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Life Amidst Roses and Thorns

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Recently, I started writing a blog post that I really felt strongly about. I just had to write down all the thoughts and feelings going haywire inside me. It wasn’t very pleasant because there was pain involved… the kind of burning, deep-cutting pain that results when you trust someone completely and they break your trust, knowingly or unknowingly. It made me wonder and question myself why we care for people in the first place when there’s this risk of intense pain of betrayal?

I tried to write down what I felt was the right train of thought. I wrote a couple of paragraphs but it just didn’t make sense. Even if it sounded fine in words, I wasn’t satisfied with what was before me. And that meant I did not really understand or agree with what I was writing. How could something so hurtful be so easily overlooked every time I placed my trust in someone? Was I not ready to learn from past experiences? Why did my heart not “sit still” instead of placing itself at great risk time and again?

I turned off my laptop in irritation and simmering despair. The sadness lingered on. I then did what I usually do when I need to think things out in peace and really pour my heart out to Allah(swt) – I went out on to the balcony of our apartment. It’s dark there, with a few potted plants along the low wall and there’s a clear view of the bridge that’s next to our building. Watching the traffic go by but not really seeing it, with the dark velvety expanse of the sky overheard, dotted with stars… this is where I feel free to share all my worries, hopes and fears (tears included!) with my Rabb. And, SubhanAllah, He’s always there for me.

All the sadness that was within came pouring out, sometimes in unspoken words, sometimes in tears. I write this now not to make this sound all dramatic but to share with you how calming it is to rant and cry in front of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) rather than seeking sympathy from other people, who can barely lend an ear and little more. When the initial flood of emotions has come to pass, question after question is thrown out into the darkness… something might just make sense! And it does. It’s a miracle, sometimes, the answer’s right there, staring me in the face! It’s as if all the tears were hiding it from view and now it’s crystal clear.

Sometimes, the answer isn’t so readily available. What do I do then? I make dua. Lots and lots of dua’s. Whatever words come to mind, all the possible ways I can find to make my case before Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and to leave it to Him to bring the final decision…like an extended and personalized Istikharah dua. When I feel I have nothing more to say, it’s time to head back inside and wait, as long as it takes, for Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to unwind the tangle I am in.

So there, that’s how I left my confusion to Allah (swt). What is a person to do? Keep hope and forever be at risk of being hurt? Or should you just give up, kill your feelings and try to go through life without expecting too much of anyone? Or should you just put your *whole* faith in Allah (swt)? The last question had an obvious answer: Yes, that’s what it should be but it’s not easy! At least I was being honest – the rest of me was all confused.

So how does this story end? Alhamdu washhukru lillah (All praise and thanks be to Allah!), all my queries were answered before I lay down to sleep that night. It was unbelievable! I had imagined I’d be carrying that ache of uncertainty well into the days ahead but it vanished completely, leaving me satisfied beyond measure. Only Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) knows how best to answer His slaves’ dua’s and to instill the truth into the depths of their hearts!

Without going into the details of exactly how Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) answered my dua, here’s what I learned…

Why do we care for people when there’s the risk of losing them or being hurt at their hands? It’s not the ignorance of pain that makes us continue to care but it’s the joy, beauty and the immense power of hope that comes from caring that we just cannot resist! The fear of betrayal is no match for the satisfaction and pleasure of solid, lasting relationships…and when you have so much to gain, you forget the risk that you might have something to lose.

If we didn’t love so sincerely and so wholly, we’d never be happy or be able to make others happy. When you do something good for someone and it makes their life that little bit better than it was before, you don’t realize it but your own life – my own life – becomes more enjoyable. If I were to hold myself back for fear of being pricked by thorns, I’d never be able to feel the velvety and delightful texture of roses.

If you’re lucky, you don’t just get roses in return… you get a whole bouquet of amazing colors and fragrances that make you wonder if a scene from heaven flashed, for the tiniest moment, in your life? It’s different for every person but that’s how exhilarating real hope and happiness is, when shared with people you care for. That’s how Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) made us and that’s what keeps us going, even though bitterness and heartbreak is also a part of life.

These moments renew my faith in Allah (swt)! Why should I not put all my queries and worries to Him when He is the One who answers in the most beautiful manner, with much more than I could ever desire? He has full authority over all that is in the Heavens and the Earth and my childish desires and dreams seek their fulfillment only with Him. I pray that we all recognize our Rabb, really recognize Him as As-Samee, Al Baseer… the Always All-Hearing, the Always All-Seeing! Truly that is the source and pinnacle of all joys imaginable.

“The dua of a Muslim for his brother (in Islam) in his absence is readily accepted, an angel is appointed to his side, whenever he makes a beneficial dua for his brother, the appointed angel says ‘Ameen and may you also be blessed with the same.'”

(Sahih Muslim)

Ameera is a final-year medical student and blogger based in Karachi, Pakistan. Having been born and raised in Tabuk, Saudi Arabia, her approach towards her Deen has always been rooted in a basic understanding from authentic sources, which was further polished during a three-year weekend course at Al Huda Institute. Her interests, though, seem to know no bounds and range from a passion for the culinary arts and travelling, as well as following current affairs and global happenings. She feels being able to be part of MuslimMatters is one of the major blessings of Allah(swt) upon her, for it has given her a chance to learn and grow. She also maintains her personal blog at http://duskanddawn.wordpress.com.

32 Comments

32 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Shuaib Mansoori

    April 24, 2010 at 5:44 AM

    Assalamu Alaikum,

    Very profound…brought an ayah to mind, in which Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala defends the Prophet SalAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam by stating to those who wished to harm him: ALAYSALLAHU BI KAAFIN ABDA? Surah Zumar Verse 36:

    Is not Allah sufficient for His Servant? And [yet], they threaten you with those [they worship] other than Him. And whoever Allah leaves astray – for him there is no guide.

    And then He goes further and says in Verse 37:

    And whoever Allah guides – for him there is no misleader. Is not Allah Exalted in Might and Owner of Retribution?

    JazakiAllah Khairan for the sincere reflection. I ask Allah to make us from those who always turn to Him in every situation and may He protect us from the Sharr of people.

    • Avatar

      Loga

      April 24, 2010 at 10:21 PM

      asSalaam alaykum,

      I was also reminded of this long yet amazing hadith:

      “Allah ‘s Apostle said, “Allah has some angels who look for those who celebrate the Praises of Allah on the roads and paths. And when they find some people celebrating the Praises of Allah, they call each other, saying, “Come to the object of your pursuit.’ ” He added, “Then the angels encircle them with their wings up to the sky of the world.” He added. “(after those people celebrated the Praises of Allah, and the angels go back), their Lord, asks them (those angels) – though He knows better than them – ‘what do my slaves say?’ The angels reply, ‘They say: Subhan Allah, Allahu Akbar, and Alham-du-lillah, Allah then says ‘Did they see Me?’ The angels reply, ‘No! By Allah, they didn’t see You.’

      “Allah says, How it would have been if they saw Me?’ The angels reply, ‘If they saw You, they would worship You more devoutly and celebrate Your Glory more deeply, and declare Your freedom from any resemblance to anything more often.’ Allah says (to the angels), ‘What do they ask Me for?’ The angels reply, ‘They ask You for Paradise.’ Allah says (to the angels), ‘Did they see it?’ The angels say, ‘No! By Allah, O Lord! They did not see it.’ Allah says, How it would have been if they saw it?’ The angels say, ‘If they saw it, they would have greater covetousness for it and would seek It with greater zeal and would have greater desire for it.’ Allah says, ‘From what do they seek refuge?’ The angels reply, ‘They seek refuge from the (Hell) Fire.’ Allah says, ‘Did they see it?’ The angels say, ‘No By Allah, O Lord! They did not see it.’ Allah says, How it would have been if they saw it?’ The angels say, ‘If they saw it they would flee from it with the extreme fleeing and would have extreme fear from it.’ Then Allah says, ‘I make you witnesses that I have forgiven them.”‘ Allah’s Apostle added, “One of the angels would say, ‘There was so-and-so amongst them, and he was not one of them, but he had just come for some need.’ Allah would say, ‘These are those people whose companions will not be reduced to misery.’ ”

      (recorded in Bukhari and Muslim)

      • Avatar

        Ameera

        April 26, 2010 at 11:47 PM

        Jazaakillah for quoting this beautiful Hadith here! :D

      • Avatar

        mystrugglewithin

        May 29, 2010 at 10:03 PM

        @Ameera

        I was desperately looking for some encouragement, and subhanallah.. there’s nothing better in life than tears of love for Allah SWT and our deen, jazakallah khayrun for the words.. may Allah help you through everything.

        @Loga

        Subhanallah, I never knew of this hadeeth and going through it .. I feel like I just discovered the incomparable beauty of our faith. For now, I really need to contemplate.. I think I’ll go out to some coffee place, jazakallah khayrun : )

  2. Avatar

    elham

    April 24, 2010 at 8:38 AM

    As-salamu alaikum,

    Subhanallah!!! This post comes right when I was going through the same feelings you just expressed.
    I understand everything you said and resonates with the same thoughts that were going through my head even just now!

    I just don’t understand why people do this? I always expect that others would do the same as you do to them? At the least hayaa should be stopping them?

    I still don’t know what to do regarding this person who was supposed to be a trustworthy ”friend.” I thought forgiveness is best as Allah says He loves those who forgive, yet its difficult as some thoughts come to mind like ”how could they do this?” Then I thought I would confront them, but knowing they can be argumentative and rude, I let it be.Wallahi it affects your attitude badly that you just don’t want to have anything to do with anybody.

    I felt perhaps it was a form of punishment to purify my sins or to come closer to Allah which was by the way affected this person in terms of laziness in prayer and general ‘ibadah. La Hawl wala quwata illa Billah.

    This issue you mentioned in the article is the reason why there are less people to trust because most think of their masalih or what they could benefit from a friendship/relationship instead of having it for mutual benefit and knowing each others rights as Muslims, fearing Allah with regards to them. It has happened to me with different people.

    What duas do you make exactly? lol I would say only ”Allah protect me from the evil of my hands and the people’s/donot leave me to my affairs even for a blink of an eye” because sometimes I can get myself into these situations when not picking the right friend.

    Jazakillahu Khairan ukhti for your well-written and beneficial article, May Allah guide us to what He loves best

    • Avatar

      Bob

      April 24, 2010 at 10:08 AM

      Ditto.

      It’s amazing I’m reading this right about the time I’m coming out from my own hurt.

      • Avatar

        Dominique Stephen

        March 7, 2012 at 4:24 PM

        Allah knows best – His timing is always right :) Alhamdulillah :)

  3. Pingback: Not Just A Coincidence « A Journal Of Life

  4. Adnan

    Adnan

    April 24, 2010 at 9:52 AM

    Barakallahufeek for sharing your thoughts. I think you’re reaction to turn completely to Allah is the only one that will really give you comfort when going through any difficulties in life; whether it be a friend selling you out, or breaking your trust.

    One thing I’ve learned is that people at some point or another will always disappoint you; your friends, family, wife, husband, children will all let you down at some point or another. Even you will disappoint yourself; this is the dunya and we as human beings are fallible creatures in this dunya, so this will happen for sure.

    But Allah never lets you down. There are several names of Allah that we should all keep in mind in these situations.

    Al Wakeel & Al Kafeel – The One who we put our full trust in for all of our affairs

    Al Kaafee – He is Sufficient/Enough for us. We don’t need anything or anyone else.

    Al Qareeb – He is the One that is close to us.

    Al Wali & Al Mawla – He is our Protector and Guardian.

    An Naasir & An Naseer – He is the One that can help us.

    Al Musta’aan – He is the One who can provide aid, assistance and relief in any matter.

    And remember the saying of the sahaba… Alhamdulillah A’la Kulli Haal “All Praise is due to Allah in every situation/circumstance.”

    • Avatar

      Ameera

      April 27, 2010 at 12:42 AM

      JazaakAllah for your inspiring comment! :) And the quotation from the Sahaba at the end of your comment is something we need to be reminded of constantly, JazaakAllah!

      What you said…

      One thing I’ve learned is that people at some point or another will always disappoint you; your friends, family, wife, husband, children will all let you down at some point or another. Even you will disappoint yourself; this is the dunya and we as human beings are fallible creatures in this dunya, so this will happen for sure.

      … I agree with you exactly! I think the problem arises when we start thinking of people as perfect beings who can never err. We start having ridiclously high expectations from them and when they fall short of those expectations, guess who’s disappointed? That’s one reason why I now try to keep reminding myself how we’re all imperfect human beings and that, if there’s one characteristic I don’t like in someone, there are many others I do like too! Keeping that in mind, and my own flaws and shortcomings, it’s easier to interact with people and to forgive them if they ever do something wrong.

      • Adnan

        Adnan

        April 27, 2010 at 7:26 AM

        Barakallahufeek. That’s a very good approach to take when dealing with others. It reminds me of a saying of Confucius: “When we see men of a contrary character, we should turn inwards and examine ourselves.” Very wise advice. Keep up the writing.

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  6. Avatar

    Sally

    April 24, 2010 at 2:28 PM

    I’m sorry that you went through that yet.. aren’t those moments the essence of life? It sucks to be betrayed.. especially by a friend or someone close. But it makes you wiser and sharpens your instinct. A believer doesn’t get bit from the same hole twice.

    The human experience is worthless without Allah. Making our relationship with Allah the center and backdrop of everyday is the best way to find balance and perspective during the journey. May Allah make it easy on you and us.

    • Avatar

      Ameera

      April 27, 2010 at 12:48 AM

      Jazaakillah for your care, Sally! Alhumdolillah, I didn’t have to go through much… it was more of a misunderstanding on my part that soon cleared up…but it did teach me a lot about expectations and forgiving people for erring. :) Besides, joy after pain… it’s somehow sweeter!

    • Avatar

      Dominique Stephen

      March 7, 2012 at 4:27 PM

      insha-Allah, Ameen, Sallly … shukran :)

  7. Amad

    Amad

    April 24, 2010 at 2:28 PM

    This is a beautiful post Dr. Ameera… keep it up!

  8. Avatar

    ahmed

    April 24, 2010 at 3:27 PM

    Ibn taymiyah once :
    What can my enemies do to me?
    I have in my breast both my Heaven and my garden.
    If I travel they are with me, and they never leave me.
    Imprisonment for me is a religious retreat [khalwa].
    To be slain for me is martyrdom [shahâda]
    and to be exiled from my land is a spiritual journey [siyaha].

  9. Avatar

    Sadaf Farooqi

    April 24, 2010 at 11:15 PM

    Very touching article, Ameera. :) Baarak Allahu feeki.
    I wish I had such a balcony. Hehehe!

    • Avatar

      Ameera

      April 27, 2010 at 12:33 AM

      Jazakillah Sadaf baji! :D

      I’ve put up a (grainy) picture of the view from my balcony on my Twitter (twitter.com/ameera_k) for you… http://twitpic.com/1infba

      • Avatar

        Sadaf Farooqi

        April 29, 2010 at 12:07 AM

        Ah, the bridge in Clifton! Such familiar territory. Nice. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Avatar

    Abdus-Sabur

    April 25, 2010 at 5:21 AM

    Not only an inspiring post, but the ripple effect of the responses. Equally inspiring. May it’s effects continue on into the akhira. :)

  11. Avatar

    Ovais

    April 25, 2010 at 7:09 AM

    Just last week I had a similar experience as you did. For the first 24 hours I was in a state of shock. Not only were the words and attitude of my friend reverberating in my head but I was not able to give my self any reason to be consoled.
    Its been a week now and time has served to be a great healer. I usually turn to Allah for all matters of my life and had been contemplating of what went wrong and what could have been done to heal the matter or what net learning I could draw from the whole incident.
    Its a matter of coincidence or more likely a guidance from Allah that I came across this website that I have never visited through a source that I had never imagined and at a time when this topic would have been of most importance to me. Thanks to the writer and all the people who have posted their comments. It has really helped me justify a lot of the unexplained and bring peace to my heart.

    Events are difficult to connect to when you are going through them. But through time you get to see how these sour events shape your thoughts to make other things more meaningful in life and probably make you a better person in the future. Allah has his own ways of testing us through good and bad and He has a special way of lifting us up when we are down and fallen. Only that we should never lose hope and faith in Him to guide us.

    Regards,
    Ovais, Khi.

    • Avatar

      Ameera

      April 27, 2010 at 12:29 AM

      JazaakAllah Ovais! Your comment was like much the same way I’d comment on a blog post like this one if I ever came across it. It happens so many times that you’re looking for a specific kind of answer, to deal with a certain kind of pain… and you find! Alhumdolillah! It is certainly no coincidence! :)

      Events are difficult to connect to when you are going through them. But through time you get to see how these sour events shape your thoughts to make other things more meaningful in life and probably make you a better person in the future. Allah has his own ways of testing us through good and bad and He has a special way of lifting us up when we are down and fallen. Only that we should never lose hope and faith in Him to guide us.

      This is exactly what I keep reminding myself and was thinking of when I wrote my piece above. My own experience was pretty hurtful for a while, untill it got better but that duration of time were bleak, I realize later on it was actually good for me. You learn a lot through life’s ups and downs.

      Br Nouman Ali Khan, a student of knowledge and founder of the awesome Bayyinah Institute (Maashaa’Allah) recently said in one of his podcasts something along the lines that… if we didn’t see difficulties in life, how would we ever learn to do Sabr? If we only saw good in life, we wouldn’t know what Sabr was.

      I hope that Allah(swt) will ease your situation too and continue to guide us! Ameen.

  12. Avatar

    Nour

    April 25, 2010 at 8:19 AM

    Assaliam Aleikum
    Wonderful post. Everyone I think had passed this kind of trial, yet alhamdulillah whenever I am hurt I just remember Allah, my God, Who is always with me, and I know that He understand me the most and He will never disappoint me and always will love me, inshaAllah. And Alhamdulillah the Love of Allah is enough. And when Allah love you, you feel this love true different ways. Most of the time when some close to you hurt you this means that you made a mistake concerning your God, in another words, Allah is angry to you. For this reason always analyze your deeds and first surch the mistake in you. Allah to guide all of us and always to Love us!

    • Avatar

      Ameera

      April 27, 2010 at 12:22 AM

      …and I know that He understand me the most and He will never disappoint me and always will love me, inshaAllah.

      *SIGH* That’s what I love most… whenever I feel lonely or sad, I find so much comfort in the thought that, even if the whole world betrayed me or turned against me, I would still have the Love of Allah(Swt) as He created me! It’s so comforting that most of the sadness kind of evaporates. Of course there is lingering hurt, we’re human after all, but putting things in perspective eases it.

  13. Avatar

    sister

    April 25, 2010 at 10:58 AM

    Assalamualykum,

    Jazakillahu khairaa for sharing.Mashaallah.This is one of my favorite ayah

    وَالَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ أَشَدُّ حُبًّا لِلَّهِ [ But those who believe, love Allah more (than anything else)]surah 2 ayah 165.

    May Allah include all of us among the people who love Allah more.

    To recover from a hurt caused by someone you love-

    Imraan-(159. And by the mercy of Allah, you dealt with them gently. And had you been severe and harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you; so pardon them, and ask forgiveness for them; and consult them in the affairs. Then when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah, certainly, Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him).)

    salaam.

  14. Avatar

    Usman

    April 26, 2010 at 3:41 AM

    ASA,

    Nice post, personally I have been looking to settle down for over 7 years but each time I think i have come close it all goes wrong. Reflecting on the kind of person I am, I am straight forward, do not hide anything yet this is the same quality which seems to break thigns up for me.

    I have turned to allah several times and think things are improving but the situation i have been put is from allah, I have no idea why i am being tested so much but it is now beginging to affect my faith.

    Everyone keeps saying have sabar/faith but it is easy for them to say when everything they do/ask for comes true.

    All I have wanted for as long as I can remember is to get married to a muslim, be in love and have a family – but this is the one thing which is escaping me.

    Before i was too young, not established enough and now the excuses are I am too old, too independent, set in my ways. so does that mean my window of opportunity has gone?

    I have been told numerous times that allah only tests you to your limits.. But my limits have been crossed and if i am honest my faith is now very weak and I really dont care about being with a muslim anymore as i find them the most hypocritical, two faced, judgemental, narrow minded people out there.

    • Avatar

      elham

      April 26, 2010 at 2:25 PM

      ASA,
      I couldn’t ignore your post and not comment as I sort of understand what you said. The last bit of your post was what I used to especially. I went through this phase of not knowing why i have decreased and moved further away from the higher spiritual state I was in and the closeness that I had with Allah(swt).

      I would start saying why would this or that happen to me, and this impatience was due to the decrease in Iman. Before, that, I could take anything, any pain and just smile. I had Allah in my mind and knew it was He who gave me this and that most importantly He was on my side no matter what. It was so peaceful.I would see it as an opportunity to get closer to Him.

      Sabr is easy with eman, but with no eman its difficult, thats what I learned.

      On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), who said that the Prophet (PBUH) said: Allah the Almighty said:

      I am as My servant thinks I am. I am with him when he makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assemble better than it. And if he draws near to Me an arm’s length, I draw near to him a fathom’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.
      al-Buhkari (also by Muslim, at-Tirmidhi and Ibn-Majah).

      Think good of Him and that He CAN give you what you want without a doubt, but is it good for you?
      It could be that from His Mercy he stops that which we want to reach us from reaching us.

      A wife and kids could distract you from Him or the good deeds that you performed or from gaining knowledge. You never know.

      {Indeed among your wives and your children are enemies} (At-Taghaabun 64:14)
      Ibn Kathir said: “Allah states that some wives and children are enemies to their husbands and fathers, in that they might be busied with them, rather than with performing the good deeds.”

      It was narrated from Simak bin Harb, from `Ikrimah, that Ibn `Abbas was asked about this ayah
      (Indeed among your wives and your children are enemies) (At-Taghaabun 64:14)

      And he said: “There were men who embraced Islam in Makkah and wanted to emigrate to Allah’s Messenger (sall Allahu `alaihi wa sallam). However, their wives and children reused to allow them. Later when they joined Allah’s Messenger (sall Allahu `alaihi wa sallam), they found that those who were with him have gained knowledge in the religion, so they were about to punish their wives and children. So Allah revealed….” And he mentioned the ayah.

      Sorry for this long post, but hope it helps a little. Just stay strong and make yourself busy so that you donot keep thinking about the dua…sometimes they are answered when we least expect at the perfect of timings by His Wisdom. May Allah guide us to what He loves Best.

    • Avatar

      Middle Ground

      April 26, 2010 at 2:52 PM

      Salam Usman

      Don’t depair bro. I am actually acting as the wali of a sister right now, and it sounds like she might be right for you. If interested, contact me at **. This is not spam, I just want to help my muslim brother. Moderators, forgive me if this is unsuitable and delete it.

      -Edited. We’ll send your email to him i/a

  15. Avatar

    Ameera

    April 26, 2010 at 8:51 AM

    Jazaakillah everyone for your inspiring and heart-warming comments! I had no idea my scribblings, which I strung together for a blog post here, would strike a chord with so many other people, especially those who were looking for such advice. I know how it feels to find just what you were looking for because it’s happened with me as well, so, so many times.

    I want to respond to several comments personally and I will, Inshaa’Allah, one by one. Together, by sharing our experiences, we can learn and grow Inshaa’Allah. There are some things I might know and some other you may know and explain better to me in return. Relationships are complex things, there’s often no clear black and white when it comes to dealing with human emotions and issues of trust. May Allah(swt) show us the clear guidance to live our lives in such a way that we do the least harm to others, rather we are able to give good to others and receive His reward and goodness in return! Ameen.

    Now that I’ve commented here once, I will Inshaa’Allah respond to the queries and thoughts some people have shared in the comments above. Jazaak’Allah for your patience! :)

  16. Avatar

    elham

    April 26, 2010 at 2:27 PM

    okay i posted something really long and it disappeared.. Magic? Jinn?…

  17. Avatar

    Ayesha A.

    April 29, 2010 at 2:43 PM

    MashaAllah ….well written article sister….everybody goes through this bitter feeling one time or the other…we all are human beings..everybody is afflicted with calamities,no one is spared…
    even i went thru something in life for which i cried a lot and i used to say it to myself “its so painful,why its happening with me,oh Allah remove me from such state of utmost confusion n make me strong…oh Allah help me to make good choices in life,”…i spend lots of tears and realised that i should be patient and place all my trust in Allah..for He can remove all the difficulties….
    so having the strongest iman makes u better in dealing with any difficult situations in life…

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#Life

Fall Apart: Be Weak to Find Strength in Allah

Hiba Masood

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Growing up in Jeddah, every evening in Ramadan, we would pile into our car and whiz off to the mosque for Taraweeh prayers to Shoaibi Mosque and spend a few spell-bound hours under the reassuring baritones of Sheikh Abdullah Basfar. His beautiful voice became the anthem of my childhood in many ways but more than his voice, it was the building of tradition and memory that became ingrained in my system. By doing the same thing, day in, day out, year in, year out, my parents gave us a sense of stability and predictability that set the tone for our entire adolescence.

How that rhythm seeped into the very bones of who I am is something I am still discovering well into adulthood.

Last night, standing in my grandmother’s garden in Karachi, I experienced my first Taraweeh Khatam-e-Quran since leaving my parents home in Jeddah so many years ago. It is also, incidentally, my first Ramadan without both my parents, who last year seemingly decided they would much rather be together in Jannah than spend more time in this rubbish world and in quick succession, returned to their Maker, leaving me understandably grieving, awash in memories, struggling to steer my ship.

And so it was, that by the time the imam reached Surah Qadr, I was chokey. By Surah Kawthar, I had tears streaming down my face. And by the time the last three surahs, the comforting Quls, began, I was openly sobbing. Probably more openly than what is considered socially appropriate…but honestly, I was restraining myself. Because what I actually felt like doing was throwing my head back and howling up at the sky. Thankfully, I was flanked by women who knew, who understood, who with tears in their own eyes, let me be with my heaving shoulders and a chest that felt it would crack open under the weight of my emotions.

As the imam had recited surah after surah and the end of the Quran had approached, the ghosts of Ramadan Past had flooded into me and my body had remembered. It had remembered years and years of experiencing that same excitement, that same sense of weight as Sheikh Abdullah Basfar gently and methodically guided us over the course of the month through the Book of all books, that same uplifting, heartbreaking, momentous trepidation of offering something up to Him with the hope that He would bestow something shining in return.

Had this Book been revealed to a mountain, the mountain would have crumbled. You get a tiny glimpse of that weight when you complete a khatam. Here I am, Allah, here I am, in my little hole-y dinghy, with my itty bitty crumbs of ibaadah. Pliss to accept?

Back in Jeddah, after the khatam, we would pile back in the car and go for ice cream. Last night in Karachi, after the khatam, the Imam gave a short talk and in it he mentioned how we are encouraged to cry when conversing with Allah. We should beg and plead and insist and argue and tantrum with Him because He loves to be asked again and again. We live in a world of appropriateness, political correctness, carefully curated social media feeds and the necessity of putting our best, most polished face forwards at all times. How freeing then, that when we turn to our Lord, we are specifically instructed to abandon our sense of control. All the facades and the curtains are encouraged to be dropped away and we stand stripped to our souls in front of Him. In other words, He loves it when we fall apart. Which is exactly what I had just done. 

