finding sakina in supplication

When du’as (supplications) are answered, life halts and feels almost fragile. The solace it brings is a gentle [Divine] nudge: that your endured pains have never existed.

What an incomparable gift.

* * *

Dear God,

In times of distress, I’ve learned that stability is a blessing. That soundness of mind provides you with a complete consciousness necessary to breathe easily. That contentment of the heart is what is needed to move forward.

After every accepted whisper, the only words that dare escape my lips spell of Your praise. I am consistently reminded of Your loving mercy.

You give in abundance; while my being drunkenly wanders in between states of ephemeral highs and lows.

At my lowest, exhaustion weighs heavy on my shoulders and makes room for its closest friend: hopelessness. Together, they wring my soul dry until I am unable to move.

I am always messing up.

In these moments, Your incandescent presence surrounds me with warmth. Words I often fail to remember faintly ring in assurance:

فاتقوا الله ما استطعتم

“So be mindful of God as best as you can…” (64:16).

This desire I have to seek perfection is due to my own soul being once in the very company of Perfection. However, perfection isn’t what You seek from me. It is an attribute only You encompass. What You value most is sincere and utmost striving and effort.

Despite my momentary departures, I now recognize that this cycle of fluctuation in heart sings of a love greater than anything else.

The Most Loving. Most Kind.

My Protecting Friend.

You teach me to never give up on myself or Your endless mercy.

light is a gift & a mercy

At a point in my life where I was feeling extremely low, I would sometimes go to the nearby masjid just to feel some sort of peace. I would go alone and attempt to avoid any interactions. I would try my best to slow down the negative thoughts that ran through my head. Doing this every so often would be the bit of comfort that I needed to urge me to continue on.

On one of the days I was there, a sister who I met for the first time greeted me with the warmest of smiles. She mentioned that I didn’t look at ease, and without further questioning me, she began chatting with me as though we were long-time friends.

Every word she spoke, and every story she shared with me instantly tugged at my heart. I couldn’t stop myself and ended up uncontrollably tearing up like a baby. It was as though my heart found her familiar, and finally opened up after so long.

This embarrassing moment of crying into a stranger’s arms and “randomly” bumping into her on various occasions after that (it was always whenever my heart needed it), was a constant reaffirmation to myself: that people truly cross your path for a reason, and you are sometimes given reminders at moments when you may either be looking for them or not – but in hindsight, when you need them most. And this is one of the biggest mercies.

When my sight becomes a bit foggy and someone with a light like her’s helps me to see His Light a little clearer, this is without a doubt a gift that I am a million times grateful for.

May we all become reflections of His Light for those around us, even for strangers we may speak to only briefly.

God shows His love and presence through His signs.

warda (rose) / ch.1

Warda entered the dimly lit room and smiled, her teeth gleamed, and crinkles formed at the corners of her eyes. She wandered the perimeter of the small home. It wasn’t much, but it was all she’d ever known. She skipped towards the center and jumped, softly landing on the middle of the intricately detailed carpet that covered the cracked cement floor. Grabbing the scarf that wrapped around one shoulder, she tied a knot on her backside and hopped to the imaginary beat in her head. Opening her mouth, a soft delicate tune filled the dusty air.

Warda, the name meant ‘rose’ in Arabic. She was known to be more beautiful than the flower itself; at least the very one who had loved her dearly swore to that statement. The door swiftly opened, and the sound of it banging against the wall broke the enchanting spell Warda was momentarily in.

“Warda!” the harsh voice caused her to lose balance. She stumbled, but gracefully regained her composure, standing tall to face the owner of the voice.

Haa habaryar.” she answered without hesitation, her voice not sounding as brave as she desired, and instead came out as a squeak. Her aunt’s presence never failed to shake her.

“Stop playing around like a child and help me put away the food.”

Haye.” Warda mumbled, following her aunt. She walked toward the basket that contained only a few items her habaryar bought from the market. She picked it up and set it on a small table. As she put each item in its proper place, Warda glanced up and observed the woman in front of her. Her habaryar took off her garbasaar and tightened the masar on her head. A masar is usually worn by newly-wedded women, as a symbol of their marriage. It had been long since her aunt had been married, and she certainly wasn’t a new bride.

