Monthly Archives: November 2014

Forgive Yourself… Before It’s Too Late!

How To Pardon The Past Even If You Think You Don’t Deserve It
(Published in ProductiveMuslim.com, November 2014)

Forgive

Have you committed a sin or a crime that you’re unbelievably ashamed of…?

Have you made a horrible mistake or let your loved ones down…?

Are you terrified of God’s punishment or of being humiliated…?

Are you having nightmares about scandals that might ruin your life…?

“Everybody makes mistakes. Forgive yourself, you’re only human”

There I said it!

So? Do you feel better…?

Yeah, didn’t think so. As much as people will try to help us move forward, and as much as we try to let the past go, it’s truly easier said than done. Most often than not, you’ll find yourself blocking the guilt out and submitting to numbing denial, pretending like nothing happened. Or worse, you’ll dwell on the mistakes you’ve made, magnifying them in a way that makes you believe you don’t even deserve forgiveness. Am I close…?

Yes we are all humans and we all make mistakes, but somehow it’s easier to forgive others than it is to forgive ourselves, simply because we hold ourselves to higher standards! Other people don’t live inside our heads the way we do. We can’t help but listen to that creepy voice in our minds that relentlessly reminds us of our failures and puts us down, no matter how hard we try to move on.

If you’re stuck in the mire of guilt, know that you’re not there alone. Some people choose to stay held back, others throw in the towel and follow the steps of Satan, while the smartest, most determined to help themselves, pursue a path of true redemption, by grasping the answers to these questions:

  • Did you say it…?

    Throughout the years of working as a therapist, I’ve seen my patients struggling to hide their crimes, and adamantly refusing to face what they did. Perhaps it’s shame or regret, but unless you acknowledge your mistake, you will never be able to fix it. Defending your actions and giving excuses to why you slipped seems like the safest remedy at the time, but that only means, given the same situation in the future, you’ll definitely make the same mistake again!

Stop hiding and running away! Sit alone with God and confess what you did. Talk to Him like you’re talking to your best friend. Explain what you did in detail, say how sorry you are, what you’ve learnt and what you’ll try to do to fix it. If your sin is irreversible, then confide in God and promise Him you won’t do it gain. Sense and accept the immensity of your guilt, as you let your tears melt your frozen heart. Because the truth is… you can’t heal what you don’t feel…

  • Do you know why?

    We’ve all heard it from our parents when we were younger, but still defied the number one reason why we go astray down the road.

Friends!

If you’re in the wrong crowd, you can repent till you’re blue in the face, but unless your friends support your faith, you’ll keep slipping! I remember my mom clenching her jaws when she met one of my ‘loose’ friends. She made it very clear that I was not allowed to hang out with that girl anymore. After a couple of tantrums and crying out the famous words ‘that’s so unfair!’ I finally listened, and I’m glad I did. I now do the same with my daughter…. And I know she will thank me one day, too.

The Prophet () said: “A man follows his friend’s religion, you should be careful who you take for friends.” (At-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud)

Finding the source of what led you to commit this sin is a crucial part of your repentance. Friends are the primary culprits, but there are other reasons, too. Sometimes being overconfident and careless can lead to the wrong path. Psychologists call it the ‘snow-balling’ effect. It starts with a simple “it’s no big deal” but ends disastrously. The small mistakes you ignore pile up to make you someone you’re not. You start chatting with a married man, or go out for an ‘innocent’ coffee with a coworker, and before you know it, you’re having an affair! You take something that’s not yours, ‘it’s just five bucks!”, or cheat someone and say “come on it’s a while lie!” Trust me, soon enough, your heart will be stained, and you’ll find yourself doing the unspeakable.

It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah () said:

“When the believer commits a sin, a black spot appears on his heart. If he repents and gives up that sin and seeks forgiveness, his heart will be polished. But if (the sin) increases, (the black spot) increases. That is the Ran that Allah mentions in His Book: “Nay! But on their hearts is the Ran (covering of sins and evil deeds) which they used to earn.” [83:14]

  • Are you back yet?

Imagine a world where there was no forgiveness…

What would happen to humans if their mistakes define who they are? What would become of you if you had no hope for another chance? Would you strive to be better, or will you end up hurting yourself and everyone around you?

There’s a reason God loves those who have sinned and repented, for they have the softest of hearts. They embrace new beginnings, and are driven by a force to become better people, to make up for their mistakes. They are compassionate and forgiving towards others, because they’ve been there and they’ve been humbled by their own experiences. Those are the people who convey hope, show mercy and guide others to the right path. Their sins become blessings in disguise because they renew their promises to Allah, and work harder to please Him than they ever did before. They are reborn in the most beautiful of ways…

“The Messenger of Allah () said: ‘The one who repents from sin is like one who did not sin.’” (Sunan Ibn Majah Vol. 1, Book 37, Hadith 4250)

 

Those with the worst past can create the best future, and some of the sinners of yesterday did actually become the leaders of tomorrow. I’m sure you’ve heard many stories about Islamic scholars who were once dubbed as ‘lost souls’ or ‘wrongdoers’. Their crimes and mistakes were in fact wake-up calls! Pardoning your sins is the only gateway to being productive, because you breakoff those strains bolting you down to the past, and move on with renewed hope. Guilt left unresolved scars our souls. It’s the same as breaking your arm (even if you were doing something wrong at the time) and refusing to cast it. You must heal your emotional injuries the same way you would physical one. Eternal punishment isn’t the solution, it’s only a pause button on life, where you miss the chance to erase your bad deeds by doing good deeds and helping others.

