Some Things Need to Break in Order to Work

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.

Like sand.

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.

A.S.

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Run, Pause, Think – & Zoom Off Again

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The thought of changing your daily lifestyle, or letting go of something major, at the expense of an established comfort zone, can be a little unsettling.

And one day, you wake up and the thought is there.

It is then that it suddenly hits you how you are so busy in your routines and efforts to make the world go round, that you never ponder to think if this is really where you want to be. Is this really what I want to do? Am I investing my energies in the best possible manner? Am I spending enough time with those who are closest to me? Am I doing this thing right?

Your whole energy appears to be connected to developing the community in one way or another (and الحمد لله for that). But… wait… this community is comprised of individuals, including yourself…

Have you ever considered before developing others, if you are also developing yourself?

Sometimes you have to pause.

I am going to talk of someone, whom I will keep anonymous. (She has given me permission to write about her and even proof-read this.)

One fine morning, she pressed the Pause button.

This woman has been involved in so many activities in her community for as long as she can recall, seeming to be everywhere at once. She has recently confessed to me that she is exhausted.

Not exhausted with helping others – but exhausted with her own broken promises to help her own self flourish and grow.

I’ve been wanting to do W, X, Y, Z for the past several years,” she says, “but there never seems to be ‘enough time’. I am like too much peanut butter spread on too little bread.

When prodded, she further explains, “There are interests I wish to pursue at a greater level than the mediocre level that I am at. But never any time for the extra courses. There are knowledges I wish to delve into, languages I want to learn, a little more than the mediocre surface I’ve merely skimmed across. But never any time to empty my mind of worries connected to fulfilling so many little obligations that become a mountain, and absorb a new world. There are skills I have long been aware I am lacking, that I only know the very basics of. But never any time for practicing them.

This thinking puzzled me initially. Is the problem really that there is “never any time”? Plenty of people manage to do a gazillion things at once. In fact, many people are doing as much as she is, times five!

At this, she seems a little embarrassed – but says straight-up, honestly: “Yes, I am aware. In fact, this is why I’ve kept prolonging my goals… because I keep comparing myself to others, and thinking I can manage exactly as they do. And maybe I could, if I was as self-disciplined. But at this stage of my life, I am not so. I hate to say it, and it’s shameful to admit it, but despite how highly people regard me, I personally feel very average simply for lack of attempting to excel, and this makes me weak. There, I said it. I am weak, and cannot focus on a million things at once without the result being that I’m mediocre in a million things and not very good in any one field.

Then again, a weak person just needs training to be strong. But that training takes time.

If I can cut down doing some of the things I am doing, things that anyone else can do instead, as good (or even better!) than I… this will allow me to re-direct my extra time and energy into what will strengthen me, both academically and emotionally. Very soon again, I will resume being as busy and “involved” as I ever was, except perhaps with even more zeal now that I’d feel a little bit more myself…

colors of life

This made me consider it. We’re in a culture that is fast-paced and expects us to keep meaningfulness in what we do, doing it faster… and she’s gotten tired of running this race. She needs a time-out to reconsider where her track is leading.

Yeah. I get it. Don’t we all need our time-outs?

May God keep her, you & all of us steadfast on His path, and may He remind us to continually keep checking our intentions again and again.

The moral of the story is: it’s OK to pause; It’s OK to confront one’s flaws, just as long as one is ready to begin fixing them.

Above all, it’s OK not to run, and simply slow down

(for the sake of soon zooming off much faster in the right direction إنشاء الله).

Finally, never forget that every success and every so-called failure, happens through the will of God.

When you find yourself running… Pause. Think. And zoom off again.

And Allah knows Best.

A.S.

“I’m Fine.” … But Are You?

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“How are you doing today?”

“Oh, I’m good. Just fine actually.”

… Are you?

On the way to work, on a bumpy road inside a crowded city bus, I often find myself thinking about the most random of thoughts.Today’s spontaneous reflections revolved around a word.

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I muse over this word – good. This simply spelled and spellingly simple one-syllabus sound that everyone, including myself, quickly claim to live within. Some call it fine; some well. It’s still all good.

Now let’s see: my day was good. Your day was good. Things are good here and things are good there. Apparently, we’re all just a bunch of content folks, always feeling good about our circumstances… all day, everyday. (That’s “good”, no?)

Interestingly, we all say “I’m good”, although we may be experiencing very different things, perhaps dramatically so. It only makes me wonder: when good is associated with such vague implications, often followed with little to no explanations – that one word keeping the listener hanging in suspense as to what good could possibly mean to the speaker – it sometimes makes me muse:

Do we even know what being “good” is at all, at the frequency that we use it?

Perhaps we all do, and here I am senselessly over-thinking something (wouldn’t be the first, and certainly won’t be the last time). Let’s look at this optimistically: perhaps we DO all have this invisible yet present voice within us that assures us, “tired you may be right now, emotionally exhausted you might feel, but HEY, things are good! Yeah, you tell’em the way it is! Things are fine, baby!” So you happily trust your instinct and blurt out “I’m fine!” with such adorable confidence, that it is only after you have spoken you realize the other hadn’t finished asking the “how are you” question. (Oops.)

But then again… maybe we don’t know what good is at all. Maybe we still don’t know ourselves well enough to understand how we’re feeling and why. Perhaps this is why we seek refuge in the all-encompassing “good”, “well”, “fine”, and thus successfully and gracefully sneaking out of possibly opening up to one another.

Ok, please allow me to be clear about something before you misunderstand the point of this post:

I’m not here to tell you to always be so explicit about your daily business to EVERY “how are you” you receive out of mere politeness. I know a lot of people don’t really want to know, or really care, how you’re doing.

But there are people who do care, and by simple means of a habitual response we give automatically- that “I’m fine” without thinking – sometimes walls that are not intended to be put up are suddenly there. Because the asker is left wondering, Um, should I prod further? Or is this brief answer an indication to keep my nose out of it? The question hangs nervous in midair, like a pair of shoes dangling from cables outside uncertainly.

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But if there is someone you truly care about, and all you’ve been recieving from her or him lately is “I’m good/fine” responses the past few times you’ve asked how are you out of genuine concern for their happiness… then perhaps you may want to tentatively start knocking down that invisible wall that mysteriously started to separate you two without either of you noticing it was being built through all those awkward silences.

“I’m glad to hear you’re doing good. So… Can you tell me what good is for you?”

Don’t do it out of nosiness. Don’t do it just because you’re curious, but have no plans of actively listening should the other suddenly break down in tears before you, or burst out with exciting news. Don’t do it as a social experiment to see how easily people will open up to you – because it seems that more and more people want to open up in this individualistic world that seems so closed.

Do it because you care. If society is going to keep playing the “hi how are you, oh I’m fine, goodbye now” boring game without reason, except to keep up conventional niceties – then we are going to simply become robotic in our interactions with one another.

I mean well, and I truly hope you are well, good and fine when you say you are, in the true sense of the word:

good word

So how are you doing? 🙂

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(And God knows Best.)

-A.S.

Imagine Time Differently

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Time. Imagine we imagined it differently.

We use it to set deadlines for ourselves, to be efficient, to develop punctuality as a trait, to set meeting times. We use time.

We use it to remind us when to put aside our distractions and pray, to help us realize if a goal is realistically attainable or not, for storytelling purposes, and to describe it with calendars and stopwatches. We use time.

We use it to determine if someone has learning disabilities, for communication within relationships, for organizational structures… And all the while that we try to capture the most of time, the clock hand is going tick tock tick tock tick tock…

Time.

We use it for so much more than even this.

How wonderfully simpler life becomes for us if we used time in a way to help us achieve our goals, rather than making it the end goal in and of itself.

Wouldn’t life be ideal if time was a friend for us, and not an enemy?

Imagine we used time as a tool to guide us, rather than as a factor to judge us.

Imagine we didn’t rush to label people as lazy, stupid, or “learning-disabled”, all because they couldn’t memorize a book’s worth of contents as rapidly as some other kids; they simply needed more time to process the information.

Imagine we didn’t pride ourselves on how little time a task was done, all because we fooled ourselves we were ‘saving time’ in the process, while really what we were doing was building weak unstable foundations that would take so much more time in the future to re-build.

Imagine we taught the importance of deep change, and taught that real change occurs in incremental bits over an extended period of time, and it’s OK that just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, our world now won’t heal itself in a day either.

Imagine we stopped making rash decisions based on our desire to speed things up, and learned patience from our wise elders that are viewed by the younger generation as merely foolish and “behind the times”.

Imagine we cared more for effectiveness as a value, rather than solely focusing on efficiency.

Imagine that we understood the significance of time as a companion in helping us build solid relationships out of trust, understanding and empathy, which takes real commitment and silencing of the ego – no easy, rapid feat – rather than expect “love at first sight” split seconds to determine one’s fate.

medieval-clock

Imagine we understood that time is for us, and not against us.

There as a light to help us on our journey, but we spend our lives cursing it and viewing it with a form of hatred – popular quotes such as “time is a slut, she screws everyone over” emphasize this.

Does time, our well-meaning companion, screw us over,

or do we ignore her presence and then by default, screw ourselves?

 

“Many people take no care of their money till they come nearly to the end of it,

and others do just the same with their time.” – Goethe

 

Truly, time is remarkable. Let us marvel that we are even allowed to exist within its frame, and stop considering it lacking simply because we don’t own eternity of it.

And God knows best.

A.S.

Life’s Plot Twists

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I read an amusing quote this morning that made the writer in me smile:

“When something goes wrong in your life, just yell, “Plot twist!” and move on.”

I really liked it. As I had just completed reading Pride and Prejudice this morning, it all rang more in my mind. Upon editing some photographs I took over the weekend, it occurred to me that the combination above of the two photos can visually summarize the ‘life is full of plot twists’ notion…

Sometimes you think you’re at the top of the world – internal Superman – with your facts, smugness, and attitude; only for some concealed points to be revealed. Suddenly your situation is flipped upside down on its head so abruptly in a dramatic “plot twist”. Somehow you’re still standing, but you’re confused where you now stand and it all seems a bit absurd. Your prejudices are made apparent to you, and maybe even your pride.

Your life story is a plot, and whenever your expectations or assumptions are shunned, a plot twist of some sort occurs. Good or bad, they are worth living. And besides – they were always meant to live. Ali Ibn Abi Talib said,

“Oh God, when I lose my hopes and plans, help me remember that Your love is greater than my disappointments, and Your plans for my life are better than my dreams.”

I await to see what the next chapter of my life holds.

And God knows Best.

🙂

-A.S.

The Astonishing Thing

 

 

 

The astonishing thing about certain people

Is that they’re not very much like all other people.

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Some people are like the sparkling starry sky

Who continue to shine out and reflect in mortals’ eyes

Years long after they’ve gone down the road

Who even in the distance, make an impression bold

A star that persists to burn brightest

Even when the nights are darkest –

Yes,
Some people are like stars.

Some people are like the mountainous landscapes

But whose greatness is determined neither by size nor strength

But rather by noble and quiet deed

Upon the praising of God do their souls deliciously feed

A mountain that maintains its pegs in the mantle below

While peaking upwards to the sky, aspiring further to go –

Yes,

Some people are like mountains.

Some people are like a luscious forest of trees

Whose roots are firmly grounded to earth, in humility

Whose hearts experience rebirth, seeking His Majesty

A tree that starts from a seed, and soon, behold

Its mysteries contained of beauty and stories of old –

Yes,

Some people are like trees.

Some people are like the soothing wind

A cool gentle breeze, just as soon as you please

A wind that takes one’s breath away

Whose wisdom makes one’s thoughts joyfully stray

(And since the breeze don’t show it,

Of its awesomeness, it don’t know it) –

Yes,

Some people are like the wind.

All people are like people,

But some people are beyond

Some people are like the guiding stars,

The glorious mountains,

The fruitful trees,

The merciful breeze,

And all things in this world that God makes beautiful.

Yes,

Some people are all these things,

And some people are more, too

For what’s most astonishing of all,

Is that some people,

Are you.

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A.S.

Purify Within To Succeed Without

 “Verily, the believers have succeeded.”

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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.

Let’s explore.

~

  • Once upon a time in Mecca, the Prophet Muhammed (صلى الله عليه و سلم) informed his people,

“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.

  • A small while later, people came to the Prophet’s wife, Aisha, رضي الله عنها , and inquired as to the character of the Prophet.

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:

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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.

Painting by Rae Chichilnitsky

Painting by Rae Chichilnitsky

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.” [1]

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:

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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…

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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.

Ameen!

Ameen!

And Allah knows Best.

 

A.S.

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Sources:

Imam Zia’s tafseer of first 10 verses of surat Al-Mu’minoon

Nouman Ali Khan: Characteristics of the Believers Khutba

[1] 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, p.22 (Stephen Covey)

Reflections from Surat Al-Baqara {Part 1}

Surat al-Baqara is a beautiful chapter of the Quran. I don’t read this often enough! The long length of it discouraged me in the past, I suppose. Well, careful reading and contemplation of the verses the starting days of Ramadan has me thinking that it’s worth reading again and again and again… I was hoping to condense all my thoughts on this surah in one blog post, but that’s laughably ridiculous because I might as well publish a book (OK, huge exaggeration). I shall inshaAllah share some of my insights in separate parts. I am in no means a scholar, yet I am writing these thoughts to remind myself to keep on reflecting, not simply skim and read.

Bismilleh. 

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Verse 2:74 

Hearts & Rocks

A rock is deemed to be the hardest thing, and the strongest things are made from rock, such as mountains and the Earth’s crust. But when a rock is used as a simile for a person’s organ, such as “he has a rock for a brain” or “a rock for a heart”, this is most certainly not commendable; it means this person’s mind is in the wrong place, and it means one’s heart may be acting as a bystander to cruelty because his actions seem to indicate he is a heartless man.

So what degree of extreme transgression can we make when God Himself tells us that there are hearts that can be even harder than rocks?

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The imagery brought on by this ayah is both heartwrenchingly beautiful yet frightening at the same time. The beauty comes from the description of stones gushing out water: truly, when stones get fissures and eventually erode, tree roots and water alike can infiltrate through them. What would be the metaphor for water gushing out a human heart… love, compassion, mercy, hope, trust, faith…?

This remains to be one of my favorite verses. May God open our hearts to be flooded with crashing waves of understanding and wisdom.

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Verse 2:83

Harmonious Society

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Notice the order of the covenant:

  1. Worship God (only your soul benefits)
  2. To parents and relatives (family) do good
  3. Then to orphans and needy (society) do good
  4. Then to people.

A harmonious society is built from the inside out; from the individual to the crowd, from the intention to the action, from one’s soul to external things, from the single household to the society.

Sadly what we often see these days are people sucking up to other people, overly praising them for personal gain, while neglecting to give these kind words to their own family members. It is like purchasing a newly built house, convinced by the artistically painted and decorated outer appearance- yet its very foundation is faulty and shaky, and it collapses before it has a chance to be lived in.

Inside out. If you’re not taking care of your soul by visiting He who can heal it and mend it for you daily through prayer, all other good deeds you do will not benefit you in any way.

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Verses 2:115, 142, 177

East and West

The concept of worshiping Allah regardless if you are east or west repeats several times in this surah. There is not a particular place on earth that has the truth.

east and west

How often have we been doing something out of cultural habit and confused it with being a part of the religion? For most of us, we were facing east without questioning whether Islam and some of those cultural practices were contradictory to begin with.

Similarly, how many of us in the west have deliberately rejected to do something those of the ‘east’ do, assuming it is culture when its basis is actually in Islam?

As God Himself tells us in the Quran, truth is clear and falsehood is clear. East or West, God’s pleasure can be equally sought inshaAllah.

verse 115 verse 142 verse 177

Comes as quite a shock, for everyone actually, to simply acknowledge that God is neither here or there, but that God is everywhere…

allah wicked screensaver

Allah knows best.

I shall conclude this post with a new favorite quote by Mustafa Hosny:

If you make God’s pleasure your ultimate concern, God will take care of your concerns. 

إذا جعلت رضا الله همك، تكفل الله بما أهمك

~

Peace/Salam!

A.S.

[Translations from: http://quran.com/2]

Goin’ With The Flow

I met someone the other day. The encounter made me a little sad; she was everything I’d expected but fervently hoped not to be. How can anyone live a life without meaning or purpose… just going with the flow… like a captain on a ship who has neither compass on hand nor is willing to try steering the ship, but merely vainly hoping the flow will take the ship somewhere totally worth it in the end. Just goin’ with the flow. May God enlighten all of our paths with the light of true meaning and hope.

Goin’ With The Flow

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Do what I’m told cuz my soul has been sold

To the greedy sleazy manipulative persons

Whose words are all lies, deceit, bribes and cursin’

But no need to stress because no fuss, yes–

I’m just goin’ with the flow cuz it’s all I know.

Drink til I’m brain dead cuz I should, they said

Forget who I am cuz I don’t have a plan

Avoid thinking real for fear that I might kneel

To a power higher than my physical desires–

So I’ll just go with the flow cuz it’s all I know.

