بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ

I don’t know what I would do, if I did not have the Qur’an as my source of guidance and solace in life.

As I meander myself, guarding my thoughts and actions, in a turbulent world plunging more and more into confusion & turmoil with the passage of time, I cling desperately to my personal sessions of deep reflection upon the Qur’an.

And by the grace of Allah, I always find answers; a new one each time.

Life used to be comparatively so much simpler, merely a decade or so ago. Or so it seems to me! Time is now bringing greater global changes in quick succession, resulting in progression that is faster than ever before in world history.

However, those who choose to live in their self-absorbed little bubbles, even today, do not seem to realize this. Ignorance is bliss, is it not? Just blocking out all the chaos works temporarily. It does help to bury one’s head into the ground like an ostrich, as it keeps out the confusion.

For a while. Until you need to take your head out of the sand again.

The Kinds of Confusions We Face

As far as I can see, mankind in different parts of the world similarly experiences 3 main categories of events and issues, on personal as well as communal fronts, which cause human beings to ponder upon the reality of the life of this world, and seek God.

Harvey
image: http://www.eastbaytimes.com

(i) The first is catastrophic natural disasters and accidents that cause crises of epidemic proportions.

Hurricanes, earthquakes, outbreaks, and sudden accidental deaths of near & dear ones are examples of such.

These events leave us dazed with trauma, shock, and pain. When death and destruction are caused on a large scale, we wonder:

“Why?”

Why did all those innocent people and animals have to die like this, all of a sudden?

Why did cities & communities that got built over so many years, have to get destroyed in mere hours or days? Why would “God” allow this?

(ii) The second category of jarring events that wake us up from our self-indulgent slumbers, is political oppression, war, invasions, violent protests, upheavals, and killings. Violence among human beings has been going on throughout history: man fighting with and killing man, for whatever reason, in groups.

Nevertheless, actions of governments that cause widespread suffering and injustice towards a group of people leave us depressed and disturbed. The types and targets of this injustice by those occupying positions of political authority continue to change over time, as governments change and seats of power over the masses switch from one person or group to another.

But the killing still causes confusion, anger, and depression.

(iii) The third type is the personal innate struggle regarding “God”, which human beings encounter daily. This involves their own thoughts, beliefs, and desires.

This is a silent and private tussle, which goes on inside our brains, hearts, and souls. Our doubts, insecurities, wishes, desires, and fears clash with our innate beliefs, feelings, convictions, and emotions about the reality of the life of this world, the purpose behind our creation, and the truth about what happens after we die.

This struggle embodies our individual quest for achieving closeness to God: finding Him, holding on to Him, and not going astray henceforth.

We wonder why we were born, what is the purpose of our existence, and where will we go after we die?

What to Do?

Like I said, if I were to spend the rest of my days in sujood (prostration) of gratitude to Allah for having granted me the knowledge of, and a connection to, His glorious word, — the Qur’an, — it would not be enough!

I just don’t know what I would have done without the Qur’an, and how I would survive in today’s chaotic world, if I did not have my faith.

But I do know that not all human beings have this blessing; that many are still struggling daily to try to make sense of it all.

Here is a list of things that, in my opinion, mainly divert us from finding the true guidance in life that can lead us to Allah:

Escapism

First of all, if you are above 40 and still living in a bubble from the past i.e. your life is exactly the same as it was 20 years ago, & you are going on about your personal affairs without any concern for what is happening to people in the rest of the world, you are perhaps subconsciously engaging in escapism.

Some of us do this by drowning ourselves in entertainment: friends, movies, parties, fitness regimens, clubbing, and traveling solo & impromptu (usually this is done by youngsters aged 12 – 35). Others do it through workaholicism: drowning themselves in what they do for a living (this is usually done by those aged 35- 65), in such a way that they have little time for anything else. Yet others do it by engaging in philanthropy and humanitarian social work (usually done by seniors aged 65+), because it makes them feel fruitful and productive.

Whatever our age, time and again, all of us, encounter soul-stirring circumstances in life that serve as abrupt wake-up calls that make us seek God again.

They tear us away from the escapist activities that we were engaging in in order to not have to face the recurring internal questions about the life of this world, and our role in it, which our parched souls keep throwing our way.

Reality vs Propaganda

After every few days, some greatly disturbing news about a catastrophic & violent event reaches us via our news feeds.

But get one thing right: information broadcast on news and digital media does not always paint the correct picture about any situation or event, no matter where it happens around the world, and what it is about.

Watching the news and/or engaging in social media all day is not the answer to the problems of the world, nor will talking about it and expressing our opinions about them make these problems go away.

But most of us still do this.

Wise is the person who ponders upon the reality of the life of this world, and seeks answers to his or her questions about God from theright sources, instead of discussing the latest global news events with others just to vent, then going off to engage in distracting escapist activities again.

Illusions & Delusions

Another very important fact to remember: the things that we see in the world, with our own eyes, are also not always what they appear to be.

Truths and realities are hidden under the surface, often deceptively masked, or completely camouflaged. But they can be discovered if one digs deeper under the surface, striving to seek out the truth. I have already blogged about the different kinds of illusions and how they are caused.

By default, unless we are careful, we tend to believe only what we see. We also get deluded by these illusions, the more we gaze at them. This is dangerous, as it leads to misguidance.

instagram
image: http://www.androidtipster.com

A prime example of this (and one that is growing in proportions day by day, thanks to the explosion of digitally altered, visibly appealing content, particularly on social media) is our perception of celebrities & famous people who are appear to be successful.

We perceive them to have fortunate, happy lives, and perfect personas, but nothing could be further from the truth!

Celebrity culture and news is one of the biggest illusions today. But because of the common masses’ incessant fixation with it, it fuels a multi-billion dollar entertainment & publishing industry that works round-the-clock to maintain and uphold this deceptive illusion of happiness, fortune, and success.

Wise is the person who stays far away from these illusions fueled by falsehood.

Points of Action

I want to keep this short. So let’s hope I succeed (Heh! Yeah right. :)):

  • As the world succumbs to the 24/7 content explosion, try to consciously reduce the time you spend watching/reading the news, and gazing at social media updates. This includes knowledge-boosting articles and books as well. Just take it easy with taking in content of any sort.
    Guard your eyes, ears, souls, and brains. Meticulously.
  • Carefully — very, very carefully — pick and choose who & what you watch, read, or follow/subscribe to. Whether it is Instagram, YouTube, Forbes, LinkedIn, or any other platform (news, social media, or content portal) — do not follow just anybody and everybody.
    The “influencers”, group, community, or organization that you follow will be the one deciding what you think about & believe in, and how you will feel every day.
    Steer clear of celebrities! Especially actors, fashion models, musicians, and all other “artists” — those who grace the covers of “fluff”-publishing glossies and tabloids.
  • After weeding out all the useless stuff, read & reflect upon the Qur’an every single day, and ask God to guide you. This applies even if you are not a Muslim. The Arabic text of the Qur’an has not changed by even a single letter in over 1400 years, which makes it the most unique writ in the whole history of mankind!
    Surely, it deserves your attention?
  • Cut out — without hesitation, a second thought, or an apology — all those people in your circle, who bring you down, make you feel unworthy, dampen your spirits, spoil your mood, or otherwise cast any kind of dark shadow on your life. If they are close, reduce your communication and contact with them, but continue to sporadically do good to them in distant, indirect ways.
    Just curtail their influence upon your life completely, and do not feel guilty about it! You will experience positive spiritual things happening to you very soon, by the will of Allah.
  • Maintain a balance between the following life spheres: knowledge, leisure (halal entertainment), work (livelihood), self, spirituality, and socialization. Be careful not to overindulge in any one of them. Maintain a delicate balance.
  • Whichever faith or school of thought you belong to, whenever the confusing and disturbing events around the world get you down and dishearten you, just call out to God and talk to Him in whispers, in the complete privacy of your room. Ask Him to guide you to the right path, and to give you inner peace.
  • Avoid arguments and debates, especially about politics, at all costs. There are too many talks shows, panel discussions, dialogues, & debates going around the world already. No need to add to them unless you have a specific, positive purpose in mind that you wish to achieve.
    If you wish to engage in a fruitful discussion (online or in-person) in order to seek answers to deep & meaningful questions, make sure you seek the right person to do it with.
  • If you have faith in God, and are acting upon Islam with ease, steadfastness, and a total lack of major doubts, I sincerely advise you to hold on to this faith and to protect it with every ounce of willpower and material resources that you possess!
    Because this is the one blessing that is being lost more quickly and easily, everywhere around the world, than any other blessing that exists.

