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Apr 16, 2014

Seven ways of getting over grief Part 1


By Arty


Bismillah

Advertisements of people having fun, seemingly leading the perfect life, is portrayed everywhere as if this was the norm, the default. Thus, when a trial hits us, we believe we are the only ones dealing with grief, we feel as if we are the only ones suffering and the oh so popular whisper of shaytan, “Why me, why is this happening to me?” keeps coming to our mind with the sole purpose of turning us into ungrateful beings. 

Grief is by default what we, humans, will inevitably encounter in this life, thus we need to prepare ourselves to react in a manner that is most pleasing to Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) so that we can turn this moment of grief into a moment of victory and reward for us. In one of his lectures, Mufti Menk said something powerful. He reminded his audience that the most beloved to Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala), our prophet Muhammad (sallalaahu alayhi wassallam), buried all of his children except for one, Fatimah (radhi Allahu anha). Why? Why did our beloved prophet (sallalaahu alayhi wassallam), the most beloved to Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala), have to go through so much grief?’ 

The grief and trials were obviously not to punish the prophets, but rather to elevate them even higher in status so they could be perfect examples for us to follow when we are faced with grief. With that in mind, here are seven ways from their perfect examples, to help us get over grief.

1) REMEMBER THE PURPOSE OF OUR CREATION

The first thing we should do when calamity strikes is to remember why we are here and where we are going. Instead of being sucked in the moment of grief, which could blind us from the greater objective, we should immediately remind ourselves:

“Innalillahi wa inna elahi rajioon.”


… Indeed we belong to Allah , and indeed to Him we will return” (2:156).

By repeating this statement in times of grief, Allah (subhannahu wa taala) promises us three things: His blessings, Mercy and Guidance. As a result, we turn our moment of grief into a moment of victory and a moment of great reward.

Those are the ones upon whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy. 
And it is those who are the [rightly] guided” (2:157).

Umm Salama (radiallahu anha), Mother of the Believers, is reported to have said that the messenger of Allah (sallalaahu alayhi wassallam) advised her to repeat the statement “Truly! To Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return” when she lost her husband, Abu Salama, and to add the following supplication:

"Allahumma jurni fee museebatee wa ‘akhliflee khayran minhaa." (1)

"Oh Allah take me out of my plight and bring to me after it something better".

Shortly after she repeated the statement and dua, she received the proposal of none other than the Messenger of Allah (sallalaahu alayhi wassallam). Allah (subhannahu wa ta’ala) replaced her husband with the best husband anyone could wish for.

2) INCREASE IN DUA AND PRAISE
An important lesson we learn from the above narration is that it is important to increase in dua and supplication at times of grief. Times of sorrow are times when we are more vulnerable and it is easy for us to say something that might be displeasing to our Creator. In order to protect us from that weakness, let our words be words of praise and supplications instead. Let us say good or remain silent, especially at times of intense grief. Not only does engaging in ‘dhikr’ (words of praise and remembrance of Allah) protect us from saying something sinful, but it also acts as an anti-anxiety pill, as medication for our soul.

Indeed, Allah (subhannahu wa ta’ala) promises the one who engages in dhikr inner peace:

…Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured.” (13:28)

Making dua in times of grief and calamity also saves us from the calamity we find ourselves in, as per the example of Prophet Yunus (alayhi salaam), who, when trapped in the belly of the fish in the darkness of the ocean, called out to Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) saying:

There is no deity except You; exalted are You. Indeed, I have been of the wrongdoers.” (21:87)

Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) heard his supplication and saved him from his trials:

And had he not been of those who exalt Allah, He would have remained inside its belly until the Day they are resurrected.” (37:143-144)

This is indeed a great example for us to follow.

3) CREATE AN ATMOSPHERE OF FAITH IN THE HOME

Home should be a place for the remembrance of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala).

... and make your houses [facing the] qiblah and establish prayer..” (10:87).

At times of grief, one is more vulnerable to the whispers of the shayateen, thus, by making your home a place of remembrance of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala), it is protected and you are protected. Make Qur’an part of your healing process by increasing your reading of it in the home.

And We send down of the Qur'an that which is healing and mercy for the believers...” (17:82).

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I hope you enjoyed reading this part.  Insha Allah, more tips to follow in Part 2.

Apr 14, 2014

Environmental Issues Series: Why should Muslims care about the Environment? Part 1


By Tara Alomari

Bismillah



There are over 700 verses in the Quran that command us to reflect on nature. Why do you think this is so? Many scholars actually consider the natural world to be a reflection of the Quran- and vice versa - in the sense that the world is filled everywhere we look to signs of Allah’s presence and majesty. It is no coincidence that the “verses” of the Quran are called “Ayat” or signs, just like the signs in the heavens and the earth. This establishes, beyond a doubt, the importance of the natural world for our understanding of the Creator. What, then, is our role in regards to it?

Allah has given us the role of Khalifas of creation, but what does Khalifa means exactly? What benefits does this role give us and what does it demand of us? The word “Khalifa” has been translated many different ways and can be understood to encompass the roles of stewards, vicegerents, leaders, and protectors. Like all positions of power, we have the ability to become the dictators and oppressors of Allah’s creation. Allah says in the Quran:

And [mention, O Muhammad], when your Lord said to the angels, 
"Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority." 
They said, "Will You place upon it one who causes corruption therein and sheds blood, 
while we declare Your praise and sanctify You?" 
Allah said, "Indeed, I know that which you do not know." 
(Surah Al-Baqarah 2: 30)

This verse, which establishes the special position that Allah has put us in on this earth, should give us hope despite its description of our known failure to live up to it. This is because, even though the angels knew we would spread corruption, spill blood, and be terrible dictators rather than responsible, humble stewards, Allah had a reason, despite all of that, to give us this lofty position. If we are to live up to the role which Allah has created us for in this dunia, then we have to stop being heedless of our actions and embrace our responsibilities towards this fragile world with humility and graciousness towards the One who created the whole, incredible world.

Furthermore, this is THE essentially Muslim issue. To care about the environment is to reclaim our place, our honor, and our duty. Unfortunately, caring about the environment is often seen as a Western issue, or the concern of new-age hippies and dreamers. “We’ll deal with our own problems and then we’ll think about the environment” is what too many Muslims say and think. They do not realize that poverty, economic injustice, and health (social and personal), are all linked to environmental sustainability. Everything really is interconnected.

The many problems of the Ummah will never be solved unless they have an environmentally sustainable basis. For example, the widespread famine and various conflicts that we see at present in the Horn of Africa will never be solved in the long-term by collecting people in refugee camps and giving them food rations. This is obvious. These are necessary short-term medications that treat the symptoms of the problem, but a real solution must reverse the desertification of the land that has taken place. Desertification is the man-made process whereby the natural resources of a land (meaning the plants, trees and wild animals) have been consumed faster than they can replenish themselves, causing once green trees and rich, wet soil to turn to barren skeletons on parched clay and sand. It is often the result of exploitative farming practices and over grazing, as the case has been in the Horn of Africa, where it has led to widespread crop failure and subsequently starvation and increased conflict over resources.

This demonstrates very nicely the next point, which is that Allah created the world in “Al-Mizan”. What is Al-Mizan? In one sense, it is the scale of deeds (bad and good), which we will all be presented with on the Day of Judgment. However, it also refers to a part of the reality that infuses our world. Allah says in the Quran:

And the heaven He raised and imposed the balance [Al-Mizan]. 
That you not transgress within the balance. And establish weight in justice 
and do not make deficient the balance. And the earth He laid [out] for the creatures. 
(Surah Ar-Rahman 55: 7-10)

Here Allah defines Al-Mizan, or the Balance, describing the creation of the heavens and the creation of the earth, which is laid out for whom, He says? (Hint: it is not for us.) The preservation of Al-Mizan, the sustaining balance of life on earth, is not merely a good thing to do; it is a commandment from Allah.

The use of Al, meaning “the”, demonstrates that this word is used in an absolute or ultimate sense. It is “THE BALANCE”, not “the balance of___”. So, we can understand that it encompasses all of the great balances of life, including the dynamic balance of nature, through which the cycles of life, water, carbon, etc., perpetuate the existence of life on earth. If any of these cycles which make up the great Balance are upset, then life cannot be sustained. True justice, equity, equality, and other human virtues are vital to upholding Al-Mizan, not just amongst human communities, but also for ensuring the quality, safety, and dignity of all life on earth. When humans fail to meet their role as Khalifas on earth, what ensues is an unbalancing of the Balance, or, in other words, climate change.


Stay tuned for the next part of this article!



Apr 11, 2014

5 Steps to strengthen your relationship with your mother (Part 2)

By Melody

Part 1


Bismillah


We continue to look at the other ways in which we can strengthen the relationship with our mother.

3) Spending time together
Once you establish your want to embark on this journey, the next step is planning to regularly spend more quality time with your mother. This can be in the form of going out to meals, shopping together, spend more time with her during holidays, or simply at the dinner table. It can be hard at first, especially when you sense a generation/culture gap, but give it a go. 

Listen to your mother’s life experiences and you will find that aside from the different environment she may have been in, there is still much you can relate to. You begin to realise, “Hey, she was just like me once.” Conversely, talk to her about your life and about your day at school/university/work. Tell her if you have a problem and ask her to make duaa for you; the mother’s duaa is a powerful tool that should not be disregarded. As you experience the power of her duaa and the sincerity she has for you, and as you sense peace upon being on good terms with her, watch how your heart will automatically soften and ultimately lead to you enjoying her company and inshaAllah becoming almost like good friends. 

Remember what Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said when someone inquired about who is best entitled to one’s companionship; in the hadith we are told that he simply replied with “your mother” three times, therefore ensure that you dedicate time within your schedule to spend with her.

4) Patience
Conflicts, arguments, and quarrels amongst parents and their children are common in any home. It can be difficult to resist anger in times of conflict, especially when you feel you are wronged. So here is some advice to help overcome those moments. 

In the middle of a heated argument, the best thing to do is to keep silent. Another tip would be to say ‘sorry,’ even if you feel it’s not your fault. Immediately, you will see the argument will cool down. This may take a lot of self-control, but you will get there with practice, of which the key is to be patient.Undoubtedly you will slip at times, but what you should NOT do is give up. Keep returning to Him (subhanahu wa ta’ala) in repentance and ask for guidance; you will be amazed at how He is able to transform an awkward situation so subtly. Ponder over the following beautiful words of the Qur’an in relation to parents:

And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy and say, 
"My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up [when I was] small. 
Your Lord is most knowing of what is within yourselves. If you should be righteous [in intention] - then indeed He is ever, to the often returning [to Him], Forgiving 
(Surah Al-Isra 17:24-25)


5) Helping around the home
Whether it is house chores, helping your younger siblings, taking over a role that your mother normally takes on, or undertaking an action that you know will please her, take the initiative. Indeed, by following the steps above, over time you will find that these actions will actually be done out of love, not out of “must;” this will really show in your behaviour. Furthermore, remind yourself of the tremendous rewards associated with doing these acts, and little by little you will see your relationship blossom.


References
1 Sahih Muslim, Book of Prayers, number 1656
2 These observations were taken from tafseer notes by Nouman Ali on surah Al-Israa verse 23, the PDF of his tafseer notes can be found here:http://www.linguisticmiracle.com/download-all-tafseer-notes-compiled-in-1-zip-folder-14mb
3Sahih bukhari, volume 1 book 2 no.47
4Sahih Bukhari, hadith 8.2

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What do you suggest to strengthen one's relationship with their mother? Leave a comment in the comments section below :)

Apr 9, 2014

5 Ways to Give Sadaqah [Part 2]

By Amal S

Read Part 1 here


Bismillah


“…Sadaqah will be a proof of one’s faith and commitment to Allah. It is the expiator of our mistakes, and a very small amount can bring unimaginable spiritual and material rewards, both in this life and in the Hereafter. It protects one from the Fire of Hell and extinguishes our sins. It leads to blessings of one’s wealth in this world as well as the best possible investment in the Hereafter, personally managed by the best of advisors, Allah the Almighty, the Most Merciful.”[2]

So let us get started on what we can do insha’Allah.

Ideas with Huge potential reward: 

1. Plant a Tree
You can do some gardening in your backyard if you have one, or you can plant a tree for just £5 at http://treesgivelife.org/

“When a Muslim plants a tree, whatever is eaten from it is charity from him and whatever is stolen is charity and whatever is subtracted from it is charity.” (Muslim) 

2. Gift a mushaf (copy of the Qur’an) to a child, new Muslim, or any Muslim
Simply buying and giving a mushaf of the Qur’an can bring you tremendous reward every time a letter is recited from it.

3. Get friends and family to come together to pitch in for a Sadaqah Jariyah Project 

a. You can leave behind a water pump for people to use for just £150

b. You can have a well built for a village to use for just £450

c. You can have an entire small masjid built in Pakistan for £5,400

‘Whosoever builds a house (masjid) for the pleasure of Allah, whether it be small or large, Allah builds for him a house in Paradise.’ (Tirmidhi) 

4. Teach… the Arabic Alphabet
Either teach your siblings, family/friends, or volunteer at a weekend Islamic school and teach the Arabic alphabet. Insha’Allah you will be rewarded when they recite the Qur’an, read hadith, or study Islam. (A prerequisite is that your pronunciation of Arabic letters is proper.)

Teach… Al-Fatiha and/or How to Pray 
If you know tajweed, then teach a child or new Muslim how to recite Qur’an, Al-Fatiha and/or how to pray. Insha’Allah you will get rewarded for every single prayer they pray.

Embark on the path of learning the Qur’an from a teacher and teaching it 
It will take time to learn tajweed, recite correctly, and memorize. But the rewards for becoming a teacher of the Qur’an are unimaginable. You can embark on this journey here.

Share… beneficial knowledge 
You could share an authentic hadith or teach someone a du’a from the Qur’an or Sunnah. Encourage others to do good – such as feeding the poor or making a habit to pray Duha prayer.  

You could also volunteer at an Islamic school or masjid, helping them with admin or whatever else to keep running is also highly rewardable insha’Allah.

5. Set up a direct debit so that you are automatically and effortlessly giving charity every month. 


Different ideas: 
1. Skipping a vacation abroad, and donating the price of that to charity
For example, instead of going to Florida, you could take a rest at home and donate the cost of flight/hotel (eg. $1,000) to charity. Think of the reward bi’ithnilah…

2. Fast on Mondays and Thursdays (the Sunnah), and give your lunch money to charity 
Double the reward Insha’Allah Ta’ala – fasting + charity

3. Plan a fundraiser with family or friends 
Please keep it halal, many fundraisers start out with pure intention but sometimes free-mixing and music, etc. enter into the picture. We have to recheck our intention if we start something for the sake of Allah and then try to attain His Reward by doing things which displease Him.

If you have a halal fundraiser and raise $300, Allah Ta’ala can multiply that by 700 times! However someone can raise $50,000 at an objectionable fundraiser but perhaps its reward will not be multiplied or even accepted. We ask Allah to accept our deeds and seek refuge with Him from displeasing Him. So raising $300 properly can actually acquire more reward by Allah’s Generosity and Mercy than raising $50,000 improperly.

These are all of course in addition to the obvious acts of charity – feeding one’s family, being kind and helpful, being good to our parents, giving the Islamic greetings, and so on.

Let us choose one or more of the ideas above and do it, bismillah!

O you who have believed, fear Allah. And let every soul look to what it has put forth for Tomorrow - and fear Allah. Indeed, Allah is Aware with what you do. (59:18) 

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References
[2] Abu Eesa Niamatullah, http://www.islaam.net/main/display.php?id=1200&category=12
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Do leave comments in the comment section below :)

Apr 7, 2014

Why Airbrushed Women Should Not Hurt your Self-Confidence

By Wordsmith


Bismillah


We all have those feelings of insecurity about the way we look, especially as women. Bombarded with images of models/celebrities with the perfect hair, makeup, bodies, clothes; it really never ends.

But what does that do to our self-esteem? I personally feel like crap on some days, the days when everything looks or feels wrong.

But maybe it is not us who look wrong... maybe the standard we compare ourselves to is way off...

When most women think about their bodies and how “ideal” they are, their judgments are unfortunately not fueled by their latest medical check-up or even calculating their Body Mass Index (BMI). Their thought process is actually a very unhealthy one, based on extremely unrealistic images perpetuated through the famous (or in this case, infamous) film industry and mass media.

Writing this article was very therapeutic for me. I hope that these facts/tips help refocus your psyche on reality and boost your self-confidence, as they did for me.

1. Hollywood, models, and pretty much all women on TV are... FAKE
What if I told you that the typical female body type featured in the media is mirrored by only five percent of American women (1)? Is that not a reality check? Only five percent of the one hundred fifty seven million women in the U.S. have a figure that mirrors that of models/actresses in the media. The rest probably look a lot more like you and me and your voluptuous aunt Khadijah.

Most Hollywood performers are actually not the average human beings. Besides the fact that they have relatively rare figures, it is widely known that cosmetic surgery, ranging from breast implants to chin Botox, is a popular fad amongst celebrities. Toby Mayer, a plastic surgeon of Hollywood, states quite bluntly that “everyone in Hollywood has had surgery (2).” And besides the silicon, it is pretty obvious that no Hollywood star has ever performed without makeup, nor have they made a public appearance without the assistance of their professional prep-team. Pamela Anderson’s perfect beach waves were not a product of her own Do It Yourself curling session at home nor were her blinding pearly whites made by simply brushing twice a day.

The reality is that the media’s depiction of perfection, especially in Hollywood, is a fake one. Case in point, we all need to stop comparing ourselves to airbrushed, photoshopped, silicon-fashioned people. Being that we have established the fact that no one looks like that naturally, let’s move on to the next point.


2. Sex sells
I think it is important to recognize why we, as a society, are so manipulated by these images of retouched, perfect, and non-existent beauties. Why is the same highly-fabricated myth perpetuated as the only accepted depiction of beauty and femininity in mass media?

Well, for one thing, sex sells. It is really easy to sell someone a product by appealing to their human desire and sexuality. Heck, even Green Giant, a frozen vegetables company, uses an attractive female to sell their frozen broccoli. Because when people think of their product, they not only think of fresh broccoli but also a sexy woman dressed in radiant jade green. She is flawless and beautiful, so maybe their broccoli is equally fresh? In fact, research has found “[that] seeing an attractive man or woman in an advertisement excites the areas of the brain that make us buy on impulse, bypassing the sections which control rational thought (3).”

This does not mean that the typical image of a woman depicted in the media is what is the most attractive. Obviously, different people have different perceptions of what beauty is, especially among different cultures.

But, as a society, we have allowed ourselves to be convinced that only tall, thin, flawless, white women are beautiful because they are most often the “ideal women” on TV. Such is most evident when we use this non-existent standard to evaluate our appearances and try to match our looks to what is projected to us.

3. Stop Buying Tabloids
If you are one of those people who constantly keep up with celebrities and every detail of their personal lives, including their stretch marks, you should not be surprised at the fact that you are so dissatisfied with the way you look.

Keep in mind that awrah for women, even amongst women, is from navel to knee. So it is technically haram for you to be scrutinizing the bodies of every model and actress in Seventeen. Maybe that is the point.

Your obsession with unrealistic and far-removed human beings will only serve to hurt you in the long run. These people are not going to help you lose weight, and you will never look like them no matter how much you spend on your cover-up. Rid yourself of this attachment, because Angelina Jolie does not even know you exist.

But Allah does. Which brings me to my final point.

4. Perfect is how you were created
In surat At-Tin, Allah says the following:

“We have certainly created man in the best of stature (95:4)

If God Himself, has breathed His spirit into you and vows that you have been perfected in creation, of what importance are these insignificant, unrealistic standards in relativity to the one Allah has set for you?

Br. Wael Abdelgawad says from Islamicsunrays.com it much more eloquently than I can:

“You are perfect, whether you admit it or not. Go with it. Live up to it. It’s not a burden but a liberty. It is the freedom to be who Allah put you on this earth to be. It’s the freedom to dream and achieve without the chains of self-doubt or self-deprecation. It’s the freedom to accept yourself, love yourself, and allow yourself to love others fee-sabeel-illah, in Allah’s cause, and to live a full life of meaning and worth (4).”

In more practical terms, take the time to admire yourself the next time you look in the mirror. Smile and praise/thank Allah for whom He has made you, both in your individuality and appearance. Embrace your own uniqueness and think of this ayah when you feel your self-esteem riding low.

And when you are just having one of those days, make it a “Pick Yourself Up Day.” Make a homemade face mask. Get your nails done. Treat yourself. Put a little more effort into your appearance. Sometimes that’s what it takes, because looking good makes you feel good. Just beware of confining your definition of “looking good’ to one that reflects an exclusively surreal standard. Most importantly, take the time to admire the positive aspects of both your character and natural beauty, because both parts make you who you are.

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Apr 4, 2014

5 Steps to strengthen your relationship with your mother (Part 1)

By Melody

Bismillah

One of the most difficult duties to maintain at a time where respect for elders is becoming insignificant is adhering to good treatment towards parents, particularly the mother. The key to establishing a strong bond with our mother is to work from within, after the outward will automatically manifest. Here are a few practical steps on how one can embark on such a journey and, inshaAllah with sincerity, time, and effort, result in a healthy, stable relationship with the key woman of our life.

1) Duaa

A sincere supplication can change lives. This is the first crucial step to helping you on your way to building a strong relationship with your mother. Regardless of where you stand at the moment and how weak your relationship is with your mother, sincerity in duaa can make the journey easy for you and transform your relationship dramatically. Do not forget, though, that the key is to be sincere. By that I mean for you to really want what you are asking for from your heart; you should be willing to work hard to achieve it. To help reach that point, you should spend some time reflecting, as I will explain further in my next point. In addition, choose praiseworthy moments to make duaa, such as in sujood and in the last third of the night1, and supplicate to your heart’s content!


2) Reflection

a. Quran

The Qur’an is a good place to start when seeking guidance and advice; it is our Master’s way of communicating with us. With regards to parents, there are numerous verses in the Qur’an that emphasize the importance of treating our parent’s kindly, and reflection on such verses can be a huge motivator to treat parents with kindness and compassion.

“And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], "uff," and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word. And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy and say, "My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up [when I was] small." ” (Surah Al-Isra 17:23-24)

Notice something remarkable about the Qur'an; in this verse, and many other verses in the Qur’an with regards to the good treatment of parents, the word “ihsaan” is used. We know from the hadith of Jibreel that the highest level we can reach with Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) is Ihsaan (excellence). However, with regards to parents and our expected treatment towards them, ihsaan is actually the starting/lowest point! This greatly highlights the importance of treating them with excellence. Furthermore, Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) in this verse mentions straight away, after decreeing tawheed, to exhibit the best possible behaviour towards both our parents. Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) asks from us an unconditional relationship with our biological parents, even if they are not kind towards us, even if they are non-Muslim, even if we feel they do not understand us, still they should be treated with kindness.

b. Contemplate blessings

One of the many possible factors that blind us from treating our mothers the way we ought to is forgetting their favours upon us and taking them for granted. But if we were to regularly reflect on how different our lives would be if they were not with us, and how much they contribute at present and have contributed in the past, we would realize that we can never truly give back the unconditional love they have been giving us since birth.

“And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination.”(Surah Luqman 31:14)

Imagine not having a mother at all; imagine being deprived of a motherly figure from birth. Whilst we may find their over-protective nature irritating at times, let us think about the underlying intention behind what they say/do, and the utmost blessing it is to have a figure in our lives that cares and desires the best for us as much as they do I want you to watch this video, not to spark depression but to help fuel the drive to make the most of your time with her, whilst she is still within your reach: http://youtu.be/4hYiChv1QOM

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What do you suggest to strengthen one's relationship with their mother? Leave a comment in the comments section below :)

Apr 2, 2014

5 Ways to Give Sadaqah [Part 1]

By Amal S


Bismillah 

Imagine a day. It is excruciatingly hot and the heat is suffocating. People are sweating, panic-filled, anxious, frantic.

