Rahma with Rose

Exploring Inner Strength and Overcoming Adversity: A Conversation with Zaahida Mahomedy

December 15, 2023 Dr. Rose Aslan/ Zaahida Mahomedy Season 1 Episode 19
Exploring Inner Strength and Overcoming Adversity: A Conversation with Zaahida Mahomedy
Rahma with Rose
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Rahma with Rose
Exploring Inner Strength and Overcoming Adversity: A Conversation with Zaahida Mahomedy
Dec 15, 2023 Season 1 Episode 19
Dr. Rose Aslan/ Zaahida Mahomedy

In this podcast episode, Zaahida Mahomedy shares her spiritual awakening and personal growth journey. Beginning her spiritual exploration at 13, influenced by her grandmother's devotion to the Qur’an, Zaahida navigated the challenges of growing up in a conservative Indian Muslim community in apartheid South Africa. Her journey took a significant turn in her mid-20s when she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. This health crisis deepened her spiritual path and highlighted the connection between emotional well-being and physical health.

Zaahida emphasizes the importance of emotional processing, nervous system regulation, and setting boundaries in the healing process. She talks about redefining her identity as a Muslim woman and advocating a holistic and personal engagement with the Quran. Zaahida's story is an inspiring example of resilience and transformation, demonstrating the power of faith and inner work in overcoming life's challenges and embracing authentic living.

Visit Zaahida on Instagram: @liveinspiredza or her website: https://zaahidamahomedy.com/.

Support the Show.

Find out more about Rose's work here: https://lnk.bio/dr.rose.aslan
Website: https://compassionflow.com

Support Rahma with Rose so I can keep producing more episodes here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/2197727/supporters/new

Music credits: Vocals: Zeynep Dilara Aslan; Ney/drum: Elif Önal; Tanbur: Katherine Hreib; Rebap: Hatice Gülbahar Hepsev

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Show Notes Transcript

In this podcast episode, Zaahida Mahomedy shares her spiritual awakening and personal growth journey. Beginning her spiritual exploration at 13, influenced by her grandmother's devotion to the Qur’an, Zaahida navigated the challenges of growing up in a conservative Indian Muslim community in apartheid South Africa. Her journey took a significant turn in her mid-20s when she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. This health crisis deepened her spiritual path and highlighted the connection between emotional well-being and physical health.

Zaahida emphasizes the importance of emotional processing, nervous system regulation, and setting boundaries in the healing process. She talks about redefining her identity as a Muslim woman and advocating a holistic and personal engagement with the Quran. Zaahida's story is an inspiring example of resilience and transformation, demonstrating the power of faith and inner work in overcoming life's challenges and embracing authentic living.

Visit Zaahida on Instagram: @liveinspiredza or her website: https://zaahidamahomedy.com/.

Support the Show.

Find out more about Rose's work here: https://lnk.bio/dr.rose.aslan
Website: https://compassionflow.com

Support Rahma with Rose so I can keep producing more episodes here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/2197727/supporters/new

Music credits: Vocals: Zeynep Dilara Aslan; Ney/drum: Elif Önal; Tanbur: Katherine Hreib; Rebap: Hatice Gülbahar Hepsev

Dr Rose and Zahida 

Dr. Rose Aslan: Welcome, Zahida, to Rahma with Rose. It's a pleasure to have you here. 

Zahida: As salamu alaykum. It's such a pleasure to be here, Rose, with you. 

Dr. Rose Aslan: So I'm so excited to have you here because we connected a while back, I think mainly through Simone's soul because we're both in her program. And I've just really enjoyed watching, you express yourself through social media in such beautiful ways.

That's really supportive of other women. And we had a couple of conversations and we connected and I was like, I really want to invite you to talk about and learn about your journey and your spiritual path. So without the further ado. I'd love to ask you the first question. Can you remember when you first started getting interested in spirituality?

Zahida: Very young. so I would say at 13 and at 13, I had this huge shift within myself. So I grew up in a very conservative family. my grandmother, my dadi, that's my paternal grandmother. she. She was very involved in the deen and the Quran was a very big part of her life. So I grew up literally in my grandmother's lap, listening to Quran, falling asleep in her lap while she was reciting Quran and unconsciously picking up a lot from her without even realizing it.

Because when you're a child, everything is just normal for you. And so around 13. I just had this feeling that I wanted to dedicate my life to Deen and that was the first time I picked up, an English translation of the Quran and that was not something that was common whilst I was growing up.

In fact, elders around me told me that, the Quran is not for us to read, later on, when I found out actually that was not true, I sent them the literature and I was like, by the way, I just want you to know, but, they told us that. And I think it was well meaning because they said that it should be restricted to ulama and so on, but something I actually didn't listen to them.

And I just kept reading it because I thought this is so beautiful. Why would I not read it? So I was completely mesmerized by it. And then as one 

Dr. Rose Aslan: does, I remember which translation that was. I'm so curious. 

