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.

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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. 

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?

The Express Shipping News: Al Muqaddim (The Expeditor)

When we try so hard to have our prayers answered, wake up in the middle of the night, fast for days, spend hours in prostration to Allah, watch out for rain, perform charities- we often think of “what else” to do.


Helping out someone in need is a great way to have your doors opens, those doors you have been incessantly knocking for so long. Anything, infinitesimally small, as mundane as helping a heavily pregnant woman lift up a jar of water to doing the dishes at home when its not your turn, setting up the plate for your parents with food or simply take out the slippers for them from the closet when they are heading out, all are pleasing to Allah. You never know who is going to make a secret dua for you behind your back, or whose relief would be so pleasing to Allah that He will express deliver your duas to you. Especially lifting off a hardship for someone- helping an elderly cross the road or give up your seats for them, allow someone in need to stand in the queue in front of you even though its your turn- sincere, genuine kindness is always pleasing to Allah. Afterall that is His attribute, for He is Al Rauf (The Kind One).



When we say Allah is Al Muqaddim (The Expediter), it does NOT mean Allah can open your doors or answer your prayers quickly, for we already know that when we call him by the name Al Qadeer (The All Able). Al Muqaddim means Allah DOES expedite.He does ship your requests with express delivery.


Let me say it again- Allah not only CAN expedite, in fact, He DOES expedite. Al Muqaddim is the One who DOES expedite your prayers, because He can, because He is Al Qadeer. Its one thing for someone to be able to do something, but its another thing for them to actually do it. That is why the Prophet (peace be upon him) once prayed for the rain, and said “quickly, and not delayed”. (Ref Dua: Weapon of a believer by Sh Yasir Qadhi)

Where’s The Party Tonight? 

When I started my gratitude journey about six months back, for me it primarily meant to journal the good things that happened that day, and to observe the increases as I kept being grateful. The months that followed brought about a lot of goodness in my life, both in terms of state of mind as well as in physical manifestation of blessings. All of these are nothing but promise of Allah. Alhamdulillah.


The last few months also have had some excruciatingly challenging times, times when I got knock punched at the pit of my stomach,times when doubted, stood at the verge of breaking down and giving up, and so on. But if there is one thing I have learnt was yes, I had to cling onto my journals like a lifeline, yes I had to thank Allah in my prayers for the good things He showered, but what I also realised was that I had to celebrate with Allah.

Yes celebrate! Allah gives us joy so we can be grateful. However, genuine, true gratitude goes above and beyond ritualistic confinements of worship prayer, fasting, charities etc. Of course you do them, but the underlying attitude TO ALLAH is what sometimes we miss out. How many times have you taken one extra slice of that mud cake, poured one extra scoop of icecreme, or binge ate till your stomach bloated, just because you wanted to show Allah how happy you are? Sure we all do these perhaps to show some self love, I am no exception either. But when doing them out of love for Allah, to spoil yourself to show Allah how happy you are, to know that Allah is watching you being so glee with joy, crashing at your couch and not open your eyes till its noon the next day because you feel so good, how happy is Allah feeling to see His favorite slave so happy YET remembering to include Him in the party? He loves you more than your mother, so if mother would have tears in her eyes just to see you so drunk with happiness, imagine how Allah must feel, when He knows EXACTLY the type of feeling you are getting? He created those feelings of glee inside of you, He is the only One who knows how amazing those happy feelings are, other might understand but only Allah knows the degree. SubhanAllah.

So next time you do a self love party, include Allah as your friend. Ask Him which flavor of icecreme, if the mocha would be fat or non fat, or if you should finally get that Chanel you have been thinking of for a long time, and if what you are wearing is making you look 10lbs more or less. Ask Him, Celebrate with Him, Include Him, Remember Him. Because He said: