Tag Archives: happy

Day 25: 30 Good Deeds In Ramadan

 

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

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

 

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

 

All Levels:

 

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

 

Need a hint?

 

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Those outdated antique cell phones?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

 

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

 

Not sure who to give them to?

Well here are some ideas:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Egypt: http://resala.org/

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

All my love,

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final Episode: Inside The Therapist’s Office

Ted Talk

 

Inside The Therapist’s Office
Final Episode: Feel Your Life Purpose

 

A few years later…

February 3rd, 2016
San Diego, California
Ted Talk Conference: Ideas Worth Spreading

(Applause)

Zahra stood tall on the red-carpeted stage and said, “When I asked my sister-in-law about the upside of me being blind, she said “I can now roll my eyes at you anytime I want”’

The audience laughed.

“It’s strange really. My nickname had always been ‘Supa’ as in ‘Super girl’. My loved ones believed I’d accomplish something big one day and become an influencer. Only they didn’t know my journey to becoming an international motivational speaker and a best-selling author would start AFTER losing my eyesight. The night I got nominated to give a Ted Talk my husband, who is also my publisher, planned a secret celebration dinner and invited the whole town. I had no idea what was happening. Before introducing me to the curator, who was amongst the hundred invitees, my husband said “Honey, guess who this is!”

Zahra froze with a funny, puzzled look on her face.
I’m as blind as a bat. How would I know?”

The crowd cracked up laughing again, including her husband Ali, who was backstage watching her like a hawk. Ali laughed from the heart even though he had practically memorized his wife’s speech since he was the one helping her practice it for the past two weeks.

You’re probably thinking ‘wow, this blind girl is making jokes about her own disability, she must be really strong. Believe me, I wasn’t at first. A couple of years ago I lost my sight in a car accident and lost my faith along with it. I was angry at the world. I completely broke down. I broke things, broke up with my fiancé and then felt my heart break into a million pieces. I’ve been broken for a long time. I refused to learn how to deal with my disability. I steamed out on anyone who tried to help, and those who came to soothe me became my worst enemies. ‘What did they know about my struggle?’ I fumed. It was a constant nightmare I was sure I’d never wake up from. Try finding your way around the house blindfolded. Do you have any idea how difficult that is? Instead of leaving my room, I’d enter the closet. I’d spill drinks on the floor and slip on my own mess. I bumped into walls, broke glass bottles and used shaving cream on my toothbrush instead of toothpaste! Living in darkness became the reality of my life and I couldn’t accept it. I’m sure my therapist would have horror stories to tell you about my anger; she was practically my punching bag. It was a slow, tiring progress. And even though deep down I knew I wasn’t ready, I thought perhaps getting married would lessen my pain and speed up the process of moving on.”

 Sitting with the vast audience at the conference, I watched Zahra on stage and felt the tears of joy slowly roll down my face. I was very proud of her. She had come a long way in her therapy. Screaming, crying and talking about her feelings made them by time become less overwhelming and less upsetting. She owned her story. She realized losing her sight wasn’t her choice, but dealing with it was. And that was her first step to healing….

“I ran out on my wedding.” Zahra confessed. “I couldn’t actually ‘run’ anywhere, I just hid under the bed for an hour before my best friend found me…”

And sitting in the front row with her husband, Salma was genuinely proud of ‘Supa’ too. Seeing her on stage inspiring thousands of people truly warmed her heart. Zahra wasn’t only her life long best friend; she was also her beloved sister-in-law. Salma smiled at her husband Omar, who smiled back warmly, patted her very pregnant belly and whispered the words ‘I love you’, before turning his attention back to his twin sister whose presence lit up the stage.

 

“I was scared of marriage. I didn’t think I was good enough because of my disability. You know we all think we have big problems until we compare them with bigger problems. When you face your biggest fear, your small fears kind of fade out. I remember when my biggest fear was leaving home and being responsible for a house and a family of my own. This fear dimmed completely when I lost my sight. It felt like a death sentence, I thought nothing worse could ever happen to me, until I learned my fiancé got into an accident and almost died. My blindness didn’t seem like that huge of a problem anymore when I thought of losing the love of my life, even if I couldn’t see him, I just couldn’t imagine living in a world where he didn’t exist. I suddenly reclaimed all my strength and willpower and sent him a letter begging him to push through. I asked my sister-in-law to write it for me because I trust her…….. Blindly!”

