A Non-Muslim Asks: What's it like?

>> Friday, September 28, 2012

I am writing a paper on Muslims. How hate crimes against them has increased since 9/11. I am trying to show in my paper that you shouldn't hate Muslims because of what happened. Tell their side of the story. If you can help that would be greatly thanked.                                                 1 What does it mean to be a Muslim?                                                                                                    2 What is it like to be Muslim woman, and a man?                                                                             3 How has your life changed if it has changed at all since 9/11

Dear Interested,
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk a Muslim about what it means to be a Muslim. It is honestly a refreshing change from hearing others tell us what our religion says and what it means to be a Muslim :) I also can't thank you enough for deciding to write such a paper.

As for your questions, I have decided I will answer them, and also, if you don't mind, leave them open to discussion for the sisters who read this blog to answer. I hope our combined answers will help give you a better idea of what it means to be a Muslim and how 9/11 affected us :)

1What does it mean to be a Muslim?

That's a great question.

Many people would be surprised to know that Moses and Jesus were Muslims :)

That's because being Muslim doesn't mean being a certain race or nationality and certainly has nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism. To be a Muslim means to follow "Islam" and Islam means submission to God (something all of the prophets commanded). Basically, a Muslim is a person who willingly submits his or her heart, soul, and body to God and  voluntarily lives his/her according to His Will and His Commandments. Being a Muslim means that you recognize that you are a creation of God and that God has a say in every single thing that you do, say, wear, eat, etc. A Muslim believes that nothing is equal to God and nothing-  not a saint, idol, statue, "son", prophet , righteous man, our own egos, money, fashion, etc.- should be put in the place of God or loved  equally as Him.

A Muslim isn't simply a title that one gets, though. To be a Muslim requires both believing in certain things and committing one's self to certain actions. After all, devotion to God and true love should be demonstrated in our actions. Therefore, in order for a person to be counted as Muslim, they must believe in:

 1) The Oneness of God and His Exclusive right to worship and authority 
 2) The angels
  3) The prophets (including Noah, Moses, Abraham, Jesus, and the final Messenger, Mohammed)
  4) The Divine Scriptures (the Torah, Psalms and Gospel, and Qu'ran- but only the Qur'an remains exactly as it was Revealed)
 5) The Day of Judgment  
6) The Divine Decree  (: 1) God knows everything.  He knows what has happened and what will happen.  2) God has recorded all that has happened and all that will happen.  3) Whatever God wills to happen happens, and whatever He wills not to happen does not happen.  4) God is the Creator of everything.

They must also agree to do 5 things :) These 5 actions strengthen our relationship with our Lord and also our relationship with others and our society.

1) Testify or bear witness that they believe that God is One and that Mohammed is His final messenger 
2) Pray 5 times a day (God comes first and is greater than everything)
3) Fast the month of Ramadan (except if they are sick, pregnant, etc. and have a reason to delay the days/etc.)
4) Give obligatory charity 
5) Perform pilgrimage to Mecca ONCE in their lifetime

2 What is it like to be Muslim woman, and a man?
What an interesting question :)

It feels liberating. As a Muslim, I bow down to nothing and no one but God, Almighty. Having this concept completely emancipates me from becoming a slave to money or to society's expectations and wants. Life to a Muslim  is so much more than just getting the fanciest car or biggest apartment or even going on the best vacations. Life is about worshiping the one True God. 

In fact,  Islam emancipates me from my own self and my lower desires:it gives me a chance every moment of the day to rise above my material and physical desires and transcend to a more God conscious level.

It also feels very peaceful and allows us to be in sync with the universe which we believe is all worshiping God. 

Fundamentally a Muslim understands that everything is in God's hands and this is extremely comforting. We know that God is All Wise in His decrees and All Merciful and that whatever circumstances we are exposed to, we are exposed to for our own benefit. We know that if we relied on God with true reliance, He would provide us with our sustenance as He pro
vides the birds: they go out hungry and come home full :)

It feels like a great honor. As a Muslim, I communicate with God at least 5 times a day. There are no intermediaries put between us. He hears me when I call out to Him and He responds. My relationship with God is direct and to call this a blessing is an understatement. 

At the same time, it sometimes feels different. We have a saying that we should be as strangers in this world- just people passing by. When others are out partying, going to clubs, perhaps drinking or basically seizing the "day",a Muslim stays away from all these things. Instead, a Muslim says, "You don't only live once. You live twice and the choices you make, you'll be held accountable for." 

3 How has your life changed if it has changed at all since 9/11?
It feels like my religion was hijacked. I left the United States before 9/11, but I can honestly say I worry about ever visiting it again- about going to the airport and being checked or stopped- about how others will treat me because of the fact that I wear the veil and am visibly Muslim.
I thought though I would leave this question mainly for the other sisters to answer :)


My Friends Say...

>> Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I'm a simple girl. I hardly ever put make up on and I'm a little chubby. The truth is, it's really hard for me to feel beautiful. I only feel it when I wear jilbab and think about how Allah is pleased with my clothing and how I look like the beautiful Muslim girls I admire. The thing though is that when my friends and I have girl parties, I sometimes try and dress up a bit. My friends say that I look pretty then and that I should wear those kinds of tight sparkley clothes more and make-up. They say that I should dress up like that wherever I go. It doesn't make me feel good. At all.I don't even see what they're talking about. I still don't feel beautiful and would rather wear a simple skirt and shirt to the parties. I just need to talk to someone. :(

Asalamu aliakaum wa rahmatullah wa barkatoo!

Sis, I'm really sorry that you find it hard to feel beautiful.  You are beautiful. You were created by Allah!! Of course, you're beautiful. 

Have you ever seen pictures of movie actresses without their make-up? Or the Dove Video on beauty? It shows how all those famous people look just like you and me.....It's just they have a little direction and help with how to bring out the best of their faces/bodies. 

But hunny, I want you to realize something. Much more important than your body, though is your soul. You have a beautiful soul...

I REALLY want you to read these two articles we wrote before about beauty: 

Whether you have make up on or don't or have a nice dress or not, this is about your self-esteem and how you view yourself. Girl, you have to respect yourself. You have to keep reminding yourself that you are someone honored in Islam, worthy and precious...someone beautiful and with a LOT to offer. 

As for your friends....

Imagine that you were in a room, looking through some pictures. Every time you landed on a picture of a woman wearing a short pink skirt or a tight outfit, a voice automatically came on, saying "That's beautiful". Whenever you flipped to a picture of a long and loose dress, though, you would hear nothing, though. Just imagine.

Flip to a loose outfit: nothing.

Tight dress: "That's beautiful."

Imagine that happened every single time.

What do you think would happen?

Let's take a not so wild guess. Most likely, your mind would form some sort of association or link with "beautiful" and "short/ tight clothes". If this kept happening to you, you would find yourself soon automatically saying with the voice "That's beautiful" whenever you saw such a picture...

Unfortunately, that's what's happening with a lot of us (i.e. your friends). With movies, billboards, magazines, advertisements, and cosmetic products, etc. all advertising a certain"look" as beautiful, many of us today have been brainwashed into thinking beauty is a certain size, color, shape, style, etc. Even if we don't actually say it out loud, we actually do have some seriously distorted definitions of beauty floating around in our subconsciousness minds. A definition that is based on the terms the fashion and cosmetic industries tell us.

And that's the thing.

When your friends look at you and tell you to dress "in tight sparkely clothes" or with clothing that is "more in vogue" and to "put on make-up", they're not telling you that because they think that you are ugly. They're doing that because they have knowingly or unknowingly, bought into the media's idea of beauty. When they tell you to dress up in that way, they do so because they see "beauty potential" in you. They see "hidden beauty" and they want you to show it to others. They've basically bought into the message "If you've got it, flaunt it".

Of course, I'm not saying you should do that, though. I'm just saying that your friends don't think you're ugly and they genuinely do mean that you look beautiful. They're just influenced by the definition of beauty they have been told.

But yes, back to the part where we left off. The whole "you shouldn't flaunt it if you got it".

You're doing the right thing, sis, by dressing modestly:)

Islam is totally against the message of flaunting it.

Islam teaches us that we are very precious. You wouldn't throw a pearl on to the street, would you? You're far more precious than that pearl.

Islam doesn't denounce your beauty but says that your beauty is reserved for only certain individuals to see. Not every random stranger on the street deserves to see/ gawk at your beauty/figure.

Instead, you're just like a queen who allows only certain individuals to enter her royal court and meet her.

So yeah..whereas your friends say that "you should wear the same thing everywhere you go", the reality is, that isn't really true. I mean, let me ask you a question: would you wear the same thing you would attend a slumber party with to a meeting with the principal of your school?

The truth is, who you're with, the situation you're in, the rules of the place all dictate what we wear. Schools have uniforms....Workplaces have dress codes...even some restaurants have a dress code (such as, must be wearing shoes/shirt).

The one with the greatest rights upon us-Allah subhanoo wa' Tala- has the greatest rights to dictate what we should wear and in front of who.

Allah subhanoo wa' Tala is the one who clearly said that you are allowed to dress in a certain way with some people and not allowed to with others. Since Allah created you and me, He knows what's best for us.

And say to the faithful women to lower their gazes, and to guard their private parts, and not to display their beauty except what is apparent of it, and to extend their headcoverings (khimars) to cover their bosoms (jaybs), and not to display their beauty except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband's fathers, or their sons, or their husband's sons, or their brothers, or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their womenfolk, or what their right hands rule (slaves), or the followers from the men who do not feel sexual desire (elderly men), or the small children to whom the nakedness of women is not apparent, and not to strike their feet (on the ground) so as to make known what they hide of their adornments. And turn in repentance to Allah together, O you the faithful, in order that you are successful[Surah-An Nur, Ayah 31]

So what should you do?

1. Don't succumb to peer pressure. You're doing the right thing!

2. Tell your friends that you choose to dress differently depending on who is going to "be there"/whether it's mixed or not/ etc. because Allah told us to do that. Explain that you would appreciate their support in this and it's really something important to you....and that you feel really beautiful when you feel like your clothes are pleasing to Allah.

Here are some other points and tips to keep in mind from a similar post here: 

One thing I am going to tell you about your friends telling you to put make up on is that although I used to be anti make-up, with time, I realized that make- up can be a tool (we're talking about all girl's parties). Make up experts actually study how to enhance certain features and make others stand out/ not stand out.  Basically how to let your beauty shine more. So just learning a tip or two can sometimes make all the difference. I know that my friends compliment me so much more when I have kohl on: the kohl enhances and brings out the shape of my eyes more. It doesn't mean that I am ugly without the kohl. It means that the kohl helps make the beauty stand out more...

Here's an article for you, too, about a girl who undergoes a complete transformation just by putting some make-up on :)

Again, though, it's just a tool.Whether you use it or not, you are STILL beautiful =) Just remember that.

I hope the other sisters can also add their own input, inshaAllah.



>> Thursday, September 13, 2012

I CAN'T control my emotions in my period. I hate to be talking of this subject, but it's such a problem. I'm very irritable, I'm rude to everyone, I cry for no reason, and I can't get any studies done in the peak days. I'm just useless and very ungrateful to Allah in those days. What do I do?

Dear Hormonal,

I know what you mean.
There was this one time where I remember I just grabbed a whole box of chocolate bars and munched my way through them.
 Me: Munch. Munch. Munch. Finished? Next one. Looks up. Err...are you talking to me? Kindly press the exit button (the door) and leave me to my chocolate,  please.  

Needless to say, it was very much not a Mona Lisa sight, lol (i.e. not a pretty sight...) 

But yeah, I definitely understand what you mean about being down on those days. It's s great though that you have decided to no longer use it as an excuse to be "rude" to others or "be ungrateful to Allah".

 So what can you do? :)

Well, let's work on the irritability. If you're under stress or feeling intense pain, it makes sense that you would be a little irritable. When you're irritable, you feel like taking it out on someone ...You know that saying? Misery loves company. It's really rather true, unfortunately. 

Pain --> Irritability -->;Wanting to take it out on someone--> Rudeness and Emotional Meltdown....

Basically, you get stuck in a cycle. 

That's why it's a good idea to tackle your physical discomfort, first. Here are some of suggestions to decrease your pain and even help your mood: 

Step 1 Exercise regularly. Getting enough exercise can relieve cramping and boost your mood. Over time, exercise can even prevent some premenstrual symptoms. Even low-impact exercise such as walking and dancing can provide relief.
Step 2 Practice relaxation techniques. (It lists yoga as one, but why don't we go with breathing techniques?)                                                                                                                 Step 3 Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Include lean protein, good fats such as olive oil and nuts, and fruits and vegetables. Whole grains contain vitamins B6 and E, which may relieve symptoms. The calcium in low-fat dairy products can also help. (I've personally heard that eating bananas before your period helps reduce cramps.)

Tips and Warnings
  • Drink more water, which flushes out your kidneys and can decrease bloating. Consult your doctor if your premenstrual symptoms are severe or interfere with your life. You may have a condition called premenstrual dysphoric disorder, which can be treated with medication.
  • Avoid salt, sugar, alcohol and caffeine, all of which may worsen your symptoms.
From: http://www.livestrong.com/article/373283-how-to-deal-with-rising-hormones-in-the-second-half-of-a-menstrual-cycle/#ixzz24s3rF5hF  

I've also heard that herbal teas can help make you feel better (like chamomile, ginger, or peppermint) and adding a few drops of oils to your bath (lavender, rose, olive oil). You can read more about those here: 

Hot baths or hot water bottles can help the tension in your stomach, too :)

Besides all of those things to make you feel more physically comfortable, what can you do for your emotional needs? What can you do to also reconnect with Allah and not feel ungrateful to Him? 

  • Think about utilizing your "emotional needs" and turning to Allah with a LONG dua. I mean, how many of us "crash when we get our periods" and just end up calling a good girl friend and complaining about anything and everything? Why not turn it into a positive dua where you ask Allah for the things that you NEED (instead of complaining about what you have) and whatever else you really want?  
  • Make an extra effort to listen to the Qur'an. I've actually found that my heightened emotions can actually make me tear more when listening to the Qu'ran than on a non-period day :)
  • Listen to some beautiful nasheeds. Soothing rhythms and inspiring words that express beautiful meanings can really help calm you down/ help you pinpoint your emotions a bit. Here's an example:

  • Save some short Islamic videos for that time. They can be ones you watched and really liked or ones you haven't watched, yet. 
  • Browse through some beautiful Islamic Tumbler accounts....You may just find a captivating quote that will speak to your heart and mood and also bring you a step closer to Allah :)

As for ingratitude, start by working on that during your other days...the days when you don't have your period. Each day, write ONE thing that you are thankful for, including even (not having cramps today :P) health...the ability to concentrate...etc. 

By doing that, you've built up a stock of "gratitude attitude" that will hopefully leak over during your period. If you write down in your mobile or notebook, too, that would be awesome because then you could just leaf through it during your period days.

Think also bout the fact that you don't have to go through this pain every day. That's not a "right" you have....That's a gift from Allah. If Allah wanted, He could have willed that you had your period for 25 days, for example instead of a week. Imagine!

And think about how Merciful Allah is that He doesn't ask you to wake up at fajr time to pray. He could easily have forced it upon us....yet, instead, He gave us a license to not pray! How many teachers do you know that would accept that as an excuse? How about bosses? (As a working woman, I can tell you the answer to that. Z.E.R.O. Their attitude is 'You deal with it".)

I'm also going to include a video for you to watch/ keep in mind: (I just watched it today :)

Look at this woman. Her medical condition is that she doesn't have "fat". Fat. Have you ever considered that as a blessing? I'm sure most of us haven't. This video shows us that even our FAT CAN be a blessing. So many things we have, we take for granted. We don't even know what to be thankful for, really :)  Try saying that to Allah: Your blessings are numerous upon me, that I can't count them or even know them. 

What about being rude?

Let's be honest, girls. A lot of us DO use our periods as an excuse to "barf" up rude remarks. I know I've been guilty of it, myself. 

But it's not fair to the people around us, is it? 

If you're at the dinner table and feel like you really want to bite someone's head off because they're like "slurping the soup"/ "talking about something that at that moment seems ridiculously stupid to ONLY YOU" and have nothing polite to say, it's not a bad idea to excuse yourself for a bit until you're feeling a little better. If you're rude with your friends, you can even warn them in advance, like "Guys, I get really cranky during my period and I just want to apologize in case I say anything rude to you". 

The next step though is to really work on it: count to 20 before saying the comment, think about typing the comment into your mobile for example but not actually saying it out loud or sending it to anyone, and ask yourself, "When my period is done, will I be happy that I said this? Does this comment make me a better person? Is it necessary to say?"

As for not getting things done and being not so productive, one thing is to write a schedule and to keep in mind that you don't feel like working much when you have your period. You should have a pretty good idea when your period is arriving. If you happen to know that you're going to have a huge assignment to turn in or an upcoming test, try to force yourself to get as much work done as possible, beforehand.

During your actual period, I know that it can sometimes be hard to concentrate. Try to break up the workload so that it doesn't feel like it's too much. If you can, ask a friend to quiz your or study with you.  If you're not up to meeting with people, try putting an alarm on your mobile for 20 minutes. Just concentrate for 20 minutes and then take a quick break. 
Then go back to studying for 20 minutes...and so forth.

Another thing to keep in mind is that usefulness is not only about studying hard. You can be productive by doing some other things, too. For instance, I know my first period day is usually my most challenging day. If I had the ability to, I would personally divide my studying for the days AFTER IT, and instead, on my period do some other tasks that need to be done, like "cleaning up my desktop", sorting my closet, finding those missing socks (haha), trying out a new recipe, cleaning up my room, etc." Maybe downloading some "sample tests" but not necessarily doing them the same day.....

And dhikr, dhikr, dhikr. Take a moment to say Alhamdullilah. Saying that will make your day count, inshaAllah :)

Well, sweets, that is all that I could come up with. I hope the sisters here can give us some more ideas on how to be normal when we're feeling utterly hormonal :)


The only thing we share...is a last name.

>> Monday, September 3, 2012

Salam, aunties,
I've got a major problem. I really can't stand my siblings. I've got a brother and sister but I don't feel like we are even related. IstagfirAllah, my brother is involved in everything he shouldn't be. It's so bad- smoking- clubbing- etc. He does not pray and didn't even fast Ramadan. In the beginning, I tried talking to him, but it's like there's no point. My sister is in her own little land where everything in the universe revolves around her. She also has no sense of identity or any idea of what responsibility is.
The disrespect they show my mother and the humiliation they've caused my family is just getting to be too much. I literally am too embarrassed to look my neighbors in the eye or to even go to the masjid because of all that they've done. It's actually been a month since I've talked to them and I feel like I may never talk to them again. Please help me change my heart and mind because I know I’m capable of never speaking to them ever again and it’s terrifying me.

Dearest Sister,

I could read how tired you were in your email. Tired of seeing haram and tired of having to deal with your siblings who don't act like siblings.Tired of the neighbor's talk and the drama and the humiliation you end up having to deal with because of irresponsible siblings. 

It definitely doesn't sound easy, at all. I can understand how you feel- how their actions can just drive you completely crazy- and how you just want to knock some sense into them or completely ignore their existence, but sis....did you ever think of it in this way:

 You don't choose who your relatives are.

Prophet Mohammed sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam certainly didn't get to choose Abu Lahab as his uncle....Prophet Noah didn't get to choose for his son to be a disbeliever....Prophet Abraham didn't get to choose that his father would be an idol carver and worshiper.

Allah subhanoo Wa' Tala is the one who in His Wisdom chose our families for us.

These siblings that you have-- that you would never be friends with if you happened to cross paths with- were chosen for you and you were chosen for them. Did you ever think that maybe there was a reason you were all born to the same parents? Maybe Allah chose YOU for them so that you could help bring back your siblings?

Perhaps they were chosen for you as a test of faith and perhaps you were chosen for them to guide them back to Allah...?

Let me ask you another question...

Have you ever felt scared for your siblings' Hereafter? Have you ever felt your body shudder and shiver at the thought of them not making it to Paradise (We seek refuge in Allah and pray that is not the case)..But, really, have you ever talked to them not because you were embarrassed at all that they've done to your family name, but because you were terrified that someone so close to you might end up in hell? 

One of the things the Prophet sallah allahoo alyhee wa salam said is "None of you believes until you love for your brother what you love for yourself".

If we truly want our faith to be completed, then, we have to love for our siblings guidance and paradise as much as we love it for ourselves. Imagine how terrified you would be of dying as a non-Muslim. You should feel that same fear for them and want Islam for them as much as you want it for yourself.

What if it was YOU who was lost? Would you want your family to give up on you? Or keep trying?
Now, I know that your brother doesn't pray or fast and the other one is difficult with no sense of identity...

The thing is, it's totally alright to be disgusted by their actions. Hating the sins that they do and the fact that they cross Allah's "red lines" (boundaries) is a part of faith: 
The prophet sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam told us: 

On the authority of Abu Sa`id (Radiya Allah Anhoo) that the Prophet (sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam) said, “Whoever sees something evil should change it with his hand. If he cannot, then with his tongue; and if he cannot do even that, then in his heart. That is the weakest degree of faith.” (Muslim)

The weakest degree is to 'hate' what you're seeing when your brother goes clubbing or your sister disrespects your mother, etc.....

Allah SWT says, “…but Allah has endeared to you the faith and has made it pleasing in your hearts and has made hateful to you disbelief, defiance and disobedience. Those are the guided.” [Al-Hujurat 49:7]

But...cutting off ties with them is a different matter.

You know it and I know it. It's haram.

There is only one exception: you can cut family ties temporarily IF you believe that will help them realize the gravity of their sins/ the extent of their wrongdoing and encourage them to return to Allah's path. If, on the other hand, you believe that it will only make them persist in their sins, then you are obligated to keep advising them.

Let me give you some fatwas:
1. This person's Uncle does riba which is known to be a "war against Allah". He's in debt and continues to take loans/ etc. http://www.islamweb.net/emainpage/index.php?page=showfatwa&Option=FatwaId&Id=87124

  If cutting relations with him would make him stop dealing with usury and interest, then you should cut relations with him.
However, if cutting relations with him, renders him stubborn and makes him extend his dealings in falsehood, then you should not cut relations with him but rather continue advising him. 

2.This person's sister married a Christian man who converted just for her sake and doesn't actually practice Islam. (Her marriage then is completely invalid) http://www.islamweb.net/emainpage/index.php?page=showfatwa&Option=FatwaId&Id=88721

I know that bringing your siblings back into your life and talking to them might make your life "more difficult", but that's where the test lies for you. 

Did you know that the prophet sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam said:

"The believer who mixes with people and is patient in the face of their offense is preferable to the believer who does not mix with people and is not patient with their offense"

What about if these people are your siblings?

You don't have to be their best friend....but it is important not to completely cut the ties off.

Just saying at least "Asalamu aliakum" when you see them, sending them a message to their mobile, praying for them, giving them a book as a tape, making cupcakes for them, etc. 

In fact, as I type this, I'm reminded of a story.

You know the story of Abu Sufyan? Abu Sufyan was actually the Prophet sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam's cousin as well as his foster brother. Growing up, they had a strong relationship....And then, Prophet Mohammed began to deliver the message of Islam. That's when everything changed. Abu Sufyan did everything in his power to stop him. He literally became known as the arch-enemy of Islam. Imagine your cousin literally starting a war against you, trying to kill you, writing poetry against you...abusing you and doing everything in his power to ruin you. 

This continued year after year.

We're talking 20 years.

And then.....subhanAllah....Allah guided Abu Sufyan to accept Islam.

When he went to the Prophet to announce his conversion, the prophet sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam really couldn't look him in the eyes (because of everything he had done to him). Prophet Mohammed urned away from him. Abu Sufyan tried again and again Prophet Mohammed turned away and didn't meet his eyes.

This happened for a couple of days...And then: (I'm copy pasting this part: http://www.islamonline.com/news/articles/7/Abu_Sufyan_ibn_alHarith.html)

Abu Sufyan sat down at the door of the tent of Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) and his son Jafar stood beside him. But still Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) rejected to look at him.
The situation became too much for Abu sufyan and he said: By God, either the Prophet, peace be on him, shows he is pleased with me or I shall take my son and go wandering through the land until we die of hunger and thirst.
When Prophet Mohamed heard this, he relented and on leaving his tent, he looked more gently towards me then before. I so much hoped that he would smile.
Eventually Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) relented and told Abu Sufyan, "There is now no blame on you."
The Prophet then called Ali ibn Abi Talib who had newly embraced Islam and told him:
"Teach your cousin how to perform wudu and about the Sunnah. Then bring him back to me."
When Ali returned, the Prophet said: "Tell all the people that the Messenger of God is pleased with Abu Sufyan and that they should be pleased with him."

No matter what your siblings have done to you or your mother or to your family name, did they attack the Messenger of Allah? Did they attack Allah? Did they deny His existence? Abu Sufyan did that for yearsssssssssss, but in becoming a Muslim, he was guaranteed the rights of a Muslim (and the rights of the kinship ties).

Your siblings' rights in Islam are that you talk to them and that you keep trying to help them. Whenever you feel how hard it is to do that, remember the Prophet sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam and all that he went through.

And remind yourself of this:

Allah is ""Al Baseer". He is watching you and your siblings. 

Every act of obedience you show Him, every time you try to talk to your siblings, every time you try to patch things up, advise them, etc.- Allah knows. And rest assured that He will never let any of your acts go unrewarded. 
…and whatever good you put forward for yourselves - you will find it with Allah. Indeed, Allah of what you do, is Seeing. (2: 110)

You see? Allah will never let your efforts and deeds go to waste. NEVER. 

I also want you to imagine this was a test paper. And your teacher told you that the last page was one of the most important pages. Would you deliberately skip it? The kinship ties is so important in Islam that Allah linked His relationship to His servants with their relationship with their relatives. He warned that if someone severed it, He would sever His relationship with them:

Bukhari :: Book 9 :: Volume 93 :: Hadith 593
Narrated Abu Huraira:Allah’s Apostle said, “Allah created the creation, and when He finished from His creation the Rahm (womb) got up, and Allah said (to it). “Stop! What do you want? It said; “At this place I seek refuge with You from all those who sever me (i.e. sever the ties of Kinship.)” Allah said: “Would you be pleased that I will keep good relation with the one who will keep good relation with you, and I will sever the relation with the one who will sever the relation with you. It said: ‘Yes, ‘O my Lord.’ Allah said (to it), ‘That is for you.” And then Abu Huraira recited the Verse:– “Would you then if you were given the authority, do mischief in the land, and sever your ties of kinship.” (47.22)
Imagine all your praying and fasting and wearing the hijab.......Will that amount to anything if your relation is severed with Allah?

Your siblings will be fully accountable in front of Allah for their actions and the way they treat your mother, etc. But you will also be accountable for your actions, towards them, too.

So for now, I want you to try sister to sit down and try to remember a time when you truly loved them...when they stood by you or when you guys used to play together. I want you to focus really hard on what is at stake here (your own Hereafter) and on the punishment and reward of the kinship ties.

And just try....one more time :) 

Oh and before I go...one last thing. You know how you said your sister  has no sense of identity": did you ever try to understand why she is like that? Do you think she likes not knowing "who she is" or "what her identity is"? Try to befriend her and be there for her. Share some funny youtbue videos, great links, offer to go shopping with her...Let her know that you are here to help her. She might think that right now she doesn't need you, but  a few years from now, I bet you that she will be so grateful that you stood by her during these turbulent years. 

With all my love, 


And the tears roll down

>> Sunday, September 2, 2012

I have this serious problem that I'm very impatient and ungrateful. Every time something starts to go wrong, e.g. if I can't manage to study enough for a test and I'm worried) I first try to control myself, but eventually fail. I start to cry whenever I'm under pressure, and when I start crying I can't control my thoughts anymore. Is crying at such small things considered ungratefulness? (Please answer this, because crying is such a relief at times, and it wins me attention from my Mama =p but you need stimulus for crying; and the stimulus is always all the self-imagined bad things in your life). Eventually Allah Ta'ala always helps me out, and then I'm so ashamed. I'm living a very comfortable life, alhamdolillah, and get so worked up at these small things-- a fight with a family member, studies... And I shudder to think what will become of me if Allah (na oodho billah) gives me an actual loss, how will I pass that test with sabr when I fail so miserably in these little ones?

Dear Sis,

MashaAllah tabark Allah, it’s wonderful that you recognize you have a little problem on your hands and are trying to figure out how to overcome it. So, sis, it sounds like when things get just a little tough, you have a little trouble accepting it. Crying isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I tried searching for any fatwa but didn’t find anything saying that it’s haram.  Tears release stress and sometimes a good cry is just what you need. But the question though is…. just how often are you doing it? And what kind of thoughts are running in your head?

See, sis, Islam is not about denying your feelings. All of us feel unsure, scared, worried, nervous, disappointed, etc. at different points in our lives. What Islam is about, though, is empowering ourselves using our faith. Islam wants us to grow as individuals, to focus on what truly matters (succeeding in the Hereafter), and to step up and take charge of changing the world and ourselves. We’re told that a stronger Muslim is better in the sight of Allah and in both there is good. And we’re also told that if we see something wrong, we have to try to change it using our hands, tongue, or at least hate it with our heart. If we have to change the outside, then, we definitely are responsible for our “insides."

But that’s not all. Remember, Islam is about submission. Submission involves making God the center of our lives and voluntarily surrendering our will to Him. Part of submission means that our hearts feel “rida” or acceptance of anything that Allah decrees for us, even if it something that we don’t necessarily want. The more that we submit to God, the more that we grow stronger and we reveal our trust and confidence in Allah…we truly become slaves. You know when a father throws his child in the air up above? If you look at the child’s face, it’s all trust. He knows his father is going to catch him. That’s how we’re supposed to be…full of trust that Allah is going to catch us.  

See, sis, Allah makes it very clear that we will all be given tests in this world….the question is how will we deal with these tests?

Verily We have created man into toil and hardship. (90:4)

Do people think that they will be let go merely by saying: “We believe,” and that they will not be tested, (2) for We indeed tested those who went before them? (29: 2, 3)

But He also tells us something really important. He says:

Allah does not impose on any self any more than it can bear…(2: 286)

Think about that. Allah has promised that He will never give you more than you can bear. If you are given a test, you can get through it. You will. Just turn to Him, the Most Powerful.

Remember Prophet Abraham?

He was thrown into what scholars say was a HUGE HUGE HUGE fire.

It should have burned his skin. It should have completely killed him.

But he turned to Allah and Allah got him through it.

What about Prophet Moosa and his people? Fir’awan was right behind them! Yet Allah was closer (in His power, Seeing, Hearing, etc.) and He had the sea split to let Moosa and his people escape unharmed.

This is a law of Allah: No matter what you’re given, He will get you through it, so long as you turn to Him, trust in Him, and seek His help.

And sister, remember this. The Prophet told us some magical words:

How wonderful is the affair of the believer, for his affairs are all good, and this applies to no one but the believer. If something good happens to him, he is thankful for it and that is good for him. If something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience and that is good for him.” (Narrated by Muslim, 2999).

The truth is, sis, as we grow older, sis, we realize that this life gets harder. Parents start to grow older and more dependent on us. Little by little, we find ourselves in charge of financial responsibilities that we never thought of before. At work, we may find that our employer is not as understanding as we thought. If we have spouses/ children, we have to give more and more of ourselves. I’m not trying to tell you things are going to get worse. What I am trying to tell you, though, is that all of these little “tests” you’re going through are building blocks to help you be able to grow so that you can handle what is to come. Allah is training you, developing your muscles, and building up your endurance. This is actually an example of His Mercy. So when something happens, we should actually feel thankful.

And then, let’s not forget the biggest reason we should feel thankful. Allah is trying to keep us connected to Him. He wants us to keep focused on Him, to turn to Him, to ask Him to help us. Allah knows that it’s easy to get seduced by this world and to forget the next when everything is going so perfectly.   

So now! What should you do?

1. The first thing you need to do is get to know more about Allah..Build your trust in Him by becoming familiar with His Names. Al Hakeem, Al Lateef, Al Wakeel, Ar-Raheem will never let you down. I recommend these videos: 

2. The second thing you should do is make dua :) 

Try saying this dua:

Our Lord, do not take us to task if we forget or make a mistake! Our Lord, do not place on us a load like the one You placed on those before us! Our Lord, do not place on us a load we have not the strength to bear! And pardon us; and forgive us; and have mercy on us. You are our Master , so help us against the people of unbelievers. (Surat al-Baqara, 286)

3. Third of all, start your day by putting your trust in Allah. Recite the morning adkhar:
Hasbiyallaahu laa 'ilaaha 'illaa Huwa 'alayhi tawakkaltu wa Huwa Rabbul-'Arshil-'Adheem .
Allah is sufficient for me . There is none worthy of worship but Him . I have placed my trust in Him, He is Lord of the Majestic Throne . (Recite seven times in Arabic .)
Allah will grant whoever recites this seven times in the morning or evening whatever he desires from this world or the next, Ibn As-Sunni (no. 71), Abu Dawud 4/321. Both reports are attributed directly to the Prophet j§ (Marfu1). The chain of transmission is sound (Sahih). Ibn As-Sunni.

4. Have a list of verses that you, personally, find comforting ready for you to read or an inspirational story of a Companion, etc. by your bedside/ on your mobile/ etc. Make the effort now to compile a list so that when something happens, you can just quickly read through them and strengthen your faith

Now, if something does go “wrong”, focus on how to make it right. It doesn’t do much good to think about how the situation is spiraling downward. That just stresses you out even more. Instead, ask yourself what are the different steps you can take to change the situation and make it better. Think up a plan, with small steps that you can follow. You mentioned sometimes you don’t get to study enough for a test. It happened once, that’s okay. Consider it a lesson. But then, figure out how to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Set up study goals, find a study buddy, ask beforehand for when you can expect a test, etc. 

And when you start thinking of things you’re upset about, challenge yourself to remember what you DO have :)

Well sister, these are some small ideas and I hope they help you a bit.


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