Tag Archives: faith

Day 27: 30 Good Deeds In Ramadan

DAY TWENTY-SEVEN: Is Tonight The Night?

 

No don’t worry, my biological clock isn’t that messed up yet loool
I’m meaning to post this a bit earlier than usual today coz this one is a deed of the heart, and who knows, perhaps tonight is ‘Laylat Al Qadr’ (The Night Of Power).
If it is, you’ll be so happy you read this today, I think you’ll be making cartwheels in Jannah loool

 

A little bit about Laylat Al Qadr?

Okay sure…

 

You know, centuries ago, people lived up to a 1000 years. I remember reading a story about a man who died in his 500s and his mom stood over his grave crying hysterically because he ‘died young’ looool (I know it’s not funny but I’m sorry it kind of is)

When that mother heard about the likes of us, whose averages lifespans is 80 years, her jaws dropped and she said ‘Why would they even come to the world? There’s no time to do anything”

 

“The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was shown the lifespans of the people (who had gone) before him, or what Allah willed of that, and it was as if the lives of the people of his community had become too short for them to be able to do as many good actions as others before them had been able to do with their long lives, so Allah gave him Laylat al- Qadr, which is better than a thousand months.” (https://sunnah.com/urn/407130)

 

The word ‘Qadr’ has multiple meanings, ones of which are:
Decree:
The night of great ‘decision-making’ by Allah, entailing mercy and love from Him to His slaves.
Honor:
The most honorable of angels (Jibreel) came with the most honorable of books (Qur’an) to give to the most honorable of messengers (Mohammad) on the most honored month (Ramadan).

Power:
Allah endowed this night with unusual power. This is the night we should have complete faith in the power of Allah to change things…
To change our destinies to the better…
To change our flaws and fate and behavior…
We ask Him to accept us, forgive us and love us…

 

And yet every year, even when we try to get so close to Him…
Some of us still feel so far away…

You’ll hear others cry during prayers, and see their blessed tears roll down their faces at the mention of Allah’s name

And then you’ll look yourself up and down, stare at your dry tearless eyes, and shake your head with disappointment

 

You might think you didn’t put enough effort…
You were too distracted or too flawed or just not spiritual or soft….

You’ll look at those who worship Him with reverence and silently start wondering if you’re good enough..
You’ll witness this blessed night and then start telling yourself
‘I tried… I tried so many times, but I don’t feel anything.. I’m not tearing up or getting shivers down my back or even feeling serene…maybe Allah doesn’t want me…”

 

Are you crazy? How can you ever think that?

 

You’re right there at the mosque, in His house!
I mean would you allow anyone to stay at your place against your will?

No one forced Allah to allow you to enter His house…
The mere fact that you’re there, wherever you are, on your knees before your Lord, begging Him to accept you, means He already did!

Allah is the Most Generous….
He will never say ‘Hey, what brought you here!’
No… He will actually bring you closer, like a loving mother warmly embracing her child, and He will say: just “Call upon Me; I will respond to you”

We don’t change suddenly…
We don’t become pious, righteous and have faces glowing with the light of faith at the press of a button.

It’s a build up
Of little random acts of kindness and good deeds…

When you sit alone and think of how Great and Magnificent your Lord is….

When you play with an orphan or feed a poor family…

When you put your family first, and help them out with chores, even when they don’t even notice it…

When you emulate the beloved Prophet (just because he’s so awesome)

When you feed a bird or help a homeless dogs on the street
Or take the time to absorb a verse from the Qur’an or learn a Hadith and get your questions answered…

When you make your parents smile…
Or do things from the heart for Allah’s sake…
When you give good advice
Or volunteer to help others
When you teach a child to be a proud Muslim
Or when you silently praise the beloved Prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him)
When you remember the deceased in your prayers, even though they’re not here to thank you…
Or when you’re grateful for Allah’s simplest blessings…

 

When you give compliments to gladden people’s hearts…
Or when you spend from what you love the most…

 

When you forgive others for His sake…
Or when you forgive yourself and promise to start anew…

 

When you visit your grandparents and listen to their repetitive stories…
Or when you make a du’aa for someone you don’t like, in an attempt to please your Lord…

 

When you take time out of your day to read a post like this one, hoping it might bring you even an inch closer to Allah…
Or when you realize that I just listed all the acts of kindness we did this Ramadan and keep it to yourself instead of yell out “You’re SO BUSTED!’ looool

 

So be patient with your Lord…
Be patient in worshipping Him….

The change doesn’t happen suddenly…

The tears don’t flow abruptly…

The goodness doesn’t come unnaturally…

It’s the outcome of building a relationship with Allah throughout the years…

So if you don’t feel anything tonight, it’s okay…
Keep investing, keep trying, and keep coming….
You’re still on the same path with all the other people you look up to…

Some are walking
Some are jogging
And some are running with amazing speed

But in the end they’re all on the same journey, heading towards the same destination…
Pleasing Allah

 

If tonight is Laylat Al Qadr, then smile and open your heart to the love, peace and angels surrounding you….

Just talk to Allah they way you’d talk to a close friend…
And don’t doubt it even for a second…
Because you are more than enough…
You’re accepted and sheltered in His mercy and care…

So tell Him all your secrets tonight…
Ask for everything you wish for…

And don’t forget to remember me and my family in your duaa please (maybe you’ll be the reason we do cartwheels in Jannah too)

 

May Allah bless you all
And since you’ll be supplicating to the Most Compassionate and Most Generous

May the most you ask for
be the least you get….
All my love,

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 22: 30 Good Deeds In Ramadan

DAY TWENTY-TWO: It’s What You Love The Most

 

Here’s a random conversation with one of them ‘cool’ teenagers
“So what’s your plan for being successful?”
“Become famous”
“Famous for doing what?”
“I dunno”  Icon Face

 

To be fair, probably most of us have shared this ‘becoming-a-success-story’ dream at some point in our lives. We probably hunted down any ‘easy’ tips or ‘fast-track’ tools that could get us a step closer to realizing our goal. I remember I was only 10 when I asked my mom,

“So what’s the BEST thing I can do to be the BEST?”
“Spend from what you love the most”
“Huh?”

 

I SO didn’t see that one coming. I thought she’d use this opportunity to guilt me into keeping my stuff organized or to make me quit teasing my siblings. But no, she quoted this verse:

Never will you attain the good [reward] until you spend [in the way of Allah] from that which you love. And whatever you spend – indeed, Allah is Knowing of it.” (Holy Qur’an, 3:92)

Of course at that time, ‘that which I loved’ was chocolate.
(Still is, but you know). And I remember kicking myself, like WHY? Why did I have to ask? looool

Your turn.
What is it that you love the most?
It should be something other than money, because hello, money is a given in most scenarios, since it’s what we use to buy the things we love.

Is it food? (Probably an automatic answer by those of us still fasting loool)
Flowers? Cars? Perfume? Books? Puppies?
That expensive watch or laptop or Play Station ‘number OMG-newly-released-yet-exactly-the-same-as-the-one-before-it?’
That family-heirloom Meringue Pie recipe you keep in a fireproof vault?
That beautiful pearl necklace that goes with everything you wear?

See? It’s not so easy.
And that’s why it’s the biggest test of faith, because putting Allah first is the surest path to goodness and success in both this world and the Hereafter

When Abu Talha (one of the Ansari companions) heard the above verse, he gave up his ‘Bairuha’ Garden to charity, which everyone knew and he also admitted was the most beloved garden to his heart. (Bukhari)

When Prophet Solomon sensed his beloved horses were distracting him from worship, he got rid of them all. And they were a vision! They were gorgeous, purebred, Arabian horses if you’d like to know.

Prophet Abraham was willing to give up what he loves the most for the sake of Allah… When asked, he was willing to sacrifice his only beloved child Ismail…

 

If you had to…
And if the One who holds your life in His hands wills it, would you give up your desires, dreams, wealth, pleasures or loved ones…?

Would you sacrifice your Ismail…?

 

Your Merciful Lord did not ask you to do all of that. He doesn’t want to break your heart, He just wants to make you stronger.
He wants to empower you instead of letting you get desperately attached to material things.
And He never asked you to give up everything you love. Just a small portion of it.
Would you do that for His sake?
Beginners Level:

Ho-ho don’t start down playing or suddenly rearranging the list of ‘your most beloved things’ now. There’s something you own and cherish so much you’d rather not give it up, and that’s exactly what you need to share and spend from. No cheating loool
It could even be your time!
Advanced Level:

Use the ‘Ripple Effect’ theory, because 28 years later, I’m pretty sure, since it was my mom who taught me it, she’s getting double the rewards for every time I spend from what I love (You’re welcome mommy, any time! Just please don’t pretend like you don’t know me when you reach the highest levels of Paradise loool. InshAllah)
Guys, be smart! Teach this to as many people as possible. Instill it in your kids. When you get them Eid presents, get an extra one (just as good), and then ask them to pick one to give away for charity.
The sound of their brains going 100 miles an hour and their obvious predicament will break your heart.
But it will also make you super proud.
Muslims don’t just give away their left overs or ugly, unkempt belongings and call it a day!

We are people who love for our brothers and sisters what we love for ourselves.
Even if it feels like you’re giving a piece of your heart away when you share your last KitKat.
(Or anything you love for that matter)
It’ll open your heart…
It’ll teach you what ‘true love’ really means…
And it will be the BEST thing that ever happened to you…
Simply the best…

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

Day 20: 30 Good Deeds In Ramadan

DAY TWENTY: The Power Of Advice

“Let her eat something sweet”
“No something salty”
“Let her lie down”
“No let her sit up”
“Give her some space to breathe”
“No let her go home!”

In case your wondering, those are all the contradicting pieces of advice women yell out at the mosque whenever one of us poor girls gets dizzy and drops to the ground in the middle of ‘Taraweeh’ prayers.
I gotta tell you, we’re one opinionated bunch loool.
Women seem to know everything there is to know about everything one can ever know anything about!

They’re great dentists:
“Your teeth hurt? Chew some cloves!”

Great Orthopedic Surgeons:
“You broke your toe? Tie a potato around it!”

Great problem solvers:
“You missed the deadline? Have some chocolate cake!”

Women will give and apply unsolicited advice, any chance they get. While men, the extreme opposite of course, will strictly reject any sort of advice unless they openly, lucidly and clearly ask for it, after signing a consent form allowing you to express a different opinion and getting it certified at one of the legal institutes loool.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the things that matter, like the ‘real’ important issues, some people are too reluctant to help, only to face horrible consequences like failure or blame.
While others are obviously not ‘God-conscious’ or honest enough with the advice they give, because they don’t really wish others the best.
I’ve had clients tell me their friends are all advocating divorce.
“Why what’s the problem?”
“My husband forgot my birthday two years in a row!”

Seriously?!

Sincere advice is so critical because you know what? People take it.
Some people will actually consider your words and in many cases apply them, because they believe and trust you.
They’ll think it’s okay to let the kids go on social media unsupervised.
It’s okay to get divorced because your husband snores!
It’s okay to get married without parents’ approval
They’ll think they do look better with short hair! (My obsession with long hair aside, any insinuation that cutting hair is better is probably not genuine, trust me!)

Giving advice is an ‘amanah’ (Translator please! I can’t seem to find mine)
It’s an obligation, an entrustment and an absolute privilege.
Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said, “The Deen (religion) is Naseehah (advice, sincerity).”
The companions asked, “To whom?”
He (ﷺ) said, “To Allah, His Book, His Messenger, and to the leaders of the Muslims and their common folk.” (Muslim)

Remember when Prophet Muhammad summed up Hajj saying it’s “Arafah’?
Now he’s summing up Islam in two words (actually one Arabic word: Naseehah) or ‘Sincere Advice’.

So where am I going with this?
Let’s find out

Beginners Level:

No one expects you to go around bombarding people with advice they never asked for.
But please don’t let shyness, fear of consequences, jealousy or a need to be ‘cool’, deter you from standing up for the truth or helping people in need of guidance.
If someone is spreading false information, correct him or her with kindness.
If your kids start crumbling under social pressure, be there to lift them up.

If you’re put on the spot, speak proudly of Islam, and don’t bend your principles for anyone, whoever it might be.
And when asked for advice, for God’s sake, give it (but you know… nicely)
Advanced Level:
It’s hard to listen to those who don’t practice what they preach

It’s time we started investing in our own reputations
Our honesty…
Our truthfulness and integrity…
Oh how I wish all these beautiful morals could make a comeback!
Religion is sincere advice because it encompasses genuineness, authenticity, and loving for others what we love for ourselves.
So don’t be stingy looool. Share your beautiful knowledge about Islam with others, even if it’s one verse or hadith.
And do it eloquently, in a soft, smart and lenient manner to attract people to the truth instead of turn them off.

Maybe, just maybe…
You’ll end up in the highest levels of Paradise (and take me with you inshAllah coz otherwise that’s just mean loool)

And it might not be because you spent hours praying or days fasting or went to Hajj 26 times
But because you gave one person some really good advice
Because you shared and made a difference…

 

Ramadan Kareem guys
See you tomorrow inshAllah

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

 

Day 19: 30 Good Deeds In Ramadan

DAY NINETEEN: Quality Over Quantity

 

No, this won’t be another minimalist post about how ‘less is more’ and stuff. Because there ARE times when ‘more is more’:
-The more the merrier.
-The more positive you are, the happier you’ll be.
-The more Konafa, the better

Those facts constitute the classic lessons in life. They’ll always remain unchangeable, like the day and night.
This writing is more about the ‘changeable’ aspects. The ups and downs we go through, as in the seasons.
Sometimes we’re all bloomed and recharged like the flowers of spring, and others we’re as dry and lifeless as the harshest, colorless fall.
And surprisingly enough, this emotional roller coaster also happens at the most inconvenient times, when we desperately need to be be balanced the most.

Many people have been whimpering about failing and flailing this Ramadan, in terms of worship. I’m not gonna pretend I don’t know what that is. Oh I do! I SO DO!

The curve of enthusiasm and vigorously challenging energy takes off at full speed during the first nights of Ramadan and then starts drooping down around, wait what day is it today? Yup! Right about now, when instead of fueling up for the last ten days, we’re on the floor, flat down on our faces, drained and tired (and probably holding a half eaten cheese samosa)

Yet it’s also right about this time of the blessed month
We forget…

It’s not really the hunger, the hours staying in prayer, or which chapter you’ve reached in the Holy Qur’an.

I heard there’s a village in Yemen where the whole time from Dawn to Dusk is 4 hours!
FOUR hours!
That’s how long it takes to digest a decent meal anyway. And yet they’ll celebrate Eid with us as if nothing happened. They’ll get rewarded for fasting the whole month, even when they weren’t even hungry OR tired or even aware it’s already time for Iftar. (I’m not jealous, I’m just saying…)

There are people who stand for 20 Rak’as in Taraweeh prayer, but their minds are somewhere else.
Others are already on round 14 of finishing reading the whole Qur’an, but perhaps many haven’t taken the time to absorb and contemplate its beautiful meanings.

It’s not the numbers in your brain that count…
It’s the feeling in your heart…
Allah doesn’t need us to give up our food and sleep just so we can say “Sheesh we’re done!”
He wants this month to change something inside us to the better. To touch an inner vulnerability and raise us up to a higher level.

It’s not the obligation, it’s the submission…
It’s not the quantity that matters to Him
It’s the quality… the genuine feeling of the heart
So if you’re starting to dread waking up in the morning, or starting to literally drag your feet to Taraweeh prayers every night, know that you’re not alone. The peak of tiredness might even bring with it feelings of guilt, self-resentment and a tinge of depression. Right?
If your reply was ‘no, not at all’, and you have no idea what I’m talking about, then consider yourself VERY lucky. No I mean VERY VERY lucky and fortunate and blessed! (Again, I’m not jealous, I’m just saying…)

But if you know what I mean, and have been feeling worn out those past couple of days then this act of kindness is just what you need, because it’s a kindness towards yourself…

All Levels:

Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) put it beautifully. He said, “Two moderate cycles of prayer in contemplation are better than praying the night with a bad heart.”(Source: al-Zuhd wal-Raqā’iq 288)

Easy on yourself.
Come to your Lord undone, tired, weak or even broken
Come to Him with genuine humility and true devotion
Be ‘real’ with Him. There’s no need to pretend and there’s no reason to quit if you think you’re not good enough this month.
Feel your feelings and come to your Lord with a pure heart
It takes one heartfelt duaa…
One genuine tear…
One moment of loving worship…
Because at the end of the day, it’s the sincerity that counts
It’s what matters the most…

Ramadan Kareem everyone
See you tomorrow inshAllah
Lilly S. Mohsen
 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 17: 30 Good Deeds In Ramadan

 

DAY SEVENTEEN: Grow Through What Others Go Through

You never know when it might happen….
Where you would be or how you’d react…

It was almost 4am.
I had just finished praying Fajr (after swallowing two very much needed sleeping pills), checked on kids and finally closed my eyes, to takeoff to dream world.
It wasn’t long before the high-pitched ringing sound of my phone zonked me right back to reality.
My heart pounded louder than cranes drilling through brick walls. I picked up the phone shivering. It was my sister.
“HELP! My house is on FIRE!”

Think about it about for a minute, will you…?

Because we are all a car accident, a kitchen fire, a blood test, or even a phone call away from becoming completely different people..
The homeless, the bedridden terminal patients, the girls who were brutally raped, the innocent prisoners and the burn victims..
They all could have easily been you and me.
They didn’t ask for it. They didn’t see it coming. They couldn’t have prevented it. And they never thought they’d suffer for years, all for one unpredictable incident.

Because you never know when it might happen….
Where you would be or how you’d react…
You never know what the future is hiding for us, and no matter how hard we try, we can’t prevent the unknown.
Only Allah can….

Beginners Level:

Prayers and paying it forward. Those are the two paths to peace.
When you’re down on your knees begging Allah for the things you need.
Asking Him to take your pain away.
Asking Him to forgive your sins and fill your life with joy
Remember to thank Him and ask for the biggest blessing of all…
Prevention.

Make sure you stay on the right track. Make sure you pay it forward by helping those in need, any way you can, so Allah can help you when you need Him the most…

Advanced Level:

Perhaps you can’t prevent calamities or problems, but you can surely be part of the solution.
You can help put an end to even ONE person’s suffering, or give hope to someone who’s hanging on by a thread.
This is a personal request to try save burn victims, with the intention of being saved from the Hellfire (God forbid)

We don’t have to wait to be knocked down before we can stand up.
Let us grow through learning from what others go through.
And instead of being scared of suffering, let’s take part in the miracle of healing.

Here’s how…

AhlMasr Burn Victims
Donate to one of the following Burn Victim Rescue Channels
Burn Rescue Online: http://www.burnrescue.org/
Children’s Burn Foundation: http://childburn.org/
Egypt’s Burn Unit http://www.ahl-masr.org/donate-online

I know this post is a bit intense and so out of the blues
You’re gonna have to forgive me for that because there’s a Eid surprise for those who do loool
But maybe reading this today is a blessing in disguise
Because we all have fears, and this is your chance to ask Allah, the Most Merciful, during these blessed nights, to please not test you with trials involving your worst fear.
It’s a chance to beg Allah to prevent the ‘worst’, and that alone is probably one of the ‘best’ blessings…
May Allah protect us and all our loved ones
Amen
 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

Day Twelve: 30 Good Deeds In Ramadan

DAY TWELVE: There’s Always A Place To Volunteer

 

Turns out reaching a state of ‘Happiness’ is ridiculously easy.

You finally find the set of keys you’ve been looking for for over three hours and you’re ecstatic!
You see a funny video of a cute baby with a voracious appetite and you can’t stop laughing.
Your life long friend calls to cheer you up and you’re suddenly in a positive mood.

It really doesn’t take much to be happy!

And it also doesn’t take long for this happiness to subside, simply because no one can maintain one mood or emotion endlessly. No one can possibly be happy ALL the time (I mean come on, imagine how extremely annoying that would be!)

So if it’s not constant happiness that we’re pursuing (since we just found out it’s obviously unattainable) then what exactly are we running after? What’s the missing element powerful enough to take this excruciating sadness away?

What in this life is capable of making us feel alive…?

 

 

No really, what is it?

I’m actually asking you guys loool

 

Well studies have shown that selfish people who have everything and live only for themselves suffer from low-self esteem, depression and are the most likely to commit suicide.

On the other hand, thanks to MRI technology, it has also been proven that ‘giving’ activates the mid region of the brain, the same part responsible for cravings and seeking pleasure. (The scientific study uses eating chocolate as an example of intense pleasurable feelings. I think I just fell in love with scientists and researchers; such noble, knowledgeable people loool)

So I thought I’d put the theory to the test…

I joined my dear friend on one of her volunteering jobs to pack ‘Iftar’ meals for the less fortunate. On our way there, she eloquently prepared me for my first experience…

Marwa: ‘So we’re supposed to pack 1000 hot meals in less than an hour’

Me: ‘How is that even possible?

Marwa: ‘We’ve been doing it for years. You basically give up the right to breathe and instead you work NON-STOP! You hear me Lilly? No side talks, no calling the kids to check on them, no whining about the heat or about your feet going numb. And no bathroom breaks!’

Me: ‘I can do that’ (Gulp)

Marwa: ‘Oh and also… uhmmm… heads up…. The supervisor yells a lot. She will make it a point to publicly humiliate you in front of all the other volunteers if she sees you’re not doing a good job, so just be prepared.’

Me: ‘Okay stop right there! Are we volunteers or ex-cons going back to jail? I plan on donating my time not my dignity, thank you very much.’

Marwa (laughing): ‘Dignity? Honey, this is serious work. Hundreds of people around the country are expecting this food and there’s no room for mistakes. Do yourself a favor and leave your dignity at the door. ‘

 

I did….

And honestly, I never thought working in an assembly line, amongst total strangers, sweating from the heat and shivering from the fear of humiliation, getting screamed at while bagging plastic boxes like a maniac and then going home smelling like meat stock would bring me such immense joy!

Nothing, absolutely nothing, compares to this beautiful feeling…

So if you’ve never experienced it before, I’m urging you to please to give it a try….

Beginners Level:

Donate your time to a worthy cause.
Volunteer at the local hospital, orphanage, public school, soup kitchen, food bank or help clean up a district in your neighborhood.
The options are endless.
Just pick one and try it out for a day. You’ll see how the humbling experience will be life changing.
You’ll see how expecting the reward only from Allah and no one else, is so amazingly fulfilling….

Advanced Level:

It’s kind of addictive…
I can safely assume anyone who tries the beginner level will most certainly move up to the advanced level of wanting to do this every single day for the rest of eternity because …

‘When action meets compassion, lives change…’
Starting with yours….

May all your days be filled with joy and may Allah accept us all in this beautiful, generous, holy month…

Amen

 

All my love,
Lilly S. Mohsen

Day Ten: 30 Good Deeds in Ramadan

DAY TEN: Happiness is Homemade

Nutella Konafa Cone By CleoButtera

Nutella Konafa Cones By CleoButtera

 

What?
No, for real, this is homemade.
Would I lie to you? In Ramadan? About chocolate? NEVER!

Turns out some uniquely talented people like ‘CleoButtera’ can actually whip this up in their own kitchens a couple of hours before Iftar*. Just like that! MashAllah!

Do you guys know what the ultimate definition of happiness is? (Other than Nutella of course loool). It’s having something to look forward to everyday. And when we’re fasting, the most thing we look forward to is some home-cooked goodness.
Slow roasted chicken with gravy, Butter pouched shrimps and creamy four-cheese spaghetti. Crunchy Konafa drizzled with heavenly sweet syrup….

If you think about it, this isn’t just food, it’s art…
Delicious, mouthwatering, scrumptious art!

Any yet sometimes (especially when we’re fasting and cross-eyed-drained) we forget to appreciate the artists (who are fasting too by the way). We forget there’s a lot of hard work involved backstage. The people who cook this food spend most of the Holy month in the kitchen! Either preparing the food, rummaging through cookbooks and blogs for new recipes, shopping for missing ingredients, planning menus, or worrying whether the food will be enough, especially when the kids decide to invite 20 of their friends 5 minutes before Iftar!

A couple of days ago I was watching an Arabic series about this group of people stuck on a deserted island. Oh my God, their struggle to find food alone is a nightmare. They had to climb 70 feet trees to get coconuts, then learn the lost martial art of ‘Taekwondo’ to break them open. Some had to figure out how to fashion sharp spears out of tree barks and use them for fishing, which took all day, besides the hours it took to clean the fish and start up the fire to grill it on. And yes, they only had fresh seawater to drink, wild and poisonous animals to keep them company and no bathrooms!!!

Makes you look at your life differently huh?

Thank God we don’t have to go through all of that to eat a single meal. But some of us still must worry about, saving money, getting Halal meat, defrosting, marinating, frying and making good use of leftovers. It’s not a nightmare but it’s not easy either. I promise you it’s not!

As much as those food artists love feeding their families, and as much as they enjoy cooking, it’s still a huge responsibility and a load of effort, especially when you’re standing over a boiling pot of stew on a hot summer day, with cranky kids tugging at your apron and asking ‘how long till Iftar’ every 34 seconds.
(I’m not exaggerating; I’m actually toning it down loool)

Day Ten is here to celebrate our ‘Kitchen Heroes’. To let them know how much we appreciate every minute they spend making our food with love. And to humbly confirm that yes, chances are we would starve to death without them or go bankrupt ordering take out!

Beginners Level:

Never underestimate the power of compliments. Say something sweet to the person cooking your food and make yummy noises while you eat. A little gift would go a long way too. (Just do it. You’ll thank me for it later. You know, on the Day of Judgment when you realize how heavy it is on your good deeds scale). Feeling appreciated and acknowledged is probably the best feeling in the world. It’s really all what anyone needs.

Advanced Level:

Roll up your sleeves and get in there.
Help out for one day! One meal! One dish even!
Do you know how hard it is to peel and cut onions? It’s the kind of task that would reduce a grown man to tears looool.
Just ask the person who cooks your meals ‘How can I help?’.
This simple act of thoughtfulness in a world where everyone is so selfish and self-absorbed is a rare gift in itself. Even the people who supposedly ‘care’ the most, will ask how you’re doing then run before you could even answer loool.

It’s sad but true..

Ramadan is the Holy month of kindness, generosity and consideration….
So be there for your loved ones, and appreciate their efforts and their existence in your life while you still can….

Special Level:

Oh so you’re the ‘Kitchen Hero’?
Honored to meet you!
Well, I don’t really have a task for you today, just tons of appreciation and gratitude.
How about you sit this one out? You’re rewarded for every little crumb you feed a fasting Muslim anyway, so that should do it. Don’t be greedy loool. Let others pamper you for a change…

Ramadan Kareem guys.
All my best,

Lilly S. Mohsen

* Check out Cleobuttera.com for some amazing mouthwatering recipes. Mind blogging to say the least. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Day Nine: 30 Good deeds In Ramadan

DAY NINE: Do It Once From The Heart

Is it really day 9?
So the first third of Ramadan is almost over?
I’m sure you guys know the widespread Hadith breaking up the Holy month into three stages

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “The first part of the month of Ramadan is mercy, the middle of it is forgiveness and the end of it is freedom from the Hellfire.” (Bihar al-Anwar, Vol.: 93, Pg.: 342)

Even though some say it’s a weak narration but still, I believe it serves as a roadmap for believers.
A roadmap of ‘very much needed’ hope….

And now that the first part of the Holy month is almost over, tell me, how do you feel….?
Are you tired or still gearing up for full speed?
Do you think Allah has accepted us yet…?
Do you think we’re at least nominated to join the group He’s pleased with?
Do you think….
He loves you and me?

We endure the heat of the hot summer days, feel the inside of our throats cracking slowly from the thirst, and feel the tiredness sinking in, but we push through the day till dawn. And when it’s time for iftar, we hold back for an extra minute, holding a cup of water with our eyes closed, resisting the urge to take a sip, until we finish whispering a special prayer, asking Allah to forgive the sins of the past, grant us a better future in the next life or to just heal the pain only He knows about…

Day in day out, we repeat the same pattern of “pushing through- inhaling our food- praying- reciting Qur’an- more food (plus gulping down tanks of water at suhour time)- pray- sleep- wake up- push through”
I think by the first week, we’re kind of on autopilot, right?

Except genuine feelings can never fit into a daily pattern. They need to be felt, touched and cried out….

You need to pause and think for a second, right here, right now, ‘has Allah accepted me yet…?’
Does Allah really love me…? And more importantly, do I love Him with all my heart…?

What will happen to us on the Day of Judgment? Will we find heaps of sins we once thought were ‘no big deals’? Or will we find heaps of rewards stacked up because of our little acts of kindness we also thought were ‘no big deal’?
Will we be pardoned or will He ask us tough questions? Questions we’ll be too ashamed to answer?

“Did you truly understand who you were standing before when your mind wandered during prayer?”
“You knew your sister was heart broken, why did you look the other way?”
“You had dinner tables rolled out for you while others down the street were starving. Why didn’t you help?”
“You found out some ‘hot gossip’ about this person and didn’t waste time spreading it. Haven’t I concealed your faults?”
“”You had books, internet, research facilities, lectures and countless resources to learn your religion and teach it to your kids. What else were you busy with that was more important than pleasing your Lord?”

Tears roll down when I think of this day…

I know Allah is Merciful but He’s also Fair, and let’s face it, we haven’t been through a fraction of what true believers have been through, and we’ve done so little compared to others: those in war zones, those who are homeless or suffer from chronic illnesses or disabilities. Those whose faith is severely tested through loss, deprivation and torture. I know I shouldn’t think that way, because it’s the intention that matters and Allah is the final Judge. I’m just scared we’re all doing the ‘high-five-great-job’ kind of thing and secretly being full of ourselves after praying ‘Taraweeh’ every night or doing a teeny-tiny good deed, when in reality we’re just sabotaging our relationship with Allah.

I know it sounds pessimistic and morbid, but it’s something we need to consider too.
Are we doing it all from the heart?
Ya Allah have you accepted us yet…?
Are You pleased with us?
Do You like to hear our voices…?

And then I remember this beautiful Hadith where Allah says:

“He who comes with a good deed, its reward will be ten like that or even more. And he who comes with vice, his reward will be only one like that, or I can forgive him. He who draws close to Me a hand’s span, I will draw close to him an arm’s length. And whoever draws near Me an arm’s length, I will draw near him a fathom’s length. And whoever comes to Me walking, I will go to him running. And whoever faces Me with sins nearly as great as the earth, I will meet him with forgiveness nearly as great as that, provided he does not worship something with me. (Muslim, Ibn Majah and Ahmad).

 

He doesn’t expect perfection…
He promised to be there for you… even when you’re broken
Even when you’ve sinned…
Even when you’re scared and weak and a total mess…
Just run to Him, humble and sincere, and He will accept you….
Just talk to Him from the heart, and He will listen and respond, no matter what you’ve done or said…
For once He loves you, this emptiness you feel inside will be washed away; that emptiness that nothing and no one can fill expect the genuine love for your Merciful Creator…

I’m sorry I don’t know why I can’t stop crying. I’m a bit emotional today…
Plus, I found ants all over the piece of chocolate I saved for Iftar, so I’m also partly crying about that too LOL

Day Nine’s act of kindness is directed towards you. There is no better deed than filling that void in your soul by drawing closer to Allah… and those who’ve felt the ‘closeness’ before know exactly what I mean…

Beginners Level:

Ask…
Ask Allah to love you and to make you love Him. Tonight, ask Allah with sincerity and humility, not for Paradise or refuge from the fire, but for His love, and for Him to love you back…

Advanced Level:

Do something to show you’re serious about your request. Spend the whole day asking again and again. Help someone who can never repay you or do a secret good deed just for His sake. And then ask for that love we all desperately need.

 

Sheeeshhhh
Intense task, huh?
But you know what, when you ask the One who calls Himself ‘The Generous’ and ‘The Giver’, you’ll be granted so many blessings you didn’t even know existed.
It only takes one time…

One time from the heart…

 

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

Day Three: 30 Good Deeds In Ramadan

 

DAY THREE

 

Raise your hand if you’ve had a ‘tougher-than-expected’ day today.

I know I’ll probably sound like a HORRIBLE mom, but for real, I have a son that can easily be nominated for the ‘Best Human Version Of A Headache’ award.

You guys remember him, right? I kinda whine about him and his autism a lot. But I shouldn’t whine in this blessed month. I should embrace his condition and accept it for what it is. I guess we tend to be short-tempered when we’re fasting, even though the whole point of this deprivation is to learn and practice ‘beautiful patience’.

Alright I’m switching to positive mode now.

He’s not that bad, he’s actually really funny when you get to know him. So today about two hours before Maghreb, and after telling him over and over how super proud I was that he’d been fasting the WHOLE day, he opens the fridge, takes out a yogurt cup and rips it open.

“Whoa, Yasseen it’s not time for Iftar yet!”
“I know”
“Ummm you’re not gonna eat that, are you?’

“Of course! How else can I continue fasting without having a snack in the middle of the day, ha?”
“Makes sense. Would you like some grapes with that?”
“What? Mom, NO! I’m FASTING! Just the yoghurt thanks”

But enough about us. How was your day?
Ready for your next challenge?
Well, here it comes…

FullSizeRender

 

Family isn’t just one thing, it’s EVERYTHING!
Family is the place where you’ll love and feel loved no matter what happens. It’s the circle of trust. The warm hug shielding us from all the craziness and despair. Oh my Lord, please keep my family safe for me. I love them all so much. I wish I could praise them one by one and tell you all about their awesomeness and quirks, but it’s almost time for my daily reality show named ‘Battles of the Bedtime’ and I need all my energy to knock the kids down LOL.

Okay so your act of kindness for Day 3 is to make a ‘priceless memory’ with a beloved family member.

Beginners Level:

Ask one of your close family members this question: ‘How can I make your day better?’
And then actually DO what they ask.
Married men must choose their wives for this exercise. (Not optional)
The rest of you guys can pick whomever you want, no problem LOL.

Advanced Level:

Who doesn’t love surprises? Sometimes it feels good to get what you want without even asking for it.

So for the advanced level, make an educated guess about what would make them happy and do it without asking. It could be helping with chores, playing a game with the kids, baking a favorite dessert… Okay I should stop giving you ideas coz I’m sure you guys know your family better.

 

What did I do?

I’m still a rookie with this whole Ramadan-goals thing so I’m realistically practicing the beginners level at least for week one inshAllah.
I asked my daughter when she came back from school (cross eyed and parched after a long day of fasting) what I could do to make her day better.

“I’ve been dreaming of donuts all day. But I don’t think coffee shops even sell donuts in Ramadan. You know what, forget it”

That wasn’t the problem really. I think it was more the ‘embarrassment’ than the ‘scarcity’ that I had troubles with. We live in a Muslim country, girl! I mean imagine the awkwardness.

“Do you guys sell donuts?’
“You mean Konafa”
“No I mean donuts”

Salesperson looks me up and down with disgust like I belong to the ‘Kuffar’ group or something. You literally feel like you’ve violated the sanctity of the Holy month if you don’t constantly crave Eastern food. (I don’t know if Western Muslims have that problem though)

Anyways, I got her a dozen and she was so happy, and utterly touched by the gesture.
Was it a ‘priceless memory’? I ‘Donut’ know LOL

I just ruined the moment, didn’t I?

Oh well, I’ll go die now.

See you guys tomorrow.

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

Day One: Good Deeds In Ramadan

Day One: 

Wow I can’t believe the year has passed so quickly. We were JUST preparing sohoor like two weeks ago!
Anyways so let’s talk business.

It’s Day One of our 30-Day Ramadan Challenge, and I was thinking what’s the BEST thing to start this Holy month with?

And that’s when I came across this beautiful Hadith

“My people (Ummah) are granted five gifts that no prophet before me had been given.
First, when it is the first night of Ramadan, Allah looks at His servants. He will never punish those at whom He looks.
Second, the smell of their mouths when night approaches is more pleasant [to Allah] than the scent of musk.
Third, angels seek Allah’s forgiveness for them everyday and night.
Fourth, Allah commands Paradise saying, ‘Be prepared and adorned for My servants; they are about to be relieved from the pains of the worldly life and move to My Home and Honor.’ Fifth, when it is the last night (of Ramadan) Allah forgives the sins of all people.” (Ahmad and Al-Bazzar)

 

Tonight, the first night of Ramadan, we close the door to the past, take a deep breath and open the door to the blessings of new beginnings….

Ramadan-pray

Take a moment to absorb the magnitude of this Holy month. Do you know how many Muslims died last week? LAST WEEK!
They missed this chance, but you didn’t.
You were chosen to witness this special night, where Allah looks at His slaves, and if they’re in a state of submission or worship, that alone is a sure ticket to Paradise inshAllah.

The first night is singled out from all the other nights.
Don’t miss it. Trust me, nothing can be more important.

So here’s your FIRST ‘Act of Goodness’ this Ramadan
(Based on the beautiful advice of Sheikh Omar Abdul Kafy)

 

Beginners Level:

Detach for a moment.
Make a long heartfelt sujood (prostration) with full submission, and ask Allah to purify your intentions for this Holy month.
Ask Him to forgive, accept, guide and help you through it…

Advanced Level:

Make two raka’s (what’s a rak’a in English?) before that long beautiful sujood.
Thank Allah for being here, ask Him to guide and help you, pray for those who couldn’t be here this year, and end with a note of gratefulness for all the blessings we take for granted.

Ramadan is sooooooo kareem and generous guys
Let’s take like FULL advantage of it.
Let’s start it right!

Lilly S. Mohsen