ANTITHESIS Q24.35, 40

I love a number of verses of the Qur’an for various reasons but these verses are one of my favourites because of the contrast. The comparison of the parable of Allah’s ‘Light upon Light’ juxtaposed with the state of a disbeliever’s ‘darkness upon darkness’, is striking. The description is so powerful that one is dazzled by the luminousness of the light but struck blind by the profoundness of the darkness.
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Imagine the misfortune of being dragged into such debilitating dreariness after enjoying such gleaming brilliance; or the good fortune of being admitted into such dazzling radiance after dwelling in dismally depressing darkness.

SubhanAllah!

What is/are your favourite verse(s)?

FUNKY HAJIA Q2.120, 138

I used to be called ‘funky Hajia’ in the university. Funky loosely meant that I was up-to-date, fashionable, a sociable. Hajia is the term used to describe women who have gone for Hajj but loosely used to address women generally in Northern Nigeria. I despised the name as much as I despised when someone said, ‘But you don’t look (or talk) like a Muslim!’ ‘And how do Muslims look?’ I would often retort.
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Funnily enough, there was a time I liked that title and being told I did not seem Muslim. I used to think it was a compliment. I used to think that meant I was refined and classy. Until I realised that those of us addressed this way were those who were on the lowest rungs of the Iman ladder. We were just starting to practise Islam and had not gotten our dressing properly; we fixed nails and used wigs, socialised freely with the opposite sex and weren’t so strict with things like salaah, fasting and alcohol.

In a bid to seem more socially accepted, we refuse to improve on ourselves islamically because, let’s face it, it’s cool to be called ‘funky’ while practising the deen! It’s like eating your cake and having it. It’s replacing honey with the cheap high-fructose corn syrup; tainting quality caviar with watery broth. It’s illogical!

We have been singled out by Allah for His beautiful and perfected religion, created in the best of ways but we insist on diluting ourselves in order to be thought of as a ‘happening chick’ or ‘man’s man’. Allah has set us apart from the rest so why do we slavishly imitate others when they should try to be like us instead? Why do we make cool what is not Islam when what is cool instead is Islam? We should blaze the trail for others to follow.

Nothing should deter us from striving to be better Muslims living according to the Qur’an and Sunnah to the best of our abilities. Nothing; and definitely not the need to be ‘funky’.

May Allah facilitate this for us.

NOM-DE-PLUME Q51.55

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While preparing to host this blog, I decided on the pseudonym ‘Keidi’ for relative anonymity because I was uncomfortable with the idea that my life will be compared with what I write. Besides, I am unimportant in this equation . I only seek to remind us of the Qur’an and Sunnah and surely, believers benefit from a reminder. I may change my mind about anonymity in future but for now, this is it.

I am a struggling Muslimah. I face internal conflict. Every. Single. Day. I struggle with Salaah, Sawm, voluntary acts of sunnah, my manners, reading and following the Qur’an, everything! Every day, I pray to be a better Muslimah, a good example for my children and those who look up to me. Some days are worse than others but some days are just pure liquid sunshine!

I thank Allah for both of these moments. Alhamdulillah ‘ala kulli haal.

These posts are as much a reminder to me as it is to you. I am not a niqabi or haafidha; I am not a perfect hijabi. I am not as fluent as I write and definitely not as clever as I occasionally sound. I simply wish to be better than I was yesterday.

I pray we all continue on this journey of self-improvement together, and help and encourage each other out of this Barrel of Life. No castigating or judging of fellow humans. We should encourage and permit each other to develop at their own pace and pray Allah makes it easier and accepts our efforts.

If you or someone you know did some wrong things in the past, it should not matter because you or they do not reside there anymore. ‘Every saint has a past; every sinner a future.’ Let us look out for the best in each other and encourage growth.

No more ‘crabs-in-a-barrel’ mentality of pull-him-down. Enough of that!

Let’s all grow up already! Are you with me?

