Love Yourself

{ Friday, March 30, 2012 }
Look into the mirror
You are you
A gift to the world
And part of God's beautiful creation
You have a purpose
You don't have to be anyone else
Or do anything else
to be worthy
Celebrate your existence
All the good and all the bad
Your scars and your treasures
How can you not be beautiful
Look at the mountains, the sky, the flowers
You are made by the same Creator
Tell me, how can you not be beautiful?
Give yourself your biggest smile
Like you would welcome an old friend
Love yourself
Recognise your worth, your richness, your radiance
And ask yourself 
How would my life look like
If I considered myself good enough?
How would my life look like
If I had the courage to follow my heart?
You are here
You are loved,
More than a mother loves her child
If you feel empty
Only God's love can fill you up
You are sufficient
You don't need any man or any woman
to give you a reason to live
Find yourself
under the mud
Wash yourself clean of all your illusions
Very lovingly
You are you
You are enough
You are worthy
Exactly as you are.


No black or white for me

{ Thursday, March 29, 2012 }
Assalaamu aleykum,

I know I've been guilty of it too in the past, but I'm getting tired of these black and white explanations to motivate beliefs and arguments. 
For example, always using singers and models as an example of the ills of the dunya. Yes, there are superficial people out there, who are dependent on their looks and money, but not every non-Muslim is like that. I have some non-Muslim friends who are very deep, and have very interesting passions that go way beyond looks, money or vanity. I understand that Muslim speakers use it as an example of the fact that being superficial can lead to a lot of hurt, but lately I feel it has been over-used. It's almost like it's superficial people vs. the Muslims. I agree, there is a lesson to be learned in how all things pass us by and nothing remains the same, but not only Muslims have come to this conclusion. 

Second, the headscarf and modesty. There are not only tramps and veiled, modest women out there. There is a whole spectrum in between. If you look around you, in the West, as well as in some Muslim countries, you will see that each woman has defined her own modesty and boundaries. Some women are fine with wearing very short clothes, while others would never dream of wearing a short skirt. You don't have to wear a headscarf to be modest. And the headscarf doesn't guaranty it either. You can wear a scarf on your head, but if you wear short or tight clothes underneath, it's not hijaab.
 I still think that in my society, too much importance is placed on looks and how "sexy" a woman is. But that doesn't mean every girl falls for it, Muslim or not. I wear headscarf because I believe it's pleasing to God, and it adds to my modesty. It's a struggle against my own nafs sometimes, because of the general opinion about hijaab. But I don't believe it makes me any more or less than a non-veiled woman. We all have our own struggles and path in life, and the key to make it work is to allow for shades of grey. Tolerance. Respect. Seeing the good in others and remaining humble. Having a sound heart and to not feel any superiority over others, because that is like drinking poison. 

Beyond good and evil, there is a field. I'll meet you there.

- Rumi

Bi Sara7a: The honest truth

{ Friday, March 23, 2012 }
Assalaamu aleykum,

I have to admit, it's hard wearing hijaab. I know what my ideal thinking should be, I know it all too well. I should only care about pleasing God. I'm trying to. But I've always been someone who cares too much about what other people think. Part of why I wanted to wear hijaab is to make a stance and finally get rid of this need to please. Only, I feel this need is catching up with me.
I'm not thinking of taking the hijaab off again. I just find myself sometimes thinking "what were you thinking putting it on when you have zero support in your direct environment?" 
It's a chore to go outside, to take the bus and to walk around in the city (which is mostly where I'm heading to). I wish I had this super imaan where I'm totally immune for people's looks and opinions, and I couldn't care less about running into someone I know. But I find myself caring. I find myself dreading the 3 first bus stops in case someone gets on that I know. I have this irrational fear that they will come up to me and shout "Why are you wearing headscarf?! Are you a Muslim now or what?!" And everyone would turn to stare at me. 
People stare. I can never just blend in anymore. I feel people's disapproval. Of course I knew this would happen, but you never truly know what it's like until you are in the middle of it. 
When I walk around in the city center, I'm terrified of running into one of my family members. My mother is very ashamed of me wearing headscarf and hasn't told anyone, and I just don't know how they would react. I do know their opinion about the headscarf and it ain't good. 
As a result, I find myself going out less, just to avoid all this. This isn't exactly what I expected. I make a lot of duaa to be strong and steadfast, but I just don't seem to get over myself. Someone has already asked me why I just don't take it off if it's such a hassle. But how can I compare my problems with the ones that the early Muslims faced and justify that I would take it back off? There is no justification, because it involves my own fears more than anything else. I've come this far and I'm not backing off. I just don't know how to get rid of this constant anxiety when I'm outside. I make dhikr and recite Quran in my head on the bus, but it seems like I lose my connection with God due to the fear and stress I experience. 

I could really use some advice :-(

A Song to Remember Them

{ Wednesday, March 21, 2012 }
Assalaamu aleykum,

There was a public remembrance today in Lommel, of 17 victims who died in the bus crash in Switzerland, 15 of whom were children around the age of 12. Tomorrow the other victims will be buried in Leuven. I followed the service on TV, and was very touched. It's so sad to see so many young lives ended. Normally, at the age of 12, your life has only just begun. 
One of the bus drivers had also recently gotten married, and his wife gave a testimony of their love for each other.
The King and Queen of Belgium were present, and also the Dutch crown-prince and his wife, because six of the children who died were Dutch. Lommel is very near to the border between Flanders and the Netherlands. The host said during the service that it was dedicated to deceased children and their families everywhere. 


 I want to insert a moment of remembrance here, on my blog, by sharing the song "Dante's Prayer" by Loreena McKennitt. May the souls of the deceased rest in peace, and may their family and friends find comfort, hope and strength to live on.

When the dark wood fell before me
And all the paths were overgrown
When the priests of pride say there is no other way
I tilled the sorrows of stone

I did not believe because I could not see
Though you came to me in the night
When the dawn seemed forever lost
You showed me your love in the light of the stars

Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me

Then the mountain rose before me
By the deep well of desire
From the fountain of forgiveness
Beyond the ice and the fire

Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me

Though we share this humble path, alone
How fragile is the heart
Oh give these clay feet wings to fly
To touch the face of the stars

Breathe life into this feeble heart
Lift this mortal veil of fear
Take these crumbled hopes, etched with tears
We'll rise above these earthly cares

Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me... 

Gems of the week

{ Monday, March 19, 2012 }
Assalaamu aleykum,

I have decided to start a weekly post called "Gems of the week". This post will provide links to articles that I read and loved. Most will have to do with spirituality, and can be from Islamic and non-Islamic sources.

Since this is my first post on the matter, and I've only just started collecting the articles, I have only two links this week. I'll have more next week, inshaAllah.

So, the gems of the week are:

Ar-Razzaq (The Provider) written by Jinan Bastaki

An article about how God provides for us and a good reminder.

Trust is Shorthand for Going With the Flow by Marianne Williamson

A short article on how to trust ourselves and God as we go through all what life has in store for us.

How to deal with failure?

{ Sunday, March 18, 2012 }
Assalaamu aleykum!

On Thursday, I was called to do a job interview the following day. I was excited, because I wanted to make my own money and gain some independence from my parents. It was my first job interview, and I didn't know what to expect, so I visited my friend who works in the same company. She told me that I would have to do some tests, a lot of tests in fact. This made me feel nervous. She told me not to worry, but I did. I wanted the job, but I couldn't really know if this job would be good for me or not, so I prayed to God: "Please, if this job is good for me, let me have it. If it is bad for me, take it away from me". A kind of mini istikhara. I didn't pray to God to give me the job no matter what, because we as humans can never completely see the end results of something. God is the Most Wise, so He knows what's best for you.

