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Monday, December 9, 2013

Reflections #1: Thanks and Giving

{Thus do We provide ayah (sign) for people who reflect}
 (Yunus 10: 24)

  There are are days, weeks, even months where things just don't mesh up they way we expect them too. 

And we, as women, hurt in ways that are not always dramatic or even visual. We hurt in silence, with smiles, while we are cooking dinner, ironing our husband clothes, bathing our children and driving on the way to and from the grocery store. Despite the aches from our souls and minds, we push forward.

There are times where I didn't even know I was hurt, until it had subsided months later and I had the space, security, and increased faith to reflect back on the event and claim it for what it was.

And this is a continual process. We struggle and get hurt. We hurt others and they struggle with us in return. The deal is how much reflection, growth, or even a simple acknowledgement do we even give to it? For most of us, not much. We just get pulled into the next stage of life and keep on moving, hoping we don't have to revisit those emotions ever again. And we certainly don't try to discuss it with anyone or share are experiences with other folks that we know are having similar experiences. To the cleaning, the basement, the shopping, the husband (first, second,third, fourth, etc), the job, or the kids we go. 

And we, as women, hurt in ways that are not always dramatic or even visual. We hurt in silence, with smiles, while we are cooking dinner, bathing our children and driving on the way to and from the grocery store. Despite the aches from our souls and minds, we push forward.

 Is it possible to become immune to  hurt? I've heard women claim that it is. But then I always wonder what they must lose from their own self in order not feel something any more? I don't choose to give up feeling. The good feelings and the bad feelings have purpose in our lives, in our praise and in our beseeching for help to the Most Merciful.  My story of hurt goes something like this:

Novembers are hard
for me. 

For years, it would just creep up on me and I would become undone.  I suffered in silenced, behaved emotionally immature  because I wasn't ready to reflect. I wasn't open to the idea of growth, of thanks, of giving what I had went through, or what I had learned. I was willingly carrying around the hurt. I had to let it go. 

My oldest sister was born in November and she died shortly after her 26th birthday. She, my sister, Sabura Faatimah, was and will always be the best friend Allah has ever blessed me with. She loved November hardcore. From Nov 1 to 31, she would just go all out. It was her month. It was fun and she was fun, always in the moment, and thankful for herself, mashallah. But she was also the older sister who gave, watched, and pushed me.  She cared for me like I was her child, though we were only 4 years apart. So much laughter, so many stories, so many trials, so many heartaches, but we were always together. Until we were not. 

Most of it is still a blur, but I remember Ummi calling me on the phone and asking me if I wanted to help wash her body. Was I up to it? Could I follow the rules? Would I be able to sleep the rest of the week......silence, I just let the phone drop to the ground. Ummi eventually hung up. Most of it is still a blur, but the reality was and still is, that her death was just, merciful and most importantly it was part of Allah's decree. 

I was willingly carrying around the hurt. I had to let it go. My sister, my best friend, my first companion --- would not be with me any more in this life because her life had ended so very early.

And when I washed her body and wrapped her, neatly and beautifully, to send her back to her and my own Lord,  time  accelerated. She was buried and cars drove off. We drove off.  No tears, no screams, just  promises in her ears that I am hopeful my Lord allowed her to hear. 

And we, as women, hurt in ways that are not always dramatic or even visual. We hurt in silence, with smiles, while we are cooking dinner, bathing our children and driving on the way to and from the grocery store. Despite the aches from our souls and minds, we push forward.

So hold that which I have given you and be of the grateful. (Qur'an 7: 144)

I am still working on those promises I gave my sister, but some of them Allah has allowed me to fulfill. And I am still working on letting go of the hurt. But being thankful and giving of myself is something that I know without a doubt is required from me everyday because of my sister. I was given someone special and everyday I am thankful that Allah allowed and  desired me to have that experience of love, of sisterhood, of companionship, of encouragement in this life. 

And I share this all with you to remind myself and anyone dealing with grief and sadness, that it is important and necessary to reflect on our trials and our heart's scars. But it is even more important to be thankful for what Allah has given us and to give whatever you can of yourself in honor of Allah's continued bounty and mercy on you. 

Common Sense Tips:

#1 Talk with others dealing with grief and sadness and remember Allah's favor upon you

#2 Busy yourself with projects that will help some other than yourself and family

#3 Keep a journal and write about good memories, funny stories of loved ones that will help you to remember how merciful Allah was to brighten your life with someone so special

#Don't fight or shrug off your feelings of sadness. But do increase your prayers, supplications, and charity. Reflect, write, and give thanks to Allah. 

We  are living life.....and through faith, prayer and help, enshallah, you and us will be okay!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Moving Past Adversities: #4 It's a thin line between and hate (Good days & Bad Days)

We're human. Some weeks are good and the some weeks, not so good (some times we even have bad, angry, hateful weeks). I have to remind myself constantly this is normal and part of the design of Allah for all mankind because it is He that decreed for us all to have emotions (yep, even men too). Problem is that lately, a weird trajectory among Muslim women has been promoted to "ice out" and kill off emotions. It's like we no longer even feel the need to listen to our fellow family or friends' issues. We just block out any emotionally heavy discussions in an attempt to stay away from taxing our brains. I think part of the reasons that we as sisters have become so aloof to others is because we are dealing (often alone as well) with our own layers of issues...

The Messenger of Allah (saw) also said, "The believers, in their love, mutual kindness, and close ties, are like one body; when any part complains, the whole body responds to it with wakefulness and fever." [Muslim]

Breaking the norm with my real issues: This is the end of very blessed, busy, silly, angry week and I'm grateful for all it. I was able to accomplish a couple of things on my to-do lists like finally sorting, washing, packing up and taking the kids old clothes and shoes over to the Goodwill and Savers, going to the library, and finally creating an outline for my new curriculum. But fasting the day Ashura with my daughter was the highlight of the week, Alhamduleelah. I also dealt with some challenges as well. My 1 year old son regressing in the weaning process, my youngest daughter ran out of her vitamins and behaved extremely difficult with everyone all week, and my oldest daughter is in the midst of full blown puberty and has an excuse for every single thing she does or does not do... the good first.

On yaumul ashura I got up and went for a walk in the cold morning air and that really helped me find some balance. The down side was that because I was fasting my energy level was shot for the remainder of the day. My poor daughter Juwayriyah was touched by the sleepies. She couldn't keep her eyes open to do her school work and her poor belly kept growling. With a lot of redirection, encouragement, and dua  - she finished the day. I was proud of her.

I'm really mad that some of you with adult daughters didn't warn earlier. Those pre-teen hormones are such a bummer. They have zapped out just about all of the sweetness, easiness and playfulness from the little girl that I have grown to love about her in the last 11 years. I try not to focus on her moodiness right now and focus more on how I respond to her. She is still mine even when she is acting like Oscar the Grouch and she is still a slave of Allah with rights over me. Like the old adage goes: if you point one finger at someone else, three of your own fingers are always going to be pointing back at you. As hard as it can be to admit it, Juwayriyah is partly a reflection of me. If I want to battle her and win, I have battle my own nafs and win over it first. As mothers of pre-teens and teens, we have to constantly find more ways to remain patient, more appreciative verbally with these developing young people. And lastly, be humble with them and ourselves. It wasn't too long ago that I myself was a teen and I remember how challenging it was for my Umm and Abu to have to deal with two teenage girls at once. And indeed Allah is quick to call people into account (Surah Ali Imran:19)

One thing I can say is that as she grows, it is such a blessing to be able to talk with her about Islam and share with her acts of ibadah that have real meaning and struggle for her. I'm not always sure that  she is fully cognizant of the  importance of ibadah at12. But what I have learned from my own life growing up as a Muslimah in the West is that, just like a flower, our deen grows with dua, love, patience and persistence. Islam is a process that we must journey on, through big and small trials and big and small victories, until we take our last breath, enshallah. So she is where she is and Alhamduleelah, it is wonderful to be able to share whatever I can with her.

Work wasn't as challenging, but something is always changing there. With Thanksgiving around the way, I had to start a history unit on Native Americans and curate some videos that actually gave an authentic account of details of the 1600s with my pre-GED students. I also had to turn in some grades, test some of my students who won't be coming back after the break, and make some tweaks to my monthly lesson plan due to a couple of students just not progressing as I would've liked them to. Revision is necessary and so is that thing called patience, once again. Though, I totally hate that public education has become so test centered. However, assessment is always necessary and it does let me know how I need to differentiate what I am doing in the classroom.

Enter my darkness with caution:

So in the midst of everything else this week my two youngest had doctor appointments (and next week too). Honestly,  I totally dislike (read:hate)  taking them to their well check visits. I know their pediatrician senses that because she is always extra nice, mashallah. But some of the required stuff she wastes her time (and mine as well) running down, I am not interested in. My two youngest children are un-vaccinated and so really that well-child visit should only last about 15 minutes, but it doesn't. She drags it out for more  than 40 minutes and then spends the very lasts minutes trying to squeeze in her same lame attempts to "enlighten" me about some new research on vaccinations. I know it's her job, and wallah, I am very cordial, but after five years, it's enough! It just irks my nerves. It especially irks my nerves when  it's accompanied by fake sympathy: "understand you're worried about your daughter's health." Do you really? Every time a doctor says that to me, I cringe. Unless you have a child with epilepsy, global delays, and Autism: you have no idea the massive extent of my worries, problems, sleeplessness, anger, pain, and confusion. And since I have the ability to do my own research and more importantly speak with other parents raising children like my own, it's best not to be patronizing.

There's a thin line between Love & Hate
Getting my youngest daughter to cooperate at doctor visits is another reason why I prefer for the visits to be short. It's like she knows her pediatrician, but she doesn't really know her that well. We spend a lot more time in her neurologist and psychologist's offices. Some times she acts completely shot out. This time she had tantrums that included falling on the ground, refusing to be examined with any weird looking medical instruments, bolting out of the room, and aggressive behaviors like pinching and screaming when the nurses attempted to redirect her behavior all the while I tried to intervene with a one year tied to my hip. It was physically tasking, emotionally draining, and I hated every second of it.

But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not. (Surah al Baqarah: 216)

Yeah, so it was just one of those weeks where I experienced  love and it was sweet, memorable, and inspiring. And also I encountered that emotional monster called hate. And it was sobering, troublesome, and memorable as well. Often times we as women get so busy doing something/everything for everybody else, that we forget to feel something/ anything for ourselves. We lock down our emotions out of fear of the reality: our world is not static. Love is a great feeling, but hate is just  as powerful an emotion and in order to truly be appreciative of one or the other, you have to experience them both.

 Point #1 Don't deny your feelings,( they'll overpower you sooner or later) 
Point #2 Be honest and open at least with yourself  (even better to find others to share your days with)
Point#3  Perfection was not decreed for us, so don't be hard on yourself or feel guilty when you have bad days
Point #4 Relish your good days, remember them and the Most Merciful's mercy in granting them to you

All right so here are 4 of my Simple Common Sense  (SCS) tips for this week:

#1 It's a thin line between love and hate, so be among the patient: As Muslim mothers, wives, sisters - women in general, a lot of the very people that provide us with our greatest loves can also be the root cause of us experiencing heartache, pain, and hate. That shouldn't prevent us from keeping our duty to Allah or them. So give your best, have patience, and know that Allah's promises are true:

إنما يوفى الصابرون أجرهم بغير حساب

“…Indeed, the patient will be given their reward without account.” [az-Zumar 39:10].
Sulayman ibn Qasim said that:
The reward of every deed is known, except for the reward for patience, which will be like the heavy rain. 

#2 Give yourself a break (Your body has a right over you):  No matter how great of a wife, mother, student, friend etc. that you assume you are, everyone needs a break! The more you push your body to perform for others, through the good and bad days, the more essential it is for you to take time outs. Take 30 minutes a week or if you have reliable support, a whole day to yourself. Go for a walk, go to a coffee shop and sip on well made cup of java that you didn't have to make, go to Targets or the mall if that is your thing, or get a hand or foot massage - alone. Whatever it is that you enjoy and that makes you feel relaxed, do it and learn (again) to hear your own thoughts.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately. . .Always adopt a middle, moderate, regular course, whereby you will reach your target (of paradise)." - Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Hadith 470 
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) once asked a companion: "(Is it true) that you fast all day and stand in prayer all night?" The companion replied that the report was indeed true. The Prophet then said: "Do not do that! Observe the fast sometimes and also leave (it) at other times. Stand up for prayer at night and also sleep at night. Your body has a right over you, your eyes have a right over you and your wife has a right over you." - Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Hadith 127 

#3 Ask for help regularly: If you thought you could do it all, know today that you can't. Hit the delete button and remove that heavily polluted thought out of your mind. Whether you are dealing with a child with special needs or not, life simply requires support. And if we are truly honest with ourselves, it is only arrogance that makes us feel "some kind of way" about seeking help from others. But in reality when we as women lack support and help, this is what can make our bad days turn into ugly days real quick. 

"The servants of the Merciful are those who walk on the earth in humility." (25:63)

Another good that about asking for help from others is that it will strengthen the bonds of sisterhood between us. We may not know that our sisters are experiencing hardships, but when they tell us, don't turn away from the ni'mah that Allah is placing in front of you. 

Narrated 'Abdullah bin Umar: Allah's Apostle said, "A Muslim is a brother of another Muslim, so he should not oppress him, nor should he hand him over to an oppressor. Whoever fulfilled the needs of his brother, Allah will fulfill his needs; whoever brought his (Muslim) brother out of a discomfort, Allah will bring him out of the discomforts of the Day of Resurrection, and whoever screened a Muslim, Allah will screen him on the Day of Resurrection. "  (Bukhari)

#4 And this too shall pass (So remember Allah): Trials are from Allah, so we can't escape them. But we can choose how we deal with it. The better you get on handling issues, the easier it will become to navigate your way out from it.  

