Miracles of this Ramzan 2019

Assalam o Alaikum to you all!  We  are half way through Ramzan, the month of fasting for Muslims. Here in Islamabad it is from around 3.30 am till 7.07 pm. So it is 15.5 hours. I know it is up to eighteen hours in other parts of the world, like in Seattle. Surprisingly, It has been going really well, and full of beautiful miracles. Let me share some of these with you:  (others are in the pipe-line!)

1.     The water and accident incident:

Just look at this little incident that happened with me….

Last Saturday, I was going for art class to Rahi Studio. It was for  a landscape project. So, when I was about to leave home, I thought I’d take a magnolia flower bud for Hajra Apa. I broke one off the tree, and got my usual water bottle and put it in. At the gallery,  I took the flower out of the bottle, and went in to give it to Apa.

It was a joy to work on the painting, where my friend Salma gave me this canvas to work on. After the class, at the crossing near our home, I suddenly decided to go to my tailor to give  our Eid clothes . Afterwards,  as I was driving on the main Margalla road, enjoying the sight of scenic mountains; I saw a home delivery motorbike of a company ahead of me. Suddenly, I saw it getting out of control, and he toppled over.  The man fell on the roadside and then fell over the side, tumbling downwards on the slope beyond. I stopped my car a little ahead. I watched several bikers  stop and help the man get back to the roadside, next to his up-righted bike.

He sat  looking dazed. I took the water bottle, and offered him, he was fasting but gratefully accepted the water to splash it on his face.  He looked visibly improved, he returned the bottle to me.  I walked back to my car.

While driving back home, I went over the chain of events that brought me here at this moment. How it is God who makes us  do  things at certain times, to help His individuals.  This is why it is important to do what our heart tells us to do, because we know Who lives in our hearts, but we have yet to know, why He  prompts us!

Who knows, how many times He has helped us in this way. Then we wonder how the right person was there to help us when we needed it most!

Believe me, I’ve been a recipient so many times.

2.     Preparing trousseau for daughters of under-privileged persons:

Do, you remember how the wedding of two girls took place here, in Northern area, last month? We managed to get them lovely suits, cash for food and lots of things for home. All, thanks to the donations from you all, and specially from Aalia Janjua from California,  and  from my anonymous donors in Canada. There were  clothes from Uzma, Okasha and my mother and I also pitched in. May Allah help you all, for going out of your way for these people.

Since the wedding took place earlier than I expected, we ended up with extra donations. So, now I was ready to do the same for two more marriages! I drove off  around 10.30 pm and did shopping for them in my favorite shop in G-9 Markaz . Usually, I hate shopping, but this kind of shopping, I love. 🙂

So I got so excited when I was able to get quite a lot more  stuff within the same amount. All through meticulous planning alternatives with the salesman, Mudassar.  ( Yes, the one who gave Rs.1000 donation, last time.

He said:

‘People go for Umra spending so much, if they did such things it would change someone’s life. He said, God knows, if that Umra gets accepted by Allah, but such acts of making life easier for the underprivileged persons would definitely please Allah.’ So, he really helped me a lot, and I got two tea sets, one water-set, along with the dinner set of seventy-four pieces and three cooking pots’ set. Lots of knick knacks like kitchen knives, cooking and frying spoons, salt and pepper containers, and even lemon squeezers!

Meanwhile, Shazia Rizwan and her friends had collected some beautiful clothes, and cash for this wedding. Bisma also added some beautiful suits and shirts.

So, I’m all set for another wedding now. In fact, I was able to hand over to one mother who was very happy with the help.

Please note, it is not dowry, it is just a few things that any mother would love to give her daughter while seeing her off to start her new home. It is a privilege and honor for me, to be of help in this.

It may be noted, that I’ve never given any dowry to my own daughters who got married. Nothing was ever demanded either from the wonderful families. My daughters, Alhamdolillah, never faced any issues from their in-laws due to it. My daughters and I’m truly blessed. However, I love to help underprivileged persons, as they have serious issues, and I’m sure these things would be of great help for them.

3.     Distribution of Rations and food:

Every home in Pakistan, I’m sure provides rations for their staff and under-privileged persons living in their community during Ramzan. If nothing else, they will donate an amount which contributes towards food for poor in mosques. So, as I displayed a typical ‘pack’ to my followers on Instagram, several living abroad asked me to do the needful for them here. So, my staff would go and get the set and I’d look out for deserving families to give these rations to. Wives of drug addicts, widows, and individuals going through rough times, especially those who didn’t ask, but we could see they needed it. So that felt good.

4.      Clothes for CSS school children for Eid:

 

As you know, last Ramzan we managed to get Eid gifts for the CSS school children, you can read about them here.

This time Usman mentioned that it would be good to get clothes for them instead. I kept quiet. Clothes are a hassle, as the size and fit can be a big issue. ‘So, how will we do it?’ I wondered.  ( Just didn’t have the heart to say ‘no’ to Usman.) He is doing an impossible task of running a school for 170 underprivileged children.  So, I asked Asif my web expert, to please make a poster to share this idea with my friends and  followers.

Suddenly, I get this message on Instagram from a girl named Rimsha ….

‘I was thinking of getting clothes for CSS school children.’ My heart skipped a beat. ‘I’m a student of forth year in Arid University, Rawalpindi.’ I was thrilled. By now, she and her friends have gathered forty-seven dresses.

Then I got a call from  Shagufta Zafar,

‘Shireen, I’ve contacted a factory in Lahore, and I’ll be able to get about fifty clothes.’ Wow.

Then Andaleeb sent me  ten lovely clothes, all packed up. Ayesha gave me around fifteen.

Our target is achieved in half the time!!!!

As the target got achieved, I get this message from Inam Illahi – a new member of the Shireen’s Studio Group, ‘I’m sending sweets for the children at your address.’ So, hopefully, we shall have sweets in each parcel now, thanks to Inam!

5.     Food for the children:

My friend from Canada asked me to help with the wedding and food for CSS children.  (I’ve been asked by my Canadian donors to withhold their names.) Insha Allah we shall have the ‘deg’ ready for these children.  It is good to give them boxes with food so the whole family can share the food at home with them. These shall be given with the suits for Eid.

Can you feel that happy feeling creeping into your heart? This is how Usman has been giving food to his students earlier on:

6.     You make miracles happen:

So, now I know why Pakistan is the happiest country in this region. (This definitely includes all you Pakistanis who are living abroad and have your hearts still hanging in here.) It also includes all those who aren’t Pakistanis, still have a heart of gold eager to help those who needed their help.

I just love your  beautiful souls for having the will to help underprivileged children, and families. Wherever you are, find someone to help. I’m telling you, it is the easiest way to feeling great!

Yes, you are right. Lots more is cooking…. you’ll be updated soon. 😉

The card that accompanied the gifts of clothes for CSS school children from Andaleeb:

Naturally, I feel happy. Even though we can’t stop the rape, killings and horrible incidents happening around us. We can at least do our little bits to gladden a few hearts here and there.

Sometimes, that is enough.:)

 

How my Mentors helped …

All of us go through times when we feel we are stuck in an ‘impossible’ situation. It feels like a dead-end in life. You need someone to talk to. Someone, who is not judgmental. Who will listen to you with empathy, and offer the best solution.

With time, I’ve gathered mentors in every field of my interest.

All my mentors are there for me with their timely advice and input; they have made me who I am today.

Abbas Husain – educationist and spiritual guide:

In 2005 I went to Karachi for a one month intensive course for teachers and administrators called the Master Teacher’s Course (MTC,) at Teacher’s Development Center.  It takes place around this time of the year in Karachi, at his Teacher’s Development Center (TDC) on Tariq Road. Here, I’d spend each and every spare minute hovering around my teacher’s office or his well-equipped library, to gain as much information and knowledge as possible.  You will know more about him here in a blog post I wrote on his birthday.

Once, I was an administrator at a well-known institution, and had a very difficult boss. I was so upset at her behavior towards me, she wouldn’t miss out a single opportunity to put me down. I rang up Abbas Husain, in answer to my question, ‘what should I do?’ he narrated this incident of Christ: ‘once Christ was standing with his disciples, and a group of men passed by, they were using abusive language at Christ. In answer he replied, ‘May God bless you!’ The disciples were shocked. They asked him why he didn’t say something equal to what they had hurled at him, or simply ask God to punish them. Christ answered, ‘they gave me what was in their pockets, and I gave back what was in my pocket!’ Meaning that one should continue doing whatever good that one does, even if others do horrid things to you. So, one shouldn’t change one’s own better acts by getting influenced by the bad acts of others.

Yes, that helped!

When I’ve been busy working on my first publication of Tulip of Sinai, I shared its’ manuscript with him. Being the highly knowledgeable person that he is, he pointed out some big points that I had overlooked while working on the book. His timely advice and deeper insight into Iqbals’ concepts, saved me a lot of trouble, and gave me a deeper perspective.

It is always a pleasure speaking to him, as he is in constant touch with the latest thinkers and books. His knowledge is all inclusive containing the Eastern as well as the Western writers of our present and previous times.

Naturally, I have great regard for him.

 

Dr. Feroza Ahmad, educationist:

There was a course being conducted at Preston University about Personal Enrichment and Professional Development, in 2003. I attended that two-week course which was being conducted by Dr. Feroza Ahmed. I became extremely attached to her, and stayed in touch ever since. In fact, whenever, such courses took place after that, she would invite me as a guest speaker for their final ceremony. She is one of those persons, whom I can never refuse, because I hold her in great regard. She helped me in many ways:

  • Suggested I do EMBA in evening classes, which I did in 2006 – 2007.
  • Then in 2011 she asked me rejoin the university to covert my EMBA degree to an MBA She told me that I could do it, by forwarding my previous credit hours to the next one.
  • I started my first semester of MBA, in October Next month, my husband fell ill. So, I asked her to let me leave my studies. But she advised me to ‘Take care of your husband, but do not leave your studies.’ She helped convert my evening classes to distant learning, so I could study at my own pace, and go for the exams, while taking care of my hospitalized husband.
  • She gave me constant attention and monitored my progress. Later on she told me, that she read my papers, to check how I had performed in my exams. She knew the stress I was going through. Happily, she was very pleased with my output.
  • She has constantly been praying for me, and sending love to my parents and specially my mother.

Mahjabeen, spiritual guide:

My friend Seema recommended Mahjabeen, when I needed to talk to someone who was the wisest in this region. I met her  in her home in Rawalpindi. Within minutes I could see she had a grip over my situation. She responded with solutions which were very basic and easy to understand. After that, we regularly spoke on the phone. No matter how distressed, she would have me laughing in minutes.  She is amazing. Here are some pearls of wisdom I’ve gathered from her:

  • The master jeweler (jauhari) knows where a precious stone will look the best. He knows best where it should be set. You are where you are in life, because the Master Jeweler has placed you there!
  • Which type of questions do you give to your favorite students? – The most challenging ones of course – knowing your student will be able to attempt it well. That’s how Allah is taking you, He obviously thinks you are a bright student, if He has given you the toughest question paper!
  • The world is an examination hall where each person has a different question paper.
  • No matter what happens in your life, do not stop doing those kind deeds that you have taken upon yourself.
  • When a loved one leaves this world, take a very small act which would please Allah, and do it for him on a daily basis for the rest of your life. Ask Allah to give its reward to your loved one. (When it is something big, it can’t be done daily, so it is best to choose something small and doable.)  Of course, go ahead and do the big deeds too, once in a while.
  • Do not stress about anything; ‘if it is written, it is bound to happen, so why worry now? If it isn’t written, it won’t happen, so why worry now?’

Abida Peer, spiritual guide:

She was in Islamabad, the wife of a senior diplomat from South Africa. I don’t know who recommended her to me, but I got an appointment and went to meet her. She taught me things which have helped me in my life onwards. These were easy ways of meditation.

  • Meditation of the word ‘Allah’, repeat this for five to twenty minutes. One can easily do it before sleeping, or while driving, or after prayers. You just have to focus and repeat the word slowly, preferably with eyes closed. (Of course, don’t close eyes, while driving!) Slowly, you feel every muscle in your body relaxing, and your mind becoming at peace.
  • Read La haula wala quwwata….. (there is no strength but the strength of Allah), hasbiAllah ho wa neimal waqeel…. (Allah is sufficient….), for ten to twenty minutes after at least one prayer per day. (If you can do it about fifty times, it is very strengthening.)

Seema Iftekhar – friend, Urdu literature and spiritual guide:

We became friends in 1992 as our houses were near to each other, living in PAF, Badaber, Peshawar. We just clicked. When I found out she is an expert in Urdu language and specially on Iqbal, I would go and learn his poetry’s meanings from her on an almost daily basis. Waliya was just a few months old, and Seema loved her. So our friendship grew, her children and my elder two girls also became great friends. She used to write for Urdu dailies then, and did a clothes business too. Later, she became a scholar in Islamic studies, so if I needed advice, I would often go to her. As a regular writer for Dawn’s Tuesday review, I’d often ask for her input on anything to do with Urdu literature or Iqbaliyat.

So, with her vision and input, I’ve felt great support from her.

Farida Shahid – friend, spiritual and business management guide:

She has been my friend since we did masters in Related Arts, from College of Home Economics. We are a part of the same group of friends. We have stood by each other through the thick and thin parts of our lives. Specially, when I’ve ever had any problem, they all get together to help me.  Each one of them Riffat, Ayesha, Fitrat, all give their inputs whenever needed. However, since Farida went on to study the Al-Huda course in Lahore at Abida Gurmani’s house, she has become more learned. Every Ramzan, her Daura-e-Quran, has gathered a special importance in Lahore. She also conducts lectures and classes in Al-Huda.  I’ve learnt a lot from her in my personal life as well as in making financial and asset management decisions. Having a back ground a very strong business background, she has the expert mindset of a manager:

  • For heart –related diseases to read the 57 Ayat of 10th
  • Relationships: Read 7th ayat of Surah Mumtahena.
  • Renting out property is very good decision, of course, one faces problems but these are manageable.
  • When your child has proposals, try not to make an issue of minor things like dates etc.
  • However, when you have to refuse a proposal, then do it in morning hours, after saying two naffals for them and your family.
  • In the case of Haq Meher, it should be reasonable yet sizable support for your daughter.

Hajra Mansoor and Mansoor Rahi – my art mentors:

Since childhood, I’ve wanted to be an artist. But when the time came for me to go to National College of Arts, Lahore, I wasn’t permitted to go, by my parents. That was a big setback in my life. Going to Home Economics College and then studying Related Arts in my masters, was only the next best thing to do. So, much later in life, when I got to know Hajra Mansoor and Mansoor Rahi – the two living legends in Pakistani art – it was a God-send for me. Their constant feedback and mentoring in my art work is like a balm for that deficiency that I’ve felt due to not going to NCA. My weekly classes with them to date, are a tonic for me.

Tips for having and keeping mentors:

  • Do meet them whenever possible, while respecting their time.
  • Express your admiration for them, and take appropriate gifts for them.
  • Pray for them, as having mentors in our lives is essential for our survival.
  • Do give them a call now and then, to let them know you are thinking of them. (Yes, Eid in round the corner, an excellent opportunity to call your mentors and wish them.)
  • Definitely, call them if you need their advice; ask for an appointment. Make notes if needed, as you don’t want to forget important information from their goldmine of experience. In cases when you can’t meet them, ask to call at an appropriate time, you can even make a Skype or phone call.

Have you got mentors? Do you stay in touch? Do share what you learnt from them, with me.

I’m sure you too must be blessed. 🙂

Note: Most of my mentors do not believe in being photographed. So, I’ve respected their wish, hence the flowers! (But they are like flowers in my life, and their fragrance keeps me as I am So, it isn’t far from the truth.) Pictures of Hajra Mansoor and Mansoor Rahi are taken by myself. Abbas Husain’s photograph is taken from internet.

Living within glass walls.

It is about the glass walls that we are living in.

No, you don’t realize that you are living in it, but you are. We all are actually living within compartments made of these glass walls. Occasionally, we share the compartment with others.

Mostly, we live separately.

Actually, no one knows about it. Only you and I do.

Glass walls of prejudice, hatred, and misunderstandings. We just cannot understand anyone living in the other compartments. In some cases, we ourselves were living in some of those. But through time,  or circumstances, we shifted unknowingly. Now, it is about ‘them’ and ‘us’!  Childhood, teenage, adulthood. We kept shifting. Now, we cannot understand other children, teenagers, or adults or even anyone who is more than a few years older or younger than ourselves. In fact, many times not even those who are of our age, but just don’t think like us! Hmmmph.

The problem is we cannot understand anything about the other ones. Just don’t.

So, we look at the ones living around us in their compartments of glass;  professionals, non-professionals, city-dwellers, villagers,  third-world country people, developed world country people, ‘whites’, ‘colored’, Asians, Europeans, Far Easterns, Americans  and what not!

We all live within glass walls. Sometimes we move in between them without knowing it. Sometimes we have them between ourselves and our fellow humans.

 

It can easily be your own family members.

So, the big problem is that no matter how much we try, we cannot ‘understand’ them. Not at all. The differences have grown so much. So, in spite of watching many on a daily (and even hourly basis), we still do not understand them.

How can we understand each other?

What is it that can penetrate these steel invisible walls of glass?

Only one thing can!

That one thing is:

Love.

The same love that Iqbal and Rumi have been raving about. When you love, the walls fall down magically. Suddenly, we can feel the ‘loved one’s ‘ pain, sorrow, and difficulties.

Love does conquer all.

Those who are loved, and have love for others, they are the blessed ones. They are the ones who have no glass walls around them, because their love for others has simply penetrated through these walls. Now, they can understand all.

It isn’t logical but it is true.

With their love they feel, and can let others feel too. That love which is so powerful that it wins over all hurdles, and ‘compartments.’

Love.

Love for the creations of the Creator.

Stay blessed, my  Reader.

PS:  Hey, I love it when one of you comes over to me and talks to me, telling me she or he reads my blog posts. We really need to connect. Thank you so much Faqeha (not sure of your spellings) for reaching out the other day. Love you. Take care of yourselves, you are special and very precious.

Truth about Lies

The journey from lies to truth.

How do you feel when someone lies to you? How do you feel about that person? Yes, awful. You dislike that person!

Next question: how can you do your business like this? (Is it halal if your income is gained through lies?)

Why do we trust people abroad, more than Pakistanis? Why is online shopping in Pakistan today, nowhere near what it is in the rest of the world? Yes, because here people lie a lot. You cannot trust a person or nation that lies. So, lies and cheating go together, just as Truth and Trust do.

Continue reading “Truth about Lies”

Four Secrets of Success

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– I love it when a deep point is simplified!

The other day, I saw this video of a sermon by Tariq Jamil. It has the secrets of success in both worlds. It is based on the sayings of Holy prophet Muhammad (PBUH). It gave me the answer to the secret of success of my parent’s lives. They’ve never been into religious rituals. So, I’ve always wondered what it was. Listening to this sermon by Maulana Tariq Jameel made me realize the true secret of success in their lives.

Continue reading “Four Secrets of Success”

Spiritual Awakening Session of Aitekaaf.

– Fasting and aitekaaf, even during the year- can help us in many ways.

This blog is all about how you can try out aitekaf even at home. The other point is that it is good to do it during Ramzan; However, it is possible to do it even during the rest of the year, and for short periods of time. Life in today’s world is so stressful that we need these little windows of spiritual strengthening. No matter which religion you belong to, it is good thing to meditate and try to detach from our lives and connect with our Maker.

Sorry everyone. Ramzan somehow brings out the zombie in you. Twenty eight days of fasting and feasting has taken its toll. Sleep being the biggest victim, you spend more time trying to sleep than actually sleeping. No matter what you do, you are always short on sleep. So, now, with 28th day of fasting sixteen hours a day, behind me, I’m feeling better in many ways. Even though, I’m quite lethargic. My fault this time was that I didn’t do any exercise. Previously, I’ve always walked the last half hour before iftari, but not this time.

I believe that in every religion there is this option of spiritual connection with one’s Maker. Do, try whatever way you can have within your own religion.

Continue reading “Spiritual Awakening Session of Aitekaaf.”

Joy of Charity Work

 

Somehow, you always receive more than you give!

This topic is so close to my heart, I don’t know where to start! I suppose charity begins with empathy. Yet there are so many beginnings to it.

Why give charity? It can be any of these reasons:

  1. To help others out of their dilemmas.
  2. To thank Allah for all that He has blessed you with.
  3. It is the best way to bring your own problems into perspective.
  4. It is the best anti-depressant, and diffuser of sadness. An instant mood booster.
  5. A financial booster. (I’ll explain in a while.)

Continue reading “Joy of Charity Work”

Prayers and verses from Holy Quran.

Here is a sure shot way to face the trials of life successfully! At least this is how I faced them.  I’m sharing with you some of my special selections which gave me peace and courage during the worst times of my life.

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These are verses from the Quran which have touched me deeply. I keep adding to these, as I read. The words have given me strength in the most difficult circumstances.

Note: The English translations are by Muhammad Farooq-e-Azam Malik (1997)  almost entirely. Kindly, forgive me if there are any unintended mistakes here. Just let me know, I’ll correct them.

Once I have read these words, I feel ready to face my day – with my Allah’s blessings.

Continue reading “Prayers and verses from Holy Quran.”