Columns's Our Families

September 2002

Surviving Infertility Through Hope And Patience

by Siddiqua Hassan Haswarey

"Know you (all) that the life of this world is but play and amusement pomp and mutual boasting and multiplying (in rivalry) among yourselves riches and children: Here is a similitude:

How the rain and the growth from which it brings forth delight (the hearts of) the tillers; soon it withers; they will see it grow yellow; then it becomes dry and crumbles away. But in the Hereafter is a Penalty severe (for the devotees of wrong) and Forgiveness from Allah and (His) Good Pleasure (for the devotees of Allah). And what is the life of this world but goods and chattels of deception?" (Surat Al-Hadeed: Verse 20)

Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) works in mysterious ways indeed. One of the functions of creating man and woman was procreation, for the preservation and continuity of the human race. This is also one of the reasons why we as humans naturally desire to have children, to such an extent that every one of us actually yearns for parenthood at some point in our lives. Children are a blessing from Allah in this dunya just as wealth or status; being a parent is one of the greatest of blessings bestowed upon a person, whether Muslim or non-Muslim.

It was narrated by Ayesha (radhi Allahu anha) that the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said: The children of a man come from what he earns; rather they are his pleasantest earning; so enjoy from their property. (Abu Dawood Hadith)

For a couple, the process of caring for a child from the time it has been decreed to be born, then the mother carrying the child in her womb, until the time when he or she is old enough to stand as an independent adult, holds some of the most beautiful experiences in life. The memories can be the best that the parents will carry along with themselves as they grow old and feeble, and surely the joy of bearing and raising a child is one of the greatest mercies and blessings of Allah (Tabaarak wa Ta'ala) upon us. Unfortunately, there are some who are chosen to be amongst those who will not feel the joy and happiness that goes into bearing or raising children.

Psychological Impact

Dealing with the harsh reality of not being able to be a mother or father is one of the most difficult challenges in an infertile couple's life together. After all, none of us ask to be in the trying situations we often find ourselves in. Its only natural to have expectations of being a parent once one is married, even to look forward to the joy contained in something as simple as cradling your own child in your arms. But it can be different when it does not work out and finally after years of trying, you realize that being a parent may never turn out to be a reality.

Infertility affects both parents psychologically. Neither one is exempt from the anxiety and the pain. Both go through times when they feel a loss in their normal functions as a man or a woman; times when they feel somehow inadequate. Times when others with children deliberately point out that you have no children even after being married for a couple of years. Times when the couple feels almost like they are being punished for some fault of theirs, something they may have done to bring on the wrath of Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) upon themselves. Times when the infertile spouse feels guilty of having let down his or her companion, because they feel they have been unsuccessful in doing their part when it comes to bearing children. Even times when they feel that they may not have been fit to be a parent and therefore have been chosen by Allah to be a childless couple. Worse yet, are the times when they stop believing in the mercy and love of Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala), worst yet…. because when we as Muslims stop believing in Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala), in His Mercy, and in His Kindness and His Love, our existence is as good as void.

Being an infertile couple can be very stressful on the marriage as well, especially so when the communication between spouses breaks down due to the disappointments. If the bonds of love are weak, one blames the other, in turn hurting and scarring, when it is only Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) who has the might to grant as He (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) wishes, and there is nothing that can be done by any of us to change His decree.

There are also those couples that are destined to lose their children in premature births or miscarriages, leaving a deeper scar upon the mother, a situation that cannot be comprehended by one who hasn't felt a similar pain. Miscarriages leave the mother haunted with the fears of another loss each time she is expecting; dealing with that situation can be very trying.

Building One's Strength on the Higher Aspects of Life

When we are created our primary purpose is worship and obedience to Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala). Enjoyment of the various pleasures of this dunya is only part of the package. As people in Islam, we should build our strengths on the fact that we have a sacred bond with Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) as our Creator, and that we will always remain His bondmen and bondmaids until the very end of time.

We are Muslims with or without our spouses, our children even our parents, because when Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) created us, individually and as a race, He created us first and foremost with our submission unto Himself in purpose. And irrespective of the fact of whether we do fit into this society and follow the normal family pattern, we will remain His slaves, forever worshipping and cherishing Allah, and respecting the sanctity of the relationship.

We must build our lives on the strengths where we not only accept and fully comprehend the sanctity of our relationship with Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) as our Creator but also by constantly reminding ourselves of the reality that this life is ephemeral. We must understand that what really matters is how we fare in this dunya as Muslims, as we will surely be accountable for our actions. We should know that just as Allah gave us life, He (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) can and will take it away as well.

"O you who believe! Let not your riches or your children divert you from the remembrance of Allah. If any act thus, the loss is their own."
{Surah Al-Munafiqun: Verse-9}

Remind yourselves of how even amongst the the mothers of the faithful, the wives of the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam), were women who were not destined to bear children to Rasullallah (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) and they surely must have felt the pain. But the greatest of Muslimahs build their strengths on acceptance of their fate as the reality of Allah's will, on hopes of being amongst the fortuned dwellers of eternal paradise, through their sincere submission. They built their hopes and desires in the joy that they would feel as the dwellers of paradise where they would be granted what ever their hearts desired, even if their hearts desired children. In the joy that they would feel as the loved bondmaids of Allah, being amongst those who will (InshaAllah) be destined to gaze upon His (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala)'s beautiful face.

Allah has promised to not burden us with more than our souls can bear and there is relief in these words of Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) because this is not only a promise but also a constant reminder that the burden can be dealt with and it can be overcome, InshaAllah. Indeed, Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) is All Just.

"On no soul do We place a burden greater than it can bear: before Us is a record which clearly shows the truth: they will never be wronged."
{Surat Al-Mu'minun: Verse 62}

Asking help of Allah in constant supplication

And your Lord says: "Call on Me; I will answer your (Prayer): But those who are too arrogant to serve Me will surely find themselves in Hell in humiliation!"
{Surat Al-Mu'min: Verse 60}

It was narrated by An-Nu'man ibn Bashir that the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said: "Supplication (du'a') is itself the worship." (He then recited:) "And your Lord said: Call on Me, I will answer you." (Abu-Dawood Hadith)

Ask Allah for what your heart desires, ask of Him from the depth of your heart and InshaAllah, He (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) is All Merciful, All Compassionate and All Just and He will answer. Ask Him for acceptance to be placed in your heart for what is to come, along with a home in paradise.

"Is it not He who responds to the distressed one when he calls Him (better than your gods.)" {Surat An-Naml: Verse 62}

Allah has promised to answer our every prayer to Him, even if delayed. He has also promised us a reward for every prayer in the hereafter. Also, know that what Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) grants may not necessarily be what we desire but what we are given is the best for us, as Allah is All-Aware of what the future holds.

For Allah has said in His book,

"And it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allaah knows, and you do not know."
{Surat Al-Baqarah: Verse 216}

Tribulations with a Reason

Each of us is afflicted with trials of different degrees, some more trying than others. The reasons for these afflictions vary from reaping the fruits of our own evildoing, to the need to learn a certain significant lesson, in turn making us richer in wisdom. We may even be afflicted with trials just so our souls can be cleansed of the sins that we have accumulated through time. And certainly, the inability to bear offspring is a trial in this dunya.

It was narrated by Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said: "A Muslim male or female, remains subject to trials (in this world) in respect of self, children and property till he or she faces Allah, the Exalted, (on the Day of Judgment) in a state in which all his or her sins have been remitted." (Al-Tirmidhi Hadith)

It was narrated by Muhammad ibn Khalid as-Sulami that As-Sulami's grandfather, who was a Companion of the Apostle of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said: I heard the Apostle of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) say: "When Allah has previously decreed for a servant a rank which he has not attained by his action, He afflicts him in his body, or his property or his children." (Abu Dawood Hadith)

There is Relief After Every Hardship

From the immense blessings and mercy of Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) is also that after every hardship there is relief, even if not in the form we asked of Him, for Allah (Tabaarak wa Ta'ala) has said in His book,

"So verily with every difficulty there is relief:
Verily with every difficulty there is relief. "

{Surat Ash-Sharh: Verse 5-6}

Explanation of the verse:

  • "that is, there is one hardship with two relieves and one hardship cannot overcome two relieves." (commentary, Noble Qur'an)
  • Allah informs us that with difficulty there is ease and then, He (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) reaffirms this information (by repeating it). (Tafseer Ibn Katheer)
  • Indeed, His (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) reaffirmation of that statement is glad tidings for the believer, because it only means we will not be forsaken, and what other news can be more reassuring.

Patience and hope

Patience and hope for Allah's mercy are just as crucial as is acceptance of our fate. Khadijah (radhi Allahu anha), the first wife of Rasullallah, married him when she was 40 years of age. According to science today, women are less fertile even more likely not able to bear children after 40 years of age. It is interesting though how Khadijah (radhi Allahu anha) bore all her children after 40 years of age, and in that she gave birth to six children, of whom four daughters lived until adulthood. Even if she bore her children one after the other, she still gave birth to her children over a period of ten years after she got married, Allahu Alam! (This is a personal estimation and analysis on my part). Interestingly, she may have had children until she was 50 years or even over. Allahu Alam wa `Alaa! The point being, Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) is aware of what is to come, even if a doctor may judge otherwise and this is where hope and patience play a major role.

"And those who are patient, we will certainly pay them a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do." {Surat Al-An' am: Verse 96}

The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) also said: "The extent of the reward will be in accordance with the extent of the trial. If Allaah loves a people, He tries them, and whoever is content will have contentment, and whoever is angry will have anger." (At-Tirmidhi Hadith).

Even those who lose their children are given glad tidings in the aakhirah (hereafter) as a reward for their patience in this life, as mentioned in the following ahadith….

It was narrated by Anas bin Malik that Allah's Apostle (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said, "Any Muslim whose three children died before the age of puberty will be granted Paradise by Allah because of His mercy to them." (Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith)

Abu Hassan said to Abu Hurayrah: My two children have died. Would you narrate to me anything from Allah's Apostle (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) a hadith, which would soothe our hearts in our bereavements? He said: Yes. Small children are the fowls of Paradise. If one of them meets his father (or he said his parents) he would take hold of his cloth, or he said with his hand as I take hold of the hem of your cloth (with my hand). And he (the child) would not take off (his hand) from it until Allah causes his father to enter Paradise. (Sahih Muslim Hadith)

It was narrated by Abu Said, that a woman came to Allah's Apostle (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) and said, "O Allah's Apostle! Men (only) benefit by your teachings, so please devote to us from (some of) your time, a day on which we may come to you so that you may teach us of what Allah has taught you." Allah's Apostle (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said, "Gather on such-and-such a day at such-and-such a place." They gathered and Allah's Apostle (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) came to them and taught them of what Allah had taught him. He then said, "No woman among you who has lost her three children (died) but that they will screen her from the Fire." A woman among them said, "O Allah's Apostle! If she lost two children?" She repeated her question twice, whereupon the Prophet said, "Even two, even two, even two!" (Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith)

Hope in the hereafter

No single human can guarantee himself a single breath of air even a second beyond his present being, and no single human can guarantee himself Paradise in the after life or even mercy from Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala), nor can anyone of us guarantee himself the length of his life span, nor can he say if he will ever be a parent.

Freeing ourselves from the materialism of this dunya will help us bond stronger with Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala), constantly reminding us that nothing will last, and if we build too many high materialistic hopes and dreams on this life, as if to live for ever and ever, all of our hopes and dreams will only be in vain and no one but our own selves will be the losers.

Indeed, being able to bear children is a great blessing, but for those whom Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) has withheld this particular blessing, He has prepared much more in the hereafter in eternity - and this is the glad-tidings from Allah.

O Allah! Help me, but do not help against me; and grant me victory, but not against me; and plan for me, but not against me; and guide me and facilitate my guidance; grant me victory over those who transgress against me, Aameen. Allahumma Aameen.

Subhanaka `Allahumma wa bihamdika, wa `ash-hadu `an laa `Illaaha `illaa `anta, `astaghfiruka wa `atoobu `ilayka. (Glorified are You O' Allah and I am in Your praise, I testify that there is no deity except You, I ask Your forgiveness and repent unto You).

Siddiqua Hassan Haswarey

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