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Episode 2: Acting Out As A Self Defense Mechanism

Defense Mechanism

 

Episode Two: ‘Acting Out’ As A Self Defense Mechanism

 

“So can you tell me what happened the night of the robbery?” I asked Hamza after the small talk was over.

“I already told the investigators everything I know” Hamza spoke very quickly. He started tapping his right foot uncontrollably with beads of sweat sliding down his forehead.

“Do you mind telling me again?”

“I dunno much. I was in my room the whole time”

“So you never seen the guests? Or had dinner with the family?” I asked, checking my notes and police reports to see if he was getting his story straight.

“No.”

“What else did you do that night?”

“Nothing special, I was downstairs in my room all night” Hamza stiffened his shoulders and rubbed his nose. “I was asleep”

“You told the police you saw your friend’s mom Sameera go upstairs around dessert time.”

“Yeah?”

“Did you?”

“I woke up hungry. I stepped out of my room, called Alffie to get me some food. Then I saw Aunt Sameera sneak upstairs”

“Alffie is Alfred. The butler, correct?”

“Yeah”

“So what else were you doing in your room that whole time?”

“I told you! I slept and played video games” Hamza frowned, pressing his fingers to his temples.

“Oh, I don’t think you’ve mentioned that. What game were you playing?”

“Ummm Avengers?” Hamza stuttered.

“Is that the same game where you chase the dragon?” I looked him straight in his doped, Hazelnut eyes.

 

“I don’t know what that means” Hamza’s palms were sweating at this point, too.
Dangerous memories flashed before his eyes so vividly I could hear his heart pound against his chest.

 

A couple of months ago

 

“Dude this is good stuff” Hamza slurred.

“I told you” His friend winked.

“Honey did you remember to…”

“Mommmmmm! I told you a hundred times, don’t charge into my room without knocking!” Hamza roared.

“I’m sorry baby I didn’t mean to…. Oh, what’s that smoke?” Amy sniffed the air.

“Nothing it’s a chemistry project for school, now get out!”

“Do you need any help?”

“No Mom! Just go now so we can finish our project.”

That same night, Hamza allegedly ‘borrowed’ the keys to his mom’s Maserati, went for a midnight cruise with his friend and ended up being arrested.

“Mom! I’m dying! You gotta get me outta this joint” Hamza wailed. He was allowed one phone call, so naturally he called the only person who usually gets him out of such troubles scot-free.


“Officer, may I have a word with you please” Amy asked elegantly.


Within half an hour, the police report was shredded in exchange for a locked black brief case, and Amy was back home, tucking her son in bed as if nothing had happened.

She made him promise to quit and to never ever breathe a word about this to a soul, especially his father.

 

 

“Seriously lady, what’s that supposed to mean?” Hamza asked me again, his voice shaking this time.

“I think you know what it means” I replied calmly.

As if this was his cue to blow up, Hamza rose to his feet, his anger boiling up like lava, and his eyes blood red.

“Please sit down. We’re not done here”

“Oh you bet we are!” Hamza stormed up to his room yelling and cursing, stopping momentarily to grab a crystal vase and slam it against the wall.

 

That same evening

 

“How rude! I swear if I had spoken to my parents that way, or any grown up for that matter, I would have been buried alive. With poisonous rats. In a dungeon.” Jenna, my assistant remarked.

“I know. Our parents had zero tolerance for disrespect. You can’t totally blame Hamza for his behavior though, he obviously doesn’t know any better” I said.

“Don’t defend that spoiled brat” Jenna spit out.

“I’m not. I’m completely appalled by his behavior, too. But I can’t help thinking his anger and acting out are just another form of self defense mechanism”

“Like how? He’s also separated from reality and lives in a far-off, ‘Angry Bird’ world?” Jenna joked.

“No” I laughed. “When we’re physically attacked, we fight back with all our might. The same goes for emotional attacks. When someone hurts our feelings, they tap into our innermost insecurities and fears. They make us feel exposed and helpless, so we rage and act out. If you think about it, for some people, expressing anger is a symbol for regaining a sense of power and control.”

 

“Please tell me this is against Islamic teachings or I’m gonna cry in my coffee.”

 

“Of course it is. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) advised us to never get angry, because anger is from Satan. There’s no ‘power’ in it at all. He also said.

 

“The strong is not the one who overcomes the people by his strength, but the strong is the one who controls himself while in anger.” https://sunnah.com/bukhari/78/141

 

“What about those who stuff their anger inside but retaliate with the scary silent treatment instead?”

“That’s being passively aggressive, which is another type of self defense. These people will shut down completely to escape dealing with the problem, but their eyes…. ho-ho… if looks could kill!”

 

“Yes! YES! These are exactly my mom’s moves. Her eyes widen, her breath sharpens and her nostrils open up. She’d be silent alright but her piercing look could make a grown man pee his pants! I swear if there’s a country named ‘Passive Aggression’, my mom would be their queen! Beating us up would have been more merciful”

“Aggression rarely solves anything, Jenna. Neither does passive aggression. Those who can anger you that much evidently have control over you. Their words must have affected you in one way or another, especially if they threaten to touch any feelings of fear, guilt or hurt you’ve been harboring deep inside”

“Okay I need to remember this for the future. Might come in handy when I’m bragging to my friends about my Psychological powers” Jenna winked.

“You’re such a child”

“I’m serious. Ughh where’s my notepad. I gotta to write this down.”

“It’s in the alphabets. A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H… so F, G, H is Fear, Guilt and Hurt”

“Who’s the child now?” Jenna teased.

“You know, acting out is the self defense mechanism children use when they don’t get what they want. They throw tantrums at Toy stores and scream at the top of their lungs when it’s time to leave the playground because many of them haven’t developed adequate skills to deal with emotional pain yet. And believe it or not, some of them never really develop any as they grow older, so whenever they feel threatened, even adults will behave like children and act out.”

“Hmmmm so Hamza feels threatened. Why is that? Doesn’t seem like his feelings got hurt. He must be scared or feeling guilty” Jenna smirked.

“That’s a possibility yes…”

“Oh come on! The answers are staring you in the eyes. Hamza obviously did it. Yesterday when his mom offered him money, he said no. Which teenager says ‘no’ to money?”

I tapped my pen on the desk, contemplating Jenna’s words silently. She had a point, but was it valid enough to accuse the son?

“Do the math. He was defensive, agitated, rude and sweaty. Oh and RICH! It’s definitely him”

“Look who’s jumping to conclusions. Awwwhhh I’m so proud” I teased.

“AND he’s trying to make his mom’s friend Sameera look like the main suspect. I mean, was there any proof she went upstairs right before the necklace disappeared?”

“Actually….. There was…..”

 

To be continued….

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

 Author’s Commentary

I read somewhere that putting a mirror behind the salesperson at the store will stop customers from getting angry. They wouldn’t want to watch themselves behave in an aggressive manner. It’s unsightly. You know why? Because the jig is up! Anger isn’t perceived as a sign of power anymore, it’s a sign of weakness. We’re old enough to realize it’s just a cover up; a smoke screen to hide the pain we feel. Besides we all know the famous hadith, right?

“The strong man is not the good wrestler; but the strong man is he who controls himself when he is angry.” https://sunnah.com/urn/2054430

Nonetheless, anger isn’t the problem. The word ‘when’ in this hadith proves it’s a common emotion, for it serves as a signal something is horribly wrong, and you need to do something about it. And you know what we do since we’re absolute geniuses loool? We ‘act out’ the destructive feelings of anger instead of actually fixing the problem, and so inevitably we end up back in square one. When someone’s words for example makes you feel threatened or guilty, all the voices in your head clobber you with different takes on the situation:

“Sara’s getting on my nerves again”

“I know she probably doesn’t mean it but still”

“Sara is always taking advantage of my kindness.”

“I shouldn’t say anything I might regret”

“If I don’t speak up Sara will think I’m a wimp”

 

My advice? Practice the ‘pause’. Breathe, filter out your thoughts and try to control acting out the ‘unproductive’ ones. You’ll thank me later when you win people over instead of lose them one by one. Prophet Muhammad’s golden words will help you reach the respectful level of ‘emotional strength’, and boy don’t we all need that in this time and age?

Episode 1: Defense Mechanisms Explained

Defense Mechanism

Self Defense Mechanisms

 

Episode One: Using Dissociation As A Self Defense Mechanism

 

 

“If you say ‘calm down’ one more time I swear I’m gonna lose it!” Her husband snapped.
“I don’t know what else to say. I looked everywhere. It’s gone! Now can we please stop fighting about this and go to bed?” Amy cried.

“This necklace is worth 400 thousand dollars. The only thing I’m sure about is I’ll never sleep again till you find it!” her husband roared. “You know what, that’s it, I’m calling the police…”

 

Three months later

His name was Mr. Mohanad Zahir, a very powerful and insanely rich businessman. We met on a Monday morning to discuss the case he had hired me to investigate and by Thursday I was at the Zahir’s posh residence all caught up on the details and ready to commence with evaluating and assessing the witnesses.

“I don’t care how long it takes or how much it’ll cost. I hear you’re one of the best forensic psychologists in the city and I’m counting on you to find out who stole my wife’s diamonds.” Mohanad arched his thick eyebrows, while smoking his expensive cigar, completely ignoring his beautiful, agitated wife.

Detectives and suspicious insurance company investigators have been all over this robbery case for weeks to no avail. Amy wore the diamond necklace to the small and cozy birthday party they had hosted for her best friend three months earlier. Halfway through dinner Amy got the hives and started itching all over. Mortified, she ran upstairs frantically, searching for her antihistamines and naturally took off her jewelry to ice down her burning skin. Careful examination showed there were traces of strawberries in Amy’s dessert; the only food she’s extremely allergic to. There were no signs of breaking and entering that night, nor were there any strange foot or fingerprints besides those of the guests.

“We were all thoroughly interrogated; our friends Sameera and Nadir, our son Hamza, and even our butler and housekeeper, who were the only people present inside the house that night.” Her husband, Mr. Mohanad Zahir added.

“Are you suspecting anyone Mrs Zahir?” I asked Amy.

“She didn’t even want to call the police.” Mohanad said in a hard-to-ignore, sharp tone. “She was as happy as a clam to let the whole thing go unreported. She obviously thinks I crap money for a living.”

A flash of heat went through Amy, tightening her shoulders and flushing her cheeks blood red, yet I could tell she was used to being on the receiving end of her husband’s insults.

“I couldn’t accuse anyone, they’re all practically family” Amy whispered.

“I understand” I nodded. “Mr. Zahir, do you mind me asking why you insisted on hiring a forensic psychologist even though the case had been closed and you already received the insurance money for the stolen jewelry?”
“That’s not the POINT!” Mohanad pounded his fist on the designer Ebony-wood coffee table. “It’s not about the money or the necklace, it’s about the principle. I need to know who would dare steal from me under my watch. Be it who it may, they must pay for their crime.” Mohanad said before getting up. “Excuse me!”

“Sorry about that” Amy apologized quickly when her husband stomped outside angrily to take a phone call. “He’s usually very pleasant. I don’t know what’s gotten into him lately”
“I can tell you think very highly of him”

“He’s a great husband. Generous and supportive, and he’s also a wonderful father” Amy replied, drawing in a long breath with a pursed smile.

She was lying. There was no doubt in my mind about it….


Last year…

“Will you stop whining? I can’t believe you’re still upset about your flower business going belly-up. Of course it did! You know nothing about running a business.” Mohanad said, stuffing another crab puff in his already full mouth.

“Dad…”

“Hamza it’s okay” Amy rested her hand on her son’s arm to stop him from arguing with his father. The three of them were at the lake house for the weekend, supposedly to strengthen the family bond, which at that point was as frail as a yellow autumn leaf.

“Let him talk. I’m sure failing school three years in a row has given him unparalleled insights on the why’s and how’s of success.” Mohanad scoffed sarcastically.

“He’ll pass this year with flying colors, watch and see” Amy smiled warmly at her teenage son.

“Unless we enroll him in a special school for pot heads, I don’t see that happening. Look at him, he’s stoned in broad day light!” Mohanad yelled.

“I’m not stoned dad, I’m just tired. I was up all night studying” Hamza mumbled.

“I don’t know what’s more infuriating, your drug abuse problem or your failure to come up with a decent lie to cover it up. Looks like he’ll take after your brother, Amy. Congratulations!”

 

 

“So tell me a little bit about your background. Where did you grow up?” My question woke Amy up from her painful, silent rumination.

“I grew up in the cutest little town known for making the best cheese on the planet. Wait I’ll get you some!” She bounced on her toes.

“Thank you that’s very sweet, but maybe later” I sat her down gently. “What about your family?” I asked.

“My parents live about two hours away, but still, we talk all the time. I lived a simple life back home. My dad worked day and night to provide us with the bare necessities, yet our home was a haven, believe me. People think money brings happiness but that’s not true. Life is meaningless without those people you love and who love you back.”

“Including your brother?” I smirked.

“What? Of course.” Amy stuttered. “I haven’t seen him in years though.”

“Yeah, that’s what your husband thought, too. Except I found out you took him to Rehab two months ago. And a very expensive one if I may add”

“I do what I can to help my family” Amy whispered.

“I completely understand” I raised both hands. “Your parents must be proud”

“They are. In their eyes, marrying a rich man like Mohanad was my greatest achievement!” Amy’s ocean blue eyes glistened in the light. She fiddled with her diamond ring and then looked up at me with a smile. “Of course I must help them. God gave me so many blessings; a loving successful husband and a perfect son. It’s my way of giving back…”

“Mommmmmmmmm! Where are the stupid keys? I’m late!” Hamza walked in, yelling so loud I think the wall paint cracked.

“Sweet heart please say hello to our guest” Amy seemed a bit embarrassed.

“Yeah whatever” Hamza bobbed his head at me then turned to her. “Where’s your car keys?”

“They’re in my purse honey” Amy handed her son her limited edition Channel purse. He grabbed it rudely to fish the keys out then tossed it on the sofa.

“Umm you’re going out? Do you need some money?” Amy asked.

“No I’m good.” He said before scurrying out.

A moment of awkward silence…

“Giselle” Amy called for the housekeeper, avoiding any sort of eye contact with me.

“Yes, Mrs Zahir”

“A cheese platter for our guest here. You really must try the Chevre!” Amy changed the subject abruptly, yet the unexpressive look on her face said a thousand untold stories.

 

That same evening

“So she wants to make her family look good. Big whoop!” Jenna said. She was my office assistant, a vibrant, cheerful young woman who was very eager to learn all about Psychology.

“No Jenna, Amy is using dissociation as a defense mechanism” I contemplated.

“Dis what?”

“Dissociation. There’s over 30 different types of defense mechanisms the subconscious employs as a protective shield against the ugly truth. Dissociation is one of those types.” I explained.

“’Against the truth’? Isn’t this just a fancy terms for ‘lying’? Why do you make it sound legitimate? ” Jenna asked.

“Because we all do it. Avoiding pain is a natural, basic instinct”

“Okay, so you think Amy isn’t purposely lying, she’s just zoning out?”

“Exactly! Dissociation is separating yourself from reality. It’s a self defense mechanism to things that are too difficult or too painful to process and absorb. Like Amy; her husband is a raging Narcissist and her son is obviously disrespectful towards her, but she’s completely blinded to it.”

“Gimme another example” Jenna put both palms under her chin.

“Hmmmm we see it a lot with children who’ve been abused. Some of them grow up with no recollection of what had happened. They know they’ve been abused but they become masters at detaching from reality, they completely block the horrific incident out.”

“Wow! It’s really fascinating how the brain works”

“You’ll be surprised how many of us use dissociation in our everyday lives. Like for example, when a mom knows for sure her child is having troubles at school yet turns a blind eye or give them excuses instead of addressing the core problem.”

“Yeah like those moms who blame the teachers when their kids fail, right?”

“Or it could be mild as daydreaming. Some people just feel detached from their lives; they describe it as watching themselves in a movie. Or when a girl falls in love with the wrong guy and completely blinds herself to ALL the signs proving he’s not the right person for her. Uhmm like some people I know uhmmm” I coughed.

“Fine I get it” Jenna made a face. “Dissociation is basically like living in La La Land; believing in fairy tales and knights in shining armor. What’s so wrong with that?”

“Nothing if you use it properly. Like it’s okay to zombie out during a root canal for example. Trying to focus on things that don’t bring us pain is actually therapeutic. But when you refuse to deal with reality and run away from your problems all together to go live in a perfect, dream world that’s when you’re in trouble. You can’t solve the problem if you don’t see it to start with”

“So how do you cure ‘dissociators’?”

“Therapy works for patients with dissociative disorders. They need help focusing and acknowledging the very painful feelings they’re avoiding. It’s no walk in the park, but without treatment, they’ll spend the rest of their lives carrying the past on their shoulders, getting themselves in more trouble, or accumulating more sins. They eventually suffer from depression, low self-esteem and memory loss.” I explained. “Like Amy, she lives in two separate worlds. She’s created a beautiful bubble to live safely inside, but I have a feeling she’s hiding something. Something awful…”

“You think she stole her own necklace and then convinced herself she didn’t do it?” Jenna gasped.

“It’s too early to say….”

The next day I went to question Hamza, Mr. and Mrs. Zahir’s teenage son.

“Of course! Make yourself at home. ” Amy greeted me cheerfully as if I was an old friend dropping by for a cup of tea, not a crime investigator.

Hamza walked in a few minutes later. A typical teenager in sneakers and a solid black T-shirt. He had his hands in his pockets, with his ripped blue jeans sagging below his waist, and his long wavy hair framing his pale face.

“Remember what your uncle taught you.” Amy whispered in his ear. “How does a fish get caught?”

“He opens his mouth” Hamza whispered back.

 

To be continued….

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

The Author’s Commentary

A certain ‘Dissociator’ popped up in your head, right?

Or perhaps right now you’re in the middle of an ‘out of body’ experience being a spectator and you realize ‘Oh my God, I’m a DISSOCIATORRRRRR!’

You know, Psychology is closely integrated within Islam. Allah did not leave us to our own devices, for even the most complicated, unresolved psychological issues have been discussed in either the Qur’an or the Sunnah. Like for example, fathers who buried their daughters alive in times of ‘Jahiliyya’ must have been dissociating! They must have completely blocked out the horrendous magnitude of this sickening custom.

Let’s say you’ve committed a sin, and because you have a good heart, you just can’t face the fact you’ve upset Allah. It’s just too painful! So you refuse to feel it and completely block it out. Sometimes dissociation is the reason thieves keep stealing, adulterers keep ‘adultering’ and cheaters keep cheating. They don’t feel guilty about it because they’re detached from their ugly reality. But the angels on our shoulders aren’t detached. Granted the one of the right might get bored sometimes, but the angel on our left is on full gear, writing down everything we’re in denial about. And then we’ll be completely dumbfounded on Judgment Day.
I know it’s unimaginably difficult to accept you’ve sinned, but that’s part of the healing process. Stop running away from your mistakes because sooner or later you’ll collapse. The antidote to dissociation is repentance. And if you know a disscoiator who insists on sinning, make duaa for him or her. These people are not stubborn, they’re not bad people, they’re just weak….
May Allah help us see the truth and guide us to the
right path. Amen

Lilly S. Mohsen

Self Defense Mechanisms Explained

‘Who Are You Defending?’
Prologue

 

August 29th, 2017
Originally Published on Productive Muslim

 

I’ve missed you all soooooooooo much!
Ahh it feels good to be back!

 

Defense Mechanism

Self Defense Mechanisms Explained

Now, before diving into this upcoming thriller series dealing with the psychology of ‘Self Defense Mechanisms’, let me ask you this; what’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘Psychotherapy’?

 

Crazy ‘psycho-babbling’ nerds with thick reading glasses and big hair?

A clinic with a ‘Chaise Longue’ for patients to lie on?
Paying someone to dictate the ‘common sense’ you already know?

