Happier at Home

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From the heading of this blog, you wouldn’t have thought that it was the title of a book but it is! Recently, I read Gretchen Rubin’s Happier at Home and have been inspired to start my own Home Happines project.

What made me buy the book in the first place was of course recommendation. A mentor had suggested it so I wasted no time in purchasing it. However, it remained undisturbed on my bookshelf for a while, until two weeks ago. As you would agree, there couldn’t have been a more appropriate time to read this book.

Review

The book follows the author’s journey and reflections throughout the months of September through to April as she works on ways to increase the happiness she felt at home and with her family. She undertakes a strategic plan to tackle one task at a time. Some of these included: taking time to make photo albums, clearing shelves, going on adventures and looking after her body.

Reading the book itself made me happier for a start as I had discovered a person who just wanted to be happy, for the sake of being happy and for no attached motives. This is what I want, I thought. So I too have come up with a few things I would like to work on.

Home Interior

After 14 years of marriage, my husband and I are so grateful to be living in a house which we can call our own. We moved into it in the April of 2017 but decided we will decorate once settled. So it was ideal for us to start our decorating venture this spring, especially with the lockdown coming into effect. I often hear couples complain about how difficult it is to work with their spouses when rennovating or decorating their houses. So I am very fortunate that this is not the case for me. When it comes to house interior, my husband and I are equally passionate and work on it as a dedicated team. You could describe us like two swans in a synchronised dance ceremony on a still lake.

When focusing on outward possessions in her book, Gretchen quotes Carl Jung:

We need to project ourselves into the things around us. My self is not confined to my body. It extends into all things I have made and all the things around me. Without these things I would not be myself.

Carl Jung, C G. Jung Speaking

So, house interior will definitely be part of my Home Happiness Project.

Health

This aspect of our life is of utmost importance so it had to be part of my project. I am already health conscious and exercise regularly. However, this time I want to tackle the topic of health in a realistic way, one step at a time. I wanted to include my children too. Although I do not want to pester my children into being healthy, I understand that I need to be a good role model for them.

That’s what alchemists do. They show us that, when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Over the last year, my husband too has transformed into a healthier person. Health must be preserved, and I would very much like to reach my twilight years having taken good care of myself. More baking, less frying, more hydrating, less snacking. Also, exercise a little everyday. I like the variation of yoga, kettlebells and running, so I will keep this up. I have also made great use of online exercise classes. This is so convenient for me and I am very grateful for technology. Making exercise just as routine as brushing my teeth would certainly make me happier.

Family adventures

One of the greatest blessings in my life are my three children. It brings immeasurable joy to see them grow and evolve into their own unique selves. As a mother, the thought of her children growing up will inevitably bear a feeling of melancholy. However, there can be a brighter side to this. Now that my chidren are older (and out of nappies), I want to go on nature adventures with them as much as possible. This will make us all happier. When we go on outings as a family, we talk more, think more and appreciate each others’ company. Being out in nature has its own plethora of benefits too. More than anything, I want my children to carry with them wonderful memories, long after I am gone.

You too can come up with you own Home Happiness Project. It can include whatever you like. There are other things I have not included here, that will be part of my project, such as more cooking (needs no explanation!). I would li8ve to hear from you if you have ideas.

Valuable lessons from a painful experience

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By Sultana Ahmed

The following is an account of a painful experience I had a few months ago, just as lockdown began. I have written about the experience in the form of a short story and it is in third person. The purpose of the story is not to bring attention to the pain or who caused it, but to share with my readers some life changing lessons it taught me. The pain I had felt, was the catalyst for me to realign myself with my desired goals in life.

“It was early January and Sultana awoke to the sound of birds singing. She felt a revitalizing wave of energy. Why wouldn’t she? For the first time in twelve years, she was blessed with the opportunity to return to what she loved; teaching.

She gathered all her belongings and teaching materials, and felt a little silly knowing she had spent several hours at her university library preparing for her first ever lesson. Her students deserved only the best quality of  tuition.

Upon reaching the venue, Sultana was greeted by the employer, with whom she had been liaising until the day. He displayed nothing short of an exemplary character and led her to her first class.

Every following Saturday morning, she rushed to teach her students, having prepared hours of teaching content, often marvelling at this newfound happiness; the joy of teaching was indescribable.

“Are the students happy? Are the parents happy?” This was her regular query for the employer, who would always reply with,

“Yes, yes. All fine. You just carry on with what you are doing.”

He would tell her that he had set this tuition centre up for the sake of the community. He already had a full time job.

However, new challenges loomed. With a heavy workload from university already, and children to take care of, Sultana found she was struggling to make time for her newfound activity. So she spoke to the employer who responded,

“You are one of our best teachers and we don’t want to lose you.”

What was she to do now? How could she let them down? Unable to say no, she continued, with pressure mounting.

When the lockdown eventually came into effect, Sultana secretly breathed a sigh of relief, and even said nothing when her share of  lessons were taken online but were scheduled to be delivered by another tutor. Although she wasnt consulted about this, she didn’t mind. She knew she didn’t have the time to do it anyway, so it seemed fair enough.

