I remember sitting with my publisher and them saying: “I wouldn’t put this one in the book. It’s too preachy”.
Here’s to you. Written August 2012, and feels like a different era.
I still want to be back to Him.
Okay, it’s been ages so I’m just gonna cut into the chase. It’d be long, but I want you to at least read the lesson learned.
I want to be better. I want to be better with God. One of the reasons I changed the banner of this blog (yes, check it out) is that I need change that would lead me somehow into that direction. I know a picture isn’t suddenly going to turn me into a religious man, or at once make me achieve all that I which I’ve been wanting to achieve, for ages.
Last year after Ramadan I made a pact with myself. I told myself that staying on the right path is more challenging than actually finding it; I mean, we always walk that right path every year after Ramadan, but we all differ in the amount of time we spend sticking to it. So, the first lesson I applied after having learned for very long years, is the art of gradual improvement.
You see faith is at times like a mountain you just have to climb. You throw a rope to the highest height of it, hope it hooks to something, and then start holding on to it, and go up at a meticulously chosen pace, so that you won’t get too tired and fall into your ruins or be too slow and stay at the bottom forever. That’s what I did, and I prayed to God everyday to grant me persistence, to make me committed to this journey and to teach me how to be easy on myself.
It worked. It worked for much more months than it had ever before, and in them waves of the amiable sea of belief; in them lands evergreen with God’s mercy, companionship and guidance, I trudged the path up that mountain. It gave me hope, it made be feel better, made me happier and .. rare as it is .. gave me purpose.
Two things happened, though. One of them is a lesson I would like to share.
Islam requires work. Reading through Quran and its Tafsir (interpretation), I felt euphoric. I love reading good stuff, and let me tell you, Quran is the best there is to enjoy reading, it surpasses any other literature, and its such an amazing space for imagination and contemplation (two of my favorite day to day happenings), and its Tafsir (especially Said Qutb’s) is a completely different realm. However, Islam isn’t there to just make us euphoric.
Islam requires work. It’s full of tests and hardships. This was absolutely shocking for me, with every verse in the Quran I learn by heart, comes a test to rectify that knowledge about it. It usually feels like a hit that ousts you out of your balance, that vibrates your notion of hope so hard you thrive, and it’s such a difficult rite of passage, continuous labor with your patience. God wants to see if you really learned your lessons, God wants to know that He could count on you, that YOU know Islam can count on you.
I’ve listened to many audio streams for scholars talking about our Prophet’s life, and it was nothing but that; a series of heart purging passages; a chain of extraordinary tests of faith. It was like the Prophet was building a massive wall out of his companions souls, the wall that extended to the farthings of earth, protecting the divine message.
So I’ve been hit with such an infinitesimal trouble compared to the ones that rained the Prophet and his companions, and to be honest, I was severely shaken. I didn’t expect it would be this hard. However, the euphoria, the good night sleep, the agony-free kind of pillow? It was worth it. Was really worth it. Because at the end, it was all love. It was full of love. God’s love. It’s the most amazing kind of love.
It’s the kind of love you’ll forever feel lost without. You don’t know how your life was before it, and you would never know how your life would survive without it in the future.
Faith needs work. It’s simple. Do good deeds. Hasanat. Yes, it’s just THAT simple. I hate philosophizing in this, faith is in the heart, but it needs constant recharging, it’s simple maths. And with days, my acts of recharging got fewer, and hence, I stopped. I stopped learning about the verses, and so they stopped using me to get the world.
That was the lesson: it’s not just about making us feel better, there are assignments involved.
The second thing that happened was a stupid movie. I even remember its name ‘Real Steel’. It was a Saturday morning, I had finished praying Fajr, returned back to my Tafsir reading, revised the verses I memorized the night before, and after finishing, I didn’t hold back my desire to watch the movie.
The sad thing is, I knew about what would happen, because it’s actually happened to me before. Movies affect my faith that way, I hate them because of that. I once got halfway up that mountain, and a movie suddenly emerged from the top, glared at me, took a massive rock, hoisted it up as much as it could, and fired it down across the mountain; it flied supersonic and crashed into my face. The hit was so catapultian it buried me head first in the ground, in a hole induced by the strength of the blow. I was a wreck. I rise up in my own gore, look up and the halfway becomes zero way, and the movie guffawing up there in the dark, disappears, leaving me to mourn me.
I’m down there now, trying to clear distractions. But I’m relatively healed. The scars on my face are the lesson. I’m preparing my rope, and I can see the top of the mountain clearly. I’m about to throw it. I want to throw it. I want to be back to Quran, to reading its Tafsirs, and I’m hoping this time I would be ready for the practical lessons, and I’m hoping this time I won’t succumb to movies; because every time I tell myself it’s okay; don’t be harsh on thyself ibhog, watch something every now and then, the chain of practical lessons gets broken; maybe I didn’t learn yet how to plant myself back again, but right now I know I shouldn’t test myself with things I can’t do.
I need prayers. It’s Ramadan, and it’s my only golden opportunity presented by Him.
I WANT TO BE BACK TO HIM.