The Brothers

There was a once a successful farmer who needed to travel to a far away land to buy a new crop. Before he left he called his two sons and said, “my dear sons, I am getting ready for a long journey I want you to take care of my farm. Each one will be in charge of an area.” And with that, he left on his journey.

image

While away the sons took charge of the farm. Mohammad and Ahmed both had a schedule to follow that their dad had handed to them. It stated the time to water and harvest the plants and they both worked diligently to make their father proud.

Mohammad was very precise with the schedule, he watered the plants every other day, weeded once every two weeks and harvested every month as stated in the plan. He sold the fruits to the market on every 10th day of the month.

Ahmed was very hardworking too. He took care of his side and after following the schedule his dad had left him, he harvested 100 fruits during the first month.

Ahmed knew that if he made changes he would be able to be more successful with his plants. So he decided to change the plan in order to harvest more. Ahmed watered his plants everyday and weeded every week. He became so excited when the fruits of the first harvest came earlier than before and was able to sell 150 fruits on the 1st of the month instead of the 10th.

Ahmed had found a method that was better and that produced faster results but as the second harvesting period approached the fruits werent sellable. The merchants complained that his fruits had become tasteless.

Ahmed had a hard time selling his fruits and he ended up selling them at a loss. He also noticed that his plants were getting weak and were tilting to one side. He decided to put in even more work in hopes that he could save the plants. He readded fertilizer and watered them twice a day.

After a few weeks the father came back and went around his farm to look at the state of his plants.

While having dinner he sat with his sons and said. “My dear sons, I see that you both have put a lot of effort in taking care of the plants. Mohammad you did as you were told and you patiently waited for the harvest.
Ahmed you added extra work and stayed up day and night taking care of the plants. You showed resilience and perseverance”.

Ahmed told his dad he couldn’t understand how by adding more work he was not successful in his harvest, “I did everything extra that I could” he reflected.

“My dear Ahmed, patience is a virtue, but learning when to use it is an essential skill. Many times when you overdo things and you think that you are exerting a form of patience by giving up your sleep and your free time, you really end up harming your cause. Imagine if one of your employees came to ask you for a raise in his pay and even though you tell him to give you some time to think about it and find a way to restructure your finances, he keeps nagging at you every time he sees you. How would you react to him?”

“I would ignore him and not try to help him” said Ahmed.

“Precisely, Instead of allowing you the chance to consider his request, he would most likely make you shove his request to the side. But if he was patient, and gave you a chance to think about it you probably would have found a way.

My dear son, when you gave up your time to water the plants and your sleep to weed and harvest them, what seems like a noble thing to do isn’t in the best interest of your plants. They overworked for a while, then they gave up because they couldn’t keep up with your requests and demands.

The reason Mohammad’s plants did well was because he waited and gave them what they needed when they needed it.”

Ahmed reflected on what his dad was teaching him. Although he had put in a lot of effort, persevered and had the best interest of the farm, all the plants needed was some space to grow slowly but surely.

Advertisements

Damaged?

If I was to have met my 6 years younger self , I would have so much to say.

To begin with, damage happens but only if you allow it to. There are many people who let go of life and live like the coccon of a caterpillar. Instead of embracing their wings after the break has happened, they give up, find no purpose and are too afraid to face the challenges of regrouping and remodelling of themselves that lies ahead.

As human beings we have the ability of being far too resilient to be damaged, however there are struggles that change us forever.

When I look back at all the stories and inspiration I gained over the years, I think of Mandela who defied physical torture, he taught me that no one has control over you except in what you allow them to have.

I think of Malala who defied all forms of societal limitations to be and get to where she wants to be.

Gaborey Sidebe who defied negativity and cyber bullying with this comment “‘To people making mean comments about my GG pics, I mos def cried about it on that private jet on my way to my dream job last night.”, she taught me to focus on the positive and not to hand those who want to pull us down a chance to do so by feeling like we owe them an explanation or am apology of who we truly are. That if one is determined to think ill of you, no amount of talking and explaining will fix their negativity towards you.

