She’s Fine Now

الَّذِينَ إِذَا أَصَابَتْهُم مُّصِيبَةٌ قَالُواْ إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ -القران الكريم 2:156

Who, when calamity befalls them, say, “Verily, to God we belong and, to Him we shall return.” -The Holy Quran 2:156

Last week, on the evening of July 27th, my eldest paternal aunt, Sayeda Abdoun, passed away peacefully in Egypt.

My father, who is there, tells me that her burial and funeral went as she had wished. He said everything came together smoothly, almost as if she had described what would happen when she passes.

Of course, he is devastated.

She was a second mother to him. It was her home where he got any of his studying done throughout high school and college before heading out to America. It was her home where my parents were wed. And it was her home where my dad preferred to stay during his visits after retirement.

I was blessed to have met the aunt I resemble the most back in 2011. We spent so many days and nights just talking about anything and everything like two girlfriends. Despite our age, generational and lifestyle differences, “Ametuh” as I’d call her, almost always understood me.

One afternoon, we were talking about shopping and she shared how as a young girl, all she wanted was to go to school wearing new shoes and carrying the prettiest bag. She was married young to a man she would love for decades after his death. So much so, she couldn’t even part with his clothing.

“I miss him”, she’d tell me. “He did everything for me, especially when I was sick after the failed pregnancies and difficult births.”

She was very much a homebody as she got older. Yet one night, out of the blue, she asked to join me on a short walk to see my eldest uncle. During our walk, she’d tell me about the roads and people that came upon our paths. After an eventful evening, we got home and I asked her if she was OK after such walks. And she said with a smile, “I’m fine.”

Ametuh’s life was not easy and her life’s story inspired me to pursue greater things than the “norms of society”. She fell for the norms, she didn’t go to school wearing new shoes and carrying the prettiest bag.

She lived through her two children after her husband’s passing, becoming a grandmother of eight and a great grandmother of nine. She wanted nothing but the best for her family. When all was good with them at home, she’d quietly go to her room and fall asleep. Should i go in to check on her, “I’m fine” was her answer.

As much as I’m heartbroken and saddened by Ametuh’s sudden passing, I know she is resting in quiet peace. I know she’s fine now.

Please keep Ametuh in your thoughts and prayers. May she rest in God’s eternal peace and light… Ameen.

A Prayer for 2016

Has 2015 come to an end already?

Alhamdulillah, this year was an interesting one for me but may not have been for others around the world. Back home, this year was a violent one in the US. The refugee crisis struck a cord with many of us around the world. The GCC saw a dip in the economy that made us say “good bye” to many of our expat friends. We’ve also had to say too many “good byes” to family and friends whom departed us for the heavens.

Praying for some form of peace and calm back home in the US. Praying for some form of stability for those trying to escape these unnecessary wars. Praying for some form of unity for those with many miles between us. Praying for God’s eternal peace and light upon out loved ones that have left this life. Ameen.

I pray that your year was good and that the next year only gets better. I pray that your year was full of knowledge and that the next year only gets better. I pray that your year was full of compassion and that the next year only gets better. I pray that you found your path, your place, your peace and that the next year only gets better. Ameen.

May you and yours have a blessed and rewarding 2016.

Image c/o Revista

Hadith of the Week

“Prayer in congregation is twenty seven times better than prayer prayed individually.” -Prophet Mohamed (PBUH), [Bukhari, Muslim]

Source: Friday Nasiha, Issue 841

My Public Love Letter To You

You are someone that owes me money. I don’t want it back, please donate it. You are someone that speaks ill of me. It’s fine for my actions speak louder than that. You are someone I no longer associate myself with for whatever reason. I hope you are doing well nonetheless. You are someone that “unfriended” me on Facebook. I’m probably still not aware of that. You are someone that retweeted my latest on Twitter. Thanks for the RT. You are a devoted follower of my rants. I followed you back by the way.

You are a beautiful, smart, funny, charming, awesome human being. You are someone I truly do love.

My dearest beloved,

I love you. I absolutely love you.

You are in my heart, my thoughts and my prayers daily. As the holiest of days is upon us, I wanted to be sure that you knew how I felt  and this letter is my humble attempt at expressing my love to you.

You are my mother. You are my father. You are my sister. You are my brother. You are my niece. You are my nephew. You are my uncle. You are my aunt. You are my grandmother. You are my grandfather. You are my cousin. You are my sister from another mister. You are my brother from another mother. You are my closest confidant. You are my teacher. You are a student of mine. You are my colleague. You are my agent. You are my client. You are an acquaintance. You are someone I met once, maybe twice.

