Live Below The Line: Day 2

Had to share this beautifully and lovingly written post from one of my favourite artists and people… a pure and simple soul now blogging about his living below the line fundraiser challenge.
[For readers waiting to see more of my trip to Andalusia, stay tuned – I am still on the road and just waiting to get home so I can upload some photos to an already written post. Learned and experienced so much. What a blessing travel is!]

Women Scholars and the forbidding of being sad :)

Assalamu alaikum (peace be with you) dear readers,

Tonight I have been doing some joyful (not sure this is a right way to use this favourite word of mine, I mean that I have been enjoying the task very much, and surely that can be said to be ‘joyful’) research on modern day influential Muslim women, in order to respond to a request by ‘genometalk’ commenting on the post about famous Muslim women I shared. Genometalk – Thank you for spurring me to do this!

Now I have a lot to say about this and inshaAllah (=God willing) tomorrow I will complete the post, but for tonight I want to highlight one woman. A ‘shaykha’ in her own right. BTW ‘sheikh’ literally means ‘old man’ and sheykha is the feminine form of that word. It is often given to a scholar as a title to convey the fact that they are learned. But if you walk on the streets in an Arab land, you will find people addressing the elderly as ‘ya sheikh’ (= O’ sheikh ) or ‘ya sheikha’ as a term of respect. And such is Arab colloquial custom that some times kids are called the same way as a term of endearment. [Having said that I can’t but help point out that it is strange idiom or language usage customs like these, that lead to so much confusion and error when translations are undertaken by those not familiar with ‘the other’. The orientalist movement contributed its fair share to this misunderstanding of the Muslim world due to this. Unfortunately the same types of misunderstanding are still prevalent].

Anse Tamara Grey (with thanks to W.B Abdullah,, ‘Anse’ is an affectionate title given to sister Tamara. It is used in Syria and means sometime like Shaykha, but as in an educational-nurturer) is a highly respected scholar. Here is a bio from her website. Do read more about her. For now, what I will share is something she wrote about what the Quran says about being sad. She is actually bringing to light a teaching by one of Islam’s best known scholars of yore, Ibn al-Qayyum al-Jawziya a polymath, who wrote vast amounts in many fields of religious sciences, especially to do with the heart, and in other sciences such as astronomy and medicine. I have one of his books on medicine actually, some remedies there I have used as well and they’ve been very effective keeping the sick-bugs away. Allah have mercy on him!

Taken from ‘The Sandal’ blog at this post – Journeying to places: the secret of joy and rest (II). [According to what I have understood from the share buttons there, I do not believe it is wrong to post it here with the above citation] –

“The word joy is one of my favorite words.  We can use it to say things like, “She cried tears of joy.” Or “At the moment she was soaking in the joy of being alive.” In its verb form we say, “Rejoice!” As an adjective, “She uttered a joyful noise!” and as an adverb, “The children giggled joyfully.”
 Sometimes I think we come to Islam thinking it is better to be miserable. We carry around a ‘martyr’s attitude.’ This is not the martyr who struggles and fights, and is killed in the way of God. No, this is the whining and complaining ‘poor-me’ martyr.  Poor me I have to live in a small apartment; poor me I have to live in (and clean) a big house; poor me I’m not married; poor me I’m married; poor me I have only one child; poor me I don’t have any children; poor me I have to do the dishes every day; poor me I have to work; poor me I can’t work… and it goes on and on and on.
Every life in essence is the same. All have great and wonderful moments and all have trials.  The only difference is in our ‘rida’ (N.B – my translation rida=contentment, being pleased with a the state one finds oneself in) of this life, this stage of life, this moment.
Ibn al-Qayyim tells us that there is no mention of huzn (grief/ sadness/ sorrow) in the Qur’an except in two places. It is forbidden in the verse: {Do not weaken and do not grieve} (3:139), and it is rejected in the verse, {No fear shall afflict them, nor shall they grieve} (2:274). The secret behind this is that ‘huzn’ (grief/ sorrow) is of no benefit to the heart. It is most beloved to Shaitan (N.B my translation = satan) that the believer suffers in grief and depression so that it throws him off course and stops him in his tracks.
Indeed, the Prophet (s) sought refuge from grief, saying, “O Allah, I seek refuge in you from worry and grief.”
It is thus that Ibn al-Qayyim says, “Depression/grief weakens the heart, dampens one’s resolve and erodes one’s will, and there is nothing more pleasing to Shaitan than the sorrow of a believer. So rejoice! Spread cheer! Be positive and think good of Allah (z).  Trust in Him and rely on Him. Indeed you will find happiness and deep contentment in all circumstances.”
This is an awesome, joyful faith. Every day should have a joy jot – or something that brings you enough joy that it needs to be written down.  Bring joy to others, rejoice, spread joy. You are a Muslim. That is a joyful word in and of itself.  Let it be your first joy jot. “I am a Muslim… alhamdulilah!” 😀


To my dear Anse Tamara Grey, if you do ever read this, please know I send my salam to you and to all your students and that I am delighted joy is one of your favourite words, it is mine too! Allah have mercy on my dear grandfather who named me. May he be in the highest heaven and we be there to greet him!

This is my ‘joy jot’ for today! And what a great big joy jot it is. Hey, I love that phrase – “joy jot”! Thank you Sr. Tamara and thank you to W.B Abdullah, the author of ‘The Sandal‘ for sharing this with a global audience.





By this Book We Rise or Fall

On the Quran, and it’s place in the life of a Muslim….we say that ‘when a Muslim leaves the Quran, he is an easy target to be humiliated…’ It is true, look at the Muslim nation today and where the Quran is in Muslim homes and Muslim hearts. May God grant the book is written again in the hearts of the Muslims and is the wellspring of our hearts, as our beloved prophet (peace be upon him) so eloquently made du’a (given at the end of this post).

The Humble I

photo_matic_zorman_gaza_3070_copy_largeRecently, it seems that a number of pious people and a few eminent Muslim spiritual leaders have had premonitions and dreams about the quickening of the Hour and the imminent appearance of the Dajjal. Every generation has its warners proclaiming the End of Days being nigh and the doors of Dajjal, the Antichrist, being flung open. So in that respect, ours is no different.

Where our age does differ from others that have passed is that we live in times where all (or almost all) the signs spoken of in the hadiths that foretell the appearance of the Dajjal have now come to pass. The advice from these spiritual authorities, therefore, is to increase in seeking Allah’s forgiveness (istighfar), and to read the first and last ten verses of surat al-kahf (the 18th chapter of the Qur’an), daily or frequently. One hadith says about the Dajjal: ‘Whoever among…

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Al- Latif is one of the ‘names’ of God that I most love. It is another word hard to translate into English. I have a very beautiful Arabic-English dictionary of the Holy Quran (linked for your reference) that is essential for any one from an English language background hoping to read and understand the original Arabic of the Quran. And indeed, we Muslims believe the Quran is the word of God. It has been preserved without a single change since its revelation to that most blessed of Messengers, Muhammed (peace be upon him). BTW on this I recently realized most people are not aware of how Muslims view prophets or messengers, peace be upon them all. Briefly we do not elevate them to divinity, believing they are human beings, but neither do we consider them ordinary people, rather we consider them the best of mankind, who were great lights upon the earth, who had the most beautiful comportment, manners and daily transactions – and this for all of them, without reservation or question, peace be upon them all. The Quran is very clear in this and addresses this special noble people in the most beautiful salutary terms. Surah (=chapter) 21 in the Quran, is called ‘The prophets’ and gives the stories of some of them. It is one among many other places in the Quran they are mentioned. I am going off on a tangent so I will stop, but inshAllah (God willing) I will post about this more later on. I actually had no idea people could think badly of any of them (peace be upon them all), i.e., that they would commit major sins such as tell lies etc. until recently and that was shocking to me.

To get back to my topic, so I opened the dictionary to look up the best way to translate this word for you, my dear readers, and found something very special that I will share further down. Especially my Muslim brothers and sisters who are reading this, I think if you did not know it, you will feel happy to know it. The word ‘latif’ comes from the root ‘latufa’ meaning to be delicate, graceful, elegant, gentle, kind, fine. ‘Lateef’ means to be Gracious, Kind, Gentle, Subtle, Sharp-sighted, Acute (the dictionary capitalized each word so I am doing the same, I think this is on the intensive form of the word so that is why). As the name of God, ‘Al-Latif’ = The ‘Latif’, it means roughly, ‘The All Subtle Being’, ‘Unfathomable’, ‘Incomprehensible’, ‘The Gentle’ and so on. We say the Arabic can never really be translated, only interpreted. Actually Muslims don’t consider the Quran in any other language other than the Arabic as the Quran. That is, while we are obligated to be in a state of purity, having taken wudu (see here for a description of this ritual washing) before touching the Arabic Quran, this rule does not apply to it in any other language. This is what I specially wanted to share about what I found in the dictionary;- The word that appears at the very middle of the Quran (and remember when I say Quran, I am talking about it in Arabic) is ‘Walyatalattaf’ (this is a complex form derived from ‘latif’, in arabic you can get a whole sentence just by using the rules of derivation upon a triliteral root word). It means ‘And let him be courteous, let him behave with great care, conduct himself with caution’. In Arabic, there are 8 letters to this word, exactly 4 belong to the first half and the rest to the second half! Isn’t that amazing! Subhahanallah (=exalted is God). It comes in ayat 19 of sura 18. As if a central admonition to us Muslims is to be gentle!

I just looked up Surah 18, it is actually Surah ‘Kahf’ (=the cave). And the passage is about the sleepers in the cave. I am not sure, but I think the Bible has this story as well? BTW I got to visit this cave which is in present day Amman, Jordan. InshAllah I will share more about that later on. Surah Kahf is a surah the prophet peace be upon him, used to recite every Friday and told us to recite every Friday too. My Muslim readers will know the specialness of this surah. It contains many stories, in addition to the ‘sleepers in the cave’ full of wise meanings and messages.

I wanted to write about this word, ‘latif’ as it denotes a trait I love. And Muhammed, peace be upon this most strong yet most gentle of human beings had many wise sayings about how to be gentle. I wanted to post because of these ahadith (saying, narration from the blessed prophet) that I love;-

He who is deprived of gentleness is deprived of good.


Keep to gentleness and avoid harshness and coarseness. Gentleness is not found in anything without adorning it, and is not withdrawn from anything without shaming it.


And on this note, here is a story from the traditions of the prophet peace be upon him, that I do love. It shows the gentleness of his approach toward teaching people religion. As you may know, during the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast. It is not just an external fasting (abstaining from food, drink and sexual relations) from dawn till dusk, it is also an internal one (abstaining from telling lies, gossip, backbiting, slander, being careful to not look at unlawful images etc). How much we are able to adhere to this is another story. But indeed the month is meant to train us and to help us regulate ourselves. It is like an annual cleanse you could say. A most special time (it’s only 4 months away! so excited looking forward to it. May Allah grant I have the felicity to meet another Ramadan!). I took this story from an article in the Baltimore Examiner, referenced here. However the story itself is well known and found in a many places, it is considered a very ‘authentic’ narration. The way ahadith (plural of hadith) are graded is a science itself, and there are Muslim scholars who specialize in this. Unfortunately these days due to the dearth of sound Muslim scholars, there are many deviant or fallacious ahadith floating around and many Muslims who don’t know a sound narration from a bad one, who would end up following the falsified ones. Before I go off on another tangent, albeit it is an important topic, here is the story. It is about this man who couldn’t keep his fast and came and confessed to the prophet (peace be upon him) and wanted to know what he could do to compensate –

“A man came to Allah’s Apostle and said, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! I am ruined!’

The Prophet said, ‘Waihaka (May Allah be merciful to you)!’

The man said, ‘I have done sexual intercourse with my wife while fasting in Ramadan.’

The Prophet said, ‘Manumit a slave.’

The man said, ‘I cannot afford that.’

The Prophet said; ‘Then fast for two successive months.’

The man said, ‘I have no power to do so.’

The Prophet said, ‘Then feed sixty poor persons.’

The man said, ‘I have nothing (to feed sixty persons).’

Later a basket full of dates were brought to the Prophet and he said (to the man), ‘Take it and give it in charity.’

The man said, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! Shall I give it to people other than my family? By Him in Whose Hand my life is, there is nobody poorer than me in the whole city of Medina.’

The Prophet smiled till his premolar teeth became visible, and said, ‘Take it.’”

(Bukhari, Vol. 8, Bk. 73, No. 185)

Peace be upon you all my dear readers. Al-Latif be with you!

Hundred-word Eulogy

Assalamu alaikum ( peace be with you) dear readers, inshaAllah (God willing) I will follow with a post from another segment from my recent ‘rihla’ journey to Turkey. For now, this blog post I wanted to share. I didn’t know of the ‘hundred word eulogy’ and learning of it was expansive, for it highlights the depth of tolerance, respect, and appreciation present in the old world between traditions.

Towards Enlightment


In the 1300s, the Chinese Hongwu Emperor wrote the “Hundred-word Eulogy“, which praised the characteristics of the Prophet Muhammad (salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). Copies of it (like this one) were distributed to mosques throughout China.

Since the creation of the universe
God had already appointed his great faith-preaching man,
From the West he was born,
And received the holy scripture
And book made of 30 parts (Juz)
To guide all creations,
Master of all rulers,
Leader of the holy ones,
With support from the Heavens,
To protect his nation,
With five daily prayers,
Silently hoping for peace,
His heart directed towards Allah,
Giving power to the poor,
Saving them from calamity,
Seeing through the Unseen,
Pulling the souls and the spirits away from all wrongdoings,
Mercy to the world,
Transversing to the ancient,
Majestic path vanquished away all evil,
His religion Pure and True,

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The heart

Thank you Allah for this greatest gift you have given me. The human heart is limitless in its capacity…it is in heartache that we most acutely catch a glimpse of its depth…but realize that in joy it is as boundless.

Then how beautiful the one who knows the heart

“Whether you hide your word or publish it. He certainly has full knowledge of the secrets of all hearts. He is the One that understands the finest mysteries and is well-acquainted with them.” (Surat al-Mulk, 67:13-14)

Al-Kareem – The Most Generous

Assalamu alaikum (peace be with you)

Here’s sharing a painting just finished by God’s grace. Inspired of course by the glorious fall colours. I wanted to put on it ‘Al Kareem’, but I am not sure if it should be on the canvas itself…still contemplating, any thoughts dear readers? 🙂

Al Kareem is one of the ‘names’ of God. It is the superlative form of the word ‘generous’. Meaning the one titled like this ‘The Generous’, is the MOST generous, and there is none as generous as He. Muslims will often say the phrase ‘Allah Kareem’ meaning ‘Allah is the most generous’ out of remembrance of Him, out of wonder, out of praise, out of thanks and simply to express joy.

Looking on and walking in wonder through a forest path in the fall, I cannot but exclaim ‘Allah Kareem’! It strikes me that even in death the Creator is the most generous. Leaves are dying and they could just have rotted and fallen, but look, look what the Creator does. Simply to feast our eyes there is a riot of colour. Truly, God is the most generous and glory be to Him, Subhahnallah!


– Alhamdulillah, completed work


– the arabic reads ‘Al Kareem’


Painting and name hung on the wall.

And whatever good and beautiful in me is from Allah and Allah alone, and whatever in me that is of wrong and ugly is from my own self.



Of Mu’aadh ibn Jabal and Knowledge


I love this great companion of the glorious Messenger, Prophet Muhammad sal-lal-laahu-alaihi-wa-sallam. His life and teachings, dedication and contribution has been tremendously marvellous. He is truly an inspiration for all times to come.

Prophet Muhammad sal-lal-laahu-alaih-wa-sallam said about Mu`aadh ibn Jabal:

“Verily, when the people of knowledge will be present before their Lord, the Mighty and Sublime, Mu`aadh will be one step ahead of them.”

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