On Hearts

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On a good morning I will wake up feeling full. My three fajr alarms will have worked, I wake up thankful, I remember the words one should recite upon waking up: “All praise is for God, who gave us life after having taken it from us, and to Him is our return.” I remember my Purpose.

But in usual Children of Adam fashion, I quickly forget. As a woman, I worry constantly about who I have to be today. When I am getting dressed, when I look in the mirror, my reflection is never really my own because I see myself through everybody else’s eyes.

When my thoughts should be going to how I am going to reveal myself today and dig up all the parts of me I’ve been suppressing like my laugh, or my mind, or my thighs, or the dark circles under my eyes, or or or…I wonder who will stare too long at my imperfections, who will think my pants are too tight, will my skirt be too Muslim, who will my Hijab be too bright for, who will my shirt be too short for? Who am I becoming and for who?  I start to self-edit, and like any good editing it results in a lot of erasing.

As a woman, as a muslim woman,  I have to be so many things for so many people and it is draining, exhausting and spiritually damaging. I wasn’t created for anyone, to please anyone, not you, not Ahmed from Calculus, not Auntie from the Masjid, not even Becky with the good hair. None of them. But  yet I wake up feeling like I am expected to be some flower. I have to be beautiful, and soft, I have to remove all the thorns that nobody likes, I build up fences around my garden and just when I start to grow, I’m picked. Somebody must take ownership over you. To bloom on your own is questionable, maybe even unimaginable. It’s not enough to be what they wanted you to be, it can’t belong to you, you’re a woman. Imagine always having to be the flower? I can’t anymore.

The only way I’ve learned to stop the cycle is to remember that one day I will have to meet my Lord with nothing but what I carried in my heart. In Divine Governance of the Human Kingdom, Ibn Arabi compares our souls to the moon. What ever light it possesses is not its own, it only reflects the light of God. Just like the moon, our souls can become eclipsed when the Earth covers them, or when we become too concerned with Earthly matters. So you see I am not your flower? I am not even of this Earth.

My heart, despite being so close to me had become so foreign. Eclipsed. Its language is spoken mainly in silence, and I was constantly yelling.  I am thankful for having to have travelled where I did to learn its language. If like me you’ve been yelling at your heart, repeat after me:

God is Sufficient for me

God is Sufficient for me

God is Sufficient for me

Dhikr/remembrance on a daily basis has become so important to me. In a culture that is constantly whispering at me in the background to be the flower, I have to remind myself that I am the moon. I cannot say that I wake up everyday feeling perfectly content, there is a paradise for that, but I can say that I am getting to know my heart again despite having confused it for something that consumes light, when it was only ever meant to reflect.

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