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Ramadan Rejuvenation for Kids | A Puppet Show on the Shifa – Ustadha Shireen Ahmed

In this Ramadan daily series for young children, educator Ustadha Shireen Ahmed gives daily lessons from the Shifa of Qadi Iyad on the character and virtue of the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace). The story is told from the perspective of a student of Qadi Iyad, who explains the text to his young son Mahmud. These episodes feature unique puppets which explain the lessons in story format to make them easier for young children to follow. This series streams daily this Ramadan at 9:30am ET at https://seeke.rs/live.

Click here to download the colouring page.

Click here to view the full playlist.

Draw Near to Allah in Ramadan Through Service – Ustadha Umm Umar

Ustadha Umm Umar reminds us of incorporating the aspect of service in Ramadan as a means of drawing near to Allah Most High. She advises to not make Ramadan just revolve around one’s self, rather to also be concerned with others and their needs. Ustadha Umm Umar gives key advice and practical methods on how to engage in service through Ramadan.

I wanted to talk about another aspect of Ramadan that sometimes we forget. Often people think of Ramdana as my month. It‘s between me and Allah. Then they sort of annihilate the idea of doing goodness to others. It’s about me and my time with Allah. About how much time I can put in with the Qur’an. And then when we talk about service some people get a little bit bitter.

Especially the sisters. They’re like, well, why do I have to be the one to do this? why do I have to be the one to cook the iftar? I’d like to spend all day reading Qur’an. It’s sort of losing sight of what Ramadan is really about. And what the the scholars today talked and emphasized a lot is the love of Allah Most High. And rectifying the self. Turning to Allah and asking for His forgiveness.

But these two concepts do not contradict each other. Rather they run in parallel. Because it’s when we turn help each other, help fellow believers, and it’s all done out of love for Allah, that we manifest that love. That we love to have His creation turned to Him. And if there is anything we can do to help other people turn towards Allah we should run to that opportunity. Whether that be to people in our own family, whether it be our children, whether it be members of our community. We should be avid to do what we can to help other people.

Balance Service and Self

That being said, it needs to be balanced of course, because you can’t just spend all of your Ramadan running around serving other people with neglect to oneself. One needs that personal time where you’re turning to Allah. Reading the Qur’an with reflection and understanding. Spending time reading other beneficial material or listening to beneficial lectures. Benefiting the self.

But there are a lot of things, there is a lot of extra time in the day, in which one can do things for other people. And as our teachers say, it’s almost as if there’s a sale during Ramadan, because now actions that you do are multiplied. Good actions that you do, even reading the Qur’an – all the good things that you can think of doing are multiplied. So it is best to take advantage of this time .

And doing what you can to help other people is also part of making the most of one’s time. It is not that one spends a little time in intensive worship and then closes the book and goes to relax, and just sort of vegetate for part of the day. Or one decides to go to sleep for another part of the day. One strives to make the most of every moment. As we should on every other day of the year.

We should make the most of all parts of our day on a daily basis. Even when we get up from this gathering we should be striving to make the most of our lives as believers. To make all of our moments count for us and not against us.

Primary Benefits of Service

There are three primary benefits of service. One is that it erases your past sins. When you do things for other people these things get erased. So there is nothing better you can ask for. We’ve all made mistakes in the past and would do anything to not face Allah with those on our record. And by His mercy He can forgive a lot of those things when you’re serving other people with that intention.

Another benefit of doing service at this time is that you get the dua of fasting people. When you’re doing things to benefit them you’re earning their dua. And Allah knows whose dua is accepted. When you’re doing it for a number of people, that includes even small children, know that when we do things for other people they make a dua for you.

The Hidden Secret of Service

And perhaps that single dua from one single person, child or adult, known or stranger, is the reason for your success. It might not be all of these customs that you’ve done in the past or all of these other things. It might be the dua of one elder in the community that you helped in a real time of need. Allah has this knowledge. It is with Allah Most High.

It’s a hidden secret in our service to other people that we don’t know where where our ultimate success will lie. And with what action and with what person. That leaves us continuously striving to do our best at every moment.

And finally the third aspect of service is that the deeds are multiplied during Ramadan. So one might be doing things for other people at other times of the year but in Ramadan these deeds are actually multiplied. They weigh heavier on your record. So strive in this regard and in sha Allah the reward for your service will be multiplied.

 

 

Parents Matter More Than Peers – Shaykh Hamza Karamali

* Courtesy of basiraheducation.org

Muslim Reflections on Leonard Sax’s The Collapse of Parenting

We want to transfer our religious values to our children. We want them to love Allah and His Messenger, to live moral lives, to be responsible and hardworking, to pray for us after we leave this world, and to bring joy to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) on the Day of Judgment.

But our surrounding culture works against us.

Leonard Sax argues that our surrounding culture works against us because (a) it teaches our children to value their same-age peers more than their parents and (b) it teaches us to treat our children like grown-ups.

Here’s an example from his book.

“Megan and Jim, both forty-something parents, had planned a four-day ski vacation between Christmas and New Year’s. Their 12-year-old daughter, Courtney, politely declined to join them. “You know I’m not crazy about skiing,” she said. “I’ll just stay at Arden’s house for those four days. Her parents said it’s OK. They have a spare guest room and everything.” So her parents went on the ski vacation by themselves, and Courtney spent four days at the home of her best friend. “I didn’t mind. In fact, I was pleased that Courtney could be so independent,” Megan told me.” (Leonard Sax, The Collapse of Parenting (Basic Books, New York: 2016 ), pp. 27-8)

Because of her surrounding culture, which teaches her to value her peers more than her parents, Courtney valued spending time with her friend more than with her parents. Because of the same culture, which teaches parents to treat their young children as grown-ups, her parents thought they were doing a good thing by letting her be independent. Because Courtney’s parents validated her belief that her friends matter more than her parents, she will be drawn to her friend’s values more than her parent’s. And because the surrounding culture has also cut her friend off from her parents, both Courtney and her best friend Arden will learn the “values” of the “culture of disrespect” that I described in my previous post.

The culture that surrounds us as Muslim parents is the same as the culture that surrounds Megan and Jim. The challenges that we face raising our children are the same as theirs. And the solutions, too, at a high-level, are the same.

The high-level solution is for us to develop a strong family culture in which both parents and children believe that parents (in a Muslim context, the mother even more than the father) are more important than the children’s same-age peers. If Courtney (you can replace her name with “Fatima”) had been part of that strong family culture, she would not have wanted to spend those four days with her friend; she would have wanted to spend them with her parents on their ski-vacation. And her parents would understand that if she wanted to spend those four days with her friend rather than with them, that was not a sign that she had grown up and become independent; it was a sign that they were failing in their goal to transfer their values to her.

That is why, when a man asked the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace), “Who is most deserving of my good companionship?” He replied, “Your mother.” When he asked, “Then who?” he replied, “Your mother.” When he asked again, “Then who?” he replied again, “Your mother.” When he asked a fourth time, “Then who?” he replied, “Your father.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Leonard Sax argues that the key to developing this strong family culture is building parental authority. That, insha’Allah, will be the subject of my next message.

I encourage all of you to buy the book, read it, follow along as I explain, and please ask your questions here. Every week, I will select one of your questions to answer in this message.


Basira Education

Our mission is to develop intelligent and conservative Muslims whose grounding in the Muslim scholarly and spiritual traditions enables them to critically integrate modern science and culture into their religious worldview.


 

Announcing the SeekersGuidance Youth Certificate

Children and Sinful Parents

Answered by Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan

Question: Assalam alaykum,

I’ve been told that children may become ill and undergo tribulations because of the wrongdoings of the parents. I’d like to know if there’s any truth to this in Islam? My mother in law blames my husband for the sickness of my children.

Answer: Wa alaykum al-Salam

Shukran for writing to us.

