Memories… sunray

Just go back in time. What’s the earliest moment of your life that you can remember? What emotions were you experiencing? Or do you just remember images and sounds, or maybe even just taste? Stop and think for a while.

Do you remember the first time you got something that you really wanted, especially after wanting it for a long time? How did you feel? Were you happy or was it different than what you expected?

How about the time you lost someone you were close to? What was your first reaction upon hearing the news?

Memories are strange. Without them, we wouldn’t understand who we are. Your past is what makes you who you are today.

We all have a past and our actions are affected by the past. Maybe it’s by something we feared or loved. Maybe we had a similar experience from which we learned. Your past might be recorded in your mind by images, sounds, and through your emotions but the only way you can express it is through words. Sometimes that’s hard to do.

The earliest time I can remember back to is when I was three years old. I was running in a village in Pakistan and I ran past a camel. It looked quite big and I thought it would stand on me or something. I ran from one house to the other, which were a few streets apart. People said that others would kidnap me. I don’t know why that event remains in my mind till today. Perhaps it’s because I was feeling very scared at that time.

There was a moment in my life that hit me quite hard. I was very young at that time, only about nine years old. I knew someone from my class. We were all kids so everyone was friends. There was a girl that sat at our table in class. It was funny because we were all kids and it was all about popularity then too. Everyone would joke about and because we were placed on different tables, the people on your table were the closest people to you in class.

So anyway, one day I didn’t go to school because I was ‘ill.’ My cousin, who was also my classmate, came to my house that day.

He told me something that shocked me. “She got run over by a car,” he said. My whole family was there and I was really shocked. He hadn’t finished off what he said though, “..and she died.” I was in a state of shock and confusion.

That was one of the moments of my life that I find very hard to forget. A person is there one day, and the next day they have vanished. But that’s not the end, because…

Indeed, to your Lord is the return.

[Qur’an 96:8]

I don’t know. Sometimes that makes me feel better but sometimes I feel scared. In what state will I return to my Creator? Will I be in a state where He is pleased with me? I really hope so.

Memories carry different emotions along with them and these emotions the main reason that you remember those particular situations. You are more likely to keep a memory of an event if your emotions were really strong during the event’s occurrence. The times when you have the least emotions are usually forgotten because you are less personally involved.

I can’t really remember the past few years of my life clearly. If somebody asked me to count 10 events, I probably wouldn’t be able to do that. I’m not trying to make you feel sorry for me or anything. It’s just that when you’ve had a strong boost of emotions at one time, you’re likely to decrease on those emotions after a while. And the time with the most emotions is what keeps that memory vivid, even if it happened longer ago.

If you study the lives of the companions (may Allah be pleased with them) of the Messenger of Allaah, Muhammad (peace be upon him), you’ll see that they had so many emotional times and hardships. But their love for the Prophet (peace be upon him) and reliance on Allaah helped them overcome these hardships. Just seeing the face of Allaah’s messenger would return them to a state of joy.

Now try looking at the lives of the companions (may Allah be pleased with them) after the Messenger of Allaah passed away. Do you see them really happy? Do you see them discussing anything other than what the Messenger of Allaah actually said? This is because their emotions were at an all time high when the Prophet (peace be upon him) was with them. When he passed away, they wanted to remember these good times, and the way that they remembered them was through the emotional times that they had – good and bad. These emotional times are what helped them reflect and remember the past, and they preferred the past over the present time.

Even though they had so much popularity and respect among the people, they would still prefer to live in poverty so long as they were with Allaah’s Messenger (peace be upon him). Why? It’s because they loved him. So they held onto these memories. Love overcomes power, wealth, popularity and everything else.

Can Memories be forgotten?

Sometimes if you get into accident, you can forget the memories that you’ve had in the past. I’m not sure if this is true, but maybe the memories that are linked to your emotions will still remain?

Memories can be forgotten if they’re not related to you personally. So maybe you’ll memorize some equations in math, but you’ll forget them because you haven’t revised over them for a while. Obviously, things like this aren’t usually related to emotions anyway.

There are other types of memories that you might remember through your emotions, but you may want to forget these memories because of an undesirable situation. For example if a friendship breaks, you might want to forget the good times because something bad happened later on in your life such as a betrayal or a fight. Another example is of a love relationship that has ended in a breakup. Deep down inside, you want to keep these memories because they are directly linked to you through emotions. But you feel that you have to get rid of them in order to move on. When a person tries doing this, it takes them a while to push these thoughts away and block these emotions. But at the end of the day, these memories are not totally removed. So you might push them to the back of your mind hoping that you’ll forget them. But if you see or experience something similar to that memory from your past, that memory and the emotions will come back to you once again. So these memories are not totally lost. You don’t really want to give them up, because they are a part of you.

How you remember is closely related to your surroundings. If a sad song is being played while you’re talking to someone about ending a relationship, for example, then whenever the person listens to the song again, it’s usually going to remind you of that same situation that you have stored in your mind somewhere.

If this continues repeatedly for a really long time, you are likely to move on because you can’t be extremely sad at the same level continuously for too long. In the same way, you can’t be extremely happy at the same level all the time for too long in this world. These two extremes can only continue either in Paradise or Hellfire.

So if you keep listening to this same thing over and over again, you will gradually move forward and this song will actually stick to your new emotional situation. Even if it’s a sad song, you won’t have the original feelings any longer unless you give it a break and start it again after your emotions have settled.

If you have never had any emotions, you probably wouldn’t remember or feel attached to anyone or anything. Life would be dull and you wouldn’t feel pleased for doing good or feel regretful if you did something wrong. You wouldn’t care to prepare yourself for death because you wouldn’t understand or care about the joy of Paradise or the fear of the punishment of hellfire. You wouldn’t want to be friends with others, and others wouldn’t want to help you.

Just try to imagine a life without emotions.

Anything that happens in your life is part of the jigsaw to who you are. Your memories are you. Without these memories, you wouldn’t be who you are today.