Posted by: adeepershadeofsoul | June 12, 2011

Am I Living the Life I always dreamed of?

It’s been almost a year since I posted anything on this blog.  Wow!  What a difference a year makes!  A lot has happened since the last time I sat on this computer and took the time to write.

I moved to a tropical Caribbean island and lived in a resort community about 30 steps from the beach, and I got the job that I’ve always wanted in a wonderfully warm and loving community.   Sounds like the stuff of dreams right….well not really; you see as amazing as that sounds…I also lost a very dear person in my life and took a large pay cut to work in this ideal job🙂

So why am I telling you this? Kinda confused??  Well, let me explain…

The title of this blog post is the question “Am I living the Life I always dreamed of?”  If I were to take a poll and ask a number of people this question I’m sure some would say yes and some would say no.  This answer of course would depend on the individual’s current life circumstances.  For someone who has a nice family, nice house, good job, doing great in school etc., the answer would probably be yes.  But for someone who recently lost a job, lost a loved one, had to foreclose on their house, failed a semester of school etc. the answer would probably be no.   Makes sense right….sure….but I have a different take on it.

I think the answer to the question “Am I living the life that I always dreamed of?” should stay the same regardless of life’s circumstances;  it should always be answered with a resounding YES!

Now why in the world would I say that?  Well, it’s based on two things:

1) Trust, acceptance and pleasure in what God has decreed for our lives.

This is a very tough thing to do.  To be pleased with whatever God has prescribes for us means to take everything that happens throughout life in stride.    Whether that be landing the job of your dreams or losing the job of your dreams; whatever happens is what God intended to happen therefore we should be content with the result.

Everything that happens, only does so by the permission of God, so there’s no reason to question it and/or overly fret about it.  It is what it is…accept it and keep it moving forward.  .

Now that’s not to say that you shouldn’t take lessons from the experience, rather that is really the whole point behind all that we go through; that is the way God designed life…to live and learn and hopefully grow.  And it’s also not to say that at times we won’t feel disappointed, because that will certainly happen as well; There are times when we will be disappointed in ourselves and other times when we will be disappointed by others.  But the default stays the same; and the default is that we should always be living the life that we’ve dreamed of.

The Prophet Muhammad said….(I am paraphrasing here)…he said to Rejoice because everything that happens to a believer is good, when something good befalls him, he is thankful; and when something bad befalls him, he is patient.

What inspirational words from the last Messenger (peace be upon him)!  Basically, it’s all good…no matter what happens to the believer.   We should have the attitude that the companions of the prophet had when they used to say Alhamdulillah a’la kulli Haal….All praise is due to Allah (God) in all situations/circumstances.

So am I  living the life that I always dreamed of?

Yes, I’ve had a number of wonderful things happen to me this past year, but to be honest…I was just as content last year and the year before that and the one before that.  Because, contrary to popular belief,  it’s not really about the outward life circumstances that fulfill your dreams…it’s the contentment of the heart that allows you to always feel fulfilled no matter what the external conditions or circumstances around you are.

That, to me, is the definition of living the life of your dreams!  Always being content and making the most of your current circumstances, while at the same time constantly striving to improve yourself in all facets of life.

That, to me, is the dream life; to be content, to be close to God and be appreciative of every single day, hour, minute and second that He has blessed us with.  And of course never letting that fire die inside of you that is constantly seeking to grow in all areas of life.

Anyone who’s lived long enough and fulfilled a dream that he or she once had like landing the job they’ve always wanted or marrying the “ideal” woman or man, or driving that Benz that you always wished for, or living in that exclusive neighborhood in your dream house, knows that those things also come with their fare share of problems and are not always as dreamy as you once imagined them to be.

After you achieve those things…then what?  A better car?  A nicer house in a nicer neighborhood?  A more attractive spouse?   There is always more and better for the soul that is not content with his or her current situation.

So here’s a bit of advice to those who don’t feel like they’re living the life of their dreams:

1) Take another look at your dreams; Remember the big picture

Life has a purpose; and if your dreams have nothing to do with that bigger picture of life, then you may want to rethink your dreams.  We all wanted a Ferrari or a mansion growing up, but as you get older and wiser, those material things shouldn’t necessarily be our end goal; not that those things are wrong, but they should merely be by-products of our success in seeking bigger things in life.  Things like having a happy family and/or living a life that’s pleasing to God.  As I said earlier, for those of us who have attained a certain level of material success, it does not come without its own set of baggage, problems and issues.

2) Change your job

Make your life’s mission your job.  If you ultimately want to serve humanity in some capacity, find a job or a career that will allow you to do that day in and day out.  If you want to be the world’s most successful businessman; do so in a business that adds beauty to the world, not destroys it or diminishes it.

The average American spends 10 years of his or her life at work, so choose to do something that helps you fulfill your life’s mission and help you to accomplish your lofty dreams.

3) Focus on what you have, not on what you don’t have

For the Muslim, or the Mu’min (Believer) I should say…the glass is always half full because we believe in the Greatness of God and that He is the best of all planners.  He gives to whom He wills and He takes from whom He wills; and at the end of the day, everything in creation is part of His Kingdom and He is the true owner of everything.

Focus on what you have, not what you don’t have.  If you have even one healthy child….be thankful and grateful….lots of people don’t.

If you have a nice roof over your head, which I’m assuming you do considering you have internet access and can read this blog post :)….be thankful….lots of people don’t.

If you have a vehicle that takes you to and from places….be thankful….lots of people don’t.

Finally….If you are healthy and aren’t stuck in a hospital bed day in and day out……be thankful…..lots of people are.

4) Self Perception is reality

It’s amazing how powerful a role our psyche plays.  If we look at our lives in a negative light then that’s exactly what our reality will be.  Likewise, if we look at our lives in a positive light then things will always look bright and we’ll be living out our dreams daily.  Again, it’s not the outside circumstances that matter…it’s what we think internally that creates our external reality.

5) The only thing that’s stopping you is yourself

Life is short….real short.  So why aren’t you living the life of your dreams?  There’s lots of excuses out there….you can choose any of them.  Or as they say in the coaching world, you can “man up” and look in the mirror and do what you need to do in order to live every day of your life achieving all your dreams.   Our greatest enemy is ourselves….

6) Don’t chase after this life only

This life is not worth one wing of a mosquito; that is what our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said.  So shouldn’t our dreams have a lot to do with achieving success in the next life?

Which reminds me of a beautiful statement once made by Ibn Qayyim: ” This world is like a shadow, if you try to catch you never will; but if you turn your back to it, it has no option but to follow you.”

May Allah (God) grant us happy and fulfilling lives.   And more importantly….

May Allah grant us the best of this world and the best of the next….


Posted by: adeepershadeofsoul | July 20, 2010

It’s All About People

Just think for a second about the greatest people who ever walked on this earth; what names pop into your head?   Take a minute to think of your top ten list.

Now that you have those names in your mind, ask yourself this question…What did they all have in common?  In my estimation, this is a pretty important question. If we want to be like these great people who changed the world, then shouldn’t we know the characteristics and qualities that they all shared?  So let’s start listing them…..kindness, compassion, strength of heart, a willingness to sacrifice, forgiveness, understanding, wisdom, full of joy and happiness, patience, purity of heart, sincerity, love, generosity, forbearance, tolerance, consistent effort etc.

As significant as all of these characteristics and qualities are, there is one underlying characteristic that they all share; and it’s precisely this quality that propels them to the level of being the greatest of the greats in human history.  Can you guess what it is?

In my opinion, what distinguishes these people from the rest is their dedication and commitment to the people.  They all committed their entire lives for the betterment of the lives of people, which oftentimes led to pain and torment for themselves, yet they continued in their work.   That’s why I called this post ‘It’s all about people’….because it truly is all about the people and what you do for them.  A great man once said “Success is what you do for yourself, but greatness is what you do for others” and I agree with this statement wholeheartedly.  The amount of time, care and concern that the world’s greatest individuals showed to their people; teaching them, helping them and working with them is what truly set them apart.

So if we all want to follow in their footsteps, then we should focus our attention to building and helping people.   Even in our careers; it doesn’t matter what career path we choose, the underlying goal can always be to help people.  Think about it…if you’re  a lawyer, you can become the lawyer that is fighting for people’s rights and justice, if you’re a doctor…well that one’s pretty obvious, even if you’re in the business world, you can be the businessman or woman that translates their success into philanthropic endeavors.  The goal can always be to help improve the lives of others.

The more people we can help in both big and small ways, the more we leave our mark in this world.

I ask Allah (God) to make us amongst those who serve the people.

I ask Allah (God) to make us amongst those who dedicate their lives to helping to improve the lives of others.


Posted by: adeepershadeofsoul | July 20, 2010

It’s Not About the People

If you just read my last post, then you’re probably confused by this title…how exactly do I go from it’s all about people to it’s not about the people?  Let me explain.

It’s all about helping people but….there’s an even greater goal than that; a goal that lies at the heart of everything that we do in life….a goal that if we attain, we will have attained everything.

And that ultimate goal is to gain the pleasure of mercy of Allah (God).  Most of the world’s greatest people didn’t spend their lives serving others just to be good people; rather they understood their purpose in life and knew that through their service of others, they could fulfill that purpose.  One path to God’s forgiveness can be found through the service of other human beings for His sake.  There is a famous story of a prostitute who one day saw a thirsty dog and rather than ignoring it and walking away decided to fetch it some water; and it was that seemingly minor act that paved her path to paradise.  So, if quenching the thirst of a thirsty dog yields that lofty a result, what about constantly and consistently helping improve the lives of human beings?  What about quenching the thirst of a man or woman, or feeding the empty stomach of a child?

God is far more Generous than what we can ever imagine Him to be.

So at the end of the day it’s all about the people, but it’s not about the people.  It’s about pleasing God through the service of humankind.

I ask that Al Haadi (The One Who Guides) guides us on the straight path.

I ask that Al Kareem (The Most Generous) blesses us to be generous individuals with our wealth and time.

I ask Ar Rahmaan (The Most Merciful) to shower His Infinite Mercy upon us in this life and the next.


Posted by: adeepershadeofsoul | April 23, 2010

An Epiphany Regarding Nature

Oftentimes in life, you have to stop and just count your blessings.  A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be in two of the most blessed places on the face of the Earth; Mecca and Medina.  While I was in Medina I was fortunate to take a tour of the city with a very special brother.   He is an alumnus of the University of Medina and he moved to the city and began his religious studies at the tender age of 17.   This post is not about him, although I could write pages and pages of his special qualities, rather it is about something profound that he taught me during our tour.

At a certain point in the tour, he stopped the car and we were outside of Medina in a small area that was completely surrounded by mountains.  It was an absolutely beautiful and completely serene place.  We stood there staring at the mountains for a few minutes and I began to share with him my love for nature.  I told him about my fondness for traveling and being in places surrounded by nature, and he shared the same passion as me.  And that’s when my epiphany occurred.

He explained that the peace that all humans feel when surrounded by the natural world was due to the fact that they are surrounded by God’s creation; and that all of God’s creation remember Him and sing His praises.  He quoted the following verse from the Quran:

“The seven heavens and the earth and all that is therein, glorify Him (God) and there is not a thing but glorifies His Praise.  But you understand not their glorification.  Truly, he is The Forbearing/Tolerant, The Oft-Forgiving.”   (Surah al Isra 17:44)

The brother went on to explain that the peace we feel when in nature is because we are surrounded by God’s creation praising Him, but we don’t understand how they’re praise occurs.  And when we are surrounded by nature’s praise and we ourselves are sitting and praising God, then we are in complete harmony and peace.   Us and everything around us is fulfilling its purpose on this earth; to worship and praise God; and that leads to peace and harmony in our souls and on the earth.

He went on to speak of how the land of the earth itself is affected by the good or bad of the people that are upon it.  If the people of the land are good worshippers of God and do good in the world, then that land is blessed with goodness, but if the people of the land are not doing good in this life and are not worshipping God, then the land itself loses its barakah (blessings) and it becomes more and more barren.

Subhanallah!  What insight!  I wrote in an earlier post how God blesses some people with something called ‘Baseera’ or a profound insight into life itself.  And I can safely say that this brother, although he’s less than 30 years of age, definitely has been blessed with this insight.

So that was my epiphany.  Now anytime that I go into nature, I will remember this verse from the Quran and I will recognize that everything around me is singing the praises of God; and I will understand that I don’t know exactly how that is happening; except to be sure that it is happening all around me.

My travels will never be the same.  Barakallahufeek Jameel.  You too can take his tour at:

I ask Al Kareem to bless that brother and his family immensely in this life and the next.

I ask Al Kareem to be Generous with all of us in this life and the next.

I ask al Baseer to give us all Baseera in this life and allow us to live only for His Pleasure.

I ask al Ghafaar to forgive our sins and allow us to enter his Paradise.


Posted by: adeepershadeofsoul | April 15, 2010

Reflections from Mecca and Medina

I was sitting on my couch and staring at the wall the other day, and a feeling of great sadness overcame me; I realized that I was back in the dunya (worldly life).  You see, I had spent the past eleven days in Mecca and Madina and for those of you who have been to these blessed places, you know that it’s as if you’ve temporary left the dunya and entered into a spiritual haven of serenity.  What an amazing journey!

The following are simply some of my reflections/takeaways from my trip.  For those of you who have been there before, these words will inshallah bring forth some memories to the forefront of your consciousness; those who have not, inshallah these words will serve as motivation for you to plan your first trip ASAP!  One thing’s for sure…this trip is unlike any other that you’ll ever take in your life.   So without further ado…

Why am I so attached to the dunya (the worldly life)?

Probably the most beautiful thing about the trip was the re-emphasis it gave me to focus my life on the akhira (the next life). As I was sitting there in the haram (name for the holy mosques in Mecca and Madina), staring at the Ka’ba I felt like I was getting a little piece of heaven.  My mind, body and soul were completely at peace and I started to think why I sweat the dunya so much?  Why was I allowing the little day to day affairs of my life consume my thoughts?  Why had my goals become all dunya-based goals?  Why was my ibaadah (worship) slacking?  Why hadn’t I prayed Tahajjud (the prayer in the latter parts of the night) lately?

Basically, why was my heart attached to the dunya, when it neither gave me the peace or satisfaction that I desired?  Sitting in Mecca staring at the Ka’bah reminded me of what my focus should be.

This is how life is supposed to be lived

Mecca as those of you who have been there know quite well, is a very busy place!  Whether it’s pacing between the hills of Safa and Marwa, walking around the Ka’ba during tawaf, changing into your oh-so comfortable ihram (can you sense the sarcasm J), getting your haircut, playing human frogger through the Meccan traffic (only the old school Atari readers will get that one), or just standing up for long prayers; Mecca kept me busy!

But then I took that lovely bus ride through the desert to Madina and then ahhhhhhh; relief!!!  In Madinah, life is the complete opposite of Mecca; it is slow and laid back.  My schedule in Madinah was completely centered on the five daily prayers and any other acts of worship that I wanted to perform.  And as I sat there in the Prophet’s mosque, I thought to myself ‘now this is how life is supposed to be lived.’  Life is supposed to be focused first on worship and then matters of the world, but unfortunately most of the time it is the exact opposite.

In the footsteps of the Greatest

I was blessed to be able to spend a lot of time in the prophet’s mosque in Madina.  In particular, I was especially blessed to spend a lot of time in the Rawdah (the area of the original mosque built by the prophet peace be upon him and his companions).  As you all know, praying in this area is equivalent to praying in heaven.  Sitting in this blessed area, I was looking up and imagining how it must have looked at the time of the Prophet peace be upon him.  I imagined him standing on the minbar (pulpit) and giving his weekly sermon; and I imagined the sahabah (his companions) sitting there and listening.  These thoughts brought so many tears of joy; knowing that I’m literally sitting where the greatest generation of human beings once sat.

Of course, right next to the Rawdah is where the prophet peace be upon him’s original house once was and where he is now buried.  An overwhelming sense of awe overcame me while walking by the grave of the prophet peace be upon him and the graves of Abu Bakr and Omar.  I was standing about fifteen feet away from the greatest man to ever walk the face of this earth and his beloved companions may God be pleased with them.  I said salam to them as I walked by and just prayed that God allow me to be in their company in the hereafter.

The Legacy of the Ansaar lives on

I was blessed to be able to experience this trip with one of my oldest and dearest friends.  My friend knew a family that lived in Madinah and that family was kind enough to invite us to dinner one night.  They lived in part of town that was not a wealthy area at all; and they lived in a house that many of us from the west would never consider living in.  But as soon as I met Uncle Syed, I knew that he and his family were blessed in ways that transcend the material world.

The house was full of family, friends and love.  They brought out the delicious home cooked food for us and placed it on the floor; and all of us sat on the floor and ate together.  They did this on a nightly basis; the whole family gathered and ate on the floor together.

After our wonderful meal, Uncle Syed was not satisfied with our one visit.  He asked us to come every single day for breakfast and dinner.  He said that he would come and pick us up since we did not have a car, and take us to his house for the two meals everyday until we left Madinah.  I thanked Uncle Syed for his generosity and he told me not to be thankful, because I was in the Prophet’s city and it was his duty to take care of me until I left; however long that would be.  Subhanallah!  I’m sure the ansaar (may God grant them peace) would be happy to know that their legacy lives on in Uncle Syed and others like him.

Countless Blessings

The rewards and the blessings that one receives while in these blessed cities are compounded immensely.  Here are some of the rewards that can only be had in these two cities:

  • The reward of one prayer in either the Haram in Mecca or the Prophet’s mosque is Madinah is equivalent to 1,000 prayers elsewhere.
  • The reward for making Umrah (the minor pilgrimage) is to have all of your previous sins forgiven
  • The reward for praying to rakah in Masjid al Quba in Madinah is equal to the reward of making Umrah
  • The reward of praying in the rawdah in the prophet’s mosque is like praying in Junnah (heaven)
  • The reward of tawaaf can only be had in Mecca
  • Any good that you do in the haramain (the two mosques) are multiplied i.e. reading quran, praying extra prayers etc.
  • The dua that you make while hanging on the multazim (the door of the Ka’ba) are accepted inshallah
  • The dua that you make the first time you see the Ka’ba is accepted by Allah inshallah
  • The reward of doing sayyee (walking between the hills of Safaa and Marwaa) is something that you can only get in Mecca
  • The dua that one makes before drinking Zam Zam will be accepted inshallah

And the list goes on and on…

A special Tour for a special place

My friend and I are very blessed to know several brothers that graduated from Madinah University.  While we were in Madinah, these brothers told us about an individual that also graduated from the University who nowadays gives tours to people who come and visit Madinah.

Alhamdulillah, we were blessed to meet this brother and take his tour of Madinah.  I’ve traveled quite a bit in my life and have been on several tours, but I can honestly say that none were quite like this one.  The brother not only took us to the well known sites (like Uhud) but also many areas that most were not aware of.  But these sites were not the highlight of the tour; the real highlight of the tour was the immense knowledge that the brother shared with us about our deen.

Mashallah, this brother explained not only the significance of Madinah to us, but he opened our eyes to insights on life that neither of us have ever heard from anyone else in the world.  And we’ve both been exposed to the lectures and classes of all of the famous Shuyookh that we all know and love in the west.  But the insights to life that this brother gave us were absolutely profound.

So, on your next trip to Madinah you must go on this tour.  You can reserve your seats at:

All in all, this was without a doubt the trip of a lifetime and I look forward to the day that Allah invites me again to His House and his beloved cities of Mecca and Madinah.

I ask that Allah accepts from us all the good that we do in this life.

I ask that Al Kareem blesses us all to visit his House and Madinah frequently.

I ask that Al Ghafaar forgives us of all our sins; and that Ar Raheem has mercy upon us on the day that we most need His Mercy.


Posted by: adeepershadeofsoul | March 24, 2010

After 33 years…My Invitation Has Finally Arrived

For years I’ve been listening to amazing stories from people who have gone to visit the House of Allah in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina; tales of incredible courage, persistence and patience.  I have heard about the almost 60 year old man from Chechnya who rode his bike all the way to Makkah.  I have heard accounts of the enormous number of senior citizens who labor through their physical limitations in order to fulfill their religious obligations.   And I have heard of the poverty stricken individuals who saved day in and day out for years just to one day get a chance to view the Ka’bah with their own eyes.

For me, there has been one constant throughout all the years and all the amazing accounts told to me; I have only stories, yet no experiences to share of my own.  I listened in awe, sat in admiration, and have even been brought to tears by these powerful anecdotes, yet I could never respond with one of my own because I had never received the invitation; that is….until now.

They say that no one actually goes to the House of Allah; rather they are invited by Allah himself and merely accept His Divine Summons.  After 33 years of waiting, it seems as though inshallah my Evite (so-to speak) has finally come.  I am scheduled to go to Makkah tomorrow.

Tonight, as I tried on my ihraam for the first time in preparation of my journey; I looked in the mirror and saw myself in the two white sheets that I have dreamed of wearing all these years; and it finally hit me.  I’m going to see the Ka’bah.  I could no longer control it…..I started to weep uncontrollably.

  • I ask that you please make dua on my behalf that nothing should go wrong before I go to Makkah or on my way there.
  • I ask that you all also please forgive me if I have ever offended, insulted or hurt you in any way, shape or form.
  • I thank Al Kareem (the Most Generous) for giving this amazing opportunity.
  • Ya Dhul Jalale wal Ikram, allow the mu’mineen who have not gone to your House yet, the ability to do so.
  • I ask Al Fattah (the Opener) to open the doors of jannah for me, my family and all the Muslimeen.
  • I ask Allah to accept my Umrah, my good deeds and my duas.
  • I ask Al Ghafaar to forgive all the sins I’ve committed in my life up to this point.
  • I ask Ar Rahmaan to shower me, my family and the ummah of Rasulullah (salallahu a’layhiwasalam)  with His Infinite Mercy and grant us Goodness in this life and everlasting bliss in the next.


Posted by: adeepershadeofsoul | March 12, 2010

Appreciating the Now

I read a facebook status the other day that got me thinking.  The status was written by a college student who wrote something along the lines of “Can’t wait to graduate…sick of school”.  Now I know what you’re thinking…so what?  What’s the big deal?  That is a statement that’s heard on college campuses throughout the world each and everyday.

So let me explain why I have a problem with that statement…

How many times have you heard someone start a sentence with the words “I can’t wait unitl…”  How many times have we made statements that start with those words?  If you’re like me, then you’ve probably heard it and said it yourself more times than you can count.

The problem of course with that statement is not in the statement itself, but rather what’s behind it.  You see, by always saying I can’t wait until…fill in the blank (graduation, new job, promotion, marriage, new flat screen, new car, new house, new husband or wife etc.), is that we fail to appreciate the Now.  We fail to appreciate what we have currently; what God has blessed us with right now.  It is an attitude that is inherently ungrateful; and that is wrong.

Rather than always just look towards what’s next, we should be grateful for what we have.  As the prophet Muhammad, may God’s peace and blessings be upon him, taught us that when it comes to this world we should compare ourselves to those that have less than us; and when it comes to our faith and deeds we should compare ourselves to those that are better than us.  These simple words of wisdom remind us that no matter what we think we don’t have in life; we still do have more than most in the world.  More than half of the world lives in poverty and here we are anxiously anticipating the day that we can upgrade from a 32 inch to a 50 inch flat screen television.  Seriously?

A friend of mine was teaching a class and he had his students do an interesting exercise.  He told them to get out a sheet of paper and pen and write down every blessing that God has given to them.  After a few minutes he told them to stop and it became very apparent to all of them that there was no way that they could count all of them, which is exactly what God tells us in the Quran.

The point of this exercise was to show the students that they have way more to be thankful for than they do to complain about.

Everyday, let’s try to be thankful for what Allah has blessed us with and be thankful for the situation that we are in now.

If we take this mental approach, I can guarantee you that you will enjoy your life more.

You will begin to appreciate being in college and not having a pile of bills to pay every month.

You will begin to appreciate having a wife or husband that cares for you despite your shortcomings.

You will start to enjoy the sound of your baby crying because you realize how lucky you are to have one and that there are many people in the world who can’t have even one.

You will begin to appreciate the position you have at work and thank God that you have a job, when 10% of the country is unemployed.

You will begin to thank God that you have a car that functions when there are people standing outside in the heat or cold anxiously awaiting the bus to arrive.

You will begin to see that there’s really not that big a difference between a 32 and 50 inch screen (I know that’s blasphemy for some of you men out there…..grow up and get over it!)

And you will begin to appreciate the roof that you have over your head when all you have to do is check any news website and view recent pictures from Haiti or Chile and see how blessed and lucky we truly are.

After all, the only thing that we are guaranteed is Now…we have no idea if we’re even going to be in this world tomorrow or not, so we should take advantage of today and start Appreciating the Now.

I thank Ash-Shakoor (The One Deserving of Thanks) for everything that he has blessed me and my family with.

I ask al Hadi (The One who Guides) to guide us to become more appreciative of His Many blessings.

And I pray that Allah allows us to become more accepting and appreciative of His Divine Decree.


Posted by: adeepershadeofsoul | March 5, 2010

Morrie & Our Death Denying Culture

I just finished reading a wonderful book called Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom.  This book is the account of a middle-aged man who one night while watching television, discovers that his favorite professor from college has contracted a terminal disease and is dying.  He decides to pack up and fly across the country to go and spend some precious time with his beloved professor before his inevitable death from this incurable disease.  Professor Morrie sits with him on Tuesdays and talks to him about the big things in life i.e. love, family, marriage, aging, greed, fear, society, culture, and death.  It was a very touching story about a student and his teacher giving him one final lesson.

For this blog post I want to focus on only one of the topics that the professor expounded upon.  It is the ultimate of inevitabilities, yet the vast majority of human beings do not want to discuss it or even think about it.  The topic is death.  Here’s what Professor Morrie said about death and how we should view it:

“Learn how to die, and you learn how to live.” So what exactly does he mean by this statement?  He goes on to explain:

“Everyone knows that they’re going to die, but nobody believes it.  If we did, we would do things differently.”

Hmmm interesting…he continues:

“To know you’re going to die, and to be prepared for it at any time…that’s better.  That way you can be more involved in your life while you’re living.”

More involved in your life while you’re living?  Wow! Simply stated, yet very meaningful.  He continues:

“Everyday…ask…is today the day?  Am I ready?  Am I doing all I need to do?  Am I being the person I want to be?”

What powerful questions!  The Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him used to encourage us to make much remembrance of the destroyer of pleasures (death).  Remember it often, and when we do that, it helps us to stay focused and use our time wisely.

Professor Morrie goes on:

“…most of us all walk around as if we’re sleepwalking.  We really don’t experience the world fully, because we’re half asleep, doing things we automatically think that we have to do.”

What he meant by that was that we spend so much of our lives doing things that we think are extremely important when in reality they are not…for example: Working tirelessly so that we can buy that “item” we wanted or to get that promotion we want, all at the expense of precious time spent with family and friends, or spent in contemplation and prayer.

The student in the book (the author Mitch Albom) responds:  And facing death changes that?  Professor Morrie says:

“Oh yes, you strip away all that stuff and you focus on the essentials.  We are too involved in materialistic things and they don’t satisfy us.  The loving relationships we have, the universe around us, we take these things for granted.”

I couldn’t agree more.

In order to pass this message of the finality of life across more clearly, the author describes in heart wrenching detail the physical demise of his former professor.  As the book moves along, the physical state of his professor gets worse and worse and the author makes it a point to describe this slow withering away in great detail.  The beginning of the book describes a man who loves to dance and go for long walks with his students.  The end of the book describes a man who can’t walk, breathe properly, nor feed or clean himself.  Probably the most poignant of these descriptions as a reader, is when the professor concedes that he can no longer clean himself after his excretions.  He concedes to these physical limitations, yet still refuses to feel sorry for himself or lose his positive spirit.

At first, I wondered why the author goes into so much detail in physically describing Professor Morrie’s demise, but after some reflection I realized why.  One of the main points that the professor tried to get across to the author, his last student, is that we should accept the fact that we’re going to die.  As we are all well aware, we live in a death-denying culture.  We live in a culture in which everyone dreams of being young again and staying young for eternity; a culture in which we take our old and decrepit and put them in buildings by themselves so we do not have to be witnesses to their demise.

But in doing these things we are merely denying our own destinies.  We are not allowing ourselves to witness the realities that will one day face us as well.  Essentially, we are making it harder for ourselves for when we get old, and we’re building a culture that neither appreciates the wisdom of the elders nor sets a place for them at the table.  We take our old and put them in an institution far from our view, so we don’t have to see their illnesses and their physical limitations and therefore we don’t have to think about our own end.

Is this the kind of culture that we want to establish as Muslims here in the West?

I certainly don’t think so.

One of the best things that my parents did for my siblings and me was to bring my grandparents from overseas to live with us during their old age.  My grandparents moved in with us, because for the most part they could no longer take care of themselves.  In our culture nowadays, this would seem like a huge burden!  But for me as a nine year old kid, this was a great blessing.

I remember, like it was yesterday, holding my grandmother’s hand and being so surprised by the looseness of her skin and the large veins that were protruding out.  I would sit there and stare at the blotches of discoloration on her face wondering if they were always there or if they were just a result of her old age.  One day I asked my mom to show me an old picture of my grandmother when she was young, so she found one and when she showed it to me I as a nine year old boy understood right at that moment what millions of adults in our country fail to accept and embrace; that if Allah (God) keeps us alive long enough, we are all going to have wrinkles and blotches on our skin one day i.e. we’re all going to face a slow physical withering away.

I remember, as time went by I had to help my grandmother get out of bed and I always looked forward helping her in whatever way I could.  Sometimes my insistence on helping her actually became a burden, since a 9 year old boy moves at a slightly different pace than a woman in her 60’s.  I would be holding her hand and trying to force her to run with me to our destination.  Of course, she could not do so, but I tried anyway.  I remember my grandmother’s beautiful smile and in particular I remember a look that she gave me when I placed my Yankees baseball helmet on top of her head (yes, over her hijab) and took a picture with my arms wrapped around her.