 

I hate to burst the stereotype bubble we’ve all lived in at one point or another, but there’s so much more to psychology and some of it has nothing to do with common sense….

 

For example, it’s common sense to think people who sleep a lot are lazy bums, right? But therapists will tell you they’re obviously sad..

People who laugh at silly things are lonely deep inside…
Those who seem selfish are only seeking more love and acceptance…

There’s a lot of things about the human nature that don’t make sense, and one of those is the bizarre way we all use ‘self defense mechanisms’ to guard ourselves from hurtful feelings:

Someone criticizes the way you dress and instead of acknowledging you’re hurt, you retaliate with giving him or her the silent treatment for a good week and a half.

Your husband’s boss yells at him for no reason, and instead of admitting he feels humiliated he comes home and snaps at you coz the chicken isn’t ‘crispy’ enough!

We lose someone we love, and instead of grieving properly, we go into hibernation mode away from the world.

You see, we all want to shield ourselves from pain, but as this series will demonstrate, sometimes those same defense mechanisms we use for protection are in fact what cause us the most pain in the long run. Through the coming episodes, you’ll see yourself or someone you care about in one of the characters, and realize that perhaps it’s us who cage ourselves in a loop of endless suffering.

But now what does learning about ‘Defense Mechanisms’ have to do with Islam or Productivity?

Good question! You should come backstage where all the action takes place. The PM Team works overtime to make sure the writers stay focused on the website goals, and for that we are very grateful. (Why? You think writers give editors a hard time? No! We’re lovely easygoing people, and not at all stubborn loool).

Throughout my years of being a therapist I’ve come to realize there’s two types of people:

  • Those who are in therapy to learn how to deal with the past
  • Those who are in therapy to learn how to deal with those who need to be in therapy!

 

The bottom line is, deep down, we all want to change someone or something. We have this perfect colorful image of what life should be like and our expectations are feeding our frustration. We forget that life is supposed to be difficult, and this excruciating inner struggle is part of our journey.

 

“Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves”

(Surat Ar Rad, Verse 1, Holy Qur’an)

Yet we use ‘self-defense’ mechanisms like denial, isolation and aggression to avoid the attacks of a guilty conscious. To steer away from uncertainty, loneliness, shame, fear, doubt, anxiety or any other kind of emotional pain inflicted upon us by others or by our own doings. And the more we resist and run away from these ugly feelings, the more we suffer, because change in itself isn’t painful, it’s the resistance to change that hurts the most.
And the first step is to acknowledge the problem. Throughout the upcoming series, locate which ‘self-defense mechanism’ is hindering you (or your loved ones) from growing, and instead of ignoring it, purify it. Don’t shove the dirt under the couch and pretend it’s gone. Clean it out.

“And by the soul and He who proportioned it
And inspired it with discernment of its wickedness and its righteousness
He has succeeded who purifies it
And he has failed who instills it with corruption”

(Surat Ash-Shams, Verses 7-10, Holy Qur’an)

Our Most Merciful Lord doesn’t expect perfection. He expects progress. He expects us to try harder, to learn from our mistakes and supplicate for His help. But when we defend our faults and always give excuses for our slipups, how will we ever change? We’ll keep falling, sinning, and fighting back in vain. We will keep judging, criticizing and hating others if we refuse to understand their dark sides and take their hands towards the light.

‘Nothing changes if nothing changes’.

We’ll keep seeing Muslims trolling each other, best friends becoming enemies, marriages falling apart, teenagers talking back to their parents, and a ton of toxic relationships every where we go.

We all want to change someone or something. Some of us even dream of changing the world. But here’s the thing…

We must stop escaping…

If we’re ever going to change or put an end to this inner struggle

We need to stop attacking and defending…

You’re one series away from finding the peace you’re looking for

The minute you figure out which mechanisms help you reach your goals…

Your journey will make more sense
The minute you stop fearing the darkness…

You’ll find a way to shine a light from within…

 

Who Are You Defending…?

Stay tuned…..

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 26: 30 Good Deeds In Ramadan

DAY TWENTY-SIX: Help Her Out

 

You don’t know how much gets done until someone doesn’t do it.

 

Like when you throw your sweatpants on the floor, you’re not aware of the logistics involved to make them magically end up in your closet, washed and folded.

 

Your food is ‘shopped’, washed, peeled, cut, shredded, diced, fried, baked, cooked, and served hot, delicious and right on time.

 

Bills are paid.
Broken things are suddenly fixed (including hems!)

Bathrooms and windows are cleaned.
Lunch boxes are packed.

Oh the list goes on….

And usually the superhero behind all the action is the woman of the house, a.k.a not just ‘Mom’ but ‘Mom, mom, mommmmmmmm, mommy, mom, mommmmm’

 

Now don’t get me wrong…

Oh my God we love unloading the dishwasher 20 times a day coz you guys do it all wrong. It’s one of life’s special treats.

 

And it’s hilariously fun to vacuum and mop for hours, only to have you all stomp in with your dirty shoes. It’s like the highlight of our day, we relive it in our heads all night and smile with satisfaction loool.

 

And spending 95% of our time putting things back where they belong, ohhhh that’s just icing on the cake! It’s not tedious it’s actually the meaning of joy.

 

Of course dads help out too. They take out the trash twice a year. And you know, we beg them not to. We grab onto the trash bags and plead with them not to steal this happy job away from us, but they just won’t listen loool

 

Don’t even ask about ironing, folding, clearing away the dinner table, sweeping and cleaning inside the microwave every time someone uses it, because we both know it’s just another day in paradise!

 

And yes, before I forget, can you guys please ask us to run more errands? Pretty please with a cherry on top!

It’s the best feeling ever to drop every thing you’re doing, no matter how urgent it is, just to drive your teen daughter across the city because she ‘forgot’ her cellphone with her friend.

 

Oops, that’s my alert. I’ve reached my allowed sarcasm limit for the day loool.

 

Beginners Level:

 

This is mostly for teens:
Guys seriously, help out!

Helping your parents in the house (and by that I mean your moms loool) is a neglected Sunnah, don’t you think?

The Prophet himself (may peace and blessings be upon him) kept himself busy serving his family. He milked his goats, patched up and sewed garments and mended his own sandals.

And he taught us, “The best of you is the one who is best to his family” (Tirmidhi)

 

And you know he was busy spreading the word of Allah, with a mission that would last till the end of time, not busy with ‘which-snap-chat-filter-looks-better-on-me-today’

 

Okay that was uncalled for.

 

All I’m trying to say is out of all the days in the year, this is the best time to help with chores around the house. Help you parents, your siblings and help the help if you have any.

They’re definitely exhausted by now.

You’ll be reaping a lot of good rewards if you show them some kindness.

And hey, I’m sure you guys look great with any filter : )

 

Advanced Level:

 

This is strictly for parents.
I know you love your kids and they’re fasting and stuff, but if you really love them, you’ll give them chores and responsibilities.
It’s not your job to prepare life for them
It’s your job to prepare them for life and all its tough blows.

Let them share the housework.

Let them feel the value of time and effort.

Let them learn to appreciate the little things and build their self confidence.

It’s really the best act of kindness you can do…. Raise them right in a world where ‘wrong’ is synonymous with ‘normal’

 

Good luck (we all need it)

 

Ramadan Kareem everyone

See you tomorrow inshAllah

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 23: 30 Good Deeds In Ramadan

 

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

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

 

Food

 

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

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

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

 

Beginners Level:

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

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

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

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

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

Listen to this:

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

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

Advanced Level:

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

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

 

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

 

Lilly S. Mohsen
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 20: 30 Good Deeds In Ramadan

DAY TWENTY: The Power Of Advice

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seriously?!

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

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

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

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

Beginners Level:

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

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

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

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

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

 

Ramadan Kareem guys
See you tomorrow inshAllah

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

 

Day 19: 30 Good Deeds In Ramadan

DAY NINETEEN: Quality Over Quantity

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All Levels:

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

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

Ramadan Kareem everyone
See you tomorrow inshAllah
Lilly S. Mohsen