Tag Archives: Islamic

Day 27: 30 Good Deeds In Ramadan

DAY TWENTY-SEVEN: Is Tonight The Night?

 

No don’t worry, my biological clock isn’t that messed up yet loool
I’m meaning to post this a bit earlier than usual today coz this one is a deed of the heart, and who knows, perhaps tonight is ‘Laylat Al Qadr’ (The Night Of Power).
If it is, you’ll be so happy you read this today, I think you’ll be making cartwheels in Jannah loool

 

A little bit about Laylat Al Qadr?

Okay sure…

 

You know, centuries ago, people lived up to a 1000 years. I remember reading a story about a man who died in his 500s and his mom stood over his grave crying hysterically because he ‘died young’ looool (I know it’s not funny but I’m sorry it kind of is)

When that mother heard about the likes of us, whose averages lifespans is 80 years, her jaws dropped and she said ‘Why would they even come to the world? There’s no time to do anything”

 

“The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was shown the lifespans of the people (who had gone) before him, or what Allah willed of that, and it was as if the lives of the people of his community had become too short for them to be able to do as many good actions as others before them had been able to do with their long lives, so Allah gave him Laylat al- Qadr, which is better than a thousand months.” (https://sunnah.com/urn/407130)

 

The word ‘Qadr’ has multiple meanings, ones of which are:
Decree:
The night of great ‘decision-making’ by Allah, entailing mercy and love from Him to His slaves.
Honor:
The most honorable of angels (Jibreel) came with the most honorable of books (Qur’an) to give to the most honorable of messengers (Mohammad) on the most honored month (Ramadan).

Power:
Allah endowed this night with unusual power. This is the night we should have complete faith in the power of Allah to change things…
To change our destinies to the better…
To change our flaws and fate and behavior…
We ask Him to accept us, forgive us and love us…

 

And yet every year, even when we try to get so close to Him…
Some of us still feel so far away…

You’ll hear others cry during prayers, and see their blessed tears roll down their faces at the mention of Allah’s name

And then you’ll look yourself up and down, stare at your dry tearless eyes, and shake your head with disappointment

 

You might think you didn’t put enough effort…
You were too distracted or too flawed or just not spiritual or soft….

You’ll look at those who worship Him with reverence and silently start wondering if you’re good enough..
You’ll witness this blessed night and then start telling yourself
‘I tried… I tried so many times, but I don’t feel anything.. I’m not tearing up or getting shivers down my back or even feeling serene…maybe Allah doesn’t want me…”

 

Are you crazy? How can you ever think that?

 

You’re right there at the mosque, in His house!
I mean would you allow anyone to stay at your place against your will?

No one forced Allah to allow you to enter His house…
The mere fact that you’re there, wherever you are, on your knees before your Lord, begging Him to accept you, means He already did!

Allah is the Most Generous….
He will never say ‘Hey, what brought you here!’
No… He will actually bring you closer, like a loving mother warmly embracing her child, and He will say: just “Call upon Me; I will respond to you”

We don’t change suddenly…
We don’t become pious, righteous and have faces glowing with the light of faith at the press of a button.

It’s a build up
Of little random acts of kindness and good deeds…

When you sit alone and think of how Great and Magnificent your Lord is….

When you play with an orphan or feed a poor family…

When you put your family first, and help them out with chores, even when they don’t even notice it…

When you emulate the beloved Prophet (just because he’s so awesome)

When you feed a bird or help a homeless dogs on the street
Or take the time to absorb a verse from the Qur’an or learn a Hadith and get your questions answered…

When you make your parents smile…
Or do things from the heart for Allah’s sake…
When you give good advice
Or volunteer to help others
When you teach a child to be a proud Muslim
Or when you silently praise the beloved Prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him)
When you remember the deceased in your prayers, even though they’re not here to thank you…
Or when you’re grateful for Allah’s simplest blessings…

 

When you give compliments to gladden people’s hearts…
Or when you spend from what you love the most…

 

When you forgive others for His sake…
Or when you forgive yourself and promise to start anew…

 

When you visit your grandparents and listen to their repetitive stories…
Or when you make a du’aa for someone you don’t like, in an attempt to please your Lord…

 

When you take time out of your day to read a post like this one, hoping it might bring you even an inch closer to Allah…
Or when you realize that I just listed all the acts of kindness we did this Ramadan and keep it to yourself instead of yell out “You’re SO BUSTED!’ looool

 

So be patient with your Lord…
Be patient in worshipping Him….

