Tag Archives: prayer

My Islam

Qur'an image in masjidThere is a new masjid being built within driving distance to my new house.  I’ll be moving in March, and I took this as a sign that this is a new start for me and a positive one.

I haven’t been very proud of myself as a Muslim lately.  I prayed recently and begged for forgiveness for all the ways I have strayed from the straight path.  I won’t air all of my sins and faults, I will keep those hidden so as not to draw more attention to them.  But I do believe I will change insha’allah.  My heart is in the right place, I just need to tune myself back up to get in touch with Allah again.  I know Allah has been with me throughout this time, I just haven’t been doing the best at recognizing Him when I see Him.

The other day my sister-in-law was asking me about Islam.  She was telling me the things she does not “agree with” in the Qur’an (she was born a Muslim, but she has not surrendered to the path of Allah) and I began to explain to her some of the parts of the Qur’an that people misinterpret.  I was telling her all kinds of things about the Qur’an, about how if you believe that it is truly from God, you can’t “disagree” with the things Allah has laid out in the Qur’an.

I asked her if she’d ever read the Qur’an.  She said she had not.  I explained to her that alot of people pull parts out of the Qur’an and that they base their judgements on one passage, or one statement.  But they don’t look at the Qur’an as a whole or investigate what it really says.  The majority of the Qur’an is about peace and love and love of God.  It is not about killing people or glorified deaths of people who do evil things.  It comes down the fact that Islam is perfect, Muslims are not.  We all have faults and we all do bad things and some things people do are worse than other things people do.

I just want to get back to a place where I am praying.  I know it is best for me.  And when I pray, I know I am able to put things into perspective.

Recently, my dad, who is and always has been Catholic, was reminding me to “keep the faith.”  To trust in God, to put my faith in Him, to trust God to carry me through this move, as I was stressing about jobs and money and all the hows and whens and details of the move.  He said “you’re worrying about things that are out of your control.”  Alot of times, I need that reminder.  I can’t seem to pull myself out of that Worry Tornado when it hits me.

And I was grateful for that reminder.

I have been given so so so many blessings in this life here on Earth.  So many blessings.  And I feel Allah has given me these blessings as a test.  As a test to see if I will fall back on Allah, trust in Allah, be grateful to Allah for these blessings.  And pray.

I was talking to my sister-in-law’s boyfriend recently.  He served in the military overseas as a sniper.  He was injured badly, and at one point, he was thrown from a military vehicle when they hit one of those bombs on the side of the road.  He said that as he was flying through the air, he had a flash of his entire life that passed through his mind.  It was like time slowed and he saw everything.  EVERYTHING go by in the flash of a second. That is how Allah describes our life in the dunya.  The true life – the afterlife – is for an eternity.  Forever.

We can’t afford to waste our time on the dunya (the life of this world).  Our time here is so short and this life is temporary.  When we die, our life on this earth will feel like it was in the time span of the blink of an eye, the snap of your fingers.  That’s what this young soldier had described to me.  And I know it will happen when we die.  I know we will see it all and it will seem like it had barely even happened, as if it barely had any meaning at all. Only it does have meaning.  Great meaning.  The result of our actions and thoughts and words here on earth will determine how we spend our eternity.

They say some pray out of fear of Hell.  Some pray out of a desire for Heaven.  And others pray for a love of Allah.  I want to be of the ones who pray for a love of Allah. Insha’allah, with the new masjid only minutes from my house, I will finally be able to practice my faith in the way that I desire.  To find other Muslims who practice their faith in a positive, earnest, sincere way.  To have an ummah and attend the Friday prayers.  And insha’allah, pray out of my love of Allah.

Advertisements

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.

Being Muslim

Is.lam

I sobbed.  I cried like a baby – short, quick, gaspy breaths in between tears and tears and more tears.  I don’t even know what I was sobbing for.  I cried because I didn’t want to cry.  I cried because I felt like I should be strong and sober and stoic during this time.  My grama died 2 days ago.  I cried and then cried some more because I felt like crying meant my faith wasn’t strong enough.

See, as the only Muslim in my family, I felt I had to be some kind of grounded, religious leader to my sisters.  I felt that being a Muslim meant that you understand the natural cycle of death, that having the knowledge and grasping the concept of the temporary nature of life on earth meant that you were able to accept death and not be affected by it.

I didn’t want to believe that I, too, need to grieve.

So, it came upon me yesterday and I just broke.  I told my husband all of the turmoil I was going through inside my head and my heart.  He listened and he shared his experiences with death in his family and the mourning and grief that everyone goes through, no matter what your religion is.

