Tag Archives: personal

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.

This year, I didn’t look for it. This year, I was busy looking for myself, looking for what I was doing wrong, and why I was doing it. Looking for something that would bring me closer to Him. In the depths of the night, I was clueless. My mind was right this time, my heart was wrong. I made decisions that I regretted immediately and then immediately went back to. I felt lost. It was because I remembered Him but pretended to forget. I pretended to be weak so I became weak. I knew I was deluded so I went further in delusion.

I didn’t go out to feel the air at night—to make sure it was just a little chilly. I didn’t stand on my tiptoes and try to feel the breeze on my face at 12 am. I didn’t straighten out the prayer rug and place my face on the floor. I didn’t keep the water bottle next to me in case I get thirsty after reading some of the blessed book, because the blessed book I didn’t really read. I didn’t slide the purple prayer beads between my fingers, nor the yellow ones, nor the red ones. I lay dead sometimes, sometimes my heart was dead. I was heedless in a strange way that made me consciously heedless. I was a monster sometimes. My heart tried to push open through the deliberate barriers that I had put in my chest. It knocked gently and I heard it. I tried to get it to stop, but then it started thumping. It told me that it wanted me to be human. It told me that it wanted to be Muslim—one who submits, one who gains peace.

I quietly locked it up again before it could get too loud, before its voice could reach deeper into my ears, before it could pierce my soul. But my soul already knew. It had been communicating with my heart outside of my knowledge and they had made a plan. My soul had been stifled for so long that it wasn’t able to speak, but my heart’s voice had given it courage.

And now my soul is telling me something, and I cannot ignore it. Despite the way I treated it, it’s helping me, giving me signals, nudging me, encouraging me.

On this final blessed night, I’m being forced to find it. And I will go out after Fajr to see the ray-less sun making its way back into my life.

All people really want from relationships is to have someone love them and care for them; that’s it. And they want to hear it. It’s really simple but people still don’t understand. 

But no matter how much pain you have hidden inside, don’t let it stop you from being the better person. My parents rarely ever expressed their love to me (because of rigid cultural family traditions) and I think I have sort of an underlying problem because of that, but I’ve been trying to change.

Today in my Seerah class, Sh. Abdulbary Yahya said (on a tangent) that sometimes just get like a candy or a little something for your siblings and when they ask why, just say: “Because I love you.”

Now this is gonna sound kinda ridiculous to y’all but that’s something very hard for me to do. I’ve never heard “I love you” so it’s hard for me to say it. If there’s one thing that I really, really wish my siblings don’t inherit from our parents and me, it’s the inability to express our (positive) emotions.

So now I’ve a new goal: I’m gonna buy something for all 5 of my siblings inshaAllah and when they ask me why, I’m gonna say: “Because I love you.”

Good night 🙂

Reflections (Parents)

I have always felt odd talking about my mom in a neutral or positive light, maybe because I’ve always focused on her negative qualities. Over time, I’ve alienated myself from her deliberately, and not all of my reasons for doing so were wrong. But now that I am able to handle what I know will come my way (inshaAllah), I think I should stop pretending to be a vulnerable victim and start doing what I know is right.

My aunt told me a few days back how much my mom praises me and loves me. I don’t need anyone to tell me that my mom loves me-that’s a given with *every* mom, but when she told me that my mom is proud of me, my world changed. Before this, I mostly used to hear complaints and sometimes I cared while at other times not necessarily.

I remember how miserable I used to be in high school; and I know for a fact that one of the main causes of my misery was my failure to treat my parents the way Allah had obligated.

One of my main du’as used to be: “O Allah, make my parents pleased with me because Your Pleasure lies in their pleasure.” 

Then, I started the journey of trying to fix my behavior with my parents. I remember first verbalizing my intention to do so to my friend on the last day of school when I was in 11th grade.

Even two years after that, I still felt as if I was lost, as if my efforts were in vain. But SubhanAllah, as with all things, Allah gave me victory with patience. I know for a fact that my parents will never be 100% pleased with me and nor will one of them probably ever say it to my face if they are, but at least I know that they are right now and that Allah is consequently pleased with me too, at least in this arena (inshaAllah).

This is an extremely personal bit of my life that I decided to share because I think there are lessons to learn from it (apart from the fact that I feel kind of at ease right now).

1) Allah is the Turner of the Hearts, so ask Him to turn your heart to His deen and His obedience. If you feel constricted by any relationship factor that is not in your control, ask Allah to help you. Beg Him to fix your situation and to grant you sabr and istiqamah, because without patience and steadfastness, you will fail.

2) Dedication is the key to attaining anything in life. Wanting something but ignoring it or not working towards it diligently will not gain you anything.

3) Your mom loves you more than anyone else, just short of your Creator Himself, Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala). You need to make time for her and validate her concerns instead of brushing them off. There is an incredible amount of love that goes into her nagging, scolding and disciplining.

4) If you love one parent more than the other, that’s not your fault; it’s a matter of the heart. But your treatment of them should be according to what the Qur’an and Sunnah dictated, i.e. a mother is 3x higher in degree than a father.

5) Learn to overlook peoples’ mistakes, esp. those of your parents. When you seek to understand people and they notice that, they will automatically let their guard down and trust and respect you. In the case of parents, when you obey them, they love you more and they become more lenient towards your shortcomings.

6) Victory comes slowwwwly. Really, really slowly. Like a wave that comes in to shore, you must come and carry the bad sand away into the ocean and purify it. You must wait and work until what you want to become is what you are.

7) The road to improvement never ends. When you have one negative thing in your life, get rid of it, revel in the joy of doing so and then move on to other things that need improvement. InshaAllah one day you’ll be able to stand before Allah telling Him all about your journey of Tazkiyah (purification).

May Allah grant us all the ability to fulfill our obligations to our parents and to treat them with love and respect. May Allah open their hearts to understanding us better and ours to do the same. Ameen.

The Followers of Religion

Sometimes you think that the followers of religion will understand your concerns, your dreams, your caution, your fears and your efforts. Because they practice as you do and they strive as you do, but sometimes for them you are extreme and you stand all alone in an ocean of confusion where even the life buoy can’t wait to slip out of your grip because it is too overwhelming.

 

The Turner of Hearts (the Turner of Life too)

Change.

When it’s gradual, it allows you to build your personality and your character in a way that would allow you not only to survive in your different way of life, but maybe also succeed.

But what happens when in one instant your *whole* world is turned upside down?

No notices, no warning, just the same attacks over and over.

You think it’s all over; that webs of frustration are now your weak homes and you’re just a mangled spider who needs to remake herself into another species to be able to survive.

But what if the Maker did not wish to see you change your identity? What if identity and behavior were actually related in ways way different than you had been taught? What if you were taught twisted notions of justice which you came to believe and then the verses came and slapped you in the face?

What does it feel like when conviction turns into confusion? What happens?

Chaos.

Chaos in the heart and mind and if a person’s intellect starts betraying him and his beliefs start failing him, what will behavior do? Behavior has no real mind of its own, but is a product of what’s inside.

How can a person correct what’s inside when the inside is unknown?

The hearts have been twisted, turned, pushed, pulled, stepped on and maybe even burned.

But He is the Controller of hearts, the Turner of Hearts.

He holds them in His Hands and flips them when He Wills.

Can you decide what you want to feel or do or become or does He have that
Power as well?

Answers to questions often come by seeking the answers from those who know.

Who has more knowledge than He?

If you seek guidance, you shall be guided, help and you shall be helped.

He turns away not except from those who turn away.

I turn to Him and say:

“Ya Muqallib al-quloob, thabbit qalbi ‘ala deenik”

(O turner of the Hearts, Turn my heart towards Your Religion).

My heart might be blinded by people, but the Holder of it knows what I want.

Because I seek not except the truth and I speak not except it too.