A Heart in Turmoil: My Conversation With Myself

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ

I am sitting in front of my iMac, blinking and staring blankly at the screen, my fingers poised atop the keyboard.

Do it. Just write. Anything. It will be cathartic, insha’Allah.

Yes, but I cannot write ‘anything’. If I were to write down and publish all of my thoughts here, on my blog, I know that they will cause offense to many.

And since when did the approval, pleasure and praise of people begin to matter so much to you?

…Sadaf, are you a becoming a munafiq?

I freeze as my hearts skips a beat. Tears well up in my eyes until they balance on the edge of my lower lids.

I blink. The tears roll down my cheeks.

But which one of my often socially scandalous thought processes should I blog about this time? I ask.

You know, if offending readers is such a concern for you, you might probably just be doing this – this blogging – for the publicity. For the ego boost it gets you. Perhaps you want to become like all those “celebrity” sheikhs and sheikha’s on Facebook and Twitter? Do you desire a high number of Likes, Fans, Connections, Followers and Shares? You probably thrive on the number of page views and blog subscriptions that you’ve amassed over the years. I mean, isn’t that why you check your blog stats?

I let out a sigh as I shake my head in refusal. I seek refuge in Allah from riya–  the minor shirk.

I copy-paste the “بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ” on top of the new blog post text editor section, as I usually do when I begin a new post. I click on “Save Draft”.

The screen reappears. Blank.

Write about whatever you are pondering on nowadays. Has anything struck you during your daily Quran recitation?

My head nowadays is a mass of confusion that only fuels my inner battle and turmoil.

I am addicted to reading. I read news articles and blog posts daily, but most of them leave me with a sense of despair and grief.

Which is why I have even begun to avoid signing in to Facebook since a few weeks, because of the disconnect that I feel more and more, which exists on there, between virtual and physical reality.

For example, I might know 2 people who have never liked each other in person (no exaggeration), and yet, on Facebook they act like they have been best of friends since childhood! Plus, it seems like it has become a ‘commercial’ portal or marketplace more than ever now, with everyone (and I do mean everyone) advertising or promoting some brand, business, or product.

It is now as if, like, you should turn to Facebook more if  you are a marketer of a business, less if you are an individual wanting to connect with real people.

But wait, I digress. Even some individuals are using Facebook to ‘market’ themselves, because they have, in and of themselves, also become a ‘brand’ that ‘sells’ to an audience.

Plus, there are a few ones online on Facebook all the time, who are totally different in real life to what they appear to be on screen. And that literally makes me cringe.

Are you one of these too? Coming off online as someone you are not?

crashing-wavesA deluge of thoughts rushes through my head, causing a myriad of emotions in my heart that seem to crash forcefully against its walls, like massive sea waves crashing against rocks.

I think of the young niqabi Muslim girl who was recently attacked in France, allegedly causing her to lose her unborn baby.

My poor sister! Oh Allah! Help her, ease her sorrow and compensate her. Ameen.

I have been thinking a lot about what happened to her recently. Actually, I couldn’t stop thinking about her for a couple of days straight, after I read this heart-breaking news. I tried to imagine myself in the same situation: being physically persecuted for wearing the niqab, a little piece of garment that I absolutely love wearing when I am out and about.

That young girl had the pluck to actually go out wearing niqab in a country where she knew that she might even be attacked for wearing it! I am sure she knew that she wasn’t safe.

And yet she went out wearing what she wanted to wear, for the sake of Allah.

Admiring her guts to wear niqab in a country like France, my thoughts inadvertently wander to some of the profile photos I have been viewing on Facebook in the recent few years.

You see, the irony is that, while some sisters might risk even their physical safety to go on wearing the niqab, just because they love wearing it and do not want to ever stop, there are many others who possess the complete freedom and lack of fear to do so, yet lose their desire to continue wearing it.

10-12 years ago, some sisters posing in those Facebook profile photos that send me on an introspective quest for answers, were ardent niqabi’s too, who also more than willingly wore swirling, billowing jilbabs atop their everyday clothing whenever they went out.

As I view their photos now – their bright, flashy, toothy smiles, the jilbab and niqab no where in sight, as they pose for the camera standing in public places wearing snug pants and headscarves that struggle to stay firmly upon their heads, I wonder: “O Allah, will I some day do this too? Will I also stop wearing the niqab and jilbab that I love so much? Will my heart also change?”

I shudder as my heart fills with dread. The hollow feeling accompanied by chest pain is back.

And right now, I am not even talking about those sisters who have stopped even covering their heads, despite having started hijab with much zeal 13 years ago, when they were students of the Quran.

