Thursday, March 23, 2017

Jummah Word: 3 Precious Practices


Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (peace be upon him) instructed Abu Al-Darda to observe three practices which he himself never abandoned. He instructed him to fast three days every month, and not to sleep but after observing the Witr, and to observe supererogatory prayer in the forenoon while traveling and while resident. [Sunan Abi Dawud 1433]
DUHA PRAYER
Morning prayers offered before noon are called Duha prayers. On account of his wife Ummul Momineen 'Aishah RA "The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) used to perform 4 Rak'ah of Duha prayer (at the forenoon) and would add to them whatever Allah wished." [Riyadh as Salihin Book 9, Hadith 151] Another companion Anas RA reported he offered 6 Rak'ahs at another occasion [1]. The prayer's format is 2 Ra'kahs followed by Salam and then as many sets of 2 Ra'kahs one wishes to pray. According to Sunnah, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (peace be upon him) prayed 8 Ra'kahs in this manner on the day of the Conquest of Makkah [2]
FASTING 3 DAYS OF THE MONTH
Ummul Momineen 'Aishah RA was asked which 3 days are most prescribed by Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (peace be upon him) for fasting. She mentioned that he fasted whenever suitable and there were no specific days prescribed rigidly as to when the 3 fasts should be kept [3]. His fasting preference was the beginning/middle of the month and Friday was the least preferred day for fasting [4]. The 3 days of Ayyām al-Bīḍ (White Days, the brightest of the Moon) 13th, 14th, and 15th (of the lunar dates) were preferred most in a month [5]. Fasting for 3 days of the month carries reward equal to the fasting of a whole year [6]. Mondays and Thursdays are also Sunnah favorite days for fasting [7]
WITR PRAYER
Witr is an odd numbered prayer offered in the night, and according to Sunnah it could be 1 Ra'kah, 3 Ra'akah, or 5 Ra'akah [8]. The Prophet performed 13 Ra'akah Witr and 7 when he grew old [9]. Witr is to be offered before Fajr begins, and the Prophet advised Abu Hurairah RA to offer Witr before sleeping [10]. He also expressed annoyance towards anyone who did not offer Witr.      

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Sisterly Yours Jummah Word: Heart In A Box


Bismillah (In The Name Of Allah)

Assalamoalaikum

(Peace Be Upon You)

The heart is the most sensitive; though most strongest, gift Allah SWT has given to us and we are the most negligent caretakers. It is built to endure the highs and lows Allah SWT has written in our destiny. "Allah burdens not a soul beyond its capacity.” [Sahih Muslim 126]. We are responsible for beating our poor heart down to a point where it loses the strength of faith (Iman) which makes the core! We are capable of doing this by emotionally investing ourselves in toxic relationships which do not give us a good return on our investment. We harbor a million expectations in our heart which shatter it when they are not met. We fail to realize that the best caretaker of our heart is Allah SWT because only a Creator can value His Creation. He hold us dear and near and we end up distancing ourselves from Him. The best solution to treating the weakness of our heart is to lock it in a box ad hand it to our Creator. This trust in Allah SWT is called Tawakkal and it is blind trust.
This was the Sisterly Yours Jummah Word, think about it.

Until next Jummah ...

Monday, February 27, 2017

#AlhamdulillahForSeries: Pride In My Islamic Identity

DISCLAIMER: This is not a sponsored post. All graphics belong to Ayeina. I am using them as prompts for Tuesday blog write ups. "AYEINA as a whole, is a community of people trying to strengthen their Islamic identity and make the best of both worlds. Hence we provide them just that, by CREATING and recommending Islamic products and content, that revolves around Qur’anic reflections, Parenting, Education (Arabic learning), Art and Humor – all in one."

Bismillah (In Allah's Name)
It is scary to see the political crisis in the United States affecting minority groups - particularly Muslims. I always say that terrorist villains have hijacked my religion (Islam) and are making a big joke out of it through ridiculous agendas and inhuman practices. They have instilled fear in the hearts of everyone all around the globe. And, in the wake of their radical blasphemy they have made the world an unsafe place and given Muslims a bad image. I am proud of my Islamic identity but the silhouette of a Hijab-observing woman has become a trigger for worry for everybody. 
#AlhamdulillahFor my Islamic identity. I say this because I am proud of belonging to a religion that means peace for anyone and everyone regardless of their faith. Islam requires its followers (Muslims) to be an epitome of love and mercy for the world. Its Prophet, Prophet Muhammad SAW (peace be upon him) is famous as Rehmat ul lil Alameen which means Mercy For All Worlds (creations). I am proud that I belong to a majestic legacy of warriors that slayed only evil and pure evil for the love of God and were merciful to every soul that came in peace. I take pride in belonging to the last link of the chain of Abrahamic religions which make me a follower of Prophets Adam, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Aaron, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad (peace me upon them all). I am proud that my Hijab - the dress code entirely - is exactly what Mariam (Mary) the mother of Prophet Jesus, and the wives and daughters of Prophet Muhammad SAW observed.
Islam is the most mature, most sophisticated, most comprehensive, and the most complete theology that relates perfectly with modern times. The only trouble is the manipulative use of Islamic principles by the villainous elements. Not everybody knows what the principles of Islamic theology are and under what circumstances they function in which way. This is the reason any practicing Muslim's identity comes off as a threat to the general public that takes its news feed from the media.
I feel that together with feeling blessed there is a responsibility that comes with this identity. It is a responsibility to prove myself - my religion - to the world. I have to prove that just like a devout Christian is modest, and a devout Jew fears God, a Muslim too is all those things and more.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Sisterly Yours Jummah Word: Declutter Your Nafs

Calligraphy tools at The Art Of The Quran Exhibition At Sackler Gallery, Washington DC

Bismillah (In The Name Of Allah)

Assalamoalaikum (Peace Be Upon You)
Psycological and social clutter tends to create a brain fog that distracts me from staying true to my goals at times. I have always taken my life seriously but I am taking it extra seriously since my Hajj (September 2016) and Umrah (January 2017). Most recently I was on a very challenging trip to Karachi which left me in a post traumatic state when I returned. Recuperating from that and dealing with work/life drama has not been easy. All this and other issues which are outside my circle of concern but have influences on people around me who happen to be in my circle of concern have distracted me from my goals. Confusing? Imagine me living it ...
There should be a game plan; a concrete fail-proof defense strategy, that you will gauge to de-clutter your Nafs (psyche) if you have to get your goals straight.

A personal, inspiration nook is the best place to begin. I have de-cluttered my surroundings first because that is where the first change should begin. The mental chaos is difficult to shut down but the tangible chaos can be controlled super easily. Believe me ... the change seeps down and calms your nerves. I have started to feel the effect already. I have always had a Musallah (prayer place) in my room. This time I decided to use the lower showcase of my shelf to create a cozy nook that aligns with my Ja'namaz (prayer rug). The arrangement used to sit up in the shelf like a decoration and now it is part of my sitting space and keeps me focused during prayer and during dua’a. Fortunately the shelf is in the direction of the Ka’bah itself, so the little nook just fell in place.
I intend to resume my Qur’an tafsir (exegesis) self-study sessions, and so the gold basket holds the scripts - the Mas’haf itself and the Tafsir Ibn Kathir volume I am currently studying. The black and white swirls magnetic board stands in the background and I have put up the Alhamdulillah For graphics from the gratitude journal. The gold lantern rests on a box decorated with calligraphic text of Ayat Al Kursi. The box itself is for keeping the Qur'an. 
This is just the first step that is going to help me focus for now until my Nafs is strong, inshaAllah.
Secondly, the Nafs can be de-cluttered by following some challenging steps:
  • Avoid useless, senseless, disruptive, and argumentative conversations/discussions.
  • Avoid social events/gatherings where there is potential for big Fitnah.
  • Don't overthink things and leave them to Allah SWT. 

#jummahmubarak #jummah #masjidnabawi #madinah #prophetmuhammad #rasulullah #islam #muslim #proudmuslim #salah

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Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Art Of The Quran Exhibition in DC

The Art of the Qur’an: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts was a beautiful exhibit that opened in Fall 2016. The many scripts that were on display at the exhibit dated back to as far as the 1500's! The rare assortment is an over-the-ages collection courtesy of the Sultans (rulers) of the Ottoman Empire that once flourished in Turkey. The scripts were personal copies of the Sultans or their wives and mothers, or collectors art pieces by famous Quran calligraphers of different times. I am a born Muslim, but I was unaware of the majestic ethos of the grand legacy and history I am part of, Alhamdulillah, and so this exhibition has done volumes for me.
This enormous script written in gold and ink was the entryway highlight of the exhibit room. It weighs 150 pounds and two individuals are required to turn a page. This dates back to the 1500's. It was at least 4 feet wide spread out open inside the box.
While Caliph Uthman bin Affan RA compiled and arranged the complete Quran, Caliph Ali Ibn Abu Talib was the first calligrapher of Islam.
The style of writing is the Kufic script invented by him. angular writing is characteristic of the Kufic script.

Calligraphers of the Quran used to use special boxes to store the special pens, ornate stands to hold the pens, decorated knives to cut the nibs, and silk fabric blotters to control ink flow from the inkwell.

This is a Rehel (Urdu word), a stand used to hold big-sized Quranic script. This is made of wood, tortoiseshell, and metal. 
 
There were copies of Quranic scripts owned by the wives and mothers of the Sultans (kings) of the Ottoman Empire. This copy belongs to Hatice Turhan Sultan, the wife of a Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. All of queens are known from their charitable and religious contributions. There is a message here about the treatment of women in Islam. They held equal ranks as men and enjoyed the same luxury as their kings. 
This beautifully painted piece is the personal Quran of Nurbano Sultan, wife of a Turkish king Selim II. She has read it so frequently, the edges of the pages are stained.  

Of course to preserve such exquisite copies of the Quran there had to be complimenting covers. This is heavy duty leather stamped with gold and paint patterns. This is a cover of the Quran retrieved from Iran dating back to sixteenth century.
It is only fitting to have a majestic box for such beautiful and expensive scripts. This is a box used to store scripts of the Quran. These boxes are made of wood, ivory, tortoiseshell, horn, gold, and other exquisite materials. 
 
This is the Quranic script written on silk. Such gifts have been given by the Sultans to the holy places in Makkah and Madinah.
 
This gorgeous piece is a lamp from a mosque in Egypt that was sold to Sackler Freer. It looks huge here inside the box on display but in the mosque it would have been a small part of the grand architecture.
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There were multiple groups of visitors who had gathered to feast their eyes on the exquisite pieces. There particularly a group of young students guided by a teacher who was narrating the details of Islam, the Quran, and the meaning of the verses that were on display. Another group was a guided tour most probably because the lady who was narrating was mentioning Sackler repeatedly. 
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It was unusual, unique, and a matter of great pride to be listening to such wonderful words about Islam, Qur'an, and Prophet Muhammad SAW from non-Muslim guides. This exhibit attracted students of arts, history, and theology and it was alarming to see the turnout specially because of the current times and the anti-Muslim hyperbole going around. 
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They were describing Islam - and rightfully so - as one of the blessed monotheistic religions of the world and a part of the chain of Abrahamic religions. Some key incidents such as the story of the creation of Adam and Eve, the ascension of Prophet Muhammad SAW to the seven heavens (Mairaj), and the revelation of the Quran through the archangel Gabriel (Jibr'il AS) upon the Prophet Muhammad SAW in the Hira Cave were being narrated to the visitors.
It was truly magnificent exhibition that provided some new perspectives. I enjoyed my visit. It reminded me of my visit to the Topkapi Museum in Turkey that had the handwritten script of the Caliph Uthman RA on display. I wish the exhibit had a live calligraphy artist around! 
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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

#AlhamdulillahForSeries: Hope Amidst Darkness


DISCLAIMER: This is not a sponsored post.
All graphics belong to Ayeina. I am using them as prompts for Tuesday blog write ups.
"AYEINA as a whole, is a community of people trying to strengthen their Islamic identity and make the best of both worlds. Hence we provide them just that, by CREATING and recommending Islamic products and content, that revolves around Qur’anic reflections, Parenting, Education (Arabic learning), Art and Humor – all in one."


Bismillah (In Allah's Name)

Despair comes purely from Shaitan (Satan) because he is on a mission to blind us from Allah SWT's Graciousness. In addition to despair tiny triggers like stress, illness, anxiety, and dilemmas which bring our hope quota down. In all these circumstances, we need to identify the powerhouses of hope that Allah SWT has embedded in our systems as Muslim women. 

THE BLESSED EXAMPLES



Muslim women (or Believing women, since some examples are from pre-Prophet Muhammad SAW's era) have lived such blessed lives, powered by hope amidst darkness. They stood tall - often alone - like fortresses of hope and belief in Allah SWT. Paradise was announced for these women. There was Aasiyah (wife of Fir'aun) who took physical torture and then gave up her life but did not leave the right path. There was the blessed Maryam (Mary) (mother of Prophet Isa (Jesus) AS) who fought the world when it attacked her reputation but stood gracefully in service to Allah SWT. There was Prophet Muhammad SAW's wife Khadija RA who was his companion through the toughest times of torture and atrocities that early Muslims had to face. And finally there was the blessed Fatimah (the beloved daughter of Prophet Muhammad SAW) who did the same and beyond. Both of these women could have lived like queens of the time but they were content to live challenging lives with minimal means. 

Each time we are running low on hope we must remember the legacy they left for us and say Alhamdulillah.

MIND OVER BODY


Us ladies are at a bigger risk of losing hope because we are weak (as compared to men) in absorbing minor blows that come from the social spheres. We are also challenged by the way our bodies have been made. For example, we are influenced by mood lows during our monthly cycles. Allah SWT has made us emotionally more powerful than men and we are magnificent shock absorbers that way. Our levels of pain tolerance (physical) also deserve a standing ovation. But we tend to lose hope - or let the hope levels down - pretty easily. 

Sometimes counting blessings does not break a PMS spell, or a serious low time in life. This is where we must find salvation in prayers, or perhaps some alone time. Hope can sometimes be found in the most unexpected of places. For me, hope comes from a hug from my sister, from a friend who manages to make me laugh through everything, or from a tiny little trigger Allah SWT sends my way.

ALLAH IS MY ALPHA


Women are conditioned to live in a patriarchal society where by default men are boss. All the ladies are accustomed to turn to an alpha male for decision making, social support, and life in general. So if we are functioning as single, or are under pressures of leading because the men of the house are least bothered or missing in action, or absent, we tend to buckle because we don't know who (which man?) to turn to? That happens! This is where I say a woman is to make Allah her alpha. He is the only One who can guide and protect. When I am facing a tough one and I feel nobody is around to help or direct me I turn to Istikhara. It has never failed me, not once. 

REMEMBER, SOMEONE ELSE'S DARKNESS MAY BE GREATER


I felt like I was pretty 'devastated' last week - of course an overly dramatic frame of mind considering my mood low. It was mostly emotional because Alhamdulillah I have been blessed in so many ways. The spell was so strong it brought me to tears. And then, heart-shaking appeals of people of Aleppo dying showed up on my social media feeds. There are people in the world holding tiny, bloodied and covered-in-rubble dead bodies and they have nobody to turn to but Allah SWT. I realized I had no right to cry. My problems may be huge but they don't matter considering the pitch black darkness some people are in at the same time somewhere else in the world. 

Alhamdulillah For Hope Amidst Darkness

Friday, December 9, 2016

Sisterly Yours Jummah Word: Allah On My Side






Bismillah (In The Name Of Allah)

Assalamoalaikum (Peace Be Upon You)

I have made it pretty obvious that I am an introvert deep down under the layers of my outgoing self. This attitude has been shaped by the challenges presented to me by the world of people that exists outside my circle of concern. My circle of concern comprises of my relationship with Allah SWT, my reverence to Prophet Muhammad SAW, and my bond with my family. Beyond this is a world where people’s words and actions are often too harsh. I have faced bullying, deceit, jealousy, and arrogance. And I have faced them all with immense Sabr because I have always been a lone warrior. Most of the time there was no listening ear and no hand of support. But as Allah SWT says:

InnaAllaha Ma’as Sabireen

Allah is with those who are patient.

(Quran, Surah Al Baqarah, Verse 153)

I am thirty years old today and nothing has changed. Earlier, the subject of bullying was my body image of being an overweight person with facial acne, and today it is my marital status of being single, or me being a female homemaker, or me being a Hijab-observing Muslim. There are two sides. With me on my side are people who stand by me - mainly because they care for me or they are in the same boat as I am (the single, alpha female who is trying to prove herself!). And there is the ‘other side’ which comprises of people who like to taunt, criticize, belittle, and announce how little they trust my abilities. I can always rip this ‘other side’ to threads with the bitterness of my words and the arrogance of my achievements. But here is the catch …
If I let Sabr go, I will lose Allah SWT’s support and I need him on my side.
This was the Sisterly Yours Jummah Word, think about it.
Until next Jummah ...