April 28, 2009

FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT

By Ayesha Qureshi

THE BEGINNING OF THE JOURNEY

It was in Ramadan of 1999, that my post-teen life took an absolute U-turn. What I mean is a total spiritual and mental awakening and discovery of myself and the purpose of my life. I owe unlimited thanks to Allah and also the means by which He granted me this favor Al-Huda.

RAMADAN – THE MONTH OF MIRACLES

Coming back to the U-turn, it took place in a most unlikely place-the pool side of a 5 star hotel where my mother took me one morning to attend Daura-e-Quran of one Dr. Farhat Hashmi. I was curious, hungry, tired- not a very viable listener. But very soon the captivating voice of this lady reciting the Quran in a manner I had never heard before brought the whole scene to life. After that, I was caught up in the powerful current of Allah’s words and the softly, lovingly uttered interpretation by this lady who radiated energy like the sun. I tried not to miss a day after that. Ramadan gained a new spiritual significance for me. I decided I had to find out more and should complete my B-com later and join the one year diploma course that was starting for the first time in Karachi.

IS DEEN FOR YOU AND ME?

I was a bit skeptical in the beginning but gradually I saw the unusual working style of the people in this institution. Until now I had always run away from Deen (and the word Dars) because it has become so over-burdened, polluted and scary over the years. Al-Huda breaks it down to the basic, the direct words of Allah and their practical demonstration by Prophet (SAW). This actual Deen turned out to be east and lovable and not at all something to run away from.

NOT JUST KNOWLEDGE BUT ALLAH’S LOVE

Not one day we were forced to do something (like cover ourselves) but so intensely was the love of Allah and the fear for the Hereafter aroused in our hearts (that strange combination of hope and fear in the Quran) that we ourselves changed slowly. It was a conscious, unhypocritical choice. So it remains constant and satisfying.

THE FIRST STEP

I remember the first day in class, a chilly January morning, when all of us gathered again after Eid to begin our journey into the Quran. We were new and jittery, on the threshold of an unknown world, so on the teacher’s initiative all of us (500 or so women) asked Allah’s help by offering two rakah salat.

ALLAH’S HELP

Then there was no looking back. Completely engrossed in our challenging studies, we jumped hurdles and hopped hotels- going from pool sides to ballrooms, to parking lots, sitting under trees and tents – finally ending up on the 7th floor of the Metro Shopping Mall. There had been days when we all thought there could be no class today but Allah always helped us out, even on the day we sat on the 7th floor without any walls around us! All along our teacher’s strength of vision and conviction inspired us to scramble on. She would sit and teach us even without a fan and air-conditioner and made us realize what was really important and how much we could achieve if only we tried. Slowly the class stabilized.

THE POWER OF THE QURAN

Every day the teacher takes us on a mind journey into the Quran. Together we explore the ayahs and feel them touching the cores of our hearts. The Quran is for us. It talks to each one of us individually. Every day it gives each one of us a message. So many people like me have related incredulously that they came to class with a certain query or anxiety in their mind and the Quran answered it miraculously the very same day. There are small miracles strengthening our faith daily. Many a times the verses in the Quran coincide with something happening before us at that very moment. The Quran is a miracle in every sense of the word and sitting in that same room it has changed the lives (to different extents) of every person  who listens to it. No one has returned completely empty handed or unmoved. Every heart has gravitated to the Lord’s speech, every eye wet from the Qari’s heart-rending recitation at the end of class. Every day brings a new excitement  for us. What new thing would the Quran tell us today? We feel like it is being revealed to us now.  Then there are the discussions and personal experiences are related that further clarify concepts. Relating the Quran to our daily life has helped us realize its actual worth as a Book of Guidance.

QURAN CHANGES HEART

For a girl who has never been regular in anything except irregularity, it is amazing to see how far we have come. Our personal, social, spiritual and physical aspects of life have improved. Our relations with other people have become more meaningful. The best thing is the change in attitude and the practical application of tolerance, compassion and self control that the Quran teaches. What the Quran has developed is that change of heart, God-consciousness (taqwa) that demands good even in solitude when no human eyes can see us. And there lies the cure of all social evils rampant today. Because without this inner change, all rules, laws calls for human rights fail to ring true and take effect and people cheat the moment they are not watched.

WHO SAYS THE QURAN IS OUTDATED!

The Quran is the key to success as has been proven by history, time and time again. Now I dread the day when this class ends. But as we know the Quran never ends but its end is only a new beginning. So I pray that Allah may give everyone a chance to learn the Quran the way we have. After years of not knowing which subjects I wanted to study, I found them all embodied in the Quran-poetry, history, science, ethics and psychology. Islam lays great importance on acquiring worldly education, but sometime must also be given to study this special Book that the Creator of the universe sent down for us, this manual to live our lives in a better, more fulfilling manner, the way to find Allah and eternal peace, the best Book in the world.

Allah Ta’ala asks “And we have indeed made the Quran easy to understand and remember: then is there any that will receive admonition?” (Qamar: 17)

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