Dust to Dust...

BismiLlahir Rahmanir Rahim

It's a windy night, windier than normal. The wind chimes continue their rhythm, though they fail to deliver serenity to the night's condition. As I catch myself hoping that the wind would calm down, I think about how all my sisters and brothers feel at this same moment as ammunition of all sorts rain over their homes in Gaza and elsewhere. I'm grateful for the comfort and security that surround me, and pray for the relief of those who face brutality at the hands of those who take the human condition to its lowest.

It's not the deceased in Gaza who my heart especially hurts for because they will find their peace with their Lord, God willing. My heartache is for the people who remain on this earth and continue to face seemingly endless terror, injustice, and oppression. My heart hurts for them. May God protect them and give them peace and security, ameen.

As for those of us who live in relative security, it's our deceased who claim a part of my heart. Yes, there are struggles for those of us living here too, but our lives come down to our last moment before death claims us, and none of us know what will meet us at our deaths. The options are limited, and it is only by our Lord's mercy and grace that we will return to Him in a peaceful state (insha'Allah wa ameen).

I remember that as a child my family and I used to regularly drive past a cemetery. Each time we passed by, the radio would be switched off and our chatter would cease until we had finished reading a prayer for the deceased. We no longer take that route, but we often still pass by another cemetery where we attempt to continue this simple practice.

It was this afternoon, in fact, when we last passed by that cemetery, and it reminded me of my death more so than this howling wind does now. I wondered about how the souls of those who were once contained in bodies now fare, and once I leave my body and join them, what will become of me.

As various thoughts continue to tumble around in my mind, I remind myself that my life is in vain if I continue to lead it without clear direction. It's too tempting and easy to value the things which are ineffectual in our final moment of life. But like many others, I must struggle with myself to find some direction and to walk upon the path that I know I cannot do without.

I'm not really sure how much of what I wish for can be achieved, but I pray that if there is khayr in it, Allah, by His infinite generosity and grace, will open a way, just as He will open a way for those who face hardships now. Regardless of my desires though, death is a guaranteed companion for me and us all, and it is the only one who cannot be neglected.

It does not require much of an effort to realize that it is upon us to exercise any means within our reach to assist those who are suffering worldwide. And this, I believe, is part and parcel of the things to which we cannot become lax and indifferent before our own deaths.

O Lord, have mercy on our deceased and ease the suffering and hardships of the innocent people. Ya Rab, guide us to lead productive and fruitful lives as we strive to serve You in the best of ways. Protect us from those things which keep us away from You and Your way, and let us return to You in the best of states, ameen.

Business Sense, plus some

BismiLlahir Rahmanir Rahim

"You should write a book," my sister said to me today.
I decided to humour her. "What could I write about?"
"Anything," she responded.
"Anything? Who would want to read what I have to write about?" I asked.
"Lots of people read garbage," she said matter-of-factly.

I cracked up.
One point for her.

That's a daily dose of humour for ya.


Moving onto other things, Reviving the Islamic Spirit - an annual Islamic conference held in Toronto, is just around the corner, God willing. I missed last year's conference which was particularly special for both my sisters. It was then, by the grace of God alone, that they were able to launch Muslim Child - a web-based business appropriately directed to Muslim children.

I heard of this idea at its outset which was only six months before the business went live. At the time, I was living in Sana'a and had barely adjusted to the changes that were happening at home with my family, missing them with every ounce of my being, yet content to be where I was. As I said at the time, Yemen will always claim a special place in my heart, and this remains true.

Like many others, my parents have taught me a lot about using money appropriately. Their direction has been both explicitly and implicitly expressed and often emphasized the concepts of generosity and fairness. Time and time again, I've seen them go out of their way to spend their hard-earned dollars at small businesses with the intention to support them.

I continue to benefit from my father's words to me when we spoke on the phone a few days after I arrived in Sana'a, (roughly) "Farzeen, make sure you pay for all the food and not just yours. It doesn't matter how much it costs. Buy food and drinks for everyone. There's baraka in it, so pay for it all." SubhanAllah. These words were a light for me, and true to what my parents have often tried to teach me. May Allah reward them both and grant them and their loved ones peace and khayr in this world and the next, ameen.

Since my return home almost eight months ago, I've attended a few conferences with my sisters and "worked" at another stall - Salsabil Boutique - specializing in Muslim women's clothing - by their side. From a combination of these experiences, cruising Sana'a marketplaces, and other insights, there are a few things that I've gathered about business.

First, a business starts with a sincere intention, a clear vision, and continues with a lot of hard work. Secondly, it requires a good attitude along with a rigorous preservation and practice of high moral and ethical principles. And finally, as with everything, it has to be sealed with one's complete dependence on Allah, for success and our sustenance are both from Him alone, and we need not depend on anyone else for these matters. Within these three points are a multitude of others, but I consider these the "pillars of good business."

As I assisted at Salsabil Boutique, one aspect of customers troubled me, and that was their desire to negotiate prices. I suppose that's the custom in the eastern world, so people figure that it works here too, and perhaps sometimes it does. What troubled me the most was that despite knowing that they were buying an item at the seller's cost price, some people asked for a further discount. I hope, for their sake, that it was only their need that caused them to ask and in it they had a shyness.

I don't know people circumstances, but they also need to be cognizant of business owners' circumstances. To illustrate, at three events during the summer, almost all the businesses who opened stalls made a financial loss. The turnout of the events were minimal and their sales were even less thus failing to cover the cost of the retailer's space. Insha'Allah khayr. Such was written.

I must say though, it really pleases me to see the variety and number of entrepreneurs at these events. It says a lot to me about the community. Insha'Allah, a strict adherence to the Islamic teachings in commerce will only increase these business people in their pursuits. May Allah give them success, ease, and grant them baraka in their dealings, ameen.

As retailers prepare themselves to gather together once again at Reviving the Islamic Spirit, I hope that there there is a mutual concern between retailers and consumers to be fair and consistent in prices and interactions. SubhanAllah. There is so much to be gained by good adab with each other, I don't doubt that within such actions there resides a great deal of baraka as well. Interestingly, my best memories of shopping in Sana'a were encapsulated by good adab, but those are stories for another day, insha'Allah.

Regardless of the happenings in the conference's bazaar, I'm hoping for a morsel of food for my heart. Should that be given to me, and I fit to receive it, it will be a time worthwhile, God willing.

[P.S. - Forgive my poor use of English and even weaker composition, and please pray for me and my family.]


A taste of last year's fun with Muslim Child....

[And if you find the brief clip cute, please say "mashaAllah," for such a sweetness in children is from God alone and it is as He wills.]

Allahu yaftahu...

BismiLlahir Rahmanir Rahim

All praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of the Heavens and Earth and all that exists.

I have recently been thinking a lot about Shaykh Abdallah Al Haddad of Fes (may Allah preserve and elevate him, ameen ya Rabil 'Alameen). Some blogs (i.e. Salikah: A Student's Digest) have mentioned his recent visit to Toronto. He has since left Toronto and is now among this year's hujjaj having completed Hajj (may Allah accept the Hajj of all the pilgrims, ameen).

AlhamduliLlah, I was one amongst many more who were privileged to attend the lessons given by him here. There is much that can be said about the knowledge and wisdom that he shared with us, the strongest of which were often summed up in a few simple words or sentences.

I remember once when I was at the zaawiya (Risalah Foundation) about half an hour before class started and he came in. On his way to the office, he greeted me and in his usual compassionate and kind way, he asked how I was doing...

"Kayfa haaluki ya ibnati?"

"AlhamduliLlah, ana bekhair." Praise be to God, I'm well.

"Wa kayfa zawjuk?" And how is your husband?

"Zawju mun?" Who's husband? I asked, thinking that perhaps I didn't understand the question properly. "Lastu mutazawwija," I'm not married, I said with a smile.

"Lasti mutazawwija?" You're not married? He said in surprise explaining that he thought I was. He made du'a that Allah blesses me with a spouse, a righteous spouse.

"Insha'Allah wa ameen" I said and laughed lightly.

He responded very strongly, "Allahu yaftahu, Allahu yaftahu" roughly, God will open a way, God will open a way.

"Sah" Right, I responded with a nod.


Allahu yaftahu.. Allahu yaftahu. There was no doubt, no perhaps, no maybe in his words. He said it with complete certainty, as is fitting, that God will open a way.

In matters of this world, I submit to Allah's plan for me, marriage included. But in matters of the Hereafter.... the burden is on the soul. And while we will only enter Jannah by His mercy, our life on this Earth impacts our state when we will stand before our Lord.

A few nights ago I was thinking about how our body is really just a shell. One day it will be discarded as it rots into the earth's flesh, becoming one with it while our souls will move on to another realm of existence.

The world, as I live in it today, is one that speaks only to this shell. Beautifying the shell is a culture, a tradition, an incumbent. Yet, we forget that the things that we take for granted: food, shelter, and basic security, are privileges and not our human rights. If they were our rights as humans, then humans wouldn't be denied them. A minority of the world's population savours these privileges, treating them as rights while neglecting the facilitation of these necessities for the rest of the world.

There is work to be done. Not only for the benefit of the world's condition but also for the benefit of our eternal condition. And here we are, with 1001 gadgets to beautify a shell that is naturally beautiful but dying at the hands of our neglect of more pressing matters. It's an ironic circle that needs to be re-routed.

But I can't change the world. I only have one mirror, and it only reflects me. I cannot expect a single person in this world (let alone the entire world) to change before I become a person who carries even a minor amount of true beauty, and yet I know that I'm far from where I need to be, worlds away. Allahu yaftahu... Allahu yaftahu...

I must continuously ask myself how I will stand in front of my Lord as I continuously fall into the trappings of my weak heart and strong nafs. Kayfa aqumu amama Rabbi? Kayfa aqumu amamahu?

Ya Allah, help us!

Alive in Our Hearts

BismiLlahir Rahmanir Raheem

We are just upon the blessed month of Dhul Hijja. Many of the worlds' hujjaj (Hajj pilgrims) have already started their journeys to Makkah while others are completing their final preparations. For some, these preparations, which are far from only physical, started years ago, and they can now only hope to return to their homes and families spiritually rejuvenated and focused on the preparations of this life's journey - the ultimate journey - which we hope will end with a sweet meeting as we return to our Lord.

I am not and have not been one of the hujjaj, not yet at least (may God invite me and facilitate the way for me to be among them, ameen). However, I now walk on a new path. By God's mercy, generosity, and grace, He has sent me the means by which a refocus in my life can be made easier. In some awe-inspiring way, I feel complete with this gift of His, but as with all that this world contains, I must go beyond the superficial and ensure that I use this blessing to benefit my purpose of living. Perhaps if I do, I will find it a profitable transaction. In the mean time, I will savour this feeling of revival, and continue to strive and pray for perseverance in it.

While the hujjaj make their way to Makkah to perform the blessed Hajj pilgrimage, we too must walk with them, remembering the importance and reflecting on the benefits that the rites of Hajj offer.

May God take the hujjaj safely, bring them home safely, and accept their hajj and supplications. May He increase us in knowledge and allow us to profit even from those things which we are still unable to fully understand. May He open ours hearts and give us direction in our lives. May He help us as we struggle against our nafs. May He unite us all for His sake, and may He allow us to understand love, ameen.

A Moment of Clarity - Part II

BismiLlahir Rahmanir Raheem

Reminiscing... continued

The stones pressed sharply into my feet. The children and I took joy in the cooler currents of water as they soothed our aching feet. There was usually no space alongside the river to walk and when there was it was covered with rocks too, equally painful if not more. My phone was out of a service area, and I realized that we were no closer to our destination than the moment we stepped out of the truck. We stopped to ask the few women who stood at random and sparse points along the riverbanks if they knew of the family name of this family’s friends. Nobody knew. One lady asked if we were lost and if we wanted a ride back into town. We told her that we would walk a little further downstream. We hoped that perhaps our group had taken another route and would meet us at the other end of the river with the truck, but we told her that we would return to her if need be. Hope is a strong thing, and it was only that which kept us walking further away from where we last saw our group.

I began making mental notes on how much time remained before sunset as I tried to decide how much longer I would allow us to walk before I sought a suitable place for us to spend the night. I had two children, aged 10 and 12, with me and I wasn’t about to jeopardize their safety when I could take precautions that could ease the difficulty of the situation. Sama’ expressed her fears about our circumstances, and I told her not to worry. Allah would take care of us, and of that I had no doubt.

The ache in my feet was becoming unbearable, and my psychological encouragements failed to help me walk without grueling pain. I asked the children if they were alright. They seemed to be doing better than I was, perhaps they were less accustomed to covered feet. We continued walking.

At last, I could walk no more. I sat on the rocks, the water and dirt of the river soaked into my ‘abaya and pants. I can’t walk anymore, my feet hurt too much, I told them. They sat next to me and just then the phone rang. It was the children’s father so I passed the phone to Sama.’ Her conversation was brief. She told us that her father was mad and told us to return. Return? Is he out of his mind? I thought. He has a vehicle. What has he been doing all this time? And why is he mad? We’re the ones who have been walking for two hours because he told us to. Surely he wouldn’t tell us to walk if there was nothing to walk to. I was unimpressed and wondered how I would take another step let alone walk back another two hours. Allah would open a way for me, and I depended on Him. On the bright side, at least they awaited our return and our walking would now have a known destination. I rose again and walked one slow step at a time, flinching in pain.

If there was only something we could use to cover our feet, I thought. I looked at the area around me, but there was nothing suitable. By the grace of God, I realized then that we could use our very own clothes. Nothing too dramatic, but maybe just pull our pants slightly lower so they would cover the bottom of our feet. It worked well enough for me to at least walk, but Sama’ couldn’t claim any success with this strategy. Ibrahim tugged at dried up clothing that fused itself into a log at the edge of the river. He managed to get only a scrap, but that did not suffice, and he soon abandoned the idea. Sama’ found a slipper in the water which she wore, sharing it with Ibrahim and offering it to me. I refused her kindness. I felt for them, and kept my eyes open for more lost slippers in the river. We found a few more, but none seemed to last very long.

Two hours later, we found the rest of the group. They were settled at a spot about a 30 to 40 minute walk further down the river from where we started walking indicating that we surprisingly covered more ground in the two hours of our return. The truck, no longer trapped in the riverbed, was parked in a cleared space alongside the river while everyone ascended the slopes of mud that guarded the river as it formed a valley for the river to flow through. It was from there that they entered into the garden of their friends. When we arrived, they were all seated on light blankets resting in the shade of trees with a hearty lunch spread out around them. Since I didn’t have an appetite for food or their company, I made wudhu in the river and stood in pain to perform the ‘Asr prayer.

One reality of my existence stood clearly before me at that moment. Though the troubles of my heart only seemed amplified, I was grateful. Tears rolled down my cheeks easily, and all I could do or wanted to do was submit to my Lord as I bowed and prostrated in prayer. I know my Lord takes care of me, and never could I doubt Him.

I left the group and decided to make the most of a what seemed to have been a pretty trying day. I found a nice rock to sit on at the edge of the river. My feet took pleasure in the soothing currents while my heart and mind listened intently to the steady rhythm of the flowing water. Singing to myself, I tried desperately to take in the beauty and splendor of God’s creations that surrounded me, all the while acknowledging that my debt of gratitude is to Him alone.

A Moment of Clarity - Part I

BismiLlahir Rahmanir Raheem


After an emotionally challenging Ramadhan and Eid, I wanted nothing more than to get deeply into my studies again. It was in my books where I found my pleasure and peace, and it was that which motivated me to persevere despite the increasing weight that slowly built in my heart. Unfortunately, the post-Ramadhan vacation wasn’t quite over yet, and I had to wait a few more days until my lessons could resume. It was the 2nd of Shawwal 1428, and I was told by my host family that we would be visiting one of their friends and having lunch with them. I wasn’t in the mood of visiting people, but nonetheless prepared myself to make the most of the outing. While I regret having left my camera behind, the events of the day I shall never forget, by the permission of God.

We first stopped in the outskirts of Ta’iz where we went to look at a massive tree - shajaratun gharibah - over 2 000 years old, that is said to have been visited by the sahabas of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon them all). It was intriguing, and I longed to know its story though there was nobody to tell it to me.

From there, we continued to an area with lush trees and greenery. We soon found ourselves driving through a river. To entertain the children, their father drove quickly through sections of the river. The children laughed and shared gleeful cries as the water splashed onto them passing through the opened windows. I, on the other hand, was busily enchanted by the trees that gracefully hovered over the river. It was breathtaking beauty. I looked at the river ahead of us wondering why we had to travel through the river to reach our destination. It seemed a cruel way to treat such an elegant portion of God’s masterful design. I thought that perhaps the river would taper into a trickle, but it only seemed to maintain its strength.

It wasn’t much later when the truck’s wheels were trapped in the mud beneath the gushing river. The men took off their shoes, rolled up their pants, and stepped into the water. The boys followed while the local women, who were moments before washing clothes on the adjacent rocks bordering the river, looked up to watch. The men and boys scooped out as much mud from around the rear tires as they could, and in union they all attempted to the push the truck out of the mud. Their efforts were in vain. I and the other womenfolk soon stepped out of the vehicle as well. After several more attempts, one women’s husband pointed at the river ahead of us and told us to walk. I wasn’t sure to where we would walk, but I removed my shoes and socks, grabbed my phone from the truck, lifted my ‘abaya slightly above the refreshing currents, and started walking.

The river was mesmerizing. Its steady rhythm sang deeply to me, but I could not understand its words. It was only much later, after spending the day in its midst, that I learned the meaning of some of the messages it tried to convey.

I wasn’t sure how far we would need to walk, but I found my feet too sensitive for the task at hand, and no more than a few minutes of walking on the river’s slippery and calloused rocks caused my feet to hurt. Mind over matter I told myself as I walked faster, steadying myself where necessary and keeping the pace of the children, Ibrahim and Sama’, while leaving the two other ladies behind. After some time, I said to the young girl, “Where are we walking to?” She didn’t know. I was disappointed because I didn’t know either and knew that in my haste to get to our destination quickly I should have stopped to at least ask where we were going. I turned around, and the women were no longer in sight. Perhaps they were still making their way around the river bend that we only just passed. I called out to Ibrahim telling him not to wander too far ahead without us. My feet were sore, and I was eager to get to the destination sooner than later. Perhaps the river will taper soon and lead to an open area with homes I thought.

We had walked for about an hour, our chit chatting slowly dwindling into silence, when finally the three of us rested under the trees for some time hoping that the womenfolk would catch up with us soon and lead the way to our destination. Or better yet, that the truck would soon be in sight in hot pursuit of us. Nobody came, and we continued walking.

...to be continued, insha'Allah.

A Prayer

BismiLlahir Rahmanir Rahim

A du'a with Dr. Tariq Ramadan - may the Almighty preserve him, bless him and his family and loved ones, and keep them strong in His way, ameen. Simply beautiful... masha'Allah...

...Al Fatiha...

The Taste of a Rain Drop

BismiLlahir Rahmanir Raheem

"Can you hear the rhythm of Allah’s creation?
The rhythm of the clapping of the thunder and the rain.
Can you see the rhythm of Allah’s creation?
The lightning and the leaves, and the seasons as they change."

It poured, and poured, and poured some more. I listened intently as the rain thundered onto the already rain-soaked ground.

O beautiful rain, as you are to the earth, my tears are to my heart. In those days now long gone past, your rhythm and mine fell in sync. I kept up with your lavish downpours, and some days perhaps I even surpassed your excellence. I watched you while your efforts caressed the seeds down below leading them forward in their purpose, and while you filled ravines with a heavenly drink for the passersby and for pasturing animals, and while you adorned the earth with purified gracefulness. And I admired you. For those beautiful moments, your rhythm was precisely mine.

I look back to you now and how I miss you so. How I wish we could dance together again upon those gracious clouds. How I wish I could share in the intensity of your expressions. How I wish I could share your visions of clarity.

Our shared expressions were not in vain, and now I desperately look back to those lessons that you so earnestly tried to teach me. It may take years before I realize the depths of your reality, but now I lay my hand open waiting for that one sweet droplet to fall into my palm.

Let me taste the sweetness of understanding. Let me taste the sweetness of my reality. Let me taste the sweetness of surrender. And to God we submit.

"The rhythm of our world beats in surrender to Allah.
Our blood and our breathing testify.
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]

All True

BismiLlahir Rahmanir Raheem

Tap tap, who's knockin'?
The devil aint followin' ...
...me, it's mah own soul
Itself a source of rage,
asking for comfort
But I'm still searching.
Where's the key to the cage?

The devil aint the problem
I need to make a start
One foot forward to make aright what's in this heart..
..of mine, oh, happiness is not its mark
Never seen a light, still in pitch dark...

Been searching for a while
But only my tongue has changed
Learned to fight
Hoping for mah tears on the first
of these blessed nights

Happiness is not in you,
or you,
or you
Complete as one,
False hopes in the tale of two
Expectations lead to disappointments
The soul, she's one
family-less, friend-less, all alone
Depending on the One
to find its way home

Sweet words, worse than sugar
eroding a heart
God I need to make this start
O God, heal my heart
Invite me to You
and open the door
I've seen my illusions and now I'm searching...
...but failing to fight what keeps me distant...
from You

Invite me to You
and let this soul soar
each time you privilege this forehead of mine
to touch the floor...
... in service of You.
Life's One and Only...
...all true...
All True.

O God, I turn to You. Lost is all my hope in everything except You. You are the source. Help me be true. Invite me to You. I only want You. O God, only You can ease this heart. Only You know what lies beneath my masks. Only You know me. Only You can save me.

I pray that this Ramadhan be one where some veils may be lifted,
and the truth of our existence may manifest before our hearts and souls,
and our minds and bodies respond to it in a way that is befitting of such realizations.

Insha'Allah wa ameen.

Ramadhan Mubarak!


Imam Al Ghazali: The Alchemist of Happiness

Part 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8
But I'd suggest you purchase your own copy.


BismiLlahir Rahmanir Raheem

A few years ago, I wondered to myself about some of the secrets that lie in the Quran, especially the greatness contained in the chapters and verses that are recommended for daily supplications/invocations/recitations. I figured it was probably best that I take some time to think about the meanings of some verses, and I began (without much more progress) with suratul Falaq, the second-last chapter of the Holy Quran.

The Daybreak, Dawn
1. Say: I seek refuge with the Lord of the Dawn
2. From the mischief of created things;
3. From the mischief of Darkness as it overspreads;
4. From the mischief of those who practise secret arts;
5. And from the mischief of the envious one as he practises envy.
It was the last verse that especially caught my attention, and I wondered what envy contains so that God, in His glorious knowledge and wisdom, would send these words for the benefit of humankind. What dangers are contained in hasad, envy, to which we are oblivious? I wasn't sure, but kept these thoughts at the back of my mind hoping that at some point I would have some insight into its importance.

A few months later, my father was sharing stories of his father's days and said that my grandfather (Allahu yarhamuhu) once told him that the biggest problem in the community was hasad or envy. SubhanAllah, perhaps that's one reason why we seek God's protection from it, I thought. I couldn't yet appreciate the depths of the Quranic words, and again tucked these thoughts away for further reflection.

In recent months, I was blessed with the chance to attend a few classes in a series of classes given by Shaykh Yahya Rhodus (may Allah preserve him) about the ahlil bayt, the family of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. He spoke about the hierarchy of creation (refer to the book "The Man and the Universe" by Dr. Mostafa Badawi for an excellent explanation of this among many other insightful and necessary explanations), and went on to explain that there are two fundamental aspects of a human:

1) 'Ubudiyyah in which case humans are passive in relation to Allah
2) Khilafa in which case humans are active in relation to Allah, people, and the cosmos.

Thus, humans are both active and passive, but success ultimately lies in submitting to Allah. Anyone who submits will be successful for the doors of Heaven are open to all, but we have to maximize our potential. And Allah gives us all different potentials.

He continued by speaking about the fadhal (bounty, grace) of Allah and mentioned that Allah will give His bounty to whom He pleases, and that the middle way in dealing with Allah's bounty is (roughly) "Do not desire what Allah has favoured to some and not others."

This of course leads into the topic of hasad, envy. And it was then that I understood, to some extent, the words in suratul Falaq. He explained that hasad is bad (excuse my lack of a better word) because we impose our will on the will of Allah who has given of His grace as He wills. We need to avoid hasad, and give shukr (thanks, gratitude) to Allah for His fadhal.

How often do we think "I wish I had that like so-and-so" or "if only I were blessed with such-and-such like so-and-so, then I'd be able to achieve xyz" or "so-and-so is so blessed with/because of such-and-such, it'd be nice if I could have it too" or many other varieties of things that we desire for ourselves that are simply inaccessible though it may seem like 'everyone else' is privileged to possess them. It's not greener on the other side, and while some people may have some things they are bereft of some other things that others are blessed with.

My mother was recently telling me stories about people who utilize black magic to harm others as a result of seeds of envy. SubhanAllah, I could barely believe it, but it's true. And the scary thing about it all is that we can harm people, even unintentionally, by our envious ways. May Allah protect us from this, ameen!

Envy is a vile disease of the heart that most of us are guilty of harbouring to some extent. It only seems natural now to speak of ways of dealing with it. Imam Mawlud writes about it in the book "Purification of the Heart" which has been published with a translation and commentary by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf. Refer to this website for some excerpts about envy from the above-mentioned book.

Envy is really a battle to overcome, but like all diseases of the heart, we have to first try to identity them in our hearts and then work toward curing them, bi ithniLlah! May Allah help us all, ameen.

Please correct me where I err... may Allah forgive me, ameen.

‘Abd Allah Ibn Mas’ud said the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

"Let there be no envy, except in two things:
1. A man whom Allah gave a wealth and guided him to spend it in righteous way.
2. Or a man to whom Allah gave wisdom and he acts wisely and teaches it to others."
(Al-Bukhari and Muslim; See An-Nawawi, Riyad As-Salihin)

Acknowledging XY

BismiLlahir Rahmanir Raheem

So what is it in the Y chromosome carriers that make them perfect targets to pick on once in a while? Perhaps a lot of them simply pour out reasons worthy of criticism. Honestly though, I don't think there are necessarily more aggravating males than there are females in the world, but the actions of men, majority of whom posses more influential power than double-X carriers, carry a greater impact (thus responsibility) than many women. (And of course I'm being very general here and acknowledge that inevitably exceptions exist -- it's all about the bell curve folks!).

As oh-so-tempting as it is to verbally annihilate some menfolk, I think it would be a waste of precious thought and time. Instead, I think it would be far more productive to speak of some men who shine. They are seemingly the most ordinary of men, but they are gems who I've been blessed to have in my life, if even for what seemed like just a moment. A cherished moment that gave me insight into rare beauties that as a society we fail to acknowledge.

Here goes...

I arrived in Sana'a with my travel companion and her twin sons at about 10 pm. We passed through customs without any problems, except that the officers wanted me to open my hand luggage. They asked what was inside, to which I responded "books." One officer only glanced quickly inside (thus no harm met my stash of M&Ms *phew*), asked where I was from, and with a smile said "welcome."

We were met by a brother (from Canada -- I'll call him "Ahmed") who I corresponded with for some time prior to my trip as he advised me on schools and suggestions on what to pack. His correspondence was very helpful, never mind all that he and his family did for me afterwards. He and his friend came to the airport, they loaded all our luggage into the van, and they took us to a hotel. The brother then spent some time showing us the area around the hotel, places where we could get breakfast, offered some advice on living in Yemen, and handed me more than enough Yemeni riyals for breakfast, since we had no riyals on us at the time. We soon met his wife and daughter, and we had dinner with them. It was the beginning of a sweet friendship. His wife is a gem, masha'Allah! I felt quite at home with them all so much so that my final days in Yemen were spent with them, alhamduliLlah.

We spent two weeks living in the hotel, much to the despair of my travel companion. In that time, I had the task of finding a suitable school for myself and an apartment. AlhamduliAllah, with more advice and assistance from this brother and his wife, I finally decided on a school. The hunt for an apartment was more challenging, but for that too Allah sent two brothers my way. One was a connection of a sister I knew online. May Allah reward him and his brother for their sincere efforts, ameen. The other brother was a complete stranger whom my sister had contacted online. He learnt that I was in Sana'a, and he offered his complete assistance. He told me on several occasions that it was his obligation to help me, though the truth of the matter was that he had no obligations towards me whatsoever. It was through his efforts that I found an apartment that was in an ideal location for me and that came with a landlord and his family (who lived upstairs) that took good care of me. I eventually met this brother's wife, mother, father, daughter, five sisters, and many nieces and nephews. I can't describe my first meeting with them except that the difference of languages was not a barrier for us. They all easily claimed a special place in my heart, and I continue to think of them with much fondness. AlhamduliAllah, I was also able to spend a few days with them before leaving Sana'a and Yemen altogether.

Both of these brothers and their families were there for me like my family. In fact, they both came to the airport to pick me up when I returned to Sana'a, and they, along with one brother's wife, took me to the airport when I left Yemen. It was a complete blessing for me to have kept their company, the company of their families, and to wave a final goodbye to them as I had my boarding pass in hand ready to come home to my family. SubhanAllah... There are no words in this heart of mine that can thank them adequately. May they find their rewards with the Almighty, ameen. It goes without saying, I cannot thank Allah sufficiently for the many blessings He bestowed and continues to bestow on me. All praise belongs to Him, the One whose generosity is unmatched, whose mercy is ever-abundant.

There are a few more noteworthy brothers that Allah sent my way, if even for a brief moment, but I'll not share all their stories except for one. One brother, Muhammad, is a friend of one of the above-mentioned brothers. He and his family live in the poorer parts of Old Sana'a. Life is difficult for them as they deal with poverty. His month's salary runs dry two weeks into each month, and every month they are without food. SubhanAllah. I'm so grateful to have met these people because they have hearts of gold. Muhammad's wife was the first Yemeni sister who I was able to sit with as she chit-chatted with Ahmed's wife. She made a point of speaking in fus-ha Arabic for the benefit of us foreigners, and I remember how excited I was when I was first able to understand some of what she was saying.

When it came time to leave Yemen, I had some problems with my passport which her husband was going to try to resolve for me by taking it to one of the government offices. A few days before he planned on doing that, he took his family (for the first time) to an amusement park in Sana'a (since his son really wanted to go). Sadly though, there was an accident with the roller coaster that they were on and his shoulder was badly injured. I went with Ahmed and his wife to visit the brother in the hospital, and while there his wife told me that as he was being rushed to the hospital he worried about my passport and told her what needed to be done. When I saw him at the hospital, he apologized that he couldn't take care of things for me, though his relative would, and that if he was okay in a few days he'd like to take me to the airport. I told him not to worry, and that I'm going to tell him the same thing I'd tell my father if my father was in his situation, that is that he should rest and take care (and if you're wondering, I said it in very broken Arabic, but they're forgiving people). He smiled.

So while we continue to moan and complain about life, men, and everything in between, there are people who are far better than us because they want to be, though their conditions are far more challenging than ours for reasons that they cannot control.

Perhaps one day, insha'Allah, I'll be able to write about my father and brother(s) who mean more to me than words could describe. Perhaps for this reason, if no other, I shouldn't challenge their sanity as much as I do...

May Allah make the menfolk of our ummah among the righteous, may He bless them with ease, and bless them with generous and kind hearts. May He give them the patience and strength they need to successfully overcome the increasing number of challenges that they face today. May He facilitate their efforts for His sake, and make them shining lights in our ummah, ameen ya Rabil 'Alameen!

Half of Knowledge...

BismiLlahir Rahmanir Raheem

Western society, as a whole, seems to belittle and even mock one of the greatest institutions of human existence - the family. We really don't seem to have a holistic concept of its value and thus we neglect its preservation in pursuit of societal ideals. Ironically though, the West values education even though the educational system itself is in serious disarray. I am a product of the dumb-downed educational system. Perhaps if I had remained in the corrupt country from which I emigrated, I may very well have had a chance to develop sharper thinking processes that I could utilize now in adulthood, wa Allahu 'alim. But such is the past, what of the future?

Why is the family so important? I'll leave you to explore this question by yourselves. Instead, I'd like to bring attention to an area that draws parallels to this question, and it too is equally neglected leaving us, the Muslim community, in confusion. I'm referring to our essential Islamic education.

SubhanAllah... I'm not sure where to begin. I often wish I had a road map so I would know what it is that I need to know to be able to live in this world as one who utilizes her existence to the fullest. I'm eternally grateful for all that my parents have taught me. I often try not to take their lessons for granted. I can recall many occasions when I couldn't access their advice only to ask myself, "What would Mom and Popz tell me to do?" It has actually been quite efficient in helping me choose my next steps carefully. But my parents (may Allah reward them, elevate them, and grant them khayr fid dunya wal aakhira, ameen) have been limited in delivering the wealth of Islamic knowledge that is out there. I don't at all hold this against them because such knowledge has to come from those who have sat at the feet of teachers who continue the chain of sound knowledge from the time of the our beloved Prophet and Messenger Muhammad (salla Allahu 'alayhi wa salam).

We live in times when the ignorance of Islamic scholarship is the rule rather than the exception. As a community, we get into petty arguments (or heated discussions) when none of us have any substantial knowledge about the matter being discussed. I think it's time for us (starting with myself) to keep my mouth shut about matters that must only be discussed by those who know.

I recently had the opportunity, alhamduliLlah, to participate in a program (called Qurba) with the Razi Institute. Masha'Allah 'alayhim. The shuyukh just make me smile. May Allah preserve them and allow us to benefit from the knowledge which He has bestowed on them, ameen. In a five-day program located on a beautiful college campus, we were introduced to the basic structural premises of the major Islamic sciences. We had the opportunity to witness how these sciences interact, and it truly is no simple thing. It is complete ignorance for any of us to believe that our deen can be understood and implemented by simple consultation of the Quran and sunnah while neglecting the Islamic scholarship that flourished after the death of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. It's an absurdity that I can no longer exert the energy needed to make any sense of it.

I left those classes feeling that my brain was fried. I struggled to get a grasp of the larger picture knowing that I have many holes in the foundation of my basic Islamic education. SubhanAllah... how little we know, oh how little we know. It is no exaggeration to say that those of us who read Islamic books and attend Islamic conferences and listen/watch Islamic lectures at home have been exposed to but a grain of sand in the depths of an ocean of knowledge.

In God's great generosity, He has allowed me to be settled close to a community that is glowing with Islamic scholarship, those who are striving to equip us with Islamic principles that will facilitate us in our lives as we strive to come closer to our Lord through sound Islamic teachings and practice. I just hope that He will honour me and my loved ones to be among those who can benefit from the presence of these gems, insha'Allah wa ameen.

"نصف العلم في كلمتين ـ لا ادري"

Simple You


Look into your heart and tell me what you see. Is it the ocean, a fire, a mountain, or simply empty?

Close your eyes and tell me what you see. It's not "nothing," if you look deep enough. There the waves crash, the birds sing their prayers, and the heart takes over the mind.

Now open your eyes. What do you see? Just a wall or a universe? The clouds and the trees paint a much larger picture, yet you choose to ignore them. And what of the moon? Perhaps we are blinded by our own vision. An irony of some sort, a sad irony.

Do you really want to see? If so, open your heart and close your eyes. Touch the sky and you'll find a surprise. Only then can you appreciate your vision --- to see beyond your "natural" scope. 'Tis nothing too profound. 'Tis simply a blessing to all who choose to use it.

Give thanks and praise to the One who gives you such gifts, such an honour! Forget not your place in this universe because you, simple you, have a fixed place.

Penned on November 25, 2001

Masked. Blinded. Trapped.

BismiLlahir Rahmanir Raheem

This is my poor attempt to bring it all together with just a few personal reflections inspired by my sisters from afar, living on those beautiful mountain tops - the sisters who walked with me upon the clouds ... barakAllahu feehinna.

There were many times when I asked myself why God allowed me to go there and for what reason He took me there. I've been asking myself that ever since. I know there was something, but perhaps it will be years (should I live that long) before I ever put the pieces together, but this is a start, bi ithniLlah.


It's not easy being a Muslim woman in the West. This is the first time I've said these words to myself. Perhaps only now I am beginning to understand what it entails.

But first, what does it mean to be a Muslim woman? To pray on time five times a day, to pay zakah due on us each year, to fast, to be kind, to raise our children to respect and honour our human existence through life's proprieties and divine guidance, to care for our parents, husband, elders, and community? Absolutely. Is that all? By far, it is certainly not all.

When I think about what it means to be a Muslim woman, I feel at ease. I think about the Muslim women luminaries such as Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, 'Aishah bint Abi Bakr, Zaynab bint Jahsh, Nusaybah bint Ka'ab, and the list continues. I know that I will never manifest their greatness in any sphere of my life, regardless of how hard I may try, but their lives exemplify struggles, emotions, thoughts, actions, words, dedication, intelligence, rigour, spirituality, strength, and humility in what I consider a pure and true Muslim woman, a Muslimah. What I see in them is attainable, even if it is one million degrees below them. Along the same lines, with the same elements, they are us, and we desperately need to try to be like them.

As soon as I put the word Western in front of Muslimah, I feel the hairs on my head turning white. In my eyes, there seems to be no reasonable way for me to attain what is being asked of Muslim women here in the West. Some have done it without breaking, perhaps many have, but I don't know their stories, nor their ways. I can't seem to even set the stage right.

If I want an education, I must not let my guard down as I challenge everything that is being presented to me. If I want to work, I must explain myself to effect changes so my "comfort" (values) can be accommodated. If I want to marry, for some I must have a degree (as if it is any proof of what benefits I could bring to a home or family) or working potential, for others I must be willing to interact with them casually, and for yet others again, I must be willing to concern my actions wholeheartedly around family matters. All of these are among many others of equally confusing varieties. If I want to be a full-time mother, I have to defend my decision and prove its worth.

I don't want the best of both worlds, I want a balance.

I want to be true to the service of my family, as I see in my mother. I want to be true to the service of my community, as I see in my teachers. I want to be true to the cloak of haya, as I saw atop that mountain - and this I find the most difficult. As my friend wept at the threat of maintaining her personal level of haya, I knew that I had no true concept of the word. This was and remains a sad realization for me. But please understand, when I say "haya" I don't mean the niqaab, I mean the reactions of the heart.

Zaid bin Talha reported God's Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying, "Modesty and faith are companions, when one of them goes out, the other follows it."

It is also reported that God's Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) said, "Every religion has a character and the character of Islam is modesty (haya)."
Haya is not a light matter, and it is precisely for this reason that I feel it is my greatest threat and barrier to personal success in times when the world is spiraling quickly in its degeneration. These ideas and thoughts continue to tug at my heart, and yet I don't have the insight or words towards a solution.

I could live on a mountain... I could live in a village... I could live and no strange man need ever see my face, hear my voice, or know my name... I could, but I don't. I am a Canadian Muslimah living in suburbia, and this is where I belong, whether I like it or not. But it is only with the help of my Lord that I will ever have a chance of making it work.

Ya Rab, ya Rabil 'alameen, in our darkness we turn to You for light. In our fears, we turn to you for comfort. In our struggles, we turn to You for support. We depend entirely on You. Teach us, ya Rab, teach us, show us, and guide us to Your way, in the best of ways. May Your peace be upon us and those whom You love, may Your wisdom be near us, may Your greatness humble us, may Your truth guide us, ameen.

Update 2008-07-30:

I neglected to post this earlier. It's a lecture given by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf entitled "Men and Women." I wouldn't post it if I didn't think it worth listening to, so listen to it :).

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

(They're not long... yalla, ifta7hu.)

Update 2008-08-01:

Check this out: "Nun-Jabi" --- It has some serious flava' - Shi style!

Fly my child, fly...

BismiLlahir Rahmanir Raheem

One letter at a time, I carved my name into a tree. Much effort and time, yet it has quickly disappeared. The shavings fall, their destinies veiled. Many indistinguishable now as they are thoroughly mixed with the soil and mulch at the tree's feet down below. A few from amongst them dare to fly with the wind. Far away they venture, their return unknown, surely forbidden.


I carved my name in a tree. It is now dust. Mixed with nature's elements, proof of its existence has vanished. Except for the pain that the tree remembers. Except for the strain that the knife endured. Only the struggle remains.

My every cell is transforming, returning to dust. Soar in the wind I tell them. They fear embracing their new identity. Fly my child, fly. Most fall to the ground by my feet. The wind has scattered the remnants of my existence.

...does my struggle remain?

Mountain Beauties ...cont'd


A continuation...

Quite naturally, the women smiled in amusement at the bride-to-be’s shyness. My other friends, sisters of the bride-to-be, re-entered the room. With a few more light-hearted remarks, the doctor’s mother (the bride-to-be’s mother-in-law-to-be) suggested that my friend wear the fancy dress that was given to her for the occasion. My friend left the room to change and soon returned to her seat on the floor next to me, a lot more shy now than a few minutes earlier.

It was an interesting scene. Mother-in-law-to-be was getting frustrated with the shyness of daughter-in-law-to-be, and daughter-in-law-to-be seemed very much out of her element, with her grinning sisters (one with merciless teasing) looking on. Attention moved away from my friend for a short while. After some time, she was told to wear her ‘abaya again. I didn’t know why.

It wasn’t long after that, with her ‘abaya in hand, that my friend started crying. She crouched down near the edge of the bed as she faced the wall succumbing to her tears. Qumi! Qumi ya Aishah! – Get up! Get up Aishah! the ladies called out. They tried to pull her up, but she didn’t budge. Her tears flowing more profusely now than before.

I didn’t like it one bit. I waited to see how the others would react to her. There was some level of amusement in the air, something I couldn’t appreciate at the time (and I still fail to appreciate). I crouched next to her, put my arm around her shoulders, and told her to not to worry. Behind us, voices sang again, Yalla, qumi! My heart was with her. I turned around to tell the others to leave her alone for a while and to give her some time. I returned my attention to my friend, offering meager words of comfort with my limited knowledge of Arabic. Quli bismiLlah wa la takhaafi habibti..quli bismiLlah. – Say bismiLlah and don’t worry my dear, say bismiLlah. I held her tight, hating that while she was so emotionally distraught, she was being pressured to do something that she clearly wasn’t ready to do.

The bride-to-be’s mother entered the room. After taking a few moments to survey the scene, she asked her daughter to get up and get dressed, her empathy evident in her tone. I stepped away, knowing that a mother has more compassion for her child than I could have for her. I looked on as my friend stood up, put her black ‘abaya over her clothes, and wore her hijab and khimar. She left the room.

I didn’t know what she went to do. My heart was still with her. A little while later, she returned, this time with more composure. I still didn’t understand what it was that made her cry her heart out. Her shyness? I wasn’t sure.

The day after I asked the doctor’s wife why the young lady had cried with as much intensity as she did. She explained that it was normal for most girls given that it’s the first time a strange man sees her. Interesting.

I visited my friend not-too-long afterwards and naturally asked how she was doing. She seemed a lot better, though a little heavy-hearted. She told me that she was distressed that night because she had to meet her father-in-law-to-be, without niqab, and she didn’t want to. She wasn’t married yet, and her father-in-law-to-be had no need to see her face nor shake her hand as he wanted. She said that in her effort to reconcile her heart slightly she shook his hand with the fabric of her khimar between their two hands.

She had every right to feel violated. It is not the right (haq) of a father-in-law-to-be (a non-mahram) to request that of her. She had every right to be upset.


You might be wondering why I’ve related the above story to you. SubhanAllah. I don’t think my narration does justice to the experience, but I hope that insha’Allah I can bring it all together by sharing my reflections with you in my next entry (that’s if I can find my words *ahem*).

Mountain Beauties


We were supposed to leave Sana'a early in the morning, but that didn't happen. We only hit the road at about 9 or 10 am after finishing with breakfast, loading the van with our luggage, and tidying the house. I could have had an extra two hours of much-needed sleep I thought to myself, only to have the better half of my brain counsel me to patience knowing that every successful journey must contain sabr - patience and perseverance.

Eager to begin the road trip, I settled myself in the back seat of the Hillux as four other children aged 8 to 13 took their places beside me, while the youngest of them all, aged 6, sat next to his mother in the front. We started with a du'a, and with mixed enthusiasm the children ran through their travel routine. The eldest of the boys, Muhammad, was the presenter necessitating that he speak into his hands where he held an imaginary microphone as he introduced his siblings who each, in turn, recited a part of the Quran and a hadith. "Wa Farzeen?" asked their mother. They all looked at me. I shook my head "no" -- La shukran.... Heya la tureed. I was a stranger to them, they were strangers to me. I promised myself to never do that which I wasn't comfortable with (a promise that I unfortunately broke on a couple of occasions), and I wasn't comfortable. This ride was the beginning of many more life lessons that I couldn't have imagined would come my way though I had every reason to expect them.

Three days, three cities, many miles, and many more eye-opening experiences and mental readjustments later, I arrived with this family at their humble home in a large village atop a mountain in the outskirts of Ta'iz, a developed city only about a four-hour drive away from the country's capital. It was my learning base for only six weeks, but it was probably the most internally distressful and unclear experience during my stay in Yemen. Perhaps it was fitting preparation for my next stop, Tarim. Whatever it was, I know it wasn't in vain. It was then that I first wished to return to my family after four months of being away from home. It was then when I first broke. It was then that I realized the depth of the blessings that Allah sent my way. It was from then that I had to force myself to look deeper at the person I thought I was and wanted to be. It was then and there that I failed my soul.


"La la la la la, layyyyyyy" ---- the young girl sang around the house as she teased my friend with the traditional wedding sounds that women like to make. My friend was getting engaged, and the festive, high-pitched wedding tongue roll only served to embarrass her more. "La ya Kareema!" she said in a weak attempt to scold the child. It was only an engagement, not a wedding she told her. The child continued. A well-loved young woman of the community was getting engaged to the girl's uncle. She had every reason to rejoice, and a little chastisement wasn't going to stop her easily.

During my travels to the village, I had already met her in-laws-to-be as they are the family of the doctor whose home I lived in and whose family I lived with. As a guest amongst them, I was the only non-family member present that night. I accompanied the doctor's entire family into town as we picked up boxes of hilwa, a gold ring, and a gold watch - traditional gifts for the bride-to-be. I had no idea that the many boxes that were loaded into the van contained hilwa (sweets), and I offered to help by carrying a box to my friend's house. I was warned that it was heavy, the truth of which I realized when I lifted the box nearest to me which then encouraged me to question the boxes' contents. Ma hatha?? Zhahab? -- What's this? Gold? Met by a hearty chuckle I was told it was hilwa, enough hilwa to give to many of the neighbours in the village and surrounding area.

What I witnessed that night I still carry with me. The groom-to-be was going to see the face of his bride-to-be for the first time. For my friend, it was a nerve-wracking experience as no non-mahram (relative) male had seen her face after her childhood. She asked me to sit next to her as her sisters left the room, leaving only the doctor's wife, mother, daughter, and myself in the room with her. With the exception of my friend, we all put on our niqaabs and waited for her father to enter with his son-in-law-to-be. My friend huddled closer to me, clutching my hand. The young man entered, his gaze lowered. He sat on the bed directly in front of us for no more than a few seconds, looked up at her quickly, said "masha'Allah," and stood again to leave. As soon as he was out of sight, my friend hid her face in her hands as she rested her head on my shoulder. I smiled to myself and probably outright too. The whole experience was really a beautiful sight from my perspective. I embraced her and offered words of comfort. But that was only the beginning.

What followed was quite confusing and distressing for me at the time, but I sought some clarification about it afterwards. Now it continues to inspire me to question myself, as I am counted as one of today's young Muslim women in the West.

........to be continued, insha'Allah!

Visiting The Blessed

BismiLlahir Rahmanir Raheem

AlhamduliLlahi Rabil 'alameen was-salaatu was-salaamu 'ala Al Habib, Al Mustafa, Sayyidina Muhammad, Imam Al Mursaleen

The rhythm of the drums fill my ears, it moves my soul taking me back to a place that now owns a special place deep in my heart -- Al Yemen, Al Habibah. Her hospitality remains with me, her generosity humbles me, and the memory of her beauty makes me smile.

Words of the heart are often difficult to articulate. I've struggled endlessly to find the words to share one of the sweetest moments of my life. I cannot count the amount of times I've typed the basmala only to have no words follow. How can I ever attempt to describe something so sweet, so ... ya Rabb. It was a dream come true. By the permission of my Lord, it was a dream come true. I'm ever-grateful for it, glory be to God. I thank Him, the Only One deserving of praise, for all that He has bestowed on me, He who made a desire of my heart a reality.


The wind was howling, and I roused from my sleep to pull the top layer of my sleeping bag securely over me again. My eyes opened for a moment, and I smiled as I recalled where I lay. The moon adorned all her jewels pleasing the night sky, her light touching and illuminating the peaks of the surrounding mountains. The stars twinkled back at me, and I closed my eyes again. With my heart at peace, I fell back into a light slumber.

It must have been about an hour and a half later when I woke again. I pulled out my cell phone which I kept tucked close to me under the edge of my pillow and checked the time. Ah, 3:15 am, it was time for qiyamul layl. I looked to the moon again, smiled, and rose. My flashlight wasn't with me that night as I lent it to one of my housemates the evening before and she hadn't yet returned it. I would have to tread slowly to find my way. I found my shoes, and carefully made my way around my sleeping companions to the stairs leading from the roof that we slept on to the second floor. I entered the house and saw a faint light somewhere that made the path manageable. The electricity must have come back on during some part of the night or maybe the generator was running again. There were a few of my housemates awake, but today I was amongst the earlier ones which worked to my advantage in terms of getting access to water for wudhu. I safely made my way down both sets of concrete, dust-covered stairs and saw a couple of girls filling buckets with water to use in the bathrooms or to use for wudhu. We had no running water in the house and all 150 of us depended on buckets of water for cleansing.

I continued walking until I reached the front door of the house. Much to my surprise and good pleasure, sitting in the dusty entry way, lit by the moon's brilliance, was a barrel of water unattended. I quickly made my way to it, washed up, and made wudhu in preparation for prayer.

I returned to the roof again, prayed two raka'as of tahajjud, and sat facing the qibla as I began reading the pre-fajr awrad (litanies of dhikr) from my copy of the Khulasa. This was the practice of all those in Tarim and the surrounding areas. The Khulasa is a book that contains the awrad from morning to evening, and is as essential in the hand (if not in the heart) as the blood that flows within us. I couldn't imagine a Tarimi without it, thus my participation in the society naturally meant the same for me. As one British sister said to me shortly before my departure, "If you want to take something of Tarim back to your family and friends, take the Khulasa."

With the help of the moon's radiance, I read through the pre-Fajr awrad, trying my best to let its reading go deeper than my tongue, reminding myself that I was somewhere special. It was a blessing to be there, and I didn't want to take it for granted. I wasn't sure how to make the most of my opportunity there, but I tried. Just as I finished and wondered how much time remained before Fajr, the rest of my housemates were rising. I realized then that I had woken up much too early for qiyam ul layl, and my completion of the awrad marked the usual time for waking. I decided to make the most of my time and walked to the edge of the roof, surrounded by a wall, and gazed at one of the most heart-moving scenes my eyes have ever met. It was the dome (quba) that covered the resting place of a beloved Prophet of God, Nabi Allah Hud ('alayhis salaam) - Prophet Hud (peace be upon him). The moon illuminated the dome and its surrounding area, and tranquility filled the air. It was heavenly.

It was more amazing than I could have imagined. No doubt, a blessing. I stood on the roof of a house that was half way up a mountain, glowing in the moon's radiance, and I overlooked the place where a Prophet lay. It is said that where one Prophet is buried, the others are present. The outward intention of this journey is to visit Prophet Hud 'alayhis salaam and the inward intention is to visit Prophet Muhammad salla Allahu 'alayhi wa salam.

The houses surrounding the mountain were empty. Apart from the house I inhabited, the village was vacant. A full moon, breathtaking mountains, and a blessed land. Pure bliss. Peace at its best.

Thank You Allah. Ya Rabbi, usalukal hidaya. Ihdinas siratal mustaqeem, ameen.


I wanted to continue describing the tarteeb (schedule) of the visit to Nabi Allah Hud 'alayhis salaam, but my words have run dry. There is actually a video (produced by Guidance Media, Allahu uwafiqquhum, ameen) that does a far better job than my incoherent words could ever do. It brings me to tears every time I watch it, but it also fills my heart with immense joy. I love that place. I used to watch this video before I had any 'chance' of going to Yemen. SubhanAllah. It means so much more to me now. I hope you can all share in the beauty of it too. As well, here are some pictures that I took while there. Perhaps one of these days, by the permission of my Lord, I'll be able to describe them to you. If not, I hope you meet someone far more competent than myself to tell you more about it.

Enjoy the video and pray for our shuyukh, for the students of knowledge who will one day be our teachers insha'Allah, and pray for our ummah.

Rajab has arrived. It is well past time to get into gear to meet Ramadhan, insha'Allah! May Allah make us among those who are honoured to meet Ramadhan this year. May He forgive our sins and accept our good works, those which we are only able to carry out by His permission, ameen!

Part 1 - Part 2
The Thousand Year Journey

Broken Mirror

BismiLlahir Rahmanir Raheem

Two months have almost passed, plus almost a year gone by. The me once known is lost in those far desert sands. Looking in the mirror I can't say what I see. Without any articulacy, written or oral, I'm no longer able to find the words of me. I want to scream, though no sound shall come. What meaning is there in this life of mine? With no definition of my being, only wasted breaths I can count. Even still, I won't keep up for the numbers are great. O my Lord, I depend on You, You have already written my fate. I thought I once held a dimly little candle, but now I see it not. What makes my eyes fill with this lacrimal water? Why hasn't this soul of mine at last surrendered?

I thought the world was open to me. My eyes saw wider, and mind grew deeper. Exposed to those from among the best, should I have some of their charms? I'm at my front door, but the key no longer fits. I want to know, where is the solution, my mind a remix. No sweetness in it I find. Two months of confusion, no one of my kind. I'm sinking in the quicksand of my nothingness. Reminiscing on what once was, life's a fuss. Singing a song of constant frustration. Life's many blessings I enjoy without a doubt. Where is the source of these thoughts? Where is the me I thought I once knew? The me, in all my faults, was still me. She now who I see, she's something new. Maybe there's good in her, I haven't a clue. She's of the weak. She's of the slow. She's of those whose mark is the little they know. Discipline mocks my being. It hurts.

What happened to those cherished as true? The ones that defined my world, not limited to only mes and yous. Like a gingerbread man, I see the crumbs of my existence. The pieces falling apart. The road a lot dustier. The road with no signs. The road far away from a straight line. Maybe it has to be broken before being rebuilt. Searching for any pieces. Trying to fit it together. Simple peace is repelled.

There's light in this tunnel, there has to be. My faith can't shake or there's no hope for my survival. I must retain some dignity. Be one of integrity. Where am I going? How'd it get so dark so quickly? My heart aches, and I fail in my duties. Walking and walking, I'm hitting the same dead end. Lost, and lost again. Is this front moving or in reverse? There are twists. The block can't be pushed. The barrier can't be conquered. It has no definition.

There's only One with me. Closer than my jugular vein. No person can understand this pain. No person can understand this pain. No person. Only One knows my needs. I need to do my part. I must find my way. O God, help me find the way.... O God, I ask only You, help me find my way. Help me find my way. Ameen.

UMMA Community Clinic!

BismiLlahir Rahmanir Raheem

SubhanAllah... This is simply awesome, masha'Allah!

Allahu uwaffiquhum... May Allah give them success and grant them the best of rewards. May He use them as role models, and allow many to follow in their footsteps, ameen!

Putting Things Into Perspective

BismiLlahir Rahmanir Raheem

What's your life all about? Shaykh Hamza Yusuf puts things into perspective, focusing on the dangers of heedlessness. If you've heard the likes of this before, consider it a reminder. If not, consider it a blessing. Ramadhan is just around the corner, inshaAllah... Days are passing by quickly. It's well past time to kick into gear.

May Allah guide us all and help us to help ourselves as we begin journeying towards Him, ameen.

Weighing Words: Yours vs. Mine

BismiLahir Rahmanir Raheem

*What if you knew about all that I do? The things that I think? The me that is true? Would you call me a hypocrite? Call me a liar? Would you curse out my name or would you damn me to fire? Would you know what to say or would you just walk away afraid the me I've tried to hide would too closely resemble the truth of you that lies inside?*
- Dawud W. Ali

"Communication, communication, communication" is said to be the key to successful relationships. This advice sounds as good as the golden rule to good real estate "location, location, location." But buying a house on a busy, main road is going to drive any sane person nuts just as any store owner will be bored out of his mind (and surely out of business) with a store in the middle of farmland. My point you ask? Well, let's put communication into perspective because sometimes it seems not to work as well as we'd like.

Successful communication requires the interlocutors to understand each other with few or no baseless assumptions about the other. The message from person A reaches and is understood by person B as clearly as person A thought of it in his/her own mind. Quite a feat, eh? It's not a wonder that most conversations require some level of clarification. Nonetheless, this blessing of communication seems to work, perhaps not as perfectly as described above, but that's because most topics aren't sensitive enough to notice a lack of precision in understanding. What happens though when the topic is sensitive to either party and where the dialogue seems to progress only slightly if at all? No doubt, such a case would necessitate tact, diplomacy, and consideration for the receiver's reaction to whatever is coming from the other interlocutor. Simple enough, right?

Nope! Not that simple... This is where it seems to all go down the drain with all parties claiming to have had good intentions and not responsible for the other person's misunderstanding. Good intentions do not negate a person's negative response to a well-intended action, but instead they facilitate efforts in the reconciliation process. Communication is a two-way process, and where it fails, it requires an effort from both sides to reach a solution. It is not fair to say, "Well I meant it in a good way, therefore he/she can't feel that way as a result of what happened."

No one has the right to say that another "cannot" or "should not" feel a certain way about something. All feelings are valid, even if they stem from miscommunication. And because each feeling is valid, they must be addressed with care so as to fill in the blanks and readdress the areas of confusion and misunderstanding. To illustrate, a lady once told me that her husband thinks she hates him. She undervalued his feelings on the basis that she knows she doesn't hate him and attributed his claim perhaps to his own personal issues. After some exploration, we soon discovered reasons that may have contributed to her husband feeling as though she didn't care much for him. She finally made the effort to understand his feelings, a first step towards solving their problems.

Communication is a messy process sometimes, but giving the other person the benefit of the doubt and trusting our loved ones to be sincere with us is a starting point of enjoyable dialogue, one that can withstand even a hurricane. It seems to me that communication can only make remarkable leaps when we ask ourselves "What did he/she understand?" instead of "What did I mean?"

Just don't ever forget, it's not all about you or me... it's about us.

Smile. There's light at the end of every dark tunnel, God willing!

O Lord, let our return to You be sweet, our lives be fruitful, our relationships be beautiful, and our every moment bear witness to Your greatness, ameen.

Mercy like the rain...

BismiAllahir Rahmanir Raheem

Written July 5, 2007 - Selected portions of an e-mail...

So you might be wondering why I'm online at this time, that is if you figured out this isn't my normal online time. It's 9 PM now. I had been online before Maghrib. I was talking to someone and it was pourrring. Well guess what? When it came time to leave the Internet cafe all I saw was a flooded street. So for me to leave I would have to walk right in the rain water that poured down the street. It was fine the first couple of steps until I stepped off the curb and onto the road, which of course was deeper. My shoes and bottom of my pants were, of course, soaked! And I had to go buy some dinner.. So I went to the supermarket with my completely soaked shoes, bought some tomatoes, tuna, water, and juice. Then I went to the bakery, and finally made my way home. [Btw, I didn't mind walking in the flood waters... the closest to swimming I'll get for some time.] SubhanAllah, in front of the supermarket there are the regular people who sit at the curb there, beggars and vendors. Their faces are all too familiar to me now. One of the beggars, who has a crippled hand saw me coming toward the curb near the supermarket and told me to go around a bit because of the drain. There were a few people there trying to direct me so I could avoid the drain that was of course in a big spiral with all the water. SubhanAllah... every day I pass these people and feel such a shame overcome me when I leave their opened hands empty. SubhanAllah. I really have to go to a bank and get some change. I can't live like this where I pass them everyday and give them nothing.

As I left the bakery, an old (and I mean old!) man asked me for money. I dug into my bag and gave him a handful of coins. I think he was surprised cuz most ppl just give one coin. SubhanAllah.. really it's something. When something different from the norm strikes, the reality of our existence kind of sets in. Meaning in this context, I pass these people everyday, and somehow I manage to sleep at night having given them no money. Yet when it poured and the street was flooded, without any benefit to themselves, they advised me how to get to the curb in a way that would keep me safer. SubhanAllah. We're all just people. We all come from different walks of life and we have different challenges ahead of us. Yet if we forget to use our resources or we make excuses for using our resources to benefit others, we really have missed the point entirely. SubhanAllah. I can't get over it.

That's the first time I've been in the "flood." (The water has since subsided. The entire street wasn't flooded, just this side of the road... a good few meters from the curb of the stores I came out of and needed to go into). Oh, so why am I back at the Internet cafe? Well, cuz I went home and I was thinking about the files I sent to my sister from the MP3 player and remembered that in my fascination with the rain, I neglected to take the MP3 player out of the USB port. But the dudes here know me. And when I came in and asked him if he saw my MP3 player, he was already reaching into the drawer to get it for me.

Most of the people that I've encountered here in Sana'a are really, really good... masha'Allah. As people tried to find some shallow water with the flooded streets, we walked at the edges, on the 'sidewalk' (slightly elevated ground). I was walking towards my gate (by my house) and there were some men in front of me walking towards me. One stood in the crook of a doorway so I could pass easily, and the other literally stepped into the flooded water on the road so I could pass. I didn't mind stepping into it, but the fact that he did was a display of good adab... masha'Allah. May Allah reward them all, ameen.

As I go to sleep tonight, bed bugs and/or mosquitos will likely meet me... and that's okay because I know that today the people of the streets are going to have an even more difficult night. There's a makeshift house here on the street... I wish you could see it... I thank Allah every time for what I have..alhamduliAllah.

When I went home and made wudhu for Esha just now (before coming here to the Internet cafe), I saw a cockroach in my bathtub again. I decided to ignore it. It crawls out from the drain, and as I watched it, it crawled back in. They have their space, and I have mine. AlhamduliAllah for all. But yes, I know, if it gets further than the vicinity of the drain, I will have to kill it... and hopefully it will be a short ordeal for the both of us.

With that my dears, consider this ramble over. Take care of yourselves. Be happy, safe, and keep striving. May Allah guide us all, ameen!


BismiAllahir Rahmanir Raheem

Can't stop them from flowing
Rivers too precious for some to hold
Pebbles marking our graves when we die
Searching for the answer as to why we cry...

The reflection is unbearably hideous
The sand of the hourglass cultivating no change
Shovel out the dirt and settle in
Enthusiasm spent in the face of great sin

Hide beautiful rainbow
Shattered stained glass, a new emblem
Cradling selfish turmoil, seemingly endless
With peace's absence lives remain friendless

Freedom is philosophized to no end
Words feeding the already satiated
Battling with pangs of inevitable hunger
Soon to be lying six feet under...

Written January 13, 2008

A Passing Thought...

BismiAllahir Rahmanir Raheem

My mind is a remix of the sweetest kind, though I am still trying to find some coherence in my thoughts. Soon enough, it will come together, insha'Allah, but for now, I must write.

But what should I write about? How about love? I've previously written about this topic, but there are many things in recent months that have affected my understanding of this overly-used, hardly-lived word.

We limit our love in so many ways. While there are many philosophical sentences that could attempt to get at the essence of this word, they miss their mark because love is something real - lived and experienced.

A few days ago, I went to visit my friend. The day before my visit, she went to the doctor and received several injections making both her arms as stiff as a board on the day I saw her. Her pain was clearly there. We sat together for a while, and then she told me that she had to go out to pick up some things. I accompanied her. Our first stop was to get a jug of water filled with distilled water (this is for people who don't use tap water for cooking). Then we went to their local supermarket and bought some drinking water and some vegetables. We argued a little bit as I insisted that she allow me to carry the basket, since she was obviously in pain. She resisted, but eventually gave in. Fortunately, she also allowed me to pick the vegetables that she needed knowing that she would be in pain if she extended her arms.

I went home that night quite distressed. I couldn't and still fail to understand how her brother, who was at home, well and healthy, as we went shopping could have asked her to run those errands. It would be so simple for him to have gone himself, being the head of their household and a man in a world where men are more involved in the marketplace than women.

When I saw him that night, I told him that I thought he shouldn't send his sister to get the water filled there since its terribly awkward for women to go to an area filled with men. He brushed off my concerns, suggesting ways she could distance herself from them. Generally, he's a nice guy, but my respect for him diminished slightly that night.

In my eyes, the solution was simple. I think of what my family would have done. I know for a fact that no one in my family would have allowed to me to run those errands, let alone asked me, if I was in pain. But never mind what my family would do, we all come from different families... What would our beloved, the beloved of Allah, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, have done? Would he ever give priority to his comfort over the comfort and ease of others? Never.

So how can we say we love certain people when we put ourselves ahead of them? Love is not selfish. I have little tolerance for selfishness, especially when one allows it to enter a relationship that should be and is said to be enveloped in love.

The world is a lot bigger when it's not about ourselves. And, ironically, I say this when my world is currently all about me.

I've been living alone for the last three months. I don't have anyone else to be directly concerned about, but the bonds of love that I share with some keeps them forever in my thoughts.

I've lived a life of privilege in terms of love. Now, just to hear the voices of the ones that I love is hard to come by, it's infrequent. But my heart is with them.

The pain of separation from loved ones is the price I'm paying for lessons no book could teach. My greatest lesson has been about independence.

Never before have I been alone for so long. This is what people call independence right? For me, independence means depending entirely on my Lord. His love is generous, and some days I feel it. Every day I sense it. Were it not for His love, I wouldn't have been able to survive so long without my loved ones.

A couple of months ago I turned on the TV and I came across a show called "Stairway to Paradise" with Moez Masoud (from Egypt). He was talking about giving up the things we love for the sake of coming close to our Lord. One example he mentioned, simply, was sleep. Do we deny ourselves those extra hours of sleep for the sake of coming closer to our Lord when He tells us to call on Him for anything we may want or need in the pre-dawn hours?

What are we giving up for the sake of the love we claim to have?

Written August 26, 2007

May God guide us to the truth, ameen.
"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]