Tag Archives: kindness

Day 22: 30 Good Deeds In Ramadan

DAY TWENTY-TWO: It’s What You Love The Most

 

Here’s a random conversation with one of them ‘cool’ teenagers
“So what’s your plan for being successful?”
“Become famous”
“Famous for doing what?”
“I dunno”  Icon Face

 

To be fair, probably most of us have shared this ‘becoming-a-success-story’ dream at some point in our lives. We probably hunted down any ‘easy’ tips or ‘fast-track’ tools that could get us a step closer to realizing our goal. I remember I was only 10 when I asked my mom,

“So what’s the BEST thing I can do to be the BEST?”
“Spend from what you love the most”
“Huh?”

 

I SO didn’t see that one coming. I thought she’d use this opportunity to guilt me into keeping my stuff organized or to make me quit teasing my siblings. But no, she quoted this verse:

Never will you attain the good [reward] until you spend [in the way of Allah] from that which you love. And whatever you spend – indeed, Allah is Knowing of it.” (Holy Qur’an, 3:92)

Of course at that time, ‘that which I loved’ was chocolate.
(Still is, but you know). And I remember kicking myself, like WHY? Why did I have to ask? looool

Your turn.
What is it that you love the most?
It should be something other than money, because hello, money is a given in most scenarios, since it’s what we use to buy the things we love.

Is it food? (Probably an automatic answer by those of us still fasting loool)
Flowers? Cars? Perfume? Books? Puppies?
That expensive watch or laptop or Play Station ‘number OMG-newly-released-yet-exactly-the-same-as-the-one-before-it?’
That family-heirloom Meringue Pie recipe you keep in a fireproof vault?
That beautiful pearl necklace that goes with everything you wear?

See? It’s not so easy.
And that’s why it’s the biggest test of faith, because putting Allah first is the surest path to goodness and success in both this world and the Hereafter

When Abu Talha (one of the Ansari companions) heard the above verse, he gave up his ‘Bairuha’ Garden to charity, which everyone knew and he also admitted was the most beloved garden to his heart. (Bukhari)

When Prophet Solomon sensed his beloved horses were distracting him from worship, he got rid of them all. And they were a vision! They were gorgeous, purebred, Arabian horses if you’d like to know.

Prophet Abraham was willing to give up what he loves the most for the sake of Allah… When asked, he was willing to sacrifice his only beloved child Ismail…

 

If you had to…
And if the One who holds your life in His hands wills it, would you give up your desires, dreams, wealth, pleasures or loved ones…?

Would you sacrifice your Ismail…?

 

Your Merciful Lord did not ask you to do all of that. He doesn’t want to break your heart, He just wants to make you stronger.
He wants to empower you instead of letting you get desperately attached to material things.
And He never asked you to give up everything you love. Just a small portion of it.
Would you do that for His sake?
Beginners Level:

Ho-ho don’t start down playing or suddenly rearranging the list of ‘your most beloved things’ now. There’s something you own and cherish so much you’d rather not give it up, and that’s exactly what you need to share and spend from. No cheating loool
It could even be your time!
Advanced Level:

Use the ‘Ripple Effect’ theory, because 28 years later, I’m pretty sure, since it was my mom who taught me it, she’s getting double the rewards for every time I spend from what I love (You’re welcome mommy, any time! Just please don’t pretend like you don’t know me when you reach the highest levels of Paradise loool. InshAllah)
Guys, be smart! Teach this to as many people as possible. Instill it in your kids. When you get them Eid presents, get an extra one (just as good), and then ask them to pick one to give away for charity.
The sound of their brains going 100 miles an hour and their obvious predicament will break your heart.
But it will also make you super proud.
Muslims don’t just give away their left overs or ugly, unkempt belongings and call it a day!

We are people who love for our brothers and sisters what we love for ourselves.
Even if it feels like you’re giving a piece of your heart away when you share your last KitKat.
(Or anything you love for that matter)
It’ll open your heart…
It’ll teach you what ‘true love’ really means…
And it will be the BEST thing that ever happened to you…
Simply the best…

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

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Day 20: 30 Good Deeds In Ramadan

DAY TWENTY: The Power Of Advice

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seriously?!

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

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

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

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

Beginners Level:

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

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

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

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

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

 

Ramadan Kareem guys
See you tomorrow inshAllah

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

 

Day 18: 30 Good Deeds In Ramadan

 

DAY EIGHTEEN: Count Your Compliments

 

Raise your hand if you know this hadith

“A good word is charity” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Okay that was easy.
How about mmmmm let’s see…
Yes this one:

“Guard yourselves against the Fire (of Hell) even if it be only with half a date-fruit (given in charity); and if you cannot afford even that, you should at least say a good word.” (Al Bukhari and Muslim)

Seriously? Even this one?

“Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him say something good, or else remain silent.” (Sunan Ibn Majah 3971)

Since you guys already know all these hadiths then I have a bone to pick with you! (and with myself as well since I raised my hand in all three lool)
Why don’t we do it more often? Why do we make it sound like giving compliments is reserved for sweet talkers or ‘users’? Why is it so hard to do for some of us when, according to the above hadiths (the ones you all confirmed you knew very well) saying good words and giving compliments are:

1- considered charity, which is basically a profitable investment in your Hereafter.
2- an extremely important tool in Islam it’s even equated with ‘guarding ourselves from the Hellfire’
3- not even an option, since we obviously believe in Allah and the Last Day. We are obligated to either say good words or to HUSH

Compliments


Why giving compliments is such a big deal in Islam:

According to one study done at the National Institute for Physiological Sciences in Japan, receiving compliments activates the area called ‘striatum; which in the brain, triggers as much social reward as being rewarded with money.
There’s actual scientific proof showing praise as being a catalyst for better ‘skill consolidation’.
And it makes sense.
Good words have the power to spread positive energy. An appreciated person will almost always do their best to maintain that amazing feeling. Compliments can change the nature of relationships, fix marriages, boost children’s self esteem, raise productivity levels at work, and can benefit the whole society with its ripple effect.
That is when they’re given properly and sincerely of course.
Otherwise they backfire and are a complete and total fail!

You see, for my act of kindness I complemented a stranger at the mosque.
“I really like your abaya” I smiled.
She looked me up and down, frowned, then looked the other way.
What did I doooooo?
Suddenly I was the one needing soothing loool.

But I didn’t give up. I tried again.
And since I wasn’t doing well with strangers, I decided to compliment my own people. Starting with my nephew.
“Ali, you look sharp this morning
“I just woke up. I didn’t even shower yet! What’s going on?”

There’s a difference between compliments and lies! The kind words you say must be from the heart, otherwise they’ll never reach the heart. Instead, you’ll be known as a ‘hypocrite’, a ‘fake’ or I don’t know, ‘Pinocchio’ loool.
Compliments are meant to train us to look for the good and the beauty in people.
To focus on their strengths and not their weaknesses.
Compliments are like giving gifts to others without expecting a reward.
And guys, listen up, Allah knows your intentions and He knows what goes on inside the head of your head! Compliments are NOT to be used as pick up lines or a means to flirt. None of that ‘Oh so did it hurt when you feel from heaven?’ kind of thing, you hear me?
Coz chances are, no it didn’t hurt!
Her dad caught her.
And he’s really strong
and SCARY!
Loool

Okay, time for today’s act of kindness.

Beginners Level:

Spend the day complimenting others. And even if they’re not amused, please don’t be discouraged. Some people aren’t used to hearing kind words. Others are just shy (I remember years of mumbling irrelevant words whenever someone complimented me!)
Even if you don’t mean it, keep practicing. Compliment people on their smiles, their skills, their outfits, their left nostrils!
Anything at all. Practice makes perfect. Don’t worry, it will eventually evolve from the heart…

Advanced Level:

Monitor and evaluate yourself.
We all think we give loads of compliments, but do we really?
Be aware of your conversations and try to squeeze in the good words any chance you get. Compliment the poor and the less fortunate.
Because sometimes one word can change someone’s whole world…

And while we’re here, let me ask you for a little favor…

Can I please have your recipe for being so fabulous? : )
Ramadan Kareem
See you guys tomorrow inshAllah

All my love,

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

Day 17: 30 Good Deeds In Ramadan

 

DAY SEVENTEEN: Grow Through What Others Go Through

You never know when it might happen….
Where you would be or how you’d react…

It was almost 4am.
I had just finished praying Fajr (after swallowing two very much needed sleeping pills), checked on kids and finally closed my eyes, to takeoff to dream world.
It wasn’t long before the high-pitched ringing sound of my phone zonked me right back to reality.
My heart pounded louder than cranes drilling through brick walls. I picked up the phone shivering. It was my sister.
“HELP! My house is on FIRE!”

Think about it about for a minute, will you…?

Because we are all a car accident, a kitchen fire, a blood test, or even a phone call away from becoming completely different people..
The homeless, the bedridden terminal patients, the girls who were brutally raped, the innocent prisoners and the burn victims..
They all could have easily been you and me.
They didn’t ask for it. They didn’t see it coming. They couldn’t have prevented it. And they never thought they’d suffer for years, all for one unpredictable incident.

Because you never know when it might happen….
Where you would be or how you’d react…
You never know what the future is hiding for us, and no matter how hard we try, we can’t prevent the unknown.
Only Allah can….

Beginners Level:

Prayers and paying it forward. Those are the two paths to peace.
When you’re down on your knees begging Allah for the things you need.
Asking Him to take your pain away.
Asking Him to forgive your sins and fill your life with joy
Remember to thank Him and ask for the biggest blessing of all…
Prevention.

Make sure you stay on the right track. Make sure you pay it forward by helping those in need, any way you can, so Allah can help you when you need Him the most…

Advanced Level:

Perhaps you can’t prevent calamities or problems, but you can surely be part of the solution.
You can help put an end to even ONE person’s suffering, or give hope to someone who’s hanging on by a thread.
This is a personal request to try save burn victims, with the intention of being saved from the Hellfire (God forbid)

We don’t have to wait to be knocked down before we can stand up.
Let us grow through learning from what others go through.
And instead of being scared of suffering, let’s take part in the miracle of healing.

Here’s how…

AhlMasr Burn Victims
Donate to one of the following Burn Victim Rescue Channels
Burn Rescue Online: http://www.burnrescue.org/
Children’s Burn Foundation: http://childburn.org/
Egypt’s Burn Unit http://www.ahl-masr.org/donate-online

I know this post is a bit intense and so out of the blues
You’re gonna have to forgive me for that because there’s a Eid surprise for those who do loool
But maybe reading this today is a blessing in disguise
Because we all have fears, and this is your chance to ask Allah, the Most Merciful, during these blessed nights, to please not test you with trials involving your worst fear.
It’s a chance to beg Allah to prevent the ‘worst’, and that alone is probably one of the ‘best’ blessings…
May Allah protect us and all our loved ones
Amen
 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

Are You A Pushover? (Why Small Equals To HUGE!)

Published On Productive Muslim
June 30th, 2015
This is the original version

Are You A Pushover?
Why Small Equals To HUGE

Pushover

“You’ve become a doormat Lilly! You let people walk all over you, drain you and use you! And because you have the memory of a tiny gold fish, you never know when enough is really ENOUGH! Think of yourself and stop being such a pushover!”

Oops I’m sorry you had to hear that. Don’t mind my friend, she’s been a little cranky lately. Believe me that kind of anger usually stems from an insane amount of pain. Sometimes when people repeatedly get hurt by their loved ones, they end up shielding their hearts, terrified of getting hurt again, and refuse to submit to their compassionate natures. Slowly they become numb. They convince themselves that ‘strength’ is synonymous with ‘not caring’, when in fact it’s the exact opposite. A wise man once said, “Love and compassion are necessities not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”

I understand why my friend steamed out like that, I actually hugged her instead of getting upset. Plus she makes the best chocolate desserts in the entire universe, so I really can’t afford to lose her LOL. (Yeah, newsflash: I’m obsessed with chocolates!)

I’m also obsessed with quotes, especially the ones based on Islamic teachings. Squeezing a relevant quote in the middle of a conversation makes me feel smart for some reason, I don’t know! Here’s another life-changing quote by a man named ‘unknown’ (See how smart I am?)

Watch your thoughts for they become words

Watch your words for they become actions

Watch your actions for they become habits

Watch your habits for they become character

Watch your character for it becomes your destiny

This statement is pure psychology, proven, tested, dissected and written about in hundreds of books. Come, I’ll show you…

The Definite Pattern:

“How can caring for others give me joy if no one cares about me? This theory is NOT true!”
A disapproving thought quickly turns to doubt or denial.
Thoughts turn to words.

“I’ve got my own mess to deal with so get out of my face!”
The negative thought is voiced out with anger to attack or repel others.
Words turn to action.

“You need to be selfish to survive in this jungle! Toughen up like the rest of us or you’ll be eaten alive!”
Justifications are given till discouraging yourself and others from helping the needy becomes effortless.
Actions become habits.

“Let others figure out how to get by, their problems can’t be our problems!”.
Loss of compassion changes a person. It leads to neglectfulness of our pure and kind inner beings.
Habit becomes character.

“A charity event? Man that’s good publicity! Make sure you take a picture of me hugging the sick kids and those sad wrinkly old people!”

Sometimes the only interest in kindness is shown  is under the spotlight, where it’s time to show off how great and loving we are. Fakeness tarnishes genuine bonds of love and leads to a gruesome destiny.

Everything becomes about ‘you’, while you withhold the chance to put a smile on someone else’s face, even if it cost you nothing at all, thinking:
Why should I? I’m not a pushover!”

 One Thing Leads To The Other:

Denial of truth à Repulsion à Discouraging people from helping othersà Negligence of our purity and inner goodnessà Showing Off à Selfishness to the point of withholding costless kindness à A miserable woeful life.
Hmmmmmmm interesting theory….

It’s not just the quotes. Take a look at the teachings of all the best-selling self-help books circulating millions of copies around the world. Their authors are celebrated professors, doctors and scientists. They spent years researching, studying and observing before cracking the code: The source of your happiness stems from making others happy. That’s pretty much the gist of it. But 1400 years ago, a blessed prophet who wasn’t a psychologist or a neurologist or a sociologist or any kind of ‘-ologist’ conveyed the Holy words of Allah, describing the same pattern that defines us till this day….

“Have you seen the one who denies the Recompense?

That is he who repulses the orphan (harshly),

And does not encourage the feeding of the poor.

So woe to those who pray

Who are neglectful of their prayers,

Those who make show [of their deeds]

And withhold [simple] assistance.”

(Surat Al Ma’un, Chapter 107, Holy Qur’an)

Don’t Underestimate Those Simple Acts

Just like abuse and bullying can have negative long-term effects on the society, where those in pain ‘pay it back’ with more hurt and anger, kindness can and will do the opposite of that if you ‘pay it forward’. We all have the humanity and compassion ‘gene’, and I just love the word ‘withhold’ in this Holy chapter because it perfectly describes how we suppress our kind-hearted natures when we deny the reality of this life. We forget we are all connected, and that the joy you spread will eventually find its way back to you. Life is a chain reaction. You and me have the power to conquer poverty, hunger, disease and wars by causing a ripple effect with one good selfless deed.

So the next time you pass by a poor homeless woman on the street and avoid eye-contact because it’s ‘awkward’; try pausing your busy life for a minute to ask “How can I help?”. We are the slaves of Allah and we have an important job to do people! We gotta help one another. And now is the best time to start coz guess who’s coming to town? The Holy Month Of Ramadan! SURPRISE! (I was gonna keep it as a secret but I couldn’t hold it in any longer LOL)

The 30-Day Kindness Challenge:

We plant trees to overcome pollution, take vitamins to beat fatigue, vacuum the house to clean the dust… it makes sense to conquer the negative with a positive, and what’s more beautiful than a fresh batch of hope to revive this Ummah? Investing in small acts of kindness this Ramadan should be our ultimate goal. Let’s show the world what Islam is and defeat the hate with love and mercy. It’s effortless, simple and free. You make someone happy which makes you feel better and makes the world a better place. Win. Win Win. This isn’t just about the mega bonus of Ramadan’s multiplied rewards! (Actually it SO is, who are we kidding?)

Here’s a list to get you started:

For Your Lovely Parents:

  • Thank your mom every day for the food she cooked and make yummy noises! (Cooking while you’re fasting is not easy! Trust me)
  • Ask your dad daily “What can I do to make your day better?”

For Your Precious Grandparents

  • Umm hello! Call and visit them! Make them feel special before they’re gone.

For Your Spouse and Children

  • Hide a note with a funny joke or compliment in your kids’ backpacks or clothes.
  • Text your husband or wife saying ‘I Love You’.
  • A minimum of three hugs a day for each member of the family (I’m serious! Sometimes all we need is a warm embrace)

For Relatives, Neighbors and Friends

  • Send flowers (or Konafa) to a distant relative with a card saying “Just a little something to make you smile”
  • Mown your neighbor’s lawn or wash their cars.
  • Tell your friends how much they mean to you and make du’aa for them.

For Co-workers and Other Professions

  • Bring homemade cookies to work (with chocolate chips please!) Don’t worry, we will save them till after Iftar!
  • Praise clerks, assistants and workers and thank them for their hard work.
  • Leave a nice comment on articles you enjoyed (Uhmm Hint Hint)

For Absolute Strangers

  • Greet people with a smile (It’s a sunnah for God’s sake!)
  • Give up your seat for an elderly or a pregnant woman.
  • Hand out balloons to kids on the street

For God’s Beautiful Creations

  • Leave a bowl of water outside for the birds. (That’s when I had to explain to my son why animals don’t fast)
  • Make Tasbih (glorifying Allah) outdoors. Trees, insects, even the mountains and soil will join and bloom. (Does that sound weird?)

For Those In Dire Need of Ma’oun:

  • Leave a couple of colors and coloring books in the waiting room of a public hospital.
  • Do some fun story telling at an orphanage and bring them toys or snacks.
  • Share a meal with a homeless person and sit with them on the ground.
  • Listen to someone who is sad or lonely.

The ideas are endless. Just doing one simple act of kindness a day without expecting anything in return can truly change the world, and is beyond joyful and fulfilling. It’s in fact the number one reason behind success, inner peace and sound sleep! Helping others feel better is simply the meaning of happiness because…

“Is there any reward for good other than good?” (Surat Ar Rahman 55:60, Holy Qur’an)

So believe in your Lord’s promise, have compassion, pray from the heart and invest in those simple acts of kindness during this blessed Holy month.

And if that makes you a pushover, well….

Consider yourself the luckiest person on Earth for being one!

Lilly S. Mohsen