I had told my mother on the phone about the job interview, and when I came back from my friend and found her at home, she was all of a sudden much kinder. I don't know why really, maybe because I'd told her the previous night that I would find a job and live on my own if she was so ashamed of me wearing hijaab. Maybe she got scared, because I seemed to be serious? Allahu 'Alem.
The following morning I left for the job interview. It's a bit painful to say, but they sent me back home after the first test. It was a phone test. I had to help a person who had questions about her taxes, which is something I know nothing about (prior knowledge was also not required). Anyway, I can't make my voice sound confident if I know nothing about the subject, so they didn't think me suitable for the job. I have to admit my ego was bruised, and I even wondered if my hijaab had anything to do with it, that they dismissed me so easily. But in the end, I hadn't asked God to give me the job no matter what, I had only asked to give me the job if it would be good for me! Maybe I can't see now why it wouldn't be good for me, but God most certainly does. And just doing the job interview had some positive results. I gained more experience in what's expected, and my parents are much kinder for the moment. Alhamdulillah.

God never promised us that everything we undertook would go swell. He did promise that He would reward those who are patient and put their trust in Him. Those who turn to Him in good and bad times, and have faith, even if things don't go their way. We are tested, so that we would learn to let go of our superficial attachment to results and success, and instead learn to rely completely on Him, because the reality is that we are in desperate need of Him.
So I will do my best to put my ego aside, and instead thank God for saving me from a job that would have been bad for me.

Allah swt says in the Quran:

"If My servants ask about Me, I am near. I answer the call of the caller when he calls on Me. They should therefore respond to Me and believe in Me so that hopefully they will be rightly guided." (Surat al-Baqara: 186)

"As for those who believe and do right actions - We impose on no soul any more than it can bear - they are the Companions of the Garden, remaining in it timelessly, for ever." (Surat al A'raf: 42)

"But as for him who is miserly and self-satisfied, and denies the Good, We will pave his way to difficulty. His wealth will not help him when he plummets to the depths. Assuredly, it is for Us to give guidance. (Surat al-layl: 8-12)

So everytime we fail at something we wanted to succeed in, we have to do our best to find the lessons and to show patience and faith. God is near, and He is our only true Sustainer and our best Guardian.

"Did We not lift up your heart and relieve you of the burden which weighed down your back? Did We not give you high renown? For truly, with hardship comes ease; truly, with hardship comes ease." (Surat al-inshirah: 1-6)

"You who believe! Remember Allah's blessing to you when forces came against you and We sent a wind against them and other forces you could not see. Allah sees what you do." (Surat al-Ahzab:9)

"Victory comes from no one but Allah. Allah is Almighty, All-Wise." (Surat al-Anfal: 10)

"Allah is your Protector. And He is the best of helpers." (Surat al-Imran: 150)

"If Allah helps you, no one can vanquish you. If He forsakes you, who then can help you? So the believers should put their trust in Allah." (Surat al-Imran: 160)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "How remarkable a believer's affair is! For it is always to his advantage, and this is peculiar to none other than a believer. If something good happens to him, he gives thanks to Allah and this is to his advantage, and if something harmful happens to him, he endures it, and this is to his advantage also." (Sahih Muslim)

Alhamdulillah Rab al-Alameen. May Allah swt make us belong to those who are patient and have faith in the face of difficulty, and grant us Paradise, ameen.

There Are No Words

{ Friday, March 16, 2012 }

28 people died, from whom 22 are children. In one second.

There are no words.

Inna illahi w inna ilayhi raji'oon.

I can only lift my hands and pray.

Allahuma, please shower the souls of the deceased with Your love, mercy and forgiveness. Please grant them jannah, and let their death not be in vain.

Allahuma, please heal the wounded. Restore their health and shower them with Your love and compassion. Let them find a way to go on, and let them find Your light to cling to.

Allahuma, please bless the families and friends of all those involved with Your love and mercy. Make the burden easier to bear. Please let them find a way to turn their sorrow into light. Please let them not be alone with their sadness, but always find someone to talk to, and care.


If you don't know what I'm talking about, please watch this:

Six days of wearing Hijaab

{ Wednesday, March 14, 2012 }
Assalaamu aleykum!

Last Thursday I started to wear hijaab, alhamdulillah. I had a second conversation with my mother, and I was under the impression that she was more understanding, so I decided to take my chance. However, this six days have not been easy at all. My mother has made a lot of fights with me, and has basically already ridiculed the whole concept of Islam in my face. I try to stay calm, but it seems she doesn't want to accept, or be seen with me, wearing hijaab. She already told me to not wear it when we have guests, when I go out with her or when we go to family. She gives me cold and disapproving looks, and it really gets to me. I've been feeling miserable and depressed because of her, or rather, because of my attachment to her. It's already hard to walk out the door with hijaab, because nobody wear hijaab in my neighborhood, and they stare at me as if I'm an alien. But that I expected, and I don't mind. But if I come home after that, and have to face a whole discussion with my mother, that's very hard for me.
But if all this will bring me closer to Allah swt, then it's worth it alhamdulillah.
I listened to a lecture by Yasmine Mogahed, and she said that everything that's causing you pain in your life, is a sign of wrong attachment. Because your primary attachment should be to Allah swt, and you should have faith in Him. He is the only One who can truly help you, and He is the best Protector.
So I should learn to let go of my need of my mum approving of me, because I think she never will. I should learn to only care about God's opinion of me. I can't say it's easy, but inshaAllah I will learn.

I also found a hijaab style, alhamdulillah.

Why should I stay loyal to you?

{ Friday, March 9, 2012 }
Dear culture,

Why should I stay loyal to you?
 Have you not told me lies since I was born? Have you not tried to convince me time and time again that my worth depended only on my looks? Have I not suffered for it in primary school, and again in high school, because I wasn't popular and sexy enough?

Tell me, what do you have to offer me?
Yes, I value freedom of speech like you do, but I don't appreciate the right to insult whomever you like. To me, respect is still a keyword, and has not yet been erased from my dictionary.
You claim to stand firm against discrimination, yet Muslims don't count to you as worthy citizens and are reduced to a second-class status. You find ways to defend yourself, and you don't realise how you take away my rights as a human being.
You claim to be superior to all other civilizations, and you think you have them all figured out. Wasn't it Socrates, one of your ancestors, who said "The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing."
But I know that you are not the one to admit your shortcomings. You like boasting, rivalry, greed and dividing people. Your favorite saying is "the end justifies the means." Do you blame me for taking a step back and looking at you with suspicion? Do you blame me for trying to find something more meaningful and humane?
Yes, you have your virtues. As your daughter I'll be the first to appreciate them. Yet your flaws, invisible to many, have become so apparent to me over the years that I don't feel the need to stay loyal anymore. I'll stay Western, of course, but with the help of God, I'll follow a path that encourages me to respect my body and my worth. I know I won't have your support, but I'll learn to look past that. Instead of trying so hard to please men, I'll cover my body from their sight and be beautiful to God. Instead of seeking my worth in doing the same things as men and seeing them as the standard, I'll celebrate my distinctiveness and find my worth in my own femininity.
I know that covering my head is heresy to you, and I'll have to fight for my own worth. I know you won't like me anymore, and that we'll end up being only acquaintances. I don't feel sorry.  Maybe one day we'll be able to greet each other as old friends, when you have learned that not all what glitters is gold. Until then I say be at peace and may God guide you to the straight path!

How do you tie your hijaab?

{ Monday, March 5, 2012 }
Assalaamu aleykum w rahmatullah!

I have a question for my sisters. :)
How do you tie your hijaab? I've been looking for a style that would suit me. I've watched a bunch of hijaab tutorials on YouTube, but I find that either a bit of my neck still shows, which I don't like, or the style doesn't suit me or I just can't reproduce the same thing as in the tutorial, leaving me looking silly. I also think that some hijaab styles that don't use a pin or only one are not really safe, because here in Belgium we have a lot of wind and I don't want my hijaab flying off my head. ;)
So I could use some tips on finding a secure hijaab style that is simple and modest, inshaAllah. I figured it would be no use in pressing the matter with my parents, if I don't even know how to tie one yet. ;)

JazakAllah Kheiran :)
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