Saturday, September 30, 2006

and He found me wandering...

Surat Ad-Dhuha is probably one of my favourite surahs. Here's the translation: 1. By the Glorious Morning Light, 2. And by the Night when it is still,- 3. Thy Guardian-Lord hath not forsaken thee, nor is He displeased. 4. And verily the Hereafter will be better for thee than the present. 5. And soon will thy Guardian-Lord give thee (that wherewith) thou shalt be well-pleased. 6. Did He not find thee an orphan and give thee shelter (and care)? 7. And He found thee wandering, and He gave thee guidance. 8. And He found thee in need, and made thee independent. 9. Therefore, treat not the orphan with harshness, 10. Nor repulse the petitioner (unheard); 11. But the bounty of the Lord - rehearse and proclaim! I don't know if I ever fully grasped why I loved the surah so much, then it hit yesterday. The khateeb was reciting it during Jumuah prayer... There is a point that comes in every person's life when he or she comes to a major intersection and chooses the direction to take. We've all been in situations where we're utterly and hopelessly lost. The directions your friends or family gave you were terrible and you didn't bring a map. Imagine someone coming to you, taking you by the hand and saying: come with me, I know where you're going and I'll take you there myself. That's wandering, and that's guidance: "and He found thee wandering, and He gave thee guidance." He's given us everything we need to be happy and to attain success in this world and the next. I was talking to a friend of mine the other day who couldn't quite be satisfied with the small pleasures of life. Apparently everything is redundant, everything is the same, and the world is too hurt to be healed, "so why should I try?" My answer is this: Thy Guardian-Lord hath not forsaken thee. And "the Hereafter will be better for thee than the present." I forget that every day. There isn't a moment that goes by where I'm not thinking of something I need in this life, something that I strive for, an appointment that I'm late for or a reading I haven't completed. Only fleeting thoughts of the hereafter run through my mind. I realized that it's not a reality for me, death. I can't picture it, I can't picture being here one moment and then not, I can't picture the journey. Except in pain, then I can see it. When pain comes, the only way to overcome it is to know that the hereafter is better for you. The only way to choose the right thing to do is to know that hereafter is better - nothing in this life lasts but the next life is forever. I've been terrible this Ramadan so far, and that's devastating. I can barely think of one or two good things that I've done within the past week. I hope and pray that the coming weeks will be better.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

where is your thing?

An old Arab lived close to New York City for more than 40 years. One day, he decided that he would love to plant potatoes and herbs in his garden, but he knew he was alone and too old and weak. His son was in college in Paris, so the old man sent him an e-mail explaining the problem:
Beloved son, I am very sad, because I can't plant potatoes in my garden. I am sure, if only you were here, that you would help me and dig up the garden for me. I love you. your father
The following day, the old man received a response e-mail from his son:
Beloved father, Please don't touch the garden. That is where I have hidden 'the THING.' I love you, too. Ahmed
At 4 pm, the FBI and the Rangers visited the house of the old man and took the whole garden apart, searching every inch. But they couldn't find anything. Disappointed, they left the house. The next day, the old man received another e-mail from his son:
Beloved father, I hope the garden is dug up by now and you can plant your potatoes. That is all I could do for you from here. Your loving son, Ahmed

Friday, September 22, 2006

Bismillahi ArRahman, ArRaheem The camel complained to Muhammad. Allahu Akbar, How perfect my Lord is, Al-Atheem du’aa has brought us to decisions when caught at crossroads. It wasn’t easy choosing the higher path, but we did. And now I choose to cross the road at green, not between angry drivers. Sami’Allahu liman hamidah Allah has heard those who praised and thanked Him I came home today on the bus and a man offered me his seat and smiled. I smiled at my neighbour and held the elevator door open for her. And she smiled, too- a charity easily afforded. Allahu Akbar How Perfect my Lord is, The Most High I took my mother’s hand while we waited for news – good or bad, it didn’t matter because Al-Wadud was there with us. And washing the dishes, even with essays to write doesn’t seem like such a daunting task anymore. Allahu Akbar My Lord, forgive me my sins. We pull up our garments on snowy days for fear of salt-stains, so I will, too, hold close my garments on this thorny path for fear of a pain that is forever, and for the hope of a joy that never ends. Allahu Akbar, Lessen the camel’s load.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

30 Days, 30 Acts of Kindness

"When Ramadan begins, the gates of Paradise are opened." It's hard to believe that we've arrived from last Ramadan to this one so quickly. Some people who were with us last Ramadan are no longer here. Alhamdulillah for another opportunity to repent and to purify ourselves. So what is your plan for Ramadan? I know a lot of people read the whole Qur'an during Ramadan, or stay up all night praying, or stay in the masjid for extended periods of time. But when was the last time you made it a point to improve the relationship between you and the people around you during this month? Yes, Ramadan is a month to seek the Forgiveness and Mercy of Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala), but it's also a time to foster and maintain good relationships. People seem to forget that this brings us closer to Allah, too!
Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said: "Allah, the Exalted, says 'Indeed, My Love shall be bestowed upon the ones who visit each other for My Sake. Indeed, My Love shall be bestowed upon the ones who love one another for My Sake. Indeed, My Love shall be bestowed upon the ones who approach one another in humility for My Sake. And, indeed, My Love shall be bestowed upon the ones that rush to help one another for My Sake." (Musnad Imam Ahmad)
This is what we're doing, inshaAllah: for every day in Ramadan, we do something nice for someone - something that we wouldn't normally do. It can be anything; calling up a friend or relative who you haven't been in touch with lately, doing the dishes for your mom (guys), saying kind words to someone, giving a gift, or just receiving someone with a sincere smile. Anything and anyone. No one is going to follow up with you to make sure you do something nice every day. But do this for yourself. Make it a habit and it will become something that you enjoy. So far, Safiyyah and Hajera are in. Who else is game?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Limericks

Here are some limericks I just made up right now. It's fun... 1. There was a young lady of Maine who was so incredibly plain. Her suitors were few, and she lived in a shoe. That ugly young lady of maine. 2. There was a silly boy named AP who liked to have cookies and tea. He quit his blog, and inhaled some smog That silly ol' boy, AP. 3. There was an olde woman of Kenya whose favourite word was "gardenia," She gave freezy stares, and climbed up some stairs That wonderful olde woman of Kenya. 4. There was a young man with no beard He looked incredibly weird. His uber-bare chin was possessed by a jinn. That nonsensical boy with no beard. 5. There was a young lady with a ball her brain was exceedingly small. She bounced it around, then used a noun. That asinine young lady with a ball. You should all try your hand at this, it's quite diverting.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

"Here I am at Your Service..."

I want to go for Hajj. Who wouldn't want to go, looking at this?

Recently I've been feeling the need to go for Hajj pretty intensely. I suppose it's because a bunch of my friends who went to Ummrah this past month just came back with amazing and life-changing stories. But it's more than that. There's this immense sense of history there. The life of Muhammad, peace be upon him and his companions, all of it happened there. It's where Islam was born. Being someone who has little sense of my own family's history, that aspect of depth and meaning is somewhat lost to me. But the history that's in these cities, Makkah and Madina, doesn't diminish from one generation to the next. On the contrary, every year that passes brings more pilgrims, more people seeking forgiveness and hoping for Allah's Mercy. I want to feel that this history is my history. It's more important than who my great-great-great grandfather was. If I had the money and a willing mahram, there wouldn't be anywhere in the world that I'd go first. Labaik Allahumma, Labaik. Labaika laa shareeka lakal labaik.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

What school does to me

I was sitting with my friend yesterday at school. I was eating a banana. I finished my banana and proceeded to deposit it into the nearest recepticle. A few minutes later, I rifle through my bag and take an apple out and offer it to my friend. It went something like this: Me: Hey, do you want a banana? Her: (gives me a weird look) Me: (looks at apple, thinking: hey, this isn't a banana...) Me: What is this called? Her: Umm it's an apple. Me: oh yeah. She then begins laughing at the all too apparent ineptitude of an English major.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

5:30am

It's 5:30am when I'm posting this. Early morning is so interesting. When you get up, it almost seems like time is at a standstill. It's peaceful (i.e. everyone else is asleep). Hey, I just heard the newspaper guy throw the Toronto Star at our door. Kind of freaked me out for a bit. Until I realized what it was. Can't wait for autumn to hit, though I can definitely wait for school. I start Monday inshaAllah. Sometimes it seems like a fruitless endeavour, school. School doesn't impart vision or passion for a specific thing, at least not in me. School is just there, for no particular reason besides draining the money/fun/joy/all other good things out of life. So what do I want to do with my life? I think I'd like to be a starving artist. Wait, wait, hold that thought. A fed artist. Okay, maybe not an artist per se. More like a fed person doing something cool. These are my 5:30 am philosophizing rants. All you sleeping people should get up.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Strawberry Picking at...the Masjid?

I love going to the masjid. But the problem is, it's hard to leave. Not because my heart is severely attached to the masjid, or because it's so peaceful in there, or even because it's air-conditioned. No, I physically have difficulty leaving the masjid. And this is because of the "strawberry picking effect." When you're out in the fields picking strawberries during the summer and you fill your baskets almost to the point of overflow, it's an amazing feeling. Allah (swt) provides, and all we have to do is be there to gather them. And pay for them. So, when you're getting ready to leave, you gather your family members and all start walking from the middle of the field back to the farm (or wherever it is you have to pay). But as you're walking out, you keep noticing these beautiful red strawberries that you MUST obtain for your basket. Okay, fine. You stop and pull them off their stems and put them in your basket and move on. But then, you see more amazing strawberries that you MUST have for your basket. So you stop to get those as well. And it goes on and on. By the time you get to the cashier, you have strawberries in your basket, in your hat, in some plastic bags that you happened to find in your purse, and some are oozing out of your pockets. It's similar to the situation at the masjid. As you're leaving, your mom sees an old friend from back in the day and they talk for 10 minutes. When they're done, you walk towards the exit, but are stopped by several more familiar faces - you give the 3 kisses, right, left, right and shake hands. Then when you finally get out of the masjid, you realize you forgot something inside. You go back inside, only to bump into 20 to 25 more people to greet and speak with. Then, (ahh, at last!) finally you're out - but wait, where's abee? So you see, people in masjids are like strawberries, you just HAVE to stop. Except you don't put people in your pockets.