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!
"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]