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3 Ways to Maintain a Balanced Muslim Lifestyle

Islam, LifestyleSaima Khan1 Comment

More often than ever, we hear the word ‘lifestyle’. It has become a trend, for example, to have a ‘fit’ lifestyle. But, what really is the essence of this word and what can we derive from its definition for ourselves as Muslims?  

A lifestyle is a way of living. It is a manifestation of our ideologies and thoughts into actions. It is not only the way that we do things but it encompasses the way that we think as well. As Muslims, we know that our deen is not separate from our lifestyle, they are one and the same. Therefore, to live in a way which our deen encourages us to live, means to bring our thoughts and our knowledge into our actions. Each day we practice habits that we have learned that have now become part of how we live. We develop an emotional connection to our lifestyle and cannot imagine living any other way.  

PC: patheros.com

PC: patheros.com

Existing in a time when our lifestyle is misunderstood by so manyputs a lot of pressure to conform on the shoulders of communities and the ummah as a whole. The feeling to conform to our surroundings and adapt to our culture is natural. But, to fear society and completely change the way we live is irrational. Therefore, we need to take and re-take some steps taught from the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (saw) to bring ourselves back to our focus: 

  1. Make/Re-make an Intention- An intention that is purely for Allah (swt) is something that is emphasized in any action that we take. This is because when we do this, our minds are set on our goal and our actions and behaviours follow accordingly. We are not worried about anything other than Allah (swt).  Not doing something for Allah’s sake or with a pure intention often leads us into loopholes and confusion that we could have otherwise avoided.  

 

  1. Say Bismillah- After having made that intention within our minds and hearts, we immediately put it into action and hear ourselves say out loud, “Bismillah”- in the name of Allah. By saying this beautiful word, we remind ourselves that what we are about to do is only for Allah(swt), in hopes of His mercy, love, and reward.  

 

  1. Do the action with sincerity and Ihsaan- Remaining sincere and performing any action to our utmost best is another aspect that stands out within our lifestyle. When we remain sincere to what we intend and say, then perform this action with ihsaan, we are content within ourselves even if we did not achieve exactly what we wanted.  

Taking these 3 practical steps into consideration will help us maintain the balance and regain the strength that we may sometimes lose due to the incidences surrounding Muslims today. Lastly, if we remind ourselves that Allah (swt) is capable of anything and knows all that we go through, this bring us to the conviction that only He is in control and is our ultimate caretaker. 

Why Are Reverts Leaving Islam? The Inconvenient Truth

IslamRubain Manzoor6 Comments

A while ago, I came across a website that was exclusive to reverts in Islam. It was a place where they could come together and speak about their newfound faith, have important discussions onIslamic issues, learn about teachings of the Quran and Sunnah, and (my personal favourite) share their inspirational convert stories. It also had another section that caught my eye as I was browsing  a forum dedicated to reverts wanting to leave Islam. 

PC: feelislam.com

PC: feelislam.com

When I first saw it, I was confused  why would anyone want to leave Islam, especially when they studied the religion and embraced it without force? Curiosity hit me, and I started reading through the different threads that reverts had submitted. The more I read, the more I became dismayed.  

I began to notice that most of the posts had a similar theme. I also noticed that most of the posters were revert sisters. They all had one thing in common -  they felt alone, lost, and unhappy, thus wanted to leave Islam and go back to their previous lives. Why? Simply because they had no support system and a lack of interaction with their local Muslim community.  

Many reverts who embrace Islam give up everything they have in life to become a Muslim. This means changing the way they dress, what they eat, how they behave and interact with others. It also means they are likely to experience lost or strained relationships with their parents, spouses, friends, family and sometimes, even their children. Can you imagine doing that? Cutting yourself off from the world you know and exist in, only to adopt a life that is completely different in contrast?  

I cant.  

As a Born-Muslim, there are so many things that we take advantage of. Praying salah, reading the Quran, attending tarawee, or fasting during Ramadan - it all comes naturally to us because weve been doing these things since we were little. We had our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles to guide us through the years to help us become the devoted and obedient Muslims that we are today. Many of us come from countries that have cultures so aligned with the teachings of Islam that we can tell no difference between the two. We've always had a system in place that supported us and allowed us to perform even the most mundane religious tasks without much thought, effort or hesitation.  

But have you thought about the reverts who didnt have these things growing up? Who just embraced Islam after years of living in a completely opposite world? About how they struggle with praying salah correctly or on time? Face difficulties reading the Quran despite their efforts? Break their fast all alone during Ramadan, because they have no one to break it with?  

Many reverts have no support from their families because they dont approve of their new faith and way of life. They dont have anyone to share their worries, anxiety, and struggles with because none of their family and friends can understand what theyre going through. Many of them struggle to make friends or find spouses because theres no way for them to socialize with other Muslims, other than attending Jummah prayers or the occasional event at the masjid. They rarely get invitations from fellow Muslims throughout the year that could help them get acquainted and adjusted to their newfound faith.  

The sad reality is, many members of our community leave the responsibility of welcoming a new Muslim to others, assuming that there is enough support for the revert when in fact theres absolutely none. While many may have the best of intentions towards their new brothers and sisters of Islam, they often fail to follow up with them because they get too busy with their lives. The sister who took her shahada at the masjid last Friday may have received an overwhelming number of hugs, kisses and telephone numbers, but soon shell be left alone with empty promises of being welcomed in Muslim homes, or to be taught the Quran and Salah. Its actually at this delicate time that new reverts need support the most, as the onset of tests pervades their life. Allah SWT says: 

We might test him who believes in the Hereafter from him who is in doubt concerning it: and the Lord watches over all things  Quran 34:21 

Ramadan came and went, but did you get a chance to think about all the reverts in your community and the challenges they must have faced this past month, or will continue to experience long after. I could tell you to make an effort to spend time with them next Eid or to remember to invite them to your social events throughout the year, but we have to go beyond that to help them. 

We need to listen to our revert sisters and understand the obstacles they face every day in their life. We need to show our support, not just by offering them polite conversations or some of our spare time, but by actively pursuing to make changes in our community and way of interaction with them, so they can benefit from a boundless support system that will help them transition to their new way of life.  

How can we do this? Firstly, by asking them questions and learning about their biggest fears, worries, anxieties, and problems. By doing so, we can attempt to understand them better and realize why they want to leave Islam instead of advancing in it. Try to learn about their culture or their previous life and what they miss the most from it. If you can help them find a balance between Islam and a part of their culture or traditions, they wont feel such a loss of identity.  

Secondly, we need to bring our community up-to-date with this situation and have open, sincere discussions with our leaders and community members. Many Born-Muslims are unaware of the difficulties faced by reverts and dont realize they are ignorant towards this issue. Through these discussions, we can identify our role to help reverts overcome the obstacles they face as new Muslims and help change the communities attitude towards them. While you may not do so, youd be surprised at some Born-Muslims who refrain from socializing with reverts, or approve their children to marry them (which is another major topic, and needs a post all by itself!).  

Lastly, we should develop programs that are aimed at educating Born-Muslims and reverts in Islam. Born-Muslims need to realize their responsibility towards new Muslims, and programs should be introduced by the local masjids and other Muslim organizations on how to help new Muslims assimilate with the community.  Alternatively, we should also focus on offering free workshops and classes to reverts that teach them about the fundamentals of Islam  whether its demonstrating how to pray, read the Quran with tajweed, or network with other Muslims in their community. 

If new Muslims are supported through these efforts, they would not be alone. They would have the tools and strength of faith to deal with the tests that face them. They would not feel secluded the next time Ramadan approaches because they know they have a community that supports them and helped them become a more aware and mature Muslim.  

 

An Energetic Fast Begins at Suhoor

Eid & Ramadan, Health & Wellness, Food & Beverage, IslamSundus AliComment
The reward of goodness, is nothing but goodness.
— Qura'an 55:60

As we get ready for the most wonderful time of year, Ramadan, we often forget the importance of a healthy Suhoor routine to ensure our bodies get the right balance of nutrients.

Personally, I am not a suhoor person. I literally want to get out of bed and back into it. Since I work a 9-5 it's difficult to prepare a hearty meal at that hour of the morning, because I try and sneak in a few hours of rest before getting up for work. So of course, I make the quickest meal possible which usually consists of Nutella on toast and if I'm feeling really good, I'll have some fruit. I never ate vitamins, and I barely drank enough water…but not this year.

I've found in past years that around 3-4pm I usually begin to crash. And by crash I mean get-me-my-bed-asap type of crash. I completely run out of energy and my body almost feels like it's giving up on me. Though we fast from eating foods, many ahadith encourage the preservation of our energy by eating properly to ensure we are able to spend time in ibadaah. We don't fast all day to nap for 2 hours before iftaar, right? I mean, I'm all for naps, but maximizing your time in Ramadan is SO important – and you won't be able to do that if you're not treating your body properly. Since Ramadan is the best time to implement new behaviours (or correct bad ones!), I'm trying to incorporate a couple of new habits during Ramadan that I know will be beneficial for me to carry throughout the year.

During Halal Food Fest, a few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting the founders of Nutrimin. Now, we all know how painful it is to find GOOD vitamins that are halal, so I was really excited about learning more about the brand and the products they offer. I had a sample of the gummy vitamin and was HOOKED. It tasted like a Blossom and Bean gummy bear, but it was a vitamin. How could this be?! Anyway, after chatting with him and telling him about what I'm looking for, I received a bottle of the capsules (yes, I made the 'adult' choice and didn't get the gummies) and am really excited to incorporate the Multi+ vitamins into my suhoor routine. The vitamin is packed with minerals including iron (which most women lack!) and essential vitamins like A, B12, D, and others. The best part? The vitamins are all made in Canada, and are vegan / halal. I highly recommend you check them out and incorporate vitamins into your Suhoor routine to stay energized and spend your time doing things that matter (Dawah, Dhikr, Charitable work, etc.) during Ramadan.

Nutrimin Halal Vitamins & Zuhoor Designs Succulant available at The Date Palm.   PC: Sundus Ali

Nutrimin Halal Vitamins & Zuhoor Designs Succulant available at The Date Palm. 

PC: Sundus Ali

Another item that I'm going to incorporate into my Suhoor routine this year is the NutraB black seed and honey mix. In case you didn't 'know, black seed is a prophetic medicinethat the Prophet SAW used for curing ailments. There is a famous hadith narrated by Abu Hurairahreported in Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi and others that states“Use the black seed, because it contains a cure for every type of ailment except death." I mean that's pretty incredible, no?

Black seed & honey have tons of great benefits.  PC: Sundus Ali

Black seed & honey have tons of great benefits.

PC: Sundus Ali

There is significant contemporary evidence around the medical uses of black seed. It is antioxidant known to help cleanse the body of toxins. Many people also use it to treat skin disorders, allergies, infections, and digestive issues to name a few. So you might be thinking, ok why should I have this in Ramadan?

Well one of the most important facts about black seed is that the polyunsaturated fats in black seed help maintain your metabolism while eliminating toxins, improving blood circulation, and balancing your insulin level. Since our metabolism naturally slows down due to fasting, it's important to balance the way our body will help burn calories, and this will assist with maintaining energy.

Honey on the other hand is often referred to as "liquid gold" for its many, many, benefits. There are so many benefits to honey, that I won't get into here, but honey assists in preventing coughs, colds, and if taken regularly will help to ensure you don't fall sick during Ramadan. (As an aside, it also helps rid your bowel of ya know, the gross stuff, helping with regular bowel movements).

The verse at the beginning of this post talks about goodness. Though we associate goodness with doing good deeds, goodness is in everything. It's in our speech, our mannerisms, our dress, and most definitely in how we take care of our bodies. Allah swt. has made us perfect in every sense, and the least we can do is take care of our bodies to the best of our abilities with that which we know is good. If you're able to, sneak some ZamZam water into your routine, with dates of course, and your body will really be thanking you both during and after Ramadan.

I pray that we all have a fulfilling and fruitful Ramadan. May He accept from you and me.

Sundus Ali / twitter: @sundus_ / instagram: @sunduseh / sundusa.com