Taking Advice From the Past To Save the Future

You know those Sci-Fi films where the protagonist receives an unexpected visit from their future self, heralding grave news of a disastrously sticky end if they don’t do an incredibly important task, that can conveniently be achieved within the 75 minute remainder of the movie?

The kind of scenario that always throws up the problem: “Well, if they complete the mission, then that version of the future will no longer exist. Therefore the character won’t be able to return to the past to warn themselves about avoiding said disaster. But without such a warning, the bad things will happen anyway. Ah, but then if they… no, that won’t work… unless they manipulate the space-time continuum…? Yes! No. Wait… using the graviton emissions of a nearby worm hole…. perhaps… Multiverse theory would allow… would allow… wo- Oh look: time for Hollyoaks!”.

Anyway, I experienced something like that this evening, at a sisters-circle I attended – but in reverse.

The topic was: “Remembrance of Allah: What does it really mean?”.

We covered the basics of how remembrance is more than just the dhikr you recite on the prayer mat, after salat. It’s in your words, your actions, and the thoughts you have in between. It’s in the everyday, mundane activities that all human beings must engage in to survive, or at least, to have what they consider to be a ‘normal’ life.

I remained surprisingly quiet for the first half of the gathering. Normally, that is something I consciously aim for – or should I say, fight for. My nafs is always screaming to be the centre of attention. However, my usual urge to loudly express my opinions over that of others, was largely absent. I almost felt a little disconnected from my surroundings; I had to give myself a mental slap every now and then, in order to wake up and give proper attention to the discussion at hand.

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Then, we arrived on the issue of time wasting. The sister next to me – a friend who I’ve known for a while now – began to share an anecdote:

“I don’t want to embarrass anyone here by mentioning some good advice I heard a few years back, at the circles we used to have at Oxford House. A sister there mentioned how much time we waste in activities we don’t consider to be harmful. For example, flicking between TV channels, trying to find something to watch. How much time do we spend on that? If we thought about it before hand, i.e., ‘Will this bring me closer to Jannah, and further me from An-Nar’, would we do it at all?”

She then turned around and looked at me.

“What? Are you talking about me? Did I say that?”, I asked, confusedly.

She responded in the affirmative.

I was amazed. Amazed that, one: I still can’t remember saying anything of the sort (though I can definitely imagine ‘past me’ doing so); and two: that the advice stuck with my friend so well, that it actually altered her actions to a degree, and she can quote me several years later.

However, what scares me more than my memory fail, is the fact that ‘present me’ doesn’t speak like that much, any more. I still believe in the same realities, but my beliefs are a lot more internal; almost muted. When I hear other people using that kind of language, it doesn’t seem as natural as it once did. Like, I would have to flip a switch inside my mind to think like that again.

I consider that to be a bad sign. A sign of my deteriorating spiritual health.

The good news is that change is within my grasp, insha’Allah. I can be rebuilt; I have the technology. And best of all, it won’t cost me six million rupees. [Note: this hilarious sketch briefly features a non-hijabi (from 1:18-2:02, to be exact)]

Attending circles, such as the one above, are a start. They’re a low pressure way of easing yourself back into the habit of remembering Allah openly, without fear of embarrassment. I am really happy to have been invited to spend time with this new group of people. I pray that their company is of the beneficial kind – even if it’s only for two hours, every fortnight.

Further, I pray that I am now treading the path to a better me. A wiser, more spiritual me.

The ‘future me’.

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15 responses to “Taking Advice From the Past To Save the Future”

  1. ummm says:

    sounds like a personal rant…

    • Abd- Allah says:

      well there is nothing wrong with personal rants as long as there is nothing wrong with its content. if you don’t like “rants” then simply don’t read it. however, if you have an objection on the content then by all means do share, and provide your arguments too.

    • iMuslim says:

      Hmm, I didn’t intend it to be a rant. I am surprised that anyone read any kind of ‘rantish’ emotion into my words. It was more a reflective piece on where I’ve been, where I am, and where I hope to be, insha’Allah. :)

  2. Amy says:

    Salaam!

    Cool post: I feel like that a lot myself. I can’t remember saying things and people remind me and I think, wow, I really had it together then. And that kind of motivates me to go one level up.

  3. Truly a post I can resonate with!
    I feel like I’ve been going through the same thing; that my thoughts and opinions are not as loud and outspoken as they used to be, and that I can bring myself to speak (or rather, write) about something if it happens to be something I care about a great deal, and have taken the time to think about.

    There are times when I look back and wonder what happened to me, to those days when I would feel incredibly zealous and impassioned about certain things… and when I look at myself now, I honestly feel as though I’m slipping in various ways.

    But perhaps we’re not actually slipping… perhaps this is just another step in our evolution as individuals, and we simply need to learn to harness this new ‘sense of quiet’ more effectively :)

    May Allah help us all to improve our characters, perfect our manners, and strengthen our emaan, ameen!

    • sister says:

      Ameen.
      Yes, maybe it’s the finding of wisdom? Silent wisdom…reflective wisdom.
      There’s a good quote: “Wisdom is the refinding of innocence”
      Or maybe it’s desensitization and shaytan drawing us into the dunya more.
      Allahu a’lam

  4. Anisa says:

    barakAllahu feeki

  5. Sadaf says:

    Well, the more personalized a “rant”, the more I read it with interest. I love personal accounts.

    This post is a great reminder for all of us, to examine our current/present selves and compare them with our past ones, to see whether we have withered in our faith and sincerity of actions, or not. This examination should, in fact, be a constant part of our lives.

    Jazakillahu Khairan for this post! And, yeah, I also mentally slap myself often. :)

  6. dijma says:

    I had a similar experience. A brother who wasn’t much into his religion slowly with time began to practice more and more. After over a decade he was making a speech and mentioned how some words I had mentioned had an enormous impact on him and made him think. I am quoted to have said, “Its not who you are, but its what you do that makes you”. I do remember saying those words at a cricket match! Just goes to show, speak good and you never know how far a few words will go.

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