Trust. Believe. Be Fearless.

088 Bismillah ar Rahman ar Raheem. As my sweetest Umi always reminds me, quoting our late beloved Granddaddy: “Nothing beats a failure but a try.” Such a true statement, as terrifying as it may be to stand on that brink of opportunity knowing that you could epically fail.  At the same time you could succeed beyond your wildest imaginings.  Focus, dream big, visualize your success, have faith, and take all the necessary action in order to make your dream come true.  Inshaa Allah.



 I

Alone and dark. Twisting gut Writhing in my bed of insomnia. As the Ruby tipped trees lose their brilliant emerald glow, my mood fades… My soul is hungry for the sweetness of Emman, For my kushoo. the tide is running low. Self-doubt and negativity laps the shore. These days I look longingly out the window but can’t bring myself to want to move from the safety of my bed. As the sun sets on summer, I let my flickering light dwindle.

II

As the knife tight in my gut becomes unbearable, The air of Self-loathing suffocates everything I have left in me to fight it back… I can feel the clock ticking.

III

The child within is tired and ready to give up.

I lift my babies’ face and hold it close to my own.

I kiss her forehead and whisper that it’s going to be ok.

O’ my sweet inner child of hopes and aspirations.

I have let you become bogged down by the world.

By those nagging thoughts that tell you,

“You will Never have what it takes in this life to be successful.”

“Your stupid and weak!”

“There is so much evil here, it’s too much to witness.”

So you cry for them, as you cry for yourself too.

Trusting and believing in God’s Plan for everyone in your heart.

IV

My sweet child whose dreams are so big.

Why did I ever let you believe that to be true?

That “You’re not Good Enough”.

There was a time you could stand on the top of that mountain, shouting out:

“Nothing can stop me!!”

You can climb up there again, look out from that breathtaking view.

You see that dream over there?

The one far in the distance,

Appears insurmountable.

That my dear, is YOUR dream.

You prayed for it.

You sat up long nights praying,

wondering how you would ever get there.

And now you’re this close…and your going to give up?!

Do not ever think you cannot make it.

We did all the hard work; passed over the boulders we thought would never end.

In the distance we dreamed about coming here.

This very place.

We looked up at this twinkling rock in the distance, and longed to reach it.

Our legs were weary but we trudged on.

And now when you see your final accent, before your eyes…this is where you want to turn around?

We have come so far.

So hush up those fears.

Trudge on.

Know that your destiny is sealed.

“The Pen has been Lifted

The Ink is Dry”.

 V

Go forth and believe you can do it. Know that you would not be here if you couldn’t. HE doesn’t work like that. When you meet Your Maker, don’t you want to be able to thank him for the “rope” He “cast down” to you? Or do you want to stand before him, Hanging your head in shame, because you squandered that precious gift of a rope? Go forth, because Your Maker believes in you, He cast that dream in your heart, high up on that mountain. The climb is tiring, and your load cumbersome, but it was written for you. It’s no one “else’s Burden to Bear”.

So be grateful and climb on, you know you can do it.

If He believes in you

Why       don’t      YOU?

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Dua for the Oppressed

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Ya Rabb (My Lord), Ya Al-Mu’Min (The Giver of Peace), Ya Al-Malik (The Sovereign), Ya Al-Rahim (The Merciful), Ya Al-Darr (The Afflictor), Ya Al-Muhaymin (The Protector)…

Ya Allah who knows the best of all his names, please help them. Ya Al-Mu’Min if they can not have peace on this earth then grant them peace in their hearts on the battlefield and grant them the loftiest of peace in the hereafter. Ya Allah Al- Aziz (The Almighty), Ya Allah Al-Mu’izz (The Honourer), Honor them with the highest of Honors. Ya Al-Adl (The Just), bring justice to the oppressed. Send them thousands of angels to help them, and send those who fear none but you. Ya Al-Halim (The All-Clement), pardon our mistakes and disobedience to you for you are Al-Tawwab The Acceptor of Repentance). Ya Al- Hafiz (The Guardian), please guide those oppressors, soften their hearts to Islam and Ya Al-Wakil (The Trustee), if guidance is not written for them, then protect us Al-Waliyy (The protector) in every way from them.   Give those suffering, strength, patience, and jennah for this trial is great. If they die let it be with li illiah hi il lallah on their lips. Ameen.

 



 

I simply can not look at another image of a babies blown off limbs or another video of young boys, women, men and children being beaten to death. I can not view another picture of the looming smoke over a destroyed Muslim country. My heart aches and my tears run, I feel sick to my stomach. But sometimes we need those images to wake us up.

My power and your power is Dua. It is Ramadan, and if all we are worried about is what we are cooking for Iftar tonight, or what dress we are wearing for Eid then WE ARE THE REASON WHY WE ARE IN THIS STATE. YES. If your heart doesn’t ache for your brothers and sisters all over the world then you need to check the status of your heart. You need to cleanse it and renew it this Ramadan. Make DUA. Make DUA before you break your fast, MAKE DUA in the the last third of the night, MAKE DUA when it rains, MAKE DUA while you are traveling. Make thicker to Allah and keep your tongue wet in remembrance to him and in remembrance of your brothers and sisters who are suffering. I remind myself first and foremost. We are in crisis, and the only way to fix it is to fix ourselves. Allah says “Verily, Allaah will not change the (good) condition of a people as long as they do not change their state (of goodness) themselves (by committing sins and by being ungrateful and disobedient to Allah)” (13:11) It is in our hands, and the hands of Our Lord. Allah has not nor will he ever forsake us. When you are in Sujood and Our Lord has descended to the lowest heaven remember them. For Allah is Maliku’l-Mulk (The Lord of the Kingdom), he is Dhu’l-Jalal, Wa’l-Ikram (The Lord of Majesty and Generosity).

“Oh you who believe! Bow down and prostrate yourselves and serve your Lord, and do good.” (22:77)

I learned this from Al Maghrib Institute today:
Wherever you see dhulm/injustice and oppression in the world today, don’t think Allah will forget it! Whether in this world or in the next, the rights of the people will be upheld!
The Prophet (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
“Dhulm is of three types:
1. A dhulm that Allah will never forgive
2. A dhulm that He will forgive
3. A dhulm that He will never leave alone

As for the dhulm that that He will not forgive, then that is Shirk. Allah said, “Indeed attributing partners to Allah is a terrible injustice.” (al-Luqmān, 13)

As for the dhulm that He will forgive, then that is the injustice from the people themselves towards their Lord.

As for the dhulm that He will never leave alone, then that is when the people oppress one another. It will not be left alone until everyone receives their right and justice from one another.”
(al-Bazzār, Hasan)

May Allah help and guide us all Ameen.

 

Breaking free from our “Box”.

You have recently been diagnosed with a problem. Or maybe it is something you have been carrying around with you for a while, and you are tired of it. You are ready to make steps towards change, to turn over your proverbial leaf. Maybe it’s Mental Illness, a Behavioral Issue, Addiction, or Physical Illness that is debilitating or perhaps even fatal. Maybe you’re broke or divorced, or single. Whatever the problem is, it makes you feel bad. It is debilitating, strangling, paralyzing. You have found yourself in a pit of despair, and right now it feels as if life is piling dirt into your pit. There is no silver lining, no knight in shining armor, no pill to help you, no shoulder to cry on or ear to hear you.

Congratulations! “What?!” (You say in udder shock and disbelief). “What an insensitive, wholly unsupportive and even rude statement! How dare you offer congratulations while I am in this ungodly pit of despair, just searching for a way out!”

Congratulations on making the first big step. You want a way out. You want to see the sun, you want to rise from the pit and walk tall, facing your issues head on. You are asserting your control, your own free will over your life. You are taking your personal issue into your own hands and you are ready to make a change. It may be a physical change, a change in mindset or a decision to give up the crutch you have been leaning so heavy on and change it for something else. Although this Pit may seem unGodly, it is exactly where you are supposed to be at this time right now, and you have reached a crossroads. It is now time for you to choose your path. You can do it. You just have to make up your mind to. Your crutch is now your maker, your higher power, your God. You have to find that shoulder that is never going to let you down, the ear that is never going to stop listening. “You have grasped the most trustworthy hand hold that will never break” (The Holy Quran 2:256).

 

Step one has been completed, you have decided you want change. Step two takes some practice and self reflection, hard truths and realities. I want to refer to step two as a Box. Your illness, addiction, or disorder is a box. You can either define your life by it, and let it be a means to an end for you, or you can turn it into a tool you put in your box that helps you break free. When we choose to let it to define us we become imprisoned in our box. Things become impossible because we are constantly reminding ourselves we have a problem. There is acceptance of a problem and a coming to terms with a problem, and then there is making the problem the reason for all our other problems. Allowing the problem to define who we are and letting the problem tell us what we can and cannot do. For example say you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder or anxiety and depression. Finding out that this issue exists in our lives can be viewed as a huge setback that we may not want to deal with. Instead of repressing and not dealing we can view this issue as a test we are faced with. We can give our fears and sadness over to our creator, spend quality time in our own thoughts and prayers, and vow to take steps toward change. The serenity prayer is one I love that I try to remember often. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”  

We can also empower ourselves by using our issue as a window into our state of being. Accepting it. Realizing that it may not always be like this. That in two years our lives may be completely different. We can work and pray towards a positive difference, or positive way of seeing this test or hurdle. We can use these issues as a stepping stone towards wellness. A stepping stone towards not letting our past or our problem define who we are. A stepping stone towards positive action. Instead we can empower ourselves, find what we are passionate for. We can use our passion to find our purpose in life and use that passion and purpose in the folds of Islam. Our number one purpose is to pray, praise, and give thanks to our creator. Why not streamline our passion/purpose to meet our number one purpose? To get our thoughts out of the pit. To work hard searching for that silver lining. For the lesson in our test. Indeed sometimes, there is no way of seeing the lesson while we are in the midst of our test. This is where we call on our Faith. “La hawla wa quwata illah billah.” (“There is no might or power without Allah”.)  We may not have knowledge of what it is we are learning while Allah is testing us, we may never know, or we may know years later down the line if He wills. The ultimate test within the test is TRUSTING ALLAHS WILL, and being content with our DESTINY. Being content in His Decree for us. Just like a precious stone that has become beautiful through metamorphosis, so is Allah’s decree for us. A quote I have read recently it says it best; “When life has brought you to your knees, you are in the perfect position to pray”. Sometimes Allah tests us only so we will draw nearer to him. When things are comfortable it is very easy to become distracted with all the glitter dunia holds. It is in those darkest moments when we are broken and raw, sobbing in sujood, truly humbled and vulnerable…it is in those moments we realize that all POWER lies in his hands alone. That without Allah we are nothing, but a blubbering mess on a salat rug. It is easy to cry to your friend and feel that hug and hear those reassuring words. It takes even a stronger person to seek that resolve with their lord. To invest in the akirah by patiently persevering and remaining forever grateful, and humbled by the grace and mercy of Allah.

Step two is the Box we no longer define ourselves with, but instead we use it as our stepping stone towards wellness. The realization that THINGS CHANGE. It’s the nature of life. The minute that we get stuck thinking that things will never get better is the moment we decide “THINGS WILL NEVER GET BETTER”. Just like a vaccination that helps us build immunity, our tests and trials will make us stronger. Even if they are fatal. If we live our lives despairing over the day we will die it will eventually be the only eyes we use to see the world. Instead we can say, “What will I do today? How will I please my Lord today? How will I love my life today? In this minute?” Being caught in focusing too much on the past or the future can be debilitating. Also maybe we harbor resentment? “My upbringing made me this way.” “Society/the world is unfair and I am a victim of it.” “I wish I didn’t have this reality…why can’t my life just be different?” “I wish my life was like so-and so’s.” This is the hard realities piece. It’s not. This is the hand we were dealt, and we can either just hate our reality, (which will make us more miserable), or we can practice radical acceptance, ask our maker for patience and perseverance and the tools we need to move on, evolve and grow.   Sometimes we may fall into the victim role. This is a dangerous place, a place of self loathing, and blame. Whether we blame ourselves or others, this place of pointing fingers is fruitless. Once the seed of resentment is sown the roots and branches will strangle us. Sometimes we have to forgive others, not for them but so we can stop torturing our own souls. Sometimes we have to forgive ourselves, realizing that we are naturally imperfect, and that our imperfections do not define us. When we find ourselves imperfect it can be a humbling experience. “Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. And when Allah intends for a people ill, there is no repelling it. And there is not for them besides Him any patron.” (The Holy Quran 13:11). Make the decision to make the change. “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” (Mahatma Gandhi). Ultimately that’s all we can do. If you find yourself paralyzed, practice “opposite behavior”. For example if we are drowning in housework and it is completely overwhelming and all we think we can muster is flopping on the couch in exhaustion then do the exact opposite.   Wash those dishes, throw that load of laundry in and then reward yourself with your couch flop. See how satisfying it feels to flop after you have accomplished your one task you were dreading. Small steps, one foot in front of the other, the moment we stand still focusing on everything wrong is the moment we give into paralysis and become imprisoned in our box. Let’s set ourselves free, open our eyes to the light, look up from our pit…realize that sometimes the light may hurt our eyes at first.   That’s natural; change can be uncomfortable and challenging. Ultimately we have to reflect on the things we need to let go, the things we can change and have the courage and the wisdom to make that difference a reality. You can do it. I can do it. It can be done.

Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”(Nathaniel Hawthorn)

We need only to want to change our condition and seek the aid of our creator to find our place of inner peace. We need to actually compare our lives to those beneath us, reflect on their reality. Remember that there is always someone in a worse state than us, make duaa (pray) for those, make duaa for ourselves and patiently persevere one step at a time. We need to remain grateful and thankful for those things that we do have and those days, hours and minutes we have left before the end. Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “If the Resurrection were established upon one of you while he has in his hand a sapling, then let him plant it.” Make the most of our time on the earth, because the only one who knows when that time will be up is our creator. Let us make our scales heavy in His remembrance, with good deeds, and gratitude. May he guide us all, have mercy on us, strengthen us and forgive us all. Ameen.

 

A reminder to myself first and foremost.  🙂

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Falling

Love is the sparks of excitement you swallow

Between each kiss.

Love lies in that empty space next to you

in bed, after they’ve gotten up.

The space you crawl into to keep their warmth

and how you secretly smell their pillow as a reminder.

Love is being vulnerable, even when your afraid.

Love Hides;

in between screaming, tears, and slamming doors.

Love is dancing without the need to hold on

for balance.

Love lies in the birth of a sunrise.

When the stars lingering in the clouds fade.

Morning Shines.

Painting sky in colors of dawn.

Ever growing brighter.

“Love is like falling and falling is like this…”**

Lost.

Yet at home, in the middle of the universe.

Butterflies surround your stomach.

Drifting

you feel more free than ever before.

Laughing flows out like rivers

and when your eyes connect

it is as if the other is

Soul Searching.

When I fall this time,

you don’t catch me.

Instead, you too allow yourself to fall in.

Love.


**Quoted from Ani Difranco song.

I wrote this poem on 10/04/01.  I was asked to write it from a good friend Hannah Smith to read at her wedding.

I love this poem but looking back I feel my life has changed so much that I was barely scraping the surface of Love.

This is because as humans we evolve constantly, particularly when we reflect on our lives.  I am a very reflective person and those who know me well know that my life has done at least a 180 degree turn since 2001.  All thanks be to God.  I laugh to myself because at the time of this writing I was still in awe of 9/11.  I remember vividly flying somewhere and checking out all of the other passengers on my flight fearing a terrorist was among us.  You see, I believed the hype.  I was afraid.  There were some men who looked like they were from India that I was skeptical of, then some darker skinned others that I thought may be Arabian.  I had no one to give my fear over to, as I do now.  I also had not broadened my horizons yet, growing up in one of the whitest states of the union had taken its toll on my view of diversity.  I did not yet know about my “knapsack of white privilege”.  I had just begun to study sociology and some of our articles blew my mind into a whole knew way of thinking.  More specifically I had not yet found religion and within it peace.  I had not yet met my husband and really found that true love that was destined for me.

I am so grateful for my personal evolution, revolution, awakening and revelation.  I am grateful for my family, my friends and everyone I have met on this path.  I am grateful for light and deen (religion) and I pray that my path may be forever illuminated by it.

Alhumdulilah, I am forever grateful.  🙂

From my heart.

LOVE you all.

Peace and Blessings (Assalamu Alakium).

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My Opa.

Opa, you will always be the man with the perfectly manicured lawn, the weeping willows that blow in the wind.  Waving a top your big John Deer tractor; in shorts and white socks, that covered your farmers tan, right below your knees, on your skinny little chicken legs. 

You will always be the man so jolly with that glimmer of mischief in your eyes.  The teaser, the walk-behind-you-neck-pincher.  The man who built our whole lives with his hands: my dolly’s bassinet, my mom’s toilet bowl cover, all of our musical piggy banks with our names on them that were impossible to open.  Even that weird woodpecker toy thing with one of your chickens feathers as its tail.  The swing in your back yard, the garden that I learned to pick, shuck and love peas in.  The multiple clocks that would keep me up at night…it was either that or your monstrous snore.

One could look at your life as a child of the Holocaust, an immigrant, and now a victim of Alzheimer’s as one of tragedy, but I prefer to think of your life as the beginning of your legacy.  We may not always have the house you built but we will always have the family that you built.  Your hard work ethic, your craftsmanship, your mischievous spirit and even your laugh will be echoed in our generations and those to come…forever.

For my Opa:  Henry Najman Newman I love you forever. 

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Written for his memorial in August of 2010.

My Hijab

Bismillah: In Honor of #WorldHijabDay and dedicated to my Muslim sisters all over the world being oppressed because of their choice to cover. I have wrote this poem for you, making my intention pure for Allah alone in sha Allah.  Ameen.



 

My Hijab:

A response to Eve Ensler’s “My Short Skirt”.


 

 

 

My Hijab.

 

My Hijab is my crown.

I am a queen, and like a queen I don’t shake hands with strange men.

 

My Hijab.

 

My Hijab is peace.

This piece of cloth that covers my aura.

Is serenity.

A sign of submission.

They say it’s a sign of submission to my husband.

I say:        No.

Submission to Someone much more important.

Omnipotent.

Allah.

Lord of the Worlds.

 

My Hijab.

 

My Hijab is a reminder.

A reminder to myself to behave in the manner I am supposed to:

With integrity.

Peacefully.

Respectfully.

Honestly.

Auspiciously.

Humbly.

Modestly.

 

My Hijab.

 

My Hijab may serve as a reminder to other people of how to treat me:

I am not an ornament for your eyes.

My beauty will not be cheapened by using pieces of my body to sell your:

Body wash

Cars or

Power tools.

I will not be used in some misogynists’ music video.

No.           You may not have my number.

 

 

All that man covets is hard to reach;

Gold and Jewels must be mined.

Oil must be drilled.

Pearls lie

Sealed

In shells

At the bottom of the sea.

Why is my body any different?

 

 

My Hijab, believe it or not, has nothing to do with you:

Your laws to ban it.

Your opinion that I’m oppressed.

Your view on my style of expression or belief system.

Your hateful heart and your hands that rip it from my head.

Your not in charge of my fate

My destiny.

My.          Maker.          Is.

 

My Hijab is my Piety.

My non con formation to mainstream.

 

I will NOT let YOU make me AFRAID.

This is who

I AM.

 

 

Before you made it something for people to fear.

And attached words like “Terrorist” to it.

Before you attempt to

Try to make me

Take it off,

or Assimilate.

 

My Hijab:

Get used to it. It’s not going away.

 

My Hijab is happiness:

Tranquility.

Serenity.

I am here.

I am empowered.

 

My Hijab is a liberation.

The Flag in the Muslimah Liberation.

The first movement of ‘feminism’;  started by the Prophet Muhammad.

May Peace and Blessings be Upon Him.

 

I declare these streets

Any streets

My Hijab’s country.

My Hijab’s Universe.

We are free and answer to God Alone.

But mainly

My Hijab and everything under it Is mine.

Mine

Mine

Mine.

My God Given Right.

My Freedom.

My Protection.

My Liberation.

My Dedication to My Maker and

No One Else.

 

 

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