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Episode Six: Inside The Therapist’s office

Office

Episode Six: Feel The Truth

The Whole Story

 

 

Six months earlier…

 “SURPRISEEEEEEEEE” Everyone yelled when Zahra, the bride-to-be walked in. Salma had invited all the girls to celebrate her best friend Supa’s engagement to Ali, the hottest bachelor of the year.

“Oh my God you know those irritating people who flutter their eye lashes and say ‘I’m so blessed’? Well, I’m one of them now.” Supa giggled. “I really am blessed. AlhamduleAllah”.
Salma forced a smile on her face even though she was seething with jealously; she literally thought her envy might emit a sizzling sound. But then again, she was positively sure none of them would notice the green eyed monster she’d been harboring deep into her soul for weeks. Salma covered it up so well. She’s throwing a party for Zahra! Would a jealous friend do that?

Oh if only they knew…

Zahra’s eldest brother Ibrahim and his wife Aisha waited in the car with Omar, Zahra’s twin brother, for the bride and her best friend to come down. They were all invited to the groom’s house for dinner, Ali, who also happened to be one of Omar’s friends.

 

Sitting in the backseat of the car between Salma and Omar, Zahra couldn’t help bouncing up and down with excitement.
“Ibrahim is married. I’m engaged. It’s your turn now, Omar!” She winked at her twin.

“Oh now I know why they call you Supa, coz you’re ‘Super Delusional’.” Omar mocked. “I’m happy for you Zoe, but just so you know, don’t go expecting to hear any wedding bells in my future.”

“First they won’t be bells, they’ll be old women’s shrills’ Zahra laughed. “And secondly, who wouldn’t want to find everlasting love? It’s the best feeling ever. Ibrahim, say something.”

Ibrahim didn’t reply or even smile. He kept on driving silently while Aisha sat next to him in the passenger’s seat, staring at the ‘Oscar’s Best Dressed posts’ on ‘Instagram’, completely detached from the conversation.

“Maybe there’s a special girl out there who might one day change your mind.” Salma fluttered her eyes, desperate to get Omar’s attention. She’s been in love with him since God knows when and yet he barely knew she existed.

“Trust me, she doesn’t exist. Besides, I’m not the marrying type. I’m more of the ‘fun-partying-watch-my-friends-get-hitched-and-shake-my-head-at-their-dubmness’type of guy.” Omar replied.

Salma was fuming, especially when everyone laughed at the stupid insinuation, even Supa! Well, as long as she was happy with Mr. Perfect, what did she care about other people’s feelings? Salma’s jealousy, resentment and anger were bubbling inside her like lava. She had to do something about it before the fire coming out of her ears burns through her Hijab.

“I heard you’re throwing a party for Ali, too” Salma commented. “Copycat!”

“Yeah, the difference is I know how to plan one. You invite a few girls to gossip in your living room. I on the other hand party like a rock star” Omar boasted.

“You mean dancing and drinking till dawn. Isn’t this what you’ve been planning for Ali’s bachelor’s party? Yeah, I definitely can’t compete with you.” Salma smiled wickedly. That should ruin the night she thought.

Omar threw her a dirty look and glanced quickly at his eldest brother Ibrahim, who was on the phone. Thank God he didn’t hear her snide comment. Of course Aisha made an unreadable face and turned away. It was his twin sister Zoe who was shocked and hurt the most.

“Alcohol?” She whispered. “Seriously Omar? I thought we talked about this. Is this how you want your future brother-in-law to start his life with me?”

The twins argued while Salma listened, taming her envy with a liberating conclusion that ‘Supa’ wasn’t that super after all. She had a reputation for having such great motivational and persuasive techniques, that some of their friends predicted Zahra would become one of those famous influencers or inspirational speakers. Yeah right! She couldn’t even get her own brother to believe in God.

“I’m sick of hearing this Zoe. You don’t need to be religious to be a good person.”

‘I say it because I love you. Just try to open your heart. I know you’ll eventually find your way back to God” She said softly.

“If God has a problem with me not believing in Him then He should take it up with me, man to man. Right here, right now!” Omar yelled.

 

It all happened at the same time

Omar was challenging the great Lord..

Salma was simmering with envy to the point of wishing evil upon her own best friend.

Aisha was disappointed they were almost there. She had secretly asked God to create an excuse big enough to stop them from going to the dinner party, just to spite her mother-in-law.

And Ibrahim, consumed with fear, passion and guilt, while checking his cell, he took his eyes off the road for exactly two seconds. The wrong two seconds.

And then the crash happened and everything went dark..
“Is everyone okay?” Ibrahim panted. The pipes on the truck they rammed into speared through their glass, completely shattering it. Ibrahim could hear the ambulances’ sirens approaching and was relieved to realize that even though the sharp pipes caused some minor injuries, everyone was still breathing.
They had no idea the car crash chose only one victim to pay the price.

“I can’t see anything…” Zahra whimpered.

A week later..
“Mom I don’t care if she’s blind. I love her and I promised her nothing would tear us apart. I know you disagree but it’s my life.”
Ali slammed the door behind him and went to see his beloved Zahra, who was still refusing to meet him. Her parents asked him to stay away and let her move on with her life.
“I’ve been praying day and night for them to agree. They will eventually. They know I can’t live with her.” Ali insisted.
“My daughter is a proud young woman, she’ll never agree to marry a man without his parents’ approval” Zahra’s mom said.
He left the building feeling crushed, got into his car and drove off like a maniac at the speed of lightening. This is when he got into a terrible accident too and was rushed into surgery about two hours later. The plastic surgeon said it might take years before a reconstruction could make him look half normal again.

No one dared tell Zahra about Ali’s accident. She was now at the institution learning how to cope with blindness and trying to adjust to her new life. Although her anger at the world made this ordeal an impossible, endless struggle.

“I know you don’t want to see anyone..”
“See? You think I can ‘see’ anyone? I’m as blind as a bat you idiot!” Zahra snapped at the poor nurse.
“I’m sorry” Zahra’s mom apologized to the nurse. “Please don’t take her tone personally. She’s been through a rough time”
“There’s a woman here to visit, and she’s insisting to meet Ms. Zahra” The nurse continued.
“Who is she?” Zahra asked.
“Her name is Rehana”
Zahra clenched her jaws, and pressed a hand to her throat, feeling her veins about to pop from her suppressed rage. “Mom, give us a minute please.” She hissed. “I need to speak to Rehana alone”

Later that day

“Rehana honey tell me what happened” I ran to hug my friend who had been waiting for me on my porch. She was shivering and sobbing hysterically, I could hardly understand a word she was saying.
“I talked to Ibrahim’s sister” Rehana sniffled.
“You what? Rehana you told me it was all over! You said you had repented and closed that page.” I scolded.
“No Lilly you don’t understand. They got into a car accident and his sister Zahra lost her eyesight. She’s staying in the same special needs institution I volunteer at. I couldn’t not go see her. Especially after what Ibrahim said. He blames me for the accident and for everything that has happened.”

I tried to hide my disappointment and be supportive instead. After all, I wasn’t just her life long friend I was also her therapist now, ever since she finally decided to confess her sin and asked me to help her get back on the straight path.

“Ibrahim thought confessing the truth to his sister would help him clear his conscious. He admitted he got distracted while driving coz I was texting him.” Rehana gasped for breath. “I went to ask Zahra for forgiveness, but she wouldn’t listen. It was horrible.” Rehana sobbed. “Even after I swore I ended it with her brother, she called me the worst names. She said she couldn’t understand how good people like her end up suffering instead of devils like me. She’s right Lilly. She’s so right.”
“She’s angry, Rehana. No one knows what they’d do if they were in her situation.”
“She said she wasn’t gonna suffer the consequences alone, and then threatened to tell my husband and my parents. She said she’ll make sure this scandal follows me everywhere I go, at work and at the institution. She never gave me a chance to explain.” Rehana was shaking uncontrollably I could tell she was about to have a nervous breakdown.
“Somebody HELPPPP” I cried.

Later that night

“Psych ward? Are you people insane?” I asked the nurse when I went to visit the next day. “Rehana is fine. She’s just a bit stressed out.”
“Doctor’s orders, ma’am.” The bored nurse replied.
“I need to see her”

Rehana was sitting on the floor alone in a dimmed room, barefoot and her hair disarrayed. She looked exactly like the first time I met her in fifth grade sitting in detention outside the principle’s office. She had the kindest heart yet, ever since we were little girls; she always ended up getting herself in trouble.

“It’s over Lilly…” Rehana stared at the wall blankly.
“It’s not honey. Have faith in Allah. He can change the unchangeable. You know that, right?”
“Ibrahim hates me. Zahra hates me. My parents hate me. My husband hates me. And even you hate me..” Rehana bowed her head down in disgrace.
“I don’t hate you Rehana. I love you and I’m gonna help you through this.” I cried.
“It’s too late for me. I don’t deserve Allah’s forgiveness…”
“Please don’t say that. The door to repentance is always open..”
“I know Allah hates me for what I’ve done. Zahra’s right. I am the devil.”
“What happened to Zahra isn’t anyone’s fault. It’s an act of God, and God will never allow bad things to happen unless good comes out of it.” I insisted. “Allah loves us, Rehana.”
“I’ve done so much damage, Lilly. You don’t know how many people I’ve hurt and how many lives I’ve singlehandedly ruined.”
“There’s still time to learn from your mistakes and fix what you broke. Like Omar Ibn Al Khattab said, ‘sometimes the people with the worst past create the best future.’”
Rehana buried her head in her two pale palms. “Lilly, I really loved Ibrahim and I never wanted to hurt him or his family. Promise me you’ll help him fix his life and find happiness. Promise me you’ll help everyone who suffered because of my actions.”
“I’ll try” I replied, desperate to say something soothing.
“I left a letter to my husband asking for his forgiveness, please make sure he gets it” Rehana whispered before sliding out a gun from under the carpet she was sitting on.

Where on Earth would she get a gun in solitary? I wondered silently, my heart pounding so loud, evidently distracting my brain from coming up with a plan.
“Please, don’t” I pleaded. “Trust me, there are other options!”
“I wish that were true..” Rehana whispered.
“Noooooooooooooo”

A couple of weeks later

 

“She tried to take her own life?” Zahra repeated the question like an endless tireless echo.

“We stopped her at the last minute. Unfortunately she suffered major deficits and is now in a coma. Doctors don’t think she’ll wake up anytime soon”

I came to see Zahra at the institution, still overwhelmed and heartbroken.

“I can’t believe she tried to kill herself. Why? How can any Muslim do that? I swear I wasn’t gonna say anything. I’d never shame anyone that way. I didn’t mean it. I was just blabbering out of anger, I didn’t mean it.” Zahra slurred.
It took a couple of days for her to absorb the immense impact of her words. She couldn’t eat or sleep; she was practically going insane with remorse.

“My heart is gonna explode. I don’t know how to go back to my life as if nothing happened. I’m so angry and hurt I don’t think I can take this anymore.” Zahra cried.

“Rehana gave up the Lord’s endless mercy and submitted to the whispers of Satan. She forgot that He says “No one despairs of Allah’s soothing mercy except those who have no faith” (Holy Quran, 12:87). Her hopelessness affected so many people. Her loved ones will never be the same again and they’ll probably never forgive her. If you give up now… Zahra I don’t know what will happen to them, to Ibrahim, Ali, Omar, Salma, Aisha, your parents, your friends. It will change them. If you fall apart now, you’ll drop their hopes to their ground, shattering their faith and willpower. And like poison, this anger and bitterness will spread around and it won’t end. It will never ever end.”

“This is a huge burden to carry…” Zahra wept softly.
“Life is a test; it’s full of hardships. But we must remember the events that take place during our journey don’t control us, our decision do. And you have a decision to make. This is the tipping point Zahra, whatever you decide today will change everyone’s life forever….”

 

Three months later

“I can’t find Zahra” Aisha panicked; still holding her sister-in-law’s abandoned wedding gown. “I think she ran away”

“How could she possibly run away? She’s BLIND!”

 
To be continued….

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

Episode Five: Inside The Therapist’s Office

Office

 

Season Two: Inside The Therapist’s Office

Episode Five: Feel The Power

 

With slumped shoulders and a gloomy look pulling his face down towards the ground, Ibrahim asked,

“Have you ever resented someone so much you actually felt physical pain? It really does eat you up inside. Especially when it’s someone you used to love..”

 

“Oh that’s right, you did the dishes ONCE since we got married. You should be nominated for ‘Husband of the Year’ award” Aisha, Ibrahim’s wife huffed sarcastically.
“I said I’ll do them.” Ibrahim mumbled.
“Really? You mean like right now? Or after you wake up from your three-hour nap in front of the TV?”

All they do is fight. And all she does is find ways to blame, belittle and put him on an endless, tiring guilt-trip. History has a weird way of repeating itself, for he watched his mom do the exact same thing to his dad all throughout his childhood. Ibrahim promised himself he would never allow his wife to disrespect him, but unfortunately, he eventually became his father. And instead of drawing a firm line, he just avoided her completely and drowned himself in work instead.

 

“You hardly leave the office Mr. Ibrahim. When do you sleep?” His secretary Rehana asked with a suggestive smile, leaning forward on his desk.

“I have to double check every one else’s work before giving in the weekly reports” Ibrahim stuttered, his eyes fixed on his computer screen.

“I admire your devotion.” Rehana complimented him as usual.
“You can go home Rehana. It’s getting late”

“Oh if my boss is here then I’m here.” She smiled, pouring him a cup of coffee. “Just let me know if you need anything. Anything at all.”

“Thank you” Ibrahim cleared his throat.

 

“A cup of coffee turned to two then dinner and late night chats and before I knew it…” Ibrahim said in a sad, brittle tone. “I was enjoying the attention. I never thought it would go this far. “

“What are you planning to do now?” I asked.

“I don’t know” Ibrahim drew in a long breath. “Aisha’s nagging and rejection made me lose my mind. I’m not a cheater. This isn’t who I am”

“Do you blame your wife for what happened?” I asked.

“The night of the accident, we were all in the car when Rehana called my cell. I picked up and pretended she was one of my coworkers. She said I must look great in a tux, something Aisha, my own wife, would never say! I hung up quickly, having mixed feelings of love and immense guilt.” Ibrahim confessed.

“And then what happened?” I asked.
“I usually put my cell in the cup holder while I’m driving. I was getting a lot of text messages after I hung up, and I was worried they were from Rehana. I didn’t want Aisha to get suspicious. My cell was beeping non-stop when a semi truck carrying Iron pipes came out of nowhere! I swear I only looked at the phone for exactly two seconds. TWO SECONDS!”

“It must be very difficult for you to relive this memory” I said.

“I ruined my baby sister’s life and wrecked my marriage. I don’t know how to live with what I did. For weeks I haven’t been able to sleep or eat or go to work. I hate myself. I’m a complete mess. I’m so gonna burn in hell.”
“Please don’t say that. Allah is the Forgiver of all sins.”
“I’m not going alone. Aisha will burn in hell with me.” Ibrahim added, totally ignoring my words.
“Are you holding her responsible for what happened too?” I asked.

“Of course I am. I would have never given Rehana a second look if Aisha had taken care of me and made me feel like the man of the house. I was a religious man when I met her. I’ve been a faithful husband for years. I was patient and supportive but she gave me nothing in return. She was always criticizing and making me feel like a failure. Can you really blame me for what I did?”

 

“That’s not for me to decide. We all think we have good reasons for the bad things we do. Allah, the Greatest Judge of All has the final say. He is the One who knows what’s in our hearts.” I said.

“Did Aisha say anything to you? Do you think she knows?”

“What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” I joked.

“I want you to know I ended things with Rehana a long time ago.” Ibrahim sniffed then rubbed his nose. “I blocked her and deleted all our chats.”

“Then why are you so worried?’ I asked.

 

“You’re lying. I can tell from your voice” Zahra said, her back towards her eldest brother. “You’re still seeing her aren’t you?”

“Only once since the accident. I had to end things face to face.” Ibrahim confessed.

“You said you were gonna end it the last time I caught you both at the office, and that was months ago. How could you do this Ibrahim?”

Ibrahim chose to remain silent. He didn’t wanna argue with Zahra or try to explain his reasons for cheating. She had already been through enough heartache.

 

“I’m sorry Zoe. I think I fell in love with her.”

“She’s MARRIED!” Zahra yelled, throwing her head back and her arms in the air. “I didn’t tell anyone because I believed you were sorry. I believed you woke up and repented. But I guess the only reason you apologized is because you got caught or because you were in trouble. You know who you remind me of? People in the hellfire begging Allah to take them back to their previous lives so they can do good, except Allah knows they would surely repeat the same mistakes.”

“I guess I deserve that..” Ibrahim wiped his tears. It’s true, Zahra had been keeping his secret for a long time, but it didn’t change the fact he had fell from grace with his baby sister after so many times of repeatedly assuring her the affair was over when it really wasn’t.

“What are you gonna say to your Lord on Judgment Day?” Zahrah asked, her back towards her brother, refusing to look at him.

“Zahrah please stop. I’m not the coward you think I am. I had my reasons and Allah is Merciful. He forgives sins”

 

Ibrahim, if our near-death experience didn’t serve as a wake up call for you, I don’t know what will. Do you know why belief in Judgment Day is an essential pillar of faith? Because even if you worship Allah alone, and believe in His angels, books and prophets, you have to remember you’ll be held accountable for your choices. You’ll stand before ‘Al-Jabbar’ alone! Do you think He will accept your apology just because you got caught? Or accept your excuses just because you’re in pain? We are all in pain Ibrahim.”

Zahrah finally turned around to face him, which made Ibrahim weaken to his knees. He took one look at her, fell to the ground and sobbed hysterically, asking her over and over to forgive him.

“I left feeling ashamed of myself. Her words shook me to the core. She said she will forgive me once I end it completely. I can’t believe I’ve ruined Zahrah’s life and she is still considering giving me another chance. I don’t understand how she can find it in her heart to forgive me.” Ibrahim’s eyes welled up.
“First you need to forgive yourself”
“How was I so blinded? What happened made me realize I was never really in love with Rehana, I just craved the attention and the way she made me feel. How was that need greater than my fear of Judgment Day?”

“This is what happens when we close our hearts and run away from our feelings. Instead of resolving them, we cover them up and give ourselves excuses, and this temporary relief becomes an addiction that furthermore numbs our hearts. We choose to become victims when things don’t go our way, and sometimes we lose faith by seeking revenge or deciding to follow our whims. We become selfish when giving doesn’t pay off. Believing in Judgment Day is the fifth pillar of faith, and its essence is in believing you’ll be accountable for your actions, regardless of what others have done. This unwavering belief gives you self-confidence, strength and willpower. It puts an end to the helplessness you feel. It lets you own up to your own successes and failures. I’m sorry Ibrahim, but you can’t blame Aisha’s nagging for your cheating, that’s like blaming the person who created chocolate for your weight gain!”

“The worst part is I miss Rehana sometimes and that’s why I feel so guilty. She won’t return my calls. I have no idea where she is. It’s like she fell off the top of the Earth” Ibrahim sighed.

I closed his file and took a deep calming breath. “That’s the only way to avoid temptation. Cut off the ropes bonding you to the sin completely. Perhaps that’s what she tried to do. Try doing the same Ibrahim. I know it won’t be easy. I advise you to ask Allah to help you get through this. Ask Him to take her out of your system. Ask for forgiveness and work on fixing your marriage before it’s too late..”

Ibrahim left feeling weary yet hopeful, and promised he would try. I looked at his file and all the other files of my current patients. They all told the same story so differently.

I suddenly couldn’t hold back my tears.
They had no idea it was Zahra who blamed herself the most.
They had no idea she carried more guilt than all of their remorse put together..
And what killed me the most, is that my patients had no idea of my true identity..
To be continued…

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

 

Episode Four: Inside The Therapist’s Office

Office

 

Season Two: Inside The Therapist’s Office

Episode Four: Feel The Joy and Pain

 

“I still get ups and downs, even though the decision has been made.” Aisha sighed.

“Are you having second thoughts again?” I asked.

“No. The truth is, I used to look down on women who didn’t wear the hijab and those who took it off. I thought they were gonna burn in hell. But then the weirdest thing happened. The same veil I took pride in became the thing that suffocated me the most! Now I understand and sympathize. This piece of cloth can be your best blessing or your worst nightmare”

“That’s a strong statement.” I said carefully.

“I’m not going to take it off. I’m just saying it makes me feel depressed sometimes, and I’m already miserable enough thank you very much!” She twisted the wedding ring on her finger and then looked away.

“Aisha, this dinner is very important to my sister. My whole family is expecting you to be there. So please apologize to your friends and let’s not fight like last time.” Her husband sighed.

“It’s Helen’s birthday. I have to go! Lola and Sara will kill me if I don’t. Do you have any idea how hard it was to find a table at this restaurant? OMG it’s like the place to be on a Friday night.” Aisha exclaimed. ”I’ll catch up with you guys as soon as I can. And I’ll make up a very good reason for being late I promise.” Aisha added, too busy applying her makeup to even look at her husband.

The conversation didn’t stop there.
It never did.
They kept arguing until they were both yelling at the top of their lungs.

“What do you mean ‘what will my mom say’? Let me remind you honey, you’re the one terrified of her, not me!” Aisha snapped.

“Ladies and gentlemen please take your seats. Aisha’s daily nagging show is about to start” Her husband announced sarcastically.

“The truth hurts, I know” Aisha added bitterly. “Here’s another ugly truth. It’s not about you being religious. We both know you aren’t. The only reason you won’t allow me to take my hijab off is because you’re scared of your mother. She practically runs our life!” 

After about an hour of fighting, Aisha decided to cancel with her friends and join her husband’s family dinner. She was no longer in a ‘partying’ mood anyway. She just wanted to avoid his acidic vibe and hopefully be far away from him as possible.
Watching the numbers descend on the elevator screen, and her husband checking his phone for the millionth time, Aisha couldn’t help mumbling under her breath “I hope something happens that will make us NOT go”

“You know, even though social obligations are a big deal for him and he guilts me into wearing the hijab and acting the part of a very proper, pious couple; he does it with no real conviction or awareness. He’s always some place else even when he’s standing right next to me, always focused on his phone and his work. He dismisses my feelings when I tell him so many people make me feel small because of my hijab. He never compliments me or makes me feel beautiful. I’ve become a ghost he’s scared of yet doesn’t see. Sometimes I feel he’s so far way I start suspecting he might be in love with someone else! I’m exhausted I don’t know who I am anymore. I’m tired of feeling insecure at home and left out in public. I just want to blend in instead of being stared at, shunned and ignored. It’s making me become an angry, miserable bitter person. It’s making me become aggressive and ungrateful. Don’t you think this upsets Allah more than me taking off the hijab?” Aisha asked.

“You know which people have been ridiculed, shunned, ignored and made fun of? The prophets. Everyone loved and respected them, until they preached something different from what people wanted to hear and then hell broke loose.” I said.

“Who are we to compare ourselves to the prophets?” Aisha asked defensively.

“Nobodies. We can never compare to them. Yet, believing in Allah’s messengers is the fourth pillar of faith. Why do you think that is?” I asked.

“Because if we didn’t believe in them we would have rejected the message they came with commanding us to worship Allah alone.”

“True. Except Allah dedicated a big part of the Holy books to tell us their stories. Don’t you think that’s part of the message?”

“What do you mean?” Aisha asked.

“The prophets were the nicest people on the planet and yet they were called the worst of names, evicted and threatened.” I explained. “They’re human and they have feelings, too. Did you think this struggle was easy for them? They persevered and continued with their greater spiritual Jihad. So even if we don’t compare to them, at least we are obliged to learn from and emulate their great efforts.”

“Are you saying me feeling this way, rejected and belittled because of my attire, is part of my Jihad?” Aisha wondered.

“We don’t grow when things are easy, Aisha. We grow when we face challenges, for they aren’t sent to destroy us, they’re there to strengthen and promote us to a higher level. In a way, the fourth pillar says: ‘Don’t be afraid of being different, be afraid of being like everyone else.’”

 

“You know, I cry myself to sleep every night. I blame myself for the accident. I feel like Allah flipped the car to punish me. Or perhaps to remind me that life is short. I’ve never said this to anyone but I feel guilty all the time…”

Aisha lowered her head and went into a soft daze, as if she had unblocked something that melted her frozen heart and allowed the tears to finally flow down her face….

 

“If Allah wants to do good to somebody, He afflicts him with trials.” (https://sunnah.com/bukhari/75/5)” Zahra said.

“You’ve always been the ‘cup is half full’ type of girl, even after everything that’s happened. And I keep wondering, where do you find all this peace?” Aisha asked.

“We don’t look for peace Aisha, it comes to us. You’ll only find inner peace and true joy when you do everything from the heart…” Zahra replied.

“What if you can’t do it from the heart, Zahra? You know what happened changed me too. I know I should be more grateful. I know I should be more patient. But somehow, even though I’m trying, all I feel is pain..” Aisha cried.

“Maybe that’s a good thing. Rumi says: ‘The wound is the place where the light enters you. The cure for the pain is in the pain”. Zahra explained.

“I can’t believe how wise you’ve become. You sound like one of those famous spiritual speakers. Who knows? Maybe that will be your calling.”

“Maybe” Zahra smiled.

 

“I’ve learned so much from her. She’s the reason I’m here today.” Aisha confessed. “I used to be a better person before I went this numb. I wish I could regain my faith. I want to feel the joy she feels and see what she only sees.”

“You know what you’re feeling right now? This craving desire to be closer to Allah? Hold on to it Aisha for it comes by so rarely. In the wake of an extremely materialistic world, we sometimes forget to meet our spiritual needs. We pretend like the people we befriend and the things we watch don’t affect us but let’s face it, they do! And so our hearts crawl away from Allah bit by bit, we hardly even notice it till its too late. Hold on to this beautiful rare feeling of wanting to be better Aisha and try to recapture it. Recite the duas of the Prophets especially the ones mentioned in the Qur’an”

“Our Lord, let not our hearts deviate after You have guided us and grant us from Yourself mercy. Indeed, You are the Bestower.” (Holy Qur’an 3:8)

Recognition dawned on her face and I could see the tears of joy and pain shimmering in her eyes.

“Amen” She whispered. “I’ll see you next week inshAllah.”

The following day, my next client arrived on time for his session, and we spoke for a while before he burst out.

“How can you say this? Don’t try to sugar coat the truth, Lilly. You know just as well as I do, I’m the one who caused the accident!”
“I know you believe that and this is why you’re here, Ibrahim. To talk about it and analyze your feelings.” I said gently.

“I have! And you know what I’ve realized? The only thing worse than killing my baby sister….is not killing her.”

 

To be continued.

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

Episode Three: Inside The Therapist’s Office

Office

Season Two: Inside The Therapist’s Office

Episode Three: Feel The Way

 

“There’s someone in my head, but it’s not me” Omar confessed.

“What’s that like?” I asked curiously.

“Like a horrible nightmare. I live my life pretending to believe in something I’m not sure I truly believe in. And unfortunately, I’m a horrible liar!”

“Why would you lie about your beliefs? You’re a grownup now, and I’m sure you can decide what’s right and what’s wrong.”
“Because I’m confused and I don’t wanna hurt my loved ones anymore. I’m killing them slowly, one by one” Omar added sadly.

 

She sat near the window, relishing the warmth of the sun. Even though she hadn’t said a word, Omar was positively sure she knew he’d been standing behind her near the door just staring silently. She just chose to ignore his presence, like she’s been doing for the past few weeks.

“You look different” Omar finally broke the silence.

“I feel different” Zahra said, still not looking at him.

“I’m sorry for what I did” Omar whispered softly.

“For what? For challenging Allah and nearly getting us all killed?”

“Zoe I know you blame me for everything that happened. I don’t know what to do to make it better. What can I do for you to forgive me?” Omar asked.

“I was angry when I said those things.. I lost my faith for a while but now, I see things differently, and I wish you could too.”

“I do”

“No Omar, you don’t. What happened made you angrier at Allah and more confused. There’s a war raging inside you. You’re asking me to forgive you but you know what you really need? You need to forgive yourself first.” Zahra said softly.

 

Omar turned around and covered his face with his hands. And even though Zahra couldn’t see the tears streaming down his cheeks, she knew her words touched his heart.  

“If you really love me Omar, help yourself.” She said. “You’ll find the card on the table. Please go see this therapist. That’s all I’m asking.”

 

 

“Are you angry at Allah?” I asked Omar.

“I am” He replied. “And I know it hurts Zoe more than anything she’s been through. She’s probably scared I might go to hell”

“Well, no one other than Allah knows who is going where” I said calmly.
“Exactly. Thank you! You just made my point for me. Why create us if He already knows who is going to Paradise and who is going to Hellfire? Isn’t this a form of sadism? Why give me a functioning, logical brain and then torment me for using it to question the unseen? I really want to know!” Omar asked.
“What do you think would have been a better scenario?’

“An obedient creation that doesn’t analyze or go against His will. A creation that worships Him alone and isn’t put through the test of a lifelong search for the truth that might easily end with eternal torture!” Oman snapped.

 

“He already created this type: The angels” I replied. “They do what they’re told, worship Him day and night and have no willpower. And then Allah created humans, and gave them the choice to believe or not, making them superior to the flawless, sinless angels.”

“So you’re saying in the test of life, everyone has a fair chance?”

“Depends how you look at it. When Med-students for example sit for their exams, don’t they all have a fair chance to pass or fail?” I asked. “Or do you think fairness necessitates they all become doctors whether they’ve earned it or not?”

“ No of course not. But students have textbooks to study from and plenty of time to learn and practice.” Omar barked.

“And so do we. The original scriptures of Torah, Gospel, Psalms, and the Qur’an were sent to humankind as guidance. This is why belief in the books is the third pillar of faith; because Allah is fair. He would never test humans without revealing the truth clearly first.”

Omar pondered silently, trying to open his mind to the other side of the argument

“You see, elite colleges and universities expect straight A’s. They expect a lifetime of dedication and perfection. If a doctor, a lawyer or a judge for example makes a big mistake they might lose their license, and their careers and reputations would be ruined for life. But Allah is Merciful and Kind, He doesn’t expect perfection. He expects progress, good intentions and for us to purify our hearts. He expects us to seek the truth, learn from our mistakes, help each other and worship Him alone. And once you read the Qur’an with the humility of a student, and not with the scrutiny of a doubtful critic, the truth will manifest as clear as the shining bright sun.”

“I read it, yet sometimes I’m appalled and confused by all the harsh rules and warnings. Why does Allah have to remind us of His punishment? Why can’t His words all be about good rewards and about spreading love and peace?” Omar asked.

“Do you stop at red lights? Even if no one is looking?” I smiled.

“Umm yes”

“Why? Is it because the police give out bouquets of red roses to those who do?”

“No” Omar laughed. “Because I’ll get a ticket if I don’t”

“But why are there laws and penalties and jails? Why can’t the government give us all a nice pep talk about the glory of peace and harmony and then leave us to our own devices?”

“That’s absurd. You can’t keep order without strict laws…. Okay I get it now.” Omar smiled knowingly.

“Just because Allah is compassionate and merciful, doesn’t mean He won’t be Just and Fair. Without the laws prescribed in the Holy books, humans would literally behave like animals and chaos would prevail. Those who follow Allah’s commands and those who don’t cannot be equal.“

“But now if I’m skeptic about the Qur’an for example, does that make me a non-believer, even if I believe in God?” Omar asked.

“I’ll answer your question with another question. Do you think if you had seen the sea part for Prophet Moses, or had witnessed prophet Jesus raise the dead and cure the sick, and denied those miracles saying ‘nah, I don’t buy it. This must be magic or an illusion’, would that have made you a non-believer?”

“I guess so. Denying miracles is a form of doubt or disbelief.”

“Exactly. And the Qur’an is also a miracle. It has baffled scientists, doctors, historians, nutritionists, philosophers, linguists… you name it! The list goes on.” I explained. “Except you can’t take the miracle in slices; say you believe some verses and deny others. If you think about it, belief in the Qur’an strengthens your faith.”

“How?” Omar asked with genuine curiosity.

“You see when you stop your car at a red light, you do so because you fear punishment. It’s more of an obligation. But when you stop your car to help someone in need, that’s a humane action of the heart. Exactly like our religion. It becomes a hollow shell if we just mindlessly perform all our rituals like praying, fasting and reading Qur’an in a hurry. But when you ponder on Allah’s words, and follow His rules out of love, that’s the true meaning of humanity. You can memorize every word and carry all the knowledge in your head, but what really matters is the belief and knowledge in your heart….”

“You sound like Zoe. We were having a similar discussion in the car, one that ended badly. Very, very badly..”

 

“I’m sick of hearing this Zoe! You don’t need to be religious to be a good person.” Omar said, fiddling with his annoying seatbelt.

‘I say it because I love you! Just try to open your heart. I know you’ll eventually find your way back to God” She said softly.

“That is so obnoxious. It’s like me saying ‘I hope you’ll eventually find your way away from God!” How would that make you feel?” Omar complained.

“It’s okay if you have doubts.” Zahra explained. “As long as you believe there is One God and He’s the only Judge.”
“If God has a problem with me not believing in Him then He should take it up with me, man to man. Right here, right now!” Omar boasted.

 

“I don’t know if I can ever forgive myself for what happened next. How did I challenge the Lord? What was I thinking?” Omar wept. “I didn’t mean what I said. I wanted to take it all back the second the words came out of my mouth, especially when Zoe gasped in horror and went completely pale. At that moment, even though she wasn’t dead, I saw the life leave her beautiful eyes slowly…”

Omar left with a broken heart, but perhaps that’s what also opened it for the light of faith to come through. Sometimes the worst heartaches are just blessings in disguise.

“Everyone is blaming Omar for the accident.” Aisha, my next patient said, tensing her shoulders and refusing to make eye contact with me. “The truth is, it wasn’t his fault at all. It was mine..”

 

To be continued…

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

Episode Two: Inside The Therapist’s Office

Office

 

Season Two: Inside The Therapist’s Office

Episode Two: Feel The Light

 

(Disclaimer: This article might not be suitable for readers under 16 as it includes some graphic descriptions.)

 

“People on the street are scared of me.” Ali said, “I don’t blame them. I’m scared of me too.”

“Is that why you’ve been refusing to see me? Did you think I’d be scared of you?” I asked.

“It doesn’t matter. I’m here now.” Ali snapped, pulling at his grey hoodie to cover his face even more.

“Your life has changed drastically. I can’t imagine how hard that must be for you.”

Ali clenched his jaws angrily, trying to stop himself from reliving the memory of that fateful day.

 

“Sir, can you tell me your name?”
“What happened? Am I dead yet?” Ali asked, slipping in and out of consciousness, as the paramedics rushed his gurney inside the ER.

“Sir, you’ve been in a car accident. Don’t worry, we’re gonna take care of you, okay?”

 

Word traveled fast across the hospital. The young man was driving 50 miles over the speed limit. His car flipped in the air twice before exploding into flames. His surgeons did everything they could to save him and sixteen hours later they were finally able to give his distraught parents some comforting news, for even though he suffered severe burns, they all agreed it was a miracle he was still alive.

 

“A miracle? Look at me!” Ali cried out, yanking his hoodie off to reveal his burnt, scarred face.

My heart skipped a beat and I held my breath a little bit longer than I should have, I must have went utterly pale when I looked at him. The scars and burns had distorted his features completely, as if they had no intention of ever healing. One of his eyelids was missing, making his right eye bulge out like a juicy grape. His left eye had completely disappeared under an enormous wart-like wound. The boiled skin on his face had black ridges; it looked like the surface of a melting pot, with his nose smashed in, his chin forked and his callous upper lip still horribly bloodcurdling swollen.

“I’m A MONSTER. A hideous monster! They should have let me die.”

“People don’t have that much power Ali. It’s Allah’s command. He decides how we live and when we die and by His will our guardian angels either protect us or let go.” I explained after composing myself quickly.
“Guardian angels?” Ali scoffed. “What is this a Disney movie?”
“Why? Don’t you believe in angels?” I asked.
“I don’t know what I believe in anymore. I believe in Allah of course, He’s our Creator. But Tooth fairies and guardian angels? I don’t know. Does it even matter?”
“Hey don’t insult Tooth-fairies. A little birdie tells me you believed in them till you were like thirteen!” I joked.
“I think we’re done here” Ali slammed my desk angrily and headed towards the office door.

“Ali, when you love someone you keep your promise to them and you promised..”
“Don’t you dare say her name” Ali warned. He threw his head back and took a deep breath, then came back to sit down.
“Okay you’re right. I’m sorry” He apologized, “You were saying? Something about angels?”
“Perhaps human-look-alike fairies don’t exist, but angels do!And of course it matters. Believing in Allah is the first pillar of faith and believing in angels is the second, that’s a pretty huge deal, don’t you think?”
“Why? It’s not like we worship angels or see them or communicate with them in any way. What difference does it make if we believe in them or not?”
“Ali, I know you’re Muslim, but how exactly did you learn about Islam?” I asked.
“From my parents! And later when I grew up, from the Qur’an” he replied.
“And how did the Holy Qur’an reach us?”
“Through Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him”
“Yes but where did our Prophet get it from?”“From God, the Qur’an is Allah’s words. You’re an Islamic psychologist. Aren’t you supposed to know this stuff?” Ali asked sarcastically.
“Yes, and that’s why I know Allah didn’t speak to the Prophet directly except one time, so how was the Qur’an transmitted from the heavens to the Earth?”
“Through Angel Jibreel. I get it now.” Ali finally showed a hint of a smile. “If we didn’t believe in angels, the foundation we’ve built our religion on would collapse.”
“Exactly! It’s not just that. Angels are involved in our daily lives more than you think.”
“Like how?” Ali seemed to be getting less agitated and more comfortable.
“Well. There are many types of angels with different job descriptions. For example, we have two angels on our shoulders like surveillance cameras, recording our every deed. Some angels are like bodyguards; those are the guardian angels. Listen to this:

“For each one are successive [angels] before and behind him who protect him by the decree of Allah” (Holy Quran, 13:11)

Some angels are like journalists; they report back to Allah about gatherings for the sake of dhikr (remembrance of Allah). Others act like the fictional fairy godmothers” I laughed, “They invoke Allah to send blessings our way, to guide us and forgive us.”

“I remember learning about them. There’s also angel Israfil, blower of the Trumpet on Judgment Day. Mikael, angel of rain, Ridwan, guardian of Paradise, Malik, guardian of Hellfire.” Ali added.
“Wow, you’re good. Looks like you do believe in angels after all.” I smiled.
“We study their names and tasks but never really pause to think about their significance.”
“Who else did we forget to mention? Oh, there’s the scary questioners of the grave, Munkar and Nakir.”
“And Azrael, the angel of death who refuses to take my soul no matter how hard I plead or how recklessly I behave.” Ali confessed.

“Ali, were you trying to commit suicide that day? Is that why you were driving like a maniac?”

“I wanted to die but I didn’t want to commit suicide and meet my Lord a non-believer. I guess on some level I am aware there are angels documenting my every move and thought. It makes you vigilant about your actions, and usually helps you stay aware and feel secure. Not that day though, my anger blinded me too much!”
“Why? What happened?” I asked.

“Mom, I’m sorry you’re unhappy but I love her and I’m gonna marry her and there’s nothing you can do about it” Ali steamed while flipping the house upside down looking for his cell phone.
“Shame on you Ali” his mom paced, following him around. “You want to get married against your parents’ will? Is this how we raised you?”
Ali was the most sought after bachelor in town. He was tall, young, rich, and strikingly attractive. He always looked impeccably captivating, like he had just walked out of a fashion magazine. Girls were practically throwing themselves at him. His secret nickname was ‘prince charming’ and his parents were well aware of that little fact, too.

“Mom I promised I would fight the whole world for her. I promised nothing would tear us apart. I know you disagree but it’s my life. Let me live it the way I want.”
“The answer is NO!”

Ali slammed the door behind him and went to see his beloved, who was still refusing to meet him. Her parents asked him to stay away and let her move on with her life.
“My daughter is a proud young woman, she’ll never agree to marry a man without his parents’ approval. It’s over so please leave her alone.” Her mom said before closing the door in his face.

Ali left the building feeling crushed, got into his car and drove off at the speed of lightening. This is when he got into a terrible accident and was rushed into surgery about two hours later. The plastic surgeon said it might take years before a reconstruction could make him look half normal again.


“You don’t have to worry about me getting married against your will anymore” Ali cried, “No woman will ever want to see this hideousness every day.”


His mom drowned in grief and guilt, especially after Ali had sequestered himself in his room and refused to speak to anyone. Until the day he received a letter from his beloved saying:

“When a person puts gold into fire, it comes out purer than it ever was. And when Allah puts one through huge trials, they come out better and stronger. Aren’t those your words to me, Ali? I am happy now, and I wish you could find happiness one day, too. You promised you’d try….”

“I was trying to be a hero when I said those words to her. But now I realize, maybe she doesn’t need a hero in her life…. She needs a monster, and that’s why I’m here.” Ali whispered.

The Ali everyone knew was long gone, for since that day nothing was ever the same again..

Omar, my next client came a little earlier than expected. He ducked quickly behind the couch when he saw Ali leave my office.
How would he ever face him, when everyone knew what happened was all Omar’s fault….

 

To be continued…
Lilly S. Mohsen

 

The ‘Before’ and ‘After’ Click!

Throwback Hajj journey 2015

 

Day Six Diary:

Tick tock tick tock

It’s 8:35am and we are all counting the minutes till dhuhr prayer, which is when the most beautiful and glorious day of the year starts right here on mount Arafah. This is what we came here for, and this is why I paid extra charges for overweight luggage since the thousands of hearts I took with me didn’t fit in my purple carry-on!

 

Today is the day people! You’ll all be transformed and reborn by Maghreb prayer inshAllah.

Oh my God! You know what sounds like so much fun?

A before and after picture!!

You know when you’re all pale and geeky then you get a fabulous makeover? And then the picture is photoshopped and ho-ho! You’re as beautiful as the sun and moon put together!

Except today’s makeover is of your inner souls… Your Merciful Great Lord will delete the sins of your past by sunset along with all its regrets and mistakes. There’s no tricks or technology involved. It’s purely you…glowing with peace and blessings… As innocent as a newborn baby, with a chance to start anew…

The Before Picture:

Do you think it’s safe to whine a little bit before Dhuhr prayer? Coz I so need to take it out of my “before” drama-queen-system.

Dhuhr is at noon so we’re good for a couple of hours!

Okay, so we finished Hajj rites at the Ka’bah yesterday and ran to the buses to spend the night at mount Arafa. It’s so not a sunnah actually, but with the traffic nightmare, it’s better to be safe than sorry. A couple of years ago, a group of pilgrims got stuck on the road, they arrived at Arafat AFTER Maghreb! Like hello? Too late! They missed Hajj completely and had to redo it the following year.

Anyways, Hajjis stay in tents, one for men and one for women. We walked in and looked at each other with confusion, seeing there wasn’t enough room for all hundred women to sleep in, we realized “Uhm we have a problem!” It was after midnight and this was the only chance to get some sleep for another two days. So the plan was to take turns. Yes, you heard that right! There was a line up for sleep, just like the one outside for the bathrooms (not a correct term though. It’s actually just a toilet and a tiny drain, and if you wanna shower, I guess you stand on top of the toilet and use the shower head)

I met my lovely cousins here too, and they were so sweet they managed to save one single bed for both my sister in law and I.  Both of us crammed in a tiny bunk bed it felt like that movie “Honey I Blew Up The Kids!” We laughed so hard. I mean  it’s 100 degrees outside, the lights are on, there’s 40 women around you engaging in bedtime gossip, loud noises of cars and sirens, and about 4000 Mosquitos distributed evenly amongst us! Plus the line up outside.

(I told you I was gonna whine lol)

But sobhan Allah, even with all that, we still got some peaceful sleep, and now we can’t wait for dhuhr!

“Click”

Sorry, that was my camera taking the “before” picture!

 

Shhhhhhhh The Great Lord is descending to the first heaven…

Talk to Him… tell Him what’s aching your heart…. He is the most benevolent and the most generous…

Now go talk to Allah, He’s listening

 

The After Picture:

It’s 6:56pm and with the sunset of Arafah day, we have been reborn…

And there are no words to describe this feeling…

Everyone is so quiet and calm… Even though we have a long way ahead to Muzdalafa, and we’re extremely exhausted, everyone is smiling and praising the Great Lord…

Thanking Him for the luxury we take for granted back home…

Comfy beds, clean bathrooms, warm meals, shower gels and lotions!

And most of all thanking Him for giving us the means to come here…

And then inviting us to be His guests…

And even though we have done so much wrong, He’s giving us the chance to start a new page…

No wonder we are all smiling…

“Click”

That’s the “After” picture…

You can hardly see the faces: they’re all emitting so much pure white light…

You’ve been given a second chance… Take the right path and enlighten our world with every step you take…

Or take a wrong turn and..

You know what? Let me hang this picture on your wall. It will remind you daily that when you’re on the right track, nothing can go wrong…

When you’re with Allah, you’re more beautiful than the sun and moon put together…

 

Have a wonderful amazing Eid guys! I’m off to stone the stupid devil. Wish me luck!

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

Hajj Diaries: Lilly In Mecca

Throwback, Hajj journey 2015
Published exclusively on On Islam

Medina1.jpg

Day One Dairy: Friday

Can I Represent You For 7 Days?

Before you answer that question let me tell you something:

There’s approximately 1.8 Billion Muslims in the world today. And because of the capacity limit of the great Holy mosque in Mecca, only 3 million people out of the 1.8 billion can perform Hajj every year. If you do the boring math, you’ll realize that’s only 0.0016% of the Ummah. If you do more boring math, you’ll be shocked to know, that even if every Muslim gets a fair chance to fulfill their Hajj obligation, which is one of the main pillars in Islam, they’d have to wait more than a hundred years for their turn. Some people will live and die before having the chance to perform Hajj! Not because they’re sick or old or can’t afford it! But simply because of capacity limitations. Now that really sucks, doesn’t it?

Millions of Muslims apply for Hajj visas every year and get rejected. Millions can’t afford it, can’t take a leave from work, have little kids they can’t leave behind or are physically unable to travel. I know Hajj is only an obligation for those who are able, but just looking at these number and odds, it doesn’t seem fair to me! Less than 1% of Muslims get to be reborn through Hajj, sometimes every year, while others have zero chance!

 

Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) on a Jihad journey, said “We left many Muslims behind and yet they’re with us in every step and share the same rewards. All because they wished to join us but couldn’t…”

 

Is there perhaps a different kind of Hajj that you can do EVERY single year with your heart, and get the same reward of those who are physically there? Is your sincere intention and longing to please the Lord, enough to fulfill this one, out-of-reach pillar?

Yes, I think so too… Coz Allah is Fair, and He’s the Most Merciful

Try as you may, you’ll never understand the virtue and value of the first ten days of Dhul Hajjah, whether you’re in Mecca or at home. If you’re one of those people, who turn on the TV and watch the floods of white-dressed pilgrims circumbulate the Kaa’ba and hear your heart cry out “Awwwhhh I WISH I WAS THERE”

Then welcome! I’m glad to tell you, you’re in the right place. Please leave your heart in the Lobby along with your consent for me to take it with me. My name is Lilly. S Mohsen, and I will be your representative for the next 7 days inshAllah.

Did I mention I’m one of those lucky 0.016%?

Okay wait, don’t start mumbling jealous words yet. I’m sitting here in the beloved’s mosque in Madina, overwhelmed and humbled by this gift from Allah, and wishing you were all here with me….then I thought “you all can!”

All you need to do is have the intention. A true sincere and genuine intention to come to Hajj this year, have all your past mistakes deleted and start over a new page.

No cheating guys! I’m in a holy place, remember? I’ll know if your intentions are from the heart or not and then you’ll be SO busted! (Actually I won’t know. But I’ll still pretend I do!)

 

All I’m asking is for you to let go of the worldly distractions for a few days. Believe it with every cell in your body that this year, you can do Hajj with your heart…

 

As for me, I’ll walk you through the journey inshAllah during the coming days, which Allah testifies are the best days of the year and the most loved to Him. I’ll take your hearts with me every where I go, and on judgement day, if you’ve never had the chance to do your Hajj physically, I’ll be your faithful witness that in 2015, you came with your heart…

 

There’s a reason Allah inspired me with this thought, right here, sitting next to His beloved’s house. There’s a reason you’re reading this now and your heart is being opened slowly…

Perhaps it’s the only reason Allah invited me to His house, knowing how imperfect and undeserving I might be of this huge honor…

It’s because Allah loves you… And right now… He is looking at your heart…

 

May Allah accept your spiritual Hajj…

Let’s get this beautiful journey started…

 

Your Hajj Representative

Lilly S. Mohsen