Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for May, 2020

Dear God,

I know You know everything I am going to say before I say it, so let me thank You for the opportunity to discover what I am going to say for myself.

Before the month of Ramadan came, I taught over ZOOM about the experience of praying to You. I described it as therapy. I even mentioned that if someone can’t find the right words while making du’a, they can always write a letter to You. So I am taking my own advice right now.

There is no way I can summarize everything that has led me to this point. Even though I have lived it and am the world’s foremost expert, explaining my autobiography involves a bit of selection from the mass of daily events that encompass my lived experience of walking the road back to You, in the world created by You, with the body You have given me, amidst the thoughts that only You and I know. You remember it all in perfect detail from every angle, so I guess recalling it is just for my own benefit.

Let me start on the day I prayed istikhara about going to the Philippines in the following week. It is something I really wanted to do. I had been thinking about it for a year. Now or never. And then I googled “Manila” and there was a volcano erupting. That’s a pretty clear istikhara. I focus on that moment because I knew there was a lot of my nafs in my desire to make that trip. The reason I made the ikstikhara is because I just couldn’t tease out where my nafs ended and more noble concerns began. It was all jumbled together. Would I be traveling to get a break from my wife and son, or to visit a country that my country formally oppressed? Would I be getting on a plane to reflect on a part of Your creation I have never seen, or was I simply looking for a little bit of adventure.

But it is what it is. That was such a clear moment, when I finally tipped into just leaving it up to You, and You gave me such a clear answer.

I think that is what frustrates me sometimes. Since I am thinking it I might as well say it – sometimes I wish You would just give me more of what I want.

But perhaps I am writing this letter to You to acknowledge that that time is over.

The idea of “I want” doesn’t mean what it used to mean. I can no longer see clearly what I want, because what I want has often had to be avoided, suppressed, given up, or even eradicated.

I think if a different sequence of events had led to this moment I would have been in a state of doubt. The fact that a fundamental part of my adult sense of self is withering away would have been too much to bear, and I would want to rise up and seize the situation. “No,” the hero says, “life is about living your dreams, and even though I am getting old I still have a lot of life left in me yet!’

But it is the month of Ramadan now, and the world out there feels like the world inside.

الدنيا سجن المؤمن

ُThe Earth is a prison for the believer.

Everyone in the Philippines is probably wearing a facemask right now, staying inside. There are no halal restaurants open in Manila to explore in the warm evening air. There is no “there” to go that is really different from “here.” Everywhere we might run, we have to face the truth.

ضَاقَتْ عَلَيْهِمُ الْأَرْضُ بِمَا رَحُبَتْ وَضَاقَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ أَنفُسُهُمْ وَظَنُّوا أَن لَّا مَلْجَأَ مِنَ اللَّهِ إِلَّا إِلَيْهِ

The earth has become narrow despite its expanse, and our own souls weigh heavily on us, and we know that there is no refuge from Allah except to Allah.

There is nowhere to flee to right now. All that my nafs wants exists merely in my own mind and heart, a tiny kingdom of selfish fantasy trying to defend against my mental jihad.

So I guess this brings me to my request.

I accept that this is where I have arrived at this moment.

I accept that despite the hurt inside, there is good in this.

So I am asking You to strengthen the ranks of my ‘aql, and give us victory in an onslaught against the nafs that seeks to break through a line of its defenses that have never fallen before.

Let me heed the words of Ayatollah Amini رحمة الله عليه when he wrote:

“If we address our self, we must say: You belong to the heavenly kingdom of knowledge, life, perfection, virtues, benevolence and blessings; you are God’s Vicegerent upon the earth; you are human and have been created for eternal life in the Next World and God’s Nearness; you are superior than animals and following animalistic passions is not worthy of your existence.”

Help me to believe that I can become someone whom I have never been.

You know me better than I know me.

You have brought me here, my Lord.

Now guide me on the next leg of the journey, because I don’t know where to go.

اللهم صل على محمد و آل محمد

1_9973eXI_e8CBgZS_mW550Q

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: