I was no longer sure about the time of day.
Not a ray of sunlight was apparent to signify the morning, nor was there a sliver of moonlight to signify the night. All I was certain about was the opacity that engulfed the atmosphere I was trudging through. The air felt moist against my forehead as I blindly roamed on, and made me wonder if I was passing through a dark, dense fog. I wandered and wandered. The surface beneath my feet was rough and uneven. At one point I felt something sharp scratch the skin of my toes. The searing sensation was long gone, but the stickiness of the blood remained. Since I could not see anything, I just went with the hope that the blood had somehow stopped flowing, and instead clotted and dried up on the surface of my skin.
Was I looking for solace on this scant walk? I wasn’t even sure if that was possible. I was curious as to where my wandering would lead. Suddenly, my sticky toes encountered a gentle and meek texture. It felt damp and slightly ticklish.
I scampered forward, forgetting the feelings of anxiety that had slithered down my spine. I was relieved that I didn’t have to blindly tread on rough ground anymore. I was foolish to think I would be welcome to even more open space when suddenly my body slammed into a hard object. I didn’t fall, but my right side throbbed. I felt around the object with my open palm and figured it was wood. I moved my hand around some more and felt something smooth and round. I turned it left and I turned it right, and pushed. A creaking sound broke the airy silence, and I jumped back, startled. The feeling of anxiety returned as I peered through the door, wondering what could possibly be beyond it.
I was no longer squinting through pitch blackness, as my irises finally widened for my gaze to actually rest upon a view.
There was light.
Not enough to brighten a morning, but enough to see surroundings for taking a stroll at midnight. Vines of roses that rooted up from the ground and curved upward in an arch-like shape greeted me. I stepped through, onto what seemed to be a trail of compact soil with a brightly colored array of tulips growing on either side. Shuffling down the path, I wanted to see what the source of light was, and where it was coming from. As strange and unfamiliar the place may have been, my heart was at ease. The garden was comforting in a peculiar way, and allowed me to leave the anxiety not on my back, but in the unknown of the darkness I left behind.
At the end of the soil path were two great cherry blossom trees resting their trunks on the grass. At last, I had found the source of light, right in between the trees. I rushed over to take a look, to see a dainty woven basket harvesting the light. It was rectangular in shape, and carefully crafted. The golden color was crisp on the baleen material and was even more illuminated from the glow inside the basket. I noticed an etching on the side of it. There were three Arabic letters. A sheen, a haa, and a raa. I spelled it out.
Realizing the etching was pertaining to the glow emanating from the basket, I wondered if Shahara meant light. I looked at the garden around me; and thought how it seemed like it was nighttime with the only available light coming from the basket. Then it hit me. This glow was signifying the night. Shahara must mean moonlight. I was holding a basket of moonlight. It was as if someone had gathered handfuls of it from the sky and stuffed it in this basket.
It was puzzling, finding such a thing. How odd to have a basket full of moonlight. As if hearing my thoughts, the glow blossomed into a more elegant beam, and washed over my face, causing me to close my eyelids. A wave of a sensation tumbled over me. As if the glow was trying to remind me of something.
Shahara reminded me of Allah. The glow dimmed a bit, and just glistened modestly as it twinkled in my irises… By the ordinance of Allah, I reflected, the moon emerges from behind the clouds only in the evening. Its brilliance is revealed when the world is sleeping. It humbly lights the night sky enough for the few of those who are awake. I gazed at the glow from the basket and was reminded of how humbleness and modesty are essential components of iman.
Tears trickled down my cheek and dripped off my chin as I wept into the basket. Allah had mercy on me, and guided me to find Shahara, so I would no longer be lost. Seeing such moonlight is indeed a reminder of having faith in the One and Only Rabb, the Lord of such magnificence creations and controlling all of them to function and fill their purposes all at their designated times.
“The sun is running its course to its appointed place. That is the ordaining of the All-Mighty, the All-Knowing. We have appointed stages for the moon till it returns in the shape of a dry old branch of palm-tree. Neither does it lie in the sun’s power to overtake the moon nor can the night outstrip the day. All glide along, each in its own orbit” (Surah Yasin 36:38).
It was my designated time to encounter Shahara and be reminded of the essence in worshipping Allah. It was about time to fix the despair and overcome new obstacles in life with the remembrance of Allah, seeking refuge in Him.
I took the basket of moonlight with me on the way out of the garden, knowing it would help me face the opaqueness I had left behind on the other side of the wooden door. I no longer had the tingles of anxiety rushing down my back. I had more than a sliver of moonlight to signify the night and guide me back to the remembrance of Allah azza wa jal.
This piece is a story-like extended metaphor. In the beginning, the darkness that I am walking through is a metaphor representing my mind. It was during a time when my mind was filled with confusion and cluttered with worries and thoughts of unfortunate events. Finding the garden and feeling at ease is a metaphor of the time I was looking for a freshman student in the hallway when I was a junior in high school. I put all other thoughts of my own life aside, and instead focused on new thoughts of figuring out where and how I would find her in the school building to invite her to the first MSA (Muslim Students’ Association) meeting. The event of actually meeting her is represented by the metaphor of finding the basket. The moonlight itself is the metaphor of my newfound friend Shahara, of course, whose name means just that – “moonlight” in Arabic. Although she is younger than me, she has become a role model in my life of becoming a better Muslimah. Just like the way Allah has given an appointed time for the moon to emerge in the night sky, Allah had ordained an appointed time for me to meet Shahara during my junior year of high school. A time when I needed a friend to give me a fresh, new outlook of handling myself as a Muslim girl in this temporary life.
And of course, leaving the garden with the basket is the metaphor of going back out into the obstacles of my mind to solve my worries and anxieties with the friend who reminds me of Allah.
“Friends on that Day will be enemies one to another, except al-Muttaqoon (i.e. those who have Taqwa).” (Surah Az-Zukhruf 43:67).