Feb 13, 2013

A Personal Reflection

By Wordsmith


As I walked down the creaky steps into my musty, dark basement to the laundry. My fear of its eeriness automatically brought upon my conscious the remembrance of Allah. In fact, I realize now that I fall into such a mental state every time I enter that somber, grave-like room; His name finds its way onto my lips in the form of a duaa I was supposed to have said throughout my day, a harmonious recitation of a verse of my favorite surah, or a poetic lyric romanticizing His grace.

As I was doing the dishes the other day (yes, I have my deepest reflections during household chores), I remember having a thought that I am somewhat ashamed to admit; I remember thinking about a family who had lost a loved one and how, at that instant, their attention became fully directed towards their spirituality and faith. I remember feeling frustrated that this family’s faith did not translate into their daily lives in an outwardly visible manner until this incident. I thought why people  do not realize that God is not there for you only when you are in hardship? Are we not, as Muslims, always taught that God loves us because we are His creation? If you truly believe in Him and the fact that you are His slave, why do you choose to detach yourself from the principles He has ordained as the best way to seek his pleasure?

As I processed what I was feeling, I had a few mini-epiphanies: in one way, that little moment in the basement served as a reminder of what my mental state should be, and at all times. That moment in the basement also represented the fact that my relationship with Allah is similar to that of the family I mentioned above, but on a different level. Technically speaking, my attention snapped right back to God as soon as and only because I felt the slightest insinuation of fear creeping upon me. How was I any different than someone who leaned towards God in a moment of insecurity, when no other accomplice would suffice?

But my basement dhikr moment also draws my attention to something extremely important: I am privileged enough not be completely vulnerable in terms of my faith at all times. I am not in long-term situations that keep me from acting to change my fortune, situations in which my complete destiny must be left alone for God to define. This is not to say that there are points in my life at which I do not need God. Absolutely not. However, some situations are ones in which you have willingly walked into, or ones in which you can act to change in some way or another. God gives you the privilege of having some form of control over your immediate context. I have been privileged to live most of my life in such situations.

Others are not. People are put in positions completely opposite of what I described above, over and over, and no action can be taken to undo some scenarios, such as losing someone.

I honestly do sometimes find myself wishing that God would bring me closer to Him through a means I already know, such as complete disparity, so that my only option is to turn to Him. But I realized that such feelings are only evidence of my prominent laziness, me choosing not to exert effort and reach Him through alternate, renewed means that require a change in myself and my habits.

What I realized as I scrubbed the tainted dishes clean that night was that I, as an individual, have had the blessing of being granted the ability to live life without complete materialistic or emotional disparity. I do face difficulties in life, bumps along the road that knock some strength away from me; yet I also realize how blessed I am to have a consistent means of free will, comfort and security. When faced with a pile of dirty dishes, I am able to choose whether the dishes remain dirty or whether they are spotless. And such a privilege means a lot in a world where choice is not even granted to some, whether by a Divine source, as a test, or through oppression by some higher power.

When I think of my privileges in terms of the bigger picture, I must admit that I feel so overwhelmed at times, for two reasons. The first is that as, as Allah directly informs us, counting His blessings is a foolish and pointless thing to do: “And if you should count the favor of Allah, you could not enumerate them. Indeed, mankind is [generally] most unjust and ungrateful” (14:34). Secondly, when I consider my circumstances in comparison with others, I am stricken with a mixture of guilt, fear, gratitude, and duty. I do not have major family or marital problems, nor do I have financial problems, nor a terminal sickness, alhamdulilah times infinity. On top of this, I have been blessed with numerous opportunities to develop intellectually, spiritually, and socially, equipping me with a skill set that can be used to do great things, to say the least.

I am overwhelmed because such fortuitous bounties only serve to further prove what my role is within my direct circle of influence. I realize how much there is to do and how much potential I have to be able to do what needs to be done. After all, as a Muslim I do realize that Allah does alternate litmus tests of faith among his subjects and that I may be subject to one of these tests soon (3:140); therefore, as the Prophet SAW advises us in the following Hadeeth, I must take advantage of such privileges:

“Take benefit of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before you are preoccupied, and your life before your death.” (Narrated by Ibn Abbas and reported by Al Hakim)

Regardless, Allah has given all of us the right to choose how we THINK about our situations, and in that there is much blessing. If you are someone who does face major struggles every day, realize that there is always someone out there who has it much worse. Focus on the positive aspects of your life and what part of that positivity you can direct towards benefiting those around you for the sake of God. Also, faith is not always something that can be mirrored through outward actions or a visible means, partly because people are on different paths and have crossed varying distances on their journey towards God. Therefore, as insignificant as your act of worship may seem in the grand scheme of things, always evaluate yourself based on what you have the ability to offer, not based on what the people around you label of worth and value. 

And if this article has inspired you to move forward and take on an extra task for the sake of Allah, refer to this article for some untraditional methods of making change and utilizing the blessing of health, security, and time at this point in your life. Always remember that any good in our lives is a privilege, and with every privilege come the responsibility of utilizing that blessing to further permeate goodness using whatever Allah SWT has given us to do so.

Please comment below. Use this as an opportunity to share a thought of benefit for the sake of Allah :) 


Asalamu alykum wAwb,

Jazaki Allah Khair for this post. May Allah (swt) allow us to benefit greatly from reading it!

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