Sunday, August 29, 2010

Qiyyam in the Masjid

Salaam alaikum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh everyone,
insh'Allah you're all in the best of health and the highest of iman today...
alhamdolillah I returned about an hour ago from doing a qiyyam in the masjid...and ooof I'm so tired, my back kills, I have a headache, and my tummy's upset, but alhamdolillah nonetheless because it was AMAZING

For those of you who don't know what a qiyyam's when you spend the whole night in worship at a mosque. I read so much Qu'ran alhamdolillah, and got to pray tahajjud with the other brothers and sisters there...and mash'Allah there were some very beautiful lectures in between by a mufti who was visiting...mash'Allah they were so good they gave me the chills and brought tears to my eyes. I really wish I could have recorded them...but insh'Allah they'll be recorded in my memory for years to come.

After tahajjud we only ended up with 10 minutes for that's why I have an upset tummy right now :( Let's just say that nutella and hummus are NOT a good combination...loool, but obviously I wasn't thinking of that at the time when I was hurriedly grabbing food to eat, so I guess it's my fault for not being more careful about what I put in my body : /

So that's it for now...I'll update later insh'Allah when I'm feeling better.

Salaam alaikum!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Why I Don't Like Fundraisers

Salaam alaikum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh everyone, insh'Allah you're all in the best of health and the highest of iman!

So, before I get started with this post...any feedback on the new layout? Love it? Hate it? ...did you even notice it lol?

Anyways, last night was great, alhamdolillah! I went to the community iftar and there was lots of yummy food again, and I got to chat with some really nice sisters (including one Bengali sister from Scotland who recently moved here...ahhhh she had the coolest accent and the cutest little daughter who loved playing peekaboo mash'Allah!!)

The one thing that was a big downside to the evening, and that I wished I had been prepared for was a fundraiser that was happening between the iftar and isha. It was for a really nice charity, mash''s just that the way in which it was carried out...quite frankly...made me feel EXTREMELY uncomfortable. First I'll talk about the charity, because mash'Allah I think it's a really good cause and whatnot, and it deserves mentioning. It's called MCSS (Muslim Community Support Services). Its mission is to assist individuals and families in the New England area who are in desperate need of social or financial help. Services include one time payments of rent, utility bills and car repair bills, free medical consultation, funeral costs, and student grants. They also have programs in which you can sponsor a family for $25 a month, or help them out if they are in danger of being evicted. You can also donate your car. If you're interested in learning more, insh'Allah you can visit the website here.

Anyways, here is what disturbed me about how this fundraiser took place. After iftar people were basically ushered into the prayer hall for a "presentation." I mistakenly thought that it was going to be another Islamic lecture, so I was really excited and eager to listen to what the speaker had to say. Unbeknown to me, the "presentation" was a guy with a microphone essentially badgering everyone in the room to donate money to this charity. He did explain for a little bit what the charity was about, and what kind of services it offered, but what struck me as being very odd was that the first thing he said when he was handed the microphone was that "everyone who recognized him would probably want to chase him away from the masjid because every time he comes there all he does is ask people to empty their wallets." This just made me think...okay...WAAA?!?!?!?!? After his very brief introduction, a sister with a box went around the ladies' section basically shoving it in sisters faces waiting for them to drop something in. If the sister didn't happen to have anything, she would recieve a very dirty look from the lady who would then proceed to hit up her next victim. At this point, I was thinking "OH CRIZZAP! I have NOTHING with me *panicpanicpanic* IMGONNAGETADEATHGLARE" So, as you can imagine, I was feeling really uncomfortable at this as discreetly as I could, I slipped out to my car to get something. All the while this was happening, I kept hearing the guy in the background saying, "come on brothers and sisters, this is Ramadan, be as charitable as you can, everything you donate will come back to you, and insh'Allah you'll get rewarded for it as well!"...along with reading off donation ammounts from people..."we have another donation here for $5,000! May Allah(swt) reward you immensely!"...and asking people, "do we have anyone here who will match donations tonight? Raise your hands! Anyone who wants to sign up to sponsor a family tonight? Raise your hands!" To my shock and horror, when I got back inside, the brother on the microphone was shouting "Any more donations? Any more at all? Come on brothers and sisters, let's be GENEROUS!!" which one brother then replied, "I gave all of the money that I had in my wallet, but I'd love to come work for you!" Mash'Allah may Allah(swt) reward this brother's spirit...but then the microphone brother insisted that this brother then come up in front of everyone, handed him the microphone, and asked him to repeat what he said. At this point I wanted to go bang my head against the nearest wall. Then the sister with the box started bringing out items for people to bid on. All of the bidding started around $100. I cannot even begin to describe how uncomfortable I was feeling at this point. I felt like running out of the prayer hall, and asking someone to come get me whenever they decided to notice that they were over half an hour late for calling the adhan for isha.

Okay, so at this point some of you might be asking, "Ashley...why do you hate charity so much? Don't you know that it's one of the pillars of Islam?" Astighfirallah, PLEASE do not take this post in the wrong way, I DO NOT HATE THE ACT OF CHARITY. Subhan'Allah, being charitable is one of the most beautiful traits a person can have. I just DETESTED the way in which this fundraiser was being carried out. It was just way too public, in-your-face, money being thrown around everywhere. Charity is NOT supposed to be like this in Islam! The way in which they were going about raising money for this wonderful charity was un-Islamic, and that's why it was bothering me so much! In Islam, the best charity is that which is given as secretly as possible. The Prophet, SAWS said, "Seven people will be shaded by Allah under His shade on the day when there will be no shade except His. They are: (1) a just ruler; (2) a young man who has been brought up in the worship of Allah, (i.e. worship Allah (Alone) sincerely from his childhood), (3) a man whose heart is attached to the mosque (who offers the five compulsory congregational prayers in the mosque); (4) two persons who love each other only for Allah's sake and they meet and part in Allah's cause only; (5) a man who refuses the call of a charming woman of noble birth for an illegal sexual intercourse with her and says: I am afraid of Allah; (6) a person who practices charity so secretly that his left hand does not know what his right hand has given (i.e. nobody knows how much he has given in charity). (7) a person who remembers Allah in seclusion and his eyes get flooded with tears." (Book #24, Hadith #504)

I also want to bring this particular hadith to your attention...which is a hadith that I intend to dedicate an entire post to sometime in the future, insh'Allah:
“I heard the Messenger of Allah say, Verily, the first to be judged on the Day of Resurrection will be a man who had died as a martyr. He will be brought forward. Allah will remind him of the favours He had bestowed upon him and the man will acknowledge them. Then He will ask him: `What did you do to express gratitude for it?’ The man will reply: `I fought for Your Cause till I was martyred.’ Allah will say: `You have lied. You fought so that people might call you courageous; and they have done so.’ Command will then be issued about him and he will be dragged on his face and thrown into Hell. Next a man who had acquired and imparted knowledge and read the Qur’an will be brought forward, Allah will remind him of the favours He had bestowed upon him and the man will acknowledge them. Then He will ask him: `What did you do to express gratitude for it?’ The man will reply: `I acquired knowledge and taught it, and read the Qur’an for Your sake.’ Allah will say to him: `You have lied. You acquired knowledge so that people might call you a learned (man), and you read the Qur’an so that they might call you a reciter, and they have done so.’ Command will then be issued about him, and he will be dragged on his face and thrown into Hell. Next a man whom Allah had made affluent and to whom Allah had given plenty of wealth, will be brought forward, Allah will remind him of the favours He had bestowed upon him and the man will acknowledge them. He will ask him: `What did you do to express gratitude for it?’ The man will reply: `I did not neglect any of the ways You liked wealth to be spend liberally for Your sake’. Allah will say to him: `You have lied. You did it so that people might call you generous, and they have done so.’ Command will then be issued about him and he will be dragged on his face and thrown into Hell. These are the first of Allaah’s creation the Fire will be kindled with on the Day of Resurrection"

Saheeh Muslim, 13/45/1905

Now, ASTIGHFIRALLAH I am in no way implying that this second hadith has anything to do with anyone who was at that fundraiser. I simply included it to bring up the point that our intentions behind our actions are what matter the most, and that even though the people around us might not be able to see our true intentions, Allah(swt) certainly does. Doing a fundraiser in this fashion sets people up for an ostentatious show of wealth and generosity, rather than giving for the sake of Allah(swt).

The last point I kind of wanted to bring up, which is more that doing the fundraiser in such a public fashion can really make people who don't have thousands and thousands of dollars available to them feel uncomfortable and guilty. Alhamdolillah Allah(swt) has blessed us all, but some of us are more blessed with wealth than others...and the way in which this fundraiser was carried out kind of made me feel a bit crummy : /

So that's all I have to say on that subject...and I'm dissapointed to say that I don't think that this is an uncommon occurance during Ramadan in masjids. I just hope that I don't have to sit through another one of these any time soon...or if I do...I certainly hope that it is carried out in a more private manner. And Allah(swt) knows best.

So...I'm curious to know...what are your thoughts on the whole situation?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

So...My Life Isn't Terribly Exciting...

Salaam alaikum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh everyone,

Insh'Allah you're all in the best of health and the highest of iman! ^_^

So, I haven't updated in almost a week and...*here come the excuses*

1. I've been kind of busy with work/going to the masjid/trying to get as much sleep as I possibly can

2. I'm just lazy and haven't really felt like writing anything

3. I always feel the need to write about really interesting things that I think people will actually want to bother to take the time out of their day to read...unfortunately for y'all I don't think my life is that interesting :P

So, since we've last met, a few things have happened:
1. I'm on day 3 of my "vacation"...ahemhem...I know this might sound really silly of me...but I always pray that it comes sooner in Ramadan rather than later, just so that I don't miss out on the last 10 days. So I'm happy it came when it did ^_^ you're probably all feeling really awkward. On a side note...any other gals out there feel kinda self-conscious during Ramadan when you're on your "vacation" from fasting? I always feel weird being allowed to eat and drink...especially when I have to explain to people WHY I'm eating and drinking again for a week -_-'

2. Alhamdolillah on Wednesday August 18 it was my three year anniversary of me taking my shahadah! I plan to post a little bit more in depth about this later insh'Allah, in the interest of not making this post too long, but I will just say this. Alhamdolillah for EVERYTHING that I've been through over the past three years. I'm so blessed to have been guided to Islam, and I feel like over these past three years, I have grown and matured spiritually by leaps and bounds. I keep learning and growing more day by day, and I am very thankful for the simple fact that I AM A MUSLIM. ALHAMDOLILLAH!

3. I went to the Thursday halaqa at the masjid again, and alhamdolillah this time I felt sufficiently less awkward. I feel like this time I was able to bond a bit more with the sisters there, and I felt more comfortable. Last time I felt really awkward because I was pretty much one of the oldest people there (because they're "youth group" halaqas) and all the other sisters there were high school age...and me being 20, I just felt kinda old and out of place. LOL. But alhamdolillah this time I just kind of let go of feeling like I didn't really belong there (after all the brother who runs it is in GRAD I wasn't the oldest one there, and I felt really silly for feeling "too old"...because, after all, you're never too old to LEARN, and that's what I'm there to do after all). This time it was nice, because I kind of felt like I fit more into the "big sister" role, and the other sisters were more comfortable talking to me this time around, which was nice...last time much of the conversation we had was made up of awkward silence...heheh.

Tonight insh'Allah I'll be going to another community iftar, so I'm excited for that!! Even though I'm not fasting, I'm still looking forward to the yummy food, and spending time with other Muslims ^_^

I hope all of your fasting is going well, insh'Allah! Until next time, salaam alaikum!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Ramadan, Day 4

Salaam alaikum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh everyone!

Insh'Allah you're all in the best of health and the highest of iman today!

So, days 1, 2, and 3 of Ramadan all passed rather uneventfully for me, but yesterday, alhamdolillah, I feel passed rather eventfully.

I unfortunately didn't end up waking up for suhoor...but I was okay nonetheless because right before I went to bed I ate an entire pint of Ben and Jerry's chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream (YES I KNOW I WAS BEING REALLY REALLY BAD LOL), and I had also managed to drink around 20 oz of water as well, so alhamdolillah I was all set for the day :P I did wake up for fajr though, so I prayed fajr, then layed in bed a little bit, then I threw on an abaya and a scarf and drove my dad to the airport (the rest of my family is away dropping my sister off at college/visiting my I have the house to myself until Tuesday ^_^)

After that, I came back and slept until one to catch up on my sleep that I've so desperately needed, agggg! After I woke up I prayed dhuhr, I read for a bit, and then I left to mail a package at the post office. Upon returning, I saw that a giant tree branch had fallen over the power lines up the street, which caused the rest of the houses in my area to lose power for about an hour and a that was fun. I prayed asr, read a bit more, played with my cats, and just as I was about to leave to go to the masjid for iftar the power came back on.

Iftar was was probably one of the best iftars yet for me this Ramadan! I had rice, two types of chicken cooked Indian style (yumyum, nice and spicy!), some kebab, some salad, some pita bread, and this really delicious pudding that was a lot like rice pudding, except that it was made with long thin noodles. Before eating the actual dinner though, we prayed maghrib (after breaking fast with a date and some juice...btw does anyone agree with me that the first bite of whatever you're eating/the first sip of whatever you're drinking to break your fast with ALWAYS tastes like the most delicious thing you have ever ate/drank? Lol, dates have never tasted so good!) After dinner I drank some chai (lol, the auntie I was with was astounded that I "only" put two sugars in my small cup of tea...this is why I always insist upon making my own chai because if I didn't, it would be mostly sugar and milk :P )

After drinking my chai, I went into the prayer hall to listen to a very beautiful and powerful lecture that was given by a brother. In the interest of not making this post too long, insh'Allah I will write about it in a separate post some other day, but it was really really good, and very motivational, mash'Allah! After listening to the lecture, it was time for Isha. So everyone prayed Isha, and then Tarawih. This time I thought to bring along my Qur'an so that I could follow along with the imam...personally I found it more beneficial for me to do that, because it helped me concentrate better, and it also helped me to read the words in Arabic while seeing them. Right now we're all the way through Surah An Nisa'a Ayah 147. On another's astonishing and sad how many people just up and left right after we prayed 8 rakaat...very few people stay for the 20. Now, I'm not going to get into the 8 vs. 20 rakaat debate...but brothers and sisters, if you're praying behind someone who is praying 20 rakaat Tarawih, it's RUDE to just get up and leave after 8! D: Insh'Allah try to stay for all of Tarawih!

