Tag Archives: amazing

Day Ten: 30 Good Deeds in Ramadan

DAY TEN: Happiness is Homemade

Nutella Konafa Cone By CleoButtera

Nutella Konafa Cones By CleoButtera

 

What?
No, for real, this is homemade.
Would I lie to you? In Ramadan? About chocolate? NEVER!

Turns out some uniquely talented people like ‘CleoButtera’ can actually whip this up in their own kitchens a couple of hours before Iftar*. Just like that! MashAllah!

Do you guys know what the ultimate definition of happiness is? (Other than Nutella of course loool). It’s having something to look forward to everyday. And when we’re fasting, the most thing we look forward to is some home-cooked goodness.
Slow roasted chicken with gravy, Butter pouched shrimps and creamy four-cheese spaghetti. Crunchy Konafa drizzled with heavenly sweet syrup….

If you think about it, this isn’t just food, it’s art…
Delicious, mouthwatering, scrumptious art!

Any yet sometimes (especially when we’re fasting and cross-eyed-drained) we forget to appreciate the artists (who are fasting too by the way). We forget there’s a lot of hard work involved backstage. The people who cook this food spend most of the Holy month in the kitchen! Either preparing the food, rummaging through cookbooks and blogs for new recipes, shopping for missing ingredients, planning menus, or worrying whether the food will be enough, especially when the kids decide to invite 20 of their friends 5 minutes before Iftar!

A couple of days ago I was watching an Arabic series about this group of people stuck on a deserted island. Oh my God, their struggle to find food alone is a nightmare. They had to climb 70 feet trees to get coconuts, then learn the lost martial art of ‘Taekwondo’ to break them open. Some had to figure out how to fashion sharp spears out of tree barks and use them for fishing, which took all day, besides the hours it took to clean the fish and start up the fire to grill it on. And yes, they only had fresh seawater to drink, wild and poisonous animals to keep them company and no bathrooms!!!

Makes you look at your life differently huh?

Thank God we don’t have to go through all of that to eat a single meal. But some of us still must worry about, saving money, getting Halal meat, defrosting, marinating, frying and making good use of leftovers. It’s not a nightmare but it’s not easy either. I promise you it’s not!

As much as those food artists love feeding their families, and as much as they enjoy cooking, it’s still a huge responsibility and a load of effort, especially when you’re standing over a boiling pot of stew on a hot summer day, with cranky kids tugging at your apron and asking ‘how long till Iftar’ every 34 seconds.
(I’m not exaggerating; I’m actually toning it down loool)

Day Ten is here to celebrate our ‘Kitchen Heroes’. To let them know how much we appreciate every minute they spend making our food with love. And to humbly confirm that yes, chances are we would starve to death without them or go bankrupt ordering take out!

Beginners Level:

Never underestimate the power of compliments. Say something sweet to the person cooking your food and make yummy noises while you eat. A little gift would go a long way too. (Just do it. You’ll thank me for it later. You know, on the Day of Judgment when you realize how heavy it is on your good deeds scale). Feeling appreciated and acknowledged is probably the best feeling in the world. It’s really all what anyone needs.

Advanced Level:

Roll up your sleeves and get in there.
Help out for one day! One meal! One dish even!
Do you know how hard it is to peel and cut onions? It’s the kind of task that would reduce a grown man to tears looool.
Just ask the person who cooks your meals ‘How can I help?’.
This simple act of thoughtfulness in a world where everyone is so selfish and self-absorbed is a rare gift in itself. Even the people who supposedly ‘care’ the most, will ask how you’re doing then run before you could even answer loool.

It’s sad but true..

Ramadan is the Holy month of kindness, generosity and consideration….
So be there for your loved ones, and appreciate their efforts and their existence in your life while you still can….

Special Level:

Oh so you’re the ‘Kitchen Hero’?
Honored to meet you!
Well, I don’t really have a task for you today, just tons of appreciation and gratitude.
How about you sit this one out? You’re rewarded for every little crumb you feed a fasting Muslim anyway, so that should do it. Don’t be greedy loool. Let others pamper you for a change…

Ramadan Kareem guys.
All my best,

Lilly S. Mohsen

* Check out Cleobuttera.com for some amazing mouthwatering recipes. Mind blogging to say the least. Enjoy!

