Tag Archives: provision

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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Siren on the Bay

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Tonight I write from a cozy room with high ceilings, a wrought iron bed, and a window view to some type of rooftop garden with skylights in its center. There is a rock band practicing in some other part of the building, and their rifts are faintly audible in the silence of this space. When I arrived here, an aged wannabe rocker who may or may not have been past his prime popped in the office and greeted the desk clerk while I was checking in. I believe he lives here.

After lugging my suitcase up the winding flight of stairs to my room and delightedly finding two Hershey kisses on my pillows, I unloaded the bulk of what I had brought with me and left again with only what I needed. I walked around the block to a halal Mediterranean restaurant I spotted when I initially drove into the neighborhood, and was seated at the table that sister Salma was setting when I entered. She took my order and offered me some complimentary tea, which I graciously accepted.

The afternoon sun angled through the broad windows as I surveyed the establishment. I felt at peace being in there, and that feeling gave me a reassurance that I can do this after all…this “new life alone” thing. I sipped the tea while texting my friend about all the important things running through my heart and mind, until the best shish tawook I’ve ever had was served. I took my time eating it while I thought about how I was going to spend the next couple of days. Salma asked me where I was from and confirmed that I was a convert. She asked my name, and as I am accustomed to doing with other Muslims I told her “Jamylah”. She said, “no, what’s your other name?” I couldn’t believe it, this was the first time I had been asked for my legal name by another Muslim. So I beamingly told her “Amy”, to which she replied, “that’s a very nice name!” I was so tickled by this.

After my meal, I rounded the corner with my bag of leftovers and started up Hyde (or would it be down?) for dessert. I have always been fond of walking and I wanted to get a taste of what I might be in for with being on foot as I complete my mission here. Surprisingly, going up hills were easier than descents for me given that I was foolishly wearing heeled boots. I had stopped at a shoe store earlier this morning but couldn’t find anything I could comfortably wear with my kufs, so I decided to see if I might be able to handle it after all. Let’s just say I need to scout out a shoe store as soon as I can.

As I walked while listening to Maher Zain songs, I felt the ease in how everyone was minding their own business. No one cared where I was walking or why, or why my scarf was tangerine orange, or why I smiled at them. Instead, they smiled back and continued on in their own affairs. How so very different is this city from Atlanta, and it gave me hope that some of the weariness I’ve taken on from living there for so many years might be eased here some day soon, in shaa Allah.

I entered the small and unassuming ice cream shop mentioned by a friend, not knowing what to expect. I quickly scanned their menu and decided to get a hot fudge sundae with mocha fudge ice cream. While it was being made, I popped across the street to get cash out of the corner market’s ATM machine (note to self: there may be a lot of places around here that only take cash besides Swensen’s) and felt a sense of deja vu as I noted the way the canned goods were aligned on the shelves while walking out the door. I went back to retrieve my prize, and began walking back down (up?) Hyde toward my hotel to sit on the random red bench I had past earlier and so enjoy the treat.

When others tell me that a certain place has good sweets, I tend to be pretty skeptical. I’m a fiend for all things saccharine, so it takes a lot to impress me into saying that something is the “best”. Yet I tell you the truth, when I took my first bite of that unbelievable creation, I was utterly flabbergasted. I never had ice cream with such a rich and balanced flavor since Godiva sold pints. I really believe this franchise needs to make a comeback and give places like Cold Stone Creamery a serious run for their money.

That being the case, I deliberately took my time savoring each bite. I sat on the bench alone, listening to the electrified hum of the cable car rails and watching passer-bys with their freshly groomed puppies while ruing the fact that this will be the only time I will be able to enjoy such phenomenal ice cream until further notice. As the sun began to set I started to feel a bit vulnerable, realizing that I was entirely alone in a profoundly large city where I knew absolutely no one. I recognized I was taking a risk to stay out past maghrib (which was not yet quite in), and made dua that Allah keep me safe during my time here. I made sure I kept my eyes on everything and stayed aware of my surroundings while I reluctantly finished the syrupy remains of what I would call a perfect sundae. I then arose and continued down the hill to Bush St.

As I purposefully strode through each crosswalk, I glanced at the others coming and going by me. I understand now why so many creative types come here: because the people alone, with their unique stories and personalities (whether real or imagined) are enough to inspire countless works. Even I started having ideas of what to write about if I ever were to try my hand at fiction, which was something I had not anticipated at all prior to my arrival.

I then began to think about how my mother used to live here, and contemplated what drew her to this city. I tried to picture what my life might have been like if I had been with her, and grew up here. What kind of person might I have been? For better? For worse? Better yet, what kind of person will I become if I manage to get myself settled here, in shaa Allah? That might be a question I will someday actually answer, if Allah wills it.

I swiped my keycard on the front door of the hotel to gain entry just as the maghrib adhan was playing through my headphones. Once back in my room, I quickly changed into my comfortable pajamas and put my leftovers in the fridge. My sons are in bed, and for the time being I get to spend my evening puttering online and reading while the mysterious band continues their grooving.

I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings, because so far in this short afternoon I have been baptized into something richly exotic, vaguely familiar, and altogether entrancing!

Electric Metamorphosis

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It’s as though I’ve been loosed.

 

Having a laptop of my own, finally, after…let’s see…oh, about 6 years- what a difference it truly makes! I feel free to be myself, to write as needed. And this is what my new year is all about: getting back to who I am. It doesn’t matter that my new year (or shall I say, my new life?) won’t begin for a couple more weeks yet, I know I am emerging from my chrysalis into something much more dynamic than I’ve felt in some time.

 

My essence has been lost for far too long. I’ve been focused on so many other things…other people…I’ve managed to lose myself in the shuffle. When I went back for the retrieval it seemed nothing was there- just a void of blank pages. I always understood that my “self” was this entity I had to go about discovering, as though it were a separate being unto itself.  I think, perhaps, my self is something to be created with the raw materials I already possess, things I already know about myself but never shaped into form. Things like:

 

The way I feel when I sing or dance

My attraction to bright colors or flashy patterns

The way I can make awesome guacamole with no recipe or measurements

My never-ending seeking for something beyond the seen

My refusal to give up, even if I swim in a river of emotional tar for weeks

The reckless dedication with which I approach pretty much anything

My love for California

and not least of all, my words.

 

My starting point is this: I am a writer. Not because I write better than everyone else. Not because my writing never has mistakes, or is read by millions. I am not a writer because I have aspirations to be published or because I’ve written anything besides reflections and poetry.

 

I am a writer, simply because I need to write. Ever since I was given my first diary in second grade, I can’t escape the itch. My biggest regret is that several of my childhood journals got lost in the USPS when I tried to ship them to myself from California in 1998. I have still in my closet a bin of journals that still remain, scraps of musings I jotted on college assignments, and anything else that forced my pen to paper.  I don’t know what I plan on doing with them some day, but I feel like that box contains my essence. It is a recorded journey of everything which has led me to my present moment…all lessons to learn again and jokes to laugh at once more.

 

All these years, and I haven’t been able to stop.  It wells in me, like any passion, until I release it.  It doesn’t matter anymore if anyone hears. This is being true to myself. I am going to let this well flow as it needs to, and follow its streams until I become all of me.

 

“….your Lord is the Most Generous,  Who taught by the Pen,  taught man that which he knew not….”

 

It WILL be an amazing year, in shaa Allah!

 

 

 

The Replacements

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It is said that Allah does not take anything from a person except to replace it with better.  I can say, with every fiber of my being, that my present life shows this reality.  This week has made manifest a qadr I’ve hoped for, and I am humbled that Allah saw fit to bring it to fruition in my life.

