Inner And Ouer Me Cover 2

Today

You have opened

My heart

To grief.

Oh, Lord!

And I will

Just let it be.

 

I have seen

Many bomb blasts.

Torn apart bodies.

Grimacing faces.

 

I have seen

Fire and smoke

That rise up

Above the city.

 

Like a menacing monster.

 

I have grown

Numb.

I have absorbed

Too much death

And destruction.

 

A man carrying

An ash-coloured thing

That was once

A human baby.

 

A little girl

In red

Collecting her books

Buried in the rubble

That was once

Her home.

 

My eyes are

Bleeding.

There is no rescue.

There is no respite.

 

What have we done

To ourselves?

 

Today I am open

To grief.

And I shy away

From harrowing tales

Of an oppressed people.

 

We do not forget.

We look away

Lest our bubble bursts.

 

History repeats itself.

And this much I know –

Good times will prevail

Again.

 

I have grown numb.

Out of my numbness

Grows determination.

Like the promise

Of a big tree

Hidden inside

A tiny seed.

 

I shy away

From scrolling screens

That offer

Bits and pieces

Of carnage here.

And massacre there.

 

Lost dreams,

Shattered houses,

Messed up minds

Of children in shock.

 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Quite a mouthful,

No?

 

What can I offer

To this world?

These are

Troubled times.

 

I am losing

My grip

On everyday things.

 

Deadlines,

Promises,

Responsibilities.

I am nowhere to be found.

 

Just for some time.

Let me be lost

In the nowhere space

Inside my head.

 

Let me stare

Blankly

At nothing at all.

 

Perhaps

All I need is

Just a little break.

 

To collect myself

Again.

 

I can feel

The uneasy stillness

Before a storm

That is brewing.

 

Inside

Me.

“Our Lord, pour upon us patience and let us die as Muslims [in submission to You].”

The Qur’an, Surah Al-’A’raaf (Chapter of the heights) 7:126

Sanjida Shaheed publishes her poetry on her blog Eight Feet Tall where this poem was first published. Four of her poems have been published in the anthology The Muslimah Speaks: Her Voice, Her Spirit book 1. Sanjida is self-employed at Studio Hubb, which is her studio where she designs for deen, aiming to spread the message of Islam creatively. www.studiohubb.com. She is also the Founder and CEO of Muslimah Creatives, which is THE hub for creative Muslim women. www.muslimahcreatives.com.

Average Rating: 5 out of 5 based on 191 user reviews.

Inner And Ouer Me Cover 2

I have read about children who cannot sing

With their friends who died from orange fired

Rockets with yellow edges and have been

Buried under the earth and its green grass

Under the noses, eyes, ears and blue stars

Of people who talk like they’re indigo

And sing violets to their friends.

And I have noted the red blood.

When the earth is shaken with its [final] earthquake

And the earth discharges its burdens

And man says, “What is [wrong] with it?” –

That Day, it will report its news

The Qur’an, Surah Az-Zalzalah (Chapter of the earthquake) 99:1–4

Elizabeth Lymer is Editor of Young Muslimah Magazine, where – as you can see – she is happy to publish poetry. (Check out http://youngmuslimahmagazine/submissions.) She writes nursery rhymes prolifically and is looking forward to the launch of her collection of Abrahamic rhymes next month insha’Allah. This poem was first published on her writer’s website.

Average Rating: 5 out of 5 based on 166 user reviews.

Mini Issue One Aug 2014 Out Now

Assalaam ‘alaykum/Peace be with you,

Welcome to our first Young Muslimah Magazine Mini Issue.

Our Mini Issues are publications via which we republish our writers’ articles that have been previously published elsewhere; we republish a guest series by Zainab bint Younus; we share inspirational articles by our Islamic Editor, Nadia Leona Yunis; and we look ahead to our forthcoming main issue in the form of book review introductions and opportunities for you to get involved insha’Allah.

Submissions for our October issue ‘Inner and Outer Me’ are now closed. However I encourage aspiring writers to think ahead with planning submissions for our February issue (theme and deadline to be announced via our Facebook group, email list, and submissions webpage insha’Allah).

Book reviews are an excellent place to start out as a writer. Writing publicly means entering a matrix of conversations that have been flowing for a very long time alhamdulillah. Writers are not expected or required to know everything. By bravely writing your unique beliefs, perspectives, and experiential knowledge you can connect with the readers and writers who are engaged in written conversations of your interest insha’Allah.

What better way to ease yourself in to writing publicly than by reviewing other people’s writing?

By writing a review you will be supporting another writer and the writing industry. You will be reaching out to support others in a way that you will need to be supported if you are to succeed as a writer. And you will learn about your own preferences of writing style and craft by observing yourself as a reader insha’Allah.

Insha’Allah twice a year I will offer a selection of specific books as gifts to aspiring review writers for the magazine. Here is my current selection:

Editor’s Bookshelf* ( Autumn/Winter 2014-2015)

For a young aspiring writer and book reviewer aged 13-24 (non-fiction): Sandcastles and Snowmen by Sahar El-Nadi

For a​ young aspiring writer and book reviewer aged 13-24 (fiction):

Soul of a Butterfly by Safaa Baig

​​For an aspiring writer and book reviewer aged 13 or over​:

Writing as a Way of Healing by Louise A DeSalvo

For an aspiring fiction writer and book reviewer aged 13 or over:

Story Physics by Larry Brooks

For an aspiring poet and book reviewer aged 13 or over

Many Poetic Voices, One Faith by Islamic Writers Alliance

*Aspiring female book reviewers are welcome to make submissions from anywhere in the world. However gifts books can only be offered to writers in the UK.

Please email me at editor@youngmuslimahmagazine to pitch your review if you are interested in writing a review and receiving a gift copy of a book from the above list. Please refer to our Writers’ Guidelines before you email me. Jazakillahkhayr.

Insha’Allah our next issue ‘Inner and Outer Me’ will be out mid Oct.

You can like and follow our Facebook page for updates.

To keep up to date with the Editor’s List you are welcome to join our Facebook group or email the above address to request to join our email list.

I hope you enjoy reading our mini issue and you discover new blogs/websites in the process insha’Allah.

I look forward to your submission insha’Allah.

Ma salaama,

Elizabeth Lymer (Editor)

Average Rating: 5 out of 5 based on 245 user reviews.

Mini Issue One Aug 2014 Out Now

Giving ourselves permission to just ‘BE’ seems alien to most people.

In my workshops and coaching this is one of the first concepts I cover and many have appreciated exploring this area and working through it.

They all get instant transformations walhamdulilah.

Why do we forget about this concept?

Because we get caught up in our day to day and don’t stop to breathe and take in the silence.

And because of this we have constant soul and heart ache and we don’t understand what has gone loopy for us.

When faced with such challenges we may hit social media to get some therapy or reassurance.

Wrong place!

All we need to do is learn to silence our minds.To let go of everything and anything that doesn’t serve our soul and our true purpose.

Eternal happiness comes from living our souls purpose – worshipping God. So, with this in mind, live your awesome life now, make those positive changes, and prepare for your best afterlife.

Let go and let God.

Call on God for He (SWT) is listening to your call.

And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided.

Surah Al-Baqarah (The Cow) 2:186

Turn inwards and reconnect with your soul and talk to your Creator – this will help your soul to heal.

But many of you reading this won’t take it on board!

Why?

Because we are just addicted to drama and drama gives us attention and comfort!

We are fooling no one except ourselves here.

Anas (radhiallahu anhu) said that he heard the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) say: “Allah the Exalted said: “O son of Adam! As long as you invoke Me and plead to Me, I will forgive you whatever you have committed, and I will not make much of it. O son of Adam! If your evil deeds reach the borders of the sky, and then you ask Me for forgiveness, I will forgive you. O son of Adam! If you bring forth the earth full of errors, then you meet Me while you do not associate anything (or anyone) with Me, I will bring forth for you its full of forgiveness.” [At-Tirmidhee (Shaikh Albanee rendered it as Hasan)]

If there is one piece of advice which I can give you after studying and practising personal and spiritual peak performance for the last 20 years then it is this; ‘You will always be a daily work in progress and each step will take you closer to your ultimate final destination. Keep the end in mind always!’ 

Quit the drama – it is not serving your ultimate soul purpose!

Let me help you help your soul to heal.

Click here now to get instant soul therapy and heart relief

Nadia Leona Yunis is the Islamic Editor for Young Muslimah Magazine. This article was first published on her website,  We Be Inspired.

Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5 based on 177 user reviews.

Mini Issue One Aug 2014 Out Now

Whilst out shopping with my family, an old lady walked in front of us. Without her noticing, she had dropped her pure white cardigan on the dirty grey pavement. Several of us around her bent down to retrieve it for her whilst others called out to alert her. I managed to get to it first, I wanted it to be me who gave this lady her cardigan back. Deep down I did it with the intention for it to be a small tiny act of dawah.

The action of bending down to pick something up that someone had dropped instantly brought back a vivid memory from my childhood. It was the same scenario but very different circumstance. I couldn’t help but start relaying it to my family.

When I was around the age of seven or eight, my younger brother and I were walking home from the local shop. A huge muscular Caucasian guy, pushed passed in between us and made some of the most intimidating and racist slurs and insults towards us. Naturally we were very frightened and being so young and shy, there was nothing we could do but tolerate it and hope that he would go away.

He must’ve just been to the local post office or bank to withdraw money. As he was passing, he was trying to shove a big wad of cash into his back pocket. Misjudging the opening, he thought he had put his money away safely but actually it had fallen on the floor behind him and in front of us. Being a wad of rolled up notes, they didn’t make the alerting sound that coins make. Unbeknownst to him, he was blissfully walking away from his money after abusing us.

My brother and I looked at each other. Without a moments thought, I ran to pick up his money. I tried to call out to him but because I was already a shy girl, my voice was very weak at that age and because he had already scared me earlier, I was even more incapable of catching his attention.

I gently poked him in the back as he failed to hear me. He turned around with such speed and annoyance I was sure he was going to hit me. He looked me in the face, then he looked down at my hand which was outstretched to his chest. He saw the money.

You dropped this, ” I said very quietly.

He looked so surprised. He rapidly checked his back pocket only to find it empty. He then looked astonished, he stuttered to find his words. He took the rolled up notes from my hand very gently and began to peel off the top note.

Just to thank you, ” he said, not even able to make eye contact by now. His head hanged low and his cheeks were red.

No, it’s okay, ” I said. And off I ran back to my brother as we headed off home that was less than 100m away.

Just before we turned into our gate, I looked back up the road and he was still standing there in contemplation. I don’t know what was going through his mind right then but I had a hope that we was thinking we didn’t deserve his initial hate.

Narrated Suwaid bin Ghafala: While I as in the company of Salman bin Rabi’a and Suhan, in one of the holy battles, I found a whip. One of them told me to drop it but I refused to do so and said that I would give it to its owner if I found him, otherwise I would utilize it. On our return we performed Hajj and on passing by Medina, I asked Ubai bin Ka’b about it. He said, “I found a bag containing a hundred Dinars in the lifetime of the Prophet and took it to the Prophet who said to me, ‘Make public announcement about it for one year.’ So, I announced it for one year and went to the Prophet who said, ‘Announce it publicly for another year.’ So, I announced it for another year. I went to him again and he said, “Announce for an other year.” So I announced for still another year. I went to the Prophet for the fourth time, and he said, ‘Remember the amount of money, the description of its container and the string it is tied with, and if the owner comes, give it to him; otherwise, utilize it.’ “

(Bukhari Book 42, Hadith 616)

Shabana Diouri is an aspiring writer and poet with a strong affinity toward the issues of women in Islam and spiritual needs of the heart. She currently manages ‘Muslimah Uninterrupted’, her personal blog where this article was first published: http://muslimahuninterrupted.wordpress.com

Average Rating: 5 out of 5 based on 279 user reviews.

Mini Issue One Aug 2014 Out Now

From Leaving Your Parents’ House to Running Your Own

ABSOLUTE FREEDOM! It was all I always wanted years before I finally got the opportunity to escape my parents’ web. Home was “HELL” considering the fact that I never ceased to hear the much detested fact that my parents were equipping me for my future independence. I felt so confident that leaving home was my ticket to bliss. I was wrong. It turned out that the “ME” at home was not the real me. I became a stranger even to myself and I finally understood the saying “you are who you are when nobody is watching you”. So the question remained “What was it about me that changed?” It took time and effort for me to figure it out as well as set myself back on track.

Leaving your parents’ house and starting your own house is only an abstract piece of cake. Many believe that everything will be as perfect as the picture they had created initially in their minds. But just like me, they eventually find the nut a little hard to crack. As Muslimahs, we all know that the main thing we should focus on is ourselves, especially when we have such a golden opportunity as living our own lives in our own houses. It is not just an opportunity to discover who we really are but also a time to groom ourselves personally against future challenges and bring ourselves to being the best Muslimahs we can be. Here are three tips for making a few changes:

Make a thorough discovery of yourself

This may appear a little strange to you. You may begin to ask yourself what new thing is yet to be uncovered. I asked myself the same question some years back, only to discover shortly after that I had hidden tendencies yet to be discovered. But the big secret is that we all learn new things about ourselves every day. The change will definitely impact a lot of things about you, so what you need to focus on is, “In what areas have you noticed these slight changes?” You may begin to notice a few changes in your pattern of eating, your sleeping habit, your level of cleanliness and personal organisation as well as your spiritual exercises. How early do you wake up for Salat–ul–fajr? How often do you observe tahajjud and recite the Qur’an? How regular are your breakfasts as well as your lunch and dinner? Do you observe basic day to day etiquette, such as not allowing a non–mahram into your house in a state of seclusion? These are just some of the numerous areas you need to check. To make this easier, you may draw out a day to day activity chart that can last for a period of three weeks to monitor your level of discipline as well as the few things that may have changed about you. It is very normal for you to experience these changes as this is one thing freedom bears. When no one is there to check your level of discipline, you tend to relax partially or sometimes totally, depending on the circumstances.

Set yourself back on track

A few weeks after I set up my new house, I discovered a lot of new things about myself, the tendencies of which I never imagined having. I took so many things for granted and left so many things undone. I would wake up at odd times, stay up late to watch movies, postpone my salats, leave dishes in the kitchen unwashed for long periods of time and make too many errors in my day-to-day affairs. I was gradually becoming lazy and disorganised. The moment I realised this, I knew I had to adjust my pattern of living and so it began. It was hard at the beginning but the effort was worth it after all.

Setting yourself back on track should be a slow and steady process. You don’t need to rush things. Doing too many things at a time amounts to doing nothing at the end of the day, so you should only go one step at a time. The first thing you must do is to admit you are doing some things wrongly and you have to change. You may then highlight the major areas where the problems lie. By doing this, you have taken the first step.

Having made a list of your shortcomings, you must realise that you are alone in this and the only person to help you out is you. You must also bear in mind that all your effort is directed towards making yourself a better Muslimah for the sake of Allah. So, you may have to create an extra consciousness in yourself that Allah, who has the greatest authority over you, is watching you. This should get you going. When you want to stay up late to watch a movie, have it at the back of your mind that Allah sees all that you do, just like postponing your salats and allowing a non–mahram to visit you in your house. To make this more effective, you could make cardboard inscriptions of this and paste it in different corners of your house to remind you that Allah knows all that you do.

You may also employ the use of an activity chart to monitor your daily success. How early did you wake up for salat–ul–fajr? How early did you have your breakfast? Were you able to do all your chores? How punctual were you at work? Did you create time to recite the Qur’an? These are areas where the activity chart can work effectively.

It is important to know that the more you discover yourself, the better your ability to devise other methods of bringing yourself back on track. The main obstacle to achieving this is the whispering of Shaytan so do not forget to seek Allah’s refuge against the accursed one at every point of the struggle.

Don’t be static

The mere fact that you’re trying to be the “you” that you’ve always been should not make you insensitive to other interesting areas that you could explore. Try new methods of improving yourself. You may want to try a different cooking method for a better result or even rearrange the daily routine that has always been a part of you. Think of yourself in the nearest future. Where do you want to be in the next five years? How organised do you want your life to be? How do you want other people to see you? These are questions you should ask yourself. Answers to these questions will give you a direction as to what areas to explore and improve on. Ensure an average level of consistency as this struggle is no other person’s but yours alone and do not forget to seek Allah’s help at every point of it to make your affairs easy for you.

O Allah, I seek refuge in You from anxiety and sorrow, weakness and laziness, miserliness and cowardice, the burden of debts, and from being over powered by men. (Bukhari)

Wardah Abbas is a graduate of law from the University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria. She is a passionate Muslimah and a budding writer who believes in intellectualism as a prerequisite to change. You can read more of her writings on therosespen.wordpress.com where this article has been republished.

Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5 based on 152 user reviews.

Mini Issue One Aug 2014 Out Now

It’s 1.35 a.m.  my eyes feel grainy, and all day, the right one has been twitching. I am so tired, I kept dozing off during a conversation with my best friend earlier this evening, and my head aches, especially my ears. And there goes my right eye again.

Over the past week, I’ve averaged about 4-5 hours of sleep per night. This after coming back from two weeks in nigeria during which I regularly had rather broken nights of sleep, and the journey back overnight, during which I only slept for about an hour, between Paris and London.

I know I need sleep. and I will, soon. But I just needed to at least start this.

Anyone that knows me knows that the above is quite a regular pattern – I may go through periods where I start going to bed at a more normal time (say around midnight, relatively early by my standards), and get enough sleep.  But gradually, I will start slipping back into this mode – staying up later and later, my body and mind tired beyond belief, but not going to bed all the same. And it’s not insomnia – aside from a few very short bouts of this, I’ve never had a problem actually getting to sleep. The problem rests more in actually going to bed – the ultimate and most pointless of all procrastinations.

I’ve heard it said this could signify a fear of sleep. Or maybe of missing something. The latter, maybe; the former, I really doubt. I love sleep, when I actually do it.

I sometimes wonder what I would be like if I slept enough. I’ve read enough on the matter to know that prolonged sleep deprivation can and does have a number of adverse effects on health, both mental and physical. My memory has always been bad, but got increasingly worse over the past years. My attention flits – watching me work is probably a master class in self-distraction.

Sitting here tonight, thinking about something I mentioned to a friend earlier, I had one of my slow-dawning realisations.

Since I was at Uni, I have noticed a tendency towards mood swings. Though I’ve read up on them (well, at an internet level), I’ve never really been sure if they are the normal degree, or warrant worrying over. All I know is that any time I’m more than a little happy one day, it is guaranteed that within the next day or two, my mood will swing low, often spurred by nothing at all. It’s something I complain about to close friends off and on, but have never really done anything further about.

These mood swings are often perpetuated by, and/or themselves perpetuate, a degree of social anxiety that I have. And by this, I don’t (just) mean being shy. Which I am – incredibly so. A fact often disbelieved, given my generally outgoing nature. The fact is, the anxiety manifests not necessarily in the way I present myself in public, but in what is running through my mind, generally before and after events and interactions, and sometimes even during.

I find that, as soon as I feel a little low, negative thinking prevails. Of course everyone has negative thoughts, and irrational ones also. But the degree to which mine run, and the lack of any real cause to prompt them, is a regular difficulty for me.

Conversations with friends are later picked over – did I say something stupid? Something that might have annoyed them? Something I really shouldn’t have? Any plan to meet new people, especially in groups, becomes an event in hyper-worry about how they will view me, what they will think of me – my predictions are generally not positive ones, and though 99% of the time, these doom-laden prophecies of mine are disproved by the general loveliness or at least amicability of these people, this neither prevents the dissection after the meeting, in which I manage to forget all the positive feedback, and concentrate on negatives that generally didn’t actually, really exist – wondering if I came across as too argumentative, too timid, too loud, somewhat disagreeable or stupid or whatever else springs to mind in the post-evaluation process; nor does a positive experience mean that next time I won’t have all the same negative prophecies again, even as my rational self recalls that it all turned out OK in the end.

Sitting here thinking tonight, I decided that the coming year will be the one I tackle these issues – the sleep, the anxiety, and the fluctuating moods. I do believe they’re all at least a little linked. And I do believe as well that, though I’ve complained about them, talked to friends about them, pondered them and researched them, I’ve never actually decided to take the time out to actively do anything about them.

Tackling the sleep issue seems, for me, both the most potentially doable, but also one that I know I’ve tried and failed at so many times. It’s also the one that I think holds the key, at least to a degree, to the other two.

Staying in will need to become my new going out, and each time I miss a gig or show, I will need to remind myself why I’m doing it – I can’t spend the rest of my life getting miserable each time I’ve been happy (to the extent that I actually worry if I get in ‘too’ good a mood). And when I’m rested, and emotionally stable, then I’m better able to deal with the anxieties that prevail over all my relationships, that have me feeling things are going bad, even when they’re good, or that if they have not yet, they soon will be, and that have me viewing myself so poorly through the eyes of others, projecting my insecurities onto them and translating it into negative reactions that don’t exist.

This is the first time I’ve ever really written about this in any way publicly. Partly I was inspired by a number of friends and acquaintances who speak and write candidly about their own issues of mental health. In particular, reading (and recognising bits of myself in bits of) the poet Harry Giles’ blog post made me determined to write my own, when the right time came. Partly, I really think this needs to not be something strange or shameful in any way, and the more people talk about mental health, the less it will be so.  Finally, I guess it’s just that time of the night when things come out that maybe in the day, supposed right-mindedness might pull down the shutters of censorship.

You are so weak. Give up to grace.

The ocean takes care of each wave till it gets to shore.

You need more help than you know.”

The Essential Rumi

And we made your sleep (Subaat) as a thing for rest.”

Suah An-Naba’ (The Tidings) 78:9

And it is He Who makes the night a covering for you, and the sleep a repose, and makes the day Nushūr (i.e., getting up and going about here and there for daily work, after one’s sleep at night).”

Surah Al-Furqan (The Criterion) 25:47

Wasi Daniju is a counsellor, photographer, and sometimes blogger at Wasi Somewhere In Between where his article was first published.

Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 based on 196 user reviews.

Mini Issue One Aug 2014 Out Now

I am the rose that grew from seeds

That budded from clay, soil, water, soul, light and creation.

I am a product of my beloved.

What you thought would kill me

Only served to make me stronger.

I’ve evolved into a strong warrior;

I’m one of a kind.

My thorns fortified with terror,

My wounds faded from the pain,

And all the other scars

Formed from the travesty of my existence.

This is not lost on me.

There is beauty in the midst of my beloved,

And within the essence of mankind.

I don’t belong in the past and never did.

Wisdom I have absorbed

From rains never to come again.

Before I close my eyes, the nights

Are spent in prayer and reflection

In my sujood I pray

And my heart pours out

A million Thanks

To Almighty God

For the infinite blessings

That are always bestowed upon me

From every corner that surrounds me.

I bow down in prayers

In gratitude for the miracles of my beloved –

For what’s around me,

Realising how blessed I am,

And with a grateful prayer,

I allow myself

To be happy and thankful

For the wonderful things I have

Been gifted with –

Embraced by –

And I cherish this

In my heart

As it provides me with the strength, energy and hope

I’ll need for the next season of my beautiful journey.

So exalt [Allah] with praise of your Lord and be of those who prostrate [to Him].

Surah Al-Hijr (The Rocky Tract) 15:98

Saira Anwar shares her writing via her Inspired Poetry Facebook page.

Average Rating: 4.4 out of 5 based on 181 user reviews.

Mini Issue One Aug 2014 Out Now

She writes with water.

Mechanics stand among her words

Calling them oil stains as they loosen

And reconstruct them.

Scientists angle beside her sentences

Casting fish chosen to eat

Patterns they can predict.

But there are some survivors who swim in rhythm

With each stroke of her pen

To keep their breath.

Upon the water that she writes they travel

From survival

To healing.

And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive [to Allah].

Surah Al-Baqarah (The Cow) 2:45

Maria Limehouse writes cathartic posts on her blog where this poetic truth was first published.

Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 255 user reviews.

Mini Issue One Aug 2014 Out Now

Muslim women in the West today are in a seemingly unique position: often straddling two worlds, that of their family’s ethnic culture and that of their Western country of residence; struggling to both revive their faith and their intellect; managing a balancing act of family and career.

Often, we feel alone, stranded in circumstances for which there is no textbook manual on how to do it all right. Surely we can’t be the only generation of Muslim women to face such trials! And, in fact, we aren’t. Islamic history books are filled with stories of exemplary Muslim women, young and old, who navigated cultures spanning from Asia and Arabia to Europe.

These inspiring women came of age in environments eerily similar to our own:  Fatimah bint Muhammad (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), whose early teen years were spent struggling through the difficult first days of Islam in Makkah; and  Ama bint Khalid, who grew up in the Christian country of Abyssinia during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). They dealt with feelings of isolation, cultural differences, and the struggles faced by the pioneers of a new way. They fell in love, fought in wars, and achieved heights of scholarship envied by men.

From the Sahaabiyaat (female Companions) to shaykhaat (female scholars) in our own times, Muslim women have always had powerful female figures to look up to and emulate. Unfortunately, however, these inspiring women have been forgotten and marginalized by their own people, to the detriment of all Muslims, both men and women.

Now, we hope to revive and relive our neglected history. By bringing to light not only the exploits of these heroines, but their humanity as well, we aim to build a direct connection and sense of relevance between the current generations of Muslim women, and those who created legacies before us.

Zainab bint Younus (AnonyMouse) is a young woman who finds constant inspiration in the lives of the Sahabiyaat and other great women in Islamic history. She hopes that every Muslimah is able to identify with the struggles of these inspirational women and follow in their footsteps to become a part of a new generation of powerful Muslim women. She blogs at http://www.thesalafifeminist.blogspot.com 

Average Rating: 4.4 out of 5 based on 200 user reviews.

Mini Issue One Aug 2014 Out Now

Modern society marks the transition from childhood into adolescence with contemporary constructs such as issues of identity and angst. For young Muslimahs in the West, these struggles are compounded with further questions about religion, spirituality, and their place as citizens in societies whose values are often at great odds with those of Islam’s.

Ama bint Khalid was one of the first young Muslimahs to grow up in a non-Muslim environment, and whose love for the Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) blossomed in her heart before she ever met him. Her parents were amongst the earliest believers in RasulAllah, and were of those who made the first hijrah (emigration) to Abyssinia.

As a result, Ama was one of a handful of young Muslims who grew up in a distinctly Christian society. Though she undoubtedly faced difficulties and challenges, her identity as a Muslim was strengthened by her circumstances, rather than weakened or driven to compromise. Her parents would regularly share with her and remind her of the reason for which they emigrated: their belief in Allah and His Messenger. They would tell her stories about RasulAllah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) – his kindness, his generosity, his concern for others even if they were not his family or friends, and how he worked so hard to save everyone from the terrifying punishment of the Hereafter. Long before she ever met him, Ama loved this amazing man of whom her parents spoke so fondly.

Ama was a young girl with faced with a massive challenge: living and growing up in a country foreign to her family, struggling to learn a new language and a new culture and, more importantly, retaining the faith for which they had emigrated in the first place. In the midst of this utter strangeness, she fiercely held onto her belief in God and His Messenger, her savior.

Though the challenges are many, young Muslims in the 21st century are not the first to experience isolation, alienation, and negative propaganda directly concentrated on their faith. Youth such as Ama bint Khalid and Ali ibn Abi Talib, both of whom were raised upon Islam from a very young age, grew up in a society where they were labeled as either crazy people, terrorists, or both. Most Muslim teenagers often think that they have little in common with famous and awe-inspiring Sahaabah of the Prophet’s time, but the truth is that their struggles were very similar to those we are going through today.

Today, young Muslims in the West have far more available and at their disposal than Ama bint Khalid had over 1400 years ago. Masjid youth groups, Islamic schools, youth conferences, CDs and DVDs; these resources provide not only knowledge, but a strength of solidarity for young Muslims growing up in non-Muslim societies.

Teenage Muslim girls who are trying to juggle their non-Muslim school environment, culturally different home environment, and plain old teen hormones need look no further than Ama bint Khalid to feel both comforted and inspired. If Ama could do it – in a time when there was no internet, no halaal takeout, and no varieties of cute hijaabs – why can’t you?

 Narrated Sa’id:

Um Khalid bint Khalid bin Said said, “I came to Allah’s Messenger along with my father and I was wearing a yellow shirt. Allah’s Messenger said, “Sanah Sanah!” (‘Abdullah, the sub-narrator said, “It means, ‘Nice, nice!’ in the Ethiopian language.”) Um Khalid added, “Then I started playing with the seal of Prophethood. My father admonished me. But Allah’s Apostle said (to my father), “Leave her, ” Allah’s Apostle (then addressing me) said, “May you live so long that your dress gets worn out, and you will mend it many times, and then wear another till it gets worn out (i.e. May Allah prolong your life).” (The sub-narrator, ‘Abdullah aid, “That garment (which she was wearing) remained usable for a long time.)

Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 73, Number 22

Zainab bint Younus (AnonyMouse) is a young woman who finds constant inspiration in the lives of the Sahabiyaat and other great women in Islamic history. She hopes that every Muslimah is able to identify with the struggles of these inspirational women and follow in their footsteps to become a part of a new generation of powerful Muslim women. She blogs at http://www.thesalafifeminist.blogspot.com

Average Rating: 5 out of 5 based on 196 user reviews.

Mini Issue One Aug 2014 Out Now

“You say that you are just a body, but inside of you is something greater than the Universe.” Imam Shafi (rahimullah)

Today’s post is about a topic which is so great that I’m not at all qualified to go into depths.

It is about the ‘Soul’.

Although I read a lot and share what I read, I will only touch the surface of this topic.

What I will cover is the ‘Personal Development’ part for us so we can start making at least some basic changes in our lives insha’Allah.

We are spiritual beings living in physical bodiesboth need taking care of. Our soul needs ibaadah (worship) and our body needs the right foods and exercise. When both the soul and body are aligned we are in an overall state of peace and ease.

But when either one of them is misaligned then we are at dis-ease.

How many of us experience this state of peace … daily?

How many of us experience this peace at all?

Why is it that we are not at peace, ease, and are at dis-ease?

It’s different for all of us in practical terms but in theoretical terms its all the same.

Our day to day is full of all sorts. The good, the bad, and the not so pretty.

We have billions of thoughts going around in our heads daily.

Whilst our conscious mind may be focussed at the task at hand (maybeif we are actually focussing) our subconscious is roaming freely like it’s been given a permanent free will visa!

We get so busy in our day to day that for many of us taking out five minutes just to ‘chill’ becomes a weird concept that only those who are in meditative lands do.

And even if we do take out five mins, it’s usually not to take a breather.

In short,  we don’t take time out to heal our heart and soul.

We don’t take time out to reflect and change our ways.

We may even reflect – but reflection on its own doesn’t do us much good if we don’t follow through on some good actions or positive changes.

Let’s admit it now – we spend more time on our bodily health than our soulful health.

I mean, even if you’re not an exercise or gym freak (freak in the good sense) then we still think about eating the right foods. In winter here in the UK it’s cold. So even if we don’t think about the right food for our body we still think, “Hmm – should stack up on those vitamins to avoid colds and flu.”

That’s what we Brits do!

And when it’s time to take care of our soul – our internal affairs – then we ‘try’ and then quickly give up!

Why do we give up? Because we are not willing to acknowledge all the junk we have stored in there and are not ready to dispose of it!

We HAVE to start taking responsibility for ourselves NOW. No one else is going to come up and fix up our sorry states.

I mean, we can turn to our friends for solace as much as we want and we do (I do!), but who’s going to have to start taking the first steps? Yup, the ‘I’ person!

There’s a reason why we don’t focus on our ibaadah and that reason is all the junk stored in our archive system.

We need to deal with it ASAPwe need to heal the wounds and we need to turn back to the best self-help book written and sent to us!

A heart without the Qur’an is a dead heart. Ask yourself, “How much time do I give to the Qur’an daily?” All the answers you’re looking for are in there. No need to go to the library. It’s the #1 self-help Book sitting on your shelf. It’s not a shelf-help book and if the shelf is made from wood then wood came from a tree that was living and breathing. Maybe the shelf is more at peace than the human soul!

*Reflect*

We are confused about our purpose here. It’s simple. God created us to worship Him.

That’s it.

Work on it daily.

I have to work on it daily.

You have to work on it daily.

We have to work on it daily.

And the biggest one is: STOP HATING YOURSELF!

My God, ladies and gents!

Have you heard the way you talk to yourselves sometimes?

You can be so mean and evil to your own self – your own soul.

Your soul is the REAL YOU! Your body is a covering.

Do you walk around in torn clothes exposing your bits?

NO!

(I hope not!)

Clothes are to cover your body and to protect it.

The body is a covering for your soul.

Beautify the outside all you want homie … but if your inside is a trunk full of junk then, believe me, it’ll show to everyone AND you won’t be happy!


“We are not powerless specks of dust drifting around in the wind, blown by random destiny. We are, each of us, like beautiful snowflakes – unique, and born for a specific reason and purpose.” Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

 

Start respecting your own soul.

I mean, start respecting yourself and nourishing yourself.

Your soul needs Allah. It needs ibaadah. It needs salah. It needs Qur’an. It needs dhikr.

Now stay focused with me and don’t think, Oh but so-and-so is really an evil soul!”

