Love will find you,
even if you’ve given up
It is, slowly,
creep on me.
I will hold my ground.
It shall not be
of shattered hearts.
Have you ever found your soul’s song scattered about?
There you are
Between bulky boulders and rocks
In quaint dessert cafés that barely sleep, no matter the clock
Among thorny plants and at the sight of a cactus
Under thick soft blankets that melt your coldness into bliss
During a simple olive-picking activity
Or when standing beneath the shade of a lemon tree —
Have you ever found your soul’s song scattered about?
Have you ever found your heart beats scattered about?
There you are
In a yellow taxi cab playing classical Fayrouz
During a road trip car playing Oumayma Khalil tunes
In a stab of nostalgia, hearing Rihanna in a Hebron shopping mall
At the sight of a man proudly galloping in traffic, on a horse so tall
Against the backdrop of scents, spices and music in the open marketplace
With the rhythm of footsteps walking distances in the lit-up night space —
Have you ever found your heart’s beats scattered about?
Have you ever found your mind’s thoughts scattered about?
There you are
In the eyes of kind, compassionate, down-to-earth people
As you acknowledge this land was walked on by prophets without equal
In the bubbling words of an enlightened, engaging conversation
Upon entering any shop that is casually playing Quranic recitation
In the sanctity of being in the Ibrahimi Mosque, or Cave of Patriarchs
In the old stone buildings, colourful fall vines, and structural archs —
Have you ever found your mind’s thoughts scattered about?
Have you ever found your soul’s song, heart and mind
Debating, wondering, arguing,
persuading, agreeing, disagreeing,
musing, guessing, being certain,
being uncertain, pondering, reflecting —-
On what home means?
On where home is?
Who home is?
Why home is?
Have you ever found your soul’s song, heart and mind scattered about?
And Allah knows Best.
-Written November 11, 2017
Some things need to break in order to properly work.
Like your heart.
Don’t deny the pain or run from its inflicts. When you feel it breaking your heart, accept it as a guest that is here to give you a gift.
A gift of a powerful, unforgettable lesson.
Embrace the wound as a strict but very knowledgeable teacher.
Beg it to break your illusion into a million shattered pieces.
Only worse than a broken heart, is a broken heart with illusions still clung to.
Let the wound take the false thinking and unrealized hopes you harboured in your heart for so long – and break them.
Break them into countless grain-sized pieces of glass.
Let the desert wind take them away from your heart and scatter them in unreachable places.
Let your heart break when it does.
Let it bleed with the pain of unfulfilled wishes.
Let it turn all those ocean-deep illusions you swam in, into mere foam.
Or dust. Sand.
Let the desert wind blow them away from your heart and scatter them in untraceable places.
Into the wilderness of nothingness.
They were nothing. But your real potential to be is everything.
Let your heart break so that your resolve solidifies and makes you the person you were always meant to be.
False notions and disappointing expectations no longer holding you back.
These unfounded whims, these vain desires, these mere dreams never meant to be…
Know they were making you weaker.
Your heart breaking is the freedom you need to let go and reach new heights.
This may be hard to believe now.
I know your heart is broken now.
I know your whole being feels like an ache in a sea of bottomless despair.
But reality is not your enemy.
The reality is, what you thought was good for you is not.
These shattered dreams may have turned into a living nightmare.
The One who holds your precious heart chose to break it – temporarily.
So that your spirit, your fierceness, your resolve, are not broken – permanently.
My mother always says an Arabic proverb: الله يرحم من بكاني
May God have mercy on the one who made me cry.
(This is not referring to tears caused by someone abusing another.)
This refers to someone who speaks an unwelcome truth, that it ends up hurting another.
Unwelcome, but true.
A truth which breaks our carefully thought-out dreams is unwelcome to us.
But truth is not the enemy.
The truth is, some things have to break.
Some things need to break in order to properly work.
Like the heart.
When you feel your heart break, let it.
When you feel those cracks form, let them.
I promise it will get better.
Be receptive to the light that comes in through the cracks.
Let your delusions crumble.
Crumble into sand and dust.
And may the desert wind blow these particles far, far away from you.
Before you know it, your heart will become lighter again.
You will swim to the top and keep flying higher.
You are more worthy than you realise.
Your fate is in His hands. (What better hands to trust your fate!)
Let your heart break, because it must.
But grieve not over the broken dreams.
You are yourself a dream being realised.
“When we least expect it, what’s in the way is the way. The broken door lets in the light. The broken heart lets in the world.” (Mark Nepo)
And God knows Best.
“I want to darken in the skies… Open the floodgates up… I want to change my mind… I want to be enough…
I want to let the rain come down, make a brand new ground
Let the rain come down. Let the rain come down, make a brand new ground
Let the rain come down.” (Sara Bareilles)
Do you know what I think is astonishing?
Never does a “bad” life event – defined as that which gives you unpleasant feelings in the pit of your stomach or emotional injury – occur, than it is rapidly or simultaneously followed by a flurry of goodness moments. The trick to letting the happy sprinkles of delight wash away the hurt needs a bit of practice to master – but once you learn it, it stays. That “trick” is to remain focused and aware on the certainty that right now is its own special gift; it is irrelevant to a month, day or even a minute ago; you are not alive to live it simply so you can relive the past, but to use it as an opportunity to seize whatever wild awesomeness is about to hit you.
Shams Tabrizi’s Rules of Love, Rule 28:
“The past is an interpretation. The future is an illusion. The world does not move through time as if it were a straight line, proceeding from the past to the future. Instead time moves through and within us, in endless spirals. Eternity does not mean infinite time, but simply timelessness. If you want to experience eternal illumination, put the past and the future out of your mind and remain within the present moment.”
Time and time again, I let “negative” experiences of disappointment, failure or heartbreak shadow the following days so darkly that I couldn’t appreciate sweet luxuries like the warmth of the sun, the soft gentle breeze, or even the blessed rain, on my face… as if I had no choice in the matter. But now, (I think) I know better.
There is a pattern, you see – a pattern I have began noticing, a pattern of merciful opposites. No sooner does a heavy burden weigh me downwards than a positive force, in the form of a success, pleasant surprise, or interaction with a kindred spirit, suddenly materializes to lift me back up. Rarely is a deep, painful ache in my heart felt than it is quickly joined by a flock of colourful butterflies, overwhelming gratitude and a resulting serenity with their peaceful coexistence. It’s all about balance.
But none of that will make a difference, really, if you are determined to believe the world is out to get you. Those conflicting emotions in you will not strike an equilibrium if you won’t let them settle; instead, they will form a tornado or chaotic hurricane within. And even if the reality is such that the world really is out to get you, you can’t succumb to the dreaded fear that He is, too. The moment you think that God can’t love you, then simply, it doesn’t matter who else does. Do not believe in what destroys you.
a lie is simply a lie.
it draws its strength from belief.
stop believing in what hurts you.
-power (Nayyirah Waheed)
On the contrary; I believe God wants us to soar above our mediocre aspirations. He makes us grow through conflicting states, so that we may learn balance with our two wings.“We are far too easily pleased. God wants better things for us. He finds our desires not too strong, but too weak” (C. S. Lewis).
Increasingly, when a disappointment befalls me, I try to be more hopeful than ever. The harder the fall, the higher the rise will be, will it not? It’s a blessing to know that my heart is in none other than God’s hands.
He is the only One Who really understands how to best protect it, and so He is the Only One Who has the right to truly hold it. In better hands, my heart can never be.
Trust that God is protecting your heart.
Even when it feels like it’s shattering in pieces.
And Allah knows Best.
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?
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.
And Allah knows Best.
It’s been a long time since I wrote an Arabic poem. Back in 2013 I was under the impression it was going to become a real hobby with me, and excitedly tried executing (and never finishing) a plan to become a wonderful Arabic poet. I wrote only one poem since then, dedicated to my mother on her birthday.
Here’s to many more, إنشاء الله. (Graciously edited by Zeina.)
نعومة بين يديه
~ آية صلاح
“Verily, the believers have succeeded.”
Beyond merely “living” (as in, existing), man ultimately wants to succeed in life – however the term ‘success’ is defined. The tricky part is, although we all have a good sense of what success looks like on the outside, we often find ourselves spending our entire lives reaching out for it; and sometimes, sadly, we do not feel we ever reach it.
I am not referring to worldly success such as fame and riches. I’m talking contentment, joy, satisfaction, and meaning… success that lasts in the long term.
But there is a way to reach it all. God does not only tell us we can in the Quran, he says we already have – emphasizing the certainty that, if particular measures are taken with sincerity, He will not deny us this sweetest victory over ourselves.
The truth is, there is no way to achieve real outwardly success- the permanent, lasting one – without gaining inner success.
