Bismillah: Asalamoalaykum warahmatullah,
Good books take you places and help you learn through experiences that you haven’t yet experienced. Like wise friends, you can be counselled through them. Over the passage of years, books that you read become your inner voice. Often times I am surprised at my preferences because how odd it is when you discover that you have been unknowingly mirroring Elizabeth Bennet in your teens. Or that your pastimes are exactly that of Jo March. Or perhaps you fancy going to places which you have read so much about historically and geographically in your Social Studies class as a ten year old. That is fascinating as well as telling of the strong (almost dangerous) influence of books.
It has been ages since a novel has stirred my heart and made me reflect. Unfortunately, there is nothing much left to read for a Muslimah if you have dealt with majority of the Victorian classics. Much of what is left is trashy. And of course, you reach a point that makes reading fiction feel very trivial and a complete waste of time. Especially when you have tasted the sweetness of the Quraan.
However, I feel in certain phases of life, you do need a novel to rest your head on. This is what I felt when I picked up a copy of the book, ‘The Little Paris Bookshop’, by Nina George. I haven’t had a luxury to peacefully read anything for a long time. This book has so far softened my heart of stone and allowed me to feel what I needed to feel to enable healing.
Some people keep hurting as they keep feeling. Then there are others who create a wall because they have been feeling and hurting too much for a very long time. When you block those feelings, you prevent healing because to reach completeness, you need to accept the good days and the brokenness of bad days. You need to allow the ‘bad’ days to come full force, head-on. And then, you need to let yourself cry. Cry so freely from a place of unconditional and non-judgemental love. The kind of crying which lets the liberating empathetic kind of tears flow which you would have shed for a beloved had it been their story instead of yours.
The novel talks about being lost, about the heavy emotions that relationships carry and how they make us vulnerable as well as empower us with the passage of time. This book almost has a Paulo Coelho kind of feel to it.
After a long time, I have truly liked a male protagonist. I love his vulnerability. I love how beautiful his emotions are and how he navigates them and analyzes them during his daily conversations with people. I also find myself forgiving him for his mistakes because I can just look right into his soul and empathize. What is remarkable about him is that he is severely broken but he has a gentle way of using his brokenness to understand others, almost fight for them and always be willing to cure others of their brokenness. His sadness is breath-takingly beautiful. I have yet to finish the book but I’m totally in love with the author’s style of writing. Some paragraphs may seem complicated, wordy or unnecessary to others but I can see how she is expressing feelings without directly expressing them. I just adore that style.
I thought I would share some quotes as I go as I find them too beautiful to ignore and I will keep adding more: click here to read them.
All in all, I feel that because of this book, Allah swt has helped me rediscover the emotions I had locked away in the dungeons of the past and it has humanized me in ways I can’t still fathom. There were places in which my soul finally stopped sobbing because it realized that it was okay to be hurt… for those who love deeply, are often hurt. Of course, all that has made me raw again but I think all of this is an essential part of healing and if you ignore certain stages, you risk the chance of becoming bitter and resentful. I don’t think a woman who wants to love freely would want to take that chance because loving the incapable,freely and deeply, is a sign of strength and it helps you grow in beauty and wisdom. And Allah swt knows best. (Of course, I am talking about all the halal relationships Allah swt has graciously blessed us with.)
Another book I am reading is an Arabic book called ‘Al Wasaa-il al Mufeedah Lil Hayaat as-Saa-‘eedah’ (Beneficial ways to a happy life) by Sh. As Sa’di, the famous mufassir of the Quraan. I am reading it with the help of lecture commentary by Dr. Farhat Hashmi. It is a gem of a book and I have been making podcasts (yes! podcasts!) for the past month of my favourite quotes in it. Inshaa’Allah I will upload them very soon. My biggest problem with reading good books is that I like to think about them, digest them, come back to the same pages and think some more. This is the reason why I am very slow at giving my opinions on books related to spirituality. It could also be because I can’t let go of them. And finishing a book is like letting go of something beloved. Allahu ‘alam but to me books have been invaluable companions, walhamdolilah. So, this is a book I definitely recommend inshaa’Allah.
Whatever I read, I seek to learn about your Mercy and rectification of my affairs:
اللهم رحمتك ارجو فلا تكلني إلى نفسي طرفة عين ، وأصلح لي شأني كله ، لا إله إلا أنت
What we have left are but a few breaths so may we never use them for our or others’ misguidance, causing fasaad through heartaches and making this world our only concern. May we be granted deep insight and whatever we read and experience becomes a means of much guidance back to Allah swt. May we find our soulmates who help us reach Allah swt’s Pleasure safely. Like we have been forgotten by creations and our traces are slowly disappearing, O Allah, please don’t let us be that worthless that the traces of our sins remain. May we reap the benefits of the upcoming blessed days and may we make duas that take us out of our darknesses.