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Aaila Feature

Single Muslim Mums - 30 April, 2015 - 22:36
http://aaila.org/issue/january-february-2015/article/the-truth-about-being-a-single-muslim-mother The truth about being a single Muslim mother

By Misbah Akhtar   Thu, Apr 05, 2012

The issue of single Muslim mothers is fast becoming a prevalent one; with divorce on the rise it seems only logical that some of these statistics would also apply to Muslim households. Why then are they not revered as they deserve to be and instead looked down upon and scorned by many communities?

The truth about being a single Muslim mother

Is it really seen as so contagious that girls from ‘respectable’ families should stay away from these women in case they too, catch it?  Why are these women made to feel humiliated and isolated from their community as if they chose this path for themselves?  Being left with no option but to walk is not the same as breaking up a perfectly happy marriage for selfish reasons; only Allah knows the whole truth and what is in someone’s heart so why then do people assume?

 

No-one asks to be a single mother, it’s a relentless job; work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year; no pay; and no training is given.  You cannot quit and are expected to play the role of both mother and father.  The pressure that you face from society is massive, you feel that everyone is waiting for you to make a wrong move which, if you make, will lead to them pouncing on you saying that your child has turned out faulty because of a lack of mothering skills that you possess – which is why you are a single mum.  It is due to this reason that many single mothers feel isolated from their community; they are not encouraged to speak up about their struggles in an attempt to console other women, rather they are warned to keep quiet and suffer alone so as not to bring shame on their families.  There is no organisation in place for them where they can go to for help or just to meet other single Muslim mothers.  There are organisations for revert sisters, people wanting to know about Islam, dawah giving charities for Muslims, even organisations for people suffering from drug abuse but ironically nothing for sisters born into a Muslim household who are single mothers.  Society just assumes that if you are a single Muslim mother that your family automatically assume their responsibility and help out; that you have a baby-sitter for when you are forced into work and that you live at home with your parents and that your father assumes your financial burden as he is meant to in Islam.  This is not always the case, some women are not allowed to live back at home with their parents, they are told to lie in the bed they made because they could have stayed with their husband’s even if it meant tolerating domestic violence and having their mental health suffer.  These women are not just defined by their role as mothers; they are human beings too and people tend to forget this.

Being a single Muslim mother is so different to being a non-Muslim single mother, the latter will do anything to make sure their child fits in as they do not want their child to be singled out any further; a Muslim mother has to remain within her boundaries set by Allah at all times.  There is no united front from a husband and therefore no ‘good cop, bad cop’; there is only her.  Children may rebel against this and then a mother has to be both firm like a father but soft and loving like a mother; it must get confusing for a child, they may wonder why their mother is all of a sudden behaving like ‘daddy’ too.  It is a father’s role to protect his family but now a mother has to adopt that role and try and provide physical safety and security; she cannot show fear in front of her children.  In Islam a woman should not be out after dark for the sake of her own safety, but this now, cannot be helped if children need picking up from madrasah or other activities.  A Muslim woman is not allowed to be alone with a non-mahram man as is clearly stated in the hadeeth narrated by al-Bukhaari (1729) and Muslim (2391) from Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “No woman should travel except with a mahram, and no man should enter upon her unless a mahram of hers is present.”  If her landlord is a man and wants to come round, or a builder or plumber etc. she has to let him in; if she has no support she won’t have a brother to be there with her.  Women are not allowed to travel alone which means no holidays for the family, the kuffar do not adopt this rule.  In school, a single Muslim mother has no husband to defend her to the head teacher when she exercises her right to have her child taken out of any religious activities like Christmas assemblies and parties etc. in the West.  Muslims suffer a lot in the West and single Muslim mothers who are known to have no support can be seen as easy targets. They may have no walli to help them find a new husband and sadly not all masjid’s are dedicated to helping find spouses for women; besides which, single Muslim mothers are seen too often as ‘damaged goods’.  A vulnerable woman attempting to find her own husband therefore may be preyed upon by evil men or and may not be above the whisperings of shaytaan.  Whilst there are a lot of good brothers out there willing to accept the responsibility of a ready-made family, a lot of them honestly admit that their mothers would not be happy with this because as one brother put it “which mother would want her son to marry a divorcee when he could marry a virgin and have his own children with her?”

We have role models from Islamic history of single mothers (or mothers who raised their children alone) whose children went on to become great men and prophets; Hajar, the mother of Prophet Ismail (pbuh), Maryam, the mother of Prophet Isa (pbuh), and Amina, the mother of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), all raised their sons alone.  Also, the mothers of Imam al-Shafi’, Imam Ahmed and Imam Bukhari raised their sons alone, all of whom later became renowned figures that left a major impact on the world.  Many single mothers are lonely and in need of support; it is the Ummah’s responsibility to help them, they are still our sisters in Islam, but if everyone shirks away from this responsibility then who is left to help these women? They have been left alone to do the job of two people and deserve double the praise. Organisations and charities need to be introduced where help can be administered or maybe a key worker can come round and sit with the mother and offer advice. Support groups are a good start; one such group can be found on Facebook: single Muslim mums – a group dedicated to providing support to mothers globally who feel depressed and isolated and alone.  We need your help in promoting awareness for the struggles that many single Muslim mothers face globally, let’s make a change and be the change we want to see.

By Misbah Akhtar

I am a 31 year old single mother of 2 cheeky monkeys who make me both cry and laugh at the same time!  Parenting is not something I took too easily; I had to find my feet but alhamdulillah I’m getting there now.  I am currently on a mission to promote awareness for single Muslim mothers who have no support, a problem I know all too well.  I love writing: stories, poems, angry letters; anything!  I also love learning about new things, although you’ll probably catch me playing Super Mario Galaxy more than anything else!  I would love to further my knowledge of Islam insha’Allah one day, and for my children to be prominent members of the Islamic community.  The one thing I have learnt more than anything else from having a difficult life is how to fight and stand up for what I believe in; we have to be the change we want to see.  Never stop having faith in Allah swt, you never know when your turn to shine is.  If you are interested in reading more of my work then please follow me at https://singlemuslimmums.wordpress.com/.  Jazakhallahkul khair for your time and please make dua for me and my kids!


The Revival Feature

Single Muslim Mums - 30 April, 2015 - 22:12

http://www.therevival.co.uk/article/truth-about-being-single-muslim-mother

 

The issue of single Muslim mothers is fast becoming a prevalent one; with divorce on the rise it seems only logical that some of these statistics would also apply to Muslim households.

Why then are they not revered as they deserve to be and instead looked down upon and scorned by many communities?  Is it really seen as so contagious that girls from ‘respectable’ families should stay away from these women in case they too, catch it? 

Why are these women made to feel humiliated and isolated from their community as if they chose this path for themselves?  Being left with no option but to walk is not the same as breaking up a perfectly happy marriage for selfish reasons; only Allah knows the whole truth and what is in someone’s heart so why then do people assume?

No-one asks to be a single mother, it’s a relentless job; work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year; no pay; and no training is given.  You cannot quit and are expected to play the role of both mother and father.  The pressure that you face from society is massive. You feel that everyone is waiting for you to make a wrong move which, if you make, will lead to them pouncing on you saying that your child has turned out faulty because of a lack of mothering skills that you possess – which is why you are a single mum.

It is due to this reason that many single mothers feel isolated from their community; they are not encouraged to speak up about their struggles in an attempt to console other women, rather, they are warned to keep quiet and suffer alone so as to not bring shame on their families.  There is no organisation in place for them where they can go to for help or just to meet other single Muslim mothers.

There are organisations for revert sisters, people wanting to know about Islam, da’wah giving charities for Muslims, even organisations for people suffering from drug abuse but ironically nothing for sisters born into a Muslim household who are single mothers.  Society assumes that if you are a single Muslim mother that your family will automatically take the initiative to help out; that you have a baby-sitter for when you are forced into work and that you live at home with your parents and that your father takes over your financial burden.

This is not always the case. Some women are not allowed to return to their parent’s home. They are told to lie in the bed they made because they could have stayed with their husband even if it meant tolerating domestic violence and having their mental health suffer.  These women are not just defined by their role as mothers; they are human beings too and people tend to forget this.

Being a single Muslim mother is so different to being a non-Muslim single mother, the latter will do anything to make sure their child fits in as they do not want their child to be singled out any further; a Muslim mother has to remain within her boundaries set by Allah at all times.

There is no united front from a husband and therefore no ‘good cop, bad cop’; there is only her.  Children may rebel against this and then a mother has to be both firm like a father but soft and loving like a mother; it must get confusing for a child, they may wonder why their mother is all of a sudden behaving like ‘daddy’ too.

It is a father’s role to protect his family but now a mother has to adopt that role and try and provide physical safety and security; she cannot show fear in front of her children.  It’s not safe for women to be out after dark, but this now, cannot be helped if children need picking up from mosque or other activities.

A Muslim woman is not allowed to be alone with a non-mahram (non-related) man as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “No woman should travel except with a mahram, and no man should enter upon her unless a mahram of hers is present.” (Bukhari) Now if her landlord is a man and wants to come round, or a builder or plumber she has to let him in; if she has no support she won’t have a brother to be there with her.

They may have no guardian to help them find a new husband and sadly not all masjid’s are dedicated to helping find spouses for women; besides which, single Muslim mothers are seen too often as ‘damaged goods’.  A vulnerable woman attempting to find her own husband therefore may be preyed upon by evil men or and may not be above the whisperings of Shaytaan.

Whilst there are a lot of good brothers out there willing to accept the responsibility of a ready-made family, a lot of them honestly admit that their mothers would not be happy with this because as one brother put it “which mother would want her son to marry a divorcee when he could marry a virgin and have his own children with her?”

We have role models from Islamic history of single mothers (or mothers who raised their children alone) whose children went on to become great men and prophets; Hajar, the mother of Prophet Ismail (pbuh), Maryam, the mother of Prophet Isa (pbuh), and Amina, the mother of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), who all raised their sons alone.  Also, the mothers of Imam al-Shafi’, Imam Ahmed and Imam Bukhari raised their sons alone, all of whom later became renowned figures that left a major impact on the world.

Many single mothers are lonely and in need of support; it is the Ummah’s responsibility to help them, because they are still our sisters in Islam. But if everyone shirks away from this responsibility then who is left to help these women? They have been left alone to do the job of two people and deserve double the praise.

Organisations and charities need to be introduced where help can be administered or maybe a key worker can come round and sit with the mother and offer advice. Support groups are a good start; one such group can be found on Facebook: single Muslim mums – a group dedicated to providing support to mothers globally who feel depressed, isolated and alone.

We need your help in promoting awareness for the struggles that many single Muslim mothers face globally, let’s make a change and be the change we want to see.

 

 


Muzmatch Feature

Single Muslim Mums - 30 April, 2015 - 21:41
http://www.muzmatch.com/blog/2013/02/muslim-marriage/no-one-talks-about-the-single-muslim-mums-looking-to-remarry/  When Looking for a potential spouse there is much to consider especially if you are a single mum, but one thing I never thought I would have to think about was asking a man if he could think as a father rather than as an individual.  Call me naive, but I automatically assumed that he would have thought about the sacrifices he would have to make as a father and also would have carefully thought things through.  Maybe it’s just in my experience, but it seems men are somewhat clueless as to the degree of responsibility they face if they choose to marry a single mum. When they go to such intimate lengths to do their research on a car, check it out, make sure its worthy enough to own and don’t judge it on appearance alone, I dare say I had hoped they would apply the same formula for marriage; obviously not.  They see someone they like and try to squash them into a Stepford Wife mould; they want their wife to wrap her and her children’s lives around them instead of doing it the other way around.  Is this fair? Is this what we have to expect now as single mums?

I am all for doing things in the correct Islamic manner, but I’ll admit I’m a bit fuzzy on where it is stated that a woman should be happy to shift her children into a situation where they will be worse off just because the guy got a job in Saudi and decided he had no problem living in a studio flat.  Studio flat? with two kids, one a girl who is on the verge of puberty?!  The man still thinks of his own desires and aspirations and not of the needs of the children.  It’s true, money isn’t everything and rizq IS already written, but who willingly puts themselves into a worse financial situation if they can help it in the hope that it will get better?  Perhaps it is my eeman that is low but I would have trouble doing this; call me selfish, but my children have already lost so much and I simply cannot do that to them, is that really a wrong thing to do?  Many brothers mashallah, have this desire to get to the Middle East no matter what, they forget that it isn’t going to be easy.  They forget that you wont necessarily get the same creature comforts guaranteed as you do here, they forget you have to pay for medical care and school fees and that some foods like fish (in Dubai) is super expensive.  I have lived in Dubai, I know a little of what life can be like there if you aren’t one of the rich ones.  Thinking its all cushty just because your job as an ESL teacher provides you with accommodation, is naive.  Those jobs are paid less than others and the accommodation will reflect this; top schools which pay the best, demand the best.  You may be putting in greater hours over there, and if you are used to luxuries here, going without them for less money may not make you as happy as you once were just because you are in Saudi.  If men say that this is NOT  the case then every woman has the right to expect her man to never moan or complain!  The brothers tell you that you have no faith and should leave it up to Allah swt, but couldn’t we say the same back to them? “Let’s stay here and raise our kids to be the best Muslims we can be and leave it up to Allah”??

My point is, I wonder if these men would say the same if it was their own children’s lives they were talking about.  Is it just because the children are ours and not theirs that they don’t really care if the children have to suffer somewhat?  I know many people will say “no way!” but let’s face it, you have to build up the love and many men don’t know if they will be able to love a woman’s children like their own.  This saddens me because I think that subhanallah this is just ANOTHER one of the sacrifices that single mums have to make as divorced/widowed mums.  Many women would refuse a suitor like this but some would consider him, maybe because they are told no-one else will want them so they should take whatever they can get.  The point is though, it would be a tough decision to make and one that would hurt me a lot as a mother; take away from the kids to gain a husband and father for them?

It shouldn’t have to be this way, but it is.  In Islam we are told to look at a person’s character and deen and to marry for that rather than for other things.  It’s true, attraction is important, but whereas us single mums are told that we can’t have pick of the bunch so we should grab any decent guy regardless of looks; men still think that attraction = trying to get the ‘America’s next top model’ hijabi.  Quite a few brothers have told me that they met really pious sisters but turned them down as they weren’t ‘feeling her’ in favour of a gobby hijabi whose eeman and deen is worse with a pretty face.  Come on brothers – do the math!  It’s not fair on anyone to expect this sister to suddenly fix up and change when you say so!  Women are told not to try and change the man they married so why do men??  Encouraging someone to better their character for the sake of Allah swt is one thing, but having a go at her for not being the perfect Muslimah when that didn’t bother you when you married her- is wrong.  We should take people as they stand now, if you can handle them and are happy with their character then so be it, but if your are not happy then move on.  Where is your faith now brothers, don’t you think you will find another pretty sister with all the right characteristics?!!  It’s NOT enough of a justification saying men are weak because sometimes it ends up becoming an excuse!

It’s amazing the amount of brothers I have spoken to that had no clue whatsoever what it meant to be a dad.  Granted, they wont know it all but if you tell a guy you don’t have anyone to leave your children with, why do they hold it against you when you say you can’t dump your kids somewhere to go on a honeymoon?!  Some men think that they can still lead the same lives they had before, they don’t understand that kids don’t get that they wont be loved straight away; if they are craving a father figure they may latch onto the guy immediately.  They wont know that their step-dad needs time; HE needs to be sensitive to this.  You can’t just have couple time to be intimate whenever you want during the day if you have kids, you can’t expect the kids to watch a movie whilst you get jiggy with it and you can’t expect to swan off for dinner alone whenever you want if you have no babysitter!!  It’s funny, as soon as you tell a man these things his expression drops!  They are in it for the reward of marrying a divorcee/widow but they forget that nothing comes easy and we are all tested.  I think some brothers honestly think being a step-dad only means financially providing for the kids and taking them to the Masjid.  What about being a role model and showing kids by example how to behave?  What about giving up those bad habits and watching what you say?  What about playing with them and doing ‘dad stuff’ ?  What about remembering that the kids had a life before you and a routine and that if anything its YOU coming into THEIR family and therefore it’s YOU who somewhat has to adjust?  It’s hard for children to adjust to a new dad especially if they still maintain ties with their old one, how are YOU going to tackle that?  Why should it be the woman’s responsibility to fix everything just because the kids are hers?  You don’t work as a manager for a company and expect the CEO to handle everything do you, or else what’s the point of there being a manager?!

Some men just assume their mothers will watch their step-kids automatically from day 1.  Do these men not understand how delicate the relationship will be in the beginning for everyone –  finding their feet?  Do they not understand that this is one of the biggest fears a single mother has?  Do they really think she will be happy to leave her children with strangers just because they are now her in-laws?  You have to build the trust and love and respect, you can’t demand it straight away.

A few home truths for the brothers out there:

  • Single mums are pickier than single women
  • we may have ‘baggage’ but we also have experience, wisdom and maturity that not many single women will have
  • you may say it’s easier for you to remarry than us but it is ALLAH who decides so watch your arrogance!
  • we understand sacrifice better than any other single woman
  • we may be ‘second-hand’ but if we had to choose between a man and our kids, our kids would ALWAYS come first
  • we may want marriage, but NOT at the expense of making our childrens’ lives worse
  • don’t mention faith to us because it is faith ALONE that has got us as far as we have come!
  • And to all the ignorant brothers who say it is easy to sit at home on the dole and be ‘taken care of’ by the government, don’t forget: we cook, we clean, we take our kids to school/dr’s appointments/activities, we carry heavy shopping ,we pay our bills and manage our finances, we do basic DIY, we parent our kids
Source article: https://singlemuslimmums.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/potential-marriage-partners/


French Soldiers Accused of Sexually Abusing Refugees in the Central African Republic

Loon Watch - 30 April, 2015 - 21:28

French soldiers take position on their tank while they monitor displaced people leaving after a food distribution process was cancelled in Socati stadium, in Bangui

The French have known about these allegations since last year.

