That Faith Muscle

So my friend and I were discussing the topic of certainty and belief in the prayers that we make. Discovering that we both suffer from that hollow in the pit of the stomach or the sinking of the heart that is felt when we are to take a leap of faith, was an eye opening experience, much to our chagrin. We both felt it is something we need to help each other with, and I just wanted to share some of the realisations we had in the process.

So let’s start with an example. You are ravenously famished and you still are en route to home from work, so you call home to your mother and ask her to have the food ready. Would it ever occur to you in the fragment of your imagination that your mother might NOT keep the food ready for you? Would you ever have that feeling of “What if I go home and she doesnt make food for me so I have to spend the night hungry?” The thoughts wouldnt even cross your mind. Because you are certain and you have that trust in her that she will.

But unfortunately this equation gets horribly messed up when we are put in a position to place that same unwavering certainty in Allah. No matter how much we know and learn, the human psychology defies them. May be some very highly spiritual scholars have that level of certainty, but I believe I am speaking for the everyday Jane/John Does like you and me. 

So my friend and I have decided to take the following actions and monitor our progress on a weekly basis:

1) We ask Allah to give us our wishes despite our lack of sufficient, unfaltering faith. He is Al Wasie (The all Encompassing)- so His love and generosity encompasses our shortcomings. 

2) Even Prophet Ibrahim asked Allah to fulfil his dua and use that as a means to firm his faith. So realise that weakness of the heart is a human phenomenon which Allah actually acknowledges in the Quran. Allah teaches us from the example of this great Prophet that we can ask Allah to increase our faith by actualising our prayers and desires.

3) Positive affirmations dont work. If any, the closest it can get to is by talking to Allah. Now what to do I mean by that? For eg, you want to be married. So you call upon Al Wali (The Guardian) in a manner where you explain to Him the significance of His name. Its not that Allah doesnt know the significance of that particular name; but it is through explaining to Allah that you basically strengthen your own faith muscle. For eg you tell Allah that ” You are my guardian, so You are responsible for finding a spouse for me. You have assigned Yourself as my guardian so You have to find someone who You trust me with, who will be my guardian in this world. You have to find this person for me because no one else will do a better job than You.”

As you will keep talking like this to Allah you will feel a sense of power inside you- that is the power from having trust on Allah. The power that you are aided, helped, assisted. This will grow your faith muscle. But just like any workout, you got to be diligent and focussed. Its no less than a workout trust me.

4) Make little duas everyday and as they manifest write them down- details of the experience and what you learnt.

I just wanted to say that everything I have written above is from first hand experience. I don’t if these doubts and self talks ever completely go away, but for what its worth, it most definitely gets better and lesser. Take it from someone who was a paranoid in asking something from Allah because of the ill thoughts and expectations, courtesy to the voice of the devil pretending to be God and telling you that you wont get your prayers.

Serendipity:From Snow To Spring of Showers

I started my Serendipity Series towards the end of Winter- in the last remaining days of  snow. Winter is beautiful- or may be this winter I actually was blessed with the ability to actually feel that beauty. This winter came with promises for a life I never knew existed- much to my own surprise, for the better. I learnt to smile this winter, I learnt to be grateful, but most importantly, I learnt one or two things about believing.

Believing- yes. This winter taught me what it means to ” Be Living”, beyond just a set of breathes and days culminating into an abyss of despair. It gave me a purpose, a reason to get up and marvel at the beauty of His Divine Creations. With every flake of snow falling soundlessly, I felt myself slowly changing,evolving and rising. Rising to be the person I never was. This winter taught me strength,and as I spent the long nights marvelling at the magnificent beauty of the moon and the snow, I learnt that the morning was near. The daybreak was nearer than I thought.


As the winter prepared to bid adieus for this season, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of poignancy creep in. To me, this winter was the best thing that happened after what seemed like an eternity. I was scared that perhaps spring will be harsh, despite its lushy green foliages. But winter was loving enough to quelch my fears. As it parted, it left behind for me a gift which forever changed the life I was living. It left behind for me a season full of promises, joy, unprecented amount of gratitude, and faith. 

Yes, winter left behind for me a Spring of Serendipities. Because more often that not, Serendipities Do Happen.


I started my serendipity series when it used to snow. As I continue with my journey and hence this series, its not snowing anymore now.

Its showering. Winter made sure to leave behind a spring of showers for me.



Thank you God.

Efforts Are Basically Placebos


When we pray for something, we are required to take actions as well towards achieving it. There is no free lunch in reality.

But what is important is that we realise that our actions really do NOT generate/ guarantee results. Results come from The All Able, from God. He uses our efforts to manifest results. Remember that time when you had a really horrible exam but your passed with flying colors, and you absolutely have no idea how it happened? Well there is your proof. He excused your poor performace and gave you a better result from Him, as a a token of His love.

So why then, do we need to work? Why can’t God just give us everything like that? Well it is because of our own accountability and ownership. It is for the same reason your parents let you work to earn your tuition for college, albeit they are very much able to afford it. It is to teach us accountability and take ownership of our achievements.

