Friday, December 18, 2015

"Do I prioritise connecting with Allah(SWT) over everything in my life?"

​Stop Lying to Yourself about what matters!

I listened to an interesting talk last night by Mirza Yawar Baig ("Fajr Reminders" which covered the topic of time management. More specifically, how we make time for physical, emotional, spiritual and social aspects of our lives.  If we have to prioritise activities for each of these every day, which one would automatically be number one?  As Muslims, obviously, we answer spiritual should be first but how often is that really true. Do our words really transform into action?

'For me, I have set myself a goal to complete some online quraan tafseer.  Yet, I still find myself putting it off for the last few days. 

So I have to ask myself, am I really treating the spiritual dimension in my life as a priority?

Ironically, although we give less priority to this spiritual aspect, it is the one thing that will help us achieve all other aspects.  For example taking time to start the day with Quran recitation may feel like it's delaying you from starting your tasks for the day but actually that time will give you so much more barakah - in your time, mindset, abilities, etc.

When we talk about the spiritual dimension, we might think its all up in the air and not very tangible. But what it really is, is our connection with Allah (SWT).  So now ask yourself - "Do I prioritise connecting with Allah(SWT) over everything in my life?"

In order to keep ourselves on the straight path we need to be, first and foremost, honest with ourselves as to where we are right now with regards to our connection with Allah (SWT) and what we are going to do to improve that connection.

Polishing the priorities, Inshallah

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Two Forms of Mercy...Two states in One


So I listened to a talk recently by Ustaadh NAK (you know who I mean!) explaining the two Names of Allah Ar Rahman and Ar Rahim : two forms of mercy and I was so inspired. 

I also learnt that by listening to something more than once it really solidifies your understanding. Anyway here is my take on it based on what I heard:

Ar Rahman - ارحمان : Allah's mercy and love is extreme, not permanent( this life),  happening right now ( eg hunger similar word pattern جوعان)  mercy that's more immediate.

Ar Rahim - ارحيم - Allah's mercy  that's always there and you can count on it. Quality that doesn't change. Not necessarily taking place right now- potential.

So what does it mean?

When you want Allah's mercy in a time of need, you need it immediately - and intensely! Then you appeal to His quality of Ar Rahman. Not thinking of the future or the potential of mercy right now. But as a human we need instant meeting of needs.

Once it's met, you now can turn to his quality of Ar Raheem knowing he will always have Mercy should you need to call upon it in the future.

Only in Allah the Most Powerful can two forms exist in one - amazing.

May Allah grant us understanding and MERCY


Praying for His Mercy,

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

When wearing your hijab is like wearing your knickers and socks....


I'm sure you want to know what is going on with my title, so I'm going to share a story with you that explains where this phrase comes from!

I was chatting to my friend who recently Alhamdulillah decided to start wearing hijab. I'm so proud of her. She works in corporate and travels significantly so I'm sure its a quite a challenge and so I'm so pleased for her and make dua Allah makes it easy for her, and rewards her for sincerity in trying to please Him.

So she was saying how its tricky at work...people seem to be looking at her weirdly...and shes so aware of it all. As a regular hijabi myself, also in corporate for about 10 years, travelling in Europe and working with multinationals from Australia to Brazil,  Alhamdulillah, this is the advice I gave to her which I hope makes sense to you and inspires you to either consider starting to wear hijab or if you are, to continue and NEVER take it off...for as I say "Keep at it till wearing your hijab is like wearing your knickers and socks!"

  • Don't send out "uncomfy" (sic) vibes : Don't be overly conscious of wearing hijab as you will no doubt send out signals to others if you are feeling uncomfortable. This will make you feel more out of place for no reason as in reality most people wont even notice anything!
  • Take the First Step Forward : I received feedback once on a leadership course (in a very honesty sharing session!) that people wonder whether how to approach hijabis - as in will you talk to men, how will you respond etc. So as a hijabi in the workplace, perhaps we need to take the first step to talk to people, show our personality and that its OK, we don't bite or scare, just regular people also interested in shopping and makeup (in a halal way of course!).
  • Show them you're Still the Same : If you have recently started to wear hijab, just continue as normal showing them you haven't changed who you are, talk the way you would and do your thing. Their main concern would be whether they need to be in any other way with you so just keep being as you are and things will fall into place naturally Inshallah.
Keep at it sisters, you know you have turned the corner when you cannot leave the house without it on, and when wearing your hijab is like wearing your knickers and socks - you can never forget it and cant do without it!! 

May Allah make it easy for us all.

Me at my previous workplace :)

Do you have any other tips to share with other hijabi muslimahs? I have so many stories to share about my hijab adventures, Inshallah with other posts to come! 


Thursday, October 01, 2015

Succeeding with Sacrifice : Reflections on my "Ten Day sacrifice"


Post my little sacrifice effort, I am sure everyone wants to did it go? So here is my reflection.

Well, it was very hard at first, I kept thinking about wanting to revert back like I was missing something. But after the 5th day, it was much easier. I found so much else to do to replace the time I would usually spend on the stuff above. Like instead of using TV to relax, I did other things like read, play a board-game or just sit and watch the sunset and do nothing else! I also had loads of time to up my Ibaadah - I did everything I wanted to do including catching up on some missed fasts.

In the end what did I learn? I actually discovered some really interesting lessons.

a) I learnt that there is a time and place for everything. There really is! Some evenings after I did all my prayers, and Quraan reading etc, I wanted to just relax my mind. I didn't want to read, or think too much - just chill. I realised, this could have been a time to watch TV.

b) I learnt that I could listen to lectures (I'm hooked on the Stories of the Prophets on YouTube) whilst doing chores in the house (for example cooking or tidying up) and be sufficiently engaged.

So what it meant to me is that I could keep my little 'indulgences' into my life - I learnt that they are best fit in AFTER I have done all my Ibaadah and obligations. So always Islam first, and then the rest.

So I made a list of all the Ibaadah activities I would like to achieve say in a week. I then made a list of all the conditions associated with how I spend my spare time. For example:

"I will only watch TV, if I have listened to an Islamic lecture/talk."

And yes, I do think these two things are not mutually exclusive and can exist together- as long as the content is healthy, wholesome and beneficial at some level.

So all this thinking has ignited me into creating a reminder card to stay on track with my new habits. ( I even up-cycled by using a Hajj card that a local charity posted out to me so the theme fits!)

All of this is only through the Grace and Mercy of Allah, Lord of the Worlds.

Succeeding with sacrifice Inshallah,

My Dhul Hijjah "Ten Day Sacrifice plan"


This year during the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah, like last year, I embarked on a "sacrifice" of my own. Although I wasn't in Hajj, I recognized the importance of these blessed days, and decided that I wanted to make the most of it as well. I wanted to use it as a way to get back on track after the great habits set up after Ramadaan. And I wanted to use it as a way to re-connect with my Lord. As I am on sabbatical from my corporate job (I know I owe another blog post on that one!), I should have loads of time right, so I wanted to make something meaningful of this time, so this was my "Ten Day Sacrifice plan":

I gave up the things in my life that were taking up time unconsciously and where I wasn't seeing much benefit. For me this was :

a) watching TV (mostly series, movies, some sitcoms and loads of cooking shows)
b) playing Covet on my phone

I'm sure there are others, but this was a good starting point for me. I don't think doing any of this is totally wrong, by the way, but for me I wanted a break to see whether I could sacrifice it - because as soon as something becomes too hard to let go of and an attachment develops - you know you have problems!

Watch this space for the results and also what I learnt Inshallah!

Psyched to sacrifice ,

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Proud to be Muslim and empowered with my finances + my step-by-step Zakaat calculation


Today I went to my local Citizens advice bureau for mandatory pension advise and what could have been a regular boring meeting turned out to be a rather interesting discussion when we started talking about shariah compliance dealings!

As the adviser was curious about shariah compliant pension and loans,  I ended up explaining to the adviser how it all works islamically as I understood it, and why we as Muslims do not accept or pay interest, how we only engage in definitive transactions avoid anything speculative. ISo we don't have the stress of market rates and speculation - we know exactly what we are in for and that's all we take a loan for - no hidden costs or added drama! I explained how we are taught not to just float around but we are proactive and aware of exactly what we are in for with anything financial.

It made me realise Alhamdulillah, how fortunate we are as Muslims to :
a) have a sustainable and wholesome model when it comes to finance and borrowings and investments etc
b) be in the position to be fully aware of exactly what our assets and wealth is so we can calculate zakaat (compulsory charity of 2.5% p.a to give to the poor to keep money circulating within society)
c) be aware of all the details in any financial dealings - where our money is invested, what it is worth etc. totally proactive and in charge!

The adviser said he didn't have a clue as to how much wealth he has, and it seems so hard to calculate this. But whilst we are not taught to  sit and count our gold everyday, because of Zakaah, we take some time out, once a year to take stock, list all our assets and liabilities and pay our due - what a wonderful way to be conscious of all that we own, and use the opportunity to be grateful for what we have and also plan for the future. And calculating is made so easy nowadays with Ready-made excel sheets, and online tools. This is my Step by Step Zakaah calculation method that I employ each year:

1.Many years ago I took all my jewelry to weigh and recorded this, So now I can just use that list (topped up with anything additional)
2. I use an excel template from SANZAF  and update it each year with the new figures, but there is also a great tool on NZF if you prefer a UK sheet (zakaat tool)
3. I call my local jeweler for the price of gold, and I use this site (and then take the higher amount between the 2 to be safe)
4. I check my bank balance (and wallet!), any investments etc. Don't forget the cash stash in your bottom drawer! Also to remember any foreign currency
5. Populate the spreadsheet, and the Zakaah due is automatically calculated. I always round up just in case,
6. Start paying up - with family, and then there's loads of charities that can be paid online.

So I know some people find it laborious and difficult, but its really not once you have it all set up and have a plan. I'm so proud to be Muslim and be so empowered with my finances. I hope you are too :)

Powering through pensions and zapping my Zakaah, Inshallah

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Ramadaan 2015 Reflections

Salaams dear readers

Time to reflect post Ramadaan!

I read somewhere that a good way to reflect during Ramadaan is to ask yourself  "What have I learnt about my relationship with Allah?"

For me, it is about attributing everything to Allah. How often do we forget to literally acknowledge that that great idea that popped into our head, or that amazing turn of events, or the beautiful gift we received are all signs from Allah, all made possible by Allah, all given to us by Allah!

I heard a talk by a famous aalim, Mufti Ismail Menk who was talking about this, and he said often we say "Shukr, it was so etc" - but thats not enough, Shukr to who, for what? So I want to be more specific now and when I pray for something, and I get it, I want to close the loop and come back to Allah to thank him, consciously. I have chosen praying a few tasbeehs of "Subhanallahi wa bihamdi" (“Glory to Allah and praise Him) - the most loved words to Allah. Knowing though, that no matter how much we thank Allah it will never be enough, but Inshallah this is a meaningful step that will please Allah.

Abu Dharr reported that the Prophet (sws) said, “Shall I tell you the words that Allah loves the most?” I said: “Yes, tell me, O Messenger of Allah.” He said: “The words dearest to Allah are: subhanAllah wa bihamdihi.

By implementing this conscious close-the-loop step as I like to call it, about making this tasbeeh every time I want to thank Allah for something, I noticed that how often once I received something I would forget to actually pause to thank Him! I would just say "Yay, awesome!," and move on. So Subhnallah, Im really pleased with this new step that Allah has inspired me to take, as I hope it makes me more grateful and consipus of Allah, Inshallah Aameen

What do you do to show thanks, and attrinute everything to Allah? Share your views, I would love to hear  more ideas :)

Keeping it real, with all praise to Allah,

How I shared Eid with my Neighbours


Eid Greetings. Hope you all had a joyous day, and a spiritually uplifting Ramadaan. :)

My passion this Eid has been around sharing our day of celebration (or lets face it, with all the leftover treats its more like a week of celebration!), with people around me who are not necessarily Muslim such as neighbors, colleagues, friends, even my local therapist and gym! (Hubby had a good idea to tell the gym instructor the treats were for cheat day!)

My main aim was to create awareness and educate people about Ramadaan and Eid, and by sharing some delicious homemade goodies, show them what Muslims are really about - peace, goodwill and caring for others. Ultimately I hope it inspires someone to want to know more about Islam and consider it as their way of life, Inshallah - but that's a big dream, so for now just taking one step at a time by sharing simple cookies!

I also want to share with everyone how I made up little packs for my neighbors and the resources I used after searching the Internet for hours, so saving you the hassle ;)

Step 1  : I bought some handy foil containers with lids and filled it with the sweet treats that I made.

Step 2: Bake the goodies. I always like trying out new recipes so made these guys:

Step 3: Making the labels was the most fun! I used :

Putting together Eid Treats for neighbours

Step 4:  Distribute with a smile! :)

The response was wonderful, Alhamdulillah. Everyone really appreciated it, they wanted to hear more about what we did for Eid and the famous questions around how we managed fasting (you cant drink water?!) etc. We also got to meet new neighbors who were really friendly too.

May Allah accept, Aameen

The final Result, Eid packs ready to go out!

I loved reading tweets from all over the world from people who received treats from their Muslim neighbours - with my favorite one being "Think I should move in next to a Muslim to get great cookies for Eid!" - wonderful!

Did you also give out goodies for your neighbours and colleagues, share your pictures and stories using the two hashtags below!

#sharingeidwithneighbours  #sharingeidwithneighbors


Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Keeping up the Ibaadah when you cant fast or pray Salaah/Quraan during Ramadaan


Ah that moment during Ramadaan when you have to stop fasting due to natural reasons!

For me its a bit dreaded because I have been enjoying the month so much, the barakah and blessings, adjusted schedule, building up a momentum with ibaadah and achieving so much. But Allah knows best, and whilst I do feel a pang of disappointment, I know it is Allah's Will and His Timing - so it must be Perfect, so I'm just going to get on with it!

I did plan for this time beforehand, trying to increase Quraan recitation and Salaah especially, knowing I could do my Istighfaar and other tasbeehs during the time when I am "not reading". So come that time, and I'm amped!

One thing I wanted to ensure was that I would use the usual time for Salaah and Quraan recitation for ibaadah - and not waste it with anything else. So here are some ideas inspired to me through the Mercy of Allah, for keeping up the Ibaadah when you cant fast or pray Salaah:

- listen to Quraan recitation. a great way to revise as well if you have memorised some parts of the Quraan.
- listen to Tafsir of surahs, especially the ones you read often, or know by memory, My favourite resource for this is a detailed series by Nouman Ali Khan available on YouTube
- Read Extra duroods on Nabi (SAW)
- Read extra tasbeeh - Laailaaha Illallah, Subhanallah etc

So in this way the time I usually spent on Salaah is still maintained using these alternative beautiful ways to worship, Alhamdulillah. May Allah accept.

What else do you do during this time when you cant pray salaah? Share your ideas and Inshallah many people can benefit!

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Mid-Ramadaan Performance Review


The title isn't meant to ok maybe a little! Well, we all have mid year reviews at work (yes they are dreaded but they can be useful!) They give us a great opportunity to check whether you are on track with your goals and tasks, and give you a chance  to re-focus on priorities for the next half period. So I thought with the help of Allah,  to apply the same reflection time to how I spend my time in Ramadaan.

I actually did a 10-day review, and will do another Inshallah on day 21. But the principle is the same. Take time out to reflect during the period, so that come the end you are not left wondering where did the time go and how come I wasn't able to achieve my goals. As none of us know whether we will get another chance.

It helps if you have goals set before Ramadaan, but none the less I start my review by looking at all the positives that I have done so far - for me it has been good progress on Quraan recitation and revising my Hifdh starting with the surahs from 30th Juz Alhamdulillah.

Then I look at "what could have been better" - for me it has been not reading enough Tahajjud Salaah - I am reminded about its importance such that a scholar has said you don't really want something unless you are waking up for Tahajjud and praying at this very auspicious time.

The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “The Lord descends every night to the lowest heaven when one-third of the night remains and says: ‘Who will call upon Me, that I may answer Him? Who will ask of Me, that I may give him? Who will seek My forgiveness, that I may forgive him?’”
[Sahih Al-Bukhari and Muslim]


So then I make a list of my goals/focus for next half or in my case 10 days, and I set a goal for praying Tahajjud at least every second day. Though in Ramadaan we are up for suhoor anyway, so requires even less effort.

So there you go, my performance review is completed Alhamdulillah. I am refreshed and energized to make the next period even better Inshallah, with the permission of Allah!

Have a go, and let me know how you get on with your review and goal planning :)


Tuesday, June 09, 2015

My 3 steps to being able to Flourish while Fasting

Wanted to share my post - it featured in  a newsletter I sent to my BodyTalk clients and also on linked in (adapted):
As the Month of Ramadaan (a month of daily Fasting for all Muslims all over world) approaches, I want to share a few of my tried and tested steps to preparing myself - body, mind and soul to being able to not only survive- but flourish while fasting.
For many of us our daily schedules still continue, some people are balancing work commitments with children, others are completing school or university assignments. So its important that you take some time to acknowledge the month ahead and prepare yourself to be as productive as possible. Here 3 of my essential steps to do so:

1. Make some goals for what you would like to achieve for the month. As this month holds with it extraordinary blessing and reward for any good deeds done,  to ensure I take maximum advantage of the opportunity, I plan about 3-5 goals I would like to achieve by the end. It could be simple like revising Quraan memorization, or praying extra after regular prayers (and yes sometimes it does include tasks like catching up with my pile of filing!), and that's cool as its also about making the most of your extra time especially in the UK with the long summer days, but the more specific you can be, the better the results. Do this 1 week before Ramadaan to keep in fresh and motivating!

2. Kick out the caffeine.
 But not all at once! If you are like me, then without my morning cup of tea, I will face headaches soon in the day while fasting. So I begin a process of caffeine reduction from about 2-3 weeks before Ramadaan. I start by reducing my usual 2 mugs of tea to 1.5 mugs a day,after a few days down to 1 mug, then keep reducing till I reach zero mugs of tea a day!

3. Getting your body ready to Flourish through fasting. For this I would turn to one of my complementary therapies which will help get my body to the best possible condition to be able to manage the fasts best. Of course, BodyTalk is top of the list as a session of BodyTalk will help to identify and release any points of tension in your body causing it to weaken or slow down. In this way the body (and mind) can be cleared, moving it to a more optimal state - making the challenges of fasting easier to tackle and enjoy.Acupuncture also works well to increase blood flow and energy through out the body.
So with one week to go before the fasting begins, hope you are busy preparing yourself at all levels to fully being able to Flourish while Fasting!
Ramadaan Kareem!