Nahela Morales

Breaking Stereotypes: Living as a Muslim Latina Single Mom

In this day and age, single Muslim mothers are often ostracized, deemed unfit to marry, or blamed for their circumstances.

For a new Muslim, and a Latina, this stereotype may be even more emphasized. However, single motherhood is no more than another test from Allah, and the person being tested with it is only fulfilling their duty in this life: to worship and struggle for a promised reward. Single motherhood is a life of hard work and sacrifice, and so it may be that the reward is that much greater. Only Allah knows.

My son was conceived when I was 29 years old, and I had him at the age of 30. When I was younger, I used to say I never wanted to become a mother. However, when I became pregnant, I was delighted with the idea of motherhood and I felt that I was more than ready. At 5 months pregnant, my son’s father and I separated. Nevertheless, I began to focus on making a life for myself and my baby. The minute I found out I was pregnant I knew this blessing was a lifetime commitment, therefore being the sole provider and mother came hand in hand.

I was born in Mexico City and raised most of my life in California, I had moved to New York prior to my pregnancy. My journey to Islam began soon after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Living in New York, the incident hit very close to home, and it awakened a curiosity for Islam and my subsequent spiritual journey. Andrew was born a few years later and soon after his birth I decided to embrace Islam.

I believe that his birth brought on many positive changes in my life and Islam was one of them.

I had been on this spiritual quest for quite some time, but reflecting on the type of future I dreamed for my son made it easy to finally take that leap of faith. The values and morals emphasized in Islam was exactly what I was looking for to raise my little boy.

Soon after I embraced Islam and decided to wear the hijab, I was fired from my job with a baby to care for. As I desperately fought to hold on to my new faith, many trials poured my way early on. All I kept thinking at the time was that I wanted a better life for my son and I knew Islam is the key to success. I remember always asking Allah, subhana wa ta’ala, to guide me in order for me to guide him. Fighting my nafs and staying firm regardless of the various challenges we were facing at the time was difficult but we got through it together.

Andrew has been my rock since day one.

We began learning about Islam together. I recall reciting Surah al Fatihah to him and before I knew it he was actually reciting it back to me, Alhamdulillah! By the age of 3, I enrolled with him in Arabic classes at our local mosque. We learned the Arabic alphabet and many small surahs together, masha Allah. Because my son’s father and I separated when I was still pregnant, I have been able to raise my child without restrictions of any kind until I remarried. Unfortunately due to his lack of understanding of my religion, I was forced into court to fight for sole custody of my child, which I won, Alhamdulillah.

Since then, Andrew, himself, has made it a point to teach his biological father about Islam. They have established a respectful relationship and have agreed to learn from one another, which has made it easy for us to practice our faith to the best of our ability.

I had remarried when my little boy was still a toddler, around 2 years old, but my intentions were never to provide a father figure for him. Since his biological father has always been in the picture, I have made him aware that no matter who I marry he will always have his father.

My second marriage turned out to be a green card fraud, and as a mother this was extremely hard.

We were married for 6 years and my then husband and son had become very close. He called him “Papi” (Spanish for Daddy), and he was the only man that shared our home for the majority of his life. One day while Andrew and I were away, he gathered his belongings and walked away from our lives.

Letting go of our attachment to this man was not easy. I remember explaining to my little boy how Allah removes obstacles from our path in order for us to reach our final destination – jannah al-firdous. We would say a dua after every salat together: “Oh Allah, if Papi will not take us to jannah please do not bring him back.” We, my child and I together, endured this painful trial and together we overcame it by holding on to Allah’s words: “Perhaps you may dislike something which is good for you and like something which is bad for you. God knows and you do not.” – (Qurán, 2:216)

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Although the challenges I encounter as a single mother are numerous; physically, emotionally and financially,

Allah has never left us alone.

He always sent aid our way and so I learned early to rely only on Him and allow His promises to shine on my problems. If I could offer advice to other single mothers in my place, I would say to put their trust in Allah in all situations. After all, He knows best! As far as motherhood is concerned, it is extremely important to practice what one preaches. Always remember that children may close their ears to advice, but they keep their eyes open to an example. So be the best example.

Nahela (Umm Andrew) Morales

Nahela Morales

is a Revert, Mexican-American, Humanitarian Muslim Da’iya, single mother of one, currently residing in Houston Texas. She formally served as the National Hispanic Dawah Coordinator for WhyIslam a project of ICNA and is currently the Brand Ambassador & Community Manager for IslamInSpanish. Morales’ efforts go far and beyond the imaginable, she travels the world with her son attempting to covey the peaceful message of Islam. Click here to contact Nahela!

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Comments

Don’t Beat Yourself Up


tavasha-shannon

A Child Protective Specialist once asked me, “what do you enjoy the most about being a parent”? I replied, I like to teach my daughter new things, watch her grow and watch her create. I get to be a part of someone who is great and will do great things. He then asked me, what is your biggest challenge? I answered, “Single parenting”. The fact that I have little to no help, doing everything on my own is hard.

Parenting is a full time job, one which doesn’t guarantee you will be able to use your vacation or sick days.

Allah (God) helps me. That’s automatic.

What is understood doesn’t need to be explained. But no one is there to assist with the day to day tasks. Getting her ready for school, prepping meals, helping with homework, nursing her back to health when she’s sick.

“The cliché term “Supermom” isn’t always so empowering.”

Sometimes my cape is dirty and needs to be cleaned. Sometimes my bones are weak and I feel stagnant. I can’t fly. Nothing else seems harder than raising a child alone. Not graduating college, or the agility test that I took for the NYC Department of Corrections. I completed that obstacle course in 1 minute and 45 seconds. I was dizzy, heart racing, adrenaline pumping. I felt like I was going to DIE!! But I made it, by the will of God. I was happy that part was over, eager to move on to the next. I tried to view single parenting the same way, hoping the hardest part would be over.

Perhaps one day the other parent will step up to the plate and give me some much needed relief. Having been called a pessimist, I tried to be optimistic in that regard. However, I am always reminded that a mountain will move before the character of a man will change. Most of her life it has been me doing it alone. I don’t want any accolades because the things I do are out of love for her. It’s my responsibility.

I accept responsibility for making this choice, but I have decided I AM NO LONGER GOING TO BEAT MYSELF UP.

And you shouldn’t either.

I have to do the best I can with what God has given me. It’s a struggle but I need to maintain my own mental stability. It feels like I take 5 steps forward and 3 steps back. This is my test. Allah tests those whom he loves.

Sorry Perfect Patty, I am not a “Perfect Parent”. I have things that I do well, and things I need to work on. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Everyone makes mistakes. In my opinion, I am a good parent. I take care of all my daughter’s needs to the best of my ability. I teach her values, morals, politics, and about our beautiful religion.

I protect her. I allow her to be herself, I teach her self love. I let her shine.

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But I need to work on my discipline methods. I need to set boundaries and let her know “Who’s in Charge”. I need to work on being more aggressive. She’s such a creative and vibrant soul. I use to have her in tap class. But my work schedule didn’t allow me to commit and my pockets didn’t permit.

I can’t beat myself up.

She attended private school for 4 years. I struggled with it. For the first time she is going to public school.

I can’t beat myself up.

I am not a mom and a dad.

I can’t beat myself up.

I am enough. She is enough…..

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My daughter and I have a project titled, “The Apple Don’t Fall Far” and the track “Just Have One” is dedicated to single parents. It’s a reflection of my own feelings, but very relatable.

Looking back on how much time has passed; how far we have come.

Forwards Forever, Backwards Never.

About Tavasha

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Creative Charismatic Courageous are three words to describe NY native Tavasha Shannon also known as Miss Undastood. Miss Undastood is a educator, public speaker, spoken word and Hip Hop artist.
She has toured London, Sweden, France, Ireland, and parts of the U.S.

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