Omar was gregarious, a magnet. I’d pepper my friend with questions about his origins, his culture and religion, all so foreign to my own. What he shared with me so many years ago was deeply lyrical, simple and complex at the same time.
"Muslims don’t have a Sunday," he’d said to me one day. "Every day is holy. God is God. He didn’t need to rest."
How would the loss of a baby be integrated by this poetic, unresting Allah and his passionate, deeply faith-living people? As we stoked the fire for the Are You There, God? It's Me, Medusa blogolympics, I wanted to know.
Souad, Moroccan by background and living in Germany, is a key figure of support and sisterhood on a very glow-like message board for muslim mamas—a gathering of voices so familiar, and yet so unique. "The only time Fudayl ibn `Iyad was ever seen smiling," shared one mother, "...was after the death of his child. His reply to those around him was: 'Allah loved something and I love what Allah loved.'”
Five years ago, Souad’s first pregnancy brought her Sarah, born and lost at 22 weeks. "I was crying in disbelief," writes Souad. "I held her and kissed her, touched her little fingers and toes. She was so perfect but too small to live."
photo by dysonology
Assalamu aleikum, peace be to all of you.
Two days after we lost Sarah we buried her on the Islamic cemetery close to us. It was such a horrible event. I wanted to be buried with her—how could I leave her in that hole by herself? How could I dare to go home? I felt my heart breaking in parts and I wished for death, may Allah forgive me. Then depression followed. I closed shutters and doors and stayed in the dark room all day. I didn’t eat, didn’t drink, didn’t sleep. I just stared at the walls and cried.
People outside lived their lives like nothing was going on, I thought that they were very rude. I thought the world had changed and everybody was in grief, but it was only me who had changed. My husband and I cried every day.
When I knew I can’t do it by myself, I was lucky to find a muslim therapist who had lost five babies herself—she knew how to deal with me. I am always thankful to the One and Only God that He connected me with her. She showed me this saying of the last prophet of God, Muhammad (peace and blessings upon him):
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah upon him, said, “Indeed the miscarried fetus will confront his Lord if He enters his parents into the Fire. So it will be said to him, ‘O fetus which confronts his Lord! Enter your parents into Paradise.’ So he will drag them by his [umbilical] cord until he enters them into Paradise.” [Ibn Majah]
She showed me my religion all over again.
I was born muslim but I didn’t practice the way I should have. We talked about how faith in God was important and how patience plays a big role in life. We went over the story of Mary and how she got pregnant through a wish of Allah—in a time when it was a catastrophe to become pregnant out of wedlock. Mary left her home to have little Jesus (in Arabic his name is Isa, and in Islam he is a prophet only, not son of God) all by herself and return with him. No one believed her until Jesus spoke from the crib. Allah made her the most pious woman of all time. She managed her trial with strength and faith in Allah, not fearing anyone.
I have grown since then. My faith in Allah has grown—I feel His presence every day. Just having passed my 5-year anniversary of our loss, I see now how much I have changed. I think of her with such joy, and thank Allah for blessing me with my two living girls for this life, with my little Sarah at my gate to Paradise, God willing. My little Sarah is with Abraham and his wife Sarah, being taken care of.
In Islam, religion is not part of our life. Our life is part of our religion. Allah tests our patience and our trust in Him. Are we going to have faith in Him and get over it quickly and accept it? Or are we going to challenge Him, be mad at Him?
The believer is like the grain crops—the wind continually beats it back and forth. And a believer continues to be afflicted with trials. We have to bend with our trials—not be like a strong tree that would break with a stronger wind. Trials cleanse our souls from past sins, as the saying goes: we are not stung by the thorn of a rose without some sins being forgiven for the pain.
We are allowed to grieve for three days. We can still cry after that, but must get ourselves together and go on with life. Visitors come every day with food and drinks, and to talk. You are never alone. If we have a strong faith in Allah, we know that everybody has to leave one day and that this life is not what we are here for to achieve. We are here to work for the next life.
Still, it took time to heal. I went through the same things that might be familiar for you—I saw pregnant women and newborns all around me, remembered the foods I used to crave, had milk leaking from my breasts, suffered postpartum contractions and had baby clothes at home but no baby.
Many years and two children later, I feel blessed with everything that has happened to me. There is wisdom in losing my child. It was a loss for this world, but a gain for the next.