Blog Post, Spiritual Matters

How do you “plan” your Faith?

Do you plan your life around your faith? Or do you plan faith around your life?

Is your salat (daily meditation) done in a last minute frenzy of rak’a (prostration) after rak’a? Or is it a time of khushoo (sincerity & focus) to meditate and recite the words of Allah (swt)?

In the university I attend, we have a “meditation” corner where people can go to meditate. Even though it’s an open space for everyone, the majority of the people in it are muslims at any given time. And as time has progressed, I noticed that there are three types of muslim students that attend this space, and I noticed that their prayer habits revealed a lot about their relationship with the faith.

The first, are the muslims who start out by scheduling their classes around prayer time. They have taken time to consider this before signing up for classes, and if they miss a prayer, it’s not because they didn’t try, it’s because the classes they wanted were either too full or didn’t work out with their schedule.

Generally, these are the people that you will find in the meditation corner, their studies are a priority, but they are mindful of their religion and they don’t let everything up to chance. They think and plan ahead because they value their religion and they understand the importance of the duties Allah (swt) has commanded us to do. Whether they are old and wise enough to be conscious of the the reason as to why it’s important or not is irrelevant, they do their daily prayers and fast the month of ramadan.

The second are the muslims who’s relationship with their religion is convenient. I fall into this category by the way, and I think the majority of people fall into this as well. These people are mindful of their religion when it’s convenient, but fail to deliver when there are obstacles or any hurdles in the way.

Praying is done just so that it can be done for the most part, schedules are not planned around prayer times unless it’s easy to do so, and there is a lot of combining of prayers and late prayers (dhur + asr etc.)

While prayers are done on a daily basis and ramadan is fasted, the rouh, (spirit) or quality of these actions is primarily to get things done and out of the way more so than it is for the value and importance of these actions in their lives. Regardless of intentions, the output is slapdash work where there is a lot of room for improvement.

And there’s also a lot of loss in terms of the “return on investment” in this case. The first group does these actions with intention and focus, like a student who’s been consistently and studiously immersing herself/himself into a subject to understand it. Versus the second group, who is more like the student who crams the night before the exam.

You might both pass the exam, but in the longterm, the one who studied studiously on a consistent basis is the one that truly benefits since they maintain that knowledge as they move on in contrast to the “crammer” who forgets it the next day. One does salat so that they can say they did it, the other does it to connect with their Lord; to lose their ego, to lose their stress, to lose their greed, to gain clarity, peace and feel centered and connected.

Moving on to the third group; this is the group that you don’t see in the meditation corner. Sometimes it’s because they care but not enough to ever show up, sometimes they care but don’t know how to show up, and sometimes simply because they don’t care, and don’t want to know or show up, and their lives are all about just that; their life, this life. This dunya is their only care.

I can’t say anything in regards to this group, because you never know whether it’s because they grew up in a household where salat wasn’t emphasized and prioritized, or because they are going through something on a personal and spiritual level. It’s not my place to judge or say anything other than the fact that I don’t see them there, and each has an individual story as to why that is.

This brings me back to the whole “plan your faith” thing. How do you plan your day? How is your relationship with Allah (swt) lately? Are you knocking off salat just to check a box and be done with it? Or are you showing up fully with focus and sincere intention?

Remember, to do these acts hurriedly to get them out of the way doesn’t serve you any good. I understand that not every salat is going to be “a marvelous healing and engulfment of peace and tranquility experience,” but it should be one where you leave your prayer mat feeling both lighter and fuller at the same time. Lighter in terms of the stresses of this world and daily rat race, and fuller in the heart with purpose and love (cheesy I know) and peace. I hope you keep this in mind the next time the athan (call to prayer) goes off. Don’t settle for less, put in the extra 10% effort to reap the full rewards.


Author’s Note: Did you know I recently made a new blog over at ullascheik.wordpress.com? I mostly post things related to mindset, motivation and success. If you’re into that type of stuff you should head over and check it out 🙂 

 

 

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Blog Post, Spiritual Matters

5 Things To Remember When You Are Losing Faith

There comes a time in every persons life, regardless of what faith they are following, where they stop for a minute and think, what if what I believe is wrong? 

Though this is normal, sometimes too much of this kind of thinking creates gaps in our faith that can grow overtime and create dissatisfaction in our lives. It creates a fog of doubt in our beliefs that clouds our iman, and without iman, religion is nothing but dry worship. Here are some things I like to keep in mind when I’m in doubt. 

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1. Listen to Quran (or the specific scripture you follow)

It’s a shame how much of the beauty of Quran is stripped when it is translated and it’s verses become the output of a humans limited understanding and vocabulary. There is nothing more beautiful than the calming recitations of Quran in arabic, and sometimes that’s all you need to hear to remember why you get up at 5 in the morning to pray and recite the very verses on that very first page on the Quran. 

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2. Sit At A Public Bench

Take 5 to 15 minutes and find a bench to sit somewhere in a busy place. Take a look around and look at how everyone is scurrying, so “busy” running errands and going to work: all things that don’t really have an end and no true everlasting purpose. Everyone running around in circles in their tiny little bubbles, struggling with the same insecurities, harboring similar thoughts, all made up of the same stuff.

Don’t think this is true? Try and make a chart, think it through. Where is everyone going? Work, a friends house? Visiting a loved one at the hospital? Walking their dog? 

Inevitably, we are all headed towards the same final destination regardless of what stop we make on the way. It really is a mad world!

 

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3. Realize That you are a Creation

There is this idea that people often forget about creation and the creator. And it’s this: the creator is the one who makes the details of the creation, and then, releases the creation, independent of any physical connection to it.  

For example, iPhone. Apple designs the iPhone, makes the software and hardware and every little aspect of the iPhone. Yet the iPhone, without the visible logo of Apple, would not know who made it. It can function, but it does not know how it functions, or what its insides entail. Yet when you swipe the lock screen, you get the homepage, when you press call, you get to call. It can function without its maker, the creation is separate from the creator, yet it doesn’t change that relationship. It doesn’t change the fact that its creator knows everything about it, while it, the creation doesn’t.

Just because we can function without our creator controlling us, and we don’t have a logo stamped on us “made by God” doesn’t mean that that relationship doesn’t exist. It exists and you need faith to feel that connection. The Quran is quite literally like a manifesto for how to best take care of yourself from your Creator. 

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 4. Pray! (Salat/Namaz)

I know your feeling of disconnection makes it hard to do this. It might even seem pointless. I’m not asking you to feel spiritual or motivated to pray; I’m asking you to pray so that you can feel spiritual and motivated again. And, I’m also asking you to know ahead of time, that not every prayer you will do will make you feel connected or spiritual. After all, not every grain of rice can tip the scale, it will take a combination of prayer, a consciousness of your Creator and many moments of contemplation before you can rekindle that feeling of connection, peace and purpose again. 

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5. Nature Walks

You don’t have to go to some fancy park for this, but you do need to step outside every once in a while and surround yourself with the lush life of this planet that we’re on. There’s something tranquil and energizing about being outdoors and surrounded by nature, and we definitely don’t get enough of that nowadays. 

Not sure where I read this, but I came across a statistic that stated that the average American spends over 90% of their time indoors. That means only 10% of our day is spent outside. If I’m not mistaken- we lock up suckers indoors as punishment for heinous crimes. And yet somehow, we’ve managed to willingly hold ourselves captive in our own homes tied to our computers and phones and TV’s- and expect to be spiritually connected and happy? Do yourself a favor, take a cup of tea and step outside for a minute- fresh air doesn’t bite. 

I know that for some people our impending mortality as humans may seem like a very dreadful thing to mention, but it’s true, who makes it out of this world alive? No one. 

I know it sounds dreadful, but it really shouldn’t be like that. For millions of years this is the only thing we’ve been promised on this earth- and yet we still don’t know how to deal with it. 

Embrace the fact that you’re not promised tomorrow. You have this moment and that’s all you need, connect with your Lord, let this moment and every moment be one of peace. And know with conviction, that there’s nothing for you to worry about. On earth you’ll have a peaceful existence, and in the after you’ll be amongst your Creator in shaa Allah. 


On that note, do you have any comments on how you like to get spiritually connected when feeling burnt out or lost? I’d love to hear any tips you might have 🙂 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Blog Post

About Your Faith

About Faith

-from an excerpt in Nahjol Balagha

(1) It is a road that is crystal-clear, inundated with light.

(2) Faith leads you to good deeds, and good deeds lead to faith. [rest of excerpt continues at end of post]

Notes on faith. Don’t let it wither, don’t let it dry out. I know how busy everyday life can get, I truly do, but you need to stop for a minute and take a breather. Continue reading

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Blog Post, Spiritual Matters

How I started Praying Everyday.

 

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ

How I started Praying Everyday and how you can too.

I’m putting this story out there knowing fully well what people’s opinions are like when their identity is concealed and their judgements are wild and free. I’m not going to sit here and pretend a mean comment isn’t going to hurt my feelings, or that they’re all hypocrites, because neither is true. But what I do know to be true, and what I’m more concerned with- is that one person who will connect with this story and change because of it- even if just a little.

It all started on some random afternoon in January of 2009, I’m not exactly sure what I’d done differently on that day, but what I do remember is that I was 14. I’d known how to pray since I was five, possibly six, but I never learned how to maintain it on a daily basis, and here I was at 14, fully able to pray but not doing so.

In fact, I clearly remember that at some point when I was nine, I used to always be the first one to pray and did so for a while until one day, out of the blue, my mom went on vacation and somehow that translated into my nine year old brain as “no need to pray anymore” and since then it’s been an on and off thing. Most days, it would go down like this;

My sister and I doing something together in the basement.

Parent from the upper floor yells: “Have you guys prayed yet??”

In which we would have only the two following options:

A) pretend like we didn’t hear and stay silent 

B) the sibling that did pray, would reply saying “yes” and we’d get on with life- until we’re caught for it later

And when we were caught, we’d be told to go pray and we’d go pray, getting up sluggishly, lazily, complaining as if our parents were telling us to do a most horrid thing imaginable to a child.

As children, we knew that prayer-salat- was right, and good and we should do it. Yet, for some reason, my attempts at doing it daily never held up. I would stick with it for a week or two, and then there would be slip ups, and sometimes the slip ups would last for days, maybe even a week.

For some reason, I couldn’t take my prayers seriously. Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow. That was always my excuse, and somewhere in my mind I’d buried the fact that I should be praying regularly by now at age 14 and that tomorrow was actually yesterday for me and that there is no time, was no time left to leave anything for tomorrow.

And yet, there was still this sluggishness, the 100 pound boulder that would seem to sit ontop of me whenever I remember that it was time to pray, and on that afternoon in January, my sister and I started a seemingly innocent chat about how we should commit more to our prayers, and then somehow that turned into a battle between the two of us and who would be able to do it longer.

In that moment, against the snow-glow against our window, we sketched boxes on a blank sheet of paper; the lines were crooked and uneven and we only made enough for a couple of weeks. We didn’t even think to think that we could pray daily for longer than a couple of weeks.

It was supposed to be a finite- a limited– number of days that we would keep our commitment to this strange-daily-praying-thing. We didn’t even have that intention or thought- it was too ambitious of a goal for us to even consider. Praying every day? How preposterous! 21 days is more than enough!

So 21 boxes we made.

And that’s how it started- somehow between that first day of crossing off the first box I haven’t stopped crossing off boxes.

By the time my sister and I had reached the end of the uneven chart we’d made at the end of that January, we realized that this “praying thing wasn’t so hard” after all. It suddenly wove itself into our daily lives and it became something that we just did, regardless of what went on in our lives. It became effortless and there were no boulders sitting atop my shoulders. Obviously I still get lazy about praying sometimes, but it’s a different kind of laziness. It used to be I was too lazy to pray, now it’s more like I’m too lazy to pray now, but I know with a deep conviction that I won’t be going to bed until I do.

And that’s how it happened. It started with crossing a box each day. It was unintentional. It was part conversation, part argument, and part bet with my eleven year old sister.

That’s how I pray everyday. I just do.

I don’t think about tomorrow. I don’t think about yesterday. I just think there is a prayer that I need to do today, when can I fit it in, and then I just do. It takes a couple of minutes and when I’m done I have lost so much. I lose so much of my self-centeredness, I lose my ego, my selfishness, my greed, my jealousy. I lose all the junk in my head. I feel like I’ve just taken a shower. And if that’s not what you’re getting from salah then that’s even more reason to keep going at it, even when you feel like nothing is happening.

There’s a great quote by Zig Ziglar as to why that is;

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing- that’s why we recommend it daily.”

And that goes for spirituality too. Now that I’ve rambled enough, I want to give you this free 30 Day Prayer Challenge!

It’s a pdf to keep track of your prayers. Stick it in your planner, in your binder, put it on your fridge, on your desk, on your wall, under your pillow- I really don’t care. Just have some way to get started and hold yourself accountable for your prayers. Salat is a great way to feel centered and content with life, and coming from a female I will tell you this-

When I get my period and I don’t have to pray, as relieved as I am that I don’t have to stop wherever I am and pray, after two, three days I feel… mucky. I don’t even know how to describe it…restless? I think restless is a better word. I just feel like I don’t know what I’m doing anymore. I don’t feel centered. I don’t even know how to describe the feeling, but that’s my experience with prayer. That’s my story and all that I can share. I hope this benefited you. I hope this helped shed some new light for you.

~Have a great rest of your day guys, and happy anniversary to MuslimGurl, I think it’s either my second or third year of blogging now. It’s kind of sad that I don’t know xD

Also, just so you all know- the prayer pdf costs $1.29 on my Etsy store, so take advantage of it being free on here and if you have a cousin or friend who’s going to buy it don’t tell them it’s free on here and just shhhh- just kidding. Feel free to share, and I’d love to hear your stories about how you began to pray/ where you’re at in your prayer journey at this moment.

Salams,

~MuslimGurl

 

 

 

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