By Laura Smith-Park, CNN

Paris (CNN)Hungry, homeless young boys in the Central African Republic were forced by French soldiers to perform sex acts on them in return for food or money, the director of an advocacy group said Thursday, citing a confidential United Nations report on alleged abuses.

Paula Donovan, co-director of Aids Free World, told CNN the report detailed testimonies from six children interviewed last year by staff from the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The children give harrowing accounts of their own experiences and abuses they had witnessed, and they recounted the experiences of friends of theirs, she said.

The allegations concern French soldiers deployed to the Central African Republic as peacekeepers.

The abuses were allegedly committed against a dozen children at a displaced persons’ camp at M’Poko International Airport in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, between December 2013 and June 2014.

The shocking allegations have prompted French President Francois Hollande to promise strong action if they are confirmed.

“If some soldiers behaved badly, I will be merciless,” he said in comments broadcast by CNN’s French affiliate BFMTV.

“If this information is confirmed, there will be exemplary sanctions.”

Donovan said one boy recounted how a soldier who he’d asked for food had asked him to perform oral sex in exchange. When the boy refused, the soldier asked him to find a woman who would, she said.

Another boy told how a soldier took him inside an army base, overriding the objections of a guard, and sexually abused him there.

The report was sent to her in recent days at Aids Free World, Donovan said, but she was not at liberty to say by whom. The advocacy group shared it with the UK’s Guardian newspaper, which reported on the allegations late Wednesday, saying the report had “confidential” stamped on every page.

The document already had been leaked to French authorities last year.

A U.N. staffer has been suspended over the leak, a statement from the spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday.

Read the entire article…

AlJazeera English: Campaigning Against Pakistan’s Deadly Blasphemy Laws

Loon Watch - 30 April, 2015 - 21:13

Pakistan_Blasphemy

It’s good to see Arafat Mazhar‘s efforts to reform blasphemy laws in Pakistan highlighted on a leading news website. I’ve been following his series on the historical, religio-political and juristic dimensions revolving around the issue of blasphemy on the Dawn website.

He’s making a tremendous effort that should be supported especially by those who claim to want to see more justice for the persecuted and discriminated in Pakistan.

Prominent Pakistani activist Sabeen Mahmud, who was assassinated recently, was a supporter of Mazhar’s work, which she described as “fascinating” and “a step in the right direction.”

By Sarah Alvi, AlJazeera English

The recent killing of prominent activist Sabeen Mahmud in Karachi is a chilling reminder of the rapidly shrinking space for open dialogue in Pakistan. So a push for deliberation on the country’s highly contentious blasphemy law may surprise many.

But it is happening.

Arafat Mazhar, a young researcher from the eastern city of Lahore, has launched a campaign to use Islamic legal reasoning to demand an overhaul of the blasphemy law, which can result in a death sentence for those convicted.

Outside the justice system, meanwhile, at least 60 people have been killed in cases related to the blasphemy law since 1990, according to Islamabad-based Center for Research and Security Studies.

Though “angry and hurt” at the news of Mahmud’s assassination, Mazhar told Al Jazeera he feels motivated to continue building a bridge with hard-line conservatives in Pakistan to change the acrimonious law by “bringing them [to] the table rather than antagonising them”.

Before her killing, Mahmud – who also championed for intellectual engagement – said she was “fascinated” by Mazhar’s campaign. “It is an incredible step in the right direction,” she told Al Jazeera several weeks before her assassination.

“It takes generations to change mindsets. But there should at least be a space to reform the law and to have a discussion or debate over it,” she said.

The blasphemy law mandates the death penalty for anyone who defiles the name of the Prophet Muhammad as a divine decree – a concept perpetuated by right-wing hardliners and religious political parties.

“When political forces are the only ones using the religious symbol, it is very easy for them to manipulate the narrative and misguide the masses,” Mazhar said.

His campaign is based on the belief that the inclusion of a divinely ordained and unpardonable death sentence as the only possible punishment for blasphemy in Pakistan’s legal framework is wrong.

Mazhar’s claim is backed by research on the history of Hanafi deliberation on the issue of blasphemy. Hanafi dogma is one of the five major Islamic schools of thought, and is widely followed by Muslims in Pakistan.

Now, by using classical Islamic reasoning to interpret the law, Mazhar is championing for change.

Read the entire article…

Single Muslim Mums Featured In Sisters Magazine

Single Muslim Mums - 30 April, 2015 - 20:47

http://www.sisters-magazine.com/index.php?route=articles/articles&articles_id=219

 

Single_mum

 

 

 

 

 

Single Muslim Mums

Marital breakdown is acknowledged to be one of life’s most stressful experiences. As well as huge personal turmoil, the failure of a marriage may bring with it financial burdens or the upheaval of a move to a new home. Also, in cases involving children, there are the traumatic issues of custody and court proceedings. Divorcees may also have to consider the prospect of raising their children alone, a situation that few will have envisaged for themselves. Promotion: Readers of this article are entitled to a free full copy of the magazine today. Click here to download. 

 

At this very difficult and emotional time, as with many life-changing experiences, a valid support system is essential. But it would appear that there is a relative lack of empathy for single Muslim mothers amongst many within the Muslim community.

