Lost in Prayer

When it’s good, pray. When it hurts, pray. When you don’t have the words, pray.

Some times it’s hard to face your Lord with your pained heart and everything you’re carrying, but who else can you go to with it except the One who created your heart and everything it holds?

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This World

Some people have said it’s a scary time to be Muslim right now, for obvious reasons. And I don’t know about that so much, but I do think it is a scary time to be human. It’s a scary time to drive on the road or stop at a traffic light; it’s scary to be in your house, even with burglar bars; it’s scary to walk into a corner shop or even in the mall; it’s scary to even watch the news.

The world is a scary place.

Yesterday, I watched a video of a young boy, 13 years old, being thrown around and kicked and stripped naked by prison guards in a prison in Australia. It crushed me. It angered and infuriated and enraged me. I couldn’t do anything to fix it. Today I saw a video of a small, tiny baby, not more than a couple weeks old, being wildly swooshed around in a bucket of water, held by the arms. Crying painfully. And I cried. Painfully. Real tears. I was writhing in my seat and couldn’t stand the aching that video caused me. It aches now recalling it. I was screaming silently at my screen while I watched. And I was angry that I even saw it at all — what good did sharing the video do? Does it stop the abuse? We don’t even see the identities of the women, so what can be done?? Why did you share it if nothing can be done about it?! I didn’t need to see it!

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NaPoWriMo Day 13: Footprints in the Sand

The prompt for Day 13 was to take a walk and to make (mental) notes on what we see on our walk, and incorporate these notes into our poem. I took a drive rather than a walk–but I walked when I got there, so I suppose it still counts. I’ve included some pictures of what the scene looked like, and these are what this poem is based on.

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Footprints in the Sand

Mountains block out the sun.
So immense,
So vast;
The light is beyond my grasp.
These mountains have me undone,
But the day has only just begun.

Ocean calm;
Heart feels peace.
But this is only a momentary lease.
Ocean-deep;
An endless sea.
Here we stand, we three.
Footprints in the sand,
My heart in my hand.
I’m still struggling to understand.

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Saving Private Does-Not-Want-To-Be-Saved

Have you ever gotten it into your head before that you can save somebody? Have you ever believed that you were that special person who would rescue that friend that you cared and worried so much about? You would be the one to show your friend that there is hope, that there is a better way. You would inspire that friend and be the reason she wanted to be saved. You would save her. You.

Really? You? What makes you think you’re so special? What makes you think that all the bad decisions that person has made, all the wrong roads that person has taken, were by accident, and that she was just waiting for you to come along with your in-built GPS, directing her to the “right road“? What makes you think that you could be the road map to righteousness and reformation? Are you even righteous and reformed yourself? How ridiculously self-righteous of you.

We cannot change anyone. We cannot save anyone who a) does not want to be saved, and b)–much more obviously, and much more significantly–Allah does not want us to save. Everyone’s road is set out for them. It might be the wrong road for us to take on our journey, but it is precisely the right road for that traveller’s journey. Our understanding of what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ may be slightly warped–or maybe only mine is. I used to believe in what-is-right-for-me-is-right-for-you. But it’s not. What is right for me may be right for you–some day. But not today. Today, I need to let you take your own road. Go your own way, travel your own journey. If we do not, ultimately, end up travelling the same road, I will know that I had at least told you about the road I was on, I had shown you some of the treasures I had found along the way–and that is all I can do. If you choose not to take the same road, that is your decision. And I cannot change it. No matter how much I wish for it.

So, go your way. May it lead to something great. And pray for me that my road, too, leads me to a beautiful destination. Ameen.

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Have you ever experienced (what I like to call) the Saviour Complex? Were you successful in your ‘mission’? Share your thoughts with me below.

Things I Should Have Said

A few days ago, as I was sitting on one of the benches in Canal Walk, waiting on my sister while she was in one of the shops, I overheard a gentleman explaining to another gentleman (some friend or acquaintance of his) the philosophy behind the trinity and quoting lines out of Genesis and some other religious texts in which he believes. I listened with growing curiosity, as my knowledge of the belief system of Christians is quite limited, as well as their division of the different sects (is that what they are called?) and what they each respectively believe in.

Here’s the little that I do know: they (or some of them) believe in the notion of the ‘trinity’, that god is divided into three entities — the father, the son and the holy spirit. But these three seemingly separate entities are, in fact, believed to co-exist within one divine being — god. So, this kind of boggles my mind and I’ve always found it really difficult to make sense of. And then here, right next to me (well, with a sufficiently halaal distance between us, of course :P), I had a man who firmly believes in this concept of god trying to explain it to another gentleman who appeared to be confused by it all (I think the first man was trying to convert the second man). So I lent my ears out, wanting to hear this man’s explanation. It still didn’t seem to make sense though. What he was saying was just a rehash of everything (and by that I mean ‘the very little’) I had heard before: “God is three… but… one…” Hmmm… yeah. That still doesn’t really explain anything to me.

