The Painted Veil: Story Of A Prayer Answered

Dear Readers,

I recently had a conversation with a very dear friend of mine, who had been battling tremendous amount of hardship for a long time.  She got married very early for her age, and mashaAllah have very beautiful children. But her marriage had been a turmoil since as long as she can remember. She has been married for 8 years and the journey has been anything but a turmoil, akin to riding in Noah’s ark. There were times when she was tested to the limits with her marriage such that I would never want anyone to be tested with. She tried a lot of duas, with sincerity and honesty, but the results came out zilch.
Recently, finding no other way, she asked others to pray for her, to get a clarity of things, to get a direction of what she should do, because it was becoming unbearable for her. And soon after that, within just a few months, her matters started resolving on their own, flowing smoothly mashaAllah, may Allah always protect her happiness. So I reached out to her and wanted to know what is it she did because of which her years of trials and tests came to an end. I am posting our conversations here, with the hope and intention that it might reach out to a soul yearning for direction and clarity in life. Even though the context is marriage, I am sure the advice can be used generally for other situations as well. As I always say, take the good that you get, and leave the rest to collect dust.

Q: Can I ask you something? Apart from asking others to make dua for you, did you do any specific act of worship because of which your matters sorted out so smoothly and quickly, mashaAllah may Allah always protect you ?

A:I prayed 2 rakah nafl after praying fard n sunnah during Isha. My niyah for the 2 rakah nafl was Allah to take away my confusion, set things straight for me, ease my difficulties, give my heart some peace. (I didnt specifically ask to be or not to be with my husband. I left that on Allah. )

Q:So you prayed 2 nawafil after Isha sunnah before witr right?

A: Yes


Q:Ooh also did you make any specific dua in that extra 2 rakah or your intention was clear so you didnt make any specific dua for those 2 rakah?

A:I didn’t make specific dua. TBH I prayed for peace of mind and peace of heart and love. I often make nafl prayer when I’m lil uneasy, if committed minor sins or something. And through it I ask Allah to forgive me.Like if I’ve sinned ( talked behind someone’s back, or didn’t treat my kids right). When I stand in prayer for those 2 rakahs I humble my self and put all of my focus in it. And hope for Allah’s forgiveness.I pray properly, with my mind and body, and I also pray slower than usual.

Q: Hmmm so you tied forgiveness to your intention as well thats very smart mashaAllah cuz forgiveness of Allah opens doors.

A:Yeah, basically it’s very rare that I pray nafl just for the heck of it. I usually have an intent, a reason, behind it.Allah may or may not look at he quantity of our prayers but He will for sure look at the quality. I need to practice this more my self…. but yeah.

Q:If you dont mind, do you think there was any reason for things to remain unchanged for so many years for you and suddenly to change? Like was it only destiny (qadr) or may be some changes in your worship was the reason things were slugging?

A:I don’t have an answer really. The only thing that I did until few months ago was that I blamed everyone for my life, and I had reasons to. But I don’t do that anymore, because I can’t really picture my life with anyone else 😐.And I only saw negative in my husband, and I see more positive than negative now and it’s not like he changed drastically or anything but yeah my mind focuses on the positive.😊 

The only thing that’s different in life right now is that I have clarity. It’s not a perfect life nor is it a perfect marriage and in fact I think none of those “perfect” marriages/ lives, exist. It’s how you perceive your situation that matters. Sometimes your have to see it through someone else’s point of view to appreciate what you’ve got and I believe that’s what I’ve done and that’s where I benefited.

She recently celebrated her 8th marriage anniversary, and I must say she is a totally different person now. Alhamdulillah, mashaAllah, tabarakAllah. May Allah always protect her and keep her like this. She has outgrown herself from the helpless, despairing damsel in distress, and I sincerely request that you join me to say “ Ameen” (Amen) as I pray that Allah blesses her (and everyone reading this post seeking to gain some help) with a lifetime’s worth of joy, love, peace, health, ease and prosperity with all the loved ones, from this life to the next. Ameen.

We dont need to be particularly good or worthy to be deserving of relief from Allah. Most of us are ordinary people- some of us do or dont do our hijabs, some of us do nor dont spend time shopping online all day, some of us do or dont expose ourselves do unpleasant things to TV ( Of course we should try to be better than how we are now, there is always room for improvement.) But the fact lies that at the end of the day, we all have hopes to have our duas answered. In fact, hope is weak, we need to have full faith. Someone very wise once said to me, “when you want something, tell youself- I want it and Allah will give it to me. It doesnt matter how things look like, you just need to know this and have full faith that Allah will give you. Any other thoughts, just block them”. As difficult as it is to do, its not anymore complicated than that.

