A New Leaf In Ramadhan

July 24, 2012 § 2 Comments

There is always a story for everyone, that moment frozen in time, where a sudden realization came about. A realization about something that needed to be done, then and there. We call it “turning a new leaf” or that “defining moment”. It is when the heart and mind connected to form a steely and most determined resolve that will forever change one’s life.

Such moments are full of happiness, sadness, fulfillment and joy, tragedy and the sweet smell of success. Without us realizing, these moments were aplenty though at most times, we failed to capture or even recognize it. Yet for every Muslim, this particular moment comes about every year during this holy  month of Ramadhan.

It is a month full of blessings, where each good intention can easily be achieved. For during this holy month, the doors to the sky (heavens) are opened up and when all prayers (du’a) are answered. Allah the Exalted said, “Has not the time come for the hearts of the believers to submit and humble themselves?” Clearly, it is in this month, Allah’s Mercy, Grace and Blessings are in abundance, readily available for those who wants it.

Put it in our hearts and minds, that this month, in this year, we want to be closer to Allah and His Mercy, Grace and Blessings. Regardless of how far we have strayed, how we have forgotten Him, now could be that defining moment. By us being able to live through this Ramadhan in itself is a sign of His Grace, to allow us to make that step towards being a better Muslim.

Yes, indeed we have committed way too many sins, lead of life of total neglect to His ways, too bad were all of us in desperation.  Yet His Mercy, Compassion and Grace to His servants are far greater. Ours is not a caravan of despair, or of giving up; ours is a caravan of loving mercy and continuously turning back to Him.

This is the month where we take that huge step of defining our own moments. And in total faith that Allah SWT will readily accept us, in full forgiveness. For which then, we will become better servants, better person, and most importantly, better Muslims.



July 4, 2012 § 17 Comments

Dark and silent nights
On the mat of love I sit
Could we ever be lovers?

: Night air is chilling
Tears of regret come rolling
Unworthy of your kindness

: Stillness of the night
I stood still ever with hope
Your Mercy and Grace

: Streaks of warm dawn lights
Intimacy nears its end
Sadly I depart

Hopefully, our tender moments will continue, everlastingly. By Your Mercy, Grace and Blessings.

Beauty & Body Image

June 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, Americans spent nearly $10 billion on over 9 million cosmetic procedures in 2011. The latter represents a whopping 197% increase in the total number of procedures performed in 2007.1 Some of the reasons cited for these alterations were to correct abnormalities, but most were for purely cosmetic reasons.

While the beauty, fashion and entertainment industries make big bucks on selling the newest standards of beauty and physical appeal, we as a society are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with our appearances. We are feeling more self-conscious, more deficient and even less beautiful. Why?

Because we’re being told—implicitly or explicitly— that we are not enough. We’re not good enough, thin enough, or attractive enough; that our skin does not look young or light enough. We are always broken, blemished, or scarred, and we need fixing. There is always a new standard or method for enhancing everything from our skin, hair, lips and nails, to almost every inch of our body—and it’s impossible to keep up. So many succumb to society’s pressure to conform, and they go to great lengths to surgically alter their bodies, inject foreign objects in them, starve themselves or follow strict diets or exercise programs—all in an effort to look more beautiful and desirable.

As in the other article, Islam encourages outward beauty, cleanliness and beautiful dress. We adorn our bodies with nice clothes and maintain good hygiene because this is what God loves. We also do our best to eat healthy and stay fit because our bodies are a trust from God, and because better health gives us more energy to serve God and society better. These are all admirable efforts, when done moderately. What I am addressing here is how we view the natural physical form of our bodies; what we were born with or what developed over time because of genetic influences.

It is important to remember that God is our Maker—He made you the way you are—your unique color, shape, hair and facial features. In His eyes, you are beautiful—no matter what society says. He says, “Surely, we have created the human being in the finest stature,” (Qur’an, 94:4). He fashioned you in your mother’s womb, brought you into this world knowing nothing, and then beautified your heart and mind with faith, wisdom and intelligence. Even before you were born, He honored you; He created your father, Adam, with His Own Blessed Two Hands, breathed His spirit into him, and made the angels prostrate to him out of respect.

Throughout your life, He showers you with beautiful gifts; He provides you with experiences that inspire you, teach you, and make you feel joy, connectedness and love towards Him and others. He gives you a lifetime to invest in the beauty of the Eternal life with gorgeous homes, companions, flowing rivers, and blessings that you cannot even imagine. Now, who could dare touch your feelings of self-worth after that?

Underneath the superficial layers of different physical features, skin colors and types of dress, all of us have hearts and souls that long and plead for the same deep connection with their Creator. As Ibn Al-Qayyim (may God have mercy on him) says, “Truly, in the heart there is a void that cannot be removed except with the company of God; and in it there is a sadness that cannot be removed except with the happiness of knowing God and being true to Him; and in it there is an emptiness that cannot be filled except with love for Him and turning to Him and always remembering Him; and if a person were given the entire world and what is in it, it would never fill that emptiness.”

So no matter how much we alter and reshape our physical form, it will not fill the void in our hearts that is reserved for God. When we follow our desires and the ever-changing whims of creation, we chain our souls down to the lowly, fleeting life—and away from God. But when we connect our hearts and minds to the Eternally Permanent One, Al-Baqi, our souls are freer to draw closer to Him. Reflect for a moment on this hadith (narration) of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (peace be upon him): “Prayer is light; charity is a proof, patience is illumination; and the Qur’an is an argument for or against you. Everyone starts his/her day and is a vendor of his/her soul, either freeing it or bringing about its ruin.” [Muslim]

When our souls are liberated, we see Reality for what it really is; that physical beauty fades, and that the beauty and light of our faith, character and actions are what bring us true bliss and deeply satisfying relationships in this life, along with a more permanent relationship with God and eternal bliss and in the Hereafter.

The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ would supplicate, “O Allah, as You have made my appearance beautiful, make my character beautiful,” (Allahumma kama hassanta khalqi fa hassin khuluqi).

That beautiful character is in sincere intentions, in our positive attitude, and in a graceful smile. It’s in showing abundant gratitude and forgiveness, in overlooking people’s faults, in giving generously of your love and time to support others, and in treating people with respect, mercy and gentleness. As Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, “Gentleness is not in something except that it adorns it, and it is not stripped from something except that it ruins it.” [Muslim]

So, rather than striving to perfect a body that will, one day, end up covered in dirt, how about we turn to what truly matters? Instead of facelift and breast enhancements, perhaps we ought to focus more on uplifting our faith and morality; and instead of dwelling over fat layers and contemplating liposuction, we might want to work on suctioning the arrogance, pride and anger from our hearts; and instead of eyelid surgeries—yes, those exist—we would prosper more if we considered the virtues of lowering our gazes and turning our faces and hearts toward God’s light and guidance. These are the changes that yield the most beautiful, long-lasting effects in this life and the Next.

“So direct your face toward the religion, with pure faith. This is the natural disposition God instilled in mankind—there is no altering God’s creation. This is the upright religion, though most people do not realize it.” (Qur’an, 30:30)

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Keeper of the Truth…a Huffaz

June 8, 2012 § 4 Comments

HishamA young Huffaz (to be) rigorously, on a daily basis, memorize the Quran at Maahad Tahfiz Al-Kholidi. He is Hisham Abu Othman, only 13 years old, and he has decided that this is the way he wants to spend his childhood.

When asked “why are you doing this“, the answer was a prompt and honest “to seek the Mercy, Grace & Blessings of Allah SWT“. MashaALLAH.

Further prompted with “what do you want to do when you grow up“. Again, unequivocally, the answer was a swift “i want to be an ‘ulama”. SubhanALLAH.

Someone so young and yet so sure and determined. When ALLAH SWT has chosen you for His Grace & Blessings, things do come crystal clear and easy. Allahu Akbar.

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