Friday, December 31, 2010

When we stand before Allah...

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

What is it that makes some people think themselves better than others? What is it that makes the younger or more physically attractive people think they are more beautiful or appealing? What is it that makes the sister all in black in a head abaya with gloves and niqaab or the brother with the thobe up to his shins and beard down to his chest think they are more pious than others who dress differently? Why does the one who gets perfect scores on her Arabic tests or Memorization and Recitation classes feel better than those who struggle? Kibr. Prideful arrogance.

Sometimes, if I know that a person isn't obeying Allah, I feel that I am being more obedient and am earning Allah's pleasure while they are not. Sometimes I speculate that I am thinner, look younger, have more knowledge in certain areas, or more discipline about certain things. These are facts, and as long as I acknowledge them as just facts without thinking I'm better, then inshaa'Allah they will not ruin me.

An outlook that is very helpful when I want to avoid the "I'm better in that" syndrome, is to always look at others and think how much better they are in other things. I admire their way of conducting themselves, their patience and beautiful approach to their children and husband, their memorization of Quran, their knowledge of Islam, and their beautiful attributes. I think of my inferiority rather than my superiority. There is always the knowledge that others have qualities that I don't and, most surely, some of those qualities are more loved by Allah.

Our beloved Prophet, salla Alalhu alayhi wa sallam, married  Sawdah (radhi Allahu anhaa) after the death of Khadijah. We know he was suffering great grief over Khadijah's death. "According to a report by a Companion, she was very dark in complexion, slow and fat. In spite of her being slow and fat, she was amiable and humorous, dispelling the Prophet's worries with her light joking, which was an essential and effective timely remedy." (quote from the book Women around the Messenger

When we see people who are very disobedient to Allah, or appear to have weak knowledge and implementation of their Islam, we may think they are in a sad state. However, shaytaan is always whispering and we often don't know the reality of them and their journey through life. What we think, may not be the true case. Never forget the story of Musa (alayhi salaam) and Khidr in Surat al Kahf. Khidr did things that Musa deemed heinous crimes, but they were actually commands from Allah and were righteous acts.

Most Muslims have been through different processes, including many mistakes and different developmental stages. Who is to say that the person who isn't praying today, won't be the one who wakes up and sniffs the Quran tomorrow and becomes the most pious of us? Who is to say that the person who wears a jilbab and shayla/hijab won't have a stellar account with Allah because she never hurt another human being by hand or tongue? Who is to say that the out-of-shape sister or brother, whose face shows all the signs of their hard life, isn't one of Al-Muqarrabeen (those nearest to Allah in the Aakihrah) because they have always put others before themselves?

When we stand before Allah, it is our hearts and our deeds that will count, not whether we were the best looking, wore the most pious clothes, had great intelligence, had the most Islamic information, or memorized the most Quran. There is no benefit in a fit body, beautiful face, immaculate presentation, or extensive knowledge unless they are TOTALLY for the sake of Allah and seeking His Pleasure. May Allah protect us from all forms of kibr (pride and arrogance), riyaa (showing off), and  guide us to His Pleasure in our every action - ameen.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I Don't Want to Live that Long...

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

I was reading a post about the Day of Judgment today and I was reminded of something that has been lurking in the back of my mind for some time.  The signs of the Day of Judgment include some truly horrific things. Aside from the coming of the Dajjaal, one of the things that disturbs me the most is that we are told that the Kaaba will be demolished and the Qur'an will be removed from the hearts and also the Masaahif (printed copies of the Qur'an). No Qibla and no Book of Guidance. Audhu B'Illahi!

I cannot tell you how much I have begged Allah to increase me in knowledge and open up the Quran to me and fill my heart with it. Over this past two months, Allah - azza wa jaal - has answered my dua' mashaa'Allah. Now I'm moving through my Qur'an memorization with understanding, wa al hamdul'Illahi Rabb il aal ameen! Recitation with understanding has opened up something totally amazing in me. I cannot contain my smile when I read of Allah's Mercy and Rewards, my fear of His punishment. Mashaa'Allah, I am totally in love with the words and the message Allah has sent down to us!

So, to have this finally open up, to be given that gift and to think that I could wake up one morning and have nothing, not a single remembrance of it, is like torture. I don't wish to ever live to that day. I pray that I die with the Qur'an in my heart and on my lips...that I die with a smile on my face from the promise and perfection of those indescribable words. I don't want my children to face that either...or their children, or their children. It is enough to make one wish for an early death, for surely it is a test beyond imagination and a horrific prospect for future generations. May we all die upon tawheed and may Allah protect all His faithful servants on that dreaded day - ameen.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Polygyny - Why Sacrifice?

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

My thoughts are developing, based on my own experiences and through reading and responding to others facing polygyny. Something came to my mind that is very important - the sacrifice that women and the children of polgyny have to make, and why.

When a man enters into polygyny, even when he is in the search process, the existing wife has to give up some of her time with him. He may spend hours searching, then "communicating," then preparing, and then dividing up the time between the existing family and the new wife. The children also have to give up some time, some involvement. There is no comparison between the time invested in the children in one household, and the time invested between two, especially as there will be more children to divide time between. He will also be dividing his money between two households. He took your pie and cut it in half, or thirds, or even quarters, giving the other half to another woman/women.

Many beautiful sisters out there have the right mindset and intentions and accept polygyny, desiring their husbands happiness, to successfully implement a Sunnah, and the pleasure of Allah. However, there will be times when they will stare at it and see a stark reality that they are sacrificing a lot for the sake of their husband and his desires. At times it will appear, with the help of shaytaan, that the husband is getting a really good deal because he gets what he wants but the existing wife is left with loss, pain, insecurity, and shaytaan happily and firmly attached to her ear.

Often we wives sacrifice to safeguard the husband's Islam, to prevent him from haraam, because he is driven to pursue his desires or cannot be satisfied with what he has.  When I look at it from a certain light, it seems that we women who sacrifice so much to support their husbands in polygyny, out of love, are much stronger. After all, we don't turn their lives upside down chasing after our desires and finding solutions to our weaknesses. We sacrifice because we look at the greater goal of Jennah; we see it as yet another test. For the polygyny chasing men, they get caught up with the dunya, by way of their desires and urges for the zeena of this life - women, children, wealth, etc. - and they must satisfy much of that desire to be able to get past it and focus on Jennah.

So where does that leave us wives? I believe that polgyny is sent to very special women; those that Allah wants to test strongly in order to increase their emaan, taqwa, tawakkal, and ibadah and purify their hearts. I believe that it is sent as a means to raise their ranks in Jennah and as an opportunity to be amongst the muqarraboon, the forerunners closest to Allah, in the aakhirah. We know that Allah tests those He loves, and for such a great test, there must be great love.

Jâbir b. `Abd Allah al-Ansârî relates that he heard Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said three days before his death: "None of you should ever die except while assuming the best about Allah." [Sahîh Muslim (5125)]
Ibn al-Qayyim says: There can be no doubt that assuming the best about Allah only comes as a result of righteous conduct. It is the righteous person who assumes the best about his Lord, since he knows that Allah will reward him for his good deeds and will never break His promise.
I want to be with the muqarraboon, and I begged Allah many years ago to make me an excellent person, so I take the tests and know with certainty that Allah is sending them to make me even more beloved to Him. No question, the tests are very difficult at times, but greatly blessed!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Think you're smart?

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

Check out these scenarios.

- Muslim Child is in a bad mood and decides to join the prayer late, stand out of the line, fidget excessively, delay moving after the Imam, huff and puff in annoyance, etc.  Muslim Child is reprimanded after the prayer and responds with a slightly smug smile that implies, "Oh good, I succeeded in annoying you!"

- Muslim Wife is annoyed with husband over something he has done that she does not like. Muslim Wife decides she will punish husband by withholding his marital rights or even by teasing him first and then withholding his rights...leaving him hanging and frustrated. Muslim Wife smiles smugly, thinking she well and truly got him back.

- Muslim Sister finds herself in a plural marriage and is overcome by jealousy. At a gathering where she knows the co-wife will be, Muslim Sister wears something that exposes her best physical features, in detail. She brings great food, sports a love-bite, and talks in a condescending way to co-wife to show who's best and that there is no competition.

Muslim Child, Muslim Wife, and Muslim Sister think they are smart. They think they've gotten one over on their "opponent" and won, in some way. Muslim Child, Muslim Wife, and Muslim Sister are sadly mistaken.

Muslim Child did not pray to Allah. Muslim Child stood and went through the motions of prayer all the while focusing on disrupting the prayer and khushoo of those around them.

