynamics come in. See, many parents are disappointed with their grown children. Many grown children are similarly disappointed with their parents (or sometimes one of them). Sure, a parent’s angst may have to do with who they married (this happens frequently); it may have to do with their chosen profession (less likely a problem).
The most tragic disappointment for many parents, though usually does not result in a cut-off of relations (and never should!), is when an adult child decides Islam is not for them.
A murtad (the word for someone who leaves Islam) child can bring an enormous sense of loss to parents. Where did they go wrong, they will wonder.
Of course, I often think about my clients or people related to my clients, colleagues, and others. Muslim families can be quite impressive. As a parent myself, I wonder about what the secret sauce is for raising successful children. By successful, I do not mean in terms of social status or wealth. Those are cool too. I mean their values.
I have come across a few situations:
- A mother is on her deathbed. One son is trying to get his mother to say the shahadah. The other is on the other side of her bed, trying to get her to accept Jesus Christ as her Lord and savior. She cannot speak on her deathbed.
- An older man needs to disinherit his child because his son, who has reached midlife with Muslim children and a Muslim wife, decides to leave Islam.
- A “confirmed bachelor” made his life in America through old age but is barely in touch with his family. He leaves very little to them (he does not have to follow the Islamic Rules of Inheritance), giving most to charity. He wants to be buried the “Muslim way”- not as a Muslim, mind you, but quickly. Nobody is better at burial than Muslims.
You [Prophet] cannot guide everyone you love to the truth; it is God who guides whoever He will: He knows best those who will follow guidance. -Quran 28:56.
Prophets failed to penetrate the hearts of their family members and tribes before. This scenario happened over and over again. Guidance comes from Allah. No Prophet of Allah, no king or dictator, can guide anyone Allah has not chosen for guidance. No matter how gifted a parent or how many books, blog posts, YouTube videos, or parenting seminars, you may not be able to change your child’s path. Of course, you do the best you can. Parenting with Ihsan is part of our worship of Allah. Some do this very well and are thriving. Some do this horribly and make lots of mistakes, yet somehow end up with exceptional Muslim adult children.
Our journey is not about other people, even if those other people are your kin. It is about you and how you fulfill your responsibilities (which includes the Islamic Rules of Inheritance, by the way). You should also know that failure to be a Muslim does not mean a family member is a bad person; misguided people can be charming, polite, and perhaps successful in every other way. They can be good to their parents and their community. As tragic as it may be to have a family member who left Islam, remember these three principles:
Principle 1: Never, ever, ever cut off family ties. That does not mean you need to be in touch all the time, lend money whenever asked, or put up with verbal or physical abuse. It does mean you should leave a door open. Your relationship with your family is part of your worship.
Principle 2: Non-Muslims do not get an inheritance in Islam. In many instances, parents simply assume their children are non-Muslim. It may be because of some “statement of Kufr” or things other family members said. It is often because of something else, like who they married or political views (plenty of shockingly bad things are not necessarily kufr).
Principle 3: There are other ways to pass on wealth to Non-Muslim family members. A lifetime gift is one; Wasiyyah is another.
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