Muslim Girl in America

I'm an American girl, born and raised, and a Muslim.

Brave Woman

This is such a brave woman, opening up about her depression.

Bollywood Star Opens Up About Her Depression on HuffPost

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Eid and Hajj Mubarak!

Eid Mubarak everyone! And Hajj Mubarak to everyone who was blessed with the opportunity to complete hajj this year.

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Depression

This is the hardest post I have ever written, and likely will ever write. It’s about depression.

I’ve been trying to write this post ever since I heard of the death of Robin Williams. I’ve started it at least a dozen times and stopped, terrified of what my friends and others might think of me after they read it. But, today, finally, I have decided to stop being afraid and just post it. God help me.

Depression is a difficult thing to talk about, no matter your culture or country. While the U.S. is still better than other countries when it comes to diagnosing and treating mental illness, it’s still appallingly behind the times, in my opinion. It’s a taboo subject, even in this modern day and age, and even in the U.S. And it is rarely, if ever, spoken about in some other countries.

Chuck Palahniuk Quote

I remember on a past trip to Pakistan, I had come back home after a visit to the tailor’s. (For those that don’t know, tailor-made clothes are the norm in countries like Pakistan. While there are ready-made clothes, tailor-made clothing is the way many people buy clothes.) The tailor had ignored some of my instructions and mis-made some of my clothes, so I was upset (truthfully, I was also hormonal as it was a certain time of the month for me). When I returned home, my great aunt called me “disturbed” because I was upset. And that was just for everyday frustration and hormones. Depression is never spoken of, though I have seen many people depressed, even in my own family.

Even me.

I had an awful time in high school (really, it started even younger, around sixth grade or earlier), and I was also terribly shy and lonely. I fell passionately in love with books as a very young child, as it was an easy place to escape life without having to run away from it. I know people have had worse experiences than me, but I was depressed for most of my secondary schooling. I was not just depressed, but severely depressed at times. I did (deep breath) think about killing myself, on more than one occasion.

Robin Williams Quote

To reach a point where you think about taking it all, just for some relief from life, is a dark and terrible place. You are so completely in despair and just do not see any way out. You just feel pain and more pain all the time, and you just don’t know what to do; all you know is that you don’t want to feel pain anymore. You just want someone to reach out and comfort you, give you a hug, to acknowledge you and your pain. And, most of all, you just want someone to help you. You just want help. You just want help. You just want help.

And while I did think about suicide, and curse God for the bad things going on around me and to me, in the end, it was actually my faith that saved me. I never attempted suicide, I never got that far. Whenever I thought about it, I would think about what happened after I was dead. How my family would react, and how our community would react. And how, even in death, I would be a burden to them and ruin their life (as I often felt that way on a daily basis). And then I would think about the afterlife. I just wanted peace, and I wanted it so badly. I just wanted to get through one day where I could find some type of happiness and a few moments reprieve. Just one day where I could recognize the face staring back in the mirror. But in Islam, if you commit suicide, you don’t get into heaven. And I didn’t want to end up in Hell or some terrible limbo-state for eternity, so I never did it. So, even when I cursed God, it was, in the end, my faith and belief in God and the afterlife that saved me.

Robin Williams Quote from Upworthy

It’s hard, at least for me, to talk about depression. Most of my family did not know I was depressed. My parents knew I was depressed, though I doubt they realized the extent of my depression. I remember one day, my father was leaving on a business trip. As he turned to say good-bye to me, he also told me to “Be happy.” I never forgot that moment. They knew I was unhappy, but they never did anything about it, or maybe (and more likely) they just didn’t know what to do about it.

Depression is something, in my opinion, that you must live with every day. You have to learn to manage it, to control it, and know when to ask for help.  I remember hearing my co-workers talk one day. One of them said they just could not understand how people could not be happy every day, and why people just couldn’t smile all the time. I didn’t say anything, but I wanted to interject. I wanted to tell them that sometimes you just don’t have a choice. And, at that time, it’s exactly how I felt.

Be Kind

I brought myself out of my teenage depression. I could never bring myself to go to a psychologist (if I could ever find a psychologist who understood Muslim culture in the first place, nevermind if I actually had enough disposable income for the cost of it). Things started to get better in college. Away from the horrid halls of high school and the people who lingered there, I started to gain confidence and made some friends. But it really wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I really made a turn for the better.

I was having a really just terrible time between working multiple jobs and school, and just having no support. I was back to crying everyday (though, FYI, I have never pondered suicide since my younger pre-college days). And I suddenly asked myself, mid-sob, why I was letting myself be completely and utterly miserable. Why was I letting other people’s emotions and feelings and actions dictate my life? This was no way to live a life. And then I found that switch to turn my happiness on, buried under years of feeling shabby and unworthy and unloved. And I turned it on, just to see what would happen. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized it was like a switch, but really more like a choice. You need to make that choice within yourself and commit to it, and believe that you deserve happiness. For the longest time, I didn’t think I deserved it.

Albus Dumbledore quote

And I did find happiness, bits and snippets of it, until I would get to an end of a day and realize it had been a good day, and a happy one.

It’s still a challenge. It always will be. And sometimes, you just don’t know what can set you on a path to depression. After the ups and downs of Ramadan, I had a couple days post-Eid where I got very sad. And then, there are other times where you have to push past whatever bad thing is happening to you at the time, and keep things in perspective.  And sometimes that’s harder, particularly for me, when I’ve had conversations with certain family members, like I did tonight. Conversations where I’m told I’m responsible for everything bad that’s happened to the family, and that if I’d been married already everything would be fine. And not only that, but if I made more money to support them, everything would be even better. So, apparently, I’m not even useful as an unmarried girl, either.

Ignore negative people

There are people who may read this and think, “Well, clearly she’s damaged goods. It’s why she’s not married, why she’s alone. She shouldn’t get married.”  Well, to those people, I say, “Fuck you.” I deserve happiness as much as the next person, as much as you do. I deserve to have someone care about me, and love me, and take care of me, and help me. And I deserve to have my own family, too.

And I am poor. I live paycheck to paycheck, despite having three jobs. Being poor sucks. It stinks. It’s the worst. Clawing and scraping to get by. To make a life for yourself. For supporting others with no one else to help you. And I’ll keep clawing and scraping and praying for better things. I will not be poor forever, no matter how many people may try to keep me down.

I can't believe I work this hard to be poor

People with depression (myself included) hold so much fear in their hearts. Fear of others finding out they are or have been depressed, for one. I have been at the bottom, and I will not go back there, no matter how many people keep me down; that’s a promise I made to myself that I have kept and will keep. I also promised myself I would not let fear run my life, that I wouldn’t let fear keep me from trying new things or trying to become better and more financially stable, and that’s another promise I have kept (and continue to strive for).

Confucius Quote

To my friends who will read this post: Please know that I am okay. Some days I am great, some days not so much. And being okay is perfectly acceptable. But I do need help. I do need love. I do need support. And I do need any prayers you can send my way. And, if you have any business referrals or potential suitors you can send my way, I would appreciate that, too. 🙂

To those of you suffering from depression: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. There are resources out there who can help you, including the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255, or click the website link; you can chat with people through their website as well). You deserve happiness, and love. You deserve happiness and love. YOU DESERVE HAPPINESS AND LOVE.

Let someone love you

 

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Eid Mubarak!

Eid Mubarak, everyone!

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Laylat-ul Qadr (or The Night of Power): Meaning and Prayers

Meaning

The last 10 days of Ramadan are particularly full of ibadat (or prayer). Within these days lie what is known as The Night of Power, or Laylat-ul Qadr. It is believed that on the Night of Power, the Quran was first revealed to Prophet Muhammed (Peace Be Upon Him). On this night, it’s also believed that angels come down to earth on every errand for Allah, and the blessings received are those as if you had prayed for a thousand nights.

There is an entire Surah in the Quran about this night (Surah Al Qadr, #97):

“We have indeed revealed this (Message) in the Night of Power.

“And what will explain to thee what the night of power is?

“The Night of Power is better than a thousand months.

“Therein come down the angels and the Spirit by Allah’s permission, on every errand:

“Peace!…This until the rise of morn!” (Surah 97:1-5)

 

The importance of this night is also referenced in Hadith:

“Whoever establishes the prayers on the night of Qadr out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards (not to show off) then all his past sins will be forgiven.” Hadith, Bukhari Vol 1, Book 2:34

 

The specific date of this night was never revealed, though many observe this night on the odd days during the end of Ramadan* (21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th, and/or 29th nights, perhaps even others). The 27th night of Ramadan is widely believed to be the Night of Power, and so is considered to be especially important for ibadat.

 

*NOTE 1: For those unaware, the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar calendar (not the Gregorian one with months January-December). This is why Ramadan (the 9th month on the Islamic calendar) shifts and has no set start date every year on a Gregorian calendar. So the Night of Power may exist on an odd day in the Islamic calendar.

*NOTE 2: The month of Ramadan actually starts after sunset the day before the first day of fasting. For example, for 2014, my first day of fasting was Sunday, June 29th, but the first night of Ramadan was Saturday, June 28th. So when counting the nights of Ramadan, you must take this into consideration. For example, the 27th night of Ramadan occurs on the 26th day of fasting.

 

Ramadan Weeks 3-4: Prayers

For my non-Muslims blog readers, you may not understand the descriptions/recitations below. I will not go into a detailed description of salat (or Islamic prayer) here, though you can find more detailed descriptions from reputable sources online and in books.

I have listed particular prayers you can do for the Night of Power below. I have used as reference my mother, books she owns on prayers to say these nights during Ramadan, and Islamic Academy (which I will refer to as IA from here on out). IA referenced those same prayers though with slight differences, so you may see “OR” at various points because I list both sources. These are just the prayers and guidelines I have found; if you have different prayers for these nights listed, please comment below or contact me. Thank you to my mother and IA for the references.

Some general prayers:

  • In any night of Ramadan, after taraweeh, recite Surah Qadr seven (7) times. Allah Willing (Insha’Allah), the one who does so, will be saved from all troubles and afflictions.
  • On the Night of Power, or even on a Friday, recite Salat-Ul-Tasbih. Click here for IA’s instructions to perform Salat-ul-Tasbih. (Note: I have performed this with my mother, though I did not have a chance to confirm the contents of the IA website with her).

 

Night-specific prayers:

Each of the below nights has multiple prayers you should try to do or Quranic verses you should try to recite/read. The prayers listed below are all nafl (or optional) prayers that should be recited after completing Isha prayers (which are the last prayers of each day) on the night in question.

 

21st Night of Ramadan

  1. Pray four (4)naflrakats (2 at a time).
    • In each rakat, after Surah Fatihah, recite Surah Qadr once (1) and Surah Ikhlas once (1).
    • After completion of salat (namaz), recite Durood Sharif seventy (70) times. IA has a list of Durood here.
    • Benefit: Insha’Allah (Allah Willing), angels will pray for forgiveness for that person.
  2. Pray two (2)naflrakats (all at one time).
    • In each rakat, after Surah Fatihah, recite Surah Qadr once (1) and Surah Ikhlas three (3) times.
    • After completion of salat, recite anyAstaghfar seventy (70) times. IA suggests the following:
      1. “Allah Hummagh Fir Li Wa Tub A’laiyya Inna Ka Innta Tawwabur Raheem” OR
      2. “Astaghfirullah Rabbi Min Kulli Zambiyon Wa Atoobu ilaiyh”
    • Benefit: Insha’Allah, effective for forgiveness of sins.
  3. Recite Surah Qadr twenty-one (21) times.

 

23rd Night of Ramadan

  1. Pray four (4)naflrakats (2 at a time).
    • In each rakat, after Surah Fatihah, recite Surah Qadr once (1) and Surah Ikhlas three (3) times.
    • After completion of salat, recite any Durood Sharif seventy (70) times.
    • Benefit: Insha’Allah, effective for forgiveness of sins.
  2. Pray eight (8)naflrakats (2 at a time).
    • In each rakat, after Surah Fatihah, recite Surah Qadr once (1) and Surah Ikhlas once (1).
    • After completion of salat, reciteKalimaTamjeed seventy (70) times.
      1. NOTE: You can find the Kalimas on Wikipedia or on IA. Here is the phonetic recitation of the Kalima in Arabic, as supplied by IA:
      2. Kalima Tamjeed: “Subhan Allahi Wal Hamdu Lillahi Wa La ilaaha illal laho Walla Hu Akbar. Wala Haowla Wala Quwwata illa Billa Hil Aliyil Azeem”.
  3. After recitingKalimaTamjeed, pray for forgiveness of sins.
    • Benefit: Insha’Allah, for forgiveness of sins.
  4. Recite Surah Ya Sin once (1) and Surah Rahman once (1).

 

25th Night of Ramadan

  1. Pray four (4)naflrakats (2 at a time).
    • In each rakat, after Surah Fatihah, recite Surah Qadr once (1) and Surah Ikhlas five (5) times.
    • After completion of this salat, recite theKalimaTayyibah one hundred (100) times.
      1. Kalima Tayyab (per IA): “Laa ilaaha illal Laho Mohammadur Rasoolullah”.
    • Benefit: Insha’Allah, Allah will give them unlimited sawab (good Deeds).
  2. Pray four (4)naflrakats (2 at a time).
    • In each rakat, after Surah Fatihah, recite Surah Qadr three (3) times and Surah Ikhlas three (3) times.
    • After completion of salat, recite any Astaghfar seventy (70) times OR KalimaShahadat seventy (70) times.
      1. Astaghfar (per IA):
        • “Allah Hummagh Fir Li Wa Tub A’laiyya Inna Ka Innta Tawwabur Raheem” OR
        • “Astaghfirullah Rabbi Min Kulli Zambiyon Wa Atoobu ilaiyh”
      2. Kalima Shahadat (per IA): “Ashadu Anlaa ilaaha illal Lahu Wa Ash Hadu Anna Mohammadan Abduhu Wa Rasoolohu”
    • Benefit: Insh’Allah, for pardoning of sins.
  3. Pray two (2)naflrakats (all at once).
    • In each rakat, after Surah Fatihah, recite Surah Qadr once (1) and Surah Ikhlas fifteen (15) times.
    • After completion of salat, reciteKalimaShahadat seventy (70) times.
      • Kalima Shaadat (per IA): “Ashadu Anlaa ilaaha illal Lahu Wa Ash Hadu Anna Mohammadan Abduhu Wa Rasoolohu”.
    • Benefit: Insh’Allah, freedom from the punishment of the grave.
  4. Recite SurahDukhan once (1).
    • Benefit: Insh’Allah, freedom from the punishment of the grave.
  5. Recite SurahFath seven (7) times.
    • Benefit: Insh’Allah, fulfillment of desires and wishes.

 

27th Night of Ramadan

  1. Pray two (2)naflrakats (all at once).
    • In each rakat, after Surah Fatihah, recite Surah Qadr three (3) times, and Surah Ikhlas seven (7) OR twenty-seven (27) times.
    • After completion of salat, pray for the forgiveness of sins.
    • Benefit: Insha’Allah, forgiveness of previous sins.
  2. Pray twelve (12)naflrakats (4 at a time).
    • In each rakat, after Surah Fatihah, recite Surah Qadr once (1), and Surah Ikhlas seven (7) OR fifteen (15) times.
    • After completion of salat, recite anyAstaghfar seventy (70) times.
      1. Astaghfar (per IA):
        1. “Allah Hummagh Fir Li Wa Tub A’laiyya Inna Ka Innta Tawwabur Raheem” OR
        2. “Astaghfirullah Rabbi Min Kulli Zambiyon Wa Atoobu ilaiyh”.
  3. Pray four (4)naflrakats (2 at a time).
    • In each rakat, after Surah Fatihah, recite Surah Takathur once (1) and Surah Ikhlas three (3) times.
    • Benefit: Insha’Allah, saved from hardship at the time of death, and freed from the punishment of the grave.
  4. Pray two (2)naflrakat (all at one time).
    • In each rakat, after Surah Fatihah, recite Surah Ikhlas seven (7) times.
    • After completion of salat, recite this seventy (70) times:
      • “Astaghfirul laa hal azeemil lazee laa ilaaha illa huw al haiy yul qayyoomu wa atoobu ilahh”.
    • Benefit: Before the person gets up from the praying area, insh’Allah they and their parents will receive pardons, and Allah Almighty will command the angels to adorn the Paradise for them.
  5. Pray two (2)naflrakat (all at one time).
    • In each rakat, after Surah Fatihah, recite Surah al Inshirah once (1) and Surah Ikhlas three (3) times.
    • After completion of salat, recite Surah Qadr eleven (11) OR twenty-seven (27) times.
    • Benefit: Insh’Allah, for unlimited sawab of Ibadat.
  6. Pray four (4)naflrakat (all at one time).
    • In each rakat, after Surah Fatihah, recite Surah Qadr three (3) times, and Surah Ikhlas eleven (11) OR fifty (50) times.
    • After completion of salat, reciteKalimaTamjeed insajdah (prostration position ofnamaz):
      • Kalima Tamjeed (per IA): “Subhan Allahi Wal Hamdu Lillahi Wa La ilaaha illal laho Walla Hu Akbar. Wala Haowla Wala Quwwata illa Billa Hil Aliyil Azeem”.
    • Benefit: Insh’Allah, fulfillment of desires and wishes.
  7. Recite Surah alMulk seven (7) times.
    • Benefit: Insh’Allah, freedom from punishment.