Life happens, shit happens and you never become the person you used to be. A part of you gets chipped away in the cruelest and unexpected way – no one ever chooses to have a part of themselves chipped willingly.

image

Unfortunately, sometimes the closest to you don’t understand and you might find yourself in a constant battle with them trying to explain the scars that you bear which have changed you and which make you weary of every action and step you take.

I would tell my younger self not to worry because I got myself covered by the will of Allah. That 6 years later I am still healing, hurting and growing, and that is because I chose the journey of resilience.

That some days would feel like the world is on top of my shoulders but through the struggle there is satisfaction in knowing that I am not not giving up the fight. That I am not damaged goods nor do I need fixing, all I need is spritual and emotional growth.

So to all my friends who think they are damaged and unfixable, do not give up the battle of self reclamation.

Live, grow and be who you want to be even though it will take you a long time to get there. With every right step, there might be two miss-takes. But if you don’t give up and you keep taking that one step in the right direction, is one step closer to being your best self.

Creating harmony in our homes

Once I walked into a house and found a child crying hysterically and complaining to his mother in between sobs “Ahmed hit me!” the child said, immediately the mother went to get a belt and out of anger she hit Ahmed and said “don’t you ever hit your brother again, why can’t you be kind to him? You should control your anger, you are the older one!”.

The younger child had wiped away his tears as he watched his older brother being punished, a sight of triumph could easily be noticed on his face. Ahmed on the other hand was now hysterically crying in the corner of the room.

As I watched, I noticed so many contradictions in what the mother was saying and doing. She preached through her words that Ahmed should be kind to his brother because he is older and also that he shouldn’t harm his brother. However in her approach the mother was doing the exact opposite. She was being harsh, she was reacting to anger and she harmed her son.

We often preach that actions are louder than words then go against our own mantra.

Another time, I visited a friend and when I walked into their house, I noticed that they had three words on the wall in their living room. They were made of glass and they shone beautifully grabbing the attention of whoever was to be in that room. As I sat, I stared at the wall for a while and understood why this family was in such harmony. The words read “love”, “mercy” and “peace” and a smile stretched on my lips as I remembered the verse of the Almighty:

And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.”

This family preached their philosophy and reminded each other each day about what was most important to their family. It made me wonder, how often do families know what their principles are?

I have met numerous families that sit with their children and talk about what the important characters that matter to them are. It is helpful as a family to talk about the five top characteristics you would like to see from each other.

Parenting is meant to be enjoyable. Children and money are the blessings of Allah but we often walk around talking about what a great burden our children are to us. It always helps to have a little more knowledge on the area of parenting and talking to people who could give us ideas on how to practically parent positively.

Here are some things that you could start to consider when parenting or living:

1. Reprimand the behavior not the person.

“You are such a bad child” does very little in helping a child improve, in fact it would probably be a reason to suck out self-confidence and esteem from children. A more harmonious approach would be to highlight the action that is not accepted for instance, “Muhammad, the word that you just used was not appropriate.”

2. Build bridges, do not burn them

It is important to make leave a door open for our children to know that they are welcomed back. “Don’t talk to me” or “I don’t want to see you right now” teaches children very little about what to do when something has gone wrong. Consider using lines such as “I am upset right now, you can talk to me after five minutes”.

3. Focus on the solution, not on the problem

Asking why a child broke a mug will not particularly help us resolve anything. Instead of being dwellers of the mistakes our children make, let us teach them problem- solving skills. “Would you please clean-up?” or questions such as “What do you think you could do differently next time?” makes them think about their actions and think about ways to improve them

4. Create harmony between siblings

Create an environment that is free of competitions “who will finish first” and “who is the better person” clearly makes a child feel like one is better than the other.

Creating a harmonious environment is about teaching children that we are all in the same boat and that we need each other to get to our destination. It is about instilling admiration, love and mercy between them. Once you have the setup right, the other pieces of the puzzle fall into place. Competitions might get your child to complete the food faster but it breaks the relationships between siblings by making them feel like one is better and more loved by the parent than the other.

