It’s a comeback! Actually, probably not. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There’ll probably be another hiatus of several months after this — let’s keep it real.
The cause of me popping my blogging head out into the light of day at last is because I was nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award. The idea of this Award is that one blogger nominates eleven other bloggers and poses eleven questions to them. Then those eleven bloggers must answer those questions in a blog post and nominate eleven more bloggers, to whom she must pose eleven new questions which they must answer. And repeat. Eleven is the magic number here.
It’s an ongoing cycle into forever — unless one or more of those eleven is like me and puts off the challenge for many weeks or just never gets to it, leading to a catastrophic break in the cycle… Yikes.
Dear Ruqaiyah, this moment you’re in right now, this is the moment to do something. To start something. Stop waiting for tomorrow, next week, or next month. Start now.
Dear Ruqaiyah, happiness is here. Right here, where you are now. It’s not a destination you need to reach ‘someday’. It’s not some place you need to travel to, or arrive at. You simply have to be here, now; you simply need to breathe in, breathe out, and remember your Lord. Here, now. Be happy.
Shaytaan is sneaky. He is the bad guy in this story; he also goes by Satan, Devil, The Biggest Loser… whatever floats your boat. He is cunning and sly, and oh so smart. We almost never see him coming, and then before we know it he is just there next to us. And before we can turn our backs to him we’ve done or said something stupid that we wish we hadn’t. Yes, he is smart. And he is very good at his job. So we have to be smarter. And we have to be better. But we cannot do it alone; we need ammo. We need to pack in the hardware and put on our battle faces, because this is a war. We are fighting for our lives. We are fighting for Jannah (paradise). And the best weapon we have–okay, this is going to sound so corny and cliché–is du’a (prayer). It’s true. The only way we can win is by asking for help, by making du’a. And the only One powerful enough to help us against as grave an enemy as that scary dude is Allah, The Most Powerful, Most High. We have to seek Him, seek His refuge during this war if we are to have any hope of making it to Jannah. Otherwise, without Him, and without du’a, we are just lost. Like a leaf blowing in the wind.
I am certain that there have been times that Shaytaan has come to each of us, to whisper to us, and we could almost hear those whispers. We could feel that whatever it was that we were about to say was not something we should say, that someone was almost forcing us to say it, think it, do it. I wrote the following poem quite some time ago, and I think it is one that we can all relate to.
I Seek Refuge
I seek refuge in You, O Allah
The cursed one.
Protect me, my Rabb,
From his soft, sweet whispers.
When he says to me:
”I miss you”
“I need you”
Just with these words,
He tempts me to reverse
All the good that has been done.
Let his evil spirit be cursed.
And from my mind,
Let him disperse.
Protect me from the sweet fantasies
That he arouses in my mind-
Fantasies of false happiness.
Protect me from the dreams that he
Makes me believe
Can be mine.
Protect me, O Protector of all,
From the false hopes that Shaytaan helps me build so tall
Only to let them come crashing down
And to the cold, harsh ground of reality
Do I fall
And only then do I realise
That these hopes are ever-fleeting
Nothing more than a brief meeting
With this world that we are tested in
To which Shaytaan has front seating.
I seek refuge in You, O Allah,
The rejected one.
Protect my tongue from speaking
Words which he conjures,
Make my ears deaf
to his sweet, evil whispers
Blind my eyes and mind
to his magnificent, misleading fantasies.
Protect me from the beauty
In which he cloaks himself
From the overpowering scent
In which he douses himself
From the eloquent words
With which he represents himself.
Help me, O Lord,
Stop him from coming nearer.
O Most High,
Only You can help me
Pass him by.
O Most Magnificent,
O Most Merciful,
Comfort me when
He causes me to be fearful.
I seek refuge in You, O Allah,
The evil one.
So, if you’ve followed my blog posts recently, you’ll know what’s been foremost on my mind over the past couple of months. Can you guess it? Can you?? There’s a special prize to the first reader to get it right. Come on, you can do it!! (Uhm… just give me some time to figure out what the prize is going to be.)
So, the answer is ‘change’, and in the spirit of change, I wrote a poem a while ago. The poem is about who I want to be, in-shaa-Allah (Allah-willing), since I am constantly a work in progress. It is an incomplete poem, I am still working on the second half (There is actually an unintended pun in that 😛 When you eventually see the second half of the poem you’ll probably get the pun :D). Please read it and share your thoughts with me.
Image in My Head
I have an image in my head
Of the type of woman I want it to be said
The type of woman who,
To good deeds and righteousness,
The type of woman who,
For fear and love of her Lord,
Tears she had shed.
I have an image in my head
Of a woman who is so well-bred
That she doesn’t allow herself to be misled
By the evil one whom we all dread.
She is a woman who wouldn’t dare tread
The sins of the poisonous arrowhead.
She wouldn’t allow
The goodness of her soul to be shred,
Nor the love in her heart to be bled.
She is a woman well-read
In the verses that her Lord had said.
A woman whose arms are outspread
To the orphans and the poor,
The ones her Prophet
SallAllahi ‘alayhi wa Sallam*
Had told her to hold near.
I have an image in my head
Of a woman—
And with grace.
One who has never, before marriage, been embraced.
A woman who does not, her own value, misplace.
