Flee to Allah (Reflections on the current state of affairs in Pakistan)

Yesterday was the kind of day in which you kiss your children many times more. In which you snuggle close to them and sniff their fragrance and feel the joy of holding them wash over you.

Yesterday was the kind of day when you love your spouse a little more. You forgive him a little more… You love the arguments you’ve had. And you cherish the loving/annoying/unbelievably weird bond you have with your spouse.

It’s a day when dread washed over you when you hear that there was a blast 5 minutes from home. Back home.

As a dear friend put it : “Muscle memory of safe places being altered tragically.”

And for a few moments you subconsciously imagine the worst scenarios possible – your mind sort of preparing for any curve ball that may hit you lest it hit you while you are totally unaware. This is followed by gratefulness, mixed with empathy for the ones who were affected. Your mind feels for what they are going through. You have a good idea, because you went through it yourself when you lost your mother 8 years ago. 8? Really? It seems ages ago. Time passes so slowly.

For some moments or perhaps days after such events, life seems so short. And to some of us, that seems like a relief. That we only have a little more to go. A little more of patience. A little more of the heartbreak that is life… But it makes you pray that that little that is left is easy. Free of trials and difficulties. It makes you hope to make the best of it.

Yesterday was a day in which one stops themselves from searching more on the ghazwa e Hind they read about in Kitab ul fitan (the Book of calamities) of Tirmidhi. You stop yourself because you know you will enter a stage of musing, thinking… I know where that leads me… So i stop myself. Because I have to take care of three others who depend on me. Because, no matter how much I research, we still do not really know. What we do know is, that the other signs have come. The spiritual signs, the manifest signs. The small signs, the big signs. The signs that the Day is near. But how near, we still do not know. And there is khayr in that. It necessarily makes us pause the fear. It necessarily makes us hope that it’s still not near. It simultaneously makes us prepare that it may be near.

But it’s ok to be afraid too. Each state teaches us something about life and ourselves. How fragile life is. How fragile we are.

Yesterday was a day we were afraid. And we were angry. And we were upset. At the games they play.

Yesterday was a day when the fear was mixed with sorrow. Sorrow for my lovely land. For the country who is struggling and flourishing. For my people who are so full of life, now full of fear. For that land, that is beauty – the mountains, the gushing rivers and springs, the ocean, the meadows, the desserts, the old old trees. For that land that even I have not entirely visited and experienced… For that land that is now bleeding… For that land to which I long to return. For that land, when people tell me they have no intention of returning too, I feel strange. I feel sorry. I cannot relate.

Yesterday was a day that washes all the grudges away.

It washes the confusions away.

Because you know what really matters.

Me and Allah.

My relationship with HIM – and that every single moment every relationship I have in this world and every task I perform in this world have to be done in a state of ubudiyya – as a servant, a creation of the Lord Most High – in love and fear of Him. A love that overcomes the fear. For there is no escape except towards Him.

The fear is valid. The feelings are valid. But the fact, that we are in the Hands of Allah is also true. And sometimes makes the fear even more valid…

fa firru ilAllah

So flee to Allah.

There is no escape except towards Him.

And live fully, love fully, give fully and take fully (the cup of love and life and hope that Allah Gives you).

May it be a beautiful fleeing towards Allah…

Amidst the chaos that is life, may our hearts be filled with the drink of love for Him and everything that is good and fair in the world. Ameen

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” (Addendum)

[Disclaimer: I am not a professional counselor and my experience here is being shared only as awareness and to dispel the stigma that surrounds mental illness in religious circles as well as some secular ones. It should not be taken as a cure, especially for more complicated cases; and professional help should be sought. I hope and pray that we as religious Muslims start to view the significant role of psychology in healing our hearts and minds, so that we can be healthier emotionally and spiritually and physically, and strive to earn the pleasure of Allah swt.]

I mentioned in the previous post that mine was a story that is too long to be penned down easily. And as I was writing that post, I knew there would be a follow-up; a part 2 to the story I was sharing. I imagined it to be as long and as expressive. Somehow, however, it was meant to be concise. I mentioned 6 points that helped me navigate the wire mesh of thoughts. Here are 6 more that I feel need to be mentioned that may help anyone who is going through anxiety, depression, a midlife crisis, or a difficult time after parenthood. I end with a 13th point, which, I feel was an underlying point throughout the time frame. It is the point I ended with in my last post, but here I emphasize it separately, and that is: falling in love with Allah swt all over again.

