This is Love

(Photo credit: Amirah)

 

I think of you

Every time I open my eyes

When the moon still shines bright

When I wash my face to wake me up

And when I stand on the prayer mat

 

I think of you

 

Every time the sun rises

When the birds serenade outside my window

When I pick out the clothes I want to wear for the day

And when I look in the mirror before rushing out the door

 

I think of you

 

Every time I pass the river

When the birds fly up ahead across the expanse of the skies

When my eyes are lowered as I read a book

And when I discover something new

 

I think of you

 

Everytime I talk to people

When I’m eating my favourite meal

When my mind wonders as I wash the dishes

And when I’m writing poetry

 

I think of you

 

Every time I smile

And when tears run down my cheeks

When I’m taking a decision  

And when I need someone to talk to

 

I think of you

 

Every time I close my eyes

When I rest my head on my pillow

When I tuck my hand under my cheek

And when a prayer escapes my lips

 

I think of you

 

Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding.

Who remember Allah while standing or sitting or [lying] on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth, [saying], “Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You [above such a thing]; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire. (Quran, 3:190-191)

 

Advertisements

Writing Tips: One Simple Trick For Finding Inspiration Every Day

Writing is a great way to express ourselves and to communicate with others. It is a beautiful way to record memories and to learn from our everyday experiences. But what is the spark that ignites the flaming inspiration to guide our pens (or keyboards)? What do we do when our minds are shrivelled up like a wrinkled petal, drained of ideas or when we simply…don’t have anything interesting to write?

My mind is usually a whirlwind of thoughts twisted, tangled and turned in odd ways. However, when it comes to writing down something, or attempting to write down something, there are times when I get stuck and ask myself, now what do I write about?

In the past, this was a quite a big struggle for me, but as I grew older, as I experienced more and saw more and learned more and felt more, I found that I actually have a lot more to say than I had previously thought.

What is the one trick up my sleeve when it comes to my writing inspiration?  Simply this: gratitude. What? Gratitude.

Now let me explain. This world is filled with thousands and thousands and thousands of things, people, sounds, emotions, and ideas. Each and every creature, and each and every creation has been created by God the Almighty for a purpose. Our lives are constantly busy, with an overload of information and responsibilities so when our eyes pass these thousands of things, they pass them as insignificant. In other words, we take them for granted.

That’s the exact moment where a writer’s eye comes into good use because a writer will see a tree and will form a story about how the baby seeds separated from their mother and how they twirled in the wind until they landed next to a wooden cottage and how this little seedling grew, using its energy storage to start a good life. A writer will see a little girl’s hand grip a steel watering can to water the muddy green ground with a man carrying weather worn skin and a creased smile. A writer will see this little girl grow up under this tree, climbing up to sit on a sturdy branch , playing hide and seek with her little brother, covering her ears as the little boy squeals in excitement, his voice being carried in the wind until it is no louder than a whisper on the other side of the woods.

Here’s the thing, I’ve never grown up in the woods before. I have personally lived in an area surrounded by a sandy desert for a good number of years. The only scenery surrounding me was sand. I looked out my bedroom window: sand. I looked out my car window: sand. Yes, there were plenty of modern buildings and the occasional roundabouts with heavily irrigated grass, but that was an ant compared to the place I had come from. Ouch. Speaking about ants, ants from the desert are poisonous, not to mention excruciating. See how my mind can wander? Now back to the point. I used to complain about how sand was all I saw everywhere, every day. Until one day, I looked out the car window on my way to school. The sun had just awoken and was slowly beginning to rise. It’s yawning rays stretched happily onto the heaps of dry desert soil. The transformation was spellbinding. The desert was set aflame with sweltering oranges, smouldering golds, and blazing browns. Jewel dust shimmered before my eyes. That’s when the real transformation happened. I realised just how exquisite the desert- the dry, old, dusty desert- really was.

I am grateful for the deserts in my life, the smooth ones and the scorching ones. I am grateful for every tinkling of bliss and every rapture of pain. I am grateful, and so I write.

Written with love,

Fatima

P.S This piece was first published in June 2016, more than two years of writing experience later, gratitude truly remains the factor that transforms my writing and the way I view the world every day. What are you grateful for? I’ve included a list of gratitude prompts and examples to help you out.

GRATITUDE PROMPTS:

THE BEAUTY OF NOW: Take a moment to pause, put everything around you aside, and just breathe. Breathe in. Breathe out. Your lungs take in air and oxygen flows to your brain. Your heart beats. What are you grateful for in this very moment?

THE BEAUTY OF THE PAST: Think about your week. It might have been a very busy one, filled with deadlines and appointments. Was there anything you learned or experienced? Did you meet anyone new? How do you feel about your week? Do you feel relieved that you survived it? Think about the kind of person you are right now. What are you proud of? Have your past experiences shaped you as a person? What are you grateful for in your past?

THE BEAUTY OF THE FUTURE: What are you looking forward to in the near future? For me, it’s having a delicious breakfast with my friends. What about your dreams and goals? For me, I don’t only look forward to having a delicious breakfast because my stomach is beginning to rumble. I also look forward to it because having a healthy, delicious breakfast with my friends ties into my values to take care of my health and strengthen my relationships with other fellow human beings. This helps me to achieve one of my dreams which is to inspire individuals, families and communities to help each other to become the best versions of the themselves on the inside and out- physically, spiritually and mentally.  There are so many possibilities in front of you. Every day is a blank canvas. What are you excited about?

THE BEAUTY OF YOU: Think of your eyes. They have met so many beautiful people and have have seen so many beautiful things. They have hidden so many secrets and expressed so many emotions. They have lit up with excitement and widened in surprise. They have shed so many warm tears. Think of your tongue. It has said so many beautiful words and tasted so many scrumptious foods. Think of your lips. You’ve made so many people happy with your smile. You have so many abilities, talents and capabilities. What qualities about yourself are grateful for?

THE BEAUTY OF THE WORLD AROUND YOU:

Think about the world around you. The people, the places, the sounds, the smells, the contrast. There is insecurity and there is safety. There is war and there is peace. There sadness and there is happiness. There are deserts and there are fields. There is evil and there is good. Would you know that you are happy if you never felt sad? Look out your window. What are you grateful for in the world you live in?

THE BEAUTY OF REALITY:

Life isn’t always easy and it isn’t always fun. But through the tests of life we learn and grow and find ourselves. What are you grateful for in the reality you live in? How has this reality shaped you as a person? Have you learned anything new about yourself? What are you grateful for in your life?

Suggested activity: Try asking these prompt questions to your friends and family. You might be surprised what they have to say. 

Have We not made for him two eyes?

And a tongue and two lips? (Quran, 90: 8-9) 


Adobe Spark (5)

Keep up to date with writing tips by following/ subscribing to Thoughts From My Heart blog!


























There Is A Light

[Captured above: the sunset on the tea plantations on my trip to Malawi]

Tuesday, February 26 2019

2:28 am: I woke up to the moon smiling at me. My heart beat faster as I remembered the Creator of this moon, and strangely, the sight reminded me of death. I quickly got up and made ablution. Now an hour later, I sit on my bed next to my window. The night is still. The air is crisp. And the moon stares back at me glowing with beauty.

Days and nights are passing us by. The moon shines at night and disappears by dawn. The sun rises and sets. And our lives are inscribed by the angels on our right and left . Raqib writes the good. Atid writes the bad. Every day and every night is a blessing. A sign. A lesson. Every day and every night is a chance to love Allah, our Creator. To worship Him. To learn about Him. If only we took a moment to remember Him. To think and ponder as we hustle through our busy lives.

2:45 am: the moon is beaming at me.

Yesterday, at 8:45 am: in Usul Al-Fiqh class (Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence) we learnt about the circumstances of the Arabs before the message of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him. Initially, the Arabs were upon the shariah (law) of Prophet Abraham and Ismail peace be upon them, built on tawhid.* Many of them were illiterate, many of them could not read or write. However, their illiteracy did not mean that they did not have knowledge. Their language was powerful, pure and crystal clear. I remember another teacher of mine explaining it to me many semesters ago.The Arabs would look at something that would amaze them, and right there on the spot, they would be able to describe it in the most eloquent lines of poetry. They had a place they called ‘souq ukath’, or ‘the Market of Ukath’, where they would share their poetry. The best poems were then written down and hung on the Kabah and were called The Mualaqat.

Yesterday, at 10 am: once my class ended I headed to the mosque. I decided to take a nap before my next class in order to be fresh and alert for it. In my sleep I had a dream. I dreamt of two of my friends- Khadeeja and Afaaf texting me, warning me to be careful because they had once slept and ended up over sleeping, missing the class. I woke up.

Yesterday, at 11:27 am: there were 3 minutes until my class – Introduction to the Sciences of Quranic Reading. As I rubbed my face to remove the sleepiness from my eyes, I saw light bouncing from the mosque’s colourful glass window onto my shoes. The reflection of light looked beautiful. And how beautiful it felt to know that my feet would be walking to a gathering of knowledge by the permission of Allah, so I made a supplication. I took a picture, put on my shoes, and rushed to class. At the entrance of the classroom, I met my friend Khadeeja. “You were sleeping weren’t you?” She asked me. She smiled as I shared with her my dream.

Yesterday, 12:02 pm: in The sciences of Quranic Recitations, we learnt about the famous reciters among the companions of the Prophet peace be upon him. We learnt about how Abu Bakr peace be upon him contributed to the preservation of the Quran and the recitations through having memorised it, reciting it frequently, being an Imam and having been the first to compile the Quran in writing. Once, Abu Bakr had recited the entire Surat Al Baqarah (the longest chapter in the Quran) in the two rakahs of Fajr salah. After the prayer, he was told: “ the sun is about to rise.” So Abu Bakr peace be upon him said: if it rises, we were not from the ghafileen (those who are heedless and don’t worship).** “What does the word harees (حريص) mean oh ustath?” One of the students asked. Harees means to be very concerned. For example, (فاطمة حريصة في طلب العلم) Fatima is hareesah (very concerned, keen and eager) in knowledge seeking, she always writes notes, asks questions, and reads. Although my teacher was using my name hypothetically, his example made me happy. And so I made a supplication.    

Yesterday, at 2 pm: in Ahadith Al Ahkam (Legislative Texts of Hadith) we revised the different types of Hadith books and watched a discussion (in the Egyptian Arabic dialect)  about the famous hadith- every action is by its intention. The Sheikh mentioned how someone who understands and applies this hadith will always be in a peaceful state of mind and their hearts are always content as everything he or she does- great or small- if done for the sake of Allah can have reward in it.

Yesterday, at 3:30 pm: in the next class, our teacher discussed one of our assignments. We had to study and translate a book from Arabic to English, and prepare a presentation relating what we studied to Tadwin Al-Sunnah (Recording of The Sunnah). My professor (who calls us his children) emphasised that we should not be exam-oriented students aiming for a certificate, but that knowledge should get us closer to our Creator. He reminded us to ponder about everything we see around us- the signs Allah has placed for us. That is how we gain true knowledge. He then went on to explain how most of us will aim for the certificate, then the job, then the car, then the house…”I teach parenting (a co-curricular subject), and most of you won’t even be wanting to get married at that point, am I right?” Then he said: “Except Fatima.” I don’t know why he mentioned me, but my friend Afaaf and I looked at each other in amusement, and I made a supplication.

Yesterday at 6 pm: the sunrays shone warmly on my face as I stood by the sink on my dorm balcony, washing vegetables in preparation for dinner.

Yesterday, at 7:27 pm: the sun set, the maghrib athaan called worshippers to prayer and success, the sky was destined to be cloaked in black and the moon was destined to appear. The day was over.

I started writing this at 2:28 am. It’s 4:02 am now. One and a half hours of my life has passed by. This is life. Life is short. And yet filled with Allah’s light and mercy.  I stare out at the moon as the crickets chirp outside. It is the last third and most precious part of the night.*** And so I make a supplication. Allah is An-Nur (The Illuminator). And He placed a light inside of us. Never give up on that light.

With love,

Fatima

0164C3C2-2A78-4015-853F-18C1B74F813D

P.S. I need your feedback! Did you like reading about the things I learned during my day? Would you like more posts like this? Comment below! 

 

*Tawhid: belief that God is One with no partners

** Arabic reference:

روى الزهري عن أنس أن أبو بكر صلى الصبح، فقرأ فيها البقرة في الركعتين، فقيل له حين سلم: كادت الشمس تطلع، فقال: لو طلعت لم تجدنا غافلين

*** The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “The Lord descends every night to the lowest heaven when one-third of the night remains and says: ‘Who will call upon Me, that I may answer Him? Who will ask of Me, that I may give him? Who will seek My forgiveness, that I may forgive him?’”

[Sahih Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

 

Stranger

Oh stranger,

you and I.

We shall write.

 

Our stories shall tell of a time you handed out sweets under the dome of a mosque.

 

Our stories shall speak about the man who lowers his gaze as he passes by a woman unrelated to him.

 

Our stories shall speak about my shoulders touching yours as we stand in prayer.

 

Our stories shall speak about the stranger who bends down to talk to a little girl. Do you love cats? She asks.

 

Our stories shall speak about greetings of peace given to one another as we pass by.

 

Our stories shall speak about the strangers bringing the hands of the cleaners to their foreheads as a morning greeting.

 

Our stories shall speak about catching each other’s eyes and smiling.

 

Our stories shall speak about waking up in the middle of the night and praying for one another in secret.

 

Our stories shall speak about sharing food as we sit opposite each other.

 

Our stories shall speak of the needy man who thanked Allah before thanking the stranger who handed him a loaf of bread.  

 

Our stories shall speak of the tears in our eyes as we cry for each other’s pain.

 

Oh stranger,

you and I.

 

We are created by the same Maker.

 

We are fashioned by The Most Merciful.

 

We stare at the same moon.

 

We rise to the same sun.

 

Our Creator is The Provider of Peace (Al Salam).

 

The Guardian of Faith (Al Mu’min).

 

The Sustainer (Al Razzaaq).

 

The Kind (Al Latif).

 

The Generous (Al Kareem).

 

The Protector (Al Hafidh).

 

The Nourisher (Al Muqit).  

 

The Watchful (Al Raqeeb).

 

The Answerer (Al Mujib).

 

The Loving  (Al Wadood).

 

The All Knowing (Al Aleem).

 

Oh stranger,

I may not know your name.

But I know the Creator who destined your path and mine is One and the same.