A Box on the River. And Strength and Comfort to the Heart.

.بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Roughly two-and-a-three-quarter years ago now, I had found myself going through a time of what just felt like… major personal crisis. Crisis, crisis, crisis. It felt… inexplicable. Unprecedented: I don’t think I’d ever experienced the likes of it before.

I’ve been through my waves of depression before; I continue to experience them, at times, today. But… that time had been… something else. And still, there had been Khayr (goodness) in it.

When Muhammad (SAW) had received the first parts of Revelation, and when they had led his human heart to tremble and quake [it is, after all, a most weighty message: the Qur’an], he had run to his beloved wife, Khadijah (RA), a firm, reliable, intelligent, and loving woman. He wanted her to cover him:

Zammilooni!” [“Cover me!”]

And how remarkable is that? The capacity that those whom we love, have, to comfort us? That (quite feminine) gift, to cover, and to reassure, and to comfort. It’s a most human thing… seeking comfort.

As Muslims, we know that we are absolutely human. We are more than allowed to cry. To seek hugs, and warmth, and words of reassurance, and comfort. To seek to be wrapped up in others’ love: this is one way in which Allah’s own Love reaches us… via other hearts, other fellow people.

Allah records, in the Qur’an, examples of special people demonstrating emotion. The mother of Musa (AS), when she had laid her baby boy into the basket, filled with something like… anxiety, and confusion and uncertainty, and grief. And: Allah also Speaks about how He had comforted, and strengthened, her heart.

We inspired Moses’ mother, saying,

‘Suckle him, and then, when you fear for his safety, put him in the river: do not be afraid, and do not grieve, for We shall return him to you and make him a Messenger.’

Qur’an, (28:7).

Imagine: a mother who feared for her son’s safety, because of the persecution of, specifically, boys, taking place in that vicinity. And then: to be told by Allah to place him into a box onto a river?! ‘Rationally’, one may start asking questions: what if the box does not hold his weight? What if the river is not so safe? And: where… will he end up?

Do not be afraid, and do not grieve. Because Allah’s Plan is Better.

Musa (AS)’s mother had reunited with her son because Allah had made for her a way. She was to take care of him, as a ‘wet nurse’ (i.e. tasked with breastfeeding him) at the Pharoah’s residence. And: he was indeed made into a Messenger, with a weighty, and valuable, purpose. In fact: we still speak about him, and about his wonderful mother, today.

“And the heart of Moses’ mother became empty [of all else]. She was about to disclose [the matter concerning] him had We not bound fast her heart that she would be of the [adherent] believers.”

Qur’an, (28:10).

Have you ever been there, Dear Reader?

Feeling so much grief, anxiety, confusion, uncertainty, that it feels like your heart has become empty of all else? Feeling… distracted, and hurting. Your thoughts and feelings: they seem to keep going back to whatever is weighing heavy on that heart of yours.

Have you ever felt that feeling of Allah binding your heart, strengthening it, comforting it, encouraging [notice how the word ‘encourage’ has the word ‘courage’ in it…] you to have faith. Adherent belief.

And Allah will make for you a way. It might surprise you a lot. Like putting your beloved baby boy into a box. Think: Nile. Think: Thames, even. To the one who relies solely on his own ‘rationality’, that may sound completely… absurd, a totally fruitless venture.

An ornamental canal, near the River Thames

And Who knew that the baby would be kept safe? That he would end up at the Pharoah’s home, and be looked after and raised there, in spite of the ‘odds’? Who knew that an opening would be made, for the mother of Musa (AS), to reunite with her beloved son, soon enough?

Who knew about the weight of the pain in her heart; about the very fact that it felt like it had been emptied of all else?

Who knew how to give her the strength that she needed? And comfort?

And, Who knew precisely whom this little boy would grow up to be, and that his mother, too, would be honoured in mention in the very Qur’an?

We are allowed to feel our very human emotions. To grieve, and to weep. To want to be covered with love, warmth, comfort. And, also:

My nan’s advice, from two-and-a-three-quarter years ago:

If you pray [your Salāh] five times a day, at least five days in a row…

Watch how your life changes and becomes better.

Bit by bit, drop by drop: the river (to draw on a nice Moroccan proverb, there) rises. AlHamduli Llah. Things do get better.

Although we likely will still experience times of depression, emotional distress, and the like: we have faith, knowledge, five daily prayers to be wrapped up by.

And a Rabb, Most Merciful, Most Knowing, Most Loving, Most Wise, to ask for help and guidance from.

And: He Responds! Al-Mujeeb: the One who Responds and Answers our calls! Al-Qareeb: the Near. The Closest to you.

When the going gets tough (as it sometimes does. To be a believer in this Dunya is not for the weak, you know…) our boat, our box, our ark of safety: Sabr and Salaah.

Remaining, even when our entire beings feel weak, even when anxiety and/or grief threaten to sink our hearts down: remaining steadfast, firm, consistent, and balanced in faith, in adherent belief. And: five times a day, every day… We stand before Allah. Whatever we’re going through: we are Loved, and it is Known, and it definitely has Purpose.

Allah is the Knowing, while we are the unknowing, for a lot of things. And He is the Limitless, while we are so limited. He is the Ever-Living, the Perfect; we are the broken, the dependent, the frail.

He promises us, if we are cognisant and believing in Him, and in His Mercy, and if we keep our duties to Him: He will make ways out for us. Like when the little boy in the frail little box upon the river: grew up, and faced, by any ‘rational’ human standard, such a dead end. A sea. With Allah’s Support, however, a mere strike of a stick, and: the sea, in such a profound way, parted, made way.

يا أَيُّهَا الَّذينَ آمَنُوا استَعينوا بِالصَّبرِ وَالصَّلاةِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الصّابِرينَ

O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.

Qur’an, (2:153).

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