Monthly Archives: February 2015

Are Your Dreams BIG Enough?

Published on Productive Muslim
Feb 25th, 2015
This is the original uncut version

Are Your Dreams Big Enough?

Surat Al Kahf Series- Part Four
The Finale

Ladies and gentlemen we are approaching the end of this series. Please fasten your seatbelts and make sure your seats are in the upright position. On behalf of the cabin crew I would like to thank you for taking this journey with us and hope to see you here again soon….

Okay fine, I use humor to hide my true feelings, and today I have a tiny heartache because I’m really going to miss talking about Surat Al Kahf. But on a lighter note, while researching the final story, which is about a king named ‘Dhul Qarnayn’ (The man of the two horns) I found out that a possible reason for his title is his hairdo; two ponytails that looked like horns (That cheered me up honestly!)

Others say it’s because he reached the two ‘horns’ of the sun; east and west. In fact there are many interpretations of his title and Allah knows best which is the true one. It’s his fascinating story that concerns us most since we are asked to read it every single Friday for the rest of our lives.

Dhul Qarnayn was a legendary righteous king whom Allah had given immense power. He used his gift to travel around the globe, encountering on his journey a number of different nations whom he helped reform. One of his greatest achievements is building a dam to protect the entire world from the terror of two monster tribes named Gog and Magog, whose penetration through that solid wall will one of the ten major signs of Judgment Day. His story ends abruptly but I know is that Allah mentioned Dhul Qarnayn’s story in about sixteen holy verses from the Qur’an for us to learn something crucial. So here it goes….

Dreams Are The Seeds Of Power

Now this is just a speculation on my part so please don’t quote me on it. I can’t help but imagine this amazing king’s childhood and in my mind there was an incident that went something like this:

“Mommy when I grow up I’m going to change the world!”

“That’s so sweet honey. Now finish your vegetables please!”

“I mean it… My dream is to go on the most magnificent adventure of all time. I want to travel around the world and change it to the better…”

“I am so proud of you my son! You are destined for greatness my son. Never give up on that beautiful dream.”

Perhaps that wasn’t the exact conversation but one thing I’m sure of is that this worldwide journey did not happen by chance. Once Allah gave him the means and the power, Dhul Qarnayn did not waste any time. He used his passion for adventures to help people left and right, and followed his dreams. It’s that kind of aspiration that can conquer the unimaginable! This is what legendary leaders are made out of; heroic missions, consuming passion and a dream too big for the human mind to absorb. So tell me, how do you react to your children’s unrealistic dreams? More importantly, which of your ambitions makes you jump out of bed in the morning? Dhul Qarnayn’s story is both an inspiration for those who have a goal, and a big slap on the face for those who don’t. If your dream falls short of pursuing the impossible for the sake of Allah, then… well… good luck and have a nice boring life! The ultimate dream is not tangled within this life, it’s to reach the highest Heavens and by God, don’t let anything stop you from working hard to get there. That’s what makes Muslims oh so special… We have an end in mind.

Justice Is The Essence Of Power

Dhul Qarnayn’s first visit mentioned in the Qur’an was to a group of people living in the far west. His massively gigantic army and the features of his superiority were simply indescribable. Allah said,

Indeed We established him upon the earth, and We gave him to everything a way.” (16:84)

The word ‘everything’ in this ayah leaves me speechless. This king was, by far, the most powerful man on earth! So what did he do when he first arrived? You’d think he would confiscate the city’s treasures and set his military generals up in fancy castles. He would have a huge ceremony and command the big heads to bow to him just to show who is boss! Surprisingly, the only demonstration of his power came in the form of establishing justice and enforcing a new constitution that treated everyone the same. No matter what your status was, if you did good you’d be rewarded and if you did wrong you’d be punished. Clear and simple.

Anyone who ever became successful like a president or any other authority figure started the path with a big dream, but without fairness and integrity, no one can withhold power for long. Once your dream of having children of your own for example comes true, if you don’t treat them justly, that dream will turn into a nightmare when you lose your kids’ love and respect. Reaching a higher rank needs taking consistent steps towards success, and the most eminent one of those is justice.

Abu Musa reported: Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “It is out of reverence to Allah in respecting an aged Muslim, and the one who commits the Qur’an to memory and does not exaggerate pronouncing its letters nor forgets it after memorizing, and to respect the just ruler“.

 And yet which of today’s leaders truly deserve our respect…?

 When There’s ‘Will’ There A Way

On another trip, Dhul Qarnayn came in contact with a terrified nation where he was offered payment in return for protection from the tribes of Gog and Magog, who were relentlessly corrupting their land. This king’s reputation and global power had obviously exceeded him, for these people knew him by name. Him being honorable, Dhul Qarnayn refused to take their money to build the huge wall and asked to be aided by their manpower instead. Now these people knew exactly what needed to be done, they were rich, strong and capable, they had solutions, natural resources and workers, and even though they were dying every day, they did nothing about it. What they lacked was the will and determination…. Two things we need to instill in our children if we ever hope for a brighter future. Dhul Qarnayn urged these people to work and literally saved the world, he put most of today’s leaders to shame, the presidents who celebrate their power with drinks and extravagant parties while other nations like Palestine and Syria are suffering and withering away. How is this king’s story not making the blood race in our veins? How are we still snuggling on our coaches all day watching TV and eating chips when each and every one of us is an authority figure somewhere whether at work or at home or even at school?! I swear to Allah there is NO time for free time! So tell me, are your dreams big enough?

With even minimum knowledge of the one-eyed Dajjal (Anti-Christ) you’ll easily figure out that the stage is already being set for his arrival. The wrong has become so normal that people are ashamed of doing what’s right. We’ve become so self involved to the point that the closest relationships we have are not with our families but with our IPhones and IPods and IPads, the keyword being ‘I’ or ‘eye’, whichever way you want to look at it. This hideous being will come to test our faith, blind us with wealth, confuse us with his knowledge and assume power over the whole world, starting with taking control of our own minds. Instead of making every minute count, we are counting the minutes till the day is over…. We are wasting precious time that we will NEVER get back!

Yes this sounds like a reprimanding lecture, but we are all in the same boat here, myself included. How do we get out of this rut? I’m glad you asked (Finally!)

 You And Me: We Can Make A Difference

Revolve your life around a dream that pleases Allah and lifts up this beautiful ummah. Don’t be scared. Dream BIG! And as you take each step forward remember to stay humble, for that’s the only way you’ll ever learn and succeed. Hold on to your principles and your faith, because no matter how common wrong has become, it still doesn’t make it right. Fight for justice. Speak up and make a difference. Step out into this world with a zest that will overwhelm people around you. Take pride in applying our beloved Prophet’s advice and show the world how truly amazing you are.

To all the Muslims around the world, this is the final wake up call.

Dream…. The most enchantingly marvelous dreams… and then wake up and be the proud powerful leaders you are meant to be.

Guide and lead the way….
You can do it.

I know you can…

Lilly S. Mohsen

Three Strikes And You’re OUT!

Published on Productive Muslim, Feb 18th 2015

Below is the original uncut version

Three Strikes And
You’re OUT!

Surat Al Kahf Series- Part Three

The It’s one of those days….
The alarm doesn’t go off. You’re late for an urgent meeting. There’s no edible food in the fridge and you’re out of coffee. You stomp your feet on the way out and maybe rip your pants. The car won’t start so you take a cab with a chatty driver who takes a wrong turn and you end up stuck in traffic for what seems like a whole week!
You just want to scream: “Why do BAD things happen to GOOD people?”

I remember feeling the same way when my son’s school closed down and with his autism; a change in routine was no walk in the park! Being a single mom, I honestly broke down, thinking Allah was testing me at my weakest…. And then I learnt about Prophet Musa’s story with Al Khidr, and why we read about it in Surat Al Kahf every Friday. Since then, a blessed light cleared my vision, and nothing was ever the same again….

Recap?
Okay but let’s make it brief.
So a man asks Prophet Musa who is the most knowledgeable person alive and the blessed Prophet automatically answers that he was, since he’s the Messenger of God. But Allah shows Prophet Musa there’s someone else (a man named Al Khidr) with even more knowledge and Prophet Musa humbly embarks on a long journey to find him and learn from him. Al Khidr instructs the Prophet not to ask any questions during the learning process, and he tries to oblige, expect it was very difficult not to wonder why the wise Al Khidr would wreck the poor people’s ship, kill a young boy and fix a wall in a town where he was obviously not welcomed. Prophet Musa’s legitimate curiosity got the best of him, and Al Khidr finally explained that each act he did might have seemed horrible or confusing on the outside, but in reality it was for a very good cause. I guess this story is the origin of the phrase ‘blessings in disguise’.
What does this have to do with productivity, though?
I’ll let the following golden lessons answer this question…

Lesson One: The Only Way To Get More Is Give More:

If that makes any sense! But before I start with the first story of the poor people on the ship, can I just pause to admire Prophet Musa for a little bit? Do you understand who he was?! The chosen one! Yet he travelled a long way to learn from someone else. He could have easily went up to Al Khidr and said, “Hey! I spoke to Allah Himself. Can you top that?” But instead he asked polity to follow him! That kind of humility is the first step to achieving any goal. In order to learn and get ahead in life, you need to be humble enough to listen and absorb information from others.

The journey has a lot of action and movement. Al Khidr did not sit Prophet Moses down and then scribble words on the white board to teach him. No, he took his student out on live experiences. The first was on board of a ship that belonged to a group of poor people, and they were kind enough to welcome Al Khidr and Prophet Musa and help them reach their destination. Al Khidr made a hole in the ship because he knew from Allah there was a king behind them about to forcefully seize it. The very same ship these people used to help others, Allah preserved it for them.
And now everything makes senses, for when you give help, money, time or service from the heart, you’ll only get more, never lose.

Our beloved Prophet Muhammad was so right when he said:

Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as saying:
“Charity does not in any way decrease the wealth and the servant who forgives Allah adds to his respect, and the one who shows humility Allah elevates him in the estimation (of the people).”

Lesson Two: Nothing Is Lost, Only Replaced

This story is a hard pill swallow. I mean killing a child? Seriously? It’s every parent’s worst nightmare, and here he is Al Khidr murdering an innocent soul because the boy might grown up and disobey his parents. How do we know if the heartache of losing a child isn’t worse than him misbehaving?!
Well, Allah knows.
And if you’ve ever watched a young man hit his dad or become an atheist or a young Muslim girl eloping with her boyfriend and causing a huge scandal, or becoming a drug addict, you will totally understand that sometimes death is a mercy when compared to other constantly draining disasters.
The murdered boy will most probably go to Jannah and his parents will only have the sweetest memories of him before having a new child, who will fill their lives with joy.
Never does Allah take anything away without giving back something better.

Lesson Three: Our Goodness Survives Even After We Are Gone:

Prophet Moses and Al Khidr set out to a town of inhospitable people, the kind who wouldn’t hand you a glass of water if you were in burning building. Imagine what these people would do once they find a buried treasure? Would they really give it to its rightful owners? Definitely not! Al Khidr built a wall to preserve the treasure under it till the orphan boys grow up, because that’s when they will need it the most. He explained his actions later, saying he did that for the sake of their father, who was a righteous man.

Oh how we worry and pile the money up fearing our children will struggle after we pass away. All the trust funds and life insurances to secure the future hold nothing next to how we choose to live before we die. Allah promises us many rewards if we stay on the right path, and one of them is financial security for our families when we can longer provide for them. Islam is anything but self-centered; it teaches us we are all connected, and every little good deed we do will have a ripple effect to benefit our loved ones and many others.

Okay my turn to go all mushy and soppy!
Do you feel the sentiments in this beautiful chapter? Do you see how Allah cares for our feelings and softly soothes our hearts? In the first story, he takes away the fear and anger of losing the ship. In the second he takes away the sadness and disappointment in a rebellious child, and in the third he takes away the anxiety of worrying about the future. This is our Lord… The Most Merciful and the Most Compassionate. If we really knew Him, or allowed ourselves that honor of learning about Him, we will never think that bad things could happen to His good people. They’re only hidden blessings….

I found out later my son’s previous school shut down because the teachers used to hit the special needed kids and abuse them, knowing they can never report back to their parents. My son now goes to a new school, where the teachers are angels sent to us from heaven. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him this happy, and I’m grateful for everything he’s learning and for who he’s becoming now. The blessing is clear and vivid now; no longer in disguise….

This Holy chapter teaches us so much more than what meets the eye. How assumptions toy with our minds and lead us to the darkest of places. How giving others the benefit of the doubt is a forgotten ‘sunnah’ and shows us why we panic and breakdown, because we have zero knowledge of what the future beholds, and that’s the third trial the Anti-Christ will come with. The Dajjal will test our faith, blind us with wealth and impress us with his knowledge. He will be able bring back the dead for God’s sake! The only way to survive this tribulation is to remain humble and sincere. The power of knowledge is in knowing there’s a lot we don’t know…. It’s in true submission to the Great Lord and trusting in His will and timing….

Hey! What about the title and the three strikes? You forgot to mention we only get a number of chances and we must learn from our mistakes and that patience is the key to every good!

Actually I had no idea about that.
I just thought the title was fun 🙂

Lilly S. Mohsen

BUSTED: Why Men NEED Four Women!

Published On Ink Of Faith, Feb 13th, 2015 This is the original version

BUSTED: Why Men NEED Four Women!

FOUR WOMEN I would give anything to see the look on your face right now LOL. I can just imagine most women’s horrified gasps at the controversial title, and of course all the smirks from men, too. I realize the ‘multiple marriage’ thing drives some people up the roof, but that’s a debate I can win later. (No wait a second, I promised myself not to engage in debates, so never mind, you win!). While Islam does allow men to take four wives and there are surely certain rules and restrictions to consider, that’s not my topic today. Sorry to disappoint the male readers. Now girls come on, you can relax, because what you’re about to read will literally transform your life into the fairytale you’ve always dreamed of when you were a little girl. Yes I know about the white pillowcases you put over your head and how you pretended to be a bride walking down the aisle with a bouquet of tissue paper. And yes, we all did it too! We all share the dream of a ridiculously consuming love and a happy-ever-after marriage.

So how many times have you heard a man describe his ‘dream’ woman? It might have gone something like this: “I want a woman who can be a wife, a lover, a mom and a best friend all at the same time! I want a woman who is soft and feminine, yet strong and confident. A woman who is religious and conservative yet wild and sensual, who is smart, funny, proud and outgoing, yet obedient and timid. I want a woman who is gorgeous but not vain, who is both shy and daring… Okay do you have all day?”

Men basically want the whole package; which is why some might argue they’re not capable of loving just one woman their whole lives, since no woman can possess all of these seemingly opposite qualities. Personally I strongly disagree for many reasons. Our beloved Prophet explains it in a few simple words: It was narrated from ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin Al-‘As that the Messenger of Allah said: “This world is all temporary conveniences, and the best temporary convenience of this world is a righteous woman.” (Sunan an-Nasa’i 3232)

From a psychological perspective, each and every woman has four characters of four very different girls living inside of her. In my humble opinion, this is the essence of what makes her a ‘dream’ come true.  

1-The Formal Girl:

Dressed in a black and white suit, she sits behind a mahogany desk and looks up from behind her half-moon glasses. “Grocery list? Check. Kids’ dentist appointments? Check.” This is the managing director living inside your body and practically breathing down your neck all the livelong day! She stares at you with arms crossed and one eyebrow up every time you attempt to go astray or even make the simplest mistake. This formal, strict, no-nonsense girl is your subconscious, and your man needs her up and running at all times. She’s the one who will stand by him and never let him give up, the one who makes him believe in himself and encourages him to do the right thing no matter what the stakes are. This woman has zero tolerance for crap and will stop you before slipping, whether it’s implementing the ‘no shoes on couch’ rule or all the way to guarding his family and herself while he’s not around. She will make sure her man reaches his goals in all aspects of life, even if she has a professional career of her own, and she will subtly guide him to success.

This woman is emotionally strong. She is your man’s rock, and she lives inside of you and only you…

2-The Star:

Now we’re talking! You see, men are visual and this is the woman that every man wants! She’s all covered up and subdued in public, but in private she’s the one dressed in red silks, her hair flowing luxuriously down her back and her scent fills the house with roses from heaven. She’s the party girl who spoils herself with spa treatments and stunning feminine gowns. This woman is delicate, soft and sensual, she makes her husband feel like a man! She’s the wild daring girl who adds spice to his life and makes him feel young again. Nothing wears this woman down, not even the kids or work or daily troubles. She’s carefree and exciting, emitting an electrifying energy that keeps her man on his toes. She’s the one who goes on moonlit-dinners with her husband and greets him with a suggestive smile that washes his stress away. She knows what makes him happy and provides it with passion. She’s the fantasy that drives him crazy with pleasure, makes him feel alive, and is the reason he resists outside temptations. One look at her and he’s overwhelmingly pleased….

This beautiful woman is your man’s lover, and she lives inside of you and only you…

 3-The Baby Girl:

Dragging her pink fluffy blankie on the floor and sucking on her thumb, this baby girl with the cute ponytails is innocent, helpless and naive. She’s your ‘inner child’ and she needs to be taken care of. She’s the one who still gets excited about glitter pens and hides under the table to eat chocolate before dinner. She’s sweet and kind and loving, all you want to do is hug and protect her. This is the girl who respects and obeys her man, doesn’t debate his opinions and trusts him completely. She’s what every man truly and deeply loves with his heart and soul. She gives him the warmth that the star and formal girl can’t provide. She cuddles with her man to watch a movie, and takes care of him when he’s sad or sick. She’s the one who will stop in the middle of the street to help an old woman, and jumps on the bed happily when her husband surprises her with something new. She believes in fairytales and enchanted castles and ‘happy-ever-afters’. She never criticizes, judges or nags, because her smile makes everything better. She plays ‘peek-a-boo’ with the kids and tickles her husband when he’s mad. She fills his home with joy and laughter and quenches his crave to be needed and appreciated.

This sweet girl is your man’s baby, and she lives inside of you and only you…

4.The Teacher  

More accurately this woman is the giver. She carries the motherly genes that prompt her to learn, teach and advise. She relinquishes her pride sometimes to preserve his status or fulfill his perhaps unreasonable needs. This woman is every man’s comfort zone, the one he can trust and confide in. She puts him on a pedestal in the eyes of family and friends, and will make sure his kids look up to him till their necks hurt. This woman has a golden heart filled with faith and love to the One and Only Lord, it makes her man proud she’s the mother of his children. Like a dedicated teacher she revolves her life around him being a leader, brushing away his little errors and guiding him lovingly when he feels lost. She raises generations of Muslim men and women who will go out and change the world.

This selfless woman is your man’s soul mate and best friend. And she lives inside of you and only you….  

Now before you start making phone calls to organize a riot for female rights and camp outside my house with banners reading ‘What About OUR Needs?!’ and ‘It Takes Two To Tango”. Let me first remind you of the time when you were still engaged and you had this rush of wanting to spend the rest of your life doing everything you can to make your husband the happiest man in the world. Remember the time when this was your biggest dream? Well are you being the woman you promised him to be? Keeping marriage alive takes a lot of effort, sacrifices and forgiveness, or else happiness walks right out the door and failure walks in (Trust me, out of all people I should know!). Most wives today have lost sight of the importance of their roles in life, and instead wither away complaining and nagging.

“And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.” (Surat Ar-Rūm, Verse 30, Holy Qur’an)

We occupy ourselves counting all the things men do wrong and forget women are just as accountable if not more. Nowadays the ‘formal girl’ is nothing but an aggressive faultfinder, the ‘star’ only beautifies herself if she’s expecting company, the ‘baby girl’ is a whining drama queen, and the ‘teacher’ is a self-absorbed critic! It’s time for us women to take a good look in the mirror and ask ourselves if we are fulfilling our obligations before asking for our rights! For God’s sake we live in a time when if the wife greets her husband with a smile he either gets suspicious or freaks out.

I can quote psychologists and wise mentors to prove how we can change people through changing the way we treat them, but I’m not going to because this article is running way too long and my son is getting frustrated he just clogged me with his trophy! Plus, I find no words can compare to the sayings of our beloved Prophet (PBUH), the only role model anyone can ever need. He summed up the four characteristics of the perfect woman…..

It was narrated from Abu Umamah that: The Prophet (PBUH) used to say: “Nothing is of more benefit to the believer after Taqwa of Allah than a righteous wife whom, if he commands her she obeys him, if he looks at her he is pleased, if he swears an oath concerning her she fulfills it, and when he is away from her she is sincere towards him with regard to herself and his wealth.” (Sunan Ibn Majah, Vol.3, Book 9, Hadith 1857)

Today is the day the whole world is celebrating ‘love’, and even though Muslims don’t believe in Valentines’ Day, it’s nice to be reminded to tell the people you love just how much you love them…. Starting with your husband, who needs you more than he has ever needed anyone in this world. It’s your choice really, you can be your man’s most amazing fantasy or you can be his worst nightmare. Studying the Qur’an and Sunnah (which is basically what they teach us in Psychology) has given me a different perspective to life. A woman has powers she’s not even aware of.

Get in touch with your four girls and let your husband fall in love with them every single day…

Be that dream woman….

Be you…

Lilly S. Mohsen

When Money Talks, Shut It UP!

Published by ProductiveMuslim.com on Feb 11th, 2015
Below is the original uncut version

When Money Talks
Shut it UP!

Surat Al Kahf Series- Part Two

“No I’m just a normal person like everyone else! Granted `I live in a 17 floor mansion, but you know, it’s very simple. The walls are gold plated and the fireplaces and crystal lights are all voice activated. I got my bedroom suite for only 250,000 pounds! Pretty good deal, huh? But anyways, enough about me! Now tell me something about you”

You probably met one of those before; the kind of people who don’t necessarily brag out loud, but instead work it into the conversation to let everyone know how ‘well’ they’re doing. They feign that shocked look when they hear that not every person in the world owns a private jet or summers in Cannes with all the celebrities. Then they’ll pout as they try to make you feel better about your miserable life, all the while adding more insult to injury, with details about how they spend lonely nights on their 20 feet yachts and light their cancerous cigars with hundred dollar bills, rubbing their riches in your face till your teeth hurt.

Well, on second thought, I really hope you’ve never met anyone like that. I must say it’s not a very pleasant experience.

And even though these people might brag about modern day luxuries, their three-step technique is as old as time itself, and is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an more than 1400 years ago in a chapter Muslims are required to read every single Friday. It’s the story of the man with two gardens in Surat Al Kahf, and yes, we read it weekly for a reason!

So let’s quickly recap the events of the story. Two men have a conversation in which the richer one boasts about his wealth, denies Judgment Day and lets arrogance overcome him. The less fortunate man reminds him it can all perish in an instant, and soon enough, the wealthy man’s estate falls to pieces before his eyes. The End!

STEP ONE: Pretentiousness Turns To Conceit

Perhaps they were neighbors, but companionship was all those two men had in common. One’s resources were scarce to the point of negligible, while the other man, oh my, he had it all! Endless palm trees surrounded his vast acres of lush grapevines and huge field of crops. A river gushed between his two heaven-like gardens to eliminate the problem of irrigation. His estate didn’t manage itself obviously, which is how we know he probably had hundreds of employees working for him. This man’s empire produced crops and fruits at full capacity, with 0% probability of lost or damaged goods. The money rolled in endlessly and well, this man was evidently one of those ‘if you got it flaunt it’ kind of guy!

Yet the wealthy man did not go up to his poor companion and boast out of nowhere!

It wasn’t like:

“Knock knock”

“Who is there?”

“Rich!”

“Rich who?”

“Richer than you are! Bye”

No, Allah specifically explains that he let it slip in a conversation both men were already engaged in. And what was the poor man’s response? Nothing! I mean what would you say when someone adamantly tries to make you feel less of a person because you’re not rich enough? Planting a seed of inadequacy in other people’s hearts is the first step downhill. You can’t drag someone down unless you’re lower than they are, and that’s what showing off turns us into; conceited, mean and low.

STEP TWO: Conceit Turns To Violation

For some reason, arrogant people with high statuses hear stories of disasters around the world and brush it off completely as if they’re not susceptible to any of that. Their wealth blinds them into thinking they’re superior in this world, and consequently the first runner ups for bigger treasures in the Hereafter. That’s arrogance on top of arrogance! At this point, they become unfair not only to people, but to themselves, for they forget everything they own was ‘given’ to them with Allah’s will. The poor man reminds his rich neighbor that his arrogant attitude is a form of ‘disbelief’ in the Lord, and explains that all his wealth can disappear in the blink of an eye.

(Confession: I have to say every time I read this part of Surat Al Kahf, I thought the poor man was asking Allah to take the rich man’s wealth away, and it really confused me why a believer would do that. I would read that part quickly and block out my disappointment in the poor man. For years I never thought of digging deeper and finding out the real meaning of this verse. I guess that was lack of humility on my part, thinking my interpretation was all there is to know! Now that I did my homework, I realize I was so wrong it’s ridiculous. Sorry Allah)

Wow, that was hard to admit!

Conceit abuses others, but before it does, it violates our own souls; the pure loving hearts we once possessed become tarnished with self-importance. A true believer understands that poverty is a test from Allah, but so is wealth! It’s your humble attitude that counts, not your bank account.

STEP THREE: Violation Turns To Destruction

This poor man did not ask Allah to terminate the wealthy man’s kingdom, but let’s face it, most people would feel violated by the insinuations that they’re not ‘good enough’, and those negative feelings will definitely yield negative vibes. Take for a example a poor woman, who can barely pay school tuition, listening to her rich cousin go into excruciating detail about how tiring it was to throw such a lavish party for her daughter’s sixteenth birthday. She complains the tulips flown all the way from Holland were not the right color, and the giveaways were not engraved with each guest’s name, like Oh My GOD, how embarrassing?!! Let’s pause here for a second, how do you think that poor woman listening to this would feel? She would probably start harboring anger and hatred towards all rich people, wouldn’t she?

The wealthy man’s empire tumbled to the ground, and in my humble opinion, that is also a symbol of destruction in general, whether in material things or in society as a whole. This poor woman will probably feel pressured to throw her own daughter a party too, with money she doesn’t have! Violating people’s meager lives poisons their thoughts with the need to compete; to live up to shallow expectations and that only creates hatred and jealousy.

Golden Tip:

One of my beloved Islamic scholars became so popular that when he visited one country the people were so excited to meet him they gathered around his car when he arrived and lifted the whole car up, chanting his name! When he came back home, he was found on his knees cleaning the floors of a public bathroom. When his followers gasped he cried and said, “Leave me be! I’m terrified of becoming arrogant. I’m here to remind myself that I’m just a mere slave of Allah.”

What about us? How do we remain humble in a society that shoves competition and immodesty down our throats?

Well, our beautiful Islam left no questions unanswered, and our beloved Prophet’s teachings (PBUH) are overwhelmingly and beautifully profound. Amongst the ways to remain humble is to feed the hungry, visit the sick and have patience when others disagree with you. But two of the most characteristics I have personally found very effective and are truly humbling are RESPECT and MERCY.

 

Narrated Abdullah Ibn Amr Ibn al-‘As:

The Prophet () said: Those who do not show mercy to our young ones and do not realize (respect) the right of our elders are not from us.”

 

The Anti-Christ (Dajjal) will come with four ultimate and extremely difficult challenges. It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said: “The Messenger of Allah, used to seek refuge (with Allah) from the torment of Hell, the torment of the grave, and Al-Masih Al-Dajjal.”

We are up for some huge trials people! The first challenge is FAITH and the second one is WEALTH!

(No I’m not telling you what the other two are yet!)

The treasures will follow the Dajjal like ‘swarms of bees’, so if wealth impresses or blinds us now, guess how much trouble we will be in at that time! But Allah is kind, He gave us all the aid we need in Surat Al Kahf, and gave us the key to the trial of wealth in the verses after the story; it’s remembering that all of this is temporary, for we will all stand before Him soon and testify to our deeds.

Seventy or eighty years on Earth are nothing compared to eternity in jannah inshAllah…

So if you want to be productive instead of destructive, whenever you hear that voice in your head of money talking, do yourself a favor and shut it up! Money comes and goes…. But the best is still ahead of us, and will last forever…..

Just hang in there…

Lilly S. Mohsen

Rare Moments: Confessions Of A Mother With A Special Needs Child

Published my Virtualmosque.com (Suhaib Webb)
12 Jan, 2015
This is the original uncut version

Rare Moments
Confessions Of The Mother Of A Child With Special Needs

13

There come those rare moments when out of nowhere, and when we least expect it, something truly magical happens…
Perhaps some of us are too wrapped up in the mucky puddles of our lives to actually notice those moments…
But one way or another… One chance or another…
Whether we want to admit it or not… We all get glimpses of dreams coming true…
Fairytale wedding nights and surprise birthday parties…
A baby’s first step and a child’s heartwarming smiles…
A hug from the right person at the right time…
A moment of success under the spotlight… Or genuine appreciation from our loved ones…
A kiss that melts souls and weakens knees…
First days of school and rose-colored graduations…
A thought or an idea that boosts our minds and hearts with hope and energy…

True submission… Under the sparkling light of faith…

There come those rare moments when suddenly, and out of nowhere… Something truly magical happens…
And I was one of the lucky few to see it and feel it… And here I am placing it lovingly in my cherished box of beautiful memories…
The magical moment when my son became part of our family…
And we got to enjoy him for one whole hour…

My daughter and I froze in place… Mesmerized by the beauty of this unity… For 60 blessed minutes…. each second was worth a lifetime of happiness…
My son, who had been living with us for eleven years…
Blended with us tonight… And for the first time…
In a very long time…
We were finally a family…

I got to answer his smart questions…
I got to cuddle with him and his sister on our couch and watch a movie…
A new movie he’s never seen before…
And yet he never acted up…
He never banged his head against the wall and never punched me in the face when I looked at him…
He didn’t slap his sister or try to break the TV…
He didn’t…
He laughed and joked and told us how much he loves us…
He walked to his room
All by himself…
And fetched his blue blanket…
All by himself…
And came back with messy hair and a big adorable grin that shined like a full moon on our lives…We were there to see it and feel it…We were there to enjoy that blessing tonight…And even though it might sound so simple and normal…
To me… It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life…

My eleven-year-old son was behaving like an eleven year old for the very first time…

With no extra doses of medication or midnight calls to doctors…
With no worries about seizures and panic attacks and excessive drooling from excitement…
With no wondering how I’ll manage tomorrow and how I survived yesterday…
With no apologies to people around me and explaining his condition to his sister over and over..
I didn’t have to hold back my tears… And I didn’t have to shield everyone with my body from his sudden blows..
I didn’t….
And only now I realize that something ‘not happening’ could be the greatest most amazing blessing of all…
A pleasant normal side of my son was given to me as a gift tonight…
For one whole hour…
He sat and talked to us like a young man and then fell asleep on my lap like an innocent little baby…
Just like that…
And as I glanced at the look on his sister’s face…
Absorbing her smile and serene feeling of long lost security…
As I watched her fall asleep peacefully without fearing that her own brother was in the same room…
My heart sang a beautiful lullaby I’ve never heard before…
I sat alone with both my children asleep in my arms… Hoping there was a pause button for this rare magical moment that would make it last forever…
The whole world smiled back at me… Basking in my newfound happiness…
For a brief moment I got to experience a daily event of a normal life…
And not in my wildest dreams did I think that something so simple could be so glorious and fulfilling…
Even when I knew deep down that come morning…
I’ll have to return my ordinary special gift back..
It was worth every magical second…

If only we could stop running… Just for a little bit…
If only we could stop and appreciate those rare normal moments that make our lives extraordinary…
If we could stop chasing the unknown for just a little bit and take the time to absorb the beauty we hardly notice anymore…
A sparkle in loving eyes… And a silence of true understanding…
Masterpieces made from cereal boxes and play dough… And life-changing art drawn by little messy hands…
If only we could allow those rare cherished moments to invade our busy empty lives for just a little while…

Perhaps that’s when our dreams will twinkle brightly in the night…
And we will finally realize that happiness is lined with appreciating the simple things in life… that are ever so great…

Thank you Allah for letting me see what ordinary means…
It’s truly and magnificently….
Extraordinary…

Lilly S. Mohsen

The Productive Sleepers. (Seriously?)

Published By ProductiveMuslim.com (4th Feb. 2015)
Below is the original uncut version.

THE PRODUCTIVE SLEEPERS!
(SERIOUSLY?)

Surat Al Kahf Series- Part One

Yeah right! A story about SLEEPING for hundreds of years teaches Muslims all about PRODUCTIVITY! Are you okay, Lilly?

Let’s recap the events together, shall we? A number of young men are guided to believe in the One and Only Lord and because they lived in a city of disbelievers they decide to escape to the cave, fearing execution after calling people to monotheism. Allah Almighty makes the boys fall asleep for 309 years (300 solar and 9 lunar years), and then they wake up to a new society filled with faith. It’s a miracle and it’s amazing but hey, as far as the story goes THAT IS IT! We learn so many lessons from it but ‘productivity’ isn’t one of them, since ummm HELLO, the boys were SLEEPING! So don’t you dare make things up! Repent to Allah sister, I’m sure He will forgive you for trying to distort such SIMPLE facts!

Isn’t that what most readers would think?

Now, before we start, allow me to take a moment to make a Du’aa. I know you’re all busy people but trust me its EXREMELY urgent! “My Dearest Most Merciful Lord… I already told everyone the sleepers of Surat Al Kahf were productive, including sister Zaynab Chinoy! She’s the chief editor You know! So as You can see, this is a very embarrassing situation! I’m begging You Allah please help me and bestow upon me some brilliance to prove my point…”

Okay here it goes….

Lesson One: Productivity Is Using Your Time Wisely

Roughly explained, productivity is the ability to efficiently yield positive and useful results in an allotted amount of time. We tend to relate this aptitude to grownups. We don’t really expect the younger generation to naturally be productive, unless we actually pin them down to the floor and make them do something useful with their time. We have this connotation in our heads that teenagers are up to no good. That’s the age where they go wild and get together to ‘live it up’ before real responsibilities kick in, and even though us parents try to restrain them, somehow deep inside we think it’s okay to cut them some slack. I mean, they’re TEENAGERS, their hormones are literally holding their brains hostages! The sleepers of the cave were also teenagers, and Allah specified that explicitly in the Holy Qur’an. They lived in a city with no rules and there’s no mention of any strict parents with unwavering curfews, is there? Imagine what boys their age would get together to do? They didn’t live in a fairytale; they lived in a real corrupt environment with half naked girls, partying, booze and the whole shebang! But instead they chose to get together in the remembrance of Allah. They used their time wisely, learning their religion and planning on how to spread the true word of Allah. If that isn’t productivity, I don’t know what is!

Lesson Two: Have a Solid Objective:

The boys were an integral part of the community up until their lives were in danger. They never fled the scene just because they were different. They invested in themselves and had a clear-cut mission of reviving their immoral society. It makes me wonder about the stories we hear today; girls taking off their hijab because they couldn’t ‘fit in’, and boys drinking alcohol and smoking up because otherwise they won’t be ‘cool’! The wannabes of today have no mission and no goals and that’s not Islam. We are a unique ummah because we have an obligation to benefit ourselves and others, and we have an ‘end’ in mind, which is the jannah inshAllah. Yes we want to be successful and wealthy and popular, but we don’t stop there like others do. Stand up and remember who you are! A true Muslim is a leader, someone who can make a change in this world and isn’t selfish or scared or embarrassed of his or her identity. There’s no time for free time people! If these teenagers could do it, so can we! Get up, start working, learning and teaching and always keep your eyes on the ultimate goal… Pleasing Allah.

Lesson Three: Dead Ends Don’t Exist!

We tried, it didn’t work, no one is listening so that’s it! Who is up for a steamy game of PlayStation?

Unless your life is on the line, it’s NOT over! The boys tried delivering their message until they ran out of options, but did they stop there? Did they eventually conclude: “Hey, let’s go to the cave and nap for 309 years!”. No, they chose the discomfort of living in a scary secluded cave, and as far as they were concerned, it was a temporary pause before coming up with a new plan. When they woke up, thinking they slept for a day or so, they said… “Indeed, if they come to know of you, they will stone you or return you to their religion. And never would you succeed, then – ever.” (Surat Al Kahf, verse 20, Holy Qur’an) You bet they were still on their mission to ‘succeed’! The threat of death didn’t deter them. These young men were smart! They decided to proceed with caution, so as not to blow their covers. Having faith in Allah and a goal towards pleasing Him are the first steps, but an essential part of being productive is to calculate the risks and never quit. Lesson Four: You Need Your Vision To Hit The Target! So were the boys wearing shoes or sandals? What was their dog’s name? How many were they exactly? What difference does it make?! How will these questions help you reach your goal more efficiently? Focus on what’s importance and don’t distract yourself with minute details that Allah Himself did not bother mentioning! Instead He dedicated a whole verse to people’s speculations about the real number of the sleepers, whether they’re 3 or 5 or 7 and guess what? He never gives an answer because it doesn’t matter. That’s not the point of the story! You want to be productive? Stop ‘guessing the unknown’, for it will be like trying to hit a target when you can’t even see it. Distractions will only blind you from acing your test. Allah honored the sleepers by mentioning in the Qur’an and for us to be reminded every Friday of how they guarded their faith. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said this chapter protects us from the ultimate trial of the Dajjal (the Anti-Christ) who will come with four challenges; one of them is testing our faith….

Hey, wait a second, what about the other three?

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Oops! Rain check?

Lilly S. Mohsen