Between Dusk and Dawn…

Some *scribble* *scribble* by Ameera

Tag Archives: Peace

Thoughts on love…

It’s windy here in Karachi tonight and as I sit here in my room, sipping hot milk and taking a short break from the books, my thoughts gently drift from one idea to another. It’s quiet and peaceful in my room and, after a fun and busy afternoon with my sister’s friends coming over, it’s nice to have some alone time.

The rest of my family is in my parents’ room, watching some light comedy show on TV. It makes me smile thinking of them all together, enjoying themselves. That’s because I know there’s contentment and love there. It makes me feel relaxed too, knowing that I can retreat to my room and study with a heart that’s at peace. Life has its ups and downs, for each one of us, and I know cracks and fissures can appear in the strongest of relationships. That’s why, I cherish these moments of comfortable companionship even more… knowing how trying it can be when things go sour, when people are hurt or wouldn’t talk to each other.

There’s so much to learn from watching other people, especially close family, and how they interact with each other. I’m the eldest daughter so I’ve naturally been witness to many incidents, scenes and changes in people around me and not just my own parents. I’ve been through times where things seemed difficult and didn’t make sense either. Why did she do that? Why did he have to say it that way? Then, over time, things started to fall into place. Childish notions of what ‘relationships’ meant were replaced by a different understanding – that each human being has some weaknesses, and that’s fine. It’s impossible to expect people to be perfect. Rather, the reality is that there are amazing people, each with their own particular shortcomings, but that doesn’t mean they’re failures in any way.

As I grow older, I learn something new everyday. I learn how families really function and that sometimes, real love and compassion lies in doing something that’s much different from idealistic expressions. I learn how keeping your mouth shut for five minutes can not only save you from a lot of trouble and embarrassment later, but can earn you much respect in the eyes of others. I learn how the darkest of times upon a family, upon two people who’re committed to each other, can turn into happiness and a real solid relationship that no one could even have imagined possible. It’s about holding onto patience and sincerely wishing to make things better, and if Allah Wills, it does get better… better than better.

I also learn little things from the many mistakes I make daily. When I talk to my sisters,  make a sarcastic comment, or hurt their feelings in anyway… the remorse after that and the pinching of my conscience shows where I was wrong. Sometimes, someone might need me for a minute or two and if I’m too busy in something I feel is more important (but which really isn’t)… it’s my loss in the end because what that person needed, was my love and attention. If I couldn’t give her that, what more could I ever possibly give that could compensate for that? Showering people with gifts is nice but if they know deep inside, you’re not a sincere person, it hardly means anything to them. Instead, make someone a cake or a cup of coffee or tea when you’re really busy and they really need it… that’s love. And that’ll leave it’s mark for sure.

Sigh… it’s either the effect of this hot milk I just drank or the light breeze coming in through the window… or maybe a tender moment fleeting across my soul… that these and so many other such thoughts have come to mind. Maybe it’s the satisfaction that I’m surrounded by people who do love me, just because they’re related to me by blood, and who do put up with my weaknesses and still like spending time with me. Maybe it’s the joy I find in their company, that I just want to express before it’s too late, before I never get another chance. Just today, my father got late coming back from his morning walk and, for an hour or so, I was worried to the point that I really just wanted to see him again and let him know how much he means to me. Alhumdulillah, he got back safe and, after giving him a “scolding” for not taking his cellphone, I did give him a hug too to let him know how much I missed him. Awkward as it may seem sometimes, it’s even more important to seize the moment while it’s there and not have to look back with any regrets later, Insha’Allah.

It’s getting late and I must put in some studying before I sleep. But wait a second… I just checked Facebook and my sister’s status update made this whole post even more relevant. You see, it was her birthday today and here’s what she wrote…

I have the Best friends and the Best family! Alhamdolillah! I mean they sent me off to Sunday Bazaar, snuck into my room, decorated it, blew up balloons, made a huge card, got a cake, gifts, a flower bouquet, a basket of chocolates!!, made pizza, cookies, cheese balls, gulab jamun and more AND almost gave me heart attack when I got home!!! No one would ever do this except out of love! ♥ So Thank you so so much! You made this a truly memorable and wonderful Birthday! There is really nothing I want except a bunch of loving and caring people!

