Tag Archives: Allah

This World

Some people have said it’s a scary time to be Muslim right now, for obvious reasons. And I don’t know about that so much, but I do think it is a scary time to be human. It’s a scary time to drive on the road or stop at a traffic light; it’s scary to be in your house, even with burglar bars; it’s scary to walk into a corner shop or even in the mall; it’s scary to even watch the news.

The world is a scary place.

Yesterday, I watched a video of a young boy, 13 years old, being thrown around and kicked and stripped naked by prison guards in a prison in Australia. It crushed me. It angered and infuriated and enraged me. I couldn’t do anything to fix it. Today I saw a video of a small, tiny baby, not more than a couple weeks old, being wildly swooshed around in a bucket of water, held by the arms. Crying painfully. And I cried. Painfully. Real tears. I was writhing in my seat and couldn’t stand the aching that video caused me. It aches now recalling it. I was screaming silently at my screen while I watched. And I was angry that I even saw it at all — what good did sharing the video do? Does it stop the abuse? We don’t even see the identities of the women, so what can be done?? Why did you share it if nothing can be done about it?! I didn’t need to see it!

All I wanted to do was grab the baby away from that woman, and hold him/her in my arms soothingly. But of course I couldn’t. Again, I couldn’t do anything to fix it.

Perhaps I am a weakling for reacting this way. Perhaps someone else might not have been as pained by those scenes and would laugh at my reaction. I can actually think of at least one person who would laugh at my reaction and think I’m a silly girl. Perhaps I am a silly girl. (I know many more people who would agree with that statement. Even I do.) But I never want to be a silly girl who is okay with children being treated badly. I never want to be a silly girl who feels relieved because “at least it’s not my child”. My goodness, when is it ever okay for any child to scream and cry because of the violence and cruelty of an adult?

I feel deeply pained right now because of all the violence and bad stuff going on everywhere. And I truly, deeply hate to add to it. I hate that this post is so sad and dark. But when it hurts I write. And I cry. I just don’t always share it with everyone on my blog. But this I felt like sharing. Because it’s a pain I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling.

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I wrote this earlier, after the crying subsided. It doesn’t have a title yet. It’s just words that spewed forth that I really hope makes some sense.

Words That Spewed Forth That I Really Hope Makes Some Sense

by Ruqaiyah Davids

The world is a cruel and scary place.
I don’t know where to escape.
How do I get away from all this hate?
It doesn’t seem to abate.
But I know it’s not too late.

And I don’t mean to sound fake and to further saturate this debate
With candy floss and rainbows after every time the rain flows.
These words are not meant to gloss over all that is wrong with this place and the human race.
Violence and hatred have become commonplace.
I know.
It’s quite a disgrace.
But I do believe that we only need to educate –
One another and ourselves.
Then we can alienate those who seek to create
All these people who have become irate,
Causing them to deviate,
Fighting for what they think is right.
And those who only propagate hate.
And those who only separate.
And those who leave children, betrayed
By the very people who should be a source of shade.

This world has worked hard to make me jaded;
Tired and weary –
This world is scary.
Many days I can’t stand the evil of it all.
But I am an optimist.
Try as the world might, it hasn’t given my spirit fright.
But, still, I don’t look at the world through rose-coloured glasses.
I’ve sat through enough of the world’s classes
Of chaos, mayhem, and fear.
My eyes are clear;
I see the evil that is here.
But these darn hues of pink and red won’t leave me alone.
My spirit is prone to the light in this world
Which it has over and over been shown.
But my optimism can sometimes feel like my prison
As my soul feels that sickeningly familiar rhythm
Of a child’s cry,
While people die,
And a nation occupies.

My optimism can be a prison of pain and heartbreak.
Each time the world shows me its colour of evil my heart quakes.
I have a difficult time believing it’s real.
My optimism builds up a defence.
It tells me all the murder, ignorance, blood, hate, child abuse is just a pretence.
A pretence for what?
I don’t know.
But the core of me needs to believe it’s just a show.
Even though I know.
I know.

See, I call myself an optimistic-realist.
I read the news and know that the truth is always skewed.
But my optimism keeps the depression subdued.
It keeps the tears from flowing so much
That I lose touch with all the goodness God has given.
There is so much good,
There is so much love,
There is so much kindness.
The darkness here cannot lead to my blindness.
I am compelled to believe that He Sees.
I cannot deny that with hardship comes ease.
But what acts are these?!
Stripping small boys in a prison naked?
Turning a whole nation of people into the most hated?
Why are we not more devastated?
Starvation and malnutrition are circulated!
And then we are placated
While we become vegetated
Through the media, fashion, films, games…
Don’t be fooled – it is all calculated.

Blog sign-off

 

Making up for a whole month

“I’m making up for a month of fasting,” she said, humorously.

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Eeeek. :/

 

The day of Eid arrived, signifying the end of a month of daytime fasting. Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims who spend it (primarily) by abstaining from food and drink from sunrise until sunset (among other nitty gritties). But from sunset until sunrise, all (halal) food is allowed. So when people are stunned at the ‘no eating for a WHOLE MONTH?!’ thing, I’m kind of confused. Like, huh? You missed the part in the memo about ‘from sunrise until sunset’? It’s not thirty (or twenty-nine, depending on the moon) straight days of no eating.

(SIDE NOTE: That link for ‘Ramadan’ provides a nice exploration into what Ramadan is, if you are unfamiliar with it, though it still has that from-the-outside-looking-in feel to it, with some minor inaccuracies. But a fair read nonetheless.)

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True for many Muslims.

And that brings me here. The narrative that started this.

So Eid soon arrived. And Muslim women (yep, no men at work here) the world over began the sacred ritual of preparing feasts for their families to eat. Eid, after all, quite literally means ‘feast’.

The feasting is great. I love the feast. I love my mom’s pie (which in recent years, with mom getting older, have instead become a collaborative effort between my sister and me — she does the filling, I do the pastry and the baking bit). I love home-baked bread. I love soutvleis. I love my momma’s fruit cake. I love puddings.

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Hmm. All that yum.

But I don’t love the frivolous idea that one needs to eat all that good stuff to ‘make up’ for the month-long fast that preceded Eid day.

Eid is not about making up for any lack of eating. Eid is not about celebrating the end of not being able to eat, like: ‘Shoo, hallelujah, that’s finally over! Let’s celebrate and eat until we can’t breathe.’

Everything that you eat on Eid day could have been eaten on any day night during Ramadan. You weren’t deprived. Rather, you were gifted. We were gifted. We were gifted with opportunities for redemption. A multitude of opportunities. We were gifted with opportunities for forgiveness, with showers of Mercy, with visions of love and kindness, with inspirations of generosity and compassion. We were gifted by having food taken away from us so that we took focus off our bodies and tummies and paid attention to our hearts, our souls, and our minds. We were gifted with closeness to our God, with time in His company and that of His angels.

I don’t mean to berate the person who said that line about ‘making up for a month of fasting’; this post is not intended to preach. The purpose for this post is that her flippant statement saddened me. And because it was to an audience of non-Muslims who would consequently also have the wrong idea of what fasting and Eid is all about. This post is because I was reminded of a time when I, too, didn’t quite grasp the gift of Ramadan. It was merely something to get through. That is a sad place to be in. It is lonely there. In that place, we don’t get to have conversations with Allah. In that place, our hearts don’t have the opportunity to feast on the love and the mercy that surrounds us. We don’t get to read His Love Letter to us (i.e. the Quran) and be moved by it. In that place of ritualised ‘starvation’ we don’t get to truly celebrate Eid for all that it is.

Far more than a grand feast, Eid is supposed to be a day of celebration of all the energy we exerted in worship. And a celebration of the hope we have in the Mercy of Allah, our hope that He will accept our worship and attempts to know Him and Love Him better. It’s also a celebration of togetherness and family. A celebration of love and goodness.

All that is so much more than the food we get to eat.

So no, on Eid day we do not eat to make up for a month of fasting. Just like on my birthday I do not eat cake to make up for a year of not having had birthday cake. The cake is merely a symbol of the celebration of life — hopefully one that will show love, goodness, success. (Or if you do not celebrate birthdays with birthday cakes because, like my sister, you’re not into the self-servingness of it all, and the lack of any basis in religious practice, then please feel free to insert your own appropriate analogy here. 😁)

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How do you celebrate Eid in your neck of the woods? What does Eid mean to you?

 

Blog sign-off

NaPoWriMo Day 29: “I Love it When You Talk Foreign”

Yes, I know it’s very late. Very, very late. And it’s not even April anymore. But well, it’s here anyway. Read it or leave it.

(I know you’ll read it.)

So NaPoWriMo originates in the U.S, and the ‘national’ part of the term refers to the nation of America. But even so, there are many, many poets and participants in the challenge who are not from America. Because it’s not only Americans who love poetry. And I am one of those ‘foreigners’ who gate-crashed the party. So the lovely people over at NaPoWriMo decided to honour us by asking everyone to write a poem which contains at least five words of a different language. I chose Arabic. It’s the closest I’ve come to speaking a foreign language–though, truly, it’s not foreign to me. It’s the language of my people, of my Book, of my land, and of my Lord.

I’ll be leaving for ‘umrah soon, in shaa Allah. The minor pilgrimage to the holy land of Makkah (note: ‘Makkah, not ‘Mecca’). A journey my heart can hardly wait for anymore. And this poem is about that.

Sabah an-Nur

It’s almost time to go
To a land my heart already knows.
Ahlan wa sahlan!
I will stand on the Mountain of Light
And see the rising of the sun.
Sabah al-khayr!
Wa sabah an-nur!
Joy upon joy!
Light upon light!
My heart will rejoice at the sight
Of the Ka’bah,
Standing tall and strong.
It’s been there all along.
And I will prostrate
With my head and my heart
And pray for a new start.

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A close-up picture of the Ka’bah taken from the ground, looking up.
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The Ka’bah from afar, with hundreds–very possibly thousands–of people performing their religious rituals around it.
Jabal an-Nur, The Mountain of Light. The mountain where the Cave of Hira is found.
Jabal an-Nur, The Mountain of Light. The mountain where the Cave of Hira is found. Where Light was found in a time of darkness.

Translations:

Ahlan wa Sahlan: This is a common Arabic phrase used to welcome someone, however, its literal translation is not just ‘welcome’ or ‘hello’, as it is widely used. For a better understanding of the meaning of the term, go here. Or here, for a much more in-depth look at the term, its origin, and some very interesting and enlightening information on its implications.

Sabah al-khayr: Good morning.

Sabah an-nur: A reply to ‘sabah al-khayr‘, literally meaning ‘morning of light’.

Ka’bah: A sacred building in Islam; the direction to which all Muslims, all around the world, face while praying. For more reading on this, go here.

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NaPoWriMo Day 13: Footprints in the Sand

The prompt for Day 13 was to take a walk and to make (mental) notes on what we see on our walk, and incorporate these notes into our poem. I took a drive rather than a walk–but I walked when I got there, so I suppose it still counts. I’ve included some pictures of what the scene looked like, and these are what this poem is based on.

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Footprints in the Sand

Mountains block out the sun.
So immense,
So vast;
The light is beyond my grasp.
These mountains have me undone,
But the day has only just begun.

Ocean calm;
Heart feels peace.
But this is only a momentary lease.
Ocean-deep;
An endless sea.
Here we stand, we three.
Footprints in the sand,
My heart in my hand.
I’m still struggling to understand.

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NaPoWriMo Day 7: Seeking You

Seeking You

The wind blows.
My heart slows.
The silence hollows.

I say Your Name.
Your Glory is proclaimed.
My heart is unrestrained.

The sun sets.
My mind rests.
All that surrounds me to Your Wonder attests.

I feel the silence.
I search for Your Guidance.
I am seeking total reliance.

But will I be strong enough to face the defiance?

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I Seek Refuge

Shaytaan is sneaky. He is the bad guy in this story; he also goes by Satan, Devil, The Biggest Loser… whatever floats your boat. He is cunning and sly, and oh so smart. We almost never see him coming, and then before we know it he is just there next to us. And before we can turn our backs to him we’ve done or said something stupid that we wish we hadn’t. Yes, he is smart. And he is very good at his job. So we have to be smarter. And we have to be better. But we cannot do it alone; we need ammo. We need to pack in the hardware and put on our battle faces, because this is a war. We are fighting for our lives. We are fighting for Jannah (paradise). And the best weapon we have–okay, this is going to sound so corny and cliché–is du’a (prayer). It’s true. The only way we can win is by asking for help, by making du’a. And the only One powerful enough to help us against as grave an enemy as that scary dude is Allah, The Most Powerful, Most High. We have to seek Him, seek His refuge during this war if we are to have any hope of making it to Jannah. Otherwise, without Him, and without du’a, we are just lost. Like a leaf blowing in the wind.

Path-of-Shaytaan
Taken from myfiks.org


I am certain that there have been times that Shaytaan has come to each of us, to whisper to us, and we could almost hear those whispers. We could feel that whatever it was that we were about to say was not something we should say, that someone was almost forcing us to say it, think it, do it. I wrote the following poem quite some time ago, and I think it is one that we can all relate to.

I Seek Refuge

I seek refuge in You, O Allah

From Shaytaan,
The cursed one.

Protect me, my Rabb,
From his soft, sweet whispers.
When he says to me:
”I miss you”
“I need you”
Just with these words,
He tempts me to reverse
All the good that has been done.
Let his evil spirit be cursed.
And from my mind,
Let him disperse.

Protect me from the sweet fantasies
That he arouses in my mind-
Fantasies of false happiness.
Protect me from the dreams that he
Makes me believe
Can be mine.

Protect me, O Protector of all,
From the false hopes that
Shaytaan helps me build so tall
Only to let them come crashing down
And to the cold, harsh ground of reality
Do I fall
And fall
And only then do I realise
That these hopes are ever-fleeting
Nothing more than a brief meeting
With this world that we are tested in
To which Shaytaan has front seating.

I seek refuge in You, O Allah,
From Shaytaan,
The rejected one.

Protect my tongue from speaking
Words which he conjures,
Make my ears deaf
to his sweet, evil whispers
Blind my eyes and mind
to his magnificent, misleading fantasies.

Protect me from the beauty
In which he cloaks himself
From the overpowering scent
In which he douses himself
From the eloquent words
With which he represents himself.

Help me, O Lord,
O Protector,
O Defender,
Stop him from coming nearer.

O Most-Mighty,
O Most High,
Only You can help me
Pass him by.

O Most Magnificent,
O Most Merciful,
Comfort me when
He causes me to be fearful.

I seek refuge in You, O Allah,
From Shaytaan,
The evil one.

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Image in My Head

So, if you’ve followed my blog posts recently, you’ll know what’s been foremost on my mind over the past couple of months. Can you guess it? Can you?? There’s a special prize to the first reader to get it right. Come on, you can do it!! (Uhm… just give me some time to figure out what the prize is going to be.)

So, the answer is ‘change’, and in the spirit of change, I wrote a poem a while ago. The poem is about who I want to be, in-shaa-Allah (Allah-willing), since I am constantly a work in progress. It is an incomplete poem, I am still working on the second half (There is actually an unintended pun in that 😛 When you eventually see the second half of the poem you’ll probably get the pun :D). Please read it and share your thoughts with me.

Image in My Head

I have an image in my head

Of the type of woman I want it to be said

I was.

The type of woman who,

To good deeds and righteousness,

Had sped.

The type of woman who,

For fear and love of her Lord,

Tears she had shed.

I have an image in my head

Of a woman who is so well-bred

That she doesn’t allow herself to be misled

By the evil one whom we all dread.

She is a woman who wouldn’t dare tread

The sins of the poisonous arrowhead.

She wouldn’t allow

The goodness of her soul to be shred,

Nor the love in her heart to be bled.

She is a woman well-read

In the verses that her Lord had said.

A woman whose arms are outspread

To the orphans and the poor,

The ones her Prophet

SallAllahi ‘alayhi wa Sallam*

Had told her to hold near.

I have an image in my head

Of a woman—

Chaste

And with grace.

One who has never, before marriage, been embraced.

A woman who does not, her own value, misplace.

-Ruqaiyah Davids

* SallAllahi ‘alayhi wa Sallam – May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him

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What image do you have in your head about the person you want to be? Or are you already that person? Tell me a bit about this person.

