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A message of hope – anonymous reader shares her story

 
 
 
I am 42 years. I was raised by a single mother – my mother – my best friend, my confidant, my everything. I didn’t have a very happy and stable childhood. I was forced at some stage in my pathetic life to live with my dad! It was an awful time of my life as I was abused as a kid – by the 2nd wife – she was a witch, she used to deliberately keep me home from school and hit me! so badly that I would bleed,  some of you may ask, how I remember this…I somehow remember this as though it had occurred yesterday! I WAS ONLY 7 YEARS OLD!!! Needless to say that my dad believed only what his wife told him!
Having managed to live through that with the help of Allah –  and as I kept running away from home, I eventually ended up living with my beloved mother.
Marriage and having babies – was not for me! having come from a broken home – I never ever wanted to hear about getting into a relationship with someone, let alone getting married! I never imagined I would meet someone and fall in love! I didn’t want this to happen to me…
 
And yip I fell in love with an amazing man! We got married – I was 23 years old. For 2 years thereafter, my mother in law drilled the thought in my head that having babies is totally not allowed… she said that we are too young! It was forbidden! After year 2 had passed, the  statement kept coming out of people’s mouths – “it’s time for a baby now”, you are married for 2 years already” bla bla bla … we kept laughing it off. Approximately 18 months had passed by now and hubby and I discussed that the time has come – we want a baby! We were married for 3 ½ years already!  By now I’ve been off the pill for 2 years already – as it had made me quite sick. So we figured there’d be no issue in conceiving! 6 months went on to 1 year, then 2 years, we figured this may be a serious concern now! I went for regular check-ups to the gynae, there was never an issue…so what could possibly be wrong?!
One eventful morning I woke up with an extremely heavy and painful period. Totally unbearable – I was in tears and could barely walk straight up. We visited the gynae, who couldn’t do much for me as I was on my period. She prescribed pain killers and suggested bed rest until the heavy period had subsided. I lived through that and visited her 10 days later. She booked me in for a laparoscope. The prognosis wasn’t great… I had a condition called Endometriosis…it sounded like an awful disease to me…she further confirmed that I had only one ovary, instead of two!  She had lasered away the endometriosis and apparently people who have one ovary manage to fall pregnant. So there was no issue. She started me on fertility pills, gave me the run-down of what to do and what not to do and to let her know what happens. I bought a home ovulation test, we would rush home during working hours to do the “big thing” when I was ovulating, we went on weekends away and holidays, laid with my legs up in the air for hours and had all sorts of massages done, went to a molana, drank holy water, changed our diet and lifestyle – but. Still. nothing.
2 years went by and nothing had happened. My gynae said we must give up and let it be…as I was not born to be a mother! I was devastated.. heartbroken beyond words. I cried and stopped eating for days, I went into a complete depression. I felt empty, worthless, useless – it was an indescribable pain! MY husband was the elder sibling in his family… it was quite apparent by now that his parents were concerned.  What if he leaves me! I will be a divorcee.. these were the scary thoughts going through my mind!  Everywhere we went that dreadful question popped up… “when is the baby coming, OMG – can’t you fall pregnant?, I know of someone who also can’t have kids, shame man! “ “ go and see a molana!” oh and my hubby was told by the male folk “ you are not scoring enough goals”!!!    This was what we were faced with! Close family were talking about us, gossiping about our situation. It was so weird because nobody had even know what our issues really were.  It was all assumption on their part! But they were right! Cousins and friends were having babies – some of them were even twins!
 
Hubby didn’t tell a soul. I only told my mum, who has kept it a top secret. We both agreed that if Allah doesn’t want to give us a child – that’s what is meant to be and we will accept it. We ignored peoples remarks and ugly thoughts. UNTIL – I received what was considered to be the worst news ever to me. My older sister – 9 years my senior, who had already had 3 kids – WAS PREGNANT. She was very upset because “ she didn’t want another child at this stage in her life”!!! I loved her kids with all my heart and soul. BUT OMG – how can this be!? This is not happening – I was devastated. I was not jealous, I didn’t hate her.  But why?! I asked Allah – why He could not have implanted that embryo in my body! I WANT ONE CHILD – JUST ONE CHILD – YA ALLAH! PLEASE HELP ME!! – I cried day in and day out – questioning ALLAH. I wondered if Allah heard me! I was embarrassed!
 My hubby was strong and comforted me all the time. We eventually seeked the assistance of a fertility gynae. Hubby was not very happy. But he did it for me. The tests were devastating for him – the questions made him very uncomfortable – but the true gentleman that he is – he answered them very diligently. I went into hospital for another  procedure, started on various medications and supplements and the DR eventually decided we would start off with artificial insemination! I was so positive and excited. The day arrived when my period was due… I waited in anticipation! My period was late. I was super excited. Even though I was told not to – I did a home pregnancy test! IT WAS POSITIVE. I contacted the gynae immediately. Went in for the bloods, it was positive, however one week later- I started bleeding. Apparently my body was unable to further produce the HCG hormone ( or something like that)!!! I died a million deaths! By now I was numb – totally lost! I loved kids. I was always the one who baby sat everybody else’s kids. I loved little baby girls! I couldn’t move pass this! Why me, why me? my siblings had 4 kids each!


 
After my hospitalisation – we went in for a check-up and this time the doc suggested the IVF procedure. Hubby said if this doesn’t work – its game over. NO. MORE. TRYING.! I agreed wholeheartedly. It was an awful few months. What an agony! So many tests and procures and injections! It all sounded easy when they explained it to us but was so very taxing on our relationship, taking time off from work.  Crying in between, and major depression!  And throughout this – we only confided in each other. As for me – I still had my best friend, my beloved mother.. my pillar of strength. She made dua – gave me tons of encouragement and hope and many duas to read. 4 embryos were transferred! It was apparently normal for our age and situation! We laughed at the fact that we could end up with 4 babies. We cried in between too, that we may end up having none!  It was an emotional roller coaster! The day arrived when according to my personal period diary – a period was due. I didn’t think much about it – as I was 2 days away from the pregnancy blood tests. Subconsciously  I fretted over the fact that I could just start bleeding!  but thankfully nothing happened! Omg – I can’t believe this! 2 weeks went by and still no bleeding. No home pregnancy test this time either! However I felt different… I can’t explain but I was calm and content… just different! People commented that I looked different too. I went in for my blood tests and with the help of the Almighty Allah – I WAS PREGNANT! We obviously did not tell anyone, I told my mum! The doctor suggested that we don’t tell anyone either until our tests are repeated.  I could not believe it… all the injections and tests and scans were finally over! Sadly only one embryo stuck. But that was the one that I kept making dua for. So I didn’t freak out!
 
My pregnancy and birth was not great. I was quite ill during my pregnancy. I was as hospitalised several times – had a condition called placenta previa resulting in IUGR(intra uterine growth restriction), high BP, my body could not produce sufficient amniotic fluid, so I couldn’t  feel much movement from baby, which resulted in me going to the hospital at odd times off the day and night for a fetal monitor to be placed on my tummy to just hear my sweet baby boys heart beat! I bled at 3 months pregnant, but with the Almighty’s help – my pregnancy continued, with major bedrest!
Due to my high risk pregnancy – check-ups were done every 2 weeks and as baby stopped growing we bailed out at 31 weeks, giving birth to a beautiful baby boy weighing in 1.2kgs. He wasn’t breathing at birth and had an apgar score of 1, 5 and 8. Sadly he became quite ill when he was 2 days old – resulting in him being hospitalised for 2 months! He is my special angel today!  He is 13 years old now… it’s been a tough journey and believe me when I tell you – don’t expect anyone to understand your journey, especially if they’ve never had to walk your path! People are nasty and the ugly stigma attached to infertility and disability respectively is pathetic!!! You would expect that people are supposed to love and care for you during this process and be more sympathetic … but the malicious talks that goes surrounding an individual’s infertility is nasty! Trust nobody but Allah, depend on nobody but Allah, expect from nobody but Allah! This is what I’ve learnt through my journey.
I HAVE MY ONE CHILD… THAT ONE CHILD THAT I’VE ASKED FOR, WAS GIVEN TO ME… I EXPECTED IT TO HAPPEN IN MY TIME. IT HAPPENED WHEN ALLAH FELT THE TIME IS RIGHT.
Infertility is an emotional roller coaster and we are told to be calm and positive during this journey, one only knows the feeling when you are walking that path. They say everything happens for a reason… the hardest thing about this, is waiting for that reason to come along!
I now walk a different path – a mother to a special needs child and in our community today – people see this as a plague…looking at the child as though he is an alien. If only they know that Jannat is guaranteed to these beautiful Angels. J
Ps- sadly my beloved mother passed away when my son was 5 years old. May Allah grant our all our deceased mothers Jannatul Firdous. Aameen.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Loving an addict-anonymous reader’s attention

The scourge of drug , drinking and porn addiction in our communities is destroying our homes,relationships and community as a whole. I don't think there's anyone out there that can truly say that they don't know anyone that is or has been addicted to either drugs or porn in this day and age.

Shame keeps us from seeking help. What will people say? Our son in rehab? Can never be! We will beat it out of him. Send him for 40 days jamaat. Maybe it's jadoo – these are all likely responses of people around the addict.

Let's get real. I've been in this situation many times. I love a recovering addict. This road has not been easy. There is no overnight fix and relapses do occur- this is the nature of addiction. I've had to push him into a car and drive him hours to a rehab in the middle of the night because he relapsed. I've had to leave him so that his parents could stop being manipulated by his lies and see for themselves how serious his condition is. I've seen it all, done it all- and yet you may ask why I still love him, why am I still with him?

The simple truth is he's the nicest person I know with a heart of gold who is the best husband except for this one flaw- I love him. He fell into bad company in campus which led to addiction and years later a serious medical condition needed strong medication and this resulted in another addiction- but through all that I've seen how hard he tries to stay clean, that this is really not the life he wants and I know I can help him. I've been told numerous times by rehabs that if I leave him he has no-one else that is equipt to deal with his issue , no-one around him strong enough to deal with this and I know this- if I leave he has no hope. I also see the other men at the rehab, I hear about other addicts from friends and family and I wonder if I won't end up in the same situation if I leave and find someone else because honestly it is THAT common. I cannot leave, move on and let him destroy himself and his life- he deserves more.

Druggies as many love calling them are not just those shabby looking, dirty junkies you used to see sleeping on the streets or begging at the robots. No my darlings, they are lawyers, teachers, doctors, anaesthesists, pharmacists, businessmen , grandfathers and yes even aalims. They're these haaro looking poiros with beards who are huffaaz that you sit next to at the masjid and can even lead a somewhat normal life most of the time- they're quite good at hiding it.

Tv makes drinking and alcohol look so cool , that even someone like me whose lived through this nightmare , who knows the devastating effects that drugs can have has caught myself thinking 'hmm cocaine looks so fun in the movie, wished I'd tried it when I was younger'. Just one time wont hurt etc- NO , NO , NO – this is dangerous thinking- we need to inculcate this awareness that drugs and alcohol is completely haraam – awareness that Allah does not accept your ibaadat for 40 days after indulging- that it WILL remove all barakah from your life, that you would never want to die in this state and that many times all it really takes is just one snort, puff, shot, injection to have you craving more.

It's not something we can keep sweeping under the rug. There are kids younger than 12 in rehabs, you need to be more involved in your kid's lives. Peer pressure and the wrong company plays a huge role. 'It's just dagga' is not an acceptable response- dagga can cause mental illness, is intoxicating and is a gateway drug- don't be naive. Many times dagga is mixed with other drugs too.

Women are also increasingly resorting to drugs so much so that there are now rehabs specifically for muslim females in South Africa. Sometimes the husband gets the wife hooked so that he can continue 'partying' – our muslim men are giving their wives to drug dealers for the night for drugs- this is a REALITY.

So this is all happening and I know many of you in this situation are probably sitting feeling hopeless, you feel alone, you don't know what to do anymore and this is why I wanted to share what I've learnt over the years with you because I know this can help so many people in the same or similar situation :

1. Do not be an enabler. When they are in active addiction do not give into money demands. They may even steal from you. Take away their atm cards. Do not let them drive under the influence. It may be necessary to even take their cellphone away so that they cannot call their dealers. All family members need to be on the same page. You cannot have the wife being hard and trying to do the stuff mentioned and the parents or siblings giving into demands in secret.

2. If you don't believe them when they say they haven't taken anything , ask them to do a drug test – make sure you watch them actually pee into the container, many times they will google ways to pass drug tests (adding chemicals in the urine) or add water into the sample.

3. Jamaat is not the answer, with all due respect, you cannot just send someone with a serious drug or alcohol addiction straight into jamaat and expect a miracle- they WILL have physical withdrawals. I've even heard about addicts going into jamaat and then stealing the collection box, clocks and frames to sell for drugs. This may be helpful AFTER detox and rehabilitation but not during active addiction.

4. I hear often that 'you cannot make someone change' that if they don't want to change then rehab won't help them. Understand this- a person who is in active addiction , while going through psychological and physical withdrawal will most often refuse to go into rehab- it is not their choice, YOU have to be strong- tough love etc. You can only have a decent conversation with them once they're sober. Also, they don't get a say in the matter- they are endangering themselves and those around them- It's also illegal- It's upto you to put your foot down and get them the help they need. Once they are detoxed, withdrawal free and level headed they will thank you- trust me. Occasionally you do get those who will say they love the lifestyle, they love the high and they do want that lifestyle even when sober- this is when you have to decide if you can live with an addict forever because living with a recovering addict and living with an addict are two different things.

5. Violence and abuse from them should not be tolerated. Again, tough love. They are honestly the best manipulators and are excellent at making you feel sorry for them and playing on your emotions. If they get violent have them put in cuffs and taken to rehab. If they steal from you or are behaving dangerously then call the cops, have them arrested and let the ultimatum be jail or rehab. This will require you to be incredibly firm and strong – you have to be cruel to be kind.

6. Rehab is the answer but not one or two weeks. Minimum 21 days but longer is usually better. A rehab that has proper counsellors or social workers, that focuses on spiritual upliftment but also builds them up and doesn't break them down. In this instance I recommend Crescent of hope in magaliesberg- this place was life changing for me and my marriage. Uncle Rafiq at the centre is amazing with his advice and counselling and dealing not only with the addict and addiction but also repairing the family unit as a whole. (Fyi-Zakaatable patients are catered for).

7. Understand that relapses do happen, the key is acting on it the moment you notice it- getting them help immediately and not giving into their pleas that it was 'only once' or that they can fight the addiction on their own etc- be firm and strong. Ultimatums also work most times. Here though you cannot keep giving ultimatums and making threats and not acting on them- they will not take you seriously or respect you.

8. Even once they're out keep in touch with the rehab facility. Magaliesberg offers boosters, where you go in for a few days every few months for motivation and as a reminder- these are a good idea. Don't take it for granted that they did the rehab and will be fine- addiction is a daily struggle- reminders are good- reminding them why they need to stay clean, motivating and reconnecting spiritually.

9. Naltrexone implants are being done around the country and it can be very beneficial getting these done after a proper rehab and detox. This helps with opioid addiction so eg heroin and even for alcohol addiction. It lasts 3 months and then you can have another implant done. Naltrexone is also available in tablet form but then obviously this is more difficult to monitor. Naltrexone ensures that even if they take something they feel sick and don't get a high so they won't even try to take anything on Naltrexone. Naltrexone is very different to Suboxone and Subutex- it isn't habit forming.

10. Allah consciousness- zikr, salaah, taalim at home, listening to inspirational talks in the car all will help them try to stay clean once they're clear headed. Good company, being surrounded by loving and supportive friends and family gives them motivation to stay clean. Inclusion not shaming and exclusion- love and support and helping them get back on their feet.

11. Distractions- having something to focus on that they're passionate about and that keeps their minds busy will be beneficial after rehabilitation. Hobbys, sports etc. I've frequently been told that having a child or another child may give them the push they need and make them 'grow up' – I actually know someone who did change when the wife gave him an ultimatum that she would take their unborn child and move out if he didn't clean up his act- this was when he got help and has been clean ever since… this won't work for everyone though. Its also not something I would advise- bringing a child into that situation hoping it will change them.

12. Sometimes they need further counselling, there are unresolved childhood issues, self esteem issues etc- even a life coach can sometimes help. But unfortunately not everyone has issues – some are honestly just so deep in it and love the high- they need to find other things in life that give them a natural high- passions- things to live for and get excited about.

13. Disowning, shaming, ridiculing will not get you far. It is upto us and I firmly believe it is our responsibility that when our fellow brother or sister slips that we try and help them up. Hate the sin not the sinner, understand that this is not the life anyone would've chosen for themselves , that they can't help themselves but YOU the people around them can help them- every time they slip up put them right back into rehab. Although if you are in a marriage and have children and you have tried getting them help several times and whatever I've suggested then it may be time you gave up- thinking about their safety and getting them out of an unhealthy situation- that doesn't mean their family has to also give up though- someone around them should try to help their family member nomatter how frustrating it may be – if this means leaving them in the rehab for 6 months, 12 months then so be it. It's about saving a life. At times if you truly have exhausted all options, if they have resorted to crime or prostitution to feed their habits and are a danger to you and the rest of the family it may be necessary to cut ties- only you know what your reality is- I cannot tell you what to do – I can only urge you to exhaust all options so that you don't regret the decision for the rest of your life. You also can't make someone change, you can get them help and once they're sober you need to hear how they truly feel- if they blatantly after detox and counselling would rather choose drugs over life then you have to Whats right for you too.

14. Understand what their triggers are and keep an eye out for them. This involves keeping the lines of communication open. Spot/surprise drug tests may even be a good idea and motivation not to slip up.

15. Get yourself help- it can be so exhausting both physically and mentally living with an addict, you need your own support structure and counselling. Addicts will often guilt you and manipulate you into keeping their secret- they make it seem like you broke their trust or you divulged secrets from the marriage- NO! addiction is not a marriage issue, it is NOT something you should be forced to deal with alone. Get them help, get yourself help- give them an ultimatum- pack your bags and leave and demand they get proper help if they're refusing. Do NOT keep quiet and do nothing (this doesn't mean you shout it out to the world, you can still conceal their faults by telling only those who can actually be of assistance). Work on yourself, make your own money, let him realise that you have options, that you are strong enough to manage on your own if you need to- this may give him the realisation that he could genuinely lose you and he may be more willing to seek help- if you have nowhere to go, are financially reliable on him etc he may just use this to take advantage of the situation and threaten to leave YOU if you tell anyone about his addiction.

16. When we hear about people having affairs, gambling, dealing in ribaa etc we don't look down on them as much as those who have a drug or alcohol addiction- why? Are they not all major sins? We also seem as a community to view drinking as worse that popping pills. The amount of people young and old that are seriously addicted to codeine based products like stilpane, adco-dols etc and sleeping pills is alarming yet many times we don't class them as 'druggies' yet codeine,morphine,heroin are in the same class. We definitely need more awareness. Porn addiction is also quite serious and not something to be taken lightly.

17. As for jadoo and evil eye – yes occasionally perhaps this may be the case but they will still have developed a physical addiction and simply taking them to an aamil only isn't going to solve the problem at hand. Let's get serious! They were using the drugs and need detox and to get over the withdrawal stage nomatter what led them to it.

18. Some people are truly beyond help, most commonly once they've tried heroin and in this case I honestly don't have any answers for you. I have not been in this situation But I do understand that it is the worst with the highest rate of relapse. Implants every three months may not be in everyone's budget, tablets are also around R1000 every month- It's sometimes necessary to see things for what they are and decide if it's worth it, if you're fighting a losing battle or not.

19. Sometimes YOU also need to change. Yes YOU. I didn't realise this till I heard a talk about Allah not changing the condition of people until they change themselves. I needed to connect with my creator, I needed to read all these duas to ask Allah to help him and keep him clean, to help me and give me stength, to guide me. I needed to change so that he could change too. I needed to read Salaatul Hajaat and all my other prayers that I had been neglecting. At every step I sought his guidance with Istikharah and HE always showed me what to do. Sometimes this is your test too.

20. They need someone to talk to when they're thinking of relapsing or having a hard day- ideally this should be the wife/some other close family that they can call for motivation and counselling and so you can help them to remove triggers and access to substances or just keep them busy and help them cope with the psychological addiction- sometimes this may be a professional eg someone from the rehab but at any stage that they slip up they need to understand that the best thing for everyone is to come clean and let you know immediately so that you can help them to help themselves- it might sound impossible but with proper communication free of judgment, yelling and belittling it is absolutely possible. Know the signs to look out for.

21. A dua given to me by mufti Siraj Desai to read constantly truly helped me. There isn't a day that I don't read this dua for him.

Rabbana Hablana min azwaajina wadhurriy-yatina, Qurrata a’ayun wa-jalna lil-muttaqeena Imaama
  O my Rabb! Grant unto us wives and offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and give us (the grace) to lead the righteous [25:74]

No-one can really tell a wife to stay and put up with this type of behaviour- you know what you can bare- you should seek Allah's help and take it from there but I can tell you that happiness is possible. Having the man/woman that you love back is possible, recovering from drug addiction is very possible with an awesome support structure not by shunning people, not by exclusion and disowning people but only with love, tough love and proper help. It is not an easy road- it is one full of tears, dissapointments, 'why mes' , anger, frustration etc but sometimes it IS all worth it.

Allah ease the pain of all those watching the ones they love go down this destructive path. Allah give you strength to do the right thing and get them the right help. Allah make it easy for all the people fighting their nafs and addictions daily , give them the strength to stay clean- give their family the understanding of how to help them. Help us as a community to keep our children amd spouses away from all things harmful and give us your guidance to do what is best for us and them. Ameen

The journey through infertility – A reader’s story

The below is a readers very emotional, raw piece.

Around 1 in 7 couples may have difficulty conceiving. This is approximately 3.5 million people in the UK.
I’m sure after you read that you took it as fact (which it is), why is it then when a couple experience infertility, their emotions are immediately discounted?
I myself am part of the 3.5million.My husband and I have been for every test and appointment to try to understand why I am not falling pregnant. I have been probed and poked, each test coming back without any issues. We fall under the frustrating category, unexplained infertility.
It has been six long, hard, painful, gut wrenching, vomit inducing years of trying for a baby.
When we started trying for a baby in my heart and mind I was ready .If someone asked me whether we were trying for a kid and I responded yes I was met with, “you are too young”. After a year of trying I went to the doctor seeking help. I received the necessary tests but each time I was reminded I’m still very young.


Strange though, each month when my heart broke because I did not fall pregnant I was not young enough to feel the pain that cut through my heart.
Fast forward a few years, exactly six in fact and we have today. I’m still not pregnant and have started my tests and check-ups all over again .Once again hoping for the best. I’m still met with the response, you are still young. I feel like saying “How about you go through this for 6 years. Let’s see how f$$$ing young and fresh you feel afterwards”. Instead I smile and say, “That’s true”.
This is a chronicle of a few individuals I have met along my journey trying to conceive.
Nobody thinks falling pregnant will be difficult. It’s just part of the process of life. Go to school, go to university and get a degree. Get married, buy a house and car, have kids.
You don’t second guess it, it’s a given.
But just like other things in life it’s not always that black and white.


The problem is with every other aspect in life we have some idea on how to deal with it because someone we know has been through it .The sad reality is no one talks about infertility! It’s spoken about behind closed doors, in hushed tones.
So just a recap, I can’t fall pregnant, I desperately want a baby. So being the driven person I am I dig deep and do everything in my power to make this pregnancy happen!
That includes regular sex, eating the correct foods and investing each month in the correct vitamins. I’ve tried acupuncture, yoga, Pilates, reflexology, wet cupping, visiting a magician, praying and drinking herbal teas from different countries. I do a cleanse, recover from the cleanse, pray, keep my legs up after sex for exactly 20 minutes without moving, drink more tea, eat lots of honey, dates, soak in hot baths and just try my best to stay calm.
I’m so f$$$$ calm I should be floating!


Ps, I have to mention I genuinely think I am an intelligent, confident woman. I try daily to be a good person until I’m met with assholes and every bit of my education and moral values leave me.
I meet people who say shit like “no baby yet? Hurry up!” Believe it or not this was said to me by someone who struggled to conceive herself. The idiotic comment was a bit much for me, my response was I’m not trying!” .Even though I had been trying for 4 years at that point.
A common comment that’s made when you fight the shame and actually open up that you are struggling for a baby is that so & so tried for 10 years or 19 years etc. My heart goes out to those women and I feel their love and happiness after waiting patiently all those years!
This comment is meant as a comfort, to not give up. It’s almost never said from a place of evil. But the result is catastrophic for the person on the receiving end.
It’s a sort of emotional avalanche.
It starts with embarrassment. You feel so embarrassed for having thinking it’s safe to speak about your infertility.
It moves on to shame, shame that you feel hurt when you have only gone through it for 6 years and can only be considered a true veteran in 4 years. Oh yes, this is part of my 5 year, long term goals.
Then you find yourself trying to validate your pain amidst the embarrassment and shame because deep within you, you know what you are feeling is genuine. You are not making up this pain .You are not trying to get someone’s attention or pity.
It ends with a wave of nausea and regret. Nausea from pushing your emotions deep into a temporary abyss, only to be released the next time someone announces their pregnancy.
The feelings of regret arise because you forgot the last time you were honest you were met with the same response by someone else and you promised yourself you would not open up to anyone again. Ever.
I have a group of people I speak to about my fertility journey .Including my husband this group is 4 people! I love them and trust them and feel comfortable speaking to them about it. If anyone else asks me about it I do my best to respond in a polite way because it’s usually coming from a good place.
I’ve been asked “How are things with the baby planning? You don’t mention it at all so I don’t know whether it’s a no go topic .If you don’t want to talk about it that’s ok”
A genuine question from a friend and I respond the best I can .Uncomfortable but fine. I can do this. Then she shows me her true intentions “So you have not given up?”
Say what! Repeat the f$$$!
No I have not f$$$ing given up.
Even if I want to give up I desperately want to love a child of my own and push on through. No I have not f$$$ing given up!
Instead I reply “it’s not in my control and if it’s meant to be it will happen and if not then that’s what’s meant to be”.
By the end of that short conversation I am heartbroken and exhausted.
I respond the only way I don’t how, like a sneaky bi$$$h “I’m enjoying my life in the meantime”.
I know this will shut her up because she does not want to hear about my travels, my spa days and other treats. She wants confirmation my life is empty and soul crushing. Sorry to disappoint.
Do you see me showing off about it! Do I make you feel my life is better than yours? No, because it’s not. Every person is on their own beautiful journey. The route may simply be different for each individual.
You don’t see me asking you “are you not taking a long haul holiday somewhere this year?” “Are you not buying a flashier car?”
Do I ask you the rude, inappropriate questions? No! Because it’s none of my f$$$ing business!
Each person is struggling! It’s so easy to be bad, to be lazy, and to be mean. Yet each day we wake up, pray, go to work, smile at the assholes that make us sad and genuinely try to be the best we can be.
We do not need a nudge to make things harder than they already are.


So these are just a few of the most ridiculous situations a person without a child is put through. Trust me there’s so many other conversations that will make you gasp but this is enough for today.
I wrote it because I was devastated that I was not pregnant this month and instead of the usual pain I felt fury. Fury that my pain is real but people think they have the right to discount it! Newsflash, you don’t!
Infertility is just another test in life, as is losing someone you love, losing a job, a marriage breaking up. Each situation has a different level of pain depending on the circumstances but the common factor is pain.
This blog would not be complete without a mention of the unsung heroes, the ones with the best hugs, the hearts of gold, the tear absorbers& snot wipers. Our husbands. They are usually navigating this journey without any guidance. Most men, especially in my culture don’t even speak about this with each other .Yet their “Daddy” instinct to protect kicks in and they do their best to protect us from the Baddies. I pray for them from the bottom of my heart. I pray for their success and joy.
Remember this the next time your instinct to be an asshole kicks in, babies are a gift from God. We have no control over it. God gives to whom he wills, when he wills. Stop making those who are on that journey have to answer for God’s plan.
We are normal human beings, living fulfilling lives, doing our best while being tested in a different way than you.
You have a choice, whether to be a comfort or another test in a person’s life. Choose wisely. Don’t be a d$$k!

Hope in a healthy package

A touching letter that I recently received from a reader :

I Would like to advertise through you. I am aware you do have a separate marketing email address.  Will tell you about my product and how i got started.
My name is X. Been preparing this email all morning in my head and finding it difficult to start now.  

10 years ago I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.  Cant say it was a surprise to me when I've suffered from depression since the age of 7. My depression only got noticed in my final year of school when i didn't go to school for 3 months and shut everybody out. Only got treatment at the age of 21 for a brief period of time because I chose to move to the UK and lived there for 3 and a half years. The past 10 years have been a roller coaster ride to say the least.  

Being only married for 2 years when i was diagnosed it was a difficult adjustment for my husband and I.  Contemplated divorce may times because I found it difficult being married and living with bipolar disorder and didn't want my husband to have to live with someone that was ill. Studied interior decorating in the 10 years but that came with many challenges.  It was a passion of mine and i wanted to pursue. Having  the ability to walk into a space and change everything in my mind interior decorating wise. Studying and dealing with bipolar in its early stages was very difficult.  My meds were being changed every 2 weeks to try and see what works and getting the right dosage. Ended up in hospital the first time in my first year of studying  for cutting my wrist.  Was stabilized had a nurse (who after years will come back into my life) look after me that night c in hospital  and then booked into a "wellness clinic". Had to under go shock treatment.  The second year of study my manic episode (which entailed no sleep and extremely hyper) lasted 2 weeks and i got my husband to book me into hospital because i was exhausted and just needed to shut off. Unfortunately the medication i was given send me into suicidal depression and again was booked into a wellness clinic. The years following that are a blank to me because of the highs and lows and the different medications.   

Towards the end of 2012 alhumdulillah i was doing ok. up to that point i was ok with not haven fallen pregnant.  I knew Allah knows best and i was ok with not having children.. But i also knew my husband would have loved to have children and part of me wanted to make him happy by giving him this gift. We've come so far and been through so many obstacles in our marriage.  So that November while on holiday in Dubai i discussed with him the idea of having a child. When we got home we arranged an appointment with a fertility Dr.

 First had to get the go ahead from my psychiatrist and psychologist.  Had to get weaned off all my meds. Had the ivf and explained to my husband i will only try it once because it was very difficult being off my meds. If the ivf didn't work then at least we know we've tried. Allah knows best.  I only produced 3 eggs with the fertility treatment.  Usually women produce 10 or more. Can remember feeling very disheartened that day. Fortunately all three eggs fertilised.  After the 12 days of having the eggs implanted having the pregnancy blood test we got the call i was pregnant. Alhumdulillah.  Was pregnant with triplets.  Lol i can still remember how worried the fertility dr was and ask me if I would like to reduce the eggs. He was worried about me having bipolar and coping with looking after 3 babies. My reply was no. Allah knows best. 

At 25 weeks went into labor.  My beautiful babies were born. Aydin 815g , Eva 715g and Sofia 680g. Couldn't believe they'd all come out of me. 2 daughters and a son. 10 days later Sofia developed an infection in ICU and was being treated. We use to visit the hospital in the morning and evening. Nurses felt i needed to rest. That evening we were getting ready to go to the hospital when we got a call saying we should please hurry Sofia isn't doing to well. When we got to the hospital i expected the dr to inform us she was really ill instead we were told she'd past away. I can't explain to you the shock i felt. was like being hit by a bus.  The first time I got to hold my baby was after she'd past away. She was 10 days old. I don't remember much of being in theater when giving birth. I know there were a lot of hospital staff there. My baby weighing 680g giving a little cry when they took her out. I remember the sound of her cry. That was the miracle of Allah. being so little and giving that cry. She was buried that night. 

The next morning you back at the hospital seeing to your other babies. For them was touch and go. You'd visit in the morning and they'd be ok and you'll go in the evening and you wouldn't know if they going to make it. every day would go that way. and on the 26th day i noticed Aydin kidneys wasn't working. dr didn't want to tell me anything yet. and i knew when one organ starts to fail the others seem to follow. i remember sitting at the hospital the whole day by his side. at that point we all knew he might not make it to the next day. the nurses were compassionate enough to lift Aydin out of his incubator with all the pipes and put him in my arms for a little while. 2 helped so they could keep the pipes from moving. it was sweet of them. they didn't have to but they knew i'd held Sofia for the First time after she'd past away and that saddened me. i got to hold my boy while he was still alive. i sat at the hospital the whole night holding his tiny little hand. telling him how much i loved him and that i wished he'd stay but also wanted whats best for him because i loved him so much. my daughters were always going to be daddies girls but he was going to be mine. sad when i think of it. having to sit and watch your baby waiting for him to die. at about 2 am i told my hubby to go home and get some sleep. he was very exhausted as well. told him i'd call him when aydin's sats drop very low. we lived 5 minutes away from the hospital. so it wouldn't take him to long to get here. all i could do was hold his tiny hand and wait. watch him and the screen. at around 3:50 he's sats started dropping very fast. the nurse phoned my hubby. but by the time he'd gotten to the hospital aydin had past away. i remember the sound the monitor makes when the heart stops and the flat line on the screen comes. i also remember on the outside being calm and having patients. this is your will Oh Allah and i accept. but it still felt like being hit by a bus again. even though i was heart broken i accepted it. later that morning aydin was buried and that evening we  were back at the hospital seeing to eva. after sofia passed and and it was touch and go for the other 2 i didn't expect to loose another baby. aydin past away at 27 days old. so 17 days apart i lost 2 of my babies.


eva spent a total for 4 months in icu. her meaning is so fitting. eva means life and she was the only one that survived. the day after aydin past away dr advised us eva needs heart surgery and it will be done the following day. with eva it was the same. touch and go all the time. by 3 months eva still wasn't coming off the oxygen. by the 4th month we had the option of leaving her in hospital another 3 month until she weighs a little more to have half of her left lung removed or we could bring her home on oxygen with the sats monitor and she could have the surgery once she weighs a 6kg. we decided to bring her home. we were fortunate to have a night nurse. medical aid paid for 2 months and we the rest. the nursing company we used sent a nurse who happened to be the same nurse that took care of me that first night in hospital when i cut myself.  someone had to be with her 24/7. the oxygen machine used electricity to filter the air and pass it to her. so you can imagine the anxiety we use to have every time we had load shedding. we had to be so quick to hook her up to her oxygen tank. that became the new normal for us.and slowly i started weaning her off the oxygen. i'd reduce the oxygen and she'll do fine for a little while and then the sats starts to drop and have to increase it. Alhumdulillah eventually i weaned her off. but unfortunately she started drinking less and less milk. when she turned a year she still wasn't six kgs to do the op and i was feeding her with an ng tube. others where freaked out by it. i was so relieved. to be able to get milk into her body. micro prems have so many challenges. she started neuro physio while she was in icu. and carried on until she was over a year. every movement that she makes had to be tough to her. it was hard work. she'd have neuro physio once a week and the rest of the week i'd do the exercises with her. we both never gave up no matter how hard it seemed or how much my heart would break seeing her try so hard. her eyes were very weak and i noticed when i fed her she never looked directly at me. poor thing has a bad squint. so before she even learned how to sit she was already wearing glasses. then came speech therapy, to learn how to eat.  because she learned later than normal kids to eat. she could chew but couldn't swallow. speech therapist was worried she might suffer with her speech later and now we on OT. Eva is going to turn 4 Insha Allah on the 31 Oct. She's extremely hyper active, can't sit still and speaks very well. much to all the specialist surprise. just worry about her squint. she's in nursery school and seems to fit in and the teachers and kids are great. but i worry when she's older. kids can be mean. I've heard kids saying she looks funny because of her squint and glasses. I've even heard adults making fun of her. Insha Allah with time i hope we can rectify it. she sees her ophthalmologist regularly.


so back to me. you know when you wake up one day and look at yourself in the mirror and you looked like you've aged 10yrs. because a combination of the bipolar and the challenges i had after the babies where born. looked in the mirror and didn't like what i saw. ok I've always suffered with low self esteem. unless i was manic. then i felt like miss universe.i needed to see to me. took me 3 years to mourn the loss of my babies. asked my dr once if there was more meds i could take so i didn't have to face my loss. unfortunately there isn't and had to have therapy last year. to deal with it. writing this email hasn't been easy but it would have been a lot more difficult if i didn't have the therapy. i asked my psychiatrist last month if i could study and she advised me not to. my husband won't allow me to work because he's worried the stress of working and seeing to a toddler and the house might become too much for me and i might relapse. so i needed to think of doing something from home. we tend to try and eat healthy not always but most of the time. i made a batch of granola and it come out perfect. so i thought why don't i make and sell. have different varieties. i'll got my labels printed out and my packaging that the granola is going to go into arrived today. made my first 'batch of granola and now the anxiety has set in.  i just need to start selling and that scares me because i don't know where to start. i only started using instagram last year. 

my product isn't just granola. its hope for all the women suffering with a mental illness thinking that they never going to get better.  it isn't just granola but its a start for every mother that has lost a child and cant push them self past the heartache and pain.

its hope in a little healthy package

thank you for taking the time to read my story.