Need I say anything more? Alhumdulillah! 

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Remembering to Thank Him

It hit me without any danger signs. Suddenly, the world was beginning to spin before my eyes and all I could do was grab my head in my hands and lean forwards over my desk. What was happening? I wondered in worry. True, I hadn’t had breakfast yet, it was only 7:30 am but I really wasn’t that hungry either. However, I remembered the time I’d once gone off to college with very little breakfast and had fainted at midday. No need to take chances with that, especially when I know I’ve been cutting back on calories these days.

I headed off to the kitchen and quickly made myself a fruit salad of bananas and melons (with some spice and instant orange juice powder for flavoring). Within ten minutes, I was done with my delicious breakfast and my sugar levels were well on the way up towards normal again, Alhumdolillah. I glanced at my empty bowl and it made me realize how blessed I was to be able to satisfy my hunger like that. Around the world, there are millions who do not have such access to food. They do not know where their next meal is going to come from, or if they’ll have to go hungry that time. And here I was, done within ten minutes, with one simple trip to the kitchen!

“And He gave you of all that you asked for, and if you count the Blessings of Allâh, never will you be able to count them. Verily! Man is indeed an extreme wrong-doer, a disbeliever.”

(Qur’an 14:34)

No wonder then that we need to feel and express gratitude for all these blessings of Allah(swt) upon us. Isn’t it understandable that on the Day of Judgement, when each human being that was ever created will be present on one flat plain, the one who didn’t have food would be in stark contrast to the one who had it in plenty? Wouldn’t that justify the question, “Well, you had the finest of meals to eat – did you thank Allah for it? Did you help feed this other person, who didn’t have what you had?” Of course we’ll be questioned about it!

Every single, tiny blessing will be called to account. Did you thank Allah(swt)? Did you use it in the right manner? Did you use it to come closer to Allah(swt)? I wrote this is a reminder, foremost for myself and also for anyone who might benefit from it Insha’Allah. My hunger has been satiated and I feel energized again… it’s so easy to forget to be grateful when you’ve got what you wanted. So before I forget, Alhumdolillah al-ladhee at’amana wa saqaanaa wa ja’alanaa min al-Muslimeen!

Translation: All praise is due to Allah who gave us food and drink and who made us Muslims.

What are you made of?

Ever felt like you’ve got too much on your plate to handle? No, I’m not talking about food!  I mean it metaphorically – doesn’t it ever happen to you that you suddenly feel overwhelmed by one too many issues? Of course it does. If you’re human, you’d have gone through such a phase at some point in life.

Lately, my plate’s been pretty full too. Life ladled out a big portion and I was pretty confused about how I’d go about it when – plop! – came another helping. Oops, major confusion! I wish I could put a hold on it. After all, the size of this plate is limited and can only hold a certain measure. Any more and it’s going to spill… that would make one big mess.

So why is it that we find ourselves in situations which threaten to tug us in opposite directions? Allah(swt) Knows best. Even if the person is question isn’t willing to accept it at first, most such occasions are times in our lives where Allah(swt) is testing your mettle. What is it that you are made of? Of course, Allah(swt) already Knows everything about our past, present and future but the word “test” refers to giving you a chance to reach into your potential and excel. By giving us a challenging situation to deal with, Allah(swt) effectively hands us the opportunity to rise higher, if we make the right choices with the right attitude. Isn’t that just amazing? If only we could understand that, much of the time we spend in despair can be channeled into gathering good deeds, earning that “promotion” in Allah(swt)’s Sight.

As I write this, I’m trying to explain the same concept to myself. It may sound like I already “get it” but really, many times during the day today, I couldn’t make sense of my situation. I’m facing up to some major decisions in the days ahead and I can only hold them off for a couple of days more. Dua, imploring Allah(swt) to give my case a hearing in His Court, is my only comforter. There’s no person, authority or any kind of power that can make easy for me the decisions that I am faced with. I also know that however much I try, I cannot know what truly is best for me so there also, I am depending 101% on what Allah(swt) will guide me too. Istikhara is my “shot of adrenaline”, which keeps me going two or three days before I need another one.

When things started getting complicated, I realized such complexity could only be a test from Allah(swt). How would I react? Anger? Disappointment? Impatience? I hope not… whatever goes on in my heart, with whatever urgency I make my dua’s to Allah(swt), they are after all between Him and me – no human will hear me complain, Insha’Allah. And it’s odd, in a nice way, how this inner resolve gives you a positive feeling. Even if the questions and troubles are still in the air, my faith is in the One Who has never left me in want of anything I sincerely desired. I expect from Him the Best, and I pray to Him to make me content with what He guides me to.

It’s easy to tell another person to keep good faith and remain positive in the midst of worries but when you go through it yourself, you realize how difficult it is to stay cheery when logic tells you the outcome might not be to your favor. Only through grabbing the opportunity for self-analysis and really making yourself submit patiently to Allah(swt)’s Will will you be able to realize how best to seek the right answers and help others to do the same. It’s this realization that prompted me to blog about this now. Right, I gotta go make more dua now. It’s very late in the night and I want to raise my case again before Allah(swt) at the time where He openly offers to grant His slaves so much good! 🙂

In Our Own

Today was like any other Friday. Abba got ready to go to the masjid while Amma tried to make up her mind about what to cook for lunch. I got ready my clothes, bathed and offered my prayer too. Abba returned from the masjid and we had a delicious lunch. The post-lunch laziness then set in and I headed off to my laptop with a cup of tea. A very ordinary Friday… until evening, when we heard what had happened: a bomb blast in a Shia procession on one of the main roads of the city. If that wasn’t horrible enough,  a second bomb ripped through the emergency ward of a central hospital where the injured and victims were being rushed.

How terrible… how many lives were lost. But what was I thinking? How many died? What’s going on? And then… nothing. That’s it. Where’s the rest of the remorse, the anguish, the pain? Why am I going about as if I don’t care? How can I be laughing over that joke when so many of my country men just died, that too, practically in my neighborhood? I vaguely noticed that I wasn’t as remorseful as I should have been. And that is not a good sign.

How many times must a person be shown scenes of violence and destruction before he or she fails to react to it at all? Countless times, I’m sure. Otherwise, how can you feel an ounce of joy knowing an innocent man, woman or child was murdered on the streets of your city that same day? For the past several years, the scenes of carnage and killing have left a deep impact on all of us. We worry but we worry because we’re not safe anymore. We worry because, in the aftermath of the bombs, it will be difficult to reach the office tomorrow and meet those deadlines. Or maybe, a friend’s wedding will have to be postponed. In reality, we worry only when it hits close to home.

Life always goes on, you  could argue, but is that the only plausible explanation for our indifference to what is going on around us? It’s too much to ask of ourselves, it seems, to even make dua for all those who lost their lives. Probably no single person knows what’s the truth behind all that’s happening, who’s causing it, but we’ve taken it as an excuse to accept the status quo. A quick note of the number of people who died and those who were injured, that’s it. You mentally compare it with a previous attack and think, “it’s not as bad as that time, shukar!” But, ya Allah, it’s bad as it is! Even a single innocent life taken away is worth our tears!

My eyes will obstinately remain dry. My smile will flash here and there and only with force will I be able to keep the frown on my face, to show others I care. I don’t know what’s worse now… the blasts, or our desensitization to them.

Recipe for Confusion

I was supposed to go to my University today but I didn’t and this is why: two suicide bombers blew themselves up in the International Islamic University in Islamabad. Six people fell victim to this heinous crime while dozens were injured. One of the attackers actually disguised himself and managed to get to the girls cafeteria where he detonated his bomb. Following the incident, schools, colleges and Universities will remain off till Sunday, across Pakistan.

Pakistan
The first thought that comes to mind is how low could the attackers and their planners get that they could attack students with such impunity? What were they thinking? How did they justify it and put their consciences to sleep – that t00 for so-called “religious” causes?

There’s another belief that all such attacks on Muslims in Pakistan could never have been carried out by fellow Muslims. Such ideas are backed up pieces of evidence indicating direct as well as indirect involvement of “foreign agencies” in a highly complex scenario of vested interests driving a myriad of events.

Unfortunately,  with all the bloodshed, we now have a highly confusing situation on our hands that is certainly dividing the nation. I receive messages and emails from fellow Pakistanis urging people to recognize the “real” enemy and not be “deluded” into thinking the Taliban are behind the killings. Such people exhort the Taliban and whoever supports them, believing them to be the ultimate savior for Muslims in Pakistan (and even across the world!).

Surprisingly, some even believe the Taliban is in fact an extension of foreign agencies’ evil schemes and thus, such people would lump up the Taliban as one big conspiracy too. Thus, “Muslims could never kill Muslims like this” is their mantra every time a vicious incident takes place.

However, if you talk to refugee families from the conflict-ridden areas, they will tell you how people they initially thought were their helpers and leaders (Taliban, etc.) turned upon them later on. Extortion, kidnapping for ransom and routine harassment then exposed the true nature of these people to the innocent villagers. The common people admitted their mistake of initially lending their support to these Muslim brothers “in the name of Jihad” but later had to suffer themselves.

So what is going on? Why is all of this happening? What are the motives?

I’ll admit I do not have a single clue as to the real situation. I do know we have Muslims with totally distorted ideas of killing other Muslims “for the greater cause”, whatever that is… so I will not attempt to turn a blind eye and glorify them. I also know there are vested interests out to secure their interests, just as was done in Iraq. I also know there are common criminals who jump into the frey whenever confusion abounds to see what they can possibly get out of it in terms of wealth and power.

However, the biggest problem in all of this is that we do not know the truth and because of that, I cannot possibly stay united with my Muslim sister, for example, in her claim that we must “fight the enemy” when I am not even convinced the enemy is one single, definable entity.

Some people have twisted notions of battles in the name of Islam and their brains have become totally addled by all the war hype. Such are the people who totally sadden me: lacking direction, driven by vague ideas, making no sense when they speak and seeing things as either “black” or “white” and thus oversimplifying the entire complex scenario. In fact, this was what led me to write this right now – the madness that is driving the educated people in this nation today.

A confused mix of “religiosity”, nationalism, pessimism and a tendency to see a conspiracy in every tiny thing – that’s what’s going on. The Qur’an and the Sunnah, the wisdom that is required and the need to refrain from knee-jerk responses have all been forgotten. Why don’t people open their eyes already and realize the common Pakistani Muslim is not what they are glorifying him to be? Why don’t they realize we have so much work to do, to being people to the practice of Islam as taught by the Prophet(pbuh) and not drag them off into half-baked ideas of “martyrdom” all stemming from nationalism? Most of all, why don’t people realize all this confusion only helps the original enemies of Islam who have opposed it from the time of the Prophet(pbuh)?

To set things back on the right track, the Pakistani Muslim first needs to free himself of such baseless notions of “Pakistan is the bastion of Islam”, ignoring all the un-Islamic acts that he commits in his daily life. How many Pakistanis actually offer the five daily prayers in the masjid? Killings, “honor crimes”, lying, cheating, corruption, ignoring traffic rules, domestic abuse all happen in Pakistan. If you don’t admit it, you’re never going to change and there are no “short cuts” available.

Whatever is going on today, only one thing is for sure: Allah(swt) is the Only One Who is aware of the real situation and we ask Him to guide us to what is right for us. Yes, we Muslims have failed miserably in our duties but, in seeking to improve upon our knowledge of the Quran and Sunnah and implementing it in ourselves, spreading it in our areas of influence, we can find the right way again.

The important thing is Hikmah… wisdom. If we lose this, as many people are demonstrating to, may Allah protect us!

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