5. Create independent children and problem solvers.

Instead of acting like the judge that would condemn one as the oppressor and the other as the oppressed, consider throwing the ball back at the court during sibling fights. Part of teaching them how to solve problems and getting them to be better siblings to each other and better human beings is instilling problem solving skills.

It’s always helpful to throw back the ball on the children’s court and let them figure things out by giving them guidelines such as.

  • You two have to speak to each other
  • No one is allowed to raise their voices
  • Both parties have to come out of this being satisfied
  • The better person is the person who is easy during arguments and looks for solutions to problems.

You could also explain to them the benefit and consequence of not resolving their problems. “If you cannot decide who plays next on the play station, I will take it away until you can learn how to play without fighting.”

6. We are friends who work in harmony not rivals

A mistake we often fall in to create so much hate between siblings is that of comparison. Instead of “Amer is so much better than you in math and look at Amin he can easily go up to the shopkeeper and ask for what he wants”,

“Amer is really good at solving math problems would you like to learn from him?” and “Amin is really good at speaking to the shopkeeper do you want to go with him so he can talk?” Each child has a unique character and as parents we are to highlight it to them and to their siblings so that we all know that we all fit together and work together to create harmony in our homes.

7. Be the change you want to see in your child

There is no use preaching what you do not put into action. Walk the talk. If you expect your child to know how to ask for forgiveness when he has done a mistake, be the first one to ask for forgiveness when you as a parent have gone wrong. Teach children that we are humans and no matter how “big” we are, we still have humility and we still believe they are important.

 

The Prophet SalaAllahu alaihi wa sallam lived by his quote: “The best of you are those who are best to their families, and I am the best of you to my family.” (Tirmidhi, Sahih)

A Fairy story

I was born into this world, and when I opened my ears I heard them calling me princess. I didn’t know what this meant, but I started noticing the patterns. They clad me in the prettiest frills and I was protected from every fall. My tears were precious, my demands were answered, and I was the delicate joy of the house. Being a girl was the best gift I could have received.

They bought me doll houses, kitchen sets, and even a plastic iron to iron out my doll dresses. I had a dozen dolls that I taught each day. The best was when I could put on make-up, my prettiest dress, and high heels and walk around my room feeling like a grown-up. I made the best soups using water and soil and had teatime parties with my imaginary friends.

When I played with my cousins, they would use a black pen to make henna designs on my hands, and they would use the juice of crushed red petals to redden my lips. They would pluck jasmines to put in my hair and other flowers to place as rings in between my fingers. They would then cover my face with a thin white cloth, and I would pretend to be the shyest bride. Role-playing was always fun.

I grew up loving my place in this world. I was a caretaker and a mother, but best of all, I was a princess. I loved my floor-length dresses that flowed behind me. I loved acting like I was breastfeeding my baby doll, and cooking was my hobby.

My brother was my protector when we were out. He would be the one to buy candy on his way back from the mosque, and he would be the one to carry all the heavy bags on our way back home after shopping. I always felt safe when I walked by his side.

My dad had warm arms that cuddled me and big muscles I would boast about to my friends. “My dad is stronger than your dad,” was what we would compete about. Whatever I laid my eyes on, my dad made sure to bring it into my hands. He was my caretaker, the one that made my dreams come true.

Then I grew older and went to school. On my second day at school, I cried because I hated it there. My teachers were cruel to me and did not treat me royally; what I was used to. Didn’t they realize that I was a princess? They made me cry when I did not complete my homework and pinched my ears when I misspelled words. Reality started hitting me. I was not a princess in the real big world.

I came to age and they forced me to cover up. I was pushed behind closed doors and was banned from playing in the parks. “The boys will see,” they said. My world started getting claustrophobic. Why am I being hidden? Am I not the precious princess they want to show off anymore?

They sent me to college and made sure to remind me of the great privilege I had. “Look at the girls around you cooking and cleaning, you are lucky we are sending you to study further. But remember, as soon as your knight arrives, your first duty would be to serve him.” And so I studied knowing this would be temporary, and whenever I felt like my performance was poor, I knew there was going to be an outlet. My knight in shining armour was surely going to come save me during my weakest moments.

