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By Khudeja Sattar (Integrative Counsellor/Psychotherapist)

I await eagerly when there is rain; followed by sun. I anticipate and search the sky and then there it is, the moment the rainbow appears (happy memories of watching the Care Bears overwhelm me) the excitement is still so wonderfully magical. It is in this moment I marvel and wonder just how does it appear? I have the desire to read, educate myself of the miracle of rainbows and each time I let it be. The truth is I don’t want to know the scientific fact; I understand it as it just is. Tenderly I remind myself of the verse in the Quran: ‘Which of the favours of your Lord can you deny.’

I was inspired to write this article by a client of mine, who had read my previous reflections and asked me to write about hope; hope during this time feels quite pertinent, when many of us are feeling unpleasantly hopeless.

2020. A year that changed us undeniably. A year many of us had such wonderful plans, to mark the milestone decade. However, the plan which unfolded all over the globe was far from anything we have ever experienced, and Insha’Allah (God Willing) won’t ever experience again. It was fragile and still is incredibly fragile.

Eight months have passed since Coronavirus had hit hard in the UK; we are currently in our second lockdown, and seeing the number of cases and deaths rise significantly again. How can we be hopeful? During this pandemic, our normal lives are still happening, this merely does not stop, the trials are still present and the feeling of fear and suffocation at timeshas become a familiar companion.

Dig a little deeper or perhaps have someone help us with another shovel and dig a bit more. My point is Allah reminds us there is always khayr (goodness) in all things. We just need to dig.

I have heard people say “we want 2020 over, bring on 2021.” The focus is constantly on what we have lost in this time and I know devastatingly people have lost their loved ones and this we know is the ultimate heartache with life changing affects. We cannot wipe out this year, we just cannot. This year changed us all and perchance softened even the hardest of hearts. Perhaps we can change our perspective, in our greatest time of hopelessness, we merely notice and search for the hope. Because it is there, it always is. It is not always clear until later; it comes in the form of hindsight. At times we may need to dig. Dig a little deeper or perhaps have someone help us with another shovel and dig a bit more. My point is Allah reminds us there is always khayr (goodness) in all things. We just need to dig.

I am listening to a tafsir (Quranic translation) which I have been fortunate to draw near to a hopeful progression and today’s session was recorded in March, the last of a live session face to face. The uncertainty and the concern in the Shaykh’s (teacher) voice was profound. He spoke of how the masajids (mosques) would be closed and perhaps in Ramadhan it would be different and possible restrictions with Hajj. It was then I felt Allah’s Mercy. Imagine, if we knew all the things we would lose out on (loss is individual for us all) how would our hearts contain this? Sometimes there is mercy in the not knowing.

Here are some reflections, a change of perspective and narrative which have supported me personally and within my work as a therapist:

See with your heart: How often do we connect with our spiritual eyes? With this we are able to witness the meaningful moments in our lives; ‘Surely it is not the eyes that are blind, but blind are the hearts that are in the chests.’ (Surah Al-Hajj, No.22, Ayat 46)

Choose kindness: Always. Even when you do not want to; or when it feels like it is not met. It does not matter. Focus on you; and how this impacts upon your heart.

Spread acts of kindness: with humanity, share your experiences and inspire others to act in kindness. It really can be contagious!

Notice the moments: tread gently, as often when we blink, we may have missed the moment.

Understand your meaning: not what others may think of you but assign your personal meaning. This is exclusive to you.

You are not always going to be in a state of peace and tranquility: it is merely not going to happen. Then why do we only constantly want to be here? Emotions are in duality and opposites; we need to feel both to appreciate the peace. Notice those times when you are in pain or distress and know this too shall perish. But for now, this is happening and know there will come ease.

We know Allah does not burden a soul with more than it can bear: know you got this. Not because I say so. Allah has said. (Let that sink in).

Ponder with softness your hardships: as moments of Expiation, Purification and a rank with Elevation. I refer to this as EPEThere are numerous hadith (Prophetic sayings) relating to this.

You are exactly where you are meant to be: This grounds me and makes my heart smile every time. This is fundamental in my work. This by no means is an indication that we sit there and wait for things to happen; that is a lame excuse and one I have heard too often. You step up, you exert yourself and be the best version of you. This relates to qadr (destiny) and Allah has chosen THIS for you. And what Allah has chosen; there is only success. Imagine yourself as a paintbrush and Allah is creating the canvas with perfect colours, tones and textures. Your destiny was written by the greatest of writers.

Be grateful: Always. Even when you feel there is very little to be grateful for. Reflect upon those things that you never asked Allah for. Your sight, your hearing, the heart that beats and your lungs that enable the breath to enter and leave. You never asked for this and He gave you.

Keep asking from Allah as long as you still want it: Be kind to yourself. At times it is not the quantity of your dua (supplication) but the quality. Be kind to your heart and do not keep asking in a way which is causing you anxiety. I notice this all too often and this does not have a great impact on your mental health and emotional wellbeing. We ask and we act; you cannot do one without the other.

Time + Communication = Understanding (TCU): ask those heart felt questions which you were second guessing. Time is precious; it is imperative we know those we love and they know us. Create those memories; even better in nature.

Post a card, a letter, a gift: to those you love; the old way is a profound way of saying you are thinking of the person. There really is something deeply precious in receiving something in the post.

Search for rewards: in your relationship with Allah, the nights are long and the days are short. A perfect time to keep those sunnah fasts and wake up for tahajjud.

It is okay to not be ok: I think hope is often discovered when you share your emotion, name it and personalise it. There is something wonderfully incredible when this interaction happens.

Let us not sign off a day, a week, a month or a year as being dreadful, there is good there too, we just need to search and discover to create a healthy balance.

When you have been hurt, you emerge with striking transformation; vigour, beauty and wisdom is cultivated. We are built better from those things we thought had broken us.

I often reflect on brokenness, a nuance at times, a significant change with others which has jolted one, to change perspective. It is here an incredible emergence appears. Broken people emerge a new awakening. There is something painfully accepting when we are or have been broken. When you have been hurt, you emerge with striking transformation; vigour, beauty and wisdom is cultivated. We are built better from those things we thought had broken us.

We are often hopeless when it comes to our thoughts, how things may happen with various possibilities. Leave what does not concern you, this is not your reality. Stop imagining, as your thoughts could be very far from the truth. Instead, you try the above and all those things you know that works for you.

Hope is wonderful. Hope is kind. Hope is hopeful. As long as you have breath within your body, you can be awesome and kind.

And hopeful.

Please note any mistakes are from me and any good is all from Allah.

If you feel you need support for your emotional wellbeing/mental health, please review and refer to the following organisations:

Muslim Counsellors Birmingham - private therapists, please refer to website for details.

GLM Hear4U - Helpline service providing emotional support for the community. Please call on 0121 713 0095 Tuesdays: 11:00-13:00 Females and Thursdays: 18:00-20:00 Females and Males.

Muslim Women’s Network UK - The MWN Helpline service providing information, advice and support. Please call on 07415 206936 and 0800 999 5786 and email: info@mwnhelpline.co.uk Mon-Fri 10:00 - 16:00

Sending my heartfelt prayers and positive thoughts to all of humanity.

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