Sitting here with a complete stranger talking about your worst fears, your sordid past and shattered dreams. It takes a toll on a person. We are trained to run away from scary things. But today, this anxious woman was asked to face and stare at her fears while sipping herbal tea with a therapist.
“So you mentioned you stayed up all night ‘googling’ your symptoms. Did your research yield any results?” I asked.
“I kept waiting for the word ‘cancer’ to flash on the screen. I’m going crazy! I’ve seen twelve different doctors so far and they all insist I’m physically healthy and should seek therapy instead!” Hannah replied. “So, here I am!”
“I suppose, since your scans and labs came back clean, your doctors had to explore other options to find the source of your sickness. But now the question is, do you trust they all did their best to help you?”
“I don’t trust anyone!” Hannah crossed her arms and looked away. “I learnt my lesson the hard way, a very long time ago…”
He was her high school sweetheart and the love of her life. They got married as soon as they both graduated and after years of feeling like a stranger in this world, Hannah was finally happy, like she had finally found a safe home. Nothing mattered as long as they were together. With no financial support from neither of their families, they both worked hard to make ends meet. But as years went by, stress burst their beautiful love bubble and left them dangerously exposed to the sharp edges of responsibilities and frustration, especially after her husband got laid off. And, Hannah had to take extra shifts to pay off their debts.
“Can you at least acknowledge the fact that I’m speaking to you?” Hannah sighed during dinner.
“I’m hoping if I ignore you, you’d get the point and shut up!” Rasheed scoffed. “You make it sound like I’m the lazy idiot husband who’d rather stay at home and watch TV instead of finding a job! I AM TRYING, Hannah!”
“But it’s been eight months! I’m exhausted! I thought it was the man’s job to take care of his wife! You’re obviously following the footsteps of your father!” Hannah yelled!
The few words they exchanged turned into another huge fight, ending with Rasheed throwing his glass cup at the wall and storming out. Hannah sat motionless in the corner staring at the floor. That’s exactly how her dreams looked like now – shattered into a million pieces like this broken glass. It wasn’t until sunrise when Rasheed came back home that she finally realized: It wasn’t love that held them together then. It was fear. The tremendous fear of losing him and being all alone.
“Didn’t we have stew yesterday?” Rasheed asked still half asleep. That is all he seemed to do lately, out all night and asleep all day.
“Yes! I’m sorry! But until you find a job we need to tighten our belts a bit and start saving!”
“Am I in the mood for your nagging shift? Ummm… No!!” Rasheed said sarcastically.
“We barely buy anything yet we run out of money by mid month! Where does it all go?” Hannah asked.
“I can’t do this anymore. I’m outta here!” Rasheed got up to change and leave. Walking away was what he did best. This wasn’t the man she fell in love with. He even looked different! He had become depressed, irritable and scrappy, and she had been patient for way too long and it was the time for a serious talk! Enraged by his carelessness, after a couple of hours of him ignoring her calls, Hannah grabbed her purse and rushed outside to find her husband. But she took a fall down the stairs and ended up in the hospital instead.
“He didn’t know I was pregnant” Hannah cried softly, as I handed her another tissue.
“I lost the baby and the doctors informed me my injuries affected my reproductive system and it would be impossible for me to have a child. A couple of months later, Rasheed left too. I lost everything! I suffered for a long time; I almost gave up on life completely until I got married again a few months ago. I can’t help but think what will happen if he too leaves me. I just don’t feel safe! There’s no one in my life I can truly trust and depend on! I don’t wanna die alone! I’m scared! All the time!”
“You’re right! Trust is life! Without it, we would go insane. But it’s not something we give regardless of the circumstances. It’s very pragmatic, depending on the situation. You trusted your ex-husband to take care of you, but he let you down since he wasn’t working. You trusted him with something he wasn’t capable of doing. Now that you’re married to someone else, perhaps, you trust him to take care of you, but you don’t trust you can rely on him forever. You can trust a loved one with one thing but not the other. It doesn’t make you suspicious, or paranoid. It makes you SMART and proves you possess wisdom! I mean sure your current husband can run a whole company, for example, but would you trust him to fly a plane or give you a new haircut?” I asked.
That is when Hannah finally smiled.
“Trust is the secret to life, Hannah. Without it, we would all feel paralyzed. If we didn’t trust the locks on our doors, we wouldn’t be able to sleep at night. If we didn’t trust our coworkers, we wouldn’t be able to work as a team. If we didn’t trust the legal system, we wouldn’t follow the rules. Without trust, there would be no productivity or security or even life on this Earth. We would live in constant and utter FEAR! Trust is the essence of any healthy relationship. But before giving it, we need to build it through knowledge! You need to find out if that person is capable, honest and reliable. Without this knowledge, trust is obsolete!”
“That’s true,” Hannah nodded.
“Why do you trust your nose won’t go missing when you fall asleep? Or that the sun will come up every day? Or that the whole planet won’t run out of water and food? Who are you trusting to keep this whole life system intact?”
“Almighty Allah of course!” Hannah replied.
“But why do you trust Him ?” I asked again.
“Because I know Him . I know He is the One who created everything and He is capable of managing His creations!” Hannah said.
“But what if I told you that I set the alarm really early and I’m the one who commands the sun to come up every morning?” I smirked.
“Astaghfar Allah! That’s impossible!” Hannah frowned.
“Exactly! As Muslims, we all have an intact belief system based on knowledge of our Creator. The more we learn about His limitless capabilities the more we trust Him! This is why the ‘shahada’ is the first pillar of Islam, and it’s based on complete trust in Allah . The ‘shahada’ is the solid belief system we need to wash away all our negative feelings! It’s the antidote to fear, sadness and worry. But now you’ve created another belief system that you’ll die alone. Just because the people you depend on to take care of you can’t be trusted to outlive you. And you know why they can’t be trusted? Because they’re humans! They aren’t capable or reliable of being around forever! And that’s why your new belief system scares you! Your life is like the plane your husband is in charge of. You’re depending on him, even though he’s not a trained pilot! Of course, you’re terrified all the time!” I explained.
“Isn’t it time to depend on the One capable of managing your life, Hannah? Isn’t it time to submit to Him alone?”
Hannah’s tears flowed down again. But this time, her tears washed away the doubts and made her see the bigger picture she was blinded to. Belief systems are what keep us grounded, and yet when built on falsehood they can take us to the darkest places. Creating a belief system based on assumptions or desires or fears is no different from creating a stone idol and worshipping it besides Allah . True and genuine faith cannot be half way. It cannot be shared or conditioned. Because it is the solid ground we need to stand on before we start our journey to Paradise.
“You’re not alone, Hannah. Allah is with you. Every time He takes something you like from you, He will replace it with something you need!” I said.
“That’s true… When Rasheed left, Allah sent me a friend to soothe me, and her child is like my own. I don’t know what I would have done without them!” Hannah whispered. “I’m finally able to give the love I never got from my own parents!”
“That’s the first time you mention them,” carefully I said. “I can tell it’s a subject you try to avoid. Are you angry at your parents, Hannah?”
“My dad died years ago. And my mom is also dead. Or, at least to me, she is…”
To be continued…
How do you think the complete trust in Allah that we utter in shahada and try to live by help us be more productive human beings? Share with us your experience when this trust empowered you here in the comments section.
*Stay tuned to the upcoming parts of this series every Monday and Thursday of the blessed month of Ramadan!