The day arrived for me to be introduced to my prince. I was a princess all over again. My family fulfilled all my childhood dreams. I had my gown. My hair was put up and I carried the best selection of roses. My family and friends congratulated me as though getting married was a big accomplishment. I was confused. I knew I had not worked for this, that this marriage was blind and arranged. Was I being congratulated because someone noticed my existence and decided to propose? Was it indeed a privilege to get married because so many others had not been noticed?

On my wedding night, I left with my groom, but I did not feel comfortable with him. How was I to live with a man that I had never gotten to know? Our problems stemmed from having different gender role expectations. I needed to be cheery, pimped, and cooking or cleaning every moment of my day, and he get to cross his feet on the coffee table and watch all the TV he could possibly fit in a day. He was the master, and I was the slave. Along with that, I needed to start working so that I could provide for the family. My husband said we could not survive on one income, and since I had a certificate, I needed to work.

I got pregnant but I was also the more reliable breadwinner of the family. Due to his lack of commitment to his work, he got laid off. Our relationship only got worse as I was expected to give, but I was not receiving anything but commands and demands. After a year, we decided to end the marriage. I walked back home with a baby in my arms and a heart that was bleeding from all sides.

I had to go to work to provide for my son’s education, I needed him to get what he would need in his life. I put away all my gowns and opted for pants under my abaya to protect me when I had to board the busses to get to work. I put away all my baking utensils and opted for fast food as I was always on the run.

I needed to perform at work so that I could secure my job and my son’s future. I spent just as much time as the men in the company but I was paid less because I was a woman and I “didn’t have to support my family”. When I spoke up for my rights and explained that I was a single mother, I was shoved aside and conveniently branded a feminist because we know God forbid you stand up for your rights… When I kept quiet and let my pain flow in the form of tears, I was asked if I was hormonal.

Many ask why I chose a career, but I explain to them that I had no choice but to go out and work so that I can provide for myself and my child. I had been taught that my place was in the palace where I nurtured, loved, and provided warmth for my prince and kids. The picture I had painted on my canvas throughout my young years was only a dream that I now hope to be fulfilled in Jannah.

Where are you the men of my ummah? Where are you the likes of my father, the caretaker, and my brother, the protector?

I was blindly pushed into this unexpected world and you wonder why I have become outspoken? You have let me down, and I have to pick up the slack.

When you look at me and see a strong and independent woman, I hope you realize that this woman has deep fears and shattered dreams. When you feel like I intimidate you because I know what I want in life, know that having dealt with a person of your likeness has pushed me to be decisive.

When you wonder why I have this great urge to save the world, know that I watched mine slip away from my grip and I took up the task to create a better future: if not for me, then at least for the other girls and women around me.

Relying on Allah

 Most times in our lives, we come to a point where we are made to look at things and make a choice either to hold on to something that means a lot to us or let it go, or as Shakespeare said “to be be or not to be, that is the question”. In such situations, people resort to different modes and means of making that hard but crucial decision, some will go to some crystal ball gazer, others will visit a tarot card reader others will go to a bone thrower the most naive will put it down on bits of papers then fold them and try pick a choice while others will pluck a petal from a flower for each option alternatively. As muslims, Allah and his messenger gave us a complete guide on how to live our entire lives and what life will throw at us as well. Allah says in the glorious Quran, “…………And when you have decided then rely upon Allah, indeed Allah loves those who rely upon him” (Quran 3:159based on this ayah, it is clear to us that first and foremost, we should have a clear idea in our heads of what we want then after that we turn to Allah to guide us on the selected path.

