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.

 

Strength in Honesty

“You are as good as your word”

Honesty is important – not just for the truths that you convey to the people around you that make them trust you – but for the honesty you have with yourself. You, surprisingly, create and submit to stories you create. When something doesn’t make sense, we often create a reality within ourselves to make sense of things. Granted that everything happens for a reason, being truly honest with what happens in your life and how you feel about them is your sole path to understanding those reasons.

Sometimes, we avoid being honest with ourselves because we become alone with painful emotions. So we cushion our internal realities with stories. We blame everyone around us and it all makes perfect sense to us. The more we trust these realities, the farther we get from understanding our presence in our own difficulties.

It’s okay to feel what you do about something. We don’t let ourselves feel enough. It’s okay to stop filling in the many roles you have in your life and let yourself be with your own realities. We all have and will fail at something. Own it. Embrace it. Let it color your life. Be honest with what and how you feel about anything.

Being honest with yourself doesn’t suddenly solve your internal equation. Most of the time, being honest with yourself uncovers more painful sentiments. However, being honest with yourself gives you an organic ability to solve the problems around you and eventually the problems deepest within you. It gives your heart and mind strength. When there is trust between two friends, there is strength in how they feel about each other. When one is faced with a calamity, they call upon the other for strength. When one is blessed, they call upon the other to spread their strength. Likewise, when there is trust and honesty within your internal, there is strength. When you are faced with a calamity, your internal faces it with strength. When you are blessed, you feel it more and your internal is strengthen.

You are stronger and smarter than you think. Honesty will uncover great truths about your abilities. The next time the world spins faster than you’re ready for, look within. Everything you need is there. It always has been and always will be.