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#MGAnon: I Kissed a Guy, and I Liked It

#MGAnon: I Kissed a Guy, and I Liked It

Welcome to #MuslimGirlAnon, your one-stop spot for all the advice you could need! Every week, we crowd-source the very best advice our #MGClique has to offer about issues plaguing our girl gang. Need some advice? Write to editorial@muslimgirl.com, and we may just feature you!  Q: […]

Spiritually Processing What Happened In New Zealand A Few Days Later

Spiritually Processing What Happened In New Zealand A Few Days Later

By Shaykh Furhan Zubairi, In today’s current social and political environment, being Muslim is truly becoming a challenge; it’s a struggle. It feels like we’re living in the times that were described by the Prophet ﷺ in a number of different narrations. The Prophet ﷺ […]

Here’s How Narcissism Nearly Destroyed My Reality for Good

Here’s How Narcissism Nearly Destroyed My Reality for Good


As a 7-year-old girl, I stood on the porch with my 12-year-old sister. It was a sunny day, with gorgeous blue skies, and the grass smelled fresh and clean. To anyone passing by on a walk, we would have looked like two little girls playing patty-cake on the front porch of the house. What they wouldn’t see were the tears streaming down our cheeks; the damp tissue that my sister held in her hand, practicing how to make a perfect ball of dough.

That was the reason why we were outside in the first place. My mother had been teaching my older sister how to make round bread (roti) on the stove, and she wanted her to master how to make the dough into a perfectly sized ball to eventually use the rolling pin on. In my mother’s eyes, my sister wasn’t doing it correctly, and not nearly as quickly as she wanted her to.

I was in the family room, playing, and I remember my mother’s voice getting louder and louder. I mentally urged my sister to get it right so that the yelling would stop. But it didn’t. In a fit of rage, she pushed us both out on the porch, and locked the door behind us.

In a flurry of sniffles and tears, we made a show of being two happy sisters, just playing outside on a beautiful day.

Even at that age, my sister did not want anyone to know that we had been kicked out by our mother. So after the first car passed by our house, she suggested we play our clapping games to make it look like we were alright. In a flurry of sniffles and tears, we made a show of being two happy sisters, just playing outside on a beautiful day.

After a while, my mother opened the door in a rough manner. I remember cringing as I passed by her while she held the door open. She still had anger on her face, and I was afraid her hand would start swinging as well. After that, my memory goes blank. I don’t know if things got better or worse. Maybe it got better but my mind only remembers the bad parts. Or maybe it got worse and my brain shut itself down as a defense mechanism. But different versions of this same scenario were to happen throughout my life, as time went on.

The definition of the word narcissist is a “person who has an excessive interest in, or admiration of themselves.” They have a major lack of empathy, they exaggerate their own importance, which goes hand-in-hand with believing they are superior to others. They demand admiration and attention from others, have a sense of entitlement when it comes to pretty much everything, and taking advantage of or being jealous of even their own children is something that is very common.

I thought that all mothers had horrible fits of rage over the smallest things; that being yelled at first thing in the morning and then going to school fighting back tears was something that most kids were going through.

We never knew the full extent of this word growing up. In a Pakistani-Muslim home in America, we figured we just lived in a normal, strict household. I thought that all mothers had horrible fits of rage over the smallest things; that being yelled at first thing in the morning and then going to school fighting back tears was something that most kids were going through. I would see my friends with their loving parents and automatically think they were putting on a show because there were other people around.

Slowly, over the course of several years, I did learn that this was NOT normal. And now, as an adult in my 30’s, I go over past events in my mind, and the phrase “emotional abuse” seems fitting.

It was emotional, of course. I would be sad, angry, filled with guilt and shame. The name-calling and taunts, the constant gas-lighting and moments of such anger and rage, even in my most vulnerable moments. IT WAS ABUSE. And it took a long time for me to see past the excuses I made — one of the biggest issues with our culture. In late high school, I noticed that none of my  Caucasian American, or Black friends had any of the parental complaints that I did.

“My mom grounded me because I came in after curfew.”

Ummm, first off, I was rarely allowed to go anywhere, and curfew? I didn’t know the meaning of the word since I technically didn’t have one. Why have a curfew if I’m not going anywhere? And being grounded sounded like a vacation. If I did something wrong, I would be yelled and screamed at for what felt like hours. I would be emotionally torn down, and ridiculed, and these episodes left me exhausted and drained.

