[Hey there, are you reading this in 2021? I posted this from my archive. This used to be on my wordpress blog.]
Firstly, here’s a thank you for the leap day! I have a post in the February month column because of that. People of routine hate breaking the monthly posting habit for it’s like an itch that is constantly on their mind. Usually, there’s a central theme that the post revolves around but this post is a ramble of sorts. The central theme will ,of course, be apparent in the conclusion.
This month, I celebrated my birthday on the 13th, a Saturday. Birthdays are special days, a day when you can ask for anything and people give it to you or are extra nice to you. Therefore, I can ask God too on my birthday, can’t I? However, this birthday, instead of asking, I had to thank God for the past year for a myriad of reasons. So, here it goes.
Thank you for 2015 even though it had turned me upside down and threw me into turbulence. Thank you for Ramadan, the first one that I had spent in India. Aunts are also mothers if they had brought you up in your earlier years, carrying you as much as your own mother had. 2015 was the first Ramadan with them. Although the India trip had some displeasures and disputes among relatives, it was a blessed month with ample time for you.
I should thank you for the unemployment, financial instability and health concerns that the family experienced in 2015 and continues to weather this year. These big questions are taking a long time to be solved and I can only wait with patience. The prophet(s.a.w) read Surah Al Kaaf every Friday evening which also signifies that some matters of faith had to be reminded frequently. Out of the three incidents narrated in Surah Al Kaaf, the incident concerning the journey of Moses(a.s) with Khidr(a.s) has been running through my mind. In it, Moses is commanded by God to follow Khidr. Khidr says that Moses lacks the patience to follow him without questioning Khidr’s actions.
قال انك لن تستطيع معي صبرا
Khidr says, “Indeed, with me you will never be able to have patience [18:67]”
وكيف تصبر على ما لم تحط به خبرا
“And how can you have patience for what you do not encompass in knowledge? [18:68}”
The full story can be found from 18:63-18:82. Khidr does three things: harm a good person, help the evil persons and kill the son of a good believer. The above are simplified but if you do read through the ayats, you will understand the reason behind it. There is good in every misfortune however, we lack the patience to bear through the misery for “how can you have patience for what you do not know?” [18:68].
Did you have to crush my self- esteem that was built on years of success, turn my morale into dust and dissolve it in the arid air? Did you have to choke me with tears, give me a panic attack and make me gasp breathlessly when fear shrouds me? Did you have to put me in the spot to answer questions with a faked enthusiasm so that they will never know how much it hurts me to bring up the incident ? Every explanation that I give with a huge coerced smile rips out the threads of my heart. Did you have to drown my hopes and squeeze out the dreams from it? I seem to have forgotten to dream and hesitation stops my words when I think of asking you for something, anything. God, I think you had to for what is faith if it is not tested.
ولنبلونكم بشيء من الخوف والجوع ونقص من الاموال والانفس والثمرات وبشر الصابرين
And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient [2:155].
Fear keeps me awake at night, especially the fear of losing my loved ones. I believe it is cumulative of the way I think as my brain wants to be prepared for any calamity that may befall and also the current situation at home. Statistically, my parents will live till their grandchildren reach the age of 30. Yet, here I am, with vivid dreams of my parents…….. for god’s sake, their oldest daughter just turned 20. Papa went overseas for a week and although he travels at least once every 4 months, this trip had an acute impact on me. It was traumatic every night for in my dreams, the flight Papa boarded never touched down in Singapore. While it may seem ridiculous to others, these nightmares were particularly disturbing for me because my dreams are so realistic it is akin to watching a movie. Once, I thought I had messaged someone but I felt something was not quite right. Checked my phone and it turns out I had messaged them in my dream but it was so vivid that it had been woven into my consciousness as reality.
The loss of wealth and fruits, which in metaphorical sense, also applies to one’s strength, talents and health etc. is what my family is going through now. What hurts more than suffering is watching your loved ones suffer. Here’s to my brother who would be reading this at some point of time. I knew you weren’t exactly okay but I didn’t ask because I gave you privacy and of course, I know you are mature enough to handle it yourself. However, do know that I’m here if you want to talk and I promise I won’t tell Amma anything.
It recently occurred to me that baby Dawood is our mercy for children are considered as barakath. He is the only one who is truly happy at home. Sometimes, I mull over the idea that Dawood was given by God as a blessing for God knew that our family would be facing some difficult circumstances. Dawood was a completely unexpected surprise. He was born on my 15th birthday, a beautiful coincidence and the reason why I get a cake for my birthday even though I’m too old for one. So, thank you God for Dawood whose little antics are giving us the little pleasures of life. Our family has somewhat become indifferent to the big problems hovering over us because once you hit ground bottom, you can’t dig a deeper hole and bury yourself.
Still, every hardship should not be purely considered in the negative terms. In fact, one needs to reach the level where you consider hardship and success with the same attitude.
And as for man, when his Lord tries him and [thus] is generous to him and favors him, he says, “My Lord has honored me.”But when He tries him and restricts his provision, he says, “My Lord has humiliated me.” [89:16,17]
Hardship has developed empathy in me. It has given me a sense of solidarity with others who are distressed and has helped me listen to voices laced with regrets. While pain is relative, I believe you should not belittle someone’s pain for pain is discomfort regardless of its intensity. Hardship has given me the strength to put on a smile, hold onto faith and continue walking another day.
Allah tests the prophets the most followed by those of the best character followed by the next best in character.
Source: still searching, some hadith
When I look at people who seem to have a strong belief in God, I search their faces. What did you take from them Ya Allah? Did you take away their loved ones, their strength, their dreams or their stability? What did you take that made them come seeking you for the heart’s troubles are only quietened by the creator of the heart? What piece of them did you shatter?
Keep the birthday girl’s family in your duas. Ask that we have the patience to ride through this. I have not reached the level of considering misfortune as a blessing. I still become intimidated but I think I am getting back onto my feet more quickly now.Oh well, things take time.