Muslim Girl in America

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

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


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.




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.



*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



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:

COLDPLAY. Image source:

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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Things To Do In The 14 Days Leading to Ramadan

Or Things To Freak Out About To Do Calmly In The 14 Days Leading to Ramadan …

Day 14.  You realize there is only about 2 weeks left until Ramadan starts and you start freaking out. Take a deep breath, and make a list of everything (personal and professional) that you won’t have time for during Ramadan, so you can finish it now. After you’ve finished your list, resist the urge to freak out again – you can do it! Who knew you had so many things on your to-do list?

Day 13.  Take another deep breath and divide the list into 3 parts: Must Do, Maybe Someone else can do, and Wait to do. Start delegating tasks to someone else, if you can. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Day 12.  Go to the grocery store and buy way more food than you do during a normal month. How is it that during a month of fasting you spend more money on food than any other trip to the grocery store the rest of the year, even if you eat moderately during Ramadan? You go to more than one more grocery store: the “normal” one, and the one with traditional foods (where you can buy flour for pakoras, roti, halal meat, and other such things). Then, you go to another traditional store, because everyone is buying up for Ramadan at the first store, and you waited too long. Oh, dear.

Day 11.  You start to pre-cook as many foods as you can and freeze them for use in Ramadan. You start one day after work. It’s midnight when you realize you’ve only finished two dishes. Why do traditional foods take so long to cook? And you realize you’re hungry, so you eat a bowl (or two) of food.

Day 10.  You wake up still feeling full from your late night snacking. And you realize you won’t be able to really work out for the next month, so you go to the gym. Of course, you haven’t worked out for a few weeks, but starting now is better than not starting at all, right?

Afterwards, you feel energized. You feel upbeat. You go home and cook/freeze three more dishes. You clean the house, and cross numerous items off your To-Do List. You are amazing and on top of everything.

Day 9.  Your muscles ache from your workout yesterday. Clearly, the best thing to do is just not work out until after Ramadan. You curse out loud at one particularly achy leg. And realize you should stop cursing, too. You can’t curse during Ramadan. And then you wonder: What if I think the curse, but don’t say it? Will that work? And you realize, “Of course it won’t!” You must begin to prepare yourself mentally for the long road ahead. And not just for a month, but for a lifetime of good behavior and good deeds. That’s what it’s all about. Being good and kind, inside and out. Deep breath. You can do this. You WILL do this.

Day 8.  You decide to cut down on your tea intake to prepare yourself for the lack of caffeine ahead, so you cut down from 6 cups a day to two. Not that I drink 6 cups a day. It’s just an example. I mean SIX cups, well, that’s a lot. And it’s not like you’re drinking six cups of strong tea a day. It’s pretty weak tea (I’m guessing). Which is why you drink it slowly all day long. So, really, when you think about it, it’s only, like, two or three proper cups a day. So really you’re just going from three cups down to two. And, really, when you think about it, you’re only drinking it to stay warm in your freezing office building, which is obviously necessary to maintain your health. So maybe you’ll at least keep drinking, er, holding a cup of hot tea, er, hot water to keep yourself warm. Ahem.

Day 7.  The iftars (dinners) are piling in now. Weekends you break fast at the mosque, but now you are scheduled to break fast at other people’s houses at least ten other days of the month, and there will be likely more before everything’s said and done. Now you start to wonder: Should I host an iftar? Can I do it? Do I have time? You decide you can’t make it work with your family’s schedule, so you tell everyone to come on Eid day for brunch. Success! No one has invited anyone for Eid day brunch after holiday prayers.

Later that evening, you realize you have decided to invite many people to your house, after a month of pure exhaustion during which you have very little time (or energy) to clean. Oh, dear. Time for more freaking out. And lists. You need lists.

Day 6.  Set your DVR for all those television shows you are likely to miss, or will not have time to watch. Shows that will keep the little ones distracted when you’re praying or reading Qur’an. Shows that will distract the big ones from complaining during the month. And shows that you can watch to help you get through. Don’t forgot about YOUR needs while you are helping others; your needs are important, too.