 

 

 

You’ll Be Surprised Today

Throwback hajj 2015

Day Seven Diary:

 

“Allahu Akbaro Kabeera…

Wal Hamdulellah Katheera…

Wa Sobhan Allah bokratan wa aseela…”

The Eid chant has such a sensational vibe. We said it all the way to Mena where we are supposed to stay for three days. We heard about the hundreds of people who died in the Hajj stampede earlier, may God bless their souls, and I think deep down we are all worried about the coming three days of stoning satan.

May Allah make it easier for us all…

I miss Madina! Outside the Holy Ka’bah, life is a bit harsh. People here are more strict I guess. I was wearing a white abaya yesterday with a soft golden trim, and the mosque guard scolded me! He said women should only wear plain black abayas! What the…?

But Alhamduallah the tawaf was easier than we thought, and I made Duas for all of you at the Hijr of Ismail, 10 inches away from Ka’bah!

Zzzzzzzzzzz

Huh? What?

OMG I think I dozed off for a second! I’m so sorry! Please don’t fire me from the representative job!

Anyways, we still have three days to go and I’m honestly super exhausted. We all are! But we are taking care of each other. Women offer each other water, medicine, fever patches & and soothing hugs. It’s like we are all one family.  Aya, my sister in law said something that made so much sense:

“Look at the pillars of Islam, the intensity of physical effort increases with each pillar. Like the shahada is the least and the Hajj is the most physically tiring. But it works the other way with spirituality. It takes a huge amount of faith to say the shahada from the heart, then it gets easier and easier up until the Hajj. Every single Muslim here is  eager to perform the Hajj by the book and do everything right. The joy of faith and spirituality probably comes as a package with the journey. It’s the Great Lord’s gift to His guests…”

 

It’s that joy that makes the effort and jihad of Hajj worth every second! Yeah, I liked that reflection a lot!

Okay everyone, let’s give Aya a big round of applause!

Now it’s your guys’ turn to represent us in Eid! Go enjoy our beautiful Islamic holiday. Go have fun and do something amazing today. That’s the whole point of Eid… It’s to pause the worry, anxiety and any sadness you might feel, and go out in the sun with your families… Laugh and joke and play games. Be a cheerful you this Eid…

 

You never know what might happen tomorrow. The roads are closed here coz they’re still hauling out the martyrs’ bodies….

Their loved ones will never see them again. They’re not going back home with us, and some of their families and friends will never know how much time they’ve spent raising their hands and making Duas for them here…

So go kiss your parents’ hands. Buy your spouse some flowers and chocolates and let your kids paint your face! Go out and make someone else happy… Bring some smiles and joy to the world around you. Tell your loved ones how much you love them. Call up your estranged cousins and let go of anything that’s upsetting you. Open your heart and wrap your loved ones with your arms… You’ll be surprised at the huge number of people who pray to see you happy… And the number of loved ones who truly need your warm embrace…

 

Have a wonderful blessed Eid….

I’ll miss you all so much…

All my love…

Lilly S. Mohsen 

 

Are You The One?

Throwback Hajj 2015
Published on On Islam

door kabah.jpg

Hajj Diary: Day Five

Turns out they weren’t kidding when they said we wouldn’t have time to breathe. After eight long hours in the bus, we finally arrived in Mecca in a state of Ihram. We chanted “Labayk Allahuma Labayk” the whole way! And it was SO nice!

We also stopped at a very primitive, hygiene-deficient, dungeon of a rest house to pray and use the bathrooms! But can we please not talk about this part? Call me spoiled but I think I’m scarred for life!

I’ll save you the gory details. Just know you guys are lucky to be heart-Hajjis when it comes to this part of the journey!

No I mean it, we are not gonna talk about it! End of story. (Hey! You! No debating in Hajj!)

Anyways, once we arrived at the hotel, someone pushed the fast-forward button on our journey, and the new catch phrase became: “Come on let’s go let’s go LET’S GO!”

