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Monthly Archives: November 2013

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2.0 is not a fan of ambiguity

To make a long story short, the not-for profit autism intervention service that I founded three years ago is in danger of going under.  Partly due to a long string of non-paying parents, and partly due to a chronically ill, depressed, and mentally spazztastic director.  That would be me.  I’m the chronically ill, currently a lil bit depressed, and often spazztastic director.

*waves*

And I’m going to hold the internet hostage until I can find twenty thousand dirhams to renew my business license next month.

And by hostage, I mean I’m on break from twitter, FB, and heavy blogging until I can keep my ship from going under.

No need to comment, unless you’re one of those rich UAE sheikhs who gives people cars as hostess gifts.  Or a person who wants to send me money for some strange reason.

So I’m really sorry, but I’m mentally in so many places that I haven’t the brain cells to be here as well as there.

And I’m sad and scared and praying that Allah saves AutismUAE as well as my sanity.  And I’d be grateful if you could too.

JazakAllahuKheiran.

Hooray!

Everyone has a purpose in this life.  Sometimes I think mine may be to give medical staff something funny to talk about over break, MashaAllah.

My doctors are trying to figure out if my POTS, progressive weakness & neuropathy are caused by an underlying auto-immune disorder, which isn’t entirely unheard of.  One of the way they’re doing this is through a lip biopsy.

So I went in for a lip biopsy on errr… two days ago, and the procedure was very simple.  The surgeon gave me some lidocaine, then he took a pair of scissors and cut a tiny piece from the inside of my mouth.  Then I wondered why they called it a lip biopsy if they didn’t take anything from my lip.

Then, he gave me three stitches and said, “All done! We’ll get back to you with the results in about a week!”

So I stood up, said thank you, and walked out.

I made it as far as the reception before I passed out. It was awesome.  One second I was like Excuse me, can I pay my bill? and the next minute I was all like Floor, Y U No hold still?

I was standing in line when my ears started ringing and I noticed darkness closing in around the edge of my vision.  I managed to hold on to the counter and mumble “I’m going to pass out…”

I don’t know what the receptionist said in reply, because after that was all cold, dark, and miserable.  Passing out is only fun in movies.  In real life, it’s feels like falling straight down into a cold, dark, nauseating chasm.  When I opened my eyes I was in a bed surrounded by confused looking nurses, since they worked in the outpatient clinic, not the ER.  My surgeon’s nurse was there too, and when I opened my eyes she said accusingly, “You said you were ok!”

I apologized to her.  And to the other nurses.  And to my surgeon, as well as the ER doctor when they were able to wheel me down there.  I’m not sure why I felt so guilty, but my fuzzy brain felt as though I had sorely inconvenienced them by passing out in the middle of the hallway- like any polite person would have gone and discretely passed out behind a potted plant so as to not disturb anyone.

I called HF, and he hopped into a taxi and brought the entire entourage to pick me up.  The kids oohed and aahed at the BP and heart rate machine.  Khalid and Iman tested their own blood oxygen levels repeatedly.

HF made small talk with the doctor, who was a distinguished looking African man with curly white hair and sense of humor.

“Your wife says this happens to her sometimes.  It’s from the POTS.  She’ll be ok.”

“I know,” HF said, shaking his head at me. “She does this just to get my attention.”

“All wives are like this,” the doctor smiled, winking at me.

We went home, had HF’s parents over for dinner, and I guess the kids were put to bed but I wouldn’t know, because I fell asleep before 8pm.  And that’s my medical misadventure for this week.  The End.

 

This is NOT complaining

This is an elaborate status update that you didn’t ask for.  But it’s not complaining.

PrettyI’ve been cat-sitting for my sister’s cats for a week or so now, and they follow me from room to room mewling expectantly.   Whenever I sit down to work they loll all over the keyboard, chew the wires, yowl at me, and play with my mouse.  This would be cute if I didn’t have children who already follow me from room to room mewling expectantly.

And they loll all over my keyboard.

And they play with my mouse.

I’m behind in work and there’s a mom who’s mad at me.  She has every right to be- she asked for an urgent invoice copy (granted, it was an urgent request) and I said I would try to get back to her asap.  But Khalid recovering from Sunday’s dental surgery has been a two-day teetering on the verge of meltdown and dental sabotage.  If he is not kept distracted, he either rages about the new hardware installed in his mouth, or goes somewhere private to try and pull it out.  Were he to succeed, it would be the third time he has removed supposedly “unremovable” dental work- crowns, spacers, bridges… you name it and he’s ripped it out.  With the exception of fillings, anything that we pay a dentist to put into Khalid’s mouth is in perpetual danger of being removed.

Khalid OROh right- I didn’t update: Khalid broke a tooth on Saturday night. On Sunday morning he had dental surgery under general anaesthesia to remove an abscessed molar, fix the broken canine with a root canal, fill four cavities, and then install a lingual arch to maintain the spacing and position of Khalid’s teeth.  Since so many teeth have been removed at one point or another, they’re starting to shift around, and unless we keep them in place, his permanent teeth will be affected.

Coming out of anaesthesia is hard enough for adults- I’ve done it many times and it’s always horrible- but for Khalid, it makes him fighting mad.  Literally.  He actually hit me, and it’s been years since he did.  He was raging, kicking, screaming, fighting mad for around an hour, and no one from the clinic staff could so much as look at him without setting him off again.  He and I laid in the recovery room together, me holding his hands to the iPhone I wanted him to focus on, and him crying and periodically fighting to reach into his mouth and start pulling on whatever he could find.

We spent the rest of the day just watching him and trying to keep Iman and Musfira from getting too close to Khalid.  He was angry and irritable for two days- and today is Wednesday and he went off to school happily Alhamdulillah.  He remembers his teeth when he’s eating, but it’s gotten easier to redirect him or distract him.  The trick is to NOT talk about teeth.  At all.  ever.

We used to joke that Khalid’s teeth were worth a used Corolla. MashaAllah, they are now worth a used Lexus. 😉  Our insurance does not cover dental work, and on top of that, Khalid gets his dental work done in an operating theatre under general anaesthesia.  So that means we never just pay for fillings or a cleaning or a crown- we pay for the anaesthesiologist, his nurse, the operating theater, and THEN we pay for the dental work.

(And then, Khalid tears it out.)

Khalid Post OpIn parallel, HF is out of the country.  He’ll be back by Sunday, and when he returns, I will greet him with our traditional family salutation upon return from travels:  Welcome home. I’m burning your passport.

I’ve been sick. It’s nothing too terrible- a small bug going around from the change of weather here in the UAE.  Musfira had it and threw up.  I got it and was nauseated but still functional.  I’ve been operating solo for the past week and running on fumes, a whole lot of forgetfulness, and the stubborn determination to keep things afloat just until HF gets home and not a moment longer than that.  Then, once I’ve burned his passport, I’m going to collapse into a blubbering heap of housewife and demand cuddles and catering until it all feels better.

Do I sound tired? I am.  I’m not complaining though- because even in this there is a reward for patience as well as the opportunity for growth.  I have this crazy stress response sometimes- when I’m overwhelmed with work, the kids are whining, and my phone is buzzing with unreturned calls- I get domestic.  The last time I got put on steroids to recover from bronchitis it gave me a serious case of the Irrational Angries.  I couldn’t talk to my children without snapping at them.  Their tiny, sweet hands felt like grabby little claws, and their innocent requests sounded like the shrieking of baby banshees.  So what did I do?

I sewed a princess hat.

Really.  Iman and Musfira and I went into my office, dusted off my sewing machine, and started sewing.  We made a pointy princess hat with a veil and a strap, and it was a pink satin masterpiece.  And no one got yelled at and no one died.  Alhamdulillah.

BouganvilleaYesterday, when the kid/cat/work combination had me wanting to run away and hide in my bathroom until HF got home, I went and got the hedge clippers, a bucket of water, and some sponges.  We went outside where the weather was lovely- and in the cool winter breeze with warm late-afternoon sun, I enjoyed the simple, uncomplicated snip snip snip of the clippers as I trimmed back yards of thorny pink blossoms from our front entrance.  The girls giggled and threw soapy water at each other and sometimes even at the car.  Khalid chased the cats around inside the house, and I recited Qur’an and gardened until I felt better.  And really, I did.  Alhamdulillah.

So here I am with a mountain of work pending, groceries need to be bought, and some very hugely important excel files need to be created- and here I am writing.  Because it makes me feel better.

photo 2 (1)Also, I’ve decided that if Sleeping Beauty’s castle had been surrounded by bougainvillaea instead of plain ole enchanted thorns, Prince Charming would have given up before making it past the drawbridge.  Bougainvillaea is vicious, and the only reason why it has such pretty flowers is to lull you into a state of flowery pink security before tearing your skin off.

And now the cats have woken up and discovered this blog, even as I am typing it.  See?

Sometime between now and Saturday I need to de-fur the house before HF returns- he’s allergic to cats- and hand them over into the care of another person.

But here’s why this is not complaining.  I sent the mom the invoice and I apologized.  I didn’t say “I’m so sorry, I’m sick and my son had emergency dental surgery and my sisters cats are bothering me because she’s in the US looking for a neurosurgeon because HER BRAIN IS GOING TO EXPLODE and my husband is out of town and I am chronically ill and we don’t have groceries right now” because you know what? It sounds so… prima donna.  I’m sure she has her own problems, and she has her own stresses- her own work and her own son with autism, so what difference does it make if I’m sick or my sister’s sick or my husband’s out of town?  It isn’t about oneupmanship.  It’s about taking responsibility.  So the invoice is late, and I’m sorry.

By Abez, the end. 

 

The only kind of counterstrike I play

One of the ways that Shaitaan tries to bring me down is to get me to use the internet for wandering into distraction versus addressing any cause of my stress, or Shaitaan-Forbid- actually making dua or something.

So I use his own trick against him and use the internet to bring me closer to Allah.  See, I let him think  I’m getting online to waste time, and I even get so far as opening youtube, but right when he’s looking the other way, PEW PEW PEW! I fire a round of this at him!

Life after death before death

LifeAfterpoem

8_24

“O you who have believed, respond to Allah and to the Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life.

And know that Allah intervenes between a man and his heart and that to Him you will be gathered.”

The Qur’an, Surah Al Anfal, line 24

Dua or a Dollar for the Philippines

I have a special relationship with the Philippines- even though I doubt the islands know.  When my son was diagnosed with autism and my husband and I were struggling to meet his monthly therapy needs and begging Allah for help, He gave us a special needs teacher and ABA therapist from there whose passion, energy, and relentless dedication firmly paved the way for the amazing future he’s living now.

When I took a leap of faith and founded an early intervention service for children on the autism spectrum- she was a founding member, and together we hired a team of amazing special needs educators- all of whom were from the Philippines.

We’ve travelled there together many times during the past few years, and there she’s been my tour guide as well as an ambassador for the country and the people she loves.  She’s taken me to the beautiful, historically significant Fort Santiago, as well as the homely, close streets of the poor Muslim neighbourhood of Quiapo, where she stood guard as I prayed in one of Manila’s few large masjids.

She took me through merchant-filled underpasses in Baclaran, an underwater shark tunnel in Ocean City, and the slums in Manila where one man’s trash is literally, another’s treasure- entire families live in dark, jumbled lean-tos made of discarded billboard, banners, cardboard, and desperation.

She carefully- and protectively- showed me the edge of one cabaret and red-light district, where the “Lovely Ms. Lemon” was slated for performance-  her thin, disturbingly young looking body barely dressed and cheaply displayed on a poster outside of the bar.

She’s steered this amazed, insulated, first-world Muslim past the casinos and La Lechon buffets to safety and pleasant surprises at a Mom & Pop halal kitchen in a house in Quiapo.  She’s told me when I should lock the car doors and when I can roll down the window and gawk in amazement.  She’s showed me a side of the Philippines- however limited- that no five-star tourist would be able to see, and what I’ve learned amazes me.

I’ve learned that the pleasant Filipina receptionist with the policy-mandated smile may actually hold a Master’s degree in Business Administration, but will have taken the job to escape the poor economy, poverty, and endless cycle of debt some families live in back home.  She may be living in a shared bedspace, paying half of her salary to rent a single bunk in a room of ten or more, with access to a shared kitchen and a single bathroom where each resident keeps a neatly labeled basket with their own soap, tissues, and toothpaste.

I’ve learned the people leave their children with aunts and grandmothers for years at a time so they can try to cover school fees and housing costs with their meager incomes, working low-level service jobs here in Dubai.

I learned that the Filipino driver who is on call 24 hours a day and hasn’t been home in five years is counting down the days until his daughter gradates from medical school back home.  That the housekeeper with a nursing degree is grateful to have a job that wasn’t a scam for a brothel- and that the ladies who share rooms in Karama live in fear of rape, because the petite, polite, and well-polished Filipinas are common targets for intimidation and sexual exploitation.

I learned that to address a Filipina with respect I use Atay, which is the tagalog equivalent of Baji (big sister) and that Atay’s counterpart is Kooya.  Our friends are maray and paray.  And they make this amazing thing called adobo and it’s beautiful on buttered garlic rice.

Here in the UAE, people from the Philippines fill a majority of jobs in the service industry.  All but two of the employees in my local beauty salon are from the Philippines, and yesterday when I entered for a well-needed foot-scrub, the mood seemed markedly less cheerful than usual.  Instead of being greeted with the usual “Hello Madame,” I was quietly shown to a comfortable chair where Jane- who has been working there for the past five years, was quietly filling a basin with soap and fragrant bath salts.

She wordlessly took my feet and began washing them, and as she worked her hands over my bubble, lavender-scented feet, I couldn’t help but stare.  Her face was… pained.

After a few moments I carefully ventured, “There’s a terrible typhoon in the Philippines right now.”

“Yes ma’am, a superstorm.” She replied flatly, now taking one of my feet in her lap and preparing to pumice it.

“I was getting ready to travel there again, I do hope everything there is alright.”

She scrubbed for a few more moments and then surprised me.

“My parents are very old- 74 and 75.  They stay with my niece, who’s 9.  They’re ok, but the water- it was up to here.”  She lifted up the hand with the pumice stone to her eyes.  “My family is from a western province.  The typhoon is in the south.”

“I’m glad they’re ok.”

Another employee- who went home to deliver a baby just a few months ago, walked through quietly on her way to another part of the salon.   Jane gestured to her subtly.

“Atay is not ok.  Her family is from Samar. She can’t reach them.”

Atay headed back through the pedicure room, her face flat.  I wondered where her baby was.  I bet she was wondering too.

I’ve never had a pedicure that made me cry before.    I think Jane could probably say the same.  She scrubbed away, her eyes welling with tears that she wiped away with the back of her hand before they could spill over.

“It’s hard,” she said quietly. “You save and save small small amounts. And then your house is gone- it’s destroyed.”

PhilippinesTyphoon Haiyan was three times stronger than Hurricane Katrina, and in some areas of the Philippines, people were still living in tents- refugees from last month’s major earthquake.  10,000 people are estimated to have died in one region alone- and as aid agencies are struggling to respond, debris clogs the streets and bodies float in the waterways.

Allah sent Islam as a mercy to mankind, and Muslims are instructed to have mercy- not only for other Muslims, but for all of mankind.

There are an armload of places and worthy causes that need help right now, and trying to put the Philippines in some sort of tragedy competition is not the point.  Shaitaan would like you to believe that you can only help one people (Muslim vs. Non), or one place (Syria vs. Palestine) at a time.  The truth is though, there’s no limit to how many people, how many times, or in how many places you can help.  However much you help, Allah will reward you.  However much Allah rewards you, your sins will be erased and your rank will be raised in the Aakhira.

Whether you help with a dollar or a dua, please help.

Dear Not a Loser…

“Asalaamualaikum please don’t think dat i am belittling your problems but i want to kill myself but i cant as it is prohibited i feel i am accumulating sins day by day isn’t it better for me to die i am not satisfied with my life i don’t want to do engineering but for my parents sake i have to and i am not able to observe completely rules of hijab in the college i wanno cry and shriek dat i cant carry on anymore with this life which i am almost sure will lead me to hell. -Loser”

AssalamuAlaikum Sister, please note that I refuse to call you a Loser. 🙂  Now bear with me as I go off on a bit of a tangent.

Shaitaan is possibly millions of years old and pretty damn sneaky.  His goal, at the end of the day, is to get as many of us into hell with him as possible, and one of the ways that he does this is using the myth of what I call “Muslim Perfection.”

The idea is pretty simple.  Shaitaan says:

Do it all perfectly or just stop, because you’re embarrassing yourself.

A person as horrible as you are has no chance of getting into Jannah.  

In fact, just kill yourself now.  At least it will be over sooner.

Al-imām Sufyaan ath-Thawri (161 H) is known as one of the Eight Ascetics of his age.  He was, rahimahullah, 'aabid – a worshipper. Twenty years of Jihad by night.  No sweetness was experienced by ath-Thawri (rahimahullah) for twenty years? Nevertheless he kept the course with unwavering inspirational sabr.  He struggled in fear, campaigned in love, and toiled in hope of Allāh. http://muslimmatters.org/2010/04/12/jihad-by-night-yahya-ibrahim/

Al-imām Sufyaan ath-Thawri (161 H) struggled for twenty years to enjoy night salah- but he kept it up until he did.  For twenty years.

His message is  straightforward and actually very insidious.  People all over the world actually give up trying to be better Muslims because they fall short of their own expectations for how effortless, euphoric, and impeccable their Islam should be.  Shaitaan wants you to believe that there are naturally religious people, and then there’s everybody else.  And the reason why you are having a hard time is because you aren’t one of the beautiful people.

Some people he tricks, others- like Imam Sufyaan ath-Thawri- saw through this cheap trick and insisted on praying at night for twenty years even though he wasn’t “feeling it.”  

Imagine if, one day- he had just thrown his hands up and said “You know what? I’m not cut out for this, I’ve been praying for twenty years and I’ve yet to find this whole peace and contentment with my salah.  What’s the point.  I’m never going to get it right…”

Shaitaan is trying to convince you that because your Islam is less than perfect, you’re a failure who should give up already. In reality, everyone is a sinner and everyone struggles.  The best people aren’t those who sin, but those whose sins cause them to try even harder and draw even closer to Allah next time.  For some people, major sins can be major set-backs.  For others, they are life-changing events that mark the end of heedlessness and the beginning of seeking Allah’s pleasure.

Every Muslim is a combination of successes and failures when it comes to their religious practice.  So as a sinner, you’re in great company!  Everyone, everywhere, accumulates sin on a daily basis, and if everyone like you just killed themselves, we’d all be dead.  🙂  Join the club sister.  We’re over 6 billion strong!

O My servants, you sin by night and by day, and I forgive all sins, so seek forgiveness of Me and I shall forgive you.  

-Excerpt from Hadith Qudsi, full hadith here.

 Shaitaan wants you to think that the passing grade for this test is 100% and failure is everything else.  But if you believe him, then you’re buying into an insult to Allah.   How? Allah is The Most Merciful, Most Forgiving- Most Loving, Most Gracious, Most Kind- He alone has attained perfection and as The All-Knowing, He knows how and what we’re made of- so by what crazy logic would He mercilessly penalize us for not reaching a standard that He would best know that we could never attain?

Shaitaan might add at this point: well, ok, Allah is the Best.  But you can’t think that your sorry butt will get into Jannah with *that* old sack of a soul.  Have you seen the state of your nafs?  Brother, it is bad.

If you think you’re too bad for Allah to forgive, then you’re grossly underestimating Allah’s capacity for forgiveness.  You’re implying that your capacity to sin is even greater than Allah’s capacity to forgive.  Please, don’t insult God.  They don’t call Him Al-Rahman for nothing.

