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Once, I was at the reception of a hospital and I kept on insisting that I wanted to see a specific doctor. There were two nurses right there and one of them mentioned a different doctor. I wasn’t even listening to what they were saying but I requested for the third time that I want to see this specific doctor. The nurse then assured me they’d heard me. However, I was taken aback by my own insistence and thought, ‘It must suck for the other doctor doesn’t it? Always being ‘the other’? The second option?’ Perhaps he doesn’t even care one bit about that. Probably never even crossed his mind. I mean, he’s still getting his checks at the end of the month, doesn’t he? Fat, huge checks. But then, I know what it feels like to be overshadowed by someone else. Be an extension of who someone else is, rather than being a complete human on your own. Be a separate figure yourself without necessarily being associated with another human being.

Without ever meeting this other doctor, without knowing what he is capable of, or what his experience is, I just decided that he wouldn’t be as helpful as the other one. Based on what? Simply because the other one is reknown for his abilities and he isn’t. Instead of giving him the opportunity to be himself, I automatically placed him adjacent to his colleague; who he is (unfairly so because he has never treated me) compared to this reknown doctor. Yet, if this specific doctor wasn’t available, I would still see the other one, wouldn’t I? The other doctor…For a moment there, I felt bad for the other doctor. He really doesn’t need it but I couldn’t help but think about him. That small thought grew into a stream of other, sometimes unrelated, thoughts. About us humans, beings shadows and extensions of other people or things or even events. For example, how we refer to a lady as ‘So and so’s second wife’ even when the first wife was long divorced or dead instead of just calling them by their name. How are we minimizing someone’s existence to simply being an extension of the first wife? Or you know how we would keep referring to someone as ‘the one who was raped’ or ‘the one whose mother drowned’ rather than who they really are? Someone with traits and dreams and lots of magic.

It made me think, if someday I stopped being strokes of my pen, stopped being friends with the people I am friends with, stopped being thee professional beggar, stopped being someone’s daughter, teacher, student, helper…what am I then? If all these connections, relationships, titles, achievements, events were stripped off me, who will SEE me? If my face became disfigured and my cheek muscles wouldn’t let me smile anymore…If I stepped out of the shadow I have always been engulfed in, when I stop being what everyone knows and expects from me, when my glory and youthful days are gone, will I be pleased with what I will see? Only skeletons and soul, how good am I then?

I was reading the trending story of Stephanie (Tanqueray) on ‘Humans of New York’ page and there’s this particular bit that really struck me: “I can’t tell you the last time I danced burlesque. It wasn’t some big thing. They don’t throw a retirement party at the Sheraton. The phone just stops ringing. It gets quieter and quieter until one week it’s so quiet that you sorta decide you can make more money doing something else…” It moved me because I realized we’ll all get here someday, one way or another, whichever profession you are in or whichever way you live your life. Someday, your beauty will be gone, your profession that you worked so hard for will be gone, most people you knew or cared about will be mere memories and even when you’re surrounded by loved ones and family, you feel lonely (no new information here really but do we really understand the depth of it all?). All your life you held onto this identity of who you are; a writer, a doctor, a mother, a student, a friend, a baker…whatever it is that you are. Or you stayed under the shadow of one event that changed the entire course of your life; an accident, abuse, a major success, a child, love, a friendship, a career, and once that is gone, once you detach yourself from this event or person, you realize you don’t know who you are without it.

Stephanie’s story was really a survival story of a girl who ran away from home at the age of 18 (now 76) and became a very famous dancer. She eventually gained the fame, the glory and the money. She was and is without a doubt, beautiful, yet at some point she says: “Everything was fine when the music was playing. When people were laughing and clapping and shouting for more. But I knew I was tanking. Even when I was on the stage, and having fun- I was tanking. Some nights I’d go back to the dressing room, and look in the mirror, and I’d realize that I don’t even exist. Nobody’s clapping for Stephanie. They’re clapping for Tanqueray (her stage name). And sometimes I’d get so depressed thinking like that, I’d just start crying. I’d feel like running away and hiding from everyone. At least when I was a kid, I could crawl under the card table with my dolls. But that pretend s*** wasn’t working anymore. I was too old to fake like someone cared for me. But whenever I started to fall apart, I’d pull myself together and think about how lucky I was to be Tanqueray. At least I was successful. At least I had a career. At least when I’m Tanqueray, and I’m around people, I make them smile. I make them laugh with my stupid jokes. They’re not trying to hurt me. But Tanqueray never came home with me. She always stayed out on the stage. It was Stephanie that walked out the back door, and nobody cared about her…” (You can read the very intriguing story ‘Tattletales from Tanqueray’ on ‘Humans of NY’ Instagram page)

When you’ve lost it all in life, when you can no longer afford fancy lunches and expensive getaways with friends, when you’re too tired your feet hurt, when conversations exhaust you, when words can no longer suffice, when the romance with your spouse has died, when your children have grown to have families of their own, when your career is but a cherished memory, who will SEE you then? When all is said and done, when you’re frail and helpless, when all you have remaining is memories of the past, will someone still care about you? Who will love you; this bare, naked soul of yours then? As Rumi once said, “I am not this hair, I am not this skin, I am the soul that lives within.”

Mitch, Stephanie’s son says at the end of her story: “At all times, people are doing one of two things. They’re showing love. Or they’re crying out for it.” He is right. We just want to be SEEN.

Image Courtesy: https://crewcoop.org/en/drama-triangle/

We’ve all been in some sort of drama in our lives, haven’t we? Not necessarily pulling someone’s hair and scratching their face or fist-fighting in the middle of the conference room. But you get the gist, don’t you? At some point, we willingly or unwillingly got into conflict with someone else. It could be a small confrontation once upon a time or a grudge that’s been going on for ages, either way, we’ve been there. However, most often than not, we are unaware of our roles in the whole drama and how we affect our relationships with other people.

A psychologist by the name Stephen Karpman came up with a social model of human interaction, which maps conflicted or intense-dramatic relationships. He called it ‘The Drama Triangle’.

The Drama Triangle consists of three players: The victim, The Rescuer and The Prosecutor.

