Tag Archives: happiness

Day 29: 30 Good Deeds In Ramadan

 

DAY TWENTY-NINE: Zakat Al Fitr (Eid Charity)

 

Ramadan is coming to an end….
Wait a minute, so does that mean in a day or two, we’ll drink coffee in the morning, no problem?

We’ll have breakfast instead of ‘break-our-fast’

For real??
Oh my God! Did you guys ever try the Eggs Benedict on a muffin topped with smoked salmon? Served with cherry tomatoes and roasted potatoes on the side? Oh yummmm

And fresh pineapple juice…
And grilled cheese sandwiches
Frittatas, bagels and Pita bread with white cheese and olive oil

Red velvet pancakes and Nutella waffles

And our Egyptian Feteer (layered pastry)

And all the other mouth watering foods we love so much
I would like to thank all the items on the food menu for bringing so much joy to our family gatherings, so much love to our hearts and for making our taste buds alive with amazing flavors.
We have missed you so much!
And even though we’ve had our differences before since some of you make us gain weight, we’d like you to know that on days like Eid, you’re completely forgiven because it’s totally 100% worth it. And I promise we’ll try our best not to take you for granted again.

Give it up to all our favorite foods! Let’s have one more round of applause loool.

 
You know, at the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) ‘Zakat Al Fitr’ (Ordained charity given at the end of Ramadan) used to be one saa’ of food, or one saa’ of dates, or one saa’ of barley, or one saa’ of raisins. (Bukhari and Muslim)
Given your drooling reactions to the breakfast menu I listed a few seconds ago, it kind of makes sense to give out food to the poor and needy at the end of Ramadan, no?
Yes, you. Did you have a question?

 

What’s a Saa’?

Well, it’s an ancient measuring unit equivalent to about 3 liters

 

Can I give any other type of food? Or even money?

Of course you can give other types of food depending on availability and quality.
Giving food is the ‘sunnah’ and it is the most correct form of charity in this case, but many ‘modern-time’ scholars have agreed that Zakat Al Fitr can also be given out in money and ‘Allah knows best’ (I’ve always wanted to say that but never had a chance! Thank you loool)

 

On whose behalf should a man (or woman) pay Zakat Al Fitr?

Zakaat al-fitr must be given on behalf of all Muslims under your care, young and old, male and female, free and slave. With regard to a fetus, it is not obligatory to give it on his/her behalf according to scholarly consensus, but it would be nice of you to do so, since ‘Uthman Ibn Afan (may Allah be pleased with him) did that.

When should Zakat Al Fitr be given?

Like right  NOW loool!

It’s essential to give the charity before Eid so people would have time to make good use of it.
You don’t have to finish reading this post if you haven’t given out your zakat yet. Go do it like right now please.
(Final deadline? Morning of the first day of Eid, but you better have like a REALLY good excuse!)

 

Who is eligible for Zakat Al Fitr?

  1. The poor
  2. The needy,
  3. Collectors of Zakah,
  4. Reconciliation of hearts (new reverts or people this close to embracing Islam)
  5. Freeing captives / slaves
  6. Debtors
  7. Those fighting for a religious cause or a cause of Allah
  8. The traveler.

 

Why do we pay Zakat Al Fitr anyway?

It’s a blessing for us if you’d like to know.
In the past month, there’s no doubt we’ve slipped a couple of times. A little gossiping here, a semi-curse word there.
Rolling your eyes at someone here, and raising your voice during an argument there.
Sheeeshhh some ugly memories are flashing before me loool.

Zakat Al Fitr serves as an eraser. It purifies those who fast in Ramadan from those little sins we hardly notice or can’t control.

 

And oh don’t we all need to be accepted and forgiven…?
Don’t we all need to be heard and loved…?

My dear Greatest Lord…
You’re the One who knows what’s inside our hearts…
and You know we have nothing to purify our souls with…
We own nothing..
Please my Lord…
Don’t believe our moments of despair or anger..
Please don’t believe our arrogance or selfishness..
It’s not who we are..
So please forgive us when we slip..
and love us despite the ugliness and resistance You see from us…

We don’t have anyone else to run to..
We really don’t..

