What’s it Like Being a Single Muslim Parent?
August 8, 2022
It’s National Single Parent’s Day and in honour of the occasion, we've collected a few stories from single Muslim parents to share their unique and inspirational experiences with you.
Being a father is a blessing and being a single Muslim parent is challenging, but also very rewarding. I have to do everything for my kids and sometimes there’s no time to rest. Normally, I set up regular scheduled meals and bedtimes which helps my kids to know what to expect, but the most difficult part is doing my daughter’s hair. She wants her hair to look like a princess but I don’t know how to do it. I’ve taken her to the hair salon several times even though it costs more. Also, I have to teach them how to pray and read the Quran. It’s important for them to know about their religion and how to worship Allah (swt). I find it so hard to raise kids without a wife.
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SAYYED ALI AL-NAQAWI
My name is Ali, I’m 37 years old and live near London. My journey as a single parent began in August 2016. We lost my wife of 14 years and the mother of my son to breast cancer, a disease that we had been battling for the previous 6 years.
Being a single parent is exhausting and challenging, you realise all the things that the other parent took care of, which can be overwhelming at times.
The most challenging part is that my wife was the one who dished out the discipline, which automatically made me the fun dad. I did enjoy this, but the downside was that my son didn’t expect any disciplinary action coming from me, so there was definitely some resistance from his part.
There was a period where we clashed and didn’t see eye to eye as I tried to assert my authority and he carried on resisting and acting out in school, unfortunately at that point, there wasn’t anyone to force us to make up (mum). Alhamdulillah, we overcame that and really understand one another and have an awesome connection. I’d say we are more like friends than father and son and many others agree! My son turned 16 this year and will be leaving school and going on to further education, and I’m starting to see so many of the values his mother instilled in him, starting to blossom. I see her living on, inside of both of us.
When people hear that I’m a single parent they automatically assume that I’m divorced and that I hate my ex-wife, which is frustrating because I miss her and think about her all day; even three years later, I catch my mind wandering creating alternate universes in my mind similar to what we see in movie outtakes.
The thing that really annoys me at times is the famous line ‘so when are you getting married’ or ‘you need to get married!’. Hearing this is a real test of patience I find myself having to bite my lip from replying harshly to a genuine well-wisher who, deep down, wants me to forget the past and create a new future.
Some call me superwoman, some wonder how I am able to march on towards a direction, have goals and do it all with a positive vibe and clear focus, being present and enjoying every minute — the truth is it has taken a lot of learning, dedication, and faith.
Being a single mother of three, without any help from their father for the last 2 years has actually been a blessing in disguise. What seemed like ‘mission impossible’ has opened up doors that I never thought possible. I call it the “Finding Yourself Bootcamp!” — a life changing boot camp where you don’t really choose to be enrolled but you find to love it anyway. My perception shifted, my abilities expanded and becoming resourceful became my go-to response to everything. Some days are easy and other days I’m exhausted but I know that this experience will not only shape me forever but will give me the opportunity to impact on a deeper level.
There are some who would look at my situation and automatically have pity for me or think I must be miserable and unhappy because I currently do not have a husband. The truth is, that relationship was un-serving to me mentally, physically and emotionally — I lost it all when I chose to go at it alone but gained everything.
For some women, that point where you lose it all is the worst place to be in. You’re suddenly forced to take on so much while processing all the different emotions and dynamics. For me, it was especially hard as I was (and still am) a feminine woman forced to play both roles of father and mother for my children.
People tend to be intrigued and surprised when they see my zeal for life, resilient mindset, positively smiling through the most challenging mishaps, struggles and adversities. They ask me:
“ What’s your secret?” “Why are you still single?”
“ What’s your secret?”
“Why are you still single?”
I choose to stay single because right now I see the value in truly healing from my past and any traumas I am holding onto. Right now, meeting and standing face to face with the woman I really am is what I need more than a man. For the first time in my life, I truly understand that valuing myself and knowing my worth will be the key to attracting the right person into my life whenever it’s written to be. It’s exhilarating to know that I am operating my life on such an authentic level, my future Zawj will be seeing the real me without having any doubt or shame about what that may be.
What happens often is that women become chameleons and conform to something they are not just to get married quickly and not be labelled as a single mother and looked down upon as a divorcee. Not understanding that divorcees were empowered women who chose not to settle for less in the Prophet’s s.a.w time.
My secret is that I leave my affairs of love in Allah's’ hand, I let go and completely surrender to the Creator who will know best when or who I should marry without having to compromise on my core values or feeling less as a divorcee.
Being a spiritual person has been my antidote to any negative thoughts to being a single mum of three young children, 8, 5 and 2 and a half years old. I truly believe the more you surrender to GOD and just choose to work on yourself the more content you’ll become. Every single day I get up with that intention, which is why I am working towards the mastery of my craft. I am currently completing year one of a 4-year diploma in unani medicine, studying for my Masters in positive Psychology, coaching and running a coaching business.
Although, that sounds overwhelming — believe me even I think so at times, I know that with every hardship comes ease and nothing is forever — that is a message I am passionate about sharing with other women.
"How will you know when to settle? I often have women ask."
"How will you know when to settle? I often have women ask."
Personally, my life experiences — training as a life and health coach has given me some insight into relationship failures and successes, red flags, narcissism screening, natural male and female dynamics — an unconventional topic that interests me as equally as holistic mind/body/soul health. I believe everything is intertwined and an unhealthy relationship can sink some, if not all your ships.
Along with leaving the allocation of my zawj up to Allah, I have a specially written activity which includes having a “soul mate journal” where I have written down exactly how my future husband will make me feel, the conversational, emotional, physical needs I would want fulfilled as opposed to how he looks or what ethnicity he is.
It’s a beautiful process especially when meeting prospects because now you are confidently aware of what to look for on a much deeper level than just finding out surface level information. This is something that has even helped my clients to make quick decisions for their greater good and save precious time and energy while making the Halal dating process a learning experience instead of trying to fill a void by rushing to marry.
The secret is to be open-minded, but not compromise on the core values you look for in a person. To explain this further briefly, it is not material or superficial things like the type of clothes he wears but more so his level of God consciousness and perhaps political views for example. People tend to get stuck on societal restrictions in seeking a spouse when his character is completely un-assessed.
Ultimately, as “woo woo” as it may sound, I believe our thoughts create our reality, so I will continuously reflect back to the description of my Zawj to be, listen to my intuition which is when your gut screams out and with Allah's guidance only settle when a prospect makes me feel as mentioned in my soul mate journal.
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