30

Long time no post.  The trial that I’ve been working on for 2 years and that has been consuming my life for the last few months has finally begun.  I’ll probably be going down to Chicago next week to assist.

Today I turn 30 and I’m having a third of a life crisis (inshAllah I can hope that Allah [swt] grants me 60 more years).  We celebrated my Grandma’s 90th birthday this last weekend.  I was a late birthday present for her – 1 day after her 60th, I came into this world.

More than a hundred people came by to wish her well.  I can only pray that in 60 years, I am still happy and healthy, and that I have so many people that love me.  And, I hope that I am still worshiping Allah [swt] and striving to follow the path He gave our beloved Messenger [saws].

My third of a life crisis is many fold.  I’ve been a muslim for more than a decade – nearly my entire adult life.  And yet, I’m stunted in my spiritual growth.  I need to stop and rework my plans deen wise.

I need to get back on track with healthy eating.  I started some new medication that I think is causing me to gain weight.  And I’m not eating nearly as well as I have in the past.  That happens when you work 80 hours a week.

I need to exercise.  I haven’t been to the gym in 2 months.  I want to start running again, and run a marathon before I turn 40.

Once I lose weight, inshaAllah, I want to start to dress “nicer.”  These days, I look like a dumpy, chubby shlub who wears hijab.  Not the best dawah.

I want to become a socializer at my cat shelter, to help timid and feral cats become kitties that anyone would love to take home.

I want to spend more time with my cat.  Squeaky is desperately lonely without me.  And I miss her terribly.  This picture is from last Friday, when we finally had some time together outside.  Even when I get home at midnight, she still runs to the front door, thinking we’ll be going outside.  I hate to disappoint her.

I want to learn how to thread my sewing machine.  And sew sew sew so I can make costumes.

I want to develop patience to make more complex cross stitch.  I stitched my brother a Firefly piece for his birthday, and he really liked it.  Picture forthcoming inshaAllah.

I want to become a better cook.  I love to cook, and again, haven’t had any time to do that in recent months.

I want to spend time outdoors.  I used to camp and backpack.  I want to do that again.  Nature is a huge sign of Allah [swt], and I want to be there to see it all.  See that picture?  It makes me say subhanAllah!

Yes, there is a lot that I want in my life.  Oh Allah [swt], give me the life, the energy, the strength and the time to accomplish what is best in my life.  Ameen.

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blah de blah blah blah

I’ve been saying for years that I’m going to lose weight, I’m going to get healthy.  It’s all been blah blah blah, in one ear, out the other.

So here we go again, joined the gym, eating healthy (based on Mark Bittman’s Food Matters, which is awesome and will get it’s own post soon inshaAllah.  I packed my own healthy breakfast AND lunch today, huzzah!), keeping the wallet at home so I’m not tempted to eat out and inshaAllah I WILL lose weight and get healthy.

And of course, I need a motivator.  When I reach my 2010 target weight (25 lbs down, plus another 25 lbs off in 2011 inshaAllah), I’ll get one of these beauties:

new (hijri) year resolutions

1.  Smack my nafs down and get serious about those building blocks I talked about months ago.  No excuse not to pray on time or read Qur’an every day.  It was good while it lasted, so why can’t I keep it up?  And I’ve been making this resolution for years.  Argh.

2.  Smack my nafs down and reduce TV watching.  Here’s what I’m allowing myself to watch – Heroes, Chuck, House, Bones, Fringe, Dollhouse, Leverage, Stargate Universe and the Closer.  Holy crud, when I write it all out like that, that’s a lotta tv.  But I (my nafs) love it all :(  Maybe for every hour of tv, I have to spend an hour for Allah (swt)?  Ah, but that’s 9 hours.  Yeah, but you spend 9 hours on tv, can’t you find 9 hours for Allah (swt)?   *sigh*  Maybe if I say I can’t just watch tv, I have to do something else, either exercise or cook or whatnot, so I’m not just sitting on my behind?  Argh, why is television so so good, yet so so bad?

3.  Go almost vegetarian.  Meat once a week.  I think I’m down to like 3 times a week, so inshaAllah this shouldn’t be too hard.  What will be hard is not just replacing meat with carbs.  I *heart* noodles and rice (especially with the wickedly awesome peanut sauce I just made, which can be made vegetarian with 2 T of soy sauce and no fish sauce), and it would be so easy to just fill up on that.  inshaAllah more fruits and veggies, less meat.

Ok, I think that’s just about all I can handle.  Small steps, baby steps and lots of tawakul inshaAllah.

traveling

On the authority of Ibn ‘Umar (ra), who said: The Messenger of Allah (saws)took me by the shoulder and said:

“Be in this world as though you were a stranger or a traveler.”
[Al-Bukhari]

What does this mean to me? That this dunya is not our ultimate destination. A traveler does not make himself at home for too long at any one place along his journey. A stranger is always strange to his surroundings. If he becomes too familiar with them, he is no longer a stranger.

We are not to become too friendly with this dunya.  Doing so will distract us from our ultimate destination – Allah (swt) and Jannah, inshaAllah.

So what is my goal in this life?  To make the people around me happy?  Not if it is at the expense of my deen.  That’s my ticket to my ticket to my final destination, thank you very much.  Certainly, we are kind to those around us, but if they want us to shed aspects of our religion that displease them, be it clothing, jihad, daily prayer, eating zabiha, we can do without them.

They would love to see you deny the truth even as they have denied it, so that you should be like them. (4:89)

Allah (swt) tells us that they will never be happy with us until we are like them. So if we give up a piece of the deen here, a piece of the deen here to appease them, eventually we’ll have nothing left.

Islam is our path and reaching Allah (swt) is our goal. Is every action you take for Allah (swt)? If your actions aren’t helping you along that path, then why are you doing them?

dhikr while you work

to the tune of whiste while you work from Snow White:

Just dhikr while you work (la il-la-ha il Al-Lah*)
Put on that grin and start right in
to dhikr loud and long
Just move your tongue and lips (la il-la-ha il Al-Lah)
Just do your best and take a rest
and praise Allah right now.

*the whistle that went here in the original has 7 consonants.  La ilaha il Allah has 7 consonants.  Kapeesh?

Ah yes, corny, corny, I hear the groans.  But here me out.  My La TV campaign has lost it’s umph.  I try to focus on doing something else, but I get bored easily, and inevitably end up plopped on the couch in front of the tube.

So I need new things to occupy myself with:

  1. Taking courses at Sunnipath.  Just got off the phone with the husband, and he’s actually encouraging me to take Ramadan and You course that starts this weekend.  Alhamdulilah.  Usually, I’ll mention I want to take a course, he looks at it and says it costs too much.  Alhamdulilah, this time he actually realizes how good it will be for me and that it’s worth the $$.  inshaAllah I’ll sign up when I get home tonight

  2. Ok, this actually explains the post title and corny song, dhikr while you work.  The goal is constant dhikr in all (ok most) actions. 

Salman Farsee (ra) said, “If a person remembers Allah in times of peace, pleasure and prosperity, then whenever he is in trouble and difficulty, the angels, being familiar with his voice, recognize him in his helplessness and intercede before Almighty Allah (for his forgiveness); but, if one who does not remember Allah in his time of pleasure and happens to pray for help at the time of difficulty, the angels find his voice to be quite unfamiliar and therefore do not intercede for him.” (source)

To further that goal, I’ve taken up cross stitching.  Um, yeah, and that relates to dhikr how?  See, when one is stitching, each stitch is the perfect opportunity for a praise of Allah (swt).  If you’re doing a project that uses 2000 stitches, there are 2000 opportunities to praise Allah (swt).  Instead of counting your dhikr on beads, you’re counting them in your stitches.  And, when you’re done with the project, it will be full of barakah. 

Since I haven’t stitched since I was a child, I’m currently working on an uber easy Allah pattern in kufic.  I’m about a third of the way done, and when I finish, I’ll post a picture inshaAllah.

I figure that during Ramadan, I can lay out a schedule.  Come home, read Qur’an for x minutes, listen to a lecture for x minutes, then stitch and make dhikr until iftar.  After dinner, read an islamic book with the husband, then force him to read to me to practice his english.  Chock full of time for Allah (swt).  No time for tv.   inshaAllah.

Spiritual Goals

I got some medical test results back and it looks like my cholesterol has crept up into the not so hot range, which in my family means heart attacks and whatnot. So, I’m making a chart of health goals to get started on before my doctor’s appointment next month, like daily walks, going to the gym 3 times a week, fish twice a week and recording my vegetable intake each day.

That got me thinking. I’m worrying about my physical health, but what about my spiritual health? I mean, it’s great to take care of my body in the dunya, but what have I done for myself in the akhira? Why not make a chart to track religiously oriented goals?

So, here are the things for my spiritual health chart:

Salat – 5 times a day, inshaAllah add some sunnah once I have everything set with my fard.
Dhikr – write in whatever I do that day. I don’t really have a problem with avoiding dhikr. I love it.
Listening to Qur’an – I subscribe to a spiffy Qur’an weekly podcast that has the Qur’an recitation in arabic followed by a decent reading in english. I try to listen to some each day on the bus ride to and from work, so why not track it?
Reading Qur’an – I’ve been reading through the 30th Juz of the Qur’an, reciting the arabic as well as I can, followed by the english and then reflecting on Muhammad Asad’s commentary. I think however, I’m going to start from the beginning, and read a few pages each day inshaAllah.

There are a ton of variations on this – one could track the components of salat, to check that they’re doing everything correctly, follow their sunnah fasting, or they could track a Qur’an memorization goal. I think for the moment though, I’ll stick with these 4 things, things I already do, but would like to create a habit for and do more.

One of the things I hope to accomplish to to actually see and realize how well (or not) I am doing in deen-y oriented things I’ve been saying I will do. I know I read some Qur’an, I know I listen to some on the bus, I know I pray, but how much do I miss? If it’s there, on a chart, on the front door to the house, I have to face my shortcomings several times a day. inshaAllah then I can improve.

inshaAllah I’ll keep this up, and hopefully post updates on how I’m progressing.