By Hadil Arman
“I do not want to wake up one day and regret marrying the person next to me.”
How hard it is to swallow a few words uttered to you when you know that is not what you deserve. When you know your relationship with your Lord. When you know the secrets between you and Him. A few words said out of anger and haste that pushed me to ultimately shape the person I am today. How deeply rooted are some of the early life lessons we face? Like the planted seeds of a tree remaining in its’ foundation regardless of the growth that takes place. Branches that expand and expand. With every lesson, our branches strengthen. I wonder, when we look back, would we have this strength had it not been for those early seeds?
My istikhara to Allah at one of the lowest points of my youth led me to the best decision I could have ever made. Correction; the best decision I allowed Allah to take care of. You see, I was your typical Arab girl. In every way you can fathom. Everything about me reeked of your average cheesy soap – Arabian wannabe princess, and with that came the ideas I created in my mind about what my spouse would and should be like. So, opportunities came. I tried and it wasn’t the right person. Tried again, and pieces of the puzzle were missing. Each time I refused to conform to miserable expectations. Each time I was hurt, I was unwilling to plunge into something that compromised who I was. Who I knew myself to be. So, each time my walls grew higher. Stronger. More resilient. With every disappointment throughout it all, a new brick layered. With every hurt, my mindset would readjust. With every lesson my eyes refocused after blurring. Isn’t that strange? The more hurt I felt, the more focused Allah made me.
The day came where I was met with the few words you read. It tested my core. Tested what I was willing to accept. Tested what I really believed in when it came to Allah’s bounty. Tested my belief in His mercy. Tested my belief in relying upon Him. Tested my decisions. Tested my resilience. I did not deserve to be viewed in this way. It was always someone else’s own insecurities and perception that lead them to falsely attach negative beliefs about you, to you. And just like that I sat there the same evening. Speaking to my Lord. I just wanted Him to take care of me. A memorable istikhara conversation that will forever bring goose bumps to surface. Everything said came from my heart and the feeling after having done so was something I cannot put into words- I finally felt safe. I believed in every single duaa I made. How many times before that point has Allah had my back? Though hurt, I slept with satisfaction for the first time in months because of the decision I had made that day; handing this worry onto Him and Him alone. Handing over my burden to Him. Contentment and solace beyond explanation.
“Sister, there is a brother at work who is about to speak to your manager about you with regards to proposing” a colleague at the Islamic centre I worked in told me.
NOOOO. I am not ready. I JUST made that duaa. I JUST put myself into that gear. I need to work on myself, I need to find who I am. I have been through enough already. I need to… I want to… I must…’
I continued to self-talk.
How do you know that all your experiences have not been the lessons you needed? Does your unconscious and conscious mind work separate from each other? Are you not one
entity? You are an entire being, as whole as Allah created you. You will be able to reap the benefits of becoming a better person through the experiences you’ve lived. Your experiences and how you have come out of them – even unconsciously – play a role in bringing out the best version of yourself. Why doubt Allah’s bounties for you because of the reflection you see in the mirror? Why doubt His timings because of your expectations?
“Don’t tell me who it is because I do not want it to sway my decision in any way. Maybe I needed to be more specific, maybe I need to specifically pray istikhara about something. I believe in every single duaa I made BUT did I pray and make duaa in the right way? Let me just…”
I continued to self-talk.
It was Mr S. Convert working in the fundraising department. Hmm. Okay. Give me a brief description. ‘He is divorced and has a child.’ Hmm. Not what I was expecting. Where is all this coming from? Who even is he? Do we have anything in common? Why him? How old was his child? Why did he get divorced? Am I still making excuses or am I being real? Weren’t these the type of questions you always knew about someone prior? I continued to self-talk. If you always do what you did, you’ll always get what you got. What harm is there in praying istikhara specifically about him? Let’s just pray istikhara, ya Hadil, and then ask all that you need to ask. Let’s just pray. “Whatever he is, ya Allah. Whatever his background is. If he is good for me, my dunya and my akhirah, then guide me to him with ease.”
I had to stick to my promise to Him. I had to follow His guide.
My parents’ individual reactions were like green lights sent from Allah directly. The first green light was faint, distance and just about visible. This was my mother’s words of “You never know where and who your naseeb (destiny) is binty (my daughter)”. My own perceptions kept creeping up of what should and shouldn’t be. Even with my mother’s unexpected encouraging words, my thoughts of a picture perfect ending kept coming into play. The second green light was a stamp of approval. So bright, clear and inviting. I could not deny its vibrant existence. This was my father’s honest words after his first conversation with Mr S. “It is as though Allah has sent down sakeenah (tranquillity) in my heart for this man”.
It was too simple. A feeling, up to that point, that was so alien to me. It was just all too simple. And I wanted more.
“Call on me, I will answer you” 40:60
I wanted more.
“Indeed the patient will be given their reward without account (limit)” 39:10
I wanted more.
I wanted more of His mercy. I wanted more of His barakah. I wanted more of His guide. I wanted more of His bounties. So, I continued to pray, sometimes in disbelief, waiting for something to go wrong. Ya Allah, any sign and I will run. Allah sent tests. Other proposals, opinions, extended family interferences. Was I going to allow Allah to guide me to someone I would have never thought would be a match for me, or was I going to listen to all the background noise? One by one, I started to tune my self-talk down in pursuit of His guide. I did not know this man. I did not have any feelings invested. So, with every duaa, I waited on His guide.
Instead, Allah sent more bounties. Wow, we have so much in common. No way, those are your interests? Yea, I really love that too! Thank you for this gift. Thank you for that gift. JazakAllahu khayr, yes my mum loved the honey. That is very kind of you. Yes, my mothers’ samosas are truly the best! Here, taste this, it’s bread dipped in a blended mix of yoghurt and other goodness and we call it shafoot. Yes, you can have it with anything and everything! No, we call this sahawig, it’s a Yemeni chilli, here look, if you place some on your samosa with a little bit of shafoot and a touch of lemon juice, it will taste amazing! I am sure you would love to visit Sanaa. That’s my younger sister trying to eavesdrop!
We clicked. In all the right ways, we clicked.
You have to trust your gut instinct and follow the signs Allah gives you through His guide. Take the leap. Sometimes the right parcels come in the most unexpected packaging. If we were to turn away the entire parcel because of what everyone perceives the packaging should be like, including you, then we are depriving ourselves from what might be just for us. A parcel sent from Allah perfect for us at that time.
Mr S shortly after became my best friend, supporter and husband. Two people from two completely different walks of life, yet through Allah’s guide, we became one. He became my love through istikhara.
About the author:
Hadil Arman is a lover of reading, learning and deep conversations and thoughts. A UK based mother of two and wife to a revert, she is also a graduate of Sociology and Psychology. She hopes to be a part of the growing change in mental well-being within our community.