The change doesn’t happen suddenly…

The tears don’t flow abruptly…

The goodness doesn’t come unnaturally…

It’s the outcome of building a relationship with Allah throughout the years…

So if you don’t feel anything tonight, it’s okay…
Keep investing, keep trying, and keep coming….
You’re still on the same path with all the other people you look up to…

Some are walking
Some are jogging
And some are running with amazing speed

But in the end they’re all on the same journey, heading towards the same destination…
Pleasing Allah

 

If tonight is Laylat Al Qadr, then smile and open your heart to the love, peace and angels surrounding you….

Just talk to Allah they way you’d talk to a close friend…
And don’t doubt it even for a second…
Because you are more than enough…
You’re accepted and sheltered in His mercy and care…

So tell Him all your secrets tonight…
Ask for everything you wish for…

And don’t forget to remember me and my family in your duaa please (maybe you’ll be the reason we do cartwheels in Jannah too)

 

May Allah bless you all
And since you’ll be supplicating to the Most Compassionate and Most Generous

May the most you ask for
be the least you get….
All my love,

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 13: Special Edition- 99 Reasons Why We Fast In Ramadan

  • Day 13: Teach A Child About The Miracles Of Fasting

Okay guys no time to waste

Get out your notebooks, pens and reading glasses.
Today’s good deed is a bit academic. This is important. We need to know our stuff.
Silence in the classroom please loool

You know, when children ask why Muslims fast in Ramadan or why God wants to torture us with thirst and hunger, they deserve a better answer than ‘We fast to feel the poor’

Like come on, who are we kidding?

A dinner table with lots of delicious hot dishes, cool yummy drinks, whipped cream covered desserts and ‘zombying’ out on the couch coz we can’t breathe after eating too much wouldn’t really convince a child we’re fasting to feel the poor.
They deserve real, logical, mind boggling answers to their question…
They deserve our investment in their knowledge of their own beautiful religion…
(And frankly we deserve it too! We need to know why Allah believes it’s ‘good’ for us to fast)
So without further ado, I present to you the Golden list of ’99 Reasons of why Muslims fast in the Holy month of Ramadan’
I tried to keep it as brief as possible, but of course I urge you to dig deeper if you need more information (that would be the advanced level for this good deed)

Here we go….

Health Benefits:

  • 1- Fasting speeds up metabolism
  • 2- Helps improve insulin sensitivity
  • 3- Fasting helps us lose weight (Sambousa-less and Konafa-less fasting that is loool)
  • 4- Fasting promotes longevity since it gives the body organs time to rest
  • 5- Fasting improves hunger by releasing the correct ‘hunger’ hormones and in turn fighting obesity
  • 6- Fasting improves the immune system since it reduces free radical damages and lets the body focus on healing itself
  • 7- Human growth hormones are released during fasting, facilitating fat burning and muscle gaining
  • 8- Fasting triggers a metabolic pathway called ‘autophagy’, resulting in cellular repair such as removing waste materials from cells
  • 9- Fasting promotes Gene expression (which are beneficial changes in several genes and molecules) protecting us against diseases
  • 10- Fasting reduces Oxidative stress and inflammation in the body
  • 11- Fasting can improve numerous risk factors for heart disease such as cholesterol levels and triglycerides
  • 12- Studies show fasting can help prevent cancer! (Yay!)
  • 13- Fasting also reduces the side effects caused by chemotherapy
  • 14- Fasting is a complex and complete detoxification system for the body
  • 15- Fasting has been proven to improve the senses of vision, hearing and taste
  • 16- Reduction of allergies is also one of the many benefits of fasting

Here is also a list of medical conditions improved by fasting (according to Dr. Fuhman’s Book ‘Fasting and Eating for Health’)

