Posted on Sep 06, 2015
A few weeks ago, after a long and tearful goodbye at the RDU Airport (it really could have been a scene from a movie), my best friend Aya set off to begin the journey of a lifetime—one she didn’t anticipate she’d make. We come from a mid-sized suburb in North Carolina. It’s one of those places nobody ever really leaves (or they do and eventually come back). Typically, you go to school here, get a job here, and start a family here. Not Aya though, she’s always had bigger plans. When opportunity came knocking at her door, Aya took it. She packed her bags, hopped on a plane, and is now living the dream of many in glamorous (or not so glamorous) New York City. For the next year, Aya will be a teaching assistant in the Bronx as part of an esteemed AmeriCorps education reform program called Blue Engine. Sounds pretty awesome, right? Oddly enough, that wasn’t always what she intended.
Rewind to our freshmen year of college, and we have eighteen-year-old Aya sitting among 300+ students in a biology course as a declared pre-med student. This class changed her fate. Realizing she wasn’t too intrigued by the subject matter, Aya decided to go a different route: global studies. Now fast forward to the spring semester of our junior year, when Aya was living in DC as part of a university-affiliated program. Her class decided to take a trip to the Big Apple. This would be her first time touring the city, and I remember gushing about how much she would enjoy it. This seems like the part in a movie where she falls in love with the bright lights and Alicia Keys’ “Empire State of Mind” plays in the background as she inhales the crisp (polluted) air and the overwhelming feeling of belonging floods her chest. PLOT TWIST: she came back thoroughly unimpressed. She absolutely HATED it. Her exact words were, “I could never live in New York City.”
You know what they say about never saying never.
Now we are in real time, and here she is. How is it that someone who swore this could never be the place for her end up falling for the fast-paced, intoxicating city? I call it destiny.
What exactly is “destiny?” It’s such a loaded word. In Arabic, destiny translates to “Qadr,” meaning that Allah (S) has decreed everything in the universe according to His absolute knowledge and infinite wisdom.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about this concept and how our fate plays out. It can be a hard notion to grasp. From what I know, we control our actions and make conscious (or unconscious) decisions, yet the outcome has already been predetermined by Allah (S), the most wise.
“The future belongs to God, and it is only he who reveals it, under extraordinary circumstances.” This is a quote from one of my favorite novels, The Alchemist. If you’ve read this book, you know how important the idea of “Maktoob” is. Maktoob means that everything is written by Allah (S). Everything has already been planned out and is happening exactly as it is supposed to. Your life is perfect. As Muslims, we are taught that the only thing that can change your fate is Du’aa (prayer).
Some of the wisest words I’ve ever been told were never to dwell on my shortcomings or feel insecure over things I cannot control, because it is Allah who has willed me to be this way. It is very easy to become overly critical of ourselves and search for flaws, both physically and spiritually, but as stated in Surat At-Tin, “We have indeed created humankind in the best of molds.” To feel inadequate or observe self-deprecating tendencies is to mock the creation of Allah (S). He does not make mistakes, nor does he create anything imperfectly.
Although it can be hard to internalize at times, this is something I have always been able to seek comfort in. There are periods in our lives when everything seems to be going wrong, or we feel the world is conspiring against us, and it’s very easy to spiral into a heap of self-doubt. But knowing about the concept of qadr and truly believing in its rationale has given me freedom. It has given me the freedom to be who I am and pursue my dreams and lead my life the way I feel I have been destined to. And most importantly, it has given me freedom from the shackles of regret. I know that even if things are going “wrong” according to MY plan, they are going right according to the plan of Allah (S); and surely He is the best of planners.
With all of this being said, I urge you to put your trust in God. He will always look out for you and ensure that your fate unfolds in the best of ways. If you find that this is difficult, then pay closer attention to your life. You’ll notice that a string of events that are seemingly insignificant when standing alone, tied together create something magnificent—and that is something only Allah(S) can do. When you feel like nothing is going quite the way you planned, seek refuge in knowing that you are exactly where Allah has decreed for you to be. That type of comfort allows everything else to make sense.