Saturday, December 25, 2010

Reflections of a year gone by

So it’s that time of the year when we look back and wonder where on earth the time went to. Seriously, I remember it being May just the other day (unintended rhyme:)) and now we’re a few days away from 2011. We are indeed living in the days when time flies. In any case I have to say that Alhamdullillah this has been a very good year for me. Surely it has also been a very busy year, but I suppose that anything you want to do takes work. While I’m thankful that the busyness has momentarily stopped and I can take a bit of a rest, I’m also sad for the days gone by. I know that I can never get the days that have passed back and I wonder if I have made the best of that time that I have being given.

I don’t believe in making “New Year’s Resolutions”. It doesn’t really make that much sense to me. I believe that we should be changing, growing and trying to do more valuable things with our time constantly, on an everyday basis. So yes, I would like to make more effort to better myself (on all levels), but this is something that I want to be doing continuously, not just when the new year begins and then as time goes by I forget all my resolutions and resort back to my old ways.

A new year beckons and I have to say that I am quite excited, (although not in the I have butterflies in my stomach and can’t sleep sort of way). I am eagerly anticipating what lies ahead for me in this coming year. With Allah’s will I pray that everything will be good and I am hopeful that whatever happens in my life in the next year will change me for the better. With each passing year we should look at ourselves and evaluate whether we have changed, learnt more, strengthened relationships, helped others, improved ourselves in different ways...but more importantly, we should look at whether we have strengthened our bond with our Creator and at the efforts we have made to reach closeness to Allah Almighty.

For me 2010 has been a year of learning, a year of growing, of eye openers, of building new relationships with new Muslim sisters, and strengthening old friendships. It has been a year of joy and some sadness; a year of stress, craziness, tight deadlines, sleepless nights, new experiences, and eventually peace and contentment. I am not that exact same person I was last year this time and I know that next year this time, I will not be the exact same person that I am now. I only pray that Almighty Allah never leaves me and continues to guide me, because without Allah (SWT) in my life I cannot achieve anything and my life would be absolutely futile.

Shukr Alhamdullillah for the days gone past, and In Shaa Allah the days to come will be even better.

May the Almighty Allah forgive us all, guide and protect us and help us to accept what He has willed for us so that our days on this Earth can be well spent. May Allah bring us closer to him and never leave us alone!

To everyone out there, I wish you all the best for the days to come.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The good feeling of meeting old friends

Last week as I was coming out of the bank I was greeted by an old friend. We used to work together a few years ago. She was waving to me excitedly from across the road. We hadn’t seen each other in a while and so even though we were short of time we stood there speaking, animatedly catching up on recent happenings. As we stood there and spoke, another old friend, who also used to work with us at the same time, suddenly came up to us, she was on her way to the bank as well. We stood there for a few minutes, the three of us chatting and laughing as we spoke.

In a few short minutes we had managed to speak about our most recent happenings, how we’ve been doing, how our families were doing and we even managed to get in some discussion about Muslim women and their contributions to society. After our short break from reality we all walked away to continue with our tedious chores for the day, but we were smiling and we felt quite good.

That’s the way it is with old friends, especially friends who have so much in common with you. You may not see them in years, and when you do you can pick up as if you just saw them yesterday. I believe this is a blessing and mercy from Allah Almighty as well. Allah puts people in our lives, and bonds are created, and for a moment in our lives we spend every day with those people, and then it’s time to move on, but even though we see much less of those friends thereafter, the bonds that were created still continues on, and the good times you’ve spent together will never be forgotten.

This is because each encounter we have with different people contributes to making us who we are today. So in actual fact, we are all linked to one another eternally; sometimes in small ways, and sometimes in big ways. Some things I will never forget from the people I’ve associated with over the years. For instance, one of these friends I met last week is responsible for teaching me how to wrap my headscarf in the way I still wear it now. Other things are more subtle, and we may not even realize how we have being influenced. Even though things may not always be great between us and the people we mix with (we all have our good and bad moments), in the end, the effects that people have had on us cannot be denied. We cannot meet and associate with people and remain unchanged, and this is one of the beautiful things about life. Subhanallah!

So last week my friends and I went in our own directions and we probably won’t see each other for a while again, but it certainly was good to have met my two friends again.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Patience is definitely a virtue

Have you ever being driving behind a really slow car, or worse, a really slow truck. So you become irritated and decide to change lanes, but as soon as you change to the next lane, the slow car in front turns to go somewhere and the lane that you were in then becomes the faster lane, and you’re thinking; “stupid, I should’ve just stayed where I was and had a little patience”. This happened to me again this morning. It’s happened before, and each time I tell myself, “next time I’m just going to have patience and take it easy”, but next time I still find that I am not patient enough, and I am not a speed freak or anything, I just really don’t like being late for appointments and thus I lose my patience. In any case, this morning I really began to think about life and patience.

You often hear that “PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE”, but I guess this has become one of those clich├ęd things that we tend to ignore because we’ve heard it so many times. But seriously, when you really consider these words, you’ll find that it is absolutely true and I think the thing that makes patience the biggest virtue is that it’s something that is not always easy to practise. When I think about things, it seems that most problems in life wouldn’t be a problem at all if we just had patience. All our worries would be non-existent if we just patiently waited to see what Allah (SWT) has planned for our lives.

Allah Almighty repeatedly tells us in the Holy Quraan that through patience and prayer we will be successful, and Allah loves it when we are patient! So how come patience is something so difficult to maintain? I think it’s because we’ve become accustomed to having things our way and getting everything we want when we want it, without having to wait. Everything is so easy for us, Alhamdullillah; but we don't realise that we are in the “instant gratification” age. We don’t know how to wait for things. If we want to buy something we can do that easily, most of us don’t have to save up for ages to buy simple things, like our parents had to do. Of course there’s this interesting thing called “CREDIT”, that’s contributed to this, so it has become easy to get out the credit cards if you don’t have enough cash. (Let me just add here that I am totally against the entire system of credit and of course all the interest money that accompanies it).

Nevertheless, this instant gratification doesn’t only apply to things we buy, it applies to other aspects of our lives as well, and because of this we expect things to happen in our lives immediately and when they don’t, we don’t know how to handle it effectively.

This applies to our duaas (prayers) as well. We know that we should ask Allah (SWT) for things, but then after a short while if it seems that we are not getting what we asked for then we may begin to wonder why our prayers are not being answered. If we were to remain patient then we would see that surely Allah (SWT) has listened to us and accepted our prayers, the results are just going to happen on its own time.

I am guilty of being impatient on many occasions and I have to keep reminding myself of the extreme importance of having patience. It also seems that when we’re supposed to be the most patient, that’s when patience is the hardest to practise. Someone once told me that when you think you can’t be any more patient, that’s when patience actually really begins! Shoo, it seems really daunting doesn’t it, but I really think that this is one of the major keys to living a happy life. There are many examples in my own life that has shown me this, I’m sure that you can find many examples in your life too.

So I guess the next time I’m driving behind a really slow car or truck I should just sit there, take it easy and enjoy the ride, even if it is really, really slow.

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Friday, December 3, 2010

Very Important Lessons-Part 3- The Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) and the Sunnah

This is the final post about the important lessons I learnt in a recent meeting with a local Moulana.

This post is about our relationship with the Beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Moulana posed a very important question to us. He asked us what the reason is that we go to Madinah... We thought that this was obvious at first, but then we began to fumble a bit because knowing this Moulana, the fact that he was asking us this meant that he had an answer that was not so obvious.

Well, we all began to say things like, 'we go there to greet the Prophet (PBUH)', or 'we go there because the Prophet (PBUH) is there', or 'that’s a sunnah because the Prophet (PBUH) went to Makkah from Madinah'... Moulana sat and listened to us silently, as we continued to blurt out what we thought were obvious reasons. Then when we could no longer come up with anything else, he calmly said, ‘well there’s two reasons that we should go to Madinah’.
1.       To fulfil the right of the Prophet (PBUH)
2.       To thank Allah (SWT) for having sent Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) onto this earth.
Naturally Moulana explained this a little bit more. For the first one he explained it as follows: Imagine if a mother and daughter have a fight, and the daughter goes to see the mother thereafter, to greet the mother, because even though they’ve had a fight, the daughter knows that it’s the mother’s right that she goes to greet. So she goes, and while she’s there she realizes how much pain she’s put her mother in. This will soften her heart and remind her that she should be pleasing her mother and not displeasing her. This will make her want to do whatever the mother wants, right?

So, likewise, when we go to see the Prophet (PBUH) because it’s his right that we go and greet him, when we’re standing there in front of the Beloved Prophet, we should reflect on how much pain we may be causing him by abandoning his sunnah (teachings and way of life), and when we do this, it should make us want to change. We should then make the intention to change our lives and start following the way of the Prophet (PBUH). Thus, our hearts should be softened and we should repent to Allah.

Since our love for the Prophet (PBUH) is supposed to be more than even our own parents, imagine how much distress we should feel when we realize that we may be causing pain for the Prophet (PBUH) because of our actions. We are his Ummah, so if we do not act accordingly, then this is a cause of distress.

Can you see how this Moulana always makes us think about things in a meaningful way, even though we think it’s so simple and obvious? What I like is that what he has to say always makes us reflect on our own lives, even though this self-reflection is difficult, it’s necessary. Every time I self-reflect I am forced to focus on how much I don’t know and all the things that I should be doing, but am not currently doing.  It’s very scary, but Alhamdullillah, it helps to give me perspective and through Allah’s mercy each time it helps me to do a little bit more.

The second reason for going to Madinah, to thank Allah (SWT) for sending the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is something that we all know about a bit more. Allah (SWT) sent the Prophet (PBUH) as a mercy to all humanity so we should be thankful for this all the time because we will never fully be able to comprehend just how much of a mercy the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is.

Since hearing about these 2 specific intentions, I really wish that I could be invited by Allah Almighty to go to Madinah again. If this was to happen then Insha’Allah I would be able to make these 2 intentions and hopefully earn the pleasure of Allah (SWT) and also bring my life more towards the sunnah. If I never get to go to Madinah again then it is also okay, because as the Moulana explained to us, Allah might be more pleased with someone who prays a million miles away if their intention is corrected, and that person who may never get to go to Madinah may be closer and more beloved to the Prophet (PBUH) than the one standing right in front of him in Madinah. So Alhamdullillah, wherever we are we can still strive to perfect our intentions and bring our lives towards Allah and the Messenger (PBUH).

May the Almighty Allah be with us all and help us to bring our lives more towards the beautiful Sunnah of our beautiful Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Insha'Allah Ameen!

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