The Push & Pull of Writing

How can I consider myself a writer when I haven’t written in a while? When I’m having trouble picking up a pen (in reality, my laptop) and weaving words together in a way that is simply coherent?

I honestly struggle with feeling insecure about embracing the label of being a writer. It’s one of the reasons why I tend to be extremely hesitant to publicly share some of the things I write (ironic, huh?). Imposter syndrome is something that is spoken about frequently⁠, it isn’t anything new. Although it feels a little redundant bringing it up, I just can’t ignore it especially when I consistently wrestle with these thoughts.

I question myself often — if the very act of writing that I do is selfish. If it’s something that I use to make me feel better about myself. I wonder if a little part of me writes as a way of reassuring myself that, “Sure, I’m pretty decent at something.”

Writing has always been something I’ve admired. When I first picked up a book, I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that someone can create an entire world by using only words. I also clearly remember the first time I had the courage to write something substantial.

I was a complete die-hard fan of James Patterson’s Maximum Ride series. I mean, what kid wasn’t at the time? Every time my siblings and I would visit the library, the first thing that I would do was make a beeline towards the shelf that I knew held the colorful, glossy books.

One particular day, I reached the last page of one of the books and noticed that there was a writing competition being held. The competition entailed creating a filler chapter, and the winner could possibly have their piece published in the book itself. I can’t describe to you how I felt at that moment. How quickly my eyes grew wide, and how my petite 12-year-old frame literally shook with excitement.

Of course, I did what any sensible fan would do. I sat in front of the bright computer screen at home that day as my fingers glided across the keyboard, attempting to type each letter fast enough to keep up with the myriad of storylines racing in my mind. In order for me to have enough time to stay on the computer and write, I had to bribe my siblings with something I knew they couldn’t refuse. I would tell you what that thing exactly was at the time, but honestly I can’t remember. What I do remember though, is that it worked.

After I completed the chapter, I read and re-read what I had written, making sure no words were misspelled and whether or not the scenes I had created fit naturally with the story. I was super meticulous about it for a 12 year old, which is a little interesting to me now looking back. And I did feel nervous, very nervous. I wondered whether what I had written was going to do my favorite series justice.

Somehow, I managed to push all feelings of hesitation away and asked my dad if he could help print the page out for me. I then found an envelope in our house and with my mom’s help, scrawled the address on the front of the envelope, put our home address at the top and licked the envelope sealed.

To this day, I still remember the surprise I felt when I realized that I was actually allowed to write whatever idea came to my mind. That there were no specific rules to creative writing, and therefore — there was nothing holding me back. All I really had to do was sit…and write. With some adjusting here and there, I was in awe when the words on paper actually came to life.

Years have passed since that moment. I’ve gotten a few years older, had more life experiences. Like most people, I blamed college for sucking the love of reading for leisure out of me (since then, it’s been a process of re-learning how to love it).

But since that specific moment in my childhood, writing became everything to me. I’ve used writing as a keepsake for my memories and love the nostalgia that washes over me whenever I look back at what I had written.

It’s also been an outlet for me to pour my emotions into. There’ve been times when I’ve turned to writing when no one else listened — the scratch of my pencil against paper being the only thing I found comfort in.

I’ve jotted down odd ideas for potential stories and wrote poems that caused my toes to curl out of embarrassment. And unexpectedly, a few of those pieces that I was brave enough to share garnered positive reactions from people, which in turn gave my anxiety-ridden self a tiny bit of confidence.

Writing has always been a constant in my life when everything else around me was changing. It has always been something that was easily accessible, something that I could always rely on. Maybe the reason why I’ve been in this slump is because I’ve unknowingly taken advantage of something that I loved so dearly.

I’ve done this by writing only when it was convenient for me. I noticed that I began viewing writing merely as something that I might be good at. “A talent.” Unknowingly, and as time passed, I dismissed the fact that writing was actually something I consciously decided to work to improve on everyday and instead, I’ve become passive.

Every time I’ve sat down to write, it was a beautifully complicated process. A process that consisted of multiple failed attempts of formulating my thoughts into words, trying again and then somehow succeeding.

Whenever I found myself immersed in a piece that I’ve created, my love and curiosity for this entire process grew. When I chose to continue to write, it unconsciously turned from a talent I thought I had, to a skill that I actively practiced.

I’m continuing to learn that writing is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and I don’t ever want to stop. Without a doubt, I unequivocally dread the pauses — such as this weird interlude that I’ve found myself in, but I appreciate the lessons I learn from them.

