To tie my camel…my silent struggle to accept fate
By Zaynab Dawood
Some struggles are too obvious to hide and others are the type that we have no choice but to conceal under our smiles or disguise under the monotonous fabric of our lives. These struggles remain silent to the world but to the individual it’s a deafening silence that will only recede if its confronted.
My struggle had been to understand and accept the Islamic tenet of fate. This was two-fold: one was in accepting my personal destiny and secondly, making sense of fate as it unfolded in the world around us. Time passed and Allah blessed me with understanding but it has been a troubling and tiring journey…
The meanderings of motherhood
I wouldn’t call it a bolt of lightening but rather a glimmer of cognitive enlightenment when I began to absorb some semblance of accepting al Qadr. What caused this? Pangs of motherhood, with all its intense pressures on every single faculty of a woman’s being, brought me closer to understanding what it means to truly accept one’s fate. Holding on to that soft scrunchie of human loveliness, tightly but tenderly, I pledged, like every mother does, to love and care for my baby for every second of its precious life. My pledge was silent and wordless as the language of true love doesn’t function on words or syntax. But then an agonising gasp burst out, with stinging tears, heart thudding and a wrenching pain in the gut that would outdo those labour contractions any day: when you realise that this precious bundle of sweetness can be taken away from you at any time, in any manner, for any reason and there isn’t a SINGLE thing we can do about it. This is the ultimate experience of fate: when death of a loved one, so young and innocent, is thrust upon us. As busy mums we spend endless hours making sure every possible speck of danger is removed from our environments so that our little ones can play and roam freely and safely. This is how we try to control our fate…to mould each day’s activities so that we remain safe.
Fate may bring a challenge our way despite all the precautions we take; destiny may bring forth suffering regardless of our pleas and prayers. It is precisely at this prickly yet pristinely clear juncture that we acknowledge that Allah is Greater and more Powerful than anything. Difficult and uncomfortable it may be to fully accept this but Allah in His Mercy has given us the tools of dua and remembrance to gently absorb this reality into our psyche and make it a permanent lens through which we view and experience the world.
This I call being at the altar of true submission: our duas are pleas and affirmations that He will take care of us and through His Infinite Generosity He will guide and sustain us. Entrenched in this state is the acceptance that Allah has the right to plan, ordain, to determine how our lives will be and this includes any suffering we may experience. The silent tears of the blessed Prophet (pbuh) etch their way into my conscience, when he (pbuh) cried when Allah took his baby son away from him. One of the companions asked if he (pbuh) was not accepting Allah’s Will to which he quietly replied: “my heart is only sad.” There is something to realise here, in the examples of our noble prophets. The prophets were the most beloved to Allah yet they had the toughest of lives: their destinies peppered with pain, humiliation, persecution and murder, yet they epitomised faith. The truth was always staring me in the face but I still struggled…
My teaching trip…
Teaching Islam is a real blessing although I know with an awkward lucidity that I am not, in any shape or form, able to impart its true essence in the best of ways. The legacies that beautify the annals of our intellectual heritage shine a light so bright and efficacious that the world is still basking in their rays of knowledge.
As a teacher I always struggle when it comes to teaching ‘fate’. Fate, destiny, predestination- many terms that refer to one of the most difficult concepts to define and explore. Again, it is suffering that provides the impetus for debate.
Students have no filters when they view world events. When they see fate unravelling itself at a dangerous pace and intensity, propelled by instigators of injustice and hate, the Merciful Names of Allah will be far from their radar. Natural disasters and bloody wars are phenomena that highlight how difficult it is to understand al Qadr against the backdrop of millions of lives that have been lost. History is testament to the organic tendency of humans’ yielding of evil. The endowment of free will enters the discussion at this point and I remind students and myself that the suffering from wars is a result of human brutality yet this explanation of events seems inadequate as it excludes natural disasters and diseases. What needs to be brought forward at such junctures are the Names of Allah such as Most Wise, The Just and The Reckoner. Allah has a design and purpose for each of us individually and collectively: this may involve severe tests but tests do not last forever. This world will not last forever. It is in His Divine Plan to bring all injustices to an end and part of our imaan is to believe in the Divine Wisdom of Allah. We place our trust in Him. This includes trusting Him with things we do not understand.
For me the understanding of fate would always be incomplete until I fully accepted that Allah has knowledge and wisdom that is totally unfathomable to the likes of me. It took some time for Prophet Musa (as) to understand the motives and actions of the wise sage Al Khidr. It also required me to realign my understanding of personal and collective suffering with a deeper understanding of the afterlife.
The eternal truth of justice necessitates that there must be recompense for every ill and mishap of fate. This cannot be done in the confinements and restraints of this ephemeral world but in the world beyond where all the painful creases of the destiny of our human tapestry will be smoothed and put straight by the One who weaved it. In the meanwhile, we should tie our camels firmly and securely, and make a prayer while we do this…
“…and Allah is the Best of Planners.” (8:30)
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!