Be Still, and Know, I am.


I never knew //

I never knew that everything was falling through,

That everyone I knew was waiting on a cue //

To turn and run when all I needed was the truth.

But that’s how it’s got to be:

It’s coming down to nothing more than apathy;

I’d rather run the other way than stay and see //

The smoke, and //

who’s still standing when it clears.” [T.F.]

Life is not ‘easy’. How could this life ever, really, be? Maybe:

You have stress on your chest. Maybe: depression has come next. Maybe: loneliness, ache, and lostness. Maybe you currently find them leaking out of your eyes.

Maybe you think you have to ‘man up’. Maybe you’re convinced that it’s summer, so why can’t you emulate what you see on Instagram? The ‘fun’, the smiles. Outings and laughter.

But in fact, you are looking, in adulation, at what is a mirage. Don’t we know, already, what this Dunya is?

Dear Reader,

You have got to stay. Your dad loves you. Your brother does too. And if you ever forget: remember

that they would not be able to handle a life, without you in it. Maybe, at present, you don’t feel like you are really anything, or anybody, at all. Depression can do this to you. It’s like wearing black-painted glasses, and you think that the world must look like this. You cannot see the arms of sunlight, stretching into your room. They’re waiting for you; Insha Allah, you’ll see them again soon.

Dear Reader,

When Allah created the entire universe, with such great, heavy, powerful reason, He decreed that His creations would have been incomplete without a you, here, in it.

I don’t know what, precisely, it is about you. But you make people’s hearts smile: whether your sister’s, or your grandma’s, or your wife’s. Maybe: it is your gentleness. Or, how headstrong you are. What you do when you are nervous; the ‘little’ things that you don’t even really know you say, all the time.

Allah loves you. Sinner, broken, we all are. Even if you find you have wronged your own soul one hundred million times. All it takes is a heart that cares. Maybe Allah’s way of reminding you that (to quote the Qur’an) He is Near, and Responsive, is by… guiding you to this article. It was Written for you, to be here.

There are many apt metaphors through which to describe the Life of this Dunya. Journey: adventure; camping, mostly in the dark, until it is time to go Home. Airport. Mountain-climbing. War, battle, struggle, fight.

Sometimes, fighting looks like: knuckles dusted. Knees skinned. Bruises; heart aching. Of course, it hurts.

Perhaps this moment in time — maybe it will take you two weeks; maybe, even, three months — maybe this is your time for metamorphosis. A painful process, this real growth stuff. Just wait, Insha Allah, until you reach the other side. And you have got to stay, no matter what. Allah’s universe requires a you, right here within it.

Sometimes, fighting looks like resting. If your mind and body are telling you, you need rest, then, please, rest. Two extra hours in bed, maybe. A walk of a couple of kilometres. Whatever it takes: fighting does not always look like racing, and rage.

Dunya breaks hearts: this is what it does. Home, though, stitches them right back up again. Home. Where is home, for you? Who is home, for you? Which activities (e.g. writing, cooking), too?

And have you tried, also, putting your forehead on the ground, while facing the Qibla, and talking to your Lord? Indeed, He is always Near; always Responsive.

I also dare you to think about who – on the human level – is home, for you. And give them a call today. Fudge ‘busy’ or what if I’m being a ‘burden’? These times will show you who is true; who, Masha Allah, is with you.

“Show me all your flaws,

Show me your bear claws.” [T.A.]

You are strong. And strong does not really mean… emotionless. We’re human: even when we hide them, we have them. So, what to do about them, now?

Dip, turn. Fall; grow. Fall again; grow, even better. Your scars make perfect spaces, places, from which beautiful things will grow, Insha Allah, in due time. This burden is not too big for you.

You make people’s hearts smile, even if you do not know it today. Someone — maybe, even, the man who lives three doors down from you — would stop eating, for months, if he were to learn of your death. And do you think your brother would ever be able to sleep, comfortably, ever again? What about when your scent begins to fade, from your clothes? When people have to walk through the rest of their lives, without a you, and your voice, and your laughter, and your mind? You occupy spaces, in this world, which nobody else could ever fill; you are not only an academic/professional ‘occupation’. You are everything that you are; paradoxical. Beyond belief, and you escape definition. And if you ever need reminding of why you absolutely must stay, then: call home.

Be still and know //

that I’m with you
Be still and know that I am here
Be still and know that I’m with you
Be still, be still and know

When darkness comes upon you
And covers you with fear and shame
Be still and know that I’m with you
And I will say your name

If terror falls upon your bed
And sleep no longer comes
Remember all the words I said,

Be still, be still and know [I am.]

And when you go through the valley
And shadow comes down from the hill
If morning never comes to be
Be still, be still, be still.

If you forget the way to go
And lose where you came from
If no one is standing beside you:
Be still and know //

I am.

Be still and know that I’m with you
Be still and know //

I am.

[T.F., with references to Psalm 46:10 and 23:4.]

With Salaam, Sadia, 2021.

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