My thoughts wander to those “sheikh’s” who give daleel’s (Shari` proofs) allowing Muslim women to not wear niqab in some places in the world, and not even black, full-length jilbabs, as this attire heightens for them the risk of persecution and physical harm.

I appreciate their concern for their sisters’ physical well-being, but have they forgotten that Allah’s earth is vast?

Alright, so the niqab can be taken off, according to them. But what about the pants that reveal the shape of the legs?, I wonder, as I recall a photograph of a heavily pregnant, A-list Hollywood celebrity sporting a flowing maxi dress that not just covered her feet, but also successfully hid even the shadow of the shape of her torso and legs from becoming too apparent in daylight.

Why can’t these sisters wear such maxi dresses under long, loose coats, jackets, tunics/shrugs, or poncho’s? – I ask myself.

Stop judging others! Their actions should not be your concern. Write!

I scratch off from my mental topic checklist, my deep musings on how much I love donning my black/near-black niqab and jilbab as my next blog post title.

Too self-righteous, narcissistic and self-glorifying. The black ant on the black stone in the black night.

After all, I can think of at least 4-5 sisters whom such a blog post would surely offend – e.g. the one who has worn niqab since the past 15 years but is now considering taking it off.

And the one who used to wear even gloves and socks, but has now not just taken them and her niqab off, but has also posted a closeup photograph of her face with her teeth flashing in a big, happy smile on all her online profiles.

And the one who wants to take off her hijab (head-cover) because it makes her feel like a hypocrite amongst her ‘friends’.

And the one who has multiple dimensions to her ‘religious’ personality, which take over her in turns, depending on which social setting she is in: the Quran class she teaches, or the yuppy office luncheon she attends at an upscale cafe with her colleagues.

You munafiq, you have begun to fear people! You don’t want to write about what displeases or pleases Allah, out of the fear that it will cause the disapproval of – and eventual estrangement from – some of your ‘friends’? Shame upon you. And, by the way, are they really your ‘friends’ if they stop meeting you socially just because you say or write things that make them feel guilty for adopting a different, so-called ‘interpretation’ of their religion? ‘Friends like these, you are better off without.

I let out a sigh. I don’t know. “Losing” my so-called “friends” is actually nothing new for me. Perhaps I am self-righteous and judgmental in addition to being a munfiqah!

I smile wryly as I think of how A’ishah bint Abi Bakr was slandered all over Madinah. That incident left her with only the sincere people in her life by her side. Allah sifted out for her the gems from among the stones by causing her to endure the incident of ifk. To this day, she has a dedicated set of ‘Muslims’ who send curses upon she and her father in congregations, has she not? As if that deterred her from becoming one of the greatest women in Islamic history, one who won the heart of the one most beloved to Allah Himself, at a time when he had many other wives.

Yeah, so thank Allah for the insincerity of those ‘friends’ who turn away from you just because you say or write things that remind them of the pleasure or displeasure of Allah, or make them feel guilty. 

I plonk my head down on my desk, my fingers dribbling on the desktop, as my toddler wanders around my feet, playing with her stuffed toys.

Write already, will you? Okay, forget about blogging about your emotional turmoil when one of your friends stops wearing the hijab, jilbab or niqab. That would be ‘too judgmental’ of you, in your opinion, and you have no right to judge, eh? So write about anything else that bothers you nowadays. Is there anything else?

I nod, head still on desk (which is a bit awkward for my nose, ha!).

Atheism and apostasy.

I try to ignore the sudden pain in my chest as my heart once again starts to roll around inside it, seemingly writhing with convulsions, as I recall the rate at which ‘normal’ people like myself are not just leaving Islam, but also recording their offensive, hate-filled, anti-religion and anti-“God” rants online, on public Twitter profiles that I have had the ill luck of perusing (because I am addicted to reading, you see, as I said before).

No! I cannot write about that. By blogging about this shocking trend, I will be actually promoting it. Call me an ostrich hiding its head in the sand, but I can not publish that kind of stuff on my blog. Okay?

Next!

But you already have, you half-wit! Whats wrong with you?

Maybe I am losing it. Perhaps I am going bonkers faster than I am becoming a munafiq.

Oh Allah, my heart hurts!

Sigh. You know, we are fast running out of blog post title ideas. Anything else you find yourself musing about?

Oh yeah. The joint family issues, as usual. The oppression that goes on behind the deceptively serene walls of Muslim homes, in the name of respect and obedience to elders. The multiple real-life incidents and cases that married girls, who are trapped inside their in-laws’ homes with only an internet connection providing them relief and a temporary illusion of escape, keep emailing me about.

Been there, done that. What will blogging further about that achieve? Its not like the docile, oppressed wives will get their guts up to be honest with their in-laws about their desire for a separate home, nor will their spineless husbands get the nerve up to support them in the face of the ensuing backlash, the way they stand up for, say, their office shirts being ironed properly, or their food being served on time! Anything else?

Well, there are many more things I find myself thinking about.

Such as increasing homosexuality, rampant killings and murders (especially in the strife-riddled areas of the East), and the way Muslims living in the East and those living the West tend to, sometimes, demonize each other in their sincere criticism of each other’s shortcomings or mistakes of ideology, instead of remaining united and agreeing to disagree, e.g. about the issue of wala and bara.

Those in the East call out those in the West for being apologists and sell-outs; for being more concerned about what the kuffar think of them than about the open and widespread butchering of their Muslim brethren in other countries, – outright ignoring the enormous amount of good work that the Muslims in the West are doing for Islam.

At the same time, Muslims in the East cannot seem to stop killing each other, or visiting graves to supplicate to dead saints for help and provision (أعوذ بالله). If the masajid in the Muslim-majority East are thronging on Fridays, so are the cemented graves and mausoleums of dead saints.

Muslims in the West, on the other hand, might be largely free from the filth of major shirk, rampant killings, innovation in religion (bid’ah), and sectarian divisions, but they are plagued with other vices, such as the increase in apostasy and atheism in their youth; open homosexuality and state-sanctioned gay marriages; the indisputable love and loyalty that those Muslims who are born among them harbor for the nonbelievers amongst whom they are raised; and their high level of tolerance for social immoralities such as nudity, public displays of affection, and alcohol consumption.

Both, the Muslims in the East as well as those in the West, have so much good in them, yet they seem to dislike each other more than they do those of the kuffar who kill Muslims (I will not apologize for, or desist from calling the kuffar just that: “kuffar“!), – all of which literally pains my heart and brings tears to my eyes!

[Silence]

And the way homosexuality is not just on the rise among Muslims, but also (more alarmingly) how there are many among us Muslims who demand sympathy and ‘support’ for this diseased condition. I mean, have they forgotten that the wife of Prophet Lut (عليه السلام) was annihilated along with the entire lust-driven, defiantly sinful community of ‘fags’ that she lived in, only because she was a homosexual sympathizer?

Oh my, am I also turning into a ‘homophobe’ just like Prophet Lut? Tut tut! How scandalous that I am marginalizing, ‘judging’ and ‘shaming’ Muslims for having same-sex urges. I shouldn’t judge!

Perhaps if one day I started having the urge to kill my family members, I should also seek “support” and “sympathy” from the Muslim ummah (not to mention, a separate mosque for others like me to pray in) for this ‘natural’ condition, and blame anyone who makes me feel guilty for wanting to kill off my husband, kids, parents or siblings, as being judgmental and self-righteous!

Stop being sarcastic. You are funny. 🙂

No, you are quite useless nowadays, you so-called Nafs Al-Lawwaamah! My confusion is so disturbing because you haven’t been doing your job properly. Wrong appears to be right, and right appears to be wrong.

Perhaps I should just emigrate to some rural, mountainous region and take residence there with a herd of cows until the Angel of Death comes for my soul?

It’s sheep, not cows. And you’re forgetting that the electronic devices that you’ll take along with you, will still allow you to read what is going on in the world. And your heart will still bleed as a result of what you read.

Sigh. You are right. I think I just need a break from writing. All praise to Allah that Ramadan is almost upon us. I need to cut myself off, tear myself away from all this disturbing stuff, and dive deep into reconnecting with Allah during this glorious month.

Good idea.

So I guess I will be seeing you after 6 weeks or so?

What are you saying? I will be right with you throughout Ramadan, because you’ll need me for repenting for your sins.

Stop being smug.

Haha!

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12 thoughts on “A Heart in Turmoil: My Conversation With Myself

  1. Salam sister Sadaf
    Don’t let the ills of the world bring you down. With all that’s going on in France, the east or west, life is still filled with good. But the good has no news network and doesn’t travel the “interwebs” very well.
    Have a Mubarak Ramadan!

  2. nice u got it all off ur chest :D, now hopefully u’ll relax while waiting for those feared fiery responses that might fill your comments section :), there could be complete silence too. but does take a lot of courage to write controversial stuff esp when u know that the mentioned ppl will read it as well. so kudos u did ur job well.
    the world is definitely becoming more hypocritical by the day, and i’m sure there are very few muslims whose hearts dont bleed for their kind, due to the circumstances they are facing. Two current events that you might have forgotten here are the situation in Syria and of the Guatanamo prisoners. They infact top my list.
    khair i hope Allah shows mercy on Muslims as they themselves dont have the ability or the desire to do it

  3. SubhanAllah you have said what I feel a lot of lately. *sigh*

    It seems the more you try & find & connect to the *right* ppl / sisters Allah keeps showing you that the time is here where we are strangers! Soon enough it will be better to be a shepherd out with the sheep ( or cows ,;)) in a valley then amongst the ppl.

