Time; God’s Great Thing.

A memory-maker

A dream spinner,

a way to heal, to transform.

Where, in the long stretches,

do moments turn into memory?

August Popsicles dripping down a summer dress

Warm Septembers,

Rusty, breezy Octobers,

Chilly Novembers giving way to winter,

and those nights I used to write and write.

Countless seasons have passed me by,

I am left clinging to childhood, to a carefree

sense of wild freedom,

of so much time to do so much,

and now, too many distractions,

and too little time.

 

Nesha Usmani

 

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Dunes

Imagehere, I walk in wonder

where the earth shifts and changes

Mountain ranges crumbling

rising, rolling, blowing away

with every whispering rush.

how can I walk without sinking?

And how do the bushes plant their roots,

in such a transient place?

When the sun sets and the moon rises,

and the heat is replaced by ruthless cold,

I recognize this place as a sign from You, ya Rabb.

Here, the ground is not solid, and yet I walk,

Here, the path changes and the hills move away,

and direction flees like a frightened bird,

Here, the heat does not relieve,

unless its a fire in the night,

And here, the cold does not refresh,

unless its water in the day.

And the wind may greet you with a kiss,

or it may blind you, bury you.

leave you lost.

There is no balance, no mercy, no guide.

No crutch to lean on, no neighbor.

None but You,

No path more solid or straight,

No reward more refreshing,

No mercy more relieving,

No word truer than Yours.

Allahu Akbar.

“Ya Muqallibal Quloob Thabbit Qalbee ‘alaa Deenik.”

“Oh, Turner of the Hearts (Allah, Most High),

Keep our Hearts Firm on Your Religion.”

Ameen

Nesha Usmani

Self-Pity.

Assalamu Alaikum wa-rahmatullahi-wa-barakatu

I’m in my last week of winter break; my next semester begins in 10 days. I regret that I haven’t been posting much, but sometimes, you just don’t have the words.

Alhamdulillah, I’ve done pretty well academic wise in my first semester of grad school in the very busy and chaotic city of Chicago. Has it changed me? Oh, yes. I’ve realized how important my family is. How much it sucks being away from home, even though I’m the heart-stopping old age of 25. I just…love being home with my parents and siblings, and I pray inshAllah that this love I have for a homelife only benefits me as I get [even] older.

Living on my own has not afforded me the confidence, curiosity, and ambitious swagger that I see in other people. Often, I find myself retreating, wanting to surround myself with familiarity. Maybe it’s the cold. Maybe it’s the endless expanse of concrete mountains, anxious cars, and gluttonous consumption. Maybe I just fear being lost in a city of millions. Or is it all a heavy cloak of denial and excuses, simply not wanting to venture out, simply because I fear loneliness and rejection?

Once, a very long time ago, I wrote a letter to an Islamic scholar. In this letter I revealed my deepest insecurities, fears, and emotions, and begged for answers, for help, for guidance. Why had my well of friends run suddenly dry, when I could remember a time when making friends was as easy as saying ‘hello’? Why did others have so much more than me, why can’t I be more like them?

The response, at the time, did nothing for me. In very kind words, I was told, in a nutshell, to say Alhamdulillah, because I had more time to reflect on Allah, and more time to improve myself as a Muslimah, without the distraction of an active social life. Now, these words reverberate with force of an earthquake. I no longer have an excuse. Perhaps, my loneliness and insecurities will always be a part of me. Perhaps, they are there to remind me that I cannot depend upon what I see, who I love, where I sleep. It’s all simply creation, it’s all from Allah. Whether I’m lonely or not, depressed or not, whether I have 50 insecurities or only 1, it’s the same. The importance and need to be grateful and conscious of Allah never decreases. In fact, it increases in both directions. Whether you have a lot or a little, be grateful, because in everything there is a test. In everything there is mercy, and in everything there is a reminder.

In the past, the words of the Qur’an have never had much of an impact for me. Yes, I read the translation as well as the Arabic, but apart from a somber, emotional recitation, I did not feel the weight of the words. Recently, alhamdulillah, that has changed. I won’t go into detail, since it is quite personal, but I feel a strength and a might from the Qur’an, from Allah, that I didn’t know was possible, Allahu Akbar. I still need to work on my dedication to certain important tasks, but Alhamdulillah for the knowledge that has been revealed to me, and May Allah increase the Ummah in Taqwa and Imaan, and bestow mercy upon us, Ameen.

This life can be the biggest trap. It can ensnare you in its hamster-wheel pursuit of wealth, property, possessions, status, and title. Balance your means of survival with a means for Jannah, and break your daily routines with salah filled with as much khushoo you can muster. You will feel a peace that will sink your sorrows, and blow away loneliness with love.

It’s not easy. It’s not easy being 25 and unmarried. It’s not easy being 28, married, and pregnant. It’s not easy being 35, married, with two kids and another on the way. It’s not easy being 45 with four kids and not a lot in the bank. It’s not easy being 50 and experiencing health problems, and watching your husband go through some of his own. It’s a deeper pain to have never been married at all.

But each life experience is customized by your decisions and the Qadr of Allah. Each experience can be a way to torment, or it can frame your path to Jannah. Everyone talks about arrogance, greed, deception, and ostentation as major character flaws in a Muslim..but one of the most least talked about and most dangerous?

Self-pity.

Why? Because you’re crippling yourself. You’re removing any chance you have to see the mercy, generosity, opportunity, and love Allah has for you in one swift stroke. You tell yourself you can’t. So you don’t. You tell yourself you don’t have time. So you don’t. You tell yourself you’re not worth it. So you become worthless. You tell yourself no one likes you. So you become a person no one likes, simply by not trying. You tell yourself you’re better off on your own. So you become lonely, resentful. You let your grudges and your fears pile on top of each other, repeatedly, like a winter snowstorm, until you’re suffocating yourself. And it’s too late. You’re in the throes of depression. It’s easier to cry than to believe there’s hope, an answer, and it requires an effort on your part. It requires submission and a will to change.

Self-pity is an insidious quicksand. I firmly believe it is the gateway to become worse things.

What you want and what you need are two different things.

They can both come to fruition, and often its a result of your patience and belief in Allah’s infinite Mercy and Wisdom that can make the path smooth and the walk shorter and less tiring than you expected.

Until next time,

Nesha

Brave Girl, Chapter One

author’s note: this poem has elements of magic (entirely attributed to evil in the poem) that serve as metaphors in the story. What those metaphors are…is entirely up to you to interpret. But this story is meant to outline the journey from abuse, heartbreak, and trials to understanding and redemption.

Brave Girl,

She walked a path for miles

a path of brick and stone

tree limbs bending downwards

green leaves overgrown

Along the path she met a Lad

His eyes were cloudy grey

His hair was red and brown,

Yet glinted golden in the day

They linked arms and began to walk,

new love bubbling from their easy talk,

Easier and easier they began to be,

Walking over mountains and valleys,

and along the pale shores of the sea.

Within his eyes Girl saw her life,

And he promised with words that he would stay

So with fingers entwined like wanton vines,

They cast their doubts away.

One day on Girl’s hand,

Lad placed a glass band

that sparkled with his love

And with eyes wet and smiles wide,

The promised Groom and promised Bride

Both thanked God above.

But as years flit by, as dragonflies do,

the Girl began to doubt,

For as much as he was there with her

She began to feel without,

Girl felt love like burning fire

but began to fear her young Lad’s ire.

He said with words he loved her much,

And would never leave her side,

But often swatted away her touch,

And became defensive of his pride.

The path became no longer smooth,

It jutted rock and stone,

And though their discomfort she tried to soothe

Lad’s confidence was thrown.

He stumbled over root and stone,

Due to attention little paid,

When stifled by vines overgrown,

Refused the young Girl’s aid,

At last, for fear, there came a day,

When Lad’s color began to abate

His eyes and hair, his skin so fair,

Met the mirthless bite of fate.

For Lad lost hope,

and could not cope

with Girl or path no more,

And through the trees, he spied a space

And left through it like a door.

Girl cried tears bittersweet

For she knew she could not follow,

And though in her chest, her heart still beat

She knew within was hollow.

Girl felt a cold, thin vice,

upon her cold, thin hand

And looked upon with grief

At Lad’s still-sparkling band.

Girl continued on the rocky trail,

But often sat to weep,

Whispering his name brought no avail,

and memory’s wounds were deep.

But her grief was woven

with a stronger thread than she,

One night it drew an evil coven,

Of curious witches three.

Cackling, they asked her,

“What hath befallen thee?”

Girl jumped and walked much faster

So frightened now was she,

“We know the burden of your heart!”

Called the three magicians,

“Fear us not, let us help you,

For we are but mere physicians.”

But Girl kept her stride

And said “I have no money, nor trust for witches.”

And the witches, cackling, gleefully replied

“We offer only aid and have no use for riches.”

Girl then stopped and turned to face the Three,

For her heart was but pain and anguish,

And an end she could not see.

“What aid you offer, O stalking witches?

And what your price, then, if not riches?”

The witches laughed with victorious glee,

And at our Girl did smile,

“We wish to end your suffering,

And bring back your Lad a while.”

“Lad?” Girl cried, “How can you know?

Lad, who hath hurt me so?”

“My dear sweet Girl, your tale we know,

It hath been spun, so long ago.

It is an age-old tale, timeless and grand,

Our price, sweet Girl, is your sparkling band.”

Girl thought she felt a warning in her heart

Though Lad was no longer there with her,

With the band she should not part,

“Your band, my dear, is what we seek,

If it is Lad that you desire,

For the path does not favor the weak,

And companion-less made dire.”

Girl felt a pull inside her soul,

And Lad came to her mind,

His smile that had made her whole,

A love impossible to find.

“A question, witches, if ask I may,

before I give my band away?”

The witches looked at the sparkling ring

with hunger in their eyes,

“My dear, sweet girl, ask anything,

Anything that rests your mind.”

“What use have you of this sparkling treasure?

It is but mere memory,

It has no value beyond its measure,

For its meaning is known only to me.”

“Worry not of these things!

It is that which we require.

Forget your sentiments of that ring!

And we will bring you the one whom you desire!”

So with care she slipped the band away,

Off her cold, thin hand,

She gripped it, shining, in her palms a moment,

then gave away her band.

But the wind blew then,

a cold, strong, gust

That blew the band to the rocky ground,

and shattered it to dust.

Horrified and terrified, Girl began to retreat,

But the witches gathered around her,

And with vines  tied her hands and feet

“I cannot explain this! Let me go!”

Cried the Girl, fighting against the biting vines,

“I cannot explain it! I do not know!”

But the witches cared not for Girl’s cries and pleas,

they tightened the bonds and pinned her body

to the trunk of a leafless tree.

“Liar! Traitor! Deceptive thing!

We want the band, or you’ll dearly pay!

Repair that sparkling, shining ring,

Or we’ll cut your Lad’s head away!”

“It was a gift of mere glass,

No value had it, but sentiment!

I cannot repair the shattered thing,

You must accept its detriment!”

The witches gathered to consider this fact,

The band was gone, shattered to dust,

But the girl was whole and young and brave,

To claim her youth, kill her they must!

The witches, seething, drew a long knife,

Crooked and forked, and dripping dark red,

“If you wish to save Lad, you’ll pay with your life!

“Either pay with your blood, or we take his head.”

Girl trembled in fear against the tree,

And shutting her eyes she tried to see,

One last, precious memory…

End of Chapter One.

Nesha Usmani

2013

Weakness of Emaan (Faith) & its Cures – Yusha Evens

“Hasan Al Basri (rahimullah) said that Emaan is not the substance of your hopes and wishes. It is not just what you aspire to be. You can aspire to be the best Muslim that you want to be. You can dream about making salah all day long. You can dream about Qiyam-ul-Layl all day long, and dream about being the best Muslim (sic). But that’s not Emaan. He (Hasan al Basri) said Emaan is what settles itself in the qalb (Arabic for heart), and then becomes manifested through the actions. ”

Emaan is 3 parts.
1. Belief
2. Belief that is affirmed in the heart
3. Belief that is affirmed in the heart, and then manifested through actions.

Cairo is Dying

is life worth the carnage in the street?

the corner where the children played

drips with blood, black with gore.

Broken glass and broken hearts

This is not the country of your father,

that kills its men and women and babies.

this is not the language of your mother,

that screams in rage, in hate, in oppression,

Here, they target your religion.

Your politics. These brothers you may have

served or salaam-ed?

You can no longer call them your own.

The ones on the rooftops,

in the street,

in the crowd,

the ones sending you to your grave,

peering through their crosshairs.

Nesha Usmani

Gratitude

Bismillahi Ar Rahmani Ar Rahim

The past few weeks have been rough and difficult to understand and contend with, and I’m not sure what the next few weeks will bring. Massive change, for sure, inshAllah. I’m, inshAllah, moving to Chicago to pursue my Master’s…and my emotions concerning that can pretty much boil down to sheer. utter. dread.

More on that later.

Sometimes, when you go through trials, Allah sends little whispers, little clues, little buzzing notes of advice that point you in the right direction. It can be something you see everyday that suddenly clicks with your Emaan and slaps you back to reality or it can be something you hear over and over, a word or a phrase that just seems to be following you around.

That’s what’s been happening to me, subhanAllah. And the word I’ve been hearing over and over and over again: gratitude.

Shukr.

I can’t recall every instance with clarity but I do know this week it was staring me in the face in bright, glowing-green, neon letters, metaphorically speaking.

I keep hearing it! Keep seeing it!! SubhanAllah. On one of my favorite websites (Quranweekly.com), Nouman Ali Khan talks about the 13th Juz of the Quran in his Quranic Gems series. It was alllllll about shukr. Gratitude. Patience.

Telling Allah THANK YOU.

Telling people THANK YOU.

Being grateful for everything you’ve been given by Allah (SWT).

And last night, my mother called me into the living room, sat me down, and told me about Surah Luqman.

SubhanAllah.

And she told me the wisdom and advice from that Surah.

  • Be Grateful to Allah
  • Do not associate partners with Allah
  • Be grateful to your parents
  • Establish prayer
  • Enjoin right
  • Forbid wrong
  • Do not act in contempt with other people
  • Do not live exultantly (luxuriously, arrogantly)
  • “Be moderate in your pace”
  • Lower your voice

(Surah Luqman 31: 13-19)

Now, my mother’s version was more summarized, and she had us listen and repeat the noble advice back to her (yes, at 24 yrs old I still am my mother’s student, May Allah reward her and have mercy on her, Ameen).

And SubhanAllah, I repeated everything but two or three things…

and those are the things I need to work on the most.

Allahu Akbar.

For my own sake I won’t mention them all but the biggest one is gratitude.

Some part of me just…doesn’t know how.

But then I found this:

http://productivemuslim.com/18-ways-to-achieve-greatness-through-gratefulness/

And, ALHAMDULILLAH, it has changed the way I think about this. I guess, part of me, authubillah, feels very insignificant. What is my little tiny puny ‘thank you’ to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, Master of the Day of Judgement, The One and Only? How does it even factor in?? My sins are too much…etc etc etc

I know this is shaitan. I know this is the wrong way to think. SubhanAllah…where is my faith in this matter?

Alhamdulillah, I feel myself starting to think differently. But it’s scary because I feel a lot of emptiness where gratitude should have been. SubhanAllah, I really think that this is what has been missing from my life. I’m just not grateful enough. Maybe, I just don’t know how to be. And if that’s true, then was I even humble before this? How can you be humble without having gratitude…?

You can’t, subhanAllah.

Humility, Gratitude, Piety, Honesty, Modesty, Emaan… all of these attributes are essential and crucial for a Muslim to be successful. And Allah is Ar Rahmaan. The Most Compassionate. Al Gafur. The Forgiver. Al-Afuww. The Pardoner. My biggest issue is doubting whether or not Allah will take up my cause. Whether Allah will help me.

But He already has.

So many times.

Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah. Ya Allah, don’t leave me. Correct my affairs for me and help me to be more grateful towards You. Ya Allah, help us all to worship You better. Ameen.

if you haven’t seen the video (A Life Changing Reminder) I posted concerning Al-Afuww then I urge you to watch it.