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Monday, January 13, 2014

Moving Past Adversities #5: Muslim Girls - The whole world doesn't understand you!


 Bismillah.


Gifted 

There's so many things great about you, my little sisters in Islam. You are full of strength, courage, wit, style and most importantly a faith that was chosen for you, crowned upon you out of the ranks of billions of girls granted the gift of life. There is no doubt in my mind that Muslim girls (and boys) are indeed a special group of people. You have inherited this deen from birth and it is an additional ni'mah (blessing) that is not given to everyone.

Why Can't It All be Simple? 


 I know you are well aware that every blessing comes with responsibilities. Those responsibilities can be  hard to carry at times especially when you are not always respected in the world.  Often times, even in your own home you may feel a lack of acceptance. You may feel overly awkward or seldom pretty. In many communities and families there may even exist imbalanced gender opportunities and encouragement. You may feel lost due to a lack of community, a lack unity, a lack of socialization and a lack of halal fun! You are constantly bombarded with "don't even think about its"," you shouldn't even try its", and what "Muslim girls should dos"! The fact of the matter is that most days it may feel like the whole world doesn't understand you and all of the hardships you are facing isn't worth it.


But it is worth it. You are worth fighting for. You are worth waiting for. You are worth the struggle. So fight!



Truly the reward of the Hereafter will be greater if they only realize (this)! (They are) those who persevere in patience and put their trust on their Lord. (16:41-42)
Can You Hear Me Now?

I can tell you from personal experience that there might not be a whole lot of people in your world who understands exactly what you are facing in terms of isolation, frustration, aggravation, and desires. Some of your own parents may not even fully understand it.

 If your parents are reverts to Islam, they don't possess the knowledge to know what it is really like to grow up in Islam in a non Muslim society. Do you want to blame them for that? It's certainly easy to feel that way. Almost like they purposely decided to make your life harder then their own lives. But that would be too simplistic and too evil to put on your parents' shoulders. Despite all of the things that irks your last nerves about your parents, please know that they truly felt Islam was a gift to them and that they cherished it so much, they gifted it to you as well. The good news is that do have information and wisdom that can be useful to you. The news flash is that they have first hand experience about life outside of Islam that you just don't have knowledge about. Take time to really open your ears and listen and learn from them what you can to help not only shield you from their mistakes, but also take from their stories lessons that will help build you up!

Then there are those of you Muslim girls who are lucky enough to have Muslim parents who were born and raised Muslim in a non Muslim country. Now depending on their age, their experiences might also be a little out of touch with current events in the teen world. They didn't have cell phones, email, Twitter - heck, some of your parents didn't even have the internet! But that doesn't totally wipe out the struggles that they did encounter while growing up Muslim. No one's life is going to be an exact clone of yours. But we can learn from different narratives, perspectives, and adversities that people go through. The experience of being the only Muslim at school, not being able to wear the latest fashions, talk on the phone with the opposite sex, hang out with friends at night, or go to the school dance are universal. We lived through and learned from it some jewels. The pictures might not look the same, but the emotions were real. Open your heart and try to put yourself in your parents shoes. Twenty, thirty, or forty years ago Islam and Muslims were a lot less known about. Could you have walked in their shoes as modern Muslim pioneers? It would have been hard. Just like it would be hard for them to live in your life today. Build on the commonalities that you have and be open to accept support, guidance, and love through your adversities.


Pause for the Cause: Often times during the teen years, shaytan tricks us into putting on those fancy, designer "knowitall" coats! It's hard to hear and see love, wisdom, and support if you think you know for sure every single way that those things are expressed. That's a dangerous attitude to wear and carry around on your back.  Check yourself if you only find value you in the lives of the rich and famous or your friends, but can't appreciate the jewels from elders and your own family members. That's not being hip, cool, trendy or smart. That's called being shallow. Be bigger than that and love more!


