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Six Stories Down: When It’s More Than Just The Baby Blues

Zeba Khan

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The first apartment where my husband and I lived had six stories, and we lived on the sixth floor.  I remember this clearly because in the months after my first son was born, I spent way too much time hanging out laundry and hoping that somehow, just somehow, I would accidentally fall off our sixth floor balcony and die.

Astaghfirullah – there wasn’t anything really wrong with my life, and I had no reason to contemplate suicide even in such an indirect way.  My husband was loving and supportive and adored our new son.  I had very few responsibilities other than taking care of the baby, the house, and myself.  I had enough food, enough money, and comfortable shelter over my head, but unfortunately, I also had postpartum depression.

Our well-meaning, traditional matriarchs might ask what all this postpartum depression nonsense is all about.  After all when your baby is a newborn you’re SUPPOSED to be miserable – they call that the baby blues. You’re sleep-deprived, learning how to feed your baby for the first time, constantly worried about temperature, safety, illness, and of course, the routine running of the household. You can be expected to feel a little challenged – that’s what new motherhood is all about – but suicidal?

There are differences between the baby blues and postpartum depression, and these differences are important.  Both postpartum depression and the baby blues can leave you feeling out of sorts in a variety of ways, but the baby blues usually get better on their own within two weeks.  Postpartum depression doesn’t.

Postpartum depression can last for months, and it can take away your ability to eat, sleep properly, interact with family and friends, or even bond with your baby.  This is all made worse by anxiety, feelings of guilt and inadequacy given the task at hand, as well as dangerous thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.

In my case, PPD meant that I alternated between wishing I would die and then feeling terrified that something would happen to me, leaving my newborn son without a mother.  I was chronically sleep deprived, but when my son finally went to sleep, I lay in bed wide-eyed, jittery, and unable to sleep or stay asleep for very long.  I would hear him crying for me -even if he was dozing peacefully in his bouncer or out for a walk with his father- and the sound of his wailing haunted me.

Sometimes people tell you that there is no depression in Islam.  I’m not sure why they say this, because Allah would not tell us that our hearts would find rest in remembering Him if our hearts were not restless in the first place.  Allah would not give us a healing for our hearts if our hearts did not need healing -but from a cultural point of view, admitting to depression is taboo.  So, I told no one but my husband, and all I told him was that I was struggling a bit.

Alhamdulillah as the weeks passed slowly into months my son grew, I slowly regained control, got over the insomnia, and stopped wishing I would die. I told no one else though, until a year later when a friend of mine called and said, straight to the point, “I’m taking a survey on postpartum depression.  My mother in law says it doesn’t exist, but I can’t sleep, am mentally paralyzed and don’t eat for 36 hours at a time. How about you?”

When the baby cried, I did too. And baies cry alot.

When the baby cried, I did too. And babies cry alot.

How about me? Well, I had PPD after my daughter was born as well, and this time it was so severe that I would have sudden panic attacks, complete with chest pain, overwhelming hopelessness, and the feeling that life would never, ever be normal again.  When the baby cried, so did I.

I love my children -after Islam I consider my children to be the biggest blessings Allah has bestowed on me- but the combination of fluctuating post-pregnancy hormones, sleep deprivation, and newborn stress does something to my brain that is not normal.

How did I get out of PPD? Alhamdulillah, I never needed medication, but I did need my husband’s help and understanding.  And of course, I needed healing for my heart- I needed Qur’an.  When I felt like the walls were closing in on me and I could feel anxiety closing tightly around my throat- I would start reciting Qur’an, and I wouldn’t stop until I felt better.

Sometimes, I recited Qur’an for a VERY long time, but I knew that was the only thing that would let me breathe more freely, remember Allah’s blessings upon me, and calm my heart in a way that reason cannot ever begin to explain.  I began to memorize new surahs, and I began to fall in love with ayahs that spoke directly to my pain.

Two years after my daughter’s birth, I had a miscarriage.  Outwardly, I managed to keep things together, but I spent months crying alone and feeling guilty for wanting something that Allah had not decreed for me. I found myself needing more than Qur’an to pick up the broken pieces of my well-being.

Alhamdulillah, my husband pushed me to start attending Islamic classes, and the light of new knowledge pushed the darkness away, even if the darkness had more to do with loss than a crisis of faith.  Here I was struggling with my own depression as well as raising two young children- I was in pain that had nothing to do with ‘Ilm, but the more ‘Ilm I sought, the smaller my pain became.  Eventually, it was replaced with joy and lightness in my heart that I have only ever felt when my Iman is on a high, and to this day, I know that if I start to feel darkness creeping in on me, I need to look for light.  Whether I find it in the Qur’an or in ‘Ilm, I need to find it and hold on to it until the darkness goes away.

That’s my experience with postpartum depression, and every mother who struggles with it will probably have a different story to tell.  The blessing of being a Muslim though, is that every one of us can benefit from the healing that Allah has placed in the Qur’an.

“Verily in remembering Allah do hearts find rest.” The Holy Qur’an, surah 13 Ar-Ra’ad, ayah 38

The blessing of being a Muslim alive in this day and age though- is that we live in a time of unparalleled medical and psychological research. There should be no shame in admitting the need for emotional and psychological help, and there should be no shame in seeking medical help either.

If you are a new mother, you’re probably over-worked, exhausted, and damp with baby body fluids of one kind or another at any given moment- but you should not feel hopeless, depressed, afraid or resentful of your baby, or worse -suicidal.  You shouldn’t be afraid of reaching out for help, whether to your husband or to a close friend.  You would be surprised how many people have gone through postpartum depression, and the support that an experienced friend can offer you is priceless.  Most importantly, you should not underestimate the power of dua and Qur’an on a bruised and broken heart.

If you’re a new father, please be aware that postpartum depression is real, and so is the social stigma and shame that might prevent your wife from telling you that she needs help.  Please take a moment to learn more about it, because the healthier your wife is, the happier and healthier your entire family will be.

May Allah strengthen us all and give us the patience to see our hardships through to the ease He has promised, and help us to remember Allah’s promise that no soul will be burdened than more than it can bear.

Editor’s Note: If you are experiencing anything similar please do consult a medical doctor, psychiatrist, counselor.

Zeba Khan is the Director of Development for MuslimMatters.org, as well as a writer, speaker, and disability awareness advocate. In addition to having a child with autism, she herself lives with Ehlers-Danlos Sydrome, Dysautonomia, Mast-Cell Activation Disorder, and a random assortment of acronyms that collectively translate to chronic illness and progressive disability.

46 Comments

46 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Siraaj

    May 31, 2013 at 6:04 AM

    Jzk for sharing this deeply personal story with us, these are among many issues within our community affecting our sisters that we have to begin acknowledging not as some type of vudu science, but as problems requiring solutions, some of which you’ve provided, alhamdulillah.

  2. Avatar

    Man from the Dark Side "The Undertaker"

    May 31, 2013 at 11:46 AM

    If depression can affect people with such religiosity, then shouldn’t I stay sinful? Need an honest reply. Thanks.

    • Avatar

      Abu Asiyah

      June 1, 2013 at 11:22 AM

      Depression can affect both religious and non-religious, that’s not why people decide to take the religious path. Sure, there are perks, but the primary reason for avoiding sin and doing what is obligatory is understanding that we are all slaves of Allah and He can punish and reward. Being religious because it prevents depression is not sincere religiosity. However, being patient and reliant upon Allah in the face of difficulty increases one’s rank with Him. That’s the only real way of making something out of difficulty – people who don’t have reliance on Allah simply have a bad time but those who are reliant have something to show for it in the next world and often in this one too.

      I’d also like to point out that any excuse to not be religious and remain sinful is a ploy of the Shaitan. There is no excuse, we should do our best. It’s the Shaitan who seeks to give one false excuses for not pursuing the straight path.

  3. Abez

    Abez

    May 31, 2013 at 1:38 PM

    Hello Undertaker- I believe that if you don’t have religion to strengthen your resolve to not drop yourself off of a balcony, then you could become one of the mothers who ends up stepping off- or worse- throwing your child over it. A small but very real percentage of women with PPD develop proper psychological problems that result in suicide, child abuse, or worse- infanticide.

    That’s my honest answer. :)

    • Avatar

      Man from the Dark Side "The Undertaker"

      June 1, 2013 at 1:31 AM

      then you could become one of the mothers..

      I a man, so can’t be a mother. :D I’m not religious, but the thing that stops me from committing suicide is that a person goes straight to hell if they kill themselves. Thanks for your reply. :)

      Regards.

      • Abez

        Abez

        June 2, 2013 at 5:38 AM

        “the thing that stops me from committing suicide is that a person goes straight to hell if they kill themselves”

        Well, you may not consider yourself to be “very” religious, but you have enough religion to prevent you from committing suicide,

        InshaAllah. Imagine how many more things religion can protect you from if you get a little bit more of it. ;)

  4. Avatar

    Zainab bint Younus

    May 31, 2013 at 2:25 PM

    Jazaakillaahi khairan for sharing this with us.

    Oddly, I had what I call pre-partum depression – severe depression (complete with thoughts of suicide etc) during my pregnancy. I believe that this an equally severe and ‘taboo’ topic (after all, you’re supposed to be happy and excited during your pregnancy, not want to die), and both need to have much awareness raised about them.

    • Abez

      Abez

      June 2, 2013 at 5:39 AM

      SubhanAllah, that must have been a different experience altogether and I can only imagine. I was blessed in that my pregnancies were relatively easy and I was looking forward to meeting my babies, it just went a little downhill shortly after they were born :p

  5. Avatar

    Muhammad Wajid Akhter

    May 31, 2013 at 3:02 PM

    Asalaam Alaikum,

    JazakAllah khairun for sharing your experience. I would just like to add something on top of the excellent advice you have already given and that is – if you have post-partum/ pre-partum or just plain old depression of any sort, please see your doctor.

    The Prophet (SAW) himself encouraged us to seek medical advice when ill so there is nothing wrong with doing this along with the advice given in this article inshaAllah. But there is so much more that medicine has to offer beyond just drugs for depression. Even a simple understanding of the nature and course of the illness can be liberating to many people.

    • Avatar

      Abez

      May 31, 2013 at 3:16 PM

      Walaikum Assalam Brother- thank you for including that very sensible advice, if I had been less shy I would have sought help too, and hopefully bringing this topic to the Muslim table can give other sisters the courage they need to ask for help from a friend or a doctor, InshaAllah. :)

    • Avatar

      Abu Asiyah

      June 1, 2013 at 11:30 AM

      That’s true to an extent, but I’d just like to warn people of taking drugs for depression. Anti-depressants have a lot of crazy side-effects, including those that last much longer than the depression. I personally know people who have are still suffering from the effects of taking anti-depressants 10 years after the fact.

      Of course, if it comes down to being afraid of taking one’s life, anti-depressants are probably a better option. I’m just warning against taking them outside of dire need. And like you said, there’s other benefits of seeking medical advice also.

  6. Avatar

    Yasmin

    May 31, 2013 at 3:05 PM

    Jazakallah khair for sharing this very touching personal story with all of us! Inshallah your experiences will benefit all of us who’ve read this post!

