The Heart Breaks but Love Survives

Ocean wave sparkling in the sun

Wael Abdelgawad | Reprinted from WaelAbdelgawad.com

An ocean wave is born.  In that instant it is glorious and unafraid. Sunlight shines through it as through emerald glass, and sparkles on the foam. The water crests high, the wall of blue as solid as any mountain. It knows its purpose and does not hesitate. That is its moment of worship and praise. All things glorify God in their way, even if we do not understand the manner of their speech. In this case, however, it is easy to behold.

A moment later the wave crashes upon the rocks, and the resulting streams of water retreat.

So it is with love.

Another wave comes. But is it another, or the same wave reforming itself? Surely some of the same water molecules that made up the previous wave are in this one too? And does it matter? The wave is not separate from the ocean, which is vast and unknowable. Each wave is an expression of the whole. This cannot be truly understood. It simply is, coming and going yet persisting, constantly changing but quiet and deep beyond the eyes of others.

So it is with the human heart. The heart breaks on the rocks of rejection or loss, but love survives.

Because love is faithful and innate it comes again and again, renewing itself, taking different forms, sometimes breaking apart in a tragic and beautiful rush, and in that moment feeling like a little death – and yet at the deepest level remaining pure and sincere, and as immortal as anything on earth.

So it is with life itself, I think.

– From the journal of Wael Abdelgawad, July 13, 2017

Life is Not a Rehearsal

Life is not a rehearsal

Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

Life is not a rehearsal. You get one shot. This is your chance to prove your character, worship your Lord, leave behind a legacy of kindness and love, and save your soul. This is it, and it will be over before you know it.

Poem: If I Were a Middle-Aged Angel

Sunlight shining through trees onto a forest path

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

If I were a middle-aged angel
wearing holy hi-tops and shining with light
placing every foot right
my hands never shaking
never having to recline the seat in the car
and close my eyes, just sit there
breathing, my heart quaking,
trying to figure out what to do next,
how to fix the wreck that is my life –
then I wouldn’t need the light
of the Most High. I wouldn’t need
to fall to my knees and pray,
always for someone else first –
my father, daughter, Syria –
then for myself, for true love twice,
the illusion of security –
knowing it’s an illusion I still crave it –
and for Paradise.

– April 27, 2017
Fresno, California

Poem: I Fell On My Knees

Indonesian woman prays beside a rice paddy.

Written By Eya

I fell on my knees
with a humble heart
seeking forgiveness
and much mercy

For I need him so
for guidance
to begin anew
and remain on the path

In my life and living
I want to change
old habits for happiness
and the love

I seek now and the afterlife
for then it will truly be blissfull
I am an example
of God’s love.

Help Me Fund Publication of My Next Novel

Wael and his daughter.

Wael and his daughter.

I have used my websites in the past to raise money for causes such as disaster relief and refugee assistance.

This time I’m raising money for my own project. I’ve recently completed an urban fantasy novel called The Repeaters. I want to indie publish or self-publish it, but I don’t have the funds for essentials like typesetting, cover design and the ISBN number.

Please donate to my GoFundMe campaign to help me raise the money to publish the book. Jazakum Allah khayr. Thank you so much.

Anyone who donates $50 will get a free unsigned copy.

Anyone who donates $100 will get a free signed copy!

Click here to donate.

Thank you and God bless you.

Getting in Touch With Gratitude

Girl with arms raised to the sky

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

If a life comes down to what a man or woman has learned, then I’ll say this: you may feel discouragement, anxiety or despair, but you never know what’s coming tomorrow. Never give up on Allah, and never give up on yourself. Allah brings life and light from darkness. A closed room opens and becomes a road to the sunrise. Miracles happen every day, and I am a witness to that.

Gratitude

First, take nothing and no one for granted. Remember to be grateful for everything – for health, breath, the heart pumping in your chest, wholesome food on the table, rain falling unbidden from the sky, family, friends, the Quran, the Prophet (sws), everything. Gratitude is the first order of the day. Gratitude is the path to loving Allah. Gratitude is the only argument one needs against disbelief. It is the cure for sadness and materialism as well, and is the motivation to do better tomorrow.

When I sit down to eat with my daughter Salma, we first say Bismillah, then each of us names three things for which we are grateful. It has the effect of connecting us to the blessings of the moment – such as the food on the table – and the greater blessings that we often take for granted, such as the presence of family and the gift of Islam.

I’m a huge believer in gratitude, which is why I focus on it in my writings, including in my novel, Pieces of a Dream.

Ask from Allah

Second, know that you have nothing but what Allah has given you, and no protector but Him, so when you ask, ask from Allah. The book, “Don’t Be Sad” mentions a story:

A Muslim went to a certain country as a refugee and he implored the authorities there to grant him citizenship. He was denied, and all avenues were closed to him. Despite his many efforts at importuning others, all of his contacts failed. One day he met a righteous scholar, and explained his predicament.