  • 17-Adult onset diabetes
  • 18- Acne
  • 19- Arthritis
  • 20- Asthma
  • 21- Atherosclerosis (if anyone knows what that is, please translate it to us in human language loool)
  • 22- Autoimmune Illnesses
  • 23- Benign Tumors
  • 24- Chronic back and joint pain
  • 25- Chronic fatigue
  • 26- Colitis
  • 27- Deterioration of the Musculoskeletal system
  • 28-Digestive disorders
  • 29- Eczema
  • 30- Hay fever
  • 31- High blood pressure
  • 32- Hyperactivity (Should probably let the kids fast more often so we can finally take those long baths)
  • 33- Hypoglycemia
  • 34- Inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease)
  • 35- Insomnia
  • 36- Lupus
  • 37- Epilepsy
  • 38- Osteoporosis
  • 39- Psoriasis
  • 40- Substance abuse and addictions (well, if you can get drug addicts to fast that is)
  • 41- Uterine fibroids
  • 42- Sinusitis
  • 43- SchizophreniaOkay sheeeeshhh! I have a newfound respect for doctors who use these words in their daily conversations. I’m already tired just typing them out loool

    Mental Benefits Of Fasting:

  • 44- Fasting is the most sophisticated will power workout ever (makes sense right? If you can’t control yourself, what can you control?)
  • 45- Fasting dissipates cravings for nicotine, alcohol, caffeine and other less harsh, yet addictive drugs.
  • 46- Fasting increases neurochemical levels in the brain such as ‘Dopamine’, the happy hormone that elevates your confidence to the roof!
  • 47- Fasting actually increases the number of brain cells so it literally makes you smarter
  • 48- Fasting increases clarity, cognitive functions and promotes your ability to make better critical decisions.
  • 49- Fasting encourages better motor skills functioning and precision
  • 50- Research has found that fasting improves the overall quality of your sleep
  • 51- Fasting increases productivity. Like Robin Sharma says ‘If you want to get more done, eat less food”
  • 52- Fasting regularly results in mental breakthroughs and increased free flow of intelligence and creativity

    Beauty Benefits

    (Girls, did you just scroll down to this one?)

  • 53- Fasting promotes glowing clear skin by accelerating the body’s self healing ability
  • 54- Fasting promotes faster cell regeneration, which means healthier nails
  • 55- Fasting leads to healthy shiny hair
  • 56- Fasting promotes faster healing of scars and wounds
  • 57- Fasting lowers stress levels, and stress is one of the main culprits for premature aging

    Emotional and Spiritual Benefits:

  • 58- Fasting boosts self-esteem (it confirms in our minds the notion of ‘YES WE CAN!’)
  • 59- Deprivation leads to appreciation, which is the root of joy.
  • 60- Fasting trains us to be mindful and consciously aware
  • 61- Fasting teaches us ‘delayed gratification’, a concept proven to be the number one element behind success in this world
  • 62- Practicing patience during the month of Ramadan adds to our personal growth and us attaining maturity
  • 63- Fasting provides tranquility and peace to the heart and mind
  • 64- Fasting is the method of moving towards self-realization and reaching ‘super conscious energy’. This explains how we can stay up all night praying, feeling spiritually charged even though we are food and sleep deprived.
  • 65- Fasting is described as ‘Spiritual Catharsis’ (Sort of like a reset button to restoring the soul)
  • 66- Fasting in this Holy month expels, discharges and vacates impurities within us to purify ourselves and connect with Allah (like a shower to the soul)

    Other Extremely Important Reasons:

  • 67- So yeah in simple terms we fast because Allah said so. Fasting in Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, without it our religion isn’t complete.
  • 68- Allah says ‘O you who believe, fasting has been prescribed to you as it has been prescribed for people before you so that you will (learn how to) attain taqwa’ (Holy Quran, 2:183)
    Attaining Taqwa (piety and fear of Allah) is the MAIN reason why we fast. It serves as a shield to protect us from sinning.
  • 69- Fating trains us to listen to our heart and make it the boss! (So when the heart s
    ays ‘lower your gaze dude’, or ‘stop gossiping girl, you’re fasting’, you’ll do it)
  • 70- Ramadan schedule encourages time management since every minute of the Holy month counts!
  • 71- Fasting teaches us flexibility. Even when we’re tired and cross-eyed, we still go to work and get things done under dire circumstances.
  • 72- And here it comes, finally, the most popular reason we all quote: Fasting helps us feel the suffering of the poor and hungry.
  • 73- Fasting strengthens faith! Even when we’re parched, cranky or just downright exhausted, we will still fast. And we won’t break it even when no one is around, because we know Allah can see us.
  • 74- In Ramadan, our sense of competition is heightened, especially with ‘who is at which chapter of the Qur’an’ kind of thing loool (or is that just me?!)
  • 75- The most beautiful ‘ummah unity’ happens in Ramadan. Two billion Muslims suddenly speak the same language, eat the same food for suhoor and even tell the same jokes (The “Ramadan is my favorite month coz I have a ‘date’ every night” tweets never get old loool)
  • 76- Which reminds me, when you follow the sunnah and have a ‘date’ for iftar, (the fruit of course!) on an empty stomach, you’ll gain multiple health benefits, since dates are rich in potassium, iron, minerals and nutrients. They’re the queens of all fruits.
  • 77- In Ramadan we pray Taraweeh together at the mosque. Do I need to list the amazing rewards of that? (Easy bonus point)
  • 78- In Ramadan, we are more likely to invest some time in learning about our religion. (Since we are right there at the mosque, we might as well listen to the shiekh’s lecture)
  • 79- And when you stand in line to pray next to hundreds of other people, you realize you’re just the same like everyone else. Ramadan is the month of unpretentiousness and humility
  • 80- Of course you’re not gonna get up and run outside right after prayer! You’ll probably say your ‘salams’ and ‘may Allah accept you’ and ‘what did you guys have for iftar?’ Praying together strengthens human relations since you see the same people every day, and get a chance to socialize with practicing Muslims.
  • 81- The month of Ramadan is a cure for loneliness. I’m pretty sure that’s the most time reverts can make new Muslim friends.
  • 82- You’ll see this the most with teenagers. Try telling them anything and they’ll debate it till they’re blue in the face, but when it comes to fasting, they do it calmly. Just proves how much fasting teaches us the most important skill of all: ‘acceptance’
  • 83- Ramadan is the month of generosity. We truly experience the joy of giving charity during this month, reminding us to do it more often, which benefits the whole society.
  • 84- The Holy month brings you closer to your family. And you know the saying, for a tree to grow high it needs strong roots…
  • 85- Ramadan is the month when the Holy Qur’an was revealed. Even Muslims who don’t touch their book during the year, will read it during Ramadan. It’s like an involuntary act, and yet it brings forth multitude of blessings.
  • 86- Since the meal of suhour is eaten right before dawn, Muslims follow it by praying Fajr (even those who aren’t used to praying it on time) And you know what the Hadith says: the sunnah of fajr prayer is worth the whole world and what’s in it.
  • 87- I know it’s an obligation, but because the Holy month is full of blessings, many Muslims are reminded or encouraged to pay their full zakat during that time. On a wider scale, such activity is good for the economy and when done regularly and promptly should prevent poverty in the Muslim world. (But you know..)
  • 88- Performing Umrah in Ramadan is equal to the reward of one Hajj (there you go, an extra gateway for those who didn’t get accepted for Hajj because Allah is so Kareem)
  • 89- Two billion Muslims taking part in the same ritual for a whole month is such a powerful demonstration of our power and effectiveness (maybe one day it will be used to change the world to a better place. Amen)
  • 90- Muslims know that fasting isn’t just abstaining from food, water and sexual relations. It’s also a practice of self-discipline namely by controlling anger. In essence, Ramadan is like a yearly anger management course.
  • 91- Since we completely change our routine, Ramadan is the best chance to adopt some new healthy habits and lifestyles. It’s like a head start for positive change.
  • 92- Allah promises us tons of forgiveness in this blessed month, In fact, whoever fasts the month ‘properly and faithfully’ will have all his or her sins forgiven. Ramadan is like a yearly chance for a clean slate with Allah (Doesn’t it just make you love Him more and more?)
  • 93- Now you wouldn’t ask and expect all these showers of forgiveness if you can’t forgive others, right? I mean that’s just rude!
    Ramadan is the month of mercy and forgiveness and it should make us better people, capable of forgiving one another
  • 94- Okay so you’re gonna forgive all these people and not yourself?
    The most person worthy of your kindness and forgiveness is ‘you.’ The Holy month comes every year to remind us of that little simple fact. Ramadan is the time to let go of the past mistakes and start anew…
  • 95- Which brings us to resolutions and stuff. Yes on New Years, many of us come up with a list of goals and pledges for the year ahead. But in Ramadan, the list is spiritual, related to our relationship with Allah, and our determination to be better Muslims and attain Paradise inshAllah. Ramadan is in a way the beginning of a new year for Muslims.
  • 96- We expect our kids to fast when they reach the appropriate age, even though it breaks our hearts to see them hungry and thirsty. But isn’t that the best training for us parents to discipline them? If we can deprive them of the means of survival like food and water loool, we can surely deprive them of what will spoil their brains and lives (like TV, too much candy, bad-influence friends and wasting time on Ipad games)
  • 97- For married couples only: Since physical intimacy is forbidden during the day, it makes spouses miss each other. Ramadan rekindles lost romance in marriages, don’t you think? (Insert innocent wink here loool)
  • 98- If you think about it, Ramadan uncovers the real meaning and purpose of this world. For when you live your life like ‘Ramadan’, your Hereafter will be like ‘Eid’ (Deep huh? Loool)
  • 99- And the finale….
    Dan Dan Daaaaaaaaaaaaa
    Laylat al Qadr: the night which is better than 1000 months. Worshipping Allah on that night is worth more than spending over 80 years (your whole life basically) worshipping Him day and night.
    What more could be said here?

So, when we say ‘Ramadan Kareem’, we actually mean it…

In 99 different ways…

All my best,
Lilly S. Mohsen

Day Ten: 30 Good Deeds in Ramadan

DAY TEN: Happiness is Homemade

Nutella Konafa Cone By CleoButtera

Nutella Konafa Cones By CleoButtera

 

What?
No, for real, this is homemade.
Would I lie to you? In Ramadan? About chocolate? NEVER!

Turns out some uniquely talented people like ‘CleoButtera’ can actually whip this up in their own kitchens a couple of hours before Iftar*. Just like that! MashAllah!

Do you guys know what the ultimate definition of happiness is? (Other than Nutella of course loool). It’s having something to look forward to everyday. And when we’re fasting, the most thing we look forward to is some home-cooked goodness.
Slow roasted chicken with gravy, Butter pouched shrimps and creamy four-cheese spaghetti. Crunchy Konafa drizzled with heavenly sweet syrup….

If you think about it, this isn’t just food, it’s art…
Delicious, mouthwatering, scrumptious art!

Any yet sometimes (especially when we’re fasting and cross-eyed-drained) we forget to appreciate the artists (who are fasting too by the way). We forget there’s a lot of hard work involved backstage. The people who cook this food spend most of the Holy month in the kitchen! Either preparing the food, rummaging through cookbooks and blogs for new recipes, shopping for missing ingredients, planning menus, or worrying whether the food will be enough, especially when the kids decide to invite 20 of their friends 5 minutes before Iftar!

A couple of days ago I was watching an Arabic series about this group of people stuck on a deserted island. Oh my God, their struggle to find food alone is a nightmare. They had to climb 70 feet trees to get coconuts, then learn the lost martial art of ‘Taekwondo’ to break them open. Some had to figure out how to fashion sharp spears out of tree barks and use them for fishing, which took all day, besides the hours it took to clean the fish and start up the fire to grill it on. And yes, they only had fresh seawater to drink, wild and poisonous animals to keep them company and no bathrooms!!!

Makes you look at your life differently huh?

Thank God we don’t have to go through all of that to eat a single meal. But some of us still must worry about, saving money, getting Halal meat, defrosting, marinating, frying and making good use of leftovers. It’s not a nightmare but it’s not easy either. I promise you it’s not!

As much as those food artists love feeding their families, and as much as they enjoy cooking, it’s still a huge responsibility and a load of effort, especially when you’re standing over a boiling pot of stew on a hot summer day, with cranky kids tugging at your apron and asking ‘how long till Iftar’ every 34 seconds.
(I’m not exaggerating; I’m actually toning it down loool)

Day Ten is here to celebrate our ‘Kitchen Heroes’. To let them know how much we appreciate every minute they spend making our food with love. And to humbly confirm that yes, chances are we would starve to death without them or go bankrupt ordering take out!

Beginners Level:

Never underestimate the power of compliments. Say something sweet to the person cooking your food and make yummy noises while you eat. A little gift would go a long way too. (Just do it. You’ll thank me for it later. You know, on the Day of Judgment when you realize how heavy it is on your good deeds scale). Feeling appreciated and acknowledged is probably the best feeling in the world. It’s really all what anyone needs.

Advanced Level:

Roll up your sleeves and get in there.
Help out for one day! One meal! One dish even!
Do you know how hard it is to peel and cut onions? It’s the kind of task that would reduce a grown man to tears looool.
Just ask the person who cooks your meals ‘How can I help?’.
This simple act of thoughtfulness in a world where everyone is so selfish and self-absorbed is a rare gift in itself. Even the people who supposedly ‘care’ the most, will ask how you’re doing then run before you could even answer loool.

It’s sad but true..

Ramadan is the Holy month of kindness, generosity and consideration….
So be there for your loved ones, and appreciate their efforts and their existence in your life while you still can….

Special Level:

Oh so you’re the ‘Kitchen Hero’?
Honored to meet you!
Well, I don’t really have a task for you today, just tons of appreciation and gratitude.
How about you sit this one out? You’re rewarded for every little crumb you feed a fasting Muslim anyway, so that should do it. Don’t be greedy loool. Let others pamper you for a change…

Ramadan Kareem guys.
All my best,

Lilly S. Mohsen

* Check out Cleobuttera.com for some amazing mouthwatering recipes. Mind blogging to say the least. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Day Four: 30 Good Deeds In Ramadan

 

DAY FOUR

So in the name of holding back from over-sharing ‘personal’ stories, I’m spinning today’s piece around a little bit.

Today is all about you.

We’re closing in on the forth day of Ramadan, and perhaps its time we paused all this panic about what we’re gonna cook for Iftar, how the kids will fast during final exams, how we’re already drained and why we can’t eat ‘konafa’ without gaining weight!
It’s time to direct our attention inwards
Tell me….

Are you feeling the peaceful essence of the Holy month yet?

Or are you still adjusting between what you wish to become and what you’re currently stuck at?

Do you feel like you’re involuntarily riding an emotional roller coaster, taking you up to the highest levels of spirituality and calmness and then whoooshhh down to the lowest levels of agitation, making you take your anger out on your loved ones at the slightest word?

Were you soothing everyone around you? Telling them how much you love Ramadan and how people are blinded to the immense blessings of it, only to find yourself losing your temper and defying your own theories when put in a tough situation?
It’s okay, don’t be offended. You can be honest with yourself. We all do it and we all hate to admit it.
Are you being the best you can be?
Or are you giving yourself excuses because what you’re feeling or going through?

Only you can answer this question, for this is perhaps the ONLY time of year when you need to take a closer look in the mirror. You can’t blame your faltering on the devils (Duh, they’re tied up, remember?) and you can’t blame it on the long fasting hours because hello, everyone else is fasting too.

Everyone has problems and everyone has pain and everyone is struggling in his or her own way.

It’s a hard pill to swallow; realizing how you behave in this month, is essentially the ‘best’ version of you. This is as good as it gets. And yet it’s far from what most of us aim for.
Deep down, on some level, we all know we could do better, right?

This is your task for Day Four.

Raise the bars and aim high. Try to rewire your brain and your heart to be in constant progress from this day one. And the best way to do that is to go back to basics, and relive the life of the ideal model we should all aspire to emulate, our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him). Listen to his hadith:

“Whoever revives my Sunnah then he has loved me. And whoever loved me shall be with me in Paradise” (Tirmidhi)

 

Love

Here are some Sunnahs we REALLY need to bring back to this world:

Beginners Level: Choose at least one of the following acts with the intention of showing love to our prophets.

