Saturday, 8 June 2013

The Dreaded Dress

Another beloved friend writes a reflection:

      I woke up after a long, deep, and well needed sleep. It was quite an okay morning, the same tired feeling I felt every morning, just not as dreadful as usual. I went on with my day as I would usually. Checked my phone, washed my face, brushed my teeth, got some breakfast and showered. This week was the one right after my special-time-of-the-month, and I usually have a hard time going back to my praying routine. Prayers were usually on and off after this time, but I eventually get back on track. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a very faithful person, and I love God and I know very well my duties towards Him. I try my best but I have some difficulty not letting this bloody world distract me.  I carried on my day’s duties and the dream I had the past night instantly hit me. The last thing I thought during my dream was: “Crap. This means I’m gonna die.” I remember an old friend of mine who once told me that in a dream, the moment you begin to do a higher level of thinking you instantly wake up, which is usually why the end of your dream usually holds the most meaning and usually why it’s the most memorable. I dreamt that I was in a gorgeous white gown. My hair was up in a simple bun, it looked darker than usual. My dress was A-line, flowy, but not puffy, with a beautiful sweeping train and lace sleeves. It was a wedding dress. I was not happy, I was not sad; I was indifferent. It was my wedding day and I was doing what I had to do.  I woke up from my dream, and I didn’t quite forget what I dreamt, but I didn't think about it either. I had things to accomplish; dreams never meant anything to me.

     I went along with my life, and the moment I recalled my dream, I remembered sitting between my mother and her friends a while ago, and they were interpreting dreams, somehow the topic of wedding dresses and getting married came up in their conversation.  They said that if a girl sees herself in a wedding dress in a dream, it means that she will die.  At the time, I laughed and said they were talking nonsense.  There could be a million reasons why a wedding dress would come up in a dream, either like many girls, you’re wedding obsessed, or like me and a few others, getting married is a nightmare. I could understand why such a dream would symbolize death to me.  But today was different, it didn’t just symbolize death, it meant death.  It’s not like I believed 100% of their interpretation, but at the back of my head, I thought to myself, “What if they were right?”  I mean I've never really met anyone who dreamt about being in a wedding dress, probably because they never lived long enough to talk about their dream.

     I’m not usually a paranoid person, but I have my moments. I tried to shrug the negative thoughts away, and go on with my day, but I couldn't stop. At first I wasn't so scared, I just stopped for a moment, and listened to myself, to my soul, to my body, to my feelings. It didn't feel like I was going to die. This pause was not the only one I took throughout the day; I repeated the process quite a few times. I wasn't freaking out or anything, but the possibility was there, and if it was probable, then there really wasn't anything I could do about it, I can’t stop myself from dying. So, I called my mom. The phone rang a few times, we exchanged how-are-you’s, I-miss-you’s and all that, she was at the mall with a friend. My mother was showing off the shoes I bought for her, and her friend loved them so they went to pick up a pair. At the back of my head I thought, what a tragic way for me to die on my mother, she’ll probably treasure those shoes forever. She was busy, she asked me if I needed anything, and I told her that I was okay, and that I just wanted to tell her about a dream I had. She was busy. She didn't really care much to ask what I dreamt, but I told her anyway. She didn't seem sad or worried though, she just asked me if there was music and clapping, and zaghareet (Arab war cry as I call it). I told her there weren't any, she didn’t really listen. She said “So, you don’t need anything? Khalas, I’ll call you later, let me finish what I’m doing.” In my head I was thinking “If I die, it will definitely be tragic for her.”

      I looked around me, my room wasn't as neat as it could be, and I didn’t have my wudu. I got up and did my wudu, and cleaned my room. I started the laundry that’s been piling up for the past week.  If I die I want to be on my wudu, and I want my room to be clean and my laundry to be done. It might be a weird way to go about it, but that was my first reaction. I wasn't shaky or scared or worried. If I have to go, I have to go. And no, I am not ready to die, not religiously, not personally. I’m still young, and I have so many dreams, and I have so much I need to change in myself for Allah. I always tried to keep my attachment to this world very minimal and there was always a war going on inside my head. But I am human, so no I was not ready to meet my Lord. I was ashamed, but I trusted God. I was worried, but my eman has always been strong. I made so many mistakes, and I still am, but God is most forgiving. I want to meet my Lord with a pure heart, good intentions, mountains of good deeds, and years of repentance. Today should not be my last day, but if it was, there’s nothing I could do about it, except wait, and make sure it happened when I was doing something good.

      I blasted the Qur’an with the voice of my favourite reciter. He began to cry halfway through the Surah. “This could be a sign,” I thought to myself. I listened and I let myself feel every word; I’ve never been this focused on Qur’an. I always loved it, but I usually would get side tracked.  “If I’m going to die today, I hope I die now.” I wished. A Dua kept going on and on through my head, Allahuma thabetny a'nd al soa'al. I repeated it in my head almost a million times. When I’m asked, I really hope I don’t fail myself. But how can I be sure that I won’t. The truth is I can’t be sure.

     Ramadan is so soon, could I really die before I get the chance to fast in the blessed month again? I felt so doomed. It was time for prayer, I renewed my wudu. It had to be perfect, this prayer has to count because it could be my last. While doing my wudu, I smiled, because I knew that if anyone knew what was going on in my head they would think I was so silly. I also smiled because I also remembered all the times I asked God to make my last living moment in my sujood. Maybe this was it, maybe God wants to answer my prayer, and maybe I’ll drop dead in my prayer, in an empty house, away from my family and friends. Wonderful. I prayed, and this time I recited every word perfectly, out loud, slowly, my sujood was much longer than usual, and tears flooded my prayer matt. I had to get up eventually, and no my life did not end in prayer. I studied a little, and looked at the beautiful green book laying on my side table. I missed it so much. It’s been weeks since I last opened it, and read anything other than surat Al Kahf. I brushed my fingers along the top of this beautiful book, I've always wanted to dedicate an hour of my day to reading it. I always wanted to pray fajr, make my dua, and read the Qur’an. It was a dream for me to start my day in such a peaceful way. It was a dream because the days when I didn’t miss fajr I would pray and go back to sleep, the dua would happen on occasions. I hoped that my dreams would count for something if I died. I mean I’m not a bad person, but I’m not the best person I could be, and God knows what’s in my heart.

    At lunch time I ate, and I forgot to say bismillah. What if I choke to death? And on top of that I forgot to say bismillah, how horrible of me. These thoughts got the best of me, I asked my roommate what she thought. I asked if maybe there was hint, I asked if she thought I could feel it. “You can’t, death happens so suddenly.” She was very comforting, and I had to pee. What if I died while peeing? In the washroom the dirtiest place and the worst place to die. Terrible. I hoped against it, as soon as I finished I redid my wudu, which is not something I would do normally unless I had to pray.

    My imagination went wild, would the angel of death be gentle, beautiful, scary, friendly? Would he give me a moment before he takes my soul? Will there be a light coming out of my heart? Will I feel anything? Will everything I’ve ever felt come rushing out of me? Will my grave be bright, and comfortable? Will it be as green as I always imagined it to be? Will I see Allah’s beauty? I hoped.

    My day preceded as such, I kept trying to go on with my life, but the thought of death kept haunting me. Scenario’s would play out in my head. All my actions had an outcome, every prayer was prayed right on time, and was perfectly mastered, my Dua was ten times longer than usual, my cries for forgiveness were more sincere, and my fear of Allah was renewed every minute of my day.  I wished that I could live longer than today, so that I could make sure that every day of the rest of my life played out like this. These thoughts were scary but they kept me going in the right direction.

     So for those of you who read this far, I didn’t type this big blob of a life story for no reason. I typed it to send a message across. Even though I could have sent this message in a shorter way, I just felt like blabbing. Now for the message that we all probably already know, but boy did I need reminding:

    You cannot feel death. There are no signs and there are no warnings. There is nothing you can do to stop it, and death does not care who you are. Death does not care what you dream of doing, or what you are doing. Live every moment as if it’s your last, live every moment with fear and repentance. Live every moment with the thought of Allah at the back of your head. Live every moment as though it’s the moment you will meet your Lord; as though it’s the moment you will be asked. Pray for yourself. Pray for yourself and for those you love as much as you can. Keep a prayer in your heart, and repeat it at the back of your head at every minute of your day. Purify yourself; purify your body, purify your tongue, purify your heart, and purify your mind. Listen to your soul, listen to your conscience. Listen to the Qur’an with every living cell inside of you and allow yourself to feel. Allow yourself to feel Allah’s presence and his blessings. Lastly my lovely sisters, and brothers in Islam, I ask you to thank Allah for every second you are blessed with, because it is indeed a blessing. Alhamdulilah, may Allah ease our pains, and have mercy on our souls, may he give us the light of knowledge, wisdom, and eman, may he protect us from the attachment of this world. May he keep us on our straight path, and help us overcome our obstacles. Ameen.