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Hardships & Struggles (Counseling Live Session)

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

Thank you for participating in the counseling session with your questions!

Due to the counselor’s limited capacity of answering questions, here are the 4 questions that our counselor has provided an answer for. We apologize for not responding all the other questions.

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If you have not received an answer below at this time, please submit your question to one of our upcoming Live Sessions. Thank you for your understanding.

Question 1. Hard Times

My husband has been doing a well-paid job. Healthy salary, good career and was good at his job. We had least financial worries. Recently, due to some unfortunate circumstances, he was dismissed. My husband made some mistakes, although not related to his work but his personal finances. Sadly employer became aware and decided to dismiss him. My husband is depressed as it had nothing to do with his job but he surely didn’t pay attention and think carefully of the CONSEQUENCES. Due to this, his future work prospect is very low as there is a marker on his name now which will prevent him to get a professional job. He can’t stop blaming himself and with loss of income and unemployed, he doesn’t seem to get over this. I’m not working and he has always been working and he works hard but he seems to can’t get over this. He is down, depressed, envy of others. Good thing is that at the same time he prays and tries to have faith in Allah, but as he did a mistake, he feels punished and feels he brough this upon himself. I can’t see him sad like that. He is well educated and not being able to find a career he deserves, he will only get more depressed. He feels as he brought this upon himself , he can’t forgive himself. My family is being impacted by this.

Answer:

Salam alaikom wa rahmatullah sister,

I am sorry to hear that your husband is having hard times. According to your letter, he was dismissed because he made some mistakes related to his personal finances. As a result, he can not get a professional job anymore, despite his education and prior career. This makes him feel depressed, and he thinks he brought this upon himself. And he is struggling to forgive himself.

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I understand that you, his wife, are worried about him and trying to provide support and care, masallah. I am sure that your support means a lot to him. In times of crisis, social support, especially by loved ones, is a very important element of recovery.

However, this is primarily your husband’s issue. He has to come to terms with this situation. He should forgive himself. How?

By accepting that he was tested, he made a mistake, and this naturally had some consequences.

He needs to shift focus from the past and concentrate on what he has learnt from this situation, and then move on. This could happen by repenting to Allah and asking sincerely for forgiveness from Him, the All-Forgiving:

„Do not lose hope in Allah’s mercy, for Allah certainly forgives all sins. He is indeed the All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Quran 39:53)

He cannot change the past or what has already occurred. And no one is perfect; we all make mistakes.

But by sincere repentance and by letting go of the guilt, he will be able to start a new life in sha Allah. This might necessitate the understanding of his mistake on a deeper level and a firm decision that he will turn away from these types of activities as his prosperity and sustenance indeed depend only on Allah.

My sister, everything happens with a reason. Even tests and trials:

“No calamity ˹or blessing˺ occurs on earth or in yourselves without being ˹written˺ in a Record before We bring it into being. This is certainly easy for Allah.” (Quran 57:22).

And here is the solution:

“No calamity befalls ˹anyone˺ except by Allah’s Will. And whoever has faith in Allah, He will ˹rightly˺ guide their hearts ˹through adversity˺. And Allah has ˹perfect˺ knowledge of all things.” (Quran 64:11)

Those who have faith in Allah, their hearts will be guided through adversity. So, these strikes have a purpose on a deeper, spiritual level: to strengthen our faith in Allah, the One.

You write that your husband understands his responsibility in this matter. That he may have possibly committed something “unlawful” according to worldly standards. This is a good thing, alhamdulillah. But he could connect this event to the divine standards as well, to see in which area he distanced himself from the true guidance of Allah.

Healing with the Names of Allah

You can support him by helping him gain more strength in his faith in Allah. Reflect on Allah’s names and attributes together to better understand His power. For example, he is The Witholder, Al-Qhabid. The One, who can restrict you from whatever He wishes. And Al-Basit, the extender, who grants you help and reaches out:

“Allah extends provision for whom He wills and restricts [it]. And they rejoice in the worldly life, while the worldly life is not, compared to the Hereafter, except [brief] enjoyment.” (Qur’an 13:26)

Check out this site, for example. Ponder upon these names, and use them to expand your faith in Him, that actually covers all area of human affairs. If you do it as an activity together, you can discuss the meaning of these names and bring examples.

What Else Can You Do to Support Him?

Try to be kind and understanding and keep up with a positive, optimistic view of the future. It is OK to feel sad and remorse for a mistake, as well as take responsibility for wrong actions. It is completely normal and is part of the recovery process.

At the same time, there is no need to be afraid of the future. Try to help him adjust to the situation and encourage him to use this situation as an opportunity for academic or professional growth. He might need to change course and go for opportunities that are more in line with Islamic standards.

He might need to change direction in his career path or acquire a new mindset before starting it again.

Taking responsibility for his actions and his mistakes is commendable. But this punishment is not necessarily definite. With a more positive mindset and faith in Allah’s plan and the temporary nature of this crisis, he can move forward.

“So, surely with hardship comes ease. Surely with ˹that˺ hardship comes ˹more˺ ease.” (Quran 94:5-6)

Encourage him to focus on doing good deeds: “Verily, the good deeds remove the evil deeds (small sins) That is a reminder for the mindful.’” Sahih al-Bukhari 4687

This is also demonstrated from a psychological perspective. According to this article from the American Psychological Association, engaging in prosocial behavior has to do with better mental health and wellbeing.

If he is reluctant, accompany him and start doing good together or in a family until he starts gaining back his motivation.

The Power of Love

Show him your love and acceptance despite of all that has happened. Try to express that you are next to him, whatever happens, and this mistake does not affect your love for him. This is also something that will boost his confidence and give him the courage to stand up and start again.

Counseling

If these steps do not make enough improvement, he can consider one-on-one counseling. If this situation triggered unhealed past traumas, he might need an ongoing support to get over this matter.

I wish you and him ease,

May Allah help you

Question 2. Hardships struggles

Assalaamu’alaikum Brother / Sister,

I’ve been facing too much hardships and I’ve been struggling to get a job. Kindly help. What should I do to support my family of 3 children. Only my wife is working as a teacher. Thanks

Answer:

Salam alaikom dear brother,

Thank you for writing in to the live session. You write that you are struggling to get a job. You would like to know what to do to support your family with 3 children. Your wife is working as a teacher.

I am sorry for your situation, brother. I know that it is very frustrating when you feel that you cannot fulfill your duties and work to provide for your family.

You do not detail your situation, so I can only give you some brief and very general tips that might be beneficial insha Allah.

Identify the Obstacles

First, it would be important to know what the obstacles are that prevent you from getting a job. What is the reason why you are not finding anything? Is it related to your educational background, your location, language barriers, or lack of professional experience?

It would be necessary to identify these barriers. Analyzing the root cause of the problem would help you to seek alternatives.

Match Your Expectations with Your Possibilities

Also, it would be good to know your expectations and your realistic possibilities right now. Are they in line with each other? In other words, are your expectations about your capabilities and possibilities realistic?

Furthermore, are there opportunities around you? If there is nothing around, where is the closest place where you could find something? Could you commute there or would you need to change locations? Are you ready to do that?

External or Internal Causes

While answering these questions, you might be able to distinguish two main paths. The root of the problem might be external, related to certain circumstances that are out of your control. For example, you live in a small village and there are no job opportunities around. In this case, you need to ponder changing your external circumstances: a possible move to a bigger city, checking commuting options, etc.

The other possibility is that you do not get a job due to some internal factors, like you lack certain skills or experience. In this case, you would need to look around and see how to develop professionally. Then you have to take action and look around at what and how you can learn to be more prepared to get a job.

I do not know where you live but, in many countries, there are free courses financed by the local authorities where you can acquire new skills and qualifications. There are language schools as well. I would check with the local employment office and look around for your possibilities. 

If you are hesitating and thinking that you are too old to study and you need to work instead, consider that we are meant to grow until the end of our lives. In Islam, we are encouraged to seek beneficial knowledge and expand our understanding. Check out this, this and this article from our site.

It is never too late to learn something new. It is good to know your limitations and capabilities, but with a realistic and positive mindset, you can achieve more.

If you are more practical, for example, go for a qualification with more practical classes and less theory. It is up to you. 

I recommend you take part in courses designed for Muslims. Islam is a holistic religion and treats affairs as complex ones, where the spiritual, psychological, or social components are interrelated. Check out this 6-week online masterclass by The Productive Muslim Company.

You can read some Islamic self-help books related to productivity, achieving one’s goals and having blessings in our dealings. Here is a list of the works of Ismail Kamdar, for example.

If you can afford one-on-one career counseling you can try to have some sessions and get reorientation.

Brother, remember the ayat:

“Indeed, Allāh will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” (Quran 13:11)

Try to think about how to change your attitude towards this situation, and be ready for change. Do not let yourself be discouraged by starting something new. I am sure that you can move forward if you change your perspective and have a more positive mindset.

May Allah help you with it.

Question 3. On making tough decisions and dealing with a sense of isolation and social incompetence

Salaam,

I have been raised in a super critical environment. My mother always made me second guess my every thought. Later in life, she has always controlled my mobility, put me through financial abuse with the help of her brother, and body shamed me into isolating myself.

Long story short, I deal with self-worth issues and I can’t make decisions. I’m terrible at making decisions and taking initiatives i fear will cause backlash and verbal abuse from my mother.

My father died and I don’t have siblings.

At this point in life, one crisis after another, i know that i need to move forward. Reclaim my mobility. Find financial independence. Have a better social circle and community. And all ot will take a huge amount of strength. My mother assassinates my character when i try to be my own person. Getting married is also a goal but since she won’t help me because she thinks I’m too ugly to get married, I’ll need to have noble friends, sisters who might be able to help me find a match. But most crucial for me is being my own person. Being able to respect myself. Finding a scholarship or job outside the country is also on my list. I don’t have enough strength for it, but i want to be able to make my decisions. I don’t know how i can be a good spouse or mother one day if i don’t see myself as human because of the way I’ve been treated. I don’t know how to Reclaim my humanity and develop decision making abilities

Answer:

Salam alaikom sister,

Thank you for writing to us. I am sorry to hear your story about your mother, who “assassinates your character” when you want to stand up for your own life and try to make decisions regarding yourself. Also, that you grew up in a super critical environment with a lot of judgment and control.

Indeed, infancy and early experiences are crucial for one’s wellbeing. Controlling, abusive parents and an overly critical environment during childhood have long lasting negative effects that necessitate long-term counseling and constant efforts to heal from unhealthy patterns.

It is clear that what happened and what is happening to you is not OK. Not correct and not acceptable. A family is meant to give you support and love to achieve your goals and start your own life as a confident, healthy individual. And I am sorry that you lost your father and basically had no positive figures in your life who could balance the negative effects of your mother’s behavior. It must have been very difficult to stand up for yourself alone.

Unfortunately, the degrading comments you received, and especially if you received them constantly, while you were not supported by positive reinforcement, can become your inner voice and, can cause mental health issues. First of all, regarding self-confidence, self-esteem, self-love, and assertiveness.

These are all factors that are important in order to become a successful, happy individual. Why?

It does not mean that those with good self-esteem and confidence do not experience hardships, but rather that they are equipped with the right coping skills and the ability to use them at the right time and place.

It is good to acknowledge where your wounds are coming from. But I encourage you, sister, to focus on yourself instead of your mother. Try to see what steps you need to take both inwardly and externally to heal and become independent.

The letter reflects your willingness, and this is, masallah, a very good sign. It means that you are conscious of the harmful influence of your environment and clearly know that this is not OK for you. And it seems that you feel motivated and have decided to change. Take advantage of this energy and start taking steps. 

The good news, my sister, is that these skills are learnable and you can also acquire them. You can learn to be more assertive, more decisive and how to stand up for yourself.

What do you need?

Fear the Right One

Sister, you write that you “are terrible at taking initiatives” as “you fear that it will cause backlash and verbal abuse from your mother.” This reaction is unfortunately common among those who have been abused.

But you have to believe that you are responsible for your own life and decisions and not for the emotional reactions and outbursts of your mother. That is her responsibility, and she is accountable for her responses.

Besides, the only one who is in real control is Allah, the Almighty. There is no need to fear anything other than Him. Strive to fulfill His expectations and live according to His command.

However, if you are being abused and you fear your safety, do not hesitate to seek help and move away from your mother. Even if the first steps seem difficult, take them.

If you are at a safe distance, both physically and emotionally, you will gain power and can start healing your wounds. Here are some helplines you can call: MWN Helpline UK, Nisa Helpline US, 1-Degree US.

Set Boundaries

The fact that you are fearing the reaction of your mother when you are about to make a decision regarding your own life shows the necessity of creating healthy boundaries. Emotionally, intellectually, and, if you can, physically as well.

Physically, I mean considering the possibility of moving away from your mother if the relationship is toxic. Check your current possibilities. Do you have some family members or friends? You can also think about a women’s shelter, a temporary home for abused women, if there is one around you.

The emotional and intellectual distance mean that you are not evaluating yourself in the light of your mother’s comments about you. Do not consider her critics and labels. This is very difficult when someone is still growing up, and her personality is still under formation, as you can easily build in these negative beliefs without questioning them. But if you spend time working on your traits and doing demonstrable good deeds, you will be able to challenge her criticism.

Start Believing in Yourself

You can try to challenge her negative labels anyway. Just pick up one and try to remember situations when you behaved exactly the opposite way.

You can also search for 10–15 traits that are considered strengths. For example, honesty, kindness, generosity, flexibility, forgiveness, patience, etc. Write them down and pick up the ones you already have or would like to acquire.

Then take a sheet and plan for your next week when you actually practice these traits. One trait per day. For example, practice generosity on Monday by sharing some food with your neighbor. Then patience on Tuesday by not responding any negative comments, for example. Then make sure that you complete all of your tasks. You will see that you actually do have many strengths!

Learn more about boosting your self-esteem here and here. You can also check this video about how to build confidence and start fixing your life.

Learn Being Assertive

Assertivity is an important trait both in action and in communication. It means that you can transmit your ideas, feelings, and willingness effectively. Also, that you are able to say no to situations that would make you feel uncomfortable. Here is a sheet where you can find practical exercises as well.

Sister, learn to respect yourself. Your needs and wishes are as important as others’. If you have difficulty communicating your feelings and needs, try to plan what you are going to say.

Try to maintain your emotional stability when you are speaking by not getting emotional. Wait until you calm down before you answer. Remember, you are responsible for your own reaction, not for others’.

Also, learn to say no without feeling guilty. You do not need to please others at the expense of your well-being. And remember that there is always a middle path: you can maintain your kindness and offer your support while refusing to do things you do not want to. For example, “I understand that you asked me to do this or that, but right now I cannot help you with it as I have other plans. But I can help you with that later, when I am back.”

Conclusion

To conclude, keep emotional and intellectual distance by not evaluating yourself in the light of your mother’s comments about you. Learn to be more assertive in your communication, set boundaries and learn to love yourself and believe in your capabilities. Try to move from your toxic environment, implementing small, affordable steps. Take advantage of your willingness to change and start to recover and work on becoming an independent, happy individual. Give yourself time to achieve your goals, but do not give up working towards them.

May Allah bless you. 

Question 4.  Fear and worries

Assalamualaykum, one of the main reasons I got so interested in Islam, is because of how beautifully women were treated. The purpose of the hijab, rights of women as daughters, wives, mothers, all of it was felt so lovely. Where I grew up, all I heard of were unhappy marriages, either of the spouses are unsatisfied somehow (usually the wife), maybe even abused and to know that my religion disapproved of it, made me so relieved. But sometimes I think of situations that are “unpleasant” and I think and study to see that if my religion would let me escape it, that if I had a chance to avoid it or fight it somehow. I always think of the worst case scenarios and study what Islam would let me do if something like this ever happen to me. Alhamdulillah I’ve found answers from reliable sources online  (hopefully true) that made this anxiety go away for a short while. But now I have this scenario that I can’t figure out what to do. I know you’re not a scholar but I think I saw you had a degree in Islamic sciences and you could help me understand too. I have two questions:  a) how can I stop this anxiety thing?

                    b) what would happen if a working wife really had to be somewhere or get something important done as soon as possible but the husband really needs to have intimacy? I’ve read somewhere that sometimes men need urgent sex, so in a scenario like this, is the woman religiously obliged to stop whatever she was doing or wherever she had to go and satisfy the husband?

Thanks so much for your answer!

Answer:

Salam alaikom dear sister,

Thank you for trusting me and sharing your concern.

As I understand, one of the main reasons for your interest in Islam was how Muslim women should be treated according to the teachings. But as you are growing up, you are experiencing unhappy marriages, unsatisfaction, and abuse around you, and this makes you wonder how religion would protect you from these scenarios.

You also say that you are trying to be prepared for the worst-case scenarios that make you anxious. You have two questions. I will try my best to answer them in sha Allah.

Your first question is how to deal with your anxiety that has to do with imagining these “worst-case scenarios” and how to combat them according to Islam once you get older and find yourself in a similar situation.

The second question is regarding one possible scenario that is related to intimacy and the wife’s “obligation” to give immediate satisfaction to her husband.

Getting Prepared for Marriage

First of all, masallah sister, that despite your young age, you are thinking about your future marriage, your duties and rights as a Muslim wife, and you are trying to get prepared and do your best. I think it is something very positive, because it seems to me that you genuinely want to commit yourself to the Islamic teachings about marriage, despite the unpleasant real-life experiences you encounter.

And this is something very important to distinguish in order to avoid future disappointments.

The Islamic marriage system is based on the revelation and guidance of Allah, so it provides a perfect, balanced way of life where both spouses have their duties, their rights and responsibilities, and both of them strive to please Allah and live according to this guidance.

This is basically an ideal, best-possible scenario, a kind of standard we should adhere to in order to have a successful marriage and life.

The Imperfect Reality

But this, unfortunately, does not always come true in real-life settings for multiple reasons. The idea can be perfect, but we humans are not. So, unfortunately, not everybody is equipped with the same high level of God-consciousness and emotional intelligence.

Due to life experiences, past traumas, wrong examples, lack of knowledge, etc., people start marriage with different needs and expectations, and are more or less equipped to deal with marital conflicts and marriage in general.

The result is exactly what you are experiencing around you: unhappy marriages, dissatisfaction, abuse, etc.

There is No Perfect Marriage

You also have to understand that it is impossible to have a marriage without conflicts and to start it fully equipped for all scenarios. It is a lifetime process for most of us where you grow and mature thanks to the time of happiness and hardships you spend together.

Conflict will be part of a relationship and it necessitates ongoing work and effort with a lot of mercy, a willingness to forgive and repent for shortcomings, with good and effective communication about your needs, and the ability to express your love to each other.

The Islamic teachings about the treatment of each other, about rights and possibilities, will work as a shield, as you will have clear guidance on how to deal with certain situations and what standards you need to adhere to in order to overcome disagreements and be successful in your dealings.