We don’t know anyone who’ll accept us with all our flaws and imperfections and still give us limitless chances..
And still forgive, care and shower us with blessings
No one but You..

My Lord…
Can I ask You a question…?
Have You accepted us…?
Are You proud of us…?
Is there anything we can do or say to gain Your love and pleasure?

Allah…?
Are You happy with us this Ramadan?

I’m begging You…
Don’t let the month go by until You have loved and accepted us…
Until You’ve looked at us with a smile…
Until You’ve made a place for us in the Highest Levels of Jannah, where we get to see Your face…
Amen

 

All my love,

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day Twelve: 30 Good Deeds In Ramadan

DAY TWELVE: There’s Always A Place To Volunteer

 

Turns out reaching a state of ‘Happiness’ is ridiculously easy.

You finally find the set of keys you’ve been looking for for over three hours and you’re ecstatic!
You see a funny video of a cute baby with a voracious appetite and you can’t stop laughing.
Your life long friend calls to cheer you up and you’re suddenly in a positive mood.

It really doesn’t take much to be happy!

And it also doesn’t take long for this happiness to subside, simply because no one can maintain one mood or emotion endlessly. No one can possibly be happy ALL the time (I mean come on, imagine how extremely annoying that would be!)

So if it’s not constant happiness that we’re pursuing (since we just found out it’s obviously unattainable) then what exactly are we running after? What’s the missing element powerful enough to take this excruciating sadness away?

What in this life is capable of making us feel alive…?

 

 

No really, what is it?

I’m actually asking you guys loool

 

Well studies have shown that selfish people who have everything and live only for themselves suffer from low-self esteem, depression and are the most likely to commit suicide.

On the other hand, thanks to MRI technology, it has also been proven that ‘giving’ activates the mid region of the brain, the same part responsible for cravings and seeking pleasure. (The scientific study uses eating chocolate as an example of intense pleasurable feelings. I think I just fell in love with scientists and researchers; such noble, knowledgeable people loool)

So I thought I’d put the theory to the test…

I joined my dear friend on one of her volunteering jobs to pack ‘Iftar’ meals for the less fortunate. On our way there, she eloquently prepared me for my first experience…

Marwa: ‘So we’re supposed to pack 1000 hot meals in less than an hour’

Me: ‘How is that even possible?

Marwa: ‘We’ve been doing it for years. You basically give up the right to breathe and instead you work NON-STOP! You hear me Lilly? No side talks, no calling the kids to check on them, no whining about the heat or about your feet going numb. And no bathroom breaks!’

Me: ‘I can do that’ (Gulp)

Marwa: ‘Oh and also… uhmmm… heads up…. The supervisor yells a lot. She will make it a point to publicly humiliate you in front of all the other volunteers if she sees you’re not doing a good job, so just be prepared.’

Me: ‘Okay stop right there! Are we volunteers or ex-cons going back to jail? I plan on donating my time not my dignity, thank you very much.’

Marwa (laughing): ‘Dignity? Honey, this is serious work. Hundreds of people around the country are expecting this food and there’s no room for mistakes. Do yourself a favor and leave your dignity at the door. ‘

 

I did….

And honestly, I never thought working in an assembly line, amongst total strangers, sweating from the heat and shivering from the fear of humiliation, getting screamed at while bagging plastic boxes like a maniac and then going home smelling like meat stock would bring me such immense joy!

Nothing, absolutely nothing, compares to this beautiful feeling…

So if you’ve never experienced it before, I’m urging you to please to give it a try….

Beginners Level:

Donate your time to a worthy cause.
Volunteer at the local hospital, orphanage, public school, soup kitchen, food bank or help clean up a district in your neighborhood.
The options are endless.
Just pick one and try it out for a day. You’ll see how the humbling experience will be life changing.
You’ll see how expecting the reward only from Allah and no one else, is so amazingly fulfilling….

Advanced Level:

It’s kind of addictive…
I can safely assume anyone who tries the beginner level will most certainly move up to the advanced level of wanting to do this every single day for the rest of eternity because …

‘When action meets compassion, lives change…’
Starting with yours….

