Let’s redefine our status symbols

The dictionary defines “status symbol” as: something, such as a possession or an activity, by which one’s social or economic prestige is measured.

When one hears the expression “status symbol” what or who typically comes to mind? What images instantly pop into your brain? Monetary wealth and success? Trump Plaza? Fancy Cars? Fame? Hollywood? Designer clothes? Glamour? The Red Carpet Crowd? Rock Star Life? Living in a “Mansion?” Super Stars? Sports Stars? Extravagance?

“Status symbols” are plastered anywhere and everywhere that we go. We see these “symbols” on billboards, on TV shows, on commercials, and all over the media.

“Do this”     “Buy that”    “Gotta have one of these”     “Dress like this”     “Look like this”

VERSACE      NIKE       GUCCI       BMW      $$$$$

BEAUTY (as media defines it!!)

HUGE ESTATES

SWIMMING POOLS LINED WITH GOLD

  STATE OF THE ART HOME THEATRE

 …on and on and on and on…..

We have a phrase for all of this stuff right? Desires of the Dunya!!

Some people can afford all of these “materials” and hey, good for them! It is ok to be wealthy provided that your wealth is gained purely with good intention and that you continue to give charity to those in need. And, we must remember that wealth does not ensure a life of ease and contentment!

For others, attaining these “materials” is unrealistic and the thought of not being able to have these “materials” can be depressing and can lead someone to acquire these “materials” in ways that are detrimental to themselves or to others. Advice: Don’t “buy” into Riba!!! It is a dangerous and evil concept!

And, for others…attaining these “materials”, these possessions, is of no importance. Attaining other possessions, attaining a different kind of wealth, a different kind of “status symbol” is of utmost importance. These are the “possessions” that I hope to obtain, Insha’Allah.

I am sure that you all have heard the old saying “you can’t take it with you.”

This is true. It is certainly true that you can’t take your $$$$ with you, you can’t take your material “possessions” with you. In fact, many people leave a big mess for their family to clean up. They have enjoyed all of their “possessions” and have left all of the debt incurred while attaining all of their “possessions” as a burden for their family.

~

What if I told you that you CAN take it with you! In fact, you will take it with you!

And, what if I told you that what you can leave behind will benefit your family and the entire Ummah!

This is true! There are many possessions that we will take with us and we need be conscious of these “possessions” everyday. These possessions are what will be accountable for on the Day of Judgment.

What are these possessions that we should strive to obtain?

Wouldn’t you strive to possess strong Iman, kindness, mercy, generosity, thoughtfulness, charity, faithfulness, trustworthiness, and to have lived a pious life?

Wouldn’t you want to “possess” these qualities? Wouldn’t you want to pass these “possessions” onto your family, your companions, and to your community? No burden, no debt left behind?

Let’s take another look at the definition of status symbol:

Something, such as a possession or an activity, by which one’s social or economic prestige is measured.

Social or economic prestige?

Let’s assume that social prestige is simply how others view you, or how others define your “status”.  Simple enough, right?

The dictionary defines “economic” as: pertaining to the production, distribution, and use of income, wealth, and commodities.

Let me break down and refine this definition of “economic” to include:

  • “Production” as our continuing worship of Allah SWT throughout all of our daily actions. Our continued efforts in increasing our knowledge, our Iman, and our remembrance of Allah SWT.
  • “Distribution” as our Da’wah to Muslims and Non-Muslims
  • “Income, wealth, and commodities” (our true possessions) as the ever plentiful and continuous Blessings and Forgiveness that we receive from Allah SWT as we continue to worship Him throughout all of our daily actions, along with all that he has allowed for us.

This economic system sounds pretty fair and just! Everyone who follows the prescription benefits from this economy!

EVERYONE! No elite, and no “poverty level” within this economy.

The dictionary  defines “prestige” as: Reputation or influence arising from success, achievement, rank, or other favorable attributes.

Don’t you think we need to take a good look at our reputation, our influence, our achievement, our rank, and our other favorable attributes?

I ask you to take a good look at how you chose to live in this world….how we chose to live in this world!

 How is our “prestige” measured? We know the answer and we are accountable!

I ask you, Who takes an account of  our reputation, or our influence, or our success?

Who provides us our rank (our position)?

Who?

Allah SWT.

Subhan’Allah. How amazingly Perfect is He!

Allah, Al Wahhaab (The Bestower. Most Generous in giving plenty without any return.)

Allah, Al-Razzaaq (The Sustainer, The Provider)

~

We, as Muslims, need to redefine our symbols of status as it pertains to our Deen, and we must begin to place this newly defined social and economic prestige back into our Ummah.

 We must strive to “possess” the qualities of our beloved Prophet (SAW).

We must pass on our beneficial possessions onto our families and to the entire Ummah.

Let’s redefine our status symbols!

We have the tools!

Everything has already been laid out for us.

No need to purchase anything!

We just need to invest in our time , our actions, our “possessions” and our Iman.

We can easily do this by following the Qur’an and the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet (SAW).

~

So, You see?

We can, and will, take it with us.

Have you figured out what IT is yet?

It is our record, our account, our book of deeds.

It is being recorded and it will be presented back to us so that we may be accountable for our actions.

Make your book a best seller!

The Defining Moment

Today, I have been gazing out my window and taking in all of the signs of spring.  The new growth, the blossoms all around, the sound of birds chirping, the changing weather patterns, and the smell of imminent rain showers.  I do love the spring season! In fact, I love that I have the opportunity to experience all four seasons, the new beginnings of spring, the lush greens and abundant vegetation of summer, and the fresh cleanness from new fallen snow in the winter, but my favorite time of year….the fall…. Autumn in New England!

When I was  young, I used to call it “crunchy leaf season” because of the sound the leaves made as you walked through them, kicked them, jumped into the big leaf piles, and stuffed handfuls of them into old jeans and shirts for scary Halloween decorations.

Today, I still love the smell of  the autumn air and the fallen leaves, the change in the air from the summer heat and humidity to a nice crisp coolness. I love to watch the trees changing colors and I love driving through the hills and hiking through the many trails I grew up near, to see the foliage.  And, I love to catch the most fabulous sunsets of the year.  Subhan’Allah. (How glorious and amazingly perfect is God)

Several years ago, during the fall season, I was in my first semester of graduate school, heading from one end of the campus to other end for class with fellow students.  The wind was gusting lightly causing a “whirlwind effect” of leaves spiraling down to the ground. “Oh, its such a beautiful day, I love this time of year”, I said. “Just smell the air, feel the crispness. Its sweatshirt season again! I love this!”

Just then, a fellow student, a Muslim brother said to me:

“You know what is beautiful? That not one leaf falls without the permission of Allah (SWT).”

I stopped suddenly, unable to move, and I looked up towards the sky as I watched one leaf break from a branch and slowly fall to the ground ever so gently. Then, another gust of wind came along and hundreds of leaves came down.  I thought, Oh my God……what?  What was that he just said? That was so beautiful. I was suddenly filled with an emotion that I had never experienced before. I felt a sense of overwhelming gratitude and awe and I actually began to cry.

What just happened? Why did that statement have such a profound effect on me? What did I just experience?

Alhamdulillah. (All praise is for Allah)

You see, I had been struggling with my beliefs, or non-beliefs, for several years. I was raised Catholic, but it never made sense to me. What I was learning seemed to contradict itself all the time and I never got any clear cut answers to my questions that made any sense to me.  I stopped going to church as soon as I could figure out a way to do it without my parents catching me (although, I am sure that they figured it out).

I wasn’t kidding anyone, especially myself.

As I grew and matured, I kept experiencing the feeling that I had a purpose in life, and that purpose was definitely not linked to what I was doing, or how I was living during that particular period of my life.

What was my purpose? Was it to be a good mother, a good wife, what was it?  I, along with most of the other people I hung with, was not concerned with anything but that very moment in time, not what occurred yesterday, or what may or may not occur tomorrow.

I started to notice that the people I surrounded myself with would do the same things over and over again, having fun doing stuff of course, but I soon began to view things from outside of this cycle of “sameness or purposeless.” What I once considered fun did nothing for me anymore. I would rather sit home and do nothing than go out and party with friends.  I struggled with depression and often felt alone and sad.

Through all of this, I had this inner drive to find my purpose, but I was too wrapped up in my own stuff to even know where to begin. I often brushed off my feelings as “being to analytic” or “come, on, just snap out of it.”

I knew that there was this “truth” out there somewhere. I just didn’t  know where or what it was. I knew that there was something to believe, some purpose, but what was it?

Well, believe it our not, the remark that the Muslim brother said: “Not one leaf falls without the permission of Allah (SWT)” was probably THE defining moment of when I began to realize that this, this emotion that I just experienced, has something to do with my purpose in this life.  If something so simple, so insignificant (or so I thought) as a leaf does nothing without the permission of Allah, then what is my purpose? What am I supposed to be doing?

It was that day, that one brief moment in time, that I began to understand the Greatness of Allah (SWT).

Allahu Akbar. (God is the Greatest)

I began to listen to this brother talk a bit more. Things he said made so much sense, yet they were so simple! How could something so simple and easy to understand be IT, be part of my purpose?  I began doing some research, and was encouraged to seek information from an individual with much more knowledge.  I met with him twice, each time learning more and more about the pillars and basic beliefs of Islam.  Each time being given things to read and opportunities to ask questions.

Now, with all of this information, I had to make a choice. I could go on living the way I had been, rather recklessly and with no clear direction or purpose, or based on my new knowledge, embrace the fact that there is No deity worthy of worship but

God (Allah), and that I am a servant of God. That was my purpose, to worship Allah SWT alone. If I wanted any chance of true peace I had no choice but to embrace Islam.

Alhamdulillah. (All praise is for Allah)

I love to observe all of the natural beauty I see surrounding me. I am in awe over the sighting of an animal in the woods, the sound of water as rivers flow past, the beauty of a sunrise or sunset, and the beauty that lies within our landscapes. It is when I am experiencing these natural wonders, that the Greatness of Allah is so apparent.

I have always, since I was little girl, found little treasures that I would bring home. Some piece of nature, whether I had a pocket full of sea shells, a pocket full of rocks, a piece of driftwood, or a snapshot of something beautiful I stumbled upon on my hike. I am so drawn to these little items. I now know that they are my small tangible representations of a much larger truth. Right now, I have a little pile of rocks in the car from a beach on the Cape, that haven’t yet made it in the house, As I sit on my couch right now I see the piece of birch wood bark that I found and I just had to bring home. I see the cool rock I found along one of my favorite river paths, and the little tiny beginnings of an avocado plant that I started from saving the pit from the fruit and allowing it to sprout a small root!

I look at all of this beauty with absolute amazement and thankfulness to Allah (SWT). Every ant that crawls through the grass, every butterfly that soars by me, every step that I take on this earth that sprouts vegetation, every rain drop that falls from the clouds, every animal searching for food in the early morning hours, every waterfall, every mountain, every gorge……..all here because of the Greatness of Allah (SWT).

Allahu Akbar

All of this beauty that is found all over this earth, beautiful waters, beautiful forests, beautiful deserts, beautiful scenery, the many animals, the sky, the stars, the sun, and moon, all beautiful creations, all on a set course. All of these creations of Allah SWT are in perfect harmony and there is no disorder. Each has a purpose, to obey and worship Allah (SWT).  And…we are able to experience this beauty because of Allah (SWT). Allah (SWT) created this beauty for our enjoyment in this world too!!

Subhan’Allah

All of this vast beauty…which also has a purpose! The same purpose as me! To Worship Allah (SWT)!

As humans we have to make a conscious effort to stay on the straight path and to turn to all that is halal (permitted) and turn away from all that is haram (forbidden).  We must be thankful to Allah, (SWT) ask only of Allah (SWT), and believe in the Oneness of Allah (SWT).

He provides all that we need, Alhamdulillah.

The beauty of this world is just a small glimpse of what is to come for those of us who truly have faith and knowledge and follow the guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and worship Allah (SWT) alone.

“Ash-hadu an la ilaha il Allah Wa Ash-hadu anna Muhammad-ur- Rasul-Allah.”

I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah. I testify that Muhammad (PBUH) is the final messenger of Allah”

Have you not seen the evidence around you?

Iman Booster 

“Tell Me!

The fire which you kindle, is it you who made the tree thereof to grow, or are We the Grower?”  (Suratul Waqia, 71-72)

Look around you and and see the signs of Allah SWT all around you.

Do this today!

The forest below, full of trees.

What signs are in a tree?

The tree provides a home for many birds and a variety of animals.

The tree provides us shade and a place to rest.

The tree provides us wonderful fruits for our sustenance.

The tree provides us shelter.

The tree provides us wood for fire.

The tree provides us wood for building structures of many kinds.

The tree provides us paper to write down our thoughts.

The tree provides our children with adventure and fun.

The tree, amongst many, provides us a beautiful sight as the seasons change from fall to winter.

The tree provides.

Who provides us the tree?

SubhanAllah     Alhamdulillah    Allahu Akbar

Tie Your Camel

One day Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessing of Allah SWT be upon him) noticed a Bedouin leaving his camel without tying it and he asked the Bedouin, “Why don’t you tie down your camel?” The Bedouin answered, “I put my trust in Allah.” The Prophet (PBUH) then said, “Tie your camel first, then put your trust in Allah” (At-Tirmidhi).This amazing hadith is so powerful, yet so simple. So many of us forget to do our part and take the approach that God will protect us even if we go about our day taking risks or making choices that may affect us negatively. We cannot walk about with blind faith, thinking that God will take care of us (and not let anything happen) when we are neglectful and careless and don’t do for ourselves.Not a day goes by that I don’t think about this hadith (not just because I adore camels!!) and try to act accordingly, InshaAllah.

And, if something happens to goes wrong…..well maybe I did or didn’t do something to prevent it from happening. And, if something does not go according to my plans, I remember that God is the best of planners and has better plans for me.

Alhamdulillah

This hadith can be compared to things people may do today such as:

Leaving the keys in the car and then being upset with God for their car being stolen!

Driving recklessly because “God is protecting me” and getting into an accident.

Sitting home and complaining about how bad life is, but not doing anything to better ourselves.

We MUST take an active role in our life! Then, and only then, should we be asking God to provide and protect us.

And, we must not forget to thank God for everything that has been provided to us.

I recently watched an epidose of Dr. Phil where he said to a guest on his show: “Pray to God, but row towards the shore.” I sat up and said. OMG…Dr. Phil is talking about Tying Your Camel!!

Tie Your Camel ~ Habibi Halaqas.

The Most Beautiful Sound In The World

In the early morning hours, when I am lying in bed, I love to listen to the sounds of nature, specifically birds, welcoming in the new day.

But, there is one sound that I love over all of the rest. It is the Adhan, the call to salah (prayer).

I lived in Saudi Arabia for a brief period and woke up each and everyday to this beautiful call….the best wake up call one could ask for, and it is the most peaceful sound, the call for all to stop their worldly activities and remember Allah (SWT).

The Adhan is heard five times a day in and near local mosques in America. In Muslim countries….SubhanAllah…..it is heard from all directions, from each and every mosque. It’s sound is mystical, especially as the muezzin (the person chosen to call the prayer) from each mosque may start a few seconds after another muezzin from another mosque. The sound, the call, the words….amazing.

In Saudi Arabia, where ever you are, when it is time for salah, the Adhan is called. Stores shut their doors, businesses close for a brief time, and all Muslims make time to have their private conversation with Allah (SWT).

The Adhan

Allahu Akbar         Allahu Akbar   (Allah SWT is the greatest)

Allahu Akbar         Allahu Akbar

Ashhadu an la ilaha ill Allah (I bear witness that there is no god worthy of worship except Allah)

Ashhadu an la ilaha ill Allah

Ashhadu anna Muhammadan Rasool Allah (I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah

Ashhadu anna Muhammadan Rasool Allah

Hayya ‘ala-s-Salah (hurry to prayer)

Hayya ‘ala-s-Salah

Hayya ‘ala-l-Falah  (Hurry to success)

Hayya ‘ala-l-Falah

Allahu Akbar           Allahu Akbar

La illaha illa Allah

Amazing mercy.

It is my hope that my non-Muslim friends and family will take the time to watch the video below as well as my Muslim friends. I urge you to take the time to grab a cup of coffee or tea, a quick snack, or just curl up on the couch with a favorite blanket (that’s what I did!!) to watch this powerful short video. This is a clip from a lecture on “Hope”, on hope and seeking the forgiveness for our sins.

Abdul Nasir Jangda is a great speaker, very engaging, inspirational, and eloquent in his speech. In this video, he talks about the absolutely amazing forgiveness of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala), and the amazing lessons in the Qur’an. Alhamdulillah!

A short lesson before watching the video:

It is very difficult, almost impossible, to translate the true meaning of Arabic words into English. Below is an attempt to give you a rather general translation of two of the phrases you will here again and again in the video.

During this lecture you will hear Brother Abdul Nasir say the phrase “Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala” each time he mentions the name of Allah (SWT). The meaning of this is: Pure (amazingly perfect) is He and Exalted is He. You will also hear him say, “Sallallahu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam” each time he mentions the Prophet Muhammad. This means “May the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him).

These phrases, are used, along with many other phrases that we attach to other important and honored individuals such as the companions (Radhiallahu ‘Anhu) (RA) of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), and all of the other prophets (Alayhi Salam) (AS) of Allah (SWT).

Radhiallahu ‘Anhu: “May Allah (SWT) be pleased with him”.

Alayhi Salam: “May Allah (SWT) bless him”.

Here is the video. InshaAllah, you will benefit from it in some way!

Remembrance, so effortless…..with abundant rewards!

Today’s Iman Booster:

Samura bin Jundub (Peace be upon him) narrated that the Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The most beloved words to Allah are four. It does not matter which of them you begin with:

سبحن اللة SubhanAllah (Allah is free from every
imperfection)

الحمد لله Alhamdulillah (All praise is for Allah)

لا اله الا الله La illaha illallah (Nothing deserves to be
worshipped except Allah)

الله اكبر Allahu Akbar (Allah is the Greatest)

Abu Huraira (Peace be upon him) narrated that Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever says a hundred times in a day: Allah is free from every imperfection, and His is the praise’ – his sins will be removed from him, even if they were as much as the foam of the sea.”

      سبحن اللة     الحمد للها       لا الله الا الله      الله اكبر

How blessed are we to be able to worship our Lord
throughout our day by reciting these phrases. How
amazingly effortless this is and how tremendously
rewarded we will be!

        سبحن اللة           الحمد للها                 لا الله الا الله               الله اكبر