But the day before the scheduled online teachings, Sultana received a sudden phone call. It was the employer. She answered the call just as she was about to start cooking.

“We need you to cover for tomorrow. Please call me at 5pm today to arrange a Zoom meeting to discuss everything.”

After four gruelling hours in the kitchen, cooking and feeding everyone, she left the children to her husband so she could set up a zoom meeting, something she had not done before. The meeting was scheduled for 5pm but after much vain,  she was only able to make it for 5:15pm. The camera was on. It was the employer.

“It has taken us 15 minutes to get this done! This can’t be happening! Look, you are not concentrating are you?! You are not looking at the chat box are you?! Can’t have you talking away tomorrow and ignoring the chat box!”

Taken aback by this sudden change in the employer’s tone, Sultana was lost for words. This was a different side she saw. Nevertheless, she still agreed to deliver the online lesson the next day, with no lesson prepared, not knowing who her students were. She never learns.

The next morning, she was fully prepared and the lessons went well online. However, the employer thought otherwise. In the disguise of constructive feedback, an onslaught of relentless criticisms came over her. She held her ground bravely and then the call ended. Once offline, she broke down. She cried and cried. Her children came into the room, “Are you OK mum?”

“Mum is OK, I’m just a bit sad and need some time, but I will be OK.”

Her children did not deserve to see their mother crying.

She had learnt some valuable lessons and resigned with immediate effect.

The lessons

No human deserves to be treated disrespectfully. The lockdown is difficult for everyone and I have had university lecturers who too, took a while finding their way through this new online teaching platform.  This is only normal.

The sustenance of each person is already decreed. Sustenance is not dependant on a full time job. With the blink of an eye, everything could change and a business venture could turn into a lifeline.

The pain she felt had nothing to do with the employer. He was just not able to see her side of things. After all, he was not psychic! The pain was a signal from God, to help her realign more with her purpose and with what she wanted from this life, and remove her from what she didn’t deserve.

My message

Difficult experiences carry the clues that help us to redefine our values. The problem is, we become too focused on what the other person did to us and we miss the clues.

When there is an imbalance in energy, nature shifts itself to regain a state of equilibrium. This is the same for us mortal beings. When we are investing all our energy in the wrong place (as I was)  – and in doing so, betray our true values – then painful experiences manifest themselves to help redirect that energy to where it belongs.

If I had not experienced this pain, I would have continued to betray myself by not following my passion of writing and pursuing the career I wanted. So, this painful experience was a blessing in disguise.

Finally, I trained myself to pardon the one who hurt me and wished them all the best. Yes, I had been hurt, but I did not have to harbour any hatred.  How could I think ill of a person for whom our beloved Prophet Muhammad Sallallaahu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam prayed to God for their pardon, saying, “Ummati,  Ummati. (My nation, my nation).” If he (Sallallaahu  ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam) wanted his nation to be forgiven, why shouldn’t I want the same? Indeed, the ability to forgive and pardon others is supreme, since our Creator is always reminding us of this attribute of His, in His Holy Book.

Beyond her veil

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Poem: Beyond her veil by Sultana Ahmed

At age thirteen, I embraced a new me,

I chose the face veil as an identity.

Never daunted was I by a funny look,

Every spiteful insult I proudly took.

At age nineteen I embraced a new me,

Leaving loved ones for a new family.

Tirades of hostility towards who I was

Only pushed me further, to wear what I loved.

My conviction, no doubt, was all that mattered,

Every time that my identity was shattered.

What did it matter, what they thought?

Though I crumbled from the grief it brought.

Those of my faith and those who were not.

All had their say, on who I was not.

At age twenty-three, I embraced a new me,

The face veil, no longer an identity.

Taking my time to work things out,

Unaware of the rumours, spreading about.

“Have you heard?” they would say,

“She has gone astray.”

What did it matter, what they assumed?

By their words, I shan’t be doomed.

For the veil I lay down, I still revered,

From all attire, I still preferred.

At age thirty-three, I embraced a new me,

I learned the secret that set me free.

“Feel peace, oh soul, with what you dont hear!

For in the end, it isn’t them you need fear.”

Leave them to talk, criticise and guess,

Forgive them more and speak of them less.

Pray to Him to purify your soul,

This, oh beloved, is your ultimate goal.

 

 

Studying a modern language at university

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Spoken language has fascinated me since I was a very young child. I gew up in  the 90s when children’s programmes came on telelvision at limited hours. So, during other hours, it was either the football or the news that was on. I had no interest in football and watching a group of men kick a sack of air around failed to impress me back then ( I might have changed slightly now as I have taken an interest in women’s football). However, news reporters mesmerised me. I would watch with amazement as they pronounced the words with fluency and eloquency. They never made any mistakes, I would often say to myself. I sometimes wonder whether I have acquired the abilty to speak fluent English by watching news reporters.

Fast forward two decades and I find myself studying English and Arabic at university. My first year has been nothing short of wonderful. I have an extensive background already in Arabic so even though I was studying Beginner’s level Arabic, I was able to polish up on certain things. As for English, I have loved getting into the nitty gritty business of grammar, phonology and essay writing. Perhaps I have an obsession with the correct formation of sentences in the English language. Believe it or not, when I read bedtime stories to my daughter, I end up delving into the grammatical analysis of sentences. Don’t worry though, my daughter has no idea of this, as it all goes on in my head! Apart from English and Arabic, I can also speak Urdu and Bengali (my mother tongue is Bengali).

Should you study a language at university? If so, why?

When studying a modern language at university, you are not merely studying a language; you are in fact entering a whole new dimention of culture, history and of course language with the study of dialects. During my time at university, I have had the priviledge of meeting some exceptional lecturers and also students from differnet countries and cultures. I have loved talking to European classmates from Greece, Bulgaria and Poland. I like to ask them lots of questions, which they have happily answered. Furthermore, during some conversation classes, it has been so exciting speaking to native Arabs. At UCLan, language students also have the option to study a year abroad so they can learn to become fluent in their chosen language. Arabic students have the option of going to Jordan or Egypt. How exciting!

For students, Rosetta Stone is accessible without a fee so we have the advantage of improving our chosen modern language.

What is the secret to learning a new language?

If you ask me, I will say the secret is exposure. Expose yourself to the language you want to learn. Watch youtube videos, practice writing and watch the news in that language like I did as a child. Films are also a great way to learn a new language. Don’t forget apps like Duolingo are free so utilize these for language acquisition. One thing I have found is that the more languages you know, the easier it becomes to acquire new ones.

Language as a hobby

It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but why not try learning a language as a hobby? I am currently learining Russian as a hobby. I have always had an interest in this language and again, I find it fascinatinog to listen to. The grammatical arrangement of Russian is very different from English. It is also a very beautiful language and very different to the languages I already know, so it’s a nice challenge for me too. It is very rewarding when I can finally understand words by reading them or hearing others say it.

I hope my experiences have given you something to think about, whatever you decide to do. Do let me know what languages you are learning or would like to learn in future as I would love to hear from you. You never know where it could take you. Good luck!

 

Unwavering faith: Part 2 – Bilal (RA) the first Muadhin and later life in Syria

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http://pluralism.org/religions/islam/the-muslim-experience/the-call-to-prayer/

Life as a muadhin

We already know that Abu Bakr (RA) purchased Bilal Radiyallaahu ‘Anhu for either 5, 7 or 9 Awqiyah and then freed him for the sake of Allah. Bilal Radiyallaahu ‘Anhu became the Muadhin of the Prophet Sallallaahu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam as well as the treasurer of the Masjid. Bilal (RA) was the first Muadhin in Islam. He fulfilled this role whilst in residence in the city as well as on journeys.

Bilal Radiyallaahu Anhu’s life after the demise of the Prophet Sallallaahu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam

When the beloved Prophet (SAW) passed away, Bilal (RA) wanted to travel to Syria. Abu Bakr (RA) told him: “No, stay with me.” Bilal (RA) responded, “If you freed me for yourself, then stop me. However, if you have freed me for the sake of Allah, then let me go towards my Lord.” Abu Bakr (RA) replied, “Go.” Bilal (RA) travelled to Syria and this is where he passed away. Some scholars are of the opinion that Bilal (RA) was also a Muadhin during the time of Abu Bakr (RA) and only left for Syria after his death. The following clip from a film portrays the sadness Bilal (RA) would feel when attempting to call the Adhanafter the death of the beloved Prophet Sallallaahu ‘Alaihi Wasallam.

 

Life in Syria; onwards and upwards

It has been narrated from Abu Dardah (RA) that, “Umar (RA) went to a place called Jaabiyah after the conquest of Baitul Maqdis. Here, Bilal sought permission from Umar (RA) to remain in Syria, to which Umar (RA) agreed. Bilal asked, “Please also give my brother Abu Ruwaiha permission to stay in Syria. The beloved Prophet SAW had established brotherhood between us.

“I give permission to your brother too. “

Thereafter, Bilal (RA) and Abu Ruwaihah (RA) went to the residence of Khawlaan.  Bilal (RA) asked them, “We have come to request your daughters’ hands in marriage for ourselves. We were once disbelievers, now Allah has guided us. We were once slaves, now Allah has given us freedom. We were poor, but now Allah has made us wealthy. Therefore, if you give us your daughters’ hands in marriage, then Alhamdulillah. And if turn down our request, then Laa Hawla Wa Laa Quwwata Illaa Billah (there is no might and no might except from Allah). The people accepted this request. After this, Bilal (RA) saw the Prophet (SAW) in his dream. The Prophet (SAW) said, “Oh Bilal, hasn’t the time come for you to visit me?” The next morning, Bilal awoke in a state of distress. He travelled to Madinah and presented himself at the blessed resting place of the Prophet (SAW). Placing his head at the auspicious grave of the Prophet (SAW), Bilal (RA) wept bitterly. At this instance, Hasan and Hussain (RA) arrived. Bilal (RA) hugged them both dearly. They both said, “We would both like it very much if you gave the Adhan for the morning prayer. So, Bilal (RA) climbed onto the roof of the Masjid in order to give Adhan. When he called out, “Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar!”, the entire city of Madinah shook. When he said, “Ash hadu Allaaa Ilaaha Illallah” then there was further comotion. Then when he said “Ash hadu anna Muhammadar Rasulullah”, even the women came out. Never a day had been seen that was more filled with crying men and crying women than that day.” (Asadul Ghabah)

 

 Some virtues of Bilal Radiyallaahu ‘Anhu and some Ahadith narrated by him

Hadhrat Abu Bakr narrates from Bilal (RA) that the Prophet of Allah (SAW) said: “Wake for the Fajr prayer, for indeed there is a great reward.”

It has been narrated by Abu Hurayrah (RA) that the Prophet (SAW) asked Bilal (RA): “Inform me of the most pleasing deed you have done in Islam, because I have heard your footsteps in front of me [in Jannah].” Bilal (RA) replied, “I have never performed a more pleasing deed than to perform wudhu very well in a complete manner in the hours of the day and night. I then pray what is necessary for me to pray.” (Siyar ‘A-laam An Nubulaa)

Anas (RA) narrates that the Prophet (SAW) said: “The frontrunners are four: I am the frontrunner of the Arabs, Salman is the frontrunner of the Persians, Bilal is the frontrunner of Habsh (Abyssinia) and Suhaib is the frontrunner of Rome.” (Siyar ‘A-laam An Nubulaa)

Brotherhood was established between Abu Ubaidah Ibn Jarrah (RA) and Bilal (RA). He was present at the battle of Badr too.

Abu Bakr (RA) says that Bilal (RA) told him, “One bitterly cold morning, I gave the Fajr Adhan. The Prophet (SAW) went out and saw that no one had come to the Masjid. He asked Bilal (RA), “where are the others?”. Bilal (RA) replied, “They have not come because of the cold.” The Prophet (SAW) prayed, “Oh Allah, remove the cold from these people!” Immediately, I saw people coming for the Fajr prayer.”

 Demise

During his sixties, Bilal Radiyallaahu ‘Anhu passed away in Syria. He is buried in the Bab al-Saghir cemetery in Damascus. It is not certain whether he passed away in Damascus or Aleppo, but it was one of these cities where he passed away (either in the year 17AH, 18AH or 20AH) aged in his sixties. Click on the following link to see pictures of Bab As Saghir.

 

 

 

Unwavering faith: Part 1 – The reslience of Bilal (RA)

 

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This written piece has been translated from Asadul Ghabah

 Who was Bilal (RA)?

Bilal Radiyayallaahu ‘Anhu was a“Habshi” slave who lived in Makkah. Habsh is the Arabic word for Abyssinia (now known as Ethiopia). His mother’s name was Hamama and he is known to have a brother named Khalid and a sister named Ghufrah.

He was a Muwallad in Makkah (Muwallad is a person who is not a pure Arab by ethnicity). He was a slave of Banu Jamh. It is believed that he had three nicknames: Abdul Kareem, Abu Abdullah and Abu Umar.

Bilal Radiyallaahu ‘Anhu was one of the early Muslims who got persecuted for his faith. He was a slave who was freed by Abu Bakr Radiyallaahu ‘Anhu.

The first seven people who disclosed their faith were: Abu Bakr (RA), Sumayyah (RA) and her son Ammar (RA), Bilal (RA), Suhaib (RA) and Miqdad (RA). May Allah be pleased with them all.

Allah protected the Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam) and Abu Bakr (RA) because of the tribes they were from. As for the remaining five, they were captured by the Mushrikeen (disbelievers) who made them wear sheets of metal and made them suffer by making them lie in the scorching heat. Bilal (RA) was especially humiliated. The Mushrikeen would leave Bilal Radiyallaahu ‘Anhu with their children who would drag him through the valleys of Makkah. In this state, Bilal Radiyallaahu ‘Anhu would still be saying, “Ahad, Ahad.”

 

Some virtues of Bilal (RA)

  • Anas Radiyallaahu ‘Anhu narrates that the Prophet Sallallaahu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam said: “The frontrunners are four: I am the frontrunner of the Arabs, Salman is the frontrunner of the Persians, Bilal is the frontrunner of Habsh (Abyssinia) and Suhaib is the frontrunner of Rome.” (Siyar ‘A-laam An Nubulaa)
  • He was amongst those who took the lead in practicing Islam
  • He was patient over the pain inflicted on him by the disbelievers
  • Abu Jahl would make him lie in the midday heat on his face. He would place a millstone upon him. The heat of the sun would cause him to roast.
  • Abu Jahl would say to him, “Deny the Lord of Muhammad,” but Bilal (Radiyallaahu ‘Anhu) would instead say “Ahad, Ahad.”
  • Once he was being punished in such a way when Waraqah Ibn Nawfil (a Christian scholar) was going past. Seeing what Bilal Radiyallaahu ‘Anhu was going through, he said, “Oh Bilal, keep saying “Ahad, Ahad.”. I swear by Allah, if you die in such a state, then we shall make your grave a means of mercy (in the presence of Allah).
  • Umayyah Ibn Khalf was another cruel leader of the tribe of Jamh who inflicted pain on Bilal (RA). He repeatedly tormented him. It so happened, that at the battle of Badr, it was Bilal (RA) himself who killed Umayyah Ibn Khalf.

 

 The story of how Bilal Radiyayallaahu ‘Anhu became free

A Sahabi named Sa’eed Ibn Musayyib Radiyallaahu ‘Anhu mentions Bilal Radiyallaahu ‘Anhu saying, “He had a great desire to practice the Deen. He was made to suffer greatly by the Mushrikeen but he would respond with “Allah, Allah.” Saeed Radiyallaahu ‘Anhu then says, “The Prophet (SAW) met with Abu Bakr (RA) and said, “If we had anything which we could purchase Bilal, then we could have done so.” Upon hearing this, Abu Bakr Radiyallaahu ‘Anhu went to Abbas Ibn Abdul Muttalib Radiyallaahu ‘Anhu and requested, “Please can you purchase Bilal for us.” Thereafter, Abbas Radiyallaahu ‘Anhu went to the mistress of Bilal (RA) and asked, “Will you not sell this slave before his worth begins to decrease?” The mistress replied, “What will you do with this slave, he is of no use!” And so, she tried to put Abbas Radiyallaahu ‘Anhu off purchasing Bilal Radiyallaahu ‘Anhu. However, Abbas Radiyallaahu ‘Anhu did not give up and went to see the mistress again and managed to persuade her to sell him to her. Abbas Radiyallaahu ‘Anhu then sent Bilal (RA) to Abu Bakr (RA).

Abu Bakr Radiyallaahu ‘Anhu purchased him for either 5, 7 or 9 Awqiyah and then freed him for the sake of Allah. Some say that Abu Bakr Radiyallaahu ‘Anhu had in fact purchased Bilal (RA) when he saw him being tormented and being crushed under the stone.

Click here for Part 2:

https://sullyssciencehub.wordpress.com/2020/02/01/unwavering-faith-part-2-bilal-ra-the-first-muadhin-and-later-life-in-syria/

 

 

 

In search of the truth: The story of Salman Al Farsi – Part 2 of 2: In the presence of a Prophet 

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The news is heard

I remained a slave and during this time, Allah sent His beloved Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam) in Makkah. I did not know anything about what was happening because I was still restrained by slavery. Until one day, the Prophet Sallallaahu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam visited Quba. At the time, I was working for my master on some date palm trees. I swear by Allah, it was while I was working here, that a cousin of his had come to him.

The cousin said to my master:

“Oh, so and so. Allah has challenged Banu Qayla. I swear by Allah, that at this moment they are in Quba. They have gathered in the presence of a man from Makkah. They are claiming that he is a prophet. When I heard this, I began to tremble and shake so much that I thought I would fall over onto my friend who was with me at the time.”

Salman Al Farsi (Radiyallaahu ‘Anhu) says:

I stopped what I was doing and asked my master:

“What is this news I hear?”

My master raised his fist and punched me very hard.

“What is your business here?!” he shouted. “Go back to your work!”

I replied,

“Nothing. I just heard some news and wanted to know what it was.”

***

The First Sign

That evening, I packed some food that I had and went to the Prophet Sallallaahu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam. He was in Quba at the time. I said to him,

“It has reached me that you are a righteous man, and that you have companions who are strangers. I have some things that I would like to give in Sadaqah (charity). I think you people are the most deserving of this Sadaqah. So, here it is. Please do eat from it.”

The Prophet Salllallaahu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam said, “Hold on.”

He turned to his companions and said, “Eat from this food.”

I thought to myself, that is one of the characteristics of this Prophet that my companion had described to me (when I was in Rome). He would not eat from the food given as Sadaqah.

 

The Second Sign

I returned home. The Prophet Sallallaahu ‘Alaihi Wasallam departed from Quba and travelled to Madinah.

One day, I gathered a few things that I had. I went to the Prophet Sallallaahu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam once again and this time I said,

“I have seen that you do not eat from Sadaqah. This is a gift for you.”

So, the Prophet Sallallaahu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam ate from it and so did his companions.

I said to myself, “That is two characteristics.”

***

The Third Sign

One day, I came to the Prophet Sallallaahu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam while he was at a Janazah (funeral) of a Sahabi. The Prophet Sallallaahu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam lifted his two cloaks (to show the Seal of Prophethood).

I tried to turn and look to see if I could spot the Seal of Prophethood that my companion had described to me. When the Prophet Sallallaahu ‘Alainhi Wa Sallam saw me turning towards his back, he realized that I was trying to seek the proof about what I had heard. So, he removed his cloak and I saw the Seal of Prophethood and recognized it. I fell upon it, overcome with a feeling of devotion. I kissed it and wept.

The Prophet Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam said to me,

“Come around here.”

I turned to face him, and I told him my story just as I am telling you, Oh Ibn ‘Abbas! The Prophet Sallallaahu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam was delighted by my story and wanted the Sahaba (Radiyallaahu ‘Anhum) to hear it too.

(Salman Al Farsi Radiyallaahu ‘Anhu remained a slave)

***

 Freedom from Slavery

The Prophet Sallallaahu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam spoke to me one day and said,

“Make an agreement with your owner; you shall pay him a certain amount of money and he will set you free as a Mukaatib.

So, I brought my freedom from my owner on two conditions: Firstly, I would plant three hundred date palm trees whilst earning a lower than usual income from him and secondly, I would pay him forty Awqiyah.

The Prophet Sallallaahu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam asked his companions to help Salman Al Farsi Radiyallaahu ‘Anhu.

One man helped me by giving me thirty date plants. Another gave twenty while one other gave fifteen. I continued to receive help until I had three hundred date plants.

Then, the Prophet Sallallaahu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam ordered me, saying:

“Off you go Salman. Dig the holes for the plants. Once you have finished doing so, then come and let me know, so I can place the date plants in the holes.”

That is what I did, and the Sahaba (Radiyallaahu ‘Anhum) helped me. So, I went with the Prophet Sallallaahu ‘Alaihi Wasallam to the place where the holes had been planted. We gave him one date plant and he planted it with his own hand.

I swear, by the One who has the soul of Salman, not one single date plant died.

So, now I had fulfilled the first condition which was to plant the three hundred date palm trees. Now, I had to pay the forty Awqiyah.

The Prophet Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam came to me with some gold from the booty of some battles. The amount of this gold was about as much as the size of a chicken’s egg.

“What has Salman the Mukaatib done?” he asked.

The Prophet Sallallaahu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam prayed for me.

He gave me the gold and told me, “Take this and pay off what is left.”

I asked, “Where will I come upon this money that I owe?”

“Take this gold. Indeed, Allah will surely fulfil your need with this gold.”

I took the gold and got it weighed. It weighed exactly forty Awqiyah!

I paid their due rights and now I was freed from slavery. After this, I was present at the Battle of the Trench (Khandaq) with the Prophet Sallallaahu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam as a free man. From then on, I did not miss any gatherings where the Prophet Sallallaahu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam was present.

To read Part 1 of this story, click here:

https://sullyssciencehub.wordpress.com/2020/01/04/in-search-of-the-truth-the-story-of-salman-al-farsi-salman-the-persian/

 

 

 

In search of the truth: The Story of Salman Al Farsi Radiyallaahu ‘Anhu (Salman the Persian)

 Part 1 of 2: A quest for God

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The birthplace of Salman Al Farsi Radiyallaahu ‘Anhu is Isfahan in Persia

Growing up in Persia (modern day Iran)

The companion of the Prophet Sallallaahu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam (known as Ibnu ‘Abbas Radiyallaahu ‘Anhu ) tells the story of Salman Al Farsi, who relates in his own words:

“I was a Persian man who was a resident in the province of Asbihaan, a villager who came from a tribe called Jayy. My father was the leader of the tribe. And I was the most beloved of Allah’s creation to him. His love for me became such, that he kept me confined in the house just like a maid or a young girl. So, I decided that I would strive to become very good at practicing my old religion of Zoroastrianism. I did this so well that I eventually became the caretaker of the temple, lighting up the fire and never letting it go dull even for a moment.

My father had a splendid villa. One day, he became occupied in working on its buildings. He said to me,

“I have become very busy in working on my buildings today, so go ahead and find out [about a few things I need].”

He ordered me to run a few errands for him. So off I went. Just before I left, he called to me and said,

“Don’t keep me waiting, if you do, I’ll become busier worrying about you more than my villa. You will end up distracting me from my work.”

So, I kept this in mind when I went out.

I passed a church that belonged to the Christians. I heard their voices from inside; they were praying. I knew very little about people and their affairs because my father had kept me confined at home. So, when I was walking past them, and heard their voices, I decided to go in to see what they were doing [out of curiousity]. When I saw them, I was amazed by how they were praying. I really wished I could be part of them.

I said to myself,

“By Allah, this is far better than the religion I am upon. I will not leave them until the sun goes down.”

I didn’t attend the job that my father had asked me to carry out for him.

I asked the Christians,

“Where did this religion of yours originate from?”

They replied,

“Shaam (Syria).”

I returned to my father, who had by now, sent people out to look for me. I had certainly distracted him from his work.

When I went to him, he asked me,

“Oh, my son, where were you? Had I not entrusted you to carry out a job for me?”

I replied,

“Oh, my father, I was going past a church where Christians were praying. I liked how they prayed. So, I decided to stay with them till the sun went down.”

My father said to me,

“Oh, my son, there is no good in that religion. Your religion, and the religion of your forefathers is better than theirs.”

I said to my father,

“Never! By Allah, their religion is better than ours.”

My father apprehended me and shackled my feet with chains. He kept me imprisoned in the house.

 

I sent out a message to the Christians,

“If any caravan of Christian traders comes to you from Syria, then inform me of them.”

***

 The Journey Begins

When a caravan eventually came, the Christians informed me about it.

I told them,

“When those traders fulfil all of their own objectives, and are about to return [to Syria], then let me know.”

So, they did let me know. I removed the shackles from my feet and joined the traders as they returned to Syria. I asked them,

“Who is the best person to go to, to learn about your religion?”

They told me about the bishop at the church. I went to him and told him,

“I am very interested in your religion of Christianity. I would love to stay with you and be of service to the church. I would like to learn from you, and worship with you.”

The bishop invited me in and I entered. I soon realized that he was a dishonest man. He would order and motivate people to give their money in charity. Then, when he gathered the money from them, he would keep it as his own treasure. He would not give the money to the poor people. He gathered so much, that soon there were seven heaps of gold and seven heaps of silver. I hated him very much because of what he was doing.

***

Eventually, the bishop died. The Christians gathered to bury him. This is when I told them,

“This man was evil. He commanded and motivated all of you to give your wealth in charity, but when you went to him with the money, he would keep it for himself as treasure. He would not give the wealth to the poor. And now, I shall show you the place where he kept his treasure, lying in seven filled heaps.

When the Christians saw this, they said,

“By Allah, we will never bury him.”

Instead, the people crucified him and stoned him. They appointed a man in his place.

***

 In the company of the righteous

This man that I was now staying with, was far better than the old bishop. I had never seen a man like him who chose to stay distant from the world, desired the hereafter and showed good manners from dawn till dusk. I loved and respected him greatly.

I stayed with him until he was on his deathbed. When he was close to death, I said to him,

“Oh, so and so! Your appointed time has come to you from Allah. And I have never loved anything more greatly than I have loved you. So, what do you instruct me to do? Who do you advise me to go to?”

He replied,

“Oh, my son, I do not know of anyone except a man who lives in Mosul [in Syria]. You must go to him. I assure you that you will find him to be very much like myself.”

When the pious man died and was buried, I went to Mosul and I went to the Christian man (the one mentioned to me by the previous one).

I saw that he was just like the previous Christian; he was diligent (hard working) and ascetic (staying away from worldly pleasures).

I said to him,

“A person has advised me to come to you and stay with you.”

“Stay with me, oh son.” he replied.

I stayed with this Christian, just like I had stayed with the previous one, until he too was near the time of death. This is when I asked him,

“I was sent to you by another. Now you too, are about to die. Who do you advise me to go to?”

He said to me,

“By Allah, oh my dear son, I do not know anyone except a man who resides in Naseebayn.”

Once the Christian was shrouded and buried, I went to the man he had told me to go to.

***

 Closer and closer to the truth

I stayed with him, until he too was about to die. This time, this pious Christian man advised me to go to a person who lived in ‘Amooriyah in the city of Rome. I went to this person and I was pleased to see that he too, was good like the others. I was able to earn some money here, until I made some profits and had money and livestock.

One day, he too was about to draw his last breath. I spoke to him and asked him about who I should go to now. He took an oath and said,

“By Allah! I do not know of anyone who I can advise you to go to, who is left, and living their life according to the path we follow.”

“But I will tell you of a time that is near. A Prophet will be sent. He will be born in Makkah. In his lifetime, he will travel to a place where date palm trees grow on open land. This land will be surrounded by soil that is stony. Indeed, this man (who will be a Prophet), will have signs that will not be hidden; between his shoulder blades is the Seal of Prophethood. He will accept gifts and eat from them (if it is food), but he will not eat from or accept charity. Therefore, if you can reach this town then you must do so. For indeed, the time of his arrival is nearing you.”

After he died, we buried the Christian.

***

 I stayed in Rome until some Arab tradesmen from a place called Kalb passed me by. I asked them,

“Will you take me to the land of Arabia? In return, I shall give you my wealth and my livestock.”

They agreed. So, I gave them my wealth and my animals, and they took me with them to Makkah. However, once we reached a place in Makkah called Waadee Al Quraa, they became oppressive towards me and wronged me. They sold me off as a slave to a Jewish man who lived in Waadee Al Quraa.

It was here that I saw the date palm trees. I really wished that this was the place which my old Christian companion had described to me. This did not prove to be true.

Until one day, another Jewish man from the tribe of Banu Qurayzah came. He purchased me from my previous owner. He set off with me, and soon we arrived in Madinah. And by Allah, I knew this was the place. This was the city my friend had described to me. It was indeed Madinah.

Keep an eye out for Part Two which will be uploaded next week InshaAllah.

The Soliloquy of the Full Moon: poetry publication by a remarkable teenager

This past November, I had been at a very special gathering commemorating the love of the Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him). There were many wonderful performances including recitals, anasheeds (melodious recitals and songs of an Islamic context), speeches and readings from articles and books. However, there was one particular performance that stood out to me that evening; a reading from a book of poetry called “The Soliloquy of the Full Moon”.

Before I talk about the book itself, it is worth mentioning that the beauty of the Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him) has often been likened to the full moon by his companions and here is an example of this:

It is related from Jaabir Radiyallahu ‘Anhu that he said: ” I once saw Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam on the night of a full moon. On that night he wore red clothing. At times I looked at the full moon, and at times at Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam. Ultimately I came to the conclusion that Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhu Wasallam was more handsome, beautiful and radiant than the full moon “

Shamma-il Tirmidhi

What is most astounding is that the author of The Soliloquy of the Full Moon is a fifteen year old girl. She is the teenager who captured my heart. The heart of a middle-aged woman. Our youth are the buds of tomorrow’s blossom, and our demeanour towards them will have an impact on their growth. There are many inspiring youth in today’s world, let us celebrate them and help them grow into exceptional individuals.

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In awe of the poetry

The Soliloquy of the Full Moon

The Soliloquy of the Full Moon is an epic poem composed over twelve nights in Rabi al-Awwal 1436H. Over a thousand lines, it celebrates the virtues of the Prophet (peace be upon him), the signs preceding his advent, the wonders of his birth and nursing, the first revelations and his night journey and ascension. It is the first work of its kind written in the English language – Barzanjian in form, Shakespearean in cadence – composed by the author at the age of only 15.

“In The Soliloquy of the Full Moon, we encounter an original and telling poetic concept which reflects the truth that there is nothing in the heavens or the earth that is not praising its Almighty and Omnipresent Creator; and that the Moon is one of His creations that appears again and again in different aspects of Islam and in the life of every Muslim: the splitting of the moon mentioned in the Quran, and Allah Most High swearing therein by the sun and the moon; the recording of time through their movements; and many other matters.

Noor is a young lady who has grasped both the momentousness of the subject and the need to have high resolve and make maximum effort to produce a work that is worthy of it.”

Taken from the foreword of The Soliloquy of the Full Moon written by Dr Muhammad Isa Waley (Curator of Islamic Manuscripts at the British Library)

I shall leave you with an opening sonnet of gratitude from this beautiful book, and let you see for yourself the magnificence of her poetry.

 

A sonnet of gratitude

May every word herein to Him be raised,

And thankfulness accorded in full breadth

To all who helped this work’s completion. May,

In God’s transcendent court, their names be read:

The winter Shaykh for words of warm support;

The Ward of manuscripts for close critique;

The Lordly teacher who my teacher taught;

The Sayyid for confirming it sahih.

Li’l-umm, wa’l-ab, wa’l-ukht wa’l-hirratayn

And to the Fellowship Insep’rable,

To family – too numerous to name –

My love to all of them for their good will.

And unto Kazi, Muhyi al-Din Ghulam,

The Prophet – peace on him – and Al-Rahman.

 

Starting university – what I wasn’t prepared for

selective focus photography of bookshelf with books
Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

This time last year, a few friends and I were hard in training for a half marathon, which we took part in in the January of 2019. Fast forward eleven months, such a venture seems a distant dream. I look on as runners pound the streets after sunset, breathing in that cool crisp air. That was me last year, I say to myself.

This September, I started university and the first few weeks were beyond brilliant. I had initially enrolled on a Nutrition and Exercise Sciences course and instantly made friends. I was my usual chirpy and bubbly self and things couldn’t have been better.

It was only three weeks into my course that I decided that this course really wasn’t for me. The writer in me wanted to be heard. The writer in me did not want to be buried. So I enrolled onto English Language and Creative Writing. I did miss my old classmates though, they were a lovely bunch. Anyway, once again, I got into the swing of things and began to enjoy the course, making a few great friends too. However, by week six, something was not quite right. I was in the university library one evening working on an assignment and after about an hour, I felt my chest tightening and I became wheezy. My ciliated epithelial cells were giving up on me. A nasty cough followed. I decided to go home.

I became very unwell. I thought it was the usual cough and cold and after going to the doctors, was told it was a viral infection. Armed with some antibiotics, I felt smug as I looked forward to a full recovery. So it is no surprise that after two weeks of rest, I decided to go to the university sports centre and use the gym. My friends were going for an induction anyway so I decided to go with them. After they had their induction, they waited for me while I went on the treadmill (neither of them had their sports kit that day).

What a great feeling it was! Those legs of mine kept going and I was feeling replenished with every stride. The next thing I know is that the treadmill came to an emergency halt. I must have lost balance. I didn’t think much of it but decided it was time to get off and go back to my friends. They had another lecture so I walked with them and we parted ways.

My husband was waiting for me at the library (he too is a student) so that was my next stop. After drinkng some tea, we walked home together. I felt good.

Once I got home, I went to shower and get changed but found myself crawling into bed. My limbs began to ache with pain and I began to shiver uncontrollably. My body had gone into some sort of shock. I was poorly once again, and it made me reflect.

I had just started university; a place where thousands of people were touching the same premises, using the same lavatories and eating at the same tables. I mean, I can’t complain too much; great measures are taken to keep the university clean but my own immune system had been challenged in a massive way. In my own house, I use a bathroom which is shared by no more than five people. Compare that to me now using a bathroom used by thousands of different people from all across the world. It was clearly something I hadn’t thought about much. Worst of all, I was carrying these germs with me right into my own house.

As for running, it will have to take a rain check until I get better. I am coughing away as I write this. For now, vitamin C is my friend. One of my lecturers from my previous course who taught us Nutrition said that it didn’t matter if we took too much vitamin C by accident as “the body flushes out the excess”. (Stephanie Dillon, Principal Lecturer and Academic Lead for Sport, Exercise and Nutritional Sciences)

Most importantly, I know this is a phase and I will not let it put me off or bring me down. As another one of my lecturers from my previous course (who taught Biology) said,

You see, when you get ill, you are actually being challenged by an opportunistic organism (bacterium).

Bojlul Bahar (Senior Lecturer in Nutritional Sciences)

Absolutely Sir! I will not let those opportunistic organisms get their way, I will fight back with all I have. And in the end, I will win. (InshaAllah)