Thank you for participating in the session.
Here are the 4 questions our counselor could provide answers for. If you do not find yours below, please submit it to one of the upcoming live sessions or check the answers there.
Thank you for your understanding.
Question 1. PTSD
How to recover from abuse and leave it in the past without reliving it everytime he says or does certain things that triggers these emotions and recollection? Or am I being over sensitive?
Salam alaikom dear sister,
Your question is very brief: how to recover from abuse and leave it in the past without reliving it every time he says and does certain things that trigger you.
Dear sister, I do not think that you are overly sensitive, but you might need to work further on your traumatic experience to be able to manage these triggers.
You do not detail, so I have a bit hard time to understand what kind of abuse you suffered from and that who is the „he” you mention in your letter. Is it your husband, who has nothing to do with your past, or is it maybe your past abuser, a family member, for example?
I do not know whether you have ever tried to treat this trauma with a professional, but if not, I strongly recommend seeking someone who can help you learn how to identify and respond to these triggers and come to peace with what has happened to you in the past.
It can be especially important if this was sexual abuse or if you were exposed to long-term abuse.
Sister, somehow, most of us get triggered by our past negative experiences in present situations and react with those fears and emotions that belong to a past event.
Unfortunately, those who have suffered any type of trauma experience these triggers in a more intense way, and they need deeper work to be able to learn to live with them.
What can you do, using your faith, to lessen these reactions?
Sister, forgiveness is a powerful tool. I do not know what happened or whether you were able to forgive that person for his wrongdoing. But I recommend to try to do that. You can soften your heart by trying to ask Allah to forgive that person for what he did. Know that Allah is Al-Adl, the Most Just, and His justice will govern the destiny of each soul. Everyone will be held accountable for their deeds, good and bad.
Seek the Wisdom Behind
This does not mean that you need to love something that is not right and has caused you pain. At the same time, you can ponder upon what is the wisdom behind all evil that happened to you. For instance, these trials may help you in your spiritual growth. Check this article, this, and this video for more details.
You may join a support group related to your specific trauma. You will see that you are not alone, and supporting each other on the healing journey will give you strength, in sha Allah. You can even volunteer for those who went through a similar situation.
Talk to „Him”
You mention someone, maybe your husband, in your letter. If he has nothing to do with your past trauma, you may talk to him and explain that in certain situations you have a reaction that belongs to your past.
You may react and say things that are not “meant” for him, and you may ask him for his patience and understanding if you hurt him back during these moments. You might ask him to avoid acting in a specific way if that is your trigger.
Learn to Recognize Triggers
When you are confronted with a trigger, you may experience physical and emotional changes in your body, such as a rapid heartbeat, fear, anxiety, sweating, trembling, and so on.
When you notice these symptoms again, remind yourself that this is a normal and automatic reaction of your body that was once exposed to a threat. And that will pass. Also remind yourself that it has to do with a past threat and is not happening at the moment.
If you need to take a break, ask „him” to give you some time until you calm down.
Neutral and Ordinary Things
Sometimes your triggers are ordinary, neutral things or words that, in themselves, are not dangerous and have no negative consequence. But your brain linked them to your traumatic experience. These can be images, smells, words and actions. So, try to remind yourself that just because he says a certain word does not imply that you will suffer from abuse again.
Maintain Your Focus in the Present
When this happens, try to maintain your focus in the present moment and remind yourself where you are, with whom, and what you are doing exactly. Learn more about grounding techniques that help you relieve your distress after a trigger.
Help of a Professional
Finally, once again, I kindly recommend that you get a couple of counseling sessions where you can elaborate more on what happened to you and get more specific support for your exact needs.
May Allah help you with it.
Question 2. Hopelessness
My father always says that I should never forget that Allah loves me. I believe that, kind-of, but I cannot truly believe it. I’m not trying to be disrespectful or anything, because who am I to say what Allah does or does not? But I can’t shake this feeling of hopelessness, that I’m too bad, I do too many sins, I’m not good enough and Allah would never ever love or forgive anything I do because I’m such a horrible person.
I struggle with anxiety and I wish I could just feel like I belong, I have purpose and that Allah is out there for me, waiting for me to ask for help so He can help me. I just want to know if I still have a chance.
Salam alaikom sister,
Thank you for reaching out and sharing your concern.
You write that you are struggling with feelings of hopelessness—that you are too bad, with too many sins, and that Allah may not love you. You would like to feel that you belong and that Allah is out there for you when you need help.
Allah Loves You
Sister, I want to reassure you that Allah loves you and is there for you when you turn to Him for help. This is what He says in the Quran, in multiple verses, so we, as believers, should believe that this is true:
“If you ˹sincerely˺ love Allah, then follow me; Allah will love you and forgive your sins. For Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Quran 3:31)
The same thing applies to the forgiveness of our sins:
“But whoever repents after their wrongdoing and mends their ways, Allah will surely turn to them in forgiveness. Indeed, Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Quran 5:39)
If you are sincere in your repentance and have asked Allah for forgiveness, you can let your guilt go and move on.
Dear sister, I am not sure but your feelings may arise for reasons unrelated to your faith or relationship with Allah.
You know, we are born with the fitrah, so we are spiritual by nature, but the environment and the people around us also shape us, and our nature also has a psychological and physical component.
So, when you are feeling unwell, you need to check all levels to find the root of the problem.
And if your negative feelings are coming from another place, you need to address the problem in the right place. Your faith and connection with Allah will certainly help you to restore your well-being, but only if you make sure that you treat the problem at all necessary levels.
Address the Cause
Sister, I recommend you get some form of counseling to see what is causing you to feel this way. There is a wide range of possible issues, from mental health problems like depression to family issues or even emotional changes that occur during the teen years. A professional can help you discover why you are feeling not good enough and how you can feel loved and better about yourself.
So, I kindly ask you to ask for help, maybe with the support of your parents. If needed, you can try family counseling also. Find a local counselor or try to look around in your community to see if there are Muslim specialists there.
You might ask yourself what went through your mind when you noticed these feelings. What happened? What were you doing or thinking about? Where could these thoughts be coming from?
Try to start a journal and note down these thoughts. After some time, try to check your words and see whether you find any patterns. See, whether there are any issues that are repeatedly cause you feeling down. Is there something going on with your family? Friends or school achievement? Do you receive enough love and support from your loved ones?
Analyzing these patterns might help you find the core belief behind these feelings, which would be the first step towards healing.
Feeling the Love of Allah
Feeling the love of Allah gives you hope. Further, you can increase His love by doing good deeds:
„And do good, for Allah certainly loves the good-doers.” (2:195)
Any time you do something wrong, try to counter it with a good deed. You will attain the love of Allah:
“Whosoever intended to perform a good deed, but did not do it, then Allah writes it down with Himself as a complete good deed. And if he intended to perform it and then did perform it, then Allah writes it down with Himself as from ten good deeds up to seven hundred times, up to many times multiplied. And if he intended to perform an evil deed, but did not do it, then Allah writes it down with Himself as a complete good deed. And if he intended it [i.e., the evil deed] and then performed it, then Allah writes it down as one evil deed.” Hadith 37, 40 Hadith an-Nawawi
At the end of the day, you can note down the things you did for the sake of Allah and others. You will see that there will be actions that are worthy of reward.
You can engage in this practice by committing to performing a certain number of good deeds per day. Make sure you accomplish them. They can be small things as well; for example, smiling is sunnah and charity, as is greeting someone with kindness.
You will see that there are many things you do for which you deserve the love and mercy of Allah.
Connect Allah Through Your Heart
Focus on your heart, the center of your spirituality, and try to connect through it to Allah. The more you strive for Allah with your good deeds and worship, the softer your heart will be, in sha Allah.
Remember Him frequently, as this will also help you find ease and earn the love of Allah:
„Those who honour their trusts and shun evil—surely Allah loves those who are mindful ˹of Him˺.” (Quran 3:76)
Establish this practice as a habit; for example, dedicate 5 minutes after waking up to remembering Allah (swt). Once it becomes a routine, you can add another 5 minutes in the evening, while going to school, etc.
Take care of yourself through activities you like; do exercise and eat healthy to feel better.
May Allah help you feeling better,
Question 3. How to navigate the world as a single muslimah when you’re physically imperfect?
I am single due to some familial restrictions. That is, my family isn’t very social and active in this regard. My mother isn’t interested in finding a match for me because she thinks I’m too ugly and fat to get married.
Something I want to clarify. I live in a bigger body and am genetically fat. I’ve been bodyshamed my whole life and people don’t believe it that I don’t have any unhealthy eating habits or that I’ve tried diets my whole life. As a grown woman, I’ve realized that I don’t want to be at war with my body my whole life. I’ve decided to be gentle and forgiving towards myself and focus on making my lifestyle healthier according to my own needs, instead of forcing my body to fit a size it’s not genetically meant to be. Obviously i might become somewhat smaller in size. But i won’t become the super skinny ideal. But i have started liking myself the way Allah made me and I’m trying to nurture myself without worrying too much about looks.
But that’s my journey. The fact remains that others don’t share it with me. To them I’m ugly and morally corrupt because skinniness equals virtue.
I’m comfortable being celibate and single too.
