He sat watching one booty-shaking music video after another, wanting to drown his Islamic conscience and despair in the all-absorbing waters of ‘entertainment’. In the intoxicants that he publicly condemned and that he had sworn off long ago. He wanted the voice in his head to be quiet. He didn’t want to think about how sad his spiritual case was and how off the Straight Path he had moved and was moving. He was depressed and that led to his being self-destructive.
He punched a hole in the wall.
He wanted not only to hurt himself physically, but to sin so much that his soul would fry in hell as well. He wanted to bleed and to be mangled, to break in every way. He wanted to feel pain. Perhaps he just wanted to feel.
He was in despair regarding his deen. He saw that he didn’t have the willpower it would take to get himself out of this rut and despite his hoping for divine intervention, none came. What was worse was that he realized that he didn’t ‘care’ enough to really seriously ‘want’ divine intervention to help him. He saw that he wasn’t all as upset about his sinning as he should have been or as he used to be. This was depressing because he ‘knew’ it to be a sign of damnation…that he would just stop caring about being on the straight path. He felt like he was no longer ‘chosen’ and that Allah, Glorious and Exalted, was no longer helping him. He had fallen out of grace. He felt helpless and impotent.
In an attempt to revive some himmah in his limp and defeated body, he opened his writing journal, hoping to find something that he had written in a moment of spiritual peak that could remind him of what he had seemed to forgotten. He had the habit of putting his emotions to paper so that he could examine his states later and learn from them and his book was filled with poems and reminders that he had placed there in case he ever forgot what was important in life. He read a rambling plea he had written last Ramadan.
No one else can hear me
So I know You are especially listening
You amaze me
You who I cannot touch
Cannot feel but with my heart’s throbbing
Cannot shower with grateful kisses
Desperate and needy embraces
Cannot give to
In a moment You make me drown
The world disappears
My heart’s gaze upon You
My thirst at its peak
Your Name replacing names
Those meaningless sounds I speak
Everything does natural sajdah
Even wild tears fall prostrate upon the leveled dirt
Upon their origin
Watering the earth that made them
I want to die like this
With this thirst
My arrogance on its knees
I want to be with You
I want to be Yours
I will be good
What can I do to please You?
If You go then I will lose everything
I am wretched
I will fall back
I will lose this thirst
And will chase these age-old illusions
Will regress for the worst
Don’t let me lose this
Don’t let me be stupid
Don’t let me want anything else
Let this last this time
There is nothing else worth wanting
Don’t let me want anything else
Choose me to want You
Choose me to want to give myself to You
Choose me to want to burn in Your desire
Burning like incense above Your altar's fire
Let my concern for all else be annihilated in my surrender
Let me exist only to please You
To be like he, peace and blessings be upon him, who pleased you the most
To praise You
To glorify You
To seek You from You.
Don’t let me forget.
I don’t want to go back.
I don’t want to be me.
He recalled the tears that still streaked the paper he held and made the ink run in some places. Feeling homesick, he ran his fingers over the stains. He felt a sudden pang of anger. He asked the emptiness around him WHY he had been let go when he had been so sincere and asked so desperately. WHY did the Creator, who he so lovingly cried out to, not make him of his favorites and keep him on the Straight Path? WHY wasn’t he invited to ‘FEEL’ anymore? WHY was he forgotten and left to live and die amongst the ranks of the heedless? He used to be so good, going to halaqahs, doing dawah on the streets, growing his beard, lowering his gaze, staying away from what was forbidden of the flesh and of the food, and waking for tahajjud. WHY was his heart now made of stone? WHY was he let go?
At that moment something inside of him snapped.
He took a deep breath.
He threw the conscience and guilt aside.
He let go…
(47 years, 3 illegitimate children, 2 failed marriages, countless bottles, and many drug addictions later… )
The sun was courting the west outside his hospital room. He asked the nurse to help him sit up so that he could write. She said that he must not exert himself. He said that he had to write to save his soul. Confused but not wanting to argue, she propped him up with a few pillows, handed him a notebook and a pen and left to take an early break.
He had to die knowing what went wrong and what the purpose of his life was–and for that he had to write. Things only made sense for him when the fluid black ink met the flat predictable white of the paper; the arena where he could make the grays in his life into the easily differentiable black and white. Though his wrinkled and knotted hands were weak, mapped with the blue of his veins, his written word was strong and vibrant. He was always amazed by the eternal youth that stared back at him from the pages that his bent and enfeebled body produced. It had been so long since he had actually written Truth. So long since he had actually recognized it. But he felt he had to write, for if he didn’t attempt to find Truth now he would die knowing only falsehoods. He didn’t have time.
He wrote for pages, rambling and flowing from thought to thought, recounting petty accomplishments and grand defeats, trying to give himself nasihah as to what he would have done differently were he to be given a second chance. He wrote chronologically backwards (it seemed ironically-just to him), going through his old age first, then his maturity, then youth. Pages were filled. He wrote his way into his twenties. When he started writing about the first time he had ever gotten drunk and woken up lying beside a prostitute, his hand stopped. That year was hard to remember. As he focused and forced his mind to recollect, to wade through decades of murky memories, trying to remember the forgotten, his eyes started filling with tears. His mind played long-buried clips of a young man, innocent and new to serious sin. He watched the man hedonistically throw himself into vice, going from one ‘first-time’ to another. He watched innocence itself die before him and become buried under years of arrogance. He wept, longing for peace, some solace, some reason. His memory achingly brought him back to a night, a single night, which had changed his life.
A hole in the wall.
Mtv in the background.
A book of poems in his hand.
He felt like he was falling from a steep cliff, watching the vivid moments of that night whiz past him at breakneck speed as if they were embedded in the cliff itself that he had fallen from.
He buried his head in his pages of sin and wept with abandon, letting his tears blur the words and causing them to run upon one another, his life resembling one big messy page of flowing sin. It had been so long since he had cried for his own self, for his own state. After a lifetime of running, of sinning and dying, he wanted to stop and cry for himself. He wanted to face Truth and live. He was ready to write a word of life.
After having composed himself he took his now wet papers and threw them into the trashcan beside his bed. He opened his notebook to a fresh new page and started writing, hoping to pick up his life where he had left it. He needed desperately to tell the young man in his memories what he had done wrong so that his older counterpart could learn and be free of the knots and tangles of the past. Inspired, his gnarled hands started writing…
“I know You are listening. You always are. I know what I did wrong. I realize why I couldn’t get out of the rut.
I took no responsibility and used Your Qadr as an excuse. I sounded like a whiny child complaining about how he doesn’t really want to do the task and just wants the adult to do the task for him. I just wanted You to ‘program’ or ‘destine’ me to do good works and to not really have to partake in any struggle myself. This is absolutely idiotic and impossible since I am a human and neither an angel nor an animal. I don’t get ‘programmed’, I get to make my own choices. The one thing that I was given that the rest of creation wasn’t was the freedom of choice, a will. That is the divine boon, the biggest blessing to be had. This is the part of You that You chose to give us and withheld from the rest of Your creation. It is sacred—and with all things sacred comes a divine Covenant. For me to reject the gift of freedom of choice and refuse to acknowledge its existence and importance is an insult to the blessing and to the Bestower of the blessing. It is ungratefulness. The whole purpose of existence was for me to WILLINGLY and WILLFULLY choose to submit to You despite the struggle. If I want Your love I will only be able to reach it by making the deliberate decision to submit and then doing so.
I was so tired of repenting and then sinning and then repenting and then sinning. I was so ashamed of the constant unfaithfulness. So ashamed that I felt that I could no longer face You with my excuses and self-delusions. I thought I was being humble and sincere, but really, it was simple and pure arrogance. When one does not return to You and repent, one is saying that one doesn’t want to bother You and that one can live without You. The truth is, whether I am good or bad, worthy of your concern or not, I have no one to turn to save You. I have no one else to ask from, no one else who will listen or who can do anything. There is no such thing as me being worthy or unworthy of you because I will NEVER be worthy of you. I will always be absolutely and eternally dependent upon Your Mercy and Forgiveness. I will always HAVE to be on my knees, my nose in the dirt. A sinner who recognizes his dependence upon You and then turns to You in repentance is better than the worshipper who feels his good works have made him more deserving of Your blessings.
I never should have despaired of Your Mercy and of Your Wisdom. Feeling damned is a self-fulfilling prophecy in that the more damned you think you are, the more you despair; and the more you despair the more chances there are of you becoming damned. If anything, I damned myself.
I repent to You and turn to You with newfound hope. I realize now that hope is never lost. Tawakkul flows within the veins of the believer and without it he dies, shriveled and colorless. Tawakkul circulates and nourishes the organs of the shari'ah. Tawakkul is propelled forward with every beat of one's Qalb. Tawakkul will take me home.
I choose to have hope.
I choose slave hood.
I choose to submit.
I choose You.
Ash-hadu anla ilaha illal-Lahu Wahdahu la Sharika Lahu wa-ash-hadu anna Muhammadan abduhu wa rasuluhu”
With those final words his body collapsed, his energy spent and his heart at peace. It had been years since he last felt the meaning behind those words, and now that he felt it again the overall revelation overwhelmed him. He put his notebook and pen down and closed his eyes. He was so very tired. He had had to travel so far and so long to be where he was now—and he knew the journey was not yet over. He had a few long days of struggle ahead of him…and he couldn’t wait to open his eyes in the morning and begin. He knew the sacred covenant--if he put his efforts and intentions into it, Allah, Glorious and Exalted, would give him tawfiq.
For the first time in decades, he had hope. For the first time, he couldn’t wait to live. For the first time he was excited by the prospect of prayer. For the first time he craved the intimacy of dhikr. He had a whole new set of ‘first times’ that he couldn’t wait to indulge in before the end of his life.
He closed his eyes and saw the young man smiling back at him. His innocence had been refound.
“The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, though there is good in both. Be avid for that which benefits you. Rely on Allah and do not deem yourself incapable…”
--Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him)
[Muslim, Ibn Majah, and Ahmad]
Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala has truly granted you something awesomely valuable to have written that.
An unforgettable message, with unforgettable delivery, in an unforgettable time of the year...
BarakAllah feeki ya ukhti..
"Even wild tears fall prostrate upon the leveled dirt"...
an EPIC piece of writing, mashaAllah.
excellent piece... jazakallah khair.on November 6, 2004 6:03 AM
yes, it was an epic.on November 6, 2004 1:35 PM
I feel really bad about the length. I didnt notice how long it was until after I had stopped typing, and then I didnt know how to cut it down. Sorry guys, and please lemme know if there is anything you would like to see cut out. My brain is mush from having typed that.on November 6, 2004 2:15 PM
As Salaamu Alaikum
Was Salaamon November 6, 2004 4:24 PM
InshaAllah don't cut ANYTHING out.
When I was done reading it, I thought...
It would've been enough if you JUST had the first part... it would've been enough if you JUST had the poem... it would've been enough if you JUST had the last act.
Together they are like a sledgehammer to the heart and mind.
Your mind may be mush, but people's hearts are enlightened... so inshaAllah know that the mushyness was not in vain.on November 6, 2004 7:24 PM
Masha'Allah its funtastic!
And perfect timing...we should all be writing in our notebooks right now, so to speak.
"WHY did the Creator, who he so lovingly cried out to, not make him of his favorites and keep him on the Straight Path? WHY wasn’t he invited to ‘FEEL’ anymore? WHY was he forgotten and left to live and die amongst the ranks of the heedless?"
Remind you all of anyone from an Islamic account?on November 7, 2004 12:15 AM
I especially enjoy when you mentioned the real life problems that struck the main character. I do not know if you recognized it, but as you write, you use a roller-coaster type of rhythm, Such writers like, Sylvia Plath and Poe used similar techniques. This is seen as a prized techniqe and introduces the reader to the underlying point at hand many different times, but with varying strengths. Such a literary approach is one of my favorite one's to read. JazakumAllahkar, and may Allah bless you.
Mohammed Irfan Shariffon November 7, 2004 10:54 AM
This was so much needed sister. Jazakallah khair for writing such a magnificent piece :) These lines headed straight towards my heart:
"I never should have despaired of Your Mercy and of Your Wisdom. Feeling damned is a self-fulfilling prophecy in that the more damned you think you are, the more you despair; and the more you despair the more chances there are of you becoming damned. If anything, I damned myself."
Jazakallah khair once again
This piece was a reminder to myself first and foremost; I was the one who needed it the most and thats why it was penned...but, alhamdulillah wa mashaAllah, I am glad others found it useful as well.
Brother Irfan- Rollercoaster style? I am not quite sure what that is, so it was most likely unintentional. Prolly a result of my coffee high going up and down.
So no one wants to take a crack at the question I posed above? :(
I will make 5 heartfelt duas for the person that gets it right. I know it might not seem like much, but actually, dua is the best thing anyone can do for anyone so really you are getting a great bargain. I would definitely jump on this if I were you.
(this isnt like the roman catholic practice of indulgences is it? If it is then I retract my offer. I'll give you a heartfelt fruitcake instead.)
on November 9, 2004 2:08 AM
ma sha allah very beautiful indeed. I was going through similar cylces(well not the overtly haram stuff, mind you, but I was addicted to internet browsing and alhamdulillah in the processes of not wasting time like that, alhamdulillah). I think it reminds me of Zaid Al-Khair, the man who said the shahadah and died right after but before that he committed many sins and even threw garbage in front of Prophet's SAW house. I dont think I got the name right, but anyways, after that the term "khatma bil khair" came up, which is to always have good end. Or do you mean the hadith in that a man will committ actions of jahannum all his life until he is an arms lenght away from jahannum and he does something and enters into jannah instead?
Hmmm...no, not quite but mashaAllah those were some amazing insights. You hit upon one of the themes.
My question is in regards to this person's attitude when he gets angry in the beginning and then lets go. He feels he was let go and that all of his good works were overlooked. He feels he wasnt appreciated. He then spends his life being destructive towards himself and towards others. Who does that remind you of?on November 9, 2004 5:07 PM
Shaitan?on November 9, 2004 5:36 PM
I just came across a quote that is perfect for this piece:
Ibn `Ata'illah al-Iskandari (Allah be pleased with him) said, "Disobedience that
begets humility and broken-heartedness is better than obedience that begets
honour and pride."
And Nadia, I had said this before but it had gotten deleted: You are now the proud owner of 5 heartfelt duas and/or a heartfelt fruitcake.
One mistake isn't justification for committing a second one. "You don't do this, so you might as well not do anything else," is a common Satanic ploy and the sunnah of Iblees.on November 18, 2004 5:41 AM
Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,
Intriguing... One thing I'd probably change is maybe leave it mysterious as to what sins he committed- that way readers can apply his situation to themselves and not think their sins aren't as "major" as his... you know what I mean?
May I ask all the writers- how do you "maintain" your writing skills? I think I could write, I was very good at writing in school, always got high marks in English alhamdulillah... But I don't write much now so I think I've become rusty. How can I polish my writing?on November 24, 2004 10:27 PM
Brother Jumping Jack,
Thanks for posting, its nice to see new people giving their comments.
I see your point about not mentioning what 'specific' sins he partook in. The reason actually that I had included them is because I wanted to show how despair has a snowball effect and sweeps one into a cycle of sin, with each sin being more extreme than the last. I wanted to show to what extremes the simple act of despairing can take one. Also, I wanted to make the young man and the old man as different as possible, and experience with serious sin coupled with age are the greatest differences I could introduce because they have the most effect on one's personality and memory. That is why I mentioned what serious sins he was guilty of. Also, if you look at the old man's attitude right when he starts writing, he doesnt really seem to feel much 'guilt'. His guilt overtakes him later. One of the other reasons why I listed his serious sins was in order to make his attitude of guiltlessness (while on his deathbed) seem even more horrific. I see what you mean about allowing the reader to relate to the old man, but I dont WANT anyone to relate to the old man, I want readers to relate to the young man and to feel disgust for the old man's pre-repentence state. My goal was to remind myself and others, who might find ourselves in the young man's shoes sometimes, of how serious despair is and what its consequences are. I want to save myself and others from the old man's 47 years of heedlessness and illusion-chasing. I want to learn my lesson now inshaAllah instead of later when I am near death or dead.
As for your second question...ummm...bro...just jump into it and you will be fine inshaAllah :). Once you force yourself to write, it all comes back (or does partially at least). I am sure its like learning to ride a bike, and that you havent really lost any of your skills inshaAllah.
We look forward to benefitting from your work.
If anyone would like to start writing articles send:
Some idea of what you want to write about.
If you want to write weekly or bi-weekly or just for fun
Whether or not you're an RU student/alumni
Asalaam Aleikum Warahmatullah Wabarakatu,
"When one does not return to You and repent, one is saying that one doesn’t want to bother You and that one can live without You. The truth is, whether I am good or bad, worthy of your concern or not, I have no one to turn to save You. I have no one else to ask from, no one else who will listen or who can do anything. I will always HAVE to be on my knees, my nose in the dirt. A sinner who recognizes his dependence upon You and then turns to You in repentance is better than the worshipper who feels his good works have made him more deserving of Your blessings."
Waaleikum Asalaam Warahmatullah Wabarakatuon December 5, 2004 1:55 PM
JazaakAllah khair sis. Sooo, where do I start? How do I start? Please give me some pointers, good writing skills is a valuable asset I think. BTW I'm actually a sister- sorry, the name's meant to be referring to the actual jump rather than someone called Jack who jumps :).on December 6, 2004 4:19 PM
AssalamuAlaikum sister Jump :) ,
You can start by sending that email to email@example.com inshaAllah. As for pointers, I am not the best person to give them. I am still working the kinks out of my own writing technique and am not sure yet what is good and what isnt. I myself stopped writing for pleasure a good 5 years before I started writing for Hidaya and was forced to try to quickly 'brush up' some half-baked and partially developed skills.
The only piece of advice I can think of is always remember to write from 'your' heart. Dont ever be afraid of uncovering your deepest insecurites and fears. Put aside self-consciousness of how others will perceive your words and just WRITE. Promise yourself that you will never lie to yourself or to the paper.
InshaAllah I look forward to reading your work and learning from you.
on December 7, 2004 5:12 AM
Masha'Allah Sister Justoju:
I hope we can all be so candid with ourselves and not feel vulnerable in not relating our ideas and views without being fearful of what others have to say.
Keep it up!on December 7, 2004 5:23 AM
Dont you praise Sr. Justojo, a little too much?
Just kidding!on December 7, 2004 12:27 PM
Salaam Brother Abdullah (AKA, sister Ibtisam):
As a matter of fact I appreciate candidness in a person, and that includes you as well. I did find you a realist, remember....and I respect someone who is just that.
But regardless, I dont agree with everything sister justoju has to say, sometimes she has her high points and sometimes she hits her low notes.
In general, however, I look forward to everyone's comments and articles on this website....even though it may be yours...hahahaha...Just kidding.
No seriously, all brothers and sisters who frequent this site are really unique and very engaging, masha'Allah.
Thats why I like all you guys....So, keep the articles/comments coming...Insha'Allahon December 7, 2004 4:57 PM
Salaam Br. Asif,
I am kidding before and now(probably a sensitive joke, my bad). Yes you are right, thank you for the reminder that I was called a realist. all the best.
I have finals to do and As to get Please make duaaaaz for my examz, all Brs and Srs
Brother Abdullahon December 7, 2004 6:08 PM
writing is talking on paper. talking is writing out aloud.on December 7, 2004 6:20 PM
My Dear sister Abdullah :)
MAY ALLAH BLESS YOU...and may HE make your exams like the westerly breeze that will leave you fresh and upbeat, and may your results be glad tidings for you and your loved ones....Ameen
Brother Gillette...hahahahah...excellent words bro, simply excellent!on December 7, 2004 7:01 PM
Oh dear, I'm not the most articulate person verbally. I like to think I express myself better when writing... :( Never mind. Maybe better writing may lead to better speaking...? Inshaa'Allah.
OK inshaa'Allah I'll give it a go soon. But I think I'll gonna practise "writing from the heart" before I jump (:)) straight into an article or story.
Wassalamon December 10, 2004 2:16 PM
just revisiting the entry.......
and still left with my mouth wide open
alhumdulilahon November 6, 2005 7:47 PM
It seems so long since I wrote anything. I look back at words, black symbols on screens, that claim to be mine and yet I feel as if they came from a different voice; from a different form than that which claims to be my home...on November 7, 2005 6:16 AM
sorry bout that, I guess I was having a drama-queen moment.on November 7, 2005 9:39 AM
Ukhti Justoju, you were a drama queen then, and u are a drama queen now...but once in a while you can really come out of your shell and surprise us all.
By the way, I dont want to get dinged by anyone on this comment...only person who can chastize me is Ukhti herself.
Ma'Assalaamaon November 7, 2005 5:54 PM
I know exactly what you mean. Sometimes when I read back at my old journal entries it really surprises me to realise what a different person I was and what used to go through my mind.
Haven't started writing yet (apart from the journal). Reading this article has refreshed my desire to though... Ach, don't hold your breath; I doubt I'll ever be as good as yous, I'll leave it to the experts eh.on May 12, 2006 11:26 AM
Everything in life rises and falls save Allah (SWT). There is always an apex and a decline. Old writers fall so that new writers may rise...and also so that they can get done with their housework ;)
InshaAllah I still look forward to reading your work on Hidaya :). Good writers usually dont know they are good writers until they jump in and let their creativity flow. Maybe you could give me some tips inshaAllah.on May 12, 2006 11:57 AM
InshaAllaah, I just wanted to throw in some encouragement to write. Just about every writer, especially on Hidaya, doubts themself until you actually sit down and put the thought of writing into action. Every piece inshaAllah becomes a sign of progress.
Admittedly, this piece is a mashaAllah scarily good piece of writing, so your reaction is understandable... but firstname.lastname@example.org is a door always open to writers :)on May 12, 2006 10:30 PM
Just put it this way: if I can write, anyone can.on May 13, 2006 12:23 AM
mashallah, reading that truly made my heart ache, and fill my eyes with tears
you are so gifted mashallah and continue to inspire and move me, in ways that i have never been before
jazakallah khair sister, May Allah grant us all Jannahon June 14, 2009 7:10 AM