Falling leaves

falling leaves

Let your worries fall away
Like leaves gently swaying
And gracefully fluttering down
Not a ripple, not a tear
But a sight pleasing to the eye
And sounds pleasing to the ear

Quiet solitude in nature
Calms the soul
Lulls the mind

I wonder how
A little green spot
Away from the world
Is just like a zen like space
In a noisy head

Blessed is he who finds it

To Him we return

inna-lillahi

Verily, to Him we belong and verily, to Him we return (Qur’an 2:156)

It took me a while to understand what this little phrase means and why it helps us to move on after suffering a loss.

The feeling of belonging becomes more ingrained in us the longer we are in duniya. It is essential to remind ourselves that if there is indeed anything that belongs to anyone then it is us and we belong to Allah and Him alone. Once we realize this fact and understand the temporary nature of our existence, everything comes into perspective. When we lose something of value (or someone), we must remind ourselves once again that we must move on to complete our assigned tasks in duniya and then return to Him, without the person or thing you lost.

Keep it real [Beauty]


I’m all for embracing your natural hair and your natural eyebrows. No falsies, keep it real. That says something about your personality. That you don’t need to buckle down to others’ definition of beauty. Your looks don’t define you, your attitude does.

I think well-groomed does not translate to “etch a sketch” eyebrows. For example, Lilly Collin’s eyebrows are a style statement in itself. Go figure.

For peace of mind…Do this!

I read up on what one can do for peace of mind in Islam. I remember my dad used to talk about these amazing verses from the Holy Quran which basically asks you to put full your faith and trust in Allah, and accept Him as the best Helper, best Manager of affairs and best of Protectors. A very good reminder indeed.

1. He alone is our Guardian and Protector.

Try to recite the following words abundantly, keeping in mind, the meaning of what you recite.

Hasbunallahu wa ni’mal-wakeel
Allah is sufficient for us and is the best one to put trust in

Neymal moula wa neyamun naseer
He is the best of the Masters, He is the best of helpers.

2. In the remembrance of Allah, hearts find rest.

Remembrance signifies many things….it’s called dhikr in arabic. It signifies reciting certain words, or one of Allah’s names, that help the mind focus and bring peace to the heart. Words like the one mentioned in point 1.

I believe the mind (presence of mind or conscience) is located in the heart. The brain is the direct connection to this body. The heart is the direct connection to the soul. So doing things that strengthens the heart and will power, gives strength to the human soul and hence brings about inner peace. Examples of this would be fasting the whole month of Ramadhan, giving charity regularly, etc. Things that go against the natural self (Fitrah in arabic), causes imbalance, disturbances, discomfort and hence restlessness in the soul. Examples of going against the soul, is like ignoring the truth, or neglecting the poor, or not reacting to an opportunity to help someone, not being kind or selfless, assuming that there is no purpose in this life, or that there is no God, stuff like that. The more we try to achieve our true self, our fitrah, the more peaceful we get. This philosophy is practiced by many religions. Meditation, remembrance, yoga, etc. It has to be done regularly and persistently to gain the benefits.

“Those who believe, and whose hearts find their rest in the remembrance of Allah–for, verily, in the remembrance of Allah hearts do find their rest.” [Quran 13:28]

3. Do the ‘Sajda”. Surrender.

Almost all religions recommend this posture. That is the physical act of worship where you completely surrender to Allah by bowing down. Doing it regularly and often reinforces the fact in our mind that we are not in control of anything, to realize that we are ‘owned’ or manufactured by the Creator. Nothing belongs to us. No one belongs to us. We all belong to Him. And that we have been put here on earth for a purpose. Everything that happens to us is a test. All the series of events in our life and those around us have a purpose and divine wisdom in it. So do the Sajda. Do it as part of the five daily formal prayers or Salah or Namaz. Do it simply. FYI, Informal prayer or dua is reaching out to him anywhere, anytime anyway you like. Both are recommended.

4. Recite, Recite, Recite.

Reading the Quran, and pondering over its meanings is another form of soul-food. Another sentence in the Quran, (which I keep telling myself too) is that “There is no soul which is given more than it can bear.” (Quran 2: 286) I think, I’ve mentioned this before. Lots of sentences full of wisdom found in there. With so many distractions today, I think a major part of our ability to focus has been hurt. We need to work on establishing a no-distraction time to read the Quran. So switch off your phones and start reading a little bit everyday! Inshallah.

Marry Miss Universe?

This ad which is plastered all over malls and billboards saying “Marry Miss Universe or Stay Single” is completely offensive and gives an extremely negative message to today’s girls and boys. In today’s highly sexualised environment, girls are under tremendous pressure to look good and being told that they should be nothing short of aiming to be like Miss Universe is such a perverse statement. Classic example of misogynous world we live in.

If a boy is with someone who is less attractive than a model, thinks that it’s his right to ditch them as he wishes. The message is to stay single, anyone who does not look like miss universe can be dumped. It’s a heartless tasteless ad. And anyone in their right sensibilities should be careful to what message their ads convey to the young impressionable generation.

The Joy of Home Cooking

Most of us have grown up in houses where food was lovingly prepared at home. Of course, we would eat out sometimes, creating a bustling chaos at home before heading to our favourite restaurant. Eating out was not a frequent activity for most of us.

How many of us cook regularly at home using fresh wholesome healthy produce? And how many times have you grabbed a burger on the go, or order in pizza or takeaway from that nearby Chinese joint. I don’t like the number you’re thinking of.

Now, listen up. I’m not against eating out or having a McD once in a while. All I want to share with you, my brothers and sisters, is simply this….take a good look at what you put in your mouths and what you feed your families everyday. Is it halal? Is it tayyib (good)? Is it wholesome? Was it prepared with love? Or is it simply processed, refined, filled with preservatives, additives, color, and other crazy stuff that only has a chemical compound for a name. We read about it all the time, hormones and antibiotics injected into diary produce, genetically modified poultry, pesticides and chemicals all around. It’s a crazy confusing world – the food industry.

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Sahih International: O you who have believed, eat from the good things which We have provided for you and be grateful to Allah if it is [indeed] Him that you worship.

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Sahih International: And eat of what Allah has provided for you [which is] lawful and good. And fear Allah, in whom you are believers.

Almost everything that we buy from the supermarket can be easily prepared at home. Try baking your own cookies with homemade butter. Make your own dips to go with healthy snacking options like carrots (I spent half my childhood with my head in the fridge’s vegetable compartment) or homemade bread sticks. Instead of reaching out for those easy instant soup mixes, make your own. Instant pudding mix? Please! Do you have any idea how simple it is to make pudding? We make our own homemade yoghurt everyday, Alhamdullilah!! Trust me, it will become second nature once you start enjoying the baraka’h (blessings) and benefits of home cooked food.

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Sahih International: And He it is who causes gardens to grow, [both] trellised and untrellised, and palm trees and crops of different [kinds of] food and olives and pomegranates, similar and dissimilar. Eat of [each of] its fruit when it yields and give its due [zakah] on the day of its harvest. And be not excessive. Indeed, He does not like those who commit excess.

Truly, very little effort is required to go about doing this and the reward you get for ensuring that you and your family eat healthy will be multiplied, Inshallah. You’ll soon love to cook everyday and opt for wholesome healthier snacks.

Here are ways you can achieve the desired goodness:

  1. Make dua to Allah to help us start making positive changes, one by one.
  2. Stock up your pantry with good wholesome ingredients and fresh produce from the local farmer’s market.
  3. Resist the temptation to buy all those instant mix, microwave and ready to eat, cookies and cakes and see what you can whip up at home
  4. A little bit of planning, a little bit of good sensible shopping and making a few preparations for the week ahead goes a long long way. (It used to be take some effort in the beginning to plan ahead but now it has become second nature.)
  5. Make breakfast your priority and try to get most of your vegetable servings right in the morning with your favorite bread, roti or qubz.
  6. Keep a handful of nuts in your desk at your workplace to help you curb any un-toward cravings!!

If we really want to be productive, we need to put some thought and effort into our food. Alhamdulillah, now it’s effortless for me to whip up healthier options at home in no time. And with whatever is available in my pantry. Of course, I do reach out for that cookie (sometimes more than one), I do eat out and I do the quick mix stuff too. But the point is, it doesn’t happen too often.

Experience the joy of home cooking and watch your energy levels shoot up, productivity leap and get sick less often. Lead an active lifestyle, exercise, eat good food and notice the clarity in thought and action that will kick in, Inshallah. May Allah give us the strength and will power to make good choices in what goes into our kitchens and on to our plates.

Balance and love

An article on feminism that appeared on MuslimMatters by Hebah Ahmed was a very interesting read. In response, my comment was as follows:

Pls click here for the article before proceeding to my response.

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Assalamualaikum,

A thought provoking article indeed. I went through a similar inner turmoil for years, wondering why our mothers used to do so much, until I got married. We’ve always been told about women’s rights in islam, that we don’t need to do much except look after the husband, the children and the house. As women, we had minimal responsibility and more benefits, provided we fulfill the minimum requirement of being a good companion to our husbands.

But when it came to reality, I saw two extremes. One set of women grew up the traditional way, where it was simply expected of them to do everything around the house. In some cultures, it was unquestionable to expect the men to help around the house. The other set of women were growing up assuming that the 1st set was completely off-track and when they do get married, they would assert the fact that they din’t need to do much. Sadly, while our parents’ marriages did last in spite of the cultural perception of do-it-all women, the others din’t. I am not supporting either of them. Although a minority, this generation of women would not cook, clean, change diapers or make any effort to honour and serve the parents on both sides. I’ve seen the way some husbands go all out to provide servants, (who get kicked out quickly), himself cleans cooks feeds bathes children and goes out to work only to return home to a truckload of complains and sour faces. Neither the wife is happy, nor is the husband.

The challenge resides in balance and being realistic.

Alhamdulillah, there is another thought process amongst our sisters that will not only ensure a happy marriage but also reap up rewards in the akhirah.

What I have come to realise is that islam does have minimum expectations from us, the least is to be a good companion. However, we need to understand this. When your husband returns home and you serve him a cold refreshing drink, what do you get? When you prepare a meal for him, what do you get? When you make do with whatever servant is available, or if not available, you do the chores yourself, what do you get? Or you divide the chores and help your husband do his chores. Or if he doesn’t do his share sometimes, you let it go and still be loving to him. What do you get? You spend a few days serving his family and taking care of their needs. What do you get? Girls, all this is Sadaqah!!! If you’re doing it for the sake of Allah, even if you don’t have to…..you get rewards. That’s what you’ll get. Whole lot of rewards, Inshallah. Our mothers will be blessed for all that they did. Inshallah.

Remember that Prophet Muhammed SAW said, “There is a (compulsory) sadaqah (charity) to be given for every joint of the human body (as a sign of gratitude to Allah everyday the sun rises. To judge justly between two persons is regarded as sadaqah; and to help a man concerning his riding animal, by helping him to mount it or by lifting his luggage on to it, is also regarded as sadaqah; and (saying) a good word is also sadaqah; and every step taken on one’s way to offer the compulsory prayer (in the mosque) is also sadaqah; and to remove a harmful thing from the way is also sadaqah.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

None of us can ever be sure that we will be accepted by Allah SWT. When we are so willing to go the extra mile to study and get good marks and that degree, or to lose weight, when we’re ready to do that extra bit to get something in duniya….what’s the big deal in doing extra for your akhirah?? Look at it as an opportunity to reap sawaab and an opportunity to win the ticket to Jannah. And be grateful to your husbands for whatever help they give you in your household work. If he’s doing a wee bit more than his dad ever did for his mom, be grateful. It’s a slow process, a jihad to change the perceptions of people towards women. We can teach our sons to appreciate all that women do for their households for the sake of Allah. Inspire them to be like our beloved Muhammed (Peace be upon him), Inshallah.

So first things first, we need to change our outlook on life and be realistic. Trying to make our men be more like our Prophet SAW is a gradual process spanning many generations to come. Our Prophet SAW advised the women to be grateful to their husbands. So while our muslim brothers are overcoming their struggle with culture vs islam and doing more that their fathers ever did, appreciate it. In the meantime, we need to deal with cultural perceptions of women by teaching our children by example and, utilise every opportunity to gain rewards today.

