Let’s Stone the Devil!
By Humaira Nasim
While I was sitting on the hill in Muzdalifah, giving personal meaning to each Jamrah, the second Jamrah meant another persistent devil whisper. It was the whisper of comparisons that makes us fall into the feelings of jealousy. To get rid of them would be a major breakthrough! I exclaimed to myself. It seemed wishful thinking but intention is the first step, I said to myself. I knew it was a major struggle, but I was determined to trash these whispers out of my life.
With decisive steps, I walked towards the second Jamrah, and jumped to hit it with full energy and power. In my mind’s eye, I was freeing myself from all the negative energies that were associated with comparisons that often left me with a feeling of not being enough. I did not want to entertain such thoughts anymore. I was my own competition and I decided to stop doing this injustice to myself by comparing myself with others.
Comparison was the first devil whisper on earth that came as a test of relativity. The story of Cain and Abel (Qabeel and Habeel – the two sons of Prophet Adam) teaches us how we can be fooled by comparing our blessings with those of others. They teach us the lesson that if we keep on cluttering our mind with these toxic thoughts, we can get stuck in a swirl of negativity from which it is difficult to escape. The principle of relativity has a purpose. It is a tool used by our mind to understand different concepts and improve our learning curve. For example, it is by relativity that we know that the fire is hot and the ice is cold. It is by this knowledge that scientists came up with measurements and calibrations and have made thousands of discoveries and inventions. Without this understanding of comparing things, any kind of empirical learning is impossible. However, when this tool is used in the context of comparing ourselves and our lives with others, this very tool of growth and advancement become dangerous to our emotional and mental health.
What comparisons affect your life? What measures do you take to release the negativity that comes with them?
How to overcome it?
When we are battling negative thoughts, the belief in qadr becomes our rescuer. It is this belief that assures us that whatever is meant for us can never go to someone else and the vice versa is also true.
“What’s meant for you will reach you even if it’s beneath two mountains, and what’s not meant for you won’t reach you even if it’s between your two lips.” (Etaf Rum in “A Woman Is No Man”)
This belief instantly removes the feelings of jealousy that can come in between and become roadblocks in human relationships.
It is this belief that assures us that our provisions have already been allotted and written in the Lawh-e-Mehfooz (The Preserved Tablet) may it then be fame, wealth, power, children, and so on. The Prophet (sa) said:
“The pens have been lifted and the pages have dried.” (Tirmidhi)
Sometimes, people take this belief as an excuse to be lazy and are unwilling to put efforts or do hard work. This is another example of using a tool in the wrong context which in this case is the belief in qadr and thereby getting stagnant. This holds them from realizing their true potential, and they live through meaningless days calling them a life.
Stoning the second Jamrah was a relieving experience. With lighter steps I walked towards the third Jamrah.
For me this Jamrah was the personification of passionate love and attachments which often became a source of hurt and disappointments in my life. I was keen to cure myself from this disease of the heart.
Passionate love is an extreme form of attaching oneself to people, things, places, desires and so on, so much so that it leads to an unbalanced life. Due to this unhealthy emotional attachment, there is an unwillingness to let go despite knowing that holding on to it is toxic.
There can be many ways how unhealthy attachments can reflect in the life of people.
Unhealthy attachments can show in relationships with others. When, on one hand, healthy attachments are a source of comfort, connection and love, unhealthy attachments deprive you of your sense of self. They can lead you to dependence on others for validations and approval. There is an unbalance of reciprocity in these relationships. You tend to identify your self-worth through this kind of attachment which consequently damages your self-esteem.
Unhealthy attachments can also show in the form of emotional attachments with objects. It is normal to get attached to special belongings like your wedding ring, writing journal, and photo albums. They connect you with your most cherished memories; however these attachments can become unhealthy if they have a negative impact on your wellbeing. Some signs that you are negatively attached to your belongings are attachment of the object replacing healthy attachment with people, the thought of losing it causing emotional distress and anxiety, spending excessively to maintain the object so much so that it interferes with meeting your basic needs. This often leads to the habit of hoarding things thereby not only increasing your physical baggage but also cluttering your mind with emotions attached with those belongings.
What attachments are you not willing to let go of? Are they causing an unbalance in your life?
Are you expending too much of your life running after them?
How do you free yourself from the pain of holding on for too long?
As a cure to attaching yourself passionately to people, places and things, one should practise the art of letting go. We should understand that life of this world is an impermanent life. We cannot hold on to people, places, things, and so on for an unlimited time. Looking for permanence is the longing of our soul which is trapped in this world; however, we cannot nourish it through unhealthy attachments. Breathing is an excellent practise to learn this art as Rumi wisely said:
“Life is a balance of holding on and letting go.”
By physically inhaling air, holding on to it for a short while, filling yourself with gratitude for being alive, and then slowly and compassionately letting it go knowing that holding it for long will be lethal to your survival is the secret sauce to practising an attitude of impermanence while travelling through this life.
“But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah knows, while you know not.” (Al-Baqarah 2: 216)
As soon as I was done with stoning the third Jamrah, I experienced a gush of new energy filling me with unconditional love, peace, and compassion, washing away all the toxicity that I had accumulated over the years in the form of resentments, comparisons, and unhealthy attachments. This physical experience of stoning the devil at Mina opened ways for me to work on decluttering my soul from the burden of negativity. Now it serves as a powerful anchor whenever the devil tries to whisper his evil thoughts. This new birth is such a huge blessing of Allah (swt) on to me. The moments of re-awakening that I had experienced during this sacred trip are my most cherished memories and power shots that lift me up whenever I fall.