I thought, maybe this is something other Pakistani kids go through then. Our culture seems a bit stricter, so that was a reasonable explanation. But in my college years, I discovered that even my Pakistani friends weren’t going through the turmoil I was. I was legitimately afraid of my mother. She rarely hit me, and even if she did, I could barely feel it. But her screams and words stung like electric darts.

I was told I should just leave. Pack my bags, move out, and take charge of my life. That what I was essentially doing was enabling her.

Her taunts and name-calling left emotional bruises, and I don’t know when, but I started to grow into a very angry person. I let a few friends in on my home life, revealing to them the marital problems my parents had, my mother’s anger, her neediness to have me around constantly to fill the void my father left.

I was told I should just leave. Pack my bags, move out, and take charge of my life. That what I was essentially doing was enabling her. But I grew up like this. I was conditioned to think that this was a normal way of life. She would scream and yell and have her fits, and I was there, on the receiving end of it. Too afraid to move, let alone move out. My sister, married and gone — but constantly on the other end of the phone line — was always worried for me. She talked to my mom for hours every day. It gave me a break; some relief from being here physically.

The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said Heaven lies under the feet of your mother. In Islam and our culture, we are taught to respect our parents, to care for them as they get older, and this was all ingrained in me from the beginning. I would hear my friends talk about putting their parents in the best nursing home possible in the future, and I would instantly feel sorry for them. In my mind, I was always going to take care of my mother myself.

She had told me how wronged she had been her whole life, by her parents, her siblings, her husbands, other relatives, and sometimes even her children. She would add that last one in to guilt me, of course. With a small smirk on her face, she would inform me that she hadn’t forgotten how I had yelled at her that one day years ago, or how I had made some rude remark months ago, and that I had disrespected her. She would shame me into silence again, and again. And I continued to believe her.

Every time I was complimented about anything, whether it was my outfit, my mannerisms, anything at all, my mother made sure SHE got all the credit for it. As I was talking to my aunt on the speaker phone, she told me I had a very sweet personality, as I was asking about her health and telling her she should take better care of herself. My mother gestured towards the phone and whispered that I should respond to her by saying, “Oh it’s because I was raised so lovingly by my mom!” Again, just one of many example throughout my life where everything had to be about her.

My world opened up when I left home, as I experienced another Pakistani family that became my own — my husband’s family.

I got married, and my wedding anniversary became a source of sadness for her. It became her chance to play the martyr, saying she had been alone ever since my wedding day. My world opened up when I left home, as I experienced another Pakistani family that became my own — my husband’s family. And it seemed to me that, other than the odd squabble now and then, this family didn’t treat their children at all the way I was treated. There were no constant guilt trips, gas-lighting, taunts, name-calling, or any of that which I had gone through. And this wasn’t just them being nice to me. They were actually nice TO THEIR OWN CHILDREN, which had been a foreign concept to me for quite some time.

However, being out of the house didn’t excuse me from my daughterly duty to my mother. Just like it hadn’t excused my sister. She had gotten married 9 years before I did, but she was with me the entire time she was gone. She was taunted for being so busy that she didn’t have time to call her own mother. MY sister would visit as often as she could, and for as long as she could to make sure I was alright. With both of us being gone, my mother had one of us on the phone at all times. If not one, then the other. It was a constant game of “tag, you’re it!” with my sister, and I was always losing.

After a few years, we started finding support groups for adult children with narcissistic parents. I researched this world and couldn’t believe it. The descriptions, and the scenarios some of these people had, it was like they were living MY LIFE. Finally, after decades of zero familial support, there were online strangers that could validate what we were going through. It helped us push through the shame we had of not doing enough for our mother, when we clearly were. And what was most astonishing to me, was that this was not a Pakistani-Muslim thing. I had been using that excuse for years. But this was happening to people of ALL cultures.

I hope that other girls that are going through this from a very young age know that they are not alone. That the narcissistic person screaming and taking out all their anger on them might not ever change, but that doesn’t mean that life doesn’t keep going.