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P.S. I Am Sorry: A Pristine Forgiveness

We all know that seeking forgiveness of Allah (Istighfar) is a huge gateway to relief by having our prayers answered, and the chief prayer for forgiveness is Sayyidul Istighfar. (For details about benefits of Istighfar or know more about Sayyidul Istighfar virtues please refer to scholarly sources.)

I have been reciting this prayer for a while, and over the time I have realised that this prayer has taught me about forgiveness what no one or nothing else taught before. Whenever I have to forgiveness, this prayer sums up everything I feel like telling Allah ( I am someone who always has to speak to Allah in my own words, otherwise I feel incomplete). But this is the only prayer which does that job for me. So I thought I will share how it speaks to me, perhaps it might benefit those who are looking to have their prayers answered. It might add little more sincerity to your prayer, so forgiveness becomes more of a conversation than a plain chant or chain of thoughts about how ” sinful you are”. (The words in Italics are basically what I mean when I recite the respective lines in Bold).

 

O Allah, You are my Lord, none has the right to be worshiped except You,You created me and I am Your servant

” Oh Allah, you know how I am, because You created me. You created my mind, my brain cells ( our chain of thoughts come from brain cells firing them), my personality, my weaknesses. There is nothing about me or my evils of my lower sinister self that are hidden to you, because you have created every flesh, every cell of every fiber of my being. So you know how I am. I cant help thinking certain things, feel certain emotions; I cant stop worrying  about the future or have those doubtful thoughts, because they are part of my creation from you, Oh my Creator.

and I abide to Your covenant and promise [to honor it] as best I can,

Despite all my weaknesses and limitations, I do whatever I can, however I can. My weaknesses weigh me down, bring me down, but I still try to climb up. They bring me down 3 cubits but I am able to climb back up only 1, before they again pull me down. But still I do it, because that is the best I can, and you know it because you created me and my potential.

I take refuge in You from the evil of which I committed

But I am not proud of my weaknesses. Even though they are part of me and I have no immunity against sinning, I am not proud of them at all. I want to do better so I am asking you to protect me from them.

I acknowledge Your favor upon me

And I am aware of the blessings You shower upon me despite my sins, my mistakes, my weaknesses and limitations. I am aware that you do understand my situation and I thank you for understanding that my sins don’t necessarily make me evil.

and I acknowledge my sin, so forgive me,

So therefore forgive me.”

for verily none can forgive sins except You.

 

Hope this will help open the doors you have been desperately knocking. Please take only the good that you get and leave the rest to collect dust.

Sweet Nothings, Just Because! 

My co-worker is an elderly Jewish Rabbi. He is very friendly and nice, though I hardly run into him. Today out of nowhere he apprared in my room in the morning, offering me resources from his years of hard work, so it would ease up my workload. I could just use his files instead of making my own. Then later in the day, he got lunch for himself, but because it was too much for him to eat alone he brought them to my room again to share with me. I didnt have my lunch with me, because I already ate it at breakfast, so I could use his food. 

Right before I heading home, there were some treats left downstairs by the reception area, “just because”. I grabbed a doughnut as I punched out the clock.

As I walked towards the bus stop, I couldnt help but think how Allah has been doing so much extra for me through this hardship that recently came up on me last week. I have seen parents bring home favorite food when children are sick or upset. But The Lord Of The Skies And The Earth employed people from all walks of life, all different religions into doing these little things for me which He didnt need to, just because. The food or files didnt bring much difference in my day or my mood, I wasnt particularly elated. I kept getting worried and upset about the troubles and problems. But yes, for 2 seconds, just for 2 seconds, they helped shift my focus away and towards the grandeur with which Allah arranged these little somethings to care for me, to look after me. For two seconds it helped me appreciate and contemplate on Allah’s concern and touch. And then the two seconds increased to few more minutes as I decided to pen them down here. This is probably called increase from gratitude. Or may be not. But for whatever its worth, its few minutes worth of sweet nothings, just because! 

And that’s something.


Inspite Of The Overwhelming Evidence To The Contrary, Please Do

Sometimes a random baby smiling at you in the elevator is the best thing that happens in that day, and you shouldnt discredit that happy feeling just because you didnt climb Everest that day. The happiness might be as short lived as heartbeat’s worth of time, but you still have to be grateful for it,  still have to count is as something, still have to value it as something. You have to be grateful when the scale hasnt moved even though you finished up an entire tub of butter the night before, even though you didnt get caught stiffling that sob and passing it on as another episode of runny nose due to bad weather, you have to count those blessings. Even though you threw up in the middle of the night, the fact that noone heard you- you should be grateful for that. Even though its been hell of a year, the fact that Allah somehow sustains you amidst all these excruciatingly monstrous pains, you should be grateful. You must be grateful, you need to be grateful. 

Not being grateful isnt an option because you have to get out of this mess and this is the only way I know how to. Cant feel it? Then fake it, but still do. Inspite of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, please do. 

Mixed Blessings: Surah Baqarah

I am one Surah Baqarah month old today, Alhamdulillah. I took up a “Finish Surah Baqarah Twice Every Month” challenge with my friend starting September 1, and I wanted to share some changes this has brought in my life.

To begin with, to my immense surprise instead of every 14 days (my Quran recitation is not the vert best, I am slow) it took my 2-3 days to complete Surah Baqarah. So every 2/3 days I would start over. In fact once I finished within one day only. Its unbelievable how my recitation speed picked up as soon as I made the intention. Alhamdulillah.

I saw a lot of changes in my daily life. All my day-to-day duas started to get answered, the ones like “Oh Allah please dont let their be any queue for coffee, I know I started late but I still want to reach on time, Please wake me up for Tahajjud”- all the daily duas were happening Alhamdulillah. What that did is to a great extent it smoothed out my day to day life, trimming the edges of daily challenges, and made things easily doable. Completing a  one hour assignment in 30mins, finding all the relevant information that is needed- soon became a routine. All praise and thanks to Allah.

Some other remarkable changes have happened on the personal forefront as well. Not to mention that the ease in day to day life has tremendously helped me keep up with gratitude- everyday manifesations of tiny little duas filled up my gratitude journal with entries and slowly (still in process) helping my faith muscle to build. The effects of gratitude have then been rippling on to the major duas and the carousel has since then been turning Alhamdulillah.

I am also someone with an extremely restless subconscious mind. Dreaming about everything that I do during the day has been something I have had since I can remember. Moreover, for about a year I have been suffering from nightmares. Even though I do the morning and everning recitations daily, for some reason I didnt really see much results in terms of peaceful sleep. But with recitation of Baqarah, alhamdulillah my subconscious has sobered up tremendously. In the entire month I probably had 3/4 nighmares which is nothing compared to multiple ones every night, and that too they came because I was overthinking from stress.

I read the Baqarah on my tablet. I read it while commuting, during TV commercials, at night as a bedtime read. So I am constantly hooked up to my tablet. After Fajr I try to read atleast 1 verse, because the benefits are more during that time. Allah said if you busy yourself with Quran recitation, He will suffice you in other areas.So sometimes if I am busy, I just read one verse after Fajr (because its already sunrise time by then) and then do my morning adhkars during breakfast. Because I have an extremely busy schedule, its hard for me to take out “quality time” for fancy recitations. I just do whatever, whenever, however I can. And from what I see (and I have always advocated for it), Allah sometimes likes the “crappy/ugly” acts of worship more than the “pretty and prettier” ones. Instead of couning how often I complete the surah or how much I read, I just make sure I read. Quantity is just a number.

For someone like me who has had troubles leading a normal day to day life, Surah Baqarah has helped me significantly in very subtle ways to push through in the past one month. If you want to add Baqarah in your daily life, let me tell you this- the devil will not like it at all. So it will tell you all the reasons it will not work out and how difficult it will be to keep up. Trust me, I know because it took me one month (the whole of August) to convince myself to add this in my life. But let me tell you, even if it seems “difficult”, there is something magical about the way it becomes “effortless”. It just becomes effortless doable to recite it everyday. 

Give it a shot!


(For details about the benefits of Surah Baqarah, please go over the sayings of our Prophet pertaining to them, may peace and blessings be upon him).

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

A Late Summer Night’s Dream

I remember that Midsummer Night’s Dream. That devastating night, how I struggled to look for a meaning and purpose for it. How it took me so long to even begin to heal. The only good thing in that night was the moon. Other than that, I hated summer, I hated those trees, I hated the greenery. They trees shed their leaves and regained their greeery all within less than a year, while I stood there watching my life only shed everything, not gain. Hated them. The trees gained back leaves faster than mine. They had definite seasons planned, after 6 months they will get their leaves back. They had a calender to look forward to, I didnt. I didnt know when I would also get foliages in my life, and I detested the trees for knowing theirs. The greenery seemed to mock me, my stagnant, poignant story. It was Ramadan, sometime around the last ten nights, the best nights of the year.

I also remember the evening, right after sunset, of one of the best days of the year, towards the end of summer. There was the same moon and those same lush green leaves, about to turn yellow. There was even the same me. But that was it. Nothing else was the same. What I lost that midsummer night turned its way to come back on this late summer night. The tables were turning,  and as they did, I sat under those trees and made dua. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the trees started swaying in a breeze so beautiful, so serene, so peaceful, that I couldnt help but fall in love. The air was thick with freshness, dense with purity, an oxygen I never breathed before. A summer I knew before. I never knew the greenery could be good. I never knew Allah brought those greeneries back, nurtured and watered them all summer so when my time comes towards the end, they would join me to thank Allah before they hinernate for the season. So yes, I fell in love.

Fall in love with the subtlety yet the gravity Allah’s grandeur. I was sitting in front of the school playgroung which for some reason I stared at everytime I would cry. I never knew why but for years I had been drawn to the sight of that playground from my window. Now I knew why. Because Allah wanted that location to be the spot when it happens, so He made sure I had a connection with the place from before. My hatred for the summer and trees melted when those very trees joined me to glorify Allah that night. As they started to sway and dance the moment I started making dua, I just knew it wasnt random. It was much more. It was the trees joining me to glorify Allah, just how the birds joined Prophet David, just how Allah says in the Quran that everything in the skies and the earth does tasbih of Allah. Everything has their own way of worship, but it was a different experience when those very trees that bore the brunt of my replusion for years joined me to praise and thank Allah that night.

Allah keeps an account of everything, and incorporates even the minutest insignificant details into our story, because nothing is excess or random, should we pay attention.  SubhanAllah, Alhamdulillah, MashaAllah!

Did I mention that just as I was about to publish this post, I looked outside and saw the moon gazing right back at me? 

Alhamdulillah!

Struggle For Gratitude Continues

Gratitude is hard! Sometimes I wonder if there was a pill I could swallow so I could feel grateful all the time, like how those life coaches and positive psychologists say preach about. But I cant, it just doesnt come all the time. More often than not, I find it incredibly hard to “feel grateful”. Thats how I have realised and learnt that I can’t control how I feel. I am not always in charge of feeling certain emotions. Sometimes they just ARE. 

So I do whatever is in my control, which is to grab the pen and the notebook, and list the things that “under normal circumstances” I should have been grateful for. Things that are highlights of the day. Anything that stands out for that day- from being able to make that pasta perfectly to the moondlight peeking through my window during my night prayers and falling right on the prayer mat, I write them down. They dont cheer me up, they dont do anything to my mood or emotions, they are nothing more than a bunch of words on a piece of paper tossed away at a corner every morning.

But, to Allah, they are something. 


Even my “fake it till you make it” gratitude counts to Allah, for I do see things increase by His permission, alhamdulillah. Because Allah knows I struggle to feel grateful, I try so hard to push myself to feel so, but I fail. And in the light of all these struggles, just my physical effort of being grateful is all I can do. And thats all Allah takes, then He increases it to things which actually genuinely make me happy and grateful. 


Allah knows how hard it is to be grateful sometimes, so He just asks for that infenitisimal, insignificant amount of gratitude, you can squeeze out. He even swears to increase, even though His promise is true, just to convince and assure us, because looking at the quality and quantity of gratitude, sometimes its hard to believe Allah will even accept it. But He swears to convince you and me that He will increase, not once, but perpetually. Increase in whatever you need, want, desire.

Thats what helps me sleep. That as long as I am writing down my list of things I am supposed to feel grateful for, regardless of what I truly feel, Allah sees it. He sees that I am trying to be grateful. And thats what matters, thats what is important. He overlooks my emotional limitations and sees the physical effort, and keeps His promise. Not because I am anything, but because He is Something. 

In fact, He is Everything!

Alhamdulillah!