Coming to university was a real test of faith for me. People who know me from last year know what I am talking about. After coming here I was exposed to so much…I really was a naive kid before this. So in my new found sense of freedom and teenage rebellion (which kicked in too late) I didn’t stop to think about the direction I was going in. ( I am telling you the sense of freedom and teenage rebellion is one of the deadliest combos that Shaytaan can whip up) My friend circle grew wider by the day but my Iman (faith) dipped. Like seriously plummeted. I was still praying but it was a ritual for me. Many of the prayers would be last minute and rushed. I forgot that the Salah, the prayer, is the direct link I have with Allah. My lord has blessed me with Salah where I can un-burden my soul, tell him everything, ask for anything, cry out my frustration…But, here I was thinking about where I should go after praying, what I should eat for dinner…It is like being given an opportunity to converse with the world’s most famous celebrity and during it you stare at the ceiling, at the floor and think about what’s for dinner! ( I got this wonderful example from a talk :D)
I was still wearing the hijab. But a ridiculous name sake version of it. Sometimes I would wear what Baba Ali would call the ‘convertible hijab’. This is when your head covering keeps falling of your head and you keep putting it back on. But hijab then was just an external thing for me. There was no hijab of the heart or mind. I did not take seriously the part where Allah said ‘Lower your gaze’ when you meet someone who is not your mehram. (A mehram is someone in front of whom you do not have to observe the hijab eg- Your father, brother, uncle, son, nephew, grandfather…)
Naturally, with my life in this direction I started experiencing a sort of internal decay of the soul. It was a terrible feeling and I hope no one gets to experience it. I would really enjoy whatever ‘pastime’ I was involved in and then afterwards I would feel extremely guilty about it. Of course at that time I just took the guilt to be PMS. I would cry for absolutely no reason. I remember once I had an argument with my parents about my friends and after the converstation (on skype) I cried. More like Bawled. For a really long time. I didn’t know what was happening to me.
What made me want to change?
Well, two things happened. I was in the January(2011) intake of students. Most of the other students were September intakes. Which means, we had to stay back when the rest of them went back home for their 4 month long vacation. At the beginning I was really depressed. How was I going to survive without my friends? Little did I know that this was a blessing in disguise. With most of them out of the picture, I was forced to come out of my shell and face the reality. I became closer with some other people. These girls were Allah’s gift to me. When there was less of free mixing, which means more halal :D, I started feeling better about myself. Then Allah gave me an even better gift- Ramadan. This holy month was when things really started going uphill, spiritually speaking. Our University has an Islamic Society (Isoc). And the campus also has a mosque which is managed by the Isoc. Now last year the masjid was some place I would go to rarely. I usually used to pray in my room or in the prayer room. And I would rarely attend the Islamic lectures and talks organised by them. The masjid and the Isoc are real assets to the muslims on campus. And I realized this during Ramadan. As Ramadan started I began my internal spring cleaning. There was a lot to be cleaned, wiped and polished. My Iman was buried under all that dust and debris. But through this month (Which Allah has blessed so much) with the help of my friends, the Isoc and obviously with Allah’s guidance I managed to climb back. The correct analogy would be drowning. For indeed I was drowning, the only thing was I didn’t know it. But Allah woke me up before I could go down further. His mercy goes further, for he not only woke me up but also threw in a life jacket which was then followed be a boat with some really awesome people on it.
So, with my friends (Who are now like my own sisters) I started afresh. When I began to slip back into old habits Allah would gently pull me back up again. I started with the prayers. I tried to pray all 5 of them in the masjid in congregation. Even fajr! I thought it would be tough but Allah made it easy. Then I had to work on my hijab, both external and internal. I became a little more aware about my dressing…so loose clothes showing only hands and face. ( I later started wearing an abaya because it is sooooo much more convenient 😀 ). Lowering the gaze is the tough part. You know what I am talking about! 😀 It’s really like a battle inside me: The battle of the century- Me Vs My Nafs. Needless to say, it’s an ongoing battle..
The best thing to happen to me here was Isoc. This year things are so much more easier for me. Firstly, in the ISoc I have made some super awesome friends. These people make me laugh, they make me happy, they cheer me up when I am down. And when I need it, they me a good whack on the head too 😀 Then there is the masjid…it’s like our second home (Actually first, because on weekdays I come to my room only to sleep :D).
The ISoc has amazing events every week. Every Wednesday we have the Wednesday pearls which are video lectures by renowned Islamic scholars. These lectures are really relevant to us as students trying to practise our faith when there is SO much temeptation surrounding us. Then every Thursday we have a Shaykh coming to our masjid to teach us. I didn’t realize the value of this until one of the brothers pointed out how blessed we are to have a scholar coming to us to teach. Mostly it is the other way around. And it’s not only lectures and talks…we have a lot of fun stuff too! We have tea parties and pizza nights…Then trips outside. Actually, even if nothing was organised you can just put the sisters in a room together and we can stay there without getting bored for as long as you want! It’s a girl thing 😀
Looking back I really don’t know what I have done to deserve these blessing from Allah. Every single day he blesses me with something. These are some of the things I am thankful for-
- For giving me life again by guiding me
- For giving me health- to pray
- For giving me wonderful parents who are so supportive. Who have encouraged me to follow my dreams.
- For a family so loving and caring.
- For introducing to my life friends who help me in this journey every signle day. Friends with whom I want be resurrected on the day of judgement under the shade of Allah. Insha Allah.
- For ISoc and the second family I found within it.
- For every single second I am alive
It scares me thinking what would have happened had not Allah pulled me out of the quick-sand I was immersing myself in. It terrifies me to think what would have happened if I had died in such a condition. I am still scared that I would stray from the straight path. Even more that I am deluding myself into thinking that I am safe. I still slip, I still find it tough to follow some things…but I have hope, in Allah’s infinite mercy.
“Say: O `Ibadi (My slaves) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: verily, Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful”. (Quran, 39:53)
My intention in writing this is not to brag, but to share what I went through with a hope that it might help someone else who is looking for a way out. Turning to Allah is the only way. Everything else is just an illusion.
Anything good in this is from Allah and all errors are mine. I pray that Allah keeps me, my family, my friends and anyone who is seeking the truth, on the straight path. I pray he guides those who have forgotten the way. I pray he increases the love amongst us. I pray we remember always that we are travellers in this world and our destination is the Hereafter- Jannah, Insha Allah. May Allah make this journey easy for all of us and may he make Jannah more attractive to us than this dunya and its distractions. May he forgive our sins, which even if are as high as the mountains don’t stand a chance against Allah’s mercy (If we truly repent!). May he preserve our Iman. May we all be resurrected together under his shade on the day when there is no shade except his shade.
“Our Lord! we have heard the call of one calling (Us) to Faith, ‘Believe ye in the Lord,’ and we have believed. Our Lord! Forgive us our sins, blot out from us our iniquities, and take to Thyself our souls in the company of the righteous. (3: 193)
“Our Lord, let not our hearts deviate after You have guided us and grant us from Yourself mercy. Indeed, You are the Bestower.
Our Lord, surely You will gather the people for a Day about which there is no doubt. Indeed, Allah does not fail in His promise.” (3: 7-8)