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.

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Education · Life · Simple · SocialMedia · Technology

Intellect.

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I write this post with great concern. Literally, my eyebrows are in distress. I probably should hope it doesn’t cause any wrinkles, but wrinkles should be the last thing on my mind. What is on my mind, is intelligence. I must begin by explaining that I mean no offence to anyone in writing this, however I do feel it is something so necessary to  be aware of.

A couple of weeks ago, my brother asked me if I had heard of a viral video that has been going around titled “Damn, Daniel.” I hadn’t heard of it, so he began explaining what the video was about. There are so many silly videos that go viral, but this one actually made me feel worried about the well-being of my fellow human beings. If you haven’t seen the video and would like to understand where my opinion is coming from, here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LUX70mXcEE

I know that the goal of many young people is to become famous. I also know that young people do silly things that can become hilarious inside jokes. So, I have nothing negative to say about Daniel and his friend. However, what I wonder is “are the people who have found this video entertaining, okay?” Even in the link above, you will see that both boys shake their head in shock of how many people (millions) actually found their video entertaining. They themselves are surprised that their silly inside joke became a hit.

Why is it that such a silly thing can actually entertain the attention of so many people? What is happening to the quality of our mental clarity? I have two ideas that combine into my theory, to answer my questions:

1: Our school system! Yep, our 12 years of schooling is my first theory. You might think I’m loco but there is a book titled “Educating Your Child in Modern Times” that completely backs me up. Here is a simplified explanation: children grow up going to school 5 days a week for 12 years of their lives. In school, they sit in classrooms filled with other children their exact same age. Besides the “education” they are receiving, they are also receiving “social skills” from their fellow classmates. Now, if you are mostly surrounded by people who are your same age, for this majority of time, it is difficult to ever gain maturity skills. This leaves children with childlike and childish mentalities. These children grow into adults, and find themselves with difficulties in adulthood, because they simply have not matured. This creates a problem within the self. The non-matured individual is easily controlled by society which is a problem on a whole new level. If they are easily controlled, they can be easily informed lies by the media, they can be easily encouraged to consume at extremely high rates while never being satisfied, AND (here is the relevant part) they are easy to entertain.

2: We have literally detached from our own selves, to the point that we cannot be left alone with our selves which leads us to being in constant need of entertainment. For some, it may be that they are on a constant “go, go, go” and simply do not know how to relax. For others, they intentionally keep themselves busy so that they do not have to face their racing thoughts. Constant thoughts that we do not know how to control. An actual addiction, to our own thoughts. No peace, no clarity, no reflection.

Some might think “why did she write this post, why should anyone care?” but if you truly think about it, you’ll realize the downward slope… What are your thoughts? Opinions?

Education · Life · Simple · SocialMedia · Technology · Voice

The Sleeping Beauty

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I should start this honestly by saying that I, like many others, adore having a mobile phone. The sleek elegant look of my shiny iPhone and all of the entertaining apps that it carries. This phone, is one of my greatest worries. A device that I turn to for communication, education, and inspiration. A device that I give more attention to than most other things. While I am often distracted by it, I sometimes grasp a chance to wonder what it would be like if I didn’t have it.

I assume that if I didn’t have my phone, I would be much more independent. I would know exactly how to use a map with confidence. I would be less involved with social media, meaning that I would be more involved with the people directly around me. I would get a feeling of peace from real, alive, nature rather than artificial “peace” from photos of nature. I would get inspiration from endless hours at the library with my nose in books rather than from the apps on my screen.

Out of all of these things that come to mind, one of the most alarming questions that I ask myself is “who are we becoming because of our technology?” The answer that I come up with is “Sleeping beauties.” 

“Sleeping” because of how involved we are in connecting with people online, while we are literally disconnected from the reality around us. “Beauties” because we always make sure to look glamorous. Glam that is not for ourselves or for the people around us but for the fact that there is always a chance we will need to take a selfie, and of course we MUST look glamorous for that.