We headed off to the haram to start the rites of Hajj and to be perfectly honest, walking into the Holy place and seeing the cranes, construction workers and annoying partitions, I suddenly felt a bit disappointed. I kept my head down as my brother miraculously infiltrated us through the huge crowd, and then when we finally reached the tawaf area, I felt like a soft invisible hand slowly lift my chin up… And my eyes were glued open…

I saw it…

The Ka’bah…

And the glorious magnificent sight of it pierced right through my heart with a million rays of shimmering light…

No matter how many times you’ve visited Mecca. Seeing the Ka’bah each time is exactly like seeing it the first time!

How can I explain this?

If Madina is peace and serenity, Mecca is…

Intense… Powerful… Awe-inspiring! Especially in these blessed days….

Even the imam welled up during Isha prayer and choked on his tears while reciting Quran out loud from the intensity of the soul-captivating energies emitting from the beautiful House of God…

(Wait, I’m not sure if that was a secret. But we all heard him, so that’s not gossiping right?)

A little bit later, amidst the heat waves of summer nights in Mecca, it started to rain…

I think even the sky is overwhelmed by the yearning hearts coming from all around the world to please Allah… The Most Merciful…

Sometimes I wonder if non-Muslims watch the rituals of Hajj on TV and think we are a bunch of cucko-heads dressed in white towels and doing ring-a-roses around a black box!

Let them think what they want…

Because what we feel now is worth a lifetime of bliss. What we see and do and say is done with love beyond measures…

What we believe in is what keeps us grounded, hopeful and at peace…

At this exact moment… Some people are off partying wildly somewhere. They’re living it up and chasing meaningless, temporary pleasure. But the minute they’re alone with their hearts, they cry out screams of despair. They feel empty inside… Running after a mirage with no goal or end in mind.

But here…

Once you’re done each ritual, oh the feeling you get… It’s surreal… It’s like drinking cold water on a hot sizzling day or finding a loved one safe after an earthquake….

There’s no emptiness here… Only joy and peace…

Close your eyes and feel the vibes of blessings coming down from the sky. Push the fast forward button on your busy life and tell me… How would you like your story to end?

Or rather where would you like your eternal life to begin…?

Being here in this Holy place gives us a new perspective… That man in wrinkled and torn clothes praying next to you, and that old woman sleeping on the floor coz she has no place to stay… All these people lifting their hands up to the Great Lord… I paused and eavesdropped on their prayers, knowing they probably have a lot to ask. But they’re not asking for fancy cars or money to buy a new laptop or designer purses. Sit here and listen to the whispers and feel their hot desperate tears…

They’re all asking for one thing… For Allah to love them…

That’s it…

For Allah to accept them as His salves…

I swear I feel so small and insignificant here…

And the only thing that keeps me hopeful is that I have all your hearts here with me…

Perhaps one of you is so beloved to Allah that for his or her sake, He will generously accept us all…

Maybe because of a sincere intention or a loving teardrop or even a kind word, Allah chose you amongst His beloved slaves…

Millions of prayers could be answered tonight because of one beloved heart…

Your heart…

So look inside it and tell me…

Are you the one…?

 

Your Hajj Representative
Lilly S. Mohsen

 

See you tomorrow in Arafat ishAllah. Don’t miss out on fasting on this beautiful blessed day…

Don’t Tempt Us!

Throwback hajj 2015
Published exclusively on On Islam

Hajj Diaries: Day Four

“Here’s a not-so hypothetical question!” I looked at my brother Mohamed with one eyebrow up. “You know, hundreds of pilgrims die cramped in the humongous crowd of Mena during the stoning ritual. If your wife and I fall, who will you save?”

“I guess that’s why God gave me two strong arms! So I can lift you both up at the same time!” He replied.

“Well played Mohamed….”

Other than understanding why women need a mehrem, evidently for situations like this one, I have learnt so much about the wisdom and blessings behind Hajj and umrah this year, and one of them is that it brings people closer. Up to five or six people a room, you spend day and night together and so a special bond is created that nothing and no one can break. Ask anyone about their Hajj companions and they’ll smile from ear to ear for half an hour first before replying!

I’m staying with my brother and sister-in-law, and at the airport I was delighted to meet a few of my dear cousins, too. We left our kids, families and loved ones behind… And in this beautiful place, after Allah, we have no one but each other…

So this is basically how the day goes: We pray Maghreb at the mosque and read Quran till Isha prayer then go back to hotel for dinner. We usually return to the Holy mosque again for some peaceful remembrance of Allah (dhikr) and come home exhausted, shower and sleep for two to three hours. We open our eyes with the sound of a VERY insistent alarm clock, all sleepy and groggy we debate and negotiate for a good twenty minutes on who should get up first to make wudu and give the other two a chance to sleep five minutes longer. We then head off to pray Fajr and stay in harram till sunrise to pray duha and go back to hotel for breakfast. This is when we sleep for another three to four hours and then go to the Holy mosque to pray Dhur then Asr prayer.

People are more connected with their inner beings here. They really and truly want to do everything right. The women at the mosque are very friendly and kind hearted.  While most of my loved ones have figured out how much of a cry baby I am by now, strangers still haven’t. So random women come up to me while I’m making duaa, offer me a tissue and ask if I was okay. I think I cried on half of the female Hajji population’s shoulders this year! There’s a unity of Islam during these days… The kind of unity that can make us the most powerful and respected ummah in the universe….

Anyways, now that my crying secret is our. Let me prepare you for the scary part of the journey, the stoning of satan, where millions of pebbles (and sometimes flip flops!) fly right over your head. Even though it still happens on the 10th of Dhul Hajjah, I thought we should talk about it now, you know, just in case some one misses the pillars and stones me! If that happens, know that I’ll miss you all and that my will is in the second drawer of my nightstand. Please tell my kids that I love them and that it was me who ate all the chocolates that day when I pretended they had gone missing!

Okay back to the “stoning of the devil” ritual. Pilgrims throw seven pebbles on three different pillars representing Satan for three consecutive days. Most of us know the story behind it, right? When Allah ordered Prophet Abraham to sacrifice his son Prophet Ismail, and on their way to carry out the unbearable task, satan appeared three times in the same locations of today’s three pillars. Prophet Abraham stoned satan when he tried to convince him not to kill his own son! Until the third time, satan is knocked down like a silly idiot!

But did we ever think of the wisdom behind the story? I mean, we say it so casually!

Can I ask you something? Do you have a son or a daughter? One you’ve waited years for, and watched grow into an amazing, obedient loving boy or girl ? Do you have a beloved nephew or niece who bring so much joy to your heart? A dear child whose laughter is the only sound that keeps you going?

Would you be able to sharpen a knife and put it to your child’s throat? Would you be able to look in his or her eyes, knowing it would be the last time…

The last time to kiss them and hold them and breathe in their scent…?

And even more so, would you stone and curse the person who tries to stop you saying “Wait! How can you not have mercy on your own child? You must be hallucinating! God would never order you to end the life of an innocent pure boy!”

If God ordains it… Would you really kill your own flesh and blood, your mom or dad or offspring and then live with the grave memory forever?

I’ll give you a minute to think about it…. But I want you to be honest with yourself…

Coz this is what “Ram’y Al Jammarat” is all about… Sacrifice…

It’s about understanding the reason behind your existence … Submitting to the will of God no matter what it is… The mission is total submission… “Islam”

God won’t ask you to slaughter your own child to test your faith. But he might take something away from you. A loved one… Money… Health… A safe home…

We all have something missing or will face a great loss one way or another… And then the devil will come to counteract…

You might be poor, and satan will come in the form of unlawful wealth…

You might be single, and satan will come in the form of passion and love out of wedlock…

You might be lonely or insecure, and satan will come in the form of devious friends who live to drink and smoke up

You might be needing something and satan will intercede to offer it beautifully wrapped up. Unless you close the door in his face and swallow the key, temptation WILL overcome submission…

Prophet Abraham was willing to give up what he loves the most for the sake of Allah… He was willing to sacrifice his 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 Hajj Representative

Lilly S. Mohsen 

 

It’s Not The Places, It’s The Beloved

Throw Back Hajj Diaries 2015
Published on On Islam

Medina2

Hajj Diaries: Day Two:

“What’s happening?”
“They’ve opened the door! RUNNNNNNN”

You see, Prophet Muhammad’s original mosque with attached house is actually a relatively small area (about 20×15 meters) located inside today’s huge Holy mosque in Madina. Women get a chance to visit the sequestered area three times a day, for about two hours each time. You’ll find the Muslim women gathered by the partition, way before visitation hours, stretching and jogging in place, while the area is being cleared out of the men (as it should be! They get 18 hours a day!)

Anyways, when the door opens, women charge like a stampede. (I wish I was exaggerating but I’m not LOL) and so I grab Aya, my sister in law and run like the wind, unbothered by the pushing and shoving of some very sturdy women mashAllah. Nothing matters when you race with your heart to meet the beloved….

This is his house… Prophet Muhammad (peace by upon him) is buried here next to his two best friends, Abu Bakr Al Siddique and Omar Ibn Al Khattab. And on your right, is his mosque. You’re probably wondering why all the carpets are red except for this one, it’s green. Well it’s because it’s literally a meadow and a little piece of heaven

Narrated by Abu Hurrairah, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “The space between my house and my pulpit is a garden from the gardens of Paradise”

He also said that one rak’ah of prayer in his mosque is worth ten thousand rak’ahs. Okay, now that I think of it, this was well worth getting jammed and elbowed for!

After greeting the prophet and his friends and miraculously praying on the green carpet, something very unusual happens. An invisible magnetic force drowns out the noises and pulls you in. You stand by the Prophet’s chamber… Frozen… Speechless… Overwhelmed….That’s the moment you realize… Muhammad was here….and somehow time ceases to exist…

The beloved lived…here…. He sat right there with his grandchildren propped on his lap before Friday prayer. He walked here with Abu Bakr and Omar and Hamza… This is where Islam emerged from. He stood in the exact same spot you’re standing in now, smiling and welcoming people. He leaned on this palm tree and slept inside this room…

Muhammad… The Last Prophet… The final connection between the heavens and earth. He was here… Saying “Soothe our hearts with it” and listened to Bilal’s beautiful voice recite the call for prayer. Allah’s beloved messenger… The one who stayed up all night praying for his Ummah till his feet were swollen. The one man who carried the burden mountains refused to carry, and brought to the whole world their true and ultimate salvation…

Muhammad is here…

It suddenly dawned on me while I stood there motionless, with tears streaming down my face, why I love him so much even though I never met him. I realize his love is engraved deep within our hearts…. His love is innate… It’s already inside each and every one of us, we just didn’t know it… Until today…

Look around you… See the look on people’s faces… It says it all. They’re mesmerized by the thought of standing by his house, 1400 later! They’d give up everything just to visit his mosque once in their lifetime!  Listen to their words… They talk to him as if he’s right there. They tell him about their lives and troubles and how all their families back home send their greetings.

“We miss you Prophet of God”

These are the words you hear in this place every single day. Said by millions of every age, race and color… They miss him even though they’ve never met him… And that’s the truest, most genuine love of all…

Visiting the Prophet’s mosque is not an obligation of Hajj, and yet look, there’s hardly an empty spot to pray in. I finally understand why Shiekh Hamza Yusuf got so emotional in one of his lectures about Prophet Muhammad…

He explained how when you love someone so intensely, you find yourself loving everything they love. And when you miss them, you’ll close your eyes and touch the things they once touched, and kiss the stones and walls of the homes they once lived in… But it’s not the things or the walls or the stones that make your heart melt and your soul shiver…

“It’s not the places… It’s the beloved… He was here….”

 

Peace be upon you my beloved Prophet. Everyone reading this is sending you their love from all parts of the world. May you smile and welcome them in Paradise… And invite them to your palace. I have a feeling the carpets are emerald green there too…

We miss you Muhammad… More than words can ever say…

Until we meet my love….

