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Live Up To Your Full Potential (Counseling Live Session)

1. Question

I have been having great depression for a few years now. I used to be so happy and have deep trust in Allah and had very strong faith. But then one day that happiness I had and the strong faith I once had disappeared.

This is all because I have learned that as a female I cannot get the same closeness to Allah as men no matter what I do, as it seems that Allah loves men so much more and rewards them for their good deeds so much more than women.

Even paradise appeals to men so much but I do not feel that it is appealing to women at all. Men are told you will get so many beautiful wives in paradise, which makes them very happy and excited.

Whereas, as women we are told that our husbands will have wives that are much more beautiful than us and they will love them more. It seems that Allah always puts the interests of men first. Fine, I do understand that men like to have many wives. But we women like to be the most beautiful wives to our husbands and like to feel that they love us more than any other woman. While men get many wives in paradise, why cannot we be at least told that we will be much more beautiful, more superior  and more loved? In this case, men get what they desire and women get what they desire.

But all I see on Islamic sites is that there is no evidence to say that we will be more beautiful and loved and I even read that there is a high possibility that Hoor Alyn will be more beautiful and far more superior. I just do not understand, why? Hoor Alyn do not have to face the struggles we face, yet they are more favoured for us. This makes paradise so much more appealing to men. A WOMAN IS EVEN PUNISHED FOR THINGS SHE DID NOT DO. FOR EXAMPLE, IF A WOMAN ENTERS PARADISE BEFORE HER HUSBAND AND HE SPENDS FEW DAYS OR YEARS IN HELL, SHE WILL SPEND ALL THAT TIME WITHOUT A HUSBAND. EVEN IF SHE REALLY WANTED TO HAVE A HUSBAND SHE WONT BECAUSE SHE HAS TO WAIT FOR HIM.

SO HERE SHE HERE SHE IS NOT GETTING A SPOUSE FOR SOMETIME FOR SOMETHING SHE DID NOT DO. BUT A MAN IF HIS WIFE SPENDS SOME TIME HELL THIS WILL NOT AFFECT HIM AS HE WILL HAVE MANY WIVES AT HIS SERVICE. HOW IS THIS FAIR? WOMEN REALLY WANT TO HAVE LOVING HUSBANDS IN PARADISE AND IT THAT IS THEUR UTMOST DESIRE AND THEIR HUSBANDS ENTER PARADISE BEFORE THEM, THEN WHAT?

THEY GET DEPRIVED! Honestly, I cannot find paradise appealing, it is just there to make men super happy. Right now paradise and how Allah treats men and women seem as if a man and a woman are on the same level of paradise and have the same amount of good deeds, even though both will get rewarded, but the man will be given more than the woman. The desire of men to have many wives will definately be fullfilled as proved by many Quran verses and hadiths, but the desire of women to be their husband’s most beautiful wives and most loved is not achieved as Hoor Alyn will be much more beautiful.

A woman wil be given less rewards and she will be made happy with less. It seems that the ONLY thing a woman gets is that she will not feel jealouse of Hoor Alyn, but her desire to be more beautiful and more loved will not be achieved, rather she will be made happy with being less beautiful and less loved. Also, it seems that men will be loved so much more as the they will have many wives to love them only, but women only have one man to love them and that love is shared with so many other women. I really want to know something, it Allah promises Hoor Alyn for men only, why does He not promise a certain reward only for women?

Allah knows that when women read about Hoor Alyn and their great beauty they will become very depressed, then why does He not mention that women will be more beautiful and just like men are given a reward exclusive to their gender, women will also be given a reward only for their gender, will be more beautiful than hoor alyn and will be loved as much as men. I feel like if we were told that we would not be sad. Men never have to worry about getting rewarded less because of their gender and DO NOT FEEL SAD WHEN REWADING ABOUT THE PAARDISE AND ITS REWARDS AND WAHT IT REWARDS WOMEN. BUT WOMEN DO GET VERY SAD AND ASK ABOUT WHAT THEY GET BECAUSE WE ONLY READ ABOUT HOOR ALYN AND THEIR BEAUTY AND THE BESSLINGS MEN GET.

