Islam 101

Islam 101: Salatul Tasbih

Assalaamu alaikum, lovelies.

It is almost 2 am here in London and I just finished Salatul Tasbih. The Prophet (SAW) recommended for us to perform this prayer at least once during our lifetime. It’s a long one, but doing so will erase a lifetime of sins.

Honestly, after many nights of not sleeping after iftar, I am sleep deprived. Right now I can barely keep my eyes open. But tonight reminded me of the beauty of our faith. Prayer is a sort of meditation for us. It re-centers and grounds us, reminding us of what really matters. It’s coming up to 2 years since I became Muslim and I just have to be really thankful for where Allah (SWT) has brought me. This Ramadan has been a challenge but also a blessing.

Praying Salatul Tasbih reminded me of so much that I had forgotten. It brought forward a lot of insight into my own inner workings and reminded me that Allah (SWT) needs to be at the center of everything I do. It also reminded me of all the little bits of haram in my life that I need to fix. We all have these: little actions, words, thoughts that become habits that are subtly bringing us down in the background. Now, I feel in my heart an openness towards what I need to do to change and be the best Muslim I can be. I feel like I’ve been given a direction and now I know where to begin, insha’Allah.

I know it’s late and I’m getting too deep (don’t catch me in a discussion in the middle of the night, I get way too into it!), so I’ll leave you with the how-to below. It’s a little intimidating, but it’s worth it and you can do it!

Rasulullah ﷺ is narrated to have said to his uncle Hazrat ‘Abbas (R.A): O Abbas! O my uncle! Shall I not give you a gift? Shall I not show you something by means of which Allah will forgive your sins, the first and the last of them, the past and recent, the unintentional and the intentional, the small and huge, the secret and open? The Holy Prophet ﷺ then taught him the Salah al-Tasbih. Furthermore he advised him that it be offered daily, if possible. If not, then every Friday or once a month or once a year or at least once in one’s life time. (Abu Dawood)

The Tasbih that is read is: ‘Subhaanallaahi walhamdu lillaahi walaa ilaaha illallaahu wallaahu akbar’

Read here for the details on how to perform this prayer if you’re interested!

Much love,

Nahlah

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beauty, ramadan, Uncategorized

A Day of Halal Self-Care w/ Bayance

Assalaamu alaikum, lovelies!

With most of us around the world in lockdown, the topic of self-care has been more popular than ever. And with Ramadan upon us, now is the time to establish a solid, halal routine to be our best selves! To do this, I’m teaming up with my girl, the amazing Bayance, to go back to the sunnah and a few popular halal beauty practices. The glow up is real, y’all.

In Islam, beauty is so treasured and respected that we have been given a responsibility to protect and preserve it. As Muslim women, we’re encouraged to beautify ourselves for the sake of Allah (SWT), our husbands, and ourselves. It is said that beautifying yourself can be an act of worship if done in accordance with the sunnah. Check out the list below for my halal Ramadan self-care routine!

1) Hot Oil Treatments for Hair

“I heard Jabir bin Samurah being asked about the gray hairs of the Prophet [SAW]. He said: ‘If he put oil on his head they could not be seen, but if he did not put oil on his head, they could be seen.’” (An-Nasa’i)

“Rasulullah often rubbed oil in his head and also often combed his beard. He put a cloth over his head, which became like an oil cloth due to the frequent use of oil.” (Shamaa’il Muhammadiyya)

Oiling the hair was recommended by the Prophet (SAW), who did it himself. It nourishes the hair, promoting softness and shine and can protect against split ends. To do a hot oil treatment, you’ll need an oil of your choice (olive oil is highly recommended), an old t-shirt, water, a bowl, and a towel or plastic bag. Soak the t-shirt in water, place it in the bowl, and microwave for 30 secs or until hot. Make sure it’s not so hot that you’ll burn yourself. As you wait for the shirt to heat up, coat your hair in oil. Once done, wring the excess water from the shirt and wrap your hair in it. To insulate the treatment and get the full effect, wrap your head in a towel or plastic bag and let sit for 30 minutes or until the treatment goes cold. Then shampoo your hair and you’re done!

And full disclaimer, you will look crazy while doing this. Good thing we’re in lockdown, right?

2) Manicure

A’ishah said, ‘a woman gestured from behind a screen, with a letter to the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) in her hand. The Messenger of Allah withdrew his hand and said: “I do not know whether it is the hand of a man or a woman.” She said: It is a woman. He said: “If you were a woman, you would have changed your nails,” meaning, with henna. (Abu Dawud)

It is sunnah and hygienic to keep nails short and clean. But this doesn’t mean they can’t look pretty and feminine! To achieve this, you can file them to a nice shape, clean under the nails, and use a nail buffer to increase smoothness and shine without polish. You can also use any oil of your choice to moisturize the nail beds and promote nail and cuticle health.

3) Black seed oil massage for face and scalp.

Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet said:  “Use this Black Seed regularly, because it is a cure for every disease, except death.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Black seed oil holds a number of health benefits both internally and externally. It is a well-known antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties as well. There have been some studies showing improvement of eczema, acne, and psoriasis for individuals using black seed oil. For skin health, you can use it to do an oil cleanse and massage for the face and scalp.

4) Rosewater

Rosewater is a very popular beauty product used in a number of households all over the world. It is full of antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. It is also known to help balance the skin’s pH. This basically means that you can use it to soothe redness and irritation in the skin and also to protect the skin from damage. It can be used in place of normal water for clay masks or as a toner after cleansing the skin.

5) Clay

You can use rhassoul clay (or bentonite or green clay) to treat the skin and clear pores. You can also do a Moroccan-style hammam bath at home. This helps to draw out impurities from the skin, combat redness, soften the skin, and make it radiant.

And that, my lovelies, is my 5-step Ramadan self-care routine!

Bonus: make sure your everyday skin and hair care products are halal! One of the sneakiest ingredients is collagen which is often derived from beef and/or pork. Also watch out for wine and sake extracts. Funny story, the first 2 months I was Muslim I didn’t think to do this with my skincare routine. You would think I would have found the collagen products questionable with the cute little piggies on their packaging, but no. I continued to slather my face in it right before maghrib. Don’t be like me. Check the ingredients!

Be sure to check out Bayance’s post here for more genius halal beauty tips! What are your favourite self-care rituals? Tell me all about them in the comments below!

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Thoughts, Uncategorized

Coming Clean

It’s been 2 years since I became Muslim. My parents were cool with it as well as my siblings. The only two people that I kept putting off telling were my grandparents. So long story short, 3 days ago I told them what was up. And they disowned me.

It’s a weird feeling being disowned, especially when it comes at you through text while you’re standing in a mile-long que outside a Tesco’s. I couldn’t even cry properly. And then I proceeded to wander around the store aimlessly for the next 2 hours. I completely forgot what I had even come to shop for.

I feel strangely happy now, though. Telling my grandparents the truth was freeing. I won’t go into the grisly details, but it was the right time. Hiding who I was from part of my family was so stressful. The only reason I waited so long was because I knew they wouldn’t take it well and I was scared.

But them disowning me was the worst thing that could have happened and it happened. I don’t have to censor myself or worry about what my family thinks of me anymore. And now I can finally change my voicemail greeting to say my new name.

It really is the little things, huh?

For all my reverts out there, have you told the people around you yet? How did you feel? I’d love to read your stories in the comments below!

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ramadan, Uncategorized

First Day of Ramadan!

It is officially the first day of Ramadan! Ramadan Mubarak everyone. I pray that Allah (SWT) makes this month easy and successful for you. Welcome to all of you who have never fasted before! The first time can be a little overwhelming but you’ve got this!

Due to lockdown here in London, I’m practically stuck at home aside from the daily afternoon visits to my grandmother-in-law. I can’t complain, fasting takes a lot of you and it’s important to ration out your energy throughout the day so you don’t burn out. Not feeling obligated to go anywhere is such a blessing this month. So, what to do instead?

So far, my MIL has cleared one kitchen cabinet to start deep cleaning. My FIL has fixed the lawn mower and tinkered around with his bike. And my husband and I woke up at 10 and are still sitting in bed. Nah, I’m playing. We did wake up at 10 but we’ve managed to be a little productive. Our room has been tidied, laundry washed and hung out to dry, tested out a new rack to service the motorbike, and returned to bed to work on our computers.

Part of me wishes that I had saved most of my cleaning and organizing projects for this month rather than tackling them during last week’s make up fasts. Hindsight is 20/20. But now I get to focus on the more fun stuff! Today I’m dedicating time to write, begin course assignments, and work on my Ramadan goals. This way I can still be productive but save my physical energy for this evening.

One thing I will say for all my new Muslims is to avoid extended periods of time in the sun. And by extended, I mean more than 5 minutes. I thought sitting out to soak in the rays a bit would make me feel better last week and I came away with a throbbing headache, exhaustion, and intense thirst. It’s not even hot here. The best time to get fresh air is during a light stroll in the evening after Asr. The sun is lower in the sky and definitely not as intense.

That’s pretty much it for my first day of Ramadan. What do you have planned today?

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ramadan

Ramadan Countdown Day 1/2

Ok, I did get the days wrong. I’m sorry, I failed you all. Today’s preparation? I’ve got 2 for y’all!

1) Make sure you’ve got your alarm set for as much time as you need before suhoor ends. If you know you’re the type to hit snooze, put the alarm clock as far away from your bed as possible. Put your phone at the other end of the room. If you have a FitBit, set the silent alarm.

And when you’re waking up at 1/2/3 in the morning and it feels like the end of the world to get up, just remember that this is your last chance to eat food until Maghreb. Works for me every time.

2) Prepare your suhoor meal before hand. Since it’s the first one in awhile for many of us, it’s a lot easier to go for simple foods that you don’t have to cook from fresh. Cereal, overnight oats, granola, peanut butter balls, fruit, yogurt, boiled eggs, etc. Get all of it sorted out tonight so you don’t kick yourself in the morning.

Well, lovelies, it has been a wonderful 19 days with you. It would have been 20 but I don’t know how to count. Thank you so so much for joining me on this journey to reach this Ramadan, alhamdulillah. Ramadan Mubarak! And may Allah (SWT) grant you ease and blessing throughout this month, insha’Allah. Assalaamu alaikum.

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ramadan, Uncategorized

Ramadan Countdown Day 3

Assalaamu alaikum, lovelies! We are now on day 3 of the Ramadan Countdown! So far it’s looking like I did not miscount the days, but we’ll see Insha’Allah (I may be a little worried I’ve miscounted how many days there are left, guys). The topic for today is practicing self-restraint with gossip and general conversations with the people around you.

Gossip or backbiting can come so naturally especially if the people around you tend to engage in it. It’s only natural that if our friends or family are talking about one thing, we feel compelled to play along. It’s part of social survival; don’t be the odd one out and don’t make things awkward. It’s easy to forget that backbiting is haram and that it fosters a lot of negativity and toxicity  in our relationships. There’s nothing good that can come from it. And like they say, if someone is gossiping to you, they are for sure gossiping about you. It’s a vicious cycle. My take on it is: why waste time caring about what someone else is doing or wearing when you could just focus on yourself and be a lot happier?

Another good practice is to watch the words we say to people throughout all our conversations, not just the hot gossip. What tone of voice are we using? Is what we say mostly positive or negative? Are we rude? Do we put people down? Do we tell cruel jokes? Do we make fun of others? Do we lie? Do we brag? All annoying questions, but these are behaviours that can become habits without us even noticing. Don’t be the negative, judgmental auntie that everyone avoids at Eid!

Honestly, there’s no magic trick to being positive. It just takes a little thinking before you speak, actually focusing on the positive and minding your own business. It can also help to not say anything at all, like in Bambi. You don’t even have to explain yourself or chastise anyone else. If people start saying mean things about someone else, you can always chime in and counteract with positive things you notice about the person.

It’s easy to forget how effective our words can be, not just on ourselves but also on others. I’ve had to learn this lesson and it’s kind of painful. But I’m so much happier and my relationships are better when I watch what I say. And especially now that Ramadan’s here, it’s time for blessing others with kindness.

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ramadan, Uncategorized

Ramadan Countdown Day 7

It is day 7, my lovelies! Assalaamu alaikum and welcome back to the Ramadan Countdown! Today I want to talk about creating a Ramadan routine.

If you’ve fasted before, you know how difficult it is to stay productive on an empty stomach and slightly dehydrated. I know that last year, doing anything outside of the necessities and going to work was such a chore and often times I would be so zoned out and just ready to eat that I would end up not accomplishing anything; or I would forget to do things I wanted to do.

Looking back, I can honestly say that it would have helped tremendously if I had created a stable routine and habits in advance and stuck to them. So today’s advice is to create your daily Ramadan routine now. This applies whether you are off work, going to work, a stay-at-home mom/housewife, working from home, etc. You know your schedule best, so what kind of days do you want to have this Ramadan? This lines up with my earlier post on creating goals for Ramadan. In order to achieve these goals, we need a game plan.

