Tag Archives: children

What Your Mom Never Told You

 

 

Mom day

Her face glowed with excitement as she handed me a very colorful (and may I add very tacky) invitation card.
“My friend is having a party this weekend! Can I please go?” My daughter asked, her heart beating so loud with anticipation I literally felt the walls crack.
“No” I answered calmly, my eyes still on my book.
“OMG why? It’s like THE party of the year! Mommy please!”
“I said no”
“This is so unfair!” My daughter ran to her room, trailing gigantic tear drops on the floor. “I’m never allowed to do anything I want.” She mumbled before locking herself to write about her miserable, prison-like life in her pink diary.

I sighed and closed my eyes… and the memories sneered back at me with a mean smile.

This is the part where an image of me today is distorted in a wave-like motion with twinkling background music and the title reads:

 

Twenty Years Ago…

 

“Mommy can I please go to my friend’s house this weekend?” I pouted (And I had mastered the puppy dog face at that time if you’d like to know!)
“No” My mom said calmly, still reading the newspaper.

“Everything is ‘no’! This is so unfair!” I cried as I ran to my room, trailing tears on the floor before taking my anger out in writing.

 

Dear Mrs. Diary…
Another horrible day in this prison my parents call ‘home’! Being a teenager sucks! I can’t wait to grow up and have a daughter of my own and believe you me, I will never raise her the way I was raised. I’ll be a fun, hip mom (like TOTALLY!) I’ll let her do everything and anything she wants! The rule in my house will be ‘there are NO rules!’. She’ll go out with her friends and have no curfews coz HELLO! I’ll trust her! We’ll stay up all night gossiping and eating chocolates and I’ll make sure her life is one amazing adventure! I’ll never badger her about grades. I’ll buy her everything she asks for and let her watch cartoons till her eyes fall out! I mean it Mrs. Diary so mark my words!
And then years later something happened to me. I became a mom…

 

Listening to my daughter cry in her room today made my heart bleed. But I know even if I explain till I’m blue in the face how I’m protecting her from bad influence, she will never understand. When I was her age I didn’t get it either. I guess by the time you realize your mother was right you have a daughter who thinks you’re wrong.

 

Oh mom, why didn’t you ever tell me…?
You never looked up from your newspaper coz you didn’t wanna see the hurt in my eyes. It wasn’t because you didn’t care…

You took the role of the ‘bad guy’, putting rules and making sure I’m disciplined because you were preparing me for the real world. It wasn’t because you enjoyed having all this power. In fact, it was heart-aching and tiring and the easiest choice would have been to say ‘yes’ to everything and hope for the best.

 

I wish you had told me how you stared at me while I slept, and how you begged God to give you my pain instead when I was sick. I wish you had told me how you masked your worry with an angry look when I was late, and secretly locked yourself up to cry when I was sad. All these strict rules make sense now. I wouldn’t have become the person I am today if you had let me do what I wanted to do back then. I just wish you had told me that you wanted nothing more in life than to enjoy me, but you put your needs aside and endured my resentment, because you had a bigger purpose; to raise me right as a proud, ethical and responsible Muslim who will keep your legend alive. I see so many men and women struggling nowadays and blaming their parents for their failures. I see confused grown-ups unable to differentiate between right and wrong, lost amidst vague principles and zero ethics. It scares me, but it also makes me fall in love with you even more, thanking God He picked you to be my mother, even though I didn’t deserve such a blessing….

 

Oh mom… Every time my daughter feels like a victim when I’m being too stern I just wanna run to you, go down to my knees, kiss your feet and cry ‘Mommy please forgive me”. This is so beyond hard! And with all the non-believers, peer pressure, social Apps, perverted Internet and shameless TV content that poison the youth’s minds, it’s even much more brutally challenging! I’m raising a beautiful unique gem who will one day make a difference in this world (inshAllah) and I will not allow the media, the spoiled ‘diva’ group of friends, the fear of being resented or even chocolates ruin that for me. I just WON’T!

 

To all the sons and daughters reading this, you’ll never know how it feels to have a part of your heart walk around in the form of a human, whom you’ll love unconditionally with every cell in your body. You’ll never understand it until you become a parent. Cherish your moms while you still can before time steals her away and you’re left with a void that no human on Earth can ever fill. Your mom is the only person in the universe who will love you no matter what you do and where you go. She’s the ‘safe home’ even when she seems hard on you, there’s nowhere to run but back to her warm embrace.

 

And for those who have said goodbye to their mommies, I will not pretend I understand your pain… but I do know that out of all people we Muslims know this: Just because you can’t see her doesn’t mean she’s not there watching over you…

Cheering you on and praying for you to stay on the right path….
It’s time we let our gratefulness to those great women in our lives bloom beyond their imagination. It’s time we drape our moms with love and prayers, and let them see how it was all worth it. For what your mom never told you is that she never really wanted anything in return… Just for you to be safe and happy… and given the chance she’d do it all over again in a heartbeat…

Happy Mothers’ Day to our guardian angels… May we never let you down, and may your whispered prayers never come from sadness or loneliness, but from joy, love and a lifetime of being magnificently proud of us…

I love you Mommy…

 

Lilly 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

The Amazing Race Of Ramadan: Episode Three

Published On OnIslam.net
On July 7th, 2015
This is the original version

MAGNET

The Amazing Race Of Ramadan
Episode Three: The Magnet

I know you guys are busy sprinting to win and have no time to stop. We’re almost done with the ultimate race and some of you must be both drained and anxious. So let’s jog and talk people. Jog and talk.
And now here’s a vivid image of me running backwards to face the contestants all serious and involved then I fall flat on my back. Ouch. (Hey! Don’t laugh.)

The People You Meet Are Your Key

At any point in time, you’ll find two kinds of good people:
Those with tribulations seeking help, and those in good situations willing to offer help.
Those who are eager to teach and those who are willing to learn.
Rich and poor, sick and healthy, clueless and knowledgeable….The list goes on.

It’s like a magnet really. God puts people on your path for a reason. We are all somehow attracted to our designated roles in other people’s lives, whether by giving or taking. And it’s through the love in our hearts that we help with passion.. Fasting, praying and reading Qur’an are all keys to genuine faith, but what’s more than that is having good manners, spreading peace and kindness and wishing others well. Without that kind of true love, giving would make us arrogant and taking would make us feel humiliated Think about it for a second while I search for a relevant Hadith….

The Messenger of Allah () said, “By Him in Whose Hand is my life! You will not enter Jannah until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another….” (Sahih Darussalam Vol. 1, Book 1, Hadith 68)

It’s those people who love each other for the sake of Allah who will stand in His shade on the Day of Judgment, will have the gates of Heaven opened for them and will be envied by Prophets and martyrs! (Al-Tirmidhi, Book One, Hadith 381) And what better than the Holy month to intensify our chances, when Satan and the rest of the ugly, ‘hate-inducing’ devils are tied up like silly idiots!

So without further ado, let’s demonstrate how to win people over and spread the love this Ramadan….

The Five Rules Of Attraction:

1- Greetings, Names and Smiles (GNS)

The rest of the above Hadith says it all…
“….. Shall I inform you of something which, if you do, you will love one another? Spread the greetings of peace amongst yourselves.”
Personalized, polite and cheerful approaches make people feel acknowledged. From garbage cleaner to king, treat them equally, remember their names and say the ‘salam’ first with a genuine smile. You’ll win over thousands of hearts.

2- Expect The Un-Expected (Which is Nothing)

“We live in a world where kindness is misconstrued as flirting”. I remember reading that somewhere and thinking ‘that is SO TRUE!’. We find it hard to believe people can be nice for no reason. But that’s exactly the point of love for the sake of God: asking for nothing back except for Allah’s pleasure. So when we find those rare gems who do good and expect zero from us in return, we hold on to them for dear life. Be one of those this month and you’ll be surprised with all the blessings God will shower you with. Trust me.

3- Make Room For Us
We love our personal space, but we’ll never forget those who make room for us, be it in the mosque, on a bus or in their hearts. Make people feel welcomed and follow the words of the beloved when he said, ‘The best assemblies are those in which people make room for one another’. (Abu Dawud, Book 5, Hadith 18)

So come on, be nice and quit hogging and shoving. We all wanna pray Taraweeh too you know!

4- Gifts With Love

Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said, “Give gifts and you will love one another.” (Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 594)

Like Oh my God just listing these rules I’m completely baffled by this religion I swear! Everything psychologists teach nowadays about influencing people and the laws of attraction was all already revealed 1400 years ago! Duh, why do non-Muslim professors pretend they’ve made a scientific discovery?

So remember to give little gifts to people for no reason. It makes them feel loved, appreciated and they’ll always be looking forward to reciprocate with another kind gesture.

By the way, I like chocolates, purple Lilies, and nice comments. Thanks! LOL

5- Return Negative With A Positive

Now that’s a tough one, sheeeeesh!

Imagine someone hurts you really bad and instead of slapping them back (on the face with a chair!) you understand, forgive and give them a warm hug instead. We say pain changes people and makes them bitter and shielded, but it doesn’t. Response and reaction are two very different things. A moment of anger can swerve you into a dark place, but responding with mercy and compassion will only put you on a pedestal and turn your enemies into lifelong friends!

Check this out….

“….Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend. (Holy Qur’an, 41:34)

My sister-in-law was talking to me the other day about how there’s no tolerance in our society anymore. The trending posts are now “If you wanna walk out of my life I’ll hold open the door!” or “Haters make me famous!”

Seriously what’s up with that?
You know what would make you famous?
Being a role model.
Being great and amazing, that everyone around you would dream of becoming like you.
Having a solid identity as a representative of our peaceful Islam that you make people fall in love with it. That’s your job. It takes commitment, humility and putting your ego on the side to reach that level of supremacy.

Treating people the way you want to be treated is the ultimate law of attraction. Let your magnetism shine brighter and spread the love we’re aching for….

Become a magnet today!
(That sounded like a cheesy commercial didn’t it? LOL)

Okay don’t give up on me yet! The final episode will knock your socks off I promise! (InshAllah)

See you at the finish line…. Stay tuned.

Lilly S. Mohsen

Lilly S. Mohsen is the author of the “Prophets To Islam” series for kids. She is a Psychologist who works as a part-time therapist besides being a spiritual speaker and a contributing writer to a number of renowned Islamic and educational websites. For more about Lilly, please check her new blog: lillymohsen.wordpress.com or follow her on Twitter @Lillymohsen.

The Amazing Race Of Ramadan: Episode Two

Published on OnIslam.net
On July 2nd, 2015
This is the original version

Episode Two: Joy Is A Six Letter Word

Family

The race has commenced and the clock is ticking.
Tick Tock Tick Tock
We are super excited as the camera zooms in on a random house:

Dad is glued to Twitter
Mom is glued to Facebook
Son is glued to Play Station
Daughter is glued to Instagram

My eyes dart back and forth and I quickly cover the camera lens with my hand.
“Psssstttttt guys! The angels are waiting to record your good deeds, and frankly I think they’re getting a little bored! Come on people, look alive!”

Looks like times have changed. The most we think of family members now is a bunch of people who share our DNA and last name. Most of us live in the same house yet are worlds apart, too occupied with focusing on how, our mentalities are growing in different directions, but forgetting that always and forever, like a beautiful tree, our roots will remain one.

Home is not just a place to eat and sleep guys… Home is a feeling…
Come here and hold your parents’ and siblings’ hands. Together we’ll start a new beginning this Ramadan.

Lost In A Safe Haven? Take The Vertical Road.

