Woman's search for Liberté
In the Name of Allah, the Most Kind, the Kindest
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Dedicated to the bravest woman I know.
What if you found yourself trapped in a life you didn’t want, and escape wasn’t readily feasible? “The way is shut,” wrote JRR Tolkien, “It was made by those who are Dead, and the Dead keep it… The way is shut.” You’ve tried every door, but the gatekeepers won’t let you out because they’re dead. Dead to your pleas, dead to your requests, dead to your needs, and aspirations. Their hearts are sealed. Even today, some women live in bondage. They reside in countries that deny them basic human rights and restrict their movement. Countries that continue to bury their daughters alive in the name of the Most Merciful and Beneficent.
During WWII, Viktor Frankl and Noor Inayat Khan were captured by the Nazis and sent to concentration camps. They were tortured, bound, and had no way out. The former was a brilliant Jewish psychiatrist and psychotherapist, who wrote Man’s Search for Meaning. The latter was a Muslim princess and British spy, who wrote plays and children’s books. Neither of them gave up, nor did they allow the Nazis to break their spirit.
In 1940, Viktor obtained an immigration visa to America. Not wanting to desert his parents, he let it expire. He lost everyone he loved in the concentration camps, except for one sister. Noor was martyred in Dachau. In 1944, she was shot point-blank in the back of the head by an SS guard. Her last word was “Liberté.” Back in England, Noor’s mother and brother had the same dream of her. She was surrounded by blue light and told them she was free.
Allah says in the Quran, “Say not of those slain in God’s way, ‘They are dead;’ rather they are living, but you are not aware” (2:154).
وَلَا تَقُولُوا لِمَنْ يُقْتَلُ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ أَمْوَاتٌ بَلْ أَحْيَاءٌ وَلَكِنْ لَا تَشْعُرُونَ١٥٤
Viktor uncovered three wells of meaning that held him back from the brink of death. Noor, undoubtedly, drank from the same wells and attained eternal life. The first is pursuing a higher purpose and larger mission. The second is a selfless love that enables us to forget ourselves in the thought of another. And the third is to suffer bravely. “By accepting the challenge to suffer bravely, life has a meaning up to the last moment, and it retains this meaning literally to the end,” wrote the Holocaust survivor.
Sometimes we are unable to change our external situation, sometimes the way is shut, and it may seem like we are powerless and that there’s no hope. That’s what our heartless wardens want us to believe and how they break us.
Muharram is a time of remembrance. It is a time to remember Allah and the martyrs of Karbala, the Prophet’s pure family who died opposing Yazid the accursed. Imam Husayn (may Allah be well pleased with him) attained the highest station with his Lord. He lived for the Truth. He died for the Truth and the prophetic legacy. Yazid’s army, his power, his cruelty are counted as less than nothing and vanity. He sacrificed nothing. He gave nothing. He only took and gained ignominy. But the family of the Prophet ﷺ remains pure, blameless, innocent, and the fount of every blessing.
The greatest battles are often fought in the subtle. It is the inner jihad that wins the day in this life and the next. No one can take your honor from you. No one can take your pride. No one can enter your heart without your permission, and no one can read your mind. You are impenetrable. You are inviolable. You are blameless and pure. You are a princess to be adored. Run to the arms of your beloved, drink from the wells of meaning, break the bonds of your captors, and set the captives free. Defy them by living. Defy them by thriving in the name of Love, in the name of what you Love.
No one can stop you. No one can imprison your Soul.
From one needy of your dua,
Abeera and Shannon share their reflections on last week’s newsletter “Treat everyone like a believer” (13 August 2021):
Honestly, this is by far the best thing I’ve read in a while. Judging people on their looks has been normalised and I can’t understand why. Hijab is a personal identity that Allah has given us and it’s an honour to put it on.
I support and appreciate all the women who put on a hijab each day because it’s not easy. It takes a lot of courage to do so and someday, Inshallah, when I feel I am ready I would like to wear it too.
I admire the love you have for our religion and the struggle you
put up each day. Each time when I read these articles I get a new perspective.
Lots of love from one side of the world to the other.
Happy Friday dear friend!
Just want to drop you a quick note to let you know your last newsletter is probably my favorite so far!
I can relate to everything you shared. You put words to what I feel and have wanted to say to some individuals who are very dear to me. I love how open and direct you are!
Keep up your wonderful work, I truly appreciate you.
Love & hugs,