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Day 27: 30 Good Deeds In Ramadan

DAY TWENTY-SEVEN: Is Tonight The Night?

 

No don’t worry, my biological clock isn’t that messed up yet loool
I’m meaning to post this a bit earlier than usual today coz this one is a deed of the heart, and who knows, perhaps tonight is ‘Laylat Al Qadr’ (The Night Of Power).
If it is, you’ll be so happy you read this today, I think you’ll be making cartwheels in Jannah loool

 

A little bit about Laylat Al Qadr?

Okay sure…

 

You know, centuries ago, people lived up to a 1000 years. I remember reading a story about a man who died in his 500s and his mom stood over his grave crying hysterically because he ‘died young’ looool (I know it’s not funny but I’m sorry it kind of is)

When that mother heard about the likes of us, whose averages lifespans is 80 years, her jaws dropped and she said ‘Why would they even come to the world? There’s no time to do anything”

 

“The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was shown the lifespans of the people (who had gone) before him, or what Allah willed of that, and it was as if the lives of the people of his community had become too short for them to be able to do as many good actions as others before them had been able to do with their long lives, so Allah gave him Laylat al- Qadr, which is better than a thousand months.” (https://sunnah.com/urn/407130)

 

The word ‘Qadr’ has multiple meanings, ones of which are:
Decree:
The night of great ‘decision-making’ by Allah, entailing mercy and love from Him to His slaves.
Honor:
The most honorable of angels (Jibreel) came with the most honorable of books (Qur’an) to give to the most honorable of messengers (Mohammad) on the most honored month (Ramadan).

Power:
Allah endowed this night with unusual power. This is the night we should have complete faith in the power of Allah to change things…
To change our destinies to the better…
To change our flaws and fate and behavior…
We ask Him to accept us, forgive us and love us…

 

And yet every year, even when we try to get so close to Him…
Some of us still feel so far away…

You’ll hear others cry during prayers, and see their blessed tears roll down their faces at the mention of Allah’s name

And then you’ll look yourself up and down, stare at your dry tearless eyes, and shake your head with disappointment

 

You might think you didn’t put enough effort…
You were too distracted or too flawed or just not spiritual or soft….

You’ll look at those who worship Him with reverence and silently start wondering if you’re good enough..
You’ll witness this blessed night and then start telling yourself
‘I tried… I tried so many times, but I don’t feel anything.. I’m not tearing up or getting shivers down my back or even feeling serene…maybe Allah doesn’t want me…”

 

Are you crazy? How can you ever think that?

 

You’re right there at the mosque, in His house!
I mean would you allow anyone to stay at your place against your will?

No one forced Allah to allow you to enter His house…
The mere fact that you’re there, wherever you are, on your knees before your Lord, begging Him to accept you, means He already did!

Allah is the Most Generous….
He will never say ‘Hey, what brought you here!’
No… He will actually bring you closer, like a loving mother warmly embracing her child, and He will say: just “Call upon Me; I will respond to you”

We don’t change suddenly…
We don’t become pious, righteous and have faces glowing with the light of faith at the press of a button.

It’s a build up
Of little random acts of kindness and good deeds…

When you sit alone and think of how Great and Magnificent your Lord is….

When you play with an orphan or feed a poor family…

When you put your family first, and help them out with chores, even when they don’t even notice it…

When you emulate the beloved Prophet (just because he’s so awesome)

When you feed a bird or help a homeless dogs on the street
Or take the time to absorb a verse from the Qur’an or learn a Hadith and get your questions answered…

When you make your parents smile…
Or do things from the heart for Allah’s sake…
When you give good advice
Or volunteer to help others
When you teach a child to be a proud Muslim
Or when you silently praise the beloved Prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him)
When you remember the deceased in your prayers, even though they’re not here to thank you…
Or when you’re grateful for Allah’s simplest blessings…

 

When you give compliments to gladden people’s hearts…
Or when you spend from what you love the most…

 

When you forgive others for His sake…
Or when you forgive yourself and promise to start anew…

 

When you visit your grandparents and listen to their repetitive stories…
Or when you make a du’aa for someone you don’t like, in an attempt to please your Lord…

 

When you take time out of your day to read a post like this one, hoping it might bring you even an inch closer to Allah…
Or when you realize that I just listed all the acts of kindness we did this Ramadan and keep it to yourself instead of yell out “You’re SO BUSTED!’ looool

 

So be patient with your Lord…
Be patient in worshipping Him….

The change doesn’t happen suddenly…

The tears don’t flow abruptly…

The goodness doesn’t come unnaturally…

It’s the outcome of building a relationship with Allah throughout the years…

So if you don’t feel anything tonight, it’s okay…
Keep investing, keep trying, and keep coming….
You’re still on the same path with all the other people you look up to…

Some are walking
Some are jogging
And some are running with amazing speed

But in the end they’re all on the same journey, heading towards the same destination…
Pleasing Allah

 

If tonight is Laylat Al Qadr, then smile and open your heart to the love, peace and angels surrounding you….

Just talk to Allah they way you’d talk to a close friend…
And don’t doubt it even for a second…
Because you are more than enough…
You’re accepted and sheltered in His mercy and care…

So tell Him all your secrets tonight…
Ask for everything you wish for…

And don’t forget to remember me and my family in your duaa please (maybe you’ll be the reason we do cartwheels in Jannah too)

 

May Allah bless you all
And since you’ll be supplicating to the Most Compassionate and Most Generous

May the most you ask for
be the least you get….
All my love,

 

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 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