Anyways, after I came home from Tarawih...I caved into my nafs a bit and watched an episode of Project Runway *blushes* After that I drank some hot milk with honey (YUMM) and then went to bed. So yeah, yesterday was pretty eventful...we'll see what today has in store for me ^_^

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Salaam alaikum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh,

Alhamdolillah it's day 2 of fasting for me...and I just wanted to say RAMADAN MUBARAK to everyone! Insh'Allah everything is going well, and you're all enjoying Ramadan so far!

I just want to put it out there that I dislike working while I'm fasting. I feel like it takes up a lot of my day that could be used for doing other productive things...and when I come home I'm SO TIRED. However, alhamdolillah that I do have a job...and insh'Allah it will get easier...I've just never worked full time during Ramadan before. It's not like I'm doing anything physically demanding (unless you count lifting 20 pound boxes every now and then physically demanding...) it's just mentally draining. I stare at very crowded jewelry displays for 8 to 9 hours a day and try to organize them, and put more jewelry can be extremely frustrating because lots of things get tangled/put back in the wrong place/broken etc. It seems like sometimes I spend hours fixing something, only to have it be completely destroyed 15 minutes later. I often find myself wishing I could be doing something else more spiritually productive.

I'm sorry for the rather long complaint...I know I shouldn't but I'm just feeling a bit tired. My schedule during the weekdays looks something like this:

3:45 am-ish : get up for Suhoor, find something to eat and drink while trying not to make too much noise so as not to wake up the rest of the house
4:20 am-ish : pray Fajr, go back to bed for a bit more sleep
6:00 am : get up and get ready for work
6:30 am : drive to work
7am - 3 sometimes 3:30 sometimes 4pm : work
anywhere from 3:40-4:30: come home, pray dhohr, use internet, take nap
7:00pm: wake up, pray asr, read Qur'an until maghrib
7:50pm ish: eat iftar, pray maghrib, get ready to go to the masjid
9:10pm: drive to masjid
9:30pm-11:30pm: pray isha and tarawih at masjid
midnightish: arrive home, eat a small snack, drink some tea, collapse in heap on bed

lol I'm hoping that I'll get to work more on my goals during the weekends...right now though I'm just exhausted T_T. Time for a quick shower, then I'm going to the masjid for a halaqa, and insh'Allah I'll be eating iftar and staying for tarawih.

Salaam all! ^_^

Monday, August 9, 2010

Ramadan is Just Around the Corner!!

Alhamdolillah, it's that time of year again...Ramadan starts tomorrow night, insh'Allah!!
I'm so excited because Ramadan is my absolute favorite time of the year!

I have a really good feeling about this Ramadan because alhamdolillah I feel like I've made an effort to prepare myself this year, and I really hope that insh'Allah I can fully benefit from this blessed month.

Here are some of the goals I have created for myself:
- use my time wisely
- make an effort to spiritually re-connect with Allah(swt)
- offer my fard salaat on time, and offer sunnah prayers as well
- pray tarawih in congregation every night I can at the local Islamic center
- look for Laylat ul Qadr in the odd nights of the last 10 days of Ramadan (remember that according to the Islamic calendar, a new day starts at Maghrib, so insh'Allah look for Laylat ul Qadr on the nights of the 20th, 22nd, 24th, 26th, 28th days of Ramadan, because these will be the ODD nights!)
- finish the Qur'an in ARABIC (for me this is gonna be a stretch, but insh'Allah I'll do it!)
- start taking Qur'an classes on the weekends at the local Islamic center so that I can insh'Allah improve my Qur'an reading and comprehension skills
- read the Qur'an in ENGLISH with TAFSEER
- read my abridged version of hadith by Bukhari
- do some other Islamic reading when I'm feeling "bored" (as opposed to watching mindless TV)
- be more charitable

WOW looks like I'm gonna be busy, insh'Allah! I know that a lot of people probably share a lot of the same goals as I have, but I'm still curious to know, what are your personal goals for this Ramadan?

p.s. sorry for being MIA for a couple months...eep! I will try to be posting more often, even if it is about silly little things like what I ate for Iftar and Suhoor lol :P

May Allah(swt) grant you all a blessed and successful Ramadan, and may He(swt) accept your fasting and all of your good deeds, ameen!