In the least, pray.

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

If you were a mother who gave birth to a child at only five months gestation, and then you cared for him by yourself, in a new country as a refugee, at what point would you hope for easier conditions? If your child grew up never learning how to chew for himself as a result of medical malpractices and instead has only the opportunity to eat pudding or drink milk formula, would you remember to be grateful? If your son grew up to be stronger and taller than you, with unmanageable behavioural tendencies, would you have someone to turn to for support?

We take far too many things for granted. We forget many of the struggles that our parents have gone through and continue to go through on our account. Only recently, my parents worried over me as I didn't return home until late. They could have called me to see that I was alright, and I could have called them to tell them as much, except that I didn't want to disturb them as I figured that they must have gone to bed already. Little did I realize that they could not sleep knowing that I wasn't home yet. I hate even a single minute of worry that my family has endured on my account, but those minutes have been many. Nonetheless, at the same time, I am tremendously grateful to know that there are people in this world who care about me and my well being and who I can count on for support in my times of need. Praise be to God for these blessings.

Tonight though, I think many of us will have a difficult time putting our minds at ease as we think of a lady in our community who is facing a very difficult time in her life today, along with her son. Today she must admit him into the care of a mental hospital, and as much as she doesn't want to and as much as he doesn't want to go, they have no other option. Caring for him as a single mother has finally reached its limits, and this seems the only reasonable option, at least for the moment. I don't know what he might be thinking right now, but I'm sure he is insecure in his new environment and scared. Both mother and son have and will continue to shed more tears during this change in their lives, and for those of us who hear of their story, we seem to have little to offer them in support.

Pray for them and all the others who are facing troubled and lonely times. Pray for their ease in this world and their peace of mind. Pray for them to have patience during these trials and relief of these hardships. Pray that God opens a way for us to use ourselves as tools in His service helping to ease the difficulty of many situations faced by many of our sisters and brothers worldwide. Ameen.

Good Company

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

As the sun and rain work together, they are the means by which the earth is nourished, vegetation is fed, and life is restored. Such an intimate interplay is a great blessing from God, He who has power over all things. Interestingly, this same interaction continued over the last few days as Camp Nur 2009 was in effect. The weather easily and swiftly alternated between sunny and rainy such that as we enjoyed ourselves outside in the brightness of the sun, we could hear the rumbling of distant thunder. It was quite a fascinating and fitting interchange.

Most would consider rainfall during a summer camp to be something of a downer, but for me, it was nothing short of a great blessing. It is during gentle rainfall that we have a chance to witness God's mercy, and it is during bright sunshine that we can reflect on His compassion. Very practically speaking, rain can serve as medicine for the spiritual heart and the wondering mind. Supplications to God during the time that rain descends are answered. I tried to remember this as I arrived at the campsite and it started to drizzle. While I enjoyed the freshness and coolness of the rain, I attempted to remind myself not to take it for granted. SubhanAllahi wa bihamdihi, subhanAllahi al Azheem.

I cannot fully articulate the impact that this camp experience has had on me. Suffice to say, it was far from a normal camp phenomenon. The Muslim world has just entered the month of Sha'baan which is said to be the month of Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings be upon him. During our four days and three nights at camp, we had the opportunity to sit at the feet of a scholar who is a descendant of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him and his family. This fact in itself makes the reality of these past few days indescribable.

Shaykh Abdallah Al Haddad's involvement in the camp was heart moving to say the least. His presence, one that is always clothed with compassion and care, never failed to bring a smile to my face or heart. "Kayfa haaluki ya Farzeen?" he would ask me each day. "Anti bekhair?" In some ways, I regret not being in his presence more often over the last few days, but I know that Allah gave me what I needed in the exact dose that I needed it in lessons, good company, and simple fun.

There were only about fifty campers at Camp Nur this year. It was a small group, but they were gems. Each and every single one of them was a shining star. It really is a wonder that I can say this, as most times there is a rowdy one here or there who can't quite be trusted to keep to the rules. And while some of the young women under my care did push the boundaries of rules, they never went so far as to be unreasonable or rude.

I really enjoyed their company, and I benefited tremendously from it. It was my complete honour and privilege to play with them, swim with them, learn with them, read Quran with them, sing with them, eat with them, pray with them, laugh with them, see their excitement, and witness their challenges. In their inclination to whine about the nuisance of feasting mosquitoes and long walks on muddy trails, I invited them to see goodness in the world around them. And my only hope with respect to my interaction with them is that they've taken to heart this one simple invitation.

The organizers of the camp are a different story. Though gems in their own right, to me they seemed to be as brilliant as distant planets that are visible in our night sky. They glowed in their character, speech, and general presence. I'm sure that if the whole camp experience was put on mute, I would have benefited by simply observing their behaviour which included both subtle and bright smiles, hearty hugs, a gentle stroke over a child's head, a twinkle of the eyes, a knowing nod, appropriate frowns, and praiseworthy gentleness. Their demeanor spoke to me far more than their words, and I'm still struggling to encompass such beauty. In many ways, I didn't belong amongst them, but Allah placed me there and I pray that I will be able to utilize the benefits of such wonderful companionship.

It's only the second day after camp, but I miss their company. Along with the wisdom that our dear Shaykh Abdallah shared with us, it was food for my heart and soul. But as I think about my time there and its end, I know that I would not want it to have been prolonged, but rather I must focus my energy on making a sincere effort to find and practice the good which has been delivered directly to me. Thus, I am reminded of some profound words that were shared with me in recent months, "As it's said, if the veils were lifted you wouldn't choose for yourself other than what Allah has chosen."

Thank You Allah.

Smooth Sailing

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

In a deep, oceanic valley lies a deep thought that cannot be reached. The tongue could not move except out of complete necessity, and there remained that thought.

Now in type perhaps its silence can be removed, so with the deserving prophetic greetings of peace may it begin. But there is nothing to follow, and silence is the favoured option of the wise. Articulations betray one's secrets. Deeper meanings of simple words are easily captured by listening beyond the words themselves. This ultimate betrayal of the the soul begins and ends with the escape of just a single, untimely breath.

My nature is inclined to silence, though I've since overwhelmed it and learned to engage the amicable with both guarded insights or free thoughts. But it is in silence that sweetness settles upon the tongue. Eventually, what follows is tastier than any of the hasty appetizers that might have been served to avoid initial uncertainties. It's a meal well worth waiting for, perhaps. But then again, fasting is a gratifying option too. Let God choose the path, and whichever of the two prevails shall be superior.

As a friend gave voice to the challenges that life's directions offered, I listened. Offerings are only that, simple options. The choice need not be her own as it would necessarily be flawed. Chase, and chase, and chase some more, but you'll find your fruits at the end to be outwardly decent, perhaps even beautiful, but inwardly tasteless. Let Him choose, and you're guaranteed sweetness in every oasis you encounter.

I can regret a lot, but it would be a wasted effort. Instead, I thank my Gracious and Kind Lord for His many blessings, and I smile from my heart, deep within, wherein lies that thought. The thought that this life is only a journey. He will send us the provisions that we need as we feign self-dependent navigation. And in the silence of the night when deep thoughts can be heard, we will savour the pleasures of submission.
"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]