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The Glorious Ka'ba

By the Grace and Mercy of Allah, my husband and I were given the invitation to perform Hajj this year.

(That also explains why the blog has been in hiatus).

So this post is going to be about my experience going to Hajj with Baba Longbeard. You will be amazed at what you are about to read.

This was the first time we were going to be away from our kids for such a long span of time. The husband stayed strong; I cried hysterically as we left the kids behind.

The flight there was nice. Baba Longbeard fell asleep before take off. When I got over my initial excitement, I then fell asleep as well. When we woke we talked here and there about our anticipation and what not.

Let me rewind a little bit. I had a completely different impression of what Hajj and marriage is like prior to this trip. I thought we would be constantly together, going through so many spirtitual and emotional highs, he would protect me in the crowds at all times, be my savior and companion at all times, and it would be like this spiritual honeymoon for us (without the honey).

So anyways, we get to our stopover and then he goes his way with his friends and I go my way with my friends. We eat separately and then the husbands help carry their wives carry-on bags down a big flight of stairs. (Very manly, I know). Then we get to our gate and the men in the group decide to go shower and dress in their ihrams. We wives wait and wait and wait. They finally come back shining in white and then we ladies went down to change.

The showers happen to be available so we decided to go turn by turn. Then we went and prayed in the airport musallah. We didn’t realize how much time had passed. Our husbands came looking for us completely frazzled and worried. We wives just kind of laughed it off. They were acting a bit over-protective but it was cute.

At Jeddah airport we sat for a while waiting for our bus to arrive. Again he sat with the men and I sat with the women. The bus ride was segregated as well, men in the front, women in the back. We finally get to our hotel in Makkah. I stayed with three of my friends and he stayed with his buds. I saw him again right before we were going to start our umrah.

Our first umrah together was very stressful. I was having some issues which led us to be separated from our group. We ended up doing our umrah on the main floor finally after Isha. I was an emotional mess. Doing tawaf around the Ka’ba is one of the most unique forms of ibadah ever. You feel like you are in a trance walking in circles reciting various dhikr and du’as that come in your heart sometimes even feeling like a zombie worshipper. People around you are chanting and moving the same way. It kind of also feels like the Day of Judgment. He didn’t hold on to me to protect me amongst the crowds. Instead he walked in front of me and I just held on to the strap of his backpack. Sa’ee is very tiring but I think it’s a very spiritually enlightening experience. Baba Longbeard had me recite du’as outloud as we performed Sa’ee. That was nice.

The rest of the week we saw each other at either breakfast or lunch time or during brief group gatherings. He did his thing and I did mine. To be honest, my most favorite ibadah moments were when I was not with him.

In Madina we were separated majority of the time too. We would come together to eat every so often, but at worship times we were on our own. Again, I liked that too.

Mina, Arafat, Muzdalifah all had the same pattern. He did his thing and I did mine.

It wasn’t until the whole group left and we got to stay behind and spend some extra days in Makkah that we spent proper time together. I actually got tested with my health those days and didn’t get that much time in the Haram.

One afternoon I was in bed in our apartment outside Makkah. Baba Longbeard had gone back to the Haram to take care of some things. That is when it hit me that no one is there for you except Allah. Allah knows I was there, by myself, yet I didn’t feel alone. Allah was with me as He always is, and from the beginning of our existence to our end it’s only Allah who is with us.

For over three weeks I was not a wife or a mother or a daughter or a sister.  I was simply a worshipper, serving my true purpose of why I was created.

So what’s the point of all this? There really wasn’t much of Hajj and marriage in my experience. I realize that Hajj is a means to bring you back to your Creator, not bring you closer to others, not even your spouse. Yes, Baba Longbeard and I had a life-changing experience, but we had two separate experiences and that’s okay.

I am so grateful to Allah for hosting us in His Home. He is the Host of All Hosts. May He preserve our iman and put barakah in our lives and marriages and families in this life and the next….ameen.

 

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Asalaamu alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu.

Ramadan Kareem!

I pray you are in the best of health and iman this Ramadan insha Allah.

We all know the rewards this month are great for the fasters and believers and worshippers but what about all the husbands and wives out there? There doesn’t seem to be much discussion or reminders of what marriage is like in Ramadan….like a test.