My grandfather, like my grandmother, also had deteriorating health, so I had to begin helping him do basic menial things that we take for granted everyday, like bathe.  He could no longer stand in the shower, nor reach all parts of his body, so he used to sit down in the tub with a cover over the lower half of his body and I had to apply the soap to his back, which he could no longer reach himself, and his hair (yes, I said soap on his hair….that’s what he wanted me to do…I don’t think he was used to shampoo…btw he had the softest hair that I’ve ever felt to this day…but don’t try using soap on your hair because I have J….and apparently the whole “washing the hair with soap leading to softer hair” thing only worked for the previous generations).

What I’m trying to get at, is that I cherish those experiences so much and it’s because of those experiences that I understood early on in my life what old age meant and what it entailed.

The greatest lesson I learned was when my beloved grandmother woke up one morning completely discombobulated.  She didn’t know where she was, what day it was or even who she was.  I stood there quietly at the doorway of her bedroom watching as the paramedics were asking her questions that she could not answer.  When my mom saw me standing there watching the scene unfold, she immediately reprimanded me and told me to leave the room.  The last time I saw my grandmother alive was when she was being rolled out of my house on a stretcher into the ambulance that was parked in our driveway.

The next afternoon, as I sat on the school bus looking out of the window about to get to my stop, I saw many cars parked outside of my house and I immediately knew what happened.

I attended my grandmother’s funeral; saw her body being lowered into the ground and her grave being covered by dirt.  I prayed for her and said goodbye.

The reason that I mention all of this is not just to simply reminisce on the life of my grandparents; rather it is to show that the elders of our society can play a great part in our lives.  They can teach us lessons in life as well as in their deaths; lessons that last a lifetime.

It is because of my grandparents and my experiences with them that I can now easily accept and understand death as a part of life.

I do not want our society to become one that does not value its elders.  I do not want to accept a culture in which people do not tend to the needs of the elders when they need us, as they tended to our needs when we needed them.

I still see my grandmother in my dreams to this day.  I’ve had a recurring dream in which I walk into a room and I see my grandmother standing there and I immediately run to her and give her a hug.  I ask her how she’s doing and she tells me she’s doing well.  I tell her that I miss her and she gives me that same smile that warmed my heart twenty some odd years ago.

I pray that Allah (God) blesses my beautiful grandparents with a peaceful existence in their graves and Gives them a place in heaven.

I pray that Allah blesses me with the ability to see them and hug them again in heaven.

I pray that Allah gives us the wisdom to take care of our elders and to learn from them.


Posted by: adeepershadeofsoul | January 15, 2010

The Ups & Downs of Faith

Faith follows the same pattern as many other important aspects of life including: relationships, health and wealth; sometimes it’s up and sometimes it’s down.  This is not a statement of opinion, rather it is a fact that is supported by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) himself.  He informed us that faith goes up and down; and anyone who has made the attempt to live life as a person of faith can attest to the truthfulness of that statement.

When our faith is strong and on an upswing, we feel as if we are on a cloud floating along carefree.  Our hearts are at peace and the burdens/difficulties of life seem to feel light upon our chests.  But when our faith is weak and on a downswing, we feel as if we are trudging slowly along a murky path.  Our hearts are not at peace and the burdens/difficulties of life feel like the weight of the world is bearing down on our chests.

This is not to say that when we have strong faith, we are not tested.  Rather, the opposite is true.  The more we have faith, the more the tests of life will confront us.  However, (and this is one of the profound benefits of living life with strong faith) those tests seem lighter and not overburdening when faith is strong.  Faith has an amazing way of lightening our burdens and helps us to put things in perspective.  It allows us to see life for what it really is; merely a testing ground.

We all know the benefits of having strong faith, but the question that I want to address for the remainder of this post is: what do we do when our faith is weak or on a downturn?

I, as well as many of my friends, have experienced periods of weak faith or faith that is not as strong as it should be.  Therefore, what I will attempt to do is share the lessons that we’ve learned from our experiences in battling our own struggles in maintaining strong faith.  I will present a few key helpful hints that have served us well and helped us to get back on the right track.  As usual, I ask God to forgive me for the mistakes found in what I am about to write.  And I ask God to protect me from hypocrisy and allow me to utilize these advices whenever I feel that my faith is not where it needs to be.  Without further ado…

**Author’s note:  These are in no particular order

Go back to the practices that made us strong

In evaluating the times when my friends and I have experienced weakened faith; I have noticed that it always coincides with us having left the habits that strengthened our faith in the first place.  For example: what helped us to strengthen our faith was consistently listening to religious sermons on CD or MP3 and attending classes on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.  In times that our faith has been weak, we left those practices.  Another example is that during times of weakened faith, we reduced the amount of time that we spent in prayer and contemplation.  When our faith was strong, our prayers were strong.  Our prayers were more sincere, more focused and we were making a habit of praying not only the 5 obligatory prayers, but also extra prayers.

We need simply just to go back and review the habits and practices that we had when our faith was strong and attempt to re-implement them as much as possible.

Talk to God

In times of weakened faith, we forget to do one of the simplest, yet most profound practices that any human being can do…just talk to God.  Talking to God is an act that was described by our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as an act that exemplified the essence of our worship.

Two of the beautiful names of God are: Al-A’leem (the All Knowing) and As-Samee’ (the All Hearing).  God knows exactly what we are going through.  He knows the problems we’re facing and the feelings that lie deep in our hearts.  He knows us better than we know ourselves!  Therefore, all we have to do is call out to Him.  He is the All Hearing and He listens to the call of those that call upon Him.

**Author’s Note: When calling to God, one should call to God alone and not to any human being or anything other than the One True God

One of the greatest feelings in the world is when we just sit alone, raise our hands and call out to God.  We should just sit there and tell him how we feel; admit that we’re struggling in our faith; admit that we have erred in our ways; and then ask Him to help us, since He alone is the One that we can always count on and turn to in any and every difficulty and need.  He alone is the One that we can put our full trust in and He alone is the One that can enlighten our hearts.


The first word from the Quran that was revealed to the prophet Muhammad was “read”.  When looking back at the times in which my friends and I have experienced weakened faith, we realize that those times have always run concurrently with times of reduced reading of the Quran.  The times in our lives in which we’ve read the Quran with deep thought and reflection have always been times in which our faith felt strong.  The reading of the Quran is a cure for the illnesses and sadness of the heart.  When read with focus and reflection, seeking the guidance of God, the Quran enlightens the heart and gives life to the soul.  It is God speaking to His creation…us.

The Quran along with the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him) are our roadmap for how to live our lives.  All we have to do is simply go back to studying these teachings on a consistent basis.  Sometimes unfortunately, we all become arrogant and start to think that we already know enough and don’t need to necessarily learn anymore.  This feeling of satisfaction with our own knowledge should be deleted from our hard drives.  There is always more to learn and in fact, it is precisely when we stop seeking knowledge that our faith decreases and wavers.  As our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: the one who seeks a path to knowledge, God makes his path to heaven easy (this may not be an exact translation as the original quote was said in Arabic).

So when we face times in which our faith feels weak, it is incumbent upon us to re-commit ourselves to seek knowledge of our faith and re-commit ourselves to reading the book of God, the Quran, and studying the teachings of the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).  And it is incumbent upon us to talk to God and do whatever it is that works for us, to help us regain that strong faith that we once had and inshallah get to higher levels of faith and understanding that we’ve never reached before.

I pray that Allah (God) helps us to maintain a level of strong faith throughout our lives.

I pray that Allah (God) guides and helps everyone who is struggling in their faith.


Posted by: adeepershadeofsoul | December 11, 2009

Paying Attention to God’s Amazing Creations

I stumbled upon a website that was promoting a book called “The Deep”.  This book is about an expedition that went over a mile beneath the ocean’s surface to examine what, if any, life existed down there in the dark depths of the ocean.  To their surprise, they found an incredible array of diverse creatures that existed there.  They took photos of them and studied them for some time and the book is a collection of their photographs and initial observations of these creatures.

“Wow!” was all I could say as I was looking through the pictures from the expedition.  Many of them looked like creatures that were conjured up in the twisted mind of a science fiction novelist or a horror movie screenwriter.  I was in absolute awe as I went through the pictures and descriptions of these creatures.  Alhamdulillah (all praise is due to God), of course these amazing images made me reflect on God’s Greatness, which we will never come close to fully comprehending.

How amazing is it that in the deepest, darkest depths of the oceans lays an array of creatures that we have no clue about?  Think about that.  Humans always think that they’ve got it all figured out and then we stumble upon a discovery like this that shows us how little we really know regarding the vastness of the creations of God.  There are tens of thousands, if not millions of creatures that live here with us on Earth, and we have yet to discover.

As I was skimming through these pictures an overwhelming sense of humility struck me.  I started to think about all of God’s amazing creations.  Whether they be creatures at the bottom of the ocean, or mountains that rise up to meet the heavens; God’s creations are objects that show the incredible Magnificence and Power that He and He alone has.

If you ever get the chance, go to a mountain range and just stand on one of the mountains.  Just stand there and look out at the peaks surrounding you.  If there is an ounce of arrogance or haughtiness in you, this view should break it.  How small is the human being in comparison to the mountains?  How tiny and insignificant is one individual floating on a boat in the middle of an ocean?  Or a single plane flying along through the vastness of a great blue sky? Or a man riding his camel in the middle of a great desert?

This world is amazing!  The creations that surround us are so grand and majestic.  We just have to pay attention.

How many beautiful skies do we miss as we walk or drive hurriedly by, rushing to get to our next destination?  How many times will we allow ourselves and our children to spend all day inside our homes, eyes glued to some kind of screen, while the beautiful green grass, plants, trees are just outside our doors?  When was the last time we just laid on the grass and stared up at the sky?  Have we ever done that?  It’s one of the most pleasurable things in the world to do. Will our kids ever experience that?

When was the last time we sat and enjoyed listening to the waves of the ocean come crashing on the shore?  When was the last time we stood there and just stared at a beautiful tree?  When was the last time we felt a beautiful breeze blow and just stopped to enjoy the feeling of it as it blew on our faces?   When…..when ….when?

Life is too short to not pay attention to the profound beauty that surrounds us.  There is so much beauty that God has created in this world, and we should seek to be people who notice it and who are affected and humbled by it.

I thank God for creating such beauty in our world.

I ask God to help us appreciate his beautiful creations and for our hearts to be humbled by them.

And I ask God to increase us in our submission to Him.


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