Poem: Lead Into Gold

Beautiful sunrise and hot air balloons

Lead Into Gold

Allah, giver of peace:
Your love has transformed me
like an alchemist’s dream
of lead into gold.
I was old, bent under the weight
of years of confusion,
but now I stand straight, far-seeing,
light on my feet and gleaming,
golden like a lion’s pelt,
a sunrise in my eyes.

– Wael Abdelgawad

Fast 7-Step Cure for Depression by Dr. Bilal Philips

Sun rays shining through green trees

This is Dr. Bilal Philips’s “Fast” cure for depression.

Do a complete focused fast on Mondays and Thursdays, and do the following:

1) Get up and read from the Quran in Arabic and English – “Inna fee Khalqis samaawati wal Ard” (Surat Aali Imraan, 3:191-end) and crying.

2) Make a focused wudu’ and pray Tahajjud, followed by:

3) a very light Suhoor (brown bread, olives and extra virgin olive oil + 2 table spoons full of canned tuna or one egg) followed by:

4) a day of focused sunnah and Fard prayers.

5) Utilize throughout the day any of the Prophetic du’aas requesting ease like:

“Allahumma laa sahla illaa maa ja’altahu sahlaa, wa anta taj’alus sa’ba in shi’ta sahlaa.”

(O Allah, nothing is easy except what you make easy, and You can make what is difficult easy if You wish)

As well as the other du’aas for depression like: Allaahumma rahmataka arjoo falaa takilnee ilaa nafsee tarfata ‘ayn. wa aslih lee sha’nee kullah. Laa ilaaha illaa Ant. (O Allah, it is Your mercy that I hope for, so don’t leave me in charge of my affairs even for the blinking of an eye. And rectify all of my affairs for me. Nothing has the right to be worshipped except You). – See Hisnul Muslim – the Muslim Fortress – for more.

6) Then break the fast with 3 dates and a glass of water and pray Maghrib;

7) Have a light Iftaar followed by a focused Ishaa prayer.

The depression should begin to lift, if not go altogether from the very first day of the Fast cure. It will work if you do it believing with all your heart, strongly that this Prophetic formula WORKS and the degree to which it does work depends on how seriously you take it and apply it.

Poem: Going to Meet Allah

Rainbow over a beach rock

Going to Meet Allah

Where are we going today?
Why are we going this way?

What lies around the bend?
Where does this road end?

What is the sum of strife?
What is the measure of life?

How can we get free
from chains we can and cannot see?

We’re going to meet Allah.

Fear is a hurricane;
Imaan is a summer rain.

Hatred is a gnawing cancer;
mercy is the only answer.

Peace on me and peace on you;
trust Allah and we’ll get through.

Love Allah with all your power;
get ready for the final Hour.

We’re going to meet Allah, going to meet Allah,
going to meet Allah, going to meet Allah.

– Wael Abdelgawad, 2008

Inhale, Exhale, Smile

Waterfall on the Big Sur

The Big Sur

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

Smile. It will cheer your friends and confound your enemies. That’s why Shakespeare wrote, “The robbed that smiles, steals something from the thief.” A smile is a universal gesture of hope and welcome, transcending language. A genuine smile is warmer than the sun, and brighter than the full moon. A face that smiles cannot help but be beautiful.

It’s not so hard. Think of a place that makes you happy, or an experience that made you laugh. Picture yourself in a comfortable, soothing place.

For me:

  • Sitting on the sofa on a cold winter day, under a blanket, with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate.
  • Standing on a deserted beach at the Big Sur, watching the waves crashing against the rocks.
  • Bowing in salat in the first row in front of the Ka’bah…

Inhale, exhale, smile. It will soothe your spirit, I promise. In fact, Mark Stibich, Ph.D, a longevity and anti-aging expert, writes that smiling improves your mood, spreads happiness contagiously, relieves stress, boosts your immune system, lowers your blood pressure, releases natural endorphins, and lifts your face, which makes you look physically younger.

By the way, the photo above is from Julia Pfeiffer Burns Sate Park on the Big Sur, California. It is one of my favorite places in the world. The Big Sur is a 90-mile long stretch of rugged and breathtakingly beautiful California coastline, where the 5,500 foot high St. Lucia mountains plunge recklessly into the sea. Redwoods and sequoias tower. Sea lions and otters gather by the thousands. Huge waves crash into the cliffs and rocks. Driftwood washes up onto  beaches everywhere, like the remains of an ancient sunken city. The entire coastline has less than 1,000 inhabitants.

