When things get difficult, what do you do?
I pray. And then I write.
In 2013 I posted a story written by Agnes Slight Turnball in 1888 called When Queen’s Ride By. It is such a beautiful story, I wrote about it my book The Four Traits of a Cherished Muslimah.
In the story, a farmer’s wife, Jenny Musgrave is inspired by a beautiful woman who stops by her farm one day. The lady, whose name we will never know, teaches her to look after herself and be kind to herself, especially during times of crisis. Here’s an excerpt from The Four Traits:
The lady relates a story of a queen who, whenever the country was approaching war, would put on her showiest dress and ride through the town on her horse to encourage the spirits of her people.
‘Whenever a big crisis comes in my husband’s business—and we’ve had several—or when he’s discouraged, I put on my prettiest dress and get the best dinner I know how or give a party! And somehow it seems to work. That’s the woman’s part, you know. To play the queen—’
When she leaves, Jenny looks around at her dirty, unkempt kitchen and decides, on a whim, to try out the lady’s advice.
‘She started up, half-terrified at her own resolve. ‘I’m goin’ to try it now. Mebbe I’m crazy, but I’m goin’ to do it anyhow!’
She washes her hair, changes her clothes and scrubs the kitchen until it is clean. She lays a tablecloth on the table and prepares a lovely dinner, including dessert.
And that’s what I do. When times get tough, I make sure:
- My sofas are clear, a candle is lit, the twinkle lights are on
- The dining table is clear and clean, the chairs are tucked in, and the surrounds are clean (because otherwise, the boys take their meals to their bedrooms)
- I am looked after! I make sure that I am showered, with clothes that smell nice and I am perfumed, that my hair is not frizzy and tamed with oil, (otherwise I look like Frazzled Franny) and that I am wearing my EYELINER! lol. When all else fails, put on some eyeliner.
- There is tasty food cooked, even if its simple to cook (by the way I have a list of K-I-S-S food – keep it simple, stupid!) (it’s the only list I’ve used for the last few years!)
- And then, armed with twinkle lights, candles, fluffed up cushions (done the Downton Abbey way, thrown on the floor and beaten), a sofa, dining table, a good meal, perfume and eyeliner, I am ready to take on the world.
I’ve had a bad chesty cough. How am I managing?
I don’t know if I have the Corona bug. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. Allah knows. But here’s what I did when my cough got bad:
I asked for help.
I gather my flock around, those who I am shepherdess of, and tell them I’m sick. MashaAllah, my youngest always gets me my paracetamol and hot water bottle. My eldest always goes to the shops for me – and I tell him to get be some whole chickens with the skin on, so that I can make myself some soup. My middle son does my chores for me.
I know I am the woman, and I am the womb, and I am the centre and source of mercy for my family, and so I make sure that I’m looked after. I sleep, and rest, I ask for coffee, I even ask for help in cleaning my bedroom.
It didn’t use to be like this, you know? I used to do everything myself, and fume. Complain that I was a slave, a servant, a maid. Here’s the funny thing – now I coach women and tell them that they are slaves!
Slaves of Allah!
How am I looking after myself?
I’m doing all that I can to help my cough get better. I’m having chicken soup, vitamin C, honey and turmeric (which is a natural antibiotic), I rub eucalyptus on my chest and around my ears, diffuse doTERRA On Guard essential oil blend… I contact my doTERRA expert Dawn-Sabeeha regularly about what to do and how to do it.
You see, when I look after myself, I can look after others. If I am well, only then can I look after anyone else? Only when I am rested can I be a leader.
And I am looking after my soul.
Firstly, I do everything purposefully and prayerfully. I intend everything as worship. Each smile I give, each key I press, each brushstroke on my hair in the morning. Each moment of fatigue, each text message reply to a lady in need, each phonecall I take from Jawad when he’s at the shops and can’t find any tortilla wraps. I pray to Allah and ask Him, and leave everything with Him. Each time I am anxious, I make a prayer. Each time I need help, I ask Him first. And then I send salawat upon the Messenger of Allah ﷺ . I ask Allah to send blessings upon him so that my needs can be fulfilled.
Ubayy asked: ‘Should I make all of my prayers for you?’
He replied: ‘If you do that, then your problems would be solved and your sins would be forgiven.’
Secondly, I regularly sit in the company of my teachers and take from them. I take their knowledge, their words and their prayers. And their states. And I pray that Allah looks after them and grants them health. How blessed we are, how blessed we are. We are all in our homes yet we are sitting on Facebook, YouTube and Zoom and with one another. What a beautiful Lord we have, The Gentle, The Giver, The Loving, even in His tests He is showering us with blessings.
That’s what one of my teachers said recently; he said Corona is here to teach us lessons, and it would be tragic if she left us and we didn’t even take her lessons.
What Is Corona teaching me?
- To not just think about myself, ask about others.
- To ask about the elderly, never have they seemed as vulnerable as they are now
- To send out messages to all my neighbours and old uncles and aunties and check to see if they are okay or need anything
- To depend on Allah and see what He wants from us next.
- To take each day as it comes
- To do my bit, and lift the spirits and hopes of those around me
- To comfort my daughter and to give her hugs from afar, knowing her heart is very fragile
- To be like Ibn Ata Illah said in one of his aphorisms:
When the forgetful man gets up in the morning,
he reflects on what he is going to do,
whereas the intelligent man sees what God is doing with him.
You see, Corona has come to us as an excellent teacher – making us re-evaluate our lives and priorities, and what a relief, what a relief that there’s not a world-war going on where mankind are bombing each other’s countries right now, but we are in submission to a world-wide pandemic, an unseen virus that Allah has sent, reminiscent of scenes from The Ten Commandments. What lessons are you learning from her?
How am I blogging through all of this?
Writing and helping women is something I love to do with my soul. I spoke to my dear teacher once and told him about my doubts about my skills and work, and he told me if I helped just one woman through my work, it would be sufficient. Another of my teachers told me that after the obligatory acts of worship, teaching others should come next, as teaching others was so vital in these difficult times… and that was before Corona came to visit us!
And so I wake up at 4am, have my levothyroxine and start my day. AlhamduliLlah. And then I go back to sleep at 7:30am and wake up at 9am and re-start my day. I also do my work while my daughter has her daily Quran lesson. After that, apart from any coaching sessions (and I only take one a day), lessons that I attend with my teachers (which are all online now thanks to our guest), and sending out a hope-building reminder on Instagram and Facebook, I try my best to switch off. ( I said I try!)
How am I looking after my family?
I am making sure they are safe, that they don’t go out unnecessarily. I put down sanctions and limits. I encourage self-care and staying indoors.
Do they listen?
Well… certain beloved members may not, but that’s okay, I can still say my piece, and be angry and insist that they not put themselves, others and us in danger. I am my family’s warrior and protector. I am the mother. I am the wife. I have been given an intuitive womb and if I didn’t use it then I would be doing a disservice to the whole of womankind, to mankind, and to the very essence of mercy himself: the Messenger of Allah ﷺ
So come on, Momma Dinos, look after your little dinos. Protect them, look after them. Even whilst coughing. Even whilst crying. Be the merciful woman Allah created you to be.
Umar bin Al-Khattab (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:
Some prisoners were brought to Messenger of Allah ﷺ amongst whom there was a woman who was running (searching for her child).
When she saw a child among the captives, she took hold of it, pressed it against her belly and breastfed it.
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Do you think this woman would ever throw her child in fire?” We said, “By Allah, she would never throw the child in fire.”
Thereupon Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Allah is more kind to his slave than this mother is to her child”.
لله أرحم بعباده من هذه الأم بولدها
(Bukhari and Muslim)