Even on the days, our minds can’t submit, our bodies should still make their way to Allah. I battle with major depression. Unlike sadness, I do not need a reason. I can be content with my haves and patient in my have-nots, and my trigger can be as mundane as a conversation gone wrong, with the effect as damaging as a fall into the deepest depressive episode, from the highest cliff of happiness I have climbed in a while. It sucks all joy, all connection from everything I hold dear. I become detached from everything, and that includes my Islam.
A major sign that I’m about to delve into another episode is that I am unable to say my Solah. At dawn, I lay on my bed watching; staring into the distance until the dark cold sky gently warms up as the sun begins to rise from around dark shadow into a bright orange ball, its rays filtering through the leaves that brush against my window pane. The time for Subhi passes and leaves me behind, and like that, Dhur, Asr, Maghrib, and Isha follow suit as well. This is my reality every time depression comes knocking. And for the longest time, I thought it was the reality that I would have to endure for as long as I battled my mind.
Then a while back, at the most inconvenient time ever, I had to share my space with two friends who had come to town with nowhere else to stay. I didn’t know if I could be anything that they needed. I didn’t think that I had it in me to host anyone in my state. Yet, even though I didn’t understand it, I knew that Allah had sent them to me as Rahma, for I was in the lowest of places. So one morning when one of them woke me up for Subhi, I felt tired, drained, and overwhelmed. I hadn’t slept all night, and no part of me wanted to pray. Astaghfirullah. I just couldn’t. I wasn’t angry, upset, or displeased with Allah. Authubillah. I just couldn’t bring myself to stand in His presence at the time.
But she persisted, telling me it would soon be past the time. She then turned to leave, and I found myself wondering. Maybe Allah is doing this for a reason. So I got off the bed, took my wudhu, laid my prayer mat, and stood in front of Allah. I felt… numb. Unwilling. I felt disconnected. Yet, I said the words and did the motions. I worshiped with my body, as my mind begged by heart to look to my Rabb. To yield to His call and embrace the safety of His presence. It just felt…wrong. Like I didn’t belong there. And I hated it. I hated myself for not being able to submit myself to my Lord, and I was upset that I let myself stand in His presence when I couldn’t even bring my heart and mind to worship Him.
I realized then that usually, my first Solah after my episodes leave me in heart-wrenching tears, my body shaking like I had found salvation again, my heart trembling in relief like a lost child who finally found her way back home. I would submit to my Lord in every way possible. And that was the time that I felt the most connected to Allah. After that Solah, I felt dejected at realizing that this was the most horrible that I had ever felt since I started praying as an adult. I didn’t know what to make of it.
Yet, as I made my way to my bed, laying down my back to resume staring into space, a small part of me jolted at the fact that absent or not, I just said my Solah. What I thought was impossible was not. I just needed to do it. It wasn’t a proud moment for me, because I wasn’t even sure my Solah was accepted, but it gave me hope. Where overtime, I had had to make do with adhkars on my bed, in hopes of holding on to even a shred of my Islam, this was a huge step. I guess I always felt it impossible to move my body where my mind had given up.
Long after I recovered from that episode, I still think back to that time. How obsessed we are as humans with perfection. How we allow that to prevent us from celebrating little wins and acknowledging baby steps. How sometimes, our obsession over perfect sprints towards Allah prevents us from taking the tiny, wobbly steps that eventually lead us straight to Him. I also spent a lot of time in gratitude to Allah and to my friend, for His continual grace, and her timely reminder.
I am working on never stopping in my journey to Allah, and I hope you never do too. I do not know what your current state is. Maybe right now, you can only move your lips in supplication. Maybe your mind can only reflect on His might and mercy, and the beauty in His creations. Maybe it’s only your limbs that make it to the prayer mat. Maybe your will is enough, or you find that you need a gentle nudge or it takes a harsh reminder. Whatever it takes, whatever form your worship takes, just don’t stop on your journey to Allah.
You will heal. It will pass. Whatever it is. Just ensure that even if it slows you down on your road to spiritual diligence, it never stops you. Let no trial or struggle take that from you. Not even your need to worship perfectly. Allah does not need you whole, or perfect. He just needs you in His presence. And if you hand yourself to Him broken, He will return you whole. Over and over and over again. Your potter will never cease to mend His broken clay.
Written by Rahmat Omole: @rahmatomole.