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Jazak Allahu Khair for your very insightful comments. I agree with everything you have said. Allah tests each person with their own conflicts and for some women, it is in their husbands. The key is to focus on the positives and use wisdom in changing the negatives.

For both men and women, there are some things that simply cannot be changed in a spouse. The test then becomes to submit to the relationship by accepting your spouse as they are without trying to change them or resent them. Sometimes this approach leads to the desired change and other times, the mere peace that is felt by no longer struggling against your spouses’ characteristics makes the marriage better.

The real lesson in this article is to look forward and see how we can raise a generation of sunnah followers who work to ease the lives of their spouses Insha Allah.

I ask Allah to give peace and ease to all my Muslim brothers and sisters.

New Year’s Eve – What’s your dua?

 

Well new year’s eve is here. Just back from a family dinner and some last minute shopping before I travel back home InshAllah in two day’s time. Our cashier was a young Palestinian man, called Ayham, and my thoughts go out to the palestini people. What can they do, really?

The night sky of Dubai today was thick with a gloomy fog dampening the spirits of the new year hopefuls who wanted to celebrate in spite of the government’s decision to tone down this year’s parties and celebrations. Don’t blame them, why would anyone else be bothered about this dying community. Everyone has their own problems. Some lost their jobs, some lost their homes, some lost their lives and their children….

This new year’s eve, what I feel is, anger. As though the blockade for medical supplies or food (or anything for that matter) into Gaza was not enough, killing 400+ people and mutilating hundreds is their way of wishing a happy new year. Just minus the Palestinian people. Arab League wants UN to condemn Israeli attacks. What? That’s it. Good move, chumps. Diplomatic, you call it? Not working. Protests on streets haven’t helped either. They don’t want to stop the war on gaza, they’ll kill and kill until everyone forgets how they occupied Palestine in 1967. Hundreds of people are standing united on the streets of Ramalla with candles, right now calling us, the international community for help.

For tonight, my heart and my thoughts are with the Palestinian people, the children, the mothers, the injured, those who have lost hope, and those who have been oppressed to an incredible degree. My prayers and my duas are for you. This new year’s eve, I pray for peace and stability for the oppressed, I pray that the Arab nations unite and fight the oppressors, I pray that we, as individuals try to help them in anyway we can.

Peace



A simple phrase, yet, such profound meaning in our lives. Peace.

Peace…

The simple sense of tranquility and soundness experienced in our body and soul, when everything feels just right.

So serene. So calm. The word peace itself has a warm calming effect on my mind.

When you are in the moment….

when you are completely at ease….

with yourself and your surroundings.

A flutter of a butterfly’s wings,

The twitter of a bird on the porch,

The calm morning slowly lifting the sleepiness of the night

The peace you feel early in the morning.

The peace you feel in the arms of the one you love.

Its an amazing feeling…to be stationary, to be peaceful and watch everyone and everything from this perspective. Like a bird, from a mountaintop, perched gently among the mist…and gazing at the world. The hurry, the military behavior, the routine, frozen in a slot of time, created by man, for man…..running to keep up. In pursuit of a perfect life.

A perfect life….is a perfect lie.
Because life is temporary. Ain’t it? :)

Peace be upon you all.

 

Living as a minority….

Recently, I came across a lecture and it addressed some crucial issues very relevant to me I am truly grateful and happy about the decisions I made. No regrets. I have the best family, a very supportive husband and Alhamdulillah a very comfortable lifestyle containing all that I need to be a happy fulfilled Muslimah. (I always tell myself that I got the ticket to Jannat right here at home) However, there were a few minor adjustments I had to make moving from a developed Islamic state to a developing non-islamic nation.

Listening to this lecture made me feel really good. Why? Because the speaker was the first person to acknowledge how I felt. He claimed that, if you are living as a minority in a place governed by an unislamic institution and are actually happy with the way things are, then there’s something wrong with you. I, for a start, am quite frustrated about certain issues here. Living as a minority in an unislamic environment is a natural recipe for dissatisfaction for a Muslimah. It is true that Emaan does not necessarily get cultivated in an individual just because he/she was brought up in such and such Islamic place. With respect to the strength of one’s emaan, it doesn’t matter where you live and under what circumstances. The best example being of the Sahabah (peace be upon them) who were tested time and again, in the most grueling pre-islamic times.