The Victim: The Victim’s stance is “Poor me!” or “why is this happening to me?” The Victim feels victimized, oppressed, helpless, hopeless, Shameful, Guilty. The Victim sees life as happening to them and feels powerless to change their circumstances. Victims place blame on a Persecutor who can be a person or a situation. Feeling helpless, the victim seeks a rescuer to save them or solve their problems.

The Rescuer:The rescuer’s line is “Let me help you.” The rescuer is an Enabler, Pain reliever, takes the responsibility of others’ problems. They feel guilty when they don’t rescue someone else. He/she keeps the victim dependent on him to always help and save him. The rescuer focuses their energy in helping other people in order to ignore their own anxiety and issues and feel good about themselves.

The Persecutor: The Persecutor insists, “It’s all your fault” or“They’re wrong I’m right. They need to do as I say.”  The Persecutor is critical, oppressive, frustrated, angry, critical, controlling, superior, blaming.

Image Courtesy: https://www.susannejegge.com/en/2019/05/29/drama-triangle-part-2/

We, as human beings, tend to switch around the three different roles in our lives. Sometimes we’re the victims, sometimes we’re the rescuers and sometimes we’re the persecutors. Each one of us has a starting gate, which is the dominant role we play i.e when a conflict arises, there’s the role we automatically take. For example, when a misunderstanding happens at work, you could automatically start blaming the other person for the mistake, which makes you the persecutor. Maybe a little while later, when summoned by your boss to explain the conflict, you turn to be a victim. And in case there was a third party involved who was not at fault, you become a rescuer, you stand up for them and fight for them even when they didn’t ask you to.

Rescuers most of the time have low self-worth and they tend to take part in destructive helping i.e. they do what they don’t want to. They say yes when they mean no and they fix other people’s problems and feelings, sometimes even when not asked. Rescuers typically feel unlovable so they settle for being needed. Caretaking provides them with a temporary hit of good feelings, self-worth, and power.  However, caretaking is also martyrdom and people-pleasing behaviour (not healthy AT ALL!).

Sometimes, rescuers use religious beliefs to justify their destructive helping. Religion does encourage us to help people but not at the expense of our own destruction. A rescuer needs to understand that there’s a difference between supporting someone and rescuing them. All that is expected from us is to support people, be there for them without necessarily sacrificing ourselves or our own lives for the sake of other people. Caretaking breeds anger: Unsatisfied, frustrated, confused and this is because ultimately, you will get tired of trying to save everyone. And this frustration and exhaustion is what typically makes one turn to be a prosecutor; you start getting angry that people don’t appreciate you enough and that’s when the cliche lines comes in (when the one helped tells the rescuer): “Did I ask you to do this for me?” Or you feel hurt when people don’t reciprocate the amount of energy you invest in them which could turn you into a victim: “People always mistreat me or under-value me.” It is noted that self-destructive behaviours like chemical abuse, sexual and eating disorders are developed through the victim role.

Now on the flip side, we have ‘The Empowerment Dynamic’ (TED) which is made up of three roles that stand as antidotes to (or escapes from) the Drama Triangle Roles:
1. The Creator: (previous victim): In this case, the victim asks themselves questions like “what creative ways can I deal with this problem?” “what are my goals?” “what is my passion?” They take charge of their own lives and have self-awareness.
2. The Coach: (previous rescuer): In this case, the rescuer is no longer an enabler but a supporter. They listen and hold your hand, they support and they want you to be the best version of yourself.
3. The Challenger: (previous persecutor): In this case, the persecutor asks themself questions like “Don’t you think you’re doing this because you want this?” They challenge you to grow.

Image Courtesy: https://rosaliepuiman.com/drama-triangle-and-leadership/

How To Save Yourself From The Drama Triangle:

1. Being aware of the toxic patterns: “what am I seeking when I play out the victim/rescuer/persecutor role?” “Am I seeking attention? Do I crave love? Do I yearn for power? Am I trying to hide my insecurities? Am I helping people to run away from my own problems?”

2. Honest communication: Say exactly what you need or seek from the other person or what you’re feeling. e.g. If you feel insecure whenever your husband goes out with his friends during weekends, then tell him you feel insecure and need reassurance. If your wife wants to go on a trip with her friends and you think they’re a bad influence, talk to her about it instead of just trying to sabotage the trip. Save everyone the drama and the conflict. Silent treatment doesn’t do anyone any good. Honest communication goes a VERY long way in building better connections (It can be very difficult to really be vulnerable and speak your heart out, but that’s exactly what is needed for healthier relationships)

3. Say no when you want to say no.

4. Do the things YOU want to do, not to please other people, not to rescue someone, but because you literally want to do the thing.

5. Refuse to guess people’s needs/wants i.e. If someone hasn’t directly asked you for something don’t do it (of course it depends on the situation. If someone is stabbed, please help them without them asking?). Sometimes your intention could be to help yet end up making matters worse or spoon-feeding the victim who should stand up for themselves.

6. Insist that others ask you directly for what they want or need from you. i.e. when someone is telling you their problem, ask them nicely what they need from you or how you can support them (if you are in a position to help that is, if not, don’t kill yourself with guilt over it).

7. Refuse to assume others’ responsibilities. Refuse to rescue and refuse that other people rescue you. At the end of the day, each human being should deal with their own lives. Not unless someone is disabled or mentally challenged, very ill, or very elderly, (even this depends on context), don’t be anyone’s saviour or persecutor. If your child does wrong, let him/her face the consequences of their actions. Saving sometimes leads to more terrible damage than we intended.

I honestly believe we’ve all been here, but some more than others. Accept your mistakes, take charge of your life and work on being better, build better connections and have healthier relationships!

P.S. We see these triangles a lot in soap operas movies and shows, (fairy tales too!) but that is why they are called ‘drama series/shows’. They are NOT healthy and there’s nothing romantic about it! Drama makes a good book, a good show or movie, but it doesn’t make a good life. Let’s please leave those for entertainment only.

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There is that moment before everything changes. That one long second before everything turns sour. That one long second of total oblivion. You, at one of the beach stalls, laughing with your friend at how ridiculous you look with the sunglasses you want to purchase. The vendor looking at you amusingly. The old mirror reflecting your big grin and a huge pimple that just won’t go away. Your friend makes a silly joke about your indecisiveness while you make funny faces, still staring at the mirror. The sea waves are almost touching your feet. The fresh breeze is brushing on your face. You are fully absorbed at this moment; at this nothingness, or perhaps ‘somethingness’. See this moment, hold onto it for a second longer. Freeze. Pause. Take it all in.

