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2018 – My Little Bit

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Two weeks into 2018 already, yet I still keep coming across posts and images of how to make your 2018 better. “Fresh start”, most of them say. While browsing through such posts, I asked myself my plans for this year, “Do I want to make huge intricate plans for the whole year? Or shall I just let it be this time? Or I can do the usual and keep on planning quarterly?”

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While deep in thought, my mind went back to Youth Club’s annual meeting and the advice given to us, “be that person whose motto in life is chalo koi gal nai*”, based on the hadith of the Prophet Muhammad SAW: “Shall I not inform you of whom the Fire is unlawful and he is unlawful for the Fire? Every person who is near (to people), amicable, and easy (to deal with).'” [Jami-at-Tirmidhi, Book 37, Hadith 2676, Grade: Hasan] And that’s when I decided, if nothing else, I’ll try my best to be that person this year inshaAllah. 

I know it’s not as easy as it sounds but I also know the need of such people in our world is great. Allah SWT knew it’s not a small thing therefore He kept the reward so great, imagine being forbidden on that Big Fire! Isn’t it motivation enough?

It happens numerous times a day that during your dealings with others, you want to tell them off. Or even if you’re not in a position to do that, then at least show it by your expressions. The servants would annoy you by one thing or the another, the kids will make you angry, your parents will frustrate you, the colleagues will do it all wrong, the boss will scold you for no reason, your in-laws will be unhappy with you, the shopkeeper will give you the wrong product, the kid next door will break your favourite vase, your relatives will try to interfere in your life and your neighbour will throw the trash in front of your door. If you can live through all of that and not heat up at every instance mentioned, then that is indeed an achievement.

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It’s hard but not impossible when you keep the reward in mind (paste it on your bedroom cupboard, perhaps). There is already a lot of hate in this world, a lot of grief and depression. If you and I try to be that little agent of change, only by changing ourselves, only by being a bit more approachable and easy-going for the people around us, imagine the amount of love and peace we’d be able to spread through that. Think of that person in your life who you can go to with anything on your mind knowing they won’t blow up, that they’d be there, imagine if there were more of such people, this sad world would become a little happier. And if I can help spark that in 2018, then I will not consider my year wasted!

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*Meaning: it’s okay

 

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Chapter 11: The Waning Dusk (series)

You

Myth: People will think I’ve gone bananas

(Yes, they will think that but they’ve got others on the radar to label bananas too. So, you’ll soon be last season.)

Someone asked me some time ago: “What’s the best thing that ever happened to you?”

And I told them: “The one-year gap I took from my studies.”


 

To me, it felt like being chucked out of one convent into the other.

I joined extensive Quran classes in the summer of 2009 because I had nothing else better to do than to wait for my medical college aptitude test results. And as I surveyed the hall, I could see spoilt brats like myself all around. No, I wasn’t dragged here– I had only decided to do something different that summer. And since it was a one-year Quran course, I had all the intentions of leaving right after I get accepted to one of the many universities I had applied to.

I don’t know why I felt the compulsion to compare it with my convent school. Maybe because it was run by women and they had an aura of dignity around them. But this one taught me more in a year than those 5 years of schooling.

Long story short– I got my acceptance letter. And so did many of my friends in this new place and I saw them dropping out one by one to pursue their higher education. I was in a serious dilemma. From my first day, after the tafsir of the first verse of Al-Fatihah, I knew this course wouldn’t be as easy to leave as I had thought it would be. You can’t just turn your back on the Quran and expect a world of goodness waiting for you out there. It’s a lose-lose situation to deliberately wrench yourself out of the Mercy of Allah (His Book) after being in it.

I had already made up my mind. But I consulted people anyway just to gauge the general reaction and to brace myself for it when I dropped the bomb. It’s funny how people love to steer the way you should live and the choices you should make. And it’s unfortunate that we let them.

What really helped me make my biggest career decision was this verse:

Say, “With the grace of Allah and with His mercy (this book has been revealed). So they should rejoice in it. It is much better than that which they accumulate.” (10:58)

(I’ll try not to complain again how literal translation doesn’t sound as dramatic.)

If Allah says the Quran is better than whatever it is that you are after, then it IS better. Period. And rejoiced in it- I did. Now, I’m one year short of being an engineer from one of the top universities (of which I take no credit for). Cherry on top- people who were critical earlier came to respect the decision and some of them are enrolled in the same course, and they can’t agree enough that they should have done it earlier.

So, if you have Ramadan resolutions (or any others) that you would like to live on, but are afraid of the skepticism, take that leap of faith anyway. Life’s too short to think what people would think.

Light of Dawn

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This piece of poetry was written on the theme of SIST ’14: Revive the light within; let the change begin

I gaze at the moonless sky, covered with black clouds
The darkness piercing my eyes, I close them with a frown
I hear the cry of jackals, oh what an eerie sound!
Rest is as still as death, I sit there as if spellbound

Staring at the shadows of trees, hopelessness grips me
Innocent eyes brimming with tears, in my memory, I can see
Small hands, rough and dirty, plead for just one meal
This is not the story of a single child, it’s of millions in my country

There are those who talk of change yet their walk remains the same
With a fake face, they help society, but their hearts are in plague
The ones who persist in evil, corruption and bad fame
Are no good either from those who play the game without a name

Tired of failing to earn an honest penny is the young man who ends his life
Same goes for the pretty damsel, through whose broken heart pierces the knife
This depression, is it due to a lack of purpose, among the youth, rife?
Is all the education and those degrees really not worth the strife?

Thinking such desolate thoughts, with a heavy head, I fall asleep
Only to be waken by a ray of light, that through the windows peeped
The next day had come and the sun had risen, looking strong and sweet
Despite the darkness every night, resolute to spread the light, through every crack and creep

Sunlight through the trees

Suddenly I felt the hopelessness seeping out of my very soul
It’s true that our situation is bad, but certain things we can control
The sun rises every day, determined to fulfill its role
Nature stares in our face all the time, meant to inspire, so we too set firm goals

After all, darkness and evil prevailed even worse in the Prophet’s times
But in a few years, the picture displayed peace and conquests, with hardly any crimes
It was one man who became the agent of change, with only a few people by his side
Allah’s Word, the Glorious Quran, was what helped them spread the light

So my dear brothers and sisters, pay heed to these signs in nature therein
This Quran has been called An-Nur by the Lord, so it will revive the light within
The depression and frustration will end only if you turn to Him
So understand His Words with an open heart, enlighten yourself and let the change begin!

So you want to join Youth Club?

So you want to join Youth Club?

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Do you have what it takes to be a member of Youth Club?!

Youth Club does not have a Recruitment and Selection Campaign. Neither do we have such posters, like the above one, adorning the walls and newspapers. Yet, our members remain inundated with requests from people who want to join Youth Club, especially after a major event. These requests mostly come from the youth (obviously), but we have also been getting them from grandparents and pre-teen kids.

“How do I become a member?”

“I have filled in the registration form, now what?”

These are some of the typical queries that we usually get.

Here are some pointers and food for thought for the benefit of all those who would like to join the awesome-st organization in town.

1- Why do you want to join? What are your intentions? Is it so that the awesomeness rubs off, or is it the scrumptious, famed YC Biryani? 😉

Remember, YC is primarily a Dawah organisation. As we inspire positive change, we want to do it for the sake of our Creator and we want to remain sincere to Him.

2- What skills can you offer to help inspire positive change?

Think of your strengths and offer them. Are you good at creative writing, photography, graphic designing, cooking, teaching..? Do you have a smashing new idea for YC to implement?

3- Take the initiative. Most of our members are extremely proactive and creative. They have initiated some kind of productive activity in their own area or at their workplace or their educational institute. Look around you. How can you inspire positive change in your sphere of influence? Don’t sit around and wait for things to happen.

One simple example would be to form a buddy group which meets up once a week, perhaps at a Masjid or at somebody’s house. Watch and discuss a thought-provoking video or go through an inspiring book together.

4- Attend all the YC events. We have either monthly or bi-monthly events. Volunteer for them! Meet our members. Stay in touch.

5- Attend the weekly halaqahs taking place for sisters and brothers in different areas, whether they be at a university near you or at a particular venue. Make inquiries if you don’t know about them yet!

6- Harness the power of social media. Most of our marketing as well as a lot of Dawah work is done online. So you could be an avid sharer or a video expert. Use the various mediums to let people know about YC, and share in the reward.

7- Keep in touch with the current members. Brothers and sisters of YC are always busy with some project or the other. So come up to them and ask if you could help them with something. Don’t be shy! Our team is known to be friendly and courteous 🙂

8- Commitment and hard work– you must have these qualities engrained in you. The YC work is as tough as it is fun. The hard work remains hidden behind the scenes, while the glamour appears onstage! Our current members have families, some study full-time, others work full-time; they have all the burdens of a normal life. Yet when it comes to YC, they remain devoted and passionate, never putting the excuses of dunya before working for a noble cause, Alhamdolilllah!

The above include some of the ways how the current members got involved with YC. They didn’t send in resumes and appear for formal interviews!

Our primary purpose at Youth Club is to create and inspire dynamic and well-rounded personalities, who inspire positive change wherever they are. We wish to be Dawah-carriers and devout worshippers of our Supreme Creator. We organise events, share articles/videos/ thought provoking statuses and activities solely for the pleasure of our Lord. So even if you don’t become actual members, just become amazing, awesome, super-cool Muslims!

P.S. We also have a lot of stuff in the pipeline, lots of surprises to spring at you. So stay tuned and make Dua for us! 🙂
P.P.S. Let us know in the Comments if you found the pointers beneficial.

Exclusive Interview with ex-actress Sarah Chaudhry

Exclusive Interview with ex-actress Sarah Chaudhry

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Sara Chaudhry, the ex-model and actress who studied Islam and said goodbye to her showbiz career, discusses with us the challenges she faced in her journey, and how her life has changed for the better.  These days, she conducts workshops on Islam and continues to inspire many.

YC Blog: What was the reaction of your family and friends when you left showbiz and when you started Hijab? How did you handle it?

Sara Chaudhry: It came as a surprise for them to see this sudden change in me.  They had lots of confusions and questions.  But when a person is firm and confident about his/her decision, Allah helps him/her to answer all the ifs and buts.  With Allah’s help, it was, and still is, easy for me to face all their questions and objections calmly and reply to them.

As Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala says in Surah al-Maidah, verse no 54:

“O you who believe! Whoever from among you turns back from his religion, Allah will bring a people whom He will love and they will love Him; humble towards the believers, stern towards the disbelievers, fighting in the Way of Allah, and never afraid of the blame of the blamers.  That is the Grace of Allah which He bestows on whom He wills.  And Allah is All-Sufficient for His creatures’ needs, All-Knower.”

YCB: What role does the Quran have in your everyday life?

SC: The Quran and Hadith are a complete manual on how to live your life peacefully.

I was a very emotional and sensitive person when the Quran was not a part of my life.  My decisions used to be based on what people would think; but now I have a simple formula: I just check if a particular act will benefit me in the Hereafter or not, and I make a firm decision accordingly.  Alhamdolillah, it works out perfectly.

Even in early days of my marriage i was a totally different wife, but now Alhamdolillah I have a better relationship with my husband and I understand him more.  I am stronger and I see things in a totally different perspective.  Now, I understand my true values and responsibilities as a Muslim woman.

 YCB: Has the Hijab, and particularly the Niqab, restricted your activities in any way? Do you find it a burden?

SC: (Laughing) Ahhhh, this is a very common thinking of those who don’t observe the Niqab: “Poor girl, I wonder how she survives inside!” Trust me, I feel much more comfortable and confident with the Niqab than without it.  On top of that, when I have to go out shopping or anywhere else, I don’t need to worry: “Does my dress look old fashioned?  Does this colour suit me etc etc”

I know that I have covered myself for my Allah, and In sha Allah He will reward me for it.

Besides, I obviously don’t observe Niqab in female gatherings.  In such gatherings, we do dress up well and enjoy ourselves while staying within the limits Alhamdolillah.

YCB: Has your life become dull and boring since you started practicing Islam properly?

SC: (Laughing) Dull and boring?  What’s that?  I’ve never experienced it.  Alhamdolillah, I am leading a busy and productive life.  There’s so much of work to do that I literally feel as excited as a child when I get a holiday.  Nowadays, my baby son keeps me busy most of the time.

YCB: What do you do to chill out and entertain yourself?

SC: I like to try out new and unique recipes.

YCB: Do you watch dramas?

SC: Is there anything worth watching in dramas?  Seriously, you tell me.  I don’t watch dramas because it’s a pure wastage of time, and a believer’s time is too precious to be wasted in useless stuff.

YCB: Are you in contact with your showbiz friends, or have you changed your company?

SC: I am still in contact with a few of them.  But of course with time, I’ve gotten busy with my life, and they are busy with their lives, so we don’t get to meet each other often.

But they are all always in my duas.  May Allah guide them all.  Aameen.

YCB: How supportive is your husband?

SC: Alhamdolillah, whatever I am today is because of Allah’s Mercy, and after that because of my husband’s support.  If he wouldn’t have supported me and stood by me in my decision, I might not have reached here today.

He is not just my husband.  He is also my teacher and my friend.  He always guides me and advises me in matters my worldly as well as religious matters.

YCB: Tell us about your baby son.

SC: Alhamdolillah, Allah blessed me with a baby son three years after my marriage.  At times, I think how perfectly Allah plans things, because if I would have become a mother in the initial years of my marriage, I might have been a confused mother, not knowing how to bring up my child.  But now that I know the purpose of life through Quran and Sunnah, I have a clear vision.  During my pregnancy, I have been listening to the Quran, staying busy in Dawah work and studying Hadith.  Even now, I spend a lot of time with my son, and make him listen to Quranic recitation.  I know why my child has come in this world.  I know he is an Amanah (trust) from Allah to me and that I have to make him grow up and spend his life the way Allah wants in sha Allah.  It is my dream that my son grows up to become a scholar and a Sadqa Jariyah for me.  May Allah help me and ease this matter for me.  Aameen.

 YCB: What is your advice to youth who want to join showbiz? Is it really an enjoyable and glamorous career choice?

SC: I find it funny at times how the media people themselves make such movies and dramas which depict the real truth of the showbiz world, yet some naïve people just don’t get it.

Yes, it seems an easy route to money and fame, but that’s just one side of the coin.  All the politics, hard work, health issues, mental torture and insecurities of this world never let you enjoy peace.  Plus, many people who enter showbiz don’t end up as success stories.

It is just a fake world; nothing is real in it.  At times, you might be really sad or anxious, someone close might have died, but you have to act and fulfill the demands of your role.  When you keep on acting against your nature, it kind of kills you inside.  The glamour of this world is a Satanic deception.  It looks good on screen, but it is ugly in reality.  Try living your life the way Allah wants you to live it.  That is surely the safe route for us in this life and the next.

YCB: What is your advice to youth who want to change something in their lives but feel reluctant and afraid of social pressures and family opposition?

SC: Don’t live for others; live for yourself.  You are a great asset of this Ummah.  You need to lead the others by your example.  Keep away from forbidden matters and become a Sadqah Jariyah for your parents.

YCB: What are your plans for the future?

SC: On top of the list is to take care of my family and look after their needs and be there for them when they need me.  Then, to study the Deen as much as possible and do Dawah work and strive for a bright and prosperous hereafter In sha Allah.

 YCB: Thankyou for your time.  May Allah keep you steadfast and fulfill your dreams.

Does Sara Chaudhry’s U-turn inspire you?  Would you like to see more interviews and real-life stories featured on the blog?  Let us know in the comments below.

Miracles Happen!

Miracles Happen!


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Being close to nature can have a very soothing effect on you.  What could be better than going out in the beautiful fields to ponder over the mysteries of our life!  As I stood there surrounded by the beauty of His Creation, I could only wonder how Beautiful He, Himself, would be.  I grabbed the opportunity to tune in to to the echoes of my heart.  His words reverberated in my soul.  I stood there pondering over the events of my life.

Perhaps, you can never really appreciate the All Knowing, the All Wise without facing the trials and hardships in your life.  And when the dawn finally embraces you, you let the tears trickle down your cheeks in awe, gratitude and complete submission, begging for His forgiveness, realizing how ungrateful and impatient you had been before.

Sometimes, our lives seem to be unjust towards us.  Our destinies appear to be unfairly penned.  Every creature that once seemed loving becomes loathsome.  The unresolved questions leave us lost within a labyrinth, entwined within the intricate web of our lives.  In this tough battle of life, most of us begin to distance ourselves from the Creator.  It is then that we lose hope.  The human brain is an amazingly sophisticated creation of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala.  Sometimes, all this brain needs to do is to stop!  Yes, there are times when we desperately need to give a halt to the whirlwind of miserable thoughts.  We need to take the time to instead analyze and question ourselves.

Is it really that our lives are being unjust towards us or is it that our perspective of looking at this beautiful life is skewed?  Are we acting wisely as “masters”, or are we acting as mere “victims” of the current circumstances in our lives?

Let us unleash our memories and get a bit nostalgic.  Remember all those moments when you called out to Him, and He responded?  Honestly, I have multitude of such incidents: asking Him to unbolt a jammed door, seeking His aid just to open a jar, asking Him for the translated copy of the Noble Qur’an, begging Him to postpone a silly test for which I hadn’t prepared.  These everyday incidents that we tend to dismiss and forget are too many to list.  But, SubhanAllah! He did respond every single time.  The door swung up – unbolted, the jammed cap of the jar loosened, the translated word of Allah, that I couldn’t purchase myself was received as a gift, and that test was not only postponed but cancelled!  The miracles happened!  Yes, the miracles happen!

Allah says in the Qur’an,

“And whosoever is conscious of Allah, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty). And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine. And whoever puts his trust in Allah, then He will suffice him. Verily, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Indeed Allah has set a measure for all things.”

[Surat At-Talaq: 2-3]

Allah also says in the Qur’an,

“Say, O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful. And return [in repentance] to your Lord and submit to Him before the punishment comes upon you; then you will not be helped.”

[Surah Az-Zumar: 53-54]

Being conscious of Him, placing our trust in Him, and sincerely repenting to him- this is the sure-shot way out of our hardships.  These are the areas we need to ruthlessly work on.  We need to redirect our thought process to focus more on solving our problems rather than just fizzling out by blaming and complaining about everything to everyone.  Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala is the one who created the silver lining to every cloud.  With firm faith in this, our eyes must seek the positivity in every ‘negative’ situation.  Rather than being bogged down by your worries, zoom out of your problems and focus on Him, who is closer to you than your jugular vein.

Your life is beautiful.  Your destiny has been wonderfully penned at the command of your Rabb, and there’s an amazing journey ahead of you, insha Allah.  All you need to do is to change your perception of your life and put complete trust in your Creator with full conviction and patience- which really does create miracles.  What seems impossible for you is as simple for the Almighty as saying “Kun” (“Be”).  Maintain closeness to the Almighty at times of ease too, and you will find His Promised Help close-by during times of hardship.  And, then, behold how your life becomes sweeter and beautiful than ever before!

Summer in Pakistan

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The one and only thing that is constant in our lives is change. The night and days alter, the weeks and months pass by and the seasons come and go.

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Allah Subhaanahu wa Ta’ala has not created a single thing without purpose, so the change, in itself, also has a purpose. The change perhaps is a blessing in disguise. It teaches us that nothing in life is permanent. This life, this Dunya, is not permanent. In fact it is meant to change.

Time runs and before we knew it, June is right here. It started in March when the spring was subsided before it could officially depart. With the blazing sun and with markets oozing with lawn collections in every other city across Pakistan, summer set in.

Summer in Pakistan comes with scorching sun, excessive load-shedding, lawn collections, ice creams & beverages and eternal love for mangoes.

