This was the unachievable for me; the insurmountable. This was the place where I belonged, yet it was so unreachable. This was my real destination, yet it was so distant from me. I could see it, but not touch it. I could long for it, but not attain it. I stared at the spot with tears in my eyes.
The ladies around me in the mosque were all busy worshipping their lord in the best way possible. Engrossed in their salah, consumed by their desire to please Allah (SWT), some performed prolonged rukoo’ while others fell in sujood for what seemed like ages. Some sat on the ground making du’a for several minutes while others asked their Creator to bless them with His bounties. All the while, I kept staring at the spot, right in front of the chair on which I sat and prayed, wondering what wrong had I done to not be able to feel the sweetness of sujood, the nearness of Allah (SWT) and the desperate expression of my gratitude and needs, by dropping down in prostration, which people around me did so easily, readily and happily.
Tears rolled down my cheeks, and before I realized I was sobbing like a baby. How badly I wanted to fall on my knees, right into sujood! How desperate I was to imagine myself closer to Allah (SWT), to lower myself in the sujood, so I could rise in status in His sight! Only my Allah knew the utter desperation and mix of emotions that surrounded me at that point in time.
And how could one imagine anyone else to understand one’s plight and despair…. to empathize with one’s hopelessness and helplessness? To apprehend one’s desire to please his/her Lord, but the Lord Himself?
It’s my fourth year since I am fighting chronic Arthritis of joints. My hands and knees were affected badly by the disease. So much so, that I forgot the feel of what it means to pray on the floor, let alone perform proper prostration. Last year, I slipped from the last few steps of the staircase in my home, injuring left foot, which was later diagnosed as Achilles Tendonitis. This made the movements of my feet even more restricted. Even after a series of injections, physiotherapy and various kinds of oral medications, my tendonitis worsened. Moreover, around March this year I was diagnosed with Plantar Fasciitis, a kind of arthritis that has made putting my feet on the floor almost impossible. From the moment that I am out of bed I wear special slippers and orthopaedic shoes outside, or else I can’t walk!
So where was hope? It was still there. Yes, very much there! Amidst all the heartbreak and pain, there was immense hope and deep faith in Allah (SWT). I knew He couldn’t just disown me. I knew He would forgive me. I believed that this was yet another test that I had to pass. I had to sustain the aching within my heart and the longing of my limbs to give in to the call of my Lord, along with my tongue’s enunciation of my faith and mere actions that I did with my lower body, while sitting on the chair and praying. There is this sense of incompleteness, although alhamdulillah I have a complete body. There’s this sense of deficiency in faith, although alhamdulillah my faith is stronger now, than any point in my life before. There’s this missing sense of complete surrendering to Allah (SWT), when By Allah, I have never in my life before felt so completely submissive and immersed in love with my Lord, alhamdulillah!
And while my tears wet my face and my sobbing increased to loud crying, I covered my face with both my hands. The words of that Friday’s khutbah regarding the days of Dhul Hijjah reverberated in my ears: “Reported Ibn `Abbas (RA), that the Prophet (SAW) said, ‘There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these days’ (meaning the ten days of Dhul-Hijjah). They said, ‘Not even fighting Jihad in the way of Allah?’’ He replied, ‘Not even Jihad in the way of Allah; except for a man who goes out (for Jihad) with his self and his wealth, and he does not return with any of that.’” (Bukhari)
I felt a pat on my shoulder, from the lady sitting beside me as if she knew my pain, or maybe she didn’t, but she just wanted to console me for she had seen me crying ever since we had entered the masjid for the Friday sermon, till the end of it. I made du’a for her, without even looking at her, for Allah to ease her affairs. I was sure she must be going through the same pain as I and only Allah knows for how long. I didn’t know her story, the intensity of her disability to fall in sujood and the desperation that she felt in her heart to pray properly. I could only empathise with her, so I made sincere du’a for her. I was sure she wanted to make the best of these blessed days as well, as much as I did.
The next moment the khateeb called us to stand up for salah and straighten our rows. While still sobbing, I stood in prayer. He recited part of Surah Hajj, in a beautiful, mesmerizing tone. Since he had briefed the meaning of this surah and its significance in the sermon, it suddenly held more meaning for the crowd: ‘O you who believe! Bow down, and prostrate yourselves, and worship your Lord and do good that you may be successful.” (Al-Haj :77)
And as he said “Allah u Akbar” after the rak’ah, I felt a sudden surge to fall down on my knees, although I was aware of the disability that I fought day in and day out. There was this urgency of doing so, and there I fell on my knees … right on the spot that I had been staring it, for the past few minutes. There was suddenly enough energy in my body to drop down in sujood, and just sufficient strength to lift up again, subhan Allah! I had felt the sujood after four and half years! My sobbing became louder and louder, my body started shivering as I cried and recited “Allahu Akbar,” to stand up for the next set of rakah. Alhamdulillah that day I completed all four sujood in complete prostration. The incompleteness, lacking and deficiency of ‘ibadah, that had overpowered me for so long, suddenly changed into a feeling of relaxation, relieve and completeness. No words can explain the feelings I felt that day.
Just a few lessons that I drew for myself, from this significantly important incident in my life are:
Allah does not abandon anyone
True, He never does! It’s always a test. You have to just keep calm, believe in Him and have patience. Insha Allah He will reward you for your perseverance; sooner or later!
Allah knows what no one else does
He surely does! He knows your intention, your desperation, your pain, your agony, your longing and your plight. No one else will ever understand you without you speaking to them, but He is the One, our Creator. He understands our silence and words alike. People may forget to be respectful and non-judging to those who pray in adapted ways, such as seated because of one’s physical weakness or disability, but Allah is not judgmental. So don’t feel like He doesn’t know your feelings.
Yes, please! Do not give up on your faith. Your faith is what helps you through tough times. Your faith is what keeps you talking to Him (SWT) in solitude and in salah. Your faith is what gives you hope of Allah’s unseen mercy. Your faith is what makes you who you are – a Muslim! A servant who believes entirely and totally in not just being Allah’s slave, but also Him being your Master. Hence you do as He directs you to.
Yes, the key is to make du’a; for yourself and for others around you. Everyone is fighting his or her own battle. Each one of us have our share of problems. So don’t think your dua’s will go in vain. Keep asking! Beg, cry, become like a stubborn child who asks and asks, and never stops. The parent does give in; sooner or later. If not, the parents get you something better. How then can Allah not accept your du’a? Didn’t Allah accept my du’a?
The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, “The supplication of a Muslim for his brother in his absence will certainly be answered. Every time he makes a supplication for good for his brother, the angel appointed for this particular task says: `Ameen! May it be for you, too’.” (Muslim)
Please don’t stop believing in miracles. Miracles do happen, and they happen to people like you and me! Normal people – ordinary, sinful, heart-broken, shattered, disappointed; but only if we believe in the power of the All-Powerful and if we expect the Mercy of the Most Merciful to pour down upon us. Something extremely unthinkable can suddenly become the reality of time and one can only be in awe of the Master Planner above!
Lastly, Learn the Lesson
Alhamdulillah e Katheeran, I found the lost sweetness in the tender, loving care of my Rabb! I found myself coming out of the dark dungeon of self-pity that I thought I was trapped in. Believe you me, this sweetness is sweeter than any of my acts of ‘ibadah before. Our Master Planner knows how to bring you back to Him, on all fours, with complete heart and soul. Perhaps this deprivation was extremely necessary to make me realise the worth of ‘taken for granted’ blessings of Allah (SWT). This lesson has been learnt the hard way; nevertheless it is the most effective way, for it is from my Rabb!
“So which of the favors of your Lord would you deny?” (Ar-Rahman :38)
A teacher by profession, an MBA by degree and a student of religion, Khudaija Nagaria found refuge and happiness writing, using her passion for serving Islam. Being a freelancer she writes for different magazines and forums. So far her articles and poems have been published in prestigious magazines such as Dawn, Hiba, Muslimaat, Aaila and Young Muslimah Magazine, and websites such as Moments of Perfect Clarity, Quran Reflections and Muslim Moms. Khudaija also served as contributing editor and marketing manager for Muslimaat Magazine from January 2014 to January 2015. She is an active member of Muslimah Writers Alliance (MWA). She prays her writing be a means of Sadaqa e Jaariyah for her deceased parents.