Day 23: 30 Good Deeds In Ramadan

 

DAY TWENTY-THREE: The Best Parents Are Promoted To Grandparents.

For some of us, grandparents are like the fun version of parents, without the whole ‘if you live under my roof you gotta follow my rules’ kind of thing.
They’re the ones who spoil and pamper you.
And they totally believed you when you pretended to be sick just to skip school.
They’re the ones who, if they hear you haven’t had lunch yet, will bring out food enough to feed a whole village.
Three times a day.
For five years.
And there will still be leftovers looool

 

Food

 

Besides, kids know grandparents are awesome, mainly because their own parents can’t go over their word, so they’ll abuse the system without an ounce of guilt. I remember one time I was very stern about depriving my daughter of her favorite things during her time out. By mid day she was like “Okay THAT’S IT! I’m calling Granma!”

I don’t know what your relationship with your grandparents is like.
If they’re still alive or have passed away.
If you’re estranged or living in the same building.
If you talk every day or once a year
I only know one thing…
Those who have managed to stay close to their grandparents, have found the key to better health, wealth and joy…
Listen to this

Anas reported the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) as saying :
“Anyone who is pleased that his sustenance is expanded and his age extended should do kindness to his near relatives.” (Sahih)
Today’s act of kindness is towards those who have raised the people who’ve raised you.
The wise gems whose memory you’ll never forget…
Your grandparents…

 

Beginners Level:

Don’t be a tagalong.
Take the initiative to call your grandparents just to ask about them and show them you care.
What’s wrong?

You have nothing to say?
They’ll keep you on the phone for hours?

They’re awkward? Short Tempered? Tell the same story over and over again?
They tease you in front of the whole family about the time when you were still a toddler and ran outside with no diapers?

Whatever it is, they deserve your love and care. They deserve the courtesy of being highly regarded and appreciated.

Hey, hey… don’t make a face!
I’m serious.
This isn’t textbook talk or playback lecturing

Listen to this:

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “He is not of us who does not have mercy on young children, nor honor the elderly” (Al- Tirmidhi)

And you’re one of us….
We’re on the same team. So go call your grandparents
NOW!
(Sorry that came out louder than I intended looool)

Advanced Level:

You know the drill
We go a step higher, which means instead of calling you should go visit.
Alone!
Let them know you mean it and give them some quality time
Because amidst the repetitive stories, there’s a lot of wisdom and treasures of life long experiences. There’s laughter and jokes and nostalgic beautiful memories…
Amidst the awkwardness, there’s lots of duas from the heart and warm hugs…
And amidst the age gaps, there are showers of blessings pouring down on you because of your pure intention to please Allah…

And don’t forget the food.
Ahhhhhh the food looool

 

Ramadan Kareem
Are you guys as tired as I am?
I need the ‘hang in there’ motivational speech loool
Anyways, see you tomorrow inshAllah (I hope!)

 

Lilly S. Mohsen
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 22: 30 Good Deeds In Ramadan

DAY TWENTY-TWO: It’s What You Love The Most

 

Here’s a random conversation with one of them ‘cool’ teenagers
“So what’s your plan for being successful?”
“Become famous”
“Famous for doing what?”
“I dunno”  Icon Face

 

To be fair, probably most of us have shared this ‘becoming-a-success-story’ dream at some point in our lives. We probably hunted down any ‘easy’ tips or ‘fast-track’ tools that could get us a step closer to realizing our goal. I remember I was only 10 when I asked my mom,

“So what’s the BEST thing I can do to be the BEST?”
“Spend from what you love the most”
“Huh?”

 

I SO didn’t see that one coming. I thought she’d use this opportunity to guilt me into keeping my stuff organized or to make me quit teasing my siblings. But no, she quoted this verse:

Never will you attain the good [reward] until you spend [in the way of Allah] from that which you love. And whatever you spend – indeed, Allah is Knowing of it.” (Holy Qur’an, 3:92)

Of course at that time, ‘that which I loved’ was chocolate.
(Still is, but you know). And I remember kicking myself, like WHY? Why did I have to ask? looool

Your turn.
What is it that you love the most?
It should be something other than money, because hello, money is a given in most scenarios, since it’s what we use to buy the things we love.