Why do you care what they are? Can you fix them? No? OK, cool – back to YOU then.

It’s time to start loving yourself and stop being so harsh.

We all make mistakes. We all make bad decisions. We all screw up.

It’s a process called LIFE.

I’m not saying go out and mess up. 

I’m saying recognise it happened, deal with it. Heal yourself and move forward.


“No amount of guilt can change the past and no amount of worrying can change the future. Go easy on yourself, for the outcome of all affairs is determined by Allah’s decree. If something is meant to go elsewhere, it will never come your way, but if it is yours by destiny, from you it cannot flee.” [Umar Ibn al-Khattab RadiyAllahu Anhu]

You know each moment is passing and what is important is our worship and devotion to God. We’re not here for long.

But if we spend more time in beating our own souls then we won’t be able to work on our worship.

We should have a restraining order to stop beating ourselves.

Its time to start taking care of yourself. That time is NOW!

* Action Point and Tips:

1. Start loving yourself and start talking to yourself in a loving way! 

Monitor your thoughts and record all the negativity. Now dump it in the trash bin.

Just dump ‘em!

2. Start noticing and acknowledging your achievements throughout your life. Remember how you felt and what you wanted to become and accomplish. Now go and achieve that dream and make it a reality!

3. Want some emotional healing? I’m an ‘Energy & Emotional Healing and EFT/EMT’ therapist. 

Read this link and book an appointment https://www.dropbox.com/s/i3n0jyu8ltnvsoo/shifatouchenergyhealing.pdf

So, ask yourself – if Allah gave me one life here on planet Earth, how will I live it?

And how do I want to return to Him – in what state and condition?

“O you satisfied soul. Return to your Lord pleased with yourself and pleasing to Him. Enter among My servants. And enter My paradise.”
Surah Al Fajr (The Dawn) 89:27–30

There is something special inside of you and that something special is YOU! :)

* Extra Resource:

Here’s something written by my teacher.  Insha’Allah you’ll enjoy it as much as I did! Please SHARE it widely and inspire a soul back to God :)

Nadia Leona Yunis is the Islamic Editor for Young Muslimah Magazine. This article was first published on her website, We Be Inspired.

Average Rating: 4.4 out of 5 based on 157 user reviews.

Mini Issue One Aug 2014 Out Now

The topic we are going to look at today is about ‘Self-sabotage’ and ‘Victim mentality’.

Today’s topic is pretty deep – in more ways than one. So before we begin I request you to read this only if you are ready to move on from all negativity in your life, if you’re looking for some solutions and answers, and if you want to start making positive changes in your world.

If you’re feeling very low and emotional then this topic may really hit home and may upset you or may even make you angry.

However that is NOT my intention. It is not a personal attack on anyone as I don’t know your situation personally. My intention is to help you as I helped myself many years ago.

This topic could also create some breakthrough moments for you and could leave you slightly overwhelmed and in a state of,  “What Now?!”

I do highly recommend you read this as it will help you. After reading this if you need to talk one to one then please email me: webeinspired@selfaware.com I’m also an ‘Energy & Emotional Healing and EFT/EMT’ therapist.

So, don’t feel you’re alone,  OK? :)

Everyone has a story to tell because everyone is on a journey. We are all travelers in this world and our ultimate destination is the next world  insha’Allah the gardens of Paradise, with our Creator – our Lord.

But on this journey many a thing can happen. It usually all starts at a young age – in our childhood. But maybe it started later in life.


You were a happy-go-lucky person and something happened and you retreated – back into your shell. 

It could be a physical shell or psychological shell. But you chose to close off from everyone.

A bit like smiling and joking when in public but crying and depressed when alone.

Something keeps eating you up inside and you let that something dictate your actions – your life as you live it, day in, day out.

There’s so much you want to achieve but you stop yourself every time you take a step forward. Or when working in groups you are loud and fierce and everyone is scared by your actions but when you’re alone your like a soft cuddly teddy – harmless and kind.

So ask yourself, Why am I one way with people and why am I different when alone?”

Take a moment to truly reflect on this and write down your thoughts.

Are you the loudest, proudest, and over the top when with people and quiet, timid, reflective and reserved when alone? (Or opposite in opposite situations.)

If so, it’s your way of breaking free from those psychological shackles. You’re trying to make a point. You want someone to hear your voice – your story. You just want to be understood.

Deep inside – rooted deep within – there are unresolved issue.

Do you tell yourself: “Well such and such happened to me which wasn’t my fault so now I can’t do this and that because I won’t succeed, will fail, will lose….” And so on?

Do you know what you’re doing to yourself? Are you aware of how you’re treating yourself?

Its called: ‘Self-sabotage’ and ‘Victim Mentality’.

It’s when you always consider yourself a victim because something(s) happened in your life because of others actions and now you always think that you will get hurt again and keep telling yourself you’re a bad person, not good enough and then you see the exact same cycle in life repeating it self over and over again and then you keep feeding yourself with the same negative thoughts – sabotaging yourself. 

I know how that feels. Because I went through exactly just that for 30 years! And it wasn’t until I fell really ill two years ago on my 30th birthday that things finally started to make some sense. It was then that I saw my life flash before me and it was then when I understood. It was time for change. It was time to take responsibility. It was time to move forward with my life.

What is Self-sabotage and Victim mentality?

It’s when passive beliefs and behaviour can be detrimental to the soul – to our life – daily.

It’s things in the past which are still eating us up today.

I still achieved all that I wanted to. I still studied, got the degrees, had the job I wanted, the friends, the family, the businesses. The daily ibaadah – salah, Qur’an, dhikr, talking to Allah, studying about the deen and then teaching it in my weekend kids club.

But something was still deep rooted inside.

I had to deal with past issues to move on – to take full responsibility.

We HAVE to take full responsibility because the past is the past – it’s gone – it won’t return. And if you feel that the same thing keeps happening to you over and over again then it because you haven’t dealt with those issues. Its God’s way of saying; ‘When you’ve learnt the lesson you will be ready to move on!’ And that’s what happened to me!

“Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves (with their own souls).”

Surah Ar-Ra’d (The Thunder) 13:11

That little voice in your head telling you you’re not good enough will continue to tell you exactly just that until you take hold of it, shake it and say: “Enough already!”

It’s time to claim back YOUR life!

Negative beliefs need to be cut from the roots. Sometimes it takes time because maybe you don’t realise when it all began or it could be lots of things.

But you need to become more comfortable and confident in your soul and start taking care of your soul.

We all take care of our bodies because imagine if we didn’t shower or put on clean clothes? I don’t think anyone would want to be around us. Yet we continuously neglect our soul. Not only do we need to nourish it with ibaadah but we also need to get rid off the harmful toxins that are slowly destroying it.

Just as narcotics and substances destroy the body, the intellect and eventually the soul – so do negative thoughts, words, statements and beliefs. 

Yes, they comfort us and are there for us. But they are bad friends only there to destroy us.

We need to stop being the victim or feeling like a victim and we need to get out of that negative hole fast – right NOW! (Else it’ll continue to take us deeper and deeper down!)

Why? Because only then can we truly start to heal and move forward.

Yes, it’s difficult – I hear you. But one step at a time. One issue at a time. You owe it to your soul. We will be answerable to God on the Last Day. What will we say then?


The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Take benefit of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free-time before your preoccupation, and your life before your death.” (Hakim)

Victim mentality and self-sabotage is not only detrimental to our own souls but all those who are around us – our family, friends, pets….

Who wants to be around a grumpy, sad, depressed person?

Not me! Not You! None of us!

Yet we’re around our own grumpy, depressed selves!

You know half the time when we talk to ourselves we are just sooo cruel and heartless!!!

Imagine talking like that to your best friend or family? :-O

Exactly! We wouldn’t have a best friend or family left!

You don’t want to be stuck in this rut – I know – and I know you can be happier and more content. You will, insha’Allah.

Ready to break free from these shackles? Alhamdulilah. 

Check out the following tips.

Tips and Action Points:

1. Ibaadah – worship: Do NOT give up on your prayers, Qur’an, du’as. They are soul therapy and a weapon of the believer. Never be unarmed. Always protect yourself with your armour. Our ibaadah is our armour!

2. Who’s your crew? Did you know the five people we hang around the most (minus family) are the ones who help shape our lives. So whose in your crew? Happy dudes or nay-sayers?

3. Learn to forgive. If someone has hurt you – forgive them. It’s VERY hard – I know – and it takes time. But you’re doing it for yourself. By forgiving you are not saying that you condone their actions but you’re releasing them from your thoughts. Let them go!

4. If you’ve been hurt physically or emotionally (domestic violence, abuse – sexual/physical) there is help available. By seeking help you are taking responsibility for yourself and saying you will heal and move forward. You are not weak but very strong and I’m proud of YOU!

5. Fill your soul will goodness  ibaadah, reading, friends, hobbies. Live the life you want to. The only one standing in your way is you. Get out of your own way and just go do it.

I pray that this post has helped you in some way. I know its very deep and you may need to read it a few times. But know that you’re not alone. I’ve also been there and it was very tough. That’s why I launched ‘We Be Inspired’.

If you need to talk email me webeinspired@selfaware.com

Know that you’re special and unique. Love yourself. Because God loves YOU! :)

Nadia Leona Yunis is the Islamic Editor for Young Muslimah Magazine. This article was first published on her website,  We Be Inspired.

Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 based on 290 user reviews.

Mini Issue One Aug 2014 Out Now

It was in my last year of university that I felt stress piling on me….

I had a dissertation that needed completing along with assignments and exams; not to mention my relationship with my mother was at an all time low.

I had decided to start working part time as well. My financial situation was getting worse by the day and being skint wasn’t something I could adapt to. I had enjoyed my own financial freedom since the age of 16 but I was struggling with having a car and a mobile contract to pay; and staying at Uni all hours of the day just to avoid the hostilities at home meant I was eating out more than usual.

My out goings where more than my in goings. I had a student credit card which had been maxed. My older brother found a bank statement and – rather than being annoyed – ended up paying the card off. I think it was because he felt sorry for me with my mum being so off with me.

Any how I had a friend who could see a change in my personality. I was a private person so never really opened up about my problems. However she was a good enough friend too see that I was going through a rough patch. After one very long lecture she turned to me and handed me a book: Don’t Be Sad by ‘Aaidh ibn Abdullah al-Qarni.

I looked at her and hugged her, put the book in my bag, and walked out.

My friend had to go home after the lecture and – as I was avoiding home – I headed towards the library to finish my assignment. I got home late that evening and could feel the atmosphere so I headed upstairs with a warm drink, sat on my bed, and rummaged through my bag for the book that my friend gave me.

As soon as I opened it and started reading it I could see how faith helps us understand our emotions and how one can learn to deal with them. It is an amazing book which I still turn to six years later.

And We will ease you towards ease.

Surah Al-’Alaa (The Most High) 87:8

Ayesha Yahya studied a community development degree at university, has worked for the council in social care, and is hoping to go back in to education and study to be a midwife. Insha’Allah her full review of ‘Don’t Be Sad’ will be published in the October issue of Young Muslimah Magazine.

Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5 based on 194 user reviews.

Mini Issue One Aug 2014 Out Now

Reclaim Your Heart‘ by Yasmin Mogahed is not just a self-help book but a reflective guide for the heart’s journey in the ocean of life.

It is a guide on how to prevent ones heart from drowning out of feeling overwhelmed with grief and pain.

It is not only a guide but a manual on how cope, react, as well as heal,  in situations of heartbreak and dismay.

‘Reclaim Your Heart’ is a book which pours advice from one heart to another on how to prepare for challenges in our lives by putting both the realities of life and its obstacles in perspective so that we may not only heal but reclaim and protect what is ours – our hearts: our soul’s most valued possession.

Yasmin Mogahed’s shares her reflections on liberating the heart and soul through the use of personal experiences as well as wisdoms derived from the Qur’an and prophetic traditions (Hadith) in a beautified and simple way for readers to be moved with understanding.

Her use of personal experiences allows readers to connect and resonate with her words wherein they hope to discover more. The references and use of analogies from the Qur’an and Hadith provide deepened insight which serve as a guide on how to reflect upon our lives while giving us hope that those in the past endured similar hardships but overcame them due to understanding life’s realities.

Yasmin’s reflections further show that she too is going through a journey with us; as she discovers we discover – discover how to reclaim our hearts to a safe abode.

O you who have believed, respond to Allah and to the Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life. And know that Allah intervenes between a man and his heart and that to Him you will be gathered.

Surah Al-’Anfaal (The Spoils of War) 8:24

Sa’diyya Nesar lives with physical ‘disabilities’; she writes articles, prose, and poetry in hopes to uplift souls into living a better tomorrow. She posts on Tumblr and FacebookInsha’Allah her full review of Reclaim Your Heart will be published in the October issue of Young Muslimah Magazine.

Average Rating: 4.4 out of 5 based on 265 user reviews.

Ramadan and Beyond white

Living My Faith – Ramadan and Beyond

Assalaam alaykum/Peace be with you,

Ramadan and Beyond blackWelcome to our first issue of Young Muslimah Magazine (YMM), the free online magazine for aspiring Muslimah readers aged thirteen and over, and for aspiring writers – YMM is designed to provide a career ground for new writers as well as to provide spiritual turf for readers insha’Allah (if Allah wills).

Alamdulillah it is an honour to be first to publish the work of new writers, to support aspiring writers, and to share articles from established writers and professionals who have taken the time to use their writing to reach out to young Muslimahs. The structure of the magazine has been inspired by permaculture ethics of people care, earth care, and fair share, and has been organised in response to the needs of young Muslimahs to access the wisdom of others’ experiential knowledge and support. In this issue I am delighted to share articles specifically written to support readers to live our faith – Islam – during Ramadan and beyond.

I hope every reader will find support and solidarity from the writers of our articles and that your reading of the magazine will be a catalyst for realising the potential of your aspirations insha’Allah. MashaAllah, Young Muslimah Magazine is endorsed by our Islamic Editor, Nadia Leona Yunis – those of you in search of Islamic personal coaching can reach her via her website.

For those among you who aspire to become writers, you are invited to join the YMM Facebook group and/or the YMM Aspiring Writers Email List (please email your request to join to editor@youngmuslimahmagazine.com) so you can keep informed about the Editors’ Lists of content suggestions for each issue; please also refer to the pages about submissions and writers’ guidelines on this site. (I also recommend you consider joining the beautiful support network that is the Muslimah Writers Alliance, take a look at the invaluable mentoring and editing help available through LY’s Writing Service, and discover more about permaculture and Islam via Wisdom in Nature.)

Subscribe and get a free PDF of LaYinka Sanni's 'On Writing For Newbies'
Subscribe and get a free PDF of LaYinka Sanni’s ‘On Writing For Newbies’

Readers (and writers) are invited to subscribe to our YMM Email List to receive news of each issue and to be first to know about any exciting developments.

If you would like to ask any questions about the magazine please email me at editor@youngmuslimahmagazine.com

I pray that you and your families will succeed in your aspirations to please Allah (SWT – glorified and exalted be He) this Ramadan and that He will grant you inconceivable blessings during Ramadan and beyond.

Ma salaama,

Elizabeth Lymer (Editor)

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 240 user reviews.

Nadia Yunis Quran Kabah

Our Islamic Editor Nadia Leona Yunis shares insights into overcoming sad feelings when Ramadan comes towards its end – you may want to save this one for Ramadan’s last ten days or prepare in advance and read it now

This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah.

The Qur’an, Surah Al-Baqarah (Chapter of the cow) 2:2

As another Ramadan draws to an end we may suddenly fall into the ‘Post-Ramadan-Blues’. We have barely broken our final fast before we start to moan: “Oh I feel sad and upset.”

But isn’t Eid a gift from Allah? And should we not be grateful to Allah for this day? And should we not look forward to the celebration?

Nadia Yunis cresent moonWe seem to give more weight and precedence to other celebrations in our lives – whether they be a birthday, wedding, new born, graduation, or new job, new house (insert the special moment you like to celebrate) – and yet as soon as maghrib (sunset ritual prayer) adhan (call to worship) is called on the final fast we seem to get the ‘Blues’.

Our religion Islam is not about getting the blues or being in a negative state! Yes, things happen, we fall, cry, make up, break up, and cry a little more – but does life end here? Maybe you have been through some of the above struggles so you can relate – because I sure have been through a good few of those myself.

You may be feeling blue because you feel you didn’t do enough – and you feel you should have done more.

When we get into a negative rhetorical we fall downwards and downwards

Listen, you did as much as you could in your circumstance and honestly instead of worrying about how little you did now – as Ramadan is over – make continuous du’a (supplication) that Allah accepts the little you did. I pray that Allah accepts it from you and me.

You may be wondering how I can sound so cold or be so direct about it. You may be thinking, “Does she think she is better than the rest and all her deeds are accepted?” and the answer to your wonderings is, Absolutely NO!

I too am sad that Ramadan is leaving and I too wish I could do more – however when we get into this type of negative rhetorical we fall downwards and downwards. We just got blessed with such a beautiful month and we are already being ungrateful for that by being blue? I mean, we can at least read some voluntary nafl (optional prayer) for gratefulness, right? Or even some voluntary nafl to ask Allah to accept our deeds and allow us to continue, right?

Here’s the thing.

Well, two things.

Firstly, we get hooked on the blues. We listen to and read about what everyone else is saying (think social media – the F word!) and then we may feel we have to feel the same way – so we put ourselves into that state and we become blue and start talking blue.

It’s all in the mind – we are the ones who are thinking what we are thinking.

Nadia Yunis moonsThe Lord of Ramadan is still our Lord outside of Ramadan and how many more opportunities does He (SWT – glorified and exalted be He) bless us with throughout the year which also have extra reward?

Exactly! (Get pen and paper and list them please.)

Secondly, once we get ourselves onto the blue-downward-ride we seem to go round and round. We keep thinking we didn’t do enough – we keep thinking we should have done more – we keep thinking everything is over.

But here’s the deal (halaal/permissible deal) – it’s not over! It’s not over until we are nine feet under!

So do yourselves a favour right now and snap out of it! I’ll be right here when you’re ready to continue and please only five minutes OK? Good!

……….waiting

Back?

Awesome!

I am as My servant’s opinion of Me.”

(Bukhari Book 93, Hadith 502)

Think good of Allah as He is our Creator and He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

Seriously, if we think negative, negative will happen.

We need to watch what we say to ourselves.

We need to purify our intention and sincerity.

Energy flows where intention goes.

Grab your Qur’an and be thankful to Allah

Think positive of Allah – there is no need whatsoever to think negative of Him. I mean, this is a whole topic in and of itself, however just for now know that if you are reading this then, #1 you are alive, #2 you are more blessed that those in places such as Syria and Palestine right now and, #3 There is ALWAYS hope – ALWAYS!

So take a deep breath in – hold – release and say: “THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE.”

And now, let me ask you – and this is purely for reflection, for you as it is for me – if Ramadan is the month of the Qur’an then how much did you and I read, recite and study the tafseer (exegesis/interpretation)?

And before you slip to the blues again – think RED (it’s my favourite colour).

Nadia Yunis mosqueYou know by now that I’m all about self-help (i.e. as Allah says He will not change our condition until we first take that step, right) and I’m a personal development junkie. And if you’re reading this right now then that means you are someone who wants to make positive changes in your life starting right now and prepare for your best akhirah (afterlife) insha’Allah.

See, Ramadan may have left us but we shouldn’t leave it or our ibaadah (worship) from this month.

*Re-read that sentence and reflect on it for a moment.*

This is what the blues does to us – it makes us lose hope!

Did you know that the Qur’an and the Bible are known to be the #1 self-help books?

Shocked?

And you thought that the dude or dudess who got onto the New York #1 bestseller list had all the answers for you. Nope!

And just before I continue, yes I do read self-help and personal development books, and I write on personal development.

However my message is primarily based upon firstly the Qur’an and Sunnah and then everyday life.

Now what this means for us is that Ramadan may have left us for another year – and may Allah bless us with another Ramadan insha’Allah (ameen!) – however it has left you and I with a gift … the gift that it came to remind us about … the gift that we’ve already got on our shelves … the Qur’an.

If you are someone who wants to live a life upon the deen (religious path) and prepare for your best akhirah then, right now, know that Ramadan came to remind you of a gift you already have which you may not connect with very often around the year. Now, dearest soul, is the time to hold on tightly to this gift! Do not fall into the Shaytaan (Satan) trap of the blues.

Listen – it is OK to miss Ramadan and the unity it brings, and the tarawih prayers and the sisterhood/brotherhood – I get it. But don’t let it leave now. It leaves when we hit the downward.

So grab your Qur’an and be thankful to Allah that you have the best and #1 self-help book right with you. In fact it is your ULTIMATE self-help book and with it in your life you can never go wrong.

We make a du’a in Surah Fatihah in which we ask Allah (SWT) to guide us on the ‘Straight Path’ and subhan’Allah (glory be to Allah) – look at the power of our du’a – Allah (SWT) answers it instantaneously in the following Surah where He (SWT) says that THIS BOOK (the Qur’an) is a GUIDANCE for those who are conscious of Allah – aware of Him – fear Him – love Him – want His forgiveness and mercy – this book has the answers!

I invite you to embrace it and promise to read, study, and live by it insha’Allah. I’ll show you how in the tips and action points below. But just before I get there I want to say a big phat EID MABROOK to you and your family from me and my family – taqabbal Allahu minna wa minkum – may Allah accept it from you and us – ameen!

You may not understand everything the Qur’an is saying at the moment – but that is OK because that will change – remember ‘Hope’. Also the thing is that because we are so accustomed to getting advice and help from elsewhere (friends, social media, etc.) we can’t seem to connect to the concept that the Qur’an has all the answers for us.

Nadia Yunis bookBut all we need to do is look at the Seerah of Rasool Allah (biography of the Messenger of Allah) and we will come to know that, yes, the Qur’an does have all the answers for me as Aisha (RA) said that Rasool Allah was the ‘walking Qur’an’ – he was the Qur’an translated into action.

Tips and Action Points:

1. Believe!

- Believe in Allah’s mercy, in His forgiveness – believe that when you ask Him to guide you and straighten your affairs He (SWT) will. Nothing is more powerful in life than belief – and nothing is more powerful than believing that Allah (SWT) will make it alright and He (SWT) will show you the way.