The Prophet (pbuh) said,
"The first of one's works that he shall be called to account for on the Day of Judgment is the Prayer. If he performed it well, he will be prosperous. Otherwise, he will be loser.” At-Tirmidhi

'Ubadah Ibn As-Aumit related, the Prophet (pbuh) said,
"Whoever makes ablution properly and performs properly the integrals of Prayer: bowing, prostration and recitation therein, the Prayer says, "May Allah preserve you as you preserve me.” Then the Prayer is risen up skyward enveloped with light. When approaching the heaven 's gates, it will find it opened. So it keeps on rising up until it reaches Allah. There, it intercedes for the one who performed it. But if he does not perform (its integral) properly: bowing, prostration or recitation therein, the Prayer says, "May Allah neglect you as you neglected me..” Then, the Prayer is risen up skyward enveloped with darkness. Approaching the gates of heaven, it will find it closed. Then, it will be folded as an old cloth and kicked back to the doer's face.” Al-Haythami

So tell me, Muslim Child, who did you hurt in the end?

As for Muslim Wife, she has not fulfilled her covenant with Allah; she hasn't guarded her husband's chastity.

It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: 
“The Messenger of Allaah (peace  and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘When a man calls his wife to his bed and she refuses, and he went to sleep angry with her, the angels will curse her until morning.’” Al-Bukhari, 3065; Muslim, 1436

Ibn ' Abbas also related that the Prophet (pbuh) said,
"There are three people whom Allah cursed: Whoever leads a group of people in Prayer who dislike him, a woman whose husband spends the night angry with her and whoever heard the call to Prayer but he does not answer.” At-Tirmidhi

So tell me Muslim Wife, who will really suffer from your spiteful actions?

And finally for Muslim Sister, her jealousy is her worse enemy.

The Prophet (pbuh) said,
"Once a man was walking along in a new set of clothes, with a swagger to his step, pleased with himself, Allah caused the earth to swallow him and he will keep sinking until the Last Day.”Al-Bukhari

"Tyrants and the arrogant will be raised on the last Day as grain strewn under feet that the people will walk upon.”Ahmad and At-Tirmidhi
Arrogance, as early Muslims said, was the first fault against Allah.

Allah, the Almighty, says,
{And behold, we said to the angels: bow down to Adam: and they bowed down: not so Iblis: he refused and was haughty: he was of those who reject Faith} (AI-Baqarah: 34)
Therefore, Faith is of no avail if arrogance exists, as is Iblis.

The Messenger (pbuh) said, "Arrogance is belittling to admit the truth and considering people inferior.” Muslim

"No one with the slightest particle of arrogance in his heart will enter Paradise.” Al-Bukhari

Do you have the upper hand now, Muslim Sister?

This is a reminder and warning to every Muslim Child, Muslim Wife, and Muslim Sister that may reside in us:

Don't think you're smart. 

I've let shaytaan fool me in the past, but by Allah's Grace and Mercy, I realized that I would have to answer for my actions. Allah is not going to ask you about what others did, He will ask you about what YOU did. Don't fool yourself into thinking that doing something out of spite is smart, because the saying, "What goes around comes around." is very true in Islam. Every soul will be recompensed as per its intention and there is no fooling Allah, subhaana wa taala.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Reasons to Welcome Polygyny

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh

Women are flowers: all different with varying smells, colors, shapes, and properties. 
All are beautiful; all are uniquely special. 
Men like bouquets.

What would you prefer? A peaceful life with a pleasant, loving husband who is satisfied and happy, or a life with a man who is dissatisfied and looking at women surreptitiously with yearning? Even worse, perhaps taking out his resentment and frustrations on you and the family?

Seven years ago, when my husband told me he wanted to marry because he couldn't lower his gaze, I was disgusted. I didn't want to know that he was such a weak person and I felt it a personal hurt, because I had just had our first baby. He explained that he wasn't trying to hurt me; that it was all about him. I went through a whole self-critique, acknowledging my faults and my strengths and in the end I acknowledged that it really was his own issue. This past year, I finally wrote a post about not taking it personally, which puts that into perspective.

After that, I picked up on his glances in the rearview mirror at uncovered women we passed on the street. They didn't have anything different from me, aside from the fact that their bodies were on display for all to see and mine was under an abaya. I knew, without a doubt that it doesn't matter if you are a supermodel, most men will never be satisfied. Allah told us in Suran Ali Imran:

(Beautified for men is the love of things they covet; women, children, vaulted hoards of gold...) [3:14].  

How true Allah's words are! So, my viewpoint became one of "let him covet."

When I thought about it more, I realized that there were three things that are much more important to me than the life adjustments that polygyny entails.

One: I would rather he do something halal than bring haram into our home and lives. That would just be a spiral to hell, literally. I won't invite shaytaan into my home, and to keep him away I have to strive to get rid of all fitna. If that means encouraging him to take another wife so he will not be inclined to commit zina, then so be it.That is what I call Real Love.

Two: I cannot stand living with someone who is unhappy, resentful, and unsatisfied. That equates to moodiness, nit-picking, and fitna-filled atmospheres that thrill shaytaan. That has a negative effect on our whole family and the peace in our home. If taking on another wife, household, set of bills, and marital communications would make him a pleasure to be with on a daily basis, then "Wife number 2, come on down!" Of course, this also means praying for a good one, so we won't face fitnah. It also means praying for it to happen in a halal way, pleasing to Allah, so the union will be blessed and there won't be a drawn out waiting period or the fitna and haraam elements of searching.

Three: If I support my husband in getting what he wants in a halal way, while trusting in Allah and aiming to please him, I will be a better wife and he will appreciate me more.

In a nutshell, I want him to go ahead and "fulfill his dream" if it is necessary for the children and I to continue to have a peaceful, happy life pleasing to Allah, not shaytaan.

As for the confidence aspect, although it does tend to make us feel like there is something wrong with us, I know that it isn't me. I have confidence in myself, in regards to obeying my Rabb and in my person. In that regard, I wrote the post "Where does our confidence come from?" My husband does not define my worth, nor is he able to make me happy. Only Allah (subhaana wa taala) and I, through my actions, can do those things. Do I feel worthless or insignificant in his life? No. We have gone through this past 8 years, accomplishing a great deal and growing closer to Allah and each other through our struggles. We have established something that won't simply disappear if, or when, he gets a different model.

As for worrying about whether the subsequent wife will be a source of goodness or fitnah, truly if I am obedient to my Rabb and put all my trust in Him, I will never worry about such things. If a prospect comes up and I'm informed about it, I say alhamdul'Illah. I know that if it is good for us, Allah will facilitate it and if it isn't, He won't. Currently, we are monogamous again. We have come a long way, and much has changed due to our past experiences and spiritual growth, Qadr Allah. But if polygyny comes along again, it will simply be part of Allah's Perfect Plan. Something to draw us closer to Him, and to trust in Him totally about.

No Backbiting Disclaimer: I talked with my husband prior to writing this post. He knows what I am disclosing about him, has confirmed it is fine, and is not offended.  He also reads my blog ; D

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Polygyny: Love for who?

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

The most popular hadith quoted, when the topic of polygyny comes up, seems to be this:
Anas relates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]
It is usually a reminder to the women, the existing wife/wives and the new wife so they will be kind and generous with each other...and with the sharing of their husband.  I am a big proponent of this concept, mashaa'Allah, so please don't misunderstand what I write next.

The hadith is for everyone, men and women alike. So, what happened to the brothers? 

Consider the man with a plate full of food and a man beside him, hungry with no food. Is reaching out and taking another plate of food, leaving the man beside him without, loving for his brother what he loves for himself? What, then, of wives? When there are so many brothers looking for good wives, don't the discerning ones who are looking for second, third, or fourth wives ever think that if the woman meets their criteria for marriage, that she probably meets the criteria of a single brother? Do they consider that in recommending those prospective wives to unmarried brothers, they are removing a stress and discomfort from their brother? They have the chance to facilitate for their brother what they already have, the other half of their deen and a guarding of their private parts. Wouldn't that reap a huge reward? Isn't that putting the hadith into real practice?

In addition, for those men with daughters of marriageable age, are they eager for them to enter polygyny? Do they believe it is a better and more pleasant life than monogamy? No question, there are wonderful advantages to being in polgyny. However, most would agree that polygyny is a test and shaytaan's favorite workplace - not easy and often painful. Is marrying a daughter into that (rather than to another suitable, unmarried man) loving the best for her? Perhaps, sometimes. More often though, the answer will be no.

Before I am attacked with a load of scenarios which don't fit this mold, let me say that I know it isn't a one-size-fits-all viewpoint. I am not making a blanket statement, just reminding of a certain aspect. There are many situations where taking an additional wife is the option warranted by Allah; it is a beautiful Sunnah. Certainly, some women are better suited to be in polygynous marriages or don't find single men in their age group or community to marry. However, in polygyny the loving for your brother what you love for yourself needs to be considered and implemented by both sisters and brothers. 

