Reflections: Struggle and grow
Over the last couple of weeks I have been reflecting on my life and all that I have going on. I am Muslim, Nigerian, a mother, a wife, a sister, a friend, a business owner and much more. I like to think that I am pious, kind, helpful, loving and creative. While being all of these things, I realize that I have a lot going on and I have been neglecting certain important areas of my life, with the biggest being my deen.
Yes I pray, yes I still try to be a good person and practice Islam, yes I still observe hijab but I’ve seriously been slacking. Gone are the days where I spent time before and after each salah reading pages of the Qur’an in Arabic and English. Gone are the days where I regularly listened to a new lecture everyday and pondered about how I could incorporate what I was learning into my life. Islam is definitely still very important to me and I’m always striving to be better. However, part of striving for clarity is the realization that I am failing in some areas and that I need to do better.
I’ve noticed that often, when people mention that they are struggling with their deen, they generally also say that their iman needs work. For me though, that’s not my problem. My faith in Islam- in the Prophets and Messengers(Peace and Blessings be upon them), in the oneness of Allah, in the holy books, my belief and understanding of the day of judgement, the angels and that our destiny is already written- has not changed. My faith is just as strong as it was a few months ago. I am still proud to be Muslim and I am constantly striving to do better. What has changed however, is my commitment and prioritization.
On one hand, I wish there were more hours in the day for me to get all of my work done, take care of my home, take care of my family, volunteer within my community and engage in studies for the deen. On the other hand, I am fully aware that all things are possible through Allah(SWT) and that by taking the time to worship Him, anything good that I want, will happen for me.
The Hiatus is Over
Right before I started writing this post, I looked at the date of my last post that I published and I was honestly shocked that the last post was in February. I have posted a couple of recipes since then so I did not realize how behind I was on actual blog posts. There have been a bunch of times where I’ve thought of things to write a post on but I never got around to actually write the post. inshaAllah, I’m hoping to be more regular with posts. So what’s been going on? Why have I been MIA for 8 months?
Here are some updates:
1. I had a baby! Alhamdulilah, I gave birth to a healthy baby boy in April. He is now 5 months and growing so fast. It’s crazy in an interesting sort of way how much being a mother can change you. All of a sudden, with the entrance of a new addition, your fears, dreams, and goals are quickly shifted. I will inshaAllah, be doing a longer post on this in the near future.
2. I moved! Due to my husband’s job, we moved to Abu Dhabi, UAE in July. We’ve been living here for 3 months now and Alhamdulilah, it’s been great. I’m so pleased with our decision to move here. Our family has been so much happier and we’ve adjusted well. We’ve made some friends, I finally have my ladies’ majlis( you can check out the pictures on IG), we’ve been spending more time working on our deen and ibadah and have plans to do a ton of traveling while we’re here.
3. Business. I’ve been working very hard on rebuilding and re-branding Striving For Modesty as well as my makeup business. I’ve also decided it’s time for me to start utilizing my degrees again and get back into political research/development. I’ve enjoyed running my own business from home but I do miss researching. Ideally, I’d like to work for about 2-3 years in a traditional workplace then migrate to freelance political/economic consulting and research or just working as a researcher from home so that I can still utilize my skills doing what I enjoy and also stay home to care for(and inshaAllah homeschool) my son.
That's my update for you! What sort of things would you like me to "randomly ramble" about? Let me know below in the 'comments' section. :D
Asalaam Alaikum Warahmatullah Wabarakatu,
How are you? In sha Allah, all is going well with you and your life. This is probably where I should mention that I miss you but based on your actions over the last year, months and weeks, you probably don’t care. If you did care, we’d probably still be friends and this letter would not need to be written. Ideally though, it would be nice to know that you still think of me occasionally and miss me as well.
It’s been a couple of months since we’ve spoken and although this isn’t the first time that that’s happened, something tells me, this time is different. This time, it’s definite. The last time we stopped talking, or more accurately- you stopped talking to me, I probably shouldn’t have responded when you finally decided to reach out but nevertheless, I decided to anyway, and now, we’re here again. Who would’ve thought that a day would come where our phones weren’t going off with notifications from WhatsApp messages, Instagram tags and mutual Facebook comments? A day where I’d be laughing on the phone and my husband wouldn’t ask “Are you talking to again?”.
I remember when I first met you, I didn’t think we’d be friends and actually avoided you for some time. We didn’t become close friends until about two years after we initially met and I remember thinking “I should’ve hung out with her sooner”. Never did I think we’d get to this place.
You were one of the few people that I thought I could sincerely count on. We’d joke about taking vacations together once we were both married. We joked about being ‘aunties’ to each other’s children. You were someone that I thought I could tell almost anything to. Now, I’d second guess even telling you the most superficial of details about my life. I thought you’d always be be a phone call or text message away. Then you stopped answering. You were supposed to be one of few people that I could trust. Then I learned about the judgements and things said about me to others. I thought our friendship was based on mutual respect, admiration and love for the deen. Instead, it seems as if I was only there to fill a certain temporary role. I thought we’d be friends in this life and the next. Instead, we’ve grown apart.
I guess that’s just life.
We don’t talk anymore. I don’t know how your life is going or what you’ve been going through. I have my suspicions based on the past, but that’s not the same as knowing. Are you happy? Are you where you want to be in life? How are your siblings and parents doing? How are your studies going?
Even though we’re no longer friends(I think it’s safe to conclude that we’re no longer friends but you’re welcome to correct me), I want you know that I don’t dislike you and that I do still care about your well-being. You were what I’d consider a best friend and despite how things ended, I will always love you for the sake of Allah.
I still randomly come across things that remind me of you and thanks to Facebook’s “On This Day” feature, I still see some of our old interactions. There are times when I’ll read an article and think about how in the past, I would send it to you and then we’d delve into a long discussion on our thoughts. Now that I’m expecting, there are instances where I’ll remember something that we previously discussed about having kids and I’ll laugh and think to tell you about it. Fortunately, these moments are happening less and less and eventually you’ll just become a distant memory.
We all choose our own paths in life and it seems we’ve come to the point where ours no longer intertwine. I hope you’re happy. I hope you’ve found someone else to engage in long discussions with. Someone else to banter about proper etiquette guidelines with. Someone else to vent to and to celebrate your accomplishments with. Someone else to share new insights or knowledge about the deen with.
Knowing you the way that I do, you’re probably going to disregard this letter. I’d actually be surprised if you read it till the end.
I’ll end by saying: I do cherish the memories we made and hope that your life is filled with success, prosperity and happiness. As always, you are still in duas.
Your former ‘friend’.
To seal a friendship for Allah’s sake indicates the obligation of establishing relationships of love and trust for His sake; this is a friendship for the sake of Allah. It also indicates that simple affection is not enough here; indeed what is meant is a love based upon alliance. This entails assistance, honor, and respect. It means being with those whom you love both in word and deed.”
Tabarruj: A Blurb
I woke up this morning thinking about hijab and tabarruj. I wear a khimar(shayla, scarf, etc) and jilbab(overhead, abaya, jelabiya, etc) whenever I'm in the presence of non-mahram as that is what is considered to be full hijab according to the Qur'an and Sunnah. Maintaining proper hijab is not something that I have a problem with but sometimes I do think I'm slacking. "Is my khimar long enough?" "Should I wear a lip color?" Many times, I think wearing Niqab would be simpler. If you've read my previous posts, you'll know that I actually love wearing niqab but there are things that keep me from wearing it full time. What are your thoughts on hijab and being tabaruj?
The last two months has been a whirlwind of intensity of me religious-wise. Alhamdulilah, things have been going great as far as my personal practice of Islam but I have come in contact with a lot various things that have made me question and reanalyze how I process and engage in things when it comes to Islam.
Four months ago, I started wearing niqab and Alhamdulilah, no surprises, I loved it. I felt so much more modest that when I was wearing just a khimar and jilbab and the level of taqwa that I felt was immense. I have since taken it off for a couple of reasons. Looking back, the entire whirlwind started with niqab. Once I made the decision to start wearing it, I spoke with #themister about it and started wearing it, I decided to start reading more and more about it. One of the first things I read is the Four Essays of Veiling. It’s a great book and many sisters tend to recommend it to each other. After reading that book, I began listening to some lectures on niqab which then led me to listening to lectures on other things.
I don’t want to get too lengthy so I’ll try to be as succinct as possible :) As I was listening to these lectures, I started to take in a lot of what was being said and wanted to implement the teachings in my life, especially in regards to aspects that were specific for women. As I listened to more lectures, I started noticing things that didn’t sit right me, as well as things that were contrary to what I was taught from the Qur’an and the various Ahadith that I have read. I continued to reflect on these lectures as well as various books(including the Four Essays book mentioned above). I started noticing that in a lot of these lectures and the like, very little Qur’an and Ahadith are mentioned. Yes, an ayah or hadith was mentioned here and there but for the most part, I found that the ayah or hadith used, loosely applied to the topic at hand.
Eventually, I started to feel as if I was being ‘pressured’ to practice Islam a certain way that didn’t necessarily mesh with the Islam I learned from the Qur’an and something was off. At first, I started to rationalize it with myself and say “maybe I’ve been missing something” or “maybe I’m just being difficult and just don’t want to change myself for the better”. As I listened to more lectures, I began picking up on things being shared that definitely contradicted the essence of Islam. I discussed my thoughts with a friend and started researching the speakers behind these lectures more and their institution. To my dismay, there were many people who felt how I felt and many ‘reputable’ warnings to stay away from them.
After this experience, I became extremely wary of lectures and speakers. There’s just so much fitnah with all the information that is passed around that I’ve decided to just stay away from most lectures and books. I just really want my life and experience with Islam to be as unadulterated as possible. I want to keep things simple and practice Islam to the best of my ability. So far, I’ve been feeling much better Alhamdulilah and in sha Allah, I hope this continues. I’ll be sure to keep you posted :)
Friendship: A Blurb
As Muslims we must be forbearing and sincere towards one another. Your Muslim sister should be someone that you can turn to in a time of need and someone you can seek advice from. A Muslimah must be tolerant towards her fellow sisters and overlook their mistakes. When a problem arises, she should not rush to adopt a solution that may cause division and haraam kinds of forsaking. The importance of relationships, in regards to friends and family is something that I always try to remember. If you've read my previous posts, you'll know that I haven't always put much stock into friendships. Over the past year, it's something that I've been working on. May Allah-SWT- continue to guide me. May Allah help us all to do that which He loves and which pleases Him.
Update: I'm Alive :D
Sorry! I haven’t written in a while! I’ve been really busy and also been trying to stay away from the computer. I feel like so much of my time is stuck behind a screen, mainly because 95% of my work involves me using a computer or on my phone. My eyes and my brain both need a break so I’ve been trying to keep my screen time to a minimum-I’ve even went and bought a couple of physical books to start reading versus using my Kindle as usual.
Aside from screen time, I’ve been very busy with managing all that I have going on and as well as various family stuff that has come up. Alhamdulilah, Striving For Modesty is still going well albeit it will be running pretty slow starting in October due to some personal engagements but in sha Allah, will relaunch with an all new look in Fall 2017.
My cooking game is still going strong but I have been slacking on posting recipes and pictures here. I recently received KitchenAid Pasta Attachments as a gift from #themister so I’ve been having fun making delicious pasta dishes from scratch.
On the deen level, I’ve been having some internal dialogue with myself about certain things. I’ll expound on this more in a subsequent post.
Alhamdulilah, I am getting ready to begin a new journey this coming September. As usual, I like to keep the details of things private until it commences so I’ll fill you all in on it later, in sha Allah.
In Sha Allah, all is well with all of you!
My Quandry with Salafiyyah
What exactly does someone mean when they say "I'm Salafi"? Generally what they're saying is “I follow the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger, based on the understanding and practical implementation of the Salaf as-Sālih (i.e. first three generations)”.
There are a lot of people who like to treat Salafiyyah as if it's a sect or some exclusive group. It's not and it shouldn't be treated as such. I first became familiar with Salafiyyah seven years ago. I remember thinking that it made perfect sense and that it was very self explanatory. Why shouldn't Muslims only follow the Qur'an and Sunnah. I think what turned me off was the fact that so many so-called Salafis treat it as a sect/group and spend so much time badmouthing others. They used the term "Salafi" as a tool to elevate themselves in the eyes of others. So needless to say, I didn't associate myself with Salafiyyah but identified myself simply as "I am Muslim and believe in following the Qur'an and Sunnah".
Fast forward a couple of years and doing more research, I came across Salafiyyah again. Still, I was turned off by the lack of adab many Salafi proponents exhibited, the "obsession" with badmouthing other Muslims who didn't fit their "standard" and the sheer lack of discourse and dialogue among Salafis- every question was answered with a ruling-no feelings, no humanity, no discussions or acknowledgement of the real life difficulties and stressors that come with them. In summary, I found it hard to relate to these people. They seemed to lack a lot of the attributes that many of the Sahabah had.
Fast forward a couple more years, getting married and gaining more knowledge, and my thoughts are about the same. However, I've come to accept that my problem isn't with the methodology. The problem was with the people. I will say that I agree with and follow the Salafi methodology. As a Muslim, I strive to adhere to the Qur'an and Sunnah and utilize the examples of the Sahabah, the Tabi'in and the Tabi al-Tabi'in. My husband and I generally use Salafi "sanctioned" resources when researching, attend a Salafi masjid and most of my good Muslimah friends ascribe to being Salafi. With that being said, as long as a fellow Muslimah is along the same mindset, then I'm all about being her companion. I don't believe we should tell someone that they're "off the Deen" simply because they don't claim to be Salafi but do everything accordingly nor should we assume someone is good or accept everything they say simply because they claim to be Salafi.
May Allah keep us all on the straight path.
What are your thoughts on this subject? I'm very curious :D
Bonds of Friendship
Asalaam Alaikum Warahmatullah Wabarakatu
I'm having one of those nights where I can't sleep. The zawj is fast asleep and normally on nights like this I either call up a friend who's sure to be up, get some work done, read an article or read Qur'an. Tonight though, I decided to write.
I've been thinking a lot about friendship lately. Most who know me know that I'm not one to believe that having friends is "necessary". I enjoy meeting people and socializing at times, but I've never been one to really depend on friends. I enjoy the company occasionally and I enjoy the dialogue but if a friendship fails or doesn't grow, then fine, I move on.
I listened to two Islamic lectures in the past week that touched upon friendship. One lecture discussed the 7 under the shade of Allah and the other discussed the importance of good companions. In both lectures, the key message was that loving someone wholly for the sake of Allah and having good companions is extremely important.
Although I am fine with having friends from various backgrounds, I throughly enjoy my Muslimah friends that are on the Straight Path. Having friends who you can discuss aspects of the deen and everyday life with is so amazing. Being able to share our experience and get each other's advice on things that only a fellow Muslimah who understand allows us to share a special bond. This bond, when based off of a strong foundation in the deen, should be unbreakable.
For me, having righteous companions is something that I value. I appreciate having friends who I know will advice and steer me in the right way. I enjoy having friends that I can exchange knowledge with. Friends that will cheer me on when I'm going through something difficult but beneficial. Friends who want nothing but the best for me. Friends who, when I have kids, I'll look forward to mine playing with theirs as I know they will also be raised righteously. Friends that are kind-hearted, open-minded and are thoughtful. Friends that are always reminding you to engage in acts of Ibadah. These are the types of friends I want to surround myself with. These are the types of friends that all Muslims should strive to be and aim to have.
May we all be blessed with righteous companions.
Resources! Knowledge is Key
*Please leave your thoughts and comments on any of these lectures/articles in the "Comments" section below. Lets discuss :)*
About "Life Gems"
Welcome to another addition to "Lady_Meansie's Corner". This portion of my corner is essentially my blog. The posts will be short but packed with important reminders for fellow Muslimahs. Remember to leave your thoughts in the comments. I love engaging in dialogue with my fellow Muslimahs.