I suppose I find myself writing here, quite a lot, about the nature of this life: of this human world of ours. Through writing about it, I guess I am trying to internalise my own knowledge on the topic… if that makes any sense at all.
Like there is a more ‘rational’ side of my mind – which knows these things. This, therefore this, and then, logically that. No fear; certainty. And there is a more… ’emotional’ side. Fearful, and uncertain, and seeking such comfort in… talking about it repeatedly, relatability.
I look around and I realise that nobody can, truly, thoroughly, consistently, be a ‘winner’ in this life. And we know this to be true. Fundamentally, we are, just as all other human beings are: carriers of burdens. Fellow-sufferers. And, also: إنّ مع العُسر يُسراً. “Verily, with hardship(s), comes ease.” [94:1]
When we are young, bright-eyed, untainted by Experience: we are not yet aware of the extent of others’ difficulties, or of the ones that we are soon going to step right into; inherit. Grief, pain, respiratory diseases, heavy responsibilities. Interpersonal conflicts, deep insecurities, financial stresses. Partners cheating, partners and/or parents leaving, loss of health; of wealth; of jobs; of motivation. Postnatal depression — my gosh, everything about childbirth, really. Ageing; abuses; growing fears of illness, and death.
So every time we look into a fellow human being’s eyes: we know they are half-made-up of blessings, and half-made-up of suffering; tests. In this way, we pretty much already know everybody.
An activity that I find to be quite fascinating – and telling: dividing a sheet of paper into two. Listing my blessings on one side [I am alive, and young, and the smell of coffee, and my little brother, and my room, and trees, and rain, and running clean water, and inky pens. The list goes on] and my tests on the other side. Fears, sorrows, frictions: all of it. While the second list seems to be composed of a set number of things, the first one seems like it is actually rather… inexhaustible [وَإِنْ تَعُدُّوا نِعْمَةَ اللَّهِ لَا تُحْصُوهَا ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَغَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ ] [Qur’an, (16:18)]
“And if you were to enumerate the favours of Allah, never would you be able to enumerate them. Truly, Allah is the Forgiving, Nurturing/Kind.”
So even the fact that my eyes can…perceive the colour yellow. Every single breath that I take. I can walk. I do not have this disease, or that one. The beauty Allah has given us; the intelligence; the people, the places; the night sky. Every positive experience you have ever had. The people who love you very deeply, even if you accidentally, momentarily forget about this fact. You can read. You know what mangoes taste like. And… buttermilk chicken burgers [which I’ve only just discovered recently. Que delicioso, chica!]
I will not say that my life is ‘easy’, and nor does it begin to verge upon being frictionless, heavenly, ‘perfect’. I do like challenges, though. I just need to stop convincing myself that there is something ‘better’, somewhere else in Dunya. I am simply wasting mental energy by ever doing so. Hey, ’emotional’ side of my brain. I keep saying this, but: Dunya is Dunya.
You know why you are here. Leading a ‘perfect’ life would make me forget my Purpose, here, wouldn’t it? Perfection – the Denouement, Catharsis, Victory – is ultimately a Jannah thing. Work, burdens, (mystery, unpredictability, challenges and little breakthroughs) and tending closer and closer to the End, and ever-longing for Better: these are essential Dunya things.
“Allah does not burden a soul beyond what it can bear” [Qur’an, (2:286)]. And we are surely being tested. With every single day that elapses; with every passing moment. A Book is being authored: the Story of You. Letters, words and sentences, paragraphs, pages, chapters.
And in some moments: I do think I get a little glimpse of Paradise. In this world, at least, the rarity of those moments is what grants them… value.
[Not to sound dramatic, but] Certainly, there is a yearning, within me. For Something Better, and for More. And I know I cannot put my hope into the fleeting, often-deceiving, elements of Dunya in order to fulfil it.
I am okay, here, Alhamdulillah. As a ‘traveller’. I am also Homesick —
I am, after all, waiting (hoping) to go Home, aren’t I?
“إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ“
“Indeed, to Allah we belong, and to Him we shall return.“
With Salaam, Sadia, 2021.