Yesterday and today it rained all day.  I felt like Allah was softening up the ground for Grama’s burial for us.  I know it might not be my place to be concerned about how Grama is experiencing death, but I know how she experienced life, so in that respect, I pray Allah will give her peace and comfort during this time.

I also thought about how Grama raised my dad and aunt and uncle to believe in God, to have a strong faith, and to pray.  They used to say the rosary together every night during lent, all together, as a family.  That is some powerful stuff.  I feel blessed to have been raised in a family that has a deep, passionate love for God and to have that love instilled in myself.  If it wasn’t for Grama, I might have never reached the path to Islam.

Dealing with Death

There was a kid that I liked when I was young.  I always hoped I would run into him again so I could see him and he could see me.  I heard stories about him and I wondered when it would happen.  It never did happen and he died.  I didn’t even know about the funeral.  It’s so strange to think that that person just isn’t on this earth anymore, that he’s just gone for good.

And now my grama is added to that category.  The gone-for-good category.  She’s just a body now, just the shell that we walk around in.  Her heart is no longer beating, it’s just a decaying thing under her ribs.  And after a while of being six feet under the ground, her skin is just going to rot and fall off of her bones and her face and her skull will be all that is left, just a skull and some unrecognizable bones and the only way you will even know that they are her bones will be the tombstone above her.  Cause her soul is gone now.  Her brain is just a chunk of meat – no more synapses or chemical reactions or whatever the hell goes on in the brain when she was alive.

And she was alive, just yesterday in fact.  She was alive, breathing, heart beating, pumping blood through her veins, thinking, talking, swallowing, moving.  And then, she wasn’t.  She left.  She is gone.  And sometimes, I don’t know how to conceptualize that.  When I was Catholic, I could just believe that the person went to Heaven.  I could tell my kids, “Grama is in Heaven now.”  And I might even believe that she could see us from where she was in Heaven, “looking down on us” and smiling.

But in Islam, it’s not like that. And I really don’t know how to feel about Grama going to the other side and her soul being removed from her body either painfully or comfortably (one or the other based on her actions and beliefs on earth) and I really don’t know how to feel about her being questioned in the grave, and I really don’t know how to feel about the grave either closing in on her to the point of feeling suffocated or having lots of spacious room and being able to feel good and warm and comfortable.

So, in short, I have learned all about what happens to our bodies and our souls, but I don’t know how I should FEEL about it all.

After searching for some answers, I came across the article Thoughts on Death on MuslimMatters.org that offered me some comfort.  I think the biggest thing for me is that I need to look to Allah for help.  I need some comfort, some stability, something to hold onto, something to lean on.  And I know that is what Allah is there for.  He wants us to lean on Him.

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.

Stuck in a Rut

I’m stuck.
My wheels are spinning in the dirt.  I don’t know up from down.  I’m just plain stuck.  I keep doing the same things over and over, things that are unhealthy, things that are not me.  I do them because it’s now become a habit.  I don’t know how to break this chain, this cycle that leads into itself.

I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to be out of this circle of “stuck”-iness.  If I did imagine it, I would imagine cool water splashed upon my face, rinsing my arms up to the elbows, pouring water, rushing and blue through my hair and saying La illaha il Allah.  I wish I would worship again.
6377737605_daf533dc6e_b

Why Am I Not Praying?

Why am I not praying?

Why am I not praying?

Prayer to me is, in a way, an act of meditation.  To me, it’s more of meditating with Allah.

You know, some people fear hearing Allah’s name used.  Some people don’t even like when you refer to God.  The world has become scared of religion.

One day I was sitting on the couch, quietly minding my own business, when suddenly a strong bolt of lightning struck and thunder pounded firmly in the skies.  It made me jump and in that single moment of fear I said to myself, “Oh God.”  We rarely get that feeling in this life, that feeling where you are scared, such as in the moment before a car accident, or perhaps you have a heart attack, clutching your hands to your chest you say to yourself, “oh God.”  And it’s in that moment that your true belief comes out.  Not what you tell yourself you believe, not in the labels we give ourselves, but in the true depth of your consciousness, what you really truly deep down feel in the pit of your cold heart.

I’m tired of fearing my religion.  I’m tired of putting the dunya before my religion.  I fear Allah, not the people.  I fear Allah, not the dunya.  The world might be scared of religion, but if I’m truthful to myself, then so am I, because these are the things that keep me from my prayers.