September 1, 2003
Asalamu Alaikom. I am an 18 year old girl born and raised in the US and I live with my parents and two younger brothers, ages 16 and 14. I am facing a difficult, uncomfortable, and embarrassing problem and I do not know how to deal with it, or even if I should deal with it at all or let it go. My parents are moderately religious. Both my parents pray 5 times a day and fast. My parents, especially my father who is involved in the Muslim community here, has instilled it into our minds that we are Muslim and should be proud and need to follow the Islamic way of life carefully to be successful. I agree with him on this and do my best to be a good Muslim.
My issue is this: I recently accidentally found out that my father has been viewing extremely inappropriate (as well as extremely haram) content on the internet at home and it has put me in a very awkward position. I fear that my brothers or my mother may accidentally stumble on this unknowingly and wonder where it came from. I feel like my dad is such a hypocrite and I can't stand to look at him! He preaches to us about Islam, prays 5 times a day and fasts, and then counteracts all that with something as silly, disgusting, and mortifying as this? I cannot, WILL NOT, approach him about this subject at all, nor anyone else, as it is far too embarrassing.
Bilqis, what do I do? I have lost all respect for my father, and I feel terrible because he will help pay for my college. I am very confused, upset, and in desperate need of advice. Inshallah I will hear from you soon.
- Disappointed and Scared
Let me begin with the following words:
(from The Ideal Muslim by Dr. Mohammad Ali al-Hashimi. International Islamic Publishing House 1997.)
I am certain, as you say, that this possible discovery has been difficult for you! And I sympathize with you in that regard. I don't know how you became aware of this matter, but even so, especially with it being a parent, you must strive to not think the worst at first and hope that perhaps there may be something you are missing here. In other words, strive to put a positive construction on the matter and think the best, not the worst. This should be your first approach.
Sometimes with computers and access to the internet, information not of our choosing is sent to us. This could be a possibility.
However, if you are certain this is not the case, then you have been presented with a situation that as a young adult may require some understanding on your part as well as forgiveness.
The truth is that we all are vulnerable to doing wrong. Sometimes we may have temporary lapses into a certain type of wrong behavior. Yet, if a Muslim continues to sincerely strive in his/her deen, through salat, and other acts of worship, he/she will be guided away from error, Insha'Allah. The fact that your father continues to encourage you in your Islamic responsibilities and performs his Islamic duties, as well, makes him worthy of your duaa', respect, and forgiveness.
Something on the status of parents in Islam should be mentioned here:
Allah says, "Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour. And out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say, 'My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood.'" [Isra 17: 23-24]
Further Allah says, "Serve Allah and join not any partners with Him, and do good to Parents." [Nisa 4: 36]
"We have enjoined on man kindness to parents." [Ankabut 29: 8]
A Hadith: Abdullah ibn Mas'ud said, "I asked the Prophet [s], 'Which deed is most liked by Allah?' He said, 'Prayer offered on time.' I asked him, 'Then what?' He said, 'Kindness and respect towards parents.' I asked him, 'Then what?' He said, 'Jihad for the sake of Allah.'"
So as you can see, Allah (SWT) has given parents a very special status.
Nevertheless, if indeed your father is downloading and viewing such material, it is indeed haram and destructive. Pornographic material has many harmful effects. It may distort the way a person views women in general, it may inject corrupt and un-Islamic thoughts into one's consciousness, and it may interfere with and even destroy a healthy marriage.
I encourage you to find the strength within yourself to make your father aware that you have discovered this material, and to ask him to stop and make tawbah. Otherwise, if you simply ignore it and do not discuss it with anyone, what will change? If you love your father then you must offer him naseehah (sincere advice), not out of disgust or loathing but out of concern for him and the wellbeing of your family.
You said quite emphatically that you cannot approach your father about this, as it is too embarassing. Consider this: at times when the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) wanted to speak about some blameworthy action he had witnessed, he would speak about it in the third person, that is, not mention someone by name, but just refer to them as he or she. Perhaps you might consider using this method in this situation. Even as this circumstance involves your father, as Muslims, a "word to the right" needs to be spoken to him. This is among the best of things that one Muslim can do for another Muslim.
Another possibility is to write him a letter. That way you can say whatever you need to say without having to confront him directly.
This may be difficult, but as you say, you don't want other family members to become aware too. If Allah (SWT) keeps the matter secret, you should also. We as Muslims should strive to maintain the honor of another Muslim, as much as possible.
I would sincerely pray to Allah for guidance in finding a way to perhaps, in a subtle manner and when you feel ready, put the thought out to make him aware of the awkwardness and haram (unlawful) nature of such a situation without naming him directly. Don't feel pressured to do this, but keep up sincere duaa' to Allah (SWT) for guidance and watch and wait for an answer. Allah (SWT) may resolve the situation in the meantime.
Most importantly, give the matter up to Allah (SWT), strive to not let it weigh on your mind, and continue to pray for your father and forgive his shortcomings, because he seems to be doing many good things for his family. If Allah (SWT) in all His Greatness can continually forgive us, surely we can forgive one another! My prayers and best wishes to you and your family.