"For indeed, with hardship (will be) ease. Indeed, with hardship ( will be) ease. Surah ash Sharh: 5-6

 And the Prophet (saaws) said: “How wonderful is the case of the believer; there is good in everything and this is not the case with anyone except a believer. If good attends him, he expresses gratitude to Allah and that is good for him; and if adversity befalls him he endures it patiently and that is better for him” [ Narrated by Abu Yahya Suhaib ibn Sinan and recorded in Sahih Muslim]

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Moving Past Adversities: # 3 Throwing Shade - Why do we do it?

Moving Past Adversities: # 3 Throwing Shade - Why do we do it?



 It's Friday and salatul Jumu'ah just ended and Muslims are rushing out of the Islamic Center. Rahma Smith is 25, short and plush African American woman and a revert to Islam. She is married with children. She's dressed in her Jumu'ah best: a shiny black jilbab, black waist length circular hijab, and black loafers. She's carrying a diaper bag and pushing a stroller as she and her five children are marching down the parking lot, weaving in and out of the traffic trying to get to her van. She spots her sista-friend, Ayah Abdur Razaq.

Ayah Abdur Razaq is 28, tall and stocky African American woman. She is a third generation African American Muslima and married with one baby girl. She's wearing work attire: a full length black skirt and a beige and black knee length tunic top with a Black wool blazer and matching hijab with  studded heels. As she is loading her daughter into her car seat, she spots her sista-friend, Rahma as her children run every which a way. The two women shake hands and embrace.


Aye, as salamu alykum! Where you been, woman? I didn't even
see you in the musallah. 


Wa alykum as salam, girl! You know, I get in there, get those rakat in and get on out of there. Ain't nobody got time to be stuck in this parking lot for ten hours with these Muslims that can't back up. And it's been a long week and I'm just too tired. But you looking real good, Rocky. How's all my babies doing?


Alhamduleelah, everybody's good, sis. (She turns around quickly and yells) Abdul-Aleeeeeem! Go get your sisters. Keep their tails away from those streets.  
Yeah, so any way, you starting to look more and more like a real business woman, mashallah. You couldn't find a jilbab in your closet to throw on for Jumu'ah? And where you coming from anyway and why didn't you come out last night my dinner?


It's called work wear and I am fully covered, Miss Homebody! Not everybody got the patience to be up in the house with ten, eleven kids all day. I rather be out working, but this week was too crazy. I totally forgot about your dinner, sweety. Imma get my better half, Nooreddine to make you a Red Velvet cake this weekend, enshallah. 'Cause I am done. I was at work til seven last night and then got up and went in for eight this morning. Then I had to run to pick up Batool from my Umm and get over to the meat store 'fore they closed for jumu'ah. And now I gotta try to get home enshallah and cook this stuff up for my Norredine, but I'll probably clunk out on the couch with the baby before I reach the kitchen, (she laughs). 


 Wow, Yah, you you go too much going on. And that's why I am a homebody! Ain't nobody got time to be a super woman.  I don't know why you working yourself to death anyway. That husband of yours takes good care of you and Tu-Tu and it ain't but the three of you anyway. Shoot, you bet not fall asleep before you cook for that brother. I swear you working sisters be slacking on your duties too much for my blood.


Ain't nobody slacking over here, Rocky. I do just a little of everything for everybody that has rights over me (laughs). 'Sides you know my Nooreddine's a better cook anyway. He likes cooking for me and Tu-Tu. 


That's what he saying now, wait til you meet your co-wife (laughs).


Ooh, you a Astaghfirullah, Rocky (laughs). Don't be trying to put the ayn on me.


 I'm just saying, sis! If you don't do it, somebody else will. Besides, I couldn't imagine my zawj up in my kitchen. All he do is make a mess every time he steps in there. Plus, I'm the better cook. I love cooking, cleaning and taking care everybody, full time. That's what I'm there for. 


Alhamduleelah, you are the Muslima Martha Stewart of this center, Rocky. Just make sure you ain't the slaving all day, every day. You need some down times with all those kids. I think ...I think Abdul Aleem is chasing Amal and Adilah across the street.


Girl, ooh, they gon' drive me crazy sooner or later (laughs). All
right, enshallah, let me go round my kids up. Call me, Yah! You gotta come over some time and let Batool kick it with Asmah. They'll have a ball with all the other kids.


(she extends her hand to Rahma and they shake hands)

Cool, enshallah, I'll call you like on Sunday when the cake is done. As salamu alykum!


Wa alykum as salam wa rahmatullah



1. What do you think of  Rahma and Ayah?
2. What are some problems with their conversation?
3. Which sister threw shade and how?
4. What are some ways that their conversation could be improved?
5. What naseehah (advice) would you give to each sister?
6. Why do you think the conversation became so negative?
7. How could one or both sisters corrected it and pulled the conversation back on track?
8. Do you think Rahma and Ayah were aware of the negative comments?
9. Should friends be able to make negative comments to each other?
10. Which sister was more likable and why?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Moving Past Adversities: #2 Mean Muslim Girls (and women)

 I receive a lot letters from readers of every age about the depth of sisterhood depicted among the characters in Covered Pearls crew in my novel, The Size of a Mustard Seed. Alhamduleelah, it seems that Jameelah and her friends left a really good impression on readers around the world and that many of you were inspired by the closeness that the sisters demonstrated in the book. But, I've said it a thousands now that the CPs were 100% fictional. However, Alhamduleelah, I was blessed to grow up in a Muslim community with some really good friends. I know how great a ni'mah from Allah it is to have good companions around you. I also know how severe of a test it is from Allah to not have them as well.

And what really has intrigued me is how many young sisters have confided in me that they don't have good, nice, and loyal companions in their communities. In fact, many of you have told me that there is just too much harshness, judgments, backbiting , and meanness within our sisterhood.

 So let me me say this from the jump: I think ill behavior is a sin that most of us have fallen into at one time or another in our lives. We're human, we're females and we have bad days, or seasons even when we are just in a real ugly funk and it permeates everything we touch. Daughters snap at mothers, mothers bark at their children (and husbands, too!) We roll eyes, we don't give our undivided attention to those talking to us, we fail to return phones calls or emails, we forget to invite sisters to functions, we look folk up and down when they walk by without giving the salams (here's where the real funkiness comes in), we call sisters by derogatory names, we tell their business to others (other sisters and our husbands too) without permission, we make snap judgments about their level of deen or intellect (or lack thereof) based on something  superficial like their clothing or their family, or finances and all of it is mean, ugly, low, and unbecoming of sisters.

No matter your reason and I know many can give a million reasons to validate and explain the circumstances in which you behaved in this manner. It's not important though. Once you have hurt another person, especially your own sister in faith with your ill behavior, you have already spoiled your actions - in that situation.

In the Qur'an, Allah says (what means) "It is part of the Mercy of Allah that thou dost deal gently with them.  Were thou severe or harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about thee: so pass over (their faults), and ask for (Allah's) forgiveness for them; and consult them in affairs (of moment). Then, when thou hast taken a decision, put thy trust in Allah. For Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him).  (The Noble Quran, 3:159)"

When we behave harsh, ill, mean, arrogantly with our sisters, they will turn away from us, rightfully so. But truthfully, no one who believes in Allah and the last day should want to turn our sisters away from us or worst, this beautiful, merciful, blessed way of life called Al Islam. We want our sisters and indeed, all of humanity to see us and the good that Allah has blessed us with and want to BE with us as Muslims.

Point #1: Being mean hurts you
Point #2: Being mean it hurts others as well.
Point #3: Being mean can be accomplished in many ways (check your intentions before you speak or act)
Point #4: Being mean and harming people is not from Islam

So how can we move past this adversity? Before I share with you my S.C.S (Simple Common Sense) tips, let's take a moment to reflect on the what our beloved Prophet Muhammad  (sallallahu alyhi wa sallam) has said about this issue:

A'isha reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Allah is kind and loves kindness and gives for gentleness what he does not give for harshness nor for anything else." [Muslim]

 Anas reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Make things easy for people and do not make them difficult. Give good news to people and do not frighten them away." [Agreed upon]
 Jarir ibn 'Abdullah said, "I heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, 'Whoever is deprived of kindness is deprived of all good.'" [Muslim]

 Now, this issue has two sides, right? There are those who might be on the receiving end of M.M.Gs (mean Muslim girls) and of course we have the M.M.Gs all together. But there are commonalities between both groups. Did it ever occur to you that the M.M.Gs could have once been on the receiving end or in a situation in their life where Allah prevented them from having any friends or where they were mistreats by Muslim women in their communities? Every experience teaches us something important or some conditioning that we pack for our next destination/interaction.  If we don't learn to process our experiences of hurt, depression, pain and anger appropriately, sooner or later those emotions will find a way out and wreck havoc in our lives or the live of those we interact with! So let's jump into the S.C.S's:

#1 Work on being a sister to every sister you meet. Allah, in His speech that many of us know, has instructed us (with what means): The believers, men and women, are Awliyaa’ (helpers, supporters, friends, protectors) of one another; they enjoin (on the people) Al‑Ma‘roof (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do), and forbid (people) from Al‑Munkar (i.e. polytheism and disbelief of all kinds, and all that Islam has forbidden); they perform As-Salaah (Iqaamat-as-Salaah), and give the Zakaah, and obey Allaah and His Messenger. Allaah will have His Mercy on them. Surely, Allaah is All-Mighty, All-Wise
[al-Tawbah 9:71]

