Narrative: From Baby Showers to Bhukhur and Barakah


From Baby Showers to Bhukhur and Barakah

By Fadia Williams

The beach sand tickled my nose as it fell from my forehead.
I’d never prayed on the sand before.
I couldn’t believe I just did that either.
Broad daylight, sun passes by, two surfers in the water – 
not to mention my massive belly – 36 weeks.
That was the easiest, most difficult thing I had done.

This morning was even harder.
I really didn’t want to let go…
didn’t know how to let go.
What was the word Israh used?
Sever!
The first step of the rite of passage is severance.
The bliss and excitement of pregnancy.
But oh, the anxiety and the fear.
It sounded so final – to sever – so brutal.
I don’t think I’m ready, actually… secretly.
I didn’t want to do it.
I was happy to walk around with nostalgic past pains like a proud 8 year old brat of a boy who kept score of how many times he got a scab from a fall.
But… but
I had to honour the whole journey and do all the parts of it.
I believe that if I held onto anything from my past life, I wouldn’t have an easy birth.
A homebirth was nothing to be messed with, right?
I mean, with all the negative concerns and all the horror stories,
I am determined to write my own story.

My bum cheeks started to sting from the wet, cold beach sand.
Back to this moment.
Looking ahead, just two more days ‘til the birth blessing and today was one step towards that.
I gathered the rose incense, my husband’s shawl from India
and the sea water we would use for the ritual on Friday.
I still can’t believe Jahaangir wore this shawl
to all the thikrs he ever attended over the last two decades –
New York, Cape Town, Norwich, Berlin, Grenada, Charleston.
That made him feel close to me, having his shawl.

Oh my God, the coffee smells good.
I can’t wait to have caffeinated brews again.
Ding-dong!
Salaamu alaykum
“Hi!”
The first guest.
My nerves!
Thank goodness for Benefits’ “Better than Sex Waterproof” mascara.
Ugh, stain of lipstick on my vintage dress.

Breathe!
Inhale.
Exhale.
Breathe.
Take your time.

Today is about honouring and celebrating me
as a new mother again.
It is about witnessing who I am, not what I am expected to be.
I had journeyed through three pregnancies before:
A c-section, a stillbirth, and a VBAC at home.
But there was something even more special with this pregnancy and this journey:
The transition.
That’s the second phase of rites of passage, the transition.
The trial of birthing. Our jihad as Muslim women
where I will be tested physically, emotionally and psychologically
beyond my limits of my previous self. 
Bismillah, I am ready.
Audhu billahi minashaitanir rajeem
Al fatihah
Ruqayah’s opening duah opens today’s birth barakah.
I’m so happy everyone made it.
Mummy and Aunty Fay and sweet familiar faces from South Africa, on Zoom.
Tricia’s ancestorial native American wisdom holding our space.
I feel grounded and pretty.
I so badly want to remember everything
so, I do that thing I do when I take pictures with my eyes.

1930s vintage pearls on my neck, an anniversary gift from my husband.
Layla’s first pair of pearls in my ears, to keep her close.
Israh’s calm, collected voice taking us through a visualization of the protective womb inside all of us.
Nurturing my baby, sparks from the coal, heavy clouds from the bhukhur and frankincense.
Duahs for the baby, an easy birth, a flag bearer for Islam, a peaceful life.
Shells being blessed and placed into the seawater.
Golden threads
My tribe. My community. My witnessing. My transition to being a new mother again.
New faces and old support from wise hearts and fresh new energy.
Our home hosting this cove of women
with thikr on our tongues and lightness in our hearts,
All encompasses full, whole, ready for my next stage
The final stage of incorporation.

Because when women gather,
magic happens.

 

*This beautiful rite of passage was facilitated by Israh Goodall (israhgoodall.com)