Ramadan prep 2017

Alhamdulillah, Ramadan is right around the corner, and as we prepare our hearts to welcome Ramadan, it always helps to have some tangible goals at hand.

One suggestion I have for everyone is to increase your knowledge of and your making of the Sunnah duas. If you already do not have a Sunnah dua book that you refer to regularly, now is the time to choose one that you feel comfortable with.

I dearly recommend Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi rahmatullah alaih’s Munajaat e Maqbool. It is a collection of Sunnah duas which are divided into duas that can be read each day of the week. So in a week, you go through all of them if you follow the order of the book. What I particularly like is how in the hashia (margin) he gives the reference to each dua. Apart from these daily regimens, there are also time and space specific duas at the end, like dua-e-hajah (supplication of a specific need) or dua -e-istikhara, or the duas to read

To increase your memorization of the duas you can highlight or underline the ones you want to add to your list, so as your go through them, you can also take second looks at the highlighted parts whenever you wish to review those particular duas.

I found this book amongst my mother’s collection – and I have found a special affinity to it ever since. I don’t know the story of how and when she got this dua book – but may she receive abundant reward for each dua as I read it, along with whoever guided her to it. Ameen.

dua book2

There is something beautiful about making the Sunnah duas – if you know Arabic, the experience is more beautiful because it is not just a rote-learned reading out of the duas… You feel them when you read them… And if you get them memorized then you can  ‘make’ duas in the same words that once came out of the blessed mouth of Rasool Allah sallAllahu alaihi wasallam. Sunnah duas are incredibly comprehensive and leave you feeling humbled before Allah swt.

As sister Rayhaanah Omar  Inspiration for Qur’an Memorization (see here) mentions, choose one or many themes that you want to focus on this Ramadan. Each year, our Ramadan may be coloured in different ways – perhaps there was a time we attended a daura e Quran in Ramadan, then there may be another we increased our remembrance of Allah in through dua and tasbeeh; there may have been a year we sat in ‘Itekaaf in… What will this year’s Ramadan be like for you? How do you wish to color it?

Be creative inshaAllah and share your ideas below.

Allahumma Wahdini li saalihil a’maal wal akhlaaq

Innahu laa yahdi lisaalihihaa wa laa yasrifu sayyi’iha illa Anta.

[Ya Allah, and Guide me to righteous deeds and character traits (habits)

Indeed no one Guides towards righteous deeds and attributes and none turns around bad deeds and traits except You.]

Ameen ya Rabb

The Drizzling Rain of the Qur’an

Alhamdulillah

Alhamdulillah for the driver who used to take us to elementary school. Alhamdulillah he played the Quran on and off.

Alhamdulillah for the taxi driver who drove us to high school and also used to play his favourite Qur’an recitation extremely regularly – I think it was Qari Basfar now that I try to remember…

Alhamdulillah for listening to Imam Sudais, Imam Shuraim in the Haram live when they used to be leading prayers once upon a time.

Alhamdulillah for our Qur’an classes in Manarat Jeddah where we recited, memorized, small surahs…

Alhamdulillah for these snippets of relationship with the Qur’an APART from the basic learning from the Qari sahab culture of Paki people…

Will I be able to give this experience to my children? Maybe not the same, unless people start listening to tilawah while commuting even in pakistan… Unless people realized how far they are in connecting to the Word of God… Unless people who are owners of the Qur’an became more intwined with our society and are beaming examples of the softness that our Prophet (s) embodied… Unless it happens in a similar, gentle way, like drizzling rain from the sky… I pray it does…for all our children

There is a beauty, a Majesty in the Words of Allah swt in the Arabic language itself – when this is coupled with an intellectual contextual understanding of the beauty of Allah’s Words, it will not NOT leave an impact on hearts. That is how He Guides, how He waters our hearts with His Kalaam, the Greatest Sign of His Existence…

Don’t undermine your feelings

When someone, even if someone with a lot of religious knowledge, gives advice such as “don’t get depressed” and they are talking about losing a child,
please know that it is very probable that they have not yet faced any tragedy in life.
Do not hold it against them, but also do not hold their words against yourself.
Depression and losing faith in Allah swt are two very different things.
Sometimes, we fall deep in the abyss of grief because of some sorrow that befalls us – connect to others who have faced similar grief – because only they will be able to understand fully.
And connect with those who have strong faith within that group too, for together you can act on the ayahs

By time, (1) Indeed, mankind is in loss, (2) Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and

advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience. (3)

Religious OCD

Dear sisters,

 

If you have signs of perfectionism in you, and you strive for perfection in Deen also, please be careful.

If you are not careful, you can get swept into religious OCD by religious leaders who focus on the trivial things rather than those that are really important.

Pray to Allah SWT. make a direct connection with Him. That is why we ask for Guidance in every rak’ah of salah.

Find company and friends who will encourage you instead of holding tunnel views about what Deen is.

May Allah swt Make us flourish in our spiritual journeys.

May He Draw us closer to Him, and not to ideologies and understandings…

Rabbana laa tuzigh qulubana ba’da iz hadaitana,

wa habb lana min ladunka Rahma

innaka antal Wahhab

Bittersweet Memories

I have been postponing this post for months.

How do you write about something that is locked up somewhere inside your heart because it hurts too much to open it up?

How do I write about something which makes me feel that it would not change anything… It would not bring her back… except it might warm up my cold heart a little. And isn’t that a good enough reason?

SubhanAllah there are some dear people in the world who belittle any such effort. Perhaps they are really not people of the heart… Ya Allah, Grant me company of the ulul albaab… The people of understanding; people of pure, sound minds and intellects… Make me a possessor of lubb… Ameen… And praise be to You who Grants purity of minds and hearts.

So here goes…

Losing our mother was like losing a part of my heart. It was like losing part of my store of memories in my mind – my childhood… Did I really want to hold on to them? What good will it do? I felt like part of my life meant nothing to me now. There was no use dwelling in those peaceful, innocent childhood memories that knew no sorrow and no fear. Because I had experienced the truth of this world.

I had experienced that life can be shook. Our lives as we know it can change. Nothing we have is permanent. Each thing that we take for granted is actually being given to us, as a gift… And we have no control over it.

This experience made me feel like it was futile to think about my past and savor it. I didn’t want to savor it. What was it except moments that had passed and were no more? What good would it do to dwell on the breaths of life already taken, when there were more to be taken that would become a means of me going to the real true moments of felicity. I did not want to dwell on those moments of joy that had evaporated into thin air.

That is how I felt. And how I have mostly felt throughout the past 7 plus years.

It made me look beyond the realm of imperfections to the realm of the Perfect.

It made me yearn for an abode that would be void of pain and suffering, with a yearning I never felt before.

But here is what I was not ready for…

In the erasing of those memories, somewhat, what I did was, I was only preparing myself for a life that would come inevitably, but indefinitely. I was *not* prepared for the present, or the near future – for the years that were meant to take me to that inevitable eternal future.

We cannot blot out memories – whether good or bad – without suffering a negative effect.

The human brain is an incredible thing. One of the Signs of the Almighty about which we have very little knowledge about. One of the things about us that baffles us and makes us wonder, how in the world can anyone think this brain *just* evolved. Sure it may have evolved, but not without plan. What a beautiful created plan. And the heart even more so- the intangible human heart. The feelings of love, hate, jealousy, forgiveness, mercy, sweetness, empathy, anger, courage – these emotions within us manifest and bear witness to the Beauty and Majesty of the One who Created us.

And so as I raised my young kids, I went back to those memories, painfully but surely.

When my mother passed away, Allah swt had prepared us for a good 2 and half years. She had not been well. My youngest brother, who was only 11 at that time, said he had prayed to Allah to take away her pain. Allah SWT Had listened to his dua, he said.

A lot can be written about my mother. Where can one begin? Her smell, her hug, her excitement – some of the things that jump to my heart when I think about her – and her smile which everyone who knew her seems to remember and cherish… Her perfectly straight nose mashaAllah, thin and prettily long, which none of us siblings inherited…

People who knew her far less than us cherish just knowing her… Then how much would we remember and cherish? I remember me and my sister getting possessive if our mother spoke too long to her sisters- that is how much we yearned for her company.

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As I write this, I feel like there is an entire culture in my country that shies away from this – from sharing your struggles and pains. As if it is something to be ashamed of. Or if not ashamed, something to not mention to others… But alhamdulillah that I look at my Deen and see what it says about it… Honestly, in today’s world where everybody has become obsessed with only sharing the best from their lives, who is it out there who will share their sorrows? And if we do not share our sorrows, what kind of humans are we becoming? Ok let me rephrase that, alright, I understand some people prefer not to talk about their pain to the whole world and just to near and dear ones. That is ok – that is their choice. But we need to share our experiences so others can find some hope in the tests of this life. Because this life is nothing but a test. It is nothing but a test, in the form of play and enjoyment. It is nothing but a test, sometimes in the form of suffering and pain.

And as I go in circles with this philosophy, the only thing to take away from this is this:

Your struggle is your own. Your test is your own. Nothing anybody else has or is facing or is enjoying has got anything to do with your eternal life. So look back and focus. Focus on your own life and your own actions. This requires constant struggle. Leave all else.

If a person chooses to not share their struggles with others, that is a personal choice- it is not more Islamic to do so, neither does it make us a better Muslim or a worse Muslim if we choose to or not choose to. Someone even implied that writing a blog means you do not have other more important things to do.

Alhamdulillah, there are still some classical traditional scholarsmen and women who will tell you it is perfectly ok to do so, without the least hint of “it would be better if you did not”.

Let me go back to my mother…

It was my mother, who, despite her illness due to the third chemotherapy circle after the cancer had spread not just to her brain two years ago, but to her liver and bone marrow –  decided that she wanted to send my teacher homemade chicken corn soup- the last day before my mother had to travel to Jeddah. She said our teacher had done so much for us- we were always having lunches and chai at her place as we studied Quran, hadith, fiqh, Arabic sari and nahw, part-time in addition to our Bachelor studies at LUMS. On top of that, she was expecting…

Sometimes I imagine, how, if my mother had been so adamant on sending my teacher homemade chicken corn soup because she was expecting- how she would have pampered me and my sister in our pregnancies and post-deliveries.

I imagine how she would have scolded us when we scold our children. I imagine how she would always have taken our kids’ side – and it would have been such a relief that someone was there to love them when we were too tired or too upset with them in that moment… I imagine how I could have called her up and shared my worry about my first son who didn’t want to go to school ever, of when he got a pulled elbow, of how he now refuses to eat the same things he used to eat a year ago – and how I would have gotten stories in return of me and my siblings and what we used to do.

It was my mother, who prayed to Allah swt to take her away ‘chaltay phirtay” – she did not want to be dependant on anyone. In 2006, when after 7 years of health after her first diagnosis of breast cancer and subsequent chemotherapy and radiotherapy, the cancer was detected again – she had started getting sudden headaches. It was not migraine. The cancer had spread to her brain. This time the therapies resulted in her condition becoming worse… Because it affected her brain cells, we could not communicate well with her. It was in 2006, that subconsciously, my being became fearful of the possibility that we may really lose her.

Allah SWT Granted her recovery. And she began walking and talking once again. Once again, ready to fulfill her role of being mother and caretaker. Her pictures after this incident are different. She looks like a survivor – and in that is evidence that my siblings and our father were survivors too. Survivors of the touch of fatal illness, that changes the lives of not only the one suffering, but the lovers as well.

It makes you a little older, a little more wise (hopefully) and a little more dead. That is the ability of a touch with reality. It may make you more blind too – because you may not want to look. It may want you to numb your pain in different ways…

Back to 2006…

She was not her old self after that…

My mother, who always made evenings so much fun. Tea times with some little thing- savory or sweet – she could concoct a recipe we tasted in a restaurant with no effort at home.

photo 1

She was now a warrior who had returned from battle, aware that she would have to go fight again. But wanting to hope to live on for her youngest son and her husband, if not her two daughters whom she at that point couldn’t fathom would need her so much even after, and in fact especially after they had gone to their new homes. She told me a few months before she passed away – that she worried for my youngest brother and my father…

She Knew it was Allah SWT Who would take care of them. But she said that out loud to me. Who will take care of them – and in those words she left a love and concern that will warm our hearts – because we feel the absence of the shade only she could have provided. Allah SWT Healed and Protected and took care of us – but He also Showed us what a beautiful Gift He Gives to us in the form of our mothers – when our mother’s shade was forever lost for us in this dunya we realized truly what a difficult dunya it is. And the reality behind the facade.

There is no substitute for a mother’s care… Just like there is no substitute for our relationship with Allah swt.

A book could be written about each life on this earth. An entire book can be written about what I learnt from you and about how in taking you away, my rabb taught me so much. He gave me experiential knowledge of things about which we are told by our beloved nabi sallAllahu alaihi wasallam. My Rabb gave me a taste of the sorrow my nabi (s) must have felt when his mother passed away. He gave me a tinge of the sorrow he must have felt when his grandfather and then his uncle and his beloved wife passed away.

 

I want to cherish this sorrow. I wish to make this pain my strength, my armour and not my weakness. It is unfortunate that people whom I thought would have enough spiritual insight to understand these realities of our life on this earth did not really have the empathy or kindness or understanding one would expect from them. But that is alright. It is Allah SWT’s way of teaching us how only He Heals and only He Grants different talents and different blessings to all of His ibaad. Hold on to all the different people He has Gifted you – look deeper – you will find them all around you.

Mother, you went away too soon…

But my hope is in Allah’s Promise:

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Allah, the Exalted, says: ‘I have no reward other than Jannah for a believing slave of Mine who remains patient for My sake when I take away his beloved one from among the inhabitants of the world”.
[Bukhari]

… and my prayer and my hope is that He Keeps Granting us that patience till our last breath. Ameen.

photo 2

Dealing with Things in a Delicate Manner

The Names of Allah have a lot of lessons in them for us.

The Name Lateef (the Subtle One) occurs 7 times in the Quran, 5 times associated with His Name Khabeer (the All Knowing).

It teaches us a very powerful lesson.

We should deal with things in a delicate way because it’s a Sunnah of Allah. He Deals with things in subtle ways, despite Him Knowing everything in detail and BECAUSE He Knows everything in detail.

Similarly, we won’t know how to deal with things delicately unless we have exhaustive information.

Sometimes we say things to people, which are not very delicate, and we don’t understand the background. And we can say things which are very hurtful, even though that is not our intent…

We lacked Lutf, because we lacked khabar.

When you know more about a situation then you are able to deal with it in a more sensitive way. And until you have that information, you should just step back and say I don’t know.

 

(Taken from tafseer of Surah Mulk, Bayyinah.tv)

MotherHood: A Creation of Allah

In the last couple of months, I think I told a friend and a group of cousins how the tough parts of parenting really intrigue me in asking the question: why?

Why do we have such a hard job in parenting these little people? (I am assuming you are only here if you too have felt the same – so if you think it’s an easy job, then you’ve probably no reason to carry on reading 🙂

I told her, this is one thing I really want to ask Allah swt in the Hereafter. “What was that all about?” Honestly – the perks are super-awesome. But the downsides are enough to drive you mad.

And yesterday I was thinking about it again and here’s what I felt- sometimes, the absolutely cringe-worthy crying episode of a toddler who has not been given this one particular thing – despite a very good and happy and exciting day otherwise- made me think of how all of the tiny things we care about as a parent are a minisicule version of what Allah swt Does for us.

As a parent, we do so much for a child, but one thing goes wrong and they’re ready to put up a fight and make you feel like you’re the worst parent ever.

Of course, as you’re reading, we all know that these comparisons fall short of True Reality because they are finite and imperfect. Whereas Allah swt is Finite.

Say: He is Allah, the One and Only; (1) Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; (2) He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; (3) And there is none like unto Him. (4)

But His Creation holds signs for us. And in parenting we find a unique sign.

Children are immature. They do not know the whole story. Yes, they are close to the fitrah, but they need guidance and nurturing. They are full of carefree freedom – but if you let them do whatever they want, pretty soon they will be falling short of the potential they are capable of achieving. They need to play and be free and be creative, and play again – but they also need to be taught and shown basic rights from wrong – caring for others, empathy, not hurting others, not damaging something on purpose – these are things we teach early on as parents. As a parent, our responsibility is to guide our children to the best possible version of themselves.

And Allah SWT Guides us to the best model possible as a human.

And we are immature. And we are stubborn. And we want to go our own way. And sometimes we see the benefits in what He says but we still want to have that tub of ice cream right before bedtime. Most of the times we may be grateful, but there may be that one time when you knew it’s ok to not get that particular one thing because maybe it was bad for you anyway- but we question and feel bad – about why Allah swt Denied it to us.

Perhaps, in parenting, there lie some valuable lessons that we would not have learnt otherwise. Perhaps in the drudgery of parenting we realize, how, just like a tiny baby, who cries out of need because it is unable to do anything for itself, how we too are so in need of Allah swt. May be not in this world “apparently”… maybe we can deceive ourselves in thinking that we are thinking of our own, feeding ourselves on our own, growing on our own – maybe we can deceive ourselves here- but in the Hereafter we will be oh so Needy of Him.

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ أَنتُمُ الْفُقَرَاءُ إِلَى اللَّـهِ ۖ وَاللَّـهُ هُوَ الْغَنِيُّ الْحَمِيدُ 

O mankind, you it is that have need of Allah: but Allah is the One Free of all wants, worthy of all praise. (35:15 Quran)

We are truly fuqara- faqeers of Allah. In every sense of the word.

There is no other thing like motherhood in this world. Surely, in it are signs for those who think.

I am Imperfect and Incomplete… He Completes me.

They try to take me away from You.

And he tries. He tries so hard.

I am afraid that they might succeed.

They mock, and they belittle, and they think that they’re enough.

They think they’re imperfect but enough,

I think I’m imperfect and enough, but not ‘really’ enough without You.

I am afraid,

Because he knows you are the Most Beloved.

He knows and he hates it.

I am afraid, because there is no other being that completes me except You.

I am afraid, because the cost is so high.

I am afraid, because there’s only one chance.

I am afraid, because this is all I’ve got.

I am hopeful because that’s all I’ve got.

I am hopeful because you deserve all my trust.

Because you are the most Truthful.

I have hope because you complete me.

I have hope because that’s all I have.

I have hope, because you Love me.

I have hope, because I Call to You

and because you Say:

So his Lord responded to him and averted from him their plan. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Knowing. (12:34 Quran)

Copyright @2017

Pastel Illustration copyright @2011 by Saman Khalid

Spirituality in the Mundane

Years ago, I took the path of tasawwuf – Islamic spirituality.

The intention is always – drawing closer to Allah SWT.

Over the years, I saw scores of young women take the same path. Alhamdulillah for all the souls who need that connection with Allah SWT – we all need it- but alhamdulillah for the ones who feel that need. Who know that the most important relationship in their lives is Allah swt.

Somewhere along the way, however, we become lost in our Beloved. We yearn so much for the Perfect, that we see too many of the imperfections of this world stare back at us in the face. The imperfections make us hurt, and yearn more for Perfection.

Sometimes, the imperfections make us unhappy in this world.

But here’s the catch. When you are unhappy, you are unable to give your best to those around you. Your cup of Love becomes empty. And you cannot benefit your close ties. Exactly those close ties that our Beloved wants us to value. He wants us to keep these relationships strong; to give our all to them. Except in the cases where they want us to disobey the Beloved, which you see, are very few main pillars of the Deen. Apart from that, here is what the most perfect of humans showed us (sallAllahu alaihi wasallam):

 

Narrated Abu Huraira:

A man came to Allah’s Apostle and said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Who is more entitled to be treated with the best companionship by me?” The Prophet said, “Your mother.” The man said. “Who is next?” The Prophet said, “Your mother.” The man further said, “Who is next?” The Prophet said, “Your mother.” The man asked for the fourth time, “Who is next?” The Prophet said, “Your father. ” [Bukhari]

To become closer to Allah SWT, we have the most interesting short-cut presented in the following hadith:

Narrated Abu Huraira:

The Prophet said, “The word ‘Ar-Rahm (womb) derives its name from Ar-Rahman (i.e., one of the names of Allah) and Allah said: ‘I will keep good relation with the one who will keep good relation with you, (womb i.e. Kith and Kin) and sever the relation with him who will sever the relation with you, (womb, i.e. Kith and Kin). [Bukhari]

And apart from family, even with other friends and acquaintances, here is the model we are to pursue:

Narrated Abu Aiyub Al-Ansari:

Allah’s Apostle said, “It is not lawful for a man to desert his brother Muslim for more than three nights. (It is unlawful for them that) when they meet, one of them turns his face away from the other, and the other turns his face from the former, and the better of the two will be the one who greets the other first.” [Bukhari]

Being righteous means that we are closest to the Sunnah of the Prophet (s). This does not mean that we start judging others who have not taken the same steps as us in trying to draw closer to Allah swt. Instead, we are to drop all judgment on others. That is for Allah swt to do. Our job is only to strive to be closest to the Sunnah, to know that we will never reach the summit, but that we are to keep climbing to the top, as long as we are breathing in this world. And here is how the prophet (s) wanted us to be:

Narrated Anas bin Malik:

The Prophet said, “Make things easy for the people, and do not make it difficult for them, and make them calm (with glad tidings) and do not repulse (them ).” [Bukhari]

It is in our dealings with the rest of humankind that we find Allah swt – *if* we are really searching. We find Him in reflection and prayer and sujood (prostration) and qiyam. We find Him in fasting and studying Deen, in the books and especially His Own Kalam. We find Him through all these ways…

And then He Wants us to find Him in the mundane. And for some of us that is where the real test starts.

SubhanAllah, here’s where I found ‘good character’ to be the most tested in me: parenting. As parents, we will be asked about our offspring. They are an amanah (a trust) from Allah swt.

Giving talks, and educating young women about our Deen is easier – educating toddlers and children in the basics of life is a hard job.

We are not only their nourishers – but we are their models. We are their models in emotional intelligence, in our mannerisms, in our discipline and in following the Deen.

Personally, it took me time to learn how important it was to discipline – it did not come naturally to me because you need a certain amount of firmness while disciplining. That gentle firmness and it’s efficiency was a new revelation for me. In other words, instant gratification will make your child happy and will stop him from throwing a tantrum, but in the long run, you have not taught him to control his nafs. And this is taught in the most basic of ways. I see it when I go to pick up my son from preschool. “1 – 2 -3 ” , the teacher goes and the preschoolers get up from their tables of lunch.

It’s time for the child to stop playing: you have to count to 3 and in a firm but very gentle manner. Such that he/she knows that there is no option to continue… And how does that happen? By being very firm in our own discipline and always ‘meaning’ no when we ‘say’ no. It’s not as easy as it sounds.

Why am I mentioning this? Because as mundane as it sounds, I thought, here are non-Muslims, who are teaching discipline. Why? Because it is necessary to get anything done in life. Why is it that hours and hours of screen time bores our children? Why do hours and hours of facebook even make us sick of it? Because we know, inherently, that in proactivity, in creativity and in productivity lies a significant sense of accomplishment and gratification, which is not found in sloth and laziness.

Allah SWT has given us the perfect life model to show us what will be best for our Dunya and Deen.

Look at how much we have to clean as mothers. It’s a never-ending job – day in and day out – we have to keep going if we are to actually *see* any tidiness in the house. SubhanAllah, if regularity is needed in such a mundane act in this world, imagine the significance of regular actions and intentions to our soul? Everything asks for regularity.

The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said, “The dearest of actions to Allah is that which is done regularly, even if it is small.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

The examples above are glimpses into ways of how we can think of Allah SWT and His entire “nizaam” that He Created on this earth, just by looking at the ordinary things in our lives, in ourselves, and in the way we do things.

“We will show them Our signs in the horizons and within themselves until it becomes clear to them that it is the truth. But is it not sufficient concerning your Lord that He is, over all things, a Witness?” (41:53 Quran)

Apart from this I also wish to mention the other extreme. When people ‘only’ attempt to find Allah in the mundane. I will need to elucidate.

We live in times where either we have women who are praying and doing most outward religious actions, but they fail at parenting. Or we have amazing mothers, who not only dote over their children but raise them up well, discipline and all. Those who excel at both and few and far. But that is the challenge we face.

Salah is enjoined on us more than 700 times in the Quran.

Does Allah SWT give an exception to motherhood in the Quran? Does it say: Except those parents who fall asleep late at night because of the children, or are exhausted because of the day’s labouring, to them there is no sin?

No, that isn’t the case. We are told to turn towards Salah five times a day, which is actually a benefit to our parched souls. It is a spiritual activity in the midst of our mundane activities, teaching us that those mundane activities are done for a reason too. It is the way our Lord wishes to See us. Going about our daily lives either earning, or serving others, with small pockets of rest and leisure, spent with friends and loved ones.

But what if you were alone? What if He Wanted to see you alone instead of how you were with others? Do you have a relationship with the Lord most High? The One who Gave it all to you?

Alhamdulillah to that Being, who Created our lives in such discipline and leisure. In creativity and knowledge. In worship and prayer and meditation and reflection of the ultimate purpose of life. Even in everyday moments of life, we see the beauty of His Creation. We see His Beauty reflected in everything He Created.

When a child refuses to eat something that is healthy for him, because you have allowed him to get addicted to sugar and to that which is unhealthy, it reminds you of the soul of humans- sometimes we get attached to that which does not only not benefit us, but is harmful for us. And we stop tasting the sweetness of that which is truly good for us – just like kids who refuse to taste the sweetness of fruits, when they get addicted to white processed sugary foods – totally harmful to their little physical bodies.

It is in such a point in life, that one stops and prays:

Ya Allah, make each moment of mine truly a moment in which I remember you, reflect upon your Grace and Beauty and Grandeur and Might. Whether in joy or pain, in ease or difficulty, let me call upon you and be truthful to You and my promise to You.

Let me not forget that this ‘mundane’ is actually where You want me to be. It is where You Wish to see me make the ordinary sacred. It is where I am meant to celebrate sacredness and spirituality in something which is not in reality so banal after all.

Ameen.

On Intentions, and Closed Doors, and Looking Ahead

Sometimes, we are in a phase of nostalgia.

As someone pointed out, nostalgia isn’t a very positive feeling. There’s always a sense of looming melancholy that comes with it. The origin of the  word itself is Greek : nostos – return home and algos- pain.

Yep, it is definitely painful to live in the past. Which is why often we will find people who are uncomfortable with even talking about the past. They are uncomfortable with nostalgia itself. They wish to keep moving forward.

What do such people do when they meet a highly emotional, sensitive, romanticizing individual who likes to keep reminiscing about the past? This is not a pleasant duo 🙂

I am the forward looker…

I left my past of 17 years in Jeddah behind. I did not want to reminisce. I did not want to cry tears over a past that could not be restored. I did not want to glorify a city that will never mean to me what it meant to me in childhood.

So naturally I couldn’t understand anyone else who looked back that way.

I wanted to turn their heads away from looking back through that window into a past that was not going to return. Or at least to stop giving a commentary to me about it! 🙂

But Allah swt had Prepared an interesting lesson of empathy for me.

Alhamdulillah. Really.

So as I write today, I ask you, the reader, to tell me: if you wish to stop someone from looking at that door that is closed now – I ask you, would it work if you tell them: “it is closed. Stop looking at it.” The response most likely would be: “Oh but I so want to go back.” “Turn your head away” “I just want to keep looking – the memories are so precious.” “It will keep you from being happy. Live in the present.” “But that’s the only happiness I have even in the present.” “Don’t even look in that direction.” … Eventually, a resounding “Then I have nothing to look at.”

The more you try, the harder it becomes for the person to look ahead. Because you are trying to pull them away from something that is dear to them.

Perhaps if we can only appreciate the beauty they are looking at? Move towards that door. Look in through that window. Admire those blooming flowers, those magnificent trees, those memories, the radiant joy – whatever it is they are nostalgic about- look at it – see it with their eyes. Just acknowledge it. Maybe that shared bond of empathic romanticizing will do it for them. Maybe it will be that shared appreciation of all that is good in the world which will make them embrace the fact that the door is closed – and what can be done is done.

That moment of realization has to come from within. Even if you are able to force them to move away from that door, it will not truly be worth it because they wouldn’t have done it of their own accord. They will eventually go back to it.

It is ok to look back once in a while, the memories brining back that tinge of bitter sweetness… But by going back, I mean going back in the misery. That is what we are aiming to leave. So perhaps we look together at the past for some time? Do we really need to shun everything that *we* are not comfortable with? Perhaps we have our own fears about the past that we are uncomfortable looking at – but it is only by accepting our whole selves do we really begin to truly heal. So look back and admire the beauty and the mess.

And after admiring that beauty together, you both can now start to admire the beauty in front of you. The one staring you in your face.

It is because we force others to think and be like us, that we forget that Allah swt has Kept chapters and chapters about intentions. That we do things with our own will and our own desire.

It is when we forget that instead of nourishing someone so they find themselves whole and make their own right decisions in life, and instead we try to shower them with right decisions coming from *our* will, do we inhibit the beauty that this person has inherently inside of them.

The straight path has been shown to us – it is available for everyone to walk on… Let us be wayfarers who keep supporting each other on this perilous, long, but sweet journey nonetheless…

May Allah swt Make each of us true partners and helpers of each other on this path towards Jannah. Ameen.

This is about being positive in our outlook in life, but it is also about exhorting and counseling one another to Truth in the most beautiful of ways- in ihsan– excellence. May Allah swt Make all of us amongst the muhsineen.

إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالْحَقِّ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالصَّبْرِ

Except those who have faith and do righteous deeds, and counsel each other to truth and counsel each other to steadfastness. (103:3)