By Aya Zaki
In that school’s small prayer room, a little girl sat not realizing she was having an encounter with God. It was a day where the teacher had decided they would all go and pray together as a class. It was a dim room, but the light and peace of that encounter lingered within her soul for years; paving a path she never once thought she’d walk on, nor did anyone else. Yet He is her Maker and He knows it all.
They say connecting the dots makes His wisdom apparent. Connecting His signs and encounters makes our heart melt from gratitude. Knowing that He has always been taking care of you and guiding you even when you were oblivious about it, gives you the courage and hope to move forward assured that you’re in the safety of His Hands and mercifully Wise decree.
And so you let go.
“If only you knew how Allah manages your affairs, your heart would melt out of love for Him.” -Ibn al Qayyim
Reflecting helps me let go of the fear of what will be because it helps me to see He; who tells all things “Be” and so they become. Reflecting on the moments and times where I had felt His Presence, Kindness, Love, and Security; restores my trust in Him.
As I leave the stillness of that small prayer room and go back to my everyday life as a teenager with all of its up and downs; Ramadan comes, and with it Peace again. Although on the outside no one could notice, not even me at the time, but Ramadan for me was a sanctuary; like a shelter from all the whirlwind of emotions, thoughts, and fast pace of events throughout the year. As I pick the habit of daily reading of Allah’s book from my mother during the holy month, my soul opens up to and is engulfed by His words and, despite my poor comprehension of the language, Peace involuntarily leaks into me and stays there without me realizing it.
Year after year Ramadan was almost the only time I held His book, and the only time I felt that indescribable sense of peace. Yet I never made the connection between the two and I had no idea that the Source of that peace remains with me all year long.
Moments like these have been woven into the textile of my years, one after the other, to illuminate my way and build my urge to draw closer to Him. That time when I felt completely in need of Allah after a very painful surgery and I saw Him through my father’s healing recitation of the Qura’n. I felt His kindness through the selfless soothing hand of my nurse. I experienced His Healing that enabled me to walk again. And during that time where I felt heartbroken at the end of a relationship, I saw Him guiding me to something so much better.
The moments of light were there, but the distractions and lack of knowledge were what veiled me from seeing or bringing them into my conscious mind, and seeking the Source of that Light. I never thought a life of connection was even an option, so I never thought to even ask or strive for it.
God was not at the forefront of my mind, and the Hereafter was just too far away- as if unreal. I had no idea there existed a path that actually leads to Him. I never questioned what I truly believe in, until I started yearning to know Him. And through the search my faith was renewed as I re-embraced Islam, my soul resuscitated and so much goodness showered.
I now see how a life of not practising Islam was a blessing in disguise, because it lead me to choose Him by free will and urged a search for the Truth which resulted in a deeper conviction. It was a life seemingly distant from God on the outside yet filled with His Mercy, Peace, and Light through which I was taught so many meanings. The darkness made me appreciate the light so much more and it made me know what it is that I’m seeking through knowing what it is that I’m not.
إِلَّا مَن تَابَ وَآمَنَ وَعَمِلَ عَمَلًا صَالِحًا فَأُولَٰئِكَ يُبَدِّلُ اللَّهُ سَيِّئَاتِهِمْ حَسَنَاتٍ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا
“Except for those who repent, believe, and do good deeds, they are the ones whose evil deeds Allah will change into good deeds. For Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”
Verse 70 of surah alFurqan descends as a soothing reminder on my heart every time with a deep hope that Allah makes me and all those who repent from among those whose wrong deeds are turned into good ones. Ameen.
On the outside, it was a life of heedlessness, while inside it was a subtle river of Guidance and Mercy. Reflecting back all the hard times of my life were blessings in disguise, and no matter how hard any trial seemed to be; His gentleness never left for a second. Through the waves, the deeper we dive the calmer it is, and then we just flow through this life, carried by currents of Allah’s loving Mercy.
And to Him I write:
Alhamdulilaah Rabbil ‘Aalameen.
Thank You for always being there. You are there even in the moments when I am heedless of You.
At the times when I didn’t see You, You still saw me.
Even in the places where I was not seeking You, You were still there.
You were there amidst every darkness, redirecting me to that door of light inside.
Through that search for meaning, it was You telling me how fulfilment can come solely in You and by You.
Through every storm, it was You who anchored me.
In those moments of pure gratitude and joy, it was You flooding those words of gratitude from my heart to let me know that You are the Source of every goodness.
And in those rare moments with Your book, that Peace that engulfed me was You; telling me to stay there.
Thank You for teaching me how Your Mercy and Knowledge are more infinitely vast than any judgement we might have of ourselves or of those around us.
Thank you for teaching me that only You know.
Only You know what is in the hearts of Your slaves.
Thank you for teaching me how Your Mercy sometimes encompasses us in subtle ways.
Thank You for teaching me that You’re not just for the perfectly faithful, but for those who are still lost.
Not just for the strong, but for the weak.
Not just for the healed, but for the broken.
Not just for those in the light, but for those still in the dark,
because that is just what You do and will always do;
You bring people out of the darkness and into Your light.
هُوَ الَّذِي يُصَلِّي عَلَيْكُمْ وَمَلَائِكَتُهُ لِيُخْرِجَكُم مِّنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ ۚ وَكَانَ بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ رَحِيمًا
“It is He who blesses you, as do His angels, in order to bring you out of the depths of darkness into the light. He is ever Merciful towards the believers,” The Qur’aan, surah alAhzab (33:43)
May we and our loved ones be completely immersed in Allah’s Light in this life and for Eternity. Ameen.
About the author:
Aya Zaki is a mother who is passionate about education and art. She aspires to be a tool for planting seeds of Allah’s Love and Light. Read more from her at http://fromatwinklyheart.blogspot.com/