  7. Avatar

    HelplessSlave

    May 31, 2013 at 3:12 PM

    Subhana’Allah I did not know something like this existed.

    How truthful and full of mercy were the words of Allah when he said

    “And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination.”
    Luqman [31:14]

    All these days I thought that weakness upon weakness mean just the physical pain, but Subhana’Allah now I know about the emotional component in it.

    The Qur’an just literally picks the brain. How Merciful is our creator ?

    • Avatar

      Abez

      May 31, 2013 at 5:02 PM

      “Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination.”
      Luqman [31:14]

      JazakAllahuKheiran for sharing this insight and Ayah.

      I never understood the importance of this until I had children myself, and I am willing to bet it’ll resonate even more strongly once they’ve grown up and gotten even more complicated than before. Everything I thought I “knew” about what my parents did for me was insignificant when compared to what I learned when I became a parent myself.

      So go hug your parents while you still can. :)

  8. Avatar

    still learning

    May 31, 2013 at 3:47 PM

    Sister, thank you for addressing this issue, I had this with my seventh child only and thought it would never happen to me. My cure was also listening to the Quran and going to the Masjid every night.

    • Avatar

      Abez

      May 31, 2013 at 4:57 PM

      SubhanAllah that you should get PPD with your 7th! That just goes to show it has nothing to do with lack of experience or mothering know-how! Alhamdulillah, glad to hear you were able to find solace. >>hugs<<

      • Avatar

        still learning

        June 1, 2013 at 10:03 AM

        ((hug back)) sister, I think some of this is caused by hormonal imbalance, I was 40 yrs old at the time and also I had some issues i had been repressing for a long time. I started spending time listening to Quran every evening, esp Surat Qaf because it makes me cry, it was very cathartic for me.

  9. Avatar

    Ummhamzamuslimah

    May 31, 2013 at 4:16 PM

    Sister without really knowing it consciously perhaps you basically sought ruqya : quran and islamic teachings to get u out. My advice to sisters who feel down for days without a particular cause , pls recite surah baqarah in one day each day and you will FEEL the difference. At the very least, play it in your home.

    • Avatar

      Abez

      May 31, 2013 at 4:58 PM

      AssalamuAlaikum sister- I think you may be right about that. Although I hadn’t thought about it consciously in terms of seeking ruqiya, that’s exactly what ruqiya is- healing from the Qur’an. It definitely works, though for me simply listening to Qur’an or playing it in the background didn’t really feel like much. I had to recite it.

    • Avatar

      samreen

      August 26, 2014 at 3:04 PM

      Surah baqarah is quite lengthy… can we recite only 1 ruku a day. Will it also help ??

  10. Avatar

    Sister

    June 1, 2013 at 2:04 AM

    I used to think depression was just something people made up until it hit me.It doesn’t matter whether your practicing or not.I had the best Ramadan in 2012.I made so much dua prayed long hours in Qiyaam plus in the last ten nights of Ramadan.i was on a spiritual high.One month after Ramadan it hit me.I was depressed for over eight months.I felt like committing suicide and most people I talked to and articles I read talked about lack of eeman and me being an ungrateful person.Like you said Quran really helps.I would recommend reading a very good translation,reciting or listening when you don’t feel like reciting.Plus get professional help and make lots of dua.One of the best things I learnt from the experience is making so much dua outside of Salaah.My prayers were not of the best of quality during this period.But when I sit in my bed crying I always asked Allah for help.
    I wish most Muslims will recognize the fact that depression is real and stop giving silly advice and making comments about you not being a true mumin.

    • Abez

      Abez

      June 5, 2013 at 12:25 PM

      I wish I could give this comment more than one thumbs up. It deserves at least ten.

  11. Avatar

    Umm

    June 1, 2013 at 9:24 AM

    Assalamu’alaikum Sister Abez,

    So are you now fully recovered? May Allah grant you the best level of reward for your patience, ameen :)

    • Abez

      Abez

      June 2, 2013 at 5:42 AM

      Walaikum Assalam Sister- Yes, Alhamdulillah. My third child is now two years old, and while I still occasionally struggle with anxiety, and stress, I don’t think it’s outside the realm of what you can expect with three young children. Alhamdulillah :)

  12. Avatar

    anoone

    June 1, 2013 at 5:19 PM

    Assalamualikaum..
    Very inspiring..!!
    Jazak Allah khair

  13. Avatar

    Umm Esa

    June 2, 2013 at 6:13 AM

    JazakAllahu khayran sister for writing this article. I have been looking for information regarding pregnancy, child-birth, post-birth and parenting recently. Unfortunately, I feel that a detailed literature in this area (from Muslim-perspective) still needs to be compiled and be accessible. I am grateful that you brought this topic up. The Realization that a certain disorder/ problem may not be unique to ourselves alone can us help seek assistance, and not be embarrassed about it.

    • Abez

      Abez

      June 4, 2013 at 3:13 AM

      “The Realization that a certain disorder/ problem may not be unique to ourselves alone can us help seek assistance, and not be embarrassed about it.”

      InshaAllah, Ameen!

      Sis, if you are currently researching stuff, maybe you can put together a Muslim-flavored writeup on what you find?

  14. Avatar

    Umm A

    June 2, 2013 at 7:25 PM

    Assalamu-alaikum, JazaakAllaahu khayr and hugs x hugs for sharing this sister. Alhamdulillah, I only probably had ‘baby blues’ or mild PPD but Lord did I feel miserable..all compounded by other social/health issues at the time. More than anything, lack of understanding on the part of spouses and family makes it worse. Social isolation, whether obvious or not plays a big part as well. If it is affordable or feasible, sometimes a change in scenery, a short holiday can help ‘reset’ yourself methinks; of course in conjunction with asking Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’Ala profusely. May Allah Ta’Ala make ease for all mommies….

