Saturday, October 6, 2018

Website just for Converts/Reverts in Ontario

Assalamu Alaykum

Please find the new website with the purpose to unite all the converts/reverts sisters in Canada. Kindly give your support by:

- Spreading the words to whoever you know
- Sharing your stories, your thoughts, any other topic you can think of that will benefit anyone


Note: Both web addresses will go to the same site. 

Barakallahu feekum!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

DIY : Making Lemonade.

I used to hear the saying "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade!" many times. I always thought it was a very positive way to look at life but I never really applied it to myself..until I was forced to.

For quite a while, those lemons were not making anything but lemon juice. I thought that making lemon juice would be much easier than making lemonade. I thought, 'how do I add sugar when all I have are lemons?'

This went on for quite some time. Over and over, I would allow myself to fall into self pity and despair. Though nobody really knows exactly what my hardships are (except for the occasional few who know me personally), there have been just many things that have caused me complete exhaustion. Many doors keep closing and I honestly feel like just laying on that hard, cold pavement again and and again, giving up on this race to the finish line altogether.

Then, I started reflecting.

A source of guidance entered into my life and I found extreme benefit and light in this source of guidance. It is not really anything or anyone in particular, but it was just something Allah sent to me and it allowed me to learn and understand the deeper value of hardship. My heart opened up to that spiritual side that was always within me. I began to become introspective again and instead of focusing on my problems, I tried to find solutions. 

My external circumstances are definitely exhausting but isn't this life meant to be? I guess hardships help us build endurance so we can make it to the finish line to the akhirah and hopefully insha'Allah cross over to al-Firdaus al a'la.

sigh.

When I first moved back to Toronto, there was no doubt that I had geared my focus on the wrong things. My perspective was distorted and my vision was unclear. I went through serious growing pains that tested me in a way I never thought possible. 

Yeah, my external environment and situation was/is not favourable but I will be honest, it is tolerable. The most severe struggle I went through was dealing with my Self.


I am still trying to make lemonade but it really is not easy. Most of the time, I find myself adding too much sour instead of more sweet. Trying to find the sweetness in my life is more difficult than I imagined.

I keep searching.

In order to make successful lemonade, you must have a balance of enough sweet and enough sour. If one is greater than the other, it will not be enjoyable. 
It there is too much sweet then we will never learn and we will remain complacent; we will never have to struggle to achieve greater things. That being said, we should not think that in order to live through this life and in order to get to Jannah, we HAVE to suffer and put ourselves through hardships only. No, this is not the purpose of life. Being a Muslim and practicing Islam does not mean that it is a requirement that we must live in hardship and sufferings for the entire duration of our lives. Yes, many prophets (may peace and blessings be upon them all) did endure hardships and they did struggle and suffer but they were always rewarded for their ease in the dunya (and of course the akhirah.) There was also much wisdom through their sufferings in which we can learn a lot from. They never inflicted hardship and sufferings upon themselves and their hardships were always for something that would bring about the benefit to the deen and to the Muslims! 

I found this beautiful reminder which I just had to share! I will end the post here, I hope this will serve as a reminder to myself and to my readers that Islam is not meant to make us suffer and go through hardships our entire lives just because that is where a lot of reward lies:

"And it should be known that Allah’s Pleasure and Love are not dependent on you torturing yourself and going through hardship, such that something is better simply on account of how hard it is. It is assumed by many ignorant people that the reward is obtained in accordance with hardship in everything. No! Rather, the reward is in accordance with the benefit of the act and how much it manifests obedience to Allah and His Messenger. So, the more beneficial an act and the more obedient its doer, the more virtuous it is. Actions aren’t virtuous due to their quantity. Rather, they are virtuous due to the effect they have on the heart. 


This is why when the sister of ‘Uqbah bin ‘Amir made a vow to perform Hajj walking barefoot, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: “Indeed, Allah is not in need of your sister torturing herself. Have her continue while riding.” It was narrated that he had her slaughter an animal, and it was also narrated that he had her fast. The same applies to the hadith of Juwayriyah when she was performing tasbih using pebbles before noon, and he came back at night and found her sitting in the same position. So, he said to her: “I said four words three times that would outweigh all that you have said today.”

The point of all this is to know that Allah didn’t command us to do except what is beneficial for us, and He didn’t forbid us except from what is harmful to us. This is why Allah praises righteous acts and encourages righteousness and benefit, and discourages corruption and harm. Allah forbade us from filthy things due to the harm and corruption they bring about, and He commanded us with righteous acts due to the benefit they bring about.

It might be the case that such actions cannot be performed except with some hardship, such as enjoining the good, preventing the evil, seeking knowledge, etc. So, all of this is obtained through hardship, and one is rewarded for them due to the benefit that they result in. This is like when the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said to ‘A’ishah when she performed ‘Umrah from at-Tan’im in the year of the Farewell Hajj: “Your reward is in accordance with your effort.”
However, if the benefit of the act does not outweigh the hardship it involves, this is a form of ruin and corruption, and Allah does not love corruption. An example of this is in worldly benefits. Enduring hardship to make a great gain or repel a great enemy is praiseworthy. As for one who endures great effort and hardship in order to make an insignificant amount of money or to repel a very minor harm, he is just like a person who pays a thousand dirhams in exchange for a hundred, or one who walks for an entire day to get a meal while he could’ve gotten a better meal in the very town he lives in.
So, the legislated and recommended course of action is all about justice, balance, and moderation – which are the best and loftiest of affairs – just as the Firdaws is both the highest part of Paradise and the middle (i.e. best) part of it. So, whoever is like this will have this as his destination, by Allah’s Permission"
Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullah)
(Majmu’ al-Fataawa’ ibn Taymiyah; 25/126-127)


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

MY REVIEW: NIQABco.




So, I finally got to try out a niqab from niqabco ! Ever since my experience with my sunnah style niqabs (which I wrote an honest review about here) I have been on the lookout for a nice niqab which is suitable for my face shape. I wear glasses and have a small nose bridge; trying to find a niqab to fit everything and be comfortable is quite difficult. I don't wear the niqab full-time anymore so I don't really have a need to purchase more, however, I wanted to finally support my friend! I have been online friends with the owner over at niqabco for as long as I can remember. I have been wanting to try out her niqabs for quite some time now and I was finally able to purchase one! 

Since my issues with the Sunnah Style niqabs, I decided to try the two-layer velcro niqab. I always wanted to try a velcro niqab and Niqabco seemed to be one of the first places to introduce this cool concept. I will give an unbiased review since that will only be fair, right?! 

Well, my online experience was pleasant and quick and I really like how everything is quite affordable- considering it is an online shop all the way in Turkey! Her pricing is very fair and considerate, especially for the quality! It comes with this lovely box that looks so pretty and unique! 
I am a huge fan of packaging so this is definitely a plus, lol! Also, you can always keep your niqab back in its slim, flat box and slip it on your shelf to keep it clean and tidy (instead of stuffing it away and then it gets wrinkly - cuz I don't have the effort to hang my niqabs on a hanger..)

I got the rose colour and it's such a beautiful colour. Not too bright, not too flashy and just simple enough. The material is also very light and NO PILLING so far!!! I even washed it in the washing machine. I know you probably should handwash, but I honestly couldn't be bothered. I am one for practicality and for me to hand wash something every time I wear it, bye. 

I do, however, put my hijabs and niqabs in a pillowcase when I wash them to avoid snagging and tearing etc... If the material is of good quality, usually nothing will happen. My Niqabco niqab came out fine and no pilling or snagging! I was pleased with my purchase. Nothing happened to the velcro part after washing it in the washing machine. The only thing I would say is that I needed to play around with the velcro part to adjust it to my desired size and that took a few tries! But generally, I am pleased with my niqab and I really feel feminine and lovely because the material is very light and flowy. I highly recommend this niqab shop (Which also sells a variety of other modest apparels). 

PROS:
-AFFORDABLE
-GOOD MATERIAL
-NO PILLING
-NICE COLOURS
- EYE WINDOW VARIETY
- GOOD QUALITY
- CUTE LABEL/LOGO 
- TOTAL PRICE IS ALREADY INCLUDING SHIPPING !!!!
- FEEL FEMININE AND LOVELY
- GOOD CRAFTSMANSHIP 

CONS:
- WOULD LIKE MORE COLOURS
- SHIPPING CAN TAKE UP TO 3 WEEKS




Saturday, August 11, 2018

We need to CHILL for a second.

When I first became Muslim I had this sudden zeal that was burning within.
Obviously, this is very natural. When we love something, especially when it is new and exciting, we want to share the news with everyone ! I wanted to share my new journey and faith with all those around me. I wanted everyone to experience what I felt and all I would do was talk about Islam the whole time. I was so excited about my new faith that I just HAD to share it. I shared it with Muslims and non-Muslims and when I look back at myself (lol) I can't believe how silly I was. I mean of course we have to share the beauty of Islam with others! But there is definitely a certain approach you must take!

I became very passionate and emotional every time I talked about Islam and how I converted. I would always try to organize some sort of Islamic reminders on What'sApp chat groups and force everyone to get involved (lol!) and for a while, it was benefiting myself and others. Then I started suffering some serious hardships in the US and it caused me to retract into my shell and all I wanted to do was keep to myself. I realised that my emaan and my zeal seemed to be only on the surface because once I was put into tests of my own, I noticed that my trust and hope in Allah were very weak.

I'm not sure if you all understand this but let me try to explain it to you.

My zeal and passion for Islam was built only on seeking knowledge. All I would do was read and learn about how the pious predecessors (the Salaf) would practise Islam. I would make a lot of effort to practise outwardly the Sunnah without really understanding the true beauty of why the Prophet (peace be upon him) did them and everything just had a surface value. I was doing things more out of fear rather than love. I was worried that if I did not do things, Allah would punish me. This is SO wrong.

OF COURSE, all these things are extremely important and beneficial for us and we should constantly be educating ourselves about the Sunnah and the pious predecessors but we also need to remember that in order for us to be consistent with acts of ibadaah, we need to remember that emaan grows in the heart and when it does, that is when we truly enjoy doing acts of worship because they are genuinely for the sake of pleasing Allah! What is in the hearts will eventually radiate through our actions!

A lot of people say that emaan and Allah are in the heart, but if Allah is in your heart (and let us not take this out of context and think that Allah is everywhere- yes, SIGNS of Allah are everywhere but we know that He is above the throne!) and emaan is in the heart, then your speech, your actions should reflect that. Things like the hijab, prayer, and doing other acts of worship come easily and naturally once the emaan in the heart grows. I thought that I had emaan but then I realised a lot of the time I was doing things because I HAD to and not because I sincerely wanted to.

So once I was tested with hardships, I left a lot of my voluntary acts of worship and I even began to question Allah and Islam (may Allah always protect me and you from this ameen). It was only until I moved back to Toronto that I realised that I have a very limited understanding of Islam and even though I sought knowledge non-stop, it never reached beyond my mind. It never transcended deeply into my heart or my soul, it never touched me the way it touched Ibn al Qayyim( rahimuAllah) or Ibn al Jawzi (Rahimuallah) and the likes of. My understanding of Islam was on a surface level and it is only until now that I started to realise that being a Muslim is not just about the outwarldy obligations but it is also understanding yourself and through that, then you can know Allah and then learn to love Allah.

I know a lot of us may lack this understanding. I have seen and continue to see way too many individuals, especially on social media, show their Islamic knowledge outwarldy. It does not go anywhere deeper than that. How do I know this? It is very simple and obvious. Their manners and character show it all. Most of these sisters do not have good manners and lack empathy. They dictate the deen and if you do not take the opinions of their shaykh, they will chastise you. You are basically 'non-practising' in their eyes. They basically want to force you to follow in their way and if you don't, you can't "sit with them."

This brings me to my last point.

This is the kind of interaction that is not even from the Qur'an and Sunnah. The prophet (peace be upon him ) was never forceful and Allah even says in the Qur'an there is no compulsion in the religion (2:256) so why are you forcing others to do what you are doing?

What you do to get closer to Allah may not be what another person wants to do at this moment in time. They may be on a completely different journey than you and even though you may be more fast-paced then them, they are going at a rate that is suitable for them- but at least they are still trying. For all we know, they could be crying to Allah behind closed doors every day asking Him to guide them to wear the hijab, or to fulfill their five daily prayers! We will never know what is going on in their lives and what they are struggling with.

A lot of the times, individuals always seem to preach that Allah is strict and harsh and if you don't do A-B-C you will be punished! Again, up until recently, I believed this as well. I was doing things because I didn't want to be punished not because I truly wanted to do them. Allah is not a harsh, mean Lord ! Yes, He punishes where He Sees fit but He also rewards. Allah is oft-Forgiving, most Merciful. Forcing people to do acts of worships is never the key to success. You are not responsible for anyone but yourself. If you truly want to help someone, lead by example through your speech and your actions and show them how Islam has touched you. If you are forcing the deen down someone's throat and if you find yourself being harsh and cruel, you got it all wrong, girl. You are causing more harm than good. Trust me! I have been there before and I was the harsh one with excessive zeal forcing the deen down other's throats! Rarely does this method work.

So this reminder is to myself first and foremost, focus on myself and my relationship with Allah.
Do not force others to listen to x-y-z lectures or force others to do a-b-c ibadaat . Yes, enjoining good and forbidding evil is our DUTY as a Muslim, but do it wisely. The way we enjoin good can actually turn out to be evil because of the method we approach people with becomes counterproductive!
Acts of worship should never be seen as a chore or a drag. We should want to do it with our hearts and soul because we love Allah and we want Him to be pleased with us. If you are the reason that people find acts of worships to be a drag, then please remember to focus on yourself before you focus on anybody else.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Ramadan Reflection 2018.

(A little late in posting this, but better late than never!)

If I said that I had a productive Ramadan, I would be lying to myself. This year was a pure struggle. It was difficult, unproductive, and challenging. I went into this year thinking that I wanted to have a peaceful and serene Ramadan. It was peaceful in a sense that I tried to avoid people and the masjid and it was serene in the sense that I was alone for iftar and suhoor .

To be honest, I didn't have a productive Ramadan AT ALL. I just wasn't feeling it. I wasn't able to do half of the things I did last year, not because I couldn't but because I just wasn't feeling it. I forced myself to do as much as I could, but this year, I had no drive. Some readers are probably judging me and thinking "she is so ungrateful", "she can do it so why shouldn't she..." etc.. and yes I agree with you! But there are a lot of things that I don't include in my posts. I don't share much about my private life and what goes on so that is why it is easy for many to judge me. Buttttttttt.... I honestly could care less, lol. Judge if you want, ultimately, I am the one living this reality and Allah knows all the highs and lows I struggle with on a daily basis. The one who judges hold no merit in our lives because have they been there for us? Have they been the one to call us to see how we are doing? Do they e-mail or send us a text to check up on us? Probably not ..so remember sisters, people who judge you are just background noise and have inner conflicts with themselves that they refuse to pay attention to thus they look at others to make themselves feel better.

Anyway,
Call me taboo for expressing my honest feelings but I feel like everyone on social media takes it way too far with their Ramadan experience. Posting pics of iftar gatherings, posting videos/pics of themselves galavanting around the city after praying Taraweeh hashtagging #ramadanlatenights #suhoor/iftaarwithfriends...so on and so forth. I feel like Ramadan has become such a cultural and commercialized practice that if we dare have an unproductive Ramadan we are seen as a bad Muslim who is lazy and not a good believer.
Let's be honest with ourselves, though. We are only human beings and expecting to excel 24/7 365 days a year is absolutely impossible. Ramadan is no exception. We WILL have those Ramadans where we failed ourselves and where they just didn't affect us as much as it affected the next person beside us bawling their eyes out during Taraweeh. We WILL have those boring, lonely Eids that make us feel depressed and sad, we WILL have many moments of despair and low emaan during AND after Ramadan. This is normal. Yes, our community leaders always stress the importance of making the best of each Ramadan because we don't know if it will be our last. This holds a weighty truth but we also need to remember that we are not robots or machines. We can only try our best even if it means not being as successful as we were the year before. What matters the most, is that we tried our best. Allah is not an evil God nor is He out to get us or punish us (reminder to myself first and foremost). Allah just wants us to try our best and to give what we can; little or a lot.

The reason I decided to share my experience is that I know I am not the only one out there who didn't have a productive Ramadan. Those who are single and living with non-Muslim parents, those who have to work 8-hour shifts, single mothers who have to work and take care of children, and there are countless scenarios that I could go on and list, are some reasons that could hinder or affect our worship in the blessed month.

To be honest, this Ramadan made me reflect on my many flaws. I found myself getting extremely irritated (more than usual) with people and I just had a low tolerance for things I normally try to tolerate. The two months leading up to Ramadan were exhausting mentally and emotionally and it just followed me well into Ramadan. I was trying to take a breather yet I was also trying to keep the momentum up with the holy month. Alas, I was burned out by the middle of Ramadan and as I sit here waiting for my last iftar, I can't help but feel a sense of relief and a sense of disappointment.

I remind myself and all the readers that Ramadan should not be just a monthly emaan sprint. We should always remain consistent and balanced throughout the year. Even if it is reading one page of the Qur'an every day or watching one Islamic lecture per week, or even just saying a simple Salam to a sister and telling her a good word can be more beneficial than doing absolutely nothing all year and everything in one month. Consistency and intentions are key. I know how hard it is to keep up our daily routines all year round, especially if you do not have many Muslim family/friends around you to support you every single day. While it is a luxury to have this in our lives, in the end, we die alone and we will be in our grave alone, therefore, we need to depend on Allah and ourselves to get us through the good, the bad and the ugly times.

Ramadan is no different. It has become such a cultural practise to highlight Ramadan as being a time to have iftar/suhoor with family ...Eid parties with family...going to the masjid with family....etc... but in reality, family will leave us...and then what? Will our family be with us inside our grave and helping us during the day of Judgement? No.
We need to stop making Ramadan out to be some big fam jam and we need to detach ourselves from this idea. The reason a lot of us struggle during Ramadan, myself included, is that we think Ramadan is only meaningful if we have lots of iftar parties and taraweeh late nights at the masjid with family. I always feel sad whenever I see people posting or talking about Ramadan with their families and maybe that is one of the times I actually feel alone as a convert. I guess that is my own fault because I should not associate Ramadan = family gatherings and happy times to eat and get fat. Ramadan is a time for reflection alone with Allah. I should feel grateful that I have that moment and chance to be in touch with my creator while others are being in touch with their families and their stomachs. I should be thankful that Allah wants me to spend one on one time with Him instead of wasting my time talking about nonsense over food with family and not even having time to make duaa before maghrib because I'm too busy helping family cook in the kitchen. I need to remind myself that the whole purpose of Ramadan and after Ramadan is to gain independence from the creation and gain dependence on the Creator. Wow, it's so easy to say this but how difficult is it to actually understand and apply this?

Ramadan has left us, yet the struggles continue.....
Ah well, this is life.