“Why can’t I see him? You let us last time Mummy,” Esra asked Sinead for the third night in a row. They had just put the younger ones to bed, but all through bedtime, Esra somehow found a way to ask the same question. How many more excuses could Sinead give her?
“Because he puts his hands around my throat, and every time he does, I truly believe the tightness of his hold means I won’t live to see another day,” “Because he mocks me and puts me down whenever I make an effort,” “Because he continuously tells me I’m a terrible mother and a terrible Muslim.”
Could Sinead ever utter these reasons to her daughter? Would she forever resent her mum for it, if she did? Her dad was good to her, but he was not good to Sinead.
“How could he be so different?” The split in his personality would make her question every aspect of her being, day and night. Every time Sinead had to let him near the children, the knot in her stomach would tighten until they were safely back in her company.
“What if he uses them to get back at me the next time? I know he loves them but would his hate over power that love?” the conversations in her mind continued. Sinead reminded herself what she had gone through in her session with Solace last week, “I have to remember my priorities; he’s away from us. Far, far away.” she thought, attempting to quiet the negative noise in her mind. “When the time is right, I will explain everything, I promise” Sinead whispered, hoping Esra believed her this time.
As Esra slept, Sinead put the kettle on, freshly boiled water as usual was her favourite. While it bubbled away, she couldn’t help but think of her sweet princess and everything her and her siblings were going through. She’d tried asking those from their local community for help but, nothing. No matter what she tried to do, she felt like an alien – sisters who she thought would always be in her life now seemed too busy to even meet up for a walk…or was there something more? Were they avoiding her? As if Sinead would ask for the impossible!
She understood their husbands were still friends with Mohammed, but if only they knew what he was really like at home. Even when she had tried involving the children in the events at the masjid, nothing – she still felt excluded because of her language, her colour, and now her situation. It seemed that the only time sisters wanted to speak to her was when they wanted to talk about how Esra “dresses now” – As if that was the biggest and only thing a Muslim sister could be concerned with – the way her daughter was dressed! It seemed to Sinead that these people would never understand anything outside of their own little bubble.
How could they? Sinead knew she wasn’t the best of Muslims herself, but she was certain this was not how it was supposed to be… or was it? Maybe they’re right, she thought. If she couldn’t even bring herself to get up for Fajr, how would she ever teach her children to become proper Muslims? She couldn’t recall the last time she had experienced a deep and connected conversation with Allah in her own salaah…
“Oh Allah. I want to do better. But I am so, so lost and broken,” her thoughts diverted. She grabbed one of her white teacups with green petals and gold outline which her late grandmother had given her, poured the boiling water in, stirred the tea bag, then added a splash of milk.
“Oh Allah, I really do want to do better,” her thoughts continued. She remembered that any mindful and heartfelt conversation with Allah was better than nothing, that she didn’t have to wait for prayer, or make wudhu. That’s what her suppport worker from Solace had said. To speak to Allah with no barrier. She sipped her tea, allowing her heart to settle into her unspoken words.
6.53am. The alarm didn’t wake Sinead up in time. As she rushed everything, she couldn’t help but think about how she knew she should have just prepped their snack bags the night before. Some croissants will have to do, she will deal with the teachers another time. Kisses and “love you’s” from all of them. “Allah protect them for me.” she whispered as she was leaving the school gates. Crossing the heavily congested road in the opposite direction to where she came from, she made her way to the bus stop. The bottom of her face slightly covered by a woolly scarf.
Oh Allah,” again, she whispered to herself, hoping her undefined plea would give her strength. She had been dreading going to work every day for the past year and Sinead felt utterly stuck on what to do. Darcie, her manager and antagonist had spotted her trying to make wudu in the ladies’ bathroom. Sinead tried to go during a time when she thought no one would be there, but Darcie as always, seemed to show up.
“Goodness, you’d think nothing was under that cloth!” She said in jest, almost sneering.
Her “friendly and harmless” comments never stopped. How could Sinead explain microaggressions when each one by itself could all be so small, and perceived as being in her head? How could she prove islamophobia when there was not a single other person at work who could understand or empathize, let alone take action? Sinead had not made wudu again at work since that incident.
But she was in inner turmoil – how could she be ashamed of being a Muslim? How could she be embarrassed to pray at work for this long? Her support worker had Sinead that other people had gone through this kind of thing at work too, and with her encouragement, she set herself the task that this week she would attempt praying just once.
“Today is the day, Oh Allah, that I will pray just one salah at work. One step at a time.”
Sinead received weekly support from Solace which helped her navigate through the multiple challenges in her life, all at the same time. She soon felt motivated to start praying 5 times a day, and took small steps to reach her goal including praying Dhuhr and Asr at work.
Through her sessions, she also found the confidence to challenge her senior colleague, Darcie, and raised grievances for which Sinead won. Through this, she was also able to raise awareness of discrimination, racism and Islamophobia at her workplace.
Mental, emotional and physical abuse.
Lack of support from the Muslim community.
Come to their aid on this blessed night through the following four ways:
Support revert sisters in difficulty on this blessed night and earn Allah’s pleasure and greatly multiplied rewards.
The Revert Stories are in aid of Solace UK’s “Be Her Solace” campaign, which are 4 simple ways you can give our revert sisters solace in Ramadan.
Disclaimer: These stories are derived from multiple real stories to depict real-life events and circumstances experienced by revert sisters. While the stories are based on real-life events, none of the stories belong or refer to one particular person. Full anonymity and confidentiality has been upheld in the writing of Revert Stories. Solace takes the privacy of its service users seriously. All names, characters, locations and events have been changed.
This Revert Story was written by Hadil Arman.