Arabic poetry #2

العالم هو غريب
و كل الناس عجيب
ولكن انت
كنت وراء الجميع

The world is strange
And all people are marvelous
But you,
You are beyond all.

My Favorite Shortcut To A Good Quality Salah

Want a shortcut to boosting the quality of your salah?

Memorize some new ayahs from the Quran. It can be just 3-4 tiny ayahs from the 30th juz. Or an entire surah. Anything.

Now pray your salah with the newly memorized ayahs after surah Fatiha (the minimum is 3 ayahs).

If you’ve done this before then you already know how incredible it feels. It’s not the same anymore. The effort your brain gives to keep the recitation correct drowns out all those unwanted distractions. You are literally forced to focus, without the strain of deliberately trying to focus.

The rush you feel…the warmth flowing through your body…the longing to linger on…how long have you been waiting for this? Every new word feels like an adventure! This is what keeps me going on the really, really bad days.

Trust me, it’s totally, totally worth trying.

That’s How The Quran Starts

In the first ayah of the Quran – Bismillahir rahmaanir raheem – the first letter is “Ba”. Here the “Ba” can have two meanings – isti’aanah (seeking help) and Musaahabah (seeking closeness/companionship).

  1. “In” the name of Allah – implies seeking help from Allah
  2. “With” the name of Allah – implies wanting the closeness/companionship of Allah SWT

So just this one letter defines our relationship with our Lord – the one we seek help from, and the one whose closeness and company we absolutely need.

That’s how the Quran starts.

[Heard the concept in Tafsir Surah Fatiha by Asim Khan]

10 Everyday Sunnahs We Need to Bring Back

10everydaysunnahsFINAL

 

1. Saying Bismillah or Salam When Entering The House

The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said:

“If a person mentions the name of Allah upon entering his house or eating, Satan says, addressing his followers: ‘You will find nowhere to spend the night and no dinner.’ But if he enters without mentioning the Name of Allah, Satan says (to his followers); ‘You have found (a place) to spend the night in, and if he does not mention the Name of Allah at the time of eating, Satan says: ‘You have found (a place) to spend the night in as well as food.”‘ [Muslim]

2. The Right Side Rule

`A’isha relates that the Prophet (SAW) used to like to start with the right side when putting on his sandals, combing his hair, engaging in his ritual purifications, and in all of his activities.

When entering the house, wearing shoes or socks, putting on clothes and other such activities – the sunnah is to start from the right side. And when doing lowly or despicable acts like istinja’, removing clothes, entering the toilet etc – the sunnah is to use or start with the left limb.

3. Eating Less (One-third At Max)

Miqdam bin Madikarib said: “I heard the Messenger of Allah (SAW) say:

‘A human being fills no worse vessel than his stomach. It is sufficient for a human being to eat a few mouthfuls to keep his spine straight. But if he must (fill it), then one third of food, one third for drink and one third for air.’” [Ibn Majah]

4. Musafaha – Shaking Hands

It is sunnah to shake hands with when you meet someone of the same gender. It is one of those remarkable sunnah practices many of us don’t know about, or tend to forget. Science says that a simple touch can lower stress and release oxytocin – bringing about a feeling of trust, connection and other positive vibes. No wonder the Prophet (SAW) practiced this habit and thus left this valuable tradition for the Muslim ummah!

5. Sending Salawaat Upon The Prophet After The Adhan

It is reported that Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said:

“When you hear the Mu’adhdhin, repeat what he says, then invoke a blessing on me, for everyone who invokes a blessing on me will receive ten blessings from Allah.” [Reported by Muslim]

We should recite the durood after the adhaan ends.

6. Taking A Nap At Mid-day

The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “Take a nap, for the Shayateen do not take naps.” [At-Tabarani, Al-Sahihah, no. 2647]

A short afternoon nap, known as Qailulah, is a well-known Sunnah of our Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). Instead of oversleeping in the morning or napping in the late-afternoon, following this remarkable Sunnah of taking a nap at midday – a time when our bodies and minds just start to get exhausted – would ensure much more efficiency from us and help us avoid a grumpy day.

