BismiLlahir Rahmanir Rahim

It was a windy and stormy night. I shuddered at the intensity of the night's thunder as I focused intensely on the road ahead of me. I'm not sure what exactly happened next, though I remember hearing the gratingly loud and irksome noise of metal crushing.

Shortly after, the sound of relentlessly loud honking filled my ears. I hoped it would stop soon as it was a merciless sound, but I soon realized that it was on account of my head resting on the steering wheel. I guess the airbag didn't activate. I tried to lift my head, now a dead weight, but I couldn't. I had no more control over my body.

I was in my final moments, and I realized that the Angel of Death was soon on his way to meet me. I was alone in a car far from anyone who normally offered me comfort. Panic started to set in as the reality of my situation became clear. Distress overtook me, and I wished there was someone nearby to read tasbih or Ya-Sin to lessen the pain in the process of my spirit's departure from my body.

It was the only moment of truth I would have in my life, and I continued to tremble at the thought of its approach. Tears flowed from my eyes, accompanied by ragged and terrified breathing. I tried to say the shahadah, and though it left my lips once, they were not my last words as I begged for God's forgiveness.

My fear was overwhelming, and I counselled myself to have a good opinion of my Lord, as He, the Exalted says, "I am as my servant thinks Me to be, and I am with him when he remembers Me." [Hadith] I tried to remind myself about a man's response when asked about his state as he lay on his deathbed. "Hoping in my Lord and fearful of my sins," he said. One then declared, "Never do these two things unite in the heart of a Muslim, in such a situation as this, but that God grants him what he hopes for, and gives him safekeeping from what he fears."

I opened my eyes and found myself alone looking at the ceiling of my bedroom, the experience evidenced by my tears.

I suppose all I had was a taste of what awaits me, and in God's great generosity, He allows me to live longer so that perhaps when the inevitable time comes for me to meet with the Angel of Death I may be better prepared.

Ya Rab, the veils of deception in this world are too great for me. I have nothing to hang onto except what You favour me with. Ya Allah, take us back to You in the best of states, let us meet You with a smile, and let our lives not be in vain. To You we submit, and from You alone we seek help. Let the purpose of our lives reflect in our actions, and protect us from wronging the bodies and souls with which you've blessed us. Ameen.

الله معي, الله شاهدي, الله حاضري, الله ناظري, الله قريب مني

Jokes! Or Not.

BismiLlahir Rahmanir Rahim

By God's grace, I have the right to be called khala, a very honourable term in my humble opinion. Khala refers to one's mother's sister, who, ideally, is the next best thing to a mother (likewise, a father's brother is ideally the next best thing to a father). I try to teach the little people who call me khala tidbits of useful things when I can, one of which is that we can't be silly in three situations: praying, eating, and studying. Everything else is free game for silliness, and I'll gladly join them in that.

I suppose I've simplified the world by limiting seriousness to those three domains, but I think if most children practiced that, they would be well on their way to learning what it means to be a well-mannered individual, God willing. Perhaps I'm mistaken, and only hope that should I ever be blessed with the responsibility of caring for children, I'll be enlightened as to how to raise them decently.

As for adults, I think we need to broaden our horizons and think deeper about seriousness and jokes. My words here are primarily for myself, though this reflective piece has been inspired by some people's use of the term "fob" (an acronym for "fresh off the boat") or other derivatives of the word such as "fobbish" all of which I cannot tolerate as I consider them condescending, demeaning, and bereft of any useful place. I realize that this word is often used lightly without much consideration of its implications, but we cannot afford to be blind to what we say of others and its effects.

Let's consider one simply profound aspect of the character of our beloved Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessing be upon him, his family, and his companions. It is said that he (peace be upon him) was seen by the people as one who was at ease, free of worries, and with a cheerful disposition. However, we know that there were many things that weighed on him. I consider his cheerful disposition the fruits of his dependence on his Lord and his desire to create a comfortable environment for the people where they could feel less burdened by the world around them. It is from him, upon whom be peace, that we learn that a simple smile is considered an act of charity, given its positive effects on others.

Interestingly, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), was not known to laugh much. As he is reported to have said, "By God, if you knew what I know, you would weep much and laugh little." Habib Husayn As Saqqaf explained that laughter is a characteristic of those who are heedless (al ghaafileen wa al baatileen).

For those of us who laugh easily, I imagine our sense of humour and the things within which we find humour all need to be reassessed with deeper insights.

And for those of us with serious dispositions, I imagine our sense of seriousness needs to be considered in light of how it may affect those around us and whether these effects are beneficial or not.

One cannot expect to find perfection amongst humans as it is a quality of the Creator and only reflected in creation as He wills. But ill-mannered, mean, regularly depressive, and hurtful behaviour towards creation does not befit the human spirit nor the human purpose.

And success is from God alone.

A Natural Spring

BismiLlahir Rahmanir Rahim

While running through the desolate valley desperately seeking that which would ultimately come from Him, the miraculous spring of Zam Zam began to flow providing relief from the difficulties that Hajar and her son Ismail faced in the barren desert.

Perhaps in our own simple ways we reflect this same desperate search, though our struggles manifest themselves in our hearts instead. We run from place to place hoping and praying that from the ultimate source we may receive some of His many favours which would quench our thirst and fulfill some of our more pressing spiritual needs.

And by His awe-inspiring generosity and grace, He sends us a cool drink that feeds the heart for a time. But there are conditions for one to sip of certain fountains, and sometimes, despite the sweetness of the drink, the conditions are not met. And where the conditions can't or won't be met, one must take only enough of a sip to gather one's strength, and then one must move on while depending entirely on Him for an alternative.

When such efforts are exerted for His sake, one can be sure that the benefits of that sweet spring, though a mere sip, will be prolonged. Such is His generosity and grace.

O Lord, we turn to You alone. Let us taste of that which you sanctify for us and give us the strength to utilize Your blessings in service of You. Ya Rab, You are the Provider, the Sustainer, and the Source of all, forsake us not in the isolated valleys of our hearts, and send us the sustenance we need to proceed securely in our journey to You, ameen.
"Do you think that you will enter the Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They encountered suffering and adversity and were so shaken in spirit that even the Apostle and those of faith who were with him cried: 'When (will come) the help of God?' Ah! Verily the help of God is (always) near!" [2:214]



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"Be mindful of God, and God will protect you. Be mindful of God, and you will find Him in front of you. If you ask, ask of God. If you seek help, seek help of God. Know that if the whole world were to gather together to benefit you with anything, it would benefit you only with something that God had already prescribed for you. And if the whole world were to gather together to harm you, it would harm you only with something that God has already prescribed for you. The pens have been lifted and the ink has dried."
--Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him]