May all your days be filled with joy and may Allah accept us all in this beautiful, generous, holy month…

Amen

 

All my love,
Lilly S. Mohsen

Episode Six: Inside The Therapist’s office

Office

Episode Six: Feel The Truth

The Whole Story

 

 

Six months earlier…

 “SURPRISEEEEEEEEE” Everyone yelled when Zahra, the bride-to-be walked in. Salma had invited all the girls to celebrate her best friend Supa’s engagement to Ali, the hottest bachelor of the year.

“Oh my God you know those irritating people who flutter their eye lashes and say ‘I’m so blessed’? Well, I’m one of them now.” Supa giggled. “I really am blessed. AlhamduleAllah”.
Salma forced a smile on her face even though she was seething with jealously; she literally thought her envy might emit a sizzling sound. But then again, she was positively sure none of them would notice the green eyed monster she’d been harboring deep into her soul for weeks. Salma covered it up so well. She’s throwing a party for Zahra! Would a jealous friend do that?

Oh if only they knew…

Zahra’s eldest brother Ibrahim and his wife Aisha waited in the car with Omar, Zahra’s twin brother, for the bride and her best friend to come down. They were all invited to the groom’s house for dinner, Ali, who also happened to be one of Omar’s friends.

 

Sitting in the backseat of the car between Salma and Omar, Zahra couldn’t help bouncing up and down with excitement.
“Ibrahim is married. I’m engaged. It’s your turn now, Omar!” She winked at her twin.

“Oh now I know why they call you Supa, coz you’re ‘Super Delusional’.” Omar mocked. “I’m happy for you Zoe, but just so you know, don’t go expecting to hear any wedding bells in my future.”

“First they won’t be bells, they’ll be old women’s shrills’ Zahra laughed. “And secondly, who wouldn’t want to find everlasting love? It’s the best feeling ever. Ibrahim, say something.”

Ibrahim didn’t reply or even smile. He kept on driving silently while Aisha sat next to him in the passenger’s seat, staring at the ‘Oscar’s Best Dressed posts’ on ‘Instagram’, completely detached from the conversation.

“Maybe there’s a special girl out there who might one day change your mind.” Salma fluttered her eyes, desperate to get Omar’s attention. She’s been in love with him since God knows when and yet he barely knew she existed.

“Trust me, she doesn’t exist. Besides, I’m not the marrying type. I’m more of the ‘fun-partying-watch-my-friends-get-hitched-and-shake-my-head-at-their-dubmness’type of guy.” Omar replied.

Salma was fuming, especially when everyone laughed at the stupid insinuation, even Supa! Well, as long as she was happy with Mr. Perfect, what did she care about other people’s feelings? Salma’s jealousy, resentment and anger were bubbling inside her like lava. She had to do something about it before the fire coming out of her ears burns through her Hijab.

“I heard you’re throwing a party for Ali, too” Salma commented. “Copycat!”

“Yeah, the difference is I know how to plan one. You invite a few girls to gossip in your living room. I on the other hand party like a rock star” Omar boasted.

“You mean dancing and drinking till dawn. Isn’t this what you’ve been planning for Ali’s bachelor’s party? Yeah, I definitely can’t compete with you.” Salma smiled wickedly. That should ruin the night she thought.

Omar threw her a dirty look and glanced quickly at his eldest brother Ibrahim, who was on the phone. Thank God he didn’t hear her snide comment. Of course Aisha made an unreadable face and turned away. It was his twin sister Zoe who was shocked and hurt the most.

“Alcohol?” She whispered. “Seriously Omar? I thought we talked about this. Is this how you want your future brother-in-law to start his life with me?”

The twins argued while Salma listened, taming her envy with a liberating conclusion that ‘Supa’ wasn’t that super after all. She had a reputation for having such great motivational and persuasive techniques, that some of their friends predicted Zahra would become one of those famous influencers or inspirational speakers. Yeah right! She couldn’t even get her own brother to believe in God.

“I’m sick of hearing this Zoe. You don’t need to be religious to be a good person.”

‘I say it because I love you. Just try to open your heart. I know you’ll eventually find your way back to God” She said softly.

“If God has a problem with me not believing in Him then He should take it up with me, man to man. Right here, right now!” Omar yelled.

 

It all happened at the same time

Omar was challenging the great Lord..

Salma was simmering with envy to the point of wishing evil upon her own best friend.

Aisha was disappointed they were almost there. She had secretly asked God to create an excuse big enough to stop them from going to the dinner party, just to spite her mother-in-law.

And Ibrahim, consumed with fear, passion and guilt, while checking his cell, he took his eyes off the road for exactly two seconds. The wrong two seconds.

And then the crash happened and everything went dark..
“Is everyone okay?” Ibrahim panted. The pipes on the truck they rammed into speared through their glass, completely shattering it. Ibrahim could hear the ambulances’ sirens approaching and was relieved to realize that even though the sharp pipes caused some minor injuries, everyone was still breathing.
They had no idea the car crash chose only one victim to pay the price.

“I can’t see anything…” Zahra whimpered.

A week later..
“Mom I don’t care if she’s blind. I love her and I promised her nothing would tear us apart. I know you disagree but it’s my life.”
Ali slammed the door behind him and went to see his beloved Zahra, who was still refusing to meet him. Her parents asked him to stay away and let her move on with her life.
“I’ve been praying day and night for them to agree. They will eventually. They know I can’t live with her.” Ali insisted.
“My daughter is a proud young woman, she’ll never agree to marry a man without his parents’ approval” Zahra’s mom said.
He left the building feeling crushed, got into his car and drove off like a maniac at the speed of lightening. This is when he got into a terrible accident too and was rushed into surgery about two hours later. The plastic surgeon said it might take years before a reconstruction could make him look half normal again.

No one dared tell Zahra about Ali’s accident. She was now at the institution learning how to cope with blindness and trying to adjust to her new life. Although her anger at the world made this ordeal an impossible, endless struggle.

“I know you don’t want to see anyone..”
“See? You think I can ‘see’ anyone? I’m as blind as a bat you idiot!” Zahra snapped at the poor nurse.
“I’m sorry” Zahra’s mom apologized to the nurse. “Please don’t take her tone personally. She’s been through a rough time”
“There’s a woman here to visit, and she’s insisting to meet Ms. Zahra” The nurse continued.
“Who is she?” Zahra asked.
“Her name is Rehana”
Zahra clenched her jaws, and pressed a hand to her throat, feeling her veins about to pop from her suppressed rage. “Mom, give us a minute please.” She hissed. “I need to speak to Rehana alone”

Later that day

“Rehana honey tell me what happened” I ran to hug my friend who had been waiting for me on my porch. She was shivering and sobbing hysterically, I could hardly understand a word she was saying.
“I talked to Ibrahim’s sister” Rehana sniffled.
“You what? Rehana you told me it was all over! You said you had repented and closed that page.” I scolded.
“No Lilly you don’t understand. They got into a car accident and his sister Zahra lost her eyesight. She’s staying in the same special needs institution I volunteer at. I couldn’t not go see her. Especially after what Ibrahim said. He blames me for the accident and for everything that has happened.”

I tried to hide my disappointment and be supportive instead. After all, I wasn’t just her life long friend I was also her therapist now, ever since she finally decided to confess her sin and asked me to help her get back on the straight path.

“Ibrahim thought confessing the truth to his sister would help him clear his conscious. He admitted he got distracted while driving coz I was texting him.” Rehana gasped for breath. “I went to ask Zahra for forgiveness, but she wouldn’t listen. It was horrible.” Rehana sobbed. “Even after I swore I ended it with her brother, she called me the worst names. She said she couldn’t understand how good people like her end up suffering instead of devils like me. She’s right Lilly. She’s so right.”
“She’s angry, Rehana. No one knows what they’d do if they were in her situation.”
“She said she wasn’t gonna suffer the consequences alone, and then threatened to tell my husband and my parents. She said she’ll make sure this scandal follows me everywhere I go, at work and at the institution. She never gave me a chance to explain.” Rehana was shaking uncontrollably I could tell she was about to have a nervous breakdown.
“Somebody HELPPPP” I cried.

Later that night

“Psych ward? Are you people insane?” I asked the nurse when I went to visit the next day. “Rehana is fine. She’s just a bit stressed out.”
“Doctor’s orders, ma’am.” The bored nurse replied.
“I need to see her”

Rehana was sitting on the floor alone in a dimmed room, barefoot and her hair disarrayed. She looked exactly like the first time I met her in fifth grade sitting in detention outside the principle’s office. She had the kindest heart yet, ever since we were little girls; she always ended up getting herself in trouble.

“It’s over Lilly…” Rehana stared at the wall blankly.
“It’s not honey. Have faith in Allah. He can change the unchangeable. You know that, right?”
“Ibrahim hates me. Zahra hates me. My parents hate me. My husband hates me. And even you hate me..” Rehana bowed her head down in disgrace.
“I don’t hate you Rehana. I love you and I’m gonna help you through this.” I cried.
“It’s too late for me. I don’t deserve Allah’s forgiveness…”
“Please don’t say that. The door to repentance is always open..”
“I know Allah hates me for what I’ve done. Zahra’s right. I am the devil.”
“What happened to Zahra isn’t anyone’s fault. It’s an act of God, and God will never allow bad things to happen unless good comes out of it.” I insisted. “Allah loves us, Rehana.”
“I’ve done so much damage, Lilly. You don’t know how many people I’ve hurt and how many lives I’ve singlehandedly ruined.”
“There’s still time to learn from your mistakes and fix what you broke. Like Omar Ibn Al Khattab said, ‘sometimes the people with the worst past create the best future.’”
Rehana buried her head in her two pale palms. “Lilly, I really loved Ibrahim and I never wanted to hurt him or his family. Promise me you’ll help him fix his life and find happiness. Promise me you’ll help everyone who suffered because of my actions.”
“I’ll try” I replied, desperate to say something soothing.
“I left a letter to my husband asking for his forgiveness, please make sure he gets it” Rehana whispered before sliding out a gun from under the carpet she was sitting on.

Where on Earth would she get a gun in solitary? I wondered silently, my heart pounding so loud, evidently distracting my brain from coming up with a plan.
“Please, don’t” I pleaded. “Trust me, there are other options!”
“I wish that were true..” Rehana whispered.
“Noooooooooooooo”

A couple of weeks later

 

“She tried to take her own life?” Zahra repeated the question like an endless tireless echo.

“We stopped her at the last minute. Unfortunately she suffered major deficits and is now in a coma. Doctors don’t think she’ll wake up anytime soon”

I came to see Zahra at the institution, still overwhelmed and heartbroken.

“I can’t believe she tried to kill herself. Why? How can any Muslim do that? I swear I wasn’t gonna say anything. I’d never shame anyone that way. I didn’t mean it. I was just blabbering out of anger, I didn’t mean it.” Zahra slurred.
It took a couple of days for her to absorb the immense impact of her words. She couldn’t eat or sleep; she was practically going insane with remorse.

“My heart is gonna explode. I don’t know how to go back to my life as if nothing happened. I’m so angry and hurt I don’t think I can take this anymore.” Zahra cried.

“Rehana gave up the Lord’s endless mercy and submitted to the whispers of Satan. She forgot that He says “No one despairs of Allah’s soothing mercy except those who have no faith” (Holy Quran, 12:87). Her hopelessness affected so many people. Her loved ones will never be the same again and they’ll probably never forgive her. If you give up now… Zahra I don’t know what will happen to them, to Ibrahim, Ali, Omar, Salma, Aisha, your parents, your friends. It will change them. If you fall apart now, you’ll drop their hopes to their ground, shattering their faith and willpower. And like poison, this anger and bitterness will spread around and it won’t end. It will never ever end.”

“This is a huge burden to carry…” Zahra wept softly.
“Life is a test; it’s full of hardships. But we must remember the events that take place during our journey don’t control us, our decision do. And you have a decision to make. This is the tipping point Zahra, whatever you decide today will change everyone’s life forever….”

 

Three months later

“I can’t find Zahra” Aisha panicked; still holding her sister-in-law’s abandoned wedding gown. “I think she ran away”

“How could she possibly run away? She’s BLIND!”

 
To be continued….

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

I Know What You Did Last Year…

last-year

 

Published On Productive Muslim
On December 25th, 2016

 

Now I must admit I can’t help but wonder what was the first thing that came to your mind when you read this title. Maybe you heard the notoriously shocking ‘Dan Dan Daaaaaaa’ sound in you head and freaked out a little bit coz the title reminded you of that popular series of horror movies. Or maybe it triggered you to frantically search the secret box inside your brain. Because let’s say I actually did know about something you did that I wasn’t supposed to know about, it will probably give you one of these three feelings:

  • Disappointment: You did something really good and gave up your bragging rights for the sake of Allah, and you’re worried anyone finding out about it might take away from your extra credit for secret good deeds (If that’s the case, touché, you’re one of the very special few! And we all hate you!)
  • Fear: You did something really bad. Like really bad! Your heart is beating fast; you’d rather be transformed into a toilet brush than face the humiliation of people discovering it.
  • Confusion: There were hardly any special or tormenting events; it was basically a numbingly mundane year. Nothing good, nothing bad. And now you’re just staring at me blankly trying to remember: “What did I do?”

 

 

We might block them out, but we all have all kinds of secrets, some of them so deep and dark we bury them in the woods of our minds like murderers burying their victims’ corpses. Then we wait and hope no one ever finds out about them. And the more respected, ‘looked-up-to’ and well mannered we are, the better we get at covering our crimes. Like this woman who doesn’t miss a single prayer, you’ll never guess she’s rude and yells at her senile mom when no one is around. And this man who quotes ‘hadiths’ every chance he gets, well, he chats inappropriately with loose women online. This straight A’s teenager waits till his parents go to sleep and spends hours watching porn! Because as it turns out, inside every person you know, there’s a person you don’t know, capable of doing the unspeakable! You’d think that’s way creepier than any horror movie, but it’s not. There’s more..

 

I recently underwent major eye surgery (which involves a donated eyeball but I’ll be kind and spare you the gory details). Anyways, I was literally blind for a while. Making myself a cup of coffee felt like a bigger achievement than winning the longest marathon.

At the Olympics.

Four years in a row.

With one leg.

Attached to a life support machine.

And carrying two kids on my back. (Okay I’m kidding LOL).

 

So yeah, since you need your eyesight to perform about 90% of your daily activities, I literally felt useless for a long time. I now have a newfound respect for the blind who are still joyful and productive mashAllah. That’s when I realized there’s something even worse than bad habits and dark secrets. There’s one thing that tears us apart more than disappointment, guilt, self-loathing and fear put together. And that’s the numbness of doing nothing at all.

 

What you do when you think no one is looking essentially defines who you are, and basically maps out your entire future. Some people choose to do anonymous acts of kindness and pile up on the good deeds, while others do horrible things and hope they’ll get away with it. In both scenarios the operative word is ‘do’. Then there’s a third group of people who don’t do nothing, they just eat popcorn and watch. They watch other people, watch TV and YouTube, or just watch their lives pass them by. They feel no fear, joy or pain. Achievements don’t motivate them and mistakes don’t teach them. They’re not one of those cultivating success ‘Muflehoon’, or those seeking redemption through repentance “Tawaboon’. They’re blind even though their eyesight is intact and can make themselves a cup of coffee no problem! They’re the ‘Ghafeloon’, they’re oblivious to their good and bad deeds. Like zombies, they feel nothing at all.

 

At least there’s a chance to learn from mistakes and fix them eventually. The power of guilt and stress can push you to take the driving wheel and exit the wrong highway. But spending day after day in your comfort zone, going through the same motions, having the same small talk with your co-workers, the same arguments with your spouse or parents, watching movie after movie till your eyes fall out, spending hours on Facebook and Snap Chat, and counting how many followers you have on Instagram and Twitter. Granted there’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s nothing right either. The mere concept of being busy ‘killing’ time is in itself a huge crime! (Cheesy metaphor I know but I couldn’t help it LOL)

 

Being a ‘watcher’ does not change the fact there’s a surveillance camera documenting your every move. You yourself are being watched all the time. Even your most, well kept secrets are known to Allah. So look closely at your life and tell me, what do you see? The great scholar Ibn ‘Ata Allah said, “If you want to know your standing with Him, look at the state He has put you in now”. There’s an inescapable paradigm shift in those words. They make you pause and reassess the bigger picture! Some people live to make a difference and some people are indifferent to their own lives they just squander it away. Some people keep their eyes on the goal and others are blinded by distractions. So be honest with yourself and find out exactly where He put you. Are you satisfied with who you are? Do you only have horrible secrets with Allah, and that’s why you’re too ashamed you end up running away from Him to a lifeless life? Do you let yourself feel the power of secret good deeds and use it in times of need? Because that’s what it all boils down to; snapping out of zombie mode and ‘feeling your feelings’ will magically make the right path appear right before you. And you’ll see that many times, one small thing done solely for the sake of Allah can cancel out all the nothingness that fills your life.

