Of Forgiveness, Prayer & Gratitude
Know that this post was pre-written 5 days ago while I was taking a break from packing for Arafat. As I’m writing this, I don’t know how the next 4 days will be. All I know is: it will be very hectic, all my soc med apps will be deleted and I’ll have very little sleep. I don’t know how the very peak of Hajj will affect me but I pray and I have confidence Allāh will protect me and grant me ease. Amiin.
I stumbled upon the above quote on the internet yesterday and it felt so relevant to me in that moment. It’s beautiful take on how to view every stage of our lives.
Notice the 3 ways Angelou said we should view our past, future and present:
I want to share with you how those 3 things have been relevant to me in my Hajj experience so far.
In the 2 days after I finished my Umrah (the lesser pilgrimage) upon reaching Mecca, my heart was restless. I kept thinking back on my tawaf (circumambulation) and sa’ee (walking back and forth from the hills of Safa and Marwa) and wondered if they were done correctly or if I had accidentally done something which invalidated it.
For 2 whole days, I was paranoid. I kept thinking: ‘Ya Allāh, did I do it right?? Do I’ve to do it again? I want this Hajj to be accepted, I need to be 10000% sure it was done right.’
I went back and forth trying to pick apart what I did during Umrah that would have invalidated it and required me to do it again.
I had to calm my anxiety so I had a discussion with the ustazah of our jemaah, I told her my concerns and why I thought my Umrah was not valid and I fear I may have to do it again.
Ustazah A was calm and she told me that one of women’s biggest jihad (inner struggle) is doubt. She said that women will always doubt the validity of their ibadah (worship) and even themselves, more than men do, as men in general tend to be more confident and less nit-picky.
The ustaz of our jemaah testified to that too, as most concerns and inquiries he receives are from women. He shared with us cases of women contacting him again years after their Hajj to tell him (while crying, no less) how they think their Hajj was not done properly.
Ustazah A told me if I were to do a second Umrah to satisfy my uneasiness, it would not stop there. I would then feel the need to perform a third Umrah, so on and so forth, because once we feed our doubts, it multiplies and grows.
She advised me that doubt is a huge test for me this Hajj and I must fight it because doubt comes from our nafs (ego) and the whispers of shaytan.
It all then made so much sense.
Anxiety, when you think about it, is built upon many doubts. It’s built upon our lack of confidence in not only how we handle things, but in the bigger picture, how Allāh handles our affairs.
We tend to have all these negative preconceptions of how something will affect us before it even happens and we suffer twice as much as a result.
The ego and doubt
It probably makes little sense to hear that our ego (nafs) causes us to doubt ourselves or Allāh because it is always associated with over-confidence, but since the ego always puts us at the centre of the universe, it makes us feel independent from Allāh’s Will.
An example of this is we do not rely on Him or seek His Guidance when we are going through hardship. Instead, we solely rely on our own efforts and go into a cycle of frustration when we keep failing, not realising that failure or success is in Allāh’s Will and there is no such thing as an event in our lives that is ultimately bad even if that’s only what our brain can understand.
shaytan and doubt
Shaytan, is cunning, he also sows seeds of doubt into our hearts. As a result, we are never satisfied with our worship or anything really. He makes us uneasy with ourselves and strains on our relationship with Allāh—where there should be confidence, he slowly changes it into doubt.
From these little seeds of doubts, trees of even bigger doubts will grow. Does Allāh not love me? Has Allāh not forgiven me? Am I a hopeless case?
Self-doubt And a lack of forgiveness
In forgiveness, lies acceptance, and in acceptance, lies self-compassion.
I believe I have self-doubt due to my need to do things to a high, unrealistic standard in order to feel worthy of acceptance, whether that acceptance is from my own self or from Allāh.
It can be a struggle sometimes for me to be pleased with myself during what I perceive to be my lowest or not-so-great moments. I’m always inclined to see what I’ve done poorly instead of acknowledging that I’m still work-in-progress just like everyone else and I don’t have to be amazing at everything all the time.
No moment is ever so bad that we should deny ourselves self-compassion. We can learn to appreciate the past, no matter how many mistakes we have committed, and forgive ourselves for it.
When we view our own past with forgiveness, whether it was in the distant or fairly recent past, we allow ourselves to be in the present wholeheartedly.
The whole point of Hajj is to increase the quality and quantity of our ibadah. Over here, we are always reminded by our ustaz and ustazah to think positively of Allāh, especially when we are facing hardship.
We have to have yaqin (confidence) that He will accept our worship, He will grant our doas, forgive our sins and ease our journey every step of the way. Even if there’s difficulty on our path, we must remain confident that everything will be OK for He handles all things meticulously.
Having the mental endurance to perform Hajj is impossible without being prayerful and the same goes for every situation in life.
I read somewhere that gratitude anchors us to the present therefore when we are grateful, only then can we live mindfully instead of being stuck in the past or always anticipating the future.
Everyday that I’m here in Mecca, I cannot help but feel grateful to Allāh for allowing me to step foot here. On the day that I’m writing this, I’m already preparing for my journey to Arafat tomorrow, yet another Holy site.
I can’t help but thank Him tearfully for calling my brothers and I to this journey because if it wasn’t for His Call we would not have come here to fulfil this religious obligation.
But here we are now, together as siblings, answering His Call. I couldn’t be more grateful that I’m on this journey of a lifetime with my own flesh and blood, at this stage in my life. Alhamdulillah for everything in my life which I thought went so drastically wrong because it led me here, and here feels right in every. single. way.
Alhamdullilah. Alhamdulillah. Alhamdullilah. Allahu akbar.