Category Archives: Sisters Mag discussions

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Convert for Marriage? – Reverts’ identity.

stars storm

 

In May’s edition of Sisters Mag, Anisah Jameel-Hardy talks about turning to Allah for the first time, and having her duas answered in her article “Guidance through the stable door“. The imagery of a sister at rock bottom looking to the stars and realising the proof of the Creator, seeing the signs all around, is a profound one, reminiscent of the story of Ibrahim alayhi salaam as a child (this is one of my children’s favourite bed time stories). As such it has a deeper significance to Muslims.

However what really touched me about her article, is the involvement of her husband in her reversion story.

So many of us reverts knew our husbands before marriage, and feel our husbands were instrumental in leading us to the deen. We feel that we learnt and grew in our Islam together, and both came to an understanding that for the sake of akhirah and to please Allah nikkah was the best way.

But we are also ashamed.

Sometimes we can feel as if our reversion is somehow seen as fake by others, and our reasons for coming to Islam doubted. People often just ask if you knew your husband before marriage. They are not interested in the intricacies, they are not interested in the time you were apart as you knew zina was haram. They just make assumptions, judgments  based on a person that you no longer are.

Then we sometimes stop telling our reversion story. Or leave out and gloss over our husbands’ involvement in it, emphasize the break in our relationships. It is almost as we feel the need to defend or justify ourselves.

Comments such as “what sort of reverts did they show on that tv programme, they all reverted for marriage, not proper reverts, I reverted not having met a single Muslim” are thrown about on facebook and on forums.

Well that’s great for you. However Allah guides who He wills in the ways which He wills. Sometimes haram relationships are the cause of both parties coming to Islam.

Of course you cannot make the halal haram. But there is a difference between trying to do this, and repenting, renewing your intention, and nikkah for the sake of Allah.

So my feelings are that sister Anisah was very brave in telling the world her story. In admitting she wasn’t a saint in jahiliyya. In letting people know she did wrong, and understands she did wrong, but Allah was on her side and answered her duas, and showed her undeniable proof of Islam.

I went through stages in my reversion. First I would tell everyone everything about me, as that was the only identity I knew, and so much of my self was based on jahil things. Then I denied everything about before I was Muslim, pretended it didn’t exist. Alhamdulillah, know I have come to the realisation that although I cannot understand or identify with the girl I was before, although I do not recognise her, she is still me, her experiences still shaped the person who I am now. I will not pretend I was an angel, but I will not rely on her for my identity either.

I guess after 8 years, I have finally found my own identity. Not as a mother or wife, but as me. After not knowing who me was for so long now I know who I am and what I stand for. Alhamdulillah.

InshaAllah due to sister Anisah sharing her story, others will feel more comfortable with their own.

May Allah unite the Ummah and keep us all on the straight path.

Inspirational women

Inspirational women

Who inspires me?

There are many sisters who inspire me.

They are not movie stars, or acadmics,

they are not famous or acclaimed.

They are ordinary women living their every day lives.

They see nothing special or praiseworthy in their achievements.

But the things they do, the strength they have, is something that inspires me.

Their selflessness and dedication, their desire to please Allah.

They are the woman who take care of their elderly inlaws, for no praise, despite being constantly admonished.

They do it for the sake of Allah not the sake of people.

Even when the whole family blames them for accidents and illness despite the fact they were not there for the parent only she was..

These sisters do not say “no more” they carry on steadfast in their duties.

SubhanAllah I couldn’t do it.

There is the sister who despite being abused by her mother in law still massages her and goes to her in the night to ease her pain.

And now her mother in law has thrown her out and her husband stands by doing nothing, but even when seeking help and removing herself from oppression she will not backbite her mother in law, and makes excuses;

“It is her pain, her illness, she is old….”

There is the sister whose husband was removed from her side while she was pregnant, whose house was constantly searched,

yet she travelled with her two kids every week to her husbands new city and help him start dawah in that place.

There is the sister who manages her house, her children, looking after her mother in law and helps her husband run a charity for Orphans.

There is the sister who stuck by her husband in the bad times, despite what people said, and now has raised five beautiful children. She said she trusted Allah, she knew it was her test.

There is the sister who sold ice at the side of the road, in the heat, with her kids, who worked in a shop while pregnant and gave birth in the store room,

the many sisters we pass every day who have fled war, and lived with their children in refugee camps.

The sister whose brother has died, and years later her mum still cries every day, she makes sure she is always available for her mum, even while looking after her kids, her husband and her home.

These are sisters you wouldn’t know, you would pass them in the street, they don’t look particularly pious, or exceptional, or hardworking,

they are normal women living their every day lives,

but to me they are inspirational.

Inshallah I can learn from them.

May Allah grant me the strength, sabr and imaan of these sisters.

Motivated mindset in marriage

Sayeda Habib’s article on Synergistic living in the April edition of Sisters Mag really got me thinking. She asked readers to consider four questions;

How do I view human beings and the world in general?

Do I go out of my way to ensure I have a positive effect of others?

How much do I notice the effect I have on others?

And

What are three things I can do right now to have a better relationship with people and the world?

lately I have been thinking about motivated mindsets mainly due to a Facebook page called Adnan Inspired. At first I didn’t get it. I even commented on one of his status
“just saying it doesn’t make it true”.
Alhamdulillah he didn’t get offended but replied with hikmah
“these quotes are meant to create a motivated mindset”.
So what is a motivated mindset? how can it effect our lives? And what has it got to do with synergystic living?

Sometimes we let our thoughts run away from us. We let our minds be cloudy or unsettled. We react irrationally or emotionally to things we shouldn’t. But our minds are not us. Our minds are not our essence, they are another part of us, like a limb. Our minds don’t control us, we can control our minds. We can create new synapses and pathways in our brain. Programme it to respond in different ways to events and experiences.

This is the essence of a positive mindset. Basically “fake it ’till you make it!”

When it comes to our relationships, with our spouses, our parents, our children, our in laws, we tend to already have preset reactions to differing types of situation. If our husbands are grumpy, you will deal with it based on your knowledge and experiences of the past times he was grumpy. If your children are upset you will react the way you have learnt calms them down the quickest. But sometimes this may be doing our relationships a disfavour. By being reliant on the past we may make it difficult to move on. Obviously we learn from experience and have to keep that in mind. But we also have to recognise and acknowledge change and effort.

Sometimes children change. For example they become practicing, yet parents still treat them and think of them the same way they did a year ago. In doing so they make the journey their child is going through harder. Instead of supporting them, it may seem like they feel it is only a phase and are just waiting for them to fail and go back to their old lifestyle.

Of course some of this reaction is a safety mechanism. Some of it is a preset reaction to situations based on the person you were before, instead of the person you are trying to be now. To the child it just seems like their parents are against them and don’t believe In them or support them.

We can also do the same thing to our spouses. We know they have good intentions, and are trying to change, but we are on autopilot and just fall in to learnt responses and reactions. As busy mothers and wives there is hardly time for more in depth consideration of our behaviour. But maybe sometimes we are acting on what we think we know, and not what is really happening.

So how can we prevent this?

By going back to the four questions.

How do I view my husband and my life in general?

Take a moment to consider this. Then consider if it is fair. If the actions he has done lately match up to the way you consider him, or if maybe you are viewing him based on the way he acted last year, last month, or when you were newly weds!

Also think of your life. Do you feel generally positive or negative? Can you pinpoint what makes you feel down? What would you like to be different, in your homelife, your worship, your work? Are you proud of your achievements? Do you take enough credit? How often do you allow yourself a pat on the back, and tell yourself you have done well? All these things will help create a healthy positive mindset and a healthy relationship. Never berate yourself too harshly or beat yourself up.

Do I go out of my way to have a positive effect on my husband?

Do you motivate him? Are you appreciative enough of what he tries to do? Could your reactions and behaviour towards him be more positive? Again think of small things you could do. Maybe make more cups of tea! Notice when he is trying, even if he is making a big deal,out of it or breaking the dishes while washing them, or burning a boiled egg, you can still try and have a positive effect on him. Acknowledge his intentions. Encourage him.

How much do I notice the effect I have on my husband?

You are not in control of others behaviour. But you are in control of your own mind and your own behaviour. You can change the way you act, and it is likely if you change the way you act that will have an effect on your interactions with those around you. They may change their responses. So try and notice if you can see any patterns. If you act in a certain way what effect does that have on your husband? If you change that action does it have a better outcome? My dad used to tell me “smile and the whole world will smile with you”. Try it! It is scientifically proven if you are sad and you force yourself to smile your mood improves! When the sun shines it brightens up the day of everyone it shines on! Cheesy I know, but aim to be the sun!

What three things can I do to have a better relationship?

Now you have thought about quite a lot in the first three questions, it may have taken some time. Maybe a few days to learn to notice the effect you have, and to fully contemplate and reflect on your behaviours and mindset. Now it is time to make a change. Now don’t give yourself too much. Think of three small simple things that you could do. Maybe force yourself to smile In the mornings! Maybe put on make up once a week. Maybe count to ten before you speak whe. You are feeling emotional, or saying thank you and jazakallah khayr to your husband more often. And remember don’t beat yourself up. If you find it hard and slip up, it only natural, you are human not superwoman! And old habits die hard! So just tell yourself you will try and do better next time. Focus on successes, not failures, and Inshallah you will soon see your positive mindset Make a difference!

Healing a community

sisters magazine march 2013

When reading this months feature in sisters magazine on Domestic violence and the charities that are trying to work within our communities to combat this, I couldn’t help but reflecting on my own experiences.

Domestic violence is something prevalent in the community I live in. Most recently. on wednesday as sister cam to me asking for help. She was visible worried and distressed. She was also talking to the family support worker at the local children’s centre. After I spoke to her I sent this email to National Zakat FOundation,

Asalaamu alaykum sisters

I hope you and family are in best of health and iman.
A sister came to me today to ask for help, she is in bad situation. She is currently living with her mother in law brother in law husband and kids, and her mum has recently moved in as she had nowhere to live. The mother in law has always been abusive towards her. Her brother in law is a heroin addict and is constantly angry, stealing money, stealing things from the house and selling it. Her husband smokes weed all night and sleeps all day. Her mother in law has told her that she has 2 weeks to leave the house. Her husband said leave, and didnt help her. She has been to council who say they cannot house her go to estate agents. However she hasnt got any deposit and hasnt got access to her own bank account and child benefit.
I was wondering if there is anyway you could help. The sisters name is
Also the family support worker from the childrens centre is constantly facing situations of Muslim women in need of help and support. SHe is not an expert in social work or anything like that, and was requesting a contact number which she could refer people to in cases of need. Is it possible you have a contact that I could give her inshallah?

jazakallah khayr
Naila

alhamdulillah, a brother from National Zakat foundation contacted her the same day.

As a member of the community I do not know how to support these women, I cannot provide for them. I cannot advise their husbands. And for some reason our husbands are reluctant to get involved. Where are the men? Are men only the protectors and maintainers of their own women? and of course when it comes to those women in Palestine, and Syria and Bangladesh then people use the rhetoric “they are raping our sisters and mothers”. But next door your sister is also being raped, in her own home, by the man who is supposed to be her maintainer and protector. You don’t know. If you do know then you feel powerless to stop it. Why is this? where are the men?

Alhamdulillah for the men of NZF who are strong enough to get involved.

As a member of the community I am grateful for NZF and Nour DV, I know that when these women come to me, I have somewhere I can get them the help they need, somewhere who will understand and respect their Islam.

We all give charity abroad, so many people say there are no poor people in our country. But this is not true. There are those who need our help. Our neighbours have rights over us.

May Allah strengthen the Ummah.

“Why does a white American women need to overcome racism”

Sisters Magazine, January 2013In Laura El ALam’s article in Sisters Magazine Jan 2013 she explains

Whereas these days in the U.S it is politically incorrect to discriminate against people of colour, Muslims are fair game. We are ridiculed in the media, denounced by politicians and preachers and singled out for suspicion at airports. Few non- Muslims are insightful enough to that is the same, old ugly cycle of hatred and bigotry spinning again, with Muslims as the targets.

I don’t know about the reality of the situation of Muslims within the US. I have no experience of it. What I do know is that the administration of the USA has always used the tool of a common enemy, a threat to the American way of life, as integral to civil religion within the USA. Hatred against the enemy, whoever it is, acts as a tool for social cohesion, reinforcing the American ideals of freedom and democracy, highlighting a sense of belonging and patriotism. It is “us against them”, and we are going to protect the rest of the world against them. This created war, diverts the population, from the issues at home. “At least this is not Afghanistan and our kids go to school”. It also diverts billions of dollars of funds from being spent on supporting their own citizens. Instead of spending on health and education, we spend on drones and tanks.

So where as others say the treatment of Muslims reminds them of the struggles of African Americans, to me it reminds me of McCarthyism. Turning citizens against each other, making them paranoid to the point that they are afraid of anyone who has even vague connections with the enemy. Surveillance and set ups.

But what do Islam and Communism have in common?

They are both against Capitalism and democracy.

They both provide alternative systems for governance.

This is why Islam is so dangerous to those in power.

This is really about creeping Shariah!

Those who are against the nations government and ruling system are seen as traitors.

Now if the American bigwigs see shariah and Islam as a threat, why are so many of us Muslims so sure that there will never be a shariah run state?

Could it be possible?

Do you belittle…

Do you belittle dua’a and discount it
While not knowing what the prayer accomplishes?
The arrows of the night do not miss their target.
They might have a delay, but the delay then comes to an end.

Imam al-Shafi’i Rahimahullah

When Your Dua is answered!

When your dua is answered is an amazing feeling.

As a new Muslim, recently married, my whole lifestyle changed, I was lonely. I vraved companionship and friendship and the company of sisters.

I had tried many things, forums, going to lectures, attending classes. But a lot of the time it seemed like the whole world was a school playground. Everyone already had formed their cliques, and I wasn’t in them. In the classes everyone seemed to be family friends, knowing each other from birth. In the lectures I would try and smile and make eye contact, but all the sisters were too busy with kids or in their own conversations to notice a lone sister with a child. At toddler groups there were many I said hi to and talked to, but I just couldn’t seem to make that jump from casual acquaintance to a friendship.

At that time I was cautious of making dua. I have tawakkul. I know that Allah swt has a plan for me, and that what is written will come. I felt that I was not worthy to ask Allah swt for anything. He swt had given me so much, and I had done so little in return. I was not perfect, I had issues wiith my fardh, how could I ask Allah swt for anything? I did not deserve it.

Also I felt that maybe the things I could ask for would not be what was best for my akhirah. Like I could make dua for my husbands back to be better, and it would benefit us in this life, but at the same time maybe the suffering he is going through now, is cleansing his sins to prevent suffering in the akhirah.

Allah’s Messenger, peace be upon him, said: “For every misfortune, illness, anxiety, grief, or hurt that afflicts a Muslim -even the hurt caused by the pricking of a thorn – Allah removes some of his sins.” Ibn Mas’ud said: “I visited the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, while he had a fever. I exclaimed: ‘O Messenger of Allah! You have a high fever! ‘ He said: ‘My fever is as much as two among you [might have]. ‘ I asked: ‘Is it because you have a double reward?’ He replied: ‘Yes, that is right. No Muslim is afflicted with any hurt, even if it is no more than the pricking of a thorn, but Allah wipes off his sins because of it and his sins fall away from him as leaves fall from a tree’.”

so, would asking for his back to be better be beneficial? I do not know.

So I thought about the thing I wanted carefully. What did I want to ask for? I wanted friends, company, but not just any company, the company of practicing sisters who would encourage me in my Islam and benefit my akhirah. I looked at this from different angles, but I could not find anything wrong with the thing I wanted to ask for. So then I started making the dua, after every salaah I lifted my hands and asked Allah swt to send me practicing friends.

And He swt did. After just two days a random sister at my daughters nursery came and asked me if I wanted to join them for lunch. SubhanAllah, to me that simple, short interaction was a miracle. After years of trying and getting nowhere, suddenly I didn’t even try and it occurred  I did not go that day, but since then there have been many lunches and get togethers alhamdulillah. I knew these sisters were sent from Allah. There were times I became uncertain of their affiliations, nothing major, just curious. However I knew they were the answers to my dua, and I put my trust in Allah swt.

Although I don’t see them that often anymore, it doesn’t change anything.It doesn’t cause a distance between us. Also Allah provided me with more sisters, who encourage me and motivate me in different ways.

Alhamdulillah for sisterhood,

This is the way Allah answered my duas. This is my small miracle. What is yours?

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