Should Muslim Parents Let Their Children Freely Choose Their Religion?
  • Question:

    My Mother converted to Islam when she married my father but that union did not last and she no longer practices the religion. While I still respect her for that, I am now a mother myself and am trying to raise my son as a practicing Muslim. However, she keeps on telling me to let my son choose for himself whether he wants to remain Muslim. How do I respond to this in a respectable manner as I was always taught that Muslim parents have a responsibility to ensure their children grow up to be good Muslims?

    Assalamu Alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh

    Thank you for your question.

    You have three responsibilities in this situation:

    1. Raise your child to be a practicing Muslim, recognizing that he is a trust from God. Children need boundaries and limits, and imparting a clear sense of religious belonging and affiliation is a huge part of this. We are required to inculcate in our children love for God and His Messenger, God bless him and give him peace. There’s no way we can do that if we abdicate our responsibility and let them go it alone.

    2. Respectfully agree to disagree with your mother. I’m pretty sure that even if you sought counseling from someone outside the Islamic tradition, that person, if a professional, would aver that the religious upbringing of your child is the sole preserve of you and your husband. This is an area where your mother must respect your authority and defer to your wishes.

    3. Once you have provided a sound upbringing and given your child the tools to distinguish between right and wrong, truth and error, then it is up to him what he does as an adult. But as long as he’s a minor in your household, you have the right to raise him as you see fit and your mother–and any other family–should respect that.

    Continue to raise your child with the values you cherish!

    May Allah make things easy.

    Answered by Usthadha Zaynab Ansari

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