Tag Archives: chocolate

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

 

 

 

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Day Seven: 30 Good Deeds In Ramadan

 

DAY SEVEN: When You Make Your Parents Smile

 

And then we became parents…
And we realized how unbelievably hard it all is.
Oh my God, who knew it took so much energy to be strict? (I honestly thought my parents enjoyed having all this power, but it turns out, it’s not as fun as I thought!)
Who knew it was the hardest thing in the world to say ‘no’ to something your kids’ really wished for?

We thought they didn’t understand our struggles, when the truth is, they worked so hard to make sure we never felt theirs..
We wanted them to set us free. We didn’t know they were the glue holding our pieces together.
We didn’t consider it ‘sacrifice’ until we grew up and felt the need to put our kids’ needs before our own.
And when we finally stepped into the outside world, and took the separate journeys we couldn’t wait to start on, we realized no one can or will ever love us the way our parents do.

No one will pause his or her life to ease your pain the way your parents would.

You know what I’m doing right now?
Holding my head, while my imaginary friends compete on whom can remember the most touching childhood stories and yell them out the loudest!
(In case you’re new to the blog, my imaginary friends are all the voices in my head giving me ideas for my writings. They’re chatter boxes, they all talk at the same time and eat a lot and look funny, and some of them are real weirdos, but I love them all from the bottom of my heart LOL)

Do you remember any memories from your childhood?
Whether they were flashes of picnics, your dad running behind you trying to hit you with a shoe, your mom hugging you or punishing you or lecturing you, believe me, they’re all streams from the same river: love.

That’s what I learnt after so many years of feeling misunderstood or even oppressed at times (sorry mom and dad, it’s Ramadan and I gotta be 100% honest). I learnt that parents do it differently, but the goal is always the same: they want you to be the best version of yourself. They want to protect you and even though they don’t always do it so gracefully, they just desperately want you to learn from their mistakes and spare you the pain of what they’ve faced in life.

That’s pretty much the gist of it.

Since there’s no way you can repay them, Day Seven’s act of kindness is just a humble attempt to make your parents smile from the heart.

And I know some of you have said goodbye to one or both of their parents, and my words are bringing you more grief than gratitude. I know nothing I say can soothe the pain of losing a loved one, but I hope you’ll still put the effort to make them smile up in heaven. Just coz you don’t see them, doesn’t mean you can’t make them happy. One of the great three things we leave behind when we depart this world is a pious son or daughter making du’aa for us. That could be you this Ramadan.

And when you meet in paradise inshAllah, they’ll thank you from their hearts (you know after all the scary parts of Judgment day are over and we’re all chilling in our rose-covered palaces, by our rainbow pools, eating chocolate and NOT gaining weight!)

Beginners Level:

Say something nice to your parents. Something to make them feel all their efforts didn’t go in vain. I wouldn’t mind if you add a warm embrace to that and ‘hand-kissing’ and a little gift with a sentimental card. I really wouldn’t mind at all LOL

Advanced Level:

Make a special Iftar for them and treat them like guests of honor for the night.
Spend quality time with your parents and show them the love and care they have invested in you all these years.
I’m not gonna quote verses from the Holy Qur’an or Prophetic Hadiths about the importance of taking good care of your parents. You know them all I’m sure. So go do it from the heart…
And please tell them I say “Ramadan Kareem”

 

All my love
See you tomorrow inshAllah

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Amazing Race Of Ramadan: Episode Three

Published On OnIslam.net
On July 7th, 2015
This is the original version

MAGNET

The Amazing Race Of Ramadan
Episode Three: The Magnet

I know you guys are busy sprinting to win and have no time to stop. We’re almost done with the ultimate race and some of you must be both drained and anxious. So let’s jog and talk people. Jog and talk.
And now here’s a vivid image of me running backwards to face the contestants all serious and involved then I fall flat on my back. Ouch. (Hey! Don’t laugh.)

The People You Meet Are Your Key

At any point in time, you’ll find two kinds of good people:
Those with tribulations seeking help, and those in good situations willing to offer help.
Those who are eager to teach and those who are willing to learn.
Rich and poor, sick and healthy, clueless and knowledgeable….The list goes on.

It’s like a magnet really. God puts people on your path for a reason. We are all somehow attracted to our designated roles in other people’s lives, whether by giving or taking. And it’s through the love in our hearts that we help with passion.. Fasting, praying and reading Qur’an are all keys to genuine faith, but what’s more than that is having good manners, spreading peace and kindness and wishing others well. Without that kind of true love, giving would make us arrogant and taking would make us feel humiliated Think about it for a second while I search for a relevant Hadith….

The Messenger of Allah () said, “By Him in Whose Hand is my life! You will not enter Jannah until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another….” (Sahih Darussalam Vol. 1, Book 1, Hadith 68)

It’s those people who love each other for the sake of Allah who will stand in His shade on the Day of Judgment, will have the gates of Heaven opened for them and will be envied by Prophets and martyrs! (Al-Tirmidhi, Book One, Hadith 381) And what better than the Holy month to intensify our chances, when Satan and the rest of the ugly, ‘hate-inducing’ devils are tied up like silly idiots!

So without further ado, let’s demonstrate how to win people over and spread the love this Ramadan….

The Five Rules Of Attraction:

1- Greetings, Names and Smiles (GNS)

The rest of the above Hadith says it all…
“….. Shall I inform you of something which, if you do, you will love one another? Spread the greetings of peace amongst yourselves.”
Personalized, polite and cheerful approaches make people feel acknowledged. From garbage cleaner to king, treat them equally, remember their names and say the ‘salam’ first with a genuine smile. You’ll win over thousands of hearts.

2- Expect The Un-Expected (Which is Nothing)

“We live in a world where kindness is misconstrued as flirting”. I remember reading that somewhere and thinking ‘that is SO TRUE!’. We find it hard to believe people can be nice for no reason. But that’s exactly the point of love for the sake of God: asking for nothing back except for Allah’s pleasure. So when we find those rare gems who do good and expect zero from us in return, we hold on to them for dear life. Be one of those this month and you’ll be surprised with all the blessings God will shower you with. Trust me.

3- Make Room For Us
We love our personal space, but we’ll never forget those who make room for us, be it in the mosque, on a bus or in their hearts. Make people feel welcomed and follow the words of the beloved when he said, ‘The best assemblies are those in which people make room for one another’. (Abu Dawud, Book 5, Hadith 18)

So come on, be nice and quit hogging and shoving. We all wanna pray Taraweeh too you know!

4- Gifts With Love

Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said, “Give gifts and you will love one another.” (Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 594)

Like Oh my God just listing these rules I’m completely baffled by this religion I swear! Everything psychologists teach nowadays about influencing people and the laws of attraction was all already revealed 1400 years ago! Duh, why do non-Muslim professors pretend they’ve made a scientific discovery?

So remember to give little gifts to people for no reason. It makes them feel loved, appreciated and they’ll always be looking forward to reciprocate with another kind gesture.

By the way, I like chocolates, purple Lilies, and nice comments. Thanks! LOL

5- Return Negative With A Positive

Now that’s a tough one, sheeeeesh!

Imagine someone hurts you really bad and instead of slapping them back (on the face with a chair!) you understand, forgive and give them a warm hug instead. We say pain changes people and makes them bitter and shielded, but it doesn’t. Response and reaction are two very different things. A moment of anger can swerve you into a dark place, but responding with mercy and compassion will only put you on a pedestal and turn your enemies into lifelong friends!

Check this out….

“….Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend. (Holy Qur’an, 41:34)

My sister-in-law was talking to me the other day about how there’s no tolerance in our society anymore. The trending posts are now “If you wanna walk out of my life I’ll hold open the door!” or “Haters make me famous!”

Seriously what’s up with that?
You know what would make you famous?
Being a role model.
Being great and amazing, that everyone around you would dream of becoming like you.
Having a solid identity as a representative of our peaceful Islam that you make people fall in love with it. That’s your job. It takes commitment, humility and putting your ego on the side to reach that level of supremacy.

Treating people the way you want to be treated is the ultimate law of attraction. Let your magnetism shine brighter and spread the love we’re aching for….

Become a magnet today!
(That sounded like a cheesy commercial didn’t it? LOL)

Okay don’t give up on me yet! The final episode will knock your socks off I promise! (InshAllah)

See you at the finish line…. Stay tuned.

Lilly S. Mohsen

Lilly S. Mohsen is the author of the “Prophets To Islam” series for kids. She is a Psychologist who works as a part-time therapist besides being a spiritual speaker and a contributing writer to a number of renowned Islamic and educational websites. For more about Lilly, please check her new blog: lillymohsen.wordpress.com or follow her on Twitter @Lillymohsen.

Are You A Pushover? (Why Small Equals To HUGE!)

Published On Productive Muslim
June 30th, 2015
This is the original version

Are You A Pushover?
Why Small Equals To HUGE

Pushover

“You’ve become a doormat Lilly! You let people walk all over you, drain you and use you! And because you have the memory of a tiny gold fish, you never know when enough is really ENOUGH! Think of yourself and stop being such a pushover!”

Oops I’m sorry you had to hear that. Don’t mind my friend, she’s been a little cranky lately. Believe me that kind of anger usually stems from an insane amount of pain. Sometimes when people repeatedly get hurt by their loved ones, they end up shielding their hearts, terrified of getting hurt again, and refuse to submit to their compassionate natures. Slowly they become numb. They convince themselves that ‘strength’ is synonymous with ‘not caring’, when in fact it’s the exact opposite. A wise man once said, “Love and compassion are necessities not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”

I understand why my friend steamed out like that, I actually hugged her instead of getting upset. Plus she makes the best chocolate desserts in the entire universe, so I really can’t afford to lose her LOL. (Yeah, newsflash: I’m obsessed with chocolates!)

I’m also obsessed with quotes, especially the ones based on Islamic teachings. Squeezing a relevant quote in the middle of a conversation makes me feel smart for some reason, I don’t know! Here’s another life-changing quote by a man named ‘unknown’ (See how smart I am?)

Watch your thoughts for they become words

Watch your words for they become actions

Watch your actions for they become habits

Watch your habits for they become character

Watch your character for it becomes your destiny

This statement is pure psychology, proven, tested, dissected and written about in hundreds of books. Come, I’ll show you…

The Definite Pattern:

“How can caring for others give me joy if no one cares about me? This theory is NOT true!”
A disapproving thought quickly turns to doubt or denial.
Thoughts turn to words.

“I’ve got my own mess to deal with so get out of my face!”
The negative thought is voiced out with anger to attack or repel others.
Words turn to action.

“You need to be selfish to survive in this jungle! Toughen up like the rest of us or you’ll be eaten alive!”
Justifications are given till discouraging yourself and others from helping the needy becomes effortless.
Actions become habits.

“Let others figure out how to get by, their problems can’t be our problems!”.
Loss of compassion changes a person. It leads to neglectfulness of our pure and kind inner beings.
Habit becomes character.

“A charity event? Man that’s good publicity! Make sure you take a picture of me hugging the sick kids and those sad wrinkly old people!”

Sometimes the only interest in kindness is shown  is under the spotlight, where it’s time to show off how great and loving we are. Fakeness tarnishes genuine bonds of love and leads to a gruesome destiny.

Everything becomes about ‘you’, while you withhold the chance to put a smile on someone else’s face, even if it cost you nothing at all, thinking:
Why should I? I’m not a pushover!”

 One Thing Leads To The Other:

Denial of truth à Repulsion à Discouraging people from helping othersà Negligence of our purity and inner goodnessà Showing Off à Selfishness to the point of withholding costless kindness à A miserable woeful life.
Hmmmmmmm interesting theory….

It’s not just the quotes. Take a look at the teachings of all the best-selling self-help books circulating millions of copies around the world. Their authors are celebrated professors, doctors and scientists. They spent years researching, studying and observing before cracking the code: The source of your happiness stems from making others happy. That’s pretty much the gist of it. But 1400 years ago, a blessed prophet who wasn’t a psychologist or a neurologist or a sociologist or any kind of ‘-ologist’ conveyed the Holy words of Allah, describing the same pattern that defines us till this day….

“Have you seen the one who denies the Recompense?

That is he who repulses the orphan (harshly),

And does not encourage the feeding of the poor.

So woe to those who pray

Who are neglectful of their prayers,

Those who make show [of their deeds]

And withhold [simple] assistance.”

