Thursday, June 23, 2016

Ramadan Reflection : Food For Thought

{Eat and drink but waste not by extravagance, certainly He (Allah) likes not Al-Musrifûn (those who waste by extravagance).} [Quran 7:31]

So I meant to write this post earlier in the month but I have just been distracted with trying to figure out what to do with myself during this blessed month. I usually stay up until fajr because I really don't like that groggy feeling if I sleep like a short hour before suhoor (since the night is so short) you can't really get a good nights rest. I feel more productive during the night but at the same time I get too tired to write. But I am taking another attempt and hopefully bidhniAllah, this post will make sense and I will get my point across clearly insha'Allah ! 

We are now pretty much half way through this blessed month and to be honest with you, I have been struggling to be productive and trying to stay focused. A lot has been on my mind lately and I am just trying to deal with my emotions concerning a bunch of things and really trying hard to not fall into any kind of sadness or depression. I know this dunya is a test and the whole point of these challenging tasks is to come out with more sabr and resilience. The struggle is real! I always find myself going in strong at the beginning of the month but then I tend to go in too strong and too fast resulting in a final burn out during the last 10 nights! So I have really been trying to gradually pace myself and try my best to do what is within my capacity and to not overburden myself or to stress myself out too much if I don't complete task a, b, or c. On top of that I am trying to deal with dunya issues so I am trying to go easy on myself (but obviously not too easy.) I hope everyone else's Ramadan is going well and you are all getting your ibadaah in and making use of this blessed month! 

I know this month is where we are supposed to strive harder than usual and increase in good deeds. We are supposed to try our best to kick old habits and work hard to improve ourselves and to get closer to Allah. One pressing issue that I find within our community is something that really makes me sad and upset; that is the issue of wasting food. I was blessed this year to finally attend my local masjid for a few iftaars and though it was a lovely experience, I was absolutely shocked by the amount of food being wasted! I couldn't believe my eyes. I saw half of the rice box being thrown away and it really broke my heart. I couldn't believe that this is the very food that Allah has blessed us with to break our fast, the very food that many all around the world are wishing to eat and to fill their stomach's with and yet some individuals are just throwing it away like a piece of garbage astughfurAllah!!!!! 

Sisters, please realise The prophet ordered us not to leave anything in the plate and he said: "You do not know in which portion of your food Allah has put the Barakah "(Blessing). [Muslim]  you all are doing a great job in fasting and fulfilling one of the pillars of Islam but when your eyes are bigger than your stomachs and you cannot finish your food, please do not throw it away. Think about all the hungry children around the world. Think about those suffering in all the third world countries, all the war torn countries, and all the countries where even water is scarce! Yet look at the food that Allah has blessed us with and showered us with His Mercy. Can you imagine yourself for one second in their shoes (or lack thereof) of these poor Muslims who do not even know when they can have the chance to break their fast in and outside of Ramadan! Alhamdulillah for donations and we can feed them during Ramadan but even so, not every country has the luxury of being fed biryani or rice with meat . Think about how blessed you are to be able to eat that! 

Sisters, it is a duty upon you to set an example for your household and especically your children and to show them the importance of not wasting and the importance of not taking more than what you can eat. If you cannot finish your rice box, please, save it for suhoor or worse case scenario, feed it to the birds on your porch! But do NOT throw that blessed food away. This is a gift from Allah! Can you imagine not being able to have any food and Allah tests you with a loss of wealth? Throwing away food is like throwing away blessings. Allah can easily test you with hunger and starvation and it doesn't even have to be in the month of Ramadan! Please be mindful and really realise that what you have is a gift and that it is a big bounty and favour from Allah. If you throw away the food, you are throwing away Allah's bounties and His favours upon you! Of course I am not encouraging you to stuff your face until you can't breath resulting in you standing and burping while praying taraweeh or being so full you can't even stand at all audhubillah!In reality, we should really remember this hadith"The child of Adam has not filled any receptacle worse than his stomach. It is sufficient for the child of Adam to eat small bits of food that keep him healthy. Now if he wants to eat much any way, he should give a third to the food, a third to the drink and a third (of his stomach) to let him breathe comfortably." [Ahmad] and next time, before you think about throwing away that food, just for one second remember the children who are suffering from malnutrition or the children and adults dying from starvation and then remember the gift of food in your hands that you are about to throw up. Remember that the food you are about to throw out could actually be the part with the most blessings in it! IF YOU CAN'T FINISH IT, PACK IT UP TO GO and have it for suhoor. Do not be picky, if you don't like to eat the same thing twice, just think for a second and tell yourself "wait! There could be great blessings in this and Allah can reward me for not wasting !" and you will get an easy reward just by doing that! Or you can even feed it to some bird or raccoons or a stray cat! Just don't throw it away please! 

If you are just as passionate about this issue as me, please do take steps to bring it up to the masjid and to maybe put up signs as a reminder to NOT WASTE ANY LEFTOVERS! Leftovers are awesome and they usually taste better the next day anyway! You can even get creative and do some mix and match and make some awesome new dish or recipe with your leftovers!

This is the month to kick bad habits and if you are used to throwing away food, let this month be the month to change your old ways. Food is a blessing, a bounty from Allah. You did not earn it nor do you deserve it except that Allah gave it to you from His Mercy! Always remember, you are nothing but a weak human being who can have all this wealth, health, life taken away in a matter of seconds. Because you wasted food so freely, Allah could easily test you by making you starve for all those times you threw away food! Just as easily as Allah provided us food, He can so easily take it away (May Allah protect us from such trials, ameen.) Always remember that. Do not go to the extreme of gluttony  and overeating your share and do not go to the extreme of wasting. Being a believer is all about moderation and balance. May Allah give us the tawfeeq to remember always His blessings and to be grateful for everything and may this be a reminder to myself first and foremost and may He bless us with success for the remainder of this month and that which follows ameen! 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Ramadan 2016

Ramadan Mubarak all ! 

So I just realised the most recent post I just shared was the very first post of 2016 and we are already in June! Subhana'Allah how time flies. I moved back to Toronto on Dec 30th of 2015 and at the blink of an eye, it is already June 2016 ! Insha'Allah I will try my best to keep blogging regularly since things have settled down now alhamdulillah. 
Allah has blessed me and you with His Mercy by witnessing yet another Ramadan. I remember the first time I spent Ramadan alone here in Canada without my husband and I made it such a big deal and I was really upset and just wasn't feelin' it ! But now that this is my 6th Ramadan (only by the Permission of Allah) and my 4th one alone, I finally feel more comfortable and in fact, grateful that I can witness yet another Ramadan and by myself! I admit, it would be really nice to experience Ramadan with a big family but I feel like when I fly solo, things are just a lot easier for me. Making iftaar and sahoor for one body is awesome and eating by yourself while playing a lecture or chatting with your friends online is pretty sweet. Also, you are on your own schedule and you can do whatever you need whenever you need. So, Alhamdulillah for the solo Ramadans! As well, I really don't want to complain because compared to many, most of us have it real good. Just being able to fast in your own home or having food to break your fast and feed yourself with for sahoor is more than a blessing! If we just look around the world and see how the Muslims suffer and bloodshed going on everywhere, we should realize just how blessed we are and how we should thank Allah each and every day for the things we have. I often think about my revert sisters who's family don't know they are Muslim because they would disown them, or the revert sister's who's families hate Islam and do not let them freely practise in the home and it makes me really feel sad for them. I know that it is really difficult because I live with my parents and certain things can really be a big struggle and a big test! A message to those sisters, you are NOT alone! Allah is with you always and continue to strive hard and stay strong and always remember that we will not say that we believe in Allah and the Messenger (peace be upon him) and then not be tested and tried ! Always remember that the glad tidings and big rewards are with Allah and He does not forget any small thing we do for His Sake. Alhamdulillah! What a good reminder to myself. Whenever we think that we are a stuck in a situation, let us always remember that Allah has always relieved the prophets (peace be upon them all) and they came out strong and always successful therefore Allah will never leave us hanging unless we forget Him and leave ourselves hanging without Him ! 

I want to make this month a month of reflection. I want to be able to pick the smallest of situations and be able to reflect upon it. I feel like sometimes I am so caught up with my problems and my tests that I forget to look at the big picture and realise that whatever happens, it is something good and it will help me with the present and the future. 
 “How wonderful is the affair of the believer, for his affairs are all good, and this applies to no one but the believer. If something good happens to him, he is thankful for it and that is good for him. If something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience and that is good for him.” (Narrated by Muslim, 2999).  

Today we should reflect upon the fact that we are here today to witness another Ramadan, may Allah allow us to complete it successfully and may He forgive us and allow us to witness many more ameen. I feel like sometimes I take my life and my time for granted. Many times I just expect that I will be alive tomorrow. When I really sit and think about how short life really is, it is really ignorant for me to think that I can take my time with my life and doing good deeds. I remember when I first became Muslim and all the blog posts I wrote, were always so reflective and passionate! I remember that I was always so focused about the akhirah and racing to do good deeds! Somewhere down the road, I got a little side tracked and began to worry more about dunya things. Subhana'Allah how easy it is to just get so caught up with the life of this world and forget the true purpose of life as a Muslim. Even as I sit here writing I am overthinking and worrying about my personal affairs. I hope that I can increase in tawakkul and always remind myself that Allah is the Best of Planners and I can only make duaa that I will have a good ending and that Allah will have mercy on me. Death is such a scary thing. It is like the elephant in the room, nobody wants to talk about it but we know it's there and close by. I hope that my passion for the deen will be ignited like once before and that I will be able to write with firm hope and enthusiasm. I know that I can't expect everything to happen overnight and I am definitely a work in progress. I know, though, Allah is most Merciful and He only cares to see that we have tried and we continue to try and we continue to call upon Him and Him alone. 

What are your goals for this Ramadan? If you are reading this , please share in the comments below.  

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Back from USA ! Alhamdulillah!

It has been a long while since I last wrote on my blog! Hope all my readers (if there are any left lol) are doing well bidhniAllah (by the permission of Allah)! Well a lot has happened since my last post! I finally moved back to Canada and no longer living in US ! ALHAMDULILLAH!!!! I never disclosed my location where I was living when I was in US mainly because I was looking out for my own safety! I am back home in Toronto and a new journey begins.

I guess now I can share my experiences with you about my life in US. I was living in Kentucky to be exact, and where I lived, there were little to no Muslims there. There were only a bunch of #Saudi students and well, #selfexplanatory #noexplanationneeded. I met a few kind sisters alhamdulillah but generally speaking, the Islam in that town was weak and really pathetic. I felt very alone most of the time and my emaan really suffered. When I say suffered, I can't even begin to explain just how low it was! There were no masjids around us and most of them were either 25-45 minutes away and filled with Sufi-modern-merikuhhhn muslims who did NOT make you feel welcome! If you are ever in the Cincinnati area, do NOT go to Clifton masjid because the sisters are mainly very rude and if you wear niqab they look at you like you are some kind of terrorist! Nobody says 'Salam' (except for the odd few) to you and they all have their own clique which they congregate into a little circle against the wall. I REALLY had a bad experience there and all the other sisters I knew also stayed away from there and warned me as well (even though I had already experienced it for myself) yeah, STAY AWAY! They also promote heavy mixing and always have mixed events and they think nothing wrong of it! Allah Must'aan! 

One masjid I do recommend though is West Chester, the only thing is it was REALLY far from us, nearly 45 minutes away (one way) ! We mostly just went there for Eid prayer and there was a tiny halal market/sit-in restaurant attached together and it was probably like one of the only few restaurants in that pathetic little city. The masjid was beautiful, the sisters were much nicer than those at Cliffy. Of course most of them still have their own agenda (because you know they can't teach TOO much Qur'an and Sunnah *rolls eyes*) but if you are looking for a masjid to go for Eid prayer or to meet some sisters, I recommend West Chester. There were some other random masjids as well, one in Florence KY which was predominately Somali but most of the sisters there didn't really speak English. Most of the masjids did not have many classes or sister only classes..and even if they did, I felt a bit adamant to attend because I didn't know what kind of things they would be teaching. So for pretty much 5 years of my life I was stuck at home and too afraid to step outside my front door to go anywhere alone. 

That's right! I have never felt so unsafe before living somewhere. In KY I felt so unsafe and aside from that, there was absolutely NOTHING to do where I lived. There was only a Kroger, and a shisha place and a 24 hr Wal-mart (which was like stepping into a KKK hotspot because everyone there was white and angry). It was the most trashiest town I have ever lived in! It was probably worse than a random street in the middle of nowhere in Niagra Falls *lol* .. It was a big challenge for me to keep up my deen. I tried to keep active with reading and listening to lectures online but for 5 years, it can only help you for so long. I realised how important it was to always be able to have a good circle of friends (which I didn't really have- except for two sisters, who later moved away ) and to be able to attend Islamic classes in a reliable masjid is such a blessing! 

Living in the US was a big test for me and through all the suffering, it made me realize a lot of things. It made me more thankful ,appreciative, and patient. To this day, I still do not know how I lasted 5 years in the middle of nowhere, and made it out alive and still a Muslim. Alhamdulillah, of course I had my husband to help me and encourage me to stay patient and he always reminded me of Allah but at the same time, the struggle and battle was mostly an inner one. 

Every day I had to fight to overcome my negative mindset. I felt beyond trapped living in the US. Aside from all the physical things that I had to overcome, I had to really fight hard to keep myself from losing hope. I would always fight to hold on to that small string of hope I had left in me. Those who know me personally, know my situation and as I said, I am a very private person so I would never broadcast my life publicly over the internet ( i still don't understand how some can post fashion photos of themselves beautified and with their pregnant belly or newborn baby all on the internet for thousands to see- like don't you worry about evil eye? Subhana'Allah)  but I went (and still am going) through many tests that really made me question a lot of things. 

There were times where my faith was so weak I even wondered " has Islam really made my life better?" and I really would just struggle day after day to think good about Islam and Allah. I even questioned Allah at times astughfurAllah and I fell into heavy depression for the last two years I lived in US. It was truly one of the worst times thus far as a Muslim (alhamdulillah I have been Muslim now for 5 years! May Allah keep me and all my revert sisters/brothers and all Muslims steadfast and strong upon the straight path ameen!) and I had blogged about health issues in some of my posts which was something that had really affected me and made my depression even worse. 

I had suffered from an infected tooth and had to get it removed and because of all the negative factors surrounding me, I suffered major panic attacks and anxiety attacks that were debilitating and left me bed ridden. For those of you who have ever had a panic attack or anxiety attack, you all know very well what I am talking about. Most people who have never suffered from one would probably just look at me and think I am silly and being over dramatic, but NO...mental illness or any kind of unbalanced mental state is even worse than a physical injury because physical injuries heal but your mind, which is probably one of the most powerful parts of the human body, really can make or break you ! Subhana'Allah how weak we are ! 

Anyway, so I suffered for a good year from anxiety and it was just an accumulation of things that made me feel this way and of course anxiety and depression go hand in hand so I fell into depression as well. The main reason I think was because I felt trapped and I just felt like I would never get out of the US. 

Wearing the niqab also was a big test for me, not only because I was worried about being attacked because of it , but also because it constricted my breathing sometimes which in return would affect my anxiety. Because breathing has a lot to do with anxiety! It was a horrible place to be in and I could never leave my home without feeling afraid or scared that I would be attacked or harassed. I had to carry pepper spray with me everywhere I went and I never went out without my husband Alhamdulillah. 

I really disliked living in the states so much subhana'Allah that when I moved back to Toronto I felt like I was in Paradise on earth (just figuratively speaking of course because we all know there is no Paradise except the Paradise that Allah has created for the righteous believers who do good deeds and worship Him alone - may we all make it to Jannatul Firdaus ameen!!). And I just wanted to add, that I did visit a few states like Chicago and Washington (many times) when I stayed in merikuhhh..and though I cannot base my opinion about USA on just living in one state, I will hold true to my opinions mainly because even when I visited those states (which were really beautiful - landscape wise and shopping and food wise!) and even though i met countless sisters from USA online (who maybe only one I keep closely in contact with and consider a friend!) I can say that the mentality is pretty much all the same and the merikuhn vibe is just...I don't know, it's something you can only understand if you are a Canadian. Even the Muslim vibe I experienced online with merikuhnn sisters was very very different and I just can't bring myself to say that I enjoyed any part of living in USA at all (except the obvious, being with my husband)!

To those who are reading this, you may not think it was really anything THAT bad, but believe me it was. I am not going to go into personal details (as I mentioned because I am a private person etc..) but I just want to say that I was put to test through my wealth, health, children (lack there of) and my faith. I realise now that everything that happened was for my own good and that it truly has made me become a better Muslim. I can't express how much i detested living in USA for 5 years but as Allah says in the Qur'an
   “And it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know.” (AI-Baqarah, 2:216)  and I truly realised how good it was for me and for my spirituality.  I feel like if I did not undergo what I went through for 5 years of my life as a Muslim, I would not understand the true value of life and the true gift of Islam. 

The first two years of living in KY were not all that bad. I had really good days and really bad days and the good days had outweighed the bad , but towards the end of my stay there, it was truly a challenge in all aspects . I am glad that Allah gave me the success to overcome those tests (even though I probably complained so many times - astughfurAllah) and to open up my eyes and heart to the true blessings that He gives me and you each and every day. 

Now I am even thankful for just being able to wake up and live in a (marijuana) smoke-free environment, or even just being able to stand outside my balcony and overlook the sunset during maghrib. Even going out for a walk with my hijab (i can't wear niqab around my parents) alone or with a friend is one of the best feelings I have ever felt in a longtime! Allahu Akbar! It also shows that with hardship there is always ease, because even though we are being challenged with hardship, Allah gives us ease in one way or another. When we are being put through tests, we should always look at the other blessings that Allah has given us. 
For example, our health! Subhana'Allah , since the anxiety attacks, I realised just how important our health is and second to the biggest gift of all , Islam , our health comes right after! What good is having all the money , children, luxuries of this world when your health is deteriorating?! Not that we should ever be chasing the dunya, but just imagine! The harships that I faced and continue to face, just proves that Allah's promise is true. 

What did I learn from my experience living in the USA ? 

I learnt soooooo many things!! A lot of things that made me reflect about who I am as a Muslim and what the true meaning of being a Muslim means in this worldly life we live in. Perhaps I was becoming too complacent or maybe even displaying signs of kibr (may Allah protect me and all of us from ever becoming arrogant! ameen!) and these tests were to humble me and to keep me in line with myself. I learnt that instead of complaining about hardships (which I often found myself doing, astughfurAllah) I forced myself to reflect on what the purpose of all these tests were. I remembered also that the more we complained about everything, the worse things would get and I knew that I was failing my tests and that I would end up losing out on all the possible rewards from Allah ! 

“And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe’.” (14:7)

I also learnt that this dunya is way too short and that all your blessings can disappear in the blink of and eye. I also realised how important it is to take advantage of your health; whether you use it for helping out your parents , your family, or helping out the sick, USE your health to your FULL advantage for the beneficial things that please Allah! Health is by far one of the biggest blessings Allah has gifted us with subhana'Allah! 
“The son of Adam will not pass away from Allah until he is asked about five things: how he lived his life, and how he utilized his youth, with what means did he earn his wealth, how did he spend his wealth, and what did he do with his knowledge.” (Tirmidhi)

Above it all, what I really learnt was that all these tests are only because Allah loves me and He wants to raise my rank and to shape me to be the best Muslimah I can be. I know how hard it is to always try to reflect upon the blessings of a test or trial when all you can think about is the suffering you are going through! Many times I would feel sorry for myself and sulk because of my situation and I would think that I was going through everything all alone. Little did I know that this hardship was something I truly needed in order to open my eyes to becoming more humble and to giving me more courage to keep trekking through this crazy life called dunya. It is so easy to get lost along the way when you are struggling and in a bad place (physically and mentally). The saying holds true: What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I hope that my experience is something that we all can reflect upon and to always be thankful for our blessings, from being able to just open your eyes and get out of bed without any help to having food to break your fast with!

As narrated by Tirmidhi and Ibn Maajah :  - The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: 'The greater reward is with the greater trial or the greater the trial or difficulty of test or hardship is then the greater the reward. And when Allah loves a person He will test them. The people as long as they are in good health, good shape, good condition they are covered. You don't know their true character because they are in good situation, they are in good circumstance. As long as they are in a good circumstances they are covered. But if a trial or difficulty or a hardship comes upon them, then you will see their reality. They will go to their reality. The Mu'min will run to his Imaan, the hypocrite will run to his hypocrisy.

'As recorded in Buhari and Muslim: The Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: "Whoever Allah wants good for him, he puts them to test. He puts them through difficulties. Like a diamond or some metal that has to be burnt and then that which is bad from it is removed so that you have that which is the pure diamond or the pure gold or whatever. Put them to tests, trials and difficulties."

"Or you think that you will enter Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They were afflicted with severe poverty, ailments and were so shaken that even the Messenger and those who had faith with him said, 'When will the Help of Allah come?' Yes! Indeed Allah's help is close!" [Al-Qur'an 2:214]

Please keep my in your duaas my readers as I continue to go through some hardships and not being with my husband and now living at home with my non-Muslim parents. May Allah continue to guide us and bless us with good health and be pleased with us in this life and the next ameen!