Being free from worrying about what others think of you and what lies in your future is truly a blessing.
Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes: “We fear not what the future holds, because we know Who holds it.”
For the first time in ages, today I feel liberated.
I remember when I was 16, I was the most carefree about my future. I was so happy on some days that I couldn’t stop smiling. Then I started worrying-worrying about college, my relationship with my parents and other things. Some stress is good as it motivates a person but I fell into depression. The only thing that kept me going was that I strove to please Allah. My teachers had faith in me and my friends encouraged me. I was arrogant but ironically had low-self-esteem, which was coupled with the passionate desire to improve myself. Somehow, though, I also cared about people. I was addicted to Islamic knowledge. Al-Maghrib was my sanctuary and the people there my saviors. I wanted everyone to love Islamic knowledge like I did and I wanted everyone to start their journey towards Allah like I had, by the Guidance of Allah and with the help of my Islamic Studies teacher. Every time I learned something new, I would share it with my best friend and we would talk about Jannah for hours on end. We made grandiose plans of becoming shaykhas and changing the world and leading everyone to appreciate the beauty of Islam and the peace of detachment from this dunya. My heart was truly attached to the Hereafter.
But then 12th grade came along. It was time to apply to colleges. I was too lazy and depressed and I thought college would take me away from Islam. I thought it would deprive me from time to study Islamic knowledge. But my friends and my teachers pushed me hard and told me I could balance both. I knew every other Muslim was doing it, so why couldn’t I?
It turned out, my initial assumptions were right. At first, I didn’t know how to balance college with my religious studies. My relationship with my family wasn’t too great either. Which brings me to my next point. Time and time again, my dad would tell me that my Islamic education was of no benefit if I didn’t have akhlaq. I didn’t know what he was talking about. I thought he was humiliating me. I kept on regurgitating the information as well, and passed it off as his lack of acceptance and compassion.
I was gaining more and more displeasure from my parents, which I knew also displeased Allah, but I strove to come closer to Allah in other ways.
Now I’m 20 years old, and I’m about to finish my 2 years at NOVA and then later transfer to university.
There have been so many changes in me in these 4 years that to write about them would probably make a book. I don’t mean to boast as nothing is in my hands, but I do know this much-if you truly seek Allah, He will guide you. Allah says in Surah Al-‘Ankabut:
“And those who strive for Us – We will surely guide them to Our ways. And indeed, Allah is with the doers of good.” (29:69)
No matter how many times you fall, He will pick you up and put you back on the right path. And yes, sometimes He won’t answer your du’as even when you desperately want them to be answered, because He knows better than you do. I remember specific du’as that I had made back in my teen years and I am now grateful to Allah that He didn’t make them come true. But there were also du’as that I remember that Allah answered, not quite in the way that I was expecting, but in His own Special way. For example, I asked Allah to make me patient and He put trials in my way, one after another. I asked Allah to make me love my parents and He showed me their beautiful and unique qualities that I had never been able to see before due to my haughty and resenting attitude. I asked Allah to give me knowledge of the Qur’an and to give me Adaab and this is a journey that I have just begun. With the help of Allah, I was finally able to start my long-term Tafseer class with Al-Huda Institute (online) and I am almost done with the 1st Juz. Words cannot explain how ecstatic my heart is just thinking about my test that’s coming up in a few days. I also learned that when you study the Qur’an in detail, with all its intricate meanings and wisdoms, you really are strongly compelled to improve your akhlaq. I testify that in all these years of taking Islamic classes and listening to lectures, nothing has changed my akhlaq more than what the Qur’an has done to me. It’s been 8 months since I registered for my Tafseer class and I am way behind than I should be, but it keeps making me reflect on how ‘Umar (or was it Abu Bakr? R) spent 8 years learning Surah Al-Baqarah, because he didn’t move on until he practiced what he learned.
Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah, Allah has allowed my heart to soften. I had a very hard heart, and whether that was by circumstance or choice or both, it was pulling me down. My emotions had held me captive for so long. But I wanted to break free. Holding grudges and being unkind and unforgiving was only making me go farther away from Islam. It was hindering my spirituality and keeping me from excelling in my deeds. I wanted to change for the sake of Allah but my dad’s high expectations helped me get there faster, as did my wish to get married. I learned in marriage lectures that we always hope for/look for a good spouse but fail to become good people ourselves. One quote that hit this point home was, “Would you marry yourself?” A few years back, let alone marry, I wasn’t sure if anyone would want to be friends with me. Now, I can say “Maybe” 🙂
So, here I am. A kind-of new me. I want to hold on to the good that was in me long ago and leave all the junk behind. I want myself to be the source of benefit for all people everywhere. In the Collector’s Edition class (Introduction to Sahih Bukhari), we learned an interesting hadith:
Narrated Ibn ‘Umar: Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “Amongst the trees, there is a tree, the leaves of which do not fall and is like a Muslim. Tell me the name of that tree.” Everybody started thinking about the trees of the desert areas. And I thought of the date-palm tree but felt shy to answer the others then asked, “What is that tree, O Allah’s Messenger ?” He replied, “It is the date-palm tree.” (Bukhari)
-One of the benefits that we can derive from this hadith is that a believer is beneficial in all circumstances (just like the date palm tree that can be used in its early stages all the way to its late stages and every part of it is useful-nothing goes to waste). A believer always benefits himself and others no matter where he goes.
This hadith had a huge impact on me but I still forget it from time-to-time. When I remember it, however, it puts me back on track in regards to my relationship with people. I want people’s lives to be better because of my presence in it, not deprive them of their peace.
So to the people who have helped me come thus far: My dad, all of my friends (yes, you all had a part to play even if you don’t think so), my wonderful teachers, my stepmom, my younger siblings, and yes, even random strangers, I want to say thank you and may Allah Bless you all and grant you all the best in this world and the next. You may or may not read this, but I love you all for the Sake of Allah and one of the greatest things I look forward to is for us all to be in Jannah together inshaAllah, having a great big halal party 🙂
Life is sweet and your heart is precious; give your heart to its Maker and He will take care of it.
And He will take care of you.
Wa assalamu alaikum! 🙂