Friday, 7 February 2014

Struggling to Submit - Poem




Assalaamu'alaykum

Here is an awesome poem written by a young member of the Diamonds of Islam Youth Group at the 2013 Struggle to Submit (Part 2) sisters event. Very wise, deep and inspiring for someone her age tabarakallah!

Struggling to Submit


By Sara (11 years old)

Trouble arises in our community.
There is a struggle.
To submit.
To Allah.

On the day of their birth, a child, is innocent, pure and clean,
Sadly, years later, their goodness, is unseen.
Something’s happening, that’s changing us from good to bad,
There are muslims that aren’t praying,
But it’s not a passing fad,
Their faces are plastered in colours and lines,
Speeding in cars, receiving fines,
They say they’re trying to be Muslim…that they’re just struggling a bit ….this, oh youth is the struggle to submit,

Temptations too close at hand,
Earphones, which once played the Qur’aan,
Now shouts the sound of music, which calls them to haraam,

Our youth is slipping and sliding, our foundations are crumbling away.
What is happening to our youth?
What is distracting them away?
We want them to be believe, not to be guided astray,


Their once faithful hearts are turning to black,
Is it belief that they lack?
Society
Deception
Lies
Emptiness
Trying to fill,
False promises of happiness

Have they gone too far?
Can we bring them back?
Are they too far away from the righteous track?
Have they let go of the rope of Allah?
Are they too distracted by this life’s hardship?

There are so many challenges that we have to face in this its as if you’re on an Obstacle Course.
The path you’re following is bumpy,
and sometimes there are roads, that lead to the bad side, there’s rocks that you have to jump over,
 and sometimes you’re going to get cut,
 there’s stairs that you’ll have to climb, and sometimes you’re going to fall off.
 Sometimes you’re going to collapse, into millions of pieces-
sometimes you feel like screaming, because it’s hard…to stay on this path, when we’re bombarded with continuous indecency.

What’s going to happen? I don’t know.

Youth is focused on now, and making their hearts full of fleeting happiness, youth wants to find something, youth wants to be the first, the best.

The happiness they’re looking for is in Islam,
The hadith, the prayer, and in the Qur’aan!
They don’t listen. They don’t bother.

I’m scared of the struggles that await me,
I haven’t faced so many challenges yet,
I don’t know what to expect,

I’m worried, anxious, as I nervously wait,
For my challenges to come,
I don’t know if I’m going to pass,
Or if I’m going to get lost too,
But this is why I’m telling you,
All these reminders, this whole poem,
I don’t want you to get lost either,
We never know what’s coming,
We may be excellent muslims now,
But our futures may be different,
And as we journey through the obstacles in life
We will all face trouble and strife,
It is the help of Allah we must remember to seek, not that of a song, or a celebrity’s tweet.


Just remember at the times you struggle and grieve, after the hardship, always comes ease.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

The Diamonds Ramadhan Challenge!


This Ramadhaan I gave the Diamonds of Islam Youth Group girls a Ramadhaan Challenge wherein they were given the choice to complete some or all of a list of challenges during the month. Some of the challenges were to pray Taraweeh on 7 different occasions, read 7 Juz of the Quran, help 7 people, donate $7 per week to a charity (come on now young people are on a tight budget!) and/or watch 7 Islamic lectures. And yes, you guessed it, all based on my favourite number 7!

Here was the experience of one of the girls:

Here is my ramadan challenge. I decided to choose the taraweeh prayers as i had been planning to complete taraweeh at the mosque this year instead of at home.

9th July 2013: 
My first time experiencing taraweeh at the mosque. We prayed Isha first then after we completed the salah the taraweeh prayer began. I found it easier to concentrate, i tried really hard to feel more of a connection with Allah (swt). Each rakah we read one page of surah Baqarah, after four rakahs there was a small lecture about the importance of fasting and how fasting is not only about keeping away from food and drinks, but about how we as people should behave and conduct ourselves, which was a really great reminder. We prayed another four rakahs and every time my head touched the ground i asked Allah (swt) for forgiveness and to have mercy on me and every time i did this i felt like a brick had been lifted off my chest. The eight rakahs went by so quickly and after that we prayed witr prayers, which was also a first for me. I think i was a just a bit too startled and confused when everyone had raised their hands in dua to have a full concentration but inshallah next prayer i will understand what will happen and be able to put my full concentration and dedication towards the dua and the witr prayer. it was a good first experience of taraweeh prayer alhamdullilah.

10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th July 2013:
Alhamdullilah taraweeh prayer has made me feel as light as a feather, praying and standing, concentrating on the precious words of Allah (swt) is the best feeling a person could feel. During all these nights i felt like i had become a more peaceful and calm. i felt my iman reaching new levels i had never thought were possible. The main things i always asked Allah (swt) for was: guidance (to be on the straight path), for forgiveness and mercy on the day of judgement, for a place in Jannah, for my non-muslim relatives to see the light of islam and inshallah one day become good muslims, i also made good dua for others who have had a major impact on me and my life and inshallah Allah (swt) will reward them generously.

Ramadan this year for me has been hands down the best ramadan I've experienced i gained more of a connection with Allah (swt) my iman has strengthened and i absolutely loved praying taraweeh at kewdale mosque. Inshallah next years Ramadan will be even more beneficial than this year :)


So beautiful mashallah! May Allah accept everyone's worship, duaa and tawbah - ameen! 

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Good Deeds in Ramadhan


Bismillah

Here are some community based ideas for good deeds during Ramadhaan and particularly during the last 10 days Inshallah:


  • Register for your local Eid Toy Drive so that kids without much family, money or support can receive some lovely gifts to make their day!
  • Donate to your local Halal Food Bank so that you can earn the reward for feeding the poor and needy in your local community.
  • Write to a Prisoner in Guantanamo or a Muslim in prison nearby.
  • Feed people who are sleeping at the masjid and making I'tikaf. Make a simple dish and put into containers to give out.
  • Make dried fruit, date & nut containers to give to the Masjid in the last 10 days for the people doing I'tikaaf.
  • Whilst the brothers get to go to the Masjid for I'tikaf, perhaps sisters can gather at someone's house and have Iftar together, followed by congregational salah for Maghrib, Isha, Taraweeh and Tahajjud. The night can be broken up into sessions of Quran recitation, tafseer reading, thikr, Islamic discussion and more. Sounds like the perfect slumber party!
  • Make bags of dates tied with ribbon and give with a fact sheet about Ramadhan to your local non Muslim school, library, gym, workplace etc. This fact sheet is great to use: Ramadan in a Nutshell for Non Muslims.
  • When making sweets for Eid, nicely package some for your neighbours along with an info sheet or short message like this:

    Hi Neighbour!

    We are the ___________ family who live at ______________________ and you've probably noticed that we are Muslim.
    J

    What you might not know is that Muslims all around the world are currently fasting from food & drink during the daylight hours for 30 days to mark the holy month of Ramadan. We’ve only got a few days left before it’s over and then we have our big Eid Celebrations.

    We hope you enjoy some of our Eid sweets!

    Thanks for being a great neighbour!

    Regards,
    The ____________Family

That's all I can think of for now. If you have any great suggestions please share in the comments box below!

Jazakumallahu khairan!




Amazing Alia & Living with a Disability


Bismillah

I'd like to introduce you all to an inspiring 18 year old, young Muslim woman who I had the privilege to meet a few weeks ago. She is a brand new member of the Diamonds of Islam Youth Group, she is funny, articulate, intelligent and has an amazing story to tell about her journey through life thus far as a person who was born with Cerebral Palsy.

She gave the speech below at our last youth group session on 'Understanding Disabilities' and gave us the insight as to what her life has been like throughout her childhood and youth. She shares the struggles she has endured and she reminds us that she just wants to be treated like everyone else. Like the rest of us, she should be defined by her talents and strengths and not by her disability.


I love her already. You will too.






Asalamualikum Everyone,

Bismilah,

Hold my hand and walk with me. We must break the back of social inequity; we must empower every individual with a disability. To live with dignity in an inclusive society.
 (Quoted by William E. Lightbourne)

My name is Alia and today I like to share with you my story or as I like to call it my “unforgettable journey. Before I begin I thought I share with you a bit about myself.  I’m known for my wicked sense of humour, I’m not sure about that though .My hobbies are reading novels mostly fiction but I’m not bothered. I love watching movies and anything which has humour comedians i.e.; Russel Peters!   I was born in the year of 1995 with a disability called “Cerebral Palsy “. Cerebral palsy is a term which encompasses a set of neurological conditions that causes physical disability in human development - that affects the brain and nervous system. Cerebral palsy is divided into many sub categories and in my case its “Spastic diplegia “which is muscle tightness.

Being a teenager is one thing in this so called “modern society “but having a disability on top of that is totally another thing. Growing up I had my ups and downs. School was my least favourite place. I have had my fair share; I’ve cried, I’ve laughed. I fell, I got back up and most of all I’ve learnt that there’s life beyond Cerebral Palsy.

For me and many alike with cerebral palsy it’s a challenge but it’s also a gift. It’s challenging because I have to face really nasty people and I’m an easy target so they  say . We aren’t disadvantaged Allah has just chosen us to be to be among those who he tested. Remember only hard tasks are giving to the strongest warriors.

Too often, even in our own day, children with special needs have been set apart and excluded. Too often, state and federal laws add to their challenges, instead of removing barriers and opening new paths of opportunity. Too often, they are made to feel that there is no place for them in the life of our country, that they don't count or have nothing to contribute. This attitude is a grave disservice to these beautiful children, to their families, and to our country.
For some students, primary school is usually a time to grow, learn and make mistakes. But for others it’s much more than that. Primary school for me was difficult and challenging I felt like I didn’t belong, simply because no one gave me the chance to explain my condition. Students in my class realized I was different from them, as I performed much slower in everything I did. 
 A lot of people saw my disability and held it against me for being different. They pin point out all the faults in me and decided to hate me and everything.  It’s not a nice feeling when people hate you , especially for no reason.

Throughout my primary schooling; I got bullied, pushed around etc. I didn’t have many friends and no one to stick up for me. However when I felt like I had the company of   classroom peers, I didn’t realize all the students wanted to do was to trip, push and spit at me when there was no teacher around. It always made me happy when a student from my class would speak to me but that rarely happened. After years of trying to prove others to look beyond my disability, I gave up. I really did, it seemed like a black cloud was over me and I was just waiting for it to rain. I felt pointless.

I got treated really badly in school and outside of school. There are people who accept people like us but then there are the people who are rude not patient and inconsiderate.

Impatient people try to rush people with disabilities through life. This is issue is one that will never be forgotten. Why? Because everyday someone with a disability is made fun of a school, on the street etc. That people forget the more serious stuff.

Understanding needs to be brought to our society, a deeper understanding of what each of us, who carries a disability.  It’s good to help them with work, schooling and so on, but to pretend everything else is fine is selfish. Not saying that helping with these isn’t good, it’s great, but people need to dig deeper and find a way to stop the hate. Even if people can bring knowledge to a few, it’s a few more people who will show the sympathy and respect to those who deserve and need to feel good about themselves and their lives.

Let me tell you, a few words could change someone’s life forever. I got called so many names which I guess I won’t mention but I hope you get what I’m trying to say .It’s almost like blaming a tree  on how it’s structured  …pretty ridiculous huh ? The most famous line people say to me ; Why you like that ? What’s wrong with you ?  Oh stop (stap) it, making me feel like I’m famous and all . I don’t answer like that at all .

Allah says in the Quran:

48:17

"There is no blame for the blind, nor is there blame for the lame, nor is there blame for the sick (that they go not forth to war). And who so obey Allah and His messenger, He will make him enter Gardens underneath which rivers flow; and those turned back, him will He punish with a painful doom. "48:17

 There are many challenges I have faced throughout my life .I would like to share with you some of the challenges;

 The most challenging experience would have to be when I’m out in public. Usually at the shopping centres people would look down on me like I’m an alien which invaded earth . Some of the customers will push me around etc. One day actually I was with my social working causally walking around the shop . This lady who was behind us started to huff and puff saying under her breath “ I don’t have all day and what not “ and brushed past me .She could easily walked around and saved her breath!  I have come across many people who are so rude and intolerant. I mean come on, if someone with cerebral palsy or any form of disability is in front of you  walking/with a wheelchair it’s not going to harm you waiting just a few seconds while they pass , It’s really unfair when people find little things to discriminate me or others .

There came a day when I decided to shut down, I didn’t bother to make any effort in gaining friendship with others or professional relationships. I got really down for a few days. Those few days turned into a few months and those few months turned into years. I tried with all my will to help people to help me, but as we know we can only do so much for people after that it’s up to them really !

It’s amazing what just a few years of being bullied can do to someone. I will be honest with after high school I was too traumatized to go out and do the things I want to do . Why? It’s because of the past comments I got as a kid. I’m so much stronger now but like they say no matter how you build a building which has been destructed. It will still be a building just not the same building as before. That’s how my life has been after all my past events. Please remember to look out for your friends, you know check on them if you don’t hear from them in a while .I have been in such situations and the minute someone say’s “Hey what’s up?” it makes my days! Help those who are less weaker than that have disabilities.

It’s said to turn dreams into reality. Insha Allah I hope you all understand where I’m coming from, if a few people understand what more can we ask?! Sometimes under social stress and situations we can go into the misconception of judging people for useless matters. We must rise above that ,we must be people of understanding.

“The only disability in life is a bad attitude.”  
Scott Hamilton

Thanks for listening everyone . Any questions?


Walikumusalaam 

Monday, 29 July 2013

For the Ladies: Your 'Monthlies' in Ramadhan


Bismillah,

For many Muslim women, getting their menses during the month of Ramadhaan causes a loss of routine and productivity when in actual fact, a woman can do lots of other types of worship besides fasting and ritual prayer. We must not let this time of the month get us down and de-motivated about worship as it is a mercy and blessing from Allah which we must accept and embrace.
The hadith of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam reminds us of this:
Ayesha narrates that, “We set out with the sole intention of performing Hajj and when we reached Sarif, my menses began. The Messenger of Allāh sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam came to me while I was crying and asked, 'What is the matter with you? Has your menses started?' I replied, 'Yes.' He said, 'This is something which Allāh has destined for the daughter of Adam.'” (Al-Hakim)
Listed below are some ideas on how to have a productive and fulfilling Ramadhaan routine despite having your monthlies!


1) Plan ahead.

 As always, it's important to plan ahead. Have a game plan for holding on to your worshiping routine once you get your monthlies. Keep a Ramadhaan journal where you list your ideas of what to do once you get your menses. Also list your Ramadhaan goals, duaas, changes to make, Quran reading schedule, daily schedule, good deeds idea list, cooking schedule etc. Check out my earlier post Beneficial and Productive Ramadhaan Tips!


2) Quran

Although scholars and schools of thought may differ with regards to the permissability of reciting Quran during your monthlies, many scholars do permit one to recite it particularly if you are a student of the Quran (and hopefully we all are). It is helpful to use a Quran with the English translation as we are not allowed to touch the Holy Quran (all in Arabic).

So inshallah a woman with her menses should still be able to:

  • Do her daily Quran recitation (e.g. a juz per day to achieve your goal of completing one full recitation in Ramadhaan)
  • Continue her memorisation (hifdh) of new verses and review of previously memorised chapters.
  • Read the Quran translation & tafseer  (explanation of the Quan e.g. Tafsir Ibn Kathir, please remember to try to deeply contemplate the verses!
  • Listen to the Quran (when cooking, cleaning or doing chores).

3) Thikr, Duaa, Tawbah, Istighfar and more.

A Muslim woman in her menses can still partake in:

  • Lots of Thikr (morning and evening athkaar, the athkaar after ever prayer etc) See makedua.com and every household should have copies of the 'Fortress of the Muslim' duaa book.
  • Lots of duaa (personal duaa list as well as the duas before and after doing things as prescribed by the Prophet Muhammad SAW).
  • Lots of Istighfar & repentance.
  • Lot of  Salawat (sending of prayers and blessings) on the Prophet SAW.

4) Keep the salah routine:
At Salah time, sit in your prayer room and use the time for beneficial worship , remembrance and learning. You can make thikr with Khushoo (concentration), read the translation of the Quran, listen to an Islamic lecture or read an Islamic book or article.

5) Think community! 

  • During your menses is a good time to busy yourself with helping others during the time that is freed up from not having to make salah. Some suggestions are:
  • Iftar at your home or food container deliveries (so your worship schedule isn't interrupted)
  • Masjid babysitting so that mothers can pray with concentration
  • Support a convert sister with gifts, visits, encouragement, Islamic lessons etc.
  • Take part in iftar preparations at home or at iftar gatherings as you will be rewarded for assisting those fasting in breaking their fast. And how awesome is it that even though we cannot fast, we can still earn the reward of a fasting person! Easy peasy! How generous is Allah! On the authority of Zayd bin Khaalid al-Juhani, may Allaah be pleased with him, said that the Prophet, may Allaah grant him safety and peace, said: “Whoever feeds a fasting person will have a reward like that of the fasting person, without any deduction coming from the fasting persons reward.” [Collected by At-Tirmidhi and he said: "The hadeeth is sound and authentic."]
  • Teach a sister how to read Quran or how to pray (an awesome never-ending source of reward Inshallah)
6) Eid Preparations
  • Do your Eid Prep like wrapping gifts (gifts should be bought before Ramadhaan), card making, baking etc.
  • It is a good time to do your refreshing Eid clean so do your de-cluttering, dusting, organising and cleaning whilst listening to Quran or a beneficial lecture.

Do you have any tips to share? Please comment in the box below!

May Allah bless all our sisters with forgiveness, reward, motivation and steadfastness in this blessed month Ameen! 

For more information, tips and advice see the video and links below (and have a read of the advice from Shaykh Ubayd Al-Jaabiree).






A Woman’s Guide to Spirituality in Ramadan during Menstruation and Postnatal Bleeding



Menstruating During al-Laylatul Qadr?

Q: What are the actions that a woman who is on her menses, the actions she might perform while she is looking for lailatul qadr?

Shaykh Ubayd al-Jaabiree:

Oh my Daughter, have glad tidings and give glad tidings to the others; your sisters in Islaam the daughters of the sunnah, those that follow the sunnah.

That the woman who is in her menses she is allowed to do all things that are legislated for the men and the women that are out of their menses except for fasting and praying. Besides that, he said, you know and you should teach the other sisters in Islaam, that the woman, the Muslim woman, is allowed to stand in lailatul qadr or establish in lailatul qadr: the recitation of the quraan, and making dua supplication to Allaah for all that is good, as well as istighfaar seeking Allaah’s forgiveness, and takbeer saying Allaahu Akbar and tasbeeh saying SubhaanAllaah, and tahmeed saying Alhumdulillaah and saying also laa illaaha illAllaah and the other forms of remembrance and dhikr. The shaikh while he was handing me the mic reminded us of the statement that the Prophet (sallAllaahu `alayhi wa sallam) used to say while looking for lailatul qadr

(Dua’a read aloud in Arabic)

“Oh Allaah you are the Pardoner and the giver of asylum, so Pardon me because you love to Pardon.”

And he said that you should know that any person that is kept back, and prevented from doing what is better for them from performing righteous actions, any person who is prohibited or a matter comes between them and these righteous actions due to a legislated excuse then this person should know that if they have the right intention and they have a strong will to come closer to Allaah and to better themselves with prayers or fasting or with whatever action it might be, whoever has an excuse a legislated excuse and has that strong will and that strong intention then they should know that Allaah Writes the aj’ar or benefits or reward for them. This is as we find in the hadeeth of the Prophet (sallAllaahu `alayhi wa sallam) when he was travelling with some of the sahaba on a path to the battlefield where he said that,

” There are a people in Madeenah from your brothers, that you don’t pass any mountain, and you don’t go through any valley except that they, your brothers in Madeenah are with you in the aj’ar, in the reward and benefits, that you are gathering the good deeds that you are gathering by going out in the path of Allaah, the only thing that stopped them meaning your brothers in Madeenah the only thing that stopped them and came between them in being with you is a legislated Islaamic excuse.”

So the person should understand that very well the shaykh said.



Islamic Motherhood



This beautiful paragraph is dedicated to all the Muslim mothers out there who struggle with feelings of inadequacy or perhaps feel that they do not have enough time to formally worship Allah due to their busy days tending to and teaching their children!


"When she has her first baby, she must manage for another life even more dependent on her personal sacrifices. By the second, third, or fourth child, her days and nights belong almost entirely to others. Whether she has a spiritual path or not, such a mother can seldom resist a glance at the past, when there were more prayers, more meanings, more spiritual company, and more serenity.
When Allah opens her understanding, she will see that she is engaged in one of the highest forms of worship, that of producing new believers who love and worship Allah. She is effectively worshipping Allah for as many lifetimes she has children, for the reward of every spiritual work her children do will be hers, without this diminishing anything of their own rewards: every ablution, every prayer, every Ramadan, every hajj, and even the works her children will in turn pass on to their offspring, and, so on till the end of time. 

Even if her children do not turn out as she wishes, she shall be requited in paradise forever according to her intention in raising them, which was that they should be godly. 

Aside from the tremendous reward, within the path itself it is noticeable that many of those who benefit most from khalwa or 'solitary retreat of dhikr' are women who have raised children. 

With only a little daily dhikr and worship over the years, but much toil and sacrifice for others, they surpass many a younger person who has had more free time, effort, and 'spiritual works.' What they find is greater because their state with Allah is greater; namely, the awe, hope, and love of the Divine they have realized by years of sincerity to Him." 

by Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller 

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Ramadhaan Prep with the Kids!


Bismillah!

Ramadhaan is always a special time for our household and it is becoming more and more of a family affair as the kids get older. We like to plan ahead and discuss Ramadhaan from at least a month before to help the children become excited and motivated about the upcoming blessed month.

Now we all know that if we don't plan ahead when it comes to goals and aspirations, then we are likely to fall short of what we seek to achieve in life. Likewise, with the month of Ramadhaan, it is important to set some goals as a family and also to aid your children in preparing for what they themselves would like to achieve.

As a child, I never really had such training or guidance when it came to Ramadhaan and pretty much just fasted as much as I could without any real awareness of the deeper meaning of the month. I don't recall or remember learning anything specific both at home or at school and have only really been able to make the most of the month as an adult after studying and learning about it as an adult alhamdulillah.

As a parent and teacher of my own children, I obviously want more for them than what I myself was able to achieve and experience in my youth and childhood. So that requires me to put in a bit of effort to think ahead and get busy!

Listed below are some of the planning ideas and Ramadhaan activities that I have found to be very helpful in motivating my children for Ramadhaan and fasting.
  • Talk and talk and talk about Ramadhaan so that everyone gets EXCITED!
  • Make a count down chart so the kids can count down the days as the month approaches
  • Start learning about the deeper meaning of Ramadhaan YOURSELF so that you can explain things to the kids, answer their questions and prepare for it yourself too!
  • Watch Ramadhaan lectures together or play them in the house while the kids have 'quiet time' or are playing. They are listening more than we realise!
  • Make a colorful 'Ramadhaan' brainstorm poster as a family and let everyone contribute what they know about Ramadhaan. Don't forget to stick it up somewhere!
  • Let each person write a list of personal goals for Ramadhaan (things they want to commit to doing and things they want to change or improve on).
  • Everyone write a duaa list of things they want to ask Allah for (especially right before Iftar!)
  • Decorate the house or do Ramadhaan themed craft activities.
  • Compile a list of 'good deeds to do during Ramadhaan'
  • Print out some Ramadhaan activity booklets to do with the kids before and during Ramadhaan.
  • Start discussing what the daily routine will be like so that the children are aware of the upcoming changes. We lilke to write up a rough daily schedule so that the kids know what's happening and when.
  • Ask the children if they'd like to cook Iftar for the family and let them take care of everything, from the grocery shopping, the menu and the cooking!
  • Look for different sectors of the community that you can help as a family (e.g. convert support, donate to a halal food bank, volunteer to help out at a community iftar, give charity money to an organisation and let the kids give some of their savings too etc)
  • Start discussing some Eid performance ideas (on Eid day our children do speeches, read poems and sing nasheed for the family).
The ideas are endless Subhanallah!

I found this article to contain some fantastic tips as well, So check it out!

Have a blessed month of worship! Ameen!

Please share what ideas you have in the comments box below!

Monday, 1 July 2013

She's Baaaaaack!!!!! (A 2013 Update!)

Bismillah!

Assalaamu'alaykum/Hello to all my readers! 

I know, I know, a big 'tsk' 'tsk' for me because I haven't posted in about six months! Naughty Sister Calisha! I promise I have a valid excuse! Give me a chance and hear me out and I'll fill you in on all the 'hot goss'.......not really!

Well it has been a big busy year so far Alhamdulillah. In August 2012 I fell pregnant with my fourth child (what is meant by 'fell' anyway?!?) and bubs was due to be born on May 15th, 2013. So for me, that meant I had to achieve my intended goals for 2013 in only five and half months! With all thanks to Allah I managed to schedule and accomplish what I had intended to do so that I could enjoy the other half of the year at a slower pace with my precious family and our newest addition!

So here's what's been happening:


  • The owner of our rented home had put the house on the market for sale in late 2012 so we had to find another place. In February 2013, after two months of house hunting, ridiculous rental prices and ten rejected applications, we managed to find a house about two weeks before our lease was up Alhamdulillah. The new place was only a few minutes from where we were living and after a  few hectic weeks of moving, cleaning, unpacking and sorting we were slowly settling in at our new place.
  • Some of you may or may not be aware but the IQRA Islamic Library was at my previous house and after being unable to find an alternate home, the library (consisting of what seemed like two tonnes of books!!!) had to move in with us as well. Mind you, Alhamdulillah it's a blessing to have so many books available and under my care. So please keep it in mind and come and borrow from the wonderful range of books that have been donated to our community!

    Back to basics Class 2013
  • We ran the Back to Basics Islamic Studies Course for the second time and had almost fifty initial enrollments mashallah. Sixteen weeks later at the end of the course, there were about thirty dedicated students left who 'graduated'. After teaching the basics for so many years, I never cease to learn more about Islam myself Alhamdulillah and always enjoy the energy and enthusiasm of the class members. It was great to see so many sisters from the community (mostly under thirty years of age and converts) eager to learn the all-so-vital basics of Islam.


  • In March, myself and a few amazing volunteers organised the Struggle to Submit Workshop Part 2 which was bigger and better than the previous years' event Mashallah. Over 100 sisters attended and it was held at Curtin University. There were inspiring guest speakers, lecture clips, interactive segments, free goody bags, lunch and lots more! The feedback was great and we make duaa for the ability to run Part 3 in 2014 if Allah wills!

    Da'wah table run at Bayswater Autumn River Festival
  •  I managed to squeeze in a bit of Da'wah work this year as well. I had taken a break from volunteering for Islam Australia for a while and wanted to get back into it as I feel it is such an important responsibility. I was able to help with running the da'wah table on three separate occasions (Perth City Mall, Bayswater Autumn River Festival and Altone  Comes Alive Festival).

    I was also able to speak to an organisation called Centrecare on behalf of the MWSC in front of what I thought would be a small group of staff. Well.....it turned out to be not ten people but a few hundred at their yearly professional training event and luncheon......eeek! (Punk'd much?) Nonetheless my (very unprepared) speech was taken well by the audience wherein I had to slightly adjust what I had intended to talk about to include extra information about Islam and some bits of unexpected humour (to calm my nerves!).

  • In March/April we made a last minute decision to take a family trip to Melbourne (our first ever) followed by an eight hour drive up north to Sydney to visit my younger sister who lives there. We brought along my mother in law as well as my own mum and little brother Zayn. It was a lovely trip and nice to have a bit of a getaway after the hectic house move, although I was worried that at thirty five weeks pregnant I could go into labour at anytime. I would have had to scrap my plans of a home birth (particularly if I was in a car on the way to Sydney from Melbourne and the closest hospital was in Wagga Wagga!).

    Q & A Panel of Shuyookh at Twins of Faith Conference -Sydney
  • Whilst in Sydney we attend the 'Twins of Faith Conference' which I had wanted to attend for many years but could never quite afford the trip each time. Mashallah it was a Imaan-boosting and beneficial two days of lectures and reminders, that gave hubby and I lots to talk about. I even managed to win a competition where I received a full dvd set of the previous years' conference! Woohoo!

    The view from the top story of our youth group 'camp' holiday house!
  • Later on in April the Diamonds of Islam Youth Group had their annual camp wherein the girls who had participated in the end of year event for 2012 (see Speak Your Mind flyer below) got to spend 3 days at a luxury spa holiday house on the beach in Mandurah. The 3 days consisted of team building activities, a boat ride on the estuary, beach games, pampering, cooking, crafts, personal development and Islamic workshops, discussions and more! There were definitely lots of great conversations, laughter and memories that I will never forget!



    The group meets once-per-month for different activities, outings and community projects, one of which involved a makeover of the Muslim Women's Support Centres' garden! Check out the before and after pics below! Not bad huh?


    BEFORE

    AFTER
  • Throughout all this excitement I've had to keep up with homeschooling my 10 and 6 year old children for five days per week. My six year old son is newly registered as a homeschooler with the Department of Education and is doing his first year of compulsory (home) schooling and would technically be in Pre-Primary! Mashallah he (and my almost 11 year old daughter) are is progressing well thus far! The kids have also had a few dentist appointments, library visits and not to mention their weekly tae kwon do and kickboxing classes! Busy little bees! We ask Allah to guide, bless and protect them always, Ameen.

    The 3 Amigos!
  • Some of my close friends and family have had babies so there have been dinners and catch ups with the pregnant mothers-to-be (it's girl season by the way!). Also a few friends have gotten married too tabarakallah (May Allah bless them ALL! - Ameen!)

    Yummy treats for a pregnant friend!
  • A few volunteer sisters and I have also been busy organising the Perth Convert Sisters Support Group meetings and social events which are held twice per month. There have been quite a few new converts and we have been busy making sure that our sisters are supported and able to access learning and friendship in the community. Please make duaa for the continued growth and success of this all-too-important support group!

    Marriage talk by Shaykh Faizel Ghaffoor at a Convert Sisters session in May
  • I've just recently hit the third year of teaching Quran Tajweed to a group of nine amazing ladies. The class is every Monday morning and the students have most recently completed Level 1 of their course mashallah. We look forward to working very hard over the next few years to complete Levels two and three and then hopefully seeing all the sisters graduate and become teachers themselves (with the Permission of Allah).

    The books we teach from (written by a convert sister mashallah)
  • And last but not least, the biggest goal and event of my year was the birth of my precious, precious baby. Alhamdulillah, Subhanallah, Mashallah, Tabarakallah our baby Madeenah Candemir was born on Tuesday May 21st, 2013 at 10:39am. She was six days overdue and born at home in a birthing pool after a quick but beautiful labour and delivery. Despite having a healthy, normal pregnancy (and baby being overall healthy at birth) Allah SWT(in His divine wisdom) had other plans.

    Baby Madeenah was born with meconium in her lungs and had to be taken to hospital not long after being born. After ten long days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit under sedation and on heavy breathing support, she had fully recovered and was allowed to come home and meet her siblings (children and visitors aren't allowed in the NICU). Alhamdulillah. Alhamdulillah. Alhamdulillah.

    It was definitely an experience which taught us a lot about patience, acceptance and trusting God's decree!

    Baby Madeenah's cute foot tabarakallah.
"Sigh!"

And now here I am, at 2am (and in true Calisha late-night-style) typing all of this up.

Life in July 2013 is at a different pace, alhamdulillah. We are busy with homeschooling as always, busy changing babies' nappies and feeding her on demand and of course busy with cooking, housework and chores
. We have visitors every few days, coming with care and love and bringing with them gifts for a very spoilt baby Madeenah (and me) mashallah. And whilst all of this appears to be 'busy-ness' we are feeling relaxed and mostly enjoying our days and hours at home gazing at precious Madeenah.

Alhamdulillah I am very grateful for all I've been able to achieve so far this year, and I acknowledge that it is all through the permission and mercy of Allah SWT. I thank Him and all of the friends, sisters and dedicated volunteers that I get to work with.

I wont tire you with my dreary update any longer, but thanks for reading and thanks for being patient with my absence!

Inshallah you will hear from me again soon(er)! Haha! Peace out!

Duaa and love,

Your sister Calisha Bennett.

Assalaamu'alaykum warahmatullah


P.S. You might wonder, what has inspired me to get my blog moving all of a sudden, on this night, at 2am?!? I was pushed to get writing again after reading the blog of a strong young sister who was diagnosed with cancer at a young age and passed away a few years later. Her blog posts gave such profound reminders and reflections subhanallah. It's reminded me of why I wanted to start blogging in the first place: to inspire, remind and help others Inshallah.

I encourage to read her blog (from 2008 and wok your way upwards). May Allah forgive her and grant her Jannah Ameen!

Monday, 17 December 2012

Short Convert Stories




Bismillah,
Here are some interesting recounts of some Perth convert sisters' journey's to Islam.

Sister Sonia -

Islam was the last thing that I expected to find at 18 years of age. These were suppose to be the"good years" spent having a "good time". My room mate introduced me to Islam and just the statement that Jesus was not the son of God but rather a prophet...had me sold. I went overnight from total darkness to belief, alhamdulillah.

Islam was immediately my everything, nothing else really mattered not my family, friends nor any of the previous aspirations i had before. Somehow it was an immediate fit...I know that many converts struggle at first, but for me the rest of the world didn't matter I just wanted to implement Islam in every area of my life because i knew wholeheartedly that if I could achieve that my life would undoubtedly be as perfect as it could be...Allah is the best of planners.

I met so many different people from different countries and I think that enhanced my first exposure to Islam...it was such a blessing, Allah replaced anything I had lost/given up from my" previous life" with so many new people etc that I could not complain at all...I always look back fondly at the first few years being Muslim as they were the "good years" and i had so many "good times"..ALHAMDULILLAH

P.S..there were times of hardship for sure especially with my mother...but mashaAllah....after hardship comes ease...tomorrow I am the daughter of the bride (my mum is getting married) so even the hardships I appreciate, because they have made the journey all the more memorable."

Sister Kate -

I'm not a new revert but I'm not an older revert either. I don't have the knowledge I should have (in my eyes). The first 18 months after I became Muslim I still worked in the hospitality industry 40+ hours a week, I had hardly any time to think about what I had done!!!

Then when I went to Egypt I thought it would make me a better Muslim, I don't know why. Because it didn't!! Not Egypt's fault, it was all my fault.

I guess I know now that it doesn't matter where I am, I have to work hard at being a better Muslim.'


Sister Sandy -

I reverted to Islam 9 years ago at the ago of 17 alhamdulilah. Like most Muslims, I had read a lot about it and was in such a hype, I wanted to do everything perfectly, I wore hijab, prayed and then took hijab off only to wear it for good 6 years later.

I have had ups and downs in my convert life and at the end of the day, it has a lot do to with who you hang out/keep in contact with. There weren't many reverts when I reverted and I couldn't (still cant) relate to the North African people who taught me about Islam and helped me through my journey.

I really felt like my Islam had meaning when I got married. What I mean is, I understood how important it was and brought me back to the hype I had when I converted when I decided I was going to be a wife and eventually a Mum and role model to someone.

There have been some lonely and miserable moments when I first arrived in Perth, until I met the Sisters at the Convert Group and felt like I really belonged somewhere. I am proud to say this group has kept me on track and motivates me to want to be a better person and seek knowledge. Also, I truly believe no-one can understand what a convert lady has been through except for another convert.




Sister Emily -

I reverted years ago after learning about Islam through my then boyfriend (now husband) we got married and I too outwardly did all things appropriate including wearing the hijab but for some reason (Allah swt knows best) I didn't actually actively try to learn more about islam.

I then fell off the wagon you could say. Took off the scarf and just lived life (not in a terrible way) but just not properly practicing. I felt like an outsider in both realms. My western friends I couldn't relate to that well anymore and any Arab community members (hubby is Lebanese) I felt judged and intimidated by (not their fault my own insecurities).

It's only recently since I realised that my son is at such a good age to be soaking up information that I have started reading and praying and actually practicing and a positive step was joining a covnert support group and feeling surrounded by like minded people. Also seeing positive role models has been helpful for me as well.



Sister Tania -

After reverting mid 2006 I copied a lot of the outward things Muslims did & it felt good but I think it was more a "belonging" feeling. I went up & down with a lot of outward actions but was void of a lot of necessary knowledge like praying in Arabic oppose to English. As time went on & I came to really understand the importance of prayer I felt ashamed to admit I'd been "Muslim" for so long but didn't know some of the fundamentals.

So basically after a realization of "what If one of my babies died & I wouldn't know how to pray for them at the Janazah" I started my journey to really understanding & learning about Islam. It's been a long & slow journey for me that's gone up & down but Alhumdulillah thanks to some very supportive, PATIENT, beautiful people I feel firm on my revert journey!!!