Ramadan regressions {2}

​There are two types of strength: rigidity and tenderness

Rigidity is the absence of life force, suspension of the movable elements within. E.g. stoicism, repression, or even rigor mortis ( stiffness that sets in some hours after death). It’s strength insofar as it prevents anything to penetrate it or change it.

A second​ type of strength is a tenderness that follows from a healed brokenness, akin to a pliable stick that doesn’t resist the pressure that attempts to break it.

This second type is the only one that can support life. It’s a strength of the depths, not the surface. A strength in allowing, not resisting. A strength in receiving, not defending against. It’s vulnerability that carries with it the very real risk of being stomped upon, treated like a fool. But you risk it not because you’re seeking the thrill of the outcome, but because you’re seeking the rejuvenation of expressing your spirit. And you can’t express yourself fully if you’re constantly checking for signs of danger.

It’s a strength in being your own planet, going according to your rhythms and cycles despite whatever storms or debris come your way. You accept it. The debris will only open you up to deeper dimensions of yourself.

Depth can’t be reached except by breaking the surface, and while that feels like it weakens you, you must trust that the truth can’t be weakened. Who you really are can never be threatened. So let go of everything that collapses under your truth, and let yourself be dissolved in the ocean of divine love. When you trust in a universal support by Allaah, you won’t have to stand guard. Fall apart. Everytime you fall, you fall into a new dimension. Rock bottom is only found in graves.

ثُمَّ قَسَتْ قُلُوبُكُمْ مِنْ بَعْدِ ذَلِكَ فَهِيَ كَالْحِجَارَةِ أَوْ أَشَدُّ قَسْوَة وَإِنَّ مِنَ الْحِجَارَةِ لَمَا يَتَفَجَّرُ مِنْهُ الْأَنْهَارُ وَإِنَّ مِنْهَا لَمَا يَشَّقَّقُ فَيَخْرُجُ مِنْهُ الْمَا وإِنَّ مِنْهَا لَمَا يَهْبِطُ مِنْ خَشْيَةِ اللَّهِ وَمَا اللَّهُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ

 Then, after that, your hearts were hardened and became as stones or even worse in hardness. And indeed, there are stones out of which rivers gush forth, and indeed, there are of them (stones) which split asunder so that water flows from them, and indeed, there are of them (stones) which fall down for fear of Allaah. And Allaah is not unaware of what you do.

[Al-Baqarah 2:74]

ramadan regressions {1}

I feel exposed by Ramadan. There’s a naked energy that envelopes one. No hiding places. I’m not fasting , due to medical reasons, but even so I can’t escape the intense energy that is causing repressed emotions to come up to the surface. As if gravity is no more.

I feel bad when I see everyone being joyous and congratulating each other on the advent of Ramadan because I don’t feel that at all.

But I recognize it’s a good thing, being faced with myself like this. Focus. It’s painful but I’ll be using this month to tread on painful ground. I’ll let it cut me, deep. Perhaps that’s the only way the pockets of buried trauma can find a release.

I’m afraid of being engulfed by these emotions, as if they are pissed for having been shoved aside for so long that they won’t let go of me, ever.

I’m afraid of being locked in a lifelong purgatory, inside my emotions.

I feel claustrophobic in my soul.


 

The first thing that happened to the prophet -peace be upon him- wasn’t that he was told about Allaah or what his mission was going to be. He was made to be vulnerable by being told the guidance he was searching for lay in the one thing he was unable of doing: reading.

He felt broken, hopeless, stuck. But, the purpose wasn’t to make him read. It was to eradicate the notion that ability depends on one’s competence. His certainty was knocked off because that’s an impediment to transformation. His mental map of reality was wiped clean. He was ousted from his comfort zone. He was thrown into the bottomless pit that is the unknown, head first.
He was torn up, for days. His wife, Khadija was his rock. She picked his spirits up and reassured him that this was a good thing. That he was a good soul who wouldn’t fare ill.

Allaah was effectively telling him; impossibility would be the creation of you, humans, thus possibility is only a matter of bringing something into existence. Trust Me, and I’ll bring miracles into existence through you.

_____________
× And they say: “When we are bones and fragments (destroyed), should we really be resurrected (to be) a new creation?”
See they not how Allâh originates creation, then repeats it. Verily, that is Easy for Allaah.

× Say (O Muhammad) “Be you stones or iron,”

× “Or some created thing that is yet greater (or harder) in your breasts (thoughts to be resurrected, even then you shall be resurrected)” Then, they will say: “Who shall bring us back (to life)?” Say: “He Who created you first!” Then, they will shake their heads at you and say: “When will that be ?” Say: “Perhaps it is near!”

(Al-Isra 17:49-51)
____________

co-creation: opening up to the unknown and letting Allaah work through you.


 

مَا أَصَابَ مِن مُّصِيبَةٍ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَا فِي أَنفُسِكُمْ إِلَّا فِي كِتَابٍ مِّن قَبْلِ أَن نَّبْرَأَهَا إِنَّ ذَلِكَ عَلَى اللَّهِ يَسِيرٌ
لِكَيْلَا تَأْسَوْا عَلَى مَا فَاتَكُمْ وَلَا تَفْرَحُوا بِمَا آتَاكُمْ وَاللَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ كُلَّ مُخْتَالٍ فَخُورٍ

¤No calamity befalls on the earth or in yourselves but is inscribed in the Book of Decrees, before We bring it into existence. Verily, that is easy for Allaah.
¤In order that you may not be sad over matters that you fail to get, nor rejoice because of that which has been given to you. And Allaah likes not prideful boasters.

Al-Hadid [57: 22-23]
These verses mention three things: the events that occur, the goals we seek and our failures.So, nothing happens chaotically, it’s all measured. The unknown isn’t an enemy or a maelstrom of suffering.

If we fail to get what we aimed for, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about it because it might be that our efforts culminated in something different from what we envisioned. We did our part, and the outcome was never ours to claim. If we get it, it’s a gift we’re grateful for. If not, it’s a sobering moment to think about all the other times things have manifested effortlessly that we’ve taken for granted?

and if we do get what we want, we shouldn’t feel entitled as if we achieved that by our own measures and therefore identify ourselves with outcomes. This would impede our growth, and it’s why sometimes we fail to achieve what we strive for; to detach us from a fixed mindset.

We’re being taught to surrender to the divine order, and trust that although we can’t avert pain or attain all that our heart desires​, we’re well taken care of. The plans put in place are perfect. If they weren’t, it’d affect the rest of the universe since it’s all interconnected, and a change in one part has a ripple effect on everything else.


 

is religion antiquated?

When people denounce religion in a reductivist way as to imply that modernity should make us all transcend such baseness, it makes me fear for humanity. Those who say this are usually white people in industrialized nations, where they are so far removed from the raw human condition that dwells in the cracks of suffering like poverty like death of children like rampant spread of crippling diseases, that they’ve forgotten their insignificant place in this universe.

 
Religion is ingrained in the subconscious as an archetype – it’s shaped the paths we’ve crossed as a collective from time immemorial. When you look down on it, you have put yourself at the centre of the universe. You’ve erased your human limits and imperfections because modern conveniences insulates you from feeling the powerlessness this man felt.

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Concerts and kings

إِذَا تُتْلَى عَلَيْه آيَاتُنَا قَالَ أَسَاطِيرُ الْأَوَّلِينَ

{When Our Verses (of the Qur’an) are recited to him he says: “Tales of the ancients!}¹

كَلَّا بَلْ رَانَ عَلىٰ قُلُوبِهِم مَّا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ

{Nay! But their hearts were made impenetrable by the evil they used to do.}

كَلَّا إِنَّهُمْ عَن رَّبِّهِمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ لَّمَحْجُوبُونَ

{Nay! Surely they will be veiled from their Lord that Day}

ثُمَّ إِنَّهُمْ لَصَالُو الْجَحِيمِ

{ Then indeed, they will [enter and] burn in Hellfire.}

ثُمَّ يُقَالُ هَذَا الَّذِي كُنتُم بِهِ تُكَذِّبُونَ

 {Then, it will be said to them: “This is what you used to deny!}


The only way to find pleasure in having no integrity is by rejecting everything that calls for integrity. Because your heart requires you to be pervious to the universal truths in order for you to be in sync with it, you’ll have to shut your heart – meaning, your conscience and intuition – off, like an alarm clock.

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Thomas Aquinas

Grant me, O Lord my God, a mind to know You, a heart to seek You, wisdom to find You, conduct pleasing to You, faithful perseverance in waiting for You, and a hope of finally embracing You. Amen.


How is it they live in such harmony, the billions of stars, when most men can barely go a minute without declaring war in their minds?


The Study of philosophy is not that we may know what men have thought, but what the truth of things is. 


We must love them both, those whose opinions we share and those whose opinions we reject, for both have labored in the search for truth, and both have helped us in finding it.


We can’t have full knowledge all at once. We must start by believing; then afterwards we may be led on to master the evidence for ourselves.


Three things are necessary for the salvation of man: to know what he ought to believe; to know what he ought to desire; and to know what he ought to do.


Faith has to do with things that are not seen, and hope with things that are not in hand.


The study of truth requires a considerable effort – which is why few are willing to undertake it out of love of knowledge – despite the fact that God has implanted a natural appetite for such knowledge in the minds of men.


While injustice is the worst of sins, despair is the most dangerous; because when you are in despair you care neither about yourself nor about others.


Creator of all things, true source of light and wisdom, origin of all being, graciously let a ray of Your light penetrate the darkness of my understanding. Take from me the double darkness in which I have been born, an obscurity of sin and ignorance. Give me a keen understanding, a retentive memory, and the ability to grasp things correctly and fundamentally. Grant me the talent of being exact in my explanations and the ability to express myself with thoroughness and charm. Point out the beginning, direct the progress, and help in the completion.


To make peace either in oneself or among others, shows a man to be a follower of God







Spiritual minimalist 

I keep my load light on my journey to my Lord.
I cut to the chase, strip off the excess, boil it down. The truth is always horizontal, never vertical.
I’m a soldier of Allaah’s. And I’m at war with myself. Or rather, I’m warring against everything that doesn’t belong in me. Things that have morphed into my being, attached at the core. The pain of ripping it off is inexplicable.
It feels like death, on some levels. You just have to close your eyes, brace yourself, breathe deeply and let yourself be run over by the freight  of fear. Choo choo choo
I always ask Allaah,

‘ what now? Where should I go?’

After a moment, I feel a light thud in my gut.

” You’ve got  (1) intuitive message”
Sigh. I feel the rush of having found something to sink my teeth into. But my gut faintly flexes because I know that with each mission…a part of me has to die. Gulp.
I’m often called to uncomfortable territories, and if it weren’t for my reliance on Allaah that transcends my fear, man… I don’t know.
I often, like 95% of the time, find myself in agitating, embarrassing, weird, confrontational situations. Situations where people look at me like.. is she crazy? Like, actually insane? And I don’t blame them because in that moment before the meaning of it all unfolds and we all go ‘ ahaaaaaaaa nooow we get it’

I doubt myself.
But like Ibraahim calayhissalaam was commanded to leave his wife and infant son in the middle of nowhere, whilst he probably thought they’d perish, Allaah’s wisdom prevails. And like Maryam calayhassalaam was told to go back to her people after she had given birth to Ciisa calayhissalaam, and she probably thought she’d be ostracized or worse, Allaah’s promise is never broken.
And while I’m not comparing the calls of my soul to waxyi, I do know that these calls are divine in nature. And I know that the divine can’t be deciphered except in silence and seclusion. Not a physical seclusion, necessarily, but a mental one where one has to close the door on the world, and just observe it through the window.
The burning bush.

The Mount of Tur

The cave of Hiraa

The mihraab of Zakariya

The belly of the whale

The prison in Egypt
A soul must be light in order to bear the uphill climb. And it must be spacious in order to house new truths. And it must be humble in order to take L’s . Cuz you know what?
The biggest winner in the hereafter is the one who has let go of the most in this life.
رَضُوا بِأَن يَكُونُوا مَعَ الْخَوَالِفِ وَطُبِعَ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمْ فَهُمْ لَا يَفْقَهُونَ
“They are content to be with those who sit behind . Their hearts are sealed up (from all kinds of goodness and right guidance), so they understand not.”
(At-Tawbah 9:87)

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. 

Allaah. 

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

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