Tag Archives: race

It’s Not The Places…. It’s The Beloved

Published On OnIslam
19th September, 2015
Lilly Live From Hajj, Day Two Diary

“What’s happening?”
“They’ve opened the door! RUNNNNNNN”

You see, Prophet Muhammad’s original mosque with attached house is actually a relatively small area (about 20×15 meters) located inside today’s huge Holy mosque in Madina. Women get a chance to visit the sequestered area three times a day, for about two hours each time. You’ll find the Muslim women gathered by the partition, way before visitation hours, stretching and jogging in place, while the area is being cleared out of the men (as it should be! They get 18 hours a day!)

Anyways, when the door opens, women charge like a stampede. (I wish I was exaggerating but I’m not LOL) and so I grab Aya, my sister in law and run like the wind, unbothered by the pushing and shoving of some very sturdy women Masha’Allah. Nothing matters when you race with your heart to meet the beloved….

This is his house… Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is buried here next to his two best friends, Abu Bakr Al Siddique and Omar Ibn Al Khattab. And on your right, is his mosque. You’re probably wondering why all the carpets are red except for this one, it’s green. Well it’s because it’s literally a meadow and a little piece of heaven.

Narrated by Abu Hurrairah, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “The space between my house and my pulpit is a garden from the gardens of Paradise”

He also said that one rak’ah of prayer in his mosque is worth ten thousand rak’ahs. Okay, now that I think of it, this was well worth getting jammed and elbowed for!

After greeting the prophet and his friends and miraculously praying on the green carpet, something very unusual happens. An invisible magnetic force drowns out the noises and pulls you in. You stand by the Prophet’s chamber…
Frozen…
Speechless…
Overwhelmed….
That’s the moment you realize…
Muhammad was here….and somehow time ceases to exist.

The beloved lived…here…. He sat right there with his grandchildren propped on his lap before Friday prayer. He walked here with Abu Bakr and Omar and Hamza… This is where Islam emerged from. He stood in the exact same spot you’re standing in now, smiling and welcoming people. He leaned on this palm tree and slept inside this room…

Muhammad… The Last Prophet… The final connection between the heavens and earth. He was here… Saying “Soothe our hearts with it” and listened to Bilal’s beautiful voice recite the call for prayer. Allah’s beloved messenger… The one who stayed up all night praying for his Ummah till his feet were swollen. The one man who carried the burden mountains refused to carry, and brought to the whole world their true and ultimate salvation…

Muhammad is here…

It suddenly dawned on me while I stood there motionless, with tears streaming down my face, why I love him so much even though I never met him. I realize his love is engraved deep within our hearts…. His love is innate… It’s already inside each and every one of us, we just didn’t know it… Until today…

Look around you… See the look on people’s faces… It says it all. They’re mesmerized by the thought of standing by his house, 1400 later! They’d give up everything just to visit his mosque once in their lifetime! Listen to their words… They talk to him as if he’s right there. They tell him about their lives and troubles and how all their families back home send their greetings.

“We miss you Prophet of God”
These are the words you hear in this place every single day. Said by millions of every age, race and color… They miss him even though they never met him… And that’s the truest, most genuine love of all…

Visiting the Prophet’s mosque is not an obligation of Hajj, and yet look, there’s hardly an empty spot to pray in. I finally understand why Shiekh Hamza Yusuf got so emotional in one of his lectures about Prophet Muhammad…

He explained how when you love someone so intensely, you find yourself loving everything they love. And when you miss them, you’ll close your eyes and touch the things they once touched, and kiss the stones and walls of the homes they once lived in… But it’s not the things or the walls or the stones that make your heart melt and your soul shiver…

“It’s not the places… It’s the beloved… He was here….”

Peace be upon you my beloved Prophet. Everyone reading this is sending you their love from all parts of the world. May you smile and welcome them in Paradise… And invite them to your palace. I have a feeling the carpets are emerald green there too…

We miss you Muhammad… More than words can ever say…
Until we meet my love….

Your Hajj Representative
MakamLilly S. Mohsen

The Amazing Race Of Ramadan: The Final Episode

Published On OnIslam.net
July 14th, 2015
This is the original version

The Amazing Race Of Ramadan: The Final Episode

Trophy

Oh man! Does that mean I’m going home after this? No more Ramadan episodes? No more camera crew and filtering out contestants and being asked 237 times a day how many minutes till Maghreb?
Fine I get it. It’s the final countdown, and before I start I’d like to say something to all of our lovely readers who are probably beating me to the finish line: I’ll really miss you guys!

Okay so what would be an appropriate grand finale? Come on people, give me some brilliant ideas and let me take the credit for them!
Wait… I hear something! Call me crazy, but I think it’s a conversation from thousands of years ago. Shhhhhh listen…

“Mary, where did you get this food from?”
“Oh uncle Zechariah, it’s from God. Indeed Allah provides to whom He wills with no limit!”
At that time, Zechariah called upon his Lord, saying, “My Lord, grant me from Yourself a good offspring. Indeed, You are the Hearer of supplication.” (Holy Qur’an, 3:38)

At that time? Seriously?
I was pretty sure Prophet Zechariah asked God for a child all his life. Why does it say ‘at that time’? Or was it a different kind of supplication….? The kind based on the true belief that nothing was impossible when it came to Allah’s power?

How Do We Ask?

‘It’s not what you say it’s how you say it’. I guess many have heard this phrase before. There’s a difference between mumbling a request half-heartedly and then wondering why it was never answered and it’s a totally different thing when you feel every word without even saying it, knowing that with those silent screams of desperations and those helpless tears falling down your face, God will never, and I mean NEVER, let you down…

When Prophet Zechariah made a du’aa, he started by telling God his story. He told Him how he was growing old and his hair was turning grey. How his wife was barren and how they still both desperately yearned for a child. As if God didn’t already know that! But that’s the beauty of submission… it’s talking to Allah like He’s your best friend… Explaining to Him what you’re going through as if you can see Him. Certain and 100% convinced that your prayers will be answered, and then searching for the blessings that God has definitely lifted you up with while you were down on your knees begging for help….

Why Do We Have To Ask?

I’ll take one for the team and ask the inevitable question: Why doesn’t God give us what we want right away without having to ask? Isn’t He the Most Giving? Why does He put us in hardships to start with? Isn’t He the Most Merciful?
(Whoa I think my heart stopped there for a second at how brazen these questions sounded. You guys owe me big!)

Volumes could be written from the Qur’an and Sunnah to answer these doubts and queries, but I’ll just mention the one that makes my heart melt…

Did it ever occur to us that God loves to hear our voices…? That we are so dear to Him to the point He inspires us to supplicate, then rewards us for it. He then rewards us again by giving us what we want. He then inspires us to be thankful, then rewards us for that, too. He then inspires us to share the joy by giving out charity, puts those in need on our path, then rewards us for that, TOO! He then inspires us to encourage others to ask Him like we did, then rewards us for that, and in the end, when we meet Him on Judgment Day, we find all the above stored for us with the ultimate reward of Paradise….? Wow!

Is there perhaps a chain reaction of out-of-the-blues-blessings that starts with a simple, genuine plea from the heart…?
Yes, I think so too….

What Do We Ask For…?

Don’t look at me! I don’t know!
Yet…There’s a force dragging me away from my laptop and bringing me down to my knees… Come kneel next to me… lower your head and raise your hands… and just open your heart to the One who owns it…

My Dearest Most Merciful Lord….

Where do we start…? How do we thank You for every beautiful thing You’ve given us and every scary thing You’ve protected us from….?

How do we call on the One who says “Indeed I am close…”

How do we talk to the One who knows our inner thoughts and forgives our worst mistakes…?

But we have no one else to go to… My Lord we stand by Your door, needy and desperate, and even if you don’t answer right away we will keep begging until You do… There’s no where to run but to You my Lord…

Some of us come to You sad and damaged… we beg You to heal our broken hearts…

Some of us come to You sick and helpless… we beg You to take our pain and suffering away….

Some of us are lost and confused… some of us have fallen and failed too many times… and we beg You for guidance and support…

Some of us are scared and lonely…. And don’t know how we’ll survive another day… we beg You God to fill our lives with love and warmth…

Some of us are poor and can hardly make ends meet… we beg You to open for us the doors of wealth and success…

Some of us are ashamed… humiliated by what we’ve done or how we’ve gone astray… we beg You to give us a sign we’ve been blessed with Your forgiveness…

Some of us are desperate…. Oh God each and every one of us is desperate for something only You know of and only You can provide….

Bestow Your mercy on us my dear Lord… life is so hard sometimes… so grant us the patience and the will to stay on the right path and help us….

To the One who says “I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me” (Holy Qur’an 2:186)

This is our poor and humble supplication, and from You is the Best and most Greatest response….

The race has come to an end, and we don’t know if You’ve accepted us or not… if we are worthy of Your blessings or not… We don’t know who’s been saved and who’s lagging behind… All we know is that our only hope is Your everlasting mercy…

And today we ask You… please…

Please… look at us today… don’t let this Holy month pass by without admitting us into your eternally blessed servants… we don’t deserve it, but my Lord, You’re the most Merciful and the Most Giving….

Lilly S. Mohsen

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