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Why I Let My Child Quit The Quran




By Hooyo Said (a pseudonym)

I write this on the evening that I told my daughter’s Qur’an teacher that I wanted my child to quit memorising the Qur’an. That’s right, quit.

Who am I? A highly experienced educator mother who’s taught children in Pupil Referral Units, mentored Muslim youth and consoled and advised parents about the ‘plight’ of their troublesome teenagers. Dealing with the challenging behaviour of ‘problem’ pupils has always been intuitive to me. I enjoy the mental gymnastics involved in getting the best out the toughest kids. My husband is a polymath, a multidisciplinary creative and dynamic educator who also happens to be studying for his PhD. So how then have we managed to mould a child who dislikes memorising Qur’an?

Our home is a loving environment rich in Qur’anic recitation and exegesis. Whilst my daughter was invitro, her father and I would affectionately recite the Qur’an aloud. As a baby, we’d engage her active listening skills by playing short surahs in the car and at home, reciting along so that Allah’s book became less background noise, more immersive audio experience. We’d recite in bed whilst having a cuddle under the duvet. Or pitch a makeshift tent in the living room reciting Qur’an and sharing Islamic stories illuminated by strobe light (a torch) and cinematic sound effects! By the age of two and a half, and without any formal teaching, my daughter knew many short surahs and would eagerly “sing” the Qur’an. At that point, her Qur’anic journey has been entirely organic; absorption by osmosis.

If our daughter’s induction into Qur’anic memorisation had started so well then why would we let her quit? I’m too Tiger Mother, too Dweckian to allow that to happen to my children. My husband and I share an outlook found amongst many Chinese communities in that success (in any domain) is inextricably linked to work ethic before talent (although talent certainly helps). Moreover, we believe in the value of loving to learn as an end itself. So then, how do I reconcile my daughter ‘quitting’ whilst not becoming a ‘quitter?’ Easily. My role as a parent (in my estimation) is to nurture the best out of my children, cultivating their strengths and addressing areas to improve. My husband and I do so by inculcating a reflective/reflexive methodology in our children; we learn from our inevitable faux pas! And this is where my daughter trips up. My girl is a six-year-old going on sixteen: driven yet doting (to her baby brother); creative yet competitive; sensible but sensitive. Hyper sensitive in fact; a highly volatile package!

With such an explosive combination of characteristics, I was cognizant that the Madrasah would be the wrong place for my daughter to learn the Qur’an. Distracted Ustadhs fiddling with phones, reading newspapers or even dozing off; even more distracted children, off-task with their studies, talking amongst themselves and seeking elopement from the “learning” environment at the first opportunity by taking prolonged trips to the toilet. My husband and I knew we could only entrust our child’s Qur’anic journey with the right teacher. Alhamdulilah, after much dua we found just the person. A young sister whose first language was Arabic and had teaching experience in state and faith settings at home and abroad. So we had a great teacher and a child with good tarbiyah a great success story right? Wrong!

My daughter’s first official Quran lesson began well. She was excited, engaged and eager to flaunt her skills of recitation to impress her new teacher. However, as the weeks progressed, she grew more and more frustrated with her errors in memorisation and pronunciation. Time after time my daughter would stumble and trip over the same ayah, not a story to dissimilar to most other children one imagines. I made it clear to my daughter that learning the Qur’an can be a challenge and that experiencing difficulties during the process was okay, in fact Allah would be even more proud of her effort! Nevertheless, I could see that my six year old wasn’t responding to the teaching methods employed by her Ustadah so like any good practitioners, my husband and I ran an “audit.” We switched things up.


We gave the Qur’an teacher creative license to do whatever it took to engage our daughter. Some weeks that entailed warming up with a chat, other weeks playing with blocks of lego or drawing in her beloved sketchpad, all of this without even touching the mushaf. But my daughter was still stuck, trapped in a place where emotions consumed her. Fiercely competitive yet angry at not “winning,” our little competitor couldn’t overcome her frustrations. Talking or laughing about it didn’t help either. It only edified the emotional and psychological deadlock. So in my Amy Chua “manhaj,” I dug my heels in. Mademoiselle dug them in even further. Worst of all, it became disconcertingly apparent that my daughter’s heart was no longer invested in learning the Book of Allah. In one lesson, she became so incensed that she flung the Qur’an across the room and stormed off! Calm and collected, I didn’t react. I simply wrote my baby girl a note. It read: “When you’re ready to talk, I’m ready to listen. Love Hooyo.” I later find an apology letter she had penned to Allah hidden beneath her story books.

In spite of all the ire and resistance, my daughter had made some progress, but in the process I was losing her; the child whose eyes lit up when we spoke of Allah were now stony cold. The child who would happily “sing” the Qur’an would rather remain mute. I couldn’t shake that image from my mind. I -the self-proclaimed “expert” – had unwittingly excised the love of learning the Uncreated Speech of Allah from her heart. That’s when my husband and I decided our daughter was going to take a hiatus from Qur’anic memorisation – for the time being. Instead, we’ll continue to live and enjoy a halal lifestyle rooted in Islamic identity, aesthetics and ethics with the Qur’an a constant presence, albeit in the background. And, as adoring parents, we’ll continue to support our daughter’s development in “antifragility” (to quote Nasim Nicholas Taleb) so that we may return to learning the Qur’an when she’s emotionally ready for the rigors of recitation and memorisation.

Ultimately, my daughter knows learning to read the Qur’an just like praying salah is non-negotiable but as a ‘stakeholder’ in her spiritual development she will have considerable input in how Quran is officially reintroduced. As emotionally intelligent educators responsive to our pupil’s needs, my husband and I have decided to address the root cause of our daughter’s ‘insurrection’ rather than resorting to extrinsic motivators – be they sugary snacks, sticker charts, high-fives and/or sycophancy – to instill (begrudging) obedience. By allowing our daughter to quit the Qur’an, a bold and somewhat unconventional move for a practising Muslim family, we have emotionally accepted that the process of memorisation will be interrupted in the short-term.

However, looking forward to the future, we hope and pray that our daughter’s relationship with the Qur’an will be edified, enriched and ultimately enduring. Moreover, it is even more paramount that we address her “combustible cocktail” of character traits, as our cold world does not care about her sweet sensibilities. I’m already planning and engineering scenarios where my daughter has to deal with loss and defeat so that she may learn to become more robust and resilient. My baby girl is a work in progress – aren’t we all? With diligence, determination and dua I’m confident my daughter will emerge from her chrysalis and blossom just like Austin’s Butterfly.



























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    February 4, 2016 at 2:45 AM

    Hoooooyoo. Mahad sanid.

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    February 4, 2016 at 2:49 AM

    I too went through this struggle when I was young, 60 years ago. My Quran teacher had pronounced I will never be able to learn Quran. Today, I teach Islamic Studies at a major university. In light my childhood experience, I had decided that my children would learn Quran recitation during summer breaks only when not preoccupied with other school work. This way, they would be able to learn intensively and also quickly. And they did well.

    I agree there is a need to change the method too. Unfortunately, the traditionally trained teachers while apt as using all electronic gadgets still use the outdated method when it comes to teaching Quran and they also repeat outdated irrational comments on the meaning of the Quranic verses, which makes today’s well informed children confused.

    It is best to teach it yourself creatively or seek teachers familiar with new methods and are creative too.

    Best wishes.

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    February 4, 2016 at 10:07 AM

    Hi, “in vitro” is Latin for “in glass” and refers only to a child conceived outside the womb with “in vitro fertilization”. The embryo only stays in the glass or other laboratory equipment for a few days at most, so I don’t think that’s what you meant to say.

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    Norma Tarazi

    February 4, 2016 at 11:30 AM

    Children develop at different rates. Remember that some start walking at 9 months and some at 18 months. Some normal kids don’t develop their brains for reading until later childhood, while others start reading at 4. Memorization is a skill some develop earlier than others. Some memorize easily and some have great difficulty. I know an imam who is very highly educated but he has always struggled with Quran memorization. He has many gifts and an excellent memory, but rote memorization is very difficult for him. He needs context and meaning for memory storage apparently. Isolated facts don’t stick with him. I’m glad you stopped the struggle for your child. She will pick up enough for salah and if she can read Arabic script, she will memorize what she can when she can later. Allah gives each of us different gifts and different struggles.

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    February 4, 2016 at 12:57 PM

    The title of your piece itself is a scary. Since when we allowed our children decide what is good or bad for them. A practical example, our children will never accept injecting needle in their body if they are given the option to decide. Yet, we force them taking soar medicines antibiotics and painful procedures for a reason.

    Memorizing Quran has a lot benefits and highly encouraged in our religion.

    It is understandable if you have concerns about teachers in your daughter’s Madrasa and their method of teaching. But by saying “she will have considerable input in how Qur’an is officially reintroduced” is beyond comprehension. I strongly believe taking children the Madrasa and attending Quranic sessions weights more by quitting from the Madrasa.

    I can’t agree you more it is time to review and make changes to the traditional method of teaching Quran to our children by incorporating new methods of teaching. But quitting and giving children choices is not an option.

    As a parent we are accountable in front of Allah, teaching our children their religion and Islamic values.

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      February 4, 2016 at 2:05 PM

      “But quitting and giving children choices is not an option.” Why not?

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        February 4, 2016 at 3:35 PM

        Let me clarify what I mean by that. Giving choices and options depends on the age of the child and the nature of the item in question. It is solely the primary responsibility of the parents to decide certain things like treatment options, early education and guidance. There are certain things that children can be left to make their own choices like what kind of game they like playing or which park they like to visit.

        Even if the children are gaining nothing from Madrasa, children will benefit by attending Madrasa environment. They will meet other Muslim children, possibly from different ethnic groups who are there for the same reason. It is an issue of identity and being a member of your own group.

        On the other hand, the monthly fee paid by the parents support the very existence of such Madrasa. When you pull out your child from Madrasa, your contributions is missing. When the number of parents who pull out their children increases, it will eventually lead closing the Madrasa.

        If there are concerns or issues to address about Madrasas, I would suggest parents to be active and involve the admin of the Madrasa.

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        October 12, 2016 at 11:30 AM

        I don’t see why quitting isn’t an option. Love for the Quran is far more important than memorizing it. If memorizing is difficult or frustrating for the child then he/she will associate the Quran with it. I had a slightly similar problem with my children too. It doesn’t hurt to talk to them about it and see how it can work for them. There are opportunities to push and points where pushing isn’t right.

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      Mahamoud Haji

      February 5, 2016 at 3:05 AM

      I agree the title is scary. shouldnt it have been “Why I Let My Child Temporarily Quit The Quran”? Yes, it is tactical withdrawal until an ambient environment exists to nurture the learning and understanding the Holy Qur’an. Although the content of the article explains furthern the ‘quiting’, remember as Muslims we need to communicate effectively at the earliest opportunity to avoid double guessing and misleading headlines.

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      Muhammed Salih

      May 21, 2016 at 11:03 AM

      You did the right thing, I dont get it when people say memorizing Qur-an is encouraged. (hoping for replies), I know learning Qur-an is better for us and reading it without knowing the meaning is discouraged. should we distress kids with Tajweed before they gets the meanings (and thereby deny their chance to be inspired). shouldn’t we rather ensure their faith first and put into kids interests to learn Arabic with regard to faith instead of outright tutions (and even worse, tution on Tajweed before Arabic). We live in an age were kids dont lack sources to learn but lack interests, wouldn’t they do better with enough interest, sense of need and a knowledgeble facilitator.

      In this case, she already had interest and might even have started learning to learn on her own, but some Tajweed issues sticked on to her.

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        Alaza Aj

        October 23, 2016 at 9:57 AM

        Masha’ Allah! Whichever way it is done, it is important to get our children to learn to read The Holy Quraan. More importantly, as you mention, is that they should be aware of the meaning of the verses of The Holy Quraan. This is the stepping stone that is needed to move them to the ultimate step and for which The Holy Quraan is meant for : using The Holy Quraan as a guide in life.
        In the end, I believe whatever efforts we expend on our children, they should be having this as end goal or outcome.


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    February 4, 2016 at 2:33 PM

    I do not understand this kind of emphasis that people have on memorizing the Quran. It does not seem to me that the first generations emphasized it in the same way as Muslims do today. They seem to have enphasized different things than we do today.

    It is dangerous to conflate parental ego “my kid is a conpetitive champ” with their iman which is tender and fragile.

    I would rather have a kid who only knows the first and last three surahs by heart but he loves Allah and His Messenger and fears Allah and the Akhirah and weeps whenever it is recited and is eager to pray and enter the masjid.

    Of course being an excellent memorizer and having those attributes are not mutually exclusive.

    But if putting my kid in a competition will distract him even for a moment from the terror of the akhirah, even for a moment from the love of Allah and His Messenger, even for a moment takes his niyyah from the moment he stands face to face before Allah subhana wa ta’ala then I can’t imagine not taking him out.

