Musings of a Muslimah, Reflections

My Favourite Duas

Ramadan is only a few days away and I wanted to share some of my favourite duas to read in my prayers. These supplications have helped me in my most difficult times and I hope they are of benefit to you too.

Dua to read on laylatul qadr:

Allahumma innaka afuw-wun tuhibul afwa fa-fu-annee

O Allah you are the forgiving you love to forgive so forgive me

Ibn Majah

Dua for when something is difficult:

Allahumma la sahla illa ma ja’altu sahlan wa anta taj-alul hazna iza shi’ta sahlan

O Allah! There is nothing made easy except what you make easy and you make difficult easy if it be your will.

Ibn Hibban

Dua for beneficial knowledge:

Allahumma innee asaluka ilman naa-fi-an

O Allah! I ask you for knowledge that is of benefit

Ibn Majah

Dua for anxiety:

Allahumma inne a’uzu bika minal-hammi wal-hazani wal-ajzi wal-kasali wal-bukhli wal-jubni wa zala id’daini wa ghalabatir-rijaali

O Allah! I take refuge in you from anxiety and sorrow, from weakness and laziness, from miserliness and cowardice, from the burden of debts and from being overpowered by men

Al Bukhari

Dua for steadfastness in faith:

Ya muqallibal-qulub thabbit qalbi ‘ala deenak

O Controller of hearts make firm my heart in your religion

Tirmmidhi

Dua for when in difficulty:

La ilaha illah anta subhaanaka innee kuntu minazzalimeen

There is no deity except you, glory be to you, indeed I have been of the wrongdoers

Quran (21:87)

Dua for good in this world and the next:

Rabbana aatina fi’d-dunya hasana wa fil aakhirati hasana wa qia azaban-naar

Our lord grant us good in this world and in the hereafter and protect us from the torment of hell

Quran (2:201)

Dua to ask Allah to accept our worship:

Rabbana taqqabbal minnaa innaka antas-samee’ul aleem

Our Lord accept (this) from us indeed you are the hearing the knowing

Quran (2:127)

Dua for a house in paradise:

Rabbibnee lee a’indaka baytan fil jannati

My Lord build for me near you a house in paradise

Quran (66:11)

Dua for confidence:

Rabbish rahli sadri wa yassirli amri wahlul ‘uqdatum-mil-lisani yaf-qa-hu qawli

My Lord expand my breast for me and ease for me my task and untie the knot from my tongue that they may understand my speech

Quran (20:25-28)

Dua for repentance:

Rabbana zalamna anfusana wa il-lam taghfir lana wa tarhamna lana ku-nanna minal-khasireen

Our Lord we have wronged ourselves and if you don’t forgive us and have mercy upon us we will surely be among the losers

Quran (7:23)

Dua to be steadfast in prayer:

Rabbij’alni muqeemas-salaati wa min dhurriyaati rabbana wa taqabbal dua

My Lord make me an establisher of prayer and (many) from my descendants our Lord accept my supplication.

Quran (14:40)

There are so many more incredible duas and I recommend using the Fortress of a Muslim and also the app myduaa for more duas.

Musings of a Muslimah, Reflections

International Women’s Day – Islam and Feminism

So it’s international women’s day and this year I thought I would try to share my thoughts on Islam and Feminism and what it means to me. This is an area that I am incredibly passionate about and will often speak up about these things regarding issues both with how Muslim women are perceived in the wider community and the treatment of women within Muslim communities.

Islam and feminism is a topic that ignites many varying opinions and I often find myself having long discussions with people about this. Some Muslims believe there is no space for feminism in Islam and some believe that it is the way forward and there are many opinions that range from one end of the spectrum to the other. This is also affected by what the word feminism means to each person and how they interpret it. Me, personally, I am somewhere in the middle.

For me feminism is fighting for justice for all women and people all over the world. However, to me justice and equality isn’t the same thing. Being equal doesn’t necessarily make things just. So I will advocate for justice for all. This to me is exactly what Islam teaches. Islam teaches that we must treat everyone with justice and any act of oppression is sinful and every person who was treated unjustly will get their justice whether it is in this world or the next. This has always brought me peace to know that Allah is The Just and that He will always make sure that we are all given our justice. So for me feminism and Islam go hand in hand.

I can however see why many have issues with calling themselves a feminist, the media perpetuates a single type of feminism and many of us have encountered people who believe in this type and that we must all adhere to this or we aren’t feminists. This type is white feminism and I truly hate this brand of feminism. It only advocates for certain women who look like them and that we must all believe in these beliefs. I have been told by white feminists that to truly be free I must take off my hijab and my refusal to do so is in fact internalised misogyny. They don’t think that women can have different views on what is empowerment for them. For many this is the only view of feminism they have seen and so are obviously hesitant to call themselves feminists and be linked to this brand of feminism.

Islam has given women so many rights and yet all we see are the narrative that Muslim women are submissive and oppressed. This is the only narrative the media is willing to show everyone and yet when you actually look at Muslim women we are excelling in so many areas. Yes, there are those who want to keep us submissive and do so in the name of our faith but that doesn’t mean it is the reality of so many of us. It is an issue all over the world no matter what culture or religion you come from. Yet Muslim women are often singled out, even though Muslims come from all walks of life and cultures.

When you look at what Islam actually says about women you will see that we are given such a high status in our faith and we have so many rights from owning property, education, working, our money is ours and so much more. We are to be treated with the utmost respect and when you see Muslim women throughout history you will see they were incredible women. They were scholars, warriors, queens, scientists and more. They were feisty and opinionated and fought for what they believed in. They were not these submissive meek women that people today would have us believe.

Over the years I realised that this is a battle on two fronts, one is the wider society and media that will perpetuate a single harmful narrative and the other is that there are people within the Muslim community who want to keep that patriarchal society where women are controlled by the men in their lives as this is what benefits these men. But more and more we are seeing change, we are seeing that there are so many incredible women excel in so many ways. And at the end of the day whether women choose to study, work or decide to stay at home, be a full time mother (les face it this is a whole full time job) it should be these women’s choices. Not something that is enforced upon them.

For me the more I learnt about Islam and women in Islam the more empowered I felt. I knew my rights, I knew what Islam said about women and it helped me to actually build a better relationship with Allah. I learnt about justice in Islam and how everyone will get their justice for any form of oppression that happens to them and that this is why we need to be extra careful in how we treat people (and even animals and plants) because we will be held accountable for our actions. I spent time learning about Islamic history and especially women throughout history and I was left in awe of how incredible these women were.

My journey started with learning about Khadijah (ra) who was the first person to become Muslim and was the wife of the Prophet (pbuh). She has been my role model since I was a teen and she has been the person who has truly shaped who I am today. She taught me so much and in many ways she saved me. Growing up in a culture that treated women as less, despite that Islam advocates for justice and equality in treatment towards men and women. I felt suffocated at times and it made me push away from my culture and faith but after I learnt about her and how she was a successful businesswoman and did so much for her community, known as the Princess of Quraysh and still perfected her faith. For her there was no contradiction in fighting for justice for women and her faith and it made me re-evaluate and go and learn more which lead me down the path I am on today.

I will continue to advocate for justice for women both within our communities and share how incredible Muslim women are through the blog posts I write and more. I will continue to learn and grow and my journey will continue to change me because I know that the person I was 10 years ago isn’t the person I am now.

If you want to learn more about Muslim women throughout history, I share a monthly blog post series about them. You can find it here.

I have also written a whole post about Khadijah (ra) and how much she means to me which you can read here.

Lifestyle, Reflections

What Feminism Means To Me – International Women’s Day

Over the years feminism and I have had a love hate relationship. I have slowly developed a relationship with the term even though I have been a strong advocate for female empowerment since I was teen. It’s just that word, feminism, and everything that comes with that word, that I haven’t always been on good terms with.

Anyone who knows me will know that I am always advocating for female empowerment whether it’s through discussing how important having access to a good education is important for women to talking about stigma’s in society that creates injustices for women. As I am part of the south Asian community, I especially discuss how certain cultural practices harm women and should be stopped. I have had to fight these barriers and stigmas growing up so I fight against them to help my sisters to help my cousins to help those who are younger than me so they don’t have to grow up with the same stigmas.

Yet do I call myself a feminist? I have gone from calling myself a feminist proudly to distancing myself from it to saying yes I am a feminist but not one that the media shows to so much more. Basically, it’s complicated. It’s complicated because I am a brown, Pakistani, Muslim woman who wears a hijab. I don’t “look” like a feminist. What does a feminist look like anyways?

Well mainstream media will have you believe that a feminist is a white middle class woman and I clearly don’t fit that description. I call that white feminism. It’s a type of feminism I hate because there is no space for women who don’t look like or have the same opinions as them. It’s women like these who made me want to distance myself from the term.

I have been told that I NEED to take my hijab off to be “liberated” and how they feel so sorry for me because of how I am “forced” to dress and when I tried explaining I did in fact choose to wear what I wear, I was told I don’t understand, it’s just internalised misogyny. Safe to say that we did not become friends.

After a while as I got older, I realised that actually female empowerment doesn’t only look the way that they say it does. As I studied Islam more I found that the religion is so empowering for women. It made me even more passionate about speaking up about female empowerment. I realised that a lot of the cultural practices go against what Islam teaches. I changed, I grew, I taught others around me and although the elders still cling to their cultural practices I have found that the youth fight for their rights, especially young women. For example, girls are often not allowed to go into higher education yet in Islam it is compulsory for every man, woman and child to be educated so women knowing this means they can fight to be able to study further.

Another reason that I have a complicated relationship with feminism is because of a lack of women we are shown as empowered that look like me. The last few years especially, I have noticed that a lot of feminist books are being published yet there is still no sign of women who look like me. Most of the women are white and if there is a Muslim woman included it is always Malala, no offence to her but in 1400 years of Islamic history is she really the only woman that is worthy of being included? It’s actually made me stop reading these types of books unless I know that more diverse women are included. I ended up doing my own research into Muslim women and the results were astounding, since the beginning of Islam women have been a part of all areas of society, from warriors to doctors to scholars to rulers and so much more. It’s these women who encompassed all parts of my life who became my role models.

So yes, I am a feminist and I think it’s time we broadened our idea of what feminism is, because it means different things to different people and they are all valid. I can wear a hijab and be empowered, I can follow my religion and be empowered. In fact I feel more empowered because of my religion. I will continue to learn and grow but I will always fight for female empowerment.

Booksish Discussions, Reflections

What Made Me A Reader – World Book Day 2020

Was there a book you remember reading that made you the bookworm that you are now? I have loved reading for as long as I can remember. But I remember that reading The Magic Faraway Tree was what cemented my love for reading. I read that book so many times that I can still remember parts of the book and the illustrations even though I haven’t looked at the book in years.

I remember my parents taking all 5 of us sisters to the library every Saturday morning and me basically just spending hours there reading and finding new books to fall in love with. I found so many of my favourite childhood books in the library. From The Secret Seven, Artemis Fowl, Alex Rider, Cirque Du Freak and so much more. All 5 of us sisters are readers now because of how much time we spent around books.

Our parents are also readers so that I also helped us to become readers as books were always part of our life. Our parents books filled our house and my parents house has bookcases upon bookcases in every room and we still moved our parents older books in the attic as they don’t read as much now as they used to so we could make space for our books.

