Sometimes, says Umm Raiyaan, it’s your own self that needs a good talking to!
You are a part of me and I am a part of you. It is utterly bizarre to think of you as someone separate, but I have come to the realisation that that is what I am obliged to do. You see, I now understand why it is that I seem to weaken in my faith time and time again. It is not because of my arch enemy, Iblis, and his offspring, but it is because of my own enemy within and I now know that that enemy is you.
People call you ‘nafs’ but I prefer to give you a name. Thus, I shall address you as Lola. So Lola, there is no need for introductions as we have been acquaintances for a considerable amount of time. You were blown into my body whilst I was within the womb of my mother. You have been calling me, whispering, trying to delude me into thinking that you are the best thing going! Desperately, you try to make me believe that you are the most significant aspect of my life and that nothing else really matters. You want to be satisfied in every sense. Hungry, you entice me to greedily eat more. Tired, you coax me into sleeping past the hours during which you know full well, that our Lord awaits for His servants at the lowest heaven. Bored, you persuade me to do fruitless acts that will make ‘you’ happy, make ‘you’ feel excited, great and fulfilled. And you do know what those things are as they were the same things that made you feel fantastic all those years ago.
‘We had a wonderful time, you and I’, you repeatedly tell me. Therefore, you strive to take me back to that time and create a barrier between myself and acts of worship that will distance me from those jahil memories.
You see, I know what you are trying to do. Years ago, after I embraced Islam you kept reminding me of those days when I ‘looked good’. You produced a movie of myself dancing the night away, ‘living it up!’ But I was strong back then. My Qu’ran, my adhkar and my dua put you right in your place Lola. And I could tell you were miserable and unhappy.
I know that you love me. Actually, you adore me and wish that I perceive you to be my one true beloved. Oh my gosh! That’s it! I’ve got it! I finally understand: This is why you create obstacles in my path; it infuriates you to know that I am trying to build a relationship with the Only True Beloved. You cannot bear to see me in love with someone else. You want me to love you, to only have room in my heart for you and only you. This is the reason I’ve been so tired lately, just when I’ve just made the intention to wake up for Qiyam-ul-layl. This is why my stomach has been yearning for food when I want to seek my Beloved’s love through the nawafil fasts.
It all makes sense now! You impregnate my mind with thoughts of others, because the remembrance of my Lord is the one act of worship you know will make me forget you. You take every opportunity you can! I remember the time sister R made a comment about my jilbab. And you told me, “Who does she think is?!” You created dissention in my heart towards her and then put your plan into action. Losing her friendship and sisterhood cut me deep! And through that you took me away from the remembrance of Allah I and filled my thoughts with her and you. How she had wronged ‘us’. So, again, you drugged me and I became addicted to your own tyranny.
But now it seems you have changed your game tactics Lola. Is it because you are older and think you are wiser? You no longer remind me of my past, but instead force me to mull over the future!
‘What will happen if your husband loses his job?’ ‘You never have enough money.’ ‘Tomorrow… Tomorrow… Tomorrow.’
Terrified in case I were to become one of the true believers who only worries about what she gives to Allah SWT today, you make me infatuated with the unknown. You know that if I were to think about today, I would pray my prayers as though they were my last. I would walk with humility. I would try and uphold the best of characters. But by consuming me with thoughts of the future, you make me lose myself.
Girl, have I got news for you! I’m ready. This is my jihad. Lola, I don’t love you. In fact I abhor you. I am trying to journey and you are preventing me from boarding the plane. But girl, I am going to board that plane and I am going to make the difficult voyage to my Lord. I know that this hurts you and pains you, but it has to end here. No more!
I left many of your ideals years ago and you have worked arduously to turn your ideals into my very own. You have succeeded too much and I cannot take it anymore. I will not allow you to take me away from my purpose. And that is why the fight shall commence. Every time you whisper to me, ‘There’s time. Don’t worry, you can memorise that ayah tomorrow’ I will emphatically pronounce, ‘No there isn’t. I will memorise it right now.’ Every time you insinuate that a sister is out to get me, I will make a special effort to be kind and generous to her. Every time you gladly inform me, ‘You are the best!’ I will rub dirt in my face and prostrate to Allah SWT, placing my bones in that very position to remind myself that it is He SWT who is the Greatest and that I am not even a speck of dust in comparison.
By the will of Allah SWT, I am going to undertake this journey. Although you have worked against me for so long, I realise that I need to take you with me because we are connected. But, Lola, I can only take you with me if you do one thing. It isn’t going to be easy but to tell you the truth, I am going to do my very best to help you. Lola, you need to submit. You need to prostrate yourself to the Lord of the Heavens and the Earth. If you want to truly experience love, by Him in whose hands is ‘us’, I cannot fulfil you with my love. It is only through being close to Him, loving Him and placing Him at the centre of our lives that you will be fully satisfied and complete. I won’t ask if you are ready because actually you don’t have a choice. It is time to submit Lola. So let us make the dua the Prophet S made:
“Oh Allah! Give me love of you, love of the people who love You, and love of every action which draws me nearer to Your love” (Tirmidhi).
Lola, when you join me in my aspiration to be beloved to my Lord, you and I will benefit in two ways. Firstly, you will experience a love like no other. Finally, instead of living a life wherein we struggle against each other, we can finally become one and enjoy a wonderful union of submission to Our creator both in this life and in the next. And insha Allah we will hear these words:
“(To the righteous soul it will be said): O soul, in (complete) rest and satisfaction, come back to your Lord, well pleased (yourself) and well-pleasing unto Him. Enter among my servants. Yes, enter into My heaven” (Al Fajr; 27-30).