Be a sister! Give the salams and truly mean every part of that dua! Smile, shake hands and give the same amount of positive energy that you want to receive in return. Stop judging every comment on social media personally! Stop arguing with everyone about everything. Learn to share your ideas peacefully and how to listen to others point of views that you don't agree without getting sour! It's okay for your friends to differ with you! It' okay not to see to eye with everyone all the time. Be a sister! Make/find an excuse to lightent the conversation and make someone smile or laugh! Allah promises that He will have mercy on us, Alhamduleelah, so do your part to make sure that you receive it by behaving in the manners with the people that Allah loves.

#2 Be honest! If today or this whole week is not what's good with you, let sisters know upfront in a lighthearted way! "Sis, I'm running low on energy today, but I wanted to drop into your event to support you/ drop off this dish/ sit and listen to the class/see the people/ give a donation - or I can't make it this time, I'm not feeling up to being out with company at this time."  Whatever you're feeling: be specific and don't let your sisters think that your issue is with them. No mean mugging or rolling eyes or being inattentive to your sisters. If you feel that bad, stay home and send them a text, email or give a phone call at a later time. If you are moody, but not empty, go see your sisters and snatch up those blessings. 

#3 Don't block your blessings! If you have a clique/bffs/posse/homies/sissy poos - that's all good!  That's a wonderful ni'mah from Allah if you have been blessed with good friends. Make dua for them and treasure them, but know that Allah is Ar Razzaq! If He gave you two, He can give three, four or 20. Don't close yourself off to meeting and getting to know other sisters in your community because you don't know what Allah has out there for you. Some sister in another country could be destined to become your greatest ally, but you won't know it or receive that, if you are so caught up in the exclusivity of your small circle of friends and your own close-minded views.  Furthermore, diversity is beautiful. Connecting to sisters who have different skills, experiences and knowledge than you, builds you up and allows to fully appreciate Allah's bounties in your life

#4 Speak up and against M.M.G's behaviors! Iman is not only a statement on our tongues, it is a belief in our heart and an action with the limbs. The nabi sallallahu alyhi wa sallam said, "A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim. He neither oppresses him nor humiliates him nor looks down upon him. The piety is here, (and while saying so) he pointed towards his chest thrice. It is a serious evil for a Muslim that he should look down upon his brother Muslim. All things of a Muslim are inviolable for his brother in faith: his blood, his wealth and his honour.   (The book of Muslim, Book 32, Number 6219)"

We have to address negativity in positive ways in order to produce more positive energy to displace the negativity (you got that?). It's not all right to to turn up/get lit/or show out on your sisters (on Twitter, Facebook, a blog, or to other Muslims) whether they are M.M.Gs or not.  Know when to let it go and keep it moving. Don't argue, don't fall into any traps set up by Shaytan to misbehave. You're too grown for that!  The simple fact is that even in the face of adversity, dear sisters, we have to still hold fast to that which is better: love, patience, loyalty, prayer, and dua! Allah will provide for us, as long as we keep our duty to Him. 

Abu Hamzah Anas bin Malik, radiyallahu 'anhu, who was the servant of the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, reported that the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, said:
"None of you truly believes (in Allah and in His religion) until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself"
[Al-Bukhari & Muslim]

So yes, speak up against M.M.G's behaviors in your masjid newsletter article, by inviting those sisters to your home for tea or ice cream, creating  volunteer opportunities for you all to participate in,  a skating party, a picnic, or whatever! You can even speak to them individually and privately about how the behavior you witnessed made you feel. Ask them if they want to talk about the situation and see if you all can figure out a solution. If they don't want to talk about the issue, that's okay too! Let them know that you care for them and that you are there for them when ever they are ready to talk. And then go to number #5

#5 Keep them in prayer! You know that saying often attributed to Maya Angelou that: When people know better, they'll do better! Why it's not entirely true. Just because people have been exposed to better: knowledge, behavior, or actions - doesn't mean they will choose to implement it in their lives. That's their decision and you gotta respect and leave them in that. Alhamduleelah, Allah is Kind and He is Able to grant our prayers so use your prayers to pray for others often as you! Pray for the good to be put in our communities, in our sisterhood, in our brotherhood, in our families, in our friendships and in our enemies, too! And try to make dua at the best of times for sisters by using their names. Be specific with your issues with them and ask Allah to remove the hardships and replace it with ease. 

 So here are my 5 Simple Common Sense Tips for moving pasting adversity when dealing with Mean Muslim Girls (and women). I know there are tons more, so feel free to share your tips with me in the comments.  Hopefully, I will get a chance to revisit this topic again. May Allah make us all better than we are and give us the best character! If you get a chance to try the tips out, please share your findings with me!

