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Hakeem Olajuwon: Faith Through Action

Omar Usman

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nba_dime2_268.jpgHakeem Olajuwon is insha’Allah being inducted to the Hall of Fame today. Having grown up in Houston, I have fond memories of Hakeem and the work he did, not just on the court, but in the community as well. I remember a long time back he organized some basketball tournaments between the Houston masaajid, and the patience with which he would meet everyone at the masjid when they were asking for his autographs. I remember the Hakeem Olajuwon bottled water given out one year at Eid. And I still remember a story from Eid when a friend of mine saw him sitting on the floor before Eid salah and asked him for his autograph, and Hakeem simply told him after salah. In fact, I remember the reaction of all my friends and my family’s friends after the Rockets won the championship almost rivaling that of an Eid celebration.

I remember watching an afternoon game with the Rockets (I never missed a single game of theirs on TV when I was younger), and he was playing while fasting. It may sound a bit cheesy, but for someone at a young age to see someone like Hakeem the DREAM on national TV, fasting, playing at a high level without a single sip of water or Gatorade, and still dominating everyone – it leaves a lasting impression. I couldn’t tell you who they played that day or who won, but I remember – as a Muslim child – being proud of seeing that, and it being an inspiration to me to fast no matter what the situation.

He is one of the few Muslims who have reached bonafide celebrity status, yet, retained a positive reputation and image with the community at large. It is even more impressive, that Muslims and non-Muslims alike credit his character to his dedication to his deen.

Mario Elie, a former teammate of his on their championship teams, said about Hakeem in what I thought was a very interesting read,

I met Hakeem at the first practice after I got traded from Portland to Houston. I could tell right away what a good guy he was. He went about his business in a professional way. He was very quiet, but when you’re on a team, you get to click with all of your teammates. He was our star.

Off the court, he laughed and had fun. But once it was game time, he was focused, like a completely different person. I could count on one hand how many bad games he had during the time I was in Houston, and that’s saying a lot right there. He played at an extremely high level.

Hakeem was an amazing leader. Going into Islam and getting deep into his religion really helped him with his discipline and focus as opposed to his prior years where had some problems. He prayed five times a day. During Ramadan, he didn’t eat all day (I think Shareef Abdur-Rahim does the same thing). The average guy had to eat and drink water during the course of a game. Hakeem got up at 5 a.m. to eat and then didn’t eat again until after sundown.

With an 82-game schedule with games starting at 7:30 pm, that’s hard. But it never affected his game.

He was our star, and guys counted on him every night to be that star, block shots, do what he did. He went out and did his job. He’s “The Dream” — he played hard whether he ate or not. It’s a credit to his mental toughness.

But he kept his religion very personal. He never approached me about it. He’s very private and personal off the court. In our five years playing together, I may have seen him twice off the court. He was always in his hotel room. He wore his white gown, prayed all the time.

I think soccer really helped him as a player. Dream is closer to 6-9, but played bigger than his height. He would play one-on-one with the guards, he’s that amazing of an athlete. He could run, had a jump hook, jump shot, the total package.

He doesn’t get the credit he deserves as being one of the best centers of all time. I keep hearing people put Shaq in front of him, and that’s an insult. Dream was an 85-percent free throw shooter. Shaq never led the league in blocks or won Defensive Player of the Year. It was a great time for centers, but the best of all those guys bar none, including Shaq, Robinson, Ewing, Alonzo … it was Dream. He was just a little better than those guys.

There’s one memory from those days that really sticks with me. I always tell my friends this story. We were playing the Knicks in the Finals, and we were down 3-2 going back home.

At the hotel, I was distraught, talking about how upset I was about the situation. Hakeem’s hotel room was on the same floor as me. He and some of his Muslim buddies were cooking fish, smelling up the whole floor. I was so frustrated about the series, and when I walk out of my room, here comes Hakeem smiling like nothing had happened.

He said, “Mario, don’t worry about it, we’re going home.”

He was relaxed as could be, it just it lifted my spirits and made me smile.

The confidence this guy had in himself and our team raised us, it was amazing. I just smiled. In Game 6, he makes a last-second block, we win Game 7 and win our first title. I was amazed that whole summer after that end result. That will stick with me the rest of my life.

Another time like that was when we were down 3-1 in Phoenix in the 1995 Playoffs. Hakeem was sitting next to me on the airplane. He looked over and said “Let’s go surprise them.” We ended up winning the series. It’s his confidence that made him the man he was and is. That’s what he did. When you look at him, he’s a pillar of strength and you could grab on to it.

This induction is amazing. I’m also a big fan of Patrick, he’s a tremendous player and person. God is good. These guys battled in college, then in the NBA and now are entering the Hall together. I wish I could be there to support the guys, but Coach Carlisle is working me in Dallas. I’ll have to call Clyde after and find out how it went. I couldn’t be happier for Hakeem. He is a good man, and I love him.

(ESPN TrueHoop)

Check out more of the Hall of Fame coverage and some highlights about Hakeem – including an article on his halal real estate investing.

Omar Usman is a founding member of MuslimMatters and Qalam Institute. He teaches Islamic seminars across the US including Khateeb Workshop and Fiqh of Social Media. He has served in varying administrative capacities for multiple national and local Islamic organizations. You can follow his work at ibnabeeomar.com.

17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Avatar

    iMuslim

    September 5, 2008 at 6:43 PM

    I was just wondering recently what Muslim sportspeople do during Ramadan… Alhamdulillah, now I know! Masha’Allah, he seems like a good role model (at least when compared to the others you find in sports!). Allah knows best the good in him; may He make him better than I think he is, ameen.

  2. Avatar

    H.Ahmed

    September 5, 2008 at 7:56 PM

    Mashallah, Hakeem Olajuwon is a great role model. Hakeem was arguably the 2nd best basketball player in the 1990s (only to Michael Jordan) – and achieved the highest success at both the individual and team level in the NBA. He dominated all the other big men of his time, yet he always stayed humble and grounded. (he was also my favorite basketball player growing up!!!!) Mad props to “the dream”!!!!

  3. Avatar

    Reem

    September 5, 2008 at 8:31 PM

    my dad was a friend of his and i think my mom was a friend of his wifes

  4. Avatar

    abdul-alim

    September 6, 2008 at 1:57 AM

    As-Salaam Alaykum,

    What I will always remember the most about the brother was that he had in his house a huge room that was for salat only, with just a marble white floor, the Quran had a place of reverence, and white walls. That’s all that was in the room. It had a touch of class about it. It’s great that he is being honor during Ramadan.

    Wassalam,
    Abdul-Alim

  5. Avatar

    AbdulNasir

    September 6, 2008 at 8:15 AM

    The first time I met him was when I was about 12 years old. There was a Qiyaam-ul-Layl program in Houston, so my father drove down with me and a couple of other young huffaadh to participate. Well guess who attended? HAKEEM OLAJUWON!!! Afterwards he sat with us and invited us to have food with him. MashaAllah he was very encouraging and told us how it was his dream ;) to memorize the Quran.

  6. Avatar

    Al Iskandarani

    September 6, 2008 at 12:45 PM

    I was actually a BIG TIME Orlando Magic fan growing up (still am), so I was actually pretty upset when Hakeem schooled them in the Finals for the 1994-95 season. Still, I couldn’t help but have respect for Br. Hakeem all through those years – like you, I was so proud to see him play during Ramadan.

    May Allah bless him and his family for all the good work he does both in the States and in Africa.

    P.S. – It’s pretty cool how the two best centers in NBA history are both Muslim (the other being Kareem Abdul-Jabbar).

  7. Avatar

    My H-town

    September 6, 2008 at 10:01 PM

    Mashallah!! SubhanAllah, Br. Hakeem’s humbleness shines clearly on his face. I remember when they won their first championship and there was parade in downtown Houston. It was delayed a couple of hours because he was praying jumu’a. Not a single person amongst the thousands lining the downtown streets, nor the commentators complained one bit. They actually gave him mad props for being a devout Muslim. When they won their second title, Houston made sure not to conflict with prayer times.

    One cool story: my cousin ran into Br. Hakeem at the masjid and took advantage of the opportunity to give him an invitation to his wedding. Hakeem actually RSVPed!! How many desis do that?!?! He called and left a message saying he was sorry he had a game that evening and made dua’ for the couple. =)

  8. Pingback: Open Thread 9-7-08: MM Ramadan Recap | MuslimMatters.org

  9. Ali Shehata

    Ali Shehata

    September 8, 2008 at 7:21 PM

    Jazakum Allahu khair for this article. It increased my already big love for this beautiful brother. May Allah continue to make him a shining light of manners and excellence for all that know him.

  10. Avatar

    MR

    September 9, 2008 at 4:07 PM

    David Robinson said:

    “During the season, he would go fasting in the month of Ramadan and then he would always come back and beat us all up after his fasting time. So we always dreaded the fasting month but you could always respect him because of his committment to his faith and it just seemed to be his strength.”

    Check out more on my blog:
    http://www.mujahideenryder.net/2008/09/09/david-robinson-dreadead-playing-hakeem-the-dream-in-ramadan/

  11. Avatar

    AbdulNasir Jangda

    September 9, 2008 at 5:59 PM

    “During the season, he would go fasting in the month of Ramadan and then he would always come back and beat us all up after his fasting time. So we always dreaded the fasting month but you could always respect him because of his committment to his faith and it just seemed to be his strength.”

    From what I remember, David Robinson always dreaded playing Hakeem. ;)

  12. Avatar

    Abu 'Umar

    September 11, 2008 at 7:43 AM

    Why don’t more of our young people take some like Hakim Olajuwon as a role model, rather than all these disbelieving and corrupt sports and entertainment figures? Our young people need good contemporary role models, (the Prophet [s.a.w] is the best of role models, but sometimes young people need to see something visual), and should be encouraged to look into the lives of modern Muslims like Hakim Olajuwon, Malcolm X, ‘Abdullah ‘Azzam, and others like them.

  13. Avatar

    ANon

    September 12, 2008 at 5:20 PM

    Hakim donated alot of money to build an Islamic school in Toronto-their goes his sadaqa jariah inshaAllah.

    • Avatar

      nabil

      April 10, 2010 at 6:30 PM

      Do you know what the name of the school, that Hakeem Built was it would be very helpful. Thanks

  14. Avatar

    Mohammad Asim

    February 25, 2009 at 3:43 AM

    salam everyone. May I know the email or any contact of Hakim. I want to discuss school project with him.

    -Sorry, we don’t have his contact… he would be hard to reach is our guess. -Editor

  15. Pingback: 10 Inspiring Muslims Who Define #BlackExcellence MuslimGirl.net

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#Current Affairs

Do You Know These Heroes of Eid?

Ramadan is a time of sacrifice, and the Eid honors and celebrates the fulfillment of that sacrifice. But for many the hardships do not end.

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Rohingya children

Ramadan is a time of sacrifice, and the Eid honors and celebrates the fulfillment of that sacrifice. But for many the hardships do not end.

Between one million and three million Muslims are being detained in concentration camps in China, while masjids are being demolished and imams executed.

The Rohingya Muslims of Burma continue to suffer from terrible persecution. In one Rohingya refugee camp on the Burma / Bangladesh border there are half a million children. These children are banned by the Burmese authorities from attending school and are at risk of early marriage, child labor or being trafficked.

In the Central African Republic, the Muslim minority lives in daily fear of being killed, especially in the south.

The Palestinians continue to suffer after seventy years of occupation, with no end in sight.

Russian and Assad regime attacks on civilians continue in Syria, with the real possibility of an upcoming genocide in Idlib province.

Heroes Abound

In the midst of this all suffering, heroes abound. There’s Serikzhan Bilash of Kazakhstan, who has labored feverishly to document China’s internment of Muslims across the border. He urges those in his organization to continue their work, even as he himself has been arrested.

Those Rohingya children I mentioned in the refugee camp, banned from attending school? One 14-year-old Rohingya girl mentioned in the article has managed to enroll in school in Bangladesh. Her mother sold her food rations and borrowed money to create a fake Bangladeshi birth certificate, then paid a smuggler to take her daughter out of the camp. The girl herself says, “People hate the Rohingya here. I don’t tell people I am one… I have to lie about my identity to survive. Even though it’s a big struggle… I am able to study. There are hundreds of thousands of kids like me inside of the camps who are forced to marry off early…They have no opportunities.”

Also in that camp is 13-year-old Halim, who runs his own tutoring service, where he teaches more than 20 children. He says, “I am teaching them so they can do something for our nation. If they don’t learn anything, they can’t prosper in their life, as well as they can’t fight for the nation.”

Razan al-Najjar

Razan al-Najjar

In Palestine, let us not forget Razan al-Najjar, a 21-year-old volunteer paramedic from Gaza who was shot by an Israeli sniper on June 1, 2018, while tending to a tear gas victim. In her last Facebook post, the day before she was killed, she wrote, “Your conscience will be comforted as much as possible since God always knows your intention. #sleep_well Be good.”

In Syria, we have Dr. Omar Ibrahim, an Egyptian neurosurgeon who could probably be earning a hefty salary anywhere in the world, but instead labors under constant bombardment in the war-torn and half crushed city of Idlib. He’s been in Syria for five years and says, “I have no regrets about doing this work. Because I have passion for my work, and this work inspires me.”

A Religion of Heroes

Dr. Omar Ibrahim

Dr. Omar Ibrahim

Such stories are amazing, but they are not unique. There are countless heroes, and should that surprise us? Islam is a religion of heroes, and has always been so, going all the way back to its inception in Makkah, when the Prophet Muhammad (sws) drew around himself the weak and powerless, the slaves and foreigners. They were tortured, but did not surrender their new faith. Heroes.

Or, several years later, when the disbelievers of Arabia came in great numbers to wipe the Muslims off the face of the earth. The Muslims dug a great trench around Madinah, and held off the attackers under conditions of hunger and terrible cold, until – with Allah’s help – the siege was broken. Heroes.

So if you thought such heroes were a thing of the past, remember Serikzhan Bilash, the Rohingya girl, Halim, Razan al-Najjar, Dr. Omar Ibrahim and the untold, uncounted heroes like them. You may even know a few heroes personally. I do.

There’s my friend Karim, who works for an organization that sponsors Muslim orphans. He’s overworked and underpaid, and struggles to support his family and two children. He’s highly experienced and could earn more somewhere else. But he sticks with it because he believes in Islamic work.

I think also of my daughter’s homeroom teacher, sister Sharmeen. She’s an enthusiastic teacher who pushes the children to read, write and understand the roots of language. She does more than is required and is not appreciated as she should be. But once again, her passion drives her.

Persistence of Dua’

Our local Imam recently gave a khutbah about the importance of dua’. He said that Allah loves the dua’ that is persistent. Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in al-Daa’ wa’l-Dawa’: “One of the most beneficial of remedies is persisting in dua’.”

So be persistent. Pray for our suffering Ummah, and pray for our heroes. And donate whatever you can spare to the organizations that work on their behalf.

My Ordinary Life

As for me, my life is ordinary. On the morning of Eid, I, my mother and my daughter Salma – who is twelve years old now – wake up early and put on our best clothes, inshaAllah. We get in the car and stop at Krispy Kreme donuts.  I buy a box of a dozen to share with others after Salat al-Eid, and a few extras in a bag for our family, so we don’t have to wait in a long line and elbow people to snatch a cruller.

I pick up my cousin’s son, who does not have a car. We go downtown to the Fresno convention center and sit among a thousand other Muslims. We recite the Takbeerat al-Eid, praising Allah’s greatness. The Eid salat begins, then I strain to hear the khutbah as so many people begin chattering right away. Especially, the sisters. Sorry ladies, but it’s true :-)

I know, it all sounds a bit silly, but I’m excited. It’s a wonderful day. I see brothers that I haven’t seen since last year. Everyone is wearing their best outfits.

But it’s not about the donuts or the nice clothes. It is this feeling of sharing a connection with every Muslim around the world; a feeling of being part of something great.

When we return home, my mother makes cookies, and we put some decorations on the walls. Salma opens her presents, which this year are a new Switch game, a dartboard and a pearl necklace. It’s the first piece of real jewelry I’ve ever bought her. Buying it left me with $18 in my bank account, which means I predict a lot of Uber driving (my side job) in my near future. So I hope she likes it.

On such days, I thank Allah that I am alive to see another sunrise. Another day to strive to be a better Muslim and a better human being.

The Spirit of the Prophets

I also talk to Salma, as I do every year, about our Muslim brothers and sisters who are struggling all over the world, fighting for their freedom and their very survival. They don’t have pizza and donuts on Eid or pearl necklaces. Some are starving. Most have lost someone: a parent, a child, a sibling or a friend. Some have been utterly devastated.

Yet they are resolute. They have a deep strength that, like the well of Zamzam, never runs dry, SubhanAllah. They will not give up their hopes, their dreams or their faith, Allah willing.

These are the real heroes of Eid. I feel small next to them. They are the ones living the spirit of the Prophets and the Sahabah. They have made the greatest sacrifices, and are still striving, undaunted. They are living the words of Allah:

Say: ‘Verily, my ṣalāh, my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are all for Allāh, the Lord of the ‘Alameen’ (6:162).

May Allah ease the hearts of all who are suffering, replace pain with comfort and joy, sickness with health, oppression with liberation, and tyranny with freedom. May Allah give them security, safety, comfort, victory, and Jannah.

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#Islam

Swallowing Your Pride For A Moment Is Harder Than Praying All Night | Imam Omar Suleiman

Imam Omar Suleiman

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Iblees was no ordinary worshipper. He worshipped Allah for thousands of years with thousands of prayers. He ascended the ranks until he accompanied the angels with his noteworthy worship. Performing good deeds was no issue for him. He thanked Allah with his prayers, and Allah rewarded him with a lofty station in Paradise. But when Adam was created and given the station that he was, suddenly Iblees was overcome by pride. He couldn’t bear to see this new creation occupy the place that he did. And as he was commanded to prostrate to him, his pride would overcome him and doom him for eternity. Alas, swallowing his pride for one prostration of respect to Adam was more difficult to him than thousands of prostrations of worship to Allah.

In that is a cautionary lesson for us especially in moments of intense worship. When we exert ourselves in worship, we eventually start to enjoy it and seek peace in it. But sometimes we become deluded by that worship. We may define our religiosity exclusively in accordance with it, become self-righteous as a result of it, and abuse people we deem lesser in the name of it. The worst case scenario of this is what the Prophet (peace be upon him) said about one who comes on the day of judgment with all of their prayers, fasting, and charity only to have it all taken away because of an abusive tongue.

But what makes Iblees’s struggle so relevant to ours? The point of worship is to humble you to your Creator and set your affairs right with His creation in accordance with that humility. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said that whoever has an atom’s worth of pride in their heart would not enter paradise. The most obvious manifestation of that pride is rejecting the truth and belittling someone else. But other subtle manifestations of that pride include the refusal to leave off argumentation, abandon grudges, and humble yourself to the creation in pursuit of the pleasure of the Creator.

Yaqeen

Hence a person would rather spend several Ramadan’s observing the last 10 nights in intense prayer seeking forgiveness for their sins from Allah, rather then humble themselves for a moment to one of Allah’s servants by seeking forgiveness for their transgressions against him, even if they too have a claim.

Jumah is our weekly Eid, and Monday’s and Thursday’s are our weekly semblances of Ramadan as the Prophet (s) used to fast them since our deeds are presented to Allah on those days. He said about them, “The doors of Heaven are opened every Monday and Thursday, and Allah pardons in these days every individual servant who is not a polytheist, except those who have enmity between them; Allah Says: ‘Delay them until they reconcile with each other”

In Ramadan, the doors of Heaven are opened throughout the month and the deeds ascend to Allah. But imagine if every day as your fasting, Quran recitation, etc. is presented to Allah this month, He responds to the angels to delay your pardon until you reconcile with your brother. Ramadan is the best opportunity to write that email or text message to that lost family member or friend and say “it’s not worth it to lose Allah’s forgiveness over this” and “IM SORRY.”

Compare these two statements:

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “He who boycotts his brother for more than three days and dies during this period will be from the people of hellfire.”

He also said:

“I guarantee a house in the suburbs of Paradise for one who leaves arguments even if he is right.”

Swallowing your pride is bitter, while prayer is sweet. Your ego is more precious to you than your sleep. But above all, Allah’s pleasure is more precious than it all.

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#Life

Fall Apart: Be Weak to Find Strength in Allah

Hiba Masood

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Growing up in Jeddah, every evening in Ramadan, we would pile into our car and whiz off to the mosque for Taraweeh prayers to Shoaibi Mosque and spend a few spell-bound hours under the reassuring baritones of Sheikh Abdullah Basfar. His beautiful voice became the anthem of my childhood in many ways but more than his voice, it was the building of tradition and memory that became ingrained in my system. By doing the same thing, day in, day out, year in, year out, my parents gave us a sense of stability and predictability that set the tone for our entire adolescence.

How that rhythm seeped into the very bones of who I am is something I am still discovering well into adulthood.

Last night, standing in my grandmother’s garden in Karachi, I experienced my first Taraweeh Khatam-e-Quran since leaving my parents home in Jeddah so many years ago. It is also, incidentally, my first Ramadan without both my parents, who last year seemingly decided they would much rather be together in Jannah than spend more time in this rubbish world and in quick succession, returned to their Maker, leaving me understandably grieving, awash in memories, struggling to steer my ship.

And so it was, that by the time the imam reached Surah Qadr, I was chokey. By Surah Kawthar, I had tears streaming down my face. And by the time the last three surahs, the comforting Quls, began, I was openly sobbing. Probably more openly than what is considered socially appropriate…but honestly, I was restraining myself. Because what I actually felt like doing was throwing my head back and howling up at the sky. Thankfully, I was flanked by women who knew, who understood, who with tears in their own eyes, let me be with my heaving shoulders and a chest that felt it would crack open under the weight of my emotions.

As the imam had recited surah after surah and the end of the Quran had approached, the ghosts of Ramadan Past had flooded into me and my body had remembered. It had remembered years and years of experiencing that same excitement, that same sense of weight as Sheikh Abdullah Basfar gently and methodically guided us over the course of the month through the Book of all books, that same uplifting, heartbreaking, momentous trepidation of offering something up to Him with the hope that He would bestow something shining in return.

Had this Book been revealed to a mountain, the mountain would have crumbled. You get a tiny glimpse of that weight when you complete a khatam. Here I am, Allah, here I am, in my little hole-y dinghy, with my itty bitty crumbs of ibaadah. Pliss to accept?

Back in Jeddah, after the khatam, we would pile back in the car and go for ice cream. Last night in Karachi, after the khatam, the Imam gave a short talk and in it he mentioned how we are encouraged to cry when conversing with Allah. We should beg and plead and insist and argue and tantrum with Him because He loves to be asked again and again. We live in a world of appropriateness, political correctness, carefully curated social media feeds and the necessity of putting our best, most polished face forwards at all times. How freeing then, that when we turn to our Lord, we are specifically instructed to abandon our sense of control. All the facades and the curtains are encouraged to be dropped away and we stand stripped to our souls in front of Him. In other words, He loves it when we fall apart. Which is exactly what I had just done. 

Last night, I found myself wondering what exactly had I cried so hard over. Which tears were for Him and the desperate desire for His mercy? Which were for the loveliness of the Quran, the steadying rhythm of it, not just verse to verse but also, cover to cover? Which tears were for the already achey yearning of yet another Ramadan gone past? Which were for my breaking heart that has to soon face my first Eid day and all the days of my life without my beloved Mumma and Baba? Which tears were of gratitude that I get to stand on an odd night of the best time of the year, alongside some of my dearest people, in the courtyard of a house full of childhood memories, under the vast, inky, starry sky and standing there, I get to fall apart, freely, wholly, soul-satisfyingly?

And which tears were of a searingly humbling recognition, that I am so wildly privileged to have this faith of mine – the faith that promises if we navigate the choppy dunya waters right, we will be reunited with our loved ones in a beautiful, eternal place, that if we purposely, and repeatedly crumble under the weight of our belief in Him and His plans, our future is bright?

Today, I’m convinced that it doesn’t matter why I cried. Because here is what I do know:

1. “If Allah knows good in your hearts, He will give you better than what was taken from you…” (8:70)


2. “If Allah intends good for someone, then he afflicts him with trials.” Prophet Muhammad

3. “Wondrous is the affair of the believer for there is good for him in every matter and this is not the case with anyone except the believer. If he is happy, then he thanks Allah and thus there is good for him. If he is harmed, then he shows patience and thus there is good for him.” Prophet Muhammad

In losing my parents, I have drawn closer to Allah. And though I miss them dizzyingly, I am so thankful that through the childhood they gave me, through the anchoring to the Quran they gifted me with, through their own tears that I witnessed during those long-ago khatams in the Shoaibi Mosque in Jeddah, they left me with the knowledge that if in losing them, I have gained even an atom’s worth more of His pleasure, then that’s a pretty great bargain.

 

As a parent of three young ones myself, I’ve spent my days teaching my children: be strong, be strong, be strong. Stand tall, stay firm, be sturdy in the face of the distracting, crashing waves of the world. But now I know something just as important to teach them: be weak, be weak, be weak.

Crumble in front of Him, fall apart, break open so that His Light may enter and be the only thing to fill you. It’s not easy but it will be essential for your survival in the face of any loss, grief, trial and despair this world throws your way. It will help you, finger to tongue, always know which way the wind is blowing and which way to steer your ship. Straight in to the sun, always. To Jannah. Because how wondrous are the affairs of us Muslims that when it comes to our sorrows and our hopes, out there on the horizon of Allah’s wise plans, it all shimmers as one – The grief of what is, the memory of what was and brighter than both, the glittering, iridescent promise of what will be.

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