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Sep 30, 2014


By Syed Faraz Luqman

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Day 7: Ramadhan 26st 1433 / August 14th 2012 

The Final leg begins. Last 4-5 days. I will not say that time here has flown by. Alhamdulillah, here, everything has been slower, and that is an amazing thing. I've been able to slow down considerably.

I guess whenever we say, “Ramadhan has flown by”, it’s a sign that we let our busy lives keep us from benefiting from the power and grace of Allah in this month. A 6/hour day job can also lead to an overall complacency citing “tiredness”. We tend to forget that people work the whole day, hungry, so that they can afford one square meal that day.

My health is ok. The phone re-charged was a nice thing. Spoke to mom dad after a while today. Mom’s worried (read teary) that I might not be getting enough food.
2 days ago I was again blessed with a quarter Arabic quboos and a cheese triangle.
Yesterday someone stood by the corridor and passed out sulaimani chai and today I got milk chai (tea). I was full of glee at that.

The realization dawns that there are so many simple joys of life that I've been taking for granted. My simple meals here show me how much I really need to get along as opposed to how much my greed wants.

Since it’s the night of the 27th fast, the crowd here today is phenomenal. Tried to make a nafil tawaf but couldn't complete more than 2 rounds in about 20 mins. So I returned to my seat or else would have missed isha in my spot.

Noted one interesting thing today. When people learn that I'm Indian, they show extreme happiness. They are very pleased and are very patient with my handicap with Arabic. Not just Baba, Ali and Mamajaan, but others too. I made a new friend in Taufiq (from Ethiopia) He is very patient and even tries hard to translate a few words in English for my sake. It is a very nice transition from the usual response I get (be it in UAE, Qatar, Europe etc)…which is more or less “Oh…another one.” Not that they get mean or evil at me but the warmth is not there.

Here on the other hand, I'm treated like a brother…and I just done mean the word superficially. I would say that the place makes them be nice, but I guess you can always identify inherent kindness…it shines with a rare glow that transcends circumstance.
By the way, mamajaan’s real name is Haji Yusuf. He gave me his number in Saudi and asked me to catch him up if I return next year.

Taufiq invited me to Addis Ababa and said he’ll show me around. InshaAllah.
The Ethiopians are really a warm sort. No wonder the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam chose their land as a refuge to the persecuted early Muslims.

Met my brother Zeeshan. It is a strange and beautiful coincidence that I somehow got in touch with him and he was coming right this night to perform Umrah. Met him outside in the courtyard for a few minutes. Was very nice to see him mashaAllah so grown up.

Qu’ran recitation update: Reached Surah Ad-dhariyaat (No. 51)

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

Sep 29, 2014

Bringing In Fall - Part 2

By Anum Ali

Part 1


The Holiday Season

The best bit about the cold season is that it is the holiday season as well. This means two things: food and family, that both come in all shapes and sizes!

Though Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are all non-Muslim festivities, they bring in holidays and good food for all of us, Alhamdulillah. So you need to think about where you will get your caramel apples from and how you will brew your apple cider at home. You cannot deny the food lovers in your family a juicy, stuffed, Halal turkey either. The idea is to plan out a variety of menus for your loved ones in Fall. Try out the exclusive fruits and vegetables of the season. Allah (swt) has created these gifts and hidden remedies in them to combat the harmful effects of each season. 

A brilliant kitchen reading I would recommend, right off my own kitchen counter, is Medicine of the Prophet, an English translation of Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya’s work. It lists down properties, advantages and disadvantages of various foods and how they can be utilized for healing. I learned from there that gourds e.g. pumpkins and bottle gourds are the most harmless foods, honey when added to milk can neutralize its ill effects, and milk itself can soothe mental disturbances. The book is a must have to plan your meals according to the Sunnah. So next time when you use ginger and garlic, you’d know that unless you cook them fully they harm your digestive system!

The Spirit of Giving

Remember that as we Fall Clean our cozy homes, there are the poor and the needy out there living in shelters, orphanages, old homes, and even on the streets who could use some of our generosity. It is pointless to hoard worn out sweaters, old blankets, faded bedding, and out-sized socks and mufflers when you could donate them to warm somebody in the chilly season. Launder what you don’t need, make an effort to locate the nearest non-profit organization and enjoy the warm feeling of giving away in the cold season.

Leaving You with a Creative Thought

Never stop being productive no matter what season it may be. I take on photography to capture the beautiful scenes Allah (swt) shows us in this season. The pink and gold skies after Fajr, the crispy leaves, and the gorgeous full moons are a must to capture on camera. You can indulge into cooking and enjoying the exotic, flavorful Fall. If you happen to visit craft stores in your area, you’d come across some really good Fall crafts like knitting woolen goodies, weaving straw baskets, making scarecrows, and etc. It is always a memorable seasonal experience when you are creative and involve your family members into activities as well.

Happy Fall everyone!

Leave your thoughts about fall cleaning in the comments section below :)

Sep 28, 2014


By Syed Faraz Luqman

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Day 6: Ramadhan 25st 1433 / August 13th 2012

Met my friend Taoufik just a while ago. He’s come from Germany with his sister for Umrah. May Allah accept his journey and ibadah inshaAllah. Gave him my cellphone to get charged from his hotel, inshaAllah.

Day was fairly regular. My mind and body have adapted fully to the sleep cycle, environment, people and diet. 6 days since meat, vegetables or rice. Yes it is not long I know but the fact that I'm not missing any of them is baffling. The craving did occur yesterday and today for a few minutes. The thoughts of returning home to gorge on Biryani or warm roti was a small imagination of heaven in a way. And then the reality hit me.

Ramadhan is a time to remind (or teach) us how the poor people feel without food. For them, the time or month is irrelevant. Food is still scarce. The entire exercise of reminding and feeling the pangs of destitute is a waste if you return to gorging yourself the day it ends. This is a test run, a demo…to remind you that there are people out there, who have to spend their entire lives living a life which I've been living these few days. If this training cannot change me, don’t know what will.

The desire to do something more in life is getting stronger.
I don’t want to make promises I will break.
Or commitments I wont be able to honour.
Whatever I do, however I do it, should be done it its entirety. If I cannot honour it well, my life and my lesson here is a failure and has to be repeated…..more strictly.
In light of all of this, my personal problems seem so small and insignificant. I am ashamed that I (we) worry so much about absurd little stuff which is so inconsequential when there are much bigger issues to dwell upon.

My neighbour for Qiyam Al Layl yesterday was a brother from Burma. Initially I thought he was Mongolian due to his features but he said he was from Burma and my heart melted. The situation in Rohingya is beyond horrid. The words cannot express the torment of my brothers sisters and children in that troubled land. I could see it in his eyes. I wanted to hug my brother and tell him I loved him and I prayed for our brothers and sisters back home, for their peace and their forgiveness and to deliver them from all tribulations…but what confidence do I put in my sinful duas…And what confidence could I give him?

Sheikh Sudais mentions Burma with Palestine and Syria in his witr dua. Yesterday his dua was especially heart rending. More so upon my brother beside me. When he made dua for the mercy upon our brothers and sisters in Burma, I could feel my brother beside me break down in tears. It didn’t take more than a few seconds for me to feel his pain quiver in my heart. I didn't have the courage to ask him if his family members were in Rohingya. Later he told me that his immediate family was with him in Makkah.

After Qiyam he invited me home for suhoor in the most beautiful manner. He took my hand in his and looked into my eyes with a smile and said, “Aaj aap mere mehmaan baniye” (Please be my guest at my home today). I was touched. Beyond touched, I was numb..

The true character a person possesses is the indestructible persona which always shines through the day-to-day layers of pain, affliction, misery, pride, sadness, success, failure or anger. Just a few minutes after having cried his heat out in the prayer for his torn home, his burning country and countrymen, he wipes his eyes and opens his heart with hospitality.

A religion of hate indeed !!

I told him I'm bound by the masjid’s boundaries of Itekaaf. He was very happy to hear and then requested me to pray for his country. He looked away and in a choking voice said, “Mera mulk bohot takleef mein hai…Dua kijiye” (My land is in a lot of pain..please pray for us)

I don’t have anymore to write.
I cannot think.

Allahumma ansuril Islaam wal Muslimeen 
Oh Allah, Help Islam and the Muslims. 

Qu’ran Recitation Update: Reached Surah Fatir (No. 38)

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

Sep 27, 2014


By Syed Faraz Luqman

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Day 5: Ramadhan 24st 1433 / August 12th 2012 

Havent spoken much to mom dad yet. Due to the low phone battery, all I could manage was turning it on for about a minute each day to see dad’s sms and close it again.

As of today morning, I’ve reached a ceasefire agreement with my nose but my throat keeps threatening to keep the rebellion alive. I don’t recognize my voice anymore, but that I guess, is also due to the fact that I’ve not heard it very often in the past 4-5 days.

Baba also isn't feeling much well. He leaves in the nights and comes back during the noon. Ali also keeps popping in and out. Mamajaan (Ethiopian uncle) is awesome. Makes sure the iftar serving team gives me attention even if I'm away or busy praying. He makes sure my iftar is complete with enough water, labaan and gavah (strong Arabic coffee). Today he was offered juice by 2 young Ethiopian brothers in the front saff, he offered it on to me. I refused and he forced me to drink it like a parent forces a 3-4 year old toddler.

The Arabic language (and my lacking ability in it) keeps me isolated. Its evident I don’t speak it but men like Baba, Ali and Mamajaan don't look at it as a problem. 2 new friends. Ibrahim and Hussain. Ibrahim is a young man from Saudi I believe, had a very nice conversation with him. In Arabic. Yet I understood 55% of his words and 90% of his meaning. He was advising me in deen and also advised me to learn Arabic to understand the Qu’ran. How I wish I could tell him how desperate I was to learn it too.

Hussain is the guy you all know, the one who’s full of life, smiles and always helping everyone he sees. He has a beautiful 1 year old daughter Tasneem, whose picture he carries in his phone.
Both these new friends asked if I was married. They were surprised I wasn't and said they would pray hard for me to get wed soon. Haha !!

The drive inside me is changing. There is a slow desire picking flame to be more than what I am.
I realized my life is very ordinary. I work and study for a prospect of a better job, to have a family, live a life of comfort. Have kids who will grow up under mom dad’s shade. When I die, I don't think I’ll have made any worthwhile contribution to this world…not this way.

Need to do something which will help me and my family in Aqirah. Its not a favour on the world as much as it’s a favour I'll be doing on myself and my loved ones. I don't know how, but I know I cannot continue living like this.

Thoughts of joining any organization are inviting but there is more that I wish to do.
Life should be more…much much more.

I will not be content if I have not lived more than the ordinary. Not after the superlative blessings Allah has bestowed me with.

On my way back from the nafil tawaaf yesterday, I saw a janaza (dead body) Was walking a bit too fast through a crowd so didn't see it well enough.

Today…I saw 4. It was chilling up to my spine. I realized as I stood and saw the 4 strangers who’d passed on to a better life in such a beautiful month, that I should be there in that shroud someday (maybe today, maybe tomorrow…Allah knows better)

But am I ready to die? Is my left shoulder heavier with the filled books of my sins than my right shoulder?
The words rang true in my head, “Remember death often, the destroyer of all pleasures”
The illusion of an everlasting life in this world should be shattered.
But the bigger illusion of living long enough to fulfil all desires (of the nafs) and then beg for forgiveness and THEN do your duties for the deen to become a true muslim in the greying age, that illusion should be nuked.

“Allahumma innaka afu’wun tuhibbul afwa fa’fuanni”

My Lord, you verily love to forgive, so please forgive me. 


Qu’ran recitation Update: Reached Surah Furqan (No. 25)

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

Sep 25, 2014


By Syed Faraz Luqman

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Day 4: Ramadhan 23st 1433 / August 11th 2012 

“Sometimes there is no better therapy than a deep, long, heartfelt cry”

My nose is a war-zone right now. A war-zone after ceasefire. The cold started a couple of nights ago, possibly due to the wuzu made with cold zamzam at the taps. Yesterday it was pretty heavy on me. Tissues borrowed from neighbours didn't survive more than a few seconds of my onslaught. For lack of better options, my used Ihram is on handkerchief duty until further notice.

Friday taraweeh was fine. Crowded but fine. Didn't get much sleep to start with.
The Ethiopian uncle went to the hotel on Friday night. Came back today noon. After Asr today he went out to the supermarket and brought extra stuff for everyone in our saff. He brought laban, olives and cheese for everyone, and as a special treat to me, he brought me a small bottle of juice. I smiled, thanked and refused as politely as I could but he gave me a stare and mumbled in pretence anger and stuffed the bottle in my hand, made a shhhh noise and forced me to drink it. He’s pampering me like a papa bear.

During yesterday night’s Qiyam al Layl though, I started feeling weird. My nose was already on high mutiny, my eyes joined in and as soon as I stood for salaah and closed my eyes in qiyam, I felt a wave of heat in my eyes. Immediately they began watering. It wasn't tears, it was like a hot fever had hit my eyes and they were tearing up to cool them. A slight headache joined in and I felt faint. I thought it was because of the lack of sleep. As the prayers progressed, the pain went from bad to worse. I felt like energy was being drained out of my head and wanted to rush to the washroom, no idea why.

After the 6th rakaah I almost ran, but then stayed listening to the voice in my head. Maybe it would get better. It didn't.

From 7th rakaat to the 10th, it got still worse. When Witr started, I was ready to faint and crash. I was sure it was evident because both Baba and Ali were looking at me with concern and asking me if I was okay. I begged Allah for no fever..not here..not now.. I stood there unsteadily in salaah and tried to pay attention as much as possible.. my eyes were burning, my nose was irritated and my head was spinning.

And then the Imam went into ruku, stood up and began the duas, and in a few seconds I broke down into a torrent of tears. The mad rush of tears which were partly conscious (towards the duas) and partly unconscious (from the uneasiness gripping my body) kept me on my feet. As soon as the Salaams were done, I felt a wave of relief pass over me. Like someone had lifted a hot blanket off me just as a cool breeze washed in. I felt calm, composed and my illness, whatever it was, had subsided. All thanks to the lord of the worlds.

I slept peacefully after Fajr. A few minutes before Zuhr azaan sounded, I woke to the smiling faces of 2 Indonesian brothers. One of them, for no apparent reason, whipped out a camphor oil and rubbed it on my hand and told me with a smile to smell it. That was heavy heavy stuff. I felt the irritating blockages clear from my nose all the way to my throat. I looked at the oil, it was an aromatherapy oil from their home country. I didn't even tell them I needed it, I'm sure they didn't even know I needed it…but for some strange reason, they gave it to me, I used it and it worked like a charm.

This place is wonderful in every sense of the word. SubhanAllah.

I thanked the brothers. They were from a place called Reoh in Indonesia, I told them I was from India…and in response to that, they looked at me with a big smile, pointed at me and said, “You are Shahrukkaaahn”

I laughed at the ridiculous comparison and of him being all they knew about India. They left after taraweeh. MashaAllah…Allah sends help in the most beautiful and unexpected ways.

After my special iftar today, I went to the mataaf area for a nafil tawaaf which I’d been putting off for awhile. It was really crowded but saw some amazing acts of kindness amidst it all.

- People were spraying the tired and sweating faithful with cool zamzam from the outer perimeter of the tawaaf
- Some pilgrims were walking around the tawaaf area just picking up thrown tissues and date seeds and plastic cups
- Some people quietly handing in money to the cleaning staff who were walking around in the tawaaf too cleaning as they go
- People helping older people whom they don’t even know.
- Old people and children locked in the same energetic trance of worship as the younger ones.