Advanced Level: Do as many as you can and try to cmmit to them for as long as you can

  • SMILE (we know you’re cranky and fasting, but still, crack a smile every now and then for God’s sake)
  • Try using the Siwak
  • Eat only when hungry and never leave the dinner table full (yeah good luck with this one in Ramadan LOL)
  • Try Cupping (Hijama) as a healing method
  • Drink in three sips
  • Drink while seated down
  • Sleep on your right side
  • Have dates for sohoor (dates as in fruits, I gotta be specific on this one, you know, just in case LOL)
  • Always say ‘Salam’ when you enter your house, even if no one is there. The angels are, and they’d like to be acknowledged.
  • Speak good or keep silent (don’t we all need this one)
  • Use oil on your hair (I’m pretty sure its olive oil but let me get back to you on that)
  • Brush you bed sheets three times before going to sleep
  • Pray the Sunnah prayer
  • Eat with your right hand

 

I’m sure there are many more, but now the main point is that we there’s so much we can do and yet we choose not to do it.
Promise yourself this Ramadan things will change inshAllah.
You’ll do what you can, as much as you can, whenever you can.

Good luck guys

All my love

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

Episode Three: Inside The Therapist’s Office

Office

Season Two: Inside The Therapist’s Office

Episode Three: Feel The Way

 

“There’s someone in my head, but it’s not me” Omar confessed.

“What’s that like?” I asked curiously.

“Like a horrible nightmare. I live my life pretending to believe in something I’m not sure I truly believe in. And unfortunately, I’m a horrible liar!”

“Why would you lie about your beliefs? You’re a grownup now, and I’m sure you can decide what’s right and what’s wrong.”
“Because I’m confused and I don’t wanna hurt my loved ones anymore. I’m killing them slowly, one by one” Omar added sadly.

 

She sat near the window, relishing the warmth of the sun. Even though she hadn’t said a word, Omar was positively sure she knew he’d been standing behind her near the door just staring silently. She just chose to ignore his presence, like she’s been doing for the past few weeks.

“You look different” Omar finally broke the silence.

“I feel different” Zahra said, still not looking at him.

“I’m sorry for what I did” Omar whispered softly.

“For what? For challenging Allah and nearly getting us all killed?”

“Zoe I know you blame me for everything that happened. I don’t know what to do to make it better. What can I do for you to forgive me?” Omar asked.

“I was angry when I said those things.. I lost my faith for a while but now, I see things differently, and I wish you could too.”

“I do”

“No Omar, you don’t. What happened made you angrier at Allah and more confused. There’s a war raging inside you. You’re asking me to forgive you but you know what you really need? You need to forgive yourself first.” Zahra said softly.

 

Omar turned around and covered his face with his hands. And even though Zahra couldn’t see the tears streaming down his cheeks, she knew her words touched his heart.  

“If you really love me Omar, help yourself.” She said. “You’ll find the card on the table. Please go see this therapist. That’s all I’m asking.”

 

 

“Are you angry at Allah?” I asked Omar.

“I am” He replied. “And I know it hurts Zoe more than anything she’s been through. She’s probably scared I might go to hell”

“Well, no one other than Allah knows who is going where” I said calmly.
“Exactly. Thank you! You just made my point for me. Why create us if He already knows who is going to Paradise and who is going to Hellfire? Isn’t this a form of sadism? Why give me a functioning, logical brain and then torment me for using it to question the unseen? I really want to know!” Omar asked.
“What do you think would have been a better scenario?’

“An obedient creation that doesn’t analyze or go against His will. A creation that worships Him alone and isn’t put through the test of a lifelong search for the truth that might easily end with eternal torture!” Oman snapped.

 

“He already created this type: The angels” I replied. “They do what they’re told, worship Him day and night and have no willpower. And then Allah created humans, and gave them the choice to believe or not, making them superior to the flawless, sinless angels.”

“So you’re saying in the test of life, everyone has a fair chance?”

“Depends how you look at it. When Med-students for example sit for their exams, don’t they all have a fair chance to pass or fail?” I asked. “Or do you think fairness necessitates they all become doctors whether they’ve earned it or not?”

“ No of course not. But students have textbooks to study from and plenty of time to learn and practice.” Omar barked.

“And so do we. The original scriptures of Torah, Gospel, Psalms, and the Qur’an were sent to humankind as guidance. This is why belief in the books is the third pillar of faith; because Allah is fair. He would never test humans without revealing the truth clearly first.”

