Sometimes someone says something, and I want to frame what they have said, and keep it forever. Copied and pasted below is one of those frame-worthy utterances, (or, writings. Typings, even, to be even more precise). An important excerpt from an email my amiga Tasnim wrote to me (in response to one of my emails, to her).
[Follow her art account on Instagram: @Nimartistry. Her artistic abilities are simply amazing, Allahummabārik!]
“Final time I am going to think outside of the ‘here and now’, Insha Allah.”
When I read this bit of your email, it honestly summed up what I wanted to say regarding everything you’ve written. There is a video I saw on Instagram; you may have seen it already. A Somali Muslim guy, visibly blind, quoted the Qur’an and then said,
“Allah promised me, all I have to do is be patient, and I’ll be granted Jannah. I have to deal with blindness for about 80 years, and then be guaranteed paradise permanently? No problem; this is nothing!”
And seeing him act so nonchalant about being blind just truly diminished any sense of struggle and worry I had in that moment. Alhamdullilah we have all our senses, but we are tested in other ways. However, the principle still applies. Be patient, and you will be granted Jannah. That’s literally all it is!
So Sadia, try to take one day at a time, with each […] emotion, deal with them as they come. Each test, is just an opportunity to stack them rewards boi. Imagine if life went the way we wanted it to: how could we be tested? How would we deserve any blessings given to us? Our Lord is Just. Whatever pain and worry you feel, you will be recompensed. Never doubt that there is a purpose to every twist and turn, to every calamity, to every stress. (A reminder to myself as well). It is simply an opportunity to draw closer to Allah, and that is the greatest blessing we could ever receive in this life.”
[I (Sadia, that is) will add, here, that the life of this world is, ultimately, a struggle. An oft arduous journey, up a mountain. Or, on an aeroplane of sorts, to Somewhere. To meeting our Creator, and to our ultimate Homes, Insha Allah. Here, we must not allow ourselves to be deluded. There are no utopias on Earth, you will find, “and what is the life of this world except the enjoyment of delusion?” [Qur’an, (57:20)]]
“When I ride in an airplane [sic], I enjoy looking at how small the world seems from a distance. Yet when you zoom in, what seemed so small and insignificant turns out to be very important and major for most of us. The size of the house, the kind of car, the amount of money, and the lifestyle we want. It is easy to get caught up in the routine of day to day life thinking that it will never end. Each day we wake up, go to work, wait for Friday, and enjoy the weekend. Rinse and repeat. It takes a lot of emotional and spiritual energy to stop, pause, and reflect on what is happening and where we are going. We often escape from the thought of our end. Death is a reality every single living creature will experience. No one’s health, wealth, status, or riches ever saved them from dying and being buried with nothing.” — Fatima Karim
“The root of all diseases of the heart is our love and attachment to this materialistic world. We know this world is temporary, yet we find it so hard to disengage from it. May the Almighty guide our hearts into desiring what is lasting — the Hereafter.” — Mufti Ismail Menk
This is certainly something that I need to remember. That, on the flip-side of this more fleeting existence, I am already ‘dead’, departed from this Dunya. In that atemporal realm, I am either somewhere in Jannah, or I am in Jahannam. My current experience, here, is retrospective knowledge for me, over There: a string of reasons as to why I am wherever it is that I may be.
This life is a test. My life is an individualised ‘test paper’, so to speak. I am being tested in particular ways, and you are being tested in different particular ways. Through, to paraphrase that ‘Meaning of Life’ spoken word poem I am so obsessed with, our wealth, our health, and everything we have been blessed with.
And we will surely be resurrected.
Here, I have Salaah. I have the Qur’an. I have all these added blessings, such as food and warmth, good people, and these constant opportunities to learn, and to grow, and to work on bettering myself. Most else… these are supplementary blessings that I do not necessarily ‘need’ in order to fulfil my purpose, here. I must be duly thankful for all of it, Shakoor.
“Everything other than Allah is vanity” — Shaykh Hamza Yusuf
In your grave, nothing of the vanities of this life will remain. Just you, alone, and your deeds: the stuff of the soul (presently seemingly invisible, intangible. But, soon: the only things that are real, that remain).
And, see, death is absolutely certain, while the things of this life are absolutely not.
“So where are you going?” [Qur’an, (81:26)]
Sadia Ahmed J. and Tasnim K. Ali, 2020