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Q: I’m a first generation college student and have big dreams of traveling and being independent, especially before marriage. My mom supports my dreams but my father doesn’t. And coming from a South Asian household run by my father, his words are the last words. I’ve grown up being told to never disobey your parents. If you do, then Allah SWT will be displeased, but what happens if they come in between you and your dreams? I’ve been praying to Allah SWT for patience and strength, but I’m currently running out of both.
A: “I did have the same struggles before, and my dad was very stubborn and against me traveling by myself, I had to listen to him at first but then I ended up unhappy and suffering from depression. My mom saw how miserable I was, and encouraged me to speak up. I did so after making salat estikhara, and miraculously, my dad accepted that I can go off to college by myself, and now I’m living the life of my dreams. I moved to a new country where I’m able to travel and discover the world along with my younger sister, who followed me. So my advice is to never let go of your dreams and to speak up no matter what, and Inshallah Allah will make it easy. And believe me, whatever is out there and is destined for you, it will reach you no matter what, but you have to make the effort and speak for yourself. Otherwise, no one will do it for you. Good luck, sister.”
– Eman, 28, Winnipeg
Respect your parents and ask them to support your decisions, not police them. tweet
A: “I live within the same familial environment. I totally understand how hard it is to overcome the skewed cultural expectations of your father. What I do to combat that is to really understand that Allah SWT can, and will acknowledge the toxicity of the environment. There are ways to do what you want and respectfully decline your father’s wishes. I always say: ‘I acknowledge what you’re saying, and I respect it, but this I what I want to do with my life and it has absolutely nothing to do with you. I have no intentions to disrespect you and I hope you can understand that.’ It’s not easy; it never will be. But Allah knows what’s within you heart and that’s all that matters.”
– Areeba, 20, Orange County
A: “Respect your parents and ask them to support your decisions, not police them. I took the plunge and moved, at 17, to go to college. My Muslim, South Asian therapist told me that at 22, she graduated college and went to Peru. We both faced resistance, but we stuck to our guns. The people in your life may not like your making controversial choices, but over time, they respect the hell out of you for not backing down. Don’t lose faith in your dreams, or Allah’s ability to make real the impossible.”
– Aaisha, 22, Florida
A: “First of all, Allah created the human as a free being. Freedom is the reason we exist. We are all here as strangers in this world, you are only responsible for your own actions. Loving your parents doesn’t mean that you have to live the life they want to. Love is unconditional, as the love of Allah for every human being. Adults react with ‘you disrespect us’, but in fact, they don’t respect your wishes. The first step is the hardest, but when you are behind your beliefs and wishes, it will become ‘normal’ later, that you take the decisions of your life. May Allah give you the strength to follow the path he has chosen for you, not the one your father has.”
– Linda, 25, Brussels
And when you finally get what you want, you’ll value it more, and be more responsible with it. Don’t take their trust for granted. tweet
A: “I also comes from a South East Asian [family], and although my parents were open-minded, there were certain issues where we’d have different point of views. What I did is always stand for what I believe, until I got their understanding. I’d have to be honest, there were times I’d go behind their back just to prove that I can do it, and showed it later to them. Other times I would fight with them, and make them understand my point of view. They’d surrender in the end, yet with that comes also great responsibilities from me to not disappoint them with my choices. My point is, sometimes you need to fight for your dream, and it is not disobeying. Parents need to also understand their kid’s dreams though it’s different from theirs. And when you finally get what you want, you’ll value it more, and be more responsible with it. Don’t take their trust for granted. Good luck, sister.”
– Amalia, Indonesia
A: “Leave ,and disappoint them if you have to. The end point is all that matters. If you come back successful, then they will forget everything because then they will have the respect of the community. This [what you do with your life] is important, and will affect you the rest of your life.”
– Naomi Hasan, 20, NYC