Day 6: Homecoming

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.

Coker Creek Village, Tennesee, where the retreat was held

10 thoughts on “Day 6: Homecoming

  1. Asalamu alaikum
    Yes, dear daughter(in-law), it’s back to the realities of everyday life but with novel resolve to approach living with a renewed sense of urgency and an awakening to the purpose our spirits recognized as the core of Existence all along (La ilaha il Allah). We needed this awakening as a reminder to what we should be focusing on as we journey. Yes we are strangers in the world, and by the grace of Allah (SWT) may we be the travelers Shayh Faras Rabbani referred to with a firm sense of our destination.
    With love

  2. And now again I feel like a stranger to the world (and happily so!)
    So beautifully stated! It feels like people spend so much time responding to things by rote, we forget to see the marvel in all of the things around us. I like the idea of visiting the world as a stranger in it, and thus being enabled to see everything in it anew and with wonder!

  3. So happy you feel the same, Deborah! This mode of living actually comes from a hadith (Islamic saying/proverb) from the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), who said:

    “Be in this world as though you were a stranger or a traveler/wayfarer.”

    Ibn ‘Umar, a companion of his, further clarified it by saying:
    “When evening comes, do not expect (to live till) morning, and when morning comes, do not expect (to live till) evening. Take from your health (a preparation) for your illness, and from your life for your death.

    I believe there is actually a Jewish proverb that is similar, am I right? I heard it mentioned in the film Ushpizin, which likened being a house guest during the temporary dwellings of the Succoth to being a traveler in the world.

    All in all, carpe diem! Focus on the important things because you never know when your journey is up! I feel like I’m living a little bit more now that I’m unplugged from the television, where I was zombied into a daily state of casual complacency and “blah”.

  4. Beautiful, jazaakillahu khair for sharing. My husband and I had hoped to attend, but it was not written for us. Insha’Allah next year. Thank you for giving us a glimpse into the retreat and it was many of the sentiments I felt a couple of years ago when I returned from the Rihla retreat that was in Maryland. May Allah ta’ala grant us the tawfiq to become people of the akhira. Ameen.

  5. Amin! Jazaki Allahu khair Lena for visiting and commenting–I hope you’ll stop by again and I pray that inshAllah our paths will meet at one of these retreats someday. We are planning to try to go back again inshAllah next year! So, who knows? Maybe we will see you there inshAllah!

  6. Alhamdulillah this has been a remarkable journey for you and one that was made for you before you even realized it! What a blessing! When we return home it can often be a let down but in your heart you know joy that you can pass on and also see the beauty in all things. It’s like a paradigm shift, a whole new way of looking at things from your heart as well as your mind. I wonder how did you hear of this retreat my sister? insh’Allah I will be able to attend one year soon as I’m sure every year must be an amazing year! Thanks for letting us come along with your sandal (smile). It’s been lovely! La ilaha il Allah

    • Salaam Sr. Jodi–jazaki Allahu khair for all of your lovely comments! I’ve enjoyed reading them probably more than I enjoyed writing the posts! I thrive on feedback! But anyways, I learned of the retreat because I’m a student at Seekers Guidance and am on their listserv–make sure you sign up and inshAllah you can benefit from their webinars, classes, and retreats!

  7. Dear sister-in-faith,
    Thankyou for your enlightening posts. I needed to hear this. Last few days I have been going through turmoils of my own and fighting my demons and going against the better judgment of my guardian angels. I forgot that I need to put everything in Allah’s hands and let him take care of these small self-created issues. Betrayal by a really good friend may not seem like a small issue now butin the grand scheme of things, it is. May Allah guide us all on the right path and give us the strength and wisdom to choose friends wisely. Which brings me to the EXCELLENT point you made to make Quran and Allah my best friend. Inshallah I will be on this journey with you. Especially now that I am just 7.5 weeks away from giving birth to a baby girl, I really need to get my priorities straight and become a good Muslim role model for my kids I enjoyed each and every one of your posts and learned from it and Inshallah have made a neeyah to attend the retreat next year. May Allah make it happen for us Inshallah. Till then, will prepare for the journey by getting my act together and making friends who will be there for me on the day of Judgement. Again, thank you sooo much for sharing your experiences. May Alah bless you and keep you focused on your goal.

    • As-salaamu alaikum Sister Maryam!!!!
      I’m so sorry to hear about the turmoils in your life, but alhamdulillah, Allah wills and is the Best of Planners. Amin to your duas–may Allah bless you and your family with success in this life and the next and fill your hearts with nur. Amin. May He make the dawn of your baby girl easy on you and her. Amin. And may we meet on the journey one day, whether at the retreat or another place in the path to Allah! Amin! Jazaki Allahu khair for your duas sis and just remember that Allah will always be there for you. He is the Best to ask, and the Best to help. Fa inna ma’al ‘usri yusra…

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