You are someone I bumped into at a MUNI metro station in San Francisco a few years back. You are the shop keeper that gave me a great deal on a pair of shoes at one of Cairo’s many bazaars in the summer of 2011. You are the smiling officer whom directed traffic at a round about in Doha last month.  You are the barista that made my large mocha just right in the Financial District. You are the Tahrir Square protester that advised me to not join because of my American passport. You are the manager of a restaurant off Airport Road that stated I wasn’t allowed in with my friends “out of respect for my culture.”

You are the person that held the elevator door for me. You are the person that let me go ahead of you at the grocery store because I only had three things. You are the security guard that let me park in the VIP section of the bank for just a few moments. You are the person that complimented my English accent. You are the person that called my phone by mistake. You are the person that smiled at me yesterday.

You are someone that owes me money. I don’t want it back, please donate it. You are someone that speaks ill of me. It’s fine for my actions speak louder than that. You are someone I no longer associate myself with for whatever reason. I hope you are doing well nonetheless. You are someone that “unfriended” me on Facebook. I’m probably still not aware of that. You are someone that retweeted my latest on Twitter. Thanks for the RT. You are a devoted follower of my rants. I followed you back by the way.

You are a beautiful, smart, funny, charming, awesome human being. You are someone I truly do love.

I wanted you to know that every time I raise my hands in supplication, I include you in my prayers.

“Dear God, I pray for all that have asked me for a prayer and for all that may need a prayer.”
“.اللهم ادعي لكل من طلب مني الدعاء و لكل من يحتاج  الدعاء”

I wanted you to know that every time I kneel in salat, I make a prayer for you.

“Dear God, bestow us with ease to our situations, cure for our ill and mercy upon our deceased.”
“.اللهم يسر لنا ظروفنا و أشفي مرضانا و أرحم موتنا”

I wanted you to know that at least once a day, I praise God for you.

“Alhamdulillah for everything bestowed upon my path.”
“.الحمدلله على كل شيءٍ تبعثا في سكتي”

I wanted you to know that no matter the reasons, the distance or the unknown, I harbor no anger, dislike or hate towards you. I truly simply just love you.

Ramadan is upon us and I’ve learned many years ago that harboring any anger, dislike or hate towards another, dissolves one’s prayers and fasts. One’s good deeds are not accepted. You see, we must be of clear minds, pure hearts and good intentions when we enter into a conversation and action for God. So the thought of every supplication, every kneel and every praise that includes you not being accepted is in itself the reason why since then I’ve practiced to enter every conversation and action for God with the clearest of minds, purist of hearts and the best of intentions.

Believe me my beloved when I say, it’s an entire different feeling when one is not harboring anything but love. You end up making a prayer for those whom have hurt you, did you wrong, misjudged you, forgotten you. You end up loving them for the sake of God, with the intention that your love may uplift them from what may have caused them to do such things to you or anyone in the first place.

RamadanMubarak-hadeethI want nothing from you except for three things. The first is to love me back in your own way for the sake of God. This will lead to the second, to forgive me for anything I may have done that offended or hurt you. These two will lead to the third, to include us in at least one of your prayers a day.

If you can’t find it in your heart to love me, know that the first 10 days of Ramadan is God’s mercy upon us. If you can’t find it in your heart to forgive me, know that the second 10 days  of Ramadan is God’s forgiveness upon us. If you can’t find it in your heart to pray for us, know that the third 10 days of Ramadan is God emancipating us from the punishment. I humbly ask you to please make an effort with the knowledge that I love you, forgive you and have you in my prayers. Yesterday, today, tomorrow and always.

May you and yours have a joyous, rewarding and blessed Ramadan.

With love,

Ms. Hala

Disclaimer: My Arabic is not perfect. If there are any errors you find, kindly forward it to me so that I may correct it as I want my love letter to you to be perfect… =)

Ramadan in Qatar

It’s been a few weeks now since I’ve moved to Doha, Qatar from San Francisco, California. So far, I’m settling in slowly but surely, taking in this diverse atmosphere and doing my best to survive this ridiculous summer heat. I have gone out and about exploring bits and pieces of Doha which I’m sure you’re aware of from my many posts on Twitter and foursquare. Not sure how much of that is going to continue as Ramadan approaches.

My favorite time of year is about two days away. As I sit trying to figure out what I need to know about Ramadan in Qatar, I was reminded by my weekly email subscription from Friday Nasiha that this will be my first Ramadan alone, away from my family. It’s not going to be like when I was in grad school a few years back and working long hours where I only had iftar at home maybe once or twice a week. It’s not going to be like when I was in Egypt last year constantly surrounded by extended family and friends.

Realizing this has officially made me homesick.

I had to appreciate the efforts with some of the tips for spending Ramadan alone away from family which I’ve reposted below. I am blessed that I would be spending Ramadan in Qatar with friends I deem family however I appreciate and will definitely be utilizing tips #3, #4 and #6!

Are you spending Ramadan alone this year? What tips here work for your situation? Do you have other tips to add on? Any tips for spending Ramadan in Qatar?

Cool Tips!

Lonely Ramadan

For most Muslims, Ramadan is family time. You get up together, eat Iftar together, pray together, etc. But what if you don’t have your family near you?

Waking up in a lonely apartment and eating food you’ve sometimes burnt in an effort to catch Suhur in time are some of the realities of being a single Muslim in Ramadan. But there are ways to make Ramadan special when you’re on your own. Here are few ideas.

1. Establish a Suhur telephone tree
Get a couple of friends together and establish a telephone tree to wake each other up for Suhur. Establish a time to call and a schedule of who will call whom. Make it a little exciting by adding some funny phrases every week that will really wake everyone.

2. Invite people over for Iftar
Even if even you couldn’t eat the food the last time you cooked, invite people over for Iftar. Make it a potluck, order pizza or if you can afford it, get it catered. The food isn’t the thing. The blessing is in the company, and you’ll be rewarded for feeding everyone. Make sure to especially invite those who are away from their families.

3. Attend prayers at the local mosque/MSA
Even if the Imam’s recitation isn’t the best and the behavior of other Muslims can be more than annoying, try to attend Tarawih prayers organized by your local mosque or your Muslim Students’ Association (MSA). While praying alone in peace and quiet is great, praying shoulder-to-shoulder with other Muslims with whom you have nothing in common except your faith is a unique and uplifting experience.

4. Keep the Quran playing when you are alone
It’s often tempting to keep the TV or radio on when we’re alone to avoid the silence. This Ramadan, find a Quran reciter you like and play their recitations during those moments when you want to fill your place with some sound. Choose selections you’d like to memorize, like the 30th part of the Quran.

5. Take care of others
Know a new person at the school/office? Is a friend who lives nearby having problems with their spouse? Or is someone you know having money problems? This Ramadan, reach out with an attentive ear, a generous hand, and most importantly, an open heart to others. Don’t let these small opportunities for gaining blessings slip you by.

6. Pick and pursue Ramadan goals 
Choose at least three goals to pursue this Ramadan. Whether it’s curbing a bad habit or starting a good one, doing this will help you focus and work harder this month to change for the better. It takes 21 days to establish a good habit. With Ramadan, we’ve got 30. Why not make the best of it by picking up the good?

Compiled From:
A single Muslim’s guide to Ramadan” – SoundVision.com

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Short Break

Thought I’d share this from my subscription to Friday Nasiha (or Friday Advice)… very well put! Happy Friday everyone!

Al-Jumuah (The Congregation) Sura 62: Verses 9-10

“Believers! When the call to prayer is made on Fridays, go straightaway to the prayer and leave off your trading. This is best for you, if you but knew it. When the prayer is finished, disperse in the land and seek God’s bounty. Remember God often so that you may be successful.”

Every now and then, people need a period of time when they free themselves from their preoccupation with earning a living and the attractions of worldly life. They need such periods when they can be in close contact with their Lord, glorifying Him and experiencing the happiness resulting from dedication to His service. They need to fill their hearts and lungs with the pure, clean and refreshing air that comes with such dedication.

The Islamic system provides a perfect balance between the needs of life on earth, with all that it requires of work and effort, and the need to be away from all this for a short while to attend to worship. Time spent away from the preoccupations of this life is necessary to keep the heart alive. Without it, it cannot live up to the great trust God has given us and nor can it fulfil its duties. It is important to remember God while we are busy earning our living, for such remembrance transforms our work activities into acts of worship.

Compiled FromIn The Shade Of The Quran” – Sayyid Qutb

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Memorial Day Prayer

This Memorial Day, I’m praying for all the lives lost yesterday on the Flotilla as they defied all odds to deliver humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza. Praying for all the lives lost during the fight for justice, equality, freedom and peace. Praying for all lives lost in the mist to save a life.

These are all warriors who gave their life for the cause… warriors that may or may not have dunned the uniform.

May they rest in God’s eternal peace…