The Big Sur is the geographical end of the world, the final demarcation point of humanity after thousands of years of westward exploration. I have been to the Big Sur only three times in my lifetime, the first when I was a teenager and the last in 1998, but somehow I left a piece of my heart there. I often see that beautiful place in my mind, and it makes me smile.

Tell me, what memory makes you smile? What place warms your heart?

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Do not abuse anyone…Do not look down upon any good work, and when you speak to your brother, show him a cheerful face.” – Sunan of Abu-Dawood, Hadith 4073

And he said:  “Charity is prescribed for each descendant of Adam every day the sun rises.” He was then asked: “From what do we give charity every day?” The Prophet answered: “The doors of goodness are many…enjoining good, forbidding evil, removing harm from the road, listening to the deaf, leading the blind, guiding one to the object of his need, hurrying with the strength of one’s legs to one in sorrow who is asking for help, and supporting the feeble with the strength of one’s arms–all of these are charity prescribed for you.” He also said: “Your smile for your brother is charity.” – Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 3, Number 98

Imagine, not only do you get all the spiritual and health benefits I described above, but smiling is counted for you as barakah, and actually brings upon you Allah’s blessings.

“Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”  ~Mother Teresa

The Transformative Power of a Child’s Love

Salma smiling

My daughter Salma

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

I’m going to share something highly personal, something I would not normally share, but I see now that my writing on this blog is changing people’s lives, and that’s possible only because I am honest. The most vital lessons in life come from suffering. If we don’t share the pain then the message learned will not pass undiminished from heart to heart.

I have always been a loyal friend. I am the kind who believes in friendship as an enduring and meaningful bond. I am a trusting person, someone with a passionate love for the Ummah, a sense of outrage for the oppressed, and a deep faith in Allah and in humanity itself, even after all I have been through.

A Difficult Youth

My teen years were very difficult. I isolated myself from my own family, emotionally and geographically. For a while I slept in my car or in an ice cream truck that I owned, sometimes went hungry, even as I devoted countless hours to tutoring two disadvantaged children, teaching them to read and write. I would sometimes visit friends just so I could raid the fridge and get a bite to eat. I remember once digging some old egg salad out of the back of a friend’s fridge, then becoming badly sick. I collapsed in the street and was hospitalized for food poisoning.

My parents tried hard to reach out to me and help me during that time, but I was lost in my own confusion and determined to estrange myself.

Later I paid for a bedroom in an apartment that was shared among 11 people, mostly college students. I was often confused. I was expelled from the university three times, until something clicked in my final year when I discovered poetry and I suddenly began getting straight A’s.

Still, my life continued to be a mess until my mid to late twenties (I am now 45). I lived in difficult environments. I saw terrible things. I was attacked or robbed more than once and I was sometimes afraid. I experienced despair at times, and yet I became so strong, like a mountain, or a grizzly bear. When I was 27 I got a steady job and worked hard, trying to save money to start a business, until one day my roommate stole all my money and disappeared. After that I lived for six months in the YMCA, in a room so narrow that I could reach out with my arms and touch the opposite walls.

I say all this so that you know that I am not naive. I’m quite aware of the evil of which human beings are capable.

Those frightening years are behind me. I have been a working professional for many years now. I was married for almost ten years, and I have a lovely daughter Alhamdulillah. I own a beautiful home, thanks to Allah’s blessings and bounty.

As far as human relationships, I have made a conscious choice to trust people, to be open to other people’s hearts, because I never want my soul to become pinched and dark with suspicion and fear.

A Broken Heart

My divorce and the time following it was difficult. As it turned out, however, I yet had one more painful experience to go through. A few years ago I became engaged to a Muslim woman who I thought was perfect for me. Truth be told, she was someone whose family I had known most of my life, and I had always harbored some hidden feelings for her. Like me she had been through hard times in her youth but had come through loving Allah, loving the deen, wanting to better herself in every way and change the world.

I felt she was very special and I was so excited that we would be married. We spoke about sharing our lives, raising good Muslim children, and one day sitting on a porch watching our grandchildren play. We spent time together in halal ways, getting to know each other better. It was a wonderful time.

