Allah · Birth · God · Holistic · Life · Motherhood · Muslimah · Pregnancy · Womanhood · Women

Metamorphosis

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Metamorphosis is the word I think of when I look at this picture.

met·a·mor·pho·sis: The process of transformation from an immature form to an adult form in two or more distinct stages. A change of the form or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one, by natural or supernatural means.

This word comes to mind more often now as we approach the last month of pregnancy. During the beginning of the pregnancy, my Dad used this word to explain to me that I would soon be like a caterpillar who transitions into a butterfly. I fell in love with that concept but had very little understanding of what it meant. Now, looking at all of the changes that I have gone through so far, I begin to understand his analogy even more which makes me fall in love with it even more.

I was a caterpillar, waiting for my time. Today, I am a cocoon.

co·coon: A silky case spun for protection in the pupal stage. To envelop or surround in a protective or comforting way.

My body is serving as a cocoon, protecting our baby’s body and soul as they grow to their full potential. Soon birth will approach us and I will enter a new stage of life. This is something I look forward to so much. A new woman, a butterfly that will never be the same caterpillar. Something beautiful in it’s own way. Something I look forward to, but have no idea of what to expect… How will I feel as I emerge into something so new? How will my body feel graduating from being a cocoon for our baby? How will it feel to fly as a new person, a mother, a butterfly? What will I look like, will I turn into a butterfly with the same colors as when I was a caterpillar? What will I leave behind from my life as a caterpillar that is no longer useful to me as a butterfly? What will I bring with me, into my new being? And most interestingly, what will I learn as a brand new butterfly? What type of person will I support myself to be during this change and what will I gain during this new experience? So unknown, and so beautiful.

So beautiful, yet so much beauty still left to think of. Like the outstanding reality of The Creator who Created this experience for women to go though. “He has not given birth and was not born.” (112:3) But still, He Created for us to experience such beauty. A true blessing, an obvious mercy…

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Allah · Education · God · Hope · Life · Love · Motherhood · Muslimah · Plants · Pregnancy · Womanhood · Women

Always Him, Always First.

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I love this picture of our tomato or pepper (I can’t remember what I planted) plant growing in an eggshell. I call it my “mommy and baby plant” because of the sizes. So much about it is so cute. Generally, it gives me hope in the growth of spring. Specifically, it makes me think of myself and the growth I have gone through in the past 7 months of my pregnancy. It almost feels like I am a different person, which makes sense.

In the beginning of my pregnancy, my parents told me of how much change I will go through during the pregnancy and through the transition of motherhood. I thought I understood, but now I look back and realize that I didn’t understand them. I feel like I understand them now, but maybe when I actually become a mother I will look back again and realize that I don’t really understand. That wold be okay, because at least that would mean that I am still growing. Still growing as an individual, as a woman, and as a mother.

I love this stage of my life because of how much I have changed. When they told me I would change, I didn’t know what to expect exactly. That is the beautiful part, you can’t know what to expect because you haven’t gone through it personally. Also, I believe it is something that is so different for each and every person. Not just motherhood, but life itself. Sometimes it’s like you’ve stayed the same person for years, and other times it’s like you’ve changed drastically within months.

I am enjoying my changes and feel much more open, much more happy. Spirituality was my goal when I found out we are expecting. I wanted myself, the pregnancy, my connection with our unborn baby, and the birth to be spiritual. The amazing thing is that I had absolutely no idea where I should begin, I just knew that God had to be included. God was the answer, as He always is, and led me towards so many people and so much information that I needed in order to reach my goal. The way things came about and the way I came across life-changing knowledge, could only happen with His guidance.

One of my favorite things to do now is to look back at all of the different things that I thought was weird such as talking to the baby, or even my old opinion of thinking breastfeeding was weird. I like to look back at all of those un-knowledgeable judgments that I had in my mind and think of how thankful I am that those things have left me.

I look forward to continuing to change towards the better, towards the spiritual, and towards what is straight and beautiful. I look froward to looking back once I’ve transitioned into motherhood and think of all of the ways that I’ve changed from today. I guess the real reason I wrote this is so I can look back at this and remember that with any goal, I must seek God’s help first. Always Him, always First.

Allah · Feminism · God · Life · Love · Motherhood · Muslimah · Pregnancy · Women

My Empowering Body.

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I am incredibly thankful my amazing body. I find myself feeling shy speaking about my body but I know that’s only because society makes women feel like their bodies are only sexually amazing. That concept bothers me, so I’m going to talk freely about why my body is so amazing. It deserves at least that much. Sadly, I’ve never felt this way about my body before my pregnancy. I’ve never felt this thankful, or this intrigued towards my body. So I’ve decided to make a list of facts that amaze me most, especially due to pregnancy:

The fact that my uterus is literally the home of my child; protecting, supporting, preparing. The fact that there is a placenta inside of me, feeding nutrients to my growing child every time my heart beats. The fact that my heart is beating to support not only my body, but my baby’s body too. The fact that my skin is literally stretching as my organs move to make room for my expanding uterus. The fact that my body is preparing to make milk to feed an actual human being. The fact that my body was made to birth a life into this world. The fact that I, Sabrina, have a baby bump. And the most amazing fact of all, that God is in control of all of it.

It so funny to me that I’ve never cared for my body the way I do now. I’ve never seen it so beautiful, or respected it so much. Never, in my entire life. I don’t understand why that is, why I was so shy to be proud of my womanhood and my female abilities. I remember in high school when we approached the “reproductive system” in health class, I couldn’t wait to be done with the chapter. I told myself it was awkward and gross. Nursing was something I didn’t want to do, because it was weird. I realize now, that the only reason it was weird is because we grow up feeling like our breasts are mostly for sexual reasons and much less for the support and bonding of our children. We don’t grow up preparing for what our bodies are made to do naturally. For example, we don’t grow up gaining an education on how to take care of your pregnancy, or how to care for yourself after birth. This isn’t in our education system so it is rarely in our knowledge. What is in our mind is the judgment, the expectations.

I saw my body as “okay” during the times it was skinny. I saw my face as “okay” during the times I wore makeup. During the times I gained weight and the times when I was bare-faced, I felt less than “okay”. Can you believe that? I can’t believe it. I can’t believe that I saw myself and my body as something less than it is. Now, I feel the complete opposite. I am so happy to be growing a child inside of me. So happy that even comments such as “Wow! You’re getting big!” and “You’re waddling.” are comments that make me smile. I am SO grateful that I have come to this time. This time in my life where I am learning how amazing my body truly is. It is beautiful, strong, and extremely empowering.

 

A special thank you to my Husband, my Family, my Midwife, and the many people who support me are helping me learn about my body and it’s abilities.

Allah · God · Life · Love · Motherhood · PregnancyProject

Pregnancy Project: God is Love

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My little kickboxer,

I still can’t believe that we have been blessed with your life in my womb. Today, I cried a happy cry because the thought of you settled in a little more. I don’t think that the gift of you will ever settle in completely because it is such a huge blessing. A huge blessing from Allah.

Allah. The One I can’t wait to teach you about. The One who keeps your heart beating while you listen to the sound of my heart beating. The One who lets me breath, so that you can keep growing. That thought makes me feel love. Love for Him, for the gift of you. True love, something I can’t wait for you to feel when you get to know Him even more than you already do.

Allah · Life · Love · Motherhood · Plants · PregnancyProject

My Pregnancy Project: Into the World of His Mercy

There seems to be so much negativity going on in the world and it is constantly being shared in the media. This made me realize the importance of keeping positive for my health, and the health of our baby growing inside me. I should not find myself feeling as if I am bringing a baby into a violent world, because there is so much beauty that can overcome the violence.

When I found out about our little, big, gift I decided I would write a journal as some mothers do. Some notes on my feelings of excitement and cute stories that the baby could read one day. Who was I kidding? I am quite terrible at keeping a consistent journal, and right now I don’t have much to write about because the baby is still so tiny. So, I thought of a new idea, one that I hope I can keep up with better than I would a journal:

I plan to create a scrapbook, including pictures of things that are special to me in this world. Beautiful things about the world that bury the ugly things. Things that I can’t wait to teach my child about. While this plan is mostly for the baby, it is also for myself. To focus on seeking out the beautiful mercy that God has blessed us with. I will share my project online, so that others can see a little positivity rather than negativity, and maybe even join in on the project!

Here is my first:

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My little baby,

 You are as small as this plant. Like the plant, you started out as a small seed that Allah blessed with strength to grow. One day, inshaAllah (God willing), you will be even bigger and stronger. Even though you will be big and strong, always remember to stop to notice small plants like this one. Stop to notice the big ones too. Plants are beautiful in their own special ways, just like people are. You are special to me, and I can’t wait to stop an notice the plants with you.

Allah · Death · God · Hope · Islam · Life · Love · Travel

The Most Outstanding Year of My Entire Life

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A new year is upon us, and everyone is talking about their experiences throughout 2015. I figured I might as well do the same because, for me, this year was by far THE most outstanding year of my entire life.

I will start from the beginning. At the end of 2014, in December, my Husband and I took a chance in our lives. We finished the semester of school, quit our jobs, and left the Country. We traveled for nearly three months and let me tell ya, it felt SO good! I will be forever grateful that Allah blessed us with the opportunity of a lifetime to travel for so long at once and to so many places.

We started out in London then went to Birmingham, took a train to visit friends in Burton on Trent for a day, took a bus to Norwich (my FAVORITE in England) for two days, returned to Birmingham for about a week, then flew to Spain (my FAVORITE in the world, from what I have seen so far) where we stayed in the north for a week, took a 9 hour bus south to Granada where we stayed for about a week, returned to a village in the north called Murillo for three weeks, flew to Italy spending a week there, then flew back to our original destination Birmingham, took a bus for a day to Manchester, another day trip to London, then back to Birmingham for the rest of our visit.

We returned home feeling refreshed. I am so thankful that I kept a journal while we were out and about, because I learned an incredible amount about life, myself, and my Husband/our relationship. It was such an amazing experience. The places were beautiful in their own ways, and one of my favorite parts are the beautiful people that we were blessed to spend time with. This new year, I plan to begin a post series about my traveling experiences and the people that we spent time with so please do keep an eye open for that!

Gratefully, our traveling didn’t end there! In June, we visited Thailand which is where my Husband’s Father is from. It was another amazing experience, one I didn’t ever expect. I remember being very nervous about the food there, to the point that I nearly refused going on the trip. I was terrified of what I would have to taste. Little did I know, Thai food is probably THE BEST food ever! I enjoyed it so much, and miss it very often.

Before this trip came around, the most horrifying thing happened to our family. This was by far, the most traumatizing thing about 2015. In April, my Brother In-Law went to an apartment complex to deliver pizza and was murdered. Nothing could have prepared us for that type of news, eight months later it still hurts. Although this was such a heart breaking event in our lives, it turned out to be a reality check. It taught me so very much about my life, and it was a moment for me to realize that without my faith in Allah I would be a complete mess. I would be forever ruined, and I would have lost myself. I would have fallen entirely hopeless in life.

Here I will take a moment to admire death. It will happen to all of us, and that must be something we take seriously. It can happen anytime and in so many different ways. Before the murder, I dealt with the reality of death after a co-worker committed suicide. This was a different type of death that I never dealt with before. It created so many questions in my mind and so many different feelings that I didn’t know how to deal with. I was sad, and angry. I admired the person so much, and still respect them till today. With so many questions unanswered, I just try my best to remember their smile and keep hopeful.

Hope. That is one of the biggest lessons that I learned this year. After my Brother In-Law passed away, I realized what hope really is about. Never before did I pay hopefulness any respect or even realize how important it is. This topic is a whole post itself, so I will save it for another day. The point is, hope is so important in times of difficulty and in times of ease. The death helped me learn about hopefulness in times of difficulty, and soon after I learned about hopefulness in times of ease.

Growing up, just like most girls, my dream was to get married to a handsome man who would treat me like a princess. When I turned 18 my dream came true, all thanks due to God! Shortly after that, I realized that my dream didn’t end there. My dream was actually much more extensive than I thought. I wanted to have a baby that would be ours, a child that my Husband and I would be responsible for, one that I could spend my life mothering. Those were the important goals in my life along with the most important thing, being the best worshiper of Allah that I could be.

Here I am, two years after our simple picnic wedding, with the sweetest news. The blessing of a little one growing inside my body. A new sense of hope. I prayed and prayed and depended on the hope that I placed in Allah. Now, I thank Him. He is truly the only reason why something so amazing could happen.

“Recite in the name of your Lord who created. Created man from a clinging substance.”

-Quran: Surah Al Alaq, 96:1-2

That is about it! Here I am, at the end of 2015. Happy to be alive, and happy to have learned all that I learned this year. Alhamdulilah (praise be to God)! I look forward to 2016, and pray that we are blessed with many more meaningful years to come; amin!

Allah · Education · Islam

GUEST POST: Balancing Islam and College Life

I’ve been so blessed with a beautiful cousin who is amazing at writing. This is a post by her. Enjoy!

Let me start off by saying that the intention for every action we do must be totally for Allah’s sake so if we look at our daily lives from eating, to learning we can get blessings in just performing what we see as typical mundane tasks. There’s duaa’s for sleeping, teaching, eating-(even a specific duaa just for milk-“Oh Allah bless it and give me more of it”) and countless other actions. However; one of the most important actions and what I will be focusing on is learning.

“O my Rabb-(Lord)! Increase me in knowledge.”-(20:114)

Ameen! May Allah always increase us with beneficial knowledge. One way I incorporate Islam with my college life is by Duaa. I swear to God there are miracles in this world. Dreams really do come true and miracles are real. I have seen them with my very own eyes countless times. One duaa I read constantly is the duaa for when something is becoming difficult for you;

“O Allah, there is no ease except that which You make easy. If You please You ease sorrow.

This duaa saved me from failing Math. I swear I got D’s and F’s on every one of my math exams-(except the first exam I got a C) but after reading this duaa, and attending all classes, and finishing all my homework with 100’s I managed to pass the class with a C. Now if I was able to pass Math of all subjects with a C-even though I basically failed all the exams-if that is not a miracle then I don’t know what is!

Also, just this past semester I was getting a D in Earth Science but after reading this duaa and meeting with my professor during his office hours for help every Tuesday and Thursday Alhamdulilah I brought my grade up from a 68% to an 82%.

Alhamdulilah I am blessed with going to a school in which a majority of the population is Muslim. Just this past semester alone, 4 out of my 5 classes Literature, Art, Science, and Sociology had at least one other Muslim in it. I never realized it but there is such a beautiful feeling of support among the Muslim students. One example is when I was at the bus stop sitting alone on the bench when a student passed by and nodding his head-gave me salam. At first I was surprised but then I felt happy because somehow Islam makes you connected to perfect strangers in that a random person can pass you by and wish peace and blessings upon you. Islam truly is a beautiful religion. The connection it draws between people is phenomenal. In my Freshman year I was still new to the NEIU campus and therefore was still figuring my way around the different buildings so I always ended up praying on the lawn behind a tree near the entrance to the campus. So on September 4th, 2014-(only reason how I remember that is because I started a journal of everything I do in College) I had just finished praying Dhur in my usual spot-behind a tree-a small area with a prairie-looking field on one side and flowers on the other when I see someone standing on the sidewalk across from me. . .

“Were you praying?” he asked

“Yup. . .” I said wondering what was wrong

“You know they have a masjid on campus right?” he asked

“No, Really?”

“Yeah, you’re a Freshman right?” he inquired

“Yup” I said

“Yeah me too. I’ll show you the masjid. You can pray there Monday through Friday. You have class on Friday?”

“Yeah I do.”

“Good, I think they even have Juma’a, and there’s dividers so the women can pray in the back.”

“That’s great!” I said.

“What’s your name?”

“Shamsa”

“Oh mine is Muhammad.”

“Where are you from?”

“My mom’s Somalian & my Dad’s American.”

“Where’s your dad originally from?”

“Oh he’s a bunch of things, German, Polish, Irish, and Swedish and my Mom’s half Somalian and half Yemeni. Her dad’s Somalian and her mom’s from Yemen”

“Do you speak a language other than English. Do you speak Somali”

“No, I can understand it, but I can’t talk back.”

“Oh, that’s cool that your parents are different. I’ve never heard of an American marrying a Somalian.”

“Yeah, my dad first converted to Islam then he married my mom.”

“Oh did he convert because of your mom?”

