After lamenting at length about being single at her age, she concluded by putting the blame squarely on God:
"It will happen when God wants it to happen."
Unfortunately, we often shirk responsibility for our own actions--in my friend's case, rejecting many decent proposals in her youth--because of a misunderstanding of the concepts of fate and destiny (qada and qadir in Arabic).
While God's will rules supreme and He has predetermined some aspects of our lives, He has also given us freedom to make our own choices and, as such, choose our own adventures. This free will applies to seven parts of our bodies used to fulfill divine duties and earn rewards: eyes, ears, tongue, two hands, two feet, private parts and stomach, according to scholar Abbas Ayleya.
"We have shown man the path of truth and the path of falsehood; he may choose either the path of guidance and offer thanks, or choose the path of ingratitude." (Quran 76:3)
Ali, husband of Fatima (one of the four perfect women of all times), was resting in the shade of a broken wall when he suddenly rose and moved to another one.
"Are you fleeing what God has destined?" he was asked.
"Yes," he said. "I flee from one destiny to another."
Every year on the Night of Power (Laylatul Qadr in Arabic, which occurs in this month of Ramadan), God closes the books on our actions of the previous year while determining the upper and lower bounds of those in the next one, according to some traditions.
In His Generosity and Hospitality, He invites us (by making this one night better than a thousand months) to spend it with Him, seeking forgiveness for the past and asking for the best (such as goodness, righteousness, blessings and opportunities) in the year to come.
"[God is saying] I am inviting you inside the room so you can be part of what is being decided for you," says scholar Muhammad Baig. "How can someone sleep when their life is being decided?"
Ali said: "Fatima never allowed anybody to sleep on that night." She served little food and prepared to stay up. "Indeed, deprived is someone who is deprived from the goodness of this night," she said.
Some of the recommended acts of Laylatul Qadr include:
1) Taking a religious bath (ghusl in Arabic) before Maghrib prayers
2) Performing 100 cycles (rakat) of prayers (making up for missed ones)
3) Reciting chapters of the Quran, such as The Romans, Smoke and Spider
4) Devoting an hour to gaining religious knowledge
5) Making heartfelt supplications
Imam Khomeini, leader of the Islamic Revolution of Iran, urged women to not only actively pave their own destinies but also those of their nations.
"We want women to attain the high rank of true humanity," he said. "Women must have a say in the fundamental destiny of the[eir] country."
Indeed, activist and poet Allama Iqbal challenges us to take the world of future possibilities to another level (translated from Urdu below):
Khudi ko kar baland itna ke har taqdeer se pehle
Khuda bande se ye pooche bata teri raza kia hai
Exalt yourself so high that before issuing each decree of fate
God Himself will ask you, His Servant, 'Tell me, What is your wish?'
I will be taking a three-month 'sabbatical' from my blog to devote time to upcoming obligations. Thank you for your attention and see you when I get back, God willing!