    There are so many of not just th minor signs but major signs before Qiyaamah showing up & yet we are still not paying attention to them. When will the ummahs eyes start opening?

    Hasbunallahu wa ni’mal Wakeel.

  4. Whew, That’s a lot. In my house we call this “Busy Brain.” SO many thoughts and emotion and conflict…So I have 2 things to say. 1) Personally, I take periodic “breaks” from Facebook. I announce to myself and my friends (as such) I am taking a week off – enjoy without me. They do. And my mind clears a little. Sometimes a break from the news is a good idea too.
    2) You are right to remind yourself, you can only be responsible for you.
    I say this to you because I have to say it to me all of the time.
    We come from very different backgrounds, you and I , but I understand what you say here and feel the pain of the world like you do.

  5. Asalamoalekum, Sadaf jee you are vry cute, what you r going through is part of our growing process till one day things stop hurting us as much. Thats why it is said that the younger you are the more warmth of eman is in ur heart mashaAllah. May Allah giv guidance to all of us Ameen.

  6. so much from wats on my mind these days too…only as i was through the first thought…i said to myself…ohh sumone finally has the courage to put this across..bt then it just turned into a series of thoughts…i think each one of your thought should b addresses in a separate blog…offend whoever it may…bt this needs to be addressed….for may b Allah has written guidance for sumone at ur hand…inshaAllah

  7. Asalaamu Alaikum dear sister

    SubhanAllaah, you have hit the mark. This is the first time I stumbled upon your blog. The reason it got to me was because of the changes you mentioned people can go through in life. You can start off as someone who dedicates their whole day to reading quraan and going to tafsir classes in the weekend, wearing gloves and full black niqaab to someone who struggles to now doing the basic faraa’id. And I remember when I saw sisters going down from the spiritual high to simply being unrecognizable- I thought how could they let themselves go? But I realized that it takes years of small trials and big trials in life, and if those trials aren’t met with even greater worship, that they will eventually start chipping away your eeman.

    Do the people think that they will be left to say, “We believe” and they will not be tried?

    But We have certainly tried those before them, and Allah will surely make evident those who are truthful, and He will surely make evident the liars. [ Surah Ankabut]

    And those trials will indeed come- and they won’t stop until you breath your last. Imaam Ahmad was on his deathbed with his son beside him. Imaam Ahmad would pass out time to time- lingering in the world of life and death. At one point, his son reported that his father exclaimed “Not yet. Not yet!” His son became worried as to why his father would want to live longer. When his father gained consciousness- he asked his father why he didn’t want to die as he kept saying ‘Not yet’. Imaam Ahmad replied ” In the corner of the room, I saw shaytaan standing and biting his hand while repeating ‘You have won Ahmad, You have won Ahmad’, I was replying to him that that ‘not yet’ as long as I am breathing I do not know if I have won the battle against him. As he can still tempt me away at my last breath”

    SubhanAllaah..it is very scary if you ponder over it. You never know what your state will be when you die. And may Allaah protect us from nifaaq Ameen

  8. Salaam alaykum

    Its best to use facebook for religious purpose and being connected to family n friends once a while.getting too close to ladies never works really,we get too personal and very demanding.its not safe nor nice for deen.

  9. Asalamu’alaykum
    inshallah may this message reach you whilst you are in the best of health and iman.

    Dearest sister reading your story I realised how similar we are in character and life trials. What I summed up from reading your article is that this is life and Allah allows us to experience such hardship and turmoil because the body of a muslim was not created to enjoy this life rather the next is where we live surely live and rest bithnillah.
    And remember dearest sis, the prophet saw said ..and hour of pure contemplation of Allah and the blessings He has bestowed upon us is better than x amount of years of prayer/worship. Please forgive me as i dont have the hadith in mind.
    Iv come to realise that Allah removes the obstacles in ones life in the form of friends, loved ones, job or achievment etc….because really and truly some people in our lives blind our view of the real meaning of life this Allah does us a favor by removing them…how many times has Allah prevented something that we so dearly loved ..but years down the line after the tears and heartbreak we realised that Alhamdulillah they were removed…!!
    Which reminds me of a saying of Umar ra who said everything good and bad is good for the believer for we wake up not in knowing what is good for us or what is bad.
    May Allah grant us the tawfiiq and purity and hikma to make sense of this world and to prioritize that which is of great importance and more weighty in its reward. Jannah ameen.

    Your sister
    Umm Hajar Hadramawti

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