A Breath Away

BismiLlahir Rahmanir Rahim

For much of this past year, I've felt like a fish out of water. Yesterday marked one year when I last breathed Yemeni air, and I do miss it. I miss it a lot.

As I listen to the rainfall this early morning, I can't seem to get back to sleep. It poured and poured the night that I was scheduled to fly out of Sana'a delaying my flight by five hours. And while many might have found the delay a nuisance, it was yet another blessing in God's ultimate plan for me. By the time I made it to Frankfurt to catch my connecting flight, I only needed to wait in the boarding terminal for about half an hour before boarding. My preference, by far, was to spend five hours sitting in Sana'a's humble airport.

There are endless memories - thoughts, reflections, dreams, experiences, interactions, sights - from my time in Yemen that I've drawn from over the last year. Interestingly, they have helped me in many ways as I lived through what has been the most challenging year of my life thus far. My life is far better than most, alhamduliLlah, and it is pretty problem-free, but there are things that I've almost taken for granted that have changed and that force me to restructure my approach to life. I am confident that peace will eventually meet me if I persevere, God willing.

Perseverance. It's really a difficult word to describe, and my life has been far too easy for me to ever claim to have any insights into its deeper meaning. But in my own simple way, I have had a taste of it.

I suppose it's fair to say that most who know me note that I'm particularly fond of Arabic. It was in search of her sweetness, at least initially, that took me to Yemen (and God knows best). However, it might surprise these same people to know that sometimes I wanted to give up. Though I only studied for about sixty percent of the time that I was in Yemen, I devoted my attention at those times wholeheartedly to my studies. After my short class each day, I'd return to my abode, be it my empty though peaceful apartment, or a home of generous though trying strangers, or the confines of a bustling boarding school, and studied alone with my trusty dictionary ever nearby.

I would sometimes get frustrated with myself when I noted that I was looking up the same word in the dictionary for about the fourth time (if not more). I wondered why I couldn't remember its meaning the first or second time around. Nonetheless, it was what I had to do, so I did it. I couldn't detect the progress that I was making in the language, and I couldn't anticipate any end.

Finally, it was time to write a mid-term exam. My teacher had far more confidence in my abilities than I had (and still have) in myself (yet another blessing, alhamduliAllah), and thus prepared a somewhat challenging exam. I suppose it was about one hour into writing the exam when I realized that I was smiling. I probably smiled the entire duration of the exam as I engaged with the questions. True enough, I didn't know all the answers and I made some silly mistakes, but that's the meaning of learning, and I was learning.

Now, I'm afraid to even look at that same exam which I still have with me because it'll evidence all that I've forgotten or failed to build upon.

A year of my life has passed, and I have not achieved even a minute percentage of the goals that I put before myself as I made my way back home. I suppose my goals are superficial in their own right, and I need only focus my attention on the needs of my heart, but that's an even heavier weight which I'd be blessed to be able to carry.

My longing for Yemen has little to do with the country itself (though it is a beautiful place) but rather focuses in on what it offered me. I remind myself that those offerings come from a single source, and it is to Him we must submit.

Peace is only a breath away, and I pray that it's a breath that finds its way to me before I breathe my last, insha'Allah wa ameen.

2 comments:

Mustafa said...

Assalam a'laikum Sister,

May Allah bless you, your family, all friends, and the entire muslim ummah....

May he lead us all to the right path..Ameen.

Your post about Yemen reminds me of the time i spent with Tableeq in Pakistan... one awesome experience and memories that i really cherish...

Allah bless us all.

Farzeen said...

Wa 'alaykum assalaam

Ameen to your du'as.

AlhamduliAllah.. it's good to hear that your spiritual endeavours are memorable and fruitful. Insha'Allah you'll continue to benefit from them in future.

"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]