The Audacity

“But listen to me. For one moment
quit being sad. Hear blessings
dropping their blossoms
around you.”

~ Rumi

How many times do we go in circles refusing to willingly break free. Until death does the favor or so we think. We refuse to believe in the tangible reality of the hereafter inspite of knowing how unjust and helpless this world is.

We never stop to think that may be just may be the bottomless pit of our desires can only be quenched with something just as endless. Something that is beyond the reach of this fleeting world.

And which isn’t futile to pursue?

We blame God for all the bad around us, for raped dreams, for orphaned ambitions, for oppressed second lives, half dead parenthoods as if its the first time the world has been so brutal.

Fallow stag and flies at dawn.

As if this world was made for anything but this. “Where is God?, for crying out loud,” instead of dear “God, I need you, where should I be?

I am perpetually surprised at our ability to question God when our hearts are contracting but refuse to even acknowledge His presence for every blessing we are savoring, for every step forward, for every kite not yet devoured by the wind it plays with, the missed disasters even when the last recorded sin was not accompanied by a repentance.

The audacity.

But like a too well memorized sonnet we never forget to wonder where He is?

We don’t even feel the burden of our record books on our shoulder forgetting that the pen of the angels never run out of ink. Or deeds to record.

I ask myself why it is so easy to forget that this life and every drop of blood in our veins was accounted for, just like our deeds will be.

I’ve been investigating my jaded criminal nafs across the table. But it won’t confess. It rules me with an iron fist.

“Don’t you taste the regret of pending virtues and of sins committed like clockwork?”

“Almost”

 

 

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A Quora Question

 

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So someone asked me on Quora Why do people convert to Islam even after knowing its origin and history? Of course they meant the alleged barbaric and violent spread of Islam. So before I post what I answered (the question was deleted and I’m a rebel who doesn’t like their voice muffled) I would love to know how common this is. I know a couple of people and I’m sure this is quite more common than I know.

So here’s the answer:-

Why do people convert to Islam even after knowing its origin and history?

I think it is exactly the origin and history of Islam that makes people convert to Islam.

First they are repulsed by what they hear of muslims. They want to know what ticks these people. And all they see is the tag of “muslim” so naturally its got something to do with that religion of theirs.

They’re so honestly concerned and enraged they want to find out all about it. Some people are just inquisitive. The degree of intrigue is different but the goal is the same: what does this religion teach? Why is it such an “oxymoron”?

And then they dig in, some playfully, some seriously, some with a lot of hate but a clean heart.

They try to know all about it from muslim as well as non muslims sources. Most can see through the crap and get to the bottom of it all.

They are shocked to know not only is islam better than that, it’s better than anything they’ve ever know.

And they convert because like a revert friend of mine once said about the conclusion, that islam was not false. Not only that, but it was true.

(end)

 

What do you think? Do you know anyone who got to studying islam out of spite and then converted?

Oh Ramadan

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It’s amazing how Ramadan seems to come exactly when we need it.

This will be my fourth in sha Allah and second without having to hide it from anyone.

The approach of Ramadan has always come with a lot of promises for me all these years. Last year this time, I did something that required so much courage even a fraction of which I knew I didn’t have.

I wrote a letter to my mom to reveal my conversion and saw her crumbling reading every line.

I like to think I’ve been an obedient child, choosing a conventional career path in an academic setting, something my parent thought apt for me. I like to think I had no option but then I also knew I was pretending. I didn’t like studies. I had an active left brain that breathed creativity. That was where I felt at home.

But I did what I felt was the right thing to do. I wanted to make my parents proud forgetting that being my own person was essential to doing anything worth their pride. It was a disappointment for my mother when I stood up for what I wanted to do or rather “did not” want to do. Of course she had my best interest at heart and it took her some time to see through them.

And then there was my reversion.

I’ve never been so sure and yet so cowardly. It was such an oxymoron now that I think of it. But then again this is when courage becomes the bravest choice you can make.

It literally took every ounce of my being to confess who I really was. But what was worse were the tears coming in the very eyes I never wanted to see them in. And to know I was the reason for it all. But indeed in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest. That was my only rope, only hope, only glimmer of light in a dark as a black hole world and that was all I needed.

And just as hard as it rained, subhanAllah it cleared faster. The sun was shining again, as bright as ever. I’d never imagined after all the show down, my mom would even accept my reversion let alone so quickly. Indeed Allah is Al Kareem and Al Fattah. And He surely never burdens a soul with more than it can bear.

