I’m writing today knowing that there is heaviness in many people’s hearts, not just about Christmas being cancelled, or 2020, but about so much beyond.
To be honest, although the months and years are obvious markers of the movement of time, I feel we should not get too fixated about measuring life against them. I say that only because it can lead to an even greater sense of depression. Like others, I have my own share of burdens and worries. I wouldn’t be human if I said I was immune to all the drudgery going on around me.
However, I want to continue to make plans and set myself goals even despite the misery out there. It may be that I don’t live long enough to see many (or any) of them through. That is not a cue for sympathy from others; it is simply a stark reality. How much time we have in this world is an indeterminable truth and my aim is to fit as much goodness as I can into it. I also want to relish those things which Allah has made available to me if only I choose to find them with not just my eyes.
In my last post, I alluded to the art of ‘seeing with the soul’ and I hope I continue to do this for however long or short my life is. Seeing with the eyes is a merely superficial vista on the world. It is like marvelling at the iceberg without understanding there is a wondrous yet invisible monolith below the surface. I like to believe that I am not a superficial person which is why, till today, I do not vie for material gains that serve no purpose other than to poison the ego.
It also explains why I made the choices I did in my past. The most significant of those was the person I chose to marry. At the time we married, he did not fulfil any material promises of a comfortable life. But I was looking not just with my eyes. To use the cliché expression, I was ‘soul-searching’ and found someone who helped nourish the things I believed would take me on a spiritual flight – and I was not disappointed, Alhamdulillah.
Twenty-two years since and I have now learnt to fly solo. I am reminded of Surah Mulk (Chapter 67), my favourite Surah of the Quran. I know many Muslims have their favourite chapter and Surah Mulk is the one that clinches it for me. It encompasses so much of what I understand my faith asks of me and how Allah wishes us to perceive Him. There is one particular ayah (verse) which has me completely in awe. It is as follows:
أَوَلَمْ يَرَوْا۟ إِلَى ٱلطَّيْرِ فَوْقَهُمْ صَـٰٓفَّـٰتٍۢ وَيَقْبِضْنَ ۚ مَا يُمْسِكُهُنَّ إِلَّا ٱلرَّحْمَـٰنُ ۚ إِنَّهُۥ بِكُلِّ شَىْءٍۭ بَصِيرٌ
(Surah Mulk – 67:19) Do they not see the birds above them with wings outspread and [sometimes] folded in? None holds them [aloft] except the Most Merciful. Indeed, He is, of all things, Seeing.
The powerful imagery that is conjured up in my mind, of a bird as it swoops, dives, soars and flies, is simply indescribable. I liken my own recent experience of ‘flying solo’ to that of a bird whose own taking to the skies is a direct result of the workings of our Creator. Who else can make the bold claim of supporting birds in flight? Maybe my mind is that of a simpleton when I would rather believe it to be one which is in awe of complex things. However, nature provides many insights into the fascination I have with the wonders Allah has placed on this Earth for us to remember and praise Him.
This past year, we have been forced to be tamed by a belligerent virus. We have returned to a humbler way of life. We have had to succumb to Mother Nature in a big way. Though it has created great havoc in our personal lives, there have been some positive outcomes and Earth has had some respite from the human pillaging of its natural resources. I hope we have all had the chance to take stock and rethink our roles in this. I am a strong believer in understanding Allah through the natural world. It is here we will never fail to find Him. To escape into nature is to find Allah.