Making up for a whole month

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

Funny-EID-Mubarak-Pictures-Free-Download.jpg
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.

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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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Glad Tidings to the Strangers

The Messenger of Allah (may the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

Islam initiated as something strange, and it will revert to its (old position) of being strange. So, glad tidings to the stranger!” [Muslim]

Glad tidings to us, indeed–all of us who will be attending the long-awaited, much-anticipated, internationally celebrated Strangers Tour!

This event (befitting adjectives for which I cannot even think of) will feature three amazing people (and when I say ‘amazing’, you must know that I mean AMAZING. Maa-shaa-Allah.). They’ve hosted this event in twenty other cities worldwide (source: all the advertising I’ve seen), and it’s been awesome, inspiring and sold out in all of them. Now, I won’t go on to explain in much more detail what this event entails, you can check out the trailer (the video above) for that. I am way too wired right now to explain it coherently–I mean, in just over an hour, I am going to be experiencing some of this awesomeness right in front of my face while I have previously only experienced it through my laptop screen via YouTube. Can you imagine the excitement? This whole city is buzzing with it! Alhamdulillah.

On a less hyped up note, allow me to more appropriately explain the narration quoted above, so that it is understood in its proper context, and not the context in which I have used it (which wouldn’t be entirely wrong, I think, since it is definitely a blessing from Allah that we are able to attend this event, and it will, Allah willing, be a means of us attaining nearness to Him and His Pleasure). When Islam began centuries ago, it was a strange religion to the people of the land. This religion preached the Oneness of an All Mighty, All Powerful God to a people who worshipped stone idols which they had made themselves. The created were worshipping the created. But Islam proposed that, rather, we should worship the Creator, the One who made us, the One who never sleeps, never eats, and never dies. And this was strange. The people who followed this way were strangers in their own land, to their own people, their own family. Eventually, as time passed, the message of Islam spread. People’s hearts began to recognise their Lord. They feared, worshipped and loved only One God. Muslims reigned, because they knew the One who reigned over all the worlds. However, as even more time passed, the words of our Prophet (may Peace be upon him) were proved true: Islam began its return to being strange to people, even its own people. The world fears a religion about which they know little. They fear a people who are different to them, who have different values. Unfamiliarity can be a dangerous thing. And now, even Muslims find their own religion strange; they find their own family and friends strange when they try to be the best Muslims they can be. That is why, to the one who practices and strives for her deen in this world, even when she is looked upon as a stranger by everyone she knows, she will be presented with glad tidings. So, glad tidings to the stranger.

Ultimately, that is what this event is all about. It’s fun and it’s awesome and there’s a lot of hype around it, but, ultimately, it’s just about reminding us that it’s okay to be a stranger in a world full of strange things. We just have to know what it’s worth being a stranger for, and Allah is more than worth it. Paradise is more than worth it.

So I’ll be off now to have a strangely wonderful time with my stranger friends and many other strangers, listening to some other inspiring strangers doing their thing. Before I leave, however, let me leave you with this, so that you can get a taste of what I’ll be sitting through a bit later on. You have to watch it, okay? You just, absolutely have to! It is pure brilliance, maa-shaa-Allah.

Watch it!

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UPDATE [07-05-2012]: Most-amazing-show-ever! Maa-shaa-Allah. All three of them were beyond awesome. What word can I use that is awesomer than awesome? In my next blog post (13-05-2012), I will highlight some of the lessons, words and laughs that stood out to me–or, rather, jumped out at me and slapped me in the face. An awakening it was, indeed.

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Share your thoughts with me below. I love reading them.

You’re Not Doing It Right

Today, rather than sharing with you my own thoughts at length, I have decided to share with you the thoughts of another blogger, and just add in some of my own commentary. Her name is Rian; quite an awesome blogger she is. The title of her blog post is You’re Not Doing It Right (follow the link to read more). The reasons for sharing her post with you are two-fold:

1. I am honestly too lazy and uninspired to type my own post right now, but I feel compelled to stick to my self-assigned deadline for my blog posts. Also, a weekend of awesomeness tends to drain one of any residual energy one might have had to indulge in the luxury of typing meaningful and readable words. So, forgive me if any of what is to come is unreadable.

2. I like what she’s saying, and how she says it. I can relate to a lot of it. Many of us have a preconceived notion  of what  life is supposed to be like, and when our lives don’t quite match that fickle idea we have in our heads, we feel saddened, as though something has gone wrong, something in our lives must be awry. Further than that, some of us apply this thinking to our religion as well: We have to be the best Muslim we can be, we have to do things absolutely perfectly, and if we don’t, we’re just not doing it rightThis ultimately causes us to feel despondent in our worship. But, the thing is, firstly, Islam is not difficult, it is only us, Muslims, who sometimes make it difficult upon ourselves. And, secondly, there is no single right way of being a Muslim. Sure, we have the Qur’an and Sunnah (Prophetic way) as our guides, and the madhaahib (Islamic schools of law) we follow, and we have certain faraa’id (things which are compulsory upon Muslims) that we need to abide by, but if we don’t do these things according to our idea of ‘right’, it doesn’t mean we’re not being Muslim right. It only means that we’re getting more reward when we keep trying (the key here is to not be complacent), and we need to remember that, rather than stressing about it and grinding our teeth about it, we should turn to Allah and ask for His Help. No matter how many times we fall short of who we want to be, as Rian says so aptly in her blog: “It doesn’t matter. You’re alive.” And as long as we are alive, the little mistakes we make do not matter in the bigger picture, because we can keep trying. And if we believe in Allah, and are trying to live our lives in His Pleasure, we are doing it right.

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What is it that you sometimes feel you’re not doing right? How do you deal with these feelings and thoughts? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.

Things I Should Have Said

A few days ago, as I was sitting on one of the benches in Canal Walk, waiting on my sister while she was in one of the shops, I overheard a gentleman explaining to another gentleman (some friend or acquaintance of his) the philosophy behind the trinity and quoting lines out of Genesis and some other religious texts in which he believes. I listened with growing curiosity, as my knowledge of the belief system of Christians is quite limited, as well as their division of the different sects (is that what they are called?) and what they each respectively believe in.

Here’s the little that I do know: they (or some of them) believe in the notion of the ‘trinity’, that god is divided into three entities — the father, the son and the holy spirit. But these three seemingly separate entities are, in fact, believed to co-exist within one divine being — god. So, this kind of boggles my mind and I’ve always found it really difficult to make sense of. And then here, right next to me (well, with a sufficiently halaal distance between us, of course :P), I had a man who firmly believes in this concept of god trying to explain it to another gentleman who appeared to be confused by it all (I think the first man was trying to convert the second man). So I lent my ears out, wanting to hear this man’s explanation. It still didn’t seem to make sense though. What he was saying was just a rehash of everything (and by that I mean ‘the very little’) I had heard before: “God is three… but… one…” Hmmm… yeah. That still doesn’t really explain anything to me.

Front of the Quran
The Qur’an

As I was sitting there, listening to this gentleman explain his beliefs to the other man, with none of them really making much sense to me, I badly wanted to interject and explain to him what I believe. I wanted to tell him that God is One. That He is Self-Sufficient, that He is neither a father, a son, nor a holy spirit. He is Allah (God). He doesn’t need anyone to assist Him in being the Lord of man and all the worlds; he doesn’t need to be a three-in-one version. He is the All-Mighty, the All-Knowing, the All-Powerful. He has no son (or daughters) and no father (or mother), and there is no entity which is co-equal to Him or which co-exists with Him. He is One [refer to Surah al-Ikhlas, The Qur’an, Chapter 112].

But I said nothing.

I just sat there and listened. I wish I had had the courage to say these things, but I didn’t know how to tell a complete stranger that everything he believes does not make sense. How do you tell anyone, stranger or not, that the beliefs upon which they’ve based their whole life is baseless? And aside from that, there is the fact that they were men. And I am a Muslim woman. And my hijab extends further than just the scarf on my head. So I couldn’t just randomly talk to these strangers. But regardless, I feel that, as a Muslim, I should have said or done something. But, instead, I sat there until it was time to leave, and then I walked away. I left the one man to continue believing what he does, and I let the other man be open to the possibility of believing in a three-in-one version of god.

The Prophet Muhammad (may the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) is reported to have said:

Whoever of you sees an evil must then change it with his hand. If he is not able to do so, then [he must change it ] with his tongue. And if he is not able to do so, then [he must change it] with his heart. And that is the weakest [effect of] faith.

[Reported by Muslim]

So, taking this hadith into consideration, what do you think I should have done? What would you have done differently?

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Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.

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Hashim Amla: The Man Behind The Beard

Hashim Amla at a training session at the Adela...
Credit: Wikipedia

Hashim Amla, South African batsman, has been named as the Sports Star of the Year at the recent SA Sports Awards held over the weekend. Amla has also recently been appointed as vice-captain for the Proteas’ One Day International (ODI) and Twenty20 teams. In addition to all of this, our bearded cricketer also enjoys the glory of being ranked as the number one ODI batsman in the world by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

As much as Amla is enjoying professional success in his cricketing career, there have also been many trials and bumps that he has had to overcome. He stands out among his fellow Protea cricketers in many ways, the most apparent of which is his full, thick beard. As a Muslim, Amla grows his beard to follow the tradition of the final Prophet, Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him). Another way in which he sets himself apart is by his request to not have any logos on his sports gear of the beer company, Castle, which sponsors the team’s matches. This, too, is because of his commitment to Islam, as alcohol, as well as the promotion of it, is prohibited in Islam.

Being a practising Muslim playing international cricket at a time when Islam is internationally, and wrongfully, perceived as a fearful religion, no doubt Amla would receive some flack. During a test match between Sri Lanka and South Africa in 2006, a cricket commentator remarked about Amla under his breath, “The terrorist has got another wicket,” incorrectly assuming that he was off the air. This, however, was only a means for Amla to show how strong he is, how disciplined he is, and how un-terrorising he is. Following this incident, Amla’s fans — Muslim and non-Muslim alike — showed support for him and outrage at the remark of the commentator.

The Amla Army showing support for Amla by donning fake beards
Credit: The Times of India

Throughout his career, Amla has shown his mental strength and discipline. His older brother, Ahmed Amla, said about Amla’s beard in an interview:

…it’s about his mental thing — it does play a major part in his mental make-up and discipline, not only for cricket but other aspects of life. Hash is highly disciplined.

Hashim Amla echoes the teachings of Islam: discipline, humility, integrity and respect. This is also what the beard teaches, this is what Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) has taught us, and through emulating the Prophet (PBUH) with such things as growing a beard, among others, Amla seeks to fill his life with the largely forgotten wisdom of these teachings — a wisdom that is now manifest in Amla’s growing success.

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Share your thoughts with me below. What is your take on Hashim Amla? Are you a fan of The Beard?

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