Nadiah Faatimah is a fashion consultant based in Indonesia. At the tender age of 27 and on her wedding night, Nadiah was diagnosed with Systematic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. Although it was really difficult to accept as first, she has been living and learning to love lupus ever since.
Assalamualaikum Nadiah! Tell me more about yourself.
Waalaikumussalaam warahmatullahi wabarakatuh, Alia! Sure! I’m a people person and I love to meet and share with others. I’m known as a bubbly and smiley girl. I am very positive and I get along well with people. That’s one of the reasons I am also a Liaison Officer for artists or celebrities who come to Indonesia. I love cats. I used to have around 15 cats!!! -laugh- Now I only have one cat left. When I was in high school, I didn’t wear the hijab for a while. I remember my friends encouraging me to take it off. “Nadiah, why are you wearing the hijab? You can cut your hair and style it. You can show it off.” -laugh- Our Prophet ﷺ said, “The example of a good companion (who sits with you) in comparison with a bad one, is like that of the musk seller and the blacksmith’s bellows (or furnace); from the first you would either buy musk or enjoy its good smell while the bellows would either burn your clothes or your house, or you get a bad nasty smell thereof.” (Sahih al-Bukhari) That’s when I realised that friends play a huge, influential role in our lives. We have to surround ourselves with people who remind us of Allah SWT. In 2006, I wore the hijab again. I remember prostrating to my mom to ask for forgiveness. I knew that I had done so much wrong. In shaa Allah, with my hijab, I hope that Allah SWT will forgive some of my sins. I still have too much to make sincere tawbah for. In 2008, I was diagnosed with lupus, and since then I’m passionate about helping others.
Thanks for sharing, dear. I heard that you are a fashion consultant. What interested you in it? Tell us more about your career.
I’ll start with my educational background. My Bachelor’s degree was in Information Technology and my Master’s degree was in Business Administration. At first, I started a career in IT. In 2010, when I was 28, I started my own business. I dabbled in a lot of ventures – from owning a hijab brand and a restaurant to becoming a fashion consultant. I found myself most passionate as a fashion consultant. My motivation is to help other Muslims build and expand their Muslim brand. I love meeting people. I feel constantly challenged because I always have new clients from Indonesia or overseas. Every client has a different character and expectation. I learned many things from my clients. Alhamdulillah, many of my friends became my clients too. I am so thankful that my family has always supported me. The proudest moment in my career is when I met Hana Tajima, a British-Japanese Muslim fashion designer. I became her liaison officer for the “Sisterhood by Dian Pelangi’ event. She’s a shy but very mature woman. Her way of thinking and the story of how she became a Muslim especially amazed me. I’m really proud of her career now with her collaboration with Uniqlo and other reputable brands.
Aww I’m proud of Hana too! Now, let’s go back to the condition that you told us about. Tell us more about your Lupus journey.
Everyone has an emptiness in their heart they want to fill. Allah SWT created that emptiness for a reason. I was searching for many things in this Dunya but I couldn’t find anything to heal the emptiness. I thought that having lots of people around me would fill the emptiness but it didn’t. I thought that having lots of money would fill the emptiness but it didn’t. I thought that having a good education and career would fill the emptiness but it didn’t. I found myself wanting more and more, never filling the emptiness in my heart. I was getting attached to the Dunya. I was looking in the wrong places.
Allah SWT is the best planner and SubhanAllah He planned the most beautiful way for me to find the answer that I was looking for. Alhamdulillah on August 2008, I got married. That night, I felt sick and tired. I thought it was because of the long reception. We didn’t think much of it. When my temperature started rising, my husband Edo immediately brought me to the hospital. In 2 weeks, the symptoms got progressively worse. At first, I only had a high fever. Then, I saw a rash developing on my skin. I began feeling pain in my joints and my feet became swollen. I started losing a lot of hair. At one point, it felt like my legs were paralyzed.
I was diagnosed with lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease. I remember the reaction on the faces of my husband, whom I just married, and my mother, who gave birth to me. That made my heart cry. I sat there and stared blankly at them, while the doctor continued explaining about lupus. Essentially, my immune system mistakes my body’s tissues as foreign invaders and attacks them. This condition has no cure; all I can do is to manage lupus with medication. I was devastated. Questions were running through my head. Why me? Will I be able to handle this disease? Will the people I love accept me for having this disease? What if I am paralysed forever? I tried to calm myself with Dzikr and the remembrance that Allah SWT will not burden me or test me more than my capacity. It wasn’t easy being diagnosed with such a life-threatening disease, especially in 2008 when lupus was not as well-known as it is today.
I turned to Edo with tears in my eyes. I was frank with him. I said, “I’m very sick. I don’t know how long I will be sick. Will you still accept me?” He did not even hesitate. He told me that it was not an issue. Edo was by my side 24/7. He took time off work to take care of me. When I felt weak, he would carry me. He had no qualms about pushing me around in my wheelchair. “Verily with every hardship, there is ease” (Quran 94:6). Alhamdulillah, Allah SWT is the Best Planner. Allah SWT tested me with lupus but He also gave me someone to strengthen my Imaan and spend my life with. He blessed me with a selfless, extraordinary husband who loves me in sickness and in health. How beautiful is that?
Nadiah, Edo and Baby Aisha
Lupus taught me a lot of things. It is truly a blessing. I am so thankful that Allah SWT tested me with lupus until now. Starting from the night of my marriage, He took away my health but exchanged it with something better – he healed the emptiness in my heart. I was only 27 then and I never thought this would ever happen to me. Astaghfirullah, how arrogant I was for thinking that I would always stay healthy. I didn’t appreciate all the things given to me. I took everything for granted. Allah SWT has blessed me with so much and yet I kept complaining. I am not even worthy of all the blessings Allah SWT has given me. Lupus awakened something within myself; I realised that this Dunya is not Jannah . Nothing is perfect in this life because ‘perfect’ is saved for Jannah. There’s no such thing as eternity in the Dunya. Everything will eventually cease to exist and if Allah wills, He can take anything away from me at any time. Taubah. Taubah. Taubah. Alhamdulillah, we are still given the opportunity to change ourselves before our time is up.
I overcome all the pain I feel from lupus by having faith in Allah SWT. “Allah does not charge a soul except (with that within) its capacity” (Quran 2:286). As long as I am still alive, I have not reached my limit. I believe Allah tests us to cleanse us from our sins. “Whenever a Muslim is afflicted with hardship, sickness, sadness, worry, harm, or depression, even a thorn’s prick, Allah expiates his sins because of it” (Bukhari and Muslim). I believe Allah tests us to make us come back to Allah. “Do the people think that they will be left to say, “We believe” and they will not be tried? ” (Quran 29:2-3). I believe that Allah tests us for a greater good “Verily, with greater rewards come greater trials. Verily, when Allah love a people He will test them, so whoever is pleased then for him is satisfaction, and whoever is angry then for him is wrath” (at-Tirmidhi). This wisdom behind my test made me stronger. Religion became a huge part of my whole life. I couldn’t be as strong and positive as I am now if it were not because of Allah.
Ma shaa Allah. You are such a positive and strong person. What’s the most beautiful moment you’ve experienced in your life? Tell us why it left such an indelible impression on you. How did you feel?
The most beautiful moment was in 2011 when Edo and I were invited by Allah SWT to go for Hajj. People with lupus have to avoid sunlight. During Hajj, we’re exposed to so much sun! I made sure that I was fully prepared. I brought hats, umbrellas, sunglasses and sunblock. However, during Hajj, all the items were either lost or broken. Before tawaaf, I asked my husband, “What if my lupus flares up?” Edo gave the perfect response. He reminded me, “Sayang, we are Allah’s guests. As Allah’s guests, it is impossible for Him to forsake us. Leave it to Allah and tawakkal. Everything that is good or bad that happens is from Allah.” With a “bismillah”, I let go and left everything to Allah. SubhanAllah my lupus did not flare up during the whole Hajj period. I was exposed to so much sun, and Alhamdulillah Allah blessed me with the health and strength to finish my Hajj. That was the most beautiful and unforgettable moment of my life.
Subhanallah, Allah SWT is indeed the best Protector. Who inspires you the most? Why?
My inspiration is our Prophet Muhammad ﷺ because he is the best example of mankind. “There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent pattern for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and (who) remembers Allah often” (Quran 33:21). Every word that he says and every act he does is always so beautiful. He’s a walking Qur’an himself. Allahumma Shalli ala Sayyidina Muhammad.
Our Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, “The best of you is he who is best to his family, and I am the best among you to my family.” Alhamdulillah, Allah SWT gave me a mother and a father to take care of me daily. When I think of my mom, no words can describe how much she has done for me. -voice breaks- I don’t even know where to start repaying her. In Islam, you have to respond to your mothers three times before your father. Paradise is at your mother’s feet. I am so thankful that my mom is still alive. By Allah’s will, I was born into this world through her womb. She carried me for 9 months. She went through tremendous pain to give birth to me. All that I do now – I owe so much to her.
What’s your favourite verse from the Quran and why?
My favorite verse from the Quran is “Rabbana atina fiddunya hasanatan wa fil akhirati hasanatan waqina adhabannar”. It means “Our Lord! Grant us good in this world and good in hereafter, and save us from the chastisement of the fire” (Quran 2:201). This verse is not only a goal for myself but also a beautiful dua.
What do you want to say to people who are also going through lupus?
The first thing I can say is that Allah SWT loves you. Allah SWT tests us to remind us, to cleanse us, to purify us and to strengthen us. Keep being positive and patient. You’re not alone because you have Allah, and Allah is sufficient for you. He never leaves us and always waits for us to come back to Him. Let your heart be filled with Allah and the akhirah and you will feel eternal happiness.
Don’t let the pain bring you down.
Don’t let the tears break your spirit.
Don’t let the test weaken your Deen.
Don’t let the Dunya touch your heart.
For every pain, there’s a lesson.
For every tear, there’s a sin being cleansed
For every test, there’s a blessing.
That’s beautiful, Nadiah. What is your hope for your community?
There’s a lot going on now and we hear a lot of fitnah on the news. My hope for the Ummah is for us to all stand together. I want us to hold hands and show how a true Muslim is with our beautiful character. Let’s keep learning Islam and share the beauty of our religion with the world.
Any last words?
Have faith in Allah SWT and keep strong in your religion. Always remember Allah SWT first.