How can I strive for paradise when I know that my husband there would have wives who are superior to men and more beautiful??????? Hoor Alyn did not have to pray, fast, wear hijab and struggle like us, yet they get to be more loved and more beautiful. We worship Allah as much as men yet they are rewarded more and are given rewards exclsuive to their gender, but we are not. MEN WILL NEVER BE LONELY IN PARADISE AS THEY HAVE SO MANY WOMEN JUST FOR THEM, BUT A WOMAN WILL SPEND SO MUCH TIME BEING LONELY, AS HER HUSBAND WILL SPEND TIME WITH SO MANY WOMEN, WHILE SHE WILL HAVE TO WAIT FOR HER TURN. EVERYONE HATES TO BE LONELY, BUT MEN WILL NEVER BE LONELY BUT WOMEN WILL. Paradise seems not very appealing to women, as they get less, if there husbands are in hell for some time they have to spend time in paardise without a husband (unlike men who whis wont matter to them as they have many other wives), women get less love than men and women are made happy with LESS. I know you will tell me that jeoulsy won’t be there but it is unfair that a woman will be made happy with less rewards. It is unfair that a woman will be made happy even though her desire to be her husband’s most beautiful wife. it is very unfair that men are given their utmost desire of having many wives and are made happy, but very unfair that women are not given their utmost desire of being their husband’s most beautiful wives and the only thing they are given is they wont feel jeaoulse and that is all . Why does Allah favour men so so so much and fulfills are their desires in paradise speaks so much in Quran about Hoor Alyn, but does not speak of women being more beautiful and they too getting things men dont? 

As salamu alaykum dear sister,

Shokran for writing to our Live session. You have expressed a lot of deep concerns regarding the rights of men and women, how Allah deals with each, and the unfairness of it all from a woman’s perspective. I do understand where you are coming from on some points-but these points have other parts in the Qur’an and hadith that explains what is actually meant and why which makes it more understandable. You had a lot of concerns here (which I think I addressed in your previous question) however I am not an Islamic scholar but will do my best to address your concerns. Please do write to our “Ask the Scholar” section for a more Islamically complete response.

Allah Loves You

Sister, Allah loves you very much. Allah loves females as much as males and thus has granted each her/his own rights according to their abilities and desires. Allah is fair and just and Allah knows us better than we know ourselves as He created us.

“Indeed, Allah does not do injustice, [even] as much as an atom’s weight; while if there is a good deed, He multiplies it and gives from Himself a great reward.” (Qur’an 4:40).

Women’s Elevated status

Sister, did you know women’s elevated status in Islam is because Allah commanded it? If we just examine how the prophet (PBUH) loved and cherished his wives-and treated them with the utmost respect we can see the value of women. We must ask, where did the prophet learn to treat women so well? During that time, the women in his area were not treated good at all. It is because of his good heart and because of Allah’s commands that the prophet (PBUH) was such a good husband and also elevated the rights of all women. Also, did you know there is a whole chapter dedicated to women in the Qur’an? Also, some of the most elevate servants of Allah were women!

“God recognizes and rewards the good works of every human being, male or female.” (Quran 3:195).

Paradise

Sister regarding paradise, it is said that each one who makes it to Jannah will receive whatever it is that makes him/her happy-that is the reward for being true and faithful to Allah. There is no distinction between woman and man but only by deeds of righteousness. Do you think that the wives of our beloved prophet (PBUH) were not happy? Do you feel they are not rewarded in Jannah? Surely yes! Allah loved them very much!

“If any do deeds of righteousness,- be they male or female – and have faith, they will enter Heaven, and not the least injustice will be done to them.” (an-Nisa, 4:124)

“And We place the scales of justice for the Day of Resurrection, so no soul will be treated unjustly at all. And if there is [even] the weight of a mustard seed, We will bring it forth. And sufficient are We as accountant.” (Qur’an 21:47).

