Friday, 20 November 2015

The importance of having good character

At our Tuesday halaqa (circle), our beloved ustadha Umm Abdullah joined us through Skype to teach us about the importance of nurturing good characters among ourselves and our loved ones.

I took some notes. Below I have just shared some of the lessons I have learnt from the talk. So it is not her exact words. The post is based on my understanding of her talk. And I have added my own notes based on the books I am reading for last couple of weeks alhamdulillah.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is the most forgiving. Sinners can be completely forgiven on the day of judgement. But there are some sins which will not be forgiven without sincere repentance. The sin of Shirk i.e associating partners to God, harming other creations are very serious sins. Disbelief (Kufr) is the biggest sin which is the opposite of Shukr (Gratefulness, thankfulness, appreciating the blessing of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala).When we deny Allah’s existence, we deny the very fact that we are here only because of Him. We are nothing without His Grace and Mercy on us. We won’t even survive even a second without His continuous blessings on us. So being humble and grateful to Him is really crucial for us as human beings. 

When we read about the prophets in the Qur’an and the Sunnah of our beloved Rasulullah sallallahu alaihe wa sallam, we always find them as the most humble and polite people on this earth.  Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala mentions them as his grateful slaves. The most honourable title someone can get as a Muslim is to be called the slave of Allah (Abd-Ullah or Amat-Ullah). Our beloved Rasulullah‘s most honourable title is to be mentioned as the slave of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has so many attributes and we must try our best to instil those attributes in our life. Allah is witr (odd number) and He loves odd numbers. According to Sunnah, we try to worship (ibadah) in odd numbers. For example, we do zikr in odd numbers. We like to repeat the actions of wadu (purification) in odd numbers. Allah is compassionate and He loves the compassionate ones. Allah is the Gentle one and He loves the gentle slaves. He is forgiving and he loves the forgiving ones. Our Rasulullah sallallahu alaihe wa sallam accepted any excuse given by the people (companions and non-Muslims). He was so gentle and forgiving to people subhanallah. Allah will treat us the way we treat others around us. He will forgive the ones who forgive others. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala hide our faults. Do we hide peoples’ faults? As parents, do we hide our children’s fault? How many of us enjoy talking bad about our spouses when they are not around? As parents and spouses, do we accept the excuses given by our loves ones? Time for serious reflection I believe.

Whoever shames other people, Allah will shame him/her. When we deal with people with mercy, forgiveness, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will deal with us with the same qualities. When we ease someone’s hardship, Allah will give ease to us on the Day of Judgement. So in a nutshell, if we want Allah subhananu wa ta’ala to treat us with His Ridwaan i.e Pleasure, we must do our best to incorporate His attributes in our day to day life.

So we need to make pledge with ourselves. When we write down the pledge, it becomes a firm agreement. So let us make pledge to be grateful and thankful, to be merciful and forgiving to others, to hide the faults of others, to be gentle and caring, to be helpful and supportive of others, to serve others with ihsaan and ithaar InshaAllah! Ihsaan means to be worshipping Allah with a firm feeling that I can see Him or He is watching me. And Ithaar means to prefer others over us and our needs even if our needs seem greater than the others’. Our beloved Rasulullah is a great example of Ihsaan and ithaar. He always helped others even when he was in bigger need. He even borrowed to give charity! Subhanallah what an amazing human being! I believe he is the best of creations for a reason. The more we know about him, he more we love and cherish him, sallallahu alaihe wa sallam.

This pledge must start with a sincere dua to our Rabb to enable us to fulfil the pledge. Because without His help and mercy, we can never achieve anything in life. It always reminds me of one of the most powerful verses from the Qur’an: La hawla wa la quwwata illah billah which roughly means there is no power of might except with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. This powerful ayah (verse) reminds me that I am not able to do any good deed with Allah swt’s Help and I cannot stay away from an evil deed without His Help. It keeps you grounded alhamdulillah. There is no scope of being proud when I perform a good deed or feeling completely hopeless when I commit a sin.
Ustadha did mention a very beautiful quote from a scholar. I believe we can use it as a motto inshaAllah.

“If we cannot gladden someone, let us not sadden them. If we cannot benefit someone, let us not harm them. If cannot speak well of someone, let us not speak ill of them."

Allah is Al-Halim, the Forbearing one. He tolerates with goodness. Even when we are disobedient to Him, He blesses us with so many blessings. The life on earth (dunya) is not easy but our Rabb wants us try our best. Every evil is based on our ego. Our ego always tells us to react in a wrong way. It is a huge temptation. But we must control our ego. And to achieve that, first we must ask Allah to help us. O Allah! I seek Your refuge from the evil of my nafs (ego), ameen!

Why has Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala taught us His beautiful names and attributes? So that we can instil the beautiful qualities. We have the potentials to follow his attributes. By following the last prophet Muhammad sallallahu alaihe wa sallam inwardly and outwardly we can improve our characters. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala enable us to follow His attributes and be the righteous ones, ameen! Nothing is impossible with His Help.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

MRDF Family retreat : The Companions:Their lives and legacy

The event was from 28th to 31st of August 2015 and it was held at University of Leicester. We have been to the university before attending the JIMAS conference couple of years ago. We left after Jumuah as the MRDF people did mention that they are not providing any jumuah facility there on the day. So we left just after jumuah. There was a bit of traffic on the way as lot of people leave London around bank holiday weekends. When we finally reached Leicester, we smelt quite a lot of cow dung! Kids were quite shocked by the smell. For me, it was quite a delight as the smell took me back to my childhood holidays to my granddad's place in rural Bangladesh. My granddad was a very devoted farmer. He died last year. May Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala bless him with jannatul ferdous.
Leicester is known as the heart of rural England. It was great to see so many cattle scattered around the area. Sometimes as city dwellers we lose our crucial connection to nature. That's why travelling to rural areas is very important. I don't think our kids will ever appreciate the countryside the way we did. I miss my childhood, roaming around rural Iran and during holidays , rural Bangladesh.
We reached there at the campus around 6 pm Alhamdulillah. During our stay at the university, we attended quite a lot of lectures, panel discussions and seminars. I did take quite a lot of notes Alhamdulillah. I hope to share some here with you inshaAllah.
Our companions are the best of our Ummah. Nobody can be better than them. They are like the starts. W need to follow them if we have the same goal like them. Their main goal was pleasing Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala and a strong desire to be successful in hereafter (Akhira). They sacrificed whatever they can to establish Islam as a faith on this earth. If we question their integrity, we are actually questioning our faith! The faith was established on this earth by them with the help of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala and Rasulullah sallallahu alaihe wa sallam. Allah subhanahu wa talala Himself mentioned in His Book, the Qur'an that He is pleased  with them. How can we criticize them or question their integrity as believers? The person who criticizes them, has a sickness in his heart.
Companions are not like angels, free of desires. But they did their best as believers. They constantly asked for forgiveness as they know that Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala loves the people who constantly repent. We as Muslim have an obligation to follow them. In Surah At-Tawba , Allah swt tells us that He is pleased with those who follow the sahaba. Imam Malik (Ra) tells us that their actions are loved by Allah swt so we should follow them. They are the most blessed. Allah swt blessed them with criterion , to know the difference from good and bad, right and wrong. Imam Malik (RA) tells us, what was not part of Islam before, cant be part of Islam today. So there is no place for "reformation" of our faith.
When the companions agreed about something ( had ijma on issues) , it became pure for us. We follow their verdict without questioning. Because they had the most authentic knowledge. And their action was based on that pure knowledge.

MRDF Family retreat 2015

Last year, we went to the Eden family retreat organised by Islamic network. We had a blast Alhamdulillah! This year we have been eagerly waiting for another Eden family retreat. But unfortunately they couldn't organize the event this year. I was looking for an alternative. Alhamdulillah heard about MRDF family retreat. I heard from other sisters how good the retreat is so we decided to give it a try. Alhamdulillah we had a great time as a family.
Kids running around the prayer hall
The four days spent at University of Leicester was really beautiful. Every single member of the family enjoyed their time and benefited from the retreat. It was truly a retreat for me from my daily mama life Alhamdulillah. No cooking, cleaning, looking after kids! We had breakfast in the morning and then drop our three kids to their activity zone and head to the lecture halls to learn about the greatest generation of the Muslims: the companions i.e sahaba of our beloved Rasulullah Sallallahu alaihe wa sallam. It was very inspiring to learn about the mothers of believers . Shaikh Haitham Al-Haddad ran the seminar about the great women of our ummah. We also learnt about great companions such as Abu Bakr (RA), 'Umar (RA), Salman Al-Farisi (RA), Khalid Bin Walid (RA) Alhamdulillah. As a teenager, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the great companions. It always boosts our imaan. They are the greatest role models for us. But how many of us really know about them? I hope to learn more about the companions inshAllah and read their stories to our children inshAllah.
Through the activities, kids learnt a lot about the companions Alhamdulillah. When we came back, we did the quiz the teachers from MRDF has provided us with. I am really glad that kids did very well. I learnt a lot from them Alhamdulillah. I am so inspired by the retreat that I hope to attend the MRDF Family conference in December at Nottingham inshAllah. I know it is quite pricey but it is definitely worth spending money on inshAllah. For me, holidays should be not only about enjoying beautiful views but also about getting inspired spiritually and intellectually so that we can return to our real world with a strong passion to live life for Him inshaAllah. You can learn more about the conference at Building a fabric of society : Ridding ourselves of social ills

Seeking knowledge

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful
Reception: Beetle
Alhamdulillah our youngest one just started full time school. Last 8 years I have been busy raising our three children Alhamdulillah. There was a phase when I was changing three nappies! I realized toilet training is not my cup of tea. I really enjoyed breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby wearing, playing (most of the time outdoor) and story telling. Can't believe how quickly they have grown up mashAllah! Now when I drop them at the school, the youngest one says not to accompany him to his class. He wants to behave like his older siblings. Moments like this makes me wonder whether I will be needed by them in future. I am sure as parents we will always be cherished inshAllah but the extent of dependency on us will definitely get less and less. We may need them more as we grow old. I tell them we will be the babies and they may need to look after us as parents. Circle of life :-)
Now that all the kids are at school, I can concentrate on my study inshAllah. I thought this day will never come! Subhanallah time flies! While at university, I started taking my faith seriously. I started practising with conviction alhamdulillah. We had a good library at the prayer room. As I am an avid reader, that was a great opportunity to delve into the religious books Alhamdulillah. I used to rush from the lectures and seminars to be there at the prayer room with my beloved sisters who helped me so much to understand our faith properly Alhamdulillah. One of the sisters taught me how to read the Qur'an with proper tajweed. There was a point in my life where I thought I wish I can just devote my whole time to seek knowledge for His Sake. But  as a social being, I got carried away and spent most of my time at work. Then got married and a new phase started...motherhood. It is definitely a very challenging job. 24/7 with no breaks! I still tried my best to attend the circles of knowledge i.e halaqa but I used to get frustrated if kids made noise. I love going to the masajid. But I found it very difficult to go to the mosque with kids. I want our children to have a positive attachment to the house of Allah but I found majority of the masajid not very family friendly.
Now that, our kids are at school, I hope to seek knowledge properly and spread the knowledge through writing and socialising inshAllah. I am really blessed to be able to attend the circles of knowledge on a weekly basis Alhamdulillah. These places are regarded as the gardens (of Jannah) on earth. Our beloved Rasulullah sallallahu alaihe wa sallam said, “If you pass by the Gardens of Paradise, then dwell therein.” When asked what the gardens of paradise are, he replied, “The circles of remembrance.”
As Muslim community, we have a long way to go inshAllah. Most of us don't really understand our faith properly because the knowledge wasn't that available to us before. Alhamdulillah people are getting more aware of their faith thanks to the dedicated teachers and shuyukh in the community. Internet is also a huge blessing for us Alhamdulillah. I have learnt a lot through the social media and YouTube and Bayyinah TV. I hope I will be able to devote more time in seeking knowledge inshAllah. And seeking knowledge should be only for His Pleasure. The more we know about Him, the more we will love Him and worship Him. Please do keep us in your precious dua.
O Allah, I ask You for knowledge that is of benefit, a good provision and deeds that will be accepted.
O Allah, make the Qur'an the spring of my heart and the light of my chest, the banisher of my sadness and the reliever of my distress.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Eden family retreat 2014

Eden family retreat at Birmingham
Alhamdulillah we have had an amazing family retreat at Eden, in Birmingham. It was from 22nd to 25th of August 2014. The event was packed with lots of lectures and activities. For lot of people traffic was bad on Friday. We left after jumuah at 2:30 and we reached there at Aston university at 5:30. We used the satnav on my phone which has the option to use routes with lesser traffic alhamdulillah. It took us 3 hours to get to our destination from London alhamdulillah. When we reached there, checking in was quite quick alhamdulillah

We booked one big room but they gave us two rooms for health and safety reason. The restaurant had various halal food alhamdulillah. We had to book the activities. I booked archery and swimming sessions. Unfortunately lot of brothers couldn't book for the swimming session. Kids had activities through out the day. We had to drop them off after breakfast and collect them at 12 for lunch and drop them off again after lunch and collect them for dinner at 6. Alhamdulillah this arrangement made it possible for us to attend the lectures and workshops without the hassle of looking after kids. It was like proper "me time" alhamdulillah. I thoroughly enjoyed the lectures. Sister Fatima Barkatullah talked about Islam and feminism (whether we Muslims need feminism), sheikh Abu Bilal talked about the importance , sheikh Abdul Bary Yahya talked about the importance of dua and qiyam at night. I attended parenting workshop and surah Fatiha workshop. Tried to attend marriage workshop but it was too crowded and couldn't really concentrate. Sheikh Aa'la did great lectures mashAllah. There were panel discussion on unity among Muslims and oppression. There were funny chai chat after Maghrib Salah. I enjoyed a night out in the prayer marquee with friends till 2 am alhamdulillah. We sisters rarely get a chance to chill out with our girl friends. So it was my opportunity to spend some time with friends. There were couple of stalls near the reception such as Little Explorer magazine, Al-Kauthar, National Zakat Foundation, Charity Right, IEat, imam hijab etc. I wish they had more stalls and tuck shops for snacks and drinks. 
Alhamdulillah it was a great family treat for us. We have really enjoyed every single day of the treat. Time passed so quickly! We were quite sad at the last day of the retreat. Kids were missing their daylong sessions. Alhamdulillah we have learnt a lot too. It was a great Iman boosting event. We are looking forward to future Eden events insha Allah. May Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala accept their efforts and make the event full of Baraka for Muslims in the UK. Ameen!

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Short but continuous deeds

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah dear readers,

It has been ages since I last blogged. Time flies! One of the signs of the last days before the Day of Judgement is the passing of time so quickly! May Allah subahanahu wa ta'ala enable us to do our best with our limited time on this earth. May He subhanahu wa ta'ala put baraka in our time, ameen. One of the way to get baraka i.e blessing in our time is to do our morning and evening adhkar on a daily basis, my ustadha says. Also waking up half an hour or one hour before others can make a huge difference. It can be our "me" time before the hectic day starts. 

This year things are a bit different for me. Alhamdulillah I have started driving on a daily basis.It took me three years of countless lessons, 2 theory tests, 5 practical tests to get to this stage alhamdulillah! Childcare was an issue as we had three kids under 6 during that time. Alhamdulillah my better half has been looking after the kids. He has been a great support alhamdulillah. I had to take lesson with my great instructor lady around 6/7 in the morning. I have learnt a lot from her. She is a very active lady, not just a driving instructor but a dental nurse, blind/curtain maker and last but not the least, a marathon runner! She goes to gym everyday at 6! And she is also a vegan! One of my goals I hope to achieve one day insha Allah! I feel blessed to have her as my instructor alhamdulillah. Having a good instructor is very crucial otherwise we can just literally waste our time , money and efforts. My first instructor who looked like a practicing Muslim lady almost crushed my confidence. She forced me to have my theory test when I wasn't even prepared. Her teaching technique was so rigid that I started fearing driving lessons thinking I must be just rubbish at driving. So it is very important to choose the right person to teach driving who you can trust wholeheartedly and someone who believes that you can do it. 

Trust me, if I can drive, you can too! Insha Allah with perseverance and lots of dua anything is possible. There are so many times I felt like giving up but I kept on trying. This is a great skill to have as a mum alhamdulillah. I am a very active mum and take my kids to lot of outdoor activities alhamdulillah. We walk a lot but some places are not really walking distance. Even using public transport can be a hassle to get to forests and places like that with three kids and a pushchair. 

Alhamdulillah this year for the first time I have managed to take our three kids to Hainault country park in the holiday with group of close friends. I felt very accomplished alhamdulillah. The feeling of being able to create beautiful memories with kids and the car :-) is just priceless alhamdulillah. I enjoy driving alhamdulillah. But I wish I can drive faster which is impossible in London. I hate meet and cross. Anyway, I am so grateful to Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala for enabling me to drive alhamdulillah. Now I hope I don't cause any serious problem on the road for us and others insha Allah. I am learning the duas for travel. Everyday 5/6 minutes before I start driving, I am doing my duas to be a safe driver. It is a huge responsibility. I see so many people who are not aware of the basic rules on the road. Then I wonder how many rules I am not aware of or not following ! May Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala save me from causing any harm to us and others, ameen!

Having said that, driving does make me feel lazy and quite unfit as it restricts exercise time for me. I used to walk a lot. That's why I only drive to certain places as I do want to have the much needed practice. I am still trying to walk to lot of places almost every single day as it keeps me fit. My next target is running for half an hour every other day insha Allah at my local park . I need a partner who can motivate me to carry on insha Allah. 

I used to fast Mondays and Thursdays. But got lazy (as usual) and finding it very hard to fast twice a week. I have recently learnt that our nafs i.e soul/ego is like an Arabian horse. If it is given a choice, it tends to run left and right instead of going straight. When we want to perform any act of worship, our soul suggests us to do the hardest acts to punish us. When we force ourselves to do the hardest acts we eventually give up the act. This is exactly what our ego/soul wants us to do. 

But, Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala wants us to be moderate in our worship. He loves the small but regular acts of worship. When we do deeds on a regular basis just to please Him and show how much we love Him, it becomes a habit. Our soul gets a gradual training and it becomes easy to worship Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. Alhamdulillah I am glad that I have realized this truth now. To train my beastly soul, I have started fasting only three days a month alhamdulillah. I can feel that it is lot more manageable alhamdulillah. 

As Muslims, we are suppose to perform deeds only recommended by the Qur'an and the Sunnah. So I needed some evidence. There are plenty of ahadith about fasting. I have found couple of ahadith which I love to refer back to on a monthly basis to motivate myself to fast three days. I hope these ahadith helps you too insha Allah. 

Abu Hurairah (RadiAllahu anhu) reported: My friend (the Messenger of Allah) sallallahu alaihi wa sallam directed me to observe fast for three days in every month, to perform two Rak'ah (optional) Duha prayer at forenoon and to perform the Witr prayer before going to bed. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Abud-Darda reported : My friend (the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) directed me to observe Saum (fasting) for three days in every month, to perform two rak'ah (optional) Duha prayer at forenoon and to perform the Witr prayer before going to bed. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

'Abdullah bin 'Amr bin Al-As reported: The Messenger of Allah sallallahu alaihi wa sallam said, " Observing Saum (fasting) on three days of every month is equivalent to a full month's fasting."[Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Mu'adhah Al-'Adawiyah radiAllahu anhu reported: I asked 'Aishah radiAllahu anhu "Did the Messenger of Allah, sallallu alaihi wa sallam, used to observe three days of Saum in every month? She replied, "Yes." I asked, "On which days in the month did he observed fast?" She replied that he did not mind on which days of the month he observed fast. [Muslim] In the commentary of this particular hadith, Hafiz Salahuddin Yusuf wrote that this hadith makes it clear that one can observe Saum on any three days of the month and it is not necessary to fix these days. However, it is more meritorious to observe Saum on 13th, 14th and 15th of each lunar month because the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam has so ordained it. He himself also used to take special care of these dates and observe Saum on them, as is evident from the forthcoming Ahadith.

Abu Dharr (RadiAllahu anhu) narrated that the Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala said, " If you want to observe saum on three days in a month, then fast on the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth of the lunar month." [At-Tirmidhi]

Qatadah bin Milhaan radiAllahu Anhu reported: The Messenger of Allah sallallahu alaihi wa sallam directed us to observe Saum on the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth of the lunar month. {Abu Dawud]

Ibn 'Abbas reported: It was the practice of the Messenger of Allah sallallahu alaihi wa sallam to not to omit fast on 'bright days' whether he was staying at a place or on a journey.[An-Nasa'i]

In the commentary of this hadith, Hafiz Salahuddin Yusuf wrote, "Beed" is the plural of Abyad which means white. Three days of 13,14 and 15 of lunar month are called "Al-Ayyam-ul-Beed" for the reason that their nights are bright because of the moonlight. The moon begins to diminish gradually after these days. 

I have collected these ahadith from Riyah-us-Saliheen Volume two Chapter 230 titled The desirability of observing three days of fasting in every month page 952-954.

My Ustdaha and several shuyukh I follow have strongly recommended Imam An-Nawawi's excellent book Riyad-us-Saliheen which comes in two volumes. This book is meant to be for people who are not scholars but seekers of knowledge who want to learn the faith to practice Islam properly. Hadith collections such as Al-Bukhari is meant to be for scholars. So please do buy the Riyad-us-Saliheen and make it a habit to read and reflect on a regular basis in sha Allah.

Ramadan is due in 87/88 days insha Allah. So this habit of fasting three days a month can also help the body and mind to get into Ramadan mode in shaa Allah. Let us make the intention to fast three days a month to prepare for the great month of Ramadan just like our predecessors , the Companions of the beloved Rasulullah, who used to start preparing for Ramadan six months ahead of the sacred month! I hope this post is beneficial insha Allah. May Allah subhanahua wa ta'ala forgive our shortcomings and give us the tayseer and tawfique to perform acts on a regular basis to show how much we love Him and want to be close to Him, ameen! 

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The end of another year...Hijri 1435

Bismillah In the name of Allah Subhanahu wa ta'ala, the Most Merciful, the Most Loving

Assalamu alaikum dear readers, 

I hope you are doing great, busy with family, friends. Alhamdulillah this year has been quite a busy one for us. Can't believe how quickly time flies subhanallah! It feels like just the other day we started the new year. Now in couple of days,  Hijri 1435 will leave us forever. May Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala put baraka in our time! So what did we achieve this year? Have we had good time with family and friends for His sake? Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala blessed us with so much, have we thanked Him enough? Have we utilised His numerous blessings to please Him, to show our Love for Him, only Him? Alhamdulillah we have witnessed another amazing Ramadan and more recently the Ten great days of Dhul Hijjah. So many of us have left this world this year and here we are, the blessed ones, who are still given another chance to return to Him, alhamdulillah. During these last couple of days before the new year 1436 starts, let us reflect on our life, on Him and on our Relation with Him. Let us repent for all the wrong deeds we did intentionally and unintentionally. Let us ask Him to accept our good deeds and purify our intentions so that we do every single deed, no matter how mundane it may seem, to please Him. We don't know which deed of us can earn us His Mercy and Ridwaan i.e Pleasure. So we should never under-estimate any deeds. 

Alhamdulillah so many wonderful memories we created with His blessing during this year...

Kids have learnt how to do wadu, wash themselves for prayer. They have learnt some chapters of the Qur'an alhamdulillah. They attended Saturday classes to learn Arabic and Islamic studies. They were learning some good stuff mashallah but the center keep changing the teachers which was quite sad. We took them out as they were not happy there. It is very important for me to see them enjoying their learning adventure. For couple of months I had to teach them but the pace was very slow. This year I realized it is very difficult to be the mum and the teacher at the same time. I needed a proper structure which I am not very good at. If I am in good mood, I can manage to get lot of work done alhamdulillah. But if I am feeling down, it is very hard to get even a single task done properly. It took time to come to this realization. As I was teacher myself, I always thought I will teach my kids myself. 

Every child is different and react in different ways. We may plan ahead and have all the dreams mapped out in front of us. But our children may not like our plans. Plans done with best of intention can still produce no result as every child is different. I have been a passionate believer of home-schooling. I have been home-schooled ( free range learning, I believe) for first ten years of my life alhamdulillah. I had an amazing childhood in Iran, in the city of Garamsar near Tehran, interestingly the home-town of former president of Iran Mr.Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. 

I grew up playing, socializing, spending long ours outside of the home, most of the time with children 
of different nationalities. As a child I felt life was great alhamdulillah, being so close to 
nature. I started school around the age of 11. And I hated it. It was a big change for me. 
I never loved formal learning.

believe in independent learning. As soon as teachers talked about exam, I used to get annoyed. I hated 
exams. I was an avid reader and I am still an avid reader. I like to read my own choice of books. I did 
managed to complete all the formal education i.e GSCE, A levels, University. But I never lose sight of 
my passion. I wanted to read a lot and write passionately about the things that mattered to me. 
School was more interested in getting us higher grades and that's all. So for me, education at a formal 
setting was always a boring place to be. I thought our children will feel the same but life is full of surprises.
Alhamdulillah it has been just more than an year that two of our kids have started full time schooling. 

First couple of months was quite hard for me. They have been enjoying their school from the beginning. But I was suffering from guilt, guilt of not able to home educate them. But seeing how happy they are and how much they are learning, I had to rethink my approach to educating our children. May be it is too early to make up my mind yet. Let us see how it goes this year. I hope in sha Allah our kids will be looked after by Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala and will be guided to the right path, ameen. 

Final part of my notes from Ustadha Yasmin Mogahed's seminar

Bismillah...In the Name of Allah, The Most Loving, The Most Merciful 

The primary need of men is to feel respected and the primary need of women is to feel loved. Women are great at loving unconditionally but what makes men really happy is respecting them. Sometimes lot of women think that until the men shows love, they won't show respect. But the less respect women have, the more unloving the men become. It is a 'crazy cycle'. It is perpetual. What we need for a healthy conjugal relation is to have unconditional love and unconditional respect. The fastest way to dry up a marriage is to disrespect a man. Part of respect is not to change him. Unconditional respect means to putting up with normal human qualities, not abusive qualities.

Our faith teaches us that men are the protectors, the carers who must deal with mercy and justice. The more respectful you are towards your men, the more love you will get in return. Our beloved Rasulullah Sallallahu Alaihi Sallam advised men to be kind to women, be loving and merciful towards them. And he taught women to be respectful towards their male family members and relatives. 

Someone asked how can women control their emotion and be respectful to the menfolk in their life. Ustadha said it is not an easy job but we must try our best. We should be regular in tazkiyah i.e purification of the soul. Only through the subjugation of our lower nafs we can become better human beings. We must remember that anger comes from our nafs and Satan. Part of tazkiyah is to have self-control. Women must ponder upon the effect of disrespecting men. When we disrespect our fathers, husbands, we are hurting them very deeply. Disrespecting them means attacking their manhood. It is a sign of emotional maturity for a woman to really understand the importance of respecting men. Without this important element, we can't achieve a healthy relation with our spouses. The problem with majority of women is regarding every single thing as a battle. Women must be intelligent to choose their battle. 

Someone in the audience reminded us the Hadith of our beloved which says that majority of the inhabitants of hell will be women. And the reason is the bad habit of complaining on a regular basis i.e lack of appreciation. Appreciation is very crucial in terms of showing respect to the spouse. For example, my spouse may forget to get something I have asked for. But instead of giving him an excuse, I tell him "You never remember to do the things I tell you." or "You are irresponsible!" Sadly lot of women sometimes disregard all the good things their spouse do for them. It is very easy for women to use terms like 'never' and 'always'. 

I am glad that she mentioned and explained this very important issue. So may times we see how women can be their own enemies. As a woman myself, I see so many injustice committed by women towards men and other women (which is another huge topic on its own). And unfortunately lot of time, by virtue of being a woman, we support the injustice. Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala tells us in the Qur'an that we should be careful not to commit injustice even it involves us and family members. Very few women have perfected their faith. If we see the greatest women in Islam, all of them have been great because of their unique qualities as women of faith. They are special because of their strong relation with Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. In terms of conjugal relation, let us study the life of lady Khadija RadiAllahu Anha and lady Fatima RadiaAllahu Anha. Study how they treated their beloved husbands, fathers, sons, brothers and male members of their family. There is a lot to learn from them in shaa Allah. To have an ever-lasting relation with our husbands, we must admit our weaknesses and faults first. And that's a great start. Because without acknowledging our faults, we can't fix our relationships. Ustadha Yasmin has highly recommended the book by John Gray "Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus". This book is also recommended by sheikh Yasir Qadhi. The other book she has recommended is "Love and Respect: The love she most desires and the respect he desparately needs" by Emerson Eggerichs. 

Communication pattern

When in distress, women in general like to talk to express their feelings. And the talking helps women to feel better. But when men are in distress, they like to go their cave i.e they need time and space to recover. They need their quiet time. But the problem with women is out of love they chase the men to their cave and almost force them to share their feelings! When women are in distress and want to to just talk about it with their spouse, men being the one always thinking about 'solving the problem' tend not to be a good listener and end up commenting that she is irrational. But what the woman needs is just the validation of her feelings. She just wants to be listened. She is not necessarily looking for a solution. 

Someone asked about the concept of soul mate. She said that the concept of soul mate actually comes from our faith. Ibn Hajam Rahimallah quotes a Hadith where our beloved Rasulullah told us that we all human beings stood in front of our Creator Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala before the creation of this earth as souls and told Him that we will only worship Him. At that great gathering, the similar souls stood together. And on this earth , the similar minded people tend to hang out together hence we meet our soulmates, alhamdulillah. I loved the analogy , never thought like this. 

So how can we be good spouses...

First step is to change ourselves for the better in shaa Allah. And to do that we must follow the path of tazkiyya, purifying our hearts. But we must remember not to blame ourselves for everything. The healthy attitude is to think that I'm not perfect but I want to be better in shaa Allah. I must believe that my heart, my soul, my body is a trust from Allah so I can't let anyone abuse it. If you are in an abusive relationship, you must get out of it. Because Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala doesn't want us to be abused in any way. Sometimes people tend to suggest that we should just have sabr. But sabr i.e patience is not a passive state. It is about perseverance. It is about striving to fight, stop oppression. There were quite a lot of questions about abusive relationships. She said that there is an irrational fear of divorce. Divorce is given as a valid option by Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala when relationships don't work. However, it is a taboo in the community to talk about divorce. We must remember that we Muslims are a people of Middle path. We are not like Catholics. Divorce is a halal option to get out from a relationship which is not working after every bit of efforts to save it. No one is saying that we should jump to divorce. It is the last option after everything else fails. 

There are four things that can completely destroy the marriage according to a research done by John Gottman: Constant criticism, contempt (instead of giving excuse thinking the spouse is just irresponsible), counterattack and stone walling i.e complete shut down and not engaging in conversation. She talked about a relationship experiment by John Gottman named "The love lab".

Why bad things happen to good people....someone asked. What we must believe is nothing is bad. Bad things never happen to good people. We tend to define good and bad based on our limited knowledge. Our definition of goo and bad is based on Dunya. So our context is also very limited. Anything that brings us closer to our Rabb is good. Whatever makes us go away from our Rabb is bad for us, no matter how "good" it may seem. Whatever situation we are in, we should always have patience and show gratitude. 

Having hardships in life is like getting a fast track to our Rabb. Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala elevates His servants through giving them hardships, given the servants are patient and content with the hardship.
There are five different love languages; words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch. We all express our love to our spouses in different love languages. Women tend to love words of appreciation. That's why women appreciate cards and flowers with a personal message by their loved ones. As partners, we need to find our love languages. There is a good book on this issue named 'The five love languages' written by Dr.Gary Chapman.

Alhamdulillah I am glad I went to Ustadha Yasmin's day long seminar. I have learnt a lot alhamdulillah. I have also bought her CD where she talks about the prophets in the Qur'an. I try to listen to the CD with our kids so that we can discuss with them. I love the way she gives the examples. I hope to follow her suggestions. Alhamdulillah my three part notes are all available on this blog. I hope these posts are beneficial in shaa Allah for the people who could not attend the seminar. Please do keep us in your precious dua. Any mistake here in this blog is from me and anything of good and khair is from our Rabb Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. 

To learn more from her please visit visit her website  and I will highly recommend her great book 'Reclaim your heart'.
I would like to thank Al-Buruj for doing this great seminar. I just hope that next time they do get a bigger place and provide proper space for salah. This is my fourth event with them. It gets quite crowded. I hope they will tackle this issue in a better way in future gatherings in shaa Allah. May Allah accept our efforts, ameen!

Part 2 of Ustadha Yasmin Mogahed seminar

You cannot enjoy something which you are dependent on. When we are starving emotionally , we are willing to put up with abusive relations. We will put up with anything. Because we are in a desperate situation. We won't survive without it. Ustadha gave us a good example. Imagine you haven't had food for few days and someone gives you a cheese cake. How would you eat it? Can you enjoy every bite of it or are you going to gobble it up as soon as possible because of hunger? Now imagine someone who just had a proper meal half an hour ago and you serve the cheesecake to her. She can enjoy the cheesecake , every bite of it as she is having it for pleasure not out of sheer hunger. Imagine giving a mouldy cheesecake to the very hungry person. Would he deny it? Of course not, because he is very hungry. What about the person who just had a proper meal? No doubt, she won't touch it. 

It is very dangerous to be in a state of desperation as your choice become very limited. You are willing to settle for anything. Never take your desperation to anyone but Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. Only He is capable of helping us. When we desperately ask the other human beings (who are essentially beggars too) to help us, fix us, we are bound to suffer. We are poor and Allah is Al-Ghani the Rich. We are His slaves and in constant need of His help. We are completely dependant on Him. Why should we beg the beggars when Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala is the One who loves to hear us beg and is capable of answering us. 

Someone in the audience asked about how to deal with parents who are so worried for their daughters that they try to force them to get married to people who are not really suitable as spouses. Ustadha told us, "Don't settle for mouldy cheesecake!" I am glad she said that. From my personal experience, I would say that don't lower your standard. Have patience and tawakkul. Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala knows your situation. He has already created a mate for you. Make lots of dua. Beg Him with desperation. One of my favourite dua before getting married was “Rabbanaa hablanaa min azwaajinaa wa dhurriyyatina qurrata a’yun(iw), wa ‘j’alnaa li’l muttaqiina imaaman.” And who say: Our Lord! Bestow on us from our wives and our offspring, the comfort of our eyes, and make us leaders for the Muttaquun (pious).” - (part of Qur’an Surah 25:74) I did that dua a lot while at hajj in 2006 specially during the day of Arafa'. I found my soulmate alhamdulillah just after a month I came back from pilgrimage. That dua is still one of my favourite as it is such a comprehensive dua alhamdulillah. What else can you ask for? So please don't settle for a mouldy cheesecake! You will get married when it is perfect for you. Allah is the best of planners.

Dua is essentially begging our Rabb. Just visualise how we raise our hands when we supplicate to Him. When we beg Allah, we are elevated. But when we beg His creation, we are humiliated. When we make dua saying Rabbana hablana min ajwazina ...hablana comes from the root word hiba which means gift. So we are asking Allah to gift us. Gift in essence is undeserved, unexpected. These gifts mention in this particular dua (spouses and children) are described as coolness of our eyes. But notice they are not mentioned as air for our lungs. Why? Because they are gifts, gifts are not deserved or expected. It's great to have them but without these gifts you can still survive. Alhamdulillah Allah gives us gifts through out our life. He decides what gifts to give us. Not all of us are gifted with same things. But we tend to look down on someone who may not be gifted like us. Sometimes we take credit for the gifts. If I have done well academically and I start to believe that it is due to my own hard work, I will be guilty of taking credit for something Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala has gifted me with. We must be very careful of this mindset. It is arrogance, it is showing ungratefulness to our Lord. So don't take credit for Allah's gifts. Qarun did that by being arrogant and taking credit for all the wealth Allah gifted him with. His story is in the Qur'an. His wealth was swallowed by the earth as a punishment . So beware of taking credit for your education, career, spouse, children, wealth and so on. 

Sometimes due to arrogance, we start judging others. When someone's not married, we keep asking them why. When someone is married, we keep asking when are they going to become parents. Everyone's gifts and tests are unique. Just because someone's test is different than yours don't think you are better than them or you are worthy of your gifts. We are tried by our unique gifts. We must be grateful for them and try our best to use them to get closer to Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. 

She mentioned a Hadith about a guy who came to to the prophet Muhammad Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam and asked him how can we gain Allah's love and the love of the people. He Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam said not to get attached to this earth , the Dunya and Allah will love you. And don't attach yourself to people, don't be in their need and people will love you. The more we run for peoples' love, approval, attention, validation, the more they will dislike you and will run away from you. The more you run after people, the more they will run from you. Remember, no body likes a beggar. 

Why do we like FaceBook so much? Because it gives us validation. We put our rants as status and we keep checking for notification to see how many people liked it. Search for that very important validation from Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. Fulfil the needs, love, self-worth, confidence by approaching Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. You cannot get respect by begging for it. Be firm and have confidence as a Muslim. When you are proud of who you are, only then people will respect you. When we are a minority in a non-Muslim country, we can't get their approval of us by begging to accept us. We can't just behave like the mainstream population, wearing our hijab as a fashion statement, singing, dancing with the tune of "happy song" , desperately begging them, urging them to like us, asking them to believe that there is no difference between us. Respect is never earned through mimicking others. 

Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala is Al-Wadud. He is the source of love. Why should we run to people for love, affection, validation when Allah is the only One who can provide us with what we want. Instead of running to people let us run to the Source. Allah is the source of love. We should never think that we love Allah first and because of that Allah loves us. He is the one Who loves us first and put that love and yearning for Him in our hearts. And that is why we love Him. The hadith below confirms this fact.

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "If Allah loves a person, He calls Gabriel saying, 'Allah loves so and-so; O Gabriel! Love him.' Gabriel would love him and make an announcement amongst the inhabitants of the Heaven. 'Allah loves so-and-so, therefore you should love him also,' and so all the inhabitants of the Heaven would love him, and then he is granted the pleasure of the people on the earth." So Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala is the source of love.

Building a strong foundation with our Rabb can enable us to serve others. If you build a solid roots just like a good tree , no matter what kind of storm comes, it will not break you. As a believer we need to have firm roots of relation with Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, so that nothing can destroy you. Constant Remembrance of Allah, Zikr, Istighfar will help us to build that firm roots in shaa Allah.

Someone asked whether we are responsible for the quality of worship of our spouse and children. She said we must remember we are not responsible for results, but our efforts. Because Allah is the One who is in control of everything. Nuh Alaihis Salam (Noah) did his part , but guidance comes from Allah. Nuh Alaihis Salam has worked hard for 950 years but only handful of people become believers. His own son didn't listen to him. Our beloved last prophet Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam did his job for 23 years to invite people to Islam. The results are different for these two prophets. But they both are successful because of their efforts. If you as a parent or a child, doing your best in terms of efforts and still it is not working for you, it is not your fault. It doesn't mean Allah is not pleased with you. Do your best but never lose hope. Allah is aware of our situation. Results are in His control.

In search of good spouse....

Look for good character i.e akhlaq. Character is deeper than just looking at what sort of cloth someone wears. Just because someone wears a long beard and white thobe doesn't make him a religious guy. Just because someone wears a jilbab , abaya and niqab doesn't make her a pious woman. The true mark of Deen is in the character and action. Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala is the Gentle and loves gentleness. We can't afford to have arrogance. We should never look down on others. 

Spiritual but not religious...

Some people claim that they are very spiritual i.e they love Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala but they don't follow the rituals so they are not religious . Ustadha argued that the phrase is a contradiction to the claim of love. It is like a mother who claims she loves her child but don't want to express/show her love through feeding him, taking care of him. If you truly love Allah, then you need to express it (mawadda- expressed love) through following His last prophet Muhammad sallallahu alaihi wa sallam. If you really love someone, you always think about them. If you love Allah, obedience becomes a natural consequence. When He subhanahu wa ta'ala says jump, you say, how high? If we truly love Allah, our greatest fear will be to displease Him. We will be scared of getting disconnected from Him. 

Istikhara - a special dua to guide us the right path

Istikhara is a prayer to approach Allah to ask Him to guide us to the right direction. It has been highly ritualised. Now a days we tend to do istikhara the night before our wedding. However, it is essentially a dua. You acknowledge that you don't know and you ask Allah to show you the way. It is a perfect dua to ask for khair i.e goodness. When you are going through any sort of hardship, you should keep doing this beautiful prayer until Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala opens a door for you. 

Sometimes people think there will be some sort of dream after they did the prayer. But having a dream is not necessarily the result of doing the istikhara. There are three sources of dream: 
1. Ru'iya true dreams: Prophets' dreams are true dreams.
2. Dreams inspired by my own nafs which is more likely because of what I have been thinking through out the day.
3. Dreams by Satan 
Most f the time, it is impossible to figure out what sort of dream we had. 
After doing the istikhara, if things are working out quite smoothly, that means Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala is guiding you to the best direction. 

To be continued in shaa Allah... 

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Yasmin Mogahed: The greatest quest: Steps towards an everlasting marriage

Bismillah... In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful , the Most Giving, the Most Loving

Alhamdulillah on Sunday 15th of November I went to the seminar done by Ustadha Yasmin Mogahed 'The greatest quest: Steps towards an everlasting marriage' in shaa Allah. I was really looking forward to her seminar. Couple of years ago, I started reading her writings. Alhamdulillah Couple of years ago, I went to her first talk in London at LMC organised by Al Buruj press, sponsored by Orphans in Need. Since then every year , I like to attend her events. Her book 'Reclaim your heart' is an excellent read mashAllah. I believe it is a must read mashAllah. 
Alhamdulillah as usual, her talk was full of wisdom. I did take a lot of notes . What I need to do now during this week is to reflect, discuss and plan what areas I need to improve in shaa Allah. I have been discussing some of the issues she touched upon with my better half alhamdulillah . As it was a seminar about relationship, it is very crucial to discuss with the spouse and work together to build a sound, healthy conjugal relation. Before I share my notes, I want you to know these notes are based on what I have understood from her talk. I don't want you to think that these are exactly what Ustadha Yasmin said. In order to truly learn from her , I will suggest you to follow her on YouTube and read her writings on her website. In terms of verses from the Qur'an, I have used the translation by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem's The Qur'an published by Oxford University Press which is a highly recommended English translation by Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan. 

So here are some of my notes: 

First of all, Ustadha Yasmin explained the famous, frequently quoted ayah in almost every wedding invitation cards, "And another of His signs is that He created spouses from among yourselves for you to live with in tranquility: He ordained love and kindness between you. There truly are signs in this for those who reflect."Surah Ar-Rum The Byzantine : 21 

Here in this ayah, Allah is showing us a sign among the numerous signs in His vast creation. What is the purpose of a sign? The purpose of a sign is to direct us to our destination.  So marriage is one of the signs to our destination. This is not the sign but a sign among lot of other signs He has shown us. Our destination is be closer to our Rabb, our Lord, Allah subhanahu wa Ta'ala. Marriage is a path to that destination, but not the ultimate path to the destination. 

We live in a society where we are deluded in believing that we as women are not complete until we get married. People quote a particular Hadith to back this mentality, saying " Marriage is half of Deen i.e faith" But what we need to realise that men and women are individuals who have the potential to be complete only through worshiping Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala wholeheartedly. Maryam (Mary, mother of 'Eesa Alahis Salam) Alahis Salam is a great example of a complete woman. Was she married? Our beloved Rasulullah sallallahu alaihe wa Sallam informed us that Maryam Alaihis Salam is one of the women who perfected their faith. Popular media and culture give us this false impression that we are not complete until we get married. Sometimes we tend to think marriage is our ultimate destination. Just like the fairytales, where Sleeping beauty and Cinderella waiting eagerly for the charming princes to come to "save" them and complete them. But marriage is just a path among lot of other paths to our ultimate destination, which is to be closer to Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala.

Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala designed us with an emptiness which can be filled only through His remembrance. When we assign that purpose to our spouse, we are bound to feel disappointed. You have set him/ her up to failure. They will indeed feel like losers. And when we fail, we tend to shut down. We don't  feel like trying anymore. We are asking for too much from the spouse , assigning him/ her with superhuman job-description. So when the person continues to fail, he/ she eventually shuts down. And it is all due to having improper expectations. 

So what is the purpose of marriage? It is to help us to be better people and get closer to our Rabb, Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. Marriage is a training ground for our character . It is easy to learn the theoretical aspect of essential qualities such as patience, perseverance , honesty, trust but to act upon them, we must go through the training. And marriage gives us the golden opportunity to learn these crucial qualities to enable us to become better human beings. When you are a spouse, you learn to be patient, you try to control your lower nafs i.e your ego, learn to apologise. And that is why marriage is regarded as half of faith. 

We all have needs and our needs need to be fulfilled if we want us to be functioning properly and offer our service to others. Sometimes as women we make this big mistake of believing that our need doesn't matter. We give priority to the need of others, husband, children , parents, in-laws and so on. But we must have a balance. It is definitely not about me but at the same time, it is not like, my needs doesn't matter either. You gotta take care of yourself first and only then you can look after others in a better way. If you don't feel full and nourished from inside spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically, you will eventually have burn out. 

We all have our needs , needs to be nourished spiritually, emotionally, physically. But these needs can never be fulfilled by the creations. Only by approaching Allah, our thirst can be quenched. Creations are by nature imperfect and in need of others. We as creations are by default the beggars. No one likes beggars but Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala loves to be begged. Our beloved taught us to ask Him even for shoe laces. The essence of worship is dua i.e supplication, request to Allah the All-mighty. 

When we are nourished and full from within with Allah's love, we can have a healthy and sound relation with our family and friends. Only then we can truly love our family without the unhealthy dependancy on them. We no longer have the need to ask them to fill us, fix us. As a person who is full from within, you can offer far more to the family. The essence of generosity comes from being full already from inside. You become capable of offering others because you are not in need of others fulfilling your needs. So how do we get to that state where we can be content from within and offer others our service ? In order to build a strong relation with Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala we must follow these steps below on a daily basis :

1. Prayer: We must be diligent in praying our obligatory Salah five times a day and at the fixed time. Never miss a Salah. Sometimes people tend to pray all the Salah at the end of the day, some miss the fajr  prayer at dawn. She gave a powerful example . Imagine someone is suffering from cancer and her oncologist prescribed certain medicine to be taken at certain times through out the day. Does she miss taking the medicine? Does she take all of the doses in one go at the end of the day? Or does she says that I can't be bothered to take it on time as I am on Facebook now? To have a strong relation with our Rabb, we must take Salah very seriously. Salah is the oxygen of our soul. When we don't pray, our heart dies. The very life of our heart depends on Salah.

2. Building a strong relation with Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala's Book, Al-Qur'an: Reading, studying, pondering over the Qur'an on a daily basis. Make a plan of how much you can read on a daily basis. And ponder upon the verses on a daily basis.

3. Daily adhkaar : Download an app which has morning and evening dua with the meaning. Make it a habit of reciting the sunnah dua after the fajr prayer for the morning and after the Asar prayer do the evening dua. 

So these are her three part prescription which she calls 'The Zikr challenge' unlike the silly ice bucket challenge of pouring ice on your head! So the Zikr challenge can help us to build a strong relation with Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala in shaa Allah.

"People, be mindful of your Lord, who created you from a single soul, and from it created its mate, and from the pair of them spread countless men and women far and wide..." The Qur'an Women Al-Nisa 4:1 The essence of men and women is same, 'From you, for you', professor Abdel Haleem in his translation of the Qur'an says, 'From the same essence' Razi convincingly reached this conclusion based on comparison with many instances when 'min anfusikum' is used in the Qur'an.

He has blessed the married couple with sakinah , tranquility. When we examine traditional stories such as Romeo & Juliet , it is not tranquility that we find in their relation. It is more like torment and addiction. They were not at peace. Without each other's company , they couldn't survive. Death seemed like a great solution if they can't live with each other as they were addicted to each other. They become the ilah for each other, the object for worship. When we take any other ilah instead of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala , we become the slave of that object. We can't survive without the object. That's why we see people who literally live (worship) for their spouses, jobs, children etc, when something happens to them, they can't survive and commit suicide. Once Plato said, love is a serious mental illness. This sort of "love" popularly depicted by the popular culture is a serious mental illness. It is not healthy at all. 

Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala tell us His Book that when we take an ilah with Allah, then we will be tormented in this life and in hereafter. We must remember that no one can fill the void created by our Rabb. Only through His worship, we can be truly happy and feel content. If I make my spouse, my children, my wealth the object of my worship, I will be indeed tormented because they are never meant to fill us from within. Yasmin gave a example of a car which needs gas/petrol to move. Imagine instead of using the right fuel, I pour orange juice in the engine. It is bound to break down. When our focus is not right and we end up filling us with the wrong fuel, as a result we break down but we question Allah why did He do that to us!?! 

So how do we detach ourselves? The essence of detachment is keeping things in our hands instead of in our hearts. She told us a beautiful story of imam Abu Hanifa Rahimallah. Once while he was teaching his students, someone came and informed him that his ship has drowned. He took a moment to think and then he carried on his lesson. After a while the person came back and told him, it was actually a mistake. His ship is okay and on its way. Once again he took a moment to think and he resumed his lesson. His students felt curious to know why he did that. Imam Abu Hanifa Rahimallah said, when he heard his ship has drowned he checked whether his heart was moved by the loss of his wealth and he found it unmoved. And when he heard the ship was okay, he checked again the state of his heart and it was unmoved subhanallah. This is called detachment. There were lot of very wealthy sahaba (companions of the beloved prophet) who were detached from their wealth. They gave without any hesitation. 

Just before the lunch break, sister Shazia Saleem the founder of ieat (who sponsored the event) did a brief talk about her inspiration, lady Khadija RadiAllahu Anha. She was a very wealthy business lady. She was known as the princess of Quraish in Makkah. She offered her hand for marriage to our beloved Mummad Sallallahu Alaihe wa Sallam. When the prophet said he can't provide for a wife, she said she is okay with it. On her wedding night she gave a huge bag of gold coins as gift to her husband to honour him sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam. She was a great wife and she gave all her wealth to serve her beloved soulmate. When she died she didn't have a single coin in her name. Shazia said have we seen any wealthy person in this day and age who leave this earth without a single coin in their name. It is quite mind blowing to think what a great woman Khadija  RadiAllahu Anha was. No wonder she has been mentioned as one of the greatest women in Islam by our beloved prophet Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam . Her life story teaches us about detachment for Allah's sake.

"We shall certainly test you with fear and hunger and loss of property, lives and crops. But (prophet), give good news to those who are steadfast, those who say, when afflicted with a calamity, 'We belong to Allah and to Him we shall return.' These will be given blessings and mercy from their Lord and it is they who are rightly guided." Surah Al-Baqara 2:155-157

Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala teaches us in the Qur'an that we will face loss of loved ones, loss of wealth, loss of efforts during our short stay on this earth. Our body, intellect, beauty, parents, siblings, spouse, children and so on are all gifts from Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. They are in essence gifts. They are gifts for a limited time. No one can claim that he/she deserves the gift. Gift is given as a token of love and care. And the gifts in Dunya can be taken back as the verse indicates. Yasmin gave us a example. If she gives someone a car for ten years and after ten years she wants it back, can that person say no to her ? The car never belonged to that person. It was always her car. We must treat the gifts given by Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala in the same manner. The gifts are a trust. When it is taken away, we are reminded to say Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihir rajeuun. Allah gives glad tidings to the patient ones. Imagine you lost one of your loved ones and someone congratulating you on your loss. Allah reminds us that we belong to Him. Everything we have does not belong to us. It always belongs to Him. The statement He taught us is not just a mere statement. It is an entire world view. 

When we believe wholeheartedly that everything we have doesn't belong to us then no matter what we lose, we will never question our Lord, "Why me?","How could you do this to me?" The response of a believer will be inna lillahi wa inna ilaihir rajeuun which reminds him/her that everything belongs to Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala and she/he should have her/his gifts in their hand not in their heart just like Imam Abu Hanifa Rahimallah. 

When we focus on the hereafter, the nature of our attachment changes. Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala reminds us in the Qur'an that this life is a place of play and amusement . When we are very young, we love playing. When we are pre-teens , we love to be entertained. "I'm bored!" is the most favourite statement of a pre-teen. When we are teenagers, we are obsessed with our look and appearance. We spent ages in front of the mirror. Just before going out with friends, finding a pimple seems like a disaster. Then when we are at college, university, proving that we are capable of achieving a good degree becomes very important. Then comes getting settled by finding a dream job, getting married , having children, having a great house, car , etc become very crucial. Our creator reminds us in His Book, that in this life we compete each other with wealth and children. They become our ultimate attachment but in essence these "attachments" will disappoint us because they are meant to pass away. Nothing in this world remains unchanged. And that's why Allah reminds us through the signs in His creations that we must attach ourselves to Him and His pleasure only. In hereafter, these obsession with self-image, family, career, wealth won't really help us. Only by having a pure heart which enables us to do good for His sake, we can enter the garden.

Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala says in Surah Al-Kahf , "Tell them, too, what the life of this world is like: We send water down from the skies and the earth's vegetation absorbs it, but soon the plants turn to dry stubble scattered about by the wind: Allah has power over everything. Wealth and children are the attractions of this worldly life, but lasting good works have a better reward with your Lord and give better grounds for hope. On the day We make the mountains move away and you see the earth as an open plain, We shall gather all people together, leaving no one out. They will be lined up before your Lord: 'Now you have come to Us as We first created you, although you claimed We had not made any such appointment with you.' The record of their deeds will be laid open and you will see the guilty, dismayed at what they contain, saying,'Woe to us! What a record this is! It does not leave any deed, small or large, unaccounted for !' They will find everything they ever did laid in front of them: your Lord will not be unjust to anyone." The Qur'an 18:45-49 
To be continued In Shaa Allah...