Only the best

Bismillah…

the contrast. the depth.:

I love everything about this photo. The contrast, the depth, but mostly because it reminds me of Abbu.

Always on a mission
Gaze fixated on one clear path
Never shying away from hard work
Or from giving with love and generosity,
Putting forth his most sincere efforts with humble submission
Taking with him only the best, most beautiful and fragrant gifts of wisdom and inspiration.

Abbu.


It’s so quiet at home when Abbu and Ammi are away. Missing their stories and laughter .. their nostalgic jokes only made to be told in saraiki.. chai requests accompanied by timeless advice .. the creeking sound of the door opening and closing from trips to the masjid .. coming home from work to the the aroma of Ammi’s meals with spices I’m just now starting to learn .. hearing Abbu on the phone with friends speaking in lyrical metaphors .. waking up for Fajr to see their hands raised in du’a. The essence of sukoon and tranquility.. It’s beautiful how the the root letters of sukoon (س ك ن ) give the meaning of a dwelling, a home, a place of rest. May our homes always be places of rest, security, and mercy. Ameen.

May Allah (swa) protect our parents and raise their ranks, grant them only the best of this life and the next, increase their strength and health and make us a source of their continued happiness. Ameen.

-Fi Amanillah-

Time

Bismillah…

“Your time should not be without any structure, such that you occupy yourself arbitrarily with whatever comes along. Rather, you must take account of yourself and order your worship during the day and the night, assigning to each period of time an activity that must not be neglected nor replaced by another activity. By this ordering of time, the blessing in time will show itself. A person who leaves himself without a plan, not knowing what he is to do at any given moment, will spend most of his time fruitlessly.

Your time is your life, and your life is your capital: by it you make your trade, and by it you will reach the eternal bounties in the proximity of Allah. Every single breath of yours is a priceless jewel, because it is irreplaceable; once it is gone, there is no return for it. So do not be like fools who rejoice each day as their wealth increases while their lives decrease. What good is there in wealth that increases while one’s lifespan decreases?

Do not rejoice except in an increase of knowledge or an increase of good works. Truly they are your two friends who will accompany you in your grave, when your spouse, your wealth, your children, and your friends will remain behind.”

-Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (rahimahullah) | The Beginnings of Guidance

 Vintage alarm clocks.  I collect these.  My friend @Andrea Hoinka suggested I set them to the times my girls were born, I was married, etc.:
 -Fi Amanillah-

Feeling Whole

Bismillah..

The last months of the year can be thoroughly transformative if we are vigilant about how we utilize our time and structure our day. It’s somehow easier to distance ourselves from distractions, find our deeper truths, and really tune into our heart and mind without the regular hustle and bustle of work, school, etc. Alhumdulillah, we benefited from several great lessons and gatherings this past week to help us reconnect during our days off. A few points of benefit:

Surah Nuh: Ustadh Jamal presented the Story of Prophet Nuh to our community on Friday and in his delivery, one of the main areas of emphasis was on the importance of regular istighfar, seeking Allah’s forgiveness and mercy. He said that a lot of times, we seek abundance in rizq through apparent means such as increasing our experience, skills, accolades, etc., which is of course necessary on one level. But the way Allah tells us to seek abundance is through His forgiveness. Allah swa tells us:

فَقُلْتُ اسْتَغْفِرُوا رَبَّكُمْ إِنَّهُ كَانَ غَفَّارًا 

“Ask forgiveness of your Lord. Indeed, He is ever a Perpetual Forgiver.”

يُرْسِلِ السَّمَاء عَلَيْكُم مِّدْرَارًا 

“He will send [rain from] the sky upon you in [continuing] showers”.

وَيُمْدِدْكُمْ بِأَمْوَالٍ وَبَنِينَ وَيَجْعَل لَّكُمْ جَنَّاتٍ وَيَجْعَل لَّكُمْ أَنْهَارًا

“And give you increase in wealth and children and provide for you gardens and provide for you rivers.”

SubhanAllah :) What an amazing abode awaits the one who sincerely repents. Just look at the tremendous blessings that come from the act of humility and istighfar. Umar ibn Al Khattab (ra) once said, “Sit with those who consistently repent, for they have the softest of hearts”. May Allah make us from them.

Surah Nur:  My tafsir notes are too long to type here but every person should study this surah in depth and know more about it in addition to the famous ayah 35. It’s a strong surah that presents us with a foundation for morals in society. From the start of the Surah, Allah swa begins with a strong verse that foreshadows the ahkaam that are going to come ahead. Allah presents clear ahkaam with regards to zina, qadafli’aan, lowering the gaze, the issue of ifk is mentioned, and khimar. Then Allah presents us with preventative measures including isti’thaan, guarding oneself, and the etiquettes of eating and being a guest. Interestingly between these verses, Allah says in ayah 45 that “Allah has created every [living] creature from water. And of them are those that move on their bellies, and of them are those that walk on two legs, and of them are those that walk on four. Allah creates what He wills. Indeed, Allah is over all things competent.” Imam Yaseen mentioned one of the benefits of this ayah and its placement is that it helps us recognize that people and all creatures have different natures. When you are in a society, in a home, or in a community .. people will inevitably have differences in attitudes, personalities, temperaments. Having compassion towards people and understanding different people is central to the health and foundation of a family, a home, a community, and an overall society. Allah (swa) gives us such profound and perfect advice, and it is only in our benefit to listen attentively and find areas in our own lives to implement His counsel.

Shama’il: One of the most touching moments from our seerah session was hearing the description of Rasulullah (salallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) and what he looked like in preparation for battle. His blessed armor. His perfectly wrapped imama. His mubarak features and radiance .. اللّهُمّ صَلّ عَلَى مُحَمّدٍ

These gatherings and reminders allow us to feel whole again and patch up any parts of ourselves that started chipping away from the distractions of this life. May we be consistent in making istighfar, be conscious of Allah in our interactions with His creation, and return to Allah with a renewed sense of himmah. Ameen.

Wow! What a shot. #photography #perspective #trees | Via 500px, Flickr; photo credit SimonSun | pinned via @Arbor Day Foundation:

-Fi Amanillah-

Treasuring Moments

Bismillah…

Only when we see a changing future in front of our eyes do we stop to recognize that what once seemed to be the normal and mundane parts of our day will soon become a memory – The voices we grow accustomed to hearing, the conversations we get used to having, the places we frequent, the people and smiles that cross our paths, will all become a memory. Every moment will become a memory.

I wish this realization came sooner. Perhaps I would have been more appreciative, made more shukr, given more of myself. But that’s the thing about memories, and time, and wisdom – we learn through hindsight and reflection on the past. And still, reflection remains fruitless if we don’t internalize the lessons and truths we have become conscious of over time.

Memories also teach us that nothing is constant. Everything is bound to change sooner or later. Every creation of Allah points our attention to the nature of change such as within the qalb or in the alteration of days and nights. The only constant is Allah. Ar-Raqeeb – The watchful one. Our past, present, and future are all known to Him, subhanahu wata’ala, and in Him we place our trust and hope as we experience the life changes that come our way.

وَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ وَكَفَى بِاللَّهِ وَكِيلًا
[33:3]

Winter Photography - Holiday Fairy Lights in Trees, Festive Winter Scene, Fine Art Landscape Photograph, Large Wall Art:

Takeaways from this late night reminiscing session:

  • A is for appreciation.
  • Treasure each moment.
  • Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, be fully there.
  • Increase in deliberate acts of kindness.
  • The clock will not stop ticking; make the most of your time in every area of life.
  • Make life about creating and cherishing awesome memories inshaAllah.
  • During any times of change, look back at the road you have traveled thus far and know that just as Allah guided your every step, He can and will help you take the next step forward inshaAllah.

-Fi Amanillah-

Al-‘Aẓīm

Bismillah…

With the extra time off alhumdulillah, I got a chance to get ahead with my lesson plans for the next few weeks. My students all did great on their tests from last week and I was impressed by some of the written responses and essays they wrote :) It’s really nice to see them meeting many of the goals and outcomes I set out to achieve at the start of the year. For next week inshaAllah, we will be covering the meanings from Salah based on Sh. Abdul Nasir’s course. This gem really stood out as I was prepping:

Al-‘Aẓīm means the One who is permanently strong. Al-‘Aẓīm comes from the same root as the word ‘aẓum (pl: ‘iẓām), meaning bones. The root of the word means: strength, firmness, stability. Al-‘Aẓīm means ‘One that is constantly strong, firm and stable.’ In the position of rukū‘, a person is unstable and unbalanced. All of your weight is leaning forward. We willingly put ourselves in a vulnerable, weak, unbalanced and unstable position, and we attribute strength, firmness and stability to Allāh (Subhana Rabbi al Aẓīm).

