Tag Archives: NewYears

I Know What You Did Last Year…

last-year

 

Published On Productive Muslim
On December 25th, 2016

 

Now I must admit I can’t help but wonder what was the first thing that came to your mind when you read this title. Maybe you heard the notoriously shocking ‘Dan Dan Daaaaaaa’ sound in you head and freaked out a little bit coz the title reminded you of that popular series of horror movies. Or maybe it triggered you to frantically search the secret box inside your brain. Because let’s say I actually did know about something you did that I wasn’t supposed to know about, it will probably give you one of these three feelings:

  • Disappointment: You did something really good and gave up your bragging rights for the sake of Allah, and you’re worried anyone finding out about it might take away from your extra credit for secret good deeds (If that’s the case, touché, you’re one of the very special few! And we all hate you!)
  • Fear: You did something really bad. Like really bad! Your heart is beating fast; you’d rather be transformed into a toilet brush than face the humiliation of people discovering it.
  • Confusion: There were hardly any special or tormenting events; it was basically a numbingly mundane year. Nothing good, nothing bad. And now you’re just staring at me blankly trying to remember: “What did I do?”

 

 

We might block them out, but we all have all kinds of secrets, some of them so deep and dark we bury them in the woods of our minds like murderers burying their victims’ corpses. Then we wait and hope no one ever finds out about them. And the more respected, ‘looked-up-to’ and well mannered we are, the better we get at covering our crimes. Like this woman who doesn’t miss a single prayer, you’ll never guess she’s rude and yells at her senile mom when no one is around. And this man who quotes ‘hadiths’ every chance he gets, well, he chats inappropriately with loose women online. This straight A’s teenager waits till his parents go to sleep and spends hours watching porn! Because as it turns out, inside every person you know, there’s a person you don’t know, capable of doing the unspeakable! You’d think that’s way creepier than any horror movie, but it’s not. There’s more..

 

I recently underwent major eye surgery (which involves a donated eyeball but I’ll be kind and spare you the gory details). Anyways, I was literally blind for a while. Making myself a cup of coffee felt like a bigger achievement than winning the longest marathon.

At the Olympics.

Four years in a row.

With one leg.

Attached to a life support machine.

And carrying two kids on my back. (Okay I’m kidding LOL).

 

So yeah, since you need your eyesight to perform about 90% of your daily activities, I literally felt useless for a long time. I now have a newfound respect for the blind who are still joyful and productive mashAllah. That’s when I realized there’s something even worse than bad habits and dark secrets. There’s one thing that tears us apart more than disappointment, guilt, self-loathing and fear put together. And that’s the numbness of doing nothing at all.

 

What you do when you think no one is looking essentially defines who you are, and basically maps out your entire future. Some people choose to do anonymous acts of kindness and pile up on the good deeds, while others do horrible things and hope they’ll get away with it. In both scenarios the operative word is ‘do’. Then there’s a third group of people who don’t do nothing, they just eat popcorn and watch. They watch other people, watch TV and YouTube, or just watch their lives pass them by. They feel no fear, joy or pain. Achievements don’t motivate them and mistakes don’t teach them. They’re not one of those cultivating success ‘Muflehoon’, or those seeking redemption through repentance “Tawaboon’. They’re blind even though their eyesight is intact and can make themselves a cup of coffee no problem! They’re the ‘Ghafeloon’, they’re oblivious to their good and bad deeds. Like zombies, they feel nothing at all.

 

At least there’s a chance to learn from mistakes and fix them eventually. The power of guilt and stress can push you to take the driving wheel and exit the wrong highway. But spending day after day in your comfort zone, going through the same motions, having the same small talk with your co-workers, the same arguments with your spouse or parents, watching movie after movie till your eyes fall out, spending hours on Facebook and Snap Chat, and counting how many followers you have on Instagram and Twitter. Granted there’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s nothing right either. The mere concept of being busy ‘killing’ time is in itself a huge crime! (Cheesy metaphor I know but I couldn’t help it LOL)

 

Being a ‘watcher’ does not change the fact there’s a surveillance camera documenting your every move. You yourself are being watched all the time. Even your most, well kept secrets are known to Allah. So look closely at your life and tell me, what do you see? The great scholar Ibn ‘Ata Allah said, “If you want to know your standing with Him, look at the state He has put you in now”. There’s an inescapable paradigm shift in those words. They make you pause and reassess the bigger picture! Some people live to make a difference and some people are indifferent to their own lives they just squander it away. Some people keep their eyes on the goal and others are blinded by distractions. So be honest with yourself and find out exactly where He put you. Are you satisfied with who you are? Do you only have horrible secrets with Allah, and that’s why you’re too ashamed you end up running away from Him to a lifeless life? Do you let yourself feel the power of secret good deeds and use it in times of need? Because that’s what it all boils down to; snapping out of zombie mode and ‘feeling your feelings’ will magically make the right path appear right before you. And you’ll see that many times, one small thing done solely for the sake of Allah can cancel out all the nothingness that fills your life.