Last night, I found myself wondering what exactly had I cried so hard over. Which tears were for Him and the desperate desire for His mercy? Which were for the loveliness of the Quran, the steadying rhythm of it, not just verse to verse but also, cover to cover? Which tears were for the already achey yearning of yet another Ramadan gone past? Which were for my breaking heart that has to soon face my first Eid day and all the days of my life without my beloved Mumma and Baba? Which tears were of gratitude that I get to stand on an odd night of the best time of the year, alongside some of my dearest people, in the courtyard of a house full of childhood memories, under the vast, inky, starry sky and standing there, I get to fall apart, freely, wholly, soul-satisfyingly?

And which tears were of a searingly humbling recognition, that I am so wildly privileged to have this faith of mine – the faith that promises if we navigate the choppy dunya waters right, we will be reunited with our loved ones in a beautiful, eternal place, that if we purposely, and repeatedly crumble under the weight of our belief in Him and His plans, our future is bright?

Today, I’m convinced that it doesn’t matter why I cried. Because here is what I do know:

1. “If Allah knows good in your hearts, He will give you better than what was taken from you…” (8:70)


2. “If Allah intends good for someone, then he afflicts him with trials.” Prophet Muhammad

3. “Wondrous is the affair of the believer for there is good for him in every matter and this is not the case with anyone except the believer. If he is happy, then he thanks Allah and thus there is good for him. If he is harmed, then he shows patience and thus there is good for him.” Prophet Muhammad

In losing my parents, I have drawn closer to Allah. And though I miss them dizzyingly, I am so thankful that through the childhood they gave me, through the anchoring to the Quran they gifted me with, through their own tears that I witnessed during those long-ago khatams in the Shoaibi Mosque in Jeddah, they left me with the knowledge that if in losing them, I have gained even an atom’s worth more of His pleasure, then that’s a pretty great bargain.

 

As a parent of three young ones myself, I’ve spent my days teaching my children: be strong, be strong, be strong. Stand tall, stay firm, be sturdy in the face of the distracting, crashing waves of the world. But now I know something just as important to teach them: be weak, be weak, be weak.

Crumble in front of Him, fall apart, break open so that His Light may enter and be the only thing to fill you. It’s not easy but it will be essential for your survival in the face of any loss, grief, trial and despair this world throws your way. It will help you, finger to tongue, always know which way the wind is blowing and which way to steer your ship. Straight in to the sun, always. To Jannah. Because how wondrous are the affairs of us Muslims that when it comes to our sorrows and our hopes, out there on the horizon of Allah’s wise plans, it all shimmers as one – The grief of what is, the memory of what was and brighter than both, the glittering, iridescent promise of what will be.

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#Society

MuslimARC Releases Guide for White Muslims By White Muslims

The author of the MuslimARC Guide writes an introduction

Bill Chambers

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“As people who are both white and Muslim, we straddle two identities -one privileged in society and the other, not. We experience Islamophobia to varying degrees, sometimes more overtly depending on how we physically present, and at the same time we have been socialized as white people in a society where white people hold more social power than People of Color (POC). The focus of the toolkit is to provide resources and information that will help guide us toward good practices and behaviours, and away from harmful ones, as we challenge racism within the Muslim community (ummah) and in society at large.” MuslimARC Guide 

As part of our mission to provide education and resources to advance racial justice within the Muslim community, the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC) is producing a series of community-specific guides to be a resource for those who want to engage in anti-racism work within Muslim communities.

The first in this series, the Anti-Racism Guide for White Muslims, has been written specifically for white Muslims, by white Muslims under the guidance of the anti-racist principles of MuslimARC. While white Muslims know that Islamically we are required to stand for justice, growing up in a society that is so racially unequal has meant that unless we seek to actively educate ourselves, we typically have not been provided the tools to effectively talk about and address racism.

The Anti-Racism Guide for White Muslims is a tool and resource that speaks to specific needs of white Muslims who are navigating the process of deepening their understanding of racism and looking for concrete examples of how, from their specific social location, they can contribute to advancing anti-racism in Muslim communities. The Guide also addresses views and practices that inadvertently maintain the status quo of racial injustice or can actually reproduce harm, which we must tackle in ourselves and in our community in order to effectively contribute to uprooting racism.

The Guide was developed by two white Muslim members of MuslimARC, myself (Bill Chambers) and Lindsay Angelow. The experiences, approaches, recommendations, and resources are based upon our own experiences, those of other white Muslims we have encountered or spoken to, and research and analysis by others who have been cited in the Guide.

As white people, we are not always aware when we say or write something that reflects our often narrow analysis of racism and need to be open to feedback from Muslims of Color. My own personal process of helping to develop this Guide made me aware of the many times I was in discussions with Muslims of Color, especially women, when I had reflect better upon the privilege I experience as a white person and also the white male privilege that comes with it. It is difficult not to feel defensive when you realize you may have said too much and listened too little on a topic that is really not about you.

Talking about racism is a hard topic and we anticipate that for many white Muslims reading the Guide, there may be a feeling of defensiveness and having difficulty learning from the examples given because you feel that the examples don’t apply to you. You may feel the need to call to attention the various forms of injustice you feel you have experienced in your life, for example where you felt like an outsider as a convert in Muslim community. Our advice is to recognize that those reactions are related to living in a society where we are very much shielded from having to deeply understand racism and examining our role in it. In the spirit of knowledge seeking, critical thinking, and the call to justice communicated to us in the Qur’an as expectations that Allah has of Muslims, we must push past those reactions and approach the subject matter in the spirit of knowledge, skill-seeking, and growth.

