Tag Archives: friends

Inside The Therapist’s Office: Episode Four

Office

 

Mr. Ramzy was one of those incredibly rich businessmen; sharp, smart and intimidating. Forty-eight years ago, when he got his first job at a carwash, he knew in his heart he would make it all the way to the top. And he did! Today, he is the CEO of the well-known ‘Ramzy Empire’, owns tens of mansions, private jets, yachts and multi-billion dollar businesses on almost every continent. And even though his perfect life is sparkling proof that dreams DO come true, the man was dying inside slowly, and he had no idea why…

“I did it on my own! I overcame unimaginable roadblocks! I made something out of nothing, I built a whole kingdom and trained the world’s new leaders! I see the future before it happens and I create lucrative opportunities out of thin air!” Mr. Ramzy stated proudly.

“Was it you who did that on your own? Or was it God?’ I asked.

“Oh don’t get me wrong, it’s all God’s doing of course! But it was my hard work, achievements and me being thankful to Him. That’s why I’m different. Suceess stories don’t just happen by chance! I’ve dealt with all kinds of people, and through experience I’ve seen how some of them fail out of laziness, envy, and bitterness. I know how people can be down right ungrateful… even the ones I’ve generously and selflessly helped….”

 

He had seen her a couple of times at the office. There was something about this young woman’s mysterious aura that distinguished her from anyone else he’d met. He approached her a couple of times but she politely rejected him. She wasn’t the least bit intimated by his status or money! He found out later her mom was one of his employees and so Ramzy requested to see her immediately.

 

“How have you been Lila?” Mr. Razmy asked the old woman, before crossing his legs and lighting a Cuban cigar.

“I’ve been very good thanks to Allah. I don’t know how to show you my appreciation for offering me this job and for all your help You’ve been very kind to me since my husband died!” Lila said.

“Your husband was a good man! He was one of my best employees!” Mr. Ramzy replied. “So let me get straight to the point. I’m sure you’d be very happy to know that I’ve decided to get married again!”

“That’s wonderful. Congratulations!” Lila smiled.

“To your daughter!” Ramzy added.

“I’m sorry. I don’t understand. My daughter is already engaged” Lila stuttered.

“So I’ve heard. But I’m sure you can talk to her. It’s the least you can do given my huge investment in your family!” Ramzy said in a warning tone.

“I don’t mean any disrespect sir, but from what she hears about you from me, I think it makes her think of you more as a father figure not a potential husband!” Lila spoke firmly.

“I’ll give you three days to think about it” Ramzy frowned, motioning with one hand for Lila to leave. It was obviously payback time, for the look in their eyes said it all…

 

“And then what happened?’ I asked Mr Ramzy.

“That rude ungrateful woman! I practically kept her family afloat for years. You’d think she’d want to return the favor, but instead she refused my proposal!” He shook his head. “I fired Lila and cut her monthly charity of course! And sobhan Allah a couple of years later, I did marry her daughter, who by the way despises her mother till the day! That’s the punishment for her ingratitude! Allah is Fair ”

“Mr Ramzy, have you ever paid for a house or a car in installments?” I asked.

“My first car, yes!” He replied, a bit confused at the sudden change of subject.

“What happens if after the last installment, the vendor refuses to give you the car?” I asked.

“I’d sue him! If I pay for a product I expect to receive it! A deal is a deal!”

“Now, if you were paying Lila money, expecting one day she’ll return back the favor, why do you call it ‘charity’ and not a business deal? Isn’t it the same concept?” I asked.

Mr. Ramzy paused for a minute, and I took that chance to continue…

“You say Allah is Fair, but now many people are born into poor families, warzones or suffer a disability or sickness. Do you think Allah isn’t being fair to them?”

“It must be a test! They’d surely be rewarded for their patience!” He replied quickly.

“And just like He tests the less fortunate with poverty, He also tests the rich with their wealth and power. Those who were patient will get the fast track to Jannah! And as for the affluent, the wealth isn’t theirs to start with, it was a trial, and that’s why they’ll be asked on the Day of Judgment about how they spent it, in excruciating details! If we only give charity to get something in return or even expecting to hear a ‘thank you’, then the deal is done in dunya! But if we give it expecting reward from Allah alone, that’s when the Greatest and the Most Generous will multiply the blessings and happiness both in this world and in the Hereafter.”

“So are you saying I’m miserable because I denied Lila her allowance, even though I regularly pay my zakat (obligatory charity) and even though Lila and my wife, her own daughter, are estranged?!” Mr. Ramzy asked.

“All I’m saying is the concept of ownership isn’t real, because we don’t belong here!! We’re just visitors in this world. Allah gave you the brains and health to work hard, and allowed you to accumulate wealth. He then put needy people on your path to reward you for helping them! Allah doesn’t need your money, sir! He will put Lila on someone else’s path and she’ll be taken care of, no problem! He was only giving you a chance to help selflessly because Allah loves you Mr. Ramzy, and He wants you to be happy! Did you know it’s a scientifically proven fact that giving charity with no strings attached activates the mid region of the brain? That’s the part responsible for cravings and pleasure. Once we fulfill that innate need to give, we all receive! Some experiments even proved giving charity felt better than eating chocolate! I’m still skeptical about that part though” I joked.

Mr. Ramzy, the previously angry miserable man, finally smiled.

 

“This is what the third pillar of Islam is about. Zakat is true, heartfelt happiness. There’s nothing else like making a difference in a person’s world just for Allah’s sake! Try it and you’ll be hooked to this ‘joyous feeling’ forever! Once you see this life for what it really is, you’ll see it’s the poor and needy who are doing you a favor accepting your money, both in this life and the Hereafter. And when you help someone you don’t even like, or someone who has hurt you, it’s a clear statement you’re doing it for Allah’s sake alone!”

“Those who spend their wealth in the Cause of Allah, and do not follow up their gifts with reminders of their generosity or with injury, their reward is with their Lord. On them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (Holy Qur’an, 2: 262)

“Which would you rather do Mr. Ramzy; deny and punish the ungrateful and live a miserable life, or spend that money on Allah’s needy servants, and live happily ever after? With no fear and no grief? Think about it” I said as I closed the file. “And I’ll see you next week inshAllah.”
“I think we are done here!” Mr. Ramzy said. “There’s no need for me to come back! I finally found what I’ve been looking for!”

He walked towards the door, stopped and turned around to face me. “Thank you…” Mr Ramzy added and I nodded with a smile.

I was getting ready to leave too when my assistant walked in and handed me the phone, saying it was extremely urgent.

“It’s okay… You can tell me! Did you take it?” I asked the frantic caller two minutes later.

“No I didn’t!”

“Oh thank God!” I whispered.

“But I might….”

 

To be continued….

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

Inside The Therapit’s Office: Episode Three

Office

 

“Your next appointment is here” My assistant announced.

“Al Salam Alaykom Adam!” I greeted the grumpy teenager. “So how was your weekend?”

“Yeah, whatever!” Adam spit out. “Let’s get this over with!”

 

He sunk into the chair across of me and took out his earphones, totally uninterested in what I had to say. “What’s your wifi password?” He asked.

“Listening to music, ha? Why don’t you put it on speaker and we can listen together” I suggested.

“I thought you were an Islamic psychologist! Isn’t listening to music ‘haram’ like everything else in this world?” He mocked.

“Well… that’s one way to look at it. But now if everything is ‘haram’ the word ‘halal’ wouldn’t exist, now would it?” I smiled.

“Cut it out! We both know I’m here only coz I got suspended! So how about you tell me what it is I need to say or do for you to sign this slip. I can’t miss the finals this year! My gramps promised me a sports car if I graduate high school!”

“What about your parents?” I asked.

“What about them? They’re cool either way! I wouldn’t know really. I hardly see them….” Adam shrugged. From the innocent look on his face, I could tell his mind had wandered far back into the past….

 

“I said I want my mommy!” Little Adam stomped his feet. It’s been six days in row now, and his nanny was honestly too tired to come up with cover stories on why his mom had disappeared.

“Go watch TV till your dad comes. He said something about taking you out for ice cream!” She sighed.

 

“Hey buddy, what you watchin’?” Adam’s dad walked in three hours later.

His dad had been weirdly nice and attentive this past week, Adam thought.

Ten minutes later he found out why….

“Listen Adam… Something came up. I’m gonna have to move to a different country for work. But I promise I’ll try to come see you as much as I can!” His dad explained.

Adam soon discovered ‘as much as I can’ actually meant ‘a couple of days every other year’. His dad was a workaholic. He lived and breathed for his job, neglecting everything else including his beautiful lonely wife and only son. He figured showering them with gifts would make up for his non-existence. Sadly, Adam’s dad had no idea the more money he gave, the emptier his family felt inside….

 

“Mom! Wake up! I need you to sign my report card!” Adam said. “Come on, I’m late for school!”

“Let granpa sign it!” His mom slurred.

“Why?” Adam asked. He had secretly wished his mom would see it and praise him for his good grades. Fifth grade is hard you know!

“Coz I said so!” His mom snapped.

“Good one mom! You should be a lawyer!” Adam stormed out.

 

She was either sleeping, watching TV or out with her weird friends. His mom was obviously not interested in motherhood, so why should he worry about being a good son? You know what? The hell with it, he thought! Adam quickly went from being a straight A student to being an A class bully, surrounded by corrupt friends and hardly passing his tests. The school principle was one of the few people who believed in Adam, and was devastated to see such a bright talented boy spiral out of control. He was given another chance on one condition! He must seek therapy….

 

 

“Where do you see yourself in ten years Adam?” I asked when he put his I-pod away.

“Successful! Rich! Travelling around the world on my private jet” he replied.

“But do you have a plan to make those dreams come true? I’m sure you know how the saying goes. ‘Your future is created by what you do today, not tomorrow’” I added.

“I dunno” Adam shrugged. “But I’m sure I’ll find a way! I always do!”

“Okay I’ll tell you what! If you can tell me the three ingredients of success, I’ll sign this slip and you’ll be free to go! Pretty sweet deal, no?” I challenged.

“Just like that?” He asked suspiciously.

When I nodded, Adam walked to the big white board and started scribbling , before listing them all beautifully. I knew the seed of knowledge was in there somewhere.

 

  • Time:
    Successful people have one thing in common. They respect each tick of the clock! They’re never late, never waste time and their schedule is perfectly managed and organized. If they have an important meeting, they make sure they’re there before it starts.
  • Practice with Passion:
    Successful people are fully dedicated to their goals. They’re focused, consistent, and determined. They’re always practicing and reviewing to stay on top of their game.
  • Humility:
    Successful people are respectful and humble enough to learn.

 

I crossed my arms and stared at Adam, hardly able to control my proud smile.
“Yeah, I read a lot!” He said, blushing a little bit.

“Well, since you turned out to be a genius, I have a couple more questions!” I added.

“But that wasn’t part of the deal!” Adam complained.

“Well, now it is, so sue me!” I said. “Do you pray?” I asked.

“Sometimes!” Adam replied. “My gramps drags me to Friday prayer every week!”

“What if I tell you that you’ll never be successful if you don’t pray!” I asked.

“I’ll prove you wrong!” Adam replied. “Lots of people don’t pray, yet they roll in piles of money! Many have received awards, or have the coolest jobs, or have so much power and they don’t even pray!”

“If success is another word for wealth and power, then would you consider the drowned Pharaoh successful?” I asked. “Us Muslims, we know better! Success is is true joy inner peace Adam, and no money in the world can buy you that!”

“But what does praying have to do with that?” Adam asked.

“When we fail or make a mistake in our job, we tend to avoid our boos, or the person in charge. And when we fail in life, when we sin or go astray, some of us abandon prayer coz they’re too ashamed to run to Allah. But only those who want to succeed have the perseverance to keep trying. Only successful people are never late for their most important meetings in their lives; ‘salah’, they practice their faith with passion and they stand humbly before their Lord. Those are the ingredients of success in this world and the Hereafter, and that’s why it’s the second pillar of Islam and the essence of our faith. Without this connection to Allah, we have no identity whatsoever!” I said as I signed the school slip and handed it to Adam.

“That’s it?” He asked.

“You can watch success from far or you can become it! It’s your choice.” I said.

 

Adam walked out towards what I’m sure would be a bright future inshAllah, for one cannot un-see the truth after seeing it so clearly. I went home feeling so peaceful, and came back to the office the next day all bright and shiny for my next appointment.

 

“Leave the door open, please” I instructed my assistance, before my patient started relating his story.

 

“I have the perfect life! And yes I pray five times a day! I’ve reached my goals! I have a loving family, more money than I can count, fame, wisdom, health… you name it! I’m the billboard ad for success! All my dreams came true yet my life is a nightmare! I have an invisible illness no one can diagnose! You say you help people find their path to peace and happiness? I have found it and I’m STILL SO UNHAPPY!” My patient slammed the desk violently.

“Okay, take a deep breath Mr. Ramzy. Calm down” I said.

“Don’t tell me to calm down! FIX IT!” He yelled.

 

 

To be continued….

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inside The Therapist’s Office: Episode One

Published on Productive Muslim
9th June, 2016

 

Office

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

That’s when Hannah finally smiled.

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

 

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

“Almighty Allah of course!” Hannah replied.

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

To be continued

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

A ‘Peace’ Of Happiness. No Gloves Required!

