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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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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Self Love Sunday, Series, Uncategorized

Self Love Sunday

Today, we’re going to talk about the fantasy self.

What’s a fantasy self, Nahlah?

I’m glad you asked! A fantasy self as I’ve come to understand it (aka can’t be bothered to Google it) is a version of ourselves that we create based off of who we think or who others think we should be. This can look like you wanting to be a doctor because your parents want you to. It can also look like you trying to get into painting because you like the idea of yourself as an artist. It could also be that you force yourself to be the life of the party because that’s what your friends expect of you.

What is the reality behind all of this? You don’t really want to be a doctor, you want to go into cosmetology. You get so bored with painting and would rather spend that time playing ball. You’re not the life of the party at all, but a homebody who’s idea of a real good time is spoken word poetry night. These are just a few examples, but this idea of the fantasy self can apply to literally everything down to the clothes in your closet. You know you aren’t going to wear that jumper because it’s not you, but someone complimented it once and you see yourself being the type to wear it.

The problem with the fantasy self is that we waste time stressing out and trying to be someone that we’re not. Instead, we can own up to who we really are, what we really like, what we really want to do and be so much more fulfilled; not to mention successful.

So, how do you even distinguish between your fantasy self and the authentic you?

There is no magic process. I did it by sitting myself down with a notebook and writing out basic questions to answer. I won’t say to put the first answer that comes to mind because a lot of times, we’ve conditioned ourselves to give the replies our fantasy selves would give instead of what we really want to say. I like to start with simple questions. It’s kind of cringey, but I will ask myself what my favourite colour is, what kind of movies I like, what my favourite food is, etc. It’s like playing 20 questions with yourself, you’ll feel like you’re on a first date. Starting out with the basics helps you get into the habit of being honest with yourself because there’s not much to lose. It’s a lot easier to admit that your favourite colour has been yellow all along and not blue, as opposed to you realizing that you want to style hair 5 years into attending medical school. This sounds silly but trust me, it gets you where you need to go.

You have to come to a place where 1) you own up to who you are and 2) you’re in tune with your feelings. I used to have this thing where I wanted to be a really artistic intellectual person through the types of movies I watched and the books I read. So I would force myself to watch independent films and I would buy all these classic books to read. The reality was that I was so bored trying to get into independent films and I never picked up those classic books. At my core, I was fighting against that version of myself and it was obvious if I paid attention to the feeling in the pit of my stomach (best described as bored nausea).

Where did this side of myself come from? It came from growing up as a creative child. I was always making stuff and writing things and painting. My parents ran with it and I was always described as artistic and was close friends with many artists in school. Am I still an artist? Yes, but in a different way. And you don’t have to be into obscure films or literature to be an artist. I like cartoons, okay? Let me live.  

It’s time to confront this fantasy version of ourselves. If we can fully realize who we really are, we will be a lot happier Insha’Allah. We won’t be wasting any more time and energy trying to run in the wrong direction. This is also a topic that has become a pretty popular discussion within the YouTube community, so if you want to know more you can find plenty of videos on the topic over there!

I wish you the best!

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ramadan

Ramadan Countdown Day 15

Assalaamu alaikum, lovelies!

Today is day 15 and I want to take a break from all the physical preparations and focus on the mental. What do you want out of this Ramadan? I know that the main focus is to worship Allah (SWT) and strengthen our Deen, but it is also a time for personal reflection and growth in all other areas of our lives. So, what are your goals for this month? Who do you want to be at the end of it?

Take time to write out a list of what you want to do. It could be reading more books, memorising Quran, being more productive with your time, cutting out trashy entertainment, working on your personality, etc. And now think about what steps you need to take to get there.

I hope that the pandemic will subside before then, insha’Allah, but if it doesn’t, many of us will continue to have more free time on our hands to do with as we please. This way we have as much time to accomplish what we want to do as long as we’re in good health, have the resources we need, and are not working or working less.

One of my goals this Ramadan is to learn to read Quran. I’m getting there slowly but surely and I’m really excited to continue learning. Insha’allah, I will be able to read it fluently by Eid. What are your Ramadan goals? Let me know below in the comments!

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Self Love Sunday, Series, Uncategorized

Self Love Sunday

Assalaamu alaikum, lovelies!

Today is the second instalment of the Self Love Sunday series and I want to talk about an attitude adjustment. This is something that I believe most of us have struggled with at one point in our lives and apart from being told to get over it, there aren’t many helpful resources on how to get to the root of the issue. I’ve struggled with this myself and it’s been really frustrating trying to figure it out but I think I’m getting there. So, I’ve put together a little list below of what I’ve learned so far. This is a crucial step to self love. When we can come from a positive, easy-going, selfless mentality we make life easier for ourselves and those around us. Our relationships can succeed, our projects can flourish, and our impact can be lasting. Check it out and let me know what you think!

1) Say no to your insecurities

Insecurities lead to overthinking and sensitivity, which can cause to distrust and push others away. They make you can “energy vampire” and a burden to be around. Will cause you to react to the stories you create in your head and will cause confusion amongst everyone around you as well as put you on the path to relationship destruction. Ways to overcome your insecurities are: remember that people are not out to get you; learn that you teach people how to treat you; focus on yourself and what you’re doing rather than being nosy about others and focusing everyone else; put time into developing your accomplishments and life experiences to build confidence.

2) Control your emotions

Catering to emotions can lead to taking things personally and becoming defensive. In order to defend yourself and fight back, the attitude comes in for the kill. While your so-called “enemy” (really just a friend in the mood for a laugh) teased you good naturedly, you responded with a hurtful comment thereby taking the fun out of the moment and putting a chip in the relationship. How to even begin to reign in the wild wave of emotions? Practice patience and do not react right away. Remember that these are simply words and they can’t harm you, so there is no need to defend yourself. Don’t take anything personally. If you have to fake it till you make it, go ahead. Remember that it is not you vs. the world (or your friends/family/spouse) but a moment; whether this moment ends up being good or bad is up to you. Look into the stoic philosophy. It’s a fairly simple one that can be summed up by embracing a certain level of apathy, detaching from one’s emotions, and preparing for the worst while also taking nothing personally.

3) Be grateful

Every morning, write a list of what you’re grateful for about a person or situation that has been pushing your buttons. Choose to see the bright side in every situation (don’t ignore reality but don’t wallow in it either). This will also help you realign your priorities and get out of the self-centred mentality. When something doesn’t go your way, be grateful for something else instead!

4) Stick to your mindfulness practice

Praying five times a day, zikr, meditation, journaling, working out without music/entertainment, etc. Do these things every day, no excuses. Try to make this routine the first thing you do when you wake up so you get off to a good start. Become intentional about every word you say and every action you take. Learn to withhold reaction and separate yourself from the situation. Practice thinking before you speak. As the saying goes, “Be quick to hear, and slow to speak.” Saves you every time.

5) Embrace new challenges (and old) and find ways to make a positive impact

Taking on challenges builds character and doing good for others realigns perspective and priorities. Activities like these teach valuable lessons on selflessness, teamwork, perseverance, patience, positivity, generosity, compassion, and kindness. It also gives you meaning outside of yourself which will help put you in the right mindset to move forward and be the best version of yourself.

You can have a bad attitude and not even know it. It may only come out around a certain person or rare situation. Having a growth mentality will not help us avoid that person/situation but will allow us to recognize them as a challenge that brings out a toxic trait within ourselves that needs to be addressed. My husband brings out a lot of good in me but he also pushes just the right buttons to bring out my bad attitude some days. Before meeting him, I didn’t get a lot of opportunities to overcome this bad habit in myself because the opportunity for it rarely show up. When it did make an appearance, I just chalked it up to a bad day. I lived on my own, I was single, and nothing too serious was going on in my life that caused me so much stress that it spilled out into my relationships, alhamdulillah. But relationships with other people are essential for self-development. When you’re close with people, they show you all sides of yourself (not just the good parts). After meeting my husband, it became apparent that I had been spoiled a little bit in life and needed to work on how to respond to frustration and someone challenging me in a perfectly normal way. I had to figure out how to deal with stress when someone else is involved.