The general rule within our sacred law is that no soul will suffer the sin of another. Allah says in the Glorious Quran, “And no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another” [35:18]. Accordingly, it is incorrect of your mother in law to blame her son for the illness of her grandchildren.

That being said, the actions and lifestyle of parents inevitably have an impact on the children. Most of their learning is observation, and more than often, children adopt the way of their parents. Also, it is possible that through the good deeds of parents that Allah may keep harm away from children, however, the knowledge of this lies with Allah, and no human being can directly attribute the harm afflicted upon a child, to the lack of good deeds of the parent.

May Allah grant your children complete cure, may He remove their pain, grant them piety and make them the coolness of your eyes, Amin.

And Allah knows best
Wassalam
[Shaykh] Abdurragmaan Khan

Shaykh Abdurragmaan
received ijazah ’ammah from various luminaries, including but not restricted to: Habib Umar ibn Hafiz—a personality who affected him greatly and who has changed his relationship with Allah, Maulana Yusuf Karaan—the former Mufti of Cape Town; Habib ‘Ali al-Mashhur—the current Mufti of Tarim; Habib ‘Umar al-Jaylani—the Shafi‘i Mufti of Makkah; Sayyid Ahmad bin Abi Bakr al-Hibshi; Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf; Shaykh Mahmud Sa’id Mamduh; Maulana Abdul Hafiz al-Makki; Shaykh Ala ad-Din al-Afghani; Maulana Fazlur Rahman al-Azami and Shaykh Yahya al-Gawthani amongst others.

Playing Kids, Praying Adults: A Taraweeh Lesson – Saad Razi Shaikh

Ramadan is a good time to teach children. And to learn from them.

 

Those who spend (of that which Allah hath given them) in ease and in adversity, those who control their wrath and are forgiving toward mankind; Allah loveth the good. (3:134)

Sometime in early Ramadan, our blessed mosque was hit with an expected Taraweeh problem. This was a menace many foresaw, but few had the stomach to tackle it. The problem was of children. Yes, children running around Taraweeh, screaming their lungs out, creating a racket not unlike birds on an early morning. Elders were distraught, they were bound by the obligation to be kind to children, while at the same time they desired a hassle-free Taraweeh. It took two spirited warnings from the Imam to cut the din out and restore some normality. Save for the odd kid, still merrily gliding from the stair rails, the prayers went about with little disturbance.

My own thoughts on the matter were torn between two urges. The first was to show patience and mercy to the kids. The next, more pressing desire, was to send them back home. Surely, there had to be some decorum in the mosque? Kids need to be taught by their parents as much, I reasoned. Otherwise, how on earth were the worshipers supposed to pray? The mosque would not be reduced to a child’s playground.

But this line of argument couldn’t hold for long. If the children were not praying, rather playing during the prayers, it was because they did not know any better. Their nature was not attuned to silence and attention, and they fell easy prey to distraction. One mischievous glance would bounce off from one child to the other, an elbow jab, a back slap, all before it would spread into a full-blown pandemonium. The children were just acting upon their distractions.

Acting upon their distractions. These words stuck to my mind, for they made me uncomfortable. As an adult, I knew the importance of the prayers. I knew the importance of attention. I had been taught the manners regarding the prayer. Yet my prayers were far from perfect. At the spiritual level, particularly retaining to attention and reflection, I knew my prayers fell well short of the desired levels. Was it not true that my mind wavered often? On particularly tiring days, did my attention not slacken? The more I reflected on my own shortcomings, the more the noise of the children receded away from my mind. For while both the children and I were distracted, falling woefully short in our prayers, the distraction of the children was visible. Mine wasn’t. That was the lone difference between us.

Imam Ghazali, in his characteristic brilliance, mentioned in ‘The Beginning of Guidance’ that one shouldn’t see oneself as being superior to anyone else, even children. He writes:

‘If you see a child, you should say [to yourself], “This child has not transgressed against Allah, and I have, so certainly he is better than me.”

