Shimmering Stars in Silent Nights
Silence has its own rhythm. I did not experience this until I got the blessed opportunity to spend one night at the Cave of Hira, Jabl-e-Noor. It was the most soothing and peaceful experience of my life and it taught me introspection and self-analysis.
In the routine hustle and bustle of our lives, we see too much, we hear too much and we think too much. There is a lot of social noise that dictates our actions and decisions. It often defines who we are, what we should do, what we should dream, what we should like and what we should dislike! Not only this, this noise also creates fears and insecurities in our hearts through criticisms, comparisons and labels compelling us to follow the crowd even if the crowd itself is lost.
Amidst this chaos, to pay attention to that tiny voice coming from your heart is what I define as courage. That intuitive voice knows right from wrong, good from evil and wishes the very best for you and this is the voice of your pure, inner self: your true Fitrah. Your Fitrah is often referred to as your soul. Just like your physical self which requires nourishment in the form of healthy food, your soul also needs nourishment for its well-being and spiritual growth.
Tahajjud: The time for silent introspection
There are many different ways of nurturing your soul. Silence is one of them! When you mute the external noise, your inner self gets an opportunity to speak up. It gives you an opportunity to introspect and build a connection with Allah (st).
The middle of the night is the best time to experience this silence. When the world around you is sleeping and there is no chatter that can distract you, you can connect with your true self and ultimately connect with your Creator. This is the time for the special prayers called Tahajjud. This was the favourite Salah of our Prophet Muhammad (SA) and a common practise of most of the pious predecessors. Through introspection in the silence of the night, they used to seek divine wisdom.
The month of Ramadan is here, and what could be a better time to build this ritual of contemplation? Here are some tips on how you too can avail this blessed opportunity:
- Make a strong intention before going to sleep: Your intention is powerful. If you go to bed half-heartedly and unsure of waking up for Tahajjud, guess what? You won’t get up!
- Do Wudu with conscious awareness: As you pour water over your hands and face, imagine that all the sins that you had committed today, consciously or unconsciously, are being washed away. The more slowly and gently you do your Wudu, the more conscious awareness you will attain during the rest of the ritual. Remember a good beginning is a job half done!
- Take small steps – focus on quality over quantity: Often, people set very high standards and goals in the very beginning. They have a very robust start but they falter as the days pass by. In order to be consistent in your practise, take small steps and set quantifiable, attainable goals. For instance, if you are a beginner, do not try to offer many voluntary prayers. Sometimes, in order to feel pious we tend to focus on the numbers. Just pray 2 Rakah Salah initially and build it up gradually and consistently by the will of Allah. Try to beautifully recite your favourite verses in each Rakah. Plan your recitation and practise the verses with complete understanding during the day with an intention to recite them during the night.
- Progress over perfection: Do not aim for perfection. Choose progress! If at any point in time you feel overwhelmed or exhausted, do not beat yourself up. Relax and start over again the next night. Remember, good things take time.
- Breathe deeply: As you sit down, inhale all the positive energy of gratitude, love, peace and compassion. Place your hand on your chest and feel these blessings fill in. Picture yourself surrounded by Allah’s Nur. As you exhale imagine yourself flushing away all the negative energy that you have accumulated during the day in the form of anger, frustration, jealousy, regret and resentments. Let go! Repeat ten times.
- Make Dua: As soon as you have worked on your breathing, open yourself to receive the blessings of Allah and ask Him sincerely. Read the Masnoon Tahajjud Duas and send peace and blessings to our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SA).
As you sit back in silence, feel the earth beneath you. Look at the shimmering stars above you. As your heart beats, hear the rhythm of this silent night. This night will tell you many secrets. Pay attention!