Posts Tagged ‘Reflections’

There Was An Old Woman Who Swatted A Fly…

// May 30th, 2013 // No Comments » // Blog

A big, fat fly, was buzzing around my room today. Odd, because it has been rainy and cold since Monday (i.e., not typical big, fat fly weather). In fact, I think it might have been the first fly of 2013.

As I feebly tried to shoo the little buzzer out of my room, I half remembered a Quranic verse – something about not being able to defeat a measly fly. I could relate.

An hour later, I am sat with the Qur'an as part of my daily ritual. I try to be consistent in reading a little every day, but the reality is, some days I read one page, some days three, and some days none (astagfirullah).

So it was a shock when I unexpectedly came across this ayah:

“You people, here is an illustration, so listen carefully: those you call on beside God could not, even if they combined all their forces, create a fly, and if a fly took something away from them, they would not be able to retrieve it. How feeble the petitioners are and how feeble are those they petition!” [Qur'an, 22:73]

When 'coincidences' such as this occur, it's quite an event as I know it is not something that I could have planned, even subconsciously. I always respond the same way: my eyes pop, my jaw drops, and sometimes, I even giggle – I think that's a natural response to a surprise, right?

There is so much that can be taken from this experience. But the lesson that touches my heart the most is that Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) (glorified and exalted be He) remembered me.

Pathetic, little me is on the radar of the Supreme Being.

Honestly, I needed that reminder. Allahu akbar.

Did You Make Dua Today?

// October 20th, 2010 // 2 Comments » // Blog

I received the following quote in an email forward this morning. I hope it benefits you, inshā’Allāh:

“I am not worried about whether my du'a will be responded to, but rather I am worrried about whether I will be able to make du'a or not. So if I have been guided by Allāh to make du'a, then (I know) that the response will come with it”

[Umar bin al Khattab radi Allāh anhu]

Love For Other People What You Love For Yourself

// May 17th, 2010 // 1 Comment » // Blog

The following story was published back in March as part of a MuslimMatters post titled “On the Fingers of Abu Hurayrah…..Towards a Noble Life“. Since then, it has come to mind so many times during the course of normal, everyday interactions, I had to track it down, and bookmark it here.

“Love for other people what you love for yourself and you will be a (perfect) Muslim.” – Prophet Muhammed, sallalahu 'alayhi wa salam

An extraordinary example of putting this teaching into practice is that of some of our righteous predecessors.

Ibrahim al-Nakha'ee (rahimahullah) was a'war al-'ayn (blind in one eye), and his student Sulayman ibn Mihran suffered from weak eyesight (a'mash al-'ayn). Ibn al-Jawzi related a story about them in his book Al-Muntathim that they were walking in the streets of Al-Kufah headed to the masjid.

As they were walking, Imam Al-Nakha'ee said, “Sulayman, can you take one road and I take another? For I fear that if we were to pass together by the foolish people, they would say, 'A'war – one eyed – is leading an a'mash – bleary eyed- (through the road) and they would then have backbitten us and fallen into sins.”

So Sulayman replied, “O Abu 'Imran! What is wrong then when we are rewarded while they are sinful?”

Ibrahim al-Nakha'ee replied, “SubhanaAllah! Bal naslam wa yaslamun! Rather, that we be safe (from their backbiting) and they be safe (of sin) is better than if we are rewarded and they are sinful!”.

[al-Muntathim fee Tareekh al Muluk wal Umam]

This is a form of altruism that we all desperately need to adopt. There is a lot of bitterness, enmity and ill-will amongst us. We need to improve ourselves and one another with a far more loving attitude. May Allāh make it easy for us, āmīn.

The Surprising Science of Motivation

// November 17th, 2009 // 2 Comments » // Blog

I've been quickly getting through my pile of unwatched TED videos, during my daily one hour commute to and from uni. Everyday I say to myself: “Wow! I must post this on the blog!”, only to forget… which is probably a good thing, considering the number of “wow” moments I have recently experienced which would lead to the blog becoming a TED mirror site.

