Inspiring Women in Recovery: Nagila Selmi

Dear Readers,

“Who are the learned? Those who practice what they know.” (Bukhari)

In UK we celebrated Mothers Day on Sunday 15th March 2015. In honour of Mothers Day, I would like to pay a tribute to a great Mother and an outstanding Grandmother, Nagila Selmi. A trained Councillor, Marriage Councillor, Match Maker, Artist, a Home Maker and a Lover of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

Nagila Selmi grew up in Dare Salaam in East Africa until she came to the UK. She comes from a  culturally strong lineage.

Nagila in Iran

She got married at a young age and then divorced. She has two children from that marriage. Divorce is a taboo in many societies, but Nagila  teaches us about courage , moving on and that a woman can remain on good terms with her ex, her father’s children even after the divorce. Islam has given woman a write to re-marry and rebuild her life again. Her second husband is Italian and they live happily between Malaysia, Turkey, Italy and UK. Together they’ve raised four wonderful sons.  She teaches us that homemakers are made, not born, it’s practice that makes one perfect. Over the years she has spent countless hours perfecting her homemaker skills and today, she can play hostess to 50 people without getting tired.  She makes the cooking for such large group look effortless. She speaks Italian, English, Arabic, Farsi and bit of Urdu. Her secret of good health: Exercise, Good Diet and Positive Thinking.

“A true Muslim is thankful to Allah in prosperity, and resigned to His will in adversity.” (Muslim)

In her Cleanliness, Self-Care She’s inspired by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

“Cleanliness is half the faith.”[Sahih Muslim]

In Eating Disorder, we really neglect and abuse our selves. Some sufferers go through depersonalization process, there’s neglect in self-care- i.e. hygiene, clothing, or appearance and  then of course there are host of other problems such as changes in behavior and cognitive problems associated with low self esteem. 

In Islam the cleanliness of body, clothes, home and food is as much an important feature of Muslim’s life as the cleanliness of their heart. Nagila takes care of her health and gives respect to her body. Her clothes are always clean, well-ironed and well-tailored.

“Our Prophet (saas) used to instruct us to dress as well as we could and to use the most fragrant perfumes we could find.” (Bukhari, et-Tarih’ul-Kebir, I, 382, no:1222)



For a woman who’s over 60, she has endless energy. I can never ever match her in that department. From her I learn an important lesson about self-care. We should never give into our illness and let ourselves go. When we allow ourselves to care for ourselves and others, it is a profound act of kindness that refills the heart, energizes the body, and nourishes the soul. In that moment of opening our hearts to self and others, we recognize the immense healing power of compassion and reconnect with life and love.

“You who are enveloped in your cloak!
Arise and warn.
Magnify your Lord.
Purify your clothes.
Shun all filth.” (Surat Al-Muddaththir, 1-5)

Her cottage in UK is immaculately clean, spotless, shiny, airy and well-decorated. Every corner, nookie of her house speaks of her love for timeless things and Islamic Artifacts. It is a reflection of her inner beauty.

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An Artist

She’s an Artist. All this beautiful work is done by her and it decorates every corner of her house, giving it a very intimate touch.

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grandmother’s LOVE AND food

I consider my self very fortunate to get an opportunity to spend last Ramadan with her. She taught me how to multi task in kitchen, how to eat for health and how to appreciate the beauty around us.

I couldn’t really comprehend or fully realize the meaning of a grandmother’s love till I spent one fine evening with her family. I remember seeing adoration on her face, when her grandchildren came to visit her. Her face simply lit up, this is what being Grandmother feels like? I thought to myself, falling in love without a condition. When it comes to her grandchildren, she’s like a beautiful angel in making, always so considerate and so caring. She would make special plans just for them on Sunday mornings. She makes them the most delicious pasta and smoothies in the world. This simply shows how much they’ve captured her heart. When the evening came to an end, I thought to myself, look how kind, generous she is, how much patience she has and how much guidance she gives us by her example and by her helpful caring ways. Blessed be Nagila! I respect your unconditional love, devotion, and family loyalty.

In cooking department, she can give Nigella Lawson run for her money. She’s Master in Persian, Italian and Indian cooking. She always serves a wonderful meal with a beautiful table setting and a delicious dessert to her family and friends. Her Persian Biryani is legendary.

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Ending your Meal with a Perfect Home Made Cappuccino


Love for Environment

In her love for Environment, she’s Inspired by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Our Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) loved environment and living in dessert, he achieved impossible by turning the garden of his small house into a rose garden.

Nagila has a most beautiful garden in the area where she lives (I can’t say whole of Surrey, because Surrey is like a Second Garden of England and nearly Everyone has a Fabulous Garden). She takes care of this garden with the help of Ingrid. Ingrid is a fantastic gardner and she has real passion for her work, she helps people to transform their gardens into something magical and something out of a fairytale book. People garden for different reasons, such as relaxation, stress reduction, and improved health, but Ingrid gardens from her heart. She appreciate the beauty of plants and I know she marvels at a miniscule seed which sprouts into life. Here I learn that gardening is something very intrinsic, it’s an experiment in earth, wind, air, and water.

“If a Muslim plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, it is regarded as a charitable gift (sadaqah) for him.” – Imam Bukhari.

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 Selfless Service to Society

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive. -Dalai Lama

She has councilled many girls across the world for their Eating Disorders and other problems. Through her work, she knows all about extreme suffering. Most of the subjects share a common theme of fear, loss of identity, and confusion. She provides a nonjudgmental presence, connecting with an open heart, and having compassion towards the person.

In life you will expereince joy and pain. Caught in this reactive response we forget that there’s a real need to treat ourselves with kindness, love, and compassion. When we turn towards suffering with compassion it helps us to heal and reconnect with life. From her I learned what helps us walk through our suffering and the suffering of others is  to transform our reaction into a compassionate, caring response.Our deepest need, when we are in pain, is compassion; this is what helps us heal. It is not a luxury, it’s a necessity! This turning towards pain, with an open heart and the intention to heal, is what helps us to live life fully.

Life is too short. I take this opportunity to thank her for helping so many struggling families across the world. I thank her for taking in broken, lost, stray souls and guiding them on a path of healing, love and life. I thank her for creating harmony in the families and making us believe in the family and love system. I thank her for giving hope to people who suffer from Eating Disorders.

Last Year, I asked her what Inspires you to be so good and so giving? and she told me ‘I do nothing, “Allah does everything'”. It’s these and many other things that make us realize how lucky we we are to have this amazing woman in our lives.


 A garden of Love grows in a Grandmother’s heart.