‘If you see an ignorant person, say, “This person has transgressed against Allah most high in ignorance, while I have done so knowingly, so Allah’s evidence against me is greater. And what do I know about what my final state [at death] will be and what his state will be?’

This short piece is not intended as a manual on how to go about dealing with children in mosques. Rather, it is about how the pulls and the triggers of everyday can serve as a means to check ourselves, who we are and where we are in our standing with our Lord. We often fall prey to the slightest provocations, the slightest turn away from the expected norm. Things often ‘rub us the wrong way’. Ire is predictable as the first line of reaction. But if we restrain for a moment, and prevent the worst of our impulses from bursting out, we could look into the clues the situation is providing us.

Abu Huraira reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, I was sent to perfect good character.Ramadan is the perfect month to better ourselves, to begin anew, to hold our tongues, to watch what we do, to reflect on what can be the better course of action. If the kids are creating a racket, perhaps it’s a test to see which one of us will show mercy to them, which one of us will rise to the Prophetic ethos and show the best of character. It’s easy to lose our patience, if not our minds. But as the Prophet ﷺ reminded us, ‘Circumspection brings nothing but the good.’ We need to remember this, in thought and action. We need to be those who remember the rank of forbearance, as ‘forbearance (hilm) is the best of character’. And that’s a struggle. But without the inner struggle, how will we improve?  

These are reflections, meant as a reminder, a ‘pull-up-your-socks’ moment first and foremost for my own self. Would I be more comfortable with silence during prayers? Certainly. Would I have improved as a person if the calmness of my own mind overcomes the noises outside it? Most certainly. This is the aim, Inshallah. And Ramadan is a great time to intend it sincerely, in thought and practice. May Allah make us those who are patient, who are kind, who are attuned to the Prophetic ethos, particularly in showing mercy, to ourselves and to others.


Saad Razi Shaikh is a journalist based in Mumbai. He writes on popular culture and community initiatives. He can be reached on Twitter @writweeter


 

10 Ways of Benefit for Menstruating Women in Ramadan

Dread your period during the blessed month of Ramadan? Feel like you’re missing out on all the worship you could otherwise do? As Nour Merza writes, there is much to look forward to.

Every Ramadan, most women will have about a week in which they are unable to join in the major religious practices of the holy month: fasting and praying. Many women, when their menstrual period begins, find that their level of engagement with the high spiritual atmosphere of the month drops. The same goes for those whose postnatal bleeding coincides with Ramadan. For many of these women, frustration and a sense of lacking spirituality sets in.

This, however, shouldn’t be the case.

Menstruation, postnatal bleeding, and other uniquely feminine concerns are all part of Allah’s creation, which He created in perfect wisdom. They are not a punishment for women wanting to draw near their Lord. They are just part of the special package of blessings, opportunities and challenges that God has given uniquely to women. To refrain from ritual prayer (the salaat) and ritual fasting (the sawm) during this time is actually considered a form of worship, and, if done with the intention of obeying God, it earns women good deeds.

In order to take full advantage of the blessed month of Ramadan, however, menstruating women and those with postnatal bleeding can do more than refraining from ritual prayer and ritual fasting to draw near God. Below are ten ways that women unable to fast can boost their spirituality during this special month.

menstruating women in Ramadan

1. Increase dhikr

In the Hanafi school, it is recommended for menstruating women to make wudu, wear their prayer clothes, and sit on their prayer mat while doing dhikr during the time they would normally be praying. This would be especially good to do in Ramadan, a time of special focus on worship. In addition to the adhkar that are well-known sunnas – such subhanAllah, alhamdullillah and Allahu akbar – if you have a litany from a shaykh and are allowed to repeat it more than once a day, try to do it twice or three times for increased blessings. Dhikr has a special way of touching the heart, and by invoking God’s names whenever you can during this unique month you create the space, inshaAllah, for beautiful spiritual openings. See: The Effects of Various Dhikr – Habib Ahmad Mashhur al-Haddad

2. Increase du’aa

Du’aa is something we do very little of these days, but speaking directly to your Lord is one of the most intimate ways to connect with Him. The beauty of du’aa is that you can make it in any place or time. Take this opportunity to ask your Lord for all that you need in your life, and to draw near Him through either repeating the beautiful du’aas of the Prophet or reaching out to God with your own unique words. See: Ten Powerful Du’as That Will Change Your Life

3. Feed others

Whether it be your family, neighbors, community members or the poor, use the time you are not fasting to make meals that fill the stomachs and souls of those around you. Recite the salawat on the Prophet (pbuh) while making the food, as this imbues the food with spiritual benefit as well. Consider sponsoring iftar at your local mosque one evening with some other women who are in your situation, or volunteering at a local soup kitchen.  See also: “Manifesting Mercy: Feeding Your Way to God” – Nader Khan at Brampton Islamic Centre.

4. Gain Islamic knowledge

Use the extra time and energy you have from not fasting and praying to increase your knowledge of the faith. Listen to scholars discussing timely issues on our SeekersHub podcasts, form a small circle of non-fasting women who can commit to reading a book on Islam and discuss it together, or take some time to read articles on the religion from trusted online sources, such as Shaykh Hamza Yusuf’s blog or Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad’s article collection at masud.co.uk. See also: Importance of Intention in Seeking Knowledge.

5. Increase your charity

We are surrounded by countless blessings, so make sure to spread those blessings in the month of Ramadan. Give money to a good cause, such as supporting Syrian refugees, helping a local poor family with school fees, or supporting students of Islamic knowledge through programs like SeekersHub’s #SpreadLight campaign. In a very busy world, we may have little opportunity to give our time to help others in charity – giving money takes minimal time, but brings great benefit. See: Eligible Zakat Recipients, Giving Locally vs. Abroad, Charity to a Mosque, and Proper Handling of Donations.

6. Make your responsibilities a form of worship

Sometimes, women are overwhelmed by the responsibilities of the home and young children, and cannot make time to do things like study or sponsor an iftar. In these circumstances, renew your intention regarding your role as a mother and a wife. See these demanding and time-consuming roles for what they are: responsibilities that you are fulfilling to please God, which makes them a type of worship. Ask God to accept all your work as worship, and approach all that you do in this way. This will make even the most mundane of tasks, such as changing another diaper, cleaning up  another spilled cup of apple juice, or making yet another dinner a way for you to gain the pleasure of your Lord. See: Balancing Worship and Caring for a New Child.

7. Listen to the Quran

menstruating women in Ramadan

Although the Hanafi schools holds that women cannot cannot touch the mushaf or recite Quran while experiencing menses or postpartum bleeding, they are able to listen to the recitation of the Quran. Doing so offers much benefit in a month that has such heavy emphasis on reciting the book. You can take special time out of your day to listen to it, such as while children are napping, or you can listen to it while in the midst of cooking or cleaning the house. See also: Listening to Qur’an While Occupied With Other Tasks

8. Increase Repentance

Ramadan is an excellent time to increase repentance to God. Use moments when others are praying or breaking their fast to ask God to forgive you and your loved ones and to keep you from returning to sin. All we have is a gift from Allah, so even forgetting that for a moment is a deed worth asking forgiveness from. Know that God is the Forgiving, and trust that, as our scholars have said, the moment you ask for forgiveness you are truly forgiven. See also: Damaged Inner State? Imam Ghazali on Repentance

9. Babysit to help mothers worship

Mothers with young children often find it difficult to go to the mosque because they worry that their kids will disturb others who are praying. Since you don’t need to be at the mosque, volunteer a night or two (or more!) to babysit the children of a young mother who would love to go pray taraweeh. If you have young children of your own, you can tell the mother to bring her kids to your house before the prayer. By helping this woman worship, you will gain the same good deeds she gets from going to that prayer. See: I Love Being A Woman!

10. Spread love and light

Use the extra time and energy you have to share the joys of Ramadan and Eid with your non-Muslim friends, peers and neighbors. Invite a work colleague for an iftar, make a special Ramadan dish and give it to a neighbor, or take time to make special cookies or gift bags for peers at the office or in school to hand out during Eid. By sharing these happy moments with friends and colleagues in the non-Muslim community, you counter the negative narratives about Islam in the media. More than that, however, you become someone who creates bonds in an increasingly isolated world, reflecting the beauty of the Prophetic light to all those around you. See: How Can Muslims Become More Effective Community Members?

Cover photo by Edward Musiak. Tasbih photo by Brian Jeffery Beggerly. Quran photo by Mohmed Althani.

Resources for Seekers

Cultivating Patience Through Your Small Children – Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil explores how having small children can build patience and help you get closer to Allah.patience

When you are a mother to small children, one crucial virtue is developed over the slow and inexorable passage of time – patience.

With little ones, everything is slowed down. They need so much support, from the minute they are born, to many years after that.

Gratitude

Having little children also gives me so many things to feel grateful for. Basic acts that I once took for granted are suddenly so precious. Sleeping for long stretches at night, eating a meal or drinking hot tea without interruption – these are the small blessings that I didn’t even realise were blessings, until I had one baby, and then another.

I became a mother upon the arrival of my first daughter, in June 2015. I have been either pregnant, breastfeeding, or both, ever since. Because of this, I have been living in a very different, almost altered, state of reality. The potent combination of oxytocin, broken sleep, cuddles and tantrums have been the ultimate crucible for the straitening of my nafs.

I will surface out of this, some day, and I pray that the version of myself will be kinder, more patient, more resilient, and more grateful. Most of all, I hope I will sleep better.

Losing Control

Before I had children, I was impatient. I liked to feel in control. I liked life to go ‘to plan’. I was a meticulous planner, and I realised now how much I relied on external calm to help me attain some measure of internal calm. It would never last, of course. Allah Most High always sent me something to knock the wind out of me – again.

Now I’ve come to realise that with raising little ones, there is no control. There is only surrender, and embracing the chaos.

Babies Without Schedules

While I was a fresh-faced undergrad, I knew a mother who smiled at my carefully curated study timetables. She smiled, chuckled, then said, “Babies have their own schedule.” I had no idea what she meant. Ten years later, and I finally do.

Resistance to Reality Causes Stress

Stress is resistance to reality. And I can make a tough afternoon with my girls even harder by wishing I were somewhere else. What actually helps is taking a deep breath, exhaling, and accepting that this is hard, and asking myself – what do I need to nourish myself, right now? Often, everything feels worse when I’ve forgotten to eat, in the rush of feeding my kids. Filling my own self-care cup is the best way for me to meet the needs of my small children.

Accept the Untouched Planner

I don’t have a planner anymore. Actually, I do, but I rarely get the chance to use it. My eldest daughter draws cats on the mostly untouched pages, and she was so excited to see how I had circled her birth date in June, and wrote “My baby turns 4!”. She insisted that I write it again, so I did.

Something so unremarkable to me – writing words on paper – utterly enthrals her. And that’s one of the many gifts of having such little children. There are so many firsts, and everything is a marvel. They slow us down, and bring us the gift of the present moment. Babies and small children are masters of mindfulness. It’s up to us to choose to be open to what they have to teach us, every day.


Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers through Qibla Academy and SeekersHub Global. She also graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales.


 

A Call for Support (Living Insights Foundations for Education)

Do you wish there was a well-rounded curriculum for the primary and secondary years, well-grounded in both the Islamic and secular subjects? Check out and support this campaign by the LIFE foundation. Living Insights Foundations for Education

Dear Seekers,

As-Salamu ‘alaykum wa rahmat Allah.

It is our pleasure to introduce and recommend LIFE (Living Insights Foundation for Education). LIFE is a new non-for-profit foundation devoted to publishing and servicing a full, authentic Islamic curriculum covering the primary and secondary years. We believe this is a communal obligation which our community is in great need of.

LIFE’s model is the applied trivium (resembling the Well-Trained Mind). This model allows contemporary students to benefit from a holistic Islamic education. The Islamic system of education is very clear: a balance of teaching (ta’lim) and character development (tarbiya), an integration of reason and revelation, and a classical methodology of engaging with texts and subjects. LIFE’s curriculum project starts with the traditional system of education (i.e. the original Dars-i Nizami), presented through a Trivium-based model, then supplement it with arts and craft, history, and other subjects drawing from Islamic culture outside the madrasa curriculum, which render the product holistic and suitable for all students.

Scholars and teachers need to act fast to mainstream our traditional systems of teaching and learning. LIFE’s materials and courses will allow parents and teachers in any part of the globe to confidently offer this benefit to their children (and schools and co-ops). No existing materials have fully imbibed these attributes.

As they embark on this important task, they are in need of your generous help and support to;

a) get their materials ready to be used/applied

b) to help them offer free courses to students and teachers in educationally-challenged environments.

Here is a list of short videos explaining the insights behind the organisation and the challenges ahead for this project.

For details on LIFE’s project, needs and team, please visit their website.  To support this endeavour, please visit their LaunchGood page to donate generously.

 

The Patience of Umm Ayyub

Umm Ayyub was an ordinary lady with extraordinary patience and strength.

She was a very ordinary women, so ordinary that you wouldn’t notice her. She was so ordinary that I still don’t know her name to this very day.

I don’t remember where I first met her, or when I met her. In fact, I don’t  think I ever actually met her. Rather, I’d see her, floating around in the background at various masjid and community organization events across the city.

She always wore the exact same clothes, a dark blue hijab and a white square hijab, folded over her head and secured under her chin. She said very little. In the beginning I thought that she didn’t speak English well, but later I found out that her English was quite good, despite the fact that she had recently immigrated from the Middle East with her husband and their two little girls.

Her husband was a very nice man, always helping others and driving their daughters to Qur’an classes at the masjid. From what it seemed, they were a stable and happy family.

All this time, I didn’t really take note of her. I didn’t even know she was pregnant with her third child, a boy, until someone from the community told me that she had gone to the hospital to deliver, only for the medical staff to inform her that his heart was no longer beating.

She gave birth to a stillborn baby, and named him Ayyub, after the patient Prophet, peace be upon him. The janazah prayer was held in the masjid and then the tiny coffin was taken to be buried.

Patience In Losing A Child

It can’t be easy to lose a child at any stage, much less through a stillbirth. The Umm Ayyub must have felt extremely sad, but she bore it all with extraordinary patience. Some sisters who visited her said that she was up and taking care of her family as normal. The words “Alhamdulillah” were always on her lips. After such a difficult situation, doing routine things takes enormous courage and strength, and she must have had a lot of it.

I didn’t think too much about her situation, besides sympathizing with her difficulties. Later, as I grew older and wiser, I learned more about the enormous rank granted to mothers whose children have died.

In a Hadith related in Sahih Tirmidhi the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said:

“When someone’s child dies, Allah Most High asks His angels, ‘Have you taken the life of the child of My slave?’ They say yes. Allah then asks them, ‘Have you taken the fruit of his heart?’ They say yes. Thereupon He asks, ‘What has My slave said?’ The Angels say, ‘He praised you and said, Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un (To Allah we belong and to Him we will return)’ At that Allah replies, ‘Build a home for my slave in Jannah and call it ‘Bayt al-Hamd’ (The Home of Praise).’”

Khalid al-‘Absi said, “A son of mine died and I felt intense grief over his loss. I said, ‘Abu Hurayra, have you heard anything from the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, to cheer us regarding our dead?’ He replied, ‘I heard the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, say, “Your children are roaming freely in the Garden.” (Bukhari)

If there was one thing I learned from this experience, it was that sometimes the most amazing people are not the ones that we look up to most. Sometimes, they are the most ordinary people that we don’t notice.