Author Archives: Shahin

About Shahin

I'm nobody. I just like to talk about my experiences.

The hurt

I was a half-full human, my heart stagnant but patiently waiting

Those half-empty spaces were filling themselves up slowly…

You came and started helping the filling

It was a lot
it was more than real

So used to the help
there was no going back
never again could this job be done alone

There was a binding, an understanding, an
intertwining
of two words into one
two pairs of eyes that looked
into
the same direction

no one should suffer she whispered
no one should suffer he
echoed

we will never allow it
pain is so difficult
stopping pain…

how do you do that?

Is it possible to do that she
asked
We will make it possible he
answered

Where were you before she
thought
but the answer she
knew

Things never go as planned

Why we keep expecting never answers the question

it’s the hard monotony of the learning life
the daily grind
the
working life

People forget how not to hurt
people forget how not to hurt

the words,
the unwords

the drudgery of the repeated phrases
they try
they try and stop the hurt

they can’t stop the hurt
why can’t they stop the hurt

someone tell them it’s not okay to hurt

it’s the deadly absence of something that should never be…
absent

keep expecting because
Expectations remind
of worth

we have worth, right?

Then why must we prove it all the time?

Unplanned

This post was unplanned.

The posts that were supposed to have been written after the last one were planned. I was supposed to have chronicled my Dream journey. I didn’t. It was so much to take–so much good, so much hardship, that I took that time to understand it and just could not write about it. It’s funny how we think we can share things with people. Then we realize that we have so much to say that it can’t be said.

I have several notebooks filled with notes and gems from various classes at Dream and other lectures I was blessed to attend in the area. I have only begun to comprehend even one-tenth of what we learned. Let alone share that knowledge with someone else, I haven’t even begun to fully comprehend it. It’ an ocean. It’s an ocean in which you dive again and again and pull out a different pearl every time.

The biggest lesson I learned at Dream is that knowledge truly only gives you a little of itself after you give it all of yourself (this is a statement that I heard often in Islamic circles but did not ever understand until I went to Dream). During a particularly difficult period of my studies (both academically and emotionally taxing), our teacher, Shaykh Abdullah, gave me valuable advice. He said, “You will not learn what you want to learn when you want to learn it.”

“But Shaykh,” I argued. “We have so many milestones we have to meet here. A quiz here, a test there. How will I ever move on to the next module if I don’t understand the lessons in this one?” He smiled and said, “That’s fine. You take whatever understanding you have and you take it forward. And when the time is right, you will understand what you need to understand. It will all come to you later.”

I sighed but made myself relax and move forward.

I didn’t feel like the puzzle pieces fit until we were on our last module. Slowly, a dim light bulb began to shine brighter and I had not one, not two, but multiple aha! moments. It felt truly magical. I was really truly happy for comprehending the beautiful language of Arabic in a new light (no pun intended).

Anyhow, it’s now 2017. A new year.

I haven’t even recuperated from the sudden lack of Arabic and Qur’an immersion in my life. Regular life seems…regular. Not intense. Not academically challenging. Not spiritually immersive. But I know what I want–Dream made my goals clear. Going to Dream and coming back made my goals clearer. That life of immersion is what I want. Immersion in something so powerful and fulfilling as the Arabic of the Qur’an, the richness of its language, the depth of its meaning. It’s beautiful.

It makes life beautiful.

 

 

The Beginning of the (Dream) Journey

This post will serve as some sort of introduction to what I’ll call a “series.” It’s nothing special–just plain old me talking about my experiences.

The beginning of my Bayyinah Dream journey did not begin this year when I was finally able to attend the program. It began with a prayer.

One day in 2008 (or was it 2009), Ustadh Nouman announced that he would be launching a full-time Arabic course in Irving, TX that would take students through Arabic grammar, tafsir, conversation, etc. For me, it was a dream come true. He said it would be called the “Dream Program.” Funny, huh? I immediately made du’a to Allah that one day I wanted to be able to go. Living a thousand miles away from TX wasn’t going to stop me. I knew that this is what I wanted to do, so I made a life plan (this was an actual Word document where I wrote down what I wanted to do with my life, and I’ve been checking off most of those things, alhamdulillah). I talked to my parents about it. My dad said, “inshaAllah.” I took that as a maybe. He meant it as a no.

During my last two years at high school and throughout the four years of college, I was driven by my desire to finish my Bachelor’s degree as fast as possible, so I could find a way to go to Dream. I just had to be there, I just had to get there somehow. I thought about Dream all the time. In terms of my long-term goals, Dream was the “tool” which would allow me to access Islamic knowledge. So it was the first major step in my journey of pursuing Islamic scholarship. In terms of my short-term goals, Dream was the light at the end of the tunnel. Here’s an illustration to help you understand what I mean:

flowchart-picture

Fast forward to 2016. I applied to Dream, got accepted, and had two obstacles in my way: my finances and getting my parents’ permission. I made du’a, got depressed for days, made more du’a, prayed istikharah, prayed more nawafils than I ever did in my life for something personal, and made more du’a. I consulted with people who ended up giving me not only moral, but also financial, support. May Allah preserve them all and grant them goodness in this life and the next. Someone close then convinced my parents to let me go to Dream as it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. My dad agreed. I was shocked but so happy, and so grateful. Allah was making everything fall into place for me. And so many people were involved in making this happen for me; may Allah bless them all, and grant them the best in this world and the next.

Before I came here, I had many friends and acquaintances tell me one of two things, along with wishing me well on my journey:

1) “You’re so lucky, I wish I could do what you’re doing.” (I assume this refers to me pursuing my dream and/or preparing to study Islam by studying the Arabic language).

2) “Please share with us what you learn.” (This could’ve been short facebook GEMS. But I’m done with facebook gems. Who actually reads a two-liner on facebook and says, “Wow, this really changed my life.” No one).

To address the first thing, I say: Please, please, please, do not give up on your dreams! No matter your age, but especially if you’re young and single! You have time and energy to do things you won’t have time for later. If you don’t have money, if you don’t have resources, it’s okay. Look for other resources. For so long, I took advantage of online Islamic programs, whether free or paid. Talk to people–your teachers, your mentors, your classmates, even people you wouldn’t think of talking to about a particular topic or opportunity. Most importantly, make du’a. Pray istikharah. Tell Allah to give you what you want if it’s good for you. Keep asking, keep begging. Something may seem impossible to you, but it’s never impossible for Allah. Don’t think you’re above something, but don’t think you’re below it either. I’ve heard too many people say, “I’m not cut out for this path (of seeking knowledge/learning the Book of Allah/teaching/da’wah)” or “If only I had the knowledge/skills/resources/money/sincerity, I’d do it.” No, you have the capacity to do it. If you are sincere in your intention to serve Allah’s deen using the abilities He gave you, He will make it happen inshaAllah. Every single person has their own unique abilities that they can use to serve the deen. Just trust Him, and don’t give up 🙂

To address the second thing, I say: We love to share things on social media with the intention to benefit others. I have personally found, though, that I learn much more from long, thoughtful posts that people share on their blogs or facebook pages than one-liners that sound fancy, but might be not as beneficial as their longer, more in-depth counterparts. I also love reading people’s personal blogs where they share their journeys in something that they are passionate about, and I think that longer posts allow that writer-reader connection to happen.

I have learned an incredible amount of new things since coming to TX in July, but I haven’t shared much at all simply because I haven’t consolidated everything into one place in a way that makes sense. I have notes from various classes, lectures, and khatirahs that I plan to share inshaAllah, along with my experiences of living away from home for the first time in my life. I’ll divide the posts into different parts, but without any sense of cohesion in terms of theme. They will be placed in one “series” simply because all of them have to do with my life at Dream. I pray that whatever I share will be a source of benefit to whoever reads it.

Hope y’all enjoy! 🙂

 

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 <3.

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.