It’s been a long road and I can honestly say that I wasn’t the best version of myself. But that’s okay because we all have those moments in life. What matters is that we keep pushing forward, always with a growth mentality. What I’m grateful for is that I have Islam to show me the way, I have an amazing husband who keeps it real, and I have a lot of really cool opportunities to put into practice what I’ve learned. Subhan’Allah.

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Thoughts, Uncategorized

Hijama & My First 1.5 Years as a Muslim

It has been a little under 2 years since I became Muslim, subhan’Allah. I can hardly believe it has already been that long and how much has happened. I am so grateful for what life has been like since then. The only thing I would maybe change would be to revert sooner, but then my life experiences before this stage are just as important to my development as this has been. There was so much I had to process and cleanse out of myself mentally during this time. That’s the thing about personal growth and life change, it’s never really smooth sailing. When you stay in the same place, physically or mentally, everything seems pretty great and sometimes it’s hard to see a reason for why we should change if it will be too much trouble. The more I learned about Islam and the more I adapted my life to my beliefs, the more work on myself I realised needed to get done.

Embracing Islam and diving into this trans-formative journey really brought out a lot of inner demons and muck that I had stuffed way way down over time. I couldn’t understand why I was an emotional wreck, why I felt so anxious and depressed, why I felt so messed up. There was so much dissatisfaction and shame with who I was, who my family was, what my life had been so far. So many insecurities and doubts and a general feeling of being stuck in a deep pit of failure that I was so unsure of how to climb back out. Very similar to deep cleaning your room after who knows how long. It makes you want to give up after the first 30 minutes, doesn’t it?

But I had to get this stuff all cleaned out and dealt with or it would eat me alive. I had to come to peace with so much that I was allowing to be a big deal when it was just part of reality. I had to let go of bad habits and damaging, self-sabotaging behaviour that, until I opened the closet door, had stayed hidden away under the surface always influencing but never showing itself completely. My first real relief from it all came with hijama.

Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said: “Indeed in cupping (hijama) there is a cure.” {Saheeh Muslim (5706)}

You know how you hear people raving about something and you think to yourself, “It can’t be that good”, then you try it out for yourself and realise, it really is that good? That was what hijama was like for me. I went into that clinic thinking that I’d just have a fun experience and probably wouldn’t do it again to walking out on air. I’m trying not to sound over-dramatic but I was literally transformed. Burdens and obsessive thoughts and feelings that I hadn’t been able to shake for years had just fallen away completely. I felt so free. I felt so normal and level-headed, that was the best part. This is something I would highly recommend doing for all new Muslims and Muslims who have never tried it. She only did my sunnah points and hormonal point but what a drastically wonderful difference it made.

And it’s lasted. With so much of the big stuff cleared out of my mind, I’m able to finally put in effective work on my relationships with those around me and myself, my deen, my goals, my interests, my health. So many passions have come back to light up my life after being bogged down. I feel like the woman who I’ve been trying to become for so long. It’s a job I have to do everyday, I don’t get to sit back and relax while perfection just rains down on me. I’m still finding things about myself that I will tweak and I’m still having to stay mindful of my thoughts and actions towards myself and others. It’s all a process but I’m finally making some progress. Of course, I have so much more to do and learn but I’m really happy right now with where I find myself.

I believe that if you really want to see transformation. you have to go through a little bit of chaos for a minute. They say it always gets worse before it gets better which I found to be so true. So don’t get discouraged if your first year as a Muslim finds you in the midst of all kinds of trials. Becoming a better person is not in the interest of shaytaan or your old self. You’ll fight yourself, you’ll face obstacles, you’ll feel like a crazy person. You never felt this way before because you weren’t trying to disturb the beast. But you have now and it’s rearing it’s ugly heard for you to get a good look at. Don’t run away from it though because it’s so much simpler to conquer than it seems. You just need to be persistent, stick to your deen, and place all of the control and trust in Allah (SWT). And go get cupping done, seriously.

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