The Flavor of Taste

choco guitar

You know when you get so used to something enriching, it often unfortunately becomes a part of routine and hence is no longer appreciated?

Like the fact you walk. When you were only learning, you were probably very aware of your legs, of your focus in trying to keep balance, in your sense of pride as you managed to wobble across the room into your mother’s arms. Although your small baby brain didn’t register it as such, this amazing ability of human beings to balance themselves on two feet is an outstanding blessing.

But now, I’ll run up an entire staircase with my mind preoccupied on something totally unrelated, and then vaguely wonder how I managed not to trip; and then I think to myself, how did my legs take me where I wanted to go, even while I wasn’t consciously thinking of the destination? My legs got used to walking and long ago stopped waiting for my full attention to be focused on them in order to function.

Routine: it can turn something beautiful into something mundane, solely because thought is no longer given to it.

Now lately, since midterms and final exams are not weighing on my thoughts anymore, when I’m not reading or writing poetry on the buses and metros, I’ve taken to reflecting on basic things humans have, that we’ve become so immune to that we fail to realize we are living among God’s greatest miracles every second of our lives.

Taste was today’s subject of scattered thoughts.

fruits

CONTEXT:

My friend recommended me to try out Second Cup’s drink of “London Fog with soy milk and sugar”. I had no idea what that was, so she needed to write it down for me on paper and I read it out loud to the kind lady behind the cashier. It turned out to be a kind of tea with milk and foam and I added chocolate sprinkles and vanilla powder and sugar to the top.

My taste buds exploded. YUM!

It was ever so elegantly delicious and exquisite. The lyrics from a song burst out playing in my mind, “Wheeeeerrrre have you been… all my liiiiife… all my life?”

(All that is to say, it was pretty good.)

The thought then occurred to me that so often, we just take the gift of taste for granted. It’s like we assume we deserve to enjoy the experience of eating, when in reality feeding the body is not so much about pleasure as it is about survival.

And yet God gives us taste, because He wants us to  thank Him for allowing us to take pleasure in addition to merely surviving.

We could easily have been beings who could feel hunger and satisfy it with food, without really having different flavours to intensify the experience. But in His abundant Mercy and Love, God bestowed upon us the gift of taste.

We don’t really need meticulously picky taste buds to taste our food, in order to know that we are no longer starving to death and have been nourished. He could’ve given us one type of plant that contained all the vitamins and minerals necessary to have a strong healthy body. But God in His infinite wisdom gave us so much more than that, and so much more than we deserve…

Taste is one of the many flavors of life… May we discover the other flavors and appreciate them.

الحمد لله

cheesecake and coffee

A.S.

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Sky-Falling Gold

*You know it’s exam time when you blog twice a day. Something about academic examinations increases my appetite to write… de-stressing? – I never understood it. That’s IT, Aya; I’m getting Noor to change my password for the next two weeks. Sorry Mr. WordPress, I just need some space.

IT IS ALMOST MID-APRIL, spring supposedly- and yet it has been snowing all day today and tomorrow probably. Many Montreal folks are annoyed, because, well… snow, rain or anything wet falling from the sky is generally looked down upon as a bad and inconvenient thing. But what if we looked at falling water as falling gold?

Narrated Sahel Ibn Sa’ad (RA): that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said:

‘Two will not be rejected: Supplication when the Adhan (call of prayer) is being called, and at the time of the rain’. [Abu Dawud & ibn Majah] 

snowflake

(Written Apr.12/13, on the bus at 2:44 PM)

Sky-Falling Gold

~

Some complain of snow

Some complain of the cold

But what falls from the sky

Is much more golden than gold

Blessings from the sky

Yet we turn a blind eye

We instead express our disgust

When we could turn our sins into dust

We could pray to alleviate someone’s pain

But instead we scowl and frown on that rain

We could thank God instead of making a fuss

(It’s not like He’s throwing rocks down at us!)

A time to be grateful,

Yet we just complain

We could be making precious du’aa

For major beneficial gain

But it’s easier to grumble

Roll your eyes and shake your head

You may regret not taking advantage of this

When you’re long gone and dead

Don’t delay being

Grateful to your Lord

Let your heart live out

The ‘alhamdulileh’ word.

contemplative leaves

And Allah knows best.

A.S.

A Message In Motion: ﷺ

*I believe one of the biggest sources of ease referred to in the following verse is none other than the Prophet Muhammed himself. “Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you” (2:185 Quran).

ImageOnce upon a time, in the far desert of Arabia,

there lived a people that very much couldn’t be labelled as ‘enlightened’. Like every nation of people that had strayed from the truth, they lived by their own superstitions and rules, to the point that girls were considered shameful enough to be buried alive. It was a nation of  ignorance and dangerous arrogance; no one could find the meaning of life, all were lost in their own oppression. That is, until the Prophet Mohammad embraced his calling and surfaced with the timeless message of Islam… that there was only one God, and he, Mohammad, was Allah’s final Prophet. Islam was a whole new way of  life, a religion that refused any harmful teachings, that brightened up any path and that welcomed any person into it, regardless of the deeds of  the past.

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Suddenly there was a meaning of life; there was hope for the future;

“Verily man is in loss, except such as have faith, and do righteous deeds, and join together in the mutual enjoining of truth, and of patience and constancy” (103:2-3 Quran).

       We must ask ourselves, who is this Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him), that managed to spread the message of Islam from the desert of Arabia to every other continent? What was his personality like in order to attract all of his followers? (No blog post, or two, not one book, nor 10, nor an entire library can do justice to him!) He was the brightest of lights, the noblest of men, a perfectly wonderful walking Quran, the highest standard of being anyone can ever hope to acquire. And yet, despite the fact we can never attain his level of superiority, the least we can do is try. We can get close to certain characteristics and feel the blessings of living in simplicity & humility. And God willing, inshaAllah, with His mercy and compassion,

we will one day meet the Prophet and he will smile at us, a smile so serene and genuine because he knows you tried your best to manifest your love for him into actions, even if you failed multiple infinity times.

Now, here I am going to attempt to write, in a few clumsy words, one reason why I love the last & final beloved Prophet– but some things are best expressed  in silence because words will not explain an ounce of it. Nonetheless, I will try… and I will fail, without a doubt… but if it brings a smile to his face at my feeble efforts, it will be well worth the failure.

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The biggest blessing that has made the world easier to live in, to prosper and bring real meaning, is Islam. But Islam is not a word that fell from the heavens with no guidance and clear instruction. The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, did not simply convey a message, but he was the message in motion.

I am going to focus on one tiny statement that is surprisingly (and perhaps alarmingly) critical & necessary to our well-being, made up of just two words (in Arabic)

الحمدلله


We say ‘alhamdulileh’ a million times during the day, during prayer, as a response to ‘how are you’, maybe absent-mindedly said, etc. It means ‘all praise is due to God.’ But how much do we mean it? Has the meaning of it sunk in deeper than on the tips of our tongue? It is so thrillingly easy to say ‘alhamdulileh!’ when life is smooth, and everything is going exactly as you want it to. It becomes always “alhamdulileh! (Yes, with the exclamation mark at the end.)

Which is fantastic, of course, because indeed, all good things do come from Him!

But we know that gratitude to God should be at all times, the good and the “bad”, and we say it, too, all of us– but how often do we mean it? I mean, when you’re going through something rough, and someone asks you how’s life, you DO say ‘alhamdulileh.’ But deep down, are you really praising God with all your heart for the positive side of things– for blessing you with life, a beating heart, a sight-seeing pair of eyes, a nose that smells, ears that hear, just to name a few priceless treasures–

deep down, are you reminding yourself of His gifts even as you hurt?

(Don’t answer this to anyone, it’s no one’s business. Just think of it for yourself.)

ImageThe following passage from ‘Purification of The Heart’ by Hamza Yusuf really struck me… because although we hear of the Prophet’s trials and sufferings scattered here and there and everywhere,  to see a few of them condensed in one paragraph was mind-staggering, to say the least:

“It is important to look at the life of the Prophet PBUH and know that no one faced greater tribulation. The Prophet lived to see all of his children buried, except for Fatima. How many people experience that in their lifetime? Out of six children, he saw five of them perish. His father died before his birth. His mother died when he was just a boy. His guardian grandfather then died. When he received his calling, he saw his people turn against him with vehemence and brutality. People who had once honored him now slandered him, calling him a madman, liar, and sorcerer. They stalked him and threw stones at him until he bled. They boycotted him and composed stinging invectives against him. He lost his closest friends and relatives, like Hamza, who was killed on the battlefield. His beloved wife Khadija after 25 years of blissful marriage died during the Prophet’s most difficult moment. Abu Talib, his protecting uncle, also died. The Prophet PBUH was the target of 13 assassination attempts. How many people have faced all of that? Not once in a single hadith is there a complaint from him—except when beseeching his Lord.” 

And yet, while he went through all that (and his companions suffered similar trials)– while he went through that, and we self-absorb in our own lives making mountains out of moles– he still calls out “Ummati, ummati.”

On the Day when no one will consider save himself, he will be interceding for us.

Let me emphasize in case I am not being clear: before he, your father, and she, your mother, were born– before you or I or the idea of us ever existed–  hundreds & hundreds of years ago, there was a man who loved you for His sake already. He did not merely say it, but acted on it. He did not wait for you to love him, he took the first move and showed us what unconditional love looks like.

Come, let’s be sensible here:

Is there really any explanation needed for why a Muslim cannot be considered a true believer until he loves the Prophet more than himself?

The Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) was not just any man who did a few good deeds and died. He isn’t as dead as you might think.

WELL… Let me clarify that.

He may be dead in body, but his spirit continues to live on in the heart of every practicing Muslim, the one who has submitted to God in mind, body & soul.

As long as Islam is being practiced through the ways he has taught us- as long as the real Islam lives…

So will the Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him. ~

صلى الله عليه وسلم 

 

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-A.S.