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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Day 25: 30 Good Deeds In Ramadan

 

DAY TWENTY-FIVE: Let It Out Of The Nest!

Not sure where I’m getting this feeling from, but I have this weird hunch you have a confession to make…
Like you’ve been hallucinating about ‘Barbie Dolls’ and ‘Remote Controlled Cars’.
The dolls are cutting their hair (worst nightmare EVER) and screaming at you, while the cars try to run you over.
And then you see yourself covered in multicolored Lego pieces, gasping for air, trying to explain why you’ve kept all those unused toys at home when they could have made so many poor kids ecstatically happy.
You try to justify but no words come out….

 

Okay fine, maybe that’s my ‘very-specific’ terror. But I’m sure you guys can relate to similar nightmares, no?
So in the name of sound sleep, I present to you this day’s act of goodness.

 

All Levels:

 

Even if you don’t have any extra toys to give, you’ll certainly find a lot of items lying around in the house with no goal in life other than taking up much needed space.

 

Need a hint?

 

Those washed jeans from the 80s you know you’ll never wear but, for some mysterious reason, you’re just not ready to part with.
Those outdated antique cell phones? The chargers, gadgets and wires so old you don’t even know what they’re used for anymore?
The books you swear you’ll re-read even though it’s been five years since you’ve actually had time to read a whole book.
Those stuffed animals you cuddled with in 6th Grade! (Seriously? Loool)

 

Someone out there is wishing for the things you don’t use.
Do your yearly nesting now. Give them away and save your souls before the nightmares come creeping in at night and you’re scarred for life loool.

 

Not sure who to give them to?

Well here are some ideas:

 

United Kingdom: http://www.islamic-relief.org.uk/what-happens-to-the-clothes-you-donate/
India: http://irusa.org/india/

 

Singapore: https://www.pergas.org.sg/donate.html

 

USA: http://irusa.org/
https://www.iazf.org/

 

Canada: https://www.charityintelligence.ca/charity-details/501-islamic-relief-canada

 

Egypt: http://resala.org/

 

South Africa: http://www.islamic-relief.org.za/?gclid=CjwKEAjw7J3KBRCxv93Q3KSukXQSJADzFzVSWxrAn2fsoE8hx9_4EbYu3SS4kmwkJN8Ncfwo2434khoC9aLw_wcB

 

China: http://irusa.org/china/

 

Worldwide: http://www.islamic-relief.org/category/appeals/emergencies/syria-crisis-appeal/

 

 

Or you can contact your local mosque. They’ll probably help you out with all the resources and information you need.

 

May you always be a reason to put a smile on some else’s face…
Ramadan Kareem everyone

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 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 16: 30 Good deeds In Ramadan

 

DAY SIXTEEN: The 22 Gifts Of Gratitude

 

So most of us know everything mentioned in the Qur’an is absolutely 100% ‘beyond-the-shadow-of-the-doubt’ true, right?
It doesn’t change the fact there’s a lot of fuzzy ambiguity in our heads concerning a number of verses, since you know, we’re not scholars or experts in ‘Fiqh’(Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence) and “Tafseer’(Exegesis). Which are two very difficult fields of study if you’d like to know.

I for one read the Holy Qur’an and sometimes get a bit anxious or angry at myself for not understanding some of it. It’s frustrating! Like when was this part revealed? What was Allah referring to here? What does this word mean? Like oh, this verse sounds harsh. Why would Allah say that when He’s the Most Merciful?
The curious lot will frantically search through YouTube videos for explanations, and stumble upon (or actually deliberately hand pick) Nouman Ali Khan’s lectures, especially the ones keeping us on our toes for that ‘Aha moment’ he’s so good at delivering!
Some of us will get their answers and go back to reading Qur’an, while others will binge online, until 5 hours later they catch themselves researching the ‘101 Uses of Baking Soda’ (true story by the way loool).

Anyways, so I was reading this beautiful verse….

And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe.’ ” (Holy Qur’an 14:7)

And suddenly my eyebrows jumped above my forehead. Oh I was intrigued! How does simple gratitude amplify our blessings and gifts?
I mean how can thanking Allah silently in your mind or sending ‘thank you’ notes to people you’re grateful to, actually have a physically or even an emotionally positive effect on your life?
Will you find extra money in your purse the next day?
Will you suddenly wake up with an ‘updated’ sense of a humor?
Is it maybe symbolic for an increase in status in the Hereafter?
What exactly happens? What ARE the ‘increased’ gains of gratitude?

Okay guys listen.
I know most of us like to be informed, but we need to work like one team.
We need to have each others’ backs.
No one is allowed to wander off online to research the answers alone, because who knows when they’ll be back or what they’ll end up binging on? It’s too dangerous of a risk and the clock is ticking. We’re sticking together, okay?
We can do this! We can focus, brain storm, search Tafseer books and support each other as one independent family. Together ANYTHING is possible!
So… Uhmmmm…
Anyone got Ustadth Nouman’s phone number?

No? Okay loool
Here we go…

Benefits Of Gratitude:

  • 1- Actual Real-Time Happiness:
    Most people think accumulating more wealth is what makes us happy, but then why are so many rich people on antidepressants?
    According to the ‘Hedonic Treadmill’ Effect, as a person makes more money, expectations and desires rise as well, which results in no permanent gain in happiness!
    Reminding our selves of our blessings everyday by thanking God for them has been proven to increase long-term well being by more than 10% since it renews the excitement and joy. (Makes sense)

Health Benefits Of Gratitude

  • 2- Gratitude improves the quality of your sleep
  • 3- Improves overall health, reduces pain and decreases likelihood of developing mental disorders
  • 4- Gratitude extends your lifespan
  • 5- There’s a very strong correlation between vitality and gratitude, which means being grateful actually increases your energy levels.
  • 6- You’re more likely to use that gym subscription or just workout more often when you develop an attitude of gratitude, which in turn makes you healthier.

    What? Sounds far-fetched?
    Well the proof is in the pudding. I mean in the scientific research done by Harvard Medical School See? HARVARD! So we know it’s completely reliable!

Emotional Benefits Of Gratitude:

 

  • 7- Gratitude makes you less ‘jelly’.
    (That’s my lame attempt to sound cool by saying jelly instead of jealous, like how they talk in Teen movies. I can’t pull it off though, can I? loool)
  • 8- Gratitude increases your resilience. It helps you cope with rough situations and bounce right back up.
  • 9- Since the positive nature of gratitude is the opposite of the negativity that comes with stress, gratitude is proven to be one of the best methods for relaxation.
  • 10- It gives you back a beautiful past because when you’re always thankful and focused on the positive aspects of life, you’ll only make good memories. (Kind of like selective Alzheimer’s but you know, nicer lool)
  • 11- Gratitude makes you more optimistic. A brain trained to appreciate the good, will always see the good and expect the good to come.
  • 12- Showing gratefulness for what we have, and thanking others for it, makes us more empathetic, humble and less self-centered.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “He has not thanked Allah who has not thanked people” (Sunan Abi Dawud)
And you know what this encouragement has led to? BETTER RELATIONSHIPS!

 

  • 13- Gratitude helps you make more friends (because the biggest need for humankind is……? Oh come on, we’ve said it like a million times loool. Yes, exactly, the biggest human need is appreciation)
  • 14- And when people feel appreciated they’ll do more, which obviously leads to better marriages and relationships in general. Seriously guys, a simple ‘thank you’ goes a loooooooooonggggggggggggg way!
  • 15- Most successful people, Valedictorians, celebrities or anyone who’s ever won an important award; they all start their speeches by thanking others. You know why? Because it makes them look good! It makes them honorable and loved and looked up to, when they give credit to others and acknowledge their efforts. It’s like the most charming thing yet! (So yes, to answer your question, an attitude of gratitude will make you charming too, don’t worry)

    Mental Benefits Of Gratitude:
  • 16- Negativity takes a toll on the brain. It keeps it busy worrying, blaming, nitpicking, whining… the list goes on. But when you’re grateful, your brain is at full capacity to work on full speed. It makes sense to say gratitude increases productivity.
  • 17- Likewise, gratitude rewires the brain into thinking anything is possible, which is the main reason why grateful people are better at achieving their goals.
  • 18- It’s a package really, because grateful people obviously have strong faith in Allah. Even during the worst of times, they’re still able to focus on the good, which helps them make good decisions. Nothing can wreck your judgment and choices like being overwhelmed with hopelessness.

 

Spiritual Benefits Of Gratitude

 

  • 19- Gratitude is probably another word for ‘Mindfulness’. When you live ‘the now’, and enjoy every sip of water, or relish the feeling of resting your head on a fluffy pillow after a long day, without being sad about the past or worrying about the future, just appreciating the present moment, that’s the true essence of joy.
  • 20- It gives us much needed ‘spiritual fuel’ to deal with our problems. Just saying ‘Thank God it could have been worse’ has enough motivational power to keep you going.
  • 21- It makes you more generous, for when you’re truly grateful to Allah, you’d want to prove it with more than words. In my country, whenever someone has a baby, moves to a new house, gets married, goes to Hajj, graduates, gets a huge promotion, starts a business, pulls through a major surgery, survives an accident or even buys a new car, they MUST feed the poor. I never understood why we had to kill innocent sheep every time we’re happy, but now I kind of do. Sharing the joy with Allah’s needy salves is a form of gratitude.
  • 22- Gratitude increases one’s faith, because it eliminates the ‘random’ element. One of the most touching scenes ever is seeing a Muslim football player prostrating to Allah gratefully and making sujoud in the middle of the soccer field right after scoring a goal. They know it’s Allah who gave them the skill to play so good. It’s humble and beautiful and ‘oh-so-real’. Gratitude to the Lord sets us straight. It increases our awareness that everything good in this life is from Allah and Allah alone. It’s not random like whatsoever. It’s actually a personalized gift, and out of the billions of people on this planet, it has YOUR name on it.

    There’s no beginner or advanced level today. I’m too shy to interfere with such an intimate, private relationship between you and your Lord. So thank Him, the best way you know how…

 

Thank Him in a way that suits His Magnificence, Perfection, Excellence and Glory…
(Yeah, good luck with that loool)

Oh and while we’re at it…

Can I say…

I’m just completely overwhelmed with all the amazing comments, emails and feedback I’ve gotten in this blessed month. I have no idea what I’ve done to deserve such love and praise.

Thank you Allah for handpicking the most incredible, kind-hearted readers on Earth to read this blog.
And thank you all for your time and your beautiful smiles…

I wish you could see what’s inside my heart coz I have no earthly idea how to express it…I’m just truly, truly grateful…
Thank you…

Thank you so much…

 

Lilly S. Mohsen