Tag Archives: Allah

The ‘Before’ and ‘After’ Click!

Throwback Hajj journey 2015

 

Day Six Diary:

Tick tock tick tock

It’s 8:35am and we are all counting the minutes till dhuhr prayer, which is when the most beautiful and glorious day of the year starts right here on mount Arafah. This is what we came here for, and this is why I paid extra charges for overweight luggage since the thousands of hearts I took with me didn’t fit in my purple carry-on!

 

Today is the day people! You’ll all be transformed and reborn by Maghreb prayer inshAllah.

Oh my God! You know what sounds like so much fun?

A before and after picture!!

You know when you’re all pale and geeky then you get a fabulous makeover? And then the picture is photoshopped and ho-ho! You’re as beautiful as the sun and moon put together!

Except today’s makeover is of your inner souls… Your Merciful Great Lord will delete the sins of your past by sunset along with all its regrets and mistakes. There’s no tricks or technology involved. It’s purely you…glowing with peace and blessings… As innocent as a newborn baby, with a chance to start anew…

The Before Picture:

Do you think it’s safe to whine a little bit before Dhuhr prayer? Coz I so need to take it out of my “before” drama-queen-system.

Dhuhr is at noon so we’re good for a couple of hours!

Okay, so we finished Hajj rites at the Ka’bah yesterday and ran to the buses to spend the night at mount Arafa. It’s so not a sunnah actually, but with the traffic nightmare, it’s better to be safe than sorry. A couple of years ago, a group of pilgrims got stuck on the road, they arrived at Arafat AFTER Maghreb! Like hello? Too late! They missed Hajj completely and had to redo it the following year.

Anyways, Hajjis stay in tents, one for men and one for women. We walked in and looked at each other with confusion, seeing there wasn’t enough room for all hundred women to sleep in, we realized “Uhm we have a problem!” It was after midnight and this was the only chance to get some sleep for another two days. So the plan was to take turns. Yes, you heard that right! There was a line up for sleep, just like the one outside for the bathrooms (not a correct term though. It’s actually just a toilet and a tiny drain, and if you wanna shower, I guess you stand on top of the toilet and use the shower head)

I met my lovely cousins here too, and they were so sweet they managed to save one single bed for both my sister in law and I.  Both of us crammed in a tiny bunk bed it felt like that movie “Honey I Blew Up The Kids!” We laughed so hard. I mean  it’s 100 degrees outside, the lights are on, there’s 40 women around you engaging in bedtime gossip, loud noises of cars and sirens, and about 4000 Mosquitos distributed evenly amongst us! Plus the line up outside.

(I told you I was gonna whine lol)

But sobhan Allah, even with all that, we still got some peaceful sleep, and now we can’t wait for dhuhr!

“Click”

Sorry, that was my camera taking the “before” picture!

 

Shhhhhhhh The Great Lord is descending to the first heaven…

Talk to Him… tell Him what’s aching your heart…. He is the most benevolent and the most generous…

Now go talk to Allah, He’s listening

 

The After Picture:

It’s 6:56pm and with the sunset of Arafah day, we have been reborn…

And there are no words to describe this feeling…

Everyone is so quiet and calm… Even though we have a long way ahead to Muzdalafa, and we’re extremely exhausted, everyone is smiling and praising the Great Lord…

Thanking Him for the luxury we take for granted back home…

Comfy beds, clean bathrooms, warm meals, shower gels and lotions!

And most of all thanking Him for giving us the means to come here…

And then inviting us to be His guests…

And even though we have done so much wrong, He’s giving us the chance to start a new page…

No wonder we are all smiling…

“Click”

That’s the “After” picture…

You can hardly see the faces: they’re all emitting so much pure white light…

You’ve been given a second chance… Take the right path and enlighten our world with every step you take…

Or take a wrong turn and..

You know what? Let me hang this picture on your wall. It will remind you daily that when you’re on the right track, nothing can go wrong…

When you’re with Allah, you’re more beautiful than the sun and moon put together…

 

Have a wonderful amazing Eid guys! I’m off to stone the stupid devil. Wish me luck!

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

Are You The One?

Throwback Hajj 2015
Published on On Islam

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Hajj Diary: Day Five

Turns out they weren’t kidding when they said we wouldn’t have time to breathe. After eight long hours in the bus, we finally arrived in Mecca in a state of Ihram. We chanted “Labayk Allahuma Labayk” the whole way! And it was SO nice!

We also stopped at a very primitive, hygiene-deficient, dungeon of a rest house to pray and use the bathrooms! But can we please not talk about this part? Call me spoiled but I think I’m scarred for life!

I’ll save you the gory details. Just know you guys are lucky to be heart-Hajjis when it comes to this part of the journey!

No I mean it, we are not gonna talk about it! End of story. (Hey! You! No debating in Hajj!)

Anyways, once we arrived at the hotel, someone pushed the fast-forward button on our journey, and the new catch phrase became: “Come on let’s go let’s go LET’S GO!”

We headed off to the haram to start the rites of Hajj and to be perfectly honest, walking into the Holy place and seeing the cranes, construction workers and annoying partitions, I suddenly felt a bit disappointed. I kept my head down as my brother miraculously infiltrated us through the huge crowd, and then when we finally reached the tawaf area, I felt like a soft invisible hand slowly lift my chin up… And my eyes were glued open…

I saw it…

The Ka’bah…

And the glorious magnificent sight of it pierced right through my heart with a million rays of shimmering light…

No matter how many times you’ve visited Mecca. Seeing the Ka’bah each time is exactly like seeing it the first time!

How can I explain this?

If Madina is peace and serenity, Mecca is…

Intense… Powerful… Awe-inspiring! Especially in these blessed days….

Even the imam welled up during Isha prayer and choked on his tears while reciting Quran out loud from the intensity of the soul-captivating energies emitting from the beautiful House of God…

(Wait, I’m not sure if that was a secret. But we all heard him, so that’s not gossiping right?)

A little bit later, amidst the heat waves of summer nights in Mecca, it started to rain…

I think even the sky is overwhelmed by the yearning hearts coming from all around the world to please Allah… The Most Merciful…

Sometimes I wonder if non-Muslims watch the rituals of Hajj on TV and think we are a bunch of cucko-heads dressed in white towels and doing ring-a-roses around a black box!

Let them think what they want…

Because what we feel now is worth a lifetime of bliss. What we see and do and say is done with love beyond measures…

What we believe in is what keeps us grounded, hopeful and at peace…

At this exact moment… Some people are off partying wildly somewhere. They’re living it up and chasing meaningless, temporary pleasure. But the minute they’re alone with their hearts, they cry out screams of despair. They feel empty inside… Running after a mirage with no goal or end in mind.

But here…

Once you’re done each ritual, oh the feeling you get… It’s surreal… It’s like drinking cold water on a hot sizzling day or finding a loved one safe after an earthquake….

There’s no emptiness here… Only joy and peace…

Close your eyes and feel the vibes of blessings coming down from the sky. Push the fast forward button on your busy life and tell me… How would you like your story to end?

Or rather where would you like your eternal life to begin…?

Being here in this Holy place gives us a new perspective… That man in wrinkled and torn clothes praying next to you, and that old woman sleeping on the floor coz she has no place to stay… All these people lifting their hands up to the Great Lord… I paused and eavesdropped on their prayers, knowing they probably have a lot to ask. But they’re not asking for fancy cars or money to buy a new laptop or designer purses. Sit here and listen to the whispers and feel their hot desperate tears…

They’re all asking for one thing… For Allah to love them…

That’s it…

For Allah to accept them as His salves…

I swear I feel so small and insignificant here…

And the only thing that keeps me hopeful is that I have all your hearts here with me…

Perhaps one of you is so beloved to Allah that for his or her sake, He will generously accept us all…

Maybe because of a sincere intention or a loving teardrop or even a kind word, Allah chose you amongst His beloved slaves…

Millions of prayers could be answered tonight because of one beloved heart…

Your heart…

So look inside it and tell me…

Are you the one…?

 

Your Hajj Representative
Lilly S. Mohsen

 

See you tomorrow in Arafat ishAllah. Don’t miss out on fasting on this beautiful blessed day…

Hajj Diaries: Lilly In Mecca

Throwback, Hajj journey 2015
Published exclusively on On Islam

Medina1.jpg

Day One Dairy: Friday

Can I Represent You For 7 Days?

Before you answer that question let me tell you something:

There’s approximately 1.8 Billion Muslims in the world today. And because of the capacity limit of the great Holy mosque in Mecca, only 3 million people out of the 1.8 billion can perform Hajj every year. If you do the boring math, you’ll realize that’s only 0.0016% of the Ummah. If you do more boring math, you’ll be shocked to know, that even if every Muslim gets a fair chance to fulfill their Hajj obligation, which is one of the main pillars in Islam, they’d have to wait more than a hundred years for their turn. Some people will live and die before having the chance to perform Hajj! Not because they’re sick or old or can’t afford it! But simply because of capacity limitations. Now that really sucks, doesn’t it?

Millions of Muslims apply for Hajj visas every year and get rejected. Millions can’t afford it, can’t take a leave from work, have little kids they can’t leave behind or are physically unable to travel. I know Hajj is only an obligation for those who are able, but just looking at these number and odds, it doesn’t seem fair to me! Less than 1% of Muslims get to be reborn through Hajj, sometimes every year, while others have zero chance!

 

Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) on a Jihad journey, said “We left many Muslims behind and yet they’re with us in every step and share the same rewards. All because they wished to join us but couldn’t…”

 

Is there perhaps a different kind of Hajj that you can do EVERY single year with your heart, and get the same reward of those who are physically there? Is your sincere intention and longing to please the Lord, enough to fulfill this one, out-of-reach pillar?

Yes, I think so too… Coz Allah is Fair, and He’s the Most Merciful

Try as you may, you’ll never understand the virtue and value of the first ten days of Dhul Hajjah, whether you’re in Mecca or at home. If you’re one of those people, who turn on the TV and watch the floods of white-dressed pilgrims circumbulate the Kaa’ba and hear your heart cry out “Awwwhhh I WISH I WAS THERE”

Then welcome! I’m glad to tell you, you’re in the right place. Please leave your heart in the Lobby along with your consent for me to take it with me. My name is Lilly. S Mohsen, and I will be your representative for the next 7 days inshAllah.

Did I mention I’m one of those lucky 0.016%?

Okay wait, don’t start mumbling jealous words yet. I’m sitting here in the beloved’s mosque in Madina, overwhelmed and humbled by this gift from Allah, and wishing you were all here with me….then I thought “you all can!”

All you need to do is have the intention. A true sincere and genuine intention to come to Hajj this year, have all your past mistakes deleted and start over a new page.

No cheating guys! I’m in a holy place, remember? I’ll know if your intentions are from the heart or not and then you’ll be SO busted! (Actually I won’t know. But I’ll still pretend I do!)

 

All I’m asking is for you to let go of the worldly distractions for a few days. Believe it with every cell in your body that this year, you can do Hajj with your heart…

 

As for me, I’ll walk you through the journey inshAllah during the coming days, which Allah testifies are the best days of the year and the most loved to Him. I’ll take your hearts with me every where I go, and on judgement day, if you’ve never had the chance to do your Hajj physically, I’ll be your faithful witness that in 2015, you came with your heart…

 

There’s a reason Allah inspired me with this thought, right here, sitting next to His beloved’s house. There’s a reason you’re reading this now and your heart is being opened slowly…

Perhaps it’s the only reason Allah invited me to His house, knowing how imperfect and undeserving I might be of this huge honor…

It’s because Allah loves you… And right now… He is looking at your heart…

 

May Allah accept your spiritual Hajj…

Let’s get this beautiful journey started…

 

Your Hajj Representative

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

Inside The Therapist’s Office: Final Episode

Office

 

“Is everything okay?” I heard Maggie ask her dad on the phone. He’d been calling non-stop during our session. It was obviously an urgent matter.

“WHAT!” Maggie screamed.

She was snow-white pale when she dropped her cell phone to the ground and froze in place….

 

Three months later….

 

“Oh don’t remind me!” I covered my face. “I was this close to calling an ambulance that day! I thought something horrible had happened” I said.

“I know I’m sorry!” Maggie giggled. “I’m a drama queen! I can’t help it!”

“You don’t say!” Her father feigned a shocked look while wrapping his arm around her lovingly.

Maggie’s whole family was here to bid me farewell before their big journey. It was more of a social visit than a session, and I must admit I was beyond touched to see all of them again; Maggie, her son Adam, her father Mr. Ramzy, his wife Hannah and her mom Lila.

 

“I was shocked too! I never thought my dream of going to Hajj would come true so soon!” Hannah marveled. “We’re all so very blessed!”

 

They really were….

Hannah found out her mom stayed away fearing her expensive meds would be a financial burden on her daughter after all she’d been through. But Allah sent Maggie to Lila to take care of her…

 Lila kept an eye on her daughter from far, and was the reason for Maggie and Hannah to meet. That’s how Allah listened to Maggie’s prayers and gifted her with a new sister.

 And Maggie’s son Adam was Allah’s gift to Hannah after the miscarriage. Her genuine love for him melted Mr. Ramzy’s heart, and that’s when Hannah accepted his second proposal.

 

Mr. Ramzy later found out about Lila’s kindness to his daughter Maggie, despite what he did! He personally went to apologize and brought Lila back to live with the whole family in his mansion.

 And surprisingly, Adam did not quit therapy. He kept coming back to learn more about Islam, and gave his Grandpa the idea of starting a charity foundation to help orphans. He’s the one who encouraged Hannah to seek therapy, too, and that’s how the truth finally came out bringing with it the hope of a ‘happy ever after’. Mr. Ramzy is taking his whole family to Hajj, hoping to open a new page in the Holy land of Mecca…

 

“I’m totally stoked! Mom can’t remind me of how messed up I was or of the hard times I gave her these past few years EVER AGAIN! A clean slate is a clean slate! Everything else is erased” Adam said.

 

“But isn’t it kinda unfair only rich people get a sinless, spotless, fresh start, just because they can afford to go to Hajj?” Hannah asked.

“I’m not rich and I’m still going inshAllah!” Lila, the old nanny said happily. “When the Lord of the worlds invites you to His house, He will make sureyou get there!”

“Pilgrimage doesn’t delete your past unconditionally!” I said. “ People going to Hajj must settle their loans, their disputes and make peace with people before leaving, otherwise they still carry thus burden till Judgment Day.

 

“Exactly! Because you don’t hurt Allah when you wrong yourself. That’s why He erases those sins easily. But when you hurt His creations, it’s between you and them. You better rectify it before it’s too late!” Mr. Ramzy explained.

“You see, this is what the fifth pillar of Islam is all about; it’s a rehearsal for the real thing!” I continued.

“What do you mean?” Hannah asked.

“Going to Hajj is like a run through or a practice for the afterlife” Adam said. “You say goodbye, leave your family and money behind, and wear the exact outfit you’ll be buried in. You’re then transported to a different place the same way people will carry you to the grave. And when you’re doing tawaf around the Ka’bah, you’ll look around and realize you’re just like everyone else. Gone is the fame, the wealth, the style and top-notch education! You’re standing in a public place amidst millions of other Muslims, and yet it’s you’re overwhelmed with how personal this whole experience feels, just like on the Day of Judgment when you’ll be questioned alone about your previous life!”

“Okay stop! You’re scaring me!” Maggie panicked.

“No sweet heart!” Lila held her hand. “We all need to hear this! How can we prepare for the inevitable if we’re too afraid to talk about it?”

“Have you ever been in love Maggie?” I asked.

“Yes” She blushed.

“When you love someone, you want to run to them! You want to please them and stay by their side forever. Fear is not in the equation, even when you make a mistake!

 

“You know your beloved will forgive and embrace you with all your imperfections!” Hannah continued with tears in her eyes. “Those who truly love Allah, crave this meeting, because they know Him! They trust in His Mercy, Kindness and Compassion!. They spend their whole lives fixing themselves in preparation for this meeting… He is all what they think about! Death is not scary when you’re craving to meet the Beloved…” Hannah said.

Now it was my turn to well up! I couldn’t believe how far along Hannah had come! We were all mesmerized and so proud of her!

“What if you’re not ready?” Mr. Ramzy asked.

“I believe the ones He personally invites to visit His house will come back transformed after this overwhelming rehearsal for the Hereafter. This whole experience will definitely compel us to start getting ready!” Lila replied.

“Hajj is a spiritual journey more than anything! It’s a shift in perspective that will change your life forever!” Hannah smiled.

There’s captivating beauty in strong foundations. The first pillar of fully trusting Allah leads to the second; the desperate need to connect with Him through praying. This bond waters the love inside of us for Him and His creations, leading to the third pillar; Zakat, in which helping others makes us happy. It also takes us out of our comfort zone into the outside world, and that’s when we need ‘taqwa’ or protection to prevent us from going astray, which is done through fasting, the forth pillar of Islam. Ace all of that and you’re ready for the final pillar, the gift of rebirth….

“And we will all be as pure as newborn babies! That’s so cute!” Maggie giggled and everyone laughed.

“So trust, connection, helping others, prevention and then you’re reborn and ready to meet your Lord!” Adam recapped.

“And it goes the other way too!” I challenged him.

“Yes! When you experience the purity of rebirth, you’re more determined to develop a shield with fasting to protect yourself from sins. This will pull you towards the goodness of giving charity, and once you see the joy on people’s faces, you’ll run back to thank and connect to their Creator through salah, and that bond will strengthen your faith and trust in Allah more and more!”

 

“Perfection!” I applauded the bright young man. “But why is ‘salah’, the second pillar of Islam, considered to be the backbone of religion and without it nothing counts?” I asked.

“Oh I know this one! Because many people can’t fast, or have enough money to give charity or go to Hajj but everyone can pray!” Maggie said excitedly.

“Because praying combines all five pillars in one!” Adam explained wisely. “You recite the shahada every salah. You take time away from work to pray; time you give up instead of using it to make money, which is zakat for yourself. And during salah you abstain from drinking, eating and other worldly desires. like fasting. And finally you face the Ka’bah, which is like a spiritual journey to Hajj. See? Five in one!”

“Oh Adam! This was amazing! Whoever raised you did a wonderful job!” Maggie hugged her son and everyone one laughed again.

“We better get going! We have taken up so much of your time!” Mr. Ramzy addressed me as he got up to leave.

“Well, it’s my pleasure sir. I hope you’ll remember my loved ones and I in your du’aa inshAllah!” I smiled.

“Any pearls of wisdom before we go, Lilly?” Hannah asked softly.

“Yes please! Give us one final advice on how to be happy and prevent heartache!” Maggie pleaded.

“If you’re on a flimsy raft in the middle of the sea, would you be scared when the waves get high?” I asked.

“Terrified!” They both replied.

“How about if you were aboard a grand ship?” I asked again.

“We’ll be a lot more calmer!” Mr. Ramzy added.

“Life is like an unpredictable sea!” I said. “Controlling or even avoiding the high waves is practically impossible! The sea will never settle, and the hardships will never cease. All you can do is build a stronger ship. The same waves that might flip the raft will hardly affect you!”

“The farther the destination, the stronger the ship must be” Lila added.

“And we’re aiming for Jannah! We need a ship with super powers to get through this life!” Maggie joked.

“Once you keep your eye on the purpose, distractions won’t interest you Maggie! Obstacles will be challenges and mistakes will become valuable lessons!” Hannah said.

“Like a poor man who discovers he’ll receive his inheritance of a billion dollars in a year!” Mr. Ramzy explained. “He will stop wailing and complaining about the same dire circumstances because there’s something to look forward to! That’s the beauty of Islam…. There’s an ultimate goal and all the hardships in this life actually bring us closer to it!”

“But how do we build a stronger ship to survive a storm?” Adam asked.

“With strong foundations” I smiled. “The five pillars of Islam….”

 

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inside The Therapist’s Office: Episode Six

Office

 

“What can I do for you today Maggie?” The young nurse asked after introducing herself and checking the filled-in medical chart.

“Oh I’m just here for a routine checkup with Dr. Miller” Maggie replied.

“Very well then! Let’s get started” The nurse nodded.

“Thank you Miss ummm… I’m sorry I didn’t get your name” Maggie said.

“It’s Hannah” The nurse smiled.

 

There was something about this nurse that was very intriguing. They started talking, went out for coffee and a couple of weeks later became totally inseparable. Hannah poured out her heart about her loneliness, her failed marriage and the ache of being barren, while Maggie confided in her about the addiction and how hard it was to be a single mother. Like two faces of the same coin, they somehow completed each other. Hannah was Maggie’s soul mate. She took care of Maggie and doted on her son; she was practically his second mom. She taught Maggie the values and morals no one cared to teach her, and encouraged her to instill them in her child. The three of them shared an indescribable bond until the day Hannah got married….

 

“I don’t know how to explain it, she just changed! She became distant and paranoid.” Maggie gazed outside my office window. “It’s like she’s there but she’s not really there! Why does this always happen with everyone I love? My mom died, my husband left, my son’s aloof and my best friend changed! Every time I get attached to someone or something, I lose it! Why can’t we have just one relationship that’s comfortable and happy? Why do we always have to get hurt? Why does Allah let us find love and care after so long and then take them away and watch us suffer?” Maggie covered her face and wept on my desk for what seemed like eternity. She was ashamed of how she was questioning Allah’s will with so much bitterness, but honestly, I was relieved she did. It was time to address her doubts before they start eating her up alive.

“How’s your son doing at school?” I asked, changing the subject, completely prepared for Maggie to lift her head up and give me a ‘confused, frustrated, you’re-the-worst-therapist-ever’ look.

“His PATs are coming up and he thinks this is the perfect time to bond with his Play Station!” Maggie scoffed while wiping her tears.

“So what did you do?” I asked.

“I took it away of course! And I told him he’s not allowed to play games online or chat for hours with his friends till summer time. He can say I’m strict and mean till he’s blue in the face! It wouldn’t change a thing! I’m doing it for his own good!”

“But why can’t he have both; fun and success? Why must you be so harsh on him?” I asked.

“I’m not being harsh! Discipline is the essence of love, Lilly! If my dad had disciplined me instead of letting me do what I want maybe I wouldn’t have had the time or the chance to take drugs! It’s so easy to slip! And now that I’m sober, I’m going to protect my son, because I love him, more than words can ever say!”

“You’re not gaining anything, you just want him to succeed for him Even if right now, he can’t understand why you’re pushing so hard, one day he will, and he’ll thank you for it!” I said with an unexplainable grin.

“See? Exactly!” Maggie raised her hands. “At least someone gets it!”

“To Him belongs the greatest example, but that’s what Allah does, too! He takes away the metaphorical Play Station so we can focus on our ultimate goal! The people we love, they sometimes change, because Allah knows the real joy is in loving Him more! The friends we depend on, they eventually leave, because Allah wants us to ask Him and depend on Him alone. This life is not real Maggie; it’s only a means to a beautiful destination! Allah takes things away to redirect us to the path leading to Paradise. Yes it hurts, and we might whine about it till we are blue in the face, but without suffering we will never learn from our mistakes! Allah does not gaining anything either way! He does it for our own good, because He loves us more than words can say….”

 

Maggie smiled sadly and said, “Your words touch my heart. But I’m afraid when I go back to my life, my mind will take control again. If everything that gives us pleasure is taken away, how can we find joy in this life? Are Muslims not allowed to be happy?”

“A lot of people ask this very same question!“ I confessed. “ I think we need to define what happiness is first before we start looking for it. Take Ramadan for instance, many people wonder why it is associated with peace and gladness when it’s all about self-restraint! Prophet Muhammad said, Allah says

‘There are two (occasions) of joy for the observer of fast. He feels joy when he breaks the fast and he is happy when he meets Allah.” (http://sunnah.com/muslim/13/214)

 

It’s confusing when you look at it from the outside. Of course we’re super excited to eat and drink after waiting for hours on pins and needles for Maghreb prayer! But it’s only for a couple of seconds before we slip into a food coma, so where is the joy Allah is talking about?” I asked.

 

Maggie shrugged then held her breath for the answer.

“Unlike praying and giving charity, fasting is the only act that can never involve showing off (Reya’). It’s purely and sincerely for the sake of Allah alone, which is what we were created to do! So when you finally break your fast, you’re overwhelmed with the joy of finally fulfilling your real purpose in this world, purely for Allah and no one else. With that first sip of water we get an unparalleled feeling of gratitude and appreciation for His blessings! We’re in sync with our ‘fitrah’, our true nature, and that’s why we feel alive.”

 

Perhaps Allah is redefining the meaning of real happiness and joy for us because, let’s face it, we got it all wrong! The people you see dancing and smoking up at parties, who center their lives around being ‘hip’ and ‘fun’, are actually very sad deep inside. No matter what they do, they always feel lost and ‘dead’ inside. Trust me, I’m a therapist, and if these walls could talk, they’d tell you the same thing! Happiness is elusive; everyone is chasing it but no one is able to pin it down. Muslims on the other hand hold the secret to everlasting joy, in both this life and the Hereafter.

We get a crash course every Ramadan on how to be genuinely happy. We’re able to master our own minds instead of being slaves to our desires. Fasting helps us set our priorities straight, because even the simplest craving can become an addiction. When your eyes are glued to the TV then you hear the call for prayer, you’ll get up! You’ll remember how you give up basic needs in Ramadan and put Allah first, and it will strengthen your will power. When you see the drugs, or hear of the rave parties or any other ‘allegedly’ fun things in life, you’ll remember the day you were parched from thirst yet wouldn’t touch that bottle of water because you’re fasting.

 

Do you know what real happiness is? Look up any self-help book or motivational speeches by top entrepreneurs and inspirational speakers; they all agree that happiness is in achievements and real joy is in helping others be happy! Because the ‘purpose of life is a life with purpose’, and that is the essence of the forth pillar of Islam.

 

Ramadan unites us Maggie. We gather for ‘Iftar’ and walk together to the mosque and sit side by side to recite Qur’an. This is the month when we are reminded we’re not alone, the month of smiles and charity and kindness. Muslims all around the world see themselves as brothers and sisters, even if they’re far away from their families. They find happiness in helping each other. This is the love for the sake of Allah… the most joyous, most precious love of all… and trust me, once you find it, it will never be taken away…”

 

“I feel so peaceful and content…” Maggie smiled.

Two minutes later, her phone was vibrating non-stop and she politely asked me if she could take the call.

“My dad won’t stop calling. It must be urgent!” She panicked.

 

“Dad is everything okay?” I heard Maggie ask. She then stood up, and screamed “WHAT!”

She was snow-white pale when she dropped her cell phone to the ground and froze in place….

You see, it always comes as a shock even when you’ve been expecting it…

You never know when your life will completely change to a point when you hardly recognize yourself. It could happen in a heartbeat! And for Maggie…

This was it…

 

To be continued…

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

Inside The Therapist’s Office: Episode Five

Office

She dragged her feet into my office and reluctantly handed me a small bag of pills.

“I must say I’m very proud of you Maggie!” I smiled.

“I’ve been clean for a year, 4 months and 26 days, and yet every time I’m feeling down I still think of drugs! Like they say ‘once an addict, always an addict’, right?” Maggie smiled sadly when I offered her a cup of water. Tears of regret flowed down her face silently, as she remembered how it all started…

 

“Umm hello? Dump him!’ Tanya said, rummaging through her fridge.
“He’s my husband! We have a child together and I love him!” Maggie replied.

She’d been staying at her friend’s house for the past three days. Maggie was trying to put pressure on her husband, hoping he would take her seriously and start realizing there were two people in this marriage.

“He hasn’t called which means he’s already made his decision! How can he possibly think I can do it alone? I can’t!!” Maggie cried.

“I told you he’d leave one day because you’re too conventional Maggie, it’s boring! You need to loosen up a bit and have some fun! You’re still too young for this heartache!” Tanya said, “Here take this!”

“What is it?” Maggie asked.

“It’s a magic pill… it will make all your problems disappear…” Tanya smiled wickedly. 

Maggie knew exactly what the pill was, but she ignored her better judgment and took it anyway! Day after day she went on the ‘drug escapade’ until pretty soon she was completely strung out! Mortified at what had become of her, Maggie’s family shipped her off to a rehab facility a couple of months later. And by the time she was released, her husband had left, her friends had abandoned her and her child was treating her like a total stranger.

Maggie was shaking when she looked up at me. “I stayed in rehab for three months! It was a nightmare, but at least I was getting better! Now that I’m out in the real world, it’s a constant struggle to stay strong! It’s so hard to stay away from that ‘high’ especially at times when you feel so ‘low’ ” She said.

 

“I love how you summed up the three types of adversities in life;

1-Staying steady in times of turbulence,

2-Staying away from sinful pleasures in times of weakness

3-Staying sane enough to see the light during our darkest times.

 

It’s not easy, Maggie! Whoever says otherwise is either lying or is not human! Think of drugs as all kinds of sinful desires people yearn for and you’ll see how every one of us is struggling too!” I said. “It starts with an instinctual alarm sound, like the one you disregarded when you took that first pill. At times of weakness, we go against our own belief systems because of a strong ‘pull’; be it forbidden pleasure or passion, peer pressure, loneliness, temptation… whatever the trap is, we’re drawn into it through either doubts or desires. The doubtful thoughts are hopefully cured with Islamic knowledge, but the desires, those need special training, like boot camp!” I smiled.

“What do you mean?” Maggie asked.

“Patience doesn’t just come naturally, Maggie; it needs practice and training!

For the three hardships in life we spoke about, we desperately need three shields:

  • Patience to stay on Allah’s path
  • Patience to restrain ourselves from sins
  • Patience during the hard times..

 

Lose one of those three guards and you’re a prime target for Satan to lead you astray! Without extensive training, you’re literally a sitting duck!” I joked.
“Where can I find this ‘Patience Boot Camp then’?” Maggie asked.
“It’s in your mind, body and soul. And your heart is the strict coach keeping everyone in line. The forth pillar of Islam is all the training we need. Every Ramadan we practice the three types of patience and win the battle against our weaknesses and desires! The fact that we can stop ourselves from ‘halal’ acts like eating and drinking, is enough proof we can surely restrain ourselves from doing ‘haram’. We’re a lot stronger than we think Maggie!” I said. “So no, once an addict is not always an addict! Allah is more Merciful and Kinder than to put us amidst temptations without the proper tools to fight them! Now, if you don’t want to change, no one can help you, but if you do want to change, nothing and no one can stop you! Don’t tag or label yourself. Allah forgives all our past sins in Ramadan so we can get a chance to start anew after 30 days of vigorous self-discipline and training.” I said.

 

“I remember now. Every time I would ask my nanny why she was always fasting, she would relate this hadith.” Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said.

“Fasting is a shield or protection from the fire and from committing sins.”(http://sunnah.com/bukhari/30/14)” Maggie reminisced. “I was a spoiled child and a trouble maker sometimes, but my nanny…. She never gave up on me! She loved and took care of me. Even after my dad kicked her out, she didn’t treat me differently! Perhaps you’re right, some people do master the art of patience…. Those are the people who change lives, for last year she had surely changed mine….”

 

“Eat something sweet heart! You look like a ghost!” Her nanny said. She served her a bowl of soup and stared lovingly at the daughter she never had.

Maggie had never stopped visiting, making sure she brought groceries and meds and anything else she thought her former nanny might need. She couldn’t imagine her life without this old woman who came to replace her late mother. She only babysat her on weekends, yet had given Maggie more care and softness than she’d ever known.

“When are you coming back?” Maggie asked. “The house is not the same without you! It’s like a morbid grave!”

“Aren’t you a bit too old to have a nanny?” The old woman joked.

“Don’t change the subject. I know exactly why you left, and I’ll never forgive my dad for what he has done to you! He’s horrible!”

“Manners Maggie! You must respect your parents no matter what they do!” Her nanny scolded.

“I’m sorry. I just feel so lonely now. My dad has been miserable lately, my son hates me, my husband is gone and my friends are scared of me! I wish I had a ‘person’ you know? Someone who can be there for me and lift me up when I’m down…Like a sister or something.” Maggie said sadly.

Her nanny was silent for a long time; her mind had obviously drifted far away. When the old woman finally woke up from her temporary haze, she took Maggie’s hand and headed to the door.

“I’m not going to watch you wither away! You need to get checked by a real doctor! You’ve lost so much weight you look like Popeye’s wife!” Her nanny said.

“God you’re old!” Maggie laughed.

 

The old woman took her to the clinic to see Dr. Miller, and then made a lame excuse for why she couldn’t accompany her inside, which was weird, given it was her nanny’s idea to come see this doctor in the first place.

 “What can I do for you today?” The young nurse asked after introducing herself and checking the filled-in medical chart.

“Oh I’m just here for a routine checkup with Dr. Miller” Maggie replied.

“Very well then! Let’s get started” The nurse nodded.

“Thank you Miss ummm… I’m sorry I didn’t get your name” Maggie said.

“It’s Hannah…”

 

 

To be continued…

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

Inside The Therapist’s Office: Episode One

Published on Productive Muslim
9th June, 2016

 

Office

Fidgeting with her fingers, it was obvious she was very agitated. And why wouldn’t she be?

Sitting here with a complete stranger talking about your worst fears, your sordid past and shattered dreams. It takes a toll on a person. We’re trained to run away from scary things, but today, this anxious woman was asked to face and stare at her fears while sipping herbal tea with her therapist.

“So you mentioned you stayed up all night ‘googling’ your symptoms. Did your research yield any results?” I asked.

“I kept waiting for the word ‘cancer’ to flash on the screen. I’m going crazy! I’ve seen twelve different doctors so far and they all insist I’m physically healthy and should seek therapy instead!” Hannah replied. “So here I am!”

“I suppose since your scans and labs came back clean, your doctors had to explore other options to find the source of your sickness. But now the question is, do you trust they all did their best to help you?”

“I don’t trust anyone!” Hannah crossed her arms and looked away. “I learnt my lesson the hard way, a very long time ago….”

 

He was her high school sweet heart and the love of her life. They got married as soon as they both graduated and after years of feeling like a stranger in this world, Hannah was finally happy, like she had finally found a safe home. Nothing mattered as long as they were together. With no financial support from neither of their families, they both worked hard to make ends meet. But as years went by, the stress burst their beautiful love bubble and left them dangerously exposed to the sharp edges of responsibilities and frustration, especially after her husband got laid off, and Hannah had to take extra shifts waitressing at a restaurant to pay off their debts.

“Can you at least acknowledge the fact that I’m speaking to you?” Hannah sighed during dinner.

“I’m hoping if I ignore you, you’d get the point and shut up!” Rasheed scoffed. “You make it sound like I’m the lazy idiot husband who’d rather stay at home and watch TV instead of find a job! I AM trying Hannah!”

“But it’s been eight months! I’m exhausted! I thought it was the man’s job to take care of his wife! You’re obviously following the footsteps of your father!” Hannah yelled.

The few words they exchanged turned into another huge fight, ending with Rasheed throwing his glass cup at the wall and storming out. Hannah sat motionless in the corner staring at the floor. That’s exactly how her dreams looked like now; shattered into a million pieces like this broken glass. It wasn’t until sunrise when Rasheed came back home that she finally realized; it wasn’t love that held them together anymore. It was fear. The tremendous fear of losing him and being all alone.

 

“Didn’t we have stew yesterday?” Rasheed asked still half asleep. That’s all he seemed to do lately; out all night and asleep all day.

“Yes! I’m sorry! But until you find a job we need to tighten our belts a bit and start saving!”

“Am I in the mood for your nagging shift? Ummm no!” Rasheed said sarcastically.

“We barely buy anything yet we run out of money by mid month! Where does it all go?” Hannah asked.

“I can’t do this anymore. I’m outta here!” Rasheed got up to change and leave.  

Walking away was what he did best. This wasn’t the man she fell in love with. He even looked different! He’d become depressed, irritable and scrappy, and she had been patient for way too long and now was the time for a serious talk! Enraged by his carelessness, after a couple of hours of him ignoring her calls, Hannah grabbed her purse and rushed outside to find her husband. But she took a fall down the stairs and ended up in the hospital instead.

 

“He didn’t know I was pregnant” Hannah cried softly, as I handed her another tissue. “I lost the baby and the doctors informed me my injuries affected my reproductive system and it would be impossible for me to have anymore children. A couple of months later, Rasheed left too. I lost everything! I suffered for a long time; I almost gave up on life completely. Until I got married again a few months ago, and I can’t help but think what will happen when if he leaves. I just don’t feel safe! There’s no one in my life I can truly trust and depend on! I don’t wanna die alone! I’m scared! All the time!”

“You’re right! Trust is life! Without it we’d go insane. But it’s not something we give regardless of the circumstances; it’s very pragmatic depending on the situation. You trusted your ex-husband to take care of you, but he let you down, since he wasn’t working. You trusted him with something he wasn’t capable of doing. Now that you’re married to someone else, perhaps you trust him to take care of you, but you don’t trust you can rely on him forever. You can trust a loved one with one thing but not the other. It doesn’t make you suspicious, or paranoid, it makes you SMART and proves you possess wisdom! I mean sure your current husband can run a whole company for example, but would you trust him to fly a plane or give you a new haircut?” I asked.

That’s when Hannah finally smiled.

“Trust is the secret to life, Hannah. Without it we would all feel paralyzed. If we didn’t trust the locks on our doors, we wouldn’t be able to sleep at night. If we didn’t trust our coworkers, we wouldn’t be able to work as a team. If we didn’t trust the legal system, we wouldn’t follow the rules. Without trust, there would be no productivity or security or even life on this Earth. We would live in constant and utter FEAR! Trust is the essence of any healthy relationship. But before giving it, we need to build it through knowledge! You need to find out if that person is capable, honest and reliable. Without this knowledge, trust is obsolete!”

 

“That’s true” Hannah nodded.
“Why do you trust your nose won’t go missing when you fall asleep? Or that the sun will come up every day! Or that the whole planet won’t run out of water and food! Who are you trusting to keep this whole life system intact?”

“Almighty Allah of course!” Hannah replied.

“But why do you trust Him?” I asked again.

“Because I know Him. I know He is the One who created everything and He is capable of managing His creations!” Hannah said.

 

“But what if I told you that I set the alarm really early and I’m the one who commands the sun to come up every morning?” I smirked.

“Astaghfar Allah! That’s impossible!” Hannah frowned.

“Exactly! As Muslims, we all have an intact belief system based on knowledge of our Creator. The more we learn about His limitless capabilities the more we trust Him! This is why the ‘shahada’ is the first pillar of Islam, and it’s based on complete trust in Allah. The ‘shahada’ is the solid belief system we need to wash away all our negative feelings! It’s the antidote to fear, sadness and worry. But now you’ve created another belief system that you’ll die alone because the people you depend on to take care of you can’t be trusted to outlive you. And you know why they can’t be trusted? Because they’re human! They aren’t capable or reliable to be around forever! And that’s why your new belief system scares you! Your life is like the plane your husband is in charge of. You’re depending on him, even though he’s not a trained pilot! Of course your terrified ALL the time!” I explained. “Isn’t it time to depend on the One capable of managing your life, Hannah? Isn’t it time to submit to Him alone?”

 

Hannah’s tears flowed down again, but this time her tears washed away the doubts and made her see the bigger picture she was blinded to. Belief systems are what keep us grounded, and yet when built on falsehood they can take us to the darkest places. Creating a belief system based on assumptions or desires or fears is no different from creating a stone idol and worshipping it besides Allah, True and genuine faith cannot be half way. It cannot be shared or conditioned; because it’s the solid ground we need to stand on before we start the journey to Paradise.

 

“You’re not alone, Hannah. Allah is with you. Every time He takes something you want from you, He will replace it with something you need!” I said.

“That’s true… When Rasheed left, Allah sent me a friend to soothe me, and her child is like my own. I don’t know what I would have done without them!” Hannah whispered. “I’m finally able to give the love I never got from my own parents!”

“That’s the first time you mention them” I said carefully. “I can tell it’s a subject you try to avoid. Are you angry at your parents, Hannah?”

“My dad died years ago. And my mom is also dead…. Or at least to me she is….”

 

 

To be continued

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

ATTACK: “KILL Them Where You FIND Them!”

Published on Muslim Words
September 30th, 2015

GUN

ATTACK: “Kill Them Where You Find Them”

“I don’t get this weird video game! I mean is it really necessary to shoot the zombies? That’s not very nice, you know!”
“Mom! If you don’t shoot them, they’ll eat your brains out!”

So yeah, let’s pretend we have two groups here:

The Zombies:

 They wear black shirts
They carve rocks in the shape of dolls and force people to worship them.
They make A LOT of money from selling those make believe doll gods
They think the concepts of ‘equality’ and ‘peace’ are ridiculous
They’re powerful, aggressive, violent and very stubborn

The Peace Makers:

   They wear white shirts
They’re sick and tired of being bossed around by the biased zombies
They worship an unseen God and follow His messengers and book
They call for equality, charity, compassion and forgiveness

So when the zombies found out about the Peace Makers’ new beliefs, they fought them left and right. They tortured them, killed them, starved them, abused them, seized their assets and tried to assassinate their messenger many times, until the Peace Makers finally decided to escape the city after ten years of patient suffering. Once they spread out their call in neighboring cities, more and more people joined and the Peace Makers finally established a considerable existence.. Ten years later, 100,000 Peace Makers marched back into the city, conquering it completely yet without shedding a drop of blood. Of course the zombies ran to hide like wusses! Now you’d think the messenger, Prophet Muhammad, coming back as a victorious king, would want to punish them and have his revenge! I mean he’s human after all! They tried to kill him. They starved him and his followers for three years till his beloved wife and dear uncle died! They threw garbage at him and called him a lunatic. They asked him to split the moon in half to prove he was a Prophet of God, and when he did, they called him a magician! They killed his uncle Hamza and a woman mutilated his corpse and ate his liver (gross!). No Prophet had ever been hurt, insulted, abused and pained as much as Muhammad was by his own tribe. But when he gained immense power the Prophet, peace be upon him, simply asked his former persecutors a question…

“What do you think I’m going to do to you now?”
“You are a generous brother and the son of a generous brother!” They replied (Suck ups!)
“I will tell you what Joseph told his brothers” Prophet Muhammad said, “There is no blame on you today. You’re all free to go!”

Wait. What?!
No punishment at all? Oh my God! One time I forgot to do my homework in school and I was punished for two whole weeks! Homework not cold-blooded murder! This is so unfair!

But then again, this is why he’s the ‘beloved’, because he was forgiving, caring and merciful. Oh how we love you Prophet Of God….

The Peace Makers and disbelieving zombies coexisted peacefully in the city of Mecca for a whole YEAR before the Qur’an came down with a new command of clearing the city out of the polytheists, after more than ten years of ordering Muslims to stay patient and refrain from war. So this is when the Muslims killed all the disbelievers, right?

No… Allah gave the zombies four months to enjoy themselves, think about their options, pack their bags and the handmade dolls they worship, throw farewell parties and move to another place if they wanted to. The warning was announced publicly and the punishment for their evil deeds was paused for FOUR whole months!

“And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful” (9:5, Holy Qur’an)

Did the revelation stop there? No sire, it did not… Here’s the next verse…

“And if any one of the polytheists seeks your protection, then grant him protection so that he may hear the words of Allah. Then deliver him to his place of safety. That is because they are a people who do not know” (9:6 Holy Qur’an)

So even after the grace period is over, if one of the zombies stays behind and cries for help, then it is the Muslims’ obligation to grant him or her protection, which clearly means that the ‘killing’ must be a form of self-defense and not of those who have no idea what is going on! But you know, when people use the above verse to attack Islam, it slips their mind to mention that part. Are we allowed to do that? Translate the verses the way we want without researching the reasons behind the revelation? Coz if context doesn’t matter then why stop there? Here are some incomplete and out of context verses that give a totally different meaning…

“O you who believe! Do not go near prayer….” (Qur’an 4:43)
And give tidings to those who disbelieve…” (Qur’an 9:3)
“So turn in repentance to your Creator and kill yourselves…” (Qur’an 2:54)

Can we now argue that the Qur’an commands Muslims not to pray, and that they should instead congratulate the disbelievers and then go commit suicide?! Do you see why ignorance is dangerous and toxic? Now you know why Muslims must educate themselves about their own religion?

If you read and analyze chapter nine of the Holy Qur’an you’ll see The “Kill them where you find them” verse only applies to the polytheists in Mecca at that time ‘on the day of the greater pilgrimage’, who attacked the Muslims first, expelled the prophet, refused the peace treaty, refused all options and insisted on transgressing. Those are the people this verse refers to! And thank God they’ve become extinct…. Mecca is solely for Muslims now, so the only zombies we are allowed to kill today are those in ‘Call Of Duty: Black Ops III’ for Play Station 4!

Islam is so beyond misunderstood! Our religion teaches us that ‘guiding one non-Muslim to Islam peacefully is better than owning the whole world and what’s in it! It’s the gateway to Paradise’. So what? We’re supposed to kill them and guide them at the same time? It doesn’t make sense! (I’m actually laughing out loud at this point!)

Well, I went to Mecca for Hajj this year, and as I stared at the millions of white-dressed Peace Makers I was suddenly grateful for the above verses. I’m grateful Muslims have a safe place to unite them, poor, rich, black, white… we all worship the Lord at His house, unthreatened by the zombies. I’m grateful the Ka’bah did not end up like the Aqsa mosque, under attack every three minutes! I’m grateful for the love and submission to the Great Merciful Lord….
Seeing the confusion, doubts, hatred, racism and atheism dragging many people down into the darkest pit of misery, I prostrate to Allah, grateful for the precious gift of guidance…
But I guess not everyone is as lucky as you and me…

If only people understood the true essence of Islam… they’d fall head over heels in love with it and find peace….

Beautiful, consuming and heartwarming peace….
Lilly S. Mohsen

It’s Not The Places…. It’s The Beloved

Published On OnIslam
19th September, 2015
Lilly Live From Hajj, Day Two Diary

“What’s happening?”
“They’ve opened the door! RUNNNNNNN”

You see, Prophet Muhammad’s original mosque with attached house is actually a relatively small area (about 20×15 meters) located inside today’s huge Holy mosque in Madina. Women get a chance to visit the sequestered area three times a day, for about two hours each time. You’ll find the Muslim women gathered by the partition, way before visitation hours, stretching and jogging in place, while the area is being cleared out of the men (as it should be! They get 18 hours a day!)

Anyways, when the door opens, women charge like a stampede. (I wish I was exaggerating but I’m not LOL) and so I grab Aya, my sister in law and run like the wind, unbothered by the pushing and shoving of some very sturdy women Masha’Allah. Nothing matters when you race with your heart to meet the beloved….

This is his house… Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is buried here next to his two best friends, Abu Bakr Al Siddique and Omar Ibn Al Khattab. And on your right, is his mosque. You’re probably wondering why all the carpets are red except for this one, it’s green. Well it’s because it’s literally a meadow and a little piece of heaven.

Narrated by Abu Hurrairah, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “The space between my house and my pulpit is a garden from the gardens of Paradise”

He also said that one rak’ah of prayer in his mosque is worth ten thousand rak’ahs. Okay, now that I think of it, this was well worth getting jammed and elbowed for!

After greeting the prophet and his friends and miraculously praying on the green carpet, something very unusual happens. An invisible magnetic force drowns out the noises and pulls you in. You stand by the Prophet’s chamber…
Frozen…
Speechless…
Overwhelmed….
That’s the moment you realize…
Muhammad was here….and somehow time ceases to exist.

The beloved lived…here…. He sat right there with his grandchildren propped on his lap before Friday prayer. He walked here with Abu Bakr and Omar and Hamza… This is where Islam emerged from. He stood in the exact same spot you’re standing in now, smiling and welcoming people. He leaned on this palm tree and slept inside this room…

Muhammad… The Last Prophet… The final connection between the heavens and earth. He was here… Saying “Soothe our hearts with it” and listened to Bilal’s beautiful voice recite the call for prayer. Allah’s beloved messenger… The one who stayed up all night praying for his Ummah till his feet were swollen. The one man who carried the burden mountains refused to carry, and brought to the whole world their true and ultimate salvation…

Muhammad is here…

It suddenly dawned on me while I stood there motionless, with tears streaming down my face, why I love him so much even though I never met him. I realize his love is engraved deep within our hearts…. His love is innate… It’s already inside each and every one of us, we just didn’t know it… Until today…

Look around you… See the look on people’s faces… It says it all. They’re mesmerized by the thought of standing by his house, 1400 later! They’d give up everything just to visit his mosque once in their lifetime! Listen to their words… They talk to him as if he’s right there. They tell him about their lives and troubles and how all their families back home send their greetings.

“We miss you Prophet of God”
These are the words you hear in this place every single day. Said by millions of every age, race and color… They miss him even though they never met him… And that’s the truest, most genuine love of all…

Visiting the Prophet’s mosque is not an obligation of Hajj, and yet look, there’s hardly an empty spot to pray in. I finally understand why Shiekh Hamza Yusuf got so emotional in one of his lectures about Prophet Muhammad…

He explained how when you love someone so intensely, you find yourself loving everything they love. And when you miss them, you’ll close your eyes and touch the things they once touched, and kiss the stones and walls of the homes they once lived in… But it’s not the things or the walls or the stones that make your heart melt and your soul shiver…

“It’s not the places… It’s the beloved… He was here….”

Peace be upon you my beloved Prophet. Everyone reading this is sending you their love from all parts of the world. May you smile and welcome them in Paradise… And invite them to your palace. I have a feeling the carpets are emerald green there too…

We miss you Muhammad… More than words can ever say…
Until we meet my love….

Your Hajj Representative
MakamLilly S. Mohsen

Published On Productive Muslim
22nd August, 2015
This is the original version

Please Stop Pretending And Just Face It!
There’s Nothing ‘Special’ About Special Needs!

Me and Sino

Trouble lurked on the horizon….

Not only was the cute little girl crying at the top of her lungs; she was wearing a RED T-shirt! Those were all the triggers my son needed to attack her….
And even though I’m known to have the memory of a gold fish, and this one incident happened many years ago, I still remember it vividly…

It was supposed to be a beautiful day. We were at the playground and I had that extra sense of triumph of having everything under control. No sandboxes in sight. Check. My baby girl’s milk bottle was tinted because my son can’t stand looking at milk or any other white liquid. Check. We were sitting in the sun as far away as possible from babies and loud families. Check. My son was wearing Velcro shoes, all-cotton clothing with tags all cut out and he never had any sugar, fruits or ketchup, so according to my calculations, the chances of him acting up were pretty low that day.

I was miserably wrong…

Even though it was a split second, it all happened in slow motion.

I was holding my son’s hand and carrying my baby girl in the other arm. The sounds of the cries echoed in my ears and I saw the look on my son’s face change. I quickly put my baby in her stroller as I felt his jaws clench and his little hand squirming away from my tight grip. He ran like a tiger towards the innocent cute girl and I knocked over a chair trying to catch up with him. I finally grabbed him from his shirt before he reached the girl, whom at this point had stopped crying from the shock of what was about to happen, yet still had forgotten her mouth and eyes wide open. Her mom started screaming which aggravated my son even more as he took out his anger on me. He slapped me hard on the face, swearing all kinds of obscenities then kicked me in the stomach. Amidst the chaos I motioned to the mom to take her girl and walk away, hardly missing the dirty look she gave me.

