Tag Archives: productive

Day Five: 30 Good deeds In Ramadan

DAY FIVE

4 down, 26 to go!
So which chapter of the Qur’an did you guys reach?
I’m ashamed to admit I’m a bit behind schedule. I hear about people who finish reading the whole Quran 32 times in Ramadan alone, and I’m like “HOWWWW!”

Anyways, so today I had the most amazing dessert after Iftar. My sister makes the BEST chocolate cake in the entire universe! (MashAllah). Except, the weird part is that even if you follow the recipe EXACTLY step by step, it never turns out this good! The cake she makes is a little piece of heaven; your faith in humanity is literally restored with every bite.

I talk comfortably about my chocolate addiction because I like to believe my lovely readers accept me for who I am, with my flaws and my severe ‘nochocophobia’ (which is the fear of running out of chocolate. Hey! No judging in the Holy month).

It makes me wonder about everyone else’s irrational fears, especially the ones who can’t really express it, like babies and pets, plants and/or people with special needs.

I was looking outside my window today, saw the birds on the trees and couldn’t help but feel a little bit selfish. We are sometimes so unaware of our surroundings. There are so many untold stories around us, so many neglected lives. We never really stop to think about these creatures, about what scares them, what they’re missing and what makes them twitter happily.

And so I came across a beautiful hadith where one of the companions narrates: “We were on a journey and during the prophet’s absence, we saw a bird with its two chicks; we took them. The mother bird was circling above us in the air, beating its wings in grief. When Prophet Muhammad returned he said. “Who has hurt the feelings of this bird by taking its chicks? Return them to her” (Sahih Muslim)

Ya habib albyyyyyyyy ya Rasoul Allah
(That’s me gushing and marveling at our beloved Prophet in Arabic).
He’s SO considerate and caring and loving, he doesn’t even wanna hurt a little bird’s feelings.
That’s how our hearts are supposed to be…
So here’s your Day Five’s act of kindness:
It’s doing something good for the creatures that can’t tell us their stories, but have feelings, fears and hopes just like us…

Beginners Level:
Go out of your way to feed or take care of an animal today. It could be as simple as putting breadcrumbs and a bowl of water on your window for the birds.

Advanced Level:

If you’re a pet owner, do something extra special for it today.
If not, think about adopting a pet, or help those stray animals on the street by taking them to the nearest shelter. You have NO idea how much you’ll be rewarded for taking care of a helpless, homeless animal. Remember the story about the loose woman who had all her sins forgiven and went to Jannah just because she gave water to a thirsty dog on the street? This could be you! (Not the ‘loose woman’ part of course. I meant the ‘Jannah and forgiveness’ part!)

Hope you guys have a blessed night…

See you tomorrow inshAllah

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

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Inside The Therapist’s Office: Episode Five

Office

She dragged her feet into my office and reluctantly handed me a small bag of pills.

“I must say I’m very proud of you Maggie!” I smiled.

“I’ve been clean for a year, 4 months and 26 days, and yet every time I’m feeling down I still think of drugs! Like they say ‘once an addict, always an addict’, right?” Maggie smiled sadly when I offered her a cup of water. Tears of regret flowed down her face silently, as she remembered how it all started…

 

“Umm hello? Dump him!’ Tanya said, rummaging through her fridge.
“He’s my husband! We have a child together and I love him!” Maggie replied.

She’d been staying at her friend’s house for the past three days. Maggie was trying to put pressure on her husband, hoping he would take her seriously and start realizing there were two people in this marriage.

“He hasn’t called which means he’s already made his decision! How can he possibly think I can do it alone? I can’t!!” Maggie cried.

“I told you he’d leave one day because you’re too conventional Maggie, it’s boring! You need to loosen up a bit and have some fun! You’re still too young for this heartache!” Tanya said, “Here take this!”

“What is it?” Maggie asked.

“It’s a magic pill… it will make all your problems disappear…” Tanya smiled wickedly. 

Maggie knew exactly what the pill was, but she ignored her better judgment and took it anyway! Day after day she went on the ‘drug escapade’ until pretty soon she was completely strung out! Mortified at what had become of her, Maggie’s family shipped her off to a rehab facility a couple of months later. And by the time she was released, her husband had left, her friends had abandoned her and her child was treating her like a total stranger.

Maggie was shaking when she looked up at me. “I stayed in rehab for three months! It was a nightmare, but at least I was getting better! Now that I’m out in the real world, it’s a constant struggle to stay strong! It’s so hard to stay away from that ‘high’ especially at times when you feel so ‘low’ ” She said.

 

“I love how you summed up the three types of adversities in life;

1-Staying steady in times of turbulence,

2-Staying away from sinful pleasures in times of weakness

3-Staying sane enough to see the light during our darkest times.

 

It’s not easy, Maggie! Whoever says otherwise is either lying or is not human! Think of drugs as all kinds of sinful desires people yearn for and you’ll see how every one of us is struggling too!” I said. “It starts with an instinctual alarm sound, like the one you disregarded when you took that first pill. At times of weakness, we go against our own belief systems because of a strong ‘pull’; be it forbidden pleasure or passion, peer pressure, loneliness, temptation… whatever the trap is, we’re drawn into it through either doubts or desires. The doubtful thoughts are hopefully cured with Islamic knowledge, but the desires, those need special training, like boot camp!” I smiled.

