Friday, April 27, 2012

Life Without Salaah

There’s a time in the  month when I don’t quite feel like myself, if I had to describe it I would say I feel rather lost, yet this description doesn’t really describe it well enough. You see, when a Muslim woman is in the state of menstruation, she is not allowed to perform salaah (prayers). She can make verbal prayers, she can still connect with Allah, she can recite praises of Allah and the Beloved Prophet (PBUH), but she cannot perform salaah (physical prayers).

I was shocked to find that some women believe this to be a form of injustice. I’ve always been taught that it’s a mercy from Allah, and I agree. If you are a woman you will know that during that time of the month you don’t really feel all that well. Besides physical pain and discomfort, emotionally you may feel irritable and uncomfortable, and I’ve found that intellectually you are affected as well. Your concentration seems to be impaired and your mind doesn’t seem to work all that well (maybe it’s different for other women, but the women I know tend to agree with this). So in any case, it is a blessing when you feel that way and you don’t have to perform salaah. This is of course just my opinion, and people are welcome to differ with me if they feel the need, but I just think that Salaah performed when you are feeling well, and when you are calm and able to concentrate is much better than Salaah performed when your mind is all over the place and you are experiencing physical pain and discomfort.

 In any case, let’s not digress any further than we need to. People wonder how Muslims find time to pray five times a day, but once this becomes your routine then somehow everything just seems to work around it. You start planning your day, your work and your entire life around the times of Salaah. For instance you’ll be thinking; “Okay, after Fajr (early morning) prayer I am going to begin writing my research report”, or “after Esha (evening prayers) I am going to read a book”, or “after Maghrib (early evening, just after sunset) prayer we will have supper”. Everyone has their own examples and their own way of working things out, but for people who have established the prayer 5 times daily, you will find that every task which needs to be done revolves around the Salaah times. All Praise is due to Allah!

So what happens when you’re not performing salaah is basically chaos. You believe that you have more time, but find out that you get far less done, because you have no set timetable (so to speak) to follow. Everything gets done at any time and at the end of the day you end up feeling that your day wasn’t very productive at all, even though you are utterly exhausted. Or, you find yourself doing many things without any break in between and after a while you realize that you haven’t sat down the entire day. There are many more examples I could give you, but basically life without Salaah tends to be chaotic and disordered.

Salaah centres your life, it brings peace and tranquillity, it allows you the time to phase out and stop doing everything else. It gives you a perfect form of stress management, and besides this it helps you to remember what is truly important, which is Allah Almighty and the hereafter. So even if you are having a terrible day where the world seems to be coming to an end, when you make your wudhu (ablution before salaah), the water calms you down and when you remove your shoes and step onto your prayer mat reciting the words of Allah Almighty, then all the problems in the world immediately seem insignificant. When you raise your hands testifying that Allah is the Greatest, you gain perspective about life, and when you bow down, you realize how needy you are and that Allah is the only One who can actually help you, and when you prostrate, with your head on the ground, facing your Creator, you remember that in the end of the day, you are the slave of Allah, and you should not be slaving and working for any other purpose. Salaah helps you to remember your position in this world in relation to the One Creator, and it helps you to remember your purpose in the world. And once you remember who you truly are (i.e. a weak servant of Allah) and why you are truly on this Earth (i.e. to worship Allah alone to the best of your ability) then everything else becomes trivial, and life just somehow makes sense.

So perhaps now you can understand why I feel lost when I do not have Salaah in my life. You may be doing fine, but once you’ve tasted the pleasure and beauty of truth, then it becomes very difficult to live without it.

 Life without salaah feels empty, and although I am still me, I feel like a huge part of me is missing. But please remember that I am not protesting here, because I understand fully the mercy of Allah on a menstruating woman, so this is not a complaint (May Allah save us all from complaining against His perfect system). Another thing that strikes me here is that during this time, even staying away from prayer will be rewarded Inshaa-Allah (If Allah wills) because this is also obeying Allah’s laws. So like many things there is a time and place for everything, and Allah Almighty gives rewards for different things at different times, and this complete and eternal knowledge of Allah is beyond our feeble comprehension.

So yeah, we will never fully understand the complete benefits of Salaah, but from what I can see in my very limited capacity, I can say absolutely that Salaah is indeed a gift, a blessing that benefits me (as Allah does not need anything from his servants). Without Salaah my life is just not the same and I pray that Allah always keeps me on this path and does not take away this beautiful gift that He has given me, Inshaa-Allah.

Images from here:*-amazing-salaah-pictures-*~-15442/
SubhanAllah this site has some amazing pictures of Salaah so please follow the link and have a look!

Friday, April 13, 2012

The imperfect to remind us of the perfect

 I got a new mobile phone recently, Alhamdullillah (All Praise is to Allah). Well, it looks really nice and it has all these fancy features, full touch screen and so on. It seemed almost flawless, with its sleek look and shiny screen, and then while I was using it one day, it suddenly switched off. It went completely dead and I don’t really know why; my brother has speculated that it’s because it may have gotten too hot. The reason for this doesn’t really matter, what matters is the reminder this has given me. It’s reminded me that nothing in this world is perfect, worldly things are imperfect and full of flaws (and this goes for people as well). But more than this, the reminder that things of this world are imperfect has reminded me that Allah Almighty, the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, and of all creatures, is in fact ABSOLUTELY PERFECT!

Only Allah is perfect. Only Allah’s creation does not need regular upgrades. Look around, look at nature, the vast seas, the endless skies, the perfectly shaped clouds, trees perfectly crafted, different kinds of flowers, etc, etc... these things are perfect because Allah has created them in the perfect mould. The things that human beings make may look good, they may seem great, but somewhere along the line the imperfection will show, there is no doubt about that.

A few years ago my sister and her husband bought a beautiful car. It was a convertible and as can be imagined it was stunning; my sister ended up hating that car, for many different reasons, one of which was the car had faults, and although you wouldn’t expect this from such a car, there were some serious faults with the car and no one could do anything about it, even after various complaints to the car company. After a short while they sold the car and went back to their old ordinary car; but that episode in their lives was one which taught them great lessons. That beautiful car was imperfect, and it reminded them of what is Truly Perfect.

I think we need such reminders, otherwise we’d get caught up in this world, believing that the things of this world is the best. It’s easy to get fooled you know. But when we are given these reminders, then we are forced to focus on the world of the hereafter, which is perfect and which will last forever. The beauties in Paradise cannot be imagined by anyone alive, but I bet you that my new cellular phone, or my sister’s ex-convertible, or any other worldly thing for that matter is very, very poor in comparison to the things of Paradise.

Instead of focusing on the beautiful things of this world, we should be directing ourselves to the beautiful things of the Hereafter, because then we will work harder and harder to try and get the perfect things, instead of the imperfect.

So it seems that we need opposites to remind us and direct us. Without poverty we cannot appreciate wealth, without sickness we cannot appreciate health, without old age, we cannot appreciate youth, and of course, without the imperfect we cannot appreciate the Perfect!

May Almighty Allah guide us and always show us real beauty and truth and May Allah give us what is truly perfect instead of the flawed, imperfect things of this world, Inshaa-Allah Ameen!

Image from here

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Is this the way of “the writer”?

Most people who meet me see me as a “quiet person”. I always find this strange because I am someone who has a lot of thoughts and opinions, but I guess it’s because I don’t always openly share all my thoughts and opinions with everyone. I know that I am not outgoing, I never have been. I’m the type of person who prefers to spend one-on-one quality time with people. I’m not anti-social, nor do I have some sort of social phobia, I just never feel comfortable in social gatherings. It’s inevitable that at some point I’m going to mentally stand back, look at the situation and think; “What am I really doing here, I don’t belong here!” I’m also not afraid to speak in public, I am able to present things in public easily, Alhamdullillah. I don’t really believe that I am shy although most people would probably describe me as shy as well. Sometimes I wonder if there’s something wrong with me, (I think a lot of you would be able to relate to me here). You see the thing is that when I’m not comfortable in a situation I just can’t speak, even when I want to, I can’t, it’s like the words won’t leave my mouth. And to be honest, I always feel very silly having to express how I feel verbally, my thoughts never quite match what I end up saying. But it’s not like that with writing, no, writing is a different story altogether!

I’ve always been a writer, ever since I was a young child. Now I’m not talking the great writer who will become famous for wonderfully written literally works. I’m talking about a person who is able to express themselves far better in writing, who finds solace in writing, who turns to writing for therapy (and it works really well doesn’t it), and who sort of finds the space to be themselves completely and freely with no restraints when writing.

My words come out easily, just the way I think them. My feelings are easy to express and I don’t end up feeling like a blundering fool. Everything just seems to make sense when I am writing, it’s like all the confusion of the world is just wiped out.

Once again I am sure that most of you will be able to relate to what I am saying here:

I always thought that there was something wrong with me. Or I should say that people made me feel like there was something wrong with being “a quiet person”. They’d always regard it in a negative way. I used to hate it. From all my siblings people would always refer to me as “THE QUIET ONE”. The way they said it, like there was something wrong with me, upset me, it made me want to be different. When I was younger I’d try to be outgoing and talkative simply because I didn’t want other people to say that I was quiet. It didn’t work- being untrue to your personality and to your self never really works, it just ends up making you act in stupid ways. So I gave up on trying to be more outgoing, and I decided to embrace the fact that I am in truth, “A quiet person”, that’s who I am, and why should other people make me feel that there’s something wrong with that?

Everyone is different, you have “talkers” and you have “writers”, and no one is better, we are all just different.

I just happen to prefer sharing my thoughts and opinions in writing, and of course for those who really know me well, I will share everything with them through non-stop talking, but that’s reserved for those who know me really very well. Also, I think that being quiet allows you to observe things and to reflect, and this is important to me. When you observe, there’s just so much that you can learn, but anyway, that may be a topic of discussion on its own.

So back to my original question-Is this the way of the writer? Do other ‘writers’ experience similar things, does it ever feel like you are so very different from everyone else? Are you also a quiet person who prefers to observe the things that everyone else overlooks? Share your thoughts, please tell us what you think, can you relate to what I’m saying here. Since we all have the love for writing in common, perhaps we are able to learn from each other through sharing our words.
Image from here