When Misbah Akhtar became a single parent, she found that having gone through the very painful processes of separation and divorce, she then had to endure the stigma inflicted upon her by those who turned away, instead of offering support. Faced with the daunting prospect of raising her children alone, she realised that ‘there were no support networks or organisations in place to help Muslim women who were left feeling isolated and dejected, and that there must be other women out there, like her, who were also struggling and who would benefit from having a support group’. Misbah started writing a blog and also set up ‘Single Muslim Mums’, an internet forum where other single Muslim mums could share their worries, offer tips and advice and help alleviate loneliness. Whilst support groups are available for single parents, Misbah thinks that ‘Single Muslim mums are not encouraged to come forward to speak about their feelings and women are being made to feel ashamed. They are not always speaking up, and some say they don’t want to be seen as complaining, but it’s not about that; it’s about raising awareness, because [these women] do not always know their rights in Islam’.

Promotion: Readers of this article are entitled to a free full copy of the magazine today. Click here to download.  Misbah aims to make her network a registered charity and is working hard towards achieving this goal. She is looking to offer counselling services from professionals who will be able to provide more long-term support. She sees this as being two-tiered and says, ‘the first will be an online option, where sisters can write in with problems which they need advice for and discuss their feelings, and overlapping this will be another online service providing child psychotherapy, which will go into more detail regarding child behaviour and, if applicable, the sister receiving free psychotherapy sessions for her child. The second part of the counselling service, insha Allah, will be a phone service, where sisters can ring up and can be seen more as a ‘crisis’ line for those feeling particularly low. The volunteers will have details for other relevant organisations too, where they can pass sisters onto if this is something we cannot help with. Of course, it’s early days yet, and Allahu ‘aalim, but these are my plans’.

Often, the blind following of ignorant cultural practices totally overlook the reality of true Islamic values based on compassion and kindness towards one another, and this misrepresentation is instead wrongly and dangerously being taken as accurate. Misbah acknowledges that she is speaking from her perspective which is culturally a Pakistani one, and says that, ‘Culture often clashes with religion. This appears to be especially true on the issue of remarriage, where divorced women are often under pressure to marry anyone, because they get told that no-one will look at them now’. In a positive move, she says that the ‘younger generation are finding out more about their rights and particularly second time around, but there are double standards when it comes to divorced men who can [often] marry a woman who has not previously been married’.

I ask Misbah what she would like to see with regards to being able to help other single Muslim mums, and she emphasises the importance of ‘urging people to talk about these issues and to raise awareness, perhaps at the mosque, for example, because particularly for those living alone and who are vulnerable, these women are the mothers of the future ummah, and instead of supporting them, they are being isolated’.

also spoke to Maria, divorced with a child, who says, ‘It hurts me a great deal to think that sometimes I am being defined only by the failure of my marriage. When a person makes a mistake, or fails in something, does it mean that they never get a chance to try and make their life successful again with someone else? I can see that, given a choice, why would a man choose a divorced woman with children, when it would be easier for him to find a woman without children? I had always hoped and truly believed in the sanctity of marriage. I still do, however it has been made fairly clear to me by some Muslim women that I am now somehow tainted and am not worthy of this second chance. I don’t believe in giving up hope for future happiness and yet the little hope I do have is battling the much louder voices of reality inside me’.

The importance of such an online support network cannot be underestimated; loneliness compounded through a ‘blame culture’ can only serve to weaken the self-esteem of already fragile women who, without adequate emotional support, may become vulnerable to depression or anxiety and struggle to cope with the demanding role of motherhood.

There is no air of ‘victim-like’ mentality coming from the voices of these women; this is about an urgent call for recognition that single Muslim mothers need, and are searching for, support from other Muslim women. Viewing the huge response and feedback from her online group within less than six months, the need for connection between single Muslim mums is clear. Negative opinions and attitudes can often apply to divorce regardless of cultural ideas or religious beliefs. It must also be remembered that not all attitudes are going to be similar, however, it is of great concern that the damage felt by divorcees appears to be greatly underestimated, if considered at all. Instead, these women are often being met with prejudice and subsequent exclusion.

Divorce rates amongst Muslims is increasing, resulting in a growing number of single Muslim mothers. The hurt caused by unnecessary stigma and isolation is exacerbated by those who continue to impose their own inaccurate version of Islam and are ignorant and forgetful of the consideration that should be given to those undergoing hardship. Individuals are not necessarily seeking validation through society, but support and acceptance within it. The real irony of this situation is that there are many other women who are in the same position and difficulties. In this respect, they are almost certainly not alone.

Blog for single Muslim mother’s: https://singlemuslimmums.wordpress.com

Khurshid loves writing, particularly articles relating to ethical issues or transforming personal journeys. Her educational background is in Pharmaceutical Sciences and Medicinal Chemistry, and she has previously worked as a Scientist, Broadcast Assistant and Researcher. She has recently started writing flash fiction and is currently studying with the Open University on a creative writing course.

Promotion: Readers of this article are entitled to a free full copy of the magazine today. Click here to download.

Media

Single Muslim Mums - 30 April, 2015 - 20:43

Alhamdulillah Single Muslim Mums, by the permission of Allah swt, has been featured in the media. This has helped to spread awareness and tell others out there that we exist and want to help our single Muslim mother.s. Please click on the links for the full articles/audio in sha Allah. Barakhallahu feekum for your time


How Your Children Can Help Solve Your Problems.

Single Muslim Mums - 30 April, 2015 - 19:12

Depressed, heart-broken, mentally scared these are a few of the many symptoms of a SINGLE MUSLIM MOTHER. Your mind is pre-occupied with the past and the way it’s treated you, so you then look to the future with spite of what you fear may come. Worried about the your rent, tax, personal issues and to top it of with YOUR child. Constantly you hear them wanting this and wanting that and YOU just can’t take it; so you get angry and slowly start to avoid them. Your eyes have become WARM with tears of sadness. BUT you don’t see that really all they want is YOU, and really all YOU need is them. Huh? Yes. You heard me YOU need your children. You’re looking for a way out from all the problems and issues from the past and you direct them to the future but you don’t realise that you’ve forgotten the present.

