Little children are sometimes the unkindest creatures to walk the planet. Their blatant lack of regard for propriety means brutal honesty. As quickly as they melt hearts with their smiles, they are capable of completely ostracizing or excluding another child for being different. A common problem in their tiny minds is figuring out how not to catch “cooties” off another tiny human, most often, someone of the opposite gender. They would talk to said individual and even maybe play a game but will screech at the thought of contact because of the “cooties”.
These children grow in body but almost always, never as a person, and roam the grounds as adults, silently afraid of catching “cooties”.
But only now, the dreaded imaginary germ is very real.
Hesitant to visit the sick for too long
Afraid of looking into the eyes of the poor and starving
Ill at ease in the company of those experiencing tragedy and heartbreak
For the cooties now mean more than physical discomfort; ill fortunes of others are feared to be contagious.
As with most, the cure for the worry exists.
When I told my Umamma(maternal grandmother)of a certain situation that I wished I never had to be in, she shared with me a one-liner that she assured me would shield me of all that I feared would be passed on to me: a cough, hair fall or even the fear of being married young. And it has always worked like a charm to quell the bubbles of fear as they begin to form in the pit.
[“Peace!”- a word (of salutation)from a Lord Most Merciful]
Surah Yasin, verse 58
Mentally reciting this, sometimes with fervor to protect myself of whatever it was that I did not want to catch or experience has worked every single time. I have always experienced a sense of calmness as though the chanting of that line conjured up a safety bubble around me, not unlike the ones they cast over Hogwarts to thwart Lord Voldemort and his creepy followers. My enemy was scarier than any insecure cloaked man with a childish need of power and so, I remained secure in the ease I received at remembering the verse and ensured to recite it for myself and all my loved ones in mind.
I recited it out of fear when I visited an aunt diagnosed with cancer, with horror when I watched a widow cling to her young children in grief, and vehemently, when I heard of a girl having to marry young and “unaccomplished”.
I remained secure in my belief that I was able to ward off all that I least desired with a whisper of this verse. Till this morning.
It was very difficult for me to concentrate on my Fajr prayer today because I kept unconsciously pondering upon this verse and how fortunate I was to have been taught this.
And then I remembered I got married at 19, barely having accomplished anything since high school.
I answered a late night call twice in the space of a week when I was pregnant with my eldest, to be told that a beloved aunt and then a cousin had both been widowed with little children under their care.
The vicious claws of cancer grabbed two more beloved aunts.
This realization hit me with a force so intense that I had to pause before finding the courage to get the English translation out. I knew it was about peace, but did not know the depth of the verse.
The verses preceding this talk about the elation of the deserving after entering Heaven/Jannah and reaping the fruits of their lives, and getting all what was promised to them. Then they would be blessed with the greeting of “Peace” from the Almighty, because that is what they would have for eternity after facing the trials and tribulations of this world.
How was this verse, as amazing as it is, supposed to help me from catching anything I feared and why had I not realized that my protective measure had not worked in most cases?
The answer lay hidden in the simple word of peace.
Albeit unknowingly, the assurance of peace after the trials and pain had kept me going and given me the strength to see reason and accept every situation I had prayed against.
This brought to mind something I had read about in Reclaim your Heart, by Yasmin Mogahed. She talked about the verse “Verily with hardship comes ease.” (Qur’an, 94:5) and about how the ease comes with hardships and not after or before. I would not do this topic justice if I was to squeeze it in here but the gist was to understand that nothing in this life is perfectly good or revoltingly bad; the aspect of perfection was reserved for Jannah/Heaven and Jahannam/Hell.
For all the times I uttered what my wise Umamma taught me, I was unsuspectingly warding off the fear and unease I had about handling the situation, should it fall upon me because that is what had happened. She had given me a lifeline when my paranoia threatened to suffocate me at the thought of any ill fortune or pain on my loved ones.
My beloved Umamma returned to her creator 5 years ago and all the “calamities” I described above happened in the space of 7 years but its proof of Allah’s infinite mercy that this realization hit me years after the pain and confusion. For had I realized then, I fear to think that my Iman/Faith would have been compromised at the thought of my “go-to-remedy” having “failed” me.
I had unconsciously been teaching myself to look at the bigger picture and reach for the reward of having the almighty bestow the salutation of “peace” and this I truly believe is what got me through my fears and change of plans that I assumed in my naivety, would do me no good .
I planned and I planned but Allah planned the best.