5/30/2015

Hidden

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Tonight, inshaAllah, marks the beginning of the three white nights of Sha'baan. I can hardly believe that we are at the halfway mark of this glorious month - the gateway to Ramadhan. Allahumma baarika lana fi Sha'baan wa balighna Ramadhan, ameen.

This afternoon, as I felt the aftereffects of hot oil splashing onto my hand, I remembered the story of a beautiful and blessed woman. During the ascension - Al Isra wal Mi'raj, the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, smelled a lovely smell and asked about it. He was told it was the place where a woman was buried. 

Who was this woman? As I recall, the story goes something like this. One day, as this woman brushed the hair of Fir'awn's daughter, she dropped the brush and upon picking it up she mentioned the name of Allah. Because of the suspected belief that this woman did not accept Fir'awn as a deity, Fir'awn's daughter reported this lady to her father. When asked if she believed in Allah and His Oneness, she affirmed this truth, rejecting any self-attributed claims that Fir'awn had to lordship. Fir'awn then ordered that this woman's children be thrown into a cauldron of hot oil, and after watching her children be killed in such horrendous and painful manner, she too met the same end. But how short-sighted it is to consider that the end. That was the end of the beginning and only Allah knows her state with Him now. 
 نسألك يا ربنا الكريم رضاك و الجنة و نعوذ بك من سخطك و النار آمين

I have not listened to any lessons in a very long time, neither in recent days about Al Isra wal Mi'raj nor about Sha'baan and its merits. I do, however, recall that advice is often given in Sha'baan to increase in salawaat or sending blessings on the Prophet Muhammad, salla Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam. However, this year, a respected teacher and shaykh advised that we recite the following in abundance:


I find this such profound and fitting advice in that we not merely read it but that we especially reflect on it. I'm not sure I know how to, but by Allah's grace, there are lessons in front of me if I choose to learn from them.

A friend recently complained to me about someone who was honestly quite unjust towards her. It was an ongoing tension and she unfortunately sought some counsel from me, but my words did not sit well with her. She said that that night she prayed and instead of seeing herself as a recipient of injustice, she prayed for the goodness of the one who had wronged her. While she wept before her Lord, in her sincerest prayers, she acknowledged herself as the wrongdoer - saying this very same du'a. The next day she came to tell me about her prayer and that it was answered that day through the means of an apology from the one who had done her wrong.

Unfortunately, I recognize that my retelling of this incident is weak, but I write it as a reminder for myself that sometimes when we feel wronged, it may well just be a reminder of our own wrongdoings and we owe it to ourselves to return to Our Lord, beseech His forgiveness and to recognize and acknowledge our wrongs - however well we may hide them from ourselves. 

This process of seeing the wrongs within ourselves is weighty as it is not as apparent as we would like to think. I've most certainly wronged myself in my "counsel" to her, and the hardest part about it is that I believed - at least superficially - that I did not say anything wrong. The issue, however, is that I did not say anything right.

I'm learning now that saying and doing what is right must necessarily be connected to the life of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. Had I reflected on his life and his way, I might have told her something other than I did. 

Alas, this has come full circle. In the the month of the beloved of Allah, salla Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam, we are required to dig deep within ourselves and sort out what we do, say, and think into what is permissible and what is best, and we can only know what is best by connecting ourselves to the life and the reality of our beloved Prophet and Messenger, Muhammad, salla Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam.

Ya Allah, to You belong all praises, gratitude, and submission. Forgive us for wronging ourselves, knowingly and unknowingly, and guide us to that which is most pleasing to You. Ya Allah, connect us with Your beloved, Sayyidana Muhammad salla Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam, inwardly and outwardly, throughout our days and nights, and protect us from straying from his way and Your guidance, ameen.

4/22/2015

Silver Crowns

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

رَبِّ أَوۡزِعۡنِىٓ أَنۡ أَشۡكُرَ نِعۡمَتَكَ ٱلَّتِىٓ أَنۡعَمۡتَ عَلَىَّ وَعَلَىٰ وَٲلِدَىَّ وَأَنۡ أَعۡمَلَ صَـٰلِحً۬ا تَرۡضَٮٰهُ وَأَدۡخِلۡنِى بِرَحۡمَتِكَ فِى عِبَادِكَ ٱلصَّـٰلِحِينَ
 My Lord, arouse me to be thankful for Thy favour wherewith Thou hast favoured me and my parents, and to do good that shall be pleasing unto Thee, and include me in (the number of) Thy righteous slaves. 
(Surah An Naml - 27, Ayah 19)

***

It's my mother's birthday today and incidentally my father's birthday in a week inshaAllah. May Allah continue to bless them and grant them His good pleasure. May He have mercy on their parents filling their graves with His nur, and grant them and all their loved ones a good ending, ameen.

We long stopped acknowledging birthdays with gifts or anything more than a few words - if that. I suppose none in the family care for it as a celebration, but I do believe it is an important day to some extent. It is a reminder of life and an opportunity to reflect on where we have been and towards that which we're heading.

Celebrating our own lives seems to feed a culture of "me, myself, and I." Instead, I consider birthdays as a day of gratitude. It is a day when we must make a point of turning to our Lord and thanking Him for His continuous graces. It is only by His command and will that we continue to breathe and that life remains in us. How absurd it is that we exalt ourselves on a day when humility should be at its peak.

Secondary to gratitude to our Lord is at least a word of thanks to our parents. Raising a child is a 24-hour-a-day labour of love. It is rifled with challenges and heartache and adorned with patience and selflessness. And it ends only at death. 

It is at the hands of our parents that many of us build foundations that steady us throughout our lives.  Let us not neglect and undermine a great service because it seems all too common. I suspect a lifetime of gratitude would not recompense our parents for even their preparations for our births. In the least, it would do us well to acknowledge their sacrifices and service if not to return their efforts by serving them well in their lives too.

February 2, 2015
***


وَٱخۡفِضۡ لَهُمَا جَنَاحَ ٱلذُّلِّ مِنَ ٱلرَّحۡمَةِ وَقُل رَّبِّ ٱرۡحَمۡهُمَا كَمَا رَبَّيَانِى صَغِيرً۬ا 
And lower unto them the wing of submission through mercy, and say: My Lord! Have mercy on them both as they did care for me when I was little. 
(Surah Al Isra -17, Ayah 24)

رَبَّنَا ٱغۡفِرۡ لِى وَلِوَٲلِدَىَّ وَلِلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ يَوۡمَ يَقُومُ ٱلۡحِسَابُ
Our Lord! Forgive me and my parents and believers on the day when the account is cast.
(Surah Ibrahim - 14 - Ayah 41) 

4/21/2015

A Return

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

O ye who believe! Turn unto Allah in sincere repentance! It may be that your Lord will remit from you your evil deeds and bring you into Gardens underneath which rivers flow, on the day when Allah will not abase the Prophet and those who believe with him. Their light will run before them and on their right hands; they will say: Our Lord! Perfect our light for us, and forgive us! Lo! Thou art Able to do all things.(Ayah 8, Surah 66) 
I'm moved to speechlessness as I recognize that I, like you, have been granted the honour and an explicit invitation to come back to my Gracious Creator. How far we sometimes go, and yet He calls us back again and again, opening the doors of renewal constantly. With every prayer and good deed, during every third part of the night, during every Thursday night, on every Friday, throughout each day of this blessed month of Rajab, among many more times in the year, we are called to rectify our hearts and ways.

I find Rajab particularly touching in its meaning. Being the "month of Allah," we are reminded of our outstanding debt of repentance and we are granted promises of finding a way to return to our Lord specifically in these days and nights. 

We can never hide from our Lord, despite the shame of our lowliness, but why should we ever want to? He is the only One who deserves all praises and servitude and there are no secrets with Him. He calls us to Him despite our insincerity, arrogance, laziness, and weaknesses. Ya Rabb, laka kullu al hamd wa kullu ash shukr. O Lord, all praises and gratitude belong to You alone.

In these days when most of the world is enduring extreme challenges and human rights are violated to the worst degree and in the ugliest of ways, few of us can sleep well at night. I think about my Arabic teacher who is now in Iraq with her husband and young children. I wonder about their states, if they have food to eat and what they possibly witness in their days and hear into their nights. I listen to my neighbour telling me about her parents and adult children in Syria. I admire her parents' wisdom and faith and their restful states with their Lord and His decree. I am at a loss for comforting words as my friend, her husband, and their young son are faced with a forced return to Yemen where people are killing and being killed without just cause making daily life a struggle. Have a good opinion of Allah. To Him we entrust all our affairs. I shed a tear or more for all those who are persecuted, who watch helplessly as their children starve to death or who spend their days demanding that the world come together for the rights of their family members - men and women - who are wrongly imprisoned, tortured, and killed. I admire their strength and I pray for ease in all their affairs and peace in all their hearts.

And yet each day, I am faced with the meaning of potential as I spend my hours with 5-year-old children. I wonder what type of adults they might grow into and what they might need to figure out this insane world and be of benefit to it. 

I hate many things I see in myself, and I pray that despite my pathetic offerings, Allah will accept my attempts to be a better servant of Him. May Allah the Almighty and Merciful guide us all and let the miracles of the Quran manifest themselves to us inwardly and outwardly. May He protect us all from the evils of ourselves, mankind, and jinn. May He unite families in all that is beautiful and may He heal our hearts. May He make us from the people of the Quran, inwardly and outwardly. May He make us, all our loved ones, and our descendants from among those who receive His good pleasure and a sweet return to Him. O Allah, have mercy on us and this ummah. O Allah, shower your mercy on us and on our deceased. Ya Rabb, fill the graves of Your servants with the sights and scents of Jannah, and let us join them in the best of states as we return back to You. O Allah, let us die for Your sake and accept from us our repentance and efforts to make aright the wrongs in our actions and hearts. Ameen.

ربَّنَا اغْفِرْ لَنَا ذُنُوبَنَا وَإِسْرَافَنَا فِي أَمْرِنَا وَثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَنَا وانصُرْنَا عَلَى الْقَوْمِ الْكَافِرِينَ
Our Lord, forgive us our sins and our transgressions, make our feet firm and assist us against those who reject faith. (3:147)

4/18/2015

Lost In Translation

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

I can't help but feel the way that I do. With a pitted feeling in my gut and some nervousness too. It's as though I have something big in life to face, but no, this is nothing new. I've left before and returned too. It wasn't fun. Neither here nor there. Then why leave in the first place? This was and is my fate. But with almost two years building, it's a lot for me to taste.

Previously it was a year, 11.5 months to be exact. I had few reservations and no potential worries of the impact. Perhaps I was ignorant and expected that maybe nothing would have changed. How overly self-concerned to think that anyone's affairs would stop for me. But it's not that. It is beautiful for experiences to be free. Lord knows how pleasing it is to see. But again, it remains that I am still me, and I cannot see, even now, anything but a decline. I am not trying to whine but only trying to find something much deeper and greater, and to feel assured that all was not in vain. How much of life will be the same? How much worse will I be? Is there a chance that I can be a better me?

So gracious is my Lord, constantly. But specifically, in those days long past, Who sent an unexpected friend, a golden pearl, to whom some details were passed. But even greater, with whom the meanings and essences were clarified. Intensified. Partially realized. I have lived with those words by my side, inspired I'm sure by the One who guides. And I try to remember the clarity of that brief encounter and the confusion that followed, but perhaps I have lost more than I know. The ability to decipher. The ability to grow. No, I do not accept. There is nothing to regret. There is nothing lost, but only another beautiful bridge that is nearly crossed. 

I'm still struggling to prepare the inward to meet the outward. I have weak answers to the big questions. All attempts failed at an introspection. Expectant are the tears, for they are my glue. Always offering me a subtle clue. Ways of the heart are built, as you know, in parts. Insights and experiences are weaved together as brilliant art. It is what we need, the process. And by it, we can truly reflect on life and attempt to assess. Are we nearing our personal best?

I have changed, but meanings are often lost in translation and perhaps I will not be understood, by myself or others. I must learn to translate the essence of the meanings and not so much the words. The strength of my intentions and not so much the weakness of my actions. I must learn to forgive what I do not understand. To respond with a helping hand. I must learn to close my eyes and hold my tongue. To speak with thoughtfulness and to think without emotion. I must learn to unhear what I cannot handle and let patient gratitude be my candle. I must want for myself nothing from the hand of another. For truly, I seek only my Lord's good pleasure.

اللهم إني أسألك رضاك والجنة وأعوذ بك من سخطك والنار
آمين


3/27/2015

Quiet Sentiments

بسم الله الرحمان الرحيم

Change forces one to learn. Solitude forces one to think. But what inspires one to blossom or simply improve?
March 27, 2015
 ***

Sometimes a feeling momentarily hits me of being alone. I realize then that the lengthy conversation I'm having is actually just my own thoughts and my physical world is entirely silent. I don't dwell on the realization too long as it is quite a sad notion in its own right, but there is really nothing to be sad about in my life. There's only much for which to be grateful.
March 19, 2015
 ***

Things of great beauty all seem to have an element of motion and yet somehow, absolute stillness is awesome.
Jan. 25, 2015
 ***

While they, 'alayhim as-salaatu wa as-salaam, complained to Allah of the people and sought comfort in Allah's good pleasure, the culture of "today's liberation" complains of Allah's commands and seeks comfort in society's approval.
Dec. 14, 2014

3/23/2015

Come Back

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Silence is the best keeper of secrets
But it's an unjust punishment
Forcing the world into freezing temperatures
Few opening their doors
Many in denial 
Of the intense
Terrifying 
Horrors 
That so many must endure
Despite their potential
To join the family of humanity
That liberates man 
From destructive shackles
By which
He chooses evil
When good
In all her glory
Remains waiting
For his return.
Come back.
Leave
Your worst.
Come back.
And be
Your best.

12/05/2014

Challenges

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

A couple of years ago, one of my teenage, weekend school students suggested that I watch a documentary about homosexual Muslims so that we could discuss it. 

Apart from my student's invitation, I have no direct use for making sense of the perspectives, challenges, ideas, and ways of this segment of the community. None of my acquaintances have ever mentioned it. Nonetheless, I ask myself, should one of my friends or loved ones identify with this challenge, how would I respond?

My response is what follows.

~~~
Its challenge, at least initially, is that the person wonders why he has such inclinations when in fact acting on them is forbidden in Islam and all monotheistic traditions.

The journey for said person progresses so that he contacts Islamic scholars and asks them about the legal ruling regarding homosexuality. He is told that it is haram (forbidden). Not surprised, he either accepts and continues the struggle with or without guilty feelings or he continues to search for some "loophole" in the texts to accommodate these inclinations that he would rather not have himself as it complicates his life tremendously. 

One person, a graduate of a reputed Islamic studies course, ventures to argue that the scholars are misinterpreting the verses that are primarily used to reach the legal ruling of haram. Others may follow his lead, but I would advise strict caution in this area. Why? Because textual interpretations and legal rulings in Islam are a deeply scholarly endeavour. It is not the work of the layman, and thus the scholars bear the responsibility for it. The layman need only ask qualified scholars. Each person has a place in society and we need to know and respect them.

For those who consider themselves among the scholars, scholarly discussions should be pursued but with the prominent and skilled Islamic jurists of the day, knowing well that there is a process for reaching Islamic rulings and when reached, they need to be acknowledged. It's a dangerous tactic trying to say "But I think Allah meant this and not that" when we speak of the words of God. Better err on the side of caution I would advise. 

My friend wisely accepts the advice of trusted scholars, but is still not reconciled between his feelings and shari'ah boundaries. It is a time when he has to decide on what will he do, much like a married man who wants to commit adultery or an unmarried couple who is inclined to having illicit relations. All are haram. All are based on feelings. All may not intend harm for any party (however unavoidable it is with adultery).

Islam is guidance and not a game. For the one who says she will tell God on the Day of Judgment that all she did was love someone, I say she is playing a game. Love is not the issue, but even still love does not need physical interactions. For the one who said he married but could not make his marriage work because he is "different," he missed the point.

I hate to be crude about it, but the whole issue is about sexual tendencies and we do not require them to survive nor do we need to indulge them because we have them. There are boundaries. 

The issue is not that people have atypical sexual/emotional/psychological inclinations fancying intimate and closer interactions with people of the same gender, but the issue is three-fold:
1) Denying its Islamic legal ruling and scholarly consensus,
2) Acting on one's inclinations, and
3) Publicizing 1 and 2

For those who are practicing Muslims and are faced with this difficulty, if you find yourself weak, then do yourself a favour by hiding your sin and repenting for it, as with any other sin, and pursue the greater part of our existence which is far beyond basal desires.

For those who have "outed" themselves, don't expect the general community to understand you nor to support you in your effort to normalize your tendencies. Many have done it with premarital and extramarital relations, but they are all morally wrong. Instead, ask your loved ones for their prayers and keep your actions pure even though you must struggle with yourself. Marry or remain married if you can fulfill your spousal responsibilities even if he/she is not your idea of an ideal partner and companion. With high intentions, your marriage may be a light for you on a very dark day. May Allah protect us all, ameen.

For those who erroneously comfort themselves by looking at the aspect of Islam that is loving, know that there is no principle in any Islamic teachings - not even among the Sufis - that tolerates deliberate transgressions and a blatant disregard for divine boundaries. At least none of which I'm aware.

Allah will forgive all our sins, except for shirk, but we need to sincerely repent. Repentance has three primary conditions:
1) Leaving the sin,
2) Being remorseful for the sin, and
3) Resolving never to return to the sin

Should any believer find himself weak and returning to the sin after his repentance, the door of sincere repentance is still open and remains open until death approaches. How gracious is our Lord. Allahumma laka kullu al hamd. O Allah, all praises are due to You alone.

So, why do people have such inclinations, a natural phenomenon for them, if acting on them is forbidden Islamically? I imagine it is because this world, inherently, is a test and everyone is tested in different ways. It's a test of obedience and servitude to Allah. There is no doubt that if He has tried us with anything, it is not more than we can handle. The conditions set us up for success if we are brave, patient, strong, perseverant, sincere, humble, and grateful.

It’s fashionable to say “we live only once” and therefore we should do as we please. I agree that we do live once in this world, but our soulful existence is eternal. And because we live only once in this relatively short testing period, we need to remind ourselves (and seek those who help in reminding us) that our pain in this world for Allah’s sake is not in vain. Surely short term pains will reap long term gains when done with high intentions and as acts of servitude before our Creator.

We all have every reason to have a good opinion of our Lord and to know that He never closes the door of acceptance on us, regardless of how lowly we become. But we must wear our faith in a way that befits it and graciously accept the veils that hide our weaknesses in front of people. We must struggle with ourselves to be better, and we must be honest with ourselves even if is against ourselves. 

The aim is not to outwit divine guidance for that can never be achieved and it will never bear fruits. The goal is to embrace it. It is the key to our very existence. Our existence is purely servitude of our Gracious Creator in whatever He guides us to and demands of us.

And Allah knows best. و الله أعلم

May Allah guide us all to correct the wrongs in our hearts, minds, bodies, and souls, and may He grant us the wisdom, strength, and understanding to choose better and to draw closer to Him leaving our lower selves starved while feeding our spiritual hearts, ameen.

12/04/2014

Another Year Gone

A Loss

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

If you asked me what I've learned, I'd be hard pressed to answer. The lessons are in me, in some form, but such lessons tend to emerge in their own time and their own way.

One of my greatest insights only struck me long after I articulated it to a good friend. Allah sent a most unexpected confidant my way in those days, one who appreciated the challenge of knowing that who we are is not necessarily a reflection of where we have been or what we have experienced. A friend who didn't let me accept my weakness as my sole reality and who shared thoughts and a character worthy of the word precious. Good friends are rare to find and tough to lose.
اسأل الله أن يبارك لك في كل وقت و حين آمين

December 3, 2014

Tahooran inshaAllah

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Illness is really something to be grateful for because it is not in vain. It reminds us of our neediness before our Lord and of His great mercy, compassion, and care. How spectacular it is that He cures us of our maladies and purifies us of our sins for the hardships that we endure through them. Every situation that He allows to reach us is loaded with opportunities to reach Him.

November 28, 2014

Social Prosperity

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

We are social beings not necessarily in needing others to survive but rather in needing to know how to serve others with sincerity so we can all prosper, inshaAllah.

November 22, 2014

Love

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Love for our own sake constrains and makes us vulnerable, but love for the sake of Allah liberates and sets us free.

November 16, 2014

Futile

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

I will do that which most might advise against. I will not transcend my state, nor fight it. I shall wait. Confident that only the best will be. I will wait until the best for me becomes me.

September 6, 2014

Beautiful

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

How beautiful it is to be alive in these blessed days. How overwhelmingly beautiful it is to want to be close to one's Lord. How beautiful, generous, and loving is our Lord. Words do not suffice such sentiments, so I shall cease this attempt and move on to other matters. 

July 3, 2014

Settling The Unsettled

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Many of us attempt to find ourselves, but I realize now that searching is a misdirected strategy. We can only search for that which is lost, but often times all we need to do is let the dust settle enough for truth to manifest.

May 30, 2014

Live...

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Live and love with mercy, patience, and gratitude for Allah's sake alone.

April 28, 2014

Cheese

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

I love the written word. It can be likened to cheese. Yes, cheese. It is very versatile and when used with the right combination, it's delicious. The written word has one overwhelming quality - for better or worse - and that is that it can be relived potentially infinite times either in the exact same way or morphed into a renewed flavour.

February 27, 2014

Counting

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

My sister tells me not to count, but it's been five months since I've been with my loved ones. I haven't seen my brother in one year more than that and I miss them all. 

I do find my family particularly special. We have our share of dysfunction, but a thousand times over, they are precious and I'm ever grateful to have such a family. I often think of writing about them and the few others who claim a high rank in my heart, but how do words do justice to love?

February 15, 2014

Perhaps

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Perhaps relationships can be likened to tajweed. To recite the Quran as is befitting of its greatness is to recite it with tajweed, thereby giving every letter its right. 

Tajweed is one of the most humbling Islamic sciences as it requires the student to continuously correct his mistakes. These mistakes are best realized at the hands of a skilled teacher. The key to tajweed is to practice, listen, and practice some more. Each letter is different and unique. Each letter plays a different role in each word. To master tajweed, one must not only know the source of each letter but also its attributes.

People too are all different, each with a different story, each with a different set of characteristics. Yet depending on the role that that person has in our lives and his temperment, he is treated accordingly. 

The only way to master relationships is to know their roles, to continuously correct your mistakes in giving each relation its due rights, and to do it for the sake of Allah with hopes of realizing the great potential with which mankind was created.

January 4, 2014

11/23/2014

Every Moment

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

The lifeline of every relationship, as I see it now, is to have a good opinion of each other. Quite expectantly, it is a difficult task, but it is essential. 

Relationships, it seems, mark every moment of our lives. We cannot free ourselves of them. In the higher realm, we have an eternal relationship with our Creator, whether or not we acknowledge, honour, or live by it. Secondary to that, we are born into this world with, in the least, a connection to our mothers who have each endured the challenges of our prenatal growth and our births.

Relationships mark every moment, and it will serve us well to understand how best to approach and manage them. With respect to our Lord, it is ever-so natural to submit to Him and to have a good opinion of Him. We know Him from His revelations and His signs and thus there is no room for doubting His guidance and His will. The difficultly, I find, is always having a good opinion of fellow humans.

None of us (with an active nafs) like to feel like a fool, so it makes good sense not to trust everyone we meet and all that we hear. It seems only wise, but there has to be exceptions or else we would become cynical maniacs without restful hearts. 

The exceptions are those that earn titles, so to speak, in our lives. Where we can say "This is my so-and-so" i.e. mother, father, grandparent, sibling, spouse, child, aunt, uncle, cousin, neighbour, elder, friend, leader, student, teacher, etc., we must know that there is an equation of rights and responsibilities and an array of expectations and protocol. But within these defined roles and interchanges of give and take, there is also the great possibility of failing to deliver or one merely perceiving the failure to deliver - both of which result in tense relationships.

Is there a preventative measure? Perhaps we simply need to give our relations the benefit of the doubt by having a good opinion of them even if they've disappointed us in some ways or they have wronged us. If nothing more, it will at least allow us to appreciate that we sometimes interpret people's actions negatively without just cause. 

I don't, however, believe that having a good opinion of a person is meant to excuse explicit harm - abuse and bullying. But where we can swallow our pride and consider the reasons for all that seems amiss, we probably should. Will we lose out? Perhaps. That all depends on why we do what we do. If the relationship itself and our management of it is for Allah's sake, then we have nothing to lose regardless of the tough times.

As Muslims, we live for the next world and for the pleasure of our Lord, so let not the pettiness and sneaky behaviours of others harm our relationship with our gracious Creator. In essence, it's the only one worth preserving and we can only preserve it truthfully by honouring His creations to the best of our abilities as He has commanded of us - that is, with an open heart and a flexible mind. 

We must also recognize that our sworn enemy, Shaytan, feeds ill thoughts of and feelings towards others and we only support his cause by failing to challenge it. 

Relationships mark every moment, and the decision to be better and see the best is others is ours alone. We will all surely reap what we sow. 

Allah knows best. و الله أعلم


~~~

Excerpts from a lesson with Al Habib Umar bin Hafiz on having a good opinion of others.

"Do not see yourself as superior to any Muslims. Reflect upon how your ending would be. Don't be proud or arrogant. Think about how your ending will be. You cannot be certain about other people's misdeeds but you can be certain about yourself and your sickness in the heart. Why leave this certainty about yourself in favor of assumptions on other people? Don't be happy about people's praise when you know your own true state with certainty. The more increase in knowledge you may have, the more you should feel conscious about your ignorance. No one can be certain about other people's faults but one can be certain of one's own faults. You have to take yourself to account. As for your brothers, you should excuse them thinking maybe they do this/that for this/that reason. Do not be judging or attacking other people. Have etiquette with the One who hides people's ending. Have etiquette with Allah concerning His creations." - Imam Al Haddad

11/08/2014

Time Travel

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

I took a walk today. Though my destination was futile, I savoured every moment of the stroll and thought to myself, "It's like walking through a postcard." Last night I wrote a potential blog post that I expect will not be published here. It built on the idea of experiencing beauty and knowing that I must leave it.

Perhaps life is a succession of postcards. The wise from among us know that postcards are snapshots of beautiful experiences that serve only as a reminder and perhaps a meager testimony of those times.

It seems we spend a great deal of energy trying to record moments. With cameras and recording devices at our fingertips, moments are constantly captured. For what purpose though? To relive them? To enjoy them? I certainly do. I watch a couple of video clips of my kids repeatedly, smiling no less the fifth time than the first. I miss them - the children and the moments. And while I am unable to witness and share in the newest moments of their lives, it's a comfort having a few seconds from times long past.

Do you ever re-read old letters or e-mails? I do, and again I smile no less the fifth time than I did the first, though sometimes with sadness. 

And this is life. Live and love and keep living and loving, the old and the new, but let it not be in vain. Let reminders of the past be invitations to ponder and reflect and to thank the One who bestowed them on us and continues to favour us with His graces. Let moments worth recording, words worth re-reading, smiles worth adorning, and tears worth shedding have a greater purpose. To thank, praise, and glorify our Lord. To ponder, discover, and appreciate our relationships, endeavours, and purpose.

May every postcard have a story that feeds the heart and nurtures the soul, and may every departure be followed by a gracious arrival. May we never imprison our futures with experiences of the past. May Allah guide us to Him and His good pleasure and to submit to that which He wants for us. Truly, we want not except what He wills, inshaAllah wa ameen.

10/07/2014

A Flicker

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

الحمد لله رب العالمين العالم الخبير العزيز الحكيم و الف الصلاة  و السلام على الحبيب المصطفى المحمود  و آله الكرام  و صحبه و سلم أجمعين

All praises and gratitude are forever due to our Sustainer and Creator, He who is so gentle yet firm with us. Rabbuna al 'azheem, laka kullu al hamd wa ash shukr.

I'm learning that the power of the mind is extraordinary as defeat begins there and ends in the heart. Despite the potential fickleness of the heart, it can be ruthless. It is a characteristic from which I tire but appreciate. There is such an intricate balance between the two that I don't know how to retaliate in the face of an attack. Do I start with the heart or the mind? Regardless, I get a fine beating from them both and have failed to gain the upper hand thus far. No surprise there.

I'm learning that I'm odd. This descriptor has been mine for as long as I can remember, but I didn't know how or why, and I'm still not sure if it is to my advantage or not. Nonetheless, there is no escaping it.

I'm learning that people's opinions of me are overwhelmingly inaccurate. But I guess that's a secret between me and my Lord, so I chastise myself only for my failure to even attempt to be who I like to think I am. A tangled web of denial.

I'm learning that loyalty is as much my weakness as it is a strength. So I try to be loyal to what is true, but many times I can't separate fact from fiction. A shame really.

I'm learning, quite happily alhamdulillah, that I don't let people bully me for long. Actually, I think I intimidate some people, but that is an old realization because some perceive my silence as deep thinking when in fact there is an absence of thought. Misinterpretations make for false impressions.

I'm learning that it's okay to have a sensitive nature because it is my nature and there is little I can do about it. I'm a sensitive soul that has to learn to wed my sensitivities to knowledge of what is ahsan or most pleasing in the sight of Allah. Again, tall tales of ambitions. But it is better to hope for something great than to resign myself to nothing. The latter, unfortunately, adorns most of my outfits, except when speaking of anything other than myself. Hypocritical I'm sure.

I'm learning that I have a connection to Arabs in general. And perhaps that is simply because the Arabs I know are some of the best examples I've seen of generosity, kindness, hospitality, and care, and I love them for it. That is part of the legacy of our beloved Prophet and Messenger, Muhammad, salla Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam. It is beautiful.

I'm learning that Allah's generosity with us is so vast that we cannot even pretend to grasp it. One of its greatest manifestations is in my parents. Allahu yuziduhuma fi kulli al khayr, ameen. Allah chose them as the means to teach me how to respect my existence and the existence of others. Respect is essential for me. Where it fails to exist, so does the relationship.

I'm learning that I am selfish, greedy, and self-indulgent in ways I don't fully understand. A sad and burdensome reality. Allahumma ishfi qulubana, ameen.

I'm learning that I have much to learn, but I know I cannot teach myself. Perhaps if I can empty my heart of its thorns, Allah will fill it with His jewels. Allahu al Musta'aan.


8/31/2014

ِ A Breath

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

I'm grateful for all that I am, have been, but most importantly want to be. I'm grateful for my mistakes and the successes bestowed on me as they are both essential parts in building my character and my sense of me.

I'm grateful for the health that carries me throughout my days and nights, but most importantly that allow me to even dream of a better me, to attempt to do the work that my heart needs done. 

I'm grateful for my family and loved ones who I carry with me wherever I go, but most importantly I'm grateful for the character, personalities, insights, and ambitions that distinguish them in my life and thereby honour my existence.

I'm grateful for the glorious sun and moon whose alterations bring us blessed hours and days but most importantly, I'm grateful that they remind me that my time is passing all too quickly. May I be blessed to use it wisely, ameen.

I'm grateful for all the things that bring tears to my eyes the mention of which I am undeserving but the existence of which I am much obliged. But most importantly, I'm grateful that from them I have the hope of being with them.

I am grateful that Allah allows me to write this. I am grateful, and I pray that my words and emotions can be better realized in actions.

اللهم لك كل الحمد و كل الشكر.
 نشكرك  يا رب العظيم الغفور الرحيم على كل حال.
 اهدنا الصراط المستقيم يا رب العالمين، آمين.