These points helped me and I hope they will continue to do so whenever I am faced with challenging times. And here I mention them as an addendum to the first 6 points:

7. You are not alone. For whatever reason, our generation, which is also known as the millennials, is faced with a myriad of scenarios that are starkingly different from previous generations. Globalization, massive sharing of ideologies, internet, technology resulting in impatience in our temperaments – whatever the reason, we are, as foretold by the Prophet (s) in a time where spiritually we are much weaker than ever. As a religious woman, you may feel that you alone are facing these war of thoughts and emotions. But when in the depths of an abyss, we need to remind ourselves that we are not alone. There are so many others being tested with this trial. But rejoice and do not despair.

8. Dua – I wrote about connecting to the Qur’an as the greatest source of comfort, and while reciting and memorizing and engaging intellectually with the Qur’an is like Allah swt Conversing with us, making dua to Him (calling out, supplicating) is us conversing to Him. And hence, it is of utmost importance in any struggle we face in this life. Dua is the remembrance of Allah, filled with our expression of need for Him. Just call out and ask Him. Seek out beautiful Sunnah duas and Qur’anic duas that the Prophets made that speak to your heart. The dua of Taif is the best supplication in times of hurt and pain. But if you can’t even do that, just call from the depths of your heart and ask Him to Help you. Just call out and pour your heart out to Him in sajdah.

9. Trusting that there is a hidden benefit in our trial. The thousand tiny bubbles of thought I mentioned in the last post, this is one of them. It is practical husn e zann about Allah swt… We need to practise it to experience the benefit.I mentioned doubts in the previous post, that made me hold on for dear life to the Qur’an- the words of our Lord – and it is Trust in Him that dispels doubts. It is the conscious ignoring and belittling of our own doubts that dispels our fears and anxieties, most of which are baseless, even according to psychological research.

10. Knowing that it will not last. Good times change to bad and bad times change to good. In the moment, we forget this. But this is the nature of the world. And in the depths of confusion, it helps to remember that this too shall pass.

11. Working on knowing the self. (This could also mean professional counseling or therapy from a trusted, capable individual, depending on the level of our anxiety and depression- as I mentioned in my previous post, this helps in thinking about where we are going wrong in our thinking process) I have also spoken about this in some of my Facebook posts recently. After marriage and motherhood, we sometimes have to rediscover ourselves. Who we are as a wife and a mother are significantly different than who we were when we were alone. So many times we hear people saying that if you are happy alone, you will never be lonely. But the truth is, most women who are like me will admit that they loved spending time alone when they were alone 🙂 And now it is a luxury. Now when they have no alone time they miss it. And they feel lonely because they feel they have lost themselves. And hence, I say, it is in this time that we need to rediscover ourselves. Rediscover the beauty of bonds. Rediscover the beauty of sharing our hearts out with people – with our dear and close ones. Sharing ourselves with others and being vulnerable. We may get hurt in the process, but we will learn a lot. Rediscovering ourselves in this phase also means realizing our lost passions. It means knowing our strengths and weaknesses. Once you have identified your strengths, work on putting those in use for the sake of Deen, for Allah swt. As for the weaknesses, strive in making them your strength. For me, this is an ongoing process. To passionately work for the Deen with the talents and gifts Allah swt has Blessed you with. And each of us is gifted. That is for us to discover.

12. Evaluate the state of your heart and strive to reach Equilibrium:
Forgive yourself and love yourself.
We wish that Allah swt Forgives and Loves us – sometimes when we lose self respect due to whatever reason, we cannot forgive ourselves and being mortals and highly prone to error, our nafs or shaytan whispers to us that Allah swt will not Forgive us. It is deceit. A lie. If during our self discovery we realize we are prey to pride, then we have to let go of our ego. We have to tell ourselves that we are lowly. You are lowly, and yet Allah swt Loves you. So submit to that Magnificent Lord. If, on the other hand, we realize that we have lost self respect, then tell remind yourself that you are worthy of being loved. Allah swt Created you to love and be loved.

InshaAllah, the last point needs to be elaborated and I hope to do so in the future. Similar is the equilibrium we should strive to have between love and fear of Allah swt.

Allah swt Says:

Say, “Who provides for you from the heaven and the earth? Or who controls hearing and sight and who brings the living out of the dead and brings the dead out of the living and who arranges [every] matter?” They will say, “Allah,” so say, “Then will you not fear Him?” (31) For that is Allah, your Lord, the Truth. And what can be beyond truth except error? So how then, are you averted? (32) (Surah Yunus)

But I believe, when we are going through anxiety attacks and depression, we may already be fearful of Him, but in a skewed way. I believe that at that point in time we are essentially distant from loving Allah swt. We may be remembering Him, but we are not remembering Him with love.

أَلَا بِذِكْرِ اللَّـهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ 

“Only and only in the remembrance of Allah swt do hearts find rest.” (13:28)

There are so many ways of remembering Allah swt. But it is particularly remembrance with muhabba that brings peace. It is with love and mindfulness or being in the present moment, without the past and the future to distract us, that we can truly taste the sukoon (tranquility) of Allah swt’s Remembrance. It is falling in love with Allah swt again, just like we need to fall in love with our spouses again and again over the course of our lives, that takes us out of the abyss of hopelessness.

And hence, I make this my last underlying practise of anyone who is in depression

13. Fall in love with Allah swt again. Love Him, and tell yourself that He loves you.

Shaytan wishes us to think negatively about Allah swt. He wishes we overthink. Remind yourself that he, ar-rajeem, is the liar. Au’zu billahi min ash-shaytan irrajeem.

And Allah swt Spoke truly in His Qur’an. We are recipients of His Mercy and Love. Ar-Rahman, ar-Raheem.

May Allah SWT Guide each and everyone who reads this out of every dark time that they face into Light: pure and peaceful Truth. Ameen.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – Charles Dickens

If you are looking for something related to philosophy or epistemology, psychology or spirituality, something related to rediscovering ourselves in motherhood and marriage,  a story about unaddressed perfectionism, an existential crisis, depression, the tug of war between being intellectual and emotional, between being too feminine and not feminine at all, then welcome. You are in the right place.

Where do I start?

[Before I do, I need to put a DISCLAIMER here: This post is not a diagnosis, a cure or professional advice. I write foremost for myself- to make sense of things which have recently gone haywire in my life, secondly to put my writing out in the world for hopes that some soul somewhere may benefit and thereby make my experience one with more meaning than it seems to be right now. Thirdly, to produce a piece of ‘writing’ that people may enjoy 🙂 I acknowledge that this may only be *my* experience, and only my circumstances, so I encourage others to seek proper Islamic knowledge as well as professional psychological diagnosis for their own circumstances. The least of what one can gauge from this piece, hopefully, is the importance of each science or art Allah SWT Has Placed on this earth. Bismillah (beginning in the name of Allah- God)]

The featured Image of me and son number one is one which depicts the truth of my times in Okinawa being the best of times and the worst of times. My personal times I mean. Till now, at least. It was the best of times as we were in the most beautiful island on Earth. Golden beaches, crystal clear water, sometimes deep blue, sometimes turquoise, the most breathtaking sunsets. And here, in the photo, we were at a park. It’s called Neo park, but it was more like a haven of simple nature. It was not so pretty and not made up as other places we had visited and neither was it as beautiful as the botanical gardens Japan is famous for, but as we walked through the track they had made, I stopped as soon as we reached this particular tree. It seemed to be the tree I had always only read about in books. Even now it seems like a dream and only the picture testifies that I was actually there, right beside it, a wanderer but also a mother. I spent only a few moments beside it, not hours as I would have liked and imagined, sitting beneath it, indulging in a book. In Jannah, in shaa Allah. Does it really show that it was the worst of times? No, not really. But as I remember the park itself, it reminds me of how it wasn’t really something so special. It wasn’t really something to boast about – the picture hides that fact. Just like the apparent goodness of my time in Okinawa hides the difficult aspect of my time here.

So how do I begin? What is this about? It is about an existential crisis to put it bluntly. But let’s start with motherhood.

Motherhood is a topic written about by thousands. It is a reality of life still confusing to me. It is an experience of life I am still going through. Perhaps, my difficulty in this regard arose because of three things: 1) my need to Philosophize everything in life, 2) my need to follow guidelines and instructions in whatever I do and particularly guidelines that would lead to a successful Hereafter, not just a successful dunya, 3) my need to be exceptional, if not outright perfect or super at whatever I do. Notice the word I used- yes, I was used to being gifted- whether it was art, writing, reading, I always found myself above average in most things, except … household skills – no wait, I could even be exceptionally organized once upon a time, but that miraculously changed, thanks to – hormones? taqdeer? Bear with me please.

Reading on a multitude of topics, I realized this about myself in retrospect- I had always been studious- and I had come to define myself by my worth to study, disseminate knowledge and make sense of life. Household skills took a back seat. I mean, sure, I could bake well since high school. I learnt the basics of cooking when I was a teen. I never became an expert at roti making though (ah yes, my deep woe of never being a good gol-roti bahu)… Five years down the road in marriage, my husband surprised me (no, shocked would be a better word) by making a perfect gol roti. Failure. That is what I felt. As I write this, it seems unreal the sense of failure I felt at that time. Surely, it could have been a time to rejoice and celebrate my husband’s unexpected expertise at something so ‘womanly’ as roti making? But all I could feel was failure and guilt. Guilt at not being a superwoman. Guilt at not being a super housewife. Guilt at not having everything in my house under order. (It did not help that I saw my husband’s mother as well as my own mother be the most expert, super housewives) Guilt at feeling incomplete in my life, as I found myself on a tiny island, where my husband had started his new research as a Mathematician, and where I had to face isolation -social and intellectual. It was in this scenario, that I began to question who exactly I was.

The questioning came with anxiety attacks. It came with bouts of depression. Sure, I was a Muslim. That was my first identity and one I had always identified with. But I had always been a cool, idealist, sensitive but not whiny type of intellectual being. I use the word being because I never really even identified with being a ‘woman’ for fear of being associated with sensitivity and crying and emotionality. I never identified myself with mothering and housewifery.

But here I was, a woman to the core. I think all of us have femininity and masculinity in us. This is a topic for another time. But here I was, unable to face the femininity in myself.

There seems to be nothing exceptional about my story, but at the same time there was. I read articles on articles about staying at home moms and their struggles. But there was something rare about what I experienced in this island called Okinawa – the Hawaii of Japan.

I had a crushing experience. I felt despair, darkness in my soul, hopelessness, loss of interest in life. In short, it was nothing short of a mid-life crisis. It touched an existential crisis of sorts. But the punch line was, I always thought I had passed all that. I couldn’t believe I was going through it. I thought I had the answers to everything. I thought that my four years worth of deep study of my beautiful Deen was all there was to learn about life and the hereafter.

And I was wrong. And I was right.

I was punched hard in the stomach, and I fell down, the wind knocked out of me, on all fours.

What did I do? How am I here, writing this?

It is not a journey that can be penned down so easily. I cannot write about the heart-wrenching moments and sometimes hours of pain I felt, searing through my broken heart and soul. I cannot explain what exactly ‘pained’ me. Was it the fact that I was at a point in life where nothing seemed to make sense- not the marriage I had said yes to, for the sake of my Deen, not the children I had who were a fitnah, not the 10 years of Deen I had studied, which were not helping me in my crisis when I wanted. I did tawba again and again, because surely, that would bring ease again. But I kept falling down, bruised and hurt. In such a time and place, I turned towards psychology. What was wrong with me?

Over a course of months, I began to realize that it may just be other, very simple, practical things that I was not paying attention to; perhaps simple skills that I was lacking.

So I turned to psychology to understand myself better. But I was afraid of it. I was at a place where I had never been before. Was it marriage? Was it motherhood? Was it my idealism that was destroying my inability to live like others? Things seemed simple and profound at the same time. Everybody looks for love and happiness. We look for it in the ‘wrong places’ they say. It is only truly with Allah SWT. But I couldn’t find Him. I tried so hard. And some days I did. As I poured my heart out to Him I knew He would make it ok. But on other days, I could not make sense of my life and my akhirah. It was my fear of akhirah that made me hopeless. Surely, the fear is supposed to be there

وَلِمَنْ خَافَ مَقَامَ رَبِّهِ جَنَّتَانِ ﴿٤٦ فَبِأَيِّ آلَاءِ رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ 

But for such as fear the time when they will stand before (the Judgment Seat of) their Lord, there will be two Gardens- (46) Then which of the favours of your Lord will ye deny?- (47)

But why was it leading to despair? Why couldn’t I find a balance? Why, even after reminders from my husband about the Mercy of Allah and about hope did I fall into the crippling fear again?