Aisha laughed out loud. She came to the conference with her husband and her friends Lola, Sara and Helen, who, like her, were all wearing the Hijab proudly now, too. Aisha was working on acquiring a degree in marriage counseling to help struggling couples the same way her marriage counselor helped her and Ibrahim fix their relationship before suggesting they go on a second a honeymoon and thanks to Allah her life with him had been happy and peaceful ever since.

There are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. In that hour of hiding under the bed on my wedding day, I realized I was only pretending to be in the acceptance phase, when in reality I was still swinging back and forth between denial and depression. I wasn’t ready to start a new page yet, and to my surprise, Ali, my fiancé was very understanding and promised to wait till I was. We called off the wedding, I went back to blind school and started therapy full time. And Ali waited for me for two years…. Because….” Zahra’s voice crackled and she couldn’t help her tears. “In his heart he believed only I could make him happy. He didn’t care about my disability. He said it made him love me even more.” Zahra smiled and wiped her tears as the crowed applauded her while ‘awwwwing’ and ‘ohhhhhing’’ sentimentally. “Yeah, he’s not always that romantic though. Just so you know, we got married last summer, and since then, whenever he wants to get back at me during an argument, he simply rearranges the furniture!”

 

(Audience laughter)

“You know, life is hard. This is an inevitable truth. It’s once you accept this truth that life ceases to be hard. And it’s when I accepted my destiny, that my blindness stopped being a ‘disability’. Everyone has problems, and God never burdens us with more than we can endure. There were probably seven thousand things I could do before losing my sight. And now maybe that number has gone down to three thousand! But I’m motivated to do more now than I ever was when my eyes were functioning. The only reason life throws horrific traumas our way is because there’s an area that needs to grow. God took away my ability to see, but gave me the will to achieve so much more with all my other senses. He gave me ‘insight instead of sight’ and it was a blessing in disguise. It was also the title of my first book. And I hear it sold over 15 million copies!” Zahra smiled while the audience applauded her again.

“In Islam we have six pillars of faith; belief in one God, His angels, His holy books, His prophets, belief in the Last Day and belief in destiny (Preordainment). We skim through them and say we believe, but do we? To trust God in the light of day is easy, we can all do it. But to trust Him in the pit of darkness… that is true faith. Even if bad things happen, you must believe it’s God’s will and it’s always for the best. You must believe He’s protecting you from something worse. Losing my sight is a blessing compared to being completely paralyzed. Being paralyzed is a blessing compared to losing your loved one in war. And you know what’s so much worse than any trial you can think of? Do you know what is the scariest calamity that can happen in this life? It’s losing one’s faith and dying a disbeliever…. I believe every other problem and hardship pales in comparison.

 

We are only as blind as we want to be.
Our Lord says: ‘Indeed
It is not the eyes that go blind, but it is the hearts, within the chests, that go blind”
(Surat Al Hajj, ayah 46, Holy Qur’an)

So many people still have their eyesight intact, but do they really see the truth? Do they really notice the miracles around them and look at life from different perspectives? Does sight count when there is no insight?” Zahra asked. “They say ‘love is blind’ but I disagree. Anger is blind. Hate is blind. Bitterness, envy and despair are blind. Hopelessness is blind. But love is what keeps us going. It’s what keeps us strong. My love for my Lord and my unwavering faith in His promise is what helps me get through the day, because even in the worst of times, I remind myself whatever He wills is good.” Zahra said.

 

“In one of my therapy sessions, I was asked about whom I would trade my life with. And after much contemplation I answered ‘no one’. I really wouldn’t want to trade with anyone. I’m where I’m supposed to be…and I’m finally happy. May the Lord give us the wisdom to accept the things we can’t change (which isn’t easy) and may He fill our hearts with love, faith and light…. Amen. Thank you….”

