All in a Rose

BismiAllahir Rahmanir Raheem

*I don't need nobody. I don't fear nobody. Oh, I don't call nobody but You. My One and Only.... All I need in my life.*
- Outlandish

The day before yesterday someone gave me a beautiful pink rose. The fragrance that it emitted wasn't terribly strong, but its beauty was breathtaking, as I have never before seen in a rose. No, it wasn't a long-stem rose. No, all the leaves weren't flawlessly perfect. But its message was loud and clear.

I generally dislike picking flowers because I know that as I enjoy their beauty, I'm also bearing witness to the last moments of that flower's life. You might call that a pessimistic way to view a picked flower, I just consider it reality. Each rose has life until we remove it from the bush that it stems from, until we separate it from all that it knows, until its natural sustenance is no longer accessible.

Just recently a young man buried his brother. A daughter buried her father. A grandmother struggled as her lungs filled with water, while her daughter wondered when her mother would breathe her last. An uncle currently watches as his niece's development is slowed, uncertain of abilities that we all take for granted. A cousin wonders about the health of her loved ones as they recover from a severe car accident. A nephew buries his uncle. A mother watches her child in pain. A sister, in all her helplessness, surrenders to her tears.

What does that rose tell you? It tells me a lot. Its every breath, every ounce of its beauty is from God. He who gives us all. He who blesses us with so much which we take for granted.

I can't appreciate the life of the rose without bearing witness to her death. I can't appreciate my own life, without reflecting on the death of others. My inevitable end.

Why is it that we are so confident that we will live another day and that another breath is guaranteed when the only guarantee that we have at the very moment of our birth is our death? We've been promised our death. It's coming. When, where, how, .. we don't know. But it's on its way. Each word that you read here it taking you one word closer, one breath closer, to breathing your last.

Live preparing for your death, and your life will become sweet, God willing.

And know that Allah will test us. He already has, and He will continue to so. Be ready for it. Submit to Him. And smile, you will find your peace with Him. Only Him.

O my Lord, thank You for all that You have blessed me with, for all that You have tried me with, for all that You shelter me from, for all that You guide me to. Take us all back to You in peace.

Shukr wa Sabr

BismiAllahir Rahmanir Raheem

I recently wrote a blog entry in my notebook, at about 12 am while perched upon my sleeping bag, but somehow I think it will remain in the notebook. I wrote it because I was thinking of you all, those who have shared your perspectives and opinions with me on this blog and those who I know read in silence.

I feel in some way that I should share something with you, something beneficial from my experiences over the last month. SubhanAllah... I'm just not sure where to begin.

I'm currently in a land far away from everyone that I love and everything that looks like home. But this land itself is not problematic for me, especially not as I live here only one day at a time. I think of myself as a traveller, despite the commitment of some sort to stay here for a couple of months, insha'Allah.

My heart feels heavy today. Maybe it was because all of yesterday it was just me, myself, and my thoughts, with my Lord forever with me. Most days I speak only to my teacher during a short two hour class. Every few days I visit a friend and her family. But what I describe is not loneliness. I'm much too connected to the ones I love to feel alone. And I know, truly I am never alone.

But while being alone, without loneliness, and knowing that only my Lord knows my experiences, I can't help but wonder what my life is all about. We have our generic answers for our purpose. Yes we worship our Lord. But our purpose is not to worship Him, it is to know Him. How do we come to know Him? Do we need to clean our souls (anfus)? If we do need this, how do we do this? How does it feel? How do we know that we are on the right path?

I have felt contentment and ease for most if not all of my time here. Yet while here, Allah has sent a test for me and all the people that I love. The response has been gratitude because there is good in this test, but the heart needed its grieving time and tears have been a part of this experience. Every previous taste of heartache that I have known I have deserved. But this one was delivered.

I know there is wisdom in the plan that Allah has for us. I submit to His plan, though I don't know it. I don't know what I'm here for, but it must be for something. There must be a reason that I would be so far from my loved ones when we all have been presented with a situation that we must use to improve ourselves.

How will I ever improve? I'm so weak. I know it. I sense it. Allah hears me. I know He knows me better than I know myself, but I want to know His response to me and my state. What must I do? Where is my strength?

I suppose all the above I've written for myself. Why I write it here, I have no idea. Perhaps I will delete it soon enough. But if you can make sense of it, find the light within it, then please share it with me. In my quest for light, I trust my Lord, but the tunnel is still too dark for me that I'm not sure if I'm going the right way. My soul is much too dirty.

Something that you may benefit from? Hmm... well, I'll share with you some of what I wrote for you those minutes past midnight.

Each day as I walk along these bustling streets, I see people who are poor beyond our comprehension. My sleeping bag, as I see it, is more than I deserve as others sleep on the filthy concrete somewhere alongside the streets. Allah has blessed me tremendously.

Each day as I have to figure out what to eat (as I keep little food at home, given that I have no stove or fridge and have no plans on buying them now), I know that I have the life of luxury where I, alhamduliAllah, have the money to go buy a bottle of water for 17 cents or a shawarma for 25 cents. I once passed by a child sitting alongside the street. She probably didn't notice me as she was very busy concentrating on her task at hand; that is, she was trying to stick her little fingers into the neck of an empty bottle in an effort to try to get every last drop of sustenance out of it. Ya Rab! I submit to Your plan. Make us almong the grateful, ameen. There are many children like her and many more with few items that serve as inventory for their street-side businesses.

I saw a pair of boys the other day. They were the sweetest little boys, masha'Allah. I smiled at them, but they couldn't see my smile given that I have my niqaab on. I hope they saw it in my eyes. The younger one smiled at me though as he knew I watched them. It was a shy smile. They sat in front of an overturned cardboard box - the front desk of their store. Sitting atop the box were some candies. I should have bought something from them. I saw a man pass by. He stopped and touched one of each type of candy on their little display, only to walk away having bought none. The older boy ran into the restaurant that I stood in front of as I waited for my burger. He managed to get some bread, and he took it back to the younger boy. They shared that piece of bread with a little argument in between which I couldn't hear nor would I have understood.

These are our children. They really are. But while I feel for them and my heart breaks for them, what do I do? What can I do?

Ramadhaan is ever in mind for me as it marks the date when I must move on from here, God willing. But we must all take our personal journeys to find truth. Truth is not vain. Truth is sincere. Truth is peace. Truth is tranquility. Love is truth.

As Ramadhaan fast approaches, let's take a breather from nafsi, nafsi, nafsi (me, me, me) and look to where can benefit others. I tell myself this first because if my nafs thinks for even a second that me being alone or in a strange environment makes me anything more than anyone else or worth more than a speck of dust, it is sadly mistaken. As Shaykh Hamza Yusuf once reminded us, the problem with delusions is that the deluded one does not see his/her own delusion.

May our Lord bless us with clear hearts filled with His haqq, and may He protect us from our selfish delusions, ameen.


BismiAllahir Rahmanir Raheem

How long do bears hibernate for anyway? I guess the answer to that question has little relevance to the rest of this post (given that I'm not a bear... blogging bears don't exist, do they?)

I'm obviously not in a great a position to write coherent and reflective thoughts right now, nonetheless I will continue. I've tried to use this blog as a medium to articulate thoughts that sometimes could only be said best in writing. If I attempted to verbalize them, I think they would have made little sense.

I love the greatness in writing and all that the art represents. I think it's such a miraculous gift from God. SubhanAllah. Really. Think about it. There are so many languages in the world, so many ways of sharing information and knowlege, but were we limited to verbal communication only, there is no way we would be able to preserve the details of the immense wisdom of the past. SubhanAllah. It is not a wonder that God swears by the pen (al qalam).

With that said though, I've decided that it is time to put this bad boy into hibernation. A few months back, I was going to cease blogging. When I realized that there wasn't much benefit in that, I changed my mind. But now, it is time to let go again. I'm not sure for how long. I'm not sure if it will lead to this blog's eventual death. Regardless, I figured that if there are people who visit this blog, the least you deserve is to know that I don't intend to post here for an indefinite amount of time, best known to Allah.

It's time for me to reunite with the pen and its loyal companion of paper. It's time for me to take my reflections to a different arena and hope that through it, God willing, I will be able to live beyond mere words. Reflections are great, but frequent writers can sometimes unintentionally belittle the worth of such an art, and thus periods of silence are required. (You see, there is greatness in what we call "writer's block.")

For those who have read and continue to read this blog with interest and appreciation, may God reward you with the best of rewards and may you have found benefit in the thoughts that I've shared with you.

Some final thoughts [Multifaceted, you ask? But of course!]: treasure your values of goodness/peace/justice, your faith, and all the little things in life that make you who you are - embrace positive change and enlightened experiences - move through life like a gentle breeze and a calming wave - keep the company of those who remind you about life's true worth - and last but not least, keep smiling, for truly God is the Most Kind, and our return is to Him.

O Lord, send Your peace and blessings on Muhammad and the family and companions of Muhammad, and guide us all to be a part of his ummah, ameen!