Is it food? (Probably an automatic answer by those of us still fasting loool)
Flowers? Cars? Perfume? Books? Puppies?
That expensive watch or laptop or Play Station ‘number OMG-newly-released-yet-exactly-the-same-as-the-one-before-it?’
That family-heirloom Meringue Pie recipe you keep in a fireproof vault?
That beautiful pearl necklace that goes with everything you wear?

See? It’s not so easy.
And that’s why it’s the biggest test of faith, because putting Allah first is the surest path to goodness and success in both this world and the Hereafter

When Abu Talha (one of the Ansari companions) heard the above verse, he gave up his ‘Bairuha’ Garden to charity, which everyone knew and he also admitted was the most beloved garden to his heart. (Bukhari)

When Prophet Solomon sensed his beloved horses were distracting him from worship, he got rid of them all. And they were a vision! They were gorgeous, purebred, Arabian horses if you’d like to know.

Prophet Abraham was willing to give up what he loves the most for the sake of Allah… When asked, he was willing to sacrifice his only beloved child Ismail…

 

If you had to…
And if the One who holds your life in His hands wills it, would you give up your desires, dreams, wealth, pleasures or loved ones…?

Would you sacrifice your Ismail…?

 

Your Merciful Lord did not ask you to do all of that. He doesn’t want to break your heart, He just wants to make you stronger.
He wants to empower you instead of letting you get desperately attached to material things.
And He never asked you to give up everything you love. Just a small portion of it.
Would you do that for His sake?
Beginners Level:

Ho-ho don’t start down playing or suddenly rearranging the list of ‘your most beloved things’ now. There’s something you own and cherish so much you’d rather not give it up, and that’s exactly what you need to share and spend from. No cheating loool
It could even be your time!
Advanced Level:

Use the ‘Ripple Effect’ theory, because 28 years later, I’m pretty sure, since it was my mom who taught me it, she’s getting double the rewards for every time I spend from what I love (You’re welcome mommy, any time! Just please don’t pretend like you don’t know me when you reach the highest levels of Paradise loool. InshAllah)
Guys, be smart! Teach this to as many people as possible. Instill it in your kids. When you get them Eid presents, get an extra one (just as good), and then ask them to pick one to give away for charity.
The sound of their brains going 100 miles an hour and their obvious predicament will break your heart.
But it will also make you super proud.
Muslims don’t just give away their left overs or ugly, unkempt belongings and call it a day!

We are people who love for our brothers and sisters what we love for ourselves.
Even if it feels like you’re giving a piece of your heart away when you share your last KitKat.
(Or anything you love for that matter)
It’ll open your heart…
It’ll teach you what ‘true love’ really means…
And it will be the BEST thing that ever happened to you…
Simply the best…

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

Day 21: 30 Good Deeds In Ramadan

 

DAY TWENTY-ONE: Forgive Yourself

Ladies and gentlemen…

We have reached the most important part of the month
The stage we’ve all been preparing for…
The master scene of the whole year…
The last ten nights of Ramadan, where the Prophet himself (may peace and blessings be upon him) would stay up all night and wake up his whole household to strive hard in worship (Bukhari and Muslim)

 

Now I’ll relate a little scenario and you guys tell me if it sounds familiar, okay?

Last ten days. I can’t afford to miss on them I really CAN’T!
If I read three chapters a day, I’ll finish the whole Qur’an in these ten days! Not a biggie, ha?”

Two days later…

“Oops I’ve wasted so much time I’m still on chapter four!” Eyes dart left and right “You know what, it’s really the odd nights that count. Yup, I’ll pray hard and worship Allah every second of every minute on those odd nights!
Two days later…

Fine, I’ve wasted more precious time but really, who are we kidding, we both know Laylat Al Qadr is probably on the night of the 27th, right? I’m acing it, watch and see…”

And then the most amazing thing happens…
You sit in worship for the whole night till sunrise.
You finish reading the whole Qur’an, all 604 pages in two hours, and pray 77 Raka’s then go to sleep and get a vivid sign in your dreams, that yes it was Laylat Al Qadr and yes you’ve definitely gotten the reward of 1000 months of worship…. And yes….
You’ve been reborn.
(Probably not what happens at all but I just wanted you guys to have this amazing feeling for a couple of seconds loool)

Because it is an amazing feeling…

For 355 days we’re out and about, unfocused and perhaps living our lives mindlessly.
And then come those ten nights, we find the will and power within us to invest in our eternal lives.

