Tag Archives: Islamic

Episode 2: Acting Out As A Self Defense Mechanism

Defense Mechanism

 

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

 

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

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

“Do you mind telling me again?”

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

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

“No.”

“What else did you do that night?”

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

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

“Yeah?”

“Did you?”

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

“Alffie is Alfred. The butler, correct?”

“Yeah”

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

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

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

“Ummm Avengers?” Hamza stuttered.

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

 

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

 

A couple of months ago

 

“Dude this is good stuff” Hamza slurred.

“I told you” His friend winked.

“Honey did you remember to…”

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

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

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

“Do you need any help?”

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

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

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


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


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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

That same evening

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

“You’re such a child”

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

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

“Who’s the child now?” Jenna teased.

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

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

“That’s a possibility yes…”

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

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

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

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

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

“Actually….. There was…..”

 

To be continued….

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

 Author’s Commentary

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

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

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

“Sara’s getting on my nerves again”

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

“Sara is always taking advantage of my kindness.”

“I shouldn’t say anything I might regret”

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

 

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

Self Defense Mechanisms Explained

‘Who Are You Defending?’
Prologue

 

August 29th, 2017
Originally Published on Productive Muslim

 

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

 

Defense Mechanism

Self Defense Mechanisms Explained

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

(Surat Ar Rad, Verse 1, Holy Qur’an)

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

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

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

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

‘Nothing changes if nothing changes’.

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

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

We must stop escaping…

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

We need to stop attacking and defending…

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

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

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

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

 

Who Are You Defending…?

Stay tuned…..

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 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