By Khaula Siddique
We are really saddened by the increasing number of posts sent in concerning the deterioration of marriages. But this is the unfortunate reality of things in this day and age. And although it is the dreaded D word, we have to remember we shouldn’t be treating it as taboo, it is allowed by Allah SWT and we have to respect people for having tried their best.
So what advice can we give to the woman who is facing a divorce? First I have a piece of advice for everyone around her. Be kind. Please don’t ask if she was sure she couldn’t have tried harder, could have been more patient and wasn’t she worried about her kids? We have no idea what she may have been through or how hard it was for her to come to this decision or, in the case where she was one who was divorced by her husband, her intense feelings of being abandoned or rejected. Just be there for her. The sense of isolation a woman has to deal with is absolutely devastating when she is going through a divorce. This is especially true in our communities when women are held accountable and their faith in Islam is questioned. If you are not knowledgeable about what Islam has set down for divorce please educate yourselves and unlearn everything “culture” may have taught you. In no way is a woman expected to show “sabr” in the face of domestic abuse, and please remember abuse is not just physically hitting someone. It can be financial, emotional or mental.
What advice can you give her? First of all, let her know that she isn’t alone. Maybe you can’t be there in person, you can call to check up on her and you can tell her to call you if she needs to just have a good cry. Let her know it is okay to cry. It is okay to be angry and it is okay to feel hurt. At the same time, she needs to slowly start letting all of that go, it wasn’t her fault, it was just something that was inevitable and destined to happen. She needs to let go of it all for herself. And there will be good days and there will be really, really bad days. And that is ok. Things do get better, she will be able to move on. This is just one chapter.
Help her find resources like counselling, free legal advice, and in extreme cases a women’s shelter. The amount of misinformation and lack of practical information is ridiculously overwhelming. Organizations like Sakeena Homes and Nisa Homes are incredibly helpful. She needs to know her rights and her options. Not knowing is the biggest stress factor, she has to fend for herself and her kids. She needs to know her options so she can make informed decisions on what steps she thinks would be best for her. Maybe her decisions seem like the wrong ones to you, help walk her through all the possibilities and scenarios rather than insist on what you think may be best. No one will understand what needs to be done better than her for herself and her children, she just needs someone to help her navigate all the scenarios.
She needs to get herself financially educated. I find the biggest issue in our community is the lack of financial literacy and financial independence of our women. That is something Islam taught us but is grossly undermentioned -I blame the men. But also the women, we got so busy in the kitchens we didn’t learn Islam for ourselves. We just took what the men were saying as the whole story. They left out a lot of it though, didn’t they?! If women weren’t so financially dependent on men I think they would be a lot more comfortable setting their boundaries and not be so susceptible to the abuse they often bear for the sake of the children and or not becoming a burden on their own parents. My advice for every woman no matter what her circumstance or age, it is never too late, and it is not as hard as you think, teach yourself, you need to be financially literate. It is as simple as just knowing where your money is coming from and where it needs to go. The rest is self-restraint, smart shopping and putting something away for a rainy day. Every woman should have her own savings and she should invest. No matter what. But that is a long story for another day.
For all the well-meaning aunties, neighbours and relatives the best advice you can give someone you know who is getting a divorce is that they need to take care of themselves. Food, exercise, appearance, hobbies and social activities. They should not let themselves go as if the only meaning of their existence was for the man they were once married to. She matters, she is a living, feeling, wonderful being who matters. Now she just needs to find herself again.
About the Author
Khaula Siddique, artist at Khaula’s Art, has written for Dawn Pakistan and now paints stories on large walls. She loves bringing art to the community and achieves this through interactive art activities and public art projects. When she is not painting, she is over-indulging her large eccentric orange tabby who part-times as her critic and her muse. You can find her art shenanigans on her website, Khaula Siddique.com.
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