Is It Really a Sacrifice? Giving and Giving Up for the Sake of Allah: Ramadan Reflection #4 

   
 

Salam everyone! 

So this has been on the back burner for a really long time because I didn’t know what else to make of it, and I’m still trying to figure it out for myself every day.
When we talk about giving things for the sake of Allah(swt) we usually refer to money or our time. We don’t think about giving our energy, patience, love, happiness, sincerity etc. You can give these things. You probably do all the time, and find yourself exhausted. It’s okay to be exhausted, it’s natural. And it’s better to be tired doing good things for others than the reverse. I guess I’m kinda stuck on keeping a balance where I’m still being myself, protecting myself, but at the same time not draining myself to the point where I become indifferent or don’t feel anymore. Lots of times we give and don’t receive. It’s fine in the beginning, you have the best intentions, but no lie after awhile it’s just one way. You’ll find that you’re easily 100 percent with some people and other percentages with others. It varies and for good reason. Allah (swt) knows what we give and what we keep. He knows how much of ourselves we pour in or hide away. It eats at you and sometimes you feel like others are also feeling that way too. Chances are they probably do or don’t. It’s something to contend with and battle on your own. The best people are those who smile through it all and give constantly without receiving or mentioning their favors. We need to be like that. We need to do what we want others to do for us.  We need to give, because someday someone will return the favor for you-care for you extra, wanna spend more time than even you can stand to be around you sometimes. Wait for that, I promise it’ll come. Give the best of you because there’s plenty of people out there that want someone  like you to be their friend or companion. You’re worth something to someone, even if you barely see them or know them. You can do one good deed and have that be your saving grace, or saving someone’s day. 
Now when we can literally do things that displease Allah (swt) He knows that. There’s nothing to stop us if you think about it. But that’s where the struggle comes in. You have the choice to take and take and enjoy. You have the ability to absorb it all while you can, and not give back. But the beautiful thing is that even when you have those freedoms, you give them up. You give up what grants you automatic happiness. You give up what makes you look good, look better, and at peace even for a moment. You give it up because you know there’s better to really save. You give up and you feel like a part of you is gone or cut off. But we all know that when parts of the body get really inflected, back in the day they used to just get rid of the part and you were okay. But this is even more healing; you have to cleanse yourself not of the act, the act isn’t the problem, it’s the need as Yasmin Mogahed once said. (Butcher paraphrase sorry) 

This may take a life time to do or months. But in time you’ll see that those parts you give up to Allah (swt) will be returned to you free and clean of impurities and pain. It’s just a matter of time. 
The Nabi (pbuh) said this quote:  

  And this: tell the truth to yourself as well.
And this by Yasmin Mogahed:
  

Allah (swt) made you to be there for someone. He trusts us, He wants us to embody the Nabi Muhammad’s (pbuh) characteristics. And we all know that our characteristics and his are from Allah (swt), the Most Merciful, Kind and Compassionate. He put this in us too, even if it’s a little.
So give and give up. But do it for His sake. Because you’ll find that people are never satisfied, but He is free of this need. May we continue to need Him, and have the ability to ask and beg Him only.

If I said anything or misquoted something, it’s of my own fault and recklessness. All in good hopes that this’ll ring to you as it continues to me. I’m fasting, but writers eat their words all the time. It’s personal like that.
-Sarah  

Al Alim, العليم The All Knowing: Ramadan Reflection #3 (Taraweeh Chills/Epiphanies)

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Salam everyone!

Oh man. With every Taraweeh I find myself becoming more and more speechless. I’m doing my best to understand the words as a I listen, absorb them, think of situations where they apply in my life…I find myself day-dreaming and distracted…subhanAllah. But what better time to be lost  then in salah in front of your Creator?

This may sound is simplistic, but imagine yourself as not a Muslim, not a member of a faith just a person who’s watching Muslims pray…The way we pray is truly something different. I like the way we pray. Aside from my personal love with sitting and sleeping on the floor, coming into a large space that is clean, simple, with no furniture or anything of abstraction, it’s just you, your body’s mechanics, the floor, and the Lord. Simple.

My favorite part of salah is sujood. I’m sure it’s everyone else’s too, but for good reason. With nothing around you to stumble over or have your way blocked, you put every ounce of your ego, your being, onto a surface that means nothing. The floor is what you’re reduced to. It’s interesting because I keep thinking of how I am as a person, as a creation, and even though I HATE feeling small, I don’t mind it when I’m praying, especially when I’m standing and bowing united with my family in Islam. It’s not only humbling, but soothing. It lets you know that you’re not the only one, that your small so no one can see your true colors except Him. There are so many of us that we don’t stand out to Allah (swt) unless we prove it to Him that we are worthy, that we stand out in our deeds. Yet even then, if we are crappy, feeling low, or not doing as much as we should, He sees you when no one else does. He knows your pain, your struggle, and He’s not too “busy” or “distant” for you. This takes time to sink in because He’s this great. Allahu Akbar.He is greater than our problems. His comfort is greater than our self mandated misery.

During Taraweeh prayer these past two nights, one name of the 99 kept sending chills and was louder than the rest of them. Al-Alim. The All-Knowing.

I thought about all the reasons why He is this during my prayer. I went from embarrassing thoughts to destructive life situations. I was emotional the whole spectrum.

When I got home, I was so tired, mentally and physically. I barely changed my clothes and just got in bed and thought about why this name getting louder and louder in my head. I came to two reasons why this name matters, even though there are more, but these are mine for the moment:

1) In the past years I’ve become more and more…um…ruthless when it comes to people that hurt my friends, family, country etc. I’m so frustrated that I can’t do anything about it. I want to protect people. I feel much bigger than I look, much stronger, so I automatically feel like I can do anything some days. But to keep it short, I don’t pray for oppressors. Frankly, I don’t wish them well. Maybe this makes me a bad person for not being forgiving or whatever, but I can’t. I also don’t care enough to pray against them, but I do know that God is the most Just. He know what those leaders do, everything. And even though they live the high life now, I know that the Lord’s recompense is just. He won’t let those who do good go unrewarded. And He will always side with the oppressed. So when I think of leaders and men who harm my people, children, anyone, I know that God sees them. He sees them even when they don’t see themselves.

2) People think they can control everything. Plan everything. We are all guilty of this. I’m slowly getting over this and trying to let go. I grew up with the words “mashi” “inshAllah” “beenmashi”- words that should mean more, words that shut me up sometimes, words that mean no, words that tell me not to stress and let it flow. He knows what you want. He knows what will make you happy and at peace. And if no one else is listening to you, He is. And despite people trying to influence your decisions, put you down, slow you down, ruin your hope, He knows more than them. He knows everything. There’s comfort in this, because you can confess to Him all your worries, your cliche thoughts, your silly emotions, anything. And even though He isn’t literally talking back like people, you can open the Quran and one ayah can speak to you. Then it becomes a no brainer. Be patient Sarah, is basically what I’m trying to condition myself to do. To be. With this, know that despite what people may want for you, you know what makes you happy, admit to that. Admit you’re stubborn, admit you’re not in control. It’s an ego eraser, but we need it. And when people put obstacles that get in the way of your happiness, stay patient. Stay focused,  and true to your heart and soul. Nothing’s worse than lying to  the Lord, but lying to yourself comes next. Fragile thing your heart is…we’d do anything to keep it safe. The heart does such reckless spending. May we spend it in His cause, for people we love for His sake. He knows the ways in which we spend.

This is all I got for now, but I had to get this off my chest. Actually, when people say that, it’s never really off is it?

Best prayers, and chills even when there’s no AC.

-Sarah

Make it Count (Do my deeds count? What have I done so far?): Ramadan Reflection #2

Salam everyone!

So I sort of had an epiphany the other night…and the thought kept creeping up on me but I was trying to ignore it because frankly, I was not ready to think of it myself or talk about it. I don’t think I’m ready to present my deeds to Allah (swt). Will we ever be? I guess the answer is no for some, yes for others, and so so for some. I thought about all the things I’ve done in my short life of 21. I tried to think…but it was impossible to remember everything; the bad, the good, the maybe good…Then the intentions behind my actions also surfaced. I began to question myself and think really hard on why I did certain things despite what my heart or mind said. The truth of the matter is, it’s easier to think of your intentions for an action after completing said action. The day that we will all remember what we’ve done in life is on the day of judgement. This is fact and set in stone. Our lives will literally “flash” before us; but if we can somehow have something, a treasure box of deeds, to save for Allah (swt) then why not? I was told by a dear friend that I should always reflect before I sleep; forgive, forget etc. I find myself staying up longer than I usually do just thinking in general, but it’s truly done some justice.

This isn’t a very deep reflection or anything, I just feel like I’m not the only one who thinks about this kind of stuff. I mean think, what have we done really? Even if we did do good things, how do we know they are accepted? These are some rhetorical questions that run through my mind all the time…

I had a skeikh remind me that even though we pray, fast, give charity etc. we should, in our prayers, ask God to accept those actions. We cannot just assume that once we complete a good deed that it gets accepted; after all, the only reason we enter Jannah is not by our deeds, but by His Mercy. My easiest example for this  would be how we do things for our moms. Moms know how to do it all, I mean they don’t need our expertise or help, they will always play their role better than we ever could. But my point is, Allah (swt) doesn’t need favors, yet we do good deeds so that we make Him be pleased with us, even though He continues to love us and give us despite doing any good for His sake. Parents are like this too. When we wanna go somewhere, we sweep the kitchen clean so that our moms say yes. Do we do it because they can’t sweep? No, we do it to gain their favor, approval…happiness. Same with Allah (swt). These deeds will only help us, or hurt us. Unlike our parents, He will never need favors, but if we don’t do anything to gain His mercy, then there’s way we could “go out” for the night (aka die and go to Jannah).

In summary,

I think we should 1) reflect any chance we get 2) renew your intentions constantly 3) prove it to yourself and Allah (swt). You don’t ever need to explain your deeds to anyone. That’s your business, and only He knows what we “reveal and conceal.” 4) always ask for Him to accept. 5) in our prayers, say thank you. just a thank you, after all, why should anyone give you more if you don’t show appreciation?

Hope this helps…it is for me!

Now off to end the night with deep thoughts and food pregnancy.

-Sarah

“Be like the river…not the still lake.” Ramadan Reflection: Is My Heart Moving? 

  1. Always be weary of your heart. Is it shaking? Is it still? Is it moving? Wallah you guys, one of the worst things we can have is a dead heart. Don’t let your trials and hardships harden you. Your soul is partnered with your heart, like a two friends who are running together, free. Just imagine one slows down and stops, and the other wishes to run with him freely. At times we become indifferent because of the pain we endure, but indifference kills. Let small things move you. Really absorb kind words and soft whispers. For us this month, as it should be every day, let the words of the Quran…the musings echo inside you. The echoes will bounce looking for a way out, but you have to contain this, let them break the walls you’ve put up. It’s a battle within to let Him in. Let Allah (swt) in. God is the only being that would never hurt us-but it only hurts until it helps. If it takes a few tears or a night of sobbing, go for it. Allow yourself to be the realest and rawest…with Him. 

“Be like the river that runs, no secrets just freedom, strong enough to move on, be not like the still lake…”

-Venezuelan saying 
#Ramadan reflections