Monthly Archives: February 2012

Trenches of Protection

Standard

A friend of mine, who is also a fellow blogger, often comments on the following ayat: “And whoever is conscious of Allah, He will make for him a way out, And will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Allah has already set for everything a [decreed] extent.” (Quran 65:2-3) I never tire of the emphasis he puts on the part about Allah delivering us in ways we do not expect, but in recent months I would secretly wish that I myself would find this surprising rescue whenever I read his posts.  I was enamored with the beauty of the idea, but I felt that I was being excluded from the experience of it.

…Until last night. After writing yesterday’s post, I was dejected all day. Not in any corner of my mind did I anticipate that I would find relief from the variable emotions that have been besieging me in my current freefall.  I knew that one’s outlook is the key to all victories, but I just could not muster the inspiration to change my own.

When I came home from work last night, my husband and children were watching an animated movie detailing the life of Prophet Muhammad (saws).  I sat down with them to enjoy the movie, feeling some sense of comfort as I took in the beautiful accounts of Muhammad’s (saws) life.  I was nearly moved to tears several times, and I felt that the inspiration of his life is ever so timeless. It truly seems like I am hearing his story for the first time, every time it is recounted.

The film came to the part where the companions and citizens of Medina were fearing yet another battle with the Meccans, who had steadily increased the number in their army against the Muslims.  Indeed, these believers felt that all hope was lost as another attack was being planned to overtake their city.  The Muslims decided to dig a large trench around the city with the hope that the Meccans would not be able to cross it and enter the city gates. Fortunately, their strategy worked, and the Meccans were finally overcome when a dust storm ravaged their military encampments. Finally, the Meccans would surrender to the power given to Muhammad by Allah alone.

As I sat there, it was hard not to be reminded of the deep chasms that I wrote about in my last post. It was impossible not to compare the chasms that I felt we were surrounded by in the dark room with the trench around Medina. When I wrote yesterday about my fear while being in darkness and danger, the assumption I had been making was that the danger was in that room where we were.  I didn’t even stop to think that maybe we were safer in that room than out of it.

Seeing the reality from another angle, as inspired by the Medinian trench, I began to realize that perhaps those crevices are not fatal traps. Perhaps they were placed as protection to keep us in safety and to keep those that would harm us away from where we are.  Perhaps the darkness is not to frighten and confuse us, but to hide us in a protective covering.  Perhaps we are being hidden from our own enemies, much as the Prophet (saws) and Abu Bakr were when they hid in the dark cave as they fled from Mecca. Perhaps the darkness is really to confuse those enemies and blind them from where we safely are.  Perhaps those snakes are not a threat to us, but a threat to whomever would come and harm us. Those snakes, those chasms, and that darkness, they are helping us…not harming us.

Being able to see things from this perspective, such a contrast from the one I shared yesterday, was indeed a rescue from Allah from a direction I did not expect.  I began to see that I don’t have to spend my days desperately looking for a route of escape, because in truth we are in the safest of places. I don’t have to spend my time trying to plan a way to an exit, all the while feeling frustrated and futile.  I don’t have to fall asleep with anxiety about our circumstances, because we are in the best of circumstances. One day, at just the right time and when it’s perfectly safe for us, the lights in that dark room will  brazenly ignite and the exit route will be clear and easy to navigate. Instead of crawling in the darkness and vainly seeking freedom, we will be able to walk easily and swiftly to our release.  Liberation will be effortless and sure, instead of exhausting and uncertain.

Since this realization, I have been more at peace. I have had no compulsion to try to “figure out what to do” as I have been for so many weeks and months. What to do will be made perfectly clear, and the means to do it will be readily accessible. I know now that my only duty is to patiently wait and share joyous stories of hope with my husband. I will be grateful for the pits, the snakes, and the darkness, because I know now that they are keeping our greater enemy outside of these walls at bay.

The truth is, when that time comes, that moment of freedom, I still may be the only one who makes it there. There is still a chance my husband is given a different freedom than mine, and we may part at that time.  However, Allah unexpectedly rescued me from that concern as well, by sharing with me the words of a wise and well-spoken sister.  What she said is too long to recount or expound on at this moment, but feel free to explore it for yourself here: http://www.yasminmogahed.com/?p=17945.

