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This past year was hard for me, I was living in a shelter, because I didn’t have a safe place to go to. I went to a residential longer-term housing facility. It was a private and safe place for women and children.
From a 5 bedroom house I went to a small bunk bed with a drawer that had a key and a lock. You really learn a lot about yourself – I learned that I was able to quickly adapt to my surroundings. I set up my bed, arranged all my personal things and put away my few important documents in the drawer directly below my bunk bed.
Then I sat and waited. I waited for things to fall into place so I could leave the shelter. The first couple of days went by smooth but soon the anxiety of waiting for something to happen started to make me feel trapped and helpless.
That is when I thought of the Prophet Jonah. He was,according to the Quranic tradition,swallowed whole by a whale. Inside the belly of a whale and in the depth of the ocean there was absolutely no hope and only darkness, but the Prophet Jonah held on to his faith, and he knew that God could save him. He repented and prayed constantly and then he was saved.
Following in the tradition of God’s Prophet – I too invoked God’s name and prayed the same prayer and called out God to help me to get to my shore. I was in fear and despair, I was alone and I felt like I was in darkness.
The prayer that I read was:
“None has the right to be worshipped but you (O Allah), Glorified (and Exalted) be You (above all that evil they associate with You), Truly, I have been of the wrong doers.” (Quran 21:87)
I read this prayer regularly and trusted, with every part of my being, that God was listening to me and that he would save me just like the Prophet Jonah was saved.
Thankfully, a month and a half later, I left the shelter and was able to come back home – I was, and I am, blessed in so many ways. While this past year was one of the most challenging years, it was also a year of immense personal growth. One thing that I feel is that God has opened my eyes and made them detached from material things.
I have lived in a beautiful home and then, the next day, I found myself homeless. I have had money in my account and then, within a few hours, didn’t have any money. I had a job, then I lost my job. I had food and then I didn’t have food. Somehow God arranged all my affairs and now I am sharing my story with you. May God bless me with His presence and His love, because that is all I need to survive.
“The love of Allah is a light that, if you are without it, you are in an ocean of darkness.” – Ibn Qayyum