 

On Monday we closed on the house.  Yes, it was anticipated, but there is something about actually walking away with the physical confirmation of what one has worked hard for. Imagine what Paradise will be, when such exhilaration comes in this life! I have to admit, one of the more challenging things about having the house is the deep longing in my heart to share it with my soon to be ex-husband. I can’t erase the fact that the main reason I toiled for this very thing was for his sake, and now it is being with-held from him. Allah knows best.  I have been struggling with a sentimental sadness and longing to “fix it” by taking him back into my life, but unfortunately the character he’s been showing these last few days indicate he still is not going in the direction I need my husband to go in…or the direction I’m trying to go in myself.  Fortunately, today I am feeling less emptiness about this and more focused on the purposes Allah has to help me further develop my sincerity and taqwa.

 

I have been thinking about all of the places I’ve lived since I moved out from my grandparent’s home; and surely this is the best place so far. I love the house, the floorplan, the windows, the feel.  I can only hope in shaa Allah that a good man may share it with me someday…whether he is a transformed version of B, or someone I’ve not yet met, or even perhaps a friend who becomes more than a friend.  Allah knows best what I need, even if it means having the rest of my life to contemplate my duties to Him. He is to be praised because He shorts me nothing. Ever.

 

My little one is doing well. He completed his day treatment and will be returning to school tomorrow. He also is excited about the new changes with the house and all, so I hope it can boost him to where he is not overwhelmed with the pain of what is being lost.  I will do my best to continue to help him in shaa Allah.

 

I have a new car as well, masha’Allah.  I went on Friday and bought my 2013 Dodge Challenger.  It is like my own little piece of California for as long as I stay here in Georgia.  I intend to take the best care of it so it in shaa Allah will last me for decades to come. I have never financed a car before, and up until now I have been adamantly against such things and would rather save a few grand and buy something older and used. However, I know that I’ve made a lot of sacrifices for others. There have not been a lot of “things” I’ve wanted in life, but that Challenger always had my eye. I wanted to do something nice for myself so that I could experience the reality that I am just as valuable as anyone else. I wanted to buy a car and never have to worry about buying one again for the rest of my life, because it will remain in shaa Allah in good condition and it is what I have truly wanted. Every time I drive it I try to make a point to be thankful to Allah for giving me the opportunity to make such a dream come true and helping me to do so, and remind myself of the value I have no matter what others think or what I’ve experienced to prove otherwise.

 

And masha’Allah, excess money with each check. Even with the new car and house,  I will be having more surplus from my pay than I’ve ever had before. What a queer feeling to know that I  could buy drapes, plane tickets, clothes, or any other ‘stuff’ whenever I want. It doesn’t even seem real, but the truth is I am not really interested in doing any of that. Sure I will probably buy a few curtains for the house simply because there are more windows than curtains I currently own; and a few other decorative things, but after that I would probably just give in charity, save, and pay down any debt I have.  The only point (in my view) in having nice things is to remember Allah by them.  Surely I remember many times I got something nice or pretty and just was so grateful to Allah for beautiful things to enjoy as long as He allows, always reminded that nothing comes except by His leave.

 

I guess for me it’s easy to see that even though all these things are very nice and enjoyable, they are just transient. Anything can be lost at any time, and I certainly know what being on that side of the fence is like. I remember a time when I was starving and pregnant with my youngest son. We had no money and were literally living off the cans of salmon given to us by a local food pantry.  All I wanted was a tomato to add to it, and I remember how frantically we tried looking for enough change to buy just one.  In those days,  I don’t even know how the bills got paid since I wasn’t working and not getting child support, and it seemed my husband couldn’t keep a job.  Masha’Allah, Allah brought me through that and so many other trials. He brought me here, and He can take me anywhere He likes. My only goal in life is to become who He meant me to be regardless of where He takes me, either good or bad, in this life.

 

I can’t help but feel, though, that seeing what He is giving me now…anything else I’m losing or giving up will have a better replacement as well in shaa Allah. I think the hardest thing has been the ending of my marriage, but I really do trust Allah will either satisfy me with being alone in this life, or He will bring me a suitable partner who is better than the one I am losing. It’s as He likes, and I’m merely grateful for anything He chooses.

 

I am going to spend the next few weeks transitioning everything from this apartment to the house in shaa Allah. In addition to that, my plan is to eat healthier and try to become a little more active so I can begin in shaa Allah to lose some weight. I am hoping that when I take my vacation after MLK day I will be in a healthier condition, and also have some habits I can continue until I am a little trimmer and eating as I should for my diabetes.

Rainbow Rider

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The wait continues, but fortunately the progress is encouraging. After 10 days of making our first bid, and viewing a new listing that opened up right down the road from our local elementary school and making an offer on it,  we received counteroffers on both.  I rejected the latter, because my heart was really set on the first place I detailed in my last entry.  It was more realistic for my family’s needs; not to mention my husband had just purchased a giant national flag for Saudi Arabia that he needed a garage to hang it in.  The second place didn’t have a garage.

 

So the counteroffer was workable, and this put me on a giant high. Boy, highs are nice!  But it faded as the days wore on and we are still waiting for the signed contract to come back from the seller.  The good news is, we’ve gotten a verbal indication from the listing agent that we are in priority with the bank which is selling it, but they are taking so much time to get the papers back to us that we are losing precious time for things like inspections and appraisals.  The closing date is fixed for November 19, and if we don’t make it I have to toss a bean over for each day we go past. Oh, and it still has to pass inspection too etc.

 

I have been passing the time thinking about the new car my husband has insisted I get once we move and get settled.  At the beginning of the year, we started out as a two car family with a minivan and a sedan, both 12 years old.  The van was stolen in February, so we have all been sardined into the remaining Hyundai.  This is a joke when you have three growing boys, and two growing adults due to lack of self control when chocolate is around.  We knew we would get the van replaced at our earliest opportunity, so after we move the first “to do” item is to put together about 5K to do just that. My husband, however, decided that because “I’ve gone through so much, and I deserve it” I should go ahead and get my dream car as well. What is my dream car, you say?  It’s a new Dodge Challenger with a chameleon paint job and a vanity tag that reads “BBZNBBZ” (short for bibi’s and bibi’s, a nickname my husband gave me when I was pregnant that he still calls me when excited about something).  Granted, the chameleon paint job might not be slapped on her right away (because those things ain’t cheap!), but I WILL get one. I’ve wanted to be a rainbow rider ever since my college days….not because it’s cool but because I’ve always loved hologram stuff.

 

Honestly, I never thought I would get my dream car. If I thought it were remotely possible, it was imagined to happen after my kids are grown and out of the house and when I have (somehow) all kinds of money to throw around.  Turns out, the cars really aren’t that pricey at the base model, plus I get a discount through my employer. I can feel less guilty about it because of that. Yet, my husband is right…I shouldn’t feel guilty to have something nice, because for years all I’ve done is use income that per shariah should have only been used to do whatever I wanted as a support for my family instead. I’ve been giving to them, so giving to myself shouldn’t make me feel bad.  It’s really nice to have the support of your husband when things like this come up, though.

 

In fact, he’s been giving me a lot of support. I think the adaptation to this new reality of the nightmare finally being over for us has helped us both lower our defenses.  Between him detailing how he is going to convert our future garage into a giant prayer/entertainment room and browsing yahoo for minivans, he has been staying up late nights with me holding me while I cry over wounds that may never fully heal from my childhood past.  He is happy to see my eyes light up when I tell him how fun driving my Challenger will be. He has been watching girl movies with me, buying me avocados as a surprise, and tells me the rest of his life is devoted to helping me experience how special I am.  To helping me realize my value when others who should’ve done that didn’t.

 

I just have to say. There have been plenty of times my husband has been a total ass.  There have been as many times I deliberated with the fact that I could have found, and can probably still find (if I happened to be in the position to do so) someone who is not such an ass.  Yet, I think the more lovely thing still is to have someone who has been an ass find their fitra and walk in it.  This is what I saw in him from the beginning, what I have always seen in him. This is what I have enjoyed 70% of the time, ruing on the 30% of assiness that sabotaged it. I think the most fulfilling thing for me, beyond buying a house and getting a badical car, is having been able to see my husband become who he was always meant to be.  There’s nothing like being able to be a part of his life for the past nearly 10 years and see the transformation, and see big growth spurts like the one I’m witnessing now.  This is how I believe I know we were made for each other, because the more we reach our potential, the more we fulfill the needs in the other that only we can. Instead of marriage being a ourabora of destruction, it becomes a spiral of healing.

A Miracle Will Break the Fall

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This past week was an amazing one for me. It was a week where I felt cradled by the divine love of Allah; where I felt Him reaching out to me when I felt helpless and unsure of what would happen.

It all started Sunday night.  I was taking my husband and our son back to his motel room where he lives away from us through the week.  En route, the battery and brake lights came on.  This was the first time it had ever happened in the 6 years I’ve owned the car, and neither my husband nor I knew what it meant.  The car was driving normally and we didn’t smell anything funny, nor was it overheating. We continued to his motel.

After dropping them off I started back home. On the way, the battery and brake lights stopped illuminating. I thought maybe it was just a fluke, as the drive back home was uneventful.

However, on the way to work Monday morning, the battery and brake lights came back on.  I figured it was something I needed to look into, since it had now happened twice. While I was at work researching this, I discovered that in my type of car a failing alternator will cause those two indicators to light up.  I knew what a failed alternator meant, and I knew that since I was running strictly on battery power the car would probably not run more than for another day or two. I figured I would stop by the grocery store on the way home to get food, since there was a good chance we wouldn’t have a way to make it to the store later in the week.

So I swung by the house and picked up my friend whose been staying with me.  We continued on to the store, and did our shopping.  When we came back out, we loaded our bags into the car and got in. I turned the key…but it didn’t start.  Great! The battery was dead already, even though I figured I still had a good 24 hours of drive time left in it since the problem had just started the night before.

My friend asked a pair of African men who had just come out of the store to help me jump the car so we could get home (thank Allah I carry jumper cables!).  They were kind enough to help us out and bring the car back to life. I disconnected the cables and jumped back in the car, as the Africans were pulling out of the parking lot. I put the car in reverse to leave….and it stalled.

Unbelievable! Now what?  We would have to find someone else to help jump the car…again.  Fortunately the lady who was actually parked right in front of me came out of the store and offered to help.  I explained to her what was going on, and that the car would probably need several minutes of charging once it starts in order to make the drive home. She said that would be fine.

So again, the cables are connected, duas are made, and the car starts.  We ladies made small talk for about 10 minutes while we waited for the battery to charge up a little.  I figured enough time had passed, so I disconnected the cables and went around to my door to get in and drive home.  By the time I got that far, I realized the car was silent.  It stalled again as soon as the cables were taken off.

I realized now that even with a jump, the charge was not going to hold at all and we would not be able to use the car to get home. I explained this to my friend who had come with me.  The lady who tried to help us jump the car asked if there was anything she could do to help.  I asked her if she could ride us and our groceries back home, since we only lived a mile down the road.  Alhamdullilah, she was nice enough to do so. I made sure I took everything of value out of the car and locked it before leaving it there in the Kroger parking lot.

I was exhausted mentally by the time I got home and unpacked our food.  My two oldest boys, who were already at home, had already eaten. I was glad for that because it was one less thing to worry about.  As it was, I had to figure out how I would be getting to work the rest of the week, how I was going to get the car out of the Kroger parking lot, and how I was going to afford to repair it.  Not only that, but I had in my possession the check for my husband’s weekly motel fees sent by my mother in law, and I needed to figure out a way to put it in the bank so he could pay for the room.  The payment was already due, so if he couldn’t pay it right away he would be kicked out…and that would leave him and our 6 year old together out on the street.

