Monthly Archives: April 2012

Painless Affliction

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I was reading back on some of my old posts this morning, and I saw this hadith again:

The believing man or woman continues to have affliction in person, property and children so that they may finally meet Allah, free from sin (Tirmidhi).

I was also reading some comments on a thread from another sister-writer, who often speaks about breaking attachments to anything except Allah. Finally, someone else saw what I had been seeing, that perhaps this sister is trying to work out her own emotions under the guise of trying to help others.

It made me think.

I think it’s safe to say most Muslims will agree that hadith is more true than any thoughts or philosophies we might be able to conjure up on our own.  If we understand things a certain way, what is revealed in Qu’ran and hadith trumps it and we should be reforming our thoughts to come in alignment with them.  We should not be trying to twist them to fit what we want to believe in our nafs.

So back to this hadith.  It is clearly staying that we, every believing man and woman, every Muslim (and perhaps even some non Muslims as Allah wills), is purposely being afflicted so we can enter the next life pure, clean, and worthy of Paradise.  So the next question is, what does it mean to be afflicted?

Most people would say the answer is obvious: being afflicted means going through something difficult or painful. Enduring a situation we would rather be free from….why? Because it’s uncomfortable.  Here is my key question: If someone, anyone, were to find a way to escape the pain and discomfort of affliction on a regular basis, would they truly then be afflicted? And, if they were not truly being afflicted because whatever they were going through is pain-free, then can we honestly say they are getting the full benefit of the cleansing and redemption offered through these trials?

It makes me think of a passage in the Bible attributed to Jesus, where he says something along the lines of “loving your friends is easy, but loving your enemies is tremendously hard. That’s why the blessing comes with the latter and not the former”.  Needless to say, what any of us find to be an affliction is going to vary. Some women find the pain of childbirth unbearable, and beg for an epidural as soon as they start laboring.  Other women do all they can to cope with the pain on their own, just so they can have the most natural and healthy experience of it possible.  Some people might be crushed when they are given the pink slip at work, while others find it only to be a minor inconvenience.  Some might find the loss of their cat crippling, while others simply go adopt a new pet.  Suffice it to say, no matter what I or you or anyone else thinks is an affliction or painful, we all have our set of things that brings out the aches in our hearts.  So while I might be only mildly agitated that my husband spends more time on the computer than with me, another wife might find it hard to not want to harm herself when her spouse does the same. Out of the two of us, who is being more afflicted? Who is being more forgiven when they try to have sabr for it?  I tend to think in that scenario, it’s probably not me.

So even if I have say, five things that cause me tremendous pain, and I go to all efforts to try to make those experiences pain free, then can I really admit that they are afflicting me?  And if I’ve found a way to not feel that affliction, then what is so difficult about that trial? Am I earning anything by it?

I think those who want to cut ties with every “attachment” because it could possibly cause hurt , are maybe blindly giving up the barakah that this hadith is referring to.  They may possibly be losing a chance of redemption, because they are trying to take all the ache out of affliction.   Rather, perhaps the most noble way to find the purity and mercy that will ensure our ease in the hereafter is to actually chase and immerse ourselves in situations that would afflict us: helping those who want to “use” us, giving to those who are “undeserving”, loving with all the risks of heartbreak and disappointment, attaching to those around us knowing full well that the attachment will cause the greatest pain.  After all, the greater the pain, the greater the mercy and redemption that accompanies it.

Life, the Encore to Dreams

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I’ve been in a strange place lately. Realities are converging upon me in ways I don’t understand, and it makes it feel like I’m living a dreamscape. I am moving beyond a freefall- I am floating in a mystical realm.

I’ve had dreams come true since I was in elementary school.  Granted, they don’t always come true exactly the way I dream them, but the overarching themes play out in essence. For that reason, I’ve always paid close attention to my dreams, trying to remember the more vivid ones, just in case they manifested themselves in such a way that I needed to take a lesson from them.

In more recent years, my dreams seem to have meaning for more than just me, the dreamer. I seem almost to have dreams on behalf of others. Couple those two facts with the fact that I am having a lot of vivid and even emotional dreams lately, I feel a little bit out of my element.

I tried to talk to my husband about this, and his response was that dreams were one portion of prophethood.  Already my dreams have supposedly indicated I have a special connection to Prophet Muhammad (saws), so this doesn’t seem to help me understand what I am to do with all the “information” that comes to me at night. I guess it wouldn’t be so bad, except that my more recent dreams have seemed to indicate warnings and big changes coming in my life that I must prepare for.

I guess the most disturbing part of it is the fact that some of it centers on my worst fears coming true….on having to end my marriage with Bashir and move on without him-against the choice of us both.  That being the case opens up the possibility of other dreams coming true; dreams that are connected but not in a direct sense.

I can’t help but go into a very serious and introspective mode when this is happening. I am trying to sort out the codes on these maps, and trying to determine when and how I must act. All the while, big things are being brought my way, and before I know it existence has become totally surreal.  I am at once building walls around threatening grief, while trying to corral tempting curiosity.  It takes all of my mental strength to ground myself and not get carried away with any of it, but just patiently wait and see what happens.

