poem: prayer for a person with MS

I came across the piece below on a discussion board (HERE), I could not track down the source. I know little about Mr. White except that he is a priest in Baghdad. Human suffering is all one and the same no matter who you are and no matter what you do. The same fears, hopes, worries, and pains afflict us all equally.

Prayer for a person with MS
by Canon Andrew White
Lord they tell me I have MS and at times I am afraid;
my future, my family, my ambitions are all full of uncertainties,
my body will not function as it used to and I no longer feel in control;
at times, though surrounded by masses, I feel so alone.
In my fear will you enable me to trust you,
in my vulnerability may I know your power
and in my loneliness will you assure me of your presence.

Qur’anic Gems 2: An Insulting Word

Al-Baqarah: 104 “O you who believe, do not say (to the messenger) ‘raa’ina’ but rather say ‘undhurna’ (make us understand), and hear. And for the disbelievers is a painful punishment.”

 

The Muslims used to call upon the Prophet with the statement: “Raa’ina” which was a respectful way of calling him that implied, “care for us.” However, some of his detractors would twist these words and call out to him, “O Muhammad, Raeena” which had a rude meaning. So, the Muslims were instructed to leave this word and choose a new term: “undhurna”—“look to us, make us understand”.

Gem 1, The Diamond: Look at the beautiful Tarbiyah (training) of Allah for the believers. They were instructed to leave words of ambiguous meaning for a term that would be clearly understood.  We are asked to hold ourselves to a high standard of character. If a type of speech could be ill-construed by others, it is from our akhlaaq that we leave that speech for one that is clear and unambiguous.

Furthermore, if we are to leave such words of unclear meaning, then how much more important is it to leave speech that is openly crude and ill?*

Gem 2, The Sapphire: This ayah gives us a model of giving people alternatives—when we command someone, be it a child or student for example, to leave off an action, let us not leave them be, but give them an alternative.* So when a child is doing undesirable behavior, instead of merely telling them “no” we can provide them with an alternative activity. Nature abhors a vacuum—if we leave that vacuum there without guidance as to how to fill it, we are negligent in our Tarbiyah. With da’wah this applies as well—rather than only telling people what is haraam, we should show them the myriad things that are halaal for them.*

Gem 3, The Amethyst: Look at who is doing the wrong action to begin with: The non-Muslim detractors around the blessed Prophet. And now look who Allah commands to change their behavior: the believers.

Rather than retaliating and responding to others’ ill behavior, it is more befitting for the Muslim to change her own conduct.* We are proactive people, let us not sit around waiting for others to change—if others are doing something incorrect, let us look to what we can do to rectify the situation.

 

* Points with an asterisk are taken from the Tafseer lessons of Dr. Farhat Hashmi “Taleem-ul-Qur’an” found here. The remaining points are from myself.

Qur’anic Gem #1: Be Like the Squirrel

Al-Baqarah: 110 “And whatsoever you put forth of good for yourselves, you shall find it with Allah. Indeed, Allah is all-seeing over what you do.”

When is hoarding a virtue? When it comes to good deeds. Be like the squirrel, who takes every opportunity to tuck away food stores that it may come later and find it stored and ready for him to feast upon. Every good deed that we do, no matter how small, will be noted and tucked away for us as a reward in the hereafter. And what better reward can there be but the reward that is with Allah?

One.

One year has come and gone as in an instant.

It seemed like a few months ago, when, after a day of what seemed like false-alarm random labor pain that I would go to the hospital’s birthing center “just in case” and have Z in the shower half an hour after arriving.

It seems like just yesterday that I realized with a start that she was born on a Saturday, just like her brother, and three days after her 37th week, just like her brother.

It seems like mere seconds ago that I caught her, saw my husband’s teary, exited face saying, “we have a daughter, we have a daughter…” and then walked myself over to lay down with her, never letting her go for a second, Siraj by my side, as we just looked at her, the nurse still laughing that we two had “delivered” this baby before the midwife could even arrive.

Those after-birth moments are pure magic–even the nurse was so exited and congratulatory that my wishes were fulfilled, set long before the birth, that I catch her, keep her close, and attached to the cord as long as we wished.

Z.M.S.

She is named after her father’s paternal grandmother, a woman I wish I could have met, whom I know my husband loved so dearly, and she him, that I could say nothing but “yes, of course” when he proposed we name our first daughter after her.

She–the fact that she was a girl–made the horribly long, nauseating, and sometimes bedrest-bound days of her pregnancy so much more worth it.

Her birthday and my life with MS share the same timeframe, because I first started having symptoms shortly after her birth. I feel sorry for her that her early months were clouded by my own health issues, but it led to her having such a strong relationship with her father. Every time I climbed into an MRI tube or went to physical therapy, there she would be, playing with her baba. Even though she wouldn’t take a bottle and so he could not feed her, they bonded so closely and so well. A blessing in disguise from the lemons of life, indeed!

She was my comfort baby, along with her brother of course. When I would feel discouraged at my own health and well-being, when I would wonder what on earth was happening to me, I would just look at her, look at her brother and think–ah, but I have this!

IMG_7134She gives me strength, even as I will count my years with this disease by her years, it is a reminder of why I fight it every day. My mental battle is won when I look at her, look at her brother, and think, “I will be well for you two.”

I love the fact that as her early months passed, she became crazy over her brother. I love that spark of connection that exists between them two alone, and pray that it lasts like that forever.

I love that she has the best father a child could ask for, and the best brother a sister could ask for.

I love, I love, I love, and I thank Allah for the love we have, for it is what makes us human–“Whoever does not show mercy, shall not be shown mercy” (hadith).

I pray that we are blessed with a long life together, as a family, and that Allah brings us all closer to Him, and reunites us in Jannah, Aameen.

Qur’anic Gems Project

In an effort to help me review my Tafseer lessons from my AlHuda Institute Taleem-ul-Qur’an course, I will–Insha’Allah, God willing–be posting short comments from the meanings of various verses in the Qur’an. I hope these points will also be of benefit to others. For those who are not familiar with the program, the Taleem-ul-Qur’an course is a course that takes the student through the whole Qur’an word-by-word, verse-by-verse. By the end of the course, one must be able to understand the Qur’an word-for-word as well as know the Arabic roots of each word. A general tafseer is also given of the verses.

One learns the connections between the various words and their ayat on the micro-level, and on a more macro-level, one learns the connections between the themes within each surah as well as the relationships between each of the surahs themselves. The course does not produce scholars, it’s goal is more humble and yet no less important–it is to help each student develop an intimate connection to the Qur’an, such that she understands it in its own language, and such that she understands the messages it contains for her as an individual.

I had met a few students of this course before joining myself, and each managed to convey this almost ethereal connection that they had developed to the Qur’an, and they had an incredibly humble feeling of transformation in their life after immersing themselves in the beauties of the Noble Book. They are the ones who encouraged me to begin on this journey of study, and I am utterly grateful to them for setting such a beautiful example. I can only hope that by passing on a few morsels of knowledge in writing here I am able to continue igniting the passion for knowledge, if only in one person.

where is my “me” time??

I am so disappointed… I get all of these fantastic words and phrases flying through my head, and my writer’s fingers just itch to put them forth, but here I am sitting past midnight and all I can do is groan about how I don’t get time to write.

It seems like by the time I do Abdullah’s surahs, feed the kids, eat myself, do my lessons, feed the kids (ad infinitum), and put them down to sleep, there’s not a damn minute left for me to just sit and “be.” Forget the creative juices when the ideas are swimming in my head and they don’t get a chance to see the light of day. There’s at least three pieces that have been floating around in my head, but haven’t made it to the page (or screen, if you will).

I wish I had the leisure to be like Jo March in Little Women, who, when the “writing fit” comes on, locks herself in her room to scribble like mad:

Every few weeks she would shut herself up in her room, put on her scribbling suit, and `fall into a vortex’, as she expressed it, writing away at her novel with all her heart and soul, for till that was finished she could find no peace. Her `scribbling suit’ consisted of a black woolen pinafore on which she could wipe her pen at will, and a cap of the same material, adorned with a cheerful red bow, into which she bundled her hair when the decks were cleared for action. This cap was a beacon to the inquiring eyes of her family, who during these periods kept their distance, merely popping in their heads semi-occasionally to ask, with interest, “Does genius burn, Jo?”

…She did not think herself a genius by any means, but when the writing fit came on, she gave herself up to it with entire abandon, and led a blissful life, unconscious of want, care, or bad weather, while she sat safe and happy in an imaginary world, full of friends almost as real and dear to her as any in the flesh. Sleep forsook her eyes, meals stood untasted, day and night were all too short to enjoy the happiness which blessed her only at such times, and made these hours worth living, even if they bore no other fruit.

I must be the only person mad enough to wish such a thing! When I do get my alone time I voraciously devour it, sitting up until late at night, knowing I will be bitterly regretting it when woken in the night by one of the kids, and in the early morning when I have to face the day’s chores yet again.

Writing is unbelievably cathartic–and narcissistic, if you will. It is about the self–what is important to me, enough that I twist the words just so to get them to jab at the point dear to me. It’s about taking the most intangible emotions and forcing them to take form on the page.

I must make that time, draw it out of the day’s limited hours, even if it is to only say, as I write here, that I wish I had the time to write!