Tag Archives: muslim

No Piece of My Heart

Alright, so I woke up at 3 am.

I didn’t think this would affect my mood.  I didn’t think this would flip my attitude upside down.  I didn’t think I’d be trapped in anxiety for the next 24 hours.

Or, maybe this has something to do with my echo-cardiogram.  It’s taking place today at 1:00 pm.  I didn’t know I had problems with my heart.  I just had chest pains; never considered I’d have heart problems.  Age 32.

And maybe there’s a deeper reason.

You see, Allah is always with me; I am the one that has strayed.

I don’t do my prayers anymore.  I talk about people behind their backs.  I’m sure I do alot of other non-Islamic and/or haram things, too, I just don’t have time (nor do I want to) list them all here.

I’m tired.  Tired of wishing my anxiety away.  Tired of day after day feeling confused, torn, angry.  I feel like I have given up hope, only this is not the first time I’ve felt that way.  I’ve given up hope lots of times.  And the only thing that ever brought me back was the remembrance of Allah.

If you don’t know about Islam and you don’t know the truth about Muslims, you probably are reading this post right now and feeling confused.  What is she talking about?  What is this blog about?  Well, it’s about me.  I am a bipolar disordered Muslim in complete disarray.  Yes, I am  medicated.  Yes, I take my pills on time.  But do I pray on time?  No.  When I pray, I feel it is an act of worship and meditation.  It benefits me and my mental illness and essentially, all the other parts of my life, too.

I’m tired.

Advertisements

Unsettling

Qur'an

So I’m really into this Dr. Jeffrey Lang book lately.  I think I am just mostly excited to be reading about Islam again, especially from a convert’s perspective.  Something happened recently at work that felt unsettling, and this book addressed that very issue.

This co-worker and I were talking about religion.  After discussing various topics, she stated that all religions at a base level depended on faith.  That because there is no scientific proof of any particular religion, it all comes down to an individual having faith, just believing it to be true.

But that just didn’t sit right with me.

When it comes to Islam, I feel so sure of its authenticity, so convinced of the Qur’an being the final message to humanity, that it’s hard to accept her concept of faith directed at my particular belief system.

The book pointed out that Muslims don’t particularly identify with this specific concept of faith, because Islam makes no division between the secular and the sacred.  In other words, “…when a Muslim is asked to relate his or her experience of belief, he or she is being asked to do something unfamiliar, to dissect and think about faith in a way that is outside of the Islamic perspective.”  Further still, the author points out that the Qur’an places a strong emphasis on “the extreme importance of reason and contemplative thought in the attainment of faith.”  The author goes on to point out all the ways in which the Qur’an presses us to use reason and rational thought when it comes to our beliefs.

Reading those passages helped me to identify the reasons why her comment left me feeling unsettled.

You see, my father raised all four of us girls to think for ourselves.  He pushed us to challenge the status quo and to question and to look for answers, to stick by those answers even if they didn’t quite fit within the social norms.  In this type of environment, I had an understanding of people’s differences and accepted those differences with an open mind.

I have and will always have respect for other people’s beliefs.  But I’ve also changed in that I now believe that my way is the right way.  If I didn’t believe that then I wouldn’t follow Islam.

I remember my sister pointing this out to me years ago.  She said she is amazed (and baffled) by my conviction of Islam.  She imagined that it must feel very reassuring to believe in something so strongly that you believe it to be true above anything and everything else, because she never found that to be the case in her religious experience.

See, it is hard for them (my sisters and family) to understand what makes me so committed to Islam.  Because in the past, my attitude was that religion was all just a matter of choice and none had more importance than another.  Even though I believed in Catholicism, I didn’t believe it was for everyone.  But when I came upon Islam, it was different.

I always tell people:  “Islam chose me.  I didn’t choose it.”  When I first read the Qur’an, I immediately knew there was something to it.  I believe I knew in my heart right then and there that I was a Muslim.  But I just wouldn’t acknowledge it.  I questioned the Qur’an from every angle I could come up with.  I tried to find fault in it.  I tried to deny it.  I struggled within myself for a long time.  But in the end, I knew I had to accept it.  I knew I believed that there is no god but God and that Muhammad is the final messenger.

I felt that that book had been put down on paper some 1400 years ago and hadn’t been changed for that entire time, and it spoke to me like it knew me.  Like it had looked into my soul and saw all of the frustrations and anger and curiosity and concern and it provided me with definitive answers to the questions I had been asking for years.

In fact, it was so spot on that it scared me.  I was actually spooked the first time I read it.  Because it was so direct.  One passage in particular that really got to me was:

2:170  “When they are asked to follow that which Allah has revealed, they say, “no! We would rather follow the path that we found our forefathers pursuing.”

I was forced to ask myself why I followed Catholicism.  Was it because it made sense to me?  Was it because I believed in it with my whole heart?  Or was it because it had been passed down to me?

I learned from the Qur’an that Jesus was a prophet and was never meant to be worshipped.  It completely threw me off my rocker when I read the following passage :

O followers of the Book! do not exceed the limits in your religion, and do not speak (lies) against Allah, but (speak) the truth; the Messiah, Isa son of Marium is only a messenger of Allah and His Word which He communicated to Marium and a spirit from Him; believe therefore in Allah and His messengers, and say not, Three. Desist, it is better for you; Allah is only one Allah; far be It from His glory that He should have a son, whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth is His, and Allah is sufficient for a Protector. (Surah 4:171 – Shakir)

Or this one:

Say, “He is Allah, [who is] One, Allah, the Eternal Refuge. He neither begets nor is born, Nor is there to Him any equivalent.” (Surah 112:1-4)

I felt like I had finally been told the truth, something I believed all along – that we are to worship God and God alone.

Well, I certainly hadn’t started this post with the intention of explaining my entire belief system and all the experiences I had as a result – I only wanted to emphasize that for me, defining my spiritual transformation solely on the basis of faith would be inaccurate.

I emphasized to this co-worker that I am a Muslim because I believe (and am positive) that Islam is the one and only religion that God has delivered to us over the entire course of human existence.  I believe that most other religions are deviations of the messengers’ original messages, and that Islam and the Qur’an is meant for every soul on earth to follow.

I also think that everyone with sound reasoning and logical thinking skills should read the Qur’an and insha’allah they will discover this truth for themselves.  As much as I tried to deny it, I could not turn away from it.

 “Verily, Allah sends astray whom He wills, and guides whom He wills.” [Faatir, 35:8]

Sun Coming Out After a Long Rain

Wow.  I just read through a few of my last posts.  I’m shocked that I was so depressed.  Especially now that I’m on the other side of it and feeling so so so much better.

I feel like I have a bright new outlook.  And I’m really enjoying my kids, too.  Maybe it was the medication change.  Or maybe it was, um…maybe it was…  I got nothing else.  It was definitely the medication change.

Last night a speaker from the Muslim Outreach Society came to present at my friend’s class.  The class is called “The Psychology of Death and Dying,” and the presentation was about “What Happens After Death?” from people of various faiths.  So I arranged for the Islamic part.  Brother Salim came and spoke.

It was great.  I felt so glad to listen to a muslim speaker, as it has been almost a whole year since I’ve attended any events at the masjid.  I listened to him speak and was reminded of all of the reasons why I am so grateful that Allah led me to Islam.  My thoughts of Islam and Allah are always there in my mind, but sometimes they are close to me and sometimes they seem far away.  Our goal as Muslims is to achieve and maintain a state of God-consciousness.  So just being reminded of that is something I appreciated, as I need more practice.

Cemetery

cemetery

Went to the cemetery today.

It didn’t feel as I thought it would feel.  It felt like sadness.  And it followed me.  All of those dead souls.  And all the millions and millions and millions of them since the beginning of time itself.

And Allah keeps track of all of them – knows their entire lifetime of each and every soul – closer to us than our own jugular vein (Surat Qaf [verse 16] – And We have already created man and know what his soul whispers to him, and We are closer to him than [his] jugular vein.)

And with all the weirdness I’ve been experiencing, I started to feel like I shouldn’t be there.  And the feeling got stronger the longer I stayed.  And I read the names of people and I saw the things people had left for their dead relatives and I saw a freshly dug grave and I saw fresh dirt on top of one, new grass at a different length than the rest of the grass and I saw one with the years close to my own age and  I saw one with a wooden cross as a marker with their name painted on it who had just been buried 2 months ago.

And one had five colored pictures taped to it all lined up in a row, drawn by five little kids expressing their love to their deceased mom.

I had thought I would be reminded of death – thought I’d be reminded of life and God and the finality of it all and the temporary nature of life itself – but instead I just felt sick to my stomach and a bit lost and somewhat confused.  And maybe it was the four cups of coffee I drank, maybe it was the caffeine that was making me feel so strange and fuzzy, like cotton was stuffed through every inch of my body.

I have been getting really, really tired lately and I feel afraid.  And I feel like it would be a struggle to try to have a normal conversation with someone.   The exhaustion thing just will not go away.  It happens where I will be feeling halfway normal and then all of a sudden, I get this intense wave of exhaustion, so powerful that I have to close my eyes and steady myself to keep me from crashing to the ground and falling asleep right then and there.  Like I absolutely have to sleep or I won’t be able to survive another second.

Then it goes away, just as suddenly as it started, after about 3-5 minutes.

I feel like I am in a fog and that I’m not really myself and that I’m not really here.  And maybe I should take a Klonopin or maybe I should take a walk but I feel like I’m a little bit crazy.  And that makes me feel very nervous.  And what if I am?  Could it happen like this again?  Ann says no – it won’t.  That the medicine will keep me from going too far one way or another.  But I feel so disconnected.  I feel like I’m not really where I am.

I can’t think clearly and it feels like I’m fumbling around in the dark.  And I’m scared someone is going to approach me and know and I’m afraid I will do something that I’m not supposed to do and I feel that way so strongly that I’m kind of expecting it.  Like the time I went into the Subway restaurant with all my papers and binders and pens and asked them to turn on some music and instead they called the cops.  And the cop arrived and asked me what I was doing and I said I was just looking for someplace to work and she said you can’t work here and I said okay and I left and walked back home.

I’m kind of expecting something to happen like that.

Or maybe I will just disappear for hours and not know where I was or what happened.  And my husband will be out searching for me and he will spot me on the side of the road and I will run to him and get in the car and he will say “where on earth were you?” and I will say to him “I don’t know” and I will mean it.  And I will be calm and he will be concerned and then once we were home everything will just spiral out of control and I’ll continue to spiral out of control and it will get worse each day until I wind up back in the hospital again.

And I don’t want to go through that again.  I really don’t.

Strength for Today

I’m going to go visit Grama B today.  I’ll be leaving work to go home, pack, feed my kids, get everybody in the car, and then we are driving the 2 hours up north to get there around 5:30 pm.  My friend gets home from work at that time, so I’m going to drop the kids off with her.

I’m writing this out so I can keep everything straight in my head.  Right now it feels like I’m moving through water.  Everything is slowed down, I’m not really seeing things clearly, it all feels a little fuzzy.  I don’t feel like I’m very aware of things that are going on around me, I’m just following orders, going through the motions, getting by.

Last night I spoke with my parents.  My mom cried.  My dad said alot about hospice and transitioning to the “other side.”  What is happening to Grama’s body functions, how my aunt and uncle are coping.  How he feels he is in the right place to be there for them and for Grama.  But still, that I should not come visit.

Well, I’m going anyway.  I’m not going to announce to him that I’m coming, and I’m not going to seek out his permission, as I usually do for every other matter.  When my mom had a stroke 2 years ago, he told us not to come.  We came anyway.  He thanked us afterwards and acknowledged the fact that he was wrong, that as it turned out, having us come did mom good and he was grateful we had come.

He’s not always right.

I feel he’s trying to protect me from seeing Grama that way.  He said she is nothing but a shell of who she used to me.  My husband’s grandmother and father died in the same year.  I watched them slowly pass away in the hospital.  He doesn’t need to shelter me from seeing her.

Last night I laid my head on the table and closed my eyes while my son sat eating his peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  He asked me to open my eyes, and when I told him I couldn’t right now, he graciously stepped away from the table and went upstairs to watch tv with my husband.  I sat there with my face on the cold surface of the table, and I started to pray.  I prayed for Allah to take the love I feel for Grama and to send it into her heart where she lay so that she can feel how much I love her.  A few tears fell from my eyes then.  I prayed some more, asking for God to cover me, shelter me, take away the tiredness I feel so I can be strong for tomorrow.

The rest of the night I sat at the computer, writing an email to my sisters to explain my conversation with Mom and Dad and report to them how Grama was doing.  Afterwards, I could barely lift my arms to brush my teeth.  I dragged myself up the stairs to my bed and laid down, feeling nothing but exhaustion.  Thankfully, a few seconds later, I fell asleep.

On Death and Dying

Farm at sunset

My grandmother is dying.  My sister told me last week she only has 2 weeks to a month, according to the doctors.  I called my dad to talk about it.  He didn’t say much, other than telling me not to worry, that Grama is getting old and her time has come.

The part that bothered me is he told me not to visit her.

She is losing her mind, so she won’t recognize me, and seeing “strangers” will only upset her more, he explained.  I don’t care.  I’m going to see her.

I know soon I will be going to her funeral.  I know soon she won’t be around any more to talk to and hug and touch.  Her body will soon be buried under six feet of dirt.  Her soul will be gone.

Death and dying reminds us of our own morality.  I wonder when my time will be over.  When I will face Allah and be judged.  There are alot of words written about how death comes to us according to Islam.  I have read and have learned alot about what happens to us, what happens to our bodies, what happens to our souls, what happens when we face Allah.

It all makes me wonder how my life will go from here on out.  Right now, in this moment, I have 2 sons I’m raising with my husband of 6 years.  I think about my years growing up, my childhood spent playing in the yard with my sisters, my teenage years in high school, the years I spent in college.  Moving out on my own afterwards, struggling to pay bills, struggling in my relationships.  My journey to Islam, my marriage to my husband, the jobs I’ve held.

My parents are aging.  My mom has been sick from Lyme Disease for years and isn’t getting any better.  My husband and I plan to move closer to them so we can be there as we are needed more and more.  My father has acres and acres of land that he farms, and no sons to take over the business and the land that he has cultivated and grown for his entire adult life.

Time moves so fast.  I remember when I was growing up on the farm, I used to play outside until sunset.  I’d watch the sun go down, not a care in the world.  I didn’t know heartbreak or pain or sadness.  I only knew what was in front of me – green grass, beautiful fields with rows and rows of crops, and a loving family who took great care to make sure I was always safe and happy.

I wonder what my future holds.  Will my husband and I ever be able to buy a house?  Will our sons stay happy and healthy throughout their adolescent and teenage years?  Will they grow up feeling as safe and happy as I felt during my childhood?  Will they become good muslims?   What will happen in the future?  Only Allah knows…

More importantly than all of that, will I stay on the straight path in my life’s journey?  Will Allah accept my good deeds on the day of judgement?  Will he find that I accepted the trials and tests of the life of this world and fought them with a strong heart and a firm grip on my faith?  Will Allah forgive me of my misdeeds and allow me entrance into Jannah?

I’ve heard that God doesn’t give us more than we can bear.  I really hope that is true, because I want to believe that I can carry out the rest of this life and bear any sadness, fears, and suffering I may face.  Insha’allah I will stay strong, stay hopeful, positive, always give praise to Allah and never fail to recognize all the blessings Allah has bestowed on me.

Grama B

“Thank You, God.”

Last night I was talking to my son about God.  (I know that the proper name for God is Allah, but for some reason, I feel more comfortable referring to Our Creator as “God.”)  We were reading a Curious George book about the Dinosaur Museum.  George goes with The-Man-With-The-Yellow-Hat to a digging site and while George is getting into mischief, he creates a rockslide and accidentally uncovers a collection of dinosaur bones.

At the end of the book, there is a picture of the dinosaur bones all linked together to represent the dinosaur, with a photo of the actual dinosaur named “Georgosaurus.”

We looked at that picture, and Kareem asked me what those “holes” were in the skull, which led me to explain to him that our bodies are made up of bones, that these are our ribs, this is your leg bone, these are the bones in your fingers, in your hands, and even your head has its own bone – the skull.  He asked if our ears have bones and if his neck had bones, and we talked about how muscles are attached to the bones, and if we didn’t have bones, we’d be a big lump of jello pudding.

Then I explained that God made our bodies – our skin and our bones and our muscles.  At that point, he said “we should thank God.”  I said, “You’re absolutely right, we should thank God.  Go ahead, tell God thank you.”  He said, “How?” and I said, “You just say it.  God will hear you.”  “Out loud?” he asked.  “Yes,” I told him.

He said, “Thank you, God.”  We talked a little more about how God is everywhere and He sees everything.  How he is close to us, very, very close.  That He doesn’t sleep because He never gets tired.

We’ve never talked like this before about God.  I’ve mentioned God to him, but we never discussed the idea of God this in depth.  For a moment I worried it’s  confusing for him, the concept of an all-powerful Creator.  But something tells me he gets it.