Art of silence 

​Summer has taught me to love. It has taught me that the only way to preserve the beauty in life is by experiencing it. By standing in the midst of that moment, emptying my mental chatter and rumblings of an imaginary future, and let the air permeated with the smell of newly cut grass find its way to my lungs so that they, too, can experience this year’s June. 
It gave me a glimpse into parenthood; the blooming of the earth, the flying of insects and birds playing with the greenery, curious. The long hours that can be too long on days when you’re so exhausted but the sunlight won’t let you sleep until it does. Short nights that are over before they began. Sweltering heat and insects bites. But isn’t that life – joy always has baggage. 

This summer has been one of silent reflections. I’ve tried to relax and be open to receive divine guidance, to decipher what it is my heart is telling me. The forest has been a central point. 

It reflected back everything in my subconscious, and it was there that I repeatedly went to give away all that I had let go of, all my detachments and worn-out memories that I had wrung out every single lesson from. 
The forest was a place I could go and I’d be received – all of me. Usually I have to cut myself down, tone myself down to walk amongst mortals. But in the forest, no. 

Through the breezes and swaying of trees I could hear my intuition so clearly. It was as if the rocks and slugs and leaves were seducing my intuition to come out.

Summer has taught me how to let go. I could see how it was gradually leaving, and I felt a pang of grief. I didn’t want this blissful time to end, I wanted to recreate these memories over all days and nights. 
But then I realized that summer hadn’t created those memories, it was merely a prop for me to put my wobbly emotions on. And if I could let go of the notion that the world on the outside creates my inner world, I’d be able to recreate July afternoons on dark December morns. 
Summer has taught me to see the beauty in all things by realizing that all things are beautiful. I just got to learn to listen and understand. I have to set what I think I know and what my ego demands, aside. I have to be a vessel in order to get it.
Summer has taught me to be grounded during transitions. It’ll soon pass. 
Summer has taught me to accept and adapt to all of life; not only the good stuff. 
Summer has taught me how to love people even when I can’t see their blossoms and can’t feel their warmth. It has taught me to stay, to wait, for the ice to melt.
Summer has taught me that in order to evolve, I need to leave certain people and places behind. I need to shed everything that is burdening me and serves me no purpose. 
Summer has taught me to trust that in the silence, the stillness, the bareness, Allaah is creating.
Summer has taught me that even if I break down and get confused, I can never get lost any more than birds migrating back from Africa could get lost, or leaves shed in autumn could get lost growing back in spring.
Summer has taught me that I *am* my journey.
Summer has taught me the cyclical rhythm that is natural to life. 
Summer has taught me all of this in order for me to forget who I’m *not*.
 And I, too, shall enter my own hibernation. The sun in me never sets. I’ll wait for my inner glaciers to melt away, and from the water formed by the melted ice will grow and ferment a magical Spring.

A thousand miles 

​وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُمْ بِشَيْءٍ مِّنَ الْخَوفْ وَالْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍ مِّنَ الأَمَوَالِ وَالأنفُسِ وَالثَّمَرَاتِ وَبَشِّرِ الصَّابِرِينَ
“And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to the patient ones.”
This aayah randomly popped into my mind today. I had been without my meds since last week because I had to order them elsewhere. And the sudden withdrawal was killing me. My brain just crashed. I was putting all my efforts into being mindful, staying grounded in the now so as not to get washed away by the inner turmoil caused by the abrupt disappearance of neurotransmitters. My body felt like lead, I could barely get myself to get out of bed. In such moments of helplessness, I always ask Allaah for help. I would never ever have made any progress whatsoever if I didn’t have Allaah to turn to. Anyway, I wanted to get dressed and go out, so I was making ducaa that Allaah makes it easier for me to get up. And as I was putting on my socks, this aayah popped into my mind. 
And I wondered: what does the loss of things have to do with patience? I tried to remember the succeeding ayah:
الَّذِينَ إِذَا أَصَابَتْهُم مُّصِيبَةٌ قَالُواْ إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ
“Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: “Truly! To Allaah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.”
and then I thought: why is calamity tied to the istirjaac (saying innaa lillaah wa innaa ileyhi raajicun)? The third ayah lined up thusly:
أُولَـئِكَ عَلَيْهِمْ صَلَوَاتٌ مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ وَرَحْمَةٌ وَأُولَـئِكَ هُمُ الْمُهْتَدُونَ
“They are those on whom are the Salawaat (i.e. who are blessed and will be forgiven) from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His Mercy, and it is they who are the guided-ones. “
and once again, I mused:what is salawaat? and why salawaat and mercy? And how does all of that culminate in guidance?
(Al-Baqarah 2:155-157)
You know when you feel a sneeze is about to come on? Or when you see someone who you vaguely remember and you stop to try to piece your visual memory together to know where you saw this person? Yeah, that’s how I feel when I have epiphanies coming on: I have scattered pieces that I’m suspecting would fit perfectly. 
I continued to mull over this as I went hiking with my dad. And it hit me: detachment. 
Loss of wealth and the lives of loved ones and sustenance and safety – the common denominator is that these are things we are very attached to, and to withstand the pain of detachment is like ripping off a bandaid on a fresh wound. You have to be grounded in something deep in order to be patient. 


That’s why Allaah mentioned in the verse that they remind themselves of where they came from and where they are going: to break the spell of the suffering of detachment. To orient themselves in consciousness. To prevent being swept away by inner turmoil.  To ground themselves.
And note how Allaah words these calamities: ‘shay`in minal khawf’, a small part of fear. and: ‘ naqsin minal amwaal’ a reduction in wealth. 

not: complete and utter fear, or, a total loss of wealth. 
This shows that the calamity isn’t to inflict pain, but to bring about something better. 

Allaah never puts you through difficulties to punish you, but to cleanse and remind you. 
And to elevate you. Look back on your biggest calamities and losses: friends you lost freed up space for better friends, money lost brought you back to a reality you were escaping and thus brought you back to yourself, heartbreak paved the way for someone who would nurse your wounds, not cause them. 

Leaving the status quo and what we are attached to is always painful. But to be grounded, to be conscious, requires that one is open to life, open to feeling whatever emotions come. And through the same channel one felt great pain, is the one in which mercy from Allaah descends, to soothe the ache, to dull the loss. 

Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.

— Leo Tolstoy
And the degree of pain, the degree of suffering is in accordance to how little patience one has. Patience doesn’t mean that one likes what has happened, but it means that one isn’t falling apart or catastrophizing because of that pain. It affords one emotional stability. This matters greatly because it’s what decides whether the pain will wear off or continue to reverberate because one is refusing to accept the situation at hand. 
This act of being grounded is what guides one. It’s what keeps someone steadfast on the path, long after the rush of enthusiasm and eemaan has worn off. Long after the immediate gratification of walking the straight path is gone. This is why the two pillars of eemaan, (faith), is sabr (patience) and shukr (gratitude). Patience to keep one grounded through the difficulties, and gratitude to keep one cognizant of Allaah through the good times and prosperity. And one is forever suspended between struggle and blessings, often simultaneously. 
The path to Allaah is traversed through the heart. The heart is the battle field of one’s evil and good and it’s through the heart one gains or loses in the Hereafter. The purpose behind Allaah sending down divine books and prophets isn’t to establish a caliphate or to tell people about hell and jannah. 
It’s wholly to bring the heart back to its natural calibration of tawheed – the heart having a singular focus in its longing and adoration and need. The ideal state of a human is one devoid of attachments to superficiality, to power, to base desires, to everything that unleashes the beast within the human. That state of detachment – to whatever degree- is not an absolute one. One can’t exist in a void. Detachment from other things entails attachment to the creator of those things. That’s called cubudiyyah ( state of servitude). And it’s in that ideal state that humans are born in, and which is conducive to goodness. One doesn’t have to necessarily be Muslim to do good. They may do good because they have retained some of their innate goodness. But the state of servitude, the purpose of life can’t be completed without the conscious decision to  direct one’s self  towards Allaah, the creator and sustainer of the universe and everything in existence.
This is why the prophets and those most like them in piety were the most tested: to bring them closer to Allaah, to make their journey smoother through spiritual minimalism.  It’s imperative to understand this, because it shifts the focus from ‘this is happening TO me’ to ‘ I’m going through this to grow through this’. And this is what’s called an internal locus of control, one of empowerment and resilience. 
Before one is elevated, one has to dig deep and lay the foundation, the roots. One has to give up a lot. Look at Yusuf calayhissalaam: it was only after he lost his family, his dignity AND his freedom that he was appointed to the highest of position of power in Egypt. Not that this was the aim when he remained grounded throughout those years, but he was being prepared rigorously to shoulder such heavy responsibility. Responsibility that many cave under and take to dictatorship and genocide and oppression because their emotional instability unleashes their inner demons.
Allaah contrasts what happens when one is called to be raised, to be made conscious and ‘woke’, but one can’t seem to let go of the attachments:
وَاتْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ نَبَأَ الَّذِيَ آتَيْنَاهُ آيَاتِنَا فَانسَلَخَ مِنْهَا فَأَتْبَعَهُ الشَّيْطَانُ فَكَانَ مِنَ الْغَاوِينَ
“And recite (O Muhammad ) to them the story of him to whom We gave Our Ayaat (proofs, evidences, lessons, signs, .), but he threw them away, so Shaytaan followed him up, and he became of those who went astray.”
لَوْ شِئْنَا لَرَفَعْنَاهُ بِهَا وَلَـكِنَّهُ أَخْلَدَ إِلَى الأَرْضِ وَاتَّبَعَ هَوَاهُ
“And had We willed, We would surely have elevated him therewith but he clung to the earth and followed his own vain desire.”
al-Acraaf, 7:175-176
He made a choice, and that choice closed the doors to progress and growth, and it opened the doors to evil. HE opened the door to his own demise. 
When we fail to heed our intuition calling us to change, we go through calamities to wake us up. That’s if Allaah knows that it’ll do us good. For those who are obstinate in the face of the truth, they are left undisturbed. Look to fircawn, look to the West, look to Iblees. 
Pain heralds the birth of our true selves. It’s outgrowing immaturity and a shallow ego. It’s a kind of death of everything one *isn’t* , where one leaves behind comfort zones. 
And it is as Rumi said:

The wound is the place where the Light enters you.

Detachment doesn’t imply indifference. It means independence of. It means that even if loved ones leave, if you lose the dream job, whatever – that you *will* be ok. That your core is beyond the reach of the fluctuation of this world, and it lies nestled in a state of being, not a state of having. When this becomes the case of the heart, it clears your insight and intuition and understanding of the truth. 

“Attachment is the great fabricator of illusions; reality can be obtained only by someone who is detached. ” 

— Simone Weil

Cleaning out my closet

Body dysmorphia. Eating disorders. Self-hate. For most of my life, I’ve hated my body. I’d wear over-sized jumpers to hide my big hips. I was nicknamed J.Lo in school; to some it was a compliment, but to me it was a painful reminder that I wasn’t the stick-thin girl I aspired to be. I remember being 11 and wishing I could cut off my hips. I remember being 12 and wishing I’d be diagnosed with diabetes so that I’d have to stop eating anything sugary. I saw my mum dieting and fretting about sugars and waistline, so I thought if only I had the willpower – or the diagnosis- to steamroll myself into thinness. I remember being 13 and reading a novel about a girl with eating disorders, which gave me the perfect idea to emulate her. I went through bouts of anorexia, and the thinner I got, the fatter I felt. I remember being 14 and wishing I could way 40 kg despite my 162 cm. That’d be a bmi of 15.

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What do painful emotions really mean?

I’m currently reading an intriguing book on the topic of authenticity and emotions. I’ve transcribed some passages that spoke to me and that I felt could help many others. Please find the bibliographical information in the footnote below.

Authentic power is alignment of your personality with your soul. Creating authentic power is dramatically different from the pursuit of external power.

The creation of authentic power is a lifetime endeavor. It requires becoming aware, moment by moment, of what you are feeling and the decisions that you are making. The creation of authentic power confronts you with the most unhealthy parts of yourself- the parts that blame,criticize,judge,resent,envy, and hate others, yourself, and the Universe. These are the parts that must be uncovered,acknowledged, and changed. They are also the parts that most want to change others rather than to be changed themselves.

Changing your life does not mean getting a new job, husband or wife, or moving away from your parents or back in with them. It means locating within you impulses to make yourself feel worthy by attempting to control others or the circumstances around you, and changing them.

When you become your own source of worthiness, you will still buy clothes, live in a house, and get haircuts. The difference is that you will not do these things to influence or impress others. You will choose your intentions consciously, not unconsciously.


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“Take any emotion—love for a woman, or grief for a loved one, or what I’m going through, fear and pain from a deadly illness. If you hold back on the emotions—if you don’t allow yourself to go all the way through them—you can never get to being detached, you’re too busy being afraid. You’re afraid of the pain, you’re afraid of the grief. You’re afraid of the vulnerability that loving entails. But by throwing yourself into these emotions, by allowing yourself to dive in, all the way, over your head even, you experience them fully and completely. You know what pain is. You know what love is. You know what grief is. And only then can you say, ‘All right. I have experienced that emotion. I recognize that emotion. Now I need to detach from that emotion for a moment’.”

Mitch Albom (Tuesdays with Morrie)

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