Tag Archives: friday

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 “Ex” Factor: Welcome To The Single Moms Club

Published On OnIslam.com
April 2015

single mom


The ‘Ex’ Factor:
Welcome To The Single Moms Club

Ringggggg Ringggggggggg
“Hello, welcome to the ‘Single Moms’ club, how can I help?
Yes that’s correct. We work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, for the rest of our lives.
No, I’m sorry, there are no support groups or training courses available at the moment.
No, I’m afraid there’s no monetary compensation either. No social life, no holidays, no bonuses and no extra perks are included in our package.
What’s the upside you ask? Hmmmm we are still trying to figure that out. But on the bright side, we do get a lot of criticism, judgmental looks and some down right humiliating sympathy! Would you like to fill an application to join the club?
Umm hello?”

I remember as a little girl, the word ‘divorce’ caused more of a shock than finding out tooth fairies don’t exist! But at this day and age, marriages reaching a sudden halt are as common as car crashes on highways; we hear about it one minute and go back to munching on chips the next. Families are falling apart left and right, and it’s no secret that the most popular assumption always puts the wife at fault. That’s exactly the moment when these divorced single mothers start feeling like they’re ‘alone’ alone, suddenly left to pick up the pieces, and walk the walk of shame amongst a society that mostly tends to assume these women must have done something horrible to deserve such a gloomy fate.

The Start Of An Inevitable Ending:

Ending it all is hardly ever an easy decision. A husband and wife don’t just wake up on a beautiful morning and say, “You know what sounds like so much fun? A divorce!”. In fact it’s a gruesomely difficult step that leaves them both scarred for a long time. No one is excited about failing, but sometimes you’re left with no other option than to let go and walk away. And as much as a wife is expected to stuff her feelings down her throat and suffer silently for the sake of the kids, sometimes she just can’t do it. Sometimes the divorce isn’t even her choice to start with! No one knows the battles and struggles that happen behind closed doors except for God, the husband and the wife.

And maybe the mother in law.
And yes probably the best friends, too.
The neighbors also since they stick their ears to the doors and listen to the fights.
But other than that no one really knows LOL

It’s so NOT a joking matter. Being a single mom myself, I know how people treat and judge divorced women. They’re practically viewed as outcasts, vultures trying to steal husbands or just vulnerable easy targets. The news sets off a danger sign flashing on their foreheads, as if they’ve become a different species ready to attack planet Earth! But does anyone really understand what these women have been through before it all happened? Is there perhaps a book named “The Upside Of Divorce’ that we can learn the rules from? Whether it’s because the husband is abusive or because the wife can’t cook or the families don’t get along, who are we to judge if the reasons are valid or not? In one instance, our beloved Prophet himself did not even ask questions….

Narrated by Ibn `Abbas: The wife of Thabit bin Qais came to the Prophet () and said, “O Allah’s Messenger ()! I do not blame Thabit for defects in his character or his religion, but I, being a Muslim, dislike to behave in un-Islamic manner (if I remain with him).” On that Allah’s Messenger () said (to her), “Will you give back the garden which your husband has given you (as Mahr)?” She said, “Yes.” Then the Prophet () said to Thabit, “O Thabit! Accept your garden, and divorce her once.” (Sahih al-Bukhari 5273)

 The Ugly Truth:

So am I saying every unhappy woman should ask for a divorce and feel good about it? No! ABSOLUTELY NOT! Divorce is permissible in Islam but you know what else? It’s ‘detestable’ and for very good reasons, too. It’s the kids who pay the price, and the grandparents who drown in sorrow and the mother who is left with an even bigger burden to carry. She is faced with the ugly truth that no one could portray except those who have been down that same path; the realization that facing the world alone with a family to take care of is no walk in the park. It’s excruciatingly difficult in a way that’s just indescribable. A woman feels lost and unshielded, even if she has her family’s support. She is expected to be both the ‘strict dad’ and the ‘soft mom’ at the same time, which really confuses the kids. She spends her mornings anxious to make ends meet, her evenings listening to the kids’ demands and complaints, ‘mom, mommy, mommmm, mommy’ and then spends most of her nights scared something bad might happen or just exhausted from playing too many roles at once. It takes unimaginable strength to be able to survive that without breaking down.