  

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

Episode Four: Inside The Therapist’s Office

Office

 

Season Two: Inside The Therapist’s Office

Episode Four: Feel The Joy and Pain

 

“I still get ups and downs, even though the decision has been made.” Aisha sighed.

“Are you having second thoughts again?” I asked.

“No. The truth is, I used to look down on women who didn’t wear the hijab and those who took it off. I thought they were gonna burn in hell. But then the weirdest thing happened. The same veil I took pride in became the thing that suffocated me the most! Now I understand and sympathize. This piece of cloth can be your best blessing or your worst nightmare”

“That’s a strong statement.” I said carefully.

“I’m not going to take it off. I’m just saying it makes me feel depressed sometimes, and I’m already miserable enough thank you very much!” She twisted the wedding ring on her finger and then looked away.

“Aisha, this dinner is very important to my sister. My whole family is expecting you to be there. So please apologize to your friends and let’s not fight like last time.” Her husband sighed.

“It’s Helen’s birthday. I have to go! Lola and Sara will kill me if I don’t. Do you have any idea how hard it was to find a table at this restaurant? OMG it’s like the place to be on a Friday night.” Aisha exclaimed. ”I’ll catch up with you guys as soon as I can. And I’ll make up a very good reason for being late I promise.” Aisha added, too busy applying her makeup to even look at her husband.

The conversation didn’t stop there.
It never did.
They kept arguing until they were both yelling at the top of their lungs.

“What do you mean ‘what will my mom say’? Let me remind you honey, you’re the one terrified of her, not me!” Aisha snapped.

“Ladies and gentlemen please take your seats. Aisha’s daily nagging show is about to start” Her husband announced sarcastically.

“The truth hurts, I know” Aisha added bitterly. “Here’s another ugly truth. It’s not about you being religious. We both know you aren’t. The only reason you won’t allow me to take my hijab off is because you’re scared of your mother. She practically runs our life!” 

After about an hour of fighting, Aisha decided to cancel with her friends and join her husband’s family dinner. She was no longer in a ‘partying’ mood anyway. She just wanted to avoid his acidic vibe and hopefully be far away from him as possible.
Watching the numbers descend on the elevator screen, and her husband checking his phone for the millionth time, Aisha couldn’t help mumbling under her breath “I hope something happens that will make us NOT go”

“You know, even though social obligations are a big deal for him and he guilts me into wearing the hijab and acting the part of a very proper, pious couple; he does it with no real conviction or awareness. He’s always some place else even when he’s standing right next to me, always focused on his phone and his work. He dismisses my feelings when I tell him so many people make me feel small because of my hijab. He never compliments me or makes me feel beautiful. I’ve become a ghost he’s scared of yet doesn’t see. Sometimes I feel he’s so far way I start suspecting he might be in love with someone else! I’m exhausted I don’t know who I am anymore. I’m tired of feeling insecure at home and left out in public. I just want to blend in instead of being stared at, shunned and ignored. It’s making me become an angry, miserable bitter person. It’s making me become aggressive and ungrateful. Don’t you think this upsets Allah more than me taking off the hijab?” Aisha asked.

“You know which people have been ridiculed, shunned, ignored and made fun of? The prophets. Everyone loved and respected them, until they preached something different from what people wanted to hear and then hell broke loose.” I said.

“Who are we to compare ourselves to the prophets?” Aisha asked defensively.

“Nobodies. We can never compare to them. Yet, believing in Allah’s messengers is the fourth pillar of faith. Why do you think that is?” I asked.

“Because if we didn’t believe in them we would have rejected the message they came with commanding us to worship Allah alone.”

“True. Except Allah dedicated a big part of the Holy books to tell us their stories. Don’t you think that’s part of the message?”

“What do you mean?” Aisha asked.

“The prophets were the nicest people on the planet and yet they were called the worst of names, evicted and threatened.” I explained. “They’re human and they have feelings, too. Did you think this struggle was easy for them? They persevered and continued with their greater spiritual Jihad. So even if we don’t compare to them, at least we are obliged to learn from and emulate their great efforts.”