 

Listen to this amazing story:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Three men, amongst those who came before you, set out until night came and they reached a cave, so they entered it. A rock fell down from the mountain and blocked the entrance of the cave. They said: ‘Nothing will save you from this unless you supplicate to Allah by virtue of a righteous deed you have done.’ Thereupon, one of them said: ‘O Allah! I had parents who were old, and I used to offer them milk before any of my children or slaves. One day, I went far away in search of grazing and could not come back until they had slept. When I milked as usual and brought the drink I found them both asleep. I hated to disturb them and also disliked to give milk to my children before them. My children were crying out of hunger at my feet but I awaited with the bowl in my hand for them to wake up. When they awoke at dawn, they drank milk. O Allah! If I did so to seek Your Pleasure, then deliver us from the distress caused by the rock’. The rock moved slightly but they were unable to escape.

 

The next said: ‘O Allah! I had a cousin whom I loved more than any one else I wanted to have sexual intercourse with her but she refused. Hard pressed in a year of famine, she approached me. I gave her one hundred and twenty dinars on condition that she would yield herself to me. She agreed and when we got together she said: Fear Allah and do not break the seal unlawfully. I moved away from her in spite of the fact that I loved her most passionately; and I let her keep the money I had given her. O Allah! If I did that to seek Your Pleasure, then, remove the distress in which we are.’ The rock moved aside a bit further but they were still unable to get out.

 

The third one said: ‘O Allah! I hired some laborers and paid them their wages except one of them departed without taking his due. I invested his money in business and the business prospered greatly. After a long time, he came to me and said: O slave of Allah! Pay me my dues. I said: All that you see is yours – camels, cattle, goats and slaves. He said: O slave of Allah! Do not mock at me. I assured him that I was not joking. So he took all the things and went away. He spared nothing. O Allah! If I did so seeking Your Pleasure, then relieve us of our distress.’ The rock slipped aside and they got out walking freely”.

[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

 

I’m sure this wasn’t a bedtime story. Our beloved Prophet was trying to teach us a timeless lesson through this Hadith. For in times of desperation, you’ll want to use every tool in the box. When you’re broken, weak and utterly desperate, trust me, you’ll want to use your secret righteous deeds to plead and beg Allah for help. And it will work, just like it did for these three men. But now, do we really have secrets with Allah good enough to get us through the bad times? Which one would you have related had you been in that cave? I’ve been asking myself this very question for God knows how long now and I’m still absolutely clueless! But that’s okay coz as long as we are breathing, there’s still time. There’s time to figure it out, to do more, and be more! And while I honestly have no idea what you did last year, I think I know what you will do from now on, and it involves greatness.

This is not the end; it’s the beginning of a new year crowned with amazing possibilities.

May it be filled with beautiful secrets….

 

Lilly S. Mohsen.

 

 

 

 

 

You’ll Be Surprised Today

Throwback hajj 2015

Day Seven Diary:

 

“Allahu Akbaro Kabeera…

Wal Hamdulellah Katheera…

Wa Sobhan Allah bokratan wa aseela…”

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

May Allah make it easier for us all…

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

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

Zzzzzzzzzzz

Huh? What?

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Have a wonderful blessed Eid….

I’ll miss you all so much…

All my love…

Lilly S. Mohsen 

 

The ‘Before’ and ‘After’ Click!

Throwback Hajj journey 2015

 

Day Six Diary:

Tick tock tick tock

It’s 8:35am and we are all counting the minutes till dhuhr prayer, which is when the most beautiful and glorious day of the year starts right here on mount Arafah. This is what we came here for, and this is why I paid extra charges for overweight luggage since the thousands of hearts I took with me didn’t fit in my purple carry-on!

 

Today is the day people! You’ll all be transformed and reborn by Maghreb prayer inshAllah.

Oh my God! You know what sounds like so much fun?

A before and after picture!!

You know when you’re all pale and geeky then you get a fabulous makeover? And then the picture is photoshopped and ho-ho! You’re as beautiful as the sun and moon put together!

Except today’s makeover is of your inner souls… Your Merciful Great Lord will delete the sins of your past by sunset along with all its regrets and mistakes. There’s no tricks or technology involved. It’s purely you…glowing with peace and blessings… As innocent as a newborn baby, with a chance to start anew…

The Before Picture:

Do you think it’s safe to whine a little bit before Dhuhr prayer? Coz I so need to take it out of my “before” drama-queen-system.

Dhuhr is at noon so we’re good for a couple of hours!

Okay, so we finished Hajj rites at the Ka’bah yesterday and ran to the buses to spend the night at mount Arafa. It’s so not a sunnah actually, but with the traffic nightmare, it’s better to be safe than sorry. A couple of years ago, a group of pilgrims got stuck on the road, they arrived at Arafat AFTER Maghreb! Like hello? Too late! They missed Hajj completely and had to redo it the following year.

Anyways, Hajjis stay in tents, one for men and one for women. We walked in and looked at each other with confusion, seeing there wasn’t enough room for all hundred women to sleep in, we realized “Uhm we have a problem!” It was after midnight and this was the only chance to get some sleep for another two days. So the plan was to take turns. Yes, you heard that right! There was a line up for sleep, just like the one outside for the bathrooms (not a correct term though. It’s actually just a toilet and a tiny drain, and if you wanna shower, I guess you stand on top of the toilet and use the shower head)

I met my lovely cousins here too, and they were so sweet they managed to save one single bed for both my sister in law and I.  Both of us crammed in a tiny bunk bed it felt like that movie “Honey I Blew Up The Kids!” We laughed so hard. I mean  it’s 100 degrees outside, the lights are on, there’s 40 women around you engaging in bedtime gossip, loud noises of cars and sirens, and about 4000 Mosquitos distributed evenly amongst us! Plus the line up outside.

(I told you I was gonna whine lol)

But sobhan Allah, even with all that, we still got some peaceful sleep, and now we can’t wait for dhuhr!

“Click”

Sorry, that was my camera taking the “before” picture!

 

Shhhhhhhh The Great Lord is descending to the first heaven…

Talk to Him… tell Him what’s aching your heart…. He is the most benevolent and the most generous…

Now go talk to Allah, He’s listening

 

The After Picture:

It’s 6:56pm and with the sunset of Arafah day, we have been reborn…

And there are no words to describe this feeling…

Everyone is so quiet and calm… Even though we have a long way ahead to Muzdalafa, and we’re extremely exhausted, everyone is smiling and praising the Great Lord…

Thanking Him for the luxury we take for granted back home…

Comfy beds, clean bathrooms, warm meals, shower gels and lotions!

And most of all thanking Him for giving us the means to come here…

And then inviting us to be His guests…

And even though we have done so much wrong, He’s giving us the chance to start a new page…

No wonder we are all smiling…

“Click”

That’s the “After” picture…

You can hardly see the faces: they’re all emitting so much pure white light…

You’ve been given a second chance… Take the right path and enlighten our world with every step you take…

Or take a wrong turn and..

You know what? Let me hang this picture on your wall. It will remind you daily that when you’re on the right track, nothing can go wrong…

When you’re with Allah, you’re more beautiful than the sun and moon put together…

 

Have a wonderful amazing Eid guys! I’m off to stone the stupid devil. Wish me luck!

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

Are You The One?

Throwback Hajj 2015
Published on On Islam

door kabah.jpg

Hajj Diary: Day Five

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

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

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

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

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

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

I saw it…

The Ka’bah…

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

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

How can I explain this?

If Madina is peace and serenity, Mecca is…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let them think what they want…

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

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

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

But here…

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s it…

For Allah to accept them as His salves…

I swear I feel so small and insignificant here…

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

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

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

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

Your heart…

So look inside it and tell me…

Are you the one…?

 

Your Hajj Representative
Lilly S. Mohsen

 

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