Anyway, the following video evoked a much larger 'wow' than the rest, because of the extent that the advice contained therein is so contrary to widespread public opinion. The engaging speaker, Dan Pink, proves that when it comes to motivation, the carrot and stick approach doesn't always work. Who knew?

Consider the impact that such research has on the city's 'bonus culture', which has been dominating the headlines of late? And of greater import: the nature of mainstream education. I feel like I've been bred to only perform in the presence of pressure, which means I'm always leaving things to the last minute. If only I could work effectively without threats of failure looming over my head!

Therefore, I urge you to watch the video… but I won't offer you any extra incentives to do so. ;)

Career analyst Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don't: Traditional rewards aren't always as effective as we think. Listen for illuminating stories — and maybe, a way forward.

My Dream Boy

// November 13th, 2009 // 5 Comments » // Blog

Inspired by this post.

About a month ago I dreamt that I was on a journey with someone – a man; someone I'm somewhat familiar with in real life. We had stopped somewhere en route, and were using the computer room.

Swinging round in my swivel chair, I came to face to face with a young boy, maybe six years old or so. I said “hi”, in the kind of gentle way that you would with a small child… but for some unknown reason, he responded by launching into an unannounced bear hug! It felt like the type of sincere embrace that a child would give if they were scared, lonely, and needed reassurance.

I didn't know the boy at all, but I was so moved by this simple gesture, by his implicit trust in me, that I couldn't let go. As his chest lay upon mine, I felt my heart beat so strongly – almost painfully. I suspected that someone had abandoned him there, and that he had latched onto me like a lost puppy, hoping that I would love him. The whole experience evoked such a powerful maternal instinct in me; I just knew in my bones that I was meant to protect him.

I turned to my travel companion (whilst still engaged in the bear hug), who was sat on a nearby terminal. And as soon as I did, I saw a little girl do the exact same thing to him! I knew – as one usually 'knows' in dreams – that the little girl was the little boy's sister. They had both been abandoned.

We carried the children to our car – a large, black 4 x 4. I was so sad. I wanted to take them with us. I wanted to make them mine, and never let them be alone again. In the background, I listened to my companion share his opinions on how unfortunate the whole situation was… but I could tell without asking that he was unwilling to take the children. He was being the sensible man; I, the emotional woman – though I reluctantly understood his perspective, and didn't argue. I remember the solemn look on my face, and how I secretly hoped that it would be enough to make him change his mind.

Well, it seemed to have worked! Because as the dream advanced to the next 'scene', it was several years in the future. The travel companion and I were now married (I assume we weren't before), and the children were ours.

There was more to the dream, which has now been forgotten, and so I assume it was less significant. The strangest part, however, happened after I awoke. I made the opening takbir for Fajr salat. I went to place my hands on my chest, and subhanallah, I felt the same strong, painful, feeling of empathy in my heart, as I did during my embrace with the little, lost child.

As I prayed, I wept. All for the love of my dream boy.

Why Can Muslims Eat Big Macs?

// November 7th, 2009 // 7 Comments » // Blog

The following is a response to a post written by one of my colleagues at Ijtema.net, on the conditions that make meat permissible for Muslims to eat. Here is an extract to whet your appetite:

The whole zabiha vs. non-zabiha debate can get pretty emotional and even lead to fights. Surprisingly when one learns about it in some depth it's not all that complicated. I will list the 5 conditions the 'ulema have laid down for a slaughter to be permissible to eat, and then list some common misconceptions about the concept of zabiha.

The following five conditions must be met together when slaughtering an animal that is permissible to eat and requires slaughter… Click to read more

I recommend you read that post first – one, because it contains useful fiqhi info, and two, because my response will naturally make more sense that way.

Response

Tbh, the only thing I'd like explained to me, is why a Big Mac purchased in any McDonalds branch located in Western secular democracies, such as the UK and USA (for the most part), is considered by some to be permissible for Muslims to eat?

I completely understand the ruling about the meat of animals slaughtered by the Christians and Jews being permissible (excl. porcine flesh, blood, etc). But unlike the label 'Kosher', which actually has some value and meaning attached to it, McDonalds, and by extension, most fast food retailers in the West, do not offer any guarantee that the cows used in their burgers have been slaughtered by either a Christian or a Jew (irrespective of their level of practising).

Are the scholars who condone this working on a matter of probability? I.e., the majority (whatever % that is) of citizens in the US identify themselves as Christians, and hence the likelihood of the person slaughtering the animal being a Christian is high, and thus the meat automatically becomes permissible, unless clearly stated otherwise?

I really am curious, because I know a few people who follow the “People of the Book” rule that far, but they never ask the person serving the meat who did the slaughtering. We don't need to ask if the product is sold as halal/ kosher – but otherwise, shouldn't there be some responsibility on the individual consumer to at least enquire?

Considering how, in the West, tasks of manual labour (especially such messy, unpleasant ones) are usually consigned to low paid immigrants, which could be of any religion – and also, how meat can, and is, imported from anywhere in the world – I think such a 'catch-all' fatwa is more than a little risky.

In the UK, we are blessed in that halal meat is relatively easy to obtain – at least if you live in cities and towns with significant Muslim populations. However, that didn't happen overnight. This state of ease came about through necessity. The first generation of Muslims wanted to feed their families food that they could trust was halal. Without this demand, the market to supply halal produce – a market presently worth millions of pounds annually – would not have been established.

There are about two million Muslims in the UK but an estimated six million consumers of halal meat nationwide. Michael Oakes, board member for rural affairs at Advantage West Midlands, said British Muslims consumed 20% of all red meat sold in the country while making up just 3% of the population. [Source: BBC News – Farmers aim for halal meat market]

Further, the market has now begun to evolve to the next level: in response to recent halal meat scandals, a national halal monitoring committee was established to ensure correct slaughtering practices; major supermarket chains now stock halal produce in outlets with a significant Muslim customer base; and several new providers have sprung up to respond to the growing demand for organic meat (one example here).

Thus I believe that the 'catch-all' fatwa actually causes more harm than good in the long term, by discouraging the enterprise that would lead to a more certain state of affairs. Either we 'lay' Muslims have misunderstood the nature of this particular ruling (which is entirely probable), and/or the original need for such a fatwa no longer exists, especially as far more permissible alternatives are now commonly available. In reality, no-one is going to be placed at a life-threatening disadvantage from choosing to eat a 'fillet-o-fish', or vegetarian equivalent, in place of eating meat of unknown origin. And in the few cases where they are, then a whole new set of rulings apply, with the aim of preserving life and health.

Demand drives supply: Muslims in the West must continue to demand the supply of trustworthy zabiha meat, and also start putting their inherent, entrepreneurial skills to use. After all, the UK Muslim market proves that there is much reward – both earthly and heavenly – to be earned from doing so, inshā’Allāh.

A Safe Space

// September 28th, 2009 // 4 Comments » // Blog

I've noticed that I refrain from commenting on several blogs, even my regular reads, because I don't deem them 'safe'. I don't mean that I fear being tagged by intelligence services (I don't think I'm controversial enough for that; though Allāh knows best), rather, I just don't feel comfortable speaking up, for one reason or another.

I wonder, do people feel the same on my little corner of the web? I don't think I have enough readers to warrant attention from Islamophobes and general nasties. But there are many other reasons to be timid.

Which sites to you feel safe on and why? Do you do anything special to welcome and reassure your readers?

Speaking of fear, last night I had a mini-panic attack that took me a while to overcome. I was already emotionally vulnerable as I had been suffering minor illness for several hours.

(more…)

An Inspirational, Must-See TED Video

// September 23rd, 2009 // No Comments » // Blog

I've been watching a few of the latest-release TED videos the past few days, mainly because I know once I download them, it'll be a while until I actually get round to viewing them. I posted links to a couple on my Twitter stream yesterday, but I decided this video deserved its own blog post, to become a part of my permanent archives, inshā’Allāh.