I don’t live on Jupiter! I know kids can drive you up the walls, siblings can be annoying and parents are ancient beings who don’t understand that the word ‘sick’ can also mean ‘cool’. But when your friends become more important than your own family then I think we have a problem here. And it’s not fair either, coz we save the ‘sparkle’ for the outer world and dim out the minute we get back home. Our family deserves some of our attention and time and the Holy month is the perfect opportunity to get back in ‘sync’. The best way to start is to pray together. Go to the mosque and learn the Qur’an and Hadiths with your parents, siblings and kids to re-create that special bond again. If you feel like you don’t belong in the safe haven of your home, start by taking the vertical road and worship Allah together as a family.
(Okay I was expecting a little applause here for the brilliant metaphor but whatever LOL)

Frame the Circle Of Trust with Kindness

Anyone you know can become a stranger overnight except for your family members, they’re stuck on you. Your parents will always be your parents. There are no ‘coupons’ to exchange siblings and kids. They’re your ‘Circle of Trust’ coz they’re constant, and deep inside they always want the best for you. So doesn’t it make sense to put the most effort in those ‘for-life’ relationships?

Deposit some ‘positive’ credit in the family bank account. I know life pulls us in all directions like work, school, friends, and obligations, and each pull requires time and effort. But Ramadan is the month of kindness, mercy and forgiveness. Let’s start at home people.

Dads: We know you work hard to provide financial security to the kids. But without taking the time to instill those Islamic ethics and principles, they’ll misuse that money you’re so busy saving. Be a lenient teacher and a loving friend to your kids this Ramadan. And yes, the cliché is truer than ever, the best thing you can do for your children is to love and respect their mom.

Moms: Over here! Hi! This is just a friendly reminder: Your smile makes the world shine bright. So be the cheerful sun in the morning and the serene comforting moon at night. Your kids need to hear that you love them, regardless of their whining and bad grades. Use the Holy month for fun charitable projects and Islamic bedtime stories. We know you need your private worship time, but your kids need your wisdom and love even more. So turn their electronic devices off and switch on the light of faith in their hearts. Use that time to reconnect with your husband and children before Satan is out on the loose again!

Teenage Boys: Seriously guys. I know you think it’s your birthright to be rebellious at this age but for the love of God have some mercy on your parents this month. Remind them why they dreamed of having you by being perfect these 30 days. Help out with the chores (yes including taking out the garbage and babysitting while you’re fasting. Life is unfair that way LOL). Once you gain your parents’ ‘Reda’, everything else will fall in place.

Teenage Girls: You probably think it’s your birthright to be dramatic too. Ummm not this month! So quit rolling your eyes and pretending you didn’t hear your mom calling. Instead, offer a helping hand with a smile. Us moms were 99% sure we were carrying royal princesses in our tummies, so be one this Ramadan. (I’m actually on my knees begging at this point).

And now is the time I remind all Muslims (including myself) of how to cherish their parents, whether you’re 6 or 60 it doesn’t really matter….

“And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word. And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy and say, “My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up [when I was] small.” (Holy Qur’an 17:23-24)

The Family Tree: Make Amends With Your Branches.

My son is a soccer fanatic so I happen to know a lot about sports. When you’re one of the players, you don’t complain to the press about the club’s drawbacks; instead you shield them and take one for the team when necessary. Family is the most important group you’ll ever be part of, they’re your roots. But you can’t expect a tree to grow if you don’t water it. Sit by your parents’ feet and kiss their hands every chance you get. Open your homes and hearts for your siblings and relatives. Help the needy and visit the sick ones. Love your family and forgive their mistakes this Ramadan. Please!

“Why is she talking about relationships in the month of Qur’an and spirituality? Did ‘On Islam’ even approve this article for publishing?”

Hey I heard that! Okay I didn’t want to do this but you guys leave me no choice.

Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) said, “Kinship (Rahim) is derived from Allah. If anyone maintains ties of kinship Allah maintains ties with him. If anyone cuts them off, Allah cuts him off.” (Sahih. Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 55)

You wanna win the Race to the highest levels of Paradise, don’t you?

So pick up that phone and make amends with your loved ones today. Call your estranged aunt or your ‘banned’ uncle and tell them whatever happened to drift you guys apart is water under the bridge now. Support your family and mend the cut ropes for Allah’s sake this Ramadan. And then come back and tell us how peaceful and enriched your life has become….

Because Joy is a six-letter word: ‘FAMILY’
May Allah make your homes mini-heavens on Earth….
Please send my Salam to all your loved ones….

Lilly S. Mohsen

Look out for ‘The Magnet’ Episode Three from the ‘Amazing Race’
Coming to a website near you this Ramadan.
Stay tuned….

Are You A Pushover? (Why Small Equals To HUGE!)

Published On Productive Muslim
June 30th, 2015
This is the original version

Are You A Pushover?
Why Small Equals To HUGE

Pushover

“You’ve become a doormat Lilly! You let people walk all over you, drain you and use you! And because you have the memory of a tiny gold fish, you never know when enough is really ENOUGH! Think of yourself and stop being such a pushover!”

Oops I’m sorry you had to hear that. Don’t mind my friend, she’s been a little cranky lately. Believe me that kind of anger usually stems from an insane amount of pain. Sometimes when people repeatedly get hurt by their loved ones, they end up shielding their hearts, terrified of getting hurt again, and refuse to submit to their compassionate natures. Slowly they become numb. They convince themselves that ‘strength’ is synonymous with ‘not caring’, when in fact it’s the exact opposite. A wise man once said, “Love and compassion are necessities not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”

I understand why my friend steamed out like that, I actually hugged her instead of getting upset. Plus she makes the best chocolate desserts in the entire universe, so I really can’t afford to lose her LOL. (Yeah, newsflash: I’m obsessed with chocolates!)

I’m also obsessed with quotes, especially the ones based on Islamic teachings. Squeezing a relevant quote in the middle of a conversation makes me feel smart for some reason, I don’t know! Here’s another life-changing quote by a man named ‘unknown’ (See how smart I am?)

Watch your thoughts for they become words

Watch your words for they become actions

Watch your actions for they become habits

Watch your habits for they become character

Watch your character for it becomes your destiny

This statement is pure psychology, proven, tested, dissected and written about in hundreds of books. Come, I’ll show you…

The Definite Pattern:

“How can caring for others give me joy if no one cares about me? This theory is NOT true!”
A disapproving thought quickly turns to doubt or denial.
Thoughts turn to words.

“I’ve got my own mess to deal with so get out of my face!”
The negative thought is voiced out with anger to attack or repel others.
Words turn to action.

“You need to be selfish to survive in this jungle! Toughen up like the rest of us or you’ll be eaten alive!”
Justifications are given till discouraging yourself and others from helping the needy becomes effortless.
Actions become habits.

“Let others figure out how to get by, their problems can’t be our problems!”.
Loss of compassion changes a person. It leads to neglectfulness of our pure and kind inner beings.
Habit becomes character.

“A charity event? Man that’s good publicity! Make sure you take a picture of me hugging the sick kids and those sad wrinkly old people!”

Sometimes the only interest in kindness is shown  is under the spotlight, where it’s time to show off how great and loving we are. Fakeness tarnishes genuine bonds of love and leads to a gruesome destiny.

Everything becomes about ‘you’, while you withhold the chance to put a smile on someone else’s face, even if it cost you nothing at all, thinking:
Why should I? I’m not a pushover!”

 One Thing Leads To The Other:

Denial of truth à Repulsion à Discouraging people from helping othersà Negligence of our purity and inner goodnessà Showing Off à Selfishness to the point of withholding costless kindness à A miserable woeful life.
Hmmmmmmm interesting theory….