To focus on the unseen part of reality.
To realize these ten nights are precious gifts.
Our prayers won’t make Allah more Magnificent or more Dominant.
It’s us who need them the most. It’s US who need to gather as much good as possible before we check out and pay for our bad deeds. (Oh I just remembered something about bad deeds, but I don’t wanna lose my train of thoughts. Can you please remind me to write about it later? Thanks lool)
Maybe we don’t know it now, but we trust our beloved when he insisted over and over and explained how priceless these last ten nights are.

So do your best.
Do the best you can…

And if you find yourself running away from Allah, instead of running to Him with your fears, hopes and pains, then maybe there’s a reason..
Probably the same reason why many of us don’t make the best out of the best of nights..

Some of us don’t know how to face the Qiblah and stand before Allah, when we can’t even face ourselves with all our faults.

Some of us can’t get closer to Allah, because deep inside, there’s a barrier between our souls and our minds…

Some of us refuse to reap the rewards of those precious nights because we’re so disappointed at our own failures; we feel we deserve nothing in return…

Some of us have an inner anger, like this rage towards the world, and it’s blinding us from reaching out to Allah…

And some of just are just drained and lost…
We don’t know how to move on with the future, when deep down we know we could have done better in the past..
We drag our mistakes with us every where we go; and have no earthly idea of how to put the burden of guilt down on the ground

Some of us can’t make Du’aa..
Can’t focus in prayer and can’t absorb the words of the Holy Qur’an.
And it’s not because we’re shallow
It’s because we’re too immersed in the guilt and pain of the past

There’s no levels here, for you’ll always be a beginner when you’re trying to heal…
It’s time to make peace with your broken pieces…

Promise me…
When you stand before your Lord asking for His forgiveness..
Know for sure that He has already forgiven you there and then
Your past doesn’t define you. It really doesn’t…
Promise you’ll start the special ten nights with renewed hope
It’s the first step to get closer to Almighty Allah
Start a new page with your Lord
And do what He has already done
Forgive….
‘You’….

 

Tonight… all you need to do
Is forgive yourself…
 

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

 

Day 20: 30 Good Deeds In Ramadan

DAY TWENTY: The Power Of Advice

“Let her eat something sweet”
“No something salty”
“Let her lie down”
“No let her sit up”
“Give her some space to breathe”
“No let her go home!”

In case your wondering, those are all the contradicting pieces of advice women yell out at the mosque whenever one of us poor girls gets dizzy and drops to the ground in the middle of ‘Taraweeh’ prayers.
I gotta tell you, we’re one opinionated bunch loool.
Women seem to know everything there is to know about everything one can ever know anything about!

They’re great dentists:
“Your teeth hurt? Chew some cloves!”

Great Orthopedic Surgeons:
“You broke your toe? Tie a potato around it!”

Great problem solvers:
“You missed the deadline? Have some chocolate cake!”

Women will give and apply unsolicited advice, any chance they get. While men, the extreme opposite of course, will strictly reject any sort of advice unless they openly, lucidly and clearly ask for it, after signing a consent form allowing you to express a different opinion and getting it certified at one of the legal institutes loool.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the things that matter, like the ‘real’ important issues, some people are too reluctant to help, only to face horrible consequences like failure or blame.
While others are obviously not ‘God-conscious’ or honest enough with the advice they give, because they don’t really wish others the best.
I’ve had clients tell me their friends are all advocating divorce.
“Why what’s the problem?”
“My husband forgot my birthday two years in a row!”

Seriously?!

Sincere advice is so critical because you know what? People take it.
Some people will actually consider your words and in many cases apply them, because they believe and trust you.
They’ll think it’s okay to let the kids go on social media unsupervised.
It’s okay to get divorced because your husband snores!
It’s okay to get married without parents’ approval
They’ll think they do look better with short hair! (My obsession with long hair aside, any insinuation that cutting hair is better is probably not genuine, trust me!)

Giving advice is an ‘amanah’ (Translator please! I can’t seem to find mine)
It’s an obligation, an entrustment and an absolute privilege.
Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said, “The Deen (religion) is Naseehah (advice, sincerity).”
The companions asked, “To whom?”
He (ﷺ) said, “To Allah, His Book, His Messenger, and to the leaders of the Muslims and their common folk.” (Muslim)

Remember when Prophet Muhammad summed up Hajj saying it’s “Arafah’?
Now he’s summing up Islam in two words (actually one Arabic word: Naseehah) or ‘Sincere Advice’.

So where am I going with this?
Let’s find out

Beginners Level:

No one expects you to go around bombarding people with advice they never asked for.
But please don’t let shyness, fear of consequences, jealousy or a need to be ‘cool’, deter you from standing up for the truth or helping people in need of guidance.
If someone is spreading false information, correct him or her with kindness.
If your kids start crumbling under social pressure, be there to lift them up.

If you’re put on the spot, speak proudly of Islam, and don’t bend your principles for anyone, whoever it might be.
And when asked for advice, for God’s sake, give it (but you know… nicely)
Advanced Level:
It’s hard to listen to those who don’t practice what they preach

It’s time we started investing in our own reputations
Our honesty…
Our truthfulness and integrity…
Oh how I wish all these beautiful morals could make a comeback!
Religion is sincere advice because it encompasses genuineness, authenticity, and loving for others what we love for ourselves.
So don’t be stingy looool. Share your beautiful knowledge about Islam with others, even if it’s one verse or hadith.
And do it eloquently, in a soft, smart and lenient manner to attract people to the truth instead of turn them off.

Maybe, just maybe…
You’ll end up in the highest levels of Paradise (and take me with you inshAllah coz otherwise that’s just mean loool)

And it might not be because you spent hours praying or days fasting or went to Hajj 26 times
But because you gave one person some really good advice
Because you shared and made a difference…

 

Ramadan Kareem guys
See you tomorrow inshAllah

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

 

Day 19: 30 Good Deeds In Ramadan

DAY NINETEEN: Quality Over Quantity

 

No, this won’t be another minimalist post about how ‘less is more’ and stuff. Because there ARE times when ‘more is more’:
-The more the merrier.
-The more positive you are, the happier you’ll be.
-The more Konafa, the better

Those facts constitute the classic lessons in life. They’ll always remain unchangeable, like the day and night.
This writing is more about the ‘changeable’ aspects. The ups and downs we go through, as in the seasons.
Sometimes we’re all bloomed and recharged like the flowers of spring, and others we’re as dry and lifeless as the harshest, colorless fall.
And surprisingly enough, this emotional roller coaster also happens at the most inconvenient times, when we desperately need to be be balanced the most.

Many people have been whimpering about failing and flailing this Ramadan, in terms of worship. I’m not gonna pretend I don’t know what that is. Oh I do! I SO DO!

The curve of enthusiasm and vigorously challenging energy takes off at full speed during the first nights of Ramadan and then starts drooping down around, wait what day is it today? Yup! Right about now, when instead of fueling up for the last ten days, we’re on the floor, flat down on our faces, drained and tired (and probably holding a half eaten cheese samosa)

Yet it’s also right about this time of the blessed month
We forget…

It’s not really the hunger, the hours staying in prayer, or which chapter you’ve reached in the Holy Qur’an.

I heard there’s a village in Yemen where the whole time from Dawn to Dusk is 4 hours!
FOUR hours!
That’s how long it takes to digest a decent meal anyway. And yet they’ll celebrate Eid with us as if nothing happened. They’ll get rewarded for fasting the whole month, even when they weren’t even hungry OR tired or even aware it’s already time for Iftar. (I’m not jealous, I’m just saying…)

There are people who stand for 20 Rak’as in Taraweeh prayer, but their minds are somewhere else.
Others are already on round 14 of finishing reading the whole Qur’an, but perhaps many haven’t taken the time to absorb and contemplate its beautiful meanings.

