A girlfriend attached a couple of posters in her new year message to me. One of the posters says: "If you want to fly, give up everything that weighs you down."
Instantly, my mind recalled words of wisdom from the radiant and chic one-and-only lady speaker at the Sacred Path of Love event held in Singapore last December. The event was organized by the Sout Ilaahi group.
This lady speaker Hajja Ashaki Taha-Cisse is an extraordinary woman. At the Sacred Path of Love event she spoke on things which weigh us down and how to overcome them. "Overcoming grief and sorrow through zikrullah" was the title of her talk on the first day. Needless to say, a woman of her caliber talked with authority. But on the second day of the two-day event only did I realize she's speaking from experience. She openly hinted the grief and sorrow she has been going through since her beloved husband left her for the next world. When Shaykh Muhammad Adeyinka Mendes spoke about spiritual marriage, Hajja Ashaki who was sitting among the audience humbly asked Shaykh Mendes: "Now that we heard you speak about that (spiritual marriage), having lost such a partner, what do you do?" She was referring very lovingly to the special relationship, the much cherished spiritual marriage of 40 years with her late husband.
Indeed, this remarkable woman carried with her so much warmth and love. Her voice was gentle and soothing. In her brightly colored and beautiful Muslimah outfit, Hajja Ashaki at 72 was such a pretty woman. I learned from her biography (click on the link at the bottom of the page) that she undertook her second master's degree at the age of 69. MashaAllah tabarakallah!
Hajja Ashaki began her talk saying: "Life is full of trials and tests. They show up in our lives as disappointment and loss that can trigger feelings of overwhelming sadness and despair. In difficult times like these, when we have lost a loved one, when a marriage comes to a sad and sometimes hostile end, when we have lost a child through illness, accident or rebellion, the ache in our hearts causes it to constrict and pulsate with indescribable pain. We can become overcome with grief and sink into the abyss of depression. These are the times when we must turn to Allah the Most Merciful in remembrance and to Prophet Muhammad salallah alaihi wasalam, the mercy to mankind, in praise. Allah advises us in the Holy Quran: Those who believe and whose hearts find satisfaction in the remembrance of Allah, do hearts find satisfaction."
She then quoted several more verses from the Quran about finding remedy in the remembrance of Allah and in being patient when the goings get tough. The word patience is mentioned 90 times in the Quran, she reminded the audience. She also quoted lessons from her guru Shaykh Ibrahim Niass who wrote and spoke about "the four times in one's life: the good times, the favored times, the bad times and the trial times". That "trial time is not devoid of favor. Actually the trial is a favor of Allah. It's a favored time. It's not a rejection of His servants."
By seeing the mercy of Allah in trials and tribulations will help us deal with the tragedies of life. Allah is the source of all, hence there is no need to discern whether the trial is a test or a punishment.
Hajja Asahaki counselled the audience about forgiveness. And this, to this faqir was the most important lesson Hajja left us with before she left for New York. She said: Forgiveness is not so much for the other person. Forgiveness is really for you so that your heart will be clean, so that your heart is not consumed by anger or hatred. Forgiveness is for you. When you forgive others, it is for your own heart.
May I be forgiven for any errors and omissions.
Pic credit: The Sacred Path of Love FB
Biography of Hajja Ashaki: http://sacredpath.sg/2013/programme/speakers/