Words Sakina N.
Header Credits Fatema D. (@cosmicweavers)
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word williwaw as “a sudden violent gust of cold land air common along mountainous coasts of high latitudes”, i.e. a violent commotion. This year has been nothing short of that. There have been ups and a fair number of downs and it is only April.
As the pandemic continues to escalate, affecting more and more nations around the globe, we have moved our lives inside. Though the seclusion and days lounging on the sofa were initially exciting, it has quickly become stifling. Household chores, un-prayed duas and work assignments fill my mind, encouraging me to get a move on but, my inability to self-discipline leaves me cocooned on the couch watching Netflix.
Honestly, it has not been great. Whilst my days have been very sedentary, my mind seems intent on overthinking every memory from the past and present and, if that was not enough, it even imagines scenarios that have yet to happen. It has been a violent commotion, a williwaw.
Although scattered and chaotic, my thoughts constantly come back to deen. In Islam deen loosely refers to the way of life Muslims must adopt to comply with divine law, encompassing beliefs, character and deeds. These words clearly delineate the meaning of deen, pointing us in the right direction but alas it never seems that easy.
I felt lost and confused. It was as if I was at a fork in my journey and one path led to deen and the other to duniya (literally, the world). Two separate and parallel paths, never merging.
As such, when I was tasked with writing a piece focusing on Maulana Ali’sSA 30 wasiyato as elaborated by Aqa MoulaTUS during his 1441 Ashara Mubarak waaz, I was certain I would not be able to do it.
However, when I began to delve into the discussed wasiyato, specifically the eight set of counsels given by Maulana AliSA to Imam HasanAS, I realised that my confusion was unfounded, and my path was clear.
The counsels that Maulana AliSA offered to Imam HasanAS when he was asked, ‘Which are three things toward which one should shift one’s attention?’, were:
- Shift your attention towards understanding your soul. Identify your flaws and shortcomings and develop a strong aversion towards them until you see that your soul is rid of them and the fragrance of good character emanates from it.
- Shift your attention towards Allah’s taqwa (piety, mohabbat (love) and ta’at (obedience)).
- After attaining the above two, shift your focus towards your soul becoming unpretentious and the concealment of deeds. Do not boast about your achievements and make humility and humbleness your defining traits.
Whilst these counsels suggest ways of deepening your piety and faith (din), it quite simply provides a how-to guide to becoming a good person. Not a person who outwardly seems lovely but a genuinely wonderful person on the inside.
Maulana Ali’sSA words encourage us to acquire an understanding of all things, yet to realise that the most important understanding is of the soul. He teaches us that we should occupy ourselves with our own shortcomings, abandoning our scrutiny of others.
Yes, this is hard because we very rarely find things wrong with ourselves, but it is necessary – not only for our deen, but for duniya as well. Taking stock of our actions and character allows us to become better individuals, forming the basis of who we are and who we become.
The second thing that Maulana Ali ]SA advises is that we should shift our focus towards taqwa (to carry out acts for the sake of mohabbat and in order to please Wali AllahAS). To further illustrate this concept, Maulana al-Min’amTUS cited Imam Ali Zainul Abideen’s SA kalaam, ‘When people become preoccupied with the number of obligatory deeds they have carried out, occupy yourself with the quality of yours.’ He also quoted Imam’sAS similar statement, ‘When people become preoccupied with what pleases those created, occupy yourself with what pleases the Creator.’
Similar to the first wasiyato, I found the above highly relevant. It teaches us to focus on the quality of what we do rather than the quantity, something that I believe we all get lost in. For example, sometimes I set out to pray a sipara from my Quran, a dua and my namaz but by the end of it I realise I have not really done one thing properly. I rush through my namaz, jumbling my words, then speed through my dua putting it on a playback speed of 2, barely hearing anything, and finally whiz through my Quran mistaking the zaber for a zair.
The third and final thing one should shift towards is to always remain modest, unassuming and low-key. Syedna al-Dai al-AjalTUS explained that arrogance and pride will accentuate one’s worst qualities, for which he or she will become notorious.
Like the previous two, this third counsel demonstrates how we can be better. It provides a characteristic that we have all undoubtedly felt, encouraging us to abandon it for the purity of what is hidden.
I know that sometimes these wasiyato appear completely attainable, teachings that we can most definitely incorporate into our lives but at other times, on slightly gloomier days, they seem unachievable. I think that that is okay. Life is an imperfect journey but it is not a solo one. Teachings such as Maulana Ali’sSA counsels guide us, allowing us to continuously grow and improve.
So maybe during this williwaw period of our lives, take a step back to revisit lessons you might have forgotten. Abandon the sorrows of the pandemic and put your over-thinking minds on pause. It will be okay.