Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Life Updates: Chapter Four ( #REALTALK )

So many things to ponder. So many things to wonder.

I often wonder a lot about the wisdom behind all this. I really wonder what Allah is setting me up for in the near future. Not knowing the unseen can seem to be very frustrating and can cause a  lot of anxiety but I guess this is the hit or miss lesson where we either learn how to gain tawwakul (reliance and trust upon Allah) or we fail and end up wallowing in our self-pity and missing the whole point of the tests and trials of life. The latter was me for quite some time. It took me a while to get out of my self-pity and to be honest, sometimes I still fall into it. I guess it is part of being a human being right? We always want to take the easier way out and being negative is just easier than fighting to stay positive.

I know that one day I may realize and know the wisdom behind Allah's tests and trials that He has put me through/in. But it is so hard to fit all the pieces together when you are in a situation that is not in your favour. My vision becomes blurry and my judgment becomes clouded. Sometimes I think the angels do not surround me often when I am living here because of all the photographs, the idols, and all the shirk thus I hide myself in my room (the only place with no pictures or statues lol)  as much as I can and limit my interaction with my parents because it is the only way to keep the home in a neutral position. I can't deny that I do feel negative vibes around me often and it is obvious that there are many shayateen around my parent's place. The reasons are obvious and I know I could blame my external situation for my internal peace but I decided that I can't do that. I know that I am responsible for my own self and my own actions. If I am not feeling positive, it is because of my deficiencies and weaknesses. As much as I would love to blame my physical surroundings for my mental state of mind (and know that I am guilty many times for this) , I know that I need to dig deeper into my heart and find that inner peace which can bring me solace.

Don't get me wrong, however, I do allow myself to get into these phases where I become straight up sad and extremely discouraged with life. I allow myself to get to the deepest and darkest realm of these negative feelings because it helps me realise that not only am I human, but also it reminds me just how temporary this dunya truly is. It serves as a reminder that I need to really work harder on myself because I am allowing my external situation get the better of me. If I allow this to control my state of mind and my soul, then it means that I am missing the whole point of learning how to understand and practise tawakkul and sabr.

I remember Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimuAllah) and how he was in jail and even though his external circumstances were not ideal, he made the most of it and it became in his favour. He considered being jailed as a blessing because he was able to focus on the deen and subhana'Allah, he became one of the most prominent scholars up until this day! I know that I cannot follow in his footsteps to dedicate my life to studying the religion because I just don't have it in me at the present moment and I remember those days I used to study, study, study Islam and it consumed me and at the end it burnt me out and I left it altogether. I find that being moderate and taking small steps to get to bigger goals works best for me. I realised that I cannot compare myself to those who are greater and as much as they inspire me, I just don't have that drive to want to become like them. I mean, it doesn't mean that I won't make a conscious effort in trying to reach that level (and if Allah wills maybe one day I will benefit others in the deen like how our great scholars have) but that just seems something totally far fetched to me (lol) and I don't have that desire either. #REALTALK.

I think a lot of us need to be honest with ourselves. It is good to set goals for ourselves, realistic goals. I know that I am not the academic type and studying for me is such a chore. I am still on my journey to figuring out what things I enjoy doing and what things I can offer to benefit others in the way of Allah.

I really encourage others to do the same. To discover what kind of gifts and talents Allah has blessed you with so that you can use them in His way and to guide others to the religion using your gifts. I feel like when you are able to do that, no problems of yours will be too big to overcome because you have a fallback. You have something Allah gave you and you can use that to your advantage to help others and to help yourself get over your obstacles. I feel like finding your talent and your gift from Allah is something that can help you when you are going through trials and test. It will take time to figure it all out and it does require a trial and error approach.

Even to this day, I am still trying to figure out what my passions are and how they can bring me happiness and true joy while I can also utilize it for the sake of Allah. I truly believe that using your talents and gifts that Allah has blessed you with for his sake, will truly help you and guide you to goodness and happiness within. I think this is what we need in order to help give us ease during those hardships. There are countless videos and articles online related to treating depression by doing good deeds and helping others. Subhana'Allah this is what the non-Muslims have figured out and studies have proved that this theory works. Can you imagine as a Muslim, we can do what we love in order to please Allah and at the same time it benefits others? And we get rewarded for it and it does not go to waste! This is why it is important to discover that hobby, that passion, that special skill that Allah has given us and use it to our advantage because it is the cure to all sadness!

