How we survived our ordeal

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Four years ago, I lost my husband to cancer. It was the most horrendous experience of mine and my daughter’s lives. Losing a relationship spanning three decades is tough.

 Tougher to bear was the behavior of three siblings of my husband who didn’t leave out a single chance to bring more pain and unhappiness into our lives. Also, the silence of the third one, who was a party to it all. The fifth one at least gave us verbal assurances, even offered to help, however, didn’t do anything concrete. However, he at least gave peace to my husband, when he was in hospital, his children came for ‘dua’, and family has contact with us.

All this painful behavior, in the garb of taking their Islamic share – they started grabbing at everything they could, while my husband was still alive and dying in hospital. The three daughters of mine, became an excuse for them. Though the same Islam made us sole owners of almost 80% of all assets, I was soon to find out that we are also sole owners of hundreds of kanals of agricultural lands that my father-in-law had put on our names in his lifetime. -A fact which my in-laws hid from me.

They were selective about which Islam they wanted to follow. I also knew that they get a share, only because they are supposed to help the family, not become bullies and stealers. Islam has very special ways of treating thieves and murderers. I wonder if they also wanted that part of Islam?

Being educated, I was not one to fall for their pressures, character assassinations and bullying. Having no son of my own, no brother and being an only daughter of my old parents, they thought I’d be a sitting duck for them. Alhamdolillah, I’m a Muslim and fully prepared to give and take all my rights and responsibilities. It’s been a very tough battle, but mainly a battle of spirit. I’ll be sharing my story with you all. But let me start with the end which I’ve had in mind always. The big question to share with you is this:

I’m sharing my story, only because every one of us, goes through trials, and in the hope that perhaps something I’ve done, or was successful in, maybe of help to someone else going through a trauma of another sort, in a similar situation.

How did my daughters and I survive?

Here is how:

  1. By thanking Allah at every step, even at the worst of times. The first thing was the fact that my husband’s cancer GBM IV was a painless one. When he passed away, it was shocking for us. Yet, one could see that perhaps, it was another way to save him from prolonging an unbearable condition.  To accept the will of Allah is the first component. (Remember the five steps of undergoing trauma? Denial, anger, bargaining, blaming and Acceptance? If you start with acceptance, things become much easier to bear.)
  2. I was also grateful that the misbehavior of my husband’s siblings helped to expose their intents.
  3. The moment I realized my financial situation, I looked up. I had a silent ‘human-to-God talk …’
    1. “All that is happening to me,  is in front of You. I am not going to ask anyone for anything. I know, that only You will give me all that I need. Just as You provided me all my life, I’m sure You will do so for now and later also!” After that I was calm and sure that He will certainly help.
    2. He did.
    3. At the same time, I did everything that I could do which was legal, right and correct.
  4. I made up my mind that I won’t’ do anything illegal or with the help of lying and deceit, as was their case. I told my lawyers that we will fight their lies with our truth. (I confess, I was lured into certain paths mostly by my lawyers, which were wrong, but thank God, I managed to save myself and my family at the crucial moment.)
  5. On a daily basis: We made up our minds, not talking about any depressing thing after 5 p.m. which was dusk time. We followed this rule strictly.
  6. My first need was to begin a normal life routine as soon as possible.
  7. Gratefully accept all acts of kindnesses from all my loved ones.
  8. Gratefully accepting acts of kindnesses from total strangers.
  9. One day a few months later, I sat down to write the number of people who had helped me or made my life miserable. The number of person who made me miserable, were hardly three or four. But the helpers were over sixty!
  10. Listen to everyone, but do what your heart tells you to do. Pay attention to your gut feeling at all times.
  11. Read Holy Quran translations daily. Best is to read one Siparah daily, as whatever, your situation, you are bound to find guidance in some parts. If nothing else, you find peace, courage and strength. “ La haula walla quwwata…”  and “Hasbi Allah o wa neimal wakil”  help a lot.
  12. Have fun. Listen to music, go out to watch movies, go out for dinners and invite folks for meals also. Meet friends, and make sure the conversation is not about all the miseries on earth. In such situations, everyone comes and tells you their miseries too. Stop yourself and take them to more pleasant topics also. In this way you give them the hint that ‘I’m really pleased you have taken out time for me. Now let us spend some nice time together.’
  13. The biggest thing that helps is Sadqa, or giving charity. If I got Rs.100/- I gave Rs.10/- So, I tried to give 10% of whatever I received. It is at times like these that you know how it feels to have no money. I regularly, fed poor people. I knew what it feels like to not know where your next meal is coming from. Just the feeling. Because, my Allah made sure I had enough not only for myself, but to give to others as well. Also, give charity.
  14. Read, Tahajjad which is praying after midnight. Say all five times prayers. And do ‘zikar’ or take names of Allah and God all the time.  So, my God helped me in ways I couldn’t ever have imagined.
  15. Enjoy all His blessings. The biggest blessings were and are my family, friends, relatives, my staff and all those strangers who helped me at that time. It is they who stood by me during my toughest times. We share a bond now which will remain as long as I live.
  16. You face allot of lethargy: Must have a good exercise and health program. I fell short in this, and didn’t make time for my usual walks. I’ve suffered a lot due to this. You must exercise on a daily basis.

I’m just so glad, I received all the right help when I needed it most.

Alhamdolillah.

0 thoughts on “How we survived our ordeal

    1. Thank you Jamil Bhai, you have been a great source of support for me. Your prayers and good wishes mean a lot to me and my whole family. Wishing the same happy smiles for your whole family also.
      Stay blessed,
      Shireen.

  1. You are such an inspiration for everyone . May God be with you at every step and may your daughters be the source of pride for you always . God bless !

    1. Dear Izza,
      Thank you for your encouraging words. These words mean a lot to me. Yes, my daughters are my pride, support and joy.
      May God bless you and your family also,
      Stay happy and smiling,
      Shireen

  2. Salaam Aunty,

    May Allah grant your husband highest place in Jannah.

    Masha Allah Aunty, you are a courageous and righteous woman … May Allah protect you and your lovely daughters.

    Thank you for sharing your good thoughts and useful tips.

    1. Walaikum Assalam, Madiha,
      Thank you for your good wishes and prayers. I’m glad you found the tips useful, that was my main motivation for writing this article.
      Stay blessed.
      Shireen.

  3. Salam!
    i have read your story. and we are facing the same situation except my father is ALIVE (thanks to ALLAH). After my grandfather’s death my uncle’s illegally acquired my father’s property and totally left him helpless due to which my father got two heart attacks and after recovering from that he suffered PVD (peripheral vascular disease) his leg paralyzed . We are four sisters helping our father,financially and morally, to fight for our right. no doubt Allah never left us helpless and He will never ever. I believe in Allah and know that one day we will have justice, we will get what is rightfully ours.
    May Allah help you and your daughters because i know the suffering the pain the depression everything , its very difficult to go through all this.

    1. Dear Irum,
      Your father is truly blessed by you and your sisters. Truly all four of you girls are ‘rehmat’, I’m sure you will manage everything in the best possible way, and be a source of strength for both your parents. I pray your mother can gather the strength to face it all as you all are doing. She needs to be at her most alert and active for the sake of her husband and daughters. Its good not to get into the cycle of ‘log kiya kahein gay’, and do whatever you all can to make life easier for your father. The reduced stress would surely improve his condition. Be prepared to accept Allah’s help, when He helps from sources one couldn’t even imagine. Remember, your family has an 80% share of your father’s portion.
      Be assured, that no one can take your ‘Rizq’ or sustenance, which He has ordained for you. He will give you from other sources to compensate. Stay calm.
      Stay blessed.
      Shireen.

  4. May Allah grants your Husband with the best rank in Jannah. May his soul rest in peace. And May Allah will always get you outta every problem of your life. AMEEN.

    1. Dear Zawara,
      Thank you so much for your good wishes and prayers. They mean the world to us all. I wish that your family be blessed too, and your problems stay in full control also. Ameen.

  5. JAZAKALLAH !
    You are such an inspiration for everyone, May ALLAH bless you and give u long life. I will also help poor thankyou for sharing ur good thoughts and useful tips.

    1. Dear Shanzay Abbasi,
      Thank you for your kind words, and wishes for my long life. Just pray for a life with health and not being a burden on anyone. I appreciate your going to the trouble of leaving a comment. It means a lot to me.
      May Allah bless you and your family also, and may He give us the opportunity to be of help to others too. Ameen.
      Shireen.

  6. Dear Aunty shireen,

    My mother went through a lot as well after my father’s death just like you. She is an iron lady just like you. U spent 3 decades,she just spent 12 years with him and left with 5 children. 3 elder girls 2 toddler boys. Yet she raised us spectacularly well with highest education and moral values with only and only help of our Almighty Allah. And that too living amongst her inlaws. Women like You and my mother are the living example of bravery and dignity. YOU ROCK AUNTY. May Allah bless you and your beautiful family always. Ameen

    1. Thank you so much for your encouraging words, and for sharing your story with me. When a person looks up to Allah for help, things start falling into place. I admire your mother for living with her in-laws. I’ve got a feeling that her father and mother-in-law must have been alive and good to her. My special prayers and best wishes to you both. Stay blessed.

      1. My mother is a doctor,an ob/gyn. And no support from inlaws. She fought it on her own with Allah’s blessing. I am the eldest child and i was 11 when our father died. Now i am a doctor too my 2 siblings engineers one Mba and the last one is also doing bba. Me and my both sisters are Married Alhamdulillah.and i pray for you and your daughters the same. Prayers and All the best in this world and the world hereafter.
        Love,
        Nishat

  7. AoA aunty your name sounded really familiar n then I remembered you used to write a column in nation or dawn coz I really enjoyed it. The everyday happenings and the details were a delight to read. Also let me share with you that I taught briefly in ICAS junior branch in 2007 before I got married and I asked the headmistress (cant recall her name) once if she knew you and she told me you people made fun trips to covered market and had a great time!
    I am so happy to know more about you. Came to know of your story through Humans of Pakistan
    Love from a reader

    1. Dear Sarah,
      Its great to know you have been reading my articles which used to be printed in Dawn till quite recently. Also, that you have worked in ICAS. The principal’s name is Nusrat Kitchlew. I have very pleasant and interesting memories of working with her and in ICAS. Just loved it, most of the time.
      These days I’m taking a break from work and writing in Dawn, to complete my books, paintings and write blogs.
      Thank you so much for your comment.
      Lots of love,
      Stay blessed.

  8. Ive had my share of reading into people’s lives; also had and have similar experiences, yet yours is…got no words in my dictionary.
    I am amazed at how ‘Islam’ is used to justify all sorts of wrongs today. When I think about it, I’m reminded of the dark ages of other Abrahamic faiths that, how they were used (rather abused) to meet ignorance’s ends.
    I’m sure, ‘as sure as eggs are eggs’ that Allah s.w.t. says in absolutely clear terms not to devour the orphan’s property, and those doing so would be devouring fire into their bellies!
    Man as usual forgets la ilaha il-Allah, that he is not God, and then becomes stubborn on his mistake like Iblees went on his, acting as if he knows all while in reality he does not.

    Took me a while to figure out that forgiving the one who did/ continues to do the most injustice towards me was actually all about my own benefit than anyone else’s. I never knew how the Prophet ﷺ could smile in the face of all that abuse and all those injustices by those who were in all respects his own family – till recently. Now I can just sit there and actually pray for good for those I know are on the wrong, without anger, without condescending judgement, completely at peace and being totally content at life.

    I hope and will pray the same for you & your family. May we all meet in the eternally good place!
    W.salam.

    1. Dear Malik Saab,
      Thank you for your comments. Its interesting to know how many people have had similar experiences. Its great to receive support specially from those who have had such experiences. Makes one realize that one is not alone in this.
      All the best.
      Stay blessed.

  9. Your honesty, courage and tenacity gave you the tool to fight this scrounge and had nothing to do with Allah however. I understand your filiality to God/ Allah but take into account the mayhem that has been caused in Gids/Allah’s name.

    Stay blessed and keep sending your aura of courage to all young and old alike.

    1. Dear Dev, I understand how you feel. There are fanatics in every religion. That doesn’t mean the religion is bad. This world has seen enough crime in the name of religion. That’s why people have begun to hate all religions and what they stand for. Lets keep that on one side. Faith is all we need. Faith in ourselves and our loved ones also is important. To each his own. As long as that faith brings more goodness to the surface. It’s ok.

  10. Dear Shireen Aunty,

    I came across this post today morning on Human of Pakistan about your family and then whole day i searched you, your daughters your writings and everything and let me tell you, each word i read made me fall in love with you and your courage.
    You will always be in my prayers and somewhere in my heart from today onwards. And next i am in Isb or you come to Khi i would love to meet you, just to a courageous woman.

    Loads of Love and prayres,
    Sadia

    1. Dear Sadia,
      Thank you for your encouraging and supportive words. Your prayers are very important for me, and I would surely remember you in mine too. I would certainly love to meet you. In fact, once life gets a bit settled we can skype too. I’ve found, sometimes, a skype call or a phone call can be pretty good too.
      I’ve lived several years in Karachi and love the city. Stay safe and stay blessed.
      Lots of love,
      Shireen.

  11. I am glad that people like you exist. Those who know whining won’t do them any good. Strong women with such faith are the most beautiful indeed.
    I can relate to you in some aspect too (not totally) but this article has served me as a piece of advice.
    Thank you very much.
    Regards,
    Rabeea.

    1. Dear Rabeea,
      I’m so glad you liked this blog. As you may realize, reliving one’s bad times to write what you learnt, is not pleasant. However, I realized, it was important to share my experiences in order to be of help to someone out there. I wish, somehow, one could help avoid such unpleasant experiences altogether. But that’s life. We all have our own exams to pass through. If this blog helped, its enough for me.
      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.
      Stay blessed and do take care,
      Shireen

  12. I have been a silemt follower/fan of ur daughter’s photography page and then i came across your story on “humans of Pakistan .
    Wow!!! i must say ur story gives me goosebumps
    we are three sisters and alhumdulilah blessed with a good paternal and maternal family and supportive parents .Still jst imagining it is painful
    kudos for all the strength u have showed and may Allah teach the oppressors a “good” lesson!

    1. My dear Tabeer,
      Thank you for your encouraging words. Alhamdolillah, we are fine by Allah’s grace. However, we too initially had very good terms with all concerned. Its when the situation is rough that the true colors emerge. The whole purpose of sharing our story was to be of some help to others. Also, in the hope that our legal systems realize and improve in some ways at least. Such things should not happen at all. The only lessons I want learnt are by our law system and people in general. So, enough precautions are done to avoid such things happening again. I just wish we were to be the last ones to go through such a trauma. But we saw, its happened to many. Hope for a better future for all.

  13. You Story is truly amazing. I am really inspired by your resilience. I was lately going through a little rough time. I mean not really. Sometimes you feel melancholic without any reason. May Allah give you a lot of happiness and contentment. I will In Sha Allah try some of the things that you mention in the list.
    (P.S you and your daughters are beautiful).

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