Connect with us

Family and Community

Look Who’s Coming Out, But It Isn’t What You Think

Zeba Khan

Published

on

The hardest part about coming out has got to be coming up with a good opening line.  I haven’t got one though. So I’ll give it to you straight.

I’m not gay, but I could be dying.

As fas I know, not imminently though.  I’ve known for years now that certain things in my body aren’t working properly – like my heart and a part of my brain called the autonomic nervous system, and because we all need our hearts and autonomic nervous systems to keep things running smoothly, I do have a potentially life-threatening condition.  Well, technically, I have two – Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

You look unsettled.  Don’t worry, a lot of people have that reaction.  You should see them when they try to shake my hand and find that it’s already shaking.  They search my face for nervousness, fear, or an explanation of why meeting them would horrify me so badly.  I tell them I have some medical conditions that can make my hands tremble.  They look blank.  Then I tell them how awesome it is – all my drinks are shakes and all of my toothbrushes are extra sonic.  They laugh uncertainly.

Laughter is important

When my son was six or seven months old we were in an accident that totalled the car and damaged my right knee.  My husband called me in the ER and when I picked up the phone he said, “Look, if you want me to spend more time with you, there are better ways of letting me know.”  We laughed.  Then he came and pushed my wheelchair around the ER in laps until the baby fell asleep and we went home and lived happily ever after.

Somewhere in the fairy tale our baby prince was diagnosed with autism, but that’s another story.  While I would be hanging out the baby prince’s baby laundry, my arms would get very tired.  Then we had a baby princess and if I stood up too quickly I would pass out.  A second princess was born and by then my muscles cramped and twitched and hurt for days at a time.  At present, I own the world’s heaviest smart phone, use both arms to carry a two-ton, 13-inch laptop, and have noted that carpenters don’t make sofas like they used to.  They’re hard to get out of, and on top of that – they make this huge WHOOSH and creak when I fall – errr – daintily settle into them.

But we’ve settled.  I have a full-time housekeeper and the driver takes the kids to and from school.  Not because I’m the Queen, but because the last time I mopped the kitchen my legs hurt for three days.  Chronic illness does have its perks – I can’t remember the last time I cleaned a bathroom.  Oh, and I have country-wide parking privileges.  Technically it’s called disabled parking, but I prefer to call it VIP.

I get special treatment

When I walk – because I  can – slowly out of my car, people specially glare at me, wondering why I’m parking in a disabled spot when I’m so obviously not in a wheelchair.  My husband says they’re just jealous, but once upon a time I too glared at people who parked in disabled spots and then skipped out of their luxury sports cars to the mall.  If you gave me a little red convertible, I’d probably skip too, but just once, and then I would limp for a few days before sulkily admitting that I probably shouldn’t skip anymore.

I don’t skip.

Also I don’t do stairs.

Or whistle.

The muscles of my mouth won’t.  It’s a nerve thing, I think.  I would never have known, since I’m not the whistling type, but I felt oddly insulted when my neurologist asked me if I could whistle.  “Of course I can!” I huffed, and pursed my lips together to produce an indignant ffffffffffft.

He waited.  I tried again. Then he made some notes and left me to mourn.

For a while I really did mourn.  And by a while, I mean a good year or so.  But the Kübler-Ross stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, are overrated, so I made up my own.  Instead of denial, I started with terror for my children’s future, followed by appreciating every minute details of their hands, faces, fingers, and words.  Then, I remembered what an idiot I’ve been for an overwhelming majority of my sentient life, and I began to beg for forgiveness before Allah called me for account.

There was never room for denial, as my creeping disability was constantly present, and finally getting a diagnosis was reassurance that I was not, indeed, crazy.  Because weakness, fatigue, and pain are invisible, and POTS is hard to diagnose, I was told many times that my symptoms were in my head.  Not that I was making them up – but that not being able to manage my stress was taking a toll on my body.  When my eye twitched for a week, I was told to relax and consider yoga.

It finally took a biopsy to confirm that my muscles were indeed atrophying.  Before that, it took X-rays, CT scans, lab tests, MRIs, and genetic testing to rule out nearly every other option before finally coming to POTS and Ehlers-Danlos.  It also took several modern forms of torture – clinically known as EMGs and EEGs.  In an EMG, they stab a needle an inch or two into your muscle and ask you to flex while they actually listen for muscle recruitment and response.  I would like you to consider how big a needle feels to have a microphone in it.

In an EEG they jab the prongs of a vicious, hospital-grade taser into your face, arms, and legs and then shock you with it.  There is also a good ole fashioned tape measure involved. The goal is to measure the speed at which your nerves conduct the shock along major pathways, and the tape measure is used to count how many inches you jump off the chair while they are doing so.

Just kidding.

They measure the length of your limbs in order to calculate the speed at which the shock traversed said distance.  So not only is it torture, it’s also math.

(If an electrical signal leaves the shoulder station at 4:15 pm travelling 30 mph, and the distance to the wrist is 60 centimeters, how hard will you punch the neurologist when it gets there?)

Are you laughing yet? Good, keep laughing.  Because now I’m going to be serious.  I have a seven-year old son with autism, a five-year old with exciting dreams, and a two-year old whose entire world revolves around me.  And they’re all really cute, MashaAllah.  In fact, they’re gorgeous, insane, challenging, and sweet.  My five year old said to me the other day, “Momma, your hand is shaking!”

“Yes dear,” I said quietly, “It does sometimes.”

“I’ll stop if for you!” she said.

And then she held my hand.

My heart hurts.

Emotionally, I mean.  Physically, too, sometimes, because I have tachycardia and chest pain, but being forced to withdraw from more and more of my children’s lives is a bigger pain that I had not anticipated.  I can’t climb.  I can’t slide.  I can’t carry beach toys through the sand.  I will never again take them to a water park, or have a picnic on top of a hill.  I may not live to see my youngest get to first grade.

For an entire year or more my prayers were fueled with the urgency of my possible impending death, but eventually, the terror subsided.  The shock value of OMG I COULD BE DYING?!  got replaced with OMG I’M STILL HERE!? and I started to accept my health problems as being Allah’s decision.   I changed my focus from dying with dignity to living with disability , but then I had a new and really serious problem:  my duas weren’t good anymore.  I wasn’t afraid anymore, and that made me… afraid.

So then I had some more learning to do.  I met with one Shaykh.  He told me that fear was only one door to Jannah.  Gratitude, contentment, and trust in Allah’s decisions were three more.  I may no longer be crying in fear, but I if I can call on Allah with contentment, gratitude, and trust, then new doors will open to me, InshaAllah.

Then another Shaykh – he asked me to focus on my family and my legacy.  So if you benefit from this article in some way, make dua for him too, because he asked me to write it.  This article is part of my legacy project to create things that will earn blessings even after my death. So please make dua for me, regardless of whether I’m not dead yet when you read this. JazakAllahuKhayran.

And then the third Shaykh – he talked about trusting Allah to look after my children after I died, since He was their Rabb after all.  I’m only a temporary caretaker.  Allah’s the one who’s been really looking out for them this whole time.

I know I haven’t been a good person, but I know that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is Most Merciful, Most Forgiving, and has promised forgiveness for those who sincerely seek it.  If I’m going to meet Allah soon, and I am a believer, and I have accepted His plans for my self, my children, and my family – I have nothing left but excitement.  Fear, yes – that I still have things to answer for, but definitely excitement.

Now, when I pray my heart is fluttery and nervous with excitement and my vision blurred with tears. I raise my hands and I whisper, “Oh Allah, please let me be among those who get to see your Blessed Face.”

There’s a naked greediness for khayr that you can only savor when you’re really, desperately, in need.  Also, there’s an exhilaration when you realize that when you pray, one of only three things will happen:

  1. Allah gives you what you ask for.
  2. Allah diverts or reduces a calamity that would otherwise have befallen you.
  3. Allah keeps your duas and gives them back to you on the Day of Judgment as blessings in your scale of deeds, when you need them most. This, as the hadith says, will be so utterly awesome and amazing that it will make you wish that none of your duas had ever been granted in this life.

I tell you, if I hadn’t been sick I would never have fallen so head over heels in love with dua.  It amazes me every time I think about it – when I make mention of Allah’s name, He makes mention of mine.

No matter how many times I remember that, it still humbles and awes me to think of the Lord who created the universes (plural) with nothing more than a word (Be) saying my name.  Were He to grant all of mankind everything they wished, their demands would not diminish His bounty any more than a needle dipped diminishes the sea – and He said my name? Me? A tiny, insignificant assortment of blood, bones, and ingratitude meandering through life and remembering Him only when I need Him, but the voice that created the cosmos spoke my name???

AllahuAkbar

I’m not afraid anymore.  I’m excited.  That doesn’t mean I’m not still asking Allah to forgive my past sins, or heal me, or protect and guide my children, or help me settle my debts before I die, it just means that making dua is a whole lot more fun than it ever used to be.  Some people are high on life.  Pfft.  I’m high on death, it’s awesome!

Unfortunately though, like every other non-chronically ill person whose body may or may not currently be dying, my faith ebbs and flows like tides on a beach.  When the tide is high, I swim out to the sweet water beyond the edge of the world like Reepicheep.  But when the tides are low, I struggle with my ankles in the sand and operational sea-foam up to my knees.

On a side note, there is a major difference between chronic illness on tv and chronic illness in real life.  If this were TV, I’d get a Hallmark made-for-TV special: the tragedy of the brave special needs mother fighting to convert her Christian mother and leave a legacy for her children before she bravely and stoically dies – but not before an instrumental montage of her fight for acceptance, happiness, and eventually peace, before bravely and stoically passing away.

Also, if I were sick on TV I’d probably be losing weight in the crescendo towards my glamorous, waif-like death; pale but strangely beautiful in a victorian-style dressing gown of some sort.  In real life I am overweight and physically unable to exercsie, I don’t own any dressing gowns, and I might not even die early.  I could just live a long, disabled life. In the TV version, I’m supposed to be dying as an inspiration to those who live.  In real life I might be around for a while.  And I might need you to brush my teeth for me.  Thanks.

In any case, if I’m going to be sick (and die maybe) and I’m going to learn a lesson from it, then you should probably learn it, too, because guess what?

We’re both dying

You and me buddy, both of our bodies are deteriorating, but the difference is that I can feel mine giving in.  And you might feel sorry for me, but consciousness of my own mortality is a gift.  Even though I didn’t ask to be sick, I cannot ignore how priceless a reminder it is.

Once upon a time, I mourned the deterioration of my body, but within this failing shell of flesh, my heart has been given new life.  My mental faculties have been honed to razor-sharpness against the whetstone of urgency.  My fears in this dunya – of rejection, of pity, of uselessness – have no place in serving my aakhirah.  I don’t know how much longer I have to live, or how functional I will be for the remainder of my life, but my sole mission it to make it to Jannah and try my best to help my mother and my children make it there as well.

My lessons are your lessons

My life is your life, the only difference being I know I’m constantly reminded of death but you’re probably still thinking you’re immortal.  Just because you aren’t old or sick doesn’t mean you won’t die tomorrow; alone, unprepared, and entirely ambushed by a spiritual audit that you’ve done nothing to prepare for.  So try this – set yourself a death date.

LovestomeetAllahSix months from now, assume you’re going to die.  Feel it, believe it, and imagine the circumstances that you’re going to die in.  Think about the shock and pain on the faces of your parents, your spouse, and your children.  Imagine them crying over your body.  Think of the sins you never repented for, the people you never apologized to, and the regrets you’ll have then about the choices you’re making now.  Circle the date in your calendar, post it on your wall and work towards it every day.  Your life will change when you remember death daily, just like mine has.

And you don’t even have to be sick.

For me, I’m grateful for my illness because apparently I needed my body to start dying in order for my heart to start coming alive.  There’s an appreciable irony here – now that my hands are weak and shaking, I want most desperately to raise them in prayer.  Now that I can no longer kneel in sajda or even stand in prayer, my entire soul wants to swim in the depths of khushu and not worry about coming up for air.

Sometimes I extend my sujud and hope, just hope, that the angel of death will meet me in prostration.  Other times, I touch my children’s faces and wonder how they’ll look all grown up and whether I’ll be with them.  Allah promises us in the Qur’an that after hardship will always come ease.  Sometimes though – both come at the same time.  I’ve never been more tired, more weak, or less able to tie my own shoes, but I’ve never felt stronger, calmer, or happier to be Muslim.

Alhamdulillah.

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.

144 Comments

144 Comments

  1. Amad

    Amad

    October 16, 2013 at 2:35 AM

    subhanallah sister– that was the most powerful post I have ever read… and so courageous of you to write it. May Allah preserve you and your family.

  2. Avatar

    Not known

    October 16, 2013 at 4:01 AM

    Read ur article. Can’t stop thinking abt life & my petty issues which r so ginormous in my mind. You r a gifted writer. Thank you for sharing. Duas for you and your family

  3. Avatar

    Salma

    October 16, 2013 at 5:38 AM

    SubhanaAllah a beautiful and powerful article. May Allah swt make these trials a means for your entry in to Jannah. Ameen.

  4. Avatar

    Nur

    October 16, 2013 at 5:49 AM

    Salamu Aleykum sister Abez,

    I just wanted to let you know that in your attempt to leave a legacy you have started my search for my own, I don’t know you but this article has pushed so many buttons in me I’m overwhelmed . I will never forget how I feel at this very moment, death is a real thing and me sticking my head in the sand will not push it away nor prolong my fate..