Narrated Abu Sa`id al-Khudri: Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said, “There will come a time when the best property of a man will be sheep which he will graze on the tops of mountains and the places where rain falls (i.e. pastures), escaping to protect his religion from afflictions.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]

Conclusion: As Cultures Converge, Geographical Boundaries Are Fading Away

You are deluded if you think that living in a certain place/country on earth, and acquiring its nationality, will guarantee you permanent happiness, peace, provision, and security. Perhaps Madinah, Saudi Arabia is one exception to that rule, but we know that even the Ka’bah will be destroyed one day, before the end of times.

Sure, each one of us has personal preferences as far as living somewhere is concerned. Some of us choose to live as ethnic and religious (persecuted) minorities, while others have no choice but to migrate, because of oppressive governments.

That is precisely why Allah’s earth is so vast and diverse. But forget it if you think that security is permanently present in any part of the world!

The inner peace, physical security, and abundant livelihood that you pursue as you hop from one country of the world to another, is fleeting everywhere, and it changes in nature according to time & place.

For example, your wealth and children might be physically “safe” somewhere, but your peace of mind and faith won’t be.

Elsewhere, your faith & health might be safe, but your wealth, children, and occupation might not be. And so on.

Hope you get the drift!

As we pass through life, trying to tick all the boxes: health, safety, security, occupation, education, children, career, home, faith, and spirituality (and not necessarily in that order), we tend to hop from one city or country to another, as our needs related to these boxes change with time.

But at the end of the day, we all should just get one thing entrenched into our heads: there is no inner peace for the soul, except with true, sincere faith in Islam. And there is no permanent security from the ever-present dangers in this world — except with death!

Anas bin Malik narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Before the Hour, there shall be tribulations like a portion of the dark night.
Morning will come upon a man as a believer, who will be a disbeliever in the evening. And evening will come upon a believer, who had been a disbeliever in the morning.
People will sell their religion in return for goods of the world.” [Jami` Al-Tirmidhi]

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6 thoughts on “Trying to Make Sense of it All

  1. Salaam Sr. Sadaf, It’s always a pleasure to read your articles and one question always bothers me but I never dared asked. you mentioned:

    [quote start]
    Cut out — without hesitation, a second thought, or an apology — all those people in your circle, who bring you down, make you feel unworthy, dampen your spirits, spoil your mood, or otherwise cast any kind of dark shadow on your life. If they are close, reduce your communication and contact with them, but continue to sporadically do good to them in distant, indirect ways.
    Just curtail their influence upon your life completely, and do not feel guilty about it! You will experience positive spiritual things happening to you very soon, by the will of Allah.
    [quote end]

    My question is how do you cut out from a close relation like husband exhibiting all the negative qualities you mentioned above?

    May Allah always protect you and bless your family.
    Jazak Allah Khair,
    Your sister in Islam

    1. Wa alaikum ussalam. May Allah make things easy for you. Your question is very relevant, sister.

      Unfortunately, such husbands are commonly found in most “cultural” Muslim marriages. Misogyny is a reality. Insecure and dominating husbands are particularly expert at controlling their wives and disallowing them from achieving anything worthwhile besides servile domesticity, even if the wife has a lot of extra time and a truckload of natural talents on her hands. It is always easier to live with a woman who is a doormat. 🙂

      Only a secure, confident, Allah-fearing, and mentally mature husband can provide his wife with the motivation, support, and push she needs to achieve something beyond the boundaries of her home, IF she can handle the extra workload easily. He also has to have trust in her to be able to do this.

      The good news is that, in many marriages, trust is a mere matter of time. Most husbands who would not allow their wives to even step foot outside the house unaccompanied during the first decade of marriage, wouldn’t bat an eyelid if she even opens up her own business at the 2-decade mark. This is because, by then, she has “proved” her loyalty to him, by giving birth to his ‘x’ number of children and raising them well.

