“Hold my bag.” I turned to my friend, and handed her my backpack.
“Why? Where are you going?”
“Don’t worry, I need to sort something out…” I replied, as I gave her a mischievous smile. She knew something was up.
The next hour I spent running around the school, just chilling out and a lot more! I was 14 after all, that’s what we do right? Have fun, or supposed fun, as it’s always coupled with trouble. It was a strange day for me, full of internal conflicts. I wanted to have fun, like most girls do. Then again I had opted to join my grandparents for Hajj, and tomorrow was the beginning of my journey. These past few months I was fighting an inner struggle to change, to turn a leaf. Truly, going along with the flow, the bullying, the fights, standing up for myself and then for my sister had drained me. I wanted a way out. For a 14 year old, I had been through my fair share of struggle. I didn’t know school would be so rough.
This Ramadhan had been different, this Ramadhan I had spent thirty minutes of my lunch time praying Dhur and contemplating. It’s fard right, so what is the big deal you may ask? It was a big thing to me, as out of over 500 Muslim pupils in my secondary school only 3 sisters chose to pray, and this year I was blessed by the One above, Al-‘Alaa to join others in a life changing journey. Indeed I had been blessed. My choice of a friend had paid off, she had helped me more than I would have ever envisioned.
Allah is indeed great, and He wishes us to have a great return, to Him, and towards His pleasure. As her journey began she started to learn lessons, and through these lessons of someone who changed, through moments she cherished we shall learn lessons and if you embark on your own journey, you would cherish too, insha Allah.
1. I await your return
The first lesson is when you desire to change, then Allah will embrace you, He understands you more than you understand yourself. He knows beyond the mask you’re showing to the world, lies a person awaiting their return.
Allah says in a Hadeeth Qudsi: “I am as My servant thinks I am. I am with him when he makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assemble better than it. And if he draws near to Me an arm’s length, I draw near to him a fathom’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.” [1. It was related by al-Bukhari, Muslim, At-Tirmidhi and Ibn-Majah].
What do you think of the person who is blessed with an amazing mother, she cares for her every day, gives her all he needs, but still this child abuses their mother? It hurts right? To even think of such a state causes us pain, even though we may fall into the same despised crime. When Yunus ran away from Allah he was preparing himself for his own demise, but our Lord is so merciful, and as Yunus took a step to Allah , do you think Allah would let him down? You’re right, He didn’t, and He won’t let you go astray either. Are you ready to rise?
2. Change is instant, it lasts.
The second lesson was change can be instant. It can be so deep that life will never return as it was. ‘Umar bin Khattab embraced Islam almost instantly, his change was so sudden that it shocked him and others around him. He became from the worst to the Crème da le Crème!
Our Heroine embraced wearing the abayah that night, it was sudden and she remained in this state until this very day. Many times we fear embracing what we really want, because we fear we’ll give up. You need to embrace your fears. If you truly believe that you’re going to remain firm, once you begin, then Allah has promised you and I, that we will succeed in our goal. Wait. I’ll prove it to you.
The Messenger of Allah said: “I treat my servant according to his expectations from Me, and I am with him when he remembers me. If he remembers Me in his heart, I remember him in My heart…. if he walks towards Me, I run unto him.” [2. Hadith Qudsi]
If you have high hopes that Allah will give you a great return, then He will, there is no doubt about it, absolutely none! You shall indeed rise.
3. Everything starts great…
The third lesson is that you will eventually slip, and when you do you need to bounce back, in fact you need to anticipate it, and prepare to overcome it as quick as possible every time insha Allah. Generally for you to reach your goal of gaining closeness to Allah is hard, it’s tough and at times painful. However, eventually time goes on and things become easier, you achieve your goal. Then, as time goes by we as humans are prone to slip and the days to come aren’t as sweet as those which have passed. When you first went through that struggle to come closer to Allah your ‘ibaadah was a great, but as time goes on, it lessens every day, other than the rare EmanRush, right? Whether it’s a seminar or being touched by a story.
The Messenger of Allah said: “The most beloved of deeds to Allah are the most consistent of them, even if they are few” [3. AlBukhari and Muslim]
Focus on doing little, hoping that it will remain, rather than going for gold which comes once in a while, and even then leaves you depressed during the search. Work hard year round, so you can benefit from the gold pleasurably. As it is only with deeds which help you come closer to Allah .
4. You will be tested.
The forth lesson was; prepare to go through the sunshine, the rain, the thunder and perhaps even a hurricane, it’s going to come, you just need to prepare. Okay this was the painful part. If you’ve attended Hajj you know where I’m headed with this, ahem! The Prophets were tested, the Companions were tested, the Imams were tested, and the righteous people were also tested, those who *try* to do good are tested. Now do you think you’re safe?
Allah reminds us in the Qur’an: “And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad? tidings to as-Saabireen (the patient ones). Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: “Inna lillaahi wa Inna Ilaihi Raaji’un (Verily to Allah we belong and verily, to Him we shall return).”?They are those on whom are the Salawaat (i.e. who are blessed and will be forgiven) from their Lord, and (they are? those who) receive His Mercy, and it is they who are the guided-ones.” [4. Surah Bakarah: 2:155-157]
In this ayat Allah goes beyond the trials we face on daily basis, He makes us understand that it can be worse, it may be worse, but if you’re strong and patient the reward will be greater.
And I end with this, everyone goes through a journey and this journey can help you come out stronger, or leave you crippled in terms of your Hereafter. The end result is your choice. Just make the right one, as there are dire consequences involved.
This was my story, and I hope you begin yours. May Allah allow us to pass away believing in Him, as we entered into this life doing the same.
Alima Ashfaq is the founder of I am Alima and hopes to transform it into the forefront of assisting women come closer to Allah (swt). She is the author of a number of publications, most notably Du’as of the Superstars.