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.
"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]