Its nice to see the people treating the masjid with respect and personal affection mashaAllah.

Witnessed something amazing after this.
It was probably my 2nd or 3rd round. Through the crowd I noticed a small clearing ahead and one African gentleman with a yellow prayer cap was in the middle of it. As I passed him I saw that he was blind. He was performing tawaaf alone..with his cane tapping about…Blind !! A few people tried to hold his hands, offering to help him complete the tawaaf. He smiled and refused and said he was fine. And let go of the hands and carried on..alone.
The thought is still driving me crazy.

The area of tawaaf (mataaf area) is deep inside the masjid. How he got through the city, through the massive courtyard, through 2-3 massive hall layers to get into the mataaf area baffles me beyond all known reason. Even in the mataaf area, the tawaaf begins from a specific point in the circle and ends there…and this place is completely filled to the brim with people from all over the world..

Here’s a man, blind, weak and frail of old age, praying and thanking Allah through a high form of worship, which he can skip owing to his disability. But he chooses not even to acknowledge the disability, going so far as to refusing help of willing people who’d gladly help him throughout the whole tawaaf and continuing his prayers. I had tears of shame at how, despite being blessed with a good pair of eyes, I lacked the piety, gratitude, determination and a smiling face in the face of what I’m sure he regards, is a minor setback… Wow!

And just to knock this lesson deeper home, after a couple more rounds, I saw another clearing but this time didn't see anyone in the middle of clearing. I heard a grinding sound and looked down to see a man, with no legs, sitting on a skate board with 2 cogs in his hands to propel himself forward, reciting duas as he performs his tawaf. He made the ubiquitous call of “Tareek tareek (an expression to excuse yourself or make way for you)”. He looked up at me as I stepped aside, smiled at me and said, “BarakAllah feek” (a way to say, Bless you) and slid away chanting prayers and smiling.

He was hardly 2 feet and easily stood a chance of being trampled, kicked or knocked off the board, but he doesn't give up. He pushes through and prays. It ashamed me further and no less thankful not just for a pair of eyes, but legs as well.

Again, this man got through from the city streets, through the hallways, found ways around the many stairs and hundreds and thousands of people to come and pay his dues.

Sheer awesome piety. I wonder what a man should go through mentally, physically and emotionally to get that level of piety, obedience and gratitude to Allah. To look life’s seemingly unfair terms and still be grateful, hopeful and filled with love for his Lord.

And here I was, feeling good about myself for standing through one night of prayer with what wasn't even a small fever.

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

Sep 23, 2014


By Syed Faraz Luqman

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Day 2: Ramadhan 21st 1433 / August 9th 2012 
After the Qiyam al Layl, got up and looked for a place to set up base. Found one in the A/C block right behind where I was praying. Found an open space so put my small bag on the floor as a pillow and fell asleep. I was almost immediately woken up by an azaan at about 3:30 am. I had retained a small cheese bun which someone had given so rushed to make wuzu and eat my suhoor. But people kept eating after the azaan was long over. And then I realized fajr wasn't for another hour plus, the first Azaan was the azaan for Tahajjud.

Rest of the day went smoothly. Slept until Zuhr after Fajr. This was the schedule I was also advised by Dad to keep; to sleep during the long gap between Fajr and Zuhr and if possible, a bit of a nap between zuhr and asr. When I woke up for Zuhr, I was joined by some brothers from Kerala on my right and some Arab brothers on my left.

At Taraweeh yesterday and today, I noticed elderly men beside me. They might be Indian or Bangladeshi, but it was endearing to see them cry their hearts out during the taraweeh prayers. They understood the Qu’ran. I felt so left out. My brothers were better muslims than I was because they understood the Qu’ran. The Kalaam of Allah. They were understanding Him. And I wasn't  With all my degrees and scholastic achievements, I've never felt more of an illiterate than in those moments where I really wanted to cry listening to the beautiful words of the Qu’ran, but couldn't….

I haven’t been able to finish more than 1 Chapter for the major part of the Ramadhan, unfortunately. Started chapter 2 enroute to Makkah. The time here allows me to recite as much as possible and I hope to complete the Qu’ran within the days of the Itekaaf, inshaAllah.

So far, met or saw Arab brothers from around the middle east (Saudi, Egypt, Ethiopia, Palestine, Syria), Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Turks, American immigrants, Indonesian, Japanese and Chinese. I'm sure there are many many more. Amazing to see a better assembly than the ongoing Olympics. The world has gathered in London for the love of medals and the glory that goes with it.

The world has gathered in the Haram for the love of their Allah. SubhanAllah!

Day 3: Ramadhan 22nd 1433 / August 10th 2012 

Its been a usual day. The routine is setting in. The place seems to be good enough to stay. I've only stepped out for using the wash-rooms  Even for the Wuzu, I go to the nearby drinking taps which is so jammed that its crazy; you can even stand up straight. SubhanAllah.

On my way to the courtyard of the Haram, I see people sleeping on the floors, in the aisles, on the stairs (like literally with head on one stair and the rest of the body resting down the stairs). One amazing sight was seeing a Pathan Uncle who had 2 prosthetic legs. He was sleeping in the stairways too with his legs removed and kept aside. The peace on his face was beautiful.

I'm sleeping on the carpeted floor with my bag as a pillow and nothing else. No blanket, no sheets, nothing. Being the disturbed sleeper who rolls all over the place, I'm always afraid of my sudden movements in my sleep which may hurt or wake my neighbours. The place where I'm sitting is a small area between 4 pillars not more than 49 square meter in area, with 4 saffs accommodated by 6 men each approximately. So that is a total of 36 people in that area. And at least 20-25 sleep jammed together. But Alhamdulillah, Summa Alhamdulillah, I've been sleeping without much movement. And I've been getting some of the most peaceful and restful sleep in my life here without harming anyone.

No bed and mattress could be more luxurious than the floor of the Haram…
No pillow could be more comfortable than my ihrams bundled under my head…
No blanket could be more protective and cozy than the protection of Allah subhanawataala…

So far the iftars have been simple. Dates and water. Got some drinking yoghurt in addition to that. Getting into the habit of saving some dates from Iftar for Suhoor. The entire masjid is provided for during Iftars by the different sheikhs and societies. Our block is being cared for by 4-5 Sudani- Saudi boys who are working for some local sheikh to provide Iftar for the muttakifs (Those seated in Itekaaf). After Asr, they lay the dining sheets and distribute dates and water and sometimes gavah (Arabic coffee) for all in our block.

Getting to know my Arabic neighbours a bit more and am loving the camaraderie they share. Someone’s got one of those little sprays and fills it with cool zamzam to spray on the faces and heads of us all during the long taraweehs. A welcome feeling of freshness it is.

Had a little bread today with 2 olives and a cheese triangle courtesy to a brother in the end of the row who brought back extra stuff for us all from the supermarket. Alhamdulillah wa Shurkika Ya Allah.

Mobile official dead of empty battery. Tried charging on the mobile power outlet which is used for Vaccums in the masjid but the security dude went bonkers and took my extension. Tabraiz visited me and met him for a while. He got me some tea from outside. Felt awesome to taste hot tea. SubhanAllah. May Allah bless him and his family inshaAllah.

There is an Egyptian uncle who sits on my left and he has become pretty friendly with me. I communicate with him in broken Arabic. He has a distinctive cataract in his left eye (May Allah cure it soon, Aameen). But his face, beard and smile look a lot like Dad. I’ll refer to him as Baba here on. He’s probably a few years elder to dad. He has been very sweet though, correcting my mistakes in Salaah (yes, I'm ashamed too) and advising me on my beard.

The other guy I've met is Ali. A younger man. Very friendly chap. Refers to me as “Besh Muhandis” (Mr. Engineer). He always makes sure I eat a good suhoor. Not just the dates that I save, but he makes sure I eat a bun or something too.

Another superb gentleman I've met is an Ethiopian uncle. Sits on my right. He first got here after doing his Umrah. He was tired beyond words and plopped down in his ihram next to me on Friday. Since then I've watched his spot and he has watched mine as I go out for the loo. Very sweet and jolly person. He reminds me of Qalu (my uncle). Same case, he is also Arabic speaking, so we have a broken communication.

Quran Recitation Update: Chapter 11 Reached. 

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

Sep 22, 2014

Bringing In Fall - Part 1

By Anum Ali

Part 2


Sherwood green turned to vibrant yellow, the amber then glowed to a full orange, fiery burgundy followed … this is the canvas of Allah (swt); the colors of Fall season in North America and around the world. Having started from September, with a few rain showers and winds or two, Fall continues with great gifts from the Creator Himself. The harvest brings in exotic flavors in fruits and vegetables; pumpkin patches are full, the smell of cinnamon spice fills the air, and chills take over the sultry summer heat. Change is to be celebrated! Being an MBA student in human resource management, I also propose that change should be prepared for. Let’s bring in Fall, shall we?

Habibi Halaqas Style Fall Cleaning
The term ‘Spring Cleaning’ took off from countries that had cold weather. It is the practice of thoroughly cleaning a house in spring, during the first warm days, to get things in order for warm season. The Habibi Halaqas sisterhood was probably thinking of coining their own little term for the cold season, I suppose. And so, I give you the ‘HH Style Fall Cleaning’ which is aimed at helping you manage household affairs, find a creative direction, refresh your wardrobe, and rearrange your kitchen pantry to enjoy the most beautiful season of Fall, inshaAllah.

The men of the house are found boasting about their fall cleaning adventures in a tone that Tarzan would use after he’s taken on Sabor, the tiger. While their share of the workload is bigger with the amount of leaf raking, gutter cleaning, chimney dusting, and etc. that they manage, we ladies are no less than Jane of our jungle! To begin with, we know best which areas of the house need work done. As far as home management is concerned, the cleaning routines, rearrangements, and restocking is our part of the battle. It is important to maintain a checklist that reassures you and the men of the house that you are ready to enjoy the season while following hygiene and safety guidelines.

Fall Fashion for the Modest Muslimah
Fall, and winter that follows, are the most Muslimah-friendly times of the year, I say, because they make the hijabs more comfortable, and layering clothes less critical to non-Muslim eyes. In summers, I get stared at as if I’m Harry Potter with a scar on my forehead when I drape a Hijab on my head in a heat advisory.

To plan ahead, reorganize your wardrobe to stow away the very thin, sheer hijabs and bring forward the thicker Pashminas. Fortunately, there are countless online hijab stores which provide brilliant descriptions of products. Some excellently market a winter collection as well. You might want to be economic and not buy warmer jilbabs and skirts. Instead, invest in some thermal pajamas, woolen leggings, or even cotton sweatpants to go underneath. I am not too fond of hoarding huge jackets and coats upon myself, so I always layer on the inside and keep outside clothing light.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

Please leave comments in the comment section below :)

Sep 21, 2014

The Haram Diary ( Part 2 )

By Syed Faraz Luqman


Day 1: Ramadhan 20 1433 AH/ August 08 2012 Continued – 

The time for iftar approached and I stumbled to the rooftop on the 2nd floor waiting for the canon fire and the Azaan which would signal the end of the day.

I sat down amidst some brothers who had brought dates and filled some water bottles with Zamzam and had a Laban bottle also. Beautiful thing about masjids the world over, there is always provision for Iftar.

After the long and tiring day and umrah, my iftar was a handful of the finest Arabic dates and lots of ZamZam. And trust me, after all I went through today, it has been one of the best iftar’s I had ever had. Makes me wonder and think, our iftars at home are almost banquets and yet it doesn’t feel this peaceful. In the simplicity of this Iftar, I found contentment and my energy was topped up when the Iqamah for Salah was given and the voice that led the prayer was none other than Shaikh Abdul Rahman As-Sudais.

I realized that there are many reasons why we are attracted so strongly to the Haram. The Ka’bah. One of them came to me as a thought while I stood and stared at the magnificent black cube which stood here, in the middle of the uncultivable valley deep in the heart of Hijaz. This building, this house, is part of a grand legacy.

The first architect and builder of the Ka’bah was none other than Adam (A.S.). The father of mankind.

After Nuh (A.S.)’s flood, the building washed off but the foundations remained intact. These foundations were built upon by Ibrahim (A.S.) and his son Ismael (A.S.) who rebuilt it under divine inspiration from Allah.

Ibrahim (A.S.) is regarded as the first philosopher whose thoughts and wisdom was guided into the monotheistic faith amidst the Idolatry practiced in his time. He is regarded as the father of the men who would form 3 faiths or tribes. Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

His son Ismael (A.S.) (who helped him re-build the Ka’bah) is the great great grandfather of none other than Muhammad (PBUH). And Muhammad PBUH was the man in whose age the Ka’bah was re-built using stones only made from legal money, and he being the Al Ameen (The Trustworthy) of Makkah, was given the honor of placing the last part, the Hajr-Al-Aswad (The Black Stone) into its place, thereby completing the construction of the Ka’bah as we know it.

So in this I realized, that this building, this house of Allah, has been built by our fathers. From the first man and first prophet on the planet, all the way to the last Prophet and Messenger PBUH, this building has been built as milestones in the legacy of humanity.

This is our legacy. Seeing this, touching this, Praying to Allah facing it is like a bond with our legacy…with our history.

This is what was bequeathed to us by our forefathers.

After the iftar and Magrib Salah, I went to my locker, picked some clothes and my small carry bag and went to the wash-rooms below to change into an Arabic robe and tracks. The 2 cloths of my Ihram were packed inside the bag and this made a good pillow. One of the Ihram cloth would later serve as my sheet to sleep on. I made it back in time for Isha and Taraweeh and this was led by the 2 newer Imams in the Haram’s quartet. The 20 rakaats seemed really long though. And I could feel my soles turn rough as I stood there rooted in Prayer until 11 PM or so.

After the taraweeh I lay down on the same carpet I was praying on and instantly fell asleep. I woke up at about 5 minutes to 1 am and realized everyone was rushing about for wudhu. I remembered the Qiyam al Layl (The Night Prayer). Tonight is the first odd night in the last 10 days of Ramadhan. One of the 5 last odd nights where the Quran was first revealed. I ran to the nearest ZamZam well and made my wudhu. The prayer started without Iqamah. And it was led by Shaikh Saud Al Shuraim (my favorite Imam)

The Qiyam Al Layl went on for almost 2 hours. I wasn't aware that it would be 10 rakaats of prayer unlike the 20 rakaats of Taraweeh (In Dubai I think it is 8 so I didn't know)

The Qiyam al Layl was something I wasn't entirely ready for at that time. My legs were sore, my knees and soles hurt and I was tired beyond words. Yet, I stood through 8 rakaats. After that I was entirely drained and didn't want to stand up again. Then I looked to my left and saw a 60-65 year old man smile and stand for the next rakaat of prayer. I felt ashamed at my youth and I stood up too.

After the 10 Rakaats of Qiyam, I shook my head and my body told me, “Dude you are done !! you have bitten off more than you can chew. You couldn't last 10 hours here” Then I heard the Imam (Shaikh Sudais was back from Rakaat 7 onwards) stood and prayed the 3 Witr rakaats for the customary closing of the night prayer. So I knew it was almost over so I went on with it. In the final Witr rakaat, when he stood for Dua before the Sajdah, I heard his duas responded with a united cry of “Aameen” from everyone in the masjid. This loud unison of voices shakes you from your soul and you realize how desperate everyone (including the Imam) is. And you realize how desperate you are. And that is when the first tears well up. In the middle of tears and pain, I felt a connection with myself and I felt a conversation beginning with my lord. The doubt to quit which had hounded me less than 5 minutes ago, was washed away in those tears..and I realized…This is what I had come for.