Omar pondered silently, trying to open his mind to the other side of the argument

“You see, elite colleges and universities expect straight A’s. They expect a lifetime of dedication and perfection. If a doctor, a lawyer or a judge for example makes a big mistake they might lose their license, and their careers and reputations would be ruined for life. But Allah is Merciful and Kind, He doesn’t expect perfection. He expects progress, good intentions and for us to purify our hearts. He expects us to seek the truth, learn from our mistakes, help each other and worship Him alone. And once you read the Qur’an with the humility of a student, and not with the scrutiny of a doubtful critic, the truth will manifest as clear as the shining bright sun.”

“I read it, yet sometimes I’m appalled and confused by all the harsh rules and warnings. Why does Allah have to remind us of His punishment? Why can’t His words all be about good rewards and about spreading love and peace?” Omar asked.

“Do you stop at red lights? Even if no one is looking?” I smiled.

“Umm yes”

“Why? Is it because the police give out bouquets of red roses to those who do?”

“No” Omar laughed. “Because I’ll get a ticket if I don’t”

“But why are there laws and penalties and jails? Why can’t the government give us all a nice pep talk about the glory of peace and harmony and then leave us to our own devices?”

“That’s absurd. You can’t keep order without strict laws…. Okay I get it now.” Omar smiled knowingly.

“Just because Allah is compassionate and merciful, doesn’t mean He won’t be Just and Fair. Without the laws prescribed in the Holy books, humans would literally behave like animals and chaos would prevail. Those who follow Allah’s commands and those who don’t cannot be equal.“

“But now if I’m skeptic about the Qur’an for example, does that make me a non-believer, even if I believe in God?” Omar asked.

“I’ll answer your question with another question. Do you think if you had seen the sea part for Prophet Moses, or had witnessed prophet Jesus raise the dead and cure the sick, and denied those miracles saying ‘nah, I don’t buy it. This must be magic or an illusion’, would that have made you a non-believer?”

“I guess so. Denying miracles is a form of doubt or disbelief.”

“Exactly. And the Qur’an is also a miracle. It has baffled scientists, doctors, historians, nutritionists, philosophers, linguists… you name it! The list goes on.” I explained. “Except you can’t take the miracle in slices; say you believe some verses and deny others. If you think about it, belief in the Qur’an strengthens your faith.”

“How?” Omar asked with genuine curiosity.

“You see when you stop your car at a red light, you do so because you fear punishment. It’s more of an obligation. But when you stop your car to help someone in need, that’s a humane action of the heart. Exactly like our religion. It becomes a hollow shell if we just mindlessly perform all our rituals like praying, fasting and reading Qur’an in a hurry. But when you ponder on Allah’s words, and follow His rules out of love, that’s the true meaning of humanity. You can memorize every word and carry all the knowledge in your head, but what really matters is the belief and knowledge in your heart….”

“You sound like Zoe. We were having a similar discussion in the car, one that ended badly. Very, very badly..”

 

“I’m sick of hearing this Zoe! You don’t need to be religious to be a good person.” Omar said, fiddling with his annoying seatbelt.

‘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.

“That is so obnoxious. It’s like me saying ‘I hope you’ll eventually find your way away from God!” How would that make you feel?” Omar complained.

“It’s okay if you have doubts.” Zahra explained. “As long as you believe there is One God and He’s the only Judge.”
“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 boasted.

 

“I don’t know if I can ever forgive myself for what happened next. How did I challenge the Lord? What was I thinking?” Omar wept. “I didn’t mean what I said. I wanted to take it all back the second the words came out of my mouth, especially when Zoe gasped in horror and went completely pale. At that moment, even though she wasn’t dead, I saw the life leave her beautiful eyes slowly…”

Omar left with a broken heart, but perhaps that’s what also opened it for the light of faith to come through. Sometimes the worst heartaches are just blessings in disguise.

“Everyone is blaming Omar for the accident.” Aisha, my next patient said, tensing her shoulders and refusing to make eye contact with me. “The truth is, it wasn’t his fault at all. It was mine..”

 

To be continued…

Lilly S. Mohsen