Author: In Shaykhs Clothing

Spiritual Abuse and Mental Preparation- Shaykh Tarik Ata

Spiritual Abuse and Mental Preparation- Shaykh Tarik Ata

Shaykh Tarik Ata

Shaykh Tarik emphasizes the importance of being prepared for instances of spiritual abuse. He shares that one of his own teachers would tell him about individuals using religion for self-gain. This prepared him to not be shocked when encountering issues of religious corruption. Shaykh Tarik shares different levels of practice we may see among scholars as well as verses in the Quran which illustrate religious corruption.


Tarik Ata was born and raised in the Southwest Suburbs of Chicago and pursued Islamic knowledge in Jordan. He currently serves as the Religious Director of the Orange County Islamic Foundation.


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kashf, spiritual experiences, and corruption: lessons and reflections from my tariqa experience

kashf, spiritual experiences, and corruption: lessons and reflections from my tariqa experience

The following account is written by a friend of mine. We studied Arabic together in the mid 2000s and then I lost contact with him. Some friends of his found In Shaykh’s Clothing helpful for the corruption they witnessed in Sufi tariqas and brought the work to his attention. When he looked at it, he recognized me, and from there we  got in contact and he shared his story. – Danish Qasim

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

This account is written to perhaps help those who have been at the receiving end of a very sophisticated instance of tariqa/shaykh abuse. There are some accounts out there that articulate in a much more adequate fashion the cult aspect of tariqas. This account is less about the systematic cult abuse of the tariqa and more about the personal charm, manipulation, and abuse of the Shaykh himself. It will help those who have witnessed kashf/kharq al-‘ada  with their shaykh along with abuse, and they struggle to combine the two.

This uncommon ‘spiritual’ ability is often mistaken for wilaya (sainthood) and account for the lingering on of murids around the shaykh, sustaining along the path not only traumatic experiences but also the real danger of leaving the fold of Islam.

Since the shaykh in question is hermit-like and not well known, and also since he has a very small group of followers left, mentioning his name is not necessary here. Therefore, all names, dates and places mentioned in the following account have been changed.

Finding the Red Sulphur!

I met my shaykh in April 2008. I had just recently arrived in an Arab country from the US looking to advance my Arabic studies. My Arabic teacher introduced me to this shaykh who had recently arrived from another Arab country. I was immediately struck by his presence. It was unlike any I had felt in my life: radiant face, majestic figure, beautiful voice when reciting, impressive sense of aesthetics and most importantly a proper scholar of Islamic sciences. He was a traditional Arab with an impressive sense of hospitality and generosity. Furthermore, he was from Ahl ul Bayt. You couldn’t ask for more in a shaykh. But the thing that really sealed the deal for me was when he told me something about myself that he should not have known: kashf, a spiritual unveiling. I had no doubt that I had stumbled upon the Kibreet al Ahmer or Red Sulphur, a metaphor for the rarest of the rare.

I took the tariqa with him thereafter and immediately saw the transformation. Friends and family members were all very impressed with the new me. Initially I had no plan to settle in the area, but after meeting the Shaykh and taking the tariqa with him, I was certain that my life was all about serving this man. I got married in 2009. My wife also became intrigued with the sheikh and she also considered him her shaykh- even though strictly speaking the Shaykh never took women murids. He did extend his tawajjuh (spiritual attention) towards her and she also started having spiritual experiences. These experiences ranged from seeing intense dreams to something called  واقع–a state between sleep and wakefulness– where you witness visitations from all kinds of interesting persons and things– light and dark. We interpreted the dark and scary experiences as an important block towards building deep spirituality.

Slowly I introduced a number of my friends to the Shaykh who also found him intriguing. Some became his murids. My eldest sister, who was struggling with finding a suitable husband, also visited him and immediately accepted him as her spiritual master. She would sit in a corner of the room asking her questions while he would answer without looking at her. His answers impressed her tremendously. She also started to have spiritual experiences. He would often send her phone messages when she was close to getting into a religiously prohibited zone. She was in the corporate world and would often find herself interacting with men. This baffled her. How can a person sitting thousands of miles away know what she is doing? It really boosted her iman and she got her life more in line with Islamic principles. I was not worried about the Shaykh having my sister as one of his “disciples” because he was very strict when dealing with women and would only accept communication with them through male kin.

Even though I was struggling financially, and had given up on pursuing my career goals, I was very happy and considered myself to be fortunate to have met a person who I thought only existed in medieval hagiographies.

2008-2010 were great years. I was having paranormal experiences (good and bad) that I ascribed to the Shaykh. I considered myself very fortunate to be receiving them. I was learning and transforming. My Arabic had become fluent by then. In fact, since taking the tariqa, I was immersed in learning with our Shaykh in Islamic sciences like fiqh, aqeeda, Arabic syntax, and logic. To his immense credit, he always believed that the exoteric sciences had to be mastered before the esoteric ones. He was offering the lessons for free at his home. What more could one ask?

Cracks start to appear

Somewhere in 2011 cracks started appearing (or I started to see them) on the Shaykh’s personality.  I started seeing contradictory and questionable actions from him. I was beginning to see these actions partly because I had acquired enough knowledge to judge right from wrong, and partly because he felt he was close to me so he started to be less cautious in words and actions. On numerous occasions he would tell someone about what I confided in him- to my utter embarrassment. I also started to see that he would backbite about the other brothers and would present his backbiting as “a valid criticism” of what was happening around him. This was especially true of any scholar that would visit him. As soon as they left, he would start criticizing them for their lack of knowledge or weakness in personality. We would also see him stretch the truth on many occasions. For example, we would be sitting with him and someone would come to his door and he would tell his son to tell the person that the Shaykh is not home. Feeling that we might question this obvious lie, he would often say “they come for mischief, so it’s better not to see them.” Who were we to judge? After all, we were in the presence of a scholar and wali who surely knew right from wrong.

Another event that made matters worse was the appearance of a new murid who was an online marketer by profession. He introduced EBay and Amazon and a host of other websites to our Shaykh. He did it for decent reasons I assume. But the effect it had on our Shaykh was quite catastrophic. This new murid and I began spending hours upon hours with the Shaykh surfing the web and looking for products. The time of the night that we used to spend talking about spiritual matters was now being spent on buying a range of products on EBay.

I did not make much of this new behavior, as strange as it was. For one, it was all mubah (permissible). Secondly, I thought it was possible that he was testing us so we better not fail him. Sometimes we would sit with him from dusk to dawn almost, and when reaching home, I could barely finish my 2 rakat Fajr prayer on my feet. Any doubts, I thought, were Shaytan’s whispering and I had to shut it out completely.

2011-2013: This was the usual state of affairs. Spending hours upon hours online shopping and less and less discussing spiritual matters. The lessons were also being suspended as he developed chronic nerve pain. But I did not make much of this as he would from time to time share his spiritual unveilings and blow our minds. The kashf was not frequent, but the nature of it was enough to have a lasting impact on us. Here are some of his astonishing feats:

      • Many times he would know that I was having an argument with my wife and he would call me while it was happening.
      • He foretold of a fit of anger I would have with a dear friend of mine a day before it happened.
      • He helped a friend of mine (who would go on to become his murid) with the location of an item his mother had buried but had since forgotten where it was, despite the fact that the mother was adamant that it could not be there. She was blown away by his GPS skills and considered him a patron saint for her family.
      • He also stuck a rod through the same murid’s cheek to show him the gifts bestowed on this particular tariqa. When he removed the rod, there was no mark from the piercing.
      • When my wife went into labor and the doctors said that the labor would take so and so hours. He said “they are off by 3 hours” and he was right. The baby was delivered around the time he predicted.

Events of this nature kept us in check and made us not see the other contradictory and questionable actions. He was increasingly saying many strange things, some of which we knew not to be true but hearing him say it with such certainty made us doubt our own senses and faculties. Here is a sample from a very long list of strange claims:

      • A certain political figure will poison another one to grab power in 2 months (a year passed and nothing happened)
      • This country will attack that country in 4-6 months (the time passed and nothing happened)
      • Saddam’s sons were not killed by Americans but were living in a French Riviera.

He would then change these statements and would not update us, while I was still propagating these tall tales to others. And when I would ask him about his former claims on a particular issue, he would simply say “I never made that statement” or “you misunderstood my answer”. I would not allow this obvious ridiculousness to dint my certainty. I soldiered on thinking this was all a test.

Furthermore, he would often criticize a famous shaykh for his ridiculous predictions about the future. Once this other shaykh told his murids to leave a country before a particular year because of an impending earthquake that year[1]. Some of his murids sold their belongings and traveled to other countries. When the year passed and no earthquake took place, that shaykh was asked about his prediction to which he purportedly answered “since some of you doubted me in this matter, Allah never made the event happen” (as if that is supposed to be a bad thing!). Our Shaykh was severe on this behavior from other shuyukh but now he was doing the same exact thing.

It was also around 2013 that our shaykh made me and the online marketer murid take a “special oath” with him. The special oath was about “undying loyalty and a helping hand in all noble causes”. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. I took this oath and felt like the most fortunate person on the face of the earth. The other murid was hesitant to take this oath but I assured him (to my eternal regret) that this was a blessing that we can’t pass on. Little did I know that I was setting-up myself for a series of sophisticated manipulations.