    • Abez

      Abez

      June 4, 2013 at 3:17 AM

      “May Allah Ta’Ala make ease for all mommies….”

      Ameen! And since and certain amount of mommyness cannot be made any easier, thank Allah for giving mothers a special status and InshaAllah, forgiveness through sabr. :)

  15. Avatar

    Khalidah

    June 3, 2013 at 7:25 PM

    As-salaamu ‘alaykum sister Abez, Jazaakillaah khairan kathiraa for sharing your story with us. Your article is full of gems, maa shaa ALLAH. I believe the Qur’an and the methods you sought in overcoming your struggle can work for anyone going through any type of depression; I’ve personally seen the solutions you gave as the only means of surviving during states of depression. May ALLAH swt ease our affairs for us, protect us, and guide us. Ameen.

    • Abez

      Abez

      June 4, 2013 at 3:20 AM

      “I believe the Qur’an and the methods you sought in overcoming your struggle can work for anyone going through any type of depression; ”

      Walaikum Assalam Sis Khadija- I agree with you 1000%- I had to rely on the same coping methods when my son was diagnosed with autism- Qur’an, and LOTS of dua. :)

  16. Avatar

    Berserk Hijabi

    June 4, 2013 at 2:44 AM

    Reading Muslim Matters articles make me want To fast forward to Ramadan.I love u Muslim Matters!

  17. Avatar

    PPD recovery

    June 5, 2013 at 6:06 PM

    I too suffered from PPD with my first child, or so I thought. Then Allah destined a miscarriage. The miscarriage took care of the PPD like magic. In fact after the miscarriage I looked back at the moments I had not treasured with the first newborn. The miscarriage brought upon thoughts of guilt about how I had self diagnosed the PPD by Googleing things up.

    • Avatar

      Abez

      June 6, 2013 at 3:47 PM

      May Allah forgive your sins and compensate your loss with blessings sister. Why did you feel guilty for self-diagnosing PPD?

  18. Avatar

    Mammie

    June 11, 2013 at 8:10 AM

    Assalaamualaikum my sister

    Jazakillah Khayran for your touching article. I am almost due with my second baby Alhamdulilah and travelling to my home country to delivery this time inshaAllah. I see myself reflected in your article after my first baby was born, except that instead of thoughts of suicide, I became obsessed with going to the gym daily for months after the delivery & feel could have bonded more with my baby instead if I was in the right frame of mind. I felt I needed my normal body back, also spurred by my insecurity that my loving husband would be ‘turned off’ me if I still carried all this baby flab around for long! Depression was no stranger incidentally having creeped into my student days from time to time, when I was away from my home country & family. This time I was intent on beating PPD, and turned to running (on the treadmill)!

    But running alone turned me into a kind of ‘maniac escapee mum’ after shedding a crazy 30kilos in 5 months. I was still unhappy generally & would only let my tears fall & let down my guard while I ran sometimes for 30minutes non-stop at high speed. My worldview post-baby was still tainted with anger and frustration even though I hid it from others; I viewed the silence and distance of my friends post-delivery as betrayal, everything and everyone else was to be blamed subhanallah. Until just like you, I started reading the Quran with my baby listening near me, attending online Ilm classes, my heart then found peace. I understood that the most important thing is to nurture & thank Allah for my new family unit and strive my best as a new mother no matter how steep the climb. The physical highs I felt after each gym session and spiritual highs after each ilm class (albeit interrupted by the needs of my baby), healed my hurt Alhamdulilah & made me a stronger woman. As you also point out, I now know exactly who to turn to and where to turn to inshaAllah.

    Final word, if I may do so, I would also like to advise my dear sisters out there to maintain a flexible fitness routine after delivery alongside a spiritual regimen, seek good company of our dear husbands, families & sincere sisters and make lots of duas to Allah SWT to beat those whisperings of Shaytaan and from our own nafs & hormones! May Allah make us mums the means to become the true Jannah for our offsprings, Ameen :)

    • Avatar

      Abez

      June 13, 2013 at 2:29 PM

      AssalamuAlaikum Sister, may Allah make your upcoming delivery easy and your new baby healthy. :) InshaAllah, may your post-partum recovery be easier and more full of love than your previous experience, especially now that you know:

      “The physical highs I felt after each gym session and spiritual highs after each ilm class (albeit interrupted by the needs of my baby), healed my hurt Alhamdulilah & made me a stronger woman. As you also point out, I now know exactly who to turn to and where to turn to inshaAllah.”

      You summed it up beautifully. :)

  19. Avatar

    Ssamo

    July 15, 2013 at 3:18 AM

    Salam! I started reading the ramadan post and was so inspired as this year I was really struggling and then at the bottom, this post caught my eye so I linked over.
    The two posts were exactly what I needed in this moment. This Ramadan snuck up on me. Every year I get super excited just waiting for the reconnection to God and the community that I know I will have in this month. When I think of Ramadan, I remember the days of being a kid begging my parents to go to taraweeh so we could see our friends and play. Although it took a few years until i developed the wisdom to join the actual prayers, those were the days that developed my love for Ramadan and the masjid.
    Last year I was pregnant while working almost 80 hrs/wk so was not able to fast. This year I am nursing but decided this would not stop me from fasting. But this year, instead of my usual excitement I felt something new… i felt fear as Ramadan approached. I now had two kids, was starting a new job on the first day of Ramadan and had never really fasted such long days (since I missed last year). In fact, my faith had been seriously struggling and I am ashamed to admit, since my baby was born, I could count the number of times I had prayed. I had been so depressed after the baby was born, but unlike others, instead of using my faith to pull me out of it, my faith continued to dwindle. By the time Ramadan arrived, I was still struggling with maybe PPD and thought fasting would be the cure. Day one, I went to the masjid- the same masjid that I once so loved and begged to go to- and I felt sadder. The women’s area was a small crowded boxed off section and after two rakah, the imam reprimanded the mom with the crying baby in the back as I worked to keep my baby quiet so I could feel part of the community in prayer. I struggled to focus on the quran recitation while trying to keep my baby from crawling away. I felt empty. I truly felt like there was no place in the masjid for young moms. The masjid definitely did not feel welcoming.
    Today, I was accepting that maybe the next time I could pray taraweeh in jamaat will be when my kids are older. Reading your posts about PPD and gaining the most from Ramadan without fasting reminded me of something that I had long forgotten. My faith is in my hands. My faith and my connection to God is not limited to fasting or praying scheduled prayers. My faith is what I make it. There are many ways for me to find my iman again. But in the end it’s up to me. I can’t just hang my hat on fasting, thinking that feeling hungry all day will magically be all I need to cleanse my heart. It’s going to take more than that and I’m going to have to put in the time. My kids and work are not keeping me from God, I am.
    Also, I tried to ignore my ‘depression’ as I was always torn about the idea that if you were a true Muslim you couldn’t be depressed. Especially being in the medical field, I had a hard time reconciling the idea that I could feel so depressed despite logically knowing how blessed I truly was. But subhanallah, you stated it well Abez, why would Allah offer a treatment for an ailment that didn’t exist. I can do this, I just need the right ammunition.
    This post and comments brought tears. I must say abez, I think of you and your family often as you were not only unique ;) but always an inspiration to me growing up. Thank you for sharing.
    May Allah bless you and your family.

  20. Abez

    Abez

    July 16, 2013 at 6:20 AM

    AssalamuAlaikum Samo. :) You know what’s funny, you and your sisters inspired me growing up, so I guess it’s a fair trade?

    I have come to accept that I will probably not be able to pray Tarawih in a masjid for quite a while longer, but it turns out that I actually enjoy praying Tarawih more at home. Moreso than the rosy “community” idea, I prefer the one-on-one focus on concentration on my connection to Allah during salah. The ROI is much higher, because guess what- I don’t have to worry about my two year old crawling away or my five year old saying she’s bored of my seven year old having an accident on the carpet because the prayers are too long!

    And- here’s the best part- we get more sawaab for praying at home than we do at the masjid. :) What a mercy that is, Alhamdulillah- because Allah knows that no matter how “welcoming” of young mothers a masjid is, you can’t concentrate on prayers if the baby is crying, the toddler is escaping, and the big kid is running around and playing with friends- just like we used to when we were younger. :) None of what our kids do has anything to do with the masjid being welcome, because it would probably distract us whether other people were bothered or not.

    And in regard to the depression- I’ve been there, trust me. Not just PPD, but also a miscarriage and the stress of having a son diagnosed with autism. It’s real, and the Qur’an is the answer. Even the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- had an entire YEAR of sadness following the death of Khadija- may Allah be pleased with her. It was the same year his uncle died, and so Allah brought him to Jannah for Isra & Miraaj.

    You can choose how close you want to be Allah, even if your route of choice is not open. Because there’s more than one road to Jannah, InshaAllah. :)

    Hugs,
    Abez

  21. Avatar

    sara

    July 26, 2013 at 3:12 AM

    I don’t know if what I went through was this, and noone would believe me if I told them so. Like you said I kept it completely hidden from everyone except my husband, and him just tried to explain my strange crying outbursts. People really need to learn about this, if it didn’t exist before, it certainly does now, and if men and some women don’t believe it, the least they can do is offer some support. It’s shameful, but some women actually fall into harm when they are surrounded by unbelieving, criticizing, unhelpful folk.

  22. Avatar

    andrea

    August 4, 2013 at 3:17 PM

    I don’t usually comment on things but I just want to give a heartfelt thank you for writing this. Jazakallahu khair.

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  25. Avatar

    -A

    July 26, 2016 at 4:30 AM

    And there are those of us women who are middle aged or older (a minority of us) who have never married and therefore had no children (of those of us who wanted marriage and children) who suffer grief from that. The grief, depression, isolation and social stigma of childlessness is often overlooked in the Muslim as well as other communities. Add to that clinical depression and it can take on a new level.

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Do You Know Why Uzma Was Killed?

#JusticeForUzma is a campaign that highlights the many terrible ways household help is treated in places around the world. Here, Fatima Asad writes about how she is raising her children to be the change they want to see in their society. 

Fatima Asad

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Last week, Pakistani society was struggling with the story of the horrific murder of Uzma, a teenager, who worked as a house maid in the city of Lahore. The 16-year-old was allegedly tortured for months and then murdered by the woman she worked for…for taking a bite from the daughter’s plate. #JusticeForUzma is a campaign that highlights the many terrible ways household help is treated in places around the world. Here, Fatima Asad writes about how she is raising her children to be the change they want to see in their society. 

By Fatima Asad

Living in Pakistan, my children realize that within the gates of our neighborhood, they will see no littering, they will not experience water or electricity shortages and certainly, no one will be knocking on the door begging for food or money. The reason they have this realization is because I make it the day’s mission to let them know about their privilege, about the ways they have been blessed in comparison to the other, very real, living, breathing little girls and boys outside those gates. Alas, my children come face to face with those very real people as soon as the gates close behind us.