Allah is Just

Sister, Allah does not reward men and women based on gender, rather rewards are based on the nature of women and men and what makes each one unique. This also takes into account personal wishes and desires. Not all desires are the same for men, and not all desires are the same for women. Allah sees all and Allah takes everything into account when giving out rewards and punishments and Allah is Just.

“And We place the scales of justice for the Day of Resurrection, so no soul will be treated unjustly at all. And if there is [even] the weight of a mustard seed, We will bring it forth. And sufficient are We as accountant.” (Qur’an 21:47).

Further Education

Sister, you may want to learn more about your elevated status as a Muslim woman as well as your rights as a wife. If there is something that is confusing or doesn’t seem fair, insha’Allah get a detailed answer from an Islamic scholar-possibly a female. Please consider taking classes at a Masjid or Islamic community Center so you can interact with the teacher and students by asking these most important questions which are hurting you and causing depression. When studying Islam, it is important that we understand the context of what we are reading. Often times it can be difficult!  That is why interactive classes are so important. Please do consider insha’Allah.

Conclusion

Sister, please make duaa to Allah that He grants you ease in finding the answers to your questions as you study Islam. Allah is most merciful and kind. May Allah make it easier for you to understand the Qur’an and the hadiths (authentic) and dispel any confusion as you are taking this most sacred and important path in learning Islam. We wish you the best. 

“God recognizes and rewards the good works of every human being, male or female.” (Quran 3:195).

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2. Question

I constantly feel I cannot do things that I once wanted to do. Currently finding it difficult to study for my masters. I feel i dont have the energy. Do I have a burnout?

As salamu alaykum dear sister,

Shokran for writing to our Live session. You have indicated that you are so fatigued and have no energy that you are finding it difficult to study. I imagine this is most worrisome sister as you are probably not use to feeling this way. However, many people do experience “burnout “at various times in life. It is common.

School and Studying can be Intense and Stressful

A severe lack of energy and/or burnout is a common problem for students and others who have constant or busy schedules, or who are seeking to attain things that are farther in completion. Research has shown that intense tasks with a short time frame which produces positive outcomes is less stressful than long-term intense activities. School-studying is a long-term activity and yes it can be stressful and intense.

What is Burnout?

According to Psychology Today (1) burnout may be caused by problems at work, school, or home which are ongoing with no reprise. This repeated or prolonged stress, or pressing work which does not reach a goal fast enough can cause burnout.

Symptoms of Burnout

Symptoms of burnout include possible feelings of depression, lethargy, as well as possible headaches fatigue heartburn food misuse and gastrointestinal problems. Burnout does not always involve all of the symptoms and may include others, however the state of being emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted is present and can be troubling.

Examining Self

Sister I kindly suggest thought you make a list of your symptoms and how they are related to how you are feeling. Look at your list, if you are noticing that you are more depressed than burned out and tired feeling, please do contact a counselor in your area for an evaluation and possible ongoing counseling. As depression can also make one feel burned out, fatigued as well as exhibit similar symptoms, it is best to rule out depression when looking at the possibility of burnout. Please refer to these sign and symptoms of depression (2).

Examining Responsibilities

After you’ve made your list of symptoms and you do not feel that depression is at the root of how you feel, I would encourage you insha’Allah to make another list which would include all the responsibilities you have outside of school and studying which may be impacting your energy levels. It may be that you are over-extending yourself and just need to take some time for self-care.

Creating a Balance

While it is possible that that constant work, or attending to a task such as studying for school, caring for parents or children 24/7 can be taxing and lead to burn out, it is also evident that self-care and relaxation create a balance so one does not develop burnout or stress as intensely.

Self Care

Self-care includes our mental/emotional, physical, and spiritual being. Insha’Allah you are getting enough quality rest, eating good, clean foods, and drinking enough water. What we eat and drink as well as the quality of our sleep has a big impact on how we feel. Insha’Allah you are praying and able to maintain your closeness with Allah as Allah swt is our mercy and our healing. Self-care may include taking walks in nature, exercising at home or going to a gym, getting out and socializing more, sitting and listening to some pleasant music well you are relaxing, doing mindfulness breathing, taking a long warm bath, as well as other recommended self-care techniques. Please see these tips on self-care (3).

Conclusion

Sister, Insha’Allah I encourage you to choose a few self-care techniques to do daily. It may take a week or two for you to notice a change in how you feel, but in sha Allah you will begin to feel better. If you noticed that self-care is not helping, I kindly advise that you make an appointment with your physician just to rule out any medical factors as well as to schedule an appointment with a counselor to see if a more intense approach may be needed to help you manage stress, learn to relax, as well as manage your workload. Lastly, remember burn out is not unusual and can be remedied! We wish you the best.

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3. Question

Aoa from last week i am suffering from thantophobia i can’t stop thinking about death and it cause me Panic attack.

As salamu alaykum dear brother,

Shokran for writing to our Live session. I am sorry to hear about you preoccupation with thoughts of death and consequent panic attacks. It must be quite frightening for you brother and I pray Allah swt blesses you with relief from these troubling thoughts.

Thanatophobia

Thanatophobia in its truest form is considered a phobia. While most people think about and have fears of death, this is normal. When it becomes a preoccupation or interferes with daily activities it is then classified in the DSM-5 as a phobia which can be part of an anxiety disorder (1). Thanatophobia is not listed per say in the DSM-5 but the general guidelines for phobia’ include aspects of Thanatophobia such as “have excessive worry or fear of death or dying that gets in the way of their life, actively avoid any situation involving death or dying, experience intense anxiety when encountering or thinking of death or dying.” (1).

Panic Attacks

Brother based on the nature of thanatophobia being part of an anxiety disorder it is no surprise you are having panic attacks. Panic attacks can be intense and fearful, causing one to think they are dying. It could be that you are suffering not so much from thanatophobia, but from panic attacks- anxiety disorder which fuels your thoughts about death and dying based on the intense symptoms which often occur with episodes. Please do look at when panic attacks occur (separate from thinking about death) and how intense they are. This may help you in determining if it is panic or true thanatophobia that is causing you distress. Please check out this link for more in-depth information including symptomology for panic disorder (2).

The Time Factor

Brother, as this has only been going on for a week or so, you have a high chance that it will be treated successfully. Oftentimes when depression, stress, anxiety, or other mental health issues are allowed to go on for long periods of time without treatment, it may cause changes in the brain thus making treatment a little more challenging. However, treatment is available and millions of people have successfully recovered.

Treatment

Brother there are many treatments for thanatophobia if that is what you indeed have. Treatment can include psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, psychoanalytic therapies exposure therapy.  Medications are often used as well (1). There are also online groups you can join to assist in your healing journey. Insha’Allah if you chose this option please do ensure they are valid support groups with a professional in charge.

Assessment and Counseling

At this point I kindly suggest that you do seek a counselor for an assessment and ongoing treatment if it is recommended. The only way to get a true and valid diagnosis is to be assessed by a counselor/therapist in your area. While you have only been experiencing this for a week and may feel it is too soon, I do encourage you to seek assessment and treatment as this type of mental health issue tends to get worse over time as more and more fear builds. Insha’Allah, by going now (early in the onset) you will avoid a lot of intense and uncomfortable moments.

Covid Considerations

Brother in these times of covid19, it is no surprise that many are becoming fearful, thinking of death and dying more, as well as developing trauma based mental health issues, anxiety, depression, and panic. In some ways, it is the minds way of coping with a very dire and intense two years of fears about the virus, lockdowns, as well as a global change in the way we live our lives. Whether or not this is relevant to you I am not sure-I just thought I would mention it as you are not alone in your thoughts and fears, and possibly given the times we are living in-these types of feelings and thoughts may be expected.

Conclusion

Brother please do seek out counseling and assessment. It is best not to let these things run on as they usually get worse. Whatever the diagnosis (if there will be one) treatment is available and insha’Allah if you start now, you will be on the road to healing rather than the path of continued suffering. We wish you the best.

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4. Question

My spouse’s mother left when he was a child to be with another man. He was brought up by his dad. He did see his mother for custody visits often and grew close to her growing up. But when he found out that she left him as a child for another man, he felt betrayed and upset. Now he has no relationship with his mother and hasn’t for years. He can’t bear it and it emotionally distresses him and makes him angry when she contacts him.

He wants nothing to do with her. Islamically he still owes her obligations as a son, but he does not want to have her in his life whatsoever. Even just thinking about maintaining a bare minimum level of contact with her is too upsetting for him. He can’t stand to look at her or speak to her and says he doesn’t think he will ever be able to fulfil minimum obligations towards her due to the hurt she’s caused his family. Not only that but she can be manipulative and use him also. She still causes problems for his family.

He’s seen this for himself and realised he’s much happier and content without her in his life. I can’t even convince him to try maintain basic relations at this point. I don’t know what to do anymore as I’m worried for him. While she’s entirely at fault and knows this, I know she will be accountable to Allah swt for this. But for my husband, I’m worried this is a test that is beyond what he can bear because he believes there is no chance he can have her in his life. I don’t know what to do anymore. I’ve tried so hard to reason with him but it upsets him even more. Any advice is appreciated

As salamu alaykum dear sister,

Shokran for writing to our Live session. Sister I am sorry to hear about the issues that your husband is going through due to finding out why his mother left when he was young. Apparently, she left her marriage and family for another man. When your husband found out (as an adult), he was devastated and wanted nothing to do with her. Naturally this has hurt you as well because of his behavior and how he now feels. Sadly, it is a situation that is affecting the whole family.

Husband and Mother-in Law

Sister you stated that until he found out, he and his mother had a close relationship while he was growing up. However, since he found out she left her husband (his father) and family for another man, he feels betrayed and upset. While this makes sense in some ways, other ways it doesn’t. He is an adult now with greater insight than a child however it does not negate the hurt. The reason his mother left is between his mother, Allah, and his father. It is not like his mother thought “oh I don’t want my son anymore let me leave for another man”. It probably had much more to do with her marriage or other issues and weaknesses within herself. I am sure that you know this already and have told your husband but he apparently is so hurt over the discovery of this information that at this point he cannot hear anything.

Feeling Loved, then Abandoned

When a parent leaves a household, children often blame themselves or feel the parent didn’t love them. This is truly devastating for the children involved however you said your husband and his mom had a good relationship while he was growing up, so he apparently felt loved by her.

Time and Healing

It was a few years ago that your husband found out that his mother left his father for another man, however he is still not able to assimilate this information, process it, and deal with it yet. In sha Allah perhaps over time he will. Sadly, he is still very hurt and it is showing as anger.  Insha’Allah your husband will realize that as we want Allah to forgive us, we must forgive others as well, especially mothers.

Counseling

Sister perhaps counseling will help your husband heal. In sha Allah, speak with your husband when things are calm and see if he would be willing to go for counseling. If he wishes to, assure him that you will go with him as a support. Instead of using the rationale that you wish to see his relationship repaired with his mom, you may tell him that you just wish to see him heal from the hurt that she has caused. This is true, and this is the first step in healing.

Negative Behaviors and Trauma/Mental Health

You stated that his mom is manipulative and she still causes problems for his family. This is sad. However, there is no knowledge of her mental health status, nor anything about his dad or how he treated her. Not that this has anything to do with what she did- of course what she did was haram and a sin. However, certain traumas from other things in life such as abuse or witnessing violence can make people do things they ordinarily wouldn’t; such as commit sins, be manipulative and make poor decisions. I suppose that what I am getting at is that things are not always the way they seem.

Mercy

In sha Allah your husband can one day feel merciful towards his mother and forgive her. What she has done is between her and Allah. Nobody knows except for her and Allah if she repented. It could be that she sincerely repented to Allah for this grave sin and was truly sorry. Perhaps she has repented but is suffering from subsequent mental health illnesses or other issues which make her manipulative and cause problems for the family. Only Allah knows.

