By Mariam Ahmed
Getting through your `iddah (post-divorce waiting period) is probably one of the most challenging experiences a woman may endure in her life. Whether or not you were the one who initiated the divorce, it can be a time of much confusion. You may second-guess your decision, you may be trying to reconcile with your husband, or you might find yourself in complete isolation. I personally was trying to reconcile, and it was a very difficult time because I could not get myself to accept that, for him, it was final. I found myself constantly reaching out, thinking of a solution, reliving the good, blaming myself for the bad, and in retrospect, all of what I did only held me back from my own healing and moving on.
I would try speaking to friends and family, and I saw a therapist regularly. Seeing a therapist helped because it allowed me to process what happened, and I had a safe space where I could share my thoughts, feelings and emotions without the fear of being judged or misunderstood. However, the only thing I found true comfort in was salah (prayer). I had several friends around me at the time who were either going through a divorce or had been divorced for some time. I sought their advice, wisdom and tips on how to move on with my life. At times it felt good to know I was not alone, but other times, it only seemed to further ignite the emotions of how much I did not want to be going through what they were going through or had gone through. I tried so hard to do anything to fight “being divorced,” and I could not accept that I was indeed already divorced.
Going back to my comfort in salah. Many people’s iman (faith) fluctuates in life during normal circumstances and day-to-day challenges even without the agony of a divorce. So for someone dealing with such great loss in their life, your iman may and probably will be up and down. I had to accept that this was normal. With all the pain you feel on a daily basis, you want to hold on very tight to whatever brings you comfort, of course as long as it is healthy for you and enriches you as a person. Salah was my platform to speak my mind without worrying about anything. I spoke to Allah, subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He), five times a day, sometimes more. I would cry and pour my heart out. I still find myself making du`a’ (supplications) during my commute to and from work, especially on days when I feel defeated.
I remember the day I was divorced, I went to the masjid (mosque) to pray maghrib (evening prayer) and stayed for `isha (night prayer). I picked up the Qur’an and read the Chapter of Divorce. I had never really looked into the surah (chapter) in much detail before that day. And I came across this ayah (verse):
وَمَن يَتَّقِ اللَّهَ يَجْعَل لَّهُ مَخْرَجًا
“And whosoever fears God and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out [from every difficulty].” (Qur’an, 65:2)
The `iddah is the stepping stone for you to prepare for your new life. If you and your spouse are able to reconcile on terms that work for both parties, then alhamdulilLah (praise be to God) that is a beautiful thing. In the chance that reconciliation does not seem to be an option, or if you or your spouse are firm on the decision to part ways, then you need to work on healing. Far too often, community members try to aide in the reconciliation, and they lose focus on what is actually best for the two people at hand. The “shame” that is associated with divorce, especially for women, has to come to an end, and the conversation needs to be shifted towards creating and maintaining healthy marriages and towards proper spousal selection.
Take the `iddah as your own “me” time. Busy yourself with work, school, a hobby, something you once wanted to do and never had the chance to. It sounds so cliché, and I hated when people would tell me to pick up a hobby—it actually used to make me very upset. But know that staying busy and having purpose is a huge part of keeping you sane and allowing you to move on. Having once shared your life with someone else and now not having that comfort is not an easy thing to endure. It takes time to get used to your new life. But you will get through it. And Allah (swt) will grant you better than what you lost. You may not see the light at the end of the tunnel right now. You may feel like your life has come to an end (some people even become physically ill from the heartache). Just know that Allah (swt) is All-Knowing and aware of every struggle, hardship and pain that is inflicted on you. He will provide when you least expect it. You will see that light once again.
وَيَرْزُقْهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لَا يَحْتَسِبُ وَمَن يَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ فَهُوَ حَسْبُهُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بَالِغُ أَمْرِهِ قَدْ جَعَلَ اللَّهُ لِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدْرًا
“And He will provide him from [sources] he could never imagine. And whosoever puts his trust in God, then He will suffice him. Verily, God will accomplish his purpose. Indeed God has set a measure for all things.” (Qur’an, 65:3)
And I leave you with my favorite du`a‘ (supplication), that I use during every raka`ah (prayer unit), after every salah or when I am just having a bad day.
Umm Salamah, radi Allahu `anha (may God be pleased with her), reported that Allah’s Messenger ﷺ (may the peace and blessings of God be upon him), said:
“Whenever an affliction strikes a Muslim and he says, as Allah commanded him, Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji`un. Allahumma ajirni fi musibati, wa akhlif li khayran minha—To Allah we belong, and to Him will we return. O Allah, reward me for my affliction and replace it for me with that which is better, Allah will then surely replace it for him with that which is better.”
اللهم أجرني في مصيبتي واخلفني خيرا منها