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

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Tiny Changes

Tonight, while cooking dinner at the end of a very long day, I went to my Pandora app on my phone and tapped one of my custom radio stations.

But, while chopping vegetables, I realized that I wasn’t feeling all that great about Bruce Springsteen as I used to.

In fact, on the way to the animal shelter a few days ago, another artist I used to like was, at that moment, causing me a great deal of ache in my head  (see what I did there?) the sound was echoing weirdly and it just fhjghrjkh gw hoijdsijfhdbjh.

Tonight, what I actually wanted to listen to was a series on Muhammad (Peace be upon him), whilst dicing up the celery and stripping the chicken of the fat.

Now, before you go all crazy and tell me, “now, Nesha, things like that are not meant to be used as background noise…tsk tsk tsk”

I know. It wasn’t! I was listening, I promise.

I also listened to it on the way home from the animal shelter today, and I became very emotional whilst listening to the revelations about Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him)  that are actually mentioned in the Bible! Citing the sources and Bibles as well!

SubhanAllah!

The amount of information I don’t know, the knowledge I didn’t try to pursue until know has become overwhelming to me. How could I not know about the similarities between Musa (AS) and Muhammad (SAW)? How could I not have ever slaked my curiosity about the Prophet’s (PBUH) wives (RA)?? Why did I never contemplate the reason for all of the Prophets (peace and blessings be upon them) being shepherds of sheep, and not of, say, horses? Why sheep? Why goats? Why them? The significance of the word “IQRA”, what it meant to Rasulullah (SAW), and what it means for us, and why it’s different from his. The mathematical proof of Rasulullah’s (SAW) revelations…and his beautiful mind and love for his Ummah.

His acceptance of gifts over charity (concerning himself , Peace be upon him).

The building and rebuilding (5 times!) of the Ka’bah.

Muhammad (SAW)’s ancestry. His parents! SubhanAllah.

The information I’ve learned and digested so far…just…wow. SubhanAllah. I don’t know that I’ve ever appreciated my religion and ALL of the Prophets (PBUthem) as much as I do now. The history is just so intense and incredible.

haha, I definitely don’t remember Sunday school being as interesting and awe-inspiring. It brings me to my knees in wonder and amazement, and praise to Allah (SWT).  Allahu Akbar.

It also makes me realize how much more there is to learn. May Allah make it easy, fulfilling and beneficial, Ameen!

The next few months are going to be umm….crazy.

In a day, or two, my sister’s coming home FINALLY. InshAllah.

Next weekend something awesome is going to happen, inshAllah.  Or at least I hope. InshAllah.

After that I’m apartment hunting in Chicago inshAllah ….because I’m going to grad school there, inshAllah!!!

And then in mid-June, I’m off to Scotland to visit family and absorb the accent and come back skinny and Scottish. Or atleast skinny, inshAllah.

InshAllah, at the endish of August I’ll be moving to Chicago.

And then will proceed to lose all sanity and social life to classes like “Biostatistics” and “epidemiology.”

Gulp.

In between all these titanic sized events I’m going to continue, inshAllah, to learn more about Islam and also try to improve myself. Also try to figure out why my body is conspiring against me.

Either it does not realize that exercise and diet = weight loss, or it’s just completely insubordinate. Doctor’s appointment on Tuesday, inshAllah, we’ll see what’s going on there.

On a side note, if I have any lady readers out there (yes, you, o’pretty one), I have a gift for you.

2 tbsp greek yogurt

2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp lemon juice

combine in a bowl. Smoosh on your face.

THE. BEST. FACE. MASK. EVER.

***please keep in mind that turmeric is a rather hyper shade of yellow. It will leave a yellow tinge. To remove this, put boiling water into a large bowl, and cover the bowl with a large towel. Duck your head beneath the towel and let the steam rise against your face in 10-15 second intervals, gently using the towel to exfoliate in an upwards-rubbing-motion in between intervals. repeat until water is cooled or you’ve had enough, OR, just wash your face with a gentle cleanser and use a make-up removing wipe to clear up the rest.***

you’re welcome 🙂

Nesha

At 24

Bismilliahi Ar Rahmani Ar Rahim.

Assalamu Alaikum

At 24 years, my heart has beat, according to my last calculation, over 988,303,680 times since my birth. The number is higher than this, since…you know…it’s still beating as I type this, alhamdulillah.

1 billion times.

Allah has brought me to my 24th year, through 1 billion heartbeats. SubhanAllah.

(insert “if I had a dollar for every time my heart beat” joke here)

It’s okay, you can laugh!

So, a billion beats through every moment of sadness, elation, guilt, happiness, terror, depression, hope, fury, dread, awe, humiliation, suspicion, curiosity, worry, frustration, pain, anguish, regret, and love.

Beating through all of my thoughts and dreams. While I slept, ate, worked, cried, prayed, studied, and laughed, my heart has never stopped, alhamdulillah. 

Recently, very recently, in the dark moments when I thought my heart would surely stop, could not take anymore pain or heartache. Could not suffer one more loss…it kept going. Pushing me along in my life with only the will of Allah to guide it.

A billion heartbeats, averaging 78 per minute.

Then which of the blessings will you deny? (Qur’an 55:13)

When my heart stops, my chance for repentance goes with it.

As long as it beats, every second of every minute of every hour of every day of every week of every month of every year…it’s another gift from Allah, another chance, another opportunity to turn to Allah and seek refuge and guidance and repentance in Him.

Don’t despair. If you’re alive, take advantage of it.

Rasulullah (SAW) is reported to have said:

“Take advantage of 5 things before 5 things overcome you:
Take advantage of your youth before your old age.
Take advantage of your health before your sickness.
Take advantage of of your life before your death.
Take advantage of your wealth before your poverty, and
Take advantage of your free time before becoming preoccupied.

[Narrated by al-Haakim on the authority of Ibn Abbaas]

Don’t lose sight of what Allah has given you. Everything within you and around you is there because of Allah’s will; use everything to get close to Allah!

May Allah increase us in Ilm and give us steadfastness and Ihsaan. May Allah correct our affairs for us and forgive our sins, and keep our hearts beating long enough to earn His pleasure and a home near Him in Jannah . Ameen.

Sources:

http://audio-islam.com/2012/10/02/take-care-of-five-things-before-five-things-umar-bryant-mp3en/