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Reflections…Journey To Finding You

December 22, 2017 by  
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Surveys, Ratings, Mystery Shoppers, Performance Reviews and the list goes on…we live in a society that promotes being analytical about a situation, relationship or event.  We are constantly being analyzed about our lives, our daily interactions and we analyze what we experience in our lives.  If we patronize a financial institution and a policy we deem is unfair presents itself…we call for change.  With regard to the increase in police brutality amongst individuals of color…we call for reform.

Yet within ourselves…we never look within to analyze our behaviors, we never take the time to do self-reflection.  We never call for change within ourselves.  In the world that we live in today, everything is just go, go, go.  Leaving one to feel like there is no time for introspection and self-reflection.  The reality of it is, in order to grow, develop and become a better individual…we can’t afford not to MAKE the time.  Many have attempted to embark on this journey and have found it very overwhelming and therefore have left it off.

When one looks at something with a negative connotation, it encourages that person to just leave well enough alone.  However, when it comes to personal, spiritual and professional development…we have to change that perception.  Self reflection and introspection is a necessity to positive growth…operative word; POSITIVE.  There are beneficial reasons in which we can look at this self work.  Here are some healthy views with respect to self-reflection; especially as we look into starting a new year:

Tip#1: It Allows You To Notice Negative Patterns

 

Tip#2: Focused On The Bigger Picture

Tip# 3: Prevents You From Worrying About What You Cannot Control

 

Tip# 4: Face Your Fears

Tip# 5: Clearly Defines When You Are Most At Peace

Tip# 6: Self Awareness

 

Tip# 7: Conscious Decisions vs. Emotional Decisions

 

 

 

May The Negative Force Be With YOU: 8 Tips for Avoiding Negative Thinking

November 27, 2017 by  
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So often we are affected by negative thinking; not realizing that what you think about you bring about!  The great thing about the mind is that you can reprogram it for positivity and productivity.  Here are 8 tips to help you avoid negative thinking and give it back to those who want to give it to you:

Tip #1: Set Clear Boundaries

You have to have clear and set boundaries for yourself with regard to allowing negativity to be in your midst, your mind, your heart and your soul.  No one has the right to dump their negativity on you.  So often we feel we have to listen to someone’s negativity in order to be considered a good friend…WRONG!

You control your space and what goes in it.  If the conversation is not serving you well, not elevating your mind, your thought process in life, then WE don’t need to engage in this type of dialogue.  Your mind is like a computer, when a virus enters the hard drive everything in it becomes corrupt and as a computer has Anti Viruses to keep what you have stored from being damaged…so you must have such blockers to preserve all that is positive within you. 

Now don’t get me wrong, at times we all need a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear…but it should NOT be a free for all to allow someone to simply dump that type of energy on you.  You cap it, you limit when you say…ENOUGH! Which brings me to my next tip…

Tip #2: Avoid Complainers-Focus on Solutions

You will be amazed at how so many individuals just like to complain.  It’s almost as if they live for negativity and are addicted to it.  We all have that friend/relative that no matter the time, day of the week, month or even year…when you see their name on your phone as it rings you almost have to brace yourself and say a little prayer as to if you are going to answer the phone or not and if you do; after speaking with them you feel like you need a therapy session.  This is where you apply BOUNDARIES!  Once you see the person repeating what they have already complained about, this is your cue to ask…so what’s the solution?  Then offer to brainstorm together ideas to look  at it from a positive perspective and seek solutions to get out of a negative one.

This also teaches people how you are to be dealt with and how you will deal with them.  If they want to remain negative, they will stop calling you.  PROBLEM SOLVED!

Tip #3: Pick & Choose Your Battles

Everything does not require a response, not everything requires your energy.  When you devote so much time to the non-essential, the non factors…it WILL drain you.  Be clear on what and who needs to be addressed. The rest…continue to observe and make mental notes.  Silence truly is GOLDEN and not saying anything IS saying something.  Sometimes less is more.

Tip #4: Change Your Language

Words have POWER!!!  Avoid using absolutes such as NEVER & ALWAYS because the reality of it is…it isn’t ALWAYS & NEVER.  When you use words like that it distorts the truth and can have you assessing a situation in a skewed view.  Remember, when you speak…YOU are also listening.  So don’t be your worst enemy!

Tip #5: Don’t Take Things Personal

Sometimes your perception of something can be so off the mark because you made something about you and it truly has/had nothing at all to do with you.  That other person may have had a bad day, received some bad news so their interaction with you may be off.  ASK and assess if it is about you or something else. 

Also, when someone does/says something negative towards you, if you know in your heart of hearts it is untrue then do not internalize that.  Hurt people, hurt people.  Bring clarity to each situation so that you do not take someone else’s negative behavior/speech/tone personally.

Tip #6: Be The Positivity You Want To See

Just as a grumpy person can bring moral and a mood down, so does a happy, positive person.  Energy is felt and it is contagious.  Be infectious with positivity.  Give a compliment, a smile, say good morning, ask someone how are they doing and truly LISTEN to the response.  This will keep your mind off of the negativity you see/hear daily just by bringing a little sunshine to someone else’s life.