Try living in the West and explaining to the handyman it’s un-Islamic to be alone with him while he’s doing his job. We aren’t allowed to date potential grooms, let alone the mess caused by anxious parents, ex-husbands and ex-wives. All the options are downright agonizing:

  • Raise the kids alone.
  • Marry someone else and hope the kids won’t resent him.
  • Go back to the ‘Ex’ and risk failing again

Don’t Join Just Don’t Judge:

A part of me hopes this article would deter anyone contemplating divorce. Another part wishes that people would see the truth; single moms did not call the quits to find ‘happiness’, many of them just wanted to escape the ‘unhappiness’. Let’s stop digging for dirt and offer a helping hand instead. It’s high time Muslims all around the world started embracing their sisters who didn’t ‘fail’ but rather faced downfalls like everyone else. It’s time for fathers to step out of their ‘honorary guest’ roles of either spoiling the kids out of guilt or moving on and forgetting they exist all together. Things need to change. Let’s stop punishing each other for our choices and misfortunes, and be there for one another, the way God intended us to….

To all the members of the ‘Single Moms’ club, I’m sorry you had to join….

Some of us are doing the time without doing the crime and no it’s not easy. In my heart I believe we survive through the strength God gives us. So don’t worry about the children, Lady Mary raised Prophet Jesus alone. Don’t worry about ending up alone, Lady Khadija was married twice before she ended up with our beloved Prophet (PBUH). Don’t worry about the gossip, Lady Aisha went through the worst trial of all before she was exonerated. We don’t compare ourselves to these blessed women but we certainly find hope in their stories. So stand tall and stay on the right path. Raise devout Muslim kids who respect their fathers and understand just how Merciful Islam is. Take care of your loved ones’ hearts and don’t worry… Allah will take care of yours…

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

Are Your Dreams BIG Enough?

Published on Productive Muslim
Feb 25th, 2015
This is the original uncut version

Are Your Dreams Big Enough?

Surat Al Kahf Series- Part Four
The Finale

Ladies and gentlemen we are approaching the end of this series. Please fasten your seatbelts and make sure your seats are in the upright position. On behalf of the cabin crew I would like to thank you for taking this journey with us and hope to see you here again soon….

Okay fine, I use humor to hide my true feelings, and today I have a tiny heartache because I’m really going to miss talking about Surat Al Kahf. But on a lighter note, while researching the final story, which is about a king named ‘Dhul Qarnayn’ (The man of the two horns) I found out that a possible reason for his title is his hairdo; two ponytails that looked like horns (That cheered me up honestly!)

Others say it’s because he reached the two ‘horns’ of the sun; east and west. In fact there are many interpretations of his title and Allah knows best which is the true one. It’s his fascinating story that concerns us most since we are asked to read it every single Friday for the rest of our lives.

Dhul Qarnayn was a legendary righteous king whom Allah had given immense power. He used his gift to travel around the globe, encountering on his journey a number of different nations whom he helped reform. One of his greatest achievements is building a dam to protect the entire world from the terror of two monster tribes named Gog and Magog, whose penetration through that solid wall will one of the ten major signs of Judgment Day. His story ends abruptly but I know is that Allah mentioned Dhul Qarnayn’s story in about sixteen holy verses from the Qur’an for us to learn something crucial. So here it goes….

Dreams Are The Seeds Of Power

Now this is just a speculation on my part so please don’t quote me on it. I can’t help but imagine this amazing king’s childhood and in my mind there was an incident that went something like this:

“Mommy when I grow up I’m going to change the world!”

“That’s so sweet honey. Now finish your vegetables please!”

“I mean it… My dream is to go on the most magnificent adventure of all time. I want to travel around the world and change it to the better…”

“I am so proud of you my son! You are destined for greatness my son. Never give up on that beautiful dream.”

Perhaps that wasn’t the exact conversation but one thing I’m sure of is that this worldwide journey did not happen by chance. Once Allah gave him the means and the power, Dhul Qarnayn did not waste any time. He used his passion for adventures to help people left and right, and followed his dreams. It’s that kind of aspiration that can conquer the unimaginable! This is what legendary leaders are made out of; heroic missions, consuming passion and a dream too big for the human mind to absorb. So tell me, how do you react to your children’s unrealistic dreams? More importantly, which of your ambitions makes you jump out of bed in the morning? Dhul Qarnayn’s story is both an inspiration for those who have a goal, and a big slap on the face for those who don’t. If your dream falls short of pursuing the impossible for the sake of Allah, then… well… good luck and have a nice boring life! The ultimate dream is not tangled within this life, it’s to reach the highest Heavens and by God, don’t let anything stop you from working hard to get there. That’s what makes Muslims oh so special… We have an end in mind.

Justice Is The Essence Of Power

Dhul Qarnayn’s first visit mentioned in the Qur’an was to a group of people living in the far west. His massively gigantic army and the features of his superiority were simply indescribable. Allah said,

Indeed We established him upon the earth, and We gave him to everything a way.” (16:84)

The word ‘everything’ in this ayah leaves me speechless. This king was, by far, the most powerful man on earth! So what did he do when he first arrived? You’d think he would confiscate the city’s treasures and set his military generals up in fancy castles. He would have a huge ceremony and command the big heads to bow to him just to show who is boss! Surprisingly, the only demonstration of his power came in the form of establishing justice and enforcing a new constitution that treated everyone the same. No matter what your status was, if you did good you’d be rewarded and if you did wrong you’d be punished. Clear and simple.

Anyone who ever became successful like a president or any other authority figure started the path with a big dream, but without fairness and integrity, no one can withhold power for long. Once your dream of having children of your own for example comes true, if you don’t treat them justly, that dream will turn into a nightmare when you lose your kids’ love and respect. Reaching a higher rank needs taking consistent steps towards success, and the most eminent one of those is justice.

Abu Musa reported: Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “It is out of reverence to Allah in respecting an aged Muslim, and the one who commits the Qur’an to memory and does not exaggerate pronouncing its letters nor forgets it after memorizing, and to respect the just ruler“.

 And yet which of today’s leaders truly deserve our respect…?

 When There’s ‘Will’ There A Way

On another trip, Dhul Qarnayn came in contact with a terrified nation where he was offered payment in return for protection from the tribes of Gog and Magog, who were relentlessly corrupting their land. This king’s reputation and global power had obviously exceeded him, for these people knew him by name. Him being honorable, Dhul Qarnayn refused to take their money to build the huge wall and asked to be aided by their manpower instead. Now these people knew exactly what needed to be done, they were rich, strong and capable, they had solutions, natural resources and workers, and even though they were dying every day, they did nothing about it. What they lacked was the will and determination…. Two things we need to instill in our children if we ever hope for a brighter future. Dhul Qarnayn urged these people to work and literally saved the world, he put most of today’s leaders to shame, the presidents who celebrate their power with drinks and extravagant parties while other nations like Palestine and Syria are suffering and withering away. How is this king’s story not making the blood race in our veins? How are we still snuggling on our coaches all day watching TV and eating chips when each and every one of us is an authority figure somewhere whether at work or at home or even at school?! I swear to Allah there is NO time for free time! So tell me, are your dreams big enough?

With even minimum knowledge of the one-eyed Dajjal (Anti-Christ) you’ll easily figure out that the stage is already being set for his arrival. The wrong has become so normal that people are ashamed of doing what’s right. We’ve become so self involved to the point that the closest relationships we have are not with our families but with our IPhones and IPods and IPads, the keyword being ‘I’ or ‘eye’, whichever way you want to look at it. This hideous being will come to test our faith, blind us with wealth, confuse us with his knowledge and assume power over the whole world, starting with taking control of our own minds. Instead of making every minute count, we are counting the minutes till the day is over…. We are wasting precious time that we will NEVER get back!

Yes this sounds like a reprimanding lecture, but we are all in the same boat here, myself included. How do we get out of this rut? I’m glad you asked (Finally!)

 You And Me: We Can Make A Difference

Revolve your life around a dream that pleases Allah and lifts up this beautiful ummah. Don’t be scared. Dream BIG! And as you take each step forward remember to stay humble, for that’s the only way you’ll ever learn and succeed. Hold on to your principles and your faith, because no matter how common wrong has become, it still doesn’t make it right. Fight for justice. Speak up and make a difference. Step out into this world with a zest that will overwhelm people around you. Take pride in applying our beloved Prophet’s advice and show the world how truly amazing you are.

To all the Muslims around the world, this is the final wake up call.

Dream…. The most enchantingly marvelous dreams… and then wake up and be the proud powerful leaders you are meant to be.

Guide and lead the way….
You can do it.

I know you can…

Lilly S. Mohsen

Three Strikes And You’re OUT!

Published on Productive Muslim, Feb 18th 2015

Below is the original uncut version

Three Strikes And
You’re OUT!

Surat Al Kahf Series- Part Three

The It’s one of those days….
The alarm doesn’t go off. You’re late for an urgent meeting. There’s no edible food in the fridge and you’re out of coffee. You stomp your feet on the way out and maybe rip your pants. The car won’t start so you take a cab with a chatty driver who takes a wrong turn and you end up stuck in traffic for what seems like a whole week!
You just want to scream: “Why do BAD things happen to GOOD people?”

I remember feeling the same way when my son’s school closed down and with his autism; a change in routine was no walk in the park! Being a single mom, I honestly broke down, thinking Allah was testing me at my weakest…. And then I learnt about Prophet Musa’s story with Al Khidr, and why we read about it in Surat Al Kahf every Friday. Since then, a blessed light cleared my vision, and nothing was ever the same again….

Recap?
Okay but let’s make it brief.
So a man asks Prophet Musa who is the most knowledgeable person alive and the blessed Prophet automatically answers that he was, since he’s the Messenger of God. But Allah shows Prophet Musa there’s someone else (a man named Al Khidr) with even more knowledge and Prophet Musa humbly embarks on a long journey to find him and learn from him. Al Khidr instructs the Prophet not to ask any questions during the learning process, and he tries to oblige, expect it was very difficult not to wonder why the wise Al Khidr would wreck the poor people’s ship, kill a young boy and fix a wall in a town where he was obviously not welcomed. Prophet Musa’s legitimate curiosity got the best of him, and Al Khidr finally explained that each act he did might have seemed horrible or confusing on the outside, but in reality it was for a very good cause. I guess this story is the origin of the phrase ‘blessings in disguise’.
What does this have to do with productivity, though?
I’ll let the following golden lessons answer this question…

Lesson One: The Only Way To Get More Is Give More:

If that makes any sense! But before I start with the first story of the poor people on the ship, can I just pause to admire Prophet Musa for a little bit? Do you understand who he was?! The chosen one! Yet he travelled a long way to learn from someone else. He could have easily went up to Al Khidr and said, “Hey! I spoke to Allah Himself. Can you top that?” But instead he asked polity to follow him! That kind of humility is the first step to achieving any goal. In order to learn and get ahead in life, you need to be humble enough to listen and absorb information from others.

The journey has a lot of action and movement. Al Khidr did not sit Prophet Moses down and then scribble words on the white board to teach him. No, he took his student out on live experiences. The first was on board of a ship that belonged to a group of poor people, and they were kind enough to welcome Al Khidr and Prophet Musa and help them reach their destination. Al Khidr made a hole in the ship because he knew from Allah there was a king behind them about to forcefully seize it. The very same ship these people used to help others, Allah preserved it for them.
And now everything makes senses, for when you give help, money, time or service from the heart, you’ll only get more, never lose.

Our beloved Prophet Muhammad was so right when he said:

Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as saying:
“Charity does not in any way decrease the wealth and the servant who forgives Allah adds to his respect, and the one who shows humility Allah elevates him in the estimation (of the people).”

Lesson Two: Nothing Is Lost, Only Replaced

This story is a hard pill swallow. I mean killing a child? Seriously? It’s every parent’s worst nightmare, and here he is Al Khidr murdering an innocent soul because the boy might grown up and disobey his parents. How do we know if the heartache of losing a child isn’t worse than him misbehaving?!
Well, Allah knows.
And if you’ve ever watched a young man hit his dad or become an atheist or a young Muslim girl eloping with her boyfriend and causing a huge scandal, or becoming a drug addict, you will totally understand that sometimes death is a mercy when compared to other constantly draining disasters.
The murdered boy will most probably go to Jannah and his parents will only have the sweetest memories of him before having a new child, who will fill their lives with joy.
Never does Allah take anything away without giving back something better.

Lesson Three: Our Goodness Survives Even After We Are Gone:

Prophet Moses and Al Khidr set out to a town of inhospitable people, the kind who wouldn’t hand you a glass of water if you were in burning building. Imagine what these people would do once they find a buried treasure? Would they really give it to its rightful owners? Definitely not! Al Khidr built a wall to preserve the treasure under it till the orphan boys grow up, because that’s when they will need it the most. He explained his actions later, saying he did that for the sake of their father, who was a righteous man.

Oh how we worry and pile the money up fearing our children will struggle after we pass away. All the trust funds and life insurances to secure the future hold nothing next to how we choose to live before we die. Allah promises us many rewards if we stay on the right path, and one of them is financial security for our families when we can longer provide for them. Islam is anything but self-centered; it teaches us we are all connected, and every little good deed we do will have a ripple effect to benefit our loved ones and many others.

Okay my turn to go all mushy and soppy!
Do you feel the sentiments in this beautiful chapter? Do you see how Allah cares for our feelings and softly soothes our hearts? In the first story, he takes away the fear and anger of losing the ship. In the second he takes away the sadness and disappointment in a rebellious child, and in the third he takes away the anxiety of worrying about the future. This is our Lord… The Most Merciful and the Most Compassionate. If we really knew Him, or allowed ourselves that honor of learning about Him, we will never think that bad things could happen to His good people. They’re only hidden blessings….

I found out later my son’s previous school shut down because the teachers used to hit the special needed kids and abuse them, knowing they can never report back to their parents. My son now goes to a new school, where the teachers are angels sent to us from heaven. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him this happy, and I’m grateful for everything he’s learning and for who he’s becoming now. The blessing is clear and vivid now; no longer in disguise….

This Holy chapter teaches us so much more than what meets the eye. How assumptions toy with our minds and lead us to the darkest of places. How giving others the benefit of the doubt is a forgotten ‘sunnah’ and shows us why we panic and breakdown, because we have zero knowledge of what the future beholds, and that’s the third trial the Anti-Christ will come with. The Dajjal will test our faith, blind us with wealth and impress us with his knowledge. He will be able bring back the dead for God’s sake! The only way to survive this tribulation is to remain humble and sincere. The power of knowledge is in knowing there’s a lot we don’t know…. It’s in true submission to the Great Lord and trusting in His will and timing….

Hey! What about the title and the three strikes? You forgot to mention we only get a number of chances and we must learn from our mistakes and that patience is the key to every good!

Actually I had no idea about that.
I just thought the title was fun 🙂

Lilly S. Mohsen

When Money Talks, Shut It UP!

Published by ProductiveMuslim.com on Feb 11th, 2015
Below is the original uncut version

When Money Talks
Shut it UP!

Surat Al Kahf Series- Part Two

“No I’m just a normal person like everyone else! Granted `I live in a 17 floor mansion, but you know, it’s very simple. The walls are gold plated and the fireplaces and crystal lights are all voice activated. I got my bedroom suite for only 250,000 pounds! Pretty good deal, huh? But anyways, enough about me! Now tell me something about you”

You probably met one of those before; the kind of people who don’t necessarily brag out loud, but instead work it into the conversation to let everyone know how ‘well’ they’re doing. They feign that shocked look when they hear that not every person in the world owns a private jet or summers in Cannes with all the celebrities. Then they’ll pout as they try to make you feel better about your miserable life, all the while adding more insult to injury, with details about how they spend lonely nights on their 20 feet yachts and light their cancerous cigars with hundred dollar bills, rubbing their riches in your face till your teeth hurt.

Well, on second thought, I really hope you’ve never met anyone like that. I must say it’s not a very pleasant experience.

And even though these people might brag about modern day luxuries, their three-step technique is as old as time itself, and is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an more than 1400 years ago in a chapter Muslims are required to read every single Friday. It’s the story of the man with two gardens in Surat Al Kahf, and yes, we read it weekly for a reason!

So let’s quickly recap the events of the story. Two men have a conversation in which the richer one boasts about his wealth, denies Judgment Day and lets arrogance overcome him. The less fortunate man reminds him it can all perish in an instant, and soon enough, the wealthy man’s estate falls to pieces before his eyes. The End!

STEP ONE: Pretentiousness Turns To Conceit

Perhaps they were neighbors, but companionship was all those two men had in common. One’s resources were scarce to the point of negligible, while the other man, oh my, he had it all! Endless palm trees surrounded his vast acres of lush grapevines and huge field of crops. A river gushed between his two heaven-like gardens to eliminate the problem of irrigation. His estate didn’t manage itself obviously, which is how we know he probably had hundreds of employees working for him. This man’s empire produced crops and fruits at full capacity, with 0% probability of lost or damaged goods. The money rolled in endlessly and well, this man was evidently one of those ‘if you got it flaunt it’ kind of guy!

Yet the wealthy man did not go up to his poor companion and boast out of nowhere!

It wasn’t like:

“Knock knock”

“Who is there?”

“Rich!”

“Rich who?”

“Richer than you are! Bye”

No, Allah specifically explains that he let it slip in a conversation both men were already engaged in. And what was the poor man’s response? Nothing! I mean what would you say when someone adamantly tries to make you feel less of a person because you’re not rich enough? Planting a seed of inadequacy in other people’s hearts is the first step downhill. You can’t drag someone down unless you’re lower than they are, and that’s what showing off turns us into; conceited, mean and low.

STEP TWO: Conceit Turns To Violation

For some reason, arrogant people with high statuses hear stories of disasters around the world and brush it off completely as if they’re not susceptible to any of that. Their wealth blinds them into thinking they’re superior in this world, and consequently the first runner ups for bigger treasures in the Hereafter. That’s arrogance on top of arrogance! At this point, they become unfair not only to people, but to themselves, for they forget everything they own was ‘given’ to them with Allah’s will. The poor man reminds his rich neighbor that his arrogant attitude is a form of ‘disbelief’ in the Lord, and explains that all his wealth can disappear in the blink of an eye.

(Confession: I have to say every time I read this part of Surat Al Kahf, I thought the poor man was asking Allah to take the rich man’s wealth away, and it really confused me why a believer would do that. I would read that part quickly and block out my disappointment in the poor man. For years I never thought of digging deeper and finding out the real meaning of this verse. I guess that was lack of humility on my part, thinking my interpretation was all there is to know! Now that I did my homework, I realize I was so wrong it’s ridiculous. Sorry Allah)

Wow, that was hard to admit!

Conceit abuses others, but before it does, it violates our own souls; the pure loving hearts we once possessed become tarnished with self-importance. A true believer understands that poverty is a test from Allah, but so is wealth! It’s your humble attitude that counts, not your bank account.

STEP THREE: Violation Turns To Destruction

This poor man did not ask Allah to terminate the wealthy man’s kingdom, but let’s face it, most people would feel violated by the insinuations that they’re not ‘good enough’, and those negative feelings will definitely yield negative vibes. Take for a example a poor woman, who can barely pay school tuition, listening to her rich cousin go into excruciating detail about how tiring it was to throw such a lavish party for her daughter’s sixteenth birthday. She complains the tulips flown all the way from Holland were not the right color, and the giveaways were not engraved with each guest’s name, like Oh My GOD, how embarrassing?!! Let’s pause here for a second, how do you think that poor woman listening to this would feel? She would probably start harboring anger and hatred towards all rich people, wouldn’t she?

The wealthy man’s empire tumbled to the ground, and in my humble opinion, that is also a symbol of destruction in general, whether in material things or in society as a whole. This poor woman will probably feel pressured to throw her own daughter a party too, with money she doesn’t have! Violating people’s meager lives poisons their thoughts with the need to compete; to live up to shallow expectations and that only creates hatred and jealousy.

Golden Tip:

One of my beloved Islamic scholars became so popular that when he visited one country the people were so excited to meet him they gathered around his car when he arrived and lifted the whole car up, chanting his name! When he came back home, he was found on his knees cleaning the floors of a public bathroom. When his followers gasped he cried and said, “Leave me be! I’m terrified of becoming arrogant. I’m here to remind myself that I’m just a mere slave of Allah.”

What about us? How do we remain humble in a society that shoves competition and immodesty down our throats?

Well, our beautiful Islam left no questions unanswered, and our beloved Prophet’s teachings (PBUH) are overwhelmingly and beautifully profound. Amongst the ways to remain humble is to feed the hungry, visit the sick and have patience when others disagree with you. But two of the most characteristics I have personally found very effective and are truly humbling are RESPECT and MERCY.

 

Narrated Abdullah Ibn Amr Ibn al-‘As:

The Prophet () said: Those who do not show mercy to our young ones and do not realize (respect) the right of our elders are not from us.”

 

The Anti-Christ (Dajjal) will come with four ultimate and extremely difficult challenges. It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said: “The Messenger of Allah, used to seek refuge (with Allah) from the torment of Hell, the torment of the grave, and Al-Masih Al-Dajjal.”

We are up for some huge trials people! The first challenge is FAITH and the second one is WEALTH!

(No I’m not telling you what the other two are yet!)

The treasures will follow the Dajjal like ‘swarms of bees’, so if wealth impresses or blinds us now, guess how much trouble we will be in at that time! But Allah is kind, He gave us all the aid we need in Surat Al Kahf, and gave us the key to the trial of wealth in the verses after the story; it’s remembering that all of this is temporary, for we will all stand before Him soon and testify to our deeds.

Seventy or eighty years on Earth are nothing compared to eternity in jannah inshAllah…

So if you want to be productive instead of destructive, whenever you hear that voice in your head of money talking, do yourself a favor and shut it up! Money comes and goes…. But the best is still ahead of us, and will last forever…..

Just hang in there…

Lilly S. Mohsen

The Productive Sleepers. (Seriously?)

Published By ProductiveMuslim.com (4th Feb. 2015)
Below is the original uncut version.

THE PRODUCTIVE SLEEPERS!
(SERIOUSLY?)

Surat Al Kahf Series- Part One

Yeah right! A story about SLEEPING for hundreds of years teaches Muslims all about PRODUCTIVITY! Are you okay, Lilly?

Let’s recap the events together, shall we? A number of young men are guided to believe in the One and Only Lord and because they lived in a city of disbelievers they decide to escape to the cave, fearing execution after calling people to monotheism. Allah Almighty makes the boys fall asleep for 309 years (300 solar and 9 lunar years), and then they wake up to a new society filled with faith. It’s a miracle and it’s amazing but hey, as far as the story goes THAT IS IT! We learn so many lessons from it but ‘productivity’ isn’t one of them, since ummm HELLO, the boys were SLEEPING! So don’t you dare make things up! Repent to Allah sister, I’m sure He will forgive you for trying to distort such SIMPLE facts!

Isn’t that what most readers would think?

Now, before we start, allow me to take a moment to make a Du’aa. I know you’re all busy people but trust me its EXREMELY urgent! “My Dearest Most Merciful Lord… I already told everyone the sleepers of Surat Al Kahf were productive, including sister Zaynab Chinoy! She’s the chief editor You know! So as You can see, this is a very embarrassing situation! I’m begging You Allah please help me and bestow upon me some brilliance to prove my point…”

Okay here it goes….

Lesson One: Productivity Is Using Your Time Wisely

Roughly explained, productivity is the ability to efficiently yield positive and useful results in an allotted amount of time. We tend to relate this aptitude to grownups. We don’t really expect the younger generation to naturally be productive, unless we actually pin them down to the floor and make them do something useful with their time. We have this connotation in our heads that teenagers are up to no good. That’s the age where they go wild and get together to ‘live it up’ before real responsibilities kick in, and even though us parents try to restrain them, somehow deep inside we think it’s okay to cut them some slack. I mean, they’re TEENAGERS, their hormones are literally holding their brains hostages! The sleepers of the cave were also teenagers, and Allah specified that explicitly in the Holy Qur’an. They lived in a city with no rules and there’s no mention of any strict parents with unwavering curfews, is there? Imagine what boys their age would get together to do? They didn’t live in a fairytale; they lived in a real corrupt environment with half naked girls, partying, booze and the whole shebang! But instead they chose to get together in the remembrance of Allah. They used their time wisely, learning their religion and planning on how to spread the true word of Allah. If that isn’t productivity, I don’t know what is!

Lesson Two: Have a Solid Objective:

The boys were an integral part of the community up until their lives were in danger. They never fled the scene just because they were different. They invested in themselves and had a clear-cut mission of reviving their immoral society. It makes me wonder about the stories we hear today; girls taking off their hijab because they couldn’t ‘fit in’, and boys drinking alcohol and smoking up because otherwise they won’t be ‘cool’! The wannabes of today have no mission and no goals and that’s not Islam. We are a unique ummah because we have an obligation to benefit ourselves and others, and we have an ‘end’ in mind, which is the jannah inshAllah. Yes we want to be successful and wealthy and popular, but we don’t stop there like others do. Stand up and remember who you are! A true Muslim is a leader, someone who can make a change in this world and isn’t selfish or scared or embarrassed of his or her identity. There’s no time for free time people! If these teenagers could do it, so can we! Get up, start working, learning and teaching and always keep your eyes on the ultimate goal… Pleasing Allah.

Lesson Three: Dead Ends Don’t Exist!

We tried, it didn’t work, no one is listening so that’s it! Who is up for a steamy game of PlayStation?

Unless your life is on the line, it’s NOT over! The boys tried delivering their message until they ran out of options, but did they stop there? Did they eventually conclude: “Hey, let’s go to the cave and nap for 309 years!”. No, they chose the discomfort of living in a scary secluded cave, and as far as they were concerned, it was a temporary pause before coming up with a new plan. When they woke up, thinking they slept for a day or so, they said… “Indeed, if they come to know of you, they will stone you or return you to their religion. And never would you succeed, then – ever.” (Surat Al Kahf, verse 20, Holy Qur’an) You bet they were still on their mission to ‘succeed’! The threat of death didn’t deter them. These young men were smart! They decided to proceed with caution, so as not to blow their covers. Having faith in Allah and a goal towards pleasing Him are the first steps, but an essential part of being productive is to calculate the risks and never quit. Lesson Four: You Need Your Vision To Hit The Target! So were the boys wearing shoes or sandals? What was their dog’s name? How many were they exactly? What difference does it make?! How will these questions help you reach your goal more efficiently? Focus on what’s importance and don’t distract yourself with minute details that Allah Himself did not bother mentioning! Instead He dedicated a whole verse to people’s speculations about the real number of the sleepers, whether they’re 3 or 5 or 7 and guess what? He never gives an answer because it doesn’t matter. That’s not the point of the story! You want to be productive? Stop ‘guessing the unknown’, for it will be like trying to hit a target when you can’t even see it. Distractions will only blind you from acing your test. Allah honored the sleepers by mentioning in the Qur’an and for us to be reminded every Friday of how they guarded their faith. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said this chapter protects us from the ultimate trial of the Dajjal (the Anti-Christ) who will come with four challenges; one of them is testing our faith….

Hey, wait a second, what about the other three?

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Oops! Rain check?

Lilly S. Mohsen