My last trip to Pakistan was an emotional roller coaster. I came back with a lot of questions in my mind. But what lied at the heart of all my questions was the one question very basic to my faith: what is Allah teaching me?
Ever since me and my husband have started living the expat life, I feel I have realized the value of having elders with me. Elders will guide you and protect you because they have seen the world in a very clear light, and they will always look out for you without even asking. So when we started living independently, the first fear was: who will look out for us? May be it was the prayers of our parents that despite being so far away from them, Allah always taught us things and surprisingly they were the things that we took for granted being in the protective care of our parents. We developed a means to stay cautious of every step and we learnt to be content with whatever Allah decided to give us and what He decided to take away.
But this visit was different. It felt as if all my notions of a safe life were broken and I was once again left to wonder what Allah was trying to teach me. I knew it was the calm before a (good) storm. The Teacher was silent while I was at my wits end, breaking my heart over the utter silence. It was a very difficult time for me emotionally as I felt that this silence meant something big. Living alone, all this time, my Only Lord, my Beloved, my Constant was silent with me and I was unable to decipher this silence. How many times I cried on my prayer mat for Him to heal me and even though there was no question He was listening, I still remained restless. I knew it was my own limited knowledge, my immature intellect that I was unable to hear what Allah was saying. And yet, I started asking for wisdom and for the heart that sees and hears Him. Then I waited. Patiently. Sure enough, the answer came.
On a typical day when I woke up clueless as the last few days, I started my question, but this time, not with frustration but with a sincerity to empty my cup so it may be filled. Like they say, if your cup is already full, there is no room for something new to learn. But if you want to learn, come with an empty cup. In our case, a humble heart that knows it knows nothing.
We were just starting Surah Fateha those days in my Quran class and the teacher was explaining the tafseer of the ayat, “Alhumdullilah e Rabb il Aalameen”. That first ayat of the Quran set everything into perspective. It is a well known fact that Quran will speak to each of its readers according to what they need, and I experienced it too. Just understanding one word in that first ayat of the Quran answered all my questions and it felt I have no more questions to ask; instead I only have so much to be thankful for.
This ayat mentions Allah as Rabb. The word Rabb means master. If He is the master then that makes us His slaves.
Being a slave, how can I feel entitled to things? A slave can only be happy on the mercy his master shows. He cannot question or ask. Same is our case. Allah is our Rabb. He decides what he wants for us but He is a master like no other. He is Rahmaan and Raheem. He will only give us what is good for us and if he withholds something from us, it is part of His Supreme knowledge.
This is something we all know already, don’t we? My takeaway knowledge from this word was since He is my Rabb and I am the abd , the slave, He will do as He pleases. I cannot know or pretend to know what Allah is doing. I cannot do a good deed and expect Allah to respond by giving me in return what I wanted. There are no deals with Allah, aauzo billah! I finally understood what He was teaching me; He had knocked me down, and broken all my notions of what I thought I understood so I realized I knew nothing. He had knocked me down so that I was in the perfect position to bow down to Him. And He knocked me down instead of giving me what I wanted so that I may correct myself rather than I charge forward aimlessly in my wrong thinking of how Allah responds. It is Allah’s ultimate mercy when He reforms us, rather than leading us astray, left to be fed on by a ruthless ego. P
In the end, I just want to add that very often in life, we feel Allah is silent and that we don’t know which way to go. But Allah never abandons us. He takes us to crossroads so we may know ourselves and Him better. These crossroads come as a gift. We say Allah is silent in this life. But if we try to hear, if we try really hard, Allah is the one speaking most clearly to us Alhumdullilah. If only we try, if only we truly want to hear. He never abandons, never leaves. Alhumdullilah.