All That I Am Or Hope To Be

A few reflections on the past year. Feel free to read or skip as you like.

26th March, 2:58 am

Two people can look at the exact same thing and see something totally different. Perspective changes our outlook on life. Often when face trials, particularly of hardship, our perspective on life changes as a result. We start appreciating and savoring every moment. Everything that used to make us laugh becomes ten times funnier than how it used to be. We start appreciating the people we love even more. Little acts of kindness start to speak volumes. Our emotions become heightened. When we experience an emotion like happiness, we feel it ten times more than how we would’ve felt happy before hardship. That is because when we have seen hard days, we appreciate that nothing in life is permanent. We suddenly become accustomed to making the most of the good times, because we recognize that our gifts from God are but temporary ones, and they can evidently be taken away from us in a blink of an eye. We stop living life as if we’ll be here permanently. We recognise that all that is supposedly ours is actually on loan to us. It never belonged to us to begin with. Inna lillah wa inna illayhi raji’oun

Over the past year, someone very dear to me started somewhat suffering from a form of affliction; the world suddenly became a very ugly place. Thanks to the power of duas (prayers) that initial feeling of being enveloped in a bubble of despair disappeared as it soon became clear that this was the wrong and impractical attitude to adopt. A wise person by the name Al-Fadl ibn Sahl said: “There is a blessing in calamity that the wise man should not ignore, for it erases sins, gives one the opportunity to attain the reward for patience, dispels negligence, reminds one of blessings at the time of health, calls one to repent and encourages one to give to charity. It was here on obvious that the only way to deal with hardship was with strong will, patience and Husn Al Dhun Billah (thinking good thoughts of Allah). I remember speaking to one of my favorite speakers about my situation at the end of one of his lectures. He told me that patience must immediately be adopted when calamity strikes as in fact sabr is fardh (incumbent upon the individual) also mentioning that gratitude and being content with God’s degree is sunnah. An act adopted by the beloved prophet, Mohammed (SAS) I took his advice about the sabr but found it tough to be grateful.


With the passing of time, a small sense of gratitude evolved, in the form of coming to terms with the situation and realizing that one must normalize it if they want to get on with a “normal” life. One must NOT be in denial but normalising life was key. After all, it wasn’t worth wasting such a valuable lesson that had come from God. It was suddenly okay that my life was planned out differently to my friends. It was fine that I hadn’t revised much for my final exams and it was okay that I couldn’t join my friends on holidays and it was not that deep in the end that I couldn’t join my classmates on what was supposed to be my year abroad, learning the language that I was pursuing my degree in. I was at ease that God would replace all these sacrifices with better things. Perhaps that ease and sense of reassurance came from my mother’s duas (prayers). Regardless of how much we plan and how long we spend mapping out our journeys in life, God is the sole, Ultimate planner and it’s always up to Him to navigate these adventures for us. Perhaps the one reason we get very sad when life doesn’t go according to plan is because we live life as if we are the masters of our own destiny, forgetting about tawakul (trusting in God’s plan)

Oh, and just a small note about one of my exams. In one of my modules, Classical Arabic literature, I hadn’t revised enough for the amount of questions that were going to be asked in the exam paper. I remember spending a few hours on the Saturday before the exam with some friends studying a specific text from the course and turning to my friend, laughing at how much I was going to “flop” the exam. Come exam day, of course my content knowledge was despicable, but that ONE topic that we thoroughly revised as a group came up. The second question was a poem. I actually ended up getting the meaning of the poem completely wrong, misinterpreting the question but somehow, perhaps God temporarily blinded the examiner when he got onto reading my answer, I did not “flop” that module in the end. Alhamdulillah. Shout out to the friends who shared their notes with me and forced me to stop panicking and just “bang it out” in the little time I had.

The small sense of gratitude soon turned to contentment. The problems never went away but God made each day bearable and doable. Come October time, I suddenly realized that no one around me was exempt from the Quranic verse in Surah Al-Ankabut “Do men think that they will be left alone saying “We believe” and that they will not be tested?” Nearly everyone I was speaking to seemed to have some sort of issue going on. I realised that everyone in life gets the right amount of pressure they can handle. Here are some stories that have managed to inspire me in the past year and undoubtedly will inspire you too; from people I personally know and from stories I happened to read.

There is the story of an inspirational woman whose husband was martyred in the Rabaa massacre. She is currently a mother and an author of a book in reflection of love and the loss of her beloved spouse. There’s a boy whose mother died just as he was nearing his final year of university. He wrote about his experience, mentioning, “everyday was a battle. Every morning he was going to war. Going to university everyday, scrawling to do some work, being away from the one person who pushed him like no other.” His mother. These words hit home. Regardless of his situation, he got a first in his degree and did exactly what his mother wanted from him. There’s also my friend who endures her own personal affliction and at the same time looks after her tired mother who is undergoing chemotherapy. There’s a brother who recently lost his father to a terminal illness but remains steadfast in the face of adversity. There’s a woman I recently read about who endured torture in war filled Syria but has since established life elsewhere with her children. She dedicates her life to them and I have no doubt that they will grow up to make their strong mother proud. There’s my beloved cousin who suffers from type 1 diabetes. As a result of having to prick her fingers more than five times a day to check her blood sugar levels, they hurt and she often can’t hold her pen from the pain. Regardless, she is currently the first member of my extended family working towards her PhD. She taught herself how to fluently speak four languages and she’s currently travelling the world. There’s my beautiful neighbor who lost her mother when she was only 12 years old to a sudden brain hemorrhage. I still remember her phone call at 5am in the morning repeating that her mum’s heart stopped beating. The last time I saw her mother was a few hours before her death, when she came with her daughter, visiting us and bearing a gift for my mother, Pakistani mangoes. She came dressed in her wedding dress, a beautiful white, embellished Shalwaar Kameez. I remember laughing. “Aunty, why on earth are you dressed in your wedding dress” I thought. She departed this world in the following hours in the same color, white; the only difference was the material. She was now enshrouded in a white, cotton cloth. Her daughter never cried in the janazah. She has since transformed that pain into ambition, now working towards attaining A*s in her A levels and on her way to achieving her dream of studying Medicine. There’s my dear friend who suffers insomnia at night due to the battles she faces in life but still manages to come into university, striving towards finishing her Masters degree. There’s my friend who lives away from  family, pursuing work in a different city. Though I tell her off for pushing herself too hard, her work ethos inspires me. There’s a friend who is the most generous, kindest, selfless girl I know who is always there to lend a helping hand and tells me she loves me at least 5 times a day. She doesn’t care if she sounds moist because to her, one day we will all die and it won’t matter if we sound moist. Lol. There’s a friend’s mother who is a full time carer for her autistic son. There’s a woman I met at a two day conference recently. We got talking on the first day and I asked her if she has any kids  and she said “yes, one boy and one girl” but when I went out to have lunch with her on the second day, she looked at me and said “you asked me whether I had any kids and I said I have two, but I actually had three, one was severely disabled and was the joy of my life but now she has gone back to Allah”. There’s my Arabic teacher who lost his mother, aunt and sister within the space of a month and though he was entitled to take time off work, didn’t want to take off in the middle of the term and leave his students hanging. He was determined to teach us the content. He is full of thanks to Allah. His patience is beyond me. There’s a friend who I randomly asked how she was the other day and in return she never responded much, just started tearing up. I hope she knows that God sees her and hears her prayers regardless of what her pain might be. There’s my aunty back in Morocco who is a single mother, living with her son, 17 and daughter, 21. My male cousin stresses her out, as he’s the class clown, always getting told off. She sends me weekly voicenotes whenever he does anything stupid because she knows how much he makes me laugh and knows that I generally find most things funny. She inspires me because regardless of how tough life gets for her, she always finds a way of lightening up the mood with her stories. There are doctors currently on the ground in Syria delivering aid to people who have suffered chemical attacks. They are weak and physically tired but are carrying on. There’s my hilarious friend whose physical health isn’t the best and is always complaining about her stomach pains yet she still travels from country to country, striving to help make a difference through working in refugee camps. I always tell her that she’s lost it but nothing I ever say will deter her from doing what she loves to do.

And finally, there is my mother, who regardless of her daily struggles, has managed to teach me all there is to know about patience, compassion, love, endurance, faith and kindness. She has taught me to be forgiving and reminds me to always make peace, even if you’re in the right, and even if it means having your ego a tad hurt. “Utruki alkhalq, ila Al Khaaliq”

Leave the creation, to the Creator, is the response she has always given us. Whenever my mother reads Surah Al Baqarah, and reaches the ayah “Verily, the help of Allah is near” she repeats it three times and always calls me to repeat it with her. Her strength is beyond me, and though at times I struggle to fathom how one could possibly have endurance levels as high as she does, she is my biggest inspiration in life for remaining steadfast, for her contentment in God’s decree.

My mother is the type of woman who has never hurt anyone with a single word. My friends all love her to bits. She’s the type of woman who if a friend was to come over, she wouldn’t let them leave without gifting them with a present. She’s the type of woman who once made me physically remove one of my favourite bracelets just because we were outside and she had met my friend and wanted to give it to her since she couldn’t gift her with anything else. I still miss that bracelet till this day.

My mothers name is Latifa, which comes from the word kindness, lutf, in Arabic. Mama epitomises this word.

She carries with her a positivity and certain level of happiness and mirth that ceases to exist in my home without her.

She recently went to Ummrah, wearing white as Moroccan women culturally opt out for this colour when they perform the holy pilgrimage. I told her to wear her black shoes instead because they were more comfortable but she gave me the look and told me to stop disrupting her colour scheme.

Mother’s day should not be annually marked, but instead is a day celebrated every day. With this, I end by asking God to heal the broken hearts of fellow people who have lost their mothers/ fathers. I pray that the hole inside them is filled with something special and beautiful. I ask God to reunite them with their parents in everlasting paradise where they will undoubtedly get to wear gold bracelets and fine green garments of silk, reclining on beautiful thrones, where underneath them, will flow beautiful rivers. There, they will never have to live with any pain and quite frankly; any memory of it will have been erased.

I ask that Allah preserves our mothers. May He look after them and make their difficult affairs easier. If they are sick, may He restore to them the sweetness of health and may He replace their sadness and mental/physical pain with happiness and turn their tears into smiles. May they live to see their children prosper in life and may they live to feel proud of us. May we succeed in serving them well, to the utmost best of our ability, though this can and only will ever be a fraction of what they did and currently do for us.

All that I am and all that I hope to be, I owe to my beautiful mother.



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March 2017
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