“Some women are just not allowed to be mothers!” I heard her tell her friends who also turned around to stare me down.

I bolted my son with my arms only to find another woman tapping me on the back and handing me my screaming daughter.
“You really shouldn’t leave your baby unattended” She said with disgust. “It’s not her fault you can’t control your son!”

I thanked her with an inaudible whisper before deciding to never return to the playground again. My tears rolled down all the way home, not even feeling the pain of my son’s teeth digging into my skin. Biting at that time was one of the few skills he used to calm himself down.

I mustered all my energy to get through the tantrums and breaking of stuff, guarding my daughter’s life from my son’s sudden unexpected blows till bedtime. Then I sat alone in the corner, just staring at the wall in utter silence, too drained to cry….

After all, it was supposed to be a beautiful day….

Today I come undone…

I’m not a writer or a psychologist or the ‘happy girl’ most people know me as. Today I’m just a defeated mother who is tired of pretending she’s strong enough to handle this challenge. Today I only want to sit with moms like me, who are tired of listening to people say “God gave you a ‘special’ child because you’re a special mom”, or “You’re blessed with a rare gift”. I want to hug the moms holding back their tears and screams as they watch their disabled children struggle through life, rejected, ridiculed and shunned by a society they can’t possibly fit in. I want to pause this roller coaster of emotions everyone thinks we are gifted and lucky to be on. Today I stand on solid ground holding hands with my own kind, and I ask with all honesty…
How does a mother of a normal child feel when she hears he’s being bullied at school? How would you feel if your child is never invited to birthday parties or family gatherings? If your friends are scared of your little son or daughter? If doctors tell you your child will never be able to go to college or work or drive or get married? We all know it’s in Allah’s hands in the end, but how would you feel hearing it…?

Perhaps people think raising a child with special needs is a gift… But how can a gift give you so much pain? How can a blessing break your heart…?

Denial Drags Us Down

With a wide spectrum of disorders ranging from ADHD to Autism and Down Syndrome, every child is different and no ‘one solid advice’ will cut it. Medications have catastrophic side effects and some disorders have no known cures yet. I remember after two weeks of constant testing, how uncomfortable the neurosurgeon was when he said, “You need to come to terms with your son’s reality. Sugarcoating the truth will only set you up for a huge disappointment. Therapy can help him cope but no one can heal him completely.”

“God can heal my son. Miracles happen every day!” I replied with conviction.

And so I held on to my faith. I still put him in mainstream schools, got him shadow teachers and demanded he gets the academic education he deserved. Denial was the only tool I had at my disposal until the powers of it ran out. I prayed for miracles but nothing changed. I stayed up night after night asking Allah for help, my tears flowing non-stop as I begged and pleaded and supplicated for a solution….

“Mommy, what are you doing?” My son asked one day.
“I’m talking to Allah, asking Him for help with something.” I said, wiping my tears.
“I want to talk to Allah, too” My son said. “I want to ask Him not to make you sad anymore.”

“Allah loves us so much and He is so Kind! Do you really think He would want to make anyone sad?” I asked.

Hearing myself say those words, hypocrisy stared back at me with a smirk. If I was so sure of Allah’s love, which I am, then why was I sitting here feeling sorry for myself like I’m being punished for something I didn’t do? Why was I trying to convince Allah that I have unwavering faith and then break down when He tests it?

“I will tell Him I don’t want a sad mom!” My son interrupted my thoughts. “Give me Allah’s phone number!”

My son’s innocence replaced my bitterness with laughter. That day I stopped waiting for a miracle, for I realized that you can’t hope to swim without getting wet, you can’t pass an exam without studying, and you can’t jump high without bending your knees. I realized we need genuine faith for miracles to happen and so I stopped begging Allah not to test me, because big rewards require huge efforts. And I’m truly desperate for the biggest reward of all… seeing Allah’s face in Heaven….

It’s Not What You See It’s How You See It

I wish I had a magic wand or a specific piece of advice to help every parent reading this article, but each case is just as unique as each of our children’s needs, and it takes a lot of trial and error to figure out a productive pattern that works. I do have something else to give though, and once you allow yourself to see it with your heart, you’ll realize it surely does put your mind to rest…

“So verily, with the hardship, there is relief. Verily, with the hardship, there is relief…” (94:5-6, Holy Qur’an)

God Almighty never said we won’t face difficulties in this life, but He promised He will put ease in every hardship. Not before or after hardship, but along side of it. For every negative there must be a positive to balance it out, otherwise we would have collapsed a long time ago. It’s not the problem that’s affecting us, it’s how we deal with the problem that’s making it that much harder. It’s us being too drained to search for the comfort within the suffering that’s making us sad and broken. Us not seeing Allah’s blessing doesn’t mean it’s not there.

So allow me to share my personal endurance guide, complied after over ten years of downfalls and endless drama….

The Seven Rules Of Survival:

  • Ask God to help you through this.
    Ceaselessly. Consistently.
    Pleading while making sincere du’aa works!
  • Stop resisting and start accepting. Your life has changed so don’t go against the current. When necessary, adjust your schedule, outings and behavior according to your child’s special needs. If your child is aggressive, you’ll have to think of other kids’ safety and keep him or her away. Special needs schools are your best option. Trained professionals will guide you on how to create a new, easier lifestyle.
  • Put your ego on the side. Apologize and explain your child’s condition to strangers when things get rough. I found that people become very sweet and helpful once they understand the situation.
  • For God’s sake take a break before you break down. Spoil yourself every now and then with a spa, alone time, or some fun with your friends. Find a trusted someone to take care of your child even if it’s for a couple of hours once a week. Your child will be okay don’t worry. Well-rested parents make better parents.
  • Join support groups, look up nearby facilities that provide activities for special needed kids, and share tips with other parents who are going through the same struggle. It’s soothing to realize you’re not alone in this. I personally met wonderful families through organizations like ‘Unique’ (rarechromo.org) and Autism Speaks (www.autismspeeks.org)
  • Don’t forget your other children! You’re not the only one carrying this load; your special child’s siblings are carrying it too. Let them voice out their feelings and get the emotional support they need before asking them to help out or cooperate.
  • I firmly believe that every child, with special needs or not, has a unique talent gifted by The Great Lord. Find that genius flair and pursue it to the fullest. (Now that’s just me, but I believe my son is super talented in soccer he is destined to be the next Messi inshAllah). Maybe some of our kids don’t have the mental capacity to believe in themselves, but us parents have enough faith and will to believe in them…

Truth Is Very Different From Reality:

I remind myself before anyone else to zoom out and see the bigger picture. All this agonizing sorrow is perhaps a darker shade within a colorful portrait. The test is only a means to achieve a goal we chose. We can either resist the harsh reality or accept the blessed truth behind it. We can complain and scream “Why Me?”, wasting precious productive years of our lives, or we can accept that life in this world was never meant to be perfect and realize it’s only those with great stamina and perseverance that can reach the top, and finally enjoy that breathtaking view…

A man once asked Prophet Muhammad (PBUH): “Which of the people is tried most severely?” He said: “The Prophets, then those nearest to them, then those nearest to them. A man is tried according to his religion; if he is firm in his religion, then his trials are more severe, and if he is frail in his religion, then he is tried according to the strength of his religion. The servant shall continue to be tried until he is left walking upon the earth without any sins.” (Jami` at-Tirmidhi 2398)

Loud and clear my beloved Prophet… Loud and clear…

“Okay fine!” I suddenly giggle like a little child. “Perhaps we are special after all…”

Lilly S. Mohsen