 

Your Hajj Representative

Lilly S. Mohsen 

Hajj Diaries: Lilly In Mecca

Throwback, Hajj journey 2015
Published exclusively on On Islam

Medina1.jpg

Day One Dairy: Friday

Can I Represent You For 7 Days?

Before you answer that question let me tell you something:

There’s approximately 1.8 Billion Muslims in the world today. And because of the capacity limit of the great Holy mosque in Mecca, only 3 million people out of the 1.8 billion can perform Hajj every year. If you do the boring math, you’ll realize that’s only 0.0016% of the Ummah. If you do more boring math, you’ll be shocked to know, that even if every Muslim gets a fair chance to fulfill their Hajj obligation, which is one of the main pillars in Islam, they’d have to wait more than a hundred years for their turn. Some people will live and die before having the chance to perform Hajj! Not because they’re sick or old or can’t afford it! But simply because of capacity limitations. Now that really sucks, doesn’t it?

Millions of Muslims apply for Hajj visas every year and get rejected. Millions can’t afford it, can’t take a leave from work, have little kids they can’t leave behind or are physically unable to travel. I know Hajj is only an obligation for those who are able, but just looking at these number and odds, it doesn’t seem fair to me! Less than 1% of Muslims get to be reborn through Hajj, sometimes every year, while others have zero chance!

 

Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) on a Jihad journey, said “We left many Muslims behind and yet they’re with us in every step and share the same rewards. All because they wished to join us but couldn’t…”

 

Is there perhaps a different kind of Hajj that you can do EVERY single year with your heart, and get the same reward of those who are physically there? Is your sincere intention and longing to please the Lord, enough to fulfill this one, out-of-reach pillar?

Yes, I think so too… Coz Allah is Fair, and He’s the Most Merciful

Try as you may, you’ll never understand the virtue and value of the first ten days of Dhul Hajjah, whether you’re in Mecca or at home. If you’re one of those people, who turn on the TV and watch the floods of white-dressed pilgrims circumbulate the Kaa’ba and hear your heart cry out “Awwwhhh I WISH I WAS THERE”

Then welcome! I’m glad to tell you, you’re in the right place. Please leave your heart in the Lobby along with your consent for me to take it with me. My name is Lilly. S Mohsen, and I will be your representative for the next 7 days inshAllah.

Did I mention I’m one of those lucky 0.016%?

Okay wait, don’t start mumbling jealous words yet. I’m sitting here in the beloved’s mosque in Madina, overwhelmed and humbled by this gift from Allah, and wishing you were all here with me….then I thought “you all can!”

All you need to do is have the intention. A true sincere and genuine intention to come to Hajj this year, have all your past mistakes deleted and start over a new page.

No cheating guys! I’m in a holy place, remember? I’ll know if your intentions are from the heart or not and then you’ll be SO busted! (Actually I won’t know. But I’ll still pretend I do!)

 

All I’m asking is for you to let go of the worldly distractions for a few days. Believe it with every cell in your body that this year, you can do Hajj with your heart…

 

As for me, I’ll walk you through the journey inshAllah during the coming days, which Allah testifies are the best days of the year and the most loved to Him. I’ll take your hearts with me every where I go, and on judgement day, if you’ve never had the chance to do your Hajj physically, I’ll be your faithful witness that in 2015, you came with your heart…

 

There’s a reason Allah inspired me with this thought, right here, sitting next to His beloved’s house. There’s a reason you’re reading this now and your heart is being opened slowly…

Perhaps it’s the only reason Allah invited me to His house, knowing how imperfect and undeserving I might be of this huge honor…

It’s because Allah loves you… And right now… He is looking at your heart…

 

May Allah accept your spiritual Hajj…

Let’s get this beautiful journey started…

 

Your Hajj Representative

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

Inside The Therapist’s Office: Final Episode

Office

 

“Is everything okay?” I heard Maggie ask her dad on the phone. He’d been calling non-stop during our session. It was obviously an urgent matter.

“WHAT!” Maggie screamed.

She was snow-white pale when she dropped her cell phone to the ground and froze in place….

 

Three months later….

 

“Oh don’t remind me!” I covered my face. “I was this close to calling an ambulance that day! I thought something horrible had happened” I said.

“I know I’m sorry!” Maggie giggled. “I’m a drama queen! I can’t help it!”

“You don’t say!” Her father feigned a shocked look while wrapping his arm around her lovingly.

Maggie’s whole family was here to bid me farewell before their big journey. It was more of a social visit than a session, and I must admit I was beyond touched to see all of them again; Maggie, her son Adam, her father Mr. Ramzy, his wife Hannah and her mom Lila.

 

“I was shocked too! I never thought my dream of going to Hajj would come true so soon!” Hannah marveled. “We’re all so very blessed!”

 

They really were….

Hannah found out her mom stayed away fearing her expensive meds would be a financial burden on her daughter after all she’d been through. But Allah sent Maggie to Lila to take care of her…

 Lila kept an eye on her daughter from far, and was the reason for Maggie and Hannah to meet. That’s how Allah listened to Maggie’s prayers and gifted her with a new sister.

 And Maggie’s son Adam was Allah’s gift to Hannah after the miscarriage. Her genuine love for him melted Mr. Ramzy’s heart, and that’s when Hannah accepted his second proposal.

 

Mr. Ramzy later found out about Lila’s kindness to his daughter Maggie, despite what he did! He personally went to apologize and brought Lila back to live with the whole family in his mansion.

 And surprisingly, Adam did not quit therapy. He kept coming back to learn more about Islam, and gave his Grandpa the idea of starting a charity foundation to help orphans. He’s the one who encouraged Hannah to seek therapy, too, and that’s how the truth finally came out bringing with it the hope of a ‘happy ever after’. Mr. Ramzy is taking his whole family to Hajj, hoping to open a new page in the Holy land of Mecca…

 

“I’m totally stoked! Mom can’t remind me of how messed up I was or of the hard times I gave her these past few years EVER AGAIN! A clean slate is a clean slate! Everything else is erased” Adam said.

 

“But isn’t it kinda unfair only rich people get a sinless, spotless, fresh start, just because they can afford to go to Hajj?” Hannah asked.

“I’m not rich and I’m still going inshAllah!” Lila, the old nanny said happily. “When the Lord of the worlds invites you to His house, He will make sureyou get there!”

“Pilgrimage doesn’t delete your past unconditionally!” I said. “ People going to Hajj must settle their loans, their disputes and make peace with people before leaving, otherwise they still carry thus burden till Judgment Day.

 

“Exactly! Because you don’t hurt Allah when you wrong yourself. That’s why He erases those sins easily. But when you hurt His creations, it’s between you and them. You better rectify it before it’s too late!” Mr. Ramzy explained.

“You see, this is what the fifth pillar of Islam is all about; it’s a rehearsal for the real thing!” I continued.

“What do you mean?” Hannah asked.

“Going to Hajj is like a run through or a practice for the afterlife” Adam said. “You say goodbye, leave your family and money behind, and wear the exact outfit you’ll be buried in. You’re then transported to a different place the same way people will carry you to the grave. And when you’re doing tawaf around the Ka’bah, you’ll look around and realize you’re just like everyone else. Gone is the fame, the wealth, the style and top-notch education! You’re standing in a public place amidst millions of other Muslims, and yet it’s you’re overwhelmed with how personal this whole experience feels, just like on the Day of Judgment when you’ll be questioned alone about your previous life!”

“Okay stop! You’re scaring me!” Maggie panicked.

“No sweet heart!” Lila held her hand. “We all need to hear this! How can we prepare for the inevitable if we’re too afraid to talk about it?”

“Have you ever been in love Maggie?” I asked.

“Yes” She blushed.

“When you love someone, you want to run to them! You want to please them and stay by their side forever. Fear is not in the equation, even when you make a mistake!

 

“You know your beloved will forgive and embrace you with all your imperfections!” Hannah continued with tears in her eyes. “Those who truly love Allah, crave this meeting, because they know Him! They trust in His Mercy, Kindness and Compassion!. They spend their whole lives fixing themselves in preparation for this meeting… He is all what they think about! Death is not scary when you’re craving to meet the Beloved…” Hannah said.