My friend suggested we try asking a neighbor to take me to a train station to get a bus card, so I could take the bus to work.  I didn’t really have any money for a bus card as it was, but my friend was nice enough to offer to help with that detail. So she and I set out going door to door, floor to floor, trying to find someone who would be kind enough to help me.  We literally knocked on every door in my building, and either no one was home or they couldn’t help us.

My friend and I stood in the parking lot, realizing that now it is going on 10 PM.  We needed a plan, or I would not be able to work tomorrow.  A neighbor then came out to the parking lot, and having some familiarity with who she was I asked if she could help, and she agreed.  She drove my friend and I to the closest MARTA train station and I got a bus card to cover the next four days.  She was also nice enough to drive me by the Bank of America ATM machine so I could deposit my husband’s check.  He was able to pay for his room with no problem after that, Masha’Allah. We got home at about 11 PM.

By this time, I was exhausted by all the events that had taken place. I couldn’t have more of a reaction than amusement of all that had transpired, so I posted a tongue-in-cheek blurp about it on Facebook before settling to bed.  I guess everything that had happened affected me on a subconscious level, because that night I had some very tumultuous dreams.  Subhanallah, those dreams were very telling and encouraging, despite how emotional they were.

I dreamt that I had made arrangements with my manager to work from home the rest of the week, since I would not have transportation to the office.  In the dream, however, I didn’t seem to be getting any work done even in light of that.  My manager and his boss came over to my house to see what was going on, at which point I explained to them what had happened with my car. I told them that I was fearful that the Kroger would have the car towed and impounded, which would only make matters worse.  The men had compassion on me, and offered to take me up there to check on the car and make arrangements to have it taken to a repair shop.

As the dream continued and we arrived at the Kroger, we discovered my car was gone. I feared that we were too late and it had been towed. I went in to ask the store manager where it might’ve been taken, and he informed me that they never had the car removed. He added that there had been a rash of vehicle break-ins overnight, and my car was presumably stolen.

To me, this was even worse. It was bad enough I had a repair that I couldn’t afford, but now I would need to find a way to replace the entire car.  I broke down and became very emotional, even though my manager and his boss were still standing by.  I felt so helpless and overwhelmed, and the boss took pity on me.  He told me that he was getting some extra money on his paycheck for this Friday (6/22), and offered to give it to me to help replace my car instead of using it for his own hobbies.  He told me that he was giving me $5,000. At this point, I became totally humbled at his generosity and graciousness. I felt silly for getting worked up.  I began crying in the dream, so thankful that he had offered a solution to what I thought was an unsolvable problem. At that point, the three of us were leaving to go get dinner somewhere, and I awoke.

I didn’t think much of this dream when I woke up Tuesday morning. I knew there were a lot of details that needed attention, and I was going to have to maintain my energy levels to take public transportation going forward.  As I was getting ready for work, I located an auto shop right across the street from the Kroger my car was stuck at. I called them and asked if they had a tow truck to come get the car, but they did not. They offered me some tow truck company referrals, and I told them the car was only across the street from them.  They said if I could get the car keys to them, they would take a fresh battery over to the car and simply drive it back to the shop.  So I got on the bus and headed to them, and on the way I called Kroger to make sure they knew my car was there and make sure they wouldn’t have it towed anywhere.

Once I knew my car was going to be in good hands, and that I would be still able to get to work, I started to relax a little more as I caught the bus toward my job.  I knew I still had to solve the problem of the cost of the repair, but since I didn’t yet know what that was I wasn’t sure what I would need to do about it. So, I let my mind wander as the bus carried me to work.

Out of the blue, a sister (who I wouldn’t have known as such by appearances, as she was uncovered) came and sat next to me and gave me salaams.  I greeted her back, and she spontaneously asked me, “have you read this book?” as she was pulling a small paperback out of her purse entitled Tears and Tributes. I told her I was unfamiliar with it, and she went on to explain that it was about Imam Hussein and the battle ofKarbala.  As she was telling me about it, I immediately recognized that it was probably published by shi’ites.  I continued to listen to her as she told me, “every time I go through a hard time, I pull out this book and read it. I’ve probably read it about twenty times by now!  I just started reading it again because I was going through something hard in the past few days, and I just find the stories to be so encouraging and uplifting to my faith….especially the accounts of sister (can’t remember the name), who kept praying all her prayers no matter how bad the battle got”.  I was fascinated with this, not because I thought I would agree with the shia viewpoint the book had been written from, but because I felt like Allah was saying to me that there are still things out here to encourage me no matter what I go through, and it has been so for all Muslims through all time.

I was especially touched by what she said about the sister making all her prayers, because for the first time in my Muslim life, I made all my prayers for the month of Rajab.  I never before made all my salats for any month of my Islamic life.  I felt very happy that I accomplished this, even making up the ones I might’ve missed while I worked on this goal.  So to me, it was like Allah was saying He knows the effort I put into that and it was not lost or forgotten.  It made me want to continue making all my prayers on time, and making up any missed ones right away.

As I began to contemplate all that the sister had shared with me while she stepped off the bus, I felt my phone buzz. I looked at it and saw that someone had sent me a message on Facebook.  I checked to see what it was, and I saw that a very, very dear friend was asking me if I had a paypal account. I dreaded to think of the reason why he was asking, but I knew it was because he had seen my post from the night before about my car.  I questioned him about it as I arrived at work, hoping he would change his mind about anything he was devising.

Later on in the day, I got a call from the repair shop that the cost would be about $365.  My jaw had dropped. I was due to get paid on Friday 6/22, but since it was my last check of the month I would be using the majority of it for rent. After my necessary bills, only about $100 would remain.  I knew that the repair wouldn’t be that low, but I was hoping it would at least be less than $200 so I could possibly scrape up or borrow what I didn’t have to cover it.  I figured the best I would be able to do is forgo paying my rent, and use my rent money to cover the car.  Then, once it was back in working order, I would take it to the local title pawn place and get a loan to pay my rent…and pay back the loan over time.  I didn’t see any other choice, since there was not even a slim chance that my ex would come through on any of the $2000 in child support he owes me.

I resigned myself to this course of action as I continued to work the rest of Tuesday, all of Wednesday, and most of Thursday. Thursday afternoon, not long before I was going to be leaving to go home, everything started to change.  I started getting emails notifying me of payments made to me via paypal. My friend, the one who had pestered me on Tuesday, had invited some other friends to help me out with him. As their gifts continued to come through the evening, my eyes bugged out!  The gifts were adding up to almost the total cost of the car repair! This morning another one came through, which ended up completing the full balance (except for 61 negligible cents!) MASHA’ALLAH!!!! Allah made it so I didn’t have to pay for any part of the repair, except for what amounted to spare change.

This morning I woke early and took the bus to the repair shop and picked up my car. Once the paypal funds are transferred into my bank account, I will pay my rent.  I won’t need to pawn the car title, Alhamdullilah.

It’s things like these that make tests worth going through. It’s seeing Allah move like this that makes me want to see Him even more clearly as often as I can.  It’s moments like these that make me cry tears of appreciation for the friends who surround me, friends who are closer to me and kinder to me than some of my own family.  They are indeed the best Muslims I have ever met, and I will be thanking Allah for them and asking Allah to also show them the mercy and grace He’s shown me, for the rest of their lives.  It’s gems like these that make me bow in sajdah to Allah, humbled beyond what I can express, and grateful beyond what I can repay Him.

Trenches of Protection

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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.