Your sins don’t hurt Allah…they only hurt you. And Allah loves us too much to watch us damage ourselves. God is Merciful and Kind; He forgives His salves when they ask for forgiveness… and gives them countless chances over and over.

Do yourself a favor and start a new page….
Because if there is anyone in this world worthy of your forgiveness…

It’s you….

Say, “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah . Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” (Holy Qur’an, 39:53)

By Lilly S. Mohsen

Why Do We Run To ‘The Cave’?

Uncovering the 4 Secrets of Life
(Published in Al Jumu’ah Magazine, October 2014)

Cave

While we were baking our signature chocolate chip cookies one morning, my daughter asked me a simple question.

“Mommy? Why do you have to read “Surat Al Kahf “ every Friday?”

“I don’t have to honey. I choose to for many reasons. One of them is because our Prophet (PBUH) said reading the chapter of ‘The Cave’ protects Muslims from the evil of the Anti-Christ, which is the most difficult trial humans will ever have to face.” I said knowingly.

“But the whole chapter says absolutely nothing about the Anti-Christ! I don’t get it! Where’s the connection?” She asked.

“If I give you all the answers then how will you ever learn? Figure it out!”

Yeah, that’s what I usually say when I’m stuck! I suddenly realized I had no idea why we read Surat Al Kahf on Fridays, why the Prophet (PBUH) said it illuminates the whole week and how that would prevent us from the world’s worst tribulations!

So after nights of hiding from my daughter to do my research, I finally uncovered the secrets of the four stories related in this beautiful chapter of the Quran…

  • The Secret Of Faith

The first story is about six or seven teenage boys, who leave their families and lives behind to take refuge in a deserted cave. Armed with nothing but their faith in Allah, they escape atheism, only to wake up 309 years later to an entire city of believers. Their faith had been tested and they passed with flying colors, didn’t they?

This story is a reminder that our faith will be tested too! Make no mistake about that! Even with Islam being the fastest growing religion in the world, Muslims today are being shunned and degraded like they’re second class citizens. Our faith is put to the test every time we step outside our comfort zone. How many times have you been detained at an airport with the blatant insinuation of being a terrorist? I, for one, was spit on at Disney Land, just because I wear the veil! And while the trials can be minimal or extreme, Allah gives us the guidelines to passing this specific test right after telling the story. The verses explain the secret to preserving your faith is patience and to surround yourself with believers. Good company is the main key to safeguarding our faith….

  • The Secret Of Money

The next story speaks of the rich man who bragged about his possessions to his other less-fortunate friend. The man’s wealth made him arrogant, forgetting that it can all disappear in the blink of an eye. The truth is, nothing in this world lasts forever, and remembering this fact is our key to surviving the test of wealth. This generation is all about ‘who drives the latest car model’, and ‘who bought the limited edition designer bag that WASN’T on sale!’. Seriously, what difference does it make? We will all be buried underground completely alone!
God gives us the answer to this test right after the story. The secret to not letting fortune blind you, is to do more good deeds and help others.

  • The Secret Of Knowledge

    During his journey with Al-Khidr, Prophet Moses (AS) learns the greatest lesson of all: Divine wisdom can sometimes be disguised in what we perceive as wrong or bad, so don’t believe everything you hear and half the things you see.

Just like one can lose his faith and be blinded by wealth, one can surely be consumed with the ‘know-it-all’ syndrome, and that alone is a difficult test. How do we overcome this kind of conceit? Allah gives the solution within the story, telling us how the blessed prophet himself, the messenger of God, was humble enough to follow orders and learn from each encounter. Humility has always been, and always will be, the golden path to knowledge and success.

  • The Secret Of Power

It’s the story of a great king who was given immense power. He traveled around the world with the sole purpose of helping people and spreading the word of Allah. The secret to sustaining supremacy is to use it for good, and remain aware of the fact that you can’t do it alone. The king was only able to restrain ‘Gog and Magog’ with the help of people whom he could hardly even understand. It’s the unity that makes us overpower the enemies, which is, sadly, not the case with Muslims today.

The subsequent verses tell the secret to maintaining our powers, which is sincerity in all our actions and remembering that on Judgment Day, we will have no authority against Allah’s word, The Most Powerful of all.
While these secrets pose as a weekly source of light to all of us, the dots are finally connected to form the ultimate shield. For the Anti-Christ (Al Dajjal) will arrive with exactly those four enticing allures…

Our faith will be tested when the Anti-Christ asks people to worship him instead of Allah.

We will be tempted by his wealth when we see the earth’s treasures’ follow him like a swarm of bees.

His knowledge will overwhelm people when he brings back the dead.

And his power to command the sky and control most parts of the earth will blind people to his toxic mission.

That’s the thing about the Holy Qur’an, it’s never random or irrelevant. The more you read it, the more you uncover its secrets. And with its overwhelming beauty and serenity, I can’t help but run to ‘The Cave’, that safe embrace where Allah unlocks the doors to His Mercy…

Say, “I am only a man like you, to whom has been revealed that your god is one God. So whoever would hope for the meeting with his Lord – let him do righteous work and not associate in the worship of his Lord anyone.” (Holy Qur’an 18:110)

Lilly S. Mohsen

purple

“There is no better time than now….
The time to live is now….
The time to dream is now…..
The time to move on is now….
The time to work hard… do the things you want to do….
The time to shine is now….
Right now….”