Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Dear Readers

Salamualaykum! I just want to take a moment to say thank you for everything! Thank you to all my followers who have been reading my blog since I first started it and to those that have recently started reading my blog. I really do appreciate it. While I primarily started this blog for myself as a form of self expression, I also now try to aim my posts towards your interests through topics that are beneficial to you all. I appreciate all the comments and the emails. You guys are so caring and I love that you're from different parts of the world and have diverse backgrounds. I would love to get to know all of you and learn about your lives, struggles, concerns, and thoughts. I'm in no way an expert, but if you have any questions or comments feel free to email me at beautyofislam1@yahoo.com or leave me a comment anonymous or not. InshAllah I'll post the answers to your questions and concerns here.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Why do people have to leave each other? Part II

Read Part I Here

Leaving is hard. Losing is harder. So a few weeks ago I asked the question, ‘why do people have to leave each other?’ The answer took me into some of my life’s deepest realizations and struggles. But it has also led me to wonder: After people leave, do they ever return? After something we love is taken from us, does it ever come back? Is loss permanent—or just a means for a higher purpose? Is loss the End itself, or a temporary cure for our heart’s ailments?
There’s something amazing about this life. The very same worldly attribute that causes us pain is also what gives us relief: Nothing here lasts. What does that mean? It means that the breathtakingly beautiful rose in my vase will wither tomorrow. It means that my youth will neglect me. But it also means that the sadness I feel today will change tomorrow. My pain will die. My laughter won’t last forever—but neither will my tears. We say this life isn’t perfect. And it isn’t. It isn’t perfectly good. But, it also isn’t perfectly bad, either.
Allah (glorified is He) tells us in a very profound ayah (verse): “Verily with hardship comes ease.” (Qur’an, 94:5). Growing up I think I understood this ayah wrongly. I used to think it meant: after hardship comes ease. In other words, I thought life was made up of good times and bad times. After the bad times, come the good times. I thought this as if life was either all good or all bad. But that is not what the ayah is saying. The ayah is saying WITH hardship comes ease. The ease is at the same time as the hardship. This means that nothing in this life is ever all bad (or all good). In every bad situation we’re in, there is always something to be grateful for. With hardship, Allah also gives us the strength and patience to bear it.
If we study the difficult times in our lives, we will see that they were also filled with much good. The question is – which do we chose to focus on? I think the trap we fall into is rooted in this false belief that this life can be perfect—perfectly good or perfectly bad. But that’s not the nature of dunya (this life). That’s the nature of the hereafter. The hereafter is saved for the perfection of things. Jannah (paradise) is perfectly and completely good. There is no bad in it. And Jahannam (hell – may Allah protect us) is perfectly and completely bad. There is no good in it.
By not truly understanding this reality, I myself would become consumed by the momentary circumstances of my life (whether good or bad). I experienced each situation in its’ full intensity—as if it was ultimate or would never end. The way I was feeling at the moment transformed the whole world and everything in it. If I was happy in that moment, past and present, near and far, the entire universe was good for that moment. As if perfection could exist here. And the same happened with bad things. A negative state consumed everything. It became the whole world, past and present, the entire universe was bad for that moment. Because it became my entire universe, I could see nothing outside of it. Nothing else existed for that moment. If you wronged me today, it was because you no longer cared about me—not because this was one moment of a string of infinite moments which happened to be tinted that way, or because you and I and this life just aren’t perfect. What I was experiencing or feelings at that instant replaced context, because it replaced my entire vision of the world.
I think in our experiential nature, some of us may be especially susceptible to this. Perhaps that is the reason we can fall prey to the “I’ve never seen good from you” phenomenon which the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) referred to in his hadith. Perhaps some of us say or feel this way because at that moment, experientially we really haven’t seen good, because our feeling at that instant replaces, defines and becomes everything. Past and present becomes rolled up into one experiential moment.
But, the true realization that nothing is complete in this life transforms our experience of it. We suddenly stop being consumed by moments. In the understanding that nothing is limitless here, that nothing here is kamil (perfect, complete), Allah enables us to step outside of moments and see them for what they are: not universes, not Reality, past and present, just that—a single moment in a string of infinite moments…and that they too shall pass.
When I cry or lose or bruise, so long as I am still alive, nothing is ultimate. So long as there is still a tomorrow, a next moment, there is hope, there is change, there is redemption. What is lost, is not lost forever.
So in answering the question of whether what is lost comes back, I study the most beautiful examples.  Did Yusuf return to his father? Did Musa return to his mother? Did Hajar return to Ibrahim? Did health, wealth and children return to Ayoub? From these stories we learn a powerful and beautiful lesson: what is taken by Allah is never lost. In fact, it is only what is with Allah that remains. Everything else vanishes. Allah (swt) says, “What is with you must vanish: what is with Allah will endure. And We will certainly bestow, on those who patiently persevere, their reward according to the best of their actions.” (Quran 16:96)
So, all that is with Allah, is never lost. In fact the Prophet ﷺ has said: “You will never give up a thing for the sake of Allah (swt), but that Allah will replace it for you with something that is better for you than it.” (Ahmad) Did not Allah take the husband of Umm Salimah, only to replace him with the Prophet ﷺ?
Sometimes Allah takes in order to give. But, it’s crucial to understand that His giving is not always in the form we think we want. He knows best what is best. Allah says: “… But it is possible that you dislike a thing which is good for you, and that you love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knows, and you know not.” (Quran 2:216)
But if something is going to be returned in one form or another, why is it taken at all? Subhan’Allah. It is in the process of ‘losing’ that we are given.
Allah gives us gifts. But then we often become dependent on those gifts, instead of Him. When He gives us money, we depend on the money—not Him. When He gives us people, we depend on people—not Him. When He gives us status or power, we depend on, and become distracted by these things. When Allah gives us health, we become deceived. We think we will never die.
Allah gives us gifts, but then we come to love them as we should only love Him. We take those gifts and inject them into our hearts, until they take over. Soon we cannot live without them. Every waking moment is spent in contemplation of them, in submission and worship to them. The mind and the heart that was created by Allah, for Allah, becomes the property of someone or something else. And then the fear comes. The fear of loss begins to cripple us. The gift—that should have remained in our hands—takes over our heart, so the fear of losing it consumes us. Soon, what was once a gift becomes a weapon of torture and a prison of our own making. How can we be freed of this? At times, in His infinite mercy, Allah frees us…by taking it away.
As a result of it being taken, we turn to Allah wholeheartedly. In that desperation and need, we ask, we beg, we pray. Through the loss, we reach a level of sincerity and humility and dependence on Him which we would otherwise not reach—had it not been taken from us. Through the loss, our hearts turn entirely to face Him.
What happens when you first give a child a toy or the new video game he’s always wanted? He becomes consumed by it. Soon he wants to do nothing else. He sees nothing else. He doesn’t want to do his work or even eat. He’s hypnotized to his own detriment. So what do you do, as a loving parent? Do you leave him to drown in his addiction and complete loss of focus and balance? No.
You take it away.
Then, once the child has regained focus of his priorities, regained sanity and balance, once things are put in their proper place in his heart and mind and life, what happens? You give the gift back. Or perhaps something better. But this time, the gift is no longer in his heart. It is in its proper place. It is in his hand.
Yet in that process of taking, the most important thing happened. The losing and regaining of the gift is inconsequential. The taking of your heedlessness, your dependence and focus on other than Him, and the replacing it with remembrance, dependence and focus only on Him was the real gift. Allah withholds to give.
And so sometimes, the ‘something better’ is the greatest gift: nearnesss to Him. Allah took the daughter of Malik Ibn Dinar in order to save him. He took his daughter, but replaced her with protection from the hell-fire and salvation from a painful life of sin and distance from Him. Through the loss of his daughter, Malik ibn Dinar was blessed with a life spent in nearness to Allah. And even that which was taken (his daughter) would remain with Malik ibn Dinar forever in Jannah.
Ibn ul Qayyim (may Allah be pleased with him) speaks about this phenomenon in his book, Madarij Al Salikin. He says: “The divine decree related to the believer is always a bounty, even if it is in the form of withholding (something that is desired); and it is a blessing, even if it appears to be a trial and an affliction that has befallen him; it is in reality a cure, even though it appears to be a disease!”
So to the question, ‘once something is lost, does it return?’ the answer is yes. It returns. Sometimes here, sometime there, sometimes in a different, better form. But the greatest gift lies beneath the taking and the returning. Allah tells us: “Say, ‘In the bounty of Allah and in His mercy – in that let them rejoice; it is better than what they hoard.’” (Quran, 10:58)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"Every Soul Shall Taste Death"