When Maryam (peace be upon her) was in the pain of delivery, she was asked to shake the tree above her so it would shed fruits for her to eat. Imagine how vigoriously could actually shake it? My guess she probably was barely able to touch the huge tree trunk, let alone shake it. But she did whatever she could, and the tree bowed down to reach her. 

So your efforts are subjective at times. Just because you can’t exert as much effort like others does NOT mean your doors to achievements are closed. Sincerity is all that counts. God does not need your efforts to give you. Your efforts are the best you can do in your particular situation, so when you achieve your success, you feel the confidence in seeing the fruits if your labor. It is all for you. 


So stop fretting about not being as good as others. Maryam wasn’t. So the tree came to her. It can come to you too, Because just like her, you too are no prophet.

Everyday believers like you and me are not excluded from the Divine Miracles.

Foundation of Faith

Often times we portray Islam as only a set of rules and regulations. This is highly dangerous. Not only is this wrong but also a deterrent to anyone wishing to embrace Islam or know about it. I myself am guilty of this ignorance as well in the past.
Our foundation of faith lies on One Ilah.

An Ilah is Someone who is not only a deity of worship, but He is also the One to love unconditionally. Someone Who we run to in times of danger and difficulty, because we only trust His infinite capability to give us safety and security, fulfill our wishes. Allah is our Ilah. We do not use any medium ( idols, statues or people) to seek closeness to Him. There is no one between us and Allah. And Prophet Muhammad SAW is His messenger who taught us about Him.

This is the fundamental principle of Islam. Once we know Allah and believe in His Oneness, then we can truly obey His commands and rules. Not the other way round.

 

You Are Probably A Bird

When you walk into a brightly lit room from darkness you squint your eyes.

When you wake up after a refreshing nap you still feel little groggy the first couple seconds.

In the same manner, when joy peeks in after what seemed like an eternity of grief, when relief comes in after an eternity of oppression- it is natural to be scared initially. Its okay if your initial reaction is that fear and not gratitude. It really is- because the years of tears and pain made your entire existance learn to anticipate only worse. It will be sometime before it reverses itself. So its okay, because birds raised in cages are afraid to fly.


Nostalgia Kills


You miss it. You miss those times. The people, the lanes, the streets- it is as life you lived an eternity among them. It is as if it was a whole different life, a whole different you.

Reminisce it. Soak yourself in the scent of those nostalgic fragrances as you breathe into your pillow, stiffling another sob under those staggering breathes. Allow your heart to swell and burst as it walks down the memory lane of those bittersweet cinnamon memories of the winter mornings.

And what better time to do it than the depths of the night? When the only One who lived through those experiences with you come down in the last third of the night- only for you. To reminisce your journey with you, laugh at your joy, weep for your sorrows, grieve the loss and hope for the future. He wants to walk those ailes with you, know about the taste of those salty cashwes you had, the sweetness of the fruits you got drunk in, the spices of the various colors that gave you ulcers.

He watches you twisting and turning in agony as you silently soak your pillow with another sleepless night. Thats why He comes down everynight and waits for you behind the clouds. To talk to you, to hear from you. 


The Psychology Of Rising Above

The way we act are governed by the preconceived notions of our mind. Claiming to know ourselves to the core, we SOMETIMES choose to believe certain things as far as our potentials are concerned. 

When you read the lines above, what are you thinking? Are you guilt tripping yourself because you do not aim high enough or you are taking in inspiration to aim higher? That answer there itself is the key psychology you need to identify and either work on or hold onto.


Because your thoughts dictate your actions, you can choose. Thoughts are nothing but energy. We all know from those afternoon naps in Physics class that energy cant be created or destroyed rather they can only be transformed. So I agree when you say you cant control your thoughts because you are not supposed to. But you can most definitely gear them into what gives you jitters of hope and expectations.


However, even after all these self help serums, the truth remains that some of us are limited in our potentials. We are not extraordinary, we are not gifted, we cant do what others can. We struggle but we cant go any beyond. Our capabilities are limited. We were just not born with them. What about us? 

Remember this. We are creations, we are not The Creator. So we cant do anything about what we do not have. But God can. If there is something you want in the creation of yourself but you don’t have, your Creator can create it for you. If you dont have the intelligence, you dont have the talent, you dont have the mental or psychological stamina, you dont have the faith, you dont have the courage, you dont have the resources, the support, whatever it is you do not have, He can create for you, and He can tailor it, customize it,personalize it suited to your individual comfort and ease. There is a reason He has named Himself The Creator, and if you look deeper, you will realise He has not put a limit in His ability to create.


If you can think like this, if you can make attempts based on these thoughts, you will automatically amp up your game. Because in the process of allowing these thoughts to creep in, you have already broken yourself from the shackes of fear. Yes, it was fear and self doubt that was holding you back. And if you didnt realise, more often than not, they were pretending to be in your favor. Pretending.