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PAYING VISITS Q33.53

Although I am a medical doctor, I hate visiting the sick in the hospital and staying long. I just worry that I am burdening the patient with my stay and would rather do a quick check-in and –out. I am also uncomfortable staying long at people’s houses for a visit. It feels like extending my handshake to the elbow. As a woman, I am aware of the hoops women jump through to make their guests comfortable at their own expense and it seems unfair to take full advantage of that.

We should not visit people unannounced unless we are extremely familiar with them. There is really no excuse why anyone will suddenly drop by in this era of cell-phones, free emails, text messages and instant messaging. This will give your host time to prepare and possibly purchase or cook/bake what to host you with. Not all homes are fully-stocked 24/7.

As much as is possible, a non-mahram male should not spend the night in the house of a couple. It inconveniences the woman who has to observe her hijab in your presence. Her house is her sanctuary, somewhere she can let her hair down and dress down. You ruin this tranquillity for her particularly when you prolong your stay; her only reprieve limited to her bedroom. Between the inconveniences of a tropical temperature and special times like breastfeeding, her hospitality can quickly turn to hostility.

Fellow women who travel with their toddlers need to be mindful of them. We should not leave them to run amok, destroy appliances, break dishes, defecate or urinate indiscriminately, and leave food crumbs in their trail. Pick up after your children.

We should also endeavour not to make a nuisance of ourselves by staying out late, disrupting the peace in the house by playing loud music or having noisy friends over. Destroying property in their houses is also a big no-no.

Narrated Abu Shuraih Al-Ka’bi quoted Allah’s Messenger (SAW) as saying: Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should serve his guest generously. The guest’s reward is to provide him with a superior type of food for a night and a day and a guest is to be entertained with food for three days, and whatever is offered beyond that is regarded as charity. And it is not lawful for a guest to stay with the host for such a long period so as to put him in a critical position. – Sahih Bukhari 6135

Also try to involve yourself in helping around the house and following the house rules. Take your dish to the kitchen and wash it, preferably. Clean up after yourself and make your bed. Assist by taking the children off their parents’ hands by playing with them or helping with their homework.

Do not pry into their affairs particularly if they are a couple and unless your advice is sought, or it is absolutely necessary, keep most of your thoughts to yourself. Do not take sides without listening to both sides of the story.

When preparing to leave, inform your hosts ahead of time so they can accommodate dropping you off at the airport or car park, into their plans.

As the host(ess), we are duty-bound to treat our guests kindly. Having snacks, some juice or cake handy can save us embarrassment when friends pop in unannounced. We should be patient and accommodating and try to involve our guests in our activities if they are staying for long. Time should be set aside daily to converse with them no matter how tight our schedule is.

And when they leave, we should see them to the door and try not to make our relief obvious!

So, who do you plan to visit this weekend?

APPEARANCES Q2.44-6

No matter how voluminous your hijab is, it cannot conceal a bad attitude. Likewise, a huge beard cannot hide an evil heart.
People see through these things. You may be able to fool some of the people most of the time but you draw the wool over everyone’s eyes forever.
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In as much as our outward appearance is important, and shows that we are not ashamed to be identified as Muslims, we should not forget that the best form of invitation to Islam is a beautiful and exemplary character. Our influence as role models should not be used negatively.

As Muslims, we should not encourage others to ridicule the hijab, trousers or beard. No matter the length or size, we should preserve our brothers’ and sisters’ honour and not join in backbiting them. It makes no sense to look like a Muslim, talk like one but act in a non-Islamic way. however, this is not to say we shouldn’t correct the wrongs we see in other Muslims but we should do so with tact and propriety.
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Our appearances should serve to remind us of our duties as full-time ambassadors of Islam and should help us act better and with humility. The fact that we look like Muslims should not make us look down on those who do not. The fact that we can be identified as Muslims should deter us from being discourteous, breaking rules, shoplifting, fighting and making a spectacle of ourselves in public. This taints other Muslims and reinforces the wrong stereotype people have in their minds about us.

Do not be a source of derision to the Ummah. Be an exemplar as a Muslim, whether or not you wear the hijab or possess a beard; but especially because you do.

SQUALOR OF SIN Q4.17-8, Q10.23

I employed a maid once; a young girl who was supposed to help with the house chores in exchange for a stipend and an education. Her folks seemed enthused by the idea that her education and upkeep would be taken out of their hands. I was happy because I needed assistance in the house as I was gradually pushing at my expected date of delivery (EDD) and had a toddler running loops around my feet.

She had stayed for less than one week and began to request to return. People tried to convince her to stay and remind her to look at the benefits she would acquire from her stint in the city but she refused to budge. She cried the whole day, night and the next day she was scheduled to return. Everyone asked her if she was being maltreated in any way, she replied in the negative. So, why not stay? She was missing her family, she said, amongst other petty issues.

Those who heard felt she was silly to forfeit a lifetime privilege of education in the city and an upgrade just because she wanted to be with her widowed mother in the village. Wouldn’t she be of better benefit to her family if she was educated?
As mind-boggling as that is, it’s the same way we treat Allah’s Favours. However, we need Allah. He doesn’t need us.
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There is so much He has blessed us with, much more He has promised us but that doesn’t change our mind from insisting on embarking on that one-way trip back to poverty. He has promised us gardens underneath which rivers flow in a city of Allah’s Mercy and Blessings but we would rather return to the village of despair to dwell in the squalor of sin.

It is mind-boggling. Unfathomable. Strange. Stupid, even! However, it is how we would rather respond to Allah’s Kindness. The good thing is that He is always there waiting for us to return to the city to enjoy the dividends of believing in Him. He waits patiently for us to recognise the error of our ways and return to Him in repentance.

How awesome is that!

PS. I use analogies and parables to help us better understand the topic at hand. Allah (SWT) is way beyond ALL comparison!

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LOST BUT FOUND Q6.75-80, Q29.69, Q93.7

Has it been a while, years maybe, since you truly believed in God? Have you been so caught up in work, making money and providing for your family that there is simply no time for spirituality? Or have you always wondered what the True Path to God is? Have you always felt a loneliness and hunger for something missing? I once read (cannot remember the exact words) that loneliness is man’s hunger for God.

There is a Nigerian adage that ‘It is the child who lifts his arms that will be carried.’ Remember that Hadith about walking towards Allah and Him running to you?

Narrated Abu Hurairah (RA): the Prophet (SAW) said, ‘Allah, azzawajal, says, I am just as my slave thinks I am and I am with him if he remembers Me. If he remembers Me in himself, I too remember him in Myself; and if he remembers me in a group of people, I remember him in a group better than that; and if he comes one span nearer to Me, I go one cubit nearer to him; and if he comes one cubit nearer to Me, I go a distance of two outstretched arms nearer to him; and if he comes to Me walking, I go to him running.’ Sahih Bukhari Volume 9 Hadith 502

All you need to do is take that first step, raise your hands or stretch them out seeking Allah and He will come to you. He is there, has always been, will always be. He is closer to you than you know but He wants you to turn to Him, look for Him, acknowledge him, make the effort. Seek God truly and sincerely with all your heart and He will reveal Himself to you. Do your research. Read books, go for seminars, ask around, enjoy the company of those who love God.
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You have spent so much time on other things, planning them carefully hoping for the best of outcomes but all those plans are for this life only. We are spirits in a human body. When we die, we return to our spiritual existence. What have we prepared for that life? Does it make sense to leave it to fate? Chance? Luck?

There is a life after death. I don’t know for sure because I haven’t been there but I believe because Allah says so. If you don’t quite believe, what do you have to lose by believing anyway? If you believe and work towards it, you win; and if there’s nothing on the other side, you don’t lose. You would have lived a life beneficial to the people you met on your sojourn. Following the rules of Allah, remembering Him and feeling His Presence is a beautiful thing and puts your heart at peace, like it has finally found home.

Don’t just strive for this world, strive for the Hereafter too and believe with all your heart that He will be there waiting for you; if only you will open your heart and re-affirm your belief in Him.