Beauty.. I’ve thought about this long and hard and arrived at the following conclusion:
Beauty is what I see with my eyes, not what the world defines for me.
I see beauty in a heart that is shattered, broken, and yet beats with undying hope and faith.
I see beauty in a child’s hand reaching out instinctively for its parent for security.
I see beauty in the tears a daughter sheds for her parents, the depth of love her heart holds for them and how it aches with the realization that some day she will have to part from them..
I see beauty in a woman’s inherent desire for a child despite her barrenness.. And how her eyes sparkle with tears as she glances at a mother walking her baby in a stroller.
I see beauty in the brave soul that picks up its broken pieces after falling at every fork in the road and continues to walk with its head held up high, taking challenges head on — without waver or even the slightest sense of defeat.
I see beauty in my scars.
Never think of yourself as a victim. Every battle you fight, every scar and every wound, every pit of despair that you rise from, every stumble and fall, every tear and every pang of pain, has given birth to a new you. Its created a unique, special someone who knows to never settle for anything but the best; someone who lives freely with dignity and honor, breaking away from shackles of the past. Someone who’s purpose in life is to look above and ahead and not be tied down by a defeatist mentality. When you quit victimizing yourself, thats when you will really see your emotional strength and the real you.
“And who is more unjust than one who invents about Allah untruth while he is being invited to Islam. And Allah does not guide the wrongdoing people.” [as-Saff; 7]
While pondering over this verse I just thought how subtly yet firmly Allaah relays messages to us. Although this ayah is referring to the mushrikeen who rejected tawheed when Islaam was presented to them, but the beauty of Qur’aan is such that any ayah can show you a personal lesson, should you just look a bit deeper. As believers we obviously don’t commit shirk in the sense of associating partners to Him (wa na’udho billaahi min dhalik), but as humans we tend to fall into sin every so often, giving our nafs precedence over Allaah. We are in actuality rejecting Allaah’s commands and the boundaries He set for us by committing those sins. And then we stand in front of Allaah in salah, halfheartedly reciting al-Fatiha, asking for hidayah and then wondering why our lives are miserable. The emptiness we feel inside is not due to some worldly object or a person we may be missing; it is due to the fact that we have not tasted the sweetness of the mere extending of Allaah’s Hand towards us: Guidance. It is because we have put so much distance between us and Allaah, that He does not even wish to guide us.. “..and Allaah does not guide the wrongdoing people..” – that subhan’Allaah is misery and emptiness and that is why you see people filling their void with worldly objects and desires and that void only seems to grow more and more deeper.
In order to be guided, you have to want guidance as is the case with anything we want in life. And that again, is another valuable lesson. This philosophy of life, i.e. having a true desire for what we want in our hearts so that we may receive it, has been taught to us by Allaah hundreds of years ago, and has only recently been translated into self-help books and labelled as the Law of Attraction.
Subhan’Allaah, how subtle are His ways of guidance..
Sitting in the backyard listening to the birds, watching the ants, feeling the cool breeze on my skin..and right now in this moment I feel peace. I’m content. And I’m filled with gratitude towards Allaah for every minute of my life; every second of sadness and every moment of joy because all of it combined has brought me to this place of calm and serenity from within. Altogether its made me, me.
Look around you. Theres so much to be thankful for. Step out of your little mental prison into the beauty Allaah has created for you. Those birds and ants and even the gorgeous roses may want nothing to do with us but Allaah placed them and everything else around us so that we can reflect upon them and so that when our world of self-imposed barriers gets too much to bear, we can escape into this sanctuary to find some peace, freedom and comfort.
Its so amazing how Allaah sends us subtle signs with lessons so deep but all it requires is an inquisitive and contemplative mind. Few days ago, I was in bed, trying my best to cope with physical pain that was simply indescribable. With weeks of going through this ordeal, I was on the verge of a breakdown but I bit my lip and silently prayed for cleansing of my soul through this test. A little while later, I was distracted by the sound of buzzing. It was coming from my window. I had left the window open just enough to be able to hear rain that had been pouring all night. It somehow helped me through the exhaustion I feel the entire night. When I looked from beneath the blinds, I saw a butterfly that was trapped. The poor thing had been trying to escape from the tiny opening between the glass window and the net behind it. I snapped a quick picture of it (thanks to my gorgeous new Samsung Galaxy S II) before I set it free.
Everything happens for a reason. Not a single leaf falls without purpose. And so when I looked at the picture of this beautiful butterfly, I was reminded of the stages and toils it has to go through simply to turn into this wondrous beauty.
And this is how the trials in life transform us: they strengthen us and mold us into better, beautiful, courageous, individuals.
If physical pain – having experienced nothing like this before – has taught me anything, its patience and strength. Both come from Allaah alone. If He has put us in the middle of a storm, He will most certainly deliver us from it and that’s guaranteed. The Prophets, their companions and those who came after them (may Allaah unite us with them in Jannah) all went through various forms of pain, but they all came out of it stronger and bi ‘idhnillaah purer in the sight of Allaah. They held on tightly when it was the hardest, and that’s all Allaah required of them.
Gail Sheehy, an American journalist said: “With each passage of human growth we must shed a protective structure. We are left exposed and vulnerable – but also yeasty and embryonic again, capable of stretching in ways we hadn’t known before.”
I can only hope that this test for me is as the process of molting (skin shedding) is for a butterfly and that I come out of this as strong as the butterfly despite its apparent fragility.
We concern ourselves so much with expressing our love for our spouses, children, parents, friends, etc. But when was the last time we expressed our love for the One Who gave us all of those people? Say the words. Say, I love you Allaah. He is the most deserving of those words followed by actions as proof of them.
Make a habit to do this after every salah and before going to bed. Your expression of love for Him will plant seeds of contentment and bliss in your heart. Then nurture those seeds with ‘ibaadah, gratitude and patience. And when you do that, you will be the most happiest person on earth.
مَا أَصَابَ مِن مُّصِيبَةٍ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ ۗ وَمَن يُؤْمِن بِاللَّهِ يَهْدِ قَلْبَهُ ۚ وَاللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ
“No disaster strikes except by permission of Allaah. And whoever believes in Allaah – He will guide his heart. And Allaah is Knowing of all things.”
– [at-Taghabun; 11]
3 Quick lessons learned from this profoundly rich ayah:
1. “No disaster strikes except by permission of Allaah..“ – Everything that happens to us – good or bad – is with the permission of Allaah. Once we know that, then one thing is for sure: Allaah does what He does for our sake. As in every challenge that we encounter, is a reality check from Him, a reminder, a wake-up call, and it is also a push for us in the right direction. It is then upon us to grasp this realization and take benefit from it. He’s put you in the middle of a test, what have you learned from it? Where are you going with it?
2. “And whoever believes in Allaah – He will guide his heart..” – so beautiful subhan’Allaah. Believing in Allaah entails relying on Him, having faith in Him and trusting Him such that when you’re about to fall (into a test), you do so knowing that He will be there to catch you, and will guide you throughout. So when you’re tested, who do you run to? Who is it that you turn your heart to? Are you seeking guidance from the wrong sources?
3. “..And Allaah is Knowing of all things.” – The ayah ends with what it teaches us in the first part: Allaah is aware of everything that happens. Just as these trials take place with His Permission and His Wisdom, our reactions to it are also known to Him. If your sadness has brought you down to your knees to seek help from Allaah, then know that your tears are not hidden from Him. But if your pain has taken over you so much that you have resolved to sins, then that too – no matter what reason or logic you cloak it with – is not concealed from Allaah. Take a moment to reflect on your reactions to what you’re going through. Has your anguish blinded you from seeing through the wisdom in your test or is your heart rich and satisfied with contentment?
Gratitude is such a powerful tool that can re-charge your battered soul in an instant. A quick exercise I like to do whenever I find myself on the brink of a breakdown and this doesn’t take more than 5 minutes: Sit in a quiet place, grab a pen and a notepad. Take a deep breath and then think about at least 3 things that you are grateful for, things that you have in your life at this moment. Write them down. And you will see within a moment how instantly your perspective has changed.
Gratitude refines your focus on life and helps you live in the present moment, and when you’re content with your present, you will not worry about whats passed or whats about to happen. None of that matters because you know that just as those 3 things were given to you by Allaah, He and only He has control over all your affairs, and without a shred of doubt He will take care of you just as He has all these years, through His mysterious ways.
If you make this a regular exercise every night before bed, you’ll see the changes it’ll make in your life.
A wise friend once said to me: “The sunnah of Allaah is that things change when we least expect, not when we do expect.” And that is so true. We are often so persistent on asking for that one thing, continuously like a nagging child and we’ll even throw an emotional tantrum when there’s a delay in a response. But do we ever stop to think that if we haven’t been granted our wish yet despite our constant asking, then perhaps the lesson for us is to stop chasing it?
Time and again, to my amazement, I have found myself given what I had wanted so much only after I had stopped running after it. This does not in any way mean that we stop praying for it, but it is actually a beautiful lesson in humility, patience and perspective. We can ask without making that thing our focus. Because when it becomes our focus, it turns into an obsession like a hole that digs itself deeper, and an obsession keeps us from aspects of our lives that are far more deserving of our attention and time. And just when you free yourself of that fixation, you will see doors opening before you; a path of possibilities unraveling right before your eyes.
I haven’t been getting much sleep lately and by this morning I felt a massive headache kicking in, kinda like what people often describe as a hangover after getting drunk. For me, the hangover was from a piece of shattering news I received yesterday.
My heart felt constricted under the choking weight of grief like a lump in my throat. But as I finished praying fajr and raised my hands to make du`aa, a little voice inside me reminded me that this too shall pass.. I decided it was upto me: I could either wallow in misery or choose to be happy, do the best I can and continue living.
I chose happiness. For me, happiness = acceptance and being content in the present moment and to continue living with the mantra of never giving up. Its not easy to choose when you’re fighting off overwhelming emotional pain, but it most certainly is liberating.
Life as we know is all about making decisions and choices. For me, the most important daily decision to make is to start my day with renewed faith and making a conscious effort of choosing happiness regardless of my circumstances. And that results into a lighter, more content me.