heroes and heroines of Islam

Why I Became a Seeker – Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

The path of seeking sacred knowledge opened up for me at a time when I needed it most. I was in my mid-twenties, my life was in turmoil, and my only solace lay in turning to Allah. There were deep fractures in my family, I was struggling with my medical studies, and I felt lost and unanchored. I knew that I hadn’t been putting Him first, and I was in a mess of my own making.
I asked a compassionate visiting scholar for advice, and she suggested that I come to Jordan and stay for a while, because Prophetic healing is deep. That’s how my journey started – by acknowledging my need to heal and making the intention to do so, through seeking life-giving sacred knowledge, at the hands of authentic scholars.
Throughout my stay in Jordan, I made friends with fellow seekers from different parts of the world. I was so excited to meet scholars who were women, too. The teachers I learned with embodied qualities like mercy, generosity, and patience. I could feel my anxieties lifting just from the company I was keeping, and the sacred knowledge I was learning. It was so restorative for me to sit in Seerah, Shafi’i fiqh, Arabic and Tajweed classes.
I had planned to return to my medical studies in Sydney after I graduated from the 2009 Shifa Summer Program, but Allah had other plans for me. After istikhara, consultation and reflection, I decided to leave medical school entirely, and trust that Allah would grant me better. I ended up staying in Jordan for almost two years, and had taken the first few steps towards living a more God-centered life. Alhamdulilah, when I finally put Allah first, He made a way out for me.
When I returned to Sydney, I was offered a teaching position at a local Islamic Centre. Shaykh Hamza Karamali gave me permission to teach from the Maqasid, and so I began to teach my first class in introductory Shafi’i fiqh. I marvelled at how only a few years beforehand, I was the one who struggled to find answers to fiqh questions, especially in regards to menstruation. Through the Generosity of Allah, I was able to help other seekers of knowledge with their fiqh questions.
I am now living in Malaysia with my husband, baby daughter and mother-in-law. I haven’t taught fiqh since my pregnancy, but I do answer questions through the SeekersHub Question and Answer service. I come across all kinds of questions from Muslims all over the world. The one thread linking these questions is a disconnection from authentic scholarship. The manifestation of this is a constant theme of Muslims in terrible situations: wives who are abused by husbands, husbands who are neglected by wives, children abused by parents, parents estranged from children – the list goes on. It’s so heartbreaking, and it’s easy to get swept up in the despair of it all. My role is to remind myself and others to have a good opinion of Allah, and offer practical, compassionate solutions grounded in sacred law. So much of the pain I see can be remedied by connecting to Prophetic character, and by actually being aware of what Allah expects from us in different situations.
The questions that come to me remind me so much of my past turmoil. Things only got better for me after I connected myself with life-giving, sacred knowledge, through the hands of authentic scholars, who are the heirs of the Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace). If you’re reading this, then I encourage you to seek out sacred knowledge, too. No matter where you are in life, I pray that you too can benefit tremendously from at least one of SeekersHub’s courses. At the very minimum, get a solid foundation in your personally obligatory knowledge according to one school of thought, so that your acts of worship are sound and valid. Furthermore, one of my teachers reminded me that it’s obligatory to learn the fiqh behind marriage if someone is about to get married. This applies across the board, to whatever we find ourselves facing in life:
If you’re thinking of getting married, are married, or are considering divorce, I urge you to complete this course Islamic Marriage: Guidance for Successful Marriage and Married Life.
If you are expecting a baby, or already have children, please enrol in this course: Islamic Parenting: Raising Upright ChildrenRaising children in a world like ours can seem like a daunting task, unless we connect with scholars who are experienced parents too.
If you have parents who are still alive, no matter how difficult your relationship with them is, I urge you to complete this course, The Rights of Parents This course strikes a deep chord with me, because I was estranged from my father for some time. Now that he is the only grandfather to my baby daughter, I make it a point to maintain ties with him, as challenging as that can be. As many adult children of divorce can attest to, parental divorce is traumatising, and the wounds run deep. Despite that, our obligations towards our parents remain.
I pray that SeekersHub courses will be as beneficial for you as they have been for me. Please share them with your loved ones, and may we all draw closer to Allah through our efforts!