The scholar said, `Supplicate to your Lord, for He is the One who makes things easy.’ This advice is given clearly in the following hadith:

On the authority of Abu Abbas Abdullah bin Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) who said:

One day I was behind the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) [riding on the same mount] and he said, “O young man, I shall teach you some words [of advice]: Be mindful of Allah and Allah will protect you. Be mindful of Allah and you will find Him in front of you. If you ask, then ask Allah [alone]; and if you seek help, then seek help from Allah [alone]. And know that if the nation were to gather together to benefit you with anything, they would not benefit you except with what Allah had already prescribed for you. And if they were to gather together to harm you with anything, they would not harm you except with what Allah had already prescribed against you. The pens have been lifted and the pages have dried.” (It was related by at-Tirmidhi, who said it was a good and sound hadeeth).

The refugee later related,

“By Allah, I stopped going to people for help or for intercession. Instead I began praying to Allah in the last third of the night just as the scholar told me to do. Just before the break of dawn, I would call to Allah and invoke Him for relief.

I submitted an application for citizenship without using any person of position to intercede for me. A few days passed and then suddenly, to my astonishment, I was called to pick up my citizenship request papers. They were stamped with ‘Approved.’

Forgive

Third, forgive yourself and do better tomorrow. Everyone loses control sometimes. Everyone sometimes hurts others and feels regret. Everyone has shameful experiences. Everyone.

Fourth, forgive others. Be gentle and assume the best when it comes to people’s intentions. Everyone is struggling in this world. Other people’s anger or criticism is almost always the product of their own fear.

Save one soul

Why does it seem sometimes that the Muslim world is so out of touch with gratitude? Why does it seem that we Muslims are consumed with anger and frustration?

It’s understandable. We Muslims are a conquered people. Our lands were divided by colonialists, we are ruled by tyrants and kings, and we are under siege or occupation by non-Muslim powers in many places. We watch as some of our most ancient cultures are reduced to rubble and conflict. At the same time, we’re dealing with major social issues like corruption, poverty, unemployment and inability to marry.

All of that generates feelings of anger, frustration and resentment. We see that reflected in the discontent of many Muslims.

Surely, however, we are not meant to live our lives in a constant state of frustration. After all, there has always been – and will always be – suffering in the world. So the question is, how do we acknowledge the suffering of the Ummah, and work for the betterment of the Muslims, while still maintaining our own inner peace and sense of gratitude? How can we feel outrage while not allowing it to eat away like acid at our imaan?

Going back to the hadith of ibn Abbas mentioned above, we must remember that no one can  help us or harm us with anything except that which is permitted by Allah. We must strive to do all we can for the sake of Islam, then leave the rest in Allah’s hands. If we are at least doing something, then we do not have to feel impotent.

It also helps to keep our focus small. No one can carry the suffering of the world on his or her shoulders. Try instead to help one person. There is value in saving one soul, or even assisting one person in a small way. When you have saved one soul, then save another, and another. In this way you become a part of a great movement of goodness and compassion that transforms the world.

All the while, be grateful. Focus on what you have, rather than what you do not have. Be aware of the visible blessings blossoming all around you, and imagine the many more invisible blessings showering down from Heaven.

Not Giving Up On Humanity

Beautiful roadBy Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

I’m not ready to give up on humanity. The world is torn by war, and billions are crushed by poverty and hunger. Torturers practice their dark arts in the prisons of the world. Raveners consume the rainforests. The oceans fill with garbage…

But I’m not ready to give up on this world, or on the human experiment. We were not created in vain. God said to the angels, “‘Verily, I will place humankind generations after generations on earth.’ They (the angels) said: ‘Will You place therein those who will make mischief and shed blood, while we glorify You with praises and thanks and sanctify You?’ God said: ‘I know that which you do not know.’” (Quran 2:30)

Notice that God did not say, “No, they will not make mischief and shed blood.” Rather He said, “I know that which you do not know.”

Could it be that He saw our potential for greatness? That He saw within us the seeds of compassion and transformation? They say that a man must hit rock bottom before he can change. Could that be true for us as a species? Could it be that we must explore these disgraceful depths before we can turn around and evolve? One thing is certain: this must be our final century, or our first. We will continue to a hurricane of self-destruction, or we will begin a new way of living.

We must find a way to solve our problems without war. We must stop burning fossil fuels. We must abandon the culture of disposal goods and begin to live sustainably. We must redistribute resources more equitably. We know what we have to do. It’s not a mystery. We simply have to find the moral courage to do it. And we need better leaders. We must remove the reins of power from men who serve the gods of greed and selfishness.

Martin Luther King Jr., in one of his last speeches (“Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam”), said:

“With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to speed up the day when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. With this faith we will be able to speed up the day when the lion and the lamb will lie down together, and every man will sit under his own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid because the words of the Lord have spoken it. With this faith we will be able to speed up the day when all over the world we will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we’re free at last!” With this faith, we’ll sing it as we’re getting ready to sing it now. Men will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. And nations will not rise up against nations, neither shall they study war anymore.”

Sadly, the global trend at the time of this writing is toward division and hatred. We are seeing the rise of nationalist sentiment and so-called leaders who call upon the worst instincts of their people, fanning the flames of racial division.

