Soulmates of Time

I believe in Soulmates. But not the way that you think.

I believe God All-Mighty has written every provision for every soul on this earth which includes our spouses. Thus, our “soulmate” has already been written.

But when you read “soulmate”, society has tied a much heavier meaning to it. It entails someone that “completes” you and is a “perfect match” to some degree. We understand “soulmates” as a manifestation of love and happiness. We understand “soulmates” as the paramount realization of our lives because we believe we spend our entire lives sifting through different events only to come face to face with the one we have been waiting for. “Soulmates,” the way we understand it, is therefore a major milestone in one’s life. They are the other half of us. They represent the gaps in our hearts and minds that we have yearned for. They are the ones who share our interests but also have different interests that should be a perfect match with interests we have yet to love. Therefore, they magically love our unique interests and we love theirs.

While I believe in soulmates, I don’t necessarily believe in the above description.

Tying someone to everything I just described is too much to ask of anyone. I believe we have many soulmates. I believe we have a soulmate that we enjoy having a cup of coffee with. I believe we have a soulmate who represents a great classmate or coworker. I believe we have a soulmate that represents a specific interest that we both can enjoy and share together. I believe those people can be different given any time and place. To expect ALL of these qualities in one person seems a bit unfair.

I also believe a time and a place represents a soulmate. Perhaps it was a message someone sent you, a moment in time you were physically very fit, or it could be a particular place you lived in that represented your soulmate. To me, a soulmate is someone or something that gives you a very special sensation in your heart and mind. They fill gaps within you that you didn’t even realize were empty. More often than not, these soulmates aren’t discerned at that time but when one looks back, it’s very clear.

Perhaps soulmate isn’t the best word to describe all of this, but how people typically describe soulmates and the pressure that is put upon that single word made me reflect on the concept. My wife and I share many beautiful moments together and she represents many of the soulmates I seek. But it would be unfair for me to expect her to fulfill all the different roles I find a special happiness in. For example, we both love food so we both love to share experiences with each other involving food i.e. trying new restaurants, taking trips to specific places because of their cuisine, or routinely cooking up our favorite comfort foods. She is my food soulmate. I also love sports but it would be unfair for me to ask her to sit through every game I wish to watch since she doesn’t have an interest in sports. She’s not obligated to be my sports soulmate because she is my food soulmate.

In my opinion, the word soulmate has been improperly abused. Everything, every one, and every place has their specific place and use in our lives. Learn to harness the beauty in what everything, every one, and every place has to offer, and you’ll find soulmates all around you.

Filling your Empty Cup

“You can’t pour from an empty cup”

Some of us have filled cups, empty cups, and even broken cups. If I’m writing about this, it’s probably because I’ve fluctuated between all three like any one of you. I’ve realized recently how important it is to focus on yourself unselfishly.

Focusing on yourself and being selfish are two entirely different things. Focusing on yourself means you’re taking care of yourself in the deepest and most fulfilling ways. If you aren’t, then you’re inevitably seeking someone or something else to fill that deep void for you. And no matter what, as long as you seek anyone or anything other than yourself to fill that deep void, you will repeatedly fall short of feeling fulfillment. In turn, you’ll turn selfish by feeling entitled to receive something to fill that void rather than seek to fill it yourself. You’ll blame external factors rather than realizing your cup is empty. And when this happens, you’ve not only skewed who or what is to blame, you’ve lost sight of any ability to refill your cup. Not only that, you risk losing a certain level of patience with yourself and breaking your cup.

The most important quality you have to offer to this world is the core of your being. Embrace it. Feed it. Society will often convince you to embrace a being that isn’t yourself. Whether it’s peer pressure or the latest fad, we often feel compelled to partake in something that we deep down don’t feel like doing or be someone who isn’t a true reflection of ourselves. And that’s a battle you must win because you have much more to offer the world than conformance.

Focusing on yourself fills you. It charges you. It allows you to give to the world – to your career, your aspirations, your dreams, your relationships – everywhere. Find out what fills you. Find out that which holds a special place in your heart and no matter how unusual or unorthodox it is, do whatever you can to make it part of your life. When this happens, your cup will fill and when your cup fills, you’re able to give to everything that holds a special place in your heart.

Sometimes though, the cup breaks. And that’s just a hard reality about life. The thing about taking care of yourself and understanding the initial quote is realizing that not only can you not pour from an empty cup — you can’t receive in a broken cup either. Meaning, if you haven’t taken care of yourself on your deepest and most basic level, then anything you try to do to fill your cup will simply leak out. Consequently, anyone who tries to fill your cup with what they are capable of pouring will leak out of your cup.

For the broken cupped, take comfort in knowing that you’re not alone and that with time, your cup will heal. I’ve been there – cup shattered – but Alhamdullilah, my cup is now intact (and likely filled with Peach Iced Tea). Seek help from Allah and seek help from whatever means necessary because fulfillment starts with an intact cup.

Allah decided that from the multitude of His creations, your presence was merited to exist in this world. Be the best you. And however your cup stands today, know that the more you strive to take care of yourself, the more you’ll fix and fill your cup.

 

How to Dance in Your Rain

Life somehow feels harder at times than it did before. Does anyone else feel it? The good still feels good, but the hard feels harder. I wondered why that was. Social media highlighting much of what we don’t have? Tragedies around the world subconsciously disturbing us? A shallowness internally based on an “instant-click” society? Perhaps some combination of all three?

I’ve noticed that I’ve repeatedly sat through various storms in my life recently and just waited for them to pass. After one storm left, another followed with only brief moments of sunshine – if any at all. It’s felt like a pretty miserable way to live life. All the while I lay curled up waiting for a particular storm to pass, I’m watching people around me bask in their sun. It’s made the raindrops heavier.

Here’s some advice:

Firstly, realize that a picture of someone’s sunshine is just that – a picture. A snap of their reality at a moment in time their storm briefly left. I think part of the reason the hard feels harder now is because we are wrapped up in everyone else’s sunshine (via social media) in the midst of our storms.

Secondly, interact with more people. Connect with them. Have conversations with them.  Some only interact with the world around them via social media, some just quick cliché conversations, and some just enjoy being in the company of people but not actually interacting. Before the dawn of texting and social media, people would create deep and meaningful relationships with people around them which was an important step in creating a deep and meaningful relationship with ones self.

Thirdly, realize that everything happens for a reason. The rain falls and the sun shines and both are equally important in your growth. Don’t lose site of that.

Whatever way you decide to do, make a decision to not sit curled up through any more of your storms. Just be you and find transcendence in the being that you are. Find depth in your life. Don’t just stand through your storms, walk tall through them. Do things that make you, you. Strengthen yourself from the inside out so that your life doesn’t become an amalgamation of various shallow connections. Don’t imbue into your life someone else’s sunshine – create something beautiful out of your storm.

My contention is this: before the dawn of texting, social media, and the internet – we harnessed a strength that allowed us endure our life. We thought more, felt more, interacted more, and saw things with a deeper sense of intuition. We can’t fight societies norms, so don’t. Instead, discipline your intake. Intake less of that which draws attention to what doesn’t fill you, and intake more of what fills you.

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain”

 

 

Couch Potato

If one thing can describe modern day society, it’s speed. Life is constantly in motion around us and aspects of our life are catalyzed so that we can move through it even faster. When we need to talk to someone, we call them, while we are typing an email and stirring the 1 dollar macaroni shaped like starships. Our mind never really sits down because just when it feels like it can, something else comes up for it to handle.

So I sat today and literally did nothing for 3 hours. I let my mind simmer. Yeah, simmer. I turned the chula (stove) on low and watched me cook. I stirred a little bit, but really only to get food ironically.

People strive for external peace so much only because they are too busy to realize they can obtain peace within themselves. We are constantly worrying ourselves with things that for the most part won’t be worthy of even a memory in a week. A test, a quiz, a deadline, a conversation, anything. We find it boring to just sit and think because we equate that to not being productive. I think it’s incredibly productive to sit and reflect and make sure you strive to be a better person tomorrow. Not just being better at school, or work, or what you have chosen to busy your life with, but a better person all around.

Needless to say, I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the show I was watching – instead I thought about different events, emotions, goals, desires. I thought about the promises I made to people, the people I let down, the people who I wish I could talk to. I remembered specific instances where I brought myself to feel like I did in a particular memory. Experiences go away, but memories are gifts.

It’s not coincidence that  Islam was revealed divinely to the Prophet (SAW) when he separated himself from society for a bit to reflect. We think we don’t have the opportunity to sit and reflect because we need to constantly be busy but constantly being busy makes you a robot, not a person. Sit. Cry. Laugh. Talk to yourself. .

Allah created us not needing to be dependent on people, jobs, degrees, or anything to be happy or successful in His eyes.

If you’re in a frantic state of mind or wish things were differently in your life right now, relax yourself a bit and remember that a week from now, new “frantics” will consume your life.

Be happy, be free, and most of all, think about you. Nothing teaches you about you more than yourself. Think about it

Hide and Seek

This week I wanted to recirculate one of my first pieces I wrote years ago that I sometimes read every now and again. I pray it benefits people the way it’s  benefitted me through the years.

I think the hardest part about duniya sometimes is the fact that we ourselves get in the way of our own paths. Obstacles don’t come before us, we do. We have diluted our lives with so many things that concern us that we aren’t able to reflect and internalize the many blessings from Allah (SWT). Baraqah is everywhere, we just aren’t looking for it.

Instead we are seeking other things. Love, passion, obsession, something you can’t live without. Whether it be political love, sports love, or the love you feel for someone you truly care about, something usually gets in the way of our reflection. It’s incredibly difficult to stop life today. There is no way that one of us can sit in a room for an hour and do nothing but sit. Just sit. There will be an email or a text or an assignment or a phone call or dishes or a show – anything – but there will be something to restrict you from just sitting with yourself. Unfortunately for us, it’s from those times we mostly realize where Allah’s blessings have been.

It’s unfortunate because we are on this difficult path and it’s that much more difficult the more we put more obstacles in it. That time spent realizing Allah’s blessings all around you is time spent energizing yourself to successfully tread this path. Allah (SWT) has carefully calculated your every move. Doesn’t that make you wonder?

Is it all just arbitrary facets of a meaningless day? No, it’s all carefully calculated. In an hour, will I be able to answer those questions? Probably not but I will definitely stumble upon something that I can find Allah’s baraqah in. There is baraqah in the time we spend seeking His baraqah in our actions. SubhanAllah what a cycle.

Our life is like one big Magic Eye Book. At first glance, it seems fuzzy but if you take the time to concentrate, things will make more sense. Things will pop out and a picture that seemed inexplicable will be perfectly in vision.

When you reflect, you’ll start asking yourself the right questions.

You’ll start expanding your own horizons to a level where you never thought you could.

You’ll get smarter

Reflection isn’t just a nice way to pass time, its necessary. Duniya does a good job confusing you. It does a splendid job taking what you love and hurting you with it. And the day you stop being upset over it hurting you is the day you’ll learn that there is more to it than the pain. Life doesn’t hurt you, Allah protects you. Life isn’t confusing, it’s just fuzzy. Life isn’t terrible, it’s beautiful.

If you believe that all the dots in your life are carefully calculated and connect by Allah (SWT), you’ll stop life sometimes and try to connect them yourselves. Sometimes you’ll get it and sometimes you won’t but your time is better invested in playing that game rather than life’s games. Allah (SWT) is constantly doing things for you and I bet if you looked, you’d be surprised at how much you found. Don’t let yourself be the one stopping you from seeing Allah’s baraqah in your actions because when you do find it, there is nothing more motivating for you to be better.

It’s a game of hide and seek. His baraqah is hidden, go seek it.

The God-less World

“If you don’t believe in God, you will live in a God-less world and everything around you will be a justification that God doesn’t exist. If you believe in God and fulfill your obligations to Him, you will live in a world where you find God in everything around you and everything will be a justification of God’s existence.”