A Loving Wife

Sister you really cannot blame your husband for feeling this way, however it still is his mother and you are so loving in your desire for there to be peace between your husband and his mom. May Allah bless you for your efforts to try to help your husband with this problem. Your husband must know what a wonderful wife he does have!

Taking a Different Approach

Sister as you know we cannot force people to do anything. Especially when someone is hurt which leads to anger, they can’t hear what we are saying even though they may love us. At this point it may be best to just discuss with him the possibility of counseling for the purpose of his own healing and leave it at that. In sha Allah perhaps if you stop asking him to make amends with his mom he will slowly stop being so defensive and angry when she is brought up. I know you are giving him gentle reminders which is what you are supposed to do as his wife, but at this time he cannot hear. In sha Allah he will go for counseling, if not leave it with Allah and make duaa for him sister. Please also make duaa for his mom who may be suffering as well from things that you or the family do not even know about. Allah knows best.

A Personal Decision

In sha Allah at this point I would kindly advise that you stopped talking to him about reconciliation with his mother and focus on asking him if he will participate in counseling so he can heal. In sha Allah if he agrees this may lead to a reconciliation. People who are deeply hurt are usually not able to reconcile. They are not ready. The healing process and any reconciliation if it will happen, is step work. The step work begins with his agreeing to want to be healed. It is a personal decision.

Conclusion

In the meantime, sister please seek out Allah for strength, mercy, and blessings. Try to pray with your husband as much as possible, read the Qur’an together for strength and knowledge, make dzkhir in remembrance of Allah, and try to do Islamic things together that are both spiritually educational as well as social. In sha Allah by continuing to build your strength and foundation Islamically,  this may encourage your husband to see things differently, possibly more mercifully when it comes to his mother. We wish you the best.

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5. Question

How do I overcome PTSD from incarceration when I feel hopeless all the time and I feel like this sense of doom?

As salamu alaykum dear sister,

Shokran for writing to our Live session. I am sorry to hear about your lingering trauma and sense of doom post incarceration. While I do not know the specifics of you incarceration such as the reason why you were incarcerated, the length of time you spent in prison, the trauma you may have experienced while incarcerated, as well as how things are now that you are out, it may be difficult to refer to specifics but insha’Allah I will do my best.

Incarceration at a Young Age

Sister you are only 23 years old. That may mean you were very young when incarcerate. If so, that is traumatizing for a child. Prison is traumatizing in general but more so for a teen or young adult-especially a woman.

While Incarcerated

Sister, the feelings you are experiencing now may be due to somewhat of an adjustment period especially if you have only been out a short time, and this also depends on the supports you have in place to begin your life on the outside. It also depends on what you experienced in prison. Aside from the usual horrors of being separated from family, friends, normal activities, and being thrust into a 24-7 controlled cage-you also may have experienced abuse in prison or other events which have harmed you further. Please evaluate your experience. Write down any thing that you feel was traumatizing (beyond the basic experience) or that which has impeded your mental health.

Possible Obstacles

Sister, coming out of prison is not easy. Re-entry is hard for most unless there is a solid network of support systems which include friends/family, compassionate caseworkers, and mental health resources. Some needs you may have faced already are opportunities for skills training or jobs; financial help, medical assistance, food, housing, among other things. Social acceptance and activities are important too. Often times re-entry involves stigma, sadly. Also, as you are Muslim, do you feel welcome and supported at your Masjid? In your Islamic community? If not-find another Masjid and community to grow with as Allah is most merciful and forgiving as Muslims should be as well.

Resources and Strengths Analysis

Insha’Allah sister, also do an analysis of your resources and strengths for successful re-entry. By identifying what supports and strengths you do have to go forward in life will insha’Allah make it easier to focus on what things you need, one thing at a time. By identifying resources and strengths when restarting one’s life, it can reduce stress, fears, and help us to focus more on what is needed in a more streamlined way instead of worrying about a great big huge-unknown.

