Seeking protection

This duaa really helps to ground me during an anxiety attack or trauma flashback. The duaa is found in Bukhari and Muslim. [ detailed explanation and sources in Arabic]

اللَّهُمَّ لَكَ أَسْلَمْتُ، وَبِكَ آمَنْتُ، وَعَلَيْكَ تَوَكَّلْتُ، وَإِلَيْكَ أَنَبْتُ، وَبِكَ خَاصَمْتُ. اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِعِزَّتِكَ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ أَنْ تُضِلَّنِي، أَنْتَ الْحَيُّ الَّذِي لَا يَمُوتُ، وَالْجِنُّ وَالْإِنْسُ يَمُوتُونَ

Allaahumma laka aslamtu, wa bika aamantu, wa ‘alayka tawakkaltu, wa ileyka anabtu, wa bika khaasamtu. Allaahumma inni a’ udu bi’izzatika laa ilaaha illaa anta an tudhillani, antal hayyul-ladi laa yamoot, wal jinnu wal insu yamutoon

O Allaah! I have submitted to You, and believed in You, and put my trust in You and constantly turn to You in repentance, and I struggle in Your way. O Allaah! I seek refuge with Your Might, there is no god but You, from straying from the right path. You are the Ever Living who never dies, while jinn and human beings will die.

Tie your control

The hadeeth often cited in regards to tawakul has become a cliche by virtue of the reductivist context that robs it of its full meaning.

Anas ibn Malik reported: A man said, “O Messenger of Allah, should I tie my camel and trust in Allah, or should I leave her untied and trust in Allah?” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Tie her and trust in Allah.”

People often think the meaning to be, do whatever you were going to do and then in the end entrust Allaah to it, as a safety measure. There are several faulty mindsets in this:

  1. The context puts the efficiency of one’s actions parallel to Allaah
  2. The common understanding of this hadeeth denotes that Allaah comes as an afterthought
  3. The tawakul seems to be placed on safeguarding one’s outcome

But of course, that’s not the full meaning of the hadeeth. We often use the same materialistic, consumerist lens that we use to view life through to view the deen.

Tawakul is not an extension of your actions. It’s a state of being. It’s not the fruits, it’s the roots. Therefore, control and fixating on specifics is out of the picture. It’s bigger than just acing a test or finding a job. It’s about surrendering the very seed of desire to the seat of the soul for Allaah to direct. It means that you leave the mode and means to Allaah, trusting that He knows how best this will unfold. It means that even if you don’t get the outcome you envisioned, you don’t feel a loss because you know that the desire and energy you started out with is encapsulated in the outcome you got. It means to trust Allaah’s vision and to surrender your ego.

The tying of the camel is akin to grounding your ego. It’s to ensure you’re in the process, and not detached from it. It’s to ensure that you come from a stable space by discharging what you currently can do. Notice how in the hadeeth, the prophet didn’t tell him what to do. The man asked him what he should do, meaning he had something in mind but he wasn’t settled. He was afraid that if he ties it perhaps that’d negate his trust. So the prophet collected his scattered focus and gave him his answer. The man grounded the energy swirling around in him.

Often, we get paralyzed by fear or procrastination because we only have energy or foresight for a portion of the journey or task but we can’t see it through to the end and we fret. We fear that what’s in our arsenal is all the drive we’ll have and then what? We feel we need a sense of control before we can calm down and focus on things. Having tawakul is to know that Allaah has that control and He’ll never leave you stranded. You’ll always have what you need when you need it. Just focus on what you are in the headspace to do now and trust that the rest will be downloaded when you have the space for it. Just because you had lunch and not dinner or breakfast doesn’t mean you’ll never have dinner or breakfast or you’ll only ever have lunch. Nah. Chill. Allaah has got this. And you not seeing the full picture is because it’s not linear. It’s like a nesting doll; each step contains the next one. Each moment contains the next and it depends on what you shape this moment to be. And if you don’t like the trajectory of a moment, you can always change the next because it’s being created and written as you’re actively involved in it.

A ducaa for the existentially depressed

Ya rabb, You’re the only reason I’m held together and I’m yet to disintegrate into infinitisimal particles, or blow my brains out from the extreme anxiety of having to find a needle of truth in a quantum haystack of boundless information bits. Even if I dissociate and attempt to escape my mind, I can’t escape this life inside me, this life that weighs so heavy with existential dread and expectation. Even if I try to discard what I am, clouds of misery withholding rains of meaning will follow me like the horizon, or I will follow it because my path is primordial and preordained.

If I were to unravel, like I’ve done in the past, none can make me ok again. At best I’d be in a merciful catatonic state, numbing the mind crushing pain, hoping death is dispatched sooner than later.

If I were to lose my bearing in this information apocalypse, none could help me find my inner compass. I’d either become driftwood, being carried by the momentum of the majority, or I’d become a deceptive snake, pretending to be guided.

Even my turning to You is divine inspiration and I’m overcome with how much I need You. I give up everything in me that would take me away from You and I seek refuge with You from my ego. I ask for Your love to soothe me and I beg that You keep me company, always. All of this is for nothing if I lose my soul signal. All of this turns into crushing pressure if You leave me to my own devices. Nothing is worth losing my connection to You for. I’ll give up family, friends, society. I’ll take to a remote mountain if so required. I’ve known enough suffering to know that the one thing I can’t survive without is Your watchful presence.

Not this time

Just like all of earth is a masjid, all of life is deen. Even the trivial, seemingly non-religious aspects. There is no delineation of religion in Islaam because true religion is spiritual. It’s not a distinction between the “worldly” and the “religious”. If you’re heart based, you’ll see Allaah’s intentions and plans everywhere.

E V E R Y W H E R E

This world is a fractal of everything in existence. It’s perfectly sequenced. Nothing is out of place. Nothing needs your control, just surrender. Reflect.

So many Muslims are afraid of reflecting because they think the deen is a tightrope. That’s very bizarre and inverted because the deen isn’t something we can possess or retain by virtue. It’s an endowment and a grace that isn’t merit based. Nothing we do ensures that we receive anything or lose anything. Allaah is the Most Generous and He has imbued this cosmos with abundance, but it is our egos that block the access to that abundance through mental contraptions.

You only need to come to Allaah with vulnerability at all times, at all costs. Which means showing up with your inner reality being congruent with what you display. And if there are ideals you wish to embody, don’t do it cosmetically by forcing it. Take all of you, wherever you go. Or else you’ll snap back like a rubber band. And you’ll seriously fragment your psyche. How do you think people apostate? It’s usually the most zealous too.

The reason why the prophet sallAllaahu calayhi wasallam said the most beloved of actions to Allaah are the most consistent even if they be little, is because it’s not about goal orientation because this is a gig that’ll last until the grave. It’s about balance. And balance fluctuates based on where you are, with a fixed baseline of course ( 5 daily prayers, integrity, hijab,etc). It’s about maintaining a spiritual homeostasis, keeping your psyche intact and not shattering yourself in the process of trying to attain some unattainable, perfectionistic ideal that’s an extension of the neurosis that has poisoned your spirit. The ebbs and flows of life is challenging enough without you straining yourself with things that threaten to break you.

Allaah is opposite to how others (parents, society, friends) interacted with you. You don’t need to prove your worth. Your connection isn’t based on how useful you are. You are unconditionally accepted, meaning you can come to Allaah as you are, based on where you are. The whole point is to let Allaah accompany you through your personal struggles and unique journey. There is no limit to what you can ask and seek help in. Literally,your imagination is the limit. He is forgiving, present, loving, powerful, aware, attentive, rich, caring. Nothing you do is a qualifier for His Mercy. It’s a birthright He’s given you by creating you.

أَلَا يَعْلَمُ مَنْ خَلَقَ وَهُوَ اللَّطِيفُ الْخَبِيرُ

{Should not He Who has created know? And He is the Most Kind and Courteous, (to His slaves) All-Aware (of everything).}

(Al-Mulk :14)

Animus dispossession

I was watching the interview of Russell and Jordan, and Jordan said something that made me think :

religious ideas are different from ideologies in that there’s a representation and balance of the positive and negative aspects of what occurs naturally in the individual and society.

(paraphrase)

It had me thinking that in that vein, hijaab is the equivalent – and therefore balance to – of a man’s social responsibilities and duties that he’s obligated to perform.

And that’s my gripe with millennial Muslim women’s sometimes shallow dissection of the gender politics that has gotten entangled in the complex system that is Islaam. You can’t just remove concepts from the whole and see if it’ll hold or not like a game of Jenga. It’s a very reductivist way of assessing things precisely because it’s the masculine Logos that picks things apart and discriminates and analyses.

When women use the Logos it’s usually at the expense of the powerful feminine perception, what Neumann coined diffuse awareness as opposed to focused awareness. The Eros that brings things together, holds space for the opposites, finds the harmony. That has been discarded and judged as weak by women, because we’ve come to associate it with being a doormat and a pushover. But that’s only the case when it’s unconscious and imbalanced.

I reckon that the world is in desperate need of the return of the feminine energy, the so-called divine feminine, because it’s that energy that would take the technology available and apply it on humanitarian issues. And it would take the wealth and channel it to where it’s needed. It’d take the scientific breakthroughs and expertise and heal the world.

And by divine feminine I don’t mean that it’s specific to women, but women are the emanators of that energy and men the recipients. No man can bring about that energy unless it comes from a transformed, balanced woman. Just like no man can bring about a pregnancy. She takes what’s dispersed and coalesces it into a whole. But she has to first return to her innate wholeness that she’s been fragmented from by a highly masculine world.

Emaan clout

Becoming a more religious Muslim should never cause you more anxiety. If it does, there’s something warped about your perception of Allaah. Your mental construct of what you should do or be is preventing your heart from directly connecting to Him. It’s creating resistance instead of resonance.

Don’t get lost in semantics. Emaan is a feeling. Let it flow. You don’t need to be perfect. You’ll pick up the pace eventually. But that won’t happen if you’re stagnant.


Maybe the problem with the hive mind of stereotypical religious Muslims is that there’s a delineation of practicing and piety?

I mean, who’s to say who’s ‘on’ or ‘off’ if purification of the self is a continuous cycle? Who’s keeping tabs? Do our deeds define us? Why do we need definition? Isn’t that an attempt at standing out? Wouldn’t Allaah be able to pick out your intentions from the crowd? Why then is there an emphasis on idiosyncrasies and nonessential mannerisms under the guise of ‘the sunnah’ ? It’s like this uncomfortably unnatural glitch where the person’s natural disposition is overlaid with what is deemed the proper way to act. The problem becomes that the acting effectively shuts out the person’s psyche, ensuring that the change in demeanor is nothing but superficial. And you’ll find plenty of examples in people who’ve gone from one extreme in practicing to the complete other of being morally depraved and heinous. Acting a certain way is actually counterintuitive because it doesn’t allow space for the person to organically get in touch with different facets of their being that would then spark the desire for transformation. There has to be a genuine interaction with the self in a non-judgmental and nonperfectionistic way.

To be clear, I’m not talking about ’deen is in the heart, you don’t need to wear it on your sleeve’. I believe that the deen is an integration of the spiritual and the pragmatic. But when the spiritual is stripped of its mystic nature and individuality, that’s when dogma becomes a real contender. Because it’s like the focus becomes to avoid slip-ups which leads to stagnation and fear. No matter how we try, we’ll always slip up because we’re innately ignorant. It’s how we learn and in fact, we’ve been given license to slip up so that we don’t let that be an obstacle. Instead we’re told to focus on restoration and authentic reformation (inaabah).

When we don’t interact with ourselves, we can’t relate to others too. And therein lies the problem that is so ubiquitous in the Muslim communities, that once someone becomes religious they effectively become elitist and interact with people like an authoritarian school master.

I think knowing the deen is the easy part. To try to implement the principles oneself while interacting harmoniously with others is the real crux..

أُخْبِرُكُمْ بِمَنْ يَحْرُمُ عَلَى النَّارِ أَوْ بِمَنْ تَحْرُمُ عَلَيْهِ النَّارُ عَلَى كُلِّ قَرِيبٍ هَيِّنٍ سَهْلٍ

Shall I not tell you for whom the Hellfire is forbidden? It is every person accessible, polite, and mild.

Source: Sunan At-Tirmidhi, graded Hasan

Life’s already serious enough

People really be twisting Islaam. It’s not hierarchical, it’s not transactional, it’s not reductivist, it’s not punitive, it’s not puritan, it’s not conservative. So if you rely on planting seeds of doubt in someone’s understanding or shaming them under the guise of correcting when your intention is misaligned with the ethos of Islaam which is لاضرر و لا ضرار (no instigating harm and no retaliating harm) – then please know that all your ocd- like behaviour won’t save you any reckoning and won’t ensure tazkiyyah (purification of soul).

If you think there’s a station to be reached, please check yourself. This journey is long and difficult precisely because it’s not static and it’s not stagnant. It’s not about detached principles but about integrating what you know when your wounds are fresh and your fear overwhelming. It’s not about perfecting it nor is it about not slipping up because again, it’s not about what we learn in the masajid or the xalaqaat, but it’s what Allaah tests our 3 am minds with and what He triggers our hearts by. It’s meant to be lived, not theorized.

قُلْ إِنَّ صَلَاتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

› Say (O Muhammad sallAllaahu calayhi wasallam ): “Verily, my Salât (prayer), my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allâh, the Lord of the ‘Alamîn (mankind, jinns and all that exists).‹

(Al-An’am 6:162)

Because when push comes to shove, it’s about how you hold up when your back is against the wall. It’s about how honest you’re willing to get about your incongruencies. It’s about what keeps you going when you can’t continue.

In other words, it’s the istiqama (steadfastness) of the heart. And no amount of policing and refuting and micromanaging can earn you steadfastness. Steadfastness is different from rigidity and fear of the unknown. If anything, the test aren’t external. Allaah always adapts the tests to your blindspots and weaknesses, no matter how much you try to fortify yourself. But don’t worry. It’s not because He’s not pleased with you or because He’s punishing you. No. He’s giving you an opportunity to expand, to let light in, to do the very thing you were created for: self-actualize.

So, trust your intuition and keep your heart open. Trust it more than you trust any religious figure, especially in this age of distortions. Get familiar with how the truth feels, because it can’t be feigned or faked.

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