Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Question

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum.

If one were simply to consider each and every action and purchase with this question in mind, things might be quite different.

"Will this help me get to Jennah?"

How's that for putting things into perspective and focusing on what is truly important?

Friday, November 27, 2009

What Gives Me Joy

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah.

There is a dua' I have been making for years now. It goes something like this. "Oh Allah, please let me be of benefit to those around me and put me wherever I can benefit others."

I seek Allah's Guidance on how to benefit others and on the best ways to benefit them. After all, what is the point of being in someone's life or crossing paths with another human being if there is no benefit or reminder to the good?

I have found that in trying to draw others closer to the good and truth, they have often taken off running with the concept and ended up teaching me something new in their zealous quest for knowledge.

Every now and then I consider whether I am omitting something big by not spending more time on myself. But what Allah has shown me, time and again, is that if I keep on thinking and doing for others, He will provide me what I need for my growth from whatever sources He Wills. The very people who claim I have benefited them, come back to me and open my mind to new knowledge and insights. I go online and in front of my eyes is something so relevant to a person or situation that I am dumbfounded at Allah's Perfect Plan. So, I'll keep on trucking with whatever I can do for those around me...and trust in Allah to take care of my development and growth as He Wills.

I pray that in some way, shape, or form I benefit one of you...if not by what I write then by my dua' that we all earn Allah's pleasure and sit together on those jeweled couches in Jennah al-Firdous - ameen.

On the occasion of Eid Al-Adha, 10 Dhul Hijjah 1430 AH, I say to you all, "Taqqabbal Allah minna wa minkum!"

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Where does our confidence come from?

Bism Allah wa as salaamu alaykum.

Something in human nature causes us to turn to others for reassurance and confidence building. We seek approval for our clothes, hairstyles, weight, body shape and fitness, home decor, choice of car, etc. We want others to find us attractive, to think we are good, nice, funny, kind, generous...the list can go on and on. We want our spouses to "want" us, to be pleased with us and to show pleasure in us.


So what happens if the world around us doesn't give us what we want? What happens if we don't get others' approval for our bodies, material choices, or personalities? We find ourselves depressed, miserable, feeling unwanted, without confidence. We let other people, other imperfect human beings, affect how we view ourselves. We let other people's opinions determine whether we are satisfied or not with ourselves.

Subhaan Allah! Who is the One to Judge us? Who is the One who created us as we are? Who is the One we need to please? Other people's opinions, praise, or criticism will not earn Allah's Pleasure. Other people's opinions will not add weight to our scale of good deeds. Confidence lies in one thing. This is an importance sentence so please, take it very slowly and seriously.

Confidence lies in knowing you are submitting to Allah's Will and striving to obey His Command in every aspect of your life.

Confidence lies in knowing you are taking care of yourself and dressing yourself as Allah has decreed and as the Prophet Muhammad, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam has modeled for us in his Sunnah. Confidence comes from knowing that on any given day you are up to date with your prayers, your fasting, your zakat, are striving in some way to perform Hajj, and are basing your life on tawheed - belief in the Oneness and Perfection of Allah.

Will you continue to worry about others, when if you follow the Quran and the Sunnah you will be doing all that is praiseworthy and best? Will you continue to worry if you know that your Creator is pleased with you?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Who'd of Thunk It?

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaykum!

Well, here it is. My first post since moving to Madinah al Munawarrah. Subhaan Allah! Words have truly escaped me these last weeks. We have been here since October 19th 2009 and so much has happened in this past month that I don't know where to begin. So I won't, LOL.

What I will say is that I never planned to work and here I am teaching English in Al Fusha School for Girls. I get to go to school with all three of my girls every day. I get to be there for them in a new environment, to support them and encourage them to make friends with children who don't speak their language, and I am surrounded by classical Arabic - the language of the Quran. I have colleagues who speak to me in fus-Ha and yet want to learn English. We all stroll into the gates of the school and remove our niqaabs, abayas, and hijaabs and walk around freely all day enjoying fresh air and sunshine from the shaded courtyard. A world of our own - comfortable and protected. A Girl's Club.

Already, as I walk around without nudity or obscenity in my surroundings, I dread returning to anywhere in the West. If I rarely hear singing, it is nasheed. For every unattractive aspect or backward thing I encounter here, there are countless positives to outweigh them. All thanks and praise is for Allah, The Perfect One. He has shown us, in every way and at every station, that His Plan for us has been Perfectly Orchestrated. We are greatly blessed.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Houses Built of Straw, Sticks, and Bricks

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaykum.

Late last night I could not sleep. My mind was filled with different ideas and issues. Then, in thinking of marriages in Islam I was reminded of The Three Little Pigs. Ironic, I know. Pigs are hardly our animal of the week. However, it was their choice of houses that was in my mind.

When we build relationships and structure our lives around someone who is away from Islam, we are living in a house made of straw. We surround ourselves with something that has no weight with Allah, no substance. The person doesn't gain the rewards for their actions because they aren't done for the sake of Allah, subhaana wa taala. Hence, their house has no permanence and is easily blown away by shaytaan, the big, bad wolf.

When we build relationships and structure our lives around someone who is a hypocrite, we are living in a house made of sticks. It has some substance, but the hypocrisy makes it intrisically weak. They know the truth, but they do not practice it and so their house has the strength of the truth but is still blown away by the big, bad wolf.

However, when we build relationships and structure our lives around someone who puts Islam first and bases their whole life and dealings around Allah's Guidance and the example of the Prophet Muhammad, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, they are living in a house made of strong bricks. The house has substance and weight with Allah. They are a support to each other and have the security and protection of their Creator. They are metaphorical bricks in the wall for each other. They have the defense against the big, bad wolf.

So many of us, at some stage of our life, built our houses out of straw or sticks. But their easy destruction guides us to appreciate all the beauty and security that a house made of bricks offers. May Allah, subhaana wa taala, guide us all to houses made of bricks in this life and beautiful palaces in Jennah al Firdous - ameen.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Arguments - The Weakness, The Struggle, The Light

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaykum.

SNAP! What does it? What is the thing that finally makes us snap? Which button is the one that, when pushed, sends us over the edge?

Ideally, Islamically, none.

Ideally, Islamically, we would say, "Audhu b'Illahi min as shaytaan irrajeem!" and keep our cool.

However, as humans, the ideal in Islam is something to strive for but not something we can fully attain. It is the striving that is important and the desperate disappointment in always falling short that makes us cry to Allah seeking forgiveness.

Bearing with patience, sabr, oh how hard it is when resources are low and the button is pushed. Oh how miserable to lose control and feel helplessly in the grips of shaytaan.

Remember the dua' "Oh Allah! Set not in authority over me one who is unjust!" After all this, shaytaan whispers to seek vengeance, to ask for justice and open signs. But Allah, subhaana wa taala, remains ever present and the depth of our faith wins the fight. We come to our senses and pray for the good, drawing to Islam. As we turn to Allah, we emerge stronger in deen, increased in taqwa.

Too deep? Saying, "Huh?" What I'm saying is that whenever we have an argument and we overcome the urges for vengeance and soften our hearts to seek the good for all involved, we increase our faith and taqwa. Anytime we lose control, allow shaytaan to infiltrate the goodness, and then fight back with true faith and a sincere heart, Allah Gifts us with a better level of deen.

Alhamdul'Illahi Rabb il al ameen!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Nothing Flourishes Without Maintenance

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaykum.

There are so many in our world that take whatever they can get from a thing and then just write it off and discard it. How will a house appreciate in value if it is never maintained? How will a car keep functioning well if it is never serviced? Likewise, how will our hearts draw closer to Allah without constant nurturing?

I want to increase in value in the Eyes of my Rabb every day, bi ithn Allah taala. I want to function well until the day I die, insha'Allah. All my life, I have taken care of my possessions, kept safe my gifts. Islam is the biggest gift I have ever received. It has changed my whole being, my whole focus, my whole understanding and approach to life. Recently, I have been faced with the results of unmaintained possessions being devalued and ruined. Subhaan Allah, what a blessing it has been! I abhor such waste, such ignorant carelessness. However, I have taken it as a lesson and message from my Creator. It has reminded me of the importance of maintaining my deen. I will not appreciate in value, unless I nurture Islam within me. It is everything! Houses and cars will not aid me on the Day of Reckoning...but the maintenance and increase in my emaan, taqwa, and ibaadah will. Alhamdu l'Illah for this reminder from my Rabb, and al hamdu l'Illah ala kully haal. Astaghfir Allah wa atoobu ilayk wa al hamdu l'Illahi Rabb il aal ameen.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Mai's Q&A with the Imam about Sleeping on the Floor

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaykum.

Well, a few months ago, off I went to the Imam to ask about emulating the Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, in things such as sleeping on the floor. He said that some things were Sunnat al ibadah and some were Sunnat al a'adat. That means some are Sunnahs of worship and some are Sunnahs of custom, things that were the Prophet's habits, not things relating to worship specifically. So he said, we don't have to sleep on the floor - that was his choice. We can sleep in comfort and luxury, it is halal.

I feel some lack of conviction about this...not that it is haram to sleep on a raised bed, LOL, but about the sunnah of sleeping on the floor not being something we are meant to emulate. Oh, you may sigh...what now, Mai?

Well, these ahadith are always in my mind on the subject.

The Zuhd of Prophet Muhammad: his bedding

Narrates Sayyidina 'Umar (may Allah be pleased with him): "I went to the Prophet and saw that he was lying on a mat made of the leaves of the date-palm, and there was no bedding between him and the mat, and the texture of the mat had left deep marks on his body, and under his head was placed a leather pillow stuffed with the bark of the date-tree. On seeing it, I said, "My Master! Pray to Allah (The Glorified and The Exalted) to grant prosperity to your followers. He has bestowed riches upon the people of Rome and Persia even though they are not believers." The Prophet (may Allah's blessings and peace be upon him) replied, 'O son of Khattab! Do you also think like that? They are the people who have been deprived of the blessings of the Hereafter (owing to their ungodly ways), and hence, the comforts (Allah wanted to confer upon them) have been granted to them in this world.' (In another version of the same Tradition, it is said that the Prophet replied, "O 'Umar! Do you not prefer that they took the joys of this world and we of the Hereafter)?" (Bukhari and Muslim)

Hadrat 'AbdAllah ibn Mas'ud (may Allah be pleased with him) says that (once) the Holy Prophet (may Allah's blessings and peace be upon him) slept on a mat made of date palm leaves and when he awoke, the impressions of the mat were visible on his body. We said: "O Allah's Messenger (may Allah's blessings and peace be upon him)! May we prepare a soft bedding for you?" He said: I have got nothing to do with the world. I am in this world like a rider who halts in the shade of a tree for a short time and after taking some rest, resumes his journey leaving the tree behind. (Tirmidhi)

There is another I recently read regarding the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) asking Aisha (radhi Allahu anha) if she had changed his bedding. She responded that she had folded up the mat to make it more comfortable for him. He said that he slept so comfortably that he didn't wake up at his usual time for tahajjud and asked that his mat be returned to its original state.

Subhaan Allah, I cannot tell you how differently I view super snuggly, soft as a cloud, comfortable beds since reading that!

Obviously, we are not told that we must sleep in such a way, but we are shown the best example in our Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, when it comes to leaving behind the comforts and things of this world. It wasn't so much a custom, as a deliberate thing he did for a clear reason. He even said to Umar, are you thinking like the people who are only getting comforts in this life? Well, I do not want to be one with the comforts in this life and none in the next. Somehow there is a serious message in the Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, sleeping in such a simple state. That is why I don't want a raised fancy bed.

Disappointed is an understatement about having to get mattresses to put on the floor here in Madinah, but Allah is the Most Perfect Planner and always with the patient, so I simply accept and place my trust in His Qadr and Qadar. In the meantime, I just keep on loving every aspect of how our beloved Prophet lived and praying I can even emulate a fraction of it - the ibadah and the customs insha'Allah.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Replacing What Is Lost with What is Better

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaikum.

Allah keeps sending me messages, keeps putting information in my path and I cannot ignore it. A couple of years ago, I read that fantasy books are not beneficial to read. They are not only lies, but impossible scenarios that have no basis in reality. At the same time, such things as fairy tales often promote immorality, an unrealistic concept of life and love, and a consistent boy meets girl, fall in love, maybe get married, and live happily after theme. Totally NOT what I want my children to grow up thinking or believing to be true.

Well, it's not exactly news that I hate the whole focus on entertainment and totally agree with the schools of thought that say that Islam should be taught seriously, not with cutesy videos, a bunch of songs, and cartoon characters to imitate Walt Disney. I do not want my children to be addicted to entertainment. So, when I was reading "You Can Be the Happiest Woman in the World" to prepare for a workshop I'll be doing this Saturday, I came across a directive which tied it all together. The author stated that romance books are promoting haram and are a waste of time. He further said that mystery novels teach us crime, deception, and are not Islamically beneficial. He said that if we are to read, we should read things that draw us closer to Allah, whether it be actual religious books, or books that further our knowledge of His vast universe, or books that teach us about the healing properties of every plant He has placed on this earth. This finally focused me. I took my questions to our Imam during the children's Quran class. He confirmed that to leave our children to read such fiction is to allow them to read lies and that the culture promoted in those books will have an effect on them. Reading about magic, fairies, vampires, etc. is not all...any of the story books that are about people's lives outside of Islam are harmful to our children. We end up glamorizing Western society and norms by giving them these books to read.

Now my mind is clear regarding Allah's message for me. We are preparing to go the Madinah Al Munawarrah in early September, insha'Allah. Our children will attend Private Saudi Quran-based schools insha'Allah. My sole focus is for them to all learn Arabic to fluency and know exactly what they are reading when they recite Quran. By the end of elementary school they should know about half the Quran, bi ithn Allah. Allah is guiding me to prepare properly. My children are no longer going to read books that are lies. They are no longer going to read fiction, particularly fiction that is not based on an Islamic lifestyle.

So, for my avid little 6 year old reader I must make some serious replacements. I have set her on the life of the Prophet Muhammad - a children's version. She read the stories from the Quran, so I will start finding readable books on the life of different prophets, sahaba, etc. The wives of the prophet will be interesting for her, too. I am going to get more craft books from the library and start making the effort to involve her in cooking. I am even planning to sit down and play Madinah Salat Challenge game with them, so they have a halal and educational fun time with me. We are going to make rag rugs together insha'Allah, practise our Quran daily, listen to interesting things and I'm thinking to turn her on to Sahih Al Bukhari. I believe she will enjoy reading ahadith and understanding more about the way the Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, lived. I'll keep you posted on how it goes. It will certainly be a big adjustment for a girl who goes through 4 or 5 chunky chapter books per day of a 4th - 5th grade level or higher. But it is time to set things right and take her out of that form of entertainment.

Today she asked to read the Stories of the Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, masha'Allah. Then she proceeded to read a selection of our Islamic children's stories. This is the beginning. I pray that Allah blesses me in this and makes my children of the rightly guided strangers in this dunya - ameen. As I gradually build up the adhkaar, the dua', the little Sunnahs of eating and sleeping, I can feel them thrive under the light of Islam. Tomorrow we will fast, insha'Allah. As we draw closer to Ramadan, I feel hopeful that we will strive more this year than ever before.

May you all be guided to what will truly impact you and your family this Ramadan and see it through - ameen.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Degrees of Deen

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaikum.

What happens when you find that you and your spouse are in different places Islamically? Hey, everybody is in a different place, but I'm talking about things that cause difference of opinion about how to raise the children or conduct oneself in public. Well, it may be that one of the parties goes to the Imam with questions, and each time gets confirmation that their thinking on the subject is correct. The first time, the Imam says try to talk about it nicely but have patience because we all have to grow in Islam and we all do it at different speeds and times. The second time, the Imam says that if possible it is best to try to talk nicely about it and convince the spouse that the subject isn't as they see it. Once the Imam is informed that this will upset the spouse or cause discord, he says, "May Allah help you. Make dua' for Allah to help you."

So what can one derive from all this? That when there is a serious conflict in issues of deen, something where one cannot see the harm in something and the other can, the most powerful thing you can do is turn to Allah. Of course, we know that dua' is the ally of the believer. But in this case, when the believer who is striving for Allah's cause and has been given clear guidance makes dua' for a change for the good, there is no way that Allah can refuse. One way or another, He will address your pleas. Also, what should one make dua' for? Pray, pray, pray that Allah makes your partner love what He loves, hate what He hates, and increases them in emaan, taqwa, and ibadah. Pray that Allah gives them eyes to see the traps of shaytaan, to avoid the doubtful things. Pray, pray, pray that Allah will protect anyone and everyone that may fall victim in the situation. Pray, pray, pray for your children.

And a word of encouragement to anyone out there who can understand this whole subject. Don't ever feel sad that you have "eyes" and "ears" and a "heart" that Allah has blessed with sure and clear Guidance. It is hard, there is no question. You will feel alone much of the time and may be called "extreme" lol. But would you ever turn down such gifts from your Rabb? Never! Just pray that He blesses those near and dear to you with those "eyes", "ears", and "heart." When you get to a stage that life is a prison, that you see the fitnah clearly in everything and know that distractions from Allah are of no benefit, just keep praying for Allah to keep raising your awareness and drawing you closer. He may be sending you as an example, as a benefit to others. He may have put you with someone of different understanding to give them da'awah and move them to a better place. One thing is for sure, He has given you a gift...use it as He Wills, wisely and well and turn your whole self over to Him.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Non-Muslim Sunnah

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah.

Why are all the non-Muslims raving about the Sunnah?

What, you ask? Is there a group of non-Muslims that have learned about the Sunnah and love it? No. There are masses of non-Muslims who swear by living the Sunnah - but they don't know it is the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet. They just know it is the best way to live.

So, I ask you...why do they know and practise, and we don't?

Why is it that when you go to the doctor, they tell you to eat whole, unrefined grains, natural foods, fruits, vegetables, like olive oil? Sunnah food! We are warned day in day out about avoiding chemical-laden, refined and processed foods like white sugar, white flour, white rice, etc? Why are they tell us to use honey, which we have ahadith and Quran ayaat about? Why are they giving us tips about how to eat mindfully, when we have extensive ahadith about the etiquettes of eating that tell us these things?

Why is it that the Green Revolution is telling us to build houses out of earth, just as they built the first masjid in Madinah? In the secular world, we are reminded that every day is Earth Day. In Islam, every day IS Earth Day because we have been given this earth as an amanah (trust) from Allah. They tell us not to use dangerous and harmful chemicals...subhaan Allah, it's as if they read the ayaat in the Quran "and do not destroy yourselves."

We turn up our noses at the "primitive" squat toilets used in the Middle East, but the west says that they are the healthiest toilets to use for proper elimination and even sell steps to use in front of western toilets to give the same effect of crouching. Subhaan Allah! We are even told that conventional toilets are a huge waste and composting toilets are the way to secure our earth's future.

Just go online and you will see articles and blogs about giving up material things, getting rid of the clutter. Non-Muslims are raving about the virtues and value of giving up unnecessary things to better appreciate what is important in life. So now, we have non-Muslims taking practical steps towards Az-Zuhd, when we are out shopping and filling our homes.

Non-Muslims are recycling, living for a year without throwing anything away to see how they can reduce their impact on the earth. They have gone back to the materials used in the time of the Prophet - iron, steel, glass, pottery - and shunned the plastic, aluminum, and teflon found to be so dangerous to our health. They even went back to the Sunnah in the materials they use - cotton, hemp, linen, wool, silk, leather, while we buy Japanese polyester abayas and thobes.

Frankly, I think we look a little foolish. What have we come to that the rest of the world is doing what was sent us by Allah, in the form of our Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) and his Sunnah, as the best example of how to live?

Polygyny: The Magnifying Glass

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

I have pondered the issues that are generally faced in polygyny for years. In fact, I came to a conclusion that it was imperative that everyone be on the same page, have a level of taqwa and emaan combined with the desire to live solely for the pleasure of Allah, to be able to make it a success. I still hold to that, because without it, fitnah abounds. However, something much bigger than that is really at the root of polygynous success. It's all about the man.

The pious man, truly connected to his Rabb, will select his wife based on criteria and Divine guidance. The pious man will fear Allah in his dealings and strive to correct his failings and be a good husband. The pious man will marry for the best of reasons. So, before anything else, the husband must be a good, pious man.


Because polygyny is a magnifier. The wife knows her husbands faults, shortcomings, weaknesses. She knows and it is her duty to cover those faults and to encourage improvement. However, what happens when another wife is brought on the scene is that the same things the first wife knows about, the second one learns about too. So if the husband lacks patience or is a poor communicator, he has two women telling him about it or reacting to him because of it. Whatever he has weaknesses in that cause problems or difficulties in a relationship, become two sets of difficulties...or three...or four. The problems do not disappear by taking another wife, they are magnified and duplicated. I have witnessed this with my own eyes. Even if the first wife has remained silent about the husband's shortcomings, often the newness makes the second or third mention them. Usually, however, they are issues that have already arisen in the first marriage and are simply repeating themselves in the subsequent ones. So from every angle, he will hear that he is not fair, or not admonishing correctly, or not communicating well, or not having compassion. It puts him under the microscope and magnifies his deficiencies. So, at the end of the day, it is the husband who it all rests on. Nearly every problem that has arisen in polygyny was caused by improper practise and deficiencies in deen. Those issues hinge on the husband foremost, and spiral out. Often men cannot handle such brutal exposure, but if they are truly striving for Jennah, they will realize that it is an opportunity to improve and correct themselves.

May Allah, azza wa jal, increase the emaan and taqwa of us all and keep us firmly on His Perfect Siraat, ever striving for His pleasure and living according to the Quran and Sunnah - ameen.

Polygyny: The Acid Test of Sisterhood

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah.

When I was single and wanted the stability of marriage, I was told by my closest friend that if it wasn't for the physical aspect, she would let her husband marry me. Several years later, in a conversation with another friend, I said that in the event that she was left widowed or alone with her children, I would hope that my husband would marry her so she could be close to us and taken care of by someone good, insha'Allah. I was told that if the situation was reversed, she could not do the same.

Even though I have had two experiences with polygyny, and neither was meant to continue, I still have the same mindset. Of course, I cannot make my husband take a dear and close friend in need as a wife; it is his decision. Of course, it also depends on his tastes and the situation all around. However, my love for certain sisters - those in whom I can clearly see clean hearts and a sincere struggle - makes me want them to be in good marriages, and have them close to me.

It has come to me that polygyny is an acid test of really loving the best for your sister. When there is some disease in the heart, it takes on a different aspect. However, when the sisters involved are truly good and sincere, it breaks my heart that we can be so selfish and put up such barriers.

My First Polygyny Post: An Outlook

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh my dear sisters,

May this post find you all firmly on Allah, subhaana wa taala's, straight path (siraat al mustaqeem) and aware of His Love and infinite Blessings - AMEEN!

I have found reading the posts from different sisters on polygyny very easy to relate to. In fact, I'm not going to reinvent the wheel with what I write in this post. No question, the issues we all face in polygany are very big tests from Allah that I hope and pray we all will pass for Allah's ultimate pleasure - ameen.

I have been in polygynous situations twice; once as recently as last year masha'Allah. The experiences have been of benefit and great growth to my Islam, my marriage, and my priorities. At times, I too was plagued by shaytaan with negative thoughts. My answer to this is to recognize them for what they are - efforts to sabotage my success in Islam and as a wife and mother. The more I recognize this, the less these thoughts come and the more positively I can view the whole situation.

As for issues of jealousy, whether sexual or emotional, one thing I was advised when I was previously a second wife was that what all wives should focus on is their own relationship with their husband. If that relationship is lacking, then we must work on improving it and making it a success. If it is successful, then we must work on keeping it that way and always strive for improvement. THAT is our business.

In reading The Ideal Muslimah, I realized that the most important thing we can do for ourselves is to focus on OURSELVES. We all want to get to Jennah, we all want Allah to be pleased with us, we all want to be good wives and mothers and the only way we can succeed with that is to work on dealing with everyone, from Allah to the world at large, as Islam prescribes. That is an all-consuming, 24/7 job! Between attending to our families, keeping house, mealtimes, day-to-day events, keeping up with our extended family and friends and maintaining the ties of sisterhood we are often begging for 5 minutes to read the Quran or try to learn something towards our Islam, and yet it is something we MUST do.

For many of us with children, if we truly want to have the time to grow and learn in our Islam, be a good wife and mother with a lovely home and beautiful meals on the table or floor (LOL, we have a sunnah dining table) then it is probably not going to happen unless and until our husband takes a second wife! Of course shaytaan tries to sabotage this reality with thoughts of jealousy and whisperings of insecurity - after all, that's his job. But the practical reality is that there truly are advantages that need to be looked at and appreciated. Having no pressure (even if it is self-imposed) of getting back on track after the birth of a child or during menses. Having some time for yourself. Going to bed as early as you like, even if you have to wear the kids out first! Being able to cook and eat what YOU like on your 'off' days, without having to make something separate for hubby.

The Prophet's wives, radhiAllahu anhunna, all had time to grow in Islam and a few were narrators of many ahadith. We never hear of them being occupied all day with housework and cooking. Although they cannot be compared when it comes to children, in other respects we can see that the division of time gave them great freedom.

Of course, things don't just fit neatly into the formula and sail along all the time. Hardships and tests on top of tests will come. The key, I believe, is in remembering that tests are a reminder from Allah that He loves us. He wants us to learn from them, pass them, and have His Success. Sisters, keep your eyes on the goal, focus on yourself and your Rabb, love for your brother and sister what you love for yourself, and remember: on the day of judgment we will all stand ALONE before Allah, subhaana wa taala. We will not answer for the mistakes or virtues of our husbands, co-wives, or anyone else - only ourselves.

May we all meet in Jennah, pleased with our Lord and He pleased with us - ameen.

Your sister from the heart,


Monday, August 3, 2009

Miscarriage #5

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaikum.

Seventeen months, 5 miscarriages wa alhamdu l'Illahi Rabb il aal ameen! Miscarriage #1 was in May 2008, and all thanks and appreciation to Allah, I said "al hamdu l'Illah" first, as soon as I heard the fetus was dead in there. I went home calmly, shed a few tears in hubby's arms - horribly fearful that those tears would indicate dissatisfaction with Allah's decree. Then I made taubah in case it was truly wrong to cry, and moved on.

I know, without a doubt, that everything that Allah sends me is out of Perfect Love and for my best end. I know that I need to accept gladly and learn from the experience or simply yearn for the reward for such pains and trials. By miscarriage number 3, I had read that those who bear with patience will be the envy of the shuhadaa on Yawm al Qiyama. I read that Allah has set a rank for each of us in Jennah and He sends trials and afflictions down on us to expiate our sins and assist us in achieving those ranks, which we otherwise would fall short of. Subhaan Allah wa bihamdihi, subhaana Rabbi al atheem! I said to my husband, " I don't care if I have 100 miscarriages if it gets me to my beautiful rank with Allah, azza wa jal." So when miscarriage number 4 rolled around, it was not only gladly taken, it was welcomed! And, as we learned that my thyroid was out of sync and was a serious factor in the miscarriages, I got that sorted out wa al hamdu l'Illah. So, here we are, just two months after the last miscarriage, and I'm knocked up again. I thought to myself that perhaps this would be okay now my thyroid is under control. However, I also know that at my age only 50% or so of my eggs are "good" so it's only half/half anyway, even in ideal conditions. Well, this was not the ideal and I'm bleeding it out as I type. I did start calculating to see how many years it would take for Allah to send me 100, LOL, but it may not come to that.

It certainly is a blessing though, because as with miscarriage #4, this too was going to prove a serious hindrance to me preparing to move and establishing ourselves in Madinah. Allah is the Most Perfect Planner, the Dearest of Deliverers of our Needs. I'm free of the physical drawbacks of pregnancy and I gain a reward for every cramp, every ache, and for bearing His Gift with gratefulness.

He even sent more Mercy to me. We were having guests today, so from early morning I was preparing food for the lunch and trying to organize and clean the house. Subhaan Allah, thunderstorms abounded! The guests called to say they would not come in such severe weather. Of course, the food was cooked and I continued to organize anyway, but I am having some real pain and I may not have put forth my usual bubbly self. As this would be the first time to meet a new sister, Allah has postponed it to a time when, bi ithn Allah, I will be back to myself. So, I'm off to check the laundry and clear another space, insha'Allah. Shukr Allah wa al hamdu l'Illah for miscarriage #5.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Shabaan Quest

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

Subhaan Allah wa bihamdihi, subhaana Rabbi al atheem! Without even making a plan, Shabaan has started as a month of improvements and I feel so blessed. Masha'Allah, hubby said he planned to do the fast of Dawud for this month, which is fasting on alternate days. I caught that ball and ran with it, LOL. He planned to start on Saturday, I started the Thursday before. Things have come up to disrupt his schedule, but for me...all praise is for Allah - The Facilitator, The One Who Makes Things Possible - I am rolling along. We got the children on the bandwagon and they all fasted last Monday masha'Allah. The 3 year old made it until 5 minutes or so after fajr prayer and then announced urgently that she was "fursty." However, the rest made it through the heat and humidity to an 8:30 p.m. maghrib masha'Allah. Now my 5 year old wants to do Mondays and Thursdays, so we fasted together on Thursday. Masha'Allah, how beautiful it is to get up and eat suhoor with your child/children and then all pray together. There is serious congestion in the bathroom for toothbrushing, but aside from that, it's all good.

Now, I am a person who has struggled with the loss of ibadah since marrying and having children. After 36 years of living alone, and establishing my own routines and ibadah schedule since being blessed with the knowledge of Islam, I always feel at a loss. I know that I reap rewards for caring for my family, but the spirit isn't nourished well. The closer I am to Allah - the more time I have to commune through prayer, Quran, and learning - the better control I have over myself and the better I can model and apply Islam to the various aspects of our life. Anyone with chilren knows, it's all about modeling and making connections with everyday occurences that makes Islam a reality for them. So, when I take the children to the masjid for their Quran class, I sit with the Arabic and the English Qurans and I read. I managed to read a juz on Wednesday, then most of another juz on Thursday masha'Allah. I'm setting a goal of 4 juz per week bi ithn Allah. Then, if that wasn't wonderful enough, I opened up a big bag of Islamic books sitting in our basement that have been left with us, and discovered a treasure chest, wa al hamdu l'Illah! I thought it was all the same books we have, but when I looked I found The Book of Knowledge - Volume 1, An Explanation of the Aspects of the Days of Ignorance, 40 Hadith Regarding the Madhab of the Salaf, The Obligation of Acting Upon the Sunnah of the Messenger, Protection Against the Plots of Shaytaan (I will explain the critical importance of this one in another post, insha'Allah), and more. So, I had a read-fest!

This morning, I got up for suhoor and prayed 11 rakaat for tahajjud and I was searching for an online Quran program so I could continue reading, I saw my link for 80 percent words
and KNEW. It all clicked and I went on there and did the first three units, masha'Allah. It is something I know will be beneficial and I can do it easily in a short period of time per day insha'Allah. Bi ithn Allah, throughout this month I hope to finish the program and review until I have those words clear in my mind. I feel energized, full of momentum, and focused. I've decided that the most important thing I can do, rather than plot and plan out schedules that life won't let me stick to, is seize the moment. So in my limited Latin, I say to you all: Carpe Diem!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

My Dream of Sunnah Living

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaikum.

I have a rant coming's even drafted out roughly on a notepad page. But in the meantime, before I start venting my amazement at the the irony of our situation, I will share something more lovely, insha'Allah. This is my dream of Sunnah living.

Clothing: A wardrobe of simple dresses, tunics and skirts (waistwraps) made of completely natural fibers. I'm talking about cotton, linen, silk, wool, and leather. A beautiful linen abaya - the large overcloak that is not sewn closed. These days it usually comes in polyester dolled up with the name "Japanese Fursan." I will simply put my abaya over me, just as they did in the time of the Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, and hold it to cover my face when necessary - no sewn and tied niqab - just my abaya doing the job. Soft, simple, all leather sewn khuffs and slip on shoes.

My personal hygiene: Miswak toothbrush, honey and olive oil for my skin treat. Ground sidr, lote, or laurel leaves for cleansing. My shampoo made of neem leaf infusion, organic castille soap and a little olive oil. Perhaps some coconut oil and other herbs from the land. Alum stone for deodorant. Water - the best perfume. Antimony - the best make-up. Wudhoo from a clay bowl or pitcher of water, ghusl with the same quantity of water the Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam used.

My home: A cob house, made of clay, sand, and straw...with a beautiful earthen, oiled floor. Kitchen stocked with stainless steel and cast iron cookware. Not a piece of plastic in sight. Large pottery or steel platters for the food and a cob oven to bake bread. Sitting on a mat on the floor to eat...with our fingers. Sleeping on palm leaf fiber mats (stuffed a little to make them more comfortable) with leather neck roll pillows. No electricity outlets except in the kitchen and one for the computer. Solar power - off the grid, no reliance on other than Allah's sunshine for our energy insha'Allah.

My surroundings: Land...5, 10, 20, 40, 100 acres. Whatever Allah Wills. A well for water, composting toilets, garden and orchard to feed us fruits and vegetables. A cow and a goat for milk, chickens for eggs, sheep for wool and occasional meat. Homemade cheeses, yogurt, pickles, sundried fruits and veggies.

My day: Waking in the morning in perfect time to pray tahajjud because I made dua' the night before and Allah woke me. Praying, reading Qur'an, waiting for the rooster crow... to signal fajr. Gathering together in the central masjid for the prayer...sharing some 'ilm. Simple breakfast of fruits and yogurt with others. Out to the land, a family/community affair - to gather eggs, milk, pick vegetables and fruits for the day's provision. Lessons, Qur'an, crafting, love between me and my husband, children, sisters... Communal prayers and meals, d.i.y. projects, sharing of skills and talents.

My dreams: A couple of small cob cottages - for a Muslim retreat. A form of income, and a beautiful Islamic respite for couples. Summer camps...activities, learning, growing, in a halal and positive environment. Empowerment projects, to teach other Muslims how to live self-sufficiently, according to the Sunnah. Islamic cottage industry - Sunnah Threads...selling homemade Islamic clothes. All projects that our children can grow into and earn a living from, never having to rely on non-Muslims for their income or their sustenance. Never having to compromise their Islam for a dollar to buy food or a roof over their head.

Well, I could go on and on...and although it seems like a fairy tale, much of it has been in the plans and research for the past 5+ years, masha'Allah. Our lifestyle has been heading that way...making our own bread, cheese, yogurt, etc. from scratch. Growing our food in the backyard to see how much we could grow, and how well. Replacing unnatural items with natural, and going back to the Sunnah in our eating, sleeping, and personal products. We even saw 40 acres in New Mexico for $18,000 last night...may Allah send us all that and more next year when we are, bi ithn Allah, ready to buy land - ameen. We have the cob building book, we have the details on the livestock and growing season. We even made lists of the things we plan to grow insha'Allah. It may be a dream, but with Allah and pure intentions, all things can become realities...and we may be able to leave a legacy for generations to come.

Oh Allah, You have inspired us to this...Guide us and make it a reality - ameen.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What Ever Happened to Ridaa ( رضاء) ?

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah.

How many discussions, investigations, and disagreements have you come across regarding gelatin, whether the meat in non-Muslim countries is halal, if it's okay to eat McDonalds because it would cause unreasonable hardship if these foods weren't allowed? How about the one regarding taking a riba' mortgage to own a house, because that is the only way one can own a house in the west? Lately I read a question and answer on regarding "adult toys." That isn't the exact wording used, but I refuse to go there and I'm sure you know what I mean. Well, audhu b'Illahi! The poor shaikh they asked, who was I believe a Professor at Umm Al Qura' University in Mecca Al Mukarramah, was at a loss. He gave daleel saying that it is outside of what was legislated in the Shariah.


I am tired of reading long treatises about how the gelatin from a pig has changed its form to such a state that it is pure as the driven snow and we can eat it happily because it is now halal. Give me a hadith that the Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, ate gelatin - any gelatin - and maybe I'll start looking at the issue. Give me a hadith that he ate pig gelatin and said it had changed its form into something halal and tayyibaat to eat, and I'll accept it gladly. But last time I checked, there wasn't a single hadith to that effect.

Of course, this will lead me right back to why we say we follow the Sunnah but don't apply that to our food or other aspects of our practical living. A comment was made, regarding the adult toys, that the students should not have asked the question because if it isn't specifically stated as forbidden then it is considered okay. The questions may lead to a ruling to make it haram and restrict them. Ahhhh...the warning of asking too many questions. So, here it comes...Mai's extremism at its best.

To even have adult toys, one would need to in some way look at something haram. How did adult toys come into origination? Where are they found? So, do you go online to one of those "places" to buy them? What do you look at on those sites? So, you go into an adult shop to buy them...don't even talk to me about any kind of permissibility to go there. I find it very hard to believe that the buyer of adult toys sets the computer to no images and goes shopping sight unseen for the items. So tell me, why are students of knowledge asking about something which, by its very origin, is haram? We aren't talking about little experiments between a husband and wife, which is nobody's business anyway and won't see the light of day to constitute a question. We are talking about things that require open discussion about bedroom intimacy - something forbidden in Islam. my opinion, gelatin, adult toys, fast food, mortgages, etc. are all examples of issues that have arisen out of a lack of ridaa (contentment with what Allah has given us). What on earth is the big deal about buying halal or finding an alternative? What is wrong with having normal marital relations? What is the problem with buying a $6,000 house at an auction and fixing it up, rather than a $150,000 house that requires a mortgage. Better yet, go the authentic Sunnah way and build yourself cob that's back to the Salaf!

Every time I hear words to the effect, "I don't want this food, I feel like something else," I remember the verse in Baqarah where Bani Israel were complaining about being tired of the food Allah was sending down to them. They were told to go down to any town or city and find what they were seeking. They were in a state of shame. No ridaa. Our greed, our quest to have everything we want when we want it without any restrictions = no ridaa.

May we be filled with contentment for everything Allah has given us. May we bask in the pleasures of simple things and may they fill us with contentment because they draw us closer to Rasool Allah, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam.

Monday, July 20, 2009

I'm Tired of all These Stories About Love

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaikum.

Subhaan Allah, day in day out I see things from Muslims about love. Falling in love, being in love, losing the love, blah de blah blah blah. Okay, two sentences and you are already thinking, "she seems lika a miserable, loveless woman!" LOL! Well, when are we going to stop chasing the fairy tale movie stuff? When are we going to get serious and differentiate between like and lust and love? When are we going to just want with every ounce of our being for another person to be pleasing to Allah in everything they do? I feel that there is too much lacking when it comes to the love for Allah, love for the good and the best end for others.

Allah Knows, I've been through all kinds of things in my friendships and marriage, and it surely would not stand today if it was based on the fairytale, like, lust, type of love that many base their relationships on. It is through pushing through, plodding on, praying for the best for your partner that gets you to a better place and through the tough times. It is knowing that staying with this person is solely for the ultimate success of Allah's pleasure and His ultimate reward insha'Allah.

I don't care if you love my bubbly personality or not. I don't care if you think I'm attractive, intelligent, or any other nice things. I care that you want me to get to Jennah and be as close to Allah and the Siraat Al Mustaqeem as possible on the way. I care that you support me in every way you can to keep me on the Siraat and help me please Allah more and more. That's love to me, and that's what I any way I can. We don't have to shove it down each other's throats. We can find subtle ways of drawing each other closer to the Path. We can use different approaches, and even just make dua' without any other intervention or action. But therein, in my extreme thinking, is the real love that will stand through everything and always keep our hearts and intentions pure, bi ithn Allah.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Parenting Problems....

Bism'Illah wa as salaamu alaikum.

I stuffed a few things into my Q&A with our imam recently, and one of them was regarding parenting. What does one do when the husband believes that it is okay for the children to watch movies or other programs with music, uncovered women, un-Islamic behavior, etc. Oh, it doesn't need to be every day, it may be just for certain situations or as a "treat."

I'm beginning to HATE that word "treat."

Well, the imam said, "It is a big mistake to let your children watch things with music or any other haram elements." Phew! I felt like I wasn't going crazy, wasn't really so terribly extreme in my thoughts that if it contains haram elements then it is simply sending a message to your children that it's okay to compromise on Allah's Rules and Prohibitions just a little, now and then. It's like saying, "hey, it's haram but that's okay just this time...and just so you can learn in a fun way...and just so I can give you a "treat" because I can't come up with something totally halal to do with you, or don't want to go to that effort.

Of course, that then led to the question, "What do we, as spouses, do about it?" He said, talk to your husband (wife) about it. Well, I know there are some for whom that did not work. Then he said, turn down the volume so they don't hear the music. Hmmm...fine if it is only small bits of song, but if the music is in the background then that doesn't work and they end up listening to it anyway. Then he said, the most important thing is to find alternatives. Yes, find Islamically acceptable, good, positive alternatives so that what you take away is replaced with something else.

Alhamdul'Illah, we have provided many alternatives for our children from online sources that have proved both beneficial and halal and other physical activities. However, the problem itself is rooted in a culture that expects and requires "entertainment" and cannot do without it. Sitting on one's backside staring at a screen is so much easier than getting oneself in gear and going out to do something, or playing a board game. All is entertainment, but they vary in degrees of benefit and halal aspects. I'm sick, sick, sick of shaytaan.

Living Sunnah-Style!

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaikum.

Subhaan Allah wa bihamdihi! Yesterday our friends cleared out most of the furniture in our house. Oh what joy to see empty spaces where the sofas, bedroom furniture, and dining table were! This was a major step back to Sunnah living in our home; one I have been waiting for excitedly, masha'Allah.

So, I laid out an unused cotton curtain and placed our pasta with vegetables and cheese sauce on one big platter, and we sat around and ate from one plate masha'Allah. Not only that, I showed the children what two ways the Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, was reported to sit to eat and they chose which of those ways they wanted to try. I reinforced about eating from the food nearest and my 3-year-old, who is sometimes lazy about eating dinner, ate beautifully masha'Allah. We reaped the blessings of having a communal plate, eating together, emulating the Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa salaam, and having enough left over that I don't have to make lunch today! Does it get much better than that, I ask?

When bedtime was drawing near, I set up places for the girls on the floor - the two youngest in their play tent with pillows and the older on her sleeping bag. I put down camping pads on our wooden floor, popped a blanket and a thin quilt over them, and that was the bed for hubby and I. A cotton sheet over the top and we were good to snooze! Oh, there is more to be done to make it a healthier and more authentic experience: natural fiber and filling pillows, natural mat underneath, but at least we are finally on the floor wa al hamdu l'Illah!

These are baby steps, and there is so much more to do, but I'm grateful to be here right now...a little bit closer to the goal. When I think of the possessions, the ostentation, the excess of our lives, these small changes seem like victories against shaytaan and his materialistic plots. Please, ya Rabbi Allah, I beg You to bring us to a better way of living and reality - ameen!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Yummy Halal Toxic Treats

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaikum.

Here's a thought that has come to me. People have become acculturated into thinking that food that is harmful for your health, or junk, is a treat. How on earth is it a treat to eat something bad for you? Can one really be so controlled by their desires that they cannot find something healthy and wholesome that is equally or even more delicious?

What I bake is whole grain, naturally sweetened, halal, and healthy maashaa Allah.... and people love it! So why on earth would they think a packaged, toxic little cake is a treat? Wouldn't a treat be a pound of organic strawberries that cost $5, or some smoked salmon to go on the fresh baked bread, or some freshly homemade organic ice cream? Wouldn't it be a treat to make your own organic, whole wheat ginger snaps, biscotti, bagels, or raspberry shortbread? All of them would be delicious, fresh, buttery, melt in your mouth good ...and all GOOD, insha'Allah!

Give it some thought, and insha'Allah the next time you want to have a treat, get something that really is a treat...delicious and good for you!

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Most Worshipped and Revered in the Western World

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaikum.

Subhaan Allah! I have witnessed a devotion, a worship, a remembrance so great that I am speechless at its power. This god has had great love from its people, and over the years their reverence of it has increased to such levels as no other god has received. This god is worshiped by the rich, the poor, and those in between. It is worshiped by the intelligent and the ignorant. It is worshiped by every race and ethnicity. 

It started out as remembrance during free time; the worship was mainly outside of working hours or on weekends. Then it became more common to worship during working hours, through speaker and public announcement systems. People became so intent on increasing their worship that they bought personal CD players, most recently upgraded to i-pods. Now the god is worshiped during almost every waking moment: on the street, in the car, shopping, working - an unceasing devotion. 

Grand ceremonies are held to honor those who show reverance in the the most beautiful or original ways. Financial gain is abundant for the leaders in this religion, for that's what it is - a religion, a way of life, something people can no longer live without. The masses want to fill their every moment, waking and sleeping, with it. It gives pleasure, satisfaction, evokes passions and emotions, and allows everyone to be an individual. Day in, day out, I consider what the world would be like if this focus and devotion was to Allah, Al Khaaliq, but Allah is not the focal point at all...

The god is music; shaytaan has had amazing success with this angle. 

Audhu b'Illahi min as-shaytaan ir-rajeem!  .

Welcome to Me!

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaikum.

Alhamdu l'Illah! A space of my own for my thoughts, my ideas, my extremism to be voiced. This is big, and with it comes a big responsibility, for in expressing my thoughts and inner struggles, I must not cross the line. What I mean, and you can consider this a clear disclaimer, is that when I write about things I wrestle with in my mind and heart, I am not issuing any edicts - no fatwas-a-la-Mai. I'm simply stating how I think and how I perceive things.

I'm ALL about giving it ALL over to Allah and playing it safe by getting back to the lifestyle, etiquette, practices, and manners of the Prophet Muhammad, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam. I'm not the sister who says, "Hey, just one children's movie with some music can't hurt." I'm the sister who says, "If it contains haram, then it there is no benefit to outweigh that." Yes, I'm tough...and it gets hard at times because those around me aren't on the same page in real life. But hey...that's what my bloggie blog is all about: Mai to the extreme!

Fi amaan Illah.