in category Family, Gender and Sexuality

What should we do when our parents do not follow Islam as a Muslim mature girl?

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Islamic researcher, graduated from Al-Azhar University, Islamic Studies in English.
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In a Nutshell:
It is obligatory upon Muslims, males or females, to deal justly with parents, whether they are Muslims or not. Clearly, Muslims should not obey parents in anything haram or in disobedience of Allah (saw).


This question is faced almost by every new convert to Islam and by some Muslims where their parents do not deem Islam important. In this answer I will explain the Islamic viewpoint of dealing with non-Muslim parents or those not following Islam and when one should or should not obey them.


Some new Muslim converts think that Islam would prevent them from dealing with their non-Muslim parents at all or being kind to them. This is a mistake as parents should be treated with respect and kindness as a general rule.



1. وَاخْفِضْ لَهُمَا جَنَاحَ الذُّلِّ مِنَ الرَّحْمَةِ وَقُل رَّبِّ ارْحَمْهُمَا كَمَا رَبَّيَانِي صَغِيرًا

And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy and say, "My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up [when I was] small." (17:24)

2. وَإِن جَاهَدَاكَ عَلى أَن تُشْرِكَ بِي مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ فَلَا تُطِعْهُمَا وَصَاحِبْهُمَا فِي الدُّنْيَا مَعْرُوفًا وَاتَّبِعْ سَبِيلَ مَنْ أَنَابَ إِلَيَّ ثُمَّ إِلَيَّ مَرْجِعُكُمْ فَأُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ – لقمان 31/15

But if they endeavour to make you associate with Me that of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them but accompany them in [this] world with appropriate kindness and follow the way of those who turn back to Me [in repentance]. Then to Me will be your return, and I will inform you about what you used to do. (Qur'an 31:15)

3. لَّا يَنْهَاكُمُ اللَّهُ عَنِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَلَمْ يُخْرِجُوكُم مِّن دِيَارِكُمْ أَن تَبَرُّوهُمْ وَتُقْسِطُوا إِلَيْهِمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ – الممتحنة 60/8

Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes - from being righteous towards them and acting justly towards them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly. (Qur'an 60:8)


4. عَنِ ابْنِ عُمَرَ ـ رضى الله عنهما ـ قَالَ رَأَى عُمَرُ حُلَّةً عَلَى رَجُلٍ تُبَاعُ فَقَالَ لِلنَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم ابْتَعْ هَذِهِ الْحُلَّةَ تَلْبَسْهَا يَوْمَ الْجُمُعَةِ وَإِذَا جَاءَكَ الْوَفْدُ‏.‏ فَقَالَ ‏"‏ إِنَّمَا يَلْبَسُ هَذَا مَنْ لاَ خَلاَقَ لَهُ فِي الآخِرَةِ ‏"‏‏.‏ فَأُتِيَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم مِنْهَا بِحُلَلٍ فَأَرْسَلَ إِلَى عُمَرَ مِنْهَا بِحُلَّةٍ‏.‏ فَقَالَ عُمَرُ كَيْفَ أَلْبَسُهَا وَقَدْ قُلْتَ فِيهَا مَا قُلْتَ قَالَ ‏"‏ إِنِّي لَمْ أَكْسُكَهَا لِتَلْبَسَهَا، تَبِيعُهَا أَوْ تَكْسُوهَا ‏"‏‏.‏ فَأَرْسَلَ بِهَا عُمَرُ إِلَى أَخٍ لَهُ مِنْ أَهْلِ مَكَّةَ قَبْلَ أَنْ يُسْلِمَ‏ - البخاري 51/51

Ibn Umar (ra) narrated: Umar saw a silken cloak over a man for sale and requested the Prophet (saw) to buy it in order to wear it on Fridays and while meeting delegates. The Prophet (saw) said, "This is worn by the one who will have no share in the Hereafter." Later on Allah's Messenger (saw) got some silken cloaks similar to that one, and he sent one to Umar. Umar said to the Prophet (saw) "How can I wear it, while you said about it what you said?" The Prophet (saw) said, "I have not given it to you to wear, but to sell or to give to someone else." So, Umar sent it to his brother at Mecca before he embraced Islam. (Bukhari 51:51)

4. عَنْ أَسْمَاءَ بِنْتِ أَبِي بَكْرٍ ـ رضى الله عنهما ـ قَالَتْ قَدِمَتْ عَلَىَّ أُمِّي وَهْىَ مُشْرِكَةٌ، فِي عَهْدِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم، فَاسْتَفْتَيْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قُلْتُ ‏{‏إِنَّ أُمِّي قَدِمَتْ‏}‏ وَهْىَ رَاغِبَةٌ، أَفَأَصِلُ أُمِّي قَالَ ‏ "‏ نَعَمْ صِلِي أُمَّكِ ‏- البخاري 51/52

Asma bint Abu Bakr (ra) narrated: My mother came to me during the lifetime of Allah's Messenger (ra) and she was a pagan. I said to Allah's Apostle (seeking his verdict), "My mother has come to me and she desires to receive a reward from me, shall I keep good relations with her?" The Prophet (ra) said, "Yes, keep good relation with her." (Bukhari 51:52)

Jurist views

Scholars unanimously agree that kindness to parents is fard ayn (individual obligation).

The Zahiri jurist ibn Hazm conveyed the ijma on this:

وَاِتَّفَقُوا أَنَّ بِرَّ الْوَالِدَيْنِ فُرَّضَ – ابن حزم في مراتب الإجماع 157

They unanimously agree kindness to parents is a fard (obligation). (Ibn Hazm, Maratib al-Ijma, 157)

Obligation of Dealing Justly with non-Muslim Parents

No scholar claims there is a difference between a Muslim (good or bad) or a non-Muslim parent in respect of the obligation of showing being kindness to them. Badness does not forfeit the general rule of obligation deduced from the Qur'anic verses and hadiths mentioned in the evidences section.