Recently I’ve been reflecting on the level of faith I have at any given moment. Last week I talked about fluctuations in faith and the quote above applies to fluctuations as well. When I don’t feel close to God, I lose Him. I don’t see Him in the things that I do and I get lost very quickly. When I do feel close to God, I see Him in even the most inexplicable of places. We can see in the below,

The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said, “Allah the Most High said, ‘I am as My servant thinks (expects) I am. I am with him when he mentions Me. If he mentions Me to himself, I mention him to Myself; and if he mentions Me in an assembly, I mention him in an assembly greater than it. If he draws near to Me a hand’s length, I draw near to him an arm’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.’”

It seems clear that coming to Allah and mentioning Him is the perfect way to live life. So what’s stops us?

We do. What sometimes clouds our ability to come closer to Allah is the perception of what we want our life to be and what it actually is. Subconsciously, we wait to see Allah (in the sense of attaining some semblance of the life we want) before we “come to Him walking.”

That’s backwards.

It’s difficult to process the concept of not having our duaa answered in the way that we asked it. Ironically, it’s more difficult to process that fact the farther we feel from faith. Our natural disposition is to seek the things we want that will make us happy. But this world isn’t about getting what you want but understanding what you get. That understanding comes from Allah and through Allah. When we make duaa for something and we don’t find it’s answer right away, coming closer to Allah will reveal not only why it wasn’t given to you at that time, but what was given to you instead which was much better.

Faith will fluctuate but let our relationship with Allah be stable and become stronger. Only then will the gift of understanding sooth our heart.

 

Peace that Found Me

Each of my posts are personal on varying levels but this one will be a bit more than usual. I grew up with an interesting relationship with my faith. I prayed and made duaa but I viewed prayer as something I had to do the same way a student comes into school otherwise they would get expelled. In my mind, if I wasn’t praying, I was going to get “kicked out”. Duaa was a way to ask God for things that I wanted in life but didn’t know how to get. Interestingly enough, I got a lot of things I made duaa for which was great.

As I got older, my faith matured. I made duaa for more meaningful things and I prayed with purer intentions. Interestingly, I felt that my duaa wasn’t being answered as much as I grew older. I learned that duaa can be answered in a few ways. You could get exactly what you want; you could get something better; or you avoid some harm. Truthfully, when I first learned this I didn’t like it. My ego saw that as a one third chance that I would get what I asked for.

The older I got, I found that my duaa matured more and more but it was not often in the category of “making duaa and getting it the way I asked.” I was confused but not completely disheartened because I knew the other two categories were better. Then I started to notice something rather interesting. We all know that our faith tends to rise and dip at times. During one of these dips in my faith, something really amazing happened in my life. As exciting and much awaited as the news was, it didn’t really give me a deep sense of fulfillment the way I thought it would. I really tried to be happy about it, but it felt inorganic.

Alhamdullilah, when the dip ended, I was praying and making duaa more regularly. One day I couldn’t help but feel a very restricting feeling in my mind that permeated into my heart. I was distracted in a very deep sense. During the next prayer, I decided to let it all out in duaa. I was feeling deeply deprived of something I really wanted and I couldn’t see a way out. I couldn’t understand or comprehend how to overcome this particular issue in my life and it felt really intense to submerge myself in those emotions. I ended my duaa and continued my day but I distinctly remember feeling such a deep sense of fulfillment in my heart some time after. It wasn’t just a pleasant feeling, it was a fulfilling one on the deepest level.

On one hand, I got something I really wanted and it didn’t move me much internally and on the other, I begged Allah for what I really wanted and was moved to internal peace. I didn’t actually get what I wanted, but I found peace.

The only difference was how much I involved Allah in my life.

More than what our hearts desire, I became acutely aware that simply the conversation with Allah is the door to peace. Our mind naturally associates tranquility with the attainment of certain deeply rooted desires – but that’s actually not the case. Ironically enough, keeping Allah distant from my life did feel like getting expelled the way I thought of as a child. But it was an emotional expulsion from a peace and understanding so deeply yearned for by any soul.

Where there is Allah, there is a barakah. And where there is barakah, there is tranquility.

Peace finds you when you find Allah.