Friday, June 21, 2013

In the blink of an eye

Something you're looking forward to

Something you're reading

Something you're figuring out

Something you're happy about

Something you're looking up to

Something you're holding on to

Something you're hoping for

And dies.

Copyright Uni Cartoony 2013

For somebody whose been in the lab since 7 am, no surprise this is the stuff that's coming out of the brain.

Anyway, something good to share:

A really nice dua'a:
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) used to seek refuge in Allah (glorified and exalted be He) from laziness that he used to mention it daily in this dua: “O Allah, I take refuge in You from anxiety and sorrow, weakness and laziness, miserliness and cowardice, the burden of debts and from being over powered by men.” [Sahih Bukhari]

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Year Gone - ten lessons learned!

Nearly. It's 11.22 pm here and tomorrow's June 19, 2013. I just read some posts of last year's June and boy. Are they strikingly different from my life right now or what!


They also remind me that Allah (SWT) has special blessings for all of us, and He is the One who Decides when each of us will have our share. And it's always there for us. Some people get their share earlier, some late, and some not in this world. But it's always always there.

So what are the major changes I'll see as positive that happened from 19 June 2012 to 2013? What are the lessons learned in this first year? Lemme list a few.

1. I started getting up earlier in the mornings. I used to be a person unable to NOT sleep after Fajr (for nearly all of my life after school finished - which finished a long time ago) :)

2. I became aware of how the rest of the 50% population in the world... functions. How they think, what makes them click and what... never does

3. I understood how difficult it is to stand up for your long-held beliefs if the people you're around don't think the same way. Stuff like "no makeup policy in front of na-mahrams because your face is uncovered". This policy was seriously challenged in the initial days after June 19 last year. After coming here, it's way easier to implement. May Allah Still Help me in this regard, Ameen.

4. I learned that it's never easy for two people to live in the same house and get along with each other perfectly. There will always be disagreements, arguments, sometimes disappointments. The trick is: how we deal with these things.

Two ways that I can think of:
--> Throw a tantrum - have an all-out fight. Loads of tears, loads of bewilderment, loads of useless tensions --> only to realize there was no need for it!

---> Keep quiet for the time being, and then deal with things later when they don't seem so enormous anymore. Really hard to implement, but highly highly useful and a more productive way of dealing with disagreements that morph into all-out war.

5. I realized how precious daughters are to their parents, especially when they move away from their parents' homes. How concerned the parents are (even though they try to hide it) which shows in how frequently they keep on inquiring stuff like "sub khairiat hay na, sub theek hay na?" (is everything okay?). Alhamdulillah for such parents.

6. I've learned that true happiness doesn't depend on how lavishly you're able to live, how much you can splurge on yourself, how many amazing movies you watch, how much popcorn you can stuff in, how much travel you can do, how much shopping you can do etc. True happiness comes from being with people who really understand you, and would always consider your point of view as something, something worthy of being considered. If you miss out on that, no amount of money can fill that void.

7. One of the most important lessons I've learned is that if you have a beyond awesome relationship and connection with Allah (SWT), then you automatically have a beyond awesome relationship with your family. Allah-Consciousness brings about softness to the heart. Negatives don't affect your heart that much, it's easier to overlook shortcomings, and easier to really appreciate good actions towards you.

8. There is a key difference between what men and women want in this world. Women really want appreciation and love. Men really want respect and appreciation (they insist that they just want respect but I insist that they want appreciation bundled with respect - but they don't agree, and I respect that).

9. I've learned that it's only Jannah where everything will be perfect. Yourself, your looks, your relationships, your time spent, everything. In this world, we have to deal with imperfections.

And finally,

10. I've learned that when we make loki ka raita (whipped yoghurt with bottle gourd), we don't really have to blend/grind the boiled loki. Mashing it gently is enough. Otherwise, nobody can tell it's loki ka raita. Lolz.

So long folks.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Excellent Advice

You probably know that the month of Sha‘bān has started, and you probably all know that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) would fast much of this month and maintain high levels of ‘ibādah as well, almost as a "practice-run" for Ramaḍān.

Don’t underestimate the challenge Ramaḍān will be for many this year. If you think that it’s just about having the stamina to fast a day which is silly long, then you’ve failed already. The real challenge is how to fill that same day with super quality ‘ibādah, and good amounts of it, whilst pacing yourself in a hotter, longer day than usual. You need to get a feeler for fasting a few days right now as opposed to settling down using 2-3 days of Ramaḍān. You need to read a few chapters of the Qur’ān every day to measure your rhythm and timings, see how tired you’re getting and what adjustments need to be made to ensure a good schedule. You need to start cutting down on sleep and getting to the Masjid early morning now, and get *used* to it, as opposed to slowly getting there by the end of Ramaḍān and wasting precious moments whilst bedding yourself in. The practice that you can gain in Sha‘bān is extra valuable this year so don’t misuse this little time right now that we have.

Al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī (raḥimahullāh) once stopped at the side of a grave with his companions and said, “If this person in the grave was able to come back to this world, what do you reckon he’d focus on doing?”

“He’d make plenty istighfār surely, and pray more and increase in all possible good deeds!” they replied.

Al-Ḥasan said, “Well he’s missed out on his chance to do that. So don’t *you* miss out on your chance right now.”


--Sh. Abu Eesa


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

NYC and Zuhd


I have been off the blog for a while now. I had to attend a cousin's wedding on Memorial Day weekend. The wedding was in New York.

As you can see, there are lots of buildings in NYC. Man-made tall structures. You can have a cricked neck when you gaze up at these buildings. Taking a car into NYC is probably the worst thing you can possibly do. But if you only have 4-5 days to visit a place you're never going to (otherwise) visit, and you have to attend three functions with all its finery and protocol, you'd better take the car and pay extra for parking. Otherwise, subways take soooo looonggggg. Man.

The trip should have had me jumping all over the place "Omg I visited NYC. I saw all the places I'd just read about (and some of which I had no idea)."

But not... really.

I met some amazing people from my mum's family, yes :), that was one heck of a good part about this trip, but somehow, I've lost out on the excitement I normally would have felt, upon visiting NYC, roaming around Times Square at midnight, riding a ghora gari (horse ride) in Times Square, etc.

Why would somebody not have a good time in NYC? Several possible reasons.

1. One's heart is not into all the glitter anymore.
2. One's companion(s) aren't much into the trip so one is all alone in their excitement.
3. One feels bad about all the money draining away into the glitter.
4. One finds something very hollow beneath the glitter and glamour.

I would have been much better off if I had just gotten three weeks off and gone to visit Pakistan again in May and by this time, I would have been back. At least people around me would have been excited about me being able to spend 100% quality time with them 24/7 ! :')

Anyway. What's done is done. Can't turn back the clock, even if I fervently wish I could.

Back to the second part of the title. Or rather, coming to the 2nd part of the title :).

Zuhd. I came across this word when I took a class from an Al Maghrib institute teacher which was called "Fiqh of Chillin' :D. I never wrote about that. I must. I will InshaAllah. There were people among our pious predecessors who had this strange quality called "zuhd" and their students actually asked them: How did you achieve it? Tell us, so we can also practice and achieve this state of being.

Zuhd is best translated as "indifference to this world, this life." The explanation is that one is not the least bit affected by this world and its goings-on. That doesn't mean he doesn't care about issues affecting his life and the life of those around him. But he just doesn't let this world GET to him. So for example, if he loses his job, he doesn't think about committing suicide or get into depression, because he understands that these things come and go and Allah is Al Raaziq. So he calmly analyzes where he went wrong and gets back to trying to get a job again. Doesn't get depressed. If he (or she) doesn't get a good grade, gets robbed on the streets, whatever, he doesn't bow to these events happening in his life.

So what I personally felt in NYC (and America in general) is that Zuhd - if it were on a scale of 0 [no zuhd] to 10 [best zuhd] - is probably somewhere in the sub-zeros. Below 0! Why do I say that?

1. All around me, especially in NYC I saw a large amount of shopping areas, carts, vendors, boutiques, branded shops, piles upon piles of merchandise, being eyed by wistful people who wished they could have it all. It's the same case in any shopping mall in any part of the world, really.

2. Food! On Times Square alone, there are cafes and eateries almost everywhere you look. So when people get a bit tired of spending their wealth on obtaining things they don't need (probably), they can turn to spending their wealth to fill up their stomachs. With the most delicate and awesome stuff you can find. I saw super cool salads, sandwiches, beyond awesome pastries (I have a weakness for them), gourmet coffee, what not. Nobody in that area can ever think about this child:

Source: Reuters: Credit: Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Files - taken from a Jan 2013 article titled "U.N. unable to get food to 1 million hungry Syrians"

And it's not hard to imagine that. It's easy, in fact. You can get so lost in the people, the excitement, the conversations you hear, the different accents and languages you hear all around you, the colorful displays in shops, and if it's really really cold, why wouldn't you get attracted to the strong scent of gourmet coffee wafting through the air?

But that's what zuhd entails. That you DO think about this child while you are looking at the menu and choosing what to order, you DO remember Allah's Blessings upon you and not squander your money on things that you know will displease Allah. Then, zuhd also entails that if somebody thinks you're absolutely crazy for thinking this way :) [in NYC !!], you smile and let this not affect you in the least.

One interesting point: One who says "I have attained zuhd" , hasn't ..actually. :)

And one of the first baby steps towards attaining zuhd in this world is to control one's appetite, and have control over the nafs which attracts us to the heavenly smells of cheese pizzas, donuts and coffee. I'm just listing my favorites here, I'm sure there are different attractive smells for different people. So as a baby step what we have begun to do is:

1. Eat breakfast really early in the morning (try our hardest to have breakfast before Fajr or after it). Not sleep after Fajr.
2. Have lunch/dinner at around evening time.
3. Snack in b/w if really hungry (which I get :( ..). But the rule of any type of eating is that we eat not to fill up the stomach, but to ease up our hunger. There's a difference yes ...  :)

May Allah Guide us towards attaining zuhd for this world and to sustain what we start out to do. It's not been a week yet. But we have already begun to notice awesome benefits of eating less.

1. We sleep less. After a 4-5 hour sleep, we wake up as if we slept for 10 hours :).
2. We have better focus on our daily work and to spiritual work like salah.
3. We realize the plight of those who go hungry daily and have no choice of snacking.
4. We begin to appreciate the amount of money which went on food supplies :D.
5. We save time! Hours can be spent on a lazy lunch/dinner.
6. Er, weight loss. :$

Well, it sounds really cool and all, but personally, it's not easy. For somebody who loves anything with all-purpose flour in it and it's baked and has sugar too in it, err, you get the picture. So! I'm hoping to stick to this InshAllah.

Please remember, this is not the only way to attain zuhd. But as we read portions of Imam Ghazali's book "Al ihya ul uloom" [amazing read], it dawned on us that this is one of the most practical things we can do to come closer (spiritually) to Allah and purify our hearts for His Sake.

May Allah Help us all, Ameen!