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Category Archives: Not Mine, But With Due Credits

Write-ups or written work of other writers which has inspired me & is worth sharing

Only Once In Your Life…. (By Bob Marley)

This is for all those who have loved and lost. Love can come in your life & knock on your door many times. But the love Bob Marley mentions in this beautiful quote from him comes along but only once. Blessed are those who find such a love, and are lucky enough to be able to keep it. Those who lose it….well….at least they got to experience it. And those who never knew it never really lived a life worth living.

“Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find someone who can completely turn your world around. You tell them things that you’ve never shared with another soul and they absorb everything you say and actually want to hear more. You share hopes for the future, dreams that will never come true, goals that were never achieved and the many disappointments life has thrown at you. When something wonderful happens, you can’t wait to tell them about it, knowing they will share in your excitement. They are not embarrassed to cry with you when you are hurting or laugh with you when you make a fool of yourself. Never do they hurt your feelings or make you feel like you are not good enough, but rather they build you up and show you the things about yourself that make you special and even beautiful. There is never any pressure, jealousy or competition but only a quiet calmness when they are around. You can be yourself and not worry about what they will think of you because they love you for who you are. The things that seem insignificant to most people such as a note, song or walk become invaluable treasures kept safe in your heart to cherish forever. Memories of your childhood come back and are so clear and vivid it’s like being young again. Colours seem brighter and more brilliant. Laughter seems part of daily life where before it was infrequent or didn’t exist at all. A phone call or two during the day helps to get you through a long day’s work and always brings a smile to your face. In their presence, there’s no need for continuous conversation, but you find you’re quite content in just having them nearby. Things that never interested you before become fascinating because you know they are important to this person who is so special to you. You think of this person on every occasion and in everything you do. Simple things bring them to mind like a pale blue sky, gentle wind or even a storm cloud on the horizon. You open your heart knowing that there’s a chance it may be broken one day and in opening your heart, you experience a love and joy that you never dreamed possible. You find that being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure that’s so real it scares you. You find strength in knowing you have a true friend and possibly a soul mate who will remain loyal to the end. Life seems completely different, exciting and worthwhile. Your only hope and security is in knowing that they are a part of your life.”

You’re So Sensitive

“Farahnaz, you are too sensitive!” I have grown up listening to this sentence. I took it as a criticism but today I take it as a compliment. People have told me, all my life, that I am too sensitive for my own good. That my eye for detail and my noticing subtleties is not a good thing. That I need to be more practical. That I have more than 6 senses and that I read into things too deeply. I have wished for a huge part of my life to simply “STOP” being sensitive. I have fought with myself and tried to become something I am not. And eventually, I have stopped marginalizing myself for being so sensitive an individual. I have embraced myself for experiencing the gentle evening breeze or a hug or the tears of a street child or a piece of literature or poetry at a much enhanced level than many. It is not easy. It is exhausting at times. But I believe that those of us who have this “gift” also have the emotional stamina and strength to explore it and use to their own benefit, and that of others.

So there. I am out of the closet. Farahnaz IS sensitive. As are so many of my wonderful friends whom I naturally gravitate towards. Like my amazing, compassionate, warm childhood friend Uzma who shared the write-up by coach Cheryl Richardson I am pasting below. 

So stop judging and marginalizing yourself. Accept yourself for who you are, whether pragmatic or not. God created you the way you are for a reason. Enjoy who you are.

 “You’re So Sensitive” By Cheryl Richardson

When I was a little girl my dad used to call me Sarah Heartburn – a funny twist on the French movie actress Sarah Bernhardt – because I had a tendency to be a bit dramatic when things didn’t go my way. The truth was that I was a highly sensitive child. I cried easily, felt deeply hurt when kids called me names or made fun of me, and was prone to bouts of loneliness and a kind of sadness that I didn’t understand. It wasn’t until I read “The Highly Sensitive Person,” by Elaine Aron, as an adult, that I understood what was going on. It was one of those rare experiences when a book seems to put your whole life into perspective and you suddenly understand yourself in a brand new way.

For years I used to beat myself up for being sensitive. Like the little girl who felt too much, as a woman, I still cried easily, felt bowled over by too much stimulation – the kind that came from big crowds, bright lights and loud noises, and was deeply hurt by criticism and mean-spirited remarks. I hated being sensitive – loathed it, in fact, until a conversation with Thomas, my coach at the time, changed everything.

I had given one of my first speeches on coaching and had received criticism on an evaluation for how I presented my ideas. The review was harsh and the pain of it stayed with me for days. During our call, I described the feedback to Thomas, saying, “I hate that I’m so affected by this stuff. You can’t believe what’s gone on in my head since I read that review – ’I suck as a speaker, forget about doing this for a living, stick to being a coach, kid.’ I’m just too sensitive and I hate it!” Thomas listened thoughtfully as I continued on about how upset I was and when I finished, he delivered one of his classic one-liners that shifted my perspective. “You know, Cheryl,” he said, “the way I see it, your sensitivity is your greatest gift. It’s gotten you to where you are today and it’s what makes you a great coach. If I were you I’d protect this gift rather than hate it.”

Protect my sensitivity? Now there was a concept I never considered before. The idea that my sensitivity might be a blessing rather than a curse encouraged me to think about it in a new way. There certainly were benefits. As a child and as an adult, my sensitivity translated into a keenly perceptive ability to read people. With a tilt of the head, a blink of an eye, or a slight shift in tone of voice, I often knew what someone was thinking or feeling. This ability developed over time into a finely tuned intuitive knowing that allowed me to be quite effective as a coach and teacher. I could anticipate people’s needs. I often knew what a student needed before they knew themselves. As I listened carefully to a client who was trying to find his or her way, I could see a path form in front of them showing us both which direction to go in. And I often found myself choosing – with my heart, not my head – the exact words someone needed to hear.

My sensitive side also caused me to feel deeply connected to nature, animals, birds, music, and art. These qualities and experiences of sensitivity are certainly not unique to me. We all possess a level of sensitivity that, when taken seriously and protected, can open us to a rich and satisfying experience of life. When we’re sensitive, we’re better able to see beauty everywhere and in everything – from flowers to weeds, in joyous experiences and in the poignantly sad ones as well. Sensitive people also tend to be empathetic – kind and compassionate people who can easily put themselves in the shoes of another. They naturally become sensitive to the feelings of others and, as a result, care about how their actions affect the world.

My decision to protect my sensitivity rather than disown it, was one of the most influential acts of Extreme Self-Care I’ve ever taken in my life. It gave me permission to be myself – on a soul level – in spite of what the world around me said I should be. And here’s an interesting thing: As I learned to protect my sensitivity, it did the opposite of what I expected. Rather than leave me feeling like a pincushion in a world full of pins, it actually made me stronger and better able to use my gifts. Becoming aware of what I needed to safeguard this gift allowed me to take it out of the box when I wanted so I could use it to my advantage. When you begin making choices that support your sensitive, feeling side, you create the sensory safety you need to open more fully to rich experiences and the beautiful nuances of life. You allow your creativity to flourish, your intuitive muscles to kick in, and you gain access to your heart, connecting you with humanity in a deeper, more intimate way.

“Women, like the flowers of spring, adorn our lives” – On Women’s Day, Imam Zaid Shakir – On Great Muslim Women


The Best of Women

By Imam Zaid on 04 March 2012
Category: Civility

March 8, 2012 has been designated as International Women’s Day. The day has been set aside to celebrate the social, economic and political accomplishments of women. March is a most appropriate month for such a celebration. In the Northern Hemisphere, March signals the arrival of spring and the blossoming flowers whose colors and fragrances announce the rebirth of the land. Women, like the flowers of spring, adorn our lives and have been chosen by Almighty God to deliver into the world the young souls whose presence marks the regeneration of our human family.

Usually, when western Muslims speak of women and Islam, we speak of the rights and opportunities Islam afforded women in the economic, social and political realms long before similar developments occurred in Christendom. There is nothing wrong with such a narrative and it helps to normalize Islam to people in the west, both converts and others who are seeking to better understand a sometimes controversial world religion.

Hence, we will begin by mentioning some famous Muslim women, whose exploits reflect the lofty social status Islam afforded to women. The accomplishments of women among the Companions of the Prophet, in this regard, are well-known. Khadija’s financial and moral support to the Prophet and his mission were critical to the success of the fledgling Muslim community. Aisha’s learning and leadership gave her a standing in the early community that rivals that of her male contemporaries. Umm Salama’s wisdom and decisiveness broke the impasse that confronted the believers at Hudaybiya. Nusayba’s heroic defense of the Prophet, peace upon him, during the height of the Battle of Uhad, is legendary. Hafsa, the daughter of Umar bin al-Khattab, at the time of her father’s death, was entrusted with the protection of the standardized rendition of the Qur’an, considered by some to have been the greatest trust ever vouchsafed to anyone in the history of the Muslim community.

The erudition, wisdom, courage and vision of these and many other women among the Companions of the Prophet has lived on in the lives of successive generations of Muslim women.  For example, Amra bint Abdul Rahman, a jurist, mufti and hadith scholar was one the greatest scholars of the second generation of Muslims. The Umayyad Caliph, Umar bin Abdul Aziz, a great scholar in his own right, said, “No one remains alive who is more learned in the Hadith of Aisha than Amra.” She was highly praised by al-Zuhri, Yahya bin Ma’in, ibn Madini, Ibn Hibban and many others who recognized her erudition, especially in the area of hadith.

Amra exemplified a tradition of scholarly excellence among women, which continued throughout the centuries. During the 8th Hijri Century, there appeared a great scholar in Damascus whose lessons would draw students from all over the Muslim world. Aisha bint Muhammad bin Abdul Hadi was known to have possessed the shortest chain of narration back to the Prophet, peace upon him, of any scholar alive during her time. Among her students was Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, considered the greatest of all latter-day Hadith scholars. He is reported to have read dozens of books with her and to have received the Hadith of Mercy (al-Musalsal b’il Awwaliyya) from her.

Other women were known for their great linguistic prowess. In more recent times, we can mention the example of Aisha Ismat bint Isma’il Taymur, who passed away in Egypt in 1902. Educated in both the linguistic and religious sciences, she became one of the leading literary figures of her time. A master of Arabic, Turkish and Persian, she embodied the Egyptian-Ottoman culture that dominated Egyptian intellectual life during the latter half of the 19th Century. She published lengthy collections of poetry in Arabic and Turkish, wrote for many of the leading literary magazines of her day and was a staunch advocate for female education. Although she was not known for her religious poetry, she was known to be a woman of great piety.

As Muslims, we cannot limit our appreciation of women to their social, economic and political accomplishments. Many women throughout the history of our community are famous for their devotional acts and the high spiritual stations they attained. Rabia al-Adawiyya is well-known in this regard, however, there are many others who are largely unknown. One such woman is well-known by name, but most Muslims know very little about her life. She is Sayyida Nafisa. The daughter of al-Hasan bin Zayd bin al-Hasan bin Ali bin Abi Talib, she was born in Mecca in 145 AH. She grew up in Medina, but spent her later years in Egypt where she is buried.

Sayyida Nafisa was a scholar of repute, having memorized the Qur’an and mastered the exegetical sciences. It is said that Imam al-Shafi’i, whom she greatly respected, studied hadith with her after his arrival in Egypt. She was most known for her devotion and piety. She fasted perpetually, prayed the entirety of the night, constantly recited the Qur’an and frequently wept out of fear and longing for God. She performed thirty pilgrimages to Mecca. She was also blessed with considerable wealth and spent freely on the sick, poor and downtrodden. She was also a financial supporter of Imam Shafi’i during his time in Egypt.

Sayyida Nafisa was known to be a source of great blessings. Once, she was left to care for the invalid daughter of her Christian neighbors who left their house to go to the marketplace. When she saw the bedridden child she began fervently praying for her cure. No sooner had she finished her prayer did the young girl regain the use of her limbs and was able to walk to the door to greet her parents upon their return. The entire family then became Muslims.

At the end of her life she fell ill. Her attendants beseeched her to cease fasting for the sake of her health. She replied, “For thirty years I have fasted asking Allah that I meet Him while I am fasting. Am I to break my fast now [while I am close to the meeting]? Never!” She recited Sura al-An’am during the still of that night until she reached the verse, “They will have the Abode of Peace in the presence of their Lord, while He is their loving protector, because of the righteous deeds they used to do (6:127).” She then uttered the Testimony of Faith and quietly passed away.

As we celebrate International Women’s day let us celebrate this aspect of femininity. Islam certainly advocates for a balanced social order where there is space for the contributions of men and women. However, its primary purpose is to prepare human beings to succeed when we meet our Lord. Ultimately, we are living for the Hereafter, not this world.

In this regard, as we strive to accomplish the worldly objectives demanded by our social, economic and political situations, let us never forget that there are overarching otherworldly objectives that we should never lose sight of. Let us celebrate the likes of Sayyida Nafisa and other great women who reminded us so powerfully of those otherworldly objectives. Let us further consider that perhaps the best way we can celebrate their lives is to aspire to live as they lived.

Reprinted from EMEL Magazine: