*deep breath* ... *scratches head*
It's been a while since I've written one of these, and with me being so MIA - you can imagine how inspiration must be playing hide and go seek with me, right? Well... it has, and it's been doing a fairly good job at it! I haven't been able to find my inspiration for a while now, until yesterday when I came across an email that made me scratch my head. Literally, I sat there for a few minutes raising my eyebrows, and scratching my head while trying to find the words to reply to it.
*smirk* It was a nice email and I'd love to share it with you guys, but I'll skip to the part that had me thinking. *privacy naam ki bhi koi cheez hoti hai, janaab!*
The question which I wanted to pose to you (I'm sure you must have received this from many a reader) is one of overcoming heartbreak and letting go of a Mannat, so to speak. How do you do it? How does one know when to let go?
Now, some of you may ask "what exactly is a Mannat?" Great question! However, before I answer it - let me slightly rephrase the question and ask you, "what is a Du'a?" *thinky pose*
Du'a is the Arabic word for the act of supplication, ie. praying for something. It is a conversation between you and your Lord, a secret between you and your Creator, it is the act of submission and acceptence of total dependence on Allah. I've written a ton about Du'a in my book, Disciples of Ishq, *shameless advertising* so I will not ramble on and on about it here, as I've already made my point.
Now, back to our initial question! What is a Mannat?! A Mannat is like a Du'a, but it differs because one attaches a condition to it. Mannat is the Urdu word "Al-Nadhr," in Arabic. The English equivalent to it would be a "vow." *Okay... so what's a vow?* You're probably thinking of the few minutes of sappy exchanges between man and wife during a wedding at a Cathedral, right? "I vow, to forever keep you happy..." *smirks* Well, sorry to burst your bubble, but in this context, a vow is when one voluntarily binds him/herself in gratitude for some special favor prayed for. It is essentially, a promise to Allah. For example, when you pray for a new job and you promise Allah that if you're granted the new job, you will offer extra voluntary prayers, or you'll feed the needy, or you'll donate some money to the Mosque, etc.
Are vow's even allowed in Islam? Vows are mentioned in the Quran in approving terms. Allah says,
"Verily, the abraar (pious, who fear Allah and avoid evil), shall drink a cup (of wine) mixed with water from a spring in Paradise called Kaafoor, a spring wherefrom the slaves of Allah will drink, causing it to gush forth abundantly. They (are those who) fulfill their vows, and they fear a day in which evil will be widespreading." (Surah Al-Dahr, 76:5-7)
In this verse, Allah makes the fulfillment of vows as one of the reasons for salvation and admittance to Paradise. Moreover, in Surah Al-Hajj Allah says:
"Then let them complete the prescribed duties for them, and perform their vows..." (Surah Al-Hajj 22:29)
Imam al-Shawkaani explains that this verse means that one has to fulfill thier vow, and it is obligatory according to Shari'ah.
However, there are Hadith which suggest that Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him) discouraged vows, and described them as makrooh because they prescribe a condition to do acts of worship. For example, if you attain something you will offer an extra prayer, and if you do not attain it - you will not offer it. So it becomes an exchange, or a barter between you and Allah which is discouraged.
Since I'm not a Religious Scholar of any sort, I will not go into detail into the permissability of vows, so I'll move forward with the next bit of the question.
So, you're attracted to someone, and perhaps you're in love with them. You've made Du'a night and day to be together with them, you've made a Mannat that perhaps you'll offer voluntary prayers if Allah grants you them in marriage, etc. However, things aren't working out. No matter how much Du'a you make, or how many different ways you try asking for them to be yours - it just doesn't work! *puppy dog face* What do you do? Do you give up? Do you keep fighting for it? How do you overcome heartbreak?
*smiles* I have always believed that if you want something badly enough, you have to fight for it. Struggles only make you that much more worthy of what you want in the end, and (as discussed in one of my earlier blogs) sometimes being given something by Allah is conditional upon Du'a. For example, the love of your life, or a new job, or children may be written in your Qadr but they may have conditions attached to them. Attaining the love of your life may be conditional upon Du'a. Perhaps Allah has written that if you make dua on a certain night, a certain number of times, a certain number of ways, only then will you be granted love. Attaining the dream job may be conditional upon struggle, and perhaps Allah has written that only until you struggle for in a certain way, for a certain amount of time will you then attain that dream job. This means that until and unless you meet those conditions, you will not get what you want. To explain this in even simpler terms, if you die praying for a child and never have a child - it'd be foolish for you to be upset with Qadr. Perhaps children were written for you, but... *giggles* of course it's condition was marriage, and *rolls eyes* engaging in the act of sexual intercourse! See! In some cases, conditions are important!
Okay, so you've done everything you could. Surely, Allah would not expect the impossible from you right? The condition would never be something like standing on one leg, on the coldest night of winter, for 4 hours, while holding your breath and trying not to blink. This is when you must accept that you can not fight Qadr. Qadr is simply what Allah has written, and what He knows to be best for you, despite your dedication and persistence.
I used to think that one must remain loyal to what he/she prays for. It is true, you must - up to a certain point in your life. Imagine your beloved married, and has a child - should you still remain loyal and keep praying? No! It's about time you face the facts, and pray for peace of mind and heart. (May Allah grant it to you, if you are in such a situation)
We often forget that Allah knows what is best. While it is true that Allah has the power to turn good, that which is bad for you - but in the end - the decision of Allah must be accepted. Perhaps what you pray for, is a curse for you - and by withholding its fulfillment Allah is in fact protecting you from hardship. Perhaps withholding something from you is a blessing for you.
Letting go of a Mannat or a Du'a is as simple as leaving it to Allah. Acknowledge that only Allah is in the position to ever fulfill your needs, and anything else that you pray for. Accept that Allah does not withhold anything from you unless it is better for you, and you must know that if a time ever comes that it is good for you, Allah will bestow it upon you. After you acknoweldge all this - you leave it to Him.
As much as I hate to admit this, even I have prayed for things and have gone above and beyond for my desires in making Du'a. They said pray Tahajjud, I did. They said pray when it rains, I did! They said pray all throughout Ramadan, and especially before iftar, I did! In the end - I left those things to Allah - and Alhamdulillah I found peace in my heart knowing that if those things are ever meant for me, they will come my way. I constantly had to remind myself, that if something doesn't come my way, perhaps I am better without it.
*adjusts nerdy glasses* Sometimes we become persistent in what we ask for. To be persistent is a good thing - however, it can also be a bad thing when the signs are obvious. It becomes more of an argument between you and Allah. *may Allah forgive us* Essentially, when the signs are obvious (when you have done everything in your power, and yet you fail to realize that perhaps this is what is written) you refuse to accept Qadr - what you're saying is "NO ALLAH! THIS IS WHAT I WANT. GIVE IT TO ME OR I'LL KEEP ASKING FOR IT. WHY ARE YOU BEING UNFAIR TO ME?" *may Allah guide us*
Being motivated to pray for something is a stage that we all go through. We pray night and day, with the utmost belief that we'll get it. Then comes a point where we begin to give up, and doubt ourselves. We begin to get ideas that perhaps we aren't sincere enough, or perhaps we aren't doing enough - and we try even harder. Eventually, we begin to doubt Allah and we give up completely. *may Allah bring us back to Him beautifully* Anyone can stand infant of Allah on a prayer mat when he/she is motivated towards attaining something. Perhaps Allah wants to see, how many of us will still stand before Him with the acknowledgement of complete dependance when not given what we ask for.
When a prayer is not immediately answered, we forget one of Allah's most important reminder:
So which of the favors of your Lord would you deny? (Surah Ar-Rahman, 55:37-78)
We need to learn when to accept Allah's decision, and with acceptance comes letting go. Now, if I were to ask you, "when is the right time to let go?" I hope you'll agree that the right time to let go is when you feel like you're beginning to fight Qadr, and when you've done everything you possibly could and its time to leave it to Allah.
Sometimes to attain something, perhaps it is conditional upon letting go. Maybe that is the ultimate test?
Allah knows best.