Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Life Updates: Chapter Nine - Giving up

So I decided to take a browse around my blog (and I encourage you to as well, it is free of charge!) and take a look at some older posts that I wrote. To my surprise, I noticed that for the past four years there has been a reoccurring theme where I speak about my emaan, my hardships that affect my emaan, and me being in a physical environment that is not in my favour. It is kind of funny to read back and see myself speaking about the same things I am blogging about currently. I guess it is a re-occurring theme?

The reason why I wanted to point this out was that it reminds me again and again that life will NEVER go the way I want it to nor go the way I expect it to! I was in KY, a place I physically, absolutely detested and still I was going through struggles and hardships - externally and internally. Now I am back home in my beautiful country yet I find myself in a circumstance which if I had a chance to choose, would definitely not choose it at all!

That brings me back to remembering what Islam is all about. How even if the external circumstances are not befitting to you, you must be content and pleased with what Allah has given you and to connect with your inner self. Finding that richness deep within instead of looking for it around you.
“Wealth is not in having many possessions. Rather, true wealth is the richness of the soul.”Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 6081, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 1051.This is such a simple yet deep reminder.

I always think that success in life is determined by how many children you have, having a successful career and living somewhere where you love with loved ones. I think perhaps all this time I have been missing the point because I allowed and continue to allow my external circumstances affect my well-being and emaan. Not to say, though, that your external circumstances do not have a role to play on you internal centre because it definitely does. Your external circumstances can really affect you in ways you can never imagine. Many individuals including myself can't find peace of mind in an environment that is unfamiliar or makes us uncomfortable. I am still struggling and to be honest, I really don't think I will find peace of mind until I remove myself from this environment, but at least I can strive to find a balance where I can tolerate my circumstances and try to exercise sabr.

Since my external environment is not somewhere I really wish to be, I try to do what I can and make it work. Many times I have failed and that is normal because again, I am only a human being and I can't expect myself to be in a good mood 24/7. I know a lot of us wish that things would go our way because it is just easier. When we can have what we want, live where we want to live and do the things we want to do, it is just easier.

Things are just easier when we don't have to strive and struggle. But then we would never learn, right? How else can we get to Jannah if we don't go through hardships and be put through situations and circumstances that we really don't want to be put in? Even non Muslims have to go through struggles and tests to get to where they are today! So many successful non-Muslims have struggled and suffered and then they attained what they were striving for, the success in the dunya. Allah gives us whatever we strive for. If we want the dunya, He will give it to us and if we want  the akhirah, He will give it to us. I guess it all comes down to priorities and how much we are willing to struggle in the way of Allah.

“The dunya is a prison for the believer and Paradise for the disbeliever,”[Sahih Muslim, vol.4, #7058] 
I am really starting to understand this hadith because I truly feel this way. The dunya really does not have anything good to offer. It is full of let downs and disappointments. I continue to struggle to remind myself that this dunya is only temporary and I shouldn't focus all my efforts and pain on this life. It is not my friend and it will always deceive me. It is so easy to drown yourself in this life with worries and problems which will be the least of our concerns on the Day of Judgment!

Day to day, I still struggle to accept that this life is not what I had in mind. All the tests and trials I go through are only to remind me not to settle comfortably in this life. All the tests and trials are made to remind me that I have to push and strive until the very end. But it is so hard.

Sometimes I just want to give up and submit to my desires and forget about everything I have been working towards. That instant gratification that seems so tempting and so easy. It is so easy to let your desires run like a wild horse. It is so easy to just give up because everyone else around you is living happily fulfilling their own desires. Their lives seem so exciting, fresh and lively! Everything seems so picture perfect. But are they really happy and satisfied with this fleeting life?

Then I think back to the days of my pre-Islamic life. Was I happy when I used to submit to my desires and chase the dunya life? Did I ever find satisfaction from doing this or that? Did my life really feel complete when I would accomplish x-y-z? The answer is No. Not at all. Anytime I accomplished something, I wanted something else. I wanted more. I was never satisfied and I always wanted something else, something new, something better. Even if it was unrealistic and unattainable, I would try to attain it. That is the reality of this life. You will always try to chase SOMETHING. The dunya is meant to make us greedy and unsatisfied. That is why it is such a temporary place. Once you attain something, you want something else and the vicious cycle continues. Your happiness is always termporary. It will never leave us fully satisfied because this is not the place for that.

I can't even begin to express how deceived I feel by this worldly life. It is not something I want to befriend and it is definitely not something I want to trust. Up until this point in my life, I have been deceived over and over and I have been left disappointed. Anytime we want to blame Allah for our hardships and struggles and trials, remember that it is not Allah who we are to blame but we need to remember that this is the reality of the dunya. This dunya is the external environment that we need to survive in and the only way we can do that is to keep our internal self satisfied with Islam as our religion and Allah as our Lord and Muhammad (sallalahu aleyhi wasselem) as the last and final messenger.

When we figure out how to live with this in our hearts, then truly we will have succeeded and that inner richness will help us strive until the very end. But getting there is not an easy task. It will take many moments of defeat, hopelessness, and helplessness. Surely we believe in our hearts and tongues that Islam is our religion, Allah is our Lord and Muhammad (sallalahu aleyhi wasselam) is our last and final messenger BUT when we are faced with trials and adversities, sometimes we forget.

We forget that Allah put us in the hardship in the first place to reward us and to cleanse us from our many sins. We forget that Allah is the one who will help us out and through the struggles as long as we call upon Him over and over. We forget that Islam is a religion to guide us through this life with peace and determination. We forget that prophet Muhammad (sallalahu aleyhi wasselam) endured so much pain, suffering and hardship for us ! Wow, even I forget all these things sometimes.

It is so important to keep making duaa even when you have nothing left in you. I have struggled with this so many times when I just wanted to give up on making duaa- even to this day, as I write this, I sometimes feel like "what's the point though?" But then I remember, no, there is a point to all this. Duaa is a form of worship and it is my string to hope and my way to Allah. Thus I must continue to push, shove, climb and strive my way to Him, even when everything around me wants to bring me down. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Life Updates: Chapter Eight - Today.

Today I am feeling emotional. I have been for a few days now and whenever I feel this way, I always wonder what has changed in my routine for me to feel this way.

Sometimes I have really good weeks, and even months! Other weeks and months are not so good. I think I am having another one of those weeks/months.  I am aware of the patterns, though. I know when I don't focus on my external situation so much and I concentrate on my inner realm, I feel better. Over and over I remember that striving to strive within, will only benefit me in all circumstances.

I feel really emotional. I feel negative. I feel weak. I am struggling. Again. 

I think back to my life in the USA and all the many trials that came along with it. It weakened me to the point that I felt humbled. I thought I had life all figured out, you know? I thought that I knew how to handle life and all the things that came my way. But I guess I was wrong.
I think about all the moments I slipped and fell, not wanting to get up. I remember these moments very well. I think about all those times where I really thought I could move forward no more, yet somehow, I found it in me to inch a little further.

Through all these tests, Allah has truly been with me. He could have easily left me to go astray (may Allah always protect me and all of us from that Ameen!) but He continued to guide me. Though reciting al-Fatiha five times a day may not always sink deeper than my tongue, I know that there would be no other place I rather be on than the siratul mustaqeem- hey that kinda rhythms?  Even though there are times I don't feel that Allah has been with me, if I just open my eyes, ears, and heart a little more, it is obvious that Allah is with me.

Constantly, I am fighting.
I struggle to strive.
Some days I just feel so unbelievably irritated, so much so that I just want to crawl into bed and leave the world behind me. Other days I feel like I am on top of the world and I can conquer anything that comes my way. I guess it makes sense since I AM only human.
The struggle is real and it ain't just a #hashtag.

I share this because I want everyone who reads this to know that everything you see on social media whether it be Instagram, Facebook, , Youtube or Snapchat is not always rainbows and sunshine. I find it awfully deceiving for almost every Instagram account to be sharing the happiest moments as if all they know is travelling, shopping, looking into their spouse's eyes all starry eyed and showing their child always laughing and peaceful!

In my last post about being an only child, I didn't just talk about the benefits of being an only child, but I mentioned the importance of being true to oneself. I feel like being on social media  automatically gives us this entitlement to show our lives in a heavily, unhealthy distorted way; the way how others perceive life to be perfect and the way they all make it seem like this dunya IS worth chasing is definitely far from reality. Not only do these individuals fool others, but they are essentially lying to themselves. As soon as something hard hits them or they are faced with adversity, they don't know how to handle life because all they imagined is that life should be all fun and games. "Living the life" is something far from reality and we do not hear enough about "handling life".

Often we are too busy "living life" yet we don't even know how to handle this life! We put all our hopes and expectations into something that is only a mirage. I need to write this post mainly as a reminder to myself. Over and over, I keep having these high expectations of this or that. Over and over I have been humbled by doors closing, sometimes slamming in my face. As soon I realize that I put too much importance and emphasis into the dunya and forgetting my akhirah, Allah sets me straight. I am tested with things that really poke at my patience. I am tested with things that question my tawakkul and I am tested with things that feed my ego. Today, things are blurry and things are grey.

This journey is so difficult and sometimes I wonder what is the point of all this! I know the path I have taken is meant to show me many sides of "me" that I have never seen before. I know that the path to guidance is not an easy one. Under all the darkness of life's lessons, I know there must be light and freedom. I continue to search, I continue to struggle, I continue to feel the burdens heavily on my shoulders weighing me down.
I let out a big *sigh* and keep going...
Today is a new day.