Zahida: I think it was the, like the Yusuf Ali and the Shakespeare in English, which to be honest, at that age, I think I was at a stage where I just found that even more exciting.

Dr. Rose Aslan: then, a lot of us started with that translation. It was one of the most successful ones. Yeah. 

Zahida: I just remember feeling so amazed that Allah was speaking to us and that I was holding his words in my hand. And I had a way to actually, because I had been reciting those words in Arabic all my life, but to be able to actually read in English, it just felt so, there's just something magical about it for me.

And then I went on and you become a teenager and you go through life. And then I would say it's like the feeling kept coming and going. And in my twenties, it would come. So I always had a thirst for. It's the esoteric and I would read books and all of that, but it was only when I was 25 and pregnant with my first son and diagnosed with an illness that I think then it all really came together of okay, so where is Allah subhana wa ta'ala leading me to?

I had a couple of near death experiences as well and those really shook me and made me go, okay, so the spirituality thing is actually a very big part of who I am. And It's been now, it's going on 15 years, alhamdulillah, and it's become such a big part of who I am. It filters into my work. It expresses itself in every way.

Dr. Rose Aslan: Wonderful. Can you tell me more about the community you grew up in? I'm really curious to hear about that as well, and how it shaped you other than your grandmother and reciting the Quran. So I grew up in a 

Zahida: conservative community. When I say conservative, not just in terms of the way they express the, Islamic ideals, but also there was a lot of it's a cultural influence.

So I grew up in a desi Indian community, like my, from both sides, the great grandparents had emigrated from India, and then we moved to apartheid South Africa, which also influenced the way that I saw the world. and so conservative meaning, I think my parents now looking back, these are some of the realizations I've had only now, especially in light of current world events, is that they did a lot of what they did.

In order to survive. So even the conservators, conservatism wasn't to limit us. It was to help us survive to be outspoken and to be an outspoken woman and to be an outspoken woman of color. I can only imagine how terrified that made my parents and grandparents. And now when I look back with so much compassion and empathy for them that they weren't just trying to keep us quiet. They were keeping us quiet to try and keep us safe. 

Dr. Rose Aslan: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I love how you're actually trying to understand the perspective, even if it's not really your perspective anymore, but try to understand and to have empathy with that perspective. That's really valuable. So thank you for sharing that.

Let's go back to 25. So you were diagnosed with the illness, you're pregnant. What is it that happened? how did this illness or being pregnant affect your desire to get closer to God? what happened exactly? 

Zahida: At 25, I wanted a child, I wanted a baby, and Alhamdulillah, Allah blessed me with being pregnant pretty quickly.

And early on in my pregnancy, I would say in the first six weeks, I started to have symptoms. And I'd never experienced these symptoms before, but I also had never been pregnant before, so I didn't even know how much of it was related to the pregnancy. And as my pregnancy progressed, these symptoms And when, then I went to various specialists and eventually I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, which is an inflammatory bowel disease, which is supposedly chronic as well.

Right. And it was pretty bad. Like I had a very severe form of it. It wasn't mild in any way. Affected the quality of my life hugely and up until now, I considered myself a pretty healthy person, I exercised, I ate right, like I did all the things that I was supposed to do, so I didn't, couldn't really understand, I was young, 25 is really young, so to have an illness that was this severe, this young in life, when I was a pretty healthy person, didn't make sense to me and it took me a while, like I, went through all these things.

situations and hardships and almost died during the pregnancy and so many things happened and at some point it made me question why Allah would even cause me to still be alive. Like, how does somebody go through all of that? And if he really wanted my life to end, he would have taken it away. Why was I still alive?

And this really took me down a path of thinking about my illness outside the box. So for a long time, I tried a lot of alternative remedies. I did the medication, but I also looked at alternative remedies. homeopathy, natural path, like going to naturopaths, going to Hakeem's, like I tried a lot of different things, different diets and nothing really helped, it really didn't.

And I came to a point where I realized and it took a couple of years where I realized that there, there is an emotional component. There is a consciousness and energetic component. And that is when I realized that as much as I had been living really quote unquote healthy. The way I thought wasn't very healthy.

The way I processed my emotions, or rather I didn't process them, wasn't very healthy. The way I hung on to resentment wasn't healthy. The way that I didn't have any boundaries wasn't healthy. And although that doesn't seem to connect with my health, I started to do a lot of research and become very aware of the fact that directly impacted my health.

And so that's what Led me down this path of looking at emotional processing and nervous system regulation and setting boundaries and looking at my people pleasing patterns and looking at my anxiety patterns, because I had been living in an anxious state my entire life to the extent that I didn't even realize that I was anxious all the time, I had severe perfectionism issues, so there was a lot to undo and as I undid it, Alhamdulillah, my health.

started getting progressively better and it's been years and I've been having symptom free, alhamdulillah. which is not a common thing apparently that happens for people with that kind of disease. And I really put it down to that we underestimate how much of our emotional well being is tied up with our physical health.

Dr. Rose Aslan: Yeah, Mashallah. That's amazing. And I'm so glad to hear that by working on your inner healing process, that you're able to also physically heal your illness. that's amazing. and I hope that you will always be protected and be healthy. That's, who held space for you during that time?

Who helped you during this process to realize all these underlying issues? Because obviously this sounds like you had people behind you, a village, perhaps. I'd be curious to know who was there with you. 

Zahida: I really have to give kudos to my mom because she's the one who put me in touch with people who could do that. So as much as my mom didn't know what to do, and obviously she saw her daughter struggling and, wanted to obviously do something to help, she referred me to, some practitioners. That specialized in energy healing. And from there, I think I just took it and ran with it. From that very first session, I started to feel different.

I started to see things differently. Filters came down. And as I did that, I suddenly became voracious with reading books and doing research and finding out other things. I remember there was one book specifically called Mind Over Medicine. If I'm saying that correctly, I'll try and get the link for the book as well.

But it was written by a medical doctor. Who had been in the field for years and found that whenever someone so called spontaneously healed, they were seen as an anomaly and people were not spending enough time looking at what happened. Like they were just seen as Oh, it was a freak incident. It's spontaneous healing.

And then people will just move on. But she says, but what would happen if I actually sat down and looked at each of those cases individually and tried to find patterns? And that's what she did. She went into all these spontaneous healing. Cases. And at this point I was still struggling with my symptoms when I read this book, but it gave me so much hope.

And I think that's something we underestimate, like hearing that someone else was able to overcome or do something Plants a seed in our mind, and that can lead to all kinds of actions and roads that lead us to the result that we're desiring. And so as I read this book and heard the stories and she showed the patterns, I started to think, okay, so how can I make these patterns work in my life?

So it was something that I was very actively involved in, even though I sought out the help of practitioners, I think I also played a very active role in it. In that I was like, I'm going to do whatever it takes. And I think I even made a decision with myself because I was really making a lot of dua, I was performing my tahajjud salah regularly, asking Allah, because I just felt like I can't live like this.

I don't want to live like this. At that stage, I had two boys. They were both very little. I had a toddler and a baby. And after my second son was born. After that, I had various health complications. I almost died there as well, not even related to the ulcerative colitis. And so it just was too many things that had happened that made me go, you know what, like something needs to change and that something is probably going to be me.

And so I said, I am committed and there has to be a way. I don't know what the way is. But I'm just going to keep on going until I figure it out. And SubhanAllah, it's just what I did. And I really believe when you make that commitment, Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala guides you and pushes you and makes the means and resources available. And then it's up to you to be courageous in taking that. 

Dr. Rose Aslan: Wow. Amazing. So primarily it was from your research and reading them. It sounds like that you're able to change your, in your internal kind of ways of thinking and your mindset to informed out the external. Is that true?

Zahida: I can't say it was only that because I will say the energy healing and the. And I think the space that was held for me by those practitioners was incredibly powerful, alhamdulillah. And also during that time, that's when I started then exploring energy healing and thinking, hey, I should learn more about this. this is working. And as someone who had, I have a psychology degree and seeing such quick results and such profound results in the way that I thought and the way that I was processing situations that talk therapy wouldn't have given me in the same amount of time.

that really made me very curious. So I don't want to underplay the energetic shifts. I think also the energetic shifts played in a very big part in helping me stay open to what I was reading and stay open to what I was researching. Whereas before, I do think that we filter a lot of what we can take in. And when those energetic shifts happen and those filters come down, then we can really take it in and run with it in a different way. 

Dr. Rose Aslan: So for people who aren't really familiar with energy healing, because I've spoken about this with people and they're like, what do you mean? Could you explain like what this modality is and how it works and how it really helped you along the way?

Zahida: So I know there's a lot of different energy healing modalities. And since then I've studied a lot of them, alhamdulillah, but the main one that really helped, I think was a modality core body talk and people have a lot of mixed feelings about it. And, I can say safely say that it works. I've studied it to the advanced levels.

I've seen the shifts and changes in my life and other people's lives. of course, as you know how it is, Rose, once you're into it, then you're like, okay, what else? Looking at things and you start to become a lot more intuitive. It's not so prescriptive anymore. It's not oh, I should follow this type of way.

It's like intuitively feeling into what's next. But I highly recommend body talk as a modality for these things, especially, when someone is in that very dysregulated state where Anything, like anything that's just said to them is only going to hit to a certain level. It can't go beyond that depth.

And body talk really helps shift things around to make you more open to it. So that I found extremely helpful. 

Dr. Rose Aslan: How interesting. Actually, I have a friend who practices that here, so I've experienced body talk and I did find it to be powerful. So I'm glad to hear that. That's one of the main modalities that helped you.

So it sounds like from what you've shared so far, Zahida, that your spiritual and healing path are one and the same, would you say? 

Zahida: Absolutely. I don't think you can separate them at all, because I also think like people like to compartmentalize, and I can understand why they like to compartmentalize their relationship with Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala.

And some people even compartmentalize that from spirituality, although I don't think you really can, but you could try, but you'd limit yourself, in my opinion, and then they compartmentalize their health and then all of these things. And for me, like, how can it not all spill over? It's like this big, lush rainforest, really, all of it is interconnected.

And if one thing is And I also think that going on that path, that spiritual path also helped me connect to Allah in a way that I'd never connected before, because a lot of my connection was very based on, I think, right and wrong jurisprudence. That's how I was raised. Yeah. And there's nothing wrong with that.

That has a place. But I often think about this now that the Quran, I think majority of. Us in the community, and I'm talking about when I say community, people who grew up in a Muslim home, we look at the Quran through a jurisprudence lens. And that's like taking this mighty, incredible text and confining it to just a legal manual.

But if you look at it through the lens of poetry, or astronomy, or science, or geography, or history, or art, There's so much that you can look at it, or even psychology, you can look at the Quran through any of those lenses and get so much from it, but we just limited to a legal book. And I think as I went along this path, I stopped looking at it as just a legal book and started looking at it something to connect more deeply to.

And I would say, I reconnected with the 13 year old me who was just mesmerized by it. 

Dr. Rose Aslan: I love that so much, Zahida. That is I've got chills in my body as you're talking about this because also for me, I agree, a lot of people compartmentalize it. Usually they assume we talk about being on a spiritual path and we neglect everything for the sake of our connection with Allah, but they don't Realize that also taking care of the body that we've been given this vessel is also part of that spirituality because we, if we neglect it, that also is neglecting what God has given us, right?

So I love how you're talking about, healing your mindset, your body and your health helped you elevate your spirituality. I really want to emphasize this because for people listening to this, I don't think they hear this enough, right? Especially for Muslims who Listen to traditional Imams and scholars and jurisprudence and all they talk about is stuff, intellectualizing the Qur'an is legal aspects of the Qur'an and, also like you, I take now an embodied approach to the Qur'an, which I didn't in the past, you know, when I became Muslim many years ago, my approach was very textual, very intellectual, And I didn't have a healing aspect to my path.

It was just spirituality and nothing else mattered. and it's so nice to meet other people who are like, yes, both of them go hand in hand. the healing path is the spiritual path, essentially. 

Zahida: Absolutely. What you mentioned now that, the approach you took, I think everyone starts off that way.

Everyone, you have, you start off with approaching it very intellectually and as a guidebook. But then, though, if you are able to, Evolve that relationship with the Quran, you are evolving your relationship with Allah. If you're starting to see the interconnectedness, that is where you start having a deeper relationship.

And this is what I see also, and you'll probably see it in the programs that you run, but I see it in my programs as well, is that one of the key things that people walk away with is I've never experienced Allah like this. I'm experiencing my relationship with Allah in a way that I never have before.

And that has been the biggest gift for me. And I think that sometimes we You know, we're living in a time where people are hungry and thirsty for this, and I'm going to say it like this new age spirituality, has taken some of the aspects of it and put God out of the equation, and so what's happened is in the separation, it's like people think, oh, I can either go with this new age spirituality, or I can either go with the jurisprudence, and I'm saying, actually, our deen has both, but you have to approach that aspect of it, and there's so much there for you, and it's so nourishing.

Dr. Rose Aslan: Yeah, thank you. I just want to emphasize that again and again in our conversation because the people listening might not have heard this enough, right? And it's not repetitive. It's the fact that we haven't heard this. I can't shut up about it. among scholars, the fact that, all of it together, right?

And we need to start hearing scholars talk about this as well. it just, yeah. I love that we can talk about this and it's just of course, right? but it's not common. The fact that when you start, bringing compassion to your life, for example, and then you experience this side of the divine that you don't get to experience in the mainstream Muslim communities, right?

Because it's not very compassionate, in those communities. And so we just need more of that, right? Especially as women too. how do you bring the feminine as a Muslim woman into your understanding of spirituality and the healing path? 

Zahida: I would say it requires you to question the biases you have about what it means to be a woman in Islam. And I'm going to say that sometimes, meaning members in the community, they also have their faulters and they also have their biases and those faulters and biases. They're often not aware of, and so when they are interpreting, certain aspects of the scene, it's interpreted via those filters and biases.

And we have to also step back and go what is it really about? What does it really mean to be a woman in the society? And look at the biases that you have. Examine that and how does that impact your relationship with Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. You probably have noticed this as well, Rose, but I've noticed that so many women in our community have a very stilted relationship with Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala because they don't know How to make, it makes sense through the lens of being a woman and being in your feminine.