For a moment I see a light, and there might be more to life

I stare mesmerized at it, but I don’t think I can fit

I’m not used to making rules, I’m usually just a tool

To advance someone’s agenda, swallow in the propaganda…

So I’ll just go with the flow cuz it’s all I know.

Please understand, your opinion determines if I fall or stand

I’m just afraid of being judged, afraid they’ll hold a grudge

They who hold the power to my self-esteem in low esteem

But still I worship the ground they walk because for me at least they talk…

For I’ve no words to say, even if I did I couldn’t say’em anyway-

It’s tough; this materialistic life is rough

So it’s easier to put on a show and pretend that I know

When all I really know is… you know–

How to go with the flow cuz it’s all I know.

So I’m back to square one before I even left it

I’d rather be invisible in a crowd than a visible misfit

Rather be a nameless face, from memory easily erased

Than to make a momentary effort of thinking graced-

There isn’t much that I know

Except how to keep silent and go with the flow.

I’ll keep an open-mind but there’s actually strings behind

I’ll text long distance on my phone but remain in my safe zone

Of not thinking, not reflecting, not ever questioning why

Why I’m doing, how I’m doing, should I be doing this til I die–

All I know is that I go with the flow cuz it’s all I know.

A.S.

Days, Nights & Hearts

*Dedicated to Rwan, who is the sister that shares a room with me and is gracious & kind enough to never mind it when I put the lights on while she is still asleep.

*Inspired by surat Al-Hadeed.

what we soil

Translation: “He merges Night into Day, and He merges Day into Night; and He has full knowledge of the secrets of (all) hearts.”

Normally when I come across that exquisitely divine verse, my mind immediately begins to visualize

a beautiful horizon,

artistically colorful skies while the sun sets or rises,

the stunning glory of His creation–

colorful-summer-sunset-41129

One can’t help but be in awe of such Majesty!

But on a smaller scale– it made me think of something else today. Something so simple, so mundane, so not-sophisticated-and-wondrous, that I am astounded and even slightly ashamed why it only occurred to me until now. (Yeah, I know you’re hanging there in suspense right now, so I’ll be a little more explicit.)

OK, let’s pause for a moment, and stop visualizing sunsets and skies for a moment.

Let’s consider vocabulary.

هو يولج: “Allah merges“… MERGES. What does it mean to merge something into another?

According to dictionary.com:

I have never properly considered the blessings of the day merging into the night. But imagine this: imagine during nighttime, the sky is black. And then without warning, come dawn, just like a light switch, your room is flooded with bright sunshine. The result will be you waking up every morning dazed, annoyed, blinded temporarily and unable to do anything but squint, and last but not least, you will be wondering if you’re still asleep and this is part of a dream, or you’ll wake up totally confused wondering what your name is, where you are or who you are–

BASICALLY, sort of like this, to summarize it:


Something so simple, just thinking about how you wake up, and how Compassionate God is to allow us to gradually, slowly and peacefully get out of bed, escapes our minds often. Sure, most of us are too lazy and tired in the morning to appreciate waking up from our sweet dreams, but at least we’re not crashing into walls because our eyes simply can’t open and function.

But that’s not all. (I hope you didn’t think I was gonna end this post with a jungle man from Jumanji.)

desert_sunrise_1206

The ending of the ayah is such a comfort, that I prefer to think of it as the very essence of bliss…

“… and He has full knowledge of the secrets of (all) hearts.”

I think the basic need of every human being is to be loved, but you can’t love someone you don’t know. No matter who you meet that tells you they love you, you might always have this seed of doubt in you that tells you: but they don’t know EVERYTHING about me. If they knew about X, Y or Z, would they still like me as much? So in reality, you probably wouldn’t want someone knowing everything about you. We all have a certain degree of ugliness in us, let’s be completely honest– otherwise there would be no need for inner-self jihad as a lifelong journey.

But supposing you knew someone, who did know even the ugly details of you, and still loved you all the same. There would never be anything that can replace the value of such a relationship.

Well, God is that some (and only) One. He has the full knowledge of what is in your heart, and still loves you enough to welcome you again and again, every time you forget and then remember, every time you sin and then repent, every time you reject and then accept…

Basically, every time you stray and get lost, His door is always open for you to come back home.

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~And Allah knows best.

–A.S