Yesterday, I Cried

The following is an excerpt from the book And Then I Gave Up: Essays About Faith and Spiritual Crisis in Islam by Umm Zakiyyah: Author’s Note: This was written when I lived in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and taught English at an international school. It was one of those moments when you feel the tugging at your heart and the moisture behind your …

dark photo of female robot with artificial face partially off

When Religion Is a Weapon: Understanding Spiritual Abuse

emotional abuse. the etiquette of disagreement in cults and sects and in families who love you so much that they hurt you for their own good. —even if. The following is an excerpt from Reverencing the Wombs That BROKE You by Umm Zakiyyah: Spiritual abuse is arguably the least talked about form of abuse. However, in religious families and communities, …

sad Muslim woman in blue hijab looking down in dark sunlight silhouette

Why Many ‘Good Muslims’ Aren’t My Friends

triggers. gunshots to the heart when all is well —even if. “Lol.” That was the response I received from a fellow believer whom I trusted enough to ask if I was understanding her emotionally triggering message correctly. After she “laughed out loud” at my pain, she told me how shocked she was that I would even think something like that. …

Rainy dew image with Woman in orange hijab looking toward horizon

Entitlement and Ungratefulness Ruin Lives and Marriages

“Sometimes getting lost is the only way to find your way back home. Because before then, you didn’t even realize what was home.” —from the journal of Umm Zakiyyah So often when we are recovering from a difficult trial, we focus on what we lost. In this, we are like survivors of a severe storm returning to our home to …

Muslim girl in hijab looking sad near sunset over water and hot air balloon in sky

Stop ‘Time Wasters’ in Ramadan?

“You criticize me for my faults and choices, saying, “You should stay away from doubtful!” But what you label as “doubtful” in my life just might be my best efforts in holding on to my faith at all. Yes, I know my imperfections can be cringe-worthy at times. Trust me, I cringe more from them than you. But if you …

silhouette of trees by water with night sky and sad Muslim woman looking down with crescent moon above

Ramadan for the Imperfect Muslim

“I know I am not perfect, but no matter how many mistakes I make, I will not give up, bi’idhnillaah. I know my Lord’s Mercy is greater than any of my faults or sins, so I place my trust in Him. I will strive each day to be a better person than I was before. If I should fall short …

Umm Zakiyyah's hand writing in journal

Journaling Helped Me Find My Voice

baggage. everyone is carrying a story. but only a few will allow the pen to break their souls wide open. —even if. I started my first personal journal when I was fifteen years old. The diary was an Eid gift to me from a friend I’d known since childhood. I still have the journal today. It has a pink, cushiony …

side view of elderly Arab man with turban and pipe

Who Are the Real Scholars Today?

righteous scholars. you’ll know them by their compass that guides them and you. its needle has a single marking and points to only two— Allah and His Messenger sallallaahu’alayhi wa sallam. and you’ll know them by their mark they leave on you. it is a heart that carries the compass they gifted to you. —even if. There is a lot …

Can Muslims Take a Lesson from LGBTQ Groups?

labels and sects. please leave off your battle calls and self praise and your carefully crafted fiqhi art and when I ask who you are I want to be introduced to your heart. —even if. If you’re disheartened with the spiritual state of Muslims and would like to restore some form of meaningful unity and authentic practice, it’s important that …

Do Friends Need Prenup Agreements?

For years, I was a peacemaker to a fault. I would apologize even when I didn’t do anything wrong. I would apologize for things other people did wrong. I would even apologize when I saw someone hurting and had no idea if it had anything to do with me. I would even offer preemptive apologies, apologies issued before anything bad …