Ramadan Gratitude: The Last Iftar and Freedom from Eating Disorder

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Giving thanks for abundance
is sweeter than the abundance itself…

Mevlana Rumi (1207 – 1273)

True love appears, or rather manifests itself in three ways: The lover prefers the words of the beloved to those of others, prefers the conversation of the beloved to that of others, and prefers to please the beloved rather than others.

    Imam al-Ghazzali

Dear Readers,

 

 

I am honoured that after a while, this person has decided to contribute to our blog again in the spirit of the Holy month of Ramadan.

She’s one person many of us admire and she’s really helped us in our numbers in the path, on our journey to recovery.

To read about her journey to struggle and freedom

For the Love of Imam Hussain, Anorexia, Recovery, Healing

 

In Iran

 

Coming back to UK, after spending a year in Shiraz, I thought I was fully prepared to pick up life from where I had left it.

Little did I know I was going to be presented faced with one mental challenge after the other. The first challenge was isolation.

One evening after a long transit flight, I entered the big home in Oxford, I felt something like cold enter me to seize my mind, body and soul. I shivered uncontrollably in its resonance. I started to miss the warmth, the crowds of Shiraz immediately. Although I wasn’t the talkative type, I had good relationship and closeness with my siblings and family. All of a sudden, I couldn’t relate to anyone. I missed the quirkiness and the peace of Shiraz.

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I spent days inside the room locked up deaf, muted and secluded. I excommunicated myself from the others. It didn’t help that I was told again and again about my brilliant finance degree and how I need to utilize it.

I missed being with my Grandma. She was worried and would often make expensive international phone calls from a local phone office.

I was also in so much pain. My body started to suffer in cold climate and my muscles would often lock up rendering me paralysed for hours.

With eating, I also became very careless. I either ate intermittently to fill the emptiness or I would just lay in bed.

In the third of week of my arrival to UK, my confidence hit the rock bottom. One day, we went out shopping for my new wardrobe to replace the old clothes which were really too small that time. I remember wearing a skirt that was above my knees. It was very small. Since my accident I had been camouflaged either in hospital gowns, in long baggy sweats or in long lose garments in Shiraz.

iran dress

My Iran

I remember my mother getting a personal shopper who treated me with a brand new ward-robe. I put on one outfit after other, the arms in sleeveless tops looked bad. My mother and sister were also shocked by this transformation in my body. Looking at the scars on my leg was painful and it reminded me of the days when compliments would fly in on my body.I broke down and we bought nothing. I left them baffled and boarded a taxi home.

Thereon, my struggle with body image rekindled. I wanted to look the way I used to be  before the accident that removed the viper’s teeth.

I forgot all about old spiritual healing exercises in Shiraz. I forgot the gentleness of my grandmother’s hands as I became very fixed on making myself perfect. I became ungrateful.

hafez tomb praying

 

 

‘Did you know perfection is an illusion?

My grandmother told me often;

The only perfection is Allah, if you listen to the devilish whispers about perfection and follow them, then, my child you are doomed forever. This is the illusion Shaytan gives. You need to be perfect and in making you believe in that, he takes you away from the reality and you become a shadow of yourself instead.

She was right.

As I went through my several bank accounts and gathered the money I had. I’m ashamed to confess that I embarked on a painful quest to perfect myself. I spent a year on this. I had no idea I was falling deep and my heart drowned in darkness.

Whenever a call from Shiraz came through, a voice message would respond. I wasted the poor lady’s money on many occasions and eventually barred her lines from mine. After a year and a half of mad frenzy I became engaged to a man I had often dated before my accident. He was from the same religion as my mother, Zorostain and was well liked by my family.

For celebrations, we all went to Tehran. In excitement,I phoned my grandmother in Shiraz and told a silent lady on other end she was graciously invited to the engagement party.

In Tehran, I threw myself in preparations for a perfect day. Shopping , shopping and more shopping. Parties, eating out, world was the oyster.

tehran view

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Gold Iran Iran celebrations

In Tehran, an old woman with frail looks alighted from a bus from Shiraz; whose look at you could make blood run through the spines and was with some of her elderly cousins, she couldn’t leave behind. They sat in a corner speechlessly without muttering or uttering any words, like though they were deaf and dumb while we merry.



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I went to greet her asked her if she liked my partner and heard these words from her;

“I don’t like him, his arrogance is reflected in his every move, God doesn’t like arrogance”.

Shocked, hurt and bewildered, I snapped. “Is that the thank you give for inviting you here”, I shouted.“He loves me”.

 

“No he loves how you are in enslavement to him, all he has to do is snap his fingers and you’ll do anything”. She told me in her firm tone.

I was shocked after 2 years of being away, how can she still know me so well? I felt my chest tightened. I took to my heel, vowed never to see her again.

Back in UK, I struggled to get her out of my mind. I struggled to proceed with life. I was struggling to keep up with the pain in my hip. I was also restricting, petrified of gaining weight.

I also struggled in heart. I would wake up in middle of night raked in guilt. For what I have done wrong against the woman in black chador. She had taken care of me, she had wept for me, she had massaged me feet. I would think of her being abandoned and rejected by my arrogant family for her conservative Shiite ways.

I wasn’t in too much. The pride prevented me from contacting her again.

As I struggled to pull myself together, the big blow came when few months before the perfect summer month wedding. My fiancé dumped me. This piece of information came to me through relatives, his reasons were many; I wasn’t the confident woman he knew. I wasn’t progressing and he at times found my slight limp embarrassing. There were also many other flaws. I was no longer the sharp woman he knew me to be.

And I did what my shattered dignity would have permitted and I flew back to Iran and to Shiraz.


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I looked at the frail woman in black chador, she was tired and shattered. She had gotten thinner. She wasn’t looking healthy. I collapsed in heap in front of her.

 

A Journey to Gratitude and Just Gratitude 

Grandma

From there I learnt the art of gratitude. She was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.

She had phoned us last year before my wedding and left a message on voice mail but somehow we didn’t respond or we deleted the message it’s a mystery how no one responded to her message- I had no clue. For a year she had suffered in silence and years of tears of ingratitude flew down my face.

“Forgive me”.  I screamed and cried.  She was full of grace-

‘I’m not in pain my jaan, I’m not in pain’.

‘You didn’t marry him- you saved your heart and soul my child.’ She told me. 

Perhaps it was God’s mercy that wanted to save me- he gave me a full year with the woman who’s part of my soul. I stayed with her night and day. Every day we offered prayer of gratitude.

shiraz baagh

hafezs tomb

The life in Oxford disappeared. Everything was like surreal- all I could see was her and only her.

We continued with the treatment- but she knew her time was up. There was no point in going through so much suffering.

For once, I didn’t know what made me say yes to a man who had proposed me 2 years back in Shiraz. Blessed Dear Ali Hassan.

 

husband

A man I refused, everything in him was opposite to what I wanted in my future spouse. Very arrogantly I told him, his lack of skills will be a barrier to his life in the west. He was here to study poets of Iran and to write his thesis. What a waste of money and talent, I thought in frustration.

To make matters worse for me then, my grandmother loved him. Whenever he recited Diwan-i-Tabreezi and Masnavi, my grandmother would be enthused.

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I wanted to give her something so desperately that I said yes to a man who was a poet, a lecturer from Konya- everything I never saw in my life partner.

The marriage transformed me my life. And together after our marriage we did what my ailing grandmother dreamt of- we went to Mecca on pilgrimage – her last wish. She couldn’t perform the journey when her husband was alive- they had to spend money on my father’s studies abroad.

I can remember still remember very vividly how my husband carried her across the kaba. How he circled kaba with her pushing wheel chair and how he got her near the hajra aswad.

 

Mecca

We came back to Shiraz in her little house. Last year before she left us- I was given a good tiding of a child in the month of Ramadan. My grandmother’s final wish for us to take her to Imam Reza’s shrine for last iftar.

 

 

Our Last Iftar in Mashad

Imam reza

 

This is where world’s largest iftar takes place at Imam Reza’s shrine- This is a favorite destination and one of the most sacred places for Shia Muslims. Simply visiting the holy shrine is considered an honor. Let alone getting the opportunity to have iftar. 12 thousand people come here every night for the iftar including the pilgrims who come here to Imam Reza’s Holy Shrine.  More than 2.5 million people take part in the biggest iftar in the world

 

And here we sat down  offering gratitude Alhamdulillah I told her something I never told anyone.  I love you- three words her eyes filled with tears is the last memory over flickering candle and meat stew rich fragrant, under her I was no longer a vegetarian anymore.

Iftar reza

I ate without even noticing the calories, the last iftar without noticing the rich meat, rice on the plate. What was in front of me was the face of my grandmother.

shrine aftar

At Imam Reza’s shrine- I felt something enter my heart- I felt the pain disappear.


shrina

We younger ones make mistakes, but God sends people to save us. He works through people. I regret many things- but I am grateful deeply grateful to my ex fiancé for dumping me so that I could receive this beautiful gift.

And then after I gave birth to Mohammed Hussain Ali Hassan. She left us. One night very quietly she went to sleep- next day she was gone. At least, she had a happy return.

It has been over a year now- I can no longer speak for my family who never made it to her funeral but I can speak for Dear Ali Hassan who carried her to her final resting place, who wiped my tears and supported me from there on.

What I wear matters little to him- How I changed during pregnancy matters little to him- He is more concerned that I take things easy and don’t work out myself. I always see his eyes light up when he sees me do that.

This year in his home town in Konya, we were at a mosque. We prayed and when we walked out- I realised I never really appreciated Dear Ali Hassan- I saw myself as above him still –

The ego and pride was still there. He was holding Mohammed Hussain Ali Hassan.

He had put up with my family’s arrogance and rejection without a single murmur of complaint. There was a reason why my dear grandmother held him so dear to her heart. He was like her.

So I told him as we made our way to our house- how much I appreciate him. 

 

shiraz journey


Once you conquer your selfish self, all your darkness will change to Light.

– Rumi

Dear readers, I will like to implore you this Ramadan to please appreciate people that really matter to you here?- I was lucky to have time with my grandmother.

There are some things in this life that happen so fast and faster than what we could beat in mere thinking.

First, you need to know that you must be a grateful individual to be able to appreciate your helper(s).

Secondly,  you must do it on time, when they are man alive. Imagine what could have  become of me and each of the different times I happen to remember my grandmother if I hadn’t told her those words. If I hadn’t taken her with me to see the kaba. What would have rented into my ears at the hearing that she was dead.

Today,  remember all her thrives just to seeing that I am okay.

Despite the love shown me by my husband, I still felt the impression I had some years ago when he tried to court me.  When I realized that after we were together, I made the correction, hence appreciating him.  And he was filled with awe.

Please, dear readers we need to do this. You must be remembering something by now. A little of your  call credits will solve this once and for all. Either a text messages , chat or direct call.  A direct call will linger in the hearts of the persons you call.  Everyone , every single help (in words or in kinds) matters.

It could be your longer-term way to absolute freedom.

Body image could be relegated to be just a shadow of its master’s, Shaytan.

Strengthened and free we shall all be.  I  the completeness of our maker’s designs and intensions.  Inshallah.

 

 

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Islam and Eating Disorders founded in 2012 – run by Maha Khan, the blog creates awareness of Eating Disorders in the Muslim world, offers information and support for sufferers and their loved ones.

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