Saturday, 25 May 2019

Ramadan 2019/1440: Thought of the Day 20

The quote for Day 20 of Ramadan from my box of things to think about is:

“Remember your own faults before you remember others.”

I could not find a source for this quote, but I did come across the following:

Al-Bukhari reported: Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “If you intend to mention the faults of your companions, then remember your own faults.” (al-Adab al-Mufrad 328).

This is a nice technique for keeping your opinions to yourself if you struggle with this– when you see fault in others, look at yourself and it will discourage you from pointing a finger.  It might even encourage you to improve yourself.

It might not seem like a big thing to see the imperfections of others, but if you think of how important concepts like ummah, service to others and giving each other the benefit of the doubt are in Islam, you start to see why it is so important to refrain from picking faults and instead thinking well of each other.  To do otherwise is to place a burden on our own hearts.

Sayyidunā Abu Bakrah (Radhi Allahu ‘Anh) reports the Messenger of Allāh (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) saying, ‘Indeed, your blood, property and honour are sacred, like the sanctity of this day of yours, in this city of yours. (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, Ṣaḥīḥ al-Muslim)

Do not hate one another, nor be jealous of one another; and do not desert one another, but O Allah’s worshippers! Be brothers. It is not lawful for a Muslim to desert his brother Muslim (and not to talk to him) for more than three nights.’ (Saheeh Muslim)

Friday, 24 May 2019

Stepping Away During Ramadan

I will be away from my laptop for the next few days insh’Allah.  I will be going with a jamaat (group) for three days to spend some time in the path of Allah (SWT) insh’Allah.

I wrote about this practice when I went in Ramadan 2017 here, the experience involves:

“Taking time away from your day to day business and spending time in worship and dawah (sharing Islam). They encourage you to start with improving yourself and stepping up your amal (good deeds) and then sharing what you learn wider. They are big on simplicity and making personal sacrifices as a way to get closer to Allah (SWT).

The post linked to above also describes the routine and activities of the jamaat group.  My in-laws will be with the children and the fridge is packed with food – although they don’t look very impressed with the idea of leftovers.

I am just grateful for this opportunity to spend some time away from the everyday rush of home and work. I hope to spend some time contemplating and reflecting insh’Allah.

Squabbles and Tears

My in-laws have been here for about two weeks now. Usually one will come to stay with us for a few months in the summer and the other will stay behind in Lahore to keep an eye on the household there.  This time we thought it best they come together as it didn’t seem right to separate them as they got older.

It seems they might not have thought the same.  Mum-in-law has lost some of her sight and mobility in the last year or so and it has made her quite depressed, she seems to be grieving her independence and struggles with both pain and the guilt of feeling that she can’t help out more.  It is a way of being that makes me sad – she has worked hard all her life and is fully entitled to rest and focus on herself now, but still she feels that she has to “pay her way” almost by doing her share.

Dad-in-law has lost his hearing and had an operation to have stents put in his heart.  He refuses to wear his hearing aid, out of pride and a little vanity I think, also I don’t think he likes to be considered old (at 75).  He also refuses to change his diet and just about takes his medicines with much harassment from mum-in-law and my husband.  The loss of hearing seems to leave him a little isolated.  It must feel lonely to miss so much of what people are talking about and to feel left out of conversations.

Someone once told me that the first twenty years of a marriage belong to the man, the next twenty years to both the husband and wife and the last twenty is when the woman is in control.  Perhaps not anymore, but in a traditional context, this seemed to make sense.  The man used to be the boss, until the children grew up and supported their mother, then she would have the upper hand. In both my parents and my in-laws case, the husband took on a very traditional role of bringing in an income and never ever helping with the home or children – the very idea was strange to them.  Their say was final and their way was law.

So now more than 40 years on, as the men of the household lose their dominance, mum-in-law gets really upset about the fact that she never had any help and dad-in-law listens even less then usual.  So while she is protective of him and looks our for his needs, she gets really, really cross with him.  They have had a few squabbles over little things like what to cook and whose going into the bathroom next.  A few days ago she lost her temper and said she wished she had not come with him, she was too old and poorly for his teasing and obstinance.  I felt for her so much, she has had a lifetime of caring for so many but receiving so very little care in return.  So now whenever she gets really annoyed, she tells dad-in-law to go wash some dishes or go to the masjid to get him out of her hair.

It makes me so grateful for my husband who is caring, helps with the housework and most of all puts others before himself alhamdullilah. It also makes me think of the importance of self-care, investing in your own health and happiness and not losing your own sense of self in the service of your family.  A message for brothers also perhaps, don’t take for granted the wife who serves you with loyalty and love, there may be a day when she is sick of the sight of you and no longer dependent on you, you may then find yourself faced with contempt and loneliness.

May Allah (SWT) grant our parents and elder’s good health in their old age, comfort and peace of mind insh’Allah, may He grant us the opportunity to serve and car for then and be a source of happiness and comfort for them insh’Allah, ameen.

Your Lord has commanded that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to your parents.  If one of them or both of them reach old age with you, do not say to them a word of disrespect, or scold them, but say a generous word to them.  And act humbly to them in mercy, and say, “My Lord, have mercy on them, since they cared for me when I was small.” ~ Quran, 17:23-24

The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, "He is not of us who does not have mercy on young children, nor honor the elderly" (Al-Tirmidhi).

Narrated Abu Hurayrah: Allah's Apostle said: Let him be humbled into dust; let him be humbled into dust. It was said: Allah's Messenger, who is he? He said: He who sees either of his parents during their old age or he sees both of them, but he does not enter Paradise (Sahih Muslim).

Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said,“If a young man honours an elderly on account of his age, Allah appoints someone to honour him in his old age.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Ramadan 2019/1440: Thought of the Day 19

The quote for Day 19 of Ramadan from my box of things to think about is:

“Hold onto your Salah because if you lose that then you will lose everything .” ~ Umar Al Farooq (Radi-Allahu anhu)

I recall when two of my brothers-in-laws lived with us some years back, my husband would wake them for fajr (dawn) salah making a great racket in the process, he would make numerous trips to their room until they got up to pray.  One day I complained that they were old enough to get themselves up and he should leave them to it.  Ge replied, he could not bear to see someone he loved receive the punishment of missing their prayers.  Alhamdulillah his words always stayed with me.

As my children get older, there are some things about being religious they have pushed back on. They don’t always want to go to the masjid, don’t even mention a religious talk or event, and they will try every opportunity to get out of the family study circle. As they get older, I have avoided forcing it onto them for fear of pushing them away from the faith and alienating them from us.  My one non-negotiable is the five obligatory daily prayers, even if I have to remind and chase all day. Like my husband, I cannot bear to think of them suffering the punishment for missing the prayers.  But it is also about what prayer brings to your life:
First and foremost, the help and pleasure of Allah (SWT)
An answer to so many of our problems: sustenance (rizq), peace of mind, health, sleeplessness.
A routine to the day that we live by
Discouragement from bad deeds
A good deed that attracts other good deeds.

I hope this one thing they stick to throughout their lives insh’Allah and it becomes a means for them to live good loves and find nearness to Allah (SWT).

Whoever misses his ʿAsr prayer, it is as if his wealth and family had been taken away from him.” (Narrated by An-Nasā’i in his ‘Sunan’, on the authority of Nawfal b. Mu’āwiya)

“A man came to the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) and asked him about the greatest of good deeds, to which he responded, ‘The Ṣalah’. The man asked, ‘Then what?’ He replied, ‘As-Ṣalāh’. The man asked again, ‘Then what?’ The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, ‘As-Ṣalāh’ three times (Narrated by Aḥmed in his ‘Musnad’, on the authority of ʿAbdullāh b. ʿAmr)

“Whoever prays the Fajr prayer, then for that day, such a person is under the protection of Allāh.” (Tabrani)

