By Meru Hussain
I thought I was good at being happy for people. I really did. I used to question how and why it could be so hard for others to be the same.
But just like the calm before the storm, a change in my circumstances gave birth to some repulsive feelings that I couldn’t admit to myself, let alone to my confidants: I had to adjust my life to care for a loved one. I thought I had to give up my classes and community projects, and I felt jealous and envious that just as I was on the cusp of pursuing my dreams, I was hit by another setback, whilst those around me were living the dream. I questioned my sincerity because although I was fulfilling my duty, I wasn’t feeling the connection. Resentment was creeping up on me like a twisted vine on a tree, wrapping it’s tangled roots around my soul. Like a stubborn beast my nafs became wild. I couldn’t recognise myself. I wanted to numb these feelings and run from myself. Although I recognised these feelings, knew they were bad and were choking my heart, I didn’t know what to do.
The attack was forceful, pushing me to the edge of destruction. So, I crawled to the summit of my emotions and laid them down in front of Him. I wept like I hadn’t done in a long time, I turned to the only One who really knew me. I implored Al Mujeeb, the One Who Answers, to respond to my cries of help, to save me from the ocean of dark thoughts threatening to drown me.
He gave me the courage to pick up a pen and write it down… all of it. Then I saw the ugly truth in front of me: no filters, no masks, just the truth – MY truth. I was able to see it, define it and deal with it. I had to know all of me, real, raw, beautifully ugly me, in order for me to heal.
I am not what happened to me, I am not my mistakes or sins, I am not my labels. Sometimes we can get so lost in our trials and how we handled them that we forget we can turn back to Him.
When we are in the thick of it, broken and bruised from physical and emotional wounds, it seems like this is our end. We inevitably fall, only to rise again, because to survive is our fitra.
How we build on our fitra is influenced by our parents, siblings, teachers, society- but where does Islam fit in?
Islam was gifted to us to liberate us rather than isolate us. By accepting Islam, it does not alter you as a person. We were all created unique therefore our realities are different, but the foundations are the same. Comparing ourselves to others is a major hindrance to our abilities. Understanding our fitra is the key to finding where we fit in the puzzle. Ihsan is excellence, but that cannot be achieved if you do not know where YOUR excellence lies.
“And thus we have sent an Arabic Qur’an down and diversified the warnings in it so that they may become conscious (of God) or it would inspire remembrance. (Qur’an, 20:113)”
I would often reflect on nature and tangible things to give me insight about the creation of Allah to help me better understand myself. However, once I identified the inner workings of my own being, I was left in awe of Al -Khaaliq, The Creator. I never focused on myself before because I was caught up with guarding myself against self-righteousness. I was trying to practice humility but confused it with self-deprecation. What never occurred to me before, was that in understanding myself better, acknowledging the gifts Al Wahhab bestowed on me, I was obeying Him as best I could. Wherever I am in my journey to Allah, what I must remember is He created me and put me where I am supposed to be. Sure, I can have some companions with me for the ride, but the journey is mine.
“And We have certainly diversified in this Qur’an for mankind from every kind of example. But, mankind has above all else always been argumentative. “(Qur’an, 18:54)
By comparing myself to my family, friends or others I was trying to evade my reality and place myself in theirs. A reality they created, different from mine. Although I believe in the same God it does not mean I will follow the same pattern of worship. For example, someone may find it easy to pray on time whilst struggling with fasting. Another may find it easy to give in charity but difficult to learn the Qur’an.
The Prophet Muhammad (saw) said “Indeed Allah The Most High created Adam from a handful that He took from all of the earth. So the children of Adam come in accordance with the earth, some of them come red, and white and black, and in between that, and the evil, and the pure, and in between” ( recorded by Ahmad, and similar in Bukhari) .
This hadith offers great comfort in understanding why we are all so diverse, not just in skin colour and features, but in personality and temperament also. If we act against our innate nature or personality, we risk going to war with ourselves. I’ve often tried to coerce myself into doing too much, only to burn out and feel frustration. This for me would be normal behaviour. But once I understood that I am not my behaviour I became aware of how to approach these areas in my life. I identified a way of getting to know me better to get to know Allah better.
Here are three tips which helped me:
Make Dua. I’d observed with myself that dua was somewhere a little further down my list compared with other acts of ibadah. Maybe somewhere down the line I had told myself that my voice wasn’t important enough to be engaged in a conversation with As Samee’. Whereas the very first page of the Qur’an, the opening, is a dua gifted to us by Allah. I’ve been in the darkness, felt it, touched it pushed it away with all my might, but nothing bursts the nucleus of darkness quite like the light of guidance. If He can hear the dua of Yunus (as) from the depths of the ocean, sealed inside the belly of a whale, then the route from your thoughts to your lips is the only obstacle for the solution to your problem. Ask Al Haadi, The One Who Guides, to guide you; keep asking like a 2-year-old child begs, beg Him like that because He is shy to turn you away empty handed.
I cannot express in words how much journalling has helped me on my journey of self-discovery. We have been conditioned to be strong, mask our feelings, continue hiding our vulnerability. It makes me think if we are an honoured creation of Allah, how can we not honour our feelings? Our signals indicate what our soul desperately needs. Without recognising our feelings, we are wandering aimlessly seeking guidance from sources other than Allah. Allowing the ink of your heart to spill onto paper is a liberating experience. It doesn’t have to make sense, because our feelings don’t, but it helps to map out your mind objectively observe it.
Turn to the Qur’an; you will find a cure for every ailment of your heart and soul therein. When you identify an emotion through your journaling and seek the guidance for that in the Qur’an then know that Al Fattah will open an outlet to direct that feeling in a way that befits you.
“Everyone behaves according to their nature (shākil), and your Lord knows who is the most guided” (17:84).
In this ayah Allah tells us that everyone has their own nature, but also reminds us that only He knows who is the most guided.
Allah created you with an innate quality to allow you to grow; now you must find that quality, nurture it, and be you.
About the author:
Meru is a mother of 2 with a background in IT currently working on her own personal development and is a community activist. She is pursuing a passion of writing and blogs on her Instagram page musingsofmeru.