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Dec 01, 2023
By, Nora Taher Barhoum 

In the journey of being a Muslim, there can come a time that we realize the need to deepen our connection with Allah (swt).  I gradually came to this realization and need of this higher power as certain life outcomes left me feeling confused prompting me to embark on a journey to not only seek guidance but also improve and fortify my prayers with Allah (swt). 

It was a process that spanned years, during which I faithfully performed the five daily prayers, yet in hindsight, I found myself struggling to fully comprehend it's true significance. Life’s distractions and a lack of sincerity had hindered my ability to experience the profound benefits of prayer. There were times when I would feel like I was on autopilot, and times I prayed the obligatory prayers just to tell myself I did.  In all honesty, I wasn't feeling content, yet I still held strong to do the best I could.  

In the recent years, I had the privilege of living with an older and wiser individual who served as a guiding light on my path. Though at the time of this living arrangement, I had a resistance to the level of her dedication in prayer, which was out of pure ignorance on my part. Giving our dynamic, I had to alter a lot of my life to respectfully care and spend the quality time we needed as a family living under one roof. Although it posed numerous challenges, I considered myself fortunate to have been able to strike a balance between the different aspects of my life- the "who, what, and where" of myself, as well as the "good, bad, and ugly" of every situation. This allowed me to maintain a positive outlook and consistency in order to preserve my inner peace and be a source of stability for my children.

I maintained an exceptionally good relationship with her but I must admit that I overlooked and at times, unfairly judged her actions of engaging in extra prayer and supplications. I failed to recognize that these practices were not signs of vulnerability, but rather a display of her deep faith and connection with Allah (swt). I regret not taking the time to understand her perspective and appreciate the significance these actions held for her.  I realize now that my ego had hindered my vision of her truth and enthusiasm. Irony at it's finest had served me, and not only do I deserve it but now I am so grateful for her and the lessons learned along the way.

Things change and life goes on but growth only happens when you open your heart to what you learn. You discover that witnessing is contrary to actually experiencing. Seeming is not the same as being.  Belief is strong but does not grant power or seniority to any individual. As a Muslim, we acknowledge that our souls are constantly seeking peace. The Quran and prayer serve as sources of guidance and nourishment for our souls, allowing us to embody that peace in our mind and body. In this belief, we are reminded to nourish, preserve, and protect what lies within us, taking into account our unique life circumstances and perspectives.

So it turns out, that is all she was doing the whole time and I didn't begin to understand the degrees of faith one can experience or the depth of dedication as I was walking my butterfly trailed life, then I realized I was trapped within the confines of a metaphorical mountain that I needed to climb out of. So, with the most reasonable approach to my reality, to maintain livelihood, for the sake of maturity, positivity, patience, respect, love, knowledge, morals, values, fairness and ultimate service as a mother as well...I sought my ultimate source with wholehearted love because I believe in Allah, The Quran, the angels, the signs, the prophets and His revelations.

Life is both serious and delicate, and I found it necessary to separate myself from societal norms and embrace my own unique approach to navigate through significant life changes.  So I approached prayer with authenticity and patience and that is how I truly started understanding His 99 names. His guidance acts as both protection and light. It becomes apparent that He conceals and reveals what is necessary. Allah, in his infinite wisdom, brings light to even the darkest of situations and alleviate the burdens of despair according to our individual and authentic needs. He understands us at our core. His divine intervention is tailored to our unique circumstances, ensuring that we receive the assistance we truly require to embrace our own authenticity.