There's Good and Bad News

>> Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Asalamu aliakaum wa rahmatullah wa barkatoo,

I'll start with the bad news.

The bad news is that I will miss you. I will miss the feeling of sisters coming together and responding to each other. I will miss reading your personal experiences that you would write in the comments. I will miss meeting new sisters here.
I will miss opening up my email and seeing a letter that I know Allah MADE me see because I also needed a reminder...because I also needed to think about something, to reconsider my own actions.
I will miss the trust you put in me to help you.
I will miss the love. 

It's funny how time flies. Four years ago, I decided to start Dear Little Auntie...I had no idea what t it would come to mean to me or how difficult this post would be to write. I remember registering the blog name, sitting down and playing with the banner, writing the first post, and waiting for questions..and wondering "Will this really work?"

And it did.

Alhamdillah! Praise be to Allah. And alhamdullilah for amazing readers and courageous questioners. Alhamdillah for a good crew and a wonderful team.

Yes...I will miss it all.

I will miss all of that because it is time for me to close Dear Little Auntie.

And here comes the good news...
because I have become a "Little Mommy".

As a 'little mommy',  I am still struggling to put things together. My number one priority right now is bonding and helping my baby and that means I'm just not being able to manage this blog. And I realize that this is unfair to those who send in questions. You deserve an answer or at least a response..and since I no longer can manage to do that, then, it's time to say....

May Allah bless you.
May Allah guide you.

For those who are thinking of sacrificing something for His sake, May He bless you with something better. Make each day easier for you than the last.

For those whose hearts are hurting, May He heal your hearts and bless you with His Love.

To all...

May we meet in paradise.



One Chinese Muslim writes:

So sad to  see the Dear Little Auntie blog go :( but Insha'Allah your duty ad a mother is very important as we need more Muslim children with proper upbringing! , may Allah grant u success and bless u with many righteous children! If anybody ever needs to contact me for advice or anything else ( even just to chat!) u can email me at (sisters only of course!) may Allah help us all be better weaker slaves . Ameen


From Crush to Crush

I'm a student in university in a non-Muslim country and I know that this is silly and kind of embarrassing but I am constantly going from crush to crush.  I don't know why this happens to me all the time, I guess I get bored and feel like I need to think and dream about being with someone. I realize that it doesn't make sense since I don't know these boys' personalities either, they might be total creeps!  I know I should be patient because Allaah has already planned who I will marry but I am wasting a lot of time because of all of this and I don't feel I can do a good job at that. So, how do I stop going from one crush to another??

Asalamu ailakaum!

It's not silly or embarrassing. It's a really good question!

The answer is kinda complicated though because the truth is that Allah created men and women naturally attracted to each other. When we're with the other gender, our instincts kick in. And, boy, can they kick! It doesn't help either that single ladies tend to have some kind of internal radar that is always on the lookout for a potential hubster/companion/the love of our lives.

So basically,  the more people you meet, the more crushes or temptation you'll probably face.

 Plus, with all the movies around us and media telling us that we are meant to find 'someone to complete us'- 'a soul mate' who will love us and who will make our lives perfect - it's not really a surprise that you keep having crushes and dreaming about them. 

But that's the thing. 

You have to start by changing your belief system.

You don't need someone to complete you or make you happy.

There is no perfect man who will be able to give you a perfect life. 

If you are bored with your life now, a man will not be able to change that for you. Yes, in the initial stages you may find yourself completely 'in love/ excited/ always feeling happy', but as the initial stages wear off, soon enough you will be confronted with the real person...warts, nose picking and all! ;) 

 The reality is that here on earth- everyone has their own flaws, moods, quirks, and baggage. If you’re dreaming of someone perfect who’s going to know what to say/ do/ act all of the time, then you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment. No 'man'/ 'person' has the solution to everything. . The only One capable of that is Allah.

Also, this dunya is not Hollywood. Our lives here are not meant to be perfect, either. You will always have struggles to face...This is the 'dar of tests". I say that in case you are using your dreams of marriage to escape any harsh reality you are going through. 

Okay, but is that all??

I've got some more tips for you, hunny.

1. Lower your gaze :)  It has been related that the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam once said words to the effect:
"The glance is a poisoned arrow of Shaytan. Whoever lowers his gaze for Allah, He will bestow upon him a refreshing sweetness, which he will find in his heart on the day he meets Him."
I liked these two sentences from an article: Shaytan enters with the glance, for he travels with it, faster then the wind blowing through an empty place. He makes what is seen appear more beautiful then it really is, and transforms it in to an idol for the heart to worship.

2. Avoid free-mixing. When you are at university, and it's your lunch time or free hours, make sure you're only hanging out with sisters.  If your friends are eating together with the opposite gender, find somewhere else to sit. Keep contact with the males only in professional contexts (and as much as possible, as limited as possible).  

3. Don't let your imagination run wild. You said it, yourself. These guys could be creeps. Remind yourself again and again that you don't know these guys..and that when you think you are 'in love with them', you are really in love with the image you have created of them. It is your imagination that has turned them into hero characters and not actually who they are. 

4. Get busy!  Focus your energy and time on some project you've always wanted to start. Seek ilm. Join Islamic groups/ attend webinars/ etc. Volunteer! Join a club at university. Go to an all girl's gym. Do something to occupy your time and THOUGHTs so that you don't keep thinking about the guys.

5. Try cooking and cleaning for an entire week and taking care of the house. See how 'exciting' that is. Realize that marriage is WORK and not just romance :)

 Don't give them too much importance. They are just crushes. As cruel as that sounds, just keep reminding yourself that this feeling is going to go away. That's what crushes do. They fade with time :) It's when you give it importance that they keep staying...

7.  Make dua. Ask Allah to help you get over these crushes. Ask Him for a wonderful, pious husband and peace at heart. Ask Allah to reward your patience and sacrifice for His sake.


To music or not to music...

>> Sunday, June 8, 2014

Aslamualaikum Warahmatullahi wa barakaatoo, Aunties!!!
Um….HI!! Before I begin my question, I just wanna say that you are the BEST aunties in the whole world! May Allah reward you all for helping out your fellow Muslim Sisters, Ameen.
First, I would like to tell some basic things about myself. I am a Pakistani girl who moved to America about five years ago. I am in eighth grade and 15 years of age. To be honest, in the beginning, when I was younger, I would agree that I was a very bad image for a Muslim. I’m not saying that I murdered anyone or anything like that, but, I didn't do many things like many pious ones do (Pray, fast, Quran etc.). But later on, the Light of Allah came through the window and slowly turned my dark room into one illuminating with the Light of Allah SWT. What I’m trying to say here is that I have changed a lot, thanks to the Mercy of Allah SWT. I am way much more practicing than I was before. Some few examples include:
-I started praying five times a day (Its been years now since I kept that, I’m so proud!)
-I read Quran everyday (It’s like oxygen, without it the day is just incomplete and weird…..)
-I recently started wearing Hijab to school
-I fast every Ramadan
-I’m always inviting others to the Path of Allah on an attempt to fulfilling my duty as a Servant Of Allah
And I don't know many more……..
The whole point of me saying that was that I can’t seem to put my mind into why I would still have a place for music in my heart after doing all that? I severely needed help in this issue and couldn’t go to my parents for they love Bollywood music like I do…(btw, the whole music thing is what I inherited from my family I guess…)
I used to listen to a lot of music, but once realizing that it was haram, I stopped. It’s been almost two months since I stopped, MashAllah. But the thing is, despite the fact that I don't listen to it, I still have feelings in my heart that I really want to. Sometimes, I even hum out a song or completely start singing it. I fear Allah Most High, but I don't know what to do in a situation like this. I have done my full research on this topic only to find out that it’s very controversial and that just makes me punch the wall even more.
Some scholars say that it is, using the Quran (31;6) and Hadith. But, at the same time, some say it isn't haram as an entirety and that good music is allowed. I do believe that music is Haram. Eventhough, the Quran (31;6) doesn’t necessarily say music, I feel as if it’s saying that indirectly. But then, today, while reading the Quran with commentary of Abdullah Yusuf Ali, I came across an ayah where it says how Believers shall have anything their hearts may yearn for in the heavens, and in the commentary, Yusuf Ali uses examples something on the lines of….” In the Gardens, Believers can have anything they may wish for. Example, a musician’s heaven will be filled with music, a mathematicaians heaven will be filled with math, and the artist’s heaven would be filled with fine arts and beauty.” Why does he mention the musician part?
And many of other translators don’t neceserrily define “Idle Talks” in Quran (31;6) as musin in it’s entirety, including Yusuf Ali.
 So…….I guess Im just in severe need of help…..I am sorry if I disturbed you or anything like that….I know that you wonderful aunties have something really inspirational for me and something that would really help me. I didn't mean to make it too long but since I did…..ShorryFrowning face…..
May Allah reward you with many many many many many rewards and join us all in Jannah ( also b/c I really wanna meet you all in real life, or I should say in the next life) Ameen.
Thank you, Love,
BismaGrowing heart

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatahu Bisma! :)

First of all, let me apologize for the extreme delay in reply, but unfortunately we Aunties sometimes get busy with the day to day overload too ;) However, that is no excuse and I am really really sorry!

Secondly, let me tell you how very proud I am of you-15 and doing so much for the sake of Allah (swt)! May He reward you immensely and keep increasing you in goodness. Ameen. We need more 15 year old Muslimahs like you in the world today :)

Music unfortunately, is a very controversial and much talked about topic in the Muslim world today. Being who I am, even if there wasn't so much controversy about it, I'd still be a bit creeped out by it considering how much it's being propagated-being subtly seeped into the subconscious mind of every living person, no matter whether they want to or not. It's on TV, in restaurants, at the malls, petrol stations, the phones. Basically, it's difficult to stay away from it, even if you try really hard! Which, if one thinks about it, is very very-there is no other word for it-creepy! It's due to this far reaching presence that it has become so talked about, because by the consensus of the earlier scholars, it was haraam, and that was it. No question!

Considering that you've researched so much on it, I won't delve into the allowance of music in Islam too much. However, for the readers who either haven't come across it, or haven't looked into it, let me just quote a few ahadith:

The Prophet sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:
“There will come a people from my Ummah who will seek to make lawful zina (fornication and adultery), the wearing of silk (for men), the drinking of win and the use of musical instruments. Some people will stay at the side of the mountain and when their shepherd comes in the evening to ask them for his needs, they will say : ‘Come back to us tomorrow’. Then Allah will destroy them during the night by causing the mountain to fall upon them while He changes others into apes and swine. They will remain in this state until the Day of Resurrection.”

“Music grows hypocrisy in the heart just as water causes the crops to grow.” [Bayhaqi]

Also, here is a complete answer about Music, dealing with the doubtful matters too, for those who are interested:

Now even if, thanks to the multiple arguments floating around in the world about it (they really made my head go round when I first started looking up the issue!), you still feel some doubt about whether music is allowed or not, you should use this hadith as a golden rule:

An-Nu'man ibn Bashir said, "I heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, 'The halal is clear and the haram is clear. But between the two there are doubtful things about which most people have no knowledge. Whoever exercises caution with regard to what is doubtful, shows prudence in respect of his deen and his honour. Whoever gets involved in the doubtful things is like a herdsman who grazes his animals near a private preserve (hima). He is bound to enter it. Every king has a private preserve and the private preserve of Allah on His earth are the things that He has made forbidden. There is lump of flesh in the body, the nature of which is that when it is sound, the entire body is sound, and when it is corrupt, the entire body is corrupt - it is the heart.'"
[Agreed upon]

Having done with that, there is something important you should know. Wanting to listen to music does NOT make you a bad muslim. It only makes you human. Yep, you read that right. Wanting to do haraam things doesn't make us munafiq or kaafir or even a bad muslim. First of all, we all (you, me, our parents, even the scholars!) have something called a nafs, and its duty is to make us want to do haraam stuff. And then there is our lifelong enemy, Mr. Shaytan who just loves conspiring with dear ol' nafs to make us sin, so that we help him achieve his target--> of misleading Allah's beloved creation, the humankind.

The only task you have is to try your level best to not give in to your nafs or shaytan, and keep striving against them. This is known as Sabr. There are three levels of sabr:
1) Patience in times of difficulty.
2) Patience in staying away from sins.
3) Patience in obeying Allah (swt) also known as istiqamat, that is mainting good deeds over time.

Therefore, for staying away from music you're getting the reward of two kinds of sabr-staying away from sin and persevering in following the commands of Allah (swt)! And we all know that sabr is a very important component for going to jannah inshaAllah:

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

Now I know from experience just how hard it is to stay away from music. It's not easy and it takes a lot of time and patience and perseverance. There might be times when you fall, but you must not despair, because that is another trick of our dearest enemy, Mr. Shaytan. In fact, you must use that experience as a lesson for yourself, make istighfar, get up and try again!

Music is an addiction, [as also proven by a study done at McGill University: ] and thus can be cured just like any other addiction. The first step is recognizing the problem. The second step can be either of the two: tapering (that is slowly decreasing dosage until you reach zero) or going cold turkey (that is quitting all at once).Being Muslim, I'd suggest the cold turkey approach because we really don't know whether we will draw our next breath or not, and thus must always be focused on the now rather than the tomorrow :) However, you must then find alternates. Listen to nasheeds without music (Zain Bhika is a good choice, so are the ealier nasheeds of Dawud Wharnsby and Yusuf Islam :) ), listen to recitations of the Quran by your favourite Qaris, listen to lectures instead of music. Save your ears for the music of Jannah :D
Do not berate yourself for falling once in a while, just harden your resolve. Never give up. And the occasional humming? That'll take some time to be replaced by nasheeds and Surahs instead ;)

Keep striving and growing in your nearness to Allah (swt)! May we all meet in Jannah inshaAllah (and maybe this life too, who knows? :D )
Keep us in your duas, we need them.



I Failed a Course...

>> Saturday, April 5, 2014

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.

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 ( 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 :)


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?

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)
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.



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]

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,


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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