 

Listen to this amazing story:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Three men, amongst those who came before you, set out until night came and they reached a cave, so they entered it. A rock fell down from the mountain and blocked the entrance of the cave. They said: ‘Nothing will save you from this unless you supplicate to Allah by virtue of a righteous deed you have done.’ Thereupon, one of them said: ‘O Allah! I had parents who were old, and I used to offer them milk before any of my children or slaves. One day, I went far away in search of grazing and could not come back until they had slept. When I milked as usual and brought the drink I found them both asleep. I hated to disturb them and also disliked to give milk to my children before them. My children were crying out of hunger at my feet but I awaited with the bowl in my hand for them to wake up. When they awoke at dawn, they drank milk. O Allah! If I did so to seek Your Pleasure, then deliver us from the distress caused by the rock’. The rock moved slightly but they were unable to escape.

 

The next said: ‘O Allah! I had a cousin whom I loved more than any one else I wanted to have sexual intercourse with her but she refused. Hard pressed in a year of famine, she approached me. I gave her one hundred and twenty dinars on condition that she would yield herself to me. She agreed and when we got together she said: Fear Allah and do not break the seal unlawfully. I moved away from her in spite of the fact that I loved her most passionately; and I let her keep the money I had given her. O Allah! If I did that to seek Your Pleasure, then, remove the distress in which we are.’ The rock moved aside a bit further but they were still unable to get out.

 

The third one said: ‘O Allah! I hired some laborers and paid them their wages except one of them departed without taking his due. I invested his money in business and the business prospered greatly. After a long time, he came to me and said: O slave of Allah! Pay me my dues. I said: All that you see is yours – camels, cattle, goats and slaves. He said: O slave of Allah! Do not mock at me. I assured him that I was not joking. So he took all the things and went away. He spared nothing. O Allah! If I did so seeking Your Pleasure, then relieve us of our distress.’ The rock slipped aside and they got out walking freely”.

[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

 

I’m sure this wasn’t a bedtime story. Our beloved Prophet was trying to teach us a timeless lesson through this Hadith. For in times of desperation, you’ll want to use every tool in the box. When you’re broken, weak and utterly desperate, trust me, you’ll want to use your secret righteous deeds to plead and beg Allah for help. And it will work, just like it did for these three men. But now, do we really have secrets with Allah good enough to get us through the bad times? Which one would you have related had you been in that cave? I’ve been asking myself this very question for God knows how long now and I’m still absolutely clueless! But that’s okay coz as long as we are breathing, there’s still time. There’s time to figure it out, to do more, and be more! And while I honestly have no idea what you did last year, I think I know what you will do from now on, and it involves greatness.

This is not the end; it’s the beginning of a new year crowned with amazing possibilities.

May it be filled with beautiful secrets….

 

Lilly S. Mohsen.

 

 

 

 

 

Change Your Story… BACKWARDS!

Published on IUO Blog
31st December, 2015
This is the original version

 

Change.jpg

You’ll never believe what just came in the mail right now….

A DVD of YOUR life!

Wanna have a movie night? Yay!

I got popcorn, candy and sodas. Let’s skip the trailers and get to the good part.

Awwww here you are crawling! Oh and there you are taking your first steps! That’s SO CUTE!

Here you’re disgusted coz you don’t like your veggies…
Potty training, chicken pox, time outs…

Okay skip, skip, skip….

First day of school…
First tooth falling off…
Oops! Finding out tooth fairies don’t exist (sorry!)
First secret crush…. Long weekends, spring breaks and summers… all the way to graduation… wow those must be some really cherished memories….

You smile and tear up as you relive those moments and I just sit here munching on popcorn and watching you instead of the movie!

Okay, change of plans! Let’s skip to the beginning of Year 2015…

There we are… perfect!

It’s January 2015 and you have that determined look on your face! You have so many plans and so many dreams! “2015 is the year people!” You announce proudly. You promise to be organized, productive, positive….

You know what? You vow to just be A-MAZING!