Now it was my turn to well up! I couldn’t believe how far along Hannah had come! We were all mesmerized and so proud of her!

“What if you’re not ready?” Mr. Ramzy asked.

“I believe the ones He personally invites to visit His house will come back transformed after this overwhelming rehearsal for the Hereafter. This whole experience will definitely compel us to start getting ready!” Lila replied.

“Hajj is a spiritual journey more than anything! It’s a shift in perspective that will change your life forever!” Hannah smiled.

There’s captivating beauty in strong foundations. The first pillar of fully trusting Allah leads to the second; the desperate need to connect with Him through praying. This bond waters the love inside of us for Him and His creations, leading to the third pillar; Zakat, in which helping others makes us happy. It also takes us out of our comfort zone into the outside world, and that’s when we need ‘taqwa’ or protection to prevent us from going astray, which is done through fasting, the forth pillar of Islam. Ace all of that and you’re ready for the final pillar, the gift of rebirth….

“And we will all be as pure as newborn babies! That’s so cute!” Maggie giggled and everyone laughed.

“So trust, connection, helping others, prevention and then you’re reborn and ready to meet your Lord!” Adam recapped.

“And it goes the other way too!” I challenged him.

“Yes! When you experience the purity of rebirth, you’re more determined to develop a shield with fasting to protect yourself from sins. This will pull you towards the goodness of giving charity, and once you see the joy on people’s faces, you’ll run back to thank and connect to their Creator through salah, and that bond will strengthen your faith and trust in Allah more and more!”

 

“Perfection!” I applauded the bright young man. “But why is ‘salah’, the second pillar of Islam, considered to be the backbone of religion and without it nothing counts?” I asked.

“Oh I know this one! Because many people can’t fast, or have enough money to give charity or go to Hajj but everyone can pray!” Maggie said excitedly.

“Because praying combines all five pillars in one!” Adam explained wisely. “You recite the shahada every salah. You take time away from work to pray; time you give up instead of using it to make money, which is zakat for yourself. And during salah you abstain from drinking, eating and other worldly desires. like fasting. And finally you face the Ka’bah, which is like a spiritual journey to Hajj. See? Five in one!”

“Oh Adam! This was amazing! Whoever raised you did a wonderful job!” Maggie hugged her son and everyone one laughed again.

“We better get going! We have taken up so much of your time!” Mr. Ramzy addressed me as he got up to leave.

“Well, it’s my pleasure sir. I hope you’ll remember my loved ones and I in your du’aa inshAllah!” I smiled.

“Any pearls of wisdom before we go, Lilly?” Hannah asked softly.

“Yes please! Give us one final advice on how to be happy and prevent heartache!” Maggie pleaded.

“If you’re on a flimsy raft in the middle of the sea, would you be scared when the waves get high?” I asked.

“Terrified!” They both replied.

“How about if you were aboard a grand ship?” I asked again.

“We’ll be a lot more calmer!” Mr. Ramzy added.

“Life is like an unpredictable sea!” I said. “Controlling or even avoiding the high waves is practically impossible! The sea will never settle, and the hardships will never cease. All you can do is build a stronger ship. The same waves that might flip the raft will hardly affect you!”

“The farther the destination, the stronger the ship must be” Lila added.

“And we’re aiming for Jannah! We need a ship with super powers to get through this life!” Maggie joked.

“Once you keep your eye on the purpose, distractions won’t interest you Maggie! Obstacles will be challenges and mistakes will become valuable lessons!” Hannah said.

“Like a poor man who discovers he’ll receive his inheritance of a billion dollars in a year!” Mr. Ramzy explained. “He will stop wailing and complaining about the same dire circumstances because there’s something to look forward to! That’s the beauty of Islam…. There’s an ultimate goal and all the hardships in this life actually bring us closer to it!”

“But how do we build a stronger ship to survive a storm?” Adam asked.

“With strong foundations” I smiled. “The five pillars of Islam….”

 

 

Lilly S. Mohsen