much love

The Edible Mosaic Company

Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

Reader’s submission- my journey through iddat

My journey through iddat

After 5 months of separation, confusion, mixed emotions, sleepless nights and endless duas the message finally came with an image attached of the "statement of divorce". I stood there with utmost shock as I read out the msg and gazed at the attached image. All I could think about was, is it really over? Immediately I read the dua taught to Umm Salamah (R.A) by our beloved prophet Nabi Muhammad S.A.W: "Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji`un. Allahumma ajirni fi musibati, wakhluf ni khairun minha (We belong to Allah and to Him we shall return. O Allah! Compensate me in my affliction, recompense my loss and give me something better in exchange for it.)
Although I wanted this divorce as things between my ex husband and I kept getting worse each day it felt as if my heart, body and soul were shattered into millions of pieces. Tears kept coming out of my eyes whenever I was left alone. The first week dragged so did the second and the third, my only form of solace was when I sat alone on the musallah while everyone was fast asleep and cried my heart out.
Day by day with the help of Allah I managed to get stronger and stronger, I kept myself busy with some hobbies whilst making continuous zikr, as this helped me "forget" the reality of the matter. As the days and hours passed I kept thinking of how i could've or should've been a better wife and perhaps done things differently. I kept thinking about every detail of my marriage.
After a year of marriage, a year of losing myself completely I finally got the courage to walk out of my ex husbands house and step out of that strange but sometimes nice relationship called marriage. My year of marriage was filled with countless tears, lonely nights and long days, endless misery and some good memories too. I felt more alone in my marriage as compared to when I was single. For many nights I slept alone, for many days I ate alone, basically I lived alone. I longed for companionship from my husband, for his attention, for his love, for his time but all I got instead was endless criticism, nasty comments and insane mood swings. There were compliments and good memories too but weighing them out their were definitely more bad memories. 
I was never good enough no matter how hard I tried, I was always placed at the bottom of his priority list, I kept thinking that something was "wrong" with me until eventually I lost who I really was. I went from being a bubbly and friendly person to a quiet, reserved, sad person who lost all her self-confidence, self worth and self esteem. I felt almost stupid and worthless.This is when I realized I had to do what is best for me and get away. 
Emotional abuse is equal to physical abuse or sometimes worse as broken bones heal, but broken minds are hard to heal. I was in denial, I kept telling myself that it's impossible I'm not in an abusive marriage, things will change and get better with time but in fact it only got worse.
As my second month of iddat passed I dealt with my anger and all my different emotions. I finally started accepting the fact that I'm now a divorcee and free from it all. Ironically free as I was, there were times where I missed him so much and I didn't even know why. Was I missing the abuse? Was I missing the tight hugs in the middle of the night which made me forget the reality of the situation? Was I missing the fact that I gave my world for someone else besides me? What was I really missing? I still don't know.
As I came into the last month of my iddat I was stronger than ever and ready to face the world, until… One afternoon my sister came with the most shocking news ever that my ex husband had remarried overnight. As I heard this my legs had an instant tremor, my throat had a huge lump, my eyes filled with tears that had to be hidden. I just couldn't believe what I heard. I know his allowed to marry and there's nothing wrong with him re-marrying, but I just couldn't help but wonder if she was the reason I got what I got? Was she the reason behind it all? Was she the reason I cried so many tears. I felt completely shattered, broken, betrayed, let down, insulted, frustrated and angry. I worked so hard to accept and deal with everything and as I was almost at the finish line I had to deal with this.
What made it worse is that he kept telling me to go back to him right until a week before his nikaah, this threw me off track and I felt like my world around me was crumbling all over again. I felt angry at him for every little thing that he'd done to me. I cried To Allah to help me through this ordeal and accept it too.
Allah Almighty made me realize in just a matter of days that this was all part of my taqdeer. I can never question it because what was meant for me would never miss me and what missed me was never meant for me. A friend then forwarded me an ayat from the Holy Quraan which made me feel so much better it said "Do not lose heart against the heaviest of trials and never be in a state of grief, for you are bound to succeed if you are true in faith" (3;13 al-Quraan)" I picked myself up and said this is not how my story is going to end, I will have full faith in Allah!! His plans for me are far better than my plans for me.
With this I managed to end my iddat in peace and accept it all, the drama, the trauma, the happiness, the sadness, the pain, and the gain.
Iddat is an amazing compulsory act in which Allah allows you to reflect on what has transpired, to accept the will of Allah and most importantly to heal all the wounds that were inflicted upon you. My divorce will always be a part of me and the scars will remain forever, however I make dua to Allah to grant me the perfect companion who will be good for me, for my imaan, my well-being, my family, my kids, and for my life in this world and in the Aakirah. Aameen.
May Allah accept my iddat and make it easy for all those who are in iddat and those who are in abusive marriages. Aameen.

Anon.

We see you winner’s story

This is the letter that won our hearts, sent in by Ummayyah , daughter of Aunty Sadia. Aunty Sadia was surprised last week by blogger Yaseera from @yasiikinz, she had been admitted to hospital two days later. We wish aunty Sadia a speedy recovery and shifa and everything of the best because you deserve it and so much more. Thank you for allowing us to share your story.

Slms/Hi to everyone who will be reading the email

Before I begin, please understand that I write this email with a very emotional,heavy and grateful heart.

Words cannot describe the amount of sacrifice my mother has made for my siblings and I…whilst I know that every mother goes above and beyond for their children, I'd like to believe that my mother has just had a tad bit extra of everything in life.

My mother's name according to her I.D is Sangeetha Kesaopersadh, but to everyone that knows her, she's Sadia Khan. At a very young age of 19, my mum married my dad and reverted to Islam. She had given him 4 beautiful children (Umar Farouk, Summayyah, Ummayyah and Ummaira khan) and whilst my mum always had a smile on her face, her decision to embrace Islam came with many concequences. my mums family were strict Hindu's and didn't approve of her marriage. My dad's family were strict Tableegs and didn't accept my mother as their daughter in law…And so my mum went about living her life and trying her best to be a good Muslim, mother, wife and above all, a good woman. My mum is the type of person that wants to cook for our neighbours and their neighbours neighbours and be-friend every person she can come across. She would invite anyone and everyone over just to give them a good meal and laugh over life's experiences….Unfortunately my father didn't understand that my mum couldn't speak or read Arabic and it become an issue in their marriage. After 21 years, my mum overcame physical and emotional abuse. There wasn't a bone in my mum's body that wasn’t broken. She was tortured in ways I cannot explain. She had, had her nose broken, her arms, her fingers, and she was even put to drown. Eventually both her knees were broken and she couldn’t walk. My mums family always asked her to leave and come back to live with them and start a new life, but it was on condition that she gives up Islam… My mum always said that she saw light and truth in our religion and she couldn't give up on Allah. she never complained to any friends and even most family members never knew what really went on in her life. She hid her pain for the sake of her children and because she was naturally a happy and bubbly person.

Eventually my siblings and I grew and we were all teenagers…My mum finally summed up the courage to leave my dad and she walked out with absolutely nothing. she lived in a small 1 room back house, started making samoosas and making biscuits on a gas stove with a gas ovan, to pay for rent and buy food. My mum's only request was that my siblings and I come live with her. The decision was tough as my father was a well established business man. We lived on a 42 ache plot in walkerville, we had over 60 sheep, 12 farm workers, 10 greenhouses, bulls, 32 cats and almost every fruit and vegetable you can think off in our yard. My dad supplied city deep. Mum had never worked before… But nonetheless, we chose to live with her. And so my mum bought just 4 spoons, 4 cups, 4 plates and a thin mattress for us to all sleep on…And there we were, from over night spoilt kids, to what felt like poverty. My mum still managed to pay for all our school fees, our food, our clothes and our madressa fees. Eventually she joined a group of Muslim woman (in taleem based in zakariyya park where she had moved to) who helped her learn Arabic and she was than able to teach my little sister and I our sabak. She learnt 4 quls, surah fatiha, daily duas and she begun to read her salaah…

My mum's struggles just never stopped. Alhamdullilah Allah chose to continue to test her and her imaan. We were on our way home and we met a pregnant woman sleeping on the street. She was badly hurt all over her face. My mum decided to ask her if she's OK and the lady could barely speak proper English as she was from Pakistan. After broken communication, it was understood that the ladies husband hit her because she lied to him that she's having a baby boy and the child was a girl. So he kicked her out onto the streets. The lady came to live with us and she gave birth to a beautiful girl who my mum named Amarah. Amarah was the light of our lives and brought us so much of happiness. However her mum soon ran away(7 days after she gave birth) and my mum was so afraid to report her as it would mean that they would take the child away from her…3 years went by, Amarah, who was now my little sister, was probably the hope and courage my mum needed in life. But not for long, her real mum came back after 3 years, demanding her child back as she was going to go back to Pakistan, in the begining my mum refused but eventually had to give her back as her mum was threatening to get the cops involved. On the day that Amarah went back, my mum had a heart attack. Shukr she soon recovered, but there was something missing in her life. My dad than started torturing my mum again by making threats that he is going to kidnap my sisters and I and kill us just to hurt her. (by than my mum had already gotten a life time protection order against my dad, but she could never find the guts or heart to have him arrested). My mum always said that she doesn't know how she would sleep if she put someone behind bars. Her good nature and heart caused her a lot of pain. My mum than had a stroke and suffered for a while before she could regain normal function.