The Power of One

BismiAllahir Rahmanir Raheem

Time has passed all too quickly
And now it silences a voice much too swiftly
Directionless seemed the only sign in sight
All efforts for progression eventually took flight

Arduous labour and strife bore no immediate fruits
Tension and confusion forced the return to one's roots
Where opportunity lay open for the walls to crumble
The power of trust prevented a stumble

Now looking from outside, the truth cannot be seen
It's not about illusions or chasing age-old dreams
There really is something greater in this quest ahead
Hidden in a vision of struggle for one unwed

It's impossible after commitment to cower at a challenge
Face it head on, manifest your oath, and life you'll manage
But where your intentions are reduced to something minuscule
Your sacrifices will be worthwhile only in the eyes of a fool

So take this as a reminder to hold your ground
Don't abandoned the trust but wear it as your crown
Move away from the constrains that cause deceptive grief
For trust in the One has and always will be your best source of peace


Waves of Silent Surrender


*The rhythm of surrender is a part of who we are with each heartbeat and involuntary blink of our eyes, a part of us we can't deny.*
- Dawud. W. Ali

There are times when there is so much to be said, but no way of saying it. Where only silence can speak, and voices must surrender. I can only sing the song if I know the words. The rhythm is with me, but I fade into the background.

Trust. Can we? Do we? Should we? We must. But each situation is unique. Trust is not a privilege for all. It's sacred. Trust cannot exist where security is compromised or uncertain. Where or how can we be convinced of our safety?

Love. The silence of surrender.

Determination. It comes through, but only in a good way if one's perception of reality isn't twisted by the belief that success was controlled by the self, or that one is entitled to the good of one's life. Determination is a gift, and seeming success is a reward that comes as relief after patiently persevering through hardships on the path of seeking goodness.

Loss. No losses need to exist. Nothing is lost when you look for the depths that can be gained. No pain, no time, no effort has to be futile; but it must be accompanied by perseverance of the greatest kind. The kind that serves no human or that answers to nothing of creation.

Sometimes when we think too hard, the path to peace becomes blurred. Sometimes the brain deserves a break and a chance to exhale.

Most times, we just have to ride the wave. Come what may, with values, faith, and the desire for eternal peace, the path is attainable. Some waves are smooth sailing and others are tough, but every wave will pass. Every wave will give you the strength that you need at the time that you need it but only if you allow yourself to see it as a vehicle en route to your destination.

If you focus on the process, the goal will come into sight. But if you focus on the goal, the process will become a difficult blur.

By the grace of God, success is measured by Him and success is only possible through Him. His plan we trust, and to Him do we submit.

May He guide us, protect us, and bestow His peace upon us all, ameen.

The Humble River - "Thinking Blogger Award"

BismiAllahir Rahmanir Raheem

"You can find sometimes in rivers what you don't find in oceans."
- Arabic proverb

So I've been "tagged" as they say in the blog world. I'm not too sure how these things work, but as long as I'm not sitting here writing about my favourite food, colour, and beverage, it's all good. So thanks to the sister who has a kind opinion about me and my incoherent reflective thoughts, and who has left me with some food to digest. Mucho gracias amiga.

There's an appeal to this particular game of tag though. From what I've gathered, it is a way of expressing appreciation for another's thoughts, as articulated on blogs. I have a great appreciation for those who think intelligently. It demonstrates a wholeness in their character, at least in the blurred vision of a fellow human who can only comment on what I observe or experience.

Those who think outside the box, those who challenge the nonsensical ways of society, and those who go beyond whining while they build on profound concepts that already exist tend to impress me. And why not? God has blessed them with gifts, and I pray that we can all benefit from those gifts.

Just this afternoon, I was thinking about a discussion that my sister and I had years ago about praise. We were talking about Brother Dawud W. Ali, and I believe she mentioned then that there is hadith that says something to the effect that excessive praise of a person is like throwing sand in their eyes. It doesn't benefit a person, and it can unintentionally cause them harm. Praise has its place among humans; but if not delivered in the right dose and with a pinch of wisdom, it can breed a lot of diseases in the heart.

In my eyes, the most beautiful cloak that a woman can wear is made with threads of hayaa' (loosely translated as bashfulness) and compassion. And the beautifying cloak of a man, in my eyes, is made with threads of humility and generosity.

With that said, there aren't many blogs that I read. Hands down, I can easily select my favourite thought-inspiring blog, whose words, delivered with great finesse, often encourage me to delve deeper into my own ideas, by the grace of God. But I'm not going to name it.

Instead, I will extend an appreciation to anyone and everyone who challenges him/herself to think deeper, to go beyond the basics, to utilize the greatness of our minds, and to do this all with the intention of becoming better humans and tapping into the gifts that God has blessed humans with. As Shaykh Hamza Yusuf said in one lecture, Muslims today have held onto our belief in God but we have abandoned our intelligence in this belief. And non-Muslims have adopted our ancestors' ways of intelligent thinking and left the idea of faith. Glory be to God.

It's well past time for us to think, don't you think?

The pebble of appreciation lays comfortably in the riverbed of thought while the river itself continues to flow with peaceful elegance.

May the All Knowing guide us all to benefit from the rivers that may run through our lives, offering their wisdom in capsules of humble submission to the One deserving of all praise, ameen.

Meeting Preparations

BismiAllahir Rahmanir Raheem

A teacher once said that the sahabas' yearly focus revolved around the month of Ramadhan. For about six months following Ramadhan, the sahabas used to seek God's forgiveness for having not made the most of the blessed month. The remaining part of the year would be used to prepare for the upcoming Ramadhan.

This past weekend my brother reflectively and matter-of-factly mentioned that Ramadhan is just around the corner. I was actually quite surprised that he had mentioned this, so I decided to calculate how long we have left. Okay, well Rabbi Al-Awwal is over or just about over at least... Hmm.. so there are about five months left until Ramadhan.

But what can we do to prepare for this blessed month?

Often in Sha'baan people ask me if I'm ready for Ramadhan. I'm never really quite sure how to answer the question, or even worse what they mean when they're asking it. How am I supposed to be ready? Do you mean is the freezer filled with samosas, both the chicken/beef and vegetable varieties? My answers alternate from, "I'm as ready as I can be" to "I hope so" to the most honest of all "I don't think I'll ever be ready."

Sometimes it feels like we have fallen into a similar trap that many (though not all, of course) of our Christian counterparts experience each week as their religious teachings have little bearing in their lives except on Sunday.

Maybe this year can be different for me and for us all. Maybe.

So what can we do? Below I have compiled a list, primarily for my benefit, of ways to try to get out of my self-destructive hole. Although I know that I am weak, it will at least serve as as reminder, God willing. Even if this effort doesn't bear any fruits for me, I can only hope that it can or it will for any eyes that may meet these words.

1) Become timely with all five of our daily prayers, and focus our hearts in our prayers.
2) Read more of the Quran each day.
3) Listen attentively to the recitation of the Quran.
4) Learn more about the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), his way, his life, etc. and send more greetings to him, salla Allahu 'alayhi wa salam.
5) Participate in wholesome community activities.
6) Listen to lectures (these are easily available online) or attend classes regarding Islamic matters as a way to inspire us to improve.
7) Find ways to express compassion to loved ones, colleagues, and those who we surround ourselves with.
8) Attempt voluntary fasts, perhaps three times a month (on the 13th, 14th, and 15th of each lunar month) or on each Monday and Thursday - both of which were practices of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). As a shaykh once said, "sawm nurtures taqwa" (fasting nurtures God consciousness).
9) Work on improving our character, rectifying our errors, and repenting for our sins.
10) Work on developing a relationship with Allah, a relationship that we are all responsible for developing ourselves. Whatever you consider beautiful and necessary in a relationship, even complaining, take it to Allah.
11) Make a sincere effort to reflect on the bounties, blessings, and signs of Allah in all aspects of our existence.
12) And if we cannot do any of that, then perhaps we can at least try to grasp the essence of our deen again. This lecture is a good place to being: True Spirit of Islam. [The filming itself is blurry, but it is still very audible, and thus beneficial, insha'Allah. I'd suggest you just listen to it instead of messing with your eyes by trying to watch it.]
13) Oh, consider this a bonus point: Elements of Success.

Hoping to meet Ramadhan in a better state this year compared to last year is simply a means, God willing, to get us to the sweetest of all ends - being close to our Lord.

What more do we need?

*What a wonderful world this would be if we open our eyes to see He is all that we need right now, and we can all come together somewhere, somehow.*
- Zain Bhikha

Update: 2007-04-18

Here's a nice nasheed that resonates with me and gets to the heart of it. It's simplistic enough for a child to grasp, yet something that we can reflect on as adults. Absorb the message, insha'Allah. May Allah help us all, ameen!

The Heart of A Muslim
By Zain Bhikha

The Wind's Wisdom

BismiAllahir Rahmanir Raheem

She whistles, she pleads, she strives to move forward - to warn - she's stern, but so timid. She is the howling wind, and she sings my song.