I had accepted Islam ten days short of Ramadan. Two years later around the same time I revealed what mattered to me most to people that mattered most to me. And truly, it is a month where mercy is in abundance even at times when the sabr of a mother is being worn down. She would still find it in her to remind me to get up for suhoor, stock fruits and milk so I can fast with a full stomach. I fail to know how she prepared delicious iftar snacks for me carrying a dagger buried in her heart. How she prepared sheer korma just a little over a month after her world has come crashing down.

And then I remember the Source of all this mercy. May He give me the taufeeq to be patient with my mother. And show her how much she means to me inspite of failing to have sabr on the many occasions I’ve lost my cool.

It’s that time of the year again where veils fall off from the eyes of our heart like the autumn leaves. And I can swear there are miracles among us, living, breathing the same air we breathe, holding forbearance like it’s the only thing they ever inherited. Looking like the comfort of the home we come back to but always take for granted.

While I bask in the glow of its approach I pray this time won’t be any less magical, especially for my mother, especially for my mother.

Ya Allah, have mercy on my mother. Let her see the Light of Your Oneness. Turn to her in guidance and forgiveness. Ameen

Please keep me and my family in your duas, especially my mother.

The need to know

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We humans are a curious lot. We always need want to be in the know. I, especially on most occasions find myself with a burning desire to be privy to what’s happening with me and not out of some noble way. It’s more of a selfish thing.

Like when someone cancels on me. I take it all personally. Oh God, I do.

And then I need to know what in the world is so important as to justify canceling of a commitment. As if the world revolves around me. It’s a dangerous monologue that involves no other perspective except my own. I can’t be blamed for being impatient when I don’t even understand what I need to be patient with right? I confess I let my thoughts lead me instead of the other way around.

Sometimes you need patience with the need to know itself. People have their own perspective and may be yours just doesn’t figures in theirs. And even if it does, it may be way off. But then those expectations are not going to fulfill themselves are they? -_-

[Al-Khidh r] said, “This is parting between me and you. I will inform you of the interpretation of that about which you could not have patience. [18:78]

I need so much of the patience (and the interpretation) this verse speaks of in my life right now. May Allah forgive me.

There is knowledge and then there is unnecessary information. And in an age where you are a Google search away from what you need to know, not getting answers is downright unacceptable. It even surprises me  when I don’t get answers to really personal questions like “why do I feel this way?”

I am not good at being patient. It’s a boot camp. As soon as you think you are getting there, the goal post has shifted. I especially find it tough to be patient with specific people. May be just because I don’t understand them. Like some mental wall goes up against the unknown and terrifying. A brutal shield. Will it break with the opening of the heart? I don’t really know.

Indeed our Prophet (saw) told us, “Part of the perfection of one’s Islam is his leaving that which does not concern him.” [Tirmidhi]

Now I understand this is with regards to actionable knowledge that helps you become a better Muslim. And I find this really profound because I can’t relate when someone wonders on small things like what kind of clothing someone wears under their abaya because some religious fanatics on the other side of earth may take offense if its tight western clothing. What the heck?

I can’t understand someone who is enamored by the number of expensive beauty products in someone’s dressing table instead of the riches and luxuries awaiting the slaves of Allah in the next life.

I can’t understand someone who fusses over the mental note another person makes about their impressive appearance instead of expecting them to see through the façade to what truly matters.

I can’t understand why someone would care about the Islamic perspective of the political situation of a muslim country instead of the Islamic perspective on the problems and issues in their own life as well.

I know I’m rambling but just bear with me for a sec. I really need to get this out there.  I think I’ll never get some people.

By the grace of God’s magnificent plans, they and I not just crossed paths but somehow became good friends. I wonder if we are growing apart now and I shouldn’t be associating with them anymore. Or I just need to be more patient because we are tied together with the rope of our friendship’s torrid history and I may be the only practicing Muslim or a close friend or a confidante they have?

Because wasn’t I like that before and still am at times? Until Allah guided me to better? To Islam. How am I to deal with a personality I no longer relate to when I am still learning patience and acceptance myself.

These are the kind of situations where I am clueless about my role. To forever be a seeker. Ya Allah get me in on this information. I need to know…or do I?

Why the World is Not Black and White

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When you’re a Muslim, you just cannot go a meter without running into an overzealous person trying to teach you their version of Islam. Indeed sometimes, that can be you yourself.

Through my journey on trying to become a better Muslim and learning about Islam, I’ve struggled quite a bit. In part it’s what makes this journey so unique and heartfelt. I can feel every color and emotion of being human. And alhamdulillah, I believe it is this reflection of my own weaknesses, this humanness of not being able to comprehend it all that keeps me saying Ya Allah guide me, help me. Blessed is the confusion that shows me I’ll always be in need of Allah SWT

No wonder, the very composition, order and significance of Surah Al Fatiha makes so much sense.

All this imperfection to comprehend all the information about Islam and the struggle to put it in practice can be overwhelming. And I think the way I’ve been praying salah is the perfect symbol of this struggle. From following a madhab’s women’s prayer, to praying like men to doing something of my own out of sheer confusion symbolizes all the other struggles I’ve faced practicing Islam. And I’m amazed time and again how much peace it can still bring alhamdullilah. Allah is truly the Most Patient and the Most Merciful.

It also means I am learning and growing. Just like the seed that takes time to become a tree or the crescent moon that takes time to become full. And you want people to see that even if they want to judge you. The problem starts when they refuse to.

So coming back to overzealous people and specifically muslims. I think a folly that lot of such people make is thinking the world is made up of just two shades – Black and White.

So you are either good or evil

Beautiful or ugly

Alive or dead

Successful or unsuccessful

Terrorist or Non Muslim

Muslim or Disbeliever

Anyone who understands the message of Islam and it’s discouragement against extremism can smell the coffee.

Our world is neither heaven nor hell then why do people who don’t agree with us instantly brand us as the worst creature in their sight? Why can’t there be room for possibilities? I’ll never know.

But the people I refer to, they are SO hyperfocused on a single trait they oppose, they become completely blind. They don’t realize how absurd, ignorant and presumptuous their generalization is. Either you are a muslim* (their terms and conditions applied) or a polytheist, disbeliever and the likes. In their blindness they don’t realize they are assuming extremity to an extent that doesn’t even exist. They are recognized by their extreme pro-something trait but in truth they are anti-something else.

I’d just like to tell them I am as human as you are. So if you think I’m doing something wrong explain it to me and let me take my time to understand and contemplate my position according to my understanding.

Stop saying I am a disbeliever

Stop saying I am a polytheist

Stop letting your ego take over your good sense.

Stop letting shaytan tell you how strong and truthful you are

Stop this anti-dawah

Not only because it hurts me but also because I am sure you’re not sparing anyone else and in turn risking someone’s experience of learning Islam and becoming a Muslim.

God forbid if that poor someone is already on the fence about Islam and Muslims with one step out of the door, I promise your behavior is anti-Islamic. You may just push someone out and break their belief in Islam. Any Muslim will hate to be that person.

If I don’t eat pie, doesn’t mean I am in love with pudding. If I love pizza, doesn’t mean I hate burgers. If I am not a Muslim (according to your fallible interpretation) doesn’t mean I am a polytheist. If I don’t follow your position, doesn’t mean I worship scholars who have a different position.

This world is NOT black and white, don’t let yours be.

Let the sincerity to worship Allah alone prevail. Lets resign to the fact that indeed only Allah knows best.

Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is [rightly] guided.. {16:125}

 

 

Back to Basics

Bismillah

It’s been almost a year I wrote here. And here I am again.

So much has changed and yet so much remains the same since the first time I picked up a pen and spilled words in a diary. So much has changed since I decided to formed words from my thoughts and since I made the courage to get up and do something about my life. After a long winter and bouts of summer I had decided it was enough and with the name of Allah set out to do something I never imagined I had the strength to do. I decided to write professionally.

And if any one was wondering where I’ve been, it’s where I was, writing for my life. I never fathomed this after all, this blog would be the beginning of reconnecting to what I’d once lost or rather had forgotten.

So much like becoming muslim.

A day ago a friend reminded me how I was an amazing writer in school. I remember an essay I’d penned in my 9th standard exam paper. I didn’t know it then but it felt like a spring inside me had found its way out. And the result was an amazing essay I was absolutely proud of as soon as I had completed it.

The cherry on top of the cake was when the teacher thought the same. Bless her, she loved my essay so much she actually read it out in front of the whole class. Though I wasn’t there that very day to be sitting beaming with pride but I remember being weirdly enchanted with my little achievement.

Now, after so many years, after so much struggle and work I’ve come back to it. I never imagined I’d be writing on and off field and there would be people paying me for it. And this blog has been the launching pad for all that I would be. I know that spring I found sitting on a bench in the exam hall is still here. Sometimes I come across it unexpectedly.

I like to believe Islam has a way of reconnecting you to your origins, to your once pure ambitions.

So here I am. In sha Allah and this time I truly madly deeply want to keep my blog alive and well. Expressing my thoughts and reflecting on life and Islam.

BTW of course I’ve been writing. I contribute on Quora as well https://www.quora.com/profile/Zara-Razaq

So you can expect many rants and opinionated posts on my experiences.

May Allah make it a means of good for me and for anyone reading. Ameen

This blog however will always be that special place I started from. It’s been through my ups and downs but mostly my downs. I wish to resurrect it once again. Here goes nothing….

Bismillah 🙂