The defining moment.

Living in Connecticut, 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 is the fall…. Autumn in New England!

When I was  young, I used to call fall “crunchy leaf season” because of the sound the leaves made as I walked through them, kicked them, or jumped into the big leaf piles. The crunch as I stuffed handfuls of leaves into old jeans and shirts for scary Halloween decorations to be placed outside on the porch to scare trick or treaters coming to the door in search of candy.

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 to drive through the hills and hike through the many trails I grew up near, to see the foliage.  And, I love to being able to experience the most amazing sunsets of the year.

                              Subhan’Allah. (How glorious and amazingly perfect is God)

It was during the fall season, when I was in my first semester of graduate school heading from one end of the campus to other end for class with fellow students, when my outlook on life began to change. The day was gorgeous. The wind was blowing lightly causing a whirlwind effect of leaves spiraling down to the ground. “It’s such a beautiful day, I love this time of year”, I said to my classmates. “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? “What?” I asked. His response was “it is beautiful that not one leaf falls without the permission of Allah (SWT).”

“And He knows whatever there is in (or on) the earth and in the sea; not a leaf falls, but he knows it” (6:59)

I stopped suddenly, unable to move. 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 tear up.

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 continued to have this feeling that I had a purpose in life, and that this 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. I was not concerned with what occurred yesterday, or what may or may not occur tomorrow. But, I still had this undefined “feeling.” The feeling that this life, the here and now, today, is not what it is all about.

I started to notice that the people I surrounded myself with would simply do the same things over and over again (having fun doing stuff of course), but there was no purpose other than to catch up with one another to do the same thing again. “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 I would have the “come, on, just snap out of it” attitude.

But…….I knew that there was a truth out there somewhere. I just didn’t  know where or what it was. I knew that there was something to believe, some purpose, some truth.  But, what was it?

Well, amazingly, 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 emotion, this “feeling” 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 someone with much more knowledge.  I met with a local Islamic scholar, each time learning more and more about the pillars of and basic beliefs of Islam.  Each time being given things to read and opportunities to ask questions. I continued to ask, to research, and to learn.

With all of this information, this new knowledge, I had to make a choice. I could:

(a) go on living the way I had been, rather recklessly and with no clear direction or purpose, or

(b) 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, of success in this world and in the next,  I had no choice but to embrace Islam.

Alhamdulillah. (All praise is for Allah)

So, I took my Shahada, which is the testimony of faith that one says when they embrace Islam.

“Ash-hadu An La Ilaha Illallah Wa Ash-hadu Anna Muhammadur RasoolAllah.”

“I testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and I testify that Muhammad is the final messenger of Allah.”

I began to realize that the feelings that I have always had when I experienced the beauty of this world, was my way to begin to learn about Allah SWT.  I have always loved to observe all of the natural beauty that surrounds me. I have always been 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, the sweet smell of fresh rain, the clean smell of snow, and all of the beauty that lies within this world.

It is when I am experiencing these natural wonders, that the Greatness of Allah is so apparent.

As a child, I was naturally attracted to nature. Since I was little girl, I have always found little treasures that I would bring home. Some piece of nature would find its way home with me. I could had a pocket full of sea shells from the Cape, a pocket full of rocks from a hike in the woods, a piece of driftwood or a bag of sand from a beach in Maine, a bouquet of wildflowers, or a snapshot of something beautiful I stumbled upon on my hike.  I now know that these items are my small tangible representations of a much larger truth.

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, every leaf that falls……..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).

 Subhan’Allah

All of this vast beauty…which also has a purpose! The same purpose as me! To Worship 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.

“Those who believe and do righteous deeds, they are the best of creatures. Their reward is with their Lord: Gardens of Paradise beneath which rivers flow. They will dwell there in forever, God well pleased with them and they with Him. This is for those who hold their Lord in awe.” (98:7-8)

 

“Ash-hadu An La Ilaha Illallah Wa Ash-hadu Anna Muhammadur RasoolAllah.”

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

I call upon Allah every day in my prayers. I seek His forgiveness and I seek His assistance. I know that He provides for me and I trust in Him alone.

 I am truly a life long student, seeking as much knowledge of this beautiful deen as I can so that I continue on this beautiful path.

Calling all Muslims young and old. Grab firmly onto the rope.

bismillahirrahmanirrahim

In the Qur’an there is a beautiful Ayah about the rope of Allah (God).

“And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided.” (3: 103)

It is in this ayah that I find comfort in a time of such dis “ease” and separation between all of mankind. And, I must remember to thank God every single day for choosing Islam for me.

Alhamdulillah.

rope-of-allah

You see, as a Muslim, I put my full trust in God. This trust is called Tawakkul. The perfect trust in God and reliance on Him alone.

This is what all Muslims must firmly believe. We know that the times ahead of us may be very uncertain, unsafe, and extremely difficult.

Our beautiful way of life has been littered with smear campaigns and intentional untruth….falsehood. Utter lies and deception by way of the media and other hateful sources have made this beautiful way of life appear to be something so vastly different from the truth. And people choose to believe what they hear from those who fear the truth versus doing a bit of research on their own.  If they only took a few minutes, they would begin to see that the truth is right there.

And, it is the right guidance.

People of this world have normalized and desensitized racism and bigotry and this is now running rampant throughout the world. It has always been there, hidden to some. But, now those hateful people have been given a green light to unleash their hate and unleash their ignorant tirade upon us and others who do not fit into their mold. And, there are people in power throughout the world, oppressors and dictators who are causing much conflict and violent war.

Our way of life has been hijacked by people who are killing in the name of Islam. Very misguided people who do not, in any way, follow the Qur’an and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

In reality, God says in the Qur’an: “We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely.” (5:32)

~

We are living in very difficult times, and I expect that it will become more difficult. I also know that God tests us. He tests us with poverty, with wealth, with family, with loneliness, with sickness, with health, with youth and with age. He tests some of us more than others, and those who are put through the greatest of tests, and endure those tests with patience while relying on God to provide (putting all trust in Him alone), will receive the greatest of rewards.

God tests us with difficulty and He provides for us at the same time. We know that He will test us with difficulty and we should never lose hope in His love and His forgiveness.

And, we have God as our Protector.

God says in the Qur’an:

“Verily, We shall put you to test with some fear, and hunger, and with some loss of wealth, lives, and offspring. And (O Muhammad) convey good tidings to those who are patient, who say, when inflicted by hardship, “Verily we are of God and verily to Him shall we return;” upon them is the blessings of Allah and His mercy. (2:155)

We as humans must admit that we are limited in our knowledge. Our knowledge is finite, limited, and can be removed in an instant. But, Allah’s knowledge is comprehensive, infinite, and encompasses everything that is in the heavens and earth.

Verily, He, only He, is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.”(26:220)

We know that God’s ultimate wisdom far exceeds any of our intellect. We know that He is in control and that He has a plan.

In the Qur’an, God tells Prophet Muhammad (PBUH): “And [remember, O Muhammad], when those who disbelieved plotted against you to restrain you or kill you or evict you [from Makkah]. But they plan, and Allah plans. And Allah is the best of planners.” (8:30)

“Allah is the best of planners.” (8:30).

This is what we must remember.

Even though it appears that the world is in turmoil, God is in control and has a plan.

God has given us the ability to act upon our own will. Humans, in fact, are the only creation of God that He has given this ability. And, with this ability comes great responsibility. It is up to us to choose how we want to act. Do we choose to follow His command and act accordingly, or do we ignore it and act out of arrogance and ignorance?

On one hand, the world in which we live includes people who act according to what they want, and will do terrible things to have their way. They ignore and/ or completely dismiss and disregard God. On the other hand, the world is filled with people who act according to what God has commanded. People who love God and wish to please Him, and if God wills, will be forgiven of sins and provided with the best Hereafter.

All of us, Muslims and non-Muslims will have to answer for our choices. No one is off the hook. That day will come, there is no questioning it.

May Allah protect us, forgive us, and continue to guide us and grant us entrance into Jannah.

Most importantly, especially with all of the turmoil and hatred within this world, we must remember that God will not change our conditions if we do nothing to change what is wrong within ourselves. 

In the Qur’an, we learn that we must make things right within ourselves first and foremost.

“Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” (13:11)

We know that through our firm faith, worship, and love for God, and through our obedience to His commands, God will grant us a most beautiful life in the Hereafter. But, we must never stop our worship and never stop seeking forgiveness. We must never stop asking for assistance and guidance.

We have to change what is wrong within us. No one is perfect, no one is without sin.

Now…..this is where it gets real. Calling all Muslims, young and old.

We should not be out protesting our disappointment, our distrust, and our fear among those who do not believe, or with those who do not share our values. We should not be directing anger and disappointment in this way. Sure, we are frightened, disappointed and frustrated with this dunya (this world), but we can only expect change if we take a good hard look at ourselves and make the changes necessary so that God will change our conditions.

We also have a responsibility to demonstrate our faith in God through our actions. We have the best of role models. Act accordingly!

If we want to see change happen…..real change….we have the answer.

As Muslims, we have been given a very special gift. And, if we have not yet opened it, now is the time to open that gift and use it.

That gift is Tahajjud (the night prayer).

tahajjud

It is our opportunity to wake up in the last hours of the night to pray for forgiveness, for peace, for continued blessings, for guidance, for continued firm faith, for healing, for justice,and for assistance.

When all is quiet, and our neighbors are fast asleep, we need to wake up and take advantage of this beautiful gift. We must do this if we expect to see change in this world. We must ask God to help us, we must seek His assistance and His guidance. We must ask Him to change our hearts and protect us from the twisted ways of the Shaytaan.

In the last sermon of Prophet Muhammad, he said: “Beware of Satan, for the safety of your religion. He has lost all hope that he will ever be able to lead you astray in big things, so beware of following him in small things.”

Seek God’s protection from Satan.

Wake up and come closer to God, remember Him in private…during the quietness before the dawn.

Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings of God be upon him) said, “Our Lord descends every night, during the last third of it to the skies of this world, and asks: “Who is making du’a to Me, so that I can respond to him? Who is asking Me, so that I can give him? Who is asking for My Forgiveness, so that I can forgive him?

 

Wake up, rise from the comfort of your bed, quiet your mind….and pray. This is what needs to be done now. God is waiting for us. Pray to Him for forgiveness and guidance. Pray for God to cleanse your heart, to keep you far from sins, and keep you on the correct path.

Wake up and come closer to God, remember Him in private…during the quietness before the dawn.

It was reported by ‘Amr ibn ‘Absah, that the Prophet Muhammad said: “The closest any worshipper can be to his Lord is during the last part of the night, so if you can be amongst those who remember Allah at that time, then do so.” (Al Tirmidhi).

pray.jpg

We can see by the above hadith, that our beloved Prophet (PBUH) has told us to pray Tahajjud. So, why do we choose sleep over prayer?

So, all who believe….wake up and come closer to God, remember Him in private…during the quietness before the dawn.

Allah says in the Qur’an: “And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided.” (2:186)

Now, more than ever, we need to act. God has given us the gift of Tahajjud so that we can act! Rise up from sleep, wake up your wives, your husbands, and your children. Pray Tahajjud.

Do not be fooled into thinking that waking up for Tahajjud will make you tired during the day. The opposite is true. You will not be tired. Your heart will become purer and your day will be easier.

Ask God to give you the strength to wake up and speak with Him.

Wake up and pray! Make Tahajjud a priority!

This is better for you than any protest or peaceful demonstration. We must change ourselves so that God can change our conditions. And, this change comes from seeking God’s assistance. This can be accomplished through waking for Tahajjud.

We must take a good look at our lives, our actions. We can strive to be better Muslims. We are all sinners, but we can seek forgiveness and for God to put distance between us and sins.

“And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided.” (3: 103)

Pray to the only One who can help. Do not despair.

He is waiting….

