My father’s recitation of Qur’an whilst praying taraweeh in the other room serving as a beautiful backdrop, until I realise he’s been repeating these ayat three times, each.

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Ya Allah, ya baba, aameen ya rab. May you and my mother forever be pleased with me – and may He the Almighty reward you with abundance for everything you’ve done and been through for us. For your patience with us, and your ceaseless love and care which knows no limits. For your perseverance on this deen. For your unprecedented taqwa, eeman, and humbleness. May He accept your prayers and hearts desires – may He grant you jannah unconditionally as you enter it without judgement nor punishment – may He bestow his infinite mercy upon, grant you a place amongst the sidiqeen and prophets – and make us the apple of your eyes who will follow in your footsteps and only serve to excel and elevate your ranks in the hereafter – due to the tireless and beautiful tarbiyah you spent on us.

reBirth:

We’ve already established the hurt of rejection; when you feel safe with the one person you chose to spend the rest of your life with through thick and thin – only for that to be stopped short for no apparent reason. It confuses you – you try to pinpoint a valid reason so you think you everything and nothing – you think of all the times you were treated badly and all the times you felt like the luckiest person on earth. You think of all the times you took him for granted – all your flaws and annoying habits – and then all the times you prayed for him and wept for him without his knowledge – just wanting him to be happy, to be successful, to love you endlessly.

You maintain your defense of him when people – shocked – inquire what happened. “But you never stopped speaking about him – you were so in love?” The words pierce the heart with the deadliest poison.
I thought we were so in love, too. But interventions happen which convince people to think and feel otherwise.

You attend an iftar with friends at the very restaurant he took to you to the day after you wedding . You fight to keep all emotions clasped within and hidden – but they overflow and before you know it they’ve reached your eyes. The atmosphere feels so familiar you pick your phone up to almost text him. Almost to ask him what time he’s picking you up. Almost to wish him a happy iftar. Almost to tell him that you couldn’t wait to see him when you came back home, and tell him of all the stories and conversations. Almost.
Every time a qari’ with a beautiful voice reads in taraweeh your mind immediately flashes to him – to the beautiful taraweeh prayers you attended together in Manchester and Jordan – the countless times you prayed together, as you stood behind him fighting to keep your khushou’ as you admired the pious deep-voiced man standing before you; the man you felt so lucky to have.

You fall into the self-blame game. Whilst people reassure you that what is meant to be won’t miss you, and that God’s plan is above all – that He will grant you better and heal your wounds – you think of God granting Him better. The thought of not being the best for the one person you loved endlessly, kills you. You try to mask your pain with smiles – with conversation, knowing deep inside you still wish all those smiles and conversations were meant for none but him. What if it were all your fault? What if your taking him for granted – thinking you’ll never reach this point, is what made this situation of you? What if you’re just a really bad person Razan, and you deserve no one as amazing as him.

‘Stop remembering the good stuff – it wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine – you know it’, they say, I know – but neither was it doom and gloom and I always knew light to be far stronger than dark – and more often than not light overpowered. But in light of all this, I understand now how the fixation on the small brings about destruction – and the dismissal of that which we take for granted bears us losses greater than we imagined.
My heart wrenches at the loss of a person I’d wish to die before he did, because the mere thought of separation would break me. The several times I pondered over whether separation of death would be easier – I always chose death. Because in death there’s comfort knowing you were separated by a force greater than you – and not by personal choice. That in the hereafter you’d be reunited in (we pray) gardens of ultimate beauty and peace. But with separation comes rejection – comes pain – comes unloved love and unwanted care – and a heart which continues to throb with excruciating pain.

But light. I know there’s only birth after the pain enveloping my heart – and perhaps the more excruciating the pain, the sweeter the fruits after the birth. I no longer want to dwell in the hurt – it brings back heart-wrenching nostalgia and an uncontrollable yearning to return to a life forbidden upon me, now. I want to excel and flourish – re-align myself in both the celestial and terrestrial – purify my heart – antisepticize the wound. I want to stop missing him, stop my eyes from crying every time something reminds me of him. I want a complete dissociation – whilst knowing that he’s okay. Praying that he’s content now and in a much better place. That he flourishes and succeeds – and gains all his hearts desires. That he distinguishes between the destructive and the constructive – regardless of the relationship with the adviser.

People have asked me if I could ever forgive – seeing the depth of my hurt – yet the questions which pose in my mind are – how can I not forgive when our Lord the Almighty is the Most Merciful, the Most Kind? How can I not forgive someone on the path to memorising the Qur’an? How can I not forgive someone who made me a better person in certain aspects of my deen? How can I not forgive someone knowing if I were in his place I wouldn’t be able to sleep the night – nor live my life, until I was forgiven? Someone who made mistakes towards me – but beneath all the mess and confusion – has a pure heart. I know he does. To act irresponsibly in marriage is grave – but time yields experiences, and time gives chances to repent – to learn – to implement. And for that reason, I forgive. Because hate doesn’t exist in a heart which once loved ceaselessly, nor does love ever vanish completely.

Lord give me strength to remain strong in this position of forgiveness, to not fall in pits of bitterness and despair. Lord make this calamity befallen me a means to reach you – and know you – turn it a blessing ya Allah. And bless him, bless him abundantly with all what the prophet pbuh asked for, and grant him the best in this life and the hereafter, because he truly only deserves the best.

Fifteen years ago today, Hafez Assad died

This day 15 years ago, a number of Syrian exiles rejoiced at the death of a tyrant – thinking that after 20 years of forced expatria, the next flight to the homeland was definitely and inevitably promised theirs.
I was seven when it happened. The telephone rang and my mother picked up from upstairs – a minute passed – then, a scream. We ran upstairs to see what had happened, my first reaction was that my mother had found a snake. But she was in tears, and my father wasn’t home – perplexed at her situation, we crowded round waiting for her to speak – she then looked up and smiled through her tears, uttering “Hafez is dead, we can finally go home!”

I wish mama, I wish.

Too much time had passed, too many friends and family had died without the chance to say goodbye – and for us younger ones – without the chance to even meet, too many people had been tortured – or had disappeared in Tadmur and other prisons – and finally, we thought – finally there was a silver lining. Things were so bad, we thought, they couldn’t possibly get any worse.
But six months in, and Bashar showed that if he didn’t have the capacity to make things worse than his father did, he was definitely going to uphold the Assad tradition of tyranny, sadism, and horror.

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I suppose I have no words for today, but vivid flashbacks of arriving at my flat for the first time and unpacking my bags – walking outside the restaurant hand in hand excited – in disbelief – that then, in 24 hours time, we would be wed; or that at exactly this time two years ago I couldn’t catch my last ‘beauty sleep’ before the wedding day out of both excitement and fear of what was to come, the new life I was soon to embark on, so young – with the one I loved and believed loved me back.

I thought this day would be etched in my memory forever – the wedding – which of course I had no say in – but still loved. It was one of the happiest days of my life then, and I suppose it still is if we forget of what became of a short-lived abruptly ended confusion of a marriage. June 9th. 09/06/2013. Just a few days after your finals, and two weeks after my second year exams. I had found my prince. He charmed me. The day was so beautiful – the weather was stunning.

And yet, today would have been our second-year anniversary, if only you believed enough – if only you loved truly, if only you didn’t succumb to whatever desire you mistook for piety – or whatever others were telling you about me, inflating nonsensical matters forcing you to believe you no longer wanted me – for having dreams beyond their barriers – ideas beyond their control. So the day now becomes just a flashback forcing itself to fade away, rather than the celebrated memory I thought would forever light up our lives.

There’s no respect in leaving, only unrestrained selfish desire.

We often believe desire is something so obvious – something sugar coated with worldly pleasures we deem ourselves too holy to fall into – not realising that desire is the absent of responsibility, desire is the selfish “I can’t do this anymore” when you know you can – you just don’t want to. Desire is when breaking the heart of a person who showed you endless, ceaseless love – even when you were driving her back to her parents house at the ill advice of a heartless people – is not met with the slightest tinge of remorse or regret. Desire is knowing you took everything away from her, whilst she never took anything from you – yet it was you who threw her away – you who weren’t honest in your feelings to her – you who broke the fragile bond she fought to keep strong, just to be with you.

To save humanity – to become a scholar – you need the heart and brain of one. Breaking the heart of the one person who loved you most, at the expense of following your dreams with no strings attached is not how a scholar would act.

But words. Words fall on deaf ears. Tears fall on blind hearts.

I want to lean on someone’s shoulder and cry my pain away. I want my heart to stop throbbing. I want my wounds to disappear. But they’re just getting bigger, they’re just getting deeper.

I have one week left before it’s all officially over, and the last week feels like the first as I realise – soon – my status officially reverts. Hope left my heart long ago, and the vacuum was filled with loneliness. Stealthy, agonising, loneliness. But I’m picking myself up, my Lord – He’s picking me up.