I'm not one to give up easily, to give up hope, that is. If there has been any value in the past week, it is that I've learned more about myself. I'm more confident now that I own my religious conviction. In other words, I'm not pursuing Islam to impress anyone, or for this person or that person. I'm humbled to become Muslim because I find great value in the spiritual disciplines inviting me to take refuge in Allah on a more than daily basis. I hope that the events of this week took place only to make this clearer to me, and evident to anyone around me who may questioned my motives for converting to Islam.
Not only have I seen more clearly than ever this week that my desire to be Muslim is not a passing phase, but I've also realised that I am where I am because I want to be. I am happy with my location in the scope of my entire life at this present moment. I am grateful for where I am.
I feel strength, but only in prayer. I find peace praying for those I love, trusting that Allah will answer our prayers in time. In the past week everything I thought I had, so much that I clung to slipped between my fingers, leaving my hands and heart empty. And I feel that the only reason I remain one piece, with some measure of hope fixed securely in my heart, is because I trust the guidance of Allah.
The most terrifying prayer that I have ever prayer is Al-Istikhara, a prayer of guidance provided in Islam by the instruction of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). However much is the beauty of surrender and trust conveyed in Al-Istikhara, it is these same features that make me nervous. Must I really say that I know nothing? Must I really admit that my own vision is finite and extremely limited? Apparently, yes.
Because in this admission, I am still able to maintain hope. This week was tragic because of earthly circumstances, something man-made that seems so daunting, there is no way for the human mind to conceive that these barriers can be overcome. But Salat Al-Istikhara, which I am praying daily, still gives me hope that even in the case that human obstacles block my way, if Allah chooses in grace and wisdom, Allah can miraculously remove those obstacles and carry out Allah's perfect will. All that I can do is wait and pray. I am therefore, doing everything that I can.
Oh Allah! I seek Your guidance by virtue of Your knowledge, and I seek ability by virtue of Your power, and I ask You of Your great bounty. You have power; I have none. And You know; I know not. You are the Knower of hidden things.
Oh Allah! If in Your knowledge, (this matter*) is good for my religion, my livelihood and my affairs, immediate and in the future, then ordain it for me, make it easy for me, and bless it for me. And if in Your knowledge, (this matter*) is bad for my religion, my livelihood and my affairs, immediate and in the future, then turn it away from me, and turn me away from it. And ordain for me the good wherever it may be, and make me content with it.
* When making the du'a (prayer), the actual matter or decision should be mentioned instead of the words ("this matter").
Lastly, I should say that I do not feel that simply any challenge associated with a particular decision should be taken as an indication that it is not good for us. I believe that there are times that good choices in life are made easy for us when Allah grants us the strength that we need to endure and overcome. This is different from all barriers simply being eliminated. There are times when we walk like the Prophet Musa/Moses (peace be upon him) and the Children of Israel through the sea on dry ground, and there are times when we have to struggle, fight, walk through fire, to get where we need to go.