There was a specific time in my life when I was being tested to the max, mentally and physically. In some ways, one might say I am still recovering from being kicked whilst I was down albeit at my own pace, which is one foot at a time, one day at a time.
One of the simplest things I remember from back then, that gave me some momentary respite from all the heaviness and darkness that was in my heart and soul. I just had to take a picture of that precise moment, as a personal reminder for posterity.
Here is the photo that I took…
This reminded me, to keep on going with the flow however hard it felt to try to stay afloat because the answer one would find would be blowing in the wind.
This frozen moment in time gave me hope, a sense of purpose, and a smile once more in my heart. To try and keep remembering my favourite things but most importantly, to remain patient and to keep the faith.
Upon tidying up my hard drive, I stumbled across a folder and foolishly thought I could clear it out. Yet having gone through it all, being the evidence of what bullying I had previously endured and subsequently saved, it left me reeling once again with such utter disgust at the world – especially those who wish(ed) to behave and present themselves quite despicably. As I was not their only victim, I can wholly sympathise with the others too, this weighs my heart down even more so. It has been what seems to be a never-ending, extremely painful experience to undergo all that nastiness at the hands of such evilness.
“The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies.”
~ Ray Bradbury.
You can only imagine how elated I felt the other day, to learn that someone, Sean O’Brien, he who had been targeted via social media for his size and confidence was in fact being supported against his bully. His predator’s attempt to feed his own ego was thwarted. Big time. People’s attitudes and perceptions of today are changing, for the better and this means sociopaths are gradually being exposed. People are standing up, taller than ever before, having their voices heard, against the bullies – they are no longer following the flock of sheep but their own conscience for peace of mind and heart.
Please, do not be afraid to walk alone, to be yourself – ‘tis way better than letting them walk all over you – they are potentially manipulating, exploiting, engineering and compromising you for their own gains with little or no regards for your feelings or any consequences. Do not be afraid, to speak up – to anyone. Think of it all as a good test because in the end it will help you to find out along the way, whom you can trust and who you are or want to be since they are showing you, who not to be.
I have taken measures to prevent any further undesirables from entering my life for my children, and my family comes first. They are why I do not dare let the sadness, heartbreak, past memories and any thoughts of “them” creep in. Feelings are deceiving and extremely compromising.A true friend would never abandon your side in your time of need, through thick or thin or even encourage the thought of compromising you – in any sense. Anyone that does can effectively “Do one”…
“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk besides me and be my friend.” ~ Albert Camus.
I am more than certain you will believe me when I say I know who my friends are, they may be rather few at that but I do not mind because with me, it is a case of “Quality Rather Than Quantity”. On that note, here is a token of gratitude for those selected few who manage to stay true, for not looking down on any one except to help them back up. For they are the ones who know how it feels, to be felled.
It is oftentimes like this when I have to remind myself not to let “them” win and to soar even higher up above with an abundance of courage and positivity.
I am not one to speak openly about my religion due to prejudice or my family since I am a private person so please consider yourself rather privileged in this sense and respect this personal post of mine.
When I was born, my parents could not agree on whichever religion they wished to introduce me to and bring me up by since my paternal grandmother originated from Italy but resided in Egypt, which meant my father was automatically Roman Catholic. My maternal grandmother was a Christian and quite a righteous person at that. My parents soon became weary of arguing so they decided to let me grow up and choose myself, which of their religion I wished to follow.
Growing up, I was aware of the different yet similar religions but it was not until I left school that I started to develop a keen inquisition, to find answers regarding who we are and why we are here. I could not understand at the time why people were calling Jesus, the son of God and the wearing / use of a cross. I could not understand why the Jews were so stubborn and seemed to use stratagems. I could not understand why the number of Muslims seemed to be growing so fast. I decided to let my heart decide during the course of seeking further knowledge, for answers.
There was a time during my childhood while I was in Italy visiting family, I knew they were Roman Catholics but this plague on their wall caught my eye since it was in Arabic. Intrigued, I asked my cousin what it said and why they had it. He told me that it said “Allah” and they had brought it back from where they lived in Egypt. Noticing I was still perplexed and not yet satisfied, he went on to explain that Catholics have one God and the Muslims have one God and that “Allah” was the Arabic name for their God. It did not matter what language or religion, there is only one God… That memory and defining emotion has stayed with me ever since then. Based on this experience, my heart seemed to be more inclined towards seeking answers from Islam than the older religions before it.