"..Be mindful of Allah, you will find Him before you. Get to know Allah in prosperity and He will know you in adversity. Know that what has passed you by was not going to befall you; and that what has befallen you was not going to pass you by. And know that victory comes with patience, relief with affliction, and ease with hardship."

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Moving Past Adversities: #1 Dealing with Isolation

It's not easy being a girl in any society despite what the American media would like us to believe.  From body issues to drugs to bullying to teen pregnancies, navigating adolescence  presents the type of challenges that are monumental.  And many decisions that young girls make in the time it takes to type a text message have long lasting negative repercussions even though our young girls haven't even reached fully maturity and understanding. So now let's pour Islam into the mix ......can you feel the tension, the misunderstandings, the tears (of parents), and the never ending questions and fears?   I do because I went through it too as a young Muslima! How do we as mothers, sisters, friends, and elders help our daughters move past so many adversities that are apart of  the tests and trials of life and develop their Islamic identities to become confident Muslim women?? Sheesh, Umm Juwayriyah, that's a tall order! Rocky Road ahead, any takers? Today we are going to discuss isolation and some tips to alleviate it.

Enter The Unknown: Isolation

Check the scenario: There are a couple of girls hanging out in the local masjid's lobby. They're laughing and joking and just chillin' with each other. Another young Muslima comes into the masjid's lobby and spots the group of girls. The all politely smile and offer the salam. The young girls walks off to make wudu then goes into the musallah to offer Asr prayer. When she completes her prayer she sits inside the musallah waiting on her family. The group of girls enter and offer salatul Asr as well. They  finish their prayer and leave right out of the musallah. Never extending an invite to the young sister sitting alone......

Point: Isolation hurts!

When our daughters feel isolated by their peers, it can cause an erosion of their self esteem. Unfortunately, today many Muslim youth are dealing with isolation. Yet,  Muslim families and communities have not devoted much, if any energies into addressing this serious issue. Some Muslim families don't even value companionship for their children. They overwhelm them with Islamic lectures, Qur'an and hadeeth memorizations, and tagging along to various conferences hoping enshallah to fill up their void with something seemingly beneficial - yet often they are causing more harm. Sometimes parents throw Islam on so thick, it suffocates their children and  they begin to resent some of the most beautiful aspects of Islam, if not Islam in its entirety.

We don't want that! Islam is not a punishment or  a billy club either. It is a complete way of LIFE (you know, for the LIVING) and our daughters have to see it lived: with joy, love, fun, companionship, honesty, and all the real things that bring fulfillment to our lives. Companionship is a huge part of life, especially for young girls battling their way  through puberty. Girls are hard wired social beings. Our daughters NEED to fit in some where, to share and to be encouraged with good.

However, the reality is, even when we as Muslim parents are on board with the understanding that all of our children (Yes, including your sons) need social lives, the town or city that will live in just may not have enough Muslim youth for our children to form bonds with.

What then?  I've compiled a short list of really simple - common sense ideas that I really hope some of you will try out and let me know how it goes:

#1 Dua (Supplication) - Yep, it is the best weapon for the believers and Allah has instructed us saying (what means):  "You Alone we worship and You alone do we seek for help" Qur'an 1:5 
Pray for your daughters that Allah grants them good companionship and that He makes them good companions for others as well. In every salat and in the last third of the night, invoke Allah and ask Him to give to us and them that which is better for us. And even more important is that we encourage our daughters to do the same for themselves. 

#2 Travel  - It doesn't have to be a long journey. Often traveling 30 minutes to an hour to another community where there are more young Muslim girls and teens the same age as your daughter will suffice.  Allah says (what means): Say (O Muhammad ): "O My slaves who believe (in the Oneness of Allah Islamic Monotheism), be afraid of your Lord (Allah) and keep your duty to Him. Good is (the reward) for those who do good in this world, and Allah's earth is spacious (so if you cannot worship Allah at a place, then go to another)! Only those who are patient shall receive their rewards in full, without reckoning." Qur'an 39:10 Monthly activities with a welcoming and vibrant group of youth might not seem like a big deal to you, but it could mean the world to your daughter in developing a positive outlook on Islam and Muslims in general.The idea is build positive associations with Islam and Muslims by cooperating and interacting with Muslims who remind us of Allah and all of His great bounties. If Allah has blessed you with the ability to get your daughters out of a isolation or worse, a toxic community - do it, even if it is just once a month! You might find a new friend too!

