November 7, 2013

Umm Samar on Parenting Through Divorce

Umm Samar is a Norwegian-Palestinian mother of one, currently living in New Jersey, USA. She is a Language Arts teacher and an active member of her local masjid, volunteering her time to graphic design, photography, the Youth Committee, and the Women’s Volleyball team.

At what point in your marriage did you realize that divorce might be a necessary option for you?  Within the first couple of months I was concerned about the future of the marriage and within the first two years, seriously contemplated divorced. But I remained in the marriage for five years.

Before you actually got divorced, what were some of the concerns/fears that you had regarding the possibility of having to be a single Muslim mom?  
My main concern was being independent financially. I was a stay-at-home mom and housewife for five years and going back to work and maintaining a household for my daughter and I was my biggest worry.

When the time came, how did you explain the situation to your daughter and how did she react to/deal with the idea of divorce?
My daughter was very young at the time, only 3 years old, so I did not really discuss much with her other than telling her that both of her parents love her and that for us all to be happy and healthy, living separately was the best thing for us.

What was your transition from married mom to single mom like?
The transition was smoother than expected by the will of Allah, Alhamdulillah. The compromise of not being with my daughter was the most difficult for me. Feeling lonely at the times she would visit her father were difficult.

Though with hardship comes ease. I started using the free time in which my daughter was away from me to focus on reading and learning about my deen. The time I spent alone, though very dark at times, has proven to strengthen my relationship with Allah. This time I have used to do necessary reflection needed for my own spiritual, mental and emotional health Alhamdulillah.

I have full custody however, we have agreed on unlimited visitation which has ended up being weekends. I make all the parenting decisions independently and only seek the guidance of Allah in my decisions. Having strong ties and involvement with my masjid and community has proven to help improve our spiritual and emotional health as a family. My daughter’s father is also very involved in the masjid he attends mashaAllah. This involvement has been beneficial in making up the missed family unit socially.

Unfortunately many Muslims, men and women, face stigma from their communities when people learn that they are divorced. Have you ever faced stigma for being divorced? Or your daughter for being raised in a one-parent household? If so, how did you deal with these experiences?
Honestly, Alhamdulillah we have not experienced these issues.

How has parenting through a divorce affected your relationship with Allah?
The time I spent alone was very dark at times and during this time I have been able to seek a deeper relationship with Allah. Reading and seeking Islamic knowledge has not only improved my relationship with Allah but all of my relationships including my own relationship with myself.

It has brought me self confidence where it lacked, guidance in my affairs, and contentment in my heart knowing I am never alone because everything I experience, Allah is watching me experience it. The hardships and trials I have experienced have painfully taught me to have tawakkul on Allah and to rely on Him with all my matters when I previously suffered through anxiety. 

When parenting times get tough, from where do you seek help and inspiration?
Quran! I read about the trials of the Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, and know that with every situation there is a solution within the Quran. I read the stories of other Prophets and the companions of the Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam.

I seek inspiration from their suffering and there lies my answers. Examples I often reflect on are the stories of Musa, alayhi salaam, Yusuf, alayhi salaam, Omar ibn al Khattab, radiAllahu anhu, and Asiya, radiAllahu anha.

I look at those around me whose suffering is greater than my own. I make dua and seek knowledge of my deen. I find my greatest source of confidence comes from worshipping Allah and seeking knowledge. I look for inspiration in all things, like Allah’s creation and I reflect. During hardships, I reflect.
I make istighfar (asking forgiveness from Allah).

What advice do you have for other Muslim moms who may be going through a divorce?
My best advice for anything is to seek help through patience, prayer and gratitude. I try to live by the philosophy to, “show forgiveness, speak for justice and avoid the ignorant (Quran, 7:199).”

Forgive others, also for yourself, so you release the pain they caused and so Allah can forgive you as you have forgiven others. Speak for justice which is an amana (a trust) not only for others but also for yourself. Avoid the ignorant and do not become one of them.

Make sincere dua and constantly renew your intentions for the sake of Allah. Be in a constant state of making istighfar. Heal yourself by doing deep reflection of your own heart and experiences. Have faith in Allah’s qadr. Know that whatever Allah has for you is better than what you can ask for yourself. Know that His mercy is greater than your own mother’s mercy for you or your mercy for your own children. Know that if Allah took something away from you that He will replace it with something better. Make dua for others. Learn about your deen and know the rewards for different acts of worship.

Know that if you show gratitude Allah will increase you where you need to be increased. Know the names and attributes of Allah and call on Him by them in the things you ask Him for.  Know that if you take a step towards Allah, He will take 10 steps towards you; if you walk to Him, He will run to you. 

No comments:

Post a Comment