Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Imaginary Friends (& Break Ups)

Source: Sean McMenemy

Perhaps I am destined to be a writer. I think in words, I think in words practically every second I'm awake.

I think in conversation. I talk to people close to me, to gameshow hosts, to shrinks, to fictional people that only exist in hypothetical scenarios I have concocted in my head. I talk to them and explain all my ideas and all my wonderful theories about how the world works and why people do what they do and why I am the way I am. I splurt out all my worries and I tell them why I have nothing to be worried about at all. I talk them through everything I'm doing (even if they wouldn't be slightly interested). I dominate the conversation and it's implied that they nod understandingly.

Yet I don't feel much need to talk out loud. I'm a private person and, unless you tap into just the right topic, I don't feel much need to share my thoughts. I suspect it's because I already have done with someone in my head. This person, in some ways, is the closest one to me. They hear things no one does and get the true me; unfiltered, vulnerable and embarrassingly neurotic.

Each phase of my life brings a new friend in my head to replace the old and it becomes very awkward when I have moved on to the next phase but the person has not 'updated' to someone more relevant. I feel uncomfortable letting this person so close to me when they no longer mean so much to me or I've realised they should have never been in the first place. This guilt and discomfort shows me that this 'friend' must mean something.

Source: Jenny Downing
And that makes me think, who should this head BFF be? Who should be closer to me than anyone else? I have begun to wonder what it would be like to speak to Allāh like I speak to these people; constantly, openly and intimately. Wouldn't that make me feel closer to Him?

The idea of it excites me. Every word I share would be heard, every single one, and without me having to even move my tongue. I could talk silently, just as I already do, and be communicating with the Master of the heavens and earth. Subḥānah! I wouldn't have to pretend like this person cares about what I had to say, I don't have to pretend because it is Allāh. He tells us He is near for a reason. He wants us to talk to Him.
"And when My servants ask you,, concerning Me - indeed I am near..." (Baqarah, 2:186)
It seems so logical and fantastically obvious, Allah needs to be my secret friend! And yet making that happen is easier said than done. Remember when I said my 'friend' would sometimes get outdated? It seems I can't quite change it instantly. But this time especially, I feel it's worth my energy to try. Some mornings, on my walk to work alone (prime chatting time!) I have consciously tried to redirect my internal speech to Allāh. What happened was fascinating to me. In less than a sentence I was making du'ā. I called out to Him and was asking Him for guidance, for help, for whatever I felt I needed to work through what I was thinking about.
"And when My servants ask you, concerning Me - indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me..." (Baqarah, 2:186)
My first instinct when I realised my Master, my Creator, the all capable Allāh was listening to me? To call out to Him to ask of Him, subḥānah. It's amazing how He knows His slaves.

For the few brief minutes I kept this dialogue up, I noticed that other aspects of my internal speech changed too. I complained to Him, but this complaining had a totally different slant to my usual internal rants, this moaning was optimistic, with the hope of support and comfort. I said more positive things and filtered out thoughts I know I shouldn't have. I became more of what He wants from me.
"And when My servants ask you, concerning Me - indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be guided." {Baqarah, 2:186)
Who I talk to in my head is a sickening indication of who is in my heart and I'm yet to master making the best of friends. I have a lot to work on for now and although it seems far away, I have hope in a blessing Allāh gave me.
"...I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me..." (Baqarah, 2:186)
Source: Audrey


  1. Beautifully written. Oh how I've missed you Salams in Wonderland

    1. Oh how we missed the joy of writing something worth sharing. Alhamdulillah!

  2. Masha'Allah, what an amazing reminder! Something that we are all capable of doing but (speaking for myself) we rarely consider ever doing. I like how Baqarah, 2:186 was tied in throughout the article. May we all remember how near Allah is to us insha'Allah. Jazakillah khariun Salām in Wonderland !

    1. Jazak Allahu khairan for your feedback! I'm glad you appreciated the continued use of that ayah. It wasn't intentional but as I carried on writing, I couldn't believe how perfectly it fit my train of thought, subhan Allah! I love those moments when you have a genuine interaction with the Qur'an. May Allah fill our lives with them!

  3. How odd - over the past few weeks I have sort of been doing the same thing! (I love that Ramadan inspires this kind of change in people.) It's rather difficult as I don't really have imaginary friends (I confess to feeling a bit envious when reading about yours though!) and am not used to, or indeed any good at, articulating things that are possibly too 'painful' to allow into consciousness, or certainly to allow much thought about. I've noticed the change in content too, as you described, (basically realised I was being a bit of a spoilt brat about various things in my life :() I think this is in part because it really helps put things into perspective when all your complaints and desires are put together - from the very minor to the major. I was wondering why this was, and I think there is something we do in just asking Allah for large abstract things (forgiveness, jannah) which leads to Him becoming divorced from out everyday life, resulting in the whole 'iyyaka nasta'een' thing becoming meaningless; there isn't really any secure attachment relationship there, just a lot of ambivalence (this being led by us of course - analogy not meant to be understood in traditional Attachment theory terms).
    I was recently listening to surat Yusuf following a death in the extended family, rahimahaAllah, and so struck by Ya'qub, alayhis-salaam, when he says 'innama ashku baththi wa huzni ilallah (I complain of my grief and sorrow to Allah alone) and his relationship c. Allah to be able to do that - imagine if I could say that and mean it.
    May Allah, jalla wa 'ala, help us to turn to Him in times of happiness and sorrow.

    PS - "I dominate the conversation and it's implied that they nod understandingly." Love it :) The next time we meet we'll enact your fantasy (or is it phantasy? :)) - In the meantime, I'm going to practise being quiet and nodding understandingly

    PPS - you haven't posted for sooo long I forgot my password again. Post lots please!

    1. Ahh, I love and missed your reflections, Doctor!

      "I think there is something we do in just asking Allah for large abstract things (forgiveness, jannah) which leads to Him becoming divorced from out everyday life, resulting in the whole 'iyyaka nasta'een' thing becoming meaningless"
      I couldn't agree with this more! I'm currently doing Visionaire and what you're saying ties in perfectly with the style of du'as it teaches.

      I'm so happy you made the connection with Surat Yusuf! Wouldn't it be so wonderful to have such a close relationship to Allah that your instinct in distress is to instantly complain to Him and find comfort in Him?! Ameen to your u'a.

      P.S. Next time we meet, I'll be just as eagerto listen to you as I usually am so it'll be me nodding understandingly.

      P.P.S. I'll do what I can!

  4. I remember having this thought when writing in my diary, since I didn't want it directed to anyone and can relate to a lot of this! Great post, can't wait for more! :)

    1. I love that idea, of writing to Allah! For me, writing is like talking in my head. I think that's why I'm a lot more chatty when I write.

  5. Oh my gosh, this is thee perfect post. I have one too many imaginary friends! I must admit though,I tried doing this but I found it quite hard. When you talk to your imaginary friend, you get to explain your theories, thoughts, and the events of the day to them. I found it difficult trying to do the same with Allah as I know he already knows what happened/what I'm thinking. How do you talk to Him in a way that doesn't make you feel like that? Please let me know as I think I need to upgrade my imaginary friend.

    1. It is difficult. Then again, these people in your head are you and you know what happened/what you're thinking too. Allah likes us to talk to Him, even though He already knows. Think of the example of Zakariyyah (AS) when he made du'a in Surat Maryam:

      "He said, "My Lord, indeed my bones have weakened, and my head has filled with white, and never have I been in my supplication to You, my Lord, unhappy.
      And indeed, I fear the successors after me, and my wife has been barren, so give me from Yourself an heir
      Who will inherit me and inherit from the family of Jacob. And make him, my Lord, pleasing [to You]." (Maryam, 19:3-6)

      Allah knows he was old and weak and his wife was barren; Allah knew that he feared for the next generation, and yet he still told Allah like he was explaining it to Him.

      Sometimes we do it with people; we know they know what happened and that we're unhappy but we tell them again to get it all out. Essentially it's the same process.

      All easier said that done, of course, but even trying (and failing to keep it up) makes you feel closer to Him.