The days are long, hot, and tiring. You are cranky, exhausted, hungry, sleep-deprived and have bad breath. It’s easy to take your frustrations out on your spouse during these days. But you have to remember that being a good spouse is an act of worship and the rewards are greatly increased in Ramadan.

So here’s how to make the most of your marriage during this blessed month and reap many extra rewards insha Allah:

Bismillah.

1. Be patient. This may seem the most obvious point but is also one of the hardest. Sometimes we are the nicest and most patient with everyone else BUT our spouse. Be more mindful of how you treat your significant other and know he/she is going through the same thing as you. So be nice to each other especially while you’re fasting.

2. Those that pray together stay together. Spend time making du’a together. Join together in supplication and it will bring your hearts closer. Ask Allah, and you shall receive.

3. Don’t fikhir do dhikr. Remember Allah and do salawat on the Prophet (SAW). It will calm your hearts.

4. The masjid. Encourage your husband to pray as many prayers of the day in the mosque including the fard prayers and tarawih. He will bring the barakah back into the house and you will receive the reward. This encouragement should be happening even out of Ramadan as well. Many times we expect them to stay home for iftar and dinner and miss maghrib in the masjid. Push for him to break fast and pray maghrib, then come home to eat dinner with you. Also, encourage him to go for ithikaf during the last 10 days. Besides all the reward both of you will receive from it, the time apart will be good for both of you.

5. Make his favorite foods. The way to a man’s heart is definitely his stomach. Don’t slave the whole day over the stove and waste precious ibadah time. However, make some effort preparing or arranging some of his favorite foods. He will love you for it.

6. Qur’an competition. A healthy and encouraging little competition during the month is to see which spouse can read the most Qur’an in a day, week, and month.

7. Tahajjud and suhoor. Wake up early and pray tahujjud prayer together and then enjoy a nice meal together before dawn. Try not to talk but do make loving eye contact and just enjoy each other’s company and then again make du’a together.

8. Alone time. Trying to find alone time for each other is quite tricky this month. It’s highly important to reconnect and make time for each other. Don’t forget that intimacy is also an ibadah. 😉

9. Exception to the norm. Remember that this month is full of precious days. Don’t waste time and energy stressing on how things are not going as normal or as usual. Just make the most of it.

10. Use as an example. Also use this month and all your behavioral improvements, ibadah increases, spiritual development individually and collectively as a couple to continue through the rest of the year insha Allah.

Please remember your sister in Islam during this great month. Happy fasting and wife-ing.

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Bismillah. Disclaimer:  I’m no scholar.
So in the spirit of Ramadan, I’m just going to go ahead and give you my 2 cents on hijab.
Stop taking it off, ladies. Stop telling me that it’s too hard for you. Stop saying that it’s not who you really are. Stop saying you’ll put it back on when you’re older or old. Stop saying that now it’s okay for you to wear short, short sleeves and keep your chest exposed in tight-fitted low-neck tops. All I have to say is WHAT?! Why did you put it on in the first place? It’s not removable. It’s a commitment for life, not a choice.
Those of you who took it off after engagement or marriage, stop blaming your husband or in-laws or your parents for “making” you take it off. Did your main squeeze not know who you were when you met? Did he MISS something???? And men, why do you want other men gawking at your wife? What’s wrong with you?
Hijab is a lifestyle improvement. I’ve been wearing it for over a decade now alhumdullilah. But notice I used the word “wear” instead of “practice” hijab. That is actually the appropriate word that should be associated with hijab because it is a concept…not an object. Although it may seem like an object wrapped around your head, but it is much more than that. I would like to say that I personally practice hijab, but I’m not completely there yet…even after this many years. I do wear it but it’s a gradual process…an evolution that you progress and develop through slowly. I’m no better than someone who doesn’t wear it. I have a long way to go still and lots of improvements to make iA.
Now I commend you for wearing it or just considering it. Allah is bringing you closer to Him in this way. As a mother and especially a mother of a daughter, I realize the importance of modesty and conservatism much more now. You don’t want your daughters to necessarily make the same decisions as you…you want them to be better and stronger. That is at least how I am with my daughter.
The way we were raised is very “cultural” and not very “religous.” Overall you can say our parents were “conservative” because they didn’t encourage dating or a “loose” lifestyle where we as girls would party or go clubbing. However, when it comes to Islam, it was more for fasting and praying for the most part not changing our life around. I would say religion was more practiced when it was convenient than anything else.
Now as you know Islam is a way of life. So culture and religion should be intertwined. Now we cover ourselves when we stand in front of Allah in prayer right? But isn’t Allah always watching us? Aren’t we always in front of Him?
Many people argue that in the Qur’an it doesn’t specifically say to “cover your hair/head”.  It actually says to cover the chest for women. Now that is an easy argument or should I say escape method for those that don’t want to consider hijab. People pick and choose things from the Qur’an that are convenient for them. Yes, it is a Book that we can read for face value. But it is SO much more than that and there is much research and study that needs to be done when interpreting the Qur’an. You can’t just translate an ayah and say “that’s what it says.” Many people don’t realize that when that ayah came down, the women of that era/time were already covering their heads. That was a natural part of life. (Look at even all the religious epic movies like Ten Commandments and Passion of Christ or all the pictures depicting the Virgin Mary and so on….they are always shown with their heads covered). But those same women were covering their heads with their shawls hanging behind their shoulders over their backs so the shape of their chests was exposed. That is why if you study that ayah #31 in Surah Nur, it actually commands the women to bring their shawls “around” to the front of their bodies to cover their “bosoms”. It doesn’t state to cover their heads because they were already covering them.
Although a woman’s hair can be one of her most attractive features, it is a woman’s body that gets more attention…especially her chest and backside to be frank. Guys don’t check out a girl’s hair and fall in love with her necessarily. It is her chest or backside that makes them lust over her more.
This is where the “practice” of hijab comes in. Hijab means “covering” as in the action more than the noun.
If you are considering hijab seroiusly, I’d advise you to do baby steps. First and foremost, make sure your husband is 110% supportive. You both need to be on the same page spritually or he needs to be leading you in that direction somehow in order to keep you and your marriage sane. Secondly, start making small changes like wearing long sleeves, looser tops and pants, covering your chest and make sure you are comfortable. Also, if you aren’t already then start making sure you are praying all 5 prayers a day. Once you start doing that everything else falls in place. That is a fard (obligation) we can’t ignore or undermine. That is the most important and the first thing that will come protect us in our grave. I also recommend praying isthakara and asking Allah to guide you through this process more smoothly.
Then when you think if and when you are ready to start wearing hijab, practice wearing it to the grocery store, library, park, etc. See how it makes you feel. One of the first things I realized was that I already don’t “fit in” in this country because I’m not Caucasian. Nobody is going to speak for me or save me on the Day of Judgment from Allah so I need to stop caring and worrying about what others think.
As Muslims, we should naturally be God-conscience and be thinking of Him at all times. With hijab you tend to be more aware of your actions and who you are as a human being. We don’t live crazy “harami” lifestyles where by putting a hijab on we will have to “give up” so much. Trust me when I say that hijab hasn’t hindered me from living a “normal” life. If anything it’s made my life better and worth living, because I know who I am.
I love walking past a stranger and receiving a salaam from them. No other religion has that. Yes, the media has really screwed up the image of Muslims, but that’s why we have to represent the truth. Let them see that we are good God-fearing and God-loving people.
It is not foreign to other faiths either. Christians and Jews are commanded to cover their heads as well (Corinthian 1:11) but modernity has taken over and women here feel the less they wear the more liberated they are. Even Muslim women have fallen into this illusion. That makes me sad that they have to become practically naked to be recognized and get anywhere in this world. If that’s not oppression I don’t know what is.
Your husband should be the only one to truly admire and see your full beauty. I don’t want to walk into a McDonald’s and be checked out by a greasy cashier to feel good about myself. When I dress up at home and get “checked out” by my hubby, that’s when I feel beautiful and Allah rewards you for that.
May Allah make this process smooth and easy for us and bring us all on the Straight Path ameen.

Forgive me if I offended anyone. That was never my intention.

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