There is so much to share I almost don’t know where to start.
You see I have this secret.
When I wake up and feel like it might be a bad day or things might not turn out so great or run smoothly, I only have to think of my precious secret and suddenly I smile or even laugh with joy. (No I'm not preg!)
When people piss me off in the world I draw a deep breath and put things in perspective by remembering my secret. If someone praises me I always remember any goodness I do or am comes solely from Allah and at any moment He can change me into something else. One ill-intentioned action here, one bad action there, and I'd be slipping back into the chaos that engulfed my life as a teen. I can never allow myself to think I'm safe from the threshold or the brink of it. Always we all teeter on that edge, some closer than others. I'm hoping by this point in my life my actions and intentions have lead me to have a foot solidly implanted on the safe side. The side leading to Allah and severely away from Shaytan and his ilk.
Who you share your journey with in this world affects that position on the edge. The Prophet's (SAW) is correct 100% saying to the summarized effect: "Be careful who you are friends with, the bad will bring you down, the good will raise you higher."
I've struggled for years to find and keep friends. I take my job as a friend very seriously and have my deep loyalties. I try to be the one that does not bring their friend lower but only encourages them to the higher.
When I had moved away from my parents to another city my friends from the teenage years would come visit. But sometimes though I loved them dearly I felt their topics of conversation would bring me down in a religious way yet raise me in their general support of my life. They are good people and always accepted me and my changes in life. And they still do, Bless them for that. But I needed to be raised higher religiously.
I went to the masjids and tried making friends with the sisters in the community. Sadly the only one I really hooked up with was one sister also American Convert. She was going through a rough patch in life and when we met we would raise each other higher. I was there for her sudden marriage to my husband's close friend and there for the quick divorce that followed only months later as the cultures were incompatible. She moved in with me and we both would strive harder in Islam. Praying more and trying to find our calling. Poverty was eminent in this time of my life more than any other time. We were both struggling to pay rent and deal with this problem. She started turning to easy fixes while I maintained my high road. Looking back I can see where she started to fall but neither of us was clear seeing enough then to help prevent her. Sadly after I left America and she had re-married, she left Islam from lack of Community Support. It was a crushing blow to me. We had prayed together. We had fasted together. We had read Qur'an together. I felt I had failed her somehow. I should have seen the signs, but I was too wrapped up in the drama of my life then. And I will tell the truth that in those last months I was beginning to fall with her but I couldn't see that, I could feel it in the back of my heart but I didn't know what to do about it. I was trapped in it just like her. I only prayed for my swift release from the prison I was in.
In Lebanon things were very lonely at first. Until I got immersed in the "married to Lebanese" clubs. Meeting sisters who just like me came from all over the world and had embraced Islam and had fallen for the passionate Lebanese. We bonded and I was enthralled with the goodness they had to offer. Sisters so intent on bettering themselves. But there were too many sects. I had three different sets of friends from different sects and they all preferred not to be with the other groups. I was torn to choose one group over the others. How can a person do such a hard task as to WEIGH their friend's worth. I finally had to decide to stay mainly with the ones that lead me higher in Islam. Offered me the most knowledge and practiced with the most God-Fearing Sincerity. I still had the other friends though and would keep in contact and good spirits with them and every other friend I'd met in my life through emails or phone calls and visits and such.
My three closest friends were Swedish, Latvian, and Taiwanese. These three souls really helped broaden my knowledge and practice of Islam. The Latvian sister brought strength to my heart and taught me never to apologize for being myself. The Swedish sister taught me the joy of continual struggle despite the demands of life. She always gave me excellent advice on how to get through those prickly situations and stay on top Islamically. My Taiwanese friend showed me the real spirit of generosity in not only helping me if I was ever in real trouble but by always having her house open to those who searched for the truth. She always gave her time and energy and never accepted base excuses for laxity. She one of the few in life who always pushed me to do more than the obligatory and always strive for the greater reward of adding extra Sunnah and also learning Arabic to read Qur'an.
I miss them so deeply. May Allah reward them and their goodness.
Coming to UAE was also very lonely. I was pregnant and was dealing with the most difficult part of my life I had ever faced. I had no one to go to, no one to help me, to sound things out with. Friends in USA couldn't help me more than the basic support because religiously they weren't at the same level of understanding. But at least that much support helped me when i felt totally alone that at least there was someone out in the world besides my family that cared I was in pain. Friends came slowly and in stages here.
The first ones through a link from Lebanon who knew sisters here and had given me their numbers. Each one of these new friends proved a special role in my life May Allah Bless them 100 fold for their goodness.
Then I met more and more and word would spread and new contacts were made. Perhaps I made a few wrong moves and wore my heart on my sleeve a little too much and thus was backstabbed a bit but I came out of it wiser. Open your mouth and heart to the sincere few who take the time and energy to stay in your life. At this point I gained my next closest friend from America with Euro roots that I blogged about here in 2009.
We were swept in a wave of friendship, love, and companionship. She never accepted excuses for me to be less than the best Muslim I could possibly be. And I supported her emotionally through her troubles and offered the most sincere and loving and loyal advice I could. And as many long term friends do we've had a few fights that were ironed out eventually.
But after I moved to Dubai we've drifted. Phone calls and texts becoming fewer. I wish her the best in life for her and her family wherever she is or whatever she is doing now. She also gave me a strength in Islam that has lasted me into this new stage. She helped guide my prayers on track and always reminded me of gaining those moments of extra blessings when they are in their time. Like the time between Asr and Maghrib on Friday. My other friend very close to me from Botswana(white African) I met through work in Al-Ain was a recent convert and her freshness to Islam and her need of companionship and knowledge allowed me for once to be the one helping another. To help guide her through those sticky issue that pop up first for a convert. I tried to raise her higher and her excitement for Islam was a breath of fresh air. She hadn't been in it long enough to know the realities of the Muslim world and hadn't yet seen the Sects or the Muslim Hypocrites that tend to sour one's faith a little bit. She reminded me Islam IS ONE.
Also she taught me how easy it is to give your time and energy to a good cause. In Ramadan she decided to make trays of food to send to the masjid to feed the hungry men there waiting for Iftar. She was in connection with others doing the same and Bless her a 1000 fold for her willingness not to just think but to DO. She showed me the power of ACTION. Now she's in charge of the Sister's Network I set up in AL-Ain to keep the sisters there close and always in contact with one another.
Also both of these close friends in Al-Ain taught me the importance of self-improvement through reading religious books besides the Qur'an. The first friend I mentioned gave me a book called DONT BE SAD (and a few other wonderful ones) but this book DONT BE SAD helped me really get over my depression for good and not return to that energy sucking maw of darkness. May Allah Bless her and her family a 1000 fold. The second friend gave me two special gifts that have changed me. The second gift I have not finished gaining from yet as the 10 Book Set of English Translated- Tafsir Ibn Kathir. I have started with the first book and I am slowly pouring through it to gain every pearl I can. Tafsir, for those that don’t know, is an EXPLINATION of the HOLY QUR'AN. So it not just translated the Quran but tells you what each part of every Suraha and Ayah means and how and why it was revealed. I KNOW this will lift me higher in the future and I'll keep you informed on that.
Also just before I moved to Dubai she gave me a very interesting book called "THE BOOK OF THE END". It looked very interesting as it showed on the cover and on the telling on the back that this book featured Hadith about the End of Times, how the world will end and the major and minor signs of the day of judgement. I put it aside as I started my life here in Dubai. But one important Day I picked it up and began to read. And I couldn't put it down. Every waking moment free in my life I spent reading this and gaining SO MUCH from its pages. It not ONLY about the signs leading up to the Day of Judgment; It is complete Hadith and Qur'an about the entire process for creation until we are either safely in Jannah enjoying its blessing or wretchedly in Hell tormented in our pain from our own wrong-doings. May Allah give us the first and keep us far from the last. Amin. It goes in depth in order from Current time to the End of this World and the stages there-in, the Mahdi, the Dajjal, the return of Prophet 'Isa (Jesus), all the way til the end and destruction of our world. The moment it tells about how only Allah will be left after ordering Death to Kill itself is amazing. It just brings you to reality of Allah's Power. Then it takes you deep (and sometimes repetitively as many hadith overlap each other) into the Resurrection. It describes in intimate detail how we will progress from one stage to another. It reveals WHY we are given so much information in the Qur'an about other cultures of the past, as we Muslims will testify to the truth of their sins based on our knowledge of what Allah has given us in the Qur'an. It's amazing how everything overlaps and touches each other despite the differences of TIME. Because Allah is not bound by Time as it is His Creation. It goes into the area of what becomes to those who lived only for the frivolities of the world never seeking anything higher than the high they could get from the nearest vodka bottle or heroine. It tells the fate of those who transgress Allah's limits and oppress those around them. And to counteract this it tell the Blessings of those who strived hard and earned Allah's pleasure. Next it takes you deep into the world of Hell and what happens there and why certain people get certain punishments. Then to counteract that as you really start to have a deep fear of not being good enough to get away from that fate. It goes into the supreme pleasures of Heaven Jannah where everything will be delightful and your heart just fills with so much happiness you can no longer see even the smoke from the fire of Hell. I have never laughed with so much joy than when i read this Book. It cleanses your heart. My prayer while reading this book was so deep and full of closeness to Allah.
I have never felt so spiritually pure and high before. It brought me with acute awareness my limited time on this earth to earn my place in Jannah like nothing else has ever done.
Years ago I made a Promise to Allah. While reading this book it made me realize I only have to ASK whatever I want from Allah and He will grant it in this life or give it to me in the next if it would not be good for me now. One of the ways I learned this was through the hadith telling about when the Prophet would tell about jannah Companions would speak up and say to the effect, Wall I be of those with you there in Jannah? And the Prophet would reply, Yes, you will be of those. Then he continued to others in the Hadith after the first had left the scene that had others asked before those first Companions they would have received the good news. THEY ONLY HAD TO OPEN THEIR MOUTH AND SPEAK UP. To have that Hope! To have that desire that they will succeed enough to ASK for it. Some people don’t ask Allah for things thinking He will never give it to them. Well how will you expect anything in this world if you don’t ask for it? True Allah KNOWS our utmost hearts and knows already what we need and don’t. But part of receiving his bounty is trusting he WILL give it to you and that you only need to ASK him for it. And accepting the answer he will give you about it. Allah has so much Mercy and Compassion and Forgiveness beyond our comprehension. A Million fold than a mother gives Mercy to her tender baby.
So I asked.
I realized my True Calling in the this world. It took me this book to see past this worldly life and what was really important. To move past the squabbles and petty arguments and fights of everyday existence and do something Better. Release that Anger into Forgiveness. Not let it get attached to you in your Heart. Learn to forgive and take the upper road.
So I have my secret now of what my future will hold. I have ASKED MY ALL-MIGHTY ALLAH. And He in His Mercy has begun to give me. He let my heart be purified. He has turned my face from pettiness (well as much as a Human can try to manage to get away from it). He has shown me a glimmer of my Future. It is up to me to do the work that will get me there. I have to keep being good, Keep striving Hard in my goals. AND I have to help others on the same path.
He has not given me this task to hold by myself as it is a weighty and immense task. I asked for such a high thing and I have to remain humble and straight-forward enough to complete it. He has given me new friends.
The other special friend is even more dear to me because she IS Muslim, from Indian/Arab origins. She is not like my other Muslim friends. They were all more conservative. She is definitely liberal in Practice BUT her heart is pure Gold. She has this inner beauty and charisma that shines like bright rays of sunlight. So powerful it is like looking directly at the sun, it hurts the intensity but it makes you so warm. She has so much energy to do good and to become good. She encourages it from others. She spreads her hope around her like a fuzzy blanket in the winter storm. Whatever good I have she magnifies it. And her goodness inspires me to reach higher and higher. She shows me that even though we are all struggling sinners in this life we have to keep trying to reach beyond ourselves.
She is the backbone to supporting me and my future secret plans. Without her I'd be almost all alone with my dreams, besides my Husband who is of course encouraging me. She makes it seem like it is just around the next bend and I had better hold onto it tightly. SubhanAllah how Allah gives us just the right friends at just the right time.
I have lent her my copy of the Book of the End to help her lift higher too. I really recommend you ALL read it. You can get it from Magrudy's if in UAE, order from any branch, or INTL: HERE or HERE or HERE or HERE
So here I am and my life feels FULL. I was torn last month in November wanting to get started on my secret but wanting to complete NaNoWriMo. I managed to finish it and excelled at reaching 51,000 words by the end of the month on my new story "A Lira for Lebanon"! YAY! I didn't think I could do it as at first I was writing by hand and that was slow but finally I gave in three weeks after hand working to type on the computer and managed to make it all up right on the last day.
My job is going well at Magrudy's. My family is healthy and happy. My marriage is strong and unified. We managed to FINALLY find a Nanny after so many tries the past few months. I hope she stays and it works out. She is also the key to my life working in synch, without her it will fall apart again. I treat her as a close friend and a part of my family.
Today I took the kids, our Nanny and my Christian friend to the Burj Al-Arab beach on my day off.
It was soooo peaceful and lovely. Just the absolute prefect moment in life where everything feels right and everything is going right and the worries of tomorrow will wait.
Tomorrow we will add the Indian friend to the group and go to the park. I can imagine a perfect moment ahead. Insha'Allah.
I have my secret. It warms and purifies my heart.
It reminds me to keep: