Silver Crowns

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

رَبِّ أَوۡزِعۡنِىٓ أَنۡ أَشۡكُرَ نِعۡمَتَكَ ٱلَّتِىٓ أَنۡعَمۡتَ عَلَىَّ وَعَلَىٰ وَٲلِدَىَّ وَأَنۡ أَعۡمَلَ صَـٰلِحًا تَرۡضَٮٰهُ وَأَدۡخِلۡنِى بِرَحۡمَتِكَ فِى عِبَادِكَ ٱلصَّـٰلِحِينَ
 My Lord, arouse me to be thankful for Thy favour wherewith Thou hast favoured me and my parents, and to do good that shall be pleasing unto Thee, and include me in (the number of) Thy righteous slaves. 
(Surah An Naml - 27, Ayah 19)


It's my mother's birthday today and incidentally my father's birthday in a week inshaAllah. May Allah continue to bless them and grant them His good pleasure. May He have mercy on their parents filling their graves with His nur, and grant them and all their loved ones a good ending, ameen.

We long stopped acknowledging birthdays with gifts or anything more than a few words - if that. I suppose none in the family care for it as a celebration, but I do believe it is an important day to some extent. It is a reminder of life and an opportunity to reflect on where we have been and towards that which we're heading.

Celebrating our own lives seems to feed a culture of "me, myself, and I." Instead, I consider birthdays as a day of gratitude. It is a day when we must make a point of turning to our Lord and thanking Him for His continuous graces. It is only by His command and will that we continue to breathe and that life remains in us. How absurd it is that we exalt ourselves on a day when humility should be at its peak.

Secondary to gratitude to our Lord is at least a word of thanks to our parents. Raising a child is a 24-hour-a-day labour of love. It is rifled with challenges and heartache and adorned with patience and selflessness. And it ends only at death. 

It is at the hands of our parents that many of us build foundations that steady us throughout our lives.  Let us not neglect and undermine a great service because it seems all too common. I suspect a lifetime of gratitude would not recompense our parents for even their preparations for our births. In the least, it would do us well to acknowledge their sacrifices and service if not to return their efforts by serving them well in their lives too.

February 2, 2015

وَٱخۡفِضۡ لَهُمَا جَنَاحَ ٱلذُّلِّ مِنَ ٱلرَّحۡمَةِ وَقُل رَّبِّ ٱرۡحَمۡهُمَا كَمَا رَبَّيَانِى صَغِيرً۬ا 
And lower unto them the wing of submission through mercy, and say: My Lord! Have mercy on them both as they did care for me when I was little. 
(Surah Al Isra -17, Ayah 24)

رَبَّنَا ٱغۡفِرۡ لِى وَلِوَٲلِدَىَّ وَلِلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ يَوۡمَ يَقُومُ ٱلۡحِسَابُ
Our Lord! Forgive me and my parents and believers on the day when the account is cast.
(Surah Ibrahim - 14 - Ayah 41) 

A Return

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

O ye who believe! Turn unto Allah in sincere repentance! It may be that your Lord will remit from you your evil deeds and bring you into Gardens underneath which rivers flow, on the day when Allah will not abase the Prophet and those who believe with him. Their light will run before them and on their right hands; they will say: Our Lord! Perfect our light for us, and forgive us! Lo! Thou art Able to do all things.(Ayah 8, Surah 66) 
I'm moved to speechlessness as I recognize that I, like you, have been granted the honour and an explicit invitation to come back to my Gracious Creator. How far we sometimes go, and yet He calls us back again and again, opening the doors of renewal constantly. With every prayer and good deed, during every third part of the night, during every Thursday night, on every Friday, throughout each day of this blessed month of Rajab, among many more times in the year, we are called to rectify our hearts and ways.

I find Rajab particularly touching in its meaning. Being the "month of Allah," we are reminded of our outstanding debt of repentance and we are granted promises of finding a way to return to our Lord specifically in these days and nights. 

We can never hide from our Lord, despite the shame of our lowliness, but why should we ever want to? He is the only One who deserves all praises and servitude and there are no secrets with Him. He calls us to Him despite our insincerity, arrogance, laziness, and weaknesses. Ya Rabb, laka kullu al hamd wa kullu ash shukr. O Lord, all praises and gratitude belong to You alone.

In these days when most of the world is enduring extreme challenges and human rights are violated to the worst degree and in the ugliest of ways, few of us can sleep well at night. I think about my Arabic teacher who is now in Iraq with her husband and young children. I wonder about their states, if they have food to eat and what they possibly witness in their days and hear into their nights. I listen to my neighbour telling me about her parents and adult children in Syria. I admire her parents' wisdom and faith and their restful states with their Lord and His decree. I am at a loss for comforting words as my friend, her husband, and their young son are faced with a forced return to Yemen where people are killing and being killed without just cause making daily life a struggle. Have a good opinion of Allah. To Him we entrust all our affairs. I shed a tear or more for all those who are persecuted, who watch helplessly as their children starve to death or who spend their days demanding that the world come together for the rights of their family members - men and women - who are wrongly imprisoned, tortured, and killed. I admire their strength and I pray for ease in all their affairs and peace in all their hearts.

And yet each day, I am faced with the meaning of potential as I spend my hours with 5-year-old children. I wonder what type of adults they might grow into and what they might need to figure out this insane world and be of benefit to it. 

I hate many things I see in myself, and I pray that despite my pathetic offerings, Allah will accept my attempts to be a better servant of Him. May Allah the Almighty and Merciful guide us all and let the miracles of the Quran manifest themselves to us inwardly and outwardly. May He protect us all from the evils of ourselves, mankind, and jinn. May He unite families in all that is beautiful and may He heal our hearts. May He make us from the people of the Quran, inwardly and outwardly. May He make us, all our loved ones, and our descendants from among those who receive His good pleasure and a sweet return to Him. O Allah, have mercy on us and this ummah. O Allah, shower your mercy on us and on our deceased. Ya Rabb, fill the graves of Your servants with the sights and scents of Jannah, and let us join them in the best of states as we return back to You. O Allah, let us die for Your sake and accept from us our repentance and efforts to make aright the wrongs in our actions and hearts. Ameen.

ربَّنَا اغْفِرْ لَنَا ذُنُوبَنَا وَإِسْرَافَنَا فِي أَمْرِنَا وَثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَنَا وانصُرْنَا عَلَى الْقَوْمِ الْكَافِرِينَ
Our Lord, forgive us our sins and our transgressions, make our feet firm and assist us against those who reject faith. (3:147)

Lost In Translation

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

I can't help but feel the way that I do. With a pitted feeling in my gut and some nervousness too. It's as though I have something big in life to face, but no, this is nothing new. I've left before and returned too. It wasn't fun. Neither here nor there. Then why leave in the first place? This was and is my fate. But with almost two years building, it's a lot for me to taste.

Previously it was a year, 11.5 months to be exact. I had few reservations and no potential worries of the impact. Perhaps I was ignorant and expected that maybe nothing would have changed. How overly self-concerned to think that anyone's affairs would stop for me. But it's not that. It is beautiful for experiences to be free. Lord knows how pleasing it is to see. But again, it remains that I am still me, and I cannot see, even now, anything but a decline. I am not trying to whine but only trying to find something much deeper and greater, and to feel assured that all was not in vain. How much of life will be the same? How much worse will I be? Is there a chance that I can be a better me?

So gracious is my Lord, constantly. But specifically, in those days long past, Who sent an unexpected friend, a golden pearl, to whom some details were passed. But even greater, with whom the meanings and essences were clarified. Intensified. Partially realized. I have lived with those words by my side, inspired I'm sure by the One who guides. And I try to remember the clarity of that brief encounter and the confusion that followed, but perhaps I have lost more than I know. The ability to decipher. The ability to grow. No, I do not accept. There is nothing to regret. There is nothing lost, but only another beautiful bridge that is nearly crossed. 

I'm still struggling to prepare the inward to meet the outward. I have weak answers to the big questions. All attempts failed at an introspection. Expectant are the tears, for they are my glue. Always offering me a subtle clue. Ways of the heart are built, as you know, in parts. Insights and experiences are weaved together as brilliant art. It is what we need, the process. And by it, we can truly reflect on life and attempt to assess. Are we nearing our personal best?

I have changed, but meanings are often lost in translation and perhaps I will not be understood, by myself or others. I must learn to translate the essence of the meanings and not so much the words. The strength of my intentions and not so much the weakness of my actions. I must learn to forgive what I do not understand. To respond with a helping hand. I must learn to close my eyes and hold my tongue. To speak with thoughtfulness and to think without emotion. I must learn to unhear what I cannot handle and let patient gratitude be my candle. I must want for myself nothing from the hand of another. For truly, I seek only my Lord's good pleasure.

اللهم إني أسألك رضاك والجنة وأعوذ بك من سخطك والنار

"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]