So many things to learn on this journey to the Akhirah eh? Some day we will realise the wisdom behind what Allah has written for us, and maybe we will never know what was intended behind all our pain, struggles and sufferings in this dunya. As hard as that may be to accept, we have to always remind ourselves about what the purpose of this life truly is. This dunya was never made to make us feel comfortable and settled. It was never meant to make us feel safe and protected. The dunya is only made to test us and show us that all the feelings we have for it, all the attachments we develop for it is only temporary and just how shaytan will abandon us on the day of judgement and so will the dunya. Why should we attach ourselves to something that will leave us?

I guess what I'm trying to say is that in the end, Allah is the only one who is with us always- even though we may not feel it at times, He is always with us. He is the only one we should turn to in times of ease and in times of need. I know we are all aware of this because that is what tawheed is, but when we are faced with difficulties and even when there is nothing but ease, trying to remember that Allah is with us can be difficult. Especially when we keep making duaa and increasing in good deeds yet we do not see any results of our duaas being answered! I know exactly how you feel and believe me, it is something that I really struggle with.

It is so easy to get caught up with the life of this world, I often get so caught up with it too that I forget that all this pain and suffering is not in vain and it is all for my own good. All the pain and suffering we go through in this life is nothing compared to that of the Akhirah (may Allah protect us ameen!) and whenever you feel like you can't go on further in life, use that moment of weakness to think about the many gifts and talents that you possess and use them to your advantage and use them to get close to Allah.

I used to sit and wait for life to fall into place, but I realised that life waits for NOBODY! The more I sit and wait around, the more depressed I get. So I decided to start writing again and here I am. Documenting my struggles and my hardships hoping that it can reach out to just a few of you, letting you know that you are not alone with your thoughts or your sadness. Allah is with you, you just have to bear a little more, a little longer and soon, soon you will taste the beautiful sweetness of ease and joy.

I too, am waiting for that day. Until then, keep busy and hold on tight.










Monday, August 14, 2017

Life Updates : Chapter Three - Life as a Convert (Revert)




The best of cures for sadness is to know that one cannot bring back what he has missed and that by being sad, one is just adding a misfortune to an already existing misfortune, thus making it two misfortunes. Ibn al Jawzi in Disciplining the soul Pg.70 (via hassan-ibn-abdul-qadir)



I guess since my most recent posts, I have been able to find some solace in expressing myself through writing and sharing with others my struggles. Even though nobody has really reached out to me (except for my friends who I know personally), it feels comforting to know that somebody..anybody...somewhere in the world can understand my pain and can relate one way or another. It is nice to know that I am not alone, even though I feel very alone with my thoughts and with what I am going through, I know that somewhere close to home, there is someone going through difficult times and struggling to stay positive each and every day.


My life as a convert has definitely not been an easy one. In fact, I have experienced more hardships and difficulties while I became Muslim compared to my life when I was a non-Muslim. Life as a non-Muslim was so much easier! I could drink away my problems, I could listen to music to drown the negative thoughts, I could easily go and party away the night just to forget about things until the next day! I basically drowned myself with distractions to help me get over life and all it's problems temporarily. But now, now I can't do things like that because when I reflect on how that toxic lifestyle made me feel and how it brought me nowhere in life but down, I realize that detrimental lifestyle was slowly killing my life within. I made rash decisions, I had no morals and values and I treated life like a game. 

But now, now I am faced with reality. Life has pushed itself in front of my face and it won't move. I am face to face with life and I can't push it away with this or that. I must deal with it in a way that I am not used to. I must deal with it in a way that I am not sure how because before Islam, I only knew one way, and that was the easy way out. I would follow the exit sign and just run, run, run.

Today, I can't do that. I made a conscious choice in my life and I dedicated myself to those choices . I made a commitment and though I have had problems committing to many things in the past, this I knew was something different. This was a commitment that I needed in my life and it was something I knew would benefit me in the long hull. Islam is a commitment for a better life, a better me.  I will be honest with myself though, during hardships, it is hard to see beyond my distorted vision of reality that Islam is meant to help me get through my life's biggest challenges. Sometimes I feel like things are only getting worse and not better even though I strive and I strive and I try to fulfill my obligations as a Muslimah. I wonder and I think "is all this pain and suffering even worth it?" I know some who read this will not understand and I know others who read this will understand because after all, we are human. I guess things have to get worse before they get better right? That is how we learn and grow in life.

