Life Gems

Eid Mubarak

It was finally the eid, and after a month of fasting Ellie looked forward to sharing a day with other Muslims in a fun and exciting way.

During Ramadan she could not attend the nightly tarawih prayers like many Muslims because she had to work a regular nine to five job then go home to care for her aging mother. She did not mind her situation because the reward would be so great in the end. This hope kept her going. Only today, though, she longed for a change of pace.

Ellie had put in for the day off, but was it the correct day? It was amazing that in her area all the Muslims had started the fast on the same day this year. This situation is unusual for the United States. In her area there are some who tune into what ever day fasting started “back home” and act accordingly. There are some who wait for news of a moon sighting anywhere in the world, and there are some who wait to hear of a sighting any where in America, while still others go and look for themselves locally.

When she discovered that her friends had broken their fast a day BEFORE the day she had taken off, Ellie was beyond heart broken. She had fasted the entire month alone, prayed at home alone, read Qur’aan alone and had just wanted one day to pray, eat, and enjoy the company of others. What a shame! She got into her car and proceeded to the job site one hour drive away from home. Most days she looked forward to the commute and used the time to listen to Qur’aan. On this sad day she listened to recordings of sermons from overseas.

The tune of her phone interrupted the Eid recording, and Ellie answered the phone to hear the voice of her supervisor. “Good morning, Ellie. I called to inform you the classes you are scheduled to teach today have been cancelled. The building has some kind of plumbing emergency and we just had to cancel. There is no time to find another location.” Ellie held her breath in disbelief. “So what should I do?” she asked. “Oh just take the day off, Ellie. You have done such a phenomenal job at these seminars! Why not give yourself a break? We’ll see you tomorrow.” Mrs. Jamison answered without hesitation. It was true, Ellie loved her job of giving information to people about retirement planning. She had only been at this job for a year, but the company was thriving with her input.

Ellie quickly thanked her supervisor and pulled over to gather her thoughts. Tears of happiness and relief streamed down her face. It was such a gift that could only have come from the Most Merciful Lord! The One Who controls the heavens and the earth can easily make it so that Ellie can have her dream of a day with the Muslims!

She wasted no time in turning the car around and headed straight toward the masjid. Oh what a wonderful day this was! Ellie shared her story with many friends that she met that day, and now it is being shared here.

it is my reminder to never lose hope in the plan of our Lord. He knows our hopes and desires, and can make any of them come to us, but we have only to keep on with our part. May Allaah keep us firm on our part, aameen.

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Days in the Life

#TheRamadanSeries

I looked into WordPress to see what my fellow/ sister Muslims were writing and found a challenge to write for 30 days with prompts. Sounds like something to try, in shaa Allaah. Offers yet another look into the life of a Muslim from a Muslim. Ramadan Mubarak, all. May Allaah accept our ibadah, aameen.

Day/ Prompt 1- Color

Black… No clear understanding of why this color makes me feel more covered. I think it makes me disappear into the background.

From there I can speak if I want, or just observe from my own distance.

This morning while running errands I saw three other Muslimahs, all wearing black. One was in a convenience store. The sight of her niqab made me want to protect her. She was cheerfully holding her very active baby and was engaged in talking to her, but was not too busy to return my greeting. As I passed her I felt compelled to check her comfort level by just asking how she was. After all, we were in an area and a time when anyone could decide to attack any random Muslimah for the wrongs of others. She answered quickly that she was fine, and I left her with an internal dua for her safety.

Secondly I came to the register and there was another Muslimah wearing a black hijab under her store uniform which was also black. I gave a greeting, but this time her reply was hardly audible. Maybe she was shy to make a big deal over seeing her sister Muslim. Maybe she was under pressure to keep the line moving. Maybe she had just had a negative encounter with a rude customer. I had no way to know the reasoning behind the lace of response, so I just let the murmur of salaam suffice. Once again I made a quiet dua for her safety.

My third and last sister was also in black. She hardly returned my greeting. This time I could see the sadness in her face. The niqab was lifted from her face and worn on her head. There was a man nearby. Since his casual tee shirt and hat were like the general population, I took him to be another store patron, not a family member shopping with her. I saw her again in another aisle of the store, but she was engaged in her shopping, so I didn’t venture a “How are you?” I spotted the same man nearby, so I knew then that they were together.

We were all choosing to wear the same color that day, but it did not dictate our disposition. Whereas I choose it for modesty, it does not determine my interaction with my sister Muslims, and my common human courtesy. I can’t say that the ladies I met in my travels today were not courteous. I think they were having to deal with life in ways that did not call for smiling at every Muslimah that they saw. Still we are sisters and are working toward the same goal and I’ll make a quiet dua for their happiness. Aameen.

Poetic Expression

Life in Haiku

Allaah is my Lord
Taking me through all of it
Rising up and down

Ruby’s house was full
Eight children now one more
You can have this one

My mommy and me
Home is a small college town
Ithaca is nice

She gave me Japan
In bright blue flower silk robe
From house that she cleaned

Sundays were for church
Sit quietly and listen
Your soul needs to hear

Teenagers like fun
What is there to do here now?
Going somewhere big

Allaah is my Lord
Guiding me along the way
Right to the masjid

No god but Allaah
Yes! I know this is the way!
I want to be good

Cover and pray now
New friends who do just the same
Trying hard to learn

Mommy does not see
The beauty of my new way
Hi mom. How are you?

Islam is my way
My heart tells me it is true
Each beat sings in praise

Words from the Most High
Ring in and out surrounding
My heart, soul and mind

Time passes quickly
Strong bodies sit down in chairs
Dialing phones with care

Mommy how are you?
When will you come to see me?
Every month I go.

Allaah is my Lord
On the highway I still pray
Sometimes all alone

Allaah knows my heart
Mommy needs her only child
The distance is great

Husband with his girls
Mommy does not like this way
She wants me with her

Seek help with prayer
That is the word from my Lord
He will make the way

Mommy is coming!
On the train with nieces help
Are you my daughter?

Marie! Please come here!
Mommy needs her cup of tea
I rush all the way

Gladly to her side
Food is too this or too that
But all is well here

Quraan is playing
Ayatul kursi at night
Mommy goes to sleep

I know a prayer
Say Allaah is only One
She says it clearly

She says she loves me
From my head to my tip toes
Now I believe her

My mommy and me
From her town back here to mine
Sleeping on the hill.

Life Gems, Uncategorized

Let it Go!

It has been 6 years since the break up. Salima has been remarried to another and Hassan has even passed away a year ago. So why can’t she bring herself to part with the one last gift that she received from Hassan?

The scene played over in her memory.

They were together on one of those rare weekends when Salima could drive over to visit her husband where he stayed with relatives. The latest technology of the time was an e-reader and Salima had expressed her desire to have one. Hassan felt the need to give his wife at least something since he could not provide a home for her. So on what would be their last ride together, Hassan passed a package to his wife with the words, “Since you’ve been a good wife, you can have this.” Salima took it with a smile and thanks.

He was actually supportive of most of her ideas and eagerly helped with school projects, sales of the newest products, searching for online information and just being a help mate. The one shortcoming was the lack of financial support. At the beginning of their friendship and marriage money was not a problem because it was more important for Salima to have a husband who was also a friend. Hassan was a good example as well because he stayed connected to the masjid. Most of the five daily prayers he offered in jam’aat.

As time went on it became more and more apparent that a regular 9 to 5 job was not in the plan for Hassan. He much preferred to do odd jobs or administrative assisting for pay while he searched for the investment that would finally pay off. He researched, went to meetings, talked to people, gathered information, but would not commit to a regular job. All the while Salima found full time work and paid most of the monthly bills.

Needless to say, as she got older her respect for Hassan waned. He was still fun to be with, and was easy going, but conversations got to be strained. Salima made sure to avoid the big question: when are you going to WORK? His answer was sure to be, “I am working on something, and it’s got to come through this time, just be patient.”

Many times Hassan needed to travel to other states for meetings and Salima stayed back because of job responsibilities. The travel became more frequent, but Salima did not mind. She felt that a wife should be supportive, and if he was involved in something that may be profitable eventually it was better than doing nothing. Besides, she was very busy with social activities in the local masjids and Islamic schools.

Salima’s own situation began to change. Her health suffered from the long work hours and busy schedule. She had to keep trying to work to pay bills. Thank God for friends who came through with food and work she could do at home. They didn’t say anything bad about her husband, but would only ask where he was. If Salima seemed okay with his absence, they all kept their opinions to themselves.

An entire six months passed and no visit. Salima called a mutual friend to ask what could be happening. No report from there. It took years for Salima to come to grips with the fact that her husband was a fun friend, but not a good husband. The time finally came for a decision. They had been to counseling and she was advised to consider her contribution as a charity, or she could call it a loan, or she could just refuse to do anything. At that time she chose to make it charity, but that decision was difficult to keep for years on end.

A call to a mutual friend who was very learned in the religion got a resolution. It was not what she really wanted. What she wanted was a “normal” marriage. What she got, though, was divorced. When Salima shared her new situation with a friend, she immediately was offered prospects, as if they had already had ideas for her happiness! So many choices were put forth, but the one choice she made was from someone who was given her number from Hassan. This brother wanted clothing made for his three daughters, and had asked for the number. Hassan quickly gave it, and he made the call to ask for clothing.

Over the course of the next three months, it became clear that Salima would be treasured and appreciated in the new marriage. After praying for goodness in the decision she accepted the proposal to join the family and take her place as the wife, mother, teacher, companion, and everything else that comes along.

The process of writing the story has helped Salima put her mind at ease, and has reminded her of how a friendship can not be broken due to the re-gifting of an object.

Days in the Life

Allaahu Akbar

Dear reader, names are changed to protect the innocent. Thank you for your time and comment on the first of hopefully many posts on growing up around Muslims of varying stages of growth. For sure faith rises and descends. It’s called life, but….

……Allaahu Akbar Allaahu Akbar La Ilaha illa Allaah.

Finding that quiet space just out of the midst of the revelries of kids playing, block parties, music volume fading as we depart after a day of amusement parking. To keep the distant sounds within ear view, but not loud enough to be an interruption makes it very clear how set apart I am from many of my fellow human beings. It is my joy to once again face my Lord in salaah, grateful to be among the few blessed to realize the importance of remembrance of whence we came and whereto we are headed. This same event is viewed differently by even the people who share my household….

Allaahu Akbar Allaahu Akbar

“Oh, no, not again” moaned Jasmine. “Seems like I just made salat, and it’s time again.” She pulled herself up from her comfortable spot on the couch and made her way to the bathroom. Maybe if she took long enough the salaah would be over. Dad didn’t make too much fuss over her missing salaah yet. It was hard enough on her as it is because life was “too hard” for her, he reasoned with his current wife. Jasmine’s mother had moved away from the house and Islaam when she was still only two years old. She does go to visit her mother a couple weekends during the month. That is where her confusion comes in. “Mommy says that all of Daddy’s praying and covering and all those rules are just too much. They don’t have to do all of that just to say they are Muslim. So what if she listens to music and wears anything that she wants? At least she doesn’t eat pork.” Jasmine rehearses these words over and over in her mind. She can relate to these words because most of the people she knows who say they are Muslims don’t care about all of those rules that her dad and his wife are calling oh so important. But since she has to live with her dad, she just goes along to get along. “Just two more years, and I’ll be old enough…” she promises herself.

Allaahu Akbar Allaahu Akbar

“Time to pray again!” shouted Ruqayyah. “I’m going to pray with Daddy,” she announced to her sisters. “Whatever” they reply not even looking up from the you tube videos on the phones. Ruqayyah loves the feeling of standing next to her dad. She knows that she can do this right now because she’s only five. In time she will have to join the women’s rank in the rear. But for now she is taking full advantage. And why not? After salaat her dad gives her the biggest warmest hug and she could just live in his arms forever. The fact that her mother is not with them makes her a little bit sad, but since she still has Daddy things are okay. And whatever Daddy is doing she loves to do with him. They talk about Allaah, and it makes sense to her that Allaah made her and everything that she can see. Before she goes to sleep she makes sure to pray for her mother. “Oh Allaah let Mommy come back so we can be together again and make salaat together.”

Alaahu Akbar Allaahu Akbar

“There just has to be more to life than all this praying,” Saalihah thought to herself. She dared not let on that she had problems understanding just why her dad and his wife were always praying. They told her they do it because Allaah says to do it, and it is a big part of being Muslim. Dad’s wife holds salaat over her head. If Saalihah makes it with her, then she is nice, but if she would rather keep watching a video on her phone, she acts meanish. They say we are going to meet with Allaah Who made us, and then we’ll have to answer why we did what we did. Saalihah was almost 14 and she knew that soon she would have to make a choice that may shape the rest of her life. For sure it would determine her place in this family.

Islamic Reminders, Life Gems

Do Not Drown

It has been around four weeks since the passing of the sheikh Murabit. I had not heard of him before the many posts that began popping up. Who was this man? One thing that remained in my memory even until today is his saying that the world is like an ocean. Countless have drowned. Do not drown.

This reminder came at as time when the girls had started swimming. I was under pressure albeit self imposed, to be ever vigilant with one girl in particular who did not seem to grasp the concept of holding the breath when under water.

Here is a message from someone who appeared to have absolutely no use for the trappings of modern life; in particular, the Internet and social media, yet his simple advice is being shared the world over via this very same technology!

I hear you as I log on for that google search. “Do not drown.” I hear you when I check email.  “Do not drown.” I hear you when I go to the pop up sale and marvel at how many closets are packed  if these hundreds of beautiful garments in perfect condition are what we donate. I think maybe I need to own more than just the seven abayas that I have now, because “we all do it here”. But I hear you, “Do not drown”.

I hear you when I worry about why the children don’t run to salat. “Do not drown.”

I hear you when yet another friend dies. “Do not drown.”

I hear you when I go online shopping and am bombarded with choices, “Do not drown.”

I hear you when I look around and see so much oppression, hate, and prejudice, on both the global and local levels that it is just mind boggling. “Do not drown.”

I hear you when I’m saddened and when I am full of joy. “Do not drown.”

May Allaah reward you with each time we remember the overwhelming nature of this world and reach for the life saving rope that is the dhikr of our Lord and take yet another breath of Sub han Allaah, wal hamdu lillahi wa la ilaha illa Allaah wa Allaahu akbar!