Monthly Archives: September 2014

The Greatest Sacrifice: Giving it up for Allah

1385516_607210809318183_1222861769_nThe month of Dhul Hijjah is upon us and stories of old are retold. These stories are not just bed time tales but lessons for us to reflect on. These lessons have the capacity to change the lives of those who deeply ponder upon them. There are also many signs today for us to be inspired by. We only need to switch on the TV and see the swarms of pilgrims from every corner of the globe, gathering together for the sake of Allah. Rich man standing shoulder to shoulder with poor man, black man foot to foot with white man. Each of them robed in two white garments of humility. A beautiful spectacle for the blessed eye to behold and an amazing sight for every one of us to see; the unity of the Muslim ummah.

One of the most poignant stories for us to think about is the story of Prophet Ibrahim, as, and his beloved son Ismail, as. Prophet Ibrahim held a strong love for his son, Ismail. He was strongly affectionate towards him and they shared a special bond of father and son. So when one night Prophet Ibrahim was inspired by Allah through a dream to sacrifice his beloved son Ibrahim became troubled. Ibrahim went straight to Ismail to tell him what he saw in his dream and to talk about what they should do. Allah tells us about this;

And, when he (his son) was old enough to walk with him, he said: “O my son! I have seen in a dream that I am slaughtering you (offer you in sacrifice to Allâh), so look what you think!” He said: “O my father! Do that which you are commanded, Inshâ’ Allâh (if Allâh will), you shall find me of As-Sâbirun (the patient).”  Then, when they had both submitted themselves (to the Will of Allâh), and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (or on the side of his forehead for slaughtering);  And We called out to him: “O Abraham! You have fulfilled the dream!” Verily! thus do We reward the Muhsinûn (good-doers). Verily, that indeed was a manifest trial. (37:102 – 106)

As you can tell from the above verse, Ismail readily submitted to this dream, believing this was the command of Allah and that they should both submit. Allah did not want Ismail to be killed but He wanted to see if Ibrahim was willing to carry out this command. This was a great test. Allah chose the most beloved thing to Ibrahim; his son, and asked him to slaughter him. Allah wanted to know if Ibrahim was willing to give up his son, never to see9f86f979e5343870785ec459e052d6e5 him again in this life. So when Ibrahim was about to lower his blade upon the next of his son, Allah replaced him with the ram. Year after year we are reminded of this story so that we can be left with a burning question – what are we willing to give up for the sake of Allah?

Allah was asking Ibrahim to give up something halal, something good, a prophet of Allah, his beautiful son. What about all those things Allah asks us to give up? The difference between the test of Ibrahim and our test is that Allah is only asking us to give up the things that are not permissible and those things that are not permissible are never good for us. All those things we need to stop doing are damaging us and those around us. Yet we are holding onto them, unable to give them up. We become addicted to those harmful things believing we need them and unable to control our urges. We need to turn this around.

Look at Ibrahim. Allah commanded him to give up the most treasured thing to him and he was willing to give it up immediately. Ismail was willing to give up his own life to carry out this command of Allah! These two amazing Prophets need to be our role models. Allah is asking us to submit to Him and give up all the things that get in the way of that submission. Has not the time come for us to shed ourselves of our addictions and turn back to Allah. When better to do this than during the ten best days of the year? Maybe we have slipped since Ramadan left us. Now is our chance to throw ourselves back into our dean and try again. These ten days the rewards with Allah are maximised. We pushed ourselves during the best ten nights of the year in Ramadan, so how about we start striving now during the ten best days? It’s time to start slaughtering some of our bad habits!

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Time of the month?

womens health 1It’s that time again. We feel hot, our moods are up and down, we might feel like crying or shouting or both. As stress levels are heightened when we are due on our period it can be quite difficult to know the difference between a craving and Pre-menstrual stress – PMS. If we look at some of the symptoms of PMS we will realise that they can often be very similiar to the way we feel during the build up before a relapse – anxious, angry, stressed, headaches, cravings, tearful, wanting to be alone, sleep disorders , argumentative etc. Sound familiar? In early recovery our emotions are already imbalanceddownload (1) and therefore during our time of the month we need to be aware of the differences.

As women in recovery from addiction we need to take extra care of ourselves before and during our periods as this can be a vulnerable time and relapse prevention is vital. It’s important to be open with those around us too, like our partners or other family members that we are feeling a bit low so that they can understand this is a difficult time for us.

We do not need to suffer this each month. There are many ways we can reduce our symptoms of PMS and these ways also serve well as relapse prevention strategies. Here’s a few for us to consider;

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Not all of us are luck enough to have someone in our lives ready to give us a massage, as suggested in the picture to the left. But there are many things we can do to take ownership of our emotions and well being.