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “The first action for which a servant of Allah will be held accountable on the Day of Resurrection will be his prayers. If they are in order, he will have prospered and succeeded. If they are lacking, he will have failed and lost. If there is something defective in his obligatory prayers, then the Almighty Lord will say: See if my servant has any voluntary prayers that can complete what is insufficient in his obligatory prayers. The rest of his deeds will be judged the same way.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhī 413)

Picture of the Day 23.05.19: St Martin-in-the-Fields

I don’t commute into the city anymore thankfully, but had to travel to Trafalgar Square for a work conference.  I didn’t like the commute much (personal space is a good thing in my opinion), but I have to admit I was excited at getting away from my desk to somewhere interesting.  Even more so when I googled the location, and realised it was St Martin-in-the-Fields the iconic church near Trafalgar Square that it is kind of in the background, but you don’t really think of.

It turned out that there is a modern looking entrance a few metres away that leads you underground to conference rooms and a cafe under the crypt.  I spent the day there listening to speakers talking about children’s rights and how we can protect them and give children a voice in things that matter to them and affect them.  A really interesting day and I learned so much.

I had a wander around during the lunch break to see the mini gallery of paintings.  The pics below are the ceiling of the café and from the walkway which is made up of ledger stone's commemorating the dead.  

I wouldn’t mind coming back here for lunch or coffee with one my sisters to soak up the atmosphere.

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Ramadan 2019/1440: Thought of the Day 18

The quote for Day 18 of Ramadan from my box of things to think about is:

“A person who acts without knowledge is like someone who travels without a guide, and it is known that a person like this is more likely to be destroyed than saved.” ~ Hassan Al-Basri (RA

Subhan’Allah, one of the things that comes up often in the sisters halaqah (study circle), that I occasionally go to is the importance of knowledge about religion.  The view is that you should have sufficient knowledge to carry out your duties as Muslim and understand where the prohibitions are. To do any good deed you have to firstly make intention to please Allah (SW) and secondly know the right way to carry out the deed - whether it is salah, hajj, or paying zakat. If you do not have the knowledge, it may be that you spend your whole life spending time and effort on doing a deed and find it is not accepted because you do it wrong.

“Read. In the name of your Lord, who created.” ~ Qur’an 96:1

“Allah will raise the status of the people whom are studying and those that believes in dunya and aakhirah.” ~ Qur’an 58:11

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “For you to go in the morning and learn a single verse from the book of Allah (SWT) is better than you offering 100 rakat of Salaah. For you to go in the morning and learn a single chapter of knowledge, whether it is practiced or not, is better than offering 1000 rakat in Salaah.” (Sunan ibn Majah)

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “For him who goes out in search of religious knowledge. Allah (SWT) shall make easy the way to heaven.” (Muslim)

Happy Muslim Mama – GCSE’s, Fasting and Growing Up

Little Lady is currently in the middle of her GCSE exams and thankfully focused on her studies. As usual, she is being cool, collected and somewhat aloof in the face of my worrying.  As usual I am anxious and want to take away her tiredness and burden.  When I started blogging she was about 5 and my lovely, fierce little girl that I loved holding.  Along the way there have been some bumps, some tears and perhaps a reluctance on my part to let go and let her grow up.  The fact that she is now doing GCSE’s seems astonishing to me.  It also breaks my heart as a little reminder that she is 16, growing so fast and with so few years left under our roof until she sets out on her own life journey.  This is exactly the kind of thing that makes her roll her eyes at me…

I have stopped asking her to do her chores and I have been providing her with her favourite foods and sweet treats. She has been studying late into the night and then again after fajr (dawn prayers) for a while.  She has had about half of her exams and says she feels like they went okay.  I tell her she looks like she has lost weight and she rolls her eyes (I think she is secretly pleased). 

I am counting down the days (about three weeks) until she is done and can sleep, eat, rest and play without thought of studies for a few months and I can stop fretting.  Alhamdulillah I am so proud of her for taking her studies seriously and getting on with it and continuing fasting while she has exams.  Please remember her in your dua’s and may Allah (SWT) bless her and all the children sitting their exams absolute success insh’Allah.  May Allah (SWT) make them a source of joy and comfort for their parents and a source of benefit for their communities and this world insh’Allah. Ameen. 

I wanted to take a pic of her desk, but there was such a pile of food wrappers, clothes, makeup and stuff piled over her books, that I couldn’t find an angle that didn’t look like a junk pile, so this stock image will have to do – it’s exactly the kind of thing she would like.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Ramadan 2019/1440: Thought of the Day 17

The quote for Day 17 of Ramadan from my box of things to think about is:

“Allah will help him who moves in the way of Allah.” ~ Abu Bakr as-Siddique (radi allahu anhu)

I couldn’t locate any commentary or analysis of this statement and I struggled to understand what exactly was being referred to.  On the one hand whether this refers to the one that acts exactly according to Allah’s will – moves as Allah (SWT) wishes. On the other whether this is in relation to going out in the path of Allah (SWT), i.e. as a da’ee, someone who teaches the faith.

In the first instance, this goes back to the root meaning of Islam – to submit to Allah (SWT) and live our lives as he commands – from our daily lives to our smallest actions.  Salah is an example of this – in our prayer we put our hands, feet and body in the exact position commanded to us, our body, heart, mind and soul all have a role in the prayer and each submits and acts as commanded.

“No believing man nor any believing woman should exercise any choice in their affair once Allah and His messenger have decided upon some matter. Anyone who disobeys Allah and His messenger has wandered off into manifest error” ~ Quran 33:36.

O you who have believed, obey Allah and His Messenger and do not turn from him while you hear [his order]. ~ Quran 8:20

In the second understanding, all of the fazail, or virtues of the da’ee come to mind:

God, His angels and all those in the Heavens and on Earth, even ants in their ant-hills and fish in the water, call down blessings on those who instruct others in beneficial knowledge.” (Tirmidhi)

The Messenger of Allah (salallahu alaihi wasallam) said,“He who calls others to follow the Right Guidance will have a reward equal to the reward of those who follow him, without their reward being diminished in any respect on that account.” (Muslim)

The da’ee, or the one who walks in the path of Allah (SWT) in this case is the one with the help of Allah.

Whichever the right understanding, it is a powerful reminder that if we focus on obeying Allah (SWT), he will set right our affairs insh’Allah.

Picture of the Day 22.05.19: Leftover Iftar and Coffee Bliss

I managed to have a relatively easy going time this evening.  I usually have a short sunnah nap after work as it allows me to do the night prayer, wake for suhoor and function at work the next day.  Today I set the alarm for 30 minutes (5:30pm) and woke two hours later at 7pm.  Initially I thought it was the following morning, I had missed suhoor and was late for work. It took my addled brain a good five minutes to untwist itself and realise it was the same evening and the kids were not getting up for school, but just milling around in my room while I slept )usually the babies sneak in and sleep next to me alhamdulillah).

My first task after Asr (early evening) prayers was to check what was available for the fast breaking meal.  Considering the fact that we are fasting, I can’t believe how much food accumulates in Ramadan, both home cooked and sent round by neighbours and friends.  My fridge is stuffed, so I didn’t feel like I could justify cooking more, but knew there would be moaning.  So I re-purposed where I could by:
using leftover fruit from yesterday in the fruit salad
Using the last of the chicken filling for sandwiches
Adding some fresh yoghurt and spices to the channa chat to freshen it up

Putting the leftover pakora’s into the air fryer to make them warm and crunchy again.

No one seemed to notice except mum-in-law, who is a expert in reusing and re-purposing anything and everything, so approved.

Once I whizzed through the dishes and cleared the kitchen, I made myself a coffee.  Little Lady helped get the babies in bed, so they were fast asleep by the time I was done.  That left me with some quiet time to enjoy my coffee, some blogging and the company of Gorgeous and his stories about endangered species and climate change, heard with half an ear.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Happy Muslim Mama - Fasting with Children

My oldest three aged 16, 14 and 12 have been keeping all of the fasts with us this Ramadan. Little Lady has been since the last two or three years, Little Man did last year and Gorgeous wants to try this year.  They seem to be coping well and being semi-sensible about it most of the time.

Little Lady is currently sitting her GCSE exam’s and has made the most of the Ramadan routine by studying for a while after suhoor/fajr (dawn) prayers.  Please remember her in your duas insh’Allah.

The boys insist on playing football and then spending the evening telling me how hungry they are.  It has been next to impossible to get them up for suhoor, we struggle to get them to eat and drink a little with cajoling and threats (that we won’t allow them to fast otherwise). You can imagine they make up for it at iftar.

Their fasting has brought out the mama bear in me.  I keep an eye on them and ask them every little while how they feel. I have been making the favourite foods the ask for, mostly unhealthy, reasoning that they have fasted all day and I want them to eat well.  Gorgeous had one day where he started to feel tired and headachey, so I discouraged him from fasting the next day and asked him to drink plenty of water and eat well to prepare his body if he wants to fast again.

When they were younger I would let them keep half fasts or maybe one fast over the weekend and then watch them like a hawk, encouraging them to sleep more, rest more and stay where I can see them – but much I know, but the fasts were so long and I was wary of what they could manage.

The babies, at aged four and six are too young to fast and this year as for the last few years, their school has sent home a letter saying they won’t allow children to fast because the days are too long.  I don’t have a problem with this, because the children are so young, the days so long and the school recognises the younger children would be too tired to study (not to mention managing any health risks).

Today the older three were so tired, they all came home from school and went to sleep.  Little Lady had her maths exam and was all studied out.  Little Man and Gorgeous were a little sleep deprived and the weather had been warm.  They woke before iftar looking refreshed and singing the praises of a five hour nap (is that even a nap?).  Now the older ones are all wide awake and Gorgeous is sitting on my bed reading news and telling about world affairs and endangered species.

What age did your children start fasting and how did you help them manage it? Or if you are young – how old were you and how did you find it?

Ramadan 2019/1440: Thought of the Day 16

The quote for Day 16 of Ramadan from my box of things to think about is:

“True devotion is for itself (Allah): not to desire Jannah and Jahannum.” ~ Rabia Basri (Rābiʿa al-ʿAdawiyya al-Qaysiyya RA)

This quote is based on the supplication of the great Rabia Basri: “O Allah! If I worship You for fear of Hell, burn me in Hell, and if I worship You in hope of Paradise, exclude me from Paradise. But if I worship You for Your Own sake, grudge me not Your everlasting Beauty.” (source).

It makes me think of sincerity of intention and the purity of our love for Allah (SWT).  We grow up learning about heaven and hell in Islam, the one acting as a motivator and the other a deterrent from doing things we shouldn’t.  At the same time Allah rains down so much mercy and love on us that heaven and hell are secondary, the first thing that should make us submit to Allah (SWT) is His sheer love for us and our gratefulness.

Monday, 20 May 2019

Ramadan 2019/1440: Thought of the Day 15

The quote for Day 15 of Ramadan from my box of things to think about is:

“Account yourself before you are brought to account and measure your actions before they are measured.” ~ Umar Al Farooq (Radi-Allahu anhu)

I have a variation of this quote written in a speech bubble above my bedside table as a reminder.  

I do not believe that you can have continuous improvement, whether in work, life, learning a skill or improving your own character, without self-reflection.  So much so, that I included a section in the daily pages of my annual life planner called “Review of the day” – this section asks “What was amazing about today? What could have been better? What will I do differently next time?”

I have tried to do this, whether through journaling, looking back on my day at the end of the day or by talking about my day with my husband.  The small, even tiny changes you make as a result can add up and lead to significant change.

I think there is so much hikmah, or wisdom in this quote – careful daily reflection can be life changing in so many ways: highlighting your mistakes and helping you to stop making the same again.  Helping identify your strengths so you can build on them.  Improving your mindfulness and helping you to slow down and think about things.

Do you have a daily or regular practice of self-review and reflection?