Day 5.  You start to prepare people at work by describing the month of Ramadan, and how it follows it the lunar calendar, not the Gregorian calendar. You try to explain why you don’t know when the month actually starts, and receive only confused looks in return. Except for that one person at work who’s cool and wants to know how they can help you. This is also a great time to shift work or tasks to another person on your team/in your department, if possible, or ask for an adjusted work schedule. Remember – DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP.

Day 4.  Set aside money to give as charity, or plan how to save for it. You are not in the best place financially, but you remember that there is always, ALWAYS, someone more needy than you who needs it. And you remember a day, not so long ago, that you were struggling as well.

Day 3.  You need to prepare yourself mentally, so you start waking up even earlier for Fajr (the first prayer of the day) and also start reading the Quran a little more each day.

Day 2.  Fasting on Mondays and Thursdays and on the 13-15th days of the Islamic month are considered especially important, so you complete some voluntary fasts to prepare yourself. You are exhausted by the end of it, but you feel better about what’s to come and the physical and mental strain ahead.

Day 1.  The night before Ramadan. Or what you THOUGHT was the night before Ramadan. Apparently, your mosque states it is Ramadan tomorrow, but Saudi Arabia (and the mosque across town) states it’s the day after next. And your family in Pakistan started fasting already!!! WHAT DO YOU DO? (Besides pull your hair out at the inability of even one city to start Ramadan together). You follow your mosque (since you’ll be spending most/all Ramadan with them anyway) and start the month tomorrow. ‘Twas the Night Before Ramadan, after all.

Day 0.  The month has begun. May Allah bless us all this Ramadan. Ameen.

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Eid Mubarak to one and all! May everyone have a blessed and happy Eid day, Ameen.

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Ramadan Revelations

This intense month of prayer and reflection does, at least for me, leads me towards some startling revelations about myself.

Several years ago, I realized the impetus behind all of my actions; I figured out why I do the things I do. And that’s a biggie. When you think about it, we make hundreds of decisions a day. Most of them are pretty small, but every once in a while, there’s a major life-changing one.

I have briefly touched on this in the past, but I was engaged before. No, I’m not going to go into details, except to say that I find dishonesty abhorrent. But the whole thing had felt wrong from the beginning, even from when we first met. And then we announced the engagement, and we took photos, and I looked happy in the photos. I was happy on the day I got engaged, but I realized that was more because I loved my engagement dress and the ring was quite nice (and, apparently, that I was more shallow than I realized).

Once I realized the “why” behind my actions, looking back, I also knew why I got engaged. And it wasn’t for me. Realizing why you take the actions you do makes a huge difference in your life. Every new decision, from small to large, holds a new meaning and a new potential outcome.

Another revelation I’ve had is about my decision-making process. You need to know more than the “why” of your decisions. You need to know “how” you have come to those decisions in the first place. This concept can get a bit confusing, but I realized that even though I knew why I was making decisions, I would still make a wrong one from time-to-time. I almost missed out on a great opportunity because of it. I would go back and forth, weigh pros and cons, and still be indecisive or be leaning towards the wrong decision.

Another revelation I’ve had is that I tended to disconnect the decisions I was making with the prayers I was saying. I would pray for one thing, and then not realize that Allah had listened to those prayers and was providing me with an opportunity. I would debate the decision endlessly. As an example here, someone could pray for an ease to their financial burdens and, when a job opportunity presented itself, not realize that Allah provided the job opportunity as a means to ease their financial burden. They may instead debate if the job was the right one for their career, or if the transition was the right one to make at that time.

There’s a quote from the movie Evan Almighty that I just love and that I think is absolutely true:

“Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?”

By spending the month of Ramadan in prayer and reflection, you start to realize the opportunities you may have missed and the opportunities that are before you right now. Once you realize the “whys” and “hows” of your decision-making, you are no longer stuck making the same mistakes and the same bad decisions over and over again; you now have the power to stop yourself and make the right decision.

So I encourage all my steadfast readers, and any that may stumble upon this website, to search within themselves in these final days of prayer and ibadat to discover their own “whys” and “hows”. May Allah hear all our duas and answer them positively, Ameen.

Thanks for reading!



Tempering Emotions in Ramadan

Ramadan is not only a time for abstaining, but also a time for prayer, reflection, and restraint. Typically, for me anyway, it also a time to:

Keep Calm and Carry On

Yes, all those pesky little annoyances that peeve you to no end on a daily basis must, for one month at least, peeve you no more. One example would be those irritating drivers (as a driver on the DC Beltway, this is especially hard for me) who drive like maniacs around you and force you drive defensively. The worst, though, can be the actions of family, friends, and loved ones.

Ramadan for me has also become a time to not only temper my emotions towards others, but also to temper my emotions and reactions to the way others treat me.

Consider last night. I went to a big iftar (an iftar is the meal eaten to break fast in the evening during Ramadan). This was a big get-together (maybe 75-100 people) at a restaurant. And it was a very lovely evening, once the crowds arrived and I didn’t have to spend as much time speaking with certain family members.

“What happened?” you readers may ask. Well, basically, I was taken to task for not dressing up enough, not wearing enough makeup, wearing jewelry I had worn before, and for not wearing my contacts.

A lot of folks complain about the commercialization of Christmas, but few discuss the commercialization of Ramadan (at least I haven’t seen it much). And I don’t just mean the greeting cards and commemorative items, but the insane dressing up that occurs at times. Ramadan is about sacrifice, not the amount of makeup you’re wearing. Nor does it have anything to do with how expensive your dress is. You should strive to dress nice, with new clothes on the holiday after Ramadan, if you can swing it.

And for this iftar, I was dressed up – it was a gorgeous dress of purple with gold embroidery all over it. Certainly not as dressy as others, but it was dressy all the same. And I was wearing makeup, though apparently not as dramatic as some would like. I personally try to cut out any extraneous drama in my life as it serves no purpose. In short, I was criticized and, it being Ramadan, I had to hold my tongue, take a deep breath, and Keep Calm and Carry On.

I know one reason I was criticized was because I’m currently unmarried (though, as you faithful readers know, it’s not from lack of trying). I’d forgotten my contacts at home (and honestly, I can’t drive with them and this iftar was 2 hours away from where I live and I had to drive back afterwards, too), so the combination of “not enough” makeup, glasses, and a “not quite fancy enough” dress made it seem like I had given up. But all of the people there have seen me all done up at weddings and the like and, as they have never recommended a potential suitor to me, are not likely to in the future. And some of them are spreading not-nice and very untrue rumours about me, which will ensure they never recommend a potential suitor to me.


At the first Ramadan, do you think the women were worrying about their jewelry or clothes? No, they were likely reading Quran and praying for an ease to their burdens as I have been doing.

Is Ramadan the time to judge others? NO, it’s not. It’s a time for reflection, and to consider your actions of the past year because you will be judged by those on your own Judgment Day, and if you don’t fear that then you should.

People will always be judgmental. Sadly, it’s not something that you can change in others; they can only change it in themselves. But what you can control is your reaction to them.

I’ve developed a thick skin over the years, but I still wear my heart on my sleeve. It can be hard. It IS hard. You’re hungry and thirsty and working crazy hours and exhausted from a lack of sleep. And on top of this, someone’s being mean to you. You just want to snap and say something biting back. You want to hurt them as much as they’ve just hurt you.

It took me several years to prevent these hurtful statements from affecting me emotionally. I had to realize that some people are never happy with what they have, no matter how much they are blessed. They can only feel happiness when they bring other people down. They feel powerful and alive; it’s really like a form of substance abuse and they just can’t stop. But that is their problem, not yours.

I am secure in who I am as a person, much more so than I was several years ago, and I know that’s one reason why these words don’t affect me as much as they used to. I say certain prayers, which also helped a lot to keep their evil thoughts from touching me.

But it is still Ramadan, a time for family togetherness. And they are still family, period. So, during and after Ramadan, I will strive to Keep Calm and Carry On.

Thanks for reading!


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