Tag Archives: women

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 

 

Are You The One?

Throwback Hajj 2015
Published on On Islam

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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…

Don’t Tempt Us!

Throwback hajj 2015
Published exclusively on On Islam

Hajj Diaries: Day Four

“Here’s a not-so hypothetical question!” I looked at my brother Mohamed with one eyebrow up. “You know, hundreds of pilgrims die cramped in the humongous crowd of Mena during the stoning ritual. If your wife and I fall, who will you save?”

“I guess that’s why God gave me two strong arms! So I can lift you both up at the same time!” He replied.

“Well played Mohamed….”

Other than understanding why women need a mehrem, evidently for situations like this one, I have learnt so much about the wisdom and blessings behind Hajj and umrah this year, and one of them is that it brings people closer. Up to five or six people a room, you spend day and night together and so a special bond is created that nothing and no one can break. Ask anyone about their Hajj companions and they’ll smile from ear to ear for half an hour first before replying!

I’m staying with my brother and sister-in-law, and at the airport I was delighted to meet a few of my dear cousins, too. We left our kids, families and loved ones behind… And in this beautiful place, after Allah, we have no one but each other…

So this is basically how the day goes: We pray Maghreb at the mosque and read Quran till Isha prayer then go back to hotel for dinner. We usually return to the Holy mosque again for some peaceful remembrance of Allah (dhikr) and come home exhausted, shower and sleep for two to three hours. We open our eyes with the sound of a VERY insistent alarm clock, all sleepy and groggy we debate and negotiate for a good twenty minutes on who should get up first to make wudu and give the other two a chance to sleep five minutes longer. We then head off to pray Fajr and stay in harram till sunrise to pray duha and go back to hotel for breakfast. This is when we sleep for another three to four hours and then go to the Holy mosque to pray Dhur then Asr prayer.

People are more connected with their inner beings here. They really and truly want to do everything right. The women at the mosque are very friendly and kind hearted.  While most of my loved ones have figured out how much of a cry baby I am by now, strangers still haven’t. So random women come up to me while I’m making duaa, offer me a tissue and ask if I was okay. I think I cried on half of the female Hajji population’s shoulders this year! There’s a unity of Islam during these days… The kind of unity that can make us the most powerful and respected ummah in the universe….

Anyways, now that my crying secret is our. Let me prepare you for the scary part of the journey, the stoning of satan, where millions of pebbles (and sometimes flip flops!) fly right over your head. Even though it still happens on the 10th of Dhul Hajjah, I thought we should talk about it now, you know, just in case some one misses the pillars and stones me! If that happens, know that I’ll miss you all and that my will is in the second drawer of my nightstand. Please tell my kids that I love them and that it was me who ate all the chocolates that day when I pretended they had gone missing!

Okay back to the “stoning of the devil” ritual. Pilgrims throw seven pebbles on three different pillars representing Satan for three consecutive days. Most of us know the story behind it, right? When Allah ordered Prophet Abraham to sacrifice his son Prophet Ismail, and on their way to carry out the unbearable task, satan appeared three times in the same locations of today’s three pillars. Prophet Abraham stoned satan when he tried to convince him not to kill his own son! Until the third time, satan is knocked down like a silly idiot!

But did we ever think of the wisdom behind the story? I mean, we say it so casually!

Can I ask you something? Do you have a son or a daughter? One you’ve waited years for, and watched grow into an amazing, obedient loving boy or girl ? Do you have a beloved nephew or niece who bring so much joy to your heart? A dear child whose laughter is the only sound that keeps you going?

Would you be able to sharpen a knife and put it to your child’s throat? Would you be able to look in his or her eyes, knowing it would be the last time…

The last time to kiss them and hold them and breathe in their scent…?

And even more so, would you stone and curse the person who tries to stop you saying “Wait! How can you not have mercy on your own child? You must be hallucinating! God would never order you to end the life of an innocent pure boy!”

If God ordains it… Would you really kill your own flesh and blood, your mom or dad or offspring and then live with the grave memory forever?