“Why are there so many poor people in Pakistan, Mommy?” they ask, quite regularly now, unsatisfied with the answers I’ve provided so far. The question perpetually makes me nervous, uncomfortable, and I hastily make a lesson plan in my mind to gradually expose this world’s truths to them… ahista, ahista…(slow and steady).

But on days like these, when we find out about the death of yet another underprivilged young girl (they’re becoming redundant, aren’t they?), on days like these, I want to hold them, shake them, scream at them to wake up!

Wake up, my child! Beta jaag jao.

Do you know why that little girl we see outside, always has dirt on her face and her hair is in visible knots?

It is because, there are too many people who can take a shower anytime they want, who have maids to oil, brush and style their hair.

Do you know why there are children with no clothes on their backs?

It is because, there are too many of us with too many on ours. There are too many of us with walk-in closets for mothers and matching wardrobes for their infant daughters. We obsess about tailors, brands, this collection, last season. How often do we hear or say “can’t repeat that one”, “this one is just not my thing anymore…”

Do you know why there are children with their cheeks sunk deep in their skulls, scraping for our leftovers in our trashcans?

Because there are too many of us, who are overstuffed with biryani, burgers, food deliveries, dinner parties, chai get-togethers, themed birthday cupcakes, and bursting appetites for more, more, more, and different, different, different.

There are too many of us craving the exotic and the western, hoping to impress the next guest that comes to lunch with our useless knowledge of foods that should not be our pride, like lasagna, nuggets, cinnamon rolls, banana bread, pizza, minestrone soup, etc.

There are too many of us who do not want to partake from our outdated, simple traditional cuisines… that is, unless we can put a “cool” twist on them.

Do you know why there are children begging on the streets with their parents? Because there are too many of us driving in luxury cars to our favorite staycation spots, rolling up the windows in the beggars’ faces.

We are rather spent our money of watching the latest movies for family nights, handing out cash allowances to our own kids so they won’t feel left out when going out.

Do you know why there are mothers working during the days and sacrificing their nights sewing clothes for meager coins? Why there are fathers, who sacrifice their sleep and energy to guard empty mansions at the cost of their self-respect? Because there are too many of us attending dance rehearsals for weddings of the friends we backstab and envy. Because there are too many of us binge-watching the latest hot shows on Netflix, hosting ghazal nights to pay tribute to dead musicians and our never-ending devotion for them, and many more of us viciously shaking our heads when the political analyst on TV delivers a breaking report on a millionaire’s private assets.

Do you know why there are people who will never hold a book in their hands or learn to write their own names? Do you know why there will never be proof that some people lived, breathed, smiled, or cried? Because there are too many of us who are given the best education money can buy, yet only end up using that education to improve our own selves – and only our own selves. There are too many of us who wear suits and ties, entrusted with building the country, yet too many of our leaders and politicians just use that opportunity to build their own legacies or secret, off shore accounts.

Do you know why children, yes children, are ripped apart from their parents, forced to provide their bodies and energies so that a stranger’s family can raise their kids? Because, there are too many of us who need a separate maid for each child we birth. Because, there are too many of us who have given the verdict that our children are worth more than others’.

Because, there are too many of us who need a maid to prove to frenemies our monetary worth and showcase a higher social class.

Because, there are too many of us who enslave humans, thinking we cannot possibly spoil our youth, energy and time on our own needs, our own tasks, our own lives.

Because, there are too many of us who need to be comfortable, indulged, privileged, spoiled, educated, satisfied, excited, entertained and happy at the expense of other living souls.

And we do all this, thinking—fooling ourselves into believing— that our comforts are actually a way of providing income for another human being. Too many of us think that by indulging in our self-centered lifestyles, we are providing an ongoing charity for society’s neediest.

Too many of us are sinking into a quicksand that is quite literally killing us. This needs to stop immediately. This accelerating trend of possessing and displaying more isn’t going to slow down on its own- in fact, it’s become deadly. Too many of our hearts have hardened, burnt to char.

More of us need to sacrifice our comforts, our desires, our nafs so others can have basic human rights fulfilled. More of us must say no to blind consumerism, envious materialistic competition and the need for instant gratification so others can live. We may have the potential to turn into monsters, but we have exceedingly greater potential to be empathetic, selfless revolutionaries. Too many of us have been living for the here and now, but more of us need to actively start thinking about the future.

Do we want to raise generations that will break bread with the less fortunate or do we want to end up with vicious monsters who starve and murder those they deem unworthy? The monsters who continue to believe that they have been blessed with more, so others can be given less than they are entitled to.

It is time for change andthe change has to start from within these gates.

#justiceforuzma #justiceformaids

 

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#Life

OpEd: Breaking Leases Into Pieces

Abu Awad

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Ali ibn Talib raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him)once said, “Know the truth and you’ll know who’s speaking the truth.” 

I am based in Canada and was recently having coffee with friends. In the course of the conversation, a friend (who I consider knowledgeable) said that it’s okay to pay interest on a leased car because interest doesn’t apply to lease contracts. This completely caught me off guard, because it made no logical sense that interest would become halal based solely on the nature of the contract.

I asked him how this can be true and his response was that the lease contract is signed with the dealer and the interest transaction is between the dealer and the financing company so it has nothing to do with the buyer. Again, this baffled me because I regularly lease cars and this is an incorrect statement: The lease agreement is signed with a third party financing company who is charging you directly for the interest they pay the car dealership. Therefore, any lease contract that has interest associated with it is haram. This is the same as saying your landlord can charge you interest for his mortgage on a rental contract and this would make it halal. I tried to argue this case and explain to my friend that what he was saying was found on false assumptions and one should seriously look into this matter before treating riba in such a light manner.

