I remember 2012 really well.
The year I decided to wear the hijab.
It was such a new experience. Something was overwhelmingly lifting my heart from the day to day worries I usually had. Despite doing my honours that year, I was super calm and composed – way more so than the wreck I was whilst completing my Pass Degree.
Committing to this concept- the concept of modesty inwardly and outwardly – was absolutely liberating for me because it just made sense and sat well with my heart.
I was suddenly thinking before I let words come out of my mouth; my tongue was no longer on autopilot attacking whatever it pleased. I was suddenly looking at people and actually looking at them; the fine lines that show the worry and exhaustion from daily life, the squinting eyes and big smile when someone pays them an honest compliment. I was walking alongside Allah’s other creations; the jacaranda trees that spoilt the Kensington pavements with their purple delights and the huge vast skies, a display of His Majesty without fail.
It really felt like just keeping me on a lower profile, physically and as a spillover from that, emotionally, enabled the other elements around me shine brighter than before. To my benefit.
That year was the year of my iman rush.
The Iman Rush
It’s when Allah swt blesses you with a sudden, seemingly effortless urge and ability to do good deeds, to see the dunya for what it is, and to strive sincerely for Him. Your relationships suddenly become more meaningful because you’re finally listening, helping and loving. Your daily tasks completed, and you still have time for qiyaam, Quran and zikr. Your love for the Quran blossoms and you keep going back to it for guidance and when you read a verse, you read each and every word.
It’s an amazing feeling.
I’m married, I have a beautiful son, a hardworking husband and a pretty house. I have close friends that, even though aren’t near, always keep in touch. I’m on maternity leave hence have more time to work on “what matters” – family and self improvement.
But I find myself somewhat disconnected. Somewhat struggling to find the inner peace and willpower to improve.
My more sympathetic girlfriends will tell me “You just became a mom, babe. Cut yourself some slack”
Thank you, darlings.
But I just know that I’ve been slacking way too much to be cutting myself some slack. It’s not just about the sudden demands of having to be on call for another human being 24/7. It’s not just about trying to be a personable and pretty wife, while keeping the house in check.
It’s about that khusyoo’ that was once there.
It’s about the yearning to memorise one more ayat before bed.
It’s about the awe I felt when I looked up at the sky, and saw not just the sky, but His creation and His perfection.
Wait. When was the last time I looked up at the sky?
I need to get fit – physically and spiritually
It dawned upon me one day, as I was doing some Kayla workouts, that I needed to train and workout just as hard, for my iman.
Fine, there was an iman rush. Just like the first year I experienced the joys of jogging and running. But weren’t there days that I just did-not-want-to-run. Of course there were. What did I do? I forced myself out of bed, washed my face, put on my running gear, and went out. I would walk first. And then after 1 km, I would slow jog, then the next km I would jog, and the last km I would run.
I built up my stamina slowly but surely, and practiced utmost discipline.
Even after giving birth, I was so determined to get back to my pre-baby physique, that I started training.
I realised then, as I was Kayla-ing it out, that I needed to start an iman-building regime. Just as how I would approach my workouts and diet, I needed to do that for my iman.
You don’t get fit just by lazing around and not having a plan.
I needed a plan.
So I created a regime that would start out easy, and progress week by week (for some actions it was month by month: like getting up exactly when fajr starts to waking up for qiyaam).
I started to push myself, even if the last thing I felt like doing as I lay down for the night, was to memorise an ayat, I would just open the Quran app on my phone and at least read. And reading (sometimes) led to memorising the ayat itself, which then (sometimes) led to memorising the translation.
Just as I needed to concentrate on my form when working out, I started to concentrate on my salah; the individual moves, and I would then try to appreciate the relevance of what I was reciting to the said moves, and so on and so forth.
Until one night, I was in sujood, and feeling utterly humbled and felt an all too familiar, but missed, rush.
Who would’ve thought, that me exercising and trying to improve physically would lead me to this?
He has truly made the physical world and spiritual reality seamless to each other. If only we reflected.