#misCOURAGE story, 1503/2017, by Farhana Rasul Mahmud
MISCARRIAGE [Trigger Alert]
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ
My intention for sharing this personal experience with you is to raise awareness of the difficulties of such a heart-breaking experience. Miscarriage is taboo in many cultures, often hidden away, even a thing to be ashamed of.
In fact, it is actually something that Islam teaches us very openly and beautifully about. I hope that by reading this post, it reminds someone never to give up and to remember Allah swt’s promises.
It might even give someone the “tools”to support a loved one in their time of need. Sometimes not knowing how to respond makes us look as if we don’t want to, even though it’s all we want.
Recently, I met an old acquaintance and as we were talking about what we had been up to for the last ten years or so, we spoke about many things including work, family and children. She commented on the age gap between my three children.
My children. Mashallah laquwata illa billah.
I didn’t think anything of the conversation. But a few days later it came up. From nowhere. Playing on my mind… and slowly began pulling at my heartstrings.
My first pregnancy had been pure bliss, well…apart from the standard sickness, usual aches, pains and tiredness. My husband and I were over the moon when our daughter was born. Alhamdulillah!
We had read somewhere that, “when a muslim girl is born, she becomes a reason for her father to enter Paradise, when she grows up and marries a man, she completes half of his religion and when she becomes a mother, Paradise lies at her feet.”
We felt blessed, a straightforward pregnancy, a not too complicated birth and we had her in our arms. Alhamdulillah. We decided we wanted our children to be close in age and nine months later we were expecting our second child. It was great! Our daughter would have a sibling to grow up with.
However, Allah swt had other plans for us and at seven weeks we suffered our first miscarriage.
“Inna Lillahi wa inna ilayhi Raji’un”, truly, to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return. The Holy Quran 2:156
How easily we say this to others, but we only understand the true meaning when we are the ones returning His swt gifts back to Him.We hadn’t even been to see the GP nor had our first appointment. But we had known. From four weeks and two days we had known and for the last three weeks we had dreamed up an entire new life.
Every second of knowing I was pregnant equated to seconds of thinking about our baby. Would it be a boy or girl? What would they look like? Would they be like me or their abbu?How would our daughter respond to them?
We were shocked. I was confused. Was it my fault? Was there something wrong with me?Had I done something wrong?… So many questions.
But no answers. No one I spoke to could tell me anything to clear my confusion. The only response was “it’s very common; every one in four pregnancy’s end in miscarriage, there’s no real reason…”
Close family and the few friends who knew didn’t know how to respond, they were sympathetic at first but then it was never really mentioned or spoken about. As if it had never happened…no acknowledgement of the loss of our baby. I knew they cared but I felt as if perhaps it wasn’t important enough for them, even though I knew that wasn’t the case.
The days of confusion slowly blurred into weeks of feeling “empty”. I just couldn’t shake off this feeling of emptiness and the need to replace this loss that had left us before we had had a chance to live it. To love it.
Three months later we were expecting our third child. However, this time no excitement just anxiety. And prayers. Lots of praying for protection of our baby.
As the days passed, hope inched its way up. Alhamdulillah we had passed seven weeks, it felt like a major milestone. More and more I started thinking “this is it”. Finally I was in my twelfth week and our first scan was due just four days away.
It began with the same symptoms as last time and I.JUST.KNEW. This time the physical effects were so much worse. But the emotional pain…even more unbearable.
I felt broken. I don’t even know how my husband felt. He never showed his emotions- perhaps he was too busy looking after me and trying to stand strong for us. But he was affected.
This time I was numb. I remember returning from our emergency scan and just lying on the sofa where the words of the consultant confirming the worst alongside the same rubbish excuse of “one of those things…” going through my mind.
I had been pregnant three times in seventeen months. I was drained. I was exhausted. I didn’t blame anyone. As a muslimah I understood and accepted that this was Allah swt’s plan for me and that insha’Allah something better would be given in return.
BUT I still wish I had had someone to speak to, someone who would listen, someone who would acknowledge my loss and affirm what I felt. Someone who would tell me the many comforting ayahs from the Quran and many consoling hadiths that I would learn about in years to come.
After our second miscarriage I threw myself into my work. It was easy; I was a teacher and decided I could not even think about having any more children.
And so I worked. I worked really hard with all my heart. It was tough, I became Deputy Head teacher and within a short while I had to take over as Head teacher. We had the dreaded Ofsted inspection and I had been stressed in a way that I didn’t even think was actually possible. The day the inspection ended was the day I found out I was pregnant with our fourth baby.
SubhanAllah, as grateful as I was, the fear of losing this baby too was even greater. Although this pregnancy was physically fine, the emotional anxiety that it carried made it incredibly difficult.
As great as the NHS are, I referred myself to a herbal specialist and followed the course of medication given.
Alhamdulillah after what seemed like an eternity, my eldest son was born kicking and screaming. And as they placed him in my arms I made a dua which I still make and always will, “ya Allah, make his worth that of three, make him as strong as three, as intelligent as three and as pious as three”. Aameen.
Finally I felt like I had woken from a bad dream. We concentrated on our little family, trying our best as every parent does.
When my son was about a year and a half I attended a Janazah course, a day you learn how to perform the rites of the deceased and it was there where they told us of a need for a muslim bereavement service especially supporting mothers who had lost their children including prenatal loss.
I felt as if they were talking directly to me- did they know about my experiences? Of course not but the fact was that there just wasn’t enough support available. I had experienced that first hand.
The chairman of the Gardens of Peace Cemetery wanted to start the free service as a registered charity and was looking for volunteers to be trained and support the cause.