In the meantime, I am feeling like Allah is “hooking me up” in an esoteric way to others. I am almost shy to say it, but I am beginning to sense some of the life experiences that others are going through. Some of these people I’ve never met or spoken to in my life. Others I have never met, but talk to frequently. Others I’ve met, but seldom talk to.  It’s quite a mix, and sometimes I feel like I’m living their lives more than I am living my own.  I also feel in some ways like a sieve that Allah is pouring Himself through toward others, and I am catching what He means for them by proxy.  All of this is very strange, very humbling, but at the same time very inspiring and almost feels more natural than anything else I could possibly do.

I don’t want to try to interpret too much of what it all means, exactly. Suffice it to say that writing about it should help put some perspective on it once there is some sort of completion to the cycle.  In the mean time, I am at His mercy, will and service.

A Strange Confession

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I don’t know why I wanted to write about this, but it has been creeping around in my mind for several days so I guess I should go ahead and flesh it out.  Sometimes we run into situations or conversations that get us thinking about free will versus what’s destined. We will sit and mull over all of the implications, and never really come to an answer because in reality the concepts are beyond our ability to fully grasp.

The other day this issue came up, but with a twist.  I wondered: will those who are sent to punishment in Hell have free will?  Naturally, I expect that there will be some form of binding or immobility that will force those there to accept their punishments and leave them no way of trying to escape from it. Yet, there is a particular reason I’m wondering.

The truth is, I don’t really expect to get to paradise after this life. I hope for it of course, I don’t give up that I might find mercy and be given it (especially since my daughter who is there now will want me to be with her), but I know that I miss a lot of salat and that’s no minor thing. That’s very heavy, and even though I try to improve that area I realize that my efforts may still fall short and I will have to face the outlined consequence. Honestly, if that were to happen I would not feel badly because I know it would be deserved. If that were to be my judgment, I would accept it without protest.  In fact, sometimes I try to prepare myself for that very real possibility by thinking of strategies that could help me endure the awaiting pain and suffering.  Of course I would rather not undergo it, but if it’s inevitable I would at least want to try to handle it if I am at all able.

Of course, I can only compare it to the ways I try to manage pain in this life. I think about the times I have been in the worst suffering, and how I try to turn to Allah and find comfort in Him while I patiently wait for the pain to end. I wondered, can I do that in Hell? Can I try to make prostration and zikr while I am trying to wait out my punishment? I know I physically may not be able to, but will I have enough use of my mind to at least meditate on Him?

I am sure to most people this seems like a really bizarre question. Going to Hell is something no one wants so why would we think about anything that could happen there?  Better to focus on doing what we can not to get there and hope for the best, right?  I guess that’s where I’m just a little crazy.  To me, that would be the worst situation to be in of all creation, and to me it makes perfect sense to try to focus on Allah if that’s where I find myself. I just hope I will be able to do so if that were to be the case.

For me, the hereafter is a very strange thing. I know a lot of people think of Jannah and the ease and comforts and rewards we will find there, and it draws and inspires them to do all they can to attain it. I can’t say I’m not attracted to the idea of a realm with no strife or negativity, no more burdens and anything our hearts desire, but when I try to imagine it I see it like a wonderful thing for a while, and then afterwords I see myself getting bored with it. Astaghfirullah, I know that’s a horrible thing to say, and I know that what is really there is beyond how I’m conceiving it.  Yet, still human am I, and if given a choice of anything I could have in Jannah, I would have a world like this one here again. A world with temptations, pains, struggles, tests, challenges and even unpredictability, because in truth I am more in love with the striving than I am with the reward of succeeding.  Even though a lot of things hurt me and I wish for them to change to what I prefer, the fact is when things have gone the way I like for a period of time in actuality, I feel empty because there is less of a challenge, less of something to spur me to better myself. When I imagine that state being constant for eternity, I almost begin to believe I would be happier in Hell trying to make du’a against the extreme pain. I know that’s pretty backwards, but it’s the best way I can express it.

I don’t know where someone like me fits. Sometimes, this world seems perfect, like nothing could be better. Not because everything is here I would want or because things always go my way (they totally don’t), but because there’s something about trying to live in a world of chaos and suffering that makes me feel I am really becoming more of who I was meant to be.  Make me a perfect person forever in an instant, and it doesn’t seem quite so fulfilling.  However what’s funny is, for everyone else I want them to have Jannah. I want them to have no pain, all bliss, and for it to never end. I want this for them because this is what they want for themselves. I know how badly it all hurts, and I want them to find that ease.

I guess I’m just the crazy one, the one who would rather struggle than be relieved. I hope Allah doesn’t hold it against me.  I am really not sure what it says about me as a person or whether it means I’m “good” or “bad”, but I really feel like this life is beautifully intricate in its balance between fighting and conquering; in humiliation, abasement, triumph and achievement.