Front of the Quran
The Qur’an

As I was sitting there, listening to this gentleman explain his beliefs to the other man, with none of them really making much sense to me, I badly wanted to interject and explain to him what I believe. I wanted to tell him that God is One. That He is Self-Sufficient, that He is neither a father, a son, nor a holy spirit. He is Allah (God). He doesn’t need anyone to assist Him in being the Lord of man and all the worlds; he doesn’t need to be a three-in-one version. He is the All-Mighty, the All-Knowing, the All-Powerful. He has no son (or daughters) and no father (or mother), and there is no entity which is co-equal to Him or which co-exists with Him. He is One [refer to Surah al-Ikhlas, The Qur’an, Chapter 112].

But I said nothing.

I just sat there and listened. I wish I had had the courage to say these things, but I didn’t know how to tell a complete stranger that everything he believes does not make sense. How do you tell anyone, stranger or not, that the beliefs upon which they’ve based their whole life is baseless? And aside from that, there is the fact that they were men. And I am a Muslim woman. And my hijab extends further than just the scarf on my head. So I couldn’t just randomly talk to these strangers. But regardless, I feel that, as a Muslim, I should have said or done something. But, instead, I sat there until it was time to leave, and then I walked away. I left the one man to continue believing what he does, and I let the other man be open to the possibility of believing in a three-in-one version of god.

The Prophet Muhammad (may the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) is reported to have said:

Whoever of you sees an evil must then change it with his hand. If he is not able to do so, then [he must change it ] with his tongue. And if he is not able to do so, then [he must change it] with his heart. And that is the weakest [effect of] faith.

[Reported by Muslim]

So, taking this hadith into consideration, what do you think I should have done? What would you have done differently?

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Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.

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Conceited Humility

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The human ego is a thing of wonder. We need it in order for us to achieve our goals and to be successful at what we do; we need to believe that we are worth it, that our efforts are worth it, and that we deserve good in this life. Otherwise, without this sense of ‘entitlement’ (for lack of a better word), we may run the risk of under-achieving, of slacking, because we don’t have enough pride in ourselves and our efforts to do our best at it.

On the flip side, however, this same human ego that we need in order for us to be successful at what we do, can be the very cause of our downfall. If our egos get too big, and we start having an exaggerated sense of entitlement, believing that we deserve the best, or that we are the best, for whatever misguided reason, then this is when our egos become our enemies — as the popular phrase goes: ‘I’m my own worst enemy’, and, in essence, this is what happens when we do ourselves the disfavour of allowing ourselves to believe that we are great and awesome, and that we are above the rest. Because, one day, when Disappointment, Sadness, Hurt and Failure inevitably come knocking at our doors (even if we try to ignore them and hope they go away), we will be ill-equipped to handle them, because we wouldn’t have expected these unwelcome visitors to push down the door and make themselves comfortable in our lives. We will be too caught up with our self-image, our own sense of entitlement, our belief that ‘these bad things can’t happen to me, it’s not fair!’

So where do we draw the line between a ‘healthy’ ego and an ‘unhealthy’ one? How do we keep self-confidence from turning into self-pride? I don’t assume to know all the answers, but I would like to take a guess and say that the key is humility. But what is humility, really? Is it shyly looking away when someone gives you a compliment? Is it outwardly downplaying your achievements and success so that people don’t think you’re too proud of yourself, while inwardly, you really are?

I once knew a man who would often reflect on particular situations he had found himself in, where he was in a position to exert his ‘power’ or ‘status’, but had chosen not to, and he would say about it: “…and I was so humble.” Uhm, excuse me? Do you attempt to proclaim your own humility?

C.S. Lewis once said:

If a man thinks he is not conceited, he is very conceited indeed.

It is almost as though Lewis had said that quote about this particular person because he is certainly the embodiment of it. No person who claims to be humble is truly humble, for indeed, true humility is not pronounced by its bearer. True humility is manifest in all one’s actions, even in one’s non-actions.

One dictionary defines humility as:

…(having a) modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance (or) rank.

While another says:

It is the opposite of aggressiveness, arrogance, boastfulness, and vanity.

If this is what it means to be humble, if we were to practice true humility within ourselves, sincerely thinking modestly of ourselves and our level of importance, then surely, when Disappointment, Rejection and their friends come to visit us, we will be able to invite them into our humble homes, serve them with grace and dignity, and perhaps even invite another Friend over to join the party, and that Friend will really turn things around for us, making the sting of Disappointment and the gang hurt a lot less — that friend is the Almighty, the Most-Merciful. When we realise that nothing is in our control to begin with, that it is all in His Decree — whether I got rejected by that person, or humiliated myself in front of another person, or lost the respect of someone else through some human mistake I’ve made — then we realise that there is no sense in lamenting over it and in beating ourselves up about it, because why would we want to hurt ourselves even further? Why would we want to be our own enemies? And if we rely on the solace and comfort of our Most-Merciful and Most Compassionate Creator, then we have found the Best Comfort, the Best Friend.

So, it is not enough to only act humble, we have to be it, too.

The spiritual warrior is he who breaks an idol; and the idol of each person is his ego.

-Imam Abul Qasim al-Qushayri

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