Wednesday, February 15, 2017

My reflections from the book: "When you hear hoof beats, think of zebras"

Book Review: When you hear hoof beats, think of zebras

This book has been on our bookshelf for ages, so it was wonderful to finally read it. These are some  of the very powerful lessons I took out of this book based on interesting Sufi tales:


  • Seeing Allah in everything and everyone around us - to me this means being in the company of those that remind you of Allah. Everything is a trace of Allah because everything is predestined and from Him. When looking at the creation,even inanimate objects, trace it back to Allah remember to admire the Creator.
  • If you spend your time going after gold in this world, you will have neither the gold nor yourself!
  • Think about what you spend your time, energy and thoughts on between prayers - We think about our life first, and weave our prayers around that. How nice to switch it around to focus on prayers first!
  • Every morning when we get up, we must remember two things- Allah and death - see how different our life will be as a result! We will realise that nothing lasts forever. And this can also be a source of comfort to help us let go and focus on what does matter.
  • A great way to view any situation: say : Maybe it's a blessing, maybe it's a curse, only Allah knows.
  • We don't have to give ourselves totally to everything we do in the worldly sense - like when watching TV, or having a meaningless chat with a colleague at work - retain something of yourself, and with that remember Allah. Don't get totally lost and immersed in everything ( except  the remembrance of Allah)

    Hope this was as an inspiring for you as it was to me Insha Allah!
Implementing the Inspiration,
M4Life


Wednesday, January 04, 2017

How has Surah Maryam made me a better person?

Salaams

 I just completed the tafseer of Surah Maryam, following the intensive series by Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda. I was motivated to start this when during my early weeks of pregnancy I kept hearing from people around me that Surah Maryam is a very good surah to recite during pregnancy. I researched a bit about the wisdom behind this, but could not find any concrete Hadith to support this notion, and whilst we know all of the Quraan is beneficial to us at any time, I wanted to know why this particular Surah was called out to be one to recite specifically during pregnancy. Well I was not satisfied with a seemingly unsupported claim, and so I decided that instead of only just reciting this surah, I wanted to delve a little deeper and understand the meaning of this surah, and what made it so remarkable and beneficial during pregnancy.

I came across this incredible tafseer series on the surah, and decided to dedicate the months of my pregnancy to completing the whole tafseer by Shaykh. I found it to be immensely captivating, blowing my mind at times when learning about the powerful message revealed to us by Allah, and marvelling at the absolute genius in the way the surah moves from one story to the next, lesson after lesson, covering many of the prominent prophets in Islam.

I have shared my many aha moments in blog posts over the past few months (as they were inspired to me, and now at the end of this amazing journey, I feel a little sad - this series made up a large part of my pregnant life - from the early weeks in London when I was challenged with food aversion and spent most time relaxing at home to keep up my energy, to later times when the tafseer kept me company as I prepared dinner in my new kitchen in Istanbul. No doubt my little one once born Insha Allah will recognise Shayk's voice for many years to come! May Allah bless Shaykh and accept all the efforts of himself and his team (Salaam Studios).

I really love the last point that Shaykh made when he concluded the tafseer - he reminds us that nothing we do in relation to the Quraan - be it reciting, memorising, studying it is the end game. It is all not of value unless it  enters our hearts, manifests in a practical way in our life and changes us. Whenever we listen to such talks, the question we should ask ourselves is not "How much do I now know?" but rather "How has this made me a better person?" Powerful.  We are accountable to practice upon all that we learn - a huge responsibility. It's also profound to realise that the way the surah ends is Allah talks about who are the people that can earn His Mercy - it's the ones that "believe and do good deeds" - so a very apt message to end on.

Praying I can implement all that I have learnt, and use this to inspire others,
Insha Allah
M4Life

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Riding the Guidance Train

Listening to the tafseer of Surah Maryam by Shaykh Jangda on YouTube and I'm absolutely inspired by this ayah he spoke about from the Holy Quran:

"And those who are guided - He increases them in guidance and gives them their righteousness."


[Muhammad 47:17] 

The Shaykh explains that the more we follow the guidance that Allah sends us to us - the more guidance Allah will send to us! Such a simple formula, such powerful effects. This is the "guidance train" as Shaykh amusingly terms it.

So when we ask Allah for help and guidance, we shouldn't just stop there - the journey of seeking guidance isn't the end game - clearly what's important is taking on the guidance we are given. Sometimes it comes to us in ways we don't expect - like a maybe a turn of events forcing us to act in a certain way. Other times it can be some sort of inspiration we are given to take a course of action. Either way it speaks to us being conscious and aware so we can perceive this guidance- then act on it- and thereby receive even more guidance.

Hoping to ride the guidance train too Insha Allah,
M4Life


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

All that's Sweet is not necessarily Sweeeeet



Chocolate cake and macarons. Strawberry jelly, lemon cheesecake and cronuts. Who doesn't like sweet things? And it's all ok if handled in moderation. 

The issue comes in when we make this our objective, and spend too much money, time and effort on this. And when we dont know when and where to stop and go over any reasonable limits. This point is timely given the festive time of year when sweet indulgences are top of mind - and in full swing for most of us!



Abu Sa'id Khudri reported that Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said:
"The world is sweet and green (alluring) and verily Allah is going to install you as vicegerent in it in order to see how you act..."
Sahih Muslim
Listening to the tafseer of Surah Maryam on YouTube, Shaykh Jangda explains the metaphor that Nabi Muhammad (May peace be upon him) uses for this world being "sweet" and "green":


  • We know that things that are sweet are not so good for us, but the allure is always there. It just tastes so good! But the effects are felt later on - the "high" that you feel comes crushing down leaving you miserable and having no energy to do anything good.
  • Sweet stuff looks bright, yummy, attractive. Just like frivolous things in this world - they appear to be shiny and fun but actually can do more harm for us if it becomes all we focus on and live for.

  • Sweet stuff can be addictive. Didn't mean to eat the whole bar of chocolate? Well, it happened. sweet things have that effect. Its the same as being involved in worldly pursuits - it just keeps going on - it's never enough to just have that big house, now you want to fill it up with stuff. It's tempting and unless you have set your own limits it can become all encompassing in your life and really distract you from your purpose here on earth.
  • Sweet stuff spoil quicker - for example milky desserts if left out wont last very long. Similarly, things in this world do not last long. Unlike doing good deeds thinking about the Hereafter. Shaykh talks about saying one "Subhanallah" - boom, a tree is planted for you in Jannah. Hows that for everlasting?
  • "Green" refers to that which is attractive - like fruit and vegetables when they are just grown are so appealing and fresh. Just like the shiny things in this world can be - items to buy, positions to hold. 

Switching from the sweet to the substantial,
Muslimah 4 Life

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Turkish Tales : Our First Grocery Shopping Trip

Salaams...Merhaba!

Here in Istanbul, a trip to the supermarket is not the most simple of events I'm afraid to say! Maybe in time it will become second nature, but for now it is a marked event requiring company, Google Translate and a plan for how to bring back the stuff that we buy (as we do not have a car due to logistics of driving here and generally no need).

We chose to go to our local Migros supermarket (a cool five minute walk away from home) and took a huge backpack to hold our purchased items. My hubby's basic Turkish saved us time as we look for rice, low fat milk and cereals in the smart supermarket. And for the rest of the things, we used our friendly Google Translate app to scan items on the shelves especially when distinguishing between tomato paste, tomato puree and chopped tomato (which by the way is a beautiful red and tastes like the fresh delicious tomatoes we enjoyed in Rome).

We didn't manage to find everything on our list such as condensed milk and bran flakes. We did have some surprise finds such as what smelt like strong green chillies as well as frozen and pre-prepared artichokes which would make for a unique side dish one day I thought to myself mentally building up a menu. Other exciting prospects included knowing that all the ice cream is halaal - so we can enjoy the beautiful ice creams we longed for in the UK but could not have such as Carte 'dor and Cornetto, yippee!

It's also such a pleasure seeing our favourite jelly sweets amply stacked up in the local supermarket - the sour cola bottles you could only get in Dubai and now it's no longer even available at the Dubai airport so we will be shipping these back home alot I imagine!

We pay for our items and pack it all into my hubbys large backpack to transport it back home. Supermarket trip #1 complete!

I have already started my list though of items to look out for at other stores - and for people to bring when they come over to visit Insha Allah!

Shopping it up,
M4Life

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Towards Perfecting Prayer : how the nations before us went wrong

Listening to the tafseer of Surah Maryam, I was really touched by the lessons taught regarding the importance of salaah (prayer).

From Salaam Studios, Shaykh Jangda in a month long Intensive course on Surah Maryam on YouTube eloquently explained how the really bad nations before us that were involved in the worst of sins and evil deeds. It all started with them being neglectful of the prayer. Some scholars interpret being neglectful as being reducing the quality of prayer by rushing, or delaying prayer or just not going to the Musjid at all. Whichever way it was, it was surely all downhill from there. 

Why is that? Well he explains, if you can't be good to Allah ( ie  fulfill His rights), then how can fulfill anyone else's?
It goes like this :

When you choose not to pray your salaah, you are in effect just looking after yourself. So then you stop feeling like helping other people as you are self absorbed with your own desires. That leads on to you interacting with bad people. Then, when at times you  feel a bit guilty, you start seeing the Day of Judgement- not something believable as a reality when you are so busy with having a good time here and now. This is how you can become totally distracted and on the wrong path.

We hear the stories about the people of the past that were destroyed... And it seems to us so distant from us - but are we not also guilty of neglecting the prayers to some extent... So in reality how close are we to becoming that way and how important is it that we halt our negligence of prayer right away!

 Related in Muslim : A man came to the Prophet (saws) and said O Prophet of Allah (saws),what is the act or deed most loved by Allah?The Prophet (saws) replied:  To pray ones prayers on time. The man asked further: What (deed or act most loved by Allah) next? The Prophet (saws) replied: Obedience to ones parents.The man asked further: What (deed or act most loved by Allah) next?The Prophet (saws) replied: Jihaad in the Way of Allah.

Some Very Practical Steps I have been inspired to take to perfect the prayer, as suggested from Shaykh: 

 1. Pray salaah when the time of the prayer starts  -It's a really simple thought, but I found if I do this, I feel more relaxed during and after the prayer. I now live in a country where I am fortunate to hear the adhaan live, giving me every chance possible to do this. Knowing it's a teaching from the sunnah is a great boost as well.

2. If the above is not possible (due to work or another valid  reason), then fix a personal specific time of prayer (within reason of course!), so in your schedule you know that at 2pm everyday you will pray Zuhr, for instance. Then you can work your day around this. Certainly in Europe during winter this became a must as the days were so short, and with an hour or so between the day's prayers I had to set specific times to pray and not miss the time!

3. Work our salaah! When Nabi Muhammad (may peace be upon him), was sad when there was a pause between revelation, he was advised to turn to prayer as a means of still connecting to Allah. We can do the same. All we have to do is turn salaah from being a ritual to it being functional - a source of comfort, a way to connect and speak to Allah. And we know that through reciting Surah Faatiha,  Allah responds to us. How much more meaningful can the prayer now be for us?

Towards perfecting prayers Insha Allah,
M4life

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Keeping teaching prayer and charity to my children IN HOUSE!

Salaams

Came across this whilst listening to the tafseer of Surah Maryam by Shaykh Jangda. Really interesting advice about this verse from the Quraan (19:55).

"He used to enjoin on his people Prayer and Charity, and he was most acceptable in the sight of his Lord"

This is referring to Ismaeel (son of Abraham May peace be upon them both) and we can learn from it the importance of us being the teachers to our own children and family about these two important pillars in Islam. It is not good enough to outsource this to someone outside- no matter how learned. These are fundamental practices in Islam that have so many benefits- such as learning discipline, time management, social awareness etc. If a child learns about prayer from outside, then he associates this very significant aspect of his life with that other than his own parents - and in many ways this is a loss to the parent-child connection. Therefore we should be the ones to teach our children basics like making wudu (ablution before prayer), praying and giving charity. For more specialised areas like hifdh (memorisation of the Quraan) for instance, that would make sense to have an expert to instruct the kids as they have more in depth knowledge and skill. However the basics, we gotta keep that in house :)

I even have an idea to involve my future children Insha Allah in my annual Zakaah (compulsory charity) calculation - let them go around counting their teddy bears and dolls and give out 2.5% of their toys to charity (or better still a poor family we know)- how fun and relevant this can be for them to learn first hand what it means- not just the theory when they hit school.

The full talk on this can be found here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y12UONWR_lc&list=PLW8MXiEh0nCK_FhdxozSFovJJ7ntWkJwV&index=17https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y12UONWR_lc&list=PLW8MXiEh0nCK_FhdxozSFovJJ7ntWkJwV&index=17