#3 Pen Pals - It's old fashion and may seem a little corny to preteen and teens in the beginning, but I'm telling you that once they find a good match and they start receiving letters from their pen pals, it will soften their heart, enshallah! Who doesn't like good news? Exactly! And you can encourage them to spruce it up by not only sending emails or texts on their cellphones, but to write real snail mail letters on pretty stationary! Ask around to your own companions in your town and online, and even put an ad at your local masjid to bring in a larger pool of pen pals. 

 Enshallah, try all three simple ideas to alleviate isolation in your daughters. If it seems like none of the ideas are working quick enough, go back to #1 and increase other ebadah, right? And don't forget to be  friendly and loving with your daughters! Teens needs hugs and kisses too. Keep their spirits up and remind them to trust in Allah to send aid! Please do let me know how things work out and if you have any other tips leave them in the comments sections and I will add them to the blog!

Next post in the M.P.A series: Mean Muslim Girls....

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A Hard Lesson To Teach....

 You never want to see your child hurt. You know, there is that "Super Mom" complex that we mothers step into when ever we sense danger approaching our little ones. Kinda like the fight or flight instinct, it just kicks in and you react to the danger in order to protect your child. As the little ones grow up and into themselves, "Super Mom" goes through many transformations. Your learn (or force) yourself to pace your  instincts and let the not so little ones make mistakes, trouble, and even problems that you foresaw miles ahead. The idea is that children must learn to think, process, and make responsible decisions (age appropriately) on their own. You start off slow, easing back, then forward, back again, closer and tighter, and the dance continues until one day, enshallah, you know - you feel it inside of you that they are prepared, ready, and able to think, process, and make responsible decisions without (most of the times, Mamas never stop giving out advice!).

Today wasn't that day. Today, I was by my little (big) ones side the whole time, but allowed her to lead and follow through. It wasn't the best decision. In fact, I'd seen years ago, how this was going to play out, wallahu Yallim, she needed to make this (wrong) decision and I needed to be by her side while she made it. This wasn't an easy day for either of us. My stomach had knots and I had a light headache, slightly throbbing through out the whole day. But we prepared for this evening like it was going to happen. She invited some folks over - but, well, it wasn't the right set of people for her to invite over. "But Mama, I made them all bracelets and I went over to their house, too!" Mashallah, gift giving is great and it is something that we should do with others, but why did you give them those bracelets and go to their homes and sleep overs. I probed trying to rev up her thought process. "Because Mama, we're friends and that's what friends do."

It was simple and clear in her mind and I wished it could have been that simple, but it wasn't. There was history there, deep, dark, hiding the closet history. I seen this before. I knew what it looked like, what it smelled like. I myself am no stranger to being a stranger in a community I was born and raised in. The snickering, whispering, the exclusions, the holier than thou bullying wrapped up in something that many confused with some thing that is noble, loving and compassionate that we call advice, usually, wasn't. It was instead hauntingly eye rolled, lip puckered, and tucked neatly into the silent treatment aimed at an ill-prepared 12 year-old. She stared blankly during the interrogation among other little ones: "why do you wear so many colors? you're supposed to wear black, its in the Qur'an not to draw attention to yourselves, you don't want to cover your face?"- the whole mean girl or cut a girl down script sunnafied - I guess. Nonetheless, the outcomes are the same and the causes are too. We all know what it is about because it's a game that big girls play very well too and Queen Latifa even rapped about in the '90's, U.N.I.T.Y!

But before Latifa, Allah Azza wal Jal, Al Malik, spoke of it. He encouraged it. He demanded it. He honored it too. So much so that he mentioned it plenty of times through out the Qur'an for us to reflect on.

The believers are but brothers 
Surah Al Hujurat: 10

We forget. We do. I do and I know you do too some times. And we get caught in our own cliques, groups, posse, ace boon coons and all that jazz.  But here's the deal: It is isn't haram or bad to have special friends! In fact this is a great blessing from Allah to have good, close companionship. Friends that you can trust and depend on are a limited treasure. It's not the greatest blessing though because we are always racing against our own selves.  When we truly can dig that idea that Allah has placed us on this earth treat every single person that we meet with dignity, kindness, and respect, well that's when the ni'mah from Allah increases and we move from one from just being a good homey, sissy, or rode dog to a couple of select people to just being a grade A upright person to everyone for the sake of Allah alone. 

O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.

The party wasn't what she expected. It was a no show for those others. But you know the "Super Mom" kicked in and I had a plan waiting in the lurch for her. I had invited family (thank Allah from grandparents and extended family) and I made her favorites dishes: cabbage and baked chicken wings and desert was chocolate covered strawberries and you know,  it was what it was. Alhamduleelah, she was sad, but she also smiled. She learned a lesson too, I hope. Being upright and good, is not a color, a style, a club, or a trend. Being upright is just that....being a person who gives others their rights and treats people well for the sake of Allah alone.