Nearly one in three children now live without a father in the UK, and as Abu Anisa explains, divorced Muslim fathers are also being denied the right to play a full role in their children’s lives.
Four hundred and twenty five days apart and still counting. Her name is Anisa and she is going to be four years old in September. And she is my world.
I am just one of many fathers who are going through a very painful journey of being separated from our children. According to Fathers 4 Justice, nearly four million children are fatherless in the UK, 200 children lose contact with their fathers every day in secret courts, and the cost of family breakdown every year is £44 billion.
But don’t believe that this is just a non-Muslim problem; it affects Muslims as well because Muslim fathers are being prevented from having access to their children by mothers and the courts. This despite Islam regarding it as morally wrong under normal circumstances for a mother or father to prevent the other parent from seeing, meeting and being involved with their child’s upbringing.
Yet I realised from the very start that I was going to be on my own. There was no help out there for fathers like me. No one spoke about it and although it’s something that is happening all around us, as Muslims we don’t seem to speak about the rights of fathers and their children when it comes to divorce. The only thing guaranteed is being judged by everyone.
We look for an Imam for our Nikkah but we run to the courts when it comes to the rights of our children. We fight against the very thing we preach – Islam.
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It’s not about parental responsibility or contact, access or child arrangement orders. The UK law gives us that, although many fathers even have to fight for that too. Yes, the UK law will eventually give us Muslims our God-given rights, but it’s the Muslims who fight against it. No mercy is the name of the game.
I worry with time this generation of Muslims will forget the true rights a father and a child. I’ve witnessed the hypocrisy of the outwardly pious Muslims who deny the rights of our own children but so publicly want to fight for the rights of Muslims around the world.
I never thought that I would be separated from my daughter and then Subhan’Allah I was. Alhamdulillah, even in pain and distance she is and will always be a beautiful blessing.
This whole journey has brought me closer to my Creator in ways I never knew existed within me. I have nothing but forgiveness towards the people who separate children from their fathers. But I also have this burning rage in my heart against this injustice.
Never in a million years did I think I would be tested like this. But I remind myself, we’re tested with what we love the most. And Anisa is my greatest love.
The other day I waited for her at the school gates. She showed me exactly what my heart so desperately wanted to see – she wanted to run to me so she looked up to her mum for approval but didn’t get it. But she still decided to run to me and no one could stop her, not that day. I decided at that moment that I’m would run an entire marathon the following day for her.
Where this path leads me I don’t know, but one thing is for sure – I am not going to become just another father who accepts this injustice against fathers and their children. I know how it feels, I’m living it every day.
This article was written by a Muslim father who is going through a court battle to secure custody of his child. The names of the father and the child have been changed to protect identities.