Upon going home that night, I pulled out all my lease contracts (negotiated to 0% mind you) and sent them over to my friend. They clearly showed that a bill of sale is signed with the dealer, which is an initial commitment to purchase but the actual lease agreement is signed with a third party financing company which is charging you interest directly. If this interest rate is anything above zero it is haram (anything which is haram in a large quantity is also haram in a small quantity).

To my dismay, instead of acknowledging his mistake, my friend played the “Fatwa Card” and sent me a fatwa from a very large fatwa body in North America, which was also basing their argument on this false assumption. Fortunately for me, my friend pointed out the hotline number and the day and time the mufti who gave the fatwa would be available to answer questions.

I got in touch with the scholar and over a series of text messages proceeded to explain to him that his fatwa was based on a wrong assumption and for this reason people would be misled into leasing cars on interest and signing agreements with financing companies which are haram.
He was nice enough to hear my arguments, but still insisted that “maybe things were different in Canada.” Again this disappointed me because giving fatwa is a big responsibility – by saying “maybe” he was implying that full research has not been done and a blanket fatwa has been given for all of North America.

It also meant that if my point was true (for both Canada and the United States) dozens of Muslims maybe engaging in riba due to this fatwa.

The next week I proceeded to call two large dealerships (Honda and Toyota) in the very city where the Fatwa body is registered in the US and asked them about paperwork related to leasing. They both confirmed that when leasing a new vehicle, the lease contract is signed with a third party financing company which has the lien on the vehicle and the dealer is acting on the financing company’s behalf.

It is only when a vehicle is purchased in cash that a contract is signed with the dealer. This proved my point that both in the US and Canada car lease contracts are signed with the financing company and the interest obligations are directly with the consumer, therefore if the interest rate is anything above 0% it is haram. I sent a final text to the mufti and my friend sharing what I had found and letting him know that it was now between them and Allah.

1. As we will stand in front of Allah alone on Yaum al Qiyamah, in many ways we also stand alone in dunya. You would think that world renowned scholars and an entire institution would be basing their fatwas on fact-checked assumptions but this is not the case. You would also think that friends who you deem knowledgable and you trust would also use logic and critical thinking, but many times judgment is clouded for reasons unbeknownst to us. We must not take things at face value. We must do our research and get to the bottom of the truth. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says to stand up for truth and justice even if it be against our ourselves; although it is difficult to do so in front of friends and scholars who you respect, it is the only way.

2. There are too many discussions, debates and arguments that never reach closure or get resolved. It is important to follow up with each other on proofs and facts to bring things to closure, otherwise our deen will slowly be reduced to a swath of grey areas. Alhamdulillah, I now know enough about this subject to provide a 360 degree view and can share this with others. It is critical to bring these discussions to a close whether the result is for you or against you.

3. Many times we have a very pessimistic and half hearted view towards access to information. When I was calling the dealerships from Canada in the US,  part of me said: Why would these guys give me the information? But if you say Bismillah and have your intentions in the right place Allah makes the path easy. One of the sales managers said “I can see you’re calling from Toronto, are you sure you have the right place?” I replied, “I need the information and if you can’t give it to me I don’t mind hanging up.” He was nice enough to provide me with the detailed process and paperwork that goes into leasing a car.

Finally, I haven’t mentioned any names in this opinion and I want to make clear that I am not doubting the intentions of those who I spoke to; I still respect and admire them greatly in their other works. We have to be able to separate individual cases and actions from the overall person.

May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) guide us to the truth and rid of us any weaknesses or arrogance during the process.

Aameen.

Ed’s Note: The writer is not a religious scholar and is offering his opinion based on his research on leasing contracts in North America.

Suggested reading:

Muslim’s Guide to Debt and Money Management Part 6

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#Current Affairs

Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah: A Genuine Muslim Voice for Peace

Mufti Mustafa Ceric

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By Mufti Mustafa Ceric, Ph.D,

Grand Mufti Emeritus of Bosnia

The essence of the faith of Islam comes from two primary sources: the Qur’an, which is God’s revelation, and the Sunnah, which is the teachings, traditions, and attributes of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. But the nature of Muslims come from their many peoples and tribes:

“O men, God has created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes so that you may know one another. But, indeed, the most noble of you is the most morally correct among you. God knows and is well informed about everything.” (Qur’an, 49:13).

Thus, the experience of the faith of Muslims is as diverse as the nature of their national and tribal backgrounds. Therefore, both a specific God-given nature and a specific societal experience of Muslims must be recognized and appreciated within a global Islamic civilization, as long as the principle of tawḥīd (oneness of God), as is expressed in Lā il ā ha illa Allah, and the principle of an ultimate nubuwwah (prophethood of Muhammad, peace be upon him) are properly upheld. This diversity in the unity of the faith of Islam is a blessing for our ummah. Hence, Muslims must see the various natures and experiences of their fellow Muslims as a blessing from God that enriches an overall Islamic culture and civilization in the world.

Inspired by the reality of this blessing, I would like to share with you my perspective which stems from my God-given nature, my war and peace experience as a Muslim in Bosnia and a genocide survivor in Europe, and how I also see myself as belonging to the universal Muslim community today. Indeed, I would like to tell you why I believe that the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies in Abu Dhabi, UAE, led by the esteemed Muslim scholar Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, is a right path of Islam and a good program of peace for Muslims around the world.