May Allah be the Governing Force behind all our intentions and actions - ameen.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

What's Ahead of You?

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

Lately I've been mentioning to the children the importance of every action. I have been telling them that it is extremely relevant what we are doing when we die. I also make it clear to them that life isn't something to take for granted. So often, when we go to Masjid an Nabawi, we have the honor of praying janazah for someone, and at least 50% of the time, we are praying for a child. These are wonderful moments to make it real to them that children, just like them, die.  So, I remind them to think about what they are doing and if it is beneficial or pleasing to Allah. I ask them to consider in their activities, deeds, and words, whether they are pleasing Allah or shaytaan.

Subhaan Allah. I do this for my children, but it is something that we adults desperately need to think about every waking moment. Are we realistic and objective enough about what we do and say? Do we ask those critical questions: "Who am I pleasing - Allah or shaytaan?" and "Will this help me get to Jennah?" Better to ask ourselves now, before it is too late.

"Oh you who believe! Fear Allah and keep your duty to Him. And let every person look to what he has sent forth for the morrow, and fear Allah. Verily, Allah is all aware of what you do." Al-Hashr, ayah 18
Some peoples' perspective is that they have their whole life ahead of them; others are always conscious that death is near. Both are true, but the latter is the absolute reality.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

My therapist

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

(This is dedicated to Umm Tareq, with great love - fee sabeel Allah.)

I used to find it amusing to hear that people went to therapists, mainly because it was almost a fashionable epidemic. Just about everyone had a therapist, whether a psychoanalyst, a psychiatrist, a focus group, or a special social worker/mentor. So many problems, so many experts. So, I thought to myself, "Mai, you've got things bothering you. Why don't you get yourself a therapist?" That's when he subcutaneous part of my psyche spoke up and said, "You have a therapist; always had one, always will." Well, my psyche surely spoke the truth.

All day long, whatever is going on, I have a running commentary going on with my therapist. I have divulged my innermost thoughts, fears, struggles, and problems to Him. I don't even have to say the words out loud, although I sometimes do, because He hears me anyway. He Knows. I never feel like there is a huge stress sitting inside me ready to explode because I have nobody to talk to. I have the perfect therapist to talk to. He gives me perfect solutions, perfect guidance, and perfect soothing comfort.  My Creator, my Sustainer, my Nurturer, my Developer, my Guide, my Solace, and my Perfect Love - Allah, subhaana wa taala - my 24/7 therapist.

Allah says: “Call upon Me. I will answer you.” [Sûrah Ghâfir: 60]

Trudging or Skipping?

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

Truly the life of this world (dunya) is a test and a trial for the believer. 

Hmm. Sounds like something that we should be trudging through, struggling to make our way with so many obstacles.

Consider the scenario where you are going somewhere you don't like...perhaps the dentist, to clean up a dirty mess, to meet someone you don't enjoy the company of, or to take a test you aren't prepared for.  You may move slowly, or find it hard to be cheerful and sincerely optimistic. When people have difficulties and hardships, they tend to trudge through life miserably, unsmiling.

Now consider when you are looking forward to something...perhaps going to the park, seeing a good friend, or attending a fun gathering. You probably walk quickly, with spring in your step, and find it easy to be cheerful and optimistic.  When people have pleasant things to look forward to, they tend to sail through life happily, smiling.
`Abdullah ibn `Umar, radhiallahu `anhu, said: "The life of this world is Paradise for a disbeliever and a prison for a believer. When a believer dies and departs from this world, he feels himself like a prisoner who was released to go freely on the spacious earth."
Well, aren't you looking forward to seeing Allah, subhaana wa Taala? Aren't you filled with awe at His never ending Mercy and Blessings? Aren't you filled with hope that He will be pleased with you and you will be elevated to those high places in Jennah where His Countenance will be seen?

On the authority of Anas (may Allah be pleased with him), who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) say: Allah the Almighty said:
O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great at it.
(at-Tirmidhi & also by Ahmad ibn Hanbal)
What bigger hope?

On the authority of Abu Sa'id al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him), who said that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said:
Allah will say to the inhabitant of Paradise: O inhabitants of Paradise! They will say: O our Lord, we present ourselves and are at Your pleasure, and goodness rests in Your hands. Then He will say: Are you contented? And they will say: And how should we not be contented, O Lord, when You have given to us that which You have given to no one else of Your creation? Then He will say: Would not like Me to give you something better than that? And they will say: O Lord and what thing is better than that? And He will say: I shall cause My favor to descend upon you and thereafter shall never be displeased with you.
(al-Bukhari, Muslim, and at-Tirmidhi)
 What greater anticipation?

On the authority of Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him), who said that the Prophet (PBUH) said: Allah the Almighty said: I am as My servant thinks I am (or 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 an arm's length, I draw near to him a fathom's length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.
(Bukhari, Muslim, at-Tirmidhi, and Ibn-Majah).

I'm not just walking with a spring in my step, I'm skipping, jumping, and running to Allah, subhaana wa taala! Come on, skip with me!

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Parental Disclaimer

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

I've had another epiphany, mashaa'Allah! It came to me when I considered how possible it is that at least one of our children will get married and leave home and not uphold the things that we have taught them. Now, of course, it is no longer our responsibility once they are grown and gone. However, I seriously dislike the idea of a son- or daughter-in-law, and perhaps even the family-in-law, thinking that we never bothered to raise our children well. My idea is to draw up a document, a Parental Disclaimer, itemizing all the major things that we have taught our children and that they know about. In this way, if they don't adhere to those things outside of our home, at least we have educated them prior to them taking a different path.

My disclaimer will look something like this:

We, father of the child and mother of the child, do hereby testify that we have taught our child named: xxxxx, the following things.
  • Personal Hygiene: 
  • Brushing teeth morning, night, and before fajr prayer. 
  • Cutting nails and making ghusl on Friday. 
  • Bathing regularly and putting dirty clothes in the laundry. 
  • How to blow their nose and never to pick their nose. 
  • How to make istinja and wash hands after going to the bathroom. 
  • How to use soap and water to get clean. 
  • How to make wudhu. 
  • How to conserve water. 
  • How to use a brush and comb.

Life Skills:

  • How to operate a washing machine successfully. 
  • How to clean a bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, living room. 
  • How to iron clothes.
  • Washing and drying dishes.
  • Basic cooking, including baking cookies and bread. 
  • Eating in in moderation. 
  • Eating healthily. They KNOW about bad fats, pesticides, steroids, growth hormone, and artificial everything to avoid. This is an organically raised child.
  • They can tell the time and they can operate an alarm clock.
  • They have been taught math and should not be believed if they say they don't know how to find the area of a room or figure out the change due to them in a supermarket.
  • We have taught them how to pray, when to pray, sunnah prayers, prostration of forgetfulness, and what to do if joining a prayer that has already started. 
  • We have educated them on fiqh regarding tahara, prayer, ramadan, hajj, zakat, and done everything possible to ensure they understand tawheed clearly. 
  • We have modeled and corrected them on manners and social dealings. They know when they should say please, thank you, excuse me, and they don't leave the table without asking to be excused.
  • We have provided them with extensive information on heaven and hell and the behavior and paths that lead to each destination. 
  • They been woken up for fajr every day since they turned 10 years old.
  • They have read the whole Quran, know the etiquettes of recitation, and the rules of tajweed.
  • They have lived a life based on emulating the Sunnah in their daily life.
We pray that they will follow the path to Jennah, but if they start acting up or misbehaving, then - for the record - we did our job. 

Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list because I haven't had time to think of all the details. Also, it will grow as the children get older, but it's probably a good idea to start jotting down things from now. Then it will be comprehensive by the time they are ready to fly from the nest, inshaa'Allah.

Please feel free to use this idea if you think it will work for you. Although I cannot stop a smile when I think of a Parental Disclaimer, hubby is warming up to the idea and I'm all for it, LOL!

My Mothering Dua'

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

I am the mother of two girls, 4 and 7 years old, and the stepmother of a 10 year old girl and a 12 year old boy, wa al hamdu l'Illah ala kully haal! In the beginning, this mothering thing was very new to me. Being an only child, I was totally unprepared for the in-house fighting, backbiting, sneakiness, and all that other dreadful normal stuff that children do. It has been an enlightening and testing time, to say the very least!

I have always made dua' to be a better mother, to guide them the best way, and to be a good model for them. That, however, just didn't seem to be enough. I have made connections, shown examples, and have that whole "mother-e.s.p." that knows what's going on. I was resident spy, noticing irregularities that signal teeth weren't brushed with toothpaste, showers were skipped, wudhu wasn't made, etc. It was becoming a real task, because I'm also cooking, homeschooling, studying, etc.

BUT...I discovered something this past year, which became invaluable in my job as Muslimah mother. When I went for Umrah, I had nothing short of Divine inspiration. I asked Allah to show my children His Haqq. I told Him that we, as parents, could only talk about it and give examples, but HE could make it real and evident to them. I asked that He leave no stone unturned in responding to their deeds and showing them right from wrong, cause and effect. I asked that He show them, clear as day, that what we teach them is the truth and let it be reinforced in all aspects of their life. I also asked that He make evident to us the reality of our children, the good and bad. In this way, we can deal with them and guide them accordingly.

Subhaan Allah! It has been nothing short of incredible how much has come about since then, because when you go to the One Who can help, He does. Qadr Allah, there is nothing that the children do in sneakiness or error, trying to hide it or thinking that they are getting away with it, that Allah hasn’t exposed, mashaa'Allah. There has been clear cause and effect in all that they do, mashaa'Allah! All the things that we have taught and inforced they hear from all manner of other sources now - from school, from friends, in books, from friend's parents, and even from people they don't know.

I feel so much more comfortable knowing that I have turned those things that are beyond my abilities to our Creator. I feel much clearer about what’s going on and find I can manage them and their upbringing far more effectively and easily now. It has even changed my reactions and responses to them. When it is obvious that someone is telling an untruth and it isn't being admitted, I simply say, "Never mind." To which they all look at me in wonderment. I then follow it up with, "Allah Knows the truth and He is The Fair. He is also the One to punish, and He hates liars." When they see that I'm putting the responsibility back on them for their actions, to answer to Allah for, it changes the whole picture.

This may be the same thing all you good mothers have been making dua' for from day one, but for me it is nothing short of a revelation. If this is news to even one other mother out there, I highly recommend you make this dua’. It is an amazing thing to behold when it is answered, wa al hamdu l’Illahi Rabb il aal ameen!

Laughter and Tears: An Introspection

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

Some of you know me personally. You've met me, sat with me, eaten with me, and probably laughed with me. Some of you have no idea what I am like, except for what I write here. However, most of you probably know that I have a sense of humor and a positive outlook. I have even been described as "chipper" and "bubbly" by my dear sisters. All thanks and praise to Allah, Who is the sole creator of any good in me!   

Just a few moments ago, while listening to children laugh over foolish matters, I remembered this saying.  
Our beloved Prophet Muhammad said, "O followers of Muhammad! By Allah, if you knew what I know, you would weep much and laugh little." [Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 8, #627]

Then, me being me, I immediately thought of how I'm always smiling, cheerful, and trying to infuse that into others. There is much laughter in my life. Uh oh! Is that a problem? Am I ignoring the Prophet's (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) words and warning? I had to consider the reason for my laughter and cheer. I had, for a moment, to remind myself of what I tell sisters who meet me and comment on those "sunny" qualities. I tell them this:

"Every day I wake up and give praise and thanks to Allah. I am overwhelmed by His Generosity and Mercy, by His Blessings and His Love. How can I not smile when every single thing He sends me is out of Love for me? How can I not be bubbling with joy and happiness? I have the most perfect and complete Love I could ever imagine!"

So, if my smiles and laughter are all to acknowledge and give thanks for Allah's countless Blessings, can they be bad or a waste of time? No. They are ibadah. They are shukr. They are sadaqah. They are daw'ah. 

On the flip side, I cry a lot. I am a veritable leaky tap! Friends see this, too. We may be sitting anywhere and the mention of Allah's Mercy, a reward for a simple word or task, or some hadith by our beloved Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, and I'm dabbing at my eyes. Don't even get me started about how Allah chose me to be one of His servants in Islam, or I'll be bawling for a week!

In the middle of an Arabic class, where Hajj was being discussed, I burst into tears over the huge reward for the accepted Hajj and my desperation to go. While attending the Sunday Islamic classes with my children two years ago in the States, I cried in nearly every lesson over the things the teacher was telling the children about the account of good deeds and bad, the aakhirah, etc. Fortunately, by now, my children are used to my "religious tears." They still ask why I am crying, but once they hear it is because of something related to our deen, they brush it off as normal. 

I cry, desperately, over my mistakes and my shortcomings. I cry, uncontrollably at times, over fear of losing my way or being touched by the Hellfire. At times I wonder if death is approaching for me soon, lol, with such strong emotions over all things from Allah and against Him. However, I have great hope in my heart of Allah, subhaana wa taala's, shade for my tears and my love, when I remember this hadith:

"Seven will be granted the shade of Allâh on a day when there will be no shade but His. A just ruler, a youth who has been brought up worshipping Allâh, a man whose heart is attached to the mosque, two people who love each other for the sake of Allâh and meet and part upon that, a man who is allurred by a woman of high standing and beauty and he says, "I fear Allâh", one who gives charity in secret so that his left hand does not know what his right hand has given, and a man whose eyes fill up with tears when he remembers Allâh in private" (Bukhârî, Muslim and others)

So, I say to you all smile and be happy, because Allah Loves you! Cry in awe and desperation, because you are weak and humble. Laugh and cry for all the right reasons, so that it will all be on your account as ibadah and increase in your emaan and taqwa, bi ithn Illah taala.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Is your blog a true friend?

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

As usual, something happened today that triggered this post, but the seed has been growing in my mind for a while now. I read many different blogs from all kinds of different people. Some are about Islam, some by people just struggling through this dunya, some about polygany, and all manner of other topics.

What I have found in my "readels" (a combination of reading and travels) is that there are some blogs that are good friends to the blogger and there are some that are truly their enemy. When what we write is sincere and pleasing to Allah, regardless of what it is about, then that writing is our friend. It will stand up on Yawn Al-Qiyamah and testify for us. It will be written on our right-hand side - amongst our good deeds. Now this doesn't have to be writing directly about Islam; it may be on health, environment, safety, or any number of other things that will benefit others and in some way encourage them to good. After all, taking care of our bodies and the earth are all part of the amanah (trust) Allah has bestowed upon us.  Aaah! When I read jewels from some of the beloved bloggers I follow, I literally pray for their elevation in Jennah al Firdaus.

So what are those blogs that are our enemies? The ones where we air our stinking thinking. The ones where we expose our sins or the sins of others. The ones where we backbite...because anonymity doesn't negate the fact that you are speaking ill of another. The ones where things that should be private and precious are put out in public. The ones where emotions get the better of us and we say things that we later regret or have to delete. These are the posts and blogs that thrill shaytaan and are a written - public for all to see - deficit on our account with Allah, azza wa jaal. I wrote something about sisters who struggle to hold their tongues, that really applies to everyone in the whole wide world as well as blogs and every other form of media. While it is always difficult to do, that hadith saying that if you cannot say something nice, you must not speak, is extremely important and relevant.

Not one of us knows when Allah will end our time on this earth. Do we want to leave with a public enemy sitting on the Internet, broadcasting to the world? Please, check your blog and make sure that it is your friend!

I try to check my posts regularly, but if you find something that you think might be pleasing shaytaan in my blog, please let me know. That is how you can show you love me ; D

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Eid Al Adha 1431 Hijri (2010)

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh!

Hubby's gone for Hajj and I'm here with the four little darlings for Eid Al Adha al mubarak. Usually I end up not doing anything near what I wanted on Eid, but this was a bit different al hamdul'Illah. I am so happy that my husband is doing Hajj, that my whole outlook is different during his time away. May his, and all the hujjaj's ibadah be accepted - ameen!

On 8 Dhul Hijjah I had the children each pick a simple recipe and bake their own cookies. This was a great exercise in math and lifeskills, without them realizing it. Then, each child had their own jar or bucket of cookies for Eid. That meant that Yawm al Arafat wasn't spent preparing treats for Eid and we could focus on more important things. This morning, I got the children up, took some dough out of the fridge and made a pizza. Each child had their own bag with their container of cookies and some water. I took the pizza, some water, a knife, and napkins.

Because we had to walk (me being a woman [in Saudi], I can't just hop in our minivan and zip on down to Masjid an Nabawi), I came up with a different game plan. We left just before the fajr adhaan and walked to Masjid Yahwiya to pray fajr. Then, after that little stop, where the littlest members of the family could rest their toes a while, we continued on to Masjid An Nabawi.

Mashaa'Allah, we made it in good time, settled ourselves just outside the courtyard wall, and prayed in comfort. Then we met up with a couple of sisters I go to school with and had a picnic in the courtyard of Masjid an Nabawi. Ahhh! The sun rose, the minarets looked pristine reaching up to Allah's perfect heavens, and the umbrellas shaded us. We shared the pizza and all the children got to share their cookies with each other and our guests. Then we drank a little Zamzam and walked back home.

Now I'm making a big brunch (because that is the best way out of having to make lunch as well) and they have the rest of the day to enjoy the new books that they were given for Eid and race remote control cars that their daddy bought them. I promised them I'd make their favorite dinner tonight and I'm planning to play a board game with them later. So the children are happy and Eid is really EID! Alhamdu l'Illahi Rabbil aal ameen!

It isn't about what Allah gives you, it's about what you make of it.

Taqabbal Allah mina wa minkum!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Good vs. Bad

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh!

I took a little time to "pay a (cyber) visit" to a dear friend who I'd been neglecting and, sure enough, Allah sent me great benefit and inspiration.

I struggle with my imperfections. I don't mean things like whether I vacuumed this week or if I'm a pound heavier or lighter. I mean things that I know go on my left-hand side account, like my lack of self control when it comes to my emotions and behavior upon seeing things that shaytaan loves. I am going through a serious "process" about all this and desperately seeking Allah's Help and Guidance.

However, what I got from my visit was a reminder of how the good deed outweighs the bad deed. Instead of focusing on what I always do wrong, I took a moment to think of what is good in me. I reaffirmed that there WAS a whole lot of good in me, through the Mercy and Generosity of Allah, subhaana wa taala. If I focus on that good and let it flourish, it will not only outweigh the bad, but eventually it will, inshaa'Allah, strangle it. Not only that, if I focus on the good in others rather than react to the bad, inshaa'Allah that will be able to flourish as well.

Okay, okay...I know this is basic psychology (positive reinforcement) and hardly something new. However, I had lost sight of it for myself. How on earth can I practice it on others, if I cannot even help myself? So, I say to you all:

Look for the good, every ounce of it. 
Embrace the good, love it, and nurture it so that it will grow and flourish. 

Allah says, in Surah Al Rahman : "Is there any reward for good but good?" No, there isn't. It just grows and grows. Subhaan Allah! "Then which of the favors of your Lord will you deny?"

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Make That Call

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

How many of us have at least one person that we haven't talked to in a long while. Someone that perhaps we have been out of touch with for so long that we feel embarrassed or shy to even call by now?

How many of us have received a call from a friend or acquaintance after a long time and been really pleased that they remembered us? That even though a long time had passed, they still got in touch... apologies and all. If you ever had it happen to you, then you know that it's better to make the call than leave it any longer. It's called strengthening the ties of brotherhood/sisterhood. It's what our Ummah is all about.

Abu Dharr said: My friend (the Prophet) ordered me to observe seven things. He ordered me to love the poor and be near them; he ordered me to consider my inferior and not consider my superior; he ordered me to be kind to the kinsman and to preserve and keep intact the bond of kinship; he ordered me not to ask anyone for anything; he ordered me to speak the truth even when it is bitter; he ordered me not to fear for Allah's sake reproach anyone may cast on me; and he ordered me to repeat often, "There is no might and no power except in God," for these words are a part of the treasure under the throne. (Ahmad)

I had a friend who I hadn't heard from in a couple of weeks. I gave her a call to see what was happening with her and to apologise for not calling earlier. Turns out she didn't even know what day Eid was on and that there was the Deal of the Year coming up on Yawm Al Arafat to wipe out two years of sins. Subhaan Allah! Then she told me that she'd been depressed and I told her to scream, shout and kick Shaytaan out. The next day she called to say that Allah sent the call to her just when she needed it and that she was back on track. Alhamdul'Illahi Rabbil al-ameen! You just never know how, or who, your call might benefit.

We all get busy in our lives. But when someone makes the time for us, remembers us in all the rush, we feel special and loved. The ties of kinship are precious. Make the time, even if only for 5 minutes. Make your list of neglected friends and give them a call.

You can never go wrong in doing good. Make your list of people who there is some bad feeling between you, then build a bridge and get over it.

"The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. Repel (the evil) with one which is better, then verily! he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend." [Quran 41:34]

Make the call, pay the visit. Believers are to each other like bricks in a wall, one supporting the other and each relying on each other for support. Without all the bricks, the wall becomes weak and falls down. Strengthen the walls, bring our Ummah back together one brick at a time... one call at a time.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Why I Travel

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

I read this, by chance, and was instantly brought to tears. (Yes, I know I'm just a like a leaky tap when it comes to Islam!) Anyway, I have never seen this from it's source, but this is apparently some poetry from  Imām ash-Shāfi‘ī, Raḥimahullāh:

Leave your home in search of the heights and travel

Because there are five benefits of traveling:

To relieve your despair,

To seek to enrich your livelihood,

To seek knowledge and good character,

And to accompany righteous companions.”

Subhaan Allah, there are no coincidences. I travel for every one of those reasons.

I travel to relieve my despair: When shaytaan has infiltrated some part of my life and I need my time alone with my Rabb, I walk. I travel around and around, thinking and talking with Allah until I arrive at my destination - a blessed place in mind and spirit.

I travel to seek livelihood: I have flown to Madinah al Munawarah with my husband and family seeking halal livelihood in a blessed and Islamic environment.

I travel to seek knowledge and good character: I travel every weekday to a Quran school to learn Arabic, Quran, Islamic Studies, and to study with teachers and among other sisters who all encourage each other to good character. I travel on weekends to spend time with valued friends who I can rely on to seek Allah's pleasure.

I travel to accompany righteous companions: This is the most broad area of my travel because I have physically traveled to accompany righteous companions, and every day of my life I travel with many beautiful sisters, kindred spirits, along the path of this dunya towards our goal of Jennah. When one gets tired, another gives her a pep talk. When one gets sidetracked, another re-focuses her. When one struggles, another supports. It is the travel that reaps rewards and benefits without ever having to leave my home. While there are many downfalls of technology and this Internet Revolution, most certainly this is one of the most beautiful things about it. Sisterhood, brotherhood, the joining and uniting of believers in their struggles as they travel along life's path.

I am overwhelmed by the blessing of so many righteous companions on seeking to remain firmly on the Siraat al Mustaqeem (The Straight Path). "Then which of the favors of your Lord will you deny?"

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Mean and Monstrous Mama Mai!

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

Friday was a day of speaking my mind clearly, without "volume," and with perfect frankness. Who to? My daughters. This is something I haven't read about in the mothering books, blogs, and magazines but I think it is worth sharing.

My 7 year old is now praying all the prayers with her 10 year old sister and I, mashaa'Allah. This is a beautiful and blessed thing, wa al hamdu l'Illah. However, as soon as we finish praying she starts to talk to me, ask questions, or just chat about anything that comes to her mind. I, on the other hand, wish to say all my dua', adhkaar, and suwar after my prayer. Several times I have asked, or told, her not to talk to me or distract me until I'm finished, but she seems to forget that on a daily basis. So, last Friday when she proceeded to repeatedly ask me some relatively unimportant question, I stayed silent until I had finished my after prayer routine and then I spoke to her (and the other girls, as they were in the room as well). Here's what Mean and Monstrous Mama Mai said:

"Do you expect me to leave my communication with Allah to answer your non-urgent question or to chat with you? I have told you many times about this, but now I must make things clear. My Rabb and getting to Jennah are the most important things in my life. If this is my last prayer and adhkaar, then I need it to count for me, not against me. This time I spend with my Rabb may be the thing that tips my scales to the right hand side. I will not answer you or give you priority over Allah or my chances for Jennah. You are not more important than those things. If, for example, Allah should command me not to speak to you again, I would obey that command because obedience to Allah, subhaana wa taala,  is first."

Now, that is not verbatim because I don't have that photographic memory, but it is most certainly what I said. Some of you may be thinking by now, "Mai is a really harsh and mean mother!" However, I have realized that everything we do is an example and a lesson for our children. If my children don't see me put Allah first, they will not think it important. If they don't understand that NOTHING is more important than worshiping Allah and pleasing Him, then they will be lost. So, I'm not only taking care of my needs, but I'm walking the walk and talking the talk so they can see priorities in action.

I imagine that many of you nicer and sweeter mothers get the message across in a much more loving and indirect way, but that's what I did and no-one seems the worse for it, wa al hamdu l'Illah! Truly every ounce of good is from Allah, and every good intention is rewarded.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Love your Lemons!

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh!

Through Allah's Grace and Inspiration, I wrote this to a dear sister of mine recently and I felt it was worth sharing with others.

There is no doubt that we are all exactly where we are meant to be. It's up to us to accept Allah's Qadar gladly, or not. Keep on striving and never give up the dua'. If we follow Allah's Guidance and seek His pleasure, He will never fail his faithful servants. He always gives us exactly what we need, when we need it. 
This is an analogy...but apply it to your life situations and you will surely find a great deal of appreciation for His blessings.

Lemons are a beautiful fruit. Some may think them sour, but they have a unique taste, smell, and many uses. Make lemonade from every single lemon...and use the peels for deodorizing, cleaning stainless steel, in a pot of tea, a little of the zest in muffins or a cake, then dry the skins that are left to make potpourri.
Get the FULL BENEFIT from everything you are presented in you can fully appreciate Allah's gifts.


BismIllah wa as salaamu alaykum!

I think it is time I put in an appearance on this blog, especially as some people think I've dropped off the face of the earth. Since Ramadan, life has been very busy for my family and me. This is the year that I finally get something I've been yearning for - Arabic and Quran classes. Yes, my girls and I are all attending Dar al Haafidhaat here in Madinah al Munawarrah and we are growing like little sprouts there, mashaa'Allah.

My youngest daughter is in KG2, my other daughters are in the girl's class, which covers Quran, Tajweed, Islamic Studies, and Arabic. I am in mustawa thani (level 2 Madina books) and learn Quran, Tajweed, Islamic Studies, Arabic Language, Arabic Reading Comprehension, Arabic Composition, and Arabic Dictation. Wheee! I cannot express my joy aside from saying, "LA! LA! LA!"

Of course, I am also homeschooling the girls when we get back home around noon time and trying to stuff my own homework in somewhere between cooking dinner and going to bed. I'm a busy bunny, and my ideas are just lying unwritten because of all these developments. Never mind, though, as I'm having a break for Dhul Hijjah and Hajj, so there should be more time for sharing bi ithn Illah.

Some of the topics on my list of things to write about are:

- Sharing some of the Islamic websites that I have found excellent for my children.
- Sharing some thoughts on what has made a big impression on me lately.
- Adding to My Favorite Mind Food page.
- Consistency, constancy, and common sense in parenting.
- The long-term machinations and sharp angles that shaytaan catches us with.
- Some musings about polygany.

A thing that crossed my mind lately is that we must be aware and seek refuge with Allah from all the harm and evil in the things we do/read/are exposed to, and to beg Him for the good and benefit in them. This is important! For example., my daughter loves to read but I realized that although she derives benefit from reading, there can also be harm if shaytaan gets his way. I wrote out a little dua' for her to say before she starts reading a book, to safeguard her, inshaa'Allah. From this, the idea has blossomed and I see that we cannot be careful enough in protecting ourselves, because shaytaan never sleeps. Audhu b'Illahi min ashaytaan ir-rajeem!

Much love to you all!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Just One of My Fears...

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah.

Many things are chugging through, flitting about in, wandering in and out of, and seriously on my mind. One of them, which is extremely important and is a great fear of mine is the danger of enjoying having people agree with me, praising, or showing appreciation for what I do, write, or say to them.

When I write, I put my ideas out into cyberspace for the purpose of self-development, to communicate with friends, and in case it might benefit anyone who happens to read them. I have asked myself if I would write if nobody ever commented or responded in any way to it. The answer is yes. I write because I believe there is benefit in it for me. As I grow, struggle, and strive I keep an account of at least some of what my mind and heart are going through. Perhaps, years from now, my children will read all this and have a better idea of who their mother really is, what she was about, and how much she put into the whole family's growth and development.

However, when I get a comment that someone agrees with me or says thanks for posting something, I often stand at the stove (don't ask me why this place) and worry to myself that I might have a trace of "praise junkie" in me. Audhu b'Illahi min ash-shaytaan ir-rajeem! That is so frightening. Also, I fear the sin of kibr (feeling proud of myself) because of something I wrote that is agreed with or appreciated. Ugh! I know that the perfect words are the Quran, that the most beneficial words for our life practice are the ahadith, and that the light shed on the Quran and Sunnah come from the true scholars. They are my focus for reading, learning, and attainment.  So what is the point of writing anything?

Okay, I've brought myself to this point. I understand that we have all those beautiful resources, and those are what I read, turn to, and strive to base my life on. However, I am striving, struggling, and going through all kinds of developmental stages which other mere humans may well relate to. I'm not "THERE" yet, and never will be...but perhaps sharing my journey will encourage or at least give me company along the path...ya Rabb, inshaa'Allah ALWAYS the siraat al mustaqeem - ameen.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A "Subhaan Allah" Moment

Bism Illah, wa assalaamu alaykum.

Every now and then a beautiful lightbulb goes off in my head after an event, so here I am to share it. My 7 year old daughter was asking during yesterday evening's iftar why it is that when she reads an ordinary book, she understands it better when she reads to herself but with the Quran, she understands it better when she reads it out loud. I took note of it and responded that I didn't know, but it is an interesting question.

Of course, as I'm a pondering person, I was considering her question when suddenly, "PING!" I had it! The Quran is better understood read aloud, because it is meant to be recited! Not only is it meant to be recited, we gain the most reward from reciting rather than simply reading to ourselves. We gain the reward of 10 hasanaat per letter. We gain the reward from our tongues, our lips,our throat, our lungs, our jaw, and our mind all working together to recite Allah's perfect words. They can testify for us , inshaa'Allah, on Yawm ad-Deen. Allah is, yet again, showering his blessings down on us by making our Book of guidance easiest to understand in the form that gains the best reward. Oh, how our Lord fills our hearts with his generosity!

Of course, I told my daughter after fajr this morning and now she has another beautiful revelation this Ramadan. All praise be to Allah, the Perfect Provider for all needs!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Joyful Reminder

As salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh to all my dear sisters!

These are things I ponder on as I go about my day.

There are NO BATHROOMS TO CLEAN in Jennah
There are NO DISHES TO WASH in Jennah
There is no LAUNDRY or IRONING to do in Jennah
There are NO "What on earth shall I make for dinner?" moments in Jennah
There are NO BAD HAIR DAYS in Jennah
There is NO NEED FOR MAKEUP in Jennah
We will NEVER HAVE TO PEE, POOP, or PUKE in Jennah

Those thoughts make me go about my daily chores GLADLY, and even make me drag myself up to go the extra mile to do special things for my family. It seems such a small and simple price to pay for such an UNBELIEVABLE reward.

I love you, sisters. Keep on trucking, bi ithn Allah!

Reach Out Today!

BismIlah wa as salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh!

Do something today. Reach out to somebody. Offer them something of yourself: your smile, your support, your prayer rug, a tasty treat. Share a mind-blowing Hadith Qudsi. Share a touching story of how Allah has blessed you. Share your favorite surah of Quran and why you love it. Invite someone to pray with you. Move the rock or stick in the path, or toy in the hallway LOL, so others can pass . Hold the door open for someone. Kiss your husband on his cheek as you walk past his chair. Bake your family's favorite cookies. Every one of these things is a sadaqah... and they don't even cost a penny.

"Verily, those who give Sadaqat, men and women, and lend to Allah a goodly loan, it shall be increased manifold and theirs shall be an honorable good reward." [Quran 57:18]

You give in charity and Allah, swt, rewards you.

"Whoever works righteousness, whether male or female, while he (or she) is a true believer, verily, to him We will give a good life (in this world) with respect, and We shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do." [Quran 16:97]

You may also be rewarded by a smile of gratitude or a warm thank you from the person or people you reach out to, but that is just an added bonus. The rewards start coming from the very minute you start thinking about what you can do to reach out. They just keep flowing as you prepare, make your intention, and act. How can we pass up such an opportunity for a flow of rewards that lead to a big gush when we do the good deed?

"... but His plan is to test you in what He has given you; so strive as in a race in good deeds..." [Quran 5:48]

What are these rewards? The good deeds that are recorded by the Angel on your right side. "Then, as for him who will be given his Record in his right hand, He surely will receive an easy reckoning" [Quran 84:7-8]

It's all about Jennah... everything else is insignificant.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Emulating the Sunnah in our Food

As salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh!

Okay, I'm a die hard extremist. A fundamentalist to the roots. But here it is, my "issue of the day" for all those who care to chew on it. (Pardon the pun, lol!)

Have you ever considered what the Prophet ﷺ and the Sahabah ate? Have you ever considered that emulating the life of the Prophet ﷺ should include food? For me, it is all part and parcel of my Islam, so here is what I have to put on the table. (Oh, I'm just too punny today!)

Did bleached sugar exist during the time of the Prophet ﷺ?
Did bleached rice exist during the time of the Prophet ﷺ?
Did bleached or white flour exist during the time of the Prophet ﷺ?
Come to think of it, did bleach exist during the time of the Prophet ﷺ?
Did they have freezers and cupboards full of canned goods?
Did they have out of season vegetables irradiated and flown across the world so that that they could enjoy blueberries in December?
Did they have hydrogenation plants at the time of the Prophet ﷺ to process our oil to within a molecule of plastic?
What about chemical pesticides? Chemical preservatives? Artificial coloring? Artificial flavoring? Artificial anything?

If you all are in the "know", and answered "no", then perhaps you are getting the drift... that foods during the time of the Prophet ﷺ were what we now term "organic". They were whole, unprocessed, natural.... and nutrient rich.

Why didn't issues about whether mono and di-glycerides being halal come up then? Because all that never existed! And where did all the disease of modern day come from... processed foods, chemicals, preservatives, pesticides.

What is the first thing the doctor tells you if you are diabetic? Eat whole grains, whole wheat bread and pasta, brown rice, cut out the refined sugars. Masha'Allah, the doctor is advising you to follow the Sunnah!

So to all who say they are striving to emulate the life and times of the Prophet ﷺ and the Sahabah, please think about the food.They were the Original Islamic Green Movement... self-sufficient, organic, natural, whole grain, with seasonal and locally grown foods. I see many of us eating highly processed foods. Does the Sunnah end where the stomach, and sadly our lust for food, begins?

Want to make some lifestyle changes to bring it closer to the Sunnah? Don't know where to start? Just ask! We can work on it together, insha'Allah.

Why are you alive?

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum.

Someone posed the question, "Why are you alive and what keeps you alive?" This is what I answered. As it was da'awah, I used the term God to keep the asker's mind open.

"I am alive because God willed me to be. There is no existence without Him. What keeps me alive is also God's will as my life and my death are in His hands. He wills for me to continue in this life, appreciate all of His blessings, worship, and obey Him. Quite simply, God sent down His message to prophet after prophet. Each one said follow my example, and worship God. That's what we are here to do, and if we follow the example of the prophets, who all submitted to God, we will be successful in this life and the hereafter. That success is the goal."

Da'wah: Have Mercy

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh

What is mercy? Here is a definition:

a refraining from harming or punishing offenders, enemies, persons in one's power, etc.; kindness in excess of what may be expected or demanded by fairness;
forbearance and compassion - imprisonment rather than the death penalty imposed on those found guilty of capital crimes
a disposition to forgive, pity, or be kind; the power to forgive or be kind;
clemency to throw oneself on the mercy of the court; kind or compassionate treatment;
relief of suffering a fortunate thing; a thing to be grateful for; a blessing.

Where is our mercy? Where is our compassion? For many, we are soft and merciful with our children. We are merciful and forgiving with our families, even if they aren't Muslim. But are we merciful with others? Are we merciful with those who we don't like, or who we don't approve of? What about the non-Muslims that we perceive as immoral, the Muslims who we perceive as disobedient or astray? Most certainly, we are not to take them as our friends and close companions, but do we show them mercy? To show mercy, through small kindnesses and polite dealings is to show the beauty of Islamic manners and practice. If we want mercy, we need to show it.

Imam Abu Dawud, At-Tirmithi reported that the prophet (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said: "The merciful people will have mercy bestowed upon them by Allah (subhaana wa taala). Be merciful with those on earth, so He who in the heaven (Allah) will have mercy on you."

Imam Bukhari, Muslim and At-Tirmithi reported that the prophet (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said: "Allah will not have mercy on the one who does not have mercy on people."

May Allah, Al-Rahman, Al-Raheem, open our hearts to be more merciful, that He may shower His mercy on us - ameen!

Behind the Veil; I'm Loving It!

As salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

I gave a speech in college about wearing niqaab. I was the only niqaabi there, so it seemed appropriate. Here's what I said.

"It's a controvertial issue; all you can see are my eyes. Wearing the face veil is my personal choice. I’m not oppressed; I’m just doing my thing.

Islam mandates that Muslim women cover everything but their hands and faces from non-relative, marriageable men. Here is why some of us choose to cover our faces as well.

I became Muslim over 20 years ago and only decided to cover my face 5 years ago while living here in the United States. In fact, in the 6 years I’ve been living here and my previous time in England I learned that the majority of women who cover their faces are native to the country they live in so most of them here are American and most in England are British.

The three main reasons I, and women like me cover our faces are:

1) To protect ourselves.
a. Wearing the veil not only identifies us as Muslim women, it serves as a barrier between the outside world and us. Without a face to focus on, men don’t usually approach us for friendly social interaction.
b. 1 in 6 women are raped or sexually assaulted in their lifetime here in the USA. We don’t present anything that might attract or incite those men who cannot control themselves.
c. Serial killers are notorious for targeting certain types of women with specific physical attributes; we don’t allow them that knowledge.

2) To safeguard our family life.
a. We save our beauty, make-up, henna, perfume and little black dresses for our husbands. They are his exclusively, not for the eyes or enjoyment of any other man. We never hear the question, “Who are you getting all dressed up for?” or “Where are you going dressed like that?” because we only dress up for our husbands and ourselves. There is no fear that we are trying to attract other men, which builds a very trusting relationship.

3) To protect and respect the rest of society.
a. We don’t want to attract a man away from his wife, family.
b. We don’t want to present to any other woman’s partner something he might prefer over her.
c. We don’t want to cause any insecurities to other women.
d. We don’t want to entice men who are unmarried and don’t have an outlet for their desires.

Each one of us acts according to what he or she believes is good and right. Hopefully now when you see someone covered as I am, you can understand that we are happily behind the veil. "

Da'wah: Simple Explanation of Hijab/Niqab

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum.

I once used an analogy with some students about why I wear niqab. Obviously, it is not the whole reason...but it puts across the basic concept. A sister commented that this could be used for adults too, so I'm sticking it here in case it might benefit.

I said, "If you had a cheese sandwich every day and loved it, you would be happy and content every day with that sandwich and look forward to eating it. When someone comes along and offers you peanut buttter and jelly or chicken, then you start to become discontent with the cheese, wanting more variety. I cover because I don't want to put more choices in front of the eyes of men. I want them to be content and happy with what they already have."

You may change the examples; they may be toys, favorite stories, even friends, but the concept remains the same. Perhaps it will be useful for some who have a hard time coming up with an answer that people can relate to.

Da'wah: Speak English if that's your language

As salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

This is mainly for sisters living in non-Muslim countries. How many of you have had people "decide" you must be a foreigner because you wear hijab or niqab? Your Muslim, so you MUST be Iraqi, Iranian, Saudi, Pakistani, etc. right? You may even have been advised by a complete stranger to go back to your own country. I know I have!

Well, I realized a few years ago that making a point to speak in public places such as the shops, park, etc. has turned some heads and minds. I usually have my children with me, so it's not like I'm talking to myself and others think I'm bonkers, LOL. But when they hear a clearly British accent, and for some friends a clearly American accent, it throws off their stereotype. Interestingly, I have been asked plenty of questions and been responded to with genuine interest and normalcy once people heard me speak. I even make a point to speak a few words to the cashier in the shop or raise a little laugh if the opportunity arises.

What has been the result of this, you ask? I have store personnel go out of their way to say hello and ask how I am now. One cashier even started asking me more about how to get whole grains in her diet because she'd been diagnosed with diabetes! I have been asked a variety of questions about why I cover, especially my face, and other aspects of Islam...while pushing my girls on swings and even mooching in thrift shops. I'm sure that many of you have had some kind of experience where someone heard you speak, picked up that you were a "native" of your country, and responded positively.

Dispelling preconceptions is a form of da' next time you want your children to get off the supermarket displays, don't whisper, say it nice and clearly so you are heard, insha'Allah.

Da'wah: Small Kindnesses

As salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh,

I went to the supermarket one morning and the man in front of me in the check-out not only moved the dividers along so they could be reached, he moved his own groceries further up on the conveyor belt so I would have more space to place mine. I appreciated it. I thought to myself, small kindnesses go a long way to making an impression on others. They speak of compassion, caring, politeness, consideration, and a kind heart.

I standardly smile, hold doors open, offer assistance where warranted, and let cars go ahead of me in traffic. Now I think that if we have a whole surah dedicated to the subject, Surah Al Maun, and the most beautiful example of selfless generosity and kindness in our Prophet, SAW, then we should be nicer, kinder, more considerate, politer, more compassionate, more caring, with kinder hearts than anyone else. We need to set the record for small kindnesses. It is a powerful form of da'awah and nothing less than an obligation as Muslims.

Da'wah: I want that "FEEL GOOD" she has!

As salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh akhawaati,

Ever hear the expression, "she's the envy of all her friends?" Or maybe the one, "I don't know what it is, but she's found the secret to happiness?" Well, da'awah should be about you being so unbelievably happy that the people around you want to know what the secret is. Da'awah should be everyone else wanting the "feel good" feeling that you have every single day because Allah, SWT, blessed you with this perfect deen.

If you never ate cake, and you see someone eating cake and looking miserable or sickened, will you think cake is delicious and something you want to eat? Many of the non-Muslims around us don't have a clear idea of what is good about Islam. If they see us complaining, miserable, or even just so, so about it, then why will they ever think it is something great? But, masha'Allah, seeing us as joyous, full of life, radiant women whose key to happiness is obedience to Allah, SWT, through Islam is a big advertising campaign. In fact, it is the biggest da'awah you could ever give.

