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In the Name of God بسم الله
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W.I.M. wimmin


Haji 2003

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W.I.M stands for 'woe is me".

We get new threads on Shiachat started by new posters who typically relate some domestic issue where a woman has been badly treated by either the father or the husband and occasionally some other male.

The story, since these posts are typically reasonably long, has a fair amount of detail and explanation and has clearly been written by someone with a reasonably good command of the English language. We are not talking about someone who has secretly grabbed access to the village computer in some remote part of a developing country.

Not unreasonably the post elicits uncritical sympathy from most Shiachatters. After all, if you saw Bambi's mother wounded in the forest would you not do all you could to support her and criticise the hunter in the process? 

Given the patriarchal nature of Muslim societies, the collateral damage is, of course, the implicit criticism of such societies, their institutions, cultural norms and so on. So for example, if someone has been taken advantage of through the use of mutah, then invariably there will be concerns directed at the practice and the people who engage in it.

And to my mind, that is the objective of these threads. 

The following are the reasons why I usually have grave reservations about their authenticity:

  1. The person writing them is articulate and educated. They know how to construct a narrative that works. This is not an easy skill to acquire. Their spelling and sentence construction are always good. This matters because such education does not exist in a vacuum. Anyone who is educated to this level has a knowledge of their environment and you'd expect the support systems where they could get help (if that is what they wanted).
  2. The poster typically writes about a situation where they were taken advantage of, sometimes as a result of their lack of knowledge e.g. the terms of mutah. Now that situation would be entirely reasonable if the person was writing about a situation pre-internet. However, if they are writing about any event within the last 5-10 years the question which arises is that any google search of various Islamic issues throws up results that include Shiachat discussions. We are therefore being led to believe that the first time this person heard of Shiachat is when the situation imploded and not beforehand.
  3. Allied to this point the question why someone would turn to anonymous, generally unqualified strangers for help when it would make more sense to approach organisations and institutions they were familiar with and which would both offer an independent and trustworthy point of view. If someone can find shiachat on google they can find such resources.
  4. There are often references to the poster's fragile state of mind, which in my opinion is simply there to head off any uncritical assessment. In developed countries the first person anyone would go to in a fragile state of mind would be there local G.P. (doctor) and they would refer the person to appropriate sources of help.
  5. Such stories are always about 'relationships'. The topic is sexy and everyone has an unqualified opinion. We don't get similar posts about any other aspect of human activity. We don't get anonymous new posters writing in detail about the challenges they face in terms of choosing between medicine or engineering, for example. 

The question then is what motivates such posters?

In my opinion, it is to attack Islamic and Shia institutions and practices, it is to sow discord amongst board members and certainly it is to provide ammunition for those board members who have an anti-Islamic agenda and who can use these stories as the basis for attacking people with a more orthodox mindset.

You may well ask what would qualify such threads as being genuine. 

I'd expect a genuine poster to leave out the 'gory' details. After all, that is for the benefit of feeding the bun fight that is supposed to follow. I would expect a genuine person to explain in very general terms the situation that they are facing and then to ask posters if they are familiar with any sources of support in a particular country or region (this assume that they can't find such resources themselves). At a push, I would say that a new poster could say that they wanted to speak to someone qualified and whether board members or moderators could point them in the right direction.

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  • Forum Administrators
On 1/11/2019 at 5:21 PM, ireallywannaknow said:

Hm, good points and food for thought. I should be more discerning with these stories... 

@ireallywannaknowThe irony, of course, is that the OPs story always demonstrates a lack of discernment or naivety on their part. This may be understandable but the way the story is constructed requires everyone reading it to also suspend disbelief.

We have plenty of threads challenging aspects of Islamic and Shia belief, but in such threads critical thinking is not allowed.

Edited by Haji 2003
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  • Advanced Member (With Brothers Forum Membership)

I always had the idea and still have that there are hidden enemies. Some of them might be portraying themselves as friends for years but they are knowingly enemies. They can be volunteers and/or part of something bigger, I don't know. 

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3 hours ago, Mohammed-Mehdi said:

I always had the idea and still have that there are hidden enemies. Some of them might be portraying themselves as friends for years but they are knowingly enemies. They can be volunteers and/or part of something bigger, I don't know. 

People sometimes wonder why there is conflict between Iraqis or amongst Pakistanis or within Iran.

These threads provide an excellent case study as to how a stranger can come within a community and set off internecine strife with one post. Now imagine what anti-Muslim forces can do at a national level.

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The cost of making these posts is nothing compared to the possible “benefits”, so I’m surprised there’s not more.

Especially text based ones with a much lower production budget than audio, images, or videos. 

Like Nigerian scam emails, if a million people ignore them, but one takes the bait, it’s all worth the return on investment exponentially.

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Another important factor is the “hit and run”, where an OP doesn’t respond beyond the initial post. If the member was sincere, there would be more back and forth, showing resolution and progress of the issue (through the Islamic suggestions of responders).

The key for these topics is to show there’s no solution, and that Muslims are helpless squabblers.

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19 hours ago, Reza said:

Another important factor is the “hit and run”,

@RezaGood point, this is one I should add to the numbered list.

[Edit] on reflection there is another very good reason why the OP rarely follows up with any meaningful response. The narrative we are provided with presents the OP as a passive recipient of others' evil actions, there is no sense of agency.

If the OP were to respond and thereby demonstrate their role as an active participant in their situation, firstly it would diminish their role as the passive recipient. Secondly, it would also require their acknowledgement that there had been mistakes undertaken on their part and again this would diminish the legitimacy of the charges that they were laying at the feet of the accused.

Edited by Haji 2003
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@Laayla, If it has been hidden, I had nothing to do with that decision.

This blog post may have referenced a couple of things that had similarities with that thread, but here I was making a more general point.

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@Haji 2003 Brother, while some of the points you made are valid I would still give the benefit of doubt to such posters.

As you must already know 4/5 years back I posted here as a 'W.I.M' so I think I am in a position to address some of your reservations.

Having a good command over English does not automatically mean someone has direct access to help. In some places such resources do not exist and in others, hard to believe but true, reaching out for help just doesn't cross the person's mind. How your mind works when you are in a situation is very different to how you think when you are looking at that situation from an outside perspective.

Lots of people come here and post in hope of finding an easy solution. Easy, as in discrete, minimum fuss and without involving the families. Understandably in cases like underage and virgin mutah the girl doesn't want her family to know and in marital problems people fear the amount of gossip and hence resort to places where they can be anonymous. 

Marital issues affect lives like no other. They leave long lasting, sometimes life long changes on almost every aspect of the person's life - physical , emotional, financial, social which is far more than a choice of degree or car would affect someone. 

So while lots of times topics are started to attack Shia practices there are times when a genuine person comes here in need of help. 

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2 hours ago, starlight said:

I would still give the benefit of doubt to such posters.

@starlight

It's an issue of assessing each thread on its merits.

2 hours ago, starlight said:

As you must already know 4/5 years back I posted here as a 'W.I.M'

I don't remember giving you both barrels, so it must have been ok, I think.

What I pointed out in my OP were some indicators of troll-like behaviour, it's when there is a preponderance of such indicators that the light switches from amber to red.

Certainly, giving such threads carte-blanche for public consumption is not on IMHO. If independent, discreet advice is what is needed then we have mechanisms for that.

Often it's because these people supposedly took everything they were told at face-value that they got into trouble in the first place, the last thing we should be doing is following their example.

Edited by Haji 2003
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  • Veteran Member

Bismehe Ta3ala 

Assalam Alikum @Haji 2003

I don't know if you heard the news recently about a Saudi 18 year old girl seeking asylum in Canada.  She arrived in Toronto in a short skirt...

Freeland said Qunun commented about the cold and she responded that it gets warmer in Canada.

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/World/2019/Jan-12/473881-Saudi-teen-asylum-seeker-expected-in-Canada.ashx

I thought about opening a new thread about this topic, but I'm noticing there is a lot of sensitivities taking place within the mods and members.  Attacking in full force when anyone mentions where the person fell into sin from the very beginning, just to warn other people not to fall into the same mistakes or normalize the sins as something teenagers do.

Of course the issue at hand is not her type of clothing, but her impression of living a free life.  There is many points I want to address about this topic, but the “atmosphere" at ShiaChat feels like some voices are being restricted and prevented from sharing their viewpoints.  

Thank you for your time. @Abu HadiI tagged you Hajj to share my concern with you.

M3 Salamah, Fe Amin Allah 

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17 minutes ago, Laayla said:

There is many points I want to address about this topic, but the “atmosphere" at Sc feels like some voices are being restricted and prevented from sharing their viewpoints.  

@Laayla

That's previously been the case as well. There was a famous bun-fight about 10 years ago when a woman wrote about the oppression that she was facing and many Sis wrote in support of her.

The one Sis who pointed out the fact that the poster had admitted committing zina took a lot of flak and she is no longer here. 

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Bismehe Ta3ala 

Assalam Alikum 

Then I wonder, what is the goal of Sc?

Dare I say are we striving to be Shias of Amir al mo2mneen or Abu Sufyan?

We have non Shias who are reading and observing these types of topics, I can only imagine the type of confusion that would occur to read about Amir al Motaqeen and then see those who profess to love him, but do the total opposite of his teachings.

But then I guess the 3ql readers will know their are discrepancies and eventually know who is in the right.

God help us stay steadfast on His religion.

M3 Salamah, Fe Amin Allah 

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  • Moderators

I like to give the benefit of the doubt even if I'm skeptical. The harm done by incorrectly assuming that a person is trolling seems far worse to me than the inconvenience of spending time helping someone who is playing us. 

Besides, I have enough faith in our beliefs and practices that I don't worry about criticism, even if disguised as a plea for help. There are always false assumptions, and once those are corrected, a person in need is helped or a troll gives up. 

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On 1/13/2019 at 12:58 PM, notme said:

The harm done by incorrectly assuming that a person is trolling seems far worse to me than the inconvenience of spending time helping someone who is playing us. 

This is the heart of the problem.

An effective solution does not require us to make any assumptions at all!

In the most recent example, you'll see from the answers that I gave the poster, I took everything that was said at face value. I gave a constructive answer that would have enabled the OP to address her problem in a practical way. 

On the other hand.

There are plenty of people on this forum who were more than willing to engage with 'the story', the details of which had NOTHING to do with an effective solution and EVERYTHING to do with maligning the religion and its institutions.

@Laayla as a Mod I will caution you not to take for granted the imaan of anyone on this forum and that includes all Mods and Admins. Assess everything you read on its merits.

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45 minutes ago, Laayla said:

We have non Shias who are reading and observing these types of topics

And in the context of the most recent thread the non-Shia reader would get the impression that mutah is a means of corrupting innocent Sunni girls. If that was the mission it was accomplished.

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  • Veteran Member

^^^

Brother,

I'm not questioning anyones eman.  I have only that right on myself and no one else.

I'm assessing based on numerous past topics where the same members, when they find me responding come all at once to criticise, resorting to personal attacks, and the easiest tactic questioning my akhlaq.  

It's the same people, it's like a gang, but really I don't know their purpose or what goals they have in mind. 

I ask Allah swt protection from those who wish evil or malice to others.

I thank you brother @Haji 2003 for addressing these issues.  

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Hajj I never see you criticizing the harsh judgement hurled at posters who post these topics.  How is that not damaging to Islam and its institutions? I would argue it is even more damaging and I hardly ever see you call such things out.   To stretch so far as to come up with this theory is just bizarre as there are far easier ways to malign religion and its institutions rather than coming up with these posts.  I would take your concerns a lot more seriously if you were a bit more balanced in your approach.

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30 minutes ago, King said:

Hajj I never see you criticizing the harsh judgement hurled at posters who post these topics. 

If the people with these problems were to stick to the essential details - there would be very limited grounds for people to be harsh in their response. It's because they want to attack Muslims they dress up the story with details that then invite the attacks.

If some people were that concerned about such threads and the people behind them they would post a highly informed and factual answer and then ask the Mods to lock/hide the thread and/or convey the answer to the OP. Or the Mods/Admin who feel this way could do so themselves.

But let's face it, what people want is a bun fight and if it damages Islam so much the better.

38 minutes ago, King said:

there are far easier ways to malign religion and its institutions rather than coming up with these posts

The level of traction these posts get would challenge your assertion. They have a very low threshold for intellectual engagement and as a result attract a mass audience, in a manner that no theological discussion ever could.

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54 minutes ago, Maryaam said:

If one post can cause extreme turmoil, the problem is not with the poster but with the lack of cohesion within the community members.

I've taken part in forums where the agenda has simply been to save money and even there we've had heated battles about the pros and cons of using breadmakers. I've taken part on forums where the agenda has been to help people dealing with debt and there's been a perennial debate as to whether or not someone is serious about this if have a cable tv subscription.

The point is that in such situations the board members know what causes unnecessary strife and rather than have another debate about breadmakers, the threads are shut down. But the well-being of the community came before that of individual posters.

Edited by Haji 2003
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  • Veteran Member

Buying a bread maker and denigrating a human being are on two very different levels and have very different outcomes.

Edited by Maryaam
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5 minutes ago, Haji 2003 said:

The point is that in such situations the board members know what causes unnecessary strife and rather than have another debate about breadmakers, the threads are shut down. But the well-being of the community came before that of individual posters.

You cannot continually rely on external reasons for disharmony - at some point, you need to acknowledge that you need to look from within.  

Edited by Maryaam
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      So if we learn to control our limbic systems through reflection and worship gradually, we gain power over our nafs and then no amount of worldly temptation and desires can then take us away from out true purpose, that is submission to Allah(سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى).
      (1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4635443/
      (2) https://neuroanthropology.net/2009/05/23/gambling-and-compulsion-play-at-your-own-risk/#:~:text=For gamblers%2C the gambling references,high” from an emotional response.
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3593065/
    • By Haji 2003 in Contemporania
         2
      Since the inception of Islam, there had been various sects competing for prominence; many had died out, and the two major ones were Twelver Shia and the Sunni fiqh.
      Then suddenly from the start of the 19th century to the end of that century, we have the emergence of Ahmadiyya, the renewal of Ismailism and the creation of a new faith entirely, Baha ism. Go back a hundred years, and we can add Wahhabism to this list.
      That's an unusually fertile period of spiritual spontaneity by any measure. Or is the explanation for such flowering of faith more mundane and that it was perhaps guided by vested foreign interests or indeed even stimulated by them? Because what marks out that period, from the ones that preceded it was the growing recognition by countries from outside the middle eastern region that it was an important geographical location in itself and also for its proximity to the wealth of India. That latter point is important because there is little disagreement that British foreign policy towards the middle east paid due cognisance to the views and interests of the Government of India - of course that is a pre-independence Government, so wholly controlled by Britain.
      Abdul Wahhab developed what is commonly referred to as an austere interpretation of Islam, one that denounces the rituals and beliefs that he felt had accreted over the centuries. There is a rich vein of (conspiracy) theories, easily found on the internet, that in his travel to Iraq in the early 18th century he could have come across British agents (specifically a 'Mr Hempher'). Certainly, the British East India company had been well established at that time, and a British consulate had become established in Iraq in 1802. Less widely commented is the fact that the famous Danish/German explorer Carsten Niebuhr travelled to Arabia in 1761.
      But leaving conspiracy theories aside, it's possible to develop an argument about foreign involvement based on ideas that are far less controversial. Britain may not have been a midwife to Wahhabism, but I think people of all geo-political persuasions would agree that Britain was a helpful nanny.
      The person with whom the British did have extensive dealings, was Ibn Saud, who had entered into a pact with Abdul Wahhab in 1744. According to British sources it was he who persistently approached Britain for support and was generally rebuffed. Saud was a political leader who continued to promote the Wahhabi philosophy after the death of its founder. Saud was no cleric. But he was shrewd enough to mould the ideology as the basis for providing a motivation for conquest and a glue that would hold his fighters together. British records show that he took responsibility for hiring and firing clerics based on his political agenda.
      My source for this and some other information about Wahhabism that is presented here is a Ph.D. dissertation submitted to King's College London in 2002 by Hassan Syed Abedin, titled, "Abdul Aziz Al-Saud and the great game in Arabia, 1896-1946".
      Ibn Saud (who would in due course be given the British title 'Knight Commander of the Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire') was ultimately successful in his goal of receiving support from Britain in 1914 when Britain needed to have someone distracting the Ottomans so that they could devote fewer resources to World War I taking place in Europe.
      Prior to that it's argued that Ibn Saud had spent considerable efforts in achieving a status similar to the one held by Mubarak Al Sabah, the emir of Kuwait. This ideal status would have meant that Sauds and their territories would have been subjects of the Ottoman empire, but who would be given the protection of the British.
      This version of events does not look very good for Ibn Saud, presenting him as someone who is willing to do business with non-Muslims in order to undermine a Muslim ruler and he'd serve a useful role in helping Britain with the following objective:
      Crewe private telegram to Hardinge, Viceroy of India, November 12,1914, cited in Busch Britain, India and the Arabs: 1914-1921, p. 62.
      Further, east we find the rise of the modern-day Nizari Ismailis, whose Aga Khan in the mid 19th century created a new role for himself in providing services to the British Empire (Aga Khan I would receive an annual British pension of £20,000 per year). Mihir Bose (a noted writer on the subject) says that the Aga Khan had to plead his case for some time before the British took him seriously, since they wanted to be sure that they were backing a local ally who'd present them with better value than the alternatives. His grandson Aga Khan III would be bestowed the title of 'Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of India'. Their esoteric faith was totally at odds with the one promulgated by Wahhab, but regardless of that difference served a useful purpose.
      Regardless of the support he gave, the British were aware of the hypocrisy of his religious position:
      Sir Charles Napier to Governor-General of India, Earl of Ellenborough, 1843
      The period around the 1840s is interesting for the following reason, as the following letter from makes clear:
      Purohit, T. (2012) The Aga Khan Case (religion and identity in colonial India). Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass.
      The writer of the letter is Major Henry Rawlinson, the military officer who worked for the commission in Persia from 1834 to 1838 and subsequently served as political agent in Qandahar. So the British were interested in there being dislocation in Iran at around this time, because of a perceived threat to their interests in Afghanistan.
      Which makes the genesis and development of the third religion covered here, all the more interesting.
      At roughly the same period, the mid-nineteenth century we also see the rise of the Bahai faith in Iran. Mirza Ali Mohammad was born in 1820 and was executed in 1850. A focus of his attention was economic inequality in Iran. There were clear political implications as  noted by the middle eastern commentator Juan Cole:
      The socio-economic aspect of the Bab's teachings are also explained here:
      Mansoor Moaddel (1986) The Shi'i Ulama and the State in Iran. Theory and Society, Vol. 15, No. 4 (Jul., 1986), pp. 519-556. This extract: p526.
      This socio-religio-poliitcal impact of a new faith did not go unnoticed by the colonial powers of the time and gained ground as a result of their support as a means of destabilising the Qajar dynasty.
       
      Shahvar, S. (2018) ‘Oppression of Religious Minority Groups in Times of Great Upheaval in Late Qajar Iran: The 1892 Persecution of Jews and Baha’is of Jewish Origin in Hamadan Based on Two Newly Discovered Letters’, The Jewish quarterly review. University of Pennsylvania Press, 108(2), pp. 225–251.
       
      Going further east we find the third innovation in the Muslim religion towards the end of the 19th century and one that would lead to charges of being the creation of a new religion entirely. The Ahmadis would destabilise Muslims in the Indian sub-continent.Their support for the British in India is expressed in their texts:
      There is a reason for this approach, unlike the established religions of the Indian sub-continent the leader of this new religion needed legitimacy. By acquiescing to the needs of the invaders he sought to achieve that. For the established religions doing the same would have been challenging because they would have lost the legitimacy of their many existing followers, the new religion with far fewer followers had much less to lose in this respect, but potentially a great deal more to gain. This logic is mirrored throughout the business world. Existing businesses often do not want to change, because they risk losing their existing customers, who may not find such a change attractive, new firms however have no existing customers to upset. The same applies in the field of ideology, if you want radical change - start afresh.
    • By starlight in Light Beams
         1
      Yesterday I ordered an outfit from an online store. I don't know what made me do it when I have been trying to pare down my worldly possessions to bare essential and I know I already have too many clothes. Maybe it was the combined effect of slashed price and the excited ''Yesssssssss, get it" from my best friend.  That was morning. By evening I had begun to get a steady stream of messages, 'Dr.B passed away' , Dr. M and his wife and parents have tested positive, 'My cousin and her two sons tested positive', 'my Uncle and his house help's results came back positive' and then this morning someone else I knew died. All of this made me feel very low and that started a string of negative thoughts, one of which was,'Why did you order those clothes?You are never going to wear them at home and work might not happen for another three months and who knows you might be dead by that time so the package is going to arrive and lie there unopened for months at best. You must be out of your mind ordering clothes and back up of moisturiser and those dozens pens and notebooks that you might not live long enough to use'.  
      What followed was "enough of this blasted(french) Corona and lockdown" and a feeling of regret about wasting time and money over those things. But only moments later as I gained some clarity what dawned on me is this is actually how our relationship with material things should be, not just when a deadly pandemic is staring us down in our faces. Corona or no corona I do not know if I am going to be alive the next morning or the next minute so the wiser thing would be to not waste time on worldly things until and unless it's absolutely essential. There are far better things to do with the resources Allah(سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) gave us.
      The problem is that while we all know and admit that death is inevitable and come anytime, most of us just confess it with the tongue and do not really reflect on it enough to bring about a change in ourselves. Our lifestyles have become so deviated from the fitrah that materialism and consumer culture is considered normal. This pandemic has been a blessing is so many ways one of them is that Allah has given us a chance to reset the compass of our lives back to fitrah. Let's hope we are able to do that. 
       
    • By Last Chance in Poems for the Ahlul Bayt
         4
      Alone, in the dark, a young girl is weeping,
      Not knowing what her heart has always been seeking,
      So, now, to her Lord, she is finally speaking,
      Revealing the secrets she thought she'd been keeping.
       
       
      Her Lord listens to her with indescribable love,
      He watches her raise her weak hands, above.
       
       
      "My Lord, I beg you to enter my heart,
      To you, all my sorrows, I wish to impart,
      This emptiness, I can bear it no more,
      I feel I am drowning and you are my shore."
       
       
      She buries her wet face in the palms of her hands,
      For she knows that He, alone, understands,
      But she wonders if she is worthy of His mercy, so great,
      She wonders if forgiveness and love are her fate.
       
       
      "My Lord, I have neglected my soul,
      I never gave heed to my purpose or goal,
      And now, I need You to set my soul right,
      I have no-one but You in the midst of this night."
       
       
      Tears flow from her eyes like a thunderous river,
      As she awaits the reply from this Generous Giver,
      But He waits and He watches as she continues to cry,
      So she calls desperately into the night sky,
       
       
      "My Lord, You are everything I need,
      Of any happiness, You are the seed,
      I yearn for You to make my heart whole,
      To take Your place, this world previously stole."
       
       
      With nothing more to give, the girl gets to her feet,
      As longing for her Lord fills her every heartbeat.
      She raises her hands, one final time,
      Her soul weighed down by her forgetful crime.
       
       
      "My Lord, You are my only, last hope,
      Without you, I know, I won't be able to cope,
      To feel Your presence, my soul, I can sell,
      All I want is that in my heart, You dwell.
       
       
      My Lord, I want You to open my soul's eyes,
      And to put an end to my grievous cries,
      You said that Your friends feel no sorrow, nor pain,
      So befriend me, God, let this night not pass in vain."
       
       
      As she tires from this begging, her eyes slowly close,
      And she feels that her yearning, now surely, He knows,
      Her Lord looks lovingly at the slumbering youth,
      And knows that her words carried nothing but truth.
       
       
      So He enters her soul and whispers some words,
      Sweeter than the chirping of awakening birds,
       
       
      "...Call upon me; I will answer you," (40: 60)
      And more than this, what else could be true?
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