Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it's off to Umrah We Go!

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum.

All thanks and praise is for Allah, the Most Generous and Merciful! We plan to head to Makkah after fajr prayer tomorrow morning, a final visit before our summer vacation inshaa'Allah. All I can think of is to beg Allah to give me more sakinah, more sabr, and turn whatever bad is in me to good...and of course Jennah al firdaus. Inshaa'Allah, that will leave me with plenty of time to pray for all of you that I love so dearly....some even sight unseen. My heart is full!

Things I've been pondering lately, and hope to post on in the near future are:

thoughts on the feeling of rancour, and
how I feel about water.

May Allah give me life, mind, and finger strength to get those ideas out - ameen.

In the meantime, you are all getting dua' time in my tawwaf, inshaa'Allah.

As salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

An Aside: Makkah

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

We have been for Umrah twice in the past few months - al hamdul'Illah. There is nothing so soothing and healing to me than sitting in the sahan basking in the healing medicine of the Kaaba air.

However, when we walk back to our hotel amongst the construction, the demolished mountains, the extravagant sky-high hotels, and fancy marble I remember, yet again, Surah al Asr..."By the time, verily mankind is in a state of loss!" We are in the holy city of Makkah, birthplace and one of the homes of our Prophet, sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, and yet we see nothing of the life we are supposed to emulate. We cannot see the homes they lived in, we cannot find the foods they ate, we cannot even buy the simple, natural fiber, clothes they wore. We are told that the Prophet's example was the best way, and yet we have no real idea of his life anymore outside of books.

Subhaan Allah! When we travel in other parts of Saudi Arabia, the Middle East, Europe, the Far East, USA, etc. we can find preserved villages from hundreds of years ago, and places that show the history. However, we go to Makkah and see nothing but polyester abayas and thobes, processed cake and candy wrappers, extravagant marble and granite floors, high rise buildings, and electronic billboards showing plans to make it into a fancy, gleaming city of modernity.

The clock tower that is being built, the tallest in the world, may be a world renowned landmark in the future. However, to me, it is a great reminder of those ever true and horrifying two ayaat from Surah al Asr..."By the time, verily mankind is in a state of loss!"

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Working My Way Backwards About Real Love

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaykum.

There are no coincidences. I continue to have these experiences where I find that Allah leads me to a certain place, in worship, thinking, levels of understanding, etc. and then, a while later, they are validated by someone or something. Here is an examples about love.

I wrote about love, about arriving at a place where I understand that love is wanting another person to please Allah in every aspect of their life and find their ultimate end in Jennah al Firdaus. I even wrote that it isn't love to leave someone to do haram, but it is love to correct and advise in any way possible to bring them to obedience in the Eyes of their Creator. I believe this is the real love, something that has real value. I can no longer view those who spend time together in friendship or a relationship, to the detriment of their obedience and ibaadah to Allah, as ones who love each other. They are following and feeding each others' selfish desires. Then I read this:

"Sufyaan ath-Thawri said, “I might meet a brother and as a result, remain heedless (of what I should be doing) for an entire month.” A friend, Sufyaan insisted, should be someone who helps one to improve as a Muslim; otherwise he is not worth keeping as a friend. Sufyaan expressed this sentiment when he sad, “If someone is not with you, then he is against you.” And Yousuf ibn Asbaat reported that he heard Sufyaan ath-Thawri say, “Whenever I spoke contrary to the desires of any man, he, regardless of who he was, would inevitably become furious with me. The people of knowledge and piety have departed.” Sufyaan once advised someone to test the character of the person he wanted to befriend. Sufyaan said, “Choose whoever you want as your companion. But when you have made your choice, make him angry, and then order someone to go and ask him what he thinks about you-without him knowing that you sent that person.” Bakr ibn Muhammad Al-’Aabid related that Sufyaan ath-Thawri once said to him, “Direct me to a man with whom I can keep company.” Sufyaan said, “You are searching for something that cannot be found.” Khalf ibn Ismaa’eel Al-Barzaanee reported that he heard Sufyaan ath-Thawri said, “Acquaint yourself with fewer people, and as a result, you will backbite less (frequently).” And Sufyaan ibn ‘Uyainah said, “I once saw ath-Thawri in my sleep and I said to him, ‘Advise me,’ and he responded, ‘Acquaint yourself with fewer people.”

So, what I have found is that those I love will accept my advice, knowing that I want what is best for them and that it is given out of love. When one truly seeks out those people of humbleness and piety, then friendship and love is possible. It inevitably does result in having deep relationships with fewer people. However, those relationships will, inshaa'Allah, be pleasing to Allah and you will form a wall of believers...bricks to each other and ever growing in strength.

Friendship...near or far

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

I'm about to embark on a series of posts all along the theme of "There are no Coincidences." They will have different titles, relating to the specific subject, but they all testify to the fact that everything is part of a Plan...a Plan so Perfect that it controls, down to the second, what happens to us, when, and why. So, because this subject has been raised lately and I have just spoken to three friends who I haven't maintained contact with consistently since moving to Madinah, I'm focusing on friendship.

I have never been a person to have many friends. However, those two or three friends I had were precious to me and they had my whole heart. I cried for their pains, I spent sleepless nights trying to find solutions to their problems, I gave of myself and tried to be a benefit to them. May Allah forgive me for all the times I fell short or failed in my duties to them - ameen.

Over the past years, particularly these past eight years since getting married and living in the USA, I made more friends. Now, I'm not easy in this. I may have acquaintances, sisters, and relatives, but friends is a very slim and serious category in my life. Why? Because hearts speak to each other and it is only those very sincere, striving sisters that I have seen clearly as kindred spirits. We don't have to change the channel on our radios to be on the same wavelength. The more I have been publicly exposed, the more kindred spirits I have found across the globe. However, I always struggle to keep up with these friends, to talk to them regularly, send e-mail, be there for them .

I am very focused on taking care of my family, of working on my development and understanding with Allah, and now, on using my time carefully and wisely to learn and grow in Arabic and Quran as well as do right by my children. That is a tall order. It requires far more than 24 hours a day. So, daily chats with friends go by the wayside and I feel guilty, like a bad and neglectful friend. Allah knows, I think of all my friends every day. When I say, "Rabbana a'tina fee dunya hasanatan wa fil aakhirati hasanatan wa qinna adhaab an-naar," in my prayer, I am saying it for all of us. They are never forgotten, never out of my heart.

Today, Allah sent me, through someone else's blog post, something that put it all together for me. No matter how bad I may feel about not being available for daily chats and whiling the time away, this really is the bottom line.

"Sufyaan ath-Thawri (may Allah have mercy on him) said that one foolishly compromised one’s religion when one kept too many friends. Having too many acquaintances diverts one from one’s duty towards one’s Lord, for a person who has many friends is always busy socializing with them and fulfilling their rights over him; so he becomes prreoccupied with people when he really should be preoccupied with his religious duties."

I became preoccupied with my husband and children, to the lessening of my religious duties. Then the influx of friends affected it too. Now I am focusing on being "a friend with priorities." When my help is needed, inshaa'Allah I will be there for all who need me.  When things are fine, we just get on with our lives and love each other without too many daily interruptions. Frankly, the more time I spend improving my relationship with Allah, the better a friend I will be...because inshaa'Allah He will answer my dua' to sit on those jeweled thrones with my beloved friends in gowns of istabraq and bangles up our arms...glowing faces, reflecting His Perfect Light - ameen.

So rather than exclude these beautiful souls from my life, I keep things within limits so that they do not become a fitnah for me, or I for them. Bi ithn Illah, taala, every one of them will understand and appreciate this and we will seek each other out for the best of reasons and with the best of rewards - ameen.