But I’m pressured to become skinny so i can find a husband. Because men want wives who are tiny. Obviously physical perfection isn’t something we can guarantee as humans. So how do we navigate this world obsessed with beauty while not fitting into a mould? Should i give up on the idea of marriage because I’m not skinny? I can become somewhat smaller but not the size zero ideal. I’ll still have some flesh on my body because that’s my genes. Should I give up on this idea that maybe relationships are about being together with all the ups and downs of our physical realities? It’s very confusing and i think my head’s all messed up. I’m not very picky about looks myself. To me it’s about having common core values like kindness and loyalty as spouses. But obviously the world wants glamour etc. My family also won’t explore matches because they are sure I’ll get rejected.
Salam alaikom wa rahmatullah sister,
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I understand what you are going through.
And while it seems that you are still struggling with “navigating in this world,” alhamdulillah, in your letter I also read very positive and self-accepting comments about yourself.
And I would start with this, as this is so important, masha’Allah.
You say that you do not want to be at war with your body and have started to be gentler and forgiving with yourself. You say that you focus on having a healthy lifestyle and habits according to your needs instead of trying to strive for a body shape to fit into societal expectations.
Sister, masha’Allah, you are on the right track. This is the right approach.
You know, our body is an amanah, a trust from Allah (swt). He created you this way, and there is wisdom and perfection in His ability to create, so we should not question and doubt our physical appearance. So exactly as you say, our primary concern should be taking care of the health of our body.
Yes, there is pressure from society, but the only standard by which we need to measure ourselves is the sight and pleasure of Allah. This will help us accept ourselves as we are and try to be healthy in order to be able to serve him better.
Beauty and Standards
Sister, beauty is a very subjective thing. We are created in diversity, and while no one is perfect, everybody has something beautiful and adorable. And human attraction perfectly fits into this diversity; our likes, tastes, etc. differ. Additionally, personal taste is somehow influenced by cultural norms and expectations, but beyond that, everyone has their own personal beauty standard.
Another thing are the trends and fashion that want to tell us what we should look like, what we need to eat, do, etc. in order to be “happy.” These trends are created purely for the purpose of consumption, commerce, and money generation, and they serve the interests of some, but they are not “real” standards.
So, if you are asking how to navigate in this world obsessed with beauty, I would say that by switching focus. Just simply do not pay attention to these ads, images; they are artificial and distorted manifestations of reality.
It is actually something very important to keep in mind, as this distorted reality can affect your mental health and well-being, leading to issues with self-worth, self-esteem, and even depression for not “being good enough.”
So, if you notice that some content has a negative impact on your self-acceptance, simply unfollow and remove it.
At the same time, I think that feeling accepted by your family members, especially your mother, is indeed something that can be much harder to ignore. This lack of unconditional love can result in your struggle with fighting the beauty standards of society.
Sister, I am very sorry that your parents think that you are ugly and no one will marry you. I am sure that this is not true. It must be hard to deal with this, as you do not deserve this criticism. No one, especially your loved ones, should disrespect you this way, as it is like disrespecting Allah, who created you in this shape.
You say that your mother does not bother with finding you a spouse.
Sister, I am not sure whether you have talked with your mother about how this makes you feel. I encourage you to talk to her about this. She needs to realize that her words are harmful and not beneficial.
You might involve a mediator (counselor, imam, other family member) who helps you to find healthier way to treat each other in the family.
Your parents cannot prevent you from marrying as long as your goals and attitude in the marriage search are Islamic and your future spouse meets the conditions of an Islamic marriage.
Actually, it is her (your parents’) duty to support you in finding a spouse, but if she is not there for you, you might find someone else who helps you with the search.
If you would like to get married, do not give up; rather, look for alternatives.
Is there anyone in the community you can turn to? If there is a trustworthy member there, you might share your willingness with him/her and ask for his/her help with the marriage search.
Or try to mention your willingness to some friends and people in the community. You do not need to be loud about it; when it is appropriate, share your plans with others.
Also, there are options online. Nowadays there are Islamic marriage search sites, and you can look around there also.
Take Care of Your Self-Esteem
And one more thing: you say that while you start to like and accept yourself for who you are, others are not sharing your views.
Sister, if anyone is trying to hurt your self-love and worth, know that it is not your journey either. It is not about you; it is about them. They probably have their own issues with accepting themselves.
So, please try to distance yourself emotionally from those comments. The most important thing is to love yourself and be loved by Allah. Also, take care of generalizations: just because they do not accept you, I am sure that there are people who would like you as you are and for who you are.
If you think that you need to further strengthen your self-esteem, I recommend self-help books and courses on the topic. Take some counseling sessions where you can boost your self-esteem and self-acceptance. Preferably, find a counselor with an Islamic approach.
This would also help you stand up for your needs regarding your future and marriage. I am sure that, with the help of Allah, you will gain enough strength to articulate your willingness to find a partner, and, in sha Allah, your attempt will be successful.
May Allah help you with it,
Quesition 4. Where do I seek refuge when my father and only brother are attacking my self-worth?
My father and only elder brother are attacking are self-worth for I remain unemployed. I did and continous do my effort to find job and did interviews, but the rizk are not there. Instead of providing support and understanding as my Wali, they are undermining my worth instead and that really not really frustrating and upsetting me, but killing me inside.
They are alhamdulillah successful, but demand me to work as a payoff to what my dad invested in me.
I no longer find safe emotionally and mentally with them. It’s like I have enemies in my closest circle. How do I get out from this?
Salam alaikom dear sister,
Thank you for turning to us. As I understand it, your father and elder brother are attacking your self-worth because you do not succeed in your job interviews. Instead of supporting you, they undermine your worth, which frustrates and upsets you.
Sister, your feelings are completely understandable. They are your closest family members, and you rightly expect support and protection from them. Your father is meant to guide you and help you with your struggles.
What Is the Reason?
Reading your letter, I was wondering what could be behind their attitude towards you. Was this how they always behaved? Do you generally lack support from them, or is this related to your job search?
You do not detail what kind of job you are looking for, so I am not sure whether it has to do with the nature of the job or not.
But if they are generally supportive, they might have some issue with you looking for a job or a certain type of job. They may be concerned for your safety or disagree with your goals. Could this be a reason for their behavior?
Your letter does not clarify these answers, but it would be good to explore these details to get closer to a solution.
On the other hand, whether it is to protect you or not, the approach they take is not right, as it does not make you feel better, just the opposite.
Talk to Them
So, I kindly advise you to talk to them and tell them how this makes you feel. Maybe this type of criticism is “motivating” for them, but undermining others is not right and can hurt you and others.
Many times, these words say more about their own self-love and contentment than about you. They need to know that if they really want to help you, they need to change their way to treat you.
What Bothers Them?
You can also try to find out what really bothers them.
You write that your father wants you to repay him for the investment he made in you. Does this mean that he might have some commitment (for example, financial) that he cannot complete until you get a job, so this causes him distress?
You do not detail it, but on the other hand, your parents’ duty is to take care of your upbringing, which includes your right to get educated. Of course, everyone will provide according to their abilities, so ideally, they have set realistic expectations regarding your future and the investment this requires.
I am not sure whether there was a dispute or an agreement about your studies in the past and about paying him back. If yes, try to talk about this also and ask for some time until you start your career. You all need to trust in Allah and His perfect timing and plan for the whole family.
On the other hand, again, it is certainly not the right approach to blame or pressure you, as it can lead to reckless decisions and compromises, and jumping into situations where you find yourself uncomfortable.
What to Do
Sister, I think that your situation would require family counseling or mediation involving your father and your brother. They would need to understand that this hurts you and does not help you achieve your goals.
You would need to talk about your goals and their expectations and find a compromise. They would also need to understand that you are an adult, and while you can count on their guidance, they cannot make decisions for you.
You can have your choices (within the boundaries of Islam) and you are capable to decide what is good for you and for your needs without being pressured or controlled. Also, their guidance should be based on Islamic principles and not solely on personal preferences.
Your Self-Esteem and Worth
Beyond trying to find emotional safety and mental peace with them, you might need to set boundaries to strengthen your self-worth, as you say that you no longer feel emotionally and mentally well.
Your well-being is very important and will affect your life and choices, including your career.
So, I advise you to read on self-worth and esteem and on how to improve them:
- Starting clear and effective communication about your needs. For example: this
- Learning to say no while maintaining kindness. Check this video.
- Your worth not lies in your achievements. It is not measured in the quality of the outcome, but rather in the efforts you make. There is no need to compare yourself to others or their products. You certainly have your own strengths. Read more about this here and here.
- Trust in Allah and in His plan. His wisdom is infinite, and behind some rejection there can be His protection from further harm. Those jobs were not meant for you.
- As you said, in those offers were no rizq for you. It might mean that you have to be patient, change directions, or adjust your goals. You can do the istikhara prayer and ask for guidance from Allah.
- So, next time, start with the right intention. Make sure that whatever you are trying to do, you seek the pleasure of Allah. Then trust in His guidance when you apply for a new job. Some tips on job searching are here and here.
May Allah provide you comfort and ease,
Friday, Jan. 13, 2023 | 09:00 - 10:00 GMT
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