Sure, we occasionally had arguments. I sometimes said or did the wrong thing, and there were aspects of her behavior that troubled me, but I understood that no one is perfect. I felt that Allah was giving me a great gift, a reward for all my years of hardship. I was so grateful for that.

Then something happened, I don’t know what. I could speculate, but I will not. About one month before we were to be married, she changed her mind. We tried to work through it and even went to see a counselor, but the sister’s attitude became cold, sarcastic at times, even hostile. She seemed like a completely different person. It was a tremendous shock to me. After a few final humiliations, I walked away. I felt used and betrayed as never before in my life.

A Terrible Depression

The end of that dream, that beautiful future that I had seen not only for myself but for my daughter and the sister’s children as well, was a tremendous blow. I was shaken to the core. I questioned my own judgment and perspective. How could I have been so wrong? I doubted Allah’s guidance to me. Why had Allah done this to me? I felt like a shambling wreck of a human being. I could not even believe in friendship any more. At Iftar dinners in Ramadan I didn’t try to talk to the people around me. My friendly, trusting nature had been shattered. There was some piece of me, some vital component of the organic, spiritual being that was “Wael”, that was busted. It had been smashed as surely as if she had taken a hammer to my head.

For a few months I was more deeply depressed than ever in my life. I have my daughter Salma with me from Wednesday to Saturday each week, then she goes to her mother. My depression was worst after I dropped off Salma each week. On the way back, on highway 152, I would sometimes think about accelerating to 100 mph and then veering into a tree, just so that the sense of loss and betrayal would end. Yes, I’m a Muslim, and I fear Allah. And I have a commitment to my daughter. But when you are intensely depressed your thinking changes. I remember thinking that Allah would forgive me because He would understand my suffering. And that Salma would be better off, because I was not a good father to her.

In retrospect I know that my perspective was abominably skewed, and I also know that I would never actually have harmed myself. I’m too much of a believer for that. But even the fact that the thought was there shows how horribly shaken and miserable I was at that time.

And it’s true, at that time I wasn’t the best father. I tried hard to hide my depression in front of Salma, but I did not always succeed. I remember one time I was having lunch with her in the kitchen and in spite of my internal pain I was trying to hard to smile and be cheerful for her. I never wanted to let her see how much I was hurting. And suddenly she said to me, “Are you sad, Baba? You seem sad.” Such words from a three year old girl. Her words touched me so deeply that I began to cry in front of her, and I said, “Yes baby, I am sad, but not because of you. You’re a good girl and I love you.”

That is still a terribly painful memory, and one that brings tears to my eyes.

Elements of Recovery

I got through it. I survived because of three things: Allah, my practice of martial arts, and my daughter.

Salma dancing

The first of those – Allah – should be obvious. Without Allah none of us could survive an instant on this crazy ball spinning through endless vacuum. And for a Muslim, Allah is the source of strength. He is the refuge, the bringer of peace, the One who heals hearts. Alhamdulillah.

The second – martial arts – is a lifelong passion. I plunged myself into my practice of the arts, teaching or studying classes six times a week, and practicing for hours at home. When I’m training, everything else leaves my mind. I immerse myself in the motion, the physical exertion. It leaves no time to think, to feel sorry for myself. Curiously, lifting weights (something else I enjoy) is the opposite. During the rest break between sets I have time to think, and I find that weight lifting brings out whatever I’m feeling and intensifies it. If I’m feeling good and confident, weight lifting makes me feel like a superman. If I’m depressed it spills out like acid and cripples me. So I gave up weight lifting. Martial arts, however, is a medicinal whirlwind, a kind of therapy in motion.

The third thing that helped me survive was my daughter. Here’s the thing about being a parent, and you mothers and fathers out there already know this, but I’ll try to articulate it anyway:  you can’t afford to sit around feeling sorry for yourself. You have this little person to whom you are the sun, moon and stars. This little person who, when she falls and scrapes her knee, wants only to be comforted in your arms. This person who can’t sleep at night without your voice reciting Quran, singing a nasheed or telling her a story. This person who cannot live without you because you feed her (with Allah’s bounty), clothe her, and care for her in every way.

This little person looks up to you and admires you. She loves you more than anyone else in the world. She needs you as a plant needs sunshine. With a relationship like that, there’s no time for debilitating self-pity. If you can’t be strong for yourself then you must find your backbone and courage for the sake of the child.

Beyond that, this awareness that another human being is completely dependent on you, and loves you utterly, transforms you, because you are no longer the center of the universe. Your child is. That’s the amazing thing. Every other relationship in life is one where, though we may feel love and caring for the other person, we still generally think of our own well being first. Even the best friendships have an element of competitiveness to them. With your parents, you may have the greatest respect for their accomplishments in life, but you still might hope to exceed them.

With a child it’s different. If there’s a choice between feeling pain yourself or letting your child be afflicted, every parent will choose himself. When my daughter was younger she couldn’t fall asleep unless I let her rest her head on my arm. My arm would go numb and sometimes ache, but I’d keep still as long as it took for Salma to sleep. This is how it is with a child. We will give up anything to protect our children. We worry about them far more than ourselves. We fret about their health, their upbringing as Muslims, about raising them as polite and successful human beings, about their futures…

holding Salma upWith children, we become truly unselfish for the first time in our lives. We live outside ourselves. Someone else becomes the axis of worldly existence. We love someone else more than we love ourselves. As Muslims we are told that we have not truly believed until we love the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) more than we love ourselves. In that case, our love is expressed through obedience and following the Prophet’s example.

With a child, the act of loving someone more than ourselves is constant, suffusing us from skin to soul. There is no other experience in life that allows us – or compels us – to transcend the limitations of self in this way. And in the process, the love of a child rescues us. People give up addictions, leave abusive relationships, change professions, move from one city or country to another, rediscover God, learn and study, all for the sake of a child.

Once again I find myself reaching out to form friendships, smiling, choosing to trust, to have faith in people, to see what is good in the world. I find myself living joyfully, laughing with my daughter, teaching her (among other things) about the brotherhood and sisterhood of Islam. I do this not out of naiveté but because I know that she is watching and learning. From me she takes her cue and learns how to approach the world.

What do I want her to learn? To be suspicious and cynical, not to trust or believe in people? Heaven forbid. I want her to be a person of Imaan (faith). The Prophet (pbuh) said that Imaan has over 70 parts, and among those are love for Allah, sincerity, gratitude for His favors, being merciful to all creatures, fulfilling promises, having no envy or malice toward anyone, being just, making peace, and caring for neighbors. This is how I want Salma to approach the world, so this is how I must be, no matter how I may have been hurt in the past. It’s a choice I must make.

By our love for the child, and the child’s love for us, we are utterly transformed.

***

Here’s a poem I wrote last year, after I got through the hardest part of that ordeal:

I Live

Like a summer storm,
like a caught breath
tasting of spice,
like the sudden blast of a train’s horn

when you’re daydreaming on the tracks,
love came. My diamond,
my redwood queen, my lioness,
came into her own and loved me

for a time… And then
My forest queen
cast down my sylvan dream,
and sneered at my passion…

So I lived without passion.
My heart’s wings shriveled
so I lived without flying.
My promises were met with lies,

so I lived without joy.
I was run through the back
with a tin spear
so I lived without loyalty.

Darkness fell on my eyes
so I lived without light.
Purpose deserted me
So I lived without direction.

But I lived! And I live. I go on,
knowing myself, lifting my head,
amazed at my power,
jealous of no one,

amazed by my ability to heal,
astounded by the way my love returns
like lava, the way my daughter
hugs me and kisses my nose,

believing in me, loving me,
sure that I am the most important person
in the world, the most capable.
For her, I will be.

I live! I awake at dawn
and go on, shaken but strong,
titanium lining my bones,
fire in my eyes, and Allah

leading me, calling me,
forgiving me, loving me,
never giving up on me,
coming to me walking as I crawl.

Wael Abdelgawad
Fresno, California – 2009

Most fears are false

Mountain field with wild flowers

An Arab poet said: “I said to my heart when it was attacked by a fit of anxiety, be happy, because most fears are false.”

Life is not a rehearsal

River beneath a stone arch

By Wael Abdelgawad for IslamicSunrays.com

Constant Regret is Mental Suicide

You can look so hard and long at the door that has closed, that you miss the fact that another has opened before you. In the end you remain stuck in one place. That’s why it’s been said that regret is a form of mental suicide.

This might be fine if you’re Woody Allen, who said, “My one regret in life is that I am not someone else.”

For the rest of humanity (including myself), if you’ve made mistakes, do your sincere tawbah, ask forgiveness, then forgive yourself (and others) and reconcile with your own soul.