Gloves

A ‘Peace’ Of Happiness
(No Gloves Required)

 

Quick question. How do men even sit through wrestling and boxing matches? Call me a girly girl, but I honestly don’t get what’s so thrilling about blood-drenched, black-eyed, ‘beat-the-hell-out-of-you’ sports. Perhaps if you’re on either team, or if you’re the one in the fighting ring determined to win the game and knock down your opponent, that’s where the sense of victory comes in. But what happens if you’re on both teams? If two of your brothers are up against each other, which one do you cheer for? What happens if you’re putting on the boxing gloves, and at the blow of the referee’s whistle, all of a sudden you’re in ‘Parallel World’ and you realize the person you’re about to attack is YOU?

 

The Invisible Battle

At the risk of stating the obvious, let me confirm that war is the opposite of peace. And it’s pretty easy to see the damages, losses and destruction in a battlefield. We shudder at the sight of men’ swollen faces and oozing cuts when they engage in street fights before they turn to lifelong scars. We might help others tend to their physical wounds, all the while knowing, many of us are just as bruised and swollen on the inside, from inner fights that no ice pack or bandages can help heal. There’s an inside war that no one knows of. That’s the invisible battle between you and yourself..

 

When two parties disagree or see things differently, they take attacking or defensive sides. That’s how divorces happen, how friends break up, why people sometimes burst and quit their jobs and why parents with teenagers pull their hair. Conflicts burn out the joy we desperately seek. The same happens when your heart and mind start arguing and the fight is so intense and loud it’s hard to breathe let alone rest or sleep. When your values differ from your actions, they clash. When your belief system doesn’t match your behavior and lifestyle, a discrepancy is evoked, causing suffocating tension or what Psychologist call ‘Cognitive Dissonance’. Think of the mind as the dad, the heart as the mom and you’re the child in the middle watching them scream at each other and fight over custody! You love them both and it’s not fair of them to ask you to choose or make you live out of a suitcase in two different homes! All you pray and wish for is that they kiss and make up and then go buy you ice cream and lots of presents to celebrate their reunion. All you wish for is stability and balance when the tides are too high and you slowly feel yourself drowning.

 

Okay enough metaphors. Let me tell you the story of this girl who fell in love with a guy and started lying to her parents about who she’s chatting with or where she goes after school. The doctor who exaggerates an illness to make more money off his patient. The husband who’s having an emotional affair with a co-worker, because his wife is boring. The woman who gossips about her neighbors then invites them over for dinner. The students who cheat on tests, and the friends who get together to drink, smoke up and bully others. The man who breaks hearts and the woman who sees her friend hurting and looks the other way. On the outside, they all seem laid back, fun, adventurous, and living their lives the way they want. But on the inside, they’re struggling more than you’ll ever know… They live in a war zone. And no matter which side wins; they still lose… because temporary, guilt-ridden happiness has nothing to do with real joy.

 

Settling To A Middle Ground

So this girl in love tells herself it’s okay to lie, coz her parents will never understand. Actually, if you think about it, she’s protecting them from pain while looking for her happiness, right? The husband having an affair makes it up to his wife with expensive presents, or just tells himself she’s getting as good as she’s giving, so there’s no need to feel bad. The students only cheat on subjects they don’t really need to learn, like Algebra! When was the last time you used Algebra in real life? The friends are just enjoying their youth or forgetting their troubles. It doesn’t have to be a conflict. Perhaps people are different, and their sets of values aren’t the same. Or maybe they have VERY good reasons for the bad things they do!

Maybe…

But the truth is, the most dangerous kind of excuses and lies are the ones we tell ourselves, because deep down we know the truth, and it’s making us slowly go insane with shame and misery.

You might try to change your values when you reach a dead end with this heart-mind struggle, and may I add ‘good luck with that’. Muslim or non-Muslim we all agree on the same morals. We know for a fact lying, cheating, deception, promiscuity and stealing are all against pure human nature. And as Muslims we don’t drink, gamble, backbite, or rush through our prayers like it’s the marathon, for the exact same reasons. When your religion doesn’t translate into true faith in the heart and is just a label your brain had memorized, you willingly step into a minefield every time you want to make a decision. Islam means ‘peace’ because it takes you out of the war zone… and makes your heart and mind become one team… a couple living happily ever after.

 

The Search For Happiness

It’s the ultimate search isn’t it? We believe something needs to happen for us to find the happiness we’re yearning for. Falling in love isn’t enough, you wanna get married, then you want kids, then you want a bigger house for the family. Then you’re bored of your spouse and kids and you want a career. You want a fun social life, wealth, success, fame…. You’re always looking for the next thing to make you happy, and nothing works for long simply because happiness is elusive, you can’t pin it down! It seems like we are chasing an outer source of happiness when in reality we’re only running away from the void inside of us.

Can I ask you something?

Do you sleep soundly at night? Or are you holding in too much sadness, anger or guilt? Do you sometimes feel like you’re lost in this world? Do you feel empty inside? Only you know the reasons behind your inner struggle, and because no one sees your bruises or hears your silent screams, only you can put an end to this invisible war between you and yourself. It’s time to take off those boxing gloves and stop fighting. Stop struggling. Submit to your true ethics, morals and beliefs and don’t let your temptations blind you. It’s time for a truce between your heart and mind, because the truth is, once the gloves are off, you’ll finally find what you’re looking for… The ‘Peace’ of happiness….

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

So You Think You Can Write?

Published on 11th April, 2015
On Productive Muslim
This is the original version

 

So You Think You Can Write?
The Secrets No One Will Dare Share!

 

Writer1

 

Sing it with me…
♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬

Let’s start at the very beginning….
A very good place to start…
When you read you begin with…?
A, B, C
When you write you begin with…
O.M.G!

You’ll have to cut me some slack people! Formally teaching practical tips on how to write effectively has never been my thing for three reasons:

1- I’m anything but formal
2- I’m anything but practical
3- Yeah I don’t really have a third, I just know there must be three reasons for everything that’s all.

The most important lesson I learnt when studying how to write articles was actually learning how NOT to write! It’s a constant battle trying to convey professional and practical information in a way that doesn’t sound too academic or downright boring! (Yes, I just voiced out every editor’s worst nightmare too!). One of my professors once said, “If it sounds like a writing then you have to re-write it!”

Confused? Okay let’s think of a way to make this a little bit easier….

Hmmmmmm

Think of writing like baking a delicious cake. First you get all the ingredients ready with exact measurements and everything, you mix them up and put the batter in the oven, and when the cake is ready that’s where you decorate it and serve it to your lovely guests, who make all the yummy noises you just love to hear!

In my head, writing is a similar process. Your brain is needed to gather information on the topic you’re intending to write about, mix them up so all the points blend together, then put your writing away for a couple of hours or even a couple of days before you read it again with a fresh mind. Finally, polish your writing up with new thoughts; as you become your own critic. Decorate it with titles, comments, and spelling checks, then serve it to your audience on a platter of casual humor and enjoy their wonderful feedback.

(I’m fighting the urge to delete these last two sentences because they’re obviously beyond cheesy! That’s another crucial point to consider. When whisking in your imagination with your informative article, don’t overdo it, and know when to STOP!)

There is no such thing as a good writer or a bad writer. If you follow the rules and instructions, you’ll get it right. But that’s not the point. That cake you baked will be just as good as any other cake, unless it’s baked with love; an extra ingredient that some writers tend to overlook. Writing with passion transforms scientific or theoretical information into pure art and that’s where the heart comes in….

 

Ready. Set. Relate!

Know your audience my lovely fellow writers!
When telling a story to a child for example, you’ll probably simplify it as much as you can, add some funny facial expressions and use different vocal tones to capture their short-spanned attention.

When speaking to the Imam of a mosque, you’ll probably lower your voice out of respect, avoid sarcastic jokes and keep your conversation within the realms of Islamic knowledge.

You get the gist of it, right?

Your readers have very limited time, and you can’t expect them to will themselves into forcefully reading your article if it doesn’t strike their interest or curiosity. I mean, why would they? If the question we all ask of ‘what is in it for me?’ isn’t answered in your first paragraph, then it’s ‘good luck and bye bye Charlie!’.

Close your eyes before you start writing and imagine a room full of readers. What are they here for? What do they need from you? And how can you keep them interested till the end of your writing?

The answer is: Know your audience and RELATE to them. Don’t obsess about sounding smart and sophisticated. Keep it simple. And most importantly, keep it real.

 

Too Much Is Just What It Sounds Like: Too Much!

Dear readers. If you’re interested in learning how to use your free time wisely, then you’ll definitely find this article beneficial. There are 7 rules to apply; each rule is broken down to 15 major points. Of course each point is categorized into 24 aspects and each aspect has 8 goals to aim for. Each of the 8 goals has a list of 36 points to check and each of these points is explained in 9 different sub-categories that spread out into 124 topics you’re definitely not interested in. Enjoy!

It’s out of delightful excitement that writers cram in too much information and I get that. We each have an enthusiastic teacher living inside of us, waiting to be discovered and goes overboard when that opportunity presents itself. But let’s face it; we live in a fast-paced world with too many distractions to start with. You’re probably reading this article while making a sandwich, listening to another lecture, watching a video your friend sent you and talking on the phone, all at the same time! Our eyes turn to scanning devices and simply skim through the article instead of actually reading it, and I bet that’s the last thing you want your readers to do. Get to the point and avoid all the excruciating details because sometimes TMI equals to zero.

(For those who don’t have teenagers at home, TMI means ‘Too Much Information’, but apparently using whole sentences isn’t ‘cool’ anymore LOL)

 

Titles, Tiles, Tiles

Don’t judge a book by its cover?
Well if the cover is a snooze fest you probably won’t even get to the judging part because you’ll be too busy sleeping!

Your title is readers’ first impression of your work, and we never get a second chance to make first impressions now do we?

A title must be intriguing, controversial, or at least arouses the curiosity to find out more. That’s all there is to say to here.
Next!

 

Oh Yes You’ll Fail

I can’t remember how many articles I wrote and saved in a file on my computer named “BORINGGGGGG!’. They can’t all be gems, but my advice is to keep writing anyway. Write, write and write some more, but don’t expect every single word to get published. Editors will turn you down. A LOT! Trust me! My work has been rejected so many times I had to put in a special order for new thicker skin because I was on the verge of quitting. My best friend can tell you horror stories about how I almost gave up on becoming a writer all together, and I owe it to her support that I’m still here now, writing about how to write effectively.

A wise man once said, “Everything in this world is wasted once used up except for talent; the more you use it the better it gets!”

I will not pretend I only depended on a talent though. I actually took all kinds of courses and read numerous books about the art of writing. That’s another piece of cherished advice; be humble enough to know there’s still a lot more to learn even when you start thinking you know it all.

 

No One Is Better At Being You Than YOU!

“I only have one Lulls!” My best friend always says. (That’s my nickname in case you’re wondering!) And she’s right. There’s only one of me, one of her and one of you. We are all very unique and special in very different ways. If you want to take one thing out of this article to be the golden rule of writing it’s definitely this: BE YOURSELF. Talk to us through your articles the same way you would talk to us in person, or the same way you talk to your friends. Unless you’re writing a progress report or an assignment for a college professor, don’t feel like you have anything to prove. Be casual, funny or even a little bit silly, that’s okay. If it’s from your heart it will surely reach our hearts… That’s the one language we all have in common.

Finally, make sure you end your article with a note of hope… Give us that serenity we all desperately need and promise us that everything will be okay. Let your final words embrace your readers and leave them feeling encouraged to be better. Be an inspiration to those who trust you with their precious time. Be grateful for even the slightest chance to touch hearts and enlighten other people’s worlds. It’s a humbling gift from Allah… use it and share it and don’t be scared to let your imagination run wild. If I sit and tell you how many times I fell and got up again you’ll probably laugh and cry at the same time. But you know what? If I could do it so can you. If I was able to become ‘me’ you can surely find a way to be ‘you’… Give us a glimpse of how remarkable you are and how your words can bring out the amazing powers we have hidden inside of us… in the end, that’s all we truly need…

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

Let’s Dial Up The Crazy! It’s April Fool’s Day!

March 31st, 2016

April.jpg

 

Blue food coloring on toothbrushes…
Glue on doorknobs and mayonnaise-filled donuts.
Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens… Oops wait, I think I confused favorite things with funny pranks LOL. But then again that’s what April Fool’s Day is all about, it’s actually some people’s favorite day of the year!

Instead of boring you with the vague and inconclusive history behind this day and how it all started in the 18th century in France and Great Britain, I thought of roaming the streets with our imaginary broadcasting crew to interview Muslims from around the world. Come on now, let’s hear what people have to say about all the ‘fun lying’. Find a comfortable spot, get your snacks and turn on your TVs. Our program should air right after the commercial break. Stay tuned…

 

“This is Lilly S. Mohsen reporting for On Islam News! Peace be upon you sir. Can I ask if you celebrate April Fools Day with your family and friends?”
“April Fools? Astaghfar Allah! What is this, the ‘Kuffar’ show? Get out of here!”

 

“Salam sir. As a Muslim, how do you feel about April Fools Day being un-Islamic?”
“God knows our intentions. I believe there’s a huge difference between telling a lie and making a joke. Allah sees what’s in our hearts. I mean what’s wrong with having some harmless fun once a year?”

 

“Salam sister. How do you feel about April Fools Day?”
“I think all these pranks and jokes are pathetic! Laughing at someone isn’t funny, it’s just mean!”

 

“Oh a teenager! Salam and thank you for being on our show! So how do you feel about Muslims saying celebrating April Fools Day is a sin?”
“Duh! Muslims think everything is haram. What else is new?”

 

“Another teenager! What are your thoughts on April Fools?”
“Ummm major LOSERS alert! Come on, it’s SO last century!”

 

“Salam sister. So what do you think of April Fools?”
“Oh my God I’m on TV! Hi Mom!”
“So, April Fools Day?”
“It’s the best! Last year we pretended our friend died and had a fake funeral! You should have seen the drama! It was EPIC!”
“And that’s a wrap folks. Back to my colleagues in the studio!”

Let’s face it. No matter which perspective and proof you come up with, you’ll find an opposing view proving you wrong. People are different, and can understand the same concept in many contradicting ways. If you don’t participate in all the madness happening on the 1st of April, people will call you names like “Granny or Grandpa”, “Uptight’ and “No fun”. If you do take part in it, you’d be regarded by many as “Ignorant”, a “wannabe”, “not a good Muslim” or just a “silly clown”. So in the spirit of shared diversity, I’m gonna go on a limb and put in my two cents regarding this controversial day….

It’s Not The Joke. It’s The Gist

I’m probably the last person to talk here. I like to laugh and joke and find humor to be an effective medicine to the sadness we pile up inside. People automatically become more attractive when they’re funny (not in a crass way of course). We know of many stories about our beloved Prophet and how he joked with his family and friends. There’s one especially that cracks me up when Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was eating dates and placing all the seeds in front of his cousin Ali (May Allah be pleased with him).

“Wow Ali! Look how many dates you ate!” The Prophet joked.
“Oh Messenger of Allah” Ali replied, “Today I realized you eat dates with their seeds” Ali joked back.

I can almost hear the companions’ laughter, God bless them all, and feel the cheerful mood that filled the air that time. Our beloved Prophet was known to have a constantly beautiful smile on his face. He was lenient, loving and made things easy for Muslims. He lightened the mood when necessary with pleasant jokes, enjoyed singing and raced with his wife for fun.

“So by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you…” (3:159 Holy Qur’an)

The Tools Of The Fools

But there’s a time and a place for everything people! There’s a big, huge, gigantic difference between pleasant humor and downright mockery. There’s an enormously fat red line between laughing with people and laughing at them (Yeah I’m one of those party poopers sorry!). There’s a humungous gap between cheerful banter and joining the hype of this corny, cheesy day. Islam is by far the most peaceful, sophisticated, positively life-changing religion in the world. If we are prohibited from putting ‘lying’ and ‘foolishness’ under the umbrella of ‘having fun’, it’s not because we are expected to be boring nerds, but rather respectful and merciful human beings. You know what I think this April Fool’s Day really is? (Okay I can’t hear your answer but I’ll tell you anyway). I think it’s a day where people get a free pass to take revenge and let loose the sleeping bullies living inside of them. It’s actually borderline evil. You can tell me that watching people get hurt, scared and mocked can also be hilarious till you’re blue in the face, but it still won’t make it true or humane.

I’m not gonna ask you to dial down the craziness and stop making fools out of yourselves and others because ummm hello I’m not your mom! I’m just sharing an innocent opinion and getting a little worked up in the process. I mean just because I personally think April Fools is incredibly corny and strictly for ‘fools’, doesn’t mean you have to agree….

I only want you to imagine your friends writing on your face with a permanent marker before an important event or hiding your clothes at the gym while you’re in the shower. I just want to ask you how it feels when the joke is on you… Is it still hilarious?
Yeah, didn’t think so : )

Let’s smile and laugh together…
The operative word being ‘together’…

All my love and best wishes…

Lilly S. Mohsen

Why You Need To Say It Before The New Years

Published on the 22nd December, 2015
For The Daily Crisp

Unsaid.jpg

Say It Before It’s Too Late…

If you haven’t seen the animation movie ‘Inside Out’, I suggest you leave this article and go watch it.

No don’t worry about me, I’ll just wait here…

This movie shows the five primary emotions as characters; anger, fear, sadness, disgust and joy, who literally control the motherboard of your brain and as a result affect your feelings, thoughts and behaviors. I like to imagine that in December of every year, those five people inside your head sit down for a board meeting, each with a cup of coffee and a huge pile of dusty files of all the things that were left unsaid….

Anger: “You wusses! I say it a million times every single year but you all won’t listen to me! The only way to deal with a problem is to spit it out! Some people just need a wake-up slap! On the face! With a BASEBALL BAT! I’ve held so much anger inside I’m gonna explode soon! And it’s not like we have a shredder for these stupid ‘unsaid’ files! What am I supposed to do with this rage now, ha? You’re all COWARDS! PUSHOVERS!”

Fear: “Whoa! What if you say the things you need to say, pour your heart out then get rejected? Or get in trouble? What if you stand up for what you believe in and end up shunned? Ridiculed? Oh my God, what if you lose your friends or loved ones coz you said things they don’t wanna hear? I say it’s not worth the risk! Shove those files in the back of your mind and we’ll all be okay! Better safe than sorry!”

Sadness: “I agree with Mr. Fear. It doesn’t matter anyway.. No one will understand. It’s better to leave things unsaid than say them and realize no one cares. Bearing an untold story is a great agony, but there’s no guarantee the pain will go away if you share it.. “

Disgust: “Ughh Sadness, you’re so negative you make me sick! But I can’t say things like that to other people! I judge them silently instead. I doubt them, make all kinds of assumptions and never get any answers coz I’m too proud to ask or too disgusted to look at them! I don’t give advice or help people fix their lives coz no one likes a ‘know-it-all’. I have so much to say, but now it’s too late..”

Joy: ”I know you guys think I’m perfect but I’m not. I have a huge pile of unsaid things too. But my files are beautiful. They’re filled with love, appreciation, compliments and gratitude… except I never had the chance to express them.”

And then the CEO of the brain concludes the meeting with a bang on the desk and a frustrating question: “What are we gonna do with all these dusty files? The storage is completely over packed, the doors won’t even open! There’s no more room!”

Look me in the eye and tell me honestly….

Do you have bite marks on your tongue from all the things you never said…?

Is your heart filled with love for someone, but that person has no idea?

Did you ever drift apart from a friend and were left with all the things you didn’t say?

Are you trapped in a relationship, muted or too drained to explain?

Do you let your anger speak coz it’s easier to rage than admit you’re weak or vulnerable?

Are you too proud to apologize or too hurt to ask for an apology?

Did you say it…?

‘I love you’, ‘I’m sorry’, ‘I can’t live without you’, ‘You hurt me’, ‘I need help’

Did you say it before it’s too late….?

I’ve got news for you guys. This might come as a shock but do you know what happens when you bury a seed in the ground? It grows! It grows so big that it becomes a huge tree. The unspoken seeds of hurt turn to anger, the silent gratitude turns to high expectations, the un-given help or advice turns to guilt, and the unrevealed love will suffocate the life out of you. We think avoiding something will make it go away, but the truth is, the words left unsaid will sit in your mind screaming. Sometimes it’s not what people say, it’s what they don’t say that hurts the most.

 

Since you started reading this, you’ve been thinking of specific people or perhaps one special person you left things unresolved with. And do you know how I know that person is special? Besides the fact that I have magic powers, we both know that the opposite of love is not hate! It’s indifference…

So whoever popped in your mind, be it someone you love or wanna strangle coz they’ve hurt you so much, that person is a part of you…. An unresolved tangled knot in your heart….

Put your ego on the side, find your calm soul and say the things you’ve left unsaid. Believe me, it’ll haunt you forever if you don’t. A conflict is never about what we see, it’s about the buried wounds left unhealed. And we carry this huge burden day after day, year after year, and it changes who we are in the process….

December is just a reminder to deal with the old before you start the new. If you want to do better, reach your goals, travel far with your dreams, you need to travel light. Put down that burden and go make it right…

With the things that were left… unsaid…

 

Happy New Years

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

 

The Amazing Race Of Ramadan: Episode Three

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

MAGNET

The Amazing Race Of Ramadan
Episode Three: The Magnet

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

The People You Meet Are Your Key

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

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

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

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

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

The Five Rules Of Attraction:

1- Greetings, Names and Smiles (GNS)

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

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

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

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

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

4- Gifts With Love

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

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

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

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

5- Return Negative With A Positive

Now that’s a tough one, sheeeeesh!

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

Check this out….

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you at the finish line…. Stay tuned.

Lilly S. Mohsen

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

The Amazing Race Of Ramadan: Episode Two

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

Episode Two: Joy Is A Six Letter Word

Family

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

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

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

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

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

Lost In A Safe Haven? Take The Vertical Road.

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

Frame the Circle Of Trust with Kindness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Family Tree: Make Amends With Your Branches.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lilly S. Mohsen

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

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