“Are you saying me feeling this way, rejected and belittled because of my attire, is part of my Jihad?” Aisha wondered.

“We don’t grow when things are easy, Aisha. We grow when we face challenges, for they aren’t sent to destroy us, they’re there to strengthen and promote us to a higher level. In a way, the fourth pillar says: ‘Don’t be afraid of being different, be afraid of being like everyone else.’”

 

“You know, I cry myself to sleep every night. I blame myself for the accident. I feel like Allah flipped the car to punish me. Or perhaps to remind me that life is short. I’ve never said this to anyone but I feel guilty all the time…”

Aisha lowered her head and went into a soft daze, as if she had unblocked something that melted her frozen heart and allowed the tears to finally flow down her face….

 

“If Allah wants to do good to somebody, He afflicts him with trials.” (https://sunnah.com/bukhari/75/5)” Zahra said.

“You’ve always been the ‘cup is half full’ type of girl, even after everything that’s happened. And I keep wondering, where do you find all this peace?” Aisha asked.

“We don’t look for peace Aisha, it comes to us. You’ll only find inner peace and true joy when you do everything from the heart…” Zahra replied.

“What if you can’t do it from the heart, Zahra? You know what happened changed me too. I know I should be more grateful. I know I should be more patient. But somehow, even though I’m trying, all I feel is pain..” Aisha cried.

“Maybe that’s a good thing. Rumi says: ‘The wound is the place where the light enters you. The cure for the pain is in the pain”. Zahra explained.

“I can’t believe how wise you’ve become. You sound like one of those famous spiritual speakers. Who knows? Maybe that will be your calling.”

“Maybe” Zahra smiled.

 

“I’ve learned so much from her. She’s the reason I’m here today.” Aisha confessed. “I used to be a better person before I went this numb. I wish I could regain my faith. I want to feel the joy she feels and see what she only sees.”

“You know what you’re feeling right now? This craving desire to be closer to Allah? Hold on to it Aisha for it comes by so rarely. In the wake of an extremely materialistic world, we sometimes forget to meet our spiritual needs. We pretend like the people we befriend and the things we watch don’t affect us but let’s face it, they do! And so our hearts crawl away from Allah bit by bit, we hardly even notice it till its too late. Hold on to this beautiful rare feeling of wanting to be better Aisha and try to recapture it. Recite the duas of the Prophets especially the ones mentioned in the Qur’an”

“Our Lord, let not our hearts deviate after You have guided us and grant us from Yourself mercy. Indeed, You are the Bestower.” (Holy Qur’an 3:8)

Recognition dawned on her face and I could see the tears of joy and pain shimmering in her eyes.

“Amen” She whispered. “I’ll see you next week inshAllah.”

The following day, my next client arrived on time for his session, and we spoke for a while before he burst out.

“How can you say this? Don’t try to sugar coat the truth, Lilly. You know just as well as I do, I’m the one who caused the accident!”
“I know you believe that and this is why you’re here, Ibrahim. To talk about it and analyze your feelings.” I said gently.

“I have! And you know what I’ve realized? The only thing worse than killing my baby sister….is not killing her.”

 

To be continued.

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

Season Two: Inside The Therapist’s Office

Office

 

Season Two: Inside The Therapist’s Office
Episode One

Feel The Love

 

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” She whispered sadly, pointing the gun to her head.  

“Noooooooooooooo”

 

 

“I’m sorry! I don’t know why I can’t stop laughing! You must think I’m a terrible person!” Salma leaned back in her chair and giggled. This was her second therapy session and she was still refusing to come to terms with her grief.

“I don’t think you’re a terrible person Salma. I’m more interested in what you’re thinking.” I replied. “Sometimes inappropriate reactions are a sign of denial. Perhaps you’re not fully absorbing what had happened to your best friend” I said slowly.

“What is there to absorb? One minute she was a bride-to-be and the next she was lying in a hospital bed circling the drain! And even though she survived, she’ll be living with a disability! She’s actually DISABLED!” Salma paused then cracked up again. “I know it’s not funny! I don’t know what’s wrong with me! I seriously need to stop laughing!”

 

Three months ago…

“SURPRISEEEEEEEEE” All the girls yelled when the bride-to-be walked into Salma’s living room.

“Oh my God!” She covered her face then whirled around to hug her best friend Salma with sparkling eyes full of so much love and gratitude. They called her ‘Supa’, a shorter ‘British accent’ version of her nickname ‘Super Girl’. No one knew how and when she got it, but given her kindness, smartness, talent, beauty and courage, it suited her perfectly. She really was a super girl.

“Tell us about him!”

“Does he have any brothers?”
“I hear he’s the hottest bachelor in the whole country!”

“When is the wedding?”

“I don’t know anything yet!” Supa giggled, her face flushed red. “He just met with my dad two days ago!”

“Girls come on give the blushing bride a break! The groom’s family is having a dinner party tonight, and of course I’m invited because you know, I’m her best friend and all!” Salma teased. “I promise I’ll take pictures and post them on their wedding website!”

“There’s a website?” Supa’s jaws dropped.

“Umm yeah! Now let’s get going. They’re waiting for us in the car. You don’t want to be late and get on your future mother-in-law’s bad side on the very first dinner!” Salma warned.

“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”.

 

“I still get nightmares about that car accident. The very same night Supa was thanking Allah for His blessings, she lost everything! She’s in such bad shape, no one is allowed to see her. Why? Why is life so messed up and cruel and mean?” Salma cried.

“It is, isn’t it?” I asked.

“I know I’m not supposed to ask these questions, but I can’t keep it inside anymore! The resentment is eating me up! Why does Allah punish good people and reward bad people? Like in college, the guys who used to drink and smoke and party all night, they were the cool and popular dudes! And the girls dressed in sleazy skintight outfits and had zero morals; they were seen as fun and sexy! And the worst part is good guys fell for them! How twisted is that? I know girls who have done the unspeakable with an array of different boyfriends in the past, and are currently happily married to rich, successful and decent men! Why does God let this happen and then call Himself Fair?”

“So you think if you had loosened up a bit or dressed provocatively, you would have been married by now too?” I asked cautiously.

“I wear the Hijab, pray, read Qur’an and do everything EXACTLY the way I’m supposed to do it! But it obviously makes no difference! I’m still invisible or unapproachable or even unmarriageable and it makes me feel rejected and lonely! I’m not saying I do all of this to land good suitors, but I certainly never thought being on the right path would turn them off either!”

“Why do you do it then?” I asked.

“Because I want to be a good Muslim! I want to go to Jannah! I believe in Allah and love Him but I’m not sure why He hates me so much! And why He constantly tests the believers with hardships and heartaches while rewarding the non-believers with fame, fortune and happiness! It makes me want to scream at the top of my lungs, WHY?! Why does God deny us even the tiniest sources of happiness? Why does He want to see us suffer?”

“Do you believe in the ‘Choco-Purpletine theory’?” I asked.

“I don’t even know what that is. How can I believe in it?” Salma snapped.

“I don’t know either I just made it up. But now, is there a chance that maybe the concept of God is also a fabrication and He doesn’t really exist?”

“No! I firmly believe in Allah and His existence. Nothing you say can possibly change that!” Salma replied.

“If you believe that Allah is Unfair, Unjust and likes to see us suffer then I’m sorry to say you don’t really know Him. And like you said, you can’t believe in something you don’t know. The first pillar of faith is ‘Belief in Allah’. Not just in His mere existence; but also in His lordship, His right to be worshipped alone and in His names and attributes. You say you do everything exactly the way you’re supposed to do it, except it doesn’t mean anything if it’s not from the heart. Like traffic rules, we do them exactly the way we’re supposed to do them. We stop at red lights because we are obligated to do so; it’s the law. Parking on the side to help an old woman or remove a blockage from the road; that’s humanity. Acts with sincere intentions are what purify our hearts and bring us real joy. That’s the difference.” I said.