My sister and I finally understood one of the most important things. We aren’t enabling our mother; it is self-preservation. It isn’t an excuse, or a cop-out. It is SURVIVAL. Yes, we will always have to take care of our mother. But we are also allowed to stand up for ourselves at some point. And it helps to know that she actually has a narcissistic personality disorder. Maybe it was something in her childhood and early life that triggered it. Perhaps it could be genetic factors that caused it. Whatever it may be, we are the ones who have to handle it. Maybe it would have been easier if I was a son instead of a daughter. Old school Pakistani mentality proves that males get away with so much more than a female ever would. And my mother is nothing, if not old school.

I hope that other girls that are going through this from a very young age know that they are not alone. That the narcissistic person screaming and taking out all their anger on them might not ever change, but that doesn’t mean that life doesn’t keep going.

A very dear friend recently told me, it is said that when Allah has abandoned someone, he closes the doors to their heart. They feel no love, no sympathy, no guilt. The person on the receiving end of the abuse feels it all. The pain, the guilt, the LACK of love from the abuser, but cherishes love more than others would. So Allah is with me, and all the people who have to go through this.

He will help us push through the shame that isn’t ours.

He will open our eyes to a bigger world and make us see, that though we have been emotionally abused, there is still hope and happiness in the world. I see it now. And I pray that others do as well.



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Meet Amina Khan, the Health Guru Working to Revolutionize the Fitness Space

Meet Amina Khan, the Health Guru Working to Revolutionize the Fitness Space

Last year was a momentous one for Amina Khan, the founder of Amanah Fitness. She made history when she was named 2018’s Canadian Fitness Professional of the Year at the World Fitness Expo, becoming the first Muslim in history to receive this tremendous honor. “The […]

The #NZMosqueAttack Once Again Highlights the Media’s Shameful Biases Around Terrorism

The #NZMosqueAttack Once Again Highlights the Media’s Shameful Biases Around Terrorism

On March 15, 2019, up to 50 Muslim worshippers have been killed in Christchurch, New Zealand, during Friday prayers at two separate mosques. I’ve never felt so heartbroken over an attack before. Maybe it was because I was living in my little Doha bubble, shielded […]

On Prophetic Wisdom and Speaking to Children in Times of Distress

On Prophetic Wisdom and Speaking to Children in Times of Distress


By Rania Awaad, M.D.

A remarkable trademark of the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him, was that he spoke to children at their age-appropriate levels. To draw inspiration from the Prophetic wisdom on how to speak to young people, particularly in times of distress, one need only reference the Prophet’s gentle interaction with his young companion, Abu ‘Umayr, upon recognizing the child’s grief about the death of his pet. Perhaps the most striking lessons we learn from this interaction was that the Prophet, peace be upon him, recognized the child’s distress, inquired about it, then approached the child with gentleness, validation and in a non-blaming manner that both recognized and healed the emotions the child was experiencing.

It is imperative that we engage our children and teens in their moments of distress and avoid shying away from discussing difficult topics. When a disaster strikes our families and communities, it is very likely the young ears in our homes have heard snippets of our conversations and picked up on our own distress and that of other adults around them. While it may not be age-appropriate to give children the full details, hushed conversations coupled with little reassurance is a definite recipe for more fear and confusion. Here is a set of tips that we as parents can implement to help quell the fears and anxieties of our children and teens related to distressing news:

  1. It starts with us: Unplugging from social media, centering ourselves, processing our own emotions, debriefing with those whom we trust, being conscious of what we say and how. The way we react will have an impact on our children- our reactions cue them in on how they should react too. It is okay for our children to see us in a controlled state of frustration or sorrow as long as we are able to help them feel secure. It is also okay for us to delay the conversation with our children in order to give us time to process our own emotions- so long as we are able to get back to reassuring them.
  1. Prepare: How we talk to a 5-year-old will be different than how we talk to a 15-year-old. Simple language can be used with younger children while a more detailed discussion may be needed for older children. Educating ourselves about various angles of a tragedy helps us gain a sense of control and enables us to convey a balanced perspective to our children. In the Islamic tradition, we believe that good can emerge from any tragedy. Before talking to our children, it would be best to consider the key messages and values we want to express ahead of time.
  1. Inquire: Even young children may have heard about a horrific tragedy. If we have children in different developmental stages, we might consider talking to the entire family first at the youngest child’s level and then individually with each child.
    1. Ages 3-6: Avoid sharing horrific news with children in this age group if they are unaware of it. Only if we suspect they know something (like mentioning it to an older sibling or while playing, for example), should we ask children 3-6 if they’ve heard about anything that upset them.
    2. Ages 7-12: Wait and see if they ask us. There is no need to discuss horrific news with this age group unless we suspect or know they will be exposed to it. Signs of distress like regression or not wanting to go to the school or the masjid after news of a shooting, for example, are signs to invite them to talk.
    3. Teens: Assume they know- but don’t assume their knowledge is complete. We will need to fill in the blanks and correct flawed or misleading information they received from friends or through social media.
    4. Children with developmental delays or disabilities: Gear questions to the child’s developmental level or abilities, rather than their physical age. If the child is aware of the events, provide details or information in the clearest and appropriate manner possible.
  1. Listen: It is important that we first understand what is going through our children’s mind so that we can understand what they might actually worried be about. Many parents jump right to troubleshooting and problem-solving mode. Yet in doing so we may increase our child’s anxiety by projecting onto them our own adult-level fears. Listening with more than our ears helps keep us tune into our children’s non-verbal communication. Listening also means removing distractions like phones, computers and the like. It’s important to note that children may need to talk about what they are hearing and feeling for a number of days in order to process the implications.
  1. Validate: Open up the conversation by asking a simple question like, “What things are you concerned or upset about?” Once the child responds, validate their concerns even if they don’t match our own or make sense immediately. For example, “It sounds like you are feeling (name the emotion). I can understand that.” In trying our best not to minimize their fears, we allow our children to properly express their emotions. Children and teens often need help naming what they are feeling- labeling emotions (upset, angry, scared, disgusted, disappointed, etc.) helps bring them back to a balanced state.
  1. Simplify and Correct: Abstract ideas can complicate matters and scare young children. Using familiar terms and not over-explaining are both helpful for young children. For a mass shooting one may say, “A very confused and angry person took a gun and shot people. The police are working to making sure people are safe again.” Tweens and teens are more likely to hear news from unreliable sources, so they need the truth to come from us. They are more likely to respond better to us if we accept their sources but give them the tools to view the information critically. When we teach them to ask questions about what they saw or heard, it helps them think beyond a clickbait headline or meme.
  1. Model Hope and Faith: As parents, we need to model hope and strength in our identity as Muslims. Conveying pride in our Muslim identity and seeking solace in our faith is crucial to our children’s development. This is an opportune time to remind ourselves and our children that Allah is in control of everything and is the best of planners. Putting trust in Allah and channeling feelings of hopelessness into meaningful contributions to the world around them is one of the most important forms of healing. When children and teens feel that they can make a positive impact, it restores the soul and boosts the resiliency they will need their whole lives.

Most Common Mistakes:

  1. Minimizing: Suppressing the conversation or minimizing children’s reactions or fears can manifest itself in physical symptoms. Some signs to look for that they are having difficulty adjusting include:
  • Physical: Children may complain of feeling tired, having a headache, stomachache, or generally feeling unwell.
  • Emotional: Children may experience sadness, depression, anxiety, or fears.
  • Behavioral: Look for signs of social regression, acting more immature, or becoming less patient and more demanding. Children who once separated easily from their parents may become clingy. Teens may seek assistance to their distress from substance use.
  • Sleep: Watch for trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, difficulty waking up or nightmares.

Sometimes it can be hard to tell if a child is reacting in a typical manner to an unusual event or whether they are having real problems coping, and thus in need of extra support. If you are concerned, talk to your child’s pediatrician or mental health professional. If you prefer that your child speaks with a Muslim mental health professional, you can find ones in your locale here. Some Muslim counseling centers such as the Khalil Center offer both in-person and online therapy options. In all cases, do not wait for the signs. Start the discussion early, and keep the dialogue going. 

  1. Over-exposure: One of the most common mistakes is talking about horrific events in front of children and assuming they do not understand or will not be affected. The other major source of over-exposure is via media coverage of violent tragedies. Children age eight and younger have difficulty telling if what they hear and see on screens is fantasy or reality, and this ability develops gradually with age. This is why experts recommend against allowing children under age eight to view media containing any type of violence. Even after the age of eight, graphic or repetitive exposure to violence can cause children to virtually relive the event over and over. This can lead to children developing long-term anxiety, depression, anger, and even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
  1. Feigned Indifference: It is possible that despite our attempts to use the seven steps above to engage your children, they might not want to talk to us about their concerns. That is okay, but we must offer them alternatives such as other trusted adults who can help them. Also consider teen help lines such as Khalil Center, Stones to BridgesAmala Hopeline, or Naseeha. At the very least, let them know that help exists.

Keep marching ahead:

Tragic events stay in our collective memory and may cause very real fear and anxiety. However, they are also teachable and character-building moments to reinforce our values within ourselves and our children. As parents, it is important for us to practice self-care. Overstimulation from constantly checking our news-feeds will likely raise our anxiety levels which our children will likely pick up on.  As families, it is imperative that we connect with communities that provide spaces for encouragement, support, and understanding and serve a healing purpose for each member of the family.

Finally, a parting reminder that we are created to worship Allah, Most High, recognizing that He is in full control and is the best of planners. We must hold fast to our principles and values, and be a forward-looking people who constantly work on improving ourselves and the communities around us.

Helpful Resources:

1. The family and Youth Institute: After a Tragic Event.
2- The Muslim Wellness Foundation: Coping with Community Trauma.
3- The Khalil Center Confidential Helpline: click here.
4- The Khalil Center: Faith and Community Leader Training: Mental Health First Response Certification Training

Rania Awaad, M.D. is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Stanford University School of Medicine where she is the Director of the Muslim Mental Health Lab and Wellness Program and Co-Director of the Diversity Clinic. She pursued her psychiatric residency training at Stanford where she also completed a postdoctoral clinical research fellowship with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Her research and clinical work are focused on the mental health needs of Muslims. Her courses at Stanford range from instructing medical students and residents on implicit bias and integrating culture and religion into medical care to teaching undergraduate and graduate students the psychology of xenophobia. Her most recent academic publications include works on Islamic Psychology, Islamophobia, and the historical roots of mental health from the Islamic Golden Era.

Through her outreach work at Stanford University, she is also the Clinical Director of the San Francisco Bay Area branches of the Khalil Center, a spiritual wellness center pioneering the application of traditional Islamic spiritual healing methods to modern clinical psychology. She has been the recipient of several awards and grants for her work.

Prior to studying medicine, she pursued classical Islamic studies in Damascus, Syria and holds certifications (ijaza) in Qur’an, Islamic Law and other branches of the Islamic Sciences. Dr. Awaad is also a Professor of Islamic Law at Zaytuna College, a Muslim Liberal Arts College in Berkeley, CA where she teaches courses on Shafi’i Fiqh and Women’s Fiqh. In addition, she serves as the Director of The Rahmah Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating Muslim women and girls. At Rahmah, she oversees the Murbiyyah spiritual mentoring program for girls. Dr. Awaad is a nationally recognized speaker, award-winning teacher, researcher and author in both the Islamic and medical sciences.

You can follow her on twitter @AwaadRania and on Instagram @dr.raniaawaad.





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On New Zealand And Dehumanization

On New Zealand And Dehumanization

One of the most difficult things to do in moments of tragedy is to take time to properly process one’s own thoughts while simultaneously processing the countless messages and calls of community members and multi-faith colleagues from around the world. To the non-Muslim colleagues who […]

I Will Always Be Torn Between Two Cultures, and Here’s Why That’s Ok

I Will Always Be Torn Between Two Cultures, and Here’s Why That’s Ok

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of MuslimGirl.com.  Coming to the United States was…challenging, to say the least. Having parents that grew up in the Middle East, […]

Do Not Fear, Do Not Grieve – Imam Omar Suleiman on #NewZealand

Do Not Fear, Do Not Grieve – Imam Omar Suleiman on #NewZealand


Our hearts are broken but we will not be deterred. We will fill our mosques and hearts today.



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7 Palestinian Chefs That Are Doing It for the Culture

7 Palestinian Chefs That Are Doing It for the Culture

Food. Food. Food. It’s a vital part of culture all around the world. We Palestinians, in particular, simply love our food, and our events always revolve around the beautiful symphony of flavors that make up our cuisine. But food represents so much more than blind […]