On faith and belief

I have come to learn something about the existence of belief that I would like to share. I know many of us go through times where they have doubts about belief and faith, and whether they really exist in the rational realm of things. For me every attempt that tries to reason directly with faith reaches the faculty with which it is reasoning: the mind, and then stops.
 
On the other hand, there is a different kind of reasoning that might provide more light: the reasoning where you get to observe the impact faith has on you and your life, like putting faith in a lab and making some tests, and using the tools we’re given to observe. What I’m going to share today is one of my observations.
 
I often wonder how some deeds that I consider wrong do not cause other doers the turmoil it causes me (or vice versa). Also, I wonder just the same how the same deeds do not cause me the same psychological turmoil when I do them at different times or points in my life. The only answer that I feel is right is simply faith.
 
In order to feel guilty or ashamed (or to put it more aptly: responsible), you need to have a specific set of beliefs; in rules or commandments decreed by a deity, or even in a group of morals of your own creation that you live by. The very fact that you are a believer directly impacts the way you feel about how you live and act. If belief does not exist, you would not feel any kind of guilt or shame whatever you do. The belief that something is right determines how you live.
 
Belief isn’t one or the same among people. As I said, although non-believers openly discard the notion of faith or a deity, some of them live up to higher moral standards than believers themselves. It really is about how strong your faith in what you believe is, and how often you practice what you preach. This also answers my early wondering about why the effect a deed has on me would differ from one time to another: because the strength of my faith changes.
 
I bring the discussion now to God: if the rule you live by isn’t really something of your creation, and also not something that can be associated with a habit, but simply that: a rule. If these rules can be constituents of a religion that you adhere to; then you need only look inside your self and see whether your belief is actually there when you break any of these rules. If you feel nothing, then you are probably not a believer in the rule or your faith is weak and needs work. If you feel something, then that’s proof that faith exists. It’s really between you and that self of yours.
 
One of the most interesting properties of faith is that it is not constant. If it were, then there would be no practical side to it. In order to have faith, you must have some sort of practice. For some this practice is religion, for others it is just their morals, but either case, all are believers of different kinds and colors.

Anniversary

Alhamdulilah.

Today Allah has given us a two year old marriage. I believe there’s no absolute guide into this sacred institution and that people are different, but I do like to share what I came to learn through this very special journey nonetheless. The lessons are really endless so I tried to hone everything into the following five – personal pearls I do hold around the neck of my soul and maybe they’d help others in their journeys as well. So here goes:

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1. Your relationship with Allah determines your relationship with yourself; marriage is like dealing with just that: yourself. Your spouse is yourself. If you are on good terms with Allah, you are on good terms with yourself, and so you are with your spouse. This is the simplest, most powerful truth. Skip a prayer = you’re creating an aggression on yourself (= your spouse); and in turn the pond of marriage will be irked. You’d be surprised as to the amount of religious and non-religious literature that back this finding up. It is an old, somewhat forgotten recipe for happiness.

2. Turning the page is an art you must learn and master. Just like you do turn pages with life and yourself, you have to learn to do so with your spouse so that the marriage grows and thrives. The bigger the book of your love, the easier it becomes to add more pages. Mercy is a crucial page turner; do not mistake it for weakness.

3. The moment you expose outsiders (close or not) to your marriage, it loses one of its most defining features (privacy) and slowly suffers, or at best, stops growing. Protect your marriage by being the only ones in it. There’s a very subtle catch here: outsiders can be exposed indirectly to your marriage by you abstractly applying their wisdom in marriage without your spouse’s check. Example: this post has to be shared by both parties, not used in one’s heart against the unknowing other. Again: not used in one’s heart against the unknowing other.

4. Although naturally shared, sometimes the notorious, heavily discussed circle of love and respect is the ultimate responsibility of the man, not the woman. Just like Allah has granted man the authority to break it at will, he is bound to protecting and nurturing it before Him and himself (Qewama). If this circle disconnects, he mends the gap before she does. If you think respect is lacking, do provide love, unconditional love.

5. In marriage and just like in life, change & hardship are truly constant. Do not mistake agreed upon absolutes checked by reality for broken promises or flaws in your spouse, rather embrace what’s different and cooperate to face new changes in yourselves or your lives.

I end my prose here. Each lesson of those envelops a lot of others. I hope I have managed to keep the meanings focused.

I would like to thank Aya for being in my life; may Allah protect her and grant her Jannah inshaAllah.

May He grant us all happiness here and hereafter.

A long pause?

Hits on this space has for long verged on scarcity and that is notwithstanding my own. Once or twice a month I come here and I feel ancient, like I have disturbed the dust that’s been sitting here unperturbed for centuries; dust that flies around as I read through the words with heaviness that creeps and with reluctance not of the wise, but of the old.

On top of feeling ancient, I feel estranged. Not so much by the words but by the power that summoned them. I try to find familiarity in that haggard grey room of a blog, or cluttered distracted room of a self, and can’t. Whether from art or memory, my words are farther than my reach could grasp. A comeback? A new beginning? A hesitant call upon the blog, to wake up? To try and cause a silent riddle, into someone’s life? heart? I don’t know.

It is such a mystifying sensation. I realize now that disconnection is the ultimate fate of whatever I produce today, for this blog used to not only be a list of thoughts, but an amalgamation of connected feelings, memories and reflections; a fusion of reality and fiction, and a most heartened record of a history too personal. A live being that is now in hibernation. The mess of words and adjectives are early signs of noted fate, don’t you see? How can I write now when two years are off this record? Do I pretend the world knows? Do I swear a new vow of secrecy and break it? Or do I make do as I go? As it flows?

Traces of music in my utterances are too faint. A hint of excitement begins to emerge. A shock of thoughts destroys the tone. A sigh of chord relates the hope.

Or not, ibhog.

Or not,

Oblivion

Unsuspecting. That’s about the closest term in my vernacular to the concrete oblivion. Maybe because the latter is dominantly associated with danger, adding bias to meaning, but then again, the adjective: oblivious, is softer on the conscious – you can actually say: “Someone expressed their feelings for me and I was like so oblivious!” Case in point is: it’s not just about danger. However, unsuspecting is still a little bit, what can I say, straightforward. I was just that: unsuspecting. When?

When father collapsed on the couple of stairs in the entrance of our building yesterday afternoon. He’d been awake since dawn, working, and then had a very good breakfast (too good, as I’ll explain later), went to prayers, and then we passed by my sister, where he dosed on the couch while we’re discussing my future life. Yes, my future is a subject heavily discussed these days at our household. My present is frankly uninteresting. We woke him, he had cold apple juice to freshen up, and then very casually we took the elevator and walked down the street in the blistering sun, which we do every week.

Yesterday however, was different. He was quite exhausted. We can say he was unknowingly pushing himself. I also found out he worked the last couple of weekends. So with the sun, the fatigue and sleep deprivation, the minute we found shade, he surrendered to the stairs; sat down, put his head in his hands, cold hands, and kept sweating so hard. I thought this was hypoglycemia, but he told me that it’s his chest. Does it hurt? No. Then what’s the matter? It’s like he can’t find oxygen. Is there pain anywhere? No, just discomfort in the chest area. Two minutes later, he got better. He was able to stand up, go to the elevator, and then up to our place. Needless to say, those two minutes, were longer than a sun’s orbit around the galaxy.

The truth is, father’s been having lighter versions of those episodes lately. The doctors weren’t really concerned or surprised, since his heart is weak, and they always stress on the fact that he should consume enough water, sleep well, be careful with physical effort, his meals, and what I came to know after the last call with one of them, even mental effort should be spent with caution. I told him to stop working and get some rest, before we go to the doctor (which is scheduled for tonight, isA). Yesterday night, after another meal, he was feeling a bit weak again, and then decided to take an emergency pill that was prescribed for what is called: recurrent angina – typically taken after physical effort, a big meal, or too much general exhaustion. He came to my room and told me that the pill restored him completely, and was happy. I told him that he should still get some rest, and that he shouldn’t push himself further.

“It’s like I ran 10 miles”, was what I told my friend when I excused myself from a planned hangout. I was unsuspecting. Those three minutes, walking down the street, besides my dad, my mind was preoccupied with our conversation, about me, my life, my future wife, my plans and what not. I’m usually very alert around my father, but then my health failed me and I decided I should be more relaxed, and that’s exactly how I’ve been lately. Let me give you an example. I spent six months, yes, six entire months, tracking my dad’s phone on a map to know where he is on all his errands, even the ones in our neighborhood. I could be in a conference with someone in Europe, and when the map doesn’t refresh, or tell me that his location can’t be found, I either leave the room, become too distracted, or excuse myself to make an important phone call, and then I call him, to find that he’s well, on his desk, or in the car on his way home. I stopped doing that three weeks ago, and decided to throw that mountain weight of worry, in God’s hands, and so I was unsuspecting when dad suddenly told me: “I can’t stand, I have to sit down on the stairs”. Oh my God, what? Why?

When you suddenly run 10 miles you’ll collapse in bed for the rest of the weekend. Your books will stay unfinished, your thoughts will stay undone, your plans will become unreasonable, your quest for comfort, happiness or stability, becomes practically cute compared to what’s just been thrust on the top of your weak shoulders. This time I’m trying to battle all of this away, I’m trying so hard to leave it all in His hands, to be careful with my nerves, my stomach, and chest. I try very hard to be cool around dad himself, so that I won’t add to his stressed being. And while I try so hard, I keep thinking about that future of mine: all of this doesn’t mean I should stop existing.

All of this doesn’t mean I should stop looking for her, does it?

Will you pray so hard for me and my father? I need a good thing to happen to me while I’m unsuspecting, you know? Maybe it’ll compensate for this.

Thank you,

Wisdom

Does having a Mom make you wiser?

During the festive Eid days me and the family dined outdoors in a big mall. I was planning to meet my friend after so we parted ways when the night was young. Since I’m the one responsible for administering my father’s medication, I’d taken the correct amount of pills of all the nighttime doses with me, and then handed them over to my sister on their way back home, informing her about a specific important heart medication that father must take once they get home. I’d collected the pills from their different strips and put them all in a specific, well sealed drug box, that was then sitting safely in my sister’s purse.

After midnight I returned and found out that one of the strips, of that specific med, was on the table and missing a pill (believe it or not, I notice it when an extra pill is missing). I, enacting casual stance, asked father whether he took the pill from the strip or from the box sister had. He didn’t remember, which means that he could have possibly taken both pills, forgetfully. I called my sister and she never picked up. I called my little sister (who at the time was staying at uncle’s upstairs), and she told me that dad took the pill from the box, confirming my fears. My anxiety started to show, and father was startled. He tried telling me that it’s okay, but I already know about the possible side effects, one of which being especially fatal to his condition.

I started looking for the doctor’s number, wondering whether he’ll pick up after midnight on a holiday, when my sister finally called back. After a hysterical episode of wondering why the heck she didn’t pick up earlier, which dad managed to hear, she informed me that he took all the rest of the pills from the strips, and that the box is still in her purse, untouched. Incredulous, I made her open it and make sure that the extra pill is still there, which she did, pitying me of course.

Now that’s not even the hardest part. The hardest part was two minutes later, when I dived in the couch with a relieved sigh, and dad lost it because of me. His rage was quite spectacular, not because of its nature, but rather because of what it made me realize; that I was my dad’s sole source of stress. I unintentionally did that because of how excruciatingly careful I’d been concerning his condition. Of course I reacted a dozen of times. This time though, his peace was irked in a way that didn’t exempt me from harsh censure. He actually warned me that I might kill him with my obsessiveness one day. I was stunned.