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And well, a lot of complaining about how hard and tough summer is.

This year the complain has transformed into a concern about upcoming Ramadan (uff itni germi mei rozay kesay rakhain gay?) – “How are we ever going to fast in this extreme heat?”

Well this summer let’s not complain, and for change let us rejuvenate our Iman by following these DO’s and DON’Ts. Keep a positive attitude. 🙂

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Don’ts:

1)      Be lazy / procrastinate / miss Salah.

2)      Wear revealing lawn clothing or half/quarter sleeves in public (for women). Rasool Allah SallAllaahu Alaiyhi Wasallam cursed the women who wore clothes but were still naked (May Allah Ta’ala not make us from them).

3)      Wear revealing thighs (for men).

4)      Have bad odor.

5)      Put excessive perfumes – women!

6)      Complain!! Absolutely no to complaining. Insha Allah.

DO’s:

1)      Make dua to Allah to keep you from laziness. (Al Bukhari 7/158)

Dua for Protection from Laziness

2)      Make dua for ease in everything – (dua from Hisnul Muslim – Ibn-e-Habban Al-Sahih)

Dua for Ease in Everything

3)      Remember that if this is so hot, Hell is much hotter. Make Istighfar and seek refuge in Allah from the Hellfire.

Allah Subhaanahu wa Ta’ala is making us experience the high temperature because of a reason. The discomfort that we are made to face in form of summer is a direct guide to learning the ultimate lesson that Hell is hotter. And surprisingly, we get to know from an authentic Hadith of Rasool Allah SallAllaahu Alaiyhi Wasallam that the reason of heat in summers is hell itself:

Abu Hurayrah RadiAllaahu Anhu  reported that the Prophet SallAllaahu Alaiyhi Wasallam said: “The (Hell) Fire complained to its Lord saying: ‘O my Lord! My different parts consume each other, so allow me to breathe.’ Therefore He (i.e., Allaah) allowed it to take two breaths, one in the winter and the other in summer, and this is the reason for the severe heat and the bitter cold you find (in weather).” [Al-Bukhaari]

winter and summer

Subhan Allah! We’re frail and we cannot even tolerate the heat of this Dunya, may Allah Subhaanahu wa Ta’ala protect us all from hell fire. Ameen!

4)      Take bath! Summer is not a license to badodor. Muslims should love and practice cleanliness. Wear fragrance too.

One hot day, the Prophet SallAllaahu Alaiyhi Wasallam came out while these people were sweating profusely due to the type of clothes they were wearing and a very bad smell emanated from them, to the extent that it offended others. When the Prophet SallAllaahu Alaiyhi Wasallam smelt this, he said: “O people! On this day (i.e. Friday) you need to perform Ghusl and each of you should use the best perfume he has.”

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5)      Drink water. Feel the love of chilled water and pray to Allah that may our love for Allah become greater than the love we have for this chilled water. It is said that drinking chilled water helps in bringing Ikhlas (sincerity) in Shukar (thanking/being grateful) of Allah!

6)      Offer drinks and water to your fellow beings and earn good deeds.

7)      Put water for animals to drink as well!

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8)      Enjoy summer fruits like watermelon and mango, and thank Allah for this amazing opportunity!

summer-fruits

9)      Make Shukar of Allah, and be thankful to HIM for summer too. Summer offers plenty of opportunities to get Sawab (reward), no?

10)  If you find it hard to sleep on your mattresses, sleep on a mat or directly on the floor. Remember it is Sunnah! Sleeping on floor is said to inculcate humbleness in one’s self. May Allah Subhaanahu wa Ta’ala make us more humble!

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11)  Yes! There is excessive load shedding. But Alhamdulillah we have alternates, even if it is just a manual fan. Alhamdulillah summa Alhamdulillah! Let’s make our hearts full of Shukar of Allah. As Brother Nouman Ali Khan says, ‘if we were really the people of Alhamdulillah we would have never found the energy, opportunity or even desire to complain!’

12)  Last but not the least, let’s learn to be patient in this heat and still have tongues that are wet in remembrance of Allah Subhaanahu wa Ta’ala.

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