How I Am Learning To Be More Patient

I had always believed there was no element of ‘patience’ in me. ‘I am born like this. It’s in my genetics.’ This was my mindset and the arguments I gave when someone told me to be more patient. I believed I would never be able to become more composed, calmer and more patient.

But then I turned to Allah for help and He helped. And Alhamdulillah I am witnessing my own transformation from a person on the verge of a violent form of depression to someone who is more in control of herself.

So how did things turn around exactly?

The main changing point in my life was the chance to learn Seerat-un-Nabi SAW, the life of Prophet Muhammad SAW. Being brought up in a religious family and then being taught in an Islamic school, I wasn’t ignorant at all. But before this, things just never clicked and never affected me the way they have now. Alhamdulillah.

One of the things that I have learnt in these Seerat-un-Nabi SAW classes is that patience is a Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad SAW. This is something I didn’t know before. When talking about Sunnah, we hear a lot of things: miswak, etiquettes of eating, etiquettes of drinking, Sunnah of wearing shoes, etc. But we rarely see anyone talking about the Sunnah of patience.

For thirteen years, our beloved Prophet Muhammad SAW endured difficulties, torture, torment, and taunts from the disbelievers in Makkah. His companions RA endured the same. That period of thirteen years before emigration to Madina was a very difficult time for the Muslims of Makkah. We cannot even imagine that and we cannot even compare our meager problems with the problems and difficulties they faced. And yet, what was the command of Allah SWT at that time?

SABAR. PATIENCE.

For thirteen years, the Muslims of Makkah were only advised to exercise patience. And nothing else. They were not even allowed to answer back. They were not even allowed to defend themselves.

While performing Tawaf around the Kaaba, our beloved Messenger of Allah SAW was taunted by the disbelievers of Makkah and was called upon abusively. Our Beloved Messenger of Allah SAW would only listen to them, continue his Tawaf and not even answer back. The disbelievers tormented him in every way possible. And yet the only command at that time was to exercise patience.

That is when I started thinking: do my problems even compare to what my Beloved Prophet SAW faced during those thirteen years of his life? He endured all that for what reason… because he wanted to teach us the art of patience. He endured all those difficulties so that we can look at his example and learn to be patient in life. By enduring everything himself, he became the exemplary role model of patience.

So is patience not a Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad SAW? Sadly, we limit the Sunnah of Messenger of Allah SAW in a very small circumference. And we rarely talk about patience in the context of being a sunnat.

Another thing that helped me was the verse from the Quran, “Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” Of course, I have known this verse all my life. But again, sometimes, by looking from a different perspective, things look completely different from what we have known before.

innallah-ma-assabireen1

Allah says in this verse that if we become patient, Allah is with us. Allah doesn’t say that we are with Him when we are patient. He doesn’t say that we get close to Allah when we are patient. Rather He says that He becomes close to us when we are patient. He is with the patient. There is a big difference in that. The Lord of the Worlds, the Master of everything becomes close to us when we become patient. What else do we need, really?

Knowing these two things, I have now begun to see every day as a new test for me. At the end of every day, I check myself:

Was I patient today?

Did I lose my temper?

Was I successful in controlling my anger?

When I score well, I feel positive about myself. And when I fail, I silently resolve to be a better person the next day.

Every difficult situation is an opportunity to groom myself, to follow the Sunnat of Messenger of Allah SAW, and have Allah come close to me.

May Allah ease all our difficulties and keep us with aafiat. Ameen.

The Road To Happiness And Contentment…

Happiness. Satisfaction. Inner peace. These are some power keywords that drive all of us to do things and achieve more in life.  On the other hand, unhappiness, dissatisfaction and lack of sukoon are some common woes everywhere.

If I go back a year and look at what my criteria of happiness was – it was this:

  • Go for a vacation
  • Become a web developer and programmer
  • Have $$$$ in earnings.

If you are a frequent vacation goer, you would argue and say ‘vacations make me happy!’ Well, I am not saying they don’t make you happy. They do. But once you are done with taking pictures and uploading them on Facebook, it pretty much ends there. My father always says ‘being happy is more about telling others how happy you are than being actually happy.’

(if you are lucky, the effects would last a bit longer)

So, given all this emptiness everywhere, you wonder if happiness is just an illusionary emotion, relative to a person’s perceptions. Is it really like a mirage that looks like water but when you get there, it disappears and appears to be farther away?

Well, not really. Happiness, contentment and inner peace are very much real and can be achieved. The problem is: we are just not following the correct route that leads to happiness.

Let me ask you. If you are feeling hungry and you drink water, would you be able to satisfy your hunger? If you are thirsty and you keep eating more and more food, would you be able to quench your thirst? If you have a sore throat and you take the medicine for stomach problems, will it cure your problem?

No, we use our common sense and look for the right solution to every problem. Sadly, we don’t do the same when it comes to discontentment and unhappiness, the common problems of this age.

But fourteen hundred years back, Allah knew that a time would come when people, despite having all blessings and physical comforts, will whine about being unhappy and discontent. That’s why He said it in the Quran:

2ah5u1e

Ala Bizikrillahi Tatmainnal Quloob

“Truly, only through the remembrance of Allah do hearts find peace.” [13: 28]

This verse indicates two things: Firstly, happiness, contentment and peace are related to the heart and secondly, the only way you can satisfy your heart is through the remembrance of Allah.

This verse diagnoses the problem of discontentment by saying that the problem lies in the heart. That is precisely where we go wrong. We misdiagnose the problem and start looking for its solution in materialism.

A person owning an Alto thinks he would be happier if he owned a Corolla. A person owning a Corolla thinks he would be happier if he owned a Mercedes. A rich lady thinks she would be happier if she started working while a middle class lady thinks she would be happier if she could just relax and still be rich.

What they don’t realize is that all of these bring physical comforts. You might become more comfortable but you can’t get inner peace with these material things. Happiness and peace are problems of the heart, which cannot be solved with physical comforts.

So then, how do we treat the heart? Again, look at the verse above. In a single verse, you find the diagnosis as well as the treatment. What a beauty!

It clearly says the treatment is only in the remembrance of Allah. Period.

Just stumbled across this great Urdu saying…

466b686fc5bac9d9bef93aab08c75e6b

Translated as:

The end of every pleasure is vexation except remembrance of Allah.

Just try it. Results guaranteed.

The Science of Meditation and Muraqaba

I had become used to the shock and disgust on people’s faces when they found I had adopted content writing as a professional career. For me, it was not something you do when you want to refill your wallet or when you have some extra time on your hands –it was something I did as a full time career (until of course, Maulana Tariq Jameel kicked in his wisdom and said that a Mom’s full time career should be her kids).

Anyway the question is, what kept me going in this sometimes boring field of work for more than 7 years? Apart from the consistently lighter wallet obviously, it was the thirst for knowledge. In content writing, you are assigned different topics, things you have never heard about, and that’s when you get that chance to expand your knowledge. Instead of getting annoyed at those never-heard-of-topics, Alhamdulillah I viewed them as an opportunity to expand my knowledge.

So meditation was something I studied several years back while working on an assignment. It was always a topic of discussion when we talked about psychological problems – stress relief, behavioral disorders, etc. There are even apps designed especially for meditation purposes. You select the time you want to meditate and the app plays some track for you for guided meditation.

And how do you do it? Basically, you sit somewhere comfortably, imagine some scenario in your mind and try to keep your attention and your mind focused on that scenario.  There are other techniques of meditation as well which have been introduced by different practitioners – yet, they all have the same benefits for the mind.

The benefits of meditation have created waves in the medical field. Hence, numerous researches have been conducted to find out the science behind it. Psychologists and practitioners have always sworn by its positive effects on the mind but researchers tried to find out whether there was some actual science behind it or were the positive effects only because of the time people spent relaxing.

Hence a recent Harvard study came forward with mind blowing findings. They studied a group of participants that engaged in meditation for 30 minutes every day for eight weeks. Researchers took magnetic resonance images of the participants prior to the study and then again after 8 weeks. On analysis of those images, they found that meditation had actually caused changes in the grey matter of the brain. The changes were seen in the areas that were related to learning, memory, self awareness, compassion, and introspection. (No wonder I feel positive and compassionate towards others)

Here is what a researcher at Harvard says about the findings. “Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day. This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing.”

Why am I writing about meditation today? To tell you the truth, I never gave much thought to this practice before – as in, never thought about doing it myself. But recently when I took bayt with Hazrat Shaikh Humayun Hanif Naqshbandi DB, he instructed me to do Muraqaba everyday as it is an important part of naqshbandi silsila.

When I learned how Muraqaba is done, I was surprised. It turned out Muraqaba is another name for meditation except that our focus is towards the point where the heart is located and our purpose is to do His zikr in our heart without any verbal movements. Our mouth is closed, eyes are closed, we are only sitting comfortably without having to count anything and yet we are doing zikr. That’s called Zikr-e-Qalbi. And my words simply cannot explain what a beautiful feeling it is.