    This ayah came to mind,
    أَلَمْ يَأْنِ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَنْ تَخْشَعَ قُلُوبُهُمْ لِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ وَمَا نَزَلَ مِنَ الْحَقِّ وَلَا يَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ مِنْ قَبْلُ فَطَالَ عَلَيْهِمُ الْأَمَدُ فَقَسَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ ۖ وَكَثِيرٌ مِنْهُمْ فَاسِقُونَ

    It is time for our hearts to realize they were made for something bigger than this world and all that it contains..

    جزاك الله خيرا ورزقك الفردوس الاعلى ونعيما لا ينفذ فى الدنيا والاخرة

    You truly are an inspiration..

    Wassalam

    • Avatar

      Alia

      October 22, 2013 at 6:17 PM

      Which surah is the ayah u mentioned above in?

      • Avatar

        Um Faisal

        October 22, 2013 at 11:16 PM

        آية 16 سورة الحديد

  5. Avatar

    La Chica Del Universo

    October 16, 2013 at 7:45 AM

    I have read an article and it changed my life. Thank you sister. I cannot find the proper words to describe how extremely beautiful, positive, (and funny!:), meaningful, strong that was. You are a hero sister, in real life. Maybe a hero who occasionally needs sb to brush her teeth, but definetely a hero! Jazakallahu Khayran. May Allah treat you with the best in both worlds.

  6. Avatar

    Yasir Qadhi

    October 16, 2013 at 10:31 AM

    Sr. Abez, as Allah is my witness, you are a true inspiration to me and to many, many others.

    Allah will take care of you, and of your children after you. Put your trust in Him, for only He is worthy of that trust.

    Your brother in Islam,

    Yasir Qadhi

    • Avatar

      Abez

      October 16, 2013 at 1:38 PM

      JazakAllahukheiran, for the part you’ve played in helping me understand my situation and giving me the reminders I needed to trust Allah.

      Ameen.

      • Avatar

        Fritz

        October 17, 2013 at 6:56 AM

        I was wondering at which point does one stop making Dua for cure and move to a “living with disability” mode?

        I have found that in our communities people often start to trawl through the person’s past history and say “oh maybe it was because of a,b,c…”; did you find that yourself (or even have a similar process yourself)?

        Anyways, sounds like you have a very supporting family mashAllah and I am sure many will take inspiration from your patience and perservearance.

        • Avatar

          Amber

          October 17, 2013 at 3:30 PM

          I felt that way when I had cancer – that well meaning people were trying to find a link between something I had done in the past to me getting cancer. While their intentions might not have to blame me for getting it, I felt that perhaps they thought I deserved it due to xyz I did in my life.

          Sometimes things just happen and the only way I could reconcile with my diagnosis was to know Allah was testing me and giving me hardship so I can seek his forgiveness.

          Dear sister, you are amazing and may Allah grant you and your family peace in this world and the other.

        • Avatar

          Abez

          October 18, 2013 at 7:39 AM

          Fritz, Amber: Yes, people do have a tendency to look for cause & effect. That’s the way humans work. I had the same issues when my son was diagnosed with autism, and people said “well maybe it’s because you always picked him up!” or “maybe it was his vaccine” or “maybe it’s in the family!”

          To make a long story short- everything comes from Allah. Everything is a test. Every test in an opportunity to earn blessings. Full stop. It doesn’t matter what the mechanism is- environmental, chemical or genetic- there are people who live good, healthy lives and die suddently of cancer. And there are people who live hard, smoke, and abuse their bodies only to die of “natural causes” at the age of 100.

          At the end of the day it’s all about what Allah has written for us. That’s cause enough.

          And I still pray to be cured, but I also pray for live with contentment for what Allah wills for me. They’re not mutually exclusive, so there wasn’t a dramatic shift of any sort. :)

    • Avatar

      Fatima

      December 9, 2016 at 6:44 AM

      How is this sister doing now. I have read this post many times in lst three years. Any update ?

  7. Avatar

    Abeer E.

    October 16, 2013 at 10:48 AM

    May Allah bless you & your family sister. I laughed, I cried, & I related more than you know. I’m often reminded that blessings come in disguise, & this was a powerful reminder. Jazaki Allah khair for sharing your story & Eid Mubarak :)

  8. Avatar

    Ubah

    October 16, 2013 at 11:30 AM

    Assalamu alaykum dear Sister,

    I’m really at a loss of words to describe the emotions that I’m feeling after reading your post. I want you to know that your raw honesty and drive has totally changed my perspective on so many things. Cultivating gratitude has been on the top of my mental to-do list, and this article came at such a timely moment.

    This part stuck a cord with me:

    “My lessons are your lessons. My life is your life, the only difference being I know I’m constantly reminded of death but you’re probably still thinking you’re immortal. Just because you aren’t old or sick doesn’t mean you won’t die tomorrow; alone, unprepared, and entirely ambushed by a spiritual audit that you’ve done nothing to prepare for.”

    It’s so true.

    You are so brave and such a hero, and I want you to know that you *have* indeed already left a legacy behind and you’ve inspired so many people all across the globe.

    May Allah(SWT) bless, protect ,and forgive you and your family dear Sis, ameen.

  9. Avatar

    grace

    October 16, 2013 at 12:50 PM

    Sister, I have always loved your work, now i love it even more. You have a gift, thank you for sharing
    Your honesty and sense of humor are so refreshing. Jazakee Allah Kharyun

  10. Avatar

    Abez

    October 16, 2013 at 1:36 PM

    AssalamuAlaikum to everyone- I’m really humbled by the response this post has gotten, and boy am I am ever grateful that I wrote “Fear of Good Deeds” before this posted, because now I know what dua to make when praised.

    اللهمَ اجْعَلْنِى خَيْرًا مِمَّا يَظُنُّونَ وَاغْفِرْ لِى مَا لَا يَعْلَمُونَ وَلَا تُؤَاخِذْنِى بِمَا يَقُولُون

    O Allāh, make me better than what they think of me, and forgive me for what they do not know about me, and do not take me to account for what they say about me.

    JazakAllahuKheiran for the duas- I’ll take all the prayers I can get. And I pray as well that people are able to learn a lesson from my situation, which betters their position in the Aakhira as well as mine. :)

    • Avatar

      Aron

      November 1, 2013 at 7:32 PM

      I’m sorry I somehow pressed dislike 2 times and don’t know how to cancel :( I really love this article and also your comment is lovely.

  11. Avatar

    Hayat

    October 16, 2013 at 2:18 PM

    Sister, your posts have been a great help to me in so many ways. Its heart-aching to learn the truth but so is the case with truth. I pray to Allaah that in His infinite mercy, He may make a place for you in Janaatul Firdaus. Your recommendation to take up a deadline for this life is an effective one. I tried such a thing from July to September, and it has helped me in achieving firmness in my deen. I would recommend the same thing to the readers. It worked for me.

  12. Avatar

    Siraaj

    October 16, 2013 at 2:19 PM

    What a well-written piece, masha’Allah =) Your comedic timing and commentary was better than any made-for-tv tragedy biopic could have done justice for, lol.

    I gave some thought to your challenge of setting a date for some time until death. I’m thinking I may try one year and see how that changes my priorities, as that’s far enough out to get something done, yet close enough that it can change quite a bit of one’s actions.

    This post and your resilience and humor through these difficulties, and sharing them with us is both inspirational and also appreciated. May Allah (SWT) enable you to see all your grandchildren with full physical capability, and make your difficulties easy on you and your family. As Shaykh Yasir said above, have no fear that Allah (SWT) will take care of your family.

    • Avatar

      Abez

      October 18, 2013 at 7:41 AM

      Brother, I would LOVE to see a mega-post following the year leading up to your “death.” I think that would be awesome.

  13. Avatar

    Zaid Mohammad (@Zaid_m95)

    October 16, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    Subhan’Allah, its posts like these that make me reflect on my own life, and where its going to go in the future.

    I do plan on contributing to your legacy, and I have placed a death date time, and am motivated to work towards that, to try and bring a change in my own particular life. Jazak’Allahu Khairan
    and I pray that Allah(Swt) accepts every effort you have put.

  14. Avatar

    The Salafi Feminist

    October 16, 2013 at 2:37 PM

    I read this earlier today and couldn’t think of anything to say that hasn’t already been said, or that would reflect accurately how deeply moved I am. I’m trying again now, because… well, because this was too incredible to not say something about.

    This made me tear up, and made my heart ache, and my soul honored that you are my sister in Islam.

    Heartbreaking and humorous at the same time – may Allah answer every one of your du’as, and always protect your eman, your inspirational spirit, your sense of humour, and your family.

  15. Avatar

    Hamiidah

    October 16, 2013 at 3:31 PM

    Masha Allah Sis. Beautiful. May Allah do the best for you in this life and the next and may He care for your children and reunite you all, indeed all of us in aljannatul firdaws,amin. May Allah love you.

  16. Avatar

    Ash Shams

    October 16, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    May Allah accept all your duas sister Abez.
    To Allah we belong and to Him is our return – I pray you, your family, I, the entire ummah is raised as as sabiqoon on the day of judgement.
    My sincere duas and love towards your little ones and your family. May Allah bless you all with sabr – ameen ya rabbi.

    Jazak Allah khair for writing this amazing and courageous post.

  17. Avatar

    Maryam

    October 16, 2013 at 3:43 PM

    sr.Abez, I don’t have words other than to say may Allah make you of His awliyaa and make your progeny and every person you love of His awliyaa and join you all in the highest Paradise with the Prophet sal Allahu alayhe wa salam without reckoning.

  18. Avatar

    Nirgaz

    October 16, 2013 at 4:31 PM

    Indeed these hardships are blessings in disguise. My daughter was diagnosed in utero with a serious heart defect, she had open heart surgery at 5 days old and is now doing well Alhamdullilah. She was diagnosed with Turner Syndrome afterwards and will need more heart surgeries in future and may have other health issues. But I am forever grateful…her issues made me rely on Allah more than ever. Also personally I suffer from Manic Depressive Disorder…this has made being a mother and a wife a huge struggle…but it also made me rely on Allah completely.
    Sister I loved your article and JazakAllah for the reminders <3

    • Avatar

      Abez

      October 18, 2013 at 7:43 AM

      May Allah strengthen you and your daughter, in health as well as Iman and make the trials easy and the taste of Iman sweet. <<>> and Wa Iyaki

  19. ibnabeeomar

    ibnabeeomar

    October 16, 2013 at 4:54 PM

    Amazing article, jazakallahu khayr

  20. Avatar

    Olivia Kompier

    October 16, 2013 at 5:11 PM

    Seriously speechless. Masha’Allah you are nothing short of an inspiration and i loved the way you wrote this <3 may Allah bless you and your family always.

  21. Avatar

    Fatma

    October 16, 2013 at 5:17 PM

    Assalam u Alaykum ya jama3,
    Sister Abez you have no idea how much I am touched by this and what emotions you have awakened in me, may Allah make me as God-fearing, death-awaiting and thankful as you. May Allah subside your pain but keep the positive effects it has had on you. May he take care of you and your family while you are yet alive and even more so after you have commenced your journey to an eternity of peace, joy,love and beauty in Jannah, Insha Allah. May He guide all onto the right path and make us among those believers that He has prepared immense rewards for. May we all meet under his shade of love in Jannah.
    Jazakillah Khair

  22. Avatar

    Moath

    October 16, 2013 at 5:23 PM

    I ask Allah to gather you and us with Prophet Mohammad in Jannat Al-ferdous inshallah, thank you for the reminder.

  23. Avatar

    ummabdullah

    October 16, 2013 at 5:27 PM

    My life for the past almost 2 years has come packaged with similarish hardships. I could relate so well. Your test is inshallah raising your level with Allah! It is waking you out of the stupor many of us are still functioning in.

    I want to leave you with a one word advice: ruqya.

    Ruqya attacks the cause of all types of illness.

    My dear sister I advise you to recite surah baqarah daily and blow on water and oil. Drink the water and apply the oil on your whole body daily. I can list a mile long list of medical ailments that I suffered from which disappeared into thin air due to this treatment.

    If Allah has allowed for sickness to come to you then He knows a wisdom in it that you and I don’t know of.

    *hug*
    You will Inshallah be in my prayers. Pls keep us in yours

    • Avatar

      tarannum

      October 17, 2013 at 7:45 AM

      ASA,
      Sr Abez, this was truly an amazing article and I urge you to keep writing so we can all benefit.
      Sr UmmAbdallah, truly this works! Unfortunately very few people talk about Ruqya. I do it all the time and it works. Where ever it hurts I touch it and recite Quran and it ultimately goes away. SubhanAllah! My son had Asthma from kindergarten to 3rd grade but consistent Ruqya took that away completely. I used to touch his chest and recite quran. Then he developed bad stomach pains from 2nd-4rth grade and I would touch his stomach and recited Quran and this yr he is 100% pain free. It was so hard to see him in pain every morning before going to school. All I could do was rely on Allah. He and I made lots of duas and lots of Ruqya. Alhamdullilah! Without even realizing when it happened exactly he was painfree.
      We really need to revive this Sunnah! Allahu Akbar!

  24. Avatar

    saba

    October 16, 2013 at 5:29 PM

    Asalamalaykum sister this is a truly inspiring and motivating article. It made me cry ur so strong sister and may Allah keep u that way and make you better. I pray sister that your duas are answered and may your children be god fearing and pious Ameen.
    lots of love from sister saba

  25. Avatar

    Sara

    October 16, 2013 at 6:38 PM

    Your words brought sadness and smiles simultaneously, a testament of a beautiful soul. Throughout reading your article, I couldn’t help but think how Allah loves you, and perhaps smiles at your courage, humor and reflection as well. I am just as excited for you to meet your Lord, yet, may you live to see your children grow up and live healthy, peaceful lives, and may you gain excellent health and the best of both worlds, insha’Allah. I don’t know you, but I feel as though I have been touched by a light. Thank you.

  26. Avatar

    asmah

    October 16, 2013 at 7:17 PM

    Oh my you have left your legacy my dear sister! An utter and true inspiration! May Allah SWT grant you the best of the dunya and Aakhira and make your children of the pious and righteous Ameen!

  27. Avatar

    MadyyA

    October 16, 2013 at 7:17 PM

    May Allah heal you and may you live a life long enough to see your kids grow up and become wonderful adults. Jazakallah for teaching us an important lesson in gratitude. Praise be to Allah.

  28. Avatar

    Mariam

    October 16, 2013 at 7:48 PM

    Jazakillahu kairan, your story is a source of inspiration to me, May Allah ans your duas, May you be a source of joy to your family … Amin

  29. Avatar

    UmmSumayya

    October 16, 2013 at 7:58 PM

    Very inspiring and beautifully written (as well as your article on your prince) . InshaAllah, I’ll be taking up your challenge! May Allah (SWT) make things easy for you and your family. Ameen.

  30. Avatar

    Nadine

    October 16, 2013 at 8:20 PM

    Assalamu Aleikom,

    I’m trying to write sentences to describe my emotions reading your article, but all I can come up with are disjointed words and they all seem really inadequate.
    Joy, relief, life, apprehension, fun, fear, beauty, change, gratefulness, patience.

    Thank you for writing. May Allah swt reward you and your beautiful family in this life and the next.

  31. Avatar

    Afaf

    October 16, 2013 at 8:41 PM

    All I can say is jazakallah keyr!!! I’m reading this in the middle of the night whilst my kids and husband are asleep… Looking at their faces and thinking this could be the last night we are all together!!! Appreciating my life all of it and this post just got to me I don’t know how to put it in words, but mashallah!!! May Allah ease ur pain May Allah ease ur heart from one mother to another!!! Xxx thank you xxxx

  32. Avatar

    Aly Balagamwala (@DiscoMaulvi)

    October 16, 2013 at 10:07 PM

    Jazakillah Khairin sister Abez for that post right from your heart. May Allah (SWT) accept your duas and enable us to take heed to your words.

    -Aly

  33. Avatar

    Habiba

    October 16, 2013 at 11:14 PM

    Dearest Abez,
    I think I loved you before anyone else did (Atleast in the blogging world.)
    Didn’t you have a blog on xanga? I was your number one fan. I love you fi sa bilillah. I love you writing style and I love your humor. May Allah reward you and may Allah answer all your hearts desires.

    • Avatar

      hannah

      October 17, 2013 at 8:35 AM

      Habiba, I did too. maybe we were xanga friends?! ! What was your member name? I was bint. so many years ago. I was also part of zebas group and followed.

      • Avatar

        Muhammad

        October 22, 2013 at 7:59 PM

        Abez I’ve run out of what and how to express my prayers to you my sister in Islam.May Allah make us to realize our mistakes before we meet him(Amin).Also may the paradise be your final abode and all those who were inspired by this post positively(Amin).Muhammad Bukar Nigeria.

      • Avatar

        Habiba

        November 15, 2013 at 2:32 AM

        bint! I know you! (kind of) :)
        I was babybiba and zabeha_pork (yes, two immature screen names but could you blame me? I was in high school then :) )

    • Avatar

      Habibi

      October 17, 2013 at 1:56 PM

      i dont think you can claim to be her number 1 fan. There was a huge following on what abezsays cause abezavecrat…:P

      • Avatar

        Abez

        October 18, 2013 at 2:08 AM

        LOL! Abezavecrat was such a long (and silly!) old time ago, SubhanAllah. Nice to see you guys again. :)

  34. Avatar

    SajidH

    October 16, 2013 at 11:48 PM

    Lots of duas for you and love for your family. Your tip about setting a date of death is amazing, I never thought of like that. It’s a very useful tip to get my affairs in order and not to be over zealous and extend matters beyond my control. Once again, lots of prayers for a miracle for your speedy recovery so we can keep reading your work lifelong. But really you should not lose faith in miracles for yourself and your son. Keep believing.

  35. Avatar

    Nowrin

    October 17, 2013 at 2:17 AM

    AssalamuAlaikum dear sister. Lots of dua for you and your family. Thank you for the reminder and tips. Im gonna print it out bcoz it tells my story. I had a nervous breakdown during my last pregnancy. Alhamdulillah, Allah SWT gave me a chance to come back to Him through some physical and mental challanges. As I was reading your article, it felt like as if I was reading my own story. Amazing! You will be in my prayers, in sha Allah. Once again, thank you, sister.

  36. Avatar

    Bariah

    October 17, 2013 at 2:51 AM

    Zeba, I love you and get you. It’s surreal that you should always mirror something of my own life. Only in our story it’s not me but my husband who is coming out but isn’t :-) and I have been so crappy about dealing with all if it. JazakiAllah khayran my dear for this khayr that you have written. I pray I see you one day with our khaleds and hf’s if not here then in jannah (although both would be nice :-))
    -love, strandedmom

    • Avatar

      Abez

      October 18, 2013 at 8:06 AM

      If I had a Canadian doppleganger, I’m pretty sure it’d be you. Or maybe I’m your American doppleganger- in any case it amazes me how often our lives parallel each other. I pray Allah grants your HF complete shifa, and your Khaled complete recovery from Autism and your entire lil family much love, Iman, and happiness in this life and the next. :)

      You know, Dubai really isn’t so far away. ;)

  37. Avatar

    Umm Hanifa

    October 17, 2013 at 5:38 AM

    Assalamu alaikum,

    This sentence is something I have come to realise in the last 2-3 years:

    “he talked about trusting Allāh to look after my children after I died, since He was their Rabb after all”.

    I am healthy but not getting younger and my severely learning disabled son has now entered his twenties. He is becoming a strong man while I am feeling my decline. He is totally dependent on me and I used to say “I make du’a for him to die before me”. I now put my trust in Allah as He won’t abandon my son if He chooses to take me before him. The plan is there but we are too worried with the “What if?”

    May Allah cure you (I read last week that a blind Sudanese lady got cure of her blindness of seven years right after making du’a in masjid an-nawawi. She went in the mosque blind and she came out seeing, subhanallah!)

    • Avatar

      Abez

      October 18, 2013 at 8:12 AM

      Trusting Allah to care for our learning disabled “children” is something that I know if tough for other mothers too. We’re blessed to be Muslim though, because we know Allah loves our kids seventy times more than we do. :)

      I have one friend though, whose challenges with autism parenting unfortunately pushed her away from faith rather than towards it. I asked her if she believed in God, and she said no, but if she were ever to pray, it would only be to ask God to kill her and her son in a car accident at the same time. :(

  38. Avatar

    Mrs Gull Khan

    October 17, 2013 at 5:52 AM

    I am 100 % Pakistani, but family came from other places. I am going through something similar but at the moment after years of suffering the Doctors have decided what is wrong and mostly my husband who is a Neurologist. I am actually now taking Humira a very well advertised drug. My Children, Thank Allah are older. I do feel sick of having to say whenever anyone asks how are you feeling, that I am not well. In case sometimes I just say better to give them Hope. I feel for you and your story was so familiar it is almost my story. I have an open Face Book page, Muslims for America. If you search it is the first page that comes up. You can leave me a message there. I will reply back. My Husband is an excellent Neurologist and was trained by some famous Neurologists in London. A place called Queen Square which is legendary with Neuro people for Brain Diseases. You can ask your Neurologist about it. Anyway my point was sometimes my husband comes up with things other Dr’s don not. If you will let me know what the diagnosis is and what city you are in, I would at least like to have my husband give a second opinion if there is anyone else you should see.
    In the meantime I pray Allah helps you. I understand about the Children and how you do not want them to be left motherless. I want you to know Children do grow up cause I have a couple of Friends whose mother passed away while they were young.They have grown up fine. I think if your Mother can help in supervising, then they will receive the same guidance that you received. I hope you will use the new technology like video and DVD to leave your Children messages in case something happens to you. So they can see them and know what you were thinking and what your expectations for them were. Maybe some they could see as young Children and some to see when they are older. It is always better to be prepared and still my hope is for a Miracle with all this STEM CELL THERAPY and you will be fine.
    There is so much research happening right now, that can hopefully prolong your life.
    Sometimes I get very upset and say why me ? There is no answer. I go through anger, pity, then to hell with it all.
    Honestly if it makes your mother feel happy that you go with her to a Church or pray to Jesus, do it, we Muslims recognize Jesus PBUH as a Prophet and beloved of Allah. We Muslims are allowed to Pray in a Church. Who knows where and when a Prayer get accepted.
    I hope you will give me a chance to get a second opinion. My Prayers and Best Wishes. Hang in there. Miracles can happen. Mrs Seeme Hasan

    • Avatar

      Siraaj

      October 17, 2013 at 1:15 PM

      Salaam alaykum Mrs Khan,

      However, we don’t pray to Jesus :) The Qur’an explicitly states that Allah (SWT) will question Jesus and ask him if he told the people to pray to him and he will reply he did no such thing. Our worship is for Allah (SWT) alone =)

  39. Avatar

    Bilal

    October 17, 2013 at 6:02 AM

    that is the greatest piece of writing i can remember reading. your story is truly eye opening, and heart wavering. May Allah increase your faith further, grant you acceptance of your deeds, duas and patience, and bring your mother to islam. May Allah grant us all patience even 1/20th of what he has granted you. ameen

  40. Avatar

    Umm Dawood

    October 17, 2013 at 6:14 AM

    May Allah reward you for telling your story, it goes to show the simple power in the belief in Allah: how that has transformed you and hopefully transform me and others is the only thing we need to look out for in this life.

  41. Avatar

    Amel

    October 17, 2013 at 7:19 AM

    As-salamu Alaykum,
    Thank you for sharing your story. Although this is a minor point in the article, I was wondering if you have the EEG confused with another test or if there is another type of EEG I have not heard of. I have seen many EEGs performed on a close family member, and they are painless. Basically they just attach electrodes to your scalp so they can measure electrical activity in the brain. It is the standard diagnostic test for epilepsy and some other neurological conditions. No tasers are used, and the test does not produce electric shock in the person being tested. Perhaps your doctor is using an EEG to measure the outcome of a test that does involve tasers? Would love to know more and hope you do not feel that I am nit-picking. I would just hate for someone who needs an EEG to fear the procedure.

    • Avatar

      Abez

      October 18, 2013 at 6:31 AM

      AssalamuAlaikum Amel- You know, I’m a little confused too now that I’ve done some googling, but the Dr’s here have definitely been calling the nerve conduction test an EEG. I’m going to need to ask why, InshaAllah.

      Even if an EEG is jump-off-your-chair-painful, I hope that I deter people from seeking medical treatment. Much of what happens in a modern hospital isn’t all that pleasant, but having viable options for treatment and recovery are a blessing from Allah that we shouldn’t boycott out of fear alone. :)

      • Avatar

        Abez

        October 18, 2013 at 9:45 PM

        I hope that I DONT deter people- sorry!

  42. Avatar

    Umm Iman

    October 17, 2013 at 8:13 AM

    As someone touched by cancer, I felt every single one of your words as if you spoke from my heart….. sub7anAllah that part you mentioned RE: post fear really struck a chord with me, I’ve never been able to pin point that phase as well as you so eloquently expressed. Jkhair sis, and I ask Allah SWT , Lord of the Mighty thrown, to grant you full shifa, Ameen

  43. Avatar

    Tamim

    October 17, 2013 at 9:46 AM

    May Allah guide you and your family through all the struggles in this world and make the path to Jannah easier for all of us.

  44. Avatar

    Fritz

    October 17, 2013 at 9:57 AM

    I dont know if this is amazing co-incidence or not but I managed to diagnose a young girl in her late teens with POTS and who (amazingly) also has a diagnosis of Ehlers Danlos syndrome.

    It was quite funny – she brought in photos of her being able to hyperextend her joints into all kinds of extreme positions and wondered if it could be related to her POTS.

    Thankfully her POTS is beautifully controlled with ivabradine and she will have no long term consequences from this. Her EDS is an unclear variant, but whilst it should not affect her life expentancy there is a probability she is going to run into joint problems in future. (I had wondered about directing her to your article…)

    Please do seek proper specialist advice as these are both “cindarella” conditions. Sometimes the guys in the Gulf however well intentioned just do not have the cardiology or rheumatology expertise to deal with these conditions. You said you are British by birth so there are plenty of excellent centres in the NHS with good experience of EDS and POTS.

    Salam

    • Avatar

      POTSgrrl

      October 17, 2013 at 6:14 PM

      Dear Fritz and Abez,

      Fritz, it sounds like you are a doctor, so I applaud you for knowing about POTS and EDS. Not enough of your peers know about these conditions.

      It is not unusual to have POTS and EDS together. Mayo Clinic estimates that POTS is impacting 1 out of every 100 teenagers before adulthood, and estimates are that it impacts about 500,000 to 1 Million in the US (making it more common than Multiple Sclerosis and on par with Parkinson’s, two more well known neurological conditions). If these numbers were similar in other nations, and I believe they are since POTS had been documented in people of all races from every continent, a conservative estimate would be 11 Million POTS patients worldwide.

      Over the years, several research studies have documented a high incidence of EDS in the POTS population. Two different studies from different universities being presented this month at the American Autonomic Society conference in Hawaii indicate that 29% of POTS patients have EDS. Screening for POTS and EDS should be standard protocol for anyone presenting with symptoms of orthostatic intolerance.

      Abez, you write so beautifully. I just want to clarify so that your readers do not become confused, POTS is not a fatal condition. Some forms of EDS put individuals at a risk of premature death (such as Vascular EDS).

      I am not a doctor, but from your description of symptoms, I would encourage you to see a second opinion from an autonomic neurologist. I know they are hard to find, but well worth the visit if you can find a good one. I’m not sure where you live, but in the UK Prof. Mathias is an autonomic neurologist who is supposed to be good at this stuff. Prof. Graham Hughes (the rheumatologist who discovered anti-phospholipid antibodies in the 1980s) also has experience diagnosing POTS, treating it and finding treatable underlying causes (including Anti-Phospholipd Syndrome).

      Weakness, shaking, twitching eyes – that’s more than the typical small fiber autonomic neuropathy seen in POTS. Some POTS patients, including me, have an underlying neurological condition that causes the POTS, and it is often autoimmune. In my case, it’s Sjogren’s causing a progressive autonomic neuropathy causing POTS. Having EDS may make you more prone to autoimmunity according to an abstract published by Dr. Francomano, one of the world’s leading EDS researchers. Adding another diagnosis to the pile is not fun, but depending on what that diagnosis is, you may be able to find a treatment that improves or slows down your neurological symptoms. I know several POTS/EDS/Autoimmune Disease patients who are doing better once their autoimmune disease is being directly treated. My doctors can’t decide if I have EDS or not – some say yes, others say no. I have had super flexy joints since childhood and I am 35, so who knows.

      Dysautonomia International is a non-profit that I run with other POTS patients, families and the leading POTS researchers. I would encourage you to visit our website and see the resources we can offer POTS patients. http://www.dysautonomiainternational.org

      Best wishes to you both.

    • Avatar

      Abez

      October 18, 2013 at 6:51 AM

      Walaikum Assalam Fritz- you are correct- and I had to fly to the US in order get a diagnosis. I have a great neurologist at the Rush University Hospital that’s doing his best to help me manage long-distance. I just very excitedly started googling ivabradine btw, and it turns out we call it Procoralan over here, and I’m already on it. :) It’s been far, far better than any of the beta & calcium channel blockers I took prior, with no side-effects so far. The best thing about it is that it’s a funny channel Blocker. Seriously. There’s something in the heart called a funny channel.

      POTSgrrl: I love you so much right now- I’ve been trying to figure out how all my weird muscle twitches and spasms and random jabs of electricity are tied into POTS-ED, and so far without luck. I also have chronically dry mouth & eyes. I’m definitely going to look into Sjogren’s. And hey, I have a handful of diagnoses already, the more the merrier? :p

      Thank you for also being the voice of advocacy here and sharing some important info about POTS and ED. Yes, Alhamdulillah, they are not fatal in and of themselves- it’s the complications that can get dangerous. My EDS seems to affect my lungs moreso than anything- I get diagnosed with bronchitis on an annual basis, and am still recovering from my last infection TWO MONTHS LATER.

      At the end of the day though, all of mankind fits into one of two categories:

      – Those who are dying and know it
      – Those who are dying and don’t know it

      We’re all moving closer to death, whether it’s through the path of health or illness, consciousness or forgetfulness. My goal in writing this wasn’t to make people feel sorry to me, but to point out their own terminal condition- also known as Life. :)

      • Avatar

        Fritz

        October 18, 2013 at 10:00 AM

        Yes; as it is “life” is a sexually transmitted condition with 100% mortality!

  45. Avatar

    Rizwan

    October 17, 2013 at 11:56 AM

    JazakAllah Khair for this beautiful post. May Allah swt give you more strength, taqwa and level of imaan.Ameen! It is wake up call for all of us who are living this worldly life in denial. We all have to go eventually one day but it’s an important reminder for all of us to have full faith and be in the state of imaan when we leave this world. You are always in our prayers. May Allah swt give you health and shiffa and keep your strong. Ameen!

  46. Avatar

    A traveller

    October 17, 2013 at 11:56 AM

    I want to thank you incredibly for this article because it has touched me in a way beyond expected. You have definitely left a legacy and I only ask that you continue this legacy with your writing, because you most definitely have a skill (by the Grace of Allah swt) and it cannot be anything but our duty to utilise the skills that Allah has given us for His sake. That is something that this has helped me to realise. We may not all have physically life threatening illnesses but they sure do exist in our hearts, and they sure do cripple us.

    I want to tell you something…I don’t know if this will mean anything to you, I’m no sheikh or anything but I’d like to think I’ve learnt a few things over the years. Everything you mentioned in your blog about trusting God, it applies to you wanting to convert your mother. It means understanding that there is a wisdom beyond everything, which we cannot always comprehend. It comes with understanding that somehow, in some way – everything will be okay. Everything IS okay – by the grace of God. There is a hadith by the Prophet which states “there are as many paths to God as there are human breaths”. (and that’s a hell of a lot of paths), and a path to God (although a different path to your own) is definitely better than no path. It may not be as efficient, but it’s definitely a path – one which we’re all on. If you think you can make some positive change to some person, then all you can ever do is share your story. Somebody once told me that it’s important to understand that life is a journey, not a destination (an overused phrase, but often overlooked).in the sense that, we are all on the path to God, a path which is infinite, and on a path which is infinite, can you ever truly progress? The only real progression comes with death – because it is to HIM we belong, and to HIM, we will return. In other words, we’re going back home. Whoever you are, you’re going back home. But every single one of us has our own journey. God is Most Merciful. But enough rambling, that’s my two cents…

    Thank you for sharing your story….sometimes it’s all we have to do.

  47. Avatar

    Madeeha Tariq

    October 17, 2013 at 12:07 PM

    such bravery… such courage…. amazing Legacy.. and an awesome source of sadaqa-e-jaariyah for You Sister Abez… inshaaAllah! as you urself have such firm belief in allahs plans, and His powers, I pray that may He the Glorified, ease your pain and suffering… may He enable you to enjoy the time you have with ur children… and thru ur effort, may we also come out of the fools paradise of considering ourselves as immortal… for truly, even if we dont realize, that is exactly what our lives cry out loud……… :'( Alhamdulilllah for getting to know a beautiful soul like you… hope to meet up with you some time… in this life, or the next… a big hug and duas for all your li’ll angels… n a big hug and MANY duas to the gem they have for their mom!

  48. Avatar

    Hawa

    October 17, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    This post clicked open the lock around my heart. Jazakuallahu khairan sis and may Allah grant you the highest of Jannah’s you and your entire family. <3

  49. Avatar

    Umm Rashid

    October 17, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    SubhanaAllah, indeed Allahs blessings come in surprising packages.I know first hand a lot of the feelings you expressed in your story.I am the mother of 5 children Alhumdulillah.When my youngest son was two months old I was diagnosed with cancer.My duas were much more sincere then at any other time in my life.I begged Allah for three years to nurture my son from his delicate and fragile age.Allah gave me more , much more than three years Alhumdulillah.Little did I know what was in store for me at the time.My son was to be diagnosed with Autsim.Allah has taught me how nothing in this life can last forever and that everything has flaws and disappointments.He has nurtured me in a gentle manner teaching me that the hereafter is what I should strive for.If paradise were on Earth we would not look to the hereafter with the same desire.I am thankful for the lessons that illness have taught me, and yes everyday I feel like my youth is slipping away.The body that was created for only a short period of time is starting to fail and I can feel the temporary ness of this life.Beinging shown these signs while still being able to seek forgiveness and nearness to Allah are indeed a great blessing Alhumdulillah.May Allah continue to bless you with insight into his wisdom,may He keep you firm and grateful and may He bless your mother with the gift of Islam,Ameen.In my story ,my Christian mother excepts Islam,Alhumdulillah.JazakAllah khair for sharing your story.

    • Avatar

      Abez

      October 18, 2013 at 6:55 AM

      AssalamuAlaikum Umm Rashid- from one special needs mother to another, my hugs and duas and love to you and your son. May Allah make it easy for you and grant you complete Shifa, may The Source of Peace grant you peace, and Allah grant you and your son the highest level of Jannah. Ameen

  50. Avatar

    Nada

    October 17, 2013 at 2:48 PM

    Wow…just wow!.. May Allah reward you and grant you Jannat-ul-firdus. You are such an inspiration to me and a very brave sister to all of us…I dont know how many times I read your article and cried every time. It encourages me and instills fear in my heart to be God-fearing, and to seriously start repenting to Allah(SWT) because we dont know when our time will be up. May Allah make it easy for you, and your family. May Allah grant us such steadfastness in religion. You truly are blessed to understand and accept death as inevitable…you and me are all going to die eventually. But the blessed ones are who were aware of Allah(STW) and feared him, and loved Him and His Rasool(pbuh) while they were going thru life of this world! Love this part ” I’ve never been more tired, more weak, or less able to tie my own shoes, but I’ve never felt stronger, calmer, or happier to be Muslim. Alḥamdulillāh.”
    SubhanAllah, Indeed He is all merciful and all Wise!

  51. Avatar

    Mark

    October 17, 2013 at 4:04 PM

    I just have to say it is a very good written article, and valuable content in this article.

  52. Avatar

    Saika

    October 17, 2013 at 4:31 PM

    SubhanAllah!! Such an amazing article..May Allah swt allow us all to return to Him in a beautiful way Ameen! Jazakallahkhair so much for writing this article & inspiring us all to bring change within ourselves..May Allah swt ease your pain & enter you into Jannah tul Firdous without account Ameen ❤️

  53. Avatar

    Umm ibrahim

    October 17, 2013 at 4:52 PM

    subhaanAllah, masha Allah sister, you are amazing, n your writng expression is extremely effective. You have been blessed with a good attitude in your trials, AlHamdu Lillah, and are a part of my du’as from now on, in sha Allah.

  54. Avatar

    Um Mariam

    October 17, 2013 at 6:59 PM

    I made du’a for you and your family from the bottom of my heart! The best place is to be with Allah (swt); and the best Carer of our trusts is Allah (swt)! Alhamdulilah…I was diagnosed with MS last year; have children and nothing helps by our belief…it’s the most reassuring hug :) Love you fiLaah…Jazakelaah khairan for sharing your experience in such heart touching way; it’s one of thebest things I’ve ever read :)

  55. Avatar

    hopefull

    October 17, 2013 at 8:17 PM

    Asalamualikum sister abez
    I pray to Almighty Allah to grant ur wishes and keep u safe n always blesss u with his kindness….when I read ur article … it seems its me, I used to hv great physical fitnes…never thought of dieing always thought I of future n progress in my profession n family…was not ready to die…i m married n have two lovable daughters n a boy aged 5, 3 n 1 who n deaply in love with me as do I …. one fine morning my aircraft crashed n I suffered multiple fractures in my back bone n my lower body was paralised…had n ops with implants in my back …n Allhamdullia by the grace of Almighty Allah subhanutalla n prayers of my parents I hv started walking…. can narrate u from how many difficulties I hv been through during my illness and during all this whn I was in a hopital i lost my wife n kids…. I still pray to Almighty Allah to grant my wife wisdom so tht she come back n live a life wih me…but now I think its Allah will….I ask for his mercy n pray for my forgiveness. …I hv still not lost hope …. but now have a firm belief that all this wealth, health , kids are just worldy things…..I just pray that Allah plz Grant all of us Bakshiss for Janataul Firdos….Ameen….plz pray for me n keep me in ur duas…

    • Avatar

      Abez

      October 18, 2013 at 7:00 AM

      Narrated Abu Musa, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

      When a child of a servant of Allah dies, Allah inquires His angels: Have you taken into custody the soul of the child of My servant?

      They answer: Yes.

      Then He inquires: Have you taken into custody the soul of the flower of his heart?

      They answer: Yes.

      Then He inquires: Then what did My servant say?

      They answer: He praised Thee and affirmed: To Allah we belong and to Him we shall and return.

      Thereupon Allah says: Build for My servant a mansion in Paradise and name it `The House of Praise.’

      Transmitted by Tirmidhi.

      Brother, may you meet your wife and children in The House of Praise. Ameen.

  56. Avatar

    Sister in Islam

    October 17, 2013 at 9:37 PM

    Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu
    Your article was just- SubhanAllah <3 It was an eye opener to me and I thank you SO much for writing it.
    May Allah guide your kids and your future generations and make them of the ones who go to Jannah. May Allah let you attain Al-Firdaws without Hisab. May Allah let you accomplish whatever you wish to accomplish and anything that will increase your ranks before your time comes. And finally, O Allah let us meet in Al-Firdaws. Ameen.

  57. Avatar

    Fatima

    October 17, 2013 at 9:39 PM

    Amazing article. Thank you for reminding us about the importance of dua and all three amazing ways Allah responds to our dua. SubhanAllah. I pray that Allah makes you physically stronger and maintains or even increases your level of iman, and that you continue to write for us for the sake of Allah!

  58. Avatar

    Noorunnisa

    October 17, 2013 at 10:02 PM

    May Allah bless you sister – you have shamed and inspired me, ma shaa’Allah!

  59. Avatar

    Sana

    October 18, 2013 at 12:16 AM

    Subhanallah im amazed that you are writing / typing when your hands are constantly shaking. Even with the difficulties you show us the drive that you have for this deen and truly the love of Allah. May Allah swt help us to learn from this article. I’m iA going to do the 6 month challenge. Lets see how it goes.

    Jazakullah khair
    Umm Sumayyah

    • Avatar

      Abez

      October 18, 2013 at 7:01 AM

      AssalamuAlaikum Sana- Alhamdulillah, my hand’s don’t shake 24/7. They do shake for days (once for three weeks) at a time, but the shaking comes and goes depending on what’s happening w/my brain & nerves.

      And Alhamdulillah, I also have a voice to test dictation software, which I highly recommend for anyone who has difficulty with typing. :)

  60. Avatar

    amatullah

    October 18, 2013 at 12:22 AM

    Assalamualaykum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh My Dear Sister Abez!

    May AllahSWT the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth and the One Who is Able to cure every disease cure you and your little one!

    JazakAllaahu Khair for the great reminder! SubhanAllah! Again JazakAllahu Khair!

    I beg you to do Ruqyah. The Quran is the best cure! Please recite Surah al Fatihah in particular and you may want to ask Sheikh Yasir Qadhi about how to do Ruqyah.i.e., reciting the surah into water and drinking it.
    Also please try to finish reciting surah Baqarah every few days. Maybe you can try completing every 7 days or whatever is convenient for you.

    Abu Umamah (radiAllahu anhu) reported that the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) said, ‘Recite Surah al-Baqarah: for to hold on to it is a barakah (blessing), to leave it is a regret’
    [Muslim].

    And please dont forget to take black seeds. I guess you must have come across the hadith about black seeds being a cure for every disease.

    And yes please continue with duas.

    With even a prick of a thorn our sins are shed by Allah’sSWT Mercy. Imagine inshAllah with all these difficult moments your sins are being forgiven and your level in Jannah inshAllah is getting higher and higher!

    May AllahSWT grant you strength and fill your heart with hope and make everything easy for you and your family and gather you all together in His Jannah where it will be all smiles!

    I feel positive that you will be cured inshAllah!

    JazakAllahu Khair and may AllahSwt grant us all the ability to use all our blessings He has bestowed on us, especially the blessing of Islam, in the best way pleasing to Him!

  61. Avatar

    X

    October 18, 2013 at 3:53 AM

    Amazing Article, iA may Allah make your condition easier and better and soon be cured :)

    Just a question out of curiosity,since I am interested in Medicine – have you tried any forms Islamic medicine, for example as the above post mentioned Black Seeds? Maybe alternative medicine such as Traditional Chinese Medicines (herbs) might help?

  62. Avatar

    heningsept

    October 18, 2013 at 4:39 AM

    beautiful reminder. jazakillah khairan for writing it down.
    i pray for you and your family. i really wish your son & daughters will grow as great muslims and make the ummah proud. and i really wish your mother will accept islam.
    salam from indonesia :)

  63. Avatar

    shannon

    October 18, 2013 at 7:14 AM

    Salam sister,
    As I read your post my heart ached, yet was so full for you. You have received something so precious with the hardships you face; an awareness of Allah and your own mortality that some study all their lives to achieve. I’m blessed to have read this for the perspective it holds, and the understanding it has imparted. I thank you so much for this gift, and ask Allah that you are given the strength to persevere, the highest station in Jannah, the protection off your family, the health of your children, and the blessings of a believing family. You will be in my dua daily inshAllah.

  64. Avatar

    Whbet

    October 18, 2013 at 7:53 AM

    Asalaam Wa’alaykum sister,

    Your article has made me realise how much I take dua’ for granted. This gift given to us all by the All Mighty through His mercy. JazakAllah khayr for this reminder. May this article be a source of continuous sadaqa for you and your family. May you and your family be rewarded for what you have endured, and May the Rahma of Al’Raheem cover you, and may you be blessed with at that is in your heart. It’s at times like these that I realise how ungrateful and ignorant I am to the inevitable. I love you for the sake of Allah, and I will InshaAllah remember you, your family, and all my brothers and sisters enduring such challenges in my dua’s.

  65. Avatar

    Thanks

    October 18, 2013 at 12:58 PM

    What a gifted writer and wonderful human being you are. May Allah grant ease and the greatest of blessings to you and your family. This piece truly moved me

  66. Avatar

    Ammara

    October 18, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    Asa dearest sister, May Allah ease your pain, accept your duas, grant you health and take away all your worries. Ameen.
    anything,MA!! you are a very courageous woman, you have examplified what faith means. There is certainly loads for me to learn and exercise. Lots of duas for you ins. JazakAllah Khyer. ammara

  67. Avatar

    Hilal Hilal

    October 18, 2013 at 3:06 PM

    May Allah reward you for that article, sister! He made me read it when I needed a reminder. InshaAllah I will read it from time to time and will show it to others too. See, you are already earning rewards inshaAllah :D May Allah give you ease and happiness in this life and the next. Ameen! I love you for the sake of Allah :) Selma

  68. Avatar

    MomB

    October 18, 2013 at 9:50 PM

    What form of EDS do you have? I was diagnosed with type III a few years ago after suffering since I was a teenager with strange joint symptoms that couldn’t be identified by a handful each of orthopedists and rheumatologists. Most recently I destroyed my shoulder opening a jar and wrecked my back twice using a push broom. I have an amazing specialty physical therapist however al-Hamdu li-laah. Isometric exercises are brilliant and extremely helpful.

  69. Avatar

    Abez

    October 18, 2013 at 10:59 PM

    Good ole fashioned Classical EDS as far as I know- a moderate balance of skin & joint with a healthy side of TMJ and TOS. :). I’ll ask my Physio about Isometric exercises, JazakAllahukheiran!

  70. Avatar

    nadeem

    October 18, 2013 at 11:52 PM

    Can’t stop thinking about life & my petty issues which r so ginormous in my mind. You r a gifted writer. Thank you for sharing. Iltimas-e-Duas for you and your family

  71. Avatar

    sadia

    October 19, 2013 at 2:14 AM

    Jazak Allah for writing this. I am a special needs mom of two children with Down’s Syndrome. When our son was born and diagnosed, I was in shock and didn’t understand why it happened to me. I soon realized that we as humans are completely helpless in front of Allah’s decisions for us. Within a year I was pregnant with my daughter also diagnosed with Down’s and that’s when I realized how some people might be tested more than others but that doesn’t mean Allah doesn’t love them. I am thankful for my children as they have made me a better human and a better Muslim alhamdullilah. I now know to be thankful for every healthy moment with my children and for every little blessing Allah has given me. I used to worry about their future thinking what will happen to them but I know Allah who takes care of us always will take care of them when I am gone.
    Love and hugs for you from one special needs mom to another.

    • Avatar

      Abez

      October 20, 2013 at 2:17 AM

      Special mom hugs are especially good hugs. :) >>>> hugs <<<<<

  72. Avatar

    Nazreen

    October 19, 2013 at 8:04 AM

    Assalamualaikum Sister Abez,

    I don’t know where to begin, but I do wish I was near you to give you a hug. And to thank you profusely for this article. For you courage. And for the inspiration.
    Masha Allah, I am in awe. Your trust in Allah is so deep and so unconditional. This article was the wake up call I needed. To just stop and rethink where I am heading and where I will be in hereafter if I continue.
    All I have to say is I hope Allah eases your fight and that he makes it easy for you and your family to deal with this trial with complete faith in HIm. May Allah forgive your sins, and our sins and may he make us all among the people of Jannah.

    I’d like to dedicate this poem to you:

    Heart in Transit

    I was
    a wandering spirit
    seeking joy
    in shifting images
    and lethal fumes
    living dead
    in smoky planes
    chasing shadows
    of every desire and
    unspoken sin
    over mountains
    crossing oceans
    picking bruises
    shedding tears
    shredding soul
    racing satan
    to the pit
    Till
    He found me
    h a n g i n g
    by a flimsy thread
    and pulled me out
    of moral death
    dusting off
    my tired soul
    Blowing away
    silent smoke
    switching on the inner lights
    Showering peace
    long elusive
    Reminding me
    ‘Verily, in the remembrance
    of Allah
    Do hearts find rest.’

    • Avatar

      Abez

      October 20, 2013 at 12:29 AM

      That was lovely, JazakAllahuKheiran :) May Allah always help you keep the lights on in your soul. :)

  73. Avatar

    Tooba

    October 19, 2013 at 9:11 AM

    Words do no justice for what these words have done for me. Words will never do justice for what you have done by writing this. Just know, my dear sister, that one girl read this chronically ill, depressed and anxious. She looked at the scars on her skin and realised the light which reaches those who are sick…

    Thank you. Thank you.

    • Avatar

      Abez

      October 20, 2013 at 12:27 AM

      The deeper the wounds, the greater the relief upon healing. The greater the pain, the greater the reward for bearing. Allah tests those that He loves. :)

      • Avatar

        Emila

        October 21, 2013 at 6:35 PM

        Abez,

        Thank you for writing this article as a 19 yr old girl I have been sad about trivial issues like acne scars on my back and discoloration etc and not feeling beautiful. Although it is important to fix those things if possible and be the best me–I shouldn’t loose sight of the blessings Allah has given me. Really, it is not good to complain in your mind– but its better to be thankful. After reading this I forgot about all of those issues. I really need to work on trying to become a better Muslim and making sincere prayer. I am so thankful for my health now. I do above all else want to go to Jannah mainly because the lifestyle is just so fun and lavish ;) but also because no one can stand a milisecond in Jahannam. I am so so proud to call you my sister in Islam. Much love from your African sister! May Allah grant you Jannah without judgment for the trials you went through in dunya and may he forgive the past sins you have committed that worry you. Ameen I truly hope Allah accepts that dua from me on your behalf.

  74. Avatar

    Umyusef

    October 19, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    Ma sha Allah, may Allah reward u sister for using yr talent in such a beneficial way, and may He accept it from u. SubhanAllah as to yr advice to set oneself a death date, that is a great start to getting a new perspective on life. Our messenger (pbuh) went further even, urging us to set our death date to be each night as we sleep: “anyone who expects to wake up in the morning is not a believer.” Allahumma ihdinassirat almustaqeem…

  75. Avatar

    Ishfaq

    October 19, 2013 at 4:05 PM

    MashaAllah sister!

    Allahu Akbar !

    Allah swt is great… . Would u have written such a powerful piece of writing if you wasnt suffering as such?
    However All credit goes to U because Allah gives the choice to human beings and if we make the correct choices then Allah makes further decisions easier… there r many people who guve up and make incorrect decisions… may Allah guide them… But you sister r making the correct ones Alhamdulillah.. May Allah bless u and ur family in this world and even more in the next – ameen.
    With a tear in my eye i ask u to pray for me so that i make the correct decions in life also.. .

    jzakAllah khair.

    • Avatar

      Abez

      October 20, 2013 at 12:37 AM

      I’m 99% sure that if I my life were easy now, I’d be doing the same thing as when it was easy before: gaming. Between Starcraft, Minecraft, Nethack and a handful of other games I wasted years of my life on the relentless pursuit of absolutely nothing. Astaghfirullah.

  76. Avatar

    Amina M

    October 19, 2013 at 4:45 PM

    AssaloAlaikum zeba
    May you celebrate many more Eidain with your family. Indeed Allah SWT is the best of Healer. He has already blessed you with unwavering faith and in exhaustible strength to be realistic, content and happy under all situations.
    I remember the beautiful young girl I met at Isb airport in July 2004 carrying brownies for Bushra.
    You are still young but now with a lot more hikmah that has made many to review the journey of their temporal world.

    May you become a legacy in your life and meet all those in Jannah who were inspired by your thoughts, aameen

    • Avatar

      Abez

      October 20, 2013 at 12:34 AM

      Walaikum Assalam Amina- I swear there’s a hole in my brain- I remember Bushra, Brownies, and a very brief meeting in Islamabad airport, but I can’t remember your face! I am embarrassed but grateful that you remember me and appreciate the duas. :) If you ever need international airport brownies again, this time let’s do Dubai. :)

  77. Avatar

    Hala B.

    October 20, 2013 at 12:54 AM

    Asalamu alaikum,
    SubhanAllah, this was an amazingly inspirational piece. I am currently going through a very painful divorce, and am now on the brink of homelessness, but I am experiencing this calm you describe. I still feel like I’m drowning, but I’m not fighting it. I’m actually more afraid of the cal then what might happen, but I also welcome it as it is a sign of accepting Allah’s will. Alhamdulilah.

  78. Avatar

    nina

    October 22, 2013 at 11:54 PM

    assalam o alaikum sis,

    May ALLAH bless you and your family.Your story remind me of my life. I have faced almost a similar situation since i was born.i do not have the courage to share my sufferings but i still have scars on my body. but now ALHAMDO LILLA i am almost alright .i tried every doctor , every medicine, but nothing made me better. Then one day i lost my memory after long long illness. It was the time when i knew i will die soon. i sometimes used to pray longer just in a hope that i die while praying. At that point i decided to do RUQYAH just for a test and experiment to see how powerful my QURAN is. believe me ……it worked like a magic. whoever is reading this post please please dont wait a single second to try RUQYAH FOR HEALING even if u have no problems.it really works. now i m living a normal life and no body can even imagine what my past was. and a good thing is that i prepare more for death than for living. truly we sick people are blessed . my prayers are for every one.

