Great Expectations: Istighfar

(A/N:Istighfar=Asking for forgiveness from Allah)

When I started my daily Istighfar challenge in November with 2 other friends, Alhamdulillah I did see things happen in life. As usual they start with little miracles and progressively increase, of course by will of Allah. HOWEVER, as months passed, I felt that my Istighfars were not really working as well, in terms of manifestations, or at least as I would expect. I have heard stories of so many people having mountains moved in days or weeks just by doing Istighfar, so my expectations were similar to that level. So at the end of 3 months I actually sat down and reflected over the Istighfars that I was doing.

I realised that when I started doing Istighfar, I took it up as one of the many things I was already doing as a challenge, for eg Gratitude Journal ( G Journal), Tahajjud (Night Vigil Prayer) etc. If I can be honest with myself, my hidden mentality was ” I am already doing so many things,  might as well add Istighfar to it. Doesn’t harm to try it out.”  I was doing my Istighfars half-heartedly, and as a result I felt my life was also moving half-heartedly.

Now, ‘half- heartedly’ doesnt mean I wasn’t focussed. I was paying complete attention to my Istighfars as much as I could, I would think of the mistakes I would make throughout the day and ask forgiveness for those. “Asking for forgiveness” isn’t what I was making the mistake in. My mistake was in my “half-hearted intention”. I wasn’t putting the absolute intention, having absolute conviction, absolute expectations of things changing from my Istighfars. I was not putting as much care in my intentions as I was putting in the physical efforts of counting the beads to do Istighfars. It was more like a chore. I was doing it as one of the “many things” that help with answering of dua. In fact, I wasn’t really putting as much expectations from my Istighfars as I was perhaps putting from Baqarah or G Journal. (That’s what happens when we take too many things in our plate and then crash with them altogether, net final result being zilch. That’s why the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him said Allah loves deeds which are regular, albeit small.)

So my take away from all of this is that, for getting solid results from Istighfar, we need to be mindful of the intention behind doing them, and the results that we are expecting, along with being genuine in our repentance. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, because Allah Himself has “bribed” us with so many incentives to do Istighfars (you can read up here for details prescribed in the Quran as Istighfar benefits). If He didn’t want us to have them, why would He promise?

img_1271

I personally felt that we need to realise that sometimes years of  delay wash away our motivation and strength to “get up one more time and try this one more time, when all else has failed”, and that’s why we often miss the results. Its incredibly easier said than done, I know! But that’s also why I usually try to give myself shorter deadlines. For eg, set a certain number of days to focus on Istighfar, and then write down all the changes that happen. (Writing is always more powerful that keeping tabs in mind, the latter is what most of us do unfortunately, including myself.) That helps establish the faith in extending that challenge to more number of days ( I have done that with G Journal, Baqarah and currently on Istighfar).

Read the verse above. Allah will not change out condition until WE change whats inside of us. So not only is the pre-requisite for external change is a shift in our inner mindset, but also that inner change has to be brought about by us. YOU need to change your insides for Allah to change whats on your outside. Its simple but not always easy, and thats why we take baby steps. Allah appreciates those baby steps and rewards us, giving us the strength and courage to take the bigger, “adult” steps. You become happy, give Him thanks, and He gives you more.

And the cycle continues.

A/N: Nothing mentioned here are a scholarly opinion and are intended to be taken only as reflections to strengthen faith. As always, take any good you get and leave the rest to collect dust❤️

And please do remember me in your duas, that Allah opens my doors that I am asking Him to open. Thank you for reading ❤️❤️

Hit the “follow” button so to make sure you never miss a post. You will get an email everytime there is a new post 🙂

Advertisements

It Never Happened: Ordinary Miracles

img_0770-3

I felt horrible about it as soon as I got off the phone, because I realised what had I done. I should have been careful, I should have double checked my work before submitting. I cant possibly afford to make another hefty mistake after coming this far. Why is it so hard ? Why do I always have to check my work? Why am I not allowed any mercy for any humanly mistake I make? It was one of those overwhelming moments, one where you are suddenly infused with uncontrollable grief, pain and sadness. Emotions bottled up, frustrations pent up- all came out at once as I stifled my sobs behind closed doors, bracing myself for yet another sleepless night.

I tried to pray, but nothing came out. Tried to have a little compassionate pep talk with myself, sending the frightened child inside me some love and companionship, convincing it yet again that Allah and us are a team, and that we are going to be okay. I just have to bite my teeth and let this pain pass through this moment, and because this pain is excruciating, the guilt is overwhelming, I am allowed to do whatever I want to make this as easy as it could get. I tossed away my notebooks and everything that I was working on. It all seemed futile now. I asked a friend to pray for me though!

After a few minutes, I mastered the strength to pick up my Quran to finish my daily Baqarah. (Read here for my daily Baqarah challenge).  I really could do nothing right now. Nothing and noone could help me. I remembered a conversation I had earlier in the day about healing from the Quran, and started reading the Baqarah as if my last lifeline depended on it. After 4-5 minutes of reading, I started to feel the emotions subside. I cant explain or pinpoint the feeling, I guess its one akin to the Ecstasy drug they take to feel so. But neverthless atleast the pain wasn’t as much, which is still something. I even walked out of my room and faked a smile as I passed through the lounge, noone could tell anything. So the calmness was working.

Something in me spoke up. I realised that I made mistake yes, but I coulnd’t let myself wallow in self pity because there is nothing I could do. I had to do whatever I could, and if that means just plain Istighfar (i.e ask for forgiveness from Allah), then so be it. Since when did Allah need my efforts to fix up messes that I create? After all  He created me a human, so by nature I am supposed to make mistakes. He is the One who is perfect, so He is supposed to fix what I goof up. (This is something I learnt previously, here ),

So I freshened up from my disheavelled state, and sat down on my bed with my tally counter, to ask for forgiveness to Allah and for Him to rectify the issue. I was no longer feeling the tightness in the chest. I felt numb, which was much better than the pain of reprimanding myself for messing up such an important project I have been working on so diligently.

img_1274

Just as I sat down ( I just made the intention, hadn’t started istighfar yet), my phone vibrated with an incoming phone call. The client called and said the meeting is still in place tomorrow. By the end of the conversation I realised that the client HAD NO IDEA of the mistake I had made, because NO MISTAKE was made at all. SubhanALLAH! Allah manoeuvred and orchestrated everything within an hour such that He literally hit the UNDO button, no mistake was actually made at all. I have no idea how it happened, because my sent messages clearly show that I did. It is unexplainable and doesn’t make sense. I don’t know if it is because of the loving pep talk I had with myself about self compassion (afterall Allah says to be kind with His creations), the Baqarah reciting with tears streaming down my eyes,  the intent to do istighfar as the last resort (based on the saying of the Messenger, may peace and blessings be upon him, that actions are but by their intentions), the dua made by others (which is guaranteed to be answered), or perhaps none (perhaps it was Allah’s love and mercy which is not conditioned on us doing anything to be eligible for). I do not know. But at a time when everyday is an uphill battle, putting one foot in front of the other, these little things (at that overwhelming moment it was not little at all. That was all I could think of that moment) get us going. They make us realise that Allah is always speaking to us, sending messages and signs, causing coincidences and serendipities, reminding us to stop, to look around, to believe in something else, something more. Little miracles like this want us to believe that somewhere out there, there is still magic! If you cant find it, it will come find you.

fb_img_1487012024664

Please remember me in your prayers that Allah opens the doors I am asking Him to open. Thanks

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.