What I hope for readers to know - Strength From Within - Sa’diyya Nesar

Written by Sa’diyya Nesar, the author of ‘Strength from Within: Personal Insights on how to cope, grow, and flourish during life’s trials based on my life with physical disabilities.’


1. You’re not alone

It is very easy to feel like we—along with our families—are alone when enduring a calamity. It feels like this even more when growing up with a disability and it not being the norm to come across other families navigating disability. Those in the community seem unscathed and it feels like we are living a different—and a very separate—reality than most.

We start to feel alone and this loneliness only increases in the presence of others. This is because we are usually met with sympathies instead of casually treated like everyone else. This is when we do not know where to go and start to have echoing whispers prodding us to wonder when Allah (SWT) would bless us and our loved ones with ease.

This is when we wonder when we can join everyone else without them meeting us with sympathies but rather as part of the community. We yearn to have that luxury where we get to enjoy life and live.

I understand what it is like to feel like you and your family are alone. I know what it is like feeling as if you are living a separate reality compared to most. I think it is easier to feel this way because of how most want a life of ease and prefer to avoid scenarios where they have to face and talk about life’s calamities. You are just a reminder of life’s reality if you are going through a calamity. A reality that they feel uncomfortable to face and probably unwilling to accept.

You are not at fault here and I’m rather here to reiterate that you are not alone.

This is one of the reasons why I wrote ‘Strength from Within.’

I wanted to write on my lived experiences so that the conversation of life’s calamities—specifically the topic of disability—be brought out in the open. By sharing my own hardships, I hoped for readers going through similar to not feel alone. I wish for all of us to feel comfortable talking about and facing the reality of life’s hardships. The moment we are willing to accept and feel comfortable around the topic of life’s hardships, the more we would be willing to accept those going through calamities in our company, and rather be a support to them.

Those navigating calamities are never meant to endure them alone.

We are meant to find strength and rise together, in sha Allah (God Willing)

2. Prophets (peace be upon them) were sent as examples for a reason

I try to incorporate the stories of the Prophets and how they navigated calamities throughout ‘Strength from Within’ as another way to demonstrate to readers how they are are not alone. Prophets went through more severe forms of hardships. They were rather sent as examples for us to learn from and grow.

The purpose of writing ‘Strength from Within’ was, therefore, not only to write on growing up with a disability but rather how I implemented the stories of the Prophets in different scenarios in my life. I want readers to similarly develop the habit of implementing lessons from the stories of the Prophets in their daily lives because that is what we are meant to do. We are meant to reflect and learn from their examples as Allah (SWT) has shown many signs of victory for believers that endure with patience.

3. Strength from within can be found in adversity

It is natural to feel overwhelmed when going through hardships. It is rather common to feel weak, but as time passes, it will become obvious how you have gained internal strength by accomplishing milestones never dreamed of previously acquiring. You start to realize that you have a better grip on life and that adversity brought out more good than anything else. You have more empathy now and have more common grounds to help others going through difficulties.

This is what I hope readers to remember:

Allah (SWT) does not put us in a difficulty to harm us but rather equip us to find internal strength and grow as believers. Our potential will only be made more obvious when learning how to navigate hardships. We are not only meant to find internal strength to cope with our own hardships but rather be a source of strength and mercy for others.

4. Allah (SWT) is here even if the Prophets are not

It is natural to miss the Prophets and wish they were alive during our times. It is easier to feel this way even more when witnessing injustice and inequalities in our world. The stories of the Prophets are not only there for us to learn from their examples, and feel close to them, but also to recognize within these stories how Allah (SWT) is always there for believers navigating any difficulty.

He is there for us to cope, grow, and flourish in this world. We are just meant to pray to Him and strive to obey Him with beautiful patience.

5. Disability is part of the human experience — a reality that we are all bound to face

It is the norm to have the topic of disability marginalized and to have people with disabilities treated as different. This reality has always confused me when growing up simply because we all age, and we all are bound to face a type of disability, or witness a loved one do so. It, therefore, never made sense to me why most would feel uncomfortable to talk about disability or why I was at times treated as different.

My attempt to write about the disability experience as much as possible is to firstly de-stigmatize the topic and to secondly emphasize how disability is simply part of the human experience. We cannot afford not educating ourselves—and our communities—on understanding disability. It is rather our duty to see how to remove barriers for people with disabilities—and our aging population—so it is easier for them to access places of worship and other segments within the community with ease.

Storytelling is a way to humanize an experience—I hope readers not exposed to disability can see that people with disabilities are human beings, too.

6. A special message for parents of children with disabilities — Allah (SWT)  looks after us children in the end

This book is on growing up with a disability, and because of this, I have dedicated it to all parents of children with disabilities. It is very natural for parents to worry when finding out that their child has a disability. The reason for this is because it is innate to not want your child to go through any form of hardship. Every parent wants to see their child belong and be accepted within the community. This reality is, however, harder to witness when having a child with a disability because of the extent of how disability is marginalized within our communities. Children with disabilities are bound to face the pangs of rejection from a young age. We most likely will be made fun of.

This is a norm and reality that we have to face. It can rather get harder to for us as we grow into adults. I try my best to depict my life as a child, teen, and adult but with the aim to show that despite the harshness faced in society, Allah (SWT) looks after us in the end. We, children, were never abandoned and Allah (SWT) is our Primary carer. He will plant the seed of faith—imaan—within us. He will send us signs of His Mercy in the most obvious of ways. He will make it clear—especially through the stories of the Prophets—what Islam says over how some Muslims behave. Yes, we children will feel the pain. Yes, we will notice that the examples of the Prophets are missing in the community. This will only help us grow closer to Allah (SWT), though.

Maybe this is Allah (SWT)’s form of Mercy.

I hope all parents—especially parents of children with disabilities—do not lose hope in Allah (SWT)’s Mercy and trust that Allah (SWT) looks after us children in the end.

7. It is allowed—and possible—for Muslims with disabilities to get married

I am married, and it alarms me how uncommon marriage with a disability is, because of the misconceptions on both Disability & Islam. This is why I touch on my experiences of marriage within ‘Strength from Within’ as a means to clear misconceptions and demonstrate how Prophet Muhammad (SAW) approached marriage for Muslims with disabilities. Our communities need to remember how Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was towards those with disabilities. He never treated us differently and is rather our strongest human advocate.

8. The recognition and acceptance of invisible disabilities

There is so much diversity in the disability experience because of the different types of disabilities that exist. I was born with a physical disability—due to muscular weaknesses—but it did not always appear visible.

Half of my life my disability was somewhat invisible, so within the book, I try to share the different struggles I face between having an invisible disability and later a more visible one. I do so with the hope that readers not exposed to disability have more understanding and empathy towards those navigating invisible disabilities, too.

Sa’diyya Nesar, the author of ‘Strength from Within: Personal Insights on how to cope, grow, and flourish during life’s trials based on my life with physical disabilities.’