I’ll give you a minute to think about it…. But I want you to be honest with yourself…

Coz this is what “Ram’y Al Jammarat” is all about… Sacrifice…

It’s about understanding the reason behind your existence … Submitting to the will of God no matter what it is… The mission is total submission… “Islam”

God won’t ask you to slaughter your own child to test your faith. But he might take something away from you. A loved one… Money… Health… A safe home…

We all have something missing or will face a great loss one way or another… And then the devil will come to counteract…

You might be poor, and satan will come in the form of unlawful wealth…

You might be single, and satan will come in the form of passion and love out of wedlock…

You might be lonely or insecure, and satan will come in the form of devious friends who live to drink and smoke up

You might be needing something and satan will intercede to offer it beautifully wrapped up. Unless you close the door in his face and swallow the key, temptation WILL overcome submission…

Prophet Abraham was willing to give up what he loves the most for the sake of Allah… He was willing to sacrifice his Ismail…

If you had to… And if the One who holds your life in His hands wills it, would you give up your desires, dreams, wealth, pleasures or loved ones…?

Would you sacrifice your Ismail…?

 

Your Hajj Representative

Lilly S. Mohsen 

 

Walk The Walk With Me

Throwback, Hajj 2015
Published exclusively on On Islam

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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

Hajj Diaries: Lilly In Mecca

Throwback, Hajj journey 2015
Published exclusively on On Islam

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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

 

Inside The Therapist’s Office: Final Episode

Office

 

“Is everything okay?” I heard Maggie ask her dad on the phone. He’d been calling non-stop during our session. It was obviously an urgent matter.

“WHAT!” Maggie screamed.

She was snow-white pale when she dropped her cell phone to the ground and froze in place….

 

Three months later….

 

“Oh don’t remind me!” I covered my face. “I was this close to calling an ambulance that day! I thought something horrible had happened” I said.

“I know I’m sorry!” Maggie giggled. “I’m a drama queen! I can’t help it!”

“You don’t say!” Her father feigned a shocked look while wrapping his arm around her lovingly.

Maggie’s whole family was here to bid me farewell before their big journey. It was more of a social visit than a session, and I must admit I was beyond touched to see all of them again; Maggie, her son Adam, her father Mr. Ramzy, his wife Hannah and her mom Lila.

 

“I was shocked too! I never thought my dream of going to Hajj would come true so soon!” Hannah marveled. “We’re all so very blessed!”

 

They really were….

Hannah found out her mom stayed away fearing her expensive meds would be a financial burden on her daughter after all she’d been through. But Allah sent Maggie to Lila to take care of her…

 Lila kept an eye on her daughter from far, and was the reason for Maggie and Hannah to meet. That’s how Allah listened to Maggie’s prayers and gifted her with a new sister.

 And Maggie’s son Adam was Allah’s gift to Hannah after the miscarriage. Her genuine love for him melted Mr. Ramzy’s heart, and that’s when Hannah accepted his second proposal.

 

Mr. Ramzy later found out about Lila’s kindness to his daughter Maggie, despite what he did! He personally went to apologize and brought Lila back to live with the whole family in his mansion.

 And surprisingly, Adam did not quit therapy. He kept coming back to learn more about Islam, and gave his Grandpa the idea of starting a charity foundation to help orphans. He’s the one who encouraged Hannah to seek therapy, too, and that’s how the truth finally came out bringing with it the hope of a ‘happy ever after’. Mr. Ramzy is taking his whole family to Hajj, hoping to open a new page in the Holy land of Mecca…

 

“I’m totally stoked! Mom can’t remind me of how messed up I was or of the hard times I gave her these past few years EVER AGAIN! A clean slate is a clean slate! Everything else is erased” Adam said.

 

“But isn’t it kinda unfair only rich people get a sinless, spotless, fresh start, just because they can afford to go to Hajj?” Hannah asked.

“I’m not rich and I’m still going inshAllah!” Lila, the old nanny said happily. “When the Lord of the worlds invites you to His house, He will make sureyou get there!”

“Pilgrimage doesn’t delete your past unconditionally!” I said. “ People going to Hajj must settle their loans, their disputes and make peace with people before leaving, otherwise they still carry thus burden till Judgment Day.

 

“Exactly! Because you don’t hurt Allah when you wrong yourself. That’s why He erases those sins easily. But when you hurt His creations, it’s between you and them. You better rectify it before it’s too late!” Mr. Ramzy explained.

“You see, this is what the fifth pillar of Islam is all about; it’s a rehearsal for the real thing!” I continued.

“What do you mean?” Hannah asked.

“Going to Hajj is like a run through or a practice for the afterlife” Adam said. “You say goodbye, leave your family and money behind, and wear the exact outfit you’ll be buried in. You’re then transported to a different place the same way people will carry you to the grave. And when you’re doing tawaf around the Ka’bah, you’ll look around and realize you’re just like everyone else. Gone is the fame, the wealth, the style and top-notch education! You’re standing in a public place amidst millions of other Muslims, and yet it’s you’re overwhelmed with how personal this whole experience feels, just like on the Day of Judgment when you’ll be questioned alone about your previous life!”

“Okay stop! You’re scaring me!” Maggie panicked.

“No sweet heart!” Lila held her hand. “We all need to hear this! How can we prepare for the inevitable if we’re too afraid to talk about it?”

“Have you ever been in love Maggie?” I asked.

“Yes” She blushed.

“When you love someone, you want to run to them! You want to please them and stay by their side forever. Fear is not in the equation, even when you make a mistake!

 

“You know your beloved will forgive and embrace you with all your imperfections!” Hannah continued with tears in her eyes. “Those who truly love Allah, crave this meeting, because they know Him! They trust in His Mercy, Kindness and Compassion!. They spend their whole lives fixing themselves in preparation for this meeting… He is all what they think about! Death is not scary when you’re craving to meet the Beloved…” Hannah said.

Now it was my turn to well up! I couldn’t believe how far along Hannah had come! We were all mesmerized and so proud of her!

“What if you’re not ready?” Mr. Ramzy asked.

“I believe the ones He personally invites to visit His house will come back transformed after this overwhelming rehearsal for the Hereafter. This whole experience will definitely compel us to start getting ready!” Lila replied.

“Hajj is a spiritual journey more than anything! It’s a shift in perspective that will change your life forever!” Hannah smiled.

There’s captivating beauty in strong foundations. The first pillar of fully trusting Allah leads to the second; the desperate need to connect with Him through praying. This bond waters the love inside of us for Him and His creations, leading to the third pillar; Zakat, in which helping others makes us happy. It also takes us out of our comfort zone into the outside world, and that’s when we need ‘taqwa’ or protection to prevent us from going astray, which is done through fasting, the forth pillar of Islam. Ace all of that and you’re ready for the final pillar, the gift of rebirth….

“And we will all be as pure as newborn babies! That’s so cute!” Maggie giggled and everyone laughed.

“So trust, connection, helping others, prevention and then you’re reborn and ready to meet your Lord!” Adam recapped.

“And it goes the other way too!” I challenged him.

“Yes! When you experience the purity of rebirth, you’re more determined to develop a shield with fasting to protect yourself from sins. This will pull you towards the goodness of giving charity, and once you see the joy on people’s faces, you’ll run back to thank and connect to their Creator through salah, and that bond will strengthen your faith and trust in Allah more and more!”

 

“Perfection!” I applauded the bright young man. “But why is ‘salah’, the second pillar of Islam, considered to be the backbone of religion and without it nothing counts?” I asked.

“Oh I know this one! Because many people can’t fast, or have enough money to give charity or go to Hajj but everyone can pray!” Maggie said excitedly.

“Because praying combines all five pillars in one!” Adam explained wisely. “You recite the shahada every salah. You take time away from work to pray; time you give up instead of using it to make money, which is zakat for yourself. And during salah you abstain from drinking, eating and other worldly desires. like fasting. And finally you face the Ka’bah, which is like a spiritual journey to Hajj. See? Five in one!”

“Oh Adam! This was amazing! Whoever raised you did a wonderful job!” Maggie hugged her son and everyone one laughed again.

“We better get going! We have taken up so much of your time!” Mr. Ramzy addressed me as he got up to leave.

“Well, it’s my pleasure sir. I hope you’ll remember my loved ones and I in your du’aa inshAllah!” I smiled.

“Any pearls of wisdom before we go, Lilly?” Hannah asked softly.

“Yes please! Give us one final advice on how to be happy and prevent heartache!” Maggie pleaded.

“If you’re on a flimsy raft in the middle of the sea, would you be scared when the waves get high?” I asked.

“Terrified!” They both replied.

“How about if you were aboard a grand ship?” I asked again.

“We’ll be a lot more calmer!” Mr. Ramzy added.

“Life is like an unpredictable sea!” I said. “Controlling or even avoiding the high waves is practically impossible! The sea will never settle, and the hardships will never cease. All you can do is build a stronger ship. The same waves that might flip the raft will hardly affect you!”

“The farther the destination, the stronger the ship must be” Lila added.

“And we’re aiming for Jannah! We need a ship with super powers to get through this life!” Maggie joked.

“Once you keep your eye on the purpose, distractions won’t interest you Maggie! Obstacles will be challenges and mistakes will become valuable lessons!” Hannah said.

“Like a poor man who discovers he’ll receive his inheritance of a billion dollars in a year!” Mr. Ramzy explained. “He will stop wailing and complaining about the same dire circumstances because there’s something to look forward to! That’s the beauty of Islam…. There’s an ultimate goal and all the hardships in this life actually bring us closer to it!”

“But how do we build a stronger ship to survive a storm?” Adam asked.

“With strong foundations” I smiled. “The five pillars of Islam….”

 

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inside The Therapist’s Office: Episode Six

Office

 

“What can I do for you today Maggie?” The young nurse asked after introducing herself and checking the filled-in medical chart.

“Oh I’m just here for a routine checkup with Dr. Miller” Maggie replied.

“Very well then! Let’s get started” The nurse nodded.

“Thank you Miss ummm… I’m sorry I didn’t get your name” Maggie said.

“It’s Hannah” The nurse smiled.

 

There was something about this nurse that was very intriguing. They started talking, went out for coffee and a couple of weeks later became totally inseparable. Hannah poured out her heart about her loneliness, her failed marriage and the ache of being barren, while Maggie confided in her about the addiction and how hard it was to be a single mother. Like two faces of the same coin, they somehow completed each other. Hannah was Maggie’s soul mate. She took care of Maggie and doted on her son; she was practically his second mom. She taught Maggie the values and morals no one cared to teach her, and encouraged her to instill them in her child. The three of them shared an indescribable bond until the day Hannah got married….

 

“I don’t know how to explain it, she just changed! She became distant and paranoid.” Maggie gazed outside my office window. “It’s like she’s there but she’s not really there! Why does this always happen with everyone I love? My mom died, my husband left, my son’s aloof and my best friend changed! Every time I get attached to someone or something, I lose it! Why can’t we have just one relationship that’s comfortable and happy? Why do we always have to get hurt? Why does Allah let us find love and care after so long and then take them away and watch us suffer?” Maggie covered her face and wept on my desk for what seemed like eternity. She was ashamed of how she was questioning Allah’s will with so much bitterness, but honestly, I was relieved she did. It was time to address her doubts before they start eating her up alive.

“How’s your son doing at school?” I asked, changing the subject, completely prepared for Maggie to lift her head up and give me a ‘confused, frustrated, you’re-the-worst-therapist-ever’ look.

“His PATs are coming up and he thinks this is the perfect time to bond with his Play Station!” Maggie scoffed while wiping her tears.

“So what did you do?” I asked.

“I took it away of course! And I told him he’s not allowed to play games online or chat for hours with his friends till summer time. He can say I’m strict and mean till he’s blue in the face! It wouldn’t change a thing! I’m doing it for his own good!”

“But why can’t he have both; fun and success? Why must you be so harsh on him?” I asked.

“I’m not being harsh! Discipline is the essence of love, Lilly! If my dad had disciplined me instead of letting me do what I want maybe I wouldn’t have had the time or the chance to take drugs! It’s so easy to slip! And now that I’m sober, I’m going to protect my son, because I love him, more than words can ever say!”

“You’re not gaining anything, you just want him to succeed for him Even if right now, he can’t understand why you’re pushing so hard, one day he will, and he’ll thank you for it!” I said with an unexplainable grin.

“See? Exactly!” Maggie raised her hands. “At least someone gets it!”

“To Him belongs the greatest example, but that’s what Allah does, too! He takes away the metaphorical Play Station so we can focus on our ultimate goal! The people we love, they sometimes change, because Allah knows the real joy is in loving Him more! The friends we depend on, they eventually leave, because Allah wants us to ask Him and depend on Him alone. This life is not real Maggie; it’s only a means to a beautiful destination! Allah takes things away to redirect us to the path leading to Paradise. Yes it hurts, and we might whine about it till we are blue in the face, but without suffering we will never learn from our mistakes! Allah does not gaining anything either way! He does it for our own good, because He loves us more than words can say….”

 

Maggie smiled sadly and said, “Your words touch my heart. But I’m afraid when I go back to my life, my mind will take control again. If everything that gives us pleasure is taken away, how can we find joy in this life? Are Muslims not allowed to be happy?”

“A lot of people ask this very same question!“ I confessed. “ I think we need to define what happiness is first before we start looking for it. Take Ramadan for instance, many people wonder why it is associated with peace and gladness when it’s all about self-restraint! Prophet Muhammad said, Allah says

‘There are two (occasions) of joy for the observer of fast. He feels joy when he breaks the fast and he is happy when he meets Allah.” (http://sunnah.com/muslim/13/214)

 

It’s confusing when you look at it from the outside. Of course we’re super excited to eat and drink after waiting for hours on pins and needles for Maghreb prayer! But it’s only for a couple of seconds before we slip into a food coma, so where is the joy Allah is talking about?” I asked.

 

Maggie shrugged then held her breath for the answer.

“Unlike praying and giving charity, fasting is the only act that can never involve showing off (Reya’). It’s purely and sincerely for the sake of Allah alone, which is what we were created to do! So when you finally break your fast, you’re overwhelmed with the joy of finally fulfilling your real purpose in this world, purely for Allah and no one else. With that first sip of water we get an unparalleled feeling of gratitude and appreciation for His blessings! We’re in sync with our ‘fitrah’, our true nature, and that’s why we feel alive.”

 

Perhaps Allah is redefining the meaning of real happiness and joy for us because, let’s face it, we got it all wrong! The people you see dancing and smoking up at parties, who center their lives around being ‘hip’ and ‘fun’, are actually very sad deep inside. No matter what they do, they always feel lost and ‘dead’ inside. Trust me, I’m a therapist, and if these walls could talk, they’d tell you the same thing! Happiness is elusive; everyone is chasing it but no one is able to pin it down. Muslims on the other hand hold the secret to everlasting joy, in both this life and the Hereafter.

We get a crash course every Ramadan on how to be genuinely happy. We’re able to master our own minds instead of being slaves to our desires. Fasting helps us set our priorities straight, because even the simplest craving can become an addiction. When your eyes are glued to the TV then you hear the call for prayer, you’ll get up! You’ll remember how you give up basic needs in Ramadan and put Allah first, and it will strengthen your will power. When you see the drugs, or hear of the rave parties or any other ‘allegedly’ fun things in life, you’ll remember the day you were parched from thirst yet wouldn’t touch that bottle of water because you’re fasting.

 

Do you know what real happiness is? Look up any self-help book or motivational speeches by top entrepreneurs and inspirational speakers; they all agree that happiness is in achievements and real joy is in helping others be happy! Because the ‘purpose of life is a life with purpose’, and that is the essence of the forth pillar of Islam.

 

Ramadan unites us Maggie. We gather for ‘Iftar’ and walk together to the mosque and sit side by side to recite Qur’an. This is the month when we are reminded we’re not alone, the month of smiles and charity and kindness. Muslims all around the world see themselves as brothers and sisters, even if they’re far away from their families. They find happiness in helping each other. This is the love for the sake of Allah… the most joyous, most precious love of all… and trust me, once you find it, it will never be taken away…”

 

“I feel so peaceful and content…” Maggie smiled.

Two minutes later, her phone was vibrating non-stop and she politely asked me if she could take the call.

“My dad won’t stop calling. It must be urgent!” She panicked.

 

“Dad is everything okay?” I heard Maggie ask. She then stood up, and screamed “WHAT!”

She was snow-white pale when she dropped her cell phone to the ground and froze in place….

You see, it always comes as a shock even when you’ve been expecting it…

You never know when your life will completely change to a point when you hardly recognize yourself. It could happen in a heartbeat! And for Maggie…

This was it…

 

To be continued…

 

Lilly S. Mohsen