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.

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!

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]

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!

When Your Hands Are Tied Up

Imagine earning money, but not being able to give away a single penny.
Imagine memorising breathtakingly long and amazing surahs of the Quran, but not being able to recite them in your Salah.
Imagine learning things, gaining ilm, but not being able to teach them to a single soul.
Imagine knowing about the immense virtues of a good deed but not being able to get yourself to do it.
Imagine having a pen, but not being able to write.

Imagine your hands being tied up. Tied up in the strongest of loops. By the Lord of the Worlds Himself.

Maybe you sinned too much.
Maybe you sinned too much AND didn’t repent.
Maybe you wasted away your blessings.
Maybe you ignored the light inside of you and outside of you and all around you and thus, passively chose a path of darkness.
And by giving so much leeway to your Nafs, you sealed off your own door to good deeds.
You shut your eyes, only to open them and find your heart shut as well.

“Whomever Allah guides,  none can misguide him. And whomever Allah misguides, none can guide him.”  None.

18 Fun Things To Do When You’re Alone And Bored

  1. Record speeches in your own voice and listen to them.

  2. Write down/sketch out a dream you
    remember.

    giphy.com

  3. Draw a stick figure comic strip. Or write poetry. Just get your creative juices out.

  4. Do a DIY decor for your wall.

    http://www.makinghomebase.com/temporary-wall-treatments

  5. Read a book out loud in mimicked voices. (Record if you’re bold enough.)

    owl_reading_book
     

    Or you could try toggling the reading speed dramatically, like an audio record gone crazy.

  6. Clean your room/desk/shelf. Seriously, it’s fun.

    edd3ae92f82cc6d6914d0daa7eb1636d

  7. Doodle away your thoughts on a paper and call it a masterpiece.

    Like this.
    aead711fe5008da5826ff504bab30334

     Or this.
     question-doodles

  8. Cook/bake something!

    Hassle-back Potatoes http://aseasyasapplepie.com/baked-hasselback-potatoes/

  9. Stuff cookies, chocolates, fruits and random things together to make your own “Chef’s special dessert”.


    Maybe you’ll finally invent a way to eat bananas!

  10. Listen to insightful audio lectures.

    chm-audiobooks
    Nothing like just sitting back and indulging.

  11. Fill up a bottle with oil, water and some color. Shake it and watch the magic.

    9087lava
    A little childish is okay, right?

  12. Do work-outs!

    Workout
    There’s nothing  like a bit of flexing.

  13. Read the Quran or play it on loop.


    You might even get chunks memorized before long.

  14. Make lists. Or lists of lists. Or lists of lists of lists!

    Random to-do lists.

    Or a bucket list.
    bucketlist-radar

  15. Make/find something nice and wrap it up with all your creativity to gift someone you love.

     342105a89beb990619c68bf912ee5f59 http://www.buzzfeed.com/alannaokun/24-cute-and-incredibly-useful-gift-wrap-diys/#.wnx5zy7dJ

  16. Write inspirational words in your most fabulous handwriting on pieces of paper. Stick them on your table/wall/headboard/ceiling.

    OR roll them up like royal letters and gift them to a friend/sibling/cousin. Small things can mean a lot sometimes.

  17. Have a reading/listening/watching session on a history/science topic you don’t know very well.  

  18. If all else fails…..Read a book  Sleep Build a super awesome blanket fort!

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/donnad/5-steps-to-building-your-own-epic-blanket-fort#.ueL3Y0GZQ

Ibn Umar and the Stubborn Camel

Once Umar (radiyallahu ‘anhu) and his son Abdullah ibn Umar (radiyallahu ‘anhu) were riding with the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). Abdullah had a camel (owned by his father) that was naturally very fast, and it kept crossing the camel of the Prophet and going beyond it, no matter how much Abdullah tried to hold it back.

At one point, Umar (ra) got really mad at him and said, “Ya Abdullah! No one should go in front of the Prophet! Move your camel!” Abdullah kept struggling with his camel and Rasulullah (Sm.) could see that Abdullah was hurt, because his father had put him down in front of the Prophet (Sm).

So all of a sudden Rasulullah (Sm) stopped, went to Umar (who owned the camel his son was riding) and said, “Sell it to me.” Umar (ra) tried to give it to him as a gift but Rasulullah (Sm) insisted and paid for the camel and bought it. 

Then the Prophet (Sm) took the camel, gave it to Abdullah and told him, “This is for you, Abdullah. Do as you wish with it.” (Meaning he was giving him permission to go infront of him.)

[Reference: Hadith is in Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 47, Hadith no. 781]

This story is way too beautiful, Subhanallah! The love and care of the Prophet (Sm) for Ibn Umar just makes me smile in awe!

15 Reasons Why All Of Us Should Have A Habit Of Memorizing The Quran

Hifdh or memorization of the Quran, to most of us, is a fairly distant dream that we simply wish to achieve at some far-off point in our lives; something we consider to be possible only for kids sent to special hifdh schools or madrasahs which detach them from the rest of the world and thus enable them to do this impossible-for-common-folk, utterly enormous feat. An unfortunately large number of Muslims also happen to believe that memorizing the Quran is an all-or-nothing venture: you either memorize the whole Quran and become a Hafidh or you remain satisfied with the few small surahs from “Ampara” i.e Juz ‘Amma that you learned as a kid. Thanks to such saddening misconceptions, most of us spend our entire lives missing out on some epic advantages, benefits and rewards that no other form of ‘Ibadah offer.

But here’s the thing: the Quran is THE most significant book in human (and non-human) history. Most of us happen to read it regularly too. But that’s where we decide to stop. We decide for ourselves how much our capacities will allow us, without even testing it, whereas Allah SWT Himself tells us “Indeed, We have made the Qur’an easy to remember. Is there any who will remember?” [Surah Qamar] four times in the same Surah! By considering memorization to be an impossible or over-the-top task, we are not just underestimating the promise of Allah that He has made it easy for us, but we are at the same time undervaluing our amazing faculty of grasping any kind of information and storing it in a way no other form of life on earth can do! Starting from primary school to the end of university, the amount of “memorization” we do is outright colossal and is multiple folds in quantity compared to the comprise book that the Quran is. To put it plainly, in context of an average high school student’s everyday studies, memorizing an ayah a day, or a few ayahs a week, is anything but impossible.

The best part of Hifdh perhaps is the way it impacts our lives, not to mention our Afterlives. Its benefits vary from person to person. But from a general point of view, I listed down a few of them that have been influencing and motivating me greatly at a personal level.

15. Builds Self-confidence

Nothing acts as a confidence boost like doing something you formerly thought you couldn’t.

14. Way To A Healthier And More Active Brain

Check out the article In Praise of Memorization: 10 Proven Brain Benefits for some science-backed motivation!

13. Prevents Swearing, Cursing, And Abusive Language

We have all heard that the Quran is a remedy for the heart. One of the best implications of this is seen in the way memorizing the words of Allah SWT can change the way a person speaks and interacts – which is a direct manifestation of the condition of one’s heart.

12. Turns A Bad Day Around

Imagine you’re having an awful day. There’s nothing that you’re getting done. It feels like a complete waste of all the hours and the regret of having wasted yet another day you’d been blessed with is only making it worse.

But then you open up the Quran and read an ayah a few times. In a matter of minutes, you imprint on your mind a part of the final Divine Revelation sent upon mankind right from the highest skies by Allah SWT. Those few minutes have made you a holder of something the vast majority of the world doesn’t have, and have possibly encertained you a higher level of Paradise in Sha Allah.
I bet your day is better now!

11. An Impeccable Sense Of Achievement

This is similar to the last point, but think of it in a broader sense: even if you aren’t doing too good in life from a materialistic point of view,  just knowing that you have memorized parts of the Quran i.e the words of Allah SWT can make you feel more accomplished, which in turn would boost other aspects of your life.

10. Carrying A Huge Collection Of Du’as All The Time

Ever read a Du’a and felt absolutely overwhelmed by its beauty, but then didn’t feel motivated enough to memorize it? Or maybe you did memorize it but then it slowly disappeared in the bottomless pit of your busy mind. Memorizing the Quran essentially means memorizing loads of Du’as along the way; du’as that are so awesome that Allah SWT preserved them in His book for all generations to come. And since we are supposed to revise the ayaat and surahs that we memorize again and again to retain them in our hearts for the long run, the du’as are also preserved for good, bi idhnillah.

Everytime you need one – in the middle of a hardship or just in the calm of the night before falling asleep – you can pull out any of those beautiful Du’as from the abyss of all the ayahs Allah blessed you to memorize.

9. Helps In Da’wah

As Muslims, we get asked a lot of questions regularly – by non-Muslims as well as other Muslims. “What does the Quran say about that?” “I’ve never read it, is it in the Quran?” “Do you have proof of this?” “Could you quote something nice from your Book?” A lot of these times, we know that it’s there but can’t quite remember it, or don’t know how exactly to answer. We’re left biting on our nails thinking – Only if I could remember that verse!

Having even a bit of the Quran memorized comes to a HUGE help in these moments, and other moments too – using a rare Da’wah opportunity, correcting a misconception among friends or relatives, consoling a friend, or reminding someone of all the fun awaiting us in Jannah, in sha Allah.

8. De-focusing From Anxiety And Negative Thoughts 

Amidst all the clamor and rush of the hectic life that the 21st century offers, just a few moments spent with the Quran trying to internalize its words is one of the best ways to take our mind off all the negative thoughts, frustrations and anxieties that instinctively seep into us every day. Even if you don’t want to get those worries off of your mind, the concentration that memorization demands will compel you to switch all of it off at least for a while. We all need that, don’t we? And that is part of the endless Rahmah (Mercy) Allah SWT has gifted us through His Book.

“O humanity! There has come to you a direction from your Lord and a cure for all [the ills] in men’s hearts – and for those who believe, a Guidance and a Mercy” [Quran 10:57]

7. Relating To Lectures And Talks

There are few things that give me as much delight as hearing a Sheikh/scholar quote something in a Khutba or lecture and being able to instantly recall it. That “Yes, I know that ayah!” moments is just completely worth it.

6. An Uncomparable Adventure

Hifdh is, beyond any of these things, an unparalleled and extremely intriguing journey. It’s like starting an adventure through a whole different world we’d always been too afraid to enter. It takes us through evergreen forests of memories and bottomless waters of wisdom, leaving us amazed at the pearls we collect along the way. Ever since I started this practice, it has left some of the most profound imprints in my mind – with certain ayahs giving me a déjà vu every time I recite it. Believe it or not, sometimes I even catch smells and feelings while memorizing an ayah, only to re-experience them way later while reciting the same ayah!

5. Be With The Noble Angels

Narrated from ‘Aa’ishah that the Prophet (SAW) said: “The one who recites the Qur’an and learns it by heart, will be with the noble righteous scribes (in Heaven) and the one who exerts himself to learn the Qur’an by heart and recites it with great difficulty, will have a double reward.” [Sahih Bukhari, 4937]

4. Brings Concentration In Salah

Instead of reciting the short surahs that you’ve been reciting in salah over and over again for years, making a change and reciting ayahs that are comparatively newer to your memory ensures a huge shift in your concentration level. It becomes much easier to ignore all distractions when you are focused on trying to remember the wording of the ayaat perfectly instead of following second nature, even more so if you know the meanings.

3. Enhances One’s Relationship With Allah SWT

The core purpose of sending down such an immensely weighty Book upon mankind – a book that even mountains wouldn’t be able to bear had it been sent upon them – is to connect us to Allah SWT and henceforth guide us. He decided to speak to us puny humans through this Book. Hence, one is bound to feel connected to Allah when His words are imprinted onto one’s heart. It becomes easier to follow the commands, easier to remember Him when His ayahs are cosily settled in the crevices of our forgetful hearts.

2. The Best Way To Repay Our Parents

Ever thought of all the things your parents did for you starting from even before your birth, and how we can never repay it no matter how much we do? Wouldn’t this be a good way to at least try? Imagine your parents  on the Day of Judgement – surprised by the way they are being honored – looking at you with amusement and delight; saying “I’m so proud of you” the way you had waited all your life to hear.

1. A Step Higher With Every Ayah

Al-Tirmidhi (2914) and Abu Dawood (1464) narrated from ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Amr that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “It will be said to the companion of the Qur’an: Recite and rise in status, recite as you used to recite in the world, for your status will be at the last verse that you recite.”

So what’s stopping you now?

Memorizer of the Quran

The Best Gift Of The Year – A Friend For The Sake Of Allah

The Prophet (saw) said: “Among Allah’s servants are people who are neither prophets nor martyrs, but whom the prophets and martyrs will deem fortunate because of their high status with Allah.” The companions asked, “O Messenger of Allah! Inform us of who they are.” The Prophet (saw) told them that “they are people who loved each other for Allah’s sake, even without being related to one another or being tied to one another by the exchange of wealth.”

Sometimes in life you meet people who make you rethink your boundaries. Then they dare you to cross them. And then you find yourself standing somewhere you had only vaguely imagined yourself in. You find yourself striving towards the incredible future you once feared would never come. But now you don’t doubt the coming of that future anymore. Because Allah blessed you enough to meet people like that. People who give you hope, when all you see is darkness.

This year, Allah blessed me with one of those people. One of those people I have been praying for, for as long as I can remember. One of those people I have been looking for everywhere I went. For days. For months. Maybe even years. Just like any other striving Muslim, I too craved friends-for-the-sake-of-Allah. Yes there were already people in my life who encouraged me to be more practicing, who instilled a sense of Taqwa in me, who I loved for the sake of Allah too. Alhamdulillah for them. But as is human nature, I wanted more. I wanted beyond blood relations; I wanted friendships *just* for the sake of Allah SWT. Who would want to miss out on being under the shade of the Throne of Allah on the most scorching of days?

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]

After what seemed like an eternity of waiting, when the much yearned-for friend(s) did not pop up in my life, I began to despair. Without realizing the simple fact that some things are too precious and aren’t given to one instantly, I despaired. And just when I was prepared to give up, Allah answered my prayer. Surely Allah is the best Listener.

And indeed, when Allah gives, He gives us the best, and He gives without limits.

Most importantly, He chooses the best time. I wouldn’t have realized this if not for this experience. Just when I thought wearing the niqab was too much for me, Allah sent someone who showed me otherwise. Just when I was about to give up on memorizing the Quran, Allah sent someone to push me forward and make me continue. Just when I lowered my priority on learning Arabic and earning more ‘ilm (Islamic knowledge), Allah sent someone who made me reprioritize. I can’t think of a more perfect example of “perfect timing” in my life!

Looking back at the year, there were hundreds of things and thousands of moments that made me happy. There were moments when I literally rolled off for laughing. There were words of appreciation from peers and grades that pleased my parents. But nothing measured to the happiness of finding a friend who takes me closer to Allah. No good results, no gifts, no gadgets. Nothing compares to the blessing of having a new competitor-in-good.

One of my favorite parts of the Quran is the following;

83:22
Indeed, the righteous will be in pleasure.

83:23

On adorned couches, observing.

83:24

You will recognize in their faces the radiance of pleasure.

83:25

They will be given to drink [pure] wine [which was] sealed.
83:26

The last of it is Musk. So for this let the competitors compete.

[Surah Mutaffifin, 83 : 22-26]

It is quite hard to bring out the best in you when you don’t have anyone to compete with. And what better competition is there than the competition for Jannah?

If you lack righteous company in life, I urge you to look for it. Hunt for friendships like this. Go as far as you need to, but make sure you have righteous company. Whatever your condition is, even if you are doing incredible amounts of good deeds and serving the Deen to your best level and what not, do remember that it is VERY difficult to make it far alone. There are just too many blessings (barakah) in good company. The Prophet (SAW) himself was not alone when he left his homeland for the sake of Allah. When the Muhajirs of Makkah reached Madinah after emigrating, one of the first things Rasulullah (SAW) did was to create a bond of brotherhood between each Muhajir and an Ansar (Muslim of Madinah). The implications of this was beyond just economic help or societal bondage. There were spiritual implications too.

Let each of us try to get such spiritual implications in our lives too, by means of good company and love for the sake of Allah. After all, Shaytan attacks a lonely person more easily. The more righteous people you have around you, the stronger your defense is. How can we afford to miss out on all the barakah righteous company can bring to our life?

 If you can’t find anyone, make dua to Allah. Cry out your heart to Allah. I, for one, have experienced how incredible the implications of dua can be. It is bound to bring something good. Even when it seems impossible.

 

In Different Shoes

Have you ever walked through a street while imagining yourself to be someone else? Looking at everything, the posters and the billboards and the cars and the people, from someone else’s eyes – a random foreigner, or maybe a superstar that you like? I do it sometimes. I pretend I’m this guy from a complete different country who doesn’t know the language and is trying to make sense out of all the strangeness going on in the streets of this new weird city. And trust me, a lot of strangeness goes on in the streets of my city.

Sometimes I’m a sports person, sometimes I’m a famous sheikh, sometimes I’m Mark Zuckerberg and sometimes I’m Bill gates. And sometimes, I jump straight back in time and land in the shoes of some famous philosopher, warrior or – more often than not – a Sahabi (companion of our Prophet (SAW)). And that’s when it gets really weird. Weird as in impossible to take in. And I have to instantly switch back to my 21st century self.

I’m pretty sure that if any of the super-awesome people we remember to this day as Sahabis, may Allah be pleased with them all, had the chance to live for a while in this time and moment, they would have been, to the n-th degree and mostly in a negative sense, mind blown. And not just because of climate change.

There are so many things that they would disapprove of that trying to make a list out of those is sheer stupidity. Let’s assume they would ignore the streets or the outwardly conditions of our life and have a glance at us as persons. What would they think of the way we live? From the way we talk to our parents to the things we look at, our lives are hardly worthy of the approval of the Prophets (AS) or the Salaf. Would our beloved Prophet (SAW) approve of the way we talk to each other, or most of the things we watch on tv, the videos we watch on Youtube, the facebook statuses and photos we ‘like’, even the ones we consider “not so bad”? It’s not really a matter of Halal and Haram, it’s more of just an average sense of conscience. We are so used to taking indecency for granted that we hardly stop and consider if it might cost us our afterlife.

I heard someone say just the other day that if a person living at the time of the Prophet (SAW) were to enter the house of a well-to-do person in today’s world, they might easily mistake it for Jannah. A wide range of food on the table. Several flavors of juices and soft drinks in the fridge. Paid people serving those foods and drinks (in many countries and cultures). High, comfortable sofas. Carpets. Cushions. Does that sound familiar?

And then if they turned and looked at the conditions of our hearts – our spirituality I mean – let’s just say that it would be a huge shame for us. I won’t talk about how ungrateful attitudes most of us have despite living in such “heavenly” conditions. But the stone-like conditions our hearts have turned to is a tragedy. Stone-hearted people on feather-soft sofas, sipping at cold drinks and wasting hours and hours of their lives watching utter useless stuff on tv and listening to pointless music. How can we be so stupid that we deliberately try to escape the things that take us closer to Allah but don’t give a second thought when doing something that has no benefit in this life or the next? Maybe the reason our hearts have turned so hard is that we give more attention on increasing the reading on our “I’m Cooler” meter than to increase the score on the actual scoreboard that matters. Or maybe it’s the other way round. It is more of a cycle I guess: hardened heart – less effort to please Allah – even harder heart and so on. Allah says in the Quran:

Has the time not come for those who have believed that their hearts should become humbly submissive at the remembrance of Allah and what has come down of the truth? And let them not be like those who were given the Scripture before, and a long period passed over them, so their hearts hardened; and many of them are defiantly disobedient.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         __ Surah Hadid, Ayah 16

This gives us the entire reason, which also happens to be the remedy, of the problem: our connection to Allah’s book. Maybe if we took more time to read and appreciate the Quran, we would realize how futile most of our activities are and pay more attention to doing more meaningful stuff. Maybe we’d jump out of our comfort zone and try to make our lives worthful by working more for our Akhirah. But wait, isn’t that exactly what we try to avoid? What? Get serious about life? No, thank you. I’ve got more important stuff to do.

Trust me I used to be like that (in fact still am to some extent). But once I connected myself a little to the Quran and tried cutting off my hours on tv, music and other random stuff, I actually felt better. I realized that it wasn’t a myth after all. The Quran does more than just to add to your scales. It actually, seriously makes you feel better. And believe it or not, cutting off/reducing time spent on entertainment also does something. It makes you feel a different kind of good, ironical as it is.

Back to where I started, I think it actually is a cool thing to pretend to be in the shoes of a Sahabi. I really should try it more often. And instead of running away, I should try to stay in those shoes until it turns me to a better person. After all, if any of them really had to be in our place, would they think of transporting to a different time because the world was too messed up? Or would they be their own awesome selves despite the surroundings and rather try to transport everyone around them to a better condition?

Since I was talking about hard hearts, here’s a talk I really enjoyed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2ScGh-__No

 

Ramadan may be months away, but Winter is right here!

It’s a common tendency of many Muslims to wait until Ramadan to bring spiritual changes in their life, or to start a new practice in order to please Allah. And Ramadan in fact is an incredible opportunity to take our spirituality to another level. But is it the only opportunity? Of course not. It sure is a good time to start anything good, but the best time, is right now – whichever month and whichever season may it be. And the right now for us, is winter. Yes, the time of the year when making wudu almost turns to a jihad, and waking up for Fajr and getting out of the blanket gets really hard. But the positive sides of the season, for a believer, beat those by a long way. It was reported by al-Haythami in ‘Majma’ az-Zawa’id’ (3/203) with a hasan chain that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Winter is the best season for the believer. Its nights are long for him to pray in, and its days are short for him to fast in.” For those of us who consider Qiyam al-Layl and performing Tahajjud prayers a distant dream, this winter could be the best opportunity to at least try. Image May Allah make us of His blessed slaves who pray regular Tahajjud prayers. It is related that ‘Ubayd bin ‘Umair used to say when winter came, “O people of the Qur’an! The nights are long for you to recite so recite! The days are short for your fast so fast!” The longer night times and evenings are also great for more recital and memorization of the Quran. Imam Tirmidhi relates that the Prophet, blessings and peace upon him, said, “Fasting in the winter is the cold spoils.”  The meaning of it being the “cold spoils” is that it is like the spoils of battle taken without conflict, fatigue, or difficulty. Not only are the days really short, but we also feel very less hunger and thirst during these days. What could be a better time to please Allah through some Nafl fasts? ( See more at: http://www.newislamicdirections.com/nid/notes/the_virtues_of_winter#sthash.GMDVCR3g.dpuf ) Moreover, let’s not overlook this great chance of giving charity – through money and clothes – as this is the time when the poor are most in need. Just an old sweater of ours could mean the world to someone shivering out in the open. And the rewards that come are beyond any amount of money. So we have the following things that winter offers with exclusive ease:

  • Praying at night (Qiyam al-Layl and Tahajjud)
  • More time for Quran
  • Fasting with minimal difficulty/extreme ease
  • Making more charity by means of money and/or warm clothes

As for the difficulty in doing wudu due to the cold, the following Hadith should be enough as a source of comfort: It is related in Sahih Muslim, among the narrations of Abu Hurayra, may Allah be pleased with him, on the authority of the Prophet, peace and blessings upon him, that he said: “Shall I not direct you to something with which Allah will efface your sins and raise your ranks?” They responded, “Certainly O Messenger of Allah!” He said, “Performing an expansive ablution during difficult times; taking many steps to reach the mosque; and remaining in the mosque for the next prayer –doing so a form of guard duty.”  Image

It’s Now Or Never

Two more years. Two more years of devouring painful loads of mostly-useless knowledge, of draining my precious time following a deeply-flawed system and trying to please teachers for grades that would never really matter. Two more years of high school.

Two years may not sound like much to many people, but from where I stand, it is like a long – freakishly long – tunnel that seems almost endless. But whatever is on the other side seems too damn attractive right now. The other side has things I’ve been yearning for too long, things I crave like a diabetic craving for sugar despite knowing about its cons. The other side, has life.

“Just two more years, and then you’ll be able to do all that you dream of doing,” says the delusional optimist in me, hoping that the end of school will bring with it opportunities to use my time the way I want to; opportunities to do something for Allah’s Deen, to learn all I want from the depths of Islam and share that with others, to become the dynamic Muslim that I long to become. It gives me distant hopes saying, “All this pressure of studies will be over one day and then you can learn Arabic, you can memorize as many Juz of the Quran as you want to. You can even teach people, but all that’s for later. Come on now, you have a test next week!” It is funny that I think that way, because the rationalist in me knows quite well that two years later, it might only get worse. There will be college. Then work. Then additional people in my life. Then maybe even more people – until my moments become too clogged up to keep track of; until I find myself saying, “I wish I was back in high school.”

What if it is just a trick by Shaitan – making me be in the delusion that life hasn’t really started yet – to stop me from turning all my aspirations to reality? Because, from what I see around me, I can tell that when I’ve reached the supposed end of the tunnel, I’ll probably be squished from all sides by an overdose of the ‘life’ that I wasted these precious years waiting for. Yes, that does sound like Shaitan in action. And how can I let him win?

So what about turning the picture around – broadening my scope of optimism and putting it this way: These two long years might be the biggest opportunity I’ll ever get. The hundreds of hours of free time I’ll have during this time might actually be more than all the free time I’ll ever have later in my life combined. And if I AM going to do something (something for Islam is what I mean), isn’t now the best time to start?

So what I’m just a teenager? In the view of Islam, you’re an adult the moment you hit puberty. Having considered that, I’ve already wasted too much of my adulthood. And then of course, I could die any day. I could die even before school is over. Just because my country has an average life expectancy of 67.8 years, that does not guarantee ME six decades of life. In fact, no one can guarantee me even twenty years of life! Dying a plain ol’ Muslim who didn’t even try to do something for the Deen, despite having the knowledge and ability, is the worst thing that can happen to a believer. On Judgment day, I can’t put up excuses like “Umm yeah I had the resources, the knowledge, the health and the energy to do something for Islam, but I was only in High school!”

I was in high school! I was the same age when many Sahabah had fought through battles – like real, actual battles! If I even start researching about the Sahabah who braced Islam at an early age and all the awesome things they accomplished even before they had grown up, I would feel like the most useless piece of flesh on earth.

Maybe I won’t be able to build Masjids or found Islamic institutions now. Maybe I won’t be able to arrange big Halaqats or create Arabic learning platforms all by myself now. But there sure are things I can do – and the first thing that comes to mind is learning more. Learning the Quran; its language, its intricacies, all the miracles it bears, all the magic it hides. Learning about the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم, his awe-striking life, actions and ahadeeth. Learning about the Sahabah. And so much more. And of course there are other things to do, all I have to do is to start looking out.

Two years. Two long, unrestrained years. How can I just waste this huge blessing of Allah? The fact is, I can’t. Do I know what exactly to do? Nope. Do I have close friends who share these same aspirations? I wish. But problems are there to be dealt with. So I’ll keep praying to Allah that He makes me of the Saliheen – the righteous – and gives me the ability to use my youth. Because, your youth wasted is your life wasted.

Five-before-Five

My Journey To The Jilbab

It was just another gloomy day of autumn as I headed out of home wearing a jilbab for the first time in my life, being as quick as I could so my parents would not see me. But I wasn’t quick enough, because my mother saw me and I had to stop so that she could stare at me for a while. After the staring was done, she had the queerest expression on her face. It was more than apparent, without her even saying anything, that she didn’t quite like the idea of me going out looking like “those Muslims”, the ones who don’t obey public expectations even in the way they dress. I could almost hear her thinking, like I assumed most of my friends and acquaintances to be thinking too, “You were doing just fine in hijab. Hijab is normal. But a burqa? Isn’t that being a little too much?” or maybe “You’re just seventeen! You don’t have to look all extremist, that’s for older people!” However, my mother did not say any such thing out loud, and I did not worry about her at all; I knew that sooner or later she would be following the lead In sha Allah; guidance is hard to resist for some people. What I did worry about though, was how my friends would react; what they would say and how they would look at me.

I had been training myself for weeks if not months to not care about what anyone thought or said. I had kept telling myself again and again that people’s approval would not take me to Jannah, nor would their disapproval change anything in this life or the hereafter. But I am a teenager after all, and anyone who has lived through this age knows very well that teenagers absolutely thrive on the approval of others. I personally am (I won’t say was because then I’d be overestimating myself) one of those people for whom “being cool” is a priority in life. Anyway, to my great surprise (and relief), my first day in the jilbab went by with no one treating me differently. (I almost jumped up in delight when my friends at school just continued to speak to me normally after looking at the jilbab for a while). I had not become an alien to them. Phew. I realized, just like it did not matter for me if I wore what they expected me to, it also did not matter to them if I dressed differently than what they expected.

The hard part, however, was convincing my own self and fighting my own nafs. I have had intense battles with the part of myself that said I was doing better than a lot of other people; the part that tried to logicize my not wearing a jilbab by telling me that many girls didn’t even wear the hijab. At times I almost gave in to Shaitan’s waswaas and delved into Google’s archives trying to find a Hadith, or maybe a Fatwa saying that wearing the jilbab is not really necessary, or that a short one was good enough. But by the Grace of Allah, every forum discussion, Fatwa, Hadith explanation and tafseer that I read, only made me feel more guilty about not having started already. It is a wonder, and a great blessing of Allah on me that I did not come upon a single fatwa or even common-person comment online that suggested that the jilbab was anything less than essential (and I’m sure there are lots of them on the internet, considering how many people wish that what they wish were divine rulings). The next time I need a refresher on the meaning of “Ar-Rahman”, this is what I would look back to.

Regardless of all that, in the end it was only one thing that I needed to encourage me truly, the one thing that stared back straight at me until I went to the shop myself and bought a full-length jilbab. It was the 59th ayah of Surah Al-Ahzab:

O Prophet, tell your wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over themselves. That is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful. [Surah Ahzab, 33:59]

One final look at the words and all my doubts disappeared (or maybe it was Shaitan that disappeared). How could I avoid something that was there, bold and clear, in the Quran itself? I told myself, “You want the palaces of Jannah? You want the awesome fruits, the amazing drinks, the silk robes? You want the whole happiness-for-eternity deal, and you are having doubts and complains on wearing just one extra piece of clothing for the few number of years you’re going to live on earth?” I couldn’t be that irrational!

So here I am, going out everyday looking like “those Muslims”, the same ones I used to consider ‘uncool’ just a year or so ago. Now I know though, that they are the coolest beings on earth. They are the ones who have learned to not care about what people around them like or approve and have learned to rather live the way that Allah SWT lovingly bade us Himself. They are the ones who have internalized the fact that the silken robes of Jannah will make one look a thousand times more amazing and glamorous than any dress by any brand in the world ever will, no matter how ‘in fashion’ it is. You see, that is one of the many incredible things Islam does: changing the core of one’s way of thinking. It changes the definitions we always were so sure about. Being a person who found beardies and Niqabis a little weird or “extremist” for a major part of my life, I know this very well. I absolutely love how after getting to know Islam better, my definition of ‘cool’ has drastically changed from knowing the lyrics of famous metal songs to knowing long verses outside of JuzAmma by heart; from learning Spanish or French to learning Arabic; from wearing what my peers consider trendy or ‘chic’ to covering up whatever I’m wearing with a not-so-fashionable piece of clothing.

Although there probably is no better word and no better actions, yet “Alhamdulillah” seems like too little, the five prayers seem like too little, just thirty days of fasting out of three hundred and sixty five days seem too little ̶ to thank Allah SWT for the endless love and mercy He has shown me and all the unexpected ways of guidance He has opened for me. And still I know I will never be good enough at doing just this much. There will always be the times when my mind wanders to something else during Salat; there will always be the days I say or look at something wrong during a fast ̶ there will always be my mistakes ̶ and yet, throughout the same days, Allah’s infinite mercy, His Rahmah will also be there. My creator Himself will be there to forgive the biggest of my sins, to listen to my du’a whenever I call onto Him, closer than my jugular vein. How unbelievable is that? If knowing that does not take us aback and make us leave anything that comes between us and obeying Allah, then what will?

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