I stared at the spot with tears in my eyes! This was 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!
The ladies around me in the mosque were all busy worshipping their lord in the best way possible. Engrossed in their Salaah, consumed by their desire to please Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala, some performed prolonged ruk’u while others fell in sujud for what seemed like ages. Some sat on the ground making du’a for minutes while others asked their Creator to bless them with His bounties, while they lowered themselves in the humblest sujud possible. 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 sujud, the nearness of Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala 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 sujud! How desperate I was to imagine myself closer to Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala, to lower myself in the sujud, 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 on the last few steps of the staircase in my home and got an injured left foot, 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 Planter 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 orthopedic 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 Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala. 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’s 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 Subhanhu Wa Ta’ala, 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 Radia Allahu anhu, that the Prophet Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam 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 from how long? I didn’t know her story, the intensity of her disability to fall in sujud and the desperation that she felt in her heart to pray properly. I only could empathize 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 Salaah 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-Hajj:77]
And he said “Allah u Akbar” after the Ruk’u. 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 at, for the past few minutes. There was suddenly enough energy in my body to drop down in sajda, and just sufficient strength to lift up again, Subhan’Allah! I had felt the sajda after 4 and half years! My sobbing became louder and louder, my body started shivering as I cried and recited Allah u Akbar, to stand up on my fours, for the next set of rakah. Alhamdulillah that day I completed all four sujud in complete prostration. The incompleteness, lacking, and deficiency of Ibaadah, 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 doesn’t 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 would 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 Subhanhu Wa Ta’ala in solitude and in salaah. 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 has 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 Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam 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]
Subhan’Allah I made du’a for my sister and Allah heard the Angels! Allah o Akbar!
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 ibaadah 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 realize the worth of the ‘taken for granted’ blessings of Allah Subhanhu Wa Ta’ala. This lesson has been learned 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]