Cheesily enough, I hope to someday be able to proudly take on the title of being a writer instead of shying away from it. I want to be unafraid in sharing my love for writing and dream of being able to live a life in which I spend all my time imagining and creating stories.

Finding Sakina (Tranquility) 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.

Steadfastness Is Our Superpower

I often used to wonder why people lost faith until I realized how easy it was to do so.  It’s so easy to fall off the right path. It’s easy to stop doing the right things, indulge and follow our desires.

Having the freedom to choose between right or wrong is difficult. I honestly sometimes wish we didn’t have that privilege. At times, I think of it as a burden.

A little part of me envies the Angels because they earn God’s pleasure with ease. They were created to worship Him, and they never once disobey Him.

Having the freedom to choose between right or wrong is difficult. I honestly sometimes wish we didn’t have that privilege.

Thinking this way though, I often forget that the Angels root for us. Despite our differences in creation, they are in awe every time we go against our nafs (self) and rush to worship.

There was once a moment when the Angels showed hesitance about our very existence. They asked God—out of pure curiosity, if He was really going to make a Creation that causes destruction and sheds blood on Earth. God responded by saying, He knows what they do not when it comes to the disposition of mankind.

I often forget that the Angels root for us.

Us humans are infamous for our constant forgetfulness. Interestingly enough, the word for human in Arabic is ‘insan.’ And the word that it is derived from is ‘nasiya’, which literally means ‘to forget.’

Now, remember the response that God gave to His Angels?

He knows what they do not.

This is a testament that God believes in us, day in and day out—every moment we mess up, every moment we forget. He clearly sees our potential, even when we may not. His presence never wavers, and He always waits for us to come back to Him when we turn away.

The good that we can do despite the distractions around us, is proof to the Angels every time. I always have to remind myself that the one whose love for God is greater than the desires that tug at their heart will be given gifts beyond measure.

The good that we can do despite the distractions around us is proof to the Angels every time.

When I see those struggling, or even leave faith—or at my weakest moments when my mind wanders to things that displease Him, those are the times that I tell myself I desperately need to keep striving. Because in a world that causes us to forget, faith is irreplaceable.

Honing Your Spiritual Wisdom In Times of 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 (Praise be to God), 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.

God & His Servant: 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.

Reconciling with Doing Something I Love & Feeling Unappreciated

There had been something in my life that I absolutely loved to do. I was excited to jump out of bed hours early just to plan out the day. I would go above and beyond the expectations because it made me beam with happiness inside. Sometimes, the things I would do would be unnecessary and over-the-top, I’ll admit, but I didn’t care. It was my love for this striving that blinded me from the idea of “doing just enough to get by.”

However, I wasn’t being noticed for what I was doing and that crushed my heart. It shouldn’t have, right?

I had to sit down and ask myself: did I expect something in return? Did I wish for a “thank you” or a pat on the back? Was this what I wanted? I shook my head so many times with distaste at my feelings.

The flutter in my chest every time I spoke about what I loved doing was not for others to appreciate me. It was because I needed this, it was what I wanted to do. The very thing that made me get up so early in the morning was passion—not the fascination of wanting to look good in front of others or wanting to be praised.

It took some time to digest this. When I did, this newfound thought helped me realize something else. Something that stopped the tears that traced down my scrunched-up and confused face in hurt.

Nothing we’ve ever given has gone unnoticed. Every sacrifice we’ve made, God has seen it. If no one acknowledges our hard work, the dedication and passion we put towards what we do, know that God acknowledges us. He knows all that we do and He will reward us with something so unimaginable that we’ll wonder why we craved others’ acknowledgements in the first place.

And maybe a part of that very reward in my case, and at that moment, was clarity. Learning to purify my intentions. This revelation helped me become grateful for this passion that was ignited within me. And also helped me realize that it can exist without needing to be fed by others’ recognition. It also gave be hope to continue to do what I love.

Hysterical | Poem

my heart cries,
smiles
and laughs
all at the same time
it doesn’t make sense.

my mind chooses not to block out the thoughts
instead it overworks itself,
overthinking being the culprit of it crashing
dizziness overtaking me
every time.

my eyes, searching
for a place far more homelier than here
where the stars shine brighter
and the moon glistens a color I don’t see anywhere else
where I breathe flowers,
and exhale
the words you spoke.

where the excitement in your voice
rings in my ears,
I cherish every moment.

instead I’m far,
trapped
my focus not quite
where I need it to be at times.

always running
towards the seemingly impossible,
quite unsure of what is to
come.

scared
hopeless
here, I feel lonely.

