Noor's life on the path to Jannah

Archive for June, 2009|Monthly archive page

A sister’s tears

In Uncategorized on June 7, 2009 at 10:35 pm

Salaams dear sisters,

First and foremost, I want to tell everyone how sorry I am for not keeping up with my daily entries. I’ve been struggling with the depression thing again for the last few days, and for anyone who’s suffered from it, you know how debilitating it is. As much as I love this blog and hearing from all of you lovely sisters (a lot!!!) when I feel this bad I just want to lay down on the couch or in bed and just beg Allah SWT to forgive me for whatever I’ve done to deserve such a punishment. And that’s another reason why I haven’t written, because I promised myself that this would be a blog glorifying Allah SWT, and if I cannot glorify Him, then I wouldn’t write anything at all.

What stinks about depression is how everything turns gray: your freshly-ground cup of coffee tastes like mud, the chirping of the birds sound tinny and canned, and even the little annoyances in life become huge detractors. Your eyes burn from crying and you feel like you’re never going to smile again. When things get REALLY bad, you wrap yourself up, cocoon-like, in bed and stay there for hours at a time. You either stop eating or overeat, depending on how you’re wired, and just the mere thought of washing or brushing your teeth or doing all of that personal hygeine stuff falls by the wayside…using water, soap, deodorant, and a toothbrush just seems impossible.

The way you feel about yourself during an episode is really sad: everyone in this world is more intelligent than you, more attractive than you, more successsful than you, more anything than you. You feel like the worst person in the world and that there’s no hope for you at all, not now, not ever. You look in the mirror and hate what you see so much that eventually you don’t have the guts to look in the mirror anymore.

Depression stinks, ladies. It really, truly stinks.

For those of you that are wondering, yes, I am on medication and under a doctor’s care. I was even in an outpatient hospital program earlier this year. But it looks like Allah SWT has decided to test me with yet another bout of depression, and I wonder: when will it end? Will it ever end?

This is where I can choose to glorify Allah SWT or emit a silent scream of anger and frustration. There must be a reason why I’ve been chosen to tread this path…there must, there must. I know that Allah SWT only tests the ones that He loves, in order to bring us ever-closer to Him. I also know that the shaytan only harasses the people of faith, because they are the ones that have something to lose. I’m painfully aware that life is not meant to be easy and that my situation could be much, much worse. But sometimes…well, it just hurts so darn much.

My husband, patient soul that he is, continually reminds me to beg to Allah SWT, to plead to Allah SWT, to cry to Allah SWT, to pray without ceasing–asking Him to forgive me, have mercy on me, and insha-Allah to take my pain away. When I was wrapped up in my bed yesterday, crying, it came to me that surely Allah SWT would never turn His back on my cry or ignore my pain. I simply refuse to believe that, as loving and merciful as Allah Almighty is. And again, I have a choice: to glorify Him (in spite of the pain) or emit that silent scream. If Allah SWT has brought me to this dark place, surely He can lift me out.

Allah SWT, Allah SWT, Allah SWT. I love You so much and want to be a good Muslimah, a devoted sister walking the Straight Path. I want to wake up in the morning thankful for another precious day with You and go to bed praising You for the gift of yet another 24 hours. I want to look out of my window and say “Alhumdulillah!” instead of crying, “Subhanallah!” without sobbing. I want to look around my world and fully appreciate all of the wonderful gifts You have given me and continue to give me. Allah SWT, I’m not asking for gold or diamonds or a Mercedes-Benz or a mansion or riches beyind compare…I just want to feel normal again.

I don’t know when this test will end, if it ever will end. But all I can do is keep making du’a, knowing that Allah SWT counts every tear that I shed. I’m just really, really tired of shedding them right now.

My love to all of you,

Noor 🙂 (trying to smile anyway)

It’s halal, it’s fun, it’s my addiction!

In Uncategorized on June 4, 2009 at 10:41 pm

Assalamu Aleikum everyone,

Arrrrgghh! I don’t know I about you, but I cannot STAND three-quarter length sleeve shirts. I don’t know who started that trend, but I’d like to give him or her a piece of my mind! Then why am I wearing one, right? Well, a few weeks ago at a yard sale I got a huge (and I mean HUGE; this box was about four feet tall!) container, stuffed to bursting–of clothes for only $10 (which amounts to pennies per piece–alhumdulillah and yay for me!) and there were a few 3/4 sleeve knit shirts in the mix. I figured what the heck, I’ll wear them around the house. Well, they’re driving me nuts! The sleeves keep scooching up and I keep pulling them down, only to find them scooching up again and making me feel like I’m wearing something that shrunk. Very frustrating.

The public is going to be surprised to see me this summer wearing all of these blouses with harvest themes and pumpkin appliques on them, which is what I also found in the box. I could put them away for fall, I guess. Perhaps I should. I’m not a very trendy Muslimah, I guess. Truth be told, sisters, I see all of your cool polyvore collages and I envy you for your fashion sense. As for me, I have two criteria:

1. Does it fit? and:

2. Can I get it for $1 or less at a yard sale? 🙂

Yes, that’s right…the yard sales have spoiled me. BAD. Even shelling out $15-20 for a blouse or pants at my local discount store is a huge indulgence for me, as I’m always finding stuff for pennies on the dollar in somebody’s driveway. Yard sales really warp your thinking about what one considers to be a good value and what is not. As much as I love those polyvore ideas, I shudder to think at how much it must cost to assemble an outfit.

Ya know, I was wondering if I should write about the whole yard sale thing again. I know that I already wrote about last Saturday’s “haul” and I thought that you might get sick of it or think that I was boasting about how much cool stuff I got for so cheap. I hope you don’t feel that way….if you do, I apologize.  It’s just that my hubby and I are on a tight budget (who isn’t?) and in the time we’ve been yard saling, it’s amazing what Allah SWT has blessed us with. In fact, I think we say more “alhumdulillahs” and “subhanallahs” on Saturday mornings than any other time of the week, LOL. It’s a little sad, in a way–people buy stuff at full price and end up selling it for practically nothing. We have found so much great stuff that I really wonder why everyone doesn’t shop this way. It involves getting up early in the morning (the good stuff is generally all picked over by 10am, so we hit the road by 7:30am at the latest!) and a skilled use of your GPS (which we also found at a yard sale!) and Mapquest, but it’s so much fun, sisters, it really is. Believe it or not, it’s strengthened our marriage, too. Hubby and I have a blast as we pour steaming travel mugs of chai masala, set up the GPS, make sure we have plenty of $1 bills, and away we go.

Of coure, all of this fun and acquisition of our “treasures” cannot be remotely possible without the generosity of Allah SWT. It’s amazing how He seems to lead us to just the right houses that have exactly what we need. Coincidence? I think not. Allah SWT has been so kind to us. Every time we see or use something that Allah SWT has provided us at a yard sale, it’s another opportunity to praise Him and remember that His bounty is never-ending and unceasing. Alhumdulillah!

OK, this is the second yard sale post in one week and maybe I should stop writing about my “addiction,” LOL.  It’s just that every weekend I am so amazed at what Allah SWT gives to us, and that spills over into the rest of my week. I see more of His abundance Monday through Friday thanks to what I see on Saturday, and it’s not all material stuff, either.  I don’t think there’s any way we Muslimahs can write too much about Allah’s generosity, or thank Him too much for all that He blesses us with, both material and otherwise.

The only little problem I have is that I’d like to make an effort to dress more Islamically, and you can forget about finding abayas, jilbab, or shalwar kameez at a yard sale (although I have found some nice scarves.) InshaAllah, when the time is right, Allah will give me the risq to shop at Shukr and all of those other cool Islamic stores…and who knows, maybe I’ll assemble a few polyvore ensembles of my own! (A sister can dream, can’t she?)

 As always, thanks from the bottom of my heart for reading, and the next time you see a yard sale in your neighborhood, GO FOR IT! 🙂

Much love,

Noor

Is the curry too spicy tonight? (And why should I care?)

In Uncategorized on June 3, 2009 at 11:18 pm

Hello and salaams to everyone,

First of all, I want to thank everyone that has been taking the time to visit and comment on my blog. I sincerely hope that you enjoy your time here. Please remember that the door is always open and that I love to hear from you–it brightens my day in ways that you simply cannot imagine. 🙂

My mood right now is just a wee bit worried….OK, a LOT worried.  I made channa dal (curried chickpeas) tonight and I think that I added too much masala (spice) into the recipe. My hubby is on his way home from work right now and I’m afraid he won’t like it. Maybe that seems like an extremely petty fear, but I love my husband dearly and I want him to be happy with the meals I serve him after his long workday. Let’s hope he’s in the mood for five-alarm dal tonight!

This little culinary error has got me thinking about just how much I do worry, and I how I don’t turn to Allah SWT nearly enough to help me surmount it. My husband’s uncle (we call him “Mamoo”) is one of the calmest, most serene persons I know. He has a job that most would scoff at as “menial” and really doesn’t make much of an impact upon the world from the dunya’s perspective. But Mamoo has a calming personality and piousness that only comes from long hours spent in study and on the prayer rug. He never worries about where his next meal is coming from or whether he’ll be laid off soon or how he’s going to support his sons, both of which live with him. Mamoo not only does the minimum of what a Muslim is expected to do, he surpasses it, and is it really any surprise that Allah SWT has blessed him with a steady provision?

Let’s remember that when we we were born, Allah SWT in His infinite wisdom assigned us our provision, and we can never, ever have that taken away from us. You cannot add to it or subtract from it. Umar Ibin Al Khattab narrated that he heard Allah’s Messenger say, “If you were to trust in Allah SWT genuinely, He would give you provision as He does for the birds which go out hungry in the morning and come back full in the evening.” If Allah SWT can provide for the birds, why should we worry that He won’t provide for us?

When I talk to the people who live their lives for Allah SWT (as opposed to people like me, who are still caught in the quicksand of the dunya), one of the most important “vibes” that resonate from them (ok, pathetic word, but I couldn’t think of another) is their profound sense of peace. They know that their risq is written for them, and they also know that what Allah SWT has decreed for them, they will receive. I wish I had that level of iman.

It’s all about submission and acceptance of the Unseen. There is so much going on in the Unseen, things that we cannot possibly fathom or understand. Even though we can’t see what’s going on ON THE SURFACE at this very moment, we can still choose to trust and have faith in Allah SWT. It is so easy to analyze things to death and let logic take over when one is worried about the outcome of something. Don’t be fooled. Think about what’s going on under the surface instead, and just let your life unfold.

I’m laughing at myself right now because I’m not prone to take my own advice as an incredible worrywart, but I think I’ve learned my lesson. Before I took shahada, I went to every astrologer, palm reader, psychic, and tarot-card carrying charlatan in town (astaghfirallah!) I think it’s important to note that in spite of all the money I spent, and in spite of all the wasted hours I spent in cramped, incense-choked rooms getting my latest dose of snake oil, not one of any of my “psychic predictions” have ever come true. NOT ONE. The worst of these ripoff artists was a “Native American shaman” (and my apologies to any Native Americans who may be reading this) who claimed to be able to “channel” spirits from the hereafter. After impatiently waiting months for an appointment and coughing up way too much money, I was granted an audience with this nut. I had my “experience” and eagerly awaited spiritual enlightenment. The balloon burst like a shower of icy water in my face when I allowed a friend, who had also seen this man, to listen to the tape of my session–and her session was EXACTLY the same as mine! This guy just went through the same old spiel every time he saw someone! Gee, do you think Allah SWT was trying to tell me something?

Yeah, trust is hard, iman is hard, but we’ve gotta find it somewhere, and we’re not going to find it in a deck of tarot cards or in the lines of your palm.  It’s safe for us to let go, release our fear and simply BELIEVE and trust Allah Almighty, the One God with no equals or partners.  We will get so many blessings in return…so many rewards for pleasing Allah SWT. For that, isn’t it worth facing a doubt or two?

By the way, hubby just came home–and he LOVES the dal!

Take care my wonderful sisters,

Noor 🙂

It’s been three years, and what can I say?

In Uncategorized on June 3, 2009 at 12:19 am

Hello and salaams to everyone,

Three years ago I took shahada on this date. I have been debating all day about what to write regarding this very auspicious day. Strangely enough, I don’t have much to say (which is a rarity for me, LOL!) and for some stranger reason I feel guilty because of it. I have read so many convert stories where sisters have told how their lives have changed drastically, how they are on this wonderful spiritual path of love and light and understanding, and that’s just not the way it’s been for me.

Maybe it’s because I am a very, very imperfect kind of Muslim.  I know some of you out there are saying that we are ALL imperfect Muslims. Well, that’s true, but I seem to be more imperfect than most. I still poke myself with hijab pins as the scarves slip off my head, I haven’t fasted through one whole Ramadan, I’ve never given zakat, I stumble over my prayers, and the idea of my doing Hajj or even Umrah–with my sabr deficiency!–seems like an impossible prospect. I still listen to music (and they aren’t nasheeds), watch COPS devotedly every Saturday night, and even sneak a McDonald’s hamburger on occasion, just out of sheer laziness.  And forget about waking up on time for Fajr.

I get mad (astaghfirallah) at Allah SWT sometimes, as futile of an effort as that is, and there are times when waswasa consumes me from morning til night. I get sloppy about my wudu and forget to say “Bismillah” before dinner is served. Sometimes I’ll sneak out to the mailbox without wearing hijab, and masjid visits? I can count on both hands how many times I’ve been to the masjid in the last three years and still have fingers left.

The list is long, sisters–very long.

Allah SWT gave me the strength to wear hijab about a month after I took shahada. Think there would be any exciting drama there? Think again. I very rarely catch people staring at me, and the one and only time I was openly “persecuted” was when I was in line at the DMV, waiting for my new driver’s license. I turned around to see an ancient man, precariously perched on a cane, staring at me with the look of the most poisonous,vile, disgusting hate I have ever seen on a human face. His mouth was moving awkwardly, as if the words he wanted to say were so bitter that he could not even utter them aloud. And thank God he didn’t, or else I would have kicked the cane out from under him. (OK, well, I wouldn’t, but I sure wanted to, astaghfirallah.) Our eyes met and held for a few long seconds, then, reluctantly, the man averted his eyes.

I guess I really had quite a bit to say after all. Funny, when I took shahada (which made President Obama’s swearing-in look flawless in comparison) in a shaykh’s office in a madrassa in Cerritos, California, I expected the skies to open up, the angels to burst into songs of praise, and lightning to strike and flash throughout the heavens. I mean, I LITERALLY expected this to happen, or something similar. When the shaykh told me that I was now as a newborn baby, with all of my prior sins and transgressions wiped clean, I sure as heck didn’t FEEL like one. All I could think of was why I didn’t feel any different and if this “wipeout” included my lousy credit rating as well. (Ah well…one can dream, can’t they?)

As for the two Noble Writers that were assigned to me three years ago,  I know that my left-side angel must have been working overtime since then, while my right-side angel’s pen has probably stuttered into silence.

OK, this is bordering on cynicism, so I’ll stop here.

Sometimes I wonder why Allah SWT still wants me. Yeah, I know that sounds pathetic, and I don’t mean it to be. It’s just that sometimes I’m the nice, pious, Allah SWT-fearing Noor, but most of the time I’m the painfully imperfect Michelle. There must be a reason why I’m still around after three years….well, I know why. Because Islam is THE TRUTH, and in spite of my many, many mistakes and ridiculous laziness and extreme imperfection, I can still go to bed at night knowing that Allah SWT is my Lord and that Our Beloved Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) is His Final Messenger. I also know that–subhanallah!–Allah SWT’s mercy is greater than His wrath and in spite of my mistakes I have a fair chance of being forgiven if I truly repent for what I have done. And I do…over and over and over again.

I see myself falling at least a million times in the future, but with Allah’s infinite mercy and forgiveness to lift me up, I know that I can keep on walking on the path to Jannah, one step at a time. And maybe I’ll get my right-side angel to write a little more often so my left-side angel can catch a break for a change.

Islam…for me, it’s gonna be forever.

Blessings and du’as to all,

Noor 🙂

You are getting sleeeepy….

In Uncategorized on June 1, 2009 at 10:24 pm

Salaams to all of my dear sisters,

Here I am, half-dazed on an early Monday evening. …at least, it sure feels that way. My hypnosis CD arrived in today’s mail and I listened to it for the first time about an hour ago. It was….uh…interesting, to say the least. By the time it was over, I felt like I was floating about one foot off of the bed. You’re listening to all of these commands telling you to “simply relax…that’s right…just relax” and it’s resonating in your left ear, then your right ear, then BOTH ears–I kept drifting off and hoping that soon these suggestions will be permanently attaching themselves to my brain, since I am desperate to try anything at this point.

For those of you who didn’t read my earlier post, this hypnosis CD is for weight loss, a very profound and painful issue in my life right now. The weight has crept on to a level where it is now affecting my physical health almost as badly as it is affecting the emotional side of things. I suppose you can call me “obese,” as much as I detest that word. I literally have no other frame of reference in my life other than being overweight–even my photos as a toddler make me look like a baby butterball–and I hate it. I really, REALLY hate it. I turn to food when I feel bad and it’s like trying to put a band-aid on a broken leg, or pouring water into a bucket with bullet holes in it. Simply put, the food doesn’t work.

You would think that after three years of being a Muslim I would have acquired enough iman to understand that Allah SWT is truly the healer of all ills and that if I only make dua, dua, dua….lots of dua….I will get the help I need to surmount this mountain of flesh. But I haven’t gotten there yet. I turn to pills, gimmicks, potions and lotions, and the latest diets that all scream at you in the bookstores as “THE LAST DIET YOU’LL EVER NEED!” Astaghfirallah, I am even thinking of taking black seed oil, not because it is such a wonderful sunnah, but because I hope against hope that since it is a “cure for everything against death” that it’ll cure my obesity too.

In my darkest hours, I rant and rave and shake my fists against Allah SWT, like a baby lashing out in anger against his mother. I see sisters, sleek, beautiful sisters all aglow in their lovely abayas and long, flowing skirts, and the jealousy and envy fills my mouth with bitter bile. I see people running by my house every day as I am once again reminded that I can barely walk around the block without gasping for breath.  I am reminded of my dad, who died of a heart attack at the age of 33 (33 years old!) and wonder if there is a faltering, diseased time bomb under my left breastbone (although I must say that I got an EKG last October and it was normal, alhumdulillah.) You would think that I would harness all of this maladaptive, incredibly destructive anger and channel it into DOING SOMETHING. But I don’t. I run to the macaroni and cheese, the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, the hummus and pita. My friends.

There must be a meaning to all of this. THERE MUST. There must be a reason why Allah SWT has chosen to test me this way. Oh, I can hear you now: “She’s just feeling sorry for herself.”  “She’s lazy.” “How can she be such a slob?” “At least it isn’t cancer.” “How disgusting!” I understand, I really do, and I wouldn’t blame you for having those thoughts. But if I had found something that worked, I would have done it by now. Why, oh why, is Allah SWT holding out on me? Why, when I need him the most?

I even considered the gastric bypass, but when I met the woman who had the procedure only to vomit  after every time she consumes more than a teaspoon of food, I canceled my surgery date.

Ya know, when I started this blog I was determined that it would remain positive. And I’m not going to let that vision go. Despite my frustration, despite my pain, despite my not being able to do a million little things, despite my having to pray in a chair because I can’t do sajda–I remain convinced that Allah SWT is the healer, and that when the time is right, He will show me a way out of this nightmare. Maybe it’s the gentle coaxing voice of a hypnosis CD–maybe it’s not. Maybe black seed oil really will help–or maybe it won’t make a darn bit of difference. It doesn’t matter. Only Allah SWT does.

Maybe the way out is simply by writing about it, and getting all of that hurt out into cyberspace, where I can throw it away like so much useless garbage. Maybe the key to the door of my fat jail is contained within the keys of my keyboard.

Maybe now, now that I’ve looked my pain straight in the face and dared to write about it to a bunch of “strangers,” I can finally let it go. Maybe now I can cast my hurt and anger away and let Allah SWT’s healing, sustaining Noor into my heart for a change. Maybe now I can finally stop shaking a closed fist at Allah SWT and embrace His infinite love and mercy with open arms.

Maybe now I can dare to hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel; not all tests last a lifetime.

Just maybe.

JazakAllah Khair for reading this,

Noor