Sunday, 30 June 2013

What's your problem with modesty?

A dear sister sends a strong message to those who argue against modesty:

      Everyone, especially people who consider themselves "radical feminists" needs to piss off with their attitude towards women who dress modestly. Your arguments that modesty are actually a result of patriarchy, and that women who dress modestly are somehow subservient to years of patriarchal tradition is in and of itself patronizing and untrue. That is actually taking a reactionary position. I'm sorry if you are/were shamed about the way that you dress, or are/were forced to "cover up". (I'm not here to judge anyone who dresses differently). However that has not been my (and many other) women's experience. Asserting that the concept of modesty (in any form) is "disgusting" is a PRODUCT of patriarchy and asserts the Western hegemonic narrative. You are undermining my knowledge of my own religion (or others personal beliefs) as well as assuming that I am intellectually incapable of interpreting my religion in a way that is NOT patriarchal (rather I find it empowering). In this hypersexualized society where women are objectified in EVERY way, I feel more comfortable when people cannot see my body. It's bad enough to have ACTUAL patriarchy police women's bodies, but to add women (esp. those who are "feminists") to that list is just sad. I don't understand why people feel ENTITLED to comment on what women wear/don't wear. I choose what parts of my body people can see, I choose WHO can see it. Please understand that.

*side note* Islamically, the concept of modesty applies to both women AND men.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

A Jihadist's Love for Language

      A dear sister writes a thoughtful reflection on the powerful association of words to their meanings:

     There are a few words that I strongly dislike, primarily because they lack a single definition and so, are ambiguous in their meanings: jihadist, islamist, fundamentalist, extremist, and the likes. I believe these are dangerous words, as it seems they are capable of evoking a range of emotions and responses, without carrying a definitive definition.  

     A person who speaks, or even just understands, Arabic knows the definition of "jihad", a word that stems from the Arabic word “johd”, meaning effort, and defined as anything that serves as a source of effort.  True, the Holy Quran makes multiple references to “jihad” as a physical struggle of arms and war, but it is important to identify this word as one that existed prior to the revelation of the Quran and encompasses and means more than its Quranic reference and definition.  Nowadays, the word jihadist does not seem to encompass everyone who exhibits any form of effort, else we would all be labeled jihadists.

     What is an islamist? If it is, at it appears, a person who follows the religion of Islam, this would make the word islamist synonymous to the word Muslim. So, when I use the word islamist to describe someone, and not myself, a Muslim, I may unintentionally be implying:
a) I am a non-islamist, which sounds like I'm either not Muslim or oppose Islam, or both
b) The person I am identifying as an islamist is the single and proper representation of Islam as a religion and Muslims as followers of that religion.  

     Somewhat symbolic is the fact that as I write this opinion piece (this is all my opinion, not to be taken as concrete truth or fact), Microsoft Word has underlined in red the word islamist, warning me of my grammatical error.  Apparently, I should be capitalizing the word islamist as I would Islam.  Word provides no synonyms to the word, and I personally refuse to capitalize a word so ambiguous in its meaning.  Instead I will italicize all my references to the words for which I am seeking definitions.

    Fundamentalist and extremist are dangerous words in a different way.  The dictionary definition of fundamental reads: “serving as, or being an essential part ofbeing an original or primary source”.  When we refer to someone as fundamental, we are identifying them as true and correct, in fact, exceptionally true and correct.  Unfortunately, I have seen this word used to describe something or someone that is in essence incorrect.  Even more, the fundamental teachings and studies of Islamic science, in Arabic “Aqeedah” revolve primarily around faith, belief, and principles, not religious rituals and practices.  Knowing this, it becomes ironic to identify today’s religious fundamentalists as those that are more prominently opinionated and vocal regarding religious action-based obligations as opposed to thought-based obligations. 

     Identifying the ambiguity of the word extremist is even simpler.  In referencing this word, do we consider how far off from moderate and balanced an extremist of anything is?  I would answer no, seeing as how if we did, a religion would not be associated with its extremist believers more often than anyone else.  Even more, I think we need to question more often than we do at what point a person, belief, or stance is so “extreme” that it becomes different. To me, there is great irony in the fact that a strong fundamental foundation is required to develop the solid strength of anything – from physical structures to fluency in language

     Words are very powerful as they often carry meanings much heavier than their dictionary definitions.  This is why language is used to make things either beautiful or ugly – often more beautiful or uglier than they actually are.  I pray that we are all able to consider the adequacy and meanings of the words we speak, hear, and read so as to appreciate the power of words and master ability to understand and manipulate them properly. 

Thursday, 27 June 2013

A Muslima's Top 10 Issues with Facebook

      Hey, I know. I’m pretty sure we all have our reasons to be annoyed of Facebook. I’m also sure you’ll find plenty of other lists talking about this. But I want to cover some issues which hit home with me on a daily basis when I log in. And if you’re wondering, no I will not give a fatwa on Facebook. The last thing we need is to isolate ourselves from the rest of the world. There’s no harm in choosing to stay off these networks and there are plenty of reasons why I would agree with that approach. Yet, I find Facebook to be a tool. Any tool can be abused and misused. Life is about balancing priorities. Make a list of the advantages and disadvantages of being on Facebook and give them a scaled weight out of 10. Check the total score and compare. If your losses are more than your gains, you should reconsider having that account. As for this list, the order of the points on this list is not really that significant.

     Here are my top 10 issues with Facebook :

10. Selfies: 

     I don’t know when, how or why these “self-portraits” blew up all of the sudden. It seems it started with a few girls who were confident enough to get real close to the camera. However, they have not realized the implications of what they started. Ultimately, it’s your Facebook account. You can do however you wish with it. You might have your settings up and your lists set to block off men from seeing your photos. And at the end of the day your face is not awra. But the problem I find is when we complain about models being too perfect and too retouched, and we go off and do the same. Facebook has become a modeling search campaign. With selfies, women can be compared so easily and I’m quite sure those men and boys on your list are monopolizing that opportunity you presented to them and then there are some who just feel so awkward when your face pops up on their screen like that. The bottom line is, if it’s a photo you do not want your employer seeing, or a photo which you would not show a hard copy to that random guy on your list, then it’s probably not the one to use. If the thought of that makes you feel uncomfortable, then perhaps we should choose a new photo or no photo at all. Brothers, if you’re reading this, I have no idea why you would need a selfie. Isn't it all about the muscle with you guys?

9. Facebook as a record book:

     Now with that timeline in place, the world knows your conversation history. That time in grade 10 when you ranted inappropriately in a status calling for your boyfriend to come back to you is not something you want held against you. Let’s face it, even a year ago you were different. You just don’t want to see that again, let alone let the world see it for themselves. Those were stages of you. And now you are probably at your best stage of growth and maturity (hopefully) and you don’t want that holding you back. Facebook has the option to adjust the privacy of everything on your timeline. Change it to “only me” and keep your most recent posts available for your friends or public to see. God tells us to conceal our faults and sins and we choose to expose ourselves so easily.

Abdullah Ibn Masoud (May allah be pleased with him) related, `A man came to the Prophet and said: `O Messenger of Allah! I have mingled with a woman in the far side of al-Medina, and I fulfilled my desire short of actually having sexual intercourse with her. So, here am I, judge me according to what you decide.' Umar Ibn al-Khattab (May allah be pleased with him) then said: `Allah had kept your secret, why did you not keep your secret?' [Sahih Muslim]

8. Publicity: 

     Everything is so public. From your events to your live activity to whether a person has seen your message to even your feelings now. Facebook also has the option to pinpoint your location. Where is the mystery in life? Bottom line is, the options are there but that doesn't mean you should use them. Let’s all practice modesty shall we?
     To touch on another point, we have a relationship status option which I find to be abused quite often. One, there are some of you who think it’s cute to put your best friend as your wife and there are some who decide to announce their marriage to Facebook before their friends and family. Please people, don’t.

7. Distance from reality: 

     I’m starting to find that the more news on our "news feed", the less we care. Especially since our news reporting as people on Facebook is pretty much biased by our views; whether our people are effected or sometimes depending on your area of study. So the problem lies when we associate certain individuals with specific events where it becomes “his/her” important news and not mine.  Be careful folks.

6. Illusion of celebrity life:

    You log into to that timeline, read all the nice posts from your favorite friends and the comments from all the people who adore you. Life seems good. I mean obviously the friends who comment are the ones who love you. You could be the most annoying person on someone's list but they'll almost never tell you. There's no room for personal growth on these networks. We assume that the more 'likes" a person receives, the more they are liked. Which may not always be the case. Everything with Facebook is meant to be centered around you. You log into that homepage and it asks you how you are feeling. The truth is, no one really cares. Facebook just feeds the ego. But I think as long as you are aware of this, you should be okay.

5.Illusion of connection: 

     Facebook is supposed to be our social networking tool whereby we "connect" with other folk. I'm going to argue against this. There is a lot more of an "illusion of connection" rather than pure connection. Why do we add people on our list who have nothing to do with our lives and have not connected with us in years? Do we really care what they think about us? With Facebook, everyone's homepages gives them this illusion of sincere connection when really they are merely bystanders. This illusion oftentimes gives us less of a need to call up or meet with someone we truly appreciate and there's a lack of quality in our friendships because of this. Even Facebook invites are so dry. What happened to the time when we used to send cards through the mail or actually invite people in person? Those were the days. If you're still living those days, then you're a lucky one.

4.Ill intentions and perfectionism:

    You've got that wall or timeline where you can show the world who you are. So obviously, which parts of us do we show? The most awesome parts. Even if it holds less than 5% of our interest, if it makes us look good, we'll share it with the world as though it is our passion. Even in the best of our intentions we often write to boost our reputations whether or not we are conscious of what we do. We share our highlights with the world and everyone begins to believe that every moment in our lives is the same. Let us be transparent and honest with ourselves even if this doesn't please the world around us. To be yourself is the ultimate freedom. Ask yourself a series of questions before you post something:

1) Will this benefit anyone?
2) Am I writing this for myself or for others to see?
3) Do I have a deeper intention for sharing this?
4) Would I be okay if random people on my list (like your fifth grade teacher) saw it ?

ps. This point is partly why this blog is anonymous.

"The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else's highlight reel" -Steve Furtick

3. Awkward statuses:

     Stop making us feel so awkward and uncomfortable with your statuses, please. I mean that in the sweetest way possible. Think about it for a sec. If you had all your Facebook friends together in one hall, would you pick up a megaphone and read out loud your status? I narrowed down the most awkward status types in my opinion:

1) Too vague: The statuses that make us link all that we know about you to decode this ball of mystery you just exposed to the world. That song lyric or that poem leaves us so confused. You don't want to bring suspicion to yourself please. Make sure if it's vague, then it's positive and not personal.

2) Too detailed: You outfit of the day. Your nails. Your workout routine. Your food. Your location. No one is interested please. Start a blog maybe?

3) Fishing for Dua or forgiveness: It's not the worst thing in the world don't get me wrong. But we abuse it sometimes. We ask others to make dua for us before we've prayed and made dua for ourselves. Your friends for the sake of Allah should be making dua without any reminders. If you want others to make dua for you, the least you can do is private message them. At least it makes them feel special. Fishing for forgiveness is also placed in the same category. Will asking 500+ folk to forgive you at once really get their hearts moving? Or are you just trying to find an easy way to clean your slate? Please apologize to people in person or on the phone. And perhaps you should cut yourself some slack. You didn't commit murder (hopefully).

4) Accomplishments: It's cool to share your accomplishments like graduation and whatnot. But are you over-sharing them? Are you using that "I" word too much?  

2. An addiction and tool for procrastination:

     Facebook is made to condition you into addiction. That red bubble pops up and triggers your reward centers every time you log on. Even if it's just a lousy game request, you've been conditioned to receive that red notification the same way. The only way to cause the extinction of your conditioning is to go for days without any notifications. But we all know that won't happen. Even when you deactivate, it's quite easy to resume since all of your information is still stored. Imagine if you had to restart your profile all over again each time? You wouldn't come back on Facebook again. To overcome an addiction, one must be away from the triggers of an addiction and with the internet and reactivation so easy, it becomes increasingly difficult to quit. Not to mention, it's almost impossible stay away from procrastination an focus on one particular thing on Facebook. You have to check all your notifications at once. There's an app you can add to chrome which gives you a time limit on particular websites for the day. Try it out. Or you can deactivate during times of focus and always come back when you've got spare time.

1. The forgotten folk:

     Do not forget the folk who aren't on Facebook! Just because they are away from that social network, does not mean they don't exist and don't need social interaction. Call them up. Send them a text message or e-mail. Invite them personally to your events. And please stop pressuring them to join our world. They don't have to and their choice should be respected.

"Do not love the world, and the almighty will love you; do not have a longing for that which people have, and they will love you." (ibn-majah hadith)

Sunday, 23 June 2013

My Most Humiliating Childhood Memory

     New country. New school. New language. New attempts at forming friendships.  I had just barely managed to get into the habit of taking on high school when my parents made the call to move. The move from the western world to the east came with its own set of challenges. So many years of being in a country moulds you into a unique mix of your origins with the culture of the new land. Returning to where my parents assumed I belonged proved to be far from what I would call home.

     The new school was so different. I adhered to a strict uniform with freshly cut nails, plain higabs and closed toe shoes. The morning school announcements put us in lines and exercises that were meant to discipline and impose strict rules regarding what was appropriate and what was not. We were blasted with patriotic songs which could never be questioned or changed. The first day came with condescending stares, many questions and sometimes complete disregard for the new kid who was coming from such a foreign place. Having all 20-something female teachers made for an awkward tit-for-tat between the students and the teachers where sometimes I found myself feeling older than I was, caught between the unnecessary drama and conflict of amateurs.

     I was a simple child. I wore what was asked of me because I was a simple dresser anyway and liked my nails cut that way. The morning routine was a bit of a joke since we all knew what the agenda of it all was and we didn’t question the practice and risk to fall as outsiders to the system. But I desperately wanted to belong. So many years of being told where I belonged meant this is what I had to put up with to feel in tune with my origins. I worked for hours on this new rediscovered language and tried desperately to win over everyone’s approval. I longed for any hints that this new world was pleased with me. Here is where I experienced my most humiliating childhood memory:

     She laughed. Laughed so hysterically I thought it was sarcasm at certain points. More laughs started slowly erupting from the class; some nervous and some true. I felt my eyes burn and my voice begin to shake.  “I have to hold it together”, I told myself. I was humiliated by my own teacher; An Islamic studies teacher to make matters worse. Before this I remember how excited I was to finally get the chance to show the class who I am and to speak about something I was passionate about. We were assigned to take on a lesson in Islamic studies and I was so confident this would finally prove that I’m not as foreign as they think I am. At a point in the lesson, I brought up an analogy which I thought was wonderful. The example of the salmon that jumps against the flow of water to try and find the perfect place to lay its eggs. I explained how this is an example of how working against the current and towards a goal leads to a rewarding outcome, with the rewarding outcome being jannah. I was interrupted by my teacher who blurted out “salmon!??”

     I said “yes”.  I was almost expressionless and speechless at the sheer amount of ridicule directed towards me. “You mean like the fish?!” And I said yes again. And from there she couldn’t contain herself and her laughs sparked a chain of more ridicule and embarrassment towards me with more laughs at every mistake in pronunciation or grammar. I felt every word coming out of my mouth after that moment so insignificant and stupid. I felt lack of credibility. I failed at fitting in and as much as I tried, no one could accept me as an equal.

But that was okay in the end.

     Not everyone has to understand you. Not everyone has to give you a patient listening ear. Not all those who should be your role model in this world will live up to your expectations. Respect will always be seen with some folk as something to be earned rather than something of which every human on this earth deserves. All I needed was a fair shot. I needed a shot at being a better and bigger person for myself and I wasn't allowed that opportunity.

     There are times in life that almost seem to stamp out the rest of your life. Your wounds feel like they have been left open with scars forming where none were before. But I learned that when people don’t give you a chance, then you must remember to give yourself that shot instead.

     Do not allow your adversity to determine your tomorrow. Do not allow those who do not believe in you determine your self-worth. It is up to you to realize that the world may not be fair and that’s okay. But you must be easy on yourself. Wake up every morning as a new day and a new person. Go at it. Even if you have to go at it alone. Allah is with you.

    I wouldn't be writing for you today if it wasn't for her. So I thank her and I pray, not for the children of the world to be sheltered from these experiences, but for them to know that they are not defined by them and only by what they choose. I pray they learn to get up and challenge the world for the better.

     Thank you for your reading. You didn’t have to. But you did. And I’m grateful for the moments that lead me to this.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Racist Things Your Fellow Muslims Say to Each Other



     Oh, this is awkward...

     We're one big beautiful homogeneous ummah aren't we? Perhaps the word racism is much too strong. No Muslim is racist, right? We just have some dislikes for things is all.

     Sure, I mean you can choose to believe that being a Muslim is your one way ticket to Utopia whereby everyone is looked upon equally for their character before their race. But you mustn't deny that forming that rosy image in your mind is silence and complicity. Nothing is ever stationary, things are constantly happening around us. 

    Your silence is oppression.

     So, why do we deny racism in the Muslim community? 

     Perhaps it's because we wish to maintain the colonial mentality where only white folk can truly be racist against Muslims and the idea of shedding light on racism in Islam disperses us and makes us look weaker as an ummah. Or maybe we don't want to evaluate our racism in everyday life and put people we love in a negative light. Racist people in the past were labelled as Nazis among other things and no one wants to be grouped into that category. Or perhaps we're afraid of critical self-evaluation where our faults are exposed to the world and open to monopolization by mainstream forces and other Muslims around us. Or God forbid, the worst case scenario; we assume that our discrimination comes about as a natural product of one's race and has nothing to do with our perception.

     But lack of confrontation of a problem does not mean it doesn't exist.

    Our strength as an ummah should not lie with our ability to overlook certain aspects of our lifestyles and to "focus on the positive" but it should lie with our willingness to detect problems and choose to label them as such. Once we label an issue, we must take concrete steps to find ways to raise awareness and diminish the problem.

     I am going to make this image super clear in the next few minutes while you're reading. It's going to hurt and it might make you sad. But I'm sure it will hit home. This list is real.

Here are some racist things your fellow Muslims have said:

1. "We don't marry outside our sect"

2. "I don't hate brown people. They just annoy me"

3. "Brown people are wanna-be-Arabs"

4. "That's not our mosque"

5. "You're so whitewashed"

6. "She's pretty for a black girl"

7. "I feel like pissing off my parents and marrying a brown guy"

8. "I went to their house, and they were like the civilized type of Pakis, they don't smell or anything."
9. "Hes so religious, he would even marry a black girl and not care"
10. "Your husband must have really cultured you"
11. "For an Arab girl, you really aren't like the usual racist Arabs."

12. "I'm so tanned, I'm gonna get mistaken for Somali"
13. "I hate when people guess I'm from Pakistan."
14. "Abeed (slave)" "urdud ( monkeys)"
15. "Couldn't we get an Arab to teach them the Quran"
16. "Arab guys are so controlling and close minded. Hello white converts..."
17. "Somalian people have too many children"
18. [at Juma] "why doesn't he talk Arabic. We're all Arab here anyway"
19. "Obviously the MSA is being run by Arab for Arab"
20. "Not that I'm racist, but..."
21. "Brown people are too religious"
22. "You don't even act black, you're so well spoken" 
23. "Mashallah our shiekh is Saudi, this is gonna be a good Ramadan"
24. "Why don't you read Quran? Even Brown people read more than you"
25. "Why have a Pakistani imam when there are Arab brothers available?"
25. "Arab girls are party girls"

26. "All that Arabs do is belly dance and smoke shisha"

    Oh, you didn't think any of these statements were racist? Let us revise the definition of racism shall we?

Racism: a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural 
or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to
 rule others. (source)

I wrote previously about arrogance:

"Abdullah ibn Mas’ud reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “No one who has the weight of a mustard seed of arrogance in his heart will enter Paradise.” Someone said, “Indeed, a man loves to have beautiful clothes and shoes.” So the Prophet said, “Verily, Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty. Arrogance means rejecting the truth and looking down on people.

   A mustard seed?! That could be one look down on your mother, or a child, or a homeless person or a disabled individual. It would be a shame to come so close to the doors of heaven only to have them shut in front of you because you believed once that you were better than anyone else. Keep in mind that arrogance does not pertain to one's dress. Although the prophet (peace be upon him) used to be indistinguishable from the companions that even foreigners had a hard time locating him. 

But, how do we become nonjudgmental and more modest? 

   During the prophet's (peace be upon him) time, there was one man who used to appear drunk to the public in the daytime and the companions at one point wanted to issue him a punishment. The prophet (peace be upon him) addressed them and said "Do not curse him, for I swear by Allah, if you only knew just how very much indeed he loves Allah and His Messenger." 
He then added:
"Do not help Satan against your brother."(Al-Bukhari)

  Let us realize that Allah's mercy is vast and never ending. Only He has the power to conceal our faults and forgive us on the day of judgement. Some of us who judge others for sinning have put themselves at a high status, thinking that they are fairer than Allah (subhanahu wa ta'laa). When we judge, we judge others for their exposed sins while we ourselves have hidden sins that would shame us if they were to ever be exposed to the world. Always thank Allah for his mercy on us and always have mercy on others. Leave the judging to Him." (source)


“O mankind, We have created you all from a single (pair of a) male and female and made you nations and tribes so that you get to know one another; verily, the noblest of you in the sight of God is the one who is most mindful of Him. God is All-Knowing, All-Aware.” Quran: 49:13

The prophet, peace be upon him's last sermon addressed racism:

“O mankind, there is no superiority for an Arab man/woman over a non-Arab man/woman, or for a non-Arab man/woman over an Arab man/woman, or for white man/woman over a black man/woman, or for a black man/woman over a white man/woman. All of you are descended from Adam and Adam has been created from dust of the ground.”

I can't find concluding words better than the words of Allah and the prophet (pbuh). We've still got a long way to go before I can conclude on racism.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Born Again into My Islam

     Another dear sister writes a reflection:


     Since Ramadan is around the corner, I thought I should share my journey of finding the true peace and tranquility within myself. Alhamdulillah, by the mercy of Allaah, I was born a Muslim and had a Muslim upbringing. As I was growing up, I thought simply wearing the hijab and having a Muslim name, as well as praying five times a day would pretty much sum up a true character of  a righteous Muslimah. Little did I know how ignorant I was. Subhanallah. I didn’t know the purpose behind the hijab, why I prayed, what the verses I recited in my prayer meant and, to be quite honest, I had no clue what the word “khushuu” meant. I knew Allah was my Lord, that Islam was my religion, and that Muhammad (may peace be upon him) was my Prophet and beloved Messenger. Although I knew these things, I felt like I really didn’t know them, if that makes any sense. I knew Allah was self-existent and I knew that He was my Lord but you know what I lacked? The beautiful word we find in the Quran in numerous chapters: Taqwa. I didn’t understand this word and this was my struggle. The word Taqwa within itself is an amazing word. Oh, how I regret not being able to have attained the knowledge of this word before. I struggled everyday trying to find inner peace. Every time I prayed I felt like it was a simple routine, and every single word of remembrance that I uttered felt as if I simply offering lip service to Allaah. It simply became a habit in my life. You know they say it takes 21 days to build a habit and this is exactly how I felt. 

     So what does taqwa mean? Taqwa is having a sense of consciousness of Allah, knowing that He is always present. Even though we do not see Allah swt, having Taqwa in our hearts means that we act as though we see Allaah in every moment of our lives. Taqwa is when you are doing dhikr after every salah and every time you say Subhanallah, it touches your heart and it increases and affirms your belief. Taqwa is when you say Alhamdulillah and you are truly grateful for what you have and for everything you have experienced (good or bad). It is when you truly understand that your Rabb is worth praising. Taqwa is when you utter Allahu AKBAR and have tears gushing down your face because you know and feel in your heart that your Rabb is truly the greatest. Taqwa is when you pray as if it’s your last. It is when you are alone and scared and have full trust that Allaah is your only Wali (protector).  

    Another important aspect of Taqwa is Tawakkul. The simple definition of Tawakkul is trust. It is the utmost reliance that a person has on Allah. Knowing that Allah is the One who will provide that true sense of reassurance. I’ve struggled in the past and continue to strive every day to attain this Tawakkul. For example, in the past, I’ve found myself relying on doctors and my medication when fell ill instead of remembering that Allaah is the only one who can remove my sickness. Or, even worse, when a really close friend of mine experienced a coma, I felt like it was up to the doctors to save her life. And when these doctors came out of the excruciatingly long and life-threatening surgery with smiles on their faces expressing how successful it went, it made me extremely confident that my friend would be okay. A day later, however, I lost complete certainty, as the doctors approached me with frowns on their faces. A day after my friend passed away, I cried and I cried and I cried because I forgot that Allah was the only one who had the power to grant my friend ultimate shifa (cure) and not these doctors. Allah only utilizes us as means to help one another, but ultimately, He is the one who makes all final decisions. It Is Allah who takes our lives and it is He who we will return to in the end.  Seeing my friend laying on top of her hospital bed lifeless, motionless, still as a rock, really made me reflect on where I stand as a person. 

    It is sad to see that we as people have become so attached to this dunya that we trust this dunya more then we trust the One who created it. We expect ultimate love, care, mercy, compassion, and peace from this world, from our friends, from our spouses, and from our families, so much so, that we have lost complete touch with ourselves. I have lost touch with myself. I have become so dependent upon my friend to comfort me when I’m gloomy. Or when I’m scared, my father would be the first person I think of. Really It honestly has become this bad. Not just with me, but with all of us. We have lost ourselves to this dunya. Who knows if we will even live for the 20 years, or even the next minute. Subhanallah, I  have seen what destruction I have caused myself by relying on this worldly life, but Alhamdulillah I have witnessed a huge transformation in my life when I finally strived to attain Tawakkul of Allaah. I want to be able to trust my Lord when I’m alone, and even when I’m not alone, when I’m sad or happy, when I’m angry, frustrated, scared, or overwhelmed. I want to be able to Trust my Rabb. How I now only seek your reassurance, oh Allaah. Please grant us the opportunity in attaining a level of Tawaqul which we’ve never had, yaa Rabb. Ameen.

     I remember last Ramadan, I prayed Qiyam-ul-Layl  for the very first time. I am a person who does not  understand the beautiful words of the Quran, but, subhanAllaah, I as I stood in prayer seeking reassurance, calmness, and  tranquility. Allaah’s beautiful words, whose meaning I didn’t understand hit me hard.  I had no idea what these verses meant but I knew these words were words of peace, and so I cried. I cried, and I cried, and I cried. Tears began dripping down my face. I asked myself what caused these emotions to surface and I finally realized that the only one that I needed when I was alone and suffering was You, my Rabb. You are my Shifa. You are my Guidance. You are my Mercy. You have given me the tranquility I was desperately searching for. You were always there when I needed you. I just needed to find you and, Alhamdulillah, I have. If there was anyone who has brought out the best in me, it was You. If there was anyone who gave me that strength when I felt like I had none left in me, it was You. If there was anyone who helped me smile even when the world frowned at me, it was and IS always You, my Lord <3.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Just Face it, You're Alone in this World

     You are born alone. You live alone. And you die alone.

     What does it mean to be lonely? Is the company of others the only variable in assuring one has a happy and hospitable life? Or does loneliness stem from our empty hearts?

     You’re thinking right now of all the amazing people in your life. This is definitely not a post that appeals to you, right?

     When Allah subhanahu wa ta’laa made Adam, he gave him the companion Hawa (peace be upon them). Cause he made it our nature to prefer being in the presence of others.  The prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) himself was given Abu bakr Alsideeq. Love for the sake of Allah gives life more meaning and even the most pious of us need a friend.

     But why do people so often fall short of our expectations? Why do the closest people to us fail to satisfy our needs? Why do they have a hard time understanding us? Often, even those who we see on an almost consistent basis forget who we are and judge us wrongly. Some people marry with the expectation that their partner will fill that void and end up emptier than they started. The first problem lies in the perception of these questions. No one is obligated to provide for you and no one will read your mind. No one can grasp all of the dimensions that make you who you are. No one can fully envision the extent of the hardships that have been inflicted upon you and how much you struggle on a daily basis to stay strong. Not even from years of companionship could you possibly establish this type of connection with someone. Which is why we are alone in this dunya and from this loneliness should stem our love for Allah.

     Allah subhanahu wa ta’laa can be reached at any time in our life and even the mere remembrance of Him can lighten up our hearts. He knows all those details the rest don’t care about. How does one establish that special connection with Allah subhanahu wa ta’laa? It’s quite simple actually. Think about how you establish a connection with people. We establish a connection with others when we share a vulnerable aspect of ourselves that we don’t expose so easily to the world. The more private the connection is, the stronger we feel tied to the individual and the more we trust in them. Now try this. Speak to Allah subhanahu wa ta’laa as a friend. Think of Him as someone who is following you with every step you make. Every thought. Every hardship and struggle. And every time you smile on the inside, you share this with Him. Talk to Him as though he lives in your head and heart and tell Him things you wouldn't tell a soul. Keep a few secrets between each other. And I don’t mean the bad ones, because those types of secrets are easy to hide from the world. But share with Him an aspect of your life that you would normally tell someone else. Now you've established trust.

     At this point, you have freed your soul from the flock.


"And remember your Rubb by your tongue and within yourself, humbly and with fear and without loudness in words, in the mornings and in the afternoons, and be not of those who are neglectful.'' (The Holy Quran 7:205)

     Now you will feel so comfortable being alone. So much so you may be able to go for a walk to a park, sit on the grass and smile to yourself. Because you've finally come to realize that you don’t live this world alone as you have thought. I promise you, only Allah knows if my promise is to be fulfilled, but you will see everything clearly and Allah will help you through every hardship and he will make you sensitive to things that did not provoke any happiness in you before. One day, we will all die. We will die and be brought up to Him bare with only our good deeds to save us. It’s time to think about this before it’s too late. We are born bare and we die bare. 

We must now live bare too.

     "I am as My servant expects Me to be. I am with him when he makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assembly better than it. And if he draws near to Me a hand’s span, I draw near to him an arm’s length; and if he draws near to me an arm’s length, I draw near to him a fathom’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him running." (Hadith Qudsi, Al-Bukhari)

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

10 Signs You Love Someone for the Sake of Allah

     We tend to speak so much of the bad folk. “People are selfish” .“People are arrogant”. “People are fake”. It has come to a point where in an attempt to address issues or counter this negativity, we caused even more negativity as a result. That person who complains about everything can cloud upon himself a gray fog of negative energy wherever he goes. Sometimes even in the best of our intentions we become engulfed in this cycle of complaint about all the wrong in the world we completely blind ourselves from all that is beautiful.

There are good people out there my friend.

"There are some people who enter your life like gems. These are the real diamonds. They have no ulterior motives, no inferiority complex, no superiority complex, no need to prove that they are better than you, or seek to have more than you. They don’t feel entitled and aren’t needy or dependent. They are not superficial or fake. They remind you of God and they understand you, when no other person does. They don’t wear a mask with you or pretend to be perfect. They are just real with you and honestly and sincerely only want good for you. You feel you can tell them anything without worrying that they will judge you or put you down for being imperfect. They know your flaws, but love you anyway. And they are loyal. You know they’ll be there for you. They'll always have your back. And best of all, time and distance doesn’t change this. If you’ve met even one person in your entire life like this, you’re blessed." -Yasmin Mogahed

    What does it mean to love someone for the sake of Allah? How do you know if you've met a person who has established this type of relationship with you and how do you know if you love them the same way too?

   For Allah’s sake basically means only for Him and not for the sake of anyone or anything else; meaning a friendship based on worship and devotion to Allah first and foremost. I don’t believe this would be a less committed form of traditional friendship but one that comes with more sacrifice and trust and holds up over time. It can be envisioned as a sentiment so strong that a Muslim will want to drag his beloved brother/sister with himself to heaven. It is a relationship that you take with you to the grave and beyond. One that you flaunt the day of judgement in front of the Almighty Allah subhanahu w ta’laa. It is important that our friendships never lose sight of this ultimate relationship with the Creator. Every effort to please this individual, to bring them closer to Allah or to ease their difficulty is considered charity for the sake of Allah. And let’s not forget, for your sake too. We’re all trying to save ourselves from hell fire aren't we?

    Mu`adh (bin Jabal) (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, "Allah, the Exalted, has said: `For those who love one another for the sake of My Glory, there will be seats of light (on the Day of Resurrection), and they will be envied by the Prophets and martyrs" [At-Tirmidhi].

    Should it matter whether the person you have established this relationship with views you in the same way? I found from my personal experience that it helps. But I don’t think it is necessary. If we employed this way of thinking, then we would certainly become so encased within our own circles that there would be no room for compassion and empathy to others who may require the guidance the most. Ultimately, you should never think of it as aiding your brother/sister. Your actions are directed towards Allah subhanahu w ta’laa and in no expectations of return of the favor from the other.

    Anas bin Malik (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, "There are three qualities whoever has them, will taste the sweetness of Iman: To love Allah and His Messenger (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) more than anyone else; to love a slave (of Allah) only for (the sake of) Allah; and to abhor returning to infidelity after Allah has saved him from it as he would abhor to be thrown into the fire (of Hell)" [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

    So I complied a list of 10 signs to aid us into understanding what it means to love someone for the sake of Allah. It is based on my observations really. Nothing etched in stone. I’d love to hear your input.

Here are some signs that you love someone for Allah's sake:

1. You are not upset if there is a lack of commitment:

    Friendships based on love for Allah are nourished and grown by a divine source. When we see the connection between our brothers and sisters in Islam as one that is tied by our greater connection with Allah, we are not upset by anyone's shortcomings. If your friend cannot call you everyday to check up on you or does not return favors, your love in the sake of Allah should keep you grounded and satisfied. Since Allah brought this person to you, He can also take him away at any time. At the end of the day, you are looking to satisfy a higher being than your friend, so as long as you've paid your due for Allah's sake you shouldn't worry about lack of commitment. How do you know? Well, ask yourself how often you ask this person why they haven't called/texted/met you. If you do it often, perhaps you've clung onto the person rather than the relationship with Allah.

     2. You are a constant reminder of Allah to them and they are a constant reminder of Allah to you:

   In worship and speech, you both tend to remember Allah. This doesn't have to mean full on khatiras and khutbas when you see one another. It can be a simple reflection of recent events for example. Or a brief dua. You will also find yourself gently pushing this friend to do good for Allah. Pushing them to pray with you or advising them can build on your relationship together. It is important to give advice in a gentle manner; in private and in a non patronizing way.You never want to make it seem like you're bragging about your deen. No one likes that. In contrast, a friend who supports you even in times where you know you have wronged yourself in the face of your Lord is a friend that doesn't have your back anyway. At least not in the way that they should. These types of friendships seems to be so temporary for some reason. 
    Mu`adh (bin Jabal) (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) held my hand and said, "O Mu`adh, By Allah, I love you and advise you not to miss supplicating after every Salat (prayer) saying: `Allahumma a`inni `ala dhikrika wa shukrika, wa husni `ibadatika,' (O Allah, help me remember You, expressing gratitude to You and worship You in the best manner)".
[Abu Dawud and An-Nasa'i].

3. You have no expectations from them:

         When you love someone for His sake, you don't need them to return your favors or reciprocate. Your reward lies solely with Allah (subhanahu wa ta'laa) and you know this and don't expect anything from people in general. A friend who knows this about you will not thank you excessively and does not feel the need to return gifts or gestures. But sometimes it happens, especially if the other person also loves you the same way. There's no shame in accepting gifts.

         A’ishah said: “The Messenger of God (pbuh) would accept gifts, and reward generously on account of that.” (Bukhari #2445)

    Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, "A man set out to visit a brother (in Faith) in another town and Allah sent an angel on his way. When the man met the angel, the latter asked him, "Where do you intend to go?'' He said, "I intend to visit my brother in this town". The angel said, "Have you done any favour to him?'' He said, "No, I have no desire except to visit him because I love him for the sake of Allah, the Exalted, and Glorious.'' Thereupon the angel said, "I am a messenger to you from Allah (to inform you) that Allah loves you as you love him (for His sake)" [Muslim].

4. You are happy when you see them happy:
         Unfortunately, with growing individualism in our society  it has become quite rare for people to be truly happy for others without this happiness somehow linking back to themselves. Let's face it, often we cannot even maintain a conversation with someone and listen to them talk about their problems without talking about our lives and experiences. If you love someone for the sake of Allah, you are happy when you see them satisfied in the blessings of Allah. Even when these blessings have not been brought upon you. You continuously make dua for their sake in private. When you make a dua for your brother/sister in Islam, you get the reward for this dua and it also applies to yourself. We must be satisfied with Allah's wisdom in splitting his blessings. 

           The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said; “The supplication of a Muslim for his brother in his absence will certainly be answered. Every time he makes a supplication for good for his brother, the angel appointed for this particular task says: `Ameen! May it be for you, too’.” [Muslim].

     5. You met for His sake and continue to reunite for His sake:

         The basis of your friendship has been set for His sake. You met on good intentions and continue to meet for a purpose greater than yourselves. Your reunion, even if it may be years from your original meeting, will be just as passionate as you remember. Because it is lit by the love of Allah suhanahu wa ta'laa.

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, "On the Day of Resurrection, Allah, the Exalted, will say: `Where are those who have mutual love for the sake of My Glory? Today I shall shelter them in My Shade when there will be no shade except Mine".

6. You hold no record book of reciprocation on them: 

        You find yourself forgetting quite easily the last time he/she initiated a connection. Because that doesn't really matter to you. You don't hold an account of who puts in more effort in the friendship. It makes forgiving quite easy as well because it involves forgiving for the sake of Allah and you really have nothing to lose because the basis of the friendship was not you or your friend. 

           The Prophet (saw) said: “Among Allah’s servants are people who are neither prophets nor martyrs, but whom the prophets and martyrs will deem fortunate because of their high status with Allah.” The companions asked, “O Messenger of Allah! Inform us of who they are.” The Prophet (saw) told them that “they are people who loved each other for Allah’s sake, even without being related to one another or being tied to one another by the exchange of wealth."

7. Your conflict comes with no drama: 

         Oftentimes, we may get caught up in friendships that we cannot maintain due to differences in values or perhaps they come with bad influence. Sometimes, we even get caught up in drama and decide to end things in a horrible way. These times of conflict can result in an end to the connection between you two, at least on a physical level.  Friends who love for the sake of Allah hold a divine connection which is not tainted by conflict. When it does happen however, they decide to end matters in a a respectable manner that pays due to your past and your connection with Allah and not your ego. 

     8. You don’t have to agree on everything:
        If the basis of your friendship is love for Allah, then it will be built on his word. Differences of opinion  especially with regards to religious matters, are seen in Islamic history and date all the way back to the Sahabas time. If your frienship is for His sake, then you will not need anyone's approval of your ideas since they lie between you and your Lord. Good friends will consult the Quran and Hadith when they disagree. And if even then they still do, that's okay.

    9. You give them your good word:
         Friends for the sake of Allah don't hold back on their love for one another. Because their ego doesn't mess around with the relationship. They praise each other when they commit good deeds and give their good word. You also shouldn't care about how your compliments for example are received. Cause they were never for anyone's sake but Allah's. Sometimes a good word can go a long way. We forget to praise great people and this can make them stray from the right path. Letting them know you appreciate them and what they do gives them motivation to continue doing great things for Allah's sake. You will share the reward that way.

     Anas bin Malik (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: A man was with the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) when another man passed by and the former said: "O Messenger of Allah! I love this man (for Allah's sake)". Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) asked, "Have you informed him?'' He said, "No". Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) then said, "Tell him (that you love him)". So he went up to the man and said to him, "I love you for the sake of Allah;'' and the other replied, "May Allah, for Whose sake you love me, love you.''
[Abu Dawud].

10. You are willing to sacrifice for them for the sake of Allah: 

          What does it mean to sacrifice? It means to let go of what is precious to you. Time, energy, money and reputation for Allah's sake. You are willing to even give your friend up for Allah's sake too if that is what is best for him. Keep in mind, this sacrifice should NEVER be brought up as leverage or blackmail on your friend to prove your loyalty. It is sacrifice for Allah's sake and for you on the day of judgement that is done and then thrown in the sea, as the Arabs say.
           The Prophet (saw) went on to describe their great reward on the Day of Resurrection: “By Allah, their faces will be luminous and they will be upon light. They will feel no fear when the people will be feeling fear, and they will feel no grief when the people will be grieving.” Then he (saw) read the verse: ”Behold! Verily on the friends of Allah there is no fear, nor shall they grieve.” [Yunus:10:62]. (Abu Dawud)

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