“What do you mean?” Maggie asked.

“Patience doesn’t just come naturally, Maggie; it needs practice and training!

For the three hardships in life we spoke about, we desperately need three shields:

  • Patience to stay on Allah’s path
  • Patience to restrain ourselves from sins
  • Patience during the hard times..

 

Lose one of those three guards and you’re a prime target for Satan to lead you astray! Without extensive training, you’re literally a sitting duck!” I joked.
“Where can I find this ‘Patience Boot Camp then’?” Maggie asked.
“It’s in your mind, body and soul. And your heart is the strict coach keeping everyone in line. The forth pillar of Islam is all the training we need. Every Ramadan we practice the three types of patience and win the battle against our weaknesses and desires! The fact that we can stop ourselves from ‘halal’ acts like eating and drinking, is enough proof we can surely restrain ourselves from doing ‘haram’. We’re a lot stronger than we think Maggie!” I said. “So no, once an addict is not always an addict! Allah is more Merciful and Kinder than to put us amidst temptations without the proper tools to fight them! Now, if you don’t want to change, no one can help you, but if you do want to change, nothing and no one can stop you! Don’t tag or label yourself. Allah forgives all our past sins in Ramadan so we can get a chance to start anew after 30 days of vigorous self-discipline and training.” I said.

 

“I remember now. Every time I would ask my nanny why she was always fasting, she would relate this hadith.” Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said.

“Fasting is a shield or protection from the fire and from committing sins.”(http://sunnah.com/bukhari/30/14)” Maggie reminisced. “I was a spoiled child and a trouble maker sometimes, but my nanny…. She never gave up on me! She loved and took care of me. Even after my dad kicked her out, she didn’t treat me differently! Perhaps you’re right, some people do master the art of patience…. Those are the people who change lives, for last year she had surely changed mine….”

 

“Eat something sweet heart! You look like a ghost!” Her nanny said. She served her a bowl of soup and stared lovingly at the daughter she never had.

Maggie had never stopped visiting, making sure she brought groceries and meds and anything else she thought her former nanny might need. She couldn’t imagine her life without this old woman who came to replace her late mother. She only babysat her on weekends, yet had given Maggie more care and softness than she’d ever known.

“When are you coming back?” Maggie asked. “The house is not the same without you! It’s like a morbid grave!”

“Aren’t you a bit too old to have a nanny?” The old woman joked.

“Don’t change the subject. I know exactly why you left, and I’ll never forgive my dad for what he has done to you! He’s horrible!”

“Manners Maggie! You must respect your parents no matter what they do!” Her nanny scolded.

“I’m sorry. I just feel so lonely now. My dad has been miserable lately, my son hates me, my husband is gone and my friends are scared of me! I wish I had a ‘person’ you know? Someone who can be there for me and lift me up when I’m down…Like a sister or something.” Maggie said sadly.

Her nanny was silent for a long time; her mind had obviously drifted far away. When the old woman finally woke up from her temporary haze, she took Maggie’s hand and headed to the door.

“I’m not going to watch you wither away! You need to get checked by a real doctor! You’ve lost so much weight you look like Popeye’s wife!” Her nanny said.

“God you’re old!” Maggie laughed.

 

The old woman took her to the clinic to see Dr. Miller, and then made a lame excuse for why she couldn’t accompany her inside, which was weird, given it was her nanny’s idea to come see this doctor in the first place.

 “What can I do for you today?” The young nurse asked after introducing herself and checking the filled-in medical chart.

“Oh I’m just here for a routine checkup with Dr. Miller” Maggie replied.

“Very well then! Let’s get started” The nurse nodded.

“Thank you Miss ummm… I’m sorry I didn’t get your name” Maggie said.

“It’s Hannah…”

 

 

To be continued…

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

Inside The Therapit’s Office: Episode Three

Office

 

“Your next appointment is here” My assistant announced.

“Al Salam Alaykom Adam!” I greeted the grumpy teenager. “So how was your weekend?”

“Yeah, whatever!” Adam spit out. “Let’s get this over with!”

 

He sunk into the chair across of me and took out his earphones, totally uninterested in what I had to say. “What’s your wifi password?” He asked.

“Listening to music, ha? Why don’t you put it on speaker and we can listen together” I suggested.

“I thought you were an Islamic psychologist! Isn’t listening to music ‘haram’ like everything else in this world?” He mocked.

“Well… that’s one way to look at it. But now if everything is ‘haram’ the word ‘halal’ wouldn’t exist, now would it?” I smiled.

“Cut it out! We both know I’m here only coz I got suspended! So how about you tell me what it is I need to say or do for you to sign this slip. I can’t miss the finals this year! My gramps promised me a sports car if I graduate high school!”

“What about your parents?” I asked.

“What about them? They’re cool either way! I wouldn’t know really. I hardly see them….” Adam shrugged. From the innocent look on his face, I could tell his mind had wandered far back into the past….

 

“I said I want my mommy!” Little Adam stomped his feet. It’s been six days in row now, and his nanny was honestly too tired to come up with cover stories on why his mom had disappeared.

“Go watch TV till your dad comes. He said something about taking you out for ice cream!” She sighed.

 

“Hey buddy, what you watchin’?” Adam’s dad walked in three hours later.

His dad had been weirdly nice and attentive this past week, Adam thought.

Ten minutes later he found out why….

“Listen Adam… Something came up. I’m gonna have to move to a different country for work. But I promise I’ll try to come see you as much as I can!” His dad explained.

Adam soon discovered ‘as much as I can’ actually meant ‘a couple of days every other year’. His dad was a workaholic. He lived and breathed for his job, neglecting everything else including his beautiful lonely wife and only son. He figured showering them with gifts would make up for his non-existence. Sadly, Adam’s dad had no idea the more money he gave, the emptier his family felt inside….

 

“Mom! Wake up! I need you to sign my report card!” Adam said. “Come on, I’m late for school!”

“Let granpa sign it!” His mom slurred.

“Why?” Adam asked. He had secretly wished his mom would see it and praise him for his good grades. Fifth grade is hard you know!

“Coz I said so!” His mom snapped.

“Good one mom! You should be a lawyer!” Adam stormed out.

 

She was either sleeping, watching TV or out with her weird friends. His mom was obviously not interested in motherhood, so why should he worry about being a good son? You know what? The hell with it, he thought! Adam quickly went from being a straight A student to being an A class bully, surrounded by corrupt friends and hardly passing his tests. The school principle was one of the few people who believed in Adam, and was devastated to see such a bright talented boy spiral out of control. He was given another chance on one condition! He must seek therapy….

 

 

“Where do you see yourself in ten years Adam?” I asked when he put his I-pod away.

“Successful! Rich! Travelling around the world on my private jet” he replied.

“But do you have a plan to make those dreams come true? I’m sure you know how the saying goes. ‘Your future is created by what you do today, not tomorrow’” I added.

“I dunno” Adam shrugged. “But I’m sure I’ll find a way! I always do!”

“Okay I’ll tell you what! If you can tell me the three ingredients of success, I’ll sign this slip and you’ll be free to go! Pretty sweet deal, no?” I challenged.

“Just like that?” He asked suspiciously.

When I nodded, Adam walked to the big white board and started scribbling , before listing them all beautifully. I knew the seed of knowledge was in there somewhere.

 

  • Time:
    Successful people have one thing in common. They respect each tick of the clock! They’re never late, never waste time and their schedule is perfectly managed and organized. If they have an important meeting, they make sure they’re there before it starts.
  • Practice with Passion:
    Successful people are fully dedicated to their goals. They’re focused, consistent, and determined. They’re always practicing and reviewing to stay on top of their game.
  • Humility:
    Successful people are respectful and humble enough to learn.

 

I crossed my arms and stared at Adam, hardly able to control my proud smile.
“Yeah, I read a lot!” He said, blushing a little bit.

“Well, since you turned out to be a genius, I have a couple more questions!” I added.

“But that wasn’t part of the deal!” Adam complained.

“Well, now it is, so sue me!” I said. “Do you pray?” I asked.

“Sometimes!” Adam replied. “My gramps drags me to Friday prayer every week!”

“What if I tell you that you’ll never be successful if you don’t pray!” I asked.

“I’ll prove you wrong!” Adam replied. “Lots of people don’t pray, yet they roll in piles of money! Many have received awards, or have the coolest jobs, or have so much power and they don’t even pray!”

“If success is another word for wealth and power, then would you consider the drowned Pharaoh successful?” I asked. “Us Muslims, we know better! Success is is true joy inner peace Adam, and no money in the world can buy you that!”

“But what does praying have to do with that?” Adam asked.

“When we fail or make a mistake in our job, we tend to avoid our boos, or the person in charge. And when we fail in life, when we sin or go astray, some of us abandon prayer coz they’re too ashamed to run to Allah. But only those who want to succeed have the perseverance to keep trying. Only successful people are never late for their most important meetings in their lives; ‘salah’, they practice their faith with passion and they stand humbly before their Lord. Those are the ingredients of success in this world and the Hereafter, and that’s why it’s the second pillar of Islam and the essence of our faith. Without this connection to Allah, we have no identity whatsoever!” I said as I signed the school slip and handed it to Adam.

“That’s it?” He asked.

“You can watch success from far or you can become it! It’s your choice.” I said.

 

Adam walked out towards what I’m sure would be a bright future inshAllah, for one cannot un-see the truth after seeing it so clearly. I went home feeling so peaceful, and came back to the office the next day all bright and shiny for my next appointment.

 

“Leave the door open, please” I instructed my assistance, before my patient started relating his story.

 

“I have the perfect life! And yes I pray five times a day! I’ve reached my goals! I have a loving family, more money than I can count, fame, wisdom, health… you name it! I’m the billboard ad for success! All my dreams came true yet my life is a nightmare! I have an invisible illness no one can diagnose! You say you help people find their path to peace and happiness? I have found it and I’m STILL SO UNHAPPY!” My patient slammed the desk violently.

“Okay, take a deep breath Mr. Ramzy. Calm down” I said.

“Don’t tell me to calm down! FIX IT!” He yelled.

 

 

To be continued….

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inside The Therapist’s Office: Episode One

Published on Productive Muslim
9th June, 2016

 

Office

Fidgeting with her fingers, it was obvious she was very agitated. And why wouldn’t she be?

Sitting here with a complete stranger talking about your worst fears, your sordid past and shattered dreams. It takes a toll on a person. We’re trained to run away from scary things, but today, this anxious woman was asked to face and stare at her fears while sipping herbal tea with her therapist.

“So you mentioned you stayed up all night ‘googling’ your symptoms. Did your research yield any results?” I asked.

“I kept waiting for the word ‘cancer’ to flash on the screen. I’m going crazy! I’ve seen twelve different doctors so far and they all insist I’m physically healthy and should seek therapy instead!” Hannah replied. “So here I am!”

“I suppose since your scans and labs came back clean, your doctors had to explore other options to find the source of your sickness. But now the question is, do you trust they all did their best to help you?”

“I don’t trust anyone!” Hannah crossed her arms and looked away. “I learnt my lesson the hard way, a very long time ago….”

 

He was her high school sweet heart and the love of her life. They got married as soon as they both graduated and after years of feeling like a stranger in this world, Hannah was finally happy, like she had finally found a safe home. Nothing mattered as long as they were together. With no financial support from neither of their families, they both worked hard to make ends meet. But as years went by, the stress burst their beautiful love bubble and left them dangerously exposed to the sharp edges of responsibilities and frustration, especially after her husband got laid off, and Hannah had to take extra shifts waitressing at a restaurant to pay off their debts.

“Can you at least acknowledge the fact that I’m speaking to you?” Hannah sighed during dinner.

“I’m hoping if I ignore you, you’d get the point and shut up!” Rasheed scoffed. “You make it sound like I’m the lazy idiot husband who’d rather stay at home and watch TV instead of find a job! I AM trying Hannah!”

“But it’s been eight months! I’m exhausted! I thought it was the man’s job to take care of his wife! You’re obviously following the footsteps of your father!” Hannah yelled.

The few words they exchanged turned into another huge fight, ending with Rasheed throwing his glass cup at the wall and storming out. Hannah sat motionless in the corner staring at the floor. That’s exactly how her dreams looked like now; shattered into a million pieces like this broken glass. It wasn’t until sunrise when Rasheed came back home that she finally realized; it wasn’t love that held them together anymore. It was fear. The tremendous fear of losing him and being all alone.

 

“Didn’t we have stew yesterday?” Rasheed asked still half asleep. That’s all he seemed to do lately; out all night and asleep all day.

“Yes! I’m sorry! But until you find a job we need to tighten our belts a bit and start saving!”

“Am I in the mood for your nagging shift? Ummm no!” Rasheed said sarcastically.

“We barely buy anything yet we run out of money by mid month! Where does it all go?” Hannah asked.

“I can’t do this anymore. I’m outta here!” Rasheed got up to change and leave.  

Walking away was what he did best. This wasn’t the man she fell in love with. He even looked different! He’d become depressed, irritable and scrappy, and she had been patient for way too long and now was the time for a serious talk! Enraged by his carelessness, after a couple of hours of him ignoring her calls, Hannah grabbed her purse and rushed outside to find her husband. But she took a fall down the stairs and ended up in the hospital instead.

 

“He didn’t know I was pregnant” Hannah cried softly, as I handed her another tissue. “I lost the baby and the doctors informed me my injuries affected my reproductive system and it would be impossible for me to have anymore children. A couple of months later, Rasheed left too. I lost everything! I suffered for a long time; I almost gave up on life completely. Until I got married again a few months ago, and I can’t help but think what will happen when if he leaves. I just don’t feel safe! There’s no one in my life I can truly trust and depend on! I don’t wanna die alone! I’m scared! All the time!”

“You’re right! Trust is life! Without it we’d go insane. But it’s not something we give regardless of the circumstances; it’s very pragmatic depending on the situation. You trusted your ex-husband to take care of you, but he let you down, since he wasn’t working. You trusted him with something he wasn’t capable of doing. Now that you’re married to someone else, perhaps you trust him to take care of you, but you don’t trust you can rely on him forever. You can trust a loved one with one thing but not the other. It doesn’t make you suspicious, or paranoid, it makes you SMART and proves you possess wisdom! I mean sure your current husband can run a whole company for example, but would you trust him to fly a plane or give you a new haircut?” I asked.

That’s when Hannah finally smiled.

“Trust is the secret to life, Hannah. Without it we would all feel paralyzed. If we didn’t trust the locks on our doors, we wouldn’t be able to sleep at night. If we didn’t trust our coworkers, we wouldn’t be able to work as a team. If we didn’t trust the legal system, we wouldn’t follow the rules. Without trust, there would be no productivity or security or even life on this Earth. We would live in constant and utter FEAR! Trust is the essence of any healthy relationship. But before giving it, we need to build it through knowledge! You need to find out if that person is capable, honest and reliable. Without this knowledge, trust is obsolete!”

 

“That’s true” Hannah nodded.
“Why do you trust your nose won’t go missing when you fall asleep? Or that the sun will come up every day! Or that the whole planet won’t run out of water and food! Who are you trusting to keep this whole life system intact?”

“Almighty Allah of course!” Hannah replied.

“But why do you trust Him?” I asked again.

“Because I know Him. I know He is the One who created everything and He is capable of managing His creations!” Hannah said.

 

“But what if I told you that I set the alarm really early and I’m the one who commands the sun to come up every morning?” I smirked.

“Astaghfar Allah! That’s impossible!” Hannah frowned.

“Exactly! As Muslims, we all have an intact belief system based on knowledge of our Creator. The more we learn about His limitless capabilities the more we trust Him! This is why the ‘shahada’ is the first pillar of Islam, and it’s based on complete trust in Allah. The ‘shahada’ is the solid belief system we need to wash away all our negative feelings! It’s the antidote to fear, sadness and worry. But now you’ve created another belief system that you’ll die alone because the people you depend on to take care of you can’t be trusted to outlive you. And you know why they can’t be trusted? Because they’re human! They aren’t capable or reliable to be around forever! And that’s why your new belief system scares you! Your life is like the plane your husband is in charge of. You’re depending on him, even though he’s not a trained pilot! Of course your terrified ALL the time!” I explained. “Isn’t it time to depend on the One capable of managing your life, Hannah? Isn’t it time to submit to Him alone?”

 

Hannah’s tears flowed down again, but this time her tears washed away the doubts and made her see the bigger picture she was blinded to. Belief systems are what keep us grounded, and yet when built on falsehood they can take us to the darkest places. Creating a belief system based on assumptions or desires or fears is no different from creating a stone idol and worshipping it besides Allah, True and genuine faith cannot be half way. It cannot be shared or conditioned; because it’s the solid ground we need to stand on before we start the journey to Paradise.

 

“You’re not alone, Hannah. Allah is with you. Every time He takes something you want from you, He will replace it with something you need!” I said.

“That’s true… When Rasheed left, Allah sent me a friend to soothe me, and her child is like my own. I don’t know what I would have done without them!” Hannah whispered. “I’m finally able to give the love I never got from my own parents!”

“That’s the first time you mention them” I said carefully. “I can tell it’s a subject you try to avoid. Are you angry at your parents, Hannah?”

“My dad died years ago. And my mom is also dead…. Or at least to me she is….”

 

 

To be continued

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

Are Your Dreams BIG Enough?

Published on Productive Muslim
Feb 25th, 2015
This is the original uncut version

Are Your Dreams Big Enough?

Surat Al Kahf Series- Part Four
The Finale

Ladies and gentlemen we are approaching the end of this series. Please fasten your seatbelts and make sure your seats are in the upright position. On behalf of the cabin crew I would like to thank you for taking this journey with us and hope to see you here again soon….

Okay fine, I use humor to hide my true feelings, and today I have a tiny heartache because I’m really going to miss talking about Surat Al Kahf. But on a lighter note, while researching the final story, which is about a king named ‘Dhul Qarnayn’ (The man of the two horns) I found out that a possible reason for his title is his hairdo; two ponytails that looked like horns (That cheered me up honestly!)

Others say it’s because he reached the two ‘horns’ of the sun; east and west. In fact there are many interpretations of his title and Allah knows best which is the true one. It’s his fascinating story that concerns us most since we are asked to read it every single Friday for the rest of our lives.

Dhul Qarnayn was a legendary righteous king whom Allah had given immense power. He used his gift to travel around the globe, encountering on his journey a number of different nations whom he helped reform. One of his greatest achievements is building a dam to protect the entire world from the terror of two monster tribes named Gog and Magog, whose penetration through that solid wall will one of the ten major signs of Judgment Day. His story ends abruptly but I know is that Allah mentioned Dhul Qarnayn’s story in about sixteen holy verses from the Qur’an for us to learn something crucial. So here it goes….

Dreams Are The Seeds Of Power

Now this is just a speculation on my part so please don’t quote me on it. I can’t help but imagine this amazing king’s childhood and in my mind there was an incident that went something like this:

“Mommy when I grow up I’m going to change the world!”

“That’s so sweet honey. Now finish your vegetables please!”

“I mean it… My dream is to go on the most magnificent adventure of all time. I want to travel around the world and change it to the better…”

“I am so proud of you my son! You are destined for greatness my son. Never give up on that beautiful dream.”

Perhaps that wasn’t the exact conversation but one thing I’m sure of is that this worldwide journey did not happen by chance. Once Allah gave him the means and the power, Dhul Qarnayn did not waste any time. He used his passion for adventures to help people left and right, and followed his dreams. It’s that kind of aspiration that can conquer the unimaginable! This is what legendary leaders are made out of; heroic missions, consuming passion and a dream too big for the human mind to absorb. So tell me, how do you react to your children’s unrealistic dreams? More importantly, which of your ambitions makes you jump out of bed in the morning? Dhul Qarnayn’s story is both an inspiration for those who have a goal, and a big slap on the face for those who don’t. If your dream falls short of pursuing the impossible for the sake of Allah, then… well… good luck and have a nice boring life! The ultimate dream is not tangled within this life, it’s to reach the highest Heavens and by God, don’t let anything stop you from working hard to get there. That’s what makes Muslims oh so special… We have an end in mind.

Justice Is The Essence Of Power

Dhul Qarnayn’s first visit mentioned in the Qur’an was to a group of people living in the far west. His massively gigantic army and the features of his superiority were simply indescribable. Allah said,

Indeed We established him upon the earth, and We gave him to everything a way.” (16:84)

The word ‘everything’ in this ayah leaves me speechless. This king was, by far, the most powerful man on earth! So what did he do when he first arrived? You’d think he would confiscate the city’s treasures and set his military generals up in fancy castles. He would have a huge ceremony and command the big heads to bow to him just to show who is boss! Surprisingly, the only demonstration of his power came in the form of establishing justice and enforcing a new constitution that treated everyone the same. No matter what your status was, if you did good you’d be rewarded and if you did wrong you’d be punished. Clear and simple.

Anyone who ever became successful like a president or any other authority figure started the path with a big dream, but without fairness and integrity, no one can withhold power for long. Once your dream of having children of your own for example comes true, if you don’t treat them justly, that dream will turn into a nightmare when you lose your kids’ love and respect. Reaching a higher rank needs taking consistent steps towards success, and the most eminent one of those is justice.

Abu Musa reported: Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “It is out of reverence to Allah in respecting an aged Muslim, and the one who commits the Qur’an to memory and does not exaggerate pronouncing its letters nor forgets it after memorizing, and to respect the just ruler“.

 And yet which of today’s leaders truly deserve our respect…?

 When There’s ‘Will’ There A Way

On another trip, Dhul Qarnayn came in contact with a terrified nation where he was offered payment in return for protection from the tribes of Gog and Magog, who were relentlessly corrupting their land. This king’s reputation and global power had obviously exceeded him, for these people knew him by name. Him being honorable, Dhul Qarnayn refused to take their money to build the huge wall and asked to be aided by their manpower instead. Now these people knew exactly what needed to be done, they were rich, strong and capable, they had solutions, natural resources and workers, and even though they were dying every day, they did nothing about it. What they lacked was the will and determination…. Two things we need to instill in our children if we ever hope for a brighter future. Dhul Qarnayn urged these people to work and literally saved the world, he put most of today’s leaders to shame, the presidents who celebrate their power with drinks and extravagant parties while other nations like Palestine and Syria are suffering and withering away. How is this king’s story not making the blood race in our veins? How are we still snuggling on our coaches all day watching TV and eating chips when each and every one of us is an authority figure somewhere whether at work or at home or even at school?! I swear to Allah there is NO time for free time! So tell me, are your dreams big enough?

With even minimum knowledge of the one-eyed Dajjal (Anti-Christ) you’ll easily figure out that the stage is already being set for his arrival. The wrong has become so normal that people are ashamed of doing what’s right. We’ve become so self involved to the point that the closest relationships we have are not with our families but with our IPhones and IPods and IPads, the keyword being ‘I’ or ‘eye’, whichever way you want to look at it. This hideous being will come to test our faith, blind us with wealth, confuse us with his knowledge and assume power over the whole world, starting with taking control of our own minds. Instead of making every minute count, we are counting the minutes till the day is over…. We are wasting precious time that we will NEVER get back!

Yes this sounds like a reprimanding lecture, but we are all in the same boat here, myself included. How do we get out of this rut? I’m glad you asked (Finally!)

 You And Me: We Can Make A Difference

Revolve your life around a dream that pleases Allah and lifts up this beautiful ummah. Don’t be scared. Dream BIG! And as you take each step forward remember to stay humble, for that’s the only way you’ll ever learn and succeed. Hold on to your principles and your faith, because no matter how common wrong has become, it still doesn’t make it right. Fight for justice. Speak up and make a difference. Step out into this world with a zest that will overwhelm people around you. Take pride in applying our beloved Prophet’s advice and show the world how truly amazing you are.

To all the Muslims around the world, this is the final wake up call.

Dream…. The most enchantingly marvelous dreams… and then wake up and be the proud powerful leaders you are meant to be.

Guide and lead the way….
You can do it.

I know you can…

Lilly S. Mohsen

When Money Talks, Shut It UP!

Published by ProductiveMuslim.com on Feb 11th, 2015
Below is the original uncut version

When Money Talks
Shut it UP!

Surat Al Kahf Series- Part Two

“No I’m just a normal person like everyone else! Granted `I live in a 17 floor mansion, but you know, it’s very simple. The walls are gold plated and the fireplaces and crystal lights are all voice activated. I got my bedroom suite for only 250,000 pounds! Pretty good deal, huh? But anyways, enough about me! Now tell me something about you”

You probably met one of those before; the kind of people who don’t necessarily brag out loud, but instead work it into the conversation to let everyone know how ‘well’ they’re doing. They feign that shocked look when they hear that not every person in the world owns a private jet or summers in Cannes with all the celebrities. Then they’ll pout as they try to make you feel better about your miserable life, all the while adding more insult to injury, with details about how they spend lonely nights on their 20 feet yachts and light their cancerous cigars with hundred dollar bills, rubbing their riches in your face till your teeth hurt.

Well, on second thought, I really hope you’ve never met anyone like that. I must say it’s not a very pleasant experience.

And even though these people might brag about modern day luxuries, their three-step technique is as old as time itself, and is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an more than 1400 years ago in a chapter Muslims are required to read every single Friday. It’s the story of the man with two gardens in Surat Al Kahf, and yes, we read it weekly for a reason!

So let’s quickly recap the events of the story. Two men have a conversation in which the richer one boasts about his wealth, denies Judgment Day and lets arrogance overcome him. The less fortunate man reminds him it can all perish in an instant, and soon enough, the wealthy man’s estate falls to pieces before his eyes. The End!

STEP ONE: Pretentiousness Turns To Conceit

Perhaps they were neighbors, but companionship was all those two men had in common. One’s resources were scarce to the point of negligible, while the other man, oh my, he had it all! Endless palm trees surrounded his vast acres of lush grapevines and huge field of crops. A river gushed between his two heaven-like gardens to eliminate the problem of irrigation. His estate didn’t manage itself obviously, which is how we know he probably had hundreds of employees working for him. This man’s empire produced crops and fruits at full capacity, with 0% probability of lost or damaged goods. The money rolled in endlessly and well, this man was evidently one of those ‘if you got it flaunt it’ kind of guy!

Yet the wealthy man did not go up to his poor companion and boast out of nowhere!

It wasn’t like:

“Knock knock”

“Who is there?”

“Rich!”

“Rich who?”

“Richer than you are! Bye”

No, Allah specifically explains that he let it slip in a conversation both men were already engaged in. And what was the poor man’s response? Nothing! I mean what would you say when someone adamantly tries to make you feel less of a person because you’re not rich enough? Planting a seed of inadequacy in other people’s hearts is the first step downhill. You can’t drag someone down unless you’re lower than they are, and that’s what showing off turns us into; conceited, mean and low.

STEP TWO: Conceit Turns To Violation

For some reason, arrogant people with high statuses hear stories of disasters around the world and brush it off completely as if they’re not susceptible to any of that. Their wealth blinds them into thinking they’re superior in this world, and consequently the first runner ups for bigger treasures in the Hereafter. That’s arrogance on top of arrogance! At this point, they become unfair not only to people, but to themselves, for they forget everything they own was ‘given’ to them with Allah’s will. The poor man reminds his rich neighbor that his arrogant attitude is a form of ‘disbelief’ in the Lord, and explains that all his wealth can disappear in the blink of an eye.

(Confession: I have to say every time I read this part of Surat Al Kahf, I thought the poor man was asking Allah to take the rich man’s wealth away, and it really confused me why a believer would do that. I would read that part quickly and block out my disappointment in the poor man. For years I never thought of digging deeper and finding out the real meaning of this verse. I guess that was lack of humility on my part, thinking my interpretation was all there is to know! Now that I did my homework, I realize I was so wrong it’s ridiculous. Sorry Allah)

Wow, that was hard to admit!

Conceit abuses others, but before it does, it violates our own souls; the pure loving hearts we once possessed become tarnished with self-importance. A true believer understands that poverty is a test from Allah, but so is wealth! It’s your humble attitude that counts, not your bank account.

STEP THREE: Violation Turns To Destruction

This poor man did not ask Allah to terminate the wealthy man’s kingdom, but let’s face it, most people would feel violated by the insinuations that they’re not ‘good enough’, and those negative feelings will definitely yield negative vibes. Take for a example a poor woman, who can barely pay school tuition, listening to her rich cousin go into excruciating detail about how tiring it was to throw such a lavish party for her daughter’s sixteenth birthday. She complains the tulips flown all the way from Holland were not the right color, and the giveaways were not engraved with each guest’s name, like Oh My GOD, how embarrassing?!! Let’s pause here for a second, how do you think that poor woman listening to this would feel? She would probably start harboring anger and hatred towards all rich people, wouldn’t she?

The wealthy man’s empire tumbled to the ground, and in my humble opinion, that is also a symbol of destruction in general, whether in material things or in society as a whole. This poor woman will probably feel pressured to throw her own daughter a party too, with money she doesn’t have! Violating people’s meager lives poisons their thoughts with the need to compete; to live up to shallow expectations and that only creates hatred and jealousy.

Golden Tip:

One of my beloved Islamic scholars became so popular that when he visited one country the people were so excited to meet him they gathered around his car when he arrived and lifted the whole car up, chanting his name! When he came back home, he was found on his knees cleaning the floors of a public bathroom. When his followers gasped he cried and said, “Leave me be! I’m terrified of becoming arrogant. I’m here to remind myself that I’m just a mere slave of Allah.”

What about us? How do we remain humble in a society that shoves competition and immodesty down our throats?

Well, our beautiful Islam left no questions unanswered, and our beloved Prophet’s teachings (PBUH) are overwhelmingly and beautifully profound. Amongst the ways to remain humble is to feed the hungry, visit the sick and have patience when others disagree with you. But two of the most characteristics I have personally found very effective and are truly humbling are RESPECT and MERCY.

 

Narrated Abdullah Ibn Amr Ibn al-‘As:

The Prophet () said: Those who do not show mercy to our young ones and do not realize (respect) the right of our elders are not from us.”

 

The Anti-Christ (Dajjal) will come with four ultimate and extremely difficult challenges. It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said: “The Messenger of Allah, used to seek refuge (with Allah) from the torment of Hell, the torment of the grave, and Al-Masih Al-Dajjal.”

We are up for some huge trials people! The first challenge is FAITH and the second one is WEALTH!

(No I’m not telling you what the other two are yet!)

The treasures will follow the Dajjal like ‘swarms of bees’, so if wealth impresses or blinds us now, guess how much trouble we will be in at that time! But Allah is kind, He gave us all the aid we need in Surat Al Kahf, and gave us the key to the trial of wealth in the verses after the story; it’s remembering that all of this is temporary, for we will all stand before Him soon and testify to our deeds.

Seventy or eighty years on Earth are nothing compared to eternity in jannah inshAllah…

So if you want to be productive instead of destructive, whenever you hear that voice in your head of money talking, do yourself a favor and shut it up! Money comes and goes…. But the best is still ahead of us, and will last forever…..

Just hang in there…

Lilly S. Mohsen

The Productive Sleepers. (Seriously?)

Published By ProductiveMuslim.com (4th Feb. 2015)
Below is the original uncut version.

THE PRODUCTIVE SLEEPERS!
(SERIOUSLY?)

Surat Al Kahf Series- Part One

Yeah right! A story about SLEEPING for hundreds of years teaches Muslims all about PRODUCTIVITY! Are you okay, Lilly?

Let’s recap the events together, shall we? A number of young men are guided to believe in the One and Only Lord and because they lived in a city of disbelievers they decide to escape to the cave, fearing execution after calling people to monotheism. Allah Almighty makes the boys fall asleep for 309 years (300 solar and 9 lunar years), and then they wake up to a new society filled with faith. It’s a miracle and it’s amazing but hey, as far as the story goes THAT IS IT! We learn so many lessons from it but ‘productivity’ isn’t one of them, since ummm HELLO, the boys were SLEEPING! So don’t you dare make things up! Repent to Allah sister, I’m sure He will forgive you for trying to distort such SIMPLE facts!

Isn’t that what most readers would think?

Now, before we start, allow me to take a moment to make a Du’aa. I know you’re all busy people but trust me its EXREMELY urgent! “My Dearest Most Merciful Lord… I already told everyone the sleepers of Surat Al Kahf were productive, including sister Zaynab Chinoy! She’s the chief editor You know! So as You can see, this is a very embarrassing situation! I’m begging You Allah please help me and bestow upon me some brilliance to prove my point…”

Okay here it goes….

Lesson One: Productivity Is Using Your Time Wisely

Roughly explained, productivity is the ability to efficiently yield positive and useful results in an allotted amount of time. We tend to relate this aptitude to grownups. We don’t really expect the younger generation to naturally be productive, unless we actually pin them down to the floor and make them do something useful with their time. We have this connotation in our heads that teenagers are up to no good. That’s the age where they go wild and get together to ‘live it up’ before real responsibilities kick in, and even though us parents try to restrain them, somehow deep inside we think it’s okay to cut them some slack. I mean, they’re TEENAGERS, their hormones are literally holding their brains hostages! The sleepers of the cave were also teenagers, and Allah specified that explicitly in the Holy Qur’an. They lived in a city with no rules and there’s no mention of any strict parents with unwavering curfews, is there? Imagine what boys their age would get together to do? They didn’t live in a fairytale; they lived in a real corrupt environment with half naked girls, partying, booze and the whole shebang! But instead they chose to get together in the remembrance of Allah. They used their time wisely, learning their religion and planning on how to spread the true word of Allah. If that isn’t productivity, I don’t know what is!

Lesson Two: Have a Solid Objective:

The boys were an integral part of the community up until their lives were in danger. They never fled the scene just because they were different. They invested in themselves and had a clear-cut mission of reviving their immoral society. It makes me wonder about the stories we hear today; girls taking off their hijab because they couldn’t ‘fit in’, and boys drinking alcohol and smoking up because otherwise they won’t be ‘cool’! The wannabes of today have no mission and no goals and that’s not Islam. We are a unique ummah because we have an obligation to benefit ourselves and others, and we have an ‘end’ in mind, which is the jannah inshAllah. Yes we want to be successful and wealthy and popular, but we don’t stop there like others do. Stand up and remember who you are! A true Muslim is a leader, someone who can make a change in this world and isn’t selfish or scared or embarrassed of his or her identity. There’s no time for free time people! If these teenagers could do it, so can we! Get up, start working, learning and teaching and always keep your eyes on the ultimate goal… Pleasing Allah.

Lesson Three: Dead Ends Don’t Exist!

We tried, it didn’t work, no one is listening so that’s it! Who is up for a steamy game of PlayStation?

Unless your life is on the line, it’s NOT over! The boys tried delivering their message until they ran out of options, but did they stop there? Did they eventually conclude: “Hey, let’s go to the cave and nap for 309 years!”. No, they chose the discomfort of living in a scary secluded cave, and as far as they were concerned, it was a temporary pause before coming up with a new plan. When they woke up, thinking they slept for a day or so, they said… “Indeed, if they come to know of you, they will stone you or return you to their religion. And never would you succeed, then – ever.” (Surat Al Kahf, verse 20, Holy Qur’an) You bet they were still on their mission to ‘succeed’! The threat of death didn’t deter them. These young men were smart! They decided to proceed with caution, so as not to blow their covers. Having faith in Allah and a goal towards pleasing Him are the first steps, but an essential part of being productive is to calculate the risks and never quit. Lesson Four: You Need Your Vision To Hit The Target! So were the boys wearing shoes or sandals? What was their dog’s name? How many were they exactly? What difference does it make?! How will these questions help you reach your goal more efficiently? Focus on what’s importance and don’t distract yourself with minute details that Allah Himself did not bother mentioning! Instead He dedicated a whole verse to people’s speculations about the real number of the sleepers, whether they’re 3 or 5 or 7 and guess what? He never gives an answer because it doesn’t matter. That’s not the point of the story! You want to be productive? Stop ‘guessing the unknown’, for it will be like trying to hit a target when you can’t even see it. Distractions will only blind you from acing your test. Allah honored the sleepers by mentioning in the Qur’an and for us to be reminded every Friday of how they guarded their faith. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said this chapter protects us from the ultimate trial of the Dajjal (the Anti-Christ) who will come with four challenges; one of them is testing our faith….

Hey, wait a second, what about the other three?

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Oops! Rain check?

Lilly S. Mohsen