Friday, December 27, 2013


Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

Exposure is a POWERFUL thing. It can cause dissatisfaction, greed, misery, materialism, divorce, corruption, and great haraam. However, handled with care and forethought, exposure is the key to positive outcomes, halal pursuits, and pleasure in the most simple things.

Part of the reason children like the things they do is simply due to exposure. If they are exposed to TV, music, video games, amusement parks, and shopping as forms of recreation, then they will be the things they choose from, along with the things they have seen through those media. You will find them constantly wanting the things they have seen advertised or in the shop windows. You will find them often inactive and considering Wii a viable form of sports.Rather than sit and talk face to face, they will communicate via the latest app, be it Whatsapp, Instagram or the ever present Facebook. Bad exposure results in parents hearing those awful words from their children, "I'm bored. There's nothing to do," because they always require entertainment from an external source.

However, when you expose your children to nature, playing in the park, making things out of mud, cooking, crafts, knitting, sewing, building things, growing things, physical activities and games, pretend role playing, and reading to learn about real people, places, and situations, you will find them choosing from those things as forms of recreation.The larger their repertoire of skills, abilities, intellectual and physical outlets, the more healthy, balanced, and competent they will be. Good exposure results in parents finding that their children are never bored; rather they don't have time to do all the different things they'd like to do.

When we were preparing for a trip to Makkah to meet up with my oldest friend and her family, my 7 and 10 year old daughters got out their knitting book and knitted a handbag and a phone cover for her youngest daughter - my namesake - Mai. They also knitted a purse for her older sister. We made them gifts of homemade coco-mint lip balm and honey and orange body bars. I baked them brownies. They don't think about having money to buy gifts for others, they think about what they can make - a gift made with love and thought and real effort on their part, maashaa Allah.

Exposure is something that can be done on a larger scale when socializing with other families, too. We went to the park and had knitting lessons. We had a monthly girls gathering where we cooked something healthy and delicious. We crafted rag rugs. We had theme nights where everyone dressed "prairie" and we cooked prairie food and learned about life back then for the pioneers.

I talk about my eating philosophy with friends and acquaintances, but it is never simply that. I feed them. I show them that you can eat halaal, tayyibaat, truly healthy and nutritious food that tastes wonderful, without compromise. I expose them to foods that are simple to make, so if they say they love them, I can give them the recipe and they can make it themselves easily with few ingredients.

Exposure is also da'wah. In sharing my thoughts and struggles publicly, I expose others to a positive approach to life's tests. I can expose them to better knowledge and understanding of Allah and His Perfection,  and how that can be applied in real-life situations, bi idhn Illah ta'ala.

So, consider the power of exposure, and seek not only to expose others to good and positive things, but also to ensure that you are being exposed to beneficial things... for this life and your ultimate success in the aakhirah inshaa Allah.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Parenting Posts

Bism Illah wa assalaamu alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

I have always posted my writing on parenting here, but in an effort to restructure and keep things relevant, I will be posting them on the Healing Earth blog from now on inshaa Allah. Raising our children is a key element in healing them, ourselves, and the earth. We must teach and model for our children how to heal themselves - which is only possible and successful through Allah, subhaana wa ta'ala, and His clear Guidance.

Therefore, the latest posts can be found over on Healing Earth blog, specifically:
Homeschooling and The Parenting "Nothing," and Some Healing Strategies for Children, bi'idhn Illah ta'ala.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Theme Ayah and Ayah of the Moment

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

You know how some shows and people have a theme song and how the words of a song might pop up in their minds when triggered by something? Well, audhu b'Illahi min dhaalik (I seek refuge with Allah from that)! However, I usually have a theme ayah or an ayah from the Qur'aan that fits the occasion. It stays with me and plays itself over and over in my mind and on my lips, maashaa Allah. These ayaat have different purposes at different times in my life. Sometimes they are a reflection of what is going on around me. Sometimes they are pure medicine for me. This is just one way that the Qur'aan is a part of my life and I make it a part of others' lives.

Some examples of this are:

- When I hear foolish, vain, or unpleasant speech, I recite ayah 35 from Surat an Naba:

لَّا يَسْمَعُونَ فِيهَا لَغْوًا وَلَا كِذَّابًا {35}

which reminds me that in Jennah we will not hear such things...and hopefully reminds those around me that such speech is not pleasing to Allah.

- When I hear someone reciting the Qur'aan very quickly, without care or in an attempt to just "get through it,"  I recite ayah 16 from Surat al Qiyamah:
 لَا تُحَرِّكْ بِهِ لِسَانَكَ لِتَعْجَلَ بِهِ {16}

 - When we discuss hypocrisy and insincerity, I recite ayaat 10-12 of Surat al-Qiyamah:

يَقُولُ الْإِنسَانُ يَوْمَئِذٍ أَيْنَ الْمَفَرُّ {10}كَلَّا لَا وَزَرَ {11} إِلَى رَبِّكَ يَوْمَئِذٍ الْمُسْتَقَرُّ {12}

- When I witness bad behavior, I simply recite ayah 38 from Surat al Muddathir: 
كُلُّ نَفْسٍ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ رَهِينَةٌ {38}

- When my patience is tested, I recite ayah 12 from Surat al Insan:

And as for a theme ayah, well this past month my heart and mind have been preoccupied with major issues that a sister who has a large piece of my heart is facing. All that I could keep reciting is ayah 3 from Surat At-Talaaq:

وَيَرْزُقْهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لَا يَحْتَسِبُ وَمَن يَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ فَهُوَ حَسْبُهُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بَالِغُ أَمْرِهِ قَدْ جَعَلَ اللَّهُ لِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدْرًا {3}
I recited it during my Umrah and it has been my theme ayah ever since. In fact, I recite it so much and it is such a visible medicine to me, that my daughters are now on the bandwagon reciting it around the house as well, maashaa Allah. 

And you know what? It enables me to cope with life with constant remembrance of Allah and models to my children how they can do so as well.  It feels great to make these connections, in my life and that of my children. It feels greatest to respond with Allah's perfect words, rather than my own. Al hamdul'Illahi Rabbil aal ameen!

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Bism Illah wa assalaamu alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

You know those flowers you see growing along the roadside or in the open fields? You look at them and think they grow naturally, without any human intervention or effort to keep them alive. They thrive in the most unlikely conditions, where other life forms don't thrive.

Sometimes we think of relationships in the same terms as those wildflowers. We think that they will thrive without any effort or maintenance on our part - naturally and in virtually any circumstances. The relationships most often viewed in this way are those of parent and child (from both sides), siblings (brothers and sisters), and spouses (husbands and wives), although it can happen in friendships and work situations as well.

However, those wildflowers cannot survive on nothing. They are not invincible; nor are they self sustaining. They require, at minimum, soil, water, and sunlight. Without those essential life-giving maintainers, they will die.

Do not take your relationships for granted and neglect them. Without sustenance they can suffer, and even die. Even the strongest and most resilient of them still needs nurturing. To this end, I recommend you revisit the posts, "Reach out Today" and "Make That Call." I needed the reminders, perhaps you do too.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Packing your 'Determination Suitcase'

Bism Illah wa assalaamu alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

So you have a goal, like pleasing Allah, for example. How are you going to reach that goal? Foremost, you need determination to reach any goal. Do not mistakenly think that if you want to please Allah, it is simply a matter of asking Allah to be pleased with you and not making an effort that requires determination. Allah clearly tells us that He does not change the condition of a people until they change themselves. You need to pull out your determination suitcase and make sure it is packed with all the necessary things to enable you to reach your goal. This is what I envisage the determination suitcase to contain:

Sincere desire to reach your goal - One of the conditions for any act to accepted by a Muslim is ikhlaas -  sincerely doing it for the pleasure of Allah, Alone.

Education - The second condition for any act to be accepted by a Muslim is that it conforms with what Allah has legislated in the Qur'aan and the Sunnah.

Strength of character - People may try to get in your way, dissuade you, or persuade you to follow your whims and desires rather that stick to your plan. Even worse, they may try to get you to follow their whims and desires, because they find you less "fun." You need to be strong enough to say, "No. I have a goal and I'm determined, with the Help and Permission of Allah, to reach it."

Energy - It requires energy: physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional to do the necessary things to reach your goal.

Ability - You must be able to do the thing. After all, if I want to go for Hajj, but I have no mahrem, no funds, or cannot get a visa, then I don't have the ability to meet that goal at that time.

Discipline - If you don't have discipline, then you may not educate yourself in a timely and effective manner or execute your plan.

Patience - Things don't happen overnight and it often takes considerable time and assiduous work to make notable progress.

Perseverance - You have to keep on trying, because pitfalls, hiccups, and set backs usually arise along the way and you just have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep on trucking.

It is important to ensure that we have all those critical components, and if some are missing, to work on them, develop and nurture them. Truly if one of the components is missing, we may not reach our goal...and pleasing Allah is the ONLY worthwhile goal of our lifetime.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Do Your Part

Bism Illah wa assalaamu alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

You know, by now, that I am always advising you to make Allah your first, second, and third port of call when trouble strikes and when blessings come. However, there is something very important to remember when calling upon Allah for Help and Guidance for the good. You must eliminate any barriers that may prevent Allah from answering your du'a.

There are things that prevent our du'a from being answered, and while many of you know them, it is always good to be reminded. So, make sure if you are asking Allah, that you are firmly upon at-tawheed, worshiping Allah alone. Ensure that you are not associating partners with Him in any way, as this is something many people get sucked into by shaytaan and don't realize they are doing. Make sure you are obeying him to your best ability, that your income is halal, and that you are not committing sins. Then think of the attributes of Allah that you particularly need in relation to what you are asking Him, and call on Him by those Names.

Just as in any relationship, there are two sides - there is give and take. Du'a is a two way street, so do your part!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Come on; lay it on me!

''Whoever shows you your faults, he is your friend. Those that pay you lip service in praise are your executioners.'' 
- Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (radhi Allahu anh)

I know I lack patience, especially when facing disobedience to Allah. I also know I am inefficient in managing my time these past few months. This has been the case since having the baby and changing the system so that I sit down for a few hours a day for Islamic studies with the children and also sit with them for their homeschooling. I may try to read Qur'an for a while or get some other reading, computer work, etc. done, but between a squirmingj crawling, and cruising baby and checking work, answering questions, etc. it can be very unproductive, often. Outside of those times, I am cooking - preparing breakfast, lunch, dinner and things that will particularly please my husband. I still haven't found a regular time slot for doing the laundry (by hand) , and when a moment presents itself, it often gets filled with breastfeeding or changing a nappy/diaper and keeping the baby in a safe, happy place. Keeping up communications with friends is almost non-existent amongst all the daily rush to keep my head above water.

Even though I know some of my faults, there will  always be some I don't realize or notice. I don't want them to slip though the cracks, I want someone who loves me for the sake of Allah to tell me. Pobody's nerfect, and we all need true friends who can recognize our faults, inform us of them, and help us correct them. That's why, when it comes to my faults, I say to my true friends, "Come on, lay it on me!"

My Ultimate Spa Day

Rode the VIP bus in cool, spacious comfort to the spa and ate an organic blueberry and cream cheese breakfast pastry. On arrival at the dazzlingly beautiful spa, I had a great workout where I let my thoughts go to all my blessings, those beloved to me, and our needs. Then, hot from the workout and a sauna, I had a cool, refreshing drink filled with benefit. Feeling rejuvenated, I had my hair trimmed and then sat and had a decaf cappuccino with an old and dear friend. I stayed in a hotel where I had a nice dinner, a hot shower, and could sleep knowing that the prayers done from dhuhr onwards had the reward of 100,000 each bi idhn Illah ta'ala.