Life is not a rehearsal. You get one shot. This is your chance to demonstrate 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.

You can’t go back and change anything, not the smallest frown or wrong word, so don’t sit around wishing you could. Regret for the past and fear for the future are two thieves who work together to siphon away every last ounce of your will, heart and hope, until you are immobilized, unable to change your life for the better.

The point in between, the point that allows you to live positively and move forward with hope, is this moment, today. Doing your very best each day, moment to moment, is all you can do, and all you are expected to do.

It’s Not Easy

Someone said to me, “I wish it were that easy to shake off feelings of regret and guilt.”

It’s not easy. It starts with tawbah (repentance), then a commitment to change your life one step at a time. Sometimes a person needs tools and assistance to change, including salat (prayer), dua, meditation, affirmations, counseling or therapy, Islamic study groups and good friends. In order to do any of this you have to stop staring at that closed door behind you, and commit to walking through the open one before you. It starts with a choice.

For me personally, the four things that allowed me to move forward from an extremely painful situation in 2009 were prayer, poetry, martial arts and taking care of my daughter. Though I was simmering in self-pity and anger, I knew I had to be strong and healthy for my daughter, so I did the work. It took a year for me to get past it, but now Alhamdulillah I am wiser, and a better father and better martial artist.

For someone else it might be writing, art, work, going back to school, running, reading Quran, or dhikr (praising God). Everyone is different, but the common factor is that moving forward requires a choice, and some sort of action.

Be Intrepid

Do better now and tomorrow. Be intrepid in Allah’s cause. Live your life fearlessly. When you walk fee-sabeel-illah you cannot be harmed, not because you are impervious to pain but because every situation either brings you blessings or makes you stronger, and so it’s a barakah…

Abu Suhayb ibn Sinaan narrated that the Prophet (pbuh) said: “How amazing is the case of the believer; there is good for him in everything, and this characteristic is exclusively for him alone. If he experiences something pleasant, he is thankful, and that is good for him; and if he comes across some diversity, he is patient, and that is good for him.” [Muslim]

If you did not commit sins

Round hay bales on a farm

By Wael Abdelgawad for IslamicSunrays.com

The Messenger of Allah (sal-Allahu alayhi wa-sallam – peace be upon him) said, “If you did not commit sins, Allah would sweep you out of existence and replace you by another people who would commit sins, ask for Allah’s forgiveness and He would forgive them.” (reported by Muslim). This may sound odd at first – does Allah want us to sin? The answer is no, He does not want us to sin, but He knows that we will, and He wants us to ask forgiveness, to return to Him, and to know that He is always there ready to welcome us back.

That’s part of Allah’s plan for us. Allah created us with a certain nature, and the essence of that nature is free will, and a consequence of that is that we commit sins, and if we are believers then we repent and return to Allah. That is the part that Allah loves: the repentance, the voluntary return.

Allah did not create us to be angels. He already had uncounted angels to do His bidding. Creatures of light, they hear and obey, perfect in their compliance because they lack free will.

But Allah wanted to bring something different into the universe: a creature of free will, submitting to Allah out of choice. Worship and faith freely given are infinitely more valuable than that which is done without volition. The flip side is that a creature of free will can commit sins; he can be destructive and rebellious. The sweet and the bitter are two inseparable expressions of human nature. The hope is that righteousness and obedience will predominate.

Allah tells us in the Quran 2:30, of the time long ago when He informed the angels that He would create humanity:

“And [mention, O Muhammad], when your Lord said to the angels, “Indeed, I will make upon the earth a khalifah (successive authority/agent/trustee).” They said, “Will You place upon it one who causes corruption therein and sheds blood, while we declare Your praise and sanctify You?” Allah said, “Indeed, I know that which you do not know.”

The scholars have said, by the way, that the jinn had already been created on earth and had caused much mischief, and that’s why the angels thought to ask the question about corruption and bloodshed.

Notice that Allah did not answer the angels by saying, “No, the humans beings will not cause trouble.” He said, “I know that which you do not know.”

In other words, yes, this khalifah might indeed fail in his duty, he might cause corruption and shed blood, but there is something special about him that warrants his creation anyway; something that justifies his existence. There’s another aspect to him, something noble and even heroic.

When a person does a terrible thing, for example murders a child, some people say, “How could God allow this to happen?” This question expresses a misunderstanding of the relationship between Allah and humanity. Allah does not want us to sin. He gives us guidance and commands us not to do evil. But if He were to physically interfere and stop human beings from hurting each other, He would effectively abolish our free will, and we would no longer be human. We would be angels, or we’d be creatures of pure physicality like trees and stars, worshiping Allah through conformity to the natural laws of the universe. To take away our free will would be to strip us of our potential for true piety, bravery and even love. Would you really want to live in a universe without love? What a terrible loss that would be.

So here we are, creatures of choice. Earnest but obstinate. We mess up. We betray ourselves and others, we do terrible things, we feel sadness, shame and regret.

What is Allah’s attitude toward this? He condemns the sins we commit, but He waits for us to repent, and when we do He welcomes us. If we go to Him crawling, He comes to us walking, and if we go to Him walking, He comes to us running, as the Prophet (pbuh) reported in a famous Hadith Qudsi:

“Allah says, ‘I am just as My servant thinks I am, and I am with him if he remembers Me. If he remembers Me in himself, I too, remember him in Myself; and if he remembers Me in a group of people, I remember him in a group that is better than them; and if he comes one span nearer to Me, I go one cubit nearer to him; and if he comes one cubit nearer to Me, I go a distance of two outstretched arms nearer to him; and if he comes to Me walking, I go to him running.’ “ [Sahih Al-Bukhâri, 9/7405 (O.P.502)].

People write to me (personally or through IslamicAnswers.com) and they say, “I have done terrible things, Allah will never forgive me, I am doomed to Hell, I feel like committing suicide.”

This way of thinking is completely wrong. Allah will forgive you. He loves to forgive. That’s why the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) used to ask Allah’s forgiveness seventy times every day even without committing any sin (SubhanAllah!). You are not doomed. You must not take your own life, for that is the ultimate irrevocable sin.

Who do you imagine Allah is speaking to when He says,

“O my servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah. Verily, Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Quran 39:53).

He is speaking to you, and to me, and to every one of us.

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, One who sincerely repents of his sin is as if he had never committed it. When Allah loves one of His servants, his sins do not harm him. Then he (the Prophet pbuh) recited the verse: ‘Assuredly, Allah loves the oft-repentant and those who always seek to purify themselves.”“

Don’t kill yourself over your past mistakes. I mean this literally and figuratively. Never think that Allah will not forgive. Allah knows that we are creatures prone to sin. He knew it even before He created Adam and Hawaa, but He had His own plan for us, and part of that plan is forgiveness.

Islamic Meditation for Relaxation and Spiritual Comfort

Sun rays in a green forest

Islamic Meditation

by Wael Abdelgawad for IslamicSunrays.com

This is a meditation that a Muslim can use to relax and recover from stress. It is not a substitute for prayer and duaa, or a replacement for dhikr (remembrance of Allah). Salat in particular is the first duty and refuge of the Muslim. This is just a simple relaxation technique that one might use either alone or share with a spouse, to relax the body and release some of the worries of the day. It also functions as an affirmation, reminding the reader of the love and peace that Allah offers us, and of each person’s pure nature.

Settle yourself in a quiet place, in a comfortable position. Imagine yourself to be in the most relaxing, secure, peaceful place you have ever known. Breathe deeply in and out, breathing into your stomach. Recite the following to yourself, with a quiet voice, very slowly, but imagine it is being spoken to you by a voice outside yourself, by a voice of love. If you do this with your spouse, let one read and the other close his/her eyes and listen:

***

Your breath is warm and soothing. As it spreads through your body it makes you warm. It brings peace and tranquility to every cell in your body.

Let every cell in your body know and feel that you are loved. Allah loves you. Many people love you. You are surrounded by love and caring. The love is all around you like warm light, comforting you, taking away all your pain.

The air that you are breathing in is warm and soothing. That warmth is spreading all through your body. As it spreads through your body, it causes your muscles to relax.

Now the warmth spreads to your head. Relax the top of your head. Relax your mind. There is nothing to think about right now, nothing to worry about. Release the burdens that you carry in your mind.

As you breathe deeply, the warmth spreads to your face. Let your face relax. Relax your eyes. Whatever your eyes have seen that is unhappy or that causes you pain, let it go. Release it with your breath.

Relax your cheeks and your mouth. Whatever you have spoken that you regret, let it go, release it with your breath. It’s in the past and is gone now with your breath.

