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Pause. Something which I have not been very good at in my life. But today is a new day to start a new habit.

Pause. Breathe. Reflect. Reframe. Hopefully this will help to regain focus, and bring us back into the “here and now”, or the “present” as you may call it.

May we learn and cultivate the art of being able to just pause.

“Misery is only for those without hope”~ Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad

Have Hope and remind others there is always Hope.

“Everything departs and doesn’t return except supplication: it travels higher seeking hope and returns with gifts beyond expectations” ~ Imam Afroz Ali

Hope. 

“As you struggle with whatever you’re struggling with, understand that the opening will come. The darkest part of the night is just before the dawn. Never despair, never lose hope, be patient, the opening will come, just as it came for the Prophet and for his community” ~ Imam Zaid Shakir

Hope. 

 We are people of hope. Our Prophet was a person of hope and never gave up despite everything he faced. Draw strength and courage by reflecting on how he coped with difficult situations. ~ Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

Hope. 

“Hope is connected to Mercy. A believer has hope that no matter what happens, everything will be okay – because Allah is All-Merciful. It’s important to live with hope always. It is even possible to say, anyone with hope is a believer of some sort!” ~ Bosun Benyamin

Hope.

The only real assurance the heart craves us that there is hope, that there is meaning and there is light at the end of the tunnel, and that light is: Nur-as-Samawati wal ard, Light of the Heavens and Earth. ~ Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad

Hope.

“O my Lord, let not my hopes in You be cast back unfulfilled. Nor let my firm conviction (of Your Goodness) be thrown into disarray.” ~ (line 157), Qasida Burda by Imam Al- Busiri

Hope. 

Hope is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul –

And sings the tune without the words –

And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –

And sore must be the storm –

That could abash the little Bird

That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chilliest land –

And on the strangest Sea –

Yet – never – in Extremity,

It asked a crumb – of me

By Emily Dickinson 

We are people of Hope. 

My dear friend Taslim very recently wrote a piece on her excellent blog called: Four Words (which is well worth a read, in fact her whole blog is worth reading and bookmarking!). She ended the blog post with the following question:

“What four words would you choose?”

Although it was perhaps a rhetorical question, it did inspire me to think. What four words would I choose?

As Taslim mentioned in her blog post, words are powerful, and I fully agree with her in the sense that words do carry the power to affect us in a positive or negative way.

Towards the end of August, on a 5 hour train journey to a friend’s wedding in Glasgow, I reflected on words which impact me.  I came up with many words which resonate with me, inspire me or perhaps describe my outlook on life. But since I could only choose “four”, I narrowed my selection down and wrote the four words which hold deep meaning, and impact me the most:

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Prayer is a source of comfort. It strengthens belief.

Belief is a form of acceptance and submission, and it ignites hope.

Hope gives us courage and the strength to carry on moving forward. It encourages us to be positive and patient, and look forward to receiving that joy we pray, believe and hope for.

Joy is that feeling of pleasure, delight, triumph and gratitude, which leads us back to prayer, thanking our Creator for the blessing, because our belief and hope was in Him all along.

We pray to strengthen our belief, which then provides us with hope, and ultimately we are led to joy.

As you can see, the four words I chose are interconnected.

What four words would you choose?

“….It’s because we are reminded that our hearts have this temporal yearning which is not to last forever, but only for this life. And through this yearning He is truly found.

He puts destiny in our way whilst we are in pursuit of happiness. What joy would happiness be without our hearts being challenged, moved and even broken if every pursuit, be it trivial or life threatening was quickly achieved?

God willing, hearts move on, new journeys are begun and current episodes become part of ones life encounters where lessons and reflections are gained. Live on and know your destiny awaits you, no one can take it from you because He has already ordained it for you. Don’t blame yourself for any of this, it was never in your control because destiny has its own way…..”  

 (Reflections by a dear friend, mentor and teacher)

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The Bosphorus, Istanbul at sunset (Dec 2009)

 

 

A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.

Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups – porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite – telling them to help themselves to the coffee.

When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: ‘If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress. Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups… And then you began eyeing each other’s cups.

Now consider this: Life is the coffee; the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of Life we live.

Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee God has provided us.’ God brews the coffee, not the cups…..Enjoy your coffee!

‘The happiest people don’t have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything.’