  79. Avatar

    Z

    October 23, 2013 at 9:36 AM

    Amazing Article! May Allah bless you and your family in this world and the next! JazakAllahu Khair.

  80. Avatar

    Vanessa

    October 23, 2013 at 2:19 PM

    Masha allah. I read this article many days ago, and at the time I read it I have to admit I was not in a very good mood, I have been dealing with stressors that had me griping and grumbling.. It wasn’t until hours after I read our article that I was once again complaining about not having enough energy, and I stopped mid sentence as something you said struck me and humbled me… When you said you just wanted to able to raise your hands in dua, it is inspiring. Things we often take for granted and hate doing like cleaning our homes, we don’t realize that depending on our intentions it could most certainly be a good deed in the eyes of Allah.

    You inspired me to write an article, and in shaa allah once it is published I can share it with you, and any benefit that any person who reads it, I pray that Allah will bless you immensely. I am so happy to see all of the comments and inspiration you have given for so many. I will make dua for you my sister, and for all others that they may have the strength to let go of the fear of death and still be thankful. You have put much in perspective for me, and I pray that I can be spiritually strong as you are, in shaa allah.

    May Allah bless you and your family with ease and comfort in this life, and the best of things in the next.

  81. Avatar

    Masumeh

    October 24, 2013 at 1:20 AM

    Salamu alaikum wa rahmatu’llahi wa barakatahu Sister Abez,
    Wow! A close friend recommended your blog to me, and is it ever interesting. You are the first Muslim I have encountered with POTS. I have had POTS for a little over 11 years. We should really get together by phone. It’s not a potentially fatal disease, as it is not progressive. Actually, because it involves peripheral nerve damage rather than central nerve damage, you are likely to significantly recover, though it takes aproximately 4 1/2 years for peripheral nerves to heal. THe problem for most POTS sufferers is that, during the initial period of severest chronic fatigue, dizziness, and muscle atrophy, there is severe deconditioning. YOur doctors probably already explained this to you, but maybe not, since POTS only entered diagnostic manuals in 1996 and the majority of doctors do not really understand the syndrome. Deconditioning is an uphill battle, but as daunting and sometimes downright impossible as it seems, it’s our only real path to recovery. I have had a lot of ups and downs with my POTS and hypermobility joint syndrome…LOTS of hard days, lots of fainting, lots of dreams dashed. As you have already discovered, GOd compensates, in this world and we can look forward to His eternal promise in the hereafter. I applaud your articulate and expressive writing, detailing some poignant and important features of chronic illness. If you are experiencing progressive deterioration, however, you really ought to seek further medical evaluation because POTS is not progressive and it is not fatal (unless you pass out in a bath, while driving, on stairs, etc. then it can result in fatal trauma). That’s good and bad news, I know. Most POTS sufferers experience onset in their late teens or early twenties, so it’s a long, long road ahead and there are many foundational life experiences that can be thrown off course due to the disabling fatigue, recurrent fainting, and cognitive difficulties. There are soooo many small tricks that help sooo much. YOu should check out http://www.DINET.ORG for some of these tips, and also reliable information on how to differentiation between various forms of dysautonomia, those that are progressive and potentially fatal and those that are not, such as POTS and NCS. It’s a deep sea of complex information and skills to learn how to understand and live with POTS. I wish you well on your journey. If you want to get in touch in person, I offer you my veteran advice and experiences…and again, it’s terrible but somehow comforting to find another POTSer in the Muslim community.

    Jazakee Allahu khairan for bringing this disorder into public light and for sharing your intimate spiritual process aloud, for all of us to benefit from.

    Kind regards,
    Masumeh

    • Avatar

      Abez

      October 25, 2013 at 3:44 AM

      AssalamuAlaikum Masumeh! How wonderful to find another Muslim with POTS! Hooray! I’ve yet to find a Muslim support group and so many people can be very negative about being sick- so JazakAllahuKheiran for posting here.

      You may be right about POTS not being progressive, and thanks to POTSgrrrl’s comment above, I’ve begun the process of investigation for Sjogren’s, which is a progressive auto-immune that can cause POTS.

      I’m really looking forward to getting in touch, JazakAllahuKheiran again. :)

      -Abez

  82. Avatar

    Yasmin

    October 25, 2013 at 10:20 AM

    Subhanallah.

    I’ve seriously been feeling so sorry for myself because my ED is such that I cannot have children without literally risking my life. Allah even gave me a stepdaughter (whose mother passed away), and yet I’ve been having such a huge pity party for myself that somewhere along the way I forgot to count my blessings. :(

    la ilaaha illa anta subhaanaka innee kuntu mina ath-thaalimeen.

    Jazaakum Allahu Khairan for bringing me back to the reality of my situation. I really needed that, alhamdulillah.

  83. Avatar

    BestonAb

    October 25, 2013 at 9:00 PM

    This is truly a great article. It’s a heartfelt exposé of ones spiritual ascendency over life’s physical mobility. And, It is genuine at all levels. The humour, humility and the unshaken believe in Allah of someone who’s dealing with a debilitating illness flows from the heart manifested by an innate personal realisation. I, as someone who is currently dealing with mysterious neurological issues (doctors yet to diagnose), I feel a close bond to this journey. I am amazed by how many us are so far apart in this world and lead different lives, but a life event of some sort trigger something within us to follow our hearts and arrive on the same path. Which is the path toward Allah. It’s truly a blessing when you experience that moment of clarity that I like to think of as knowledge and be allowed by Allah to think of your differently. I hope that all of us in this world, in our own ways can arrive on the path toward Allah and may Allah forgive us all and grant us Jenah.

  84. Avatar

    Khadija

    October 28, 2013 at 7:10 AM

    May Allah preserve you and your family. Put your trust in Allah. Ironically, I never felt sorry for you while reading this. I felt your strength throughout and you are indeed an inspiration. I pray that Allah helps you to leave a great legacy for your children. You have inspired us all and taught us a lesson.

  85. Avatar

    Fathima

    October 28, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    Assalamu Alaykum
    <3 Your words made me ponder, weep, reflect. The time I waste, the blessings I take for granted, the minor irritations I blow up into full-scale trauma.
    May Allah guide us all to the straight path, forgive our sins and grant us all Jannatul Firdause. Ameen <3
    Jazakhallhu khairan

  86. Avatar

    Norlaila Toulas

    October 30, 2013 at 11:55 AM

    Assalamu alaikum sister

    Jazaki Allahu khairan for writing this. It’s been a while since I’ve actually read through an entire article like that, which goes to show how amazing your story and writing is. You are truly an inspiration to parents, and Muslims alike. Thank you so much for your reminders. You are now in my du’as and May Allah accept yours and mine. And unite us in the highest level of Jannah, and allow us to see His face. Ameen.

    I love you for the sake of Allah.

    Your sister in Islam

  87. Pingback: Have You Seen What These Hands Can Dua? | Understand Quran Academy

  88. Avatar

    samiyashehzad

    November 10, 2013 at 6:04 AM

    May Allah take all your worries away and you live healthily and long enough to see each one of your children, fly away successfully from your nesting motherhood. Lots of duas and prayers to you n family. Keep writing, it’s such wonderful catharsis :-)

  89. Avatar

    Zahra Hassan

    November 11, 2013 at 8:22 AM

    Masha’Allah, Sister. An inspiring article. This shows that there are people who aren’t physically fit, but mentally strong whereas We people are physically fit, but mentally not prepared to face the challenges that life throw at us. Very thought-provoking and I learnt many lessons through you. May Allah bless you and reward you the highest degree in Jannah.

    And Sister, Why don’t you join Ummaland which is a social networking site for Muslims where you can inspire many? I hope it will be a different environment for you where you will find peace and love within. If you are interested, you can join us and here’s the link: http://www.ummaland.com

    Jazakallahu Khairun. May Allah shower his blessings upon you!

  90. Avatar

    Mahroof Saeed

    November 11, 2013 at 11:23 AM

    According to The Qura’an history of prophets proves Duas were accepted&responded by AllahSWA.For eg.Ibrahim Alai’s dua for an heir, Zakariya Alai’s for an heir at the oldest age.Nothing to despair if your faith with righteous deeds is so strong. May Allah guide us all in the right path.Believe in the Words of Allah & get the guidance only from the Qur’aan &sunnah of prophet Muhammed SAL.

  91. Avatar

    Nasreen Khan

    November 11, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    Assalaamu Alaikum Sister Abez!

    What a beautifully expressed truly inspirational article. Makes one look through and through! May Allah SWT give you and your family the BEST in this duniya as well as in the Aakhirah. Ameen.

  92. Avatar

    Muslimah

    November 14, 2013 at 8:47 PM

    An inspiring article that inspired the writing of this… May Allah bless you for all who benefits from both.

    http://understandquran.com/seen-hands-can-dua.html

  93. Avatar

    Hajirah

    December 8, 2013 at 2:40 PM

    This has been a humorous, heartbreaking, eye opening, God-inspired, amazingly spectacular, and beautifully splendid piece. My heart wept and laughed. And I pray that the hereafter is full of light, laughter and joy for you dear sis. You’ve left a legacy and taught a much needed lesson.

    May Allah love you always, and may you be of the Muqarabeen; the most near to the Beloved.

  94. Avatar

    Faith

    December 8, 2013 at 7:31 PM

    May Allah reward you in this world and the akhirah. Reading this as a mother I couldn’t help but weep. My heart and eyes weep but indeed sister as you have said – Allah promises us “inna ma’al usri yusra.”

    I pray that ur children grow up to become amongst the righteous ones , living and dying upon the deen ‘at he bless them with health and the wisdom as they age to appreciate you as their mother, Wether ur soul is with them or with allah (swt) waiting to be united with them in Jannah ia.
    May Allah guide your mother to His light.

    Ameen Ameen Ameen.

    Salaam Alaikum wa rahmatullah

  95. Avatar

    Zila

    December 8, 2013 at 9:18 PM

    Subhanallah..thank you for this amazing sharing! You stirred so much emotions within me tru this article. A timely wake-up call!! May Allah grants you and family ease to go tru the journey ahead! Jazakallahu khair!

  96. Hena Zuberi

    Hena Zuberi

    December 9, 2013 at 6:33 PM

    Assalam alaykum wa rahmatulah dear dear readers,
    Ameen to your duas. I am going to do a shameless plug for my dear sister Abez. Pleeeeassse donate whatever you can to her organization AutismUAE to keep her legacy going. Here is the link to the campaign. http://www.gofundme.com/AutismUAE
    You can read about her work in this post: http://muslimmatters.org/2013/12/09/three-good-reasons-shouldnt-give-money-abez/

    JazakAllah Khayran fidharain

  97. Pingback: Three Good Reasons You Shouldn't Give Me Money | Abez | MuslimMatters.org

  98. Avatar

    Layla

    December 10, 2013 at 9:31 PM

    Mashallah what a great piece. Jazakhallah for sharing such an intimate part of your life. May Allah continue to make you grateful and give you sabr and sukoon.

    You know we all live with some sort of illness – mental or physical – apparent or not – even to ourselves but subhanAllah indeed it is a mercy from Allah to recognize it for what it is and to understand it and reflect and turn to only Him for guidance and assurance of goodness of any sort.

    May Allah guide us all and help us reflect.

    Jazakhallah Khair sister, what an awesome and amazing reminder.

  99. Avatar

    Hany

    December 15, 2013 at 8:03 AM

    “For me, I’m grateful for my illness because apparently I needed my body to start dying in order for my heart to start coming alive.”

    Amazing. Truly inspiring article. insha’Allah you continue to grow in this state.

  100. Avatar

    ukhthi

    January 1, 2014 at 9:05 AM

    AssalamuAlykum my dear sr.Abez,MashaAllah your insight is pretty amazing.May Allah reward you abundantly in both the worlds.ameen ..You are an inspiration to me.You are doing so much to the community & to your family.MashaAllah..Everyone worries about their children and about their future.As you have said we have to train them to be fearful of Allah and Allah is the one who protects them now & for ever..Shukr is one of the way to enter Jannah ..You are doing shukr so well mashaAllah sabr became a part of you.Alhamdulillah.We all know we are dying but we don’t know when and we don’t know in which state our souls are taken? May Allah unite us in jannah where there will be everlasting bliss .ameen.

  101. Pingback: MuslimMatters' Top 13 Most-Read Articles of 2013 | MuslimMatters.org

  102. Pingback: Backtrack to 2013: Catching up on Reviews and stuff | juwi's random ramblings...

  103. Avatar

    umm hasna

    January 21, 2014 at 10:47 AM

    Dearest abez, I love u for Allah.

  104. Avatar

    Mr. Bukit Besi

    August 10, 2014 at 8:09 AM

    SubhanaAllah a beautiful and powerful article. May Allah swt make these trials a means for your entry in to Jannah. Ameen.

  105. Avatar

    Charlotte

    December 14, 2014 at 4:58 AM

    Assalamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh SubhanAllah MashAllah! May Allah swt reward you for your post ameen. You made me laugh and then brought tears uncontrolably gushing down my face AllahuAkbar! May Allah grant you jannat ul firdous ameen i love you for the sake of Allah sis truly i do! I pray one day Allah we unite us in jannah and Allah will remind us of this time so i can thank you for your inspiration Alhamdulillah!

  106. Pingback: Ehlers-danlos Syndrome Wisdom Teeth - Wisdom Teeth Removal

  107. Pingback: » Handling Painful Moments with Grace

  108. Avatar

    Aafia

    October 16, 2015 at 2:17 PM

    A very touching article.
    Trials are a means of atonement of sins.Allah repays us in every ways,either in duniya or in Akhirah.
    May Allah grant us jannah without getting afflicted by harsh trials.