- If you’re having doubts then firstly know it is waswasa from Shaytaan (whispers from Satan) and his job is to lead us off course, and secondly think of all the times that Allah helped you (specifically where something major was happening and you called out to Him – we’ve all had that moment in our lives).

- Purify your intention and sincerity – these two points are really important for us in all that we do, so let’s make it a habit to purify them at each step insha’Allah.

2. Make a Qur’an Plan

- Just like making a ‘To-Do’ list or scheduling your diary make a plan for your Qur’an. So, in this plan you will write how much you will recite each day, what times, for how long and when will you study the tafseer, attend Qur’an courses (including hifz/memorisation and tajweed/elocution), and what resources you will use. Some of the resources you could use are online YouTube videos (Like Qur’an Weekly Ramadan Gems – if you haven’t already then I highly recommend you watch them all: 30 short 5 to 10 min videos), books, and teachers (maybe private teachers). There are a lot of resources available to us – you have to be curious enough to do your own research – that is your study part, you can’t expect anyone to do it for you. Also in this plan you could include Family Qur’an Time – especially if you have younger siblings or children; this is the best self-help start you can give your family insha’Allah.

3. Your Dream Team

- Who is in your world? I.e. Who are your friends? Time for a friend check-up!

- You want a team who will help you realise not only your potential as a human and what you’re capable of achieving but also a team who loves the Qur’an just as you do – for there is nothing worse than having those in your life who don’t share the same passions and who don’t love and appreciate the Qur’an and its message!

- In this dream team you have your supporters, mentors and coaches. And you can fulfil one of these roles in someone else’s dream team.

We all need A* players in our world – on our side. Allah created us social beings and it is in social settings we thrive and excel.

Your dream team will be there to support you through all your ups and downs and will encourage you to excel. This special team is called your ‘Qur’an Dream Team’. Go create yours right now insha’Allah.

The Qur’an creates a special kind of connection with our Rabb (Lord) Allah – He is speaking to us through the Qur’an and we need to make it our #1 Book in our life insha’Allah.

I do hope and pray that this post today does help you in one way or another. Please leave me your comments and let me know what three things you will do right now to keep the Ramadan spirit alive and connecting with your very own #1 self-help book – the Qur’an! : )

Nadia Leona Yunis is the Islamic Editor for Young Muslimah Magazine and is a personal coach in Islamic personal and spiritual development at We Be Inspired on whose site this article was first published: http://www.webeinspired.com/blog/archives/08-2013

Average Rating: 5 out of 5 based on 264 user reviews.

Was Daniju 1 no croissants

Wasi Daniju reflects upon her negative relationship with food and her body which began during her teenage years

I’ve been putting it off for months, writing this. Thinking about it for all that time, but never coming close to putting words down. Not wanting to have to look too directly at the way I feel about the way I look. And even now as I try to write it, all my words come stilted, my language seems to have deserted me for a while, and I feel myself somehow keeping a distance from what I’m relating.

Shame and embarrassment are the overriding feelings that I carry about my body.

They have been for as long as I can remember.

Those are not really the kind of feelings you want to get too close to if you can possibly help it. Even if you’re the one feeling them.

Wasi Daniju 1 mirrorSo for the most part, despite actions of mine in the past that have, by their very nature or at least intention, announced these feelings about myself quite clearly, I don’t look at them so much – don’t allow myself to dwell on them at all. Perhaps the same way I don’t look too closely at myself in a mirror if there’s anyone else around. The way I rarely look at photos of myself (and very few exist to be looked at – ever since I started taking photos, I have been adept at being the one to remain behind the camera).

And when I do look, it is always with intense scrutiny and it is always alone. Perhaps I worry that if others catch me looking, I’ll maybe draw attention to my body. Attention which, of course, could only ever be negative, or at best, tolerant. I can never imagine that it could be anything else from others.

And when I do look, it tends to be with disappointment or despair or desperation or disgust – searching for ‘me’ under the increasing rolls and bulges, because obviously, they couldn’t possibly be a part of myself. I find myself living in a body of which I often refuse to accept ownership.

Covering up has been my natural tendency from the time I hit puberty – switching from skinny ten year old to tubby to fat teen. No headscarf back then, but revelling in baggy, hoping perhaps my shape would be less discernible, my form less apparent, my appearance less displeasing to the eye. Seemed like I bloomed, but then forgot how to stop growing, ballooned to an alarming degree, so attempted to cover the results as thoroughly as possible.

For years, I never really acknowledged my feelings of shame around my body and my eating. I managed to house within me the belief that I was fine with the way I looked alongside a constant desire to lose weight, to look different, to become acceptable or not be seen. I truly believed that I truly believed that I was OK with what felt like non-stop eating and that it was as simple as just ‘liking to eat’, even though I sometimes hated myself for doing so. I was both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ at the same time, as I cleared my plate/the pack/the cupboard, and was disgusted by my greed. Eating biscuits and sweets in tears of shame, food as a comfort, food as a demonstration of my self-loathing.

I look back through old diaries, their weeks broken up by scattered entries of ‘current and target weights’, lists of rewards I could have if I was ‘good’ and hit my targets, forfeited if I ‘failed’. So many prizes left unclaimed.

Was Daniju wireI remember being on holiday in Nigeria once. I was maybe thirteen. My cousin, older than me by a few years, had a friend who considered herself too fat. She had her teeth wired together. At the time, I didn’t think too much of it. I saw her, this friend, with the holes drilled through molars, and the wires making her look like some b-grade James Bond villain. She said she cried from the pain, but I didn’t think too much of it – she said it was worth it. I wondered if perhaps it could be a solution for me.

I remember, also, walking into the common room of the large shared house in my second year at uni. I was on an Erasmus year and about 30 of us lived together. The room was empty – one of those late mornings after one of those late nights that made up our time there. And on the board, the boys had made a list of all the girls, and given each girl two separate marks out of ten: one for appearance, and one for personality. I got a 10 for personality, and a dash in place of a score for appearance. I’m not sure if it made it better or worse that they thought they were being ‘kinder’ by choosing not to score me at all.

I remember, years later, being asked by the newly-met, visiting mother of a house mate if I had a thyroid problem because, ”you know – the way your eyes bulge, and your weight.”

Wasi Daniju 1 cabbageI remember cabbage soup, and elimination diets, and physical exertion, and tears.

One thing I don’t ever remember is being content with how I looked, feeling comfortable in my own skin, or feeling safe around food. I needed to find a way for this to change.

Allah does not lay on any soul a burden except to the extent to which He has granted it; Allah brings about ease after difficulty.

The Qur’an 65:7

This article continues here: On Struggling to Love my Body: Part Two

Wasi Daniju is a counsellor, photographer, and sometimes blogger. Her photos have appeared in numerous publications including The Occupied Times and Time Out.

Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5 based on 185 user reviews.

Wasi Daniju 2 thumb-up

Wasi Daniju relates how she accomplished a shift in her relationship with food and introduces certain sources of support in her continuing quest for a positive body image

The first shift in my self-image came about 18 months back – a few months after the end of a 50 week period in which I attempted to lose 50lb. It was partly for charity, partly one of those ‘now I’ll set myself a challenge and sort myself out once and for all’ things…. As if I hadn’t been doing that over and over since I first grew in thighs, belly and backside.

Congratulations and compliments became standard as the weight disappeared, and I developed a new confidence in my body, a belief that perhaps I was somebody worthy of being seen. Tellingly, a fair few photos exist of me from around this time …

Wasi Daniju 1 weighing scalesBut once the 50 weeks were over, once I stepped off the cross-trainer, out of my dancing shoes, away from the green smoothies, the inevitable occurred. The weight began its comeback performance, and I lacked the energy to resist – I simply reverted to feeling like a failure once again.

In my desperate search to find a solution that would be longer lasting and less painful, I came across the work of Judith Matz and Elizabeth Frankel, and bought their book, The Diet Survivor’s Handbook. It was a revelation, and my first step to building a positive relationship with food and eating.

The shift continued with reading about intuitive eating, including Susie Orbach’s On Eating, and Linda Bacon’s Health at Every Size, as well as being supported by personal therapy and the counselling course I was taking at the time. [The premise of intuitive eating – i.e. trusting and listening to your body’s needs and desires rather than external regulation – is something that needs its own piece.]


The result of all of this was a massive shift around my feelings towards food and eating. It dissolved much of the shame that for me used to be associated with how I fed myself. In this time, I have gradually found myself closer and closer to a place where I eat without policing myself as much. Where I no longer feel out of control around food, or as though I cannot be trusted around it. Now my wariness comes more from worrying what those around me think when I eat in public – but that is perhaps linked to my ongoing issues with my appearance.

Rumi: ‘Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.’

I wish I had as positive an ending to relate with regards my feelings around my body, but that remains a difficult, sometimes impossible feeling – a challenging work in progress.

Wasi Daniju 2 rainbow tickI’ve found some solace in groups such as I Shape Beauty and the Body Narratives, which have given me different answers to the question of body image and ‘acceptable’ appearance to the negative ones I grew up with. Blogs, poems and other art and articles by fat activists and body positive women have all played an essential part in providing me with a different ruler by which to measure myself. I think the most important part of these latter influences has been seeing bodies that look much closer to mine than any I ever see in mainstream media and marketing, whereas the former sources have presented me with insights into other women of colour experiencing many of the same insecurities as I always have. They have helped me feel a modicum of normality in a world that continues to insist I do not fit the ‘normal’ mould.

I’m still at a stage of transition, though, with constantly battling parts of myself – still struggling with feelings that my current shape is unacceptable versus (theoretically, at least) knowing that being fat is not wrong or bad or undesirable. I hear and accept the calls to be body positive, to love my body, to acknowledge the beauty of every body shape. But a lifetime of a very different story being told, of physical self-hate as standard, and of continuing to face society’s warped ideals of physical beauty, ‘normality’ and acceptability will not simply disperse due to these new discoveries. Not yet, anyway. So I keep on working on it – trying to find the way to a reflection of myself that I can dwell on more comfortably.

Abu Hurairah (radhiAllahu anhu – may Allah be pleased with him) narrated: Messenger of Allah (sallaAllahu alayhi wasallam) said, “Allah does not look at your figures, nor at your attire but He looks at your hearts [and deeds].”

(Muslim, Book 1, Hadith 7)

This first part of this article is here: On Struggling to Love my Body: Part One

Wasi Daniju is a counsellor, photographer, and sometimes blogger. Her photos have appeared in numerous publications including The Occupied Times and Time Out.

Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 161 user reviews.

Ayesha Yahya handset and receiver phone

Ayesha Yahya says talk

Have you ever felt like you want to talk to some one but no one will understand? You have parents but they’re too busy or they won’t see your side of things. You have friends but they have their own issues or they’re always on Facebook, or on their phones, so much that sitting and having a twenty minute convo feels old fashioned?

It’s not cool any more to sit and talk. Now we have to ‘txt’ or write everything in a message where we can only have 120 characters so we abbreviate the abbreviations and before you know it we lose the whole meaning of what we are trying to say.