What comes up must come down

From 2013-2016 I went through some of the most challenging times of my life. I was broke with two children, living on handouts from my family. But most importantly I had spiritually plateaued, in fact more like spiraling downwards. The list of questionable actions, which was increasing by the day, was eating me up and I was fighting hard to keep it at bay. Backbiting, double-standards, lies, exaggerations and the suspension of the sharia whenever expedient was now a common theme in our interactions. My resolve and ability to fight doubts about my shaykh was getting weaker and weaker. I had lost faith in my Shaykh and it showed in my actions. But still I found ways to explain all this. One solution was to blame myself for everything. By 2016 I had decided in my heart that suluk or spiritual wayfaring was not for me. I was simply going to stick around to help my Shaykh as I had taken an oath to be with him come sunshine or rain. By now accurate kashf had all but ceased. Almost all of his predictions of the future, or informing us of our personal issues were inaccurate. By now, I was entirely feeding from the nostalgia of earlier years, the memory of which was becoming dimmer each passing day.

Furthermore, what was also discouraging was that by now many of his murids who took the tariqa from him started to leave him. Many realized (this was confirmed to me later) that not only they had piling questions about his ability as a murshid–but most importantly– they had serious issues with some of his ethics. A few were kicked out while others exited without much fanfare. All left without trying to discredit the Shaykh in any fashion (at least not publicly). What is painful to me as I write this is that I participated in the character assassination of many of these brothers simply because my Shaykh was feeding me information about them that made me lose respect for them. The Shaykh’s divide and rule strategy was another feature of his character that should have raised a huge red flag, but I simply refused to see it. He would often in private complain about the brothers in a way that would make you despise them. As a result I was always suspicious of the brothers. They were also suspicious of me as they saw me as his right hand man. No one in our small community trusted one another.

In 2016 he suggested to me and a friend- who was also his murid through my initiation– to open a company that would specialize in subcontracting in the Middle East. This was entirely his idea. He had claimed that we will make “millions” through this. I was skeptical about the “millions” as he had made similar claims about another business that I started which ended in abysmal failure. I had never asked him to do anything special for my business projects other than dua. Nor had I ever asked him about the prospects of a business project. I knew these were against the etiquette of a murid. He would himself voluntarily come up with claims about a “success” of this or that project.

My friend and I worked hard for the company. We did everything required of us yet nothing came of it. In fact, with every failure we were blamed for lack of effort or wisdom. The company was recently closed in 2019 as it was becoming a liability.

Another disturbing issue for me was that throughout the years the Shaykh played a strange game with my sister’s marriage issue. Now that I look back at it, it was almost criminal. If a candidate came into her life he would waste no time saying “he is a decent person, go for it”. Even though when I met them I found them to be dubious characters. We wanted to be cautious with something as sensitive as marriage. But for him it was about getting married as soon as possible regardless of who the candidate was. One candidate, as we would find later, claimed he was the Mahdi, yet the Shaykh would not mind entertaining him as a candidate.

The Shaykh would also ask for a loan and then forget about it. Time and again he would take loans and when asked about it he would act as having no knowledge of it. We still gave him the benefit of the doubt on this matter thinking that perhaps the tons of medication he was taking for his medical condition was affecting his memory. The total amount of money that we loaned him is in excess of 150k dollars (he has recently begun to pay a fraction of the debt he owned. This was mutually agreed. The rest we have forgiven him). Another 150K was used to buy him things that he fancied. My family has spent over 300k on this man and yet, believe it or not, we never held that against him.

The end is nigh

In early 2019 I realized that I had to get away from him. The object of having a shaykh is to get near to Allah and not away from Him. I felt that continuing with our Shaykh as my spiritual guide was a burden beyond my ability now. I could no longer put up with the ridiculousness of our relationship. On the one hand I had zero trust in his words, and yet I had to act like I was an obedient adherent. This is the exact definition of cognitive dissonance. But I had to exit in a manner where it would not stir any controversy, something I realized the Shaykh relished. Also, I did not want to cause him any pain as I still cared for him. He had become a father figure for me, and it is not easy to just quit out of the relationship. At this point I still did not think of him as a bad person. I saw the glass half full. I planned my exit and in June 2019 I left the country for good. Our relationship leading up to that point was at its lowest but it was still warm and cordial. I felt I did a decent job of departing with our relationship still intact, in contrast to other murids who left under controversial circumstances. I felt now was the opportunity to ponder on the next stage of my life and perhaps start things afresh. I am by nature a positive person and usually strive not to be overwhelmed by life. Little did I know that there is no such thing as a problem free departure from an abuser.

I should mention here that at no time did I give as much as a sniff to my friends and family about my real feelings towards the Shaykh. Since 2016 I had stopped bringing people to him, and the ones that were already his murids through my initiation were not given tall tales about his legend like before. Many were benefiting from him, especially those with long-distance relationships and it was not wise for me to rock their world. The Shaykh was a meaningful force in their lives, without experiencing the baggage that people like me–the full timers– were witnessing.

An incident transpired the very first month following my departure which proved to me that the Shaykh had become mentally deranged and that completely cutting myself from him was not only a desirable thing but a religious obligation. Once he realized that I had completely left him, he conspired to fabricate things about me to some of my friends who were also his murids. He changed facts about the recent incident and started telling many that I left him because I did not make money with my businesses. He poisoned the minds of very close friends to the point where some were emotionally manipulated–like I was many years ago– to accuse me of “deception” and lies. These friends were tourist murids, spending a week out of a year and leaving happy and inspired, mostly communicating with the Shaykh through copy paste inspirational quotes of awliya and emojis. They did not grind like me for over a decade, seeing the Shaykh from every possible angle. Despite all of these despicable actions from him, I still tried to reach out to him to ask for some sort of brotherly relationship empty of bad feelings. But for him either I was to be his murid or nothing. He cut me out completely. He did not even want to talk to me. I was too much of a liability for him. I knew too much. So for him discrediting my credibility was imperative to save his legend.

Here are some of my personal observations over the years. Some are self-evident. Others require some reading into normative Sufi literature. I have tried to block as much of subjective bias as I could, though it may not be entirely possible.

  • An abusive experience with a shaykh–after it is indeed established so– should not let one disregard the sacredness of this office or absence of other genuine shuyukh. The baby should not be thrown out with the bathwater. Having said that, a real murshid is indeed a rare thing. I have often seen those with a traumatic experience in a tariq denying the entire tradition as “fake” or “unlike Sunnah” etc etc. To me this is as problematic as those who exaggerate and aggrandize the status of their shuyukh as infallible saints.
  • A murshid, even if a wali, is not safe from veering off the path. There is no such thing as a guaranteed wilaya throughout a lifespan. This is only reserved for the Prophets (upon them be peace). So we should always form our views on people from the present perspective and not the past.
  • Karamat and kashf take a back seat to the sharia (sacred law) as a measure of a murshid’s credibility. If a shaykh slanders others for no good reason, then his supernatural powers are nothing more than cheap tricks. Imam Abdul Wahhab Sha’rani says: it may occur that a so-called Shaykh in this age will hear something [about others] and relate it to nearly everyone he sees, even if what he relates will lead to the ruin of lands. Meanwhile, people will say, ‘we were told such and such by one of the Awliya’ who is beyond reproach’. They call him a Wali, but he is a corrupt sinner for spreading gossip (namima) and ruining relations between people. (Abdul Aziz Suraqah translation)
  • The sincerity of a murid can also take him/her spiritual places even if the murshid is not up to the task. Not all experiences should be ascribed to the shaykh. Furthermore, if a murshid is connected to a legitimate silsila, then the barakah of the silsila often carries the murid despite shortcomings of the murshid.
  • We judge the teachers based on the framework they inform the murid before taking them. It is not fair to keep changing the frameworks. Murids should be sufficiently informed of what they are getting themselves into. Changing frameworks to suit the murshid is a sign of an unstable murshid.
  • Your bay’a with a shaykh should not force you to stick around for the rest of your life if you have legitimate grievances. Leaving one shaykh for another has been common practice in the past, contrary to the common held beliefs in our times.

It is not advisable, in my opinion, to seek murshids that engage in psychic activities. Sufi luminaries of the past have advised to be extremely careful with these types. These are the folks who do not shy away from flexing their fortune-telling, mind reading, dream-interpretation muscles. It is not far-fetched to believe that the psychic types could be connected to some paranormal entities like the Jinn– without the former necessarily knowing it. They get their news from these entities who can appear in various forms/visions and misguide them. I personally believe that this probably accounted for fortune telling that our shaykh indulged in. He would get some right and most wrong.


Allah Knows Best




[1] This was confirmed by a former murid of the shaykh.

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The Journey of the Dark-Skinned Student of Knowledge

The Journey of the Dark-Skinned Student of Knowledge

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

By Ustadh Muhammad Ahmed

To the dark-skinned student of knowledge, I say to you: “Don’t be disheartened by the racism you may find, even if it is within the circles of knowledge.”

I begin this post with a reminder for the young black or dark-skinned Muslims who have undertaken the study of their deen. The reward is immense, and there is much to be gained out of following this sacred path. Despite the reward, there is an essential core aspect that can dishearten even the most eager of students. This was something I encountered myself while on my journey.

I am currently studying a rigorous 6-year course in traditional Islamic Scholarship. I am in my final year and have developed a strong bond with various teachers and students. I don’t feel like an outsider or someone being treated poorly.

I am such an ‘insider’ that my peers and even teachers don’t have a problem making anti-Black comments in my presence.  Often times, it has to do with ‘black’ being used interchangeably with ‘ugly.’  In one of these incidents, a student made a duah for one of his friends that roughly translates to “May Allah give every scholar a white wife and those who oppose them a black wife.” I responded to the student saying that he should not use ‘Black’ in this way. Unfortunately, a few others, including our teacher jumped to his defense saying ‘Perhaps he did not mean it in a racist way, but just that people usually prefer to marry white women.’

Soon enough, other classmates jumped into the fray, explaining to me and another Black student how they weren’t racist, and ‘how the group just likes joking with us and we were all friends.’

Last year, a guest speaker was invited to our institution to speak to the students for spiritual upliftment and general advice. As I listened to the speaker, I noticed how the speaker kept mentioning Bilal’s ( رضي الله عنه) skin tone. Basically, saying that despite his being Black, he was such a great Companion of the Prophet ﷺ. He kept describing his skin tone as a defect, as something wrong with him that he had to overcome to be an amazing companion. He mentioned the other companions but never once mentioned their complexion. I found myself getting upset, and not wanting to sit in the “spiritually uplifting” speech any longer.

At that moment I recalled all the scholars throughout my studying days who also made comments about me being Black, or uglier, or ‘not as beautiful.’ This was mentioned nonchalantly, as if it were just an accepted fact.

I found myself remembering all the times when another Black student and I in the class, felt hurt or singled out because of students or teachers discordantly mentioning our race. I remember when anti-Black jokes like the  previously mentioned duah, would be shared or some other belittling comments against Black people would be made. It made my face flush from embarrassment, and my heart race from disrespect. I just wanted to focus on my studies like the others, but instead, I would feel on edge the moment when color would come up, the anxiety that jolted through me whenever the word ‘Black’ came up in Arabic, hoping it wouldn’t turn into a discussion on race and beauty.

I began thinking back to the tafseer given to explain that White was better. I remembered the jokes bantered about, claiming I should make myself whiter to look prettier. And all the while, I had to remind myself that these weren’t just jokes by immature, ignorant students, but from people I had respected and continue to recognize as Scholars of Islam. These so-called ‘jokes’ at my expense were made so offhandedly, as if I wasn’t there, as a Black student of theirs. Sitting there, listening to that speech, I found myself reaching a level of anger that I had not felt in a long time purely due to the constant reminder of Bilal ( رضي الله عنه) color.

The talk ended and in my quelled anger, I made my way back to my room. A couple of days later, one of the older Scholars of Hadith came to teach us, and he said something that really hit my heart. I had not told him of this incident, but in class, he spoke about people giving speeches, and how certain things being said were incorrect. This is a man who I have seen weep at the mere mention of the Prophetﷺ, someone who I believe holds the Prophet ﷺ  and his Companions (Radhiyallahu Anhum) in high regard, along with the utmost love and respect.

That day, he mentioned the way people talk about Bilal (Radhiyallahu Anhu) in their speech. This had been his second time over the last few weeks he addressed this issue. He mentioned that some speakers mention Bilal and describe him as short, Black, and talk about the shape of his nose. Then he asked, “Who forced you to describe Bilal ( رضي الله عنه) in this way?  Just say he was from Habasha.” The time before this, he said that ‘if we hear people speak this way, slap them in the face.’

He was genuinely outraged, and his anger and indignation quelled the burning rage in my heart. I was pleased to hear a scholar of the tradition speak against the cultural and social racism that exists even in his own religious circles. His actions to speak out against falsehood were a reminder to me, that when someone truly understands their deen and truly appreciates the Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ then this is something he or she will understand and defend.

My message to the people attending the Mosque or institutions of study––don’t let the attitudes, comments, and cultural brainwashing you will unduly face turn you away from your desire to study Islam and connect with Allah. There is good and bad in everything, and I had to come to terms with the fact that this is something I will have to deal with even though it hurts deeply. As Black students, we will deal with racism both in our home countries and abroad, and I have to remind myself that my goal is to study Islam. I cannot allow someone’s ignorance be the reason I let go of my path to becoming closer to Allah.

I know for a fact, Black people and people of color have experienced worse when attending mosques or programs. My hope is that, inshallah, they find a way to work through it and continue down their road of studying and learning. That being said, we have to also make sure we are creating a safe space where everyone, people of all complexions, will feel comfortable coming to the masjid. This starts by learning and being willing to understand others.

When Abu Dharr ( رضي الله عنه) made a negative comment about Bilal being black,  The Prophet ﷺ  told him that he was someone who still held jahiliyyah (ignorance) in his heart. To most people, this may not seem like a harsh rebuke, but we have to recognize that they were Muslims at that point! They were no longer considered to be part of that jahiliyyah, and the Prophet ﷺ  equating his behavior to the unbelievers was a direct statement about Abu Dharr not being complete in his spiritual transformation. The Prophet ﷺ made it clear that anyone making a racist comment is still stuck in the ignorant customs before the light of Islam. This filled Abu Dharr with remorse and he quickly went to Bilal to make amends, where he was forgiven and enlightened.

Allah states in the Quran that He made us into different tribes and nations so that we may know one another. The question we need to ask is: Are we even trying to know one another? Are we trying to understand the nuances of different tribes and nations that Allah, The Almighty created and placed us in?

When we speak about Bilal ( رضي الله عنه) or any companion of the Blessed Prophet Muhammad ﷺ , we must make sure we are talking about them in the utmost respectful manner. These are the people who struggled, and gave their lives in propagating and acting on the religion of Allah and his Messenger ﷺ . Allah is pleased with them, and they are pleased with Allah.

Yes, you will find racism and this disease of the heart in many circles. This is a problem dating back to Shaytaan himself when he cited that he was better than Adam (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) on the basis that he was made from fire, and Adam from clay.

To the Black student of knowledge, the Black Muslim attendee, the eager Black Muslim who attempted to come back to the path only to be shut out by racism, or anyone who has encountered such bigotry and hatred within Islamic circles: remember Allah loves you and the Prophet ﷺ prayed for you. Remember that you have a responsibility to get closer to your deen. Let no one obstruct you from your path. Do not let the same ignorant individuals who hurt you in this world set you back in the next. Persevere and continue, no matter what evil comes your way. Inshallah, for every hateful comment or hurtful word uttered about your skin or race, Allah will grant you bounties upon bounties for your patience.

Next time you hear a racist comment, whether it be directed at you or anyone else, speak up and let the deliverer know, even if they are your teachers, that racist or anti-Black humor is not funny. It is not ‘just a joke’ ––it is not casual fun, and it is never acceptable. Ask them to reflect on why what they said is so hurtful to you. And most of all, tell them not to hide behind ignorance and bigotry, and to uplift their own Islamic standards instead of chopping away at yours.

Ask them why White converts aren’t told stories of Suhayb al-Rumi to validate their being White and Muslim. Ask why Pakistani and Indians don’t feel excluded from being normalized Muslims despite there never being a Sahaba from their race. Ask why Islam spread to Malaysia much later, but Malaysians are accepted as normalized Muslims. Ask why we, as Black Muslims, who actually had Black Sahaba and Black Islamic civilizations and Black scholarship still need to be validated through Black Sahaba to be accepted as natural Muslims.

The problem of our existence in Islam does not reside within us, but within the jahilya that still exists unforgivably in the hearts of many of our teachers.



Have you been affected by spiritual abuse in the Muslim community and would like to share your story or need help?  You can email us at


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Advice for Mothers on Worshipping in the Last 10 nights 

Advice for Mothers on Worshipping in the Last 10 nights 

By Ustadha Ammarah Bholat

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Ramadan is a time to spiritually cleanse ourselves, to build our taqwa, get rewards and blessings, and build a stronger connection with Allah. Of the days and nights of Ramadan, the most valuable are the last ten, with the greatest night of all being Laylatul Qadr. Worship on these nights gives us the opportunity to earn more rewards than we could in an entire lifetime.

We all look forward to experiencing the last 10 nights. We carefully plan and set high goals before they begin. However, some mothers are disappointed when they realize how difficult it is to get some time for ibadah (worship), especially when faced with an overwhelming amount of chores and managing children. 

As mothers, we may ask, “what about my spiritual health, my connection with Allah?”

It’s important to remind ourselves that we also have to dedicate time for our ibadah. If we neglect our spiritual selves completely it could have a devastating effect on our faith. Furthermore, children will learn from our own examples, and when they see us prioritizing worship they also grow in veneration for acts of worship. 

We must avoid going into excess of just spending time doing chores to the point where we treat chores as more important than our religious obligations and spiritual growth. Although it can be hard to find the time and energy to make the most of these days, do not lose hope. There are still many ways that we as mothers can increase in ibadah and benefit from the last ten days of Ramadan.

1. Make a plan and set a routine

Structure your time so you are not haphazardly going about your days and just trying to fit worship in. Things will come up, but if you have a strong intention and firm routine, inshallah you will be able to maintain it. 

Imam Ghazali explains in The Beginning of Guidance:

“Your time should not be without any structure, such that you occupy yourself arbitrarily with whatever comes along. Rather, you must take account of yourself and order your worship during the day and the night, assigning to each period of time an activity that must not be neglected nor replaced by another activity.”

Have a simple meal plan ready for the next few days. It’s important to get all family members on board. I recommend setting up a family meeting with all members before the last 10 nights begin. Have some activities set out for your children also. Look through your schedule and find the time that your children are most calm and dedicate that time for worship. 

2. Even small moments matter 

As mothers many times we tend to wait for that large chunk of time where we have no distractions. We can all agree that this type of opportunity rarely comes! So instead of waiting, take every opportunity you find. If you can’t read one chapter, read half. If you can’t complete that then even one page. But don’t deprive yourself of good actions all together. The fiqh principle is that, “If something cannot be done completely, it should not be left completely.”

So whenever free of pressing responsibilities, even if only for a short amount of time, engage in worship. Even if you manage to only read a verse of the Quran it is worth it!

3. Make a Duaa List

During these final moments of Ramadan, we should pour our hearts out to Allah (swt) as much as possible. After an exhausting day it may become very difficult to remember our duaas. Set aside some time to write a detailed duaa list and have that on hand during the last 10 nights. 

4. Involve your kids 

Have your children pick out different acts of worship that you can engage in together.

The Prophet said, “Whoever points to the good has the reward of the one who performs it” (Muslim). Even if it seems that teaching your child Surah Fatiha is something small compared to others who are completing multiple Quran recitations remember that every good action you teach your child is a continuous sadaqah being recorded for you. You are also setting the tone in your home for the importance of worshipping Allah. What greater thing can a person do than raise a believing and God-fearing soul in love with Allah and his Messenger?  

5. Increase in Dhikr

Engaging in dhikr and reciting Quran that we have memorized while doing our household duties will allow us to remain occupied in worship and will also bring barakah into our homes. If you are a nursing mother, engage in dhikr and reciting Quran while nursing your child.  This will have a positive spiritual impact on your children.

 6. Don’t be shy to ask for help!

If you have family support, find times in the day where you can count on your family to help with the children. Parenting is a shared responsibility between both parents. Allah tells us to have a spirit of helping one another in attaining piety (Quran 5:2). The most important people to help are your own family, and keeping meal plans simple, sharing household chores, and time with the children is a great example of helping one another in attaining piety.  Asking for help will help prevent us from being burned out.

7. Keep a positive mindset

Not everyone will have help around the house, and some will have to work while fasting and taking care of children alone.  We can take inspiration from Fatimah, the daughter of the Prophet . She spent a large portion of her time handling household chores and raising her five children. There is a reason why the Prophet   described her as the “Queen of All the Women in Paradise.” So if you ever feel overwhelmed or disheartened by not being able to worship as much as you wanted, remember that paradise is attainable through multiple paths. It’s not easy to go through Ramadan, while everyone is busy with worship, and you’re so occupied with your children. It’s easy to become disheartened when we feel we are not reaching our goals.

Ramadan while raising children and breastfeeding is not easy at all. However, remind yourself that as a mother you’re on a special route of worship. Don’t be disheartened if you aren’t able to achieve all your Ramadan goals. Your child may require nursing throughout the night, and you may not read all the Quran you wanted, but you are doing a great service for your child by nursing.

Have faith that Allah won’t allow your tears, your effort, your exhaustion, and your good intentions go to waste in Ramadan.


Related article: Worshipping While Menstruating During the Last 10 Nights of Ramadan

To contact Ustadah Ammarah and to learn more about her classes please email

Ustadha Ammarah was born and raised in Los Angeles CA. At a young age she travelled to England to pursue an Alimiyyah degree in Islamic Sciences. Over the next 6 years she studied Tafsir, Hadith, Fiqh, Aqeedah, Usul (foundations of jurisprudence), Arabic Grammar and gained guidance from many esteemed scholars of England. During this time she received ijazaat from scholars in the Islamic Sciences with isnād (a linked chain of the prophetic traditions from herself to the Prophet) in numerous books of hadith. Since then she has been involved in teaching Islamic Studies and lecturing in various mosques across the Bay Area.

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Worshipping While Menstruating During the Last 10 Nights of Ramadan

Worshipping While Menstruating During the Last 10 Nights of Ramadan

By Ustadha Ammarah Bholat

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

The sage Ibn `Ata’illah al- Iskandari mentions in his Hikam, “When The Real (Allah) knew of your boredom, he diversified for you acts of obedience.”
لما علم الحق منك وجود الملل لون لك الطاعات

Allah created different ways of worshipping Him so we may spend all our time in worship. Allah praises those “Who remember Allah while standing or sitting or [lying] on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth, [saying], “Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You [above such a thing]; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire” (Quran 3:191). 

There are times in the day when it is sinful to pray and there are times in the year when it is sinful to fast. For a woman in particular, there are days in the month where due to her menstruation cycles she cannot pray or fast, but she should never feel as if the door of worshipping Allah is being closed. Rather, other doors are being opened for her. In reality there is so much that a menstruating woman can do to fill her days and nights with Ibadah (worship). Below are five acts of worship our teachers recommend and that I teach to my own students:

1.  Find a replacement ibaadah for her Salah. 

During menstruation a woman can not pray, which leaves a large gap in Ramadan as she is not able to take part in Fardh, Taraweeh, Tahajjud, and all other voluntary prayers.

Ibn Abdin mentions in Raddul Muhtar that the overall recommendation is that a menstruating woman make wudhu for each prayer time, sit in her usual place of worship, and make dhikr for the time it takes for her to normally pray so that she does not lose her habit of worship while in this state. In Ramadan a woman should sit even throughout Tahajjud time and Taraweeh time and engage herself in different acts of Ibadah

2.  Connect with the Quran

Yes! A woman in menstruation can still spend as much time with the Quran! Although in many schools of thought a menstruating woman is not permitted to recite the Quran, she may and should listen to the Quran as much as possible. She should ponder over the meaning of the Quran, connect with each verse, understand its meaning, and recite the verses in her heart. A good book to help the non-Arabic speaker do this is Ma’ariful Qur’an by Mufti Muhammad Shafi Usmani.

It’s important to note that in the Maliki madhab a woman may recite Quran without touching the mushaf (physical copy of Quran), and when for the purposes of study she may even hold a mushaf. 

3. Dhikr, Duaa and Durood (sending prayers upon the Prophet ﷺ)

The 3 D’s! 

I) Dhikr of Allah is one of the best ways to cleanse and purify a person’s heart. 

My teacher Shaykhul Hadith FadhlHaq Wadee would mention that increasing our dhikr illuminates our hearts and increases our desire to do good actions. This is crucial for a woman to do during her menses so she does not experience a decline in her spiritual state. 

 II) Duaa If she finds it challenging to sit in duaa for a large portion of time then there are amazing duaa compilations [such as Hizbul Azam and Munajaat Maqbool] which provide beautiful duaas that she can recite. With each word she is beseeching and calling upon Allah and with each word she is strengthening her relationship with Allah. 

  III) Durood – Sending salutations upon the Messenger of Allah ﷺ is amongst the most virtuous acts of worship. She is rewarded, her sins are forgiven, and most importantly it increases her love and connection with the Prophet ﷺ. 

It was narrated that Ubayy ibn Ka‘b (may Allah be pleased with him) said:
I said: O Messenger of Allah, I send a great deal of blessings upon you; how much of my du‘aa’ should be sending blessings upon you? He said: “Whatever you wish.” I said: One quarter? He said: “Whatever you wish, and if you do more, that will be better for you.” I said: One half? He said: “Whatever you wish and if you do more, that will be better for you.” I said: Two thirds? He said: “Whatever you wish and if you do more, that will be better for you.” I said: I will make all of my du‘aa’ for you. He said: “Then your concerns will be taken care of and your sins will be forgiven.”

4. Seek Knowledge

She can read an Islamic Book, review lessons, or study with a teacher if possible. Yahya ibn Abi Kathir said, “Studying sacred knowledge is a prayer.” Sufyan al-Thawri and Shafi’i said, “There is nothing after what is obligatory that is superior to seeking sacred knowledge.”

5)  Find the beauty in submitting to Allah’s commands

Ibn `Ata’illah said, “No matter is difficult if you seek it through your Lord. Nothing is easy if you seek it through yourself.” Seek through Allah and you will be granted; seek through your own might and you will be seeking for a long time. It is not unlikely that through the blessing of submission and sincerity Allah will open up unimaginable doors of good for you. Allah knows well how much you would like to fast and perform Tarawih. You are worshipping Allah, just by the situation you are in. Our teachers would say: “Her praying while pure is an act of ibadah and her refraining from prayer while menstruating is also an act of ibadah. All of it is counted as worship.” 

May Allah give us all tawfiq and accept our worship.


Related article: Interview with Ustadha Ammarah Bholat

To contact Ustadah Ammarah and to learn more about her classes please email

Ustadha Ammarah was born and raised in Los Angeles CA. At a young age she travelled to England to pursue an Alimiyyah degree in Islamic Sciences. Over the next 6 years she studied Tafsir, Hadith, Fiqh, Aqeedah, Usul (foundations of jurisprudence), Arabic Grammar and gained guidance from many esteemed scholars of England. During this time she received ijazaat from scholars in the Islamic Sciences with isnād (a linked chain of the prophetic traditions from herself to the Prophet) in numerous books of hadith. Since then she has been involved in teaching Islamic Studies and lecturing in various mosques across the Bay Area.

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