How to retire early and save the world



It’s another dreaded Monday: you wake up, shower, brush your teeth, drop the kids to school, drive to work, sit at the desk for 8 hours, sneak into Facebook in between the hours of 9-5, drive back home, eat dinner, put the kids to bed, throw yourself on the sofa, watch TV, drag your body to bed…and repeat the next day and the next, until Friday comes around when we all celebrate a hypothetical break, only for the cycle to repeat itself again next week, and next month, and next year….until death comes calling.

It’s mind-numbing.

We work to create wealth but does all this wealth really make us any happier? According to studies on happiness, wealth only makes us happy to a certain point. Once we’ve made a certain amount of money (we’ll call that the plateau), then any extra dollar made does not equal to a corresponding gain in happiness. In other words, any leftover from the plateau-fancier cars, bigger house, more elaborate holidays-are mere conspicuous luxury commodities. We upgrade to brighter bling simply to show the world our financial worth.

I’ve been following Mr. Moustache on and off for a few years now, and in his popular lifestyle blog, he preaches that the key to retiring early (he retired at 31 years old) is to spend a lot less than you earn. As a natural thrifter, I whole heartedly agree. In this fascinating talk, Mr. Moustache argues that 3 facts will make you richer:

Fact 1: We all suck at money…but we can change that with an attitude shift

Any money spent that does not make you happier is wasted (most of us fall in this category). Marketing convinces us that YOU MUST BUY X, Y and Z IF YOU WANT TO BE HAPPIER! but all that is really a pack of lies. A $2 spatula is really the same as the $20 spatula, a fancy car will get you to the same destination as a standard one, and a $200 outfit won’t make you any prettier than one for a fraction of the price. Luxury, in and of itself, is a state of mind. I’ve seen people living on a dollar-a- day diet who wear charity shop clothes and cycle to work, and carry themselves with so much self-love.

Fact 2: You can save enough to retire in 10 years….if you spend less then than you earn

A high income earner and an average income earner can both retire at the same time, adjusting for spending habits. If I make $30,000 a year and spend significantly less on living basics yearly (eating in, cycling, cheap housing), I will have, on average, saved the same amount in 10 years as someone earning $300,000 who spends much more on a ‘luxury’ lifestyle (eating out in fancy restaurants, daily taxis, mansions).

Fact 3: Work is better for everyone if you don’t need the money

Imagine that you’ve finally saved away enough money to retire at a relatively young age. You still work, but you work on your own terms and you work at a job that you love. I love this quote by Mr. Moustache: The purpose of work is to create. The purpose of earning money is to have enough money.

Anything that you create out of love feels good, and people tend to buy goods and services laced with goodness.  Think about your own buying experiences: how good did it feel to order from a company whose owners cared about the product they were selling, versus buying from sales people who felt like they were being forced to go to work?

Also, when you work out of passion, you will be able to focus on projects that matter to you and to your community. Passion-driven work is hard, but it rarely feels ‘stressful’. If it feeds your soul, it will also feed the world around you.

What do you think about these facts? Have they inspired you to change your own life?

Is it stress or is it passion?


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Sometimes writing can feel a little like building a house specifically for the purpose of air to pass through its windows and doors. No human lives there and day and night, the sound that you put out echoes right back. You pour so much heart and soul into each and every single word  and send your writing out into the world, only for it to go unacknowledged or worse, unnoticed. It’s lonely sometimes and to the immature mind, this- the act of writing and releasing-can seem like such a foolish waste of time. Who in their right mind would spend hours  creating something only for it to wash down the internet drain like a pot of discarded pasta water?

Stress and passion. 

Anything you do out of passion will not feel discouraging. In fact, you will often take failures as directional signs that will helpfully point you on the right way. You may get lost once in a while, but you will always have a resolute determination to find your way home. Writing is my thing; the process of writing is my real reward and the recognition I get from others is just an extra bonus point to the intrinsic joy I get out of expressing myself through words. For others, it may be painting or making music or cooking.  The point is, whatever makes you come alive is never a form of punishment. It is will always feel like an interesting curiosity to be pursued.

This reminds me of the time we had just moved into our new home and I had to paint a sunshine yellow coat over my kids’ deep auburgine colored room. I painted and painted, one coat, then two, then three, and by the end of the day, I was fuming. I never wanted to see purple again. I never wanted to see paint again. I never wanted to touch a paint brush in my whole life ever again. I called up my artsy sister that night, hands and hair covered in specks of purple, and told her of my frustration and exhaustion. “I wish I was there to paint that room!” she said excitedly. In her mind, a day painting was a day well spent.  To each their own, I guess.

Writing, like any other creative pursuit, is not about receiving. It’s about giving. When I put myself out there-when I write with honesty and authenticity-I am, in fact, offering to the world the best of myself. I often write with an annoying voice in my head screaming ‘failure! failure!failure!, but I write anyway because I know that not writing for fear of failing is actually the biggest failure of all. So fingers to keyboard, I tap away as lovingly as my fluttering heart can guide me.

“As a soul, you have the freedom – and earned responsibility – to transpose your personal process of evolution, to manifest your greatest talents and vision, into the work that matters to you most as a means to personal redemption.”
― Darrell Calkins


When I cried for my dead mother-in-law, God sent me this instead

On a recent clear sunny day, I was sitting on a bench in the playground crying my heart out.

The tears came down my cheeks fast and nothing my husband could do or say would make them stop. I was having one of those days again which, as a mother living far away from two of her children, felt hopeless. There were so many complex thoughts going through my head and I couldn’t make a single one of them hush down.

‘Children should never live apart from their mother’ I thought to myself, over and over again like a trapped hamster in a running wheel.

I felt depressed,

and guilty,

and angry.

Due to circumstances beyond my control, my boys weren’t living with me and there’s nothing that I could do (at least at that moment) to bring them home.

“The only woman who could have ever understood what I feel is Mama Sakina,” I angrily answered my husband when he asked if there’s anything he could do to ease the pain. Mama Sakina was my husband’s mother (now dead) and like me, she also had to endure an extended period of distance parenthood. My husband was raised by his father and stepmother.

“If she was still sitting here with me, I’d ask her so many questions. I’d ask her how she survived, how she kept hope alive, how she never let this experience turn her into a bitter person.She’d understand. She’s the only one who’d understand.” I leaned forward on the park bench and dug my face into my hands.  That moment felt like a very dark and lonely hole.

Just then, Sakina, my four year old daughter, and late mother-in-law’s namesake, came closer to stand beside me. She had heard me crying so she dropped her playing to come see what was wrong. She stroked my hair gently and softly released the grasp of my fingers from my face. With her little hands, she raised my chin and brought my eyes level to hers. Her eyes softened as she gazed into mine; they spoke of understanding and companionship. Then, with her tiny little fingers, she brushed my rolling tears away. Her presence filled the air with tranquility.

“I’m sorry, Mama” she said in her sweet, innocent voice, “everything will be fine.” And with as far as her hands could stretch, she hugged me tightly. As our cheeks touched, I could feel myself melting into her warm embrace; the urgent thudding of my heart calmed down and my breathing came back to normal. I felt light again.

I looked up and smiled. Sakina smiled back and just then, as if nothing momentous had happened, she skipped back to little her brother who was busy trying to climb up the ladders to go down the slide.

God had just answered my prayers in the most unexpected of ways.


Book Review-Black Ass


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by A. Igoni Barrett, published Chatto & Windus (2015)

Literary Awards: Longlisted for the inaugural FT/OppenheimerFunds Emerging Voices Awards and was shortlisted for the 2015 Kitschies Golden Tentacle Award

Chai rating: 3.8 out of 5 cups

Black Ass is a story of major transformation. Furo Wariboko,  the main character in the book, sleeps a black man and wakes up the next morning a white man.  This new identity brings privilege; his new found skin colour (ogibo) enables him to get the senior sales position, a job that he as a black man, could not dream about. He is faced with the realization that he has no future as a black man and no past as a white man the best thing is to make the best of what he now has. Furo decides to run from his past as fast as he can and embrace with pride the privileges his red hair and green eyes bring along.

The Good

Many Nigerian books are written for non-Nigerian readers: they explain each context and every foreign word, and the English employed is British as opposed to the native pidgin.  This book, however, is unapologetically Nigerian.  This is the first Nigerian book that I have read that is written in first-hand local lingo; it reads like the real Nigeria without a map of translation.  It is a book for anyone who dares discover stories within their real twisted context. Igoni’s writing is a refreshing surprise of realism within fiction.

Why I didn’t give it 5 stars:

There are unnecessary twists that bring no meaning to the main story and the ending is not well done. I feel cheated: the book left me hanging in suspense in an uncomfortable way.

Would I recommend it? Yes! Black Ass is the Best contemporary African book of our times.

My favorite quote:

“Womanhood comes with its peculiar burdens, among them the constant reminder of a subordinate status whose dominant symptom was uninvited sexual attention from men…A woman is not expected to live alone, to walk alone in peace, or to want to be alone.”

Have you read this book? What did you think of it?

This Guest Post was generously contributed by Janice Nawal, a vivacious trainee solicitor studying in Nairobi, Kenya. You can read more about Janice’s writing adventures at


Escape from the City: Bath & Stonehenge


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Oh, Bath, how I love thee….



A view of the Roman Baths across the River Avon


My brother and sister-in-law recently visited me from the States so I decided that a trip to Bath and Stonehenge would be a great addition to their London itinerary.  We booked a bus tour and the next morning, we headed out from Victoria Station.

As soon as we drove out of London, I could literally feel my shoulders relaxing just so. London, I love you, but the grind can wear one out after a while.


As we approached Bath, the tour guide gave us a detailed history of the city. I’ll spare you the history lesson but I should mention that Jane Austen’s novel ‘Persuasion’ was set in this city. Right…. moving on.



Gorgeous sunny day at the riverside park


Once we arrived in Bath, I was surprised to see how architectural the city actually was. There were magnificent old building all around and they were set in the most picturesque surroundings. We had two hours for walking around so I tried to take as many pictures as I could.



Mystics waters..




Bath Cathedral


Later, we dug into some luscious mussels and chunky chips at the charming Riverside Cottage right by the River Avon. The food was so delicious and the view was overwhelmingly beautiful.


Sadly, we didn’t have enough time to visit the famous Roman baths; which actually makes the perfect excuse for me to re-visit this gorgeous city.  I must admit though that next time I go, I will go by train or car and make an entire day trip of it. Two hours are barely enough to scratch the surface of Bath.

After Bath, we made our way to Stonehenge, one of the wonders of the world and the best-known prehistoric monument in Europe. It was an interesting ride and we got to see quaint little English villages along the way. The sun was beginning to set so by the time we got there so we didn’t have much time to take good shots of the famous stones. Here’s one I managed to get. img-20160923-wa0046

Most of the tour party was exhausted by the time we pulled out of Salisbury and even the noisiest chatterboxes kept quiet on our way back to London. It was already 8pm by the time we arrived back to the capital and although we were knackered to the bone, we were happy.

Was it worth it?  Yes!  I’ll definitely (God-willing) go back to Bath soon but I’ll probably save Stonehenge for when the kids are old enough to understand the significance of these historical stones.

(Pictures taken on my humble Samsung S6)

Book review-Brick Lane


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by Monica Ali

Published June 2nd 2004 by Scribner (first published 2003)

Literary Awards

Man Booker Prize Nominee (2003), Guardian First Book Award Nominee (2003), Orwell Prize Nominee (2004), Audie Award for Fiction, Abridged (2004), Kiriyama Prize Nominee for Fiction (2004)

Chai rating: 3.5 out of 5 cups


Nazneen, a 16-year-old village girl from Bangladesh, is married off to a man 20 years her senior and moves to a council flat in London with nothing but memories.  She is constantly haunted by her mother’s suicide and worries about her sister, Hasina, who ran off to Dhaka to pursue a ‘love marriage’, leaving the family in a cloud of shame.  Unlike her sister, Nazneen  is determined not to shake up the order of her destiny and thus resigns herself to a presumably easier life of domesticity and submission. Her world is turned upside down when she falls in love with the young and charismatic Karim; suddenly everything that she thought she was so sure of become uncertainties. With two young daughters and a husband whom, despite his physical imperfections and professional flops, she cares deeply for, Nazneen must decide whether to flow with the tide of fate or be the director of her own show.

Brick Lane is a captivating narration of the immigrant experience and while the minute details of daily life can sometimes be tedious to read through, they do add up to valuable lessons on love and destiny.  The characters are comical and profound, and each one feels like someone I would actually bump into on my travels within London. They offer a vivid tapestry of the different intersections we make as humans in our quest to find,and define, home.

This book reminds of Zadie Smith’s ‘White Teeth’ and while I prefer the latter book, I am amazed that this is Monica Ali’s debut novel.  It is very well written.

Why I didn’t give it 5 stars: Hasina’s letters took up a lot of space in the book and I feel like they didn’t contribute much to the plot. Granted, they were written by an illiterate ‘village girl’, but those damn letters were written in such poor English that I could barely make out Hasina was trying to communicate to Nazneen. I feel like the book would have moved along just fine without them.

My favorite quote:  “What I did not know – I was a young man – is that there are two kinds of love. The kind that starts off big and slowly wears away, that seems you can never use it up and then one day is finished. And the kind that you don’t notice at first, but which adds a little bit to itself every day, like an oyster makes a pearl, grain by grain, a jewel from the sand.”

Would I recommend it? Yes, especially if you like Zadie Smith or Amy Tan.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it?


5 ways of coping with difficult times


Everyone goes through hard days.  No matter how strong or confident we are, we all go through periods in our lives when we question the very reason for our existence: we break down and feel too weak to look ahead and sometimes the very wings that gave us flight begin to weigh us down. This is the human condition: to be in a perpetual state of high and lows.  Success, in my book anyway, is like going through a car wash: you get scrubbed up and beat down but you come out shinier on the other end.

I’ve been separated from my boys for some time now (for reasons that I won’t go into), and some days can be very, very dark. In the past, I used to feel like I was trapped under huge rocks of intense sadness with no light in sight.  It was scary to feel that powerless.  I compare that feeling to someone grabbing the remote off of your hands and changing the channels on your own TV set while you just look helplessly on.  You get upset but all you do is sink back into the couch further until it swallows you whole.  When I hit rock bottom, I knew I had to change because I didn’t want to end up being that old lady who was angry at everyone, including myself.  Instead of despair, I chose hope.

Next time you feel depressed, try these exercises to get yourself our of despair and into hope mode:

Exercise gratitude

I may not be living with my boys but alhamdulillah, they are in good health.  I do have wonderful stepsons and a supportive husband. I live in a wonderful city which allows me to indulge in my many curiosities.  I get to get a chance to make a difference in other people’s lives every day through my philanthropic activities.

The thing about gratitude is that it forces to focus on the ‘right’ rather than the ‘wrong’. It pulls you back into the present, back to your breath, out of your head, and into the cosy nooks of your heart.

I keep a gratitude journal and each night, I try to write down 3 things that I am grateful for that day.  Think of anything that you are grateful at this moment and write it down. Talk about it. Share it with a friend. If you can’t think of anything to be grateful for, put your hand over the left part of your chest and feel the ‘thump, thump, thump’ against your cavity walls.  Hear that? That’s a sound of better days to come.

Take an inventory of successes (and helpers)

Think of all your accomplishments you’ve achieved in the last five years. Write them down and think of how you got from point A to point B. What hurdles did you have to overcome along the way? What resources did you call in to help you deal with those roadblocks? Was it prayers/your family/a good book/a song/a place?  Successes are never a one-man performance and it’s a relief to know that we can lean into something much greater than ourselves. Helpers helps take the anxiety off.

Personally, I was astounded when I looked at my own list of achievements. It made me realise that my accomplishments far outweigh my defeats.  Woohoo! Another thing that I realised? That I am surrounded by an abundance of blessings. Tragic moments brought my family closer together and moved me nearer to God.  My personal relationship with God and my family are now two things that are dearer to me than anything else in the world.  Sure, I still worry about future storms but my assurance in prayer and family always floods my head with peace.

Tie your camel

An Islamic narration points to one incident when a Bedouin asked the Prophet Muhammad “Should I tie my camel and place my trust in Allah for her protection, or should I leave her untied and trust in Allah to protect her?” The Prophet replied, “Tie her first and then have trust.” [At-Tirmidhi]

In other words, work towards the manifestation of your blessings.  Don’t wait for happy moments to fall off the sky. If you want to get somewhere (physical or otherwise), create a game plan. Map out exactly what you need to do in order to take you from HERE to THERE. I am a firm believer in the power of list-making so I prefer to write my game plan down. Then, get to work. Put the time and effort in. (Don’t forget to reward yourself along the way: go to a spa, travel to Iceland, get a double scoop of icecream…whatever tickles your fancy.)

Keep doing what needs doing now in order to get what you want for the future.

Approach everything with a healthy dose of curiosity

When you come to a stumbling block rather than jumping to an ‘I AM DOOMED’ conclusion, look at the block with a curious set of eyes. Place hope at the forefront of every problem and push through building a solution by engaging the world around you. Chances are that the problem you have has been experienced by someone else before, so look for wisdom from people who have been through the same.  Personally, I find books to  be wonderful sources of knowledge and for almost every life crisis I’ve faced, I’ve faced it head-on with a book in hand.

Give back

It is said we are only as rich as what we give out to others. Generosity doesn’t only involve money; it can be giving your time, your knowledge or skills, or your effort, to others.  Studies show that giving to others increases feel-good chemicals in our brains, thus making us happier in the long term.  Charity and volunteerism are both ‘drugs’ that we should all get high on.  If you want to fight depression, help someone else in need.

Tough times do not have to define your life.  What strategies do you use to cope with difficulties?

Raising a daughter alone: A single father’s journey


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Glenn Silver is a planner/evaluator for the North Carolina (USA) Division of Services for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing and is a single parent to his 16-year-old daughter, Candace.  He received his Master’s degree from the University of Florida and has worked extensively in the non-profit sector.  A former pastor, Glenn is now a practising Muslim and maintains an active role at his local mosque.

Despite her challenging childhood, Candace is a remarkable young lady who has achieved a lot academically in her young life.  She has recently wrapped up a summer course at The National Student Leadership Conference Psychology and Neuroscience Program at American University, and she is now on track for admissions to neuroscience and psychology programs at several prestigious universities.

Tell me about your journey to parenthood. What were the circumstances that led you to single parenthood?

In 1994, I married my first wife and began my own grant writing consulting business in North Florida.  In 1996, we had a baby girl. We had started experiencing marital problems by then and one day in the same year, I went back home only to discover that my wife had packed up and left.  The only things she left behind were my clothes.  After a few months, I caught a bus to Seattle, to return to where I had been living a few years prior.  However when the bus stopped in Chicago, I chose not to travel further.  I ended up enrolled in the Pacific Garden Mission Men’s Bible Institute and studied there until 1997.  My brother died the same year.  He had been the one taking care of my mother so I moved to North Carolina to live closer to her.  By the end of ‘97, I received divorce papers from my wife; I hadn’t seen my daughter for more than a year.

It sounds like it was an intense period in your life.

Yes, it was. But it is all qadr (destiny).


When was Candace born?

 In the midst of all these major life events, I met the woman who would be my second wife at church.

She already had a 3 year old son. We married in August 1998.   After we were married she injured her wrist and could no longer work. I went from consulting to full-time employment with the City of Rocky Mount. I also became Youth Pastor and Assistant to the Pastor at Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church.

In 1999, during Hurricane Floyd, Candace was conceived and she was born on June 18, 2000.

A little after that, I became Pastor of Tillery Chapel Missionary Baptist Church – a small, rural, black church in NC, while also working at the City of Rocky Mount.

In 2005, I left the City and began working for the State of NC but by then  my wife had begun to show signs of mental illness. Twice, she forgot to pick the children up from school and I had to leave work and drive 45 minutes from my job to get the children. My wife’s mental health continued to deteriorate until in 2009, I left and Candace decided to leave with me. We moved to Burgaw, NC.

My wife filed papers in court and I was forced to take Candace back to her. It was the worst day in my life. Candace cried and did not want to go back but I had to take her back because the court ordered it.  For a little more than a year, I lived in Burgaw while Candace lived in Whitakers, NC with her mother. I visited her at least once per month and took her to the dinner, movies, etc.

 That’s awful. How did you cope?

I coped by having good friends in Burgaw and through the mercy of God. By Spring 2012, Candace could not take it anymore and asked me if I would come back for her sake. So in Spring 2012, I moved from Burgaw back to Whitakers and reconciled with her mother. I tried to make it work for Candace’s sake.

After a couple of months, things got really bad.

 What happened?

One Saturday morning, my wife began fussing at Candace for placing the forks in drying rack with the handles up rather than the tines up and things escalated to the point that I called 911 and the police came. They called Social Services and Social Services told me that I was solely responsible for Candace’s safety and her mother was not to be alone with Candace.

How old was Candace when this happened?…The knife incident

I could not live in the house with the mother of my child not being able to be left alone with her. What was I to do when Candace went to the bathroom and her mother went in there with her? Candace had just turned 12.

Candace was terrified that her mother was going to come and do something to me or her so we packed our clothes, left the house, and stayed in a hotel in Raleigh for a couple of weeks until I got us an apartment. When I got an apartment, we started with everything from zero. We had nothing but our clothes, so in the beginning, Candace slept in her sleeping bag while I slept on the floor.

Luckily for us at the time, my employer, the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, let me bring Candace to work so I wouldn’t have to worry about leaving her alone.  All this time, I also was fighting a court battle for custody of Candace.

What about your other daughter? What happened to her?

She remained with her mother and her mother cut off contact. I have not seen her since she was 3 years old but I do provide financial support.

You had been a practising Christian. How did you transition to Islam?

I found Islam as a result of all that I was going through at this time. Although I had served as a Pastor for more than 15 years in the Whitakers area and was very active in the community, none of my fellow pastors or the churches did anything to help us. I was very disappointed that they had no concern for Candace.

So, the pain of having the church fail me caused me to critically assess Christianity. After a few months of contemplation, I contacted the Islamic Association of Raleigh and Brother Fiaz Fareed responded to my email.  When I told him I had been a Christian pastor, his response was that he wanted to be respectful.  “Would you like me to call you Reverend, or Pastor, or something else?” he asked.

I was astounded because here was a Muslim wanting to be respectful of my non-Muslim religion while when I was a Christian, I had no respect for any religion other than Christianity. That small, simple act of kindness was all the daawah I needed. Brother Fiaz and I met on February 10, 2013 and I took shahadah that day.

Please tell me a little more about your journey into Islam.

So as I began to study Islam, I discovered Qiyaam al-Layl and read that Allah descended to the lowest part of heavens in the last third of the night to answer prayers.  I calculated the last third of the night and prayed. The next day, alhamdulillah, I received the notice that the court had awarded me full and sole custody of Candace.

After that, I continued to learn and grow as a Muslim.  Islam and the local Muslim community have helped me and Candace endure our tests. Islam has taught me about sabr (patience) and perfection of my character; those two things have helped me be a good parent.  It is the love and forgiveness and provision of Allah (SWT) for me that I try to reflect, albeit dimly, in my relationship with Candace.

As a father, who inspires you?

The Prophet Muhammad (SAW).  I have learned a lot from his character and I try to replicate it in my life as much as possible. He was an exemplary father.

As a revert, it was inspiring to know that the Prophet (SAW) also raised daughters and that daughters are a blessing from Allah.  There is a hadith which states that anyone who brings up a righteous daughter is guaranteed a place in paradise.

Are you raising Candace as a Muslim? Or does she get to decide what faith she wants to belong to?

She gets to decide.

Being abandoned by the church has made her sceptical of religion and I understand that. Plus, religion is not but compulsion. The best I can do for her is to let her see the power of Islam in my life so that she reverts. Otherwise, forcing her to live as a Muslim would be insincere and could do her more harm than good.

 How long have you now been living alone together?

 Candace and I have been living alone together for four years.

You are a single father. You haven’t had it easy in the past and Candace hasn’t either. What have been some of the most difficult moments for you raising your daughter alone?

The most difficult moments were when we first moved here and we were going back and forth to court in the custody battle. Candace had been physically and emotionally abused by her mother so we went to therapy together. Then, in January 2013, I lost my job the NC Museum of Natural Sciences because I had to be out so much with the custody battle. So I had to return to consulting full time. That worked out well because I could arrange my schedule to be there for Candace more than I could when working outside the home.

One of the most challenging things was seeing Candace endure the pain of having her mother reject her.

Do you have a support system?

My support system is my local ummah and my friends in the Wilmington area.  My reliance on Allah has helped tremendously.

How does society judge you as a single father?

I am not sure how society judges me as a single father. To be honest, I hardly ever think about it. I do think that as a black, single father in America, I break the stereotypes that many have of black fathers. However, my breaking those stereotypes is a testimony to the mercy of Allah (SWT) rather than any traits I have, as a man.

As for having to have gone through so much, it is the will of Allah (SWT) – qadr. When Allah (SWT) loves His (SWT) slave, He (SWT) test him. And for that, I can only say Alhamdulillah(thanks be to God).

You have come out the other side a winner in spite of your difficult past.

I believe if anything in my life had been different until now, I would not know Allah (SWT) as I do. I  strive to be a better slave to Him (SWT), moment by moment.

Wow! I’m in awe of your attitude.

Yes. Alhamdulillah, that Allah (SWT) has kept me around to see Candace achieve all that she has. May Allah (SWT) allow all of us to grow old and see our child become pious offspring, ameen.

What are your hopes for Candace as she transitions into adulthood?

I hope that she use the gifts she has to serve humanity and that her heart softens to accept Islam.

She has admitted that if she had to choose a religion it would be Islam. The local ummah is very supportive of us. They always ask about Candace and invite her to events.

Is it easy for her to communicate to you regarding issues surrounding femininity?

I always have talked to her as an adult so she is very comfortable asking me anything. She trusts me and I trust her. By the age of 8 or 10, you have instilled the core values of a child so all you can do beyond that is reinforce those values, guide the child along, and support them as they make mistakes.

So, she’s been an Honors student throughout high school and is now picking out colleges. Did you ever think, about 10 years back, that you’d be here today? In a place of success as a father?

Yes. My mother raised me as a single parent and I always have been GGod-conscious   I always have relied on God for support.  However, I had no idea I would endure the trials I have but that is a testimony to the mercy of Allah (SWT).

What advise would you give other single parents out there that are going through a dark period in their lives?

 I would advise them to seek Allah (SWT) to bring light into their dark experience. Admit the limits of your own power and submit to Allah (SWT) so you can then have the assurance that even the worst of times are being used to your benefit – in this life and in the Hereafter.

Islam helps me keep things in perspective. All I can do is put forth my best effort and trust Allah (SWT) with the outcome.

There is this hadith of the bird. The bird awakens each day, hungry and not knowing where it will get food. But the bird puts forth the effort – it flies from its nest – and because it puts forth effort, Allah provides sustenance as the outcome: the bird returns to the nest full!

What a beautiful reminder for life.

For those who are reading this and aren’t Muslim, how can they relate to your advice on leaning in on Allah. It’s the feeling of leaning on something bigger than us, isn’t it?

Yes. Leaning in on your own understanding or the support of other people alone will eventually lead to a led down because those resources are limited but God is limitless.

We must lean on something bigger than us because we have an enemy, shaytan, who is bigger than us. But he, like us, are subordinate to Allah (SWT). It is like this. The shaytan is the neighborhood dog and if we try to get away from that bad dog on our own, sooner or later that dog is going to get us. So the logical thing to do is to go to the owner of that dog and plead with him to restrain that dog so the dog cannot do with us as he pleases. Allah (SWT), in this metaphor, is the owner of the bad dog.

 I love that analogy.

What do u look forward to in the future?

Inshaallah, I look forward to continuing to learn and grow in my iman(faith) as a Muslim; re-marrying; seeing Candace graduate high school, college, and begin her career; and making hajj.

That sounds wonderful         .

Inshaallah, if I can just see Candace get off to a good start as a psychiatrist and make hajj, that will be fulfilling.

And to conclude, what is your definition of success?

Taqwa– a closeness to Allah (SWT).  Taqwa is my definition of success because if I am close to Allah (SWT) then I have solid refuge from the vicissitudes of life; provision for my journey in this life; and a place near Him (SWT) in paradise.

Thank you, Glenn, for sharing your experiences and wisdom with us. We wish you and Candace all the best in life!