My testimony is based on my personal nature and my own first-hand experience of war and peace in Bosnia without a need of apology to anyone. It starts from the fact that, during the war and postwar time in Bosnia, it was hard to find a peace initiative from a credible Muslim group or institution to help me engage in dialogue and trust building with others. All the peace initiatives were coming from Christian groups or institutions that, by this very fact, had an advantage in presenting their case. So, when a major Muslim peace initiative was introduced by Sheikh Bin Bayyah in 2014 in Abu Dhabi, I was delighted to be invited to join it. Indeed, I was praying for its success and continuity because rarely do genuine Muslim ideas survive the tremendous pressure of staunch opponents who oppose such initiatives if they are not in— if it’s not their own idea. Fortunately, it seemed that the Forum for Promoting Peace in Abu Dhabi was spared this destiny—until the last, and in my opinion, the best of all Forums so far—the Fifth Forum of 2018. We know from the Qur’an and Sunnah that right and constructive critique is an important aspect of the nature of Islam, but the recent hate-speech and false accusations against the Forum are not in accordance with the nature of Islam and as such are not of an Islamicʼ adab (ethics) and ʼakhlāq (morality).

Let me say that neither the esteemed Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah nor Shaykh Hamza Yusuf is in need of my defense. They are capable and upright people; their lifelong dedication to Islamic work speaks for itself. I feel the need to raise my voice clearly and loudly in defense of the importance of promoting peace, and the work of both esteemed scholars towards that goal. I humbly claim to be aligned with them in this purpose. And we should be grateful to the government of the UAE for supporting this project that has already engaged prominent religious, academic, cultural, and political leaders from around the world and earned their respect and commitment to this cause of peace.

First, no one has a monopoly on peace, but everyone has a duty to promote peace in their own way because, by its very definition, “Islam” is the concept of peace, and thus a “Muslim” is also by definition a peaceful man or woman. Therefore, the Forum for Promoting Peace is an application of this unique and powerful concept of Islam, namely the concept of peace.

Second, no one has a monopoly on tolerance, but everyone has an obligation to learn and teach tolerance in his or her neighborhood and surroundings because Islam is the faith of tolerance, made clear in the Qur’anic injunction: “there is no compulsion in religion” ( lā ikrā h a fī l-dī n) .

Third, no one has a monopoly on dignity, but everyone is entitled to enjoy the right of life (al-nafs), faith (al-dī n), freedom (al-ʿaql), property (al-māl), and dignity (al-ʿirḍ) because Muslim scholars defined these peace-oriented principles, and they did this long before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These principles are based on the letter and spirit of the Qur’an and the Sunnah as an amānah (trust) of the entire Muslim ummah, not just a part of it.

Fourth, no one has a monopoly on alliance, but everyone has the right to seek alliance with peace-loving persons and nations based on the example of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), who participated in an alliance prior to Islam, known as the ḥilf al-fu ḍūl (the Alliance of Virtues) that he also approved in Islam.

Fifth, no one has a monopoly on democracy, but everyone has the right to speak about democracy, even if they believe it can sometimes lead to tyranny. The Greek philosopher Socrates had that right as well. He used to say that oligarchies become democracies for predictable reasons: “Democracy comes into power,” Socrates says, “when the poor are the victors, killing some and exiling some, and giving equal shares in the government to all the rest.” It’s an “agreeable form of anarchy,” Socrates tells us and adds that “the insatiable desire for freedom occasions a demand for tyranny.”

Sixth, no one has a monopoly on moral preaching, but everyone has a duty to improve his own morality before preaching to others. Islam teaches us that a right moral praxis is better than empty preaching.

And finally, no one has a monopoly on Islam, but everyone has the duty of farḍ ʿayn (personal responsibility) and far ḍkif ā yah (collective responsibility) to behave in such a way that does not corrupt the moral teachings of Islam and does not compromise the right image of Islam and Muslims in the world for the sake of personal gains. The work of Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah and Shaykh Hamza Yusuf is their due of farḍ ʿayn and farḍ kifāyah for repairing a damaged picture of Islam and Muslims in the world, due to some irresponsible and militant groups who have claimed to act on behalf of Islam. Those who don’t understand the importance of the message of these scholars are out of touch with reality, and thus, cannot claim to be the right guide for the Muslims, especially in the West. Those among the Muslims, wherever they are, who still support a catastrophic regicide that has happened recently in some major Muslim countries ought to be advised that suicide, individual or collective, is not part of the nature of Islam. Indeed, Islam has never been a religion of destruction. Islam has always been a religion of constructive and inclusive culture and civilization.

Let me say that no Muslim with a good heart and sound mind can be indifferent to what is happening in Yemen, Libya, Syria, Myanmar (Burma), and elsewhere, where our Muslim brothers and sisters suffer. But this pain will not be removed by additional destructive ideas that would cripple the rest of the Muslim countries just because some others are in an internal or external conflict. On the contrary, our duty is to do whatever we can to prevent further destruction of the Muslim states and societies. The Muslims today don’t need more Palestines. They need more hearts and minds like Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah and Shaykh Hamza Yusuf. Indeed, they need more countries and societies like the UAE to support the promotion of peace and security among Muslim societies and others in the world.

And my final note to my Muslim brothers and sisters in the West is not to make a hasty judgment that is instigated by some people (and institutions) who do not have sympathy for Muslims who are suffering. If you cannot help the plight of Muslims today, then at least don’t make the Muslim situation worse than it is. Those who have not tasted the bitterness of war cannot fully appreciate the sweet taste of peace. I have tasted both. Therefore, my dear Muslim brothers, sisters, and friends, wherever you are, pray for peace and support those who work for peace, whoever they may be.

Mustafa Ceric, Ph.D.
Grand Mufti Emeritus of Bosnia

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