This Ramadan, Weave Into The Labyrinth of Love

A/N: Few parts of this post has been inspired from Grey’s Anatomy. But this post is ENTIRELY a personal reflection and conveys NO scholarly guidance whatsover. Please take any good that you get and leave the rest to collect dust.

When Ramadan arrives, you will reach out to others to ask for forgiveness, the angels will ask for forgiveness for you, you will worship Allah the whole month to attain His Forgiveness. But there is someone else’s forgiveness you don’t want to miss out on.

Your own self.

This Ramadan,

Forgive yourself.

Forgive yourself for everything you have done.

Forgive yourself for messing up again.

Forgive yourself for losing it despite promising yourself you won’t.

Forgive yourself for seeing it again, for saying it again, for listening to it again.

Forgive yourself not taking good care of yourself.

Forgive yourself for hating yourself.

Forgive yourself for every unkind gestures you have made to yourself.

Forgive yourself for every hateful, hurtful, atrocious incessant chatters of the mind.

Forgive yourself for every unkind, every self deprecating, every self loathing remarks you have said to yourself.

Forgive yourself for not being good enough for yourself.

Forgive yourself for falling short of your own standards.

Forgive yourself for falling short of Allah’s standards, for without the shadow of a doubt, He has (God willing, inshaAllah).

Forgive yourself, not because you are deserving of it, but because you can. Because you have the ability to. Because your virtues are greater than your vices.

Forgive yourself just enough to remind yourself  of what you are missing,

Forgive yourself so you can remind yourself that you are a simple, ordinary human being, created and meant to live in a world of extraordinary difficulties. Forgive yourself because You were created a human, so no one expects you to walk on this earth as an angel.

Forgive yourself, because even though you might have done terrible things, that does NOT in any way, shape or form mean you are a terrible person.

Forgive yourself because the Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him) said “By Him in whose hand is my soul, if you did not sin Allah would replace you with people who would sin and they would seek the forgiveness of Allah and He would forgive them.”(Source: Sahih Muslim 2749).

Forgive yourself.

Forgive yourself, so for the first time in your life, you can feel the warmth of your own love. The love which has sustained so many around you, brought sunshine in the darkest of days, radiated hopes and faith right in the middle of despair, let that love consume you. Let your love, your kindness, your compassion for no one but yourself fill every atom of your soul, because you cant expect to receive love if you are incapable of loving your own self first.

Forgive yourself, so you can love yourself, so you can heal yourself. Healing love is powerful, because that’s when you make discoveries, that’s when you bring changes, that’s when Allah opens doors, because that’s when you are ready to receive . Your heart  and soul are aligned and synced, they have moved past the past, ready to receive from His unlimited bounty.

Forgive yourself, and instead show mercy to yourself.

Forgive yourself. Take all that pain, all that agony, all those memories, and  turn them into possibilities. Turn them into strength, into unwavering faith and unfaltering hope. Turn them into courage, courage to get up one more time, and then once more, until the doors finally open.

Forgive yourself, because you matter, because your forgiveness matters. It matters to your heart, to your soul, to your entire being, to your ultimate existence as someone Allah has lovingly created with His own Hands.

Buy yourself that favorite outfit, treat yourself that favorite flavor of coffee, savor yourself that foot massage, make that decision, take that step, whatever you need to do to amend your relationship with yourself, do it. Begin Ramadan on a different note this year. Begin with compassion, with kindness, with gentleness, to no one but to yourself.

Yes you, the one who is in His eyes.

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Angry Birds

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I recently heard from a woman that she used to feed birds when she was going through a tough time, and Allah fulfilled her desires through her kindness to birds. As I reflected more on on her story and the above corresponding saying of our beloved Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him), I couldn’t help but wonder, how honorable it is to be part of this Tawaqqul (Reliance on Allah) journey of these birds?

Food is one of the, if not the ultimate, primitive needs of creations. Any creature is biologically created to need and want food, this is no news. But for birds, their whole lives rely on absolute Tawaqqul on Allah to provide them with food. Allah does not need you and me to feed those birds, that is not our responsibility, its His. But if we could voluntarily contribute to this “Tawaqqul-ful” journey of the birds by everyday feeding them some left overs from our kitchen, we might just have included ourselves among those who made their journey of Tawaqqul a bit easier. If everyday, we can set up a time when we will have their foods ready, we just made their “uncertain” life a tad bit “certain”. They know they can count on us to have their food ready on time. May be some angry bird will return home happily because its day went easy, especially on the days when the weather is harsh. Unlike us, they do not have the luxury to take a day off or snuggle up under the duvet till late on a Sunday morning.

In our lives when we are surmounted by predicaments of nothing but uncertainty, resorting to nothing but Tawaqqul to Allah, I cant help wonder that may be by feeding these birds, easing their journey of Tawaqqul a little bit, we might end up getting some ease and relief from Allah as well. After all its not easy to be in a journey of absolute Tawaqqul, and most definitely its nothing but an honor in my book if we can ease someone’s journey a little bit, even if that is s a bird. Perhaps that is why we still marvel at the story of how a prostitute was granted paradise just because she quenched a dog’s thirst. From a difficult worldly life, she was granted the best afterlife with absolute ease simply because she contributed to the “Tawaqqul-ful” journey of another creation.

Sounds a pretty good investment to me! Just a food for thought.

As usual, take any good you get and leave the rest to dust.

Also please remember me in your prayers that Allah fulfills all my requests. May He grant you the same and much more.

Of Pen And Muses: Story Of Duha Prayer

I was going over my gratitude journal for January…on January 20th out of frustration I prayed duha prayer with the intent that Allah grants me my dd job…I started a duha challenge with myself that daily I will read duha prayer (which is equivalent to doing charity, based on the sayings of Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings be upon him)… On 22nd and 23rd I got 3 interview calls, after trying since November…I also do daily istighfar, Baqarah and qiyam alhamdulillah…I have never had such interviews and yes they are not my dream job, but they definitely will make it easy for me to get that…

We don’tget a lot of stories of duha prayer so I thought I would write one…

It might sound crazy but I think its because I prayer duha, but ALSO because I wrote about this challenge to monitor changes. There is something about writing- goals, challenges, duas, affirmations, gratitude; changes in external affairs happen more significantly when we write. This is something that took me a long time to realise. And it makes sense because Allah has highlighted the power of pen by taking an oath with it. I always felt that no matter how “crappy” my gratitude journal entries are, as long as I wrote them, Allah would see my efforts to be grateful. But once I extended that “experiment” to writing other things like goals and etc, I realised there is something “more” in the “realm of the unseen” about the power of pen.

Disclaimer: The views presented in the post solely are my personal opinion from experience; it is NOT AT ALL any scholarly view. So take the good you get and leave the rest to collect dust.

If you benefitted from this post, albeit as insignificantly as having a good time, please make dua that Allah puts barakah in all my efforts and grants me all the doors I am asking to be opened, quickly and not delayed. I am at a time constraint here. You can just say ameen in your heart and that should suffice too, biidnillah, by the permission of Allah)

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. 

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!

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?