I Failed a Course...

>> Saturday, April 5, 2014

Salam,
I want to thank you for the great job you are doing. I love your blog and I love your attitudes. I’ll appreciate if you can guide me regarding this feeling I have. I failed one of my subjects in college and had to give it again. Now I’m waiting for the result and when other people tell me they’ve passed, I feel a twinge…I just feel bad. I don’t want to feel this way. It’s bad to have even a small bit of bad feeling in our hearts, right? I want to get rid of it but I don’t know how except for making dua about it.
Love you gals.
XYZ


Asalamu aliakaum, XYZ!

awww, sis, I can imagine how difficult it must be.

It's like inside you know that you should be satisfied with Allah's decree...but there's this tiny feeling of either disappointment, bitterness or this tiny twinge of jealousy inside...

Alhamdillah that you do not like this twinge and alhamdillah that you are trying your very best to get rid of it.

To be fully honest with you, I had never actually heard any ruling about experiencing just a twinge, so I tried looking it up for you and this is what I found: 

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said: “Nobody is free from hasad (jealousy), but the noble person hides it whilst the base person shows it.” (Amraad al-Quloob). A person will not be brought to account for whatever crosses his mind, but he will be brought to account for what he says and does. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Allah will forgive my ummah for their mistakes, what they forget and what they are forced to do.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari,  2033).
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah also said in his book Amraad al-Quloob (diseases of the heart):  “Whoever finds in himself any hasad towards another has to try to neutralize it by means of taqwa (piety, consciousness of Allah) and sabr (patience). So he should hate that (the feeling of hasad) in himself… But the one who does wrong to his brother by word or deed will be punished for that. The one who fears Allah and is patient, however, is not included among the wrongdoers, and Allaah will benefit him by his taqwa.”
It seems to be that if the twinge is just a fleeting thought, you're not really accountable for it. But, on the other hand, if you actually nourish that thought, let it fester and grow, then you have a problem.  
Alhamdillah that you are making dua that Allah helps you overcome it.
Another 'dua' that you can do is, at the moment you hear that someone has passed, say something like "Barakallahu Alaihi (May Allah bless it for him)", and then, ask  Allah to grant you the same. Basically, turn the situation into an opportunity to ask Allah for what it is that you want, rather than to be upset with Allah for what you have been given. Remember that the prophet sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam said:
 “Indeed, Allah is Shy and Beneficent. His is Shy when His servant raises his hands to Him (in a du’a) to return them empty, disappointed” [Ahmad]
What else can you do?
*Remind yourself of Allah's Attribute "Al Hakim": The Most Wise. What do we mean by the Most Wise?  We mean that Allah does the proper thing in the proper way in the proper place and the proper time (onislam.net). All that He ordains for you, He does so out of infinite wisdom and it is linked to your absolute good. I know that right now, you may be thinking "It's just so hard to see the good in having to repeat a subject", but did you ever consider: 
- that by repeating the subject, you got to meet other people? Maybe you were meant to meet these other students? Maybe, they were meant to meet YOU. Maybe, there is one student in that class, who doesn't talk that much, but who observes your manners and behavior and is inspired to be a better Muslim because of you. Or maybe, this delay will allow you to cross paths with someone else, later on, that you wouldn't have been able to meet, if you had finished earlier.
In fact, I actually know TWO PEOPLE who ended up meeting their spouses because they failed a course or were delayed in school. One of the persons literally told me, "If I had not failed the 2nd year of of university, I would never have been in any of the same classes as the person..." And the other one had been engaged to someone but because they got held back a year, the engagement ended up being broken, and subhanAllah, later on, the person met someone else and married someone else. 
I'm not saying though that you will meet your spouse. Just making sure none of the readers understand that and suddenly start failing their classes or something. Nu-uh! Not what I mean. What I am saying though is that the qadr of Allah always works out for your own good, and sometimes, what seems like a delay is actually another plan starting/ in motion/working out for you.
Let me give you another point to consider. Let's pretend that this 'course' was not an academic course but a driving test. And you failed it. Wouldn't you think that perhaps you might have gotten in some kind of accident, if you hadn't failed it? That Allah was trying to protect you from something? 
It could be the very same thing in this case, too. Maybe if you had passed right away, you would have grown arrogant or gotten distracted from Allah. Maybe this was meant to bring you closer to Allah, as you learned the important lesson of depending on Him, asking of Him.
Another thing you can remind yourself if you ever feel a little jealous of a friend or bitter is that perhaps there is something that you have that she doesn't. Yes, maybe your friend passed the course right away while you struggled and struggled...but did you ever consider that perhaps she has some other problem to deal with? Maybe she goes home and cries about her weight or looks or even has family problems? It is so easy for us to think that the people around us who have what we want have 'got it so easy', but the reality is that everyone is being tested in this world...and you never know how many tears she cries at night. 
And finally, try following this advice. the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "Do not look to those above you. Look to those below you, as it will more likely remind you of Allah's favors bestowed on you." Think about the people who can't afford an education, can't go to college, don't have the ability to repeat a course, etc. 
I hope this helps you a bit, sis :)




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Why Am I Not Tested Enough?

>> Saturday, March 22, 2014



This is going to sound a little strange, but I feel that my life is not tested enough. I have heard over and over again that Allah loves those whom He tests. What if you feel like you don't have any test. Does this mean that Allah doesn't love me?
Worried,


It doesn’t feel strange at all. :) Thanks for the great question.

So you ask if you’re being tested enough. Well, sister, it really depends on what your definition of “tests” are. Generally whenever we think of tests, we may think of calamities, suffering, natural disasters, etc. Agreeably, these are examples of tests.
“And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sâbirin (the patient ones, etc.)” Surah Al-Baqarah 2:155]

So being patient in these types of tests is best for us. However, tests aren’t limited to only this type. Likewise, patience is not limited to only in times like these.

As Muslims we know that this whole life is a test for us. So every moment we are being tested, even in times of ease. Yes, even things we may consider blessings like family, children, wealth may at the same time constitute as tests for us in one way or another and require our patience.


Allah Subhanoo Wa' tala says:
O you who have believed, let not your wealth and your children divert you from remembrance of Allah . And whoever does that - then those are the losers. (Surah Al-Munafiqun 63:9)
Similarly:
O you who have believed, indeed, among your wives and your children are enemies to you, so beware of them. But if you pardon and overlook and forgive - then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. (Surah Al-Taghabun 64:14)
He also says:
And as for man, when his Lord tries him and [thus] is generous to him and favors him, he says, "My Lord has honored me." (Al Fajr, 89: 15) 

As you can see from these verses, Allah's favors are also a test for us: you are being tested how you will respond with these favors, how you will use them for Allah's sake.... Will you let them draw you closer to Allah or  distract you away from Allah ?

In fact, we are told of a very important story in the Qur'an. The story of Qarun who Allah tested by giving an abundance of wealth.

And We gave him (Qarun) of the treasures, that of which the keys would have been a burden to a body of strong men. Remember when his people said to him: "Do not exult (with riches, being ungrateful to Allah). Verily Allah likes not those who exult (with riches, being ungrateful to Allah). "But seek with that (wealth) which Allah has bestowed on you, the home of the Hereafter, and forget not your portion of lawful enjoyment in this world,' and do good as Allah has been good to you, and seek not mischief in the land. Verily, Allah likes not the Mufsidun (those who commit great crimes and sins, oppressors, tyrants, mischief-makers, corrupters)." He said: "This has been given to me only because of the knowledge I possess." Did he not know that Allah had destroyed before him generations, men who were stronger than him in might and greater in the amount (of riches) they had collected? [Al Qassas 76-]


  Besides the fact that times of ease are also times of tests, there is also much more to patience than times of difficulties. Yes,  moments of calamity call for our patience, BUT there is more to this, and we need to practice patience in other ways.

Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim said, “There are three types of patience: Firstly, practicing patience to fulfill the obligations and to do righteous. Secondly, abstaining from evil and prohibited acts. And thirdly, practicing patience during times of hardship without complaints.”

From this we gather that patience is of three types:
1) Patience in fulfilling obligations and continuing to do good deeds.
2) Patience in staying away from wrong.
3) Patience during hardships and calamities


I think, what you were talking about was the last type: patience in times of distress. And, so naturally you’re worried that since you feel like you haven't really had to endure this type of patience, that you are not being tested enough. It is true that AllahSWT tests those whom he loves. However, it doesn't mean that AllahSWT doesn't love you because as you just read, there are other types of tests/patience.

Let’s go over the different types of patience in more detail

1) Patience in fulfilling obligations and continuing to do good deeds.
"So hasten towards all that is good". (2:148)

Examples of this type of patience include: praying salah, paying zakat, fulfilling rights of family, etc. These are all part of our obligations.
Allah says: “And seek help in patience and As-Salah and truly it is extremely heavy and hard except for humbly submissive [to Allah ]” [Surah Al-Baqarah 2:45].

Additionally, continuing to do good deeds falls under this type of patience. As we know, keeping up a good deed means we have to persevere and strive to do it. Whether it be reading Qu'ran, waking up for Tahajjud, giving Sadaqah, any of these extra deeds requires our patience. The best part is, it doesn't matter how small they may be, as long as we try to be consistent. 

Rasulullah saw said: "The deeds most loved by Allah (are those) done regularly, even if they are small." (Bukhari, Muslim)
So sister, here are some examples of extra good deeds. Start a small deed and try to be regular in doing it. Then slowly you can add on to it. In times of ease, we have extra time to do more good deeds. 

Remember this Hadith:
“Take benefit of five before five: Your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before you are preoccupied, and your life before your death”
(Narrated by Ibn Abbas and reported by Al Hakim)

Yes, sometimes we may have calamities to turn us back to Allah, but also in times of ease, we can display patience by being grateful. In our youth, we are also usually at the peak of our health, we have more time and, less responsibilities. On top of that, if we're living in a safe place where we don't have to worry about poverty and hunger, then we are even more blessed. Can you imagine how we have more opportunities for doing good in this state than if we were lacking these? That's why, it's important that we take advantage of this time. 

AllahSWT says:
By time, Indeed, mankind is in loss, Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience. (Surah Asr).

2) Patience in staying away from wrong.

We are all aware how staying away from wrong deeply requires our patience. We are struggling against our nafs. 
Say, "My Lord has only forbidden immoralities - what is apparent of them and what is concealed - and sin, and oppression without right, and that you associate with Allah that for which He has not sent down authority, and that you say about Allah that which you do not know." (Surah A'raaf 7:33).
 And so, for staying away from evil things and going against our desires, we can get rewarded inshaallah.


3) Patience during hardships and calamities

Finally, this is the last type of patience, the one we are most familiar with. 
And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient,Who, when disaster strikes them, say, "Indeed we belong to Allah , and indeed to Him we will return."Those are the ones upon whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy. And it is those who are the [rightly] guided. (2:155-157).
As Muslims, we may be tested with hardships and calamities. Even if someone isn't going through a calamity now, they may later on. In this situation, we are called upon to be patient by not complaining. It is also important to remember this about calamities:
“No calamity occurs, but by the permission of Allah, and whosover believes in Allah, He guides his heart. And Allah is the All-Knower of everything” [Surat at-Taghabun 64:11]
Ibn Kathir said about this Verse: Whoever suffered an affliction and he knew that it occurred by Allah’s Judgement and Decree, and he patiently abides, awaiting Allah’s reward, then Allah guides his heart, and will compensate him for his loss in this life by granting guidance to his heart and certainty in faith. Allah will replace whatever he lost for Him with the same or what is better. Ali ibn Abi Talhah reported from Ibn Abbas: ‘… and whosever believes in Allah, He guides his heart.’ Allah will guide his heart to certainty. Therefore, he will know that what reached him would not have missed him and what missed him would not have reached him” [Al Mubarakpuri, Sheikh Saifur-Rahman, tafsir ibn Kathir (Abridges) vol 10 (Riyadh, Darussalam, 2000), pp 24-25]

Also this is another great reminder for us to become hopeful even when going through calamities.
“For indeed, with hardship [will be] ease. Indeed, with hardship [will be] ease.” [Surah ash-Sharh 94: 5-6]



**********************************

As you can see from all these examples, as Muslims, we are being tested in every moment of our lives. You can display patience not just during calamities but also day-to-day, regularly. Every time you stay away from something prohibited, every time you sacrifice your time to do something extra good, you are displaying patience.

Ok, sister, I hope this helped. May we love AllahSWT and be loved by Allah, inshallah.

<3.

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Muslim and...proud?

>> Tuesday, February 25, 2014



Is it a bad thing that a lot of my friends do not know that I am Muslim. I never really mention it.

Assalam-o-alaykum wa rahmatullah hee wa barakatahu sister! :)

Your question, unfortunately, is a reflection of many a youth's dilemma today-that of an identity crisis. We've all at some stage gone through it, in one form or another. Sadly, the Muslim youth today is being targeted at so many levels through the media, social networks and many other things that is not balanced by a thorough knowledge of Islam.
Before I answer your question specifically, let me just quote a very well-known hadith:
It is narrated on the authority of Amirul Mu'minin, Abu Hafs 'Umar bin al-Khattab, radiyallahu 'anhu, who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, say:
"Actions are (judged) by motives (niyyah), so each man will have what he intended. Thus, he whose migration (hijrah) was to Allah and His Messenger, his migration is to Allah and His Messenger; but he whose migration was for some worldly thing he might gain, or for a wife he might marry, his migration is to that for which he migrated."[Al-Bukhari & Muslim]
[5:3]
[33:59]

Keeping this in mind, let's tackle issue number 1-not mentioning that you're Muslim and if that's a bad thing, or not. Let me first ask you, is there a specific reason for you to not mention to your friends that you're Muslim? Are you ashamed of being a Muslim in light of all the anti-Muslim media coverage? Are you unsure of whether it's a good thing to be Muslim? Are you afraid of how your friends might react to the news? Are you afraid of being shunned by everyone or even bullied?

You see the answer to your question lies in the hadith. If you refrain from mentioning it because you live in a place with high anti-Muslim sentiments (more than normal) and might be target of not only mental but physical bullying then in my humble opinion, it’s okay, and the answer for you finishes here.
However, if nothing like that is going to happen, and you're just afraid of getting 'weird looks' or being 'looked down upon for being backward' then I am afraid you need to read on.

*puts on serious people glasses*
(^Sorry for that, but being 'in the mode' helps me answer better :D )

I am just going to say one thing, straight and simple (and really, there is no other way to say this)-be proud of who you are and be thankful and grateful for it. You could've been born a non-Muslim and then where would you be? By not being proud of Islam, you're being ungrateful instead of thankful for the HUGE favour conferred upon you by Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala).

Allah(subhanahu wa ta'ala) mentions in Surah Maidah:
This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion.


Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) tells us in the Quran that not only is Islam perfect, but it is His favour upon us and He Himself approved (or chosen according to some translations) Islam for us. Should we not be prouder than proud of something given to us by Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) when we are so proud of worldly achievements? He gave us a way of life, all gift wrapped in shiny wrapping paper, we didn't even have to wander blindly for ages or to search for it and then spent time learning it, unlike people who revert so we should be even more grateful!

Now you might ask, how exactly is one proud of Islam? One might feel proud about something in their heart. After all, it’s what's in the heart that counts, right? Welll...yes. And no. (Oops, veering off of topic here-more about this later in a more relevant post). For now, suffice it to say that when something is inside you, is present within every beat of your heart, is a strong strong emotion, it generally shows itself in some way or another. Hands up all people who've been embarrassed (a tiny bit, during teenage) by their parents who were 'bursting due to pride' when you aced a test, or won a race, or came first in class-small achievements but very big for the parents. *raises hand* They go around telling people about it. They walk around with a proud smile. They thump your back a dozen times a day. Trust me, it shows. Thus if we are proud of Islam, it shows in our every action. It shows in our following of Sunnah of the Prophet (salallahu alayhee wasallam). It shows in our character, when we refrain from things like lying and backbiting because Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) has forbidden them for us. It shows when we stay away from activities which might be the norm, just because it's not the way of the Salaf. It shows when we leave whatever we're doing, and rush towards salah when the Muezzin makes adhaan. It shows when we tell our friends that we're Muslims, and tell them about this special religion.

Not only this, but Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) has also mandated certain guidelines in dress for women, just so they could be recognized as Muslim women:
O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.

Therefore, Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) wants us to be recognized as Muslim women (and men). And if Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) wants that for us, then it must be a good thing and we should want it for ourselves too!

Before I finish, let me highlight some benefits of telling your friends you're Muslim:

1) Peace of mind- you're obviously disturbed/uneasy about the fact that most of your friends don't know that you're Muslim. Well, once you tell them, that unease shall be gone forever! *poof*

2) You'll find out who your true friends are. If this hesitation stems from the fact that you feel that these people won't be your friends anymore or distance themselves once they know you're Muslim, then so be it! The ones that stick by will be the ones who are your real friends. Really, your friends can't be real friends until they know your basic structure and for a Muslim, Islam IS the basic structure. It's our identity. It defines our choices in life. It is our Deen-our way of life. So if someone isn't comfortable with your way of life-would you really want to be friends with them? I know I can only be good friends with people I'm entirely comfortable and at ease with, people around whom I can be myself.

3) It's an opportunity for dawah! Might be that some of the people in your friends circle are looking to 
know more about Islam but want to turn towards a Muslim rather than the media, which many people are now realizing can be misleading. Or can be that someone's curiosity gets sparked and they get interested in Islam once they find out you're Muslim. Or could be that someone is depressed or sad-as research tells us most people are unless they have a purpose in life (and what greater purpose than the purpose we were made for?!)-and they hear you tell something about Islam and they come towards it and finally find peace! The opportunities are endless!

So here's what I need you to do. Think hard about why you don't mention it (be truthful!), once you've realized the root cause, work towards eradicating it. Listen to lectures where speakers talk about the beauty of Islam, about Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala), about the Prophet (sallalahu alayhee wasallam) and how he (sallalahu alayhee wasallam) used to cry and make dua for his Ummah (yes that's you and me!), about the Sahaba and the Muslims of the past who went through trials for Islam (we consider people who accepted the faith of the past Prophet's (alayhee salaam) as Muslims too!), who walked proud on earth as Muslims, even when they were humiliated and tortured. Listen to conversion stories, a lot of reverts speak about how they used to know some Muslims and they never told them about the beauty of Islam and they went through a lot of struggle to eventually discover it. Let it all sink in. Take a deep breath. Smile. And let the change begin!

I make dua that Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) makes it easy for you and others in a similar situation, and that others benefit from you and us. Ameen! 

Love and hugs,


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Tired of Being the Odd One Out

>> Wednesday, February 19, 2014




"I live in area we live in-there's basically no other muslims around. I'm the only Muslimah in my grade of around five hundred kids, and one out of five in the entire school. I don't want to judge, but the other ones don't really seen to be practicing. I have a good amount of friends, but that was only through several years of forcing myself to talk, because I used to be really shy. Anyways, whenever I'm with them, I just end up feeling horrible afterwards. I hate their constant swearing and super vulgar language, topped with the fact that they are boy crazy and find it odd that I'm not. I really fed up with it, because it's preventing me from becoming a better Muslimah- if anything it's slowing chipping away at my faith. On top of all this, I have gym class starting next week, which means thigh exposing shorts and super short, v-necked tshirts. I really, really don't want to be the odd one out anymore, wearing baggy pants and a long sleeved shirt in ninety degree weather, having to deal with comments like "oh aren't you hot in that?" Or "is your religion the one which forces women to cover up like that?" I get that one a lot, about a variety of things. It's tiring being the odd one out. I just want some help..."


Sister, I hope you are in the best of health and Eman.:)

This is a great question you have brought up. As humans, we are social beings. It’s healthy to want to have friends.

HAVING said that, it can be challenging to go to a school where you’re one of the few Muslims. I had a similar situation growing up where my sister and I were the only Muslim/Hijabis in elementary and among very few Muslim/Hijabis in junior high and high school. I was shy in school, too. I remember at times feeling awkward and out-of-place. Feeling like there was something wrong with me. WHy couldn’t I relate to others? I thought it was because I was shy and I thought I was the only one... Now, however, I realize that my older sister went through similar things. And it definitely helped a lot to talk to her and feel like I was o.k. :) So it definitely helps to talk to someone else going through similar things. Maybe you might find there’s another sister who also feels uncomfortable just like you in the group. Often times, we become so focused on how we feel that we assume it’s unique to us. However, we may not realize that there are other people going through similar feelings and experiences.

Let me tell some of the other things that helped me through school.

REMINDING yourself that (High) School is temporary. High school is only four years. And if that still doesn't make you feel better, how about reminding yourself that high school is not your whole day! It helps to put it into perspective. Don't let Shaitan make you feel like high school is forever. It is definitely NOT a permanent or absolute situation. Which brings me to another important tip.

SEEKING other environments where you would find better friends, i.e. masjid, religious gatherings, volunteering, etc. Try to find different avenues to make better friends. Yes, school may be for 6-7 hours 5 days a week, but you still have the rest of the day. It made a huge difference for me going to weekend islamic school. I got a chance to hang out with other Muslim girls and it was fun. Whereas in High school I would feel weird at times, on Sundays I felt more comfortable with myself, and I realized that I could still be social and feel right. So even if you’re unable to find good friends at school, it really helps to seek other avenues. You don’t have to limit yourself to your school only.

MAKING yourself busy at school with extracurricular activities. I don’t know about you but I enjoyed taking challenging classes in High school like AP courses. It just made high school more interesting, alhamdulilah. This worked for me but you could find other ways to busy yourself, maybe joining a club at school. These would still give you that social aspect and a better environment. ?You would be talking about meaningful things and ideas (hopefully). You would also get to meet other girls with similar values. They don’t have to be Muslim. Yes, they don't have to be your close friends with whom you spend all your time with, but finding girls who also don’t like swearing, vulgar language, and aren’t constantly talking about boys would still benefit you. Plus you could still discuss religion with them. That way, you would be doing dawah as well.

Ok, so you brought up how you feel horrible and don’t feel right hanging out with your current friends. It’s a blessing that you feel this discomfort and realize they may not be right for you. It’s a blessing from AllahSWT. I can see you already realize that they are affecting your deen negatively. I’m glad that you feel that way and aren’t instead justifying hanging out with them by making excuses like they won’t change you or you don’t have a choice, etc, mashaallah. Because the reality is, who we hang out with really does affect us, whether we choose to be aware or not.

the Prophet ﷺ said: “A person is on the religion of his companions. Therefore let every one of you carefully consider the company he keeps.” [Tirmidhi]


Also in this hadith:

The Prophet ﷺ reminds us of the importance of good company in this hadith (record of the Prophet ﷺ): “A good friend and a bad friend are like a perfume-seller and a blacksmith: The perfume-seller might give you some perfume as a gift, or you might buy some from him, or at least you might smell its fragrance. As for the blacksmith, he might singe your clothes, and at the very least you will breathe in the fumes of the furnace.” [Bukhari, Muslim]


So both of these are reminders of how important making good friends is.


So then, what should we be look for in a true friend?

The Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) was reportedly asked: “Which of our companions are best?” He replied: “One whose appearance reminds you of God, and whose speech increases you in knowledge, and whose actions remind you of the hereafter.


If we find someone with these three qualities, then we are truly blessed. So look for these three qualities in a friend. Again, it's ok if you can't find that kind of person in school. There are other places...

OK, so now let’s tackle your worry about gym class. Sister, let me ask you a question? Would you feel comfortable wearing thigh exposing shorts and super short, v-necked tshirts? Or would you feel horrible afterwards? I know it can seem like it would be easier to just wear that so you’re not the odd one out anymore. But would that really solve your problem? Is it really as simple as looking the same on the outside? I mean, aren’t there other things that differentiate you from others, as well?

AND is it such a bad thing to be different?



 I mean, if you get to be who you want to be, isn't that better? I know it's easier said than done, but truly we are happier that way. Plus, it's IMPOSSIBLE to please everybody. You'll just compromise your beliefs and values and still you will have people not accept you. Imagine how horrible that would feel. In contrast, if you are yourself, then yes you will have people who might not like you for choosing to think differently, act differently, and be different. BUT you will also be surrounded by people who actually like you for who you are. And confidence goes a long way. Trust me, everybody has that pressure of conforming to what's considered "normal". But, the right people will respect you for sticking to your own ideals .

A secret about wearing clothes, as I said confidence goes a long way. Have you ever noticed someone who was wearing something way outrageous but they looked comfortable in it? How about someone who was wearing something that may look "normal" but they didn’t look comfortable in it. Who do you notice more? My answer would be the latter one. Yeah, maybe the outrageous outfit would catch my eye first. But after a while I wouldn’t be so shocked anymore. I would associate their outfit with who they are. It wouldn’t mean I would be agreeing with their outfit choice, just accepting that that’s part of them. On the other hand, we can often sense someone who's not uncomfortable in what they are wearing. And despite how mainstream their attire is, it wouldn’t really help their case because they would still look “odd in it.”.

Also, you are more than what you wear. So just by wearing what everyone else is wearing is not really going to be enough to feel like a part of the group or to be “accepted by them”.

Ok, so I know you’ll still get comments like  “Aren’t you oppressed for covering up” etc. So how to combat those comments that make you feel odd or annoyed?

WELL sister, you could use them as dawah opportunities. Meaning explaining to them why we really wear it. That it’s important to you and just because it may be a struggle doesn’t mean you’ll forsake it. Try to explain it to them with an analogy that they may understand. For example, someone who's vegan doesn't stop being vegan just because it's difficult at times to find good vegan-friendly food. They're vegan not because it's easy but because they have bigger reasons for their choice (e.g. animal cruelty). Btw, I hope you don't think I'm trying to convince you to become vegan. :) Alhamdulilah we can have halaal meat.


OK, so how about the "Aren't you hot in that?" comments, you ask? Yes, those can become tiring after a while. It may help to have a short response ready for those comments beforehand. Or you could go the humor route... 

Hehe. :) Just something to make you smile. I saw this a while back and it made me laugh.

Lastly, make DUA to Allah Subhanaho wa ta’aala. Even though AllahSWT knows how you feel, share with him your fears and your struggles in school. Inshallah this can be an oopportunity for good deeds and personal growth. :)


Ok, that’s all of my advice. Here's also a previous response for more advice on the matter with friends. And this is a bit of advice on being 'different', too:

P.S. Sister, I have to thank you for sending this question in. I feel it came at a right time for me. As I was trying to frame my answer, I had a chance to reflect on friendship and Islam. Finding good company has also been a struggle for me as well as many other sisters. So you're not alone.



Take care!

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I want to see the Prophet in my dreams

>> Thursday, January 30, 2014




Last Ramadan, one of the times where my faith was at a high point, I saw a dream in which and father were carrying a huge red and white rock which they finished cleaning and polishing. They said ,"do you want to see the face of prophet Muhammad in this?" And of course I said yes, and when I looked into it I saw a man with little to no hair and extremely bright blue eyes. He also smiled back really kindly at me. He didn't match the description of the prophet at all, but something about him really stuck with me since. About two weeks later I saw another dream, where I was allowed to go past the golden gates of the prophet's grave with ease ( they just lifted up) and find his tomb, which was covered in all kinds of incredible, dazzaling jewels. I put my face on it and started to weep, but I remember it felt really nice- it was one of the nicest feelings I've ever experienced. I haven't seen a dream like that since, no matter how much I ask Allah for it, and I really, really want to. I even try crying in my fuss to get it to happen. I'm scared I'm starting to lose my faith in Allah because of everything that's been happening to me so quickly. Is there anything I can do to see the prophet peace be upon him again in my dreams? I feel like if I did it would give me the strength and the hope to keep moving forward. Can doing istighara make this happen?


 Dearest Sister,
 I'm so sorry that right now you are really down and your faith is down. I understand that last year, you had two dreams that really helped you and strengthened your faith. And you're hoping for another dream. You just want to restore your faith. I understand. You're trying soooo hard to get that dream again- to have that feeling of peace in your heart- you've said you've even tried to cry on purpose. And now you're wondering if istikharah will let it happen.

 I wish I could tell you: Yeah! That will do it. But unfortunately, istikharah is about asking Allah to decide for you between two choices. While many people associate it with having a special dream afterwards, that's actually not necessary.

 As the scholars have said: It is not necessary in the case of istikhaarah to feel something specific afterwards. Rather if you consult people and think deeply about the matter, and it becomes clear to you that this matter will be beneficial both in religious and worldly terms, then you should pray istikhaarah and go ahead, and not wait for a sign or a dream or a feeling. You should rather put your trust in Allaah and go ahead after praying istikhaarah. The correct view is that when Allaah makes something easy for you – after having decreed it and accepted your du’aa’ – this is a sign that it is good to go ahead and do it.

Again, it's about asking for Allah's help in some matter that you're not sure of (even if it's something tiny). I've prayed istikhara numerous times and I've never seen the prophet sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam in any of those times.

 I know that was probably disappointing to read.

But the truth is that...well, there isn't really a shortcut to seeing the prophet in your dreams OR to restoring your faith. Both of these require action, dedication, conscious effort, and work.

 I mean, let's look at your own question. You mentioned that when your faith was HIGH, you had those dreams. You can perhaps think of them as a reward from Allah for all that you had been doing.

 I once heard an interesting story where a young man asked his scholar how he could see the prophet in his dreams. The scholar told him to spend the entire day eating salt and to not drink any water. Although the young man didn't really understand the advice, he followed it. The next day, he went to the scholar, really angry. He said, "Imam, all I dreamt of last night was water. I kept seeing oceans and oceans of water." The scholar told him "You see, your dreams are a reflection of what you're doing and thinking about all day. If you want to see the prophet, live through his example through out the day! Pray the sunnah prayers. Eat like the prophet. Remember his manners with his family. Remember how he treated others. Imitate him. Read about him. Learn his hadiths. Say the adhkhaar. Live your day by his example and then hope to see him at night."

 But wait...don't close the browser yet. I have good news for you.

 If seeing the prophet in your dreams would inspire you to be a better person, what about knowing that the prophet sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam prayed for you? That he made dua for YOU?

What about the fact that he thought of you as his own sister?

 As is narrated by Abu Hurayra, One day Prophet Muhammad (sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam) came to the graveyard and said: O dwellers of the land of believers! Peace be upon you. With God willing, we will also join you. Then he sighed with longing and added, How I miss to see my brothers! The companions beside him said, O Messenger of God, are we not you brothers? The Prophet replied, You are my companions; my brothers have yet to come The companions asked him: O Messenger! How will you recognize these people from your community who have yet to come? Whereupon, the Prophet asked: If someone has a horse with white signs on the forehead and the feet, can he recognize it among black and gray horses? The companions replied:Yes. He said, “They (my brothers) will come with white streaks from their ablutions, and I will receive them at my cistern. 


 If seeing the prophet would inspire you, what about seeing Allah subhanoo Wa' Tala? I'm not saying that we will see Allah in our dreams...but the reward of the believers is to see Allah in the afterlife.

The Messenger (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said, “When the inhabitants of Paradise enter Paradise, Allah will say to them, ‘Do you want Me to give you anything more?’ They will reply, ‘Have You not made our faces bright? Have You not brought us into Paradise and moved us from Hell?’ Allah will then remove the Veil and they will feel that they have not been awarded anything dearer to them than looking at their Lord.”


 Remember, hunny, you can't see Him, but He sees you! And He's watching you right now. He's All Loving, All Merciful, All Compassionate, Ever Grateful. He's prepared jannatul firdaous for you! "

(It will be said to the believers of Islamic Monotheism): 'My slaves! No fear shall be on you this Day, nor shall you grieve. (You) who believed in Our ayat (proofs, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) and were Muslims (i.e., who submit totally to Allah's Will, and believe in the Oneness of Allah). Enter Jannah, you and your wives, in happiness.' Trays of gold and cups will be passed round them; (there will be) therein all that inner-selves could desire, and all that eyes could delight in and you will abide therein forever. This is the Jannah which you have been made to inherit because of your deeds which you used to do (in the life of the world). Therein for you will be fruits in plenty, of which you will eat (as you desire)." [Al-Qur'an 43:68-73]

 So now....how can you restore your faith? We've had a couple of posts on imaan. Please do read them here:

Fed Up of the Roller Coaster Ride

Boost that Iman!

With love,
Little Auntie

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So that I don't do Zina, I'm now ....

>> Monday, January 20, 2014


This question is so embarrassing but I don't know who else to ask. There is this guy that I have really gotten attached to. At first, we were just friends, but as the time has progressed, we've kind of gotten into really intimate conversations. I mean really intimate. I find myself dreaming about being in his arms and taking it up physically. Kissing him and this kind of thing. It is getting harder and harder when we are around each other not to act on these feelings. I've tried to keep myself from falling into that by actually releasing myself through watching romantic videos, reading some romances (and to be honest, I do read the erotic parts), and this kind of thing. A part of me feels like watching and reading these things is wrong, but the other part is thinking that this is the only way I can stop myself from actually doing the deed.
Help, please.


Asalamu aliaakum wa rahmatullah wa barkatoo,
First of all, I'm honored that you thought to ask us your question. I know it must have taken a lot for you to write it and send it in, but you know, we're not here to judge you. We're just here to help you.
Now, I cannot tell you a fiqh ruling exactly on your question, but I do want to give you some basic advice...

We don't stop sins by sins. 

Usually, a sin is not going to lead you to goodness. It isn't a shield or armor that protects a person. It's going to lead to more sins. What protects a person is taqwa of Allah, obedience of Allah, good deeds, etc. 

Allah says:
"And whoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (of every difficulty). " (Quran, At-Talaq: 2). 
Indeed, prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing, and the remembrance of Allah is greater. And Allah knows that which you do. (ِAl Ankabut: 45)

Right now, you're really attracted to this guy. You're worried about falling into...'zina', which is a huge sin. 
Let's imagine that  'zina' is a huge fire...and your'e standing next to it, worried you're going to fall.
Would you, at this moment, decide to put some oil on yourself to protect you?

Keep in mind that oil is highly highly flammable. 

Do you really think that would be the best plan to come up with?
(read: OUCH! Ouch! Ouch!)

Or would you 
a) run away from that fire
b) get some water =)

You see, sister, the thing that you reallly need to be avoiding right now is the source of temptation for you: this guy. You admit that you've reached the point where you want to be with him...That means, it's really gone way past 'professional', sis.

You know what this actually reminds me of? Our prophet Yusuf alyhee as salam. We all know the story. The woman, whom he had grown up in her house, wanted to seduce him. She was rich, powerful, the wife of the Azeez of Egypt (leader), and most likely beautiful (as we all know that a King could have any woman he wanted). And she made it absolutely clear that she wanted him. 

 And indeed she did desire him, and he would have inclined to her desire, had he not seen the evidence of his Lord.....(Surat Yusuf: 24)

What did Yusuf do? He prayed...
 He said: "O my Lord! Prison is dearer to me than that to which they invite me. Unless You turn away their plot from me, I will feel inclined towards them and be one of the ignorant.'' (Surat Yusuf: 33)

He prayed to get away from her company...away from the source of temptation. See, how he chose prison over falling into a sin?

I know that you think that by reading these books and watching these movies, you're not going to go and commit the deed, but the reality is that you are actually giving yourself more reason to think about the deed and you're fueling yourself more. These things are like the "oil" we mentioned earlier. You're just making yourself think about it more and more...

And these books and movies definitely glamorize it and build up your expectations about it. 

It's like the next time you're watching some romantic movie, how much you wanna bet you're going to wish you and that guy could be doing those things? Or the next time you are with the guy, how much you want to bet you're going to remember that scene/description of a kiss/whatever...?

And the thing you have to realize is that they put those parts knowing very well what stimulates and arouses women/men. They study these things, you know. (At least porn directors. I read an article about it before, but I can't find it now.) So you are reading something or watching something which is MEANT to kindle those feelings/ sexually arouse you...

How is that really going to help you stop from falling into zina?

Shaitain is trying to convince you that you've found the ultimate way to guard yourself from sinning more. But in reality, he's just leading you down a very very dangerous path. 

Allah subhanoo Wa' Tala says:

". . . and follow not the footsteps of ‘Shaitan’ (Satan). Surely he is to you an open enemy" (Quran, Al-Anaam: 142).
These things are part of the footsteps, hun. 

If you really sincerely want to stay away from the sin, 
- seek protection from Allah:
- do dhikr
- watch Islamic lectures
- read Islamic books
- go to Islamic halaqahs, sister meet ups
-fast

Busy yourself! It doesn't have to be all Islamic activities. You could take up a hobby such as
- sewing/crocheting
-making crafts
- working out in an all girl's gym
-whatever you want :) baking/ graphic designing/ whatever


And of course, it goes with out saying that you have to end the relationship with the guy. 

I know it seems hard...and maybe these things don't sound as fun or appealing as watching a romantic movie /reading an erotic book. At first, you might kinda feel like you are in a prison, but slowly, you're going to set yourself free. Slowly, you'll find yourself drawing closer to Allah ...and when that happens...
Well, prepare yourself a sweetness you never imagined,


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Health Problems, Work, and Trust in God?

>> Friday, January 17, 2014



I have health problems which recur from time to time, like 85% of the time I'm healthy and fine MASHALLAH, but 15% of the time, I get really really sick. My second job understands because I do call of when I'm sick and they're understanding about the situation. My primary job however, the managers are very rude. The few times I did call of due to being sick and because our city was flooded so I couldn't get to work, they hinted at firing me. So, whenever I call of work due to not feeling well, I feel this guilt of not living up to my manager's expectations and not being a good employee. Yesterday I listened to a talk by Yusha Evans on the symptoms of weak iman, and he said that we must have absolute tawakkul in ALLAH s.w.t and understand that rizq is from him.
But I don't understand how to reconcile my tawakkul and this fear of calling off. My question is should I not care about what my managers think and how do I let tawakkul over-ride my fear of not living up to expectations and not being fired. My employers already are discreetly racist and don't like me because Im Pakistani and a hijaabi and theyre all white, I can tell because of how they interact with me and with others, I don't want the label of bad employee to be attached to me. Because what if another hijaabi applies and they discriminate against her because of me.
I know I sound a bit looney and my thoughts are jumbled up, but I would appreciate your take on this.
JAZAKKALAH KHAIR x a million =)

Dear Sister,
 Wa iyyaki x a million n one :D

MayAallah subhanoo Wa' Tala give you the best of health and IMAAN. Ya Rubb. :)

Thanks so much for sending in your question. I will tell you my take on this. :)

Ok, so I’m sensing that you’re not comfortable at your (primary) job. If that's the case, don't ignore your gut feeling. If something doesn't feel right at your job, try to find out why you feel that way. The environment plays a huge part in how we feel in a given situation. You already mentioned how your employers don’t treat you and others in the best manner. Maybe that could be a contributing factor. Also, let me just say, I can totally relate!

It can be challenging to work in an environment where you don’t feel welcome. So you grow anxious that you have to be ‘perfect’ and feel you can’t make any mistakes whatsoever. Because any mistake you make might cause you to have a ‘bad label’ or be fired. And that includes things out of your control e.g. missing days because of your health. But, sister, that’s putting undue stress on yourself. We are human, and making mistakes doesn't necessarily translate to you being a “bad employee” especially things out of your control like missing work because of health reasons. Having said that, I know how hard it can be in situations like this where we feel any mistake we make will be a sign that we are inadequate. However, if your employers choose to fire you because of health reasons, know that it’s not because of something wrong you did, but an error on their part. I know that you might think that it would be the end of the world if that were to happen, but in reality, it could be another door opening for you. We'll talk about that, in a moment.

I’m glad you mentioned how in your other job you felt different there. Isn't it interesting to note that in that job, you feel more at ease. It’s good to compare the two jobs and see how you feel at both places. Do you notice how you are the same person, but whereas in your second job, you feel at ease, in your primary job, you are anxious and feel incompetent. But you’re the same person!

Just like how we feel the most comfortable and our best self around some people e.g. our best friends, and we may feel totally awkward and out of place in a different crowd, it’s the same thing at your work environment. It’s not that suddenly you have changed, that you are no longer skilled at one job, but it only shows how the environment plays a huge part in how we feel.

I love how you brought up how we should have tawakkul in Allah subhanoo Wa' Tala. It is important. Having tawakkul in Allah subhanoo Wa' Tala is something that we, as Muslims, should strive for. Allah Subhanoo Wa' tala says multiple times in the Quran:


وَعَلَى ٱللَّهِ فَلۡيَتَوَكَّلِ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنُونَ  
...And upon Allah let the believers rely. 3:160

Having tawakkul in Allah subhanoo Wa Ta'la's will is realizing that everything is in Allah subhanoo Wa' Tala's power, and anything that happens to us is ultimately good for us. It's understanding that sometimes things come and things go, but there is always benefit to the believer in that. Therefore, we try to be thankful in hard times as well as times of ease.

Surely We will test you with a bit of fear and hunger, and loss in wealth and lives and fruits, and give good tidings to the patient (2.155) Who, when a suffering visits them, say: “We certainly belong to Allah, and to Him we are bound to return.”(2.156) Those are the ones upon whom there are blessings from their Lord, and mercy as well; and those are the ones who are on the right path. (2.157)


I'm sure you've also heard of this well-known hadith:

On the authority of Abu Yahya Suhaib bin Sinan (May Allah be pleased with him) it is related that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said,“How amazing is the affair of the believer. There is good for him in everything and that is for no one but the believer. If good times come his way, he expresses gratitude to Allah and that is good for him, and if hardship comes his way, he endures it patiently and that is better for him." [Muslim]

On the other hand, Shaitan  tries to put fear in our hearts about poverty:
Satan frightens you with poverty, and bids you to commit indecency, and Allah promises you forgiveness from Him, and grace as well. And Allah is All-Embracing, All-Knowing. (2. 268) 
So what does this all mean? It means sister, as long as you are doing your best, and you are putting your trust in Allah, everything is going to end up okay, and you don't need to worry about your manager's opinion of you. Even if the worst case scenario happens and that place fires you....you know what? Allah is the one who got you that job, in the first place. I really want you to think about that. From what you have written, they are not the kind of employers who are searching for a Muslim girl like you...and yet, they accepted you. This was part of Allah's plan. He is the One who provides! And if they fire you, perhaps it is because Allah has  a wayyyyy better job for you....There could be something else totally in store for you.

 I want you to think for a moment about how much Allah provides. Allah takes care of the birds who leave in the morning empty and come back home full. Allah takes care every single living creature in this vast universe- the grass that needs water, the ants that need crumbs, the bees that need honey, the baby in his mother's womb, everything.

 “And so many a moving (living) creature carries not its own provision! Allah provides for it and for you. And He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.” (Al-Ankabut 29; 60

Whenever you start to feel like your tawakul is 'diminishing', ask yourself this: Do you possibly think that Allah would forget a servant of His? Someone who bows down to Him, every day and praises Him?

Remember that Allah actually calls Himself in the Qura'n "Al Wakeel"- the Guardian/Trustee: 
Al-Wakeel is the only One who takes charge of the affairs of those under His care, managing all matters as He pleases. 
Also, begin your mornings with this daily supplication:
Allah is sufficient for me. There is no God but He.  I have placed my trust in Him, He is Lord of the Majestic Throne. Whoever says this seven times in the morning after fajr, and seven times after Asr, Allah will take care of whatever worries him of the matter of this world and the hereafter. [Abu Dawood, Muslim]
And when you leave your house, say:
The Prophet said: Whoever says(when he leaves his house) – Bismillaah, tawakkaltu ‘alaa Allaah, wa laa hawla wa laa quwwata illaa billaah – In the name of Allah, I put my trust in Allah and there is no power and no strength except with Allah- , it will be said to him: You are taken care of and you are protected and guided, and the devils will move away from him, and one devil says: What can you do with a man who has been guided, taken care of and protected? [Abu Dawood, At-Tirmidhi]

and it doesn't hurt to say the dua of Prophet Moosa:

“My Lord! I am in need of whatever good that You bestow on me.” (Al-Qasas 28; 24)

All of these will inshaAllah help you with your tawakul in general. But if you still feel uncomfortable at your job, maybe you could look for a different job that won't cause you this much stress. Otherwise, try your best to be professional with them, pray to Allah subhanoo Wa' tala for calmness of your heart. Realize that you're trying your best on your part and the way they treat you says a lot about them, not you.

Another thing you can do is prepare for it. In your mind, or writing down, ponder this: "What if..they fire me?" Write down how you would feel and why. Would it really be that bad? If so, why? Could you see how it could be a good thing? Think of some possible decisions you would make if that happened.

I have read in a recent book that the meaning we attach to a given situation really determines how well we're able to cope with that situation, not the situation itself. That's why two people may react quite differently to the same situation.

For example: one person upon losing their job may become anxious because of the meaning they would attach to it: "It's because I wasn't good enough for the job" then they may worry, "What if I don't find another job?" and then: "How will I live financially?"

Another person upon losing their job may become angry because they would attach the meaning: "My boss is unfair and unreasonable," and "I can't believe they would fire me after I did so much for them." In that way, they would focus on that alone and not be willing to accept the fact of losing their job.

Yet, another person upon losing their job may become disappointed but relieved because they would think to themselves, ":You know, I didn't like the way my employers treated me, anyways." and "I was feeling like finding a better job anyway so this might be a great opportunity." and then they could come to the solution, that "Allah subhanoo Wa' Tala must have better plans for me."

So it all depends on how you would feel at losing your job.

Finally, it’s sweet that you care that another hijaabi isn't mistreated because of you. But that isn’t really your responsibility how your employers choose to treat someone else. It’s true that as Muslims, we must set a great example. We should also try to speak up against unjust actions we witness as well as help those who are mistreated.


But at the same time, we are not responsible for how someone else chooses to treat another. We are only held accountable for our own deeds:

“O you who have believed, fear Allah. And let every soul look to what it has put forth for tomorrow (of deeds)—and fear Allah. Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do.” (Quran, 59:18)

"That was a nation which has passed on. It will have [the consequence of] what it earned, and you will have what you have earned. And you will not be asked about what they used to do." ( 2:134)


Ok, sister, hope this helped. :)

Take care,


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