Published On Productive Muslim
On December 25th, 2016
Now I must admit I can’t help but wonder what was the first thing that came to your mind when you read this title. Maybe you heard the notoriously shocking ‘Dan Dan Daaaaaaa’ sound in you head and freaked out a little bit coz the title reminded you of that popular series of horror movies. Or maybe it triggered you to frantically search the secret box inside your brain. Because let’s say I actually did know about something you did that I wasn’t supposed to know about, it will probably give you one of these three feelings:
- Disappointment: You did something really good and gave up your bragging rights for the sake of Allah, and you’re worried anyone finding out about it might take away from your extra credit for secret good deeds (If that’s the case, touché, you’re one of the very special few! And we all hate you!)
- Fear: You did something really bad. Like really bad! Your heart is beating fast; you’d rather be transformed into a toilet brush than face the humiliation of people discovering it.
- Confusion: There were hardly any special or tormenting events; it was basically a numbingly mundane year. Nothing good, nothing bad. And now you’re just staring at me blankly trying to remember: “What did I do?”
We might block them out, but we all have all kinds of secrets, some of them so deep and dark we bury them in the woods of our minds like murderers burying their victims’ corpses. Then we wait and hope no one ever finds out about them. And the more respected, ‘looked-up-to’ and well mannered we are, the better we get at covering our crimes. Like this woman who doesn’t miss a single prayer, you’ll never guess she’s rude and yells at her senile mom when no one is around. And this man who quotes ‘hadiths’ every chance he gets, well, he chats inappropriately with loose women online. This straight A’s teenager waits till his parents go to sleep and spends hours watching porn! Because as it turns out, inside every person you know, there’s a person you don’t know, capable of doing the unspeakable! You’d think that’s way creepier than any horror movie, but it’s not. There’s more..
I recently underwent major eye surgery (which involves a donated eyeball but I’ll be kind and spare you the gory details). Anyways, I was literally blind for a while. Making myself a cup of coffee felt like a bigger achievement than winning the longest marathon.
At the Olympics.
Four years in a row.
With one leg.
Attached to a life support machine.
And carrying two kids on my back. (Okay I’m kidding LOL).
So yeah, since you need your eyesight to perform about 90% of your daily activities, I literally felt useless for a long time. I now have a newfound respect for the blind who are still joyful and productive mashAllah. That’s when I realized there’s something even worse than bad habits and dark secrets. There’s one thing that tears us apart more than disappointment, guilt, self-loathing and fear put together. And that’s the numbness of doing nothing at all.
What you do when you think no one is looking essentially defines who you are, and basically maps out your entire future. Some people choose to do anonymous acts of kindness and pile up on the good deeds, while others do horrible things and hope they’ll get away with it. In both scenarios the operative word is ‘do’. Then there’s a third group of people who don’t do nothing, they just eat popcorn and watch. They watch other people, watch TV and YouTube, or just watch their lives pass them by. They feel no fear, joy or pain. Achievements don’t motivate them and mistakes don’t teach them. They’re not one of those cultivating success ‘Muflehoon’, or those seeking redemption through repentance “Tawaboon’. They’re blind even though their eyesight is intact and can make themselves a cup of coffee no problem! They’re the ‘Ghafeloon’, they’re oblivious to their good and bad deeds. Like zombies, they feel nothing at all.
At least there’s a chance to learn from mistakes and fix them eventually. The power of guilt and stress can push you to take the driving wheel and exit the wrong highway. But spending day after day in your comfort zone, going through the same motions, having the same small talk with your co-workers, the same arguments with your spouse or parents, watching movie after movie till your eyes fall out, spending hours on Facebook and Snap Chat, and counting how many followers you have on Instagram and Twitter. Granted there’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s nothing right either. The mere concept of being busy ‘killing’ time is in itself a huge crime! (Cheesy metaphor I know but I couldn’t help it LOL)
Being a ‘watcher’ does not change the fact there’s a surveillance camera documenting your every move. You yourself are being watched all the time. Even your most, well kept secrets are known to Allah. So look closely at your life and tell me, what do you see? The great scholar Ibn ‘Ata Allah said, “If you want to know your standing with Him, look at the state He has put you in now”. There’s an inescapable paradigm shift in those words. They make you pause and reassess the bigger picture! Some people live to make a difference and some people are indifferent to their own lives they just squander it away. Some people keep their eyes on the goal and others are blinded by distractions. So be honest with yourself and find out exactly where He put you. Are you satisfied with who you are? Do you only have horrible secrets with Allah, and that’s why you’re too ashamed you end up running away from Him to a lifeless life? Do you let yourself feel the power of secret good deeds and use it in times of need? Because that’s what it all boils down to; snapping out of zombie mode and ‘feeling your feelings’ will magically make the right path appear right before you. And you’ll see that many times, one small thing done solely for the sake of Allah can cancel out all the nothingness that fills your life.
Listen to this amazing story:
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Three men, amongst those who came before you, set out until night came and they reached a cave, so they entered it. A rock fell down from the mountain and blocked the entrance of the cave. They said: ‘Nothing will save you from this unless you supplicate to Allah by virtue of a righteous deed you have done.’ Thereupon, one of them said: ‘O Allah! I had parents who were old, and I used to offer them milk before any of my children or slaves. One day, I went far away in search of grazing and could not come back until they had slept. When I milked as usual and brought the drink I found them both asleep. I hated to disturb them and also disliked to give milk to my children before them. My children were crying out of hunger at my feet but I awaited with the bowl in my hand for them to wake up. When they awoke at dawn, they drank milk. O Allah! If I did so to seek Your Pleasure, then deliver us from the distress caused by the rock’. The rock moved slightly but they were unable to escape.
The next said: ‘O Allah! I had a cousin whom I loved more than any one else I wanted to have sexual intercourse with her but she refused. Hard pressed in a year of famine, she approached me. I gave her one hundred and twenty dinars on condition that she would yield herself to me. She agreed and when we got together she said: Fear Allah and do not break the seal unlawfully. I moved away from her in spite of the fact that I loved her most passionately; and I let her keep the money I had given her. O Allah! If I did that to seek Your Pleasure, then, remove the distress in which we are.’ The rock moved aside a bit further but they were still unable to get out.
The third one said: ‘O Allah! I hired some laborers and paid them their wages except one of them departed without taking his due. I invested his money in business and the business prospered greatly. After a long time, he came to me and said: O slave of Allah! Pay me my dues. I said: All that you see is yours – camels, cattle, goats and slaves. He said: O slave of Allah! Do not mock at me. I assured him that I was not joking. So he took all the things and went away. He spared nothing. O Allah! If I did so seeking Your Pleasure, then relieve us of our distress.’ The rock slipped aside and they got out walking freely”.
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
I’m sure this wasn’t a bedtime story. Our beloved Prophet was trying to teach us a timeless lesson through this Hadith. For in times of desperation, you’ll want to use every tool in the box. When you’re broken, weak and utterly desperate, trust me, you’ll want to use your secret righteous deeds to plead and beg Allah for help. And it will work, just like it did for these three men. But now, do we really have secrets with Allah good enough to get us through the bad times? Which one would you have related had you been in that cave? I’ve been asking myself this very question for God knows how long now and I’m still absolutely clueless! But that’s okay coz as long as we are breathing, there’s still time. There’s time to figure it out, to do more, and be more! And while I honestly have no idea what you did last year, I think I know what you will do from now on, and it involves greatness.
This is not the end; it’s the beginning of a new year crowned with amazing possibilities.
May it be filled with beautiful secrets….
Lilly S. Mohsen.