Still, I insist on having faith. I insist on believing in the future. Because, after all, what is the alternative?

Men will beat their swords into plowshares… Is that possible? Yes, why not? It’s within our power to choose a better way to live.

Will we? I don’t know. But I suspect that the human story contains a few surprises yet to be seen.

A People of Hope

Cloud and birds

We (Muslims) are not a people of despair. We are a people of hope and redemption and transformation. The wind will always come. Fall in prostration during the storm and you will be safe. Like all things of this world, it will pass. Healing will come. Change will come. Victory will come.
It always does.

– Yasmin Mogahed, January 30, 2017

Not prepared for Ramadan? The door is open anyway

Muslim woman prays at Jama Masjid in New Delhi, in Ramadan 2009

Muslim woman prays at Jama Masjid in New Delhi, in Ramadan 2009

By Maryam Amir

If you cannot fast this Ramadan, if you cannot go to the masjid for tarawih, if you’ve been so overwhelmed that the month has crept up and you don’t feel like you’re at all prepared, remember:

Ramadan is the month of mercy anyway. Ramadan is the month of forgiveness anyway. Ramadan is the month of acceptance and rewards and prayers answered anyway.

Instead of feeling guilty and angry over your inability to fast and spend this month in the masjid or your lack of preparation, find creative ways to reconnect with your Creator. Your taking care of your health, your taking care of others, your duaa, your Quran, your dhikr, your charity, your doing the laundry and going to work and taking care of the kids and supporting your parents and studying for exams- all of them, all of them, are acts of worship magnified in this month by your intention.

If you feel the door has shut for you and the month hasn’t even begun, remember, “Allah will not close a door to His servant out of wisdom, except that He opens two doors for him out of mercy.” Ibn al-Qayyim

Allahuma, we are not ready, our hearts are hard and our vices many, but You are All Forgiving, All Loving and All Answering and all is easy for You – so make us successful anyway! Bring us close to You anyway! Be pleased with us, forgive us, answer us and enter us and every one of our loved ones into the highest Paradise without reckoning anyway! ameen!

Only Allah’s Light Can Defeat the Darkness

Sun rays in a field

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

The world can be a dark place. War, greed, racial hatred, oppression… these are expressions of social ignorance on a sweeping scale. Sometimes it feels like the world is being consumed by the forces of darkness, doesn’t it?

Then we have personal suffering, abuse, and selfishness – manifestations of spiritual darkness at the most intimate level. Because these ills strike at our friendships, in our homes and in our own hearts, they are even harder to deal with than global calamities.

There’s only one refuge, one source of protection, comfort, and guidance. The only true light comes from Allah (God, the Creator). Only Allah’s light can defeat the darkness. All other promises of hope and salvation are illusions.

“Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth.” – Quran 24:35

Can one find comfort in material luxury, physical sensation, or intoxication? Not really. Those are distractions. Whatever pleasure we get from them fades quickly.

Can one find solace in nature? Perhaps, but only because the beauty of nature is a reflection of Allah’s mercy and creative genius. The creation is a sign that points to the Creator. When you’re sitting there on a mountain meadow, looking out over the forested slopes and thinking, “This sure is beautiful. I feel at peace,” what you’re really doing – whether you realize it or not – is praising Allah and sensing the beauty and wonder that He placed in His creation.

One another note, do some fools commit evil in the name of religion? Yes, but Allah is exalted and glorified above what people do.

Our refuge from all of this is Allah’s light. The following is an authentic dua’ which the Prophet (sws) used to supplicate in sujood:

“O Allah, place light in my heart, and on my tongue light, and in my ears light and in my sight light, and above me light, and below me light, and to my right light, and to my left light, and before me light and behind me light. Place in my soul light. Magnify for me light, and amplify for me light. Make for me light, and make me light. O Allah, grant me light, and place light in my nerves, and in my body light and in my blood light and in my hair light and in my skin light. O Allah, make for me a light in my grave… and a light in my bones. Increase me in light, increase me in light, increase me in light. Grant me light upon light.”

It should be noted that this light has nothing to do with skin, hair or eye color. It is a reference to Allah’s light, which Ali ibn Abi Talib (ra) said was the gift of Allah’s guidance in the heart of the believer. Allah says, “Allah is the Wali (Protector or Guardian) of those who believe. He brings them out from darkness into light.” – Quran 2:257

It seriously disturbs me that people – and Muslims are not immune – continue to equate lightness and darkness of skin to goodness and badness of character. A person might have skin dark as ebony, yet be filled with Allah’s light, so that the noor radiates from her face. And a person might be white as bone, yet thoroughly evil. Anyone who believes differently is confused and spiritually lost. May Allah protect us from such corrupt ways of thinking.

We seek refuge in Allah’s light from the darkness of the world. In practical application, seeking Allah’s light means that we seek the guidance of the Quran (which is a manifestation of light). We love and follow the Prophet (sws). We strive to be present in our worship. We try to be kind to Allah’s creatures – not only other humans, but the animals and plants as well, as we were placed in stewardship over them. We struggle daily against our own negative impulses, and we try to make the world a better place.

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