Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Addition Rule

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

Most of us know, not just adults but children as well, that it really doesn't matter what someone says if their actions contradict it. After all, if someone tells you that you are highly valued and precious to them but then takes advantage of you, doesn't fulfill their promises and commitments to you and yet bends over backwards to lavish favors and things on others, will you believe them?

I call it the addition rule: everything should add up. One plus one should equal two.

i.e.: I say something (1), + my actions back it up (1), then it is, bi ithn Illah, true (=2).

Similarly, if a brother or a sister says they are practicing Islam and fear Allah, and yet aren't praying or following Allah's guidance and examples, will you believe them? Practicing islam and taqwa (1) + no prayers or practice (-1) = 0 on the truth scale.

There is so much value in being true to others, but we cannot be true to others unless we are true to ourselves.   You may think that you can hide the truth from others, but Allah may expose what you thought would never come to light. Don't take that chance. Don't be a liar to yourself, because in turn you will be a liar to others, and worse of all, you will be a liar in the Eyes of Allah.

Dunya Check

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

We can find excellent and detailed reading material on not giving importance to material things and avoiding pride, arrogance, and showing off, mashaa'Allah. However, I think we can all benefit from a daily dunya check.

Ask yourself why you are doing whatever you do.
  • Why did you choose those particular clothes and accessories?
  • Why are you buying whatever you plan to buy?
  • Why are you giving or taking that thing?
  • Why do you have each and every one of your possessions?

Think about it honestly. What influences your decision to do the things you do? Is it for the pleasure of, and obedience to, Allah? Or is it to present yourself in the best light and get others' approval or compliments? Is it to fulfill a life necessity? Or is it to add to the collection of things you want or like? Does everything you own have a genuinely beneficial purpose? Or is there a trace of competition in you, to in some way be better than, or outdo, others?

I'll pop an extreme (LOL) example in here now. I have some jewelry, mashaa'Allah. While it is all simple in design, it has notable value, mashaa'Allah. However, I very, very, rarely wear any of it.  The only thing I do wear are earrings (so my holes don't close up), which I change from time to time so my husband sees something different, and a watch.

You might think that I wear the jewellery when I go out to gatherings, but most especially I never wear it then. Why? Because I do not want to show off. I don't want to draw attention to my possessions. I don't want some sister, who may not have such jewelry, to feel jealousy or instill a desire for such material things in her. For me, such things are pure dunya. To be honest, I don't even see any reason to adorn myself in such a way for other women; such adornment is reserved for my husband.You might wonder why I even keep the jewelry, but it is for my children to inherit on my death. Allah only knows what they may need in the future, and it is their right.

I have things of good enough quality that they are beneficial to my well-being and health, but not so good that they are extravagant, inshaa'Allah. Believe me, I've been down the extravagant and wasteful road and I pray I see the road signs and never go down that road again, wa audhu b'Illahi min as-shaytaan ir-rajeem!

I know that often we don't like to ask ourselves questions that we don't have good, or the right answers, for. However, those are exactly the questions we have to keep asking ourselves if we are to correct ourselves and improve.

People don't know your worth - only Allah does. 
Strive to increase in value every day - just for Him.

Uh-oh, Missed October...November 2011

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

Please accept my apologies for not posting in October. I had various ideas that needed to be developed, but I focused my time and efforts on other more immediate things. Even now, I only have two posts this month because that is all I could develop well enough to be worthwhile. I won't write posts to pass (waste) your time or just to have some new words up on the screen. I write when there is something worth writing, bi ithn Illah.

My Cyberfocus:

Dhul Hijjah:

We are in these most revered 10 days of Dhul Hijjah.  If you are able to perform Hajj, go. If you are able to fast, fast, If you are able to give sadaqah, give. If you are able to pray more, pray. If you are able to speak, recite Qur'an and adhkaar of Allah. If you are only able to think, remember and beg of Allah. When Allah gives you days where there is no loss, only rich benefit from any good, take them! Don't waste your time, when so much opportunity is open to you every second of these precious days. That one utterance of al hamdul'Illah may tip your scales to the right hand side or elevate you one rank in Jennah!

May Yawm al Arafat be a merciful erasing of sins for you all , and on the upcoming occasion of Eid Al Adha 1432 -

Taqabbal Allah minna wa minkum!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

To the Hurt, the Heartbroken

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

Sometimes it is very hard to see clearly when you are hurt or heartbroken by someone. To be honest, only Allah knows the complete situation from both sides and if their treatment or behaviour is wrong.However, when you are hurt, think about what will heal the hurt. Think about how things could be set right and what it would need from the person/people who hurt you. Then make dua...for them. 

Never forget that the dua' of the oppressed has no shield between the person and Allah. Ask Allah to guide  them to be better, closer to the manners and ways of the Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa salaam. Ask Allah to make clear to them what He Loves and what He Hates and guide them to all that He Loves. Ask Allah to show them the errors of their ways and correct them. Ask Allah to put love, for His Sake, between you and them. Ask Allah to increase their taqwa and emaan and make them an excellent servant of Allah. Seek protection from the fitna of them and the situation for yourself and your family. Then pray for all of those things for yourself as well and for anyone else involved. If everyone pleases Allah, then hearts will heal and success will follow.

This isn't Islam at a basic level, this is Islam at its finest. This is praying for the one(s) who hurt you to become among Allah's best and most beloved servants. Of course, it is up to Allah to guide them or not, but you get even greater than what you wish for others and if they are guided they will see the truth of their behavior and mend the relationship with you, inshaa'Allah.

If you wonder whether I have done this, I can say that I most certainly have and continue to do it, even when my heart is virtually in pieces from the behavior towards me. Al hamdul'Illah, it has never caused me loss. I have faced, and do face, many deep hurts and heartbreaks from people, but I know that the only way to make things better and heal my own heart is for them to get better. May Allah help and guide us all - ameen.

My Glass

Bism Illah wa assalaamu alaykum wa RahmatUllahi wa Barakatuh.

It is difficult to focus our minds on what we have, rather than what we don't. It is a fight, and many of us struggle to see the glass half full, instead of half empty. 

Recently I was provoked to consider that I didn't have visitors upon the birth of either of my daughters or after a surgery that had me in a real mess for a couple of weeks. I've never had anyone cook something or come to help out, etc. I believe that one or two kind souls did offer, but it certainly wasn't part of a community effort of sisterhood. What's important about that? Well, I won't write in such a negative way again, inshaa'Allah, because I never think of it like that.

I think of the fact that I had my babies, my surgery, and got through whatever other hardships that came along in exactly the way Allah Willed. I think of how Allah has blessed and guided my life so perfectly, with unrivaled Love and Attention. In fact, it has never crossed my mind that my glass was half full, either. I have every ounce of what I need, perfectly planned, designed, and provided by Allah, subhaana wa taala, for every second of my life. So no, my glass is not half empty or even half full; my glass is full - full to the BRIM! All thanks and praise to Allah, the Perfect Provider of all needs!

Survival of the Fittest

As salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

Subhaan Allah! I was thinking about being able to live off the land, being able to survive if left with nothing but nature surrounding you. It kept coming back to me that the people who are farming, building natural homes, and making everything for themselves are mainly not Muslim. They are, however, earth-conscious, far-seeing people who understand what they need to do to survive when all else may be lost. It was our tradition, it is the Sunnah, but many of us are so far away from that lifestyle now.

Allah perfected our religion - Islam - for us. Our children are the future of this beautiful religion. Are we to die out due to lack of survival skills, simply because dunya has pulled us so far away from the simple, self-sustaining life modeled in the Sunnah? In the event of necessity, will we or our children be at the mercy of non-Muslims or have to compromise our beliefs to get food and shelter? We need to learn survival skills ourselves! We should be able to slaughter - all the family members, not just the men. We should be able to grow our own food. We should be able to build a house, and teach our children so they will not be forced to compromise their Islam to work for the money to buy one. We should be able to tend to animals, cook from scratch, sew basic garments, and live a good life from what Allah has put on this earth, inshaa'Allah.

Does this mean we all have to be farmers? No. Everyone in the time of the Prophet, peace be upon him, wasn't a farmer. People had different skills and worked together. The ironsmith, the carpenter, the merchant, the farmer all bartered and exchanged goods and services. The person who doesn't want to farm, offers another beneficial skill to the community. But everyone should have some basic knowledge of how to provide for themselves.
Envisage this: Enough land to build a home from the natural resources available, grow food, raise animals for eggs, milk, meat, etc. Like-minded families can build homes there, and share skills and know-how inshaa Allah. A central masjid will be the hub of the community, with delegated teachers for the children inshaa Allah. As far as possible, a self-contained community with solar/wind powered energy so there will be no reliance on utility companies and no monthly utility bills. The sale of excess crops, handiwork, etc. would provide enough income to pay for necessities from outside, inshaa Allah. This is truly sticking together and taking ourselves away in times of fitnah.

How better to build up our ties of brotherhood/sisterhood and live like the Sahabah (may Allah be pleased with them)? When I see all the community shared farms these days, I think of how much we could do as Muslims and have ample food. Not only that, we would finally get away from the burden of consumerism that we will have such a hard time answering Allah subhaana wa taala, about when we are questioned.
Whatever step we take to self-sufficiency will insha'Allah benefit us and the generations to come. We can pass the knowledge on and leave a legacy, bi ithn Allah.
When it boils down to survival of the fittest, where will the Muslims be?

The Beauty of "Because I said so."

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

I thought about how parents sometimes tell their children when questioned about some instruction, "Because I said so." This is not necessarily, as modern psychologists might say, poor communication.This is sometimes done as a mercy for the child, as the reasons for the adult's decision or instruction are beyond the child's thinking or comprehension. Nevertheless, they are done in the child's best interests. There must be a level of trust between the child and the parent that the parent is instructing or advising them out of deep love, caring, and responsibility. Another important aspect of, "Because I said so," is that obedience is paramount in things that do not oppose Allah's command. Children do not have to know the reason as a condition for obedience.

Sometimes, well often really LOL, people speculate that I take things very easily, mashaa'Allah. Well, I really find simplicity and ease in following Allah's command; in having things laid out for me and basically not having to make my own decision about them.

"It is not for a believer, man or woman, that they should have any option in their decision when Allah and his Messenger have decreed a matter. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger has indeed strayed in a plain error." (33:36)

Things become very simple when you take that ayah seriously. Allah has given us His Book, The Quran, and the final seal of the Prophets, Muhammad - salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam - as a guide and a clear example of how to live and handle various aspects of our lives. From those little things like how to enter the bathroom to the big things, like the obligatory 5 pillars of Islam and tawheed, we have it all simply and clearly documented.

There are many things that are beyond our comprehension, the depth of which we cannot fathom, but regardless, our obedience is to Allah without question and without hesitation. The parent and the child are very similar to The Creator and the creation; but three of those elements are imperfect, and One is not. Whereas parents can make errors of judgement, Allah does not. There is no question that His instructions and decree are for our best function and end. When we simply follow His Guidance, we free our minds from the struggle of thinking for ourselves and can bask in the beauty and ease of "no decision."

September 2011

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

I don't know about you readers out there, but I found it a bit too much posting a whole month's worth of ideas under just one heading. It meant that I couldn't give the posts specific labels so people could find posts under a particular topic. The system is now slightly changed and I will post once a month, but the posts will be separate. You will see that there are several other posts all published on this same day...your monthly dose, LOL!

I hope this works better for you, my dear readers. I know it is better for me, as I can develop my ideas more thoroughly without worrying about making the post overly long.

I have a few small things that I will include in this post, what don't warrant a post of their own.

Random Thoughts:

Allah knows....when you brush your teeth before meeting a friend, a wife, or an evening out, but not before going to the masjid, Allah knows who you have honored and given priority to.

Dua' for exposure:

There are some situations, and some times, when we cannot accurately assess the character and genuineness of another person. We may have a doubtful feeling about them, but we just cannot put our finger on it. Allah is, as always, the answer. Ask Him to show you the true nature of the person. Ask him to expose to you their reality, so you may act accordingly. It is more important to know the reality of what you are dealing with, than for that reality to be good.

Hudayfah ibn al-Yaman (radhi Allahu anhu) said:

"The people used to ask the Messenger of Allah (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) about good things, whereas I used to ask him about evil things fearing that they befall me." (Bukhari & Muslim)

May Allah guide us all to what pleases Him, bless us with benefit from all the good herein, and protect us from any harm - ameen.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

August 2011

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

Here we all are, in the last few days of Ramadhan. The third for Mercy is finished, the third for forgiveness has passed, and the erasing of sins is passing through like a steam train. The final night of Ramadhan and it's promise of forgiveness lies ahead, like a gleaming, precious prize within sight. Turn to Allah in sincerity. Turn to Allah with your heart open. Turn to Allah with every ounce of regret and repentance you have. Turn to Allah with desperation and need. Turn to Allah with total reliance and love. Turn to Allah with heart-wrenching tears. Remember, you do little things for Him, but He does everything for you.

Carpe Diem

As this Ramadhan has progressed, the children and I have been almost exclusively in the house. We have literally spent our days reading Qur'an, praying, reading the Daily Sittings, and having other little injections of 'ilm and adaab throughout the day. It has been precious.

It made me reflect on how time-sensitive Ramadhan is... and how many other things are as well. I have been considering how dangerous it is to plan for the future at the expense of the present. It is critical to consider what is important right now. What should take priority? Ask yourself, "What am I supposed to do? What is optional? What is urgent? What is necessary right now for a better later and what is necessary later for a better future?"

Of course, we must plan and look forward. However, we must attend to the present day needs, especially in the raising and educating of our children, our ibaadah, and our development in our religion. Let's not fool ourselves that if we procrastinate it is justified. Procrastination is from shaytaan. Procrastination makes us seem unreliable, inconsistent, and not true to our word. Time sensitive things should not be procrastinated about, because the chance to do them doesn't return...and we won't just be asked about what we did in this life, but also what we failed to do. 

Gifts for the Giver

Gifts come in many forms, but those material gifts we receive deserve some consideration. One example came to me recently that I want to share with you all.

I don't bother using a prayer rug/mat very often. However, I have been given prayer mats over the years and I have them distributed between the United States, England, and Madinah. I make a point to use my prayer mats/rugs for every prayer, choosing different places to make sujood, in an attempt to eventually make sujood on every bit of the mat. They were gifts to me. so, although I would be more inclined to pray on the bare floor, I want those who gave me the gifts to reap as much reward as possible from them. It is my gift of appreciation to them and inshaa'Allah an increasing of their account in illiyeen. They gave me a gift and my gift in return is to give them as much reward for that gift as possible.

This doesn't just pertain to prayer mats, but to any and all gifts given. If I cannot use it or know I won't do it justice, I ask Allah to give them reward for it as if I used it every day and I seek someone who it will benefit so that the giver can get additional reward and the gift is put to good use. This is some food for thought, especially as Eid is approaching and some gifts may be given and received.

An Amazing Thought

For many reverts, we struggle with our parents and loved ones not accepting Islam. In addition, it is hard on a believer's heart to think of another going astray and being destined for the Fire, audhu b'Illah! Recently, I was talking to somebody who has relatives who have consistently been off-track Islamically for some time. They hurt deeply over it and it costs them time, stress, and tears.

When I thought about how people dread the idea of their loved ones entering into an eternal punishment, I realized something mind-blowing. We are told by Allah that in Jennah we will never have a bad feeling or be unhappy; it isn't possible there. We also know that when the time comes and the Horn is blown twice and our accounts are handed to us, we will be focusing only on our situation with Allah. There is no room for looking around at what's going on with any others. After that, should we be of the blessed ones who are admitted to Jennah, we will have nothing but eternal bliss. In other words, we think that it will be unbearable for us to have any loved one in the hellfire, but actually it won't have any impact on us at all. Once we get to that stage, there are no such feelings, there is no such trial for us. The idea is horrific in this life, but the reality will be nothing. Subhaan Allah! For all of you that had that figured out from day one, never mind about me...I'm a bit slow at times. LOL.

The Love of Your Life
Many times I hear from sisters about their struggles in marriage and in searching for a spouse. Women look for the man who will be their everything, and they often call their husband the love of their life. They build their lives around a man... and so Allah sends them various tests. Why? Because we are supposed to build our lives around Allah. If we please Allah, we will please those good people around us as well. If we please Allah, He will give us beautiful relationships in this dunya filled with deep love, for His sake. I've said it various times in the past, but sisters please don't pin all your hopes and dreams on any man - he is but a human being, made to err and imperfect. Pin all your hopes and dreams on Allah, subhaana wa taala, and then strive beside the man Allah has decreed for you to strive beside and be happy with His decree.

Latest Cyber Discoveries

A World of Green Muslims
Islam in Perspective, Arab News.

Okay, rather than make this post any later than it already is, I'll leave it at that and hit publish.

Allah, subhaana wa taala, sends me idea after idea... revelation after revelation...concept after concept (alhamdul'Illah!) and I'm acting on them and communicating them to you. If there is any benefit from these ideas, it is ONLY attributable to Him, azza wa jal and any error is from shaytaan and my own, imperfect self. May Allah forgive me for my sins and mistakes, known and unknown. May Allah forgive us all - ameen.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

July 2011

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

As some of you may already know, my posting on this blog is now limited to one post per month. For that reason, I've simply put the month and year as the title. These posts may be rather long at times, because I will try to fit in a variety of topics and updates. Inshaa'Allah, it will give you all plenty to think about and work on. Considering that I have close to 200 posts already on this blog, I'm sure if you get tired of reading the monthly post you can find something else to dig up and read, if you're in need of an "extreme" fix, LOL!

Ramadhan Preparation and Plan:

Last year we spent the majority of Ramadhan in Madinah, mashaa'Allah. The beauty of that lay in us having absolutely nowhere to go during the day and sitting at home. It set the scene for a program that benefited every one of our family members. The children read the daily juz from The Noble Qur'an, Khan and Hilali translation.They also read the Daily Sittings in Ramadan by Shk. Uthaymeen. As we only have translations of the Daily Sittings up to day 26, we selected certain pertinent major sins from Adh-Dhahabi's Major Sins book, and have them read and answer questions about them for the last 4 days. My 4 year old didn't read those things, but her 7 year old sister (mashaa'Allah) read to her or told her what she had learned each day. In this way, every one of us came away with the fiqh of fasting, in depth details about Jennah and Jehennem, and read the complete Quran over the month.

After the first 10 days, the system changed a little. We started out informally asking the children during the iftar meal what they had read about and learned that day. It became obvious that some were really reading and understanding and others were not. To remedy that, I read ahead and wrote out questions for them each day. They were given the questions and had to write the answers and hand them in each day. This not only pushed them to read for understanding, but I could focus the questions on key points and areas I wanted to instill in them and teach them.

This year, we have planned to do the questions for the Quran reading and Daily Sittings from the beginning of Ramadhan. They will be different from last year's and less in number.  This should remind, solidify, and build on what they learned last year, inshaa'Allah. We will also be doing three lessons/questions and answers from Shk Yahya al Hajooree's book on Aqeedah and Fiqh that was written for his children. These are the types of questions that are essential for all Muslims, but are presented in a way that is simple and the proof for each answer is something short enough to be learned and memorized. I'm hoping to learn some valuable proofs myself while teaching this to the children, inshaa'Allah.

The children, from the beginning of Rajab, are steered away from reading fiction and towards reading non-fiction and books to increase their Islamic knowledge and understanding. The bedtime stories for my girls are the Goodnight Stories from the Quran, Goodnight Stories about the Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam), and now that we have finished those, the stories for children on World of Islam Portal that are all either telling hadith or learning events in Islamic history. They are wonderful, mashaa'Allah. The children have a library of books about the Prophets (alayhum as salaam), stories from the Quran, Islam and the environment, and loads of non-fiction books such as children's encyclopedias, science books, etc. They have time on the computer, time to play, and time for games and fun...but they operate within the premise that it must be beneficial, happily mashaa'Allah.

We are all expected to continue with our Quran memorization and The Daily Account will be amended to include cards for fasting, memorization, and completing the daily questions in good time, etc. There will be a gift at the end of the month for those with an excellent Daily Account....because just as Allah rewards his obedient servants, so will we reward them inshaa'Allah, as an incentive.

Yesterday, I baked batches of ginger snaps, hazelnut shortbread crescents, and different flavored biscotti as part of my Ramadan preparation. As much as possible, I will do ahead of time what I can so my time is as free as possible for worship. 

Islamic Inspiration:

If you have time, refocus and reground yourself. Read something to put you in a higher state of emaan and clear focus for the month of ibadah. The Ideal Muslimah and The Ideal Muslim are excellent all-round books that address every aspect of your being.  Remind yourself of what and where you should be.


I'm currently learning Surah Nuh, and when I got to ayah 5 and pondered on it for a moment, I realized what it was context. Nuh cried to Allah that he had called his nation to Islam night and day. He told Allah that it did nothing but increase them in arrogance and that they covered up their ears and covered their heads with their clothing. He faced such ignorance, such extreme rejection, for so many years. And what did Allah tell him? Build an ark in the middle of the desert where there is no body of water and limited supplies of wood. Nuh's mission lasted over 900 years...and nobody gave him the time of day.

So what can we say about ourselves, when we lose heart and get impatient after just a day, a week, a month, or a year without results or success. We have no idea what true sabr is. We need to give thanks every day for Allah's incredible mercy, that He doesn't lay tests upon us that are greater than the little ones we have, and that the tests He presents us with are so short and so simple in comparison.

Miscarriage Number 10:

Over the past three years I have had a series of miscarriages...and I am currently recovering from my tenth, al hamdul'Illah. Why so many? Qadr Allah, mashaa fa'al. The only medical testing left to do is for chromosomal abnormalities; otherwise all the other tests show that there is nothing wrong with me, mashaa'Allah,

I think that Allah is ensuring I still qualify as a woman worth marrying, LOL, as He is proving at this middle stage of my life that I am perfectly fertile, mashaa'Allah. Of course, He is also giving  us tests that we must respond to, react to, and formulate an attitude towards. We have been incredibly blessed with our two daughters and fully accept Allah's Decree.

The difficult part is becoming pregnant so frequently and then being in limbo between expecting the best from Allah and thinking positively, and noticing every twinge and cramp, dreading the sight of blood or not detecting a heartbeat. It is a far bigger mental and emotional test, than physical...even though it is physically painful.
The Prophet (salla Allahu alayhi wasalam) said, upon him peace, "The miscarried child will pester its glorious and mighty Lord for His entering its two parents into the Fire until it is told, 'O miscarried child that pesters its Lord! Enter your father and mother into Paradise.' Then it will drag them with its umbilical cord until it makes them enter Paradise." Ibn Majah and Abu Ya`la from `Ali.

And again, "By the One in Whose hand is my soul, truly the miscarried child will certainly drag its mother with its umbilical cord to Paradise, provided one expects recompense [for sabr (patience)]." Ibn Majah and Ahmad from Mu`adh.

And he said, upon him peace: "Your little ones are the larvas (da`aamees) of Paradise. They will meet their parents and grab them by their garments or their hands to no end other than that Allah will enter them Paradise." Sahih Muslim.

Isn't that a divine reward for your heartache?

Also, the Prophet (SAW) said: "I swear that a miscarried child of mine I send forth before me is more beloved to me than [raising] a mounted knight that survives me." Ibn Majah from Abu Hurayra.

Fortitude with faith and surrender with ridaa - absolute acceptance - through losing a child, require inordinate strength of character because SABR carries huge reward and its difficulty means even more reward. "And whoever yatasabbaru (=is racked trying to endure in patience), Allah will grant them SABR, and none was ever given a greater gift than SABR." (narrated in the Five Books). Hence the magnificent, tremendous aya states {Verily the sabirun will receive a reward without measure} (39:10).

Hence Umm al-Darda' would say: "Those that gladly accept the Divine decree have a level in Paradise that the Shuhada' will envy them the Day of Resurrection."

May we be the envy of the Shuhada' - ameen!
"When Allah tests you it is never to destroy you. When He takes something out of your possession it is (only) in order to empty your hands for an even greater gift." (Ibn Al Qayyim)

Al Barakah:

After 5 years of working towards the goal of living in the Middle East with our children, we are here in Madinah al Munawarrah. After 8 years of dreaming and planning to buy land so we could have our own homestead, as of 20 July 2011, we now own 51 acres of land near Roy, New Mexico, wa al hamdul'Illah! We have somewhere to take our sheep in times of fitna, somewhere to realize our dream of Sunnah living, somewhere to plant seeds, build cob houses, raise animals, and truly know the simplicity of tawakkal (reliance on Allah)  and ibadah (worship), bi ithn Illah, taala. 
The objective of zuhd (asceticism) is to leave all that harms the servant's hereafter, and the objective of 'Ibâdah (worship) is to perform all that will benefit his hereafter. (Majmû 'ul-Fatâwâ, 14/458)
It is nothing less than a favor from our Lord, an amanah (trust) with us to honor and use for His worship, the implementation and propagation of the Quran and the Sunnah.. It is a huge blessing - and so it's name will be Al Barakah, inshaa'Allah.

It's all Good:

We are approaching the month of Mercy, the month of Forgiveness. Don't let it pass you we don't know if we will see another Ramadhan after this one. Please don't linger on the negative, focus on the positive. See the "al hamdu l'Illah" in everything and say it for everything

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

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sticky Marital Stuff...When Hubby's Wrong and Trust is Gone

As salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

In marriage, and relationships in general, I think many of us face situations where Allah does not guide us to walk away and yet we don't know how to cope with the situation well. The woman's perspective is different than the man's, particularly because of her role within the marriage relationship. Most certainly, us wives have many faults and sins of our own. The difference is that Allah has given men authority over women, hence if the husband faces such issues with his wife, he must correct them. But what about the times when our husbands give in to shaytaan's whispers? This may be in various forms, such as:

- doing something that is, at best, doubtful Islamically
- doing acts hated by Allah,
- being disobedient to Allah, or
- falling into major sin.

Many sisters struggle with their emotions and how to cope with  a husband (or anyone close to to them) whose errors, makrooh actions, or sins affect them deeply.

In these cases I have to separate myself.  In a nutshell, the part of me that loves a person truly for the sake of Allah, and is torn apart when they do wrong, becomes desensitized over time. A protective coating has built up over my heart and with every sin, the coating becomes thicker. A little of the love and respect may be diminished and it is replaced with hatred for the despised action(s) and an aversion to the person when they commit those deeds. It often leaves me dreading any repeat offenses. This is particularly difficult when the person involved is your husband.
It is reported that Sufyân Al-Thawrî – Allâh have mercy on him – said:

If you loved a man for Allâh and then he innovates in Islâm and you don’t hate him for it, you never [truly] loved him for Allâh.
Abû Nu’aym, Hilyatu Al-Awliyâ` 7:34.
I remember the words of Allah in the Quran, "You will not be asked of what they did." I separate myself, because I cannot cope with such close involvement - it hurts me. I also separate myself because I hate what Allah Hates. I do not want to fall into the same sin or to be one of those who supports another in their sin. I'm sure it sounds cold and not supportive, but if I don't look at it like that, then I cannot function.

As for day-to-day life, how do you think and conduct yourself when you have these strong, negative emotions? Try to continue with life as usual without saying anything. I say, "try" because I am not a person who easily disguises feelings, so it is an effort that may not completely succeed for many of us. Harping on the issues will cause a problem and you may be blamed. If you are at a stage where there is little point in any speech, ask Allah to rectify your affairs and show both you and your husband the truth of the situation and make a clear path for you to His pleasure.

All this horrible stuff in marriage is why I wrote Trust after Betrayal, Hold on to your Hijab and The Road to Healing Rifts, inshaa'Allah. Try very hard to smile and focus on all the positive things; there are still many of them. That is how you can still enjoy your life and relationship.

Remember, you have your own faults, failings, and sins. The negatives don't go anywhere...they are there and that is part of the test so don't expect things to ever be exactly the same. The more the person errs, the more the healthy heart is repulsed. It is impossible to feel the same about someone if, or when, they do what is hated by Allah.

It is quite sad because many couples have a wonderful relationship where they enjoy many interests and laugh a lot together, but there is always the "dark side" that undermines the respect and trust. Sisters, don't expect to be able to trust him in the things he has a failed track record in. Try to focus on those things you can trust him in. An outlook that can help with this is to hate the actions and the cause of the actions - shaytaan and his wicked whispers - not the person.

As I tell all the sisters, find a smile from somewhere and try to be happy within yourself... with Allah and without your husband. Then just behave that way while he is around as well. He doesn't need to know that he isn't the cause of your smile or contentment. Compartmentalize, if you can...and I'm not saying it is easy at all. Me finding my happy place with Allah is how I don't end up being cold and resentful when something in the relationship is ruined.

You can be pleasant, laughing, affectionate, but the damage that is done means that part is real and part is an act. Remember that the act isn't really for your husband, it is for Allah's pleasure and to fulfill your obligations as a wife.The more you dedicate yourself and your love to Allah, the easier it gets to find happiness and separate yourself from the less pleasant aspects. Never forget, for every action there is a reaction. If you are happy and contented, it will have a huge effect on your husband and home.

Here's my analogy of the day. What happens when you have an unwanted guest? You know, someone you struggle to allow into your space. If you give them a bad reception, you will make them feel  unwelcome, uncomfortable, unwanted, which usually brings out the worst in them. Whereas, if you give them a good reception, then you give them ease and, inshaa'Allah, bring out the best in them. Our husband's are our most important guests, even when they err. It is our job to try to bring out the best in them bi ithn Illah, ta'ala.

Sisters, you are not alone in these struggles. Although our husbands may all do different things, many sisters go through this in varying degrees and are seeking advice on how to cope.

May Allah guide and help us all - ameen!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Polygyny: Would I ?

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

Over the years, polygyny has played a role in my life in many ways. When I was a single Muslimah, I had several proposals for polygyny and have witnessed polygyny attempts... and failures. One might think that with my attitude towards it, I might have been a willing candidate for polygyny.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I always looked at it with the questions:

What is the benefit for him?
What is the benefit for me?
What is the benefit for his family?
What are the losses for him?
What are the losses for me?
What are the losses for his family?
Does his wife want it? Does she accept and agree to it?
How does he plan to practice it?
Can he afford it?
Do we have similar goals?
Is he forward thinking regarding safeguarding our future and our goals collectively as a family?
Does he have genuine reasons for wanting to marry me?
What is his religious understanding and practice?

Believe me, there are plenty of other questions I could ask but I never even got past the first six or seven. Usually, I didn't even get past the first two! Needless to say, I didn't accept those polygynous proposals. In fact, in each case the first thing I asked the brother was, "What about your wife?" I will not be the one to hurt his wife, take time and resources away from his children, and ruin the simplicity of being one happy family unit. I'm not the party crasher. I'm not the one to squeeze a sixth person in a five-passenger car and cause discomfort for everyone on the journey.

I'm sure this sounds funny when I am in polygyny and have welcomed, or at worst case, accepted it into my life as a blessing and a test from Allah. However, there is a big difference between being a first wife where polygyny is imposed on you, and to be unmarried and make a conscious decision to enter into polygyny. The former entails having Allah send life changes and tests to you and facing them. The latter entails looking at  a prospective situation, its pros and cons, and choosing it.

So,  I wondered to myself, under what circumstances would I enter into polygyny? Before everything else, I would need to be in a situation where I needed to married...and where polygyny could work well or better than monogamy. Perhaps if I were widowed, needing support and stability for my children or to keep us in a certain place (like here in Madinah) it would become an option. Obviously there would need to be a great benefit to our Islam, with sound understanding and in depth knowledge. At my stage of life and deen, the only way to respect and obey a man is for him to have serious focus, obedience to, and worship of Allah.

So, if all this is in place, what's left? His wife. She must know me, understand me, love me, and actually want me in her life and family. She must be so satisfied with me that she would trust me to raise her children if something should happen to her. How's that for a tall order, LOL?

Now before anyone jumps up and argues, I know that the existing wife doesn't have to agree to polygyny. I know that she doesn't have to like me or be friends. I know that she doesn't even have to get to know me. This isn't about any Islamic requirements; this is about me and my heart and what I can live with. I cannot live with the guilt and fitna of marrying someone at the expense of others. I don't want to be another woman's heart wrenching test or unpleasant, lifetime burden. That makes for a wounded family. I will not expose my children to that and I will not accept that distraction from my deen and worship bi ithn Illah, taala.

I know what the implications of polygyny are. Basically, the first wife has to include and be affected for the rest of her life, by another woman who she never chose to share with, or even be friends with in many cases. The existence of that person in her family means that nothing is the same. Her marriage and marital intimacy is altered forever. There is no freedom to go on vacations without paying the price of time and money for someone else. Everything is on a schedule, restricted by time division and having to always be considerate of someone else. Everything is more complicated, more tiring, and sadly, less pleasant. It is a enormous and painful test for most women.

Marriage is supposed to be forever and it is meant to be one big family, on the same page, striving for the same goals, functioning in their respective roles, happy together and loving each other... for the sake of Allah. Sound too good, too ideal? Well, it isn't really; it will always have it's tests and trials. However, I've seen too much and been through too much to willingly settle for anything less that that.

May Allah bless us all abundantly, shower His soothing mercy on us, and make our good intentions a reality - ameen.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Don't Climb Every Mountain

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

Ever feel like you had loads of big ambitions and don't know where to start? How about when you try to take on so many different things that you are overwhelmed by them all? Of course, there are always people who take on many things and believe they can do them all, and more. This all is relative to a person's ability and, more importantly, Allah's Will. However, what I have learned over the years is that people who try to climb every mountain, or a whole load of very big mountains, end up leaving a trail of broken promises and unfinished plans behind them. There is perfect truth in the sayings, "Something's got to give," and "Everything has a price." In the life of a believer, it must never cost them their deen.

I have made a point to be real with the people around me, my children, and myself. For example, if my children ask me to do a certain activity or make something, I think about the value or benefit it will have. I consider if it will please Allah, if it will draw us closer to Him, enhance our understanding, or improve our practice of Islam. Is it an attraction to, or a detraction from, Allah? If it is a healthy, beneficial activity, I will tell them what the chances are of us doing it and what variables (particular circumstances) need to be in place for it to happen. Sometimes is is as simple as them finishing their school work in good time, sometimes is is dependent on me finishing something or us completing chores. Sometimes it will require us to wait until we've gotten the things we need to do it. Sometimes it is something that simply doesn't draw us closer to Allah or benefit us enough to be worth it and then I say no, citing my reasons.

With friends, I may say it depends on my resources or my ability. Basically, I tell others that I will do what they want IF it isn't a distraction from Allah, IF Allah wills it, and IF I have what is needed for it. In all cases,  in the matter of a few seconds I assess the value of the task and it's price in my life and then make a decision.

When it comes to bigger things, I consider that if I died today, would I have been focusing on the right things? At least, now, I can say that I am actively focusing on the betterment of my deen, mashaa'Allah. My school is for my deen, not any other purpose, mashaa'Allah. My methods of child-raising are for Allah's pleasure in us all, inshaa'Allah. My care of my family and lifestyle are structured to adhere to Islam as well as possible, bi ithn Illah. Even my future plans are all to increase my emaan, tawakkal, and taqwa and that of my children, inshaa'Allah. I'm not doing wonderfully, but al hamdul'Illah, I can live with it and it is a seed to grow from, bi ithn Illah.

When I went to college a few years ago, it was to learn about education and how to raise and teach my children well, inshaa'Allah. However, when it came to me transferring to university to complete my teaching degree, I stopped. Not because it was too hard, but because it wasn't focusing on the right things. It wasn't for the improvement of my deen and it wouldn't help me fulfill my duties to Allah and my family. It would have been an obstacle - a mountain I was not willing to climb.

When you are considering your life, your goals, your future plans think about the various mountains around you. Then assess which mountains you should climb.

- If it takes you away from your primary purpose of living to worship Allah, say goodbye.

- If it distracts you from what's important in the Eyes of Allah and His Messenger (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam), say goodbye.

- If it keeps you so busy, you cannot find dedicated time every day to learn and grow in Islam and understand and memorize Quran, say goodbye.

- If it fills your mind or life with fitna, say goodbye.

- It it is for worldly gain, at the expense of fulfilling your obligations to your family and the Ummah, say goodbye.

We take on things that complicate our lives and distract us from our purpose in this life: worship of Allah.


Don't climb every mountain; look at the mountains whose peaks get you closest to Allah and set your sights on those. All the other mountains will become, just as we are told in the Qur'an, like fluffy wool, unable to raise you to any beautiful heights.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hold on to Your Hijab...

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

Ever get the timing all wrong and express your feelings, only to receive a really negative reception? How about when it seems to get worse and worse, whether you stay quiet or try to speak?

Basically, shaytaan has set up a big fairground, with his army of shayaateen running the rides, between you and that person. Be it your husband, friend, relative, or employer, nothing can get through to them without going through the fairground of fitna and that rotten devil's interference.

These are times when, although you desperately want to communicate and try to garner understanding and positivity, you will not succeed. These are times when you have to hold on to your hijab (or perhaps kufi, LOL) and bide your time. Believe me, I'm writing this because I need to take my own advice, LOL.

You may write down your feelings, get into details about your perspective, and even try to make an objective list of pros and cons... or 70 excuses. However, instead of handing them over or pressing send on the e-mail, pray 2 rakat and sit down with that list and pour it out to The Therapist. Take it to Allah. Just doing that will ease your heart and mind. It also puts the whole situation over to the Only One Who has any control over it and any power to change it for the good.

Allah will not change your situation if you think you can handle it yourself...and wouldn't that be idiotic thinking anyway?

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

So, call upon Him and let Him resolve the situation in the most perfect way; in a way you would never be able to in your lifetime. Don't delay in turning to Him, so He doesn't delay in answering...and remember, holding on to your hijab drives shaytaan crazy. Allah is with the patient...and shaytaan has to run.  By the time you've handed it over to Allah and exercised patience, shaytaan will have been forced to pack up and take his fairground somewhere else.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Eternal Beauty

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

Beauty is such an interesting thing: the outer beauty and the inner beauty. Even the nicest looking person doesn't look lovely if they don't love Allah and have a clean heart. Clean hearts and pure intentions shine from faces like a beautiful illumination. The smiles of those with inner beauty are irresistible to all like souls, they emanate and meet with gleaming smiles. While our outer beauty lies with what Allah has decreed for us, our inner beauty makes us more beloved to people than the most beautiful exterior. The clean heart loves the clean heart...and that's what the believers see in each other.

If you wish to be eternally beautiful, rectify your heart. This is a short but excellent e-book on this matter:  How to Rectify your Heart by Shk. Abdul Islaam Saalih bin Taaha Abdul Waahid.

So many of you I have never met, never seen...but our hearts speak to each other and our smiles reach each other all over the world.  May our hearts be a source of light on Yawm Al Qiyama - ameen.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Polygyny - Behind Closed Doors

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah Wa Barkatuh.

This is a sensitive subject, but it is the biggest and hardest aspect to deal with for many women in polygyny - marital intimacy. I know that many women feel that they never want their husbands to touch them again once he's been with another woman. They struggle with feelings of diminished confidence, jealousy, suspicion that he is lying when he says he still wants them, and disgust. It can be even harder because, with polygyny, it is not a secret; he has legitimately taken another wife and is living with her for part of the time.

I'm sure some of you may have wondered how I handled this and if I went through those feelings. Most certainly some of those negative thoughts went through my mind, but I knew they were from shaytaan. I also avoid my own slanted interpretations of things. After all, if I have no reason to think I am undesirable or less in some way, then why on earth should I think it?

Certain factors will always play a big part in how the woman feels and how she copes. Much depends on how the husband handles the situation. He must make her feel especially wanted and desired to compensate for the fact that he is also enjoying someone else. He must make it his responsibility to ensure the existing wife/wives are well taken care of in this area.

However, a different approach can be taken to the whole subject. Women don't get married to be left hanging and frustrated. It is the husband's duty to keep his wife/wives fulfilled, regardless of his obligations to, and desires for, another wife. If a wife is left feeling frustrated or ignored, it could be a huge source of fitna and resentment of his other marriage. It is essential to eliminate all aspects that will sabotage positive thinking and success in polygynous situations.

So, rather than think to yourself, 'I don't want him to touch me now he's been with someone else,' think instead, 'I'm getting some of my marital rights from him.' For every night that you think he is pleasing her, ensure he pleases you on your night/time, inshaa'Allah. I'm sure it must seem quite a tough approach as opposed to the hurt and confidence shaken one, but it can work very well bi idhn Illah ta'ala.  Even if you imagine that your husband is having relations with his other wife on every one of her nights, exercising your marital rights on your nights gives you equal psychological footing.

As my husband so clearly stated on his blog, it doesn't go down well in polygyny for the man to be too tired or have a headache, LOL. From a female perspective, I think that most men think they are "too much man" for one woman and can always handle more, maashaa Allah. Just say to him, "Prove it." ;P

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What Went Wrong?

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

What is our purpose on this earth? 

وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنْسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ
 And I did not create the Jinn and the mankind except for My worship. 
Quran 51:56

How does that apply to marriage, parenting, family, friendships, colleagues, and the world around us? In every one of these relationships, we must enter it with the intent to serve Allah and increase our emaan and taqwa through it. In every one of these relationships we must be encouraging and increasing worship and obedience to Allah. We must, foremost, enter into any and all things for the improvement, and as positive part of the development, of our worship of Allah.
It is reported that ‘Abdullâh b. ‘Abbâs – Allâh be pleased with him – said, “Love for Allâh and hate for Allâh, make your enmity because of Allâh and your allegiance because of Allâh; for indeed, the love and support of Allâh is not achieved save through this. And a man will never taste true faith (îmân) – though he may pray and fast much – except when he is like that. Today, the people’s brotherhood is based upon worldly considerations (dunyâ), but this will not do anything for them on the Day of Resurrection.”
Ibn Al-Mubârak, Al-Zuhd wa Al-Raqâ`iq article 353.

What happens when we enter into anything for our own reasons that go against what Allah and His Messenger (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) have given us as criteria? Things go wrong. They don't go wrong because they started out right in the first place and then lost Allah's Blessings. They go wrong because they were never right in the first place; they are simply following their course.

What is their course all about? Teaching us what happens when we don't do things with the right intention; when we don't do them to worship and draw closer to Allah, subhaana wa taala. Their course is a series of warnings, signs, lessons, and events that are meant to teach us that there is no success without putting Allah first.

When we embark on marriage with the wrong intention or mixed intentions, then we will see the results of that. That's why so many marriages fail. What about the marriages where one person had the right intention and the other didn't. Does it end up okay? Not usually.
It is reported that Sufyân Al-Thawrî – Allâh have mercy on him – said:
If you loved a man for Allâh and then he innovates in Islâm and you don’t hate him for it, you never [truly] loved him for Allâh.
Abû Nu’aym, Hilyatu Al-Awliyâ` 7:34.
Usually the marriage is not happy or successful. Usually, it is a blessing from Allah for the one with the right intention if the marriage ends. They are being protected from the companionship and fitna of someone insincere and misguided.

Yahyâ b. Yahyâ Al-NaysâbûrÎ reports:
I was once with Sufyân b. ‘Uyainah – Allah have mercy on him, when a man came to him and said, “O Abû Muhammad, I complain to you of so-and-so”, meaning his wife, “I am the lowest and most despicable thing to her.” [Sufyân] lowered his head for a few moments, then said, “Perhaps you wanted her in order to better your status.” The man said, “Indeed, o Abû Muhammad.” Sufyân said, “Whoever goes for glory will be tried with ignominy, whoever goes for wealth will be tried with poverty, but whoever goes for religiousness, Allah will bring together for him glory and wealth with the religion.” He then started to narrate to him:
We were four brothers: Muhammad, ‘Umrân, IbrâhÎm and I. Muhammad was the eldest, ‘Umrân was the youngest, and I was in the middle. When Muhammad wanted to marry, he desired status and married a woman of higher standing, so Allah tried him with ignominy. ‘Umrân desired wealth, so he married a richer woman and Allah tried him with poverty: [her family] took everything from him and gave him nothing.
I pondered their situation. Mu’ammar b. Râshid once came to us so I consulted him on the situation and told him the story of my brothers. He reminded me of the hadÎth of Yahyâ b. Ja’dah and the hadÎth of ‘Â`ishah. The hadÎth of Yahyâ b. Ja’dah states that the Prophet – Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him – said, “A woman is married for four things: her religion, her status (lineage), her wealth or her beauty; so take the religious one and be successful.” The hadÎth of ‘Â`ishah states that the Prophet – Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him – said, “The most blessed woman is she who is easiest to maintain.”
Thus, I chose [to marry a woman of] religion and modest dowry, in accordance with the Sunnah of Allah’s Messenger – Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, and Allah gave me status and wealth along with the religion.
Abû Nu’aym, Hilyatu Al-Awliyâ` 7:289, 290.
The first hadÎth is recorded by Al-BukhârÎ and Muslim. The second is found in Al-Nasâ`Î and other collections but has been graded weak by scholars including Shaykh Al-AlbânÎ. However, scholars point out there is another narration that supports and adds to its meaning. This hadÎth states:
It is from the blessing in a woman that she has an easy dowry, an easy proposal [via her guardian] and an easy womb (i.e. she is fertile and bares children without difficulty). One of the reporters of this narration, ‘Urwah, said “And I say from myself, one of the first signs of evil from a woman is for her to have a high dowry.”
This hadÎth is recorded by Imâm Ahmad and others and is graded hasan by Shaykh Al-AlbânÎ.

In some beautiful scenarios, the one with the wrong intention learns from the one with the right intention and the relationship becomes one of serious, and joyous, striving towards the pleasure of Allah. These are the occasions when we see that Allah Guides whom He wills and can turn a situation for the good. However, these are not situations one enters into knowingly, because there is no guarantee that Allah will turn the other's heart and mind; that may not be His will.

When people look at their problematic or failed marriages, relationships between parents and children,  friendships, and acquaintances, so many times we hear that question, "What went wrong?" So many times people harp on the question, seeking all manner of answers and solutions. However, the answer is as simple as that one ayah of Quran: we are here to worship Allah. What is worship of Allah? Believing in, following, and implementing His message and our perfect example, Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam).

If we put our own desires before the worship of Allah, then we are simply wasting our time and asking to be taught a lesson. Yes, we are human and we make mistakes; but we must learn from them and come to correct and sincere intention. Otherwise, eventually we may become of those who Allah leaves to their pleasure in this life to increase their punishment in the next, wa audhu b'Illahi min as-shaytaan ir-rajeem.

Now, when I hear that question, "What went wrong?" I think to myself, "Absolutely nothing."

All thanks and praise for Allah, our only hope for success in this life and eternity.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Daily Account

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

"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]

One of the most valuable things we can do is assess our account at the end of each day; it's a long, hard look in the mirror. I have been thinking about how to make our children more aware of their actions and the fact that they will have an account with Allah.  After a couple or three months of intentions and running it by hubby and friends, I have finally launched The Daily Account for the children....and me, al hamdul'Illah.  It is, quite naturally, based on Islam and the fact that the good deeds erase the bad deeds.

To prepare, I sewed a little cloth "rack" with four pockets in it and each child's initial on a pocket. Then I cut up some thick construction paper into squares.  I also made a chart to keep a record of the daily account for each child. Here's how it works:

Red squares are for negative and haram behaviors, light blue cards for positive behaviors, yellow cards for completion of acts of ibadah.  From morning to night, children get cards in their pocket according to their deeds and behavior. The children have been shown the various cards, so they have a clear idea of what is considered unacceptable, good, and praiseworthy behavior. In addition, there are plenty of blank cards so I can add things to each category when an action or behavior arises that hasn't been included.

An example of  some red cards:

- Broke the rules
- Hurt someone
- Spoke rudely or with an attitude
- Did something makhrooh in the prayer
- Didn't listen to my parents
- Lied
- Was sneaky/deceptive

An example of some blue cards:

- Gave sadaqa - a smile, picked something up, a gift...
- Completed my schoolwork in good time
- Did something especially kind or helpful
- Kept room tidy and clean
- Did the right thing
- Got ready for bed on time

An example of some yellow cards:

-Prayed all 5 prayers well.
-Said daily dua' for waking up, getting dressed, etc.
- Said the istiaatha at a necessary time
- Read Qur'an
- Actively sought out Islamic knowledge.

Here is an example of how this works. As the day progresses, cards are placed in the children's pockets according to their behavior. They see the cards going in and can check their pocket periodically. When behavior is bordering on bad, they get a warning before the red card is given. They are told when they do something that warrants a blue card. When something happened last night and one child told a lie, they got a red card but were also told that if they tell the truth they would get a blue card for doing the right thing...which would offset that horrid red card. Worked like a charm, mashaa'Allah!

This is in it's early stages, but the atmosphere in our home and between the children is notably improved in their race to win on The Daily Account. I'm still considering what we will reward the child with the best daily account with. It will not be something to encourage materialism, but more along the lines of recognition perhaps with a badge or award to keep for the week, and a special dinner or a baked treat of their choice. On a monthly scale, perhaps a special outing or activity of their choice. This is a work in progress, so I expect it will need adaptations.

In truth, we adults could use this programme too, especially if we are trying to get a grip on several issues and have a clearer picture of ourselves. I am certainly very conscious of occasions when I need a card, and I am making a little pile for myself. It has already drastically reduced the amount of times I raise my voice, wa al hamdu l'Illah.

Inshaa'Allah, The Daily Account will help prepare us all for the day when our real account is handed to us - ameen.

Monday, April 4, 2011

It Took Years

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

Someone asked me once how I got to this place in my life, my deen, and my heart. Well, it took years. Every year, every month, every day, every hour, every minute, and every second were needed for me to be the person who types to you now.

To get from vague religion, to Church of England, to Islam took 22 years. To go from being insecure and intimidated, to certain and unshakable in my reliance on Allah took 16 years. To get from learning Quran in order to pray, to understanding and reciting Quran because I love it, took 22 years. To learn to truly love for the sake of Allah took 28 years. To be ready for the role of wife and mother, took 20 years of working and supporting myself. To find a person to strive for Jennah with, took 36 years.

There aren't any instant packets of experience, wisdom, emaan, taqwa, or knowledge. There are no quick fixes for understanding and loving everything Allah sends you. It takes life experiences. Every year of your life is necessary for your movement towards Allah. Take it easy. Take time to think about the experiences. Embrace it all for what it is: your own personalized self improvement plan written by your Creator.

Allah has a plan for each of us and it follows His timeline. It isn't about how long it takes, it's about getting there. A large factor in getting there is understanding that everything that we go through is meant to get us there. Look at everything, the easy and the difficult, the joy and the misery, the thrills and disappointments and know that it's all part of the journey to Allah. It's all sent to make you turn to Him.

Now that I've said that it took me years to get to where I am, let me tell you where I am. Virtually nowhere in terms of knowledge, 29 Juz to go for Qur'an memorization, still battling myself to have the self-control and manners of our beloved Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, still desperately trying to please Allah, and seeking forgiveness for my many mistakes. I'm just struggling and striving along my personal path to Allah, and will be for the rest of my days, inshaa'Allah. It took years; al hamdu l'Illah for every one of them - they are irreplaceable.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Parenting Help Hotline

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

My 7-year-old daughter is going through some changes and testing the waters in regards to discipline, truthfulness, emotions, and words. Ya Rabb! I know my children are extremely easy compared to many others, mashaa'Allah. Regardless, parenting is hard at these times and I find myself struggling about how to handle various situations. I have been dialing the Parenting Help Hotline, seeking Allah's help and guidance in this.

Here is an outline of what happened a couple of days ago with her. Please note that she has been reading fluently since she was 3 years old, mashaa'Allah, so one wouldn't expect this to be a fix for most 7-year-olds, but a modified version might work. The key is to give children information and strategies that they can easily understand and implement. My daughter knows that The Pen (recorded account of good and bad deeds) isn't upon her yet, but that she is in training for when The Pen descends. This is a critical time, as these are the years where instruction for prayer and Islamic knowledge are being established.

In the morning at school, she said she wasn't walking downstairs with her little sister to play with her before classes start. Previously, she had gone down with her sister every day happily, without fail. This had her little sister very upset and me wondering what on earth was going on. I asked her why and she had no reason. I could tell that something was going wrong with her mindset. A friend and I both told her that she needs to take care of her sister and go downstairs with her. She went, but was silently whining and in a bad mood about it.

Once I saw that she was immersed in a bad mood, I went over to her and crouched down to eye level. I told her shaytaan was strongly influencing her at that time. After all, how can one fight if they don't know their enemy? I told her to say the istiaadha (the istiaadha is, "audhu b'Illahi min as shaytaan ir-rajeem) and as she said it, tears started rolling thick and fast down her cheeks. I told her that shaytaan didn't want her to get rid of him, that's why she was crying because there was a battle in her. I made her say it two more times and then had her recite Quran, the last three suwar. By the time she got to An Naas, I could see the calm coming over her. She recited Ayat al Kursy and then went to her classroom.

As the day continued, her mood remained considerably better, mashaa'Allah. However, once we had returned home and she was finished with her homeschooling, Allah sent me an idea. I called her over to read the Seven Phases of Shaytaan. Then I asked her at what stage she thought she was. After some thought, she told me she was at Phase 3, so I asked what major sins she was committing. She admitted to disobedience to parents and lying. Then she said, "So if I stop doing the major sins, shaytaan will get me to do minor sins next?" Now she was thinking, mashaa'Allah! I then  had her read my post, Scream, Shout, Kick shaytaan Out! Immediately after she read it, she went to get her computer and played Surah al Baqarah.

Then we prepared to pray, and as usual she delayed us a bit, so I said, "See how shaytaan keeps getting to you?" She denied it was shaytaan and told me, "You don't love me as much as you used to." Naturally, I talked to her about that, telling her I love her and want only to see the best for her. I told her that she has great potential to teach others Islam and please Allah. I then told her if she went out and killed someone, I wouldn't feel the same about her. It isn't that I don't love her, but it isn't nice or easy for me when she does the wrong thing. I then told her that she is a child and I understand that she has to go through different stages to learn and grow. It's just not lovely for me as her mummy to have to see her be naughty because I do love her.

She went off, still feeling sad. We went about our business for another hour or two and then my daughters had an apple break while I was preparing dinner. Just as they were happily chatting away, Allah sent me another gem of guidance. I asked my daughter how she would feel if I stopped praying or walked outside without my hijab? She looked at me as if I'd lost my mind, LOL. Then I asked her again, how would she feel? She answered, "I would be upset!" I asked her why and she responded, "Because you would be disobeying Allah, Mummy!"  (This is where anyone lurking in my mind would have heard my brain give a huge sigh of relief and a mental al hamdu'Illah!) I simply said to her, "Ah! So now do you understand how I feel when you disobey Allah?" Her face lit up as if the lightbulb had just gone on. She let out a laugh that said, "Now I get it!"

Since then, she has asked how she can get out of the phase she is in with shaytaan. I remind her to seek refuge in Allah and get rid of that rotten devil. They did a homeschooling unit on Understanding shaytaan, so her little sister knows the formula, too, mashaa'Allah. I tell them that every day they wake up and have choices to make; it's up to them to make the right and best choices. It is within their own control.

Will this be the end of it and we all live happily ever after? Of course not. I expect to remind and guide over and over again; that's what mothers do. When it comes to parenting, I have to turn to Allah, subhaana wa taala, He always gives me a way that was better than anything I could of dreamed up. To all you parents out there, rely on the Parenting Help Hotline first. Throw your hands up in dua' when you're seeking a way through to your children. It's the only way to ultimate success for you and your children.

Al hamdu l'Illahi rabbil aal ameen!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My Un-Da'wah Story: Part 3

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum.

Sometime in the early part of 2007, my father told me that he had been reading one of the books I left there and he had a great feeling of peace. He was living alone and had a lot of time on his hands, so it seems that it was a time for him to reflect. I asked what book it was, and he told me, "Lasting Prayers." I used to keep a Quran, an easy hadith book, and a few other books that were easy reading there so I would have something to read and refer to whenever I visited. I always thought that if they were interested, they might pick one up to read, but forgot about them for the most part.

For the next couple of phone calls, my father kept talking about the Lasting Prayers book, which is very beautifully made and has chapters that tell the prayers of each of the prophets (alayhum as salaam). He could see what Ibrahim (as) prayed with the direct quote from the Quran and explanation, as well as many other prophets (as). He mentioned that he was planning to visit the Islamic Foundation to see if they had some other book that he could read next. We took the initiative and put together a package of a couple of books by the same authors that I thought he would like, one an explanation of Surah Al Fatiha and the other on Surah Ikhlaas. I think we included another simple basic Islam book too and sent him a copy of the Lives of the Prophets series, which we knew he had enjoyed hearing parts of during his visit. We sent them all off and I called after a week or so to see if he had received them. When I called to check he told me that he had just been to the Islamic Foundation and they gave him a big pile of material to read the day before he received our package. He didn't know where to start! I told him to simply have a look and see what interested him and just go from there.

He returned to the Islamic Center again, to pick up a different translation of the Quran and have a little tour. He said that they told him he needed to learn to pray and gave him some paper to complete in the event he chose to embrace Islam. Finally, my husband had a chat with him and asked him what he believed. He stated that he was pleased with what he was learning and with Islam. I was about to faint!

Well, as we were off on Thanksgiving day, we gave my father a call to see how he was. He told me he'd just gotten back from the Islamic Foundation and did the ceremony. I asked what he was talking about, and after a bit of real confusion on my part I realised that he had said his shahadah! He said there was a group that gathered in the prayer hall and they all hugged him and he received all manner of welcome gifts and support. Al hamdu l'Illah! My father had embraced Islam, just a month before he turned 69 years old wa subhaan Allah wa bi hamdihi! The person I thought would be too resistant to change to ever accept Islam, even if he thought it was right, had changed. Allah (subhaana wa taala) had shown me the reality of, "Kun fa ya kun!" (Be and it is!)

Well, I'm crying now. It's been over three years since Daddy reverted and I'm still overwhelmed by it. We went to visit him over the summer and it was the first time to see him since he'd accepted Islam. To see my 72-year-old father pray was indescribable. Allah, yet again, has shown me His All-Encompassing Power. Anything is possible when Allah Wills it. We can never know His Plan or who He will gift with the faith of Islam next.

My Un-Da'wah Story: Part 2

Bism Illah wa as salaam alaykum.

Well, after I got married and we had our first daughter,my father and his wife decided to visit us. They came by the time she was turning one, in the summer of 2004, mashaa'Allah. I was wearing niqaab by then, but I didn't mention it at all and just went to pick them up at the airport. They didn't say anything about my face being covered initially and we got them home, settled down, and just let them relax. We had stocked the freezer and fridge with a variety of zabihah meats for their visit and for the first couple of days let them sleep in and recover from their flight. They enjoyed getting to know their granddaughter and we went to a couple of places for sightseeing and shopping.

During their stay, we did a couple of things that exposed them to Islam. We used to sell Islamic clothing, accessories, lectures, etc. at different functions and we took them one evening to a masjid in Philadelphia while we were vending. As brothers and sisters passed by, gave salaams, and interacted with us, my father asked me what the response was to their salaams and then responded a couple of times. It was quite cute. The whole experience served to show them a large Muslim community, predominantly American, with focus and a good sense of brotherhood/sisterhood.

The other thing we did was when we took them for drives, especially long ones, we played The Lives of the Prophets in the van. I mentioned in passing that it is the one time when we have a chance to listen to the series without interruption, just so they understood that it was for us, not them. Well, every now and then my father would make a sound of agreement with something being said, so I knew he was listening at least some of the time. His wife commented that it was very relaxing and soothing to listen to while we were traveling. Well, you KNOW that hubby and I were just grinning away at each other about that!

Of course, they saw us pray whenever and wherever we were for the duration of their stay, heard us refer to Allah throughout our day, and generally saw how our life was being lived. Our daughter was saying many words by then, so she would say "Al hamdu'l'Illah" after she sneezed, "bism'Illah" before she ate, etc. We also introduced them to black seed and black seed oil, explaining that the Prophet Muhammad, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, told us it was a cure for everything except death. That interested them greatly, as they like natural remedies and nutritional supplements.

When the time came for them to leave, we gave them gifts including a framed ayah of Quran translated into English (the last ayah of Surah Al Baqarah) that we had made. My husband decided to slip two simple books into their gift bag as well about Understanding Islam and Muslims. He told them that it was just in case they had any questions or wanted to understand a little more. We hugged and kissed them goodbye at the airport and my father said, "May Allah keep you safe and blessed."

On returning home, I talked to my father and he said that within a month of getting back they had to call someone to fix their hot water heater. The man who came was a Muslim and my father engaged him in conversation telling him about us. He talked to him about the black seed oil, which he liked to use. My father had taken us to the Markfield Islamic Foundation when we visited and had a look around with us, so he was familiar with it. He told me that he was planning to give them a call to see if they could tell him where to purchase more of the black seed. I thought to myself that at least it was some kind of connection with Islam.
Qadr Allah, by 2006 my father and his wife divorced. He was 68 at the time and it was a huge life change for him. He started thinking of different options such as coming over the the U.S.A. so he could be closer to us, moving to Portugal, etc. We just called him more often and remained supportive and loving.

In the meantime, my mother came to visit for 2 weeks. By then I had a 5 month old daughter as well, so she got to see both her granddaughters, mashaa'Allah. It was the last week of Ramadan, so we were fasting and she saw each day how we broke our fast and heard us get up early to have suhoor. My older daughter was 3 then, and she used to go downstairs to keep Grandma company in the early mornings while she had her cup of tea. One day my mother told me that she had sneezed and my mother said "bless you". She responded, "You can't bless me, only Allah can do that." My mother was taken aback, quite amazed at the clarity and focus. She saw us pray, saw the children living as Muslims, learned what we didn't do, and what we did.

When Eid came, she was uncomfortable to come with us to the Eid prayer, so I tried to leave it open for her. She changed her mind and came, holding the baby and just sitting at the back. It was in a rented hall, so there were no issues of her entering a masjid. She even draped a shaylah over her hair for the duration. One or two mornings I played Quran for Little Muslims for the children and checked to see if she was listening. She didn't really seem to be taking anything in, so I didn't take it any further. We enjoyed her visit, spent a lot of time letting her relax and do a little shopping. We gave her gifts from the girls that showed their love for Grandma and sent her home with hugs. Mashaa'Allah, it was a good visit.

My Un-Da'wah Story: Part 1

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.
I reverted to Islam 23 years ago while living in Bahrain. My parents live in England, and I told them over the phone, so they really didn't know what I was talking out. Islam was a far-off thing for them and they didn't know what it meant.

I had a small piece of advice given to me just before my first trip back home to England after becoming a Muslimah. It was to simply be myself, let everyone see that I hadn't changed in any ridiculous way, and to answer questions (when and if they came) as simply as possible. So, that's what I did.

I went home, asked for something to be kept in the bathroom so I could make istinja, explained why I needed it and went about enjoying my visit with my father and his wife. The same went for my mother. When they asked a question, I answered as simply as possible so that if they wanted more information they could continue to ask questions and if that was enough then I hadn't overdone it.

Well, the years passed and my parents became more accustomed to my lifestyle. They sometimes had some very specific questions for me when I went home for visits. I noticed that they were quoting things they'd heard on the radio or watched on television about Muslims, so I knew they were paying more attention to Islam in general.

Then, perhaps 10 or 11 years after I embraced Islam, my father called me one New Year's Eve and told me he was proud of me, that I had good morals, lived a clean and decent life and had done well in my work. Mashaa'Allah. I was in tears. It was a milestone in my life and in my un-da'wah; my father was proud of me and my faith.
During the years that I went home to visit my parents, I told them these things in answer to their questions.

-In Christianity, living together without being married is called "living in sin." I'm not doing something different by not having boyfriends and waiting for marriage, I'm just following the rules. Within a year, my father married his partner and my mother married hers.

-In every movie you've seen about Biblical times, the women wore long loose clothes and their hair was covered. It has always been the way of religious people, I'm just going back to those ways. I gave them an analogy.
They get on a bus and a woman sits opposite them wearing a mini skirt, boobs all pushed up and cleavage out, make-up, long wild hair, high heels, perfume. She looks great. How does Daddy's wife feel about that woman? Does she check to see if my father is looking at her? Of course, my father has seen her and what will he do, put his hands over his eyes? Daddy's wife may be thinking, "She's thinner than me... she is more beautiful... she's younger." Daddy may be thinking, "She looks great!" Daddy's wife feels a resentment towards that woman for displaying herself in front of her husband. Then, when it comes to bedtime she has a little complex. I look fat in this nightdress. I don't want him to see me and compare me to that gorgeous woman. She has lost confidence in herself and her attractiveness to my father. A barrier has been placed between them. Now, if that woman had not displayed herself that way, Daddy's wife would not have anything to compare herself with. She would not have felt inferior or that my father had seen something he must, in her mind, prefer to her. She would have had no animosity towards that woman sitting opposite them and felt no threat.
Well, after explaining that, they made a point to advise me when shopping if the thing I was trying on was suitably covering or not. They understood.

-When asked about some horrible thing a Muslim had done, I said, "What about Son of Sam, the man down the road who killed his wife, and all these criminals in the prisons? Are they all Muslim? No, they are Christians, Jews, Athiests, etc. It has nothing to do with the religion, it has to do with the people. There are good and bad people. People with good judgment and intellect, and people without. I don't say the religion is bad because of a person who associates themselves with it; I call that person bad. "

-When sitting with them on the evening of their Christmas, after leaving them to their day and just arriving back home, I was asked if I didn't believe in Jesus. I took the Quran and read the excerpt from Surah Maryam about nabi Isa's birth, alayha salaam. Daddy's wife said, "Well, that Quran has it all so we don't need our Bibles do we?"

Then, about 8.5 years ago, I got married. This was another milestone, because they now had an example of a Muslim man to observe as well.

-When I got married they asked questions about my husband's short pants and beard... which he answered including hadith from the Prophet Muhammad, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam. My father could see that my husband was acting based on knowledge and commitment. For every question, my husband presented proof in his answer, wa al hamdu l'Illah ala kully haal.

-We had to handle the issue of not celebrating birthdays, Mother's Day, and Father's Day. Although I had explained previously that these things weren't celebrated in Islam, while single I still send a token of remembrance to them on Mother's Day and Father's Day to soothe their hearts. May Allah forgive me for my error in this - ameen.

We sent letters to my parents explaining that we didn't need special days to commemorate our love and appreciation for them; every day was a testimony to that. We made a point to send them letters, gifts, and express our love throughout the year so they could see that they were always special and not feel that they were being ignored, just because we didn't share their holidays. We explained that the only gifts that would be accepted would be at neutral times of the year or on Eid.
My mother started noting down the Eid dates so she could send cards and gifts.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Polygyny...Just a Little Quran and Sunnah

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

Allah tells us in the Quran,
"And if you fear that you will not deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry those that please you of [other] women, two or three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one or those your right hand possesses. That is more suitable that you may not incline [to injustice]." (An-Nisaa’ 3:3). 
I hear so many people say that polygyny is not recommended in Islam, but it is permitted. How does that align with Allah's words? He, subhaana wa taala, didn't say, "Marry one woman of your choice, and if you can check off a list of requirements that she gives you and also be fair, then marry 2, 3, or 4."  Go ahead and look it up in Tafsir Ibn Kathir. So, to those who come with claims and opinions, I say to you, "Allah says what He means."

When it comes to practicing polygyny, there is much to be taken from our best example, Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam.) His wives had varying dowers. They were of varying ages, physical attributes, personalities, and personal situations. They were all provided with their own home within close proximity of the others. They used to meet together for a while in the home of whomever night it was each day. They had to treat each other with respect and kindness. He was kind, loving, patient, and fair with them all. He did housework. He ate whatever was available and never put his wives to trouble about special food. He was fair and firm with them when they erred. As per his example, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, his wives situations weren't worsened by him marrying others.*

However, we must bear in mind that they were living as simply as possible...quite the opposite of how we live today.

I cannot tell you how many times I think of this hadith.
Narrated Ibn Umar (radhi Allahu anhuma), "Once the Prophet (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) went to the house of Fatima (radhi Allahu anha) but did not enter it. Ali came and she told him about that. When Ali asked the Prophet (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) about it, he said, "I saw a multi-colored decorative curtain on her door. I am not interested in worldly things."  Ali (radhi Allahu anh) went to Fatima and told her about it. Fatima said, I am ready to dispense with it in the way he suggests. The Prophet (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) ordered her to send it to such and such needy people."
I look around our apartment and know that even though we have a much simpler home and belongings that the majority of our peers, the Prophet (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) would not want to enter. Our lives today are so far removed from what he enjoined, that a decorative curtain is an atom in the universe compared to the worldly things most of his Ummah have, accumulate, and covet.  AstaghfirAllah!

It is reported that Hafsah – Allâh be pleased with her – once said to her father (‘Umar, during his Caliphate):
Allâh has increased the provisions; if only you would eat better food than the food you eat now and wear softer clothes then those you wear now?! He said, “I will argue [against] you with your own self: Was not the condition of Allâh’s Messenger – praise and peace be upon him – such-and-such [when you were his wife]!?” He kept reminding her until she cried. He continued, “I have told you, by Allâh, I will share in their hard living (in this world, referring to The Prophet and Abû Bakr) so that I may partake in their good life (in Paradise).”
Hunâd b. Al-Sarî, Al-Zuhd article 687; Imâm Ahmad, Al-Zuhd article 201, et al. (1)
(1) Shaykh Abd Al-Rahmân Al-Farîwâ`î explains in his edition of Hunâd’s Al-Zuhd that this narration is sahîh if it is confirmed that Mus‘ab b. Sa’d heard it from Hafsah; otherwise its chain of transmission is mursal sahîh (i.e. it is authentic except there is a missing link between Mus’ab and Hafsah)
It is, for this reason, that I understand (yes, ME, personally, which has nothing to do with anyone else with a different opinion) that there is no success for us in polygyny until we let go of our own opinions and materialism. Specifically, in both monogamy and polygyny it isn't about having the bigger or more expensive home, the fancier decor, or the higher lifestyle. An increase in those those things just takes us further and further away from what our beloved example, our Prophet, approved of.

If both husbands and wives follow the words of the Quran and Prophet's example, all those personal criteria and opinions regarding how polygyny should be practiced, under what "rules", and by whom, will end up baseless dust.

We need to stop LIVING with Allah and His Messenger in our lives and start living our lives in worship of  ALLAH and gaining the approval of His Messenger.

*I have had someone named Nazia claim that I post without giving proof, but I don't know how I can write a blog post of any reasonable length and give all the hadith, quotes from the relevant books and seerah to support the things that I write. The things I write about are easily located in Tafsir Ibn Katheer, reputed books on the Seerah of the Prophet (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam), his wives (radhi Allahu anhunna), and major hadith collections. I don't write about obscure things, and if they are lesser known, then I include the proof.