Grabbing onto Hot Coals

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Lately I have been having a lot of flashbacks and reminders of the person I used to be say, some 3 to 5 years ago. The person I used to be could learn so much from who I am now but if I wasn’t that person I wouldn’t be the one I am today.

I am eternally grateful to Allah for a husband who has changed far more than I am, than when our paths first crossed each other. It is true that all the adulthood personality changes I underwent are largely attributed to my husband’s presence. In the past these changes were immature and immaculate but today they are more serene and firmer as ever.

My husband and I have gone through a lot in our lives, both individually and as a couple, before and after marriage. Our personalities are eons apart but I believe it is the similar ordeals that we had to face in life that brought us together. You might say well who doesn’t face strife in life? That is true and to each his own, I’m not saying everyone doesn’t face magnanimous troubles. I’m just saying we have had our fair share to deal with and over time they have made us into people that even our oldest friends, friends from childhood, and our parents and siblings cannot relate to at all wavelengths. Its a good thing, at least for me, because it makes me feel secure and understood by the one person who is my “garment” ( reference to Quran 2:187). Yet the thought I want to share today goes out to everyone who refuses to see beyond our manifest changes.

The Prophet PBUH said that there will be a time when practising Islam will be like holding on to hot coals. Meaning, it will be so hard to adhere to basic Islamic teachings and followings that one might resonate with holding hot coals while doing it. What happens when you hold something hot, let alone hot coals? The reflex is to let it go immediately so you don’t get more burnt. Yet the charred skin on your hands will still have a burn mark and still require days to recover from it. Why the simile between hot coals and practising beliefs then? Because surprisingly enough today when my husband and I delve deeper into our beliefs and want to practise more, it becomes exactly like that i.e. so hard to hold onto our beliefs or practise them.

We still try to practise as much as we can, at least as much as we have knowledge about, yet somehow someone is always putting us down for doing it. And the amusing part is that some of the choices that we make for solely practical purposes that have nothing to do with religion are also assessed under an Islamic lens. Whatever happened to logical reasoning is beyond my comprehension. All we try to do is go about our business, preventing ourselves from things we believe will harm us in the long run, and suddenly we have moral, social, cultural, and even “religious ” police to answer to.

For a long time I kept my thoughts to myself about this and other things that matter to me but now when I am a mother I feel the need to pen them down simply because I want my children to know who their mother was, in the event I am not there when they reach the age of pondering. I don’t want them to end up clueless at twenty years of age regarding a moral and spiritual direction like I did, despite belonging to extremely religious background. Religious rituals were always a routine in my father’s house but somehow treating family with respect was not. My father belonged to a different religious sect and my mother to a different one. I was always given a choice to follow whichever when I thought was better but I had no resources to decide. All I had was examples of my family and unfortunately they were not enough. I grew up realizing that those who staunchly practised religion lacked basic morals, and those who had morals lacked religion. You see the obvious disconnect there?

At twenty something when I went through the worst traumas in life all I wanted was solace and I had to dig for it myself. I found it in Islam, in Salah, in Dua, and the Quran. Or more like all of it found me. And then it also found my husband. And then we found each other in a totally new way, with profound appreciation for faith, life, each other, and the little things in life. We changed our goals, perspectives, goals, and all the rest of the small stuff.

Now when I look back to my lost self and my found, all I want to do is relive my found self over and over again. Yes being a wife and mother changed me but the real change had begun far earlier, the day I lost my father to Alzheimer’s yet did not lose hope; the day Allah Tested me with burdens of financial responsibility when I had nothing in my hand; the day I took my father to the hospital and watched him forget my name; the day I got married without him remembering it, without any of my best friends, and just my immediate family to attend; the days I watched my brother struggle with speech, walking, and simple every day things simply because Allah Taala Decided him to have an extra chromosome. You see I was already changing from within. I just didn’t realize the hot coals were coming closer to me steo by step by step, and they will keep doing so to test me at every next step to see if I really am ready to embrace them or if I will revert to being a weakling.

Islam started from being strange and it will go back to being strange. I am witnessing this every day all around me. This is not a thing for a day or two. It is a life lesson, for me, for my children, and their children. If I remain quiet today and throw my coals thinking that I don’t want my children to burn in the same flame as me, and wish them an easy life, without beliefs and practice, then I will have failed in my own eyes. This is my personal struggle, one I will be accountable for. It is not a race or a temporary phase that I can easily shrug off, nor is it a ticket for judgemental demeanor to others I know. I have to take care of my burns and everyone else has to make choices about theirs.

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