May 8, 2015

Love, Inshallah welcomes back guest columnist Dilshad Ali for Mother’s Day.

Lil D & Dilshad

You ever have those moments where your love for your children surges up like a tidal wave, drowning you in overwhelming warmth and sweetness? It could be the most mundane thing, but in that moment, your love for your child is so clear and pure and strong that it almost hurts.

It happens when Hamza comes home from school yelling “Mama!” because he is so excited to see me and tell me about something that happened that day. Shoes full of mulch from the playground, fingers dirty, his nose needing cleaning – he’s a stinky bugger. But his eagerness to find mefills me with a surge of love.

Or, the other day when Amal was doing her homework and I was working on my laptop, she says to me, “Mamma, when I grow up, you’ll have a room in my house. And, if I’m rich, I’m going to give you a servant.”

I asked her, “What about bhai? (Lil D) If he’s still living with me, then what?”

“He will live with me too. And I’ll have a drawer full of beads and a drawer full of twirlers just for him.”

It was all matter of fact to her. For me, it was a love surge moment.

Then, there’s Lil D. Yesterday, after he got home from school, he went upstairs to his room. I believe in giving him downtime when he comes home. He gets home from school around 3:15 pm, and his home therapists come at 4:30 to do two hours of community-based instruction (CBIs) and run various academic and life skills programs (like emptying out the dishwasher and sorting the utensils).

So, for that approximately one and a half hours before therapy begins, Lil D gets Lil D time – whether that means a therapeutic long, warm shower, eating a second lunch, wrapping himself in blankets on the floor or in his bedroom, or spinning his beloved beads on a spoon or toothbrush while making loud vocalizations (stimming).

So, when Lil D went upstairs yesterday, I let him be. Knowing that he’s usually hungry when he comes home, I called up to him, asking if he wanted to come down and eat. After about 15-20 minutes, I heard his distress cries starting, as he was escalating towards a meltdown. I was pretty sure he was hungry, but he was lying in the hall under a blanket, refusing to come down.

Though the general rule is to eat at the dinner table, I took his food up to him. He sat up near the top of the stairs and ploughed through his rice mixed with korma. And then, when he was done, he looked at me – direct eye contact, not looking through me — but right at me.

And said, “More.”

As in, he wanted more to eat.

I suppressed my love surge (and urge to squeeze him) and said, “That’s a good job asking for more! I’ll get you more right now.” I ran downstairs and got him a second helping and brought it back to him at the top of the stairs. He promptly ate that as well.

What do your kids’ words mean to you? I’m sure those first words they uttered as babies and toddlers, they were very precious indeed. Perhaps you recorded them in a baby book or mentally stored it away as part of your precious parental memories. Do you realize how precious your child’s language is? Their ability to talk? How many neurons have to zap and parts of the brain have to align for speech to occur? Maybe you have kids who prattle all day long. Maybe yours are teenagers who go the whole day saying three things to you. Maybe you have a baby, who is starting to babble with meaning the words, “Ma-ma. Da-da. Ba-ba”

How amazing is that? How important are those words? How crucial is the ability to express oneself, to communicate?

I recorded Amal and Hamza’s first words. I marveled at every aspect of their speech, as they went from babbles to saying what I so craved to hear – “Mamma” – to full sentences. Each word they said was all the more precious to me because their oldest brother couldn’t speak.

Lil D is nonverbal, but by no means silent. He has noises. He has the approximations of a few words. But as for his vocabulary, he’s uttered no more than 5-10 words in his entire life – water, kippa (chips), ki-ka (kit-kat), choca (chocolate), tickle ma (tickle me), hep ma (help me), gosht (meat) and aw done (all done). These words come and go and are not at all consistently or always used appropriately.

Recently two hard-sought-after words made it into his arsenal – “showa” (shower) and “more.” These two words broke through Lil D’s autism and are becoming part of him. Lil D doesn’t say “more” as he is playing with beads. He says it when he is done with a meal and wants to eat more.

He says it appropriately. He knows what the word means.


I want more, too.


Read more by Dilshad, here. Reposted by permission of the author from Muslimah Next Door.

Dilshad D. Ali is the Managing Editor of the Muslim Portal. She has covered Muslims and Islam in America for more than 10 years for a variety of media outlets, including Newsweek, IslamOnline, Azizah , Illume,, Islamica, and Beliefnet. During her time at Beliefnet, Ms. Ali greatly expanded coverage of Islam and Muslims in America and was responsible for the site’s Hinduism and minor Asian religion pages. She developed a comprehensive “Understanding Islam” section for Beliefnet prior to the fifth anniversary of 9/11, managed numerous blogs and newsletters, and produced an award-winning online travel diary with Islam scholar Akbar Ahmed.

October 12, 2013

10th annual

Deeply honored that has been nominated for “Best Blog”, “Best Group Blog” and “Best Post/Series” in the 10th annual Brass Crescent Awards.

If you could take a minute to vote for we would be so grateful. Shout out to other stellar nominees including Ali Mattu, Hind Makki, Precious Rasheeda Muhammad & Dilshad D. Ali!

Polls close tomorrow – thanks for voting!

July 31, 2013

Love, Inshallah welcomes back Dilshad Ali, who provided a previous post about raising a child with autism. 

Lil D-and-Dilshad-at-the-lake

What would a parent do for their child? Anything. How far do we go for them? As far as it takes. What do we give up? Whatever we need to. What do we change about ourselves? Everything. When you add special needs into the picture, then your ability to go the distance for your child becomes the stuff legends are made of. And, there are no thanks necessary – it’s just what you do.

I have quit jobs, stayed up nights on end well beyond the baby and toddler years. I’ve driven thousands of miles to and fro from therapies, spent countless hours in meetings with schools hammering out the best IEP and school situation for him and have driven to his school three times daily to administer medicine.

I’ve cooked daily for him, adhering to special diets. I’ve held his hands and pinned his arms down to stop him from hitting himself, placed myself between him and walls to absorb his blows. I have endured bites, bruise-inducing pinches, head butts and kicks to my stomach and neck leaving me gasping for breath during the worst of his meltdowns and self-injurious behavior.

I’ve stayed up into the wee hours of the night doing research, trying to find out what are the best treatments and therapies to pursue, what testing needs to be done, what locks I can crack open only to be faced with new and different autism locks. I raised heaven and earth to get Lil D’s iPad back when it was stolen from him. This is what mothers do – we raise our children, in every definition of the word.


January 31, 2013

Lil D-and-Dilshad-at-the-lake

Spring break on the beach: Are we a couple of free-wheeling college students on Daytona Beach? Nah. We’re a family of five (seven with my in-laws included) who decided to come to a beach in South Carolina because it seemed the only place that everyone, especially our eldest son, would have some fun.

The question asked by so many leading up to this trip was: What do you think will happen?

Meaning, our family’s life — in a way — has been held hostage the past several months by the extreme behavioral changes in Lil D. So, what will happen if we take our family out of our home and the home/school routine, which has been both a safe haven and a kind of prison for Lil D of late? How will we handle him in an unfamiliar environment?

It’s the beach, I told everyone. It’s the ocean. It’s the one thing that has made him happy in the past. So, it can’t be any worse than what’s been going on at home and school. It can only be the same, or better.

Would it be like the reunion of two old souls in some epic Hollywood love story? Their eyes meet. Would the love rekindle? Would the spark still be there?



February 17, 2012

It’s been a beautifully hectic week!

Thanks to all our readers for your love and support as we make our way down the East Coast. There’s something very special happening here – as we move from town to town the conversation and energy are swelling.

We took the afternoon off to visit the renovated Islamic wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art — incredible! Our Love Tour blog posts from Boston and NYC are coming, but in the meantime, here is some additional press coverage of Love InshAllah from this week.

The Houston Chronicle picked up a feature story on the book, NPR’s Michel Martin chatted with editor Ayesha Mattu on the show Tell Me More, and Dilshad Ali with interviewed editor Nura Maznavi.

Have a great long weekend!

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