Get your pen and paper ready, because there are so many gems you should note down and learn from. I find this interview really emotional because this woman is the definition of STRENGTH. Let me do a bit a grand Introduction. Ignore me being melodramatic. Now, Let’s Dive in.
Sister Sohada mentors Muslim mothers of kids with special needs through confidence building, advocacy training, and skilled therapeutic support services with faith as the foundation for thriving success. She also dedicates her coaching sessions and group programs to women challenged with mental health struggles which are complementary to the Hijama (cupping) and occupational therapy she provides in her holistic faith-based wellness practice, Madina Therapy.
Currently, Sister Sohada is running a weekend program in her Boston community that is integrative and inclusive for Muslim children with disabilities to learn more about Allah and their purpose using sensory project-based wellness differentiated techniques. Her ten years in Madinah Munawwarahenabled her to gain knowledge from the scholars which led her to a post-graduate certificate in Islamic Chaplaincy from the college of Masjid AnNabawiwith a project concentration in caring for those with illnesses in hospital settings. This is very much complementary to her professional track in the US, where she is from. In Madinah she learned prophetic remedies like Ruqyah Shariah and her desire to share this with her sisters around the world inspired her to develop an 8-week online course for sisters called “Ruqyah Made Simple.”
Sister Sohada is also running a 6 month online program for women called 5 Before 5 Muslimah Mentorship where sisters are reminded of the prophetic teachings of self-care, self-empathy, and self-worth by dedicating their lives for the sake of Allah while striving towards helping themselves and those around them by study, discussion, goal-setting and application of mental, emotional and spiritual strategies. Some other things include delivering workshops and Halaqas upon the Quran and Sunnah to women online and in local Rhode Island and Massachusetts Masajid.
Sister Sohada’s life-long passion is to help children, women, and elders who struggle on multiple levels because she experienced that when we help others, Allah helps us, and Allah’s help is a constant human need. All praise and good are from Allah and all gratitude belongs to Him. Enough of my noise. Let’s hear from her.
AyshaBintmahmud: Assalam Alaikum WaRahmatullah Wa Barakatuh Sister Sohada: I am truly honored you accepted my request to be our guest this month Alhamdulillah! After listening to your talk at the Sisters Helping Sisters summit, Irealize there’s so much my readers could learn from you. Masha Allah! Nice to have you here.
Sohada Awad: Waalaykum Assalaam WarahmatAllah Wabarakatuh Sister Aysha, JazakiAllah khayrfor your kindness. I am grateful that you found interest in what I offered because when I put out beneficial reminders to sisters on any platform, they are not new ideas, but teachings our beloved Prophet Muhammad SalAllahu Alayhi Wasallamgave us, and so truly the honor is in being guided by the Most Merciful and being able to share that with others. May Allah accept our service; indeed, all praise belongs to Him and all success is only from Him.
A: Yes, that’s right. Allahmdulillah Ala kulli Haal. Please tell us a bit about yourself.
S: My name is Sohada and my kunya is Um.Mumin. I’m the daughter of two beautiful parents who immigrated to the United States decades ago from Egypt. I have one brother, and it was just us two growing up in our Arabic home yet hearing English everywhere else south of Boston where we spent all our childhood and teen years. Back then there was no such thing as Islamic schools, and there was only one Mosque we ever knew to exist, about an hour away from home. Being part of American culture and community but with roots and a foundation, my parents instilled in us by knowing our perfect deen. Little did I appreciate at the time that this would have the biggest and most positive impact on my relationships, my character development, my choices or my way of life as an adult. Alhamdulilah, I am married and a mom of some teens and a toddler. Two of my kids are deaf, wearing hearing aids and cochlear implants. Truly, all good and guidance are from Allah Alone.
A: Allahu Akbar! I had to go silent for a while, to digest the last part and make a silent Du’a. My dear Sister, I Love you for the sake of Allah. May Allah grant you Jannah in his infinite mercy. You are the beautiful brain behind Madina Therapy and I know you’re into Mentoring Muslim Mothers of kids with special needs and also holding coaching sessionsfor women with mental health struggles and I respect you for that. Please share with us how you came up with that initiative, which I’m sure has helped a lot of sisters out there.
S: Since I was a little girl, I had an intrinsic desire to help others. Reflecting back I’m still unsure as to why this longing has been so strong. Maybe it’sbecause I saw how my parents always helped people around them in any capacity they were given. Maybe it was because I was that little first grader with the weird name who needed extra help in reading. Maybe because I saw other kids being bullied. Maybe it was because I spent some time in the hospital visiting my own parents as a young teen. I’m not sure, but I knew that I wanted to grow up helping people feel good about themselves and finding their sense of purpose. It made me uncomfortable to see people in pain, and it still does. Getting into the field of healthcare, specifically rehabilitation by becoming an occupational therapist opened doors for me I could not imagine. It also was perfectly planned by Allah as I use this experience in advocating for my children and being a special needs advocate for others, Alhamdulilah.
On the heart level, the doors that Allah opened were the ones that would allow light and guidance to delve in deeper. Seeing people who one day were independent with all their basic self-care activities, walking, expressing themselves, only to be at their bedside the next day creating therapeutic interventions to help them learn how to relearn in holding their heads up, have more control over their bodies, express emotions through social skills, or even just visually attend to a side they neglect was a wide-eye opening experience to this purpose of life.
I was put in charge of assessing and treating adults who overnight lost their limbs due to car accidents, who woke up in the morning with an inability to move because of a stroke, who developed new exacerbated symptoms of neurological disorders, who were now in my social skills group because their mental illness got in the way of their success of their sense of self, and who were children with profound disabilities yet still wanted to play. Allah used my profession to bring me closer to Him, to teach me how to strive with meaning and live for the sake of Allah.
All of these circumstances of human struggles allowed me to see the mercy Allah has in the potential that people have as well and even through the darkest of situations, goals are valid, potential is present, and hope is essential. Allah is always in control and being a witness to the hardships of others, while being one who lifts them out of their burdens with empathy by Allah’s Help is of the best ways to help oneself. When we help, Allah helps us. When we give, Allah gives us more. This life is nothing but a trial and as said in the Quran, “with hardship comes ease.”
A: You lived in Madinah Munawwarah for 10 years correct? That’s such a long time Masha Allah, I’ve never been to Madina and I’ve had lots of beautiful stories about the blessed country. Could you please share with us what life is like living in Madina?
S: Anything I offer will not do justice to the experiences I’m grateful to have had by living in Madinah Munawwarah, and it was my donia for those years. But within every blessing is a trial, and within good are tests. If we can remember that we will remember that as none of us are perfect except Allah, no place is perfect except Paradise. I say that with deep committed love, as the people of Madinah say: “There are people whose hearts are in Madinah when they come and there are those who live with Madinah in their hearts wherever they go.” This is the reason Madina Therapy is named, Madina Therapy. It was also over there that I learned about Hijama Cupping, Ruqyah Shariah and prophetic remedies by which I serve my sisters with and offer courses and workshops so others can benefit inshaaAllah. May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon our beloved Prophet Muhammad.
A: Ameen, That’s beautiful, Masha Allah. You play different roles in life plus dedicating your time and effort to assist other women to lead a better life. How do you manage to do all that without losingyourself? And what is the motivating factor behind that? What are your challenges?
S: My brother told me once in a chat message while I was in the middle of chaos preparing food for my family, dealing with my to-do list in my mind and who next needs my attention to be saved amongst my sisters in deen, that instead of trying the save the world, I ought to focus in and save myself. As much as I bust on my little brother (he’s only 14 months younger than me), and as different as we are in many ways, he is a gift to me and always in my heart. His realness says it like it needs to be said. Like most women (if not all women) we gravitate towards taking care of others, but if we cannot take care of ourselves or prioritize submitting to Allah even in those little things, then seriously- what good will we be able to provide to those we honor, respect and deeply love? My dear husband grounds me by reminding me to focus on what’s important so I don’t lose myself in the service of others.
Now that I’m older, I’m finally understanding what my parents too also guided me with and that is to avoid neglecting self-empathy and it is my Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, who taught me that the best form of self-empathy is taking care of five before five- youth before aging, wellness before illness, wealth before poverty, your free time before you get busy life before death, wellness before illness, life before death. This is one reason I have named my 6-month heartfelt coaching Muslimah Mentorship program, 5 before 5. Striving to please Allah is the best form of self-therapy and that comes through purified intentions regardless of one’s circumstances. May Allah keep us sincere.
A: What is the greatest change you would love to see in the world today?
S: I would love for people to know that even though we all have weaknesses, Allah gives each of us strengths and if we can use our unique abilities to tap in and connect with our purpose and therefore our Creator, we will see that it’s easier to rise and not just as individuals, but as an Ummah.
A: What’s your message to all the sisters out there?
S: I would remind my beautiful sisters who are struggling in life. Never lose focus on your purpose, nothing is more important than your connection with Allah Who wants what’s best for you in every way. Even when things seem impossible, just call out. You are not meant to be perfect, so don’t hold those burdens on yourself when Allah doesn’t hold you to that. Just keep striving in all that you do making Allah first in every decision you make. Because when Allah is first in your life, He will fulfill your heart. You won’t want to look at those who have more, you’ll reach a level of contentment in what He decrees and you’ll realize when no one gets your problems or hardships, that this is ok because you have Allah Who is not only looking out for you from above all that exists, but truly closer to you than your own jugular vein. I remind you, my sweet sisters, as I remind myself:
“and indeed reminders benefit the believers”
It’s not just for those gaining the reminders, but those who give them too. We are all in this together. It’s time to help each other in connecting with and attaching to Allah on a more intimate level.
Going through our conversation, I’m sure you must have figured out how Sister Sohada can be of help to you Insha Allah, You might drop your questions below in the comment box and she will insha Allah reply all your Questions. But then, some of you might want to reach out or contact her. this is how to do that:
You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You can join her life coaching sessions on one of her facebook group If you are a strong mum with a child that has special needs you can join her Here. Send her an E-mail for direct contact and also check out her official website. If you wish to chat with her on Whatsapp also you can request for her phone number.
This is so long, I know! Hope you enjoyed and benefitted from it. Thank you! Sister Sohada Thank you so much for your time, May Allah reward you.