Meet Houda. A dawn raid changed her and her family’s lives forever. Their traumatic experience has scarred three generations. She made a promise to her four-year-old daughter that she was forced to break. The pain and guilt lives on within her, to this day.


I came to England ten years ago, and was living a normal, peaceful life.  I was home-schooling my children and was also a teacher in a madrassa. I was an active member of the local community.

But early one morning, everything changed.

My sister was taking care of my children in my home, and another sister was also there with her children. She had recently been made homeless so she was staying with us. I had just got home and was drinking water. There was a loud knock on the door and I could see through the window that it was the police.

It wasn’t the first time that it had happened, so I was worried that they were going to break the door. I quickly ran to the door to open it. I was rushing to find my hijab once I’d opened it but I couldn’t find it in time. I was grabbed from behind and pushed against the wall.

I was shocked.  I couldn’t understand what was going on. I looked over at my children. They were holding onto each other, watching their mother being arrested.

My sister wasn’t wearing a hijab; she didn’t have a chance to cover herself. We were all terrified. I knew something serious was happening, but I couldn’t understand why it was happening to me, and right in front of my children.

At that moment, I was reminded that I truly belong to Allah (swt). I called out to Him and said, ‘to Him we belong, and to Him we return’.

It was heart-breaking for me as a mother. I physically couldn’t stand and asked if I could sit down. I held my children, each on one knee. I tried to explain to them that Mum was going away with these people to help them. I thought I would be coming back so I told them that I would return – but I didn’t. They then let me put on my hijab and took me from my home.

When I walked out the door, I felt like I left a part of me behind. It’s not easy leaving your children, especially when you don’t know where you’re going or what’s happening. I called out to Allah and said, whatever I leave behind, I leave in your care.

Seized and scarred

I was then taken to the police car, handcuffed and confused. I was looking out the window, trying to figure out where I was going. It was the beginning of a difficult journey.

I had to believe that whatever was happening was going to end soon. One of the officers said I was brave, that I was handling it very well. They didn’t know that I was trembling inside. Whatever they said or did was insignificant for me, I didn’t care. All that existed to me at that time was the worry for my children, and trying to understand what was going to happen to them and me.

When I left my house that day, I couldn’t bear to turn back. I turned to Allah and said, ‘Ya Allah, You are the most powerful here’. I was worried about my children seeing me. My youngest daughter was grabbing the eldest. Their eyes looked frightened.

My youngest daughter was the most impacted. She was only four years old at the time, and my other child was seven. I still remember the look in my daughter’s eyes, the way she was looking at me. They both couldn’t understand what was going on because they believed I was coming back. Even today, my daughter says, ‘Mum, I believed you were coming back after three days. Why didn’t they let you come back?’

That image of my daughter is stuck in my head until today. I had thought they would keep me in custody for a maximum of three days. I hadn’t done anything and I was a mother. I needed to be there for my children, who I care for and home-school. If I’m not there, that all stops.

I think there are better ways to arrest people or conduct raids. I know they are just doing their job but there must be a different way. My children didn’t do anything wrong, and they shouldn’t have to experience it. The lasting impact of what they experienced is still there.

Shocked and Shattered

My sister was still looking after my two children. It was late, around midnight. They were told they had to leave the house, but they had nowhere to go, and no means of transport. They couldn’t take anything with them; everything had to be left. They were only allowed to leave with their sandals. We didn’t have a car so my sister couldn’t drive them anywhere. Eventually, the police dropped my children and my sister to my parent’s home.

My mother was shocked, seeing her two grandchildren and her daughter in a distressed state.   My family was put under so much stress, dealing with everything whilst I was in prison.  My life was shattered. I lost my home because I was in prison. Since we left that home, we never went back to it. My family and I couldn’t afford to keep up the rent whilst I was away in prison, so my mum called the landlord and gave it up.  They had to give away all my stuff and didn’t have time to sell it. They had to manage everything on their own. It was even harder as they didn’t speak English.

My mother was worried about me and kept wondering where I was and what was going to happen to me. She didn’t have any contacts who she could turn to or inquire about my whereabouts. I sat by myself in custody wondering what my family was going through; thinking about my mother and how she was dealing with it, and then about my children. I was questioning where they were, how they were feeling, and whether they knew where I was.

My family and I were all experiencing it together, and going through this incident which was so sudden. Initially, I couldn’t speak to my children; the police were not allowing me to speak to them but then Alhamdulillah, the courts granted permission to contact them.

It was around two days since I had spoken to them. I just wanted to hear their voices and reassure them that I was fine. I didn’t need to say anything else that was going on, but just that I would be okay. That’s all we need, as humans; reassurance that someone is okay. When I wasn’t initially allowed to do that, it was a tormenting time.

Alhamdulillah, as believers we know that we belong to Allah and anything we experience is from Him. When I was locked in custody, I knew that I needed to put my head on the floor in prostration, and nothing else could alleviate the pain I was in. The pain of being ripped from my children is something I still feel today. I experience it physically and not just emotionally. I was on the floor asking Allah (swt) to help me through the difficult moments because I knew difficult days were coming.

I wanted to pray and be in clean clothes, as I knew that only prayer and patience would get me through this horrific and unforgettable part of my life.

Read more of Houda’s story…

Houda’s Story Part Two

‘It's still a deep scar that's left on my mum's soul.’ Houda’s family were torn apart. Their lives shattered, they were left to deal alone, with the aftermath of her arrest. Quick Donate Single Donation Monthly regular Donation £ Zakat Interest Sadaqa Donate A Deep Scar on Her Soul My mother was so brave through [...]

Houda’s Story Part Three

When freedom finally came, it wasn’t an easy welcome. But a friendly face came to make the transition a little easier.