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5 beneficial ways Muslims can spend the holidays

Dr Muhammad Wajid Akhter

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So it’s that time of year again. When the days are short, the nights long and you have large amounts of time off from your school/ college/ workplace for Christmas/ New Year etc… We may take advantage of being able to lie in till later than usual, laze around the house in our pajamas well past Zuhr and slowly catching up with TV shows, chores or career related assignments.

Essentially, this will be a few days off like any other few days off in the years before. We’ll trudge back to our normal lives with little to show apart from a slightly expanded waistline and the reduced bags under our eyes. But it could all be so different. How? Well, for starters – we could use this time (one of the most precious commodities that Allāh has given us) to kick start something new… something life changing. Here are just a few ideas:

1. Read an Islamic book

Whilst most of us will almost certainly be stocking up on nourishment for our stomachs during the break, many will be neglecting intellectual and spiritual nourishment that comes from gaining Islamic knowledge. We all have a book or two that we wish we could read but we just can’t find the time. Well, this is that time. Want to know exactly why Khālid b. Walīd raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) was one of the greatest generals of all time? Interested in learning all about the fiqh of raising children? Looking for Islamic inspiration at a low point in your life? There’s a book for all of that and more.

2. Aḥadīth at home



Winter break is a time where everyone is at home with schools and offices being shut across the country. This quality family time could be spent going to multiple dinner parties and flicking through Christmas specials on TV. But it could also be spent a bit more constructively with the family briefly sitting down together to go through a ḥadīth. Get the kids interested by involving them in debate on the meaning or application of the ḥadīth, or even getting them to prepare some ḥadīth themselves, will reap rewards for decades to come. The family that prays together stays together.

3. Attend an Islamic event

Here in the West, we are very lucky that there are a variety of Islamic events organized for the winter break. Many of these are family friendly and there is usually something for every taste around. Whether it is fiqh, tafsīr, sīrah, or comparative religion – you’ll find a talk or course organized somewhere for you and your friends or family. All you need is the desire to learn and the willingness to travel. Grab your younger brother or sister, that friend who just needs a push in the right direction, or even your parents and make the journey. The trip there and back could be a real chance to open up about where you (and they) are going Islamically and what could be done about it.

4. Inspire children at your Mosque

There are mosques in which the children are inspired and entertained by their elders in a way that makes them keep coming back for more. Sadly, these mosques are very few and far between. We could just sit at home and complain that the mosque isn’t welcoming enough, or we could try and do something about it. This winter, why not put on a talk for children around a subject they may find vaguely interesting? All it needs is the willingness to share a story, some nifty advertising, and a desire to inspire rather than bore. You can talk about literally anything, from the real story behind Christmas and ‘Īsa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), to what parents are looking for in prospective son-in-laws. If you do it right, the cool feeling of seeing someone get closer to the faith through you sharing knowledge with them will keep you coming back for more week after week.

5. Organize a fundraiser

Unfortunately there is no shortage of Muslims in the world who are in desperate need. Whether it be in Burma, Gaza, Syria, or in many African nations – a relatively small amount of money could be the difference between life and death. This winter, why not organize a fundraiser at your home or mosque where people come together for an evening of ḥalāl entertainment, food, and social activism? Show them pictures of the suffering people, share some stories, and then encourage donations. Not only will you have a chance to spend a pleasant evening with friends and interesting strangers, but you’ll be doing your part to make the world a better place. Once you start, you’ll be so filled with an indescribable sense of purpose and peace that it’ll be difficult to wait till your next one.

The only limits to the amount of good and perpetually beneficial things that can be done during your current break are your desire to make a practical change and the spark to get you going in the first place. Get off the sofa, turn off the computer and open the door. A world of possibility awaits.

 

WAJiD Dr. Muhammad Wajid Akhter - Doctor, Medical Tutor (Social Media, History & Medicine) - Islamic Historian - Founder of, and current board member to Charity Week for Orphans and needy children. www.charityweek.com - Council member, British Islamic Medical Association

17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Avatar

    anisafatima

    December 17, 2012 at 6:33 AM

    This is your nice post.This is a beautiful way to share the knowledge and provide the update to people.Children are a great blessing from Allah and teach them Good deeds.slam is the latest divine religion chosen by Allah Almighty for the human beings. Muslims can avail the services of an online quran teacher who can assist them in taking themselvs into account daily in holidays.

  2. Avatar

    Yasmin

    December 17, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    Jazakallah khair for these helpful tips!

    • Avatar

      Mahmud

      December 17, 2012 at 11:37 PM

      Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

      You always give positive thanks on articles…….

      so JazzakAllahu khairan Yasmin! May Allah make you a grateful slave and grant you Jannatul Firdaus!

  3. Avatar

    yazid

    December 19, 2012 at 3:19 PM

    thank u 4 what u have asisted with muslim ummah.

  4. Avatar

    Johnny Blaze

    December 20, 2012 at 7:00 AM

    JazakAllahu Khairun brother Muhammad, insha’Allah this will inspire many to spend their time wisely during this season. I see far too many doing things that are not in a muslim’s best interests when this time of year comes around :( May Allah guide us all.

    If anyone’s strapped for titles, I HIGHLY recommend “Kitab At-Tauhid” by Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Wahhab for anyone who hasn’t read it yet. Usool al Thalatha (same author) is also a good read. You will find them for free by googling if ebooks are your thing.

    And of course, there’s the Quran! If you’ve not read that yet, there’s no better time than the present :D If you’d like an English copy, I have a few spares lying around (will post within Australia for free).

    Fee Amanillah

  5. WAJiD

    WAJiD

    December 20, 2012 at 5:21 PM

    JazakAllah khairun to you all for your kind comments.
    Any ideas on how we could get more people to take up some of these ideas?

    • Avatar

      Johnny Blaze

      December 21, 2012 at 9:31 AM

      Community challanges!

      Set a goal for the week/day/period and maybe provide a nice little set of questions to test our knowledge afterwards.

      Something like
      GOAL – Memorise and Understand Surah An Nasr
      TIME – 3 Days
      SELF TEST QUESTIONS

      1. When was this surah revealed?
      2. Explain each line in your own words.
      3. What are some of the virtues of Surah An Nasr?
      4. What was the purpose of this surah i.e. What did it signal? (with daleel)

      • Avatar

        Johnny Blaze

        December 21, 2012 at 9:32 AM

        It could be something simpler of course, if you so wished, but for me something like that would really influence me to get studying!

      • Avatar

        Mahmud

        December 21, 2012 at 11:04 PM

        Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

        As for surah Nasr, Tafsir Ibnu Kathir is online and so is Nouman Ali Khans explanation.

  6. Avatar

    Johnny Blaze

    December 21, 2012 at 9:40 AM

    with study materials! Tafseer Ibn Katheer for all:

    http://www.freequraan.org.uk/resources/QuraanDownloads/13%20TafsiribnKathir.pdf

    http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3000&Itemid=731

    [Sorry to keep posting but this idea is exciting me :P…. and you can’t edit comments :( ]

    • Avatar

      Mahmud

      December 21, 2012 at 11:10 PM

      Assalamaulaaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

      Remember your salams Johnny Blaze! We are talking to other Muslims on the internet!

  7. WAJiD

    WAJiD

    December 22, 2012 at 11:46 AM

    Asalaam alaikum,

    Good to see the enthusiasm. Perhaps we can take it a step further (that is what I’m trying to get at.) Start a circle amongst your friends / acquaintances today, plan it out, think it through then carry out the plan so that noble intentions can become beautiful actions inshaAllah.

    • Avatar

      Abdulazim

      December 29, 2012 at 10:19 AM

      Assalamu alekum wr.wb.
      Dear Brother Muhammad Wajid, can you please share with me the titles of books related to the fiqh of raising children? Could you also advice where can I buy them online? I am from Asia and thanks for you post!

  8. Avatar

    Abdulazim

    December 24, 2012 at 12:30 AM

    Assalamu alekum wr.wb.
    Dear Brother Muhammad Wajid, can you please share with me books related to the fiqh of raising children? Could you also advice where can I buy them online? I am from Asia and thanks for you post!

  9. WAJiD

    WAJiD

    December 29, 2012 at 10:28 AM

    Walaikum asalaam,

    JazakAllah khairun for your kind words. The books I would recommend are mainly in English language and I suppose different books may appeal to different age groups:

    The late Khurram Murad wrote many books for children that are excellent quality. Classics such as “The Desert Chief”, “The Longing Heart” and “The wise poet” are a brilliant replacement for Aesops fables and Grimms Fairy Tales…
    http://goo.gl/Vkjoh

    Also, this website has some good books including “My first Quran” which we’re reading to my 2 year old at the moment.
    http://www.goodwordbooks.com

    I’ll do some more research and get back to you – may even write an article about it inshaAllah

  10. Avatar

    tha

    January 9, 2013 at 2:49 AM

    mashallah…jazakallah khair for the very moderate challenge to all muslims..

  11. Pingback: WAJiD (wajid) | Pearltrees

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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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