Thank you Allah for showing me a way out of the prison of my mind, my circumstances, and my fears in a way I would have never expected.

In the Darkness

Standard

I haven’t spoken a lot about what my specific challenges are, the exact circumstances that cause me to feel overwhelmed and constantly weightless in freefall.  To some, it may seem that my journey through life is no different than any other’s.  I am not sure if I will ever be able to share the true story of my jihad in this venue, but I can certainly describe what the experience of it is like.

Life for me at this time is like being in a large, dark room. It began as though I woke up in a warehouse that is pitch black…so black absolutely nothing can be seen.  Of course I rise and start to try to get my bearings or assess where I am, and at the very least search out a way of escape so I can return home and back to normalcy. I realize as I am rising slowly from the ground and extending my arms to feel that this room, this space I am in is very large…perhaps as large as a football field or more. I realize then that I must take care to find my way to safety, because I do not know what obstacles may be in the way…nor do I know if an enemy is lurking about to consume me.

I kneel on the ground and start to crawl slowly in a direction that I believe is straight ahead. After a few feet I feel the ground end and a chasm opens up, a gape which I cannot feel the bottom of and perhaps is deep enough to end me if I should fall in it.  I pause and try to think of how I should redirect my course when I hear a scuffle. I stop suddenly and try to listen above the clamor of my rapidly beating heart, and try to discern the origin and nature of what I heard. I hear my husband softly whisper, “bibi…”, and I realize he is also in this room with me…somewhere far from me, and I am not sure if we can make it to each other.

From talking to him I learn he is also surrounded by rifts that he cannot pass.  He is confined to a patch of ground only a few feet in diameter.  I cannot locate his position from me based on his voice due to the echo of this vast room, but at least we can talk. That’s all we can do is talk, and try to find a way to reunite and escape.

When I say this place is pitch black I am not lying. There is not even the faintest hint of light to make out any shadows of our surroundings.  It is so black, that we both believe we are seeing other things in this place.  Are those things real? Did we really see them? Are there others here who are set to torment us until we die? One thing seems sure- wherever we are, no one seems to know and our hope of being rescued by an outside entity seems impossible. We must find a way to save ourselves.

My husband is restricted to his patch of safety.  I, on the other hand, spend each day moving slowly across the floor trying to map out a path to a wall, door, the outside…anything.  Groping in the dark is hard enough, but being careful not to fall off what could be a deadly precipice makes it even more frightening.  I realize for what could be the first time in my life, I am truly frightened and can’t help but worry the worst outcome awaits us.

Then, one day, a brief and dim light casts into our space. The light is so dim, in fact, that only I perceive it….it didn’t even stretch to where my husband was for him to have known about the illumination at all.  As such, it was not strong enough to reveal where he was in relation to where I am.  I am shocked and try to take a look around to see where I am, but the light fades as quickly as it came.   During the brief presence of that flicker of light, I am able to take note of a few things.  For one, this space is truly as vast as it seemed, and the cracks in the ground are indeed deadly and large.   However, I also note that off in the distance there are two possible escape routes, as I saw what seemed to be both a door and a window.  However, between these and myself there are countless fissures.  Finally, I noted that there were other objects in the room…but I could not discern what type of objects they were or if they could help us escape this place somehow.

I have shared all I thought I saw with my husband. I tell him that if we can make it to the “window” we might certainly escape to the outside.  However, I’m not totally sure that it actually was a window…it could’ve been a framed picture on a wall or something else entirely.  Another problem was, the “window” is small enough for me to escape through (assuming I can access it), but it may not accomodate my husband’s larger frame…if he can even get to it.

I sense that the door is closer and possibly more accessible to where my husband possibly is.  I believe that the door (if it even is a door, and not something like a refridgerator or cabinet) is big enough for him to get through, but the question lies in where it leads. What if the door opens to another large, dark room with dangerous obstacles like this one? What if that “door” doesn’t lead to the outside and freedom?

My husband and I talk about what I’ve seen. We talk about possible strategies and potential plans, all which rest upon details we cannot rest any certainty on. I believe we should both somehow make it to the door, so that whatever comes we can face it together. However, he tells me he wants me to find the quickest way out, no matter what that is.  He tells me that if I can more easily make it to the window and can escape, to do so even if it means leaving him behind with an uncertain fate.  He tells me he believes I will be able to come back with a rescue, and convinces me to agree to this.

The plan now is to wait for the next shadow of light to appear, to be ready and waiting for it so that I can guage what else is here where we are that might help us wake up from this seeming nightmare.  Every day I continue to slowly crawl around the ground, trying to configure a mental image of the mapping of this room. Besides what I’ve seen in the previous reveal, the only certainty I have each day is hard ground, jagged and deep pits, and neverending darkness. I begin to believe there may never be another ray of light, or even an escape. I begin to try to accept a reality of being stuck in this darkness, separate from my husband, until we both die.

One day I am keenly trying to sense my surroundings. Trying to use echo-location, as it were, to assess what can be done.  Suddenly, another faint light chases some of the thick black away.  It lasts no longer than the first episode, but because I was anticipating this on some level I was able to make better use of it.  I am still not able to discern whether the window is, in fact, a window. Yet, I can tell that there seemed to be things close enough to it that could be used to hoist myself up and out of it if it should be one.  What I don’t know is if I can meander a clear path to it, or if my efforts will be thwarted by the many chasms between it and myself.

This time the light originated from a seemingly different source, because it illuminated the room in such a way that my husband was able to see it. He was able to confirm that he was indeed blocked from moving on all sides, but on the other side of one of the gapes there were boards or something else that could possibly be used to bridge one of the holes and allow him access to other parts of the room. He tells me if I could find a way over there, perhaps I could help him in that regard and we could continue trying to find the rest of the way out together as a team. As he is telling me this, I note that he is indeed closer to the “door” exit.  What we both saw, however, was the most perilous: that my husband’s path to the door is blocked by what seems to be a sea of venemous snakes…snakes that did not appear to be blocking my acces to the same “door”.

I realize that my husband might risk his life to get to that “door”, only to find out it wasn’t a door at all or perhaps it leads to nowhere that helps us.  I see very clearly that for him to even attempt to get to that “door” is a chancey feat in itself. I can make it to the door, with time and patience, but I might make it there alone. I can try to make it to him, and help him out of the trap he is currently sitting in, but I then will face the same snakes as he.  Of course there’s always trying the “window” by myself, and leaving him here….none of these are attractive options.

As I spend each day trying to find out which course is going to be taken, which course will be the easiest to implement, I realize my health is starting to fail. I feel weaker physically from the state I’ve been kept in. I know I need my health to keep moving forward, but my mortality begins to stare me in the face.  I do not tell this to my husband, because I do not want him to despair. He tells me, “If you can make it to the window first, go there. And if you can make it to the door first, go there.  But if you can make it to me easier than either of those, come here.” I am not always sure which is easiest, as every day I have to reset my course to any of those destinations based on the cracks I encounter as I creep along the dusty ground.  On some days,  I thought I was within the reach of the window…then a crevice would cause me to inch along until  I found myself closer to the door.  Trying to approach it, I am again blocked by threat of being swallowed and backtrack until  I sense my husband is very near to where I am….and I begin to wonder if I can reach the planks that could bring him to me…until another obstacle prevents it.

So every day, it seems like I’m going in circles in darkness trying to find the route to escape for both me and my husband. Every day I am steeled by the hope that I made it closer to an exit, only to be dashed by the reality that it cannot yet be accessed.  Every night I fall into anxious sleep trying to accept the possibility that the end result of all this may very well be me being lost from my husband forever…because I was able to escape but my husband wasn’t.  I try to visualize what that would mean for me, living a life without him knowing I left him behind. I think that would be too traumatizing to recover from, so every morning I resolve to find some way, against the odds, to get BOTH of us out of there safely.  Some moments I believe it can be done, and some moments I know it won’t.  One thing is for certain, each day that I awake in this dark, cold room, I have less hope than I did the day before.

Falling….or Flying?

Standard

I named this blog “peace in the freefall” because I face a lot of challenges in life. I would even say I face more challenges than the average person, and part of that is because of the choices I have made and continue to make.  Sometimes it’s just because of circumstances out of my control.  Most of the time, I experience these tests as falls off a cliff.  There have been instances where I actually am brave enough to face the challenge and “jump off” the cliff willingly, believing in doing so that I am submitting myself to Allah’s will for me at that moment and in that situation. Most of the time however, it feels more like I’ve been pushed off the cliff’s edge by the hands of Divine Decree, and the only choice I have is my response while falling until I land.

Sometimes, before I am removed from land (so to speak), it’s the idea of falling that is the most frightening.  Of course, it feels very similar to falling without a parachute or net to catch me.  I sometimes worry that the falling part will be too long, or that it will be too short and I will hit the ground hard before I’ve had the chance to adjust to the change in my reality.  Then, there’s always that part to worry about- the landing.  I’ve often feared it to be one that’s hard, painful, and difficult to recover from. Another reason I’m writing this blog is to remind myself that so far, none of my landings have been as hard as I feard.  In actuality, all of the worst things I’ve gone through have had tidy and complete resolutions or restorations.  I would compare them to landings where I am captured by a pool of water, or even landing on my own feet as though the fall were a mere jump! Forgetting how Allah has resolved my past troubles, is what often keeps me from feeling peace when I am facing new ones.

Last night I had a dream that I went hang-gliding. In real life, I’ve never done this; nor have I had the interest (or aversion) to.  In my dream, I remember being on a high cliff with my glider.  I remember that it was my choice to go ahead and jump off, or to walk back down the slope and let the adventure go.  I remember feeling that I needed to do it, that I wanted to do it so I could learn to be more at peace with being “out of control” and learning how what I do have control over in a situation like that can help drive its outcome.  I remember walking to the edge of that cliff several times and looking over it, worrying about things like, “what if the glider doesn’t catch air and I go straight in a nosedive and crash at the bottom? What if I can’t steer it away from the other walls of the canyon and I crash into one? What if I have to pee while I’m in the air?” (Yes, I actually wondered that, funny how I would’ve never worried about that if I had been truly awake!) Yet, while I was debating all those fears, I was also curious about what it would be like to fly, to be weightless and careless and experiencing something I never would unless I did this.

I decided to take the chance.  I ran down the slope toward the edge of the cliff and jumped off. I remember feeling a sick feeling when I jumped, a feeling of imminent peril, that was immediately erased by the reality that it was “too late now” once my feet left the ground.  That fear, the fear that had been swelling in me for moments before I acted, was now replaced by the reality of being in the air andd having to pay attention to what would actually happen next.  Indeed, one of my fears started to come true- I started to nosedive. Yet, I realized it was still a long way down, so I thought I had time to reverse the course. I jostled around until I felt air lift under the glider and it’s flight go from vertical to horizontal. I felt more than relieved….and I realized then even though I was scared and my worst fear might have come true, I was able to influence the situation so that it did not get any worse…and in fact became better.

Once my fears melted and I felt safe in the air, I could really take in the experience. It was not a frightening experience, it was actually very liberating and empowering.  I felt that I had faced the worst and found a way to make peace with it and even find benefit in it.  As I began to land near an ocean beach,  I realized immediately that the new problem of landing would need to be worked out. I didn’t want to have a hard landing, but I was feeling more and more that the previous fears I had were never necessary. I thought about how everything I needed to take off and fly was with me, and so everything I would need to land was also available to me. With this confidence I made it to the ground and then went back to the sales office and threw away my receipt for the glider rental and the sunglasses I purchased. I felt that I had learned how to do something I’ve never done before, and it made me feel like I could do it with anything that came my way.

Waking from this dream I realize how much it teaches me about the freefalls I find myself in with every new test and trial.  I see now that I am not freefalling without any protection, as though each fall were a haphazard accident.  I realize that I am not falling, but flying.  Sure, I may be off the cliff, off the ground.  I am in the air, and gravity is pulling me.  I will be back on the ground again.  Instead of it being a chaotic spin to the final resolution, I am actually given the chance to soar, to master the winds that I am thrown into and to enjoy the sensation of being at the mercy of something greater than me.  I am given by Allah everything I need to fly, to see things in a new way, and to land gracefully.  What I thought there was to fear, was really nothing to fear at all.  It was a blessed opportunity to be taken to a level beyond normal human experience.

Because of this dream,  I will be looking at my circumstances much differently.  I will be approaching the freefall with more courage.  I will remember that I have done this all before and made it down safely, in dreams and real life.  And it will be true.