It’s not just the quotes. Take a look at the teachings of all the best-selling self-help books circulating millions of copies around the world. Their authors are celebrated professors, doctors and scientists. They spent years researching, studying and observing before cracking the code: The source of your happiness stems from making others happy. That’s pretty much the gist of it. But 1400 years ago, a blessed prophet who wasn’t a psychologist or a neurologist or a sociologist or any kind of ‘-ologist’ conveyed the Holy words of Allah, describing the same pattern that defines us till this day….

“Have you seen the one who denies the Recompense?

That is he who repulses the orphan (harshly),

And does not encourage the feeding of the poor.

So woe to those who pray

Who are neglectful of their prayers,

Those who make show [of their deeds]

And withhold [simple] assistance.”

(Surat Al Ma’un, Chapter 107, Holy Qur’an)

Don’t Underestimate Those Simple Acts

Just like abuse and bullying can have negative long-term effects on the society, where those in pain ‘pay it back’ with more hurt and anger, kindness can and will do the opposite of that if you ‘pay it forward’. We all have the humanity and compassion ‘gene’, and I just love the word ‘withhold’ in this Holy chapter because it perfectly describes how we suppress our kind-hearted natures when we deny the reality of this life. We forget we are all connected, and that the joy you spread will eventually find its way back to you. Life is a chain reaction. You and me have the power to conquer poverty, hunger, disease and wars by causing a ripple effect with one good selfless deed.

So the next time you pass by a poor homeless woman on the street and avoid eye-contact because it’s ‘awkward’; try pausing your busy life for a minute to ask “How can I help?”. We are the slaves of Allah and we have an important job to do people! We gotta help one another. And now is the best time to start coz guess who’s coming to town? The Holy Month Of Ramadan! SURPRISE! (I was gonna keep it as a secret but I couldn’t hold it in any longer LOL)

The 30-Day Kindness Challenge:

We plant trees to overcome pollution, take vitamins to beat fatigue, vacuum the house to clean the dust… it makes sense to conquer the negative with a positive, and what’s more beautiful than a fresh batch of hope to revive this Ummah? Investing in small acts of kindness this Ramadan should be our ultimate goal. Let’s show the world what Islam is and defeat the hate with love and mercy. It’s effortless, simple and free. You make someone happy which makes you feel better and makes the world a better place. Win. Win Win. This isn’t just about the mega bonus of Ramadan’s multiplied rewards! (Actually it SO is, who are we kidding?)

Here’s a list to get you started:

For Your Lovely Parents:

  • Thank your mom every day for the food she cooked and make yummy noises! (Cooking while you’re fasting is not easy! Trust me)
  • Ask your dad daily “What can I do to make your day better?”

For Your Precious Grandparents

  • Umm hello! Call and visit them! Make them feel special before they’re gone.

For Your Spouse and Children

  • Hide a note with a funny joke or compliment in your kids’ backpacks or clothes.
  • Text your husband or wife saying ‘I Love You’.
  • A minimum of three hugs a day for each member of the family (I’m serious! Sometimes all we need is a warm embrace)

For Relatives, Neighbors and Friends

  • Send flowers (or Konafa) to a distant relative with a card saying “Just a little something to make you smile”
  • Mown your neighbor’s lawn or wash their cars.
  • Tell your friends how much they mean to you and make du’aa for them.

For Co-workers and Other Professions

  • Bring homemade cookies to work (with chocolate chips please!) Don’t worry, we will save them till after Iftar!
  • Praise clerks, assistants and workers and thank them for their hard work.
  • Leave a nice comment on articles you enjoyed (Uhmm Hint Hint)

For Absolute Strangers

  • Greet people with a smile (It’s a sunnah for God’s sake!)
  • Give up your seat for an elderly or a pregnant woman.
  • Hand out balloons to kids on the street

For God’s Beautiful Creations

  • Leave a bowl of water outside for the birds. (That’s when I had to explain to my son why animals don’t fast)
  • Make Tasbih (glorifying Allah) outdoors. Trees, insects, even the mountains and soil will join and bloom. (Does that sound weird?)

