Leash For My Heart

Staircase Break

I found myself musing this week over the state of my heart when it wanders off.

Sometimes I’m on something I can only liken to a spiritual high. Not the highest, surely… but it is close to what I imagine bliss to feel like. There’s simply nothing that is able to shake me away from this tranquility, happiness and love.

But sometimes it’s not that magical. You wake up and all you can think about is the one topic, the one subject, that you know you shouldn’t even be stressing about… because it’s not in your control. You’ve done all you can do, and what’s left on your part is tawakkul. (Oh, that powerful one word: tawakkul… you’d think it would be as easy to carry out as it is to write.)

The heart is a wondrous thing, it can be pulled in such extremely opposite directions that I often wish I had some sort of mystical leash that I can wrap around it.

(Here, little hearty… come back here! You’ll hurt yourself.)

But sadly, these useful leashes do not exist.

Or do they?

Rope of God

I love metaphors because it gives me an opportunity to reflect deeply on them as my imagination runs wild. Since what popped out instantly to me in this verse is the idea of rope of God, I allowed my thoughts to leap across mountains & fly through the clouds, until something settled and made a little sense in my consciousness.

(Please be aware I am representing no opinions here but my own. And I am not a scholar of any sort.)

What if we were all people stuck at the bottom of a pitt, needing to be rescued? The presence of the rope alone will not benefit you – you must take action, grab the rope and climb it.

Good grip? Still not enough; you have to hold firmly with conviction. You must hold on to it with certainty, without ignorance or blind faith. You may not see what is at the other end of the rope, but you are confident it’s a way out. To do it half-heartedly and without passion is very dangerous; slipping off the rope is always there as a risk, if you don’t believe with all your might that holding on is worth it.

The rope of God”.  

Could the rope be the combination of the Qur’an & the Sunnah? Islam is inward and outward. If you don’t act while knowing something is the truth, you simply won’t benefit and will continue to wallow in your own self-pity. You’ll be stuck at the bottom of the pitt with the rope dangling down to you, but if you don’t have faith that what you have leads you to the Light, to tranquility & bliss, why would you bother holding onto the rope and climbing it to possible disappointment, gaining nothing more than blisters along the way?

Islam is not something you can have blind faith in. Sure, there are certain metaphysical matters you may need to take a leap of faith – with the understanding that humans are souls that are trapped in physical bodies, and thus, we do not and cannot perceive all. Yet we are given enough to see, to observe, and to contemplate whether Islam’s final Prophet (peace & blessings be upon him) is truly a sign from God, and is truly a mercy to mankind. It turns out, for me at least, he is. Grabbing onto that rope is suddenly a means to an end, and not the end goal itself.

Now suppose you are at the bottom of a pitt of hopelessness, but your dilemma is not faith-related. Rather, it is something worldly… your career is going downhill. You are overwhelmed with a million things you have committed to with very little time on your hands. Relationship problems. Health declining. Self-esteem. And much more…

The heart may wander off far away from you seeking reassurance to these things, and the biggest problem is, without control over your heart, you know it’s getting even more lost and in despair. All you can think is how useful it would be to have a rope around it… and drag it back where it should be… Where heart agrees with mind…

That rope. The rope of tawakkul. Are you finding it? Look for it, but remember that it may not only be dangling before your eyes, but it might even be inside of you.

Inward and outward. Hope also comes from within yourself.

Bouquet

And Allah knows Best.

A.S.

Advertisements

Fasting: A Mercy

11111111111111

Abandoned Orange

Too often people acknowledge that man is weak & forget to point out that there are many reasons for that. One of these reasons, I believe, is so simple & obvious that I’m hesitant to even put it out there. But I shall do so:

(Wo)Man is created weak, so that he can seek the Creator, the source of all strength, and become stronger.

Note I used the term stronger & not strong, and that is deliberate… because man cannot ever be ‘strong’ in the sense that he is completely self-sufficient, completely empty of needs, and in sum, completely independent. No, man cannot be that strong on his own. Yet man may, and should, be getting stronger physically, emotionally, intellectually & spiritually all the time. It is a journey, a progress – not a final worldly destination.

Speaking of strength & weakness, C.S. Lewis has an eloquent saying in relation:

“We are far too easily pleased. God wants better things for us.

He finds our desires not too strong, but too weak.”

The truth of this quote especially strikes me at the beginning, and indeed throughout, Ramadan. As I eagerly looked forward to fasting in the blessed month of the Qur’an, the month in which the devil is chained & the gates of forgiveness are wide open – still many around me were expecting me to be in opposite spirits: dreading the 17 hours-a-day fasts. Yet I wasn’t. Why should I be?

Ramadan aside, let’s consider fasting on its own. Fasting in and of itself is not, and never was, solely limited to starving oneself. If all one gets out of a day’s fast is an empty stomach and an irritable attitude, then they haven’t really figured out what it’s all about. It would be absurd to believe that fasting is obligated on a believer simply to make him or her “suffer” for their belief.

Fasting, believe me,  is a whole other glorious level than that.

This Ramadan, I confirmed what most people would agree to be true enough –  that fasting as an activity itself, is not easy. But fasting has been a source of ease for me. And I cannot have been the only one…

3333333333

In the Qur’an, fasting and intends for you ease appear in the same verse. Allah (God) does not want to make things difficult for us, merely for us to be grateful…

I pondered on how has fasting been a source of ease for me, and surprisingly the list is very long. Here are only a few examples:

  • Easier for me to confront my flaws, with the assurance that He wants & believes that I can overcome them.
  • Easier for me to properly prioritize my responsibilities & duties to my loved ones and communities.
  • Easier for me to let go of empty attachments that has been previously eating away at my attention, which could have been much better served elsewhere.
  • Easier for me to focus on the task at hand, and give it my 100% presence.
  • Easier for me to remember that every moment not spent remembering Him is a wasted opportunity. (Oh, those prayer beads traveled every bus & metro ride with me!)
  • Easier for me to remember that I am a teacher, and whatever knowledge I have, I should definitely pass it down to the younger members of my precious family.
  • Easier for me to spend out of my pocket for others than myself.
  • Easier for me to smile, be unnaturally upbeat & optimistic. How can I not be, when my mind is containing an unusual surge of energy in my sleep-deprived & caffeine-lacking body? This can only mean He wants me awake seeking His pleasure. (How pleasant!)
  • Easier for me to implement goals and ideas I’d been putting off for way too long. Because honestly, if not now in this golden opportunity of a month, then when?

Truly, fasting is not easy…. but it is a source of ease and a means to challenge ourselves to flex our creativity & faith muscles in areas we didn’t have the guts or “time” to do all year long.

Fasting is a mercy.

To those who celebrated Ramadan: may you & I be several steps closer to God as a result. May we live to witness the next Ramadan in 2016. But until then…

Eid Mubarak!

n21

And God knows best.
-A.S.