I called T to ask what the Sheikh had taught in the retreat as I missed it this year. While she spoke a deluge of nostalgia overcame me. The scenes from the mountains unfolded, holding the little lodge and cabins in their bosom where others and I had struggled to follow His (Subhanawataala’s path with focus and sincerity………..
It is raining………..It is outing day. I have opted not to go canoeing in the rain. Those of us who have stayed behind have been designated four hours of Dhikr in solitude. I ask my colleague and mentor what I should do in these four hours and she suggests a combination of nawafil salah, recitation of the Quran and Tasbeeh.
It sounds easy, the outside is tumultuous, and inside the lodge is quiet as most of the retreaters have gone canoeing or hiking, and I have time heavy on my hands.
Never in my remotest ponderings had I envisioned that when I made the pact of four hour of undisturbed Dhikr with myself I was challenging all the evil spirits to intervene between my Dhikr and me. Thus began my morning of Dhikr………
It is difficult if not impossible to share one’s failures and ones weaknesses even with close friends leave alone with the world at large, but here I am with my confessions of an almost failed Dhakir ashamed at my weaknesses and yet sharing them after holding them secret for almost a year………….
I walk down to the basement musallah in the lodge, my Quran, tasbeeh, and dua book in my hands. I begin my first two rakah of Nafil salah, reciting from my hand held Quran. Completely satisfied and smug with my ability to dive into Dhikr with no obstacles I have no clue what is about to happen. As I finish my tasleem, I lose my wudu. I am a little irritated as it has not even been fifteen minutes since I did my wudu.
I guess I have to renew my wudu…..I run up the stairs back to my room in the lodge renew my wudu carefully and return to the musallah. The skylights have darkened with the steadily pelting rain as I stand up for my second two rakah of Nawafil and the same thing happens at the end of the second set of Nawafil.
For a brief moment I toy with the idea of not making any more nawafil and perhaps just reading something that does not require me to run upstairs and renew my wudu………and just as the thought comes I remember the story of Shaitaan tripping this man on his way to fajr prayer three times and each time the man goes back and renews his wudu, and shaitaan tires of the game of discouragement.
I have a dawning realization that this is no accidental wudu break but a systematic chipping at my resolve to have four hours of undisturbed Dhikr and to force me to settle for second best.
Thus for the next hour Shaitaan and I battle……. as I trudge up after every two nafils to renew my wudu and trek back down to continue my salah.
After the fourth time, I notice a change……….the Quran flows from my lips like fragrant water from a dew drenched flower, gentle, easy, eloquent and without effort. There are no more disturbances, my Shaitaan has given up on me and left me in peace with my Dhikr.
Next thing I know the four hours are over and my friends have come to fetch me to go to the lake.
Initially I am embarrassed to mention my tussle with shaitaan, but then when I do…….my friend said “ The more effort you have to make to be in Dhikr the closer you are to Allah Subhanawataala, as he understands the efforts you are making”. Her words fill me with a peaceful joy, the fresh smell of newly drenched earth with the glistening water of the lake beckons me to more Dhikr…….this time it is visual Dhikr, no words are necessary.
The fall out of my battle with Shaitaan during my first hour of Dhikr in the mountains has resulted in intensifying my desire to remain in taharah at all times…………..ready for all circumstances in a state of purity inshallah.
Please keep me in your prayers.