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30 Acts Of Kindness This Ramadan

30 Acts Of Kindness This Ramadan

 

Ramadan Kareem everyone!

Remember me?
Well. I never thought I’d be the kind of person who gets super excited about Ramadan and fasting in this hot weather.

Yeah, I was right!

I actually usually completely disappear (or more like evaporate) in Ramadan, to hide in my own little cave, just asking Allah to help me survive one more day.
But this year, I plan on doing things differently inshAllah.
Why?

Okay, I’m gonna be honest here. I’ve been studying about healthy habits and positive states of mind and stuff, and I was forced to take an up close and personal look at my ‘emotional’ pattern around this time of year.

About a month before Ramadan, I start reminiscing about the peaceful vibes, the togetherness and how much I need some private, quality time with Allah. I’m all like ‘Soooooooo niceeeeeee!’

But then the closer we get to the first day the more I start panicking. I actually had moments when I’d remember we start fasting in three days and I run to drink water! Add a whole lot of anxiety attacks, palpitations and stress headaches to that scenario and you’ll get a vague idea of my mental state on the night of the first ‘sohoor’. Which reminds me, can we please have a moment of silence for those of us hooked on morning caffeine?

Thank you…

Okay, so to cut a long story short, I’ve decided to do something about my ‘fear of fasting’ phobia. I’m gonna change my habits and actually do my best to seize every single moment of this blessed month, not only through prayer and reading Qur’an, but also by doing one good deed or ‘act of kindness’ a day and I’d love to share my journey with you guys because

  1. I love my readers so much and want them all to get extra rewards, and
  2. When I go public with my goals, I usually stick to them if only just to save face LOL.

Acts-of-kindness

Starting tonight inshAllah, I’ll be putting up ideas for one good deed a day aimed at beginners, and will also options for ‘advance-level-fasting-is-so-easy-for-me’ kind of people to up their challenge-loving hormones too.

See you tonight inshAllah
You guys ready?
Bism Allah….

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’ll Be Surprised Today

Throwback hajj 2015

Day Seven Diary:

 

“Allahu Akbaro Kabeera…

Wal Hamdulellah Katheera…

Wa Sobhan Allah bokratan wa aseela…”

The Eid chant has such a sensational vibe. We said it all the way to Mena where we are supposed to stay for three days. We heard about the hundreds of people who died in the Hajj stampede earlier, may God bless their souls, and I think deep down we are all worried about the coming three days of stoning satan.

May Allah make it easier for us all…

I miss Madina! Outside the Holy Ka’bah, life is a bit harsh. People here are more strict I guess. I was wearing a white abaya yesterday with a soft golden trim, and the mosque guard scolded me! He said women should only wear plain black abayas! What the…?

But Alhamduallah the tawaf was easier than we thought, and I made Duas for all of you at the Hijr of Ismail, 10 inches away from Ka’bah!

Zzzzzzzzzzz

Huh? What?

OMG I think I dozed off for a second! I’m so sorry! Please don’t fire me from the representative job!

Anyways, we still have three days to go and I’m honestly super exhausted. We all are! But we are taking care of each other. Women offer each other water, medicine, fever patches & and soothing hugs. It’s like we are all one family.  Aya, my sister in law said something that made so much sense:

“Look at the pillars of Islam, the intensity of physical effort increases with each pillar. Like the shahada is the least and the Hajj is the most physically tiring. But it works the other way with spirituality. It takes a huge amount of faith to say the shahada from the heart, then it gets easier and easier up until the Hajj. Every single Muslim here is  eager to perform the Hajj by the book and do everything right. The joy of faith and spirituality probably comes as a package with the journey. It’s the Great Lord’s gift to His guests…”

 

It’s that joy that makes the effort and jihad of Hajj worth every second! Yeah, I liked that reflection a lot!

Okay everyone, let’s give Aya a big round of applause!

Now it’s your guys’ turn to represent us in Eid! Go enjoy our beautiful Islamic holiday. Go have fun and do something amazing today. That’s the whole point of Eid… It’s to pause the worry, anxiety and any sadness you might feel, and go out in the sun with your families… Laugh and joke and play games. Be a cheerful you this Eid…

 

You never know what might happen tomorrow. The roads are closed here coz they’re still hauling out the martyrs’ bodies….

Their loved ones will never see them again. They’re not going back home with us, and some of their families and friends will never know how much time they’ve spent raising their hands and making Duas for them here…

So go kiss your parents’ hands. Buy your spouse some flowers and chocolates and let your kids paint your face! Go out and make someone else happy… Bring some smiles and joy to the world around you. Tell your loved ones how much you love them. Call up your estranged cousins and let go of anything that’s upsetting you. Open your heart and wrap your loved ones with your arms… You’ll be surprised at the huge number of people who pray to see you happy… And the number of loved ones who truly need your warm embrace…

 

Have a wonderful blessed Eid….

I’ll miss you all so much…

All my love…

Lilly S. Mohsen 

 

The ‘Before’ and ‘After’ Click!

Throwback Hajj journey 2015

 

Day Six Diary:

Tick tock tick tock

It’s 8:35am and we are all counting the minutes till dhuhr prayer, which is when the most beautiful and glorious day of the year starts right here on mount Arafah. This is what we came here for, and this is why I paid extra charges for overweight luggage since the thousands of hearts I took with me didn’t fit in my purple carry-on!

 

Today is the day people! You’ll all be transformed and reborn by Maghreb prayer inshAllah.

Oh my God! You know what sounds like so much fun?

A before and after picture!!

You know when you’re all pale and geeky then you get a fabulous makeover? And then the picture is photoshopped and ho-ho! You’re as beautiful as the sun and moon put together!

Except today’s makeover is of your inner souls… Your Merciful Great Lord will delete the sins of your past by sunset along with all its regrets and mistakes. There’s no tricks or technology involved. It’s purely you…glowing with peace and blessings… As innocent as a newborn baby, with a chance to start anew…

The Before Picture:

Do you think it’s safe to whine a little bit before Dhuhr prayer? Coz I so need to take it out of my “before” drama-queen-system.

Dhuhr is at noon so we’re good for a couple of hours!

Okay, so we finished Hajj rites at the Ka’bah yesterday and ran to the buses to spend the night at mount Arafa. It’s so not a sunnah actually, but with the traffic nightmare, it’s better to be safe than sorry. A couple of years ago, a group of pilgrims got stuck on the road, they arrived at Arafat AFTER Maghreb! Like hello? Too late! They missed Hajj completely and had to redo it the following year.

Anyways, Hajjis stay in tents, one for men and one for women. We walked in and looked at each other with confusion, seeing there wasn’t enough room for all hundred women to sleep in, we realized “Uhm we have a problem!” It was after midnight and this was the only chance to get some sleep for another two days. So the plan was to take turns. Yes, you heard that right! There was a line up for sleep, just like the one outside for the bathrooms (not a correct term though. It’s actually just a toilet and a tiny drain, and if you wanna shower, I guess you stand on top of the toilet and use the shower head)

I met my lovely cousins here too, and they were so sweet they managed to save one single bed for both my sister in law and I.  Both of us crammed in a tiny bunk bed it felt like that movie “Honey I Blew Up The Kids!” We laughed so hard. I mean  it’s 100 degrees outside, the lights are on, there’s 40 women around you engaging in bedtime gossip, loud noises of cars and sirens, and about 4000 Mosquitos distributed evenly amongst us! Plus the line up outside.

(I told you I was gonna whine lol)

But sobhan Allah, even with all that, we still got some peaceful sleep, and now we can’t wait for dhuhr!

“Click”

Sorry, that was my camera taking the “before” picture!

 

Shhhhhhhh The Great Lord is descending to the first heaven…

Talk to Him… tell Him what’s aching your heart…. He is the most benevolent and the most generous…

Now go talk to Allah, He’s listening

 

The After Picture:

It’s 6:56pm and with the sunset of Arafah day, we have been reborn…

And there are no words to describe this feeling…

Everyone is so quiet and calm… Even though we have a long way ahead to Muzdalafa, and we’re extremely exhausted, everyone is smiling and praising the Great Lord…

Thanking Him for the luxury we take for granted back home…

Comfy beds, clean bathrooms, warm meals, shower gels and lotions!

And most of all thanking Him for giving us the means to come here…

And then inviting us to be His guests…

And even though we have done so much wrong, He’s giving us the chance to start a new page…

No wonder we are all smiling…

“Click”

That’s the “After” picture…

You can hardly see the faces: they’re all emitting so much pure white light…

You’ve been given a second chance… Take the right path and enlighten our world with every step you take…

Or take a wrong turn and..

You know what? Let me hang this picture on your wall. It will remind you daily that when you’re on the right track, nothing can go wrong…

When you’re with Allah, you’re more beautiful than the sun and moon put together…

 

Have a wonderful amazing Eid guys! I’m off to stone the stupid devil. Wish me luck!

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

Are You The One?

Throwback Hajj 2015
Published on On Islam

door kabah.jpg

Hajj Diary: Day Five

Turns out they weren’t kidding when they said we wouldn’t have time to breathe. After eight long hours in the bus, we finally arrived in Mecca in a state of Ihram. We chanted “Labayk Allahuma Labayk” the whole way! And it was SO nice!

We also stopped at a very primitive, hygiene-deficient, dungeon of a rest house to pray and use the bathrooms! But can we please not talk about this part? Call me spoiled but I think I’m scarred for life!

I’ll save you the gory details. Just know you guys are lucky to be heart-Hajjis when it comes to this part of the journey!

No I mean it, we are not gonna talk about it! End of story. (Hey! You! No debating in Hajj!)

Anyways, once we arrived at the hotel, someone pushed the fast-forward button on our journey, and the new catch phrase became: “Come on let’s go let’s go LET’S GO!”

We headed off to the haram to start the rites of Hajj and to be perfectly honest, walking into the Holy place and seeing the cranes, construction workers and annoying partitions, I suddenly felt a bit disappointed. I kept my head down as my brother miraculously infiltrated us through the huge crowd, and then when we finally reached the tawaf area, I felt like a soft invisible hand slowly lift my chin up… And my eyes were glued open…

I saw it…

The Ka’bah…

And the glorious magnificent sight of it pierced right through my heart with a million rays of shimmering light…

No matter how many times you’ve visited Mecca. Seeing the Ka’bah each time is exactly like seeing it the first time!

How can I explain this?

If Madina is peace and serenity, Mecca is…

Intense… Powerful… Awe-inspiring! Especially in these blessed days….

Even the imam welled up during Isha prayer and choked on his tears while reciting Quran out loud from the intensity of the soul-captivating energies emitting from the beautiful House of God…

(Wait, I’m not sure if that was a secret. But we all heard him, so that’s not gossiping right?)

A little bit later, amidst the heat waves of summer nights in Mecca, it started to rain…

I think even the sky is overwhelmed by the yearning hearts coming from all around the world to please Allah… The Most Merciful…

Sometimes I wonder if non-Muslims watch the rituals of Hajj on TV and think we are a bunch of cucko-heads dressed in white towels and doing ring-a-roses around a black box!

Let them think what they want…

Because what we feel now is worth a lifetime of bliss. What we see and do and say is done with love beyond measures…

What we believe in is what keeps us grounded, hopeful and at peace…

At this exact moment… Some people are off partying wildly somewhere. They’re living it up and chasing meaningless, temporary pleasure. But the minute they’re alone with their hearts, they cry out screams of despair. They feel empty inside… Running after a mirage with no goal or end in mind.

But here…

Once you’re done each ritual, oh the feeling you get… It’s surreal… It’s like drinking cold water on a hot sizzling day or finding a loved one safe after an earthquake….

There’s no emptiness here… Only joy and peace…

Close your eyes and feel the vibes of blessings coming down from the sky. Push the fast forward button on your busy life and tell me… How would you like your story to end?

Or rather where would you like your eternal life to begin…?

Being here in this Holy place gives us a new perspective… That man in wrinkled and torn clothes praying next to you, and that old woman sleeping on the floor coz she has no place to stay… All these people lifting their hands up to the Great Lord… I paused and eavesdropped on their prayers, knowing they probably have a lot to ask. But they’re not asking for fancy cars or money to buy a new laptop or designer purses. Sit here and listen to the whispers and feel their hot desperate tears…

They’re all asking for one thing… For Allah to love them…

That’s it…

For Allah to accept them as His salves…

I swear I feel so small and insignificant here…

And the only thing that keeps me hopeful is that I have all your hearts here with me…

Perhaps one of you is so beloved to Allah that for his or her sake, He will generously accept us all…

Maybe because of a sincere intention or a loving teardrop or even a kind word, Allah chose you amongst His beloved slaves…

Millions of prayers could be answered tonight because of one beloved heart…

Your heart…

So look inside it and tell me…

Are you the one…?

 

Your Hajj Representative
Lilly S. Mohsen

 

See you tomorrow in Arafat ishAllah. Don’t miss out on fasting on this beautiful blessed day…

Walk The Walk With Me

Throwback, Hajj 2015
Published exclusively on On Islam

Kabah.jpg

Hajj Diaries: Day Three

Life is so very different here. The city literally pauses five times a day, at the beautiful sound of the call to prayer. Everything closes down completely and the Holy mosque is the only place vibrating with life. You’d be talking to someone all absorbed in an important conversation, and then suddenly you both stop, face the Qiblah, and start walking. As if we are spiritually hypnotized. I can talk about this Holy place forever, but someone just tapped me on the shoulder, inviting the whole Hajj group to the meeting room for instructions on the rites of Pilgrimage. I gotta go!

(Pssssstttttt one more thing! The mosque is surrounded with pigeons all day, and yet you NEVER see any bird droppings! Coincidence? I think not!!)

Okayyyyy I’m coming! Sorry guys, I really gotta go!

 

The leader quiets us down and then starts explaining. Of course you’re part of the group! You’re heart Hajjis this year, right? Come on in

“Attention people! Listen up!

Starting the 9th of Dhul Hajjah, you barely have time to breathe! The rites of Hajj will commence one after the other so fast it will make your head spin! And yes, say goodbye to sleep! (Yeah, Hajj is a form of Jihad. What did you guys except?)

But don’t panic. Please take your seats while I explain the process briefly. There’s snacks and refreshments in the hall on your way in, so please help yourselves…

Okay so here it goes:

Step one: Begin Ihram and head off to Umrah

Circumambulation:

I often wondered why we walk around the Kaabah seven times in an anti-clock wise motion. But this year, being your Hajj representative and all, it was time to get some answers!

Do you ever walk into a place, like a green park or a white room, take a deep breath, and say “wow I feel so peaceful here”

Okay, multiply that by a gazillion times and you’ll understand what’s it like to be near the Kaabah. The House of God is located on a blessed spot, in the zero magnetism zone. Once you circumambulate around it anti clock wise, the same direction the entire universe rotates, your whole system is charged with positive energy.

The layers of earth are seven, so are the heavens. And just like each key has a different number of ridges to open a certain door, I personally believe, rotating around the Kaabah seven times opens the doors to a blessed life on earth and an eternal abode in Paradise…

Saei: Walk The Walk

Next comes the seven walks or the “saei” between mount Safa and mount Marwa, another rite of umrah and hajj. It is to honor lady Hajjar, who walked the seven walks hoping to find water for her thirsty baby, and then behold! The eternal blessed spring of Zamzam erupts.

The word “saei” roughly translates to: the effort exerted to attain something great. Is that perhaps a reflection of our lives too? We do “saei” every day, working hard to do good deeds and avoid sins. Life is just an attempted effort to reach our version of “divine water in the middle of the desert”. We walk the walk in life, knowing that one day, we will be rewarded  too… With eternal paradise inshallah

Once you’re done both sets of walks, you go drench your heart and soul with Zamzam water and pray two rakas then prepare for Arafat, the best day in the history of days…

But wait…

Don’t go…

Take a minute to listen to the sound of the surreal silence of this “overcrowded with millions of people” Holy mosque…

Stare at the Ka’bah…Quench this thirst in your soul you never knew existed till this moment.

The feeling you have now, seeing it up close and personal can never be described in human words…

It’s a mix of awe, shock, serenity, security, and detachment from the world. You feel your soul is being slowly disconnected from your body and tied with an eternal bliss to this beautiful velvet covered House of God.

The rush of emotions in this place is overpowering…

And it makes me wonder… If a place on earth is so heavenly to the point that you wouldn’t wanna blink and miss a second of its view… If the reality of being near the Ka’bah is more enchanting and captivating than any dream… I wonder…what is paradise like…?

 

Your Hajj Representative

Lilly S. Mohsen

It’s Not The Places, It’s The Beloved

Throw Back Hajj Diaries 2015
Published on On Islam

Medina2

Hajj Diaries: Day Two:

“What’s happening?”
“They’ve opened the door! RUNNNNNNN”

You see, Prophet Muhammad’s original mosque with attached house is actually a relatively small area (about 20×15 meters) located inside today’s huge Holy mosque in Madina. Women get a chance to visit the sequestered area three times a day, for about two hours each time. You’ll find the Muslim women gathered by the partition, way before visitation hours, stretching and jogging in place, while the area is being cleared out of the men (as it should be! They get 18 hours a day!)

Anyways, when the door opens, women charge like a stampede. (I wish I was exaggerating but I’m not LOL) and so I grab Aya, my sister in law and run like the wind, unbothered by the pushing and shoving of some very sturdy women mashAllah. Nothing matters when you race with your heart to meet the beloved….

This is his house… Prophet Muhammad (peace by upon him) is buried here next to his two best friends, Abu Bakr Al Siddique and Omar Ibn Al Khattab. And on your right, is his mosque. You’re probably wondering why all the carpets are red except for this one, it’s green. Well it’s because it’s literally a meadow and a little piece of heaven

Narrated by Abu Hurrairah, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “The space between my house and my pulpit is a garden from the gardens of Paradise”

He also said that one rak’ah of prayer in his mosque is worth ten thousand rak’ahs. Okay, now that I think of it, this was well worth getting jammed and elbowed for!

After greeting the prophet and his friends and miraculously praying on the green carpet, something very unusual happens. An invisible magnetic force drowns out the noises and pulls you in. You stand by the Prophet’s chamber… Frozen… Speechless… Overwhelmed….That’s the moment you realize… Muhammad was here….and somehow time ceases to exist…

The beloved lived…here…. He sat right there with his grandchildren propped on his lap before Friday prayer. He walked here with Abu Bakr and Omar and Hamza… This is where Islam emerged from. He stood in the exact same spot you’re standing in now, smiling and welcoming people. He leaned on this palm tree and slept inside this room…

Muhammad… The Last Prophet… The final connection between the heavens and earth. He was here… Saying “Soothe our hearts with it” and listened to Bilal’s beautiful voice recite the call for prayer. Allah’s beloved messenger… The one who stayed up all night praying for his Ummah till his feet were swollen. The one man who carried the burden mountains refused to carry, and brought to the whole world their true and ultimate salvation…

Muhammad is here…

It suddenly dawned on me while I stood there motionless, with tears streaming down my face, why I love him so much even though I never met him. I realize his love is engraved deep within our hearts…. His love is innate… It’s already inside each and every one of us, we just didn’t know it… Until today…

Look around you… See the look on people’s faces… It says it all. They’re mesmerized by the thought of standing by his house, 1400 later! They’d give up everything just to visit his mosque once in their lifetime!  Listen to their words… They talk to him as if he’s right there. They tell him about their lives and troubles and how all their families back home send their greetings.

“We miss you Prophet of God”

These are the words you hear in this place every single day. Said by millions of every age, race and color… They miss him even though they’ve never met him… And that’s the truest, most genuine love of all…

Visiting the Prophet’s mosque is not an obligation of Hajj, and yet look, there’s hardly an empty spot to pray in. I finally understand why Shiekh Hamza Yusuf got so emotional in one of his lectures about Prophet Muhammad…

He explained how when you love someone so intensely, you find yourself loving everything they love. And when you miss them, you’ll close your eyes and touch the things they once touched, and kiss the stones and walls of the homes they once lived in… But it’s not the things or the walls or the stones that make your heart melt and your soul shiver…

“It’s not the places… It’s the beloved… He was here….”

 

Peace be upon you my beloved Prophet. Everyone reading this is sending you their love from all parts of the world. May you smile and welcome them in Paradise… And invite them to your palace. I have a feeling the carpets are emerald green there too…

We miss you Muhammad… More than words can ever say…

Until we meet my love….

 

Your Hajj Representative

Lilly S. Mohsen 

Hajj Diaries: Lilly In Mecca

Throwback, Hajj journey 2015
Published exclusively on On Islam

Medina1.jpg

Day One Dairy: Friday

Can I Represent You For 7 Days?

Before you answer that question let me tell you something:

There’s approximately 1.8 Billion Muslims in the world today. And because of the capacity limit of the great Holy mosque in Mecca, only 3 million people out of the 1.8 billion can perform Hajj every year. If you do the boring math, you’ll realize that’s only 0.0016% of the Ummah. If you do more boring math, you’ll be shocked to know, that even if every Muslim gets a fair chance to fulfill their Hajj obligation, which is one of the main pillars in Islam, they’d have to wait more than a hundred years for their turn. Some people will live and die before having the chance to perform Hajj! Not because they’re sick or old or can’t afford it! But simply because of capacity limitations. Now that really sucks, doesn’t it?

Millions of Muslims apply for Hajj visas every year and get rejected. Millions can’t afford it, can’t take a leave from work, have little kids they can’t leave behind or are physically unable to travel. I know Hajj is only an obligation for those who are able, but just looking at these number and odds, it doesn’t seem fair to me! Less than 1% of Muslims get to be reborn through Hajj, sometimes every year, while others have zero chance!

 

Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) on a Jihad journey, said “We left many Muslims behind and yet they’re with us in every step and share the same rewards. All because they wished to join us but couldn’t…”

 

Is there perhaps a different kind of Hajj that you can do EVERY single year with your heart, and get the same reward of those who are physically there? Is your sincere intention and longing to please the Lord, enough to fulfill this one, out-of-reach pillar?

Yes, I think so too… Coz Allah is Fair, and He’s the Most Merciful

Try as you may, you’ll never understand the virtue and value of the first ten days of Dhul Hajjah, whether you’re in Mecca or at home. If you’re one of those people, who turn on the TV and watch the floods of white-dressed pilgrims circumbulate the Kaa’ba and hear your heart cry out “Awwwhhh I WISH I WAS THERE”

Then welcome! I’m glad to tell you, you’re in the right place. Please leave your heart in the Lobby along with your consent for me to take it with me. My name is Lilly. S Mohsen, and I will be your representative for the next 7 days inshAllah.

Did I mention I’m one of those lucky 0.016%?

Okay wait, don’t start mumbling jealous words yet. I’m sitting here in the beloved’s mosque in Madina, overwhelmed and humbled by this gift from Allah, and wishing you were all here with me….then I thought “you all can!”

All you need to do is have the intention. A true sincere and genuine intention to come to Hajj this year, have all your past mistakes deleted and start over a new page.

No cheating guys! I’m in a holy place, remember? I’ll know if your intentions are from the heart or not and then you’ll be SO busted! (Actually I won’t know. But I’ll still pretend I do!)

 

All I’m asking is for you to let go of the worldly distractions for a few days. Believe it with every cell in your body that this year, you can do Hajj with your heart…

 

As for me, I’ll walk you through the journey inshAllah during the coming days, which Allah testifies are the best days of the year and the most loved to Him. I’ll take your hearts with me every where I go, and on judgement day, if you’ve never had the chance to do your Hajj physically, I’ll be your faithful witness that in 2015, you came with your heart…

 

There’s a reason Allah inspired me with this thought, right here, sitting next to His beloved’s house. There’s a reason you’re reading this now and your heart is being opened slowly…

Perhaps it’s the only reason Allah invited me to His house, knowing how imperfect and undeserving I might be of this huge honor…

It’s because Allah loves you… And right now… He is looking at your heart…

 

May Allah accept your spiritual Hajj…

Let’s get this beautiful journey started…

 

Your Hajj Representative

Lilly S. Mohsen