Inhaling Reality

In the Name of God, The Beneficent, The Most Merciful

All praises belongs to Allah, the Lord and Sustainer of the Heavens and Earth and all that exists, He whose guidance we depend on, and upon whom we are all entirely dependent. May His peace be upon our beloved Prophet Muhammad and his family and companions.

The time has come, yet again, for me to discontinue writing here for some time best known to God. I am not travelling as I was the last time I paused this effort, nor am I attempting to pursue anything other than what most deem necessarily essential.

I fear that my words here may paint a picture that is not true of me or of the realities I attempt to discuss. I often speak of ideals, and though I attempt to make practical connections, I often fail. Such is the story of my life, and it shall remain as such unless I do something about it.

There are some who may read my words here and consider me pretentious, and perhaps they may be correct in their assessment. I do not want my words to come back to me, stare me in the face, and demand my response. I don't have the strength to face them in such a manner.

There are a lot of things that I have written here, in 112 posts over the past two and half years, but I must ask myself what my words have amounted to and where I am really going.

Travelling overseas to study (though half the time I wasn't studying), in my opinion, is not praiseworthy in and of itself. Our knowledge is only as good as what we act upon. And while I can claim ignorance in traditional knowledge, I cannot deny the life lessons that God has brought my way before, during, and after my travels and throughout my life.

Every breath is taking me closer to my grave, and if my words on this blog is all that speaks of my life, then I am in serious trouble.

It is time I turn to my Lord and beg His forgiveness for my mistakes, for my erroneous confidence in my misguided words, and for my many other shortcomings of which He is aware.

Those who have taken the time to read my ramblings here, forgive me for any wrong I may have caused you. I respect you, as silent as you are, knowing that we are travelling similar paths. I respect you for your character, humility, and your adab as you trek through this life, and I hope that perhaps I can share the same characteristics in my life at some point, insha'Allah.

May God grant the believers strength in their faith. May He guide those who are in earnest search of Him and His guidance. May the Almighty guide us to be only with those who help us through our journeys, and may He protect us from all that which distract us from making sincere efforts toward the ultimate goal of our existence. May He bless us all with a good ending, and take us back to Him in the best of states. May our return to Him be filled with a heavenly sweetness, and may His peace and blessings be upon His beloved, our Master Muhammad, and his family and companions, ameen.

Removing the Silence on Domestic Violence

BismiLlahir Rahmanir Rahim

AlhamduliAllah, this video was recently e-mailed to me, for which I am very grateful. I think sermons such as this need to be in wide circulation because these issues need to be discussed and misconceptions need to be corrected.

I ask that you copy the link to this video on YouTube and e-mail it to all those you know, men and women alike, insha'Allah. Let not our silence contribute to the perpetuation of unacceptable practices.

Removing the Silence on Domestic Violence
- Shaykh Hamza Yusuf of Zaytuna Institute

God is My Sufficiency

BismiLlahir Rahmanir Rahim

This last year has been challenging for Habibah, but her hopes are still alive and her faith is still strong. Her voice is now reserved, and no longer can naivety be found in her words. Her laughter, though thankfully still present, is not laced with innocent play as it once used to be, and her now careful tone continuously references her admiral perseverance. Unlike many who have walked a similar path, she doesn't dwell too long speaking of her struggles but she speaks of improved circumstances and moving forward. Perhaps she doesn't wish to burden her listener who can't help but carry some of her pain. For those who knew her a year prior, her story is heart-breaking and her forced "maturity" is a heavy change.

Habibah is a strong individual, and with God's help she will get through this all and come out a better person because of it. As her optimism remains, so too must it remain for those who care for her and whose hearts feel her pain. Her losses have been great, but so too must be her returns, God willing.

I wish I could say that "Habibah" is a fictional character, but she is very much real. And while I know that she will never be the person that she was so many months ago, I am confident that God will help her through her trials and He will favour her with His generosity and grace.

However, I keep asking myself about the human hands who are responsible for harming her and stripping her of her dignity. I have tried to make excuses for them, a husband and a mother-in-law to her, but I seem not to get very far.

I used to think that a telling sign of a man's potential goodness and integrity with his future wife would be his relationship with his mother. I've been proven wrong. A man can adore his mother, and on account of that he can justify the ill and despicable treatment of his wife. A man can speak words as sweet as honey, filled with spiritual and religious references and wisdom, and yet his actions can be as cruel as the devil himself.

A man who has no consciousness and fear of his Lord is hardly a man. One who has no shame before his Creator is one not worthy of much respect, if any at all.

There are many women and some men who get into marriages, religiously sanctified unions, only to have their lives turn from reasonably pleasant to miserable. It's ironic given that a spouse, in essence, is meant to be a protective garment. It's sad, really, to see a potential protective covering turn out to be a vile poison.

Marriages and relationships are a trust, a sacred trust. God entrusts us with the care of one from amongst His creation, and when we harm that trust, we must ultimately be prepared to answer to Him. As for the one who has been harmed, it is only befitting that he keep a good opinion of His Lord and attempt to continue chugging through life as Habibah continues to do now.

I suppose I will never understand what it is that makes one abandon the beauty of moral and ethical consciousness for the sake of other wretched options. Sometimes I wonder who it is that we can really trust, and I then recognize that we cannot (totally) trust anyone except our Lord. He gives us guidelines to follow. He offers us His guidance. He invites us every day to call on Him, and He even designates a special portion of the night specifically for us saying, "Who will call on Me so that I may respond to him? Who is asking something of Me so I may give it to him? Who is asking for My forgiveness so I may forgive him?" As long as we hold onto these things, regardless of what may come our way, we know that He will take care of us and our success will be with Him, God willing.

God is sufficient for us, and He is the Best Disposer of affairs.

حَسْبُنَا اللهُ وَ نِعْمَ الْوَكِيْل

Thank You Allah

BismiLlahir Rahmanir Rahim

Then which of the favours of your Lord do you deny?
[Surah Ar Rahman]

Must something occur for a person to be happy? Must something change to incite happiness? Can happiness seemingly appear from thin air? It certainly can, but truly, joys are from none other than the One.

I am happy today, superbly happy, and my life hasn't changed in even the slightest way. But that's the thing, we need not wait for happiness. It's already with us. Right here.

Some will wait for acceptance letters or graduation notifications from educational institutions before they rejoice. Others may wait for the heart to flutter and an established betrothal before happiness hits its mark. And yet others may experience joy as they anticipate the birth of a child. All of these are joyful times, no doubt. But sometimes happiness takes nothing more than realizing that just being who we are at exactly this point in our lives is an amazing blessing.

So while I enjoy these moments of happiness, I invite you to do the same. As you sit there reading these words, know that you are privileged to read. Know that you are blessed to understand. Know that you are honoured to be you, alive and safe. And know that you are charged to express gratitude as you appreciate the favours that fill your world, all of which are generous gifts from your Lord to help you along this humble path called life.

May your smiles only bring more joy. May your gratitude inspire more hearts. May your actions touch the lives of others. May your happiness meet you at your destination.


Thank you Allah.

Update: 27-02-09

Abu Turāb (May Allah be well pleased with him) said, "O people, you love three things while they are not for you. You love the self, but it belongs to its desires. You love the life spirit, but it belongs to Allah. Finally, you love wealth, but it belongs to your inheritors. In addition, you seek two things [in the world] which you do not find: (1) rest and (2) happiness. These two things are only in Paradise."

Love is in the Air?

BismiLlahir Rahmanir Rahim

So it is Valentine's Day today (technically in a few minutes), a ridiculous holiday in my lowly estimation. Telling the one you love that you love him doesn't require a special day (everyday works pretty well I'd say), and while some might argue that this day isn't "required" to attest their love but rather "honours" their love, I say "each their own." I still consider it a commercialized and borderline superficial way to celebrate love. Again, each their own.

Now let's look at two classic romantic icons. Romeo and Qays (aka Majnoon - now that I have actually read the story *ahem*). Generally (or perhaps traditionally), romantic endeavours are initiated by men, so I won't consider their counterparts.

In the Western world, for reasons which I'm unsure of, Romeo is considered a romantic ideal. Yes, he goes to party (uninvited was it? tsk tsk), his gaze falls upon a young lady, and a few hours later he declares his complete love for her. Suffice to say, I entirely agree with my English teacher who commented that Romeo is shallow. But then again, given his beloved's responses, perhaps they were a perfect match.

Now Qays' situation was different. Crazy indeed, but at least his love was grounded in a personality that he was familiar with, a childhood friend. But still, his inability to put things into perspective (as they say "love is blind") caused him to sabotage any possibility of ever sanctifying his claim of love.

In both stories, the lovebirds never unite as husband and wife and instead they all end up dying as a result of their love sickness or their attempts to materialize their wishes.

A shaykh once mentioned that Qays' love was very real. Love is the strongest emotion that a human can experience, but as Shaykh Abdullah Al Haddad once reminded us, "Do not love the one who dies." Ya Rab! He was, of course, just making a point and not saying that one could not or should not love one who dies because as we know, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) loved his family and companions, among others. The shaykh continued to say that after Qays died, God forgave him, but preserved his story as a lesson for those who came after him. [I really have to verify this because I didn't realize that Qays and Layla's story was a true story. Nonetheless, point taken.]

One might call me cynical in my assessment of romantic stories or ideas, but unless one knows me personally this can't be easily verified. As far as I see it though, romantic love and today's western educational system are very much the same.

For some, the words "I love you" alone is sufficient proof of one's love, just as a piece of paper that declares one a graduate (and thus an expert) in a certain field is proof of one's knowledge. I, on the other hand, maintain the perspective that while these are necessary supporting indications of both love and knowledge, by themselves they can never be considered the real thing.

As a poet once said, "Knowledge without action is like a wick, it gives light to others but itself dies out burning." But love without sincere action cannot even be considered love.

For me to comment any further on romantic love is to manifest the blind leading the blind. But I will say, in closing, that there are already many illusions in the world today among which we need not include true love. Love, as I understand it, can only become real if people give it its worth by directing it to something greater than just one's worldly existence. And God knows best!

On a side note, I think one awesome act of love -among its plethora of other outstanding and praiseworthy characteristics- scheduled for today is Viva Palestina - a lifeline from Britain to Gaza, which iMuslimTV explains very nicely here. May God give them success, ameen!

May the Almighty fill this world with the power of love, and may He help us all realize the worth of love for His sake, ameen.

Khidma and Cake

BismiLlahir Rahmanir Rahim

"...she was telling me that Habib Umar said that there are three things that must always accompany a student: 1) a miswak, in adherence and love of the sunnah, 2) khidma, a service of any kind to anyone, 3) good use of one's time, including a wird."

Last year (1428/2007) I was blessed to spend Eid ul Adha while at a boarding school. It was an insightful experience, though I'd be lying if I said it wasn't also emotionally challenging knowing that my family was out of reach. An emotional moment aside, it was a happy and festive day and perfectly beautiful in its own right. Due to the kind efforts of others, my housemates and I were all served sweets as we enjoyed the morning together singing nasheeds and spending time with each other. In the evening, most had their own plans which varied from meeting their brothers who resided in the neighbouring men's boarding school to visiting family or friends in the community.

That night, I was invited to one sister's house where I enjoyed a barbecue along with other Western sisters. The next day we gathered again and spent the morning on a rooftop playing games, eating cake, sipping hot chocolate and other beverages while we enjoyed each other's company and sisterly advices. I don't think those blessed sisters will ever understand what their efforts that day meant to me. Suffice to say, it is in my collection of treasured memories.

It was probably a bad idea for me to have eaten cake after not having it for so many months because the next day I was craving some more. I went to the kitchen of the boarding school looking for the large tray of leftover cake that I had seen earlier. I searched the kitchen in vain, and eventually asked a sister who was washing dishes if there was any cake left. She said no. I smiled and told her I was wishing for some but it was okay that I didn't find any. She told me to hang on and went to the fridge, pulled out a cake, and cut a slice for me. I'm assuming it was the leftover cake from a private Eid celebration. I accepted her kind gesture graciously.

Interestingly, it was from that slight interaction that Allah united our hearts and we became friends. The cake had unfortunately absorbed the various smells of the industrial-size fridge, but given so open-heartedly, it was a priceless treat.

The next day, one of my housemates came to my room to tell me that a mushrifa (supervisor) was calling me. Uh oh, I thought. As I headed to her room, I wondered if I had done anything wrong. After knocking at her door, she asked me to come in, and then she said "I heard you like cake." I laughed (in admission of my guilt) and asked how she knew. She told me that "someone" told her, and then she handed me a bowl with two or three small pieces of cake that someone had put aside especially for her explaining that she isn't one for cake. I insisted that she keep it and eat it, but she insisted that I take it. Again, all I could do was accept her kind offer graciously.

I have countless memories of being the recipient of selflessness and sacrifice. SubhanAllah. Allah is very generous. Since even before my birth, by God's infinite grace, my family has served my needs and they have all since taught me valuable lessons which remain a constant service to me now.

Beyond family, there have been countless strangers or distant acquaintances who have offered many things my way: kind words, sincere smiles, prayers, unexpected gifts, advice, and even more recently an invaluable e-book.

As I think about the great kindness that I've been privileged to receive despite being unworthy, I'm reminded of a lesson that I took from another set of sisters who I befriended as I lived amongst them. From them, I experienced and witnessed constant giving. I had nothing to give to them in return except a pair of almost new shoes and a watch, one of which was received with tears. SubhanAllah. They asked nothing of me other than my prayers.

I reflected on their lives and how their acts of selfless giving for my benefit was for none other than their Lord's sake. The same lesson was mirrored by the many sisters who I befriended in the boarding school along with a few others who wouldn't let me repay them (despite my insistence) for buying something on my behalf which I couldn't get myself.

I now know that the only way to repay such a service (khidma) from the hands of people is to live in the same way, that is, to give whatever I can, whenever I can, and to whoever I can for His sake alone, God willing. And certainly, the true benefits of such a lifestyle will benefit none other than myself, God willing.

Serving humanity is a vital obligation on every human, no matter his capability. In the least, one can smile and consider it a service, for a sincere smile touches hearts and brings joy. The sky is the limit with what we can do, but often times our self-serving egos will only give when it suits us and not when it requires a true effort.

It should also be noted that the attitude of serving people for the pleasure of Allah is beautiful to such an extent that the recipient doesn't feel guilty for accepting the effort but rather feels honoured.

As I write this, I remind myself that I need to try to rectify my ways to include this beauty in serving those within my reach so that perhaps my words here will be more than a mere lip service and my efforts can extend to those further than an arm's length away, God willing.

May Allah guide us and make us among those who continuously give of our time, knowledge, wealth, talents, and anything else we can offer for His sake alone, ameen.

Until We Meet Again

BismiLlahir Rahmanir Rahim

Sometimes people come upon the path of our lives leaving behind footprints. In each print is a fixed purpose offering us nothing more nor less than that. Often times, we don't really notice this purpose perhaps until the person is long out of our lives and then we hope, in the least, that in some way a note of thanks could follow upon the other's path. Perhaps in the form of beautiful rain to nurture the path, or maybe even a swift wind to clear the path, or maybe even just a morning hymn from a bird perched upon the tree branch overlooking the path. Any token of appreciation would do.

But such gestures of gratitude, as deeply sincere as they may be, are only in appreciation of a gift whose source is none other than the One, He whose will must prevail over our own. And while our paths may never cross again, we know that the source of that inspirational imprint leaves us not. Our return is always to Him and our debt of gratitude is to Him entirely. And quite simply, the only way to send some tranquility upon the other's path is to return to the same source and beseech His generosity.

By God's grace, there are many who have come upon my path and some of whom, in just a moment, have left treasures that fill my heart and thoughts. These, of course, were sent to me for a greater purpose which I must attempt to discover and utilize. And while I continue walking upon this path alone, their strength, humility, and beauty weave a design in my cloak inspiring me until the path ceases to exist, until the destination is illuminated before our souls.

May our destinations be the same, and may our next meeting be as sweet as the last. While you continue treading your way, know there are some thoughts turned to you and praying for your success.

May our destinations be the same. Until we meet again, by the permission of Allah alone, until we meet again...
"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]