  109. Avatar

    AYEINA

    November 15, 2016 at 8:21 AM

    The number of times I’ve read and shared this article is infinite by now! One of the articles I just can’t stop talking about! <3

  110. Avatar

    SLS

    October 13, 2017 at 3:25 PM

    I have EDS and Dysautonomia. If it is of any comfort to you, most with both conditions have a normal life span. I am actually looked after by an EDS clinic in Baltimore. ?

Leave a Reply

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

#Life

How Do Muslims Plan for Disability

Avatar

Published

on

Families with children with disability have an extraordinary set of challenges and blessings.  Disability (or special needs) is a broad term.

Many disabilities will prevent what we often think of as “normal.”  It may hinder or prevent educational opportunities, and employment. Many people with “special needs” can get educated, get married and live long and productive lives.  The problem for many parents of younger children with special needs is that they typically have no certainty about their children’s future needs. Even if the situation looks dire, it may not stay that way.  

How do parents plan for a world where they may not be around to see how things will end up for their special needs children?  What can they do to help their children in a way that does not violate Islamic Inheritance rules?

Certain types of disability, especially the loss of executive decision-making ability, could also happen well into adulthood.  This can be a threat to a family’s wealth and be the cause of internal conflicts. This is the kind of thing every adult needs to think about before it happens.  

The Problem

The issues are not just that parents believe their special needs child will need more inheritance than other children. Muslim parents usually don’t think that. Some parents don’t want their special needs child to get any inheritance at all.  Not because of any ill-will against their special needs child; just the opposite, but because they are afraid inheritance will result in sabotaging their child’s needs-based government benefits.    

Many, perhaps most special needs children do not have any use for needs-based benefits (benefits for the poor).  But many do, or many parents might figure that it is a distinct possibility. This article is a brief explanation of some of the options available for parents of special needs children.  It won’t go over every option, but rather those that are usually incorporated as part of any Islamic Estate Planning.

Please Stand By

Example:  Salma has three daughters and two sons.  One of her children, Khalida, 3, has Down Syndrome.  At this point, Salma knows that raising Khalida is going to be an immense challenge for herself, her husband Rashid and all the older siblings.  What she does not know, however, is what specific care Khalida is going to need through her life or how her disability will continue to be relevant. She does not know a lot about Khalida’s future marriage prospects, ability to be employed and be independent, though obviously like any parent she has nothing but positive hopes for her child’s life.   

In the event of her death, Salma wants to make sure her daughter gets her Islamic right to inheritance.  However, if Khalida needs public benefits, Salma does not want her daughter disqualified because she has her own money.

Her solution is something called a “stand-by special needs trust.” This type of trust is done in conjunction with an Islamic Inheritance Plan and is typically part of a living trust, though it could also be a trust drafted into the last will.  I will describe more about what a special needs trust is below. For Salma, she is the Trustee of her trust. After she dies, she names her husband (or someone else) the successor Trustee. The trust is drafted to prevent it from becoming an “available resource” used to determine eligibility for public benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid and other benefits that go with that.

If it turns out that Salma passes away when Khalida is 5, and her assets are held in trust for her until she is 18 and her Trustee determines she does not need a special needs trust, she will get her inheritance precisely like everyone else based on their Islamic right.  If she does need benefits, the Trustee will only make distributions to Khalida that would not harm her eligibility.

This way, there is no need to deny Khalida her inheritance because of her disability, and she is also making sure giving her daughter inheritance would not harm her daughter’s healthcare or other necessary support.  

Munir Vohra is a special needs advocate and an athlete

The Shape of Special Needs Trusts

A stand-alone Special needs trusts, which is sometimes called a “supplemental needs trust” the kind without the “stand-by” variation I described above, are a standard device for families that have children with special needs. A trust is a property ownership device. A Grantor gives the property to a Trustee, who manages the property for the benefit of a beneficiary. In a revocable living trust, the Grantor, Trustee, and Beneficiary are typically the same person.  

When the trust is irrevocable, the Grantor, Trustee, and Beneficiary may all be different people. In a special needs trust, the person with a disability is the beneficiary. Sometimes, the person with a disability is also the Grantor, the person who created the trust.  This might happen if there is a settlement from a lawsuit for example and the person with special needs wants it to be paid to the trust.  

In many if not most cases, the goal may not be to protect the beneficiary’s ability to get public benefits at all. Many people with a disability don’t get special government benefits.  But they do want to protect the beneficiaries from having to manage the assets. Some people are just more susceptible to abuse.

The structure of the arrangement typically reflects the complexity of the family, the desire of siblings and extended family to continue to be involved in the care and attending to the needs of the person with a disability, even if they are not the person directly writing checks.   

Example: Care for Zayna

Example: Zayna is a 24-year-old woman with limited ability to communicate, take care of her needs and requires 24-hour care.  Zayna has three healthy siblings, many aunts, uncles, and cousins. Her father, Elias, earns about $70,000 per year and is divorced. Zayna’s mother Sameena cannot contribute, as she is on social security disability. However, Zayna’s adult brother and sisters, brother in laws, sister in law and several aunts, uncles want to help Zayna meet her needs E.lyas creates a third party special needs trust that would ensure Zayna has what she needs in the years to come.

Zayna receives need-based public benefits that are vital to her in living with her various disabilities and her struggle to gain increasing independence, knowledge and dignity.  So the trust needs to be set up and professionally administered to make sure that when Zayna gets any benefit from her trust, it does not end up disqualifying her ability to get any needs-based benefit.  

Contributions to the special needs trust will not go against Islamic Inheritance rules unless made after the death of the donor.

If Zayna dies, her assets from the special needs trust will be distributed based on the Islamic rules of inheritance as it applies to her.

When disability planning is not about Public Benefits

Perhaps most families with special needs children do not use any needs-based public assistance.  They are still concerned about special needs and planning for it.

Example:  Khadija, 16, is on the autism spectrum. For those familiar with the autism spectrum, that could mean a lot of things.  For her parents, Sarah and Yacoob, other than certain habits that are harmless and easy to get used to, it means Khadija is very trusting of people. Otherwise, she does well in school, and her parents don’t think she needs way more help than her siblings and she has just as good a chance of leading a healthy and productive life as any 16-year-old girl.  

The downside of being too trusting is that the outside world can exploit her.  If she ends up getting inheritance or gifts, she may lose it. The parents decide that when she gets her inheritance, it will be in a trust that would continue through her life.  There will be a trustee who will make sure she has what she needs from her trust, but that nobody can exploit her.

In some ways, what Khadija’s parents Sarah and Yacoob are doing is not so different from what parents might do if they have a child with a substance abuse problem.  They want to give their child her rights, but they don’t want to allow for exploitation and abuse.

Considering your own needs

There are many people who are easy marks for scammers, yet you would be unlikely to know this unless you are either a close friend or family member, or a scammer yourself.  While this often happens to the elderly, it can happen at just about any age. Everyone should consider developing an “incapacity plan” to preserve their wealth even if they lose their executive decision-making ability.   

There is this process in state courts known as “conservatorship.” Indeed, entire courtrooms dedicate themselves to conservatorships and other mental health-related issues.  It is a legal process that causes an individual to lose their financial or personal freedom because a court has essentially declared them not competent to handle their affairs. Conservatorships are a public process.  They can cause a lot of pain embarrassment and internal family strife.

One of the benefits of a well-drafted living trust is to protect privacy and dignity during difficult times.

Example: Haris Investing in Cambodian Rice Farms

Haris, 63, was eating lunch at a diner.  In the waiting area, he became fast friends with Mellissa; a thirty-something woman who was interested in talking about Haris’s grandchildren.  The conversation then turned Melissa and her desire to start a business selling long distance calling cards. Haris was fascinated by this and thought it made good business sense. Haris gave Mellissa $20,000.00. The two exchanged numbers. The next day, Mellissa’s number was disconnected.

Haris’s wife, Julie became alarmed by this.  It was out of character for her husband to just fork over $20,000 to anyone on the spur of the moment.  What was worse is that the business failed immediately.  

Three months later,  Haris meets Mellissa at the diner again.  She then convinces Haris to invest $50,000 in a Cambodian rice farm, which he does right away.   His wife Julie was pretty upset.

How living trusts helps

As it happened though, Haris, a few years before, created a living trust.  It has a provision that includes incapacity planning. There are two essential parts to this:  The first is a system to decide if someone has lost their executive decision-making ability. The second is to have a successor Trustee to look over the estate when the individual has lost this capacity.  This question is about Haris’s fundamental freedom: his ability to spend his own money.

If you asked Haris, he would say nothing is wrong with him.  He looks and sounds excellent. Tells the best dad jokes. He goes to the gym five times a week and can probably beat you at arm wrestling. Haris made some financial mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes.

Julie, and his adult children Haroon, Kulsum, Abdullah, and Rasheeda are not so sure it’s just a mistake.  The living trust created a “disability panel.” This panel gets to vote, privately, in if Haris should continue to act as Trustee of his own money.  If they vote that he should not manage his own money, his wife does it for him.

The family has a way to decide an important and sensitive issue while maintaining Haris’ dignity, privacy and wealth.   Haris’s friends don’t know anything about long distance calling cards or a Cambodian rice farm; they don’t know he lost his ability to act as Trustee of his trust.  Indeed the rest of the world is oblivious to all of this.

Planning for everyone

Islamic inheritance is fard and every Muslim should endeavor to incorporate it into their lives.  As it happens it is an obligation Muslims, at least those in the United States, routinely ignore or deal with inadequately.  However, there is more to planning than just what shares go to whom after death. Every family needs to create a system. There may or may not be problems with children or even with yourself (other than death, which will happen), but you should do whatever you can to protect your family’s wealth and dignity while also fulfilling your obligations to both yourself and your family.

Continue Reading

#Society

Cleaning Out Our Own Closets This Ramadan: Bigotry

Why Eliminating Hate Begins with Us

Avatar

Published

on

Before Muslims take a stand against xenophobia in the U.S., we really need to eradicate it from our own community.

There. I said it.

There is no nice way to put it. Muslims can be very intolerant of those outside their circles, particularly our Latino neighbors. How do I know? I am a Latina who came into Islam almost two decades ago, and I have experienced my fair share of stereotypes, prejudice, and just outright ignorance coming from my very own Muslim brethren.

And I am not alone.

My own family and Latino Muslim friends have also dealt with their daily doses of bigotry. Most of the time, it is not ill-intentioned, however, the fact that our community is so out of touch with Latin Americans says a lot about why we are often at the receiving end of discrimination and hate.

“Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves…” (The Qur’an, 13:11)

Recently, Fox News came under fire for airing a graphic that stated, “Trump cuts aid to 3 Mexican countries,” on their show, “Fox and Friends Weekend.” The network apologized for the embarrassing error, but not before criticism of their geographical mishap went viral on social media. The reactions were of disbelief, humor, and repugnance for the controversial news channel that has become the archenemy of everything Islamic. People flooded the internet with memes, tweets, and comments regarding the ridiculous headline, Muslims included. American Muslim leaders quickly released statements condemning the lack of knowledge about the difference between Mexico and the nations of Central and South America.

Ironically, however, just about two months ago, my eldest son wrote an essay about the bullying he experienced in an Islamic school, which included insults about him being Mexican and “eating tacos” even though he is half Ecuadorian (South America) and Puerto Rican (Caribbean), not Mexican. I include the regions in parentheses because, in fact, many Muslims are just as geographically-challenged as the staff at Fox News. When a group of Hispanic workers came to replace the windows at his former school, my son approached them and spoke to them in Spanish as a means of dawah – teaching them that there are Latin American and Spanish-speaking Muslims. His classmates immediately taunted him saying that the laborers were “his cousins.” Although my son tried countless times to explain to his peers the difference between his origins and Mexico and defended both, they continued to mock Latinos.

On another occasion, a local masjid invited a famous Imam from the Midwest to speak about a topic. My family and I attended the event because we were fans of the shaykh and admired his work. A few minutes into his talk, he made a derogatory remark about Mexicans, and then added with a smile, “I hope there aren’t any Mexicans in the room!” A gentleman from the community stood up behind my husband, who is Ecuadorian, and pointed at him saying, “We have one right here!” Some people chuckled as his face turned red. The shaykh apologized for his comment and quickly moved on. We looked at each other and rolled our eyes. This was nothing new.

Imam Mohamed Alhayek (Jordanian Palestinian) and Imam Yusuf Rios (Puerto Rican) share an intimate moment during the 16th Annual Hispanic Muslim Day. Photo/Caption by Melissa Barreto — at North Hudson Islamic Educational Center (NHIEC).

Once, I visited a Pakistani sister, and as I enjoyed a cup of warm chai on her patio, she turned to me earnestly and said, “You and (another Latina Muslim) are the only educated Hispanics I know.” She then asked me why Latinos did not have “goals and ambitions” because supposedly, all the Hispanic students in her daughters’ school only aspired to work in their parents’ businesses as laborers. She went on to tell me about her Hispanic maid’s broken family and how unfortunate it was that they had no guidance or moral values. I was shocked by her assumptions, but I realized that this was the sentiment of a lot of Muslims who simply do not know a thing about our culture or have not taken the time to really get to know us.

When I accepted Islam back in 2000, I never expected to hear some of the narrow-minded comments and questions I received from those people who had become my brothers and sisters in faith. After all, I came to Islam through the help of an Egyptian family, I declared the Shahada for the first time in the presence of people from Pakistan, and I was embraced in the masjid by worshippers from places like Somalia, Sudan, Palestine, India, Turkey, and Afghanistan. A white American convert gifted me with my first Ramadan guide and an Indian sister supported me during my first fast. I expected to be treated equally by everyone because Islam was for everyone and Muslims have been hearing this their whole lives and they preach it incessantly. I do the same now. As a Muslim Latina, I tell my people that Islam is open to all and that racism, colorism, classism, and xenophobia have no place in Islam.

Nevertheless, it did not take long for me to hear some very ugly things from my new multi-cultural community. I was questioned about whether I was a virgin or not by well-meaning sisters who wanted to find me a Muslim husband. My faith was scrutinized when my friend’s family introduced me to an imam who doubted I had converted on my own, without the persuasion of a Muslim boyfriend or husband. I was pressured about changing my name because it was not “Islamic” enough. I was lectured about things that I had already learned because foreign-born Muslims assumed I had no knowledge. I was even told I could not be a Muslim because I was Puerto Rican; that I was too “out there,” too loud, or that my people were not morally upright.

I know about good practicing Muslim men who have been turned down for marriage because they are Hispanic. On the other hand, I have seen sisters taken for marriage by immigrant Muslims to achieve citizenship status and later abandoned, despite having children. I have been approached by Muslim men searching for their “J-Lo,” who want to marry a “hot” Latina because of the disgusting exploitation of Latina women they have been exposed to from television, movies, and music videos. I have made the mistake of introducing this type of person to one of my sisters and witnessed their disappointment because she did not fit the image of the fantasy girl they expected. I have felt the heartbreak of my sister who was turned down for not living up to those unrealistic expectations, and who continues to wait for a Muslim man who will honor her as she deserves. An older “aunty” once said to my face that she would never let her children marry a Latino/a.

I met a brother named José who was told that he had to change his un-Islamic Spanish name so that he would be better received in the Muslim community, even though his name, when translated to Arabic, is Yusuf! I have been asked if I know any Hispanic who could work at a Muslim’s store for less than minimum wage 12 hours a day or a “Spanish lady” who can clean a Muslim’s house for cheap. I have spoken to Latino men and women who work at masajid doing landscaping or janitorial services who have never heard anything about Islam. When I approached the Muslim groundskeeper at one of these mosques with Spanish literature to give them, he looked at me bewildered and said, “Oh, they are just contractors,” as if they did not deserve to learn about our faith! I have heard that the child of a Latina convert was expelled and banned from returning to an Islamic school for making a mistake, once. I have been told about fellow Hispanics who dislike going to the masjid because they feel rejected and, worse of all, some of them have even left Islam altogether.

Latina Muslims share a laugh during the 16th Annual Hispanic Muslim Day.
Photo/Caption by Melissa Barreto — at North Hudson Islamic Educational Center (NHIEC).

A few weeks ago, news was released about the sentencing of Darwin Martinez Torres, who viciously raped and murdered Northern Virginia teen, Nabra Hassanen during Ramadan in June 2017. The story made national headlines and left her family and the entire Muslim community devastated. Although the sentence of eight life terms in prison for the killer provided some closure to the public, the senseless and heinous act still leaves sentiments of anger and frustration in the hearts of those who loved Nabra Hassanen. Muslims began sharing the news on social media and soon, remarks about the murderer’s Central American origin flooded the comments sections. One said, “An illegal immigrant from El Salvador will now spend the rest of his life in a U.S. prison where all his needs will be met, and his rights will be protected… When we attack efforts to stop illegal immigration and to deal with the criminals coming across the border every day, remember Sr. Nabra… we should all be united in supporting common-sense measures to ensure that our sisters do not walk in fear of attacks. (And no, this is not an ‘isolated case’…).”

Although I was just as relieved about receiving the news that there was finally justice for our young martyred sister, I was saddened to see that the anti-Hispanic immigrant sentiment within our own community was exposed: To assume that Latino immigrants are “criminals coming across the border every day” is to echo the very words that came from current US President Donald Trump’s mouth about immigrants prior to his election to the presidency. To blame all Latinos for a crime committed against one and claim it is not an “isolated case” is to do the same thing that Fox News and anti-Muslim bigots do when they blame all Muslims for a terror attack.

Why are we guilty of the same behavior that we loathe?

I do not like to air out our dirty laundry. I have always felt that it is counterproductive for our collective dawah efforts. It is embarrassing and shameful that we, who claim to be so tolerant and peaceful, still suffer from the very attitudes for which we blame others. As I write this piece, I have been sharing my thoughts with my close friend, a Pakistani-American, who agreed with me and said, “Just like a recovering alcoholic, our first step is to admit there is a problem.” We cannot demand our civil rights and expect to be treated with dignity while we mistreat another minority group, and this includes Latinos and also other indigenous Muslims like Black Americans and Native Americans. I say this, not just for converts, but for my loud and proud, half Puerto Rican and half Ecuadorian children and nephews and others like them who were born Muslims: we need a community that welcomes all of us.

Latinos and Muslims share countless cultural similarities. Our paths are the same. Our history is intertwined, whether we know it or not; and if you don’t know it, then it is time you do your research. How can we visit Islamic Spain and North Africa and marvel at its magnificence, and travel to the Caribbean for vacation and notice the Andalusian architecture present in the colonial era structures, yet choose to ignore our shared past? How can you be proud of Mansa Musa, and not know that it is said his brother sailed with other Malians to the Americas prior to Columbus, making contact with the indigenous people of South America (even before it was “America”)? How can you turn your back on people from the countries which sheltered thousands of Muslim immigrants from places like Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey after the collapse of the Uthmani Empire, many of which carry that blood in their veins?

Latino Muslim panelists during “Hispanic Muslim Day” at North Hudson Islamic Educational Center, Union City, NJ Photo/Caption by Melissa Barreto — at North Hudson Islamic Educational Center (NHIEC).

We need to do a better job of reaching out and getting to know our neighbors. In recent years, the Muslim ban has brought Latinos and Muslims together in solidarity to oppose discriminatory immigration laws. The time is now to establish lasting partnerships.

Use this Ramadan to reach out to the Latino community; host a Spanish open house or an interfaith/intercultural community iftar. Reach out to Latino Muslims in your area for support, or to organizations like ICNA’s WhyIslam (Por qué Islam) for Spanish materials. A language barrier is not an issue when there are plenty of resources available in the Spanish language, and we have the universal language that has been declared a charity by our Prophet, Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), and that is a welcoming smile.

There is no excuse.

Continue Reading

#Culture

How to Teach Your Kids About Easter

Don’t tell my dad this, but growing up, I was sure I wanted to be a Christian. It had nothing to do with the theology though, it was – really and truly – all about the chocolate.

Zeba Khan

Published

on

Don’t tell my dad this, but growing up, I was sure I wanted to be a Christian. It had nothing to do with the theology though, it was – really and truly – all about the chocolate.

Don’t get me wrong, I did not grow up in any sort of conservative, chocolate-deprived bubble. My mother was – and still is – a Christian. My father was – and still is – Muslim, and our home was a place where two faiths co-existed in unapologetic splendor.

My mother put up her Christmas tree every year.  We children, though Muslim, received Easter baskets every year. The only reason why I wished I was Christian too, even though I had no less chocolate in my life than other children my age, was because of the confusing guilt that I felt around holiday time.

I knew that the holidays were my mother’s, and we participated to honor and respect her, not to honor and respect what she celebrated. As a child though, I really didn’t understand why we couldn’t celebrate them too, even if it was just for the chocolate.

As an adult I’ve learned that I’m not alone in this conflicted enthusiasm for the holidays of others. Really, who doesn’t like treats and parties and any excuse to celebrate? As a parent though, I’ve decided that the best policy to use with my children is respectful honesty about where we stand with regard to other religions.

That’s why when my children asked me about Easter, this is what I told them:

  1. The holidays of every religion are the right of the people who follow them. They are as precious to them as Eid and Ramadan are to us.
  2. Part of being a good Muslim is protecting the rights of everyone around us, no matter what their religion is. There is nothing wrong with non-Muslims celebrating their religious non-Muslim holidays.
  3. We don’t need to pretend they’re not happening. Respectful recognition of the rights of others is part of our religion and our history. We don’t have to accept what other people celebrate in order to be respectful of their celebrations.
  4. The problem with Muslims celebrating non-Muslim religious holidays is that we simply don’t believe them to be true.

So when it comes to Easter specifically, we break it down to its smaller elements.

There is nothing wrong with chocolate. There is nothing wrong with eggs. There is nothing wrong with rabbits, and no, they don’t lay eggs.

There is nothing wrong with Easter, but we do not celebrate it because:

Easter is a celebration based on the idea the Prophet Isa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was Allah’s son, who Allah allowed to be killed for our sins. Easter is a celebration of him coming back to life again.

Depending on how old your child is, you may need to break it down further.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) Created the sun, Allah is not a person whose eyes can’t even look directly at the sun. Allah Created space, Allah is not a person who can’t survive in space. Allah Created fire, Allah is not a person who cannot even touch fire. Allah is not a person, He does not have children as people do. Prophet Jesus [alayis] was a messenger of Allah, not a child of Allah.

Allah is also the Most-Merciful, Most-Forgiving, and All-Powerful. When we make mistakes by ourselves, we say sorry to Allah and try our best to do better. If we make mistakes all together, we do not take the best-behaved person from among us and then punish him or her in our place.

Allah is Justice Himself. He is The Kindest, Most Merciful, Most Forgiving Being in the entire universe. He always was, and always will be capable of forgiving us. No one needed to die in order for Allah to forgive anyone.

If your teacher failed the best student in the class so that the rest of the students could pass, that would not be fair, even if that student had offered that. When people say that Allah sacrificed his own son so that we could be forgiven, they are accusing Allah of really unfair things, even if they seem to think it’s a good thing.

Even if they’re celebrating it with chocolate.

We simply do not believe what is celebrated on Easter. That is why we do not celebrate Easter.

So what do we believe?

Walk your child through Surah Ikhlas, there are four lines and you can use four of their fingers.

  1. Allah is One.
  2. Allah doesn’t need anything from anyone.
  3. He was not born, and nor was anyone born of Him. Allah is no one’s child, and no one is Allah’s child
  4. There is nothing like Allah in the universe

Focus on what we know about Allah, and then move on to other truths as well.

  1. Christians should absolutely celebrate Christian holidays. We are happy for them.
  2. We do not celebrate Christian holidays, because we do not accept what they’re celebrating.
  3. We are very happy for our neighbors and hope they have a nice time.

When your child asks you about things like Christmas, Easter, Valentines, and Halloween, they’re not asking you to change religions. They’re asking you for the chance to participate in the joy of treats, decorations, parties, and doing things with their peers.

You can provide them these things when you up your halal holiday game. Make Ramadan in your home a whole month of lights, people, and happy prayer. Make every Friday special. Make Eid amazing – buy gifts, give charity, decorate every decorat-able surface if you need to – because our children have no cause to feel deprived by being Muslim.

If your holidays tend to be boring, that’s a cultural limitation, not a religious one. And if you feel like it’s not fair because other religions just have more holidays than we do, remember this:

  • Your child starting the Quran can be a celebration
  • Your child finishing the Quran can be a celebration
  • Your child’s first fast can be a celebration
  • Your child wearing hijab can be a celebration
  • Your child starting to pray salah can be a celebration
  • Your children can sleep over for supervised qiyaam nights
  • You can celebrate whatever you want, whenever you want, in ways that are fun and halal and pleasing to Allah.

We have a set number of religious celebrations, but there is no limit on how many personal celebrations we choose to have in our lives and families. Every cause we have for gratitude can be an opportunity to see family, eat together, dress up, and hang shiny things from other things, and I’m not talking about throwing money at the problem – I’m talking about making the effort for its solution.

It is easy to celebrate something when your friends, neighbors, and local grocery stores are doing it too. That’s probably why people of many religions – and even no religion – celebrate holidays they don’t believe in. That’s not actually an excuse for it though, and as parents, it’s our responsibility to set the right example for our children.

Making and upholding our own standards is how we live, not only in terms of our holidays, but in how we eat, what we wear, and the way we swim upstream for the sake of Allah.  We don’t go with the flow, and teaching our children not to celebrate the religious holidays of other religions just to fit in is only one part of the lesson.

The other part is to extend the right to religious freedom – and religious celebration – to Muslims too. When you teach your children that everyone has a right to their religious holidays, include Muslims too. When you make a big deal out of Ramadan include your non-Muslim friends and neighbors too, not just because it’s good dawah, but because being able to share your joy with others helps make it feel more mainstream.

Your Muslim children can give their non-Muslim friends Eid gifts. You can take Eid cookies to your non-Muslim office, make Ramadan jars. You can have Iftar parties for people who don’t fast.   Decorate your house for Ramadan, and send holiday cards out on your holidays.

You can enjoy the elements of celebration that are common to us all without compromising on your aqeedah, and by doing so, you can teach your children that they don’t have to hide their religious holidays from the people who don’t celebrate them.  No one has to. And you can teach your children to respect the religions of others, even while disagreeing with them.

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are bound by a common thread, and there is much we come together on. Where the threads separate though, is still a cause for celebration. Religious tolerance is part of our faith, and recognizing the rights of others to celebrate – or abstain from celebration – is how we celebrate our differences.

Continue Reading

Trending