Monday, January 2, 2012


As salaam alaikum,

Who knew? Who knew the oft-repeated phrase, a phrase some of us repeat more times than we do Fatiha in a day, would be one so difficult for so many of us to wrap our minds around.

I know I am one, and while by the nature of a journal I speak for myself, I know I am not alone. Insha'Allah. God-willing. Or, as my parents used to say in English, by God's grace. Some of us sprinkle our language with this phrase, some of us place it purposefully and thoughtfully, some of us omit it, incidentally or purposefully, but what does it mean?

I thought about this as I was riding home from my grandparents' place yesterday. My mother makes the weekly drive an hour north to visit my grandparents, who are aging and whose health is failing. My grandfather is malnourished and frail and my grandmother has very limited mobility and early stages of dementia. It's early because she has insight into everything as she begins to exhibit paranoia and short term memory loss. It's hard on the family, but especially on her children.

My mother and father were talking about how hard it was to pray so vigorously for her, daily, for years, and not see the fruits of this prayer. Why hasn't the dementia go away? I don't even want to believe, pronounce that this is God's will, my mother says.

But in her daily salat, and in her du'a, and in everything she does, I know because she raised me this way, she pronounces by God's grace, by the grace of God. That ever-present insha'Allah that we Muslims take care to observe, acknowledge,, why does she fear? It's in God's hands.

Because she struggles to fit into her mind why God wills her mother to fall into dementia that distresses my grandmother, my grandfather, their children and their spouses and the grandchildren and great-grandchildren who recognize what's happening.

But we were never promised understanding of all of the ways and wills of God in this existence.

It is sad to see my grandmother succumbing to dementia but at the same time I feel blessed that I have been able to exist a few more years with her, experience her all this time. She almost died in 2004, and this year marks 8 more years she's had with us that she's been able to live in the house. Times are hard and I have not yet experienced the pain of declining parents as my mother and aunts and uncles have, but from the first time I ever saw this strong woman cry (a few months ago) to hearing her talk about people who are not there that torment her, I cherish the fact that she is otherwise lucid and her long-term memory is in tact, and she can tell me stories from her life.

I'd hoped to help my grandmother write a story about my grandmother's life...insha'Allah...


There it goes again! So many of us struggle with this, Muslim and non-Muslim. When I went through my phase of deconstructing religion as I knew it and arriving back there again, I did contemplate, as many did, how God could exist in a world where so many terrible things happen to innocent people, from starvation, war, rape, natural disasters. I didn't ruminate on these long, however, because, like many, I selfishly oriented my belief in God around personal circumstance. While I credit my mother for raising me with a strong and organic belief in God early on, my faith in Him was something that was highly conditional...dependent on my own personal circumstance.

I had faith in God for everything but my own partnering. Marriage. Relationships. Whatever you want to call it, and I still struggle with that. Insha'Allah, I will be happily married...does that mean that maybe God will not will it?

While other women are praying that they will not have to be raped again, or lose their children again, or contract AIDS, or have to kill their female child, or have to sell their bodies again...insha'Allah.

Some of us are afraid to pronounce it lest we are disappointed. Some of us absolutely do not believe in it.

And I think it's human nature to always have some level of discomfort with it because, in the end, we cannot understand it. Even the angels ask (2:30).

Insha'Allah. God-willing. I say it all the time, but admittedly, I don't really know what it means.

It makes me feel a lot of things. It makes me feel hopeful and helpless, free and imprisoned, safe and precarious. It makes me excited and fearful, enlightened and lost.

It reminds me of B, a man who I loved and lost, who I miss relating to, who I miss sharing everything with, who I still struggle with tied hands to not contact, not email and tell him what's on my mind, what I've been going through, how I've been living, what I've been thinking. It reminds me of how it wasn't God's will for us to be together and how I felt that all along and ignored it and continued forward until things came to a head. It was never completely comfortable, my being with him, knowing he was not Muslim, knowing that the way he believed in God was very different from mine, but never imagining he would be so out of my life that I'd no longer have that person to share myself with, tell everything...because I was never that person to him. And I wish I could reflect and tell him that, but I can't. Insha'Allah, I'll be with one who fits better.

Insha'Allah. But I don't know.

And I cry sometimes over this silly thing because I don't know. Because I felt like I needed him, needed him so much, or needed someone like him so much, it just felt like such cruelty to be pulled away from it, but it's all God-willing.

And I can only imagine such trivial pain as compared to the pain of a mother who listens to the hungry cries of dying child. And it's all God-willing.

God-willing? "Verily, I know that which you do not know," He tells us (2:30).

For atheists, it's so hard to fit in their minds, they don't believe it. For Agnostics, they scrape the surface but prefer not to delve further than the possibility. For believers, it's still a struggle. It's an every day struggle, it's growth every day, it's reckoning every day, spending a little to buy a little piece of our fate every day as we live out this life, day by day, in absolute uncertainty but with faith in something, something that we'll awake the next day, that things will get better...

And as uncomfortable as insha'Allah is...I'm one of those people who prefer to believe in God by all 99 names, the only attributes that we can encarar, than in something out there, than in nothing but randomness. It's more comfortable for me.

So, insha'Allah I will be happily married to a man meant to be my life partner, insha'Allah my grandmother will find the peace we all pray she will find, and insha'Allah I will be alive to spend another day with my family together, and insha'Allah I'll wake for another day facing this life God has given me in the morning. masha'Allah, God has willed, I woke up this morning, and masha'Allah I've lived 26 years and 4 months, and masha'Allah I have a loving family, and masha'Allah I lived a love for a brief time that showed me what was possible...

...and too many things to fit in this reflection of an ill-conceived fear of what has not yet come to pass.

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