I feel way tired today, and I’ve only gone through…

I feel way tired today, and I’ve only gone through 2 days of classes so far. lol. I think it’s the commute, because even though I’ve been going to bed pretty early and getting plenty of sleep, my one-week break from driving got me all out of shape. Funny how, for other people, “getting in shape” means working out in terms of running, lifting weights, whatever. For me, the phrase has more to do with mentally and physically preparing myself for commuting once again after a refreshing break. Whoopdeedooo… :-p

Anywayz, forget that. I didn’t even mean to start this post off with random self-pity. Self-pity is stupid (my new philosophy :-D). I wanted to talk about the mountains.

I love the hills and mountains. And, alhamdulillah, even though I commute to school I don’t mind the distance half the time simply because I have beautiful scenery to stare at for most of the drive. It’s so relaxing. It’s my “quiet time,” all to myself. Going places with someone can be fun, but it obviously depends on the person. Most of the time, i’d rather drive on my own, because it means i don’t have to talk, i can be lost in my own thoughts for however long i want, and i can blast my rock or Zain Bhikha or Dawud Wharnsby Ali or Surah Ya’Sin or anasheed or whatever i’m listening to without having to impatiently turn the sound down to listen to someone’s annoying attempts at conversation. And again, not everyone i go places with is annoying. But sometimes i’m still annoyed. And there’s a difference. lol.

But the mountains… Green, green, everywhere these days. It’s like they envelope you as you drive through. They dominate the landscape and fill the sky, yet still look so serene and peaceful instead of dark and threatening. It’s an interesting combination: our upper-middle-class/affluent East Bay cities juxtaposed with the simple yet dynamic illustration of Allah’s creation in the form of our infamous mountains. When I was little and we used to drive from the Bay to Sacramento to visit what I call the the psycho soap opera drama family (you would call them…relatives. lol), I used to gaze wistfully out the car window and dream about living in the hills when I grew up. And I don’t mean a house in the hills, either. I meant, just live there. I must have been about 8-9 years old then, because I remember my dream of living in the mountains was influenced for the most part by this thick book I read in third grade, called My Side of the Mountain, which was the story of a kid named Sam who ran away from home to go live in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York for a year, fashioning a new home for himself in a hollow tree, with only a falcon and a weasel for company. I liked that book, yo. And every time our car wound through the hills to get to Sac-Town, I’d press my face against the glass and dream about living all alone in the mountains and roaming up and down them as I willed. Shoot, it’d be pretty awesome to do that even now…go pitch a tent on the side of a mountain and somehow survive through simplifying my life to the fullest extent. Man, I wish…

But, hey, at least I still have my mountains all around me, everyday.

Ya Allah, thank You for granting me the joy of looking out the windows of my home and seeing the mountains everyday. Thank You for the blessing of being raised in the Bay, and after we moved away and I gave up all hope of ever returning, thank You for answering my childish, self-indulgent prayers and allowing us to come back to live in my childhood home. Thank You for gifting me with the ability to appreciate Your majesty and the beauty of Your creations every time I gaze at the mountains. If it be Your will, please allow me the joy of remaining in the Bay forever; otherwise, grant me the capacity to acknowledge and be thankful for the beauty You have blessed this world with wherever I may go. Ameen.

There, that’s my garbled du’a for myself. I’m not much in the habit of offering du’as for myself, except during finals week, of course. ;) I vaguely recall reading a hadith back when I lived in Pakistan that said something to the effect that one receives so much more thawaab in making du’a for others. I think it was a hadith about Hadrat Umar (RA), who, at the end of each salah he performed, would make du’a for everyone he knew, but always neglected to ask anything from Allah swt for himself. If I got the hadith wrong, please correct me. And if you know the exact wording, please post it for me. Jazak’Allah.

My family is big on du’as. It’s kind of a given in our household. When the 3 of us were really little, it was our habit to join our hands together, and then pile our hands over our dad’s. It’s like those Russian dolls…one stacked inside the other, big to small, culminating in the tiniest one inside. It used to be our dad’s large hands, then me, Nasser, and Shereen stacking our chubby little hands on top of his. A pile of hands, joined in du’a. One of my earliest memories is of the 3 of us doing du’a with our father. We were sitting in our living room, and I remember looking down at our hands and marveling how like a bowl each pair of hands seemed, joined as they were in preparation for du’a. And I looked up and asked, “Daddy, why do we make our hands like bowls when we do du’a?” He opened his mouth to reply but, before he could speak, I answered my own question with childish eagerness, “Oh! I know! It’s so when Allah sends us blessings, they fly right down into the bowl so we can catch them easily and not lose them!” I don’t remember my dad’s reply…he probably laughed and agreed with my explanation. But even now, every time I join my hands together to make du’a, I still recall the excitement with which I processed that thought: the hands as bowls, fashioned to receive blessings from Allah.

In our family, we have what we call the “short du’a” and the “long du’a.” The short du’a is recited at mealtimes and when we drive to somewhere close by our home. It consists of Surah al-Fatihah, Surah Ikhlas, and the Aqeedah.*

*the Aqeedah: Aamantu bil’lahi, wa malaa’ikatihee, wa kutubihee, wa rusulihee, wa’l yaum al’akhiri, wa’l qadri khayri’hee, wa shar’rihee, min al’lahi ta’alah, wal baath’i baad al’mauwth…I believe in Allah, and His angels, and His Books, and His messengers, and in the Last Day, and that everything good and bad is from Allah, and in all the rest that comes after death.

We recite the long du’a primarily when we’re driving somewhere further from home, which basically means when we go anywhere beyond our hometown. The long du’a is Surah al-Fatihah, Surah Ikhlas, the Aqeedah, Surah al-Baqarah:verse 21 (rabbana aathina fi’dunya hasanat’tan wa fil akhiri hasanat’an, wa kina azaab an’naar: Oh, our Lord! Grant us good in this world, good in the Hereafter, and protect us from the hell-fire), Surah al-Baqarah:verse 286, the Dua-i-Janaazah, and Surah al Baqarah:verse 255 (Ayat-al-Kursi). It’s not really as long as it seems. Three or four minutes, maybe. Du’a is the first thing we take care of as soon as we get in the car. It’s another given. When I’m on my own, as for example in the mornings while i’m heading up to school, I recite Surah Ikhlas 3 times, and add on Surahs al-Falaq and An-Nas and and the next two ayaat that follow Ayat-al-Kursi.

And then we have a round of “Shaabaash‘s.” LOL! I guess that started when we were little and our dad wanted to praise us for learning the du’a correctly, so he would say, “Shaabaash!” to each of us, all proudly, whenever we got it right. And it just stuck. So even now, if we go anywhere as a family, there’s a string of five “Shaabaash‘s” at the end of our du’a. The craziest is whenever the cousins are with us…it’ll be like 32948902842 (okok, maybe 7-8) people in one car, and the “Shaabaash‘s” just seem to go one forever then. lol. Cute, very cute. What can i say.

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