      Also, it is a historic fact that many husbands cannot tolerate the thought of their wives becoming more successful than them. So they disallow her from doing anything at all. But having a wife work is not always about earning money, or “proving herself”. It is also about making best use of her spare time.

      Having a halal & fulfilling freelance career that keeps her productively occupied in her spare time is the best thing that a wife can achieve, instead of whiling away her spare time engaging in gossip, watching television, reading “fluff”, or aimlessly socializing.

      To answer your question:

      1. She will have to fight a mental battle with herself in order to “block” out his negativity. Her faith, willpower & trust in/close contact with Allah will serve as her main weapons.

      2. She will have to strive to prevent the negative attitude of her husband, and his lack of confidence in her skills, from affecting her self-esteem and confidence in herself. This can only happen if she mentally “cuts off” the connection between his opinion of her, and her opinion of her own self. It is possible to do this.

      3. She should fulfill all her roles and duties in her marriage only for the sake of Allah, irrespective of her husband’s feelings. For example, if she keeps the home clean & decorated simply, but he still criticizes her lack of home-decor skills because they are dated, she should prevent the snub from affecting her. Once again, not easy to do at all, but possible.

      3. She should keep looking for any ways she can make use of her spare time positively, in genres or areas that he will be okay with.

      4. In my opinion, a Muslim wife should try to stop her husband from going towards the Hell-Fire. I think it is her obligatory duty to stop him when he is doing something wrong. However, just how she does this, is of great importance.

      So, if he is oppressing her, usurping some of her rights, or being unjust, she should calmly and politely remind him to fear Allah, and also inform him of what he is doing wrong. I know that many wives do not possess the guts to do this, using wisdom and discretion, at least in the cultural ladies’ circle that I am aware of.

      Either they become too emotional, cry loudly, and shout at him rudely (always a bad idea), or they resort to two-facedness, hiding their true feelings and opinions from him and bottling everything up, in the name of respect and “patience”. A Muslim wife is a well-wisher of her husband, and is open in communication with him.

      However, even after she has complained to him multiple times, and he still does not change, then she should just move on from his negativity and keep herself busy, continuing to make dua for him and his guidance.

      5. In Islamic Shari’ah, a woman can keep all the money she earns or inherits. If she is righteous, wise, and mentally mature enough to handle her own money, I do not think that she is obliged to reveal all the details of her halal earnings/savings to anyone, even to her husband.

      Although the best scenario for any marriage is for there to be open communication and absolutely no “hiding” of anything between a husband and wife, especially financial matters, — but if the marriage is such that the husband has his own busy, independent lifestyle and he does not give much time or attention to his wife, so that she is left with a lot of extra time on her hands, there is no reason why she should not pursue some positive work in that spare time and even earn money through it, without his knowledge, as long as this work is 100% halal. This applies even more so to older couples, in which both spouses are above age forty. And Allah knows best.

      I hope that this helps you out, sister.
      Wassalam.

  2. Salaam to all,

    The person who floated the idea and started this discussion is most perceptive for a variety of reasons.

    I have one observation at this point.

    On escapism. My view is that it can be either way, positive or negative. Depending on how we define it.

    Travel can be a hobby or an escape. Similarly – reading/writing too can be a hobby or an escape.

    My personal view is this – at the outset, many things in life are neutral. It really depends on how we view and define it.

    1. Wa alaikum ussalam.

      Yes, true. Traveling, reading, writing, exercising, and other productive/creative hobbies (such as gardening, for example) can provide a great breather and a welcome break from the stresses of everyday life — if and when the intention and use of these activities is correct.

      Thank you for your contribution.

  3. AoA Mrs. Farooqi,

    Apologies for being off topic, but I would like to know about your experience with home-schooling your kids so far. I read your blog post about your experience after 11 months, but that post was written in 2011 I believe, so I would like to know what is your experience now, after 5+ years? Perhaps a new blog post?

    Thank you very much,
    Kamran

  4. Yes, it would definitely make an excellent sharing and topic of discussion. Your insights into the experiences of home schooling would be a gem. Thank you.

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