Tag Archives: fasting

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 Eight: 30 Good Deeds In Ramadan

 

DAY 8: It’s Time To Thank Your Favorite One

 

It’s amazing how just one person can make a difference in so many lives. I still remember the ones who made a difference in mine, and amongst them are my schoolteachers, from Mrs. Gohar in 2nd second grade, who taught us that ‘sharing is caring’ (and I honestly hated sharing!) all the way to Mr. Boylen in college, who treated our work like masterpieces. (Of course I blocked out the scary mean ones, including my math teacher, who mercilessly picked on me, and is the main culprit behind my phobia of numbers. Ughhh)

Anyways, so eventually we grow up and realize there’s still so much to learn, especially in matters of religion. Yes our parents and schoolteachers probably give us the basic, textbook information, but a part of us still yearns for more. And because we’re different, we’re attracted to different methodologies of learning, all the while knowing, the best teachers are those who teach their students in ways they can understand.

When it comes to belief systems, especially religion, some of us need details. Like scrutinized and dissected information, down to a list of what the narrator of a certain Hadith had for dinner that night and the name and address of the woman who cooked it!

Some of us like brief explanations and others learn best through figuring out the morals of stories. I for one need a little bit of humor for my mind to process information properly. I got straight A’s in history because my dad used to make up funny story about Historical figures just so I can remember them all.

Let me ask a question.

Whenever you’re confused, sad or anxious or in need of a dose of spirituality, who’s the first scholar that comes to your mind?
Whoever it is, it must be someone who speaks in a way you can relate to.

Thanks to Allah, we have a lot of amazing Muslim speakers nowadays and they’ve all left their marks in this world, cured broken hearts, answered our doubts and taught us the most important lessons of all; how to be better Muslims, and how to please our Lord. These people have spent most of their lives studying the Qur’an and Sunnah and Aqeedah and Fiqh (Oh my God, do you know how difficult Fiqh 102 is?!) just so they can teach it to others and spread the words of Allah. And in the darkest most crooked times, those scholars are the bright stars guiding us to the straight path.
Day 8’s act of kindness is to show appreciation and gratitude to the Muslim leaders, and let them know how much they’re needed, loved and respected.
Seriously, it’s the least we can do for them, right?

Beginners Level:

Drop a nice comment on an article or a video by your favorite Muslim scholar or speaker. They may never have the chance to reply, but trust me, they’ll always read comments and it’ll bring much deserved joy to their hearts.

Advanced Level:

Send a thank you note, along with a story of how that scholar had affected your life positively. Take the time to show your gratitude in a heartfelt email or letter. The greatest need for humankind is to be acknowledged and appreciated, especially when the work is so noble and effective.

It’s true they do it for Allah’s sake, but whoever doesn’t thank the people doesn’t really thank Allah (that’s a hadith btw). And this Holy month is the best opportunity to thank Allah for opening our hearts to Islam, and thank the scholars for their efforts.

I’ll even make it easier for you guys and add all the top Muslim speakers’ names and contact info to this post.

Now you have no excuses!

Special Level:

Hmmmm so you don’t have a favorite scholar, huh?
What you don’t even listen to Islamic lectures? Like at all?
You’re so missing out dude! Seriously, it’s an obligation for us to learn everything there is to know about our religion, and these people make the process such a great pleasure.
Okay, don’t panic.
Deep breaths everyone.
Better late than never, right?
You’ll find the names of the top Muslim speakers below. Take your pick coz they’re all fantastic!

Who’s my favorite?
Okay I don’t know if I should say LOL. I really love and respect them all but of course one person tops the list. (Uhmm hint hint loool).
Alright here we go:

 

Nouman Ali Khan

http://bayyinah.com/

Hamza Yusuf

https://www.zaytuna.edu/contact

Mufti Menk

https://www.muftimenk.com/contact/

Zakir Naik

http://www.zakirnaik.net/contact/

Omar Suleiman

https://yaqeeninstitute.org/team/omar-suleiman/

Bilal Phillips

http://bilalphilips.com/

Yasmin Mogahed

yasmin@yasminmogahed.com

Yasir Qadhi

http://www.memphisislamiccenter.org/programs/ayq/

Amr Khaled (Arabic)

http://www.amrkhaled.net/

Mustafa Hosny (Arabic)

http://mustafahosny.com/

Omar Abdel Kafy (Arabic)

http://abdelkafy.com/

Yusuf Estes

yusuf@shareislam.com

 

 

I hope I didn’t forget anyone. If I did please let me know so I can add them before they find out!

All my best to all my beautiful readers, and have a lovely blessed weekend.

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 TWO: 30 Good deeds In Ramadan

DAY TWO

Soooooooooooooo?

How was your first day of fasting? Oh my God tell me everything! (Unless you’re still fasting of course, in which case I’ll walk backwards slowly from your cranky fumes and we can talk after Iftar. Really it’s no problem)

On the bright side, most of us have had (or will be having) their first iftar with the whole family. I had mine with my parents, siblings, kids, in-laws, nieces and nephews, with the background music of my newest baby nephew, screaming at the top of his lungs. (I call him Prince Bayazeed, but that’s a different story for another day).

It’s such a blessing to be with your family around this time of year. And for those of you who aren’t, I’m sure Allah understands and sees how much you miss them, and will reward you trifold for that alone.

Okay, so now that I’ve woken up from my ‘First-Iftar’ coma with no major mental deficits, let’s talk about today’s act of kindness….

When Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was asked about the BEST act in Islam, his first reply was ‘feeding the poor’ (Bukhari and Muslim). And it’s Ramadan guys. Even the poor are fasting so it’s hunger over hunger.

 

poor

I guess it makes sense to start the BEST month with the BEST act so here it goes.
Ready?

Beginners Level:

Donate money to a food bank , a charity specialized in feeding poor families or an online organization like ‘Feed The Children’ or “Share The Meal

One of my favorites is The Egyptian Food Bank. You can text this number 9595 and they’ll charge your bill for an extra 5 pounds that goes to feeding the poor. I usually don’t type anything in the message, I just send the ‘red rose’ icon. I hope the male workers there don’t take it the wrong way looool.

Advanced Level:

-Add action to the good intention by joining one of those active groups getting together to cook and pack Ramadan meals for the poor.
-You can also make extra food at home and give it out yourself to the poor people in your neighborhood.
-Volunteer at one of those Soup kitchens (I’ve always wanted to do that) and of course you’d be extra lucky to find one specially developed for Muslims, especially if you live in the West. But that’s the good part, it doesn’t matter, hungry people are still in need no matter what religion they belong to, and for that you’ll surely be rewarded.

That’s all for now folks

Gotta go barge into my teen daughter’s room for no reason what so ever. You know, just to check on things and let her know she’s under surveillance!
I heard you’re not considered a real parent unless you do that LOL

Ramadan Kareem my lovelies

See you tomorrow inshAllah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

30 Acts Of Kindness This Ramadan

30 Acts Of Kindness This Ramadan

 

Ramadan Kareem everyone!

Remember me?
Well. I never thought I’d be the kind of person who gets super excited about Ramadan and fasting in this hot weather.

Yeah, I was right!

I actually usually completely disappear (or more like evaporate) in Ramadan, to hide in my own little cave, just asking Allah to help me survive one more day.
But this year, I plan on doing things differently inshAllah.
Why?

Okay, I’m gonna be honest here. I’ve been studying about healthy habits and positive states of mind and stuff, and I was forced to take an up close and personal look at my ‘emotional’ pattern around this time of year.

About a month before Ramadan, I start reminiscing about the peaceful vibes, the togetherness and how much I need some private, quality time with Allah. I’m all like ‘Soooooooo niceeeeeee!’

But then the closer we get to the first day the more I start panicking. I actually had moments when I’d remember we start fasting in three days and I run to drink water! Add a whole lot of anxiety attacks, palpitations and stress headaches to that scenario and you’ll get a vague idea of my mental state on the night of the first ‘sohoor’. Which reminds me, can we please have a moment of silence for those of us hooked on morning caffeine?

Thank you…

Okay, so to cut a long story short, I’ve decided to do something about my ‘fear of fasting’ phobia. I’m gonna change my habits and actually do my best to seize every single moment of this blessed month, not only through prayer and reading Qur’an, but also by doing one good deed or ‘act of kindness’ a day and I’d love to share my journey with you guys because

  1. I love my readers so much and want them all to get extra rewards, and
  2. When I go public with my goals, I usually stick to them if only just to save face LOL.

Acts-of-kindness

Starting tonight inshAllah, I’ll be putting up ideas for one good deed a day aimed at beginners, and will also options for ‘advance-level-fasting-is-so-easy-for-me’ kind of people to up their challenge-loving hormones too.

See you tonight inshAllah
You guys ready?
Bism Allah….

 

 

 

 

 

 

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….

The Amazing Race Of Ramadan: Episode One

Published on OnIslam.net
On 22nd June, 2015

Episode One: It’s An Inside Job!

heart and brain

Thundering slamming sounds of doors locking.
Roaring noises of steel chains clatter together.

Hearts melt as the smiles fill the skies…
And the golden gates are opened, filling the universe with the sparkling scents of Heaven….
People from all around the world gather together, excited and anxious to be amongst the frontrunners. From every race, age and color, the chosen contestants hold hands in peace; awaiting further reminders before they head off for the big win.

“Listen up people! This is it! The doors of Hell are locked, the devils are chained down and the gates of Paradise are wide open. Tonight we start the 30-day countdown of the Amazing Race! Let’s make EVERY. SECOND. COUNT!”

Millions of Muslims raise their hands to the sky and chant in unity “Allahu Akbar! God Is Great!”

“The more people you help along the way, the more you raise your chances of winning the ultimate reward, so stay close and have each others backs! Now please pick up a copy of your craziest imagination before heading to Conference Room A for a staff meeting with your organs. Good luck!”

Health Benefits Of Fasting: 

All the organs take their seats, giving full attention to the Heart that stands up and speaks first.
“I’d like to welcome you all to this great event. I’ll be your team leader and I hereby make it very clear that my approval is essential before every word and action you make. That means you Mr. Brain!”
“Hey! What did I do?” The Brain looks innocently confused.
“I would rather this meeting be productive so I won’t be pointing fingers! We are one family after all” The heart replies calmly. “If you look at the white board, you’ll see a list a job descriptions and goals for the Holy month. Let’s go through them quickly…”

  • Lungs: Good news! Fasting helps remove built up toxins there. This month is for us to literally take a ‘breather’.
  • Stomach: Will be using the foodless and waterless hours to work on removing any waste matter and allowing for better digestions. Good luck!
  • Blood vessels: Since less blood will flow to the digestive system, more blood will go to other tissues, removing the cholesterol lining in our blood vessels. Well, about time!
  • Intestines: Like the stomach, will finally use this period for detoxification.
  • Kidneys: Will absorb more salt and water, which will help stabilize blood pressure, improve the organ’s functions and avoid kidney stones. Congratulations!
  • Immune System: Fasting reduces free radical damage, regulates inflammatory conditions in the body, reduces stress on the internal system so we can fight infections and starve many types of cancer cells. (Impressive, ha?)
  • Complexion: While fasting, the body has free time to focus on its regenerative energies on other systems like clearing up skin, sweat glands and preventing acne. Yeah that’s why we glow in Ramadan.
  • Liver: Reserved ‘Glycogen’ in the liver will be broken into glucose, which all of us organs can use as extra fuel or energy. Thanks pal! We owe you one.
  • Body Fat: When the supply of glycogen runs out, we turn to stored body fat, breaking it into fatty acids and converting that to useable energy. Let’s lose some of that stubborn weight this summer guys!
  • Brain: Fasting boosts the levels of serotonin, the ‘happy hormone’ that beats depression. It also enhances the production of proteins that activate brain stem cells, promotes brain functions, and protects it from diseases such as Alzheimer’s. We’re all counting on you this month dude!

    “Ummm Mr. Brain? Are you there?”
    “Ouch! Horrible Headache! Ahhhhh this really hurts!” The Brain screams as loud sirens shake the room.

Attention! Brace yourself while system resets. I repeat. All organs brace yourselves. This Is An Automated message.

“What’s happening?” The Kidney twins panic. “Is that an Earthquake? Oh my God we’re getting dizzy!”
“No that’s the Brain going into shock. It’s one of the expected side effects of adjusting to the new system” The Heart replies. “Guys if you’ll excuse us, I need to talk to the Brain privately please.”

Mental Benefits Of Fasting:

The Heart puts its hand on the Brain’s shoulder and speaks softly.

“Listen to me. I know the headache hurts but it will only last a day or two till the body adjusts to the fasting process. I need you to stay strong. This will pass I promise! Just breathe it out”
“I want pain killers, coffee, sweets, anything! Please!” The Brain holds its head.
“A war is raging inside coz you’re physically feeling hunger and thirst to the fullest. But I’m in charge now and I will see you through this. You’ll thank me later and here’s why…”

  • Increased focus, mental clarity and creativity.
  • Fasting is a powerful tool in maintaining a healthy mental state through clearing out suppressed ‘emotional baggage’.
  • Controlling impulsive urges which enhances wisdom.
  • Discontinuing bad habits and overcoming addictions
  • Fasting improves quality of sleep.
  • Ultimate awareness and living the ‘now’ helps you feel the ‘joy’.
  • Strengthening your will and inner power.

“You can do this. That’s the training you need to survive another year in the outside world. Together you and me, we will win this race every single day, because we have the ultimate goal in mind: Pleasing Allah and attaining the highest levels of Paradise inshAllah. You’re not alone pal”

“Oh you’re so sweet. How come we don’t spend more time together? Listening to you is really soothing… You’re so pure and genuine!” The Brain smiles.
“Tell me something I don’t know” The Heart winks back jokingly. “Now let’s catch up with the rest in Conference Room B. The ‘Soul’ will give the final speech.”

Spiritual Benefits Of Fasting

Dressed in a sheer white suit, the ‘Inner Being’ welcomes each organ with a rose. The sound of Qur’an in the background fills the room with tranquility. After the recitation is done, the ‘Soul’ stands up and asks the audience to close their eyes.

“Shhhhhhhh…. Listen to the silence inside of you. Separate from the worldly life for a moment and focus your attention inwards…

  • The body starts to feel lighter, senses are heightened and our beliefs and principles are crystalized. It’s Allah’s pleasure we are seeking.
  • This is the chance to embrace your new beginning. For even those with the worst past can create the best future.
  • The energies of the universe are bright and colorful in Ramadan. Your aura is cleansed and activated. Polish the mirror of your heart to reflect the ‘Divine Light’.
  • Feel the presence of your Lord and the angels around guarding you and recording your deeds. Allow yourself to absorb this month’s blessed glory.

    “Fasting is more than abstaining from food and water; it’s a spiritual journey towards Jannah. Let’s work as one team and promise ourselves to stay on the right path this year folks. Thank you for being here and good luck!”

I overhear the chitchats of millions of contestants on their way out of the auditoriums. Sorry, but I couldn’t help eavesdropping on some random conversations

“Man! That was impressive! It’s like all the organs are one happy family. How come we aren’t as close to our own parents and siblings outside Ramadan?”

“Tell me about it. Like my brother is so annoying I fantasize about punching him in the face sometimes.”

“I don’t remember the last time we all had a meal together!”

“My husband is married to his social media. I think if I disappear, the only way he will notice is if someone posts it on Facebook!”

Hmmmmm…I run quickly to fetch the blueprints for the next phase of the race and I chuckle with amusement!

Episode Two: ‘Joy Is A Six-Letter Word’.
Coming right up…. Stay tuned.

Lilly S. Mohsen

What No One Would Dare Say About Ramadan!

image
“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