Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

She was extremely worried, almost akin to being crippled with the thoughts of all the ‘what ifs’ that could possibly happen for it all to go wrong, for all her efforts to go in vein. The people she was arranging the function with were not the most cooperative, and as happens with all families, the complains, comparisons and the dubious judgements were draining her spirit away with apprehension. The function had to go right, she prayed so much for this occasion, and now it would kill her if it did not go smooth.

Its not easy being in her shoes. Doing so much, so selflessly, for people so close to her yet being unappreciated and rather envied upon, is very demotivating. She was constantly praying for it go well, but still the anxiety was not leaving her. So she took a step back and reassessed everything.

She was doing it all for the wrong reason. She was working so hard, doing it all by herself so everyone around would be pleased, happy and confortable. She was doing it for a noble reason, but the situation demanded that she be nobler. So she geared her intention away and decided to do it all an act of worship, an act of charity to gain pleasure of Allah. She threw away her constant need of people’s approval and started organising the function as if Allah was coming to attend it, as if it was Allah who she needed to impress- be it her dress, her looks, her decorations or the food. Thats it. Allah is the Guest of Honor so thats what she focussed on.

No sooner than she did so, not only did it calm her down and for the first time since the wedding preparations started she started to enjoy herself, but also everything that was causing her to worry started disappearing. Her scarf arrived right when she was about to head out, she was praised remarkably for her looks and the way she carried herself,and the function? Well it couldn’t have gone any better! Literally that’s how simple it was! Suddenly everything around was effortless, it all just fell into place like the missing pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. It was a complete wedding. Alhamdulillah, MashaAllah, TabarakAllah.

As she stood there and looked at the bride and the groom, she realised she was watching her prayer being answered. Allah knows how much she wanted and prayed for these two to be married to each other, and that’s probably why she put her heart and soul into organizing this wedding so much, because it was her prayer being answered. And Allah couldn’t have answered it any better, making her the highlight of the entire event. Because only He witnessed every sincere effort and intention she put behind making this wedding happen.

 

Even someone else was telling me the other day, that when she needs her friends and they aren’t there for her, she turns herself away from everything and everyone and starts praying. Literally within 5 mins her phone starts bombarding with calls. Someone wise has said, “if you want to fix your relationships with others, fix your relationship with Allah. He will in turn fix it with people for you.”

These are stories of average people, the everyday heroes or the John/ Jane Doe’s of our daily lives. None are particularly good or worthy, and all are full of mistakes. They are just like you and me- they sometimes forget to pray, say things they shoulnt say, utter white lies in the heat of the moment, get worried, stressed, struggle to hold faith, and fail to “feel grateful”. And yet these stories, their stories,  remind me, time and time again, that :


I hope it reminds you too. 

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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. 

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).

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!

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.

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.