Tag Archives: peace

Allah is The Answer

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My middle son misses me. He called at all hours of the morning (the time difference did not help), crying and crying. I felt so helpless, being so far away, but I completely understood what it feels like for him. The best I could do was stay with him on the phone until he was able to calm down and put his mind on other things.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from today. It was important for me to find my mom’s old house, and the apprehension in what may lie ahead kept me from getting restful sleep. When it became apparent at 9 AM that there was not going to be any more opportunities for me to go back to bed before I had to check out, I went ahead and gritted my teeth and got ready for the day. I mapped out the street she lived on, then went to the nearby garage and retrieved my car. I drove from Hyde to Mission to 24th, and found a side street to park on.

Just as I remembered, Lilac St was nothing more than an alley. I wasn’t sure if I would remember her door by seeing it, but I was going to give it my best shot. I slowly walked toward the alley, uncertain if it was a good neighborhood or not. There were a lot of trendy places on Mission just around the corner, but alleys always seem kind of scary. I proceeded cautiously, and was relieved to see there weren’t many people around. Some guys were just taking a smoke break from the back door of the restaurants that lined the alley, and others were residents unloading things from their storage spaces.

The alley itself was colorfully painted with one graffiti mural after another. One one telephone pole were three faces of middle eastern looking men, and on the next were three women in hijab. Most of the alley was lined with sliding doors that led to either garages or storage areas. There were not many entry doors, and as I looked at each one I could not hone in on which might have been hers. What was clear was that this seemed to be an area where artists congregated, and that explained why she -with painting being a consuming passion of hers- would’ve chosen to live there.

I walked the entire length of the way searching for the impossible. I recalled that my brother had told me once that the building itself used to be a train station that was converted into living units, but none of the structures appeared to fit that description. When I reached the other end of the alley, I felt disappointed and lost. I turned back around, hoping that the alternate view might trigger a flash of memory to help me find what I was looking for, but that didn’t happen.

I returned to my car feeling defeated. This was something I felt I needed to do, and I couldn’t even do it. I sat in the driver’s seat and began weeping profusely. Something so simple, yet so elusive, can hurt so deeply.

“It’s only natural to want to have a mother in my life…”
Yes, it is.

“I didn’t deserve what happened…”
No, you didn’t.

“I didn’t do anything wrong!”
You couldn’t have.

The tears wouldn’t stop. The confusion burrowed deeper. The pain painted pictures before my eyes, and I hated it for being the very thing that was chaining me to the unhealthy habits I am struggling to break even now.

“Ya Allah, please show me how this loneliness, this constant loneliness that’s been a part of my life since birth, is really the best thing for me!”

I sat, trying to figure out a way forward. A way to heal and find peace from these deep scars. I kept thinking that finding my future was the answer, but the future is uncertain…..except for one thing: Islam.

Islam would be my way forward. Islam will help me find myself, and find my peace. It already has in so many ways, but the more I focus on it the more Allah will meet me where I need.

And so that’s where I wanted to go from that place, that empty alley which had no answers or comfort. I sent a message to a friend trying to find the way to the Muslims in San Francisco. While awaiting the response, I tried to find the information myself via Zabiha.com and Google. Both were inconclusive, so I was glad to get a reply with a general direction to move toward.

As it turned out, I ended up scouring the area I was pointed to block by block. I didn’t see any cluster of shops with signs in Arabic to indicate what I was looking for, so I thought I would just make due with popping into the nearby masjid to make dhuhr and from there go on my merry way. However, there was some type of event going on in that area, so the streets were being blocked off one by one. I couldn’t find a place to park by the masjid; in fact just getting out of the area and back toward the interstate was nearly impossible due to gridlock traffic and took almost an hour.

In the end, I drove to nearby Fremont to attend a zikr which was scheduled for this evening. I originally had planned not to go, but I felt like I needed something like that right now. I got into town and mapped the venue, which was located at a park. I decided to make my dhuhr there, and kill the time by eating a late lunch at a local halal restaurant. After that, I drove to the closest masjid and made asr, then returned to the park center for the night’s activities.

I am so glad I went. Being able to only focus on Allah and my iman was just what I needed, and it changed my state completely. Masha’Allah, they even served us a free dinner. The nasheeds lifted my spirits and I felt lighter than air after it was over. As I walked back out to my car, I looked up to see the wispy clouds sifting past a brilliantly shining full moon, beautifully set in the starry, cobalt sky. Alhamdulillah!

I located an affordable room for the night in town, which is where I am staying tonight. I like Fremont; it reminds me of the San Gabriel Valley where I spent half my childhood. In shaa Allah I will begin wending my way down the coast toward Southern California tomorrow. My trip will be coming to an end soon, so I hope I can make the most of these last opportunities toward self-discovery as I continue exploring the land I love.

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Mawlid An-Nabi

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Today is reportedly the day that Prophet Muhammad SAWS was born, a momentous day indeed. Today is also momentous for me, as it marks my 10th anniversary of taking shahadah and becoming Muslim (if I were counting by the hijri calendar; the Gregorian anniversary for that will be on May 13). I realize that there is a division amongst Muslims about the conventions of “celebrating” this day. In fact, I found out about it first hand when I naively wished a group of my close friends “Happy Mawlid” last year. Until then, I assumed every Muslim recognized the occasion, as that was the only thing I had see from Muslims until that point.

While I understand that many groups and cultures have taken celebrating Mawlid to the extreme, and have made a dunya mockery of what should be more reflective occasion, I also feel that those who believe that celebrating Mawlid is a biddah have also run to their own extreme. They seem to want to ignore that today WAS actually the day our human example an the most perfect of men came into this existence, as though it were a shameful thing. They want to treat it like any other day, astaghfirulllah. While I agree that every day should be one of zikr and following the sunnah, I don’t understand what purpose it serves anyone to try to turn their minds and hearts away from the fact that today was one of the most magnificent and significant days of all time.

For me, today will be a day of meditating upon the unbelievable, life-changing events that transpired years ago on this same date. Not only will I give my thanks to Allah for bringing us the complete and perfect guidance that came through Prophet Muhammad SAWS, but I will be thinking about the way my life has been forever changed by confessing that he is in fact the Messenger of the only true God- Allah a decade ago. I tear up, even sitting here in the gate lobby as I await my flight, when I even briefly think of the beauty and peace Islam has brought -and continues to bring- into my life.

There could be nothing more fitting than beginning this next decade of my “real” life with a time of soul-searching and refuge in my home-state. Everything I’ve suffered truly has aligned to create a greater and more splendid purpose for my life, and who I was meant to become is yet closer still….and she’s so beautiful, inside.

That’s the true gift of Mawlid An-Nabi, may Allah be praised.

It’s Almost Over

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….My iddah, that is. As an aside, it hasn’t really stopped raining since my last post. When I leave work it’s only sprinkling, and then I think it is starting to let up. Then, as I’m about to fall asleep, I’ll hear it start pouring again. Anyway, back to my iddah coming to a close. It really is going to be over any day now! If I’m strictly counting average cycle days, then it will probably be over tomorrow. However, my cycle hasn’t been known for being predictable the past few years, so if I end up having to default to counting a complete three months by calendar- then next Tuesday is the very latest I’ll still be in this very gray-shaded state.

When my iddah began, I wasn’t sure what it would be like when I reached this point. I think I understandably expected to feel sadness, or some type of regret or sense of loss. In fact, I’m actually feeling rather peaceful and somewhat empowered. While there are -I’m sure- many wisdoms behind the iddah period, the insight I am coming away with is that (for me) it was a period of awkward emotional maneuvers that served to help me bring closure to the relationship so I can move forward now with more purpose and less baggage hindering me.

I really disliked the iddah. I am just being honest. It was the most frustratingly nebulous relationship status I have ever been in. Here I was, still married, but trying to figure out where the boundaries were since they weren’t readily defined (surprisingly, since most everything else in Islam is). All I knew was there was to be no physical intimacy (unless we were reuniting) and we had to live separately (which we had already been doing for like, ever). Outside of those, there were really no other “rules” about how to interact or behave with one another. I was constantly frustrated trying to figure out what was appropriate friendliness without giving the misleading idea that I wanted to reunite. He wasn’t yet a non-mahram, so I didn’t have a proper excuse to be curt and distant. Yet, if I seemed too aloof, this also seemed unreasonable.

On top of all that, I struggled with my feelings. All the good memories wooing me back to wanting to try again, and all the deplorable events that reminded me why I made this choice. For at least the first half of the iddah, I felt that I was at the mercy of these ruthless cycles. By the time my iddah was 2/3 over, I believe the balance was beginning to return. I’ve spent these past final weeks shifting my focus to my new life, and surprisingly I don’t have that feeling of “unfinished business” inside anymore. I feel at peace, and I feel I can move forward without being haunted by “what if?”

Sometimes I think about what I might miss most about being married. The first thing that comes to mind is just being able to get a hug whenever I need it, or having someone to talk to when I am bothered about something. I think I will miss having the companionship- someone to share life’s strange events with and develop inside jokes with. But I did have that, and what I had can never be taken away. I don’t know what my future holds, but right now my number one goal is finding Allah’s rahmah for me. That rahmah that will suffice me whether I walk the rest of this earthly journey alone, or whether Allah sees fit to someday pair me with someone to share a truly symbiotic marriage with. If I can find His rahmah, then I can find myself and cultivate that self into one who is more pleasing to Allah. That is truly what I was created for.

As always, I ask Allah to help me in this. Amin.

Grounding Moments

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This evening I slowed down enough to savor the subtle moments that will define the steps along this course. My oldest son’s friend and basketball teammate had come over to spend the night, and I was making home-made lasagna with the best store-bought garlic bread.

The steam from the boiling noodles began to film the kitchen windows, and I smiled at how nice it is to actually have a kitchen window. How nice is to know that no one will be drawing the shades on my windows at 2 AM, keeping the dawn sunlight from flooding these expansive rooms.

As I gently folded the garlic, parmesan cheese and egg into the mass of ricotta I realized that these simple things, the collection of these peaceful moments are what will stay me from endlessly swinging back from my sorrowful past and forth to my terrifyingly unknown future.

I slowly lined the casserole dish with a layer of pasta, and carefully spread the ricotta blend over it in a thick layer. I listened to the boys watching Percy Jackson and the Olympians downstairs as I sprinkled the mozzarella shreds slowly and evenly over the sauce. I noticed how calm everyone seemed, how content. Tonight we don’t have to worry about someone being called a douchebag, or a retard, or an idiot, simply because they turned the TV up too loud.

…and it was a bit too loud. So I left the unfinished dish on the counter under the too-watchful eyes of Nya the cat. I padded to the balcony overlooking the den in my worn, black kufs and simply said, “That’s up a little too high. Turn it back down to 35 and keep it no higher than that.” The fading symphonic strains from the movie evidenced their compliance, and I wondered how anyone could think parenting needed to be more severe than that.

Dinner had been cooked, and laundry was being changed. When I finally took my plate to the dining room to join the boys I saw my oldest son had already cleared his first helping. His younger brother offered the piece of garlic bread he was too full to eat for Jed’s second serving as our guest told me he had never had lasagna before; that his mother only made spaghetti. I felt sad inside for him, but grateful that he was able to at least try it once here, in my serene home.

This is the Peace

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My last couple of posts were borne out of my pain, so they were not very hopeful or positive.  Most of last week I continued in despair until everything changed (again, lol).  At a point, I felt like the fall had stopped, but I was not yet on the ground…or at least not at a place where there was a final outcome.

And I think that’s what I may have been mixing up. I thought that resolution and peace came with a final outcome, whatever that was.  I came to a resolution, I found peace, but nothing circumstantially has changed. How did it happen?

One morning I was driving to work, listening to my playlist of Maher Zain songs.  “Paradise” came on, and as I listed to the lyrics I realized that everything I’m going through in this life, both the things that I hate to endure and the things I seek to cherish, are not the main point. Nothing in this life is the focus, but everything in the next life is.  I began to think about it, and it became clear that everything I’m wanting right now: to be with my husband without any constraints, to have a home we can all share without worries, to raise a daughter….all of those can be found in the hereafter. Paradise is the only place I can build a dream that will last, that will not be taken away.  Paradise is where I can be united with my daughter, and be forever with her and my husband (insha’Allah) in a home that will never be anything but ours for eternity. Paradise is where I need to invest my time and energy, not into the shaky and unreliable events in this dunya.

I felt hope again. I felt motivated to keep trying, and to keep my focus on what really matters. I renewed my commitment to maintain and increase my ibadah. I decided to look at things here as only a temporary setback to the final, neverending goal. That’s what we were created for, after all. We are eternal beings, for an eternal realm.  We were never made for any of this stuff here on planet earth, except to be tested so that we can return to a realm more glorious than this one can ever be.

Things aren’t always easy, because there is still pain in being parted from someone I love.  There is still a need for me to try everything I can to keep my family as I know it together, and I have a plan I’m following toward that end.  If the plan works, alhamdullilah. If it doesn’t, there’s always the next life.  If I can keep my priorities in order, I am destined to find what I yearn for one way or the other insha’Allah.

This peace is a sustenance whether I am falling or not. It’s not a solution to the problem, but a partner in the experience.  It is what is holding my hand as I fall, as I land, as I rise and start walking again on the ground. It will be there no matter what happens, if I don’t forget it….even if I have to fall again someday.