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The Best Version of Me


I recall once while on the road with friends, someone mentioned it was almost Maghreb and she hadn’t completed her evening azkaar yet. Another friend sadly remarked how often she has been missing them lately.

I was shocked.
How could someone miss their daily azkaar (supplications)?!
That’s a believer’s essential! And here this ‘practising Muslimah’ is telling us she’s missed them often? I tried hard not to judge her, but man was that a struggle..

Fast forward a few years, and many veils of naivety later, I find myself applauding when I realise I managed to get almost all my morning and evening azkaar done on time for a single day. Not sure if I should laugh at my old self for thinking I could always be that regular in my ibadah, or mourn the fact that I am no more.

Or wait..I could dare aim to be ‘me’ again?

And just like that, of everything that I have ever planned for on ‘new years’ ‘new semesters’ and all those new beginnings, this year I have found the most inspirational one; being that best old version of me!
All of us miss and reminisce different phases of our lives; the cheerfulness of school days, the regular journaling during a certain summer break, baking something new every week, regular contact with family during a certain semester, daily recitation of a certain portion of Qur’an for a few years and whatnot! While life and times may change, we will always have it in us- if nothing else- to be what we strove so hard to be. It took us a lifetime each to achieve all that, how could we let it all just go? Let’s revive our own legacy, and not let our struggles and ambitions die again.

Remember, remember..

Verily, the reward of deeds performed depends on the last actions. (1) 

This year, I note down the habits and hobbies from my past that I feel were the best of me and work on making them a part of my life again.
Take a pleasant ride down your memory lane and pick your favourites too; your top 5 or random 10 and let’s resolve again to be the best versions of ourselves! 

joy this season's good vibes

Bonus guidelines for making your list and charting an action plan from the man best in habits and deeds, ﷺ:

“Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately and know that your deeds will not make you enter Paradise, and that the most beloved deed to Allah is the most regular and constant even if it were little.” (2)


(1) Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab ar-Raqaa’iq (Book on Softening of the Hearts) no. 6493
(2) Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab ar-Raqaa’iq (Book on Softening of the Hearts) no. 6464


The Simplest Life Hack to Track Your Life

By Sara Ahmad

planner 2018

I learned something in 2017- the importance of tracking my life and my habits. Before I started doing this, I felt that time was flowing through my fingers and I was just standing there, unable to grasp it. I felt that I was declining spiritually, mentally and physically but had no way of determining at what pace and why. I wanted to take snapshots of my life at different times and analyse them. I started making complicated timetables to keep an hourly log of every single thing I was doing in a day. I thought it would help me see how productive or how lazy I was. Well, that didn’t turn out to be sustainable… I quit doing that in less than a week. Then I tried a daily journal, but again, it was hard to keep up with and it was hard to ‘measure’ my weekly and monthly progress from pages and pages of written information.

Just as 2017 started, I found a table calendar (the kind which has blank boxes for every day) which unintentionally evolved into one of the best tracking methods I have ever used. I started recording the habits which were most important to me. For example, I wanted to see how much of the Quran I recited in a month, so I chose a pink color and added ‘juz 1’ on the first day and then ‘juz 2’ the next day. If I did not recite, I left the box blank.  After a month, I looked at all the pink ink and was able to see how much I recited and also measure how many days I wasn’t able to recite and figure out if any patterns existed. I used different colours for other habits:

Purple- dawah activities

Green- exercise

Orange- money spent

Blue- times I hung out with my friends

Red- habits I wanted to get rid of but still ended up engaging in them

Black- general activities like studying, spending time with family etc.

I thought I would eventually stop using this method, but it’s so easy that I still haven’t! By the end of 2017, I had a clear idea about which areas I had made progress in and which I still need to work on. For 2018, I’ve been using the same method on a planner instead of a table calendar and it’s working just as well Alhumdulillah. I hope these ideas benefit you in some way and that you are able to look back at your week/month/year/decade and give yourself a reason to smile!

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَلْتَنظُرْ نَفْسٌ مَّا قَدَّمَتْ لِغَدٍ ۖ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ

“O you who have believed, fear Allah and let every soul look to what it has put forth for tomorrow – and fear Allah. Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do.” (Surah Al Hashr:18)



The Muslim Mama’s Quick Guide to Goal Planning (without losing your sanity)

By Fatima Asad

If you’re like me, you despise seeing those tacky New Year’s resolution jokes on your newsfeed.  This one really irks my soul: “My New Year’s resolution is to follow through with my last year’s resolutions.”  Another one that sadly represents the majority of wishful go-getters is: “Thanks for not laughing at my absurdly unattainable New Year’s resolutions.”  It is not simply the cheesiness of these jokes that bothers me- but our apathetic attitude towards a chance to improve the quality of our lives.  Yes, December 31st is just a number and there’s no magic or daleel behind it but choose Ramadan or Muharram as your “New Year” if you please.  We as imperfect beings strongly desire a line – a start/finish line that will allow us to start afresh; however, it is only that- a desire.  Now, as a mother and wife, my plate of short-term and long-term planners is often overflowing and that liberating line is much needed to reorganise and get a new start.  

Let me throw in another cliche: “If you fail to plan, you have planned to fail.” This is the one quote that I can confirm from experience is very true.  The day that I have not planned is the day I get an inner panic attack either before or after breakfast.  Mothers are all too familiar with the overwhelming feeling of disorganisation and are pros at masking it with an air of “I know exactly what I’m doing.”  My to-do basket tends to pile up for days at a time, I am guilty of shoving clutter in the wrong closets, I miss my spa appointments regularly, I’ll let the kids have pyjama day (or week) when laundry needs to be done, and I’m definitely guilty of not straightening out the bed sheet before I spread the duvet elegantly on top.  Why am I divulging my secrets? Because I want the other moms out there to know that: Girls, it’s okay to not meet society’s standards every single day.  It really is!  We have too much going on to worry about which total stranger or judgemental relative we need to please today.  


Believe it or not there’s a method to our clumsy madness as mothers.  We have far greater goals to focus on.  These goals don’t just include fitness or diet goals- that was the easy part.  As mothers, we have to make multiple planners for each new year: for me, for the kids, and for the husband (he can safely be kept under the children’s category).  It’s fun to plan a family trip or which new colour to paint the bedroom wall; however, as Muslim mothers, our goals for the year should reach far beyond those walls.  The purpose of setting goals is to improve the quality of our lives, as is pleasing to the Lord Almighty and to reach ihsaan (excellence) in all our actions and emotions.  Notice, there is a difference between excellence and perfection.  A chase for perfection will always end in failure- doing everything with ihsaan means I’ve given it my personal best.  

Apply now!_2

I won’t lie; each year, the burden of raising little humans gets heavier on my shoulders as I know I must set goals that are wholesome for not only my family but also for the future of our Ummah.  These goals include focusing on categories such as Islamic Studies, Quran Studies, homeschooling (did I mention I’m also the teacher?), diet and exercise, social activities and life skills.  

Here are some gentle reminders for my fellow Muslim mothers (and fathers) as they begin or revise their goal planning:

  • Focus on your ultimate goal of reaching Jannatul Firdous
  • Renew your intention (Why and for whom are you doing this?)
  • Begin everything with Bismillah (Yes, even as you wash the dishes) and it will turn the action into worship
  • Let go of perfection and aim for YOUR very best
  • Stop worrying about people’s opinions! Do what seems right for your family
  • You’re still an awesome mother if you don’t do every project on Pinterest
  • Stick to the sunnah- remember Islam makes your life easier!
  • Read/listen about the great women in Islam and how they focused on their families, personal lives and their deen
  • You need to have a contemporary role model who inspires you (public figure, fellow mother, coworker)
  • Choose friends that bring positive energy in your life and help you grow instead of judging you (If you can have her over without having to change the kids out of those pyjamas, she’s a keeper!)
  • Don’t go through goal planning and implementing alone! Have a strong network to talk to (husband, friend, relative)

Life was not meant to be lived perfectly, and this year will be no exception.  We will make mistakes- lots of them.  It’s important to make NEW mistakes and learn from the old, inshaAllah.  



Ramadan Challenge: Life Goals

By Mahnoor Arif

This Ramadan started off with a trail of memories from the past as Facebook reminded me that last year, this was a time when I was immersed in countless (a bit exaggerated, though) projects, assignments reports and … My Final Year Project. Yes! I was graduating.

Most of us know the struggle of universities, the toil you have to go through, and the feeling that all those 16 years of your life are closing down upon you now as you make your way through the continuous daily grind but the struggle just doesn’t seem to be getting over. Last Ramadan had been all about this, when the announcement of the moon of Ramadan being sighted didn’t matter because the moon of Final FINAL exams of Engineering had been sighted with it as well. Even when the final exams were over, FYP (final year project) was staring right in our eyes with all its glory ready to consume all the little energies left. Last Ramadan was all about finalizing reports, testing, circuits, presentations, and all you can expect from a graduating engineering student. But it did come with its feeling of accomplishment, the feeling that its finally over after 16 years of stress and mental breakdowns.


A year ago, it felt like accomplishing a lot. It felt like being successful finally. It was finally a time when I could raise my head high and say that I have made my parents proud by getting a degree in engineering from a prestigious university with amazing grades and you can definitely say that after all those years of getting a formal education.

Little did I know that I will be introduced to a whole new meaning of success later on.

This year, I enrolled myself in a year-long Quran course (that includes explanation of the Quran cover to cover plus many other related subjects) and that was the beginning of an all new phase of my life. Before I got introduced to the true spirit of our religion through Quran, it seemed like life is all good. Whatever little I know is fine. A few lectures here and there, some dawah projects, some classes and all done! But my first class introduced me to life as we never know it. It felt like a blind person getting to see for the first time.

All my life, I had excelled at my studies, learning those formulas, solving those equations with perfection, researching about a particular phenomenon, designing circuits, encoding and decoding but the meaning of one word ‘Al-Aleem’ belittled it all. We casually translate it as The All-Knowing but do we know what that means? He knows whatever is inside you or even whatever is building up inside you, He knows what you show outside and He even knows what your heart desires. He presents the example of a visible mosquito and even knows about the parasite invisible to our eyes that lives on the wing of that mosquito. Our knowledge compared to His is like a drop in an ocean or even lesser than that. What was I proud of?


The meaning of the word ‘Hikmat’ turned my life upside down as I always thought that I am a person who has done things at the right moment in her life but No! The word opens a new world of good decision making, time management, stress management, family relations and basically putting anything into perspective in your life which made me realize that I have never excelled at all of them simultaneously.

The meaning of ‘Ash-Shaakir’ put me into thought for days because I have never thanked Him enough for all the countless blessings that He has given me and He is rather appreciative of whatever little good that we do. Just let that sink in! He appreciates whatever we do and we haven’t ever been grateful enough.

SubhanAllah! Quran is filled with eye-openers like that where you feel like THIS IS WHAT I NEEDED TO HEAR!! OH MY GOD!! THIS IS ABOUT ME!! It has been less than 30 days and only 2 juz but there has been an immense sea of wisdom in the little that I have studied. And comparison of my previous year and this time of the year leaves me in extreme love for The Lord Who gave me the opportunity not only to study His beautiful Book but to perceive it as well, to understand it and to apply it or at least try to.

Just as I graduated a year ago, I imagine the day when I will be completing all 30 juz and the amazing miracles that will come with it. It will surely be a graduation of its kind where efforts will have been spent understanding root words and their analysis, where throats will be parched practising tajweed lessons and where sleep will be managed in order to learn translation lessons. As Allah rightly says in Quran, ‘For each is a direction toward which it faces.’ [2:148], there was a direction then and there is a direction now! Rightly put into perspective!


And the beauty of this journey is that it will never be over. The course will end but the lessons will continue, the knowledge gained will increase with passing life as our final purpose is not to gain but to apply and spread to attain our ultimate goal in the hereafter and what is our ultimate goal, you may ask? It is to see His face which will make us forget all about that ever bothered us, all that ever pleased or displeased us, all that ever worried us and all that we had to go through. Imagine that moment!

How can you get there? This is a month of spiritual high when everyone is trying to make the most out of it but attaining Allah’s pleasure is a life long goal.

CHALLENGE: Enrol yourself in something similar, pledge to understand His Book, find a regular course near you which helps you get on this journey. Make dua for it and make an effort because every moment and every bit of energy spent towards getting closer to Him will count and will bring with it lots of barakah (blessings). Make it your intention and Allah will definitely make a way for you. This is a never ending journey and you just have to keep working towards it. One day, you will get there inshaAllah.

May Allah make us of the people who understand His Book with zeal, act upon it and spread it like a light that is for everyone and everywhere. Ameen.

Ramadan Challenge: Good Deeds Post-Ramadan!

By Umm Ibrahim

We can never thank Allah enough for the blessed month of Ramadan, and the increase in worship it brings for us all. Almost all of us go one notch up than our pre-Ramadan selves in terms of worship. Maybe we read the Quran after months. Maybe we prayed Fajr on time after weeks. Maybe we made heartfelt dua after ages.

However, the real deal is not just to gel the Ramadan Iman Rush, but to try to maintain a certain level of iman (faith) and good deeds post-Ramadan. We should strive to exit Ramadan better than we entered it. Ramadan is like a training camp for us. The goal is: to instil taqwa (God-consciousness) in us!
This Ramadan, I decided to select just three things that I would start in Ramadan and continue doing afterwards too.

The first is post-Fajr Quran recitation. I might be reading an entire Juz everyday in Ramadan, but only a page a day afterwards. But that’s okay. The goal is to maintain the post-Fajr recitation, even if it be a few verses. Post-Ramadan, I should not revert to Post-Fajr slumber, or worse, slumbering through Fajr!


The second goal is to start and then continue to pray the 2 rak’at of the amazing Duha* prayer daily after Ramadan . It just takes 5-10 minutes, and has amazing virtues and benefits.


And the third goal is to make a habit of doing my muhasibah (self-accountability) before bed every night. I’m starting this in Ramadan and aiming to continue it later as well. I don’t want to get lost and distracted again. Holding yourself accountable keeps you on track.

I’m going to write these down where I can see them every day after Ramadan.

I challenge you to think of three good deeds that you plan to continue after Ramadan! Let Ramadan leave its mark on you!

Because after all, the most beloved deeds in the sight of Allah are not the sixers that you hit once in a while, but the steady flow of ones and twos that you would be able to hit at every ball.

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said:
“The most beloved of deeds in the sight of Allah are those done consistently, even if they be little.” (Bukhari)


*Duha prayer: It is an optional two-rakʿah prayer that the Prophet ﷺ prayed frequently and advised the companions to pray, and its time is between sunrise and Dhuhr.
Details here.

Of good company and positive attitudes

This post is an anonymous entry sent in by one of our readers for the theme #Sinless. We pray that Allah keeps the writer steadfast on her own journey.


How do people view practicing Muslims these days? Outdated? Orthodox? Old-school? Of course!

I mean, just imagine! How can those people live without listening to music? I can’t even picture myself sitting alone and not plugging my earphones into my ears (to listen to the latest beats).

And then there’s the whole covering up issue.  Personally I believe that the only modesty is that of the gaze- don’t stare, that’s all. These Abaya-clad girls are usually looked more keenly upon. Obviously they invite more glances. How can they claim to be modest when they stand out like that? How are they even comfortable being inspected so?  You can’t talk, walk, or act like a normal human being in that kind of dress- completely out of the question!

There’s so much in this world alone; so much to see, so much to do- so little time (and money). You are obliged to earn by whatever means you can. How can you possibly make time for the daily prayers, and that too 5 times a day, what with your otherwise hectic schedule?

Then there’s these Maulvis… Nothing but a bunch of the most deviant people imaginable. All they do is impose a new fatwa every now and then- make life hard for the rest of us.  And then they have the audacity to plead about immodesty in the community. I mean they should just focus on themselves. I’m fine the way I am. I don’t need someone dictating my life!

Is this you? I don’t know about you, but this is definitely me.

I’m sorry I’m mistaken.

This WAS definitely me.

Practicing religion to the old me was just like sticking to the most frustrating restrictions one could possibly think of. And I’m not the only young person I know who had this problem- so did most of the other young people I knew.

It was a great blessing that Allah blessed me with some amazing friends who were practical examples of people who practice religion, but remain down-to-earth and ‘normal’ at the same time. Pretty amazing, right? LOL. They would talk, walk and act normal. They had fun. They were fun to be around. And their positive outlook on life helped solve many of MY problems too!

They somehow managed to live without listening to the kind of messed up music that is popular nowadays. They prayed five times a day in spite of their busy routines. They weren’t modest about their gaze alone, but also in the way they dressed.

And I could not do anything but also get inspired! Unbelievable but true- all you need to do is spend some time in good company yourself to understand this.

The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said,

A man is upon the religion of his best friend, so let one of you look at whom he befriends.”[Sunan Abu Dawud: 4833]

Yeah! My company did change the way I viewed the world. My heart started to be more inclined towards Allah and His religion. I wanted to find the source of this goodness- I wanted to be one of them. I started perfecting my own Salah. And as it is mentioned in the Quraan:-

“Indeed Salah stops you from Immodesty and Munkar (That which is forbidden)” [Surah Al-Ankaboot, Ayah: 43]

My prayers helped me to  strive even further and take more steps towards my Lord. It felt like a relief when I wore my hijab for the first time in front of my male cousins. Believe it or not, it felt better than seeing myself in front of the mirror, dressed to perfection. I gave up music slowly and turned towards Quraan. It did feel better than that temporary happiness that would blow my ears away through those meaningless lyrics. These changes were not abrupt. It took time to make them impact my heart and mind.

But there was no other option for me when all of these things made complete sense to me. No ifs, no buts. The way forward was obvious.

Only then did I understand the importance of Hijab, giving up music, praying five times a day with the utmost devotion to Allah and doing all else that was required by my religion. They all made sense now that I was sincerely tuning into Allah’s commands.  But that only happened once I had decided that I wanted to understand-  with a true and receptive heart. Temptations struck me from all sides.  I surrounded myself with an even tighter circle of strong, righteous friends.

And even after that, the struggle was not over.

This struggle won’t ever be over as it is not possible for anyone to be completely sinless. The Prophet [Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him] said:

 “All human beings without exception are sinful, but the best sinners are those who repent the most.” [Tirmidhi]

But it’s definitely something worth striving for, especially with the help of good company. It’s time we all took out a moment to reflect. Allah is always ready to forgive. Can we expect any better?

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