Live simply.
Love generously.
Care deeply.
Speak kindly.
Leave the rest to God.
You are the miracle, my friend,
Your life either shines a light – or casts a shadow.
‘The purpose of life is to live life with purpose’

This story has made me think and reflect A LOT. Very often we are so caught up in what we don’t have in life, thus we easily forget what we actually have. Life is not supposed to be perfect, neither are people, therefore we must accept life, with all its challenges, hurdles, tests and tribulations; similarly, we must accept people with all the challenges they give us as well, especially those who have a special place and position in our lives and hearts. Of course this is something very difficult to internalize and implement, and its a constant struggle for us,  however we have to keep trying and trying. Thinking too much about what is to come, and what we don’t have makes us lose sight of the bigger picture, and the bigger purpose in life we are all trying to achieve. My best friend always says to me “live in the moment”, and this is a strategy I have started to implement which is working quite well. It’s all about letting go of our fears, anxieties and worries about what’s to come tomorrow.  At the end of the day,  we are all successful in different ways; Allah gives us success in different ways and through different things. Sometimes, we might see ourselves as a failure just because we do not have XYZ in our lives, yet, we do not know how we are affecting and impacting others, and helping them by just being there in their lives. “Your life either shines a light, or casts a shadow”.

May Allah make us happy with what we have and with what we don’t have in life. Amin!

“Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have- life itself”

~ Walter Anderson

“No calamity befalls a Muslim but that Allah expiates some of his sins because of it, even though it were the prick he receives from a thorn.” (Narrated by Sayyida Aisha radhiAllahu anha, Sahi Bukhari, Vol: (7)  Hadith No: (544))

Life can be tough at times, but the above hadith reminds us that nothing goes un-noticed to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, not even a tiny thing such as a prick from a thorn; so what about everything else that the heart endures when afflicted with calamities, hardships, trials/tribulations?

With this in mind, let’s rejoice and seek comfort in knowing that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is aware of what is going on in our hearts. Each difficult moment, day, month, year(s) we experience, lets be assured that He subhanahu wa ta’ala is aware of our state and situation. Life is short, and thus time is important; each breath is a blessing and gives us an opportunity to get closer to Him subhanahu wa ta’ala, which is really want all these situations are about- for us to run to Him subhanahu wa ta’ala. As Mawlana Rumi very eloquently sums it all up for us: 


“He has afflicted you from every direction in order to pull you back to the Directionless.”

 May our hearts always be attached to Him subhanahu wa ta’ala, and may each difficulty we all face be a means of purification for us. Amin ya Rabb! Allahumma salli ‘ala sayyidina Muhammad!

“Oh my heart,

Don’t become discouraged so easily.

Have faith.

In the hidden world, there are many mysteries,

many wonders.

Even if the whole planet threatens your life,

don’t let go of the Beloved’s robe

for even a breath.”

~ Rumi

A short but excellent story….read on!

A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year old grandson. The old man’s hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered. The family ate together at the table. But the elderly grandfather’s shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor. When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth. The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess. “We must do something about Grandfather,” said the son. “I’ve had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor.”

So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner. There, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner. Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl. When the family glanced in Grandfather’s direction, sometimes he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone. Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food.

The four-year-old watched it all in silence.

One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, “What are you making?” Just as sweetly, the boy responded, “Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food when I grow up.” The four-year-old smiled and went back to work.

The words so struck the parents that they were speechless. Tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done. That evening the husband took Grandfather’s Hand and gently led him back to the family table. For the remainder of his Days he ate every meal with the family. And for some reason, neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled.

Children are remarkably perceptive. Their eyes ever observe, their ears ever listen, and their minds ever process the messages they absorb. If they see us patiently provide a happy home atmosphere for family members, they will imitate that attitude for the rest of their lives. The wise parent realizes that every day the building blocks are being laid for the child’s future. Let’s be wise builders and role models.

“Life is about people connecting with people, and making a positive difference.” Take care of yourself, and those you love, …today, and everyday! That regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life.

Remember that making a “living” is not the same as making a “life.”

Remember that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you. But, if you focus on your family, your friends, the needs of others, your work and doing the very best you can, happiness will find you. Sometimes people just need a little something to make them smile.

People will forget what you said…

People will forget what you did…

But people will never forget how you made them feel…

(source: unknown)

You all remember the famous nursery rhyme “Row, row, row your boat?” (c’mon, we all were brought up singing this!) Well, our beloved teacher, Shaykh Afifi al-Akiti (May Allah preserve him and allow us to benefit from him) used this  nursery rhyme as an analogy to explain life. Shaykh Afifi said:

Row, row, row your boat (hard work in this life)

Gently down the stream (your life is being directed by Qada’ and Qadar)

Merrily,merrily,merrily, merrily (enjoying life)

Life is but a dream (the reality of this life is summed up in this last verse!)

photo-boat-ship-113Hence, the Shaykh mentioned that “wisdom” is the lost camel (property) of the believer.   Therefore, we take wisdom from whatever source it comes from, even if it is from our enemies. The Shaykh prayed to show things as how they actually are, and for us to know good when it is good, and to know bad when it is bad, without being distracted by the outer veil.

 

(Jazaka’llahu khayran to sidi Tun Wildan for narrating, and reminding me of this beautiful gem!)

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