Ramadan Reflections: Between Taraweeh and the Grenfell Fire

Ramadan Reflections: Between Taraweeh and the Grenfell Fire

still can’t write about Ramadan, but I can share this. I had to pray at home this year, but for some reason the last salaat in Ramadhan it did hit me, that this may be my last Ramadhan salaah, so I tried so very hard to pray like it was my last one. So many thanks to you for this reminder and may Allaah accept our ibaadah aameen and take us among the believers whenever it is our time…aameen

The Muslimah Diaries

By Chaimaa El Azraak

I tried to string some sentences together these past few days as I wanted to capture my feelings and thoughts from the past month or so but I often stopped typing because nothing I was writing was making sense. I was trying to make sense of everything but it wasn’t coherent. I can’t really explain how this past month has made myself and so many others feel as it’s been quite overwhelming but here’s a attempt.

I’ll start with Taraweeh. Taraweeh is hosted by all mosques around the world and both males and females of all ages make their way to the mosque each night to join in these prayers. It hasn’t always been a simple task performing them at the mosque, so every opportunity to visit the mosque is a treasured gift to me.

Taraweeh left me with this indescribable feeling every night.


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A Note To Everyone…

Our sister Salimat took the words out of my mouth. Subhan Allah. and Jazak Allahu khair. May Allah help us in this path, ameen, and grant us the real success, ameen Allahumma Ameen.

Islam: My Story as a Muslim

Assalamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullah Wa Barakatuhu. I hope this meets you in the best of conditions. It’s been a while since I last posted anything here. For weeks now I have wanted to write this article, but school work kept me so busy. However, yesterday I received shocking news of a friend’s death (Allahu Yarhamahu) and I was motivated to pick up my pen. (Please make du’a for him)

One faithful evening after Asr Prayer, I was reciting Suratul A’la to Suratul Nas and I was reminded of some important things we forget.

Allah says Quran 91 verses 9-10 “He has succeeded who purifies it, and he has failed who instills it [with corruption].” And also in Qur’an 87 verse 14 He says, “He has certainly succeeded who purifies himself.”

Let’s examine these verses from the two different Suwar. In Quran 91 verse 9, the “it”refers to THE HUMAN SOUL

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The Blue Sky Tag

The Blue Sky Tag

I had the pleasure (and challenge) of being nominated for the Blue Sky Tag by The Scottish Muslimah. I have only been at this blog for a very short period, but have followed her blog from the start. I find her to be very thoughtful and thought provoking.  Please do follow if you do not already.Anyway, as part of the rules I have been given 11 questions to answer:

 1.  Do you prefer hot or cold weather? Hot by far is more enjoyable. I get to take my time and I get to love the billowing folds of an extra wide abaya, and appreciate those gentle breezes that come just at the time when I sigh that it is so very very hot today!

2. What are you most afraid of?  I shudder to think of being 30,000 feet above the ground moving at the speed of 700-800 miles per hour in a metal container piloted by another human being with what(?) on his/her mind? I thank Allah for allowing me to endure this in order to make hajj, and ever since that maiden voyage whenever I think of it I automatically beg Allah for  peace of mind should He put me in that position again. ameen (Please make dua for your chicken sister!)

3. What is your favourite animal?  The cat.  Its purr is so very comforting, and the fur is pleasing to the touch.  It is graceful yet comical.  My best choice for company when no humans are available

4.What is your favourite smell? Mmmmmm lavender by far.

5.Are you an early bird or a night owl? Early bird. Our blessings are with work done after fajr. (see question 9.)

6.How many people have seen you cry?  The two younger girls when I was so very sad that I could not visit my mother. But in time Allah in His infinite mercy allowed her to come and live with us. Alhamdu lillahi.  Most other times in my life tears have been between me and my Lord. (except when we watch paulie- see number 8)

7.When was the last time you laughed until it hurt and what made you laugh?   I was riding with my husband and eating blue berry cookies with our coffee. He had given me his uneaten cookie and I finished it.  Well he did not mean that I was supposed to EAT it, just HOLD it so he could make a turn.  What a joke! Sorry….didn’t he know I was the cookie monster? Of course that was the last one and the store was a long way back. Needless to say now all uneaten snacks go on the lap, not to the spouse/ cookie monster.  I’m still chuckling now!