               
I can't imagine having to make a decision like this man did and I hope I never have to. I found the last statement he mentioned to be inspirational. "Live simply so other people can simply live." 

Change of Heart [Short Film]

               
"Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future." ---Oscar Wilde 
I honestly get upset when I see people who won't forgive others for their past, when Allah forgave them for their sins. We all sin, some more then others, but regardless we are all sinners. It's sad when I see people that are mashAllah so pious now, but are still remembered by their past. I've met people that have committed major sins for most of their lives, but you would never know that by looking at them now. Why don't we let Allah be the judge of them and love them for who they are now, rather then who they were. 
            "Even God doesn't plan to judge a man until the end of his days. why should you or I?"

Monday, December 19, 2011

Fall Semester 2011's Best Moments

Fall Semester 2011 is officially over and I am so thankful for that. This is my Junior year of college and Fall made for an interesting semester that brought me both ups and downs. I want to take a walk down memory lane and reflect on the moments that brought me smiles this semester and helped me grow.
Maryland  ICNA Youth Conference
              I enjoyed this event a lot and benefited from speakers such as 
   Nouman Ali Khan and Sheikh Omar Suleiman. I blogged about my experience. 
Read all about it here!  
Morgan took her shahada
       One of the most exciting moments from this semester 
     was when my friend Morgan took her shahada. I've known 
    Morgan since the beginning of college and I was so surprised/ecstatic when I heard she wanted to take her shahada. I was so happy that I was there when she spoke "la ilaha ilala Allah" for the first time. May Allah preserve her and continue to strengthen her imaan, especially during difficult times.
I ran my first 5k marathon
        This was one of my favorite moments from this semester. I've always wanted to run in a marathon, so the Relay for Life 5k for life was an amazing opportunity. Me and two of my friends got up at 6 a.m., bundled up, and joined in the efforts to raise money to fight against cancer.
Signed up for Quran Program
This is one of the most beneficial changes I made this semester. My friend and I signed up together for Quran tutoring classes through QuranReading, a very reliable website. I found the tutoring program to be affordable and I've benefited so much alhamdulilah. I advise you all to sign up for online classes too if you  want to begin memorizing more chapters of the Quran or just practicing your reading. 
video
Held our first Sisters Halaqa of the school year
I was so excited to have gotten the opportunity to lead the first sisters halaqa of the school year! This was something the sisters on campus and I have been wanting to do for a while, and we're so glad to have finally held our first structured halaqa. We held two more since then and inshAllah I will document future halaqas and post them on Beauty of Islam. The clip I posted is only a small portion of what we discussed, so if you want to find out what else we discussed click here.
Source: Ultimate Spring
Got Deans List
I'm so grateful alhamdulilah!!! I just found out my final grades and I am really surprised. I worked hard all semester and remained focused, but the last two nights of preparing for finals was so difficult for me. I pulled two all nighters and was unhappy with my performance on my Islamic Civ final and I barely made it through two papers for another class. I felt like a failure at the end of finals week. I'm so happy that my grades ended up being even better then I imagined, and all of that is because of Allah swt. I couldn't have done any of this without Him. 

He is Near


 A good friend sister of mine wrote this letter to me. I thought I would share it with you all. It brought tears to my eyes and InshAllah it will bring some sort of benefit to someone out there. This sister was there from day one of my transition towards truly embracing Islam. As I mentioned in my story under Who I Am, alhamdulilah I was born a Muslim, but like most young people living in the West, I didn't love/practice my deen the way I should have. This sister was there for me from the very beginning and I remember her telling me one day that no matter what happens in college, she always wanted me to be able to come to her if I ever needed anything. At the time, I felt intimidated by people that appeared "religious" to me, especially hijabis lol. I feared that they would judge me. This sister proved to me the complete opposite, and we quickly grew close. In this letter, she reflects on the defining moment I mentioned in my "Who I Am" story where I took my first step towards Allah swt.

 "Take one Step Towards Him walking, and He’ll come to you running.
Subhan`Allah this hadith reminded me of you. I remember when you first became inspired. I remember when we all prayed in jama`a (congregation) in the Virginia Hall lobby on a Friday night with the special guests who came to visit (it was either Maghrib or Ishaa), [because we ended the night praying in jama`a, Allah SWT put some type of barakah (blessings) into that night.] We prayed, while background noises consisted of heels and excited freshmen girls, getting ready to party and go about their casual nightlife plans. We went on, prayed our salah and conversed with our Lord. A friend told us about the odd stares we received that night while we prayed. (We didn’t notice because we were engaged in our salah). How amazing, that as we put our noses and foreheads on the ground in prostration, everything around us seemed so adverse to what we were doing. Subhan`Allah. Allah SWT put something in your heart that night.
   I remember how in awe how you felt that night, and how inspired you were. Despite what everyone else was doing, we fulfilled our obligation to Allah SWT. I remember walking into your room the following morning and seeing the Google search on your screen ‘How to pray the right way in Islam.’ I remember you updating your Facebook status to ‘Last night changed everything for me.’ I remember that ever since that day, by the mercy of Allah SWT, you became consistent in your 5 daily prayers. I remember you taking one step towards Allah SWT, and beautifully, I remember Allah SWT running to you with His mercy. I remember you deciding to wear the hijab almost a month after your commitment of salah. I remember Allah SWT honoring you as a beautiful role model and representative to Muslimahs all over the globe as a newly defined Riham Osman.
I am a witness to this hadith qudsi that if you come to Allah SWT walking, He will come to you running.
   Allah SWT says; “If you come to Me walking, I will come to you running.”
All we have to do is take that one step. "

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Accepting Our Creator's Qadr

   Among the most difficult realizations we must come to in life is realizing that we really don't have control over our fate. We go about our lives and everything seems to be going fine...then all of a sudden, life takes a left turn. This is what life is all about. No matter how great of a person we are, we will be tested and things will seem like they're going really bad and will never get better. That's where faith steps in. We have to trust in Allah and know that beyond a shadow of a doubt, He has a greater plan for us. Allah loves us more than our own parents and He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows every decision we're going to make before we even think about it. He therefore knows the future and although in the moment, something seems so perfect for us, it won't be best for us later on in life.

   Allah tests those whom He loves. When we feel like we are truly being tested, we shouldn't shut down and feel like the world has turned their back on us. We must be patient and accept Allah's qadr. This is one of those moments in life where we can do nothing but leave everything up to Allah swt. We don't know what's right or what is wrong for us. Only He does, so in realizing that, we will God Willing feel content with what ever decision He has made for us. There's a sense of peace that comes with understanding that our fate is not in our hands, but in Allah's hands. 

Keep firm in prayer and remain steadfast in patience because inshAllah, in the end, everything will work out even better than we had imagined

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Dependable [Al-Wakil]

Photo Credit: Me
"If you depend on Allah with due reliance, He would certainly give you provision as He gives it the birds who go forth hungry in the morning and return with a full belly at dusk." [Tirmidhi]
Allah swt has 99 names and subhanAllah, one of His names is The Trustee/The Dependable. Allah is the One you can go to with all your troubles, fears, doubts, complaints, etc. Whatever it may be, Allah knows and He is The All-Hearing. He doesn't simply listen to our complaints, He truly hears them. When we feel lost in all our problems, remember that Allah will help us get through them if we just go to Him. Allah is the only one who will help us through whatever we're going through, even if at the time the situation seems hopeless.
"Your Lord says, 'Call on Me; I will respond to you.'" (al-Mu'min: 60)
If it is so easy to call on Allah for help, then why do we hesitate to seek Him? At times, we place our dependence on others besides Allah. We forget that if any hardship is intended upon us, it won't happen without the Will of Allah and if any relief is intended up on us, it also won't happen without the Will of Allah. Just like the hadith states, if we place our trust in Allah swt like the birds, Allah will take care of us and all our needs. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Rick Perry, Man of Faith

             
What do you guys think about this?
I would like to ask Mr. Perry if he would allow Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, etc. to also openly pray in schools. If the answer is yes, then I am with him, but if not then I can't agree with his plan. If Christians are allowed to pray in school and openly celebrate Christmas , then every other student should be allowed to do the same, regardless of his/her religion. I think we have a crisis in America where people are so afraid to openly discuss religion in institutions. I think if we truly allow religious freedom in school, then as a nation we would be much stronger. True coexistence would be more attainable. If we all live by "To you be your religion, and to me my religion," [Quran: 109:6] imagine the possibilities.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Tips & Tricks for Maintaining High Imaan


We've all gone through periods in our lives where we feel we have no time for ourselves, our family, friends, and even sadly for Allah swt. Life is all about balance and no matter what we're going through, the most important factor in our life should always be our Creator. Allah swt created us to worship Him. 

[And I (Allâh) created not the jinns and humans except they should worship Me (Alone).] Quran 51:56

If our main purpose in life is to worship Allah, then every time we decide to skip a prayer or two, we are not fulfilling our purpose in life. This makes me question, where are our priorities. If Allah is not our top priority, then we have issues. Without Allah we simply would not exist, so we owe it to ourselves and to our Creator to fulfill our responsibilities towards Him. I came up with five tips that will inshAllah make it easier for us to maintain our imaan no matter if we're at school, with our families, or behind a desk at work.

1) Increase your remembrance of Allah

Whenever you are in line at the grocery store, walking to or from class, or just relaxing make dhikr (remembrance). Say Bismillah, Alhamdulilah, SubhanAllah, or AstakhfaraAllah. Remembering Allah is such an easy task. You don't need to pull out your prayer beads to make dhikr. It really is very simple and you're gonna be thankful later. On the Day of Judgement when you have all these hasanats (rewards) coming in inshAllah, you're gonna wonder where they came from and you're gonna be glad you spent your free time making remembrance . 

If you have an ipod, fill it up with Quran and Islamic lectures. Click this link for Amazing Lectures! Whenever you have free time simply press play and you will instantly remember Allah. Remembering Allah makes it easier to stay away from haram. Think about it this way. If you were to say Bismillah before everything you do, do you think you would commit as many sins. Imagine saying Bismillah then stealing. It's not likely you would do that. Remembering Allah at all times during the day keeps shaytan away and it keeps you focused on the end goal, which is jannat inshAllah. 

2) Don't miss your prayers

"Don't forget to pray today because Allah didn't forget to wake you up this morning." 

This quote is a great motivator whenever you feel lazy or negligent of your prayers. It was reported in a hadith that, "The difference between a believer and non-believer is prayer." Not only is prayer an obligation upon every Muslim, but it is also beneficial to us. It helps keep us focused and it draws us closer to Allah. When you're life is getting really hectic, prayer is the best thing to do. "The shortest distance between a problem and a solution is the distance between your knees and the floor." Imagine if you had an exam or if you were having family problems. That duaa you made after your prayer could make all your problems go away. SubhanAllah, Allah is The Allah Hearing. He loves to answer our prayers. All we have to do is ask. Everything you want from this duniya that is halal and good for you, seek it through Allah and He inshAllah will make it happen if it's best for you. 

3) Increase your khushu (concentration) during Prayer

Life can get busy and hectic, but the last thing we should do is bring that craziness into our salat (prayers). When it's time to pray, that time is for Allah and no one else. We shouldn't rush through our prayers or think about what we're gonna do after we're done. A good way to increase your concentration is to begin focusing before you say "Allahu Akbar." When you're washing for prayer, focus on the task at hand. Afterwards, try to not talk, just focus and begin your prayer. 

-     4) Surround yourself with good company

In an authentic hadith, the Prophet Muhammad (saws) said: "A person is likely to follow the faith of his friend, so look whom you befriend." 
If your friends don't remind you of Allah, then it's going to be very difficult to increase your imaan or faith. Especially in places where temptation is everywhere, the best thing we can do for ourselves is to have good friends. We need friends that are going to encourage us to pray and to stay away from the things Allah has made forbidden to us. If we choose those that are misguided as our friends then that will just give shaytan easy access to us. 

5) Remember death often

For many people, in particular the youth, it's normal to not remember death often or at all. We're taught to think about death later on in life and to enjoy the present and live it up to the fullest. That's not the way a Muslim should think. A Muslim should remember death often because that is their ultimate destination. 
In sourat al Ankaboot (the spider) verse 57, Allah says: "Everyone shall taste death. Then unto Us you shall be returned." If it is clear that we will all die eventually, then why do we live our lives as though we're going to live forever? 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Why Make Time for Allah?

As promised, I finally wrote my first legit post in a long time. I led a sister's halaqa on Friday and I thought I would share with you what we discussed. The topic was why should we make time for Allah. The sisters at the halaqa were all college students and as college students it's easy to get distracted by this world and to forget to make time for Allah S.W.T. Even if you're not a college student, try to apply this to your life and inshAllah this can be a reminder that no matter where we are, whether it's in the office, at school, or at home, we should always make time for our Creator.
Although the topic of this post is why should we make time for Allah, I would like to look at the question being posed at the opposite side of the spectrum. Why should Allah make time for us? What have we done that makes us so deserving of His blessings?  Do you wanna know why we can’t seem to answer this question? It’s because No matter what we do for Allah, we can never repay Him for all of his blessings. Everything Allah commands us to do is not for Him, it’s all for our benefit. Praying does not benefit Allah, fasting does not benefit Allah, wearing hijab does not benefit Allah. All of this is for our own well being. Allah loves and cares for all His creation. It is only by His mercy that we even exist. The fact that Allah created us should be enough of a reason for us to make time for Him. 

Allah SWT says in the Quran, “And I (Allah) have not created the jinns and humans except they should worship Me.” [51:56]

In this ayah, Allah SWT is telling us that the sole reason He created us is so that we can worship Him. That is why we we’re created! Now, this ayah does not mean that we were created to pray day and night nonstop, and to fast every single day of the week. We are not angels of course, they are perfect while we obviously are not. 

*Anything that we do, when we make our intention to please Allah SWT, can become an act of worship. It’s so amazing when you think about how Allah makes it so easy for us to worship him. Before we study, if we say “bismillah”, suddenly, those 5 hours we spent studying have been considered an act of worship, and we have just fulfilled our purpose in life- worshiping Allah SWT. And this goes for anything, before we eat, when we take out the trash, when we clean, when we greet our sisters with a smiling face- ANYTHING that we do (as long as its halal of course), as long as our intention is pure and sincere, it can be considered an act of worship and Allah SWT rewards us for it inshAllah. We should pray our salat, remember Allah in all that we do, and make duaa that He accepts our deeds. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

New Path

So...I'm thinking about changing the direction of this blog. It is indeed called Beauty of Islam, therefore my goal is to make it exactly that. I remember when I was first starting out in my journey of embracing Islam. Islamic websites and blogs helped me with my struggles and they increased my knowledge about Islam through the great posts they wrote. I hope to be able to do that once more. I feel like I lost sight of the goal of this blog and I haven't been blogging as much as I used to. SubhanAllah, there was a time when I would blog up to 5 times a day, even when I had exams to study for and papers to write. Writing about Islam on this blog isn't only inshAllah beneficial to you, but also to me. I learn so much as I search for hadiths and ayahs from the Quran for my blog posts and it really did give me an imaan boost. I miss that. God willing, I will make a change and Beauty of Islam will be back on track and even stronger then ever!

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Glimpse of a Wonderful Night

Fast-A-Thon 2011
Samara and Zohra

Laughter heals the heart


Aqsa wrapping a scarf on a hijabi challenge participant. We asked non-Muslim women to wear the hijab for the day to raise awareness about the Muslim headscarf. 


Me and Samara <3 p.s. I was super excited to wear my new abaya :).
The boys on the Islamic Student Association executive board.
Mughrib prayer in jama'a 
The ISA family

Fast-A-Thon: Can you last the Fast?

   We did it! My university Islamic Student Association (ISA) had our first big event of the semester:Fast-A-Thon! I'm not gonna lie, I was a bit nervous me and the rest of the executive board weren't gonna be pull it off as well as we wanted it to be. Last minute advertising combined with a quickly approaching event date stressed me out, but alhamdulilah as always by the will of Allah, the event was great minus a few shortcomings. 
   My favorite part of the event was not breaking my fast lol although it should have been, it was seeing all the ISA members, faculty, friends, and university students under one roof enjoying each other's company as they learned about the significance of fasting in Islam. Fast-A-Thon is a banquet the Islamic Student Association put together to raise awareness about the reasons why Muslims fast and to also give people the opportunity to try fasting for the day. 
   The most touching moment of the event was when ISA President Waleed E. conveyed to the audience that although we fasted and got a glimpse of what it felt like to be hungry, we did not fully experience the perpetual fast those less fortunate than us experience. After a long day of fasting, we had a wonderful table full of food awaiting us, unlike those in East Africa that fast for days at a time with either little food or no food at the end of the day. As a visual reminder of the extent to which other are suffering, we showed this video in the hopes of raising awareness about the Famine & Drought currently occurring in Somalia. 
      

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Asma' Allah-Sami Yusuf

                                             
Simply beautiful :). I love that the video shows the diversity of Muslims. Muslims are Arabs, Pakistanis, Malaysians, Hijabis, non-Hijabis, Black, White, Sunni, Shia, and a sea of other things. We are different, but in the end we unite under la ilaha ilalah.

The Other Side-Sh. Omar Suleiman

                
At the ICNA youth conference I attended a few weeks ago, I heard Sheikh Omar Suleiman speak. This is a recording of the lecture he gave that day that truly left people in tears. Sheikh Omar Suleiman advises the youth to treat their parents well  and to realize the importance of their parents. Our parents raised us from the moment that we were born until now. No matter how hard we try to repay them for all that they have done for us, we can't. We tend to forget that while we are growing up and moving on with our lives, are parents are too. Our parents won't be here forever, so as he explains in the lecture, don't let the doors to jannah close. Treat your parents right and tell them you love them before it's too late.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Take a Chance

When we find the things that we love, we hide out of fear of getting hurt. Take a chance on love because if you don't, you may miss out on an opportunity of a life time. 

ICNA Youth Conference

Meeting the challenges, Making the Change 

Young Muslims held their first youth conference in the Greater Washington D.C. area on Saturday where many came together underneath one roof to obtain an iman (faith) boost. Sh. Nouman Ali Khan and Sh. Omar Suleiman were among the main speakers at the conference. If you have not heard their lectures yet, I advise you to do so. MashAllah, whenever I am in need of nasiha (advise) or just something beneficial to listen to,  I listen to Nouman Ali Khan's lectures. I heard Sh. Omar Suleiman for the first time on Saturday and I was very impressed by his ability to capture the attention of the audience. SubhanAllah he talked about the importance of parents and had many in tears. If you are in need of an increase in your knowledge of Islam, he is also a great person to listen to. 

Sh. Nouman Ali Khan giving his speech

Me and a few friends
All the girls :)

Monday, October 17, 2011

I had a dream...

I normally don't share my dreams but a few nights ago I had a dream that had a great affect on me. I had a dream about Jannah (Heaven). It was incredibly beautiful and left me shaking. After having the dream, I woke up to look at my phone and saw that it was fajr time. SubhanAllah, I've never had a dream that shook me so much. In my dream, me and two of my friends were running among many people, on a road towards a stop light. As we were running, the light turned from green to yellow, and we feared it would turn red, so we ran as fast as we could. When made it to the end of the road and realized that the light never turned to red. So we stood there as nothing happened waiting and wondering. The road signified Jannah, and for a moment when we reached the end of the road and did not find the heaven Allah s.w.t promised we refused to believe that it didn't exist. I remember us yelling, "No! There has to be a Jannah. Allah would never lie!" And as soon as people started to turn back  after losing hope, all of a sudden, the world around us turned int Jannah. SubhanAllah, Allahu Akbar, La Ilaha Ila Allah, I can't even explain what I saw. Around me, I saw the angels saying "Alsamau Alaykum." I remember feeling a sense of peace.

 Although I don't  know why I had this dream and if it was just a product of my imagination, I feel like it taught me a lesson. I learned that there will come a time when I will be held accountable for my actions no matter how small they were. I learned that this world is absolutely nothing in comparison to the everlasting life that awaits us if Allah wills. InshAllah if we are blessed enough to enter Jannah, this world will feel like a day. We won't remember any of the hardships or pain we went through. Jannah is peace of  mind. Jannah is not something we will ever find in this world--not through money, fame, or anything thing this world has to offer. Let us not come to this realization when it's too late, but now, when we still have the chance to change.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Forgiveness is the distance between your knees and the floor

Source:Tree of Askeron by Mattias Hammar

"Oh son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. Oh son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it." [Tirmidhi and Ahmed]

Naturally when we find ourselves committing a sin over and over again, we begin to lose hope. We feel as though our sins are too great and that Allah will never forgive us. The doubts that fill our mind are a product of Shaitan. Shaitan does his best to convice us that we are not good enough for Allah. He tells us that we are are too hypocritical to stop the sin, let alone get on our knees and ask Allah for His forgiveness. This way of thinking is completely wrong as the hadith explains. Allah is our Creator, He is the Most Merciful and despite our sins, whatever they maybe (except shirk) He will forgive us.Repentence is the key to forgiveness. If we never repent to Allah, how else will we gain His forgiveness? Allah gives us time to repent. From the time that we realize that what we have done is sinful to the time of our death, we can always repent. We must not wait too long though, because only Allah knows when we will die. The concept of forgiveness is repeated many times throughout the Quran. 


"Say: O 'Ibaadi (My slaves) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, verily, Allah forgives all sins.Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." [al-Zumar 39:53]


Abu Umamah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated the Messenger of Allah (salallahu alayhi wa salim) said, "The companion (Angel) on the left lifts his pen for six hours for the Muslim slave that errs or sins. If this slave repents and seeks Allah's forgiveness for that error or sin, the Angel doesn't record it. And if the slave doesn't ask Allah for forgiveness, the Angel records it once. 


How Merciful is our Lord? He doesn't even give the Angels permission to write down our sins until we have had time to repent. Even if we fail to repent, He still gives us time to ask for our sins to be erased. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I promise to come back

I feel as though I have neglected my blog. I didn't mean to. Life just got the best of me. Summer ended. The new semester started and alhamdulilah my motivation is higher than ever.  I promise to come back though. As soon as I can, I will be resuming blogging because I love it so much and I truly miss it. There's something about blogging that relaxes me. I can write about anything that bothers or excites me, and once I click post...I feel relieved. Til then...

XOXO Riri
Source: Unknown

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Love Story

A New American Muslim

                          
I came across Peter Casey's story in The New York Times. He was raised by a Christian father and Jewish mother and converted to Islam as a teenager. He uses the social media as a way to spread knowledge about Islam. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Halal Nasheeds

    
    The Prophet (Nasheed Video) Dawud Wharnsby Ali
     
      Zain Bhikha-Give Thanks to Allah

I get so excited when I find halal nasheeds to keep me away from music. These two nasheed artists are my favorite. I hope you enjoy their nasheeds as much as I do. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

I Don't Mind Living in a Western World as Long as I Can be a Muslim in It.

My freshman year of college, I had this Marilyn Monroe poster up in my dorm. It read [I don't mind living in a man's world, as long as I can be a woman in it]. In a way, I considered Marilyn Monroe to be one of my role models. Now looking back, I don't know why I did look up to her. Maybe because society told me to? Marilyn Monroe had the reputation of being an iconic sex symbol and til this day, young girls still idolize her. She defined being an independent woman as dressing how you please and being with many men at a time. One of her quotes reads --"The body is meant to be seen, not all covered up." Now imagine this mentality being drilled into the minds of little girls everywhere. I never believed that a woman should show her body, but I also didn't believe that it should be covered completely. What shifted my mentality?--Islam. As the year progressed, my idea of a woman's place in this world dramatically shifted. Allah created men and women equally but differently; He gave to each their own roles. Modesty [hayaa]--both inward and outward are a part of a woman's role in Islam. Islam protects women from intimidation and molestation by requiring them to wear the hijab and to avoid free intermingling with men. Islam demands equality for women in humanity, religious obligations, rewards and punishments, preservation of nobility and honor, financial dealings and property ownership, and education. Allah, The Exalted and Almighty, states in the Glorious Quran: (Oh mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam), and from him (Adam) He created his wife (Eve), and from them both He created many men and women...) [An-Nisa:1] Before Islam, women were treated as slaves or property. They had no choice in who they married. They were forbidden to remarry if their husband divorced them. They received no inheritance from their husband or parents. Arabs believed one must have martial abilities such as the ability to ride a horse, fight, etc. to inherit. Female infanticide was occurringSons were preferred over daughters and daughters were typically buried alive. (When the news of (the birth of) a female is brought to any of them, his face becomes dark, and he is filled with inward grief! He hides himself from the people because of the evil (and shame) of that which he has been informed. Shall he keep her with dishonor, or bury her in the dirt? Certainly, evil is their decision...) [Sourat al-nahl (The Bees): 59] Also certain foods were forbidden to women. And they say: What is in the bellies of such cattle (whether milk or fetus) is for the male alone, and forbidden from our females, however, if it was born dead, then all have shares therein...) [Sourat al-Anaam (The Cattle: 139] People today believe that Islam removes rights from women, when in fact Islam is the light that brought rights to women when they had none. SubhanAllah, what a crazy duniya we all live in. One day, my friend and I decided it was time to draw pants and a long sleeve shirt on Marilyn and the quote changed as did my life long mentality. 
I don't mind living in a man's  western world as long as I can be a woman Muslim in it.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Night of Power [27th Night of Ramadan]

               
                               Egypt on the 27th night of Ramadan

Tonight is the 27th night of Ramadan. Although it's not for certain that it is Laylat al Qadr, it is still a beautiful night that should not be missed. I experienced the 27th night of Ramadan for the first time last year at the masjid and SubhanAllah it was unlike anything I've ever experienced. I have never been around so many people crying and pleading for Allah to forgive their sins. Tonight I will spend this night in my home, but don't be food, I refuse to let this night pass me. Also, please watch the video of the jamma3a prayer in Egypt if you haven't already seen it. I am in awe of Islam, only a true religion could unite so many people at one time in one place. Allahu Akbar

Monday, August 22, 2011

Here we are [Last 10 Nights of Ramadan]

Source: Keep Calm it's Ramadan H-A-designs 

Oh my goodness, subhanAllah. It literally feels like yesterday we started Ramadan. Where has the time gone? Every year Ramadan comes and we're so excited. We make plans to change ourselves for the better and we make plans to increase our good deeds. Than reality sets in and for some people it's not as easy as it seems. Even if we have slacked for the past 21 days, we have about 9 more to make up for that. Allah swt says in the Quran: "The night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is better than a thousand months (i.e. worshiping Allah in that night is better than worshiping Him a thousand months)" [Al-Qadr 97:3] That means any good deed we do on that blessed night will be greatly multiplied in Allah swt's Eyes. Starting tonight, let's stand up and pray Qiyam al Layl and recite the Glorious Quran that was revealed during this blessed month. If you can't pray, than read or listen to some Quran and remember Allah and reflect. Let's use these last couple days to reflect on our lives and our purpose. Allah swt created us to worship Him alone. Have we worshiped Him as He should be worshiped? If the answer is no, than make a difference tonight. Also, please on these last 10 days, donate to any cause. Imagine, $5 on laylat al qadr could equal millions in Allah's Eyes, so for each night donate money to Islamic Relief to help both the world's cause and your own inshAllah. Just like Ramadan passed by quickly, our lives too will pass by quickly and on that day when the angel of death takes our soul, may we be among those that lived their lives in the best manner possible. Ameen. 

Beautiful Indonesian Wedding

            
Young fashion designer Dian Pelangi and her husband had the most beautiful wedding I have seen in a long time mashAllah. I loved the traditional aspect of it. It was unlike anything I've ever seen. My favorite part was when she was walking up to him from behind and he had his back to her. It was so romantic! If you would like to see more of Dian, check out her blog The Merchant Daughter.

Friday, August 19, 2011

East Africa in Crisis

Across East Africa, 13 million people are enduring the worst drought in  60 years. Over 400,000 refugees reside in the largest refugee camp in Kenya. According to the United Nations, $1.4 billion dollars in addition to what's already been donated, is needed to assist those suffering from the East African crisis. SubhanAllah, we are now approaching the last ten days of Ramadan. For about 20 days now, we have been pushing away our hunger from sunrise to sunset, only to eat a more than filling iftaar at the end of the day. It's sad that everyday we know that at sunset we will have a meal, while our brothers and sisters in Somalia have to face the fact that some nights, there will be no food or water. Let us be thankful to Allah swt for providing us with the resources to survive and live comfortable lives but let us also give. Sacrifice a a few dollars or more to help feed a family for even one day. More than often, we convince ourselves that we need the money more and that inshAllah we will donate some other time. The time to donate is now. For everyday that passes, more lives are lost and for everyday that passes where we fail to remember those less fortunate, the reward from Allah swt is lost as well . Islamic Relief is an amazing organization that has quickly been responding to the crisis in The Horn of Africa. To donate visit Islamic Relief USA.
Source: Nick Turse
Source: Ceramics Now
Source: The Zeitgeist Movement

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Presenting: Koran by Heart

If you haven't seen the documentary "Koran by Heart" yet, here is your chance. Enjoy inshAllah!
Watch here!
[Click continue as new user, than press play]

Thursday, August 11, 2011

With everyday that passes...


1/3 of Ramadan is gone and we can never get it back. What have we done?
About 20 days remain of Ramadan. Make the most of them. This is a reminder to myself before anyone. The thought of having Ramadan pass by without gaining as much reward as I can from all the opportunities Allah has for us saddens me. Make everyday count. 
Whoever prays during the night in the month of Ramadan, out of sincere faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven. [Bukhari 1888]]
This deal only comes one month out of every year. Lets not miss out

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Food for Thought

"When we are born, the adhaan (Muslim call to prayer) is given but there is no salat (prayer). When we die, salat is prayed but there is no adhaan. The adhaan given at the time of our birth is the adhaan for the salat prayed at the time of our death. That is how short life is- the time between adhaan and salat. So hate none, love all, pray sincerely, forgive genuinely and pray your salats before the salat is prayed for you."
Oh subhanAllah I've never thought of life and death in that way. Whenever I remember death, it's as though this life doesn't matter anymore. The plans I had for myself that once seemed so important, don't even matter anymore. I think that moment when death arrives, will be like that. Right now, the dreams we have for ourselves of one day getting a good job, getting married, and having kids all seem so important. We think we will be devastated if we fail to experience those things we had planed for ourselves, but something tells me it won't be like that. If we live our lives right, than maybe we won't miss those things when it's finally time. Life is short, and when it's time to go...it's time to go. If we are prepared, than our dream of one day traveling the world won't matter because we will God willing have paradise under which rivers flow. Forever doesn't  even begin to compare to now. Deen over duniya always. 

Koran by Heart [HBO Documentary Film]

 
Every Ramadan, over 100 children from over 70 different countries travel to Cairo, Egypt to compete in Islam's most prestigious competition, the International Holy Quran competition. "Koran by Heart", an HBO documentary follows the story of three children from around the world, who take part in this competition. Nabiollah, a young boy from Tajikistan, impresses the judges with his beautiful recitation of the Quran, despite him not knowing how to speak Arabic. Djamil, is a ten year old from Senegal that travels alone to Cairo to attempt to gain the Quran competition title. Finally, Rifdha, a young girl from the Maldives is among the few girls that took part in this competition. Her incredible recitation and memorization abilities allow her to flawlessly compete against the boys in the competition. I was so inspired by these children and their dedication to the memorization of the Quran at their age. SubhanAllah, it still leaves me in awe that age nor language is a factor when it comes to memorizing the Quran. Allah swt made it possible as long as one has the intention to memorize for His sake only and is dedicated. May we all one day be able to memorize the Most Glorious book mankind has ever come to know.     
              

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Salat al Istikhara

I am ms. indecisive. Ms. it take lots of deliberation and thinking before I can decide what I will eat for lunch. For a person like me, salat al istikhara is a life saver. For a while now I've been confused about a matter that is very dear to me and alhamdulilah duaa al istikhara was the most perfect solution to my issue. If you've never attempted to pray istikhara for a matter of importance to you, you are truly missing out. Istikhara means to "seek goodness" from Allah swt, so by asking Allah for goodness you are asking for his guidance on whether the matter is good for you or not. The prophet pbuh said, "If anyone of you thinks of doing any job he should offer a two Rakat prayer other than the compulsory ones and say (after the prayer)." [Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 21, Number 263] This is how you pray salat al istikhara.

First pray Two Cycles (raka'). In the first raka' after Surah Fatiha recite Surah al-Kafirun (Chapter 109) and in the second raka' after Fatiha recite Surah al-Ikhlas (Chapter 112). After finishing prayer recite the duaa of istikhara


TRANSLATION: "O Allah! I seek goodness from Your Knowledge and with Your Power (and Might) I seek strength, and I ask from You Your Great Blessings, because You have the Power and I do not have the power. You Know everything and I do not know, and You have knowledge of the unseen. Oh Allah! If in Your Knowledge this action ------------------------------------------------ (which I intend to do) is better for my religion and faith, for my life and end [death], for here [in this world] and the hereafter then make it destined for me and make it easy for me and then add blessings [baraka'] in it, for me. O Allah! In Your Knowledge if this action is bad for me, bad for my religion and faith, for my life and end [death], for here [in this world] and the hereafter then turn it away from me and turn me away from it and whatever is better for me, ordain [destine] that for me and then make me satisfied with it."