Circumstance 2

[This is not a follow-up post to my last one. I simply don’t have the energy to come up with a title right now.]

I used to think that when I graduated from college with my Bachelor’s I’d be happy. And I was, for a short while, until I got into the daily grind–going to work, coming home exhausted, putting up with real responsibilities that I couldn’t shy away from because people were depending on me. First, I was like: being an adult sucks. But I have big aspirations, and those convinced me to keep going. However, what I hate most is that I’m not living up to my expectations of myself. I wanted to be great teacher, a great daughter, a great sister. But all I can do is offer half-baked attempts at being this “great” person I wanna be.

Thank God my undergrad years are over but I failed miserably during my first semester at an Islamic uni. I was so happy, so well-prepared, and I had so many expectations of myself to do well in all my classes. These weren’t just classes for me–they were the center of my existence, the hope that had pulled me through my undergrad years…I had told myself during my darkest moments that it’d be one more year, one more semester, one more month, before I’d be able to “break free” and do what I love most–study Islam. But as always, I put more on my plate than I could handle. I was excited and prepared for classes, so I took on a full load (15 credits), but I didn’t take into account that I was also a full-time teacher.

I was excited to teach, incredibly energized and prepared for a new year. There were so many things I needed to learn, so many things I needed to do, but for the first time in a long time, I didn’t find myself shying away from responsibilities. But my procrastination caught up with me and so did my lack of self-discipline, and by the time November rolled around, I felt like I wanted to quit teaching forever. Later I found out that first-time teachers all feel this way during this time in the school-year. So I trudged on, with renewed conviction.

A few months later, a lot of things changed and I found myself being complacent, not being consistent, not devoting time to spirituality the way I’d promised myself I would “as soon as I graduated.” All the expectations which I had laid out for myself (and didn’t fulfill) left me feeling utterly miserable and ever-so inadequate. Even now, as I write it takes a lot from me to think straight, to make sense of my situation, to try and learn what Allah wants me to learn from what’s happening.

But somehow, one good thing has happened in the middle of all this chaos.

I became grateful. I had never been a grateful person, but I had made du’a to Allah sometime back to make me a grateful person. The ayah kept coming to my head that teaches us that gratitude brings more. What it brings more of, I don’t know, but I knew it was good, because Allah had commanded us to be grateful. And so I tried. I thanked Allah even if I didn’t feel it, even if my mind was screaming complaints about this thing and that. Even if I had debts to pay that totally emptied my wallet, even if I had family problems to sort through, even if I saw no end in sight to some of my worries, I was grateful. I started to reflect on my blessings–the most obvious ones like food, water, shelter, warmth, family, friends, a job, an education. Allah granted me this new gift of gratitude and I am so grateful for it. So even in the darkest times, when things don’t seem okay and my dreams look so far away, I am able to have hope in my Lord because He never forsake me. And every time I asked, He gave. He gave something greater than what I had asked for even if I may not recognize all of it.

Every hardship brings with it ease. I used to think ease meant solutions. But it doesn’t have to. Ease can be the peace you find in your heart when everything else is in chaos, it can be the good friend who listens to you when you need to just get if off your chest, it can be patience, it can be gratitude, and it can even be the willpower to get off yourself out of the situation that you’re stuck in. If it wasn’t for reflection on my state of mind, I might not have been more motivated to take charge of my life. I have always been an optimistic person, but maybe I need to learn to really steer myself in the direction I need to go, and for that, I need self-discipline, another gift from Allah. But Allah is Al-Wahhab, the Giver of Gifts and I am certain that He will grant it to me.

Circumstance

When your belief in people being indifferent towards you and not caring for you gets stronger over time (regardless of whether it is true or not), it leads to you becoming that much more protective of yourself. That protection then manifests itself in either becoming overly vulnerable, closing off completely, or becoming selfish. I can see parts of me that use these various coping mechanisms and it is honestly just so unhealthy.

When you’re constantly in the habit of defending yourself, you cannot grow out of it even when you no longer need to. When you are used to protecting yourself, you lose the ability to be selfless, and that’s what stops you from sacrifice. You can no longer put others before you, because you are so used to being the only one there for you.

I used to feel very guilty, and I still do. The selfishness makes you feel inhumane, but it came to be because of circumstances. And although your circumstances change when you change, sometimes you just really need your circumstances to change first.

It’s not an excuse, just a reality. And I know there’s a way out. I just don’t know what it is.

Graduation

Finally graduated…!

Never thought it’d be over.

First, I was irked why everyone was so happy (because I wasn’t because clearly I have issues). But I’m glad they are. I’m so glad that I was forced to attend my own graduation. I didn’t personally feel accomplished at all, but my family…they were so happy.

Reading the cards I got from my two best friends and my aunt and grandparents literally made a million emotions swirl inside me. I kept laughing and laughing but was on the verge of crying but I couldn’t because I was so happy reading what they wrote. I don’t think I’ve felt such intense emotion in a long time.

❤ love them forever. If I have something to be grateful for, it is my friends. And by the Mercy and Wisdom of Allah, they are also my family❤.

Questions…

In the various interactions I’ve had with elders in my family over the years, this is the summary of the message I have picked up:

“Some of the things you youngsters convey these days are things which we probably didn’t even understand at your age; we simply did what we were told. We listened and followed without question. We didn’t have the education or the tools with which to think intellectually but we had akhlaq, we had manners. We were people of action. The little that we knew, we put into action. And you have all this knowledge which is just wasted.”

Although I detest the “blind soldier” mentality that many of our elders conform to, they don’t lie when they say they were people of action. People of our generation think sagaciously and speak eloquently, but don’t do anything. We voice our opinions and that’s it—it ends there. We don’t change anything.

And the only *wrong* thing our elders did was listen to culture without question, but we can learn from them and listen to Allah without question.

These days everything is up for debate, even the obvious commandments of Allah. And people ask for proofs left and right as if they are scholars. This is not to say that we shouldn’t ask scholars where they derived rulings and follow them blindly, but we should be humble enough to accept some things even if we don’t understand them.

We simply don’t understand the concept of “sami’na wa ata’na” (we hear and we obey) anymore.

New Year’s, New Years

My God. Another year passed. And people talk about this stuff, they write about it. So why not me?

So…for once, I had a good New Year’s. Usually, I visit my relatives’ homes for dinner and people gather ’round the TV 30 min in advance (which is a waste of time in my opinion) and then they count down and scream…3…2…1…HAPPY NEW YEARS!!!! And I’m standing there like -_- bleh, nothing changed. Whatever, okay, let’s move on, y’all.

And this year, there is a reason why I didn’t have that ‘bleh’ attitude–actually, two reasons. One, I’m graduating this year (August inshaAllah) AND I had a good New Year’s eve/Winter Break. I went out with my cousins and her friends and we watched fireworks (albeit while almost freezing to death) and had fun. We played Taboo which was immense fun and ate good meals, Alhamdulillah.

2015 is also the year in which I intend to work and save up money to enroll in a TEFL course inshaAllah so that I can teach abroad, in some Muslim country (but I already kinda know where I wanna go).

2015 is also the year in which I will finally, inshaAllah, get my driver’s license.

2015 is also the year in which I will catch up on an entire year’s worth of LP lessons (see here). I just caught up on Year 1-I just finished the chapter of istinja’ haha…gotta be fun learning about toilet structures with Sh. Abu Eesa.

2015 is also the year in which I have new ways to deal with my family problems under my belt (courtesy of my uni counselor from last semester). SO, that means I will be more stress-free inshaAllah!

So there. A bunch of reasons why 2015 is a good year–full of new things–why it will be a good year, bi idhnillah!

I love my optimism😉

“Peace”-What I wait for

Allah choosing to call Islam “Islam” is no coincidence: the roots “salama” mean “peace.” If you think about it, peace is worth more than anything else in this world, and I mean emotionally, psychologically worth more. People do all kinds of things to achieve happiness and some get it while others don’t. But peace is different. You can be distressed while being happy, and you can be peaceful while drowning in tears (think weeping upon seeing the Ka’bah or crying in repentance to The Most Merciful or hearing about the death of a loved one in Allah’s cause).

Allah knows that the one thing we crave for, the one thing we look foreverywhere, what we cry for, what we die for…is peace.

He placed it in iman.

He placed it in the proclamation of faith, in the prostration of humility, in the begging for grace. He placed it in the reading of His words, in His remembrance that you count on your fingers. He placed it in talking to Him, crying to Him, praying to Him.

And after all these occasional moments of peace, He promises to drown us in it if we’re steadfast.

Then how can anyone else love us more than Him?

Being a Muslim in America (and Ferguson)

After the 9/11 events and the resultant increase of hate towards Muslims, I grew very impatient. I was impatient because I was young and I didn’t understand why we were being hated as Muslims. I remember once on a 9/11 anniversary, I was going to the mall with my mom and I happened to be wearing an abaya. She told me to take it off because she feared for my safety. I was a little scared when she told me about hate crimes but I was adamant about wearing it and thought about what I had learned in school regarding all dangerous situations, whether physical or spiritual—that if I recited Ayat al-Kursi, Allah would protect me.

He did.

Allah protected me then and He protects me now. He has been protecting those of us who are still safe in our homes.

Fast-forward.

My confusion grew into hate. I was furious about why we were hated as a group, as a community for the actions of a few radicals. But I never expressed it. I was afraid.

But as I read about Ferguson, it reminds me of all the other stories I have read, seen on my dash, heard about in the news—the stories of colored people, and of those with different religions.

America, in all its “glory” and “freedom and justice for all” mottos has forgotten the real meaning behind them—or maybe it just doesn’t care. Maybe the people that are not affected by the injustices that happen to our people, to American people on this soil don’t care as long as it doesn’t affect them. It’s appalling how every time the offender is white and the victim is either Black, Hispanic or Muslim, the victim doesn’t get justice and is sometimes further victimized.

This has to change. Our religion tells us and so does our humanity that we have to speak out against injustice.

May Allah help the marginalized groups in America and all over the world. Ameen.