8.What book or film made you cry the most?  Kiddie movie Paulie.  It was about a parrot who could talk., but could not fly.  He was given to a little girl with a speech impediment. Even though the little girl, Marie was talking with the help of the bird, her dad didn’t like him, so they got rid of Paulie. The entire movie was about Paulie’s determination to get back to his friend. He overcame his fear of flying to get back to Marie.  By the time he did find her she had grown into an adult with a daughter of her own. I was just so touched by the determination of this little bird to reach his goal, and his success at the end that little tears had to come.

9.What is your favourite time of day?  Tahujjud until sunrise.  The house is peaceful, the neighbors are quiet. There is no need for verbal conversation.  Time to pray, reflect, ask forgiveness.  This is time to get my next ayat to memorize for the day, and then plan what has to be done that day. Is it just me, or do the birds really sing subhan Allah until the sun starts to rise? I swear  I hear them a little at first when it is still dark then they increase in volume by the time fajr is well in.  Then just as the sun is about to rise they quiet down  until it is all the way up. After sunrise just a few have a little more to say.

10.If you could have any career or job you wanted, what would it be? Dream job: CEO of Justice Incorporated. By the Grace of Allah and with the Permission of Allah al Fattah, al Adl:  We Collect taxes from the very rich and distribute it to the less fortunate.  We provide shelter for those in need worldwide (translators available), and healthy wholesome food for the hungry that is collected from the excesses of the lavish.  We rescue non combatant men, women and children from war torn areas and war torn households (after necessary mediation) and resettle them in peaceful, safe environments.  No room in the cities? No problem, we have funds from the very wealthy that is more than enough to BUILD cities in that space that we pass as we drive through the countryside.  We negotiate the return of native lands to their rightful owners, and still leave the new “immigrants” with enough land to occupy.  We provide salaries to teachers so that everyone in need of education, be it deeni, elementary, or collegiate can get the necessary education to pursue the life of his or her dreams. (applications are available in every language, and are accepted at all times)  Our Senior  Citizen department handles secure and respectful location services for the elderly so that they can enjoy their years in an environment of dignity that is rightfully theirs after lives of service to their families and communities. (all applications are given the utmost priority.) The Sijjin Department works to free those who are incarcerated unjustly; either political prisoners or those whose incarceration serves the purpose of an elite few.  Our legal team is ready to be of service. Operators are working 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Again translators are available for every human language. If there is some issue that we have not addressed, as I am sure there must be, feel free to contact us on our toll free line.  Although we will  do our level best to alleviate the harms of every nation it is understood that  perfect societies only do exist in jennah, but as Muminaat our job is to stand for justice in this dunya.  Ameen Allahumma Ameen.

11.If you were in a room with Donald Trump what would you say to him? So glad you are not God.

Is It Just Me?

Is It Just Me?

Pardon the misspelled word above. This is how it appeared in the image. But moving right along…When I first saw this brand many years ago I looked up the meaning, as I had never heard the word nike.  The definition of the word was just this- a deity of victory.  From that time forward I never bought or allowed the brand shoe in my house. I have even cut the swoosh off of shirts that were given to me.  I’m just crazy like that.  My humble opinion is that any and all victory comes from Allah alone. Only. To even wear this name just to me is like saying this is where I want victory to come from.  Is it just me?

Our enemies are on all sides, remember the promise of Shaytan when he was banished from paradise? He will lie in wait on the straight path and approach us from the front, the back, the right and the left. At first glance it may seem that this means things we perceive in front of us, in back on the right, and on the left, but no, my dear reader.  Upon further research it became known to me that from the front is to put doubt in our minds on the hereafter and our final rewards or punishments. From the back is to entice us to over indulge in this life and its “trappings” (consider that  word trappings….. How come sales have to be NOW!!! Hurry! for a limited time only!?). From the right is to cast misunderstandings about the religion, and from the left is to entice us to commit sin.

As for the nike brand on “Islamic” sportswear, my opinion not surprisingly would be to avoid at any and all costs.  I agree with the sisters who endorse the Islamic businesses. And even if it weren’t for the questionable meaning behind the logo, it’s still not a Muslim business, and is therefore taking money from our community. I’m just saying…

One Year Ago

One Year Ago

It’s been one year since my mother passed away. It should have been a very very sad time, but oddly it was not. This had been the sign from me once again that Allah truly hears the call of the caller when he is calling.

I had been raised by my father’s cousin who did not have any other children. She had been on point with her duties as a single mother, but minus the outward shows of affection.  As a teen I decided to leave the small college town of Ithaca,  New York and live with my natural mother in the city of Philadelphia. I was greeted with her disappointment that I left the home intended for my upbringing.  Never the less I stayed on in Philadelphia with family until my shahaadah a couple years later.  All this time I was still in touch with my “mother”. She also left New York  and returned to her childhood home in South Carolina. I maintained contact and  continued to visit over the years, although never as frequent as she would prefer, and I was often reminded of that.

As she got older and less mobile she still insisted on remaining in her  home on her family property “alone and independent”.  I offered to move there to care for her, but was always told to just come and visit. There were few conversations about Islam, as it was viewed as “that stuff you are doing”.Whenever I was questioned about Islam in her presence I gladly told all that I could, with the intention that she hear it also. I read Qur’an out loud with her in the room.  It all seemed to fall on deaf ears.  I still wanted her to understand the beauty of what I lived.  I was constant in salaat, and was respectful at all times with the intention that she see that Islam teaches us to be very polite. I gave her pictures with Allah’s names.She did say she liked that. The name al-Mujeeb was still on her coffee table the last time I was in the house.( Al Mujeeb is the One Who Answers Prayers.)

Then three years ago I married a man whom my mother considered the worst person in the world, and she had no problem letting me know her opinion:

Mom: He just wants you to take care of those children.(That’s marriage. We help each other)

Husband:  How can you really do anything for her in two days a month? You are on the highway almost as long as the time you get to visit.  (Well, she just likes to see me.)

Mom: What kind of man is that who won’t let you come here to help me like you been doin’? (Repeat line one- he just wants you to take care of those kids.)


Husband: What if something happens to her?

Mom: You need to get away from that and just keep taking care of yourself.

Husband: How can you help her from way up here? (security question- now I’m worried about her at night in the dark country alone in a little house…and her sister did get attacked in that area years ago…)

Stress was building and tears were flowing but only on the rug.  Oh Allah…. Ya Rabb….. All I knew was that I needed to take care of this lady who just could not care for herself, and who did not want to live with me, but now wanted me to come to a place in the country with no other Muslims for miles (one hour drive in both directions). At this point let me add that this “home” was to be inherited by cousins  of mine because as previously stated, she was my father’s cousin.  Nothing on paper. And the one thing that will bring out the worst with many families is money and property.  Needless to say, when the inevitable happens I’m out in the cold if I’m still there. I needed this man to allow me space in his house for my mother.  Month after month passed. Her condition worsened.  I visited by train this time, but only for a day.  What could I do? She  still did not want to come back with me and I still could not broach the subject of wills and inheritance, so leaving the new family to come south was not an option.

I just continued to pray and do what I could do for her from a distance, which was very stressful.  I heard Muhammad as Shareef talk about dua and the six duas for the year. Taking care of mother was number one. She had been in and out of the hospital, then nursing homes. The one niece who was helping regularly was getting tired. The other family was busy.  Neighbors were few.  She still insisted that she could stay home. Alone.

Then Allah opened the gates. A cousin offered to bring her from a nursing home to Philadelphia on the train.  At the same time my husband was saying I could just go on and move there, but to that I said, “No, bring her here”.  In four days she was at the train station.  This was not the outspoken woman I knew from childhood.  Most of the rough edges had given in to time and battling dementia.  What was left was the manners she had taught me.  Plus the class.  My husband showed her the respect due to a parent, and most of all the children who she said were wasting my time were actually her new best friends! One in particular, the middle girl, became her personal nurse and companion.  Each morning before leaving for school she gave mom her hug, and upon coming back she headed straight for her room to say hi, and to check on her.  Often times I would see them engaging in coloring or my (then first grade) daughter reading to her, or just taking a nap wrapped in each other’s arms.

Now this man who was the worst ever became “a good man” after seeing how he helped her down the stairs, talked to her regularly, and especially saw to it that she had her favorite vanilla ice cream!

I played Qur’an and read stories of the prophets in her room to her and the children. My mother seemed to perk up when she heard familiar names of prophets.  I heard the words “I love you” and “Do you love me?” for the first time in my life during these four short months before she passed.  It was with pleasure that I took care of her as best as I could, not being medically trained. She told me  I was doing good.  First time for that one, too.  So when I asked her to repeat a “prayer” for me she was glad to, and so repeated the shahaadah.

She lay resting one night but was breathing heavily.  As my husband left the room she squeezed his hand and continued to just lay quietly.  I left the room to tell him something, and called the nurse to see why she was breathing heavily.  When the nurse arrived my husband went with him to her room, and then came to tell me she was gone. Suddenly, at midnight while the girls were sleeping.  They took her body away in an hour.  For some reason my daughter did not go into her room that next morning to say good morning.  When she came home we told her that the angels took Grandmom Julia away. She was okay with that.  Who would get mad at an angel?

At this time one year later I’m just finishing learning sura Waqiah.  When I get to the end portion, the ayats can be translated to mean “Then why do you not (intervene) when (the soul of a dying person) reaches the throat? And you at the moment are looking on. But We are nearer to him than you, but you see not.  Then why do you not if you are exempt from the reckoning and recompense, bring back the soul if you are truthful?  Then if he (the dying person) be of the Muqarrabun (those brought near to Allah) (there is for him) rest and provision and a Garden of delights.  And if he be of those on the right hand, then there is safety and peace for those on the right hand. But if he be of the denying, the erring, then for him is an entertainment with boiling water. And burning in hell fire.  Verily, this! This is an absolute Truth with certainty. So glorify with praises the Name of your Lord, the Most Great. .Sura Waqiah Ayats 83 to the end 96.

What a reminder! I love perfect timings.

Thank you for reading to the end of a quite long story made kind of short.

A Journey in Cloth

A Journey in Cloth


Fade in: red, blue and yellow paisley:  my first vivid memory of a Muslim was at our girls-only high school. What a beautiful sight- loose dress and khimar- both the same cotton cloth. “That is so nice; why are you wearing it?” I asked out of curiosity. “Because I’m Muslim,” she replied softly.

White cotton: I was so determined to cover with whatever was readily available, I tore a  square piece  from a white sheet and pinned it behind my neck and let it fall behind my back “so as not to attract attention”.  How silly.  Did I think a white head scarf in a sea of bare heads would not attract attention if it was behind my back rather than in front? Either way I was very proud of my new look and my new life of guidance.  The older sisters at my beginner prayer class told me to say I was a Sunni Orthodox Muslim should anyone ask what I was. Gladly…

My own red, blue and yellow paisley:  was a shapeless long gown with a khimar both of cotton; my own attempt to cover in an age before internet browsing and one click ordering.  It was just me, Simplicity, Mc Calls (and Vogue if I felt ambitious).  Ambitious or not, when the seasons changed I knew it was officially summer because I would hear, “I know she’s hot in all that!” That’s okay, because 1: believe it or not the looseness and thinness of my long cotton dress is keeping me COOLER than your tight denim jeans and 2: the fire of hell is hotter.  I never actually shot back fact #2, but on occasion where possible I would share the science of covering and how it actually put us in the shade from the burning sun.

Pink jersey knit:  dress and khimar I made for a job interview.  The interviewer actually complimented me on the look.  I was so pleased that she noticed.  Little did she know the dress had been constructed on the wrong side, but it was my design, and I liked it, thank you. (By the way I did get the job!)

The white stretch terry cloth abayah: had no cuts but an opening for the neck and was sewn up the sides.  This was my response to the advice given in Jumuah (Friday congregational prayer) that Allah commanded the believing women to cast their juloobihinna (outer garments) over themselves when going outside so they would be known as believing women and not molested. No molestation here…

Chiffon and georgette for the face: by this time (roughly 1975) there was  still no internet browsing, so when I and my companions decided to cover even more we took pieces of cloth and pinned them to either side of our khimars which by the way were still pinned to the back then brought to the front around the neck. We sometimes got fancy and added elastic to make it easier to wear. The detail of even the face veil, as we called it back then was very important. Here in Philadelphia Islam was growing by leaps and bounds with many variations, so minute details in dress served to distinguish one belief set from another. Then the small pieces grew to cover the entire face.  I felt like I was in my own personal world under my total coverings. I discovered that you can see clearly through black and dark blue, but NEVER white!

Many garments later,  the memory of the white terry cloth still remains clear in my mind because it was while wearing this one that I passed some youngsters and one yelled “Oh a ghostie!”  Her companion, no more than seven years in age said, “That’s no ghostie, that’s a Muslim.    As salaamu alaikum, sister!” I replied with my warmest  salaam.  She could not see my smile, but I think that was okay with her.

Fade to black: We wanted to be like the companions of the Prophet (Peace and blessings be on him) about whom it was mentioned looked like crows when they went outside, and crows are black. And so it began, fluctuating along the way from more to less, an occasional bright color to an event or the Eid, but the default was still black. So many years have passed since my first vision of red, blue and yellow paisley. Today I am happy to have access to a world of styles, shades and combinations shared by our sisters in faraway places with the same goal in mind, covering for the pleasure of our Lord. (Oh, and I finally put away that white terry cloth !)