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Between One Breath and the Next

Once again I find myself in the position of marking time, holding space, suspended between one breath and the next. It’s a lesson I learned long ago, the art of waiting, living on the inhale, knowing the exhale is sure to come.

Eau Claire, Wisconsin: My marriage arranged, I’ve said yes to a person I’ve only spoken to a few times on the phone, and seen in a black and white photograph. The only common ground I’m sure of is a great love and commitment to living Islaam. I receive the call- he is on his way from Virginia. Now all there is left to do is wait.

Baltimore, Maryland: Nine months pregnant, the specialist tells me the only way my baby will live is if, in his words, someone else’s child gets hit by a car and they donate a kidney to us. They plan to induce labor so that a full team of specialists will be available when she makes her entrance into the world. I call my husband, two states away, and wait.

Ma’bar, Yemen: Word about my critically ill sister trickles in, sporadic, incomplete, unsatisfying. My letters and emails go unanswered, daily messages in bottles I release with no hope of reply. I hold my breath with a land steeped in drought, wait ing for the final news to come.

Sana’a, Yemen: Two choices before us: to return to the States after being in Yemen for only a couple of years, or to go to Damaaj, a center of learning I have dreamed of going to. Two very different paths, both with possible benefits and possible hardships. My heart longs for Damaaj, the decision in my husband’s hands. Praying for guidance and success, I wait for his decision.

Too many times to count, between births, deaths, comings and goings…

almahwit9Life is like that, isn’t it? Full of time suspended somewhere beyond our reach. Too many make the mistake of always, always, looking forward, eyes trained on the future,  blind to where they are right now, this moment, this breath of time, either dreading what will come next or hoping for some golden moment when all will be well and life will be perfect.

That time never comes in this lifetime. Tomorrow is always just that- tomorrow- and it holds no guarantees.

The moment we are in right now, this crystal drop of clarity in which we wait, breath held, is too precious to waste. As we wait, trusting in Allaah, we should be living, loving, learning, dreaming, creating, laughing, crying, praying, always patiently persevering.

The past becomes fuzzy with time. Events forgotten, feelings watered down, dreams discarded as our lives change and evolve. The future is unknown to us. No matter how many plans we make, charts we draw, ideas we put forth, it lies solely with Allaah alone.

The present is what we have, the gift of now to savor, to roll around on our tongues, to squeeze every bit of goodness, of alive-ness from its fragile shell. This moment- in all of its sadness, misery, anger, pain, confusion, happiness, joy, celebration- will never come again, should not be discarded in favor of a tomorrow that may never come.

So breathe, thankful for the inhalation, the pause, and the release of this gift of air, this gift of time, and most of all, for this gift of life.

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Umm Ayman on February 14, 2013 4:03 am

Assalamu Alaykum,

Allaahu Akbar! After somewhat of a hectic day, reading this was like a breathe of fresh air. I have been caught up in planning for my future and thinking of my past… I am forgetting about the present. The last sentence put things into perspective. Alhamdulillaah!

Khadijah on February 14, 2013 4:06 am

Wa Aleikum Assalam wa Rahmatullah
Alhamdulillah, me too. We are in a transition period, and I need to remind myself that waiting doesn’t mean not doing anything. Allaah always opens up avenues of good for us, mash’Allaah, we just have to be aware and recognize and take them. And the success is with Him alone.

Lo on February 14, 2013 4:14 am

Transitions have been a constant for me… and waiting means being open to possibilities… blessings as you wait for your next step forward!

Holly on February 14, 2013 4:25 am

I needed this so badly! May Allah reward you for sharing this and grant you ease ameen

Abdullah ibn Abbas on February 14, 2013 6:26 am

Jazak’Allaahukhair for this much needed reminder of how short life is in reality. Barak’Allaahufeek

Ruth on February 14, 2013 9:11 am

Beautifully written. Fantastic reminder of what life is about. You have such a wonderful outlook on life. Thank you for your post.

If you don’t mind my asking. Did your daughter survive?

Khadijah on February 14, 2013 12:07 pm

Alhamdulillah, she did, by the mercy of Allaah. That specialist, who is known as one of the top in the US, was totally, irrevocably wrong. Instead of having unformed kidneys, she actually had an extra one! And Allaah is Most Merciful!! He was so arrogant, and so shocked that he was wrong. A powerful reminder that only Allaah knows the matters of the unseen, and that truly all is within His Power.

Ruth on February 15, 2013 6:52 am

Praise God! I am glad to hear she survived. Some doctors develop a “god complex” and lose sight of the fact that they are human. Humans make mistakes. Humans can be wrong. Miracles do happen against all odds. What a blessed testimony.

Umm Ayman on February 17, 2013 10:07 pm

Allaahu Akbar!

UmmAbdullaah on February 14, 2013 10:55 am

Assalaamu alaikum Ukhtee,

I saw this title on twitter. I was curious. So, I clicked the link, but it was taking some time to open. The adhaan had been called, so I proceeded to prayer with the intention of reading it afterwards. Allaahumma barak, baarakAllaahu feekee

I was well worth the wait.

After I completed my prayers and athkhar, I began to think about death, deeply, as I so often do. I had to stop myself from going too far and mentioned this to my dear husband after he returned from the masjid.

You see, we are also in transition and have been for a year. We’ve just moved to KSA and were out today purchasing appliances for our home.

I began to wonder, why are we doing all of this. Life will end. Right?

My concern is becoming extreme with regards to life and death. I don’t want to think too much about either.

So, my thought turned. I began to think about someone other than myself. I feel better now, alhamdulillaah. Those who are in need of help

BaarakAllaah alaikee for sharing and heling us to reflect.

Khadijah on February 15, 2013 3:34 am

Wa Aleikum Assalam wa Rahmatullah
Mash’Allaah, the balance is important, but the most important thing, perhaps, to remember is the reason why we are here, why we are doing each thing that we engage in, why we are speaking, why we are moving, why we are working, why we are studying. Knowing this reason and our purpose for being here helps to put everything into perspective, mash’Allaah. As when we strive to make our lives into worship of Allaah, from the smallest matter to the largest, we have to remember that we are always hoping for success in this life and the next, and that the success in the next is so much more complete and perfect than anything we will find here. Yet, we are given this life to live, and must see it for the blessing it is, fully aware and present. And Allaah knows best.

Dani G. on February 14, 2013 6:03 pm

And no matter what the religion, or none, the breath and philosophy are the same. We have now, and must live it as best we can. Powerful post, Khadijah, and very elegant writing. Now I’ll go practice my math. 😉

Khadijah on February 15, 2013 3:35 am

Thank you Dani. I know, that capcha is annoying. But without it I get so much spam!

Tahirah Bint Yaqub on February 14, 2013 7:16 pm

Asalamu Alaikum,

This post came at the perfect time! Planning ahead seems to be alllllll I feel I’m doing. BarakAllahu feeki for sharing this advice! SubhanAllah, it’s easy to forget the hear and now. (This made me think of when Prophet Dawuud asked Allah “What is the least of Your
blessings?” Allâh revealed to him: “O Dâwûd, take a breath.” Dâwûd did so, and Allâh told him: “This is the least of My blessings on you.”)

Khadijah on February 15, 2013 3:36 am

Wa Aleikum Assalam wa Rahmatullah
And we should always be planning ahead, but keeping our plans in perspective and working to increase in tawakkul, mash’Allaah, as there is no power nor might except through Allaah alone.

Susan J. Tweit on February 14, 2013 7:19 pm

Breath is one of the many things that bind us to each other and to the other lives with whom we share the world, human and moreso. To learn to wait with grace, to actually live in that pause, to laugh, love, cry, and celebrate the gift of being–hear and now–is perhaps the central lesson life teaches us. Bless you for sharing it in your own beautiful words, Khadijah. We are with you–breathing, living….

Khadijah on February 15, 2013 3:38 am

Susan, I think that you have learned that lesson, and learned it well! Thank you for your kind words.

Amatullaah Ummismaa'eel on February 15, 2013 5:43 am

maashaaAllaah, really Allaah put this post in my life at the right time. your writings are truly relevant to so many peoples lives and help us to really reflect and rethink. i always look forward to your posts. may Allaah put benefit and blessings in them for you, your family, and the muslims who are blessed to be able to read and share them! Allaahumma baarak alaiych

Jena on February 15, 2013 11:58 am


Umm on February 22, 2013 12:20 am


You have so eloquently described much of what I think about on a daily basis.

May Allah continue to bless you, aameen.


ummhisham on February 25, 2013 4:26 am

Masha Allah!Such an apt and beautiful reminder.So much to think about and oh so relevant.Jazakillahu khairan for your regular postings

Karima on March 18, 2013 10:36 am

wow such a deep post! So glad that the doctors were wrong and your daughter made it!

Umm Asad on March 20, 2013 4:08 pm

as salaamu’alayki. how do you read your blog in order … i am having trouble following it in sequence. jazaakillaahu khayr

Khadijah on March 20, 2013 6:11 pm

Wa aleikum Assalam wa Rahmatullah
On the left had side you will see the monthly archive. You can go back to the beginning in that way, insh’Allaah