Before you know it, you’re out of breath. Your hand on your chest. Your knees touching the white sand. The old mirror is shattered beneath you; thousands and thousands of broken pieces. Like your heart. Like this moment. You are sweating. You are shivering. Your heart is palpitating. You are losing control. Your friend is nudging you vehemently, she asks what is wrong. The vendor is p.e.t.r.i.f.i.e.d. He probably thinks you have a jinn. Maybe a sea jinn even. He takes a step back, slowly, while still asking you whether you are okay. Of course, he doesn’t want to seem like a coward. He cares. He is empathetic. But then, *insert Kenyan accent* ‘weuh! bravery for who?!’ People start to notice. Someone is asking someone to call for an ambulance. Who is someone though?

There is that moment before everything changes. Loud sirens. Silent weeping of your friend holding your hand. A machine beeping beside you. Constricted space. You.cannot.breathe.

You’re wheeled into the hospital. There is a lot of movement. A lot of whispers. A blurred sight of your friend talking to the doctor while tearing a lot. Darkness. Blurred sight. More beeping machines. Blurred sight again. Total darkness.

There is that moment before everything changes. You sleeping in your hospital bed, your parents by your side, your friends around you. The doctor then breaks it to you. You have just a couple of months to live. Everyone is crying loudly now. There are only a few times you are ‘let’ to cry in front of a dying patient. In fact, there are only a few times where you can ‘comfortably’ cry in front of anyone. This is one of those times. So everyone is probably making the best of it. Some are crying more than expected; they’ve probably been holding too many suppressed emotions. Some are too silent; they’re too loud.

There is that moment before everything changes. That one long second. That oblivion. Unfreeze the moment now. Can you see it? The pure joy? The hearty smile? The friendly touch? The silly actions? That one annoying pimple on your face that won’t just go away? Wouldn’t you do anything to experience it again? Wouldn’t you do everything to just pause that moment and take it all in? Feel the bliss? Appreciate the ocean? Laugh a little louder? Hug your friend tighter?

There is that moment before everything changes. It could be this one long second right now. Maybe, just maybe, you should take it aalll in.

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It’s been a while my good people. Thank you for staying tuned always. Thank you for your time 🙂 Please subscribe!

I do not consider myself a proud Kenyan nor do I say, ‘Navumilia kuwa Mkenya’. Let’s just say, Kenya has its moments. More like a love-hate relationship filled with spontaneous mood swings; 0-100 real quick! There’s a lot to be sad about and even more to be angry for. I mean, we are the kind of country whereby you study four years of Journalism only to spend the next three years searching for a job in the media while a comedian ends up swooping that same job you’ve been craving at a radio station. To be fair, the comedians also struggle in their own way to get where they get to but it becomes illogical when these opportunities are not fairly and equally spread out among the masses. Definitely, ours is the ‘survival is for the fittest’ kind of economy whereby the resources are so limited, we are all trying to grab this one opportunity available.

It is that kind of country you graduate Engineering with honours but end up selling water within your neighbourhood, or even worse, you have to stand with a placard at the middle of the highway, stating your qualifications so that hopefully, JUST HOPEFULLY, someone isn’t too busy complaining about the traffic jam or the poor water drainage system and reads your placard. Thereafter, this someone is placed within his/her the grace of the Lord and decides to help you in some way. Or rather, take your photo and tweet about it. The power of social media I tell you!

It is also the kind of country where someone with no education whatsoever could end up being more successful than you’d ever dream to be because they know someone who knows someone who is in power or, they are super talented at sucking money out of people’s bank accounts in open day light. Yes, corruption and conning is in our country, a job of its own calibre. I am still talking of the unemployment disaster because it is really really bad out here. I mean, REALLY bad. 

Now don’t get me started on the cost of living, the economy, the health industry, the plight of the lower class, the struggles of the youth…the list is endless. Kenyans are sufferers; at least the majority are. A few months back, the form fours completed their final examinations with shouts and screams of joy, spraying the walls and their uniform with colours; they just ended what they call ‘a stressful era’ and all Kenyans can think of is ‘Should we tell them the truth or should we wait wapumzike? *Insert many laughing emojis*’ I mean, that alone says a lot about the despair Kenyans are at. We are mostly hopeless of our country than we are hopeful.

But here’s the thing about Kenyans: we are the most resilient beings. It amazes me. It awes me. Kenyans make fun of their own misery such that it gives them strength to actually push on to the next day. Kenyans live on the spirit, ‘Our lives are so much a tragedy, it has become a comedy.’ We laugh a lot. We perhaps make the best come-backs, best replies on twitter and memes of every other event that happens. We make jokes about our ridiculous leaders. We joke about the cost of living. We joke when we are robbed, singing ‘bella Ciao’ like a bank didn’t just lose millions. We joke when we cry. We joke when we succeed. We joke when we fail and when everything seems to be at dead end. People would call us insane just by the way we react with laughter at E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. Yet in my opinion, this kind of spirit is what makes Kenyans stand tall and walk through the storm despite the odds. We laugh because despite saying ‘this is life’, we still wake up the next morning to try again, make protests and demands on the streets, make noise, call out to the leaders, fail, fail miserably, yet we will do it again next morning.

Amidst all the despair and hopelessness, we create our own happiness. We see a man eating his githeri from a plastic bag throwing them into his mouth like groundnuts whilst waiting in queue to vote, and we decide ‘hey! That is something!’ And there came about the hashtag #GitheriMan who ended up uniting and bringing us laughter at a very tense period. We all tune in on TV to watch Eliud Kipchoge take on the ‘No Human is Limited’ challenge and we all leave everything aside, to watch history being made. To watch a fellow Kenyan shine because God knows, we desperately need a win. Soon after, we make ‘No Human is Limited’ memes because we are Kenyans and we thrive on laughter. We see our president look up in the sky at the planes being displayed during Mashujaa day at the revamped mama Ngina drive and we decide to quote it as ‘Na hii hapa juu, Mheshimiwa Rais, ni gharama ya maisha *Insert laughing emojis*’ We still retweet hilarious posts by fellow Kenyans with the hashtag #KenyaSihamiiii. We stand together with King Kaka as he performs his #WajingaNyinyi spoken word, giving us all something to ponder on.

We come together to mourn during tragedies and we celebrate our fellow Kenyans whenever we get a chance to. We left all our differences aside when Miriam Kighenda and her 4-year old daughter drowned at the Likoni Ferry tragedy, we prayed for them and mourned the loss. When the Ethiopian airlines crashed, we were devastated. The loss was unfathomable and we cried together. Just as much as we come together every Olympics and marathons to celebrate our very talented athletes, breaking records every now and then.

I don’t think we are at a good place as a country. The misery definitely supersedes the good done for Kenyans. However, we can’t close our eyes to how brilliant and strong Kenyans are. We fall, again and again and again. But we always, always find a way to survive. We innovate. We come together. We stand up for our rights. We make demands. We start our own businesses. We hope despite the hopelessness. We help when we can. We make a difference in our communities. Yet most importantly, we have learned how to find laughter even in the darkest of moments.

Life is definitely tough, not just for Kenyans but many other Africans as well. Politics is a dirty game. Our leaders are mostly a huge fail. Opportunities are like a blue moon. But if resilience was a human being, then Kenyans would be it!

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Image Courtesy of: https://depositphotos.com

There are so many profound, thought-provoking ayahs within the Qur’an. Add that with a heart-warming recitation of Islam Al Sobhi or Mansur Al Salimi and your heart just melts away. It could bring you to tears when you actually ponder the verses and reflect on them. I will share with you some of my favourite ayahs and I hope they bring meaning to your life just like they do for me.

1.

I love this ayah a lot and I refer to it all the time. Because it answers all the questions we have no answers to. All the uncertainties, all the doubts, the questions of ‘why?’ Why did I fail despite working so hard? Why do good people go through the worst? Why did I go through such an ugly divorce despite being a good wife? Why don’t I have children? Why does God allow bad things to happen? Why is this happening to me? Why me? WHY WHY WHY…This is the answer right here.  ‘Do the people think they will be left to say they believe and not be tested?’  I leave this here as food for thought because we could write an entire book about this one ayah.

2.

“Jugular vein, is any of several veins of the neck that drain blood from the brain, face, and neck, returning it to the heart via the superior vena cava. If you block the jugular veins, the pressure in the brain goes up. The jugular vein system is essential and is found fairly deep in the body.”

Now Allah (S.W) makes us aware that He is THAT close to us and MORE. He knows what is going on within us; when our hearts are filled with envy, when we have lowly desires, when we are breaking, when we are hurting, our true intentions; ALLAH KNOWS. Because He created us, how can He not know? This should make us both fear Him and trust Him. Fear Him because He is aware of all that goes on within us; the good, the bad and the ugly, even when we conceal it from the entire world. Trust Him because He knows when we are in pain, when we want His help, when we are striving to be better human beings. HE KNOWS of all that is within you. He is listening, He is watching, He is with you always. ALLAH KNOWS…

3.

Think for a moment of your happiest day. The day you felt elated the most. Think of that day then now reflect on this day. Allah (S.W.) tells you that THIS LIFE is nothing but diversion and play. That happiness, that joy, that ecstatic feeling is NOTHING compared to what Allah (S.W.) has in store for us in Jannah. Picture how much happier you can actually be in the next life if you do make it.

Now think of your saddest moment in life. The day your soul crumbled. The worst time of your existence. Think of that then reflect on this ayah. Allah (S.W) is reminding you that this life is NOTHING. That this material life is useless and pointless. He is telling you that what you see in this life, all that you yearn for, all that you ache for, is temporary and cheap. That this dunya is a cheap game. Don’t you want more? Don’t you want what’s real? What’s eternal? Jannah. Aim for that instead.

4.

“أَلَمْ يَأْنِ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَن تَخْشَعَ قُلُوبُهُمْ لِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ وَمَا نَزَلَ مِنَ الْحَقِّ وَلاَ يَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ مِن قَبْلُ فَطَالَ عَلَيْهِمُ الْأَمَدُ فَقَسَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَكَثِيرٌ مِّنْهُمْ فَاسِقُونَ”

Allah (S.W.) is asking you dear believer, has the time not come for YOU to submit to Allah? Has the time not come? What are we waiting for? The sun rising from the west? Malakul maut standing in front of us? Till when will we delay giving in to what truly brought us to this earth? Till when it is too late? Till our hearts become hard and the word of Allah does not affect us anymore? It is high time. It is high time.

5.

I grew up hearing this ayah all the time from my mother and father (alhamdulilah for my parents). They literally made me SEE this with my own eyes. Whenever my parents were stuck at any matter, they would always, always refer this ayah to us. It always awed me, how they believed that much yet Allah never failed to respond to them. One door would close, another would open. Another would open and the previous would close. Whenever my mother needed anything and she had absolutely no way out, she would still say it confidently, ‘Allah will bring a way’ or mostly, ‘لَا تَقْنَطُوا مِنْ رَحْمَةِ اللَّهِ’ (Do not despair of the mercy of Allah) and I swear, Allah would always bring a way even if it was dead in the night. This wasn’t just with provision and money, but any kind of difficulty we faced. And through my parents, I learnt to trust that Allah will never forsake me so long as I have faith in Him.

There was a time I was at the matatu stage and I was feeling unwell. I just had two hundred shillings with me and there was no way I could go to the hospital with 200 bob. Also, I was supposed to be somewhere in town and that’s the same I needed for the fare. Nonetheless, I said I will tawakkal. I went to a nearby hospital in which the doctor has treated our family through out the years. So I walk in to the reception and she asks whether I had a card. The card was more than 4 months old and the hospital had a system where you had to renew the card every 3 months. So when I gave her the card, she was awed by how neat and new the card still looked and said, ‘Because you kept this very well, I won’t ask you to renew one now. You can go in and see the doctor.’ I go in and talk to the doctor for a while about my condition. At the end, I ask him how much it would cost. Remember, with me I just have two hundred shillings. Which doctor takes 200 shillings anymore?! The doctor looks at me and says, ‘You don’t have to pay anything. Take this prescription and buy the meds’. And that was it. I still got to go to both the hospital and my destination in town. Tell me, how is that even possible without Allah’s mercy? Coincidence? I bet not.

This doesn’t mean I am pious. Far from it. Nor does it mean I feel better than others, walyadhu billah. But I just wanted to show this example how Allah actually and truly gives you a way out when you have faith in Him.

There is a lady who lacked anything in her house some years back. It was Ramadhan like it is now and she met her neighbour on the way. As we know our culture here in Mombasa, we’d ask, ‘Leo wapika nini futari?’ (what will you cook today for iftaar?’ The lady laughed and said, ‘Iftaar? I don’t even have the tiniest bit of salt let alone prepare any meal.’ Her neighbour immediately offered some little cash, but this lady knew that her neighbour was struggling just as she is. So she respectfully declined, thanked her and said, ‘God will bring a way’. She headed back home and upon opening the door, the entire seating room was filled with food items. The lady was shocked and asked her then jobless husband, ‘where did all this come from?’ The lady was a teacher and several parents of her students had brought her the food. The lady was so moved, she had to sit down to get a hold of herself. Tears were rolling down her eyes, awed by how good our Lord is.

Sadly, so many of us, Allah favours us in this same way, yet we never even recognize it. We become so blinded with this material life and forget who actually has been above it all; helping us, paving ways for us, removing blocks on the path. We assume we have what we do because we worked for it or because we deserve it. However, if you look keenly, you will know for sure, it is ONLY by ALLAH. Ask anyone who’s had it rough in life and eventually arose, they’ll tell you, ‘Ni Mungu tu…’

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Ramadhan Mubarak to you my dear reader. May Allah accept our good deeds, forgive us, guide us, relieve our worries and doubts, protect us from Nar and grant us His mercy to see Him on the day of Judgement. May Allah grant us health, contentment, peace of mind and willingness to keep on striving on this earth. Ameen.

May Allah accept this as sadaqa jariya for me and my parents who’ve been my greatest example and role models on how to rely on Him alone. May Allah forgive them all their short-comings and grant them the highest level of jannah. Ameen.

Please do include me in your duas and stay tuned for part 2 in shaa Allah!

I think one of the scariest things in this life is that our daily actions and the things we dedicate our time to, do dictate to a certain extent how our end will be. This is not even science, it is logic. Have you ever seen how when someone dies we almost never miss to check their social media accounts and exclaim at their last posts? Sometimes we talk of how it is a strange coincidence that the last thing they posted was about death or pain or doing good deeds. But these things are never coincidences. Most of the times, if you check even the past posts of the same person you’d see similar posts. It is only that we mostly take notice of what someone said after they are gone for good (sadly).

So here comes the logic: If you love posting about food or fashion or even Islamic reminders there’s a high probability the last post before your death will be the same. If you spend 80% of your time reciting qur’an, then there’s quite a high probability that you will die reading the book of Allah and if you spend most of your time with earphones on and loud music popping, there’s also that probability you’d die in that same way. It is never a guarantee but we also can’t entirely dismiss this. One would think, what’s the big deal if I died with my earphones on? The big deal is that you’ll be resurrected in front of your Lord, not in sujood, or on a trip to do charity but in the sinning process. With what face do you stand before your God?Of course our Lord is the most Merciful and despite all our frequent sins, He is always ready to forgive us. But are we ready to accept our mistakes and repent sincerely? For how long will we be in denial?

We are living in this ridiculous century whereby everyone is ‘holier than thou’ or otherwise in the ‘don’t judge me’ phase. We always tend to forget that we are human beings and it is natural for us to sin and make mistakes but what then do we do? We deny. We deny that our lifestyles are filthy and our eyes are blinded by the materialistic world. We deny that we need to take a step back and think hard about our words and actions. We deny that we are being irresponsible and immature to think that God will JUST somehow forgive us even when we don’t try to change and sincerely repent.

I’ve seen several videos that show sudden deaths; someone died in sujood, another died in Makkah while doing hajj, another died while reciting qur’an in front of a large crowd…and yet still I’ve seen clips of people who’ve died while dancing, others who died on stage while singing and even while stealing. Yes, you read it right. A thief who died in the process of stealing. How scary is that? These people probably thought they’ll have an entire lifetime ahead of them; to enjoy life, to be happy and probably get close to God at some point? Well, tomorrow is not promised to anyone. How do we know that this bad habit we are so attached to will actually be the end of us?!

One of the scary true stories I heard is of a young lady who loved listening to music and dancing a lot. She was so passionate about it that she would indulge in the dancing whether it was Ramadhan or Jumuah or any other day, it never really mattered to her. So one day, this young lady was invited to a wedding and she was happily dancing around when someone suggested to her, ‘Why don’t you go dance at the stage?’ The young lady agreed and she went on to the stage. She folded one arm and kept her hand on the waist. She raised her other hand over her head and stood on her toes on one foot, ready to take a swirl. Just as she was taking the turn, she collapsed. Her family rushed her into the next room, splashed some water on her face but in vain. The girl was gone. Now during the ghusl time, her body remained fixated in that same last posture she was in just before her death; hand akimbo, another hand above her head and with one foot as if she were standing on her toes. The lady who was doing ghusl tried everything to force her body straight but she didn’t succeed. She then decided to call a sheikh to ask for help. The sheikh suggested that she washes her with warm water over her muscles maybe then her body would relax and straighten up. The lady said that she had even tried immersing the entire body in warm water but still, it wouldn’t budge. With nothing else possible, the young lady was buried in that same posture.

The lady who did the ghusl asked the mother about her daughter and she said of how obsessed she was with music and dancing. She would always send her younger brother to go buy her the latest releases of music. The strange thing was that after she had collapsed, her body was straight. It was only when she was taken for ghusl that her body posture turned like that during the dance. Subhanallah. And that was her end…and unfortunately, this is how she will be resurrected.

The truth is, we are not dumb or stupid. Not at all. We know of our sins and we know what habits we need to discard. But do we really even try to take a step and think of our sins or do we attack those who try to correct us? When people tell us about Miraa or smoking or hijab or anything else, do we stop for a moment and think, ‘What if they are right? What if my choices will really lead to my horrible end?!

The good news is that our Lord is indeed the Most Forgiving Most Merciful. Each one of us is struggling with some bad habits or sins that we frequently commit. What we do about them is what matters. If we sincerely put the intention to change and actually TRY to become better Muslims, then Allah will definitely help us and easen for us the path and judge us according to how we strive to get closer to Him.

Indeed life is short and we can never know in which way we will die. Best thing is to pray for a beautiful ending and a beautiful meeting with our Lord when the time comes. Let us keep praying for ourselves and even for our fellow Muslims that we may follow the right path. May Allah guide us and grant us husnul khatima. Ameen.

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This article initially appeared in the JKUMSA magazine of 2019 that was released recently. To read/download the issue click on this link: http://magazine.jkumsa.or.ke/magazine/the-light-april-2018-issue/2019/

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The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “(The performance of) ‘Umrah is an expiation for the sins committed between it and the previous ‘Umrah; and the reward of Hajj Mabrur (i.e., one accepted) is nothing but Jannah.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

You can now join the Muzney Hajj Group for this important spiritual journey. Check out the details in the poster below.

THE MARRIAGE LEAGUE: Part I

`Marriage is the best foundation for personal intimacy, economic stability, and child rearing.’

`Regardless, the best time to work on your marriage is before you have one.’

`Our grandmother began a campaign of counsel and advice about men—how to catch them, how to keep them, and how she believed we should make them happy.’

`She asked me out of the blue if our family was rich. I told her that we weren’t really rich, but we had a lot more than most people.’

For the married students, they were in a different league. They seemed to possess a kind of wisdom which the rest of us had not acquired and which seemed to only come with marriage. Wisdom in its simplest definition was an accumulation of mistakes repeated over time and since part of their mistake-spectrum included those that were being experienced in the marriage institution it was understandable why this wisdom was not accessible to us.

If love was ideal then marriage was a reality. A Kenyan married a Kenyan though this was rare, I’m told due to our capitalistic heritage from the British colonial masters. But what was even more interesting was the clique who had married a partner from a different country; these automatically entered the International Marriage League. They were my favorite. It was the highest game in town. These were the citizens of the world. To go back with a wife in addition to the degree seemed a big plus for me. You had a Ugandan marrying a Kenyan in fact lots of Ugandans had taken our girls that in the beginning one chap would whine as we dismissed him. But when we saw the third Kenyan being taken I was tempted to think Ugandans had a conspiracy to pick all our beautiful girls. We needed to counterattack and the first years would be on the fore front to defend the nation ha! ha! ha! This is crap. It’s all about two people. What was planned in heaven come to pass and no man can put them asunder. A Tanzania married an Ethiopian and much more of that type.

I had attended some of the weddings. Several were in neighbourhood. What was beautiful about them was their simplicity. As men, we are not so much excited by weddings for the simple fact that we are the ones who foot the costs. So the simpler it is, the happier we are. Simplicity is a virtue. For the females because John Gray said Men are from Mars, Women from Venus, it is a totally different case. Venusians compared to Martians are very excited about weddings and the more expensive it is the happier they are. I thought if people were to do things in a simple prophetic way the world would be a better place. As the Venusians demanded expensive weddings and more bride price-more especially outside the campus in town-it came back to haunt them. Martians could not afford and so would postpone the issue to the detriment of the Venusians as more and more it seemed, were reaching menopause before being married. These were considered to be old maids. Even though some were alpha females with full-fledged carriers still deep inside them there were those little girls who wanted to be told how beautiful they were. Otherwise they were lonely and would remain so till old age. Then they would fill our heads with talk of death, superstition and the curses of menopause. Some would resort to living with cats. In the event of the cats dying we would be expected to offer our condolences for the loss of cats.

By the way being single too was economically expensive as in one of the relatives would just come in and stay as long as he want and then demand money before leaving. They would confidently do this since you did not have a family to take care of. We had the Martians who postponed marriage too as they thought they had to build an empire first but they got it wrong. Time would later not favor them. If one was to marry at forty and the next generation still marries at forty then somewhere along, one would have an octogenarian parent and toddlers to support. The initiator of that game would have less time to spend with grandchildren at eighty an age most of this generation would not reach since our age is between sixty and seventy. And what a sad sight, seeing octogenarians coming to the hospital to meet their granddaughter and wonder how long they might be there for her at least to participate in the joys of her upbringing. Maybe we should stop wasting time in the pursuit of things that may not matter on our death bed. Most rich men usually state on dying that they would have loved to spend more time with their families rather than create more wealth.

When you hear Netflix, the next word that comes to mind is Chill, yeah? Lol. Chill. Of the many shows on Netflix, the one I hate the most is 13 Reasons Why. Lubnah had to beg me, several times to watch it. Bruh, that show is suicidal af. That’s what I thought when I saw the promos all over Facebook/Instagram.

So one day I’m really bored and I watch the series, because Lubnah insisted on saving them on my laptop with words close to if not at all ‘you’ll watch it when you’re ready to or when you run out of stuff to watch and re-run’.

My thoughts are confirmed. That series was wild from the word go! And not wild in a good way. P.S I’m not making a review or rating it but I think if anything they gratified Suicide, instead of preventing it by causing awareness. I mean at the end of the day, the girl did slit her wrists and died in a bathtub or whatever. It is so dark in such a way that I fear some not so smart kid, will borrow a leaf from Hannah Baker’s book and you know record shit on CD or Flash Drive just so she could make everyone who hurt her pay. After their death.

I know, at this point you’re all thinking like “Why is she being insensitive to stuff she probably hasn’t gone through”. This is obviously the most polite way of telling me I’m a b#tch. I am not about to disregard Mental Disorders because I for one know that they’re as real as they can be. I might not have had an episode of a nervous breakdown but I know of people close to me who have. Or at least on several occasions spiraled out of ‘normality’ and go down the rabbit hole. That place is shitty as hell because it’s like fighting to live when you’re drowning, but then you wanna give up and go like mahn,let’s just get it over with.

Bulimia isn’t a cute brown haired girl with her friend pulling back her hair as she makes her way out of a classy hotel after glaming herself in the washroom. It’s a puffed face girl with vomit trickling down her cheeks. Anorexia isn’t someone shyly refusing to eat a cupcake. It’s constant avoiding food because paranoia. Don’t even get me started with Depression, that shit isn’t a TV show model with smudged mascara down her face, it’s staying awake at night staring at the ceiling and wishing you could for once close your eyes without tearing up and wish you’d be like everyone else. Anxiety and Panic attacks aren’t just hyperventilating and shortness of breath where some cute guy will surprise kiss you so you can get your breathing pattern together, it’s walking in late in a room full of people thinking they’re judging you or sitting in a room full of people and fight the urge to make your way to the toilet when you’re so pressed. Self harm is not a cute boy raining kisses or caressing your scars, it’s a constant fringing reminder that one day you gave up all your will to live and decided that that is perhaps the easiest way out, it’s wearing long sleeves because your hands sting when water runs on them. So stop romanticizing and covering up all the mental disorders with effects that teenagers would adapt and imitate.

You know like how HIV/AIDS revolves around some super powerful virus thwarting your white blood cells and making them so weak to an extent even the weaklings of all bacteria on the surrounding make your immune system useless, Mental Disorders is having super powerful invisible people each trying to dominate your mind all at once and your mind becomes so fringing clueless on which to follow it becomes confused by its own self. This is as close as I can come to defining what a mental disorder is.

Sometimes I think suicide is for cowards. Perhaps this is the half part of me that hasn’t had a mental crisis. The logical and there’s an answer to everything. Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to undermine anyone who’s ever had suicidal thoughts…but come on man…you’re better than that. Life is too short to be living under constant pressure from your own self. But then, there’s the other compassionate and empathetic half of me that thinks like have I considered how many times this person tried to talk to anyone about it and they disregarded them. Because people, like 80% of all of us think its non existent and just say ‘you’ll get better’; and when they finally acknowledge its existence, they think its something that is curable, like take a pill and you know Pharmacokinetics will play its part and you’ll get well. It doesn’t happen that way. A person with anxiety needs constant reassurance that it is not going to end as horribly as their brain made it to be. Or that the weirdly giant web of entangled thoughts are just but thoughts that they have control over; because really, they don’t.

There was the old guy, the comedian who killed himself…Robbin Williams, I loved him as Genie in Aladdin and the Nanny in Mrs. Doubtfire. He killed himself but then his wife attributes his cause of suicide as a struggle with Lewy Body disease. This brings me back to my point, how people close to the affected ones shun their suffering because ‘Oi, its effects are not medically tangible you know’ I mean I could be having anger management issues and spontaneous anger outbursts that lead to displacement..like hitting stuff to breaking point. That people will acknowledge because its effect is seen. You damaged stuff, but for a depressed person, they’ll just consider you sad and so like yeah, just get up and go be happy because someone out there is not as ‘fortunate’ as you are.

The other day a 26 yr old French guy of Pakistani origin threw himself of the Tawwaf ring at Makkah is it. So many theories revolve around my head. You know like perhaps he had been battling depression, and no one notices this and he is left to literally withdraw himself from society, but then this is where perhaps religion comes in and so he goes like ‘Lemme go for Umrah, the peace and solitude will make me feel better’ but obviously that’s not it so he ends up throwing himself and him plummeting to his death.

But is suicide really the end game? I mean yes you’re dead…but when you die…it is not you who feels your death…it is the people close to you, your loved ones. Those are the people who feel the consequences in the world. That’s not the end of it though, is it? I mean yeah, so you killed yourself…you’d expect God and His angels to like welcome you with open arms? Like he had been fighting this for so long we were waiting for you to come home. That’s not it… Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “… And do not kill yourselves (nor kill one another). Surely, Allaah is Most Merciful to you. And whoever commits that through aggression and injustice, We shall cast him into the Fire, and that is easy for Allah” [al-Nisa’ 4:29]

Abu Hurayrah (radi Allahu anhu) narrated that the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Whoever throws himself down from a mountain and kills himself will be in the Fire of Hell, throwing himself down therein forever and ever. Whoever takes poison and kills himself, his poison will be in his hand and he will be sipping it in the Fire of Hell forever and ever. Whoever kills himself with a piece of iron, that piece of iron will be in his hand and he will be stabbing himself in the stomach with it in the Fire of Hell, forever and ever.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

It was narrated from Thaabit ibn al-Dahhaak (radi Allahu anhu) that the Messenger of Allah (salallahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Whoever kills himself with something in this world will be punished with it on the Day of Resurrection.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

And in the full narration of the Hadith in discussion (and with a different translation) it was narrated that Jundub ibn ‘Abd-Allah (radi Allahu anhu) said: The Messenger of Allah (salallahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Among those who came before you there was a man who was wounded and he panicked, so he took a knife and cut his hand with it, and the blood did not stop flowing until he died. Allah said: ‘My slave hastened to bring about his demise; I have forbidden Paradise to him.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

This might come out harsh you know…but then God doesn’t give you a burden you can’t bear, just do everything else but don’t you ever give up on God yo! I mean yeah it’s hard and all but it is said that no affliction shall befall a man, But from it is a sin is expiated. Why you insist on getting to Jahannam when Allah has willed for you paradise for your perseverance and endurance? But then again who knows perhaps the said person was a believer in Allah and His Messenger and a follower of Tawheed, not a mushrik, so that automatically makes him subjected to the will of Allah. If Allah wills He will forgive him, and if He wills He will punish him, but even if He punishes him He will eventually bring him forth from the Fire, because Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “Verily, Allah forgives not that partners should be set up with Him (in worship), but He forgives except that (anything else) to whom He wills” [al-Nisa’ 4:48]

This clearly shows how much suicide is considered NOT THE WAY OUT.

Oh dear hurting, wavering soul, talk, talk and talk to anyone and everyone about it. Shout if you have to so that some years later, a boy/girl can proudly speak up because you projected their words. Talk so that not another single human would resolve to suicide by wondering at what point in time did they lose their voices. Talk because talking already makes it better. I mean you’re spewing your messed up thoughts to someone real not the virtual horcruxes in your mind trying to take over and that they’re going to be there for you and help you by constantly reassuring youre actually not insane.

And as for the ‘normals’, be a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on and a hand to lean on when things get rough for someone close to you. Stop being close minded about Mental Illness because it’s as real as Multiple Sclerosis and Lupus and Cancer.

