Cave of Serenity

Sumayyah sat on her bed, staring into the fireplace. She was lost in thought. Numbness – that’s all she felt at the moment. She didn’t know what to think or what to do. Her life was a mess. The last few months had been nothing but turbulent. She had met Hassan. They had begun dating. Things were fine – until she got caught. She sighed. She was tired. Tired of all the drama, embarrassment, and pain. “Hassan.” she remembered, and her heart twisted in pain for a second.

For three weeks now, Sumayyah hadn’t left her room. It’s not like she had a choice anyway. She was grounded. Her phone was taken away. No friends were allowed to come over. No one was allowed to call her on the land-line. Nothing. Her dad was severely upset with her and hasn’t spoken to her since it happened. She cringed as she remembered how he had seen the text message from Hassan. The disappointment in his face…she didn’t want to think about it. She swallowed back tears as she rose from her bed and sat down in front of the fireplace. The warmth of the fire touched her cheeks. There was something comforting about its warmth. But her feelings…she was just too overwhelmed. She sat there wrestling with her feelings. She hated that her parents found out she was in a secret relationship with Hassan. She felt deeply embarrassed and guilty. She had never wanted to let her parents down. Then, there was all her freedom being taken away. Her parents will never trust her again. And then there was Hassan. Her heart wrenched. She will have to give up their relationship now too.

“These secret relationships are difficult.” she thought to herself. It was exhausting. The stress of hiding her phone from her parents every day, cooking up excuses to leave the house, and the multiple scares she had had of almost getting caught – it was draining. There was no peace. She constantly had to worry about which aunty or uncle had seen her while she went out to meet Hassan and it was only a matter of time until someone called her parents and told them everything. “Everyone in town probably knows now anyway.” she thought to herself. Mairah, Hassan’s cousin would have spilled the beans to everyone she met. She would tell everyone everything. She was, after all, the queen of gossip. “Oh, what does it matter anyway?” thought Sumayyah. “It’s over now.” Despite her affirmation to herself that it was over, Sumayyah couldn’t help but feel a sense of embarrassment. Her relationship with Hassan was something she didn’t want anyone to know about. She wasn’t a bad girl…she just liked him…what would everyone think of her now? Would they create stories about them that didn’t even happen? How far would they take it?

Just then, a “As salaamu alaykum, Sumayyah!” disrupted her thoughts. Sumayyah looked up to see who it was, quickly wiping the little tears that had formed in the corners of her eyes. “Wa alaykumus salaam.” she replied to Ameerah. Ameerah was her cousin. She was three years older to Sumayyah. They go way back, these two. Ameerah gave Sumayyah a hug. “How are you feeling now? Your dad seems to be smiling again!” joked Ameerah. “Ha.ha. He’s probably thinking of kicking me out of the house, that’s why!” replied, Sumayyah. “Don’t be silly. How are you feeling now?” asked Ameerah again, more concerned this time. “I’m ok…I just feel…drained. I feel like there’s so much of turbulence in my life. All my peace has been robbed away! Nobody at home wants to talk to me! And all the aunties are now gossiping about me!” cried Sumayyah. “I don’t know what to do anymore…” she said, tears stinging her eyes. “Have you tried praying?” asked Ameerah. “Praying?” asked Sumayyah, confused. “Just pray two rak’ahs, you might feel better.” said Ameerah, getting up. “I gotta go, I’m only allowed two minutes to say salam to you and leave. Sorry hun, my dad’s waiting for me downstairs. Will be back tomorrow, in shaa Allaah.” she said apologetically, while closing Sumayyah’s door.

Sumayyah tossed and turned in bed. It was 2am and still no sleep came. She sat up and threw the blanket off her. It was just too heavy on her body. Her emotions were enough of weight on her already. She felt everything together at times – anger, sadness, and guilt all at once. It felt like all her feelings were waves crashing violently on her heart. “Should I pray?” she thought. For some reason, she felt that it might offer her some solace. She hopped out of bed and headed to the bathroom to make wudhu. Then she dug out an abaya from her closet, put it on, and started praying. As soon as she started al Faatihah, the little tears she had been having for the past few weeks turned into giant ones. She didn’t know why but she sobbed throughout the prayer. When she went in for sujood, she just didn’t have any words. She felt guilty and ashamed. Too guilty and ashamed to even face Allaah because she knew that her relationship with Hassan was wrong and here she was seeking solace from the One she had disobeyed. But she prayed anyway. Where else can she go? Who else would accept her? After giving the salam, her sobs quieted down. A sense of calm washed over her. After a good three weeks of turbulence and mess, this was the peace she needed. She didn’t want it to end. She walked to her bookshelf and pulled out her mini ‘Fortress of the Muslim’. As she was flipping through, she saw ‘Supplications after the prayer’.

‘To be said after the tasleem’  the first title read.

“Astaghfirullah (3x).”

“Allaahumma antas Salaam wa minkas salaam tabaaraktha ya dhal jalaali wal ikraam.”

She continued on to read the translation: “I seek forgiveness from Allaah (3x). Oh Allaah. You are As Salaam, from You is all peace, blessed are You Oh Possessor of majesty and honor.” Her heart swelled as she read this, and tears rolled down her cheeks. How true was this indeed! Nothing…absolutely nothing… had given her a sense of peace and reassurance than her remembering Al Salaam. For where can she find peace if not with The Source of all Peace Himself – the One who is free of all defects? Suddenly, she felt like all her life she had been running away, looking for peace and serenity in all the wrong places. With al Salaam was the only place she felt stillness in the middle of the storms of life. No song, no conversation with a close friend, or anything else matched the peace and tranquility she felt while talking to her Lord. If she really wanted true peace and security in her life, she knew she had to change her ways. She thought to herself: “The only way I’m going to have any peace in my life is to tread on the Ultimate Path to it – for my peace here and for my peace in the Hereafter.” She knew this deep down.

After a long time, Sumayyah finally felt like things would be ok. They would get better. And until then, she was going to keep talking to Al Salaam. Storms or rainbows, she needed Al Salaam.

The next morning, Ameerah came in with cupcakes. She knew just exactly what would cheer her cousin up. “You seem a little better today!” she said, placing the cupcakes down on Sumayyah’s coffee table. “Yeah, I do.” replied Sumayyah, grabbing for one of Ameerah’s ooey-gooey chocolatey cupcakes. “Well, that’s good alhamdullillaah. Trust me, your parents will come around.” said Ameerah, patting Sumayyah’s knee lightly. Sumayyah grabbed a napkin to wipe off the frosting that covered her mouth and made her way to her closet. “What are you doing?” asked Ameerah, curiously. “Going into my cave of serenity.” replied Sumayyah smiling, as she pulled out her abaya for prayer.

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Riham Ramzy is currently pursuing a degree in Islamic Law & Studies from King AbdulAziz University, Jeddah. She is absolutely crazy about flowers, loves the beach, and loves traveling. Her aim is to connect with the youth and to build an online community for support and encouragement which is something she didn't have on her journey towards bettering herself. So as her journey for improvement continues, she wants to take you along with her too!

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