It's only six minutes long, and you must watch it now!

At age 14, in poverty and famine, a Malawian boy built a windmill to power his family's home. Now at 22, William Kamkwamba, who speaks at TED, here, for the second time, shares in his own words the moving tale of invention that changed his life.

Don't you feel inspired? And also, flippin' grateful for every, little thing? I am so amazed my his initiative. Bravo, young man! Māshā’Allāh.

I love Science even more now.

Don't waste the good feeling: donate to Muslim Hands education fund, so more young people can have access to the basic materials they need to succeed, inshā’Allāh.

On Rivalry

// September 17th, 2009 // 5 Comments » // Blog

“Bear in mind that the present life is just a game, a diversion, an attraction, a cause of boasting among you, of rivalry in wealth and children.” Qur'an 57:20

I don't think I ever really appreciated the sense of rivalry that Allāh mentions in the above verse (and elsewhere in the Qur'an), until very, very recently. I'm talking, the last two months or so. It sort of crept up over me, maybe because nearly every singleton in my life has suddenly gotten married, with other newly weds having babies, that I feel somewhat left behind in the personal life department.

A few years ago, I was on a quest to get married – but it was more like an adventure; one that I shared with friends and cousins. Alhamdulillah, one by one, my travelling companions left for the next stage of their journey, and we waved them off happily, so secure in our knowledge that we, too, would be moving ahead very soon.

Returning to the present, it seems that I am one of the few passengers left behind in the waiting room, wondering why my train is running so late. Shouldn't it have been here by now? Did I miss it? Maybe I read the timetable wrong?

And worst of all, I've become one of them. You know… the 'older' unmarried women, that the younger unmarried women use to make themselves feel better: “Oh, at least I'm not as old as so-n-so”. They become so shocked when they hear my marital status combined with my age. That is, until they realize the expression of disapproval at their tactlessness on my face, and try to cover it up with: “Oh, it'll happen soon, inshā’Allāh”. Yes, thank you. I feel totally reassured now.

Anyway, believe it or not, I'm not complaining about my fate. And if I did, I wouldn't be complaining to you. Rather, I wanted to share how one's perspective on the Qur'an changes with new life experiences. Now I actually feel the sting of rivalry in my heart from time to time. But the verse above reminds me of the bigger picture: it's only a game, Mehzabeen. So be a good sport, and play it well.

Water: The Best Charity

// September 16th, 2009 // 1 Comment » // Blog

I once read that water is one of the best charities in Islam – annoyingly, I cannot find a reference for that statement, but it's not difficult to understand why it would be true: charity is meant to make life easier for those who have less, and water is life.

How many barren deserts do we have on the surface of the Earth, that suddenly come to life when Allāh sends the rain down?

“…thou seest the earth barren and lifeless, but when We pour down rain on it, it is stirred (to life), it swells, and it puts forth every kind of beautiful growth (in pairs).” Qur'an, 22:5

I remember reading about such desert plant life when I was little; how in some areas it may only rain once a year, for a few minutes, and then 'whoosh!': flowers begin to bloom, small animals come up from beneath the sand, and every creature makes the most of this brief blessing, before retreating from the heat of the sun.

For this reason, water projects hold a special place in my heart, and why I now encourage you to donate to them whenever you can. In this regard, please check out the following two charities:

This morning after suhoor, I was attempting to make wuḍūʼ in my bathroom upstairs, but was facing difficulty because my mum happened to be doing the same thing downstairs. All I was getting was random splatters acccompanied by scary sounding gurgling noises – but no actual, running water! I began to get annoyed because I was running out of time before Fajr – but then the thought came to me: “Aren't I blessed to have even this?”. A few seconds later, mum had finished, and the water returned. It was that easy.

But what if it hadn't?

What if it was never there to begin with?

How would I cope?

That's what we have to keep reminding ourselves every time we open the tap…

“Say, 'Just think: if all your water were to sink deep into the earth who could give you flowing water in its place?'” Qur'an, 67:30

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