Also, I know I might come off b#tchy and all, but yeah, I promise I’ll try to listen to you when you wanna b#tch about your ‘virtual dweller’. Also I’m a good secret keeper, James and Lily Potter would still be alive if they hadn’t chosen the rat coz he snitched…I might tell Lubnah though, coz she’s like 99% feely and I’m 99% assertive….but that’s about it. She might reach out and be there for you…because she’s a darling like that. Just Kidding, I kinda have myself vested in the Patient Doctor confidentiality so your troubles are safe with me.☺☺

You are standing by the window, watching the raindrops hit your windowpane before touching the ground. The rain is rhythmic; you love its predictability, unlike your life. Your life needs a Sherlock Holmes to solve the unending mystery. Every other day, you seem to have a surprise stored for you. It makes you wonder whether you are a guinea pig of a social experiment. Perhaps some scientists just want to find out how much can a human being handle when in distress. You can almost hear their voices on the opposite side of the windowpane. They are using a lot of scientific jargon and psychological terms as they scrutinize you. You don’t really understand what they are saying but you know you are the subject of interest. Perhaps if this experiment and the theory works, you’ll become rich from what they’ll pay you. A happy guinea pig. You smile then sigh.

From afar, you hear your neighbour sobbing. There is a lot of commotion and shouting going on. Her husband is beating her up. Your heart aches a little more. Then you sigh again. Life is miserable, you think. They had been married for ten years; happy and blessed with six children. Then he re-married and boom! everything shattered. It wasn’t the re-marrying that brought the problems per se, it was the attitude towards his family. Life is scary like that. People change, love fades off, evil is real and the world is yet to end. Or you are the one who can’t wait for your own end.

Your father left your mother while you were two months old and she was critically ill. You are lucky to be here. There was a time you almost became homeless, you almost dropped out of school, you almost became malnourished, your mother almost died, YOU almost died; twice in fact. You look at the marks of the razor that went through your hand skin. You look at the scars skillfully and very carefully hidden under the famous Kenyan flag bracelet. You are lucky to be alive, with your mother and under a roof. You seem to have the nine lives of a cat or is it just life that loves you? Perhaps it is the scientists, pumping oxygen forcefully into you. They can’t lose their guinea pig.

‘I don’t want to be part of this social experiment anymore,’ you whisper to the virtual scientists. They look at you like you’re crazy. Like they want to shout on your face, ‘Do you know how much we’ve spent on you?! On this experiment?!’

You feel the burning sensation in your eyes. You force back the tears. ‘Wanaume hawalii’ (Men don’t cry) they say. You ask who? People. In the streets, the wazee in their barazas, youth on their Facebook posts. Real men don’t cry. You are tempted to ask how much tears can a man shed before he is regarded as ‘a useless man’ or even told, ‘You are no different from a woman’ Like a woman is a bad person. But you can’t ask because then, they’ll doubt your manhood.

You hear your mother groan in pain inside. It turns out she has leukemia. You’ve been jobless for the past five months. She’s been strong all along but strength at this point isn’t enough without the ridiculously expensive treatment she needs.

‘God? Can you hear me?’ You look up to the sky and gaze at it. Like you are waiting for a response from God. You and God, you have a strange relationship. Some nights, you stay up throughout, kneeling, begging, praying, crying in silence and talking to Him one on one. And sometimes, some days pass without saying a word to Him. Those days when you feel like He has abandoned you. When you feel like He doesn’t care about you. You get angry and ignore Him like a disappointed lover.

‘God, can you hear me?’ This time, you let the tears flow. It is night, no one will see your tears anyway. Your eyes have now become the Niagara falls. You had missed this. Talking to Him.

You remember this old man in your neighbourhood, he once told you, ‘Snap out of it; the self-pity. God is always there for everyone and anyone who calls out to Him.’ You slowly wipe the tears as you remember his most famous story that he narrates to you: ‘Job (Nabii Ayub A.S) didn’t die despite his severe illness. Abraham (Nabii Ibrahim) didn’t die despite being thrown into the fire.  Jonah (Nabii Yunus) didn’t die despite being swallowed by the whale. Joseph (Nabii Yusuf) didn’t die despite being thrown into the well. Jacob (Nabii Ya’qub) survived despite losing his son and his sight. And Ishmael (Nabii Ismael) survived despite the order that he is to be slaughtered. Whatever the test and turmoil you are in right now, God has a plan for you. Don’t give up on His mercy.’

You stare at the clear sky. It has stopped raining now and once again you call out, ‘God?’ Suddenly, you see a star, it twinkles. With tears in your eyes, you smile.

‘He is listening. God is listening!’

Photo Courtesy: www.pixabay.com

In many motivational speeches or writings, one thing the speaker or author encourages his/her audience to do is answer this question: “What is my purpose in life?”
It is as simple and complex as it is. The question automatically brings about more question to mind. Like; why am I doing what I’m doing? Is it what I was meant to do? Do i benefit from it? Are my loved ones benefiting from it? Does it make the world a better place? Etcetera etcetera.

But when we come back to the book of Allah, He states clearly;
“And I created not the Jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me (alone)”
When you look at it this way doesn’t it seem easier? Well it does when you look at “worship” only in terms of the five daily prayers, fasting, zakat and hajj. But in addition to the latter there are numerous way of worshipping Allah. Isn’t it in the same Qur’an that Allah reminds us that He has given us minds and challenges us to actually think? That we should go out and explore the world? That we shoud seek knowledge? Thus personally, I define worship as that which pleases Allah. In this way , I easily find my purpose in life and be able to broaden it from the five pillars of islam to much more.

Still, the question is not what is your purpose in life? The real question is why aren’t you after it? If the main reason I am in this world is to please Allah then why am I not doing that?

Fear… it holds us back in achieving our purpose of living. I am not going to be the one to initiate peace between my arguing friends because I fear I might get caught up in the middle of it. I am not going to write the book because I fear they might not like it. I won’t be a public speaker because I fear I might lose my words. I am not going to start that business because I fear the risks and loss that I might encounter…and it goes on and on.

Most of us already know what we ought to be doing in order to please our Creator, to leave behind a great legacy, to create a better world but we let fear prevent us from acting. May be if we start thinking about our purpose in life being directly linked to pleasing our Creator, it will help us fight our fears. At the end of it all, Allah does not look at how great you did what you did, He is more interested in the struggle and intention of your actions. So, stop worrying about being good, being enough or being good enough and just be. Be among those who pleases their Creator.