By Umm Yusra
Have you ever spent all your nights and days making du’a for one specific thing? I mean crying your eyes dry in the darkness of the night, asking Allah to give you something? I have!
And Alhamdhulillah, by the infinite Mercy of Allah, He subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) answered my du’a. She’s called Yusra.
This is a deeply personal post and I didn’t think I could ever have written about it. But I want to now – for other sisters who might be feeling what I felt. It’s about being a wife, a woman and not being able to have children. For various reasons, including cultural/societal, family, individual desire, as women we want children. It’s an innate human need.
But when this want or need becomes desperation it can lead to unhappiness. Over time you can even start to resent yourself. I’m not saying every woman feels like this. But I did. Not always, but I had my moments.
So here’s my story. It took me just over 5 years to conceive during which time I made lots of visits to the hospital, had tons of tests done. If anyone is aware of the NHS in the UK, they know, it was a very lengthy process. I hate hospitals. I’m not a great fan of talking to medical professionals, especially about personal female related things. But it had to be done. SubhanAllah, I can’t truly express how scared I used to be the night before each appointment. After many checks, embarrassing conversations, nasty treatments and painful surgery, the doctors finally told me they didn’t know what was wrong. It could take a few months or many years for me to conceive. Or never!
However, this post isn’t about the medical side of things. This is about a woman’s heart. A heart that at times can deal with the entire world and its burden, but at other times it just stops and cries. And nothing in the entire world can wipe away those tears. That’s how I had become. I was at an awkward age where I felt time was clicking away. I was surrounded by all these lovely sisters who held their beautiful babies when I met them. And I had family members who never actually said anything about me not having a baby, but I knew they would look at me thinking, what’s up with her. It might have all been in my head, but it was there. And I was living with it daily.
Not having much confidence whilst growing up didn’t help, and with the addition of yet another thing, it made me feel there was something ‘wrong’ with me. It was extremely silly of me to look at things this way but when we are at our weakest and shaytan is constantly whispering to divert our intentions, we can think in all sorts of ways.
As the years went by the pain somehow got worse. I mean the heartache. I think what hurt the most was knowing that because of me, my husband was losing out on being a father. That feeling of not being able to give someone something – something that would bring them happiness – can become very burdening. Like most men, my husband isn’t very expressive. He never actually said much about this, which I think at times made me feel worse even though I knew I was reading too much into it. But alhamdhullillah he was there. He was there on those nights I would cry my eyes out and blabber on about being sad.
Although it was a test for both of us, I think I was the weaker one, therefore I didn’t deal with it very well. But as the heartache increased so did my duas. And that’s what I want to share here. Through this journey of seeking motherhood, I now realise Allah gave me the perfect opportunity to gain closeness to Him subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He). This closeness didn’t come about based purely on my desire for a child. It was the realisation of Allah’s Mercy, Kindness and Plans that brought about closeness. I made it a point to not only look for specific duas but to read the translation and the tafsir too. Through doing this I learnt so much about how the pious Prophets were tested in the same way. I remember one night crying so much from reading about Prophet Ayyub [as] losing all 14 of his children overnight that the pages of my mus’haf got wet.
What I didn’t realise is that the more I read about the prophets and their tests, the heaviness in my heart decreased. It sounds extremely selfish, but for the first time in my life I was truly able to appreciate that the prophets were also human and carried the same emotions you and I do. I’m not saying that before this I thought they were all magical creatures that felt no pain. I think I used to think they were able to deal with it better so maybe didn’t feel as much pain. The truth is that they did, but what made them better is their steadfastness. They never doubted Allah’s Decree and they continued to make du’a.
The first 10 verses of surah Maryam bring me a level of comfort that nothing else does. Reciting them and then reading about Zakariyyah’s [as] plea to Allah for an heir – subhanAllah my heart understands that plea, it feels the pain in the words. And so, the more time I spent learning from the Qur’an about how Allah tested His subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) prophets with the test of childlessness, the better I was able to keep myself composed when I felt sad. My heart still felt pain, but it no longer felt stupid. I loved my Creator more than ever for allowing me to be tested in this way.
Not being able to have children doesn’t make you any less of a woman. That is probably one of the most important lessons to learn when understanding tests and tribulations – that it isn’t the test that determines who you are but the way we react is what makes us who we are! As Muslims, no matter what comes our way we must remain firm in our belief in being a servant of Allah, and that is our only true identity.
Alhamdhulillah, Allah showered His Mercy upon me and granted me a child but it doesn’t mean I am no longer tested. We must know that until the last breath we take, we will be tested. We may be tested in all kinds of ways in life, but we will be tested. Some of us are tested in matters of money, others with health and sadly many of our ummah are tested with the severity of absolute tyrant rulers.
If you’re a sister experiencing anything similar to what I did, then please know my dearest sister, you’re not alone. Know that many before us were tested in the same way and know that others who may have been blessed with children are being tested in different ways. What brings comfort is knowing that it is not what befalls us that shapes who we are, but that it is a Decree of our Creator subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) that helps us turn to Him in our time of need.
Don’t lose hope, know that the real reward is with Allah. We might be given what our heart desires in the dunya, but what awaits us insha’Allah is much more superior. Imagine how lovingly Allah looks down at His servant when the servant shows sabr when facing a calamity.
Those 5 years of my life were difficult and very testing but looking back at it now, I know that is when I turned to Allah in sincerity. Something I may not have been able to do if I wasn’t feeling the pain in my heart.
Use what you are tested with as a means to gain closeness to Allah (my mother’s words), and then insha’Allah the burden doesn’t seem too heavy even though it is still there. From all the stories in the Qur’an and my own experience, I now know that the most important aspect of du’a isn’t when it’s answered, it’s the conversation you have with Allah, the one where you’re destitute and He is Supreme.
May Allah help us with all that He sends our way.
Below are some duas from the Qur’an that sisters can recite insha’Allah.
O my Lord! Grant me from You, a good offspring. You are indeed the All-Hearer of invocation. (3:38)
O My Lord! Leave me not single (childless), though You are the Best of the inheritors. (21:89)
Our Lord! Bestow on us from our wives and our offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and make us leaders for the Muttaqun (25:74)
My Lord! Grant me (offspring) from the righteous. (37:100)