Increase Your Knowledge to Be Protected

So, going back to your introduction, it is very important that you get enough knowledge about these rights and responsibilities and the wisdom behind Allah’s commands. If you understand His guidance, it will be easier to protect yourself and stand up for your rights, as well as be aware of your role and responsibilities as a future wife and mother. So, I encourage you to continue to increase your knowledge in order to be a confident Muslimah, in sha Allah.

At the same time, I also know that some of these issues you will only be able to grasp when you actually start practicing them once you get married. The imagined scenarios could seem weird, while in real life and context they make sense.

The Fear of Unknown

That is why I understand your anxiety, as it relates to something you have never experienced before. And our fear of the unknown due to lack of predictability, and the desire to control is a perfectly normal reaction. It is very normal at your age, dear sister. Check this site for some practical tools to combat intolerance of uncertainty.

How can you stop it?

Sister, if you are experiencing intense anxiety, fear, and obsessive thoughts about these future scenarios and your imagined inability to fulfill these future religious obligations, please seek one-on-one counseling, possibly with a Muslim professional.

Most of the time, this anxiety is something normal and, with the right skills and mindset, it is possible to control. How?

Overcome Your Anxiety

I advise you to focus on the present and on the things you can control right now. There is no need to overthink and worry about the future, as only Allah knows what is written for you.

What you can control now regarding this question is to study about the religion and to increase your worship. Try to reduce stress by taking care of yourself: eating well, sleeping well, doing some exercise and meeting good Muslim friends.

When it comes to marriage in the future, try to prioritize the deen and the religious commitment of your future spouse. If both of you fear Allah and are aware of your duties and rights, you will handle your future conflicts easily.

And as a Muslim, trust in Allah, in His Qadr and in His perfect plan for you. Everything is written and will happen for a reason and by the will of Allah. Increase your trust in Him and your belief in His divine wisdom.

The Right to Intimacy

Your second question is related to an imagined scenario based on the command of Allah about the woman’s obligation to fulfill the sexual needs of her husband. I will deal with your question as a counselor, so please check this, this article before.

Sister, I understand that it seems a bit absurd when you imagine scenarios of urgent need and the wife’s religious obligation to respond to them. But I can reassure you that in real life, this is something different. It is a complex issue.

A husband and wife already know each other and normally have affection for each other and a desire for intimacy. They normally create a mutual understanding and consensus about how and when to have intimacy and when and how to respond to each other’s needs.

Differences Regarding Intimacy

Intimacy is a very important issue in marriage. And different needs, as well as possible disagreements about when, where, and how to be intimate with your spouse, can and do cause marital conflict. Just like the lack of affection, the inability to interpret the signs of desire and respond to them the right way.

The Islamic command, in my understanding, tries to warn us of this possible source of conflict, as men in general, due to biological differences, tend to experience their desire for intimacy in a more physical way than women. And the unfulfillment of his basic needs could lead to negative consequences. Check out this article on differences regarding intimacy.

So, you can interpret this as a kind of reminder to keep in mind, as women normally experience their desires and need for intimacy differently. Something to be mindful of and to try your best to fulfill when you are setting up your tasks and priorities as a wife.  And of course, this does not and should not mean being forced against your will, or being abused in your marriage in the name of Islamic duties.

Conclusion

To summarize, I recommend that you broaden your knowledge in order to understand all of the rights and obligations that marriage entails for the spouses. You can also take part in an online Islamic premarital course to get some practical advice. Here are some by Megan Wyatt, That Clay Couple, Seekers Academy

Use the negative examples around you as sources of learning about the nature of conflicts in marriage, but not as examples to follow. Your marriage does not have to be the same as theirs.

When it comes to marriage in the future, try to prioritize the deen and religious commitment of your future spouse.

To avoid anxiety, focus on the present and on the things you can control now, instead of the uncertain and unpredictable future. Increase your faith and trust in Allah and in the divine wisdom behind His will.

Wishing you the best,

Wednesday, Jul. 27, 2022 | 11:00 - 12:00 GMT

Session is over.
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