Between You and me

 

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When love is too small a word,

When You mean more to me than the whole world,

When I’m unsure yet I feel safe ’cause Your light shines bright,

When Your thoughts illuminate every day and night,

I feel so blessed to have this life, and my beating heart,

That loves You and knows You right from the start,

You, Who saw every tear, every fear and heard me out,

You, Who made my heart strong and dispelled every doubt,

You, Who never turned away but always cared,

You, Who never disclosed all that I have shared,

Allah, the One and Only, the Mighty, the Wise,

Who after the world breaks me down, allows me to rise,

A day without Your remembrance is a day worse than wasted,

To know You, to love You, to worship You is why I was created,

My heart feels calm amid the storm,

When upon Your guidance I remain firm,

Guide me please through this life that seems to lead me astray,

Oh Turner of the hearts, allow me to on the right path stay,

There’s a lot that needs doing, and I need Your direction,

There is so much I don’t understand, I desperately need Your protection,

What say You Oh Allah, of one who has little sense,

Who’s own shortcomings and faux pas make her troubled and tense,

Who’s deeds don’t warrant Your forgiveness,

Who wants, more than anything Your love and closeness,

Its all I have — a mad, passionate love, a sea of yearning that I live in,

Someday, somehow, I know it’ll help me win.

What, really, is the world worth?

Our beloved Prophet Mohammed (May the peace, mercy and blessings of Allah be upon him and his family) said that the 2 units of sunnah prayer before the Fajr Salah are better than the entire world and all it contains.

Then what really, is the rat race for? The heartbreaks, the better position, the ‘ME’ we sometimes so blindly follow? Deception?

Let go. It’s not that important. Your connection to Allah while still living in this dunya is what really matters.

Oh to wander a little more…

I think something like this was originally said by JR Tolkien in Lord of the Rings (or is it Rumi?) but it’s very close to home.

I’m just feeling incredibly blessed every single day and the wanderer inside me just continues to float, discover, feel joy and then wander some more.

When the journey itself is success, there’s no pleasure as profound as seeking. Yep, go figure 😊🙏🏽

Fourteen years later…

Life’s challenges were never so clear to me as they are now. Perhaps there is something about spending more time in this world, becoming more aware of everything around you and figuring out where you stand and what it is that you are really pursuing.

Roughly fourteen years ago I became a man’s wife. I was suddenly expected to be a caring, intelligent partner and with time, a parent. A mother who was meant to know how everything was done and who was someone to look up to. On a personal level I was going through myriad challenges. I was young, raw and not exactly angry but unpleasantly surprised with life and with the people around me. I had no idea how to be this wonderful partner and much less – how on earth – to be a mother, a somewhat okay mother. Fourteen years later the ignorance is still very much there, but for so long, somehow – and only God knows how – I stand as someone who this far seems to be doing alright. At any rate I haven’t killed anyone and I haven’t killed myself either. 🙂

If I were to talk about some of the more important lessons I hope to have learnt by now, the first of them would be that Allah swt lives on. He doesn’t die, He doesn’t even feel sleepy or tired, He doesn’t get sick, He doesn’t move to another country and He’s the One and Only Protective Friend and Guardian who doesn’t spill your secrets and doesn’t let you down. Calling upon Him is never expensive and private conversations can go on forever. Parents’ – the people you love and count on eventually fall sick, fade away and move on from this world. Friends can let you down and people can break you – both in distance as well as in nearness. But Allah swt, the All-Seer, the All-Knower, the One who doesn’t judge You because of how wealthy you might be or how perfect your body looks, listens to you every single time, understands you and calms you down. He is the Only One who has stood by me through the good and the challenging times, the One worthy of absolute love and trust, the One Who washes and enlightens my heart every time it darkens and then allows me to hope some more for an even better tomorrow.

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The next thing that’s started making sense is that there isn’t any real satisfaction, success or peace, or indeed lasting victory in getting laurels from the world. Sure, it’s a wonderful ‘I’m-floating-on-air’ kind of feeling when you see your name in print – but then once that’s over – then what? All creative people (writers, artists, poets etc) know that you are only as good as your last article/book/piece. Lasting peace and happiness comes from realizing that it is indeed Allah swt, His obedience and His remembrance that strengthens the heart, actualizes the soul’s existence and pours forth a shining bright light on the path ahead, illuminating the correct way in a maze of bewildering and overwhelming directions. Peace and happiness increases manifold when you perceive those around you with love, compassion and totally clean-slate forgiveness.

At a very deep level, marriage, first, for me, was about acceptance, as are so many things in life. Your partner might be an excellent person, and a righteous individual but if the two of you can’t stand each other there isn’t much in the relationship except random moments of passion that might exist. People fall in and out of love all the time but acceptance, I feel, is the more important one. There has to come a time when you stop blaming and shaming yourself, your partner or your parents or life and simply accept things and give thanks for whatever good is already manifest and for whatever khayr the Almighty has in store for you. A little bit of gratitude goes a very long way. Things begin to change. Acceptance gradually transforms into gratefulness. Giving thanks gives way to love. And love begets mercy and compassion, which finally transports you to a form of communication higher than love.

When no words are necessary between the two of you and when a gentle touch, a short but meaningful text or a tender back rub might mean so much more than just that. When you start caring about the other person and you’re not entirely sure why or when it started happening but you now understand the importance of their presence in your life and wouldn’t want it any other way. Understanding means being unselfish and letting the other person have their time and space if they need it.

One of the most essential ingredients of a good relationship is humility and ensuring that your ego doesn’t destroy you, both when you are right and more importantly when you are the one who you erred. One must question oneself all the time and make small but conscious efforts every single day to water the family tree.

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My husband is a great man. He really is. And I don’t say that just because he’s put up with me for all these years – although that in and of itself has got to be pretty remarkable. He’s a strong man with insides of steel because he takes all the personality assassination I do of him, digests it, takes whatever benefit he can from my ruthless analysis, discards the rest and then forgives me wholeheartedly. He then renews his vow to stay by my side forever. Yes, I know. I’m incredibly blessed. Alhamdulillah.

As for me, I’ve always found it a bit hard to totally forgive and forget, barring now when I’m finally learning that there’s absolutely nothing cool about being permanently hurt and there’s this incredible feeling of liberation and happiness when you just – let go. Intelligent people move on and embrace each day as an opportunity to receive and radiate all things good and positive.

My husband’s also a really creative guy. He can create power from a bunch of tired looking wires and solar panels and he can probably fix everything from broken glasses to a broken fridge – not impeccably, mind you, but good enough to get you by for a bit. He also loves breaking things apart and enjoys discovering how they work and how and when they don’t. I’m happy to say that he’s now learning to curb this same desire with the wife!

I’d like to sign off with a final piece of advice to myself and anyone else who might care for it. Always notice the little things. If she folds your laundry and puts it away remember to say thank you and mean it. If he clears the sink while you get your assignment done a smile and an “OMG what would I do without you” doesn’t hurt at all. Be respectful and don’t say things you wouldn’t say to a friend. Lastly remember Allah put you in their life for a reason and them in yours for an equally powerful one. Set time aside for just the two of you and remember that the joy, the happiness of the moments today require much thankfulness and acknowledgement. And for when things aren’t so hunky-dory, it pays to be patient and knowing that it too, shall pass. And we’re all going to return to Allah anyway. 🙂

And seek help thorugh patience and prayer

I wonder if anyone’s still around…?

It’s an unhurried kind of peace, the kind of peace you feel listening to the waves on the beach, with the water gently caressing your feet and the early morning sun kissing your face. You make random shapes in the damp, soft sand and pick up a pebble every now and then and watch as it splashes into the vast, unmarred sea. The waves hit the shore in a calm and tranquil way and make just a little bit of noise so as to not disrupt your reverie of thoughts. My dearest Allah – what is this change? Why do I feel such a deep tranquility that I can’t quite place – or indeed associate with myself?Image result for calm beach

Why do I suddenly feel – there’s just one word for it – so happy? It’s not like my challenges have suddenly faded away, there are still moments of desperation and utter, complete failure that so define me.  And yet — I’m not worried.  Is it a sign? Or are you readying me for something important? Or both?

I’m consumed by a different kind of pain.

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PS: So I understand I’ve written on here after some 2 years! Just wondering if there’s somebody out there still reading/listening? How are all the lovely people I’ve met in the blogosphere?

Anxious men in the passenger seat

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Originally written for Gulf News “Off the Cuff” http://gulfnews.com/opinion/off-cuff/anxious-men-in-the-passenger-seat-1.1871220

There are certain things you remember about your childhood that were an integral part of growing up. For me, one such thing was that funny little tomato-red Daihatsu Charade that we once owned. The car was a 1985 model that Dad had purchased refurbished, which meant we became its owners some 10 years after it was born.

It made funny noises when you drove it (stick-shift) and the trunk closed with an earth-shattering jolt. Pulling the windows up and down was good exercise for the biceps and if you got lucky, the air conditioner would sometimes work. This strange object, however, came in handy when I wanted to learn to drive.

After a few lessons of the basics, I decided to take my parents out for a ride. Bad idea, I know. Dad was a bundle of nerves as I took the car outside the gate, and he covered his face with his hands. A car sped along in the opposite direction and he jumped. “Can’t you see that car?” he said frantically. “We are on the other side Papa, please relax,” I told him.

Mum murmured in agreement from the back seat. Dad ground his teeth. I tried to laugh valiantly but found this first ride with him distinctly confidence-draining as I tried to reassure him that everything would be fine.

We were driving along the main road happily and I could sense him relaxing just a tiny bit. It was almost as though he had resigned himself to the fact that he wouldn’t look up much and we would all make it home in one piece. I was pleased that he wasn’t quite as excited as before and things started to get a little more pleasant. We finally turned home and as everything had gone well without any trouble whatsoever, I decided this was my time to speak. “Well, I’m quite okay driving, aren’t I? Look at you guys, you don’t trust me at all!”

Dad almost looked sorry and he was about to say something, but I’ll never know what it was because at that precise moment I banged the rear of the car while reversing into our unopened front gate, which I had presumed was open. Typical. Dad felt vindicated and the “I told you so” lecture that followed was positively grating. Fast forward a few years and I drive every day, sometimes for long distances. It has become second nature. I would even say that I enjoy it (minus the traffic, of course) and ferrying the girls around town is part of my job description. Yet, my husband recoils with apprehension every time he sits with me in the passenger seat.

We are driving to the airport to drop him off. “Change lanes, we need to take the next exit,” he says. I roll my eyes. “Thanks, but I kind of know the way,” I respond coolly. He shrugs. When I finally do change lanes he shakes his head in despair and wonders how much to say because he is travelling after all and making up over the phone might prove a little tricky. He (wisely) restrains himself from speaking about the details of my lane-changing abilities, but I notice from the corner of my eye, he looks extremely stressed. I don’t know about you, but the men in my life generally hyperventilate when I’m driving.

I enjoy speeding every now and then (the engine roar is so satisfying) but sadly my husband doesn’t agree. “No wonder the fuel costs as much as it does and do you realise how unsafe this is?” he says pointedly as I let it rip. I slow down because we need to pick up something on the way and the only parking available near the grocery store is parallel. Herein lies my real test. I take a deep breath and try it — five times out of ten I manage to do it and at other times, the car just doesn’t seem to obey. Sadly, this time the car ends up jutting out at a strange angle and he smiles vindictively. “You bribed them to pass your driving test, didn’t you?” He breathes easy and I scowl. He picks up the grocery and then knocks at my window. “I’m driving,” he tells me.

The man who looked completely distraught moments ago is now happy and relaxed and shows the girls how we take off in an aeroplane by going full throttle and making the engine thunder. My eyebrows almost disappear into my hairline. It’s nostalgic. I remember that red Charade and Dad. I smile wryly. Until he learns to relax in the passenger seat, I really don’t mind being chauffeured around by my man, especially if there’s parallel parking around.