A beautiful umrah, my ultimate spa day! Alhamdul'Illahi Rabb il aal ameen!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Fast forward two and a half months

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

Al hamdul'Illah, I am back after 13 weeks or more of absence. It has truly been a summer of experiences, learning, growth, connections, and affirmations. So often we don't know what we need, but Allah Knows.
Blue skies dabbed and brushed with clouds
This summer was spent connecting real time with a sister of like mind and heart, embarking on our first experiences setting up our homestead in New Mexico, being busy with daily pioneering life, fasting and keeping up with Ramadhaan studies, and being offline and out of touch (except for a phone) most of the time. For those who were looking forward to the answers to last year's Qur'aan challenge questions, my apologies. I was not able to post the answers because the solar generator we had for our energy needs had to be replaced due to a damaged connector and I was unable to use my laptop, where everything is stored. I will work on posting the answers in the coming weeks anyway, so they are finally there for you all inshaa Allah.While I am posting details of our summer progress and pioneering experience on the Healing Earth blog, my personal growth I will share with you here.
Fajr time

A double of several we saw
This summer I spent every day seeing the sky against a backdrop of rolling green hills. There was no obstruction, as I was outside the majority of the time and could see the sky through all its different phases of the day and night. I saw amazing sunrises, sunsets, cloud formations against blue skies, grey storms rolling in, rainbows - sometimes two at a time, electrical storms, absolutely picture perfect night skies with every constellation clearly visible, and multiple shooting stars, maashaa Allah. Every clear night, I looked up at Orion's Belt and the Big Dipper and wondered about all the other constellations I was seeing but couldn't identify. Every time I looked at that sky, I had a greater realization of the absolutely unfathomable power of Allah, subhaana wa taala. He paints a different sky for us every second of every day...and every sky is amazingly beautiful. How is it possible to have 60 different pictures of the sky to look at in each minute, 3600 different skies in each hour, 86,400 different skies in each day...for everyone all over this planet? This is just a tiny thing in the scope of Allah's Abilities, but something magnificent to witness.

Sunset before a storm

Sunset after a storm
I also looked forward to the tawakkal that such a life brings, and most certainly it was something that had a profound effect on my emaan and taqwa, al hamdul'Illah. Imagine arriving at land that was bought sight unseen and having to start a life from scratch. It requires a great deal of planning and work, but most of all a great deal of reliance on Allah's blessings, mercy, provision, and sustenance. Everything feels immediately connected to your actions, the purity of your intentions,and your acknowledgement of Allah's Power and Might. We felt the depth and weight of saying "bism Illah" when planting 24 fruit trees, 12 fruit bushes, 4 grape vines, bamboo, and a small vegetable patch. We understood, to the very pit of our stomachs, that not one of those plants we needed for our own sustenance would live and thrive without Allah's Will. We made dua' acknowledging that only Allah grows things, so please grow our things and we made istighfar far more than we would normally have remembered to. Al hamdul'Illah.
A velvet backdrop of night sky

After a Ramadhaan that was far more busy and distracted than my previous couple of years, I found that my appreciation of and connection with Allah was greater on other levels. I found myself realizing how true it was that Allah is the provider of EVERY need. We needed water, Allah provided. We needed rain, Allah provided. We needed sunshine to cook and for the plants, Allah provided. We needed wind to dry the clothes and keep the temperatures cool, Allah provided. We needed support and assistance to get things accomplished, Allah provided. Not a stone unturned, not a need left without response.
Setting sun and our family in shadows

SO, I ask Allah to bless you all and reward you for your patience with me. I'm glad to be back, al hamdul'Illah.

Friday, June 14, 2013

This and that before I walk out the door...

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

Yes, I know I've missed May posting and I'm late posting for June...sorry, sorry, sorry! Life is on spin cycle and I'm dizzy from it all,  al hamdul'Illah.

We are preparing for our summer, and it is BIG preparation maashaa Allah. We are flying early tomorrow (June 14th) morning from Madinah to Kansas City, Missouri to attend the conference, Teaching our Children Tawheed, sponsored by Masjid Anas bin Malik inshaa Allah. If anyone is near enough to attend or is already planning to attend, we look forward to meeting you there.

We will be going to our land, Healing Earth, to spend two months developing it. On the list of thongs to do:
- get a well drilled
- plant thousands of seeds for privacy borders, trees, food forests, and landscaping
- build a cob oven
- build wooden toilet and shower facilities
- establish the foundation for the masjid
- build a playground for the children
- and anything else we can manage to get done, bi ithn Illah.

We will be spending Ramadhaan in large, all-weather, canvas tents, eating futoors of stew cooked in cast iron pots on campfires or rocket stoves. It is a very exciting prospect for us, maashaa Allah. Look for photos and progress reports in the coming weeks over on the Healing Earth blog inshaa Allah.

Now, on to a few things I want to share with you all before I fly off.

What's in your teardrop?

Sometimes watching others cry can trigger little revelations in my mind. I found myself considering what is in teardrops. Not the technical composition of NA and H2O - salt and water,  but what emotions, reasons, causes, and ultimately what benefits are in a person's teardrops.

Because I don't have time, I will refer you to the post "Laughter and Tears," where I explored the reasons for my tears...and I pray that Allah blesses us all with the insight and emaan to make our tears solely for Him - ameen.


Found this and have been reflecting on it's simplicity and accuracy ever since. May Allah rectify us all in this life, before it is too late - ameen!

Al-Hakeem al-Tirmidhi said:

صلاح خمسة في خمسة صلاح الصبي في المكتب وصلاح الفتى في العلم وصلاح الكهل في المسجد وصلاح المرأة في البيت وصلاح المؤذي في السجن

The rectitude of five lie in five: The rectitude of a child lies in the study-room. The rectitude of a youth lies in (seeking and acquiring) knowledge. The rectitude of the mature, middle-aged man lies in the masjid. The rectitude of a woman is in her house. And the rectitude of one who harms others is in the prison.

Al-Siyar of al-Dhahabi (13/441).



If you are looking for homeschooling resources that aren't just like watching TV, then we have found these to be excellent., From these two sites you will see other links for some excellent vocabulary lessons and basic US geography. It has a complete math curriculum by grade, maashaa Allah.

I have just one and a half hours before we fly, so I will leave it at that...please forgive me for my shortcomings and inshaa Allah, look out for posts over the summer. I will try to post the answers to the Ramadhaan questions I gave last year, so perhaps you can take up the challenge again?

Barak Allahu feekum!


Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Magic Words

As salaamu alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

I stood in the kitchen trying to open a new jar of organic date syrup, and struggle as I might, it would not open. I exclaimed "subhaan Allah!" as my finger joints felt like they were going to be dislocated from struggling with the jar lid. Then I applied heat to expand the metal, and so touched the hot metal to add to the mix. Then some calm came over me. I simply said, "b'ism Illah" (in the name of Allah) and that jar opened in a second. I was struggling with something that, as soon as I simply acknowledged Allah and made the effort in His name, became as easy as pie. I reflected on how shaytaan was having his way with me by encouraging me to think of things in light of my abilities and strength or how much I put into them, when truly what must precede all that is WHO enables me to do any action. It's amazing how I can say it every time I eat and other fixed times, but for seemingly mundane things, I let shaytaan get the better of me. I have, since then, opened a few other jars with a bism'Illah right up front, with no problems or struggle whatsoever. Now I'm reminded and re-motivated to say the magic words,
"b'ism Illah."

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Our Planet: Amaanah, Sin, and Istighfar

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaikum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuh.

This worldly life can be heavy for the believer. Heavy because he must bear the weight of being surrounded by evils and making choices between one evil or another, for there is no escape from them. In considering the world we live in today, there is very little that we can do without being accountable for a certain amount of sin. This may sound far-fetched, but I ask you to think with me here. This earth is an amaanah - a trust from Allah - and chemicals, plastics, petroleum products, the burning of fossil fuels, the manufacturing of goods, and the use of those goods all contribute to its ruin and destruction.

There is virtually nothing we can do today that doesn't cause some harm to the earth. This is all part of shaytaan's long-term machinations and mankind is now trapped by its own foolishness of listening to his whispers over the centuries. Today, the computer I type on is made up of plastics, all manner of chemicals, is manufactured and packaged in a way that causes industrial waste, and is shipped out to locations causing pollution and a depletion of non-renewable resources. Of course, the computer saves numerous resources as well, as we I can read books on it rather than them being printed and shipped. However, when it is obsolete, it ends up in a buried in a landfill, contaminating the ground water or, as many are, burned by poor Chinese people who are poisoned by the dioxin it emits.

The books I order are printed on paper from trees that are all part of a huge deforestation crisis. The printing process, from machinery to ink and glossy covers, causes industrial and environmental waste. The shipping of the book, yet again, uses some form of transportation that, in it's very production, is poisoning the earth, and the use of which causes pollution and depletion of non-renewable resources. The clothing we buy is either made of synthetic materials that are chemical polluters and poisoners of the earth, or natural fibers that are usually dyed with synthetic dyes that pollute our water systems. They are mass produced in factories that, in their own construction are toxic. They use vast amounts of energy, health and earth destroying machinery, and the same issues of packaging, shipping, and selling in huge stores - yet another earth enemy.

Many of us try our best to reduce, reuse, and recycle. We stick to natural materials, that come from the earth and can return to it simply enriching it again, rather than poisoning it. However, in day to day choices, there is always an element of sin. Even in making choices to eat organic foods, or use chemical-free products in our homes, we still play a part in ruining the earth because the packaging is toxic to the earth, the processing plant produces industrial waste, non-renewable resources are used for it to be shipped out to the shops who sell it....oh the list goes on and on.

If you follow just one item from production to when it lands in your home, you will find a trail of destruction that may well astound you. However, this awareness is important, as it is a part of taqwa to have knowledge and make informed, Allah-conscious decisions.We need to be aware that whatever decisions we make, there is an element of istighfar (forgiveness seeking) required, because we break our Amanah with Allah, in nearly everything we do.

Everything that we were given regarding our deen is complete. The lifestyle of the Salaf respected the amanah placed on humans in respect to their own bodies and the earth they were given to live on. So, I started considering what it would entail to live without ruining ourselves or the earth at all. It would mean the elimination of just about every industrialization since Victorian times. That would include the advent of all man-made chemicals including fertilizers, cloth dyes, synthetic medicines, plastics, and the foods that have been stripped of nutrition or are tainted with pesticides, growth hormones, etc.

When we speak of living mindfully, trying to uphold the amanah Allah has placed in us as Muslims, do we really think about living at one with the earth and benefiting from it, while also benefiting it? For many of the life choices we make, due to the stage of ruin our world is in, we simply have to choose between the various evils Do I take the blame for whatever harm is incurred to the environment because gaining knowledge ('ilm) is more important? If so, how can I minimize the sin I carry? Is it better to get the e-book and save a tree or save the energy used for the computer and get the book, which will eventually return to the earth?

The Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, made istighfar over 70 times in just an hour's talk with his companions, radhi Allahu anhum. Inshaa'Allah. With more thought and consideration, we should make more istighfar, for the things we know and the things we don't, for the things we can control and for those we cannot as a consequence of our actions. Truly, with a sincere heart (ikhlaas) and total reliance and calling upon Allah (tawakkal and asking for guidance) all will be based on our mindfulness and intentions.

AstaghfirAllah wa atoobu ilayh wal hamdul'Illahi Rabb il aal Ameen.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Looking for Better?

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

"If only I were in a better environment, I'd be able to practice my deen better."
"I need to escape the fitnah around me, so my emaan can get better."
"I need to move to a better Muslim community so I can get myself straight."
"Living in a Muslim country will help me be a better Muslim."

All these statements, and others similar to them, essentially give reasons for compromised obedience to Allah. Often human beings will attribute their personal state to their surroundings, which admittedly has some effect and influence on them. However, when it comes to their state of emaan and taqwa, will the physical environment change their situation? It might or it might not, because the change can really only come from themselves. What has to change before you make a physical change of location, is you. If obedience to Allah is not made impossible by your surroundings, then who can you really blame? If your weaknesses and shortcomings get the better of you in one environment, what makes you think a different one will change that or erase them unless you make tawbah and have a change of heart?

Look at our role models when it comes to examples to compare your situation with. Prophet Nuh, alayhi salaam, spent over 900 years worshiping Allah and calling the people who were upon shirk to return to tawheed. Did he have a good environment, free of fitnah, or a strong Muslim community? Not at all. The same can be said for the majority of prophets and messengers, who all went to places where it was a struggle against the majority to practice Islam.

What I have learned is that it is all inside you...because emaan and taqwa are things that grow inside you and are nurtured or destroyed by you. It is in the approach, in how you let things influence and mold you, that you can find better.

I lived in Bahrain for 16 years, during which time I watched as it became increasingly westernized and the people more disobedient to Allah, subhaana wa taala. They have the adhaan calling five times a day, masaajid within walking distance for most, resources for seeking knowledge, and ease in practicing Islam and yet the majority do not. How did that affect me? It pushed me the other way. Through the discrepancies and inconsistent practice, I became curious about what Islam was about - what they should be doing. In learning, I ended up embracing Islam in all its perfection. As I saw the destruction of Islamic morals and lifestyle, I realized firsthand what dangers and ruin lie in being enamored with the West. I saw the deterioration when a family, which never previously permitted television, fiction, and computer use let them into their lives. I learned lessons, by seeing the effects over those 16 years, that would never have been internalized with a simple warning.

I lived in Reading, Pennsylvania for 7 years before coming to Madinah, surrounded by the fitnah of people living a life filled with immorality and nakedness, music, entertainment , alcohol, smoking, and drug addictions, and ignorance. What did that environment do for me? It made me realize why we are told not to imitate the unbelievers, Christians, and Jews. It made me hate the idea of looking like the women on the street in dress, speech, hairstyle, or manner. It made me realize that the constant need for music was not just an enjoyment, it was a god for many of them. All that fitnah made me a better Muslimah and gave me excellent opportunities to teach my children from the examples and shameful mess around us.

Ibn ul Qayyim (raheemahullah) related that Ibn Taymiyyah (raheemahullah) said, when his enemies plotted to kill him or imprison him: 
 "If they kill me, it will be martyrdom for me. If they expel me, it will be migration for me;  if they expel me to Cyprus, I will call it's people to Allah so they answer me. If they imprison me , it will be a place of worship for me."

He had total reliance on Allah (tawakkal) and Allah, in turn, guided him to see the blessing and opportunity in every situation he could face. 

So, if you are looking for better, look inside yourself. Emaan increases with obedience to Allah, as Allah says in Surat al Anfal, ayah 2:
"The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned their hearts tremble with fear, and when His verses are recited to them, it increases their emaan, and they put their reliance upon their Lord."
Life is what you make it, and so is your emaan, birr, and taqwa.