Relax your ears. There is nothing for you to listen to right now except the peacefulness of your own breath. Whatever you have heard that has hurt you, at any time in your life, let it go now. You don’t need it anymore. Release it with your breath.

Relax your jaw. Any tension that you are holding in your jaw, let it go, release it. Feel the warmth spread through your mind, your face, your neck. Relax your neck.

Know that you are safe. You are protected. You are in a place of shelter. You are in Allah’s care. You are in a safe place, a good place. You have nothing to fear, nothing to regret. The past is gone, and the future has not arrived. All that exists is this peaceful moment, this safe place where you are protected and warm.

Continue to breathe deeply and softly. Your breath warms you. The warmth spreads now into your shoulders and relaxes your shoulders. Whatever burden you have been carrying on your shoulders, let it go. Give to Allah, and He will hold it for you until you are ready to take it back. For now, let it go with your breath. Relax your shoulders.

Let go of your fear and your worry. You are following Allah’s guidance and that is peaceful. You are at harmony with the entire universe and that is peaceful.

Breathe deeply and softly. The breath spreads now into your back and warms your back. Relax your shoulder blades, and the middle of your back. Relax your lower back. As you breathe out, release the burdens that you have borne on your back. All the troubles, all the weight on your back, release them with your breath, and let them disappear. You don’t need them anymore.

Allah is on your side and He will always be with you. You have the strength of Imaan. Know that whatever challenges you face in life, you are strong and capable.

As you breathe, warmth continues to spread through your body, now moving into your chest and your stomach. Relax your chest. Whatever fears you have for the future, let them go. Release them with your breath. Trust in Allah; He is with you right now, at this moment, and He will protect you. Relax your stomach. Whatever tightness you have in your stomach, whatever tension you carry there, release it, let it go with your breath.

Know that Allah created you pure, with the purity of fitrah. That purity is always inside you, like a light. Allow yourself to feel it, to be in touch with it; let that purity come out, and with it comes peace.

Your breath is warm and soothing. As it spreads through your body it makes you warm. It brings peace and tranquility to your mind, to your soul, and to your heart. Feel it now spreading into your arms. Relax your upper arms, and your forearms. Relax your hands and your fingers. Relax your thumbs. Your hands work hard for you every day, but right now let them relax. Whatever burdens you carry in your hands, release them. Whatever private pain or shame your hands have witnessed, release it. You don’t need it anymore. Let it escape with your breath, let it go.

Know that Allah created you beautiful with the best of forms as He said in the Quran. That beauty is inside you. Let yourself feel it and believe it.

Breathe deeply now and let it flow into your legs. Relax your thighs. Relax your knees. Relax your calves. Relax your feet. Relax your toes. Your legs work hard for you every day, they have earned a rest. Relax your legs and let the tension flow out of them; release the tension with your breath.

Now all of your body is relaxed and warm. Every cell in your body, every part of you inside and out is soothed and peaceful. All of your body is pure and light and warm.

Allah is with you now, and He is As-Salam, the giver of peace. Allah created you in peace. Inside you, at your center, is peace. That peace is your birthright. Your breath is peace. Your center is peace. Your soul is at peace, your mind is at peace, your heart is at peace, your blood is at peace, your breath is at peace, your eyes are at peace, your hearing is at peace, your tongue is at peace, your hands are at peace, your feet are at peace, every part of you is at peace with Allah. Every part of you is at peace with yourself. Every part of you is at peace. Every part of you is peaceful.

When times are hard, and you’ve fallen down…

A single tree on a grassy hill

By Wael Abdelgawad for IslamicSunrays.com

When times are hard, when your spirit is low, when you’ve been knocked to your knees, or maybe just one knee… use that moment of humility to praise Allah, the Most Glorious. Then find something in your life to be grateful for.

Maybe you are grateful for your children, or your good health, or the plentiful food on your table, or having good clean drinking water that doesn’t give you diseases, or a friend who makes you laugh, or the fact that Allah has blessed you with Islam when so many are wandering in darkness and despair. Or even just sitting on the grass feeling the breeze, or a cat that sits in your lap and purrs… Find the many blessings in your life, the hidden sources of happiness, and stand up, and thank Allah.

Move forward with your head up, keeping your focus on Allah’s gifts to you, and your gratitude. Step, step, step with a grateful heart, and that’s how it’s done.

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