“By time, Indeed mankind is in loss, Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.” (Qur’an:103)

 

The Greatest Reward Comes with the Greatest Trial (Tirmidhi)

A couple of months ago, I was enjoying the last day of my vacation sitting on a balcony overlooking the ocean. The day was beautiful and there was a family below us on the beach, the children were playing in the sand and exploring the shells and creatures that had been washed up on the beach.

All of the sudden, I heard a blood curdling scream followed by the cries of a child in distress. I looked down and saw the father running towards the water, throwing off his shoes and pulling up his pant legs. My first thought was, oh no! One of the children was struggling in the water. The rest of that family all began running, behind the dad, to the shoreline. As my mind focused on what was really happening, I sat back in relief and wonder.

Why was the child screaming and crying so loudly and in such distress? Because her hat blew off of her head and it was floating away in the water. Her dad, jolted by the screams, and seeing what happened, jumped in and saved the day! He caught up with the hat, grabbed it out of the water, and placed the wet hat back on his daughter’s head.

The baby boy, who was playing on the shore with his sister, was so frightened by her screams that he became unconsolable. The family all seemed so upset and visibly shaken. However, after about 3 minutes, the little girl and her baby brother were playing happily in the sand again. The rest of the family was sitting in beach chairs and appeared to have forgotten what had occurred and everyone was happy again.

I thought, “wow” all that over a little hat.

I then sat back and reflected on my own life for a minute.  I realized that we often act similarly to that little girl when we lose something, or something does not go as we had planned. We get upset, some of us may scream, cry and carry on. We rush to replace it with something else, something that makes us temporarily happy. We are only human and we have emotion. But, at what cost? Can this loss actually be a benefit?

I sat on the balcony and thought back to times when I had lost something that, at the time of the loss, was very upsetting. I realized that after a while, the loss is forgotten, or kept in my memories, but it no longer bring about that intense sadness or grief that occurred when the loss was in the front of my thoughts. A passing sadness at a memory, a tear shed? Yes. But the intense sadness and grief is no longer present or will soon subside.

Do we not realize that our losses, things that we hold dear to us ( often material items or relationships), are just a temporary illusion.

If that little girl’s hat had not been retrived, that family would still go on with their lives, a new hat purchased. In fact, the hat that was retrieved from the water will eventually become worn and tattered. It will have no use.

I now know that, even when I experience loss, even when it hurts me to the core, I know that this loss is Allah’s will. I may never understand why Allah gives me that particular trial, but I know that if I deal with it with patience, seeking His help and guidance, I will be ok. Maybe that experience, that person, that material delusion, is not good for me and will be replaced with something better. And, my sins will be forgiven through my patience and acceptance of Allah’s decree.

Do I want to be happy, healthy, safe, and comfortable in this life? Of course, we all want that. We all want to experience happiness and comfort. But, we cannot always be comfortable. If we are always comfortable, we tend to forget.

When we are faced with loss, with hardship, with sadness, or despair, remember that these trials are gifts. At the time that they occur, we are certainly not feeling like we received a gift. But, we do know that Allah tests us often. And, He tests those who are firm believers. Tests are hard, they disrupt our lives, they cause distress, anxiety, sorrow, and grief. However, these tests, if we live and learn patiently through them knowing that they are Allah’s decree, will be rewarded by forgiveness of our sins.

Do we not want to meet Allah without our sins held over us?

Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace be upon himsaid,

“Hardships continue to befall a believing man and woman in their body, family, and property, until they meet Allah burdened with no sins” (At-Tirmidhi).

Umm Salamah narrated that the Prophet (sallalaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “There is no Muslim that is afflicted with a calamity, and he says what Allah has commanded him to say: “To Allah we belong and to him we will return! O Allah! Give me the rewards (of being patient over) this calamity, and grant me something better than it to replace it,” except that Allah will give him something better to replace it.”

It has been reported that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) once said,

“The greatest reward comes with the greatest trial. When Allah(SWT) loves a people He tests them. Whoever accepts that wins His(SWT) pleasure but whoever is discontent with that earns His(SWT) wrath.”
[Tirmidhi and Ibne Majah]

It is important to Remember Allah often! We must do our daily prayers, we must make dua, and we must make dzikr often. Everyday! Don’t wait to Remember Allah only when calamity strikes.

Remember

We must be content and have patience with Allah’s trials. When Allah loves someone, he tries them. SubhanAllah, our trials are actually our blessings. Although we often can’t see the blessings through the fog of the trial, we have to remember Allah SWT and be patient. Patience with Allah’s SWT decree, not patience with how we handle the situation. If we are placed in a trial, we must reflect on how we can move past it with Allah’s guidance and support.

Will our trials be easy, be free of distress and grief? No, they won’t. But, our job is to accept Allah’s decree, be patient with His decree, and seek out His Help, His Forgiveness, His Mercy.

Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:

“The amount of reward is in accordance with the amount of suffering. When Allah loves some people, He tries them (with affliction). He who then is content (with Allah’s decree) has achieved the acceptance (of Allah), and he who is dissatisfied (with Allah’s decree) will attain the anger (of Allah).” (At-Tirmidhi)

Our beloved Prophets, (RA) suffered more trials than any other people who lived on this Earth. Their faith in Allah SWT was notable to all who were in their company. And, when calamity struck, they sought Allah’s help right away. They were put through trials of the disbelief of their own families, of war, of poverty, of ill health, and of attack, but their faith remained.

So, when we are hit with a calamity, a trial, a sickness, or other hardship, remember Allah SWT. Remember him abundantly and seek His forgiveness.

Sa`d (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:

“The most in their suffering among the people are the prophets, then the best, then the (next) best. One is afflicted in accordance with his faith. If his faith is firm, his affliction is hard, and if his faith is weak, his affliction is light. Indeed, one would be so much subjected to adversity until he walks among the people without any sins.” (Ahmad and At-Tirmidhi)

Would you not want to be subjected to some trials in order for your sins to be forgiven?

It is also important to not become jealous of what others have been given. What others are given is also Allah’s decree. It is what the one who has been given something you had wanted does with that blessing, to understand where that blessing came from in the first place. If they think that it is only from their hard work and of their own hands, they are very mistaken and will not receive the true reward and blessings of what they were given.

bismillahirrahmanirrahim

“And whatever of blessings and good things you have, it is from Allah” [al-Nahl 16:53].

On the authority of Abu Abbas Abdullah bin Abbas (RA) who said: One day I was behind the Prophet (SAW) [riding on the same mount] and he said, “O young man, I shall teach you some words [of advice]: Be mindful of Allah and Allah will protect you. Be mindful of Allah and you will find Him in front of you. If you ask, then ask Allah [alone]; and if you seek help, then seek help from Allah [alone]. And know that if the nation were to gather together to benefit you with anything, they would not benefit you except with what Allah had already prescribed for you. And if they were to gather together to harm you with anything, they would not harm you except with what Allah had already prescribed against you. The pens have been lifted and the pages have dried.” It was related by at-Tirmidhi, who said it was a good and sound hadith.

Another narration, other than that of Tirmidhi, reads: Be mindful of Allah, and you will find Him in front of you. Recognise and acknowledge Allah in times of ease and prosperity, and He will remember you in times of adversity. And know that what has passed you by [and you have failed to attain] was not going to befall you, and what has befallen you was not going to pass you by. And know that victory comes with patience, relief with affliction, and hardship with ease.

Be mindful of Allah SWT.

When your hat blows away, don’t rush to replace it. Wait for the blessings and be thankful.

ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE UNCOMFORTABLE!

Over the past couple of weeks, I have posted many pictures, comments, etc.on Facebook about the horrific events taking place in Gaza. Over the coming weeks, I will probably continue to post them. Why? Because I want you to be uncomfortable. I want you to feel the pain in your hearts. I want you to admit that this is happening.

normal life

There are many posts that I did not share that showed family members learning that their entire families have been killed, posts of mothers and fathers praying over their dead children, posts of bodies ripped open, intestines strewn about the ground, dismembered body parts of young children, etc.

I know that many people do not want to see these posts, either because they find them too disturbing, or because they simply do not care to recognize the truth of what is happening. Many people are so wrapped up in their own lives that they turn their backs to anything that is “uncomfortable.”

Turning our backs doesn’t stop the bombing. Turning our backs only emphasizes support for what is happening. Turning our backs, remaining silent, denying the truth, not wanting to recognize and admit, not wanting to be pained by others suffering does not equal empathy, understanding, mercy, justice, and love for humanity.

I understand that many people want to log into Facebook, to visit a favorite blog, to see what’s happening on Twitter,  and expect see happy posts about friends and family. We all want to see fun posts, new baby pictures, vacation pictures, wedding pictures, cute animals, funny memes, etc. We all want to take some time away from real world, real-time.

I GET IT.

BUT I WON”T TURN MY BACK TO INJUSTICE, TO OPPRESSION, TO TERRORISM, TO GENOCIDE!

Take your few minutes to see some cute pictures, to read a story about something fun, read a post that shows some form of kindness and compassion, about love. But, don’t forget, don’t deny, don’t turn away.

Don’t stay comfortable.

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 5.33.36 PM

WE need to recognize what is happening while our babies are being born in hospitals with more than adequate medical care (and are not being bombed), while we vacation and post beautiful pictures of sites we visited, as we cross state borders FREELY and without assault to take family vacations, as we place our heads on our pillows in the comfort of our homes without fear of being killed as we sleep, when we wake up and start a new day, going about our business without being shot at as we search for family members whose homes were bombed overnight.

Young man shot by Israeli sniper while searching for family:

phototeasergazasniper

26 members of one family, 18 children all killed in one strike:

26 members of one family  18 children

As a Muslim, my community, my Ummah, spans the globe and I hear from friends/friends of friends on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis about what is going on in Palestine. We want the rest of the world to understand, to acknowledge, to be as horrified and disgusted as we are about what is taking place in Gaza. War crimes, genocide!

Palestine, 1948 & 2014:

 

1948 and 2014

This is a FACT.

The media typically does not relay the truth, the media shares only what the governments want us to see.

Governments that are supporting this massacre.

The media has corrupted so many of us, those of us who have stopped using our own brains and are letting government, media, and prejudice control our minds.

Don’t be blinded.

Use your God-given brains to understand.

See with your God-given eyes what is happening.

Feel with your God-given hearts.

Right now, Palestine is being openly terrorized as the ENTIRE WORLD sits back and allows this to happen.

If you can do nothing else, please pray for the people of Palestine. If you can do nothing else, at least educate yourselves on what is happening there. Please, don’t continue to deny what is happening or deny who is the REAL offender/oppressor/terrorist.

Today, hug your children, your moms and dads, your brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, your loved ones. Pray for those who are suffering and be thankful to God that you can rest your head on your pillow without hearing missiles overhead, without waking to find that your family or your neighbors did not wake up. Pray that you do not become of the oppressed by denying the truth.

Right now, drop to your knees and put your foreheads to the ground and pray.

Shed yourselves of misguidance, misunderstandings, untruths!

Shed yourself of the illusion of comfort!

Don’t turn your backs.

Turning your backs = denial and apathy!

Do you really want to align yourself with apathy? With injustice and oppression?

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Allow yourself to be “uncomfortable.” Allow yourself to feel the pain of injustice.

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Silence = support of the offender.

Silence = apathy

Silence only allows for continued injustice.

Silence only allows for further misunderstandings and continued oppression for years to come.

Don’t pass your silence on to coming generations.

Allow yourself to be uncomfortable!

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May God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful, the Most Just, protect those who are suffering under oppression throughout the world. May God ease the suffering of families who have lost their sons, daughters, mothers and fathers. Ameen.

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“Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, [even] after that, throughout the land, were transgressors.” (Quran 5:32)

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My prayer rug

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I received a new prayer rug a few days ago and decided to use it today during my late afternoon prayer  (Asr Salah). As I unfolded it and spread it in front of me on the floor, I noticed how beautiful it was, how brilliant the colors seemed against the background of the throw rug where I placed it. I took a few seconds to admire it before I started my prayer.

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I chose a design towards the top of the rug for my eyes to gaze at during my prayer to help my concentration and I began my prayer. “Allahu Akbar.”

I felt a comfort wash over me as I finished and I sat quietly on the rug, enjoying the calm, the colors within the rug, and the experience. I was mesmerized by the colors, the deep green and the brilliant gold threads woven through the intricate designs. As I sat and breathed it all in, I realized that I was experiencing one of the beautiful signs of our Creator, Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala.

The signs of Allah SWT found in the beauty that He so generously spreads throughout creation. The beauty that we often pass by every day without stopping to appreciate it. The beauty that appears through the clouds, the forests, the valleys, the deserts, the plains, the streams, the mountains, and the seas. The beauty found within each living creature, and the beauty found in the colors of our surroundings.

As I looked up from the rug, I glanced around my living room. I noticed all of the colors that surrounded me in that small space. The deep red colors of the furniture, the various colors within artwork and decor. The colors found on walls,  on book shelves, woven within the woodwork, and the houseplants. Subtle colors, brilliant colors, sparkles, shimmers, and the variety of different shades of each color.

Colors!

Colors that would not exist without the Generosity, Grace and Mercy of Allah SWT.

SubhanAllah!

I walked to the window to watch the snow fall. I embraced the white, clean, bright new blanket of glistening snow covering the yard. I noticed all of the colors of winter. The gray leafless branches, the browns in the bushes, the bright red of the cardinal that remains here in the winter, the gray squirrels scampering across the snow, the dark sky and cloud cover filled with moisture.

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My thoughts crossed the continents, to the colors and patterns found throughout. From the bold black stripes of the zebra, to the bright vibrant colors of a peacock’s plume. From the many vivid colors of tropical fish, to the brown patterns across the giraffe. From the leopard’s intricate coat to the butterfly’s wings.

Colors.

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The colors found in the early morning sunrise and the evening sunset. The colors of our lands and of our cultures.

It is said that it is best to learn about Allah SWT, our Creator, through His attributes, through His beautiful names. I was immediately struck by this amazing truth and ran to a book to look up some of the beautiful names of Allah, SWT. Many of these beautiful names, of these attributes, are found within the colors of this world.

None of these colors would exist without their Creator.

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bismillahirrahmanirrahim

Ar-Rahim, The All Beneficient

As-Salaam, The Source of Peace and Safety

Al Khaliq, The Creator

Ar-Razzaq, The Ever Provider

Al-Azeem, The Magnificent, The Infinite

Al-Karim, The Bountiful, The Generous

Al-Wadud, The Loving

Al-Haqq, The Truth

Dhu-al-Jalaliwa- al-Ikram, The Lord of Majesty and Generosity

These Beautiful Names of Allah SWT, His Attributes,  are found within the colors.

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The colors of creation are a gift to us from the Most Merciful, The Source of Peace, The Creator of all, The Ever Provider, The Magnificent, The Loving, The Truth, The Lord of Majesty and Generosity.

SubhanAllah      Alhamdulillah      Allahu Akbar

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The hours passed quickly and as my next prayer time came in (Maghrib salah),  I again prepared by laying the rug beneath my feet. I stood still, located the spot that I would focus on during prayer, and again felt the calm surround me. “Allahu Akbar.”

Realizing that the signs of Allah SWT, His Beautiful Names and Attributes were surrounding me at that moment, my pray was focused, my concentration increased, and my thoughts were solely on my Creator.

When I finished my prayer, I sat quietly again. My thoughts turned to questions. How can one travel throughout their life without stopping, within the daily routine, to take some time in praise and gratitude of Allah, SWT? How can one not acknowledge Allah’s Endless Mercy, His Generous Forgiveness, and His Guidance?

The signs are all there, within our sight, within our reach.

“Praise is to Allah Who by His Blessings all good things are perfected.”

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He is near!

More time has passed since I began this post. It is now time for me to complete the last prayer of the evening, inshaAllah (‘Isha Salah).

I will place the rug beneath my feet……Allahu Akbar.

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