Of course I want to say that the solution is to completely cut ourselves from modern communication, and go back to how it was done 20 years ago but I have to be real. That probably wont happen. So I place my hope and effort in replacing my phone with life. I have set goals for myself to read books more often than I read information online, and experience nature

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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Education · God · Hope · Love · Voice

The Sunday Paper📰

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Alhamdulilah, all thanks is due to Allah! We have had such a great opportunity to spread the peace that Islam represents in our little town in Wisconsin! Recently, my Dad and I were interviewed by the local news paper for an article concerning how we feel as Muslims towards terrorism and how we feel with all of the “Anti-Islam” hate going around, especially through the media. Here is a link to the article for anyone who may like to read! Also, please keep an eye out for recordings that I will post from our brand new radio show beginning this Saturday inshaAllah!

 

Art · Artist · Education · Simple

Why I’d rather be an Artist than have a degree. 🎨

 

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In front of one of my largest paintings, a door.

 

I’m probably writing this slightly due to the frustration of finals but the story goes back to a few weeks ago when I was driving to school. Looking at the clouds in the sky I found myself wondering why it was that I was on my way to class and not somewhere else I would be enjoying much more. Why am I going to school? The obvious answer is because I am trying to earn a degree. A degree that will take years to accomplish through our school system. Not to mention it will also cost a fortune, add an XL amount of stress to my life, and reduce my availability to live life. I tell myself it will be worth it one day, as many college students do. Because then, I will qualify for a job that cost
ed me a fortune, a job that will add an XL amount of stress to my life and reduce my availability to live life.

What would happen if people went to school because they wanted to be properly trained to help people, or educate people, or to simply gain knowledge? If there was no earning involved -no degree, no large salary- would you still go to school? What would happen to our society, if this were the case? Here is my hypothesis:

People would be more generous, more independent, more easy going due to the massive stress reduction, more hands on, more simple, more hardworking, and they would live a much much much more meaningful life.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt tempted to lie about the “small” degree that I have chosen or the fact that I have chosen to complete a degree from a community college rather than from a University. The temptation to lie to them is there because they could be one of the many individuals who will lecture me for hours on how a community college looks low or how my chosen degree isn’t good enough because it isn’t a Doctor or an Engineer degree. While these are two admiring degrees that are held by amazing people, it is not my interest and I should not be looked down upon for not choosing one of the two.

Society looks down upon those whom are Artists or Writers, simply because they do not get paid as much as a doctor would. I should never be made felt that I am not good enough because of the degree that I chose, and neither should anyone else. Artists and Writers are just as amazing as Doctors and Engineers. The only difference is, who is happier? Here is my experience:

I was always told that being an artist would not pay the bills and that always seemed true, until I traveled to Spain and witnessed those whom paid their bills and lived off of the living that they earned from their paintings. This was so shocking to me, yet so beautiful. And here is the beautiful part; each of these people lived in homes that were just big enough for their simple needs. These homes were two of the most gorgeous homes that I have ever seen mostly because each aspect of the home was meaningful. They lived in these homes with their loved ones and raised their children in the same environment… At that point, I asked myself “could it be that all along, artists could live off their income as long as they lived simply and other people just understood it as if they were poor?”

Now, please understand that I am not being irresponsible. I understand that living a simple lifestyle can be
extremely challenging, and that living off of a higher earning can make life much easier. But I also understand that a high salary involves long days away from your family and away from life in general. Then, when you get paid your big wage you find yourself with no time to enjoy the money that you have worked so hard for. It’s just a endless circle in the treadmill of consumption which results in a unhappy life.

Recently I have began selling things that I sew or crochet, and paintings that I paint. Let me tell you, the feeling is outstanding! When I sold my first painting, I made sure to set the $20 aside for something special. I waited, remembering the hard work that the $20 came from. I ended up using the money to buy yarn to make a blanket for someone that I love. Forever when I see that blanket, I can know exactly where it came from and the hard work that it took to produce it. This gave me a sense of thankfulness that I haven’t found elsewhere. Seeing my hard work pay off while being independent and doing what I love, it made me grateful and gave me such a huge amount of appreciation for those who are self employed. I wish more people tried this, even just as an experiment. Maybe then, we can begin to learn the reality of life and what it has to offer us.

And, all of that, is why I’d rather be an Artist than earn a degree.