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Amaliah Agony Aunt: My Relationship With My Sister Is Difficult

by in Relationships on 15th April, 2023

We know that Amaliah is like a Big Sis and sometimes our DMs have been filled with requests for advice on a range of life issues including relationships, friendships or work troubles.

We have started a new segment where we field dilemmas from the community and answer them as frankly as we can with love, truth and honesty.

Need some advice on a dilemma? Send them all here!

Dear Aunt Maya,

My relationship with my sister is difficult. We are at different stages in life: I’m studying, while she’s struggling to get a job. She’s generally a good person; she helped me get to where I am today, but she always thinks she’s right, in arguments and stuff, even when she’s not (and our mum knows it). 

I think there’s unresolved jealousy, because she always says things like ‘you’re not better than me just because you go to uni’, ‘stop getting too big for your boots’ etc. If I say I got a good grade on my assignment, she’ll resentfully say ‘I’m the one who got you there, remember.’ We’ve been clashing a lot recently (we have opposite personalities), and some of these clashes have turned into full-blown fights. Most of these fights centre around her trying to get closer than me, and getting hurt by my distance. 

The truth is, I find it hard to hold her in high regard, as she is quite rude. Especially our mum, who has health problems. She’ll be rude to our mum, and then turn to me with a smile, and sulk when I don’t really respond. She always says that what goes on between her and our mum is none of my business, but I just can’t respect or love her when I see her like that. I’m not saying I’m innocent in all of this, but I never really start anything either, I only respond. 

Even when we’re not fighting, I find it hard to start a conversation with her, for fear I’ll say something she won’t like. I don’t want to walk on eggshells, or fight, as it’s hard for the whole family. She even went to tarot readings (she’s into that sort of stuff, even though it’s haram) to ask about me (why I’m distant from her). I’m astounded at the fact that she can’t see her own mistakes, that she’s always the victim etc., and I’m worried that her going to tarot cards will have negative consequences on my studies; and my mum has pinned her hopes on me graduating and getting a good job (my sister dropped out and is struggling). Please help!

Maya Areem Responds:

Salaam alaykum,

Insha Allah you are well. 

Firstly I want to begin by wishing you the very best with your exams and graduating. May Allah grant you ease and success. Ameen

There are two main issues that stand out to me in this situation. The first is your sister’s behaviour towards you which you attribute to unresolved jealousy. While there may be a truth in this, it may be worth taking the time to unpack this to help you understand why your sister may be feeling this way and how it impacts her actions. From what you’ve mentioned, it seems that your sister is trying to exert control over her life by controlling others and trying to derive a sense of self worth from the achievements of others because she’s currently not able to do that as a result of her current circumstances (e.g. telling you that you’re not better than her for going to uni or that she’s the one who got you there). As the older sister, she may also be feeling a sense of shame or embarrassment that she doesn’t have her life under control and she perceives herself as “less successful” which makes her behave in this way and seek out methods (e.g. tarot cards) to try and make sense of her situation.

As a first step, I would encourage you to practise some compassion towards your sister and her circumstances – perhaps it might be worth inviting her out for a meal and checking in with her regularly or making time in your schedule to spend time with her to make her feel less alone and loved. However, you should also not be afraid to place boundaries and call your sister out when she oversteps the line or says hurtful things.

Secondly, regarding the issue with the tarot card, please remember there is no power higher and no might stronger than Allah. All power and might comes from Him alone. Your fear of these tarot cards in some way is you suggesting that they have power in your life when they don’t.  Allah is greater than anything in this world and the next, so stay firm on this belief. You do not need to fear tarot cards. Make dua for your sister to abandon this too. When the relationship improves, and it will, advise her in the best way you can. Perhaps asking questions to get her to think about engaging in such an activity may be the way forward. 

When it comes to family relationships we have to accept that there will be ups and downs like any other relationship but we must continuously and intentionally strive to connect and improve the relationship. Make dua for your relationship to improve and continue to reach out and connect with her. At the end of the day you will lose nothing by pleasing Allah and striving to maintain the bonds of kinship. 

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him maintain the bonds of kinship.”(Bukhari)

We have an article that offers tips on fixing the bonds of kinship that you can read. Here are a few points from it:

Be sincere

When you decide to strengthen the shaky bond between you and your relatives, ensure that your ultimate goal is to please Allah (SWT)

Advise in a loving way

“Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching…” (16:125)

Identify common links

Despite your religious differences, there are bound to be values, ideas, family traditions and hobbies which you have in common.

Exchange gifts

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Exchange gifts, for it increases love amongst people.” 

May Allah grant you success and ease in your family relationships. May Allah grant your mother shifa and ease. Ameen.

Love and duas,

Aunt Maya

If you would like some wisdom from Aunt Maya, send in your problems here! Please note Aunt Maya may consult the opinion of others from time to time and ask the Amaliah community for their advice too. Aunt Maya is not a licensed therapist or mental health professional.

Maya Areem

Maya Areem

Maya is a teacher by day and student by night. She hopes to pass on what she learns.