Since that day, I’d practiced one advice I’ve been given two months earlier by my grandpa, when he’d noticed the deterioration in my health after dad’s operation. He told me: “You’ve done your job, now leave it to Him”. Up until that night of rage, I never had it in me to be that cool – maybe it was lack of faith, maybe the situation was actually that hard, it could be a lot of reasons, but I never gave dad the comfort or space I was supposed to provide.

Surprisingly, I got better when I did that. Emotionally and physically better. Dad, too, became calmer all in all, and assumed a relieved, quite stable condition, that I’m monitoring from afar. And these days I’m asking myself: did he have to do that? Did he have to reprimand me that sternly? Was I locked in such a miserable trance, that I had to be shaken out of it that violently? You know what, maybe I was.

And then I think about the question I asked on the top of this post. Would my Mom have given me a similar kind of guidance? If she sees the length of the pause I’ve been stuck in for like two years now, not knowing what, or who would make me happy, not knowing what is wrong with me, not knowing about what is coming, and whether I’m prepared, and what and what not, and all of those stuff, weighing on my heart, and soul, and mind, and my entire being, would she slap me back to my senses?

Sometimes I imagine her giving me an order, you know? Like: go do this. Stop thinking. Go freaking do this, and that. And just because she said I should, I would. I want that comfort. I want to throw away the wisdom of my decisions on someone else’s shoulder. I’m too tired from life, that’s how I feel these days. I admit it: I want someone to think on my behalf for a change. It’s been too much, lately.

“Why do you ask me to do something for you, when you know that you’re perfectly capable of doing it?”, says my sister.

“Because it makes me happy, knowing that you’d do it for me, in spite of that”, I reply.

May you never feel like I feel,

A break

I had a very tumultuous day today. I tried to distract myself with a book and was only rewarded with vanity. Rarely before had my confusion been so fierce. I feel dizzy for it.

The thought of going offline has been playing with my senses for a quite a while, but today the urge’s been unbearably strong. And I am officially afraid for my health. Friday was a kind day to me, but then things went downhill again. I never imagined I’d suffer this much when I’m alone with that head of mine.

Now listen. I know I’m not entitled to ask for personal favors from any of you, and I kind of believe that me writing words for you to read across all these years doesn’t really merit the compassion I might imagine it should, but today I have this one honest, sincere wish: pray for me. And no, not in your head. I beg of you to actually pray with words for me, my health, my sanity and guidance from Him, not in a comment, not in a message, and not while you’re reading this, but while your forehead is on the ground.

I really can’t put in words how much I need that. I really really can’t.

Hard times for the ibhog.

Be well,

The one after the last

Ibraheem,

I know I stopped writing to you, but since I’d done that, I became only aware of how words were only brushing off from something profounder; a certain connection of sorts, that would realize itself into my consciousness after I wake up, and then bury itself softly into my subconscious the minute I fall asleep. I’m not sure if I can call it love, for I think I’m bashful enough today, nor do I think I can call it infatuation, for I’m proud enough, but it’s there, ibhog, and in its being there, like a concrete rock on the ground, lie its sheer reality.

I know you’re on a long pause, and I know how relentless your depression has become, all from the mere, deafening silence of you. I would narrate to you the dreams I have of you, but then again that connection, it dwarfs all dreams. It is wordless, and thoughtless. It does not merit presentation, for it is but present. It is me.

Listen. I want you to be well. This is free of attachment. I don’t believe you’d grasp the amount of longing I have for you that aches at my every pore, but tonight, I don’t want you – I just want you to be well. I want you to sigh peacefully, for although we’re a sea apart, that vibrant, unsettled heartbeat of yours, had actually reached the pit of my stomach, and I wake up in tears.

The world is in chaos, and I sense the commotions in your chest. It’s like I see it in my sky. Like I’m inside of you, and the minute you wince in pain, it thunders above me, and I feel so helpless, because then I wish I could fly and hug the sky, that way you’d be comforted from your inside, that way I’d warm you in the heart, but I just, can’t, Ibraheem. I instead keep weeping in absolute stillness, looking at the heavens, wet with the rain that’s your uncried tears, and looking at the world around me, inside you, and wondering: why is no one hugging him up there.

Ah, ibhog. I wish I could push a play button somewhere on you, so you’d be free of you.

Until then, I’m in the shade, somewhere in the corner of your chest, looking anxiously at that sky, hoping it might someday clear.

Please, be well, ibhog. For the sake of those who love you.

Yours for eternity,

N.

Abandoned Cashmere – II

This was written before I traveled to Dubai. I have to admit I detested this city, and I returned with more ailments than the ones I went with. Maybe a post on that later, isA.

When God doesn’t answer a prayer of yours, you usually wait for justification. We tend to accuse the human’s weakness, rather than their devilry, when it comes to such foul attitude towards God! In His benevolence, however, He shows us why, sometimes after whole years, but not in subtle signs, rather in full fledged life happenings, with all the reality a happening entails, sadness or felicity. Hardship after the other, I learned why my Friday prayers are taking such a long road. It seems that not only had I needed certain phases of roughing, but that it wasn’t entirely about me.

The cashmere scarf watched silently as my country fell apart and when I had to endure some of the darkest moments in my life, wrestling back humongous amounts of emotional and sometimes physical pain. It never smirked when after a short repose the tide lowed again, with the death of my young cousin, the illness of my grandma, her eventual decease, the death of my step mother’s mom, then the catastrophic events surrounding my sister’s safety. It enjoyed the quiet company of its fellow diamond ring, when at the end, my own father’s heart failed him, and I had to exert my literal existence, for it pass to safely with it still beating that warm rhythm of it.

I’m now lying in a semi-agitated pond of emotional, physical and financial convalescence, and asking myself: why? But I then retort against this boring denial and tell myself that, this is why. I imagine all those difficult moments of concern, fear and panic as two rows of people, between whom I’d passed through, somewhat safely, and then them looking at me, puzzled with my frustration with them! You have passed this gauntlet unperturbed, and instead of being thankful, you have the audacity to question our existence, not knowing that it was all for you, they said with their eyes.

This kind of preparatory purgatory (excuse the unintended, cliched rhyme), accumulative, infinitely significant in its subtle design, like a ladder that goes up, or through, doesn’t matter, is especially made for me, by Him. However, that is not so I could feel all elated and lofty, quite the contrary, for I had also learned that with rounds and rounds of cause and effect, of why and because, it could all boil down to this: it is all for you, but along with you it is all for someone else. That someone is my father.

This is a very intricate web only a deity is capable of protecting, and it is simpler than my mind with its alleged, stupid power could ever grasp. So I’m taming my heart to take my mind’s disappointed place, and teaching it to believe in all of it. I am still afraid more people will extend that gauntlet, but at least I should start and acknowledge some of the wisdom behind them.

I stand by the cashmere now, sad.

Because still, after all of my practical philosophy, I yearn her. Am I mistaking a temporary, flustered pond of peace for being finally ready? Have I mistaken those hardships, very humble compared to some others’ troubles, as a proud rite of passage? Or am I just an exhausted tumbling existence in need of graceful company?

I think, with all the meekness this verb could grasp, that I just.. might.. be ready?

Ah, where art thou, my weary friend? I’m done with cashmere and diamond. I’m now a sad, wrung wad of losses, yet a considerable piece of experience, and I just need your unconditional existence.

You caught my last Friday’s prayer.

Did it catch you?

Are you praying for me?