Allah Wants Good For You

There are so many vices that you will contend with in life and not all of them will be directly connected to your "Muslim Girl-ness". However, the fact remains that these trials will bother you, they will cause hurt and may be even pain. The fact also remains that you can get through it and you can triumph in this world despite it all with your trust firmly placed in Allah.

Learn to trust and rely on Allah in good times and more importantly, during your difficult times as well. Always remember that no one wants good for you more than Allah. He gave you life, he gave you family, friends, food, and shelter. The trials are not meant to stop you or to tear you apart! When you have Tawakkul (trust and reliance on Allah), difficulties help you to remember Allah, praise Allah, seek the help of Allah and to ask from Allah what it is you need.

What do you need? Where do you want to be? What places do you want to go and visit? Tell Allah and have Tawakkul with certainty that He (and only He) can make it happen for you.

“Say, “Never will we be struck except by what Allah has decreed for us; He is our protector.” And upon Allah let the believers rely” (9:51).

Narrated Abu Huraira (Radi Allah Anhu): Allah's Apostle (sal-allahu- alleihi-wasallam ) said, "If Allah wants to do good to somebody, He afflicts him with trials. (Sahih Bukhari)


“And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him” (65:3). 


The Messenger of Allah (s) said: “If you trust Allah with the right kind of tawakkul, He will provide you sustenance as He provides for the birds – they go out in the morning with empty stomachs and come back in the evening with full stomachs” (Tirmidhi).


Now, that your head is clear with positive thoughts, let's move pass the adversity and work (that's a verb) towards creative, positive actions. 

Visualize & Actualize


 There will always be people, ideas, and problems existing in your world with negative motives. Make sure you are not one of them, fueling the negativity that leads to your own demise. Moving past adversities means you reconcile your issues (as best as possible) and replace it with more positive, energizing, and fulfilling alternatives.  Let's take a look at some simple common sense steps:


#1 Visualize the things you want.

Dedicate time within your week to simply focus on you and all of the positivity that you possess and inhale in those blessings from Allah. You are special because Allah has given you unique qualities that He has not given to anyone else. You excel at many things. Don't worry how small or insignificant that those things may seem to be. They are yours, so embrace them.

Now, visualize the qualities and goals that you desire to possess. Do you want to be more outgoing, more kind and loving, less shy, more tolerant, have more patience, learn to sew, write better, have lots of good friends, eat better and exercise, go to college and get a fabulous career? May be you would like to travel the world blogging about eating different kinds of foods? Whatever it is that you want, close your eyes and take time to day dream and visualize it in your world.

If you can not see yourself doing something, no one else will.

#2 Make a list

It's good to write things down and make a list. There's something about seeing your goals on paper that makes us feel accountable to ourselves. It's like a contract with ourselves. So my advice is write down a couple of your visualizations and describe the key factors that will prevent you from achieving that goal and what are some of the key factors that will help you accomplish it. Date it, sign it and hang it up in your room on the wall, or in a closet, or copy it to your computer. Just make sure you place it some where you can see it and be reminded of it.

If you want to get a little fancier, create a vision board! Use construction paper, a poster board, cut out pictures from magazine or print out images from the internet, crayons, markers, and glue to create a really awesome vision board that expresses your creativity and visions. I love making vision boards with my because I think it is a great way to "see" your visualizations, hopes, and aspirations in color and feel a bit of the happiness that the things that you are aspiring for can bring into your life.

#3 Actualize your visions, bi'ithnillah

Here is where we take that verb "action" and put it to work! What ever qualities that you visualized possessing, use them! Consciously make effort to be better, in every way. Love more, share more, try new ways to social with other Muslim girls in your community. Be friendly and helpful. Give more to others and others will remember your kindness and support and that same blessing Allah will put back in your own life.


And sooner or later, enshallah, you will start to realize that it's not important if the world understands you - it is much more important that
you understand you and that your purpose in this life is to worship Allah and rely on Him and that through visualization and actualization you can be successful in whatever you put your mind to.

Put your trust in Allah. Allah loves those that trust [in Him].
[Surah al-Imran 3: 159]