Saturday, September 25, 2010

Dream with your eyes wide open

The time period for my optimal productivity is exactly three days. On the fourth day, both my body and brain go haywire - body wants to sleep till noon and brain wants to turn away from everything that involves its use. I discovered this yesterday - which was another 'fourth day'. Therefore, I have concluded that one week should contain four days, instead of seven. Three weekdays and one-day-weekend. I have also discovered one of the wisdoms behind the concept of Taqwa - to increase productivity.

Taqwa is a huge concept in Islam. But for the benefit of my readers, a short summary is: It is the simultaneous, balanced feeling and expression of love, hope and fear of God. I guess, this is one of the things that sets Islam apart from Christianity (correct me if I'm wrong, FG, I admit to knowing very little about your faith, even though we've been best friends for two years! :$). As far as I know - in Christianity, love of God and hope in His mercy is emphasised the most, when it comes to knowing who exactly God is. In Islam - The Quran mentions 99 qualities of God, and they are a mixture of qualities of love, hope, might, justice - the whole bunch! As a Muslim, we are asked to keep these in mind when we stand before God. In fact, when we do anything and everything.

The thing is, for the past few weeks, I have only been reminding myself of God's mercy and love. Yes, it helps me get up every morning. It keeps me from horrible thoughts and prevents me from leaving myself at my lowest points. However, what I have seen it, it wears out after a few days. I keep thinking, 'God will forgive me because He is the Most Merciful' and 'no matter what I do, God will love me because He loves His creations more than a mother loves her child' and 'God is Al-Mujib, the Answerer of Prayers, so I can ask for anything any time and He'll give it, so who cares if I slack off a little?' The problem is 'a little' turns into 'a whole day' which turns into a week. After the initial push, remembrance of Allah's mercy is not done in the correct way in my mind, and it causes me to procrastinate. 

However, fear without hope also causes problems. It makes me think that I cannot ever get out of my situation because if the All-Mighty does not help me, what power is left? Then, there is excessive worries, which results in procrastination again, because, if you believe that nothing can be done, then nothing is done. 

Therefore, as I have realised MANY times before (and then forgotten again), Islam provides the perfect balance. The scholar Ibn ul Qayyim al Jawziyyah expresses it beautifully: 

"The heart in its journey towards Allah, is like a bird whose head is love, and hope and fear are its two wings. When the head and the two wings are sound and healthy the flight of the bird is good, but when the head is cut off, it immediately dies, and when either or both wings are deficient, the bird cannot properly fly and may become victim of any hunter or snare. The righteous predecessors preferred to strengthen the wing of fear during good times when heedlessness is feared, and to strengthen the wing of hope at times of calamity and when near death.
Some have said that it is better to strengthen fear more than hope because when vain hopes overcome a person he is ruined. Others say that the best of situations is a complete balance of hope and fear with overwhelming love, for love is composite,while hope is a sharpener and fear a driver."

Of course, the perfect balance is extremely hard to achieve. But, reward is proportional to effort. I hope I remember.

Last wednesday, (second day of my optimal productive days) I was walking out of my optics lectures to go to the
prayer room, which is on the opposite side of our university. The amount of walking done at uni would have increased my fitness level long ago, if I regulated my food intake (and actually climbed up every step instead of trying to discover every lift available!). Anyway, being the coward little girl that I am, I decided to walk all the way to the prayer room.Yet, as soon as I stepped out, I saw a beautiful sight. A man was praying on the green grass, ignoring every other soul around him, and turning only to his Creator. It wasn't a carefully chosen spot, away from everyone's eyes. Neither were his moves constricted and self-conscious. The sun was falling on his long brown hair and beard. He finished the ritual and raised his hand to his Lord. It was so beautiful! So beautiful! I remained frozen in my spot for a few seconds. I do not know who it was, for all I know it could be an angel in human form. Or an illusion. It made me feel very ashamed. Even though I have prayed in open places, I lack the courage to do so at uni. I don't know why. But that person really did make me think twice. If I say I love the truth, why should I be afraid to express it?

Sometimes I feel like I am wasting the most beautiful years of my life. I should be doing something for the world, I should be helping to reduce poverty, I should be fighting for the rights of women, I should be travelling, I should be using my beautiful life to make other peoples' lives beautiful. Why am I tripping in the most basic places? These years will be gone in a blink and I will find myself trying to figure out what went wrong. I was talking to Shad Apu the other day. She's 26 (I think, or was it 27?) and has a beautiful daughter. She was telling me that she still remembers her first year of university. She remembers how full of life she was. She remembers how much of a dreamer she was. And those moments passed so quickly, that she wonders what she could've done if they were still hers. She said that she loves being a mother, yet, she lost the chirpy restlessness she felt at 19. The feeling that she can conquer the world if she wanted to.

So, I took out a pen and paper, and wrote down some goals. Things I want to do in my life. So that I can look back when I am eighty-eight, and not regret. I understand that these goals will probably change as I grow, but at least they are a starting point! 


  1. Umm.. I made a TO-DO list for myself too but as you said, fear hope and love should be of perfect balance and it wasn't there in my case, the TO-DO list didn't work out. Anyway, nothing exactly work out for me the way I wish, but then again there's something good about life, you never know what's next, and that's what I enjoy about it.
    Have fun at your 19's!

  2. Nothing exactly works out for anyone. You just have to keep changing your plans so that they somehow fit your life, as well as your dreams. :P

  3. that's a good idea, I'll remember that when my dreams starts to fail me one by one :P thanks.

  4. Awesome post! It's so true, we always worry about what others think, even when it comes to expressing our love to God. But the fact that you've recognised it, is i guess, the first step! :)