Elbow Room Inside The Whale

We feel like we arent doing them pretty- our prayers and worship. Especially when things go south and things are hard- we cant focus. Physical wellbeing, confidence in our relation with Allah, mental state (brain fog among others)- it feels like the tides are against us in everyway.  We google and ask around for special prayers or acts of worship, try out best to do everything so to keep to stones unturned as far as our part is concerned- but deep down we feel unsatiated because they are not good enough. The words are broken just like us, and since our thoughts are clouded by the seemingly insurmountable problems, we cant even focus on what we are asking of Allah.

But isnt that what happened with Prophet Yunus as well? Inside the very acidic belly of the whale, deep under the ocean in that stormy night- I bet his duas were anything but pretty. Just because he was a prophet doesnt mean he was a superhuman. He had flesh and blood like you and me. He must have been scared to death, worried sick, claustrophic may be, among so many other things. Its humanly not possible for him to make pretty duas with utmost concentration and focus the whole time. Because as we know from the story that he was very sick by the time he came out, the acids from the whale severly affected his health. So as his health kept getting worse, I wonder if there were some times when he even lost conciousness inside there. But he did whatever he could- he didnt worry or fret about how his duas were. Because his dua already acknowledged the fact that Allah is the One who is Perfect, devoid of flaws,not us. His Divine Perfection is more than enough to envelop of lack of perfection. Allah loves us more than our mother- so which mother cares if her child used the best way to address her or call her when h/she is just hanging by a thread of survive? We have been created with a brain whose job is to think, and worry when things look worrisome. Its natual and part of the way Allah created us. So yes your prayers, rituals, concentrations wont be pretty. And shaitaan will take full advantage of this into demotivating you because whats the point, your concentration isnt there. Shaitaan cant make you give up altogether so it will trick you into your own game. It will keep whispering till you are tired and demotivated enough at your own “worthlessness” to the point that you start believing it too. You keep focussing so much on the fact that dua made without focus isnt answered, that you forget that the Allah who will answer you is also the same Being who made you with these limitations in the first place; so He isnt expecting you to act like a superhuman. And then there are the youtube videos of scholars condemning you for lack of concentration which further sits on your head. I wish I had someone to teach me this as I write them, I would have been saved of a lot of self sabotaging self talks.

Allah doesnt need our prayers to help us, let alone them being pretty or not. We pray so we feel like we did something. So please give yourself some elbow room. Allah asks us to be gentle to His creations which by the way begins with you- your state of mind. Your youtube or google teacher or even your so called “sense of sincerity” sometimes actually works against you. Trying to be too good or too perfect isnt healthy either, especially when its unnatural to be so. Allah will answer your dua even when you are incapable of making it, inshaAllah.

Prophet Yunus understood this. You should too.

Everyday Reflections: Forgiveness-A Silver Linings Playbook

I would get this dream an aweful lot of times. The dream where there is thing in front of me- sometimes a purse, sometimes a pillow, sometimes a phone, blocking my view. No matter how much I tried to move it away so I could see whats beyond, I couldnt. It just just wouldnt move, because I wouldnt be able to exactly locate it. I mean its in front of me, but I just couldnt reach my hand to grab it and get it out of my way. Almost as if I was having neurological issues where my brain cant communicate the instruction to my hand to grab it. I struggled and it was frustrating- till I woke up. It was a very recurring dream and affected me a lot because I would wake up very angry and confused-it was so easy to grab the object yet everytime no matter how hard I tried I couldnt grab it to toss it out of my way so I could get a better look of whats beyond. I wanted to see whats beyond, because I could feel a vast open land was there on the other side and this was the only thing that was blocking my way. 

Several people including trained professionals interpreted the dream for me but none of then resonated with me. My heart didnt agree with what they said and I never go against my heart. But then one day I got to speak to someone who is a psychologist by profession, and she told me that the dream was because I had baggages that I needed to let go of. I needed to heal, I needed to just talk about everything that happened, accept they happened, come to terms with it…

…and forgive…

No one knows me better than I know myself. Everyone says it but I know it. I trauma bonded with myself when everyone else failed me. Deciding to do it alone meant I did the best that I knew how to, with whatever much I had. So basically I just plastered my heart with tapes and bandages, and lived on borrowed time hoping I would heal.Eventually those tapes became real and I forgot to heal. Better still, I didnt even know that healing is a process,forgiveness is a work in progress, not at all what we see in movies where you just declare it and everything goes back to normal. I got back and started climbing but not closing the chapter where I was hurt and needed to be healed from the scars.

Forgivevess was scary. It scared me to death because my self righteous ego kept me safe. I tried many different things to forgive- i did courses and therapies, tried to forget what happened (wrong approach), tried to reason with the wrong that was being done. But everything was falling short. Till I actually prayed for it. 

Yes, I prayed to want to forgive, because I didnt want to. I prayed to be able to forgive, because I wasnt able to. I prayed to look forward to forgive, because I wanted to run away from it. I prayed to heal, because that meant being exposed to the pain again and I would do anythint but that. I prayed for my heart to mend, because I remember that is one prayer I never made. I burnt in that fire of being wronged so I could make the most powerful of duas for the wrongs that I felt was done to me. I wanted fair price for what I went through.

When it happened in reality, when all those prayers started (they are still in process I hope they get answered soonish) being answered little bit, I rejoiced them. I felt that I was heard, that Allah knew I was wronged. But not for long. Eventually I realised I wasnt at peace. There was so much bitterness inside of me, so much resentment for all that happened, that I couldnt  see beyond my payback. I couldnt see that may be it gave me a sense of victory, but most certainly it didnt give me joy or happiness. Even though i prayed day and night for it, it almost felt like this is not what I prayed for- because what I “thought” I prayed for shouldnt look like this. It shoule give me relief. Till a point where I actually wished I could rephrase my prayers a different way. Instead of asking for things I didnt want, I should have asked for things I rather want. The bitterness of thinking of what happened and asking for all that to go away only added to the venom, to the brutality in my prayers, and because I am just a human, a sense of self righteousness or worthiness as well. As I kept getting signs of it happening, I eventually started to hate making those duas for things I did not want.

Because by that time, the other prayer I made for forgivess had started to be answered. I was healing. I was letting go. I was in the process of being able to accept what happened and move past it. I was able to forgive- everyone for everything. Yes I was starting to forgive, and that bitter pill of revenge was getting harder to swallow. Thats why I didnt want to think about it or ask for it to go away. I felt I was wasting my energy, there is so much more I want than what I dont want. Till I have reached a point now where I hardly pray for it go away. 

I still want it gone with just as much hatred as I did before, but I usually dont ask for it as much as before. Because now I pray more for things to come, not go away. Because Allah already knows in order for certain things to come, certain things need to go. Because white and black cant coexist, neither do light and darkness. And I choose to be the Light, because I willingly, voluntarily have submitted myself to the One who is the Light of the skies and the earth, The One besides whom there is no one to worship.

Don’t you want to know what happened to the dream? Yes you guessed it right. I dont get it anymore. Never got it since the day I prayed to Allah to mend me heart, allow me to accept what happened, let go and move forward. The psychologist was right, it was the baggage that kept coming in between me and that vast area of land where I could breathe. It still hurts like hell, but its not eating away my insides like a slow poison.

Its easy to let go when you dont care- either for what happened or the people who caused it. The real deal breaker is when you care about what happened, about the people who caused it, because no matter what you love them and despite everything want in your life.

I also feel there is a time for everything. Forgiveness becomes easier when you want to forgive. People say you forgive for yourself,perhaps they are right. But I forgave because I loved way too much to harbour the venom inside of me. Because no matter what, it will always be a truth that had happened, that had transpired,and the only way to overpower that would be to accept it. I did not embrace it nor will I ever do, but I accept it happened. So if you have anything or anyone you want to forgive, start off with asking Allah for truely wanting it. Think of why you want to want it, and then take it from there. Spouses,siblings, parents, friends, loved ones- dont keep resentment in heart IF IT IS POSSIBLE to let go. Afterall Allah wants us to forgive. 

Its a journey, and thus is a muscle building process. Starts and ends with prayer. Just like every other thing.

Psychology Of Gratitude In Journey Of Faith: Newton’s Inertia


Its natural and human to feel numb when the much awaited breakthrough happens, after what seemed like a never ending period of slump- full of doubts, confusion, fear and despairing depression. You think that okay when this thing happens I will be so motivated and I will kick the blanket the next day and get to being postitive, working hard for my pursuit, etc. Sometimes it happens, you become so elated you jump out of seat with glee, but other times, you just feel numb. And numb not out of shock, but you just dont feel anything. Of course you feel the relief, it trickles down those same veins through which the beads of perspiration of the fear of the numerous “what if’s” ran down just a moment ago. But thats about it. You dont feel the instant dancing with joy feeling. It has happened to me and to many around me. I would like to think its natural.

Newton has a law of inertia. In easy English, it says that an object will continue to stay the way it is long after an external force is applied to change its course. So if you twirl around for 15 circles, and suddenly stop, you feel everything around you still spinning, albeit you stopped moving a minute ago. You feel like that because your body needs time to adjust from the sudden cease in twirls.

Similarly the human psychology, after being exposed to prolonged abyss of despair, doubts, negative self talks, all the  worst possible outcomes that we talk ourselves INTO, just to prepare ourselves “in case”- puts our mind at an inertia. From experience, inertia of negativity is unfathomably more rigid that that of positivity. Needless to say, it takes our mind a bit of time to fully get used to the goodness. As I always say, everything is a muscle. Gratitude- acknowledging, accepting, embracing and letting it to be part of your life, being able to rise above the fear- takes time to build. One incident might be powerful enough to leapfrog through the process; or sometimes it goes the traditional way of taking time to fuse into this new change. Even then, there will be gravity- pulling you down to the slump of despair by creating doubts inside you, which are nothing but white noise. So just like a missile you have to work against the force and keep the chin up, till your muscles are strong enough so you can sit back and turn the autopilot on.


Either way, the reaction is okay. As long as you are not declining what has been given to you, as long as you are taking small, subtle steps to increase those muscles- you are a work on progress. You are not stuck in slump anymore. Thats the beginning.

The Devil’s Advocate

Many of us when a misfortune happens attribute to evil eye. In common English it basically means something that was good before got jinxed- health, wealth, relationships, happiness, achievement etc. And it is true- evil eye and black magic are real and we get affected by it a lot. Even our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was affected by it and Allah sent some Qurannic revelations to cure him (and hence us to seek protection from) of it.

But I would like to argue with a certain way of thoughts, whereby EVERYTHING that goes wrong is because either you are bewitched (someone did a black magic to you) or cast evil eye to your goodness. In fact I would like to believe that more often than not, the unfortunate things that happen to us are from Allah- and they were meant to happen to us for reasons we can or cant explain. Attributing every misfortunes and claiming to be a victim of evil eye even when one so much as sneezes, according to me (no fatwa here, just a personal muse) is sort of shirk (associating partners to Allah).Because one of the core fundamentals of our faith is to believe in the Divine Predestination (Qadr)- both good and bad. In the Quran Allah talks about misfortunes as “musibaah”-and praises those who actually acknowledge that it is from Allah, targeted specifically to happen to them. As a result they say,”To Allah we belong and to Him is our return”- thereby declaring that we (i.e our lives- the things that happen to us) come from Allah and only He can take them back; they begin from Him and end back to Him. So living in a glass house by attributing our difficulties to being bewitched or casted evil eye upon,  sometimes we are denying that perhaps it happened because Allah willed it to happen, not some black magic whatsoever.

We give the devil too much recognition for its evils.  Afterall thats what it always does-pretending to be God, disguising as the so called “conscience”, whereas more often than not, its that self doubt/ lack of understanding talking. The conscience needs to know better to be able to distinguish between the two. We need to know better.

Take any good you might find, and leave the rest to collect dust.

But I Have Promises To Keep, And Miles To Go Before I Sleep: Reflections On Ramadan 2017


Despite my phobia of Ramadan, despite dreading its arrival, despite not being mentally ready to walk down that same time of the year that took everything away from me, it happened. Ramadan happened, it came and it left. 

It was a roller coaster ride, perhaps with more lows than highs.The lows were brutal, much akin to the monstrous events of last year. I was hurt, bruised, torn, yet again. Most of the Ramadan I did very little worship, because my health couldnt take the difficulties than kept coming, the bruises kept hurting and the heartache kept consuming me like a fire burning everything inside of me. Guilty as charged, at my lowest, I even pondered if death would rid me of this pain (may Allah forgive me).

Sounds like a total replica of last year horrific Ramadan memories, doesnt it?

But it wasnt so. This Ramadan was anything but that of last year. The good things Allah sent to me this Ramadan, most definitely never happened to me ever. From being saved from a near death experience absolutely untouched, to some of the most beautiful serendipities- ones I never knew existed, happened. And I finally did what I could never do- accept the mistakes I made last Ramadan in terms of worship. Accept that even though I thought I did all I could, I was not doing them the right way. My mindset wasnt right, and perhaps my maturity wasnt upto the level of being able to have the things I wanted out of last year’s Ramadan. Allah knows best. 

I wont forget how this year Allah let me carry on with my low energy, low enthusiastic,D graded worship for the first 20 days. I wasnt doing physically well, so alhamdulillah Allah gave me lots of leeways. But He knew better that in order for me to NOT have the Ramadan like last hear,I needed to do things that I did NOT do last year. Allah always knows better. So in ways I still cant comprehend, I literally felt Allah gently holding my hand and guiding me through the last ten nights to worship Him, regardless of the external circumstances- however much I could.He sent me support and assistance I needed in terms of spiritual motivation, through some very special people. People who were not there last year. He ordained for me to witness some of miraculous ways He saves us, as I witnessed it in my own life as well as in the life of my friend- the miraculous and unimaginable ways He helps against every odds, bending every rules, every laws. Against everything that always goes wrong, when we ask Allah, He doesnt hesitate to go the unusual way. One of the verses that I witnessed this month was: 


Despite everything, as Ramadan is leaving I feel little unsafe. I feel little unprotected. I feel like no matter what I was being protected under the shade of Ramadan. And this is when I remind myself that I worship Allah, not Ramadan. Its the same Allah with His Unimaginable Mercy and Power that will always be there, because unlike Ramadan, He is not seasonal. That the doors to duas remain open throughout the year as long as I live, because Allah will continue to come down in the last one third of everynight to ask me what I want, regardless of the time of the year.

Because Allah protects me, not Ramadan. 

Thank you Allah. 

Alhamdulillah.


Reflections On Istighfar (To Have Duas Answered)

We have all pretty much heard about the above saying of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). A lot of us engage in daily dhikr (counting beads) through istighfar to have our duas answered. Even the Quran has numerous verses which talk about the benefits of asking for forgiveness- both worldly and for the hereafter.Benefits of istighfar are widespread all over the internet, alhamdulillah, in case you want to know more about it.
The idea is basically to have our sins forgiven. Most definitely the first way to do so is to do istighfar, verbally asking Allah to overlook our shortcomings. But thats not the only way. There are plenty of other deeds which forgive our sins as well. For eg, dua after eating, doing wudu, dua after leaving washroom, saying subhanAllah, alhamdulillah and allahu akbar 33 times each followed by la ilala illallahu…shayin qadeer once. ( I am skipping details because this post is really not about knowledge, please refer to more scholarly platforms for in depth knowledge of duas and dhikrs with their virtues.) 

So when we are tying our intention to do as much istighfar as possible so to have our doors opened, we should focus on all those things which forgive our sins, along with doing the istighfar per se. We will notice so many mundane things we do already contain the virtue of having sins forgiven, we just need to have the intention and presence of mind. Every good that we do, we can make the intention to have some of our sins forgiven for that. 

Therefore, if you are looking to do lots of istighfar, look out for all the deeds which have the reward of having sins forgiven. You should get them in the books of hadith or other scholarly resources, inshaAllah.

This post is actually inspired from a lecture of Mufti Menk. 

Take the good that you get, and leave the rest to collect dust.

Day 16: Ramadan Reflections- A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Disclaimer: Contains tiny bit of poignant hues

I was really hoping I would be catching some sleep that night. I didnt want the night to turn out like this. I wished I didnt know about it, I wished I could unhear what I heard. I honestly wished I could travel to the world above the skies for couple days, perhaps the weekend, and come back on Monday morning. Take the weekend off- because in my world, taking the weekend off is pretty analogous to that.

After I hung up on the phone, I sat on my bed, trying to make sense of what or how am i supposed to feel. Nowadays it doesnt even hurt anymore, I guess the sensations in the nerves have wilted out over the years. It hurts so bad it doesnt hurt anymore. I still needed to know what am I supposed to feel- because the darkness seemed to trump the faint light that was struggling to peek. And I wanted that light, albeit small, its much better than the mostrous darkness. The darkness is like a canine, a hound may be- just the presence of it sometimes is ominous.

As much as my sinister lower self tried to let itself fall prey on the sadistic, merciless predator, my corresponding meek, vulnerable, still wanting to live and not leave part saw something. Something that no matter how much my ego tried to dismiss saying the tragedy is greater- failed.

The Moon. The moon and I have come pretty close since last winter. I like it. When I am alone among the 6bn people in the world, the moon joins me and we silently glorify our Creator everynight. 

In the Quran, Allah says He is 

Everything that is illuminating- sun, moon, star- all are from Allah’s Light.Even in that dark, ruthless night, the Moon was there with me, and through it, Light of My Creator. Even in that turmoil of emotions, amidst the chaos of my raging heart, I noticed how beautiful the Light was. Soft, subtle, silently illuminating the very area where I pray. For a moment my thoughts drifted to the moon, that Light, those memories. I remembered my dream dua- that of my dream home, where I pray to Allah in the depths of the night, with the moonlight filling up my entire bedroom, falling right on my bed. The very bed where I was sitting that time and thinking about it all.

So I got up, gently pulled the blanket aside, and joined the moon. Together we silently glorified Our Creator, and as I prayed for my dream life, I hope it joined me too.

Perhaps thats why the night was so dark, thats why I had to hear what I hear, went through the incidents of that night. So I could see that the only pretty thing that night was the moon.

And my dream duas.