Thursday, September 3, 2015

Advice to the YOUTH!

From time to time, I will receive quite a few e-mails from my lovely sisters in Islam who are looking for some advice and support (and that is why I started The Big Sister Little Sister project- be sure to check out the info here!) . What I noticed is that majority of them are from our youth! Many young sisters seeking advice about issues that are really affecting the adolescent today as well as sisters who are just looking for someone to talk to (and I loveeee these e-mails! Please keep them coming insha'Allah!)

As we try to catch up to the technology in this fast paced 21st century world we live in, we can't help but to fall into the powerful waves of fitnah which drowns us and brings us down to the bottom. We lose our self identity, our self respect and our longing for our Creator. I know how it feels to be living as a youth in today's world. I have been there, done that..and I know what the youth of today are facing. What was different with me was that I was not a Muslim during most of my youth so I was very lost. Often confused, and living life without a purpose, I chased the dunya as fast as I could. I chased, and I chased until I realised I could no longer keep up.

During my youth, I had very low self-esteem and this resulted in me doing things to always try to "fit in" and try to find that sense of belonging. I was often teased during middle school because of my weight and because of the teasing, in high school I suffered from a mild eating disorder ( Alhamdulillah, it did not become severe but I was VERY obsessed with self image) and I went through many identity crises and I seemed to never be content with myself, like, EVER. I thought I found my identity when I started to become OBSESSED with fashion. I ate, breathed, lived VOGUE magazines and I knew all the fashion designers by heart! I had dreams of become a designer myself and I started drowning myself in the materialist lifestyle. I even wanted to become a fashion model! Though I did some modelling for some local Toronto photographers, I had bigger dreams of hitting the runway (even though I am WAY below the minimum height requirement- Alhamdulillah Allah saved me from such oppression!) but those dreams later died out when I realised that I just could not live up to the 'druggie-anorexic' lifestyle. IMPOSSIBLE! I was always obsessed with body image and because I was overweight during my youth, I developed a true love for health and fitness. I joined countless gyms and became addicted with working out. The gym life was something else and it was just as dark and dirty as the fashion industry. Like most fashion models who do a lot of drugs, many people in the gym were no better (how ironic right?). Most of the men and women were "genetically modified" (lol) and I was naive to think that all personal trainers lead a healthy lifestyle. Most of them did not practice half the things they preached, i kid you not! I started to see all the ugly things that went on behind the scenes and I just felt so cheated and disgusted. I tried to escape the fashion industry because in my eyes, it was something too unrealistic for my lifestyle and I didn't expect that the "health and fitness" industry would be just as bad (if not worse)! I felt deceived. I was so let down because I had such high expectations of the worldly life. I expected the dunya to give me the same things I saw on television. Everything on television just seemed so perfect and I wanted to live that reality. I thought chasing the materialistic things of life such as money, body image, relationships, and latest fashion trends were THE things that were most important and the way to seek happiness. Was I ever wrong?!

(please take a few minutes to watch this quick clip and click CC for caption!)

You see my dear sisters, nowadays, we strive for things that are easily disposable. We think that looking beautiful and dressing fashionable are more important then what's on the inside. If we could take a selfie of our heart, how beautiful would it look? Most of us spend too much time worrying about how we look and which guy will notice us today, or tomorrow, or never. But how often do we think further than that? This life is not meant to please the guy at school, or trying to get married to Adam Saleh or Mohammed Zeyara. I have seen so many sisters throw themselves at brothers and it breaks my heart because if they only knew how sacred and beautiful their modesty was. Most men do not want girls that are freely throwing themselves (sometimes literally) at them. The women they want to take to their mom are the ones who are humble, shy, and modest. They want the mother of their future children to be good role models who can teach their children good morals, self-respect, and humility.

Chasing the worldly life will not bring us anywhere except down and it will only hurt us in this dunya and in the akhirah. I say this because I truly have been there, and done that. For my readers who follow me, you know I write a lot about my past life and I try my best not to expose my sins from my past because I know Allah conceals all our sins and we should not expose them , but I am only doing it merely for the sake of daw'ah and to let you all know that the things that you cherish now (romance novels, sad love songs, haram relationships, etc.) ...these are all things that are meant to deceive you and harm you in this life and the next. These very things are the tool of Shaytan and it is his way to lead us all astray (may Allah protect us all!)

“(Iblees) said: ‘Because You have sent me astray, surely, I will sit in wait against them (human beings) on Your straight path. Then I will come to them from before them and behind them, from their right and from their left, and You will not find most of them as thankful ones (i.e. they will not be dutiful to You)’” (Quran, Al-Aaraf: 16,17).

". . . and follow not the footsteps of ‘Shaitan’ (Satan). Surely he is to you an open enemy" (Quran, Al-Anaam: 142)

No revert is particularly proud of their past life before they became Muslim but many of us have been able to experience the life of darkness and deceit before Islam and we realise just how truly blessed we are that Allah guided us. I often tell my readers, over and over, that the worldly life is just not worth the chase! It is so easy to become deceived because when you see everyone doing something, you become desensitized and you think that it is ok just because fulanah and fulanah are doing it! Well, remember my sisters! Just because sister a,b,c,d,e and the whole alphabet is doing it, it doesnt make it right and you should never justify their actions as being correct and in accordance with the Qur'an and Sunnah! Deep down, you know it is not right and it is not what pleases Allah. So be the leader and not the follower! You are strong and you are beautiful and you do not need random men and women to validate that! Know your worth and try to use your brains instead of your beauty to make it in this world! Be that successful Muslim doctor, that successful engineer, or a successful teacher who will touch the lives of many ! Be that successful mother who will raise righteous, well-mannered, modest children which this Ummah is lacking! Be the change you want to see in this world. We feel sad when we see what is happening all over the world and we cry and ask Allah to change the condition of this Ummah ! But when will we change our own conditions first before we expect the things around us to change? Do not attach yourself to this dunya, work hard to leave a legacy, something that will benefit you while you are in your grave. When you die, nothing will go with you except your deeds so make sure you strive your hardest to attain the comfort and spaciousness in that grave that you deserve! Imagine meeting Allah on the Day and He is pleased with you! All that hard working in the dunya and finally, alas! You have succeeded! You eternal abode is the highest level of Jannah! Seeing the Face of your Rabb! Just imagine this day and ultimately strive for this day of success !

Know that the life of this world (dunya) is only play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting among you, and rivalry in respect of wealth and children… the life of this world is only a deceiving enjoyment. (Al-Hadid 57:20)
Verily, the Promise of Allâh is true, let not then this (worldly) present life deceive you, nor let the chief deceiver (Satan) deceive you about Allâh. (Luqman 31:33)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Da'wah to my parents

If we were given a beautiful gift like a pair of diamond earrings or a brand new luxury sports car, by default, we would like to show the world what we have. When there is something given to us, normally we do not just keep it hidden and stored away from others so nobody can see it! We want to share with people and show them the beauty of what we own! Similarly, once we are blessed with the gift of Islam, we should feel the urge to share this huge blessing with everyone we know and don't know! 

When I became Muslim four years ago, I was so full of zeal and joy that I wanted all my family members to know that Islam is the truth! Coming from a Chinese background where I was raised as a Christian, who later was forced to become a Buddhist, I wanted my parents to know about Islam so they would understand how true the religion is! Of course Allah guides whom He wills and giving dawah to my parents and family members truly was not as easy as I thought it would be. Rather, it was very difficult. I do admit though, my ignorance added to the challenge of conveying the message to them. I was trying to tell them about Islam instead of showing them Islam and what you need to know about me is that prior to Islam, I had bad manners and was a very rude person. I was very selfish and I also would go through many different phases in my life. My parents thought my reversion to Islam was just another phase but I wanted to prove them wrong! My uncle had been feeding them a lot of lies about Islam and he was always saying rude things and turning my parents against me. I know he was just worried about me but he did more harm than good. Subhana'Allah Allah took his life a few months after I had reverted and it brought me closer to my parents and from then on was when my journey to giving dawah to them truly began. 

Prior to my uncle's death, I would often just preach about Islam and try to send them things that would tell to them about Islam and how Isa (Jesus, aleyhi salam) was not the son of God and I even tried to make my father read the Qur'an in Chinese ! All of this did not work and it only caused more problems between us. After some time, I moved away to America to be with my husband and the distance made my relationship with my parents much stronger. I started learning more about Islam and how to preach by good manners and good deeds instead of just with speech as Allah says in the Qur'an :  

"And who is better in speech than he who (says: 'My Lord is Allah (believes in His Oneness),' and then stands straight (acts upon His Order), and) invites (men) to Allah (Islamic Monotheism), and does righteous deeds, and says: 'I am one of the Muslims.'" (Quran, Fussilat: 33)

"Invite to the Way of your Lord (i.e. Islam) with wisdom and fair preaching, and argue with them in a way that is better. Truly, your Lord knows best who has gone astray from His Path, and He is the Best Aware of those who are guided." (Quran, an-Nahl: 125)

I remembered that Allah often mentioned the importance of treating parents with kindness and gentleness and that was something I had never done before with my parents. I never had a close relationship with my mother because she sort of just had this "I give up on her" attitude with me because of all the things I put her and my father through. I was a true rebel before Islam, so I tried really hard and asked Allah for assistance to help me with my manners towards my parents. I asked Allah to soften my heart towards them and Alhamdulillah, some how , some way, I started to treat my parents with more respect and good manners. As Allah says in the Qur'an.

"Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor.'(Qur'an al Isra 17:23)

“And We have enjoined on man (to be dutiful and good) to his parents.  His mother bore him in weakness and hardship upon weakness and hardship, and his weaning is in two years give thanks to Me and to your parents, unto Me is the final destination.”  (Quran Luqman 31:14)

 So I really tried to exercise these verses whenever I had to deal with my parents. Every time I went home to visit, I would try my best to go above and beyond and show them with my manners what my religion has taught me. I would bite my tongue (sometimes literally) to keep my mouth from talking back or saying rude things and I kept telling myself there was no room for failure because I am trying to represent the deen of Allah to my parents. I kept thinking that one wrong move, and they would change their perception of Islam forever. I am representing Islam and my actions and speech are crucial. Although this put a lot of pressure on me, I knew that good things don't come easy and I really needed to work hard to change their idea of me, and Islam. I kept working at it slowly and steadily and by the Permission of Allah, I saw my parent's attitude towards me slowly start to change. They became more pleased with me and happy with me! Something that was very rare in my non-Muslim days. We argued less and even my mom is more careful with her words around me. I can even wear abaya and hijab with them and go out in public with them and my mom tells her friends how proud she is of me with my huge change. This is not to boast, Allah knows best my intentions, but I wanted to share this as an example to let other knows that it IS possible for our parents to accept us and our religion, it just starts with us and our actions. We must be wise and learn how to deal with our parents. 

My relationship with my parents has change a complete 180 and all because of Allah the Almighty. How important it is to read the Qur'an and reflect upon the verses and to truly know what is expected of us as Muslims? Had I not come across these verses and reflected upon them, I would still be treating my parents with an attitude that was displeasing to Allah. The key to giving dawah to your family is not just through speech, because our parents always have this "talk is cheap, actions are louder than words" mentality so we should show them through our actions because they hold a heavier weight. Making lots of duaa and being sincere to Allah and understanding the importance of spreading the deen in a kind, gentle way is something that must be done in order for success. I still struggle with my attitude sometimes , and that is normal since I am only a human being, so do realise that you are not perfect and you will have your moments where you slip, but ask Allah for forgiveness and tawfeeq and get back up and keep going. This journey is not an easy one but hopefully our parents will see the beauty of Islam and decide to follow us together to Jannah insha'Allah.  

Thursday, July 16, 2015

My favourite Ayah.

" Surely my prayer and my sacrifice and my life and my death are for Allah, the Lord of the Worlds." (1:162)

Before Islam, I never really put much thought into what my purpose of life was. I only cared about living the moment, and I didnt care who it was for as long as i did it for me, myself, and I! I didn't know there was a deeper meaning to life and I definitely didn't think of living my life for someone or sacrificing any part of my time and effort for anyone. But that all changed when I became Muslims. Everything suddenly had a purpose. It didn't all fall into place right away but as I learnt more about my religion, the more I started to understand the true meaning of life. 

I chose this verse because it reminds me of my purpose in this life. Whenever I forget or I am finding myself buried too deep into this dunya, I remember this very and it brings me back to reality. It reminds me that everything I do is for Allah alone and that there really is no point of existence or doing anything when it is not done for Allah and His Sake. 

Many people try to find their purpose in life and they will go to lengths to find it, even if it means doing things that could harm their bodies, mind, and soul. Some people think life is all about money and status, others think it is all about doing humanitarian work and raising money for charity organizations and trying to make a difference in the world. Surely, there is nothing wrong with the latter, in fact, it is highly encouraged, but it means nothing when you are doing it for the wrong reasons. Imagine doing even the smallest of deeds such as smiling or giving salams to a sister? Or doing a bigger deed like raising money for charity or feeding orphans? In Islam, you get rewards for every small and big deed you do if it is done for the sake of Allah alone. This verse is powerful and a beautiful reminder and it also preaches tawheed. It is one of my many favourite verses and it really makes an impact on my heart every time I read it. Alhamdulillah for the gift of guidance, the gift of Islam, where everything you do, has it's sole objective and that is to worship Allah alone, seeking His pleasure alone. 

What is your favourite ayah ( i know there are more than one, but one that really sticks out to you and why?) 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Seeking Help.

I decided to create an online community for the youth!

So here it is ! The big sister - little sister initiative goes something like this! Living in this world as a young muslimah is very difficult these days! So much temptations and trials that we all face and sometimes it can just be so overwhelming and difficult! Sometimes you just want someone to talk to and not judge you and you just want some advice and support that you can't get from your own friends and family! We totally understand that which is why we are here! We are a bunch of big sisters who are here to help and just be that big 'ol sis that you wish you had! Some of us are reverts and born muslimahs and have been through just as many struggles as you are going through now! We can definitely relate to your struggles and we are here to help for the sake of Allah! You don't have to be a hijabi, practicing, or a student of the Qur'an to talk to us! We are just a bunch of sisters looking to reach out to someone in need! OPEN HUG POLICY! We leave all the judging at the door and for Allah! Don't be shy ! 

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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Why dawah is important

The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) has said: "Convey from me, even one verse." (Bukhari)

When I was living in my world of ignorance, I knew nothing about Islam. For nearly 20 years of my life, I never had a clue about Islam or who Muslims where. I thought that most hijabis were all Indians or Pakistanis and that they all were hindus or sikhs! I was trapped in my ignorant bubble and my life only revolved around the gym and social parties. I was completely clueless about Muslims and I had never spoken to one in my life (or so I thought). Had Allah not put my husband in my path, I feel like I would have been living my life full of ignorance (Allah Knows Best) not knowing what the true religion of Islam was. As I look back, I realised that I must have known a handful or more of Muslims (by their names and ethnic background) but I never knew a thing about Islam because they never outwardly showed that they were Muslims or because they just never talked about it. Perhaps they were afraid that if they mentioned Islam, I would have turned my back and fled (because of 9/11) or maybe they just did not know the importance of spreading Islam and conveying the message of truth. 

So here I am, writing to you all about the utter importance of spreading the gift of Islam. After Allah guided me to this beautiful religion, I realized just how important it was for me to share this beautiful gift with others. I think that educating non-Muslims, and even Muslims about the true Islam is extremely important. Not only are there many people who do not know anything about Islam and Muslims but there is also a huge misconceptions about the religion which has been circulating the world (thanks to the media). Many non-Muslims learn the religion through watching unreliable news channels and reading anti-Islam websites on the internet. But the only way others can learn about Islam is from Muslims who understand and practise the religion according to the Qur'an and Sunnah! Therefore making it very important that we must continue always educating ourselves about our own religion and to lead by example through our character and manners. 

“Invite (mankind, O Muhammad) to the way of your Lord (i.e. Islam) with wisdom (i.e. with the Divine Revelation and the Qur’aan) and fair preaching, and argue with them in a way that is better. Truly, your Lord knows best who has gone astray from His path, and He is the Best Aware of those who are guided” [al-Nahl 16:125] 

The only way that Islam spread through to the lands and reached us today is because of the dedication of the Prophet Muhammad (sallalahu aleyhi wasselam). Him (sallalahu aleyhi wasselam) and his companions (radiaAllahu anhum) worked day and night to spread the beautiful message of Islam. So we have no excuse. We should not be afraid of society and the media and we should never have to water down the deen or cater to the non-Muslims and keep quiet. There are many individuals out there (like how I once was), who are trying to seek the truth and find that true religion. Many individuals already believe in one God, they just need to learn about Islam so they are able to find Allah and turn to Him alone. I really encourage all the Muslims who practise Islam and who follow the Qur'an and Sunnah with the understanding of our pious predecessors, to take dawah more seriously and to reflect upon the countless rewards that Allah promised to the one who guides one to Islam (by the Permission of Allah). 

With regards to the reward, the Prophet (sallalahu aleyhi wasselam) has said: "Whoever guides (another) to a good deed will get a reward similar to the one who performs it." (Sahih Muslim) Also, "By Allah, if Allah were to guide one man through you it would be better for you than the best type of camels." (Bukhari, Muslim)

As a revert, I truly understand the importance of spreading Islam and showing others this beautiful gift. I see how my parents and old friends who are in such darkness and truly they lead a life full of worry, despair and unhappiness. It really makes me feel sad to know that one strives so hard for this dunya and that in the end all their efforts are being wasted because they do not know their purpose of life. I know many reverts can relate to me because they see how their family suffers in their ignorance. That is why it is really our duty as Muslims to show others Islam through good manners and kind words and insha'Allah Allah will guide them just like how He guided me because of someone else's good character and kind manners.