During all of this, my sisters and I were growing, trying to get a good education and change our lives around. Alhamdullilah today, my older sister is an HR manager at an Islamic Company Crescent lifestyle, I spent 5 years at Discovery and left as an executive specialist, I am now a Team Leader at Nedbank(soon resigning once i complete my B.ED) and Ummaira is a snr at Discovery. We now have a beautiful home and we're short of nothing.
During this entire process, my mum never failed to cook 3 meals a day for us, she cleaned the house and made sure our clothes were always washed…And if you think it ended there for my mum, it didn't….It's been 2 years now, that my mum has had stage 5 kidney failure. Both her kidneys are not functioning and she goes for dialysis 3 times a week (she goes at 10am and comes back home at 4pm). And still, EVERY SINGLE DAY, MY MUM COOKS US A LOVING AND EXTRA ORDINARY MEAL. We can spend hours telling her not to cook or do anything and she'll still do it and she'll say that she loves us and that we must be tired coming back from work. It's more than just her cooking though, my mum supports and encourages all of our careers, dreams and aspirations. I forgot to mention that my mum and I both had leukaemia, and we both survived it. My cancer thought me to always give back and ever since the age of 19, I spend my birthday hosting a different event at a different orphanage. I was on the board of committee for a rehabilitation centre called Kids Haven in benoni and belonged to a group called iftaar drive, we feed a different Muslim orphanage every ramadhaan but only on weekends. Mum spends her days helping me( actually she does all the cooking and I just rock up with food) with any and every event I've ever hosted, big or small…

My mum used to weigh 85kgs and she now weigh's 48…All of her clothes don't fit her and we'be been buying her new clothes every month. The reason for my email is because I want to do something good/ special for her to thank her for all she's given up and for all she's done for my siblings and I. The one thing that I look up to my mum for, was that she never ever stopped wearing her hijaab. I'm 26 years old now, and it's been 3 years that im in scarf.(sometimes I do go out without my scarf, but I wear my scarf to work every day) , I still remember the days my mum would nag me to please cover up and please dress decently and please wear my hijaab….today, I can honestly say that because of my mum, I am a respected young lady at work and in my community because I dress in a modest manner.

My mum would spend her every last cent on whatever my sisters and I want (even until today) and she doesn't ever ask for anything in return. She's been admiring abayas similar to the ones that is part of the competition and I'd appreciate even if she just won that. Regardless of whatever religion we are, my mum is such a strong and persevering woman. Even if she doesn't win, I almost feel better for typing this, because now I've praised her to someone( because I could never tell her how much she means to me to her face)

P.S please mind my bad spelling and grammar, it's first rozar and I'm studying and I have a headache lol oh and one last thing, my mum managed to change her name at home affairs, so she had a new I.D that says Sadia kesssopersadh and they want a marriage certificate to change her surname and we all know that's not going to happen…

I make Dua for my dad every day that Allah closes his wounds and heals him and gives him peace and happiness as I feel he did all of that out of anger.

Thank you for reading
Ummayyah Khan


Pic of the family with a pic of Amarah stuck on the curtain

Tips for newbie bloggers

My inbox is filled with requests for tips on how to run a successful blog/become an influencer. It all depends though how you define success – for me I’m very impressed with where my instagram account is at right now – for some the amount of money I make off my account may not= success.

What you do need to realise is that I never had any intentions of being a blogger – I simply put out what I loved and people were drawn to it – so right there is my first tip- do what you love and don’t try to be like everyone else. Since I never had any intentions of being ‘the next Ascia or Dina Torkia’, I’m quite happy moving at my own pace and having fun with my blog- the less ‘work’ it entails and the more fun it is , the more pleased I am. 

What is success to me? Helping people embrace and love their hijab and modest dressing. Providing a platform for Promotion of local modest fashion designers and I won’t lie, I love reviewing and styling items – so to me the monetary aspect isn’t much of a concern. If you plan on making a living off your blog you need to realise that you will need to invest alot of time and money into it – from photographers to products and clothing.

My options are limited due to where I live (there is one photographer in a town not too far away but her work is very average) , I can’t attend most blogger meetups and events and working 6 days a week, time is not on my side. If you live in a city try and collaborate with upcoming photographers for a free or really cheap photoshoot.  You don’t have to invest in a costly camera and equipment- my pics are taken with my cellphone and I’ve managed just fine- lighting is key though and my worst pics are usually because I’ve finished work late and had to take pics after sunset. 
The best time to take pics? Before 8am or after 3pm usually. 

I’ve never approached or emailed businesses to ask them for items but many bloggers do. Please always try to be polite if you do and realise that some businesses are run by single mums/divorced women or women who run households that desperately needs a second income- don’t be demanding they may not be able to afford your requests.. perhaps leave it up to them to suggest items and pick from there. 
Reply to emails , dms and answer (reasonable) questions that your followers/fans pose. You have to engage with your followers.

Accept that not everyone will like you of your style- you are not nutella (although, there are people out there who don’t like Nutella!!). You will encounter nasty comments, criticism, people creating fake profiles just to spread hate and people who befriend you for all the wrong reasons. Be wary.
Be very careful who you share your ideas with – people are not afraid to shamelessly copy. 

Don’t compare yourself to other bloggers – we all have to start somewhere and blogging can be quite cutthroat- we will never have contentment if you stalk and compare- just be yourself and do you.
It’s really easy to start to compromise your beliefs and lower your personal standards when you see ‘what everyone else is doing’- try to be tough and not bend into peer pressure – you don’t have show more skin, advocated haraam or do what everyone else is doing to be accepted – there are literally too many people out there that all look the same (different versions of the Kardashians) or all dress the same but there’s not another one of you – embrace your uniqueness.
You will drive yourself crazy if you obsess over stats – appreciate and interact with the followers you have and just concentrate on the followers you DO have. 

A beautiful feed (which I find so difficult to do) is really popular and great to look at. 

 Hashtags are your friend- use them. Tag pages that might repost your pic- it’s the fastest way to new followers. 
I delayed starting a blog and really didn’t want to but there’s only so much you can type under a pic on instagram so if you plan to give detailed reviews or pen your thoughts- definitely get a blog- there are many free hosts.

Hijabi boss babes

One of the most requested tips have got to be from ladies requesting tips on how to style themselves modestly for interviews and the corporate environment as well as for meetings. I therefore decided that it would be fun to put together a few looks as a reference guide. Let’s dive straight into them.
My first look is a longer length navy cape that I purchased last year from @shop.style.snap , which I’ve paired with a white flare sleeved top from @lunahcpt and an off white wide leg pants from Bershka. Shoes are from Mr Price , bag from Colette and scarf from Hayaa Box. You could wear navy pants , wear any formal crisp white shirt and add a few accesories to this look. Why not try a white maxi dress, even one with flared sleeves for a trendy but even more modest look?

The next look is for those ladies who prefer not to wear pants- I wanted to demonstrate that you can totally still fit into the corporate world. I’ve worn a plain black straight winter dress from Mr Price which could easily be swopped for an abaya. The coat is a recent purchase from H&M , it was 50% off too! Shoes are from Zara and scarf from Turkishly Delightful. 


My third look is pink , because sometimes you’ve just got to embrace your femininity- every one needs atleast one powersuit. I love the printed fabric on this one but I wish the pants were a bit wider. This suit was purchased from Fashion Fusion in Durban , shoes are from La Capella. Shirt is from Legit and scarf from Hayaa Box.

Next up is 2 different looks created by making slight changes. 
Look one :

A winter trench coat from H&M worn with Bershka wide legged pants in red, the same white shirt above from Legit , the same Mr price heels from the first look and a pearl scarf from Modanisa. This look would look just as great if you swopped out the red pants for black or any other colour really. Simple and so elegant!
Look 2:

Here I’ve removed the trench and added a sleeveless coat (you could wear a shorter one too) and I’ve changed the scarf to a beige one from Al  Shazia in Durban. The handbag/clutch is from planet54.com (don’t forget my discount code ‘bash10’)
Tips:
-In my opinion a simple navy or black blazer should be a closet staple.

– A sleeveless coat/blazer  in black/white/navy or tan as well as easy to style scarves in the same colours will go a long way

-wide leg pants or palazzo pants are easy to style but generally difficult to find so if you find a pair you’re happy with, take them in every colour!

– A formal shirt in white and one in black is versatile for your work wardrobe but even for the weekend it will look amazing with your favourite pair of jeans and a statement neckpiece. 

Hijaab,niqaab & habibi

Anas (Radiallahu Anhu) reported that the Prophet (Sallallaahu Alaihi Wasallam) said that Allah Ta’alasaid “If the servant draws near to Me a hand span, I draw near to him an arm’s length; and if he draws near to Me an arm’s length, I draw near to him a fathom’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I come to him running” (Al-Bukhari).This hadith is the essence of the metamorphosis I underwent from being a rebellious teenager to the doting wife I am today.

 In 2003 the winds of change began to blow; I had many leaves of sin in the tree of my teenage years. A shiver goes down my spine as I reflect on the actions during my days of Jahilliyah. It is with distaste I recall the vices that I was immersed in. The rays of peer pressure nourished within me, many bitter leaves viz, immodest dressing, listening to music, going to movies and watching TV. The first step towards any change is to acknowledge that we are currently doing something incorrect. I realized that none of those vices brought me any inner peace.

 

It was that year in Ramadaan it had dawned upon me, why do I nourish my soul with purity only in Ramadaan, why do I wear hijaab only in Ramadaan, am I a Muslim only in Ramadaan? I had mistaken cotton wool for candy floss; I was craving the sweetness of Imaan.

 

Alhamdulillah, just as spring yields new leaves, that Ramadaan was my autumn which caused me to shed my auburn leaves. I turned over a new leaf and started wearing Hijaab.

Fast forward to Ramadaan 7 years later.

On a Friday morning, I went to my beautician who is a Christian. We began talking about religion. As a proud Muslimah, I tried to illustrate the beauty of our deen to her. I stated boldly “If every woman where to dress like me (i.e. cloak and scarf) there would be less rape globally”. Without sounding holier-than-thou, I admitted that I am not a perfect Muslimah because I don’t dress in the manner that our Prophet (Sallalaahu Alaihi Wasalaam) s’ wives dressed. By then I was done and dressed in my hijaab, ready to leave.

 I asked my beautician “Where does the beauty of a woman lie?” she said, “In her face”. What a slap in the face for me! Here I am trying to convince her about the beauty of our deen, and my beauty is exposed for all to see.

 A penny had dropped.

 The next morning I went to madrassa. Our Muallima spoke about Ramadaan being the perfect opportunity to change and the freedom of religion we have in South Africa, especially regarding niqaab in comparison to those Muslimahs’ in France who undergo great hardships. I knew niqaab is waajib for me, but am I ready for it?

 Another penny had dropped.

 That evening my extended family and I had iftaar together. Before taraweeh, a cousin bluntly asked me “What’s taking you so long to start wearing niqaab, come now, it’s almost ten years since you started wearing hijaab”. I had no answer. I couldn’t blame Shaytaan as he and his cronies were locked away. I sheepishly replied “I don’t know”.

Another penny had dropped.

 The next day at the Islamic Shop I remember asking the saleslady for a niqaab at an Islamic store. I looked at it and felt like I had found a part of me which made me feel complete. I quietly asked my mum to pay for it.

 Another penny had dropped.

 The following morning during the ladies program, our Muallima provided a beautiful analogy which all mothers could relate to; the three trimesters of pregnancy and the 3 ten days of Ramadaan. In the first trimester; our eating changes, we are conscious of our actions and similar changes occur within the first ten days of Ramadaan. During the second trimester, we are more comfortable with our new routine, the same with the second ten days of Ramadaan. During the third trimester, we have sleepless nights and are anxiously awaiting the arrival of a new addition, a new life, a new change. During the last ten nights of Ramadaan we not only stay awake during the odd nights searching for Laylatul Qadr but we also look forward to Eid, the beginning of a new month. In a similar manner, just as a woman undergoes 9 months of pregnancy and receives a baby, a Mu’min goes through Ramadaan and becomes a new person by the day of Eid. With this analogy I wanted to see a new me when I looked into the mirror on Eid day.

 By this time it was raining pennies.

 That same evening, my younger sister had sent me a message. She studies away from home, wears niqaab and was unaware of my many pennies falling. The message stated, ‘In Jannah, more valuable than being in Jannah is to see Allah Ta’ala directly. Allah Ta’ala comes personally to visit that lady who wears niqaab in this world”. Subhanallah, what an amazing coincidence! The winds of change which had blown in my direction almost ten years ago, which inspired me to wear hijaab, has come again -this time with inspiration to wear niqaab.

 

On Wednesday morning, 15th of Ramadaan, I wore my niqaab for the first time. My intention was for the pleasure of Allah and to dress according to how our Nabi (SAW)’s wives dressed. I distinctly remember being protected and complete. I felt like a true Muslimah.That day I visited my Muallima. As I lifted my niqaab in front of her, her first words were. ‘Subhanallah, may Allah grant you a spouse who will appreciate the fact that you are in niqaab’. We hugged each other and tears poured down our cheeks. It was a very emotional embrace.

 Three months later “the phone call” came. A boy is looking for a girl in niqaab and he had heard aboutme. Niqaab was his only criteria. We agreed to meet for the first time at my brother’s place. My parents, siblings and I met the suitor who was accompanied by his two sisters. I was taken aback by his aura of piety as he wore a kurta and a turban. I couldn’t remember his entire face as I was too shy to look above his nose. During that conversation I heard a “click” that this was the one. Those 45min of speaking alone felt like just 5 minutes.

 A week later, his mother had phoned to propose. Maybe the “click” sound played in his mind too. I remember reading a profile picture saying ‘Place your heart in Allah’s hand and He will place it in the hands of the one who deserves it’. My reason for wearing the niqaab was for the pleasure of Allah andAllah had brought a suitor to me whose only criteria was that his wife should wear niqaab. The du’aa of my Muallima was answered.

 

We got engaged 6 weeks after we first met. When we spoke at our engagement and had mutually agreed not to communicate until our nikah was made – no whatsapp, no e-mails and no phone calls for the next 17 weeks. Alhamdulillah I married my life partner, my other half, my Habibi. We had a small reception attended by close friends and family. We both wanted everything 100% Shariah compliant. I walked in holding my mums hand, no bouquet, no music, no intermingling, no stage. To this day many guests haven’t seen my husband. One of the highlights of our wedding day was that all the Aalims who attended were amazed at the Shariah compliancy of our reception.

 Sometimes we wonder why, why, why? Now I know why I only got married at the age of 26. Had I met my husband any early, I would have declined and brushed him off as being too pious for me. Allah Ta’ala wanted me to taste the sweetness of wearing niqaab before marriage. No ifs, and buts. It was Taqdeer.

 I’ve learnt that Allah Ta’ala is indeed the Best of Planners. If something is meant to be, it will happen at the appointed time which Allah alone knows best. We all wish for the silver lining sooner rather than later, however if we knew why Allah delays certain things which we make so much du’a for, and the inifinte wisdom behind His plan for us, we would melt out of extreme love for Him.

This realization has made me one of the richest women in the world.

 

A short story by Zawjatu Habibi