My journey from being a career-led, high performing teacher, working abroad and leading colleagues as an assistant head teacher to a full-time home schooling mum has not been easy. I left a financially rewarding yet stressful job to be a full-time mum.

It was so that I could be there for my children, my husband and my home.

All of a sudden I realised that all my problems stemmed from me…within me. I was not in control of what is outside but what is inside of me.

This desire for wanting to be a homemaker rather than a career-maker was a seed that was planted in me when I worked abroad in a Middle Eastern country. I am grateful to Allah that he exposed me to women who are real role models. Women, who know their purpose in life. Women, who carried themselves with so much honour. Women, who were raising wholesome children and future scholars. I was in awe of these great women who the world does not know about. I learnt from them how to be with my family.

You see we all read theories on marriage life and raising children but for the first time in my life I actually came across women who were “doing it right”. I told my self at the time that I couldn’t do that because I have to work right? Bills to pay, stuff to buy, places to see! So I carried on when I returned to the UK working like a robot telling my self “Bills to pay…stuff to buy…places to see”…until I wore my self out. My high performing very demanding role meant that my family, which is the core of a society, was suffering. I will never forget waking up at 2am and writing my resignation letter to my head, which I handed in the morning at 6.30am (yes, those days work was 6.30am to 6.30pm). I have never in my life felt so great about a decision I made!

I recalled my interaction and knowledge of those great teachers who taught me how to take care of my family. For me working full-time and taking care of my family did not work. I realised that actually bills got paid, I don’t need any more stuff and I live in a wonderful country were I can see different places around me all the time.

When I freed my self from the rat race I was able to focus on:

Self –care, by taking time with my prayers and dhikr, eating well, exercising, meeting with family and friends and most important of all reading books!

Building relationships, by spending time with my husband – we actually have time to talk, going on dates with my husband, spending time away together, praying in jammat and attending gatherings of remembering Allah together.

Parenting, by consciously attending to my children’s needs, cooking for them, eating together, taking them out without the stress of work and most important of all loving them and trying to be a good role model.

I didn’t have to stop being ‘me’ in fact I had more time to be ‘me’. Now, I am not saying quitting your job and taking care of your family is the answer to all of life’s problems but what I am saying is that we can only control that which is within our reach starting with ourselves. A good friend told me when I had my first child “Sort yourself out first and your child and husband will be fine”. At the time I thought she was being harsh and unsympathetic but I thank her today because I too would tell my loved ones to start with themselves first.

I wanted to share my experience with you all, for attending weekly Halaqah (martial arts) Alhamduillah I have been attending the Halaqah for almost 7 years now, without any gaps. I am benefiting very much. Seeking knowledge has transformed my life so much, each week each session would have an impact in my life, the very first lesson i ever attended was the series on hereafter, while studying the hereafter series I have taken away a lot of fruits for taught, as each lesson was being delivered I felt as though it was being addressed to me. I felt as if Allah was guiding me, telling me to sort out my shortcomings and as an individual I had many flaws and characteristics which is disliked in Islam. Each week after each session I would go home think very deep, there was so much with in me I needed to work on. Alhamduillah that was Allah plan to reform my character and cleanse me, truly I felt so blessed and I started my journey in the pursue of knowledge. This hadith made a huge impact in my marital life.

It was narrated that ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “I was shown Hell and I have never seen anything more terrifying than it. And I saw that the majority of its people are women.” They said, “Why, O Messenger of Allah?” He said, “Because of their ingratitude (kufr).” It was said, “Are they ungrateful to Allah?” He said, “They are ungrateful to their companions (husbands) and ungrateful for good treatment. If you are kind to one of them for a lifetime then she sees one (undesirable) thing in you, she will say, ‘I have never had anything good from you.’” (Narrated by al-Bukhari, 1052),

As women we tend to fall into this habit very easily. Got me thinking it does matter how much I pray my salah, fast the month of Ramadan, if I am ungrateful for one act towards my spouse, it may risk my chance of entering into paradise.

So I started to implement this hadith into my life, it was hard at first, I felt like Allah was testing me to see how I deal with the test, I found it very hard at first, kept making dua’s to Allah to help me with this character, it took about a year to drill this habit into myself, each time something went wrong, I would say-to myself to have patience and not to react. Alhamduillah for the past 6 years I managed to make an habit of not reacting, I guess having applied this hadith had a huge impact in life and my home, Alhamduillah it has bought a lot of peace and tranquillity into my home, I am grateful for the fact that my children are growing up in a home where the mother is not ungrateful, not appreciative and not having respect towards the father. This can have a negative impact on my children. I needed to change in order, to be a good role model for my children. This also has helped to me to grateful for all Allah’s favours upon me

Shapla Khatun

Life seemed to crash down on me!

How can I go on I felt like my whole life has crashed down on me! All I could think about is I have young children what do I do who shall I talk to? crying isn’t helping I need advice by the will of Allah I called a dear sister from Marital Arts she advised me what ever has happened between you and your husband don’t talk to anyone about it as this will make it difficult for you to move on later. She referred me to call and arrange a meeting with Islamic Council of Europe to seek advice from Muslim Marriage Advisor.

I am truly so grateful to Allah for sending me such an amazing person in my life who took time out of their life to help me to listen to me to hold my hands and Guide me to successful marriage. As I am writing this my tears are rolling down my eyes because I’m so grateful to this person for helping me thorough one of the toughest time in my life.

Marriage is one of the most difficult things to make successful all I know is that the women of Jannah didn’t attain Janna because they had an easy life they were tested and they were tried and they succeeded.

A World of Difference

Two years ago I was going through a turbulent time in my marriage and I didn’t know what to do. I had family members advising me to do one thing, friends pushing for the opposite and a great deal of internal conflict compounded by the emotional chaos I was experiencing at the time. To be honest I felt lost, and I just wanted to do something because I was so unhappy with where I was at that time.

One of my dear friends and someone I respect, Umm Talha from Marital Arts, took out the time and made the effort to help me through that tough time. And I emphasize effort because it isn’t easy to see someone go through their hard times, it takes strength and patience and clarity. Having her support in a time when I was between biased well-meaning family and friends, and my own thoughts was absolutely critical.  At your time of need, it makes a world of difference who you surround yourself with. Advice at that time can make or break you. The decisions taken in a time where you’re emotionally compromised can have consequences that span the rest of your life, they should be taken with care, given time and not rushed.

All marriages go through ups and downs, sharp fluctuations and moments of difficulty. There’s no shame in it, we all experience these times, and it’s perfectly normal to feel like you need help to navigate those times. This is where the vital work of Marital Arts comes in. The wonderful women at MA have created a judgement free space to come for help and find support in tough times. In a time where we no longer have the village of women and elders to carry us and share wisdom and encouragement, MA was created to fill that gap.

Whatever you’re going through, you aren’t alone, and you don’t have to handle it alone.