Immigration:Families Left Behind

22 06 2007

familymosque.jpgMany Immigrants in America have left their wives and children in their home countries. .This is not only prevalent with Muslims but with Non Muslim immigrants as well. I have watched several documentaries depicting Latino and Asian immigrants and their families. In eight out of ten cases the men had left their wives and/or children back in their native country. This is so common in countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam, and latin America that they have songs about it.

This has far reaching consequences. Not only are the family dynamics torn apart and women are often left as basically single mothers, but it also opens the door to infidelity.  I have come into contact with several women living in this situation and witnessed their husbands here in America. Some of these women haven’t seen their husbands in up to five years!

The wives who are left behind are often equal to single mothers recieving child support. The man will, insh’Allah, send the family money and gifts from time to time. Other than that though, the woman is left to raise the children herself. She will be the one who attends the school functions, who helps with the homework, who teaches the children moral (Islamic) values. The children grow up asking “when is daddy coming home?”. The mother is only able to respond “Insh’Allah(If Allah wills), soon.” I know of one particular woman whose daughter was playing with one of her friends. She asked her friend if she had a father and her friend replied in the affirmative. Then, the little girl said, I don’t have a daddy. Every year this little girl asks her mom if her father will be back in time for Eid (Islamic holiday).  The mom is only able to respond, “insh’Allah(If Allah Wills) .”

No doubt these men miss their families back home. Though, to fill the void many of them take on second wives and start new families. Now, don’t think this is only the case with Muslims. No way! The non Muslim immigrants do this as well. In fact, the non Muslim immigrants may take several girlfriends or turn to prostitutes. Thus opening the door to veneral diseases that they will pass around.  No doubt in Islam taking a second wife is acceptable but how is the man going to be fair to both families when he is not even in the same country as one wife?  The Prophet (Saw) warned men of not being fair to co-wives in regard to spending time etc.:

“You will never be able to do perfect justice between wives even if it is your ardent desire, so do not incline too much to one of them (by giving her more of your time and provision) so as to leave the other hanging (i.e., neither divorced nor married). And if you do justice, and do all that is right and fear Allaah by keeping away from all that is wrong, then Allaah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [al-Nisaa’ 4:129]

the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) in the hadeeth narrated by Abu Hurayrah: “Whoever has two wives and gives one of them preferential treatment, he will come on the Day of Resurrection with half of his body leaning.” (Narrated by Abu Dawud, 2/601; see also Saheeh al-Jaami’, 6491).

Then, what about the wife back home? No doubt she is feeling lonely and over-burdened. No doubt she wants a partner to share with her. No doubt there are men in her country who try to lure her into relationships with them. No doubt she’s tempted.  This is why in Islam everyone has rights. One of the most well known rights of the wife is the right of the husband’s time and intimacy and vice versa.

The Prophet  (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The conditions which are most deserving of being fulfilled are those by which it becomes permissible for you to engage in intimacy” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 2721; Muslim, 1418)

“O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under Allah’s trust and with His permission. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers. And it is your right that they do not make friends with any one of whom you do not approve, as well as never to be unchaste.” Taken from: The last sermon of our beloved Prophet Muhammed (SAW)

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “The most perfect man in his faith among the believers is the one whose behaviour is most excellent; and the best of you are those who are the best to their wives.”

Before, you get ill tempered with me and say I’m narrow-minded hear this: I’m not saying this is the case with ALL men.  I realize that in some countries the economy is so horrific that the only way to make money is to go abroad. I also realize that often it is impossible to get visas for the entire family. I know that these men probably have good intentions and their only objective is to make a better life for themselves and their family.  However, I have found that the men stay in the expat country far longer than necessary.  I have known brothers who own their own(established) business here in America as well as in their own country (which the wife runs). Still, this isn’t enough to return to their home country or try to bring their wives and children to join them? Why? Providing there are no immigration issues….their reluctance is due to either: A.) Greed.  Once they get here and see the dollar signs they become consumed with how much can I make? OR B.)They worry that if they bring their family here they won’t be able to support the whole family. Then, maybe they wonder, if I return home have I prepared enough? They worry that no matter how much assets they have it may not be enough to secure the family’s future. I’m sure this is the case with illegal  immigrants even more so than legal ones

I have also witnessed homecomings. They are often so joyous that one can not help but to shed tears upon seeing it.  I have noticed those men who left their children as babies and return when they are at least of pre-school age have a hard time bonding with their kids. Since the child doesn’t remember his/her father they are usually shy and awkward at first. However, usually within a matter of weeks the child is over joyed and showing off their daddy around town. Mash’Allah it is truly beautiful to see families reunite!

Family is so important in Islam that the punishment for breaking ties of kinship is severe: the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “No one who severs the ties of kinship will enter Paradise.” Narrated by Muslim in his Saheeh and the most loved thing by Shaytan is to split up a husband and wife. One of Iblees workers comes and tells him, “I did not leave [myvictim] until I brought about separation between him andhis wife.” Iblees draws him near, and says to him, “Yes! You (are the best!)” (Related by Muslim.)
This is a touchy topic for me.  I realize it is necessary and incumbant on the man to provide for his family and sometimes he must travel overseas to do so. Though, I can’t help but feel heartbreak for the women and children left behind. 




7 responses

22 06 2007

*Tears* Subhanallah this is heartbreaking!!!! I know of many people both Muslims and non-Muslims who have these sad stories and joyous reunions. Sadly though many of them are sad ones. I guess being a first generation American this really touches home for me. So many men take second wives have their wives in the home country and in the foreign country. But many of the stories I know the men forget about the first wife. I know of one marriage that the man came to the US to work and left his wife and 2 girls in his native country. Well he met someone here and abandoned his famiy over seas. I think men who do things like this are cowards and have no fear of Allah. Imagine the hardships some of these women confront because they are left in thin air with no where to turn. I mean if it’s a Muslim country she has to wait a certain time because she doesn’t know if she’s abandoned or not. Authubilahi, I’m not sure I could handle that. Jazak Allah Khairan Sis for sharing this post. Lots of Hugs 😉

22 06 2007


this is a very good story. it would be nice is your expand it to tell actual stories of some of these families.

22 06 2007

the life of an immigrant and his/her family is very tough. i don’t think that a non-immigrant can really understand the hard choices and sacrifices that immigrant families make.

24 06 2007

Assalamu’alaikummussalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

such story happened a lot in Singapore too where majority of the workers are from countries like, thailand, myanmar, indonesia, india and philippines. Most affected are the women esp. the foreign maids who came all the way, separated from their families, work hard to earn a living so that they can send the money over ….only to find out their husband enjoying the fruit of their labor and having affairs…

25 06 2007

“the life of an immigrant and his/her family is very tough. i don’t think that a non-immigrant can really understand the hard choices and sacrifices that immigrant families make.”

I think that is a cop out. Any story can be told, and any story can be understood by those with open hearts and clear minds.

25 06 2007
Umm Yusuf

Assalaamu Alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

Brother Hakim, thanks for the suggestions. Insh’Allah I will check with one family in particular and ask if they would mind me sharing their story. Stay tuned…

saya indah adik, 🙂 Subhan’Allah, those stories are so sad. I know of one Indonesian family in which this happend. The family was struggling horribly to survive. They had taken loans and had bills piliing up that they couldn’t pay. They needed ALOT of money which would have taken a lifetime to accumulate in Indonesia. So, the husband tried to apply for a VISA but was denied. As a last resort, the wife applied.So,the wife being indonesian/dutch was accepted. She left her husband and kids and came to the USA to work. She sent her paycheck every month to Indonesia only keeping a small portion for herself to eat and pay rent. Her husband told her everything was paid off. When her VISA expired she returned to Indonesia thinking that she had sent enough money to pay everything. When, she returned to Indonesia she found that her husband had taken 2 more wives!!! He told her that he had “forgotten” to tell her about the other wives. Subhan’Allah. Anyway, she divorced him and returned to the US with her kids and remarried here.

Carimuslimah, Yes, that is terrible when they abandon the wife and kids back home. I believe it is quite a long period that she has to wait too. Subhan’Allah.

As for non immigrants not being able to understand the situation…I think that depends on the person. Some people are very closed minded and those people may not be able to understand it. Also, I get that it’s hard to understand something or know what the person is feeling unless you are in their shoes. However, I have always had an open heart and mind, so I find it easy to symphathize with people and understand what they are feeling. Maybe I haven’t gone through it but I have had several close friends and some of my husband’s family members who have gone through this and have spoken to me about it openly.

27 06 2007

“When, she returned to Indonesia she found that her husband had taken 2 more wives!!!

subhana’allah, that is very disrespectful. I pray she and her children are in good health.

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