It’s only been a week I have started engaging in Muraqaba. And Alhamdulillah and MashaAllah the positive effects have left me in awe. I am in awe of what Allah SWT’s name and His remembrance can do to our lives. The feeling is beyond everything. The peace you get from Allah SWT’S zikr is beyond everything you get from this world. Going out for dinner to a posh restaurant, wearing top-notch brands directly imported from America, or even buying a new luxury car – the happiness and peace you get from all these seem like a minor as compared to the happiness and peace you get with His qurb. May Allah SWT give all of us hidayat to stay on the right path and give us taufeeq to do his zikr. Ameen. SumAmeen.

!!!

And by the way, I wasn’t too surprised to find that meditation is also a part of Islam. It turns out, everything good that is proven by science was already taught to us by our Prophet SAW. There are many such instances when we blurt out “yaar ye tu hamaray Nabi SAW ne 1400 saal pehlay hi bata dia tha. Science ko ab pata chala hai.” 🙂

Why I Got Depressed

I am sharing this story today with the intention of helping all those fellows like me who are facing hard times in life. I know there are many souls out there who are struggling to find peace in their lives. In fact, that’s a majority. Today most people will agree on one thing that true happiness and sukoon are some things money cannot buy. You can go for a world tour but not be happy. You can wear expensive clothes but still have a turmoil of feelings and emotions going inside. Your bank balance may be good but the bebarkati in your income can upset you very much.

So… my story: Exactly one year back, I got depressed. I lost my job, my parents were away for umrah and I felt my world crumbling down. It wasn’t the first time I had lost a job. In the field I worked, companies opened and closed every day. So jobs were never forever. But the way I got depressed was something that happened for the first time.

I just got tired of everything. I got tired of my circumstances, I got tired of my work and I got tired of life in general. Although new jobs came easily, I couldn’t focus because of the thunderstorm going on inside. I used to cry uncontrollably while staring at blank screens of my computer. I sought help from friends and family. They kept suggesting new tactics to face the difficulties in my life. And I tried everything.

But nothing worked. Not even the fat blue pills prescribed by the psychiatrist. After a recent episode, the psychiatrist increased my dose. But this worried me. I thought maybe getting away to somewhere far for a few days will work. So I thought about staying with an old friend who lives in another city.

And then it occurred to me that I had not talked to that friend since a long time. So I went home and called her. She told me something no one else had told me in all this time while I was struggling with depression.

What she said wasn’t very philosophical. She simply told me that all this depression is because of our gunah and that I should consult a buzurg and have islahi taaluq with him so that he can guide me in the best way. It was simple and I may have heard those advices from other people but at that time and on that day, something clicked at its right place. It was like I had found the missing piece of the puzzle.

“Allah insaan ko besakun karta hai takay woh sukoon ki talab main Allah ko dhunday.” The Baba jee’s dialogue from Alif Allah and Insaan rang in my mind and I understood why I had been through all the pain for the last one year. Yes, it’s a little embarrassing that a TV drama inspired me but…

Today, Hazrat Shaikh Humayun Hanif DB with whom I have taken bayt also narrated the same thing in his islahi bayan. When Allah gives you any difficulty and makes your circumstances difficult, it is because He wants to get closer to you. Allah gives pain to a person, whom he loves very much, because He tries to nudge him out of gunah and bring Himself closer to him. “Jab dil toottay hain, halaat atay hain to Allah pak kuch Lena nahi chahta balkay dena chahta hai… Woh dil tor deta hai takay yeh dil ghaflat se baaz ajae.” Hazrat’s heart touching words strengthened my beliefs and further cleared the shadows in my thoughts.

Hazrat further stressed on this point, “Innallaha ma’as sabireen.” When a person accepts and exercises patience, Allah brings Himself closer to him. He doesn’t say that my banda gets closer to me. He says that I get closer to my banda. “Main apnay banday kay saath hota hun.” So essentially, we get the qurb of Allah when we do sabar. “Aur jab kisi ko Allah mil jae tu usay aur kia chahye.”

I have shared this story in a small attempt to inspire all those souls who are suffering from the pain I had been going through for a long time. Instead of complaining to Allah and being hopeless, think about it in a different way. Maybe Allah wants to bring Himself closer to you or maybe He is sending you messages to stop gunah and turn to him.

Here is the link of the islahi bayan of Hazrat Shaikh Humayun Hanif DB.