If you were the wind, what message would you share? Have you ever noticed how she sweeps by us as a gentle breeze on some days. She's cooing at us. But her patience is limited. She worries for us so she shows us her serious side. Listen. Listen carefully. Do you hear the tears in her gusts and shrills? Listen harder. What is she saying?

"Remember, remember! I am at the submission of Allah. It is by His will I am. To Him we all belong. Obey Him. Remember the people of 'Aad and how they met their end? Adhere, obey!"

She weeps. But she is strong.

The wind is a sign and a message in itself. It reminds us of Allah's strength and greatness when it howls. It also reminds us of His mercy as it cleans the Earth.

Listen to the lyrics of the wind and contemplate. Turn to Him in repentance while humbled in awe, but never ignore the wind.

[Written on March 10, 2002]


The wind has been howling all night, rousing me from sleep. She tells me that my moments of consciousness from sleep may be my last. She encourages me to seek my Lord's mercy. I fall into the state of minor death again, my dreams filled with discomfort. They show me many things, reminding me of inevitable death. In one instance, a hurricane begins to form only for the purpose of destroying us as we err, and yet a prayer at the moment causes God's mercy to descend and the hurricane to disappear. In the other instance, one is thought to be in deteriorating health and on her way to the next realm of existence.

Deluded by the illusion we call reality, the truth of our real existence, journey, and destination become muddled.

Listen to the wind, and work step-by-step to find your way. He is the Most Kind, the Most Merciful. May our return to Him be sweet. From Him is the only everlasting sweetness. Adhere to the way of eternal success, God willing.

I write this as a reminder to myself. These are the things not worth forgetting.

O Lord, let our return to you be filled with peace and tranquility. Guide us to lead our lives in a way that will earn Your favour and allow us to know You as you want us to know You, ameen.

My Nemesis

BismiAllahir Rahmanir Raheem

Praise be to God, the Most High, the One deserving of all love and dedication.

So where is your sweetness as you face the bitterness of today's reality? Is it in the depths of your home? Do you cherish it and hold it close to your heart? Do you weep when it leaves you? Do you mourn the thought of its demise?

We all have our secret stash of sweets. It's the only way we survive, even if we have presumably everything that one could possibly need to survive. Survival isn't only monetary. It is also spiritual, physical, emotional, and psychological.

I once had a prison. Deep in my mind. It was small, but it was there housing my Nemesis. I couldn't bribe it out of its existence. I couldn't nurture it into a beautiful garden. I tried approaching it, fighting it, scolding it. It didn't budge. I needed a key.

Many hours went by, and days, and weeks, and months. I managed to suppress it into a distant corner, forcing it to watch from afar as I frolicked in my gratefulness over life's comforts. I forced it to listen to my challenges. My aspirations. My reality. It watched for some time, barely making a sound.

And then one day it spoke. Vile words poured from it, and it finally declared its clear intent to a duel. A duel! Now things had gone too far, and I sighed deeply hoping that I could find that key. I searched. Not knowing when the duel would occur, I searched hard.

I sought guidance from those who may know, but none knew whether or where this key existed. I was faced with the prospect of inevitable ruin, but it seemed illogical. No ruin is inevitable, and this was no exception.

Again, I continued my journey far and wide seeking that special key. These travels distracted me from other pressing issues that needed my attention, but faced with a duel, I had little choice but to push on.

It was useless. I wasn't able to find the key. In utter failure, I fell to the ground, and did what my heart knew best. I wept, and wept, and wept. The earth surrounding me filled with these tears. Night came, and I lay in the midst of my tears secretly praying for my miracle.

Dawn finally arrived, bringing with her hope. I looked upon the earth, and there, in a puddle of my own tears lay the key. The key! At last, the key had been found. But how could this be? I had searched the entire space the day before, and yet nothing was there.

Along came a spider, o wise one, to tell me that the key is brittle. It was formed from my tears and the very earth that I tread on the day before.

Ah, so the key never existed! I had to work towards its creation. Rejuvenated, I returned to my prison.

With my newly formed key in hand, I unlocked the doors. There was going to be no duel. My Nemesis graciously walked out. From him, I heard truth. For hours, I listened. I absorbed. I savoured. Truth and more truth. For every minute of that truth, the prison deteriorated slightly until it vanished completely.

This is how I found my freedom. This is how I befriended my Nemesis. This is why I smile.

Where there once lay a prison, a garden of sweets flourish, planted by my Nemesis himself, forever filled with the fragrance of a fresh breeze. Thank you Nemesis.

We all have our sweets, where are yours?

I prefer the way of my Lord over the way of my nafs.
Thank You Allah.

Be Good People...


Or view it here.

God is the Light of the heavens and the earth;
the likeness of His Light is as a niche wherein is a lamp
the lamp in a glass, the glass as it were a glittering star
kindled from a Blessed Tree
an olive that is neither of the East nor of the West
whose oil is well-nigh luminous, though fire scarce touched it;

Light upon Light!

God guides to His Light whom He will.
And God speaks to mankind in symbols
for God is knower of all things.

Quran - Chapter 24, Verse 35

Comic Relief - That's Life!


Well I think it's due time for some comics, what do you say? AlhamduliAllah, life is great. Sometimes it's nice to kick back and smile at the way life goes, even if it doesn't go exactly the way we hope.

[Note: Click on images to see them enlarged. The blog template's width doesn't accommodate these comics well. Sorry for the inconvenience.]


And so it is, loneliness can no longer be ignored. You bravely venture into the crazy world to seek a suitable partner.

But it is a lot more difficult than expected.

If at first you do not succeed, try and try again. Finally, you find that lovely significant other, get married, and have a family of your own.

The novelty of marriage soon wears off, and blunt honesty becomes trying.

Somehow, the marriage survives. The sweet children grow up, and the cute cooing sounds of infanthood develop into your nemesis.

Parental love wins through. You hope for a bright future and insist that your children attend school.

But going to school doesn’t necessarily mean earning an education.

Fortunately though, in this crazy cycle we call life, there are friends and loved ones that help us get through.

Keep smiling!

Sweet Dreams

"Then which of the favours of your Lord will ye deny?"
- Quran [55:13]

It’s not possible. Just because you can dream it, it doesn’t mean you can taste it. It doesn’t mean you deserve to taste it. It doesn’t mean you are entitled to it. Dreams, o sweet dreams.

Sweet dreams are mine, but reality knocks at my door and tells me that my reality is sweet though it is not my dreams.

Am I entitled to complete peace? Without the temptations of my nafs? There is no release from this wonderful trap. Escape is tangled with loyalty. If I escape, will it mean abandonment? Lack of patience?

No. It won’t.

But still, I cannot shake it off. Let it go. It’s not an option for you. Just look in the mirror, and you’ll see truth. Ah, but you have hope in God’s great favours, in His ability to make the impossible possible. In that case, also have hope in the benefit of sorrow, for such will be your flavour. In the least, prepare for it. His decision has been made. Your destiny is no secret to Him.

Prepare, for you’ll likely only learn this the hard way. Again.

Bon Voyage, insha'Allah!


My sister just e-mailed me a copy of her itinerary which kicks into effect in two days, insha'Allah. I can hardly believe that she'll soon be on her way to Pakistan, a place that she has wanted to visit for a long time.

It goes without saying that I will miss her. Probably more than she’ll miss me since she’ll be too busy with other things and will probably find just enough time to miss her boys (naturally). Nonetheless, I am really happy for her. I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for her to visit a place that has intrigued her, and of course it’s an especially nice chance for her to meet some of her husband’s extended family.

I pray that her trip goes well. I pray that no one gives her or her mother-in-law a hard time wherever they may be. I hope that during their tremendously long flight they both remember to pray for the family and ummah, and the betterment of our world.

Often through partings the soul learns to appreciate what it so often takes for granted. “Distance makes hearts grow fonder,” isn’t it?

Many months ago, as I talked about my own smoke-filled travel ideas, my mother shared some of her motherly greatness. I was telling her that if I went anywhere and never returned, such would be my fate. My time to return to my Creator is written. Of course, my mother knows this (and probably was the one to teach me this), but I thought that perhaps her motherly love was still trying to protect me. Instead, she showed me her love, insight, and strength through words that I will never forget. She said, “It’s not death that I’m worried about… I’m worried about all the possible things, other than death, that may happen to you.” Ya Rabb… ya Rabb…

O Lord, please take them safely and bring them home safely. Ya Allah, we all have our destined time of return to You. I submit to that. Please let that be our best and sweetest moment in life, and please protect us all from the evils of mankind, jinn, and Shaytan, ameen.

A for Effort


*You gotta try a little, little bit. That's all you have to do........... and God helps do the rest!*
- Adam's World (Brother Dawud W. Ali)

Writing this is entirely a therapeutic endeavour, insha'Allah. I think I need to clear things up in my mind a bit lest I continue my thinking-pacing which will surely annoy one of my family members soon.

So it is that often (certainly not always) in Muslim-run organizations I observe that we only seem to get the "Muslim-run" part and the concept of organization goes out the window. I don't want to complain about it. A for effort for those who start and attempt to run organizations. So fine, it isn't as organized as I'd like, there is currently no tangible curriculum, and there is no back-up plan for the poor substitute who has to leave her lovely lesson plan in the worthy hands of her co-teachers and proceed to teach another class. That's life, get over it. It's not ideal, but I'm okay with it.

So what's the problem? Well, that I hate, or strongly dislike, having a class just to pass the time. If they don't learn anything, if they don't go home having enjoyed the lesson because they engaged with the work, then I feel that I fail in my duty as a teacher. My duty is not to pass two hours of time and hope that perhaps, mayhap, they'll grasp something. I want them to think. I want them to learn. I want them to challenge themselves. And I want them to appreciate the process.

Too idealistic, eh? Fine, I see your point. But the bar has to be set high. Realistically, I know it will take a heck of a lot, from both the teacher and the student, to reach a high standard of education, but over time it can be achieved.

But I currently don't have time. I have one day to prepare something substantial (which is a blessing compared to the one hour I had last week). Unfortunately, I feel I may have not set the appropriate impression as a teacher. I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt and some slack where they don't actually require it and where it doesn't actually benefit them.

I didn't feel good last week. The first half was fine, the second half wasn't. We wasted time, precious time. I felt a lack of connect and control, and a lack of enjoyment toward the material. I felt that it was partly a half-hearted, slip-slop, ineffective day. I worry that it will be repeated. I really want to see life, a bit of umph.

So the game plan? Figure it out. Make it work. You like challenges sometimes, bon appetit. You've been served a challenge. Don't let your insecurities put you down before you give it another try. Don't dog on what did not reach fruition in the past. Work with a clean slate. Erase any preconceived notions. Don't underestimate your good judgment. Utilize your resources. But first, lift the burden of worry off your chest. If your 100% isn't enough, then put it down as the way things are. You cannot do more than that.

You fail only because you want to control, to guide, to give what is not yours to give. If you recognize your role, you'll find your peace. You are but a tool, working in His service. You don't decide who will learn what, where, when, why, or how. You are the delivery person. All you can do is bring it to the doorstep. They will only take the fruits if He allows them. They will only benefit from those fruits if He allows it. So you, o lowly one, are but the ignorant messenger requiring His guidance every step of the way. Never forget your place, and you'll find your way. You surely will, insha'Allah.

Ya Rabb, I seek peace with You. I ask You to make this endeavour successful, for all parties to benefit, for a rejuvenation towards education, deen, and all the other sweetness in life. Ya Rabb, You are the educator, educate us all. Only in Your name can we succeed.

Update: 2007-04-02

Praise and thanks belongs to God alone. It was beautiful! Only He could have allowed such to occur.

Thank you Allah, the One who facilitates all.

Looking for Miracle Grow


If you want to keep a houseplant, you must learn her personality. Sometimes she isn't comfortable in certain environments and will need to be moved to a different location. If she likes it, you will see the improvement. If not, try again until you find the right spot.

Such, it seems, is the case with today's educational situation. An excellent analysis (masha'Allah) of the situation entitled "
Is Education Failing?" lays the cards out on the table very well, but it is becoming a bit more complicated each day.

I cannot add much more to the the above-mentioned article, but it is the final comment which has unveiled yet another crack in our foundational structures. The issue is one of morality. Where do our children learn morality?

At home of course! But what if our children aren't learning what they need to learn at home? What if their fathers aren't in the picture because they are too busy sipping on coffee as they discuss the politics of back home? What if their mothers are just too busy with other things to notice the problems or are simply at a loss for solutions?

In an effort to try to understand this all better, I put the question to my uncle, an excellent teacher of many years having taught in both public and private schools, "How can we teach children morals and values??" His response earnestly led towards trying to get the family back in order, but his words were tinged with despair as he described the resistance of some parents in embracing the role of an educator at home. It seems like a hopeless situation for many.

My optimism was soon renewed as my uncle told me the story of one student who inquired about what he missed in class during his absence only because he knew that when he went home his father would ask him what he had learnt that day. This simple and habitual question will give this young man, in the least, an appreciation for knowledge. Often, the best way to teach is to take small, yet consistent, steps. It is no surprise that this is also one great way to learn.

Our discussion regarding education continued for some time, but I still felt unsettled. Surely there must be way out of this web of deteriorating morality. So I asked him, "Do you think it's good for children to attend public schools or Islamic schools?" His answer was very insightful, as I had not thought of this before. He said that for the first few years Islamic school is good because it instills a strong Islamic identity in children. After that, they should be in public schools so they experience a struggle. Our young need the struggle in order to appreciate and learn to value the depths of our own moral and ethical Islamic teachings. Essentially, when the foundation is solid, the struggle serves only to strengthen the rest of the building.

The day after speaking to my uncle, I had the pleasure of spending the entire day with a good friend. Knowing that she has a healthy background in education, especially early childhood education, I asked her which she thought was more beneficial, Islamic school or public school. Her answer was quite the contrary, clearly reflecting her own experiences. She said that it didn't matter if their early years were in a public school because children aren't very susceptible to peer pressure at that age. However, once they get older, they should be in Islamic schools, especially in their teenage years. Some youngsters simply cannot handle the strong conformity pressures of public schools today.

The one view is that of equipping children with the necessary tools and forcing them to use them in the real world, and the other is that of shielding them until they find themselves.

Like houseplants, it's a case-by-case decision. My hope is that after good years of nurturing them, they will survive in the wild. But alas, the matter is not in my hands. As the brother reminds us, "It's a huge favour from Allah Subhana wa ta'Ala that He has protected us from falling into the many traps of academia, while so many others just get washed away in the current."

Thank you Allah!



*Spring, where are you? Come on spring, let's have some fun!*
- Franklin Turtle

The tulips aren't out yet, but the weather is gorgeous. Praise and thanks to God. The sun is shining, the birds sing their beautiful pre-dawn songs, and there is so much umph in the air. Winter's sweet tranquility is gone, and like magic, spring has arrived!

Such is the story of my life. Allahu Akbar!

I can't quite get over the fact that I've been blessed with so much in so many different ways - to think, to care, to know, to love, to aspire, to hope, to share, to grow, to learn, to embrace the beauty of the world around me.

But I cannot savour this all without reminding myself that in the midst of peace and happiness, I could find myself facing challenges and struggles. So often I remind myself that one day I may get that phone call that takes these perfectly assembled pieces in the pie of contentment, messes them around, and begs the question, "Where is your contentment now?" I secretly prepare and await the challenge. I don't wish for it, but because it is a possibility I attempt to prepare for it. With or without perfectly unified components of life, contentment must always remain my faithful companion. God willing.

While I talk about the splendor of the season, where regrowth, rebirth, and rejuvenation are at their peak, I dig deep and reflect on my personal history. I experience severance of the worst kind, from what was once so sweet. But... I won't walk away. I might not be strong enough (yet) to fight my fight, but I am not going anywhere. God willing!

Labayka Allahumma labayk!

Empty Vessel


Imagine for a moment that before your very eyes is a transparent object. A cavity of some sort with two chambers and an opening covering the expanse of the top. The median between the two seems flimsy at best, yet surprisingly it is able to retain the acqeous substance which fills one half of the cavity. The adjacent chamber is entirely empty.

As you stare at the peculiar item, your curiosity grows. Your eyes search the room and you see a bottle of liquid food colouring. Quite naturally, you put a few drops into the occupied chamber, and soon it is filled with brilliant colour stopping short of the delicate divider.

You then put a few drops into the empty chamber and watch as the substance lifelessly sinks into the chamber's base forming a humble puddle. It is a pitiful sight alongside its exuberant neighbour.

In an act of charity, you pour water into the barren enclosure. Life. The entire cavity is now engulfed with awesome radiance, and much to your surprise the median that once separated the two chambers has now disappeared. The vortex of excellence claimed its life, and it became the very nothingness that previously occupied the once empty vessel.

What's New?


Why is it that we rarely ask about that which is old? That which is tried, tested, and true? Does it become boring?

Have you ever tried something new or bought something new and were so impressed with it that you couldn't believe how good it was, only to find that as time passed you wondered what it was that appealed to you so much in that thing to begin with?

Novelty sure has a way of wearing off. I sometimes wonder if my dwindling fascination over time, when something becomes familiar, is proof that I lacked heart from the beginning. What stumps me though, and I'm hoping someone can help me shed light on this, is the greater purpose that this fleeting novelty serves. Where does it fit in the grand scheme of things? For adults, does it demonstrate a lack of greater understanding? Or is it simply something necessary for our continued healthy existence?

Or maybe it's an indicator of greater beauty. A sign of some sort. If the novelty doesn't wear off and the fascination is able to grow into respect which then grows into love which then grows into sincerity and a dedicated friendship, then maybe it's a sign of something truly worthwhile.

We cannot know light unless we've known darkness. We cannot appreciate continued concerns unless we've experienced fleeting concerns.

Whichever place novelty holds in human existence, I sense it is a distraction from that which remains sweet for those who stick to it, for those who care to savour it. This sweetness, packaged in the wrappings of gold, is that which holds everything together. This sweetness is that which we all live for. Its flavour never dulls. Its light never extinguishes.

Praise and thanks belongs to God, the only constant.

O My Sisters...


This is for my sisters. Not my blood relations, but rather all the women out there.

You see, I detect a lot of male bashing from women sometimes. "He isn't blah." And "He doesn't do blah.." And on and on it goes. Currently, I really don't care where the men folk err directly, unless of course they step out of line and start behaving in a manner that would not befit a gentleman.

But men aside, women have other problems. We generally don't interact well with each other in that it seems to me that we lack sincerity in our meetings (correct me if I'm wrong). Perhaps it is the underlying evolutionary psychology where competition takes precedence over politeness and/or basic manners. I honestly can't say I've figured it out. Ironically, I come from a family and home where women have always outnumbered men. In the midst of this upbringing, one would think I would have the psyche of a "typical woman" (if such exists) figured out.

If you disagree with me that there is a need to address the way women deal with each other, then please consider this for a moment. Have you ever been in a mall and had a strange woman give you cut eye from afar? No? Well, have you ever started a class and had the woman sitting next to you give you attitude? No? Well, have you ever tried initiating a conversation among a group of women who are at least acquaintances if not friends? No? Hmmm... Well, I have.

College was an interesting experience for me. Most of my classes were filled with only women. It was a predominantly "non-ethnic" college where hijab-clad women were rare. By the grace of God, I eventually "befriended" almost every person in my class. This says nothing of me, but I will admit that I made it my business to at least speak to all my classmates. Why? --- Well, why not?

I recently went to a mosque to attend, for the first time, an evening class that is regularly held each week. The sisters were decent, but it did not take long for the group psychology of insecurity to play out with whisperings (more than likely unrelated to the newbie) in their mother tongue followed by giggles. One, it's rude to speak in another language in front of someone who doesn't understand it; and two, it's also a pretty lousy way to welcome someone by not sharing the joke.

But here's the thing. It doesn't affect me personally. In all of the situations that I described above, I've walked away with my secret (and sometimes not-so-secret) smile that tells me there is something better than the games we play with each other, and I leave with the hope that one day she will see it too. My philosophy is this. If one doesn't want to give a stranger the benefit of the doubt and instead finds security in assuming conclusions about another, she's welcome. One is better off without judgmental company. I cannot speak for others, but I would like to take the time to know you, though you're under no obligation to welcome me or reciprocate my hopes. (Unless, of course, you're related, in which case, the rules change.)

But, o my Muslim sisters, why do we compete with each other? Is it the "husband chase" that I sometimes hear of? If you want him, take him. He is all yours. No, that's not it? You just connect better with your "own kind" who speak "your language?" Tafadhali. Do what you need to do. But then don't come back complaining when you see others doing the same to you.

I still want to tell you though, o dear sister, that if you're in pain, seek those you've pushed away. They're not your enemies. They're not your competition. You'll have what's meant for you regardless. Carry yourself with dignity. Be as the Prophet (salla Allahu 'alayhi wa salam) was and open your arms and heart. Only then, dear sister, will we all be able to embrace the sakeenah (tranquility) of sisterhood, insha'Allah.

Let's start this off with a simple smile, insha'Allah!

[Note: I hope it goes without saying that not all women are guilty of the above. I have met some really, really wonderful women who have taught me a lot about heartfelt interactions. So if the above doesn't relate to you, please don't take it to heart, and forgive me. Where you see I err, please correct me. Thanks.]

Update: 2007-03-24

Today the local Imam explained how each person in the ummah is special and needs to contribute his/her talents to the overall functioning of the ummah (especially so because there is lots of work to be done). He made the anology of a car and explained how all the parts of a car are dependent upon each other, though very different. They are all important because they all offer something unique that the other cannot offer.

His practical advice to help us develop love within the community is as follows:
1) Smile -even at people you don't know. [In the very least.]
2) [If you're stronger...] Say "Assalaamu'alaykum" -even at people you don't know.
3) Offer the person something (i.e. put some nice smelling, not-overly-strong 'attar in his/her palm).
4) Invite the person home to eat with you and your family, regardless of how much or little you can offer him/her. Open your home to as many as you can. It is unfortunate that these days we only invite our friends to share meals with us.

May the Almighty help us in our effort to unite the hearts of our Muslim community and fellow humans. Ameen.

A Child's Prayer


*I sometimes lie awake at night and wonder at the stars so bright. I dream about my future too, and the things that I will do. So the world will count on me. I'm the future they agree.*
["A Child's Prayer" from Zain Bhikha's album "Allah Knows"]

I am currently in a superb "mood." I don't like to refer to this state as a "mood" since it seems too short lived. Nonetheless, let me share it with you, if I can.

There is so much rubbish out there in this world. I spend time reading articles detailing the experiences of people who are going through so much hardship. I cannot even pretend to understand their situations. Yet all the while, I don't directly experience it. What personal grief do I, Farzeen, have? Nothing. Nothing! My life is great, praise be to God. Sure, I don't have x-y-z. And sure, I am not x-y-z. And yes, people will hold my lack of x-y-z against me. But so what?

I guess for quite some time I've fronted a nonchalant attitude towards the head-shaking attitude that people have against each other. Towards the standard of living that is set before us. And the standard of beauty. And the standard of "knowledge." It really all goes down the toilet and remains swimming amongst a sea of other grotesque waste products that should serve to humble humans.

I recognize the need to set my own standards, using truth as my guide. No, not because I think I'm better. No, not because I think I'm capable of setting these standards. No, not because I'm special. And no, not because I'm worth any more than a speck of dust. It's because the standards that people set for me are not what I want, and more importantly need, to be.

The child's prayer is my prayer. No child I am, but I hope like a child. We can do it. We really can. I can achieve what I need to be, despite what may not come my way. Even if you don't want to do it with me, o fellow children, I will do it. Why? Because it's not about you. It's not about me. It's about us. It's about our world. It's about our destiny. It's about our eternity, and a return to the truth of love.

Smile. If you won't smile for yourself, smile for the child in you. :)

Optimism at its peak, for Your sake, o my Lord. Guide us to move with swiftness under the cloak of Your mercy, wisdom, guidance, and good pleasure. Ameen.

[Note: The lyrics to the song that I've quoted above are wonderful. If you haven't heard the song (the remix version too), let me know and I'll e-mail it to you, insha'Allah. The message is strong, and you will have to smile. Trust me, if you dare.]

Unrequited Love


It took a couple of clicks before I found myself reading a very sad blog entry. I can't help but take a deep breath at the thought of what this individual may be going through as he tries to pick up the pieces of his broken heart. I can't be absolutely certain, but I would like to think that his Layla is having some heartache over this as well, though Majnoon may not realize it. After all, what can she do? Wouldn't Layla have much preferred to want to accept Majnoon?

But the heart is a fickle thing, and for this very reason it requires security forces to ensure that it doesn't drop its guard until the appropriate time. Having had at least a taste of both Majnoon and Layla's experiences, I can tell you that my sadness has never been in what did not become, but rather that the hope of one was shattered.

Hope, by its nature, is a very positive emotion. When hope is lost, nothing can be achieved. If it was not for hope, no mission would be worth executing, no journey would be worth taking. Challenges would have no appeal, and thus the progress of a people would be stagnant. If it was not for hope, we would become the walking dead. Hope carries us; and when absent, we fall into a bottomless pit of despair and ungratefulness. With hope, we have confidence in God's inexhaustible ability to favour us when He chooses.

So why is it that when I read the concluding words, "..and you hope. You hope." my heart clenched?

When hope goes outside the boundaries set by the security forces of the heart, hope becomes a lethal weapon. Prolonged hopes in people, in naturally ephemeral situations, and in limited things is a toxin that breaks down the barriers securing the heart, leaving the heart dependent on the object(s) of hope. It is a very vulnerable situation to be in, and it necessitates a loss of some part of the individual.

Majnoon's situation was sad because his heart was blinded. His hope for Layla exceeded hope's natural confines, and it damaged him. Majnoon wasn't wrong to love, but he was wrong to give his heart to the one who didn't deserve it. The heart deserves a home where commitments are secured - a natural place for hopes to flourish. Until that is sought, all hearts are potential enemies.

It really isn't much of wonder, given the above, that marriage is so sanctified.

Glory be to God who guides us with His infinite wisdom and sets limits for humanity.

The Faulty Candle


A poet once said, "Knowledge without action is like a wick, it gives light to others yet itself dies out burning."

It was during the first few days of Dhul Hijja that I learnt that Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah had travelled from Saudi Arabia all the way to Toronto, a journey that took him over 30 hours, in order to convey sacred knowledge to the attendees of an Islamic conference. I imagine the journey must have been especially arduous given that he is elderly. But the most astonishing aspect of his decision is that despite the general difficulties of travel, he had every intention to perform Hajj (the greater pilgrimage) which would of course have required him to travel right back to Saudi Arabia within a few days of arriving in Toronto.

Another wonderful speaker at the conference, whose words this year touched my heart and provided me with the fruits which I sought, was Dr. Tariq Ramadan. In one of his lectures, he mentioned that there is a recent sickness in the ummah which takes the form of seeking knowledge for the sake of knowledge itself. We do this to such an extent that we actually worship knowledge instead of using it as the means to improve our relationship with our Creator.

As I reflected on the example of Shaykh Abdullah and the words of Dr. Tariq Ramadan, it immediately hit me how easily I belittle the worth of knowledge, beneficial knowledge at that.

My other guilt lies in books. I love books. In fact, for the last few years my most precious books were in boxes while I was playing the nomad between three homes. Now that I've settled myself again, I've taken out all my books, and just looking at them makes me smile. At least they used to... until now. Now I realize that I've transformed a thing of beauty, books, into a potent poison. The ironic part of this sad story is that for the longest time I have attempted to exercise caution in an effort to prevent myself from taking anything at face value including books, classes, and any chance that I get to learn. The story of Imam Ghazali and the robbers was enough to teach me this, yet I have still stumbled.

This all becomes especially problematic as I am now presented with a slight opportunity to convey some of my passions and thoughts to young and impressionable minds. I can only try to teach them what my mind acknowledges as haqq (truth) but that which my nafs has unfortunately made a mockery of.

I don't deserve anything that I have, not even for a second. But, I have it. It's right here. How can I change you, O stubborn soul? Let's change, please. Let's not go to the grave as a loser.

Ya Rabb, forgive me. Guide me, my family, my loved ones, and the ummah of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. Preserve our beloved teachers, and cause us to benefit from the knowledge that they convey to us. Guide us, cause us to draw nearer to You each day, and save us from leading self-destructive lives. Ameen.

The Barren Oyster


There are moments, brief moments, of clarity when all the residue of life's pettiness just disappears. The tide washes over the shore and nothing remains except clarity. The temptation to inhale the refreshed air is unbeatable. Subdued, you allow it to hit you - crisp, clean, and with just a pinch of sugar for the added sweetness in it all.

And then, there is everything except these moments. Its volcanic ashes are a combination of wasted respect, failed trust, ghoulish envy, and continued drama. The preservation of which amounts to relevant factors in quality control.

But can they be surpassed? Must all situations amount to some twisted combination of these factors, choking the necks of those who dare engage their surroundings? Seemingly, yes. It must occur because it is a great way to teach us appreciation. It inspires gratitude in the one who forgets. And it is in our nature to forget.

Like the pearl hidden amongst a collection of barren oysters, there lies a precious gem, the rarity of true friendship. To have just one makes you among the privileged. To have two makes you among the eternally indebted. To have more than two is currently unimaginable. Such is the difference between a friend and an acquaintance.

So while we play the game of interaction, while we pretend to care, while we pretend to respect, and while we pretend to trust, we can only hope that the tide will come by, washing upon the shore the oyster that sings the song of truth and sincerity.

I want not to hold onto anything else that the ocean may lay on the wet sand before me. I want not to tread on the pebbles of disappointment. If the oyster of companionship never arrives, I'll remain waiting; for my contentment is in the movement of the tides, and my happiness is in the breath of sweet air.

A friend cannot be considered a friend until he is tested in three occasions:
in time of need, behind your back, and after your death.
- Ali bin Abu Talib [may God be pleased with him]



Generally, I like to believe that with some time spent reflecting on certain things, eventually the situation becomes clear. But maybe that's much too simplistic.

I know the problem. I also know the solution. But the second problem becomes filling the shoes that will take the steps necessary to move from the first problem to the solution. Currently, there are no shoes, but only shovels making what was once a timid hole into an annoying crater of nothingness.

Eight hundred steps backwards and the hope of moving a mere inch forward.

I never enjoyed shoe shopping.

Verily in the remembrance of God do hearts find rest. - Quran



It is to know that you don't know.
It is to see that you cannot see.
It is to accept that you are who you are in all your flaws and faults.
It is to desire to improve.
It is to not depend on others.
It is to be content with your circumstances.
It is to submit to the purpose of your existence.
It is to lead a life that is more than just a beautiful story.
It is to know hardship from honourable endeavours.
It is to value your dignity.
It is to leave yourself vulnerable to that which nourishes and not consumes.
It is to be grateful.
It is to be humble.
It is in silence.
It is in embracing different ways.
It is the longest journey that you will ever take.
It is the personal quest for truth in life.
For most, freedom is within.
Contained in the deepest of all secrets.
The best of all secrets.

A Change in Seasons


Enveloped in the surrounding atmosphere lies a sweet story. Spring teases us with her shy whispers of bright sunshine. Winter holds its ground as the promise of snow-filled days mischievously lingers.

Sunshine, the means through which rainbows manifest themselves, is a source of wonderment. It dances across the sky, singing with the birds, cajoling the innocent, and encouraging the weak. But where does the sun take shelter once the rain arrives? What becomes of the sun as rain-filled clouds conceal the vast sky?

The sun remains, though she is hidden. Rain is a source of comfort which graces the earth with moisture and nourishment. The sun, without rain, is burdensome to the earth. So the sun gives rain due respect. She gives it peace as it quenches the thirst of those down below. Yet the rain must know its limits. When transgressed, the earth grieves. The earth is a sensitive one, weeping easily at both the rain's overindulgence and its extended absence.

Sunshine. Rain. What a fine balance they maintain... Working together to provide different sources of sustenance to the soil and vegetation-laden earth. A beautiful balance really.

But when winter arrives, rain vanishes. The earth absorbs extreme cold, and instead snow gently floats upon its surface. Vegetation can no longer survive. The conditions are too severe. What then of the sun? She still tries to shine on. Her strength seems diminished, but without her radiance, there would be no hope of a return to renewed life upon the earth.

We are the earth. Rain is our reflective tears. Sunshine is our gratefulness. Winter is our patience. Ruin is from our own hands. But through the changing seasons, there always remains optimistic hope, our spring.

Whatever is in the heavens and on earth, declares the praises and glory of God: for He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.
To Him belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth: it is He Who gives life and death; and He has Power over all things.
He is the First and the Last, the Evident and the Hidden: and He has full knowledge of all things.
[Qur'an- 57:1-3]

Update: 2007-03-05

I love this poem. It's a powerful poem that I don't doubt that you will enjoy too. I'm posting it here because it relates nicely to the above post. It has few words, but so much strength and quality. Masha'Allah. Enjoy!

In the Absence of the Sun
By: Nauman Abbasi

I love God for all that He's done
That I'll pray on my knees
In the absence of the sun
On little pebbles and rocks
That deliver my legs sharp pains
While each drop hits down on me
Soaking me in the pouring rain
I'll humble myself in front of God
And enjoy every moment I partake
With my clothes drenched to never dry
Yet my faith won't waver or shake
With the elements against me
With desires to fulfill my obligation
In the rain with lightning pain
On my knees down in prostration
All for the sake
Of fulfilling my duty to my Lord
For the One that I love and worship
And for the One that I do adore
My inconvenience is insignificant
For the reward that I aspire for
I'll pray in the rain if I must
So let it pour, let it pour.

[Published in "Strangers" by University of Toronto Muslim Students' Association - St. George Campus - Poetry Society]

Hang Tight to the Rainbow


*I only ask of God. He won't let me be indifferent to the suffering.*

I know that sometimes we all need those moments where smiles seem foreign, awkward, and distant. Sometimes it's exactly those moments of deep recluse that are divine blessings.

But what about those moments when people are in a rut, so to speak. What then? How can one looking onward, knowing that distress exists, respond to it without messing with it? It all takes time. Sometimes people need to be left alone with their confusion so they can sludge through the muddy waters themselves. I guess inevitably all people do this, but some let it consume them. Instead of coming out of it lighter, they carry the mud with them.

What can be done? The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) was distressed at the time immediately following the signing of the Treaty of Hudaybiyah. The Muslims had ventured out of Yathrib. They were unarmed and making their way towards Makkah where they hoped to carry out the lesser pilgrimage, but the Makkans did not receive them into the sacred territory. Instead, the Muslims were forced to stay outside of the inner precincts of Makkah. They were in the area called Hudaybiyah. After some negotiations, the Prophet (peace be upon him) signed an agreement with the Makkans, of which one of the stipulations was peace between the two parties for ten years. The Muslims did not realize the greatness in the treaty as they were greatly disappointed about being unable to carry out the pilgrimage (and they also witnessed a fellow Muslim prisoner in Makkah being forced to return to the Makkans as the new treaty outlined). Nonetheless, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) told the Muslims to rise and slaughter the animals and shave their heads - two rites that normally must be carried out within the sacred territory and at the completion of the pilgrimage. Nobody moved. He repeated his words again, and yet a third time too. Still nobody moved. The Prophet (peace be upon him) returned to his tent distressed.

Now what did the true Prophet of God, peace be upon him, do? There is no doubt at all that his faith was solid, and he was the best of people to serve God. So what did he do? He sought counsel from his wife Umm Salamah who advised him to go out in front of the people and to carry out these two rites. The Prophet (peace be upon him) did this and almost instantaneously the companions hastened to follow his lead. Glory be to God.

There are some times in life when we need to confide in those close to us, those whom we respect and those of wisdom. There are other times when we just need to throw our thoughts out to someone who is non-judgemental and hope that this person can catch the essence of it and throw back something even greater. Sometimes we just need to wade in our own confusion, alone, for a while.

Whichever the case may be, there is always a way out. Peace is a whisper away. A mere whisper. It breaks my heart to see the sadness, but such is life I guess. Ultimately, our success lies with Him.

Just last night, as I was shuffling through my own thoughts, I realized that the matter has been decided. The beginning and end is known to Him, the Most High. Everything in between is just fill in the blanks. The only way the end can change is by a return to Him and to beseech Him through sincere supplication. But that end is still known to Him. Before you move, consult Him, He'll show you the way. Consult your heart and mind, and trust Him. Be real, and you'll find your way. You'll find your peace, and again, you will smile. God willing. Stay strong.

Post Script:

There are more lessons that we can take from the situation at Hudaybiyah. Consider the Prophet's (peace be upon him's) response after being barred entry into the sacred sanctuary of Makkah. In the name of God, he worked towards a solution, without compromising his values. He did not despair. His trust, as always, remained firm in God, the All Powerful.

The Hijabi Whisper


Abu Hurayra said, "Whoever meets his brother should greet him. If a tree or wall comes between them and then he meets him, he should greet him on the other side."

I'm sure you've heard that first impressions are, well, impressionable. They set the pace for the relationship and often are good predictors of whether the relationship will blossom or fail to ever form. I would agree that there is some level of superficiality involved in summing people up in one interaction, but hey, that's the way of this world.

Greetings are important. I'm big on respect, and even if the sweetest person in the world greeted me in a way that I considered derogatory or disrespectful, he/she would have to tread lightly until he/she could demonstrate that no disrespect was intended. The absence of a greeting tends to rub me the wrong way too. I suppose it's because I think it's human-like to extend greetings. Think about it. We never walk into our bathrooms saying "Good morning toothbrush!" or sit at the breakfast table and say "Hello newspaper! You're full of wisdom today aren't you?" or go to the gym and say "Hey treadmill, how are ya?" If we are so inclined to talk to inanimate objects, such as a newspaper, we might just say out loud "full of good stuff today."

My point is pretty simple, it's good manners to greet people. In fact, it is so good that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him, his companions, and his family) recommended this as a regular practice. The act of greeting has the power to soften people, touch them, and it demonstrates some level of respect toward them. Essentially, its effects are parallel to the effects of all other acts of courtesy (adab).

Let's kick this up one notch with the greeting of Muslims, Assalaamu'alaykum - peace be upon you. Now this, my friends, is deep. It is, and I exaggerate not, a heavenly greeting. Glory be to God. We know from the teachings of our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) that the Angel Gibra'eel (Gabriel) greeted him (the Prophet) with at least these words if not the more profound greeting of God's mercy and blessings - Assalaamu'alaykum wa rahmatu Allahi wa barakaatu.

To the best of my knowledge, it is not obligatory for Muslims to greet each other, but it is recommended. However, once a person extends this heavenly greeting to a fellow Muslim, the recepient is obliged to respond, since returning the greeting of a Muslim is his/her right. [On a side note, if one greets a group of people, then a response becomes fard kifaya, meaning that if only one person responds, he/she has fulfilled the duty of all the others.]

During university, I initially found it a bit disappointing when some fellow Muslim sisters would not greet me or even make eye contact so that I would at least have the chance to greet them as we passed each other. After some thought regarding this, I learnt not to take it to heart. I should, however, mention, that there were also a lot of other sisters who extended greetings from afar. It touched my heart, and I began calling it "the hijabi whisper." It impressed me how perfect strangers could smile at each other and wish each other peace. This is the power of the sunnah.

Sometimes I wonder if I should post comments on blogs with the Islamic greeting. I fear sometimes I may never receive a reply.

This reminds me of a story that my good friend shared with me, a story which she heard from Shaykh Ramzy. He spoke about a time when he went to a shaykh to apologize for not approaching him with as much adab as he should have. The shaykh then told him that he has already forgiven him. In fact, he has also forgiven all his children of their duties towards him. SubhanAllah! You ask why? Simply because he does not want any possible failure in fulfillment of those rights to be held against them on the Day of Judgment. SubhanAllah....

So even though it twinges my heart each time my heavenly greeting is ignored, I continue to extend this greeting to others hoping that there will be benefit in it; and I, too, forgive them, for the pleasure of God, if they deny me the pleasure of receiving the same greeting in return.

Peace to you all!

More Information on Islamic greetings.

Winter Icing


These ravaging waters are overwhelming. Good sense I know. The correct way I see. The truth is clear. The nafs is weak. There are ways to conquer this. But when imprisoned by self deception, freedom becomes pressing.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder I hear. Perhaps it is. Snow, though cold and potentially a source of danger, beautifies the mountain tops from afar. I stare at them from many miles a way. Created psychological imagery really, but so profound. So moving. So intense.

Snow, dust yourself upon the weak with your powerful encouragement to be different. To explore the world outside of what is typical, yet teach us to maintain the stance of one who knows truth and moves only with humility before the One deserving of all praise and servitude.

Had We sent down this Qur'an on a mountain, verily, thou wouldst have seen it humble itself and cleave asunder for fear of Allah. Such are the similitudes which We propound to men, that they may reflect.
Qur'an - 59:21

[Picture taken from Flickr album.]

Update: 2007-02-14


I realized last night that I had made a grave error in this post. I said, "The nafs is weak." I guess it depends on who I'm referring to, but generally, the nafs is not weak. In fact, it's very strong. The statement would have read more accurately as "The nafs weakens."

When the nafs is strong, the heart is weak. When the heart is weak, the nafs is strong. When things are too overwhelming and we are absorbed in that which isn't benefitting the soul, generally one can be inclined to believe that the heart is in a weaker state while the nafs is stronger.

The nafs is a great enemy, often leading to evil, unless or until it is tamed and taught submission to the will of One God. Wa Allahu'alim.

May God forgive me where I err, and may He teach me that which is beneficial to my soul and my relationship with Him, ameen.

Reminiscing on Tomorrow


"Farzeen Khala, we're gonna play basketball..." said one of my nephews.

"Oooh, you are! Good!"

Each armed with a ball, the older one took a shot and managed to at least hit the rim. The younger one tried his mightiest to take a shot and succeeded in getting the ball just above his head, at least one metre shy of the rim.

"Dulla thkored!" announced the younger one.

"He scored! Yayyy!!" We all cheered.

My mind soon scanned over all my episodic memories, reminding me of all the good memories. All my memories are good (even the ones of my naivety and stupidity) because they all have taught me so much, for which I am tremendously grateful. My parents, both of whom have always worked very hard, gave me and my siblings what money could never buy - their time, their love, and their wisdom.

The journey that my siblings, cousins, and I have taken has been much more curved and adventuresome. There were the young days when going to bed meant that my sister and I would seek out all nine other people in the home to hug, kiss, and say our usual good night words to. It was on such a routine night venture that I have a fond memory of chasing my cousin around the small house that all eleven of us called home at the time. There were times when we'd fight with each other at one moment and play with each other at the very next moment. A common theme in many childhoods. Our teenage years were more diverse, as we each sought different ways to define ourselves. It wasn't that long ago when my sister would ask that I close my bedroom door so she wouldn't have to hear my collection of nasheeds playing, and I would close my door so that I wouldn't have to hear her heavy metal songs.

Times have changed.


Today is a different day. No more are we the children, but now we are the adults. Struggling. Struggling as I imagine all adults have done and will likely continue to do. Each of us chasing something unique. It's the most difficult to chase the abstract and to get others to understand what this quest is about.

Will we ever be good enough for each other? My weakness tells me no. My strength tells me yes.

Will we ever be good enough for ourselves? My weakness tells me yes. My strength tells me no.


I think about tomorrow. Tears are for achieving strength from yesterday, for conquering anxiety today, but I'm praying for smiles for tomorrow.

My only tomorrow is just one day. One moment. One more breath. My last. That's my tomorrow. I want to meet tomorrow with a smile from my heart.

Ya Rabb! Bring us closer to You. Let our return to You be beautiful, as you have promised the believers. To You we surely belong. In all truth, it is to You we belong. Bless us with a sweet return home, ameen.

Update: 2007-02-11

I was thinking about my statement, "all my memories are good." This is inaccurate. Praise be to God, most of my memories are... but I've failed to shed light on some things and there are some feelings that haven't been pleasant and can never be pleasant. I'd hate to say they're 'bad' moments of life. God has blessed me with so much, I like to consider the less-than-perfect moments as checks that add balance to life. Praise and thanks belongs to God alone.

Issues... They're All Ours


*Allah created beauty, innocence, and peace, and He blessed us with the children to remind us of all of these....*

One of the best sounds in the world is that of a child's laughter. It doesn't really matter if you're upset or feeling glum, hearing their giggles will inevitably make you smile. Alternatively, one of the worst sounds in the world is that of a child crying. Children have many different types of cries, the worst of which is a genuine cry of fear or pain. If you beg to differ, then I suspect your heart may need a little dusting.

So why is it that most 'normal' people have an inclination toward children? Aren't children whiny? Messy? Noisy? Pesky? Sometimes, but still they're gems, the worth of which nothing can compare. Their greatest value is not attributed to their charm, beauty, silliness, and honesty; it is attributed to their brilliant innocence. It doesn't matter how hard we try, we cannot claim as much innocence as young children.

It hurts to see children caught in the middle of adults' petty and selfish problems and arguments. One
blog makes a good point in that children do not see the intricacies of the world. Their world view is pretty black and white - i.e. heroes and villains, love or hate. It is quite unfortunate that there are some parents in the world who don't care to attend to children and their emotional and psychological needs [Of note, there are of course many more really committed parents too].

I'm not talking about the extreme view of doting on children's every whim and desire. If you did that, you'd rid yourself of your good sense and wisdom. What I mean here is that the world is a very confusing, hurtful, and dangerous place with some pockets of love and mercy. Children need to know how to understand it at their level of comprehension. Children need to be taught to develop an optimistic view of humankind, life, and death.

As always, it's much easier to talk about it than it is to achieve it. So how do we do it? The Prophet Muhammad (may God's peace and blessings be upon him and his family) exemplified the best of ways, and he taught us to approach children with love. He taught us how to appreciate children, care for them, and to teach them with a balanced hand. Best of all, he taught us how to develop our character. He showed us, throughout his life, the meaning of perfection in human existence, which of course always means submission to our Lord.

The starting point for myself and all those looking to try to make the world better for ourselves, our biological children, and our children of humanity, is based, as I see it now, in the development of our character and moral principles. Ultimately, we cannot think that we will reach a point where we can say "Yes, now I am ready to share my skills with the world for the sake of improving the world." Death may reach us before that ever happens, if that ever happens. As long as we have one inkling of good character and ethical stewardship, we have to share it with others, starting with those closest to us... our very own children.

*....Allah entrusted to us all a gift to hold so dear, to teach with love, teach how to love, Allah's command is clear.*
-- Dawud W. Ali



O beautiful world, I heard your cry
The blood-soaked Earth has released a sigh
If I could save you single-handedly, I surely would
But my excuses belie, my hands turn to wood

I fail not only you, but wrong myself
Making difficult what is easy, rejecting true wealth
Your tears are most welcome, with my own they blend
Fighting in darkness until the very end

Shine on me and melt this icy enclave
Release the shackles of a self-destructive slave
Together on the dusty path we must consistently tread
Contentment lies before us, push on, it's just ahead...

God willing.



It's a wonderful thing sometimes to experience change. A change in scenery. A change in thinking. A change in understanding. A change in the movements that we make all too carelessly as we fall victim to our habitually thoughtless actions.

Do you ever feel, sometimes, as though life is like walking on a treadmill? You're moving, but you aren't actually going anywhere. It's not the physical so much as the spiritual movement that needs attention. There are advantages to a momentous step backward. It opens a way for humility to sprinkle its dust upon us reminding us about the true reality of our existence. Do you believe that? Isn't it that when humility touches us we are moving forward, submitting to the reality of our existence? Humbling ourselves before the One deserving of all praise, and putting our hearts where often only our tongues lie. Humility is not the goal, not at all. It is but one of many arteries that eventually leads us to the heart of our existence.

On a much deeper note, Dr. Tariq Ramadan writes a beautiful concluding analysis of the hijrah (the migration of the early Muslim community from Makkah to Medina) in his book "In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad" [peace be upon him]. He says,

Physical hijrah, the founding act of the first Muslim community and the axis of its experience, is now over and will not happen again, as Aishah forcefully explained to those in Medina who wanted to relive the experience. Umar ibn al-Khattab was later to decide that this unique event would mark the beginning of the Islamic era, which begins in 622. What remains, and is open to everyone through the ages and for eternity, is the experience of spiritual exile, which brings the individual back to him- or herself and from the illusions of self and of the world. Exile for the sake of God is in essence a series of questions that God asks each individual being: Who are you? What is the meaning of your life? Where are you going? Accepting the risk of such exile, trusting the One, is to answer: Through You, I return to myself and I am free [p. 87].
Transcendent is God!

Words of the Heart and Mind...


I wrote this over three years ago, but I thought that perhaps the essence of it may be of benefit to others, insha'Allah, so I typed it up again to post here. It could do with a lot of editing, but I decided to keep it exactly like the original, minus a few paragraphs. The Internet is no place to call home. Please remember, these are mere thoughts that at one point in life I put onto paper. My words cannot be taken as "Islamically accurate" since I have no evidence to support them.

The sun is shining a little bit differently today, not drastically enough for anyone to notice but enough for the one looking to notice. In my eyes, its shimmer is different. It is special. I think of the past, present, and what the future may hold. I force myself to not lose sight of the fact that my fate and destiny are predestined and the one thing I am guaranteed is a visit to my grave. But on my sojourn heading to my grave, what shall I encounter? I fear that I do not know what I need to know to make this trip a successful one.

Now arises the possibility of having a companion to accompany and assist me, and I him, on this short trip of life only to hopefully reach our destination pleasantly, safely, and with the hopes of enjoying it together. So what makes for a good companion on this specific journey? There are so many opinions about what makes one a true friend and a true partner in life, yet I am of the belief that while the general aspects differ we have to hold strong to some key things to make a wise choice.

So do tell, how does one know what one truly needs? How does one find a true companion? For starters, one cannot dissect a partner for there will undoubtedly be faults. There are faults with the travellers, both of them alike. The point is to make sure that they can travel with little discord and a lot of acceptance, tolerance, and mercy for each other. That's right, mercy.

And He has put love and mercy between your hearts, verily in that are signs for those who reflect. We really must reflect on the mercy that the Almighty has bestowed on us. He it is who will give us the peace we need, whenever we might need it; and if your heart is not attached to this world, you will always need to figure out the world as you live in it. It is interesting to note how most emphasize the part about love there, yet love is secondary to mercy, isn't it? Do you truly love someone if you do not show them mercy? Undoubtedly, our Lord loves us, for His mercies are bountiful. To Him do we submit.

It is He who puts love and mercy in our hearts. It is He who we must thank for that feeling. We should never show Him ingratitude for His gift of a companion [and all His gifts really] for any reason, though the worth of the gift is usually reason enough to be grateful. May He protect me from ever being ungrateful for that truly would be an awful state in which to live.

Back to what we were deciphering... what one truly needs. Logically and obviously, one truly needs a companion and friend who is on a journey to the same place. Secondly, one must consider the "indispensable" resources that this person has to offer in order to make this trip a success, insha'Allah. Meaning, the blessings which the Almighty has bestowed on this person. Mind you, they can always be taken away if not worked at and appreciated. Such things include, but are not limited to, humility, beneficial knowledge, and a kind and sound heart. A true Muslim by heart, submitting to his Lord and obeying Him without compromise. True to himself, true to his Lord.

The rest of the essence, to know for sure if this is a true companion for you, cannot be defined so explicitly and you must consult your Creator and your heart to know. Your heart is a tool through which your Creator may choose to bring His guidance to you.

You must remember that in all things there is also the sneaky, arrogant, and shameless one tempting you, confusing you, and prodding you to that which you cannot comprehend. This individual may distract you from that which is better for you. As said, something to the effect... You may love that which is not good for you, yet dislike that which is good for you. He, the shameful one, may tell you that if one lacks the things in this world that are considered superior i.e. high level of secular education, wealth, status, and the like, then this person is not "worthy" to serve as a true friend and companion. 'AuthubiLlah. Seek refuge with Ar-Rahman.

Do recognize though that the accursed one may not necessarily do things which give you a bad feeling, but he may also try to suppress a "bad" feeling that you have. You must be careful. You must figure out if he is distracting you from something good or if he is calling you to do something that your heart is warning you about. Glory be to the Overpowering Lord, for He makes truth prevail over falsehood. If we are led astray, it is but a crime we commit against our own selves. Be patient. Trust Allah. Trust your heart.

If this ends with a tear, I shall decide now to know that there is good in those tears, for surely there will be multiple tears. For every tear, there is a lesson. For every tear, I shall gain strength. For every tear that I appreciate and reflect on and submit with, I am surely getting closer to my goal - to develop a closeness to Al Aziz, the Mighty, the Creator of all things, seen and unseen.

Thank you Allah!
"Do you think that you will enter the Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They encountered suffering and adversity and were so shaken in spirit that even the Apostle and those of faith who were with him cried: 'When (will come) the help of God?' Ah! Verily the help of God is (always) near!" [2:214]



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"Be mindful of God, and God will protect you. Be mindful of God, and you will find Him in front of you. If you ask, ask of God. If you seek help, seek help of God. Know that if the whole world were to gather together to benefit you with anything, it would benefit you only with something that God had already prescribed for you. And if the whole world were to gather together to harm you, it would harm you only with something that God has already prescribed for you. The pens have been lifted and the ink has dried."
--Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him]