Just Another Ramadan

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بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

Ramadan is back here. Has a year flown away so soon? We haven’t really retrieved from the excitement of last Eid and Ramadan has knocked our doors again. We have ensured we have done our best to welcome this month. Our Homes are shining; Our freezers are full of frozen snacks to fry; We have even purchased our Eid clothes. Insha Allah, our time will be well spent in Ibada. Our Dua(invocation) books are out and we are determined to spend most of our time with Quran; we will try our best to read Quran at least once. After all, this has been our standard procedure all our life. Great! We are at bliss. Are we? Now let us see our Ramadan routine in a new light.

ARE OUR HOMES WELCOMING?

Are our homes welcoming enough for the angels? Of course, the house has been dusted and arranged. Check again, is there anything in the house which would keep angels away? Why wouldn’t angels of mercy enter our home, when we have ensured that our home even smells great?!! WELL, ARE OUR WALLS FREE OF FAMILY PHOTOS?

angels do not enter a home with pictures

Is a photo in your living room meant to honor a predecessor? Or, do you proudly display the photo of your child receiving a trophy? Indeed, the elders need to be honored and the youngster’s achievement is worth being applauded. But, we don’t need a framed photo to prove our love for them. Our love for Allah is much stronger and with all the devils locked it should be much easier to obey Him. Let us remove the photos and ensure that our home is welcoming enough for the angels.

SERVE IT RIGHT

It’s the first day of Ramadan, and kids are already speaking of goodies they would get to eat in iftar. Most of us have loaded our freezer with partly cooked snacks. Moms are wondering whether to defrost kabab, samosas or spring rolls. We have taken all this pain to ensure that our family gets to eat tasty food while we don’t waste our valuable time in a kitchen. Well, have we also ensured that our deeds are being presented before Allah?! Are we in good terms with our extended family and friends? If you are in doubt, without delay connect to your loved ones. Please click here to read more about this.

Gates of paradise opened on Monday and Thursday
Hadith Wait until they reconcile

LET US MAKE THIS RAMADAN THE BEST RAMADAN!

We all love the month of Ramadan. We love the fasting, reciting Quran and standing in tarawih salah. How we wish that we can feel this closeness to Allah all our life. Yet, after Ramadan, we slowly slip back being our usual self. Months of Ramadan come and go, with hardly any impact on our life. Why aren’t we able to hold on to something from our experience in Ramadan? How did you feel, when you first fasted for an entire month? Alhamdulillah. How did you feel on completing the recitation of the Quran for the first time? Are there any more memories which would make a Ramadan stand out? 

fasting for a year

LIVING THROUGH THE MONTH OF RAMADAN IS A HUGE BLESSING. Every Ramadan in our life counts. Perhaps, it’s time we push ourselves to do a little more. Look at Ramadan as an opportunity to change our life for better. It’s time to elevate our Rank in heaven.

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My Little Quran Buddy

 

my little quran buddy
My little Quran buddy

 

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

Dear friends, I would like to share with you something which made me very happy!! For me, it is an achievement too good to be true! This happened a year ago. Yet, I can’t cease being pleased about it. My son, who was then just a six-year-old had memorized 30th para (last part) of Quran! Allahu Akbar. But there is more to be happy about. With him, his thirty plus years old mommy (me) memorized Juzz Amma too!!!! Alhamdhulillah. And we did it ourselves by the grace of Allah. If you see my journey, you would understand the reason behind my uncontainable happiness.

I had been childless for the first few years after marriage. This is when I took up a course to study tafsir (explanation) of Quran. Like any other infertile Muslimah, I recited invocations of Zakkariya (PBUH).

Zakkariya As invocations

Quran clearly showed the state at which Zakkariya (PBUH) asked Allah for a child. It was more than a mere desire. Zakkariya (PBUH) was an old man with a barren wife. This is when he prayed for a child! His humble plea showed the prophet’s Tawakul (Trust) in Allah. He wasn’t unhappy with Allah’s decree. There a strong reason for his request. HE WANTED SOMEONE WORTHY TO INHERIT HIS PROPHETHOOD! Subahan Allah.

Zakkariya As reason for invocation

I had no idea what had Allah decreed for me. As I read the above verses, I wondered why did I want to be a mom? I realized being a parent is a huge responsibility. We parents work hard to provide the best nourishment for our child. We spend a fortune on our little one’s education. Are we ensuring that they are brought up on the way of Islam? Do we instill the love of Quran in our child’s heart? How can we show our gratitude to Allah for being blessed with a child? We could learn from the attitude of Zakkariya (PBUH) on being blessed with a child.

zakkarriya as being grateful for the blessings

We are to raise our children as believers adhering to Allah’s command. Inspired by the narration in Quran, I prayed for a child with whom I could worship Allah with ease; a child who would be a means of sadaqa jariya (who becomes a reason for increase in my good deeds after the parent’s death). I resolved that If Allah blesses me with a child I would encourage him/her to memorize Quran. For the majority of my life, I had only uttered surat ul Fatiha and surat ul Ikhlas in my Salah! And, with no hafiz-a-Quran as far as I know in my lineage, this indeed is a very heavy resolution.

Alhamdulillah. The Most Merciful Allah soon blessed me with a son. When Zakir was less than three years old I attempted memorizing surat un Naba from a popular website. A group of ladies repeated the teacher as she recited the verses. I tried reciting the memorized verses at the end of the session. Whenever I stumbled my little innocent baby would help me!! I was stunned. The truth is every toddler would readily learn things which are repeated to them. Don’t we teach our children poems?

When my son was ready for a nursery, I wanted the best of the teachers to teach Quran to my son. Either he was dismissed as too young or the institute was too far away. The teachers who were willing to teach him at home would only spend a little time with him and I wasn’t satisfied with the outcome. With a birth of another son, life turned busier. I wasn’t sure when to start or whom to approach to help Zakir memorize the Quran.

As a kindergartener, Zakir used to return home early. To prevent him from troubling the baby, I used to play nasheed (Islamic poems/songs) on the computer. He would hum the nasheed while playing. This is

when it struck me – MY SON COULD LEARN TO RECITE FROM THE BEST QARI IN THE WORLD! Qari (Quran reciters) like Misry AlAfasy, Khalifa Al Tunaiji, Husairi and more could indeed help my son memorize the Quran! Several websites with memorizing option are freely available for us to explore! I tried such a website. Alhamdulillah. 4-year-old Zakir was happily reciting the verses I had just played on repeat mode! And here began our Quran memorization journey.

Prior to the birth of my son, I had attempted several times to memorize few small chapters from the Quran. We all know the story of the Hare and the tortoise. Let’s just say, my approach was more like that of the Hare! I could have never completed the mammoth task like this. I did pray and plead to Allah to make Quran my companion in the grave. But, I was not doing enough to give life to my supplications. The All-wise Allah, who had installed this desire in my heart also showed me a way to give life to my desire. I wanted my son to see Quran as a part of his life. This required me to take time out and dedicate myself completely for memorization. During this fixed time, nothing else was to be given preference! Could there be a better way to have quality time with one’s child?

Does one’s smartness or memorizing speed make a difference? It wouldn’t help if we are not consistent. I tried my best to make memorization an everyday task. It didn’t bother me if we just memorized a line or a word as long as we continued spending time with the Quran. We read and listened to the verse over and over again. Having a little buddy made this task much easier. My son’s company served as the much-needed push to keep me on the track.

All my life, I avoided studying anything I didn’t understand. Even as a teen I preferred reading the translation of the Quran to the original Arabic text! Back then, I just couldn’t read Arabic. Even after, I had taken up tafsir (explanation) course, I hesitated reading Arabic text while explaining translation to others. When I finally had to, I was down to tears due to my inability to read Arabic fluently. And in my tajweed (art of reciting Quran) class, I was probably the weakest student. Till date, my pronunciation in any language is far from perfect. Honestly, even in my early twenties, I would have never foreseen myself trying to memorize the Quran. But most merciful Allah has helped me start this journey of memorizing Quran. Alhamdulillah. When I could do it, anybody could do it with Allah’s help. The first step is the most difficult step.

 

Allah remembers/ mentions you as you remember Him
Allah draws close to one who moves towards Him

Additional benefits of Memorizing Quran

Like any other normal seven-year-old, my son loves to play and read books. He too demands the toys that are in trend. He dislikes cleaning up. He too plays pranks around his little brother and tests my patience with his mischief. I can’t keep him from being influenced by factors outside the home. But, I hope in future he’ll influence those around him in a positive way. When he first joined the school, he returned home singing a song in a language I didn’t understand. After he started memorizing, he returned home stating that he taught few of his friends the chapters he had learned. His love to memorize things surprise me. Even if it is not necessary, he readily memorizes any poem he loves during the school hours.

This journey was originally taken to help my son memorize Quran. The truth is – it is my little buddy who has helped me more. Like any other little chap, he is much faster than me in memorizing and refuses to continue unless I too memorize the verses. This has resulted in me spending more time with Quran when he is at school. I know I am not good enough to teach him or anyone else. His pronunciation is far better than mine (We still have a teacher helping him recite Quran). The necessity to improve my tajweed has dragged me to the masjid. I opted to visit a masjid which is a bit far from home. Well for every step towards masjid don’t our sins shed. Plus, a brisk walk is good for our health. Sometimes, I feel lazy. Then I think of a walk in the paradise which I could be rewarded for this. (Insha Allah <3) This gives me the much-needed boost.

Ascend with Quran

Insha Allah, I would like my son to join the halaqa (memorizing circle in masjid). There he could study much better. I don’t know how long will I be able to keep pace with him. Maybe soon he would not need me to help him out. Ah, it would be nice to see him take a role of the teacher and teach his brother (and me too). Yes, I would love to become a hafiza. I would love more to see my sons turn into Hafiz and live trying their best to please Allah. After all, parents are rewarded in heaven for this!

crown

Quran time is a blessing in other ways too. My naughty explorers are silent during and after Quran session. It keeps us away from TV and the computer. We have things to speak and laugh about, which only we understand. Zakir has even invented some Quran recitation games and pop quizzes!

I can’t thank Allah enough for blessing me with a son, who in turn helped me take this major step. Now I work like the tortoise (recollect the good old story about hare and the tortoise 😊). We take a step at a time. The finish line is far away. I am not sure whether I’ll be able to reach it. Insha Allah, I’ll never give up. May Allah make it easy on us. Aameen.

Would you like to take up such a journey? Who would be your memorizing buddy? Maybe my upcoming post on tips to memorize from home will motivate you further.

Per published in muslimahbloggers

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Are we slaves to the gadgets?

Assalamu alikum.

Alhamdhulillah, one of my articles has been republished in Aboutislam

image

.

http://aboutislam.net/reading-islam/living-islam/are-we-slaves-to-our-gadgets-instead-of-allah/

Do check to see, the changes. 🙂

Why We Need A Hobby

Crochet needle hobby

Assalammu Alikum,

Do you miss your childhood? Apart from pure state of innocence and overwhelming love from elders, what makes childhood special? It’s the desire to explore. I love seeing a child’s face gleaming with joy on learning simple things. When was the last time you felt like that? Can we still experience such uncontainable excitement on accomplishing simple stuff? Yes! We could.

Within each of us is a child, eager to learn and explore. I never knew a needle could bring out a child in me. I am not speaking about my visit to a Doctor. This needle works on a thread, but it is not sharp! Instead it has a hook at its end. Have you guessed, what is it? CROCHET. This had a huge positive impact on me. Let me share with you how it helped me.

Why Crochet?

When I am free, I feel an urge to hold a gadget and explore. I had written all about it in my last post. I didn’t want to turn into a game/media addict. I had to do something.

As I was wondering how to refine my life, I learnt that my grandma wanted to gift me her crochet needles. Ah! Long back I had enjoyed making a crochet cap. (Well I had attempted to make a flat circle with chain and split knots. It accidentally turned into cap. shhh! Let it be our secret. 😉 ) I decided to give it a try. I took out my crochet needle and explored a couple of basic tutorials on the net.  The yarn and the needle kept me away from fiddling with the keyboard. Initially, I couldn’t hold the yarn right. Instead of online puzzles, a bundle of yarn was now challenging me! Do you think I would give up easily? No way, I had to tame my fingers to bend the yarn. This indeed was an answer for my addiction.

Learning to empathize

I found it difficult to use a needle. But to the tutor (in the video), this needle was like an extension of her fingers. This reminded me of teaching my son how to hold a pencil. I used to wonder why was it so difficult for the little ones. Now it was clear. ☺ Often, we forget the struggles we underwent as a beginner. Learning a new art reminds us our limits and the need for experience. Now, I could empathize better with my sons.

Hadith crochet disgrace adorn
Be compassionate

Finally, I was able to make a chain (knots). As I progressed I learnt ABC of crochet – single, half double, double, triple and double triple crochet. Unlike puzzles or games, the result of my practice was in my hands. Honestly, it looked no better than a scribbling. It looked more polished on the tutor’s hands. Well, I wasn’t working on the right bead (the knots). With attention to margins my work turned neater. Now I had a renewed appreciation for handiwork. I recollected how often I had argued with poor vendors while buying an art work. I could appreciate handiwork better.

Hadith crochet coasters beginner yarn empathy
Be lenient

Valuing Time

I tried making some coasters. It is pure magic to see plain long yarn turn into beautiful clusters and floral patterns. A crochet comes to life with repeated action of yarning over and pulling. To crochet, it’s equivalent to inhaling and exhaling in order to breathe. Yep, this is all that we need to learn. Yet, there was so much we can do with different combinations and colors!

Let’s consider our life as a yarn. All of us are gifted with the same 24 hours. Our life is filled with several simple repetitive actions like – climbing stairs, eating food, sleeping, waking up, etc. Generally, we don’t give much thought about them. With these actions, we could be yarning for here after. How?

Our prophet has taught us dua (invocation) for every occasion in our life. Do you remember to say bismillah (In the name of Allah) in the beginning and Alhamdhulillah (All praise belong to Allah) in the end of an action?  If so, we have ensured to knot it in for here after. Do you say Allahuakbar (Allah is great) while climbing and SubahanAllah (Glory be to Allah) while descending. If so we have added one more bead to the knot. Would you like to add more? Add in other duas. Recite dua while entering or leaving masjid, before sleeping and after waking up and so on. With these simple invocations intricated into our life, we can turn our 24 hours into moments worth living.

Hadith sweater simple design crochet "Keep your tongue wet with the remembrance of Allah."
Remember Allah

Strengthening Bonds

Do you remember how it felt to do a craft work at school? I was reliving the excitement. Before I could think of what to do next, I got a request for a sweater from my hubby. I decided to make sweaters for my sons first. I saw a few tutorial on you tube and settled for one I was comfortable with. The little one (3 years) was very pleased with the attention he was getting. The sweater involved an easy stitch- Half double crochet. As I practiced the stitch I would think about my granny. As  a child, I had seen her work on the border of a shawl.   Later, she had gifted this priceless shawl to me along with numerous lace works she had done. Honestly, could there be better way to express love than with a useful handmade gift? The shawl would keep me warm and always remind me of my generous loving grandma.  May Allah reward her in abundance for every bead she has worked on. May I be blessed with a heart like hers, which finds joy in giving things. And, may I be blessed with love of my grandparents for many more years to come. Aameen.

Hadith crochet shawl priceless grandma
Gifts increase love

Within three days, I completed the sweater! Alhamdhulillah, I had managed to design a multicolor sleeve less sweater for my little one. I didn’t know how to add buttons to it. So, I used lace to close the front opening (zig zag pattern). The rugged look really matched his personality. No sweater in the market could replace this. I hoped this sweater would last for several generations and keep several kids warm. Maybe someone in the future will appreciate my simple work too. ☺

Rewind

Now my elder son was upset. He wanted a sweater too. I was not going to follow the same design or pattern. Something more challenging would be fun. I decided to try basket weave. For this I had to learn front and back post crochet – to make the work stand out or hide. This was tougher than I had expected. It required more yarn and time. I made several mistakes. So, did I waste good amount of yarn on this? No. Well, with crochet we can rewind with ease! We just need to pull the yarn to unwind. Alhamdhulillah, I was able to rectify my mistakes. How I wish I could do the same with my life – go back to some point and start afresh.

Are there any regrets in your life? I have a long list. We cannot go back into the past but still we can have a clean record! Does it sound too good to be true? Well, Allah is The Most Merciful and He loves to pardon. With sincere repentance, we could shed our sins away. After all, pleasing Him should be our prime concern. Still, how often do we repent?

Crochet basket stitch Hadith: Allah forgives repeatedly as long as we seek forgiveness
Seek forgiveness repetedly

It took me more than two weeks to complete the sweater. I was surprised at the outcome. May our book of deeds look better with our sins forgiven. All praise be to Allah who is always eager to forgive. ☺

Appreciation

Finally, it was my hubby’s turn to get a sweater. It was really nice to see my relatively silent hubby involved in something I was doing. I picked a real hard design with cable patterns which cross over (should be piece of cake for professional). I planned to combine designs from two different tutorials. Every day, having returned from work, my hubby would rush to see how much I had completed. I would place the incomplete work on him and see how much more work needs to be done. 😉 I loved seeing his face gleam as I did this. In spite, of knowing absolutely nothing about crochet he would be generous with his suggestion and I would oblige. I had always had an overwhelming desire to wrap my entire family in my love. Well, with crochet, I have indeed managed to do it. ☺ One can’t make out, how pleased am I to see my entire family wear what I made. Alhamdhulillah.

Crochet crochet cable stitch complicated sweater Quran dua for loving family crochet
Comfort of our eyes

A useful hobby, could strengthen bonds of love.

Bonus

Handmade crochet work is of great value. Alhamdhulillah, this could help anyone make a decent living from the comfort of one’s home.  With time, simple projects could be worked even with our eyes closed. This made me easier to catch up few missed lectures. In fact, it helped me concentrate better.

On the down side, when unfinished work is left unprotected, children could easily unwind the work. My little one used every opportunity to unwind as much yarn as possible. I could do nothing. Initially, I was angry. Then I realized, there is no point blaming a kid while as a grownup, I had failed to preserve it. I was turning more patient and vigilant.

My grandma was very impressed with my work. How can one become an expert? Here is her advice –

“YOU CAN DO ANYTHING AS LONG AS YOU ARE PERSEVERANT AND WILLINGLY TO UNWIND AND RECTIFY YOUR ERROR.”

This should be mantra for successful life! This hobby, was not just keeping me away from gaming but was also teaching me perseverance, patience and importance of Tawba (Repentence).  Indeed crochet helped me improve.

Dua crochet flower cap
Bless our deeds/action

If you think you are wasting your time, or, if you are bored with the usual routine, would you consider learning something new? What would you like to do? Do let us know, how your hobby helps you.

Preprinted in Muslimahbloggers.

13 DAYS OF BETTER PARENTING CHALLENGE

Better parenting

It’s every mother’s dream to bring the best out of her child in the best possible manner. Unfortunately, we are not always at our best. Busy life and constant demand from those around us, has an effect on our parenting. A kind advice and support from an experienced parent/teacher could help us learn where we can improve.

I came across 13 DAY’S ONLINE MUSLIM PARENTING WORKSHOP in a Facebook group. As a mom of two active boys aged 3 and 7, I was not sure, whether I would be able to give the workshop, required attention. I learnt that, it was organized by sister Jamela Ho. I had found her book, “How to guide a child’s behavior”, very practical and useful. I decided to give it a try.

13-day-qualities-of-a-muslim-parent-challenge

A set of 5 parents with children of same age group were selected. Each day we were sent an email instructing a simple parenting task.  Then we were to discuss the task in a private Facebook group. The workshop focused on building 5 essential qualities in a Muslim parent. The task didn’t take much time. When required, sister Jamela, advised us through hadith in a friendly manner. She was easy to approach and showed us where we can improve without being accusative. She participated in the workshop along with us and encouraged us to open up.  This is exactly how I felt at the end of two weeks:

I was sad that this journey had come to an end. I had been extra conscious of what I had been doing/ saying to my children. The challenge elevated the level of love and warmth in my home. I was encouraged to hug and kiss my children more often, in return I was able to see them being more at ease. My children were expressing more love and were learning to withhold anger during fights.

It’s a more than a month, since I participated in this workshop. One of the activities involved setting rules in home. My elder son still remembers the rules in the order they were written! He makes sure the rules aren’t broken.

As Muslims aren’t we always meant to nurture our children in best possible manner? If only, we could always learn to be conscious of how we treat our little ones. They are innocent and vulnerable. They are always craving for our love and attention. As parents, we need to remember our children are trusted upon us by Allah; we are obliged to care for them and guide them. This course had been a reminder that my final report is with Allah; We need to be mindful of Allah, in all our actions.

I am glad that I got to be part of this workshop at this early stage of parenting when it is very easy to connect with children and to mend my behavior. As they grow, I’ll have more challenges to face. I hope I could be part of such a workshop then!! To learn more please visit Ilmaeducates – 13 day better muslim parenting challenge.

A Scheme for Success

Significance of Ashura

Nothing is more pleasing to a farmer than his field at the time of the harvest. Now, he can enjoy fruits of his labor. But, he has to pay his debt first. He had incurred it for petty things. Now it sums up to a huge amount! Unwillingly, he has to pay the price for those little things with his hard earned rich harvest. No matter how hard he tries, he falls into the tarps of debt due to his weaknesses, haste and ignorance. Sometimes his harvest is poor. Yet, no mercy is shown to him when the debt is collected. Well, the creditors have their right too. Repayment is the right thing to do. Poor farmer could do nothing to save his harvest.

He learns of a scheme to save himself from a year’s debt. All he had to do is abstain himself from things which get him into debt for a couple of specified days! By doing this his debt will be forgiven. He has nothing to lose. It is not compulsory for him to participate in this scheme. If you are the farmer, would you participate in such a scheme? Who wouldn’t? This scheme is just too good to ignore. Only a fool would ignore it.

Interestingly, Success is called ‘Falah’ in Arabic. Falah also means Farmer! Aren’t we farmers cultivating Righteous deeds for Hereafter? In spite of our best efforts unknowingly and unintentionally we commit sins. These are our debts and we have to pay back with our good deeds. We have no idea how much debt we have incurred. Nor do we know, how much good we have accumulated. We could only get this answer on day judgement. Then it’s too late to save our deeds. What can we do?

Alhumdhlillah. Our Most Merciful creator also gives us chance to save our self from such debts! Well here is one appealing scheme-

Fasting on Arafat day
Fast on Ashura

Alhamdhulillah, we can save ourselves from minor sins by fasting this Ashoora (10th of Muharam). Yes, it is not compulsory to fast. I trust you are wise enough to make most of this opportunity. Our Merciful Creator is most Beneficent. Let’s not just stop there. Let’s follow sunnah (way of the prophet) and fast a day more! What could be a better way ensure our reward than to follow Sunnah?

Be different from Jews and Christians
Fasting on 9th of Muharram

Just two days of fasting is all it would take to save ourselves from minor sins of past year! Alhamdhulillah. Some of us might not be able to fast on these days. Do not be dishearten. Muharram is also the best month to accumulate good deeds by fasting. The entire month of Muharaam is most preferred month to fast voluntary fasts.

Signinficance of Muharram
Muharram- Best Month for voluntary fasts

Let us ensure that we fast our missed fard (compulsory fasts) in this month. Then, maybe we can fast some more. Let us make most of Allah’s generosity in this month. Let’s expiate our sins and increase our yield! May we be successful. Aameen.

Published in Muslimahbloggers

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BIDDING FAREWELL TO RAMADAN

Tackling nafs (our desires)

This Ramadan, I had a special challenge. It was helping my son who is nearly 7 years old fast! He attempted to fast on 21st of Ramadan. Keeping him distracted during hunger was my biggest task. Phew. I had decided if he wouldn’t get distracted, he could break his fast. He enjoyed listening to stories, painting and playing with his younger brother. Then he had a good nap. But last few minutes were the toughest part of the fast for him. Seeing the food arranged on the table, he didn’t want to wait for his meal. Thankfully, he understood he didn’t have to wait for long. He kept looking at his pancakes. You should have seen his smile on hearing the Azan.  Alhamdhulillah.  Do you think I should have just let him eat five minutes before Magrib athan? No way.

We grownups, unconsciously, behave just like kids. Well, even before Ramadan ends we start planning for Eid. Eid is the times for the family get together. So, we start worrying about home decorations and accessories for the clothes.  Don’t we have to look perfect on the day of celebration? Hence, we fix appointment at the parlor and pamper ourselves from head to toe. (Even if it includes acts of disobeying Allah!) Are these our main concerns these days? Are the last days of this month meant to be spent away from Quran in markets and spas? Having disciplined ourselves this month, is this how we would like to end this month?!

How will we spend our Eid?
self check:

By now, most of us could have completed the recitation of Quran. Some of us could have completed listening to brief explanation of Quran. Few others could have managed to memorize a chapter of considerable length from Quran. Alhamdhulillah.  Now that we have achieved our goal, we don’t know what we should do? Throughout this month we had raised early to pray. We had also kept away from our favorite TV channels. Now that we are ‘free’, we are tempted to know, what has happened in our favorite soap operas? We wonder, to which Eid Movie release we should book our ticket! Though shayateen are still locked we are incited by evil of our NAFS (desires within us). And, these last days is when we feel it most. At this rate, we are more likely to WELCOME SHAITAN BACK WITH A BANG ON THE DAY OF EID. Remember,

Fight temptations of nafs(soul/self) and continue ibadah(worship)
last actions!

How we bid Farewell to Ramadan could make difference between deeds being accepted or on not! How could we tackle our Nafs? What could we do now? Here are some of the tips:

RECHECK YOUR RAMADAN PLAN

The problem with us is, we had set our goals wrong. We could have completed reciting, pondering over tafser and/or memorizing a portion of Quran. But, don’t forget, why are we doing this? Our ultimate aim is – TO PLEASE ALLAH; TO ADOPT TAQWA; TO BE FORGIVEN.

Did we recite Quran just to boast that, “we completed reciting Quran so soon!” Hasn’t it touched us spiritually? After having toiled so hard to spend time with Quran, should we take a ‘U’ turn now?

We can start reciting Quran afresh. We don’t have to complete it in Ramadan. Enjoy the recitation and ponder upon the verses. Give special attention when verse addresses believers (يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا). Ponder upon the beauty of the dua and the humble state of the prophet.

REMEMBER DEATH

Remember believing relatives and friends, who didn’t live to see this Ramadan. Can we be sure that we would live to see another Ramadan? If we still can’t overcome our temptations, how could we expect ourselves to utter “لا إله إلا الله ’ while facing whispers of Shaiteen at time of our death? Let us make most of this month while it lasts. Tonight, is 29thof Ramadan. That’s an odd night. May be, this is Lailatul Qadr. Probably this is the last night of this month. Don’t back up now, and give your best.  Make heart felt duas. Think of time of death and what follows it.

Study the state of soul after the death.
Seek refuge from being amidst wretched and hopeless.
And ask for every blessing that a believer’s soul is blessed with.

RECOLLECT YOUR PAST

Think about major incidents in your life.

Blessings: Praise and thank Allah for every blessing you could recollect. Pray for those who have been good to you.
Regrets: Ask forgiveness for every incident you errored. Pray that those whom we took for granted overlook our mistakes. Think of ways to win their heart and ask help from Him.
Afflictions: Request Allah to bless you with a heart which could forgive people who wronged you in ignorance. Don’t forget to say “إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ” when you remember a loss.

Umm Salamah (رضي الله عنها) reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) saying, "When a person suffers from a calamity and utters: إن لله وإنا إليه راجعون‏:‏ اللهم آجرني في مصيبتي، واخلف لي خيرا منها (We belong to Allah and to Him we shall return. O Allah! Compensate me in my affliction, recompense my loss and give me something better in exchange for it), then Allah surely compensates him with reward and better substitute."
Invocation at the time of distress/loss

REASSESS YOUR FUTURE

Unquestionably, what we would most miss about Ramadan is the closeness we feel to Allah. We should hold on to it. What deeds would you love to do even after Ramadan ends? Did helping needy please you? Our zakath is all paid but there are still many who need our help. There is no limit to Sadaqa. May be we can give a fixed amount every month in charity. We could recite small portion of quran every day. Is there anything you enjoyed doing in Ramadan? You can do it in rest of the year too!

With this renewed focus, we are most likely regret about the shortcomings in our fast. Yes, we could have done much more. Thankfully, Allah has blessed us with a solution – “ZAQATUL FITR”

Importance of Zakatul Fitr
Hadith about Zakatil Fitr

Ramadan would soon come to its end. But Our Allah’s mercy is still open; He loves to pardon. He would continue to descend to lowest heaven every night. Would we be there to answer His call?

Blue flowers
Seek Allah’s bounty with night prayers!

Are we indeed His blessed slaves (ABD- Allah)? Or, Are we just temporary slaves of Ramadan? Let us hold on to Taqwa by adopting few Ibada style changes. May Allah grant a good end to our affairs.

Aameen.

أَللّٰهُمَّ أَحْسِنْ عَاقِبَتَنَا فِىْ الْاُ مُوْرِ كُلِّهَا وَأَجِرْنَا مِنْ خِزْىِ الدُّنْيَا وَعَذَابِ الْاٰخِرَةِ
Good End!

Published in Muslimahbloggers.

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SERVING ‘AMAL’

Serving deeds. Good! go Ahead- Reconcile

Have you ever forgotten to serve the dish you cooked to your guests? Once, my host forgot to serve the soup they had cooked. They had used best ingredients and cooked it with lots of love. Yet, in the hustle, they had left the hot soup on a simmering pot! They remembered it only after we had eaten our dinner. No one wanted to taste the soup after a hefty dinner which included a rich dessert. We complimented the food and dinning arrangement. Yet, they were very disappointed for having not served the soup. The host kept repeating, “How could I have forgotten to serve the soup?” It was just one missed dish in a perfect dinner table! How will it be, that we learn in here after that our deeds won’t benefit us! How much would we regret?

Aren’t we excited to make the most of Ramadan? Have we done enough to meet Ramadan? Our houses are sparkling. Most of us would have stuffed our freezer and done Eid purchases to save time for Ibadah (Prayer). We have our zakath calculated. We also listened to motivating Islamic lectures. Oh! Our dua list is well preserved. Well, is this enough? Have you also sorted out children’s activities for Ramadan? Do you also have a Ramadan resolution? Barak Allahumma fih. :D. We might have missed a few things. Overall, we have PREPARED WELL. But, I am not speaking about this! Have you ensured that you would SERVE what you have PREPARED? Are we sure our good deeds would be presented before Allah? Are we too forgetting something important? What could keep our deeds left unchecked?

Gates of paradise opened on Monday and Thursday
Hadith -Wait until they reconcile

This hadith scares me. Is there any person whom you have been avoiding?  As per us, maybe such a person does not deserve our friendship/relationship. May be that person took us for granted. He or she could have abandoned us. So, why should we take the first step? I am afraid this hadith advices differently –

Continue reading SERVING ‘AMAL’

I am a star

Prism and light fascinate kids

Alhamdhulillah. I am glad to share with you a story written for kids. :-D.

I am a Star

Sabir got ready for school in record time today. In a brightly sunlit room, decorated with Lego mechanical cars and a space shuttle, we hear timid Sabir trying out his speech.  It is an important day from him. The 9 year old science wiz wants to present his school in a science exhibition. But first he has to do a presentation on ‘Light’ in order to be selected for the big day. His speech is flawless in front of his only audience – his dearest soccer ball proudly wearing his swimming goggles. But, due to his shy nature giving a speech in front of a panel of judges was a nightmare for Sabir. While he is worrying about this, his elder sister Salma comes into the room.

Sabir is glad to see her. Traditionally elder sisters are called Aap-pa in their culture, but Salma has always been able to make Sabir happy with her presence, so he started calling her Appy. Noticing the band in her hand he says, “So you were finally able to loom the band, it’s very colourful?” Salma’s eyes twinkle with the complement, “Yes Sabir. I got the hang of it in my 4th attempt. I am glad I tried. I hope your presentation is equally colorful.” Then she says, “Abba (Father) and Amme (Mother) have sent me to listen to your speech once before we leave for school. I am all ears, please start.” But just as Sabir stood up to present his speech Saba, Sabir’s 5 year old sister, enters the room. Cute and active Saba is a mini storm packed inside a sweet girl with ever gleaming eyes. She is always eager to learn and looking at her now Sabir is worried she was going to make him lose track of his speech with her interruptions.

Assalam o alikum Appy and Bhai (That’s Sabir)”, shouts Saba as she runs in. Sabir waits for her to sit down. Instead, she turns to Salma and exclaims, “You have just two ears, yet you say you are all ears!” Salma smiles and replies, “Walikumassalam Saba, It meant I am eager to listen.” Saba raises her hand to Sabir’s ear and adds, “I am also all ears.” Sabir catches her hand in mid air, leads her to a chair and gets her more or less seated.

Sabir deliberately starts with, “Lend me your ears.” Saba covers her ears in shock. Sabir and Salma have a hearty laugh. Sabir removes Saba’s hand from her ears and says, “It means – Listen to me attentively” and he continues with his speech, “Light is a form of energy. It travels in form of waves. Speed of light is 2.9*108 meters per second. A Light Year is 9.4 *1015 meters. That’s 6 million miles.” Using a transparent, translucent and opaque glass pieces he explains different phenomena of light. Finally, with a prism in hand Sabir explains about Dispersion – Separation of light. Saba looks at dispersed light from prism and exclaims, “Rainbow!” Sabir happily explains, “Yes Saba, rainbow is splitting of light by water droplets.” Saba hugs him cajolingly and requests, “Can I have this rainbow maker. Pleeeeease” Sabir replies, “You may have it after the presentation. Just lend it to me when I need it later.”

Salma applauds Sabir, “Allah o Akbar.” Being still nervous, Sabir confesses, “I am scarred of presenting anything in front of judges. So, I’ve teamed up with Abid. He has agreed to help me when I’m tongue tied. I just hope he doesn’t forget the points.” Salma consoles, “In sha Allah, you both will do fine. Keep trying, someday you’ll overcome your fear.” They hear Ammee call, “Hurry up children. You don’t want to be late to school.”

Salma and Saba had returned from school before Sabir. The home is filled with smells of freshly baked chocolate cake. Ammee has baked it especially as a reward for Sabir. Salma tries to decorate the cake as they wait for Sabir in their cozy living room decorated in shades of pastels. Shortly Sabir arrives with a long face. As Ammee helps Salma with the frosting, she greets Sabir with a warm smile, “Assalamalikum.” Saba descends from the table, where she had been admiring the cake, and pounces on Sabir questioning eagerly, “Bhai, did you speak about all ears in your school? Did you bring back that triangle rainbow maker?” Sabir said in a broken voice, “Walikum Salam.” Sensing the pain in his voice Ammee comes closer to Sabir and asks gently, “Dear, was the presentation not good enough?” Sabir broke into tears as he replied, “It was great but…” Ammee hugs sobbing Sabir and signals Salma to fetch a glass of water. Everybody waits patiently for Sabir to calm down. A couple of minutes later, Ammee gets Sabir seated down and hands him a glass of water. Sabir sips from the glass and finally the whole story pours out of him, “Presentation was in the last period. I didn’t say a word. Abid did the whole presentation himself with my notes and samples. He was applauded and praised.” Everybody was stunned. Even Saba was silent.

Saba kneels down next to Sabir. She raises her head and stares at Sabir with big eyes ready to cry. Then she slowly utters in a heavy voice, “Does this mean I won’t get the rainbow maker ?” Sabir just could not prevent himself from laughing. Salma hands Saba her knitted bracelet saying, “This rainbow bracelet doesn’t need light for colours. It is better than that rainbow maker.” Saba is delighted. Ammee kisses Sabir and says, “Oh dear! Abid is a good boy too, I don’t know what happened.” Sabir sighs; “Now the opportunity to represent my school in the exhibition is lost.” Ammee tries to cheer him up, “You took effort to learn about light. Knowledge is valuable.” Sabir smiles halfheartedly.

That day, after magrib prayer, Amme took them to terrace. It was quite and very dark outside, except for the sky. It grabbed everybody’s attention. Though there was no moon, thousands of stars were gleaming down at them. Few minutes later, Ammee asked them, “What do you guys see?”

Saba draws patterns in sky connecting stars and says, “I see a donut and an ice cream!”. Everyone smiles. Salma teases her, “Wasn’t that messy cake good enough for your sweet tooth?” Saba grins.

Salma then looks at sky and proclaims: “Allah is The Perfectionist. The Splendid”

Sabir recollects: “I have just learnt that these stars are massive fire balls. Most are bigger than our Sun too and are far far away. Yet, now they appear to be here just for me.”

Ammee complimented, “Well said kids. Yes Sabir, stars are there for a reason. Like Saba, people have made patterns out of group of stars and remembered their position. They saw a little more than a donut though.” They all giggle.

Ammee continues, “For centuries these constellates – group of stars, served as a guide for travelers by night. Kids, can you name a star?”

Saba points finger at one of them and proclaims: “I name this one Saba.”

As Sabir laughs he names another star: “Sun”.

Saba: “Sun is also a star!”

Salma: “It’s our closest star.”

Ammee looks at surprised Saba and says “Most of the stars are not even named. They are too many to be named.”

Then she turns towards Sabir and asks, “Sabir, How long does it take for sunlight to reach earth?”

Sabir says in a jiffy- “8.4 minutes”

Well pleased Ammee continues “Very good. Some of the stars here are hundreds of light years away. This means, what we see now is what they had been hundreds of years ago. Some are already dead. Yet we see them shine from here!”

Sabir: “Still their light serves a purpose. Allah-o-Akbar!”

Ammee comes close to Sabir and says softly, “Likewise, even if you are not selected for a contest you served your purpose.”

Surprised, Sabir quickly asks: “How?”

Ammee “Allah knows, you taught Abid about light. In sha Allah every time Abid speaks about light you will be rewarded too. For this reason, winning shouldn’t be your first priority. ‘Spreading knowledge’ which Allah has blessed you with should be your goal. You may not be recognized now, but your work would speak for itself later.”

Sabir felt the weight of failure lift from his heart slowly. He felt like a star shinning high in the sky. Now he was glad that Abid managed to do well and sincerely hoped that he would do even better in his next presentation.

Salma: “Subahan Allah. This vast sky and shining stars show greatness of its Creator – Allah.”

They hear the phone ring and rush down stairs. Sabir picks the phone; it was Abid, “Assalam Alaikum.” “Walikumsalam”. “Sabir, it was great presenting before judges. I just couldn’t stop myself. I was stunned by the applause. Then I remembered you. I told everyone you did the entire research. We searched for you. But, you had already left. I think I offended you. I’m sorry. I should have let you present too.” Unable to control his excitement Abid continues, not giving Sabir a chance to speak, “Here is the great news for you. We are both selected for the exhibition” Sabir utters Alhamdhullillah under his breath, he is smiling now. Abid tells him excitedly “Our next topic is – Stars. I insist you start the speech next time. Start with the dua, ‘Rabb-ishrah-li-sadri, wayassir-li ‘amri, Wah-lul ‘uqdatam-min-li-saani, Yaf-qahuuqawlii’. This will make it easy for you. You will do great in sha Allah” Sabir replies with a big smile, “Sure Abid, we will shine like stars.”

Prism and light fascinate kids
A child preparing for a presentation
Facing rejection in a tender age
Shine like a star.

It was printed in Muslimaat magazine, Issue 5. This edition had much to ponder upon. The glossy pages had enough to occupy our thoughts and prevent us from slipping into sins. I would have to admit each and every page of the magazine was written with passion and touched the the heart. I am humbled to see my article amidst such outstanding articles. I hope the magazine continues to spread the light of Islam. Aameen.

 

KILL THE ZOMBIE

backbiting is contagious

The aroma of biryani Abida had cooked overpowered the smell of room freshener. She inspects her flat one last time before she dresses up in one of her fine clothes. It was a special day. Her college friend was going to meet her for the first time since Abida had got married. Well, she hardly had any visitors she knew.  She wanted to impress her friend. “I hope Sadaf is not taken a back by the building’s location”, she thought.

As she waited she heard the phone ring. “Sadaf should be close by. May be she forgot the flat number.” Much to her disappointment, it wasn’t Sadaf. She hears nagging Rashma crying aloud, “Hallo Abida. You won’t believe what happened?” Abida knew now Rashma would treat her like a dump yard of emotions and there is nothing much she could do to console her. She replies politely, “Hi Rashma. Oh dear, no matter what it is don’t take it to your heart. I am sure things would turn around for better.” Amidst sob’s Rashma utters, “As usual my husband forgot all about me. He had…” Just then she heard a bell. Delighted to find a reason to escape Abida quickly interrupts, “I was expecting my friend. I have to attend her. I feel sad to leave you in your distress. I am sure your hubby will cheer you up. Bye” She cuts the call and rushes to the door.

The friends were glad to meet one another. Abida felt as though she was meeting her long lost sister! Abida did her best to make her friend feel like a queen! Sadaf and Abida spoke for hours about their days together on college. It was time for lunch. Sadaf was impressed by Abida’s culinary skills. “Abida, you could be a chef at a five star hotel. I just can’t have enough of the biriyani you cooked. You should share this recipe with me.” Abida gladly agrees. Sadaf wonders, “Abida I knew you couldn’t make tea and was happy to dress in casualwear. Now you have changed a lot. You look prettier in our silk robes and jewels. And the food you cook is divine. Your husband is a lucky man. Tell me the secret behind this transformation. Is it love?” Abida blushes and then replies honestly, “OH dear! Love is just a small part. Almost every weekend I have guests visiting us. We can’t afford to dine them out every week end. Inevitably I learnt to be a better host. So far I was only catering my hubby’s friends and family. You are the first person whom I had been acquainted with to come to my home. So, I was really eager to make this day special.”

The conversation seemed to change gloomy. Sadaf was too concerned about Abia’s tiring life. “It should have been tough catering to so many guests. A young couple needs to go out and have fun more often. You were pampered like no other girl at your parents’ home. I am sure your hubby should be helping you with the chores.” Abida opens her heart out, “The only help he does is to invite.” Sadaf gasps, “Oh my God! You should hate being treated as a servant.” Abida argues, “It’s not all that bad. You know I enjoy having company. I love having guests around. Well, until…” Abida wishes she hadn’t uttered more. It was too late. She recollected a heart breaking incident which occurred about a month ago. Sadaf urged her to continue, “Until what? Tell me. You would feel better.” Abida could not hold herself back, “well, one of hubby’s cousins had stayed over during holidays. We planned to go on a picnic next day. I had worked hard and took best care of the guest. Then I also cooked and packed for the picnic. I was last to sleep and first to wake up. I was very tired and fell asleep in the car. I could partly hear everything they spoke. My hubby called me lazy. He said I sleep all day. I hoped his cousin would defend me. Instead, he was feeling pity for my hubby. Would he do the same if his BIL said this about his sis. I came back and confronted my hubby? He was unapologetic.” With this Abida broke into tears. Sadaf handed her a tissue. She said, “That should have hurt a bit.” Abida snaps, “A bit? It felt as though he was tearing my clothes and was exposing me. Aren’t husband and wife meant to be like clothes to one another? Shouldn’t they protect, complement and save one another from evil. Now, I wonder what else had he been telling about me to his relatives. I strain so much to please him and what to do I get in return?”

They are your garments and Ye are their garments
Quran 2:187 Surah Al baqra 187

Sadaf starts a new chapter, “You had earlier told your hubby is very loving. Someone should have pushed him to turn like this. Is she your MIL?” “Oh no, she is such a darling. There are few differences in way we see things. That’s normal. Let’s speak about something else.” Sadaf agreed. She focused on Abida’s home. “Your house is well kept but it is not in prime location. What kind of neighbours do you have? The smell of fish on the way to your flat was hard to bear.”  Abida’s turns defensive again, “Well my hubby is saving to buy a better car. Once, he saves enough we will shift to a better location. Hey! That same neighbor also taught me to make biriyani. It’s not her fault that our kitchens face corridor.” Sadaf pities her, “It’s sad to see you adjust so much. How selfish of your hubby to leave you here so that he may enjoy luxuries. You should have been stern. If he doesn’t care for his newly wed wife, do you think he’ll care for you few years from now? Your parent always kept your preferences above theirs. It should be tough for you to live like this.” One thing led to other Abida was spilling beans out. When Sadaf left, she felt depressed and somehow oppressed. Lively home seemed devastated. Nothing seems right. She wonders why she ever married. The couple fought by evening and her young hubby went alone to meet his friends! She thought, “Now he’ll go and blabber everything to his friends.”

Things looked better again. Her hubby and she missed each other’s pleasant company. In no time, the conflict was pushed aside. She wonders why she ever fought with such a loving husband. A week later she receives call from her mom. Her mom was very upset. On questioning she reveals, “Does Ahmed take good care of you dear?” “He is very good to me.” “I know everything dear. You stay in a crappy place to save money. You work hard to please his guests and end up being called lazy. Your MIL and you have differences. And …” Abida is stunned to hear all this. She had only spoken to her friend about these things and they were not exactly said like this. She quickly comforts her mom, Continue reading KILL THE ZOMBIE