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

Sep 20, 2014

The Haram Diary (Part 1)

By Syed Faraz Luqman

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It has been 5 years since my last I’tikaf in Mei’saeed Masjid in Qatar. 6 since my first.  No matter what anyone says, these 10 days of solitude change you..every time you take them.

This year I chose the best place possible for my stay. Al Masjid Al Haram (Makkah Al Mukarramah) The house of Allah (BaitAllah)

This is the centre of the (muslim) world. Both spiritually and geographically The only place where you do not see anyone pray in a straight line, but rather in concentric circles around the Ka’bah. Circles whose diameters increase as they go out around the earth.

Against Dad’s suggestions to make my I’tikaf in Madinah (Masjid an Nabawi – The Masjid of the Prophet PBUH), with my 2 cousins, I chose to be here, in the middle of more than a million people, to up my personal ante.

Dad said it would be very tough as the basic necessities so easily available in Madinah would be just as difficult. Citing my age and other similar factors, one of them being “KA’BAH”, I chose Makkah. Not to prove Dad wrong or anything. But to prove if I tried to do this, Allah would help me do it.

More than anything else, this was my Jihad. The Jihad of the Nafs (inner desire). The greatest Jihad there can be. This was my war on my own comfort, my desires to be lazy and easygoing in life. This was my attempt to change.

To strive and Pray to be a better Muslim than I was. Let us face it, I am horrible when it comes to how much I should be doing as a Muslim and how much I do.

To step out of my comfort zone. Face hunger, sleep on the floor, live like a hermit, spend time in the crowds talking only to Allah, to ponder and thank him for his invaluable blessings, bounty and grace in my life, to apologize for my every shortcoming and evil and to get a chance to get closer to him so as to benefit myself and my loved ones.



Day 1: Ramadhan 20 1433 AH/ August 08 2012
The journey from RAK Airport to Jeddah was uneventful. Contrary to usual, the flight was tagged to drop us at the Hajj terminal instead of the other more busy terminal. This would eventually mean that I got out of the terminal in record time as compared to the 3-4 hour wait witnessed in my previous trip. Being in Ihram and losing your temper in face of the incompetent airport authorities is not how a pilgrim must behave and Allah saved me from it.

Alhamdulillah my fast took no brunt so far. From the airport, I got a ride to Jeddah in an old Indonesian brother’s bus which was carrying some Pakistani pilgrims. He saw me alone and asked me to jump in for a cheaper fee than the others. The bus’s A/C told me why. The usual 1 hour journey took almost 90 minutes in the heavy traffic and the A/C refused to perform its duty properly in the 49 °C - 52°C ambient temperatures. But the silent chant of “Labbayk Allahumma Labbayk” kept me calm and the thought of seeing my beloved Ka’bah kept me smiling.

I reached Makkah at about 3 pm and headed to the Masjid straight away. I got dropped about a kilometre from the masjid so had to make the last leg on foot. I had 1 plan to store my luggage which wouldn't be allowed inside the masjid and 3 contingency plans in case the first didn't work.

It did. I got a locker just outside the masjid and Alhamdulillah my bag fit in the smallest rental locker where it will inshaAllah stay for the next 10 days except for the days when I need a change of clothes. Alhamdulillah Summa Alhamdulillah.

My umrah began just after Asr, around 4:15 pm. I entered the Masjid in my Ihram with my head bowed low and chanting the Talbiyyah. I tried to keep my gaze down until I was in the Mat’aaf area at least. I reached the stairs to the area and raised my eyes and saw the Ka’bah. To say that my eyes filled with joy would not be a lie. As always, the sight was beautiful and awe-inspiring and would have me rooted to my spot if the wave of pilgrims behind me had allowed it.

My Tawaf was slow in the late afternoon heat but it was not too difficult. Thanks to some of the other pilgrims (civilians as opposed to the Masjid Service Staff) who were walking with the crowd armed with spray bottles filled with cold water. Spraying everyone they could reach with the cold water. On a hot summer day of fasting, this is no less a blessing than rain.

Apart from them, there were the usual people who would walk around holding a few boxes of tissues for passers by to pull and use. As usual the Masjid service staff was ubiquitous in their green and sand colored uniforms.

The Tawaf was draining but finished sooner than I imagined (considering the thousands there who were not only doing the tawaf on the floor, but also on the balconies of the first floor)

After the Tawaf I headed to the Sai’i (The brisk walk/run between Safa and Marwa mountains). I knew the ground floor would be jam packed so I checked the first floor. It was also packed. I went up to the newly opened second floor. It was empty. Alhamdulillah.

This took the toll. The 2nd floor area still doesn't have A/Cs. Just fans running at a medium speed and the sides open. So the heat is there. I’d been in the Ihram for about 10 hours now and the fast was seeming longer than the usual lazy fasts of home. As I was running in that hot tunnel, with the soles of my feet were sore, my strength decreasing with the increasing dehydration and with a parched throat which hurt when I tried to swallow, my thoughts turned to Hajira (A.s) and I realized that the woman in whose honour the Sai’i has been ordained, did this same run, hunting for water, hungry and desperate, in the desert sun. I'm walking in shade and on marble floors. She ran in the open heat, on the hot desert sand and stones. I knew water is there at an arms reach should I faint due to exhaustion, she didn't know. I was alone and I had just my own tiredness….she had her infant son whose cries echoed in that valley to scare her even more into her 7 runs.

I suddenly felt very very small. In the face of that remarkable and amazing mother…I felt hopelessly little. As I stumbled my pathetic self across to Marwa for the final turn, my heart saluted the spirit of superhuman nature that resided in Haijra (A.S.) and how her show of strength not only gave Allah the reason to bestow the world with the miracle of ZamZam, but also the ibadah of Sai’i.

I got my hair snipped nearby the bins in the Marwa area and concluded my Umrah with a tired stumble to the nearest wall corner where I flopped down waiting for Iftar.

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

Sep 18, 2014

The Haram Diary - Introduction

By Syed Faraz Luqman



“Verily in the remembrance of Allah, do hearts find peace” (Surah Ar-Rad: Part verse 28) 

Most of you know (or heard) that I spent the last 10 days of my Ramadhan in the hallowed valley of Makkah al Mukarramah. No less in a place than the Haram itself. Islam’s most sacred Masjid. In the proximity of the Ka’bah - The BaitAllah (House of Allah).

This was an attempt to perform an act of worship in Islam known as the I’tikaf.

To those who do not know, an I’tikaf is a duty (fardh) of Islam which is generally a communal obligation. It was a manner of worship of the Prophet PBUH (from before his Prophethood) wherein he would take some provisions and retreat into the surrounding mountains of Makkah, to small caves and live there for 2-3 days at a time. This time was where he would confine himself to meditation and search his mind, his heart and his soul to ascertain the purpose of his life and this world.

After the advent of Prophethood he established as his tradition (sunnah) and this has grown to be one of the most beautiful events a Muslim can have. The word I’tikaf literally means to stay at a place. The act of worship is elaborated as taking a 10 day meditation stay in a Masjid… away from your home, away from comfort, family, friends, work etc in a state of prayer and quiet meditation. The Sunnah I’tikaf is performed usually in the last 10 days of Ramadan (you can do it for a longer period pertaining to a few rules). For men, a Masjid is the station of his I’tikaf. For women, it is a secluded part of her home which can be separated from the rest of the house using curtains etc. In either cases, the deed is done as a worship, a meditation…or to be closer to modern description, as a one to one therapy session with Allah.

This is one of the most life changing journeys a Muslim can take. You are expected to be involved in Worship at all times. In fact, once a Muslim enters the state of I’tikaf, everything he does comes under worship automatically. From his sitting in the masjid doing zikr to his sleeping in the masjid..everything is Ibadah.

I have sat in I’tikaf a total of 3 times now. My first time was a full 10 day sojourn in my College masjid in India. My second was a shorter stay (about 6 days) in my neighbourhood masjid in Qatar. My third was my biggest attempt at it. This time I chose to be a guest at Allah’s house. And being the guy I am, I couldn't do it without recording it.

I kept a Diary for the time I was there. Every day, in the late hours of the night, I would spend about 10-30 minutes writing what I was learning by doing during my stay. I did not expect it to run more than a few pages but by the time I left Makkah 10 days later, the diary (a notebook) filled 33 pages.

It would be impudent of me to write it all and expect everyone to read it all. But there are a few things of my experiences which I would like to share with you. Hence it will be a concise write up of my stay of 10 days divided into 3 parts (barring this one).

InshaAllah, if my words ever do even the least bit to inspire you, say a little prayer for my Parents.

Peace be with you !

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

Sep 15, 2014

Learning to Love Myself

By Hend Hegazi


One of the blessings of this world that we can easily take for granted is the diversity of the people around us. The different languages, skin colors, hair types, personalities…the library of characteristics through which we can learn from one another is endless. All these features add to the beauty of this life, and to the beauty of each of us.

Unfortunately we do not always see this beauty. Whether it is caused by media influence or the effect of people’s comments around us, sometimes we can end up hating characteristics about ourselves that we could have loved.

For me, it is my hair. I have spent my entire life hating it and fighting with it, trying to make it do things that it was never meant to. When I was a child, my mom had muscles in her upper arms, simply from combing out my hair. She would comb it out, with me yelling and “Ouch!”ing the whole time. Then she would pull it into two side braids. I remember one day I begged and begged, and after a whole lot of begging, she finally let me leave it down. About an hour later, she was cursing herself for having listened to me as she tried to comb out the frizzy mess that was now on top of my head. I do not remember that she let me wear it down again.

She kept it long for me until I was in second or third grade. At this time I thought, “My best friend has the straightest hair in the world! And hers is short. So…Maybe if I cut mine, it will be straight, too.” Needless to say, my curly/frizzy new do was more than a disappointment. It meant that now my mom would spend about an hour each night blow drying my hair for me, then wrapping it up in all sorts of strange ways so that it would not frizz. More muscles for mom, more pain for me.

I must have been about nine or ten when I first had my hair chemically straightened. And I loved it! Sure, after I showered it still had to be blown out, but that whole process was much easier now. And when it was straight, it was just like everyone else’s hair; it was manageable.

The rare times that I let my hair down in its natural curly state, all I heard from my parents was, “What’s wrong with your hair? Why does it look like that?”

I was never given the opportunity to embrace it. To my parents it was ugly, and none of my friends at school had hair that was anywhere near as unruly as mine, so I had no choice but to believe it was ugly.

I started wearing hijab my freshman year of high school. It was not an easy decision to make; I was the only one wearing hijab, one of only 4 Muslim students in a school of about 1600. But the fact that I would be able to hide my hair did make that decision easier. It was a relief just to pull it into a bun every day, although I did continue to fight with it at home. I was determined to make it cooperate, but was never successful.

When I got married, my hair anxieties returned. And I spent years trying to figure out how I was supposed to look sexy when I basically kept my hair tied back the whole time.

Earlier this year, at the age of 34, something finally changed. I tried letting it down, no straighteners, no blow dryer. And I learned how to keep it from frizzing (well, mostly anyway). And I like it; I like that it has personality.

I wish someone had taught me this years ago. I wish someone had said, “You have beautiful hair; you just have to learn how to manage it.” Such a simple reaction could have had a significant effect on my self-esteem!

It is useless to look back and wish I could change things. But I can learn from the past, and grow from it.

Everyone always asks why I do not keep my daughter’s hair tied up. She’s only two and she has big Shirley Temple type curls, although this is the real  world and not the movies, so there is some frizzing going on there, too. But her hair is beautiful. And I do not care that not everyone sees that….I DO care that SHE sees that. So I will not force her to keep her curls pulled back. And I will not make her straighten it, or blow dry it. When she is old enough, I am sure she would want to experiment with it. Until that time, I am going to let her know how wonderful it is, and how beautiful she is.

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

Sep 12, 2014

Trials: A Blessing in Disguise?

by Nur


"Or do you think that you will enter Paradise while such [trial] has not yet come to you as came to those who passed on before you? They were touched by poverty and hardship and were shaken until [even their] Messenger and those who believed with him said,” When is the help of Allah?" Unquestionably, the help of Allah is near." (2:214)

Allah SubhanahuWaTa’ala tests those whom He loves in order to raise their ranks in this life and in the hereafter. It is through tests and trials that sins are expiated. It is through test and trials that we turn back to Allah. It is through tests and trials that we are granted the honor to enter into Jannah under Allah’s mercy.

The Prophet Muhammad SalAllahu alayhi wasallam said:

“The greatest reward comes with the greatest trial. When Allah loves a people He tests them. Whoever accepts that wins His pleasure but whoever is discontent with that earns His wrath.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (2396) and Ibn Maajah (4031); classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi. 

When going through a test, do not think Allah has abandoned you, for surely the most beloved of people to Allah are the Prophets, and they—from amongst all people—experienced the greatest tests. When Allah tested them, they responded with reliance on Allah, and did not give up hope in Allah’s mercy. Likewise, Allah SubhanahuWaTa’ala did not let them down; he rewarded them not just in this life, but in the hereafter as well. 

If we take a closer look into their lives we can see the outcome of those who are patient. For instance, let us take the Prophet Ibraheem’s Alayhis Salam life into consideration. His father was a non-Muslim, as was his nation. When Ibraheem Alayhis Salam commanded his father to withdraw from the worship of idols, Ibraheem’s Alayhis Salam father responded by rebuking him and threatening to stone him if he did not leave, as we learn in Surah Maryam.

“[His father] said, ‘Have you no desire for my gods, O Abraham? If you do not desist, I will surely stone you, so avoid me a prolonged time.’ (Abraham) said, ‘Peace will be upon you. I will ask forgiveness for you of my Lord. Indeed, He is ever gracious to me. And I will leave you and those you invoke other than Allah and will invoke my Lord. I expect that I will not be in invocation to my Lord unhappy.’ So when he had left them and those they worshipped other than Allah, We gave him Isaac and Jacob, and each [of them] We made a prophet. And We gave them of Our mercy, and we made for them a reputation of high honor.” (19:46-50)

Ibraheem Alayhis Salam is a golden example of patience, and the outcome of it. As we can see here, when Ibraheem Alayhis Salam had to leave his father and his nation for the sake of Allah, Allah SubhanahuWaTa’ala rewarded Ibraheem Alayhis Salam with righteous offspring from amongst the prophets, and Allah SubhanahuWaTa’ala made him have noble honor. Until today Ibraheem Alayhis Salam is mentioned in a praiseworthy manner by people of all faiths, due to the honor Allah placed on him. Surely anything someone leaves for the sake of Allah, Allah replaces it for him with something better. 

That is not the only trial Ibraheem Alayhis Salam went through. He was also thrown into a fire by his own nation and when they did this, Ibraheem Alayhis Salam said, “HasbiAllaahwani’am al-wakeel (Allaah is sufficient for me and He is the best Disposer of affairs).” Allah made the fire cool for him, so it did not harm him. People plotted against him, but Allah protected his slave and made those who plotted against him the worst losers, as Allah says in the Qur’an:

“Allah said: ‘O fire! Be you coolness and safety upon Ibraaheem (Abraham)’ And they intended for him harm, but We made them the greatest losers.” (21:69-70) 

There were many more tests Ibraheem Alayhis Salam had to face, but as we can see from his beautiful example, Allah tests his believing slaves to raise their ranks in this world and in the hereafter.

One of our pious predecessors Al-Hasan al-Basri (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “Do not resent the calamities that come and the disasters that occur, for perhaps in something that you dislike will be your salvation, and perhaps in something that you prefer will be your doom.”

Place your trust in Allah, and watch how Allah plans for you, just as He planned for His beloved Prophet Ibraheem (Alayhi Salam).

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

Sep 10, 2014

All she did was advise

by Asma bint Shameem


Fatima saw her sister's kids straying from the guidance of Allah. She became very concerned. After all, those kids were like her own. She loved them dearly and wanted to save them from any sin they might fall into. Knowing that she will not have much control over the kids themselves, she decided to talk to her sister directly and advise her sincerely for the sake of Allah about what she saw the kids doing.

But, instead of appreciating Fatima's sincerity and understanding the motherly concern she had for her kids, her sister exploded. "Mind your own business!" she said. "This has nothing to do with you! Stop talking about my kids! Look at your own and what they are doing!" she shouted.
"But....but...." Fatima tried to explain.

"But what? Stop 'judging' us! I am sick and tired of you picking on my kids! And if we are so 'bad' in your eyes, leave us alone! From this day on, I don't want to have anything to do with you! "
Fatima cried.
Sad and hurt, she withdrew.....tears rolling down her eyes. She was not 'picking' on her sister or her kids nor was she 'judging' them. All she wanted to do was to prevent them from committing haraam and prevent them from falling into sin.

Where did she go wrong? She thought to herself as she wiped her tears. She looked over her own action carefully. Did she cross the limits set by Allaah when advising her sister? She had followed the etiquettes defined by the Sharee'ah when enjoining the good and forbidding the evil.

She had always been very sincere and loving to her sister and her kids. She had advised her sister in a kind and soft manner. She was not ever harsh with her. She tried to use hikmah, kindness and wisdom. She spoke to her sister in private so she didn't feel offended or insulted.

And whatever she advised her sister, she had always tried to implement that for herself and her family as well. It is not like she is advising something to her sister and not practicing it herself. Then why did her sister react in this manner? She wondered. What made her sister so angry and defensive?!

Is it not a duty of every Muslim to speak up against an evil, if he sees one? Is it not an order from Allah?

Allaah says in the Qur'an:
“Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining Al-Ma‘roof (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do) and forbidding Al-Munkar (polytheism and disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden). And it is they who are the successful” 
[Surah Al ‘Imran:104] 

Did my sister forget that enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil is one of the greatest principles of Islam? In fact, some scholars regard it as one of the pillars of Islam.

And didn't the Prophet (SalAllaahu Alaiyhi waSallam) say,
“Whoever among you sees an evil action, then let him change it with his hand [by taking action]; if he cannot, then with his tongue [by speaking out]; and if he cannot, then with his heart – and that is the weakest of faith.” (Muslim)

"And especially if it is my own sister's kids?" Fatima said to herself, exasperated. How could she see her own loved ones do wrong and not say anything?!!

And what about what Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘AzeezibnBaaz said:
"The believing men and women enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil, and the believer does not keep quiet. If he sees his brother committing an evil, he denounces him. Similarly, if he sees his sister, paternal aunt, maternal aunt or anyone else committing an evil action, he tells them not to do that. If he sees his brother in faith or his sister in faith falling short in some duty, he denounces him for that, and enjoins him to do what is good. All of that is to be done with kindness and wisdom, and good manners.

If the believer sees one of his brothers in faith being lazy in praying, or engaging in backbiting or gossip, or smoking or drinking, or disobeying one or both of his parents, or severing the ties of kinship, he denounces him in kind words and with good manners, not with hateful words and harshness, and he explains to him that it is not permissible for him to do this thing.

All of these evils must be denounced by every believing man and woman and every righteous person, by husbands and wives, brothers, relatives, neighbors, friends and others. They must all do that, as Allah says, describing the believing men and women:

“They enjoin (on the people) Al‑Ma‘roof (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do), and forbid (people) from Al‑Munkar (i.e. polytheism and disbelief of all kinds, and all that Islam has forbidden)” [al-Tawbah 9:71]" 

All Fatima wanted was to teach her sister and her kids something good. And is it not that something that Allah is pleased with?

The Prophet (SalAllaahu Alaiyhi waSallam) said: 
“Allah, His angels, and the inhabitants of heaven and earth, even the ant in its hole and even the fish, send blessings (pray for good) upon the one who teaches the people good.” (al-Tirmidhi-- saheeh by al-Albaani) 

In fact, if people stopped saying anything when they see an evil, it might be a cause of punishment for them.

The Prophet (SalAllaahu Alaiyhi waSallam) said:
‘If the people see an evildoer and do not take him by the hand [to put a stop to his evil], soon Allaah will punish all of them.” (Tirmidhi-sahih by al-Albaani)

And Allah warns: 
“And fear the Fitnah (affliction and trial) which affects not in particular (only) those of you who do wrong” [Surah al-Anfaal:25] 

Dear brothers and sisters, in this day of widespread evil and corruption, we as Muslims, have forgotten or neglected one of the biggest and most important obligations on each and every one of us. And that is to enjoin good and forbid evil.

And if you tell someone about the evil that their child, brother, friend or loved one is doing, it is not "telling" on them or complaining against them, or 'picking' on them, or judging them. It is the order of Allah to prevent your Muslim brother or sister from committing evil. It is nothing to get defensive about or hurt. In fact, it is something that shows the sincerity and concern of the advising person for the one he is advising, and this is the very essence of Islaam.

The Prophet (SalAllaahu Alaiyhi waSallam) said:
“Religion is sincerity.” We said, “To whom?” He said, “To Allaah and His Book, and His Messenger, and to the leaders of the Muslims and their common folk.” (Muslim). 

Enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil is one of the basic principles of this religion of ours, and doing this is jihad for the sake of Allaah.

Al-Nawawi said: ".....this (stopping evil) is obligatory according to the consensus of the Ummah, and there is overwhelming evidence from the Qur'aan and Sunnah and scholarly consensus that it is obligatory to enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil, and it also comes under the heading of naseehah (sincerity or sincere advice) which is Islam." (SharhSahih Muslim)

Al-‘Allaamah al-Quraafi said: "The scholars said that enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil is obligatory and should be done immediately, according to consensus, and whoever is able to enjoin what is good should do so immediately." (al-Furooq)

So, I say to Fatima and others like her, do not give up or feel sad. You did not do anything wrong. You obeyed Allah's orders and fulfilled one of His basic commandments. Even if your sister didn't understand, and she hurt you with her words, explain to her kindly the reason behind your advice and if she still does not appreciate what you did, leave the matter in Allah's Hands. Surely He knows what lies in everyone's heart and He knows the intentions behind every action.
And rest your aching heart with the words of Allah:

"Verily, Allah will help those who help His (Cause). Truly, Allah is All-Strong, All-Mighty." 
(Surah Hajj:40)

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

Sep 8, 2014

How to Care for Your Curvylicious Curls

By Wordsmith


If you are a lady with any kind of wave in your hair, I am 99.9% sure that you have gone through a phase of complete curly-hair-denial at one point in your life.

You have tried brushing those fragile lil’ things over and over again.

And although, after all that work, you thought you would look like this:

You probably ended up looking a lot more like this: 

And because you wanted the extraordinary experience of running your fingers through your hair without removing half of it, you walked right on over to the salon for a simple blow-dry, envisioning this:

But in fact, this was you.... two hours later:

I know…. Your personal attempt to blow-dry your hair at home is too hard on the eye. I will not depict it here.

It is a good thing SOMEONE figured out how to manage curly hair! So here I am today, writing to expose you to some small pointers that will probably go a LONG way, hopefully changing your hair from Exhibit A to Exhibit B.

Well, first of all, you have to accept the fact that Exhibit B is probably not a natural curl,and unless your natural curl has a shape similar to the above picture, you will not be looking like that anytime soon.