 

29th Night of Ramadan

  1. Pray four (4)naflrakats (2 at a time).
    • In every rakat, after Surah Fatihah, recite Surah Qadr once (1) and Surah Ikhlas three (3) times.
    • After completion of salat, recite Surah al Inshirah eleven (11) OR seventy (70) times.
  2. Pray four (4)naflrakats (2 at a time).
    • In each rakat, after Surah Fatihah, recite Surah Qadr once (1) and Surah Ikhlas five (5) times.
    • After completion of salat, recite Durood Sharif twenty-five (25) OR one hundred (100) times.
    • Benefit: Insh’Allah, effective for forgiveness of sins.
  3. Recite Surah Waqi’ah three (3) OR seven (7) times.
    • Benefit: Insh’Allah for increase in Rizq.

 

 

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Ramadan Resolutions

So the first week of Ramadan has passed. Your body is getting used to the lack of sleep (and sustenance), and, hopefully, your mind is slowly becoming clearer. That’s what Ramadan does for me; it helps me to focus on what’s important and put aside the things that usually annoy me or pull my focus away.

During this time, I’m reminded about the great friends I have, who try their best to cheer me on this month and make an effort to understand the month and what I’m going through.

Ramadan Kareem

During this month, I also learn (or re-learn) how to maintain a calm state when people say mean, upsetting, or insensitive things to me. For example, my boss, as I was leaving work before a long weekend, said, ‘Have a great weekend not eating!’ and then laughed and walked away. It’s times like those that you just take a deep breath and walk away.

But why do we resolve to only walk away during Ramadan? We should use, for lack of a better word, the momentum we gain during Ramadan to continue good behaviors afterwards. Every time January 1st rolls around, we make resolutions for the New Year; why not make resolutions for Ramadan and after Ramadan? So here are my resolutions.

Ramadan Week 2 – Ramadan Resolutions

  • Say more Sunnah prayers (these are optional prayers that precede or follow obligatory prayers).
  • Be thankful for the great friends and family I have, and say extra prayers for them.
  • Take a deep breath when my not-so-great friends and family are not nice to me. I also resolve to say extra prayers for them.
  • Remember that I cannot change how others treat me or how much they judge me, but I can control my reaction to them. Keep Calm and Carry On.

Keep Calm and Carry On

  • Forgive those that have been mean or acted against me. I don’t want the unease of unforgiveness in my heart. Forgiveness can be one of the hardest things a person does. Some people will never forgive, others will only think about it but never act upon those feelings. But some anger is more easily let go (such as forgiving Veronica Roth for the incredibly stupid ending to the Divergent series). Other forgiveness takes making a very conscious choice to really let go of animosity towards someone for something they have done. Not just thinking about it, or fooling yourself into thinking you’ve forgiven someone. When you truly make the choice to forgive someone, in your heart and soul, the effect is almost instantaneous; you feel a lightness and a calm that wasn’t there before. It’s a wonderful feeling. And when you begin, you find that you can keep going and forgive others. At least, that’s what I’ve found.
  • Conversely, I will seek forgiveness for the wrongs I have done, from both the people I have wronged and from Allah. Admitting you were wrong and asking someone else for forgiveness may be even harder than forgiving another. You are placing yourself in an incredibly vulnerable position, and you may not know if the other person is open to forgiveness. But if they don’t accept your apology, that’s their fault, not yours. You’ve made the effort and, if it’s truly from your heart, you will feel better.

One thing I have learned about resolutions is that you should keep them realistic. Making a long list now only ends up being a long list of incomplete tasks later. Resolutions shouldn’t be easy, in my opinion. They’re meant to be something difficult, something that you are striving to do, a change you are wanting to make. And change isn’t easy. Change can be scary because of the unknown. We don’t know what we’ll be like once we’ve changed. We don’t know how others will react to our changed selves. And we don’t know if we’ll be able to keep changing ourselves for the better, or if we’ll revert back to our old selves. But, despite all that, we still need to try. I’m a firm believer that people can and should always try to become better, do better, and, most particularly, treat others better.

What do you resolve to do this Ramadan? And after Ramadan? If you’re not sure where to start, I found this website helpful. Please let me know what you resolve to do in the comments below.

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What does Ramadan mean to you?

Another year, another Ramadan. It is, by far, my favorite month of the year.

The first day (or first few days) of fasting can be the most difficult. Your body is adjusting to a new sleeping and eating schedule, and your mind is adjusting to a more intense prayer schedule (at least mine is, as I add additional prayers throughout the day). Sunday was my first day of fasting for Ramadan this year, and I found myself having to adjust to something else: relaxing.

I typically work three jobs, but for Ramadan I cut back on my hours for two of them. So it came to be that yesterday I found myself in the middle of the day without any work. Oh, there were house chores to be done and there was certainly work I could do, but I took the day off. And so I spent the day in prayer and relaxation between prayers. It was a very lovely sort of vacation.

Of course, today, Monday, I’m back at work (as are most) and back to the daily grind (I can already feel Ramadan Brain taking over). But taking a break from all the craziness and hectic pace of daily life really helped me to focus on the month ahead, what it means, and what I hope to accomplish for the month (besides fasting). And I’d like to know what Ramadan means to you.

 

Ramadan Week 1 – What does Ramadan mean to you?

For the first week of Ramadan, let’s consider what Ramadan means to us, in a spiritual sense. I recently met someone who said they only fasted because they were supposed to, not because they felt any great spiritual or other need to do so. They didn’t feel that connection to God. Is this you? Do you feel like this?

I certainly did. Many years ago, Ramadan felt like an obligation, not as something more as it does to me now. When you’re a teenager and busy with school and life and hormones, you don’t always think about the meanings behind your actions (remember those days?). So, this year, while your body and life is adjusting to a new schedule this week, take some time to think about the following:

  • Why do you fast? To fulfill an obligation? Or for something deeper?
  • What do you feel mentally when you pray? Do you feel as though you’re just going through the motions? Or do you feel something more?
  • Do you feel upset that you have to fast? Or do you feel excited or hopeful (along with exhausted) at the idea of fasting?

Personally, I feel that, in today’s modern world, we too often just do things without understanding our motivations for doing so. We’re so busy, busy, busy, and we just want to mark things off our to-do list. In regards to Ramadan, if you’re fasting only because you’re expected to, then think about those expectations. Whose expectations are they? Are they your family’s? Or, deep down, are they really yours? Are you spending long hours at the taraweeh prayers in the evenings because others think you should? Or are you doing it for yourself?

Do you wish you were consistent with prayers and felt that deeper connection that others feel with God? In addition to thinking about what Ramadan means to you, think about what being Muslim means to you. Being Muslim means, at least to me, being kind, hard-working, devoted, charitable, and more. Despite what other adjectives ignorant people may use to define Muslims, remember that only you can define yourself and what you think and feel.

Take the time in this first week for some introspection. If the questions above are too much to contemplate just yet, then start thinking about actions in your daily life. Think about situations at work. For example, think about a time you had the opportunity to do something good or help someone and didn’t do anything – why? Or, conversely, think about a time you had an opportunity to do something bad. How did you handle it? Why did you make the decision you did, one way or the other?

Every day, we are faced with a million little decisions. Make a left at the light and get stuck in traffic, or make a right and possibly avoid it. Do I stop and get a coffee in the morning? Or do I drink it at home and spend a few more moments with my family? Do I start studying for my exam now or later? Do I stop at the store today or another day? Think about why you make even the little decisions each day.

For example, consider the traffic situation I just mentioned. Going one way you avoid traffic, going another you get stuck in it. But, are you avoiding traffic because you’re excited to get to work? Or do you need to get to work because you have a horrible boss and you don’t want them to be upset with you? Conversely, if you made a left and got stuck in traffic, why? Did you want some time to yourself (and why can’t you make this time anywhere else in your day)? Or do you only know one way to get to work and are scared to learn a new way? There are other scenarios here, too, of course, but those are a start.

You can see how any reasoning behind a decision can be illuminating about you, your fears, and your personality. And, just to be clear, I’m not saying you should stop before every decision and analyze it. You’d never get anything done if you did. In my experience, just understanding some of your motivations can help you in the future to live a fuller, more confident life. It certainly helped me.

After a month of reflection and introspection, I have had some revelations about myself. I learned the root cause of my decision-making, or the reason why I make any kind of decision. And, knowing that, I have not only felt more confident but I have become more confident in my decisions and less unsure of myself on the whole. And I have also felt a deeper spiritual connection because I’ve realized that I pray because I believe, not because others expect me to.

I love to hear from my followers; please let me know how your first week goes. I’ll be posting new thoughts and things to focus upon for each week (inshAllah) so please visit again if you have a chance. You can also follow my blog (see the “Follow” button in the top left of the page) to stay up-to-date and receive notices of new posts.

May all of us have a blessed Ramadan. Ameen.

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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Ramadan

(Please note: This is a parody of a Christmas song, titled “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas”. I encourage you to listen to the song here, so you’ll understand the rhythm of the words below.)

 

It’s beginning to look a lot like Ramadan.

Everywhere you go.

Take a look at the houses at 3:10,

And that’s in the AM,

With house lights and windows all aglow.

 

It’s beginning to look a lot like Ramadan.

Furious cooking in every home.

But the prettiest sight to see,

Is the dinner that will be,

Waiting at sunset, maybe even before.

 

The young kids are free and easy,

With no school to make them dizzy.

But everyone else has work and school,

And sleep seems an unattainable jewel.

So mom and dad can hardly wait

For the holiday to come again.

 

It’s beginning to look a lot like Ramadan.

Everywhere you go.

Prayer, reflection, and fun,

Meet together as one,

On Eid-ul-Fitr* our best do we show.

 

It’s beginning to look a lot like Ramadan

Soon the adhan* will start

So when the alarm rings,

Everyone’s up and going,

Weary in body though not in heart.

 

Many prayers do we say,

Some all night and all day,

Much do we read,

From the Qur’an to hadiths*.

And all can hardly wait,

For the holiday to come again.

 

It’s beginning to look a lot like Ramadan

Soon the adhan* will start

So when the alarm rings,

Everyone’s up and going,

With a strong mind and heart, with a strong mind and heart.

 

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*Adhan – call to prayer

*Eid-ul-Fitr – the holiday following the month of Ramadan.

*Hadith – teachings of the Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him)

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Ramadan Mubarak!

I know some people are beginning Ramadan tomorrow, and to those I say Ramadan Mubarak! I am following my local mosque and beginning fasting on Sunday.

Last year, I did a post called ‘Twas the Night Before Ramadan. Some of you may not know this, but it is a parody of a classic Christmas poem called ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. I hope you’ll go back and read the post; you can do so by clicking HERE.

And I wish everyone a successful Ramadan!

It's On Like Ramadan

 

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A True Love of Coldplay (and Ticket Stubs)

I love music. It’s a HUGE part of my life. I listen to music every day, for any and every occasion. I listen when I’m sad, when I’m happy, when I need to feel inspired, when I need something calming before I go to sleep, and even when I want to just forget my cares for a few minutes and lose myself in a song.

Even the other night, when I received some upsetting news that made me feel like I was drowning, drowning, drowning, I put some music on and felt myself lift up, up, up. When days at work become frustrating, I put on some music to help me get through. Music brightens my life. It even helps me focus before prayers.

One of my all-time favorite bands is Coldplay. I love, love, love them.

COLDPLAY. Image source: http://coldplay.com/archive.php

COLDPLAY. Image source: http://coldplay.com/archive.php

Coldplay is the perfect antidote to any of my moods. I first heard them on their album Parachutes. To this day, though I LOVE what they’ve done since, it is my go-to album when I’m having a bad day. Don’t Panic is still my favorite song of theirs, and I was very excited when I heard them sing it the first time I saw them in concert (P.S. – Coldplay, if you ever read this/hear about this blog post, please consider playing it again at your next Washington, DC, concert 🙂 ).

Coldplay Parachutes

But the reason I love Coldplay so much is because they get me. Every song of theirs has struck a chord with me (no pun intended). It’s like they’re singing about my life. I don’t always pick up on deeper meaning in poetry or song verses, so I don’t know what Chris’s and other’s motivations were when they wrote a song. All I know is that I see myself reflected in the songs, and that listening to Coldplay brings me comfort. For example, I was feeling very alone and isolated in 2003. But then I heard Don’t Panic for the first time, and I didn’t feel so alone anymore. I felt as though someone understood what I was going through, and what I was facing on a daily basis. I felt hopeful for the first time in a long time.

I started listening to music more and going to concerts after that point. I was into music before (I have the cassette tapes to prove it), but not like this. I had found Coldplay too late in my opinion (Parachutes came out in 2000 – that’s 3 years I could have been listening to them), and I was thirsty to find out what and who else was out there, what else I was missing, and what music and comfort I was missing. Music has become an integral part of my life.

And, just to confirm, Coldplay is FANTASTIC in concert. They are right up there as one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen. And their last tour (after Mylo Xyloto came out) blew everything else out of the water. Their shows get better each time I see them. I do pay a lot for the experience and last time, mashAllah, I was blessed with really great seats (even better than what I thought I was getting, as the stage configuration changed and I ended up being 2 rows from the stage rather than the 16 I originally was). P.S. – To Coldplay – I was the person jumping up and down the whole time (sorry to the people sitting behind me!) at the first DC show last year. I can tell you’ll remember this over 2 years later. 🙂

One of the key things I’ve heard in my life that you shouldn’t buy things or tangible objects; you should invest in experiences (vacations, trips, family time, etc.). For me, that typically means concerts. I started a ticket stub diary that has overflowed into a second (and soon a third).

The tickets over-floweth.

The tickets over-floweth.

I know I haven’t been to as many concerts/music festivals/events as some people have, but I treasure these stubs. They represent good times (for the most part). I also rank my concerts by how good they were (I should mention that, if a band is horrible in concert, then I usually can’t even listen to them anymore). As you might expect, my Coldplay tickets rank first page status. Another great band ranking high status is The Killers (I’ve seen them numerous times, too; at their last concert I was right in front of the stage and 5 feet away from Brandon Flowers! Very exciting). I like consistency, and I know that with both Coldplay and The Killers I will get a good show and have a great time (even if the bands that open for them are not always the best, as I’ve seen with The Killers).

An upsetting trend I’ve seen recently, though, is the slow phasing out of ticket stubs in our digital world. I recently bought tickets to see the The Black Keys, and their tour is paperless. I applaud their environmentalness, but I do wish I had a traditional ticket stub. Even when there’s an option to print out my tickets at home, I would still rather get the old school tickets because they mean more to me. And they fit better in my ticket stub diary.

And I know what you’re likely thinking: that the stubs are only a piece of paper, and that it’s your memories that count. That is absolutely true. But concert tickets are the only thing I really splurge on besides books (perhaps splurging too much). And I like having that tangible reminder of places I’ve been and bands I’ve seen. (I should mention that I also have movie ticket stubs and stubs from other events tucked away in my diary, too).

And you, Coldplay, should also know that you are quite loved, the world around. One of my most surreal moments happened when I was in Pakistan several years ago. We went to visit the house of friends and have some tea (as you do), and they gave us a tour of the house. When she stopped at one of her teenage son’s rooms (they have 2 sons, neither of whom were there when we visited) I was very pleasantly surprised to see a giant Coldplay poster on one wall. I smiled. There it was – Coldplay tucked away in Pakistan, being listened to by a new generation that could bring change to a troubled country. Even writing it now, I’m smiling. It’s lovely to think that even a world away, you can have things in common with others. And I also think this is proof that Coldplay could bridge cultural gaps and bring peace to the world. #Coldplayforworldpeace

And so it is that, even during the month of Ramadan (fasting) I use music to help motivate me or just get through the tougher days. Coldplay is a daily feature. Oh, Coldplay, how much do I love thee!

Coldplay's new album, Ghost Stories

Coldplay’s new album, Ghost Stories.

So, to share my love of Coldplay, I’ve put together a playlist of some of their songs. I should preface this by saying that a lot of these are my favorites; if you searched for “popular” Coldplay songs you may find others. But, if my favorite Coldplay song is Don’t Panic, you can expect other favorites of mine to be “off the beaten path”, so to speak. You can check out my playlist on Spotify here: A Lot of Coldplay (it’s also below). I should also mention that the whole of their new album, Ghost Stories, is not yet available on Spotify so I highly recommend you go out and buy the album, as there are some really nice songs on there that I would have included on this playlist. And if you haven’t seen the video for Magic yet , you’re missing out.

(P.S. – Coldplay – that really cool video you just released for A Sky Full of Stars – can you do the same thing the next time you’re in DC???)

I’ll be uploading other playlists going forward, so you can give me a follow and stay up-to-date. You can also follow my blog on this site, as I’ll do a post when one’s ready.

What’s your favorite band? Let me know in the comments below!

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