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. 

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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.

Look Closer

I was waiting for the bus for a while, but as soon as I made dua it came. Alhamdulillah. My feet were sore so I made another quick dua to Allah to find me a seat inside, so I wont have to stand. When I got in, by force of habit my eyes scanned the single seats and found them occupied, so I resorted to standing with everyone else. But as the bus started moving, I turned and saw one empty seat at the back, staring back at me. Had I looked closer beyond my usual preferred seats, I would have found that Allah did infact answer my dua, I was the one who carelessly jumped into the conclusion that He didnt. I didnt look hard enough.

I started to wonder as I sat down, how many times do we do this with our duas? How many times we are quick enough to jump into the conclusion that our duas didnt get answered just by scanning the surface, carelessly overlooking the details? How much effort do we actually put into looking for our “answered duas”? Do we look enough? Should we search harder? Are we heedlessly dismissing our “already answered duas” just because we havent expanded our intellectual horizons to the possibility of the different ways they can be delivered?Are we really looking meticulously for the delivery of our wishes, wants and needs which we pray for?

Are we truely, sincerely, genuinely looking hard enough?

Something I ask myself first and foremost as I think of this verse from the Quran (3:191).

Sleepless In Seattle 

In Surah Kahf, Allah describes the sleepers of the cave, and how He put them to sleep. In depth explanation of the Surah reveals that Allah actually put those men to sleep like a mother who loving pats the head of her baby when trying to put it to sleep (Ref Story Night by Nouman Ali Khan).

When I was undergoing a tremendously catastrophic time of my life, I suffered from insomnia. So ever since then till now, everytime I struggle to sleep, I ask Allah to pat my head like He did for those sleepers of the cave, and put me to sleep. Everytime I have said this, within minutes I fell asleep. From then till now, everytime I make this dua it works. 

Recently, I upgraded my dua and I put a time limit. I ask Allah to put me to sleep in 5minutes, and withing couples minutes I pass out. Even when there will be so much noise around me (I am a very light sleeper), I ask Allah to filter the noise for me so I can sleep, because thats what He must have done for those men as well. Else it wouldnt have been possible for them to sleep when so many poeple would scream and run away from them after getting scared at finding them there.  

He did this for them years ago, and He is still doing the same for me. There is no reason He wont do the same for you. 

We take lessons from Surah Kahf every Friday, very hard, difficult lessons about life. Why is it that we always have to learn the hard stuffs? The matured topics, the kinda things you discuss only in an adult table? Why cant we take simple lessons like this and live with Quran in everyday life? Quran doesnt always have to teach us “life” lessons. Its purpose is all encompassing, even something as mundane as going to sleep everynight.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: make things easy, do not make hard. 

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!

Marvel: The Series- Al Lateef, Al Qawee, Al Azeez

Stumbling upon this verse, something really struck a cord with me. I paused and reflected on the contrasting names of Allah; He is The Subtle One (Al Lateef), but He is also The Powerful One (Al Qawee), The All Mighty (Al Azeez). 

When life moves very very slowly, or seemingly slowly, almost akin to snail speed, we sometimes even have to pinch ourselves to believe that things are actually happening, albeit in the realm of the unseen reality. As “make believe” as that feels, because Allah is so Subtle, it is also equally true that He is the Dominant one. Allah has not left our affairs in autopilot.  We are not in a position where we have to sort of feel like He is not giving us enough attention (sounds horrible, may Allah forgive us, but we all go through those spiritual lows because we are humans and we were created with our sinister lower selves that is always full of trash talks). Even though the subtlety with which He orchestrates the nuances are sometimes so ordinary, that we almost feel like nothing is happening at all, His Might and Power is constantly doing things, planning in our favor, laying foundations for the good that is to follow. There is constant work in progress being done in the background, in the veil of the Unseen. 

When I was going through the worst phase of my life, circumstances dictated me to do certain things that time, make certain moves, take certain steps which at that time felt absolutely “unneeded” and didnt make sense at all. I wanted to run away from everything, even from life from a brief period of time. But today, I am living off of the fruits of those painful yet much needed decisions. Looking back I realise that the things that are happening right now,both good and bad,need the resources I gathered that time from those troublesome decisions. So basically Allah was planning it all since then. I just couldnt see and didnt know.

Just because things are subtle doesnt mean they arent powerful enough, impactful enough. When disaster strikes, the impact is a right knock out punch that makes you throw up blood from the guy, but for relief and joy, its slow and gentle. However, that does NOT by anyway mean the latter are not strong or powerful enough to change our lives with joy and bliss. Both have equal power to change the course of history, our lives, our stories.

Something to think about eh?