Be Easy on Yourself

Sister I can imagine you have been through so much during your incarceration. You now have a new, fresh start. If possible-leave the past behind. Take the lessons-but start new. That means practicing self-love and self-acceptance. It means understanding that every human makes mistakes-but no mistake or sin (except shirk) is beyond Allah’s forgiveness nor mercy. As I am sure you have repented if needed (I am not sure of the situation that resulted in incarceration) you then know how much Allah loves you and that Allah forgives and has great mercy. Show yourself mercy and love during this transition. Pray to Allah for ease. Trust in Allah that all will be well for you and that soon-you will be happy, successful and healed from your past. Be easy on yourself during this transition.

Addressing Mental Health

Sister, as stated I do not know much about your situation but I do know re-entry can be stressful and difficult. Prison can leave trauma and scars that need healing to improve mental health and wellness. If after assessing your situation as outlined above this does not relieve some of your feelings of hopelessness and sense of doom-please seek out a counselor in your area for ongoing counseling. Most people who are released from prison do need some form of counseling. Prison is hard and trauma is not uncommon. I would kindly suggest that you seek out re-entry support groups. They can be empowering; you can learn new skills; learn how to overcome obstacles as well as hear how others may be experiencing the same feelings you are-and how they over-came these feelings. You will learn you are not alone.

Conclusion

My dear sister, please do address your mental health issues as soon as possible so you can feel good about being out, so you can fully enjoy your future successes, and so you can wake up to each day feeling joy and freedom. There is no joy in being mentally “lock up” in a mind that is fearful, feeling hopefulness, and traumatized. Addressing your mental health right now is an act of self-love and defiance in a system that sometimes takes pleasure in seeing people fail. Prove the system wrong…you did come out stronger, closer to Allah, and wiser. You will succeed and you will live your best life. We wish you the best.

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6. Question

Dear Sister, All my life I have never been able to maintain freindships. This scares me as it means I will never be able to maintain a marriage I’m scared my husband will get bored and leave me as this has happened in the past. I do have commitment issues’ I was bullied and this largely contributed to my trust issues. As my freinds at the time didn’t have my back and Instead chose to believe lies about me.

When I was in college I had a group of freinds and the same thing happened I had a falling out with a member of the group and I was disowned by my freinds this pattern keeps repeating itself. Even in my family circle. I will find myself really close with someone and either we will fall out and then everyone will turn against me or the person will find someone else and replace me. My freindships have always been superficial and circumstancial.

I’m so scared to complete half my Deen and get married. Also scared to have children too as I don’t want to give my children a dysfunctional family life. What can I do? My loneliness has left me desperate and depressed. I’ve tried to put my self out there even in the mosque but again these freindships are very circumstancial. I don’t know if I should just give up on the idea of having freinds and getting married. I’ve asked Allah multiple times about this but unfortunately I end up with toxic freinds or short term freinds. I understand Allah removes people to get you closer to him. But the prophets had companions. Also we are social creatures. So I don’t understand why he keeps people away from me. How can I reduce my expectations of freindships and releationships? Also how can I stop getting used and being such a over giver? I’ve received therapy on this area but nothing has helped me.

As salamu alaykum dear sister,

Shokran for writing to our Live session. Sister it must be difficult to deal with what you’re going through but I can’t tell you how many times I have had other sisters write in with the same issue. Making friends is sometimes, easy but making friendships that are real, deep, and lasting is often difficult. I remember my father telling me when I was a teenager that in my lifetime if I could count five good friends on my hand that I was blessed. As I grew older, I could see that that was true.

We all Need Friends

Everyone definitely needs friendships. However as indicated above, people need true lasting friendships. Some of the problems in today’s world is that people can be very transit. It’s not that they don’t want to have good friends, but oftentimes people are so busy and in a whirlwind of activity that having lasting friendships is put on the back burner. People may be friends for a while, then move on and make new friends. Sometimes you will see groups of friends who seem very close but they are actually experiencing the same thing that you are, temporary superficial friends and fun.

True Friendship Does Exist

True friendship does exist. Friendship like a marriage, is something that is an investment and grows over time. So, in the search criteria for a friend, you may want to seek out people who actually have time for friendships. Additionally, as we get older making friends is a tad bit more difficult because as stated- people get busy with careers, family, etc.

Commonalities

A possibly solution to short term friendships is maybe seeking out friends who you have things in common with. For instance, if you enjoy painting or art you may want to join an art club and meet friends there. If you enjoy learning a new language that is another way to meet new friends that have your same interests and goals in mind concerning languages. The point is when we seek out friends who we have things in common with, the friendships tend to be less superficial and are based on more concrete commonalities. This can form deeper ties and alliances.

Juvenile Style Friendships

Sister, you stated that when you were in college, you would have a falling out with your friends and everyone would turn against you and find someone else to replace you. As you probably already know that is just very juvenile Behavior from very immature girls. As you are older now and a little bit wiser, I am sure when you seek out friendships they are of a higher quality. Make a list of traits you seek in friends, things you will not tolerate-and follow it! Problems usually arise in this life when we compromise our values-insha’Allah be clear within yourself your criteria for friendships and stick to it!

Friendship-An Organic Process

Sister friendships usually happen naturally. True, we have to put ourselves in the position to meet new people, but the affection between friends grows through time and experiences. Friendship is not something that can be forced or hurried. It naturally builds over time.

Giving too Much

Another thing you were wondering about is how you can stop being an over giver and getting used. Being super giving and generous is a nice trait sister, however it can be a red flag for those who are seeking to use someone or take advantage of them. In sha Allah you will learn how to filter out these types of people because they do not mean you well. When seeking to build friendship sister be kind and loving however don’t try to buy friends. That never works. I am sure you are giving and loving out of the goodness of your heart, but on the other hand you also desperately would love to have a few good friends and may be prone to overdo it with gifts and a helping hand. If you find a happy medium with your kindness and your generosity; and you are able to draw boundaries, you may experience better results. Try to look at it like this, whomever you are starting a friendship with, they are very blessed to have you as a friend!

Fear of Marriage

As far as being afraid to get married and having children that is understandable. Not just because of your experiences with friendships, but you feel as if you are dysfunctional. Perhaps you are not the one who is dysfunctional but it was the people you were interacting with. Perhaps the lesson in this, is to choose those who truly value friendship and especially those who truly value and love Allah. When one loves Allah, they will not treat you poorly nor take advantage of you. The same thing goes for a potential husband. When seeking a husband seek one who not only loves Allah, but treats others kindly, fairly, and with compassion. It may be a good indication of how he would treat you as a wife.

Retrying Counseling

Sister, I know you said you tried counseling before and it didn’t work. Perhaps it was the wrong counselor for you? Not every counselor is a good fit. I kindly ask that you give ongoing counseling another try. Like seeking a friendship-seek out a counselor whom you feel comfortable with, who has a good rating, as well as has experience in your area of concern. Perhaps the issue of trying to resolve being too giving and getting used was not the stem problem. Perhaps the origin of some of your fears and insecurities lies in your being bullied as a child. Bullying can be traumatizing and may have lasting effects throughout life (such as trust issues) if not addressed. Insha’Allah sis, please try counseling again.

Conclusion

My dear sister I am confident that you will find good friends as well as marry and have children insha’Allah. Try defining your expectations, criteria, as well as examine your feelings about your self to ensure your self esteem levels are healthy and shining through. Look for commonalities when choosing friends, and especially seek those who love Allah with all their hearts, they will make the truest friends!  Also, insha’Allah-try counseling again to help heal any issues you may have from past bullying experiences. You may be surprised at how good you feel when taking the healing steps necessary to improve your life and well-being—and given life’s challenges, that is a constant task we all must do!  We wish you the best.

Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2021 | 06:00 - 07:00 GMT

Session is over.
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Views expressed by hosts/guests on this program (live dialogue, Facebook sessions, etc.) are their own and their appearance on the program does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent.