Peace Be With You

السلام عليكم

Be Like A Tree
At the break of Fajr bil Jumu’ah, a Hijabi friend received devastating news at work just as she ended her shift. The news was dropped like a bomb in a form of a Discontinuance Letter. With her teary eyes staring at oblivion, she found herself lost and dumbfounded. She consulted several people in the company with the hope of being enlightened. All the more, the buck passing left more questions than brought answers.

She cried on her way home clueless of what else she’s supposed to do. Pieces of advice encouraging her to pursue filing for appeal almost convinced her that it may give her the answers she needs. Until reaching the comforts of her home where her Muslim husband awaits, she heard an advice that was completely on the contrary to what everybody else had said.

After a couple of ours of contemplating, she found the best advice that calmed her: take it as it is. Since no one from the departments involved claimed accountability for the decision and no one influential enough stepped forward to stand as her advocate, maybe it was the best advice. But more than that, I saw the Islamic rationale behind it.

When I was reading through Islamic books and leaflets before I embraced Islam, I was touched by the gentleness of Islamic teachings. This story of a friend drove a throwback. In the name of Ar Rahman Ar Raheem I may not be able to remember and relate exact words that had touched me. But In Shaa Allah, this enlightens us all.

I remember passages that described the Islamic way of responding to aggression. I learned that instead of simply retaliating even in the midst of humiliation and insult, the best way through it is to remember Allah taala and that everything in this world and beyond it already has his fate written out for him. We are just living our destiny. Everything that may happen along our journey must humble us to remember Allah (SWT). Another friend who heard this from me raised a concern citing the unjust decision over my Hijabi friend’s plight needs to be resolved by appealing to be granted due process. I got her point. But I cited passages from the Qur’an to show another way to look at the situation.

Since it was a Friday, the closest that I related the situation to is teachings that I learned from Surat Al Kahf (The Cave).  When Moses came across a Servant of Allah taala, he asked him to teach him the “sound judgement” that he was Granted with. And the servant  said that:

And how can you have patience for what you do not encompass in knowledge?” (Surah Al Kahf 18:68)

I learned that clearly from my friend’s incident. At this point, we would all think that perhaps it is for this reason that we gather more information about something by researching about it. However, clearly on the issue, passing the buck was the name of the game. What answers do you think you could gather from the higher ups? My other friend says that at least, a strong appeal would leave an impact that will drive popular clamor to advocate due process. I continued by citing another passage still about Moses and Al Khidr that on their journey:

[Moses] said, “You will find me, if Allah wills, patient, and I will not disobey you in [any] order.” He said, “Then if you follow me, do not ask me about anything until I make to you about it mention.” So they set out, until when they had embarked on the ship, al-Khidhr tore it open. [Moses] said, “Have you torn it open to drown its people? You have certainly done a grave thing.” [Al-Khidh r] said, “Did I not say that with me you would never be able to have patience?” [Moses] said, “Do not blame me for what I forgot and do not cover me in my matter with difficulty.” So they set out, until when they met a boy, al-Khidh r killed him. [Moses] said, “Have you killed a pure soul for other than [having killed] a soul? You have certainly done a deplorable thing.” [Al-Khidh r] said, “Did I not tell you that with me you would never be able to have patience?” [Moses] said, “If I should ask you about anything after this, then do not keep me as a companion. You have obtained from me an excuse.” So they set out, until when they came to the people of a town, they asked its people for food, but they refused to offer them hospitality. And they found therein a wall about to collapse, so al-Khidh r restored it. [Moses] said, “If you wished, you could have taken for it a payment.” [Al-Khidh r] said, “This is parting between me and you. I will inform you of the interpretation of that about which you could not have patience. A for the ship, it belonged to poor people working at sea. So I intended to cause defect in it as there was after them a king who seized every [good] ship by force. And as for the boy, his parents were believers, and we feared that he would overburden them by transgression and disbelief. So we intended that their Lord should substitute for them one better than him in purity and nearer to mercy.And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the city, and there was beneath it a treasure for them, and their father had been righteous. So your Lord intended that they reach maturity and extract their treasure, as a mercy from your Lord. And I did it not of my own accord. That is the interpretation of that about which you could not have patience.” [Surah Al Kahf 18:69-82]

Having mentioned this, I further explained that for whatever things that may happen that I do not have control of and for other things that have greatly affected me, I have a Bigger God than all the things that I could not completely understand and that I could not seem to bear.  So why should I dwell in despair? There is a nobler reason for things that Only Allah Knows. Allah Knows Best.

This time, my friend who was firm on avenging for my other friend asked why it was so easy for me to just say this and look at things this way when I myself have gone through more difficult times. I simply replied that when you have found The Truth, it brings this unexplainable peace in your heart. Being a Muslim means submission to Allah taala. So if you do submit to Allah, then what else should you worry about? As humans, we could only do so much to avenge ourselves against what oppresses us. But Allah [Subhanallah Wa Taala] can do unimaginable things more than what we can actually do for ourselves.  Besides, He is the reason why and how things happen.

That was one of the most beautiful Fridays that has passed. In shaa Allah, my friends will be enlightened and guided to the Straight Path. This is the essence of the greetings of Peace – As Salamu Alaikum. Peace be with you in your hearts In Shaa Allah.

bow for prayer

The one who can bow down in prayer can stand up to anything.

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I AM HOME!

Bismillah Ar Rahmanir Rahim.

August 20th 2011 Manila Time. August 19th 2011 Riyadh Time. 19 Ramadhan 1432 Higri Calendar. Finally, I have arrived.

I had a bad dream the night before. I dreamt I was with my whole family and my cousins (mom-side). And I heard the Adhan or the call to prayer. Then I left my companions and searched for a place to pray. I saw people from my local community praying in their own plain clothes on individual sujadas (prayer mats) on two rows. I placed mine somewhere close to them but in a peculiar corner to be discreet. And then while I was prostrating in prayer, these men touched me, my body, my face, and mocked me. I ran in fear. But suddenly I realized that I had to fight back. So I ran back to the men and hit them back. Alhamdulillaah I woke up right after. But I was panting. Scary. Freaky.

Although I was on day-off for this particular Friday, I wasn’t really planning to go anywhere except to Batha with my friend to find this particular copy of the Qur’an. So we went to the “headquarters” of the mottawa (which I call Bulwagan ng Mottawa in Tagalog) to ask about it. The people outside said that particular copy was not available and that Qur’an was never sold. And then my friend resolved to enter into the dreaded headquarters, in my mind, just to ask. And then she finally surrendered me to perform my Shahadah.  Finally.

Coming into this tent was usually scary for many because this was the place where the erring Muslims or non-Muslims would be brought to be apprehended for violation of Muslim rules.  But I was kinda flat affect.  Adee.  Arabic for “usual” or “normal”.  And then this woman started to approach my friend and I.  And then she started to talk about Islam, Muslims, Allaah, Prophet Mohammed.  I listened to her very intently as I imagined I was hearing what I have already read.  I felt so good to hear about what I had already read.  It affirmed my understanding.  After over an hour or two, I spoke to this Arab man right behind the wall.  One of his questions was “Are you 100% sure?”  I said “No. 101% sure.” And I heard him laugh.  And then he asked me another time.  And I said “102% sure.”  And I heard him smile and he said “Fi zayada ithneen huh? (Increased by two!)”  And I said “if you ask me another time I will tell you 103% sure.”  And then he said, “You are now a Muslim and your children are automatic Muslims too.” Alhamdulillaahi Rabbi Al Ameen!

This is a most wonderful surprise for me!  Indeed a prayer is answered.  And I am so forever grateful!  What made it so emotional was that the Mottawa mentioned that my children are automatically Muslims too!  And I have prayed all this time for a way to make them be brought here for them to become one Inshallaah.  Subhanallaah!  I find them so lucky because my daughters need not struggle so hard to start their quest for the truth.  Mumay is here, my dear ones.  I will be like the star that will shine your way in the beautiful darkness of the sky.

I have hit two birds with one stone.  Within my prayers before wherein I do not know what else to ask for but that to open the hearts of the people I love, all the more right now, what is there that I need when Allaah has already sent this blessing to me and my children – this blessing that I feel have taken me a lifetime to long for.  There is nothing I shall want.  But I continue to pray that I be kept stronger and more steadfast in faith to deserve such wonderful blessings that is indeed a privilege for the chosen.  And that in being so, I shine brighter to show others the truth in Islam as there is no ‘real’ other.

My name is Najma.  And I’m so glad, I am home!

Out Of The Shadow

This trip was so unplanned.  At least by me.  Everyone in my family didn’t approve about my coming to this specific country.  Even my friends warned me that I may not be able to survive out here where there is no freedom.  Saudi Arabia has had this notorious reputation for cutting off heads of anyone who fails to obey their rules.  I must say they all know me.

I have always been a nonconformist.  I would always be a devil’s advocate.  At times, I was considered a rebel.  Had I lived in the Spanish Era, I would have been called this term for non-believers who would always question teachings.  That term though escapes me at this moment.  But yes, I am known to be that, too, especially in school when Catechism was taught.  I would throw a lot of questions that would pester the class at times and challenge the teacher as well.  But I sincerely wanted answers.  I just feel that there is more that I should know.

Not that I feel like I am a genius who does not get satisfied with shallow discussions hence I philosophize.  Nope.  My education inculcated in me this hunger for growth.  My teachers have always seen my potentials for reaching farther than just ordinary tertiary level education.  As I come from a very reputable Spanish exclusive school whose products have shone in different fields of endeavor.  We are the cream of the crop.  And beauty and brains is an ordinary experience.  Yet, in spite of all that, I remained lost somewhere.  Especially when the topic is about religion.

Should my siblings read about this, they must surely be confused.  My brothers are products of Jesuit education.  Another devout sect.  Strongly Christian.  Our parents sent all of us to the best schools in the country.  Alhamdulillah.  I know our parents wanted to secure us also spiritually that we were sent to Catholic, not just Christian, schools.  Because our schools must reflect the culture that we lived with at home.

At home, we pray the rosary.  Since I am a first born, I was taught very well early in my childhood about how to pray and to lead prayers like how old Spanish families are.  I memorized the Litany, responses to prayers, novenas, and even responses and the course at the Mass.    Yet on my own, I had a very personal relationship with my God that I have kept all this time to myself because I know had others known, they would think I’m all nuts.

My family and friends love me.  Alhamdulillah.  They all know me.  I have grown with them.  They know that I can be so strange at times with my ways.  Inshaallah,  when I break the news to them about my “homecoming”, they will understand that the strange ways headed to a better direction, if not the best.