Let me explain this, a bit more on how YOUR children can help solve your problems, the very thing which you think is making matters worse for you will soon change everything around and turn your WARM eyes to COOL. As Muslims it’s important we always go back to the Qur’an for guidance, as there is no better guidance then that which comes from Allah SWT. Lets look at the story of Asiyah RA the wife of Fir’awn. As you know Fir’awn (May Allah’s curse be upon him) was the most evil of people to walk the earth. He would enslave people, torture them and kill newborn boys every other year. I KNOW! How disgusting, where does a person get the guts to do such things? Well imagine being this persons wife, someone who kills for joy; tortures for joy; and believes that he is the KING of everything. Asiyah RA was living a life of depression where there was no escape for her, because if she did, the King (Fir’awn) would find her easily as it was his kingdom and could get her killed. So she at this moment is in total darkness and her eyes are WARM.

Side note – the Arabs would say when someone is shedding tears of sadness their eyes are WARM, but if they are shedding tears of JOY then their eyes are COOL. To illustrate, the Arabs when in the desert would have to cover their face in case of sand storms however the only think which they couldn’t was the eyes. So their eyes would suffer with pain, but as soon as they would find shelter their eyes would be relieved from the pain and would now be cool with tears of joy.

So Allah SWT uses this phrase Coolness of the Eyes in the Qur’an for Asiyah RA whose eyes right now are warm. One day when Asiyah is by the river she finds a basket in the river with a baby inside of it. This baby was non other than Musa AS. Asiyah RA picks up the baby and says to Fir’awn: “He will be the coolness of my eyes….”! This is amazing! What Allah SWT is trying to teach our Muslim mothers is that no matter how many problems or issues you have, the sight of your child is enough to get rid of all of that! And this is true, we see it happen so many times. Imagine when you’re at Tesco’s or Asda and at first your child is with you, a minute later you check and your child goes missing. At this point your eyes are warm with sadness, mothers would start jumping,  going CRAZY until….they finally land eyes on their child from a distance and everything becomes calm and she sheds tears of happiness. Why? Because her eyes have become COOL.

Wallahi Sisters, if you’re facing problems focus more on your children in order to look past them. They are the ones with permission of Allah, who will erase all your problems and bring optimism and happiness into your life. This is a gift from Allah so cherish it. Give attention to your children because if you abondon them when they most need you, they may abondon you when you need them most. You know they say “History repeats” well we know this from the Qur’an to be true. Exactly how Ibraheem AS treated his father with respect, Ismaeel AS the son of Ibraheem treated his father back with respect!

Anything good that I have said is from Allah and anything wrong I have said is from me and Shaytaan.

Br Saad Ibn Mansur

Qur’anic Childology


A Guide To Disciplining When Depressed

Single Muslim Mums - 30 April, 2015 - 19:03

You don’t feel like doing anything around the house. You don’t want to cook breakfast, lunch or dinner. All you feel like doing is staying in bed all day. You’re depressed!

Your kids are running though the house like chimpanzees. They sense your change in mood. They’re less responsive to your requests because they know they have a good chance of getting away with not responding. How do you discipline your kids when you’re feeling down in the dumps?

First of all, you have to help yourself before you can help your kids. It’s hard to accept at the time, but try remembering you won’t feel like this forever. What you’re feeling is a phase that will pass.  Allah says in Quran: “Verily, with hardship there is relief.” (Qur’an 94:6) And Allah  never fails in His promise. In the mean time, allow yourself permission to do less in your home. The house won’t disintegrate if the dishes aren’t washed, carpet isn’t vacuumed, or 3-course-meal isn’t served for dinner. Why not purchase packages of paper plates, cups and bowls and plastic spoons and forks. It works great as an occasional preventive for a dirty kitchen.

Use this down time as an opportunity to get closer to Allah. You already feel sluggish. Let this be a chance to slow down in your prayers and concentrate more on what you’re saying. Read more Quran and hadith. Listen to inspirational lectures on your computer while you’re lying around. Praise Allah through dhikr. Make supplication for His help. Doing these things will help you feel better and make you a stronger Muslim, insha’Allah.

Say the du’as the Prophet (saw) suggested saying during times of difficulty. Here is one inspiring supplication:

 “Oh Allah! I hope for your mercy . Please do not leave me to myself for a moment. Set right my affairs. None deserves to be worshipped but you.”

Second, when correcting your children, think “less is better than more.” Less talking is better than more talking. Less action is better than over reaction. Often, when you’re depressed you have underlying feelings of low self-esteem, resentment, anger or insecurities. When you’re feeling inadequate, you tend to project these negative emotions onto those around you. These feelings can manifest themselves through hostile speech, hurtful remarks and lashing out physically. You want to avoid doing or saying things to your kids that you might regret later.

Avoid using harsh and abusive discipline methods when you are depressed. Instead, use respectful discipline techniques. One such method you can use when you want your kids to stop inappropriate behaviour is the “1-2-3 . . . Can’t Catch Me” technique.  Tell them you’ll count to 3, and if they don’t stop the behaviour they’ll have time-out on the computer or have to go to bed a few minutes earlier or some other penalty you deem fit.  Another effective technique is using praise as reinforcement, although it’s difficult to use when you’re depressed and feeling inadequate yourself. Commending desirable behaviour works wonders if you are up to it. When you see your kids getting along, tell them you’re pleased they’re not squabbling with one another.

Another thing you can do is simply be frank with your kids about what you’re experiencing. Tell them how you’re feeling. “I’m not feeling good today. I want to rest in my room by myself for a while.”  Kids can appreciate such candour. This can be helpful in two ways. First, it might contribute to your children making an extra effort to cooperate more so Mommy will feel better. The second is that it stamps a memory in their mind as to how they should behave when feeling blue–you don’t have to mistreat others when you’re feeling bad yourself.

Speak with your family doctor and visit helpful sites online to find more solutions on how to deal with depression. Grandma Jeddah is not a physician; however she strongly suggests you seriously consider the following information if you are prescribed medication for treating your depression. The following warning accompanies some depression drugs:

Antidepressants may increase suicidal thoughts or behaviours in some children, teenagers, and young adults, especially within the first few months of treatment or when the dose is changed. Depression and other serious mental illnesses are themselves associated with an increase in the risk of suicide. Patients on antidepressants and their families or caregivers should watch for new or worsening depression symptoms, unusual changes in behaviour, or thoughts of suicide. Such symptoms should be reported to the patient’s healthcare professional right away, especially if they are severe or occur suddenly.

With that warning out of the way keep in mind the following: Allah says in Quran “Or do you think that you will enter Paradise while such [trial] has not yet come to you as came to those who passed on before you? They were touched by poverty and hardship and were shaken until [even their] messenger and those who believed with him said, ‘When is the help of Allah?’ Unquestionably, the help of Allah is near.” (Qur’an, 2:214)

This is such a critical ayat to remember when you are feeling down and low. Bear in mind that the uncomfortable feelings you are having are a means of purifying you and bringing you closer to Allah. They are not emotions that you have to instantly get rid of or cover up. When you are feeling dejected, that’s a time to retreat to your Lord. Ask Him for strength and help. Ask Him to give you sabr (peace) and sakina (tranquillity). Ask Him to relieve you of your difficulty.

In today’s society we have become accustomed to quick fixes for our discomfort–Tylenol for headaches, antacids for overeating, cosmetic surgery for unwanted appearance, etc.  What we often fail to realize is that sometimes these “discomforts” are signs of weightier problems we need to contend with.

For instance, perhaps the headache is due to the intake of too much caffeine or not enough intake of water. Maybe the upset stomach is telling us we need to stop eating particular foods or certain amounts. Perhaps the excessive concern of one’s appearance is indicative of misplaced priorities.

Similarly, maybe the discomfort you are feeling with your depression is a sign for you to get closer to your Lord, rather than an opportunity for you to cover up your hurt and pain. There is benefit in experiencing difficulties.

According to one hadith, the Prophet (saw) said: Know By the One in Whose Hand is my soul (i.e. God), no believer is stricken with fatigue, exhaustion, worry, or grief, but God will forgive him for some of his sins thereby—even a thorn which pricks him.” (Ahmad)

 

Here is another hadith that is reassuring during times of distress:

 

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Messenger (saw) said, “If Allah wants good for someone, He afflicts him with trials.” (Bukhari)

 

When you contemplate the difficulty you’re having in managing your children while coping with hardship, remember that hard times are blessings and opportunities to get closer to Allah, rather than merely periods of frustration. This perspective can help you cope with your difficulty with more forbearance, insha’Allah.

 

Here are other ways of helping yourself cope better: Read Quran, hadith, and Islamic books. Listen to Islamic lectures on the rewards of being patient. Knowing the rewards you will receive for being patient can help make being patient much easier when you are going through a depression.

 

Allah says in Quran: “No one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint, none but persons of the greatest good fortune.” (41:35)

 

Also keep in mind the blessings of not becoming angry when managing your children through a depressed state of mind:

Those who spend (in Allah’s cause) in prosperity and in adversity, who repress their anger, and who pardon men, verily, Allah loves the al-Muhsinun (the good-doers).” (3:133-134)

 

In another hadith, Abu Hurairah related that the Messenger of Allah, (saw) said:

“A strong person is not the person who throws his adversaries to the ground. A strong person is the person who contains himself when he is angry.” (Bukhari)

Also remember the Prophet (saw) has suggested that when one is angry, he should seek refuge in Allah from Shaitan.

The Prophet (saw) said: “I know a phrase which, if he repeated, he could get rid of this angry feeling.” They asked: “What is it, Apostle of Allah?” He replied: “He should say: ‘I seek refuge in Allah from the accursed devil.’” (Abu Daud)

So the next time you’re feeling down and blue and your child refuses to take his bath after you’ve instructed him to do so several times, remember why you are here:

Allah says in Quran, “We did not create the jinn and men except to worship us.”(Qur’an 51:56)

Let this ayat be your guide . . . when disciplining your children through a depression.

 

By Grandma Jeddah

 

Grandma Jeddah is the mother of 11 children and 13 grandchildren. She has taught hundreds of students at an Islamic School in Los Angeles, California for over thirty years.    She is the  author of, Discipline without Disrespecting: Discover the Hidden Secrets of How to Effectively Discipline Your Muslim Child– And Keep Your Peace of Mind While at It.  Subscribe to her free newsletter at:  www.grandmajeddah.com

 


MuslimARC – Open Letter to American Muslim Organizations on Police Brutality, Baltimore and Freddie Gray

altmuslim - 30 April, 2015 - 18:54
(Detroit, Michigan 4/30/2015)  The Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC) has closely watched the tragic events and uprising unfold in Baltimore and stands in solidarity with victims of police brutality in cities across America, as well as with protestors and activists calling for justice. While the expressions of solidarity have rippled across social media, MuslimARC is deeply [Read More...]

Financial inequality: six years after austerity

Islamicate - 30 April, 2015 - 11:24

It’s been six years of austerity since the banking crisis plunged our economy into a deep recession, followed by a painfully limp recovery. It’s been a hard time for our citizenry; and needless to say, toughest for the poorest amongst us.  In the run-up to a bitterly fought election campaign, the Guardian recently reported that Britain’s wealthiest saw their assets rise by 112% since 2009. When austerity measures were being introduced, the coalition government had promised that the poorest would be least affected by cuts to public service spending; we bought into this even though those who rely on public services/welfare system to get by, are amongst Britain’s poorest.

Normal households up and down the country, whether they be working professionals, single parent’s, the heavily disabled, or small business entrepreneur’s; everyone has suffered due to the harsh austerity measures. Even though it has been argued by a leading Nobel prize winning economist that the austerity measures were not necessary and in fact very damaging in the long run, much worse is the case if Britain’s wealthiest have become increasingly prosperous, whilst the poorest remained the same, if not worse. Inequality is seen by many Economists as bad for the overall health of the economy. Economists describe ‘inequality of outcome’ as having undesirable consequences, such that – for example – children from poorer backgrounds are not granted the access to higher quality levels of education, thereby entrapping them in the cycle of unskilled labour.

This is overall bad for society, and if continued unabated, could lead to greater social unrest and other negative side-affects such as increasing mental health and social problems amongst the poor. Simple logic will suffice in concluding that the business class and the capitalists, profit off the working and middle classes from their spending power; this relationship being exponential.

People like Richard Cross – Disraeli’s home secretary – in the 18th Century understood the importance of equality and flow of capital. His government oversaw the creation of transformative social networks. Of these was the education network, the health network, the sewerage network, to name but a few. What is being misunderstood by current parties, is that these things we inherited share a common overarching principle, that of universality. Universal in the sense that these things must be available for all in society to use, and – like in Disraeli’s government – the lion’s share of the capital must come from the rich; all this for the common good. When a society comes together to help one another in such a virtuous way, all sectors of society benefit. The working class are happier, giving way to their higher productivity per capita, which is reaped by the business classes for whom they work; a circular system. It is this circulation of wealth which is of such prime importance to a healthy economy. What comes to mind as Muslims are the verses of the Quran where God details whom war booty should be distributed fairly amongst; kinsfolk, orphans, the needy, the traveller in need. ‘This is so that they do not just circulate among those of you who are rich’[1].

The importance of financial regulation to make [pre-existing] financial systems fairer is demonstrated to us as Muslims in the profundity of God sending a Messenger to the people of Midian, just to admonish them for cheating whilst trading and spreading financial corruption on Earth[2]. As Muslims we are reminded to be people of moral rectitude and fairness wherever possible, and to encourage that amongst the masses, be they Muslims or not. In the same way we must be people who encourage and lobby policy makers in order to make Britain a fairer, healthier and wealthier country.

 

[1] The Quran, chapter 59; verse 7.

[2] The Quran, chapter 11; verses 84-5.

A Dua to Literally Boost Your Energy!

Muslim Matters - 30 April, 2015 - 05:40

As-salaamu alaykum,

I would like to share with you one du'a'a through a story which will cause a positive effect in your life starting from the night you practice it, in shaa Allah.

Fatimah and Ali, her husband, –may Allah be pleased with them- were known to be a hardworking couple. Fatimah kept her house as clean as possible, assisted her husband with his needs and used to feed the animals they owned. Whatever “automatic” machines we have today used to be done “manually” during Fatimah's time such as: washing the dishes, doing laundry…etc.

One day Fatimah, complained to her husband, Ali –may Allah be pleased with them-, about how tiring the house work has been on her. Her hands were getting very rough and she was physically getting really exhausted. Ali, told her: “your father has received prisoners of war, so go to him and request one of them in order to provide us with support.” At that time, it was a known practice that some prisoners of war could be sent to certain homes to serve them.

Upon knowing that, Fatimah went to her father's house, Muhammad -ﷺ-, to explain the situation she was in and to notify him of the dire need of having some extra help at home. When Fatimah arrived to her father -ﷺ-'s house Aisha the wife of the prophet -ﷺ- opened the door and told Fatimah that her father, Muhammad -ﷺ- was not home. Fatimah eventually told Aisha about the purpose of her visit and then she returned back home.

Not too long after that the Prophet -ﷺ- went back home and Aisha told him about Fatimah's visit. The Prophet -ﷺ- upon hearing that, being the great father he is, went right away to the house of Fatimah and Ali. Once he arrived, he sat with Fatimah and Ali and taught them this priceless du'a'a, found in Sahih Bukhari, which every one of us should start practicing every single day.

The Prophet -ﷺ- said to them: “ألا أدُلُكُمَا على خيرٍ ممَّا سأَلْتُمَا ؟” shall I not guide you and direct you to something better than what you have asked for?

  • “إِذَا أَوَيْتُمَا إِلَى فِرَاشِكُمَا” When you go to bed:
    • “فَسَبِّحَا ثَلاَثًا وَثَلاَثِينَ”  do tasbeeh 33 times (i.e. say Subhana Allah)
    • “وَاحْمَدَا ثَلاَثًا وَثَلاَثِينَ” do hamd 33 times (i.e. say Alhamdo lillah)
    • “وَكَبِّرَا أَرْبَعًا وَثَلاَثِينَ” do takbeer 34 times (i.e. say Allahu akbar)
  • “فَهْوَ خَيْرٌ لَكُمَا مِنْ خَادِمٍ” for that is better for you than having a servant.

Allahu akbar! A prescription prescribed to you from our Beloved Prophet -ﷺ- for an energy boost. I expect energy drink sales to drop after spreading this hadith :)  Say subhana Allah 33 times, Alhamdo lillah 33 times and Allahu akbar 34 times as you go to bed and, as some scholars further explained, you will then have more energy the following day as if you had a servant supporting you or that you wouldn't be as tired or as exhausted while doing your daily work.

Ali –may Allah be pleased with him- said that he never went to bed afterwards without saying this du'a'a even during the toughest days of his life. I ask Allah to assist you in remembering Him and bless what has remained in your life. Do your best to share this du'a'a with your family and friends.

Wassalaamu alaykum,

Your Brother Majed Mahmoud

The post A Dua to Literally Boost Your Energy! appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

French Muslim student banned from school for wearing long black skirt

Loon Watch - 30 April, 2015 - 01:03

The student who had been prevented from going to class because of her long skirt had always removed her veil - banned because it shows religious affiliation – before entering school.

The student who was stopped from going to class because of her long skirt had always removed her veil – banned because it shows religious affiliation – before entering her school. Photograph: Alamy

Secular extremism at work?

The Guardian

A 15-year-old Muslim girl has been banned from class twice for wearing a long black skirt seen as too openly religious for secular France, in a case that has sparked an outcry.

The girl was stopped from going to class earlier this month by the headteacher who reportedly felt the long skirt “conspicuously” showed religious affiliation, which is banned in schools by France’s strict secularity laws.

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