Ramadan Essay Competition | Date extended!
Assalamualaikum kids! Ramadan Mubarak! We hope it's been going great for you and you're getting used to waking up at Suhoor. Even if you aren't fasting yet, or not fasting the whole month yet, you must still be enjoying the awesome spirit of this precious month, Alhumdulillah.
Last month, we unveiled our Ramadan Essay competition! You've been given lots of time to write up a short essay on how Ramadan is like for your family. And what's up for grabs? Share the Deen's fabulous “Islamic Match Game” to the three top winners, inshā'Allāh! :) So what are you waiting for? Check the details on the competition post here and quickly send in your entries.
Another *bonus* for you here is that we've extended the date to 21st August. Yes, inshā'Allāh, you now have a week extra to send in your essay… but make sure you do it quick! :) inshā'Allāh!
Reflections on Hardships and Trials by Sr Nur Kose
During our adventure in this year's ISNA convention in Chicago, we had to walk a lot! And even though we missed our weekly exercise class, I didn't feel at all guilty that I wasn't exercising enough because I felt like I hadn't walked this much in my entire life! Not even during previous ISNA and ICNA conventions because the Rosemont Convention center is the biggest I have ever been to.
And the most surprising thing that happened was that I actually figured out how to get around by the second day there! That was the surprising thing.
The bad thing – the thing I didn't like was that some lecture halls were in the hotel next to the convention center and not in the convention center itself. This required much more walking and much more rushing to catch the next lecture. It was like a pattern. The first lecture I wanted to go to would be in the convention center and the next would be in the hotel and then in the convention center. It would be easier to catch everything if they didn't start right after the previous one ended.
Because of this, I missed some of the lectures I had really looked forward to attending.
But alḥamdulillāh, I am satisfied that I pretty much enjoyed the ISNA convention.
The 'Gripping the Coal for the Sake of Your Soul' lecture was in the Hyatt hotel which was about 15 minutes walking distance away from the bazaar in the convention center.
The first speaker was Sr. Yasmin Mogahed. It was pretty cool seeing her there after reading so many of her articles on suhaibwebb.com. :)
Sr. Yasmin talked about the meaning and purpose of hardship. She gave an analogy in the beginning.
Picture this. You have a very dirty rug on your floor which has the dirty results of a year's mess. You like this rug a lot because it looks so pretty, but now it's so dirty and dusty that you decided to clean it.
What do you do? You drag the rug outside and hang it up in a tree branch or a clothesline. Then you get a stick and, with all your energy, you beat the rug with that stick.
Why are you doing that? Imagine your little toddler brother coming outside to see what you're doing.
“What are you doing?” he asks worriedly.
“I'm … beating … the … rug,” you answer, breathless.
“Why are you hurting the rug?” he cries.
“I'm not hurting it,” you say. ”I'm just taking all the dirty stuff off it so it becomes clean again.”
The purpose of beating the rug isn't to hurt it but to purify it.
Similarly, when Allāh sends hardships to test us, He isn't trying to hurt us but to purify us.
But how can that purify us? When someone goes through easy times, he might forget Allāh. But when hard times come, he remembers Allāh and asks Allāh to help him.
Think about it like this. If a kid has all the toys he could possibly want, he doesn't think he needs to make du‘ā’ for anything else. But just when the newest coolest thing comes out – Play Station 4 – then he wants it so badly. Then he remembers Allāh and makes du‘ā’ to Allāh all the time and asks Him to give him a PS4.
So it's with Allāh's mercy that He sends hardships to us to shake us and wake us up to turn back to Allāh. He wants us to reach the state of tadarrah.
Sr. Yasmin said that people often translate 'tadarrah' as 'humility', but the meaning goes far more than that. Imagine a person in the middle of the ocean. He's sailing along fine and gazing at the beautiful waves. Then, suddenly, he happens to catch a glance at the sky. Dark luminous clouds build up and darken the sky.
The wind and water start howling. Waves crash against the sides of the person's boat. He struggles to hold on. Suddenly, a huge wave of water goes over the boat and soaks him with water. This person isn't an expert sailor, and even if he was, he knows that the possibility of drowning is very high.
This person realizes that death is near and that there is no one except Allāh who can help him. So he turns to Allāh in desperation and this is 'tadarrah'.
When we are in hardship, our du‘ā’ is so different than when we are in easy times. We are so much more closer to Allāh.
What do we do with gold when we want to remove the impurities from it? We heat it up. So that is what Allāh is doing when He sends us hardships to remove our impurities.
What causes most pain in life is a source of attachment to other than Allāh. The problem is that we seek and depend on the wrong things.
When the storm comes, we want refuge and the only place we can find true refuge is in turning to Allāh.