Question: I never had much of a relationship with my dad. He was physically and verbally abusive to my mom, and I spent my childhood hating him and being afraid of him. He is an alcoholic and seems mentally ill. He’s older now, and I do see and speak to him nicely a few times a year, but he wants a relationship while I do not. I am nice to him, but I feel fear and anxiety around him. I still have flashbacks of the trauma. Am I obligated to support him now? What is my duty?
Thank you for your question. I empathize with your pain and anxiety and I am sorry that you had to go through so much trauma as a child. I pray that you can recover from it and that it makes you stronger.
If your father is financially unable to support himself, his sons must equally share in supporting the father. If there are no sons or if they are unable, his daughters must share in this if they are able. Please see the details here:
https://islamqa.org/hanafi/daruliftaa/7933 [Is there any way to get this answer into seekersguidance answers? I use it a lot]
As for keeping a relationship with your father, you are doing the bare minimum, and your obligations are fulfilled. If your father is really unhappy, though, I might try a little harder to contact him just a bit more often. Perhaps once in two months instead of a few times a year. Remember that you can call or text him instead of seeing him each time and that should relieve your anxiety a bit. Please see these answers for more details:
Turn To Allah
As with any difficulty, turn to Allah, do not miss prayers, read some Qu’ran every day with the meaning, and fear Allah as much as you can. Channel your fear and anxiety into du’a to Him, and build your relationship with Him, Most High, before any other. Everything will get easier, by His grace. May Allah give you the best in this world and the next.
Given the considerations in such cases, please consult reliable local scholars about the specifics of the situation. Jazakum Allah khayr.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, tafseer, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She recently moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.