I know that I want to learn how to read Quran, memorize a few duas, strengthen my deen, stay in shape, do more self-development, and stay on top of this blog and my coursework. When I look at this list, it feels like I’m biting off more than I can chew. But if I map what a day accomplishing all of this would look like, it feels achievable. The foundation of my routine for this upcoming month are prayers and the meals to open and break my fast. A balanced, healthy suhoor and fajr prayer combined with reading the Quran in English is my solid start to the day. Also, I won’t include them all in this list, but obviously I will be praying throughout the day and on time as well, Insha’Allah.

1) Wake up for suhoor, pray fajr, read Quran, back to sleep until 7/8 am.

2) Tidy room; do laundry and any other chores that need doing; create a calm and clean space for the day.

3) Go for a light, slow walk before the sun gets too strong. Just chill, enjoy moving, and breathe in the fresh air. Reflect.

4) Focus on completing coursework and any other jobs I have. Do this until 12/1pm.

5) Light nap (if needed).

6) Quran practice, dua and surah memorization, blogging.

7) Journal or talk to friends/family for 30 minutes.

8) Light exercise before iftar prep. Only exercising to maintain, not make progress.

9) Iftar prep, break fast, pray, eat more food, tarawih at home.

10) Enjoy evening with family but don’t stay up too late (you know how you get).

At the moment I’m not working so, alhamdulillah, I have lots of time to focus on deen, family, and working on my own personal projects. My daily routine this year is so much different from what I would have been doing last year (if I had thought to make one). Last year I was staying alone and working full time, often late into the evening. This year I’m with family and desperately trying my hand at housewifery. Things are different but a solid routine still works!

You don’t have to have a crazy long routine, especially not if you’re working. But even having a routine for suhoor and fajr can make a big difference. Or maybe just focus on your evening routine. Of course, it’s completely customizable so you do what works for you!

See you tomorrow for day 6, insha’Allah!

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ramadan, Uncategorized

Ramadan Countdown Day 13

Assalaamu alaikum, lovelies!

Today is day 13 of our Ramadan Countdown and today we are going to talk about getting ourselves in a grateful mindset. This may already come naturally to you or you may have been practicing gratitude already so this will just be a refresher. Or maybe you need some motivation, maybe you’ve felt yourself getting stuck in a negative cycle and are trying to find a way out. Whatever your situation is now, gratitude is a sure way to start with having the best attitude you can have.

Gratitude sometimes needs to be forced. It’s difficult to feel grateful when it seems almost impossible to see the good in our lives. So like every lifestyle blogger will tell you, start your day off by making a list of things you are grateful for. Yay! Isn’t this fun?

But for real, that’s actually a decent way to start and sometimes the only way to start. You can write about shallow things that you’re grateful for, like warm weather or food. Or you can get even deeper with it. Pick something or someone that’s really been frustrating you lately and find something about it/them that you can admire. Let’s say your spouse/parents/roommate is driving you nuts since they’ve been home during the lockdown. It’s pretty difficult to see the positive in the situation if they’ve brought in a negative “vibe” and are always complaining. If you let yourself stew on these details, it will produce a snowball effect until you’ve convinced yourself you hate them and they are the worst person on the planet. Now, take a few minutes to write a list about all of the things you love about that person and what they do. An example could be: they work hard, they look after me, they cook really good food and share it with me, they cuddle me at night, we have really good conversations, they know how to have fun, etc. Etc.

Now how do you see this person? They’re pretty great, right? So if that works for one person, imagine how well it could work for everything else in your life. I know gratitude isn’t going to pay your bills or make you healthy, or take away concrete issues but it can at least take away any unnecessary mental grief and put you in a more growth-oriented state of mind.

So, what does this have to do with Ramadan? Ramadan is a real struggle and often when we’re in the midst of stuff like this, it’s easy to lose sight of all the good around us. Instead we often focus on the negative like how hungry we are, which makes us annoyed at our loved ones, which plants anger in our hearts. This leads to ill thoughts and maybe even wrong actions or words towards someone. This takes away from the focus on our Deen and on Allah (SWT) which is the true meaning of Ramadan. To get the most out of it, it’s best to start with a greatful heart and mind so that we can make progress.

What are you greatful for? Let me know in the comments below!

Assalaamu alaikum!

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ramadan

Ramadan Countdown Day 14

Assalaamu alaikum, lovelies!

It is day 14 of our Ramadan Countdown which means it is officially two weeks till Ramadan, insha’Allah! Woop woop!

Today’s goal is to clean out and organize those playlists. I’m talking about music, TV, movies, audio books, YouTube videos, etc. Whatever media you are consuming, it’s time to make it halal for the holiest month of the year. Insha’allah by the end of today, I’ll have mine done and ready to go. I like to start off with Spotify. No judgment towards anyone who listens to music because I still listen to it sometimes as well. Alhamdulillah, I don’t nearly as much as I used to and I’m getting a lot better at listening to podcasts but it’s still a process.

So, since last year some songs have creeped up in my playlists that I’m thinking I don’t need in my life anymore. Instead, I’m going to be deleting them for good and creating brand new playlists comprised of nasheeds and educational Islamic and development-oriented podcasts. If you haven’t heard of them before, nasheeds are the Islamic equivalent of “worship music.” They are a Capella and most of the time sung in Arabic.

I’m doing this so that I only fill my head with halal and educational things as opposed to some guy talking about how much money he has and what he likes to do to women in his spare time. Thinking about it like that, I’m realising how trashy it all is.

Next, I like to set up my YouTube playlist with educational Islamic and self-development speeches and videos. This gives me something visual to turn to in my downtime. I love cartoons and it’s so tempting to sit back and chill with an episode or two when there’s nothing else to do, but Family Guy isn’t really going to keep me focused on deen. I’m not saying you can’t watch movies or TV during Ramadan, but I think it’s good to be mindful of the quality of the stuff we’re watching during the month. If it’s got a lot of haram going on, it feels kind of counterproductive to be watching it.

I also like to go through my phone and delete any memes, photos, videos or apps that might distract me from being my best, most productive self. This could be Snapchat or TikTok or any dirty joke memes someone keeps sending in the group chat. Anything that you feel addicted to or that puts unnecessary thoughts in your head can qualify for the bin.

What are you taking a break from this Ramadan? And what are you listening to/watching instead? Let me know in the comments below!

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ramadan

Ramadan Countdown Day 16

Assalaamu alaikum, lovelies!

It’s day 16 of our Ramadan Countdown and I’m starting to get really excited for next month. The weather is beautiful here in London as British summertime has finally kicked in. Alhamdulillah! With all of this sunshine and warmth, I’ve been spending lots of time outside. Despite the lockdown, we’ve managed to find plenty to do around the garden. It’s also been nice to go out for our once daily exercise and today, we chose the park. It was worth it; there were cherry trees lining the path we were walking, the sun was shining so bright, there was a nice little breeze going and it was practically perfect. I swear there really is nothing like summer in the UK. You can feel the happiness in the air; even now with all of the uncertainty and sadness, it still persists.

Today’s advice is going to be about health (again, I know). We should continue to strengthen our bodies and minds by getting outside (even if you’re stuck in your garden) and enjoy some physical activity. Do a home workout, run, garden, paint, soak in the sun, do whatever makes your body feel good. During Ramadan, as good as our intentions may be, physical activity is usually the last thing on our minds. Going without food and drink during the day is intense and your body can’t handle vigorous physical movement. Even going out in the sun feels precarious because all you end up feeling is thirsty.

Enjoy the outdoors as much as is safe for right now. Get your body up and moving. If there is anything that needs to be done around the house or garden, go ahead and tackle those projects now. My in laws and I spent most of our day gardening yesterday and I can honestly say that there is no way I’d be able to do any of that while fasting. If you don’t know where to start, make a list of most to least important and start from the top. If trees desperately need trimming before they start flowering, go ahead and trim them. Need to pressure wash the house? Do it now. Car needs maintenance? Roll up those sleeves!

I know this isn’t the most exciting step of Ramadan preparation for some, but I think it’s essential and definitely worth it in the end. And for those in the UK, it’s definitely the time of year to soak up that rare and beautiful sunshine. Like I’ve heard said many times, British people are the best in summertime because they know how to appreciate it. Could be true! I’m from the southern United States, and we just complain no matter what season it is.

Thank you so much for reading and check back tomorrow for day 16’s advice! Could it be life changing? Who knows. You’ll just have to see for yourself!

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