Sunday, July 25, 2010

Immersed in an orthodox environment

Bismillahi rahmani Raheem

First of all, I can't believe that 2 days are already gone. And this year we have a 8-day programme versus last year's 2 weekend immersion :( In no time, we will be getting ready to leave insha Allah. We have fewer subjects this year; I wish we had more time- I am sure many students are wishing for the same. Nevertheless, the classes are exciting, boosting the eman, bringing us closer to Allah alhamdulillah. I pray that Allah keeps increasing these essentials even after ilm Summit, aameen.

Before, I list the subjects and the Shuyookh who are educating us, just mentioning a gem that is on the tip of my tongue now. It is nothing new and you would have heard it before but nevertheless, it is alwas refreshing to be reminded:

Shaykh Waleed said (paraphrasing- not exact quote): All of us came out of our mother's wombs knowing nothing. Imam Bukhari, Imam Ahmed, me (Shaykh Waleed), you- we all came out knowing nothing. It is what we do, our sincerity, strong conviction, self-discipline that makes a difference. Always purify your intention.

Ok, now our subjects:
1. Tarbiyyah- Book on Zuhd from Jami' At-Tirmidhi - by Shaykh Yasir Qadhi

2. Heresiology - hot one :) and very exciting. - by Sh Yasir

3. Bid'ah- by Shaykh Waleed (I liked this the best so far. Subhana Allah, now I really really understand and appreciate why it is so important to learn Bid'ah to understand Sunnah better.

4. Maqasid- Ath-thaabit wal mutaghayyaraat (Constants and Variables)- no, not algebra. It basically deals with where in Sharia'h and Ahkaam, we can be flexible and where we have to be firm and Shariah legislation cannot be altered with time change and change in location and culture......And this was taught by.......(Islamic drumroll....or no, we were too humbled to even express our excitement by his presence amidst us....) Shaykh Salaah As-Sawy

He was basically doing a review of his book which is in Arabic. He spoke Arabic (masha Allah, very very eloquent and we had on the spot translation by Shaykh Mamdouh Mahmood masha Allah through our microphone headsets. It was cool! I don't know who is more admirable- Sh Sawy or Sh Mamdouh for the simultaneous translating expertise masha Allah, may Allah preserve them both.

Insha Allah we have more subjects (one of them being Islamic Financing taught by Shaykh Jamaal Zarabozo)- but these are what have started already alhamdulillah.

One main point I want to mention here our Shuyookh have really chosen the best topics to teach, in the sense that they have chosen each subject so wisely such that each topic, even though taught by different Instructors are in some way correlated or complement each other, and are also related to the subjects that we learnt in the previous Ilm Summits. Even the "Book of Zuhd" from Jami' At-Tirmidhi is related to the Heresiology that we are studying.

We are so blessed alhamdulillah to be in this place with these great people of our times- that were it that I couldn't attend any of the classes- I would still be obligated to be grateful. And this is because, if nothing (no note taking etc), I am still able to benefit simply from the environment and observing the akhlaq of our beloved shuyookh. It brings tears to my eyes. Subhana Allah, instead of the vice versa, they are literally pampering us. I feel this is something unprecedent in History that we are spoonfed so much, with good food (not to forget the dessert), the air-conditioned room, the liveliness of the style of teaching of the Shuyookh while in reality, we are supposed to take harships on the path of seeking ilm. I think this is a bigger hardship now- the fact that we are so spoilt makes it so hard to struggle and strive.

One incident in particular: Like mentioned before, Shaykh Sawy's class was transmitted to us in the English through individual headphones. And guess who literally sat on the floor, taking each headphone from the carton box and unwinding it, making sure it was working etc.....Shaykh Waleed! (may Allah reward him with Jannatul Firdous and give him a station very close to the Prophet Salla Allahu alaihi wasallam.) SubhanAllah....

May Allah make us among those who value knowledge and respect our Shuyookh, aameen!

Ps: In the title, I mention "orthodox" environment for lack of better words. Perhaps it is very irrelevant usage but what I mean by orthodox is the way of the righteous sahabah and scholars of the past

- the rich culture of true brotherhood where all of us are from different backgrounds, ethnicities and yet, we act like we have known each other forever- loving each other for the sake of Allah purely
- experiencing innocence and purification (the real one....:))
- if not to the level of the salaf , atleast an increase in appreciation for knowledge and authentic texts
- and more....

pps: If you happen to read this...please note that these are just my ramblings, I have no time to re-read this even.

Assalamualikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Train trip and now @ Houston, alhamulillah

Salaam Alaikum Waraahmatullah

Alhamdulillah, we are now in Houston having enjoyed and benefitted much more at Ilm Summit 2010.

We started on Tuesday 10 pm PST from our home and reached here on Friday morning alhamdulillah. The train trip was long obviously, but not as boring or uneventful as expected. Alhamdulillah the kids kept us busy.

We have been reflecting more deeply on "IN SHA ALLAH" and that Indeed He is the best of planners. On Wednesday, 45 mins before we boarded the train, I told my daughter, "Yaay, insha Allah, we are going to get on the train soon." She asks, "Why do you haveto say 'insha Allah' now? We are here already and just in minutes, we are going to be on the train." (My daughter is 3 and a half, and just so that you get a more visual picture, she has been waiting now for over a month for this train trip, as we have been planning to the best of our ability for many months.) Anyway, I told her that we still haave to remmeber that anything will happen only if Allah wills.
As we checked in our baggage, the officer for the reason of not having a proper ID with me, denied me a boarding pass subhana Allah and cancelled my ticket.

We gave up trying not to get upset and making dua' for the khair. My daughter made a lot of dua' too. Like an answer to our dua', the lady at the information desk approached us (Subhana Allah, Allah put that thought into her heart to come and help us out; she got out of her glass cube and came to us). Alhamdulillah, she was in control of the Texas Eagle administration (may Allah guide her to Islam) and here, we are by the Mercy of Allah. In the end, i can only think of good that came out of this small predicament or problem if I may call it so. my daughter understood why and how it is so appropriate to say Insha Allah even if you are going to do something the very next minute. And also, it gave us a chance to sincerely beg for forgiveness and ask Allah for help, renewing our intentions for coming here...so on and so forth.

SubhanAllah, my second obstacle was our babysitter cancelled on us. Till last afternoon, I thought I wouldn't be able to attend classes, or we would have to take turns. Again, it made me reflect. After the hassle at the train station, you would think "ok, so now you are already at the place of the event. Unless you fall sick or Allah wishes to take your soul, you will attend". Not not having a babysitter though. Once again, Allah Azza wajal made it easy for all of us. For now, we found a babysitter. Let's wait and see what was in store for us insha Allah.

I missed few sessions yesterday but alhamdulillah I was able to attend since the babysitter arrived. May Allah bless her and reward her immensely.

The Friday "opening/ welcome session" was amazing. Just uplifted us to a whole new level of spirutiality and prepared our minds for the academia that we will be exposed to. Also humbled us greatly....for many facts, one of them being that here, we all were travelling students of knowledge who made efforts and spend our money to come here. But what we did is nothing compared to the likes of Imam Bukhari, Shafi', Malik and others (Rahimahum Allahu ta'ala). The likes of Jabir bin Abdullah radiya Allahu anh who travelled to hear one hadeeth- just one- and the probability is high that perhaps he had already heard it from the others (with longer chain of narrators and so he wanted to hear directly from the one who had heard it from the Prophet Salla Allahu alaihi wasallam). How much did they value knowledge and how much do we?

And the likes of Abu Ayyub Al-Ansari who travelled from Medina to Egypt for one hadeeth (the hadeeth of concealing your brother's fault in this world) when traveling in those days is not like our times. How much do you think he would have valued that hadeeth? That would naturally lead it to committed implementation. Today we do not value ahadeeth as it should be, otherwise we would hasten to implement it with much sincerity and conviction.

Insha Allah, I will post some gems soon. Got to run to class......

Monday, July 12, 2010

Countdown to Ilm Summit & A Big Question!

Bismillah Ar-Rahmani Ar-Raheem

Assalamualikum warahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu

I haven't been here for a long time now, 4 months or more. Alhamdulillah

I think it was because writing was becoming difficult for me due to the style of writing I had opted for, in the beginning. So, now I am going to change that...here I am mainly going to ramble, or rather I write in the style that suits my mind insha Allah. I pray only good will come out of that, for myself and for readers (if any)

Plus, the guilt of whether I am implementing what I write about. Do I have the right to preach it? (Even though I was merely sharing what I learnt and not preaching anything new)

And then now...Now, I am thinking what benefit came out of that guilt and not blogging! When I used to write, I would hold myself more accountable of my actions...

So anyway...
Alhamdulillah, my husband and I got accepted for Ilm Summit this year. And we are preparing ourselves (more mental preparation required than just packing our stuff). I am praying that I will be able to share some of the things I learn and experiences from which I benefit or hope that others can benefit insha Allah.

Last Ilm Summit was our first time. We kind of knew what to expect from the experiences of the previous year's ilm Summitters, but experience is the best teacher. This year we hope we will do better and take more advantage of this blessing insha Allah and push ourselves to greater goals. For example, last year I was not able to attend the tajweed sessions after fajr as my kids would be sleeping in the room (and I would also sleep). This year, insha Allah I plan to pack a baby monitor. And even if that doesn't work out, insha Allah I hope Shaykh Uthman (from Shatibiyyah institute) will attend this year too, and that I will be able to recite to him so that he can critique my tajweed and teach me.

Another thing I want to do better this year insha Allah is sharing what we learn with others. And blogging will help insha Allah. For me, if I know I need to share or teach someone else what I learn, then I listen better. Last year, our Shuyookh stressed so much on teaching others what we learn. The image of Sh yasir telling it still rings in my head. One may feel he/ she is not knowledgeable enough to teach, but everyone can be a mere conveyer of what someone else just told you. And in order to do so with ihsaan, record and document well.

My biggest question- my kids! They are ofcourse, coming with us insha Allah, and we don't have a baby sitter yet. It is so difficult to find a good one local in Houston when we are here. (Anyone reading this and have any leads on this, please let me know. Jazakum Allahu kahyr!) last year, we had a wonderful baby sitter alhamdulillah, may Allah reward her abundantly- I still make dua' for her. I don't think she will be able to baby sit this year, plus now that my kids are older, I hope we can get someone who can teach-and-play with more activities and crafts etc. I pray Shaykh Yasir and Br Haytham will arrange atleast a room for baby sitting so that our kids won't be confined to the hotel room all day insha Allah. May Allah make it easy for us and our kids. I really don't want to waste their time while we enjoy!

Even though I said "my biggest question" above, that is not the "A Big Question!" mentioned in the title of this post. The real big question is: have I changed after my first ilm Summit experience? Ilm Summit is supposed to be the life-changing event in many people's lives- but have I nurtured the seed that we all had sown last year and watered it and taken care of the flower buds that I had envisioned? Well, I don't want to be pessimistic about myself (even though deep inside, I am not happy with myself), so I look ahead at the future insha Allah and hope to really learn from my mistakes. May Allah guide me always and increase me and all of you, aameen!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Al-Hadiyah Issue 2 Published!!!

Bismillah Ar-Rahmani Ar-Raheem

Assalamualikum warahmathullahi wabarakathuh

Bringing to you, our second issue alhamdulillah. Hope you like it, and enjoy reading it. Please forward it to anyone you think, will find it beneficial.
Al-Hadiyah, Vol 1, Issue 2 (Feb 2010)

We would like to thank everyone who contributed to Al-Hadiyah. JazakumAllahu khayran! The magazine wouldn’t exist without valuable contributions. We pray for your and our continued growth through this magazine inshAllah.

Last but not the least, please let us know if you would like to purchase the product as a hard copy. There’s nothing more relaxing than having a cup of coffee with a magazine in hand- a magazine you will love! Please email us at editor.alhadiyah@gmail.com if you would like to order a copy and we will get back to you asap. We are currently working on setting up a system where you can purchase it online.

Jazakum Allahu khayran

With prayers to see you at the highest level in both the worlds,
Al-Hadiyah team

Monday, January 25, 2010

Alhamdulillah, its all for the good

Hana was a very active person in the community. She was never seen sitting at a place. Always involved in something- be it dropping somebody home, doing errands for a needy, giving her service to the masjid etc. She was that cheerful person, always ready ready to give someone her helping hand, an ear to listen to. She would never go unnoticed because of her heart-warming smile, her long strides (as she was always in a rush to complete her task at hand, so that she can jump to do the next one) and her greetings (Salam Alaikum) to anybody she passed by.

Nine months back, she met with an accident which caused her to become paralysed. She was in the hospital when we went to visit her. As we waited at the door for the nurse to come out, we looked at each other with anxious faces. We were wondering what we would tell her, how we could console her.

But, as we entered the room, we immediately fell at ease as her warm smile as ever, lit the room. After greetings between her and us, she commented, "Alhamdulillah, He gave me a chance to sit and relax, so that I can spend more time reading and memorising the Quran!" SubhanAllah, we were dumbstruck for a moment. What trust in Allah, what submission to the Lord Azza Wajal, what sincere acceptance of Qadr of Allah!

And today, she is a Hafidha-al-Qur'an. Allahu Akbar! Allah is Al-Hakim, The Wise. He took away her ability to walk and work, but He will inshAllah make easy for her, her walk to Jannah because she is a carrier of the Quran now.

(True story changed; details changed a little bit)

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Another friend of mine, a true story too.

Within 2-3 months of marriage, she was diagnosed with cancer. It had spread to the whole of her leg, medication and chemotherapy wouldn't help and her whole leg had to be amputated. Anybody would have fallen into extreme depression with this and her new husband's decision to divorce her. (Can't blame him as he was also very young and he was starting his life....what good would a wife in this situation so early in marriage be?)

But she stayed tough for Allah SWT says in the Quran: Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope. (Surah Al-Baqara: 282) and so, Allah gave her strength to bear this ordeal. She knew that Allah wouldn't test her without bestowing upon her the ability to bear it.
Today she is single, she is studying; she is happy. And most of all, she has turned more to Her Lord in submission. She is learning her deen more, and appreciating Allah's wisdom. She prays Allah purifies her soul and expiates her sins for her. (Aameen)
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These sisters are amazing people mashAllah. How many people, at the strike of calamity/ difficulty turn away from their Lord, cursing their qadr. How many people actually appreciate the bounties from Allah more when something relatively bad happens to them? Or even if they are patient, how many of us take advantage of such a situation to make more dua' and become religious.
We might become religious while we are tested, and when all goes well again, we forget. We forget how feeble we are, in comparison with everything else that is happening to us, around us. We forget how helpless we are and how much in need of Our Creator, Our Sustainer we are. We forget the true essence of "Allahu Akbar"- that nothing in this world is greater than Allah. That nothing in this world is worth dying for, other than for the sake of Allah. (I don't mean, dying in the literal sense- rather, running behind worldly pleasures even though it might be against what Islam teaches.) We forget that this duniya is like the water retained on a needle when dipped in the ocean.
May Allah make us among the inhabitants of Jannathul Firdaws. May Allah make us steadfast in our religion.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Strength Within: Youth of The Ummah

Bismillahi Ar-Rahmani Ar-Raheem

Alhamdulillah, this New Year's weekend, we were able to invest our time in a very beneficial vacation. We drove to Sacramento for a conference and the theme was the title you see above. The Youth of our Ummah is our kids. As parents, one can never read or learn enough about parenting, its challenges, responsibilities, how one should tackle problems, what are the problems of today etc....A parent is always yearning to hear new techniques, methods and tips subhanAllah...And this is because of many reasons:

1. You love your kids to death. You want the best for them always. You want the best for them in this duniya, and if you yourself firmly believe in the aakhirah and its eternity, you want the best for them in the aakhirah too.

2. A muslim parent think of this blessing (the blessing of having a child to invest into) as a trust from Allah. And as with anything that has been entrusted, you want to make sure you keep it safe, protect it from external harm.

3. Having a righteous child who will make dua for you, is one of the three things mentioned in the hadeeth An-Nabiyyu Sallallahu alaihiwassalam, that the reward of which will continue to culminate. I see it as a kind of selfishness on the parent's part for wanting to have a righteous child- the greed for continuous reward.

Some pointers on how we can do our best in ensuring our kids will be on the straight path- the path that Allah wants us to tread on:

1. Proper Communication with them:

Usually, when we talk about good communication skills, we think of the best manner to convey your message, having eye contact while you speak, using the language that is easy to understand. Well, you do not have proper communication skills even if you master the art of speech till you have also mastered the art of listening. Being a good listener needs much more training than being a good speaker. And some of the elements needed are lot of patience, a sincere interest in the other person and controlling your inner force that tells you "You have to make your point". As Sheikh Yasser Fazzaqa (Hafidhahullah) said, the person is more important than the point.

Listen to your child. Only through listening will you know your child. If we do not listen to them whne they are really young, you will not be able to hear them as they enter their teens. Its going to be too late and will leave you to fret over "I cannot understand my 15 year old." Your child must be given the freedom of conveying her feelings, emotions and discussing everything that happens in his/her life.

Also, to bring them up to be a listener of what you, as a parent, say to them, you have to teach them to listen. And the only way to teach them that is by practising it yourself inshAllah.

2. Mutual respect:

Well, the goal is for them to respect you since you are the parent. But again, the best way to teach how to respect is by respecting them (and hence, the mutual respect). Respect their feelings, their visions; let them have a say in family matters especially if it is concerning them. Give them a choice, allow them to choose from within their limits.

There is one aspect of respect which can become fear of the parent. This is dangerous, and it can lead them to become liers and hypocrites. This is a scary line for myself to draw. But if parents could always remember not to be imposing or dictating, it could help inshAllah. "Because I said so" should not be the reason for their obedience. Rather there is a higher ultimate reason- it is not good for you, Allah loves for you to do that/avoid that and Allah's Magnificient promise of reward.

3. You are what your friends are:

Man, in general, is impressionable- let alone kids. We get influenced by the people we hang out with. And we always want to belong to a niche. A group where we feel comfortable and cozy at. Especially for our young ones, they sometimes feel more at home- not at home, but with their peer group. They have a lot in common. With this in mind, we need to:

a. Be a friend for them.

Lower yourself to them, where they feel comfortable establishing a friendship with you (ofcourse while being a matured parent too) Try to be in their shoes.

b. Make sure you connect them with kids whose parents share your values too.

c. Just like how "Home Sweet Home", let "Masjid Sweet Masjid" be too- because thats where they meet nice people.

Let trips to the Masjid be a way to reward your children when they have behaved well. There are many reasons for this to be a rewarding experience: Khalas and Ammus say "MashAllah, you look cute/ you are so good" etc. The Imam/ Sheikh/random people giving the child candies, lollipops (which I am starting to have a problem with). Alhamdulillah, our masjid has a nice cafeteria, a playground and it would be nice for all community builders to have structures like these built in the Islamic Center/ adjoining the masjid. (Youth rooms where they can chill, relax, read, hang out with halal friends, maybe play some halal video games etc. is another luring attraction for the youth)
Dont decide on one fine day that you need to take your child to the masjid because lately he/she is not being good, and so he needs some discipline, and so "Baba is taking you to masjid". This would sound like a punishment.
Masjid should be a frequent thing if not everyday.
Masjid should not be a rare thing like Sunday school.
4. And Sunday school is not what our beautiful deen is:
There are these 2 kids I love a lot (and my heart goes out to them). I pray that Allah increases them in their knowledge and deen, and make them a positive influence for their families and their community. So they go for Sunday school and they experience the beauty and purity of our Deen alhamdulillah. They love what they learn there. They love to try out and practise what they learn there. It makes them feel good about themselves, they feel happy when they think about pleasing Allah.
At home, its different. SubhanAllah! Their parents mashAllah give a lot of consideration in providing them with the best provisions, enrolling them in programmes that will develope their personality and can be added to their list of achievements for this Dunya. But when it comes to Deen, its a "Sunday school" thing.
Islam is too beautiful and perfect to implement only when needed. Islam is a complete way of life. Islam is the way that will beautify one's aakhirah too.
5. Which made me remember: Avoid contradictions- between what they are taught and they see in their role models- The Parents
When they see contradictions, they reduce deen to a text book science. It even promotes a hypocritic nature.
For example: They are taught the importance of Salah. And they notice the parents go to sleep before praying Isha.
6. Educate them about the challenges they will face according to their age.
Exposing them to the challenge is a risky way to teach, in my opinion. But if they are not exposed, they won't know. Or they will come to know from the very same people we do not want to hear from/ learn from. So we need to educate them in the best possible manner according to their age.
For example: Drug Abuse and addiction is fast spreading to very young kids, even to 8 year olds. So, dont hesitate to educate them about it.
Talk to them about Gender Relations, Alcohol, Music- their bad effects and how Allah has made harmful things haram for us.
Educate them that Allah wants only good for us, and He wants to protect us from harm, and that is why Islam has rules, obligations and laws which we need to follow for safguarding ourselves.
These are just some points I wanted to talk about, but in conclusion we should also remember that Allah Azza Wajal commanded us to save ourselves first and then He Subhanahu Wa ta'ala mentioned our families:
"Oh you who has believed, protect yourself and your families from the Fire". (Surah At-Tahreem: 6)
So, nurturing first should start at the individual level, then the kids. On the Day of Qiyamah, we will stand alone, each accountable for what he/she has done. No matter how righteous our child would have grown upto be, it will not avail us if we are not practising righteousness ourselves.
May Allah accept our dua, and a'mal what we do for His Sake. May He make us and our children among the swaliheen, shuhada', anbiya' and give us th best companionship in Jannathul Firdaws....aameen
Wa aakhir da'wana anil hamdu lillahi rabbil 'aalameen.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

When asked to talk about "The Art Of Achievement"

First of all, I am not someone who has achieved the ultimate success or something that I can sit back, relax and write about this....I am only writing this as per my friend's (my sister in Islam) suggestion....

I guess nobody should feel that they have reached the ultimate success, in the first place...We are a greedy species..and so just like how we "want" more of everything, we should be wanting to "do more" too....We should be desiring to excel more in the sight of Allah, first and foremost, just as the Sahaba Radhiyallahu anhum were always seeking from the Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wasallam to know of the greatest deeds contrary to today's lazy man. We are not as ambitious as the righteous Salaf of the past when it comes to investing for the aakhirah.

Here are some reminders I go back to when I feel down or discouraged, and I have things to accomplish:

1. Sincerity and commitment:
These 2 factors in itself should be behind one's motivational drive. Your sincerity and commitment could be to your kids and family, to your job, to a good consistent deed that you are trying to keep up with- it can be anything. But the most important is sincerity to Allah SWT and commitments to your duties you do for His Sake. For example, you just started on a physical fitness program. You are driven by the fact that you have to lose 10 lbs or so, in order that you will be able to fit into that dress that's been hanging in your closet for a while now. This motivation could drive you for a while- either you become successful in losing these extra 10 lbs and then you quit caring about your physical fitness, or you become like the fox who decided that the unreachable grapes were sour anyway (you give up). But if you are focusing on your fitness so that you can become a better person for the sake of Allah and for accumulating more for your aakhirah, then you and I will be driven forever bi idnillah.

2. The right kind of tawakkul and dua = giving your best effort + relying on Allah SWT for results + optimistic about whatever comes out is from Allah and Allah knows best, and is the best of planners.

3. Get yourself prepared to face challenges and obstacles. Don't expect everything to go perfectly- if it did, you wouldn't savor the sweetness of what you have achieved. Hardwork and sweat gives you satisfaction at the end of the day.

4. Believe in yourself even if nobody else does. Don't expect support and encouragement always. Sometimes, even the people you love and turn to the most, can fail you. But keep going, for the sake of Allah.

5. Seek advice from people you know can guide you. Keep company who can benefit you.

6. When you face difficulties, remember to ask Allah alone, and again remind yourself- Allah knows what is best for you.

7. Think of great people of the past whom Allah is pleased with. (May Allah make you and me from among those with whom Allah is pleased.)

8. Laziness will just make you depressed afterward. But if you have been lazy or made any mistake, forgive yourself. Learn from your mistakes- don't allow your mistakes to cling to you like leeches and take advantage of you.

9. Eat well, Sleep (rest/relax) well and play well(have a physical activity other than regular housework).

10. Accept criticism with a good heart....Ok, don't even consider them as criticism, see them as opportunities to learn from, ponder...if it doesn't pertain to you in anyway that you can improve, forget it. Love everybody. Forgive and forget. Be happy. Be positive.