I wrote to the nearest mosque to me at the time, for any leaflets they could provide me with and to my surprise, I received a book along with a letter from the Imam. I could not believe the level of such kindness and generosity that I immediately wrote back thanking them so.
This book became the very first book I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated. It all started to make a lot of sense, logically and scientifically. It was not just a hippy, peaceful religion for sandal wearing people. This fuelled my desire for more knowledge, and even more answers. Twenty years on, I am still reading books and sometimes, I even correct my husband who is a devout Muslim. They say converts tend to make better Muslims since they seek information in order to quench their thirst for knowledge and to be the better person they could possibly be.
One late evening, there were two young men who were trying to chat up my friend and I, in passing as we made our way to catch the last tube home. I could tell from experience, which country in North Africa they came from. I asked one of the men who was trying to pay me some attention, if he was a Muslim. Whether he lied or spoke the truth would only determine his character. He chose to speak the truth so I asked him in all honesty, why he was consuming alcohol and looking for attention when it was forbidden to him. He took a moment to reflect on his would-be answer but knowingly smiled instead. At that precise moment, he had every respect for me, for reminding him of whom he is, where he came from and to do good. I too relatively had respect for him as I sensed he would potentially cherish that moment, to help him become a better person.
Every being is born a Muslim but family life and peer pressure dictates otherwise so paths tend to deviate. If only people were able to realise the hand of Satan in all the engineering of situations and lures to increase ones desires. All of which is a test, of faith and character.
With Christianity and Judaism, the bible and Torah has been edited accordingly to fit around their ways of life, to make what was not permitted to them, permissible. The bible even more so. Each time certain people try to elevate themselves, they are actually debasing themselves. Not even one word has been changed in the Quran since it was first spoken, memorised and prescribed for the people to follow. When I first started to read the Quran, bits of it made sense and others not, of which I knew I would understand with time and patience. Upon reading the last page of the Quran, I cried a river! I did not want this unique experience and relationship to end. I then took to praying five times a day.
Within a month or so of praying, whenever I prostrated there was a dull pain in my stomach and I would remark on this pain to my husband. The pain continued for another month – especially each time I prostrated. Certainly, my body (and faith?) was trying to tell me something – that I was seriously unwell. My husband came to realise this too when he was told by the hospital over the phone that I had a ruptured appendix of which my body managed to seal off and turned into a mass, causing an abscess also. This meant an invasive surgery to clean up, drain and separate the organs from inside my stomach.
Prior to the operation, I did not think I would survive so I privately said my goodbyes albeit mentally, leaving my life in Allah’s hands by saying “Insha Allah” repeatedly until I was under the effects of the anaesthetics. This verse and my faith, gave me the courage I needed, to face the operation. An operation that saved my life, gave my children back their mother, my husband his wife. The doctor told me that I am extremely lucky to be alive today – I should not be here. At times, I very much struggle with that fact alone and I have to remind myself how I felt before that life changing experience and how much I trusted Allah with my life when I trusted no one else. In particular, it was not yet my time. Yet most importantly, my faith was reconfirmed.
As always, there is a reason for everything, behind every nature’s designs. Only those in a similar situation will come to understand my reasons for writing this and I can only hope that I have helped guide another by sharing how and why I became a convert. My conversion progressively occurred over a number of years as I researched, asked questions and experienced life and psychology from an Islamic perspective.
I would like to thank you for your patience and for sparing a moment of your valuable time to read something so personal.
Furthermore, extremism, terrorism, transgression of the limits and exaggeration, is not permitted in Islam.
“People of the Book, do not go to excess in your religion.” (4:171)
“These are the bounds set by Allah, do not overstep them.” (2:229)
“Do not waste by excess, Allah does not like wasteful people.” (6:141)
“Call on your Lord humbly and privately, He does not like those who transgress His bounds.” (7:55)
The Prophet Muhammed said:
“Avoid going to excess in religion. The people before you were destroyed by their exaggeration.”
Ahmad (1/215, 347), Nisa’i (3057, 3059)
He also said:
“Do not be harsh to yourselves, lest Allah be harsh to you. It happened to some people who adopted the harsh way and Allah treated them badly.”
Abu Ya’la (2427, 2472), Tabarani in Kabir (12/156)
Writing from the bottom of my heart, I have never experienced such indescribable heartache like I did before. I could never, ever wish the same ill feelings upon another, yet when I recognise someone is in a similar place, there beholds a potential trigger. A form of darkness has taken hold and will almost certainly spiral out of control if not attended to in time. As they say, “It takes one to know one”. Familiar symptoms and cries for help in the sense of “I’ve had enough” or “It’s too much” are more than often the very first tell-tale signs.
Depression, when misunderstood, not listened to, unsupported, not considered or unappreciated is inevitably an extremely isolating and harrowing place to be, but also very revealing because, these are the precise crucial moments when we realise who our real friends are and who loves us. Who wants to be there for us, be it through thick or thin. They are the ones who would not dream of looking down at someone unless they were helping them up.
There are those who will misinterpret or manipulate the situation to their own understanding, experience and liking. So much so that I once asked a friend in frustration “Why do people listen to rumours or what someone else has said when they haven’t seen the evidence for themselves? And why do people let their personal feelings get in the way of their public service work?” No response was given, which did not bother me because my conscience was and is clear.
However, life has to go on. There have been times when I have had to drag myself out of bed, dreading another day on the same rollercoaster of emotions and thoughts. “My kids need me” I would drum into myself and kept trying to remain strong, although I felt I was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. I had to keep on going somehow, one foot at a time until one day, I was hurting far too much – I had been kicked while I was down, which broke my heart and then to add insult to injury, kicked in the teeth by “friends” all of whom became the catalyst. I had been strong for everyone else up until this point but now I needed strength, from somewhere, someone too. There were times when I contemplated “giving up” but I told myself otherwise. I knew my kids would miss me too much and this would be the ultimate sin. I also understood, remembering friends who had tried in the past, that this was not the answer.
“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behaviour. Keep your behaviour positive because your behaviour becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.” – Mahatma Ghandi.
It was now time for me to start making some major positive changes.
One of the best things I ever did was to start removing myself from destructive situations caused by negative people. I no longer have any time or patience for those who did not deserve it. Granted, they deserve a little bit of lee-way to test the water with, but once their true colours have been shown and confirmed by abusing their right to free speech with disrespect, they can simply “do one”. If not physically, then at least mentally. I also stopped being friendly with those who only wanted to benefit from my help. In starting to take back control, this gave me the confidence to stand up and put people in their rightful places where necessary.
I remember a day out as a young girl with my grandparents, who were driving across the moors. Dark clouds were visible all around us with sparse patches of sunlight bravely bursting through. I asked my grandmother “Why are there dark clouds all around but the sunlight is on us?” She replied reassuringly, “The sun shines on the righteous.” I learnt right there and then how we should always stay on the righteous side.
One other poignant memory is how my grandmother would write out the lyrics from any musicals we watched so I could follow, often feeling warmth from watching my sister and grandmother singing their hearts out. One of the most memorable songs has to be “A few of my favourite things” from the ‘Sound of Music’. The lyrics literally came alive and held so much meaning, through my grandmother’s joy in remembering her favourite things, and her family being around her.
Warm chocolate cake, seeing people smile, hearing them laugh, feeling the warm embrace of the sun, the beauty of Mother Nature and going out into the refreshing pouring rain, are just a few of my favourite things. I decided to heal myself from within, so I no longer felt so bad.
So be around those who bring light to your life, not stress. Take comfort in your loved ones as they will always be there for you no matter what because they don’t mind who you are. Stay strong for you are not alone. Those who make others smile, laugh, hug them which helps to heal, show respect and kindness – regardless, you will have unknowingly helped more than you realise.
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
– Leo Buscaglia.
I felt compelled to write this, albeit very personal post, in the hope that it will benefit another from reading it, providing them confidence and inspiration. Please, keep on smiling because the best things in life is free and does wonders.
Have faith and “Carpe Diem” – Everyday. Positivity rules x