Thursday, 24 December 2015

Winter break 2015

Bismillah In the Name of of Allah the Most Merciful

Alhamdulillah we have just started our much needed winter holiday. I am really excited as I have been planning for this holiday since September. We went to the MRDF family retreat at University of Leicester in August (28th to 31st) and we thoroughly enjoyed our time there alhamdulillah. I was so motivated by the fantastic event that I made a promise to myself to save for their next event in December. Alhamdulillah we have managed to save up for the MRDF family conference. InshAllah we will be leaving tomorrow to attend the conference at Nottingham. InshAllah I hope we all be able to benefit from the conference. May Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala accept our intentions and enable us to benefit from the beautiful gathering, ameen! InshAllah I hope to share the experience as much as possible with you all. keep us in your precious dua. Once again , Jazakallah khairan for reading. Happy holidays inshAllah. 

Just before I leave, let me share a tiny reflection on autumn, one amazing season subhanallah.

 Autumn is my favourite month. I love walking in the parks and enjoy the beautiful colours of the leaves. This magical season reminds me what an amazing creator Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala is, subhanallah. Each and every leaf reminds us our journey as a human being. Just like a leaf, I am also a traveller on a path of contradictory seasons. I am journeying to my Lord. Life will be full of ups and downs but I know eventually I will return to Him. The question is am I worthy of meeting Him. I hope just like a leaf I will be an obedient , faithful and thankful slave to Him. I hope I will do my best to please Him. I hope I will live and die on His path, inshaAllah. The humble leaf through its beautiful journey of changes, teaches us how we should be on this earth. May Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala enable us to be like the humble leaves.





Thursday, 10 December 2015

Ustadha Yasmin Mogahed's one day seminar

Bismillah
Seeking Solace: Hardships, Challenges and Difficulties in Everyday Life
Alhamdulillah we have spent our Sunday 22nd of November 2015 (10:30 to 6:30 pm) with Ustadha Yasmin Mogahed learning about how to deal with difficulties in life.
So often we experience hardships and challenges in life, and yet never see the connections between them. When we are given hardship, or feel pain, we often fail to consider that the experience may be the direct cause or result of another action or experience. Ustadha have dealt with quite a lot of issues and I have tried my best to take some notes alhamdulillah. I hope to divide the notes into three parts. InshAllah I hope the notes are beneficial.
I will highly recommend her book “Reclaim your heart: Personal insights on breaking free fromlife’s shackles” which got a new edition with new chapters on Tawakkul (trusting Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala). Also, the Arabic verses are printed with harakat in the new edition.
So without further due, let us start with the notes which are based on my understanding of her talk. Anything good from this post is from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and for anything wrong, please do forgive me. Jazakallah khairan. 

Before starting the course, Ustadha Yasmin reminded us to have sincere intentions and firm resolution to fulfill the intentions. Have a goal and remain focused.

Seeking Solace
We are looking for peace, happiness and success. Life is hard and full of challenges. But we cannot control the weather. It is something external. But every single time when it rains, do we get wet? Externally there will be circumstances which I cannot control but I can live in a way that protects me from the rainy weather.

As a Ummah , we are facing lot of challenges. We have become like the froth on oceans. We don’t have any say on which direction to move to. We move like the froth moves according to the waves. This analogy is based on a hadith (sayings) of our beloved Rasulullah sallallahu alaihe wa sallam. The companions of Rasulullah asked him why we would be so weak like the froth on the ocean despite our sheer numbers as Muslims on this earth. He told us due to wahn we will be weak. Wahn refers to the love of dunya and the fear of death.

We are too attached to this earth (dunya). Our weakness as the Muslim community is due to our strong attachments to our wealth, status, career, fame, peoples’ opinion of us and so on and so forth.
Whenever something bad happens, we tend to get the blame as Muslims. But as Muslims we know that we don’t believe in terrorism. We don’t support any act of terror. Still we see some of us start apologizing as soon as some crazy people in the name of our beautiful faith commit some horrible crime. Sometimes it seems like we are apologizing for being Muslims!
Ask yourself. Do we need any one’s approval? We should be content with our identity as Muslims. The problem is we don’t even know who we are. This problem is very deep. Imagine a tree. We are like a rotten tree. We are too obsessed with the leaves but forgetting the fact that the root of the tree is in greater need of our attention. Our hearts are too attached to dunya that’s why we have become slave to social, political, physical surroundings around us. There must be a change from within us. We keep blaming others for our problems. We refuse to see our own faults. But Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala tells us that He won’t change our situation until we change inwardly.
We have forgotten our roots. We forgot our purpose in life. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has given us honour (izzah) as Muslims. But we have lost that sense of honour.
 We are honoured to be His slaves
The most precious thing we have is the belief that there is no god but Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. We don’t obey anyone else but Allah. The concept of Laa illaha illallah is very important for Muslims.
We need to stop being defensive and start being proactive. Stop apologizing. Focus on what you are. You need to be better every day. You are a source of life. As a Ummah, we need to be source of life on this earth. Let us build things. Let us be proud as the slaves of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala on this earth.
So how do we navigate the weather?
Have a solid foundation. Seek knowledge. Know your religion. Imagine a well-rooted tree. A tree with small, weak roots will be knocked down quite easily by a not so strong wind. Seek knowledge and it will empower you inwardly as well as outwardly inshAllah.

Be very conscious of what you focus on. What I focus on grows. If I focus on a problem day and night, the problem will grow. Eventually the problem can consume me. It suffocates me. I feed the problem, when I focus on it. I become paralyzed and cannot do anything to solve it. So be careful of what you focus on.

Perspective is also very important. When I am standing on a top of a mountain, my views will be different than the people at the bottom of the mountain. My views of the mountain will be very clear if I am looking at it from an airplane. So we must step back to have a clearer view of any issues we are facing.

When we are focusing, we must be careful about what we are focusing on. If we always focus on everything which is wrong, we start becoming very negative. We become consumed by it. We become hopeless.
Whenever something bad happens, we become obsessed with it. And media is quite good in making us feel overwhelmed. One hadith says that Pharaoh had magicians. These magicians helped Pharaoh to control the people. The media does the same. It controls our mind. It brainwashes us. When we tune into media, we are in fact exposing ourselves to dangerous and brainwashing "information". You may think you are watching the news. But in reality, you are getting gradually sucked into their narratives.

We must be positive. The practice of gratitude is very important for us Muslims. Even secular psychology talks about the power of gratitude. We must understand the power of gratitude. Let us focus on what we do have and what are going right in our life. When we thank Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, He increases the blessings. So gratitude is the attitude we should nurture inshAllah.

Be like a traveler. When we are travelling, we appreciate the hotel room but we don’t get attached to the furniture and things in the hotel room. We certainly don’t invest in furniture in the hotel room because we know we are there for a while only. Just the same way, we are here on this earth for a limited time. We are on a journey and we focus on the destination which is to return back to our Creator, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. One of our beloved Rasulullah’s saying reminds us the reality of this life. “I am like a traveler who stops to have a bit of shade of a tree and keeps moving.” So this earth is just a shade of a tree for a while.

The statement “Inna lillahe wa inna ilaiher rajeuun” is very important concept for us. Verily, we are from Him and we will return to Him. We must live by this powerful concept.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says in the Qur’an:
“We shall certainly test you with fear, 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: 155-157

This ayah telling us that we will face harsh weathers. He is also telling us how to keep safe. There will be fear, hunger and loss. When it says fear, it means a glimpse of fear not the real fear people will be facing on the day of Judgement and afterwards in hell fire. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala protect us from that sort of fear, ameen!
When the loss of crops/fruits is mentioned it can mean loss of efforts for us, the postmodern Muslim, as not that many of us are farmers anymore! Sometimes we put lot of efforts but may not get the result we were expecting at the start.
When we are patient during hardship and we truly understand that we belong to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and we will be eventually returning to Him, Allah becomes pleased with us. He will shower us with His endless Blessings and His Mercy. He also calls them as the rightly guided. What else do we need!
Let us talk about these special people. These people live their lives with the concept of Inna lillahe wa inna ilaiher rajeuun. This is not just a lip service for them. They have the understanding of the reality of this life. They know that nothing belongs to them. They are aware of the limitations of this life. And they are pleased with whatever life throws at them. They are patient during hardship as well as during happiness. 

May Allah subhanau wa ta’ala make us like these special people, ameen! We must remember that nothing belongs to us. It is returned to its real owner. If we are patient, it will be saved for us in Jannah inshAllah. For example, when someone loses their beloved child, if they are patient, that child waits for them at the door of Jannah and requests Allah to let his/her parents join him/her in Jannah. So the lost child can be a key to Jannah.

Build shelter for the time when the storm hits. We can build a strong, internal shelter by worshiping Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Every time we pray, make dua (supplicate), recite the Qur’an, remember Allah (swt), we are building that very-needed shelter. Allah (swt) is our only shelter.

In life, we will feel sad .Even our prophets felt sadness in their lives. Prophet Yakoob (Jacob) alaihes salam felt so sad , cried so much that he became blind. Sadness is natural outcome of any hardship and it is okay to feel sad. But we cannot give up. We are not allowed to despair. Our faith (Imaan) will protect us from despair. Whenever I lose something, I must remind myself that I have lost it but this phase will pass. Nothing is permanent on this earth.

Yunus (Jonah) AS was tested with so many difficulties. He was surrounded by layers of darkness. Imagine being stuck in a belly of a whale, in an ocean, during a dark night! Yunus AS supplicates to Allah by acknowledging first that there is no one but Allah, no ilah but Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. We must understand this concept of ilah. Who is it that I worship? Who is it that I focus on in my life? What matters the most to me? Whatever I take as an ilah, I become slave of it. When I make peoples’ opinion as my ilah, I become a slave of them. My happiness depends on their opinion. We tend to hand the power to make us feel happy and content to wealth, career, people etc. But Yunus AS teaching us that the only One who is worthy of being our ilah is Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Only through acknowledging Him as our ilah we can be truly free from all the false ilah out there.
In the second part of his dua, he is acknowledging his mistake and asking Allah to help him. He is literally saying that he needs Him. This is a very powerful dua. Our beloved Rasulullah (SAW) teaches us to do this dua during hardship. There are three aspects to this dua.
1.      Acknowledging Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala as our only Lord
2.      Humbling myself
3.      I am in real hardship but I don’t despair as I know I can rely on Him (SWT)

Having a good opinion of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala
Whatever Allah (swt) does for us is for our best. Always having a good opinion of Him is very crucial for us. Allah is always looking after us. Even when it feels like He is taking something from us, it is actually to make us prepared for receiving something better inshAllah. When we are sick, we go to the doctors and trust them wholeheartedly when they prescribe the medications. Sometimes we also need to have operations. But we don’t really question the doctors as we know they are more capable than us to treat our illness. Now imagine, questioning Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala about the difficulties in our life (i.e why me? It is not fare!) Allah loves us more than our mothers. How can we think that He is harming us.  We cannot afford to have such an arrogant attitude.


To be continued InshaAllah…

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

Bismillah
 
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

Bismillah 
 
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 http://www.yasminmogahed.com  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!