It’s not the numbers in your brain that count…
It’s the feeling in your heart…
Allah doesn’t need us to give up our food and sleep just so we can say “Sheesh we’re done!”
He wants this month to change something inside us to the better. To touch an inner vulnerability and raise us up to a higher level.

It’s not the obligation, it’s the submission…
It’s not the quantity that matters to Him
It’s the quality… the genuine feeling of the heart
So if you’re starting to dread waking up in the morning, or starting to literally drag your feet to Taraweeh prayers every night, know that you’re not alone. The peak of tiredness might even bring with it feelings of guilt, self-resentment and a tinge of depression. Right?
If your reply was ‘no, not at all’, and you have no idea what I’m talking about, then consider yourself VERY lucky. No I mean VERY VERY lucky and fortunate and blessed! (Again, I’m not jealous, I’m just saying…)

But if you know what I mean, and have been feeling worn out those past couple of days then this act of kindness is just what you need, because it’s a kindness towards yourself…

All Levels:

Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) put it beautifully. He said, “Two moderate cycles of prayer in contemplation are better than praying the night with a bad heart.”(Source: al-Zuhd wal-Raqā’iq 288)

Easy on yourself.
Come to your Lord undone, tired, weak or even broken
Come to Him with genuine humility and true devotion
Be ‘real’ with Him. There’s no need to pretend and there’s no reason to quit if you think you’re not good enough this month.
Feel your feelings and come to your Lord with a pure heart
It takes one heartfelt duaa…
One genuine tear…
One moment of loving worship…
Because at the end of the day, it’s the sincerity that counts
It’s what matters the most…

Ramadan Kareem everyone
See you tomorrow inshAllah
Lilly S. Mohsen
 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 18: 30 Good Deeds In Ramadan

 

DAY EIGHTEEN: Count Your Compliments

 

Raise your hand if you know this hadith

“A good word is charity” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Okay that was easy.
How about mmmmm let’s see…
Yes this one:

“Guard yourselves against the Fire (of Hell) even if it be only with half a date-fruit (given in charity); and if you cannot afford even that, you should at least say a good word.” (Al Bukhari and Muslim)

Seriously? Even this one?

“Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him say something good, or else remain silent.” (Sunan Ibn Majah 3971)

Since you guys already know all these hadiths then I have a bone to pick with you! (and with myself as well since I raised my hand in all three lool)
Why don’t we do it more often? Why do we make it sound like giving compliments is reserved for sweet talkers or ‘users’? Why is it so hard to do for some of us when, according to the above hadiths (the ones you all confirmed you knew very well) saying good words and giving compliments are:

1- considered charity, which is basically a profitable investment in your Hereafter.
2- an extremely important tool in Islam it’s even equated with ‘guarding ourselves from the Hellfire’
3- not even an option, since we obviously believe in Allah and the Last Day. We are obligated to either say good words or to HUSH

Compliments


Why giving compliments is such a big deal in Islam:

According to one study done at the National Institute for Physiological Sciences in Japan, receiving compliments activates the area called ‘striatum; which in the brain, triggers as much social reward as being rewarded with money.
There’s actual scientific proof showing praise as being a catalyst for better ‘skill consolidation’.
And it makes sense.
Good words have the power to spread positive energy. An appreciated person will almost always do their best to maintain that amazing feeling. Compliments can change the nature of relationships, fix marriages, boost children’s self esteem, raise productivity levels at work, and can benefit the whole society with its ripple effect.
That is when they’re given properly and sincerely of course.
Otherwise they backfire and are a complete and total fail!

You see, for my act of kindness I complemented a stranger at the mosque.
“I really like your abaya” I smiled.
She looked me up and down, frowned, then looked the other way.
What did I doooooo?
Suddenly I was the one needing soothing loool.

But I didn’t give up. I tried again.
And since I wasn’t doing well with strangers, I decided to compliment my own people. Starting with my nephew.
“Ali, you look sharp this morning
“I just woke up. I didn’t even shower yet! What’s going on?”

There’s a difference between compliments and lies! The kind words you say must be from the heart, otherwise they’ll never reach the heart. Instead, you’ll be known as a ‘hypocrite’, a ‘fake’ or I don’t know, ‘Pinocchio’ loool.
Compliments are meant to train us to look for the good and the beauty in people.
To focus on their strengths and not their weaknesses.
Compliments are like giving gifts to others without expecting a reward.
And guys, listen up, Allah knows your intentions and He knows what goes on inside the head of your head! Compliments are NOT to be used as pick up lines or a means to flirt. None of that ‘Oh so did it hurt when you feel from heaven?’ kind of thing, you hear me?
Coz chances are, no it didn’t hurt!
Her dad caught her.
And he’s really strong
and SCARY!
Loool

Okay, time for today’s act of kindness.

Beginners Level:

Spend the day complimenting others. And even if they’re not amused, please don’t be discouraged. Some people aren’t used to hearing kind words. Others are just shy (I remember years of mumbling irrelevant words whenever someone complimented me!)
Even if you don’t mean it, keep practicing. Compliment people on their smiles, their skills, their outfits, their left nostrils!
Anything at all. Practice makes perfect. Don’t worry, it will eventually evolve from the heart…

Advanced Level:

Monitor and evaluate yourself.
We all think we give loads of compliments, but do we really?
Be aware of your conversations and try to squeeze in the good words any chance you get. Compliment the poor and the less fortunate.
Because sometimes one word can change someone’s whole world…

And while we’re here, let me ask you for a little favor…

Can I please have your recipe for being so fabulous? : )
Ramadan Kareem
See you guys tomorrow inshAllah

All my love,

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

Day 17: 30 Good Deeds In Ramadan

 

DAY SEVENTEEN: Grow Through What Others Go Through

You never know when it might happen….
Where you would be or how you’d react…

It was almost 4am.
I had just finished praying Fajr (after swallowing two very much needed sleeping pills), checked on kids and finally closed my eyes, to takeoff to dream world.
It wasn’t long before the high-pitched ringing sound of my phone zonked me right back to reality.
My heart pounded louder than cranes drilling through brick walls. I picked up the phone shivering. It was my sister.
“HELP! My house is on FIRE!”

Think about it about for a minute, will you…?

Because we are all a car accident, a kitchen fire, a blood test, or even a phone call away from becoming completely different people..
The homeless, the bedridden terminal patients, the girls who were brutally raped, the innocent prisoners and the burn victims..
They all could have easily been you and me.
They didn’t ask for it. They didn’t see it coming. They couldn’t have prevented it. And they never thought they’d suffer for years, all for one unpredictable incident.

Because you never know when it might happen….
Where you would be or how you’d react…
You never know what the future is hiding for us, and no matter how hard we try, we can’t prevent the unknown.
Only Allah can….

Beginners Level:

Prayers and paying it forward. Those are the two paths to peace.
When you’re down on your knees begging Allah for the things you need.
Asking Him to take your pain away.
Asking Him to forgive your sins and fill your life with joy
Remember to thank Him and ask for the biggest blessing of all…
Prevention.

Make sure you stay on the right track. Make sure you pay it forward by helping those in need, any way you can, so Allah can help you when you need Him the most…

Advanced Level:

Perhaps you can’t prevent calamities or problems, but you can surely be part of the solution.
You can help put an end to even ONE person’s suffering, or give hope to someone who’s hanging on by a thread.
This is a personal request to try save burn victims, with the intention of being saved from the Hellfire (God forbid)

We don’t have to wait to be knocked down before we can stand up.
Let us grow through learning from what others go through.
And instead of being scared of suffering, let’s take part in the miracle of healing.

Here’s how…

AhlMasr Burn Victims
Donate to one of the following Burn Victim Rescue Channels
Burn Rescue Online: http://www.burnrescue.org/
Children’s Burn Foundation: http://childburn.org/
Egypt’s Burn Unit http://www.ahl-masr.org/donate-online

I know this post is a bit intense and so out of the blues
You’re gonna have to forgive me for that because there’s a Eid surprise for those who do loool
But maybe reading this today is a blessing in disguise
Because we all have fears, and this is your chance to ask Allah, the Most Merciful, during these blessed nights, to please not test you with trials involving your worst fear.
It’s a chance to beg Allah to prevent the ‘worst’, and that alone is probably one of the ‘best’ blessings…
May Allah protect us and all our loved ones
Amen
 

Lilly S. Mohsen