On the authority of Anas (may Allah be pleased with him), who said:I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) say: Allah the Almighty said:
 
O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind.
O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you.
O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great at it.

Related by at-Tirmidhi (also by Ahmad ibn Hanbal). Its chain of authorities is sound.

Whenever I read that Hadith, it puts a certain picture in my head, and in my primitive photoshop imagination, it looks like this:
Mountain of SinsRepentance for a mountain of sins is equal to a mountain of blessings.  So, the greater the sin you’ve committed, the greater the reward for seeking forgiveness.  Knowing that this is how Allah works helps us appreciate how truly generous Allah is in His forgiveness- instead of seeking forgiveness on a level -10 sin and only being returned to a clean slate with 0, we seek forgiveness on a level -10 and in response are given a +10 in its place.  AllahuAkbar.

So yes, Shaitaan wants you to forget that Allah is the Greatest- even in His capacity to forgive those who sincerely ask it.  He wants you to think that you only have two choices; perfection or failure, and since perfection ain’t gonna happen, what option does Shaitaan leave you? Killing yourself and getting it over with already.  But, there’s a third option that Shaitaan doesn’t want you to forget about it:

Between perfection and failure lies your only real choice:  Fight.

Fight shaitaan’s insistence upon your failure, fight your own soul’s inclination to sin, fight your own weaknesses and no matter how hard you’ve been hit or how long you’ve been laying on the ground- get up and keep fighting.  Fight shaitaan as hard as he’s fighting you, as long as he’s fighting you, and don’t stop fighting him until the Angel of Death draws your soul gently away from your body and into the safety of your grave, spacious and fragrant with the winds of Jannah, where you can finally relax a little, reassured and kept company by your good deeds until Allah raises you on Qiyama.

Just because your heart is aching right now, and you’re locked in the seemingly endless cycle of sin, regret, and self-reproach doesn’t mean you’re a lost cause.  It’s actually good news, and here’s why.  The human heart (or soul, or nafs) has three settings according to the Qur’an.

The Default Setting: Nafs al-Amarra bis Su’

The lowest level is the Nafs al-Amarra bis Su’ or the soul that is inclined to evil, and a majority of humankind lives in this guiltless, no-regrets, live for the moment mode. This seems to be the default setting for the modern nafs as well as most pop music.

And I do not free myself from blame. Indeed the human self is inclined to evil, except when my Lord bestows His Mercy (upon whom He wills). Indeed my Lord is Forgiving, Merciful.” (Surah Yusuf: 53)

Knowing that it’s possible to have varying levels of soundness to your heart/nafs- Muslims don’t rely on the soundness of their heart to provide a compass to morality.  It is not your heart’s job to point you towards what’s right, it only points you towards what it wants.  So in a sense, you don’t follow your heart as much as your heart follows you.

Have you seen the one who takes as god his own desire? Then would you be responsible for him? Surah Al Furqan: 43

The Medium Setting: Nafs al-Lawwama

“I do call to witness the Resurrection Day. And I do call to witness the self-reproaching Soul.” Surah Al-Qiyamah: 1-2

This is a soul that battles with its desires, that commits sin and then reproaches itself and tries harder next time.  It has awareness of its shortcomings, but despite its imperfections, it hasn’t given up. Your guilt and self-reproach about the shortcomings in your Islamic practice are evidence of having made progress on your spiritual journey.  The bad news is though, is that Shaitaan is trying to knock you down a notch so that instead of trying harder, you just stop trying altogether- whether because you’ve killed yourself, or because you’ve decided that you’re a hypocrite and you’ve written off as  Muslim.

Alhamdulillah though, Allah has good news for the Reproaching Soul.

“And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for the righteous- Who spend [in the cause of Allah ] during ease and hardship and who restrain anger and who pardon the people – and Allah loves the doers of good; And those who, when they commit an immorality or wrong themselves [by transgression], remember Allah and seek forgiveness for their sins – and who can forgive sins except Allah ? – and [who] do not persist in what they have done while they know.” Qur’an 3:133-135

The very fact that you are aware of your shortcomings, even pained by them- is reassuring proof that you have a Nafs al-Lawwama.  If you didn’t care, didn’t want to care, and didn’t even want to hear about why you should try to give a care- well, that would be worse.  Sure, you’d probably be happier and more “at peace with your self,” as many modern proponents of self-worship would say, but you’d actually be wallowing in heedlessness.

The Highest setting: Nafs al-Mutma’inna

“O you satisfied soul. Return to your Lord pleased with yourself and pleasing to Him. Enter among My servants. And enter My paradise.” (Surah Al-Fajr: 27-30)

You might not be here yet, but that’s ok.  You can still strive to accomplish this.  The Contented Soul, or the Satisfied Soul, is the highest setting for your heart.  It is a place of happiness, peace, acceptance, and sweetness of faith.  It takes hard work to get there, and Allah has good tidings for the Contented Soul but get this- not even the Contented Soul is a perfect soul.  It’s just a very happy one, and very close to Allah.

So, in a nutshell:

  1. No one is perfect except Allah
  2. You’re not the only one accumulating sin every day that you’re alive
  3. The difference between a good Muslim and a bad Muslim is not that one sins and one doesn’t- it’s that one seeks forgiveness & tries harder, and one doesn’t.
  4. Shaitaan’s the one trying to trick you into thinking you’re a failure
  5. Believing him is the only way to lose
  6. Fighting him is the only way to win

There’s one more thing that we need to remind you of:

On no soul does Allah place a burden greater than it can bear.  

No SoulThat means that this situation- where you’re stuck in a major you don’t like, being prevented from doing hijab, and being teased by Shaitaan that nothing you do will ever be good enough to get you into Jannah- you can overcome this.  You can succeed.  You can find a way- either out or through- that is pleasing to Allah and perhaps even terribly frustrating to Shaitaan.

There is nothing coming that you can’t handle, not because you’re great, but because Allah is the Greatest.  He knows what you’re capable of, and He promised your challenges would never exceed your strengths.  Allah sets us up for growth, not failure. And Allah never, ever breaks His promises.

Shaitaan, on the other hand, has been lying to you.  He’s saying that anyone who’s struggling with deen shouldn’t even bother to try, whereas Allah gives double the normal reward to those who have difficulty reading Qu’ran.  The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said “The magnitude of the reward goes along with the magnitude of the affliction.” (Tirmidhi)

The more you’re afflicted now- whether it be with stress, illness, financial difficulties, emotional turmoil- the more you will be rewarded, and the fact that you’re struggling right now isn’t a sign that you should just give up and kill yourself, it’s an invitation from Allah to come closer to Him.

May Allah make it easy for you to recognise and spiritually drop-kick the suggestions of Shaitaan, even when they come disguised in the form of avoiding hell.  May Allah make His religion easy for you, and increase you in faith, and surround you with people who lift you up and help you draw nearer to Allah is this world and the next.  Ameen.

Sibling Rivalry

Once upon a time, my sister Owl used to blog, so if I needed to share an update about her, I could just link her post.  However, it’s been a while since she has, and I think her blog may no longer be public access, so I just have to update here.

Owlie-bird has a brain aneurysm.

I know, I had the same reaction.  I was like “How rude! Being the sickie is my job!”  We’ve always been competitive, and now she’s just upped the game on me.

She’s copying me, I just know it.  She’s been mimicking most of the same weird symptoms and ailments I’ve had over the years- I have scoliosis, she has scoliosis.  I have fibromyalgia, she has fibromyalgia- and it’s quite likely that she’ll also receive a diagnosis for the same set of syndromes that I’ve got as well- POTS and Ehlers Danlos.

The brain aneurysm may be linked to vascular-type Ehlers Danlos sydrome, and although I’m tempted to try to take my title of Reigning Sickie back, I have no intention of developing an aneurysm for it.  Sudden death isn’t my style.  I’m more of the slow & steady tortoise type, and here she is being all impetuous hare.

She’s weighing surgical intervention options, and duas are greatly appreciated.

Who knows, maybe we’re racing for Jannah.  May the best sickie win.

 

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