Islamic marriage advice and family advice

My parents wishes or mine?

Stressed college student

Assalamualaikum to my brothers and sisters in Islam,

As per the title of my question, I am conflicted about fulfilling either my parents wishes or mine, and I'd like some advice, if possible. My story's gonna be a bit long, so please bear with me.

I'm now twenty - five years old, and I'm studying for my Master's Degree in Engineering in a university far from my hometown, although it's still in the same country as my hometown. I was a smart student back in school, and I've always scored well in my examinations. My parents have always pushed me to excel academically. They've always told me to get a scholarship so that I can go and study overseas. Financially, my family wasn't that well - off, so I studied hard in the hopes that I can get a scholarship for my tertiary education so that I won't be a burden to my parents.

When I was 17, I got a scholarship to do Medicine in India, which is what I've always wanted to do. I've always wanted to be a doctor. But this is where the story takes an unexpected turn. My parents (my mum, especially) decided that they DIDN'T want me to go overseas to study, on the grounds that I was too young, I was the youngest child and only son in the family (I have one elder sister that's ten years older than me, that's all).

I was angry, sad and I felt betrayed (in the sense that my hard work was basically for nothing, and all the things that they promised me, like allowing me to go overseas meant nothing), but I conceded, on the grounds that they were my parents, and they knew best. So I completed my Sixth Form at a local institute near my hometown. When my results came out, my CGPA was fine, but not good enough to do Medicine (apparently the local university refused to accept CGPA less than 4.0 for medicine), and I didn't apply for an international scholarship this time around. So I swallowed the fact that it wasn't written for me to be a doctor. I really wanted to go overseas to study though, and I still can't erase that desire.

With my CGPA, I applied to a local university within driving distance from my home and got an offer for Chemical Engineering. So I proceeded to study Chemical Engineering for 4 years. I graduated with Honours on government scholarship and decided to pursue my Master's in Mechanical Engineering. This time around I decided to apply to a university not in my hometown, but somewhere farther away. I was 23 when I graduated, and I've never left home before. So now is a good time for me to begin carving out my own footsteps. I applied and got an offer to study Mechanical Engineering at an institute that is one and a half hours away from my home by flight. Alhamdulillah, everything worked out fine for me. I became more independent, I met good people who made life enjoyable. This is in comparison during my bachelor's degree years, where even though it's closer to my house (a 45 minute drive), I was miserable. I met horrible people, my lecturers were not understanding, and I was ostracized (a literal social pariah, for lack of a better term). I was never a social guy, although I was friendly. I can't cope too well with the social dynamics of my peers. In grad school, my friends are more mature, some are older, some are already married. So that might explain the difference.

Now I have one semester left before I graduate, and I'm considering pursuing a PhD. The thing is, my parents have never relished the fact that I wanted to go studying so far away from them. They used emotional blackmail to get their way. They say things like, "Don't you pity us growing older?" The thing is, it's difficult enough as it is to get a job in engineering in my hometown, and my heart is set on pursuing a PhD. It's also difficult to get local scholarships since my country as a whole is facing a severe economic downturn. Budget cuts are everywhere. Jobs for people like me are hard to come by. My heart is set on being a researcher, not an engineer working on the field.

My question is: Should I give up on pursuing a PhD opportunity (scholarship included) overseas? The thing is I still can't get rid of wanting to go overseas to study. Insha Allah, I think I'm good enough to get an opportunity. If I were to give up, I will be crushed since I've let go of so many opportunities to go overseas because of my parents. I had to let go of my Medicine scholarship when my mother literally said, "If you go to India, you'll come back to my dead body waiting for you." I've worked so hard for these opportunities, only to let go of them in the end.

I have one semester left to think about this. I know my parents are getting older. They used this same reason to ask me to let go of the Medicine scholarship 8 years ago, and if truth be told, I still feel a bit betrayed by them because of it. They drove me to study hard to get a scholarship, only to deny me the opportunity to go once I get it. And I'm afraid now, that history will repeat itself.

I'm not getting any younger either, and PhDs get harder to do once you get older. Now that my passion to do research is still high, I should pursue it. I think my parents have difficulty letting go of me, and it's unhealthy for both me and them. They should let me go be my own man now that I'm 25, but at the same time I'm afraid that Allah will count that as being unlawful to your parents. I'm confused. My heart is so set on going overseas, especially since I've been denied so many opportunities to do it over the years. Please give me advice on how to be both a lawful son and fulfilling my lifelong dream at the same time. If any further details are needed, I'll gladly answer them for you. Thank you in advance.


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7 Responses »

  1. Masha ALLAH !

    You seem to be an career oriented younger brother with full of dreams and ambitions. May ALLAH grant you all your wishes. Ameen. Sum Ameen

    Now coming to your basics about your parents. Well, havent you politely asked them that, if they never wanted you to go overseas for your studies then why at first place did they ask you to opt for Scholarships ? If they werent ready to send you anywhere they shouldnt have had put that in your mind about acquiring a Scholarship and then carrying on your studies. And now since you have got scholarships they are denying. That is so Paradoxical. You should ask them about this but politely.

    Also, yes they are growing old but you should assure them that once you are on a high profile job its you who is going to take care of them and for that you need to reach that position and to reach on that position you have to complete your studies your ambitions. Wouldnt they be proud to tell the world that they are parents of you as a DOCTOR in future Insha ALLAH once you pursue your P.hd

    And you should also make them understand that now the world is growing up so faster that be it overseas you can talk every second whenever you feel like. And many people do study abroad on Scholarships. They opt for scholarships and work hard to achieve that because the family financial situation is poor. I dont need to tell you this brother when you have already done that hard work and achieved sucess.

    Down the line i am sure rather very sure your parents will be very proud about you just make sure you keep up to there pride. I am sure you will 🙂 insha ALLAH

    I shall remember you in my Prayers and wish you all the very best. Dont forget to write down the good news here once it has happened as you have wished.

    Wa Salam

  2. Assalaamualaykum brother,

    I am so sorry to hear that you are going through this hardship. May Allah ease the situation and burden for you very soon and grant you and your parents peace between you, and happiness. I have made a special dua for you.


  3. Assalaamualaikum, Brother! Just ponder over these verses and you'll have your answer, Inshalallah.

    Allah, the Wise, has said about parents:

    فَلاَ تَقُل لَهُما اُفٍّ وَ لاَ تَنْهَرهُما
    (Say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them)

    The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) said:

    بِرُّ الْواَلِدَينِ اَفضَلُ مِنَ الصَّلاةِ وَ الصَّومِ وَ الْحَجِّ وَ الْعُمْرَةِ وَ الْجِهاَدِ فِی سَبِيلِ اللهِ
    (Kindness towards parents is better than prayers, fasts, Hajj, U’mrah and jihad in the path of Allah.)

    The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) approached a youth who was dying and said to him: “O’ Youth! Say ‘Laa ilaaha illallah”,but the youth’s tongue would not move and he was unable to speak the sentence.

    The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.)asked the gathering crowd if the youth’s mother was present. A lady, who stood near the head of the dying person, stepped forward and said she was his mother.

    The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) asked her if she was pleased with her son to which she responded: “No. I have not spoken to him for the past six years.”

    He said, “O’ Lady! Forgive him and be pleased with him.”

    The lady agreed and said, “For your sake, I forgive him. May God be pleased with him!”

    The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) again turned to the youth and asked him to testify to the Unity of God and this time, having procured his mother’s pleasure, the youth was able to do so.

    The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) asked him, “O’ Youth! What do you witness at this moment?”

    He said, “I see an extremely ugly person who has a foul odour coming from him and who is waiting to strangle me.”

    The Prophet (s.a.w.) then instructed the youth to recite the following supplication: O’ He, Who accepts trivial (good) deeds and disregards the immense sins! Accept from me my trivial (good) deeds and disregard my immense sins, for you are the All-Forgiving and the All-Merciful.

    When the youth had recited this supplication, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) asked him once more what he was witnessing.

    He replied, “I now see a man with a luminous and pleasing appearance. He is wearing beautiful clothes and possesses an enchanting fragrance. He is exhibiting kindness and courtesy towards me”.(Having said this, the youth passed away.

  4. Ws brother,
    I hope the advice I give you is worthy enough. You say you have been studying at some distance from home already as you have to take a flight to come home, so I assumw your parents have come around to not having you physically present all the time. I would recommend that you pray to Allah SWT to work a way out for you so that you can go for an overseas education as your heart seems set on it.
    Like you, I too compromised on my education somewhere along the line and I can tell you that the resentment against my parents took a long time to go. They have never forced me after that as I did not take that sacrifice really well eventhough I conceded then. Even now, the negativity creeps in sometimes. I am not asking you to rebel but I do think you will feel the anger and frustration if you keep on letting go each time. Convince them. Ask your sister to help look after them while you are away. Try getting some cousin/friend to visit them often while you are abroad. Use a bit of emotional blackmail saying would they want their only son to be alone, unhappy and bitter. Don’t be rude or disrespectful, of course or else all your sacrifice will go down the drain. Besides, you are going away to study and then come back I suppose. Give examples of others who have done the same.
    The only reason I would suggest you to pursue your passsion for once is because we are all bound to failure/loss some time or the other in life. At those times, these feelings of resentment, of not having pursued our desires bring in a lot of negativity into us and make us bitter people wary of all around us. May Allah make it easy for you. AMEEN.

  5. Assalamualaikum dear brothers and sisters,

    First of all I would like to thank you for the advice all of you have given me. I'm starting my final semester tomorrow, and I'll be flying back to my uni tomorrow morning. Therefore, here are a few things I have decided. Firstly, I will study hard for this final semester and try and get as good a CGPA as possible, and then, if everything goes well, I'll begin applying scholarships.

    I wouldn't expect the scholarship to cover everything (maybe just the tuition, but not the living expenses), so I'll try to get a research assistant or teaching assistant position, so then I'll get paid and that will cover my living expenses.

    As for being kind to my parents, here's what I think. Being kind to your parents is not the same as obeying them blindly. I think that ultimately, a parent would want what is best for their children. I think a parent would one their child to lead a good life, even after they're gone. Besides, what is the point of staying close to them if I ended up being insincere and resenting them for it. Better I be far from them, seeking knowledge, being happy and living a life I love. I will miss them, and I will honour them, and I will be grateful to them for giving me this opportunity. HONOURING your parents is, in my opinion, a better way to live, than to just OBEY them.

    If anybody can think of a better compromise to my situation, please comment. We can discuss this here.

    • Walaikumassalaam warahmatullahi wabarakaatu.

      I think you didn't understand from my previous answer, So I'll break it down for you.

      There are different degrees of honouring one’s parents, the least of which is upholding ties with them by spending on them, caring about them, asking after them and showing concern. As for the greatest of these degrees, there is no limit to it, and the righteous and the believers compete in that, in ways that are limitless. This is the essential attitude of the message brought by the Prophets, motivated by the verses and ahaadeeth which place a great emphasis on parents and mention their rights alongside the rights of Allaah, may He be exalted, and which speak of a great reward for honouring them and upholding ties with them. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) regarded that as the best of deeds after prayer, and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) heard the recitation of Haarithah ibn al-Nu’maan in Paradise and said: “He attained this level (in Paradise) because of honouring his mother.” Narrated by Ibn Wahb in al-Jaami’ (22); classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah (913). The prayers of Uways al-Qarni were answered because he honoured his mother.

      Al-Bukhaari narrated in al-Adab al-Mufrad (15), in a report that was classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Adab, from Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with them) that a man came to him and said: I proposed marriage to a woman but she refused to marry me; someone else proposed to her and she agreed to marry him. I got jealous and killed her. Can I repent? He said: Is your mother alive? He said: No. He said: Repent to Allaah, may He be glorified and exalted, and seek to draw near to Him as much as you can. I went and asked Ibn ‘Abbaas: Why did you ask him if his mother was alive? He said: Because I do not know of any deed that will bring one closer to Allaah, may He be glorified and exalted, than honouring one’s mother.

      We say to you:

      When it comes to honouring your parents and upholding ties with them, it is undoubtedly better to stay with them to serve them and take care of them. Abu Hurayrah stayed with his mother and he did not do Hajj until she died, so that he could keep her company, as it says in Saheeh Muslim (1665). The fuqaha’ stated that it is haraam for a son to travel to seek knowledge or engage in business if that will result in neglect of his parents.

      It says in al-Mawsoo’ah al-Fiqhiyyah (3/156):

      If he – the son – wants to go out to seek knowledge in another country, or engage in trade, but he fears that his parents may be neglected, then he does not have the right to go out without their permission.

      The basic principle with regard to that is the report narrated by Abu Dawood (2528) and al-Nasaa’i (4163), that a man came to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and said: I have come to swear allegiance to you and pledge to migrate, and I have left my parents weeping. He (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Go back and make them smile as you have made them weep.”

      Classed as saheeh by Ibn al-Mulqin in al-Badr al-Muneer (9/40) and al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood.

      Abd ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas narrated that a man came to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and said: O Messenger of Allaah, should I go for jihad? He said: Do you have parents? He said: Yes. He said: Then your jihad is with them. Agreed upon. End quote.

      But if it will not result in any neglect of the parents, and they have others around who can look after them, or they are able to look after themselves, then he may go out to seek knowledge or do business, and it is not essential to have their permission.

      It says in al-Mudawwanah (2/101):

      Maalik said: Once a boy reaches the age of puberty he may go wherever he wants, and the father has no right to prevent him. End quote.

      See al-Mawsoo’ah al-Fiqhiyyah (8/7071).

      But we advise you to do what is best and to do that which will bring a great reward with Allaah, which is to be closer to them and make them happy during the remainder of their lives, and look after them. Do not deprive them of your company, and do not be a cause of them grieving every time you bid farewell to them and travel. Whoever wants to honour them completely, let him fulfil their wishes and do what makes them happy. ‘Urwah ibn al-Zubayr interpreted the verse (interpretation of the meaning): “And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy” [al-Isra’ 17:24] by saying: Do not refrain from doing anything they want. End quote. Tafseer al-Tabari (17/418)

      Al-Bukhaari narrated in al-Adab al-Mufrad (18), in a report that was classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Adab al-Mufrad, from Abu Burdah that Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) saw a Yemeni man circumambulating the Ka’bah, carrying his mother on his back and saying, I am her humble camel, do you think that I have repaid her? Ibn ‘Umar said: No, not even one contraction.

      ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Ja’far said: I heard Bandar – who is one of the imams of hadeeth – say: I wanted to go out – i.e., to seek a hadeeth – and my mother told me not to, so I obeyed her, and I was blessed in that.

      Al-Dhahabi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in al-Siyar (12/144): he compiled the hadeeth of Basra and he did not travel, out of respect for his mother, then he travelled after she died. End quote.

      Ja’far al-Khaldi said: Al-Abbaar – Abu’l-‘Abbaas Ahmad ibn ‘Ali ibn Muslim (d. 290 AH) was one of the most ascetic of people. He asked his mother for permission to travel to Qutaybah – i.e., to hear hadeeth – and she did not give him permission; then she died, so he went out to Khurasaan, then he reached Balkh and Qutaybah had died. They offered him condolences for that, and he said: This is the result of knowledge; I chose to please my mother. End quote. Al-Siyar (13/443).

      Imam Ibn ‘Asaakir was asked about postponing travel to Isbahaan, and he said: I asked my mother for permission to travel there and she did not give me permission. End quote. Al-Siyar (20/567).

      Bishr al-Haafi said:

      The son who draws close to his mother so that he can hear his mother is better than the one who strikes with his sword for the sake of Allaah, and looking at her is better than everything. End quote. Al-Tabsirah by Ibn al-Jawzi (1/188).

      This is how our righteous predecessors were: they did not give precedence to any deed at all over honouring one’s parents and they did not feel that this entire world could make up for one of the parents needing the son and not finding him there.

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