1) EXERCISE: Research shows that regular exercise lessens the symptoms of PMS. In some cases it has been known to lighten the menstrual flow and helps keep the cycle regular. Delayed periods often occur where we have been using substances or suffered from eating disorders. Moderate exercise brings the balance back to the monthly cycle. It also produces feel good hormones called endorphin’s that lift mood and help reduce stress by burning off excess adrenaline. So even though we may just want to curl up on the sofa, the best thing for us is to be active.

peace love and chocolate2) BALANCED DIET: This is actually very important for those of us with an addiction. Many women crave sugary foods like chocolate or ice cream before or during a period. However, although these types of food may offer a short term sense of relief in the long run they dodownload (2) little to help alleviate some of the emotional difficulties we suffer from at this time. Sugars cause us to feel temporarily uplifted but can often be followed swiftly by a crash, causing us to want more sugar. As addicts in recovery this may be confusing for us the body becomes tricked into believing it is craving our drug of choice. We need to take responsibility for this in early recovery, choosing iron rich foods such as green vegetables alongside a balanced diet.

3 SLEEP: Generally we feel weaker during our monthly cycle. Wherever possible we must try and get to bed early and establish a good routine. In fact, this is highly important for all addicts in recovery. Being awake at night is often the time we are most tempted to relapse. Allah tells us in the Qur’an that He has created the night for us to rest and the day for work.

10-Daily-Spiritual-Things-You-Should-Do-During-Ramadan4 CHARITY: You may be wondering why this category is here. Well this was the advise of the Prophet Muhammad, pbuh, to his wife Aisha, ra. He advised her that during her menstruation she should give in charity so that she may reap in the rewards while she is not offering the 5 daily prayers. As addicts, prayer may be an important part of our daily routine that keeps us in recovery. During our period we are no longer taking that time to sit and reflect or to consciously think about Allah. Sometimes our eeman (sense of faith or spirituality) may feel like it’s disappearing. We begin to lose or connection with Allah and that can cause us to start thinking about using drugs again or carrying out our old behaviours. Giving in charity or doing some kind of good deed will help us to reconnect back with our Creator. Other forms of worship we can engage in are listening to talks on YouTube or reading Islamic books. It is important that we do not completely disengage from our Islamic way of life just because we are not praying, otherwise we may lead ourselves wide open to relapse.

These are just a few of the things we can do to take responsibility for our recovery during this vulnerable time. I hope some of you can add a few more things below. I hope this has helped raise awareness of this subject and importance of taking care of ourselves.

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Traffic Lights to Recovery – Islamic Relapse Prevention Technique

Traffic-lights-in-use-before-motorcarsWhen cravings set in one of the ways to try and overcome them is to think of the traffic lights system. As we begin to crave we go into red mode. We are on high alert to anything in our environment that could aid our relapse. In red alert stage we need to find a way to get into amber – that in between stage where anything can happen – we either go through that red light or we assess ourselves, slow down and get ready to go forth back onto the Straight Path of recovery. This is how it goes…

The Traffic Light System to Combat Cravings

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STOP!

RED ALERT: You are craving. Your body is responding to the thoughts of using or carrying out your addiction. The heart is pumping, nausea may be setting in and your stomach is churning. This could go either way – You are going to either give in to your desires or you are going to reign them in and overcome this craving and stay on the Straight Path to Recovery.

The first thing you need to do is remember Allah in what ever way you can. Seek refuge in Allah from Shaitan (say ‘authoo billahi min ashaytanir rajeem’), recite Qur’an (in particular verses known for expelling shaytanic thoughts like ayatul Kursi or the 3 Quls) supplicate to Allah by asking for His Help. The one who remembers Allah when they are about to sin, and then chooses not to carry out that sin due to the love or fear of Allah, they will receive a reward for having held themselves back. Cravings are irrational thoughts, by remembering Allah and considering out status before Him, we bring the conscious mind back into play and are able to then make a rational decision what to do next, insha’Allah.

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THINK!

AMBER STAGE – The cravings have not entirely left yet, but perhaps are gently subsiding. This stage is important because now we have consciously made a decision not to engage in our addiction. This is the time to do something else instead. Just as you would when approaching a red light at the traffic lights – SLOW DOWN and think about your next move. 

What will keep us safe? We have already sought help from Allah and admitted to ourselves our own bad intentions. Now, maybe, we need to verbalise this with a supportive friend or relative, maybe a sponsor from N.A or another good candidate. By talking about our urge to carry out our addictive behaviour we are taking the steps to ensure we close that door. While in the amber stage this is also the time to do something different. The best way to overcome a habit is to replace it with a new one. Maybe we can go for a walk, hit the gym, read a book or take a long soak in the bath. Whatever we choose to do, we need to make sure it is going to help us change the direction in which we were heading.

GO!
GO!