People will be willing to give anything to ransom themselves on that day – a mountain of gold, an entire earth filled with gold! They would give anything and everything away without hesitation to save themselves.

But it will be too late then. Once the Day of Judgment arrives, there is no going back to dunya – no matter how much pleading, begging, crying, and regret. There is no second chance. This is the Reality which we have been warned about.

“We must realise how desperate we are in need of forgiveness for our wrong actions and our dire need for good deeds to help weigh up our scales.”[1] –I think most of people know this, so maybe you shouldn't quote Abu Eesa, but re-write with own words. We need to consider the following advice for that Day which will come to pass:

“O you who believe! Spend of that with which We have provided for you, before a Day comes when there will be no bargaining, nor friendship, nor intercession. And it is the disbelievers who are the wrongdoers.” (Surah Al-Baqara 2: 254) 

The Prophet sal Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, 
"There is no one of you except that Allah will speak to him, without any interpreters. 
He (the person) will look to his left and right surrounded by the Fire and realise that he might only be saved by the good deeds he did before, then he will look forward 
and the fire will be directly in front of his face, so (O Muslims) save yourself from the Hellfire even if it is by half a date!" (Ahmad) 

Many of us know the virtues of giving charity (sadaqah), but reminders can help transfer information into knowledge, knowledge into beautiful action.


Some of the Many Virtues:

Blessings in Dunya: 

“Every day two angels come down from Heaven and one of them says, 
‘O Allah! Compensate every person who spends in Your cause’, and the other (angel) says, 
‘O Allah! Destroy every miser.’” (Bukhari) 

"Say, 'Indeed, my Lord extends provision for whom He wills of His servants 
and restricts (it) for him. But whatever thing you spend (in His cause) – He will compensate it; and He is the best of Providers." (Surah Saba 34:39) 

"Wealth is never diminished by giving sadaqah." (Bukhari) 


Path to Righteousness: 

"Never will you attain righteousness until you spend from that which you love. And whatever you spend, indeed Allâh is Knowing of it." (Surah Al-Imran 3:92) 


Unimaginable Reward: 

“The likeness of those who spend for Allah’s sake is as the likeness of a grain of corn, 
it grows seven ears every single ear has a hundred grains, and Allah multiplies (increases the reward of) for whom He wills, and Allah is sufficient for His creatures’ needs, All-Knower).” (Surah Al-Baqara 2:261) 

“Whoever gives charity equal to a date from good (halal) earnings – for Allah does not accept anything but that which is good – Allah will take it in His right hand and tend it for the one who gave it as any one of you tends his foal, until it becomes like a mountain.” 
(Bukhari and Muslim) 

The huge reward of giving charity is not just the remit of the very rich.

The Prophet (sal Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said what means, 
"One dirham has become greater than a hundred thousand dirhams." 
The companions asked, "How can that be O Messenger of Allah?" 
He (sal Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) replied, 
"A rich man takes a hundred thousand dirhams from his wealth and gives it away as sadaqah. Another man has nothing except two dirhams, and so he takes one dirham and gives it away in charity." (Nasaa’i and Ibn Hibban) 


Forgiveness for Sins:
“Sadaqah extinguishes sin as water extinguishes fire.” (Ahmad, Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah)


Protection on the Day of Judgment:
“The believer’s shade on the Day of Resurrection will be his sadaqah.” (Ahmad) 

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References
[1] Abu Eesa Niamatullah, http://www.islaam.net/main/display.php?id=1200&category=12
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See Part 2 for some creative sadaqah ideas, and types of sadaqah whose benefit will outlive you!
Do leave your comments in the comments section below :) 

Feb 16, 2014

Short Story: MY WIFE IS A NINJA FINAL CHAPTER

By Alawiya Abdalla

Bismillah

*At the hospital*

Shaimaa
I’m sitting here in a chair next to Osman, and PRAYING to Allah (SWT) to get him through this. I somehow managed to call the ambulance through my shock.
The scene was so bloody that I am not going to describe it, I have witnessed what it is like to be with the wrong crowd first hand.
I knew Osman had a lot of problems, but being involved with gangs?? That was quite heartbreaking
When they were confronting him, I thought to myself “No this is too much, if Allah saves my life I am out of this relationship”. I cannot lie, a person can only handle so much!

But seeing my uncle’s slump right in front of me, and Osman’s devastating cries made my heart twist in knots I never thought possible
And then came the heroic deed, when he saved my life Oh why did he do that??? Why did he make that one step, and now making me wish I was the one who is in a coma!!
When the medics got to the house, they detected a pulse in Osman but not in anyone else. I was praying to Allah that they find one in my uncle too, but they said he was dead

I just did not know whether to scream or remain calm or just faint!! I lost all sense of any normal feelings
I just saw myself switching into a robotic mode, void of any real emotions. All I kept thinking is how to lie to the police, and make them think that this was an attempted robbery
I will say anything but the truth, the truth that Osman WAS very much involved with them! They will wait for him to recover and then lock him away for years, and I just do not have the heart to make him go through that

He has already lost his dad right in front of his eyes, and paid his dues. He changed from an arrogant rich boy into a humble man in a month, if he survives this imagine how good he can be!
I 100% believe that Osman has a beautiful soul, he has proven to me time and time again what a good person he is. He restored my confidence, when Ayman bashed it to pieces.
He never made me feel like it was my fault, when I confessed the rape to him! He was so sweet and understanding, and that was even before his Iman soared.
He is just got so much more to give to the world, Ya Allah save my husband for me
They say people who are sick or ill are in immense pain and agony, I disagree.
What about the loved ones, who have to watch the person they love the most suffer and there is NOTHING they can do to erase their pain?

I have watched my dad suffer, and I wished and wished I could do ANYTHING to take his pain away. I am willing to go through all of that once more for Osman.
I just pray that at least he opens his eyes, watching him attached to tubes and lifeless body is heartbreaking. I keep looking at his eyes for signs of any blinks, but nothing.
Those eyes that could tell me what he is feeling and thinking without saying the words, now shut possibly forever
The doctor who operated on him to get the bullet out, said it JUST missed his heart by a few centimetres He said that because Osman is fit and healthy, it is helping a great deal in keeping him alive.
He told me that they have done all they can, and now it is up to him if he can fight this and wake up.
I do not believe that, it is up to Allah (SWT) to help my husband. It is all up to The All Merciful Allah (SWT).
So I reach for Osman’s hand, and I fall asleep my head resting on the side of his bed__

Osman
I try to open my eyes, but I feel like I am in a dream. Everything seems so cloudy, and I feel SO groggy
Where am I?? And why are there wires coming out from every inch of my body? I start to panic, and try to move.
But as I move I feel pain searing through my whole body, and I slump back to my pillow. I also feel someone’s soft and damp hands, and I squeeze it to see if I’m dreaming or not
The person jerks and comes to vision. It takes me several seconds to realize that the face belongs to Shaimaa!

“What is going on? Where am I?” I ask hoarsely.
“Shuuush, don’t try to speak. I’m gonna get someone” She says it softly, her eyes visibly red.

Before I could grab her hand again, and ask her what is going on she runs. She runs and she leaves me confused, I try and remember how I ended up here but my head feels heavy somehow

Where is my mum and dad?? And then it comes back__
It all comes back rushing to my brain_
My dad was lying unconscious on the floor, I was hugging him and John and Kevin and Amber and the shooting__
It is all coming back so quickly, that I find myself slipping back to sleep just as quick_______________________

*A day later*

I open my eyes to see Shaimaa and my mum sitting on the left side of my bed, clutching each other’s hand with their eyes closed.
I just watch them, and then I try to move myself when I become fully aware that the pain is coming from my back.

“Osman Manawa (my son) don’t move please. You’re so fragile, I’m right here” Says my mum, her eyes blotchy red.
“Mum, my dad mum. My dad__” I don’t get to finish my sentence when she puts her hands on my lips.
“There’s no need to say anything, Shaimaa told me everything. You didn’t shoot your dad son” She tells me and I can clearly see the devastation of losing my dad in her eyes

“But they came for me__if I wasn’t involved none of this would have happened” I say it with a teary voice.
“I’m gonna go get the nurse” Says Shaimaa, and she leaves the room.
“Shaimaa wait, are the police here?” I ask hoping the answer is yes, because I want to go to jail and rot in there
“I really have to go get the nurse Osman” She tells me before going outside so fast, that I do not get a chance to protest.
“Osman, the police are not here but they will need to get your statement at some point when you’re recovered Inshallah” Starts my mum “Shaimaa told them that it was a break and entry, so they won’t arrest you”
“She did it to save you” She finishes telling me with such kindness and concern in her voice, that it makes me feel ten times worse
“I have to be arrested Ma, I have to pay for what I did” I insist on paying for my dad’s death
“DON’T EVER SAY THAT, DO YOU HEAR ME? I’ve lost your dad, and I CANNOT lose you too! I need you now more than ever to get through this” She says it tearfully “I cannot get through the funeral, and the Idda (mourning period) alone. I have no man now, you can’t leave me and Shaimaa alone. I won’t allow you!” She says it firmly.

“I’m going to stay at my sister’s house for 4 months and 10 days, to complete my Idda there. I can’t go back to the house, We’ll sell it and get a new place Inshallah. I can’t go back to where it all happened” She tells me holding my face in her hands

I did not say anything, but the thoughts in my head are killing me. I do not deserve to be out here free, I deserve to rot in jail for the things I did!
How can anyone get over this guilt and pain? How can you get over the fact that you were never nice to you father, and one day he is gone without saying how much you appreciated their hard work???
I wanted to, I started to but I still did not say it! I was never good with words, I should have told him. Now he is gone, and he will never know.
He will never know how much I have come to love him, and appreciate him

He will never know__

Shaimaa
Subhanallah, your whole life you hear about death. But facing it first hand is another issue. Seeing Fifi in a white clothing from head to toe is so heartbreaking! She looks so sad and vulnerable
I am helping with the funeral, which is being held at her sister’s house with all the family and friends sleeping in the same house! I am here, but all I could think of is how Osman is doing at the hospital all alone!

I visit him as much as I can, and every time I see the shine in his eyes dimming. He is in such a bad place, that I do not think anyone can get him out of it
I wish there is something I can do to help him, but I think this is the one time that Osman needs to figure out a way for himself and whenever he is ready

My dad is beyond devastated, when I called to let him know the news he was so heartbroken that he could not speak. I am trying so hard to keep it together, but I feel that this is just one too big of a thing for me to deal with
May Allah help me, Osman, my dad and Fifi to get through this_________________

Osman
I feel so numb. I could not even bury my own dad, because I was in the hospital
Now I am out of the hospital, I am staying with my mum in my aunty’s house for the duration of Idda. Seeing my mum dressed in her Idda clothes, makes this whole thing very real indeed
I cannot look her in the eye, knowing that if I did not bring them in my life, this nightmare would not have been so real.
But I somehow manage to get through the 4 months and 10 days of the Idda, it is over. The people have gone home, and now it is just me and my mum in the room.

Now my actions becomes a reality. I have unknowingly joined a gang, out of boredom. I have unknowingly brought them so close to the people I love, because of my stupidity
I do not know if I will ever get over this, I do not know if the nightmares will ever stop appearing! I cannot think straight, I do not feel like doing anything any more.
The police came and took my statement, and I told them what my mum wanted me to say. Even though I would have preferred to have gone to prison and pay for what I did, but my mum and Shaimaa need me.

Oh poor Shaimaa! Doing all the helping and the cooking. I do not know what I did to deserve someone like that in my life
She is better off without me! The funny thing is, I say that but the reality is I cannot live without her in my life.
I NEED to go back to the house and face it, I need to see the place where my dad died. I need to do that for my sanity, I need to see and feel the pain.

I just need to__

Shaimaa

Osman insisted in visiting the house to get closure. I decided to come with him, as I cannot let him come here alone
We are inside the living room where it all happened. The whole place have been cleaned, but the scars from the night are still engraved in every inch of the house.
Osman stands at the spot where his dad was shot and he does not move. He stands there for several minutes silent, before I decide to get him out of his trance.

“Osman, come and sit down please” I urge him to sit on the sofa.

He sits, and then he spots a luggage. He starts opening it frantically, and picks up clothes from it.
The luggage belongs to my uncle Khalifa He smells the clothes, and weeps. He hugs it, and cries.
I just feel speechless. Have you ever seen a man crying? It is so heartbreaking to see a man cry! Men do not normally cry, it must take something huge for them to show this side of emotion.
As he was hugging the clothes, something falls on the floor. A letter, it looks like a hand written letter
Osman opens it and reads it out loud, I sit next to him on the floor and listen.

Dear Osman,

I’m writing this letter to my son Osman. There are so many things I wanted to tell you, but never could.

I wanted to tell you how proud I am for the man you have become in your stay in Egypt. I wanted to tell you, how happy I was on the day of your birth. I wanted to tell you that I’m sorry if I ever criticized you, I knew no other way my son. I wish I have known different but I didn’t. You’re probably wondering why I’m writing this letter instead of talking to you. I’m writing this letter because I have Dementia, a disease killing my brain slowly. I’m making a habit of writing things down in case I have an episode of a mini stroke, and I forget. I hope I get to speak to you personally, but if I didn’t, it means I had an episode. 

I have also written this letter to clear a few misunderstanding you might come across. I have made a will leaving Shaimaa with everything, she is the owner of everything I own. I have done that in a moment of despair, when I thought you could waste all my hard work if you ever got your hands on the will. I have done that before I’ve seen the change in you son, so please forgive me. As soon as I come back to England I’ll sort it out Inshallah. You don’t know how proud I am of you son, please keep up the good work you have achieved on your stay here.

Love,

Your dad.

I just sit here speechless, not knowing any kind of words that could console a weeping Osman
He puts his hand on his head, and starts repeating
“How do you get over something like this? Can someone explain this to me? How can you get over someone like this?”

I could not think of any other story but this story__the story of Ammar Ibn Yasser (RAA). So I took his hands in mine and I recalled the story to him.

Ammar (RAA) was born in Mecca. While he was lucky to be free from childhood onwards, his parents had to endure the hardship of slavery.

Their first owner was a man named Abu Huzaifah, but upon his death they were later handed over to Abu Jahl, who was a leader of Mecca, but known to be cruel and a pagan idol-worshipper. He is notable in Islamic history for being a real enemy to the nascent Muslim group. Although Ammar and his parents were brought up in the time of pagan idolatry, Ammar was one of the first people of Mecca to accept Muhammad’s (pbuh) message of monotheism, known as Islam.

He became extremely devoted to Muhammad (pbuh) and was steadfast in trying to spread the message, at great cost to himself.The day Ammar accepted Islam, his father Yasir had a dream. He later told Ammar’s mother that he saw himself in a valley. On one side of the mountain it was split and fire ran accross the divide. On the other side of the fire was a garden where he saw Ammar and Sumaya.

They were calling to him, and in his dream, he crossed it. Sumaya interpreted it as extremely significant because Ammar had returned home that very day telling them the words of Muhammad (pbuh) and quoting parts of the Qur’an. Yassir and his wife decided to accept Muhammad’s message of Islam, saying it was a fulfillment of that dream. Ammar’s brother Abdullah also accepted Islam, which made them the first family of Mecca to do so. 

When the Meccans heard that they all accepted Islam, they were furious. Especially the tribe of Banu Makhzoum, the tribe that helped Yasir move into Mecca. The reason was because Islam was a threat to the entire way of life in Mecca. The Ka’aba was a place of over 300 idols, one for every day of the year. People from all over the Arab world came to worship there, turning Mecca into a major trading center, and the money flowing through it made the families there rich.

Abandoning all these idols and worshipping just One God in a class-less religion would shake their economy and whole way of life.

Abu Jahl was a cousin of the tribe, and he gathered the young people together to do something about this outrage. In spite of the refusal of the tribe’s elder, they plundered Yasir’s house, set fire to all their goods, and chained the whole family up. They were taken outside of Mecca to where slaves were punished and were beaten.

They were stretched accross the burning sun of the desert, and heavy blocks of stone were put on top of them. Their howls of pain could be heard in Mecca, to discourage anyone else from becoming Muslim or following Muhammad (pbuh).

Muhammad’s heart (pbuh) went out to Ammar and his family when he saw the pain that the idolatrous Meccans were inflicting on them. To ease this pain the Prophet would continuously say to them:

“Patience oh family of Yassir, for you are destined for Paradise.” (Sahih al-Tirmidhi, v5, p233)

Ammar grew up into a man watching his parents in misery. This naturally caused him a great deal of sorrow. There were times when Ammar would weep at the suffering of his parents. The Prophet (pbuh) would console him and pray for the family. One fateful day, Abu Jahl struck Sumaya a cruel blow and stabbed her to death, in front of her husband Yasir and her son Ammar. It was in this fashion that she became the first martyr of Islam, known as a “shaheed.”

Ammar himself did not escape punishment; he witnessed her die while he himself was being tortured and was once branded on the back. Abu Jahl returned and killed Yasir and Abdullah. Then Abu Jahl turned to Ammar, with his family dead, and tortured him until he forced Ammar under pain and duress to say horrible curses upon Muhammad (pbuh) and deny his faith in Islam.

Full of regret, he ran to Muhammad (pbuh) crying, telling him of what had happened and what he had said. Muhammad asked him if in his heart he meant anything they made him say. He said never, that in his heart he still believed in Allah even though they forced him to say otherwise. Muhammad (pbuh) comforted Ammar, and not only told him that God forgave him, but he told Ammar that if the disbelievers were to torture him again, he should again deny his faith in public. It is said that another verse from the Qur’an was immediately revealed in response to this:

Any one who, after accepting faith in God, utters Unbelief,- except under compulsion, his heart remaining firm in Faith – but such as open their breast to Unbelief, on them is Wrath from God, and theirs will be a dreadful Penalty.(16:106)

When other Muslims criticized Ammar, calling him a disbeliever, Muhammad (pbuh) replied “No, indeed Ammar is full of faith from head to toe.” 1 Other sayings include “Ammar is with the truth and truth is with Ammar. He turns wherever the truth turns”, and “Ammar is all faith”.

I finish recalling the story to him, and he seems to have calmed finally. He stays quiet for a few minutes before saying
“Will you help me get over this dark pain in my heart? Will you promise me that whenever I feel like I can’t take it anymore, you will be there to bring me back to reality?”
“Why do you want me to do that Osman?” I ask him gently.
“Because I love you. I have loved you for a very long time, but the time was never right” He finally says it
“I couldn’t be anywhere else” I reply tearfully.
“And can you promise me one more thing?” He asks sweetly.
“Anything” I reply.
“Can you let me be involved in my kids’ lives? Can you allow me to be there every step of the way? I wanna do the 4 O’clock feeding, and all. I wanna take them to the park, football practice and if Allah blesses us with a girl I want her to learn Martial arts so she can protect herself. Can you let me be involved in all that?” He asks with a big smile as he imagines his life with me
“I will hold you to that Inshallah” I answer him giggling

*5 years later*

He did all those things he promised me. He was there holding my hands, when I gave birth to our kids. Two boisterous boys, and one girl. He is more than a dad to them, always talking to them and teaching them.

Osman went back to study, after hearing the story of Ammar Ibn Yasser (RAA). He wanted to learn his deen properly, he wanted to feel the hardship our Prophet (SAW) went through to get Islam where it is. He also wanted to gain knowledge, so he can share this with the kids in his youth centre.

I went to the lawyers office and returned everything back to Osman. And he did not disappoint in transforming his dad’s once debt ridden business, into a flourishing one. He worked day and night introducing new ideas, expanding and it all paid off in the end.

Osman is helping kids who are in gangs, he works with the police by taking them in his youth centre and educating them about gang life. If a phone rings in the middle of the night and he is needed at a police station, he doesn’t hesitate to be there whatever time it is.

But life is not always easy. Sometimes I would wake up in the middle of the night, and I would see Osman covered in sweats having a flashback of what happened to him. I would patiently wait and wait until he is ready to come out of his shell, in his own time. But these nightmares are moving further and further away Alhamdulilah.

We also split our times between here and Egypt. We got the inheritance money, and my dad bought a house with all the necessary equipment to make his life easy Alahmdulilah. And tonight is a rare night I get to spend with my husband alone. He is taking me to a benefit concert organized by an Islamic charity in Aid of the draught in Africa. We have reserved a box, so we can properly enjoy it. The whole night is so beautiful, and when I catch my husband looking at me I know that he is saying I love you in his heart

A guy is about to give a speech, when something very interesting happens. He looks over at a box not far away form us, and he stumbles on his words. We all look over and see a beautiful girl dressed in the most amazing green Abaya.

We see her running off with an old lady going after her. The guy sees this, and he calls out through his microphone.

“Sister please wait, I need your wali’s number” But she does not stop.

I can just imagine what is going to happen next. Can you? 


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I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below! :)

Feb 14, 2014

Short Story: The true love that lies within

Bismillah


My husband is an Engineer by profession, I love him for his steady nature, and I love the warm feeling when I lean against his broad shoulders.

Two years into marriage, I would have to admit that I am getting tired of it. The reasons of me loving him before, have now transformed into the cause of all my restlessness.

I am a sentimental woman and extremely sensitive when it comes to a relationship and my feelings, I yearn for the romantic moments, like a little girl yearning for candy. My husband is my complete opposite, his lack of sensitivity, and the inability of bringing romantic moments into our marriage has disheartened me about love.

One day, I finally decided to tell him my decision, that I wanted a divorce.

“Why?” he asked, shocked. “I am tired, there are no reasons for everything in the world!” I answered. He kept silent the whole night, seemed to be in deep thought with a lighted cigarette at all times. My feeling of disappointment only increased, here was a man who cannot even express his predicament, what else can I hope from him? And finally he asked me:” What can I do to change your mind?”

Somebody said it right, it is hard to change a person’s personality, and I guess, I have started losing faith in him. Looking deep into his eyes I slowly answered : “Here is the question, if you can answer and convince my heart, I will change my mind, Let’s say, I want a flower located on the face of a mountain cliff, and we both are sure that picking the flower will cause your death, will you do it for me?” He said "I will give you your answer tomorrow….” My hopes just sank by listening to his response.

I woke up the next morning to find him gone, and saw a piece of paper with his scratchy handwriting, underneath a milk glass, on the dining table near the front door, that goes…. "My dear, I would not pick that flower for you, but please allow me to explain the reasons further..” This first line was already breaking my heart. I continued reading.

“When you use the computer you always mess up the software programs, and you cry in front of the screen, I have to save my fingers so that I can help to restore the programs. You always leave the house keys behind, thus I have to save my legs to rush home to open the door for you. You love traveling but always lose your way in a new city, I have to save my eyes to show you the way. You always have the cramps whenever your 'good friend' approaches every month, I have to save my palms so that I can calm the cramps in your tummy.

You like to stay indoors, and I worry that you will be infected by infantile autism. I have to save my mouth to tell you jokes and stories to cure your boredom. You always stare at the computer, and that will do nothing good for your eyes, I have to save my eyes so that when we grow old, I can help to clip your nails, and help to remove those annoying white hairs. So I can also hold your hand while strolling down the beach, as you enjoy the sunshine and the beautiful sand… and tell you the colour of flowers, just like the colour of the glow on your young face… Thus, my dear, unless I am sure that there is someone who loves you more than I do… I could not pick that flower yet, and die.. ”

My tears fell on the letter, and blurred the ink of his handwriting… and as I continued reading… “Now, that you have finished reading my answer, if you are satisfied, please open the front door for I am standing outside bringing your favourite bread and fresh milk…" I rushed to pull open the door, and saw his anxious face, clutching tightly with his hands, the milk bottle and loaf of bread….

Now I am very sure that no one will ever love me as much as he does, and I have decided to leave the flower alone…

That is life, and love. When one is surrounded by love, the feeling of excitement fades away, and one tends to ignore the true love that lies in between the peace and dullness.


I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below!