I feel exhausted , honestly, I am so tired. Sometimes when things just don't get better, you start to become discouraged. I feel like my life is very stagnant right now and I am feeling frustrated. I don't know if it is because I keep expecting change to come soon - happy change. Maybe because I expect something in a certain time frame and when nothing happens, I become disappointed. I then remember that everything happens when Allah wants it to. As hard as it is to accept, this is something I have to really believe and understand. When I try to look at the big picture, I think to myself - "hey, it has only been nearly two years right? It is not THAT long!" but then I think about my situation and who I am living with and how even one month living here feels like an eternity. Though time has gone by so fast subhana'Allah, it feels like it has stood still.

My 2011 new Muslim self would have told my current Muslim self that I should utilize all this time to learn and read and watch lectures and attend dars and spend every sleeping, waking moment studying and learning about the deen. But my current Muslim self would have told my then 2011 new Muslim self that you are going to end up burning yourself out and everything will become a burden to you. This did happen and I am just starting to learn how to balance the deen in a moderate manner. 

It is also hard for me to listen to lectures while living with my non-Muslim parents because the dynamics of our relationship will just cause more speculations and assumptions with my deen and I don't have a close enough relationship where I could explain to them "see I am now listening to a lecture about patience and gratitude." There are many things I struggle with while living at home . I am constantly surrounded by endless backbiting and gossiping. I am constantly surrounded by negativity and blame. Things that come easily to most Muslims, are extremely foreign to my parents and explaining things to them will just probably end up in an argument or they just won't understand. Maybe it is the language barrier, or maybe they just hear what I say but don't actually listen. My ears have become immune to music because they love to watch things with music and Chinese singing competitions (lol). Alhamdulillah at least I don't understand what the songs say but shaytan loves these kinds of fasiq things so it just is an open invitation always for the shaytan! I mean even in a Muslim household the shaytan wants to creep up uninvited, so you can only imagine living with non-Muslim parents who have tons of idols and photos everywhere! 

I keep to my room the majority of the time and I choose my conversations wisely because that is the kind of relationship I have with my parents - a surface one. There are tons of unresolved issues and grudges that brew deep down inside of them and myself so that is why it is such a toxic environment if I surround myself too much with them. Many people have suggested that I try this and that or do such and such but I have certain guidelines and restrictions that I choose to place on myself because I know what kind of fitnah those other options could bring therefore I do not want to resort to them and basically I have to outweigh my pros and cons. So I am stuck here and this is my life living with non-Muslim parents. 

This is what a lot of converts go through. We are stuck with our parents and if they don't oppress us with our religion, they oppress us in one way or another. Most have to endure humiliation, constant opposition and some are even kicked out of their homes with nowhere to go. Is there support from the community? From what I have noticed, not really. We really need to reach out to the new Muslims and even the born Muslims. It is just a matter of time until people start leaving Islam, and many are already choosing that path, Muslim converts and born Muslims! How scary is that thought? But can you blame them? Many convert to Islam, hoping to be welcomed into the community but only to be judged, abandoned and disregarded! How do you expect anyone to hold onto the deen when there is absolutely no support aside from the congrats and the hugs they receive after they proclaim their faith to Allah?! 

Everyone is too focused on themselves and their own problems- which is understandable to some degree. But this is unacceptable and since I have lived here I noticed that a lot of people are so self- centered (even if they don't do it intentionally) and they will initially be concerned with how you are doing, but then they just end up being busy with life and they forget about you. Of course alhamdulillah there ARE some sisters who really make that effort and they do go above and beyond and alhamdulillah Allah has blessed me with some. But for other converts, they have nobody. They really are all alone and they have no support whatsoever. So how can we blame them and judge them when we find out they left Islam? Please reach out to those new Muslims in your area, not only will you have relief on the day of judgment for relieving one of your sisters in Islam in the dunya, but you will also carry the reward of any good deeds that they do! 

“A Muslim is a brother of (another) Muslim, he neither wrongs him nor does hand him over to one who does him wrong. If anyone fulfills his brother’s needs, Allah will fulfill his needs; if one relieves a Muslim of his troubles, Allah will relieve his troubles on the Day of Resurrection…” [Bukhari and Muslim].


“Whoever guides someone to goodness will have a similar reward. ( Sahih Muslim 1893)

Life I tell ya, it is so exhausting. I'm still on this journey and every day I am constantly reminded of just how frustrating, tiring, and annoying this dunya is. Nothing will ever go the way I want it to and things never last - even though at this very moment, this pain and frustration feels like it will never go away. But I know that sadness, depression , happiness,  joy,  etc.. all those things come and go. Even though I am constantly experiencing only sadness and frustration, I guess some day, I will finally experience happiness and joy ...because that is what Allah promises right? 

Some days are better than others and some days I just choose to bury these feelings inside of me deep somewhere within. I feel like these feelings will never disappear, they just become numb and forgotten for short periods of time- well better than nothing right? I'm trying to stay positive. I have stopped expecting people to be there for me and even though I have friends who try their best to be supportive and encouraging, at the end of the day they have their own family and their own problems to deal with. They are not always there when I really need them- and I have accepted this and that is just part of life. It just proves to us that the only One who will always be with us no matter what is Allah. 

As for now, this journey is mine and mine alone and even though I feel like nobody will ever know how I feel and what I am going through except for myself (because our hardships are our own and nobody really will ever understand), I know that Allah is the only one who knows what is going on in my heart, my head and He knows my situation because He put me in it in the first place. Even though I may not feel that Allah is with me at times, I know deep down that I must continue to believe and hold on and if He put me in it, He will get me through and out of it (insha'Allah)....as hard as that is to believe right now.  I must remember that commitment I made to myself and how I could choose the easy way out which would cause more harm in this life and the next or I could choose the hard way through which will hopefully bring about happiness and joy in this life and the next. 

Which one would you choose?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Life Update : Chapter Two ( Growing Pains)

I felt like I should have done this a long time ago, and it only dawned on me now but since my most recent post, I felt that it really helped me in certain ways and I felt like writing again, because why not right? No pressure on myself and no commitment. Since this has been such a journey, I thought I would just turn my thoughts into chapters.

The more I feel obligated to post on my blog, the more it deters me away. Whenever I am forced to do something, I always feel like the enjoyment factor is taken out of the activity. For example, whenever I plan for Ramadan or have a schedule that I MUST stick to, I always end up failing and then I feel upset with myself because I was unable to follow the schedule whereas when I just improvise and go with the flow, I tend to become more productive and that is when I am at my most comfortable and creative state! Is anyone else like that too?

ANYWAY ,

So after my most recent post , after what felt like half a decade before I decided to resurface! I was thinking about my life and where I am currently since I converted to Islam. Honestly, where I am in my life at 2017 compared to where I THOUGHT I would be now back in 2011 is definitely not what I ever imagined or expected. I thought by now I would have had a family of my own and other parts of my life would have been sorted out by now. But none of that has happened and I am back to where I was physically 7 years ago. Stuck at home with my parents lol. This situation really does bring back a lot of memories for me. As mentioned in my previous post, a lot of my childhood consisted of emotional, physical, and mental abuse. Mainly because I am an only child and my parents only knew from what their culture taught them: raise children with strict discipline, beat them with no mercy and show no affection or love. Even to this day, I will never be able to talk to them about things that bother me or things that I want to do in my life for fear of being judged or using my failures against me or just being blamed for everything I do or don't do. It is definitely a toxic environment and extremely draining mentally and emotionally. That is why I never lived at home much during my young adult life because I just couldn't deal with that feeling of being a prisoner in my own home. I am definitely feeling again like a prisoner in my own home, maybe not physically but definitely mentally and emotionally. It is a struggle each and every day to have to live accordingly without compromising my deen. So that is why during my non-Muslim days, I would just live my life the way I knew how to and I would drown my sorrows and troubles with listening to music, partying and staying out of the house until dawn. I ran away from my problems and I wanted instant relief and I would do anything to get it.