Ok, so you do not want Hollywood hair. You simply want to bring out the beauty of your natural curls.

What to do? Read on!

1. Accept your hair. Figure it out.

You may not know this, but not all people who do not have straight hair are just lumped into one group of curly girls because not all curls were created equally!

In fact, there are different curl types such as corkscrew curls, loose waves, etc. and understanding which type of curl your natural hair takes shape into is an essential part of managing it properly.

Although you can find a lot of information if you do some surfing on the web, I would highly recommend Lorraine Massey’s Curly Girl: The Handbook. She does an awesome job of helping you identify your curl type and equips you with a complete hair-care routine, from cleansing to styling to cutting, and even more.

The point is, the first step to beautiful natural curly hair is to find out what type of curls you have. Get to know your hair. How does it react to heat? How do curls change with length? This will help you narrow down what products, methods, and routines are most suitable for your hair type. The better you become at managing your hair in its NATURAL form, the more you will love it.



Please. Do not brush your hair if it is curly. 

Using a brush on your dry curls leaves you looking like this, as a result of the breakage of the natural flow of the hair: 

I mean, you are going for the majestic-mane-of-frizz look, be my guest. But...The ONLY time you, as a curly girl, are ever allowed to brush your hair, is in the shower AFTER you have conditioned your luscious locks. And even then, you must use your fingers.


Girl, conditioner is your best friend. Actually, it is your BFF because moisture is essential to having beautifully hydrated curls. Massey, in the same book mentioned above, advises that each section of the hair be moisturized on its own. To do this, “[glide] conditioner downward through you hair with your fingers.” Notice, as mentioned before, you are NOT to use a brush. And if you have long hair, make sure to “scrunch your hair upward towards the scalp” after conditioning each section, as this “will encourage and reintroduce your intrinsic curl pattern to your hair.”

Most experts recommend that you do not wash any of the conditioner out of your hair, but you might find that this will leave your hair feeling oily because your curls may not be as dense and dry as other types. Whether or not to wash some of your conditioner out will come with experience, and as well as learning how much conditioner to put in your hair. If your frizzies shoot up immediately after the shower, this probably means that you need to put some more conditioner in that area, especially because some parts of your curls will frizz more than others. Just remember to be generous with the moisture because you will need it!

4. The Drying Process

Do not use a regular towel to dry your hair. As soon as you turn off the water, grab a T-shirt or a microfiber towel. Place it at the end of your hair and gently scrunch and squeeze upwards towards your scalp to remove the excess water. Massey describes this process as the “squeeze-scrunch” method that gently blots the extra moisture out of your hair.

Another rule of thumb is to keep your hands, hijabs, and pillows away from your hair until it is completely dry. I know, from personal experience, that this is so difficult, especially considering the busy hustle of our lives. However, considering how ugly my hair looks when I put it under my hijab or pillow when it is still wet is definitely a motivator when it comes to shower time. I always make sure that I have at least two and a half hours of air time before sleep or having to go out. Trust me, it is not easy, and you cannot skip salah just so your hair looks nice... but I try my best! Once your hair air-dries itself beautiful, it will stay like that for a few days, so it is definitely worth the trouble.

I hope these tips were beneficial to you and that you apply them. Again, I strongly recommend purchasing Lorraine Massey’s Curly Girl: The Handbook, as it has so much helpful and practical advice on learning to love and let live your natural curl. Ask me questions in the comments and hopefully I can write a follow-up article to answer them inshaAllah.

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

Sep 5, 2014

5 Tips for Finding a Muslim Husband Online

By Umm Halimah


It is no secret that finding a spouse in today’s world is much different than it was in the past. Many would say it is even more challenging. However, it is the desire of most people to have companionship in the form of a spouse and, as Muslims, it is considered to be half of our deen. With the straining of familial and social ties, along with the advent of social media and the online world in general, many people (both Muslim and non-Muslim) have turned to the internet to find that ‘special’ someone. Keeping this in mind, I thought it would be helpful to give some tips for being successful in the venture inshaAllah. Although I do not have first-hand experience in doing this, I have witnessed good and bad outcomes of online marriages and have noticed some things in the process. The following are a few things that I think a woman (and a man) should take into consideration when looking for a spouse online.

1. Never give out your personal information early on (give wali’s contact) – This is part of why you have a wali. There are a lot of people online claiming they are looking for a spouse. It goes without saying that unfortunately not everyone has good intentions. Some men may even try to lure you with piety and say that they are pious individuals looking for a pious spouse. Be careful. Before you give any personal information (i.e. your phone number, address, etc.), refer these potentials to your wali to help determine how serious they are. If they get in contact with your wali and they seem upright then you should continue with getting to know them if you wish. 

2. Be straightforward about your purpose (not looking for friendship but marriage) – Be very clear that you are only interested in people who are seriously looking to get married. Do not waste your time talking about useless topics. Be careful of a man who just wants to bring up inappropriate topics with you such as an over obsession about looks (yours or his) or just plain flirting. As women, we like to be complimented and feel attractive to our partners; however, too much detailed talk about these things should be reserved for our spouses. Therefore, we should not fall into this action. Also, be careful about someone who repeatedly avoids your wali, as this may be a sign that he is not serious.

3. Always try to involve your wali/family – There seems to be an increase in girls who get married secretly or without the involvement of their families. While I understand that in some circumstances girls become frustrated or desperate due to the unrealistic demands of their families, it is still best to have the acknowledgement of your family. Therefore, try your best to involve them and have their consent, even if you are a divorcee. InshaAllah you will have more barakah in your marriage and you (and your future spouse) will feel more at ease about the whole situation. If you are having problems with your family, try to seek help from trusted and knowledgeable members of your community.

4. Look for references and consider meeting with the man’s family ahead of time – Ask for you or your wali to meet or speak to people who know the potential spouse. Also, it may be a good idea to do a legal background check on the individual. It is also a good idea to meet your potential in-laws if possible. You and your family/wali should meet or speak to his parents and siblings. You can learn a lot from these people about your potential spouse and about their expectations for you and how you will fit into the family. It will give them a chance to see who you are and to be at ease with you being a part of their family. 

5. Make du’a – Finally, the most important part to help make this endeavor a success: make du’a to Allah subhana wa ta’ala to guide you to what is best and beneficial. The Prophet salAllahu alayhi wa sallam taught us to pray salatul Istikhara when trying to make any decision. I strongly encourage you to do that. When you do that, you should not necessarily look for some amazing dream or anything but just do it sincerely, seek good advice, and make a decision. InshaAllah, you should not regret whatever the outcome is because you did what you were supposed to do and Allah subhana wa ta’ala) is the Most Wise. In addition, a good idea that I got from a friend of mine, is to write down all of the things that are very important to you in a spouse and actually make du’a for those things, in addition to praying for a righteous spouse. 

Keep in mind, however, that the best reason to marry a person is for his righteousness, so do not let transient things such as looks or wealth cloud your mind. If you want a righteous spouse make sure that you are trying to be righteous yourself. As Bilal Philips once said when asked how to find a righteous spouse, “It’s about being righteous yourself.” While looks and wealth are important, they are not the most important things. Marriage is half of our religion, probably in part due to the fact that it is a great struggle and a possible source of so much blessing. Additionally, it is wise to remember that everyone has their ups and downs – even the Sahaba and even the Prophet salAllahu alayhi wa sallam! Therefore, do not let romantic and “perfect” pictures on facebook fool you into thinking that others have a perfect life. You just do your best to pick a good spouse. Work hard afterwards at making your marriage a success, and continue making du’a to Allah subhana wa ta’ala, and He will reward you.

I hope that these few tips will be of some benefit to you. I pray that Allah subhana wa ta’ala grants us the coolness of our eyes through our spouses and offspring and gives us the best in this world and the next. Ameen.

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