Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil
Question: Our children go to public school, where they have friends of all ethnicities. My husband, an immigrant himself, is blatantly racist. He often tells our daughters not to trust or befriend African Americans, Hispanics, etc. and forbids me to tell them otherwise.
How do I confront his racist views?
I pray this finds you well. May Allah grant you an easy opening in your dilemma, and soften your husband’s heart.
As with any disagreement in marriage, use your discretion, wisdom, and tact. Racist people don’t like to be told they are racist. It looks like your head-on approach is not working. Try a different strategy. Be the example to your daughters and your husband, by being kind and just to people from all backgrounds. Make dua that Allah softens his heart.
Have you asked your husband why he holds such strong views about race? Immigration to the West can be a traumatic experience for many. Many immigrants have been treated badly, and as a result, develop a very defensive mentality in order to protect themselves.
It sounds like your husband has a very patriarchal, cultural understanding of the role of the wife. This is all too common, unfortunately, due to lack of authentic Islamic education.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) treated his wives with respect and compassion. They were all strong, intelligent and capable women. Please enrol in Islamic Marriage: Guidance for Successful Marriage and Married Life when registration re-opens, to help you understand the role of the husband and wife in a successful Islamic marriage. It would be ideal if your husband could do this course too. Often, when husbands lack a convincing argument for an unreasonable and unislamic stance, they resort to saying “A wife must obey.”
Is it possible to come to a compromise with your husband when it comes to your children? If he does not want them to go to anyone’s house, can their friends come to yours? Reassure him that you will be present in the home when their friends visit, and if need be, he can be at home too. He sounds afraid of losing control, and as a result, he is exerting too much of it. Take the time and effort to reason with him, and remember that Allah is with the patient.
Keep up the conversation about race and difference with your daughters. Teach them how kindness to all ethnicities is pleasing to Allah. Be the example for them to look up to. InshaAllah over time, your husband’s attitudes towards race will lean towards that which pleases Allah. Never lose hope in Allah’s ability to soften hearts.
I pray that Allah softens his heart, grants you patience, and helps you guide your daughters to friendships which please Allah.
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Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani