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The Arafa Opportunity

WhatsApp Image 2017-08-27 at 10.33.17 AMThe Arafa Opportunity

How will you take advantage of this day? Allow me to share with you some of the benefits of this day and an experience I loved doing and would love for you to join me on it this year.

The Day of Arafa is Thursday August 31st, 2017

According to authentic narrations, this is the day where:

  • Allah swt brags about the worshippers to the Angels. He is proud of our worship.
  • Allah swt forgives the sins of the previous year and the next year for the one that fasts this day.
  • Allah swt accepts the dua as the Prophet saw says: “The best of Dua is the Dua of Arafa.”
  • Allah swt frees the most amount of people from the hellfire.
  • It is the day we celebrate and rejoice the completion of Islam as Allah revealed: “This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion.” Maai’da 3

Abdullah ibn alMubarak saw Sufyan Althawri in tears and kneeling the night of Arafa. He asked him: “Who is in the worst situation this night of Arafa?” Sufyan Althawri said: “The one that doesn’t expect forgiveness from Allah swt.” If you think about it, the one that acts like he or she is not expecting the forgiveness of Allah is the one that doesn’t put effort in doing the things that grant them forgiveness.  Decide now what will you make your intentions for and what will you plan ahead for?

May Allah subhannahu wa ta’ala allow you and I to put forth our best efforts in worship on these special days and especially on the day of Arafa.

Allow me to invite you to an experience that truly was one of the most memorable moments for me last year. On the day of Arafa, and specifically between Asr and Maghrib, plan to be disconnected, alone and out in nature at a beautiful and comfortable place. You can walk, sit or be on a swing or a boat, whatever helps you stay focused and feel at peace.  Dedicate this time to make dhikr and dua… the entire time.

Anse Tamara Gray once said at a halaqa that people at Arafa are supposed to be engaged in dua the entire time, but making dua for a lengthy period of time is something many people don’t do because they have not been in the habit of having a conversation with Allah swt.

During this time, just speak to Allah. I didn’t make a list, I simply allowed my mind to be present and my heart to be awakened while watching the beautiful waves of Lake Calhoun.  I reflected on my entire life and made dua for each thing that came to mind along with important goals and milestones I wanted to achieve.

While I was alone when doing this, I also had a group of my soul sisters doing it at the same time.  This kept me even more motivated knowing that we are all an inspiration and support to one another.  A sister who didn’t have a babysitter put her kids in a stroller and went for a walk with them.  Another sister couldn’t do it the entire time, she did it the last hour.  Do what will work for you and invite your soul sisters and brothers to join you.

Have a few dates and a bottle of water with you so you can break your fast and perhaps even pray Maghrib before you go back to join family and friends for Iftar.  It goes without saying, safety comes first so be aware of your surroundings.

When I was done and as I walked back to my car to go home, I remember having an intense feeling of gratitude, serenity and strength.  I felt like Allah swt handed it to me as a fuel to keep me going on my journey.  May He allow me to do the same and better this year and may He accept from me and you the best of what we offer.

A Wife Like Khadija

 

 

Wife Like Khadija

“I am confident I will be his loving, appreciative and supportive Khadija.”

These are words I wrote in my personal credo long, long ago about the type of a wife I wanted to be once I was married.  I wasn’t married when I wrote it and I don’t believe I fully understood what it meant to be someone’s Khadija. It sounded cool and to be honest, more than anything I wanted a husband so in love with me that when he’s asked about me, he would respond like Muhammad salla Allahu alayhi wassalam responded about Khadija and say: “I have been nourished with her love.” The first time I learned this Hadith, I was mesmerized with how the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wassalam explained the depth and source of this love for his wife.

In Ramadan 2015, 4 years into my marriage, I remember making intense Dua at Taraweeh that Allah make me an appreciative and supportive wife like Khadijah. My teacher and mentor, Anse Tamara Gray was leading the Taraweeh and many of her khatirahs were about how supportive Khadija was. It was emotionally an intense dua for me because I, for the first time, understood what it meant to be a wife like Khadija. I understood that the deep love Muhammad salla Allahu alayhi wassalam had for Khadija was born out of seriously significant expressions of love that I wanted to also give to my dear husband.  While every marriage and every couple is unique, reflecting over who Khadija really was for Muhammad salla Allahu alayhi wassalam moved me to tears over and over and over again.  It wasn’t simply wishing it or writing about it anymore…  It was testing my willingness to express love in a way greater than I even knew was possible.

I’d like to share with you words that I wrote few months ago when this realization finally sunk in my mind and heart.

When as a wife you make dua to become your husband’s Khadija, realize that Allah will bring you a test in your relationship and marriage that is suitable for you.

Will you marry him based on his character… a character that brings you security and barakah?

Will you support him when he needs your support?

If he’s ailing and needs a healer, will you take him to the best healers you know?

Will you believe in him even when he doesn’t even believe in himself?

Will you see his potential, the one Allah is calling him to?  Will you believe in him even when he doesn’t see it?

Will you empower him even when he wants to cover it all up? Will you reassure him that he’s of upright character and Allah won’t dishonor him?  Will you know the upright character?

Will you stand by him and give him what the world won’t give him?

Will you know him like no one else knows him? Will you speak the language of his heart?

Will you use your strength to strengthen him?

Will you bring him safety and security?

Will you invite safety and security from AlRuh and AlSalaam?

Will you become his provision of love? Will you live eternally in his heart?

Will your memory inspire him to give generously?

Will the strongest of women envy your mention?

Will you inspire an Ummah?

I pray that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, Al-Wadood, (the Most Loving) allow me and you to tap into our truest expressions of love and gift it to our spouses.  May these expressions of love become nourishing for our hearts and souls as well as our spouses’hearts and souls.

Leadership Inspired by Islam

I submitted this blog post as a contribution to RevivingSisterhood.  You can read the original right here.

Leadership Islam

Leadership Inspired by Islam

I am a Muslim woman.  I long for the day I stand in front of Allah and I present to Him the story of my life.  I pray that I stand in complete confidence and happiness in front of a God that is proud of me and what I have done for His sake.  I long for the day He admits me into His infinite mercy and Paradise.  I strive daily to fully align myself with the wisdom He sent to me; the Quran. I strive daily to walk in the footsteps of great leaders whose role model was Prophet Muhammad; peace and blessings be upon him.

Muslims agree that God created them for the sole purpose of His worship.  This is what Allah Himself said in the Quran verse 51:56 “I did not create the jinn and the humans except to worship me.”  A wise teacher once taught me that this verse tells us the purpose of creating humanity.  However, the purpose of creating each individual person is unique to themselves.  This is their calling and their true worship of God is measured by the extent to which they strive to realize it and actualize it.  God has put humanity on earth to be His representatives of goodness and justice.  A world in which those representing God stand up for the rights of the weak in the face of a tyrant oppressor.  A world in which those representing God act like a powerful wind of goodness bringing positive energy for our world.  The impact of the work they do becomes greater than even themselves.  It is not a coincidence that this verse is in a chapter titled the Spreaders.

I recognized my own uniqueness and embraced my responsibility to spread good and justice. A Somali woman, born and raised in the Arab world and having immigrated to America in my teens; I speak three languages and I acquired three different cultures and world views that are crucial to understand the needs of my community.

God had blessed me with the ability to connect with people at a meaningful level and share the knowledge and experience He has given me in a personally relevant way. I use these assets as a platform to spread the goodness, the positivity and God fueled energy that I am committed to on daily basis. The more people we have committed to this purpose of leadership, the more our communities grow and thrive.  Our world would be more peaceful and people would be more tolerant of one another despite their differences.

If we look to our world with an open mind and heart, we would notice the suffering due to injustice.  In my experience speaking, teaching and coaching, I realized that much of the aching in our world would diminish if we took the time to get to know one another. People are curious about one another, people are in a state of fear of each other, and people need comforting and safe spaces that support their basic human need of existing. Instead of using our differences to learn from one another and understand one another, we allowed the fear to isolate us.  How will our children play with one another? How will neighbors feel comfortable to greet one another? How will employees and students feel secure in their positions and learning? How will we cooperate if we are not secure? These are the type of environments that allow hate and prejudice remain unchallenged.

God does not expect us to change the world, he wants us to change ourselves and allow ourselves to reach the potential we are most capable of.  That will change the world.  He will grant His victory and support to those that seek justice despite the currents that are moving against them.

Think about how you can use your platform to bridge the gap of understanding in your diverse community.  How can you lift the vail of ignorance, fear and prejudice from the circles that are closest to you?

In the Quran, as a way of encouragement and reflection, God repeats the stories of the best models of leadership for humanity; prophets and righteous people with an upright character.  They were given the responsibility of challenging status quo, of demanding change with wisdom, of calling for the removal of injustice.  Their responsibilities started with their closest circle of influence; their families, tribes, communities who share their customs and language.  Prophet Shu’ayb peace be upon him beautifully stated the mindset of a reform leader by saying: “I have no desire to do what I forbid you from doing.  I desire nothing but reform, as far as I can.  My success lies only with God.  In Him I trust, and to Him I turn.”  Chapter 11:88.  As a Muslim woman leader in my community, I aspire to this mindset wholeheartedly.

A Letter to the Heart in Pain

letter heart pain (1)

If you are not happy and are experiencing emotional pain, it is because a deep desire and value of yours is not a reality.  Don’t let anyone tell you to forget the pain and just look at the positives in hopes that the sadness will disappear.   Rather, appreciate, count and be grateful to all the blessings in your life AND welcome the pain as a means to change the reality that is causing it.

Then, call upon Allah! Present it to Allah with truthfulness that comes from an aching heart seeking peace and tranquility. Repent for the sins and shortcomings that might have led you to this sadness.  Use His names and attributes.  Use the name AlFattah as He is the Opener. Beg Him to open the doors that are locked from you so you may see with an open heart and clear mind.  Don’t lose hope because you are or feel incapable. Allah AlQadeer, The Most Able is capable.  He alone can make you able.

Ask Him, to strengthen your heart with patience like He did for the mother of Musa as she threw her infant in a dark chest in a moving river.  Can you imagine how this mother felt as she threw her child?  Ask Him to send down His Sakinah (tranqulity) on your heart like He did for Muhammad (saw) and Abu Bakr when the Quraysh was about to capture them with the intention of killing them.  Abu Bakr RA tells us that he looked and acted frantically with fear for the Prophet (saw), can you picture what he looked like before he was supported with the tranquility of Allah?

How blessed are those who despite the pain, fear, worry or sadness they are in, they also feel an immense tranquility bestowed upon them by ArRahman!

How do we gain tranquility despite the pain?

Dhikr, dua, recitation of the Quran, charity, salah and especially, Tahajjud!

A person that dedicates him or herself to the practices that soften the heart and attach it to Allah will certainly be strengthened with certainty of Allah, reliance on Him and gratitude towards Him.  What I personally love is how when we commit to these acts of worship and dedicate ourselves to them, we are in the company of Allah. When you are in the company of Allah, what fear, worry or sadness can overwhelm your heart? Won’t your companion rescue you when you are in dire need?

One of my teachers, Sh. Muhammad Alshareef, teaches that Allah will answer ‘all’ your duas. Yes, all. Nothing is impossible with Allah correct?  Since I am a regular attendee of his Visionaire program, a friend once called me to ask about it and this friend was in deep pain because of the delay of something she had a strong desire for.  She said to me that it wasn’t wise that the shaykh was advertising his program in such a way because certain things in life are simply never granted and it can set people up with false hope.

Sometimes, we all reach a state where we tell ourselves perhaps our dream will never become true!  We cease to believe that they are actually possible.  Who benefits from our state of despair?

What I find reassuring however, is how in the Quran Allah beautifully displays stories of desperate duas being answered even when the answer seemed impossible.  How can an infant in a chest survive in a river? How do barren women in extremely old age have children for the first time? How is the dream of Yusuf alayhi assalam realized after decades of painful separation from his father and family? How is Ayub alayhi assalam cured from a deadly disease and walk away strong, as if never harmed by an illness or loss? How does Muhammad (saw) and his few companions survive the Hijra and come back victorious in less than 10 years? Dua and certainty make the impossible happen. If dua moved a rock for three men stuck in a cave, won’t the Rabb who moved that rock move your rock too?

Appreciate your pain and be grateful to it for it will lead you to be desperate in your dua.

“Be like the young child who will continue to cry to his parents until they give in to what he wants.  If your Rabb has not answered your dua yet, then continue crying to Him.” Sirri AlSiqti

And when you are done making dua and feeling the pain, close your eyes and imagine the bliss of having what your heart deeply desires as Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will soon grant it to you.  Smile, laugh, rejoice in the middle of your tears.

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنْ تَنْصُرُوا اللَّهَ يَنْصُرْكُمْ وَيُثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَكُمْ

“O you who believe! If you support Allah, He will support you, and will strengthen your foothold.” Muhammad: 7

The Death Encounter

Death Encounter

Two days after my son Imran was born we were released from the hospital and we brought him home. I remember perceiving that car ride to be the scariest car ride ever. I was completely aware and conscious of every single car, truck, stop sign and stop light around us.  My husband was driving at 20 miles per hour on a main road but to me it seemed like he was speeding.  My husband being the most cautious driver I know kept on reminding me that we were driving on the same roads we always drove on.  When we came home, we placed Imran in a playpen right next to my side of our bed and both my husband and I laid on our bed and breathed with relief like we just completed a marathon.  Read More

Lessons of a New Marriage

Lessons of a New Marriage (1)

It was Friday April 15th, 2011 when Jama, my now husband, called me during my lunch break at work.   The memory of that moment is still very vivid in my mind. It was a clear, sunny and beautiful spring day in Columbus Ohio. The backyard of the building I worked at was a lovely park with swings. I was all alone when he called and it seemed like he was in a rush but just called to tell me something important.Read More

Nurturing the Emotion, 24 Years Later!

Nurturing the Emotion

I was deeply touched recently by one of my classmates and a story she shared about engaging a child who seemed a little sad and down. When she genuinely engaged him the child expressed sadness over the death of a dear family member. As my classmate described the interaction between herself and this child, the evident tender care moved me to tears. I had to excuse myself and leave for the bathroom as I was shocked by what was happening to me. Read More

Blissful and Present Parenting

Blissful Present Parenting

“Never compare your child to another child, compare your child to the vision you have for him.”

My friend Heba has always inspired me with beautiful conversations and powerful quotes.  My journal is full of sentences like Heba said… The above quote is one of them and it is one that resonated deeply with me.  I don’t remember whether or not I had my son Imran at the time, but this quote really helped me stay grounded in my parenting experience.  Read More

Saved by Knowledge

Saved by Knowledge

Did you ever get this intense feeling that knowledge saved you?

I attended two beautiful talks this weekend by two of my most beloved teachers and thinkers. Although they didn’t speak about the same topic or even in the same place; an underlying message was in their talk which for me communicated the role of knowledge in saving you at defining moments in your life!  Read More