However, I can assert the fact that practicing my religion in an Islamic nation was definitely much easier as compared to now. I realize that this is one of my test, as promised by Allah.

“Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: ‘We believe,’ and will not be tested.” (Quran 29:2)

If we claim to be a true Muslim, then naturally, we must be prepared to give the test, to tighten our belts, because, Islam is not the religion of the weak hearted.

There are quite a few active Muslims who, Mashallah, are doing real good work in India. I have seen some really impressive islamically active Muslims in a few cities in India & Pakistan who have a vision and are contributing in however small ways they can for the community. However, the plight of women in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, seems to be really disheartening. I have sadly seen very few women who participate in social, economic or any kind of services for the betterment of the Ummah. However we do see some Muslim women folk who have sadly become superstitious, believing in strange concepts due to lack of involvement in the community and learning avenues. And the other way around, on the extreme side, we have overly fashion crazy, trendy, stylised muslimah sisters who are always found in the malls shopping, shopping and only shopping.

One of the issues that needs to be addressed is the shortage for avenues for women to pray while travelling.. This is mostly due to lack of funds and support from the government and the community to build and sustain exclusive wash areas and prayer rooms for women in masjids. Unlike most Islamic cities in the middle east and elsewhere, most of the local Muslim community is struggling to make ends meet, and worrying about the plight of women in the community is sadly, least of their worries. However, kudos to those masjids in Mumbai, Delhi and few other places here who do have facilities and learning centres for women and children. The truth is…..you cannot clap with one hand. And we can’t blame others for our state as well. There is a general disinterest from indian muslimahs to go to the masjid and be more involved in community work due to social stigmas and imaginary fears. I say imaginary, because initially it seemed to me that its the men who push the women out. And so I tested that concept. Several times. I simply walked in and prayed in the last row. I found none hostile and no one stops you.

So it boils down to us. If we really wanted to, we would have actively participated in the community and have a place in the masjid. Alhamdulillah, in the middle east, we had the government funding and maintaining women’s sections in the masajid. I had a lifestyle which involved considerable traveling while I was working or studying. No issues to pray anywhere, be it an airport, mall, university or a masjid at the end of a block, or anywhere else – UK, Singapore, Malaysia, the middle east. I was able to squeeze a number of activities into my daily routine and at the time of prayer, life would slow down as soon as I enter a masjid, stand toe-to-toe and shoulder-to-shoulder with my Muslim sisters. It was an environment where I used to thrive. Feel alive and happy. Achieve, study, work, meet people, shop, learn, family picnics, swimming, running, traveling… the world was mine…..

I look at all these women outside during prayer times in India…all covered head to toe….but they miss their prayers without a care in the world. I really wish to ask if they think praying doesn’t apply to them. The frustrating part is that I have met so few (sisters in India) who are bothered the slightest about this issue. It may seem insignificant, and small, but we fail to realize the importance of grooming intelligent Muslim women in our community.

An intelligent islamically active mother is THE factor who gives birth to an intelligent progressive Muslim nation. The women in our beloved Prophet SAW were actively involved in almost all aspects of Islamic activities. Whoever heard of them being restricted to the kitchen? No! They were well-versed with Islam, Seerah, educated, intelligent, strong women who brought out the best of the Ummah, strong hearted, not afraid of anyone but Allah. We had scholars, teachers, scientists, entrepreneurs, business men, leaders, military officials, world class Imams, all striving for the sake of Allah. So why are our sons and daughters not doing so well? Well, Intelligent strong women will bring out intelligent and strong progeny. Study the Seerah of our Prophet Muhammad SAW. Look at the number of noteworthy women during his time and of the Sahaba (Peace be upon them all). It is Sunnah to have an entrance and separate facility for ablution for women in masaajid. Women even attended the Jumuah Khutba in masaajid, asked questions to the Imams themselves, were involved in Madrasas and innumerable things. I’m not saying do not pray at home. Pray at home, in your bedroom, because that’s where we reap the maximum sawab. I’m just saying as Muslim women, its our responsibility to bring this issue out in the open and educate people. If funds are collected for construction of masjids, why the fear to make them sunnah compliant? Let us go a step further and make them accessible to women. Moral degeneration you say? Well, I say, trust the word of the Rasool of Allah SAW when he asked us not to stop the women from entering masajid. Pre-islamic times were as bad as the times now. Assert hijab, modesty, and enforce discipline. Are we too weak to do that?

Ever wondered why crazy women like Amina Wadood are coming up around the world? The same reason why terrorists spring up. Suppress rights, oppress people, ignore Sunnah and in return what do you get? Extremist groups, committing unislamic, despicable acts, apparently to bring attention towards injustice, not to mention the bad name given to the Ummah, thanks to these ding-dongs.

Don’t you see what is happening now? Our women have degenerated into mindless machines. Just attending big functions and marriages loaded up with gold, Hijabs vanish away for occasions such as these and tongues wag freely with all the gossip of the world not to mention the extent to which they are steeped in superstitions. Too much make up? Oh you’re in trouble. Too less makeup! Guess what? Trouble again. Gossipy gals are not going to leave you alone. And to think that these are the very women who are our mothers, sisters, wives and would-be-mothers of the next generation.

And do you not see the men of today in the subcontinent. Do they gossip??!! Oh yeah!!! Do you see many in media, the like of Zakir Naik? No! (Oh, never mind the never-ending fatwa generating Maulana’s issuing sacred Fatwas left right and center on absolutely anything and everything!!! That’s an entire different topic, the sanctity of Issuing Fatwas) Technology? No! Leaders? Not many. Politically savvy, exceptional intellectual imams who can lead the Ummah??? NO!!!!! Entrepreneurs, like some of our Sahaba? A handful. Are they giving proper rights to their wives? Sharing the burdens the way our Prophet (peace be upon him) used to do? No way!!! Few unconventional Indian men exist here who do. It’s a mindset here that men are not to go anywhere near the kitchen. Who cares if his wife is juggling three kids and running the whole house? “It’s her job!” they say. You’re expected to be a complete package – a great cook, a model, working professional, a mechanic, a plumber, a maid, a nanny, caretaker, homemaker, and gardener, all in one, tailor and everything in between. Don’t even get me started on the tarbiyyat the would-be-brides get from their moms and the cursed dowry system still prevalent here. I’ve never seen dowry being given to the groom anywhere else. The Arab world, Singapore, Malaysia and other places all have their boys working hard to equip themselves with sufficient finances and assets so that they can afford to start a family. Muslims in the subcontinent see girls as a burden, why? Because when she gets married, they apparently HAVE to gift a pre-specified list of items for the couple! Forgive me, as I myself did not escape easily from an issue like this but I was successful in averting some major ones with my husband’s help Alhamdulillah. So it’s a start. I mean, yes accept gifts, but please do not make it customary or essential. Let marriages be easy. Do not demand impossible mehers. Do not demand a grand dinner party. If the boy cannot afford to make a comfortable abode for his bride, then he shouldn’t be getting married in the first place.

We run far away from anything ‘new’. We want to stay backward. Be cowards. It’s still not too late. Don’t let this happen. Speak out! Let’s get involved. Talk openly about issues facing the ummah in our country. We will face rejection. We will be called names.

Things are getting tougher, harsher, more challenging. Proclaim yourself a Muslim, and expect to be tested. Do not be of those who do not care. Do not be of those who are ‘so busy with life’ that you don’t have time to do Jihad. Jihad of the mind. Get serious with your Islam. Try to strive to make an Islamic environment. You are the mothers of the next generation. Make your sons and daughters lion-hearted and brave. Make it possible to bring about a change. Make the world yours.

I’d really like to hear from more Muslim sisters living in a similar situation. What are our options? What else can we do to contribute? How to break free from these issues? Send in your thoughts. Maybe with your help, I can publish a more positive message to today’s Muslim girls, InshAllah.