Monthly Archives: December 2012

My Florida Experience (and knowledge and travels in general)

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I recently came back from a 5-day trip to Florida. It was completely unexpected because my family rarely travels in the winter. I knew we weren’t going to Disney World because it’s a waste of time and money and is mainly comprised of the useless attractions of the cartoon world. What I was looking forward to were the oranges, the orange juice, the orange trees and the orange farms. I love road trips and travelling in general, because it allows me to escape the mundane routines of life. I also love scenery and nature, so this was my kind of trip. I think travel also makes me more connected to Allah, and gives me time to reflect on my life. But as we made our way down towards Georgia, I started feeling somewhat lonely. I was there with my whole family, but I feel like something was missing. I missed my mom, yeah, and also my two best friends. On this vacation, everything was finally right. Everyone was getting along better than ever, but I still wasn’t truly at peace.  I thought and thought about what could be the cause of my fluctuating misery. I remembered IlmSummit. I remembered how I had made du’a and done Istikharah for IlmSummit. I counted the days remaining till Dec 31st when IlmSummit would end, and I compared my situation with those blessed students sitting in Houston. I was “vacationing” and they were learning, but why did I feel like they were the ones having fun? I kept asking my dad for his cell phone to check Facebook because my friend was regularly updating her status with what she was learning at IlmSummit. I felt so happy reading those few snippets of ‘ilm and advice. I was so sad, so heartbroken for myself, but so happy for her at the same time. Seeing similar posts from people about what they were learning at IlmSummit all over my Newsfeed kind of made me feel like I was sharing in their joy and their experiences. Considering how much I talk about IlmSummit online and in real life, I’m sure people start to wonder why I make such a big deal out of it. Why is IlmSummit so special when there are a gazillion Islamic programs out there? The answer is simple. It starts with a process. My *only* consistent source of Islamic knowledge is Al-Maghrib Institute at the moment. The classes are full of ‘ilm, advice,and enthusiasm, and my life takes positive turns with the end of each one, by the Grace of Allah. IlmSummit is the intensive, 10-day program for intermediate-advanced level students of Al-Maghrib who wish to take their knowledge and understanding to the next level. It doesn’t require a long-term commitment and is fairly affordable. Now, my academic/Islamic dream was to attend Umm al-Qura University. I wanted to become a shaykha. I was dedicated. I was motivated. I even got my documents ready. But then my entire world fell apart as the reality that I had been trying to ignore hit me like a glacier and caused me to sink to a place from which I’m still trying to get out. I need a mahram to live in Saudi Arabia with me. When I told friends and family about why my “Islamic Uni” plan was cancelled, some of them joked, “Why don’t you get married to a guy who wants to study Islam abroad?” Easier said than done. That made me wonder. A woman moves to wherever her husband lives. If his job is in another state, they move there. If it’s in another country, they move there. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that, but sometimes I really think that what if a woman wanted to move to a certain place for her education or work? Would her husband move with her? I have never heard of something like this happening, but I think it would be a miracle if it did (considering it was for Islamic or other legit reasons, of course). So I make du’a to Allah that He grant me a righteous spouse who is dedicated to attaining Islamic knowledge and would support me in my path to Islamic education. After that, I started exploring more options for Islamic knowledge (this time, in the U.S. alone). I thought about the Bayyinah DREAM Program. If I got accepted, I would leave everything and go. But I realized that it’s way too expensive. So for now, that’s also off the list. And I think my mom would never allow it, even if my dad would. So after that, I thought about Tooba University. Even if I can’t commute to Maryland everyday, I can still take classes online. But I’m already taking so many credits for college that I’d never be able to successfully complete the classes, so Tooba has to wait until I finish my Bachelor’s degree (because that’s when I’m officially taking a break from secular studies for a long time inshaAllah). So after all these awesome options were closed to me, I came to IlmSummit. It’s perfect in every way. Every year, I try to go and I even come so close to going, but then something gets in the way. The only reason that I was able to be patient with this was that I did Istikharah. Now that I think about it, my mom probably wouldn’t have allowed me to go to Texas alone, even if only for 10 days. I know my dad would say yes if he could afford it, but he can’t. Since Allah has ordained that obeying your parents is more important than seeking knowledge, I know I wouldn’t have been able to go even if my dad had been able to afford it. It takes a lot of patience on my part to see all the doors of higher Islamic knowledge being closed to me, after knowing that I have the potential to do all this study and then say “Alhamdulillah ‘ala kulli haal; my day will come inshaAllah.” All the teachers in my life have told me that, and I feel like every second that I am not involved in some Islamic knowledge pursuit, is wasted. When I go to the Al-Qalam library on Fridays, I see all the books and I sit down to read them, but then I feel like crying cause I think, “Now if only I had a teacher to teach these to me.” What keeps me going now is that I’m taking advantage of the Al-Huda eCampus online Ta’leemul-Qur’an Program that’s based in Canada. It’s a Tafseer program for the whole Qur’an and you can earn a certificate in it by the end of it which enables you to teach it to others. Ever since I started that program, understanding the Qur’an is so easy and I feel like Allah opens up new doors every time I sit down for a lesson. It’s hard to stay committed, though because I procrastinate a lot. I guess Allah wanted to teach me patience and commitment. It’s only what you work for that you value, and Islamic knowledge is not free.

Now that I’ve ended the sad IlmSummit/Islamic knowledge rant, I can go back to travels. I thought some more about my sad travel feelings and I realized that I was thinking about the times I went to India and Saudi. When I went to India, I felt at home because of the warm hospitality of my relatives. In Saudi, well, obviously, there is Makkah and Madinah, the two most peaceful places on earth. I realized that the places I wanted to be were places where there were a lot of Muslims; places where I would feel welcome and at home. I guess it was just Florida. I wasn’t having a very good masjid experience there, either. We went to a masjid in Orlando for Jumu’ah prayer and it was as if no one knew each other. The masjid was packed, but the smiles exchanged were few. There was a janazah later on and the man who died had a young daughter who was crying outside the masjid entrance while aunties were hugging her. It was depressing. I stood there for the longest time in the middle of the sidewalk, not knowing how to react. Others were doing the same. Meanwhile, in the area of the parking lot where our car was, the men were hugging each other like it was ‘Eid. I wished the sisters could have also shared salams and sisterly love like that. I went to the masjid a happy person and left feeling homesick. I was homesick for my house, for my local masajid, for all the Muslims I know here and for the warm smiles you give and receive in the masajid here.

Overall, this Florida trip made me realize several things: I don’t like any place too far from home, unless I’m going there purely for the Sake of Allah, cause I easily get homesick, but India is an exception, just because I feel somewhat connected to it. I love the Muslim community I live in, and it’s truly like no other; the Muslims here are like family. Something else I realized is that I like spending time with my family even if I feel like I don’t belong. Allahu A’lam if this will ever change, but I make du’a to Allah and hope for the best.

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Prayer: Levels of Performance

Ibn al-Qayyim (rahimahullaah) said:

And mankind, with regard to their performance of prayer are in five levels:

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The First: The level of the one who is negligent and wrongs his soul: He is the one who falls short in performing wudhoo properly, performing the prayer upon its time and within its specified limits, and in fulfilling its essential pillars.

The Second: The one who guards his prayers upon their proper times and within their specified limits, fulfills their essential pillars and performs his wudhoo with care. However, his striving (in achieving the above) is wasted due whisperings in his prayer so he is taken away by thoughts and ideas.

The Third: The one who guards his prayers within the specified limits, fulfills their essential pillars and strives with himself to repel the whisperings, thoughts and ideas. He is busy struggling against his enemy (Shaytaan) so that he does not steal from the prayer. On account of this he is engaged in (both) prayer and jihaad.

The Fourth: The one who stands for the prayer , completes and perfects its due rights, its essential pillars, performs it within its specified limits and his heart becomes engrossed in safeguarding its rights and specified limits, so that nothing is wasted from it. His whole concern is directed towards its establishment, its completion and its perfection, as it should be. His heart is immersed in the prayer and in enslavement to his Lord the Exalted.

The Fifth: The one who stands for the prayer like the one mentioned above. However, on top of this, he has taken and placed his heart in front of his Lord Azzawajall, looking towards Him with his heart with anticipation, (his heart) filled with His love and His might, as if he sees and witnesses Allaah. The whisperings, thoughts and ideas have vanished and the coverings which are between him and his Lord are raised. What is between this person and others with respect to the prayer, is superior and greater than what is between the heavens and the earth. This person is busy with his Lord Azzawajall, delighted with Him.

The First type will be punished,
the second type will be held to account,
the third will have his sins and shortcomings expiated,
the fourth will be rewarded and

the fifth will be close to his Lord, because he will receive the portion of the one who makes his prayer the delight and pleasure of his eye. Whoever makes his prayer,the delight and pleasure of his eye, will have the nearness to his Lord Azzawajall made the delight and pleasure of his eye in the hereafter. He will also be made a pleasure to the eye in this world since whoever makes Allaah the pleasure of his eye in this world, every other eye will become delighted and pleased with him.

~

Author: Ibn al-Qayyim
Source: Al-Waabil us-Sayyib (Eng. Trans. by Abu `Iyad as-Salafi)

Ramblings of a Hypersomniac

Sleep sleeps forever and your life seems to move.

Stuck.

You wake up.

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You missed the trains.

One after another.

Worries depart.

Always another one.

Morrow comes.

Life laughs.

You don’t like it.

Dreams.

More friends or foes?

Can they help?

Stuck.

Sleep sleeps forever

but what if wake also fell asleep?

[I’m not really a hypersomniac; at least, I don’t think I am. I was doing a paper for Bio and ended up “diagnosing” myself, but lol, I think I’m fine when I make du’a, Maybe I just have fatigue. And plus, this is not only about sleep. It’s about stress and life and all that…]

Yusha Evans – Purifying your Soul – GMU

When I listen to certain ayat, ahadith, quotes or lectures while being depressed or feeling low on Iman, their impact on me is much greater than if I am in a normal state of mind. I listened to this lecture on Thanksgiving night. It was Black Friday and I wanted to keep myself busy lest I fall into the materialism trap of going shopping. In my old blog, I explain my journey with Black Friday in more detail. To keep myself from going shopping, I also promised my dad that I won’t go to Black Friday for the rest of my life. Sounds harsh, right? Maybe a little extreme? For me, it’s just part of some of the standards I have set for myself. Less shopping actually makes me feel closer to Allah. I actually feel like I have accomplished something great by controlling my spending habits. So I sat in the house and listened to lectures all night long, but the one that really touched me was this one: