Yesterday was a very bittersweet day. It was the day we left to go back to the “real” world–back to our homes to continue the journey on our own. In a way, I feel that we already were in the “real” world in Tennessee. We were doing things as they should have been done all along in our regular lives. The key now is to bring that reality back home and break down the walls of illusion that have surrounded us.
So now we are back home. And the illusions seem crystal clear. The glitter of the dunya isn’t as attractive as it was before. We have disconnected the cable boxes and TVs. And we are doing fine. Alhamdulillah.
You know, when I first heard of the retreat, I wasn’t that excited to go until almost the last minute. I don’t know why. I could give you a million excuses. None of them would matter, but the truth was that my heart was dying from whisperings to ignore what I already knew to do. Then I started to read Imam Al Haddad’s Book of Assistance for the second time, my go-to book for when life overwhelms me and joy is hard to find within myself. At the same time, I read Ethar El-Katatney’s Forty Days and Forty Nights…in Yemen which detailed her personal journey to Allah in Tarim, Imam Al-Haddad’s city. I never even thought about traveling to Yemen before reading that book, but I connected with Ethar’s struggle between the dunya and akhira, and I also have always loved the wisdom of Imam Al Haddad. I’ve always felt a special connection to him, and since I knew I wouldn’t be able to up and go to the Dowra program this year for a 40-day intensive, I settled on the Seekers Guidance Journey to Allah retreat. But I did not settle. This retreat gave me so much more than I can describe to you. Allah gave a gift to my family by bringing us here…an eternal one that inshAllah will bring us closer to being a more heavenly creation throughout the generations. Allah blessed us in immense ways, and if you have the chance to go to the retreat next year, GO! Even if you don’t think you have a chance, pray istikhara and make all arrangements to GO! We didn’t think we would be able to go this year. It seemed to be a 100% chance that my husband would not be given leave of work. But lo and behold, Allah had other plans. Likewise, you’d think with 100% certainty that all the listed speakers would be there, but Allah did not will Shaykh Faraz Rabbani and Ustadha Shireen Ahmed, the founders of Seekers Guidance, to go. But Allah is the Best of Planners and we still benefited from their knowledge and presence of heart via digital communication. There is wisdom in everything. And you’ll never know what benefits you’ll reap until you go.
I cannot wait until the Seekers Guidance Retreat next year inshAllah. While I hesitated to go this year, I’m already excited and can’t wait for this time next year, inshAllah. Likewise, at the closing program, we prolonged our farewells. The program started late and we kept talking past the time scheduled. We drew it out. We didn’t want to leave each others’ company. We became family. And we made a du’a that the Prophet (saws) made to reunite. I truly feel like I have a larger family now, one of shuyukhs, brothers, and sisters, who look like every kind of ethnicity in the world, but feel as close as being my blood kin. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani told us during the retreat via satellite that a traveler doesn’t stop. He/she may pause to rest, but they are always thinking of the next steps–the next move, and they do this with intention. When I arrived in Tennessee, I was a woman battling her complacency in life–a woman who lost some of her nur and drive after she left the comforting handhold of the MSA and the ease and simplicity of the single life. But I can tell you now that I am complacent no more. InshAllah I am moving. I am traveling. And now again I feel like a stranger to the world (and happily so!), and at home with the company of Allah. Know that wherever you find me next on this journey, whether in Tennessee or in Yemen or perhaps in some other place that Allah has destined for me to go, I am happy to meet you on this journey to Allah. And my heart is beating again. La ilaha il Allah.