I felt my calling- the need for support at a time when you feel NO ONE understands what you are going through is one of the worst things ever, having no one to talk to could even lead to other mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
I didn’t want my sisters in Islam to feel the way I had. And here was an opportunity where I could actually do something to help. So I became one of the very first volunteers for the Muslim Bereavement Support Service.
“He (or she) who relieves the hardship of a believer in this world, Allah will relieve his (or her) hardship on the Day of Judgment. He (or she) who makes easy what is difficult, Allah will make it easy for him (or her) in the world and the Hereafter. He(or she) who conceals the faults of a Muslim, Allah will conceal his(or her) faults in the world and the Hereafter, for Allah helps the servant as long as he(or she) helps his(or her) brother(or sister).” Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2699
What began as a few people wanting to help and support others has now grown into a fantastic team of trained volunteers who support not only mothers but also any woman who has suffered bereavement.
The training I received didn’t just equip me to support others but if I’m completely honest helped me deal with, understand and fully accept my own loss more.
The Islamic aspect of the training in particular helped me to understand the “whys?” and instilled in me a hope that enabled me to understand that my suffering was actually going to be worth something. That all the while when I had felt others hadn’t acknowledged our loss, Allah swt had and that He swt has in store for my husband and I delights of the heart that are unimaginable. InshaAllah.
Allah tells us in the Holy Quran:
“And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As- Saabiroon (the patient). Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: ‘Truly, to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.’ They are those on whom are the Salawaat (i.e. who are blessed and will be forgiven) from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His Mercy, and it is they who are the guided ones”. The Holy Quran 2:155-157
So for the last few years, I have been helping sisters from all backgrounds, ages and circumstances, supporting them through their loss.
All was going well when alhamdulillah I found out I was expecting our fifth child. Our family would be complete, but subhanAllah at twelve weeks I suffered my third miscarriage.
It was happening all over again. But this time it was different.
I had all the ayahs and hadiths going through my mind, reminding myself that this is a test…Allah swt wants to bring you closer to Him…He wants to forgive your sins… He wants to raise your ranks in the Akhirah… He wants to take back what He has given you and reward you with that which is better.
“If Allah wants to do good to somebody, He afflicts him with trials”. Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 70, Number no, 548
I remember that night as I lay exhausted, weeping, begging my Creator.
“Ya Allah I am patient with your decision, and I put my trust in You and I expect my reward only from You”, and I kept repeating that in the days and weeks that followed, subhanAllah as broken as my heart was, this time I was aware that Allah swt was really listening. The thing is that He swt always had been, it was me that had taken so long to realise.
“And Allah loves As-Saabiroon (the patient)”. The Holy Quran 3:146
I dealt with my third loss in a way that I am sure I wouldn’t have been able to if I had not been a part of the Muslim Bereavement Support Service.
BUT it didn’t mean I wasn’t heartbroken.
The soul accepts but the heart still weeps. And really it’s ok to weep. Its ok to weep if we feel sad, it’s ok to weep if someone beloved dies. It’s ok to weep if we miss that person and miss them like crazy. It’s ok.
It is NOT A SIN, it is NOT A SIGN OF WEAKNESS and it is certainly NOT NON ACCEPTANCE OF ALLAH SWT’S WILL!
For even our beloved Prophet Muhammad S.A.W wept:
Anas bin Malik reported that: “The Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) entered the room and we accompanied him… And Ibrahim (the Prophet S.A.Ws son) breathed his last. The eyes of Allah’s Messenger (S.A.W.) were filled with tears. Abdur Rehman Ibne Auf said: ‘you are weeping, O Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.)’. He (S.A.W.) replied: “Ibne Auf, This is mercy”. Then he (S.A.W.) said: “Our eyes shed tears and our hearts are filled with grief, but we do not say anything except that by which Allah is pleased. O, Ibrahim we are sorrowful due to your separation.” Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Sunan Abi Dawood and Sunan Ibne Majah
And though I wept for days on after, and still do every now and then, I had hope and felt blessed that Allah swt had chosen us, He swt had chosen me.
“Only those who are patient shall receive their reward in full, without reckoning”.
The Holy Quran 39:10
I went on to have my youngest son, within a year of our third loss, Alhamdulillah Allah swt is the Most Merciful. People see us as a family of five but my in my heart it will always be eight.
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
“When a person’s child dies, Allah the Most High asks His angels, ‘Have you taken out the life of the child of My slave?’ They reply in the affirmative. He then asks, ‘Have you taken the fruit of his heart?’ They reply in the affirmative. Thereupon he asks, ‘What has My slave said?’ They say: ‘He has praised You and said: Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji’un (We belong to Allah and to Him we shall be returned).’ Allah says: ‘Build a house for My slave in Jannah and name it Bait-ul-Hamd (the House of Praise)’”.
At-Tirmidhi, Number 1736
With tears in my eyes and a smile on my lips, I remind myself about how one day inshaAllah, my husband and I will be reunited with our three children at the gates of Paradise where they will refuse to enter without us and where we -all eight of us will reside forever in our Bait-ul-Hamd. In the meantime, they are playing in the Gardens of Paradise with our beloved Prophet Ibrahim A.S watching over them.
Dearest reader May every hardship you go through become a means of attaining closeness to Allah swt , may every loss you have suffered be a means of gaining His swt’s pleasure, may you be reunited with your loved ones in the akhirah in Jannatul Firdous. May Allah swt bless you with the best in deen, dunya and akhirah. Aameen.
For services or more information about the Muslim Bereavement Support Service visit http://www.mbss.org.uk, or call 0203 468 7333 or email: [email protected]