I know the cause
—I can’t help it.

these nails have ripped jagged,
aching lines into my heart.
these scars have long past formed
to be fixed.

and
I don’t know
what
I am to do

with my crying
smiling, laughing
hysterical heart
or with being so
far.

Rules of Life

I want to live by these four simple rules with hopes that they will enable me to be able to navigate certain situations and be more content with the unpredictable nature of life.

  1. There’s nothing wrong with going about things backwards sometimes.
  2. Happiness doesn’t always look the same for everyone.
  3. You can’t let others convince you that you are making a mistake every time your life takes a different route than theirs.
  4. Sometimes getting lost is the best way to get found again.

Beauty in Hardship: Faith

A man spoke of the Syrian refugee crisis.
He wondered why so many of the refugees relied on God’s help.
Why they had faith.

His heart ached.
He angrily proclaimed that God wasn’t there.
That the Syrians were crying out to no one,
Praying to a God who didn’t care enough to relieve them of their pain.
They needed to open their eyes.
They were latching on to false hope.

I thought hard about what this man was saying and almost nodded, in agreement until I caught myself. I remembered that there’s a bigger picture to everything.

We may not know why things happen. We question things, hang onto the whys, ifs and buts, and claim feverishly that it isn’t fair. It’s  natural reaction. However, doing this will not benefit us nor will it change the situation.

Our minds may not be able to comprehend the things God does. But His names and attributes tell us that things happen for a reason, and despite how horrible a situation may seem, there is always a reason.

We can accept it, have a positive outlook and always remember that He always wants the best for each and every one of us. He knows what we do not. And if we understand that, it’ll be easier to let go and let God—do our part to help in any way we can, and then let Him handle our affairs in the best way possible.

I’ll admit that this is difficult to do but not impossible. Ultimately there is no one better to leave the matters of your life to than He who gave you life. Knowing the attributes of God and who He is will suffice you through your hardships. There is wisdom beyond our imagination in His work.

The Syrian people must already know this.

Heart of a Warrior | Poem

It doesn’t seem very real
until seeing someone
a person who I hold
dearly to my heart
a person who has
fought my fights and patched up
my four year old dresses

and when life gets its way
trying with all my might
to attack the stings
of built up emotion
she holds me tight
embracing me in her warmth
and softly caresses
the pinks of my cheeks
wiping the army of tears
that spill mercilessly
easily clearing the pathway to victory
and tells me over and over again
waan ku jecelahay” – “I love you”

seeing that beautiful,
powerful, amazing woman
who grew up with nothing
was gifted with everything
only to lose what
she has worked so hard for

the proof in her calloused,
rough hands
her face, lines carved into
the corners of her eyes and mouth
her once imprinted smile
admired by many
hated by some, faded
replaced with regret
replaced with sadness
replaced with everything
she didn’t deserve

but no matter how dark it may seem
the sleepless nights you go through
the nightmares itching themselves
into your slumber
the loneliness you feel
the nagging, self-destroying thoughts
eating at your mind
don’t

I know you have scars
that keep you reminiscing
about days when
loud voices would echo the walls
the stories you tell me where
you slept on cold, hard floors
bruises that remind you
of the evil in people
misplaced trust and misconstrued words
aimed at no one in particular
—in particular they were aimed at love
and destroyed your very being

nights where you would cry
until your eyes swelled shut
stress making itself home
on your shoulders
adding on to the burden you have to carry
making it heavier
than it already is

yet your love
has been unconditional
never unlearned
just sometimes misunderstood

I don’t know what gave you
the strength to keep going
you separated yourself
from things that didn’t fit
your course of living,
you opened your heart to now

you might’ve been broken
even shattered before
but now there’s only a small tear

sometimes it hurts you—yes
seemingly you feel that
your heart cannot bear the pain
it dares to fall out
and shatter once again
into a million pieces

but I’m here, we’re here
and that is the greatest blessing of all
no matter how many more heartbreaks
you’ve gone through
there are probably more
waiting at your door

you’ve taught me that
you come to realize
along the way
past the pain
that life is great
and love is not so bad


This is my first completed poem that I’ve written. It’s a little emotional and is probably all over the place, I’ll admit. Originally it was meant to be performed as a spoken word piece but something came up (I want to promise that it wasn’t stage fright—though I’d be lying).