Jollof Chronicles: In His Presence

Source: Web images

Source: Web images

You stand in shock. Your mind races faster than ever. The truth hits you! You’ve lost the ability to pray.

You have spent a great part of your life learning and memorizing enough verses of the Holy Quran to guide your meetings with your Creator. Yet, today, you find yourself speechless in the presence of God and his angels. In your silent bewilderment, you realize that it has been going on for weeks, but you only just acknowledged it because you needed God to listen to you urgently. So you stand there and your mind wanders, lost in a search for explanations, a discovery of reasons for your inability to pray.

You think of your sins, for which you have come to ask forgiveness. You think of the many forbidden things your flesh has led your soul to do, hiding behind the cloak of God’s mercy and pushing you even deeper into the dark abyss of sin. You think, too, of the battles you’ve fought deep inside each time. The battle between submitting to the will of God and falling into the temptations of the flesh. The battle between preventing yourself from committing sin and comforting yourself with the thoughts that God can and will forgive you. You only had to ask and your bad deeds will be rubbed off your slate.

Here you are now, ready to ask, but that power fails you. Your mind lets go of all you’ve memorized and your tongue stays dry, refusing to submit to your will. You cry out but no sound comes out. You become frustrated, worried that your last hope is on the verge of being trampled into the ground. You call out but no one answers and in complete depression, you sink down. Your knees kiss the ground, not in the usual act of worship and supplication, but from their inability to keep you straight any longer. Your tears, usually flowing from a heart touched by the mercy of God and the remembrance of his greatness, now flow out of despair. You are dejected. You are lost. All your life, you’ve always been able to come back to God and find him there. When friends and family had abandoned you and left you feeling all alone in this world, your spirit was comforted by the knowledge of his omnipresence. Today, he too was lost to you. Not a word, not a sound, not a feeling to show he was here.

In your anguish, you hear a voice and leap up! You think you can see him. You think you can hear his familiar voice calling out to you and taking you into his arms again. You look around and see nothing. You realize it was just an illusion… of past times when he had appeared in your moment of loss; of the many periods of faith and hope you have felt in his presence. They had all become simple memories today. You wonder how. You wonder why. Your soul yearns for his presence. Your sins beg to be washed away. Your voice begs to be heard. Your tongue longs for the feeling of having his words rolled across it, released into the air to fill the surroundings with his messages of love, faith, mercy and compassion… touching hearts. Ah, your heart. You look for it, place your hand on your left breast to feel it beating and then reality hits you.

You had approached the Lord with a spirit eager to be relieved of the burden of past sins, only to go out into the world in search of more. You had entered his presence with the intention to ask for forgiveness, yet never seeking protection from further evil. Your mind was filled with all the things you would do after your final salams to your Lord. Your flesh was eager to leave his presence and find comfort in familiar ground, where guilt will be washed away from its surface. Your heart? It was just there; a part of your body like any other, but the one from which your intentions came.

You realise that you had brought everything to your mat… everything but your heart. Your eyes twinkle with a freshness of tears flowing from a familiar place. A place of repentance and submission; a place filled with the knowledge of God’s greatness; a place where faith and hope flow in abundance, reassuring its owner of bright days ahead of the storms. You allow your heart to feel, to release the emotions of regret and sincere repentance. You allow it to serve the purpose for which it was created. As you open up your heart, you feel its lightness as the anguish leaves it.

Your spirits are lifted and you can feel a familiar breeze. You can feel the presence of your Lord engulf you. You are reminded that, indeed, with him lies forgiveness for the soul that seeks it. Yet, you are reminded that He also guides who he wills and his mercy is infinite. He calls out to you and you feel a great joy surge through your being. You are lifted in his light, your knees regaining their strength. Relieved and triumphant, blessed to benefit from the mercy of the Creator, you rise and utter your prayers.

Emerging from the darkness and embracing the light of God, of life and of love, you respond to his call:
Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik. Labbaik, La Shareek Laka, Labbaik. Innal Hamdah, Wan Nematah, Laka wal Mulk, La Shareek Laka Labbaik

Here I am at Thy service O Lord, here I am. Here I am at Thy service and Thou hast no partners. Thine alone is All Praise and All Bounty, and Thine alone is The Sovereignty. Thou hast no partners, here I am.

And thus, your soul is set free!

Happy new month, dear readers. May it be our best yet, filled with the love of God and rock-steady faith. Do keep me in your prayers as I try to recover from illness and get back to work. Stay blessed!

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