…Wa ballighnaa Ramadhaan

And let us reach Ramadhaan

The above line is part of a longer du’a (prayer) recited from the month of Rajab, which is two months before the month of Ramadhaan, the beautiful and blessed month of fasting for Muslims, up until this month of Ramadhaan. The complete du’a is as follows:

اَللّهُمَّ بَارِكْ لَنَا فِى رَجَبَ وَ شَعْبَانَ وَ بَلِّغْنَا رَمَضَان

Transliteration: Allahumma baarik lanaa fee Rajab wa Sha’ban wa ballighnaa Ramadhaan

Translation: O Allah! Make the months of Rajab and Sha’ban blessed for us, and let us reach the month of Ramadhaan (i.e. prolong our life up to Ramadhaan, so that we may benefit from its merits and blessings).

[Narrated by at-Tabarani and Ahmad]

Earlier this week, one of my close friends’ grandmother passed away. While going through that day, greatly affected by the loss and reflecting on matters and days passed, as is a habit of mine at times like these, I recalled a sombre observation made by one of my teachers a couple of years ago around this time. He said something to the effect of:

Now, in these months before Ramadhaan, you’ll see how all the elderly people are going to die. That is why the pious people of the past made this du’a: Oh Allah, let us reach the month of Ramadhaan. They would make the du’a up until the month of Ramadhaan.

My memory is a bit sketchy, and the words above are most probably not his exact words, but it was along those lines. This was said at the time that an older man in our class had passed away, which was shortly before the month of Ramadhaan, and this caused all of us in the class to reflect.

I don’t know why my teacher’s theory highlights old people, because, as I remember also pondering at that time two years ago, I felt that it could have even been me that had died that day. Death knows no age. I remember being consumed with this thought, that ‘it could have been me’. Sure, the man who had died was much older, and probably afflicted with the usual illnesses that old age brings, while I had the health and vigour of youth–but has no young, healthy person ever died? Has no twenty-something’s life ever been taken ‘too soon’? There is no ‘too soon’, there is no designated time, except the time that Allah decrees. So, two years ago, it could have been me. Earlier this week, it could have been me. Today, it could have been me. But, alhamdulillah (all praise is to Allah), it wasn’t. Alhamdulillah, Allah gave me another day.

Nonetheless, while I do not understand the ‘why’ of it, I do see the truth in it. The elderly people in our community are dying, just a few weeks before Ramadhaan. My friend’s grandmother passed away earlier this week. My brother-in-law’s grandfather passed away last week. My colleague’s friend’s mother passed away the other day, and a respected elderly member of our community passed away yesterday. These are more deaths in the space of two weeks than I’ve ever heard of before, and there are possibly more to come. I do not understand this phenomenon, but the words of my wise and esteemed teacher ring true.

However, this doesn’t exempt the younger ones amongst us from making this du’a, because certainly our Prophet (may the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) had great wisdom in making this du’a, and we should follow his example. So, let’s make du’a, for ourselves and for each other, that we reach the month of Ramadhaan, that we receive the beautiful gift that holds within it multiple chances for forgiveness, for reward, for introspection. Oh, Allah, let us reach the month of Ramadhaan, ameen.

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Love, As We Know It

I’ve never before fully understood how love really works. Growing up, I loved my mom, my dad, my sisters and my brother. I loved them because they were my family. I loved them because I had to–as cold as that sounds, it is the truth. I didn’t know what ‘love’ meant, I just fell into it (excuse the unintended pun). Being the last born, I just had all these people in my life, and I had no choice in the matter. Love was compulsory. Even while hating them and fighting with them, I loved them. Later in my life, though, I met some people, some amazing women. And I love them–I love them with a love so strong that, almost from as soon as we met, we stopped being strangers and became sisters. A sister–a woman who I had just met! Can you imagine that? And what’s more is that, this love that I have for them, it’s not the kind of love that I just ‘fell’ into like I did with the sisters and brother I was born loving; this is a love for the sake of Allah. Now, for a long time, this was mind-boggling to me. Love for the sake of Allah. Love for the sake of anything other than ‘I-love-you-just-because’ seemed unfair to me. Why should I be loved for someone else’s sake, and not just because I am great and amazing and loveable all on my own? I was jealous. I’ve always been a selfish person when it comes to love. But do you know what makes this jealousy even more ridiculous? I was jealous of Allah! That is downright laughable! SubhaanAllah (Glory be to Allah). What kind of silly do you have to be to be jealous of your own Creator, the Creator of Love itself? But the only reason that I was jealous was because I didn’t understand what it meant to love and to be loved for the sake of my Lord.

After much pondering on the matter, I eventually understood. To love for the sake of Allah is to love someone because you love Him, it is to love those who love Him and because they love Him. Love for the sake of Allah is not selfish and it is not about the individual, it is not about loving someone because of what that person brings into your life, superficially, or because of how great and amazing and loveable that person might be. Ultimately, it is about loving Allah. If we love Allah, we love those who love Him and those whom He loves, without expectation and without discrimination. A love borne out of a love for Him only strengthens the relationship between two people, and that relationship, in turn, serves to strengthen your love and your relationship with Allah. It is a beautiful cycle, indeed. A love like this ends up being a form of worship, subhaanAllah. Can you imagine that just loving someone for the sake of Allah is a form of worshipping Allah?

So, last night, my love for these women, whom I love as sisters, sent my blood pumping through my body. We met for supper, (almost) the whole gang of us (after each of us being absorbed by our own separate lives for far too long) and it was amazing to be reminded of why I love these women so much, and to be reminded of how indescribably blessed I am to have them all in my life. Our sisterhood was founded on a Divine Love, and it is only because of this love that it works. We’re all different–different personalities, different ages, different stories–but we’re bound by one, single Love.

Abu Hurayra (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (may the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

 “Allah Almighty will say on the Day of Rising, ‘Where  are those who loved one another for the sake of My Majesty? Today, on the Day  when there is no shade but My Shade, I will shade them.'” [Muslim]

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What is your understanding of love?

Where’s Your Head At?

My head is filled with too many things right now. Least of them all should be my blog, but I just can’t allow myself to disappoint my hundreds of loyal followers waiting with bated breath for my next post (ha!). I mean, it is Sunday after all, right? Which means New Post Day! Yay! No. Not yay. Because after Sunday comes Monday. And Mondays are slowly–but very surely–making its way riiiiight down to the bottom of my list of Reasons to Wake Up on a Monday Morning. I’m not liking you very much right now, Monday. Not very much at all. And, high school exams are nigh, which means set exam papers with memorandums need to be submitted to the office. Tomorrow. Who has time for a lengthy (but seriously entertaining) blog post with all that going on? Certainly not me. So this is what I’ll give you (my throng of loyal and devoted readers); a peek into where my head is at right now. So picture this:

Yep, that’s what it looks like up in here. More or less. Now, because there’s currently very little room in my brain for much real words to grow, I will give you some pictures, to further elaborate on the many ‘stuffs’ wheedling through my brain, in between the yucky exam stuff.

Are you noticing the pattern here? Both last week’s post and the week before that was about being a stranger in this world, or referring to the Strangers Tour that happened here in Cape Town two weeks ago. It is who I want to be–a stranger in this world–so that I may be a companion in the next world, the real world. A companion to who? To my Prophet (may the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him and his family), and all the righteous people who lived in this world, ameen.

I read a beautiful line in an article a bit earlier, and I think it complements this picture beautifully:

“The hijab is only a brush stroke on the canvas within a much bigger picture. Without it the work is incomplete, but it is not the sole element that makes the painting. And my own canvas is incomplete and riddled with mistakes.” – Azlin Ahmed, It’s a Hijab, Not a Halo

And lastly, one of my new favourites…

So, kids, it would seem that the theme running in my brain for this month is ‘change’. And, in the words of the great American president, Barack Obama (that’s sarcasm right there), “Yes, we can!” And we will, in-shaa-Allah. And may we (or I, or whoever cares to join me in this change–whatever it might be that you are changing to, for the sake of Allah) be more successful than the lousy president–oh, oops, did I say ‘lousy’? I meant loser. Nooo! I meant… well, who cares what I meant? May we be more successful in our quest for change, and may we never lose sight of the goal. Ameen.

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Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.