I didn't get in :(

>> Saturday, March 31, 2012

I don’t know where to start. I belong to a middle class family with an average income. However, I’ve always been a high achiever though and all my life, I was dreaming of entering a certain university. I cannot describe to you how much I studied in high school. My entire life revolved around my books. When my friends would go out and have fun, I would be stuck at home, studying, dreaming of the day that I would enter that university. I did everything I could and made so much dua that Allah would let me enter the university. I would wake up in the third of the night and beg Allah to just let me enter and be accepted in the Scholarship program. I just found out though that I was not accepted. I’m really heartbroken and my faith is a little lost right now. It just seems so unfair. My friends who never took a day of school seriously are going to the university and I who prayed and begged Allah to go am not accepted. Why?!

Please help me. I don’t want to lose my faith.

Dear Sister,

First of all, sis, I know you must have been feeling heartbroken when things didn’t turn out the way you expected.

But the truth is that Allah is the Most Merciful and the Most Loving. He loves to hear us call His Name and He gets so happy when we turn to Him an ask us to give us something. And you know what? He actually gets angry if we do not ask Him for things. But what’s even more incredible is that Allah feels embarrassed to return someone who supplicates Him with nothing.

The Prophet sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam said: ‘‘Indeed your Lord is Alive, Most generous. He feels shy that when his servant raises his bands towards Him, calling upon Him, that He should return him empty, having nothing
So, why am I telling you all of this?

Yes, I read your question and I understand you didn’t get what you wanted. And you did ask. And you worked hard. And there wasn’t anything else you could do…

But that’s the thing. It’s not because Allah didn’t want to give it to you. It’s because what you wanted wasn’t good for you.

Ibn Al Qayim expressed this beautifully:
" Verily, when Allah withholds, He actually gives, because He did not withhold on account of miserliness or stinginess, but rather He looked at the benefit of the servant. So the fact that He withheld is actually His choice for the servant and His excellent decision.”

Think about it. Allah subhanoo Wa’ Tala is not like us. Do you know what will happen tomorrow? Or what will happen 10 years from now? No, we don’t. But Allah does!

Not only that, we don’t actually know what's actually good for us and the impact of every small thing.

I mean I recently watched a short true story. It was a video about a Somalian woman who lived in a village where all of the water ran out. Basically, she heard there was water down south so she took her three kids, left the village, and began searching for water. On the journey to find water, all three of her children died from dehydration. And only later, she found water.

This woman went out in the hot burning sun and she walked and walked. And she prayed for water. (And can you imagine how sincere her dua was? I mean she wanted water so we can assume it was straight from her heart, especially after the death of her first child.)

But it didn’t come when she wanted it to. It came later.

The story doesn’t end there, though. When she told her story to an Emirati charity, they were so affected by it, that they went to her village and built a number of wells there to make sure no other mother would have to go through what she went through.

So although three lives were lost, an entire village was saved. (And those three are in jannah, inshaAllah.) And who knows how many other lives/ villages saved? I’m sure after other people learned about this charity and heard about this woman’s plight, more and more people donated money and began to think about building wells.

Do you see what I’m saying? These ayahs should make it clearer:

And whoever relies upon Allah - then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Allah has already set for everything a [decreed] extent. (3)

You see, sister, Allah’s knowledge is unlimited. His Wisdom unsurpassed. He’s far more Merciful, and far more Knowledgable than us. The problem is that a lot of times we’re a lot like a little kid sniffling because we didn’t get the candy bar we wanted; we think we know what’s best for us, but the reality is that we don’t actually know. He does and in everything He ordains or us, there is both mercy and Wisdom in that decree. He's looking out for YOU.

And you know what else? We have to remember that this life is simply a test. That's it: just a test we have to go through. Think about what that means. The people we meet, the situations we're put in, the problems we face- all of that are simply questions on the test. If you asked for something and you worked really hard for it, but you still didn’t get it, that could mean that it wasn’t good for you and that Allah, the Most Wise, didn’t want you to lose sight of the real goal: passing this test.

What if, for example, you had been accepted and you met people who took you away from the deen? What if “ getting in” would have made you distracted from Allah? What if you would have gotten so wrapped up with your uni life, that you would have totally forgotten about Allah?

See, nothing is actually good for us if it makes us forget out true purpose in life or if it makes turn away from Allah. And there is absolutely nothing that is worth you losing out on the HereAfter. And that’s just it- Allah doesn’t want you to exchange the mirage of this world for the HereAfter. He could have given you what you wanted and you might have felt happy. But for how long?

If it meant that you’d lose out on heaven, how happy would you have truly been?

That’s why, sweets, I want you to understand something. A Muslim's du'a is accepted in one of the 3 ways,
a) Either he is given what he asked for,
b) It is delayed to the future
c) He is rewarded in the hereafter.

Your duas though are NEVER EVER wasted. And you will get something better than you wanted inshaAllah.

I know that right now you can't imagine that...but some day, you will. As Yasmin Mogahed says:
“There are pieces of your life, moments, events, decisions, and you saw no significance in them when they happen. You may even despair. Its only when time goes by and you look back and suddenly you can see your whole life like a perfectly designed puzzle. Dont be afraid of the puzzle piece youre in now. It’ll fit perfectly…just like the rest. How could it not? The Designer is perfect.”
I hope dear sister that this helps you a teensy weensy bit and that the other sisters can also help you.

P.S. As for your "friends" who got in and didn't do any work, don't ever think that is actually a reward. Perhaps, it's going to be a major trial for them. You see, the Quran tells us that things that we think are blessings are also trials:
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." (15) But when He tries him and restricts his provision, he says, "My Lord has humiliated me." (16)
Both are a trial, SubhanAllah.


Broken Hearted

>> Monday, March 19, 2012

I fell in love and now it's over. I feel crushed. Why did Allah let this person into my life if it wasn't meant to be?!
Totally heartbroken.

Dearest Heartbroken,
I'm very sorry to hear that your heart has been broken. Sometimes things don't go the way we plan, but things are actually always for our own benefit. The simple truth is that Allah subhanoo Wa' Tala knows what's best for us and who is best for us. (We'll talk more about that in a post coming up real soon :D)

That said, let's take an analogy so we can better understand your particular situation :)

Let's say someone lent you a vase. They explained that it was a temporary thing and that they would take it back from you at the end. And they also requested that you be careful with that vase....that it was a super fragile vase.

Now, let's imagine that you took that vase. And you decided to go rock climbing with it.

What do you think would happen to that vase? And who would be at fault, here?

Although this analogy is really a bit extreme (even for my own taste, haha), the idea is very simple. Your heart was given to you by Allah as a trust. You were told that Allah would "take back your heart" (examine it in the end) and were also asked to protect it from certain things. You were commanded to:

a. lower your gaze around non-mahram men
b. not be alone with a non-mahram man
c. dress modestly
d. guard your chastity

The question then is not whether Allah let someone into your life. The question is whether you made a decision to allow a "passerby" to become someone in your life. I mean what about the mail man, the cashier at your local grocery store, a waiter in a restaurant, etc. Think about all the people you pass by every day....What made this person any different?

What I'm trying to get at here is this:

Did Allah command you to become this person's friend and then take him away from you?

OR did you willingly choose to get to know this person....and risk your heart in the process?

Do you really believe that if you had followed the rules set by Allah, you would still be feeling the way you are feeling now? 

You see, darling, every moment of the day we have a choice...We have a choice to follow what Allah has commanded and refrain from what He has forbidden or cave into our desires. But if we cave into the desires, we have to realize that we will have to face the consequences..

And I'm not only talking about the akhirah. You've got to fact the consequences right here this dunya.

Unfortunately one such consequences is feeling heartbroken.

You gave your heart to a person who for some reason or not is not going to marry you.

It hurts. It's painful. I know.

But it's not really fair to play the role of the victim. 

In order to get through this with your faith still intact and hope for a better tomorrow, you have to accept that you played a part. That you did a mistake. You will not be able to move forward with your life until you can think positively of Allah again and understand that He's not "against you" and that you were not forced into something against your will. Only when you can accept that you made your own decisions, will you be at peace with Allah and find peace of heart...only, then, can you open your heart to new possibilities, inshaAllah.

 I know that because you feel that your "love" is true, you think that this is the only person right for you. But just because you love someone, doesn't mean that he's good for you. When we look at even things, we realize that what we love isn't necessarily always what's right for us. How many of us would willingly choose a chocolate over a cucumber?

I know I love chocolates a zillion times more, but that doesn't make them good for me.....does it? :)

Maybe Allah realized that you were falling into "idolatry" as we said in the last post. Maybe you really liked this person but this person wouldn't make a good father. Maybe this person would have ended up hurting you more than you can imagine. Maybe his family would have disrespected you. Whatever it is, Allah always does things for the best interest of His slaves.  The Quran tells us:

What you've gotta do now is take your tears, loneliness, sadness and all your feelings and pray to Allah to help you get through and to accept His wisdom.

Realize that this person wasn't meant for you but that doesn't mean that you won't find love again. I know you're probably not going to appreciate this, but the truth is that somewhere out there is a different person-- the right person for you, inshaAllah.

But as a final word of advice, before you go looking for them, it's time to mend your relationship with Allah, first. Ask yourself when was the last time you made sincere dua to love Allah?

O Allah I ask You for Your Love,
And the love of those whom You Love,
And the actions that will cause me to attain unto Your Love,
O Allah make Your love more beloved,
to me than myself, my family and even from cold water. (At-Tirmidhi)

Let's all take a moment today to make that dua...and to really live our lives according to it =)

With my love,


Numero 1?

>> Sunday, March 11, 2012

Salam Alakum! I am 17 and I might seem young but I think I've fallen in love with my older cousin. I really love him for his qualities and great personality. We talked to each other before and at first, I didn't have feelings for him but over the past few years I think I may have fallen in love with him and I do want to marry him! I spend the whole day thinking about him, every night thinking about him, dreaming about him. It's always about him now!
The thing is that I don't think and believe that he might love me back. I think it might be low self esteem but I honestly doubt he would ever love me. And because of this, I sort of turned him into someone I improve/change myself for. I don't know if this is idolatry. Whenever I do something, I always ask myself, "Would he approve me doing this?" If he would, I would do it. If he didn't, I wouldn't do it. I feel so stressed now but this has put a good change on me because I'm doing the right things now and being a better person for him.
I am trying to be the perfect girl for him but it is just so hard and stressful being perfect only for him!
What should I do? Is this what I should be doing? How can I possibly stop thinking about him? I just really want him to love me back.
- Trying to be Perfect

Wa'alykum as salam wa rahmatullah wa barkatoo,
Dearest Trying to Be Perfect,

It's really really admirable to see you sit back and reflect on yourself. You're in love...but something doesn't seem right to you. Rather than ignoring it, you chose to confront it and see if there could be something with your love. That takes courage and I'm really proud of you :)

The truth though, sweet heart, is we've said it before....Love is something sacred in Islam but it is meant to be only in the institution of marriage. Remember how we said earlier that Islam forbids relationships outside of marriage and that it commands women and men to guard their modesty, lower their gazes, and not be left alone with non-mahrams. You might say "but he's my cousin". He's still a non-mahram to you. Talking to your cousin privately whether it is on the telephone or the computer is actually not okay, Islamically.

I know you said that you doubt he loves you back. Darling, you are someone worthy of being loved and never ever believe that you are less than any other person...but if you want a relationship, it should be done appropriately. Your parents/ wali should be involved and things should be out in the open and done according to what Allah has commanded. AGAIN, this is ONLY to PROTECT YOU. Instead of giving your heart to someone who is not even interested in a future with you, you set the boundaries right from the beginning....

As for your specific question....

I'm pretty sure that it's normal to want to please one's spouse/ fiance/ but we do have to be careful that we do not make any person or even object the center of our lives or the reason behind our existence.

It's exactly for the reason that you said. We have to be careful that we do not reach the stage of idolatry or that we do not set up equals to God…

This is because our whole creed, tawhid is actually based on "negation" of false gods/ false object of worship. "La ilah ila Allah".
We state that there is only One in His Godship and One and Unique in His Actions and Names and Attributes. Nothing is like Him and nothing is deserving of worship except Him. Nothing should be put in His place, nothing should be loved as equally as He is.

The Quran says:

And [yet], among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals [to Him]. They love them as they [should] love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah. And if only they who have wronged would consider [that] when they see the punishment, [they will be certain] that all power belongs to Allah and that Allah is severe in punishment. (2:165)
Say, [O Muhammad], "If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your relatives, wealth which you have obtained, commerce wherein you fear decline, and dwellings with which you are pleased are more beloved to you than Allah and His Messenger and jihad in His cause, then wait until Allah executes His command. And Allah does not guide the defiantly disobedient people."(9:24)

To evaluate your love, try asking yourself these basic questions:

  • Does your love for him exceed your love and remembrance of Allah?
  • Are you engaging in haram?
  • If he told you to stay up and call him at 2:00 a.m. would you do it, even if you knew that meant that you would miss fajr (etc.)?
  • Are you so attached to him that you don’t want to die for Allah’s sake?
  • Do you believe he is the source of happiness? Perfection?
  • Would you rather die if something were to happen to him?

If the answer is "yes", then there is something wrong, here.

Don’t worry, though. We can fix this.

You have to remind yourself of 2 very simple words that we say a lot in our prayers.

Allahu Akbar.

He is Greater.

He is Greater than you and me.

Sleep does not take Him nor slumber or fatigue. Whatever time of the day, He welcomes you. HE is always ready for his slave to turn back to Him. He is the Exalted.
He knows our darkest secrets and chooses to conceal us. He protects us from harm, and tests us to purify us.
He is Supreme, All Merciful, Clement, Forgiving. He controls your heart and the hearts of those around you. Perfection is His Attribute alone.
Not a word is uttered that He does not Hear it. Not a problem occurs, that He cannot solve.
Not a thing or person in this world, that He is not Greater.
He is Greater than ALL.

The Quran tells us:
Lord of the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them - so worship Him and have patience for His worship. Do you know of any similarity to Him?" (19: 65)

There is nothing like Him.

No matter how “happy” we feel with other things, nothing can ever rival Him.

Not a boyfriend/ money/ fashion- none of these things will ever be able to fully satisfy us. Because everything around us is like us...it is weak....is fragile..and in need.

It is Allah alone that is Powerful, All Mighty, and Independent (Not in need)

HE should be the center of our lives.
Everything/ and everyone else will fail/disappoint you some time. Everything else will fade over time.

Everyone upon the earth will perish, (26) And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor. (27) So which of the favors of your Lord would you deny? (28 (Surat Al Rahman)

Always remind yourself:
What can your cousin do for you? Does he provide you the oxygen you breathe? IF you asked him for another minute to live, could he grant it to you? If something were to happen to someone you dearly care about (say your parents), would you turn to your cousin to help you or Allah to pull you through?

When you start to feel like you're forgetting Allah and thinking only of this person, remind yourself that Allah alone is your Savoir.

And remember what we said in an earlier facebook status:
 Here on earth.... everyone has their own flaws, moods, quirks, and baggage. If you’re waiting for someone perfect to 'rescue you', someone who’s going to know what to say/ do/ act all of the time, then you’re up for disappointment. No 'man'/ 'person' has the solution to everything. No person will be able to fix your life for you.
The only One capable of that is Allah. Through out all of your life, HE has been right there, on your side, guiding you and protecting you....

When My servants ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them): I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calleth on Me: Let them also, with a will, Listen to My call, and believe in Me: That they may walk in the right way. (2:186)

IF you are finding it hard to swallow after this post, never fear. We talked before in an earlier post (and a very very similar question, hehe) about how to nurture one's love for Allah and how to increase it.

Remember, hun, to make Him number 1, we have to refrain from all that He has forbidden and do all that He has commanded. We bow down to Allah, alone =)

Hope this helps, sweetie..

With all our love,


Parents and the Internet

>> Saturday, March 3, 2012

Salaam Sisters,
I'm not supposed to use the internet lately, well cause I'm not allowed. My parents kind of banned me cause they thought I was having a relationship with someone online. In the past I did have one, but I learned my lesson and alhumdulillah I have no intention of going down that road again. I told my parents that and I know my mom believed me and I think my dad did as well. Of course, Shaytaan has his way of tricking so I can understand if my parents are worried and I don't mind them checking up on me... but they took my ipod and laptop and everything. And I do tend to lose my temper so I talk back sometimes. But taking all my tech from me for that reason is a bit extreme especially since I'm working on myself now. It's been a week, and I school from home so I need to do my work on a computer or something but I guess I'm kind of scared to ask for my laptop. I don't want to seem like I'm desperate for it and I don't want to look suspicious. And I keep getting in trouble for not mailing any work in but I don't know how to explain that it's cause I need my laptop. And I was supposed to have finished a course a week or so ago which I told my parents I did but I haven't. I'm a bit of a procrastinator with school, it's not like I have zero motivation. I know I want to become a psychologist one day iA but its so hard to get myself to do stuff. I'm getting better though but I don't know how to sort out the mess I've made in my life. Please help.
-A sister who has really made a mess of her life. 

Wa'alaikumussalam wa rahmatullah dear Sister, 

I'm glad you've realized that a relationship before marriage is not the right way to go, alhamdulillah, and I can also see that you're working on yourself. May Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) grant you istiqaamah. Ameen! :D

Okay, first things first, you have to earn back your parents' trust, the key word being earned. It's attained, not given. As my dad always says to me and my siblings, "All of this stuff is a privilege, you have to earn it". They don't have to give us anything. It's not our right to have our own gadgets and such.  And honey, I know this is hard. Trust me, I know what you're saying, but our tongue can be the cause of getting us into so much trouble in the aakhirah, so we have to be really careful.

Uh-oh, now you not having your laptop is definitely a problem since you have to get back to your studies.  Try compromising with your parents. How about doing your work on the desktop computer so your parents can check in on you whenever they want to? Or if you don't have a computer, bring your laptop downstairs and do your work in front of your parents. If I were you, I wouldn't ask for the iPod back just yet. Take what you can get right now. When see parents see you improving, they'll give it back to you themselves, inshaAllah. :)

When I was in a tight spot a few months ago, I ended up telling a friend all that I was going through, and subhanAllah, it helped me so much. May Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) reward her immensely. She set me straight and related to me the incident of Owais al-Qarni (radi Allahu 'anh). I'll relate the story (more or less to the effect of what happened) below quickly:

Owais al-Qarni (radi Allahu 'anh) was from Yemen and had a mother who was very ill. He stayed home and took care of her. Now, Owais was living during the time of the Prophet sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam and he desperately wanted to travel to Madinah to see the Prophet Muhammad (salallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) but at the same time, he didn't want to leave his mother behind. He was torn between his mother and visiting the prophet sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam. 
Finally, Owais made the decision. He chose to stay behind and take care of his mother. 
 He gave up the greatest honor in this dunya...he had the chance to see the Prophet Muhammad (salallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) , and still, he didn't take it, just to obey his mother, and in essence obeying his Lord. He knew his priorities. He had them set straight. And because of this, Owais (radi Allahu 'anh) was given the honor of being a sahabi without having ever met the Prophet (salallahu 'alaihi wa sallam). Rasulullah (salallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) even instructed Umar  (radi Allahu 'anh) to have Owais  (radi Allahu 'anh) make du'aa for him and the ummah if he ever had the chance to meet him. And how did he get this honor? Only because he listened to his mother. SubhanAllah!

Can you even begin imagining how he felt?! Yet, still, he chose to please Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala). May Allah ('aza wa jall) please him and be pleased with him. Ameen! Sometimes--or a lot of the times, honestly--you need that push from your friends to get you going again. So do all of this for the sake of Allah. Remember, you're obeying Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala)  through obeying your parents.

Some practical things you can do: if you have a dresser (or mirror in your room) or something you look at every day in the morning before you leave your room for the day, write on a post-it or your mirror with a marker (dry-erase works best, lol) something like "Don't talk back!" or something like that, and circle it. Make it stick out! These really are great reminders!

Do khidmah of your parents. Try helping out more than usual. Does your dad like tea after dinner? Does you mother like to drink coffee? Offer to make it for them. Jannah lies underneath the feet of our mothers. 

If things are really getting very sour between you and your parents, try getting a mediator to sit in in your compromises. A sister or brother, perhaps?

When you're really mad at your parents, try this: make du'aa for them. Remember the sunnah of what to do when you're angry. If you're standing, then sit. If you're sitting, then lie down for a bit. When you get mad, walk away (respectfully). Don't act upon your anger. Remember Allah(subhaanahu wa ta'aala) . Nothing is worth disobeying Him, absolutely nothing. Yes, you will probably cry...a lot, but still, try to do the right thing, only for His sake. 

Make du'aa, make du'aa, make du'aa. Never give up hope in Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) . Wake up for tahujjud. After every hardship there comes ease, and remember that Allah (swt) never tests anyone more than they can bear. I can just imagine how frustrated you are. Think about it; this is your chance to get close to Allah. And remember this too; if a mu'min gets pricked by a thorn even, Allah ('aza wa jall) expiates some of his sins for that. 

I know this is hard and extremely frustrating, but make du'aa and istighfaar. You might fall short of this again and again ( I know I did and still do) but keep trying. That's our job in this dunya. We all will and do make mistakes, but our job is to make sincere tawbah and repentance. It can take days, weeks or even months to earn back your parents' trust. Don't give up and keep at it, inshaAllah!

“Allahumma laa sahla illaa maa ja’altahu sahlaa, wa anta taj’alus sa’ba in shi’ta sahlaa.”
(O Allah, nothing is easy except what you make easy, and You can make what is difficult easy if You wish).
And one last thing, time will make it better, inshaAllah. We all make mistakes. Just don't let them hold you back. I remember hearing from a scholar (he came to my community masjid for a lecture) that once you truly do repent and you still feel as if you haven't forgiven yourself, go  and frequent the masjid, because there, the angels make du'aa for Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) to have mercy on you for as long as you're there.

There's also another beautiful du'aa I'd like to share with you. It's one of my absolute favorites.

Laa ilaaha illaa Allaah al-haleem al-kareem, subhaana Allah rabbi al-`arshi al-adheem, wal-hamdu lillaahi rabbi al-`aalameen, asaluka moojibaati rahmatik, wa `azaaima maghfiratik, wa al-ghaneemata min kulli birr, wa as-salaamata min kulli ithm, laa tada` lee dhanban illa ghafartah, wa laa hamman illaa farrajtah, wa laa haajatan hiya laka ridhan illaa qadhaytahaa yaa arhama ar-rahimeen. 

(There is no Allah but Allah, the Clement, the Bountiful; glory be to Allah, Lord of the Mighty Throne; praise be to Allah, Lord of the worlds; I ask of You for the things that merit Your mercy and the things that bring me Your forgiveness; I beseech You for all that is virtuous, and freedom from all sins; do not leave for me any sin unless You forgive it, no worry unless You remove it, and no legitimate need of mine that is pleasing to You unless You fulfill it, O the Most Merciful of those who show mercy!)

This is what works for me. I hope it helped! Maybe some of the other sisters have more advice that they can offer, inshaAllah! :D May Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) have us all be among the people who obey Him through obeying our parents. Ameen!

I'm going to attach a link to Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam's lecture on trials and tribulations to the bottom of this post. It's a great lecture, mashAllah.  May Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) preserve him. Take a listen if you can. :)




I can't feel any consistency on what i am doing.. that includes my FAITH...sometimes i feel like i wanna pray now with full intentions and then later i won't. same goes on my fasting, studies,work. etc.. I know what is wrong, and what is right, what is obligatory and what is haraam and that i have been into a islamic university for almost ten years.. and i tell you that's the biggest problem. I've been thinking so hard on this all the time. i was thinking that maybe, i haven't yet understood the ESSENCE on what i'm doing for me to appreciate it.please let me know.. i want to change these habits, before its too late, i want to do things firmly with sincerity in my heart. i want to do this for ALLAH's sake,i wanna be like you guys.. and i hope you could give me a new start... thanks a lot :))

Dear Sister,

First of all, I apologize for taking so long to answer you. But seriously, you asked a great question. You said you know what's halal and what's not...what's obligatory and what's not permissible. You go to an Islamic university you know all the rules. And yet, you're lacking consistency....

Sister, you have hit right on the nail! That is the problem most of us have. 

If we look to the Qu'ran, it  says:
{So stand (O Muhammad) firm and straight (on the religion of Islam) as you are commanded.} (Hud 11: 112)
Commenting on this verse, Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said that no other verse from the entire Qur’an was revealed upon the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) that was harder upon him than this verse. And due to this, he (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, "(The surah of) Hud and its companions have made my hair white".
Allahu A'alim, but from this hadith, we can deduce that remaining steadfast in this world of temptation (dunya) is not easy. That is the TEST.
There are days when you wake up and you don't feel like doing anything but staying in bed.......days when you feel like you can't stand your parents....days when your heart breaks because you didn't get something you were really really hoping for...
There are temptations everywhere you look- what you watch- what you hear- the people around you. 
There's an enemy who is constantly trying to mislead you....
 “… surely I [Shaytaan] will sit and wait against them on Your Straight Path. Then I will come to them from before them and behind them, from their right and from their left, and You will not find most of them as thankful ones.” Surah al-A’raf 16-17." 
And there is your heart, in the middle of it all, which forgets....Forgets that it's in a test. Forgets that there is a day that we will stand before Allah and face the consequences of our decisions. 
An Arab poet once said: 
“He is only called insaan (man) because of his nasyaan (forgetfulness)And it is only called al-qalb (the heart) because it constantly varies (yataqallib).”

I know that you said that you seem to have not gotten the "Essence" of things...but the reality is that the Essence is very simple:
 We are creations who will be brought forth to our Creator, who is the Most Merciful, but at the same time, the Just. And we will stand 'trial' .
In fact, if we put it in even more simple terms, the essence is that: we believe and that we act on our beliefs. 

On the authority of Abu `Amr - and he is also called Abu `Amrah - Sufyan ibn `Abdullah Ath-Thaqafi (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: "O Messenger of Allah, tell me something about Islam which I can ask of no one but you." He (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "Say: ‘I believe in Allah’,  and then be Steadfast". (Muslim)

What helps us with this essence is 
 a) Making Dua

Our Lord! Let not our hearts deviate (from the truth) after You have guided us…” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:8 – interpretation of the meaning];

“Anas, may Allaah be pleased with him,  said, ‘The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam used to repeatedly say, “O Controller of the hearts! Make my heart steadfast upon Your religion” so I said to him, ‘O Prophet of Allaah! We believed in you and in what you came with; do you fear that we may deviate?’ He said, “Yes, all mankind’s hearts are between two of the fingers of Allaah. He changes them as He pleases” (Tirmithi & Ibn Maajah).

b) Learning who is our Creator and loving Him.
 One reason many of us lack consistency is because we don't actually understand who Allah is.  What does it mean that He's As-Shakur, or The Ever Appreciative? What does it mean that He's Al Wakeel? ....
Let's look at the example of His Name "Al Ghani" (which we did in an earlier post)

Moses said, "If you should disbelieve, you and whoever is on the earth entirely - indeed, Allah is Free of need (Al Ghani) and Praiseworthy." . (Surah Ibrahim, 14:8).

Reflecting on this Name, we realize that Allah is not in need of our faith, our worship or our obedience. If the whole world were to become unbelievers, that would not harm Him in the least. The truth is that His is an endless treasury. As opposed to this, we are all poor and all 'in need'. Even rich people. NO matter how rich they are, they are still dependent on Allah, and nothing stays in their hands. Allah said:

O My servants, I have forbidden oppression for Myself and have made it forbidden amongst you, so do not oppress one another. O My servants, all of you are astray except for those I have guided, so seek guidance of Me and I shall guide you, O My servants, all of you are hungry except for those I have fed, so seek food of Me and I shall feed you. O My servants, all of you are naked except for those I have clothed, so seek clothing of Me and I shall clothe you. O My servants, you sin by night and by day, and I forgive all sins, so seek forgiveness of Me and I shall forgive you. O My servants, you will not attain harming Me so as to harm Me, and will not attain benefitting Me so as to benefit Me. O My servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to be as pious as the most pious heart of any one man of you, that would not increase My kingdom in anything. O My servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to be as wicked as the most wicked heart of any one man of you, that would not decrease My kingdom in anything. O My servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to rise up in one place and make a request of Me, and were I to give everyone what he requested, that would not decrease what I have, any more that a needle decreases the sea if put into it.....

IF you can reflect and actually live with that Name, alone, you are bound to reach a higher state of Ihsan, because you will realize the truth of your relationship with Allah- He does not need you but you are in desperate need of Him. 

IN fact, in another verse Prophet Mosa says: "My Lord, indeed I am, for whatever good You would send down to me, in need." 
 When you learn more about His Names, you are confronted with His (utter) Perfection and our imperfection- His Magnificent abilities and our weaknesses. 
And you learn to love Him.
Think about it. What is a young girl willing to do for a man that she loves? Allah subhanoo Wa' Tala is beyond compare. He is the One who created you, decided that His mercy would prevail over His wrath, answered your prayers, given you the air you breathe and food you eat. Every moment of the day, He is watching you...
"He (the Prophet sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam) said: That you worship Allah as if you are seeing Him, for though you don't see Him, He, verily, sees you.” 
Many sisters have recommended this series: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TuM-L-btDrc

c) Remember Death
There will come a moment and it will be your last. You will not get to drink even an extra sip of water...And you will not be able to have even one more moment to say "Alhamdillah". The angels will stand at your side and your soul will depart. No one standing next to you will be able to help you. And your Hereafter will begin. 
Although we often say that "death is a reality", many of us do not actually live that way. Write down your "will" just an exercise. Sit down in your room. Turn off all the lights and imagine for real that you are in your grave. Ask yourself the questions you will be asked at the grave:
* Who is your lord?
* What is your religion?
* Who is this man that was sent among you? 
And when you're done asking yourself these questions, tell me, what do you feel like doing? 

D) Make realistic goals. 
All too often we set unrealistic goals for ourselves. We want to be "super Muslimahs" right NOW. We want to do everything at once- kickstart a halaqah, memorize the whole Quran, pray tahajud all night, etc. Unfortunately, instead of actually doing these things, we often end up overwhelming ourselves. 
What you can do instead is work on ONE THING per week/ month. Decide on a new thing you want to do (e.g. fast the extra days) and work on that for a while. Once you've successfully done it a couple of times (several months, a couple of weeks, depends on you), you can add a new ibahada/ thing to do.

Do give yourself a small reward when you're doing well, :)
E) Have a heart to heart talk
When you do find yourself laxing off, sit down and actually have a real conversation with yourself.
Ask yourself " Where are you headed? What's going on? What has caused this change? What small things can you do to make things right again?" (E.g. saying the daily adkhar) Don't ignore it and hope that somehow you're going to get better on yourself. You need to actually confront yourself and work on it.
Think about your place in jannah....Think about what you WANT and how you will get it in jannah, inshaAllah. 

Other than that, you can get more ideas on how to be improve your imaan and be more consistent from this post, here; http://dearlittleauntie.blogspot.com/2010/12/fed-up-of-roller-coaster-ride.html

I hope the other sisters also share their tips!
May Allah guide us all =)

P.S. I don't want you to ever want to be like us. "Online" it's very easy to seem like we're "perfect Muslimahs", but the reality is that we also have our own struggles and problems, too. 


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