For those of you who know me personally, or even via the internet actually, will know that in recent months there’s been a huge shift in the way I’ve been both carrying and presenting myself. Now, there’s many reasons why this could have happened because 2018 in itself was a transformative year in every sense of the word, but in my heart of hearts, I know that at the core of this change/improvement (however you see it) lies the death of my nani (grandmother).
Before I explain why her death has had such a profound impact on me, I want to share one of my own instagram captions from the summer of 2018 with you all. Some context here though: this was the first time in years that I’d not been bound by responsibilities of some kind or the other and was able to spend just over a month and a bit taking care of my nani.
There’s this feeling I can’t really describe of being surrounded by people who love you enough to not force you to abandon parts of yourself to love them. They love you despite yourself and if anything, bring you so much closer to who you are by cultivating a space where you can just be. I am so grateful for my aunt and my grandmother who are, slowly but surely, bringing me back to myself.
– 17th August 2018.
I left Manchester to come back home to London during the first week of September and I remember promising myself that I would take care of my affairs at home and return to move in with her before the year was out. But, of course, as much as I like to say my plan was set in stone, Allah is the best of Planners and before I could start shifting over in December, her health deteriorated within a matter of days.
Her very abrupt and unexpected demise made me realise many things, but amongst them are two that have shaken me to the core and in simple, made me fix up:
- Despite your riches and good wealth, the only thing you will leave behind after your death is your character.
- It’s all good and well to have people around you on the good days, but on the worst, who are the people around whom your heart feels at ease despite being burdened by sadness?
Personally for me, I realised that both of these things stem from my (lack of) emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Throughout my life, spirituality has been a wave. There have been highs, there have been lows, but mostly, there has been a plateau. But, I knew that if I really wanted to build up my character in such a way that I am able to leave a lasting impression on others’ hearts and understand which people truly push me towards the best version of myself, I needed to have a real shift in perspective. Which is precisely what has happened.
I won’t go into the steps I’ve taken or the things that I’ve done to bring myself to the point I’m at right now where my heart feels at peace because it just sounds finicky. But, I will however share what keeps me going on days where I feel like the lows are outweighing the lightness of my soul. It’s following the right people on social media. I know what you’re thinking because trust me, I probably thought the very same thing. But listen to me here. Whether we admit or not, we all spend time on the glorious interweb scrolling through anything and everything, and intentionally or not, the things we see and read become a part of our internal thought process. So, I realised that by clearing up my feed on most places (mainly instagram), I was able to see the things I needed to rather than those I wanted to, ya know? There are a select few people on Instagram who really keep me going, especially when I doubt myself, and if you need a wave of spiritual inspiration from time to time, I would absolutely recommend each and every one of these people/initiatives:
- Huzaifa Saleh
- Shabbir Hassan
- AbdelRahman Murphy
- Hasib Noor
- Faith Space (fairly new, but incredibly promising)
- Quba Initiative
- Arthur K Richards
This list is in no way exhaustive of the sheer number of people available online who are inspiring us daily to soften our hearts and be in touch with our faiths, but they are my select few go-to people. It is the little things that they post or say or do which fit into the cracks of my soul and fill me up with a love for my Lord that I’ve never felt before. So in a nutshell, I guess what I’m trying to say is, hone in on your strengths (whatever they may be), and use them to cushion that character you want to leave a lasting legacy of. From real social circles to the virtual ones, choose who or what you let in wisely because everything leaves an impression on us in some way, shape, or form.
I pray that every single person whose life has touched mine in any way is in good health and filled with love for all the days of their lives. I pray that the light in your eyes never dims and that the softness of your heart always remains. And most importantly, I pray that we are all on the path that lets us be our truest and gentlest selves.
Sending love and light your way.