Friday, 20 January 2017

What about God?

''We did not search for God when we were children. We took Him for granted. We were at some time taught to say our evening prayers: 'bless my father and mother'. This was done no more unless a thunderstorm made us hide our heads under the covers and propitiate the Deity by promising to be good. 

Very early we had a sense of right and wrong, good and evil. My conscience was very active. There were ethical and religious concepts. To steal cucumbers from Miss Lynch's garden was wrong. It was also wrong to take money from my mother, without her knowledge, for a soda. What a sense of property rights we had as children! Mine and yours! It begins in us as infants. 'This is mine.' But at the age of four I knew it was wrong to steal.

Morality lay in the realm of property and sex. Sex was a deeper matter, and in some obscure way had a connection with the supernatural law and God Himself. Modesty at first had to do with our bodies. We used to dress around the big kitchen and if anyone came in, the grocer, the laundry boy, we would back out of the room to hide our nakedness. We did not know why and whatever obscure sense of shame we had may have been connected with that part of our anatomy which was seriously smacked for punishment.''

This is an extract from a book I'm currently reading called 'The Long Loneliness'. It is an autobiographical book written by Dorothy Day who was a legendary Catholic social activist of her time.

I read this part last night and it resonated with me. As a kid, I took God for granted and only called on Him when I wanted something really bad (i.e: when I prayed for a baby brother) or if I was very scared. Other than that, I was pretty heedless. But at the same time, I had a developed consciousness of what was right and what was wrong. I could feel the weight of trespassing a limit on my shoulders whenever I would do something wrong.

When I started secondary school, I was lucky that several of my classmates from primary school also ended up in the same school and some days, after school, I would sometimes go at one of my friend's house who was near the school. Without my parents' knowledge; of course.

We would watch movies. This was not something that was allowed in my household. The only things we watched on TV were the news and occasionally cartoons on the week-ends. We called movies 'filim dad waawayn' and we knew we weren't allowed to watch those. Anyway, so we used to chill at my friend's house and watch american series subbed in french but I knew it was wrong. My conscience was telling me that I was trespassing a limit. And even though at the moment, it was nice as soon as I would make my way home, I didn't feel so good anymore.

I also remember being aware of nakedness being wrong and shameful. As a result, I hated swimming classes with a passion and always tried to hide myself behind people. I also remember one hot afternoon, we had P.E (sports) and we were playing basketball. I was wearing a long sleeved top but it was getting uncomfortable with the heat and sweat. I decided to remove it, bearing my arms as I was wearing a t-shirt. This may seem like nothing but for me it was a huge deal. I knew my arms were not supposed to be exposed like that. I knew it deeply in me but in that moment, I decided to shut my conscious and enjoy that game.

I have so many examples like these of my childhood and teenage years. Heck, even as an adult today. Sometimes, we know we're doing something wrong. Yet, because of the fleeting enjoyment of the moment, we continue just to realise a little later that it wasn't worth it and now you're left with a heavy heart and a torned consciousness. Happens all the time! God help us.

'We praise Thee, O God --
We acknowledge Thee to be the Lord,
All the earth doth working Thee

All ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord
Praise Him and glorify Him forever.
O ye sun and moon, O ye stars in the sky,
O ye winds and hoarfrost, ye rain and dew,
Bless ye the Lord, praise Him and glorify Him forever.
O ye trees and flowers, O ye beasts of the field,
O ye fish in the sea . . .'

Another extract. I find it disturbing when I read works from Christians or highly spiritually endowed people because of how close they are to the Truth and yet, how far they seem at the same time. What beautiful lines describing the Oneness of Allah these are yet, a few lines later.. there will almost always be lines of Shirk following.

Dorothy Day, from the little I've read so far, was a woman who dedicated her life to her religion and to the social rebuilding of her society. She sacrificed a lot as the title of her autobiography suggests but for what? For a God that she loved yet maybe due to ignorance associated partners with Him. I find that so tragic.

In Islam, we are told to prepare for the Afterlife in this life. All our actions in this life will have an impact on the next one. We also believe that the KEY to attaining Paradise is living a life based on a Monotheistic belief. One God with no partners, with no needed intercessors, with no son or wife, with no shortcomings.

I find it tragic that there are people out there who are so in touch with their consciousness & spiritual identity and use it to help people (and they get their rewards in this life, in one way or another) while there are Muslims who are not thinking of being actively engaged with their communities and societies. There are Muslims whose only focus is: today, tomorrow and me, me, me. I'm not trying to blame anyone because this is the way we've been ingrained to think from a young age. But this is wrong.

We rarely see Muslims sacrificing their lives, efforts, money for the Sake of God to help His Creation. I only found out about the national Pakistani hero who passed away maybe 6 months ago (may Allah have mercy on his soul) and the extent of his humanity. Incredible.

I feel like my own life will not be fruitful and useful unless I also sacrifice myself for the sake of God. I want.. actually it's not a want but a need. I need to be useful to others. I must be of benefit to humanity. This may sound a little arrogant but I promise you it's not coming from such a place.

I don't know if it's because I'm the first born of my family but I've always had high expectations for myself. Kinda to set the path for the younger ones and to be a good role model. I've also had close family members often repeating to be to think about what I want to do for the world. And as I get older, the louder these voices become. Likewise, my internal voice is also growing louder 'YOU MUST GET A MOVE ON'.

I'm thinking, thinking, thinking.. I realise that I must become a good person first before I can wish to benefit others. I have plenty ideas but actually getting from theory to practice seem much harder than anticipated. But I know, I just know.. inshAllah, great things will happen and even if they don't.. the intentions are there and intentions are crucial and appreciated by God.

How about you? What can you do to make this world better for others and yourself?

Toddles.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Choose your life

Hey,

It's been a long 10 days hasn't it? I dislike it profoundly when I don't update at least every 3rd day and I feel compelled to write something even if it's just a few lines..

Happiness. We all want it. But few actually have it. Yet many try to claim it. But does happiness also claim them?

My life right now is in such a limbo. It could be very easy for me to feel depressed and unhappy about a number of things. I could just drag my feet everyday and carry a miserable look on my face. And sometimes, I do. But most often than not, I try to not let the circumstances affect my reactions. I learnt recently that even though we aren't fully capable (at times) to change our circumstances, we always have a choice in our response/reaction to those circumstances. You are able to choose happiness over sadness. You are able to choose to smile over a sad grin. You are able to choose to wake up cheerful over waking up moody. Yes, you choose every single day how you spend your day. Do not try to blame others or the circumstances because even though they may have an influence on you, at the end of the day, you are always able to choose what you want.

There are things I don't understand in my life. There are many things that are unanswered. But experience has taught me that answers are often delayed and in the meantime, many valuable lessons are learnt. I refuse to display impatience or desperation. I refuse to let the feeling of giving up or losing hope to take over. I refuse to let 'why' enter my mind. I have no reason or right to question the circumstances. They are decreed by the Most Kind. I shall not be one to dispute them as it is not my position to do so.

Comparison is the thief of joy. These general milestones that we as we society have set up can be demoralising. Why should we compare ourselves against these 'milestones'? Don't we each have our own individual journeys to lead? Do all our milestones have to be the same? Can I not wish something different for myself? Or do I have to follow the same guidelines as everyone else? What if I'm already behind? What if I'm ahead? Does that I mean I made a mistake in my life? What guarantees me that others have a better life than I? What do I know of what is happening behind some people's walls? I can only see my grass and I don't believe the grass is necessarily greener on the other side.

When I was younger (early 20s) I used to sometimes inflict my mood swings and sadness on others. How selfish. Just because you're feeling miserable, why do we have to make others also feel bad? Just because you woke up irritated, do you really have to make the people around you irritated as well? That's something I regret. At the time, like many young people, I was pretty much self-indulged. My sadness seemed like the most important state affair of the century. And it felt normal that everyone else (well, just my immediate family) be aware that I wasn't going to act normal and that they should accept my change of behaviour for the next 48hrs with no explanation to be given.

I was also that person who told everyone that 'I'm not a morning person, do not talk to me before 9am,k thanks bye'. Again, selfish behaviour and a baseless claim. I really made myself believe that I wasn't a morning person. And I made myself believe that my bad morning mood was part of my personality. I made myself believe that I couldn't act like a normal human before 9am. Result? Many moody mornings. Was that necessary? Absolutely not. Cheery on the cake, I'm actually a great morning person. That's something I discovered in the past year when I decided to challenge a number of self-undermining thoughts I had in me. I decided to try being a morning person and wake up jolly. I choose it and it was perfect. My mother was surprised 'ooh wow, you're talking in the early hours!' and that's when it hit me. I was holding on something that was baseless that I had internalised which affected me but also my entourage. Enough with the selfishness in 2017. You can choose whatever you want for yourself of good and it will have a domino effect on the people around you too.

I always looked at those people who are always smiling and was a tad bit jealous. Dude, your car just broke down in the middle of the road yet the guy is smiling. Your shopping bag tore apart and everything rolled out, yet this lady is smiling. Your child is throwing the biggest tantrum in the store, yet you're smiling calmly. You lost your wallet but you're still smiling. Are you human? No huffing, no puffing, no swearing, no grand gestures, no becoming the centre of attention. But a calm demeanour, an inner peace, a quiet smile, a loving heart. It shall pass too. I love it. I want to choose to have that reaction. I want to smile at life. Even when I don't understand it. I want to smile at my circumstances even through the tough moments they make me go through.

And to hell with comparison. I am me. I am doing me. Whatever that happens in my life is decreed so why should I compare my decreed life to someone else's decreed life? We don't have the same story line, we may even be completely different genres! With my birthday approaching, with the starting of 2017, with my spirituality becoming the centre of focus.. I'm just seeing life with a new lens. Some people criticise me for being unrealistic. How could not get angry if your car broke down? Or your bag tore? I do feel like I have a hippy side to me. A chill, go happy vision to life. Nothing is too big of a problem. Nothing is too bad or terrible. The glass is always half-full with me. But is that a good way to go through life? You could argue no. You could argue that life is hard. That it's a hassle and that you have to fight for what's yours. You could say that I've got it all wrong. And that I will get a harsh wake up call soon. Maybe. But that's okay because I know I have the ability to control my response so.. all's well :)

Alhamdulilah. Being a believer saves you from a lot.

Toddles x

Monday, 9 January 2017

'Men are trash'

It's 8:40am on a Monday morning and I'm wishing you a wonderful week ahead.


Last night was unusual because I got hooked on the TV for a good 4 hours (8pm to almost midnight!) and for someone who doesn't watch TV or has that much screen time.. it was an overload. It was the kind of program that glued your eyes to the screen and made you slightly open your mouth unconsciously, you know what I mean? I watched this documentary/film reconstruction about several left wing political frenchmen and it was so passionately interesting. However, I didn't really manage to sleep well last night and I kept "dreaming" about DSK (if you know) and the rest of them. Is this what happens for ya'll when you watch your movies and TV shows? That's not cool. Even after reciting my adkhaar, these guys were floating in my mind and I woke up with François Hollande being the first thing on my mind this morning #ugh

Anyways, the first half of the program was dedicated to DSK and his story. DSK was a brilliant student, excelled in economics and matters of finance, slowly integrated politics, became respectable member of parliament, started gaining popularity, became a minister, became the head of the FMI which is one of the world's most powerful organisation and then suddenly everything went downhill for him. Why? Because of women and because of money (but more so because of women).

Throughout his career, this man had been playing left, right and centre and had affairs behind his wife. Well, he had 3 marriages; 2 those he ended because he met another woman.. first alarm. They tried to explain his "obsession" with women with the fact that his first marriage was at age 17/18 (very early) and so he didn't have the "time" to "play" before settling down and unlike his peers, he decided to "play" at an age of maturity, professional responsibility and this was a fatal mistake.

The big scoop which was to affect his career the most was the affair that happened in the US where he was accused of raping the cleaning lady but nothing was proven. Actually, none of the allegations against him were ever proven but all these women kept appearing claiming that DSK had harassed them, that he abused his status of authority to demand favours or done something to them. Some believed that this was a plot to make him ineligible as the future president since this was his intent and they indeed succeeded. I believe that it was probably a bit of both, they clearly didn't want him to become president and he had his desires uncontrolled and feared nothing.

Everyone has weaknesses, every single person but if women are your weakness... you're in serious trouble. Lately, I see so many sisters on social media saying "men are trash" and this has become like a slogan to them. I've always disapproved of that statement and I really don't like it when they say that. I believe that by saying that.. they are 1) not being fair by generalising all men in one group 2) I believe that you become what your thoughts are so, the more you repeat this statement, the more you'll convince yourself that it's true when it's not 3) I also believe in the psychology of attraction, you attract what you think is true/ real so if you think men are trash..all you'll end up having/attracting are trashy men.

So, in the end.. the ladies who keep saying this are the real losers. Sometimes, I wonder what these young girls have seen in their short lives to come up with such a bold statement? But I think that it's a stage that every girl goes through. I also went through that stage of thinking that all men were a waste of space and oxygen but I was never bold or 'violent' about it. This was back in 2015 and it was after something that stumbled on me unexpectedly (ps: I was not involved in this but I was a witness) I was hurt deeply and I believe it was one of the saddest moments of my life and so, as a way to relieve my sadness, I rationalised my mind by thinking that all men are dumb and unworthy.

I remember even saying that I'm not interested in marriage and that I'll probably not marry. I kept sending subliminal messages to my parents about it like "what's the point of marriage if all men are unfaithful" just to talk about it. You know when something is heavy on your heart and talking about it is the only means to unload that burden? Shout out to my mom and my journal for having been there for me at that time. Personally, I don't have the boldness to ever say something like "men are trash" (how rude is that? All hell would break loose if a guy said "all women are trash"?) and always prefer subliminal messages. Anywho, I got over this episode after a while and so I understand that it's like a passage for many sisters to have these resentful feelings towards men due to experiences they've gone through or has seen other go through.

But, this is not a reason to shout and plaster this wrong belief all over social media. This is causing more damage and creating doubt, anxiety and trouble to many sisters who aren't even thinking of marriage. 

Women are men's weakness, there's no doubt about that. Married or single, it doesn't even matter. Muslim or non-muslim, it doesn't matter. Do you remember how Quraysh tried to seduce the Prophet 'alayhi salaam at the beginning of his message? One of the things they tried to entice him with was by offering him their most beautiful women for him to stop and renounce spreading the message. But the blessed prophet knew better and he knew that this message of Islam was worthier and holier than any worldly material thing be it women or money. Alhamdulilah.

Yet, the prophet 'alayhi salaam also mentions in a hadeeth that from the most beloved things to him of this world are 1) women and 2) perfume. So, women are something that men naturally are attracted to and something they love to keep close. Another narration mentions that the best "متاع" (enjoyment/pleasure) of this world is a righteous woman who when you look at her, you become pleased. So, we as women really hold a huge power in that sense. We have the potential to be the greatest asset to someone. And we also have the ability to be a man's biggest destruction. 

There are many women in the world. Some who work hard to destroy marriages and men. Others who are despondently shouting "men are trash" and lead such negative and desolate lives. And others who understand the power (positive and negative) they hold over men and choose to live their lives respectably and expect respectable treatment and honour in return. You choose.

Yallah, have a good Monday :-)

Friday, 6 January 2017

Ceeb

Assalam 'alaykum,

Since I came back from KSA, I've been flirting with the idea of purchasing a bike. It seems like so much fun, it's economical and environmentally friendly and it could be a nice way to switch from walking. Last night, I tweeted 'Are there any sisters who ride bikes?' because I wanted some advice on various things but I only got one reply and it was something like this: 'loool it's ceeb if your somali'. Now, the sister who responded back is a sister I know through online interactions and luckily for her I kind of like her because otherwise I would have dismissed her. I replied back saying: 'it's 2017 love :') and I couldn't care less what Somalis think is ceeb.'

It made me think though..
Why do Somalis (and many Muslim communities) see girls doing things as 'ceeb' (ca3b).

- if a girl rides a bike, it's ceeb
- if a girl walks around, it's ceeb
- if a girl is too ambitious, it's ceeb
- if a girl is outspoken, it's ceeb
- if a girl doesn't want to get married, it's ceeb
- if a girl is into sports, it's ceeb
- if a woman is a working mom, it's ceeb
- if a girl works in a peculiar sector, it's ceeb
- if a girl is minding her own business, it's ceeb ect.

Not long ago, it was ceeb for a girl to go to the gym or be involved in fitness.
Not long ago, it was ceeb for a girl to go out by herself in town or eat out somewhere.
Not long ago, it was ceeb for a woman to be involved in politics (back home) and look now.
Not long ago, it was ceeb for a girl to go to university or access higher education.
Not long ago, driving a car (back home) was ceeb for a girl... & the examples are too many to be cited

But why?

And why is it that nothing is ceeb for a guy to do? I literally can't think of 1 thing that could be considered 'ceeb' for a guy.. can you?

Now.. hold up. I'm not a feminist at all but all these questions popped up after the sister's response. Would it really be ceeb for me to go about my day on my bike? If so, why? What harm am I causing if I'm just riding around while maintaining my hijab and modesty? Ya3ni what's the problem? Why is it that we like to dismiss everything that's new and unusual as 'ceeb'. It's true, I have never seen a Somali girl on a bike or even a Muslim woman on a bike but, can this be the sole reason why we classify this as 'ceeb'?

Ceeb is something shameful and wrong. Ceeb is what is prohibited to do in our religion. Ceeb is all those things that displeases the Creator. So, please for the love of God.. let's stop putting up 'ceeb' barriers where there should be none.

Another thing that annoys me so much is when girls/sisters act all 'ceeb-ishly' when questions regarding marriage, tahaarah (purification), intimacy ect. are being discussed in a religious circle. On multiple occasions, I found myself so irritated because the sister sitting next to me felt the need to giggle, nudge me and then whisper something in my ear about how embarrassing it is and usually all this is done in the most indiscreet manner in front of the teacher (male). *Ugh*

Come on girls, let's grow up. What's ceeb about learning matters that actually concern your religion? Why do you act like you are suddenly hearing about these things for the first time? Why do you feel the need to move around, change your body language and disturb me all for what? All for an ill-placed notion of what 'ceeb' is. If it was 'ceeb' to talk about these things, then I don't think our Mother 'Aisha radhiyAllahu 'anha would have been teaching the sahaba and she wouldn't be one of the most prolific hadeeth narrators, would she?

Don't get me wrong, I also sometimes feel embarrassed when certain topics are brought up especially if these are brought up by a male teacher but I keep that to myself and bite my tongue if I have to. But I'll never display myself like some of the other girls sometimes do.

There's a difference between 'ceeb' and 'xishood' and I think the line is blurred for many people. My nickname from my childhood has been 'Libin-Xishood' because of my excessive shyness as a kid. I like that quality in me, it prevents me from a lot of bad things, it moderates my speech, it controls my thoughts, it disciplines my actions. I love my shyness and I have learnt it to use to sub-serve me and not the other way around. It's true that as a kid, I used to be shy about the most ridiculous things like eating in front of people or walking facing the traffic (still don't like that) but in recent years, I've learnt to overcome some of that shyness.

The irony is that some of these people who like to brand certain activities as 'ceeb' sometimes don't have 'xishood'. Yet our religion teaches us that shyness/modesty is from faith. Most cultures out there have their own standards to what 'ceeb' is and maybe in the somali culture it is indeed 'ceeb' for a girl to ride a bike but.. as much as I love my somalinimo and my somali heritage, if what is considered 'ceeb' holds no religious ground.. I will not feel the need to upkeep with it.

Going back to the 'ceeb' thing and men. Why is this notion of 'ceeb' seemingly only a feminine attribute?

A guy could be married, go behind his wife's back and marry a secret second wife... and even that is not 'ceeb'. A guy could be up to absolutely no good in his life (gang, drugs, ASBO ect.) but if a girl in the same family decides to do something bold (become an astronaut, run a marathon ect.) then everyone will be focused on her and the 'ceeb' that accompanies her. Mushkilah wallah.

Let's consider 'ceeb' what Allah considers 'ceeb' in His Divine Law (the Shari'ah), let's maintain our shyness and modesty to the best of our abilities. Let's not put other sisters who want to be bold in their lives, let's not stop them under the pretence of 'ceeb'. Life is too short to stop yourself from doing what makes you happy.

Plus, I'm sure once I start riding my bike.. sisters will ask me to borrow it so... :-p

Toddles ox


Tuesday, 3 January 2017

The Little Girl

Peace,

Earlier this week, onTuesday, I left the masjid around 6pm with the intention of walking back home despite the freezing winter breeze. As I was about to exit, a little girl entered and I greeted her with the salaam. I had barely taken ten steps when a lady called me from inside her car and so, prudently, I approached her to hear what she wanted. She asked me if I saw a girl enter the masjid and I acquiesced. Without further ado, the lady started pouring her heart to me. She said that she was the young girl's carer and that she was having a tough time convincing her to attend the weekly madrassah class in the masjid. She informed me that she fostered the girl about 3 years ago and that she's the 7th family the little girl is staying with. I honestly wasn't ready for a stranger to tell me so much information and the lady herself said that she never usually talks to people about her private life let alone a stranger but she *somehow* felt something with me. I patiently listened to her despite the bitter cold, I was empathising with her situation and tried to ''advise'' her to remain positive, patient and seek help from Allah. As I was sharing these tips and ideas with the lady, I suddenly heard myself proposing to hold one-on-one sessions with the little girl. Do you sometimes have those moments where your brain and your tongue aren't in sync? I was thinking to myself 'uh-ho, Libin, just chill.. you don't have to get involved in this' but my tongue was much faster and I was already arranging a date with the lady. #typical

However, it felt like I had to propose a solution. The easiest thing that came to my mind was to say that I would happily give some of my time to connect with the young girl, get to know each other, discuss things, give her some attention, create that desire in her to want to come to the masjid ect. And that maybe just maybe, she could then find herself enthusiastic about attending the madrassah and the masjid. The lady was so pleased to hear of my proposition and we exchanged numbers and agreed to meet all together on the following Saturday.

Saturday arrived and I was expecting the lady to send me a confirmation message or something but nothing came until the very last minute. I got ready as quickly as I could and dashed out the house. I hate being late and making people wait especially when meeting someone new. Oh well..

On my way to the mosque, I was hoping that the young girl and I would manage to create a connection. Life is so much easier when you can connect with people. I felt like I could potentially have an impact on her if I managed to click with her in the first couple of minutes. I recited the du'a of Musa for Allah to open my chest and ease my tongue; I then quickly hopped to the store to grab two donuts -because surely everyone loves donuts right?- and off I went.

The girl is aged 12 going on to 13 and was such a sweetheart. I love her already and just wanted to squeeze her in my arms (and ofc I did). I can just imagine how tough her life must have been jumping from one foster family to another. I really think that all the misbehaving the lady told me about is just a cry for attention and that what she wants deep down in someone to give her time and a kind ear. Sometimes, we tend to dismiss kids and teenagers and we don't give them the eye contact or the time to let them express their thoughts and ideas which can make them feel unappreciated etc. I think she enjoyed having a grown-up specifically coming to see her and listening to what she had to say. I know that kids in foster homes/families speak to a lot of social workers and all those people so I really didn't want her to feel like I was another one of those annoying people.

You know when you're trying to attract someone's heart to you or to the deen, the first rule is to find out what they like and the second is to never directly criticise them for the things they like; if those things are contradictory or in conflict to our religion. That's exactly what I tried to do today. I didn't criticise her when she said she wanted to become a Youtuber. I didn't say anything negative when she said her dream job was to become an actress and that she loved photography. I didn't act shocked when she asked whether it's allowed to celebrate the New Year. You know what I mean? I feel like some of the religious folks out there ruin things more than they fix with today's modern teenage Muslim and make them resent Islam because everything is 'haram'. First, create the love of Tawheed in this kid's heart. Give them something to relate to, show them how impossible it is to live a great life without Allah.. then, move on to the various aspects of jurisprudence and matters of halal and haram. They will accept them wholeheartedly bi-idnillah.

I have to say that I was impressed with her knowledge of the deen. She knew quite a lot -Allahuma Barik- and she told me that lately she was having trouble concentrating in her prayers and asked me for advice on what she could do. It was so sweet and from that point onwards, I was reassured that not all hope was lost with her. She actually has a huge potential and I think she just needs a little guidance like most teenagers do at that age. She just needs someone to point her towards the right direction and give her loads and loads of encouragement and praise.

We spoke about the akhirah, I find that teenagers are usually very intrigued by the Day of Judgment, Jannah and Hellfire. These are their favourite topics and tbh they were also the things I loved reading about when I first started becoming interested in the deen. Towards the end of our conversation, she told me that she's more motivated to go to Jannah now and let me tell you.. that I was too!

She then asked me if I could describe the Prophet 'alayhi salaam to her. Do you know how touched I was by that question? I told her that from next week onwards, we'll take something from his blessed life and that we'll learn about him together. I think that she could recognise a lot of her own story through the seerah of the Prophet 'alayhi salaam especially through his childhood as an orphaned kid.

We also enjoyed our donuts and had all the other kids staring at us (or at our yummy donuts :p). Alhamdulilaah, I think I managed to create that spark and interest in her. We agreed to meet every Saturday from now on for 2 hours.

You know, lately I have been thinking about how we can ignite the love of Allah and Islam in the heart of our youngsters and teens? Most teenagers are completely unaware and heedless and this life doesn't help them at all. I also feel like us -older people- aren't necessarily doing enough in providing that guidance or help in that aspect. All we do is shout 'have you prayed yet?' when it's prayer time and then we get mad because they drag their feet for it. Are we blameworthy?

When I reflect to my own childhood and teenage years, I recall several event that triggered something in my heart and drew me to my religion. I shall mention only 2 here.

The 1st event was during one summer holiday, we were visiting my aunt in London for a few weeks (we lived in France at the time) and my aunt had a balcony with abandoned plants. I took it upon myself to water these plants religiously every day. For the first week, there was no improvements at all but I kept watering them. Slowly but surely, the plants started to sprout and grow. Flowers bloomed from the pots, beautiful colours appeared and it was such a gorgeous sight. This simple thing had a huge impact on me. It made me realise that Allah/God can indeed make anything alive and I had seen it with my own eyes! I had seen how dead the plants were and I had seen how beautiful and colourful they became! It touched a cord inside of me. Years later (I was about 10-ish at the time), when I read the Qur'an and I saw the numerous parables and metaphors Allah uses with water, plant, seeds, bringing the dead alive, the good soil bringing good ect. I was reminded of this experience and my faith strengthened a lot.

The 2nd event happened around the age of 14 during a trip to visit my uncle. Perhaps I will dedicate a post to my uncle considering how influential this man has been in my life. Anyway, one night, my uncle and I stayed up talking about different things. He always made me feel important, he always liked to listen to me, he made me want to be like him.. in other words he was my role model. This is why I really believe that we all need that figure in our lives as teenagers, we need that person that will make us feel special and who is willing to spend time with us because when we see that, we will want to listen to them in return and take on their advice.

One night, my uncle asked for my mom to allow me to sleep over at his place. I was so thrilled, I mean I always knew I was his favourite niece but this was the cherry on top of the cake lol! Mom accepted and off we went together. That night, we barely slept. We talked until late into the night. My uncle spoke about Allah, His Oneness, His Deen, His Creation. I had never heard half of the things my uncle taught me that night and more specifically, I had never heard anyone speak of God in such a beautiful manner before. I really believe that night was the first night my heart was awakened by the love of Allah and the recognition of Tawheed. He told me of the most beautiful of things, he taught me the basics of my religion and this is why my uncle means the world to me. Once the conversation ended, I couldn't sleep. To be honest, I couldn't sleep for 2 reasons.. I was scared to snore and thus disturb my uncle but I also couldn't sleep because of all the new life-altering information I had received that night.

These 2 events, for me, have been moments of spiritual awakening and it is my most precious conviction that we all need these moments in our lives. It happens at different times for different people. Some people need to be tested with death of close ones to feel that awareness and God consciousness in their hearts, others will go through sickness and difficulty to realise the closeness of God and for some, it never happens and they die without appreciating the sweetness of faith and of loving the Master... it all depends and Allah knows best for each person.

So, inshAllah.. for the little girl, I just hope that I can be that person that ignites her sweet little heart to love her religion and be proud of it. I hope that Allah guides me in this and makes me sincere. I thank Allah for giving me this opportunity. Thank You <3

Alhamdulilah.

Toddles :-)

Friday, 30 December 2016

Bye 2016

Ten days without a new post, oops, I'm sorta forcing myself to update today otherwise.. I'll never get around to it. I've been kind of busy with family visiting us and other things these past couple of days which explain why nothing new was posted.

Tomorrow's the last day of 2016. What a year it has been. A year filled with unexpected twists and turns for sure for me. Dunya-wise, it hasn't been my best year but spiritually, it's been a good one compared to the years before that. So, I guess the overall is pretty averagely mediocre.

Tomorrow inshAllah, I hope to find some alone time to reflect on what I want to achieve for 2017.. you know goal settings and all that good stuff. I also want to think about what I did wrong this year and what I need to avoid for the upcoming year. Time flies and it would be so stupid to just live without planning ahead.

I know that islamically, the year has already started a few months ago but I don't know.. probably due to my western heritage for me the new year really begins in January.. don't refute me pls! :p

Hoping to be back soon but until then,

Stay Blessed

Toddles x


Tuesday, 20 December 2016

A business-mind

Assalam 'alaykum,

Earlier this month, I attended a business convention for the first time. I remember waking up just before Fajr and with one eye open swiftly I scrolled on my phone until I saw a picture of an event that was happening a few hours later that same day. I didn't have anything planned for the day and spontaneously decided that I would attend it. You know those spontaneous decisions? I love them!

A few days before that, I told my mom that I had been thinking about creating a business and my mother -knowing me so well- just laughed out loud. A genuine laugh not a mean one, it was the kind of laughter that induced warm tears in her kind grey eyes. She said: 'You, Libin? Business? You would be the last person I imagine with a business'.. I sulked a bit because that wasn't exactly the response or encouragement I was expecting and said: 'why not? I've been thinking about it..' 

So, when I told her that morning that I decided to attend this business convention.. she giggled again and told me to listen and pay attention because I would have to report everything I learnt when I would get back home that evening. She kindly offered to pay for the ticket money for the event, bless her.

The event was being held in a fancy hotel in central London and I arrived ahead of time. I decided to go to a local coffee place and wait there for about 40 mins. I had my journal with me and used this time to jot down what I expected to get from the day, it was nice to have this moment to just reflect before the start of the talks. The event lasted the whole day from 11am to 9pm. It was a really interesting convention overall and I felt like it wasn't a wasted day!

One of the main reason I chose to attend this convention was because of the presence of the Somali couple from the U.S: Ali and Makka. I'm sure you must have heard of them before, they became millionaires this year through their company. I wanted to listen to their story from their own lips and I sure wasn't disappointed because it was inspiring. Ali was very entertaining and the whole crowd just kept cheering him on. Their speech was definitely the highlight of the convention and it was just nice to see all these people recognising this couple's hard work. I felt proud and happy for them.

I came back home buzzing that evening and told my mom about my day and everything I had heard/learnt. I told her that after this event, my mind is even more set on thinking deeper about entering the world of the business but I told her that unlike what I had been hearing all day at the convention, my desire to be a business owner is not to make money. Mom laughed again. To be honest, I laughed too because I was conscious that my comment didn't make sense. 'You want to create a business but not to make money? Then that's a charity ma cherie' said hooyo

I wrote a post on the blog ages ago called 'Money Matters Not Much' and I recall getting some comments on it about people not sharing my vision about money. I do recognise that my relationship with money is peculiar, I don't care much for money. I'm the kind of person that can spend easily (not a stingy person) and at the same time, I can be economical and budget (if there's a need for it) but I never allow money to become a concern more than it needs to be. All I had heard that day at the convention was about getting rich, having huge turnovers, buying huge mansions, going to all these exotic places ect. I just couldn't relate to this aspect at all.

Personally, I want to have a business that will give to people more than I will get in return. I want a business that will prosper and improve people's lives; that's why I don't like products based businesses. I don't want to sell products, I want to share a vision. I want a brand that becomes recognised and loved for the things it does for the people. I want to use my secular knowledge and experience in my business. I want a business that is revolutionary but I don't necessarily want to become rich. The only reason why I would want to be rich is so that I can spend more money in acts of charity, that's all.. and to maybe travel around the world for humanitarian purposes.

I really want 2017 to be the year where I turn this idea and desire into a plan. I need to really get all my thinking on this and start working on coming up with a detailed action plan. I believe having a business -especially for women- is a brilliant venture to go in. Sisters, you may want to look into it if you haven't already. Being a business owner is not only respectable but it fits in nicely with family/marital duties since it is mostly home-based. It is one of the few fields where you are in charge of yourself and you choose how to handle your decisions. Self-employment is also a huge advantage. If the business becomes successful, then it can change a life altogether.

All of the people who spoke at the convention were couple who were in the business together. It was so nice seeing these men and women praising their partners and recognising their efforts. They even admitted that having this business together made them closer and gave them more time to spend together and I can totally see how that could be true.

I guess I need to develop a business mind and I need to also learn the difference between charity and business. I need to think about what it is exactly I want to do and then come up with a business plan. I have no funds to put in at the moment but at least if I can plan and project myself.. then inshAllah when the funds get there, it'll be easy to get started. Another thing for me is that the business I have in mind is one that I want to establish back home; a crazy challenge I know. But I can see such a potential there: a potential for the people, a potential for the business to grow, a potential for myself.

Bring on 2017!

Toddles x