7. Using Miswak

Ibn Umar (Ra) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “Make a regular practice of the Miswak, for verily, it is healthy for the mouth and it is a Pleasure for the Creator (i.e. Allah is pleased with the Muslim who uses the Miswaak).” [Bukhari]

Let’s try to replace our toothbrushes with the miswak and reap the blessings of this highly recommended Sunnah!

8. Dhikr Before Sleeping

The Prophet (SAW) instructed his daughter Fatima and her husband Ali (may Allah be pleased with them) to say before sleeping: Subhanallah (33 times), Alhamdulillah (33 times), Allahu Akbar (34 times) [Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi]. Besides, we should make istighfar and recite ayatul Kursi and the recommended surahs, like Surah Mulk, before sleeping. The Prophet would hold his palms together, recite Surah Ikhlas, Falaq and Nas, then spit into his palms and wipe over his entire body as much as possible with his palms.

9. Duha Prayer

The Prophet (SAW) said, “In the morning, charity is due on every joint of the body of every one of you. Every utterance of Allah’s Glorification (saying Subhan Allah) is an act of charity, every utterance of His Praise (saying Al-hamdu lillah) is an act of charity, every utterance of declaration of His Greatness (saying Laa ilaaha illa Allah) is an act of charity, and every utterance of declaration of His Power (saying Allah Akbar); and enjoining M`aruf (good) is an act of charity, and forbidding Munkar (evil) is an act of charity, and two Rak`ats of Duha Prayers which one performs in the forenoon is equal to all this (in reward).” [Muslim]

It is two rakahs of supererogatory Sunnah prayer to be prayed in the morning, any time after the sun has risen but before noon.

10. Greeting Children With Salaam

We talk about the importance of spreading the salaam so often, yet disregard or overlook its value when it comes to children.

Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that he passed by some children and greeted them. Then he said: “Messenger of Allah (SAW) used to do the same.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Let’s start as many as we can right away. Life is short and, as we all know, every sunnah counts!

Dark Matter

You’re a pixelated reality
A handful of insanity
A trigger to some vanity
The unuttered profanity
That threatens inhumanity
An uncalled for calamity
That drills through my sanity
Falls before no immunity
And pulls stronger than gravity
Drenched in its naïvity
And merciless audacity
A rebel ‘gainst felicity
A display of monstrosity.
A people-less community.
The darkest part of this dark city.

Like dark matter
You shatter
My gravity.

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The quote on the bookmark says, “A thousand miles begins with a single step.”
What better place to start?

The Shift

And one day,
Something changed.
Something in the universe shifted.
As if a long forgotten veil had been lifted.
The winds seemed to shiver in awe
Of the new life she had been gifted.
No one else noticed.
No one had to know.
Perhaps it was the soft, ultrasonic laughter of the angels
At the mighty way their Lord answered a shabbily constructed dua
Of a slave drowning in sins.

The Perfect Piece Of Memory

My eleven year old hand frantically swishes the mouse around
As the pixelated face of Harry Potter bobs around the computer screen
Both of us trying to remember the next spell
Both of us stuck in the surrealness of our perfect worlds.
10 points for Gryffindor, announces my stereo soundboxes.
I pause the game to tell my sister that I’ve made it through the “tough level”
And save the moment in my head as a perfect memory.

A dark skinny boy dressed in a superman costume
Stands at the edge of my bed
As his red cape defies gravity
I explain to him what to say whenever anyone enters the room.
This is going to be the best party in my life, I think to myself
Not knowing that would get accepted as a prayer.
All these years down, superman never visits anymore.
I hear he’s doing quite well
Coping with studies and incurable disorders that make him weak to the bones.
I wish I had kept his cape when he left
But all I have is a perfect memory.

I stand in front of my front row bench
Waiting for the next teacher to come.
At the other side of the classroom a guy sharpens a pencil
And just when it is sharp enough
He decides that it never was a pencil
But a rocket that deserves to tour the length of the classroom
And before I know
I have a pencil sized rocket Slashing my right cheek
Just missing the eye.
Just a little cut, the teacher says.
And now every time I look into the mirror and notice the tiny scar that not even my mother knows about
I smile at the irony
Of how perfect the memory is.

I stand on the concrete floor of the school field
My large eyed and perfectly ponytailed friend calls me over
A ritual is about to take place.
On the count of three, five fists bump against each other
And the field echoes back our unflinching oath
“Best friends forever.”
Forever.
And now every time I tell someone that forever is the most delusional word
I crunch my forehead skin
In a failed attempt at blocking the perfect memory.

My first jab at Arabic poetry

(This is probably full of grammatical mistakes but…I got four sentences to rhyme, in a language I hardly know, lol)

هذه الغابة ليست على النار
ليس عل النجوم خمار
لم ترك الريح اثار
ولكن القلب يريد الفرار

Translation:
This forest isn’t on fire
There’s no veil over the stars
The wind hasn’t left traces
Yet the heart wants to flee.

Dhikr

Dhikr

5 Sunnah Habits That Boost Our Productivity

Originally posted on ibana.

One of the best things about taking up Islam as a complete lifestyle is seeing its blessings reap in literally every sphere of our lives. The actions directed by Allah and His Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) are meant to be seeds that we sow for Akhirah, but their fruits are found sprouting right away in this life too. Every time we choose to follow the words and actions of our beloved Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) with the sole aim to achieve the pleasure of Allah SWT, Allah in His infinite mercy makes those very actions a means of enhancing our worldly lives as well, and boosting us physically, mentally and spiritually. Now that’s what you call getting the best of both worlds!

So when we think of leading productive lives, the first place where we should look for direction and inspiration is the Sunnah of our Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). We will never find a human being whose life is as productive and filled with barakah as the life of our Prophet was. So before reading tons of articles and watching hours of videos about maximizing productivity, let’s start off with the best possible practices – practices taken from the life of our Prophet himself (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), and we will soon sense the barakah surging in our lives, in sha Allah!

  1. Staying Up After Fajr 

    Muslim narrated from Jaabir ibn Samurah that when the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) had prayed Fajr, he would sit in his prayer place until the sun had risen properly.How often do we find ourselves settling back into bed right after we have finished fajr salah – as if it is some kind of chore that disrupted our precious sleep? Not only does this habit kill the possibility of a highly productive morning (and in consequence, a highly productive day), but it prevents us from earning immense rewards and following a sunnah of the Prophet. The barakah of the early morning time is as amazing as it gets. Sometimes it seems outright unnatural and bizarre to me how much we can get done in just a few minutes in the early morning period, in contrast to even hours during any other time of the day.

    “The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: ‘O Allah, bless my Ummah in the mornings.’ [Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah]

     

  2. Mid-day Nap 

    The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “Take a nap, for the Shayateen do not take naps.” [At-Tabarani, Al-Sahihah, no. 2647]A short afternoon nap, known as Qailulah, is a well known sunnah of our Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). It is one of the best ways to boost our bodies and rejuvenate our senses amid the tiresome work or studies cluttering our day. The timing of this nap prescribed in the sunnah is remarkable. Mid-day is the time of the day when we just start feeling exhausted (given that we started the day early) and just can’t seem to focus, no matter how interesting the work at hand is.

  3. Eating Less
    Miqdam bin Madikarib said: “I heard the Messenger of Allah say:

    ‘A human being fills no vessel worse than his stomach. It is sufficient for a human being to eat a few mouthfuls to keep his spine straight. But if he must (fill it), then one third for food, one third for drink and one third for air.’” [Ibn Majah]When we take too much food or eat to our fill, the effect it has on the body leads to a feeling of laziness, sluggishness, lethargy and an overall drop in productivity. This priceless piece of advice of our Prophet can entirely change our everyday activity graph and ensure maximum efficiency out of us. So instead of the sudden drops in productivity for long periods after every meal, we’ll find ourselves giving our best at all times of the day – just by lowering the amount of food we take.

  4. Avoiding Speech After ‘Isha And Sleeping Early 

    The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) used to dislike speaking after ‘isha prayer (narrated by Bukhari, Muslim). The scholars derive the reason for it to be that it might lead people to stay up late at night, and consequently miss qiyam al-layl or fajr prayer due to sleep. Now this is an essential part of the cycle: we cannot expect to wake up early and remain wide awake through the morning if we stay up for hours into the night. Hence, this habit of calling it a day once we’re done with ‘isha prayer is key to maintaining the balance. Moreover, staying up beyond our body can take and exhausting ourselves can do more harm than good – affecting our productivity levels for the entire next day or several days in turn.

  5. Night Prayer
    The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) has said: “Keep up qiyam al-layl. It was the way of the virtuous who came before you, it draws you nearer to your Lord, atones for your sins, forbids you from evil and protects the body from sickness.” (Tirmidhi)

    If you’ve ever prayed qiyam al Layl or the tahajjud prayer, you’ll know the difference it makes to our lives for a considerable amount of time following it. It clears our mind of grief and negativity, makes you feel amazingly closer to Allah and fully dependent on Him, strengthens your confidence (since trust in Allah is the best source of confidence) and in all – it gives you the perfect spiritual boost. No wonder our Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) placed such great emphasis on qiyam al-Layl and encouraged us so much to establish it. Imagine repeating this highly effective practice every single night: imagine how awesome every single day would go!

 

Let’s take a typical day from our lives, and compare it with a day on which we practice each of these habits. The gap in between the two gives us the new goal to achieve. Let’s turn that gap into a motivation to establishing all of these amazing sunnahs in our lives. Let’s keep in mind, every sunnah counts!

 

A Three-fold Strategy To Survive Loneliness And Other Youth Issues

Originally posted on ibana.

Of the many struggles that the practicing Muslim youth face on a personal level, one of the most common yet untalked of is the battle against loneliness and frustration without falling into any of the fitnah and Haram that surround them. This is not just about fighting desires and urges, that’s a whole different discussion; this is more about the emotional turmoil and emptiness that too many young people have to face, silently wanting the luxury of someone to talk to and lighten the burden upon, when life seems to be moving a bit too fast. The most common advice everyone loves to throw at them is the getting-married-early scheme. While that is probably the best solution for most of these problems, in most cases it is not a feasible option and in many families and societies getting married at 18 (that too to someone with a matching level of “practicing the religion”) is but a utopian dream.

Hence comes in the idea of alternative strategies, which would not only help one go through the apparent “emptiness” or sidetrack one away from frustration, depression etc. but at the same time will also help them make the best use of the blessed time that youth is. Most people find their own way of doing this, or chalk out their own fitna-proof strategy to make it through, while for many, it is more difficult to figure out a way, and more hopelessness entails. Here is a three-fold strategy etched out from my personal experience, which I found extremely useful, and hope will help others too.

1. Taking Short and Long term challenges

Setting up practical, feasible goals and working towards them is one of the best ways to keep your mind off things that make you hopeless or frustrated. Take out some time to chart out some good actions you’ve always wished to do but never got started on. These could be small things like “Send gifts to 10 friends/relatives” to larger plans like “Memorize 3 Juz/Para of the Quran in the next 12 months” or “Finish reading a book of Seerah in the next 6 months”. If you haven’t already started learning Arabic, now would be the perfect time to take on that challenge! Try to put constraining time limits on the challenges so that there is always a motive to not slack off midway.

The Benefits:

  •  Always having an objective to work upon and look forward to
  •  Constant engagement in productive work
  •  Planned utilization of time
  •  Rewards for every good deed!


2. Increasing Nafl ‘Ibadah

On a daily basis, engaging in more frequent acts of ‘Ibadah can do wonders to our heart, mind and body. Observing the Sunnah fasts on Mondays and Thursdays, praying the nawafil prayers, Duha prayer in the morning, reciting more Quran in the day and during night, memorizing Ayahs everyday – simple steps like these can lead to a blissful sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. Trying to pray regular Tahajjud prayer also falls under this category and should serve as a life (and afterlife) changing practice.

The Benefits:

  •  The happiness of trying to please Allah SWT
  •  A sense of fulfillment
  •  Constant engagement in productive work
  •  Barakah in time and activities
  •  Increase of Iman
  •  Rewards for every good deed


3. Righteous friends, righteous friends, righteous friends

This is one of the basic needs of any striving Muslim, especially one struggling to practice the Deen. In fact, even if you think you are in a somewhat well off condition spiritually, and are doing a good job at being a Muslim but don’t have righteous friends around you, you have no idea what you are missing out on. Pious friends are like the rear wheels that constantly keep you in check, consciously or unconsciously, and without even saying anything can encourage you towards better deeds and a more controlled life. Most importantly, these are the people you can trust your problems with and can always rely on for sincere advice based on Allah’s commands, because these relationships are built to please Allah SWT.

While too many young people turn to opposite-gender friendships or boyfriends/girlfriends to fill the void of loneliness and to feel lighter amidst depression and anxiety, righteous friends are the perfect alternative for practicing Muslims. Sisters or brothers in faith are the rare breed you can find to open up to and expect sincere, meaningful and unconditional support from.

When you feel like giving up because it’s too hard and the fitna around you is too hard to resist, there can be no bigger blessing than having people who can relate to your situation and keep pushing you forward. Do everything you can to get friends like this, if you don’t already have them. Make as much du’a as you can, because a blessing like this just cannot be missed.

The Benefits:

  •  Source of encouragement in hard times
  •  Competitors towards good
  •  Source of sincere, halal advice
  •  Alternative for harmful or haram friendships
  •  Potential cause of earning the Shade of Allah on the Day of Judgement [1]

These are some basic strategies to start with. Youth is one of the biggest blessings in the lifetime of a human being, and a time when no scope of earning virtues and accomplishing big things for the sake of Allah should be missed out at any cost. When we are questioned what we did with our youth [2], our petty problems will not be able to stand as excuses. So instead of being a generation that constantly whines about not being able to get married early, let’s be the generation that uses that very opportunity to become awesome Muslims.

Footnotes:

[1] Abu Huraira reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “There are seven persons whom Allah will shade on a Day when there is no shade but His. They are a just ruler, a young person who grew up in the worship of Allah, a person whose heart is attached to the mosques, two persons who love each other who meet and depart from each other for the sake of Allah, a man whom a beautiful woman of high status seduces but he rejects her by saying I fear Allah, a person who spends in charity and conceals it such that his right hand does not know what his left hand has given, and a person who remembered Allah in private and he wept.”
[Sahih Bukhari 629, Sahih Muslim 1031]

[2] It was narrated from Ibn Mas’ood (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The son of Adam will not be dismissed from before his Lord on the Day of Resurrection until he has been questioned about five things: his life and how he spent it, his youth and how he used it, his wealth and how he earned it and how he disposed of it, and how he acted upon what he acquired of knowledge.”
[Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 2422; classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi, 1969]

Stardust

But you,
You are the storm on a calm sunny day
The scarcely traversed bend in the way
All the constellations at the end of a starless day
The wave that touches every sand grain as it crashes at the bay
The bright ring of light around a full moon that pushes the rest of the sky away
The smell of hay
And burning clay
A wordless day
A rainless May
A black-less gray
The word ‘okay’
A bottled up ray
A wild display
Of every thing I fear and every thing I crave.

And you,
Are the brightest speck of stardust in the entire Milky Way.

Al-Albaani on True Love

Shaikh al-Albaani

Questioner: Someone who loves a person for the sake of Allaah, must he say, “I love you for the sake of Allaah,” to him?

Al-Albaani: Yes, but loving [someone] for the sake of Allaah has a huge price, only very few people pay it. Do you know what the price [to be paid] for loving someone for Allaah’s sake is? Do any of you know the price?

Let whoever knows give us the answer.

Someone present: Allaah’s Messenger ﷺ said, “There are seven whom Allaah will shade with His shade on the day when there will be no shade except His …” one of the categories mentioned are two men who love each other for Allaah’s sake, who get together for that reason and part for it too.

Al-Albaani: This is correct in and of itself but it is not the answer to the question, it’s an approximate definition of loving…

View original post 472 more words

Can I Buy You Some Happiness?

I want to buy some happiness
Wrap it in paper and tape
Put it at your doorstep
And then ring your door bell.

And then I want to run away
With clumsy footsteps on the stairs
Some muddy boot marks here and there
So you can follow along and yell.

But I’ll be gone before you see
The smirk across my sunburnt face
The cape flying behind my dress
The explosion inside my heart.

But it won’t matter anymore
‘Cause you’ll be holding happiness
Wrapped inside my shiny mess
And never again be torn apart.

Retaining Enthusiasm In Du’a

It’s very easy to lose eagerness and enthusiasm in making du’a. It’s probably one of the most common spiritual problems for us. Once we lose the connection, we forget how it feels, and how much it helps, to pour out all of our problems to Allah. I may spend all morning whining to everyone about how many lemons life is throwing at me, but when I stand for dhuhr salah, I may not spend even a few seconds to ask Allah to help me through those problems. I may nag a friend at 3 AM about my depressions, but maybe I won’t even think about getting up and praying 2 rakats of tahajjud salah and crying in sajdah to Allah. I may clutter up my friends’ inboxes with a hundred issues, but when it comes to dua – I’ll go blank. “There’s nothing to make dua about.” “Make du’a about studies and work? Isn’t that kinda inappropriate?” “Everything will be fine by itself soon.” 

We go through 17 rakats of just fard salah in a day – that’s 34 sajdahs. And in how many of these sajdahs do we make sincere dua to Allah? Some days the answer is ‘zero’. Those are the days we’re failing at life.

Yes Allah takes the best care of us whether we ask Him or not, but being able to ask Him is in and of itself a HUGE blessing, a means of mercy. When we think we don’t need that blessing, we have fallen way too low.

Anyhow, I listed down a few points for myself to maintain the vigor in making du’a:

1) Make dua for others – for everyone that crosses your mind. The cousin you lost contact with; the childhood bestie you miss; the puller of the ricksha you rode today… make dua for their guidance, health etc. When you ask Allah to bestow some good upon someone, the angels pray “Ameen, and for you as well.”
So even if you can’t make dua for yourself, make the angels do it. 😀

2) Mentally mark down every single problem you mentioned to any human being throughout the day. Then make sure that you spill out that complain/query to Allah as well.

3) MAKE DUA IN SAJDAH. The Prophet (sm.) said we’re the closest to Allah when we are in sajdah, hence should make lots of dua at that time. (Yes you can say your duas in your own language, after you’ve said “Subhana rabbial a’la”. Google it/check islamqa if you’re not convinced.)

4) Whenever you’re alone, whatever you’re doing/not doing – on the road, in a boring class, while waiting for a video to load, before sleeping – make it a point to make du’a. About anything and everything. Voila! No more wasted time!

More later in sha Allah.
Just du’a it!

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