Nafrawi, the Maliki scholar, stated:

وَمِنْ الْفَرَائِضِ الْعَيْنِيَّةَ عَلَى كُلُّ مُكَلَّفِ بِرِّ الْوَالِدَيْنِ أَيُّ الْإحْسَانِ إِلَيهُمَا وَلَوْ كَانَا فَاسِقِينً بِغَيْرَ الشَّرَكَ ، بَلْ وَإِنْ كَانَا مُشْرِكِينً ، للآيات الدَّالَّةَ عَلَى الْعُمُومِ ، وَالْحُقوقُ لَا تَسْقُطْ بِالْفِسْقِ وَلَا بِالْمُخَالَفَةِ فِي الدِّينِ – النفراوي في الفواكه الدواني 2/290

One of the individual obligations upon every mukallaf (a Muslim of full age and liable for religious duties) to deal kindly with his parents even if they are a non-mushrik fasiqeen (sinners) or even mushriks (polytheists) because the verses give a general rule and rights are not forfeited due to sinfulness or the difference in deen. (Nafrawi, Al-Fawakih al-Dawani, Vol. 2, p. 290)

When one should not Obey Parents

Although the Qur'an lays great emphasis on the kindness to non-Muslim parents, it demonstrates it is not permissible to obey them in the credal matters or anything leading to the disobedience of Allah (saw).

عَنْ عَلِيٍّ رضي الله عنه أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم َقَالَ لاَ طَاعَةَ فِي مَعْصِيَةِ اللَّهِ إِنَّمَا الطَّاعَةُ فِي الْمَعْرُوفِ‏ - مسلم 33/63

Ali ibn Abi Talib (ra) narrated the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: There is no submission in matters involving Allah's disobedience or displeasure. Submission is obligatory only in what is good (and reasonable). (Muslim 33:63)

It has been narrated when Sa'd ibn Abi Waqas (ra) embraced Islam, his mother was disturbed and saddened as Sa'd had given up the faith of his forefathers. She tried to bring him back to disbelief in many ways, but to no avail. As a last resort to emotionally blackmail Sa'd (ra): she went on a hunger strike and declared she will not eat until Sa'd leaves Islam. Sa'd(ra) was unnerved and saddened by this act, however pure faith had taken strong roots in his heart, so he did not let go, rather he responded in the best of ways trying to convince here, however eventually he made his position clear:

يا أُمَّهْ، تعلمين واللهِ لو كانت لك مِائةُ نَفْسٍ، فخرجتْ نَفْسًا نَفْسًا؛ ما تركتُ ديني هذا؛ فإن شئتِ فَكُلي، وإن شئتِ لا تأكلي – ابن أبي حاتم 9/3036

"Dear mother if you had a hundred lives within your body, and each one of those hundred lives were to leave your body in front of my eyes, even then I would not recant and give up my faith in Islam. It is your wish whether you want to eat or not, as for myself I will not leave my Prophet (saw)." (Ibn Abi Hatim 9: 3036)

Seeing this his mother gave up the strike and the verse number one in the evidence section was revealed. (Ibid 9: 3036)


Also, scholars disagree on the validity of seeking the permission of non-Muslim parents to participate in Jihad. Whist they agree a Muslim could not participate on jihad in the case of fard kifayah (communal obligation), the majority of scholars agree a Muslim can participate in this kind of jihad irrespective of the consent of his non-Muslim parent. Ibn Hajar stated:

قَالَ جُمْهُورُ الْعُلَمَاءِ : يُحَرِّمُ الْجِهَادُ إِذَا مَنْعٍ الأبوان أَوْ أحَدَهُمَا بِشَرْطٍ أَنْ يَكُونَا مُسْلِمِينً ، لِأَنَّ بَرَّهُمَا فَرْضِ عَيْنٍ عَلَيه وَالْجِهَادُ فُرَّضُ كِفَايَةِ – ابن حجر في فتح الباري 6/188

Majority of scholars stated: it is prohibited to participate in jihad if one or the two parents disagree in the condition, they are Muslims. Because dealing justly with parents is fard ayn (individual obligation) and jihad is fard kifayah (communal obligation). (Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari, Vol. 6, p. 188)


Scholars also agree Muslim women whose father is non-Muslim can contract the marriage without his involvement.

Ibn Qudamah and ibn al Mundhir conveyed the Ijma of Muslim scholars that the non-Muslim parent does not have wilayah over his daughter. (Ibn Qudamah, Al-Mughni, Vol. 7, p. 21)


Based on the Qur'anic verses and ahadith mentioned above, it is clear Islam does not change the way how a Muslim should treat his parents due to their disbelief.

Moreover, in the Qur'an, Allah says:

وَصَاحِبْهُمَا فِي الدُّنْيَا مَعْرُوفًا

but accompany them in [this] world with appropriate kindness

meaning the Muslim should accompany his parents even if they are not Muslims.

Thus, when the non-Muslim parents know Islam orders its followers to be kind with their non-Muslim parents, they may change their minds and embrace Islam.

Those sons and daughters should not cease calling their parents to Islam and explaining its good manners. They should also never tire of asking Allah to guide their parents to accept Islam.


It is obligatory upon the Muslim to deal justly with his parents, whether they are Muslims or not. But the Muslim should not obey parents in anything haram or leading to the disobedience of Allah (saw).


Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari
Ibn Hazm, Maratib al-Ijma
Ibn Qudamah, Al-Mughni
Nafrawi, Al-Fawakih al-Dawani

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