Mankind is made in a manner that he always wants, things which are good for him and sometimes even those that are not good for him. When it comes to holding on or letting go, its an issue of two choices that require proper analysis of the situation at hand, Allah says ……..But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not” (Quran 2:216)  with this in mind, it becomes clear that mankind is not aware of anything except that which is apparent to him, and that is why Allah made it that after making your decision then you turn to Him for further guidance, if its khair he will bless it for you. Most of us make the mistake of trusting our decision making to the extent we leave out Allah in the process or some say i rely on Allah then they sit back and do nothing of their situation, The prophet may peace be upon him ((in a hadeeth in the book of Tirmidhi narration #2517)) once told a bedouin who had let his camel lose and when asked he said, i rely on Allah, the messenger of Allah told him “Tie your camel first then put your trust in Allah”

Let us not be rash in our decisions making, hold on to something if it seems worthwhile and let go if you don’t think its worth it, Allah says, ………it may be that you dislike a thing and Allah brings through it a great deal of good” (Quran 4:19). but at the end of the day, after you make your decision and then let it in Allah’s hands, then be prepared for either results and be grateful to him as the messenger peace be upon him says ((in a haddeth in the book of muslim narration 2999)) “How wonderful is the affair of the believer, for his affairs are all good, and this applies to no one but the believer. If something good happens to him, he is thankful for it and that is good for him. If something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience and that is good for him” 

“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t” (Steve Maraboli)

 

I forgive you

“Listen, I’ve done awful things to you”. She moved closer and went on “I am sorry for making you doubt and hate yourself”. Tears started welling up in Hasina’s eyes till they blocked her vision. She lowered her head and allowed the tears to flow uncontrollably, her shoulders shook and she placed her hands over her eyes, she was simply inconsolable.

Hasina reached out to pull a sheet of tissue from the box on the side table on her right. She dabbed away the tears and wet mucous that was starting to fall down her nose. She composed herself once again and went on.

“I knew things were not working for you but I made you keep going. I forced you to stand this man that was really worthless and I made you believe that all that he said to you and about you was true. I am so sorry”

“What was worse was that I made you think that you deserved the physical abuse from him. I made you think that he was right for doing that to you.” With that, Hassina now started wailing, she covered her face with new sheets of tissue and she weeped for a few minutes before she raised her head and took a deep breath. Once she felt like she was in control Hassina turned to her therapist and said “I think I’m done”.

Bonnie, her therapist uncrossed her leg bent closer to her and said in the most gentle tone, “I think you are really brave, you have owned up to your mistakes and you are allowing the emotions to flow. Now I want you to get up from your seat and sit on the other seat and imagine what your weaker self felt back then. What would you have to tell this self of yours that was pushy, hurtful and not understanding after hearing that?”

Hasina got up from her seat and sat on the empty chair that she had been envisioning as her weaker self. When her bum hit the wooden chair, she sat up feeling very uneasy. She took a deep breath and impersonated her 10 years younger self. She took another deep breath and let her shoulders hang to bring back the feeling of defeat and hopelessness she had back then.

“Yes Hasina, I want you to build up the anger and imagine how you felt when you used to feel the way you did, what would you like to tell your aggressive self?” Said Bonnie.

Hasina stared into the empty space and took a deep breath. She clenched her fists and bit her lower lip. “I forgive you”, was what she was able to say and as soon as that happened, a wide smile filled her face.

Bonnie was so happy with the outcome, this was her first session doing chair therapy and it felt like a success. “Go on, hug yourself, I think you would have liked that”.

Hasina placed her hands on her opposite shoulders and embraced herself tightly and swung gently from left to right. She finally felt a sense of relief, she knew she was getting closer to self forgiveness and self acceptance.

One baby step at a time, she was on her way to self healing.

Carpe Diem!

image

So what is the cloud, the silver lining and the gold?

Life is one big struggle after another and as long as we live expecting the storms and waves to completely stop, we shall remain deceived.

If the cloud stands for our lives, and the silver linings stand for the little breathers we have and the gold is far fetched, I feel like there are small little details that are missing from the picture.
The cloud must mean the things we do daily such as waking up, working and talking. The silver linings must be the small things that touch our hearts such as a smile, a connection and a hug. These are important things happening in our daily life that keep us going.

What I think we are missing in this picture is the rain and lightening, this happens during our lives when things are just simply in havoc. Many times its just temporary and we need to understand that the storm passes.

The gold must be the gold pot that is found at the end of a rainbow that is where we find our big triumphs and successes. The rainbow is not guaranteed but when it shows up it does so after all the rain and lightening has happend.

Does gold exist in our lives? It surely does! But its the silver lining that gives us the strength to get there. So my dear friends someone rightly wrote today..

“Carpe diem! Too many people miss the silver lining because they’re expecting gold.”

I would change it to, keep your head up and notice the silver lining while you aim for the gold.

So what are you waiting for? Seize the day!

Time for ownership

During our therapy sessions, when we find that a person can not figure out where the problem comes from, we do a regression to a past experience, and the pain is profound in our clients when they realize what little secret/pain they were keeping and not letting go off and a lot of times they don’t even consciously remember the incident. I myself have experienced this and I can tell you the memories come back so realistically as though they were happening at that instance.

You might think that by hurting your child in seclusion or isolation will be forgotten. Your child might not speak up about the pain you have inflicted him/her – Mind you, no child deserves pain of any sort however bad the incident- but the memories never go and the effects of the injustice, fear and pain you have inflicted will surface in one way or another in their personalities.

The mind never forgets and the emotions never lie. You might be wondering years later why your child behaves in a certain manner but you have to realize that you probably played a role in them turning out as they did.

Yes as parents we all make mistakes and mess up, just do not for a second think that the moment you smile at them that the pain would you have inflicted will be gone.

Be brave to own up to your mistakes so that your child can release the pain and not have it affect him/her with time.

Let’s be conscious parents.

We are meeting really messed up adults because of the pains endured during childhood. Go hug your child today and own up to a mistake you did and apologize for it without giving reasons for why s/he deserved that treatment.

Spread some love, there is already too much hate in this world.

With love,
Mufy ❤

The Three Winners

image

As the Chapel Hill shooting story unfolded, I was heartbroken at the thought of the murder of these three young people. As an outsider I did not know what to take from it but within a few hours I felt like I was part of this mission and as though I am an insider.

I am so inspired by these three souls. Imagine the kind of amazing parents they have that have the ability to say “do not fight fire with fire”. These parents who had just lost their children were so graceful that it gave me -the outsider- the peace I needed to accept the situation.

I went through any and every piece of information about them and my heart just kept melting. I have re-watched videos and looked at their photos and I see happy and engaged people. People who lived in the moment and were proudly Muslim and that showed in every photo and story I read.

However, I do not feel grief, in fact I feel elated to see the contributions these young people had already accomplished.

A new life of marriage, a new endeavor to go help the Syrian refugees in Turkey and a new admission to university. I would wish to go at a time like that- having been fulfilled in my life and not angry or bitter about anyone or anything. After seeing what they have done, I am certain that I am not ready to go yet.

The Three Winners have left behind many more winners. I am amazed by the families’ grace and pride in their identity. So many lessons to take here.

I watched every news press and the messages that came from their siblings and I found them all to be so wise with choice of words and actions.

They preached peace, reconciliation and only highlighted the good that has come out of this and what stuck out most is the pride they had in their identity and how well they expressed it. These amazing people spoke about faith, paradise and matrydom on national tv without thinning it down for the viewers to comprehend.

We have seen America mourn for the loss of lives, this was the first time we saw them mourn Muslim lives in an Islamic way. This was amazing to see without doubt.

This incident has just simply given me so much insight on what Islam truly means in action.

I vow to not leave this world till I have touched the hearts of people that have lost hope and to be an agent of positivity.
Let us sing lyrics of their beauty so the angels and Lord can elevate their statuses further.

When a person has a beautiful soul, you can tell by the way they are remembered after they are gone. Beautiful people.

I feel so inspired by them. I want to live my life so that when I die people are so sure about my path with regards to my beliefs, humanity and life. So young, yet so focused, so full. They are so beautiful.

May peace and reconciliation descend on their grieving family and friends.

Taking strength from the Deah, Yousr and Razan.