(Surat Al Ma’un, Chapter 107, Holy Qur’an)

Don’t Underestimate Those Simple Acts

Just like abuse and bullying can have negative long-term effects on the society, where those in pain ‘pay it back’ with more hurt and anger, kindness can and will do the opposite of that if you ‘pay it forward’. We all have the humanity and compassion ‘gene’, and I just love the word ‘withhold’ in this Holy chapter because it perfectly describes how we suppress our kind-hearted natures when we deny the reality of this life. We forget we are all connected, and that the joy you spread will eventually find its way back to you. Life is a chain reaction. You and me have the power to conquer poverty, hunger, disease and wars by causing a ripple effect with one good selfless deed.

So the next time you pass by a poor homeless woman on the street and avoid eye-contact because it’s ‘awkward’; try pausing your busy life for a minute to ask “How can I help?”. We are the slaves of Allah and we have an important job to do people! We gotta help one another. And now is the best time to start coz guess who’s coming to town? The Holy Month Of Ramadan! SURPRISE! (I was gonna keep it as a secret but I couldn’t hold it in any longer LOL)

The 30-Day Kindness Challenge:

We plant trees to overcome pollution, take vitamins to beat fatigue, vacuum the house to clean the dust… it makes sense to conquer the negative with a positive, and what’s more beautiful than a fresh batch of hope to revive this Ummah? Investing in small acts of kindness this Ramadan should be our ultimate goal. Let’s show the world what Islam is and defeat the hate with love and mercy. It’s effortless, simple and free. You make someone happy which makes you feel better and makes the world a better place. Win. Win Win. This isn’t just about the mega bonus of Ramadan’s multiplied rewards! (Actually it SO is, who are we kidding?)

Here’s a list to get you started:

For Your Lovely Parents:

  • Thank your mom every day for the food she cooked and make yummy noises! (Cooking while you’re fasting is not easy! Trust me)
  • Ask your dad daily “What can I do to make your day better?”

For Your Precious Grandparents

  • Umm hello! Call and visit them! Make them feel special before they’re gone.

For Your Spouse and Children

  • Hide a note with a funny joke or compliment in your kids’ backpacks or clothes.
  • Text your husband or wife saying ‘I Love You’.
  • A minimum of three hugs a day for each member of the family (I’m serious! Sometimes all we need is a warm embrace)

For Relatives, Neighbors and Friends

  • Send flowers (or Konafa) to a distant relative with a card saying “Just a little something to make you smile”
  • Mown your neighbor’s lawn or wash their cars.
  • Tell your friends how much they mean to you and make du’aa for them.

For Co-workers and Other Professions

  • Bring homemade cookies to work (with chocolate chips please!) Don’t worry, we will save them till after Iftar!
  • Praise clerks, assistants and workers and thank them for their hard work.
  • Leave a nice comment on articles you enjoyed (Uhmm Hint Hint)

For Absolute Strangers

  • Greet people with a smile (It’s a sunnah for God’s sake!)
  • Give up your seat for an elderly or a pregnant woman.
  • Hand out balloons to kids on the street

For God’s Beautiful Creations

  • Leave a bowl of water outside for the birds. (That’s when I had to explain to my son why animals don’t fast)
  • Make Tasbih (glorifying Allah) outdoors. Trees, insects, even the mountains and soil will join and bloom. (Does that sound weird?)

For Those In Dire Need of Ma’oun:

  • Leave a couple of colors and coloring books in the waiting room of a public hospital.
  • Do some fun story telling at an orphanage and bring them toys or snacks.
  • Share a meal with a homeless person and sit with them on the ground.
  • Listen to someone who is sad or lonely.

The ideas are endless. Just doing one simple act of kindness a day without expecting anything in return can truly change the world, and is beyond joyful and fulfilling. It’s in fact the number one reason behind success, inner peace and sound sleep! Helping others feel better is simply the meaning of happiness because…

“Is there any reward for good other than good?” (Surat Ar Rahman 55:60, Holy Qur’an)

So believe in your Lord’s promise, have compassion, pray from the heart and invest in those simple acts of kindness during this blessed Holy month.

And if that makes you a pushover, well….

Consider yourself the luckiest person on Earth for being one!

Lilly S. Mohsen