The Covid Circle or the One about Friends


You are the source of peace. Our friends are but a reminder. 

During Covid-19, like most people, we have experienced moments of isolation. There are moments of seclusion. There is a feasting and fasting from company. So much of why husband-wife divorce is so high is that women often try to get their husbands to fulfill their every need. It’s a rookie mistake, I remember I made too. I remembered early on, my husband said to me, why don’t you have friends you can do stuff with? Well, thanks to Covid, I feel blessed with an incredible circle of friends. 

Our Covid circle includes a couple of families. 

I was at a friend’s house an entire day with 11 children ranging in age from 8 months to 14. The children managed to create games to play relay races, animal races, throw a football around. Yes they also watched a movie in that time, while the adults got some great 1:1 time drinking Kashmiri chai with salt. In January, I had a 1 and 3 year old join my kids for a few days of nonstop running around. And in February, I had a 5, 3, and infant join our home for a day of fun with their dads. It has been such an amazing thing to have a house full of children, but also it makes me very grateful to have the house professionally cleaned, because I don’t remember what was spilled or where it happened. 

I was at a house in December with 3 other families where one dad made a sledding slope for the kids (and adults) to slide down a mountain. It was my first time sledding. When the ice had frozen over in my backyard, I was able to use the ice to make a sledding ice rink for my kids bassed on what I had learned from this dad. Every time it snows, I will know what to do with the shovel to make that slope for my kids! My husband cooked steaks for 20 people, which is no easy feat, and he truly radiated joy while in the kitchen. Overall we have shared meals, and dropped off meals, and found ways to be together with our friends regardless of the difficult times. 

When I think about the mental load that mothers are carrying right now, I think the most beneficial thing has been having 2-3 friends I check in with each day who engage the children, or help me become a better human. I wanted to write about them here but respect their privacy as well, so I gave them pseudonames. 

Fatima Zahra 1 lives in Princeton, NJ, and is a mother of multiple beautiful children mA.

She has introduced me to so many “firsts” — the pleasure of waking up for tahajjud, the intimacy of dhikr, and remembrance; she has (re)introduced me to a circle of women who share my values, and have similar priorities. I have made more connections because of her. More importantly, she has organized weekly circles for the children to memorize supplications; and classes with crafts that help children connect to Imam Al- Ghazali. She always takes a moment to chat, and strategize. What I love about her — she is vigilant, tireless, and truly a quiet leader of our community. When she needs a powerpoint deck or a google form done, I am her woman. But the real substance of learning and truly beneficial knowledge comes from her. She has introduced me to ricotta cake, reading sura Mulk; I cannot list all the ways she has changed my life. 

Fatima Zahra 2 is a mother of two.

I met her at her parents’ house in Westchester years ago, when we were both in college at different schools. I had a moment’s interaction with her then as I was hanging out with my dear friend, who is her older sister. I was at her wedding, and remember the magical beauty of it still. She had gotten married to her college sweetheart. Fast forward 13 years, and she has 2 beautiful children (mA). One night when we were both up (nursing our boys), we ended up talking for hours. And in one year, we went from not really knowing each other, to knowing almost everything and that level of intimacy cannot be compared. She knows my most awful characteristics, and has stayed in my home, so she has seen how I interact with my little people when no one is watching; and I have seen her interactions with her children. I think there is a level of intimacy and a feeling of trust that allows us to be vulnerable. I have learned so much from her. She has prioritized her family in ways that I have questioned; and she has observed my inattention as verging on neglect. We have offered each other solutions for our partners and our relationships. I will stay up way past my bedtime to chat with her, when our toddlers have gone to sleep. When I read her dua in every sacred and holy place I visited last year, I wept like a child.

I think you can tell a lot about a person from the kind of dua they make.

Some of us are perfunctory, preferring to stick to what has been said before for generations. Some of us create our own duas that weave the reality of our lives with the prophetic wisdom of the past. She is in a category all her own. I pray that she publishes her children’s book one day soon, because the world needs her writing. (She is a lawyer by training). There is only one other person I know who can write like that — my husband. 

Fatima Zahra 3 is also a mother of multiples.

She pointed out something I had not noticed, and probed me on something I did not want to admit. I have sat in her bed, talking late into the night. We have shared burgers and milkshakes in the park at 10PM — before motherhood. And still after all these years, her insights have left an indelible mark on my psyche. Our interactions are not as often, but when we see each other is it like no time apart. She’s recommended books that have changed the way I parent, and interact with my children. It’s like our souls knew each other before we knew each other.

There is no greater gift than the gift of knowledge.

These are some of the Fatima Zahras in my life have changed my life.

Yes, there are episodes of fun, delight, happiness, and joy. The people you see or talk to once in a while, and each time it is like starting from the beginning. They are full of wonderful qualities and you respect them from afar, but it always feels like they will be an acquaintance despite the time invested.

But the friends who are able to share the upsets and heartaches are truly the ones I have learned from. I never thought at this age — MIDDLE AGE it appears— that I would cultivate friendships like this, that anyone would trust me with their innermost thoughts. Who am I in the majesty of all this? Who knows what I really offer them aside from comic relief as a mom who can’t find her kids’ crayons or notebooks — but I pray that God reunites us in the next life too, so we are neighbors in Paradise.

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on

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