My soul is battered. My soul is bruised. From all the Divine surgeries that make up life. And every time I can feel it weaved. Though it does take a long time. But I know that my wound is tenderly nursed by my loving Master.
I stared hard at the prayer mat after my salah. “What did I recite just now? What did I feel in every utterance of Your name?” I could feel my heart murmuring no reply. I felt empty. And the emptiness is swiftly filled with the rush of guilt. I have betrayed my own heart. I have cheated my own soul. My mind wandered far in my meetings with You. I tried hard to focus on You. But it did not remain as long as I thought it would be. I guess I have lost the battle with the damned.
I no longer feel that rush. That intoxication of the heart, filled with ecstasy of spirituality. My soul now feels stationary and solitary. Perhaps this is the low that people often talk of faith.
I look right and left after my congregational prayer. On my right, tears flowing down the sister’s cheeks. I want that. On my left, a sister is severely quiet and focused in her supplication, her eyelids shut. I want that too. That composed devotion is graceful and beautiful. Intimacy with You is what I yearn.
Nowadays , I try to spend a little longer in my last sujood. Just trying to gather the perfect words of supplication. But that supplication now feels more and more like a repetition. I no longer shed tears out of desperation. I now shed tears out of frustration. Frustration of lifeless spiritual routine.
I heard the chimes of the trees. I heard the whispers of the wind. I looked up the sky and saw a glimpse of heaven. They are all holding the secrets of my soul. Secrets that are safe with You.
Life is an uphill struggle and the journey is long. I used to think of everything as the destination and thus I chased and chased until I was battered and wounded. But, the truth is the Destination is only one, and others simply are the means, much like the signboards to get there. And in order to get there you will rise and stumble. This is perhaps my period of stumbling. I crawled and crawled to His door of mercy. And before I could knock it, my soul collapsed. Collapsed of the heavy burden of my sins.
I admit, I frequently succumb to the burgeoning desires and the ever-lingering whisper of demons. The demons outside and within me. At times, my soul ravages at what the movies and drama illustrates to me. The delusion of paradise on earth, of life free of trials and tribulations. The picture-perfect family, the happily-ever after relationships, the flashy cars and dream houses. But, when I finally woke up from the sleepwalking, I was panicked. Panicked at the incoming vehicles, rampaging to tell me to stop being dead, and wake up to the often-grim reality of life.
And I amassed the little energy that I have left, and I rose. I force myself to strut my heavy, lazy feet with tremendous difficulty because Your promise rings in my head:
“When My servant draws close to me by the span of a palm, I draw close to him by the space of a cubit, and when he draws close to Me by the space of a cubit, I draw close to him by the space (covered) by two hands, and when he draws close to Me by the space (covered by) two hands, I go in hurry towards him.”
(Sahih Muslim, Book 48, Hadith 3)
That vow fills my heart up with life. The empty vessel of my heart is filled again with a river of joy. Though I know that my soul is drenched in sins, I know that by forcing my body to withstand 2 raka’at of nawafil prayers, done solely for the sake of gaining proximity with You, Your delight and pleasure in drawing close to me is ALL that my small, humble self will ever seek.
And there was a time when I thought I was losing fragments of my old self. And how much I feared for that. But, then, as Your light penetrates my little, bruised soul, I feel home again. I feel that I have arrived at a familiar territory all over again. A firmer, Handhold I could feel within my grasp now.
I am forging that bond again. I am making amends again. I am down at my knees, my forehead kissing the earth, whispering my vows to You again. And every time I am struck with any calamity or adversity, I am reminded of Your beloved ﷺ‘s grievance and lamentation onto You alone:
“O Allah! Unto You do I complain of my weakness, of my helplessness and of my lowliness before men. O most Merciful of the merciful. O Lord of the weak and my Lord too. Into whose hands have you entrusted me? Unto some far off stranger who receives me with hostility? Or unto a foe whom you have empowered against me? I care not, so long as You are not angry with me. But Your favouring help, that were for me the broader way and the wider scope. I take refuge in the light of Your countenance whereby all darknesses are illuminated and all things of this world and the next are rightly ordered, lest You make descend Your anger upon me or lest Your wrath beset me. Yet it is Yours to reproach until You are well pleased. There is no power and no might except through Thee.”
Prophet Muhammad’s dua at Taif
(peace and blessings be upon him)
And to You all my reliance belongs…..