“No, I’m sure he knew about Islam before he met my mother.”

“Oh that’s great mashallah.”

“Yup.”

By this time we were at the Student Union building which apparently had the masjid.

“The masjid is upstairs.” he said

So upstairs we went and sure enough there was a small room hidden in the hallway and when I looked through I saw a man praying and behind him were dividers where I saw the corner of some lady’s hijab where she was making sujud.

“This is great!” I said. “I’ll definitely be coming here to pray from now on. In fact I was starting to get worried about where I’d pray during winter time!”

Literally, when I was praying I thought,

Uh Oh! What about when there’s snow on the ground? Where will I pray then?

And Subhanallah! Allah answered my question right after that thought crossed my mind!

“But I’ll definitely be coming here to pray inshallah. Thanks!” I said walking away.

“You’re welcome!” he responded.

And I swear from that day forward I have been praying in that prayer room ever since. Can you IMAGINE how many blessings Muhammad is getting for every prayer I pray in that room just because of the fact that he showed me the meditation room? That is the beauty of Islam-you can earn abundant rewards for the tiniest of actions.

So I manage to balance Islam with college life by taking the time out of my day to pray in the prayer room. Also, since I had classes on Friday of Freshman year I managed to attend Jummah salah as well. I never felt so spiritually connected to Allah and my fellow Muslim brothers and sisters than sitting in Jummah at 2pm every Friday listening to the Khutbah-(Lecture). The Imaam Mashallah was a Hafiz-he memorized the entire Quran and he would give the lecture and lead the prayer afterwards. I attended my very first Jummah at Northeastern on the 26th of September 2014 at 2:00pm. Some important notes I took from that lecture were;

-Muslims have a dynamic relationship with Allah

-It is a blessing to take the time out of our day to be closer to Allah and set aside time in worship and remembrance of Allah

-All Muslims gather together to fast and pray all at once. What other religion on the earth does that? Islam is a religion of unity-Allah says in the quran ,

“And I have not created Jinn nor mankind except to worship me.”

I love how Allah has blessed me with the ability to incorporate Islamic practices into my daily routine. I know some Muslim students are not as fortunate as I am. It really does just fill me with peace whenever I enter the prayer-room or MSA Meeting, to be surrounded by Muslims really boosts the imaan.

Alhamdulilah attending the MSA Meetings and Sister’s Halaqas have been a tremendous spiritual spark for the soul. The MSA used to meet every other Thursday of the month Freshman year but this past semester-(1st semester of Sophomore year) we’ve had 2 meetings so far, the last being an end of the semester MSA Fall Fest Potluck. As for the Sister’s Halaqa’s we met up every other Tuesday at 3pm-Activity Hour on Campus. Both the sister’s halaqas and MSA meetings were blessed with beneficial Islamic knowledge and we talked about how to manage balancing out Islam with the hectic life of college. Muhammad-(the same person who showed me to the prayer-room turned out to be the MSA Vice President) always brought up a hadeeth that went in line with the topic of that particular day. For the first MSA Meeting on October 13th from 3:30pm-4:10pm the Hadeeth was;

The Messenger said

“Be in this world as though you are a stranger or a wayfarer.”

Meaning-True success is something that is continuous. For example; if you teach a kid a surah, then every time they read it you get hasanat.

The last thing on my list of how I keep productive with Islam while I am in college is that  every Friday I read the translation of Surah Khaf while I listen to it being recited alhamdulilah. This helps with understanding the Surah like you would not believe. Allah loves the actions that are frequent and continuous even if they are small. To him, the fact that you focus always focus on at least one Islamic action every day is what’s important. The benefit of reading Surah Khaf on Friday is that Allah will send a light from one Friday to the next. And Allah knows how much I am in need of a bright shining light in my life. Especially in this dark and dangerous world.

O my Rabb (Cherisher and Sustainer)! Bestow wisdom on me, and join me with the righteous; grant me honorable mention on the tongue of truth among the latest (generations); make me one of the inheritors of the Garden of Bliss.” -(26:83-84).

BIOGRAPHY:

My name is Shamsa Islam and I live in Chicago Illinois. I am 21 years old, a Sophomore at Northeastern Illinois University and am majoring in English and minoring in Psychology.

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