I always found that it helped to talk to my friends as we were all going through the same transition in life

Ayesha Yahya phoneI know there have been many times I have felt I can’t talk to my mum or my sisters. But the truth is that most of the time they’re really not that busy and would love for me to talk to them. Issues that affect us in our teenage lives, such as making an identity for ourselves, such as wearing hijab and how it will affect our looks, that time of the month, our exams, what we are going to do with our lives once school and university are over … these topics can be daunting but if we take a step back we can realise that we are not alone in our journey and that we have a support system already in place where we can find people to talk to, whether it’s our parents, siblings or teachers. I always found that it helped to talk to my friends as we were all going through the same transition in life.

However I do appreciate that not everyone has family or friends to talk to and I strongly feel that we are lucky to live in a place where there are charities with helplines set up to give the youth an ear – to listen to, and help work through, their problems.

Muslim Youth Helpline (MYH) and ChildLine are two out of the many that are available to offer a helping hand by giving a friendly ear or practical advice.

MYH was founded in 2001 by the youth and supports people through a number of channels such as phone, Facebook and email.

Ayesha Yahya head-setChildLine has been around for a lot longer dating back as early as 1987. Therefore ChildLine has had a lot more publicity, and currently ChildLine has 12 counselling centres around the UK, staffed largely by volunteers. The bases are located in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Manchester and London supported by the online only centres in Leeds and Cardiff. According to the website as many as 4, 500 children phone ChildLine every day. Since the merger with the NSPCC the service has expanded, and depends on public generosity to pay for the children’s phone calls. The intention is to always keep calls confidential.

Therefore if you ever need to talk never think you are alone, help is always there. Talk.

Narrated Abdullah ibn Umar: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: If anyone seeks protection in Allah’s name, grant him protection; if anyone begs in Allah’s name, give him something; if anyone gives you an invitation, accept it; and if anyone does you a kindness, recompense him; but if you have not the means to do so, pray for him until you feel that you have compensated him.

(Abudawud Book 9, Hadith 1668)

Ayesha Yahya studied a community development degree at university, has worked for the council in social care, and is hoping to go back in to education and study to be a midwife.

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 223 user reviews.

Maria Limehouse heart sunset

Maria Limehouse sat outside before maghrib salah (evening ritual prayer) and remembered. With tea and chocolate in hand, she looked around at the beautiful green leaves of summer, inhaled their smell deeply, and relaxed. She used to sit outside at this time of day regularly

When I was learning about Islam I was saddened by the prospect of having to give up sitting outside at sunset. I must have thought salah (ritual prayer) was a lengthy affair. I certainly hadn’t considered that an eagerness and yearning to make salah would both fit into the best of my good practice and supercede my preoccupations and longings to be in the midst of my bad habit.

Maria Limehouse sunsetI had never meant to to become an addict. I thought I could pick and choose the times I would do what I did. Preoccupation crept up on me slowly and it wasn’t until I had completely given up practising self-pollution that I truly saw that I had partly missed experiences and had neglected relationships because of a constant state of planning, counting down, and looking forward to when I would next find a good spot to inhale.

When I started looking into Islam I soon adopted a head covering and became shy about my public behaviour in case anyone mistook me for a Muslim and misjudged Muslims because of me. Alhamdulillah (all praises to Allah), this was the beginning of change. Almost two years later, I had weaned myself down to four daily pollutions when I realised two things that granted me the impetus to really change: I was enslaved to my habit yet really I should only serve Allah; there were five times prescribed for salah each day so I could, perhaps, plan for, count down to, and look forward to making salah and this would be enough to get me through quitting. I hoped so and finally took the risk alhamdulillah, thanks to the gentle prompt of a serious but non-judgemental invitation to watch a performance of salah and the following day participate with the group – my inviter knew I had just finished learning how to make salah but hadn’t used my knowledge.

Alhamdulillah, I took up the habit of practising salah from that prayer on. I did make the mistake of tasting my old habit a couple of times: it made me sick – alhamdulillah. The month of Ramadan soon arrived giving me the opportunity to embrace a detox from my general pollution that is the forgetfulness to remember Allah constantly. The habit of salah, along with other regular acts of worship, helped me to be successful over my forgetfulness, alhamdulillah

I am acutely aware that hope was not enough for me to change and gain strength in maintaining my change. I hoped to give up self-pollution for a long time before I did it, and even years later as a practising Muslim I have to keep checking my habits to see if I am inadvertently allowing small treats or temporary necessities to creep into becoming overly frequent or detrimental habits, or if I am neglecting opportunities for good habits.

Maria Limehouse sunriseWhen exam/work deadline times are over do I remember to re-adjust my snacky eating habits and schedule ibadah (worship) back into my day? When the cold months are over can I make an effort to drink less tea? After guests have departed can I continue as good habits some of the helpful things I did for their visit? Who within my company can help me?

It seems there is a foulness about exchanging a bad habit for the good habit of making salah – to swap one addiction for another – and it is foul to have polluted myself and disrespected my body in the way I did. I learned the hard way that I am designed to be an addict. But alhamdulillah, I grateful to have learned and to have been guided to the very best habits of all, those for which we have all be designed: acts of worshipping Allah (subhana wa ta’ala – glorified and exalted be He).

With my bad habit, I was not in control of how much I practised my habitual act – I was always wanting more which led to slowly increasing my practice. Now that worship is my habit, am I always wanting more and looking for another opportunity to praise Him thereby inadvertently increasing my habit? I hope not. I know He is in control and I hope that I am encouraging the habit of worshipping on purpose. But, as I said, I know hope is not enough. Alhamdulillah, Ramadan is almost here again to help me put detox at the forefront of my intentions within a community of Muslims I can support and be supported by. I have learned that I need other people to succeed in my good habits and I do not want to neglect my relationships and connections in the Ummah (community of Islam).

It makes me happy to know that you are in this work with me of planning, counting down, looking forward to and then practising good deeds (inshaAllah). Let’s put down the tea and chocolate a minute, imagine the fragrance of Jannah (Paradise) as we breathe, make du’a for each other, and then look out for ourselves and each other as we navigate our deen (religious path) together .

Narrated AbuHurayrah: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: A man follows the religion of his friend; so each one should consider whom he makes his friend.

(Abudawoud Book 41, Hadith 4815)

Maria Limehouse knows personally that bad experiences often trigger bad habits and this compassionate empathy is one of the driving forces behind her healing stories and poetry on her blog

You can read Ayesha Yahya’s article about the Muslim Youth Helpline and ChildLine here

For tips on quitting smoking click here

Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5 based on 175 user reviews.

Shabana water bottle

As a young Muslimah born and bred in the West, Shabana Diouri soon came to realise that her ideals of the perfect Islamic lifestyle could sometimes be challenged by the demands of British life

My experience of the basic foundations of Islam was quite different from the way experiences were portrayed in the Islamic books I had read. This was particularly the case for fasting during the month of Ramadan.

More often than not, rather then enjoying the Ramadan experience of iftars (meals to break/open the fast after sunset) with the whole family gathered around the kitchen table, iftars were instead opened with friends, fellow students, or work colleagues outside the home.

Shabana dish datesI would give anything to have had that ideal scenario of the traditional family focussed Ramadan with three dates in each of our hands, asking each other whether the fast was now open. But in reality it was just simply not possible or practical to achieve this – especially during weekdays.

Life gets busy. We have to revise for exams. We must meet work deadlines. We need to be in so many different places at specific times in hectic life schedules. Gathering our siblings, and in many cases our parents too, everyday for a month at a specified time for iftar tends to get more and more difficult especially when iftar happens early in the winter months. Therefore, being British Muslimahs can eventually compel us to go in search of a life-faith balance that can make us feel like we are progressing on both dunya and akhirah bases.

Instead of feeling short-changed, I found it best to make the most of these special times. I utilised various ways to make the most of the baraqah (blessings) that could be earned in these blessed four weeks.

One of the most effective ways to balance Ramadan with a British lifestyle was being well prepared and super organised

Plan In Advance

Firstly, I found it useful to plan in advance exactly where and with who I would be breaking the fast. I did this every day, a quick text or phone call in the morning would suffice. I would come into work early so that I could then leave early. Sometimes there would be a mad dash home to open it with family members, or I would arrange to go to a childhood friend’s house, or have a restaurant meal with fellow colleagues if I was studying or working. I just felt it was very important to have company at iftar, even if it wasn’t always with family.

Carry Maghrib Essentials

Shabana water bottleSecondly, I always carried a packet of dates and a bottle of water with me just in case Maghrib time came whilst I was in transit to where I would be having my meal, or if I was running late – at least I would open my fast on time. I would also carry a pocket size Qur’an and mini prayer mat to keep up with my prayers and Qur’an connection as Ramadan is the month of Qur’an, but now we can also download apps to our phones for Adhan reminders and the Qur’an with translation or tafseer (exegesis). I would use my travelling time on the tube or bus to fit in this dhikr (remembrance of Allah) – especially when the journey would normally take an hour.

Narrated Salman ibn Amir: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: When one of you is fasting, he should break his fast with dates; but if he cannot get any, then (he should break his fast) with water, for water is purifying.

(Sunan Abu Dawood Book 13, Hadith 2348)

Give Quietly and Loudly

Thirdly, I would not pass up the opportunity to give da’wah. Both quietly and loudly. Quietly, in the sense that, regardless of my fasting it was business as usual. I didn’t ask for any special treatment or make a big fuss that I was fasting, I just got on with it and did not allow my standards to slip. This seemed to be the best da’wah of all; colleagues were fascinated and asked more questions about how I was managing to stay on the ball and be self disciplined despite the demands of fasting all day, especially without water(!). And also loudly in the sense that at work, with fellow Muslims, we organised an iftar event for non-Muslim colleagues and invited a well respected guest speaker to explain more about what Ramadan is and what it meant to Muslims. Once, we even invited colleagues to fast for the day and it was a great way to go on to share delicious food at the opening of the fast.

Organise Well, Including Sleep Time

Shabana fruit saladFinally, one of the most effective ways to balance Ramadan with a British lifestyle was being well prepared and super organised. This meant planning the day around prayer times, especially Fajr and Maghrib, and setting multiple alarms accordingly. Also adjusting sleep patterns to ensure I didn’t burn out and maybe take up a post-Dhuhr power nap as the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wasallam – may peace and blessings be upon him) used to do. Vitally, I spent some time after ‘Isha’ prayer to plan what I would be having for suhoor (the meal before a fast begins) and placing items out on the kitchen worktop so that I could easily get into gear when I woke up in the early hours. And then doing the same for iftar.

It helped hugely to keep meals simple and healthy. Considering how much the stomach shrinks, there is no need for elaborate dishes or large portions especially when food is not the focus of Ramadan.

In many ways, not having the traditional ideals of Ramadan I imprinted on my lifestyle actually aided me in discovering and unlocking the true meaning and potential of Ramadan….

Whilst many people were rushing around like crazy organising a daily banquet for iftar, I was quietly able to make du’a at that often ignored time just before Maghrib when the du’a of the fasting person is more likely to be answered. Because I was blessed with the freedom to make Ramadan the way I wanted it to be – I was free from pressures to follow a status quo – I was able to find the spiritual high that I was in pursuit of. Shabana plateOverall, I also found that surviving Ramadan in the West had more to do with the company I kept during my thirty day journey and furthermore had far more to do with the ‘feeding’ of the soul rather then the feeding of the stomach.

Narrated Abdullah ibn Umar: Marwan ibn Salim al-Muqaffa’ said: I saw Ibn Umar holding his bread with his hand and cutting what exceeded the handful of it. He (Ibn Umar) told that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said when he broke his fast: thirst has gone, the arteries are moist, and the reward is sure, if Allah wills. (Sunan Abu Dawood Book 13, Hadith 2350)

Shabana Diouri is an aspiring writer and poet with a strong affinity toward the issues of women in Islam and spiritual needs of the heart. She is a qualified Economist and Statistician whose career began in Whitehall. Currently she spends her time in Edinburgh as a freelance writer and engages in outreach work with the University of Edinburgh to encourage a deeper understanding of Islam and Muslim culture. She currently manages ‘Muslimah Uninterrupted’, her personal blog:http://muslimahuninterrupted.wordpress.com

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 196 user reviews.

Anna Reich dumbbells

In June 2013 Anna Reich got the best personal training job she could have wished for when three young girls from Jeddah in Saudi winged their way over to London to see the sights – and sweat buckets

I was contacted by the family’s assistant asking me to pitch ideas that would keep three girls active and entertained for five hours a day, five days per week. It sounds excessive, but it’s not really when you think about what our bodies were designed for, which is to run, swim, and jump from dusk till dawn. In addition, there’s a vast array of exercises to choose from (most of which don’t feel like a workout), so along with a good diet and plenty of snacks, I thought it was a very doable proposition. And, being a personal trainer, hopped to it.

Anna Reich womanThe girls’ father had become increasingly concerned about his girls’ weight gain and inactivity. Obesity among adolescents is a public health problem in Saudi Arabia, he told me, and particularly prevalent among girls.

Obesity is life restricting enough in its own right but it can lead to fatal illnesses such as diabetes, coronary problems and cancer too. I admired the father’s conviction to essentially fight this grim truth in such a dramatic and determined way.

I booked tennis courts, trampolining, zumba, wall climbing and pedalos as well as planned for exercising them in their home gym and in the park – equipping them with lifelong know how of how to stay fit and healthy no matter the financial or spacial constraints. That’s the wonderful thing about getting into training, making it a part of your life – it’s a life changing, life enhancing, everlasting education.

Anna Reich woman stretchingTo be honest, I was expecting to make a few faux pas as I wasn’t very au fait with their Muslim faith at the time. But I shouldn’t have been worried. The girls were sisters, like any other sisters – bickering constantly, ‘borrowing’ each other’s designer gear, and talking about One Direction, pretty much incessantly. As a sister myself, I understood! We discovered we had a lot in common, in fact. We loved the new Shakira song, preferred Nike as a sports brand and loved to sleep!

The elder’s sister’s attitude to sweating under the scarf was, “Well, I’ve worked harder than you guys!”

The one challenge we faced was that the elder sister was a lot more observant than the other girls and chose to wear a hijab, so when we would attend a fitness class, her headscarf would ‘make her head bake’ and when we would go for a run, we would stop frequently to retie the scarf (everyone was secretly grateful of this!). But we all had a giggle about it and took turns to create sound designs that could probably withstand a bungee jump – her sister secured it so tightly I’m sure it actually made the poor girl more aerodynamic! The elder’s sister’s attitude to sweating under the scarf was, “Well, I’ve worked harder than you guys!” Lovely, lovely girls.

Since the girls have left I have opened my own personal training studio in the heart of the City of London. It’s a beautiful space – red, black and silver … Brand new with second to none equipment.

In honour of these sweet, intelligent, thoughtful girls, wholly committed to friends, family and their faith, The Anna Reich Personal Training Studio in the City of London (EC4R 2SU) will be introducing a body conditioning class purely for Muslim women who would like to keep fit in an environment that honours their Islamic faith and their personal traditions of modesty.

Anna Reich stretchingFrom 2-3pm on Mondays and Wednesdays, I will work on all aspects of fitness from cardiovascular to strength and flexibility. The classes will be for an intimate six, costing £30 per head. The studio will be closed to all other persons during these hours and once the workout is done, there are individual private shower and changing room facilities available.

There is enough time and space in the world to allow people to maintain their differences (which keeps the world interesting), well, there is at my Studio anyway.

It is narrated on the authority of Anas that the Prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him) observed: By Him in whose Hand is my life, no bondsman (truly) believes till he likes for his neighbour, or he (the Holy Prophet) said: for his brother, whatever he likes for himself.

Sahih Muslim Book 1, Hadith 73

Anna Reich can be contacted by readers who are interested in attending any of her classes via info@annareichpt.co.uk; her website is www.annareichpt.co.uk

Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 198 user reviews.

Elizabeth Lymer sorry repeated

When Elizabeth Lymer was young she often wrote sorry notes, either in place of, or as openings for, giving verbal apologies. Recently she found herself compelled to use this method of apology again, in an email to someone she was working with on a project but had never met

Elizabeth Lymer lettersI wrote my apology poem at night, unable to contemplate sleep until I had tried to follow my mistakes with an attempt at doing something good. I had inadvertently offended my sister in Islam. My intentions had been good – Allah knows best – but I had not taken good care over my actions: I had rushed and therefore had neither spent long enough in my sister’s shoes to understand her position nor very long on forming my own words into a thoughtful enquiry about what I didn’t understand.

Elizabeth Lymer sorryAlhamdulillah after receiving my poem the sister forgave me and Allah granted me a learning experience through my mistakes, in addition to the enormous blessing of being guided to tearful, heartfelt repentance to Him in salah.

Here is the untitled poem I sent:

Just a matter of hours ago

You and I were connected

By words of harmony

That bridge religions.

Just a matter of hours ago

You and I stood together

In the face of religion-inspired bullying

In our childhoods –

Yours far worse than mine.

Just a matter of hours ago

We shared a page.

But then a matter of words

Came between us.

New words piled on top of

Our old ones.

Breaking, crushing, splitting

Our words of harmony and connection

And our hearts.

I threw the first new

And unwanted word.

Let me try to

Mend our brokenness.

Let me tell you again

That I’m sorry I hurt you,

Hurried over you,

Pressed your words

With new ones

To breaking point.

I’m sorry I didn’t even

Take the time to keep

Sensitive to your vulnerability

Around your words,

Your poem, your past,

That I hurried over you,

And pressed your words

To breaking point.

I’m sorry.

A matter of broken words and hearts may

Not be fixable with words,

But my heart longs to try,

And age-old words of sorry are all I have

To give you to ask to take my new words away.

xxx

Kind speech and forgiveness are better than charity followed by injury. And Allah is Free of need and Forbearing.

The Qur’an, Surah Al-Baqarah (Chapter of the cow) 2:263

Elizabeth Lymer is author of Islamic Nursery Rhymes and regularly shares rhyming poetry for young families on her blog, including rhymes for saying sorry. She is Editor of Young Muslimah Magazine and is looking forward to receiving submissions for the ‘I Love Manners’ series inshaAllah http://www.youngmuslimahmagazine.com/submissions

Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 based on 240 user reviews.

flower-meadow-260301_150

Summer can be a really perfect time to reconnect with nature. Wardah Abbas provides tips for a fun-filled holiday during this season in the greenest ways

It’s summer! No more School assignments for now, so we’ve got enough time for our premier league on play station.”

I saw the excitement on the face of my fourteen year-old cousin as he accompanied his friends who had come visiting, down the stairs. Having listened attentively to their conversation, I couldn’t help but conclude that as the world grows older, the more technologically advanced we become but unfortunately, it further widens the gap between nature and us.

I remember my days as a kid and also in my early adolescent years when, even though we had no idea of what eco-consciousness meant, our summer activities revolved around nature. We engaged ourselves in summer camps, picnics, sporting activities and lots more. We spent quality time running around at the beach barefoot and care free, building sand castles, catching fire flies and climbing trees. This reminiscence comes with a sweet nostalgia that makes me conscious of the sharp contrast between then and now when teenagers spend more time wrapped up in video games, social networking and computer programs. I must say it’s time for a big change.Wardah Abbas sea

Apart from the fact that when we green up our summer activities, we bring ourselves closer to nature which could earn us rewards from Allah (SWT) with the right intentions, it also boosts our physical and mental wellness. Here are just a few tips for enjoying a green summer:

1. ORGANISE REGULAR ACTIVE OUTINGS

bike-213691_150You can initiate active outings with your family or a group of friends. This could either be a weekend picnic on a beach or in a park or a camping trip. You may also go on sensory walks, horse riding, hiking trips or make neighbourhood bike rides as well as explore some of the wildlife habitats around you. While doing this, you may seize the opportunity to make environmental videos, especially if you’re the type that cannot stand the thought of leaving your gadgets at home. This is a fun activity that puts your creativity, organisation and research skills to test. You may then edit the video and share with your family and friends.

2. ORGANISE NATURE HUNTS earth-158838_150

While you’re out camping with your family and friends either in the woods or in a park, it would be fun to organise a treasure hunt by searching for some rare natural things and exploring more about nature. Prepare a checklist of insects, plants, birds, trees or flowers that you’ve hardly come across to keep you focussed. To make it more competitive, contribute to buying a gift for whoever amongst you wins the treasure hunt. Before you set out on this adventure, be sure to pack along sun glasses, water bottles, bug spray, video cameras as well as a small first-aid kit. Trust me, this can really make your summer more memorable than you’ve ever imagined.

3. ORGANISE FUN-FILLED OUTDOOR GAMES WITH YOUR NEIGHBOURS

Wardash Abbas ballIn case you do not get the opportunity to go on weekend camping or any other summer holiday activity of your choice, you still have outdoors as an option. Look out for a spacious field in your neighbourhood and invite your neighbours on a weekend for outdoor games organised by you. Try out activities such as skipping, table-tennis, freeze tags or shadow tags, base balls or kick balls, hide and seek, four square, kite flying and lots more. You may also inculcate environmental quizzes into this activity to add an intellectual flavour to it. Make a video of this and get it across to your neighbours. This will sure make you feel like a kid once again and you are not just going to enjoy it, it will also help strengthen the relationship between you and your neighbours.

4. CREATE A NATURE FOCUSSED BOOK CLUB

Wardah Abbas bookYou may take advantage of the summer to encourage a love for reading and nature amongst your family or friends by organising a nature focussed book club. Visit your local library to find books on renewable energy, climate change, wildlife and a host of other topics. Hold weekly meetings outdoors in a park or in a garden and spend time discussing what you have read and how to inculcate the ideas into your lifestyles. If possible, consider taking field trips to natural sites that you came across in the books. This would boost your environmental consciousness and mental health as well as create a stronger bond between you and your family or friends.

Wardah Abbas footprints sandSummer comes only once in a year, so don’t lose out on the fun by staying indoors on the couch, playing video games, or sitting in front of your computer screen all through. Set out, run around, have fun and fall head over heels in love with nature. The experience can keep you motivated for the rest of the year.

And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and to Allah is the destination.

The Qur’an, Surah An-Noor (Chapter of the light) 24:42

Wardah Abbas is a twenty something year old Eco-Muslimah who is quick to express her feelings. She gives priority to creating a friendly environment and likes to enjoy herself to the fullest. When Wardah is not writing, volunteering at an event or hanging out with friends, she can be found in front of the mirror trying out new make-up techniques. Find her blogging on therosespen.wordpress.com


Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5 based on 259 user reviews.