Day 19: The reality of this world

Asalaamu Alaaikum

Another tragedy has occurred in the world, adding to the already overflowing list. It seems like our news feeds are dominated by heartbreaking news to the point where we have become desensitized. In our minds, I know we are guilty of weighing events against each other making one less serious, less catastrophic, and thus devoting less focus and attention to it. This is our reality. Even so, it isn’t a new reality, these trials and tragedies were experienced tenfold by previous generations. This isn’t stated to belittle what we are going through but rather to put things into perspective and to remind us that with Allaah we can make it through any difficulty. Reflect on the following hadith:

Khabbaab ibn al­Aratt (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “We complained to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) when he was reclining on his cloak in the shade of the Ka’bah. We said to him: ‘Why do you not ask Allaah to help us (grant us victory)? Why do you not pray to Allaah for us?’ He said, ‘A man from the people before you would be placed in a hole dug for him, then they would bring a saw and cut his head in two, yet that would not make him renounce his faith. They would use an iron comb to drag the flesh and nerves from his bones, yet that would not make him renounce his faith. By Allaah, this matter will be completed (i.e. Islam will be perfected and will prevail) until a rider travelling from Sana’aa’ to Hadramawt will fear nobody but Allaah or the attack of a wolf on his sheep, but you are too impatient.’ [Sahih al-Bukhari]

Remember:

This world is a cycle of good and bad events, of blessings and hardships, of riches and poverty. We cannot expect it to always be rosy and beautiful because it is not our final abode, it’s a temporary home filled with tribulations.

On the authority of Abdullah ibn Umar (ra), who said: The Messenger of Allah (saw) took me by the shoulder and said, “Be in this world as though you were a stranger or a wayfarer.”

And Ibn Umar (ra) used to say, “In the evening do not expect [to live until] the morning, and in the morning, do not expect [to live until] the evening. Take [advantage of] your health before times of sickness, and [take advantage of] your life before your death.” [Bukhari]

Jannah is our final destination, inshaAllaah.

Remember:

In Jannah: there will be no grief, no tears, no sadness – only everlasting delights and comfort.

No tragedies – only bliss and satisfaction.

No shame or guilt – only rewards for past good deeds and forgiveness for transgressions.

No trauma or pain – only joy and contentment.

Imagine that life? It cannot be purchased, we can only strive for it with faith, good deeds, patience, and perseverance.

So, Brothers and Sisters, let’s keep ourselves Jannah-focused – Jannah-oriented despite whatever tragedy befalls us next. Let’s keep the bigger goal in mind and patiently preserve through the difficulties of this dunya.

May Allaah grant increase us in sabr and imaan, ameen.

Stay tuned for more reflections!

Wasalamu Alaaikum

Day 18: “We found our fathers following…”

Asalaamu Alaaikum

Alhamdulilah after a heatwave over the weekend followed by hailstorms, we’re experiencing beautiful weather today here in Minnesota. My son and I spent most of the day resting, grateful for the cool breeze blowing in through every window. Alhamdulilah. I thought long and hard about today’s post and several topics came to mind. The one I chose is inspired by verses from the Qur’an. Allah mentions in several Surahs people from the past who used their forefathers as an excuse for their ignorance and wrongdoings. For example the following ayaat:

“When it is said to them: “Follow what Allah has sent down.” They say: “Nay! We shall follow what we found our fathers following.” (Would they do that!) even though their fathers did not understand anything nor were they guided.”

Surah Al-Baqarah (2:170)

And when they commit a Fahisha (evil deed, going round the Ka’bah in naked state, every kind of unlawful sexual intercourse, etc.), they say: “We found our fathers doing it, and Allah has commanded us of it.” Say: “Nay, Allah never commands of Fahisha. Do you say of Allah what you know not?

Surah Al-A’raaf (7:28)

They said:”We found our fathers worshipping them.” He said: “Indeed you and your fathers have been in manifest error.”

Surah Al-Anbiyah’ (21:53-54)

There are numerous other ayaat. These verses really got me thinking of my generation, Those young adults who have now finished school, started families and are walking the same path as their parents and forefathers in terms of raising a Muslim family. I am specifically referring to first and second generation immigrants / refugees.  Our parents much like those from previous generations have their shortcomings in both deen and dunya.

Perhaps they mixed culture heavily with the religion so much so that a fine line was indistinguishable thereby introducing foreign mindsets, actions and beliefs into the religion which we then followed.

Perhaps  they indulged in haraam through income, speech or actions thereby setting a bad example for us.

Perhaps they raised us strictly with a sole purpose of dunya in mind, thereby making us feel that we are unworthy without a degree, good job and our purpose only  being a retirement plan for our elders and relatives.

Perhaps they caused us harm physically, emotionally or in other ways and in other spheres of our lives.

Perhaps they neglected us and weren’t emotionally available while we dealt with the identity crisis of being between two cultures, two religions, two languages, two different ways of life.

Perhaps they compared us and pushed us to compete with community members, relatives or even siblings to the point where we started to harbor ill feelings about others or ourselves.

Perhaps they brushed aside our problems. Our anxieties. Our worries. Our mental disorders. And instead of acknowledging them, shamed us and called us ungrateful.

Perhaps they didn’t really fear Allaah and were only Muslims by name.

Perhaps their deen weakened in this new and foreign land and they left behind Salah, Zakah, Fasting, Hijab and other compulsory actions.

Perhaps they were not model parents and never made us a priority. Never made our Deen a priority.

And perhaps they were guilty of all of this? So they were, and they and their deeds will be held to account, but what about us, their children? Will we follow the good they did and disregard the rest? Or we will use them as an excuse, a crutch, as previous nations did. That because they did all of the above, we will too. Or that we only committed such and such, or believed such and such, or left such and such because they did? Or that we can never be better people because of them.

How will those answers bode with Allaah? Not very well. The truth is we live in a time of accessible information and knowledge. It is practically at our fingertips. Therefore we do not have an excuse to be weak in the Deen, to be negligent of obligatory actions, to continue ineffective parenting techniques, to ignore the emotional and social needs of children, to ignore our real purpose in life.

We have no excuse, and we will have no excuse on the Day of Judgement. To simply attribute our faults to our forefathers is to remove responsibility from our shoulders, to escape accountability. And that, like with previous nations mentioned in the Qur’an, will simply not fly. Let’s take responsibility for our own lives. Our Deen. Our children. Our here and our hereafter, InshaAllaah. May Allaah grant us the tawfiq (ability). Ameen

Stay tuned for more reflections!

Wasalaamu Alaiakum

 

Day 17: On Contentment (Ridhaa)

Asalaamu Alaiakum

Today’s reflection is a blogpost I wrote four years ago. The topic is ridhaa or the Islamic concept of contentment.

Contentment. ‘O what an excellent state to be in! May Allaah grant us contentment in all of our affairs. Truly the origin of everything is Allaah azza wa jal, so let us strive not to be angry  upset, saddened, heart-broken about any of the events in this worldly life. For nothing happens without the Permission and Decree of Allaah and nothing is Decreed by Him except that which is khair (good) for us as believers. Whatever befell us is not in the hands of simple human beings (they are just as weak and insignificant as we are in terms of power). Allaah created them out of dirt just like he did us.

I will be honest, this morning I started to reflect on some issue of the past and this reflection, coupled with the whispering and prodding of Shaytan,  brought me to a discontented place I did not want to be in. Thereafter, I searched for some reminders on ridhaa to remind my heart. And Alhamdulilah the reminders worked. InshaAllaah I hope they bring your heart the same sense of tranquility and peace. Verily the reminders benefit the believers. 

Here are some Qur’anic ayaat, ahadith, sayings of the salaf and a poem on the topic of contentment. may Allaah help us to achieve it.

Allaah says:

“If only they had been satisfied with what Allaah and His Messenger gave them and said, ‘Sufficient for us is Allaah…’” [At-Tawbah: 59]

And Allaah says:

’Whoever works righteousness ” whether male or female ” while he (or she) is a true believer (of Islamic Monotheism) verily, to him We will give a good life (in this world with respect, contentment and lawful provision), and We shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do (i.e. Paradise in the Hereafter)“ [al-Nahl 16:97]

And Allaah says:

 “Verily, in the remembrance of Allaah do hearts find rest.” [al-Ra‘d 13:28]

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) expressed this in a saheeh hadeeth in which he said:

’How wonderful is the situation of the believer, for all his affairs are good. If something good happens to him, he gives thanks for it and that is good for him; if something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience, and that is good for him. This does not apply to anyone but the believer.“ (Narrated by Muslim, no. 2999).

And the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:

“Strive for that which will benefit you and seek the help of Allaah, and do not be helpless. If anything (bad) happens to you, do not say, …If only I had done such-and-such, then such-and-such would have happened.”

And he (sallallahu alayhi wa salam) said:

“Whoever wakes up safely in his home and is healthy in his body and has provisions for his day, would have acquired all the worldly possessions he is in need of.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Abu Ad-Dardaa’, may Allaah be pleased with him, said:

“Allaah likes that His slave is content with whatever He decrees upon him.”

Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allaah be pleased with him, said:

“Allaah is just and fair and Has thus made happiness lie in contentment and certainty in Allaah, (while He) made grief and sorrow lie in doubt and discontentment.”

‘Umar ibn Al-Khattaab, may Allaah be pleased with him, wrote to Abu Moosaa, may Allaah be pleased with him, saying:

“All good lies in contentment, so if you can achieve this state then do so. Otherwise, persevere.”

Maymoon ibn Mahraan, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said:

“He who is discontent with the decree of Allaah has no cure for his stupidity.”

Yahyaa ibn Mu’aad, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said when answering a question about when a person is considered as content, he said;

“He reaches the level of dealing with Allaah (and would therefore say to Him) as follows; O Lord! Whatever You give me, I will accept; whenever You deprive me (of anything), I will be content; If you call, I will respond.”

Imaam Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said:

“There are three types of contentment: (The first is) being content with having to perform acts of worship, and attaining this type (of contentment) is an act of worship in itself; (the second is) being content with afflictions, which comprises of two parts, one part is recommended and the other is mandatory, the mandatory part is in the form of perseverance and the recommended part is to be content with the affliction, which is the highest level that few can achieve; (the third is) being content with and accepting evil and sins, which is prohibited.”

Shaikh al-Uthaymeen, may Allaah have mercy on him said,

“From Allaah’s Blessings on a servant is that he be granted contentment, whether that be regarding his residence, his clothes, his means of transport, or his children.  For when a person is content with what Allaah has given him, he will remain rich.” [Bulughul-Maraam, vol. 6, p. 272.]

Poem by Bint Qalin:

Sitting on a bus, reflecting on this journey, of life, love, living loving and pain; Of strife, hardship, of happiness… 

So it’s true, Contentment is not to be found in material things. It’s in the heart, that is the true richness.  Happiness is not an end or a goal to be reached, or met. It’s a state of mind. Reflection, time, reading, experience, the words of my Beloved have taught me this. Now reader take benefit from this wisdom. From this lesson.

Lastly, to end with the best gem, a duaa the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa salaam) used to recite frequently:

“O Allah, make me content with Your decree, so that I may not hasten what You have delayed, or to delay what You have hastened.” (Al-Albani)

Stay tuned for more reflections!

Wasalamu Alaaikum

Day 16: Half of Ramadan….Already Gone!

Asalaamu Alaiakum

We are past the midpoint! Half of Ramadan has already gone by. It’s both a saddening and encouraging reality. It’s saddening because it means we are nearing the end, and who knows if we will reach another Ramadan or even complete the rest of this one. It’s also encouraging as it shows Allah’s favor on us to observe half of this blessed month. A favor we shouldn’t squander or take lightly. Perhaps during this Ramadan, we will be counted among those who are forgiven and granted mercy.

I spent the 15th (last night) hosting an iftaar at my place for several Sisters. By now you probably are aware that I’m a big foodie, so I was happy to have a reason to cook up a storm. Since it was 90 degrees, I avoided anything fried and instead opted for tandoori rice, sambuusa cheese fries (I just made that a thing), chickpea salad, zatar pita chips, smoothies and Somali-Arabic tea. It was a very lovely gathering. We spent an hour or two discussing the Deen and the direction we are going as an Ummah. We also spoke about attaining knowledge from the correct sources and that sadly not every charistmatic speaker with a camera is qualified to teach (at least more than heart softeners). And do not get me wrong, heart softeners have their place. We need them as an Ummah as our hearts are growing dark with every passing day. However, we should not neglect the foundations, the basics of our Deen. This is the only way we can move forward as an Ummah. There is a frightening narration (shared below) about the Day of Judgement which shows that if we ignore the foundations, we will eventually be left with empty words that we do not know the meaning of.

Hudhayfah ibn al-Yaman said, “The Prophet said, ‘Islam will become worn out like clothes are, until there will be no-one who knows what fasting, prayer, charity and rituals are. The Qur’an will disappear in one night, and no ayah will be left on earth. Some groups of old people will be left who will say, ‘We heard our fathers saying la ilaha illa Allah, so we repeated it.’ Silah asked Hudhayfah, “What will saying la ilaha illa Allah do for them when they do not know what prayer, fasting, ritual and charity are?” Hudhayfah ignored him; then Silah repeated his question three times, and each time Hudayfah ignored him. Finally he answered, “O Silah, it will save them from Hell”, and said it three times. [Ibn Majah]

SubhanAllaah! Imagine an Ummah that is not even aware of how to pray, fast or give charity? May Allaah not count us among those people.

I benefited greatly from the discussion we had last night surrounding this topic and it reaffirmed my desire to seek real knowledge and to use heart softeners and stories only when appropriate (and not make that a foundation of my Deen). I hope this short reflection was beneficial to you, inshaAllaah!

Stay tuned for more reflections!

Wasalaamu Alaaikum

Day 15: Newlyweds, Newborns & Toddlers in Ramadan [Part 3]

Asalaamu Alaiakum

This last part is about our teeny tiny toddlers! As I mentioned last Ramadan, I had a newborn. That little bundle of joy is now a walking, talking, energetic toddler maashaAllaah. He reminds me of the energizer bunny, I have such a hard time keeping up with him! As I did with the last post, I will share five tips for mamas who are caring for toddlers during this blessed month. I hope you find the advice useful.

  1. Patience, Patience, Patience –  It’s a trying time. You’re most likely fasting and on top of that trying to muster enough energy to make it through the day, stay consistent with prayers, perform good deeds and make iftaar. A toddler is a handful as you’ve probably realized through observation or first-hand experience. Don’t fall apart and loose heart although it’s very tempting to do so. Take advantage of this blessed month and race towards khair. Remember that Ramadan is a time for programming the mind, soul and heart. Ramadan is a time for disciplining ourselves and adopting good habits. My friend Latifa posted a reflection recently that connects to this point, she wrote:

Allah Azza Wajal informs us in the Quran that the goal of Ramadan is to attain taqwa or piety. How is this done? By gaining discipline. Every action in Ramadan leads to increased discipline, which is a necessary component to any kind of success. You could be the most talented person and have the best of opportunities available but without discipline, it will all fall apart. Through fasting and worship, we discipline our bodies and souls, to constantly challenge ourselves and either break up bad habits or acquire good ones.” [Latifa Aimaq]

I couldn’t agree more. Ramadan is an opportune time to build our sabr system. I understand taking care of a toddler is a monumental task and we are bound to loose our patience every now and then. However, what could be better than exercising control and exemplifying mercy in the month of mercy?

  1. Preoccupy Their Minds – This goes without saying, toddlers have a very short attention span, in fact my son’s attention span is about 2 minutes. Therefore, it’s good to have several activities planned out for each day. I have a little basket full of books, Muslim dolls, blocks and other items to preoccupy Uthmaan. His favorite toy though is my phone! Some other ideas which I found while browsing online are:
    • Playing with slime (created from cornflour, water and food coloring)
    • Going to the Park / Water Park
    • Educational videos and songs
    • Coloring / Painting
  2. Model Good Behavior / Good Deeds – I mentioned in a previous post that my son loves to imitate us when we pray. In fact he reminds me to pray sometimes! He grabs the prayer rug and my garbasaar (outer garment) and brings it to me as if to say, ‘Mama isn’t it time for Dhur?!’ It’s very important that we model the best behavior, as our toddlers are observing and absorbing every second! In addition to prayer, you can model good deeds like charity, showing kindness, sharing, making duaa, fasting and being patient!
  3. Get a Routine Down –I was never a true believer in routines until my son reached 6 months. We finally got a naptime / bedtime down and it was like a dream! Baby got the rest he needed and I got the me time I was craving for so long! Uthmaan came down with a cold/flu recently and that totally threw off our schedule. I’m trying to start fresh now. One thing to keep in mind is be consistent! Don’t let those cute little eyes fool you! You’ll need strict routines especially during Ramadan when you have even more on your plate.
  4. Create Ramadan Memories – A last tip is to create lasting Ramadan memories. Kids have long memories for special events and times of the year. Go crazy with Ramadan decor and decorations. Purchase or write Ramadan-themed books, encourage the little ones (age 3 onward) to fast even for an hour. Include them in all of your Ramadan prep and your daily goals. This will not only preoccupy your toddler and keep them out of trouble, it will also help you and baby bond and grow together spiritually.

Stay tuned for more reflections!

Wasalamu Alaiakum

Day 14: Newlyweds, Newborns and Toddlers in Ramadan [Part 2]

Asalaamu Alaaikum

Here is the second part of the series. This time the focus is on newborns in Ramadan! Last year, I was 2 months post-partum when Ramadan began. A few months ago, my friend  asked if I could write about the experience for an online magazine and I admitted I had very little to contribute as that time was such a blur! Furthermore, I was with my family – my parents, a tribe of Sisters and 3 Brothers – while my husband was working a few states away. Safe to say, I had a lot of help! I didn’t do it on my own and I would never claim to. Nevertheless, being a first-time mother is still challenging even with a huge support network. In this post, I will share 5 tips for first-time moms who have newborns in Ramadan.

  1. Prioritize Your Health Before Anything Else– You know that saying about a candle burning out while giving light to others? Yeah, so don’t be that candle. You need to take care of yourself and make your health the number one priority! This includes getting enough rest, eating healthy, putting off fasting (if it is too difficult), taking an hour or even a day for yourself to recover and re-energize. The bottom line is: self-care and self-love mama!
  2. Use your support system! For some sisters, this might be their immediate family, for others only their husband and yet others have only themselves. May Allaah make it easy! If you are lacking a support network, find one in your city or even online. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been comforted by some stranger thousands of miles away on a forum without them even realizing it! What I usually do is google whatever issue I’m facing and lo and behold at the minimum there are a handful of other mothers who are experiencing the same issue, symptoms, fears, anxieties, etc. Reading also helps! Stock up on books about the first year or just buy one for leisure reading. If you are breastfeeding you might even be able to multitask and read (don’t worry you’ll get there!).
  3. To Fast or Not to Fast– This is a question mothers everywhere struggle with. Should I fast and get the full experience of Ramadan? Or should I hold off and make up the days later in the year? This question can only be answered by YOU! Are you healthy enough to fast? Are you strong enough? Will fasting bring difficulties or harm to yourself or baby? While answering these questions, keep in mind the rulings for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers:

Shaykh Ibn Baaz said in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa (15/224): 

With regard to pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, it is proven in the hadeeth of Anas ibn Maalik al-Ka’bi, narrated by Ahmad and the authors of al-Sunanwith a saheeh isnaad, that the Prophet  (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) granted them a dispensation allowing them not to fast, and he regarded them as being like travelers. From this it is known that they may not fast but they have to make up the fasts later, just like travelers. The scholars stated that they are only allowed not to fast if fasting is too difficult for them, as in the case of one who is sick, or if they fear for their children. And Allaah knows best. 

If you choose not to fast, do not feel guilty! I felt guilty last year and this year for not fasting. However, when I carefully analyzed my situation and how much I was risking by going without food or drink for 16+ hours, I felt better. I know that I am putting my health first and that Allaah made that allowance for me, and other mothers, as a mercy.

  1. Gain Rewards – If you’re not fasting, or even if you are, you might be wondering what good deeds you can do considering you’re nursing a newborn and are probably home for the whole day / night. My advice is broaden your horizons and renew your intentions to make everything a good deed! In addition to making dhikr and duaa, speaking khair-ful things, thinking khair-ful thoughts, you can take advantage of the following good deeds:
    1. Breastfeeding – Reap the rewards of nursing, both in this world and the next!
    2. Feeding a fasting person – You will get the same reward they do even if you aren’t fasting!
    3. Advising / supporting other mothers – Whoever leads to good will get the same reward as the one who did that good. Furthermore, Allaah helps and protects those who help and protect their brothers and sisters, really humanity in general!
    4. Seclude yourself – Take a few minutes or an hour to seclude yourself for the sake of Allaah. In this hour you can reflect on your shortcomings, your strengths and your overall plan to gain the Pleasure and Jannah of Allaah.
    5. Wake others up for Suhoor – Is your baby keeping you up at all hours? A positive aspect of this struggle is you can wake up the rest of the house for suhoor. You’ll get plenty of duaas for that!
    6. Host a halaqah – Invite other Sisters over to discuss Ramadan goals, share iftaar and pray!
    7. Pray taraweeh – Try to pray taraweeh by yourself or with family at home while your baby sleeps.
    8. Give charity- purify your income, deeds, heart and family by giving for the sake of Allaah!
    9. Make Dawah – Join an online space to make Dawah (share the message of Islaam) with Muslims and non-Muslims.
    10. Get creative- intend that your waking up, sleeping, getting up to nurse baby and everything in between is for the sake of Allah. Earn rewards for everyday actions!
  2. This Too Shall Pass – If you are having a difficult time with your newborn, as is the case with most mothers, please remember that this is only a short period of the greater journey of motherhood. Though it feels like forever, you will get through it. Your baby will be up and running around in a matter of months. All of the time you invested and everything you have sacrificed will pay off Insha’Allah, believe me! Have sabr and ask Allah to increase you in it so that you may get through this stage of motherhood.

Stay tuned for the next part about toddlers!

Waslaamu Alaaikum

Day 13: Newlyweds, Newborns & Toddlers in Ramadan [Part 1]

Asalaamu Alaaikum

Please excuse the delay in posts! I didn’t fall off the face of the earth, although I was very close to. I’ve been having a fierce battle with fatigue, and so far fatigue is the victor and is up 3-0. Alhamdulilah I’m feeling a little better today. To make up for lost time, I have planned a 3-part series of posts. The posts will be separate but they will all be shared today so that tomorrow I’m back on schedule inshaAllaah. In terms of content, these posts are dedicated to three subjects: newlyweds, newborns, and toddlers in Ramadan. The first part is a short article I wrote last year and which I revised. It’s centered on how newlyweds can have the most beneficial Ramadan experience. Enjoy, inshaAllaah!

10 Tips for Newlyweds in Ramadan

InshaAllaah you are well and in the best of states. Technically my husband and I are still in the ‘newlywed period’ as we have been married two years now! Alhamdulilah. So that’s two Ramadans down the belt and now we are in the middle of our third. Though we shared the first Ramadan together (as it was only a month after our wedding), the last year was more of a long-distance experience as I was in California and my husband was working in Minnesota. Now we are all together, with our one year old, in the land of 10,000 lakes!

So far, it’s been both challenging and rewarding in terms of the long hours, work schedule (for him) and trying to master being a stay-at-home (summer) mom for me. Overall though, I feel it’s brought us together as a family.

We got together and thought of 10 tips to share with newlyweds everywhere on how to have the best first, second or third Ramadan. Seeing as we have all this experience now (lol)! We hope the tips are helpful, inshaAllaah!

  1. Make Du’aa for Each Other– The first step is duaa. The last step is duaa. Your dunya-mate and inshaAllaah your aakhirah/jannah mate needs not only your love and support but they also need your heartfelt duaas as you go about your day — after you finish your prayers, during the good times and the difficult, when you get up to pray and beg Allah at night and at every moment. They need it. You got their back so make duaa Allaah has it too.
  2. Share the Iftaar Experience– Cook together, ilaahay baa jiree (Allaah exists!). Not only will you have fun preparing new and old dishes, you will also have a chance to strengthen your bond. There’s something about being in the kitchen, cutting up ingredients, creating a tasty dish and fighting about who has to do the dishes after that brings hearts together.
  3. Set Achievable Goals– ‘I want to complete the Qur’an five times’ or ‘I want to break a certain habit’ or even ‘I just want to pray my five prayers consistently’– whatever your goals for the month are, share them with your spouse inshaAllaah you will find a partner to motivate you to accomplish them or if needed kick you into shape!
  4. Include Family & Friends – We invited family and friends over several times last Ramadan. Of course separately, i.e I’d have the house to entertain my Sisters/friends and he would have it the next time to host his Bros- gotta keep it halal yo! Not only will you get the ajr (reward) of feeding multiple people, you will also get a chance to reconnect with friends and strengthen family ties.
  5. Start a Qur’an Challenge – Ramadan is the month of the Qur’an. Whether it’s watching a series on Qur’an (for example from Bayyinah Institute) or taking turns reading certain portions together or even sitting and discussing favorite stories/points of benefit from Surahs, make your Ramadan days and nights centered around the Book of Allaah.
  6. Create Fun, Lasting Memories – Go out and explore the city and tie it back to Ramadan, go to a restaurant for Iftaar, host a halaqah, have a bonfire or masjid-hop (pray taraweeh in a different masjid every night)- you can make anything into a beneficial taqwa-inducing event! Last Ramadan we spent a whole evening on the sandy shores of Coronado Beach, eating Arab take out, praying and reflecting on life. It was fun yo!
  7. Strive for Excellence– Ramadan is a time to build foundations, not just for the Deen but also as a spouse. If you have a certain quality or good trait, enhance it and take it to a new level. For example, if you are generous: give even more of your time, energy and wealth to please your spouse. Spend each day striving to be an awesome spouse and you will see the benefits of those efforts throughout the next 11 months, inshaAllaah.
  8. Make the Last 10 Count– If you are able to make it’kaaf (seclude yourself in the masjid) do so! Or revisit your earlier goals and challenge yourself to complete them before the month’s end. It’s the last lap of the Ramadan race, so don’t tire out! If you see your spouse slipping, gently encourage them and remind them of the immense reward that can be gained in the last 10 nights.
  9. Secret Sadaqah– Calculating rewards during Ramadan is a mind blowing experience. Imagine giving a dollar a day for 29-30 days- each time you give you get tenfold or more the reward then you would outside of Ramadan. And of course you could get more, Allaah is Merciful! Take advantage of this by giving a dollar a day, or even a date! Buy a box of dates and water and take it to the Masjid. Invest in the Masjid’s fundraising campaigns, commit to providing for an orphan till the next Ramadan, help the homeless in your city – whatever you are able to do- do it! I like hiding the sadaqah I give from my spouse, as long as it’s not a crazy big amount (which it hardly is), so that I could work on having the best, sincerest niyyah (intention) The less people know, the better!
  10. Plan Ahead for Eid- A big debate will arise, make sure to tackle it strategically or else it might turn ugly! Who will you spend Eid with? With your husband’s family? Or your own? You can take turns – Eid al-Fitr with your fam-bam and Eid-Al Adha with husband’s and then switch the next year. Or why not both? You can host an Eid party or plan a picnic (I loooove picnics!!)! In addition to solving the aforementioned issue, you will also get rewards for bringing together people and cementing family bonds, insha’Allaah!

Stay tuned for the next parts!

Waslaamu Alaaikum

Day 12: “O you who are patient!”

Asalaamu Alaaikum

There is a beautiful quote from Ibn Qayyim (rh) in his treatise on patience:

“O you who are patient! Bear a little more, just a little more remains.”

Though short, this quote is so comprehensive. It’s so reassuring to read especially in these times of fitna (tribulation). Many of us are facing internal and/or external battles. Though they may differ in size, length, cause, manifestation, and other factors, they share one thing in common: they require struggle, steadfastness, and patience. I understand that’s easier said than done. It is very difficult to be patient in the face of adversity and to be steadfast in the face of difficulties but let us remember that just a little more remains! In reality, this dunya (worldly life) is just two days: yesterday which has passed and today. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. Ten, twenty, thirty years will pass by before we realize it. One thing is for certain, trials are temporary and they too like these years will pass.  What is the alternative? Our only option is to patiently persevere.

To inspire us further, below are selected ayaat, ahadith and statements from the Salaf on patience:

  • “And verily, whosoever shows patience and forgives, that would truly be from the things recommended by Allah.” (42:43)
  • “Seek help in patience and As-Salat (the prayer). Truly, Allah is with As-Sabirun (the patient).” (2:153)
  • Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that: Certain people of the Ansar asked the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) and he gave them; then they again asked him and he gave them until all what he possessed was exhausted. Then the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, “Whatever wealth I have, I will not withhold from you. Whosoever would be chaste and modest; Allah will keep him chaste and modest and whosoever would seek self-sufficiency, Allah will make him self-sufficient; and whosoever would be patient, Allah will give him patience, and no one is granted a gift better and more comprehensive than patience”. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
  • Abu Yahya Suhaib bin Sinan (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that: The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “How wonderful is the case of a believer; there is good for him in everything and this applies only to a believer. If prosperity attends him, he expresses gratitude to Allah and that is good for him; and if adversity befalls him, he endures it patiently and that is better for him”. [Muslim]
  • “O my soul, it is not for a few days patience, As if her extent were a few dreams. Oh my soul, pass quickly on through this world, And leave it, for indeed life lies ahead of it.” – Imam Ash-Shafi’i (d. 204H), may Allah have mercy upon him.
  • Imam Ahmad (d. 241H) – rahimahullah – said: “Allah has mentioned sabr (patience) in over ninety places in His Book”. Related by Ibn al-Qayyim in Madarij as-Salikin (2/152)

Stay tuned for more reflections!

Wasalaamu Alaaikum

Day 11: Smells, Sights and Sounds of Ramadan

Asalaamu Alaiakum

At the beginning of Ramadan, I had such a strange experience. I had a hard time processing we had reached the blessed month. I felt down that I didn’t get the same rush as previous years. The days just seemed like any other. It finally dawned on me why I was having such a disconnect.  You see, I come from a big family. I have 8 siblings! I’ve spent every single Ramadan with them even the last two while I was married. I basically lived a block away. After I had iftaar with my husband, I would usually walk or drive over (mostly drive, okay don’t judge me!) and spend the rest of the night with them. Therefore, I still got to experience the smells, sights, and sounds of the blessed month that I was so used to growing up. Such as:

  • The smell of sambuusa and spices wafting from the kitchen.
  • The sounds of laughter and several ongoing conversations – quiet ones between my parents and more rambunctious ones between my siblings.
  • The sight of my mother and Sisters kneading mandazi (buns).
  • The sight of countless dishes on the dinner table – my mother’s delicious bariis (rice), my younger Sister’s delectable desserts, my other sister’s aromatic shaax (tea) which she always brewed to perfection despite not being a tea drinker herself!
  • The sound of whispered supplications.
  • The sight of dozens of hands reaching out for food. Of my siblings racing to the bathroom to make wudu.
  • The sound of Qur’an recitation and prostrations.
  • The overall feeling of togetherness.

Without realizing it, these experiences solidified and psychologically conditioned my attachment of certain smells, sights and sounds to Ramadan. In their absence, and with a 1,000+ miles of distance from my parents and siblings, I didn’t really feel the Ramadan spirit in the beginning of the month.

Once I realized what was happening, I made the intention to take small steps to help recreate past Ramadan experiences from both of our childhoods. Additionally, to make new traditions that we could adopt for many Ramadans to come. InshaAllaah.

Stay tuned for more reflections!

Wasalaamu Alaaikum

 

 

Day 10: Iftaar Reflection

Asalaamu Alaaikum

Today’s Ramadan Reflection is being posted a little late. In fact, there is only half an hour remaining until midnight!  I was so preoccupied today with the little one and making a bigger iftaar than usual. Those who know me personally  know I love to cook. I love whipping up new recipes and combining different cuisines. For example, one time I made butter chicken lasagna (it was to die for!). The part I love most about cooking is actually the aftermath: the presentation stage! Displaying all of the beautiful colors of the meal I created set against a plain white dish. I’m also very generous with toppings and garnish. Today I made baasto iyo suugo (Somali-style spaghetti with paste), three different types of sambuusa, a fruit smoothie and tea. Looking at the main dish I was just so awed by the variety of foods Allaah provides for us.

Just in that one dish were countless vegetables, pasta, herbs and spices. If this is what Allaah has provided for us in dunya, imagine what Jannah will be like! Imagine the variety of foods and drink, the plethora of delights and comforts that will be accessible to us for an eternity (literally!) How Generous is Allaah! He didn’t have to provide us with anything in either world. The next time we are sitting in front of our dinner table let’s take a moment to thank Him (SWT).

Stay tuned for more reflections!

Wasalaamu Alaaikum