“Her husband ran off with another woman.” was the story that circulated around the neighborhood. Despite the irony of the masar, her aunt could pass as a new bride. She had beautiful dark, copper skin and lines that carved softly into her face – almost unnoticeable. She would have been absolutely gorgeous, if it wasn’t for her cold, dark eyes. Thick eyebrows framed them, almost menacingly, and her lips were set in a permanent line. At least when she would be facing Warda, she never once smiled.

Her mother’s sister was Warda’s guardian since she was six years old. She shared the small home with her cousins and was treated like a slave. Warda had never felt loved by her so-called family, and she only dreamed of it. All she had ever known was doing what she was told without question, and as quickly as she possibly could before a punishment came her way.

Kac! Who do you think you are, sitting down? I told you to put the food away and now you’re being lazy?” a shriek broke her thoughts. Warda didn’t notice that she was leaning against the table. She could make the argument that she wasn’t exactly sitting and correct her aunt, but she didn’t.

“I-I-I’m sorry! I was just-”

Naa naga aamus! Before I beat you until you cry blood!”

Warda pushed herself far from the table, her back facing her aunt. She swiftly completed the task at hand. She knew she couldn’t get beat again, her arms and legs still had deep cuts which hadn’t completely healed yet. As soon as she put the items in their place, she heard a series of footsteps outside, approaching the wooden door. She glanced in that direction and her ears were filled with sounds of laughter and shrills. She could make out young children yelling, “Hooyo! Hooyo!” at the top of their lungs.

Her cousins pushed the door open and ran into the house, dropping their book bags aimlessly onto the ground. The four of them jumped onto the chair their mother was seated in, and pulled at her dirac.

Hooyo! School was so much fun!” they took turns filling their mother in on the details of their first day of school and how they looked forward to the rest of the school year. Warda’s eyes followed her aunt’s arms as they encircled the young children one by one. A wide smile plastered her habaryar’s  face, and with a beaming face, she laughed at her precious children’s excitement. Warda gazed longingly at the scene, and her mouth opened slightly. It felt as though the thick atmosphere of happiness rushed into her body and she suddenly let out a small choke. The emotion was too foreign, it didn’t belong there. She coughed and tears formed at her eyes, daring to fall.

“What are you coughing for? Are you trying to make us sick?” her aunt turned her head towards Warda and snarled. Warda squeezed her eyes shut to prevent the tears from leaving their place. She wasn’t allowed to cry; wasn’t allowed to feel any emotion.

“Do I have to remind you of what you’re supposed to do? Do I pay you to stand there like a statue? Clean the children up and make them food!” she spit out disgustingly.

You don’t pay me. Warda thought, wishing she was brave enough to talk back to her aunt. But she wasn’t, so she did as she was told and as quickly as she could.


 Haa: yes
Habaryar: aunt (mother’s side)
Haye: okay/alright
Garbasaar: a big colorful shawl mainly worn by married women
Masar: a small scarf/headpiece made from a rectangle or triangle material mainly worn by married women
Kac: get up
Naa naga aamus: oh shut up
Hooyo: mother
Dirac: a long, light dress made of cotton or thin fabric

#ourthreebrothers

إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعون
Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raaji’un
Indeed we belong to God, and to Him we shall return.

It’s difficult to not let the anger that we inevitably feel when we hear about horror stories such as this to consume our heart. When my eyes and ears have to witness sweet souls sentenced to their death without warning, it’s disheartening. Mothers are mourning for their children, crying until their eyes swell shut, and their bodies numb. This happens far too often. They don’t give us time, no time at all to mourn, to heal – we are constantly bombarded with tragedy after tragedy.

Adam Kamel Mekki (20), Muhannad Adam Tairab (17), and Mohamedtaha Omar (23), all of Sudanese-American backgrounds. 2 Muslims, 1 Christian. Our Three Brothers. Found in a home, murdered execution-style. No media coverage for days after their deaths. I heard about this after THREE LONG days of silence. This was a silence that was deafening. A silence that was heartbreaking. And a silence that will be remembered.

Beloved, beautiful, black young men and women are stripped of their future every day. They don’t only face erasure, but are also subject to many forms of violence. Selective mourning exists, there is no denying that fact. And it needs to end. There is no tragedy that holds greater importance over another. A life is a life. The Prophet, peace be upon him, told us that we are like one body. When a part of us is in pain, all of us should feel it.

What is heartbreaking, is that families are alone in mourning for their children while we are fragmented as a people. A brother of mine said…“For those of you who heard about this incident and assumed gang violence or drugs, you are part of the problem. For those of you who needed a justification to mourn, shame on you. And for those of you who remain silent, were they not souls?” As a community, we should care, REGARDLESS of reason. Adam, Muhannad and Mohamedtaha lost their lives. That alone should be the sole reason for us to stand up in solidarity.

It was reported that a funeral passed by the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and he stood up in respect. When he was told that it was the coffin of a Jewish man, the Prophet beautifully replied, “Was he not a soul?” He taught us that all lives have worth, and that every person has value in the eyes of God.

We may never forget the ache that has lived inside us for so long. And we shouldn’t. It has flowed in the veins of the strong men and women who fought for us to feel a sense of peace and belonging in this world. Our mothers and fathers who have been tested to the point death nestled itself in their throats, attempting to silence them from voicing against hate and injustice. Do not let their struggle be in vain. We will wait for justice. Justice that will soon come. We all share this commonality. Let this sense of hope consume our hearts instead of the anger. May the many Adams, Muhannads, and Mohamedtahas always be remembered.

oh lost soul, don’t despair

When you beg for Allah to guide you in a matter, you may not always perceive His response to be clear. Your understanding may be distorted by your desires, or your eyes may be blind to the truth that He has unveiled in front of you. But alhamdulillah, He is ever so merciful as to send you clarity, in a way that calms your greedy hands and softens your confused heart.

You must learn to look carefully at His signs, and understand that He always wants the best for you. You must assure your heart that His will is not one to lose faith in. See nothing but beauty and wisdom. Your affairs are in the hands of the One who is Most Loving and Most Wise.

my first asylum

Once I arrived at my long awaited destination, I attempted to open my eyes. I instantly regretted it, for I was welcomed by brightness that shot at me mercilessly. I closed my eyes and relied on my other senses to take everything in.

A layer of cold enveloped me and rudely left harsh goosebumps that raked every inch of my body. I then felt warmth and soaked in the heat that cradled me from the cold, but didn’t dare take a look. I heard voices, each tone laced with various emotions. I could tell the people around me were excited, and felt exposed with the unwanted attention. My senses were vivid, and I listened as the people around me made comments such as how precious and plump I was. Suddenly everything became too much to bear, and the blood in my body rushed to my cheeks as I flushed a bright red and let out a cry.

I needed an asylum. A home. Abruptly, I felt strong hands lift me up and lightly drop me into a pair of noticeably tired, yet protective arms. I was hungry and quite impatient, but those feelings were momentarily dulled the minute I felt wet tears dropping on my face. I was clearly aware of the impossibly large amount of love that was radiating from this particular person. I opened my eyes once again, fearing the light, but was instead shaded by a face that gazed adoringly at me. Feeling a curve that felt foreign to me grow slightly on my face, I took in my first real deep breath and knew I was with the happiest of them all: my mother.

it’s an odd relationship

“And He gave you from all you asked of Him. And if you should count the favor of Allah, you could not enumerate them. Indeed, mankind is (generally) most unjust and ungrateful.” —Surah Ibrahim [14:34]

My mind cannot wrap around the fact that the Most Merciful allows me to speak to Him, cry out to Him, and to ask of Him. I am not worthy.

Surely a sinner doesn’t deserve mercy? But Allah – whom none can compare to, is our Lord. Even though you feel most undeserving, He still gives. He smiles upon you, wishes the absolute best for you, and His sustenance for you never once falters — even for a bit. He accepts. He understands. He knows. He is the Most Merciful, even when you have foolishly turned away from Him.

Do not turn away from Him. Do not wrong your soul and instead, take a step towards the Ultimate Source of Love — unconditional and pure. Walk towards His mercy, care, understanding, and acceptance. And He promises to run towards you.