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37 Simple Ways to Make your Youth More Rewarding

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Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

Alhamdulillah, by the blessings of Allah (swt) and readers like yourself, MuslimMatters has been an independent platform for our best thought leaders to educate us in our faith and catalyze change through powerful, necessary conversations. Since our humble beginnings as a basic wordpress blog in 2007, our content has remained free.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support us with a monthly donation of $10 per month, or even as little as $1. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

By Amina Edota

Do you always dream of the years ahead when you will hit your first million, memorise the Qur’an, or break some world record? Or perhaps you jump, to a few months ahead – getting published, married or launching an online business.

Whatever your big dream is, you know what I’m talking about, right?

The reality is that tomorrow may never come. And those dreams may remain just as they are – Dreams!!! So while it is OK to dream, you need to wake up and build rewarding habits that will aid you towards your goals.

Seek opportunities with your youthful zeal and energy. And there are many of such opportunities in youth, as our beloved Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) advised: Utilise your Youth before Old Age.

Since new habits take time and consistency, make it a priority so you can capitalize on your youth. Use it for practice upon practice. Don’t take your youth for granted.

Let’s get started with some simple actions…

1. Avoid Complaining. This world is far from perfect and you can’t always have what you want. Rather than dwell on what is wrong, focus on the good and be thankful for every blessing of your youth. And remember, this life is a test.

”We test you by good and by evil as a trial” [Q21; V35]

2. Shun Ignorance. You can’t worship Allah with incorrect knowledge. If you know Allah, then you can worship Him as He deserves. Seeking knowledge of Allah, the Almighty and Majestic is therefore compulsory on you. Ignorance is not an excuse.

 

”And know that there is none that is rightfully worshipped except Allah…” [Q47; V19]

3. Make the Qur’an your daily manual. Be consistent with reciting a fixed amount of Qur’an daily. Read, reflect and make sure you act upon what you read.Do not be among those who forget to read or reflect.

This is the Book (the Qur’an) whereof there is no doubt, a guidance to those who are Al-Muttaqun [The pious and righteous persons who fear Allah much]” [Q2.V2]

4. Uphold the Sunnah. Learn about Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him); emulate his manners, respect him, obey him and teach others about him. Love his family and companions and stay far away from all that he has prohibited. Do not say – It is ONLY sunnah.

”Say if you love Allah, then follow me: Allah will love you and forgive your sins. Verily, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” [Q3.V31]

5. Keep good company. Stay with those who remind you of Allah and the Hereafter. Seek companionship of people who bring out the best in you and stay away from toxic individuals – including the haters and complain bags.

”Friends on that day will be enemies of each other, except the righteous” [Q43: V67]

6. Focus on the positive. Keep your intention, thoughts and words positive. And leave your affairs to Allah. It reduces negative stress levels and will keep you on the right track towards your goals.

Certainly, Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him)” [Q3.V159]

7. Take a daily step towards your goals. Break down your goals and do one simple action each day so as not to get overwhelmed. Don’t worry about perfecting things. Just make sure you maintain consistency as you progress.

8. Set yourself up for some accountability. Get a buddy or a mentor to check up on your milestones as you try to achieve big goals. And let there be some consequence for negligence.

9. Follow up a good deed with another good one. Think of the day when you will receive your book of deeds either in the right or left hand, depending on your deeds. Then make that choice with even the tiniest deed.

Abu Dharr relates that the Holy Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “Do not disdain doing the least good, even greeting your brother with a cheerful face” (Muslim).

10. Smile. It is Sunnah; it is also charity and makes you look good and feel good. Smile before your teeth fall out.

11. Listen. Aim to truly listen to others before you open your mouth to speak. Good listening is a gift you can share with others. It fosters understanding and cooperation.

12. Call someone to Islam. It can be a neighbour, colleague or classmate. Tell others about Tawhid – Oneness of Allah and the Message of His Final Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

Call unto the way of your Lord with wisdom and goodly exhortation” [Q16:V126]

13. Show gratitude for even the simplest act. Learn to say ‘thank you’ for every simple act or favour upon you. Be generous with your appreciation for every kind act.

14. Spread Salaam. Always give greetings of peace or reply when greeted first with what is better.

15. Give Charity. Give away something you have not used for a while. It is likely you won’t miss it, someone’s life will be changed and you will also get a reward.

Give some charity today even with half a date.

16. Forgive. People may hurt you with their words, actions or inactions. Similarly, some ugly memories may linger which pierce through the heart and feel just like yesterday. But still forgive and move on.

Learn to forgive and forbear. Do you not desire that Allah should forgive you?” [Q24: V22]

17. See no evil, hear no evil. Your body and senses are a blessing from your Creator. Use them only for good and for what will be pleasing to Him. Preserve your mind and body.

”The ear, the eye and the heart shall all be called to account” [Q17:V36]

18. Volunteer. Share an invaluable part of yourself – whether it’s a skill, knowledge or time. Be among those who bring benefit to others. And remember that sharing is caring.

19. Never stop learning because life never stops teaching. And be consistent with the supplication;

”My Lord! Increase me in knowledge.” [Q20:V114]

20. Accept mistakes and failures. Making mistakes is human. Do not allow this to paralyze your life. Make sure you take lessons from hem.

21. Check yourself. The mirror does not lie, does it? Use your inner conscience as a mirror and guide to check yourself and bring yourself to account as no other person can.

22. Stay awake after Fajr and do something beneficial – writing, listening to a lecture, reading the Quran or book of Tafsir. Utilise the blessings of the morning time and jumpstart your day with an active brain.

23. Make sincere Dua for someone in his/her absence. It could be for a friend who is childless or a colleague seeking to know about the purpose of creation or a neighbour who is going through a financial crisis. You will be rewarded with a blessed response, ‘And same to you’.

24. Keep your tongue moist with the remembrance of Allah. Engage in Dhikr of Allah with your tongue and presence of heart. Sheikh al -Islam Ibn Taimiyyah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said, ”The remembrance of Allah is like water to the fish. What would happen to the fish if it were separated from the water?”

25. Keep in touch. Call, send an email or SMS to a family member you have not been in touch with for a long time. Be pleasant. You will rekindle a blessed relationship and strengthen the ties of kinship.

26. Honor your parents. Whatever the generational gap, be patient with your parents. Treat them with excellence and show them love as you would want to be loved by your children. Ask Allah to guide them and to grant them the best station in Paradise.

27. Make a budget. Take a close look at your earnings and spending; are they in sync? Can you reduce your debt, save more or give more in charity? Draft a plan today and stick with it.

28. Keep silent. Button those lips if you have nothing good to say. Say NO to backbiting and gossip. Avoid the traps of he said- , she said-.

29. Apologize when wrong. Saying sorry makes you stronger not weaker.

30. Watch what you eat. Make sure your diet is healthy and permissible. And do not overeat. Your body is an amanah. You will be questioned about it. Use your diet to fuel your worship.

31. Go Offline. Stay offline for one day or at least most of one day. Check yourself, renew your intentions and think of ways to boost your faith. Terrified of falling behind on updates? Don’t worry, there will always be newer updates.

32. Pray Tahajjud. Wake up in the last part of the night and pray at least two units of prayers. It gives you a chance to have your duas answered and sins forgiven. Don’t miss out!

In a Hadith Qudsi, Allah says, ”Is there anyone asking of Me that I may give them? Is there anyone asking forgiveness that I may forgive them?”

33. Ask Allah. It is easy to ask close friends and family members for some of our needs without remembering to ask the One who provides for all our families and friends. What do you need right now? Ask Him.

”Your Lord has said: Call on Me: I will respond to you”. [Q40:V61]

34. Practice what you preach. Have you ever been asked by a 5 year old, ‘why do you say don’t shout at your little brother, but you are shouting yourself?’ If you can’t live by your words, mind what you demand or expect of others. Be the model you want to see.

35. Get active. Take a walk or bring that skipping rope out and get moving. Don’t wait to get to a gym for an ultimate fitness plan. Become active and keep your body healthy and fit.

36. Enjoy good decent jokes. You may have that special uncle or friend who keeps a growing collection of jokes and pulls out some new ones each time you get together or wirelessly. Lol! It’s OK to laugh it off without breaking the roof.  

37. Relax. Take some time off to unwind and put your feet up. Don’t work 24/7 or run the risk of getting low on your physical and mental energy. You deserve some rest; your body has rights over you.

 

Your Turn:

This list is by no means exhaustive.What can you add to it from your own life experiences? Which of the above actions would you recommend to others; And what other simple actions can you start today for a more rewarding youth? Take a moment to add to the list below…

 

…………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Amina Edota is a Writer and a Mentor. She is passionately committed to inspiring the Muslim Youth to act on the opportunities of their youth. Join her for tips, insights and reminders for the Muslim Youth (@www.youthlyhub.com)

 

 

 

 

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Bilkis

    August 15, 2014 at 1:29 AM

    MashaAllah! May Allah guide us all to the right way. Jazakhallahu khairan.

  2. Avatar

    MelatiDepok

    August 16, 2014 at 2:27 AM

    subhanallah,thanks for the info..right on the need

  3. Avatar

    solitaybird

    August 16, 2014 at 11:39 AM

    May Allah count in your scale of good deeds!

  4. Avatar

    popo

    August 19, 2014 at 7:03 AM

    stay away from envies people they will destroy you.

    dont waste time always do something

    if somebody hates you or you caught him backbiting or harmed you even in very hard way, go to his home sit there and ask a coffe to drink, from experience just do it to the most hateful people in your sight, trust me the best advice :D

  5. Pingback: 37 SIMPLE WAYS TO MAKE YOUR YOUTH MORE REWARDING | PASS THE KNOWLEDGE (LIGHT & LIFE)

  6. Avatar

    Muslim girl

    August 27, 2014 at 3:08 PM

    SubhanAllah! This is beautiful! :)

  7. Avatar

    Khan

    August 28, 2014 at 9:34 PM

    Mashaallah this is a great list but please fix the āyāt-issue.. In at least 2 cases the arabic quran-quotations have absolutely nothing to do with the translation.. Bāraka llāhu fīk

  8. Avatar

    oraclestudent

    August 29, 2014 at 2:43 AM

    Please check number (33. Ask Allah) The ayah that you quoted does not respond with translation.

    http://tanzil.net/#40:61

    • Avatar

      Aly Balagamwala

      August 30, 2014 at 4:12 AM

      Dear Oraclestudent

      JazakAllahu Khairin for pointing it out. THe ccorect ayah to be quoted here should be 40:60. I will have the editorial team change it.

      Best Regards
      Aly
      CommentsTeam Lead

      PS: Your name violates our Comments Policy

  9. Avatar

    Abdullah

    September 3, 2014 at 6:30 PM

    This is excellent Mashallah and we should all share it with our friends! For point #12 (Call someone to Islam) the ayah should be 125 not 126 of Surat Al-Nahl. Jazakumullahu Khairan :)

  10. Avatar

    Abdullah

    September 3, 2014 at 6:41 PM

    I would like to add: Go to the Masjid often, attend Islamic lectures and conferences, mentor younger kids on how to be a good Muslim and tutor them with their school work

  11. Avatar

    Abdullah

    September 3, 2014 at 6:43 PM

    Also, share what you know about Allah, the Quran, and His Messenger by making youtube vids, a blog or website

  12. Avatar

    Muhammad Tajudeen Yusuf

    June 26, 2016 at 6:51 AM

    Thank you so much.
    May Allah reward you tremendously.

  13. Avatar

    Malayah Haddad

    August 3, 2017 at 10:40 PM

    JazakAllahu Kharyn!!! This list is very helpful Masha Allah:)

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Dawah and Interfaith

10 Lessons I Learned While Serving Those in Need

Abu Ryan Dardir

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charity
Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

Alhamdulillah, by the blessings of Allah (swt) and readers like yourself, MuslimMatters has been an independent platform for our best thought leaders to educate us in our faith and catalyze change through powerful, necessary conversations. Since our humble beginnings as a basic wordpress blog in 2007, our content has remained free.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support us with a monthly donation of $10 per month, or even as little as $1. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

I have spent about a decade serving the impoverished domestically and recently, abroad. I don’t work for a major charity organization, I work for my community, through grassroots efforts. It was something embedded in me while learning Islam. Before starting a charity organization, I started studying Islam with Dr. Hatem Alhaj (my mentor) and various other scholars. The more I studied, the more I wanted to implement what I was learning. What my community needed at the time was intensive charity work, as it was neglected entirely by our community. From that, I collected 10 lessons from servicing those in need. 

My bubble burst

One of the first things I experienced was the bursting of my bubble, a sense of realization. I, like many others, was unaware of the hardship in my own community. Yes, we know the hadith and see the events unfold on the news and social media, but when a father of three cried before me because a bag of groceries was made available for him to take home, that moment changed me. We tend to forget how little it takes, to make a huge difference in someone’s life. This experience, made me understand the following hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): “Every Muslim has to give in charity.” The people then asked: “(But what) if someone has nothing to give, what should he do?” The Prophet replied: “He should work with his hands and benefit himself and also give in charity (from what he earns).” The people further asked: “If he cannot find even that?” He replied: “He should help the needy, who appeal for help.” Then the people asked: “If he cannot do (even) that?” The Prophet said finally: “Then he should perform good deeds and keep away from evil deeds, and that will be regarded as charitable deeds.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 524. I

t is simply an obligation, due to the amount of good it generates after you do this one action. I then realized even more how beautiful Islam is for commanding this deed. 

Friendships were developed on good deeds

Serving the poor is a great reward in itself. The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “Save yourself from hellfire by giving even half a date-fruit in charity.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 498. But it is better done with a team, I began building a team of people with similar objectives in serving the needy. These people later became some of my closest friends, who better to keep close to you than one that serves Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) by helping the neediest in the same community you reside in. Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “A person is likely to follow the faith of his friend, so look whom you befriend.” [reported by Abu Dawood & Tirmidhee] This is turn kept me on the right path of pleasing Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Working with a team removes a lot of the burden as well and the depression that might occur seeing the saddest stories on a daily basis. Allah says in the Qur’ān, “Indeed the believers are brothers.” (49:10). Sometimes there is a misconception that you have to have a huge office or a large masjid in order to get work done. But honestly, all you need is a dedicated group of people with the right intention and things take off from there. 

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: 'If you love the poor and bring them near you. . .God will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection.' - Al-Tirmidhi,Click To Tweet

Made me thankful

This made me thankful for whatever I had, serving the less fortunate reminded me daily to turn to Allah and ask for forgiveness and so be thankful. This kind of service also puts things into perspective. What is truly important in life? I stepped further and further away from a materialistic lifestyle and allowed me to value things that can’t be valued by money. I learned this from the poorest of people in my community, who strived daily for their family regardless of their situation — parents who did what they can to shield their children from their harsh reality. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “If you love the poor and bring them near you. . .God will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection.” – Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1376. They had a quality about them, despite their poverty status. They were always some of the kindest people I have known. 

People want to do Good

I learned that people want to do good; they want to improve their community and society. I began to see the impact on a communal level, people were being more engaged. We were the only Muslim group helping indiscriminately in our county. Even the people we helped, gave back by volunteering at our food pantry. We have schools where small kids (under adult supervision) partake in preparing meals for the needy, local masajids, churches, and temples, high school kids from public schools, and college organizations (Muslim and nonMuslim) visit frequently from several cities in neighboring counties, cities, and states. The good spreads a lot easier and faster than evil. People want to do good, we just need more opportunities for them to join in. United we can rock this world.

“We need more light about each other. Light creates understanding, understanding creates love, love creates patience, and patience creates unity.” Malcolm X. Click To Tweet

Smiles

Smiles, I have seen the wealthiest smiles on the poorest people. Despite being on the brink of homelessness, when I saw them they had the best smile on their faces. This wasn’t all of them, but then I would smile back and that changed the environment we were in. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Charity is prescribed for each descendant of Adam every day the sun rises.” He was then asked: “From what do we give charity every day?” The Prophet answered: “The doors of goodness are many…enjoining good, forbidding evil, removing harm from the road, listening to the deaf, leading the blind, guiding one to the object of his need, hurrying with the strength of one’s legs to one in sorrow who is asking for help, and supporting the feeble with the strength of one’s arms–all of these are charity prescribed for you.” He also said: “Your smile for your brother is charity.” – Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 3, Number 98. Smiles are truly universal.

It’s ok to cry

It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah said: “A man who weeps for fear of Allah will not enter Hell until the milk goes back into the udder, and dust produced (when fighting) for the sake of Allah and the smoke of Hell will never coexist.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi and al-Nasaa’i. There are situations you see that hit you hard; they fill your heart with emotions, but that never swayed my concrete belief in Allah’s wisdom. Crying before Allah, not just out of fear, but to be thankful for His Mercy upon you is a relief.

Learning to say no

It was one of the hardest things I had to do, a lot (if not all) of the requests I received for help were extremely reasonable. I do not think anyone asked for anything outrageous. Our organization started becoming the go-to organization in our area for help, but we are one organization, with limited resources, and a few times we were restricted on when or how we could help. This is where learning to say no became a learned skill. Wedid do our best to follow up with a plan or an alternative resource.

It is part of raising a family and finding yourself

How so? Being involved in your community doesn’t take away from raising your family, it is part of it. I can’t watch and do nothing and expect my children to be heroes. I have to lead by example. Helping others is good for my family’s health. Many people living in our country are consumed with their busy lives. Running out the door, getting to work, driving the kids to their after school activities, spending weekends taking care of their families, etc. So people have a fear of investing hours in doing this type of work. But in reality, this work puts more blessings in your time.

One may feel they are taking time away from their family, but in reality, when one comes back home, they find more peace in their home then they left it with. By helping others, I improve the health and culture of my community, this in turn positively impacts my family.

I enjoy being a softie with my family and friends. I am a tall bearded man, and that image suited me better. I am not sure what made me softer, having kids or serving the poor. Either way, it was rewarding and defined my role and purpose in my community.

I learned that you make your own situation. You can be a spectator, or you can get in there and do the best you can to help. It gave me an opportunity to be a role model for my own children, to show them the benefit of doing good and helping when you can.

It came with a lot of humility. Soon after starting I realized that all I am is a facilitator, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is giving an opportunity of a lifetime to do this work, a line of work very little people get to engage in regularly. My advice to my readers, if you can serve the poor do so immediately before you get occupied or busy with life.

Helping others is good for my family’s health.Click To Tweet

Dawah through action

As I mentioned before I did spend time studying, and at one point developed one of the top dawah initiatives in the country (according to IERA). But the reality is, helping the less fortunate is my type of dawah, people started to associate our food pantry and helping others with Islam. As an organization with one of the most diverse groups of volunteers, people from various religious backgrounds found the environment comfortable and hospitable. I began working with people I never would have worked before if I had stuck to traditional dawah, studying, or masjid involvement, all of which are critical. This became a symbol of Islam in our community, and while serving, we became those that embodied the Quran and Sunnah. For a lot of those we served, we were the first Muslims they encountered, and Alhamdulilah for the team we have. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) also says in the Quran: “So by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you” (3:159). It is our actions that can turn people away or towards Islam.

Once you serve the needy, you do this for life

I wasn’t volunteering on occasion,— this was an unpaid job that was done regularly. I got requests and calls for emergencies daily at times. It took up hours upon hours every week. As a charity worker, I developed experience and insight in this field. I learned that this was one of the best ways I could serve Allah [swt. “They ask you (O Muhammad) what they should spend in charity. Say: ‘Whatever you spend with a good heart, give it to parents, relatives, orphans, the helpless, and travelers in need. Whatever good you do, God is aware of it.'” – The Holy Quran, 2:215

I believe the work I do with the countless people that do the same is the best work that can be done in our current political climate and globalization. My views and thoughts have evolved over the years seeing situations develop to what they are today. This gave me a comprehensive outlook on our needs as a society and allowed me to venture off and meet people top in their fields like in social activism, environmentalism, labor, etc.

I want to end with three sectors in society that Muslims prosper in and three that Muslims can improve on. We strive on individual education (noncommunal), distributing and organizing charity, and more recently being politically engaged. What we need to improve on is our environmental awareness, working with and understanding unions and labor rights, and organizing anti-war movements. 

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#Islam

He Catches Me When I Fall: A Journey To Tawakkul

Merium Khan, Guest Contributor

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Tawakkul- a leaf falling
Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

Alhamdulillah, by the blessings of Allah (swt) and readers like yourself, MuslimMatters has been an independent platform for our best thought leaders to educate us in our faith and catalyze change through powerful, necessary conversations. Since our humble beginnings as a basic wordpress blog in 2007, our content has remained free.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support us with a monthly donation of $10 per month, or even as little as $1. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

While discussing an emotionally-heavy issue, my therapist brought up the point that in life we can reach a point of acceptance in regards to our difficult issues: “It sounds cliche, but there’s no other way to say it: it is what it is.”

Okay, I thought, as I listened. Acceptance. Yes, I can do this eventually. She went on to add: “It is what it is, and I know that everything will be okay.””

Tears had already been flowing, but by this point, full-blown sobs started. “I…can’t….seem…to ever…believe that.” There. I had said it. I had faked being confident and accepting, even to myself. I had faked the whole, “I have these health problems, but I am so together” type of vibe that I had been putting out for years.

Maybe it was the hormones of a third pregnancy, confronting the realities of life with multiple chronic diseases, family problems, or perhaps a midlife crisis: but at that moment, I did not feel deep in my heart with true conviction that everything would be okay.

That conversation led me to reflect on the concept of tawakkul in the following weeks and months. What did it mean to have true trust in Allah? And why was it that for years I smiled and said, “Alhamdulillah, I’m coping just fine!” when in reality, the harsh truth was that I felt like I had not an ounce of tawakkul?

I had led myself to believe that denying my grief and slapping a smile on was tawakkul. I was being outwardly cheerful — I even made jokes about my life with Multiple Sclerosis — and I liked to think I was functioning all right. Until I wasn’t.

You see, the body doesn’t lie. You can tell all the lies you want to with your tongue, but after some time, the body will let you know that it’s holding oceans of grief, unshed tears, and unhealed traumas. And that period of my life is a tale for another time.

The short story is that things came to a head and I suddenly felt utterly overwhelmed and terrified daily about my future with a potentially disabling disease, while being diagnosed with a second major chronic illness, all while caring for a newborn along with my other children. Panic attacks and severe anxiety ensued. When I realized that I didn’t have true tawakkul, I had to reflect and find my way again.

I thought about Yaqub (Jacob). I thought long and hard about his grief: “Yaa asafaa ‘alaa Yusuf!” “Oh, how great is my grief for Joseph!”

He wept until he was blind. And yet, he constantly asserted, “Wallahul-Musta’aan”: “Allah is the one whose help is sought.” And he believed.

Oh, how did he believe. His sons laughed and called him an old fool for grieving over a son lost for decades. He then lost another dear son, Binyamin. And yet he said, “Perhaps it will be that my Lord will bring them to me altogether.”

There is no sin in grief Click To Tweet

So my first realization was that there was no sin in the grief. I could indeed trust Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) while feeling a sorrow so profound that it ripped me apart at times. “The heart grieves and the eyes weep, but the tongue does not say that except which pleases its Lord. Oh, Ibrahim, we are gravely saddened by your passing.” These are the words of our Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) for a lost infant son, said with tears pouring down his blessed face, ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

I thought of the Year of Grief, Aamul-Huzn, when he, Allah’s peace be upon him, lost the woman who was the love of his life and the mother of his children; as well as an uncle who was like a father. The year was named after his grief! And here I was denying myself this human emotion because it somehow felt like a betrayal of true sabr?

Tawakkul, tawakkul, where are you? I searched for how I could feel it, truly feel it.Click To Tweet

Through years of introspection and then therapy, I realized that I had a personality that centered around control. I expressed this in various ways from trying to manage my siblings (curse of the firstborn), to trying to manage my childbirth and health. If I only did the “right” things, then I could have the perfect, “natural” birth and the perfect picture of health.

When I was diagnosed with a chronic disease, these illusions started to crack. And yet even then, I thought that if I did the right things, took the right supplements and alternative remedies and medications, that I wouldn’t have trouble with my MS.

See, when you think you control things and you attempt to micromanage everything, you’ve already lost tawakkul. You’ve taken the role of controlling the outcome upon yourself when in reality, your Lord is in control. It took a difficult time when I felt I was spiraling out of control for me to truly realize that I was not the master of my outcomes. Certainly, I would “tie my camel” and take my precautions, but then it was a matter of letting go.

At some point, I envisioned my experience of tawakkul as a free-fall. You know those trust exercises that you do at summer camps or company retreats? You fall back into the arms of someone and relinquish any control over your muscles. You are supposed to be limp and fully trust your partner to catch you.

I did this once with a youth group. After they fell–some gracefully and trusting, some not — I told them: “This is the example of tawakkul. Some of you didn’t trust and you tried to break your fall but some of you completely let go and let your partner catch you. Life will throw you down, it will hit you over and over, and you will fall–but He, subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), will be there to break your fall.”

I am falling. There is a degree of terror and sadness in the fall. But that point when through the pain and tears I can say, “It is what it is, and no matter what, everything will be okay”, that right there is the tranquility that comes from tawakkul.

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#Life

So You Are The Wali, Now What?

Dr Shadee Elmasry

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Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

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The way most Muslims (as well as conservative Christians and Jews) live, a man asks for a woman’s hand in marriage from the father.

The father is not just a turnstile who has to say yes. He is a “wali” or protector and guardian of his daughter’s rights. So he will be asking some serious questions that would be awkward if the woman had to ask them.

Furthermore, in the Muslim community today esp. in the West, there are many converts that seek out a wali because they have no male relative who is Muslim. In this post, I share some guidelines aimed at the wali in his new role and stories that are useful.

Being a wali is not an honorary role. You’re not just throwing out the first pitch. You’re actually trying to throw curveballs to see whether the proposal checks out or has issues.

Here are some questions and demands a wali should make:

Background check: Call and meet at least four people that were close to the man who has proposed and interview them. There’s no husn al-zann (good opinion) in marriage. As a potential suitor, you are rejected until you prove yourself, much like an application for employment. These days, most people’s background can be found on their social media, so the wali has to spend time scrolling down. Keep scrolling, read the comments, look at the pictures, click on who’s tagged in those pictures. Get a good idea. You are a private investigator *before* the problem happens, not after. 

Check financials:  You need to see the financials to make sure they are not in some ridiculous debt or have bad credit such that they can’t even rent an apartment or cover basic needs. You want some evidence that he can fulfill the obligation of maintenance.

Check the educational background or skill set: This is a given. If it’s solid, then it can outweigh lack of funds at this moment.

Check medical records: If this is a stranger, the wali needs medical records. There was once a wealthy, handsome young man that was suave and a seemingly amazing prospect who proposed for a girl who was comparatively of average looks and from a family of very modest means. The mother and daughter were head over heels, but the dad had enough common sense to know something was up.

“Why would he come knocking on our door?,” he asked.

So the father demanded medical records. The guy never produced them. When the dad pressed him, the man admitted, he had a sexually transmitted disease (STD) and that’s why he couldn’t find anyone else to marry him.

Now note, there are legitimate cases where people have a past when they have made mistakes. This happens to the best of us, and the door for tawbah (repentance) is open. In those cases, there are organizations that match-make for Muslims with STDs. People should act in a responsible manner and not damage the lives of other humans beings.

Lifestyle: It is your job to check if the two parties have agreed on life essentials such as religious beliefs, where to live, how to school kids, etc?

In-laws: Have you at least met the family of the suitor and spent some time with them to make sure there’s nothing alarming?

Engagement: Contrary to popular understanding, there is such a thing as engagement in Islam. It’s an announcement of a future commitment to marriage. Nothing changes between the fiancees, but nobody is allowed to propose anymore. The purpose of engagement is to give time for both parties to get ready. For example, the groom may want to save up some money, or the girl may be finishing up college. Also, it’s easy to put on a face during the get-to-know process, but it’s hard to fake it over an eight or nine-month period. I remember a story where a young woman was engaged, and four months into the engagement they discovered the young man was still getting to know other women. He basically reserved the girl and then went to check for better options. Needless to say, he was dumped on the spot. Engagements are commonly a few months. I think more than a year is too much.

Legal/Civil:  The marriage should be legal/civil in the country where you will settle. If you accept a Shariah marriage but not a civil one, know that you’re asking for legal complications, especially if a child enters the picture. (Ed. Note- we realize that some countries do not allow legal registration of more than one marriage- if that is a consideration please look at all options to protect your ward. There are ways to get insurance that can be set up.)

Mahr: Get 50% of the dowry upfront (or some decent amount) and whatever is scheduled to be paid later should be written and signed. I’ve seen too many cases where a really nice dowry is “promised” but never produced.

The dowry should be commensurate to current standards depending on the man’s job. For example in our area in America 5, 7, or 10k is a common range.

In sum, there are very few things in life that are as bad as misery in marriage. The wali’s job is to eliminate the bad things that could have been avoided. If that means he has to be demanding and hated for a few months, it’s worth the cost.

It’s preventative medicine.

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