A Bowl of Sheer Kurma

Eid Mubarak to all my brothers and sisters!! May Allah accept from you and from us. And may this be the beginning of a life spent in taqwa, goodness, worship and abstinence from sins. And may Allah bless us to see the grand Eid in the hereafter. Ameen

Eid

Eids are a lonely affairs and just like any other day for me but today I was a little more down and numb. And for reasons known and unknown. However, if there is one thing I have learnt being a Muslim it is that Allah is truly Al Wahhab. He is the Provider for everything from food and clothing to faith

I was sad because I had to refuse a friend’s Eid invitation for some reason. This time around there was no sheer korma at my home like last year, which is one universal symbol of Eid celebrations. But it wasn’t like I was expecting anything. And yet it found a way to me.

Out of no where a neighbor who I knew was Muslim married to a Christian shared a bowl of sheer kurma with us. Bless her. It is moments like these that make me realize how blessed I am to be a Muslim. I broke down with tears of gratitude for feeling Eid in my little world. Truly like the Prophet (saw) said “Never belittle any small deed” A small gesture may be a healing for someone. Never underestimate it.

I am a big believer in the little-things-are-actually-big-things thing. Small things mean BIG feelings. Alhamdulillah for the little things that have so much power! Alhamdulillah for the gratitude that feels inadequate.

This was also a sad Ramadan for a lot of Muslims but may we continue to do good. May we continue to be tolerant and compassionate. May Allah strengthen and reward the Muslims who did not have a peaceful Ramadan. Ameen

Neither Here Nor There

you broke the ocean in
half to be here.
only to meet nothing that wants you

– Immigrant // Nayyirah Waheed

I don’t remember when I wrote the poem below but it was a long time back. It doesn’t even have a name. When I wrote it I didn’t care for expression or choice of words or to make some kind of an impact on the reader. I just wrote this out of the pain I felt that could not help itself just wanting to find an outlet. Be it in words that did it no justice.

Today I am sad again because the world isn’t any better, may be worse. And even worse for the whole Ummah. #Brexit was preferred because that was the only way to stop immigrants (?) I am not from the UK but how depressing is that. Not to mention the political and media tirade against muslims. And I want this to encourage me to be the good I want to see.tumblr_l2q4c0ydXg1qade4w.png

I know there are still people in this world who would rather have open arms than clinched fists and hope is ever alive.

Just had to get the sadness out there so that we remember the people from our ummah who have nowhere to go and in the hope that these trials will be a turning point for the rest of us, a turning point that leads us back to Allah.

There is a Syria in each one of us

A Yemen coursing through my veins right now

My tears drip in the shape of Afghanistan’s map,

The nerves in my eyes are screaming for Gaza

And every heavy breath supposed to be an ode to Iraq

I think of the little girl who cries through the night
And when she tires of crying she falls asleep among the deafening sound of missiles

Another day spent hoping for death

This is why my body is a battle ground

And every war I fight kills a little of me, keeps a little alive

Victory is the luminous smoke from my burnt remains

Can you see a phoenix rising?

~Zara

Ramadaan hope for the underachiever

Just what I need!

slip-sliding away.....

The infant sun peeks out from behind a mountain peakThe last third of Ramadaan is almost upon us, and if you’re like me, you haven’t really hit the highs of the month yet. Personally, it’s been another low-key Ramadaan (as is the standard in recent years) – with only fleeting moments of inspiration and spiritual highs.

Personal circumstances have engulfed me – in this past week especially – but instead of feeling upset about that, I know better. I know to take it in my stride, because such challenges are a normal part of life. We cannot choose when our trials will come, but regardless of who we are, what we have, and where we are spiritually, those challenges WILL come. They’re a necessary part of life that is to be expected (as expounded upon recently).

The challenge is in being open to such events – which you know will throw you off the path you were hoping…

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Of Solidarity and Holy Seconds

I take delight in being a loner but the otherwise ignored magnitude of Ramadan isn’t lost on me.

Over a billion people fasting round the clock. Always the call to prayer going off, the prostrations, the raised palms, the empty hands somewhere.

The oft repeated invocations, the half remembered duas. The parched throats, sore legs from standing in prayer, the repentances, the remembrances, the recitations, the longing, the free flowing tears, the free falling egos.

Always someone down on their knees and foreheads begging for salvation. Or someone wetting their dry lips, water replaced with perspective.59e956e6f6ac4e4b1a298af663914e3a

Always the millions of those fasting whose fast is only between them and God. No one but God knows if there was a secret bite or a quick sip or the desperation and yet the sacrifice of both. Always someone hungry for food and forgiveness. Or someone holding their tongue, their eyes, their limbs, their whims.

Always the towering gratitude or the ocean deep regrets or the forgotten verses bought back to life, reverberating in now full masjids.

Always the Qur’an being recited somewhere, its pages turning every minute.

The short nights, the relinquished sleep, the exhilaration, the awareness, the generosity, the charity, the feeding of the poor. Or the broken hearts being slowly healed.

Someone always lagging but not the only one to do so, someone learning the intricacies of patience, the joys of delayed gratifications, the learned control. The rows and rows of famished stomachs being replenished at the same time

The transformations, the second chances, the going back, the finding the way. Always the deeds ascending and the Light descending. Infinite.

The acute sense of our humanness, the brokenness, emptiness, the loneliness, the incompleteness, the void, the faults, the flaws, the falling, the rising, the despair. And yet always the unabridged hope. Round the clock, holy seconds ticking by ever so gently, scattering mercy.

The Prophet (saw) said “The fasting person has two occasions for joy, one when he breaks his fast because of his breaking it and the other when he meets his Lord because of the reward for his fast.” (Muslim)

People united in hunger, prostration, goodness. Through ethnicities, generations, color, cultures, countries, continents, age, timezones, differences. Quietly proving God is One

May Allah accept from us. Ameen

The Audacity

“But listen to me. For one moment
quit being sad. Hear blessings
dropping their blossoms
around you.”

~ Rumi

How many times do we go in circles refusing to willingly break free. Until death does the favor or so we think. We refuse to believe in the tangible reality of the hereafter inspite of knowing how unjust and helpless this world is.

We never stop to think that may be just may be the bottomless pit of our desires can only be quenched with something just as endless. Something that is beyond the reach of this fleeting world.

And which isn’t futile to pursue?

We blame God for all the bad around us, for raped dreams, for orphaned ambitions, for oppressed second lives, half dead parenthoods as if its the first time the world has been so brutal.

Fallow stag and flies at dawn.

As if this world was made for anything but this. “Where is God?, for crying out loud,” instead of dear “God, I need you, where should I be?

I am perpetually surprised at our ability to question God when our hearts are contracting but refuse to even acknowledge His presence for every blessing we are savoring, for every step forward, for every kite not yet devoured by the wind it plays with, the missed disasters even when the last recorded sin was not accompanied by a repentance.

The audacity.

But like a too well memorized sonnet we never forget to wonder where He is?

We don’t even feel the burden of our record books on our shoulder forgetting that the pen of the angels never run out of ink. Or deeds to record.

I ask myself why it is so easy to forget that this life and every drop of blood in our veins was accounted for, just like our deeds will be.

I’ve been investigating my jaded criminal nafs across the table. But it won’t confess. It rules me with an iron fist.

“Don’t you taste the regret of pending virtues and of sins committed like clockwork?”

“Almost”

 

 

A Quora Question

 

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So someone asked me on Quora Why do people convert to Islam even after knowing its origin and history? Of course they meant the alleged barbaric and violent spread of Islam. So before I post what I answered (the question was deleted and I’m a rebel who doesn’t like their voice muffled) I would love to know how common this is. I know a couple of people and I’m sure this is quite more common than I know.

So here’s the answer:-

Why do people convert to Islam even after knowing its origin and history?

I think it is exactly the origin and history of Islam that makes people convert to Islam.

First they are repulsed by what they hear of muslims. They want to know what ticks these people. And all they see is the tag of “muslim” so naturally its got something to do with that religion of theirs.

They’re so honestly concerned and enraged they want to find out all about it. Some people are just inquisitive. The degree of intrigue is different but the goal is the same: what does this religion teach? Why is it such an “oxymoron”?

And then they dig in, some playfully, some seriously, some with a lot of hate but a clean heart.

They try to know all about it from muslim as well as non muslims sources. Most can see through the crap and get to the bottom of it all.

They are shocked to know not only is islam better than that, it’s better than anything they’ve ever know.

And they convert because like a revert friend of mine once said about the conclusion, that islam was not false. Not only that, but it was true.

(end)

 

What do you think? Do you know anyone who got to studying islam out of spite and then converted?

Oh Ramadan

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It’s amazing how Ramadan seems to come exactly when we need it.

This will be my fourth in sha Allah and second without having to hide it from anyone.

The approach of Ramadan has always come with a lot of promises for me all these years. Last year this time, I did something that required so much courage even a fraction of which I knew I didn’t have.

I wrote a letter to my mom to reveal my conversion and saw her crumbling reading every line.

I like to think I’ve been an obedient child, choosing a conventional career path in an academic setting, something my parent thought apt for me. I like to think I had no option but then I also knew I was pretending. I didn’t like studies. I had an active left brain that breathed creativity. That was where I felt at home.

But I did what I felt was the right thing to do. I wanted to make my parents proud forgetting that being my own person was essential to doing anything worth their pride. It was a disappointment for my mother when I stood up for what I wanted to do or rather “did not” want to do. Of course she had my best interest at heart and it took her some time to see through them.

And then there was my reversion.

I’ve never been so sure and yet so cowardly. It was such an oxymoron now that I think of it. But then again this is when courage becomes the bravest choice you can make.

It literally took every ounce of my being to confess who I really was. But what was worse were the tears coming in the very eyes I never wanted to see them in. And to know I was the reason for it all. But indeed in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest. That was my only rope, only hope, only glimmer of light in a dark as a black hole world and that was all I needed.

And just as hard as it rained, subhanAllah it cleared faster. The sun was shining again, as bright as ever. I’d never imagined after all the show down, my mom would even accept my reversion let alone so quickly. Indeed Allah is Al Kareem and Al Fattah. And He surely never burdens a soul with more than it can bear.

I had accepted Islam ten days short of Ramadan. Two years later around the same time I revealed what mattered to me most to people that mattered most to me. And truly, it is a month where mercy is in abundance even at times when the sabr of a mother is being worn down. She would still find it in her to remind me to get up for suhoor, stock fruits and milk so I can fast with a full stomach. I fail to know how she prepared delicious iftar snacks for me carrying a dagger buried in her heart. How she prepared sheer korma just a little over a month after her world has come crashing down.

And then I remember the Source of all this mercy. May He give me the taufeeq to be patient with my mother. And show her how much she means to me inspite of failing to have sabr on the many occasions I’ve lost my cool.

It’s that time of the year again where veils fall off from the eyes of our heart like the autumn leaves. And I can swear there are miracles among us, living, breathing the same air we breathe, holding forbearance like it’s the only thing they ever inherited. Looking like the comfort of the home we come back to but always take for granted.

While I bask in the glow of its approach I pray this time won’t be any less magical, especially for my mother, especially for my mother.

Ya Allah, have mercy on my mother. Let her see the Light of Your Oneness. Turn to her in guidance and forgiveness. Ameen

Please keep me and my family in your duas, especially my mother.