* SallAllahi ‘alayhi wa Sallam – May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him
What image do you have in your head about the person you want to be? Or are you already that person? Tell me a bit about this person.
I’ve never before fully understood how love really works. Growing up, I loved my mom, my dad, my sisters and my brother. I loved them because they were my family. I loved them because I had to–as cold as that sounds, it is the truth. I didn’t know what ‘love’ meant, I just fell into it (excuse the unintended pun). Being the last born, I just had all these people in my life, and I had no choice in the matter. Love was compulsory. Even while hating them and fighting with them, I loved them. Later in my life, though, I met some people, some amazing women. And I love them–I love them with a love so strong that, almost from as soon as we met, we stopped being strangers and became sisters. A sister–a woman who I had just met! Can you imagine that? And what’s more is that, this love that I have for them, it’s not the kind of love that I just ‘fell’ into like I did with the sisters and brother I was born loving; this is a love for the sake of Allah. Now, for a long time, this was mind-boggling to me. Love for the sake of Allah. Love for the sake of anything other than ‘I-love-you-just-because’ seemed unfair to me. Why should I be loved for someone else’s sake, and not just because I am great and amazing and loveable all on my own? I was jealous. I’ve always been a selfish person when it comes to love. But do you know what makes this jealousy even more ridiculous? I was jealous of Allah! That is downright laughable! SubhaanAllah (Glory be to Allah). What kind of silly do you have to be to be jealous of your own Creator, the Creator of Love itself? But the only reason that I was jealous was because I didn’t understand what it meant to love and to be loved for the sake of my Lord.
After much pondering on the matter, I eventually understood. To love for the sake of Allah is to love someone because you love Him, it is to love those who love Him and because they love Him. Love for the sake of Allah is not selfish and it is not about the individual, it is not about loving someone because of what that person brings into your life, superficially, or because of how great and amazing and loveable that person might be. Ultimately, it is about loving Allah. If we love Allah, we love those who love Him and those whom He loves, without expectation and without discrimination. A love borne out of a love for Him only strengthens the relationship between two people, and that relationship, in turn, serves to strengthen your love and your relationship with Allah. It is a beautiful cycle, indeed. A love like this ends up being a form of worship, subhaanAllah. Can you imagine that just loving someone for the sake of Allah is a form of worshipping Allah?
So, last night, my love for these women, whom I love as sisters, sent my blood pumping through my body. We met for supper, (almost) the whole gang of us (after each of us being absorbed by our own separate lives for far too long) and it was amazing to be reminded of why I love these women so much, and to be reminded of how indescribably blessed I am to have them all in my life. Our sisterhood was founded on a Divine Love, and it is only because of this love that it works. We’re all different–different personalities, different ages, different stories–but we’re bound by one, single Love.
Abu Hurayra (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (may the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
“Allah Almighty will say on the Day of Rising, ‘Where are those who loved one another for the sake of My Majesty? Today, on the Day when there is no shade but My Shade, I will shade them.'” [Muslim]
My head is filled with too many things right now. Least of them all should be my blog, but I just can’t allow myself to disappoint my hundreds of loyal followers waiting with bated breath for my next post (ha!). I mean, it is Sunday after all, right? Which means New Post Day! Yay! No. Not yay. Because after Sunday comes Monday. And Mondays are slowly–but very surely–making its way riiiiight down to the bottom of my list of Reasons to Wake Up on a Monday Morning. I’m not liking you very much right now, Monday. Not very much at all. And, high school exams are nigh, which means set exam papers with memorandums need to be submitted to the office. Tomorrow. Who has time for a lengthy (but seriously entertaining) blog post with all that going on? Certainly not me. So this is what I’ll give you (my throng of loyal and devoted readers); a peek into where my head is at right now. So picture this:
Yep, that’s what it looks like up in here. More or less. Now, because there’s currently very little room in my brain for much real words to grow, I will give you some pictures, to further elaborate on the many ‘stuffs’ wheedling through my brain, in between the yucky exam stuff.
Are you noticing the pattern here? Both last week’s post and the week before that was about being a stranger in this world, or referring to the Strangers Tour that happened here in Cape Town two weeks ago. It is who I want to be–a stranger in this world–so that I may be a companion in the next world, the real world. A companion to who? To my Prophet (may the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him and his family), and all the righteous people who lived in this world, ameen.
I read a beautiful line in an article a bit earlier, and I think it complements this picture beautifully:
“The hijab is only a brush stroke on the canvas within a much bigger picture. Without it the work is incomplete, but it is not the sole element that makes the painting. And my own canvas is incomplete and riddled with mistakes.” – Azlin Ahmed, It’s a Hijab, Not a Halo
And lastly, one of my new favourites…
So, kids, it would seem that the theme running in my brain for this month is ‘change’. And, in the words of the great American president, Barack Obama (that’s sarcasm right there), “Yes, we can!” And we will, in-shaa-Allah. And may we (or I, or whoever cares to join me in this change–whatever it might be that you are changing to, for the sake of Allah) be more successful than the lousy president–oh, oops, did I say ‘lousy’? I meant loser. Nooo! I meant… well, who cares what I meant? May we be more successful in our quest for change, and may we never lose sight of the goal. Ameen.
Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.