You’ll have to purify within to succeed without. There’s no shortcut around it, no matter what all those false-promising ‘10 quick things you can do to be a happy and successful person‘ articles claim. Genuine success is not about quick fixes – it’s about real, honest work.
“Ten ayat have just been revealed upon me; whoever establishes them will enter Paradise.” Then he recited the first ten verses of Surat Al-Mu’minoon.
She responded that his manners were those of the Quran. Then she recited the first ten verses of Surat Al-Mu’minoon.
Time and time again, when I ask a knowledgeable person for which verses of the Quran to immediately focus on, memorize, or “start off” firmly establishing in my life, I am referred to the first ten verses of surat al-Mu’minoon. I figure writing a blog post about it will instill it in my heart, so here I am writing this and there you are reading it!
This chapter begins and ends with the promise of success:
Some things to quickly note:
-When the word “قد ” appears before a verb, it implies something that has occurred and is continuing to occur. (For example, قد قامت الصلاة) So, think of it like this… you, a believer, will succeed because God has seen you already do so. Hooray!
But it’s not quite as simple as that. It’s not just saying the shahada… it’s more along the lines of living it.
Another interesting Arabic linguistic observation: the word for ‘succeeded’ that is used is ” أفلح ” – which derives from the root word ” فلاح ” (farmer). Allow me to go into some more depth in this for a moment, and although it’ll appear to be tangent to this topic, it actually is extremely relevant:
Unlike our regular 9-hour daily paid jobs, in which we get paid every month or so, farmers don’t see the fruits of their efforts for almost an entire year. Day after day after day they work hard, whatever their moods may be; and they know if they slack off for just one week, there may be consequences for the entire year’s resulting crop.
To bring it back to the topic of success, which can be likened to the farmer’s crop – success is not a quick to-do action off a checklist. In this world where everything has become fast-paced and relentless, we’ve become impatient and want to speed even meaningfulness up. You cannot do that. Further, you cannot slack off and expect success to come your way anyways… (you must refuse to be what I call a Type C person!)
The following verses give us sort of a checklist of qualities, all connected to one another, of a mature believer – where do you stand? Judge yourself honestly, you will not get anywhere if you continue deceiving yourself.
In a nutshell, these are the main qualities a believer should strive to have – take out your checklists! 🙂
Khushoo‘ (خشوع) in prayer.
Are you humble in prayer and feel an awe and fear of God so deep it almost feels like it’s physically in your bones? Are you submissive with concentration & devotion without distracting yourself with petty thoughts? That’s khushoo’. It’s a lot tougher to work on internal issues than the external appearance of praying correctly. You must purify within to succeed without.
It’s comforting for so many of us (myself never excluded) to know we pray 5 times a day. We’re making time for our Lord and standing before Him. But are we really whole-heartedly, mind and soulfully, there? I do believe that’s a question that needs a lifetime of devotion to properly answer.
We spoke a little about farmers and the intense amount of work they must have. They cannot get all this work done efficiently if they don’t have a strict schedule to abide by. Why,
“Did you ever consider how ridiculous it would be to try to cram on a farm – to forget to plant in the spring, play all summer and then cram in the fall to bring in the harvest? The farm is a natural system. The price must be paid and the process followed. You always reap what you sow; there is not shortcut.” 
Farmers have strict schedules to follow – and our ‘strict’ schedule (though it is a pleasant sort of strictness) is the five daily prayers, minimum.
There is much more than can be said about prayer, but I’m not the one that should keep talking about it. I need to be doing it with more soul & heart before preaching to the choir… so let’s move on and look at the next characteristics of the successful believer:
Turn away from ill speech (لغو).
” لغو ” has many possible interpretations, but many scholars agree it is idleness; whether this is in the form of actually lying, backbiting, cursing and insulting, falsehoods, vanity… basically, useless conversation that consumes one’s time.
God doesn’t just tell us to avoid “laghw”, but He instructs us to walk past it in a dignified fashion should we encounter it. Don’t allow the peer pressure of others to make you feel like you have to suck it up with them and waste your time listening to useless talk. Your time is worth more than that.
Which brings us back to the importance of respecting time… respecting schedules… ultimately respecting prayer.
Those who do zakaat.
This is a Meccan surah. When this verse was revealed, it was before financial zakat became an obligation. Further, if the verse was referring explicitly to monetary charity, it might have instructed us to give zakat, as opposed to do it. So what is zakat?
First, let’s give a metaphor. Imagine your dishes at home. You wash them every day. Try eating the usual amount of food for one day, just one day – and ignore the dishes. What horribleness will you awaken to! And how much harder is it to get rid of the filth! Well, your heart needs a polish not just now and then; the Ramadan once a year is not sufficient. Boy, girl, you’ve got a LOT of stains on that heart, and until you realize your own flaws, no one else can get rid of them!
Zakaah means purification. To be a successful believer, you must constantly, and consistently, purify yourself. Check your ego, ask forgiveness of sins you know and don’t know of, beg God to let you see through your own delusions… for we ARE delusional in terms of who we think ourselves to be, particularly in front of Allah.
For example, I think there’s something seriously wrong with feeling satisfied after a prayer – rather than feeling anxious if it had been accepted. We delude ourselves that we’re already all righteous and of course God is going to accept it. But where is our feeling of khushoo’?
Purify yourself. It sounds so simple and it requires no outside sources… except, of course, your willingness to admit you badly need it.
Guarding one’s chastity.
Shamelessness between men and women is an already very obvious problem within many societies. I am not going to go to great depths on this issue, but needless to say, I quite agree with Nouman Ali Khan when he said (and I paraphrase):
It goes to show just how much harder we have to work to make our marriages beautiful, and romantic…
that’s part of our duty as believers! Make your marriages beautiful!
Guarding trusts and promises.
Do you make promises you intend to fulfill? Me, too. Do you make promises you guard with all your might to see fulfilled?
Hmm. What’s up with the typical “yes inshaAllah, I’ll try be there” that somehow is now sadly assumed between Muslims as “oh, she’s not coming”?
I believe promises should be guarded in the most excellent manner possible… which goes to say that even a promise on something so trivial, such as attending an event on Facebook, should be guarded! If one is not sure whether he/she will make it or not, it’s OK; put yourself as maybe attending; but by putting an “Attending”, you are making a false promise to the organizers of the event.
Am I making a big fuss of this? Maybe. But I honestly believe that if the smallest details of our lives are taken care of, the humongous boulders will take care of themselves.
Abdullah ibn ‘Amr (RA) says that Rasulullah (SAW) said: “Four traits whoever possesses them is a hypocrite and whoever possesses some of them has an element of hypocrisy until he leaves it: the one who when he speaks he lies, when he promises he breaks his promise, when he disputes he transgresses and when he makes an agreement he violates it.” (Muslim and Bukhari)
Based on those criteria… while I won’t say our Ummah is full of hypocrites, but I boldly say that there is a lot of hypocrisy that goes on.
And it’ll always come back to prayer. If we can’t bring it in ourselves to fulfill promises to other folks, how can we honor our promise to their Creator? Salaat is a promise between you and God; guard such a promise and everything else will fall into place.
And now… we are almost at the end of these 10 verses…
Did I just say it all ends in prayer? The beginning and ending of the first 10 ayat of surat al-Mu’minoon concerns prayer.
May we all be of those who succeed in this world & the next…
May we all be of those who purify ourselves & enlighten the way for others to do the same…
And may we all be of those who are the inheritors of Jannatul-Firdaous.
And Allah knows Best.
 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, p.22 (Stephen Covey)
*All references from Nouman Ali Khan.
Let’s break it down, shall we?
First off, I am a visual person so I needed to draw out what I was hearing from this RIS2013 talk. Sadly, my notes look like a bunch of scribbled words all over the place, so I’ll reveal it at the end of the post when you can easily look at it and know exactly what all the scribbles mean.
Nouman Ali Khan starts off by explaining in detail what the basic translation of the ayah is; then he proceeds to make a fascinating connection that will leave you breathless with amazement! (Stay tuned.)
Never forget that God cannot be explained or understood fully through a human’s mind… He is much too Great, Glory to He, for our limited minds to comprehend Him. Nonetheless, in His mercy, He knows that those who love Him strive to know Him, and gives us examples to help us relate to the reality of things.
“Like a niche“: A niche is an arch-like spacing in a wall to allow for a lamp to be placed within it. The shape of the niche is constructed such to allow for light placed within it to spread outwards. Here is a visually appealing example of a niche with a lamp inside it:
It’s nothing new that the lamp should be made of glass… but for the glass to be shimmering and luminous like a pearly white star, even before a flame is lit up inside of it? Hmm! So the lamp itself, flameless, is almost lighting up on its own. It’s pearly white, clean, pure.
*Note: the word used for lamp in the Quran is ‘misbaah’, which comes from the root word ‘subh’. ‘Subh’ means dawn, but it can also mean to be alert and awakened (“asbe7!”)
Now note: the lamp is inside a niche, which is inside a building. Yet Allah tells us in this example that the lamp is lit from the oil of a blessed tree; trees are outside. Blessed things are from outside this world. This lamp is indoors, yet its source comes from outdoors… interesting point to keep in mind.
the word used in the Quran for oil is ‘zayt’,
which comes from the word of olive oil,
“whose oil would almost glow even if untouched by fire”
Not only is the glass itself seemingly glowing without a flame, but so is the oil without the spark! Two sources of luminous matter interacting… what results in…
“Light upon light.”
and we know that
“Allah guides to His light whom He wills. And Allah presents examples for the people, and Allah is Knowing of all things.”
And now to blow your minds away. (Metaphorically speaking, that is.)
Take a moment to look at my scribbles below: they should make some sense now.
Prepare for a paradigm shift.
Look within yourself.
You have a rib cage. Inside the rib cage is the heart. Inside the heart is the ruh (or spirit).
Mind = blown!
Just as a niche’s purpose is to spread light outwards, so is our duty to spread our inner light out.
Just as the lamp is clean and shimmery, so is the heart initially at the time of birth; clean, flawless and bright.
Just as an unkempt lamp will get dusty with time, so does a heart rusty with sins or consistent in refraining from doing any good for the soul.
Just as the lamp is lit from the oil of a blessed tree, so are you, an ordinary earthly human being, lit up by something otherworldly, an outside source… by God Himself…
And just as the oil is initially luminous and blessed, so is your ruh… because it comes straight from Allah SWT. It is your essence, and if you do not actively keep a spark near it to light up your and others’ surroundings, then your inner light is of no benefit.
“The believer and his heart is necessary for dark times… What’s the point of a lamp if it doesn’t light its surroundings?” (Nouman Ali Khan)
Light upon light: the light of your ruh, and the light of Revelation.
May Allah guide us all to His light!
The heart can be a sly, sneaky and tricky thing.
WELL, actually, that would be a bit of an understatement. I’m not one to beat around the bushes so I’ll get straight to it.
The heart is a vulnerable fool.
Anyone and everyone will tell you that experiencing a whirlwind of emotions is inevitable, and sometimes drastically unpredictable; like a roller coaster that spins you in all the directions you last expect it will take you and leaves you light-headed and confused at the end. While these emotions can be good for the soul and sources of strength, sometimes they are not and merely steer your thinking from clear rivers into murky ponds of uncertainty.
When the heart is in one specific state, one may easily think it is a permanent or long-term one. If a distressful event happens, one may think they will never swim out of the ocean of sadness it creates- there is so much depth to it, surely the sadness is but a drowning flood that will never end!
Yet how often does God bring ease out of hardship, and the sadness passes? Like a storm that blackened the sky only seconds before a rainbow paints itself.
On the other hand, in a state of elevation or pure delight, we might believe we are forever going to be in this state of gratitude towards God. His blessings on us are accounted for, and we strongly believe nothing can make us forget it… in fact, it’s all we can think about at the moment!
Yet how often does man face calamity and forget all the good he has been given in the blink of an eye?
Such is the heart: it is that which simply flips into a different direction. ‘Heart’ in Arabic is qalb, and qalb means that which turns.
Simply: القَلْبُ: تَحْويلُ الشيءِ عن وجهه
I think the thinking we often have of others – she/he who is heartless, or she/he who has a good heart – are actually highly inaccurate modes of categorizing peoples because the thing is, hearts can change. Hearts DO change. I would hope change for the better of course, but you should never be too confident your currently ‘good’ state is infallible.
This is why in the Quran, the believers are not supposed to settle at the first sign of being guided, but rather, they must seek His help to remain on the path of purification…
… And keep seeking His help, and keep seeking his help, and never ever stop, because to leave yourself to your own devices is the worst thing you could ever do for your heart.
While life spins our minds into mazes and tricks our eyes through illusions, I pray that however the heart fluctuates, that it consistently finds its way back to equilibrium: a state in which the slave of God is always “loving Allah, knowing Him, remembering Him, seeking peace in Him, singling Him out for complete love, fear, hope and dependence– these are qualities that, when combined in a person, constitute a sort of heaven on earth.” 
May He bestow on all of us that steady state for the heart, sakina… a sort of heaven on earth that lives within us, and blossoms out.
And Allah knows best.
 – Don’t Be Sad, Dr. ‘A’id al-Qarni, pg.345