The reason why I am writing about this is that I realized why I am struggling and having a hard time dealing with these current hardships. It is because, this time, I have to face my problems and there is no running away from them nor is there a quick relief for them. Even though things are somewhat different, things are still the same from 7+ years (living with my parents who still treat me like i'm 12) I now have to deal with my problems head on and there is no quick fix for it AT all. This is what is so frustrating and this is why I am having a difficult time. Never before in my life did I have to face my problems, I always found a quick fix around them or I would just simply run away from them and forget about them until they crept up on me again and then I would just complete the same vicious cycle over and over. Though the problems will not go away until Allah wills them to, I guess this whole experience is to help me gain sabr and to help me grow emotionally- 'growing pains', if you will.

A week ago, in the halaqah I attended, we talked about how to develop emotional intelligence, how do we grow emotionally and learn how to have a healthy balance with our emotions. It made me think about myself. I realized from a young age I really had a lot of pain and suffering emotionally because nobody was really there for me when I needed them the most. I would cry to anybody who would listen but most of the time I would jot my thoughts down on paper and writing became my release. I only knew of negative emotions and I am now trying to find that balance and not let the negativity take over my mind and my heart.

From that halaqah, I concluded that this whole life lesson is to help me develop more sabr and to help me grow emotionally. Though my emaan may be weak at the moment and holding on to faith and hope at this point in my life is something that doesn't come easy, I know this is because I am going through growing pains. I guess because I ran away from everything for the whole of my life and I always found instant temporary relief for my problems, I am not used to this new concept of actually facing your reality rather than running away from it. I am starting to believe this is what Allah wants me to learn. I am convinced that this is the only way I can mature spiritually as well as emotionally. Even though it is something I hate, I try to remind myself that, "But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you, and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not" (2:216) and even though I have a hard time accepting this, I know deep down that everything I go through, good or bad, there is good in it whether I believe it or not at the time. It is not easy you know. Struggling to accept the qadr of Allah and to know that whatever you go through, it is what you need in your life at this exact moment. Whatever you are going through is where you should be right now. This is what was written for you and this is what you need to accept. Even though many of us, myself included, believe this with our tongues, it is another thing to actually believe it with our hearts. I find myself often saying " yes, I am aware, yes, I know" but then sometimes I find my actions completely opposite. And this is where I struggle. 

In 2011, I found myself going through a lot of ease. The first three years as a Muslim, I spent most of my days learning about the deen and preaching to others what I learned. I was very active online and had many of my own online community friends who would follow me trying to enjoin good. A few years later, reality hit me and the verse "Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: "We believe," and will not be tested." (29:2) fully hit me and now I am learning to fight the battle instead of running away from it. Although there are just so many times where I wish I could just hide from everything- but where would I hide anyway? 

I look back at myself then compared to now and I feel like I was so naive. Being a Muslimah back then was such a simple task. It was a simple routine of eat, sleep, pray. But now, now I am learning the true meaning of living as a Muslimah in this dunya. Tests upon tests, hardships upon hardships. In 2014, real life started to happen and since then, every day remains a struggle. I strongly believe that these tests will never end until I return to Allah, and even then, there is the trials of the grave and the questioning on The Day. 

At the halaqah, it was mentioned that the happiest Muslim woman is the one who lives her life remembering the Last Day and how she will return to her Lord. Living your life like this will fill your soul with richness. I strongly believe this and I wish some day I can get over the reality of this life and transcend to that level, but until then each day remains a struggle to remember and live up to my identity as a Muslimah. 

I am trying to accept that life isn't always measured by the material successes in your life ( marriage, children, career, etc) but it is based on your inner self and how you can be content with your internal centre even if your external circumstances are not in your favour. My external circumstances are nowhere in my favour right now (except Alhamdulillah I rather be in Toronto than USA ANY DAY! ) and my challenges in life is to learn how to be content with what I have and to be content with who I am so that whatever external challenges that come my way, I can accept them and learn how to deal with them. 
Maybe I am a slow learner and maybe everyone else has this figured out but me, but I guess it is a start right? I can finally say life, ain't easy. There have been so many times I wanted to just give up but alhamdulillah, Islam has helped me find my way no matter how lost this dunya makes me feel. It has not been easy and I know now that life will never get easier, it is only us who learn to adapt and change our outlook on life thus allowing us to become better and stronger in facing the reality of this fleeting, temporary life.

Sigh.