Then which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?

favours of your lord

I look up in wonder at the sky,

I want to connect and I want to say so much,

I want to say sorry and I want to give thanks,

Words fail me my Lord; I somehow go blank.

 

My own silliness and my own mistakes line up before me,

All too obvious in hindsight, ironically,

Incredulous, I know how You still didn’t let me fall,

Oh Allah, You listened even when I was unable to call.

 

I made promises, and I vowed to mend my ways,

I broke my word countless times, but to You is all praise,

You didn’t judge me – you dealt with mercy and with love,

A love so complete, so powerful, that I am unworthy of.

 

You bless me my Rabb, with every passing moment,

I while away this wonderful gift of life in thankless enjoyment,

A discomfort so deep nestles within my humiliated heart,

I’ve taken things for granted and I haven’t played my part.

 

But does it matter ya Allah, if I say sorry yet another time?

Is there a way to fully convey the ghastliness of my crimes?

Is there a way to turn back, when I know I’ve ventured too far out?

Allah I know You understand the profound embarrassment that I speak about.

 

But I talk to You this day with hope and with yearning,

Knowing that to the Most Forgiving, Most Merciful I am turning,

Who forgives, forgets, cleanses me, even when I’m wrong, so wrong,

Please hold me once more Ya Allah — to You I belong.

 

I’ve messed up time and again, and I’ve not amended myself,

Yet there’s no despair in Your mercy, You said so Yourself,

I need miracles, I need more chances, and I need Your helping hand,

Mercy that befits You my Lord, indeed You are grand!

 

Don’t let me down, don’t let me turn astray,

Why I am unable to bend and why is it that I cannot pray?

I call on You in humility, defeated, undone by my own madness,

Still holding on to the ultimate hope of Your greatness.

 

My Lord words fail me again everything seems inadequate,

But You comprehend what lies beneath my tears, unstoppable and adamant,

I’ll leave it at that, Wallahu Aleemum Bi Dhaat is Sudoor,

My heart, and all its dirt and blackness — awaits your dazzling Noor.

Happy Independence Day, Pakistan!

It’s the 14th of August, the day Pakistan was born and I pray for my beloved country. For peace, for prosperity, for guidance, and for happiness. For safety in Pakistan, for its people to be protected, for the land to become a haven of safety and security. For resurgence.

pakistan

Feel free to share the pictorial!

Which night? Can’t really be sure! Let’s redouble our efforts!

As Ramadan creeps away, I know just one thing… we can’t really ever be sure about things like Laylatul Qadr…. Different for different time zones, very ambiguous, can’t really say whether we have rays or not! Which means only one thing — lets redouble our efforts for the last moments of Ramadan!

You never really know about stuff like Al Qadr do you? What if 27th Ramadan is a rayless sunrise in some parts of the world? What if the 25th looked this way because of the clouds? Then if God Forbid, I haven’t spent the real Laylatul Qadr night in the right way, I know I’m going to feel like the biggest loser EVER! May Allah guide us, Ameen.

Guys, its Ramadan slipping away. Make the most of it. It could be the change your life (and mine!) needs. And for now, at least, I am removing the sunrise pictures from my blog. Hope you understand.

-Mehmudah

Scroll below for some pearls of wisdom on this whole sunrise thing… thanks to the Shaykh

Dua for Laylatul Qadr

Dua for Laylatul Qadr: Allahumma Innaka Afuun, Tuhibbul Afwa, Fa’fu Anni

Let’s not worry about the sun… and worry about our sins!

By Shaykh Abu Eesa

Just a quick note but signs or ‘alamaat or their amaarah are signs. That’s all. It doesn’t necessitate the kind of sun-spotting culture that we’ve seen develop recently. We have nothing from the Salaf to suggest such actions and it amazes me that people would think that our Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) who locked himself in the Masjid for these ten nights was busying himself outside trying to justify to himself what just happened when his actions showed everything to the contrary. The Night is *sought* not by looking at the signs but by increasing in ‘ibadah throughout the nights. ALL the nights, as I explained in my lecture previously.

Also people really don’t have a clue what they’re looking for. In cities, with light pollution, never looked at the Sun before until that night and suddenly becoming an expert on its rays, using a plethora of different cameras which all have various lenses and filters which affect the picture you see etc etc. This is not how our Deen works. It works on effort. Follow. The. Sunnah. We don’t have a single report of our forefathers getting publicly excited by what might have happened the night before. Instead we saw them more and more determined to keep at it.

Also you are opening a door which shouldn’t be opened in front of the basic masses. Your Sun looks great, but what about mine? It’s thunder there and I’m sunning it here. I feel terrible and restless (was that a lack of sleep?) and you’re feeling so chilled and relaxed in your city (you would if you slept all day!). So it was Laylat’l-Qadr for you, and not for me? Have you seen when folks started asking such questions to those who spread this new culture, there’s silence. Why? Because they don’t have an answer. This is not the Sunnah and anything which is not the Sunnah will always cause more confusion and depression than actually following the Sunnah. Some things are just meant to be read, believed in and move on. We know that Allah jalla wa ‘ala descends from above His throne every last part of the night. My night or your night? 24 hr descending? The Sun makes Sajdah every day, that’s why we don’t see it. Making Sajdah all the time then, because it is always absent somewhere in the world? And when we see it, is it not making Sajdah? Laylat’l-Qadr signs are there for you and not for me. Does it change? There are different days the Qadr is decreed even though the emphasis is clearly on one moment?

This is what happens when you don’t follow the Sunnah. We believe in all of the above. We hear and we obey. We read, listen, believe and then act upon them like the Prophet did. And just to finish, ask yourself have any of the Ahl’l-‘Ilm (the People of Knowledge, the major scholars) promote such actions or a culture. Of course not.

Anyway, like I said above. This is not the action of the Sunnah. I didn’t say it was haram. Folks wanna chill, let them chill. I’m just saying this sort of culture does not befit practising Muslims or students of knowledge. And they all know deep down exactly why. That’s all. No biggie. Kinda.

Allahu a’lam.

Do some soul-searching during Ramadan

ramadanguest

This image is one I took and designed last year for Ramadan.

Originally written for Gulf News “Off the Cuff” http://gulfnews.com/opinions/offthecuff/do-some-soul-searching-during-ramadan-1.1206472

It’s one of those things about life; it takes us to the lowest possible ebb, and just when we’re ready to throw in the towel, it gets us to rise again. I remember last Ramadan with a mixture of sadness and fondness. It had been a tough year for me, perhaps one of the most turbulent phases of my life.

About a year ago, I wrote about how Ramadan was important to me because it wasn’t just about abstaining from food and drink, it was about clearing my heart and letting go of every malicious thought, every grudge and ill-feeling that I harboured against anyone.

I wanted to truly forgive and forget and I wanted a clean slate. Those days turned out to be, in many ways, a turning point in life for me.

I could have either given up on everything and everyone or I could have moved on into the light, brushing aside the cynicism and the negativity.

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I was tired. I was tired of the way things had been, I was tired of myself and I was very conscious of the fact that I might never see another Ramadan again.

When the Ramadan moon was sighted, it brought with it a hope as faint as the moon itself, and as I searched the heavens for a sign, I saw a hazy sliver of silver suspended in the faraway sky and I wondered if that little bit of light would somehow, miraculously brighten up my world too. I had known all along: it was time for change.

The change that had always made a case for itself but I had ignored the fact that it was even, in any way, needed. I decided that I would let this month be a sort of new beginning.

That meant only one thing: a fresh perspective, some serious soul searching and hoping, praying and trying desperately for the changes I so badly, urgently needed to make within my own self.

Ego issues

The ego of a human being is the single greatest thing that stands between a person and total happiness and peace. I wanted to conquer my ego, I wanted the realisation of my own errors that would help me break down and cry, and start again from scratch, without a ton of unnecessary baggage weighing me down. I wanted to humble myself, and I knew I had to take responsibility for everything that had gone wrong.

Holding myself, and just my own actions accountable for everything that had happened was where it all began. When I finally came to terms with the fact that our present is a direct result of our decisions and behaviour in the past, it looked as though the grime was finally shifting.

When the mosques were full and people beseeched Allah in the blessed nights, I too prayed for a miracle. And then just as quickly as it had come, with so much hype and hope, stealthily, the month of Ramadan passed me by.

I wondered if the changes I so desperately wanted would occur and if they would manifest themselves. It is said that if you take a step towards Allah, He in all His might and glory takes ten towards you, and if you walk to Him, He runs to you.

stepshadithforMM

Feel free to share this pictorial, click for a larger image. This one was designed a long time ago by me.

About a year later, I say this with moist eyes — change did happen. It happened from within. Perhaps that’s why I could I see the world clearly, because my own vision was no longer altered with an omnipresent layer of dirt.

I don’t know how, I don’t even know when, and I certainly don’t know why — but all I know is that sincere remorse, no matter how lost you are, and being honest with yourself is the best way to pick yourself up again, and to rise like a phoenix from the ashes.

As I wait again for another Ramadan, I am filled with joy, gratitude and a sense of wonder and a warm feeling of hope and positivity. The blessed nights are truly special.

PS: What does Ramadan mean to you? How was your best Ramadan, do you remember it? What are your favourite tips for a great Ramadan?

There is life after Facebook

Originally written for Gulf News “Off the Cuff”: http://gulfnews.com/opinions/columnists/there-is-life-after-facebook-1.1179484

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Dear Facebook,

You asked what’s on my mind. Well, there is a lot that we need to talk about. It’s been about three years since I logged into my account. When I quit Facebook, family and friends were not pleased. They thought I was being antisocial, and such a spoilsport! However, I bowed out of the online social party as gracefully as I could.

At first it seemed like there was nothing left in life. I missed checking the ‘likes’, friend requests and friends’ updates every few minutes. Life felt … empty. But when the initial feeling of being cut off from the world was conquered I realised I had so much more time, and I was so productive!

I didn’t have to log on to Facebook every few minutes, and I didn’t need to know what other people were up to. I was suddenly getting some actual work done! It was possible.

A life without an over-reliance on Facebook was possible. Life could go on without needing to know how much weight so-and-so in New York had gained post-baby, or without knowing how magnificent a party had been, or without knowing what someone else’s children were up to.

Without getting a number of ‘likes’ on my oh-so-witty and well-thought-out status updates, and without getting a bunch of compliments on my latest pictures, as much as I would have liked to deny it, life really could go on.

And quite smoothly too.

Life after you, Facebook, had an odd satisfaction to it, a secure feeling that the world did not know what I was up to. There were people who totally ridiculed my idea of not using you, Facebook but I was more in touch with my real friends than ever before.

Those who wanted to find me landed on my blog, and we became even better friends than before. I became accessible and available to a selected few, who knew how to reach me, and who knew that my email messages to them were not broadcast conversations over status updates and pictures, and were real chats.

Slowly, Facebook, I forgot about you. I had a life that did not need to be lived online. I had family and friends in person, and admittedly on whatsapp and email. And I wouldn’t even have written to you today if a colleague hadn’t asked for my Facebook ID. When I tell people I’m not on Facebook, they generally have two reactions.

One group thinks I am a totally antisocial person. The second group thinks I am an eccentric woman who probably has an interesting story to tell about why I quit you.

Well, Facebook, the truth couldn’t be farther away. I’m just a normal human being who decided to quit you because I was growing addicted to you.

When I told my colleague I wasn’t on you, she insisted that it was good to have a Facebook account, and that one can stay in touch with one’s friends. Yes, Facebook, I miss that.

I also miss being able to share my articles to a great number of people in a single click, and I miss sharing thought-provoking quotes and the like. To my colleague I mumbled something along the lines of “Yeah, Facebook’s really cool that way,” and wondered if I would ever join you again.

Join you again? Is that even possible, or likely? Well, anything is possible. Maybe I could join you and keep myself hidden with the privacy settings you thankfully worked out and add a total of say, 15-20 people?

Wouldn’t I look like a completely unpopular moron if I didn’t have at least 200 ‘friends’? And then if I didn’t share any of my own pictures, I would definitely look like a snoopy observer of others’ pictures. And Facebook, is it not all about letting others know how wonderful and awesome I am, and what an exciting life I live?

To be honest though, I’m nothing spectacular. I’m just an average person with an average life, but all my friends on Facebook look like they have the most amazing lives in the world.

Look at me. I sound like I am in a ‘Facebook frenzy’ already. Perhaps I’ll wait a little more before I can join you again. In the meantime, I’ll work on living a real life away from the carefully crafted perfection of the internet.