    In fact, I cannot see competitions doing anything except that except for a few kids and there is no way I am willing to take that risk.

    I think you did the right thing and I hope she’ll turn to a better way and insha Allah her dunya competition(and despite its “Islamic” veil is truly just that) is replaced with a competition for the akhirah. Insha Allah she will return to the way she was and better.

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      February 6, 2016 at 9:05 AM

      I think it was a wise decision. We push things onto our children which they may not be ready for. Memorising the whole Qur’an is an amazing feat, but not whete anyone esp a child loses the love for it. Adam yes we are accountable in teaching our children however Allah (swt) is most merciful and highly likely understands difficulties faced. The more important point is the child is able to learn when she feels she is ready and does it with love & dedication. There is no point otherwise. Forcing a child is negative and that is not Islam. Ensuring the basics are instilled, the rest will come as she gets older and has a better understanding of why we undertake certain tasks etc.

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        February 9, 2016 at 11:57 AM

        I believe not all parents had entered their kids for quran memorisation class jusy so they can win some competitions. I would let my kids enter quran class for the sake of gaining reward from Allah as the one who is hafiz can help their parents in the akhirah.also, memorisation can help one’ s brain become a lot smarter.

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      Amina Ali Abdi

      April 17, 2016 at 4:27 PM

      Well said .kids have different levels of understanding .I have a 8 year old who finds it so hard to memorise let alone read. I will let her take her time inshAllah she will get there

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    February 4, 2016 at 4:31 PM

    Loved this article. I also pulled my children out of the traditional “madrasah” environment: it was killing their spirits as Muslims, their love and enthusiasm for the Deen. Why did I feel like I had to undo damage from a place that was supposed to be benefitting them? The madrasah outlook is stale and backwards in not all but many places.

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    February 4, 2016 at 5:59 PM

    Seems to me that not learning the Surahs in correct pronunciation later created frustration for the little girl. This is true for anyone, especially for non-Arabic speakers.

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    February 4, 2016 at 10:07 PM

    I feel the title should be changed. Muslims never quit the Qur’an. It is our oxygen, and we can’t survive without it. I think you should reconsider.

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      February 6, 2016 at 9:10 AM

      The title isn’t such a big deal. It’s the issue which has been written about. It seems the most important point is forgotten but a minor issue such as the title is heightened. You are right the Quran is our life but not where one is brought to the point where they don’t have it as a part of their lives due to having being forced or reprimanded constantly for not reading correctly. It is a hard task and very very difficult for some. As long as we incorporate the Quran into our daily lives, memorisation is secondary.

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    mohamed Ibrahim

    February 5, 2016 at 6:18 AM

    Although the title is bit mismatching with the content of the article yet your communication is clear. Memerization the holy Quran is not among the fundemental principles of Islam and to my believe the Muslim parents should not of worry their children not memorizing the entire Quran but rather dispose enormous effort on how the children would of good practising Muslims which is very difficult on these days and especially raising Muslim family is a test. May Allah make her those who understand and practise the Quran and Sunnah. Abti soo barbaar.

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    umm moussa

    February 5, 2016 at 12:25 PM

    Assalam Aleykum , As a parent , I have no doubt you know your child better . I am just throwing some more ideas to think about .Have you considered if she has any form of learning difficulties ? my child has it but he compensates very well with everything english so no one understood his problem until his difficuties becomes prominent during learning Quran & Arabic ( we are non arabic). So he literally ran off where Quran .Adhan ,anything arabic was being played ( Some suggested otherwise !!) .
    However priority in our deen is never as much to memorize but to Understand & Apply Quran in our life . When she is in Love with Quran , she would want to memorize it inshallah .
    But I do not recommend , Quitting quran altogather . As Quran is a healing for us . as per our scholars ,
    ” If you want to rectify your heart, or want to see a change for better , in your child or companion—or whoever it is for that matter, then direct them to places where the Qurʾān is recited and direct them to be in the company of the Qurʾān. Allāh will then cause them to become better, whether they are willing to it or not”
    — Imām ash-Shāfiʿī, in: ḥilyat al-awliyāʾ 9/123.

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    February 5, 2016 at 9:37 PM

    Dear sister, most of the comments do not appear to touch the crux of the problem. As we all know, there are more Muslims who are non-Arabic speakers and yet we recite the Quran daily in a parrot like fashion. We do not try to understand and ponder upon its meaning. I have only just started to understand now (I am 57 years old), yet I learnt to read and recite when I was very young. I began to read the meanings and tafseer in English but that wasn’t enough. Then a friend introduced me to Quranic Arabic learning a few years ago. Now, although I am not a fluent Arabic speaker, I read the Quran and Surahs and understand (maybe not fully) what Allah is saying, and because I understand the meaning I want to read more, again and again. Each time I read a particular section, I understand more and more. Perhaps this is what is missing in most of our lives and we should strive to understand and ponder upon the message that Allah is giving us.

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      February 9, 2016 at 2:59 AM

      Masha’Allah … May Allah(swt) make it easy for you …. What ‘Qur’anic Arabic’ course did you participate in ?
      JazakAllah khairan.

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    February 6, 2016 at 6:01 AM

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    February 16, 2016 at 10:41 AM

    I think this is a good decision as long as Quran is reintroduced. Forcing her to learn when it’s clearly hurting her is only going to make her hate the Quran and by extension Islam as well. From what has been written in the article, I gather that the child will only be giving up memorising and not listening to the Quran.

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    February 19, 2016 at 5:53 PM

    Assalaam aleikum. May Allah Azza wa Jall reward you all, and especially sr Hooyo who put this issue in the open. I fully understand your decision, but yet again; your daughter seem to be so very young. Yes of course it is the best age to develop an excelent memorization skill, though every child is different, as sr, Norma Tarazi mentioned. By the way, I like to take the opportunity to thank sr Tarazi so much for her book “the child in islam”. It has truly been a mentor for me. Jazakamullahu khairan. I only like to comment on this to share my own experience. Yes, absolutely its important to learn our children to memorize al Quran al Kareem, but sadly I have to say that it havent worked so well with my children when it comes to hafizh. First of all, arabic is not my language, not even english. Their fathers mother- tongue is arabic, but the way he started to them suras was with anger, pressure, insult and harshness. He wouldnt let them go to any madrasa, because according to him none was good enough. We live in a non muslim country, so the madrasas was put up by local mosques with different nationalities. I was scared that my children would end up hating to learn quran, so little by little I tried to learn them arabic letters and script and to read arabic from the little I new, and go for small suras for memorisation to at least to be used in salaat. Most of the time we did this when the father was not home, otherwise they woldnt dare to recite anything loudly with what was doomed to be with mistake. My biggest concern was that they could develop a steadfast islamic identity, to have a personal relationship with Allah, and to reflect over verses from the Quran in our own language. When we went to learn a sura, short once, I made sure they also understood the meaning of it as well. Stories from Quran, from seerat, from prophets and ahadith, became more in focus than memorizing. Yes, I have to admit that I felt some envy on sisters I met who could tell how much their children had memorised from the quran, how much they learned from the madrasas and so on. But again, I could only make my dua towards the Almighty that my children would be steadfast in their deen, and alhamdulilleh now when they are big I feel my duaas answered. Because growing up in a non Muslim country is not taken for granted that a child would never be affected from the society around. Sadly, I’ve also seen children I new from they where very young, who memorized big part from Quran, have fallen far away from the religion and its practise. Others again, have gone to the very extreme; hating everything and everybody who’s not muslim! So there is a challenge in keeping a balance, no matter where we live; in a muslim or non muslim country/enviroment.

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    Umm hadi

    February 21, 2016 at 12:27 PM

    Asalam a laikum,
    May Allah protect us all and make our children the coolness of our eyes.

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    Masjid Al Aqsa

    April 7, 2016 at 1:07 PM

    I agree there is a need to change the method too. Unfortunately, the traditionally trained teachers while apt as using all electronic gadgets still use the outdated method when it comes to teaching Quran and they also repeat outdated irrational comments on the meaning of the Quranic verses, which makes today’s well informed children confused.

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    July 30, 2016 at 7:57 AM

    My mother forces me memorize the Quran and I dont know what to do. The more she forces me I can see the more I lose love for the Quran and deen. For example, when I was not forced to memorize, I would read Quran aloud and read Quran on my free time and I would also go to the masjid frequently. But when my mother started forcing me to memorize, I started to not read Quran on my free time and I would not like going to the masjid and I am slowly losing more and more love for Islam and the Quran. I dont want to lose the love for Islam and I dont know what to do.

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    October 16, 2016 at 8:31 AM

    What if the title of this article was something like, “Why I let my child quit school” … Would the responses be the same? Would everybody take it positively? Would everybody support?

    The answer is a big fat NO.

    Look around, and you’ll find that many, many, many children are regularly forced to go to school and get “worldly” education just so that they can grow up and make money and have a better, more luxurious lifestyle. Children are regularly forced to compete with other children in subjects such as science (with evolution being taught in many schools) and history (most of it being about non-Muslims). Children are regularly forced to get higher grades and excel in their studies so that the parents can feel “proud” in front of others and show-off.

    When a Muslim makes their children work hard, give up on sleep and even miss obligatory prayers for the sake of school and worldly education, nobody bats an eye. But when a Muslim makes their child to memorize the Holy Quran and live their life strictly according to the Sunnah, everybody loses their mind.

    This just goes on to show that DUNIYA is the top priority and is the BELOVED of the majority of people in today’s world. When the AAKHIRATH should be the top priority and REMEMBRANCE/WORSHIP OF ALLAH should be their main aim. And the sad part is that most Muslims doing this will never realize it and admit the reality.

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    November 12, 2016 at 7:47 AM

    Nice Article!! Everybody should also visit the link for complete online Quran Tilawat with Translation

  21. Avatar

    Gabe Dertz

    November 12, 2016 at 6:47 PM

    Forcing children to learn the qu’ran is child abuse and you should be ashamed of yourself.

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    March 18, 2017 at 8:10 PM

    I stopped going to Madrassah at around 15 years old. It was my decision and my parents fully supported me. I was half way through the Qur’an but the envioronemnt was killing my spirit and I was losing my Deen. I didn’t know the meaning of the words I was reading and at my Madrassah, they didn’t tell you the meaning. They put emphasis on just memorizing it. How can I learn something without knowing what it meant? Even when I read the translation, there isn’t enough time to truly understand the meaning and let it resonate within you whilst trying to memorize pages. I needed to find my passion and love for becoming a Hafiz again. I continued to read the Qur’an myself in my free time and was very strong and outspoken in my Deen. Here I am at 18 and I am back to where I was in the Qur’an and will soon finish memorizing it. I have and always will have a strong relationship with Allah. I am older than her but I agree that you should give your daughter time. If you continue to raise her in an Islamic household she will find her way back. I am lucky my parents are very Islamic and accepting. They knew I wasn’t lost in my Deen but I just couldn’t find my footing at a Madrassah.

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      March 18, 2017 at 8:13 PM

      I would just like to add that you shouldn’t let her ‘quit’ the Qur’an. Let her read it when she wants. Let her open up pages and read where she wants. Don’t pressure her. She’s young, let her understand what it is before you make her learn it. When she understands, she will come back to learning.

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    August 25, 2018 at 7:51 AM

    Assalamu Alikum Warahmathullahi Wabarakathuh,
    To the Author,
    I can relate with what you have gone through. Initially, I was impatient with my daughter when she started around same age. It was so slow. It took years. Felt like dream will never come through. But Alhamdulillah, after some 6 years, she has memorized completely and with advanced level of Thajweed. Now working on Ijaza program. Alhamdullillah. Praises are due only for Allah.

    Keep in mind that there are some but a very few teachers with whom they enjoy memorization. Those kind of teachers make a huge difference.

    Insha Allah my next 2 daughters are on the way.

    Request to you. Keep it slow now, but never give up. May Allah Almighty help all in memorizing Quran…aameen.

    Allahumma Salli alaa Muhammedin wa alaa Aaali Muhammed…aameen.

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Who Can We Trust?

Danish Qasim




Spiritual abusers are con-artists, and if they were easy to spot then they would be far less successful. That is why you must exercise vigilance and your own judgment above that of public opinion. Never let the person’s position make you trust them more than you would without it.

Spiritual abusers work covertly, present themselves well, and use their service as a cover beneath which to operate. The way to avoid them is to recognize their tactics and avoid being caught by them.

Blurring Lines

Spiritual abuse often begins with hard-to-spot precursors, with manipulators exploiting grey areas and blurring boundaries to confuse targets. For example, when setting someone up for illicit relations or secret marriage, teachers may begin with inappropriate jokes that lower boundaries.

They may touch others in ways that confuse the person touched as to permissibility, for example, men touching women on their hijabs rather than direct skin. They may inappropriately touch someone in ways that leave him/her wondering whether or not it was intentional.

There may be frivolous texting while the premise of engagement is ‘work only’. Boundaries may be blurred by adding flirtatious content, sending articles praising polygamy, or mentioning dreams about getting married. The recipient may struggle to pinpoint what’s wrong with any of this, but the bottom line is that they don’t have to.

While these tactics may be hard to prove, you don’t need to prove that you don’t want to be communicated with in this way and that you will not tolerate it. You can withdraw from the situation on the basis of your own boundaries.

One of the key challenges in standing up to spiritual abuse is the lack of confidence in calling out bad behavior or the need for validation for wrongs. We may be afraid to a question a teacher who is more knowledgeable than us when he is doing clear haram. However, halal and haram are defined by Allah and no human has the right to amend them. If a religious leader claims exemption to the rules for themselves or their students, that’s a big, bright, red flag.

Beware of Bullying

When you witness or experience bullying, understand that a Muslim’s dignity is sacred and don’t accept justifications of ‘tarbiyah’ (spiritual edification/character reformation) or breaking someone’s nafs (ego). If you didn’t sign up for spiritual edification, don’t accept any volunteer spiritual guides.

If you did sign up, pay attention as to whether these harsh rebukes are having a positive or negative effect. If they are having a negative emotional, mental, or physical effect on you, then this is clearly not tarbiyah, which is meant to build you up.

When abuse in the name of tarbiyah happens, it is the shaykh himself or the shaykha herself who needs character reformation. When such behavior goes unchecked, students become outlets of unchecked anger and are left with trauma and PTSD. This type of bullying is very common in women’s groups.

Trust Built and Trust Destroyed

There are different levels of trust, and as it relates to religious leaders, one does not need to investigate individuals or build trust for a perfunctory relationship. You do not need a high degree of trust if you are just attending someone’s general lectures and not establishing any personal relationship.

If you want to study something with an Islamic teacher, do so as you would with a school-teacher, understanding that their position does not make that person either exceptionally safe nor exceptionally harmful. Treat religious figures as religious consultants who are there to answer questions based on their knowledge. Give every teacher a clean slate, don’t have baseless suspicions, but if behavior becomes manipulative, exploitative, cultish, or otherwise abusive, don’t justify it either.

Personal accountability is a cornerstone of the Islamic faith and we have to take responsibility for our own faith and actions. There is no need to be suspicious without reason, but nor is there a justification for blind trust in someone you don’t know, just because they lead prayers or have a degree of religious education.

It is natural to ask ourselves whether people can be trusted after experiencing or learning about spiritual abuse. The answer is yes – you can trust yourself. You can also trust others in ways that are appropriate for the relationship. If you know someone well and they have proven over a long period of time to be trustworthy, keep secrets, and do not use you or take advantage of you, then it makes sense to trust that person more than a stranger or someone who has outward uprightness that you do not know well. That level of trust is earned through long-time demonstration of its characteristics.

Seeing someone on stage for years or relying on testimony of people impressed by someone should not convince you to lower your guard. Even if you do believe someone is pious, you still never drop your better judgment, because even saints are fallible.

Don’t Fall for Reputation

Never take other respected leaders praising or working alongside an individual as proof of his or her trustworthiness. It is possible that the teachers you trust are unaware of any wrongdoing. It’s not a reasonable expectation, nor is it a responsibility for them to boycott or disassociate themselves from another religious figure even if they are aware of them being abusive.

Furthermore, skilled manipulators often gain favor from respected teachers both overseas and domestically to gain credibility.

If one shaykh praises another shaykh, but you witness abusive behavior, don’t doubt yourself based on this praise. The praise may have been true at one time or may have been true in the experience of the one giving the praise, but no one knows another person’s current spiritual state as spiritual states can change.

Even if the abusive individual was previously recognized to be a great wali (saint), understand that there are saints who have lost their sainthood as they do not have isma (divine protection from sin or leaving Islam) like the prophets (upon them be peace) do. What was true yesterday, may not be true today.

Often praises of integrity, courage, and inclusiveness are heaped on men who support influential female figures. However, men who are praised as ‘allies,’ and thanked for ‘using their privilege’ to support female scholarship and the participation of women in religious organizations and events are no more trustworthy than those who don’t.

Abusers are often very image-conscious and may be acting to improve their own image and brand strength. Influential male and female religious figures also help one another with mutual praising and social-proofing. That is how the misdoings of men who are supportive of women are ignored, as long as they support the right politicized causes such as inclusive spaces and diverse panels.

Don’t be tricked into trust through a person’s credentials. An ijazah (license) to be a shaykh of a tariqa is purportedly the highest credential. It’s a credential that allegedly has a chain that goes all the way back to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), but that does not impart any of the Prophet’s character or trustworthiness in and of itself. A shaykh has to continuously live up to the ijaza and position. The position does not justify behavior outside of the sharia or any form of abuse. Scholars are inheritors of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) only to the degree to which they embody his character.

When a teacher who hasn’t spent adequate time with righteous shayukh abuses, they are said to lack suhba (companionship of the pious), and that is why they are abusive.

The truth is many of the worst abusers in traditional circles are highly certified, have spent adequate time with shayukh, are valid representatives of them, and are able to abuse because the previously mentioned credentials lead to blind trust.

Don’t let certifications about spiritual abuse, ethical leadership, or the like mean anything to you. Skilled narcissists will be the first to get such certifications and take courses because they know this will make people trust them more. You will see courses on ‘healthy leadership’ and ‘spiritual abuse prevention’ being taught and designed by them. There is a false premise behind such certifications that if religious leaders knew how abuse occurs and the damage it causes victims they wouldn’t do it. The fact is they know how abuse works, know how damaging it is, and don’t care. In a way, it’s good to have lessons on spiritual abuse from purveyors of abuse, just as learning theft prevention from a thief might be the most beneficial.

Don’t judge by rhetoric

Don’t look at the rhetoric of groups or individuals to see how seriously they take abuse. Spiritual abuse occurs in all groups. It is common for members of one group to call out abuse that they see in another group while ignoring abuse occurring within their own group.

Sufis who will talk about the importance of sharia, label others as ‘goofy-Sufis,’ and insist that real Sufis follow sharia, will very often abuse in private and use the same justifications as the other Sufi groups they publicly deride.

Many imams and religious leaders will talk publicly about the importance of justice, having zero-tolerance for abuse, and the importance of building safe spaces, while they themselves are participating in the abuse.

Furthermore, female religious leaders will often cover up secret marriages, and other abuses for such men and help them to ostracize and destroy the credibility of their victims as long as their political views align. Muslim mental health providers often incorporate religious figures when they do programs, and in some cases they involve known abusers if it helps their cause.

In some cases, the organization does not know of any abuse. Abusive individuals use partnerships with Muslim mental health organizations to enhance their image as a “safe person.” This is especially dangerous due to the vulnerability of those struggling with mental illness and spiritual issues, who may then be exploited by the abuser. It is a community responsibility to ensure the safety of these vulnerable individuals and to ensure that they do have access to resources that can actually help them.

Don’t judge by fame

One false assumption is that the local-unknown teacher is sincere while the famous preacher is insincere and just wants to amass followers. This contrast is baseless although rhetorically catchy.

The fact is, many unknown teachers desire fame and work towards it more than those who are famous. Other times the unknown and famous teacher may have the same love of leadership, but one is more skilled than the other. They both may also be incredibly sincere.

Ultimately, we cannot judge what is in someone’s heart but must look at their actions, and if their actions are abusive, they are a danger to the community. Both famous and non-famous teachers are equally capable of spiritual abuse.

Look for a procedure

Before being involved in an organization, look for a code of conduct. There is no accountability without one in non-criminal matters. Never depend on people, look at the procedures and ensure that the procedure calls for transparency, such as the one we at In Shaykh’s Clothing published and made free for the public to use.

Procedure also applies to an organizations’ financials. Do not donate money to organizations based on personalities, instead demand financial transparency and accountability for the money spent. There is great incentive for spiritual abusers to win the trust of crowds when it means they can raise money without any financial accountability.

But what about Husne-Zann? Thinking well of others?

Allah tells us يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اجْتَنِبُوا كَثِيرًا مِّنَ الظَّنِّ إِنَّ بَعْضَ الظَّنِّ إِثْمٌ

O You who believe, leave much suspicion, indeed some suspicions are sinful” (Quran 49:12).

From this verse, we see that some – not all negative opinions are sinful. The prohibition is partitive, meaning some bad opinions are permissible.

If someone punches you, it is not hunse-zann to assume that person just happened to stretch with a closed fist and did not see your face was in the way. This kind of delusion will lead to you getting punched more. To be wary of their fist isn’t a sinful level of suspicion.

Part of why spiritual abuse is difficult to detect is that its purveyors have a reputation for outright uprightness. They are thought well of in the community, and in many cases they are its pillars and have decades of positive service to their defense. Assuming that someone cannot be abusive simply because they have been a teacher or leader for a long time is not husne-zann. When facts are brought to light- like a fist to the face – it is delusional to assume they didn’t mean it that way.

If someone does something that warrants suspicion, then put your guard up and don’t make excuses for those actions. Start with a general guard and be procedural about things which require a procedure.  For example, if you are going to loan someone money, don’t just take their word that they will pay you back but insist on a written record. If they say they are offended, just say “it’s my standard procedure to avoid any confusion later on.” A reasonable person won’t have an issue with that. If someone mentions on the phone they will pay you $100 for your work, write an email to confirm what was said on the phone so there’s a record for it.

Lastly, and most importantly, never leave your child alone with a teacher where you or others cannot see them. Many cases of child sexual assault can be prevented if we never allow children to study alone with adults. There should never be an exception to this, and parents much uphold this as a matter of policy. Precaution is not an accusation, and this is a professional and standard no one should reject.

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OpEd: Why We Must Reconsider Moonsighting




Ed. Note: We understand that this is a matter of debate in many communities, MM welcomes op-eds of differing points of view. Please use this form.

When the Crescent Committee was founded in 2013, the Muslim community of Toronto was hopeful that this new initiative might resolve the long-standing problem of mosques declaring Eid on different days. This moonsighting organization was to follow global moonsighting as a methodology – if the crescent were to be sighted anywhere in the world, they would declare Eid. Global moonsighting was seen as a potential way of solving the yearly moonsighting debate which local sighting had been unable to solve thus far. It was hoped that this approach would also ensure congruence with Fiqh Council of North America’s (FCNA) lunar calendar which determines the Eid day in advance based on astronomical calculations.

This year, however, all those hopes were put to the test. Early afternoon on June 3rd, the 29th of Ramadan, the Crescent Committee (CC) started receiving reports that the moon was sighted in Saudi Arabia. Given that it was not possible for it to be seen there based on visibility charts, the committee required corroboration from another country in order to declare Eid. As the day progressed, they got reports from Iraq, Nigeria, Brazil, Mali and even from Maryland in the US. All those reports could not be relied upon because either the committee was unable to get in touch with their contacts in those countries or because the reports did not satisfy the criterion they laid out.

As they were sifting through the reports, the CC was shocked to learn that one of its founding members, the Islamic Foundation of Toronto (IFT), had already declared Eid! IFT is one of Toronto’s oldest and biggest mosques and their leadership decided to declare Eid based on the announcement from Mauritania. Mosques following FCNA’s calendar were already celebrating Eid the next day, so IFT thought it best to join with them with hopes of preserving unity.

With one of its own members having declared Eid and mounting pressure from the community given it was past 10 pm, the CC decided to wait to receive the final (hopefully positive) reports from California. This meant having to wait till sunset on the West Coast which would mean midnight on the East Coast. Unfortunately, even from California, there were no confirmed reports. Finally, at midnight, the Committee declared that they would complete 30 days of Ramadan and celebrate Eid on the 5th of June.

Alas, after spending a frustrating day waiting for an announcement till midnight, Toronto Muslims were told that this was going to be another year with two Eids in the city. This year, however, the split was not between proponents of astronomical calculations and moonsighting, but been proponents of the exact same moonsighting methodology!

Solving a 50-year old problem

This year’s debacle in Toronto represents nothing new. There have been numerous failed attempts to unite the moonsighting community. In 1995, the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Ministry of Warith Deen Muhammad joined hands to form the ‘Islamic Shura Council of North America’ with hopes of having a unified Eid declaration. Just like the Crescent Committee, this too was eventually disbanded due to dissenting voices. Other examples to unite and better organize moonsighting include the 2007 National Moonsighting Conference in California and the 2009 National Hilal Sighting Conference in New York. These attempts simply haven’t worked because there are far too many independent mosques and far too many moonsighting methodologies – uniting everyone in the absence of a governing authority is nearly impossible.

The story also highlights the three main problems that proponents of moonsighting have struggled to solve for nearly half a century in North America and other parts of the Western world. These can be summarized as follows:

1) Mosques declaring Eid on different days based on differing moonsighting methodologies. This has created notorious divisions within the community and has led to the awkward situation of families, often living in the same city, not being able to celebrate together. It can also lead to endless argumentation within families as to which mosque to follow with regards to this issue.

2) The unpredictability of the Eid date means that Muslims continue to have difficulty taking time off from work and planning family vacations. This problem is particularly challenging for the hourly-waged working-class individuals who work in organizations with little flexibility. The process of having to explain to an employer the complications surrounding Eid declarations can be a source of unnecessary hardship for many. It is not uncommon for many to take off a day which ends up being the ‘wrong day’.

3) Delayed announcements, especially during the summer months, due to process of receiving and verifying reports after sunset. Not knowing whether or not the next day will be a holiday, often until the late evening, has been a continued source of distress for families every year.

It was the desire the solve these very problems that brought together a group of visionary Muslim jurists and astronomers in Herndon, Virginia in 1987. Organized by the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), the Lunar Calendar Conference was one of the first attempts to find an innovative solution to the problems posed by traditional moonsighting. A detailed history of the events leading up to the conference and its aftermath have been documented before. In short, Muslim scholars and mathematicians continued work on the astronomical lunar calendar for nearly two decades after the conference and it was finally adopted by FCNA and ISNA in 2006.

A valid methodology from the Shariah

While opposition to FCNA’s lunar calendar was quite strong when it was first introduced, there has been growing acceptance of astronomical calculations over the past 15 years as a result of continued research and education on this subject.

The use of calculations to determine the dates of Ramadan is something which numerous reputable scholars have allowed throughout Islam’s history [1]. While this has always been the view of a small minority, championed mainly by scholars in the Shafa’i legal school, it is still based on a sound interpretation of religious texts. The difference of opinion on this issue arises from hadith of the Prophet where he stated,  “If [the crescent moon] is obscured from you, then estimate it” (فإن غم عليكم فاقدروا له ). A detailed exposition in support of calculations from a classical perspective was recently presented by Shaykh Salahuddin Barkat.

Shaykh Musa Furber, one of America’s leading Shafa’i jurists, also comments on the towering figures from our tradition who supported calculations: “Since the time of Imām al-Nawawī, there has been an evident trend within the Shāfiʿī school of law for acceptance for the personal use of calculations for fasting. While a small number of earlier Shāfiʿī scholars did accept it, it seems to have been confined to a small minority within the school. It was not until the time of Imam al-Nawawī (may Allah grant him His mercy) that the opinion amongst scholars of the school started to shift towards accepting calculations as valid and even binding — even if limited to the calculator and whoever believed him. Although al-Subkī (may Allah grant him His mercy) is usually accredited with causing this shift, some scholars credit Imam al-Nawawī’s himself with starting this trend. The opinion was accepted by both Shaykh al-Islām Zakariyā al-Anṣārī and Imām al-Ramlī, though not by Imam Ibn Ḥajar (may Allah grant all of them from His mercy). These imams form the basis for reliable opinions in the late Shāfiʿī madhhab.”

Understandably, this opinion was considered weak and ignored through much of Islamic history. Some limited its scope and allowed it only when the moon was obstructed or for use by experts in astronomy. There really is no need for calculations in Muslim lands where there exists a centralized authority to sight the crescent and there are public holidays for the entire populace. However, in secular countries with Muslim minorities, this position must be revisited as it offers a very practical solution to the crises we find ourselves in.

Only one way forward

According to a 2011 survey of over 600 mosques in the US, the adoption rate of FCNA’s calendar stood at 40%. At the writing of this article nearly 8 years later, this number has likely increased to over 50%. The survey indicated that about 40% of the mosques followed local sighting while the remainder followed global sighting. Given the recent shift towards global moonsighting, it is likely that the moonsighting community is evenly split between the two positions at this time.

These statistics represent the only logical way forward to solve this decades-old problem: the most efficient way of achieving unity is by converging behind FCNA’s lunar calendar. This methodology is the only real solution to the crises we currently find ourselves in. Not only does it address all our needs, but this approach has also shown to provide immense ease and facilitation for Muslim communities that have followed it in the past 15 years.

The moonsighting leadership has failed to unite despite a half-century of effort; it is inconceivable at this point that this would ever happen. Even if it did miraculously happen, 50% of the community would still be following FCNA’s calendar and all three of our main problems will remain unaddressed. Additionally, with the current trend of uniting behind the approach of global sighting, ‘moonsighting’ has largely become an administrative exercise. It involves the hilal committee simply waiting for reports from abroad and trying to ascertain their veracity. Only a handful of communities go out looking for the moon and establish the sunnah of moon sighting in a bonafide sense.

In large communities where differing Eid dates is a reoccurring problem, advocating for the adoption of the lunar calendar must come from the grass-roots level. Muslims most affected by this problem should lobby their local mosques to change their positions and unite behind FCNA’s lunar calendar.

While it may seem impossible to get the leadership of mosques to abandon an old position, it has already been done. In 2015, nine major mosques in the Chicago area set aside their differences and put their support behind the lunar calendar. This is an incredible feat and has created ease in the lives of thousands of people. If similar initiatives are taken in other cities split along lines of lunar dogmatism, it is conceivable that the moonsighting issue could be resolved in North America within the next five to ten years.

The Prophet told us to calculate the moon if it is obscured by clouds. Today, the moon is not obscured by physical clouds but it is clouded by poor judgment, distrust, egotism, disunity, and pride. We must resort to calculations to determine the birth of the new moon, not because it is the strongest legal position or a superior approach, but because our status as minorities in a secular land necessitates it.


[1]  From SeekersGuidance: Scholars upholding this can be traced all the way back to the first Islamic century. The textual basis for this opinion is the hadith narrated by al-Bukhari, “When you see it [the new moon of Ramadan] then fast; and when you see it [the new moon of Shawwal], then break the fast. If it is hidden from you (ghumma ‘alaykum) [i.e. if the sky is overcast] then estimate it (fa-qdiru lahu);” (al-Bukhari, hadith no. 1900). The last verb, fa-qdiru, can be validly understood to mean calculation. Of the scholars who held this, are Abu al-‘Abbas b. Surayj (d. 306/918), one of the leading founders of the classical Shafi‘i school, the Shafi‘i scholar and renowned mystic Abu al-Qasim al-Qushayri (d. 465/1072), the leading Shafi‘i judge Taqi al-Din al-Subki (d. 756/1355), the Shafi‘i legal theorist al-Zarkashi (d. 794/1392), the renowned Maliki legal theorist al-Qarafi (d. 684/1285), and some Hanafi scholars. The late Shafi‘i commentator al-Qalyubi (d. 1069/1659) held that all sighting-claims must be rejected if calculations show that a sighting was impossible, stating, “This is manifestly obvious. In such a case, a person may not fast. Opposing this is obstinacy and stubbornness.” See al-Mawsu‘ah al-fiqhiyyah al-kuwaytiyyah, c.v. “Ru’yat al-hilal,” vol. 22, pp. 31-4. The leading scholar of the late Shāfi‘ī school Muhammad al-Ramli (d. 1004/1596) held that the expert astronomer was obliged to follow his own calculation as was the non-astronomer who believed him; this position has been used by some contemporary Shafi’i scholars to state that in the modern world, with its precise calculations, the strongest opinion of the Shafi’i school should be that everyone must follow calculations; see ‘Umar b. al-Habib al-Husayni, Fath al-‘ali fi jam‘ al-khilaf bayna Ibn Hajar wa-Ibn al-Ramli, ed. Shifa’ Hitu (Jeddah: Dar al-Minhaj, 2010), pp. 819-22. See also the fatwa of the Hanafi scholar Dr Salah Abu al-Hajj (معنى-حديث-لا-تصوموا-حتى-تروا-الهلال-ول) last accessed 9/5/2016) which states, after arguing against relying on calculations, “However, the position of [following] calculations is the position of a considerable group of jurists, so it is a respected disagreement in Islamic law, whereby, if a state were to adopt it, it is not rejected, because the judgment of a judge removes disagreement, and the adoption of a state is [as] the judgment of a judge.

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Eid Lameness Syndrome: Diagnosis, Treatment, Cure




How many of you have gone to work on Eid because you felt there was no point in taking off? No Eid fun. Have you ever found Eid boring, no different from any other day?

If so, you may suffer from ELS (Eid Lameness Syndrome). Growing up, I did too.

My family would wake up, go to salah, go out to breakfast, come home, take a 4+ hour nap and then go out to dinner. I didn’t have friends to celebrate with and even if I did, I wouldn’t see them because we stuck to our own immediate family just as they did.

On the occasion that we went to a park or convention center, we would sort of have fun. Being with other people was certainly better than breakfast-nap-dinner in isolation, but calling that a memorable, satisfying, or genuinely fun Eid would be a stretch.

I don’t blame my parents for the ELS though. They came from a country where Eid celebration was the norm; everyone was celebrating with everyone and you didn’t have to exert any effort. When they moved to the US, where Muslims were a minority, it was uncharted territory. They did the best they could with the limited resources they had.

When I grew up, I did about the same too. When I hear friends or acquaintances tell me that they’re working, doing laundry or whatever other mundane things on Eid, I understand.  Eid has been lame for so long that some people have given up trying to see it any other way. Why take personal time off to sit at home and do nothing?

I stuck to whatever my parents did for Eid because “Eid was a time for family.” In doing so, I was honoring their cultural ideas of honoring family, but not Eid. It wasn’t until I moved away that I decided to rebel and spend Eid with convert friends (versus family) who didn’t have Muslim families to celebrate with on Eid, rather than drive for hours to get home for another lame salah-breakfast-nap-dinner.

That was a game-changing Eid for me. It was the first non-lame Eid I ever had, not because we did anything extraordinary or amazing, but because we made the day special by doing things that we wouldn’t normally do on a weekday together. It was then that I made a determination to never have a lame Eid ever again InshaAllah.

I’m not the only one fighting ELS. Mosques and organizations are creating events for people to attend and enjoy together, and families are opting to spend Eid with other families. There is still much more than can be done, as converts, students, single people, couples without children and couples with very small children, are hard-hit by the isolation and sadness that ELS brings. Here are a few suggestions for helping treat ELS in your community:

Host an open house

Opening up your home to a large group of people is a monumental task that takes a lot of planning and strength. But it comes with a lot of baraka and reward. Imagine the smiling faces of people who would have had nowhere to go on Eid, but suddenly find themselves in your home being hosted. If you have a big home, hosting an open house is an opportunity to express your gratitude to Allah for blessing you with it.

Expand your circle

Eid is about commUNITY. Many people spend Eid alone when potential hosts stick to their own race/class/social status. Invite and welcome others to spend Eid with you in whatever capacity you can.


You can enlist the help of close friends and family to help so it’s not all on you. Delegate food, setup, and clean-up across your family and social network so that no one person will be burdened by the effort InshaAllah.

Squeeze in

Don’t worry if you don’t have a big house, you’ll find out how much barakah your home has by how many people are able to fit in it. I’ve been to iftars in teeny tiny apartments where there’s little space but lots of love. If you manage to squeeze in even two or three extra guests, you’ve saved two or three people from ELS for that year.

Outsource Eid Fun

If you have the financial means or know enough friends who can pool together, rent a house. Some housing share sites have homes that can be rented specifically for events, giving you the space to consolidate many, smaller efforts into one larger, more streamlined party.

Flock together

It can be a challenge to find Eid buddies to spend the day with. Try looking for people in similar circumstances as you. I’m a single woman and have hosted a ladies game night for the last few Eids where both married and single women attend.  If you are a couple with young kids, find a few families with children of similar age groups. If you’re a student, start collecting classmates. Don’t wait for other people to invite you, make a list in advance and get working to fend off ELS together.

Give gifts

The Prophet ﷺ said: تَهَادُوا تَحَابُّوا‏ “Give gifts to increase love for each other”. One of my siblings started a tradition of getting a gift for each person in the family. If that’s too much, pick one friend or family member and give them a gift. If you can’t afford gifts, give something that doesn’t require much money like a card or just your time. You never know how much a card with kind, caring words can brighten a person’s Eid.

Get out of your comfort zone

If you have ELS, chances are there is someone else out there who has it too. The only way to find out if someone is sad and alone on Eid is by admitting that we are first, and asking if they are too.

Try, try, try again…

Maybe you’ve taken off work only to find that going would have been less of a waste of time. Maybe you tried giving gifts and it didn’t go well. Maybe you threw an open house and are still cleaning up/dealing with the aftermath until now. It’s understandable to want to quit and say never again, to relent and accept that you have ELS and always will but please, keep trying. The Ummah needs to believe that Eid can and should be fun and special for everyone.

While it is hard to be vulnerable and we may be afraid of rejection or judgment, the risk is worth it. As a survivor and recoverer of ELS, I know how hard it can be and also how rewarding it is to be free of it. May Allah bless us all with the best Eids and to make the most of the blessed days before and after, Ameen.

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