by Meena Malik
Teacher: “Where have you been this whole time?”
I think, subhan’Allah, where have I been? It’s taken me so long to get here.
Me: “Subhan’Allah. I don’t know.”
I fight back tears as my throat swells. I was frozen, standing there like an awkward giant among miniature desks in the 3rd grade classroom of a local masjid. It felt as though the universe paused; as though the air had stopped flowing. Even the paper animals attached to yarn, hanging from the ceiling, had stopped twirling in the AC’s currents.
I stood there – unable to breathe, unable to blink – thinking, where have I been this whole time? My life flashed before my eyes. No, I was not dying, but that night, just like every Tuesday night for the past three months, was a piece of the process in which I was being reborn. And even the paper animals, just like my thoughts, swung back around the other way as my life rewound itself to the very beginning.
I couldn’t believe that I actually grew up to be the type of person that voluntarily attends tajweed classes. I could not believe that the young girl who struggled to learn and read the Qur’an, the same one who found it a tedious and unpleasant task, would ten years later change her view completely, instead finding it still extremely difficult but now increasingly exhilarating and worthwhile. I couldn’t believe that the girl who faked being sick in order to skip her Qur’an and Sunday School classes would grow up into the young woman who would hide being sick so her parents wouldn’t force her to stay home and rest. I couldn’t believe that the girl who spent years in band and choir, the girl who was so addicted to music, would grow to give all that up for the sake of Allah and become addicted to the Qur’an.
The young woman I am today is a direct effect of the little girl I was yesterday, and I failed to comprehend how my starting point foreshadowed the point I am at right now. I realized that Allah, the Best of all Planners, works in the most mysterious ways and that despite the challenging situations we are in, the best outcome develops from them. We can reflect on our roots and compare who we were before to who we are now. This reflection and comparison of past and present humbles us and makes us evermore thankful that Allah chose us to be guided out of the darkness and into His light.
In the ninety-third chapter of the Holy Qur’an, Surat Ad-Dhuha (The Morning Hours), Allah the Most Compassionate consoles the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.
“Your Lord (O Muhammad) has neither forsaken you nor hates you” (93:3-4).
Allah then gives him the courage to keep striving through his difficulties, and reminds him that the material world is transitory.
“And indeed the Hereafter is better for you than the present (life of this world). And verily, your Lord will give you (all good) so that you shall be well-pleased” (93:4-5).
In verses 6 through 8, Allah reminds the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ about his childhood and where he came from, reminding him that he was an orphan, the most vulnerable in society, and now years later the Final Prophet of God. Allah is telling His Prophet ﷺ that He has always been there to take care of him.
In the same way, Allah has always been there to take care of us.
I realized that all the struggles, trials, and wrongs that seemed to have darkened my life were actually blessings in disguise and part of my life’s plan. Although I failed to understand them at the time and even felt resentful for having been put through such hardships (may Allah forgive me), the catastrophes and problems later turned out to be hurdles I had cleared. These trials came with lessons that turned out to be crucial to the development of my faith. I never imagined that all the music and singing I had learned would later be the reason I learned how to read the Qur’an.
And even though sometimes we don’t clear the hurdles all the way, our scrapes and bruises, are what we rise from and what we carry with us. “Voyage to your Lord, even if bruised and broken.” (ibn Abbad) The scars that I’ve picked up along the way, subhan’Allah, are the exact lessons that have made me realize my blessings. May Allah forgive us all for our shortcomings and continue to bless us and protect us.
I also realized that Allah blesses us in so many ways that we cannot even imagine, and I learned the importance of continuously thanking Him for the blessings. Only He is the reason for our success and our progress, and just as swiftly as His blessings come into our lives, they can leave us. May Allah take us from the earth in our highest state of iman (faith) and grant us the highest places in heaven with the prophets (peace and blessings of Allah be upon them.)
My tajweed class was more than just a place to enhance my ability to recite the Qur’an, it gave me a new sense of living that I’ve never enjoyed before – a life with my new companion, the Holy Qur’an. Abdullah ibn Masood (ra) said, “Look for your heart in three places: when listening to the Qur’an, when seeking knowledge (of Allah) and when in privacy. If you cannot find it in these places, then ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He) to bless you with a heart, for indeed you have no heart.” Finally, the days have come where I can enjoy not only listening to the Qur’an, but reading it as well. And insha’Allah, by the Will of Allah, soon I will also learn to understand the Qur’an.
I ask that Allah makes us amongst those who live and die with the love of the Qur’an in our hearts, and that our love for the Words of Allah manifests in our actions.
The last verse of Surat Ad-Dhuha says:
“And proclaim the Grace of your Lord!” (93:11)