Does Writing A Book Change You?

Life after writing ‘Strength from Within: Personal Insights on how to Cope, Grow, and Flourish During Life's Trials Based on My Life with Physical Disabilities’

They say that you do not end up the same after writing a book. I did not really understand what that meant nor did I believe that to be true. I, however, can attest that the process of writing ‘Strength from Within’ did lead to an internal shift to the extent of it becoming evident to those around me.

‘Strength from Within’ contains personal insights not only based on my life with physical disabilities but also how the stories of the Prophets (peace be upon them) helped me put life’s adversities in perspective.

As a child, I was very attached to the stories of the Prophets and had the intention to write a book on applying lessons from their stories in my life. This became a mission that flourished through ‘Strength from Within.’ I, however, underestimated the impact of completing this mission. The shift that it would create and how my life was about to change.

I had not realized prior to writing the book how much I felt the absence of the Prophets in our daily lives. How much I wished that they were alive, because with their presence, there probably would be more understanding and acceptance towards life’s adversities and disability within our communities. Our mosques would probably be more accessible and our vulnerable honoured and looked after.

Our community centres would have probably been more equipped on supporting people navigating adversities, and some of the difficulties that I faced when explaining how disability is just part of the human experience, probably would never have happened.

I was so grateful that the stories of the Prophets put life’s adversities in perspective but there was agony that this perspective was sometimes not the norm within our Muslim community as a whole. It was caging that disability—and adversities in general—was looked at as something bad when I did not consider my life with a disability as bad.

Why was disability still pitied within our Muslim community when Islam teaches us otherwise.

I felt honoured to be alive and to be born with a disability.

It was an honour to get to delve into stories of the Prophets and see how to apply it in everyday scenarios. The chance to be alive—especially when many doctors thought that I would not—and reflect on my life experiences felt like a tremendous blessing.

The process of writing, therefore, felt like a gift.

My life—like all of our lives—is a gift.

I hoped for this gift—Allah (SWT)’s Mercy—to be known. I needed perspectives on adversities, and especially disability, to evolve. Our communities needed to grow. It was not enough to just write a book on what I hoped to see based on what I learned from the stories of the Prophets. There was a need to do more.

Prior to writing ‘Strength from within,’ I thought that once I finished writing, I would be done. I, however, did not realize that the completion of writing was not the end. It was rather the beginning of discovering how to utilize all insights and put it into action. ‘Strength from Within’ pushed me to see how to develop ‘Community Care in Islam’ within my local community. This was a series to promote understanding on what Islam says on community care and looking after our vulnerable going through adversities. The discussion on disability and Islam was brought up within the community. This was something I never grew up witnessing. I never knew what it was like to hear disability discussed in a constructive way instead of something that is negatively perceived and pitied.

The need of disability care—instead of just coping at home—was now something that was openly addressed.

There was a clear shift.

This pushed forward collaborations with Muslim-centered disability organizations—such as DEEN SUPPORT and MUHSEN—as disability work beyond writing was new territory for me. I grew up in a community where such faith based support systems do not exist. The wider exposure to the disability community led me to see how much work needs to be done through collaborations and communities supporting other communities. There was a need to show common grounds instead of differences. To do this, I realized, the need to be more equipped. This led me to join a local social justice disability fellowship. Community work, therefore, unexpectedly increased for me. It was starting to become the norm to delve on both Disability & Islam not just in the Muslim community but wider community.

What I addressed through writing within ‘Strength from Within’ was now turning into action.

‘Strength from within’ led to a domino effect.

There were times where I did not know how to remain strong after seeing the amount of work that needed to be done within the community while also navigating my health. It, however, helped to look back at what I had previously written within ‘Strength from Within.’ It helped to remember how the Prophets, despite adversities, did so much for our vulnerable. They recognized that everything was in Allah (SWT)’s Hands. We are just meant to try our best and leave the rest to Him.

This was when I started reflecting on Allah (SWT)’s 99 names and applying it in my daily life. This led to writing the book ‘Hearts that Remember.’ This book unexpectedly came out before ‘Strength from Within.’ I do not think ‘Hearts that Remember’ would have ever emerged if it were not for writing ‘Strength from Within.’ The process of writing ‘Strength from Within’ led to this ripple effect.

I ended up doing things that I never thought that I would do.

What deeply mattered to me when reflecting on the Stories of the Prophets for ‘Strength from within’ became my central focus.

My words had turned into action.

It was obvious that there was a change.

I had the same priorities prior to writing ‘Strength from Within, but there was just more clarity and strength to implement it more openly.

My work was not just behind a pen or a podium.

This was the difference.

  Written by Sa’diyya Nesar