This blog is issued with a trigger warning. It contains references to child abuse and suicide.
“To Him we belong and to Him We return.” These sacred words are voiced when we hear of a Muslim passing away, and to believe that we return to the solace of our Lord is nothing but soothing and reassuring. How so for a woman who struggled with so much pain and abuse, abuse that shadowed her throughout her whole life and marred her youth and early adulthood with torment on every level: physically, psychologically and emotionally. This was the destiny of Sinead O’Connor.
Sinead O’Connor who was later known as Shuhada Sadaqat reverted to Islam in 2018 and passed away in 2023 at the age of 56. In her tweet she was quoted as saying:
“This is to announce that I am proud to have become a Muslim. This is the natural conclusion of any intelligent theologian’s journey. All scripture study leads to Islam. Which makes all other scriptures redundant,”Sinead, 19th October 2018
Much of her fame is owed to her music as well as her outspoken views on religion, feminism, war, and injustice. However, she also used her position to raise awareness of depression and mental illness. Shuhada spoke about her own struggles with having complex post-traumatic stress disorder (complex PTSD or c-PTSD or CPTSD) which resulted from the deep emotional scars of her upbringing. Her parents separated when she was young. Sadly, her mother was mentally ill and neglected Shuhada from the age 0-13 years. She was also physically, verbally, and sexually abused, ran away from home, and lived for a short time with her father before being sent to a ‘rehabilitation centre for girls with behavioural problems.’ When Shuhada was 18 years old, her mother died in a car accident.
When you learn about Shuhada’s upbringing in her most formative years, it was fraught with trauma and pain which later shaped her adult life with much of the same. Later in life she had a radical hysterectomy which fast tracked her into surgical menopause and a dramatic hormonal imbalance. She became suicidal which was compounded by losing access to her son who was placed in a mental health facility in his teenage years, and who in 2017, took his own life.
Shuhada knew she had the privilege of being able to afford and have access to professional mental health treatment and care, but she still expressed how hard the struggle was with mental health illness. Several TV interviews, tweets and social media posts were evidence of this and even her songs referenced elements of it and her childhood upbringing. Treating CPTSD takes intensive long-term therapy and only Allah knows how much it was able to help her before her passing.
How ironic that her most famous song “Nothing Compares to You” became the premise of her life, as although she was broken mentally and charred by the irredeemable mistreatment of others, she did not break spiritually, subhanAllah. What we see in this woman’s life, is a search for that incomparable, unfathomable power that took her through a deep, agonising, soul searching quest through other religions, adopting identities and personas that she thought would free her from the pain of her past, give her clarity for all the injustices of the world and soothe that broken brittle heart of hers.
Sinead finally found that incomparable power in Islam and became Muslim in 2018. Shuhada, a Muslim woman who showed the world that pain and suffering does not need to be lifelong, and that healing comes from high, from that incomparable power: “and there is none comparable to Him.” (surah 112, the Purity, verse 4.)
Her story is raw, brutal but very real. We may wince at the unconventional lifestyle of young Sinead but there is a deep mercy in her story. It teaches all of us that the way to Allah is open for all of us, that reverts with a difficult past need not be chained to it, and that when any of us slip into sin, that the door to God is open. Allah has many Names. Why? As humans we need to know that God is not only Good and Loving but that He is the Healer, He is the Forgiver, He is the Remover of Difficulties. Most of all, He is the Light. He lights our way out of all the darknesses. Shuhada, our Sinead, finally found her light.
Solace UK help revert women in difficulty and is familiar with the many struggles reverts experience. All revert women have to navigate their new Muslim identity, but it is sometimes made that much harder when they bring with them the pain and trauma from the past. Revert women do not erase the emotional scars from their previous life once they take their shahadah. Sometimes the transition from non-Muslim to Muslim can be ladened with complex difficulties. Unfortunately, the Muslim community is often unaware of the normal everyday struggles of a revert. But for revert women who struggle with deep rooted emotional trauma, the Muslim community is not only unaware but also unqualified to help. This intensifies a revert’s sense of despair, loneliness, and isolation. The Muslim community must not shy away from controversial issues that exist in our society or bury its head when Muslims (revert or born Muslim) are affected by them. Alhamdulilah, more Islamic mental health support groups and services are available, but more are definitely needed. They also need the support and backing of the whole Muslim community, not just in terms of financial support but to spread awareness and signpost our fellow Muslims to access the right support they need. Here at Solace, we offer revert women confidential 1:1 emotional support with trained support workers, who listen and guide them through their struggles and help them to strengthen their relationship with Allah with renewed hope and faith. For revert women who have experienced more complex trauma, we can refer them to specialised counselling to overcome the issues they struggle with, including childhood abuse, rape, addiction, domestic violence, bereavement, or obsessive-compulsive disorders.
The hope is for revert women to gain not only the best form of treatment for their emotional health and wellbeing but to also receive it from an Islamic psychological perspective. It is then possible to start on their own road to recovery and healing, bi’ithnillah.
The support needed by revert women does not come to an end once their life comes to an end. The support needed continues even after death. Every Muslim is instructed to write their last will and testament. This is especially necessary for a revert to express to their non-Muslim family how they would want to be buried, how their inheritance should be divided and who should take responsibility for their children/dependants/pets etc. Without a legal document expressing their final wishes and instructions on handling their affairs after death, their non-Muslim family may delay the burial, neglect the ghusl before burial, neglect the Janazah prayer and cremate their body or bury their body in a non-Muslim cemetery. At Solace, we understand that having an Islamic will can be hindered by the lack of knowledge or resources, and so we’ve created a will writing service to make it easy and accessible for revert women to have a shariah-compliant, legally binding, tax efficient will, and be able to plan for their passing by appointing guardians for their children, making sure everyone gets a fair share, as well as supporting any causes and charities they care about. To find out more, visit: solaceuk.org/wills
“All things perish, except His Face. His is the Judgment, and unto Him you shall be returned.”Surah Al-Qasas 28:88
While we know tattoos are not permissible in our faith, Shuhada had the words ‘All things must pass’ etched onto her neck from her days before she embraced Islam, which is poignant as we all know as Muslims, that nothing lasts forever – our pain, our difficulties and even our own lives in this world. Everything is temporary, except Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) who is Ever Living, Eternal (Al Hayy).
Shuhada Sadaqat (Sinead O’Connor) lived a very difficult life but as Muslims, we hope that she has now been released from that and we ask Allah to have mercy upon her and grant her the highest of Paradise, Firdous. Ameen.
If you would like to donate to Solace to help provide support to revert sisters, please donate here.
If you would like to know more about Solace and the work that they do, please visit our website: https://www.solaceuk.org/our-work/about/
Solace provides blog articles and videos on its website to raise awareness of the issues revert sisters face and offers support and encouragement. You can read more here: https://www.solaceuk.org/category/blog/