“People, We have created you all from a single man and a single woman, and made you into races and tribes so that you should get to know one another (49:13).” One of our most important purposes is to really “get to know” one another, build just and loving communities together, all the time knowing we all come from the same source and will return together. If this Guide does anything, let it inspire a deeper understanding of our unique identity as white Muslims and how to use it to advance a more just society.

You can find the  #AntiRacismGuide for White Muslims at http://www.muslimarc.org/whitemuslimguide

Further reading:

White Activism Is Crucial In The Wake of Right-Wing Terrorism

Beyond Muslim Diversity to Racial Equity

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#Life

Are You Prepared for Marriage and Building a Family?

Mona Islam

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High School is that time which is ideal for preparing yourself for the rest of your life. There is so much excitement and opportunity. Youth is a time of energy, growth, health, beauty, and adventure. Along with the thrill of being one of the best times of life, there is a definite lack of life experience. In your youth, you end up depending on your own judgments as well as the advice of others who are further along the path. Your own judgments usually come from your own knowledge, assumptions, likes, and dislikes. No matter how wise, mature, or well-intended a youth is compared to his or her peers, the inherent lack of life experience can also mislead that person to go down a path which is not serving them or their loved ones best. A youth may walk into mistakes without knowing, or get themselves into trouble resulting from naivety.

Salma and Yousef: 

Salma and Yousef had grown up in the same community for many years. They had gone to the same masjid and attended youth group together during high school. After going off to college for a few years, both were back in town and found that they would make good prospects for marriage for each other. Yousef was moving along his career path, and Salma looked forward to her new relationship. Yousef was happy to settle down. The first few months after marriage were hectic: getting a new place, organizing, managing new jobs and extended family. After a few months, they began to wonder when things would settle down and be like the vision they had about married life.

Later with valuable life experience, we come to realize that the ideas we had in our youth about marriage and family are far from what are they are in reality. The things that we thought mattered in high school, may not matter as much, and the things that we took for granted really matter a lot more than we realized. In retrospect, we learn that marriage is not simply a door that we walk through which changes our life, but something that each young Muslim and Muslima should be preparing for individually through observation, introspection, and reflection. In order to prepare for marriage, each person must intend to want to be the best person he or she can be in that role. There is a conscious process that they must put themselves through.

This conscious process should begin in youth. Waiting until marriage to start this process is all too late. We must really start preparing for marriage as a conscious part of our growth, self-development, and character building from a young age. The more prepared we are internally, the better off we will be in the process of marriage. The best analogy would be the stronger the structure and foundation of a building, the better that building will be able to serve its purpose and withstand the environment. Another way to think of this process is like planting a seed. We plant a seed long before the harvest, but the more time, care, and attention, the more beautiful and beneficial the fruits will be.

 

Sarah and Hasan:

Hasan grew up on the East Coast. He had gone to boarding school all through high school, especially since his parents had died in an unfortunate accident. His next of kin was his aunt and uncle, who managed his finances, and cared for him when school was not in session. Hasan was safe and comfortable with his aunt and uncle, but he always felt there was something missing in his life. During his college years, Hasan was introduced to Sarah and eventually they decided to get married.

The first week of his new job, Hasan caught a really bad case of the flu that made it hard for him to get his projects done. Groggy in bed, he sees Sarah appear with a tray of soup and medicine every day until he felt better. Nobody had ever done that for him before. He remembered the “mawaddah and rahmah” that the Quran spoke of.

Knowledge, Skills, and Understanding:

The process of growing into that person who is ready to start a family is that we need to first to be aware of ourselves and be aware of others around us. We have to have knowledge of ourselves and our environment. With time, reflection and life experience, that knowledge activates into understanding and wisdom. This activity the ability to make choices between right and wrong, and predict how our actions will affect others related to us.

Preview:

This series is made up of several parts which make up a unit about preparation for family life. Some of the topics covered include:

  • The Family Unit In Islam
  • Characteristics of an Individual Needed for Family Life
  • The Nuclear Family
  • The Extended Family

Hamza and Tamika

Tamika and Hamza got married six months ago. Tamika was getting her teacher certification in night school and started her first daytime teaching job at the local elementary school. She was shocked at the amount of energy it took to manage second graders. She thought teaching was about writing on a board and reading books to kids, but found out it had a lot more to do with discipline, speaking loudly, and chasing them around. This week she had state testing for the students and her finals at night school. She was not sure how to balance all this with her new home duties. One day feeling despair, she walked in her kitchen and found a surprise. Hamza had prepared a beautiful delicious dinner for them that would last a few days, and the home looked extra clean too. Tamika was pleasantly surprised and remembered the example of our Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

The Family Unit in Islam

We always have to start with the beginning. We have to ask, “What is the family unit in Islam?” To answer this we take a step further back, asking, “What is the world-wide definition of family? Is it the same for all people? Of course not. “Family” means a lot of different things to a lot of different people across the world. As Muslims, what family means to us, is affected by culture and values, as well as our own understanding of Islam.

The world-wide definition of family is a group of people who are related to each other through blood or marriage. Beyond this point, is where there are many differences in views. Some people vary on how distantly related to consider a family. In some cultures, family is assumed to be only the nuclear family, consisting of mom dad and kids only. Other cultures assume family includes an extended family. Another large discrepancy lies in defining family roles and responsibilities. Various cultures promote different behavioral norms for different genders or roles in the family. For example, some cultures promote women staying at home in a life of luxury, while others esteem women joining the workforce while raising their kids on the side. Living styles vary too, where some cultures prefer individual family homes, while in other parts of the world extended families live together in large buildings always interacting with each other.

 

Layla and Ibrahim   

Layla and Ibrahim met at summer retreat where spirituality was the focus, and scholars were teaching them all day. Neither of them was seriously considering getting married, but one of the retreat teachers thought they might make a good match. It seemed like a fairytale, and the retreat gave them an extra spiritual high. Layla could not imagine anything going wrong. She was half Italian and half Egyptian, and Ibrahim came from a desi family. Soon after the nikah, Layla moved across the country into Ibrahim’s family home, where his parents, three siblings, and grandmother lived.  Come Ramadan, Layla’s mother-in-law, Ruqayya, was buying her new clothes to wear to the masjid. It was out of love, but Sarah had never worn a shalwar kameez in all her life! Ruqayya Aunty started getting upset when Layla was not as excited about the clothes as she was.

As Eid approached, Layla had just picked a cute dress from the department store that she was looking forward to wearing. Yet again, her mother-in-law had other plans for her.

Layla was getting upset inside. It was the night before Eid and the last thing she wanted to do was fight with her new husband. She did not want that stress, especially because they all lived together. At this point, Layla started looking through her Islamic lecture notes. She wanted to know, was this request from her mother-in-law a part of the culture, or was it part of the religion?

Marriage

The basis of all families, undoubtedly, is the institution of marriage. In the Islamic model, the marriage consists of a husband and a wife. In broad terms, marriage is the commitment of two individuals towards each other and their children to live and work together to meet and support each other’s needs in the way that they see fit. What needs they meet vary as well, from person to person, and family to family. The marriage bond must sustain the weight of fulfilling first their own obligations toward each other. This is the priority. The marriage must also be strong enough to hold the responsibility of raising the kids, and then the extended family.

How are we as Muslims unique and what makes us different from other family models? We are responsible to Allah. The end goals are what makes us different, and the method in which we work. In other family systems, beliefs are different, goals are different, and the motives are different. Methods can especially be different. In the end, it is quite a different system. What makes us better? Not because we say we are better or because we automatically feel better about ourselves due to a misplaced feeling of superiority. But instead it is because we are adhering to the system put in place by the most perfect God, Allah, the Creator and Sustainer of all the worlds, the One Who knows best what it is we need.

Family Roles:

Each person in the family has a role which Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has meant for them to have, and which ethics and common sense tell us to follow. However, our nafs and ego can easily misguide us to live our family life in the wrong way, which is harmful and keeps us suffering. Suffering can take place in many ways. It can take place in the form of neglect or abuse. In the spectrum of right and wrong, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) tells us that we are a nation meant for the middle path. So we should not go to any extreme in neglect or abuse.

What are the consequences of mishandling our family roles? Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) calls this type of wrongdoing “transgression” or “oppression”. There are definitely consequences of oppression, abuse, and neglect. There are worldly consequences which we feel in this life, and there are long term consequences in the Akhirah.

Razan and Farhaan

Razan and Farhan had gotten married two years ago. Since they were from different towns, Razan would have to move to Farhaan’s hometown. On top of the change of married life, Razan felt pangs of homesickness and did not know many people in the new town. However, Farhaan did not realize what she was going through. He still had the same friends he grew up with for years. They had a die-hard routine to go to football games on Friday night and play basketball on Saturday at the rec center.

Razan was losing her patience. How could he think it was okay to go out with his friends twice on the weekend? Yet he expected her to keep the home together? Her blood started to boil. What does Islam say about this?

Mawaddah and Rahma

The starting point of a family is a healthy relationship between the husband and wife. Allah SWT prescribed in Surah 25: verse 74, that the marriage relationship is supposed to be built on Mawaddah (compassion) and Rahma (mercy). A loving family environment responds to both the needs of the children and the needs of parents. Good parenting prepares children to become responsible adults.

Aliyaah and Irwan

Aliyaah and Irwan had homeschooled their twin children, Jannah and Omar, for four years. They were cautious about where to admit their children for the next school year. Aliyaah felt that she wanted to homeschool her children for another few years. There were no Islamic Schools in their town. Irwan wanted to let his kids go to public schools. He felt that was nothing wrong with knowing how things in the real world are. However, every conversation they started about this issue ended up into a conflict or fight. This was beginning to affect their relationship.

Parenting

Two significant roles that adults in a family play are that they are married and they are parents. It is important that parents work to preserve and protect their marital relationship since it is really the pillar which supports the parenting role. Parenting is a role which Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) directly addresses in our religion. We will be asked very thoroughly about this most important role which we will all play in our lives.

There is a hadith in which the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) reminds us,

“All of you are shepherds and responsible for your wards under you care. The imam is the shepherd of his subjects and is responsible for them, and a man is a shepherd of his family and is responsible for them. A woman is the shepherd of her husband’s house and is responsible for it. A servant is the shepherd of his master’s belongings and is responsible for them. A man is the shepherd of his father’s property and is responsible for them”. (Bukhari and Muslim)

Islam has placed a lot of importance on the family unit. A family is the basic building block of Islam. A strong family can facilitate positive social change within itself and the society as a whole. The Quran asserts that human beings are entrusted by their Creator to be his trustees on Earth, thus they need to be trained and prepared for the task of trusteeship (isthiklaf).

Asa youth, it is important to make a concerted effort to develop our family skills so that we grow into that role smoothly. Proper development will prepare a person emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically for marriage and family life.

Mona Islam is a youth worker, community builder, motivational speaker, writer, and author. For the past 25 years, Sr. Mona has been on the forefront of her passion both locally and nationally, which is inculcating character development in youth (tarbiyah).  Sr. Mona has extensive knowledge of Islamic sciences through the privilege of studying under many scholars and traveling worldwide.  An educator by profession, she is a published author, completed her masters in Educational Admin and currently doing her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction. Sr. Mona is married with five children and lives in Houston, TX.

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