Season 4 Ep 4

The Productive Muslim Podcast


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You're listening to the productive Muslim podcast season four episode for

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productive Muslims. Welcome to the show. I'm your host and Ephraim Arif and I am back with another interview. So in this episode, I get a chance to catch up with sister, Asma Hussain, She's the author of the book, a temporary gift, reflections of love, loss and healing. So temporary gift is a record of journal entries written by a smile during the two years following the death of her husband, Mr. Kasim. So in this episode, we speak about how to deal with grief. Maybe you have lost a loved one or know someone who has, and are struggling to keep moving forward in this difficult time. So we speak about things such as how to cope with these feelings, what to do, what will avoid doing

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and hopefully provide you with a light of hope. And this episode is a part of a two part episode. So in this episode, we'll be discussing how to deal with grief. And in our next episode to be released next week in Sharla, we'll be speaking about how to support a grieving person. So please do stay tuned for that. Without further ado, let's get started. That's lovely commerce, man, how are you? I am, thank you for having me. I'm good on the law, how are you have the law I'm good. I'm actually in the middle of reading your book. And I was such an opportunity for me to be able to, you know, read your book and also speak to the author at the same time. So like,

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I'm really glad that we're gonna have this opportunity to talk. Yeah, I know that around social media and online, a lot of people are aware of your work. In fact, my team actually suggested that I interview you. But for those who are not familiar with your work, can you just give us like a quick background about yourself? Sure. So I'm from Canada, I was born and raised in Toronto. My background is Egyptian. And my my educational background is in social work, actually, it's not in writing. But right now what I'm focused on is writing. And it sort of happened, you know, quote, unquote, accidentally. So basically, I've always loved writing I've, I've had a blog for, you know, like, for

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many years, I started blog when I was a teenager, I was really avid writer, but I never really thought about pursuing it as a career. And then in August of 2013, my husband passed away. What happened after that is that one of the ways that I was able to process my emotions was through writing. And so I had write these, you know, short reflections and posts or an article sometimes, and I published them on social media. And then I found, I found a platform there where I could reach people easily and reach a lot of people. And people were interested in hearing my perspective, and how I was dealing with that grief. And it really all started from there. You know, my never really

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started out thinking, I'm going to write a book, or I'm going to do XYZ with my writing. I never started. It never started like that. Right? It just started as a way for me to express myself in a way that I needed to at the time. Yeah, that's, that's a little bit about me. Not too many details, but the important ones they think, yeah. So it's just like, you kind of just fell in, fell into it pretty much. And started writing. Yeah. And from there, your work just became viral. humbler? Like after, maybe like a year and a half of writing. I kept having people messaged me on Facebook, and even my friends when they would see me and in real life. And people would just be consistently

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asking me to publish a book. And I was just kind of like, Well, you know, I'm not really interested in publishing a book, but they just keep, they just kept asking me. And then at that point, I'm like, you know what, maybe if I were to put everything into a book and organize it in such a way that made sense as a book, maybe it would be a benefit tool, they can buy and read everything together instead of you know, having to rifle through all these odds and ends of Facebook posts.

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I decided, Okay, I started writing the book, started compiling everything that I've written, and adding stuff to it here and there. Man, that process took me maybe about a year to do and voila, the book was born. So yeah, well as if it's so easy to to publish a book, just Wallah. It was

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Yes, a your book. The temporary gift is like pretty much the book that a lot of people start read or gift to those who are going through like had a difficult time in their life and in the process of grieving. So just just around the topic of grief, and dealing with

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grief, I'd love to dive deeper into this area, especially since this is something that will be uncomfortable, it is a reality that many of us will face.

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And so what I mean, I know this is a very open ended question, but how do you actually deal with this? dealing with? Yeah, it's, it is a very open question. And because there's a lot of different ways that we can deal with grief, both positive and negative, there's so many negative ways that we can deal with the grief, and also so many positive and productive ways that we can deal with grief. I think the first thing I would say it's probably to almost not wait for that trauma to happen in order to deal with it. And what I mean by that is that

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we have to be constantly on this journey of learning about our faith and learning about our purpose on Earth. Yeah. So that when something like this happens, then it's not if it happens, it's a win, right? Because

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he's gonna test us like, it's just, it's a fact of life. And, like, at some point in life, you're going to be tested with the loss of somebody that you love, or the loss of your wealth, or the loss of your livelihood, or whatever.

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So, so yeah, one word tested, you have to have the knowledge like, and not just knowledge of how to deal with grief, but just knowledge of what our purposes on this earth, and who else kind of puts everything in perspective, when something happens to you? Yeah, for sure. Because a lot of times, you know, when people just ask me, you know, people messaged me on facebook saying, XYZ happened to me, how do I deal with grief? Or how do I do this? And it's, it's, it's hard for me to know, because sometimes, or many times, I don't know who this person is. And I want to start by telling people that we have to prepare for life by just consistently learning and consistently based in a state of

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worship, so that when something happens, we're not completely thrown off. And we're not completely, like anchor lis basic. Yeah. In a storm, you know, because when you're, when you're anchored in a storm, and you're just, you're just going to be pushed here, there, right? You're going to be controlled by your grief. Want to be controlled by your grief? Yes, it's like pretty much building that fortress for yourself. So that when tests do do come, I mean, you know, when that storm comes, you're able to withstand it better, as opposed to like, not kind of, like having something there? Yeah, for sure. For sure. So just this con, this idea of just consistently learning and consistently

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being a state of worship, that's number one.

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And then number two,

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like all sorta says in that a, I can't quote it exactly. But

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for those who are tested, I mean, when you respond by saying and then that human nature to him was wrong, you know, to to allow we belong into him, we're gonna, we will return.

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Those are the people who are less mantas pleased with essentially. So knowing the meaning of that, that everything that we have, and everything that we are and the souls that we that we love from this earth, everything actually belongs to the last pinata, you know, and that's part of the knowledge that that we were talking about, in the first point, that when you are certain about that knowledge, it makes the grief more bearable, almost, in the sense that you understand that this life is only temporary and that we're going somewhere, challah that's permanent. That's everything in perspective. Yeah, just think just you have to always remind yourself of the things that are going

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to put grief into perspective. Otherwise, all the other aspects of dealing with grief are essentially just band aids, like their band aids, they might make you feel better for a little while, but then, like, it's everything's gonna fall apart. So you have what do you mean by that? Like, I just mean that belief and lost belief in your purpose in life here and the belief and the knowledge and certainty that this life is temporary, and you're going to, you know, you're going to be rewarded for your patience, and you're going to be rewarded for what you do. All of that knowledge is like, to me is the essence of knowing how to deal with grief, it's the issue. And when

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you don't have that, or when you have none of that. And then you you sort of like you read a book about how to deal with grief, for example, just like from not from a religious perspective, just from like a psychological perspective.

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those strategies that people talk about, are band aids, like they're not saying they're not addressing that make sense, the issue that human beat like that you're actually they're not addressing the issue that you're temporary here. And this is, yeah, yeah. And your heart craves, that your heart craves that knowledge to know that, you know, last month I was watching out for you and to know that, you know, we have a purpose on earth essentially. Yeah. Because it's it's like those strategies are just like, fixing the situation now, but then the foundation on how those strategies are based. It's like, it just misses the whole picture that we're here.

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To test and unless model is testing us, and, and all those beliefs that we have that are essential in order to handle this better. Oh, yeah, exactly. Exactly. The you're looking at the whole picture of life and not just one. Yes. of it, you know? Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah. So that's, that's definitely number one. I think that's the most important actually. And then, the next step that I always, that I always think about is actually the reason I, I've come to this conclusion is because, you know, after my husband passed away, I, like I immersed myself in reading the Quran, because I found that it was one of the only things like literally one of the only things that would make me

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feel at peace. Like, I would feel almost helpless, because, you know, you like I always have this, like, really, I was just grieving so much and mourning in a way that, like, I didn't even understand how to handle it, because it was, it was the most painful thing I've ever experienced. I didn't know how to handle it. And the only way that I could, was by reading the Quran, and when I read the Quran, like, what stood out to me, almost more than anything else, in that period of time was just the stories of the prophets and the messengers in the, in the righteous, you know, righteous believers who, who went through tests that were so much more extreme and so much more painful than

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what I ever went through. And they always they felt what they needed to feel, they felt what they needed to feel, and they said what they felt. And they were never, they've never chastised for it. And, and one of like, one of the examples that I love is sort of mine when my money said, I'm like, she was shooting fish, she was pregnant, and she was given such pain. And she said, I wish I was dead. Like, just from the amount of pain that she was in. Like, I wish I was dead. I wish I was somebody who's kind of just like, somebody's forgotten, like, I like somebody in like a history book, you know, like, not even, not even that I had just died, somebody that was like, has died from

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like, a long time ago. And then like, the way that that,

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that allowed my response to her in the Quran in the story is, I think he said, he says, Do not grieve. And we've provided for you, you know, a river to drink from and then shake the tree and the dates will fall.

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So this idea that she was able to say that she was able to vocalize her pain, and she was able to feel just genuinely feel pain, without being without being chastised for it, you know what I mean? And then the story of Yaqoob, the prophet Yaqub, when he when his son went missing, essentially need to see him for years and years. And he, like he continuously was grieving continuously up until the point where he went blind because of how sad he was for not having he cried so much. Yeah, yeah. And then like, I don't I don't know, I remember reading somewhere that some scholars, some Tafseer scholars say that he was apart from his son for like, 40 years. So imagine leaving for that long.

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And the last time that I'm never saying, Okay, get over it or something. Yeah, that's enough grief for now, you know what I mean? And of course, like, in cases like that, it's not to say that you should, like remain miserable or anything like that. But I mean, we have to come to terms with the idea that we can feel genuine deep grief and sadness, and, and so many of these emotions that sometimes we deny ourselves, you know, like, we're told by our communities, we can feel grief, but only for like, this small sliver of time, or only in this particular way, we can only express ourselves in this particular way, or not at all.

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And if you're like, if somebody sees you A month later, and you're still sad, they're like, what's going on? You're not you're not a good Muslim, because you're sad, you know? And like, yeah, I mean, I've, I've seen, we've all seen things like that here and there, where we're told, don't be sad, don't be sad, you know, it's, it's not appropriate for a believer to be sad. And, and those, like, those kinds of quotes and those kinds of, like, little, I don't know, advices or whatever. I don't know, I find them to be really hurtful and really damaging. And there are people who after my husband died, told me, don't be sad, because, you know, he's inshallah his agenda and, and whatnot,

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or people saying, Don't cry, you know, don't cry too much. Because for whatever reason, you know,

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and, like, I don't think that we'll ever be able to really emerge from the darkness of our grief if we don't even let ourselves feel it to begin with. Yeah, yeah. So you're saying, feel those emotions. be sad if you need to, like if, if that's what's happening at the moment, you know, let let your tears fall like don't push him back because it's like, other people are telling you don't cry, and pretty much feel that pain, but where do you kind of

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Draw the line then. Because you mentioned something earlier about negative ways of dealing with grief. Mm hmm. Yeah, for sure. Like, like, of course, we have like, we have the Islamic guidelines, right? In the sense that even for example, for me as a widow, I have my mourning period, which is four months in 10 days. Yeah, right. And then after the four months, in 10, days, my life is supposed to go back to normal, right. And for me, like after the four months, in 10 days, I couldn't imagine my life going back to normal still, because like, before, it didn't feel like a long time. But like, I was still able to feel all those emotions. But my life went back to normal in the sense

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that I was out and about doing errands I was writing I was, I was just kind of living my life, you know, but living your life doesn't mean that your heart can't still feel sad, you know, and that's what we fought for a woman who loses her husband, that's four months in 10 days, and for almost everybody else who loses somebody who's not his or her. Or if it's not a woman who loses her husband. Yeah, the grieving period is three days only. And then after the three days, your life goes back to normal, you know, you go back to work, you, you deal with things if you're able to write. And that's I mean, that's meant to, you know, to keep life moving forward, and, and not make you

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stuck in a certain place. But because life goes back to normal doesn't mean that you can no longer that you don't have a right to feel grief anymore, or anything like that. But I think what it does mean is that you shouldn't, you shouldn't try to necessarily control your emotions, but you should try to soothe them by reading the Quran by consistent reminders and things like that. And also, you do have to try to control your tongue and your and your body, in the sense that, what do you mean by that? Like, you shouldn't be saying anything that that allows, data is going to be angered by or you should, like harm yourself, or harm other people. Because there are some some,

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some cultures

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where when somebody is going through like a loss of a loved one or something, they do harm themselves. Or like part of the process, they harm themselves, or they hit other people or whatever. And all that stuff is not allowed. You're not allowed to physically harm other people or yourself. But also you shouldn't be saying things that saying things like, oh, why did why did this happen to me? Or is Allah subhanaw taala being unfair or something like yeah, so anything that goes against our sponsors decree in the sense that like, because that shows that you don't trust Allah Spano, tala, or, for example, if you if you like, for example, me that I lost the breadwinner of the

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family, for example. I can't say, well, who's going to provide for me now? Yeah, that's true. What I mean, yeah, because seeing statements like that is indicative of you negating a lost contest plan for you, are you negating the fact that Allah Subhana, Allah is the one that's going to provide for you, you not being satisfied with, with what lost friends has decreed for your life, all of those statements

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are harmful, they're harmful to their health, they're harmful to you. They're conference, harmful to the people around you. And they're, they're not good for you draw the line. Yeah, they're not good for your heart. Because when you when you say things like that, you are going to, you're going to internalize them, you know, so you have to be really careful about what you say. And it's so hard. You know, when you're going through something like a trauma or grief, it's so hard to control what you what you say, it's really hard.

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But I would say it's one of the most important things, because what we say and what we do with our limbs becomes what we feel eventually, you know, and if you feel like, really, really sad and grieved, but you're controlling at least what you say, you know, you say you're saying in a lay on your own, you're, you're, you're praising the last moments of Allah and you're, you're speaking in a way that doesn't. That doesn't make you seem like you're dissatisfied with the last minute Tada, and you're consistently controlling your tongue in that way, then I believe that Allah found out I will eventually bring that assurance and like that, that certainty to your heart. Yeah, you know, because

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you're doing what you can, you know, and what, you're not necessarily able to control your sadness. You can't you're sad, you're sad, you know, you're not going to be able to there's no off switch on your heart. You know, you can't just press off it okay? I'm not sad anymore. No, you can't control that, but we can controls what you say what you do, right. So on this point,

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I remember how you were telling me that during your own grieving process, you were kind of since you were writing about this experience a lot of people actually told you are while you're dealing with a really well and you're speaking such good words and you're you're you're writing in a way that like, like such high Eamon and like you're fully accepting the decree and then when

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He actually spoke to me about that. Like when we spoke earlier, before the interview, you were saying that that wasn't exactly how you were feeling but how you wanted to kind of become. Yeah, that was very interesting to hear. I'd like to hear more on that. Mm hmm. That that's, that's exactly how I feel. And that's why, whenever people would like, praise me, I would always feel so uncomfortable and so awkward, because I'm like, they would say, oh, sister, you're an inspiration to me. And it's just like, it always feel awkward, but I just forced myself to kind of just ignore that and keep writing.

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And, and the reason the reason, the reason I said that, is that I was sort of keenly aware, I was really, really aware about saying things that wouldn't contradict,

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or wouldn't show that I was dissatisfied with the decree of Allah Spinetta.

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So I would write reflections. And I would be looking at them, you know, on my computer before I would post them and like, I would rearrange them and try to figure out a way to make sense of my situation, you know, the writing was a way to make sense of my situation. And it was almost like when I saw the words on a page, and I got to,

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like, move them around and try to figure out well, what's the meaning behind this feeling? Or what's the meaning behind that feeling? That process sort of helped me to understand my own emotions, and to understand how to,

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like how to, so kind of helped you create your reality, pretty much like, yes, how I'm going to do deal with that. Like, I'm not going to go down the path of being, you know, saying all these bad things and everything, but rather, I'm going to be speaking like this. Mm hmm, exactly. And it was, it was exactly what you said that I was trying to convince myself to feel a certain way. Yeah, like I was, I continuously said positive things, so that those positive things would be internalized. You know, it wasn't just just as I was trying to convince you the reader of a certain thing. At the same time, I was trying to convince myself of that same thing. You know what I mean? It's not like, yeah,

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my heart was like, so at peace all the time. And yeah, that that's the only thing you know, the words came out. And it's because I was at peace. No, it was I had a lot of turmoil, like inner turmoil,

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a lot of struggle, a lot of struggle. And the writing was a way to center myself, you know what I mean? So, yes, yeah, it was people. I remember my friend once, once telling me, oh, it must have been so hard to write your book. And I'm like, you know, what, it would have been harder to not write it. Like, it would have been harder to not do any of these things. Because this writing helped me more than it's helped anybody else, you know, so yeah. I'm glad that I mean, I'm glad that people have found benefit in what I've written.

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But I definitely did it for myself first, so that I could actually sit there and process my emotions and make sure that I was doing the best things. Yeah, seeing the best thing is that I could, well, that's a different perspective that we know, it's actually good to hear that, that it wasn't like this is this is something that another person can also do as well, like, if they're going through the same thing as well, that they can start writing and start to, like, kind of, like, shape up how they want to view their reality, even if they're not there yet. Yeah, for sure, for sure. And writing is, is a tool that that's used in therapy, it's, it's, it's, it's one of the tools that's

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used in therapy, it's actually, the act of just physically writing something is so therapeutic, because it's almost like you're reading your system of that emotion, or at least temporarily, you know, and it's, it's, it's now it's outside of you, and you were able to look at it, like on a page, for example, if it's writing that you're doing, you're able to physically look at it and, and try to figure it out like a puzzle almost. So

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it's very therapeutic. And definitely like this idea that, you know, people of faith don't struggle, don't struggle with grief, don't struggle with their faith. Yeah, that they think it's completely false. And that act of struggling, there's nothing wrong with that act of struggling, it's actually something good, but you just have to keep struggling and never give into to the darkness of grief and let it take over. Yeah, so it's not the struggle. It's it's more about how you're dealing with that struggle. That's what differentiates the people of faith and yeah, yeah, exactly. So thank you so much for sharing that we're actually coming near the end of our show. And I'd like to ask you,

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like, what are your final advice and final words that you'd like to leave to our listeners, especially those who are grieving at this very moment? What would you tell them? I would definitely tell them that there is light at the end of the tunnel. And it's so so hard to see it when you're in the midst of that pain. It's so hard to see anything positive. Like sometimes you're stuck

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In a place where you're like, I don't even know the purpose of my life anymore. You know what I mean? Like there's there's a place that you can go that's really really dark and I'm very paralyzed by it. Yeah, you become paralyzed and, like, it gets better. You know, like right now, like handed out, I'm over, like more than four years passed since my husband passed away and, like the way that I feel now versus the way that I felt

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even after, like six months after he passed away, it's completely completely different. You know, like, you will inshallah get to a point in your life where you can look back on, on the trauma and you can, and you've come to terms with it and you can actually, you know, embrace joy and embrace happiness in your life and, like, that's the mercy from Allah subhanaw taala. So if you're in the middle of something, just, you know, keep walking forward isn't as difficult and as dark as it might seem.

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And just try your best to remain steadfast and patient and last rounds, I was gonna reward you for that.

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Alright, so there you have it, our interview with a smile Hussein. So as mentioned earlier, we will be having another episode with a smile release next week in which we speak about how to support a grieving person. So look out for that one. To get in touch with our guests for today, or read her book a temporary gift, you can do so by heading over to our show notes productive Muslim calm, and then from there, you'll be able to find the details for that. So that's all for me today. I hope you enjoyed this episode, and I look forward to speaking with you all again. Till then remember, work hard and be sincere