Despite the unmistakable rage in her eyes, Salma spoke softly.
“I’m allowed to question, Lilly. Even angels questioned Allah when He created Adam. I just need to know, what did ‘Supa’ do to deserve this doomed fate? Why are good people always pushed to their limit? Look around you. Islamophobia, Muslims being shamed, banned and killed because of their beliefs, people defending and celebrating homosexuality. Cheating, adultery, terrorism, violence and death of innocent young souls have all become prevalent. In the face of all this heart ache and misery, why does Allah expect us to strive to be and do better?”

“Because this is the natural outcome of any strong belief; a constant endeavor to reach your goals. We are all fighting battles of our own, slipping in and out of physical, mental and emotional breakdowns. The few who survive and rise above are the heroes who change the world to the better. Look at the Prophets and companions.”
“Oh d, on’t do that” Salma protested, holding up a palm. “Those are unquestionably incomparable legends.”
“Okay then let’s look at modern day heroes. Martin Luther King overcame oppression because he believed in equality. Gandhi changed the world because he never tired from standing up for justice. 14-year-old Malala survived a shooting and is now one of the strongest proponents for education. These are all examples of people who stood up courageously in the face of torture. Their beliefs were strong enough to make a difference in millions of lives. How much more of a right does Allah, the Magnificent Almighty, have on the believers to stand up for their beliefs?

Allah says: “Do the people think that they will be left to say, “We believe” and they will not be tried? But We have certainly tried those before them, and Allah will surely make evident those who are truthful, and He will surely make evident the liars. (Holy Qur’an, 29: 2,3)

If it were easy, everyone would do it. Everyone would believe in God and be special, productive and successful. But it doesn’t work that way honey. Allah is Fair. This is what you sign up for when you aim for Paradise; being tested, tried and purified. You get what you work for Salma, not what you wish for. Faith isn’t merely a philosophy, saying we believe in one God and doing nothing to prove it. There’s a practical aspect to this concept; one we strive to achieve daily. We struggle, push boundaries, and hold onto ‘unseen’ reality. That’s the whole point. In the face of misery and tribulations, strong believers and heroes are born!”

“So you’re saying Allah allows evil only because good things will come out of it?” She asked, tilting her head.

“Exactly!” I smiled.

“What good could possibly come out of Supa’s disability?” Salma wondered.

“I’ll answer this question soon inshAllah, I promise. An act of God always yields positive outcomes. There’s no doubt about it.” I replied. “Tonight, sit alone with Allah and ask Him to show you. Ask Him for everything you wish for. It’s one of the most beautiful forms of worship, for it gravitates you towards Him even more and strengthens your belief. Because when you make du’a from the heart, you must believe Allah is listening. Otherwise you’re just a crazy person talking to someone who isn’t there!”

“True…” Salma walked out of my office completely captivated, I think she stopped blinking!

She went home that night and whispered a silent prayer.

It had to be silent; for no one knew the secret she’d been keeping from her best friend.

No one knew what happened was all her fault..

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

What Your Mom Never Told You

 

 

Mom day

Her face glowed with excitement as she handed me a very colorful (and may I add very tacky) invitation card.
“My friend is having a party this weekend! Can I please go?” My daughter asked, her heart beating so loud with anticipation I literally felt the walls crack.
“No” I answered calmly, my eyes still on my book.
“OMG why? It’s like THE party of the year! Mommy please!”
“I said no”
“This is so unfair!” My daughter ran to her room, trailing gigantic tear drops on the floor. “I’m never allowed to do anything I want.” She mumbled before locking herself to write about her miserable, prison-like life in her pink diary.

I sighed and closed my eyes… and the memories sneered back at me with a mean smile.

This is the part where an image of me today is distorted in a wave-like motion with twinkling background music and the title reads:

 

Twenty Years Ago…

 

“Mommy can I please go to my friend’s house this weekend?” I pouted (And I had mastered the puppy dog face at that time if you’d like to know!)
“No” My mom said calmly, still reading the newspaper.

“Everything is ‘no’! This is so unfair!” I cried as I ran to my room, trailing tears on the floor before taking my anger out in writing.

 

Dear Mrs. Diary…
Another horrible day in this prison my parents call ‘home’! Being a teenager sucks! I can’t wait to grow up and have a daughter of my own and believe you me, I will never raise her the way I was raised. I’ll be a fun, hip mom (like TOTALLY!) I’ll let her do everything and anything she wants! The rule in my house will be ‘there are NO rules!’. She’ll go out with her friends and have no curfews coz HELLO! I’ll trust her! We’ll stay up all night gossiping and eating chocolates and I’ll make sure her life is one amazing adventure! I’ll never badger her about grades. I’ll buy her everything she asks for and let her watch cartoons till her eyes fall out! I mean it Mrs. Diary so mark my words!
And then years later something happened to me. I became a mom…

 

Listening to my daughter cry in her room today made my heart bleed. But I know even if I explain till I’m blue in the face how I’m protecting her from bad influence, she will never understand. When I was her age I didn’t get it either. I guess by the time you realize your mother was right you have a daughter who thinks you’re wrong.

 

Oh mom, why didn’t you ever tell me…?
You never looked up from your newspaper coz you didn’t wanna see the hurt in my eyes. It wasn’t because you didn’t care…

You took the role of the ‘bad guy’, putting rules and making sure I’m disciplined because you were preparing me for the real world. It wasn’t because you enjoyed having all this power. In fact, it was heart-aching and tiring and the easiest choice would have been to say ‘yes’ to everything and hope for the best.

 

I wish you had told me how you stared at me while I slept, and how you begged God to give you my pain instead when I was sick. I wish you had told me how you masked your worry with an angry look when I was late, and secretly locked yourself up to cry when I was sad. All these strict rules make sense now. I wouldn’t have become the person I am today if you had let me do what I wanted to do back then. I just wish you had told me that you wanted nothing more in life than to enjoy me, but you put your needs aside and endured my resentment, because you had a bigger purpose; to raise me right as a proud, ethical and responsible Muslim who will keep your legend alive. I see so many men and women struggling nowadays and blaming their parents for their failures. I see confused grown-ups unable to differentiate between right and wrong, lost amidst vague principles and zero ethics. It scares me, but it also makes me fall in love with you even more, thanking God He picked you to be my mother, even though I didn’t deserve such a blessing….

 

Oh mom… Every time my daughter feels like a victim when I’m being too stern I just wanna run to you, go down to my knees, kiss your feet and cry ‘Mommy please forgive me”. This is so beyond hard! And with all the non-believers, peer pressure, social Apps, perverted Internet and shameless TV content that poison the youth’s minds, it’s even much more brutally challenging! I’m raising a beautiful unique gem who will one day make a difference in this world (inshAllah) and I will not allow the media, the spoiled ‘diva’ group of friends, the fear of being resented or even chocolates ruin that for me. I just WON’T!

 

To all the sons and daughters reading this, you’ll never know how it feels to have a part of your heart walk around in the form of a human, whom you’ll love unconditionally with every cell in your body. You’ll never understand it until you become a parent. Cherish your moms while you still can before time steals her away and you’re left with a void that no human on Earth can ever fill. Your mom is the only person in the universe who will love you no matter what you do and where you go. She’s the ‘safe home’ even when she seems hard on you, there’s nowhere to run but back to her warm embrace.

 

And for those who have said goodbye to their mommies, I will not pretend I understand your pain… but I do know that out of all people we Muslims know this: Just because you can’t see her doesn’t mean she’s not there watching over you…

Cheering you on and praying for you to stay on the right path….
It’s time we let our gratefulness to those great women in our lives bloom beyond their imagination. It’s time we drape our moms with love and prayers, and let them see how it was all worth it. For what your mom never told you is that she never really wanted anything in return… Just for you to be safe and happy… and given the chance she’d do it all over again in a heartbeat…

Happy Mothers’ Day to our guardian angels… May we never let you down, and may your whispered prayers never come from sadness or loneliness, but from joy, love and a lifetime of being magnificently proud of us…

I love you Mommy…

 

Lilly S. Mohsen