Do you need to spout out all kinds of information to convince others that Islam brings about perfect happiness and peace? No. Just let them see it in action, show them what it does for you so that they can start wanting all that "feel good." Then you may just find that they start searching for the key to happiness themselves insha'Allah.

What Polygany Can Be

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaykum to all my sisters.

Imagine having a huge responsibility put upon you; a job so big that you are overwhelmed at all it entails. You have to have incredible self-control, exercise wisdom and psychology in your every word, maintain a home, encourage all that pleases Allah, keep all the incidents and imperfections a secret from others, be attractive, fun, pleasing, interesting, attentive, and perhaps also raise a child or 3, or 5, or 10.

Nobody has enough time to be all she should be to her husband and also fulfill her duties to her Rabb, her children, her extended family, her sisters and neighbors. If she really thinks she is doing everything and covering all the bases, just ask her husband if there is something he would like her to do, or to do with her, if she had more time. If he is honest, there will always be something....because something always has to "give." Either she takes time away from her children to tend the home and prepare pleasing food, or she takes time from her seeking of knowledge and Quran to make herself attractive for her husband. Perhaps she doesn't do her hair the way he likes best because she took the time to listen to a sister in need. We haven't even touched on her keeping up family ties, having visits or phone calls with friends, or going for Quran, tajweed, tafseer, hadith, fiqh classes. So many things are omitted due to a lack of time. Many sisters struggle to find 5 minutes to truly pray in peace with khushoo.

Now just imagine that you have all the joys of a husband, children perhaps, and yet you also have the time to attend classes and increase your knowledge and closeness to Allah. In addition, you can maintain the ties of family and friendship on a regular basis. You have time to tend to your children and give them the attention they need. You have time to get good rest, tend to yourself and make yourself attractive and well groomed. You even have time to try out some new recipes and surprise your husband with some special meals and treats.

How can it be possible? What could happen to make all that a reality? Some high tech robot? A special speed-cleaning program? Not at all. Polygany can make it all possible.

shaytaan loves us to think of what we lose in situations. Polygany is one of his favorite playgrounds, where he can push us to think that the glass is half empty or even totally empty! Audhu b'Illahi min asshaytaan ir rajeem! However, once you think of all you have to gain from polygany, you will realise that it is actually a huge help in being successful in this dunya and the aakhirah, inshaa'Allah. It's like splitting a heavy work load between two employees instead of piling it all on one.

Polygany is a Sunnah...and everything practised and modeled by our beloved Prophet, sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is for the good and best end.

Feeling Unappreciated?

As salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh!

Many Muslims tell me that they feel unappreciated. Sisters feel unappreciated by their husbands, children, parents. Brothers feel unappreciated by their wives, children, family, employer. Children feel unappreciated by their parents. Parents feel unappreciated by their children. Well, here's a viewpoint.

To feel unappreciated, you must be seeking the appreciation, thankfulness, gratefulness of PEOPLE, and they don't express it well enough for you.

As Muslims, we need to think about WHY we do things. Are we acting to get appreciation from those around us, or are we acting to fulfill our duty to Allah, subhaana wa taala, and earn His pleasure? Truly, can we ever feel unappreciated by Allah, azza wa jal? His reward system is overwhelming! His incentives for obeying Him are irresistable!

It is reported that Al-Fudayl b. ‘Ayyâd said:

If you can be unknown, be so; it doesn’t matter if you are not known and it doesn’t matter if you are not praised. It doesn’t matter if you are blameworthy according to people if you are praiseworthy with Allâh the Mighty and Majestic.

Al-Bayhaqî, Al-Zuhd Al-Kabîr p100.

Masha'Allah, I never feel unappreciated because I perform my acts to please Allah, as part of my "Jennah account". And I always try to show appreciation to others who are fulfilling their duties to Allah because I remember the hadith that the one who doesn't thank the people, hasn't thanked Allah. It ends up being a circle; I feel appreciated and I show appreciation.

Bottom line: do everything to earn Allah's pleasure alone, including giving thanks for all the good that is done for you. Then you will find that you are shown appreciation both from Allah and the people, insha'Allah.

Make a Couple of Small Changes

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh,

For all of the married sisters, especially those who are busy with house and children day in day out, make a little effort to look nice or special for your husband.

Some of you sisters might have bun-itis or ponytail-itis. It is when you want your hair out of the way while you're going about your day and so it always ends up in a bun or ponytail. However, one day when you hear the front door opening and your hubby coming home,  quickly undo the bun, run your fingers quickly through your hair so it is free flowing, and greet him with a smile. It's amazing how such a small thing can put a little gleam in a man's eye. Not necessarily make-up or perfume, but just some hair.

If you usually wear regular clothes in the house but you know if there are certain tops and dresses that your husband has commented on that he particularly likes, wear them. Little black dresses, fancy hairstyles, and make-up aren't always workable with children around. But loose hair, flattering clothes, and a nice smile work every time inshaa Allah.

Think about what works for you and your hubby and try to incorporate those little changes so you can be more pleasing to his eye...and never underestimate the power of a big smile! These are just the smallest little things that we can do that make a difference. After all, his pleasure in us is our Jennah.

For the Sisters who Struggle to Hold their Tongues

As salaamu alaikum wa Rahma Allah wa Barakatuh.

I posted this as an answer for a sister, but thought it might benefit as an individual discussion topic for all sisters who have problems holding their tongues with their husbands and communicating positively.

Although there are many books you may read on how to deal well with your husband, there is something so very simple that in sha Allah, if followed, will save you from putting your foot in it whenever you open your mouth.

I made up a 1,2,3 rule for someone who has a similar problem. I tell them that before they respond to anything, count to 3 and run through their minds these three things:

1) The responsibility of the Muslim regarding what he says:
"Not a word does he utter but there is a watcher by him ready to record it"
[Surah Qaf (50): ayat 18]

2) and the hadith:
"Let whosoever believes in Allah and in the Last Day either speak good or be silent... "
[Al-Bukhari & Muslim]

3) Then consider how you would like to be spoken to and emulate that.

Then, if you are calm, respond. That time (3 little seconds, subhaan Allah!) often saves us from saying something we would regret. I STRONGLY suggest that you keep this little 1,2, 3 reminder on an index card or something... even post it on the fridge and other visible places. This not only acts as a reminder to you, but it shows your husband that you are seriously trying to improve and correct yourself. It will also serve to remind your husband that he needs to be kind and gentle in his speech as well, even if he finds situations frustrating at times.

May Allah make smooth the path to His pleasure in our marriages - ameen. May we blossom with Allah's Guidance and the guidance of our husbands - ameen. May our struggle for improvement be greatly rewarded and be met with success - ameen.

For those who love to shop

As salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh akhawaati,

This post does not apply to every sister, but it will apply to some. This is for those sisters who love to shop, who shop for pleasure, who shop to improve their mood, who shop for bargains that they do not need, who shop and have to justify it to their husbands, who shop and end up in trouble with their husbands, and who shop without thinking of the responsibility that comes with it. LOL, perhaps this applies to more than some...more like most! Anyway, I have a few ideas that might help calm that habit or empower you to stop altogether.

The first thing is to put things into perspective in relation to the examples we have been given of how we should live our life. During the time of the Prophet (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam), people had just what they needed, nothing more. In fact, if they were given something more than they needed, they gave it to those needier than themselves. Today, we have so much of everything that we cannot find adequate storage space for it, audhu b'Illah!

The second thing is to be clear in your mind about what is "israaf" and what is "tabzeer". Israaf is the spending on things that are lawful in Islam but exceeding moderation in quantity or quality. Tabzeer is the spending wastefully on things that are prohibited in Islam...and many things fall under this category if they are against Islamic principals...such as most movies, clothes with images on them, music, etc.

Thirdly, remember that you must answer to Allah, subhaana wa taala, for every penny you spend.

Then, consider if you NEED the item and if the item will draw you closer to Allah, subhaana wa taala.

Then consider if it will be welcomed by your husband.

Then, think what better use the money might be put to.

Why don't many of us have our own land, homes, money for hajj or umrah? We spend it on an assortment of things we don't need, that don't benefit us, and even are a sinful waste.

I speak from experience sisters. I have made taubah for years of extravagant and sinful expenditure in the past. Since getting married, I have realized the beauty of not shopping...and my husband has been very appreciative of it, masha'Allah. Nothing has ever been a problem, no matter how little money we had or how much, and many dreams are real possibilities because we take spending money as a big amanah (trust) from Allah.

Look for ways to reduce expenses and think before you shop. You may find yourself on Hajj next year from the money you save, bi ithn Allah!

May we all have the ultimate success and many small ones on the way - ameen!