As all 5 of us were readers and have similar tastes in books we would discuss books together and especially us 3 older ones as teens would all fight over who would get to read the single copy our dad bought us first. I won because I am the oldest (it’s one of the few privileges the eldest has and I took full advantage). We fangirled about Harry Potter in our teens and discussed theories and had heated debates about our favourite characters.

Even now as we all read similar books we will still stay up late discussing and arguing about books and have all the bookish discussions. It’s like having our own book club. We also recommend (read: force) each other to read our favourite books so we can discuss it with them and we go to book events together and YALC too.

I know that for me being surrounded by books and growing up having my sisters to discuss books with has made me the reader that I am.

Reflections

10 Things You Can Do In Ramadan If You Can’t Fast

Following on from my previous post about how I am no longer able to fast in Ramadan, I thought I would share some things that I can still do. Especially as I know there are many people who, like me, are unable to fast. Whether it’s because of health reasons or because many women will be on their period at some point and unable to fast then.

There are so many reasons as to why people can’t fast but here are things we can all do regardless of whether we are fasting or not, to be able to increase in our worship and gain that closeness to Allah.

1 Read the Quran – try reading on a daily basis, even if it just a few pages a day. For every letter you read you get rewarded. It is what will help you gain that connection to Allah because He is talking directly to you through the Quran.

2 Listen to the Quran recitation – you can play the Quran recitation during your commute to and from work or any other time during the day especially if you cannot physically pick up the Quran to read at the time.

3 Read the translation of the Quran – read it in a language you understand best. For me, that’s English. I read the Sahih International version as I find that easiest to understand. It will help you to understand the Quran so much better.

4 Read the tafsir of the Quran – the translation only gives us a superficial knowledge of what the Quran is teaching us but reading or watching a lecture on tafsir will give you a much deeper understanding. For reading I recommend Ibn Kathir and listening, I recommend Omar Suleiman or Nouman Ali Khans lectures which are available on YouTube

5 Dhikr – remembering Allah throughout the day and is probably the most easiest form of worship to do. You can recite Alhamdulillah, Subhanallah, Allah Hu Akbar while you are at work, driving, cooking basically doing almost anything.

6 Dua – there are so many duas we can learn and recite and I highly recommend picking a few and making it a goal to learn and implement these. It can be anything from the dua to enter your house or a dua for ease in your studies. Fortress of a Muslim is a great book to have and small enough to fit in your pocket. There are also special times when dua is most accepted so we can make the most of our worship by praying especially in these times. The last third of the night, laylatul qadr, at the time of breaking the fast are some of these times.

7 Increase in Islamic Knowledge – pick a topic you want to learn more about and focus on learning something new about it. It could be anything learning about the Prophet (saw) or the mothers of the believers or self improvement or anything else. Learning more will help us to gain that connection with Allah. It can be reading, audio, watching lectures, attending a course.

8 Making Istighfar – seeking forgiveness is something we are all taught we should do regularly. None of us are perfect so our worship won’t be perfect. We forget, we make mistakes, we commit sins. And so we should also seek forgiveness for those.

9 Feed a fasting person – if we can’t fast we can still help those who are fasting. Maybe make something and give it to a neighbour or send money through a charity so they can provide food for those who fast and can’t afford to buy food to open their fast. We gain the reward for feeding a fasting a fasting person.

10 Give in charity or volunteer for a charity – we are always more generous in Ramadan, and there are always charities that are doing great work across the world in need of funding. Even if you can’t afford to give money, maybe volunteering a few hours to help them is an act of charity too. Smiling is a charity, helping an elderly neighbour, babysitting or helping out a friend or family member, so many possibilities.

There is so many more things we can all do to try to benefit the most from this month but don’t compare yourself to what others are doing. Allah knows what you are doing and He will not compare you to anyone. Do your best to take advantage of this Ramadan as the rewards are innumerous.

PS. Even if you are fasting you can still do all of these too! 🙂

I hope you find this beneficial and I hope you all have a wonderful Ramadan.