You’re Not a Scholar, Why Should We Listen To You?

“I’ve read almost all of his books, and I’ve never seen him say anything even close to that,” I said in response to the woman’s claim that a well-known scholar should not be trusted because he was involved in teaching some specific concepts that were contrary to the basic principles of Islam. “That’s because you don’t have the knowledge to …

What Is Forgiveness Exactly? Why Oprah Can’t Help Us

“You can’t dictate what forgiving and letting go of hurt looks like for someone else.” —excerpt of PAIN. From the Journal of Umm Zakiyyah The following is an excerpt from Umm Zakiyyah’s latest book The Abuse of Forgiveness: As I continuously faced forgiveness peddlers who effectively told me that I was a bitter, spiritually devolved person because I didn’t feel …

People Will Abandon You When You’re Hurting

The following are excerpts from Umm Zakiyyah’s latest books I Almost Left Islam and The Abuse of Forgiveness: In my fear of tying my heart and life to something that would harm my soul in some irrevocable way, I began to more and more distance myself from religious groups and communities. However, this was an extremely lonely experience, and I …

Anger Is Part of Healing, and That’s a Good Thing

“Neither forgiveness nor gratefulness can spring from denial of hurts, frustrations, or wrongs.”  —from the journal of Umm Zakiyyah If there’s anything I learned during my own healing journey, it’s that no good comes from denying natural hurt and anger. Some things are just hurtful and emotionally damaging, and they need to be acknowledged as such. Anger is a natural …

Abuse Is a Blessing, Muslim Cults Taught Me

Who’s going to listen to you? When I was asked this question for the first time, it wasn’t really a question. It was a taunt. And I didn’t really have an answer. The man taunting me was a community leader, a respected imam, who was bragging about how he was going to drag my name through the dirt. He listed …

Forgiveness As Fear and Survival: The Racism Hole

The following is an excerpt from Umm Zakiyyah’s newly released book, The Abuse of Forgiveness: Manipulation and Harm in the Name of Emotional Healing. It took me some time to realize that my emotional triggers in environments of forced forgiveness were at least partially due to having lived daily in a culture that taught me that only white people mattered. …

Guilting Victims Is Disobeying God: The Abuse of Forgiveness

The following is an excerpt from Umm Zakiyyah’s newly released book, The Abuse of Forgiveness: Manipulation and Harm in the Name of Emotional Healing. It is undeniable that God loves forgiveness. It is also undeniable that God views forgiveness as exponentially more superior than blame, punishment, and retaliation. Personally, I highly doubt that there is in existence a single survivor, …

You Can’t Legislate the Human Heart: This Isn’t About Rules and Adab

You cannot legislate the human heart, I once told someone. Emotional needs are real, as are emotional wounds. When our “naseehah” focuses on religious rules and etiquette more than the needs of the whole human being, then we’re likely causing more harm than good. In fact, in this case, our advice isn’t naseehah at all. If offering sincere advice were …

He Apologized? We Have No Idea What an Apology Means

“An apology, if it is truly an apology, is no more than a hope and a prayer—that the damage you’ve done can be repaired, and that you will be forgiven by both your Lord and the ones you’ve wronged. An apology should never be shared for the purpose of silencing or dismissing those hurt by the original transgression. If it …

He Wants To Marry His Wife’s Best Friend?

This blog was originally published via MuslimMatters.org When I first began writing what would eventually become the novel His Other Wife, it wasn’t about marriage or polygamy, or even romantic relationships. It was about emotional and spiritual abuse, and it started off as a single narrative blog inspired by a toxic friendship that I’d recently broken off after having endured …