Do you ever think about that pivotal moment when everything changed in your life?
That one significant moment in time where up was no longer up, where right felt wrong, when your balance recalibrated and you just felt completely changed? I recall that moment often, the day I decided to put on my headscarf, to leave my past life behind me, my mistakes, my regrets, my heartbreaks and start over.
Nearly ten years ago, I tore myself away from the one I loved. I severed a connection with a man who felt like a part of me.
To say that my world shattered would be an understatement. I’d describe it now like living with the pain of being punched in the gut repeatedly and not being able to catch your breath simultaneously. In all honesty, in the process of losing him, I lost myself. I lost my identity, all sense of self and what it meant to me to be a Muslim woman born and raised in London.
I battled with myself often about the decision to start wearing the Hijab after our break up. I thought about how my family and friends would react to this now very visible change I had decided to make, but I still persisted. My life up to that moment was undeniably a happy one, right the way up until I had my heart ripped out.
After our break up my health began to fail, my hair started falling out and I was in need of some stability, some handhold which wouldn’t let go and so I turned to my faith and I turned to Allah SWT.
I was engaged to this boy I fell in love with at school, during my A-Levels. A time in my life where I admit Islam was more of a label than a complete way of life.
When fasting was solely to join the family for Iftar goodies and Salaah consisted of only Magrib. I was completely besotted by this beautiful human being, who wasn’t a Muslim. I was crazy about him all through school. I felt like the luckiest girl alive.
He very quickly became my “everything” and I was his, our friends understood the connection we had and my family loved him like he was their own. We would attend each other’s family gatherings and I was welcomed by his parents too. They loved me wholeheartedly and I miss them to this day.
Eventually, after 6 years of being with each other reality caught up with us. Even though I wasn’t a practicing Muslim, deep down I had these dreams of getting married in a mosque, of holding my husband’s hand in Mecca, looking up in awe at the Ka’bah. Something within me was screaming out in protest and I just couldn’t settle my uneasy heart. We eventually decided to have “the talk”.
He wanted me to accept him as he was and I realised that Islam was beginning to play a bigger role in my life and I also wanted to get married.
He didn’t want to lose me and I couldn’t see a future without him and so I cried often. I prayed to Allah SWT to help me, I started Islamic classes because I needed to educate myself better. He had so many questions and I just didn’t have the answers.
I didn’t know why Muslims pray five times a day, I didn’t know about the life of our Prophet Muhammed (may peace and blessings be upon him). Ignorance now, was not bliss!
This period in both our lives was uncomfortable, it was tedious and heartbreaking. I felt further and further away from him and closer and closer to Allah SWT. My Salaah was beginning to become more frequent and my mind and heart were opening up to the beauty of Islam. I felt torn between the love of my life and my new fledgling love for my faith.
I think on some level he saw this change happening within me and without speaking to me about it he went to our local mosque and took his Shahada with a friend.
Everything was aligning and finally I could see a way out of our situation. Soon after we were engaged and I was just bursting with happiness.
As I became more confident of our future, he fell further and further into emotional turmoil. My once beaming happy boy was now a miserable, lost and vacant man.
He had lost himself, his identity, his purpose, his drive and now he no longer was letting me in.
He wouldn’t talk to me about how he was feeling.
We were hardly spending any time together and I felt so shut out.
And that was it, I lost him to his grief of losing himself.
We were over and I knew it before we even spoke the words to one another.
I felt helpless, distraught and desperate for him to see what I saw in him. He told me he no longer wanted to be a Muslim, that it was too hard and he couldn’t cope. I told him it was a process and that it would take time, but he was done.
My life felt over.
My body started to fail on me, I was diagnosed with an inflammatory disorder which had an 80% chance of developing into MS.
Something had to change and without him in my life a massive void in my heart needed filling and so I turned to Allah SWT. I begged for him to restore faith into the heart of the man I loved, I cried to Allah SWT to help me get out of bed in the morning, to heal my body to stop the gut wrenching pain I felt inside. I started to read the Quran in English and I found comfort in the words “Allah does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear” (Quran 2: 286) I learnt about how our Lord tests us out of love and with time I as healing.
To this day I am asked about this particular man, I have people imparting their opinions on how I should have just taken him as he was and that I should have been more patient with him.
That love always finds a way, but I find comfort in Allah SWT’s promise
“Indeed what is to come will be better for you than what has gone by” (Quran 93:4).
And so, that is how I am surviving, with the remembrance of my Lord and I often think that everything played out the way it was meant to, that the man I loved came into my life to help me find my love for my Creator.
Sabreen Naziri, Cat Loving, Tea Drinking, Marvel fan. Window Dresser by Day and Writing Enthusiast by Night IG: @sabwrites
By Afroze Fatima Zaidi