By Zaynab Dawood
Expectations adorn our horizon. Our lives seamlessly weave into paths that stretch out before us into a pattern of life that we all expect to fit into, to keep smiling and to keep our heads held high. This is a good thing, alhumdulillaah.
Moments cascade into days, and days into weeks. When things don’t go as planned and when we feel the heavy cloak of ghaflah ( heedlessness) weigh us down or the recklessness of our sins singe our view, we may be searching for that point in our lives when we say: this is enough, I have to stop and start again.
There are some people who have the strength and will power to bravely shun their weaknesses and start afresh. And this courage becomes a turning point that sustains their new beginning. Once such a person gets up, they stay up. Alhumdulilah.
Reality has a different trajectory, though, for some of us. What happens when we keep slipping? When we keep falling? What happens when, in those murky moments between faith and hopelessness, we actually run towards the darkness?
This is not a lament but an affirmation that life does get dark and darker for some of us but that darkness is but a hue in the spectrum of colours and states, all created by our Lord. And just like the layers of darkness engulfed Prophet Yunus (upon him be peace), Allah heard his pleas and rescued him. It was the darkness that brought Yunus (as) to the Light.
Rescue is close, very near, we just need to reach out, not physically but internally. The Rope of Allah is there in front of us and it is just the correct size and texture for us to grasp, tailor made for our embrace. All we need is to utter Oh Lord or Most Merciful or Oft Forgiving. And when these are far too many syllables to say, because of the incarcerating darkness, a simple sigh of “Allah”, a gentle exhale, is all we need to disperse those particles of negativity and draw us back into His Mercy.
We all know that life is a lesson… A test… An exam… An experience that is fledged by countless experiences. Try we may to keep mishaps and disorder at bay, we will experience those painful anomalies and it is these experiences that push our mental, psychological and spiritual capacities to the limit. Those hidden recesses, that are awakened with these ripples of fate, are reservoirs oozing with enlightenment. It’s in those cerebral crevices that we get to call upon our Lord the Expander… The Clement…The Restrictor...His Names and Attributes bring clarity: the bare truth of the fragility of our existence is illumined.
Yet we forget. We falter. It is somewhat of an occupational hazard just being a believer but the One Who sustains us has a fool proof formula ready for us to use. This formula increments a twenty-four hour paradigm that pins us to our daily grind. Spread throughout the day like bright beacons across stormy seas, our salah is patient: waiting for us to give it life through sincere devotion and in turn we harvest a soothing elixir that instantly connects us with our Lord, just long enough for the next instalment. Every believer has been given five free renewals of membership each day, every day. So when things do consume us and overwhelm us to the point that everything around us appears broken, we turn to Allah in salah and soon we see those toxic shards shift and mobilise into a wholeness once again.
There is a small, perhaps a tiny, vessel somewhere in our brain, like a minute dormant spot, that is filled with pessimism. Every time we slip, we falter, we shiver with sudden thoughts of loneliness or hopelessness, this spot tries to become something greater than it is. It tries to become malignant and whispers: you’re always falling… You’re always making a new start… Why don’t you just give up…
I say to my spot that it doesn’t matter how many times I fall- my Rabb will pick me up. With tahleel, “laa ilaaha illa-Allaah,” I will start afresh, again and again. I say to my spot… I can’t stop you from making me fall but you can’t stop me from getting up.
Every teardrop is in the past, every shudder of pain is a memory, every prickly weakness… every thorny sin…will be erased and smoothed away in sha Allah by the Mercy of Allah. Every time I turn to Him let it be a new beginning. Maybe this time I will have the strength to blot out that spot forever.
We don’t need momentous occasions to make a new start nor do we need a singular moment to crystallise our new beginning. For me a new beginning is every moment I need Him to save me from any corrosive darkness. The coolness of dhikr balms my elisions; and rejuvenated by the warmth of my family and friends, I’m no longer broken. Renewed, I’m whole again. And whole I will remain in shaa Allah.
“If Allah helps you none can overcome you…” (3:160)
About the author:
I’m Zaynab Dawood from Lancashire, England. I’m a busy mum of four, a teacher and author. For me there are three delights in life: Ibadah, spending time with family and friends, and reading good literature!