For Those In Dire Need of Ma’oun:

  • Leave a couple of colors and coloring books in the waiting room of a public hospital.
  • Do some fun story telling at an orphanage and bring them toys or snacks.
  • Share a meal with a homeless person and sit with them on the ground.
  • Listen to someone who is sad or lonely.

The ideas are endless. Just doing one simple act of kindness a day without expecting anything in return can truly change the world, and is beyond joyful and fulfilling. It’s in fact the number one reason behind success, inner peace and sound sleep! Helping others feel better is simply the meaning of happiness because…

“Is there any reward for good other than good?” (Surat Ar Rahman 55:60, Holy Qur’an)

So believe in your Lord’s promise, have compassion, pray from the heart and invest in those simple acts of kindness during this blessed Holy month.

And if that makes you a pushover, well….

Consider yourself the luckiest person on Earth for being one!

Lilly S. Mohsen

What No One Would Dare Say About Ramadan!

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“Mommmmmmm! I’m so hungry! How long till Maghreb?” The kids asked for the 36th time (But you know, who’s counting!)
“Four hours and 17 minutes!” I reply in an automated-service tone.

A hot summery Ramadan and it’s like 100 degrees outside so the kids are staying indoors, and with no caffeine in my system, I feel my crankiness slowly turning me into an intolerable ‘Hulkette’! But then again, it’s the Holy month, where your heart, mind, soul and body are being purified while going through the ultimate test of patience. It’s the month of blessings and serenity. I can do this…
Yes I can.

“Mommmmmm! It’s been forever! How long till Maghreb now?”
“Four hours and 16 minutes!”

Hmmmm on second thought… I so CAN’T do this!

With Satan and all the horrible little devils chained away for 30 days and nights I’m not sure who to blame my grumpiness on.
Me? Noooooooo! Come on people I’m a very pleasant person.
Okay fine, I’ll take responsibility for my own bad mood and today I’ll be the devil’s advocate to mess with your minds a little bit (yeah I’m mean I know). As much as I like Ramadan, I’m one of those people who worry about its arrival 11 months before it’s here. Between the loss of sleep, no food or water, no entertainment, and kids whining endlessly, I must say these 30 days are challenging.

What’s So Special About Ramadan?

1- The Ultimate Delete Button

Yes you heard that right! In the Holy month, you literally start a new page and all your sins are deleted.
Aha even if you did HORRIBLE things.
Yup! Even those nasty sins too.
Yes I’m totally serious, literally EVERYTHING and ANYTHING bad you did is deleted. Listen to this:

“Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) said: ‘Whoever fasts Ramadan out of faith and in the hope of reward, he will be forgiven his previous sins.” (Sunan an-Nasa’i 2205)

The devil’s advocate starts fidgeting then suddenly gets up: “It doesn’t mean you’ll go to Jannah you know. Satan is a genius and he’ll definitely lead you to sin after Ramadan is over and you’ll hopefully die during the act and go to hell! Sorry to burst your bubble guys! What else do you got?”

2-The Big Save Button:
So if you’re worried that your fasting and prayers weren’t perfect, or that you’ll sin again, there’s another getaway that makes Ramadan extra special. It’s Allah’s extreme mercy and kindness. Check this out:

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “In every day and every night, during the month of Ramadan, there are people to whom Allah grants freedom from the Fire, and there is for every Muslim a supplication which he can make and will be granted”. [al-Bazzaar, Ahmad and Ibn Majah; Sahih]
And God Almighty doesn’t go back on His word. Once you’re granted freedom for Hellfire it’s a lifetime guarantee. Congratulations, you’ve been saved.
The devil’s advocate sweats uncontrollably and his eyes widen double their size. “Whoa easy there buddy. Careful what you say! Besides you’ll never know you’re saved for sure till Judgment Day, and it still doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be in a high level in Heaven. Nah, I’m thinking that’s not enough to make Ramadan so special!
3- The Instant Multiplication Button

Alright! You want special I’ll give you special.
I’m pretty sure you’re familiar with the Holy verse 6:160 which explains that Allah multiplies each good deed by 10. And we also know that praying in Jama’a or groups multiplies the reward by 27. Not just that, but the Prophet (PBUH) also said this about Ramadan: “Every deed of the son of Adam will be multiplied for him, between ten and seven hundred times for each merit. Allah said: ‘Except for fasting, for it is for Me and I shall reward for it.'” (Bukhari).

Now let the Mathematicians step forward please.
1 prayer X 5 times a day X 10 X 700 X 27 X 30 Days = 28, 350,000 points.

More than 28 million Hasanat for prayers alone. And Salat Taraweeh (Night prayers), reciting Qur’an (which by the way is 1 point for each LETTER you read- that’s 323,671 points) and add the charity money, acts of kindness and the sunnah prayers before and after obligatory Salat, feeding the poor, hospitality… Etc. As for the reward for fasting, God said He decides on that, and when the Most Kind and Most Generous rewards His slaves, I don’t think my brain can absorb the amount of points He’s talking about.
So yeah, put all together, that’s math I can’t even do! But I know it’s more than enough to raise your status in Jannah!

“Hmmmmm! Let’s see what the devil’s advocate has to say about THAT!” I cross my arms triumphantly.
Oh my God, wait! He’s having a seizure. Help!
4- The Humongous Power Button

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for! The night of nights, when thousands of angels including the great angel Jibreel himself, descend from the sky to visit our world. The once a year opportunity that’s literally worth your whole life! Ladies and gentlemen, it is with great pleasure that I announce the ‘Night of Power’ and its glory! But before I do that, let me ask the audience here a question.
“Sir, what do you think is the average life span of a human being?”
“Ummmm I don’t know, 80 years?”
“That is correct! And how many months would that be sir?”
“960 months?”
“Exactly! But now get this!”

The Night of Power is better than a thousand months.” (97:3, Holy Qur’an)

Also known as Laylat Al Qadr, sincere worship of the Great Lord on the Night Of Power is equal to more than a lifetime of non-stop praying. And that is every single year. So we’re talking about at least 50 lifetimes of zero sins and oceans of endless rewards!
Who’s your mama now?

Sirens of ambulances invade the sound systems and nurses with gurneys and oxygen masks run to the rescue of the poor devil’s advocate, who is now on the ground motionless after a massive stroke.

Later that evening, still chained to the hospital bed and wearing that funny green gown, the devil’s advocate lifts his oxygen mask and growls….
“I thought I could depend on you to distract the humankind! You let me down! You put the name of evil to shame!”
“Yeah whatever” I laughed
“On Eid we meet again! I will be revenged! You’ll see! You’ll ALL SEE!”

Driving home, I see Muslims handing out bottles of water and dates on the streets, helping each other and setting out iftar tables for the poor. There’s a soothing kind of serenity in the air… I can’t explain it. It’s like an 11 month tornado has gone by and kindness is all that survived. There’s still good in this world… I swear to God there is…

“Sorry kids. I had to run to the hospital. Long story!” I apologized as I walked in.
“Mommy come on! One minute till Maghreb! Oh my God we are so excited!” The kids jump happily.

Excited to eat food they eat all year long….
Eager to sit down with the family they see everyday….
Hurrying to the mosque to pray with the friends they always hang out with….
Every single ordinary moment is appreciated in the most extraordinary ways… and I can’t help but think that this is the real meaning of happiness….
Blessed light cleansing our souls like a pure waterfall on a hot burning day…
Our Lord’s mercy is overwhelming… fulfilling and recharging…
And yet that’s not even a fraction of how special and glorious this Holy month is… Compared to that, our love for it isn’t enough…
It never will be… until the angels greet us with open arms at the gates of Paradise…and we finally see the Face of our Lord…
The Owner of Majesty and Honor….
Because that was and always will be, the truest love of all….

Lilly S. Mohsen

Follow me on Twitter @lillymohsen