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Reconnecting With Family–Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Ustadha Raidah, now a mother of two, looks back at her Eid al-Adha, spent reconnecting with her estranged father.

Last Eid, my eldest daughter turned two. This year, she is three, and is now a proud big sister. My youngest daughter just turned 7 months. Alhamdulilah, this Eid, I am now a mother of two. I am elated. I am exhausted. I am grumpy. I am grateful.
I live with my mother-in-law, husband, and our two little girls in a green, leafy suburb in Malaysia. A few weeks ago, my mother-in-law, may Allah preserve her, reminded me to invite my father over for Eid. My initial response, as always, was mild panic. My parents divorced ten years ago after a tumultuous marriage. I didn’t want him to spend another Eid alone, but I still felt a little nervous.

Trying to Reconcile

So, I procrastinated for as long as I could, then casually asked him to spend Eid with us. And then he caught the overnight bus from Singapore to meet us in time. My eldest daughter was so excited to see her only grandfather, and my youngest gave him coy smiles from the safety of my arms. I am embarrassed I took so long to ask him, and I am so grateful for my mother-in-law’s commitment to family ties.
There was a time where I could not imagine ever reconciling with my father, but anything is possible through Allah’s Help. Falling pregnant changed everything. My husband’s father had passed away even before we got married, and so the only grandfather my unborn child would have would be my father. I wanted him to be part of my baby’s life. I decided then, with my husband’s encouragement, to give reconciliation another try. Our last attempt did not end well, but I knew we had to give it another shot.

Sharing the Joy

When I called him to share the good news, he was overjoyed. He posted me what must be the first edition of “Every Woman”, enthusiastically instructed me to consume green smoothies and walk like a duck towards the end of my pregnancy. It wasn’t all peachy, though. In my first trimester, I described to him how exhausted I felt. His WhatsApp responses were in excitable capital letters describing how my tiredness was nothing in comparison to the next two decades of child-rearing! I cried, told my husband what happened, took a break, and then resumed WhatsApp checks in with my father with only positive pregnancy updates.
Now that I am a mother, I understand how difficult it is to know that your child is hurting. Not all parents know how to self-regulate, keep calm, and validate your child’s pain – especially from the generation that came before the trend of self-care. I take the lesson from this – even though I cannot protect my daughters from pain, I can try to be there for them, as calmly and as compassionately as I can. My father did his best too, with what he knew. And so, one step forward, many steps back, rinse, repeat, and back again – this has been our dance of reconciliation since my first daughter was born over three years ago.

When he came yesterday to visit both my daughters, our Eid felt complete. My eldest daughter excitedly gave him a tour of our garden, showed him her books, and delighted him by eagerly eating durian while she sat next to him. He laughed as she licked the durian seed clean. My youngest daughter grinned at him from the playmat while she made tentative back-and-forth attempts at crawling towards him. “She is another extrovert! An alert baby,” he declared proudly.

Moving Forward

I was putting my youngest baby to sleep, and my husband sent me a photo of my eldest daughter praying behind my father. In this shot, she is wearing a mini prayer garment and looking up at him with the adoration only a grandchild can have for a grandfather. This is a balm for all of our weary hearts. It took me the birth of my daughter to find my way back to my father. Allahu Akbar.

Please make dua for my family, especially my father. Please pray that if it is khayr, that Allah reunites him with all of his estranged children, and their children, before the day he leaves this earth. And if that is not khayr, please pray that he will reunite with them in the Garden, where there is no more pain. May Allah grant us contentment with His Decree.

This Eid, may you also be blessed with beautiful reunions.


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.


Resources for Seekers

On Family – Pause for Thought with Journalist Abdul-Rehman Malik – BBC Radio 2

Pause for Thought with Journalist Abdul-Rehman Malik – BBC Radio 2

Listen: Pause for Thought- On Family – Abdul-Rehman Malik

When my son was born just over three months ago, he came into the world surrounded by an international cast of characters. His birth was made possible by a medical team with accents ranging from East End Cockney to Liverpool Scouse. There were also doctors from Italy, nurses from the Philippines, midwives from Jamaica.

As I rolled my son’s cot out of the delivery room, he was greeted by his maternal grandmother who flew from Singapore the moment she heard he was arriving a few weeks early and at least a dozen aunts, uncles and cousins who originally hail from Canada, Australia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Scotland – but call London home. My parents and younger siblings in Toronto were soon connected on my mobile and following all the action over the internet.

How different it was for my mother and father when I was born.

There was no family waiting outside the delivery room or at home getting the nursery ready for my arrival – they were half a world away.

Times have changed and we now travel and communicate with unusual ease.

Communication was more haphazard in those days. Even a phone call required a fair degree of coordination and expense. I remember the excitement when contact was made – my parents shouting down the phone line making sure all the essential news was communicated before the line went dead.

When we made it over to Pakistan or my grandparents came to visit, our arrivals were treated like national holidays and departures were like funerals – with everyone praying that God would give enough life and health to have the opportunity to see each other again.

But I was never bereft of family. I had uncles from Turkey, aunties from Guyana, cousins from Egypt, brothers from Hong Kong, sisters from Bosnia, grandparents from Gujrat. If it takes a village to raise a child, then I was raised by the United Nations. It was something my parents worked hard to forge.

“O people,” the Qur’an declares, “Verily, we have created you from a male and a female, and have made you nations and tribes that you may know one another. Certainly the noblest of you, in the sight of God is the best in conduct.”

There is no such thing as a normal family. And neither should there be. Families are built on mercy, generosity and love – extraordinary things that I experienced in great abundance from people who I grew to cherish as much as if they were part of my own family tree.


Abdul Rehman Malik is programmes manager at The Radical Middle Way Project and contributing editor at Q-News Media.

Finding God Through The Chains Of Pornography Addiction

Finding God Through The Chains Of Pornography Addiction

By: Zeyad Ramadan, Founder of Imancipate and Director of the Purify Your Gaze Awareness Campaign. For more information, please visit: www.PurifyYourGaze.com

frustrated-man

“I hate Allah. HE DOESN’T ANSWER ANY OF THE IMPORTANT PRAYERS. Only the insignificant ones. You’re gonna cause someone close to me to die or make me die in a humiliating way. I probably deserve it. I just want to get married. IF THAT’S NOT POSSIBLE, than I WISH I WAS IN MY GRAVE. HOW HARD IS EITHER OF THOSE FOR YOU? I THOUGHT YOU’RE CAPABLE OF EVERYTHING. I am SICK of being patient and waiting. WHAT THE HELL AM I WAITING FOR. I give up…”

A client that I worked with in my sexual addiction recovery program sent me this above journal entry. You can read these words and be shocked by how any individual, especially a Muslim can display such rage or anger at his Creator and Sustainer, or you can read much deeper into it as I did.

To me, what I see beneath the anger are bottled up emotions of deep hurt, despair in the Mercy of Allah, and feelings of being abandoned by Allah.

One of the obstacles in the journey of an individual undergoing addiction recovery is coming to terms with a “Higher Power” and ultimately what it means to be spiritual. The pornography, the drugs, the alcohol becomes something like a band-aid to take care of that huge void in that individual’s life, and ultimately becomes their number one need.

What is very common in the psychology of an addict is visualizing and believing God to be a menacing, punishing and sadistic God who finds joy in their ruin and is out to actively cause more pain in their life, as was evident in the short journal entry excerpt above.

This anger may even lead to a state of denial in the existence of a Higher Power but beneath that ultimately is a story.

How did this individual become addicted to pornography and how did this individual come to such a state where there are immense feelings of anger at God?

The majority of these stories and perceptions about God and the anger directed at God are many times a deeper anger at the primary relationship right after God, which is the relationship that individual has had with his or her parents. Anger is an emotion of power, commands respect and helps the individual to cope with a deeper pain.

A critical part of understanding the development of this “Monster God” mentality and the development of an addiction comes down to one thing: an inability to accept and love ones’ self.

At a young age, all children are dependent on their parents for food, nourishment, acceptance and love, and it is thus inconceivable to see something wrong with the primary caregivers. Especially when the authority of the parents in Islam is misused and taken a little too far to keep kids in check through fear, and then backed up with religious evidences.

So if God is perfect and must be obeyed, and He instructed for the parents to be obeyed and honored for their sacrifices, then any conflict that arises between the parents and child must be completely the child’s fault, not the parents.

To add on top of that, too often parents show love as a reward for a child “achieving” certain bench marks with grades, religious devotion, athletic achievement, etc.

Success in all of these areas is certainly a good thing, one that should be encouraged, BUT when LOVE is conditional and based on these achievements, that’s when the dysfunction starts and a “perfectionist” is created and fueled.

By the same token this is passed on to God. When God’s love is perceived as conditional and fully based on whether we reach a certain level of “righteousness”–that’s when this resentment and feelings of hurt develop.

The resentment of God develops out of this frustration that one can never be good enough or perfect leading to a rejection of self. When this rejection of self becomes too painful to handle, it externalizes itself into anger at the parents and ultimately anger at God because He was the one that gave this authority to the parents.

There is a lot of soul searching involved for anyone struggling with sexual addiction and genuinely wants to change to feel serenity rather than the agony of trying to satiate a quench that never ends.

What we need to keep in mind is having a heart of compassion for anyone in this situation and allow them the space to find themselves and to find God. It is a painful separation to depart from something that has brought you comfort even at a minimal level for so many years and let go of this false god so they may devote themselves in true sincerity to the One True God.

In this journey, there is confusion, there is fear and there is despair. If I cannot find comfort in my addiction anymore, will I ever find comfort? Which is why we see this anger directed at God here because ultimately deep down it is the fear that not even God will accept them for who they are and what they have gone through.

Based on my research and interaction with individuals who have begun recovery work, one of the greatest joys is being able to look back and actually thank Allah for this huge blessing in disguise and to see how Allah was there all along and had never abandoned them, and how this addiction was the best thing that ever happened to them.

Finding God through the chains of pornography addiction is a blessing in disguise for those who begin this journey.

The Prophet peace be upon him said, “Allah wonders at those people who will enter Paradise in chains.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)

When we read this hadith, we primarily see it in the context of war referring to those captives who surrender their will to Allah by choice, and become righteous Muslims in their lifetime. Sometimes though this war is internal, and we are brought back to Allah as captives through the chains of our desires, and it is there we are blessed to taste humility leading us to surrender our wills to the One True God.

The biggest obstacle for an addict is to get help, they would rather solve it alone to stay safe. Moreover when the addict is Muslim and is struggling with something as sensitive as pornography it makes the obstacle even greater.

A client of mine told me that in order for him to get better he felt that he had to leave the Muslim community to find a place of acceptance and a place of healing. He could be accepted as an addict and be unconditionally loved, but no matter how hard he tried he could never be recognized and accepted as a Muslim by them.

I’ve began a community on Facebook of what I hope to be like minded individuals that would like for any Muslim in any situation to flee to the mosque and flee to the community when they have a problem. Pornography addiction, whether we want to admit it or not is one of the challenges we are facing in our communities, and not talking about will not make the matter go away. If you would like to join our community, I invite you to visit: http://www.facebook.com/PurifyYourGaze

I ask for the community’s support and encourage those who are interested in learning about my newest initiative which will be launched this month of Novemberr on the realities of pornography addiction in the Muslim community which I’ve called “Purify Your Gaze” (www.PurifyYourGaze.com) based on the Qur’anic injunction telling the believers to lower their gaze in order to attain purity to visit our website.

And from Allah comes all success.

United for Change Conference Photos

United for Change Conference Photos

Dr. Zainab Alwani, Dr. Mohammed Beshir, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Dr. Omer Abdelkafy, Mohammed Ashour

Dr. Zainab Alwani, Dr. Mohamed Bashir, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Dr. Omar Abdelkafy, Br. Mohammed Ashour

Imam Zaid Shakir, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Shaykh Navaid Aziz

Imam Zaid speaking

Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah

Sr. Rabia Iqbal, Shaykh Yasir Qadhi, Imam Zaid Shakir, Dr. Jamal Badawi, Br. Amadou Shakur


Islamic conference aims to build stronger families, communities – CTV news

With an aim to build stronger families and better communities, about 2,000 people took part Saturday in the largest Islamic conference Montreal has ever seen.

Taking place at the Palais des congres, the United for Change conference set out to thank the community and talk about often-shushed issues like parenting concerns, domestic violence and divorce.

“Divorces are going up, which is alarming. Historically in the Muslim society, divorces were almost unheard of,” said Tariq Subhani from United for Change.

Experts say happiness is about choosing love over faith and finding common ground.

“Human relations are based on love, mercy and just being a decent human being. And if you get that right, you’ll get the religious part right,” said prominent Imam Zaid Shakir.

Muslim activist Dr. Raiba Khedr said couples have to share common values.

“You have to have a foundation. If you don’t share a common bond through common values, there’s always a great struggle in a relationship,” said Khedr.

Beyond marriage, there’s parenting, where children have good role models. Good parents need to give their children the freedom to be who they want to be, said panelists.

Stereotypes and misconceptions about Islam will always exist, said Imam Dr. Yasir Qadhi, but Muslim parents need to send a clear message that being different is okay.

“Parents need to understand that their children who are born in this land, they are Canadian, and they better be proud of being Canadians, along with other identities,” said Qadhi.

Special thanks Br. Tariq Subhani for photo coverage