I knew the only way out was to have hope. But I was afraid of false hopes. But I had to hope. I was afraid of failing but I had to try. I was afraid of losing but I had to strive to gain something.

A psychotherapist told me that my ‘being’ was facing fears because it had been exposed to sudden loss. It made sudden sense. I couldn’t heed my husband’s words, or everything that was stored in my brain because I was questioning it all. Because I had lost trust in something. There was the loss of my mother in 2009, then there were two other incidents  which were deep losses to myself. They involve other people/organizations and so I have left them unnamed here and hence the exact nature of those losses also remains unmentioned- but they were deep. And profound.

I thought about the losses the Prophet (s) had faced. I thought about losses other people faced. But what was troubling was the isolation I felt within my own story. They had not felt depression. But I was feeling it in my soul.

I felt like I was abandoned by everyone I knew. I tried desperately to hold on to the Rope Allah SWT mentions in the Quran, but the truth was, that I felt I was drowning. That every rope I thought I was reaching out for was slipping out of my hands and letting me sink deeper and deeper.

There were a billion small steps that one needs to take from rock bottom I think. A million tiny thoughts that provide the bubbles that let you breathe. A thousand positive reminders that you desperately hold on to.

Risking simplification, I propose that these steps helped me:

  1. I knew I was facing isolation, and a kind soul whom I had never met but contacted on whatsapp told me that I had to strive harder to reconnect to people. As I did that, over the period of a month or two, I connected on social media to people I felt I could relate to. I consequently also brushed off and disconnected the influence and advice of very close people in my life- whom I considered close because of the years of life we shared, because of experiences we shared, because our relationships had been made in Allah’s Name. And despite all that, I was standing at a crossroads in life where I simply *had* to disconnect – because they were no longer positive for me. I had to make sure it was not a condescending letting go- it was because it was a desperate need at that time. They were debilitating me. They could no longer lead me back to my Allah SWT, who was the Sole Relationship I knew I had to keep. It was the relationship that was taking the brunt too. Yes. It was a spiritual, deep struggle within my being. It was a war of thoughts. A war of emotions.
  2. I had to tell myself that my struggle had meaning. That there was a purpose. A higher and positive purpose. When we tell ourselves that this is a crucial lesson we are being taught, then the pain we are going through is easier. So I believed that there would be light coming in through the cracks. That yes, though I eventually had to figure this out, that I had to make sense of the things that were not making sense, I also had to trust the uncertainty that life is. Uncertainty is a part of being human. We do not know what is going to happen in the future. We do not know if our efforts will necessarily bear fruit in this life. Unexpected things happen. We are afraid of our akhirah too. But, this is part of being human. And that is when I saw how tawakkul (trust) in Allah swt helps believers in this uncertain world. Even my mental war within cleansed me of sins or granted me reward. This uncertainty wasn’t a curse- it was a rahmah. It was a win-win situation in shaa Allah no matter how hurt I got in the process. (I also had to white-wash certain things I had heard which I previously couldn’t forget – so I voluntarily, consciously let go of the thought that this was a punishment because I was failing in being patient. I chose to look at it as a Mercy for me.)
  3. I realized that ‘depression’ was not something that should be mentioned at all in places like Islamic talks. Depression is a clinical illness, and if it is mentioned at all, then it should be done with far greater awareness than it ordinarily is. It is not always ‘only’ spiritual and only because we are far from Allah swt. There may be other reasons such as isolation, because Allah swt has Made us social beings. Mentioning that a true believer would not or could not be depressed may make someone who lacks a deep knowledge about Deen become despondent. And the speaker would only be egging him onwards in his despair.
  4. I *had* to improvise. I had to find meaning and enjoyment in so called ‘fruitless’ activities, because I realized I had some time on this earth – and even though I desperately wanted to only do those things which made a positive difference to my akhirah, I knew that mundane things could be made ibadah… and that I was thinking too much and reading too much into it. So I picked that sketch book again and drew. I started with the sunrise. I sketched. And I took in the details of that sunrise like I hadn’t for a long time. I had forgotten what Nature could do to us. How Allah SWT Has Called His Creation signs that point to Him. Even today I need to remind myself of this. I do not know where and how I lost this lesson that I knew so well in my teens. But I decided to relearn it.
  5. I realized practise and experience makes one wise. There was so much knowledge of do’s and don’ts that I had accumulated, that I realized that a person like me needed to stop and pause. I needed to put it all into action now. I was inhibited because of all that information and I had to come out of it by action. Even if it meant starting a blog which would make me question myself every time. Am I doing this for fame? Is there any ikhlas in this? Is this just lahw? As I questioned myself, I began to learn that I must choose positive answers. Yes, yes and yes. It is not fame, rather it is a hope that people will benefit. Renew the intention. Allah SWT will Judge me. Not my teachers, not my friends, not my spouse. He is Nearer to me than my Jugular vein.
  6. I was filled with doubts about myself, my decisions, where I was in life, and even about the people in my life. So I connected to the ONE THING which I knew about for sure. Which carried no doubts. The Qur’an itself. Laa raiba feeh. Wherein there lies no doubt. (Qur’an 2:2)

This last point is important. Alhamdulillah for the sarf and nahw I studied in the last decade, that I could engage with the Qur’an at a deep personal level. We can study the tafseer, recite, memorize. We can connect with the Kalaam of our Lord to get some clarity in our thoughts when we are so confused. This connection itself alhamdulillah brought some stability in my inner self. I kept letting go of any sentences that were ingrained in my heart that I may have heard in talks/bayans that were crippling me or making me negative. My husband reminded me that anything negative in our mind was a misunderstanding of what we were comprehending- because Deen brought nothing but positivity. (as I mention my husband a few times, I also feel a need to clarify that while he tried his best to help me, he also hurt me at times, as that is what life is. It is not a perfect fairytale. None of us is perfect and we each make mistakes. But striving in this world is the purpose of existing therein, and creating that fairytale in the Hereafter is our purpose for striving here. Alhamdulillah)

So I kept filtering the negative thoughts. I faced anger. See post Anger. It also helped to realize that anxiety or mental health issues arise when we have unaddressed emotions within ourselves. And so I paid more attention to my emotions. Why did I feel angry? Was it really a misunderstanding my husband had that angered me? Can I clarify it? Why was i confused? What was I confused about?

As I did all this, I began to see the positive truths about things. I had always ‘known’ them. But I hadn’t ‘felt’ them during this time of depression. It was as Dickens says: I had everything in front of me, I had nothing in front of me.

I still struggle. There are days when I wonder why the world is so insensitive. Why are we so lost in our own happiness, unable to serve others? Even those who apparently are serving others have imperfections. They can be insensitive. I can be insensitive. That is when I remind myself that I need friends I can really relate to at my level of philosophizing. Friends who can relate to what I feel and say. There were many such women whom I connected to during this time, and I am grateful to each of them, and to Allah SWT for making me realize there are so many out there like me. And that even if sometimes as we pass through this tunnel  of life, I may not feel like I have anyone next to me, I am going to come out at the other end in shaa Allah.

These struggles are ongoing. They are a part of life. Some of us may be tested with wealth, some with the loss of lives, some with physical sickness, and some with mental illness.

Through all of these tests, the navigation needs to be made with the help of the Qur’an. The navigation has to be made with this deep belief that Allah SWT Loves us and Wills the Best for us.

Sometimes we lose the basic self esteem that we are supposed to have – the self respect that our connection with Allah SWT Grants us. This inherent belief that we are worthy of love. We are worthy of belonging. It is sometimes simply a lack of this self worth that make us distant from our Merciful Lord.

Ar-Rahman Ar-Raheem
(The especially Merciful, the eternally Merciful)

Sometimes, I think, this was the best of times, because He Wished to Show me, that at times it is only in His Mercy we can find relief. The same Mercy that I used to think people take for granted… I learnt to cherish it.

وَهُوَ الْغَفُورُ الْوَدُودُ 

And He is the Most Forgiving, the Loving (Affectionate)
(Quran; Surah Burooj 85:14)

Sometimes we seek Him. We learn about Him. At other times, He Teaches us Himself. And you realize, even when we were seeking Him, it was still Him, Seeking us.

Prophet Sulaiman’s dua is one that I wrote down and pinned on my kitchen cabinet:

Beautiful and comprehensive. Ameen

“My Lord! Grant me the power and ability that I may be grateful for Your favors which You have bestowed on me and on my parents, and that I may do righteous good deeds that will please You, and admit me by Your mercy among Your righteous servants.”

Qur’an (27:19)