And I think that's been a big aspect of my own healing is coming to terms with my femininity and the power of that femininity. if, even if you look at the story of Musa, he was surrounded by strong women. He, his strength came from their strength, right? Rasulullah Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam as well, married to a powerful, strong woman.

and his strength came from that, like he drew strength from that relationship. And then even Ayesha Radilal, a very different dynamic, but again, very strong woman. So I would say to rethink it in terms of your culture, because in my culture, certainly being of Indian background, women are supposed to be very, it's one kind of way, demure, quiet. That kind of thing. And I was never that. 

Dr. Rose Aslan: I would use vivacious to describe you, not demure. 

Zahida: Imagine my poor parents living in apartheid South Africa. with this very Vivacious, outspoken little girl thinking, Oh, how are we going to keep her safe? But yeah, I had to figure out how to make all of that work.

And I think one of the key things for me is reminding myself that Allah created us with that diversity for a reason. And that if you are more quiet, then you were meant to be more quiet. And if you are louder, you are meant to be louder. And it's all perfect and it's all good. and Allah's plan.

Dr. Rose Aslan: Yeah. So what does it mean to be a Muslim woman for you now? How do you understand that? And how do you speak about with other Muslim women? what does that 

Zahida: mean? I feel like we need another podcast episode. 

Dr. Rose Aslan: Yeah. I'm just feeling this is a great conversation topic that I want to hear from you. and also just a woman. Let's talk about Muslim women and also what does it mean to be a woman? But let's start with Muslim first. 

Zahida: I think in my thirties, so I'm going to be 40 soon, inshallah, next year I'll be turning 40. But my entire thirties has been about confronting My own internalized misogyny, and that's a hard thing to say because I grew up around that and I didn't even realize where I had internalized misogyny and by confronting that, I also had to look at my own mother wound.

I had to look at where I had suppressed parts of my femininity in order to appear strong, in order to appear worthy. And I. The journey of that has really been a very deep one for me. There's also been a lot of pain to confront. And I would say at this point, Alhamdulillah, maybe I'll, in the future I can have this conversation and say I'm at a different point of this, but at this point, Alhamdulillah, I feel like I am Really embracing being a woman a lot more, and embracing the gifts of being a woman.

I'm much more aware of the way we speak about ourselves as women, and even the way just we function as women, our bodily functions, and all that comes with it. But I'm beginning to see how Allah Subh'anaHu shows a lot of love and care for women, even in the way He's prescribed certain things. The one simple thing is the menstrual cycle and how Allah has given us a break from even the obligatory acts of worship during that time.

And I remember the moment where I had that realization that, Ya Allah, you are giving me a concession. Am I giving myself a concession? Am I still expecting myself to perform at that same level, even though You yourself have ordained for me to take a break, and if I'm taking a break from obligatory acts of worship, then what is it within me?

What is it within my thinking and my filters that makes me think that I have to still keep going all the time? realizing that The feminine has so much, holds so much power and realizing how I want that to come through my, I really want to have a giggle about this because my husband and I were talking about this.

My boys are becoming teenagers now, and I know you also, Rose, your son is in a similar age group. We're on the verge. and they need sometimes a bit of a harder line, I think. they think they need that firm boundary drawn. And recently we sat down and I said, listen, you are the masculine here and I do not want to be the policeman.

I'm not doing it. Every time I try and do it, I literally feel like it's the resonance field of that energetics of being that masculine. I can't hold it. I can't sustain it. it's harmful to me to do it for too long. So I'm passing that baits and onto you, I'm not going to do that part of being that kind of disciplinarian.

And we had that conversation. And, so just even for me to have that ability to recognize that I can't hold space for that and to have that conversation and reach out for help and support regarding that's saying a lot about how I feel about being a woman at this point. 

Dr. Rose Aslan: Yeah. And realizing that it's not oppressive to just pass on some things to your husband if you're able to, and it's not easy.

 So how, I know you do things differently, right? You're the person who swimsagainst the current. So how's that look in your community as a Muslim woman and all of that,what, Parts of the stream do you follow? what parts do you just do your own thing?

 how do you figure out like, what's the thing, what your thing is? 

Zahida: So it's interesting that you use those words to describe it because it's not something I intended to do, to swim against the stream. It's just by the more I be me, the more that organically happens whether I like it or not.

And then I just have to make myself like it somehow. I would say that, the way it's shown up for me it's made me question a lot of things, and I don't take anything as Given, like I am very open to questioning things and having a firm faith in a loss around that and a relationship with him has given me a very firm stance with that.

I sometimes wonder how difficult it must be when you don't have that 'cause then you can just be pulled in any direction. That's a really hard place to be in.

Dr. Rose Aslan: I see you as someone who's living a very authentic life as a Muslim woman who's like living a very genuine life. And it's not unfortunately so common, right? So how, I guess the question more is if I reiterate it in a different way is how do you keep yourself grounded, centered, following Islam, but also doing your own thing when it feels right?

How do you know When it's right, and how do you know to do when it's okay to do your own thing? And, I know you're the boundary expert too. So also maybe this 

Zahida: I would say that, the thing that really has grounded me a lot is that experience at 25.

 you mentioned that I live very authentically. I know the price of not living authentically and I am not prepared to pay that price. And I've had various points in the last 15 years where I. Was presented with the opportunity of sacrificing my authenticity to stay with the status quo.

And when I thought about the price that I would have to pay, it, it wasn't worth it in terms of anything I was gaining, any benefit that I seem to be gaining by going along with the current, it just was not worth it. So I think that has been maybe a very big blessing in my life that I had that experience.

And so. Even if I get pulled in another current, it's just such a clear no for me. Developing my intuition, and I think Rose, you probably feel this way as well. My intuition has been a strength of mine, alhamdulillah, for a very long time. If you are an empathetic person, that's the payoff. you, that's at least one of the benefits that you get from being a highly sensitive person is I have a very strong intuition.

And doing the spiritual work and this inner work is only, and the energy work has made my intuition stronger and stronger. And so I rely on that a lot. Now for someone who's very jurisprudence and very black and white, that may not make sense. They may think, Oh, you're just following your nafs. The thing about intuition is being able to separate that from like your nafs and from your ego.

So a big part of that has been the shadow work. And I think we don't emphasize this enough because when we talk healing work, people just think, Oh, love and light and good vibes. And then you feel great. No, when we're talking about feeling work, we're talking about like there's a saying here in South Africa, according to Afrikaans, it is the snotentrana.

Snotentrana is like when you're crying so much that you have like stuff coming out of your nose and like your hot mess and mascara running everywhere. That's snotentrana. So it's the snotentrana. Elbow deep in really uncomfortable shadow work and that has really allowed me to get really a lot better.

At discerning when something is my ego, versus my intuition and something that I, it's a core thing that I teach in my boundaries evolution program, because I feel like you cannot set boundaries in a way that aligns with your Dean. If you don't know the difference between when you're setting it from your ego versus from your intuition.

And a lot of good boundaries setting is about tuning into your intuition. So I think it's that, and also continuing to work with mentors, Rose, because. it's Dr. Bilal where that also says the sharpest knife cannot carve its own handle. And I think the ego is such a slippery fish that it can convince you in all ways.

So I have never stopped with my growth work. I have never stopped being mentored. I always at some point, I have some kind of coach, some kind of mentor. So to point out those blind spots for me, although I've gotten better at seeing them myself, Alhamdulillah, I can point that out. So when you say I'm going against the current, It's not about just doing whatever I feel like in the moment.

It's really about constantly going. Okay. So if my objective is to make my, reach those Akhira goals, inshallah, and make my dunya also as good as possible in that. And I know what my purpose is. I know who I'm meant to serve. I know what the kind of person that I'm trying to be as I'm in that service.

Then I make choices from that is always my direction and my point. And then it's a matter of doing the shadow walk, looking at where my ego is coming up, using my intuition and just rinse and repeat that. 

Dr. Rose Aslan: that's so right. That's so beautiful, Zaheda. The idea, and I just want to re emphasize this again, of what you said, is the idea of being able to distinguish between your intuition versus ego, because I think for so many people, the ego is in control, and it's guiding us, and that's where the danger lies, and Muslims would just use the vocabulary of shaitan, the same idea of the devil, and in English, we just call it the ego, versus intuition, which is the god and spirit.

The God inspired and led, Part of us that is on this path that is clean and good. that's really beautiful to hear that. if we talk about, Living authentic life, You hear a lot of people, coaches and other people saying let's live an authentic life. Can you give me a concrete example of what that looks like?

Cause I think people who listen, they hear about this, but we're like, what does that mean? What does it look like? give me like a specific example of. You doing something or responding to something that was very authentic of you that you wouldn't have done in the past pre 25. 

Zahida: I'm going to draw a clear line in the sand here and say that when Western century coaches who have removed God out of the equation, talking about authentic life, I don't know what they mean. Because that could mean following your ego all day, every day. 

Dr. Rose Aslan: Exactly. I want Zahid as a understanding. I want your concrete example. So my 

Zahida: understanding of it is shaped by my spiritual journey. It is shaped by my relationship with Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. So when I'm talking about authentic, I'm talking about your fitrah. I'm talking about who Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala Created you to be, the weaknesses that he placed in you and the strength that he placed in you. And so for me, any kind of spiritual growth, any internal work, healing work, shadow work that you do is about removing the layers more and connecting with those parts of you.

And a key part of that is that the more you do that. The stronger your energy field becomes and the stronger the magnetism in you becomes in that both your attracting magnetism and repairing magnetism become stronger. So a lot of people will become more irritated by you. A couple of days ago I got a message from someone who said, A person who I've never interacted with before sends me a DM and she says, I really like your videos, but I don't like the way you talk.

you talk too fast. And the way you talk gives me anxiety. Tone it down. And, I said, no. So that is a very practical example and somebody might be listening to this, but Sahila, shouldn't you be more considerate? Shouldn't you be more accommodating? Like you're trying to be like a helpful person. She might need your help.

She needs you to tone it down so that you don't think. And to that, I will say. The fact that she feels that way when I talk means that what I'm saying is not for her because what I'm saying, yes, maybe anyone can apply it, but I feel like certain ways of things being said appeal to people in a certain way, right?

And maybe it doesn't, maybe it's jarring her that way because she's not actually ready for the message that I'm delivering in the way that I'm delivering. Maybe there's somebody with a different approach that she can resonate with but even if we put her aside. Should I entirely change my personality, the personality that is loved by, closest family, my partner, by my children, by the people who really appreciate me for who I am and who Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala has designed me to be?

Should I just abandon that so that I can be more palatable for her? And then where does it end? Where does it end? Because the next day someone will come and say, you speak too slow. And then the next day someone will come and say, I didn't like that. Where does it ever end? So I think that's a very practical example of somewhere where, that's living authentically is being able to Take someone's feedback and say, it's not for me. 

Dr. Rose Aslan: That's a beautiful example. Thank you for sharing that. And it's just great to hear in a very specific way, how you set your boundaries and how you choose to not let other people's opinions and tone policing affect you. That's powerful. I think every woman needs to hear this and learn how to set our boundaries and to stop letting other people's thoughts about us affect us. Cause it's not about us. It's about them. 

Zahida: Actually, that links back to what we were speaking about your identity as a female, as a woman. And I think across the board, whether you're Muslim or you're not Muslim, I think almost every woman has experienced this where she's asked to tone herself down, she's asked to be nicer and to be all of these things and that authenticity and you knowing your value system and you knowing how to discern between your ego and your intuition is going to guide you in when it's actually consideration that Allah Subhanallah needs you to have. And when it's just you people pleasing. yeah, great. And there's a lot of people pleasing that shows up just in generalized relationships that really are harmful to both parties, I would say. Yeah. 

Dr. Rose Aslan: Yeah, to all women out there, it's time to just say no, to start saying no all the time. In fact, we are in no vember. This is the month of practicing no even more than ever, as the month that we're recording in, and yeah. 

Zahida: I also want to add in that I think sometimes people underestimate the cost. Of that people pleasing is that we don't realize that every time you do that. Now imagine if I took that and simple example, a random example. But if I sat with that and now I invested all this energy into okay, every time before I post, oh, am I speaking slowly? Am I calm? Am I this, am I that? As opposed to just showing up and being me because the person on social media is the same person that you see behind those doors. and I would say I even took it down a few notches for you guys. You should see me behind your maybe I should turn it up a little bit more to create that more of that rebellion and be even more in alignment with that. But the thing is that the amount of energy and overthinking it takes to constantly be molding yourself to everyone else's expectations. No wonder I got sick. Yeah.

No wonder. We're exhausted. No wonder we don't have energy. No wonder we feel purposeless and directionless because if your direction is determined by what everyone's opinion is, and everybody, all 7 billion people have such different opinions. it's that, do you remember that story about the two, the father and son with the donkey and then one gets on the donkey and then one comes down?

Do you know that story, Rose? I think so. yeah. So if you are familiar with it, no matter what you do, somebody thinks there's something wrong with it. So how much energy are you going to put into constantly, quote unquote, considering other people and constantly molding yourself to fit 

Dr. Rose Aslan: that? Yeah.

I think it's important for people to hear this, that, while this might not cure all physical illnesses, doing the inner work can give relief to physical illnesses and symptoms. So it's very possible. I know that when I hear you speaking that when I left an abusive marriage. My health just improved and I didn't do anything.

It was amazing. Just by leaving that situation. And then of course I've had to do a lot of work, but just literally by leaving, amazing things happened. It was a miracle. really I consider it a miracle that I was able to leave. So I'm completely with you on needing to work on the inner so that the external can also, heal as well.

So what's in your toolbox on Zahida? So when when you have a difficult situation come up nowadays and you feel dysregulated, for example, right now we are witnessing a genocide in Palestine. How are you supporting yourself? How are you working through challenges? And it could be any challenge, but if you want to talk about The current one, feel free to 

Zahida: be very authentic. This has been the hardest one. And I think we all feeling that nothing has really touched the level of this one. And I think one of the major tools that I have is offering myself a lot of space to feel what I feel. And in the past, I didn't give myself that grace. Yeah. So it's really something that I teach now.

And I think we underestimate that. I think maybe sometimes people have fear of their own emotions and they feel like, if I let it all out, it's never going to stop. And that's not true. You're not a bottomless pit of healing. It's, it's a wave. You ride that wave out and it'll come through again and it's waves.

So allowing myself to ride through that, allowing myself to also be confused. I don't know about you, Rose, but I felt a lot of confusion. I also have given a lot of thanks and gratitude for my work up until now, because I'm sure you can relate to this. I am so grateful that I already have these things in place.

I realize that there are some people out there who are awakening for the first time ever in their lives. And that must be brutally painful to awaken in this particular time. So we are seeing like a collective awakening. And with that, I think there's also a certain like being able to figure out what is my individual grief and what is the collective grief that I'm tuning into.

And I'm also just trying to figure that out right now because I think also the grief is so loud. I don't know if you feel that that's the only way I can describe it energetically. It's really loud and also using everything that I've spoken about as we're speaking here of using my intuition, figuring it out.

And there's no Neat little packaged way that I found to, to navigate it. It's like a hour to hour. Like I would find that in any given day during this period, there'll be times where I just feel like, forget it all. I don't even want to tell people about the programs I'm running. I just want to like. Nestle away in some corner and then the next hour, I'm like, no, you're a leader. You have chosen to be a leader. So leaders show up when it's hard and leaders lead the way and leaders are willing to face the criticism of other people disagreeing with them. And so throughout the day, it's one of these different feelings and just navigating that and holding space for all of that.

Dr. Rose Aslan: Yeah, thank you. that's powerful to hear that even someone like you with all this really intensive inner work you've been doing and you support so many other people, even you are struggling. I think for people to deny that they're struggling, I think they're just gaslighting themselves, right? The fact that it sucks. Basically, that's why I tell people, it just sucks period to have to watch this, and not being able to do anything about it. Just Sucks and it hurts 

Zahida: and I think even the pandemic wasn't the thought on us. I think even the pandemic wasn't such an awakening. So again, I'm giving a lot of thanks. It also makes me. even more committed to putting this work out in the world, but there's a larger purpose to it. but again, to be that leader and to show up regardless, it's really tested me in this time. thank you 

Dr. Rose Aslan: for doing that because, some people have disappeared into their holes and they needed that, but it's also important for some of us to stay visible because a lot of people need to hear what you're offering. So I appreciate that you're continuing to do that as well as Zahida. So as we wrap up, do you have any, pearls of wisdom you would like to share with the listeners, anything that, if you just sum up things that you've learned from life that you would like others to hear and to bring into their own life and. What would you offer to them? 

Zahida: What I'd like to offer is that there's so much available to you, and I know especially during this time when we're seeing a genocide and we're seeing just such, there's duality everywhere, but it's just so much of darkness, just so much of it all the time. I want you to also remember that there's so much light and that there's so much available to you.

That there are resources out there that can do so much for you if you allow them to. I want people to know that Allah knows your name and knows who you are and he's watching your journey and he's invested in you. Are you invested in him? and that. I truly believe this. I know it can sound very glib, but I do believe anything is possible.

I have seen it in my life. My life has been one miracle after the other. I didn't even touch on the fact that I have a unicornate uterus. So I have half a uterus and they find it a miracle that I had not just one child, but two, Alhamdulillah. So we didn't even touch on that. So Some, one of the things that I often say to like people in my mastermind is the matter doesn't matter.

As much as the external is showing you that these are the limits, Allah Subh'anaHu Wa Ta A'la is the controller of the matrix. He can bend that matrix. We need to get on board of Being open to the possibility of that bending and really, the more we go on the spiritual path and the more we do the shadow work, the more we connect to the power that Allah has placed in us and the more you plug into that, you don't become more selfish, you actually become more giving.

You actually look for ways in which to spread that, When you do it via this route of doing the shadow work. And, I would tell anyone who's listening, if you're listening, if you've come this far into the episode, you've listened for a reason, you're resonating for a reason, you matter, what you have to bring into the world matters, your voice matters, the collective needs you, the ummah needs you, step up to it.

Dr. Rose Aslan: Thank you so much, Zahida. This has been such a rich conversation, full of so much feminine power. So I just love, everything we covered. If people want to find you online, where do they go? 

Zahida: I am everywhere. So you will find me, the main place to find me is Instagram. My handle is @liveinspiredza that's L I V E I N S P I R E D Z A.

They can also find me my podcast. if they enjoyed this podcast, then they may enjoy my episodes there as well. They'll find me on all the podcast platforms. We're on liveinspired with Zahida and, they'll find me on YouTube as well. TikTok. I'm. Wow. Even TikTok. I'm on TikTok. I'm trying. I'm not, I'm so impressed. I have my seasons with TikTok . 

Dr. Rose Aslan: I feel too old for TikTok. I have not ventured there yet. 

Zahida: wow. TikTok is fun. I love how to sponsor that algorithm is actually okay. .

Dr. Rose Aslan: Cool. Very cool. I'm so glad you're there and Excellent. So you know how to find her. And her information will also be in the show notes of the podcast.

So it's been such a pleasure. Thank you so much for coming and speaking, to me on Rahma with Rose. 

Zahida: Thank you for having me, Rose. I've really enjoyed this conversation as well. I'm really glad we got a chance to do this.