Sunday, November 02, 2008


By God, I cannot contain this feeling any longer. In Urdu, it is called "iztiraab." In English, it is "restlessness, yearning, anticipation." It is that state in which they say prayers are best heard. It is then that looking up to the sky when the answer to one's prayer is awaited.

But I reckon this last metaphor is a bit outdated. They say spirituality is evolving. There is no sky to look up to. There is now one's own self to turn to to get our prayers answered. I read this line from Urdu poetry that drives me to ecstasy each time I repeat it:

"Sawaal ban to sahee, mein teray jawaab mein hoon!"

Roughly, in English, this translates to, with a tone of gentle chiding or sweet exasperation: "Well, go on, become a question! I am awaiting to be the answer!"

Oh dear God!
I start writing out these blogs of mine when I am in an intense state of iztiraab (or ecstasy). When it is iztiraab, I decide each time I will put my heart out here. I will tell the world that I am human to the hair & bone, I get tired of what I consider sharing and giving, I need my sleep and rest and a gentle dose of love and understanding each day. I get tired of feeling alone and struggling. I get overwhelmed by my world, and I am tempted to run away from responsibility. But the people! The state of the people and their affairs! How can I run when I most want to?

I write in a state of anguish. But it doesn't quite remain so.

I heard Shaykh Hamza Yusuf on YouTube the other night. He said, "Pray in the state of Iztiraa___!" (OK I indeed even fact-check my personal blogs, especially when it's quoting other people, and it turned out he said Iztiraar. Now that's different; it's subtler and less edgy than iatiraaB. And now I wonder if it is iztiraab I feel, or iztiraar. God knows I am full enough to be feeling some of each, and then some!)

Bless fact-checking and scholarship! It indeed took my mind off whatever its state is!

And so it is iztiraar - "agitation, constraint, helplessness" - in which prayers are best made and heard. The Lord is the Lord of all creation, and Master of all states of the heart, and I am certain iztiraab qualifies just as well.

I prayed in my iztiraab and iztiraar - admittedly I am doing quite the contrary of good sense and despairing more than hoping. Silly woman, me. There are nights like these when I feel utterly alone. I wonder if my heart will be understood? I tire of myself, honestly, when I take the weight of the world upon my shoulders. But seeing people's tribulations and their misunderstanding, I feel no other choice but to stay around...

I think I have to translate this "staying around." It is obvious by our design that each human is a complete entity unto themselves. While I can tire teaching or educating others, I cannot for a moment assume the responsibility of even one other life. No. It's not possible, and it's not human domain. Our domain is to do our job - which can benefit billions of souls. Just as the Sun does a single star's job, but reaches out to trillions of souls - human and others.

So my personal, microscopic history moves with the history of the world, of the Universe, and sometimes I feel that as a burden. Tonight is one such moment. I am tired to the bone. I wonder when will people wake up? I also wish for love and compassion in my own life. I honor myself because I do not partake in the ethic of selfishness, and I am done with feeling guilty out of obligation to people with a sense of entitlement. All things kept equal, these people are in genuine need of their own consciousness, and may Allah grant them such.

I must resign from my management of world's affairs, and just be me. God, I believe, will take care of these people. Benevolence is the fundamental attribute of God. My work is ony my own search of excellence - of what is known as piety or taqwa. No more. It is beig clear on this point that will allow me to be of true service to God in whatever way God wishes.

May my iztiraar and iztiraab and may my peace and my sleep or the lack of it, may my consciousness and unconsciousness and clarity and vagueness - each living moment and state - takes me closer to Allah. May I see the Face of God, Who is at once the Most Manifest and the Most Hidden. May That Be First, may That Be Last.


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