By Jennah Adam
January 8, 2017
I love him already,
how could this be?
Murmurs and nodding.
In the momentary hush, my breath caught at this discovery. I stood trembling as
all around me, people with half-shut eyes continued to murmur in low, almost
inaudible voices. A call was raised and the congregation bowed simultaneously.
As I joined in the bowing, I felt this love expand in my heart, like a rose
unfurling its secrets in the sunlight. I felt it rise as I rose, eager in the
exaltation of its beauty, and with the warmth of youthful rapture, raise a
blush in my face till my eyes glistened with unshed tears.
I love him already, I
The air in the hall
seemed to listen as another call was raised. I voiced the same words along with
everyone else, but my breath seemed to struggle to make its way around this
glowing thing that had bloomed between my ribs. The words of the prayer formed
on my lips seemingly on their own accord, so consumed was my mind by this new
discovery; so overcome was I by the greatness of such a feeling.
“God is greater,” we
all said together, and lifted our hands in prayer.
What warmth this
realization has given me! What comfort, just as resentment was wrapping its
cold fingers around my fragile hopes. What newfound energies and joy! Had my
Lord given me a sign of my future love to come? All praise be to Him, has He
answered my prayers at last? I prayed for this everyday, several times a day,
for more years than I would like to remember. Had He listened to even my
unspoken aches formed wordless by pain? I bowed and thanked Him with a
“God listens to those
who praise him,” came the cry, after I and the rest of the congregation rose.
My mind was
distracted; this I knew. I tried steering it back to my prayer but it clung to
this new discovery as a drowning man clings to land. So supreme had reason
reigned over me, that it was too blinded by its might to see that my rebellious
heart had this secret hidden behind its red curtains all along, disguised as a
dream. So cruel and unrelenting was my reason, that if it had discovered this
love at any time save for prayer, it would have crushed it with the merciless grip
of cynicism until love’s rosy countenance paled to whiteness.
But here, now, while
my mind was lulled into the languid respite of meditation, the repressed,
seldom heard voice of my heart rose in song.
It sung of loneliness;
of cold hands and downcast eyes; of long days that merged into longer nights;
of memorized wallpaper patterns and unbroken silences. It sung of longing; of
having a universe of love to offer but few to receive it; of wanting someone
real and tangible to disrupt an endless cycle of reiterated thoughts; of
needing a companion to embrace the warm and overflowing love I have that
streams with no destination. It sung of love; of the only kind of love it was
missing, the kind that it needed despite having other, familiar ones; of fire;
of warmth; of the combustion of everything stale and unused to the fervid
burning of rebirth.
It sang for him. For
the man I dreamt of but did not know. For the spouse who would one day hold my
aching, injured heart and listen to its song. It sang and yearned and cried,
calling, with a silent voice, for the one whose company I sometimes felt but
never experienced. I let my heart sing and joined its song with my prayers. I
prayed for light, guidance, love… and for him. I prayed for his love and his
companionship, and while I did, I felt my heart swell with ardency and,
breathless, I thought, I love him already.
“By the morning
brightness,” intoned the resounding voice at the front of the congregation.
I love him? I do.
“By the night when it
I love him, but where
is he? Why have I been waiting for him all my life with no sign of his
existence save the love in my heart? Why is he still, after so many years of
earnestly praying and hoping and trying to change my circumstances, just a
figment of my imagination? Is this my fate – my punishment? Has my Lord decreed
for me a life of fruitless suffering because of my negligence to His Majesty?
“Your Lord has neither
forsaken you nor is He displeased with you.”
Then why are my
prayers not answered? Why has this one prayer, this most important thing for
me, not been fulfilled? I have suffered so much in this life, but I bore with
it in the hopes that things would get better.
“And the Hereafter
shall be better for you than this world.”
What more could I
want? Yet, there was still the longing for something in this world. I still
wanted to experience the lawful pleasures of this life my Lord has so
generously created for us. Would I only ever experience love in the afterlife?
Would I ever actually meet the love I have been waiting for since I could dream
my own dreams? If so, when?
“Soon your Lord will
give you that with which you will be pleased.”
Why is it taking so
long? Why am I holding onto this hope after so many years? Is it foolish of me
to expect my prayers to be answered simply because I asked? My prayers never
seem to be answered when I want them to. I have prayed for so many things
consistently for years and never saw their realization.
“Did He not find you
an orphan, and shelter you?”
My stomach twisted
with shame. Not only was I negligent, I was incredibly ungrateful. Yes, my Lord
sheltered me, even when I did not pray for it. He provided me with a canopy of
protection when I did not care to ask for it. More than the blessings He has
bestowed upon me, innumerable and unfathomable, are the evils he has kept away
“Did He not find you
astray, and guide you?”
I was searching all my
life for meaning and purpose, and found it with my Lord. I forgot how ignorant
and lost I used to be. I forgot how, even when I thought I knew everything, my
Lord lead me to more knowledge that both corrected my ignorance and brought me
to humility and wisdom.
“Did He not find you
needy, and enrich you?”
Everything in my life
is a blessing. Everything beautiful and good is from Him. I am blessed, every
day – every second – with things I know of and things beyond my knowledge. It
would be supremely selfish of me to ask for more, yet… I do. I cannot help but
pity myself for not having the one major thing that is important in my life. I
do not know why my heart cannot be satisfied with worshipping my Lord in
solitude. What is wrong with me? Is this a terrible defect of my human fallacy?
My Lord, how do I find happiness in my unhappiness? How do I connect my heart
to the love it yearns for?
“So, as for the
orphan, do not oppress him.”
I cannot possibly
mistreat one who is in the same boat as I. I was once a lost child in need of
shelter, and my Lord gave me a home. I was, and perhaps still am, a dependent,
but my Lord spared me the indignity of relying solely on human generosity and
became for me The Best of Providers.
“And as for the
beggar, do not chide him.”
The beggar and I are
both dependent on one Sustainer. We both supplicate, consciously or
unconsciously, to the Most Generous and are looked after by Him. What I give to
the needy is not from me but from Him, for none of what I posses is mine, and
I, too, am equally in need of my Guardian’s blessings.
These verses resonate
with me, but I struggle to understand why. Something in them stirs my soul, and
makes the veil of its invisibility finer. Might this be the key to my
happiness? It is, after all, a reminder to be more compassionate, and every act
of compassion brings me closer to my Lord. The closer I draw to my Beloved, the
brighter the joy radiates in my heart, and consequently, the more compassionate
But after finding
peace and happiness, what do I do then? Do I spread it? How?
“And as for your
Lord’s blessing, proclaim it!”
All praise and thanks
belong to God. This then, is the way out of my depression, and the way to help
others out of theirs. First I must have faith that my Lord is on my side and
has not forsaken me, that He will reward me soon with that which would bring me
joy. At the same time I need to remember that the reward of the afterlife is
far greater. I cannot forget his blessings when I lapse into self-pity, and
show compassion and kindness to those whose needs differ from mine. And to keep
the spirit of hope and joy alive in my heart and in the hearts of those who cry
for love, I must speak of my Lord’s blessings, often and with confidence.
I am so grateful, but
I still want –
“God is greater.”
So grateful, but my
simultaneously. Amidst the murmurs, I chided myself for being so distracted. I
was supposed to be focusing on worship, but instead I was preoccupied by this
discovery of my future love to come. This should have felt like polytheism, but
it did not. Why did it not? I lowered my head in prostration, to acknowledge
God’s superiority, with this love on my mind.
“Glory be to my Lord,
the Most High, and I praise Him.”
Why does this not feel
like a detraction from my Master’s worship? I should have been feeling guilt
for thinking of another’s love besides His. I rose.
“I seek the
forgiveness of God, and I repent unto Him.”
And prostrated again.
When I rose for the last time, aglow with this warm, radiant love, I finally
understood. It was a realization that calmed me, rather than the
misunderstanding that agitated me earlier. I smiled through my tears and
concluded the prayer.
It is not his love I
felt every time I prayed for love, but His.
(All quotes in bold
are from the Quranic chapter “Surat Ad-Dhuha”)
Jennah Adam is an aspiring artist and novelist. She
lives a quiet life with her family in the American suburbs accompanied by her
fantasies, which are many and vivid.