Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Spiritual | Quality vs Quantity?

It's really annoying when people question you about how much ibadah you have done and when its not to their expectations, they think you're not making the most of Ramadan give you a lecture about what you should be doing and how....so what am I talking about?

This Ramadan I decided not to start a Quran khatm (when you finish the whole Quran in Ramadan beginning to end) and I have my reasons. Last year when I did this I tried to read it in Arabic, with the translation in English & explanations of each Surah, towards the end I ended up just reading the Arabic because I was running out of time and still I didn't finish it by like 10 chapters because of days missed for family iftars among other things.

It's great if you can recite the whole Quran in 30 days mashaAllah, but for me personally it just doesn't work, I don't like rushing through it just to finish it, I don't like sitting there hours on end reading (sometimes whilst half asleep and not taking anything in) and just counting how many pages I've read (how many pages till the next juz) and I don't like not contemplating what I've read either. I prefer to take my time, read, try to understand and to reflect.

So I'm sorry that I don't meet your standards, but I feel my worship is personal to me, it is between me and Allah. Yes, there is so much reward in reciting the Quran during Ramadan, the month the Quran was revealed to our beloved Prophet pbuh; but how you read it whether its 2 juz (chapters) a day or whatever you manage to read within 2 hours a day it's completely up to you so long as you are benefiting from it.

I know it's good to compete in the deen with each other because it encourages us and others to do better, do more for the sake of Allah, but when people start boasting about how much they've read and keep asking other people 'how many chapters have you read?' or 'how many times did you complete the Quran this Ramadan?' I feel it becomes more about filling yourself with pride rather than trying to encourage the other person to do better. I always believed in quality not quantity so I'm going to continue reading the Quran the way I am and you do what is best for you inshaAllah.

'Oh Son of Adam, how is your heart ever going to be softened by the recitation of the Quran, when all you read for is to reach the end of the Surah?'- Imam al-Hassan al-Basri

May Allah make the Quran our companion in the grave and an intercessor for us on the day of judgement. Ameen.

Night all!

Friday, 27 July 2012

Confessions | Masjid mania

After Taraweeh one night, Allah knows why I was in a rush to get out, I accidently bumped more like crashed into a brother who was also leaving the masjid and then stopped abruptly (I know, you can see it in slow motion, can't you?) 

Apologies exchanged I walked off to the car, it was dark so no one would recognise me but it was embarassing as hell and my anxiety went through the roof! Now I have a little phobia of getting out the masjid after salah, I've even resorted to not wearing that scarf to the masjid again incase (incase he recognises me and remembers the crazy girl in the zebra/cheetah print scarf who crashed into him) =S Yes, I over analyse things in my head....Am I just being stupid?

#Why do brothers decide to stand in front of the masjid? #What ever happened to ladies first? #Masjid owner please invest in another door, once I get a job I'll pay for it iA

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Spiritual | Small deeds

Yesterday during taraweeh (well before we started), Sh Hassan Ali decided to give a small motivational speech as he does every night to encourage people to donate to the mosque and what it will mean for our hereafter, something he said which I cannot write word for word or remember the source of the hadith he gave but it really struck me and stayed with me.
There were 2 queues of people in the hereafter, one leading to Jannah and the other to the screaming, and burning of Jahannam. A man in the line leading to Jahannam recognised another man who was in the line to Jannah and asked him 'oh my dear brother do you know who I am?' the man replied 'no I don't recognise you' the man going to Jahannam then said 'I am so and so who gave you water to drink (once) or gave you the facilities to make wudhu (once) (both options in the narrations of the hadith), and look at me today I am going to the burning fire of Jahannam' the man going to Jannah said 'yes I remember you now' so the man going to Jannah ran back and asked Allah 'Oh Allah this man gave me water to drink once or gave me the facilities to make wudu once and he is going to Jahannam please have mercy on him' then Allah will say 'Go get him, take his hand and both of you go to Jannah'

We always think only big things will gain Jannah but often forget the small deeds which may be our ticket. Like the man in the hadith we may have missed out on going to heaven because of our evil deeds but that one small deed of helping another Muslim in his time of need is the thing that saved him from the fire.

How do we know that those who do great things, who fast every day and pray all night will go to Paradise? How do we know that someone we think is not a good Muslim say from outer appearances or bad things they have done will go to Hell? Answer is we don't, only Allah knows what is inside a persons heart, what he/she has done to please Him, what their intentions are, Allah is also the most merciful and can forgive you or me of the countless sins we have committed because of one small good deed, which He loved so much that He let us enter Jannah because of it.

That's not to say that we should think Allah will forgive our sins and then carry on doing them because we think our small deeds earn His forgiveness because it doesn't.What I am trying to say is repent for your sins and do all your acts of worship but don't forget that being kind to your fellow human being or another creation of Allah. Helping another Muslim in need, whether that's a charitable monetary donation or a smile is also an act of worship if you do it for the sake of Allah. Remember the hadith about the prostitute who gave water to a thirsty dog? Allah's mercy is so vast and so generous, that all we need to do is seek it.

So let us in this month of Ramadan, the month of mercy, ask for His forgiveness and as well as praying, reciting Quran & our ibadah also increase those small deeds and acts of kindness we often overlook.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Spiritual | Multiplied by 70

Assalaamu alaikum dear readers and Ramadan Kareem!

Taraweeh day 3 at the masjid
Ahh so Ramadan is well and truly here...that time of year, shaytaan and his cronies locked away and everyone trying to be on their best behaviour, a time for us to reflect on our year since last Ramadan, rid our bad habits and make some positive changes. Ramadan a time to cleanse ourselves mentally, physically & spritually, during Ramadan is when you remember how much you love LOVE being a Muslim.

It's the 4th day of Ramadan for those of us who started fasting on the Friday and alhamdulillah so far so good. We're fasting 18 hours here in the UK which is long but surprisingly (or not) it actually doesn't feel so bad (= thats Allah's mercy right there.

The good thing about this year is that Ramadan is during the summer holidays (well I'm on 'school holidays' forever now that I've finished uni) but it means that we can make the most out of our day because we don't need to go to school or college or uni. Alhamdulillah I've just been offered a job but still going through the registration process which means I wont have to start until after Eid inshaAllah (Life saver!) I honestly don't know how people who work do it, or mothers with young children, gonna count my blessings because I feel I have it easy compared to most this year alhamdulillah.

I've been going to taraweeh salah at the masjid  with my sisters, brother & my dad, since the first day alhamdulillah, inshaAllah I hope to go every single day and listen to the Quran being recited in its entirety. To most people this might be a bit like 'so whats so special we go for taraweeh every year' but for me it's different, thing is in the Bengali culture women don't attend the masjid as much as they could or should, I know it's not all Bengali's and things have changed quite a lot in the past few years to change the 'stuck in the mud' ideas held by some elders that women shouldn't go to the mosque. Of course it's better for a woman to pray at home, but if you have the opportunity to go to the mosque then why not?

It's a little rushed as in we break our fast, eat, pray Maghrib then rush and get ready to go to the mosque because Isha starts at 10.15 in our masjid...but that feeling of being inside the mosque, the atmosphere of the worshippers around you, the buzz of Ramadan (yeah, you know what I'm talking about) and satisfaction after praying behind the imam is second to none.

So Ramadan comes with all its virtues, Allah's mercy, forgiveness & blessings. Our deeds are multiplied by 70.
The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “Whoever draws near to Allah during it (Ramadan) with a single characteristic from the characteristics of (voluntary) goodness, he is like whoever performs an obligatory act in other times. And whoever performs an obligatory act during it, he is like whoever performed seventy obligatory acts in other times.” (Sahih Ibn Khuzaymah, no. 1887)
 So every intention we make whether we carry it through or not is multiplied by 70, every good deed we do is again multiplied by 70...that is how much Allah really loves us, look at how many opportunities he gives us to repent, change and become better Muslims, better human beings. We really have no excuses for our evil deeds during this month, since the shaytaan is chained up, hell is closed and heaven is open any bad deeds are reflections of our true colours and we only have ourselves to blame. If you can't gain Allah's forgiveness in this month then you are doomed.
The three Ameens

One day, when the Prophet was giving the Friday Khutbah, he was climbing up the pulpit, which had three steps. When he climbed the first step, he said Ameen. Then he climbed up the second and said Ameen. Then he climbed up the third and said Ameen.

So the companions were confused and said, Oh Messenger of Allah, we have never heard you say Ameen every time you climb a step. What is the reason for this?

The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa sallam) said, When I was climbing the pulpit, Jibreel came to me and told me, Oh Muhammad, anyone in your nation who manages to be alive when Ramadan comes and does not manage to get his sins forgiven, let him perish in the HellFire Say Ameen! So Muhammad said Ameen. Then when he climbed the second step, Jibreel said, Anyone who manages to catch Laylatul Qadr and does not managed to get his sins forgiven, may he perish in the HellFire Say Ameen! So the Prophet said Ameen and when the Prophet climbed the third step, Jibreel said to him, Oh Muhammad, anyone of your Ummah who manages to catch one of them or both, when they are elderly and they need his help and is not able to service them properly and get his sins forgiven, may he perish say Ameen! So the Prophet said Ameen.

So three duas are made three golden opportunities that even the worst of men can get all of their sins erased by turning to Allah. Two of those opportunities are related to Ramadan the entire month and Laylatul Qadr. Therefore, if you cannot be righteous in this month, then there is no hope for you because there are no excuses. 
May Allah swt forgive all of our sins and guide us to the right path, may He have mercy on us and make us among those who only seek His pleasure, may our He end the suffering of our brothers & sisters across the world, unite this Ummah and let us be victorious again, may we BE the 1.5 billion strong Ummah of our beloved Prophet pbuh and not just talk about it. Ya Allah we turn to You and You alone for forgiveness, keep us steadfast on the deen.
Three ways to forgive all bad deeds:

So what do you have to do? The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa sallam) mentioned three things and anyone of them will unconditionally forgive all of ones bad deeds: 1. Whoever fasts the entire month of Ramadan, believing in Allah and hoping for Allahs reward.
2. Standing up at night in Ramadan (ex. Taraweeh)
3. The night of Laylatul Qadr.
So yes it is that time of year again, spiritual nourishment, food & drink redundant for a month. The best things in life really are free. Pray a lot, read some more, eat little, sleep even less, hold your tongue and be proud to be a Muslim.

Waassalaamu alaikum WR WB!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Review | AZiN (Tasbih & pins)

Assalaamu alaikum WR WB!

Todays post is a review for AZiN a new company selling handmade hijab pins and tasbih's (prayer beads).

Azin comes from the Arabic word for 'Jewellery', they are a new facebook business selling exclusive hijab pins and 33 count prayer beads. Why 33? some may ask...
Abu Huraira RA reported that Fatima RA came to Allah's Apostle Sallallaho Alaihey wasallam and asked for a servant and told him of the hardship of household work. He (SAW) said: "You would not be able to get a servant from us. May I not direct you to what is better than the servant for you? Recite Subhaana Allah thirty-three times, al- Hamdu li-Allah thirty-three times and Allah-o-Akbar thirty-four times as you go to bed."
Sahih Muslim Book 035, Number 6580
Hence 33 beads on the tasbih for anyone who didn't know. I was fortunate enough to receive products from their first collection and my first impressions?....'MASHAALLAH!' The opening collection of tasbih's is limited in number (one of each) and I was sent the only design they made 2 of.

So I'll get over the technical stuff like delivery, P&P, customer service before I introduce the amazing pins and tasbih!

The sister behind Azin e-mailed me to let me know when the products will be posted, alhamdulillah the delivery was very fast. The packaging was super cute in white paper and wrapped with a pink bow (my obsession with finishing touches).

The tasbih came in a cute pink organza pouch and the pins came on a business card with pink ribbon. I love the way they did the packaging (see pic above), most companies send their pins in organza pouches and this is the first time I have seen someone utilise their business card in this clever way. I think I will keep the pins like this for a while instead of putting them in my pin cushion because they are clearly displayed and I can just pick one out when I want to match it with my clothing.

There is free first class p&p on orders over £5 and a £1.20 charge for those under £5....so yeah great value for money seeing as how quickly they will arrive. (international customers please get in touch with AZiN for more info on your p&p)

The company is a pleasure to deal with so don't hesitate to get in touch with them should you have any problems or queries.

Ok now on to the awesome stuff she sent (=

Pretty Turquoise
Length: 4cm
Description: Lightweight Pin with Cloisonne enamalled bead decorated with gold braiding with Blue Crystal Glass bead.
Price: £2.99 each

Flower Power
Length: 3.8cm
Description: Lightweight Pink Diamante Pins with Brown or Silver Bead.
Mix and Match.
Price: £0.60 each OR 2 for £1.00

In A Heart Beat!
Length: Approx 3.5cm
Description: Lightweight Millefiori Heart Pins. Millefiori meaning "thousand flowers", is a distinctive glass working technique that makes these beautiful colourful glass beads.
The hearts will vary in colour and design.
Price: £1.50 each

Elegance With A Twist
Length: Approx 3cm
Description: Lightweight Pin with Swarovski Crystal Element.
Price: £1.50 each

Pretty in Green Wand
Length: 5cm
Description: Lightweight Clear Diamante Pin with Green Crystal Bead.
Price: £3.50 each

Purple Dream
Length: 4cm
Description: Lightweight Pin with Matte Amethyst Bead.
Price: £2.50 each

Deep Blue Sea
Length: 4cm
Description: Lightweight Pin with Blue Sapphire Fire Polished Bead.
Price: £2.50 each

Seeing Colours
Length: 4cm
Description: Lightweight Pins with Turquoise Crackle Glass Bead
Length: 4cm
Price: £0.60 each OR 2 for £1.00
All of the pins are made with absolute top class quality, they are sharp so they wont ruin your scarves as you try to get them in, the descriptions of each one are accurate to the 'T' and the attention to detail on every bead is impeccable. Each and every pin is classy and elegant, these pins are perfect for anyone who wants to keep things simple and elegant. One thing I would recommend to the company is maybe make the pin a little longer (this might just be a personal preference) but I felt my scarf would feel more secure if the pin part (without the beads) was a bit longer.

Code: CGB
33 Crystal Glass Beads
Dark Turquoise Cracked Glass Spacers
Length: Approx 9cm
Price: £7.95

I love this beautiful, delicate tasbih. I don't usually use a tasbih or carry one with me because I tend to use my fingers but this tasbih is just stunning and I think I will keep it with me as a reminder to remember Allah in my everyday activities. It's lightweight and I can't get over how delicate it looks (by delicate I don't mean it will break or fall apart). Again the attention to detail on all their tasbih's is amazing and the tasbih is probably one of my favourite things they sent me. Just in time for extra supplications and remembrance of Allah during Ramadan.

Right now Azin are holding a little competition/giveaway for Ramadan, to be in with a chance of winning one of their tasbih's all you have to do is 'like' their facebook page and 'like' your favourite tasbih...so what are you waiting for? Closing date is 30th of July!

Please check out their facebook page for more stunning pins & tasbihs (and better pictures of these), you can pay via paypal and instructions on how to order are under each picture in their photo album.


Tuesday, 17 July 2012

International gift swap | Austria to London!

A couple of months ago a lovely sister called Samira from Austria messaged me on my facebook page asking if I wanted to do an international gift swap with her where I send her gifts from London and she sends me gifts from Austria, so how could I say no, I happily accepted. We set a budget, got to know each other a bit better and yesterday Samira's package arrived =D

I was so excited, all the things came wrapped up and every time I took something out of the box something else caught my eye. I couldn't be happier with all the things she got for me so thank you sis!!

She sent me a whole bag full sweets and chocolates! My little brothers opened some of the sweets and Is'haq finished one packet of the pez bonbons lol but the rest I'm saving as my secret stash of yummyness during Ramadhan to treat myself (and my siblings) after iftar (=

Is'haq saying thank you for the sweeties

Samira tried to get me things you can only find in Austria but she said it was difficult to do so she sent some things that are international brands, like the awesome summery earrings from Mango. I love the giraffe necklace, its a really long pendant which is perfect for me because you'll still be able to see the pendant when I wear my scarf....how cute?!

I was also sent a make-up bag and some really nice cosmetics from the brand LOOK, there is a really soft and fluffy kabuki brush which I can't wait to use, an eyeshadow palette, a pink eyeshadow, a duo purple eyeliner, a lip gloss and a bourjois mini ultra black mascara. I love all of the make-up she sent, very girly and very me (=

Along with all of that Samira sent me an over sized pink top with a gold zip detail and a bright butterfly scarf. I wore the pink top over an abaya which didn't look too bad, it also looks nice with black trousers or long skirt, I even wore it with white leggings (only at home obviously) which gives the whole outfit a more retro look.

The last thing she sent was a magazine (which I don't have a picture of), it's written in German (the official language in Austria) so I probably wont understand anything but I'll have fun looking through the pictures (=

Once again JazakAllah khair to Samira for the lovely gifts...I will be finishing her package and sending it soon inshaAllah (yes, I'm a bit of a slow coach)

Monday, 16 July 2012

Fundraiser for Solace for revert sisters in difficulty

Assalaamu alaikum all,

This post has been long over due because I've been trying to sort a few things out and have been really busy (more about my busy ness in my next posts iA)

So on the 30th June as you might know I organised a charity fundraiser for Solace - for revert sisters in difficulty. The aim of the event was to unite sisters to raise awareness for solace online and in the local area, raise funds for Solace as well as bring some online companies under one roof to promote Muslim women in business.

Alhamdulillah through everyones donations and ticket sales on the day (after settling refunds) we raised £421.75 After the event we had more donations from people who couldn't come of £120 alhamdulillah that makes it £541.75.

We also raised tonnes of awareness for Solace for revert sisters in difficulty online through facebook and in North London where the event took place. The day wasn't a complete success as we hoped and you can read about that below and now looking back on it, it wasn't a complete disaster as we accomplished what we aimed to do alhamdulillah.

We had a stall with items donated from:

-Hijab Obsessions
-Imaan & Beauty
-Hijab Fashion Shop
-Hijab Treasures
-My scarf  Boutique

[Not everything was sold from the donated items and we didn't have enough time at the end for the auction of the abaya and other items so inshaAllah I will be selling them at another event and giving the money raised to Solace]

The best part of the day was at the end alhamdulillah, We had an awesome poem from Sister Halimat Shode which I'll post in another blog post, a nasheed by two little sisters Zara & Mariam, a spontaneous nasheed by a lovely revert sister and a speech by the solace spokespersons sisters Abi & Andrea which left us all close to tears and made everyone realised what we were there for. The speech actually left a long lasting effect on sisters who were there and they are now looking at ways to help revert sisters in their area, from Iftar get togethers inviting reverts in their area to volunteering for solace and handing out leaflets in their local masjid's.

Here are some pictures from the day [Don't have pictures of all the stalls]

What went wrong:

I didn't want to dwell on the things that went wrong and wanted to concentrate more on the positives of the day but I promised to clear a few things up, so as you might have also heard due to unfortunate circumstances the number of people predicted to attend the masquerade did not turn up, this wasn't good for us, the charity nor the companies who had booked stalls at the event. The reason for this was that majority of the people who said they will be coming reserved tickets and said they will purchase them at the door, hardly any of these people came on the day.

The low numbers resulted in many of the stalls asking for refunds for hiring the stall, some didn't even believe where their money was going so as I promised I will be breaking down how their sponsorship money was spent:

The total income from stalls hired by online companies was £833.65 (please note some people paid a full £50 into my account, others paid through eventbrite & paypal who both took a small fee, one sister only paid a £15 deposit and didn't pay the rest, I'm assuming because she forgot, some stalls got a discount by using the discount code 'discount 24' which was posted on my facebook page and one stall was free because they entered a giveaway)

The total expenses were $766.40, £600 of that was on hiring the venue and the rest on food, drinks, cutlery, promotional posters etc. So we had £67.25 left from the stall hire money after all the expenses, which have been used to give the 20% refund to the stalls who wanted it, one sister who thought the event wasn't how she expected and therefore wanted the money she donated to Solace through purchasing tickets back, khair alhamdulillah it's her money.

 I know some of the stalls thought they were only paying for the venue but on the eventbrite page it was clearly written that the sponsors were paying for the event (which includes food, drinks, posters etc). The stall hirers wanted money back because they did not have good business on the day and felt that they didn't make a profit due to low numbers of people at the event, the stall hire ticket said it included entry for the stall hirer and 2 people to help them, tables & chairs on the day and their name/logo on promotional material leading up to the event, all stalls were also welcome to stay for the dinner. It did not say that there was a guarantee of a large turnout but I did say when asked that we were expecting 100-150 people inshaAllah, when asked how many had bought tickets I said that not many had bought tickets and most people said they will buy tickets at the door. But what happened happened and I apologise if I wasn't clear enough to people hiring stalls where their money was going, (although event 'sponsor' should have been an indicator of what their role was).

After giving a 20% refund 4 companies who wanted it, 2 of those companies have said they will be taking the refund and adding to it or doubling it and giving that to Solace, I don't know the point they are trying to prove by doing this but Alhamdulillah they are giving more money to the charity and I couldn't have asked for more. The others have kindly said they would like to donate their refund to Solace and that they no longer want it, again alhamdulillah.

I understand that there was some poor planning & organisation on my behalf and I accept my fault there, this was my first event and I have learnt that next time I need to do things differently.
I did not appreciate how some stall holders spoke 'AT' me and the way they spoke to people in my family especially my mum. Only Allah knows how much time and effort was put into getting this event together by everyone in my family, with the only downfall being the turnout, a major downfall none the less. Everyone will be answering for everything that happened on that day and their own actions, even the sister who only paid the deposit for the stall and then ended up demanding a refund of £50 because she thinks I forgot she only paid the discount and swearing when asked what we can do to make things right. Not one person decided to speak to me alone and although some people may think me publicly telling everyone some stalls wanted a refund is like exposing them, I would say that shouting at & insulting me and my family in front of everyone even the new revert sisters that attended was public humiliation and by Allah you will answer for that on the day of judgement.

I apologise to the sisters who attended the event and ended up having to deal with the tension created by the days events.


The feedback from people who heard what went wrong on the day has been very supportive and helpful, inshaAllah I will try to do more fundraisers with better planning, this hurdle was a lesson for me and Allah showing me that with the right intentions, nothing is a disaster just a set back.

Thank you to everyone who sponsored the event, without whom the event would not have taken place, may we all grow from this experience and become better Muslimah's. Thank you to each and every sister who attended the event, alhamdulillah some of the revert sisters made new friends. I know it wasn't great but if just one person benefited from this fundraiser then alhamdulillah I'm very happy.

The sponsors:

-Abaya Central
-Jasmine pearls brooch boutique
-Hijabi Central/ Beauty B cosmetics
-Hidden Beauty's Hijabs
-MH Couture
-Muslimah Bakes
-Henna AClothing
-Arabian Doll (did not attend on the day)
-A list Cakes (did not attend on the day)
-Ummah Cards
-Chic Hijabs
-Hijab Candy
-Al Amirah Boutique
-Hijab House
-Be Beautiful Parlour
-Forever Living

Links to all sponsors can be found here https://www.facebook.com/events/198553643580584/

All of this was for Solace for revert sisters in difficulty...please check out their website and see what they do and how you can help them inshaAllah www.solaceuk.org

An AMAZING charity mashaAllah!