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

with love & high expectations He created you

For the last couple of years, I’ve been feeling as though I’ve been weirdly stuck in a sheltered bubble. Everything that bubble encompassed has undeniably shaped my mind and character. Surrounding myself around things that were comfortable, has set limits on myself and what I can be. It has done more harm than good. Realizing this reality, I’ve come to learn a few things:

1) There is so much out there.

There are many people in this world waiting to meet you. There are numerous places waiting to be explored by you. Every conversation will affect you. Every experience will make you question and grow. Change will allow you to have a new perspective on things that you might’ve been stubborn about for a really long time.

2) Constantly look at the condition of your soul.

Is what you see beautiful enough to be worthy of God’s most beautiful gifts? Learn to ask yourself every day, “Have I used the ability to love—which God has given me, to love Him in the correct way?” This is extremely important. Everything comes from Him. He is the source of all the good we seek in this world and the next. To want good, and to claim to deserve good, it is only right to love and show gratitude to the Most Great first and foremost. Let the love of God take up more room in your heart than any other temporary person/idea/thing.

3) Your mind is ever-expanding.

It takes time for a person to finally form their personality and everything about themselves (hopefully for the better!). The biggest theme of life is self-betterment. God has given us all a specific personality and certain traits to make a change and impact in this world. You have to dig deep and look for it.

4) Always work on becoming the best version of yourself.

Life is a journey; to win the battle against your nafs (soul) and to reach your potential. You are the creation of God, the One Who Loves you abundantly and with no limits. Do not set limits on yourself.

#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.

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.

revelation

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, but I didn’t care. It was my love for this striving that blinded me from the trend of “doing just enough to get by.” Alhamdulillah.

However, I wasn’t being noticed for what I was doing —and that crushed my heart. It shouldn’t have. 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 craved? I shook my head with distaste at my attitude and how I was reacting to the current, and unfortunate (in my eyes) circumstance.

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 looking good in front of others or being praised. This newfound thought made me realize something. Something that calmed 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, Allah has seen it. If no one acknowledges our hard work, the dedication and passion we put towards what we do, know that Allah 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 that very reward in my case, and at that very moment, was clarity. Pure intention. Igniting a passion within me that can exist without needing to be fed by simple words of appreciation from man. And hope, to continue to do what I love.