-Fi Amanillah-

Timely

“Later that night
I held an atlas in my lap
Ran my fingers across the whole world
And whispered
Where does it hurt?

It answered:
Everywhere
Everywhere
Everywhere.”

– Warsan Shire

Cloud 925

Bismillah…

24 was a splendid year alhumdulillah. New beginnings, personal growth, and a heightened sense of excitement for life people only read about in novels. :)

The themes for the past year were many but I wanted to document a few that I hope will carry on through the next several years inshaAllah.

Al Akhir: I thought of Allah’s name Al Akhir a lot over the last few months. When we turn to Allah (swa) for something specific, and He is SO generous in blessing us and answering our call, it is incumbent upon us to intensify our du’as and shukr after seeing Allah’s response. Sometimes we make du’a for something and if for some reason Allah had a different plan, we feel our du’as are not working, but we fail to realize that Allah (swa) is not just our means, but Allah is the end. Our nearness to Allah (swa) is the ultimate goal and by either granting us what we asked for or preventing it from us, Allah is making known to us His encompassing knowledge and wisdom.

Creativity: Having so much time off over summer proved to be exactly what I needed. It’s amazing the kinds of things you realize you can do when you have free time and health. I got into writing, painting, mixed media art, read a lot more, executed complicated recipes. It was a wonderful summer with an even more wonderful culmination alhumdulillah. Making time for creativity is essential and I’m glad I’ve opened that door for myself to make it a weekly habit. My perfectionism still gets the best of me at times but I’m trying hard to quiet the doubts that prevent me from initiating art or any other form of creativity. When my paintbrush finally gets moving or my pen makes that first imprint of ink, there is a pure sense of rejuvenation and catharsis that comes from starting from scratch.

Husn ad-Dhann Billah: There has never been a person who relied on Allah and had a good opinion of Him, subhanahu wata’ala but was left disappointed. When we think well of Allah and see His rahmah in every situation He places us in, our tawakkul increases, our heart softens, and we realize our own limitations, thereby making Allah (swa) our source of ease and comfort .. not seeking it out through worldly means. There is no one more truthful, sincere, compassionate, and loving than Allah (swa) so why turn to anyone else? I thought of how Allah (swa) brought me up over the past years. We grow physically, mentally, homes change, families change, ups and downs, laughs and tears. Allah sees us through all of this, He supports us, makes things easy for us :)  Seeing positive intentions and having a good opinion of Allah (swa) should not just be limited to Allah, but we should try to see these positive traits in others as well especially when there are apparent differences over any kind of issue.

Balance: This is probably the most important theme and one that will always be a work in progress. I was at my alma mater two days ago and walked by the same study areas where friends and I spent hours laboring away on assignments just a few years back. Little had changed – the same buzzing of fluorescent lights in the JC, students chatting away about every topic imaginable, MSA students heading to the musalla for salah. Being back there reminded me of a lot of things I gained while in school but also of how imbalanced my life was at that point .. or perhaps, it was balanced for that time and place. I’ve always had a tendency to outstretch myself but this year I made an intentional effort to give every part of life its due right.

Patience: The fruits of patience make a person wish they were never impatient in the first place! I told a dear friend about some great news and a recent visit to Canada and she looked back in awe .. “Asma the only place I’ve  heard you talk about for the last year was Canada! See.. Allah listened!”  :) One of my favorite quotes on patience: “Patience  means to be farsighted enough to trust the end result of a process. What does patience mean? It means to look at the thorn and see the rose, to look at the night and see the dawn. Impatience means to be shortsighted as to not able to see the outcome. The lovers of God never run out of patience, for they know that time is needed for the crescent moon to become full.” – Elif Shafak

Salawat: Among the many lessons we learned from Umrah was the importance of making consistent salawat upon the Prophet (saw). There are many virtues of sending Salwat and among them, I’m especially motivated by knowing the Messenger of Allah (saw)  returns our greeting and naturally, our love for him increases. Allahumma Salli’ala Muhammad <3. Such an easy thing to do throughout the day.

I’ve been experimenting with a new form of creative writing tied into a new art journal as seen below.. It felt kind of cool writing about myself like a literary character. After writing this, I found myself being more observant of my students the next day as I tried to describe their story in third person. Neat way to look at the world. :)

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-Fi Amanillah-