Tip #7: Let Go & Move On

Sometimes we bring about our own pain and negativity by holding onto things and people who evoke less than happy emotions.  For example, if you have photos of someone who hurt you…why are you still in possession of those photos?  Release the negativity by getting rid of its reminder.  Delete that number, text messages from that individual because each time you look at it no matter the time…it will bring you back to that space in time and with all its negativity.  CLOSE that chapter.  Let go of people who hurt you, who no longer serve you well.  Remove them internally and then externally from your circle.  Negativity is like a malignant cancer, it will get worse unless removed.  Move on!  Sometimes we hold unto things/people who God is trying to protect us from.

Tip #8: Prayer

When you pray, you are asking the one who knows and sees all, the one with Infinite wisdom.  Ask the thing we are most afraid to ask and that is to allow you to see things for what they really are and to see people for who they really are.  Pray for guidance, discernment and then ask for acceptance.  You can never go wrong or live a negative life when taking HIS lead!

Maintaining a Mental Space of GRATITUDE

November 14, 2017 by  
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As I sit in my office…I’m thinking and reflecting on the fact that November is the month known for its infamous holiday…Thanksgiving and it amazed me how many can think of things they are grateful for on that particular day; yet throughout the year suffer with depression (not due to mental illness), unhappiness and just feelings of sadness.

So I thought to myself how can one remain thankful EVERYDAY?  I came up with 5 Daily Tips one could utilize in order to stay in a state of Gratitude, Positivity and Productivity.

Tip #1: Never Compare Yourself To Others

Never compare yourself to others because you have no idea what that person has gone through in order to achieve what they have.  It’s similar to an iceberg.  While you only see the tip, underneath the surface lies a VAST block of ice.  So while you compare yourself to someone else, you may not see the vast block of possible childhood trauma, financial difficulty, personal sacrifice and hardships that person has had to endure or is enduring.  Remember, you are not in competition with anyone but YOURSELF.  If you focus on you, you will see your own personal growth in one area or another and isn’t that the goal??  Isn’t that what you want to see?  Your progess?  As long as that is occurring; you are moving in the right direction.  This takes us to the next tip.

Tip #2: Acknowledge Your Growth (No Matter How Small)

Far too often we minimize the necessary steps needed in order to achieve the final destination.  Those “small” steps as you call them are CRUCIAL to your personal development in every way.  When you minimize them, it takes away the joy of the journey, thus your proper gratitude to the situation, the moment and your life’s journey.  Imagine your FAVORITE cake!  Now it doesn’t just miraculously appear.  It took the baker to implement just the right amount of ingredients…the flour, the eggs, vanilla and whatever ingredients is required and if this cake were to be missing any one of those things and even if the amount of each ingredient were off…that cake would NOT be the same.  It would not be that masterpiece you just envisioned.  Such is the same with you and I.  Without each step, each accomplishment…the end result would not be the same.  It will not be whole, nor complete.  Each small step in the right direction is an indication that you are one step/ingredient closer to your goal.  It’s all in your perception.  Change the clouded lenses of which you are seeing your accomplishments (large or small)  Celebrate them and see how your level of gratitude increases daily. 

Tip #3: Volunteer

When you think you have problems, take a look, or step in the shoes of someone less fortunate than you and see if you really have a reason to complain.  Volunteer at a homeless shelter and see if the apartment you wished were a house is now not that bad after all.  Volunteer at a Food Pantry/Soup Kitchen and see if you’re not grateful for the items you have in your cabinets/refrigerator and that they are not suffice for you.  Even better; that you yourself have enough to even donate.  Volunteer at a hospital/hospice and see how blessed you are to be of good health.  When you walk away…AHHH there it is, you CAN walk away; there lies the blessing and the moment of gratitude.  If possible, take your children to volunteer so that you can plant the seed of consistent gratitude in them as well.

Tip #4: Watch Motivational Videos/Read Positive Quotes

Make it a point to google a motivational video about life, achievements, not giving up, self-esteem and the list goes on at least once a day or every other day in the morning or before you start your day.  Make this part of your routine to get your day started on the right foot and on a positive one.  It has a way of changing your mood as you face that boss or that contract you want to close.  Build up your defense for the negativity that you will encounter throughout the day so that you will not be void of what is necessary for you to accomplish your goals and daily tasks.  Do not hoard this piece of advice for yourself, share it in the workplace and write a daily positive quote in the staff lunch area.  At home; write a positive/inspirational quote for the entire family to benefit.  Put in on the refrigerator for everyone to see prior to going to work/school.  You never know…that positive quote may be just what someone needed for that boost of confidence to take that test or put in that request for that promotion at the job.

Tip#5: Nightly Journal

Each night before you lay your head to rest…obtain a journal where you can write down ALL that you are thankful for for that day in spite of the fact that the day from the outside looking in…may have looked like a bad one.  When you can remember things such as…I woke up this morning, I drove to work, I came home, I hugged and kissed my family upon return.  These are the things that for some…no longer have.  So it leaves you in a state of gratitude, a state of half full vs half empty.  Not a bad way to end the day!!!

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: B.O.S.S. In The Workplace

October 17, 2017 by  
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Bringing, Optimism back to Secure, Stability in the Workplace

Statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:

  • In the United States, twenty people every minute are victims of physical violence by a partner.
  • In a typical day, Domestic Violence hotlines take more than 20,000 calls.
  • A study of homicides including Domestic Violence revealed that 20% of the time the murder victim is NOT the Domestic Violence victim, but instead family members, friends, co workers, neighbors and bystanders.

With statistics such as those aforementioned, it would be impossible to think as an Entrepreneur, Manager or Executive Director that this epidemic will not touch your workplace in some way.  Either one of your employees, volunteers or Board Members may be living with Domestic Violence directly or they are close to someone who is and due to that fact…you will have to address this issue at some point.  Sooner rather than later.

I am a firm believer in being proactive versus reactive.  As an Entrepreneur or Executive Director, if you asked your employees directly if they were a victim of Domestic Violence; your response would most likely be NO.  However; creating an environment that encourages, empowers and supports will allow employees to seek the needed help while for once holding their dignity.

In order to address an issue, one has to become informed.  What are the signs that one of your staff members may be living under abusive circumstances.  What does that look like?  Let’s take a look:

  • Visible/Physical Injuries
  • Depression
  • Excessive Absenteeism/Tardiness
  • Isolation from Co workers
  • Fear upon receiving a call or visit from partner
  • Anxiety at the close of the day
  • Lack of Concentration

Now an employer may think…this is a personal problem; this is none of my business!  As long as they do their job, I will utilize the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.  You may want to reevaluate that thought process once you see the direct effects it may have on your company/organization:

  • Domestic Violence victims lose 8 million paid days of work each year
  • Domestic Violence impact on businesses exceeds 8.3 billion a year, which includes 727.8 million for lost productivity.

As a good employer, you would be remiss to not address this.  So how can your company combat this epidemic?  Here are a few ideas:

*Protect Their Confidentiality: Upon being made aware that an employee is a victim of Domestic Violence; maintaining confidentiality regarding their co workers will ensure that that employee will continue to confide in you so that you can redirect them to the proper resources to assist.  In their personal environment, trust is something that is lacking so providing them a space to feel that they can trust again is the first step to healing.

*You Are Not The Expert: Acknowledging that while you may wear many hats; being a Domestic Violence expert may not be one of them.  Understanding that someone who chooses to leave an abusive relationship is at their most danger.  This will place the importance of a strategic action plan and that executing that to be of benefit of all parties involved, should include the experts. Referring them to Domestic Violence Shelters, allowing them to make the calls to these various support groups at the workplace will be beneficial to securing safety while seeking help.  If your company has an Employee Assistance Program, refer them to it.  This may be of much benefit as well. 

*Flexibility: Knowing that this may be an issue that is beyond an employees control, being flexible with regard to tardiness or absenteeism within reason may help.  Having some form of income may be one of the ways in which this employee will utilize as their “escape plan” so taking that away will assist in keeping the victim as such…a victim.  Working with the employee regarding their schedule on a temporary basis can make all the difference in helping that person maintain hope.

*Staff Training: Without making mention of the person in order to protect their confidentiality, having a staff meeting during Domestic Violence Awareness Month and periodically will allow co workers to become more aware of such a delicate topic and more sympathetic to those they may feel are a victim to it; thus disarming a hostile environment.  This may also allow employees to assist their friends/family of whom they know are victims of Domestic Violence with the knowledge you provide in the workplace.  This empowers all involved.  It sends a message to all that as their B.O.S.S. you truly care and are there for them.  Knowledge is power.  Invite respresentatives of reputable Non Profits that support this cause to speak to your employees. 

Developing a staff of longevity, empowering your staff beyond the paycheck is showing them that you care and is invaluable.  Domestic Violence is a slow death of self esteem, work productivity and a killer to a healthy work community and social community at large.  It takes a village to support those who may not be in a position to fight for themselves. Create an environment of a healthy, supportive and empowering workplace.  

Healthy Self Esteem and Higher Education: Is There a Link?

June 7, 2017 by  
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Healthy Self Esteem and Higher Education: Is There a Link?

I CAN is 100 times more important than IQ

How important such a quote/saying can mean to a child when hearing this from a parent. Most children if not all want to please their parents and make them proud.  This is also a desire as children become young adults.  Statistics have proven that with the right parent involvement, students’ academic achievements will and have improved, self esteem increases, and motivation to do better becomes much more evident.

While getting an education is extremely important, quotes like the one above instill in our children the belief that they have the ability to BE whatever it is they desire, ACHIEVE the grades they desire and work towards and that they possess all that is necessary to make their dreams come true. This will enable a child to have the motivation to press on even in the face of difficult classes and even teachers.

One may think my child does not have a self esteem issue; my child is confident in themselves, I do not need to do more than what I am doing, I just wish my child would achieve higher grades and live up to their full potential. Well, let’s take a closer look at the facts of what our children may be thinking and yet never utter aloud:

According to Real Girls, Real Pressure: A National Report on the State of Self-Esteem, commissioned by the Dove Self-Esteem Fund in 2008:

  • Seven in ten girls believe they are not good enough or do not measure up in some way, including their looks, performance in school and relationships with friends and family members
  • 62% of all girls feel insecure or not sure of themselves
  • More than half (57%) of all girls say they don’t always tell their parents certain things about them because they don’t want them to think badly of them
  • The top wish among all girls surveyed, is for their parents to communicate better with them, which includes more frequent and open conversations about what is happening in their own lives
  • 78% of girls with low self-esteem admit that it is hard to feel good in school when you do not feel good about how you look (compared to 54% of girls with high self-esteem)

These statistics I share with you is in no way an attempt to make you feel that all is lost in our youths and that there is nothing that can be done as parents; however as we all know, knowledge is power and by knowing the facts of this common yet rarely discussed topic, as parents you can better equip yourself in assisting your child in not becoming a statistic.

Parents’ words and actions play a critical role in fostering positive self-esteem in young ladies and in young men and it is not as hard as one may think. Simply applying a few simple techniques and habits will help tremendously in boosting your child’s self esteem and self worth and by doing so will boost their educational experience and ultimately their grades.

Here are 6 Easy Tips in Helping Increase Your Child’s Self Esteem/Self Worth:

  1. On Monday mornings of each week, Google an inspirational and motivating quote on self esteem and attach it to the refrigerator so that your child will be reminded each time they visit the refrigerator. If your child does not live with you, text it to them each Monday morning ending each inspirational quote with a personal word of encouragement from you the parent; such as, I know you can do it, I’m so proud of what you have accomplished, Keep up the great work.
  2. Take time once a month or when their home on a break to take your child out, just the two of you either out to breakfast/lunch or dinner at their favorite restaurant. This allows you to have an open line of communication; allowing you to ask those questions that maybe they would not feel comfortable answering amongst siblings or other family members. You will be amazed at what your child will share with you when they feel that you want to spend quality time with them.
  3. Incorporate something like a “Book Club”. The “Book Club” allows you to share a Self Improvement book with one another. This helps in opening positive dialogue amongst the two about the chapters you agree to read and it encourages your child to embrace positive ways in which to view themselves. Books that I recommend are the following: Developing the Leader Within You by John C. Maxwell, The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale, Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins and The Success Principles by Jack Canfield.
  4. Quarterly, find family members and close friends to share with you what they admire about your child and share it with them. This allows them to see how they are truly being perceived by those who know them best; thus shifting negative thoughts they may be holding inside to positive ones.
  5. Annually, host a family “Goal” Dinner. Each family member participating in the dinner will share what their future goals are; your child will share their educational goals. Each family member, i.e. sister, brother, father or mother is then assigned as an accountability partner. This family member will ensure that their loved one will keep focus and assist in minimizing distractions, remind them to keep their eyes on the prize of graduating with their degree, achieving a certain GPA or stepping out of their comfort zone and joining a club on campus or fraternity/sorority. Each year thereafter, part of the dinner will be to celebrate such accomplishments and share new goals for each upcoming year.
  6. Sharing a motivational video from You Tube on either their Facebook page or directly to their email.

Consistently practicing these tips and staying committed to them will guarantee a change in your child’s self image to one of greatness. I would like to share with you my personal story. I am a mother of three children, one twenty two, one twenty and my youngest, eighteen. My oldest child from the time he was six years old, was bullied at school. Not only from his peers, but by his teachers as well and it took a tremendous toll on his self esteem. I saw my vibrant child become introverted and isolated from his peers. I encouraged him to talk to me during one of our one on one times with one another at his favorite restaurant…Red Lobster. There is where he began to tell me what was happening to him and how he was viewing himself. In many ways I wish I never had to hear it as no parent likes to see their child in pain, but at the same time I was happy he told me because now I knew what was in his heart and in knowing so, I could then begin to assist in the healing process. I applied the same principles and tips that I share with you today and his self esteem has improved dramatically. After being told that he would never learn to read by his first grade teacher to his fifth grade teacher telling him she didn’t like him because he was different from the other children, my son accomplished graduating with honors and is the CEO of his new comic book company; Fearless Fantasy Ink. The journey I shared with my son and the results is not something that happened and changed over night; however, with as I mentioned before…CONSISTENCY, you too will see a shift and one for the better with your child.

In conclusion, I would like to leave you with one last quote:

The difference between school and life? In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson. Tom Bodett

Obtaining good grades will assist in graduating from college, obtaining a healthy sense of self worth will assist in graduating in this thing we call life. As parents we can assist our children in mastering the ability to obtain and more importantly…maintain a healthy sense of self worth and self esteem.  

Be A Great Woman of Islam TODAY: Learn the Tricks of Shayton

December 1, 2016 by  
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This topic could not have come at a more appropriate time.

Make no mistake about it, Trump is in office by the Qadar of Allah and while we may not understand it YET…in Allah’s infinite wisdom this happened  and if not careful; Shayton can and will use it against you to lower your standards as a Muslimah and slave of Allah.  These things my Muslimahs are tricks of Shayton.  So let us review, the tricks of Shayton and FACE what isn’t working.  Meaning within ourselves so that Shayton cannot use it against us.  FACE what has you struggling because if you are struggling now…as prophesied when the minor and major signs start to appear THAT will not be the time when your IMAN will appear.  We will discuss 3 different tricks that Shayton uses and is going to use during this time:

1.) Denial: The definition of denial is a refusal to believe or accept.  How many of us are in denial right now that Shayton tricks us and that we keep falling for the same tricks.  For example, when I get out of school, I’ll wear my hijab!  It’s because of my friends or family that don’t cover is the reason why I don’t cover.  It’s not safe to wear hijab now!  Or the famous one…Allah knows what’s in my heart, he knows my struggle…Allah is most merciful.  Lastly, how many of you are in denial that this election is even a sign of the last days?  Allah makes things obligatory for us for a reason and what is obligatory is just that…a non negotiable.  If you can stand before your Lord on the day of Judgment with those excuses then I fear for you.  There are sisters dying in other countries to wear the crown you are so ready to discard.  There are our sisters in Islam like Khawlah, Maryam and Sumayyah who lived for the preservation of Islam, who lived for the honor in wearing hijab and died to be identified as a Muslim.  Which is the whole reason why Allah gave us, the women of Islam  the command to wear it…it is our duty and honor to represent this Ummah & these women!!!  Don’t allow your denial of the punishment of Allah for disobedience to keep you from owning it or in the time that we live.  We know when we’re on deen; there’s a good feel about it…but when we’re not, you know it; you feel it!  Don’t surpress it by the trick of Shyaton in the form of denial.  Don’t deny this deficiency in your worship to Allah.  OWN it and then ask Allah to remove that because its like that saying, if you lie to yourself enough that you will eventually believe it.  Don’t fool yourself right up until Judgment Day and have to face it then.  Work side by side with Allah to assist you.  It amazes me of how recognition in a thing and then decision making is so difficult even when it means your life.  We see this in drug addicts all the time; knowing that the drugs is destroying their life, yet cannot come to the logicial decision to leave it off.  Defending & justifying a bad situation is a sugar coated way of saying DENIAL.  We cannot afford to be in denial…Shayton is banking on it.

2.) Fear: The definition of fear is anxiety caused by real or possible danger, pain.  Notice this man (Trump) has not even addressed this country, hasn’t passed a bill and my timeline on Facebook was literally flooded with how it is permissible to take off our hijabs, moving to Canada, Africa and Saudi Arabia.  Listen close…there will come a time when we all are going to have to face the major signs of the end.  You living outside of the U.S. will not change that and until Allah takes our souls…we will be tested.  This is a GUARANTEE…Allah says do you think you will say you believe and not be tested?  The women before us didn’t take times of trials as a reason to dumb down their deen, they used this as a moment to stand firm side by side with the men of Islam.

Khawlah-Warrior

Khansa- Her children

Sumayyah-First martyr

Maryam-Modesty tested; she didn’t run

Asma-Preservation of the Prophet

Hafsah-Preserved the Qur’an

And this man gets elected and all that goes out the window?  Islam is what we need to be thinking of preserving.  Fear…is it real?  Yes, but Allah warns us to fear him and hime alone…THAT is Tawheed!  Shayton will use fear as a trick to shy from your honor in being a Muslimah.  Don’t allow him.  He wants your soul…your very hereafter.  Don’t allow fear of Allah’s creation to be used by Shayton against you.  Think of what Allah allowed to happen before and how his servants faired.  Example:

Musa (May Allah be pleased with him): Red Sea

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh): Quraysh

Believe in the Lord in which you serve.  This is an opportunity, not a moment to paralyze in fear.  So how do you do this???  This brings us to our last key to being aware of the tricks of Shayton in order to strive and be a great woman of Islam and that is:

3.) Ignorance: Learn your spiritual history!!!!  Learn this religion.  Be like that of Khadijah who was the first to accept Islam.  Read the signs.  Read in what times we are living in.  Learning this religion will assist in being able to READ the signs and allow you to be better equipped in how to deal with things as they arise versus running in fear of them.  Be like that of Aesha (RA) who learned so much with respect to Islam that she is known as one of if not the greatest scholar in Islam.  TAKE ACTION TODAY!!!  Seek what isn’t working in you today and take one thing at a time and with Allah’s help make the du’a that Allah allows you to see the tricks of Shayton and to fight against them.

I pray that you have found benefit in some of these key components in your journey and aspiration of finding your place in this Ummah and finding your contribution during these times so that In Shaa Allah you can stand before our Lord on the day of Judgment as one of the great women of Islam today!

Bridge the Gap: Sunnah Rather Than Later

October 4, 2016 by  
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Surah Al Hujurat Ayat 13

O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into Nations and Tribes, that ye may know each other (Not that ye may despise each other).  Verily, the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you.  And Allah has full knowledge and is well-acquainted (with all things).

Surah Al Baqarah Ayat 213

Mankind was one single nation, and Allah sent Messengers with glad tidings and warnings; and with them he sent the book in truth, to judge between people in matters wherein they differed; but the people of the book, after the clear signs came to them, did not differ among themselves, except through selfish contumacy.  Allah by his grace guided the believers to the truth, concerning that wherein they differed.  For Allah guides whom he will to a path that is straight.

In the environment we live in today with Islamophobia running rampant, it is so vital that we adhere to the ayats forementioned.  Sadly, the issues we see in the Dunya with respect to race relations are plaguing our Ummah as well.  We have brothers and sisters due to being of different nationalities and cultures going as far as not even giving the Salaams to one another…the bare minimum of the right we owe to one another.  Some have gone to the extent of no longer attending a masjid due to race, in some cases preventing a masjid from having a qualified Imam because he was of a different race to not even wanting to stand next to one another in Salat.  This HAS to stop!

Allah chose that brother/sister to be a Muslim, just as he chose you.  Do you dare take issue with what Allah has decreed?  Clearly, if Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala chose that person to be guided, there is something about that individual worth getting to know don’t you think?  Instead of looking at our differences as a barrior, if we claim to be Muslims then let’s start with the religion of which we subscribe…Islam!  Islam means submission.  If we are truly submissive to the will of Allah then we adhere to his words in the Qur’an and follow the Sunnah in its totality, not like a buffet where you pick and choose what you like.  When accepting Islam, that is a condition of our Shahada.

So in doing so, in following the Qur’an let us disect the ayats mentioned at the onset of this blog.  Allah created different nations and tribes so that we can learn about one another and from eachother.  That whatever differences you may have AFTER the clear signs, we would no longer differ amongst one another.  Here Allah is clearly showing there is NO room, no place for racism in Islam and that what should bring us together before anything else is our faith…our Iman!  Do we not remember the profound hadith which states, ” None of you have Iman until you love for your brother (or sister) what you love for yourself.  Our very Iman is connected to wanting good for our fellow brothers/sisters and loving them for the pleasure of Allah.  This very act as it is connected to the root of our faith distinguishes us as a Muslim or as a BELIEVER!

Someone may ask, why do I need to get to know someone of a different nationality/culture who happens to be Muslim?  “There is no great benefit, I’m good.”  Oh, how wrong you are!  So let us look at the tangible benefits in this life that can be derived from all parties by following the ayats mentioned.  We will be taking it from the perspective of those who come from other countries…Muslim countries and from Muslims of the U.S.

Muslim Countries: How do Muslims from the U.S. Benefit?

  1. For those who are coming from Muslim countries, we can learn about the lifestyle one lives in those countries.  For example, livelihood is surrrounded around prayer.  Stores close up, people walking to the Masjid in order to pray and children literally carrying their parents on their backs to assist them in being able to pray; honoring their rights.  Restrooms in the foremat of the days of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).  For many born here in the U.S. we can only imagine what that looks like.  So the preservation of Islam in a way that we are not accustomed to can be part of the narrative.  In doing so, it may inspire someone who casually thought about making Umrah/Hajj to seriously consider it due to conversations had amongst his/her brother or sister.  Learning other cultures, traditions and food expands the human experience for one another.

American Muslims: How do Muslims from other countries benefit?

  1. For those born in Muslim countries, covering, modesty, minimum interactions with the opposite sex are the norm.  When coming to the U.S. it may be a culture shock to some and what once was not an issue for one with respect to their deen, is now one.  Such as covering and the issue of having a boyfriend or girlfriend.  The American born Muslims are used to being a “stranger” to those around them and can assist in helping their fellow brother or sister navigate through that transition.  Introduce them to organizations and conferences that can further assist in meeting other Muslims while maintaining their deen.  This will allow them to do good deeds together; studying Islam, Dawah work, community initiatives.

How is this not a win, win situation for all parties involved and the Ummah at large?  Disarm Shayton with his use of media to define us, let us follow the Sunnah where as Aesha (RA) says, our beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was the walking Qur’an.  In speaking of the Sunnah, let us reflect on the last lecture of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and let us keep in mind at the time of giving this Khutbah, he knew death was eminent.  Think for a minute, if you knew death was near, what would be your thoughts?  Who would you want to reach?  What message would you want to relay?  What would be most important to you?  Notice what was most important to our beloved Prophet (pbuh) in his last lecture.  I will begin by starting as he did in asking you to lend me your ear.

THE LAST LECTURE

“O People, lend me an attentive ear, for I know not whether after this year, I shall ever be amongst you again. Therefore listen to what I am saying to you very carefully and TAKE THESE WORDS TO THOSE WHO COULD NOT BE PRESENT HERE TODAY.


Beware of Satan, for the safety of your religion
. He has lost all hope that he will ever be able to lead you astray in big things, so beware of following him in small things.
O People, just as you regard this month, this day, this city as Sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you. Remember that you will indeed meet your LORD, and that HE will indeed reckon your deeds. ALLAH has forbidden you to take usury (interest), therefore all interest obligation shall henceforth be waived. Your capital, however, is yours to keep. You will neither inflict nor suffer any inequity. Allah has Judged that there shall be no interest and that all the interest due to Abbas ibn ‘Abd’al Muttalib (Prophet’s uncle) shall henceforth be waived…

O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under Allah’s trust and with His permission. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers. And it is your right that they do not make friends with any one of whom you do not approve, as well as never to be unchaste.

O People, listen to me in earnest, worship ALLAH, say your five daily prayers (Salah), fast during the month of Ramadan, and give your wealth in Zakat. Perform Hajj if you can afford to.

All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety (taqwa) and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves.

Remember, one day you will appear before ALLAH and answer your deeds. So beware, do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.

 

O People, NO PROPHET OR APOSTLE WILL COME AFTER ME AND NO NEW FAITH WILL BE BORN. Reason well, therefore, O People, and understand words which I convey to you. I leave behind me two things, the QURAN and my example, the SUNNAH and if you follow these you will never go astray.

All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; and may the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly. Be my witness, O ALLAH, that I have conveyed your message to your people”.

Will your actions show that his messaage reached its destination?  Will you be amongst those who are striving to be an answer to his du’a?  Will you be the change agent in your community to champion tolerance, true brotherhood/sisterhood…one Ummah?

Striving Vs. Trying: Words Have POWER

November 25, 2015 by  
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“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

How many times have we heard that statement?  Now ask yourself, how many times or have I ever truly reflected on that statement and the deep meaning behind it?

Words have POWER! It has power because when one hears something repetitively it has the ability to coerce your most inner thoughts, persuade and even control ones soul.  It has an impact on the individual hearing it; positive or negative.  Words although invisible can be worn on a human like a badge of honor and the behaviors that an individual displays are a direct reflection of what those words mean to them.

Every person has a vision, goal or aspiration for their life.  It could be a vision professionally, a goal for their marriage and even the level of spirituality they would like to attain and far too often with things associated to goals around ones professional, academic or personal life; one usually has a clear action plan or strategic course of action in order to achieve that goal.  Yet for the most important aspect of an individual’s life which is ones spirituality; the action plan is left to words such as “I’ve failed so many times, I’m not worthy:, “it’s too hard”, “I’m too weak” or the famous one…”I’ll try to have a closer relationship with my creator versus I’m STRIVING to have a closer relationship with my creator.  So what I would like to do at this time is to take a closer look at what the difference is between the two and when using them in the context of our spirituality; how much of a difference it can and does make.

Webster’s Dictionary:

Try: Make an attempt to do something.

Strive: Make great efforts; struggle or fight vigorously.

Clearly you can see the difference between the two.  The word “try” seems to mean or could mean one attempt as the dictionary does not define the word “attempt” in the plural.  On the other hand striving is depicted as a verb; something that requires more than one attempt with respect to action as it says to fight vigorously for something and is described as a plural when it uses the word “efforts.”  So just in using the word strive versus try when thinking of our relationship with Allah, it shows that in our attempt to draw closer to our creator it requires ACTION(s) on our part, just not a thought or hope of doing so.  Understanding the meaning(s) of words provides us the power behind them; thus influencing our responses to them.

In the Qur’an it is written:

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

Did I not charge you, O children of Adam! That you should not serve the Shaitan?  Surely he is your open enemy, and that you should serve me; this is the right way.  And certainly he led astray numerous people from among you.  What! Could you not understand?  This is the hell with which you were threatened.

When something or someone threatens your well being, your reaction is to fight; should that not be more so your resolve when seeking to obtain the most important thing; our relationship and approval of our creator, knowing that we have an open enemy looking to deter us from this course of action?  We can feel the effects when constantly surrounded amongst negativity and our immediate reaction to it is to get as far away from it as possible.  Do we not hold those same sentiments when we have negative or doubtful self talk?  Understanding that words have an influence on us; let us make a commitment to no longer use the word “try” let us start today by utilizing the word strive in order for the body to follow in our journey of refining, purifying and reintroducing a better version of ourselves.

When you have that resolve along with our dua’s to Allah, we can further feel empowered with the words of Allah when he said, “Take one step towards me, I will take ten steps towards you.  Walk towards me, I will run towards you.”

Again, illustrating that action is required on our part.  Every act first starts as a thought so we need to align our thoughts and dua’s in order to accomplish that action by using words that support the ultimate goal.  I once heard someone say something that I felt was so powerful and that was….”God loves you for who you are, but rewards you for what you do.”  (That recurring fight; the effort)

Yes, do we fall short each day?  Of course, we are imperfect beings; however, each day, each salat, each du’a is an opportunity to dust yourself off and try again.  THAT is the essence of striving versus JUST trying.   

Domestic Violence: Hijab Is Not A Covering For Abuse!

October 21, 2015 by  
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As many of you may or may not be aware; October represents Domestic Violence Awareness Month. However, with respect to the Muslim community, this topic is covered as if in it of itself was covered with a hijab. So let’s unveil and talk!!!

FACTS:

1. 10% of Muslim women experience physical violence which is the same as the National Average in the United States!

2. Islam PROHIBITS oppression of any kind!

MISCONCEPTION:

1. Islam condones domestic violence!

2. Muslim women are mere objects for their husbands and the men can do with them as they please!

3. Islam is a violent religion!

4. Muslim men are oppressive to its women!

In my experience with working with several organizations that support victims of Domestic Violence; a woman’s religion is rarely if ever a topic of discussion during the initial interview process. However, for Muslim women in SOME instances her religion and misconceptions of it plays a role in how she is treated the minute she walks through the door when seeking help! THAT HAS TO STOP!!!

Many conceive that abuse in the Muslim community is an “Islamic” or religious issue and that could not be furthest from the truth. Islam under no uncertain terms condones the oppression of another; especially the women of Islam. In fact, more than any other religion; Islam guarantees more rights to women. This guidance is provided in the Qu’ran, and any form of oppression is prohibited (haram). Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be Upon Him) spoke of the treatment of women: 

  • Be kind with the soft and gentle one (female) 
  • The most perfect of the believers in faith are the best of them in morals. And the best amongst them are those who are best to their wives.

So one may ask, if that is the stand that Islam takes, how does Domestic Violence exist in the Muslim Community? Let us be clear, just as you see this epidemic in the Christian community, Jewish community and Catholic community, it will surely exist in the Muslim community because what we ALL share and have in common is “imperfection.” Through the flaws derived from imperfection, it breeds the opening for Domestic Violence. Islam has another vice that supports the misconceptions of Islam and it being a violent religion.

ISIS, Al-Quada and the Taliban all play a role in the misconception. Domestic Violence has everything to do with the fact that it is a LEARNED behavior and lack of education.  The fact that Muslim women who are abused is more about a cultural matter masked under the umbrella of Islam. Here are some additional facts that support this:

CULTURE: 

  1. 92% of women in Afghanistan feel that a husband is justified in beating them. 82% of these women have very little to no education. 
  2. 54% of women in India feel that a husband is justified in beating them.  62% of the women in India have very little to no education. 
  3. 36% of women in Bangladesh feel that a husband is justified in beating them. 26% of these women have very little to no education.

Let me point out, these are NOT statistics just from Muslim women, it was of the women of that area…period. Even in the United States, 80-83% of those involved in Domestic Violence are recipients of some form of governmental assistance and do not either have a high school diploma or higher education. So lack of education perpetuates a woman (Muslim or otherwise)into feeling “trapped” and that she does not have the skills necessary to take care of herself or any children she may have if she chose to leave.

I write this to implore those who work with victims of Domestic Violence, that when a Muslim woman comes through the doors of your organization for aid, resources and support; please keep in mind…your organization may not only be her last resort, but her ONLY resort. Don’t be another form of abuse, welcome her, show her the compassion you would show any other victim with the knowledge that when a woman leaves she is at her most danger of being KILLED. Show her you are there for her and live the mission of what your organization represents. Remembering, her hijab is a covering and a representation of her modesty, NOT a covering of her abuse.

Social Media: Public Diary or Nah?

May 19, 2015 by  
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Social Media: Public Diary or Nah?

“Social Media is changing the way we communicate and the way we are perceived, both positively and negatively.  Every time you post a photo, or update your status, you are contributing to your own digital footprint and personal brand.”     – Amy Jo Martin

Let’s take a closer look at the latter part of the quote referenced above; “you are contributing to your own digital footprint and personal brand.”  While you may feel that you are just venting, blowing off steam or posting your audition photographs for America’s Top Model, in essence what you are really doing is creating a virtual reputation of oneself.  Social Media is a great tool in order to connect with family and friends and if you are a professional; a great venue to promote your business.

Unfortunately, too often today young ladies are utilizing their social media sites as their personal diary and a mirror for all to see of their precious jewel…their bodies; without truly knowing the consequences of such actions.  Here is a glimpse of that forgotten step. 

According to Career Builder, here are a few powerful statistics:

Those who have been denied employment:

  • 46% posted provocative and inappropriate pictures or information

  • 41% posted about drinking/drugs

  • 32% Poor communication skills (Spelling, grammar & foul language)

Those who have been hired employment:

  • 46% got a good feel for the candidates personality and social media presence

  • 43% Conveyed a professional image

  • 40% Communication skills (Spelling, grammar & absence of foul language)

Let’s be clear, what we post are not only for “friends” or “followers” to read and see, but it is a lense for potential employers and college recruiters to determine if the person on the application is not just smoke and mirrors.  How sad it would be for one to lose out on an opportunity to fulfill their dream because of a moment of frustration shared on social media or a photo taken as a misguided teen?

Please do not misunderstand me, I am a true believer of authenticity and with that being said, I would dare ask; would you bare your soul & secrets to a stranger?  How many of your followers do you truly know personally?  NO, social media is not and was never intended to be one’s public diary.  With all that we do, we have to think before we type, think before we post that photo.  There is a bigger picture to consider and that is your FUTURE.

Set a positive image of yourself in order to reap positive results!

 

 

 

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