previous Ramadans, this year the holy month felt like a journey with my Rabb,
my inmost self, deeper into the arms of Mercy. Under the gentle guidance of the
Sustainer who is closer to me than the beating of my heart, I traveled through
time to wounded parts of myself and allowed this body to experience the tragedy
of unexpressed pain and emotion.
had been tucked away, sometimes for decades, came into conscious awareness and
flowed in rivers of tears through my eyes and in piercing moans resonating
through my vocal cords. I allowed untended parts of me to feel the softness and
tenderness of touch, of being held, nurtured, fed and, most of all, loved just
as they are. Together with the compassionate attention of my Rabb, I witnessed
feelings of pain, neglect and abuse and gave them permission to be expressed
drawn to share one of these experiences to illustrate how I came during the
month of Ramadan to more deeply understand the Quranic words in Surah Al-Araf
(The Faculty of Discernment) about the Mercy of Allah overspreading everything
(Quran 7.156), wrath included.
of the final nights in Ramadan, my Rabb took me on a journey to a memory of
when I was no more than three or four. It was the middle of the night and this
little me was standing in front of the window in the living room, sobbing
uncontrollably. Her pyjamas were wet, as was the floor beneath her. She had peed
on herself because she was too scared to go into the bathroom alone. She was
convinced there was a monster lurking outside the bathroom window. Her parents
had tried to reassure her it was just a tree. By day, even to her it appeared
as a tree. But inevitably it was a monster again by nightfall.?? On the night
etched in my memory, she awoke to find no one at home to take her to the
bathroom. Mom and dad had rushed her sick older sister to the hospital. She was
alone with the monster, and terrified.
I’d seen this little girl in my mind’s eye with an expression of horror on her
face as though she was separate from me. On this Ramadan night, though, the
magnitude of her agony passed through this body. I felt her unmet needs
viscerally. And as the feelings unfolded, the realization sunk in of how a
series of traumas like this one in my childhood had influenced the perception
that I wasn’t worthy of being nurtured and cared for. This core belief
manifested in my life in many destructive ways.
Then, in the
midst of the tears and grief that gripped my body from all these simultaneous
realizations, an image appeared in my mind’s eye. Little Daliah was still there
on the living room floor, only now a light emanated from her breast and filled
the entire room. I understood this to be the light of the Prophet Muhammad,
peace and blessings be upon him. This light lifted her off the floor and into
the arms of Love. She felt fed, loved, nurtured and seen by this Love. The
memory dissolved into Unending Beauty; another crevice of my psyche cleared out
and transported from darkness into Light. As the room that carried such torment
became radiant and empty, a deeper understanding settled into my being of why
the Quran refers to Muhammad as a Mercy for all the worlds (Quran 21.107).
then took me somewhere I wasn’t expecting: to a memory that pre-dated my birth.
In my mind’s eye, I found myself travelling with this light to the Egyptian
coastline, along the Suez Canal. It was the late 1950s or early 1960s. My mother
was drowning in the water and she, like me, was terrified. I’d heard stories of
this day from her, but here in my mind’s eye, the details were not what
mattered. As we hovered above her, the light of that beloved one lifted her
from the sea, whispering softly that she had nothing to fear. She was held in
the eternal arms of Love, it said. An inherited sense of feeling inundated and
drowned by events in life, a sensation that I’d unconsciously carried in my
bones, perceptibly loosened its grip on my body.
Ramadan, this journeying continued in different ways, to different wounds—some
were traumas from my childhood or adult years, others were deeply painful
ancestral ones passed on through the feminine bloodline that are harder to
articulate. Every time, I experienced a combination of grief and grace dancing
together in each wounded place. Every time, the Quranic promise, with every
difficulty comes ease (94.5–6), came alive within my skin at the same moment.
The marriage of these two opposing sensations worked like alchemy, leaving my
mind a little emptier of compulsive thoughts and my vision clearer to see
Reality. I was a little less anxious than I was before. A little more embodied.
And most importantly, more able to bow, moment by moment, to my Rabb.
more fully in an experiential way how our Rabb is our very own personal
Educator guiding our hearts with individually designed curricula leading to
spiritual maturity. When I take the hand of this gentle teacher who has always
resided in my innermost heart, She guides me to the highest truth of my
humanness. Always step by step, little by little, as one of my beloved teachers
gently reminds us.
myself being pulled toward the truth that Allah is a dimension we all have
access to through our hearts; a Cosmic Intelligence longing to be known,
longing to flow into the world through us, when our small, limited selves step
out of the way. Not because they are forced to out of criticism, judgement or
denial—that’s what leads to spiritual bypassing. But because they are loved
enough to naturally bring down the defences they’d understandably erected out
of fear. And in doing so, merge into the Light their protective shields had
was so empty of his Nafs, or ego, that he embodied this knowing completely, as
evidenced in intimate prayers to his Rabb described in this piece by Mahmoud
Mostafa, including this supplication:
“O my God, for You I bow down, and in You I
place my faith, and unto You I submit. ?To You have I bowed my hearing, my
sight, my brain, my bones, and my nerves.”
approached the end of the month of fasting, and the night of Laylatul Qadr when
the prophet first received his revelation, the clarity of Mercy’s consistent
flow intensified in my heart. I’d grown exhausted and weary from all the
emotional processing. While lying awake in my bed in the early morning, I had a
vision of being shown the depths of the pain yet to be processed. It felt
bottomless and overwhelming. I sensed I could be swallowed by the grief if I
were to fall in and bear it all at once.
very moment, a wave of tranquility washed over me. It was as though I was
transported from the pit of the fire into the garden, to use Quranic language.
The experience evoked a sense of bathing in a shallow stream, the sun on my
face, the sound of the water gliding over the rocks in my ears and a cool
breeze tickling my skin. I was aware of being enveloped in Mercy, inside and
viscerally that my Rabb was showing me a deeper meaning of the Quranic idea
that Mercy surpasses wrath. There is no ebb to Mercy. It flows and inundates us
all the time, although we aren’t always paying attention. There’s the Mercy of
the grief that lifts veils blocking my consciousness, guiding me ever nearer to
my Rabb. There’s the Mercy of the veils that remain that protect me from
bearing more than I can handle (Quran 2.286).
magnitude of this limitless Mercy is something my small, limited self cannot
comprehend. But what I have grasped and savoured through my spiritual senses is
sweeter than any of the false and conditioned beliefs constructed by my Nafs to
artificially protect me. Just knowing this somehow makes it easier to overcome
the fear of leaping into the unknown, surrendering to the pull of Mercy.
poetry is rich in descriptions of the all-encompassing Mercy of the Beloved.
Here, though, it feels appropriate to give the parting word to Yunus Emre, the
13th century Turkish shepherd whose mystical poetry and folk music is a balm
that softens hardened hearts to this day. The lyrics of this particular Ilahi,
Ashkin Aldi (The Ways of Love), are ones I love to sing, and its melody is one
I enjoy to play on my ney. They embody for me how, as we traverse the path of
Love hand in hand with our Rabb, with ever greater honesty and sincerity,
Merciful Love ultimately does overspread everything:
The more I learn the ways of Love,
the more this anxious self dissolves.
Wherever I look, you’re all I see.
It’s you within, it’s you I need.
Your hands have taken me from myself,
your voice has sung within my soul.
Your melody has filled this reed.
Our lives are shaped by loving hands,
yet we attach our own demands.
In these two worlds I’m incomplete.
It’s you I love, it’s you I need.
after Yunus Emre, Threshold Society)
Camille Adams. The Light of Dawn: Daily Readings from the Holy Qur'a¯n.