Green for Go! So you nearly slipped, you almost relapsed but you didn’t! Praise Allah, thank Him and then show your gratitude to Him by serving Him. The Straight Path is one, we are either on it or we are off it. Alhamdullillah we did not give in to our cravings. We did something different to what we normally did in our addiction. We overcame our desires and stayed heading to Allah. Now we just need to do that every time! Allah is with us. 

So next time the cravings set in – Remember the traffic lights

  StopThinkDo something different

By Lynne Ali-Northcott (Addiction Counsellor)

Naltrexone and relapse: Shahnaz’s Story

My name is Shahnaz. I have been married to my husband for 10 years. He has been addicted to heroin and crack for the majority of that time. He recently managed six months of clean time. Prior to that we were on the brink of separation, perhaps even divorce. But Allah is The Best of Planners and I guess the consequence of losing me causedimages (1) him to rethink where his life was heading. He got some help for himself and had a Naltrexone implant put in (an opiate blocker that means he cannot feel the effects of heroin). But the trouble is, the implant only lasts for three months and when the first implant began to wear off he relapsed. He quickly picked himself up again and a week later got a second implant put in. But again, as it began to wear off, he relapsed again. That was a few days ago.

662438_5743525_lzI have been ignoring him since then. I guess if you opened this post in the hope of learning a way to cope with relapse then you are disappointed. I do not know if I will ever be able to cope well when my partner relapses and I need some advise myself. It really knocks me down. I feel so depressed and angry. All kinds of thoughts go through my mind. I get images in my mind like a movie where I see myself punching him and hitting him, sometimes baseball bats appear. I guess when I have these angry feelings and realise Shaitan is getting me more worked up so what I do when this happens is seek refuge in Allah  through duah.

It’s amazing how I could feel in love with him before the relapse. Things are going well, our relationship is good, we communicate and I laugh and feel relaxed around him. But the moment I realise he has used, or I become suspicious that he has, all that love seems to evaporate. I get feelings of hatred towards him. I hear myself saying “I hate you, I hate you” and call him names in my mind. Sometimes, it’s sad to admit that I will text him horrible things and call him names in anger. Again there is Shaitan spurring me on and I fully understand what Allah is telling us in The Qur’an when He says;

“Satan’s plan is (but) to excite enmity and hatred between you, with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah, and from prayer: will you not then abstain?” (05:91)

I really get that. It’s like love turns to hate in a split second. I despise him sometimes when only an hour before I was in love with him. download (1)

I hate the fact that I change as a person. My aim is that I can still be the real me whether or not my husband us using drugs or not. Why do I allow my mood to change just because someone else is sinning? Why do I feel like slipping in my own worship? I just end up doing my obligatory prayers, I fall into a state of depression, go to bed ultra early because I just want to shut out the world, swear my head off and use really bad language. Then I just end up feeling guilty! Which makes me feel like burying my head under my pillow even more.

Then the worst part of a relapse is the way I am angry with myself. Why am I still here? Why am I sticking by him? Why did I give him another chance? Why oh why oh why?! I begin to really beat myself up. “Stupid me. Stupid!” I begin to hate myself, I think about self-harming, and in the past when he was really bad in his addiction there were moments in time when I could have joined him in his drug use. Shaitan really worked hard on me and
download (2)the more stressed I got the more I would think of taking all that pain away just like my husband does. I would feel so angry and ask myself “why does he get to numb himself out while I live this life and put up with all this stress?” but alhamdulillah my faith in Allah stopped me, but I know of other wives who were not so strong. I feel said when I think of those women who joined their husband in the drug use, or would go out clubbing with him just because they could not fight any more. Alhamdullillah I thank Allah that I never went that far – but Shaitan didn’t half try to get me to.

I’m scared. When there is a period of clean time and things start to go well, I see a glimpse of what life is like without drugs in our world. When relapse happens I get afraid that it will all be gone. Its like seeing your helium balloon disappearing into the sky and you watch it slowly fade away into the distance. It’s like everything in my world becomes all about drugs and addiction again. For a while I got to forget about it all. I let me defenses down. I allowed my heart to soften and the brick walls around it fell away and I allowed my husband in. There was romance. There was good times. But drugs destroy all that. So now I am scared that a little relapse, a ‘one off’ as addicts like to kid themselves into believing, can so easily turn into a full scale rock bottom. And that is scary. what shall i do-

So here I am today. What shall I do? Will this be the way things are every time his implant wears off? Am I willing to keep on with this new cycle? Am I willing to live three months of happiness and then suffer a relapse in between? Is this going to be my new routine? Is this what I must accept? Is this all just a temporary fix to our marriage? Naltrexone – the temporary fix. What comes next? I do not know. I just have to turn to Allah and ask for guidance, just like I did with every other relapse during the last ten years. Every step of the way I need to try and keep my faith firmly fixed inshaAllah and pray to Allah that He shows me the way.