By June, motivation pipes down and you realize most of what you had planned is still un-done, you’re falling back into old habits and well… Who cares anyway! It’s summer time so let’s just relax and enjoy it….

And it’s all fun and entertainment till the very serious month of September peeps in and you realize three quarters of the year had passed and you’re still the same… staring at your ‘I’m gonna be amazing’ list with one eye-brow up.

Hmmmmm…

And before you know it, you’re holding the little 2016 calendar that came as a gift with the too many pizzas you ordered and you’re like, “What? It’s December already?? Fine! Then 2016 is the year people!”
The screen reads “To Be Continued… (Or actually: To Be Repeated Next Year…)
You look at me, shrug, then get up to leave.

“Hey, where you going? Come back!” I momentarily stop eating popcorn. “Give me that remote!”

The Things You Wouldn’t Change

We tend to be so hard on ourselves sometimes. We tend to look at the bad and believe our worst reviews, all the while letting the good slip away. This IS NOT the story of your life. There’s so much more…. Let’s rewind…

Here! Pause this scene!

Look! You’re sleeping peacefully…. Because you didn’t hold grudges or maybe you made someone smile from the heart that day! Remember?

There… It’s Ramadan and your tears are falling down during prayer… you prostrate and make Du’a… coz you know Allah is listening and you suddenly feel so close to Him… You know He’s there watching over you… Would you even trade that serene moment for the world?

Pause these scenes: You’re focused on your studies, swallowing your anger, holding the door for a stranger, hugging a scared child, smiling with so much love at your spouse or kids, kissing your mom’s hand, running an errand for someone in need… this is all you! You’ve done so much good this year…. You just forgot….

Go backwards and relive your story…
All this pain you’ve endured…
All the times you thought you failed and decided not to give up….
All the problems you’ve managed to solve…
All the lessons you learnt through people who walked into your life to teach you something new…
All the laughter, the heartache, the surprises, the celebrations, the disappointments, and the stress…. So much has happened…

And you know how I know you’re already amazing? It’s coz you’re reading this now…. And let’s face it, all my readers are amazing… (Yeah, I’m just biased that way J)

But the main reason you’re a success is coz you’ve been through all of this. You’ve fallen and gotten back up and you’re ready to start again….

You’re amazing because you’ve survived….

 

The Things You Can’t Change

I’m confused. Your life-movie is suddenly a sob-fest. What did I miss?

You’ve heard bad news. Things didn’t go your way. You’ve lost a loved one. There was an accident, or a downfall, or an unexpected detour….

Was it something that you did wrong? If yes, then yeah beat yourself up a little bit and then go fix it! Deal with the damage. Apologize. Seek Allah’s forgiveness. Start over and do it right this time.

But if it’s something you can’t change, if it’s not a mistake or something you can control then I’m telling you, it’s destiny… it’s meant to be. It’s an integral part of the script… that scary or sad scene that turns events around before the happy ending.

Maybe you don’t know it now… but you will find out soon. God does everything for a good reason. You just need to trust in His choices and accept them.

(And then when you see the blessing behind it eventually, you’ll come back and tell us, coz we’re dying of curiosity here, okay!)

 

The Things You Really Want To Change

If this year was just a dress rehearsal, and next year is the real thing, what would you change?

If you could go to bed right now, wake up and all your problems have suddenly disappeared. What would your life be like?

If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently…?

Big questions, huh? And we rarely think of the answers coz we simply save last year’s file on the desktop and open a new window.

New promises. New plans. New resolutions!

Wake up and smell the promotional calendars people! It’s a trap!!
You can’t navigate to a better place if you don’t know where you are now.

You need to look back, see what you did wrong before you can ever try to make it right.

Look back at all the good you did, and repeat the pattern that worked best for you. Maintain the habits, attitudes, and the little things you did to pile up a cherished treasure of amazing memories.

Look back and accept the things you can’t change. Make room for them in your life. Switch stuff around and adjust to your reality peacefully.

Look back and find the courage to change the things you can. It won’t happen overnight, but at least there’s a starting point on your map.

Your life is not scattered notes. It’s all connected, flowing and perfectly managed by the One Merciful Allah. It’s a beautiful book that tells your unique story… and how you’ve touched and changed so many lives around you.

Look back; give yourself credit for reaching this far and embrace who you are…

Coz sometimes it’s the new things you learn about your past that can totally change your future…

See the bigger picture and realize the truth of this present moment… It’s not what you did, or what you will do…

It’s what’s in your heart right now that makes you amazing….

 

Happy New Years!

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

Tell us about something good you did this year in the comments box below. Inspire others with your story…. Sometimes one word can change someone’s world…

 

 

 

 

Why You Need To Say It Before The New Years

Published on the 22nd December, 2015
For The Daily Crisp

Unsaid.jpg

Say It Before It’s Too Late…

If you haven’t seen the animation movie ‘Inside Out’, I suggest you leave this article and go watch it.

No don’t worry about me, I’ll just wait here…

This movie shows the five primary emotions as characters; anger, fear, sadness, disgust and joy, who literally control the motherboard of your brain and as a result affect your feelings, thoughts and behaviors. I like to imagine that in December of every year, those five people inside your head sit down for a board meeting, each with a cup of coffee and a huge pile of dusty files of all the things that were left unsaid….

Anger: “You wusses! I say it a million times every single year but you all won’t listen to me! The only way to deal with a problem is to spit it out! Some people just need a wake-up slap! On the face! With a BASEBALL BAT! I’ve held so much anger inside I’m gonna explode soon! And it’s not like we have a shredder for these stupid ‘unsaid’ files! What am I supposed to do with this rage now, ha? You’re all COWARDS! PUSHOVERS!”

Fear: “Whoa! What if you say the things you need to say, pour your heart out then get rejected? Or get in trouble? What if you stand up for what you believe in and end up shunned? Ridiculed? Oh my God, what if you lose your friends or loved ones coz you said things they don’t wanna hear? I say it’s not worth the risk! Shove those files in the back of your mind and we’ll all be okay! Better safe than sorry!”

Sadness: “I agree with Mr. Fear. It doesn’t matter anyway.. No one will understand. It’s better to leave things unsaid than say them and realize no one cares. Bearing an untold story is a great agony, but there’s no guarantee the pain will go away if you share it.. “

Disgust: “Ughh Sadness, you’re so negative you make me sick! But I can’t say things like that to other people! I judge them silently instead. I doubt them, make all kinds of assumptions and never get any answers coz I’m too proud to ask or too disgusted to look at them! I don’t give advice or help people fix their lives coz no one likes a ‘know-it-all’. I have so much to say, but now it’s too late..”

Joy: ”I know you guys think I’m perfect but I’m not. I have a huge pile of unsaid things too. But my files are beautiful. They’re filled with love, appreciation, compliments and gratitude… except I never had the chance to express them.”

And then the CEO of the brain concludes the meeting with a bang on the desk and a frustrating question: “What are we gonna do with all these dusty files? The storage is completely over packed, the doors won’t even open! There’s no more room!”

Look me in the eye and tell me honestly….

Do you have bite marks on your tongue from all the things you never said…?

Is your heart filled with love for someone, but that person has no idea?

Did you ever drift apart from a friend and were left with all the things you didn’t say?

Are you trapped in a relationship, muted or too drained to explain?

Do you let your anger speak coz it’s easier to rage than admit you’re weak or vulnerable?

Are you too proud to apologize or too hurt to ask for an apology?

Did you say it…?

‘I love you’, ‘I’m sorry’, ‘I can’t live without you’, ‘You hurt me’, ‘I need help’

Did you say it before it’s too late….?

I’ve got news for you guys. This might come as a shock but do you know what happens when you bury a seed in the ground? It grows! It grows so big that it becomes a huge tree. The unspoken seeds of hurt turn to anger, the silent gratitude turns to high expectations, the un-given help or advice turns to guilt, and the unrevealed love will suffocate the life out of you. We think avoiding something will make it go away, but the truth is, the words left unsaid will sit in your mind screaming. Sometimes it’s not what people say, it’s what they don’t say that hurts the most.

 

Since you started reading this, you’ve been thinking of specific people or perhaps one special person you left things unresolved with. And do you know how I know that person is special? Besides the fact that I have magic powers, we both know that the opposite of love is not hate! It’s indifference…

So whoever popped in your mind, be it someone you love or wanna strangle coz they’ve hurt you so much, that person is a part of you…. An unresolved tangled knot in your heart….

Put your ego on the side, find your calm soul and say the things you’ve left unsaid. Believe me, it’ll haunt you forever if you don’t. A conflict is never about what we see, it’s about the buried wounds left unhealed. And we carry this huge burden day after day, year after year, and it changes who we are in the process….

December is just a reminder to deal with the old before you start the new. If you want to do better, reach your goals, travel far with your dreams, you need to travel light. Put down that burden and go make it right…

With the things that were left… unsaid…

 

Happy New Years

 

Lilly S. Mohsen