On the evening of December 29, 2012, my knees finally gave way and I fell forward, bowing, head touching the cold, hard ground. Allah (SWT) knows best how long I stayed in that position, weeping, praising Him, making up for the lost times. This act of prostrating to Allah (SWT) was my confirmation and what I felt to be, my entrance into Islam. SubhanAllah, it was as though the past 22 years of my existence was leading up to this moment. My broken heart was made whole again. With every movement, my heart felt restored, returning to its original form, but only to ache once more as my forehead kissed the ground in peaceful submission. This ache was not like before, this was the final ache, the one that leads us back home, not with our heads hanging, but with our hearts singing and tears rolling down our faces from the overwhelming joy. Whatever heartache I experienced before was triumphed by this ultimate heartache, and what I feel, perhaps, to be the true heartache of our lives. To whom other than Allah (SWT) could we feel such gratitude?
From childhood to adulthood, suffering and pain and fear of suffering and pain has crept into our hearts in all shapes and forms, often consuming us so much that we don’t even know how to live our lives any more. I remember the moment in my childhood when it struck me that my parents would pass away one day. For months on end, I would fall asleep every night with tears dried to my face – I wept so much I would gasp for air. The remembrance of their death plagued my thoughts. I would even go so far as to plead with Allah (SWT) to let me die first so I would not have to suffer their loss. Astaghfirullah. I was a sensitive child. I still am, but these days, a different kind of remembrance stirs in this heart. And the remembrance of death does not so much fill me with grief any more than it does hope.
Five times a day we are blessed with the opportunity to give all our sorrows away and place them in the care of Allah Almighty, and in return, He (SWT) transforms our heartache. He gives us a different kind of heartache; it is an ache of longing to meet Him and receive a drop of His Rahmah (Mercy).
Some days I feel a deep despair from everything that is happening in our world. Some days it feels the Ummah is falling apart. But perhaps the Ummah has always carried this feeling, ever since the passing of our Beloved Prophet (SAW). But we have been left with the greatest gifts, among them being the five daily prayers. Instead of falling into despair by the tragedies we face in our lives, we may fall down in submission to Allah and simply praise Him and remember: “Surely the Hereafter is better for you than the present.” (Al-Duha:4)
That evening in December sealed the deal for me: Allah (SWT) is the One and only in this life that is real and the only One we can place our full trust and hope in. When we truly praise Him, we feel a private closeness to Him that is like nothing else in this world – there is a bitter sweetness such that we feel our heart is aching and our eyes are continuously welling up with tears – it is His sweet and fragrant breezes of Mercy that move us to tears. Every day in sujud, we may return to that place of serenity and sweetness. Allah (SWT) is the only One who can return this tranquility into our hearts; everything else causes our hearts to break and feel sad, but when our hearts ache out of love and fear of Allah (SWT), we are happy because truly, He is putting our heart back together for us.
O traveller on the road to Truth! May our hearts rejoice in this. May we gather together and celebrate this enormous blessing! Truly, Islam is like a gem that was dropped inside an ocean, and how blessed is the one to have found that gem. If it is held to the light, you may see it shine and reveal it’s true beauty, but if you keep it in darkness, who could ever delight in it?
I find myself there over and over again – head to the ground, humbled before my Lord, weeping tears of joy, quietly saying, “Alhamdulillah. Alhamdulillah. Alhamdulillah. Ya Rabb, thank you for guiding me.” After His love was planted in my heart,there was no turning back. I knew this meant challenges ahead, but my heart was no longer mine and I have never regretted this in the least.
Shabnam Bagheri is an Iranian-American who reverted to Islam in 2012. Every day, she strives to live gently upon the earth, preparing to meet with love at the end of her life. Shabnam likes nature, the sound of footsteps on a dirt road, the air bubbles in flatbread, the soft and cooing sound babies make, writing poetry and morning light.